Common Ground opens Eco-Lodge

STARKSBORO - After days of record rain, the sky opened up and set the scene for a Celebration of Sustainability: Innovative Ideas in Action at Common Ground Center, a nonprofit family camp and retreat center inStarksboro. The Common Ground site is located near Hogback Mountain.

Upon the completion of its new Eco-Lodge, Common Ground invited Bill McKibben, author, environmental activist, and scholar at Middlebury College and David Blittersdorf, CEO, and founder of green energy company AllEarth Renewables.

"Making sustainable choices has always been a part of our mission," said Jim Mendell, one of Common Ground's founders. Peg Kamens, also a founder, added, "Our site needs to demonstrate our commitment to the environment. Through our green building practices, solar power, and low carbon footprint we set an example for the hundreds of families that attend our programs each year."

McKibben echoed these points during the dedication ceremony-"These solar panels will not only help heat the hot water of this place, but will also educate all of the people that come through here every year and show them that it's entirely possible to be doing it, and remind them to be doing it, on their own places all over the world."

Over 200 people attended the event, pausing to admire and explore the new Eco-Lodge and it's innovative design.

The common room of the Eco-Lodge was filled with representatives from organizations involved in Common Ground's development over the years. Vendors at the event included everything from the practical and the unusual-Perkins/Smith (builders of Eco-Lodge), Colibri Architects (designers), Yestermorrow Design Build School, Lewis Creek Association, and a table about non-violent communication.

Children took part in an interactive performance with the Association of Vermont Recyclers; brick-oven pizza was made on site, with local ingredients, and satisfied visitors' appetites.

A large percentage of the Common Ground site-560 acres-was presented to the Vermont Land Trust; it will never be developed and was cause for additional celebration by visitors.

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