Charlottesville is all kinds of eco

Green means millions of different things. A snapshot of its many manifestations in Charlottesville right now:

UVA has won the jackpot with an $11 million grant to develop an "Energy Frontier Research Center" where they’ll be figuring out how to make cleaner liquid fuels out of methane. Forty-five other sites around the country will join UVA in working on the broader problem of kicking America’s fossil-fuel addiction. If I had a high-school-age kid who liked science, I’d make her apply for an internship at the Center for Catalytic Hydrocarbon Functionalization. As a thirtysomething nonscientist, all I can say is, "Godspeed."

Meanwhile, over on Ridge Street, an assortment of groups and the City itself are planning to do a green renovation on a vacant home. It’s a little weird that Dominion Virginia Power is one of the groups involved, given their penchant for insisting that power demand will inevitably go up, and therefore they have to build new transmission lines. But we’ll see how the project shapes up. The Daily Progress story kind of muddles the issues of energy-efficiency and its up-front costs, and if I were a not-too-knowledgeable homeowner reading the DP, I’d be left with the impression that only the government can afford to make stuff green.

Not at all true, as the folks at Woodfolk House consistently demonstrate. They’re always posting notices for real grassroots enviro/community actions: Critical Mass rides, cooperative gardening, stuff like that. I recently got an email from Alexis Zeigler, one of the main brains behind Woodfolk, plugging a "Neo-Amish Visioning and Cherry Pie Bake-Off for the Living Earth Sanctuary." It’s basically a limited-tech environmental education project, way too much to explain here, but email me ( if you want more info. And some of the same people are thinking about starting an urban commune in town.

And finally: I have been working on two very interesting stories this week. One’s about leaking gas tanks and the other’s about a local who lives off the grid. Keep your eye out!

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