Updates: Including A SUMMER INTERNSHIP WITH US if you want it!

Hi Wesleyan! Remember that we exist?! We’re still here! Hi! 

Since Wesleyan grounds were in a perpetual state of Ice on Tundra until break, we haven’t gotten to get our hands dirty and doin’ stuff at either the Summerfields or WestCo sites this spring. So it has been somewhat of a  s l o w  spring semester out-of-doors, but man are plans a-plenty in our cave (the UOC for group meetings) and with Adults in real chairs as we giddily prepare for the spring and summer additions! Most relevant at this time and probably most important is the recent meeting we had with the Green Building Committee this past Tuesday about our spring and summer project proposals.

The meeting went well! 

The highlights:
Summerfields terraces will be planted with bushes, flowers, herbs, ferns, and more starting this spring and into the summer.
WestCo will have planting remediation done and new plants added (trees! and the things mentioned above), also starting this spring and into the summer. Additionally, we’ll be attaining/building/modifying/scavenging seating elements for the social space to make the social space of WestCo a real social space. Cool!

That’s just a brief summation of some of the rad meeting notes (we’re so excited), but let me get to this next part here.

SO ON THE SUBJECT OF SUMMER: that internship part you wanted to see. 

Any of you kids still (understandably) scrounging around for a job or, rather, if you just haven’t found one you really want — which I am sure is the case — Boy do I have some good news for you! 

We have an internship position available for a minimum of one person and a max of two people to join me (Rina Kremer, if you need to FB stalk) and Eli McClintock-Shapiro this summer planting plants and planning plants and planning plans and planting those plans! And doing some of that infrastructural stuff for the social space in WestCo. Which is an idea that doesn’t really work into the previous sentence’s theme, but it needed to be mentioned. 
Long story short, we’re going to be planting a lot of plants. So if you like plants. And planting them. All kinds of plants. 

– What would the summer with WILD Wes look like?
You have direct say in what goes onto and into these permanent sites on Wesleyan’s campus. 
A plethora of time outside. It’s hard to imagine now, but it gets absolutely beautiful here in CT in the summer.
As mentioned in the meeting highlights, those things. (Planting a heck-ton and building/putting together the social space of WestCo.) 
Plant research and sourcing.
Documentation of the sites’ current, past, and future state. These things are important, and will influence the future of WILD Wes!
If you dun’ good, the potential for leadership positions within the forum or student group in the following year(s).
It is, indeed, paid. (But that’s not a deciding factor, right?)

 

– Who’re we looking for?
Someone who will be available for the entirety of the summer. Give or take a week. I mean you can’t actually spend an extra week of the summer here because I do not know where you’d find that, but you know what I mean.
It’d be ideal, of course, to have someone who has some kind of E&ES/ENVS/outside-conventional-academic-setting-acquired knowledge of plants/irrigation(?)/landscaping/related miscellanea.
But what is *most* important is enthusiasm, a willingness to learn and take direction while also giving their own inputs, a strong and motivated work ethic, a positive attitude, a love of working outside no matter the hot hot heat and kind of coldish rain (it still happens sometimes, and also sometimes there are bugs) and someone who will stay with the WILD Wes team in the coming fall and beyond. This is perhaps most important. Ya know, a real “team player”. Not just a fun summer job-thing for the outdoors- and physical labor-inclined, though it’s also that, but someone who is looking for this to be their jumping-off point to get involved and invested in WILD Wes. So even if you haven’t been around before, to any degree whatsoever at all, but are looking to get into it, I really do encourage you to still email me. I’m already excited that you’re interested. Or that hopefully at least one of you skimming this is. WILD Wes kids are really great kids, and I hope that you’ll join the team! (Maybe we’ll make forest green tanks with out last names on the back. WILD Wes Summer ’14. Because that’d validate us as a real team, right? Not that we need that validation. But I’m always down for commemorative T-shirts.)

To cut this off abruptly but necessarily since the important points have already been made at least once, for those of you interested in the summer internship or have any inquiries otherwise, you can reach me here: rkremer@wesleyan.edu!

PS Look out for the Saturday workdays to kick off here soon for the spring! Best way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Not kidding.
We’ll let you know.

