This spring break, I had the privilege of going on an Alternative Spring Break through the Center for Civic Engagement to a place in Washburn, Tennessee, called Narrow Ridge. Narrow Ridge is an Earth literacy center that serves as a teacher of sustainable living practices “off the grid” and is founded on the three principles of community, sustainability, and spirituality. I went with a group of eleven other CofC students and stayed in a solar powered lodge called Strawbale Lodge that had compost toilets and was heated with a wood stove. It is called strawbale lodge because the structure is made of compacted dried straw bales supported by a wood frame. The inside and outside walls are stuccoed and the straw bales serve as sustainable organic insulation- insulation that is often better than conventional building options.
While there, we learned what sustainable living really is about and how there is a totally viable, totally sustainable way of living that is an alternative to how we live now, and much better for the planet. We were able to eat vegan/vegetarian all week, we worked in an organic orchard and learned about farming and gardening practices that use natural processes to an agricultural advantage, we visited the community members of Narrow Ridge, we went on hikes, visited the natural burial preserve there, and participated in community led meditation and yoga.
This trip really illuminated for me how many aspects of my life are unsustainable that I hadn’t even given a second thought. It convinced me of the importance of a plant-based diet, of sustainable construction, of passive solar design, and of growing your own food and buying locally. When I grow up and become a real adult, I hope that I will not have forgotten these lessons and I will take them on into how I choose to live my life.
Here is the Narrow Ridge website, if you are interested in finding out more information: