Driving west from Van Wert, I observed hundreds of wind power installations. I'm curious to know how much energy they produce. Once you reach the state line of Indiana, there is no more wind power. Is Ohio more windy than Indiana? Hmmmmmmm.

My first destination was Sweetwater music on the outskirts of Fort Wayne. They are a huge mail order firm and I've bought many musical instruments and paraphernalia from them over the years. I was hoping to try out some keyboards in their showroom. I did so and that was great fun. However, the highlight of the trip was completely unexpected. It turns out that their facility is LEED PLATINUM, the highest such green designation of the USGBC (United States Green Building Council). It is the only such commercial building in Indiana. 

Delvin Wolf, my sales rep there for many years gave me a terrific tour. The campus features Google style recreation facilities, a huge automated warehouse, music studios, showrooms, an excellent cafeteria, a place where you can get haircuts, a fitness center, and a spectacular, state of the art theatre, as well as meeting rooms for workshops, company trainings, and other educational possibilities. Plus, they are expanding and will have a huge new addition ready to roll in a few weeks. The CEO, Chuck Surack, is clearly a very innovative and progressive business man.

The geen features are impressive. They include a very interesting cooling system that involves making ice, storing it, and then using it to cool the building. The materials are all non-toxic, recycled, and mainly locally sourced. The air and light flow is outstanding. I was similarly impressed with all of the building signage. There are numerous interpretive displays that clearly and attractively explain how and why the building is green. A building tour is an education in sustainability. Congratulations to the Sweetwater folks for helping to lead the way!

I departed Sweetwater and departed North to Grand Haven, Michigan where I am visiting my friend Mark Van Putten, the former CEO of the National Wildlife Federation and now the principal of Conservation Strategy. We took a short bike ride around town and out on a few jetties, a great introduction to Stupendous Lake Michigan. We plan a longer ride this morning and pictures will follow in tomorrow's posting.  

See below for a few pictures of Sweetwater. First comes the automated warehouse.



Lots of boxes moving around conveyor belts, all carrying musical equipment!



Green signage.


The showroom area comes next


And finally the theater.



Mitch Thomashow

Thomashow devotes his life and work to promoting ecological awareness, sustainable living, creative learning, improvisational thinking, social networking, and organizational excellence. Currently he is engaged in teaching, writing, and executive consulting, cultivating opportunities and exchanges that transform how people engage with sustainability and ecological learning. In August, 2011 Thomashow became Director of the Second Nature Presidential Fellows Program. This new program is designed to assist the executive leadership of colleges and universities in promoting a comprehensive sustainability agenda on their campuses. Fellows provide executive consulting on climate action planning, long-range financial planning, organizational leadership, curricular implementation, and community investment. From 2006-2011, Thomashow was the president of Unity College in Maine. With his management team, he integrated concepts of ecology, sustainability, natural history, wellness, participatory governance, and community service into all aspects of college and community life. This included construction of The Unity House, the first LEED Platinum President’s Residence in North America, and the TeraHaus, a passive house student residence, as well as comprehensive campus energy planning, an integrated approach to growing food on campus, and a new academic master plan. Previously from 1976-2006, Thomashow was the Chair of the Environmental Studies program at Antioch University New England. He founded an interdisciplinary environmental studies doctoral program and worked collaboratively to grow and nourish a suite of engaging Masters programs, geared to working adults. Thomashow is the founder of Whole Terrain, an environmental literary publication, originating at Antioch University New England, and “Hawk and Handsaw,” a journal of creative sustainability, published at Unity College. He serves on the boards of Orion Magazine and The Coalition on Environmental and Jewish Life (COEJL). Thomashow is a founding organizer of the Council of Environmental Deans and Directors (CEDD), a national organization that supports interdisciplinary environmental studies in higher education. He provides ongoing consultation to the Sustainable Endowments Institute and their new Billion Dollar Green Challenge program. His two books have significantly influenced environmental studies education. Ecological Identity: Becoming a Reflective Environmentalist (The MIT Press, 1995) offers an approach to teaching environmental education based on reflective practice—a guide to teachers, educators and concerned citizens that incorporates issues of citizenship, ecological identity, and civic responsibility within the framework of environmental studies. Bringing the Biosphere Home, (The MIT Press, 2001) is a guide for learning how to perceive global environmental change. It shows readers that through a blend of local natural history observations, global change science, the use of imagination and memory, and philosophical contemplation, you can learn how to broaden your spatial and temporal view so that it encompasses the entire biosphere. His essay (2010), “The Gaian Generation: A New Approach to Environmental Learning” provides provocative new concepts for teaching about global environmental change. Another essay (2012) “Where You At 2.0” reasserts the relevance of bioregionalism for digital age learners. A recent essay (2013),“Sustainability as Turnaround” is a case study of his work as president at Unity College. with mandolin.png His new book, The Nine Elements of a Sustainable Campus (The MIT Press) provides a framework for advancing sustainable living and teaching in a variety of campus environments. It will be available in January, 2014. Thomashow is currently working on two writing, networking, and teaching projects. Improvisational Excellence suggests that improvisation emulates the patterns and processes of the biosphere. It’s a series of essays linking play, music, and observing nature to the paths of everyday living. It is the philosophical basis for Thomashow’s workshops on global environmental change, music and nature, and ecological perception. Wilson’s Library is a series of prose poems depicting extraordinary moments during the history of life on earth. Thomashow lives in the hill country of southwest New Hampshire in the shadow of Mount Monadnock. He loves to explore the fields, forests, wetlands, hills, and lakes of Northern New England where you can often find him on his bicycle. His recreational interests include basketball, baseball, board games, jazz piano, electronic keyboards, musical composition and recording, guitars, hiking, and lake swimming.