Love,
Rina 

WILD WES FORUM TIME

Because I’m too lazy to re-write this and also (more importantly) there’s no reason to, here’s Manon’s blurb about the student forum and the INTEREST MEETING THIS WEDNESDAY (1/29) AT 7PM in the UOC:

Here’s a student forum opportunity directly related to WILD Wes — Will Wiebe and I are offering a course, Building Resilient Landscape Systems: The Intersection of Deep Ecology and Sustainable Landscape Design (ENVS 420), for credit in the Environmental Studies department. This course will be a combination of landscape ecology, learning the principles of landscape architecture and design, learning about native plants, and an on-the-ground component designing two campus spaces, including the beginning of implementation of designs in April. We will also take field trips to homesteading and permaculture projects in the Northeast, and hear from a variety of speakers on native CT plants, soil ecology, forest ecology, permaculture in CT, and more. We are looking for students from all different backgrounds, and stress that no ecology or design knowledge is needed. The class will meet twice a week.

~~~~

If you’ve got some inquiries, feel free to shoot an email to Manon at: mlefevre@wesleyan.edu

I HOPE THAT SHE AND WILL WILL SEE YOU THERE!

Sup, spring. Let’s really get (to) WILD (Working on this Intelligent Landscape Design)!!!

Since yours truly was bumming around in Japan this past fall during an “academic” semester abroad, the WILDWes WordPress has suffered some undeserved neglect. But no longer, because I’m back, all too excited, and finally figured out that I was typing the email address in wrong for five straight months and that’s why I couldn’t log in before. Go figure.

Irrelevance.

So without further ado,

here are the “deets” –

just as much for me,

as for you:

(in no logical order)

1. There was an Unfortunate Event at one of the more forest-y corners of our WestCo forest garden: diseased tree removal. I assessed the remaining damage after five months, and though it doesn’t seem to have cause a heck of a lot of lasting damage, it does seem more empty now. Less forest for forestry.

2. THERE WILL BE A STUDENT FORUM this spring semester taught by Manon LaFevre and Will Wiebe, called Building Resilient Landscape Systems: The Intersection of Deep Ecology and Sustainable Landscape Design. (Sounds fancy!)
You can find it here, and if you want to talk or inquire more about it then you may email either Manon or Will. You should probably know how to email them on the Wesleyan email system.  There will also be an info meeting in the near future, probably; I will let you know.

3. There are workdays every Saturday! One to four o’ clock pee-em. No one does homework on weekends, or at least actually does their homework. So instead of spending that time in a booze brain-fog scrolling through Facebook in the library pretending to do your PDF reading assignments, come get some fresh air and friendly fun and blood to the brain (circulation by physical exertion, not something violent) with us over at the Summerfield’s Site further beautifying the thing. Hand tools! Buckets! Vegetation! A lot of brown materials!

4. Continuing from last semester, there will be student meetings held every week! (Last semester they were on Thursdays; time change TBD.) I haven’t had the chance to attend this academic year, and so if you haven’t either but are even an ounce curious, please come for your first time, too! You don’t have to be shy if you don’t know anything about anything, related or not, because all you need is a willingness to learn and cooperate. Or even just a willingness to learn how to cooperate.

5. There are t-shirts?! Why was I not sent one abroad? Nathaniel Elmer re-envisioned the old WILDWes logo and got some shirts printed. We’re printing — which probably means spray-painting — more because I need one, and a few will be for sale quite soon! I’ll update of course.

I messed around with the blog appearance and components and now have Facebook and Twitter all linked up! But one final plug: remember to Like us on Facebook! Which will be more regularly updated now too, I promise. We have a Twitter as well, which is still actually somewhat active. Right, Nathaniel?

Lotsa love,
Rina

And So it Goes

Well, boys and girls, our set deadline to git ‘er done has come and gone — the 16th of August — and I’m happy to say that we, I suppose, got ‘er done.

Summerfields Stairs "Final"

