January 1, 2004 - Sequatchie Valley Institute: Nigeria RPCV Johnny Kimmons founded the Sequatchie Valley Institute (SVI), a non-profit educational learning center and model for sustainable living

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Nigeria: Peace Corps Nigeria : The Peace Corps in Nigeria: January 1, 2004 - Sequatchie Valley Institute: Nigeria RPCV Johnny Kimmons founded the Sequatchie Valley Institute (SVI), a non-profit educational learning center and model for sustainable living

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-232-99.balt.east.verizon.net - on Friday, January 02, 2004 - 10:53 am: Edit Post

Nigeria RPCV Johnny Kimmons founded the Sequatchie Valley Institute (SVI), a non-profit educational learning center and model for sustainable living

Nigeria RPCV Johnny Kimmons founded the Sequatchie Valley Institute (SVI), a non-profit educational learning center and model for sustainable living

Sequatchie Valley Institute (SVI) had its genesis in 1971, when Johnny and Carol Kimmons, now faculty at University of Tennessee--Chattanooga, and their family moved onto a 300-acre site located on the escarpment of the Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee, in the beautiful Sequatchie Valley. For the past 30 years, the Kimmons family and friends have lived a sustainable lifestyle deeply integrated with the forest ecosystem. Since 1996, the family homestead has become a learning center and model for sustainable living and it is now known as the Sequatchie Valley Institute, a non-profit environmental educational organization.

Founded in 1996, the Sequatchie Valley Institute (SVI) is a non-profit educational learning center and model for sustainable living. The mission of SVI is to offer society an opportunity to experience and learn about living in harmony with nature by providing education, art, and research opportunities; a progressive, dynamic model residence and learning center; land conservation and restoration; and a vision for attaining a sustainable future. Our five main programs are: Landscape and Architecture (permaculture, edible landscaping, natural building, and alternative energy); Public Outreach, Education and Research (off-site presentations and counseling, tours, teacher enrichment and academic research); Moonshadow Programs (workshops, conferences and events); Land Conservation; and, MEDIA RIGHTS (a media production company encompassing the goals of SVI, producing newsletters, video, audio, public art projects and the SVI website).

A Sense Of Place: What makes the SVI facilities and grounds unique are: 1) the extensive use of eco-friendly building techniques with natural and salvaged building materials and 2) the development of ecological forest gardening. With the help of volunteers and interns, the property has matured to include an edible landscape, a gravity-fed water supply, compost toilets, and buildings that are hand-crafted, technologically appropriate and in harmony with the surrounding forest. Visitors to SVI develop an awareness of the interrelationships of all living things, including humans, in our bioregion.

The centerpiece of our property is the SVI education center, Moonshadow, which is entirely handcrafted from the rocks and trees of the mountainside, and harmoniously blends residence, office, meeting space, studio, and library. All electricity is provided by the sun through photovoltaic generation. Water comes by gravity from a spring. Marked trails through the richly diverse habitat provide hikers with spectacles of bloodroot and trillium in the spring, creek swimming on hot summer days, brilliant leaf colors in the autumn and bluff vistas of the valley in the winter. From the hemlock and rhododendron glades along the creek to the laurels on the bluffs, the forest reigns supreme, making SVI a living laboratory of Appalachia.

A Sense Of Responsibility: SVI generally serves the surrounding area of southeast Tennessee. We also host conferences, meetings, and workshops that bring people to SVI from all across the country. Over our first four years, SVI has passed on important and useful information to over 3,250 people who have toured our facilities and participated in workshops. We have reached countless numbers of people through our video work and we send our newsletter to 700 people quarterly. We make presentations at schools and conferences, reaching over 1,000 people each year. We have taught people how to grow their own food, create their own energy, build their own homes, and, most importantly, reconnect with nature.

We have seen the direct results from our work. Teachers who have been through our in-service programs have since brought their students to SVI, have built gardens at their schools and have created new curriculum for their teaching units based on what they learned in our programs. Three Natural Building Workshop students have built their own alternative homes. Our interns have gone on to build community gardens from Athens, Georgia, to Mozambique, Africa. Two interns with SVI's Media Rights Program left with the skill and courage to produce their own video projects. SVI has inspired thousands of people to make simple changes in their lives, which has made a positive impact on our community and will certainly prove to have an even greater effect on society.

SVI Programs – Landscape and Architecture

A) Permaculture: The landscape design at SVI comes from a land ethic based on preserving and recovering the natural biodiversity of our bioregion through the land-use and community-building movement known as permaculture. This design philosophy encompasses ecological landscapes that produce food, support energy-efficient buildings and promote recycling of materials. These components are placed in an order that is synergistic and in harmony with the land and people.

At SVI, over four acres planted in edible landscapes are integrated with the forest ecosystem. Hundreds of fruit and nut trees, vegetable, herb and flower gardens, and vines produce organically grown food, teas and medicines.

Nestled between the forest and gardens are ponds with myriads of creatures, places for nature study and quiet reflection. We continue to maintain and improve the edible landscape as an educational experience for visitors. The gardens also provide outdoor laboratories for new techniques in ecological agriculture. Through our workshops, we illustrate that edible landscaping and the creation of permaculture designs are rewarding, creative and exciting endeavors.

