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Block Island Independent Project
May 2013

with Nicholas '13, Peter '14, and Oliver '14 

Block Island in Rhode Island
Our goal for this independent study projects block is to learn about the history and ecology of Block Island, RI. We are volunteering at multiple organizations including the nature conservancy on the island as well as visiting historical sites and taking advantage of other learning opportunities.

Last Day!

May 10, 2013

Our last day on Block Island was very eventful. In the morning, we woke up and went to Sun Farm Oysters to work with Chris Warfel. Our work was slightly different this time. We tended to juvenile oysters that had been growing over the winter. Chris explained to us that this was one of the sadder parts of working with oysters because when tending to the young in the spring, you see how many failed to survive through the winter. When we were finished, Chris gave us Sun Farm Oyster t-shirts and some oysters to take home.

Our last activity on Block Island was an aerial tour. We went up on a six-seater plane that took off from the Block Island airport and flew around the island seeing multiple landmarks along the way. When we landed, we didn't have much time to get on the ferry so we quickly said goodbye and thank you to the Mitchells for housing us. We were very appreciative and sad to go. We thoroughly enjoyed our time on Block Island and feel that we've learned a lot, consciously and unconsciously.

tending oysters and an aerial view of block island

Posted by HMS on Sunday May 12, 2013 at 03:20PM
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Fog and Rain!

May 9, 2013

The fog rolled in this morning and it was followed shortly by rain. We had hoped to do trail clearing work again today but we were kept inside by the rain. Cutting our losses, we assembled deck chairs for Tom Mitchell. When the clouds broke we went for a kayak ride on Block Island's Fresh Pond that was cut short by another bout of rain.

After lunch, we went to the Southeast Lighthouse and worked with Pam Gasner moving antique furniture in preparation for the lighthouse's renovation. When we finished with that, we went back to the Historical Society with Pam. There, she showed us genealogy charts and old family records from Block Island's early years.

working on block island

Posted by HMS on Friday May 10, 2013 at 11:25AM
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The Nature Conservancy

May 8, 2013

This morning, we got up and went to the Nature Conservancy. There, we met with Adrian Mitchell who organizes the trail clearing efforts on Block Island. Adrian gave us tools and gloves and directed us to a trail to clear.  We worked there until the rain came in around noon.

In the afternoon, we took an in-depth driving tour of Block Island with Peter's father Tom. Tom drove us to several interesting and somewhat-hidden locations that he knows about because of the long time he's spent on Block Island. One of the more interesting things we saw was a submarine spotting tower that was built during World War 2 but is now decommissioned.

working at the Nature Conservancy on Block Island

Posted by HMS on Thursday May 9, 2013 at 09:03AM
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Block Island Power Company

May 7, 2013

This morning we took a tour of the Block Island power plant, led by Seth Dulac who works at the plant. He showed us the diesel generators that Block Island runs off of as well as a power regulation system. He stressed to us the importance of keeping the plant as environmentally responsible as possible by using different fuel filtering techniques and being responsible in dealing with the by-products that are created by the generators. He told us about new laws that were being passed in Rhode Island that hold power plants to certain environmental standards and how no such laws existed when he first started working at the plant. He reminisced about island life and his childhood on the island and explained to us how he thought it had changed.

Before noon, we went to the Block Island Community Center to work with the Lunch Bunch. There, we helped set up tables, serve food to the seniors and clean up afterwards. While we were in the kitchen we got the opportunity to talk to lots of the Block Island old-timers and hear what they had to say. Many of them were very friendly and joked with us while we worked. When the diners had finished eating, we wiped off the tables and put them away. Then Sandra Kelly, the organizer of the Lunch Bunch, thanked us and we were on our way.

In the evening we helped set up tables and chairs for a community event at Saint Andrew's Church. After that we had hoped to visit an observatory and look at the stars, however the sky was too cloudy at that point. We will hopefully have a clear night this week so we can see the stars through the telescope.

the Block Island Power Company and the Lunch Bunch

Posted by HMS on Wednesday May 8, 2013 at 12:43PM
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The Historical Society and the Southeast Lighthouse

May 6, 2013

Today we got back to Block Island after spending the weekend in New Hampshire. Our hectic rush to the ferry was the perfect contrast to the tranquility of Block Island. On the island, we worked with Pam Gasner, the director of  the Historical Society.

We helped Pam get the Historical Society ready to reopen this summer by moving furniture and doing landscaping work. In the yard, we cleaned up debris that had washed up doing hurricane Sandy. We moved furniture out of rooms that need restoration and brought it to the Southeast Lighthouse. When we got to the light house, fog was rolling in off the ocean and Pam gave us the first tour of the season. It was an insider tour because the light house is not yet officially open! She brought us all the way to the top of the light tower. The light is one of the only remaining original lights in the world. In recent times, most lighthouse lights have been modernized and use LED bulbs. Pam has fought very hard for the original light to stay in and it will for now.

students work at the Block Island Historical Society and tour one the Southeast lighthouse which has one of the world's few remaining original lights.

Posted by HMS on Tuesday May 7, 2013 at 10:19AM
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