Friday was the last official day of work for our intern pioneers (pioneers because they are the first). Kirsten Lyons came to us from Lawrence Tech, where she is studying architecture. Kevin Gardner came from the College for Creative Studies, where he is studying design. We hired them as interns before we knew exactly what we were going to do with them, but they had been volunteering with us throughout the fall and winter, and we knew they had to be a part of our continuing work.
At first, they had the unenviable job of working with the team on translating our technical design onto wiki pages so we had it archived. You can see their work on our Earth Patterns pages. Early on, we could see that they both had areas of expertise that we could tap into beyond their writing skills. Kirsten had some experience with energy modeling (taking data, plugging it in to a model, and seeing how the building would perform with given factors), and was willing to learn more. So she became our energy modeling guru, learning both Energy 10 and E Quest. In addition, she is a master gardener and master composter, so she helped design our gardens on a CAD format, in addition to providing invaluable advice.
Kevin proved to be a master of CAD, and drew up all of our systems, such as this Geo-Solar Hybrid Heating and Cooling System. In addition, Kevin designed our rooftop patio/garden area, complete with rain barrels, innovative shading, planting areas and a zen garden. He was also a great help in pushing us a little further in our social networking capability, getting us linked in to Twitter. Overall, he was a great contributor of innovative ideas, constantly challenging us to think outside the box, and keeping us focused on our community mission.
Their biggest contribution, however, was simply their presence. Tom, Joe, Kirsten and Kevin made a great working team, each contributing a skill set and mind set that complemented the others. For those of us who participated on a more semi-regular basis, they were a pleasure to work with and just be around. As we take on other interns in the future, the big lesson for us is to listen to them, understand what they have a passion for, and let them have at it. Now, that’s my definition of great work.