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MAY 29, 2010 • ISSUE 81

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Organizers of the Eco-Fair from left to right: Ashley O. Smith, Josh Wilson, Dora Pollak, Jhana Valentine, Professor David Fisher, Diana Yepez, and Anila Cunningham

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Eco vendors at the Eco-Fair

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Attendees of the Unconference share their ideas

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MUM students show guests the Edible Forest
(photo by Emanuel Schachinger)

10th Eco-Fair Focuses on Sustainable Communities

Over 200 people attended the 10th annual Eco-Fair on the weekend of April 30, at Maharishi University of Management. The Eco-Fair is a student-organized event designed to inspire and educate students and the community about the importance of sustainable practices.

This year’s theme was Sustainable Communities. John Collins, Sustainable Living faculty member and former director of the Sidha village in Skelmersdale, United Kingdom, opened the event.

Speakers included

  • Michelle Wilson, of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources
  • Diana Leafe Christian, author of two books on ecovillages
  • Julie Mandarino, MUM Ph.D. graduate and former psychology professor at Iowa Wesleyan College
  • Mike Nicklas, president of Innovative Design, one of America's foremost green architects, and the designer of our Sustainable Living Center
  • Mark Lakeman, founder of City Repair Project and Communitecture, a design firm in Portland, Oregon
  • Michael Cook, MUM Sustainable Living alumnus who spearheaded the placemaking process of 21 sites for the Village Building Convergence 2009.

The highlight of the weekend was the Eco-Jam fashion show, featuring outfits created from recycled materials designed and modeled by students and members of the community.

New this year was the Unconference, an interactive, self-organizing event in which participants chose topics under the theme of "How can we create a sustainable community where we live?" and organized the discussion themselves.

“This year’s theme is sustainable communities so we want to not only tell people about community but give them an experience of building a community,” said student organizer Ashley Olivia Smith.

Participants of the Unconference formed groups to discuss their ideas for projects such as MUM campus repair, technologies for energy self-sufficiency, and community development to make Fairfield a more attractive and unique place to live.

The campus repair project will first focus on developing the Edible Forest that permaculture students began planting earlier this spring. The garden, across from the Dreier Building, is designed to display self-sustainability and contains berry and nut bushes as well as edible flowers.

MUM is already making progress in another aspect of sustainability, reducing carbon emissions, by lowering utility consumption campus-wide, curtailing the use of natural gas through geothermal technology, and planning wind turbines and solar panels to reduce electricity usage.

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