Walking The Green Mountain College Labyrinth

Up in Poultney, Vermont, a 30-mile drive west from Rutland, sits Green Mountain College, one of the more progressive colleges in the country.

With roots going back to 1834, the college today has a strong focus on the environment; its 25 undergraduate majors include Adventure Education, Environmental Studies, Natural Resources Management, Renewable Energy & Ecological Design, Sustainable Agriculture & Food Production and Sustainable Business & Writing.

Its 710 students have no baseball or football team; instead they play rugby, ultimate Frisbee and quidditch.

Best of all (in my opinion), the college has a labyrinth, which looked like this when I visited recently.

labyrinthA labyrinth is not a maze. It’s a path—with a beginning and an end—that’s designed to be walked in meditation. Ideally, the walker focuses on the process of walking and lets thoughts of the outside world slip away—and that’s what I tried to do.

The good thing is that I was alone.

The bad thing is that it was snowing and raining at the same time, a heavy wet early-December mix. And I was holding an umbrella. And my head, as usual, was full of questions, which I found answers to soon after.

When was the Green Mountain College Labyrinth built? 2006

Who designed it? Bill Vanderminden, copying the most famous of all labyrinths, the one in Chartres Cathedral.


Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth, built in the early 13th century.

Lastly, who built the Green Mountain Labyrinth? Students of the college and other volunteers, who laid slabs of Vermont slate on the designated path.

Despite these intruding thoughts, however, when I finally attained the center of the labyrinth, after several minutes of walking, there was a good feeling, which I won’t try to define further.

But I wasn’t at Green Mountain College simply to walk a labyrinth in cold wet snow. In fact, if you look back at the first photo, you can get a clue to the other feature of the college that attracted me.

The photo shows the edge of the college’s main solar array.

And this photo shows my Tesla Model S charging near a smaller array—for free.

tesla-feuling Now, as the sun wasn’t shining that day, the electricity I got was produced in some other fashion. But it wasn’t necessarily from hydrocarbons!

In fact, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “About half of all electricity consumed in Vermont comes from renewable sources, the majority from Canadian and New York hydroelectric generators. Vermont has several dozen small hydroelectric dams, which typically produce about one-tenth of state consumption, and several generators using wood and wood waste products.”

If you ever find yourself near Poultney, I recommend the Green Mountain College labyrinth.

In the meantime, for more info on labyrinths, click here.

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