“Luther is a place of intersection. Founded where river, woodland, and prairie meet, we practice joyful stewardship of the resources that surround us.”

-Luther College Mission Statement

Constitution of The Luther College Sustainable-Living House

Also known as LEFSE (Luther's Environmental, Fiscal, and Socially responsible Edifice)

September 20, 2011

I.     House Mission Statement

 In the spirit of Luther College's Sustainability Initiative, this student living/learning campus residence is dedicated to an environmentally, socially, and fiscally sustainable lifestyle. The Luther College Sustainability House residents will develop projects and research to enhance their collective living experience and spread the principals of sustainability to the campus and greater community through outreach and education. This house will serve as an experimental ground for innovative approaches to the challenges we all face. An active model for others, it welcomes Luther College Students of all fields of study in their Sophomore, Junior and Senior years to live and learn together in community.

Sustainability as defined by Luther's Sustainability Council:

"long-term decision-making about environmental issues as well as issues of economic viability and social justice."

II.        Membership

a.   Residence is open to all Luther College students of all fields of study and will not be restricted on the basis of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation or political affiliation.

b.   Qualifications of Residents

                   i.    All residents must demonstrate a commitment to becoming more intentional in their lifestyles

                   ii.   Preference to applicants committed to live in house for full two years. Applications submitted each year of residence.

                   iii.   All residents must commit to attending house meetings regularly and completing assigned house responsibilities in a timely manner

                   iv.   House RA chosen by Residence Life staff. Ideally, RA applies to be an active house resident, and fundamentally must express a sincere willingness to participate in intentional lifestyle choices.

c.   Classes of membership

                    i.   Student residents will be of Sophomore, Junior or Senior class standing for the year of residence

                    ii.   One junior or senior RA will reside in the house

                           A. Is encouraged to participate in the house large-scale project

                           B. Must be present for drafting the House Operating Plan and commit to consumption standards and community expectations

                   iii.  Faculty/Staff adviser, Sustainability Coordinator/Assistant will not reside in house, but will be present as needed.

                           A. Guide semester/summer book discussions (for credit if associated with faculty) if desired by the house.

                          B. Supervision of large-scale house project

                   iv.   Faculty adviser(s) will not reside in house, but are encouraged to meetings once a month.

                           A.  Faculty volunteers can be invited to lead a house-related independent study for students.

                           B.  All Luther faculty invited to join and contribute to book discussions

                           C.  Upon expressing interest, faculty elected to become official house faculty adviser.

                           D.  If nominated by residents, participation in proceeding year's selection committee.

d.   Method of admittance

                   i.    An online application must be submitted by the student the year preceding residence

                   ii.   Two references must submit an online evaluation of the student

                   iii.   A selection committee will be chosen to review and select the best resident applications

                           1.  Online skype or in-person interviews will be held between potential residents and at least one member of the committee

                           2.  Resident selection completed as determined by Res Life (February)

                           3.  Selected Residents will be contacted via email and will be invited to attend a spring gathering: welcome to the house!

                           4.  Four members:

                                   A.  Residence Life representative, ie Kris Franzen

                                       B.  Sustainability: Dan Bellrichard and/or Maren Stumme-Diers

                                   C.  One elected Senior resident representative

                                   D.  Faculty representative

            e.   Provision for relocation of resident

                        i.  If a resident ever cannot complete his/her responsibilities or is in some manner impairing house operation he/she will be asked to be relocated to another residence by the staff/faculty adviser or RA

                           1.  A resident can elect to be removed if he/she finds the house is detrimental to his/her studies.

                           2.  House adviser or RA will  be responsible for privately discussing the actions of the resident if ever a lack of participation becomes evident.

III.   House Roles

           a.        Roles are rotated every four to six meetings.

                           i.        Nominated (self nomination welcome).

                        ii.         Two members per role


1.  Meeting Leaders

Primary job is facilitating the Tuesday night meetings. Manages the itinerary, ensures that time spent in the meeting is well budgeted, sends out emails (etc) that have not been delegated to other house members. Chooses someone to take out garbage after meeting.

