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Delicate Balance Projects

GMC's capstone course, A Delicate Balance, culminates in a project that combines a student’s academic area of focus with civic engagement. Students take the lead on the projects from beginning to end, and many have made a lasting impact on campus and in the community. The following are some recent examples.

Public Art as a Means of Social and Economic Change
Carlie Guinane
The Green Mountain College Native Flower Mural Project was designed in the spring semester of 2014. Guinane wanted to create a project that would include more art on campus. She honed in on stencil art and urban mural art. She created five stencils of native flowers and sent them along with a proposal to the College’s Land Use Committee. She chose the north exterior wall of Moses Hall as the place for the mural. After receiving approval from the Land Use Committee, she met with Facilities Director, Bill Ballard, in order to discuss materials and the state of the space. With his support, she painted the material in the Spring of 2014. Funding of $100 came from Student Senate to buy the materials.

Organic Certification for Cerridwen Farm
Brian Shevrin
The aim of this Delicate Balance project was to achieve the status of “Certified Organic” for Green Mountain College’s Cerridwen Farm. In order to obtain this certification, research was done on organic standards and current farm practices to identify areas in need of change. Students and other interested parties were contacted in order to assess whether the community as a whole desires organic certification for the farm. Certifying agents were also contacted. The research spanned the areas of environmental effects of organic agriculture, and organic as a marketing concept.

Timber Frame Bike Shelter
Adam Zais & Taylor Herman
For their delicate balance project, Zais and Herman proposed and received a $10,000 SCGF grant to fund the construction of a timber frame bike shelter. The shelter was built in order to promote carbon-neutral transportation around campus and the wider Poultney community. It provides a central location to store bicycles covered from the rain and snow. The actual construction of the shelter was incorporated into an intensive class run through the REED program in order to provide students with hands-on experience in building simple post and beam structures. All materials for the bike shelter were locally sourced, such as the slate for the slate roof.

Managing Student Loan Debt
Brittany McGrath
McGrath created a guide for higher education students which outlines the important aspects of student loans. Through extensive research, McGrath gathered what she believes are the most fundamental key terms students should know and understand. The information in this booklet ranges from the types of loans available to students to the types of payment plans available when the time comes to pay off their loans. McGrath worked with the Career Services Department at Green Mountain College.

Stop the Hate: How to Reduce Bullying in School Systems
Dakota Steele
Due to the increase in bullying within the Poultney elementary school, the group created an anti-bullying workshop where students from the elementary school learned about bullying, prevention strategies, and how to minimize bullies within their school. Studies suggest there is a lower chance of bullying when schools incorporate workshops that provide students and teachers with the knowledge to combat the bullying epidemic. School systems would also benefit from having workshops on confidence, body positivity, past experiences, and diversity to eliminate the strategies bullies use. Bullying has short and long term impacts on the victims, bullies, and bystanders resulting in the need for prevention.

St. Baldrick’s Foundation Fundraiser
Jack Hepburn
For this project Hepburn teamed up with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which is a national nonprofit organization which allows people to host volunteer fundraising events. An event of two parts was planned. First a dodgeball tournament was held, with an entrance fee for all participants. All proceeds from the tournament went to childhood cancer research. The second aspect of the event was head shaving. A haircutter came to the event and shaved heads to promote solidarity within the childhood cancer community. Most of the shavees were sponsored by people who donated on their behalf. In total the event raised $2,605, and 14 people shaved their heads.

Keith Torrico
Eco-spots are comprised of wall-mounted picture brackets sized to fit a standard 81/2 x 11 in. letter sized paper that will hold up-to-date energy and waste community conservation messages. This project was picked in order to help the sustainability office in their efforts to create conservation behavior and awareness within the community at the College, and to educate future leaders and community members, a key mission of Green Mountain College.

Using Nutrition Education as a Mechanism to Improve Health and Wellness
Kristina Seitler
A paper survey was distributed randomly to students (n=143), evaluating BMI, diet, physical activity and perceptions of health within the student body at Green Mountain College. By having a baseline for GMC student health, the College can track how health changes over time, and find ways to improve overall health in and after college

Tunes for Tots: A Benefit Concert Series for Public Music Education
Scott Pendleton
Public music education is in dire risk across the country. With shrinking education budgets, the arts are often the first programs to be cut. This is often because there is a lack of awareness about the potential benefits the arts provide, especially to childhood development. Numerous studies point to the cognitive, non-cognitive and social benefits of music education. Pendleton’s strategy for addressing this issue was to use a music event aimed at adults to both raise money and awareness within the town of Poultney, VT. It was also meant to be a prototype event for, what could be in the future, a larger organization that can host similar events for the same cause.