Okay, to be perfectly straight with you, the stair and terrace situation is not of the utmost completion. A ramp still needs assemblage at the top, and the terraces will not forever be terracing dirt mounds. As with all existing (WestCo) and all future (?) WILD Wes sites, they are and will continually be in a state of evolution and development. Plants plants plants. But, for now, I suppose that the point being is that four dweeb-around college kids gave it the ol’ “college try” and actually managed to finish on time. How? We still don’t really know, but it goes without saying (still gonna say it anyways) that we could not have gotten this done without superabundant support: from fellow students and Wesleyan staff to Tech Camp and community members. Whether it was the crucial facts of building code and generously donated materials or daily words of encouragement and endless Vines, we do deeply appreciate every bit.

Thank you! (Cat)

Just like the deadline — the 16th of August — I have also come and gone. Sadly, I will not be able to walk, run, or stumble up the stairs completely for the next five to six months. But they’ll be good and ready for when you return for the fall semester, so I hope you will take an extra walk (run and/or stumble) up for me.  Also make sure to give Nathaniel Elmer, Tennessee Mowrey, and Roxy Capron, the best co-workers ever, a thankful fist-bump for putting these stairs together.

Enjoy them, y’all. See you in the spring, and much love until then.
Rina

In the Past Month:

First of all, here’s a fun game. Go to the WILD Wes Facebook page, and after Like-ing it, and after scrolling past the pic of Tennessee doing his sexy-lounge, go allll the way to the bottom of the page (quickly because spoilers!) and find the first picture of the site being staked out. Then scroll back up slowly, till you get to the most recent image of the stairs.

Ayo.

You see it? You see how it went from the good ‘ol familiar dirt eyesore you’ve come to know and loathe to the kinda-dumpy looking stair-shaped hole in the ground with some stones in it? You see it?! I know it’s not done till it’s all done, and that’s still a lot of rebar, sweat, sun burns, anger, and Steely Dan before that point, but in the past six-odd weeks ago, I think we can be kinda proud of the work we’ve done by hand. Do we get a pat on the back? Or at least waterproof sports bandages for our blistered hands?

"RINA SUX"

Misuse of construction materials.

To make it even better, we also got to peruse a very exciting outdoor patio catalog and select furniture. A certain WILD Wes-er whom is to remain anonymous wasn’t super sold on the tables with backs (who doesn’t like to recline whenever possible?!), but the rest of decided on some pretty snazzy patio furniture for the Summerfields patio that should have always had furniture.

Bad Example Bench

Imagine this in a more industrial, plastic-y-rubbery and black fashion with a table in the middle and another one of these benches on the other side. If my -2 skill points in explanation managed to make any sense as a mental image for you, that is what we’re going for. Essentially.

Also, if you’re still ’round these parts, come gather some of the kale that has regrown along the Westco pathways! We have lots. Lots on lots. How about a kale salad or kale chips? Or maybe something that isn’t the only two things people do with kale? Like a stir fry!

Westco Kale

Nice n’ hardy

And the fruits of our labor:

Westco Bluebellies

THE LITERAL FRUITS OF OUR LABOR.

Love,
Rina

PS WestCo has some Omega-3 plants growing! Well, I think they are (I ate some) (I think it’s called Perslane) (the “edible weed”) (I just looked it up):
omega-3 plant?

Eating things at WestCo and Summerfields (that means you!!)

Recently I was contacted (by a Facebook wall post to my personal account) about a “food forest” that exists will exist in Seattle. Basically, from the article that was included in the post, it looks like they’re tryna plant, well, a whole bunch of plants that grow edible things. Like blueberries and nuts. And the message said that we’re far from it, but if we could have something like that Seattle food forest someday that would be cool. Which I wholeheartedly agree with. Which made me realize that most of what we’ve got planted (and planned) probably isn’t very readily well-known. For instance, did you know that all of the paths through the WestCo site were lined with fully edible and entirely delicious kale that was for anyone and everyone to harvest? Fun Fact! One of the main goals of our sustainable landscaping is edibles. Though we may not “qualify” as a “food forest”, we hope that we have and will have plenty to offer to all of you lovely Wesleyan kids on our current sites and sites to come!

WestCo Apples

Apples.

Currants.

Currants. For tasty jams and jellies.

Like blueberries and nuts.

Westco Blueberries One

Blueberries.

WestCo 06/18

Nuts.

——

WestCo Sage

Herb: Sage.

WestCo Oregano

Herb: Oregano. Put some Wesleyan pizzaz in your meals this fall…or if you are here now!!

