Wednesday, May 28, 2008

TMS Buildings and Farmland Listed on NH State Register of Historic Places

The Meeting School's campus is located on an historic farm, where five generations of the Nathaniel Thomas family lived and worked beginning in 1770. Most of our buildings, including most notably our two farmhouses and our main barn, were built by the Thomases in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and retain significant historic value. We have just received exciting confirmation of independent recognition of this historic significance. Over the past three years, the U.S. History classes at TMS have been researching the history of the Thomas Farm, digging into state and local archives and historical society holdings, searching and assembling legal, probate, and census records, and most of all decoding the physical evidence around us in the buildings and landscape. The project began by focusing simply on the oldest house, but the state's historic preservation officer encouraged us to expand our research to the whole farm. In March, history teacher Frederick Martin submitted the final application to nominate the Thomas Farm to the New Hampshire State Register of Historic Places. The State Historic Resources Council listed the Thomas Farm on the State Register at its April meeting. In their notification letter, the state Survey Coordinator wrote, "The New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources would like to congratulate the school on the listing of the Thomas Farm (now The Meeting School) to the New Hampshire State Register of Historic Places. We very much appreciate your stewardship and commitment to preserving an important part of New Hampshire's heritage." Congratulations especially to all the history students involved in the research!

Excerpts from the press release and the NH Division of Historical Resources website appear below.

Historic Properties Honored

CONCORD, NH--- Twelve properties have been listed in the New Hampshire State Register of Historic Places. The State Historic Resources Council met October 29, 2007, January 28, and April 28, 2008. The following properties were considered and listed: [see their website for the other eleven great properties]

Thomas Farm, Rindge. This property is comprised of 130 acres of woodland, pasture, gardens and orchards. Its buildings include the 1771 Nathaniel Thomas House, a significant example of Georgian style, and the 1839 George Thomas house. Five generations of the Thomas family lived on and farmed the property from 1771 until 1931.

The New Hampshire State Register of Historic Places is one part of the state's efforts to recognize and encourage the identification and protection of historical, architectural, archeological and cultural resources. These irreplaceable resources may be buildings, districts, sites, landscapes... that are meaningful in the history, architecture... or traditions of New Hampshire residents and communities. The State Register is administered by the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources (NHDHR), which is the state's Historic Preservation Office.

Listing on the State Register of Historic Places is one of several ways to acknowledge a property's historical significance, [and] can contribute to the preservation of historic properties in a number of ways. For more information, visit [the NHDHR] online at or by calling (603) 271-3483.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"Long Emergency" Energy Class Meets Peak Oil Author, Makes Biodiesel

Several TMS students and faculty recently attended a lecture by author Richard Heinberg, a widely recognized authority on fossil fuel depletion and its effect on society. His talk, held at Keene State College, was titled "Peak Everything: Creating Resilient Communities in a Time of Radical Change." Seeing him was especially exciting because we have been reading three of his books in the course "Energy Depletion and Society: the Long Emergency." Happily, he turned out to be as engaging in person as his writing is --and he was even friendlier than he sounds on paper. TMS attendees included students in the course, but also other community members who'd had their curiosity piqued by their friends' committment. After he spoke and answered questions --including one of ours-- we were able to chat with him a bit, give him a course syllabus, get him to sign a book, and pose for a picture.

We seem to run into a lot of authors, actually. It turns out that a TMS alum from the '70's is friends with James Howard Kunstler, author of the book the course is named after: The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the 21st Century. Apparently he mentioned us to "Jim" over dinner, and we may be able to help arrange another visit like Heinberg's.

In other "Long Emergency" news, last week we had a demonstration of how to make biodiesel. Eli Garrett, son of faculty member Sheila Garrett, is a mechanical engineer --and race-car driver-- who produces biodiesel in quantity as a hobby. So Eli's visit to the school on Mother's Day included a stop to whip us up a sample batch of biodiesel in his blender. The class had previously discussed issues of food production and rising prices for vegetable oil around the world --but Eli used waste oil, already used at a restaurant for deep-frying. Pictured here (l-r) are Frederick (the Long Emergency teacher), Meg, Eli, and Caleb.

Back in April, we took a field trip to the Massachusetts Innovation Collaborative, LLC, in Fitchburg, to see their PV (photovoltaic) solar and geothermal installations, and to the Leominster office of the Trustees of Reservations to see their PV solar panels, "green" building materials, and composting toilets. Pictured here are LE students in the basement of the Trustees building, checking out the solar panel wiring and the massive composting toilet apparatus.

Readers interested in learning more about what the course has studied, or about peak oil in general, can visit the course's Wikiversity site: Peak oil, energy, and society.