Letter Box

Friday May 24, 2013

Innovative schools are here

Editor of the Reformer:

It was interesting to hear about the Innovative Schools Network (May 20). It sounds like these schools are trying to implement more personalized and responsive learning that has been a foundation of Compass School since its founding 14 years ago. Every child is unique and there is no one approach that works for every child. At the same time, as we’ve learned, every student benefits from a balance of teacher directed learning experiences and more student driven opportunities that allow individuals to pursue their interests. Through diverse experiences, every student can find times they shine and times they are stretched. Both are essential to the success of every child. We are fortunate in this region to have so many school options that offer this kind of personalized learning that may be considered innovate elsewhere.

Rick Gordon,


Compass School, May 20

Think about your urine

Editor of the Reformer:

Significant scientific experiments are taking place daily right here in Brattleboro. Connecting with the earth and engaging in the food nutrient cycle, young and old enthusiastic participants are part of the Rich Earth Institute’s project to put everyone in touch with the importance of sustainability on a very intimate level. As you may have read in Elizabeth Christie’s recent letter to the editor (May 15), the amount of water that is saved by an individual by not flushing the toilet averages 4,000 gallons per person annually. Since the cost of water consumption will affect your pocketbook locally (i.e., proposed rate increases in water bills in Brattleboro), you may want to continue reading.

Since The Rich Earth Institute’s inception in 2011, the number of local area human urine donors has increased from 60 to more than 150. Last summer, 600 gallons of pasteurized urine donated by local area residents was diluted with water and applied to test plots to see if, in fact, the diluted nitrogen and potassium-rich human urine, used as a fertilizer would have a positive effect upon the growth of hay. Carefully measured soil samples and hay samples were taken, and with the engagement of U.V.M,, USDA, and EPA scientists, analyses were carried out, leading to further research and testing. Presently, our goal is to collect 3,000 gallons by July 15.

This innovative, creative effort of scientific exploration is occurring right here in Brattleboro, including many young, well informed individuals, several of whom are products of our local schools. In addition, the group includes interns from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Antioch College and Yellow Springs (no pun intended) Ohio.

We extend an invitation to anyone interested in sustainability, basic scientific information gathering and out-of-the-box thinking to explore more in depth what is happening in those green, green pastures on yonder hill. The Rich Earth Institute will be participating in the Strolling of the Heifers and will have information at the Common as well as an opportunity to see and use a urine diverting toilet to accommodate your needs after the parade. You, too, can give generously of yourself. For more information, just Google our web-site at Rich Earth Institute or find us on Facebook.

Marion Abell and Peter Abell,

members of REI Board,

Brattleboro, May 17


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