With the 50th anniversary of Earth Day approaching in April 2020, James Madison University students should contemplate how we can implement the university’s mantra of “being the change” when it comes to our environmental impact. Whether making small or large changes, there is much we can do both individually and collectively right here on campus and in Harrisonburg.
After Bridgeforth Stadium, it’s possibly the most recognizable landmark for those driving through Harrisonburg on Interstate 81. The 120-foot wind turbine is perched on a ridge on the east side of the highway, its spinning, 33-foot blades propelled by the invisible breeze. What can’t be seen from the road is the force behind that specific turbine – a renewable energy advocacy organization that calls Harrisonburg home.
Part of Quakers’ beliefs include stewardship and – upon listening to the divine within themselves and others – the group began to feel a need to do something about climate destabilization. In 2014, they put out a statement to invite other religious groups and communities to make an effort toward reducing their carbon footprint on the environment. Having already done an energy audit on their meeting house, one member said, “Are we going to put our money where our mouth is?”
Rummaging through a bright yellow bucket filled with kale scraps, orange rinds and coffee grounds, Nidhi Vinod gives the go-ahead to dump the contents into a compost bin tucked into a corner of the parking lot by the Turner Pavilion downtown. She hands the bucket to Amelia Morrison who cleans it and places it back on the trailer which is attached to a bicycle. They grab the next bucket and check it for non-compostable items before adding it to the mix of kitchen scraps, fruit peelings, bio plastics and paper napkins.
The once-routine practice of appointing members of the Harrisonburg Electric Commission (HEC) attracted unusual attention this week, as some city residents raised concerns about transparency and the commission’s commitment to the city’s sustainability goals. As a result, on Tuesday night, the city council postponed action for a second month in a row on two appointments to the five-member commission that governs the city’s electric utility.