Acknowledging the world's ever-growing need for food and fiber resources, we support and encourage the reclamation and sustainable use of land, which is currently deteriorating in the hands of industry and modern agriculture. Low-input high-yield forms of food production used in SVI gardens can be adapted to a wide range of conditions throughout the world. As informed citizens of the world become disenchanted with factory farming techniques that rely upon chemicals, our example offers agricultural alternatives that work.

B) Natural Building and Architecture: Architectural goals are to develop and maintain the property and facilities as examples of technologically appropriate and ecologically friendly design, harmoniously integrated with the forest and edible landscape. Handcrafted buildings utilize native and salvaged materials. Passive solar design and attached greenhouses provide heating, cooling and daylighting. The structures inspire visitors and serve the needs of all who come to SVI to learn. Interns and workshop participants share in design, construction and maintenance.

Moonshadow, the main facility on the property, provides meeting spaces, kitchen, a library and staff residence. Other structures include Tipple, a timber-framed wood-working shop; Mud Dauber, a cob (clay, sand, and straw) structure; Como Se Llama, the llama barn and crafts gallery; Anole, a craft workshop, meeting space and guest space; Alpenglow, a pottery kiln shed; FourOaks and Crow’s Nest, bungalows for interns; a tool shed; a hoop-house for winter gardening; two cob bread ovens; kiwi and grape arbors and composting toilets.

C) Alternative Energy: The sun provides all electricity for Moonshadow and surrounding buildings. An array of solar panels tracks the sun to collect energy which is stored in batteries to provide electricity. A stream has been diverted to a small reservoir which will eventually power a micro hydro (water) system. In order to round out the energy design, a wind charger system is now under development.

All structures represent exemplary passive solar design. Large areas of glass in south-facing walls admit the sun in winter. The sun’s heat is stored in architectural rock and water and in attached solar greenhouses. North walls are well-insulated with few windows. Energy-efficient rock fireplaces and stoves provide supplemental heat. Deciduous trees, overhangs, and venting provide summer cooling. These innovative designs are favorites with the public during tours.

During the annual National Solar Homes tour, our staff provides informative tours of the alternative energy systems and architecture at SVI. We publicize the tour and arrange visits to homes and businesses which use sustainable energy in our five-county region. Up to 60 people attend the tours every year. We have sponsored the tour in Southeast Tennessee for five years. In 2001, more people attended the SVI-sponsored tour than all other tours in Tennessee combined.

SVI Programs – Public Outreach, Education, and Research

A) Off-site Workshops, Presentations and Consulting: Our staff present lectures and slide shows for schools, groups and conferences, including the Sierra Club, the Southern Appalachian Man and the Biosphere Conference, the Tennessee Environmental Education Association, the Student Environmental Action Coalition and the YMCA Earth Corps. Presentations include tailor-made workshops and lectures on sustainable living and the environment.

SVI provides information on environmental and sustainable energy programs for groups, schools, organizations, and individuals. We encourage collaboration between schools and organizations such as the National Wildlife Federation, the Tennessee Energy Education Network, and community-supported agriculture groups. Examples of these collaborations include current projects at Whitwell Middle School and Scenic Land School. With our advice, the schools are developing energy efficiency programs, solar electricity systems, and outdoor education centers. Such projects provide exciting experiential learning opportunities for the children of our bioregion.

B) Guided Tours: Over 2,000 school children and college students have taken tours of our demonstration structures and permaculture gardens. Visits begin with a naturalist-guided hike up our forest trails. In June 1999 500 school children from Chattanooga low-income communities toured SVI as part of a federally-funded summer enrichment program called "A Light in the Forest." Gifted classes, special students, and science classes have come for tours and programs. In-school presentations by SVI staff prior to tours provide an introduction for teachers and students.

We have hosted over 400 adults on tours and open house days. Visiting groups include the National Solar Homes Tour, the Tennessee Aquarium, the Outdoor Education Master Teachers Program at Southern College, the Tennessee Wildlife Center staff, Adult Education classes, senior citizen groups, and local garden clubs. We also welcome individuals and family groups.

C) Teacher Enrichment Workshops: In 1997, SVI designed and presented a unique enrichment workshop for teachers from local area schools. "Alternatively Charged! An Adventure in Sustainability," was a two-week intensive hands-on learning experience for fifteen teachers. The teachers participated in workshops on organic gardening, solar energy, forest ecology, water quality, ecological building concepts and more. The participants were empowered to alter their classroom curricula and teaching techniques to include inquiry-based learning, the natural world of our bioregion, and relevant issues of sustainable living.

In 1998, we hosted a similar program entitled "Appalachian Culture," which looked at local traditions, coal mining, music, film and literature. Participating public school teachers from Chattanooga worked in teams to create new region-based curricula with a hands-on approach.

