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A Friendly Reminder from Warren Wilson’s Auto Shop

Hello Warren Wilson staff, faculty, and students. This is a message to all of you.

Last semester, there was an incident where a student drove a 14-passenger minibus into the Kittredge overhang, totaling it. Now, there are several vehicles that are too tall to go under the Kittredge overhang. Vehicles with this restriction are marked for YOUR CONVENIENCE, and to reduce the likelihood that an unaware driver will try to drive them under the overhang, resulting in a horrible smashing grating mess that costs the school lots and lots of money. Since all of our oversized vehicles are road-legal, it’s not a big deal to go around the theatre on Warren Wilson road. If you ever, for any reason, find yourself piloting an oversized vehicle, just go around the theatre. We’re begging you.

That being said, this incident is indicative of a trend here at Wilson– generally, we need to be more aware of what’s going on around us. It’s the Wilson Way, you know? But everything starts going so fast– we’re all trying to hold on, meet deadlines, stretch the hours, get it done, and suddenly we’re all walking around in our own bubbles of responsibility, not looking where we’re going and running into each other (and the Kittredge overhang. We really cannot stress that enough.)

That’s not what sustainability looks like–not on an individual level and not on a campus level. How can we be a sustainable campus if the community continues to make costly mistakes that could be avoided by simply being more attentive to our surroundings? Being aware takes a little more time, focus, and energy, but isn’t that the spirit of Warren Wilson? At the Autoshop, we think it is, so here are a few suggestions to enhance vehicle-related sustainability (i.e. greening the machines):

  • How many times have you been in a vehicle inching across campus behind a herd of oblivious pedestrians? How many times have you been one of the oblivious pedestrians? Have you ever wondered how much time and money we waste waiting for each other, how much time and money could be saved with a slight increase in every individual’s mindfulness? We would, at the very least, have one less vehicle out of commission today, and an entire fleet with less transmission problems. Maybe we’d all get to class on time more often. Maybe everyone would get free cake. You never know.
  • Most campus vehicles can (and need to be) driven in 1st gear. The “P R D 3 2 1″ on the dash are actually different gear options. Driving in 1st gear tells your vehicle not to work as hard, so the driver can brake less and still stay within the campus speed limit. Preserve the transmission, conserve the brakes, and keep your vehicles in low gears on campus.
  • The speed limit exists for everyone’s, including our personal and campus vehicles’, safety. Sunderland parking lot, the four way stop by Forestry, the FMTS loop–some places on campus have blind corners, harsh hills, or napping dogs, and everywhere is littered with coworkers, friends, people. Keep them in mind. If you can not see behind that random object you have no idea if a flying student on a bike is about to pop out of there in front of you, only to be run over by your vehicle.
  • When you are behind the wheel of a campus vehicle, especially off campus, no one sees you personally, but they do see the banner “Warren Wilson College” waving across the side. When you get behind the wheel, remind yourself “Now, I am a representative of the college; my boss trusts me to operate this very expensive vehicle and will be held accountable for my actions; I’m not in a rush.”
  • Nothing is free. Every department is feeling the financial strain right now, which we can conceptualize as “bad and restrictive” or “an encouragement to find new and creative ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle.” We’d prefer you do the latter.

How do we get work done efficiently on this campus without vehicles? We can’t. How do we obtain and maintain vehicles without money? We can’t, but here at the Autoshop, we can do more on-campus repairs, more rebuilds and assemblies. With better planning and firm convictions, the Autoshop can take the time to try to reuse before we recycle, rebuild before we replace, fabricate before we buy, or fix up a beater-vehicle before we give it up as two tons of waste. These are just a few ways we can contribute to improving our campus, and we’re excited to try! But we need everyone’s help.

What do you think? Can we use this mistake as a learning experience for the community, rather than solely reprimanding the individual? Will you, in all of your roles and positions on this campus, be more aware of yourself as part of the community? Will you try to live your beliefs every day, rather than just pondering them as wishful dreams? Will you take responsibility for your actions as an expression of yourself, your goals, and your values? Will you bring the change you want to see in the world to this campus, and help us as we try to do the same?

Jonathan Unger

Autoshop Supervisor

and the cubs: Eli, Jenna, Lizzie, Carsyn, Lauren, Jupee, Abby, Jenna, Alex, Fiona, Mike, Wesley, and Nathan (who edited this thing).

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