Society and Sustainability - Biking Maine

Society and Sustainability - Biking Maine

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What better way to explore alternative ways of living, feeding, and travel than by bike? And what better place to do it than in Waldo County Maine, an international hotspot for organic farming, alternative energy, and sustainable communities. And what better time to be in Maine than in August! Join us on this week long bike adventure through some of the most beautiful and sustainable landscapes in the world where you’ll get an insider’s perspective on The Belfast Co-Housing project, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Maine Farmland Trust’s Veggies for All program, the Belfast Co-Op., 350 Maine, the Waldo County Trails Coalition, and more. Learn on site and by bike from the folks who are growing some of the most sustainable communities in the world.

Credits: 3 
August 16 - 22

$1,470 for credit
   $770 non-credit

Description : 

AN 2113 Society and Sustainability : Biking Maine
The world’s high energy consumption patterns of the last eight years are unique in human history and are unsustainable. We must develop new forms of energy use, but also new or rediscovered social practices: alternative ways of living with each other in a world after peak oil. This course studies alternative and emerging social systems such as cooperatives, micro-banks and local currencies, land trusts, Transition Towns, new electoral systems, worker-owned companies, systems of restorative justice, regional community planning, and consumer movements. We will draw on examples from communities and nations worldwide, compare their effectiveness, and image ways to implement social change for sustainability. Those interested in society and sustainability for non-credit will also find this unique course intriguing. 

Credits: 3 
Dates: August 16 - 22

Target Audience

Students from all majors would be interested in this course, especially Adventure-based Environmental Education, Adventure Therapy, Earth and Environmental Science, Sustainable Agriculture, and Sustainable Energy Management majors. 

Level of Difficulty

Participants should have some previous cycling experience and be able to keep up a level of exercise for several hours.  We will be cycling 20 to 40 miles a day. 

Deliverables and Learning Outcomes 

Participants will:

  • Learn about initiatives that build sustainable and resilient communities including efforts to protect core habitats, build passive housing, grow young organic farmers, support those with insufficient food, and play and dance together.
  • Learn why the status quo is extremely risky and why planetary conscious living is empowering, wholesome and real.
  • Learn how to use a bicycle as a serious transportation modality for commuting, errands, adventure and health. Learn how to tune up your derailleurs, brakes, diet and mind.
  • Gain ability to contribute to group and planetary cohesion. 
  • Explore their own attitudes about their relationship with all life, to the food they eat, and to what contributes to wellbeing.


$1,470 for credit or $770 non-credit.  Includes room, board and fees. Please note that although there will be a selection of bicycles and camping equipment for those who may need it, participants are encouraged to bring their own bicycle as well as any of their own riding and camping gear.


Jim Merkel is the author of The Global Living Handbook (2000), Radical Simplicity (2003), and Simplicidad Radical (2005). Previously, Merkel was an engineer and moved from involvement in the military industry to pioneering in sustainability. Jim currently writes, lectures and consults with campuses and municipalities on sustainability initiatives. He initiated the "Cycling for a Sustainable Future" speaking tour that has logged over 17,000 miles delivering lectures and workshops at over 40 colleges and universities. Merkel has led over 1,000 workshops and has lectured at dozens of universities on personal and institutional sustainability. Jim is a homesteader, bike commuter and thrift store patron.