Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Life in Rochester, NY

[I'm here in "the-weather-changes-every-15-minutes" Rochester!]

Having completed our 20 days of Orientation (see photos) and the closing ceremonies at New Windsor on Friday, Unit #270 BVSers said their goodbyes "several times" before departing on trains, planes or in automobiles that would rush them off to their assignments.

My assignment, working on alternative energy solutions for underdeveloped countries with AHEAD Energy Corporation, located in Rochester, NY at the University of Rochester.

The weather here has been cloudy and rainy for three days, so I've been thinking about all of you enjoying those warm, sunny California days. I was staying with the founder of AHEAD and his wife, Ben and MJ, in their beautifully landscaped, country style home til I moved into my own two-story house just a block away from the Genesee River. The Genesee River's name is derived from the Iroquois meaning good valley or pleasant valley for anyone interested.

It's a similar life to what I had in New Windsor with my fellow BVSers in that I'm living in an older building (a Victorian style house), have house mates (Mito, upstairs with me, and Mumina, the young woman downstairs, with Muktar and her Somali family) and I do a lot of walking (over a mile to the office). Ben and MJ walk or bike over a mile to work each day, too, so I won't be complaining. We have our own kitchen and bathrooms on the 2nd floor, and share a washer and dryer in the basement.

The first few days I hung out with Ben and MJ (Ben is also the Chairman of the Board and MJ is the Director and CEO of AHEAD)—looked for an apartment on Saturday, went to a Square Dancing Club's potluck (umm) on Sunday and, in between, began reading material on our new GHG project to get ready for Monday morning. The AHEAD founders are good people and have really gone out of their way to make me feel comfortable here. Not to forget their two cats Evelyn and Eric who kept me company during the late night reads.

I have a big desk and a new laptop computer in a roomy office at the University of Rochester, where AHEAD is based. After meeting my other team mates, Steve, Daniel, Mary Ellen and Keon (all student volunteers), I was immediately introduced to our Chemical Engineering department staff, Sandra, Andea and Larry. It looks like I'll be working on Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading of Hydo-Carbons Credits. No kidding! I know... it sounds complicated, maybe over my head, but I'm willing to give it a go. Ben and MJ believe this new venture could be a big benefit to Mozambique, the environment, their non-profit and it's my best shot at going overseas.

I'll admit it's been a bit of a challenge learning to live this way. I guess I could use my own money to upgrade the experience (I get a $60/mo stipend), but then it wouldn't be in-line with BVS's principles, would it. So I'm sticking to the plan, I'll make it work, and I'm even starting to have some fun! The work I'm doing is terrific, totally interesting, I love the UR campus and Ben and MJ have entrusted me with, I think, a lot of responsibility.

Still no bike, yet... but my landlord, Dave, who's also very cool, invited me over for dinner on Tuesday to meet a bunch of his friends and says he will help me get one. Apparently the "housing co-op," Ant-Hill (lots of co-op type stuff around here), that's down the street has a bunch of bikes in their basement and one that I could fix-up.

Looks like I'll be on this side of the "states" for a while. Lots more coming on the Ant-Hill Cooperative and the Genesee River.

Reporting from the underground...

Stan Morris