The Greenhouse House stood as a cultural icon for the Arcata community before it was acquired from it’s previous owner under threat of imminent domain by Humboldt State University; and it was a sad day indeed when the great educational example of appropriate technology that was the Greenhouse House was demolished to make room for the aesthetic that is yet another useless piece of mowed lawn.
Here is the letter (dated 3-20-09) that I sent to the HSU administration offices (minus my contact info):
To Whom It May Concern,
Humboldt State University has always been a shining example of upholding the values of environmental sustainability and social responsibility. I am proud to be an HSU graduate for this reason. I have always tried my best to emulate the fine example HSU has traditionally set. As a consequence of my education at HSU, I am in the process of starting a non-profit organization whose mission it is to increase the quality of life for, and to increase awareness of, the actual and potential benefits inherent to small rural communities; and whose primary strategy is to demonstrate, document, and disseminate subsistence-level self-sufficiency and ecologically sustainable design principles, and ethical intentional community practices.
It had been one of my goals for many years to live in the Greenhouse House at 426 Plaza Avenue, or in the very least to get permission to utilize its greenhouse for some of my research and design in appropriate technology. I achieved that goal in January 2008 when unit # 3 became available. For over a year now, I have utilized the greenhouse. In the spirit of HSU, I have been happily showing it to people and talking to them about the many advantages of appropriate technology and a more environmentally friendly and socially responsible lifestyle.
For generations, the Greenhouse House has stood for all to see as a living HSU and Arcata community icon; serving as a great example of appropriate technology, with its green architecture, passive solar and thermal mass heating, renewable energy (photovoltaic), and organic greenhouse produce. It is of immense educational value and I can be proud to have served it in that tradition. During the latter part of this last year, I had been planning to incorporate aquaculture and vertical grow tubes into the greenhouse in order to show how a synergistic terra- and aqua-polyculture food-producing strategy can be successfully maintained at home in a limited greenhouse space. Unfortunately my plans were cut short. Since HSU purchased the property this last year, all of us residents at the 426 Plaza Avenue complex have been informed that we must vacate by June 15, so that demolition of the entire property can take place. We are all saddened by this, and it is a huge shame to the Arcata and university community that destruction of the Greenhouse House has even been considered, let alone planned for.
It might be too late to spare the main residence portion (the white housing complex) of 426 Plaza Avenue, but I whole-heartedly urge CCAT and all other relevant/interested programs/persons to please be aware that the excellent educational resource and example that is the Greenhouse House has been slated for destruction. I also urge all relevant faculty and staff to please come together with the common goal of finding a way to preserve the Greenhouse House so that future generations of students and other Arcata residents may continue to learn from its presence and utilization. I am willing to assist in any way that I can and may.
Founder and President
Ecoculture Village (Inc. pending) [a non-profit entity]
I received no reply from HSU. In previous communications with the Campus Center for Appropriate Technology (CCAT), I tried to get HSU to integrate the Greenhouse House into the CCAT program but I was invariably told by everybody I spoke with that they were not in a position to make that kind of a decision. The folks at CCAT have done some great work advocating appropriate technology, but I was surprised nobody there referred me to anyone who at least made the attempt to negotiate to move the Greenhouse House to a more appropriate location such as they did with the CCAT House when the land it was on was slated for construction of the new Behavioral & Social Sciences Building. Here is the CCAT homepage: https://www.humboldt.edu/ccat/.