And these are only just a few! Additionally, we are even more heavily emphasizing the edible-factor for the Summerfields site, where we hope to have raised beds and herb gardens that produce ingredients for Summerfields, fruit trees and, bushes, and vines (strawberries! more blueberries!) near Huber avenue, and grasses and flowers that can be used medicinally or ingested otherwise (not as sketchy as it sounds I promise).

Well, I hope that shed* a little bit more light on what we’re doing out there pulling things and planting things and landscaping spaces n’ stuff.

Love,
Rina

*We’re buying a shed soon!! It’s momentous for us, but I understand if that makes little to no impact on your day . That’s why I made it an asterisk moment.

Week Two Day Five: So Maybe the Stair Design is Pretty Final?

First of all, please someone tell me why and how there can possibly be this much water leaking from an impossibly large expanse of dark clouds in the sky? Also of note, it is comfortably into June. BUT WITH ALL OF THIS RAIN I AM NOT COMFORTABLE. Just kidding, it isn’t that bad. One day a week or two ago, though, when there was that Flash Flood Warning, my shirt did get soaked enough to somehow also leak dyes onto my skin, underclothes, and partially onto my pants. Today it started raining at about 9/9:30 AM, and continues to. It has also cooled down significantly, so I’m in my bed with fuzzy pants on.

Anyway, we weren’t out in the rain today, because there was research to be done and plans to be finalized. In particular, those stairs. As I noted before, we already scooted them over because of the impossible tree stump. There’s also another tree stump on the face of that hill, but we’re managing to keep the stairs between the two (lucky!!). In order to do so, however, we are now putting some bends in the stair case (fancy!!). In working and reworking and re-reworking the stair design, and having multiple meetings with Adults (the Green Building Committee) who have actual experience building things and familiarity with codes, we are surely learning a whole, whole lot about the building process and expanding the WILD Wes capability and knowledge base for future projects. Unlike the last WILD Wes site, which was pretty purely a lansscape* project, we’ve got things to build.

If only it could be this easy and fun and childhood-y. If only. Would you object to LEGO stairs?

Yikes, build.
Today especially we learned the hard facts of building code safety specifics. As in, what makes a staircase legitimate (at least in The Great State of Connecticut, I am not sure if they are the same nationwide). What that means for us is a lot of extra work. Or, rather, work we just weren’t yet aware of. And what that means for you is safe and sturdy stairs! Though we were all temporarily deer in the headlights after that big reality-check meeting, we’re ready to go now. And we love you, so rest assured that we’re getting it done right with all of the safety measures discussed. Rain or shine tomorrow — I realize I said this last time but golly it’s still raining — we’re gonna get these started for ya.
Let’s Go! (I happen to be listening to Matt & Kim, so I was tempted to type that out three more times.)

* Stair Design Image Coming Soon*

Love,
Rina

* An intended typo, which will be explained at a later time.

Day Monday: The tree root is out. But not entirely. And it doesn’t want to play.

After staking out the stairs last week, it was time to get to the digging business. Upon starting that digging, it immediately became apparent that this wasn’t going to be a ball in the park. (Is that a phrase? I know entirely nothing about sports. Not even barely-related sayings. Or maybe I just don’t know sayings.) There were roots aplenty, stones and rocks even more, and clay-y dense soil filling in all the rest of the space. Our leveled and measured staking and ropeage was quickly getting ragged from the hacking by shovels, pickaxes, and the Flash Flood Warning rain at the end of last week (wasn’t that fun though?!).

But it all works out in the end: we encountered a sizeable tree stump early on that looked like it was going to take some good work. But after commencing that good work, we realized that it was going to take more than that. We decided to research our options, since this wasn’t about to come out by asking it nicely or trying to hack it to pieces. Tennessee came to us with options yesterday morning:
1. Poke holes in it, fill those holes with diesel, and set it on fire. As much fun as that sounds (I love fire), it requires power tools and diesel. Neither are WILD Wes friendly. No good.

Arcade Fire

This is Arcade Fire. They are WILD Wes friendly.

2. Stump grinder. Does exactly what it sounds like it does, if you’re thinking about it in the right way. But this is heavy machinery. (So that’s a no.)