Racism: A Pervasive Social Construction with a Tenacious Hold on Contemporary US Society
Titania A. Green
The 2008 election of the first African-American president resulted in the assertion that the U.S is a post-racial society. Though this phrase has become prevalent throughout social media, critical examination of modern society demonstrates otherwise. To challenge the notion that the U.S is post-racial, an upper-level undergraduate course titled “Race in Contemporary U.S. Society” was designed. This course will provide an introduction to race theory, explore the unconscious habits of racial privilege, and investigate examples of racism in contemporary U.S. society. In this analysis, the concept of race as a social reality used to perpetuate discrimination against people of color is examined from philosophical and historical perspectives.

Campaign to Ban the Sale of Bottled Water on Campus
Andrea Roebuck
This project aimed to ban GMC and vendors from selling bottled water on the Poultney campus. Andrea’s (“Dre”) research uncovered important negative environmental and economic impacts of bottled water. Not only is bottled water more expensive for students than owning a reusable water bottle, but it also results in the waste of numerous plastic bottles and supports a culture of water being treated like a commodity. To raise awareness about the issue, Dre held a blind taste-testing event in Withey, where students, staff, and faculty were asked to try to tell the difference between bottled water and tap water and indicate which one they prefer. Most of the time, they could not tell the difference, and although there wasn’t a strong preference either way, slightly more people preferred tap water. Dre gathered 168 signatures supporting a ban, while working with the Sustainability Office, Auxiliary Services, Chartwells and the Chief Financial Officer to implement the ban. The ban went into effect in August of 2014.

Killington Shuttle Project
Kasia Wright and Conor Hayes
This project aimed to incorporate a shuttle for the Killington campus to and from the Main Campus in Poultney and to and from the Highridge Campus in order to save students money and protect the environment. This project make transportation easier for students with and without vehicles as well as provide a safe method for them to travel the 60 miles to and from main campus. It will also decrease the College’s carbon footprint, as well as create a culture at the Lodge that is cognizant of socio-economic sustainability.

Pottery for Hunger Project
Marissa Rozanski
For this project, Rozanski made and sold pottery to raise money for the Poultney Food Shelf. The goal was to raise $200 or more, which translates into 600 meals for hungry families over the holiday season.

Community Service Incentive Plan
Nicole Czemerda
This project aimed to create a community service incentive plan to be implemented at The Lodge for the Killington School of Resort Management at Green Mountain College. The goal was to incentive students to become active in taking care of the building by helping with the maintenance. Maintenance includes cleaning the public rooms, maintaining the appearance of the outside of the building, completing special projects that need to be done to the building, or helping at events dealing with the College. This plan will help the students up at The Lodge learn responsibility and how important it is to keep this building in a respectable state.

Sustainable Signage Project
Timothy Daniels and Korey Kubricki
In an effort to better their surroundings at the GMC Killington Campus, the group took on the task of making effective and noticeable signage for sustainable behavior. The group believed there was an inadequate system for reminding students to be conscious of their energy usage, recycling habits, and other sustainability practices. Therefore, they tackled a signage campaign to bridge the gap between conscious thoughts and sustainable actions.

Center of the Plate Imitative
Cynthia Cordova, Ben Stein, Michael Sharry
The Center of the Plate Initiative was founded in July of 2012. Its constitution is centered on community building & student involvement. The imitative is now the premier connection between Chartwells Dining Services & GMC students. Its objectives involve event planning, educational workshops & advocating for nutrition awareness. Through the collaborative efforts of Ben Stein, Cynthia Cordova and Michael Sharry, three major projects were completed for the advancement of moving local foods to the center of the plate. Stein worked on creating an infrastructure for the diet dash board that will track food miles, food sourcing, and nutritional facts about the food served in the dining hall. Michael worked on carrying out bi-weekly workshops that involved students with local food and food production. Cordova hosted a The Farmer’s Dinner to connect local farmers that provide food for Chartwells with the GMC students who eat that food.

Ceramics and its Impact on a Community
Lizzie Helbig
Helbig’s project included making a ceramic tile mural on the cement ramp outside of Dunton. The purpose of the mural was to repurpose otherwise unwanted ceramic projects from students and also to bring a sense of cohesive community to the Green Mountain campus. Her research focused on the environmental impact of the ceramics industry and the effect of art on communities. Repurposing unwanted projects, that would otherwise be thrown away, into a piece of public art that aims to bring the community together gives new significance to “trash” items. This is community art done sustainably.

