If 2009 is shaping up to be anything, it's the year that everything and its aunt are "going green" — or at least that's the meme that's being driven into our skulls for doing whatever we'd do anyway, but with green-colored packaging. Which is what makes the work of the Home Energy Efficiency Team (HEET), a Cambridge co-op, so inspiring.
RAISE THE ROOF: The HEET co-op will join together to weatherize the Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House and another community building this weekend.
Since August, the environmental-activist group has been organizing monthly "barn-raisings," which involve a large group of supervised volunteers weatherizing a house or building in Cambridge to make it more energy efficient (and thus save the owner money). And it's done in a fun, communal environment.
Property owners not only provide the materials for the job, they supply food and drink for all, and host an after-work party — complete with a band. Each HEET barn-raising has become a bigger and bigger deal, and the one planned for MLK weekend tackles two jobs at once: the community-based alternative Cambridgeport School building at 89 Elm Street, and the nearby Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House, named for the celebrated 19th-century transcendentalist writer and proto-feminist, at 71 Cherry Street. Both events take place on Sunday, January 18.
The barn-raising concept harks back to a rural age when entire communities would mobilize to build a neighbor's house or barn. HEET's goals are no less practical: protect the environment, help local homeowners, and most important, teach useful skills to members of the community. Although weatherizing one or two houses a month isn't going to reduce Cambridge's carbon footprint immediately, spreading weatherizing knowledge and skills will, HEET organizers hope, have a long-term impact. They've already generated some heat, as new HEET co-ops have popped up outside of Cambridge.
There is still room for volunteers for Sunday's event, so if you are interested in a day of food, music, and learning how to test for air leaks, contact HEET co-founder Steve Wineman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617.876.4753.
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