Upland Hills EAC is a Michigan 501c3 organization, located in a beautiful rural setting in northern Oakland County. It was built in the 1970’s as a demonstration model for doing more with less, energy conservation, and alternative energy. The Center has 30+ years of experience in this field. The EAC is rooted in the desire to inform and nurture awareness, accompanied by actions that promote the well-being of all life on Earth. Since our inception we have been exploring the relationship between energy, ecology, wellness and wisdom, and encouraging others to do the same. We offer workshops and seminars, produce conferences and other major events, and provide a variety of green living resources and information to a growing EAC community.
The mission of Upland Hills EAC is to design, fund and facilitate programs and opportunities that: promote a responsible relationship with the natural world; demonstrate and promote world sustainability; bring the work and inspiration of world teachers to the Great Lakes Bioregion; encourage experiential learning, creativity and playfulness; promote global understanding; enable us to be what we teach; and cooperate with other organizations.
Deepak Chopra uses the term 'synchrodestiny' to suggest that there is a way to view coincidences as messages about the miraculous potential of each moment. His book reveals that through understanding the forces that shape coincidences, each of us can learn to live life at a deeper level and access the flow of synchronicity that lies at the heart of existence.During the summer of 1970 I attended a six week seminar inspired by Buckminster Fuller, called The World Game. It was Bucky's antidote to playing 'war games' and it changed my life. It was at a world game presentation that I first learned about the rate of consumption of the world's fossil fuel. It was clear (even than) that we were running out and that we needed to investigate and pursue alternative sources of energy.
In the Fall of 1973 our staff of five teachers met to discuss ways to inspire children to learn about our earth and to engage them in solving problems related to ecological issues. A wide ranging discussion resulted in a radical idea. We would purchase an Australian 2 KW wind system and model the behavior we wanted to inspire in our students. It would require 90% of our $5000 teaching material budget. In October of 1973 with the help of Al O'Shea, owner of a sign company and founder of environmental energies, we installed the Dunlite wind system next to our new geodesic dome classroom. Synchrodestiny at work the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973 unfolded weeks after our wind system was up and powering the lights, tools, and heat circulating pumps of the dome. United Press International ran a line over it's wire service that read 'small school in Oakland county foresees the Arab Oil Embargo and is prepared.' The resulting interest in our small school was overwhelming. Major newspapers, television stations, National Geographic School Bulletin, and local media descended on our school.
The response was so huge that we decided to hold a workshop in the summer of 1974 and form a new non profit organization called 'the Upland Hills Ecological Awareness Center'. During that first summer workshop we employed the model that we used in our school. The mornings would be devoted to learning about solar, wind and methane and the afternoon would be devoted to building small prototypes. We held these workshops over the next six years and the final three years resulted in building the EAC a wind powered, solar heated, earth insulated, building built into the southern exposure of a hill. This series of workshops inspired many participants that ranged in age from 19 to 90, nurses to engineers, to choose careers that led directly to profound changes in our area. Wayne Appleyard and Richard MacMath founded the architectural firm of Sunstructures Architects of Ann Arbor, David Konkel became Ann Arbor's first energy czar, and Debbie Rowe became Interim Dean of Applied and Engineering Technologies at Oakland Community College.
The summer workshops left artifacts on the school and in the surrounding fields. Wind systems that wouldn't spin (a darius rotor with a savonious starter), wind systems that blew themselves into smithereens, solar water heaters, solar stills, solar cookers, solar heaters made of beer cans and recycled glass, methane digesters that never digested, and integrated designs that tried to tie solar heated water to space heating to wind power stored as heat. Our students were so inspired that many of them choose to write reports in high school about their direct experience with alternative energy, including my two daughters who never seemed to be that interested when they attended our school. Over the years these experiments have served as examples of a school that wasn't afraid to try. We made so many mistakes but loved the process of being on a frontier. 34 years latter our Dunlite is back in service: a relic of a time long passed yet still inspiring us to think differently. Doing more with less, living with sources of energy that don't pollute, trying to do the impossible, watching towers fall and than getting the courage back to rebuild them have all become aspects of the Upland Hills Culture.
Upland Hills School is a member of AIMS - Association of Michigan Independent Schools