D) Research Projects: SVI staff, interns, visiting students, and scientists take part in research projects at SVI. Projects have included a study of the effects of UVB radiation on pines; TN amphibian monitoring program, a citizen's research project; study of organisms living in McIntyre Cave; inventory of plant and animal species in our watershed; monitoring tree mortality in mixed mesophytic forests organized in conjunction with the Appalachian Forest Action Project; raven monitoring program; study of insects conducted by students and staff from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville; soil studies; and forest mapping projects. Definitive research that results from these projects is provided to the organization in charge of the research and to the public. Results may be published in appropriate journals.

Questions often asked about Moonshadow

Q: How was it started? By whom?

A: The McIntyre and Kimmons families come from a long line of homesteaders. Tools, experience, and knowledge have been passed down from generation to generation. The land around Moonshadow (200 acres of steep mountainside) was purchased in 1965 by Ed McIntyre. In 1971 Ed, his wife Nona, their daughter Carol, her husband Johnny, and their kids Patrick and Joel moved onto the land. Within the next five years, using tools and help from both Carol and Johnny’s parents, we cleared three acres for gardens, orchards, and living space. We lived in tents, a trailer, and a shop/work space we built out of salvaged materials. That was the beginning. In 1993 we purchased an additional 100 acres. In 2000, 37 acres were purchased by the Kimmons family as part of our conservation program.

Q: Were you trying to get away from something? Back to something?

A: By 1971 there was plenty of information questioning the American lifestyle – work, nutrition, politics, play. We were definitely trying to get back to the basics. The "back to the earth movement" embodied these ideas and had amassed enough information so that a small group of people with no background in living off the land could actually do it. Carol and Johnny did the early research and we all learned a lot through trial and error.

Q: Is Moonshadow completely self-sufficient?

A: What is "completely self-sufficient" anyway? Isn’t it true that we’re all connected to everything in the universe? Never totally independent, right? But, we are trying to be as self-reliant as possible. If we were to grow all of our own food and make everything we needed ourselves – it would take all of our time… We feel a responsibility to be involved in things that are happening on the other side of the creek as well. Our main house has a fully functioning solar-electric power system. Our stove, refrigerator and "water-on-demand" water heater are propane operated.

Q: Where does your money come from?

A: First of all, the land was cheap and easily paid for. Johnny’s folks had a small ranch in New Mexico - they gave us tools and the knowledge to use them. Johnny and Carol have often worked overseas and in nearby communities as science teachers. Our artwork and crafts products have always been a contributing factor to our finances. We have also received (and are always looking for) small grants for our work. We have started the Sequatchie Valley Institute and have a small media production company, MEDIA RIGHTS (both non-profit). This doesn’t allow for much income, but does bring in money for equipment.

Q: Do you sell food/herbs that you grow?

A: We have sold organic salad greens to our local health food store. We’ve used herbs in crafts such as dream pillows. But, we’re more involved in providing for ourselves and experimentation, rather than production. We would like to join our local farmers' market and are thinking about what we would like to sell there.

Q: Do you have any animals?

A: You mean besides us? We have a dog named Pepper, but we also have a skunk, mice, a flying squirrel, and other mammals living with us–or do we live with them? In the past we’ve had geese, ducks, chickens, dairy goats, dogs, cats, horses, mules, pigs, and guinea fowl. Although we’ve found that animal domestication takes a lot of work, we have added two llamas, Quipu and Llullillaco, and 50 bantam chickens to our ecosystem. The forest around us hosts many animals indigenous to Southern Appalachia. We share our daily lives with hawks, turkey vultures, owls, woodpeckers, cotton hispid rats, raccoons, foxes, frogs, fish (in our pond), copperheads and rattlers, and many others.

Q: How many hand- crafted buildings do you have? What are they built out of?

A: We have one large farmhouse made from hand-hewn logs from the forest, stone from the creek and mountainside, and concrete (which certainly IS mistreated in the industrialized world – but used wisely a little bit can go a long way and last a very long time). Other structures built with similar methods include: a log cabin (our first home – now used for workshop space), a Swedish-style pole-barn (once our goats’ home – now used for storage and living space), two bungalows (used as living space for guests and interns), and a few other structures… Nona has a round earth-bermed Mother Earth News house which was built by a contractor. Oh – she has a cat, Asia, and is on the grid.

Q: What is your decision-making process?

A: Every other week we have either an SVI staff meeting or a Moonshadow community meeting. Being a small open group (usually between 7-15 people), we don't have much difficulty making decisions. We use a consensus decision-making process, if necessary. Our interns also have weekly meetings. SVI has a terrific Board of Directors that meet 3 or 4 times a year to help guide the organization. Here we also use consensus, if needed.

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Story Source: Sequatchie Valley Institute

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Turkey; Communal Living



By avasherrievance (c-68-59-184-96.hsd1.tn.comcast.net - on Tuesday, August 01, 2006 - 8:56 am: Edit Post

Hello,this is Hazel McIntyre's daughter Sherrie. Just wanted to say hi! Would like you to meet my husband & son "Max".My e-mail address is avavance@yahoo.com.I see a lot of things about Moonshadow in many magizines. Hope too hear from you soon!!

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