Village life

Lakeidra Chavis/Sun Star Editor-in-Chief
Sept. 17, 2013

Last fall, UAF opened the Sustainable Village which offers a more sustainable alternative to student housing. The Cold Climate Housing and Research center built the village during the summer of 2012.

There are four houses in the village, each built with different experimental things in it, such as wood pellet stoves and solar panels.  It costs $700 a month to live there. The goal is to see if sustainable living is possible given the extreme nature of Alaska.

When I started my sophomore year at UAF, I was looking for something different. The Sustainable Village offered a unique opportunity and challenge, so I applied. When the fall semester began, I started living in the village. This year will be my second year living there.

The first year had its ups and down. For example, all of the houses have water tanks. There were numerous times during the year when a water tank would start leaking or stop working completely. The night before my housemates and I were going to host the village’s first Thanksgiving dinner, our house’s vent froze over. Due to the frozen vent, all of the sewage backed up and well, the rest is kind of a shitty story.

Despite some less than pleasant experiences, there are opportunities that the village offers that students can’t get anywhere else  in campus housing. The village is designed in a way that requires the residents to work together. Every year, residents must choose to be part of a committee that deals with issues in the village or on campus. We are encouraged to apply for RISE grants to fund sustainable projects on campus and to be active members in the community.

Last spring semester, sustainable village residents participated in a three-month long seminar series where important leaders in the community discussed the role of sustainability  on our campus and Fairbanks community. Residents’ educational backgrounds are diverse, ranging from Psychology students to Electrical Engineers. The point of the village is to learn, and most importantly, to learn together.

Currently, the village is a joint-effort between CCHRC, the Office of Sustainability and Residence Life. The Office of Sustainability helps the village’s goals, as well as offering jobs to residents who are interested in working with them.

When I lived in Germany, it was the law to recycle and sustainability was heavily encouraged. Unlike Americans, most Europeans  view sustainability as more of a lifestyle than a fad. The village teaches a similar philosophy.

I encourage students to check it out, to get tours of the housing and learn how they were made, and see what it’s like living there. The village still has a long way to go in terms of organization but if recognized, has a lot of potential. It may be village life, but it should definitely be a campus experience.

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