A project that’s brighter than the sun
October 2, 2009
Filed under The Rest
Chelsea Langevin -Senior reporter. It is far easier to recognize problems in the world than to create solutions.
However, senior Duncan Reid specializes in both.
Reid grew up in Portland and attended the Portland Waldorf School, which he said played a crucial role in shaping his strong convictions and moral obligations toward the world.
“I went to a very alternative school,” Reid said jokingly.
The school not only emphasizes community activism, it also strives to introduce its students to new, hands-on activities, such as knitting and folk dancing, according to its Web site.
Throughout high school, however, Reid said he lost sight of his passion for the community until the summer before college, when he decided to canvass neighborhoods in his hometown for Environment Oregon, a nonprofit organization that aims to protects Oregon’s natural resources.
“When I came to Linfield, I saw nothing was happening, so I just became inspired to do it,” Reid said.
Four years later, after starting Greenfield, a club instrumental to Linfield’s sustainability efforts, Reid is championing a new cause: installing solar panels in Northup Hall once it is restored.
The project is part of an in-depth independent study Reid has designed in conjunction with President Thomas Hellie in an effort to learn how nonprofits operate financially.
Reid received the Oregon Campus Compact award last spring for his civic engagement and work with the environment, Hellie said. Because of his work, Reid was nominated for a Newman Award, which awards a scholarship to a student to complete a project of his or her choice on the condition that the student works with his or her college’s president.
Although Reid did not receive the scholarship, he was still interested in pursuing his project on nonprofits, Hellie said.
“He wanted to learn more about finance because that’s important to nonprofits,” he said.
Because of Hellie’s experience working with the Kemper Foundation, a nonprofit that raises money to be distributed to colleges and universities, he has adequate experience to advise Reid, Hellie said.
“I miss having as many opportunities to work with students, so this was great,” he said.
In addition to reading five books on nonprofit organizations, writing a final paper and keeping a journal, Reid is tackling the challenge of finding where Linfield might obtain grant funds to install solar panels in Northup Hall.
The Sept. 26 Compact Fluorescent Direct Install Program was the first major initiative to raise funds for Reid’s project. For every new energy-efficient light bulb program participants installed, McMinnville Water & Light donated $2 to the school.
“My project is to make this initiative real,” he said.
Because solar panels would increase the energy efficiency of the building, the state would provide tax credits as a financial incentive to reduce energy use. However, because Linfield is a nonprofit organization, it cannot receive these tax credits, Reid said. The school can instead sell these credits to other businesses.
Reid said he sees his role in this project as laying the foundation for when Northup is eventually renovated.
“The college will ultimately be responsible for it,” he said. “Once I set it up, the project will be a coordination between the financial office and the renovation team.”
While the solar panels will not provide all of Northup’s energy, they will significantly reduce its energy demand, Reid said.
A mere four years ago, installing solar panels at Linfield seemed a distant dream for Reid. During his freshman year, while brainstorming the idea for Greenfield with a friend, Reid said they talked about solar panels as if they were nearly impossible to obtain.
“At that time it seemed so far from reality, and here I am my senior year doing it,” he said. “I didn’t realize that until just recently.”
Reid’s persistence and drive toward creating change can not be attributed solely to his upbringing or Waldorf school he attended but instead comes from an innate desire to please people.
“I think it stems from my want for people to be happy,” Reid said.
From living for and in the moment, Reid said he understands that the future has the potential to be bleak for generations to come, and we have the ability to change that for them.
“If we don’t make these changes, it will be a tough road for others down the line,” he said.