A Poultney Skate Park
Joshua Jones
The Poultney Skate Park project aimed to get a skate park built in Poultney, VT. This would help to create a safe space for skating that protects the College’s property and pedestrians. It would also give teens a place to go where they could be physically active and away from drugs and alcohol. Jones’ research focused on the social/motivational benefits and environmental impacts of materials of other skate parks in order to assure that this park could be maintained sustainability.

The Future Generations Voice
Kaitlyn Grant and Sarah Krenicki
Grant and Krenicki worked with the Dream program and the fourth grade students at Poultney Elementary school for an Earth Day project. The fourth grade students made stories on their views of the community in Poultney, Vermont and stories on the environment. In these stories these students talked about what they liked and disliked about Poultney and what they could do to help improve the community. Also, these students talked about what they like most about the environment and what they do can to help protect it. Grant and Krenicki displayed the stories and the drawings at the Earth day Fair at Poultney High School in April. Not only did they display the stories and drawings, but they also provided free seeds with child friendly instructions as to how to plant and care for seeds.

The Sustainability Hub: Using Policy Directives to Socially Transform Green Mountain College into an Engine of Change
Kristen Friedel and Molly Miller
Friedel and Miller-White developed a student organization specifically committed to showcasing the environmental and social sustainability actions of the school. The student organization aims to maintain a “sustainability hub” that displays the actions of the College through monthly releases of sustainability stories. Stories will include visual and linguistic displays of campus action that is either in progress or completed. Each of the stories will focus on a specific topic including, but not limited to: waste production and diversion, biomass facility impacts, GMC’s use of local food, energy usage on campus, service-learning projects, community arts, and so on. The purpose of this sustainability hub is not only to advance the goals of the College, but also to get more people involved.

Art in the Community
Marijo Bineault and Kaitlin Rogers
The purpose of this project was to bring art into the community in Poultney. The group teamed up with Logan Patandaude from LiHigh School as well as Brianna King, a GMC Graduating Senior, and Erica Gould, a Green Mountain transfer student. They took on the mission of creating a mural on the outer wall of the Stone Valley Market. Together they created a design. Patandaude created a written mission statement that was refined and edited by the group. Then they created a detailed budget list that included everything that would be needed to complete the mural such as paint, brushes, ladders, primer, sealant, etc. The mural was completed in 2013.

Slate Patio and Fire Pit
Melody Baumhover
The College’s natural area and riparian zones are vital to the river and watershed ecology. Unfortunately, unsustainable fire practices and littering are damaging these valuable areas. Further, community members are distanced from accessing the river due to its unsafe conditions, such as broken glass and excessive erosion caused by overuse. To curb excessive use of the river, Baumhover proposed and began construction on a slate patio and fire pit outside of the river buffer zone. The plan incorporated ecological design techniques and allowed for large fires, campfire cooking, seating, and trash disposal. This area will benefit the students, the ecology of the natural area, and the community.

Helping Native Pollinators with Mason Beehives
Antonina DiNatale and Whitney Rose
This project is first and foremost aimed at providing native pollinators (mason bees) with a suitable healthy living environment. This is a significant issue because we rely greatly upon pollinators for pollinating about one third of the food we consume in our diets, and unfortunately in recent years, Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has been wiping out one critical pollinator- the honeybee. The good news is that honeybees are not the only successful pollinator- mason bees are vital pollinators as well. Therefore with this project, the group worked to encourage the survival of more native pollinators like the mason bee. This was accomplished through the design and creation of mason beehives placed on the farm.

Accessible Garden and Curriculum Design
Angela Baglione
The goal of this project was to design an accessible garden space and accompanying curriculum for the students at the South Shore Educational Collaborative (SSEC) in Hingham, Massachusetts. Baglione wrote an annual production plan and drew up a garden design that accounts for accessibility concerns while maximizing the potential area of the garden. She also outlined a complete budget and wish list for the project, with funding expected from the school’s existing budget.

Promoting a Queer-Friendly Campus
Codie Tedford
Inspired by Green Mountain College's review on the Campus Pride Index , this project had three focal points: One, to add “gender identity and expression” to the school's Policy of Non-Discrimination, both in official documents and on the website; Two, develop and institute a one-step record-change process for transgender students with and without legal record changes; Three, revise the school's review on the Campus Pride Index.

