One of the best things about living in Corvallis is the number of people who are working for change. We have Mr. Eager (yup, Eager), a retired OSU professor whose wife remembers pre-war Germany, who is interested in solar energy. So, they set up a two different systems of the roof of the passive solar house they built in the early nineteen seventies, to test which was more efficient on rainy days. If you visit, you can climb up to a rickety viewing platform to examine the panels closely, then drop down to the garage and see his records. And he’s considered fairly normal around here. Last Sunday, Mark and I hung out with two Corvallis radicals, each working on the local level for global change.
First, we rode over to Jonathan’s house to see his new rainwater catchment system. Jonathan is so far ahead of the curve, he gives early adopters inspiration. A born tinkerer and engineer, he built a solar bike light a few years back because he could. His house is a model of sustainable living. First, it’s pretty darn small—about seven hundred square feet, with a garden in the back yard. Jonathan was one of the first in town to install light tubes and LEDs, to build a solar electric system to sell energy back to the company, to turn off his answering machine when he came home. He has solar hot water, runs his truck off of solar panels on the garage roof, and just decided to store some rainwater. It’s a cool system. One thousand gallon tank in the front of the house and two one hundred and fifty gallon tanks on the side. The plumbing is fairly straightforward—gutters direct the rain into the tanks-- but he has a leaf catcher and a first flush system so that what lands in the tanks is fairly clean. Then he assembled an aerator to keep the water from growing stagnant. It runs off of a solar panel on the roof and has all of it’s parts in a hand-made wooden box he found at Goodwill. All of the tanks are interconnected, so, as the big one fills, they all fill. And he just added a “leveler”, which is a weight hanging outside of the tanks to indicate water level. They were about a quarter full when we visited. We left feeling both very impressed and way behind the curve.
The same day, we went out to Sunbow Farm for dinner. Harry, who was one of the founding members of Oregon Tilth and just ended a stint on the Board, is working on GMOs in the Willamette Valley, as well as The Bean and Grain Project, experimenting with what beans and grains will grow here as the climate changes. The talk at dinner was the GMO fight. They are putting forth a ballot measure for Benton County that gives rights to nature and takes way the rights of agricultural corporations. (Check out Benton County for Community Rights for more info!) Biologists, and farmers, and writers were all thinking about how and why to ban GMOs locally. Interesting work and dinner conversation.
At the end of the day, I felt pretty thankful to be living here and now, in the Willamette Valley, in Interesting, and challenging, Times. There is a great deal fundamentally awry in the world, but I am surrounded by people who, rather than despairing, are leading the way in working for change. AND I get to eat dinner with them.
Cook three cups of spilt peas in eight cups of water for several hours. The crockpot works really well for this!
Coarsely chop and add:
Season with: cumin, allspice, salt, pepper, and thyme.
Cook for another hour or so. You could puree it, but I don’t. Eat with sturdy bread and salad. For Days.