As we move closer to the end of our discussions and the beginning of construction, we find an increased interest in our project from the ‘outside world’ (when you work for 8 months in a windowless warehouse, you begin to view the world that way). Anyway, we have been busy conducting small tours, and last Sunday evening Tom appeared on Ken Byczynski’s Green Hour radio program on 103.5 FM. It was a pretty interesting discussion mainly because it had nothing to do with what I expected to hear. Ken, if I have not yet mentioned him in this blog, is one of the stalwarts of the Zero Energy group, and has a business installing insulation. He and his friend Dan talk about green topics for an hour every Sunday night, so I guessed that they wanted to talk with Tom about the specifics of the Green Garage project. But no, the conversation veered off in the direction of teamwork and leadership. Since Ken has been working with Tom for many months now, he observed the way he has made this project come together with dozens of volunteers, and wanted to share this with his listeners. And in my completely unbiased opinion, I think it was a great conversation. I know Tom had a good time.
Onto the accountability portion of this post…..Now that we are nearing completion of our initial work, we are thinking about how we can keep focused on the requirements we developed for the project while mired in the day-to-day realities of the construction process. We spent a lot of time working this through, and don’t want to lose what we have developed. So we have come up with the idea of a committee of 8-10 people who will follow the construction process through and won’t be afraid to speak up if we begin making compromises that affect fundamental requirements. We all have been through enough construction to know that there is very little accountability between all parties involved. You hire an architect and once his work is done, he is gone. Same with your contractor. So who holds everyone accountable for the final product? And once the building is completed, who continues to work through issues that come up? Because this building will be more dependant on nature than most (natural solar gain, ventilation systems, etc), we really don’t know exactly how it will function throughout the seasons, and we expect to keep working the process through. Making a building like this work requires a lot of work — and something we’re calling Planetary Citizen Accountability. We all are acountable for what the architects and engineers produce. We are not going to turn something over without an understanding that we all are partners in the design and construction. Over the past 8 months we have developed an expertise that we’ll need to bring to the table in the upcoming construction period.
If the description of Planetary Citizen Accountability above is a bit murky, let me give you another example, this time in the field of education. In high school, our oldest daughter had an exceptional English teacher who understood the meaning of accountability. Near the bottom of his syllabus, he wrote a message to the students. He told them that once they were a student of his, they would always be his student. That meant that once they were out of his class, they could always have him read anything they wrote, and he would give them feedback. This extended not only through high school, but college and into their working years.
So this is what we want for the Green Garage….a lifetime of accountability.