Read about Devin’s experiences weatherizing homes in MT;
Working in stranger’s homes is hard. Or rather most of the time I would imagine it is hard. You have to be careful and respectful in a way that you wouldn’t in a public space, and when you are using power tools to attach strips of metal to their doors and doorframes you expect people to be wary of the damage you may cause. But I guess people in Montana aren’t exactly like other people. When I am invited into a Montanan’s home to weatherize, that is really what it feels like: an invitation. People are excited to have us in their home, too focused on learning about our work and who we are to question the possibility of something going wrong. Even on the rare occasions where there has been an issue, a window broken due to overzealous installation of door stripping or a showerhead that simply wouldn’t budge becoming stripped, the accident has been met with understanding rather than animosity.
This is not to say that always going into people’s homes is easy, for that is far from the truth. There are some homes, and too many kind generous people who we have to inform that we cannot install the new insulation that they need, or fix their roof that leaks year round. It can be hard and at times seem near pointless putting window plastic over windows that are set in walls too thin to keep out the cold and even sometimes too riddled with holes to keep out the snow. Our meager offering in these homes feels like putting band-aids over bullet wounds, and I imagine I would often feel dejected about these circumstances, simply wishing that I could provide more if not for the gratitude that meets us at every doorstep. For maybe I sell the benefit we provide too short, as the vast majority of people we meet are genuinely thankful, truly believing that the stripping and the plastic and the showerheads are already helping them. So maybe I should start believing in that, because they know their homes far better than I do.
Devin Rothman graduated from Earlham College in May 2014 with a B.A. in Environmental Science. He has worked doing active conservation and stewardship both with a land conservancy in Ann Arbor and a forest preserve in New Zealand. He also has experience teaching both volunteers and as a teaching assistant while at Earlham. Devin will serve at NCAT this year, weatherizing low income homes and educating communities about energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.