The Yin Yang Project
Matt Eule and Frank Kopp
The project aimed to provide an area that students from the Green Mountain community could use for meditative purposes. Eule and Kopp sustainably created this project by using slate around campus that had been deemed unusable by maintenance. The slate was re-arranged using the different red and green colors to form a yin yang shaped-pattern. This yin yang is about eight feet in diameter and contains two large slate pieces that provide the most comfortable areas for sitting.

Local on the Menu: Expanding The Coffee House’s Menu to Include Local Food
Jennifer McKanna and Lily Bradburn
The purpose of this project was to expand The Coffee House’s menu to include local food. McKanna, Bradburn, The Coffee House staff, Dave Ondria, and Cindy Ondria worked together closely to find local food companies and businesses to buy from. The group also researched menu items to either modify or add, so that options reflected the food values of the Green Mountain College campus.

Raw Milk Dairy Day in Vermont
Johanna Douglas
Douglas organized a Raw Milk Dairy Day in Vermont on Saturday, October 27, 2012, where she asked farmers from raw milk dairy farms across the state to open up their farms to visitors for the day. The ten Vermont farms that participated in the event were Cerridwen Farm (Poultney), Earthwise Farm (Bethel), Hazen Monument Farm (East Hardwick), Hollister Hill Farm (Marshfield), Jersey Girls Dairy (Chester), New Village Farm (Shelburne), Taylor Farm (Londonderry), Trevin Farms (Sudbury), Wayward Goose Farm (West Pawlet), and Windy Corners Farm (Charlotte). The farmers provided tours of their farms, answered questions, invited visitors to interact with the animals, and encouraged visitors to watch a milking. The visitors learned about producing raw milk while connecting with their local farmers.

Teaching the Voting Process to Sixth Grade Students
Luisa Romano, Leslie Clarke, and Tracy Hewitt
The focus of the project was to teach the electoral process to students at Poultney Elementary School in the context of the 2012 Presidential Election. The goal was to inspire the students to be active and informed citizens. The project consisted of going into Mr. Herrington’s sixth grade classes to teach lessons on the voting process. To prepare for these lessons, Romano, Clarke, and Hewitt did research on how to teach this topic effectively and to insure that the group had an accurate understanding of the topic. They taught two lessons to the entire sixth grade class over the course of several weeks.

Learning Disability and Accommodations: Increasing Text-to-Speech Accessibility at Green Mountain College
Oscar Hughes
At Green Mountain College, Calhoun Learning Center provides accommodations to students with learning disabilities. Some students use assistive technology that reads books and documents out loud. These technologies can translate PDFs from text to speech only if the documents are in a specific format. Many of the documents that are being uploaded into moodle are not text-to-speech compatible. Hughes rescanned and formatted the PDFs in the Images of Nature master folder because he knew that many students would be required to read them. Brenton Dupee, GMC’s Educational Technology Specialist, helped Hughes make the scans high quality.

Social Media Unplug Challenge and Workshop
Ryan Laymon, Taylor Conley, Tyler Lawson
The group’s mission was to encourage people to be more aware of both the positive and negative effects of plugged socializing (any non-face-to-face communication, i.e.: texting, email, and social networking cites). To achieve this, they asked students to take the challenge of turning off their phones, not using social networking sites, and not emailing for a day. Through the challenge, the group hoped participants would see the difference when they met in person with the people they wished to interact with rather than relying on impersonal technological devices. At the end of the day a workshop was held in the Coffee House. The workshop consisted of a number of activities: a trivia contest in which people had to answer questions about their Facebook friends only using Facebook as a resource; an open discussion regarding the benefits and detriments of plugged communication; a briefing on conversation skills to encourage deeper conversations; and a couple of brief, contrasting media clips to further elucidate plugged versus unplugged communication.

Sustainable Music for Sustainable Students (And the Environment)
Zoë Biehl
Eighteen recordings of GMC students’ music were compiled into an album and made available online to download as an MP3—people who choose to download the album may donate money which goes directly to the music department. The album can be found here. Research consisted of how community music can benefit individuals and communities as a whole, and how the internet has influenced and revolutionized the way the world accesses, distributes, shares, and creates music.

Reducing Waste in the RHM Lodge
Yannick Gomes, Tony Mercadante and Emma Ryon
For this project, the group aimed to reduce the amount of material waste in the RHM lodge (Resort & Hospitality Management Lodge at Green Mountain College). Through their research, they were able identify three major areas that could be adjusted to produce less waste. Yannick researched commercial composting for his project. Tony researched the effects and feasibility of recycling at large scale resorts. Emma researched the effect of BPA on humans and the irreversible damage of plastic waste.

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