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2012

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Madison's first eco-community

Freshmen make lifestyle changes to make a difference
By By Evan Dyson ('08)

Hoffman Hall houses JMU's first eco-community.
Freshmen are living a green lifestyle in Hoffman Hall, JMU's first eco-community.

For 14 freshmen living in Hoffman Hall, thinking green is much more than a fad, it's a lifestyle.

Under the leadership of JMU professors Maria Papadakis, Pete Bsumek and Julia Sochacki, the newly created Madison Eco-Community at Hoffman Hall is a unique experience with an emphasis on environmental stewardship and sustainability. Throughout the year, students involved in the program learn about human effects on the environment through course work and projects in addition to getting a firsthand look at the world through coordinated outdoor activities.

A valuable, rewarding transitional experience

"Living in this community has helped me think about what I'm doing and to make the small changes in my life become everyday habits because I'm in a place where people care about that," says Blake Krejci ('12) of Vienna.

In addition to hiking under a full moon and visiting the Chesapeake Bay to learn about its health, the students have also spent time removing invasive plant species from area wetlands. Everyday habits adapted by the students include the use of reusable mugs and flatware and consideration for the amount of electricity used by their devices.

Liz Coates ('12) of Leesburg says the experience allows for "transitioning as a freshman into the college experience and then giving us a place where we could connect with other people." In doing so, she adds, the community fosters opportunities to form lasting friendships and plan adventures outside of the academic experiences.

Making connections with Madison and the world

Working with staff members from the JMU Office of Residence Life, the group is developing changes to the residence hall room shown during campus admissions tours. Emphasis is being placed on the importance of a green lifestyle. Students are also providing input to revamp the suggested list of items that incoming students should bring to campus.

The Madison Eco-Community is open to incoming freshmen, but this year's group is already investigating the possibility of forming a club for the rest of their Madison Experience. "If you want to be healthy and if you want to have a healthy lifestyle," Lindsay Holt ('12) says, "I think a big part of that is to remember how you're connected with the world around you."