The Bioneers’ keynote demonstrated for students not just what he is doing for sustainability, but how students should pursue their interests as well.
A satellite of the national conference in San Rafael, Calif., which hosted its 25th anniversary this month, the Knox program incorporated video presentations from the San Rafael speakers. On a more personal level, students engaged in workshops and listened to on-site speakers.
The weekend centered around the keynote speaker Jim Hallock. A 1969 Knox graduate, Hallock is founder and CEO of Earth Block International. His talk focused on “The Standard of the Past and the Hope for the Future,” in which he explained the way he builds houses. Ninety-five percent of the material is made with clay and soil, the rest composed of lime or cement, creating compressed earth “dirt” blocks that become advanced adobe-type structures.
Buildings are the largest users of energy with 74.9 percent of electricity consumed by building operations. Earth blocks are long-lasting, natural materials for construction that come from an abundant resource: dirt. Structures built from these blocks maintain stable temperatures in all climates, lower additional energy usage, control humidity naturally and remove any possibility of mold.
Hallock has worked on projects in places such as Mexico, Haiti and Zambia and has always depended on local labor and local material, promoting environmental and economic growth.
“Social, economic, political sustainability: If you’re not doing it all, you’re not doing it at all,” Hallock said.
The biggest roadblock in expanding the use of these structures is the high cost of machinery and of transportation of the machinery.
Hallock’s presentation was well received by the students.
“He’s just a really great speaker and you can tell he’s really excited and he made me really excited,” senior Leslie Carman said.
Many felt inspired. “It felt like it was something really attainable … We could do this here, now, we could do this at Green Oaks,” junior Robin Delaquess said.
Returning Bioneers attendees noted the increased attendance at the conference, especially noting the increase of people from the community.
Junior Inez Pea, who played a significant role in the organization of Bioneers, wanted to thank Student Senate for approving the budget for allowing Galesburg residents to attend for free.
“Hopefully they continue to make this event free for all because that is a big part of what Bioneers is about,” she said.
Similarly, junior Natalie Donahue and the rest of Garden Club wanted to acknowledge Professor of Environmental Studies Peter Schwartzman, who has been “keeping Bioneers sustainable” and dedicating all of his time to its success.