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Don't waste your energy

Draft Dodgers
By DANIEL BROCKMAN  |  January 14, 2009

RAISE THE ROOF: The HEET co-op will join together to weatherize the Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House and another community building this weekend.
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.

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 or 617.876.4753.

Related: Slideshow: Zombie march on Easter Sunday, Slideshow: Blastfest 2009, Best week ever!, More more >
  Topics: News Features , Culture and Lifestyle, Cambridge, Nature and the Environment,  More more >
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