People flourish in environments that challenge their ingenuity but reward their efforts. Obviously people flourish through their technologies, but more fundamentally they flourish through their communities. Cooperation means relying on each other’s abilities and willingness to enable or improve our own capacities.
Don’s adult life has been centered in Bowling Green, Ohio, where he has attempted to promote a way of life congenial to the town and surrounding rural region.
In our careers, my wife and I taught largely at Bowling Green State University, in the city of Bowling Green, a university town of 30 thousand in Northwest Ohio.
Over the years and throughout the seasons I made my bicycle both my primary mode of transportation and my primary form of exercise. In 2000, we bought the first hybrid car available in the Toledo area. By 2012, alternative vehicles had their own area in the local auto show and Don was invited to exhibit his by-then classic Honda Insight.
When controlled burns were emerging as a tool of prairie restoration, the Toledo Metro Parks wanted to restore the oak openings to the west of the city. My students and I contributed both by preparing for a safe burn of land that bordered a nearby subdivision and by composing the prose for trail signs the Park system later erected.
Late in 2006 we built a five-star-plus Energy Star home just outside town. In Spring 2007, we planted our yard in native perennials, starting with rain gardens to handle runoff, no matter how hard it rains.
Our home relies on southern orientation, geothermal heating and cooling and a wind turbine that supplies about 40% of our annual energy use – despite the fact that our nearness to the local airport limits its height.
From 2003, when the first wind turbines were installed outside town, I worked with state government on establishing Ohio’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard. The turbines are located on buffer land of the county’s sanitary landfill, still leaving enough room to buffer the shadow from the spinning blades from nearby private property.
In the 1970s local recycling began as Help Us Recycle Trash, a project of our Sunday School class. Eventually it became a small part of the county’s large and successful solid waste department, which provides recycling education for all ages and coordinates recycling centers across the county.
Working with the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and the Ohio Aerospace Institute, I’ve planted a bit of pennycress from locally collected seed as part of testing the prospect that the 35.8% oil in the seeds of this ‘weed’ can become a significant non-petroleum-based source of jet fuel. In Spring 2013, above, part of the Illinois crop is harvested in time for soybean planting.