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Local volunteers help Bonnaroo’s conservation efforts

Posted on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 11:21 am

Jason Fulks of We Are Neutral shows volunteers how to replace various energy-saving products. (Staff photos by John Coffelt)

John Coffelt 

Eco-minded community volunteers, including a collection of teens, set aside their plans for Memorial Day weekend to help install energy-saving equipment in the homes of 100 of Manchester’s less fortunate.

Work began in the cool of Friday morning. A collection of middle and high school volunteers working with Keep Coffee County Beautiful installed at Manchester Public Housing reduced-flow showerheads, sink and kitchen sink water saving aerators, energy efficient light bulbs and insulated exposed hot water pipes.

Bonnaroo working with the Florida eco company We are Neutral.

“We are hoping to reduce utility bills for the families here at the complex,” said Jacob Cravey, Executive Director of We Are Neutral. “By reducing utility bills you are also reducing carbon emissions, so we are having an economic as well as an environmental and social impact.”

Cravey was excided about the reception he received from the Manchester community.

“It’s really great to come into a small town…and see not just the interconnectedness but the desire to support the community as a whole.”

He added, “It’s really unique about Manchester.”

Keep Coffee County Beautiful spearheaded the volunteer aspect of the project.

KCCB president Tonya Wilkinson said that locally most people think of recycling when it comes to helping the environment.

“[We’re] here to help the environment and make the world a better place,” she explained to some of the youth who had gathered on Friday to help.

Teams of volunteers covered Butler Circle Apartments on Friday, Short and Raven on Saturday and Rivendell on Sunday.

Cravey said that typically for the community projects We Are Neutral focuses on “those who need it the most.”

This is the third year the organization has worked with Bonnaroo.

Cravey said that this project was the next evolution in creating carbon offsets.

He said that depending on utility usage, residents can expect to save 10-15 percent on their bills.

“Historically for every dollar we invested, [we see] 20 in savings over the life of the product. It provides tremendous savings for low, up-front cost.”

Part of the We Are Neutral program monitors energy savings of the families into the future.

The concept, Cravey explained, is that by reducing utility usage, the organization reduces the carbon emissions.

“As you reduce electricity… the less coal is being burned. That reduces the amount of carbon emissions that are going into the air,” he offered to the young volunteers.

We Are Neutral is an offshoot of Earth Givers, Inc., of Gainesville, Fla., a 501(c)3 non-profit. The organization trains volunteers in the Gainsville area to replace fixtures in low-income housing.