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Believe it or not, 18 Lafayette students live together in a treehouse right here on campus.

Well—not quite. But they are residents of the TREEhouse special living group on the third and fourth floors of Keefe Hall, where they have committed to live in a low-impact, environmentally conscious culture.

TREEhouse (“TREE” is an acronym for The Real Environmental Experience) residents focus on recycling, efficiency, and conservation, and try to generate as little waste as possible.  The members of the group are also active in helping to develop a campus-wide consciousness about preservation of the environment.

The group participates in activities that combine environmental awareness with fun. Earlier this semester, TREEhouse members connected with C.A.F.E. (Cooking and Food Enthusiasts) to cook a dinner using only locally grown food. The group has held off-campus hiking trips, and participants put their recycling skills to work as they decorated their floor lounge using nothing but unused items from their rooms and closets.

“We try to hold events to make sure that we, as a floor, are being as sustainable as possible,” says Greg Miller ’13 (Southbury, Conn.), a neuroscience major and floor president.

In the coming months, the group will screen environmental documentaries in the lounge, build bird houses for the College’s organic garden, and develop other events to demonstrate ways that students can personally contribute to conservation efforts.

Advocacy is another important aspect of the floor’s mission.

“We want to create a culture where residents feel comfortable keeping sustainable habits and influencing others to follow their lead,” says Miller. “We would like to spread the word of preservation of the ecosystem to the rest of the campus, while also improving on our own inefficient practices.”

The camaraderie among like-minded students that the TREEhouse offers is a strong draw.

“I think the best thing about the floor is the proximity of engaged students to one another,” says Chris Kelly ’13 (Boyertown, Pa.), a double major in geology and international affairs and the floor’s resident adviser. “It is one thing for me to sit alone and think about holding a demonstration or trying to get solar panels out at Metzgar, but when you group a bunch of similar-minded, bright kids together, everyone feeds off of the enthusiasm and vigor of everyone else.”

Bryan McAtee ’11 (Round Hill, Va.), a geology major and vice president of TREEhouse, agrees.

“I especially enjoy that the floor tends to attract outgoing and interesting people, so the group that I live with is very exciting,” he says. “We all have similar views on environmental issues so there is plenty of encouragement and camaraderie when it comes to living in a more sustainable way.”

Changing the campus—and the world—is important work, but it doesn’t keep TREEhouse members from also having fun.

“There is always something going on in the lounge, whether it’s someone cooking, hanging out with friends, or just trying to get some work done,” says Miller. “Any one of the 17 other residents could be in the lounge and I would be perfectly comfortable sitting down and striking up a conversation. That is what is great about the TREEhouse. Everyone is extremely friendly and active on the floor, leading to a close-knit group of individuals. I never thought I would have a chance to live with other people who also care about their role in protecting the environment. Now that I do, I never want to leave.”

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