3. Tie one end of a rope around it, the other end onto the back of your car, and attempt to drive it out of the ground. But nature is powerful, and there was no way we were going to get under that monster of a stump to tie a rope around it. No dice.

Summerfields Root

At least it kind of made a good chair I guess. TO SULK ON

All of our options exhausted, we worked around the problem. By doing exactly that. We moved where the stairs are supposed to go by a few feet and just avoided it entirely. Tennessee still did a mighty job hacking the stump’s appendages away, and the rest of the roots we inevitably found while digging out the hill further over. So as I said earlier, it all worked out in the end: we were in need of re-staking the stairs anyways. So that’s on the agenda for tomorrow. Rain or shine (it’s going to rain), we’ll be there. 8 AM sharp.

Summerfields Roots

Filtered Image courtesy of Nathaniel via Twitter. Also these are the roots we dug up, hacked up, and excavated today. Holla.

Have a good night everyone.
Love,
Rina

So What Is Going On Then

Disclaimer/Trying to make excuses for myself: I am not good at explaining things ever (disclaimer). But also (making excuses) it has been a long while since this blog here has been updated, so there’s a lot of ground to cover. I’m sure it’ll come in more bits and pieces as such information relevantly (or less so) applies to future updates, but I’ll sum up what I can.

The Most Important: There is a second site now in our hands! Up to one of our dining halls, Summerfields, there is a serious eye sore and physically dangerous (+ emotionally taxing?) sad excuse of a hill. It’s an eroded dirt slope. We get to fix that, and landscape the rest of the hill to the side, which is more intact but a mowed lawn. The design of this site (“The Summerfields Site” — we do need a better name for it maybe yes) was the focus of this spring’s WILD Wes student forum. During the past academic year’s two student forums, we were thinking of what new site to take on since WestCo is well on its way. Ideally we’d want something…ideal. Like the cute little nook between Olin Library and PAC facing Andrus, where we could build an outdoor classroom and we’d have full creative potential on the site*, not something that was fully/mostly a remediation plan. But after meeting with the Green Building Committee and presenting them with our sites of interest (which included these two — Summerfields and Olin & PAC — in addition to an area by the CFA, around the Observatory, and a piece in front of Olin), they told us that Summerfields was our best bet. Further, the Summerfields site was already on track for re-landscaping by the university this summer, so we mightaswell do it for them more conscientiously.  They wanted us to help out, and of course we wanted to help out, and so it goes.

WILDWes' Summerfields site

The stair plan. Stairs!

The Westco Site: we weeded a lot of this in the rain yesterday. Much of this year’s fall student forum revolved around plans for the implementation of  structures and details to the  WestCo site, mainly geared towards the social function. We brainstormed seating, a stage, solar path and social space lights, and possibly art displays  throughout the site. Right now it’s just about in full bloom, and trees, bushes, ground cover, and creatures abound!

WestCo WILDlife

Some birds hangin’ out in a serviceberry this morning

*The Third Thing That is Way Cool But I Honestly Almost Forgot About it Because WestCo and Summerfields are Really Taking Up All of Our Plates Right Now: We got the Olin & PAC site!! When the Green Building Committee formally granted us with The Summerfields Site, we were also given the Olin & PAC nook. As I mentioned earlier, the current plan is to turn it into an outdoor classroom of sorts. It’s sitting in the WILD Wes queue for now (it is a queue of one thing and that one thing is this), but we’re super excited to have this site waiting for our WILD shenanigans once we’re further down the line with Summerfields.

Olin & PAC nook is OURS

Future WILD Wes site! Outdoor classroom perhaps?

Have a most beautiful Saturday!
Love,
Rina

Aaand We’re Back: Sorry About That

First thing first: apologies for the lack of blogging for the past academic year period. In a college setting, group members and leaders move around, take time off, study abroad, and graduate all too quickly and frequently, and that sometimes leads to big chunks of members disappearing all at once (ta-da! but not in a good way). Not to mention, the year gets Crazy busy, and it becomes a matter of actually working on the site or writing about work that you should be doing on the site. Nate was basically a one-man show this past year, and so hopefully it’s understandable that this blog got a little quiet for a hot second. But.

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