This past week has been a crazy whirlwind of activity. Not too long ago, Katie, who had valiantly been leading the WILD WestCo work this summer, left for her next amazing adventure, a trip around the world. And though we already miss her dearly, Emma Leonard has been doing an incredible job since her departure of leading the sheet-mulching efforts in the WestCo courtyard. Last week, some members of the administration raised concerns that the site wouldn’t be ready for new freshmen moving in on Wednesday. It became clear that somewhere along the line of this exciting process, we had some failure of communication as to how the site would look at this stage in the process. So, we got in touch with everyone who had apprehensions or questions, and assured them that the way the site looks now is not how it will look in the end, but is rather a snapshot into a lengthy operation. Of course, doing extensive soil remediation is a long-term process that takes a while, especially when using only manual labor and working without a lot of hands on deck. Since the physical work on-site got started just this summer, we are still in the beginning phase of the project. So for now, that means seeing piles of compost and wood chips just waiting to be laid down to work their magic. And while we do see a kind of beautiful, organized messiness in all of this, we also understand that the courtyard needs to be held to certain aesthetic standards for the rush of new students and their families coming to campus this week.
With this in mind, we have been spending the last week working tirelessly to make sure the site is presentable in time for move-in day. Luckily, we’ve had some help to get the work done – about 6 or 7 of us have been around to put our noses to the grindstone. And we are pleased to announce that even after suffering the wrath of Hurricane Irene, the site is nearly ready for move-in day. So far, about half of the WestCo courtyard is sheet mulched, with layers of compost, cardboard, and wood chips ready to sit for about 6 months in order to create healthy soil. We also have a boundary set up all around the site, with a wide space for a path marked off for that endless stream of traffic that will be passing through the courtyard on Wednesday. We are preparing signs to put all around the area to keep everyone in the loop, and a bunch of WILD Wes kids will be there during move-in to answer questions and get dirty. And tomorrow, we are sooo excited for Justin Freiberg (a Wesleyan grad himself) of Encendia Biochar to come to campus to put down our first layer of biochar on site. We can’t wait to meet and engage the new WestCo kids, and to collaborate with the entire Wesleyan community as we work to create a beautiful, unified place that questions not only how our own campus could look, but how we can re-think our relationship to the land in order to make the world a better place.