Science Workshop: Arsenic in Vermont’s Groundwater Resource and the Connection between Geology and Public Health

At next week’s Science Workshop, Dr. Peter Ryan of Middlebury College will be discussing the fascinating issue of natural Arsenic contamination in Vermont’s groundwater.

“Arsenic is a naturally occurring trace element in the natural environment, and in some regions geological factors have conspired to create elevated arsenic concentrations in the rocks and sediments that host groundwater. Research over the past ten years by the Vermont Geological Survey, the Vermont Department of Health and Middlebury College has revealed that certain parts of the state are prone to elevated arsenic in bedrock aquifers – these include parts of the Taconic slate region, the Rowe‐Hawley Belt in north‐central Vermont and parts of Windsor County in the vicinity of a granitic intrusion. This talk will explore geological, topographic and hydrological controls on ground water arsenic in the complex geological landscape of Vermont and also reflect on recent changes to public policy as a result of scientific research.”

The talk will start at 1:00pm on Friday, November 16th in Dickinson 225.

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Environmental Studies at Bennington: who we are and who to talk to

If you’re interested in environmental studies at Bennington, here’s some information that should be useful to you.

The academic side — curriculum development, and oversight of student Plans — is coordinated by a ‘Faculty Program Group’.  The group includes about 15 faculty members from many disciplines (check the ‘courses’ tab here; many of them are offering environmentally themed class for spring 2013).  Kerry Woods is coordinating the group right now.

Kaya Lovestrand is the environmental studies representative to SEPC; be in touch with her with ideas, input, questions for SEPC, for the Faculty Program Group, etc.

There are also, of course, student groups and other initiatives related to environmental issues that aren’t formally related to either the Program Group or SEPC, but we hope we can use this website to connect all of these undertakings and people as well as to provide other useful information.  If you have suggestions for the website, contact Kerry Woods or the student website manager who’ll be listed here very soon.

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Regional events that you might be interested in…

Slow Living Summit – Brattleboro, VT, May 30th – June 2nd, 2012

… “Slow Living” implies  being mindful of impacts on the environment, on Earth, and on communities; and it incorporates resilience – our ability to “bounce back” from the consequences of climate change, resource depletion and other changes and stresses (from website.

This conference will include a series of over fifty workshops on everything from energy, to agriculture, to building community and much more.  Speakers include Senator Bernie Sanders and Governor Shumlin, as well as a number of distinguished activists and authors.

for more information, see the event’s website.

New England Environmental Justice Forum – Worchester, MA, June 9, 2012

Free day of workshops on environmental activism and community building.  Topics will include urban and rural issues, food justice and energy.  Event will conclude with a special listening session with local policy makers, and a discussion about the formation of a more formalized environmental justice network for New England.

Registration closes May 28th.  For more information and to register, see their website.

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Breadmaking and Co-op Launching – Sunfest 2012

Over this past weekend for Sunfest, the Eco-Reps lent a hand to the Bennington Sustainable Food Project, to bake bread for the opening of the brand-new co-op cart, or “coop.”  The BSFP has been working on starting a student-run co-op for over a year, and this represents a major step towards having an established and visible presence on campus.

The Eco-Reps participated in this exciting event by baking bread, and donating it to the co-op’s efforts, along with butter made by hand at Sunfest.  The Eco-Reps also had a table with tips on how to live an environmentally sustainable lifestyle, and about the activities that they engage in here on campus.

The event was fun, and hopefully informative.  Congratulations to the BSFP on their new cart, which will be having its first formal day this Saturday, at 2:00 in front of the library.  Come and support their efforts by buying a cookie or drink.  All proceeds will go to the BSFP to support the co-op and student farm.

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Flowers at the Farmer’s Market a Success


In celebration of Earth Day, a group of students, myself included, has a lovely time at the winter farmer’s market, planting sunflower seeds in pots with children.   We provided the seeds, pots, soil, water, and tags for painting with names and colors.  We engaged with as many people, young and old, gifting the potential for a magnificent Russian Mammoth Sunflower.  All in all, we gave away a few dozen sunflowers to the public.  We hope that they will keep them well sunned and watered, and that the summer will see at least a few of our sunflowers grow to glorious maturity.

Thanks to all those who participated!

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