(This summer, our Michigan team is working with GreenNation on the Green Economy Leadership Training program. This entry was written by GELT-er Zack Holden. Cross-posted on Solutionaries.net)

This past Thursday, I learned to soder, or to speak very technically, sweat pipes. Later that day, we built a bench out of discarded wood combined with the trunk of a tree I had cut down earlier in the day. This doesn’t sound too meaningful, but in actually it pretty profoundly represents the genius of GELT, and why I decided to spend my summer in Highland Park.

You see, sodering and making a bench share the attribute of being work that engages with ‘the good’. Sorry for lapsing into jargon, but what I mean is that this type of labor engages with the human need for excellence. Further, in this type of labor, you know if you reached the ‘Good’- the bench either holds weight and stands straight, or it doesn’t. The pipes either hold water, or they don’t. To me at least, this presents a welcome relief from the abstract realm of academia.

My love for this type of work isn’t just born out frustration with intellectual debates, I also find that his kind of work offers a certain satisfaction in that it actually produces. At the end of the day, I have a pipe system and a bench to show for my labor, and the knowledge that I have produced something useful in this world.

This production is the driving force behind GELT. I find that the supreme virtue of GELT in comparison to my previous experiences in the sustainability movement is that GELT has a unique focus on producing a tangibly greener world. Instead of producing memos, GELT produces raised beds, hoop houses, and cob ovens. This is why I chose to spend my summer in Highland Park- it allows me to put my beliefs into practical action, and physically create the green world I want to live in.