Organic gardening, collecting rain water, discussing mountain-top mining and solar power technology—it’s not what the average Georgia College student has in mind for their spring break.
“I love being outdoors,” said freshman Lauren Gorham. “I also have never been to the mountains in Tennessee, so it was cool to have an opportunity to try something new and learn new things in the process.”
Gorham, along with a group of Georgia College students, attended the Narrow Ridge Earth Literacy Center program over the spring break. Dr. Sandra Godwin, associate professor of sociology, thought this program would be a unique challenge for students.
“Narrow Ridge is ‘off the grid’ so I thought it would be a unique opportunity and potentially transformative for students to experience the East Tennessee mountains in this way and be exposed to the sustainable, spiritual and community philosophy behind Narrow Ridge.”
Students participated in the weeklong alternative spring break program at Narrow Ridge, a nonprofit organization aimed at demonstrating sustainability. Completely solar powered, Narrow Ridge gave students experiences including organic gardening, day and night hikes, service-learning projects and nightly stargazing. For Gorham, an environmental science major, the experience was far better than she could have imagined.
“The trip goes hand-in-hand with what I’m thinking about doing with my future so I thought I’d try it out to learn more about it from people that know so much more about it than I do,” said Gorham.
From a kitchen compost container, to a rainwater collection system in the cabin—the sustainable living experience was authentic, even down to the lack of technology.
“The most challenging aspect of this trip was having to readjust to using technology when I got back,” said Gorham. “It wasn’t hard to adjust to being off the grid—it felt natural to me.”
Godwin says that the program aims to make students think and take on a challenge greater than themselves.
“The program presents students with a challenge—and it’s a challenge that I believe they will find they can meet and can be proud of themselves afterward for meeting.”
Gorham says the experience has been transformative but her favorite activities came toward the end of the day when she took the opportunity to stargaze.
“It was so humbling to be in the presence of something so much bigger than myself and realizing how small I am in the great scheme of things,” said Gorham. “You don’t get that kind of experience back in the suburbs where I’m from.”