Students canvass McMinnville to increase sustainability

Kelley Hungerford – Assistant editor. “The short equation is Linfield volunteers plus CFLs equals solar panels,” senior Duncan Reid, founder of Greenfield and organizer of the Compact Florescent Light Bulb Direct Install Program, said.
The formula isn’t rocket science: The four-hour install plans for student volunteers to light up McMinnville neighborhoods with energy-efficient, longer-lasting light bulbs. Students will canvass the community, asking to enter homes to replace traditional incandescent bulbs with the power- and money-saving type.
“It ties right into the colloquium theme of climate change and sustainability,” Reid said.
And community members aren’t the only ones benefiting from the program. For every installed light bulb, Linfield will receive $2 to fund the installment of solar panels as part of Northup Hall’s renovation.
Reid said McMinnville Water & Light, which supplies Linfield’s power and water, receives $4 credits from the Bonneville Power Administration, a Portland-based federal agency under the Department of Energy. MW&L uses the credits to buy $2 CFLs, which are given to Linfield at no charge. The extra $2 goes in the solar panel fund whenever a new light bulb is installed during the program.
“One of the unique things about this program that I don’t think a lot of people realize is that power companies don’t usually have relationships like this with colleges,” Reid said. “This is a very special thing that we have.”
Not only does the relationship provide Linfield with free light bulbs and sustainability funding, but the power company receives recognition, as well. In fact, MW&L won the 2009 Dan Moriarty Community Partner Award for its alliance with the college.
Reid said Wes Thomas, the company’s key accounts manager, approached him last fall about initiating the direct install program. They collaborated on smaller-scale direct installs; however, Reid said they were informal test runs and few volunteers showed up.
But 140 have already registered for the Sept. 26 event, nearing the organization’s goal of 200 volunteers.
If each of the 200 students installs 50 bulbs, then they will reach another goal: 10,000 installed light bulbs.
The program is also more organized than in the past, Reid said. All volunteers will get T-shirts and clipboards, making them look more official than your typical Saturday-morning college student.
Some students also distributed fliers to targeted communities earlier this week, and the News-Register is running an ad for the event in this week’s issue.
“We’re really trying to make it as easy for Linfield students to get into as many homes [to install light bulbs] as possible,” Reid said of the organization’s efforts. “I’d say people are generally accepting of the program, but there are those who don’t feel like trusting random people.”
Mostly, though, Reid said student and community reactions are positive.
“It’s really fun and funny to knock on random people’s doors and see what’s behind them,” he said.
And, while it’s intimidating at first, he said community members are receptive once students enlighten them to the fact that not only will they save money, but they get the new light bulbs for free.
“A lot of time community members will be very grateful,” Reid said.

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One Response to “Students canvass McMinnville to increase sustainability”

  1. Whitman symposium on community organizing: taking power out of the classroom » The Pioneer | Whitman news, delivered. on October 6th, 2009 11:03 pm

    […] That idea isn’t theirs alone but rather one that has been done at schools ranging from Linfield to Brown to […]

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