                     2.  Historians

Manage meeting minutes; send minutes to house members, with reminders of tasks that were delegated to individuals; writes (or delegates) blog entries; takes pictures of any house events, and manages pictures (flickr/blog).

                     3. Social Chairs

Organize social events for house members, as well as events between the house and the community.

        4. Grocers:

Checks stockpiles of community items (flour, sugar, milk, eggs, olive oil, etc) and takes appropriate measures to replenish low stores, whether by making purchases him/herself or by instructing another house member who is making a grocery run. Care must be taken to separate costs of the individual’s purchases from the cost of the group’s purchases.

                5. Auditors:

Tracks consumption/production; digitizes results (with fancy graphs or charts).  Responsible for tracking the house budget as well as measuring or delegating the measurement of house consumption standards (record on house blog and/or website).


IV.    Projects

a. Outreach

    The annual action plan entails house-wide participation in designing and implementing both large and small-scale projects that address the three facets of sustainability. Plan will be implemented for both small and large projects as the house sees fit revolving around themes such as social justice, carbon-neutrality, low-budget sustainable lifestyles, or education. Projects will be selected by resident consensus with staff adviser guidance.  

        b. House operation and betterment

Small-scale projects will entail an annual operating plan drafted by each year's residents setting standards for consumption, community expectations as well as delegating and defining rotation of daily responsibilities. The basic formats for such measures are outlined below.

         Required meetings


               a.    Preceding Spring: Potluck for residents, adviser(s)

                   i.    Meet and Greet        

                   ii.   Review House Constitution, last year's Operating Plan

                   iii.   Decide on possible summer and fall readings

                iv. Discuss house roles.      

                    v.  Based on faculty and student response, set up independent studies (1-2academic credits) on individual or group basis within the scope of "Intention Lifestyle"

               b.        Weekly meetings/dinners

                i.  Attendance Policy:  Discussion with house members and possible meeting with faculty advisor if resident misses 3 excused or 1 unexcused meetings in a semester.

                   ii.  Set aside time for the house members to draft and amend the Operating Plan        

                iii. Priority will be given to logistical house functions, but meetings can also be open to group discussions or house projects

    Critical Deadlines:

                     a.         Before classes resume: house retreat to get to know other residents and begin initial planning.

                    b.        First day of school: Complete summer reading (if applicable)

                    c.            September 15th: Publish annual house Operating Plan

                    d.            Fall semester: Create timelines for specific projects

                    e.        Second Semester: Implement large-scale project and subsequent outreach, complete final reading (if applicable).

                    f.     Spring break: Begin house evaluation, Complete second semester reading (if applicable)

House Project

        a. The house is encouraged to take 2 weeks at the start of a semester to brainstorm potential ideas for house projects, which can be either large or small in scale. Visual brainstorming (idea mapping) can be helpful. The house advisor should also be contacted for ideas.

        b. There are two sorts of projects that the house ought to engage in: outreach and house betterment. Some projects will address both categories.

c. Large-scale project: The house may choose to pursue a single large-scale project over the course of a semester, to which everyone contributes.

                i. Care must be taken not to overestimate the capabilities of the house members; all members must be in agreement if they are to work on the same project for a semester

                ii. Consideration must be given into whether the project will need a longer-term commitment (whether future houses will be burdened with its upkeep)

                iii. Example large-scale projects: planning and implementing edible landscaping, raising chickens for eggs, installing sustainable additions to the house, large-scale outreach to college students and staff

        d. Small-scale project: The house may choose to pursue a number of smaller projects, either one at a time with each member making contributions, or in small groups working at several projects at once.

                i. Divisions of labor must be more carefully considered in implementing small-scale projects. The size and makeup of a group, as well as the work expected of each member, make all the difference in the success of a project.

                ii. Example small-scale projects: Finding (or writing) an article and leading a discussion, opening lines of communication with other college sustainability houses, performing a waste audit (or other projects similar to the role of the auditor), small-scale outreach to college students and staff, upcycling single-sided paper into notebooks, holding public movie nights and showing environmental documentaries