A poll! To benefit my campus!

This is terribly self-serving, but I finally aim to use my poll-crashing powers for personal gain. UMM is competing in a video contest, and we’re currently a distant third. This is the contest:

For the third straight year, Planet Forward is partnering with Second Nature to host the Climate Leadership Awards Video Voting Competition. Second Nature, which seeks to create a sustainable society by transforming higher education, has selected the top climate-related ideas from colleges across the country.

All of Second Nature’s Climate Leadership Award Finalists were asked to create a 1-3 minute video highlighting climate innovations on campus. We’re asking our online community to select the most innovative campus.

And this is UMM’s entry:

Go ahead and browse the many videos, and vote. I’d prefer you voted for us, but there’s a lot of worthy entries there, and I won’t hold it against you if some other college’s entry appeals to you more.

You’d just be wrong.


  1. carlie says

    I appreciate what they’re doing, but video contests are THE WORST. You’re looking at investing close to an hour’s worth of time just to get through the applicants – not something that a lot of people would be willing to do. It’s basically just a popularity of the university contest instead.

  2. johnniefurious says

    I’m from the area (still love Morris and the University, even though I went to UMD), and what little I know about the biomass burner (the section on burning corncobs for electricity) seemed very good on paper. in fact, for a while, with wind power, plant services was running completely off the grid. However…

    The company that originally created the burner had promised it would burn bales of corn stover (not cobs.) What they sold the University was a burner that burned woodchips very very well (there are pellets in the video, that’s what it’s designed to burn, but not what the University is/was using.) The wood pellets are too expensive to buy (not many trees around Morris.)

    Anyway, corn stover: it wouldn’t burn hot enough to produce the high pressure steam to run the turbine, so they switched to a corn-cob solution, which worked well. Too well; corn cobs apparently burn too hot for the burner and they were forced to re-enforce the inside of it. Apparently wood chips are like baby bear’s porridge.

    Further renovations still need to be done to the biomass burner, including a new scrubber which Lowell (the head of plant services, old fella in the video) has asked the board of regents to help finance (he was turned down as of now, which I’m not faulting, they’ve dumped tons of money into a machine that does not deliver what it was promised. I hope they’ve got a lawsuit pending.)

    Currently, according to my inside source (my dad worked for UMM Plant services) the biomass burner hasn’t run in almost a year. This winter, with the cold, they had to burn natural gas. Up until the shortages, when they had to switch to fuel oil. It sounds like with some funding they could get the biomass burner up and running again, but (as far as I have heard) right now it isn’t running as described.

    I hope they do get it going; it would be nice to see that system running great without an asterisk next to it. Also, I hope that my info is woefully inaccurate, though I suppose the honest thing would be not to post on it until I knew the current state of things.

  3. =8)-DX says

    Watched a couple… I.. just. you *do* these kinds of things over there in the US? GREEN ENVY! (The few years I was at uni was an ancient classical building that used to be taken over as the Gestapo headquarters and whose main environmental aspect was the toxic levels of cigarette smoke constantly renewed under the entrance arches).

  4. iknklast says

    No can do, PZ. My alma mater, University of North Texas, is in the running. My loyalty proclaims that I must consider them first. Especially since that is where I went for my Ph.D. in Environmental Science, so I know what a high quality program they have.

  5. Reginald Selkirk says

    I bet that one black female student gets photographed and interviewed a lot, every time the campus needs to tout its “diversity.”

    BTW, the video needs more car crashes, or more cats. That’s what people like in videos.

  6. chigau (違う) says

    Reginald Selkirk
    It’s not breakfast-time.
    Who pissed in your cornflakes?

  7. says

    PZ, I liked the video produced by the University. Morris students should be proud of that.

    One thing this competition accomplished was getting me to review the activities in several university settings. So much better than the usual frat party, sexual harassment, or glorification of sports topics. (Nothing against sports programs, but, yes, something against sport over everything else.)

    As for stuffing the ballot box, there are all kinds of “encourage people to vote” things going on. I see nothing wrong with PZ bringing this to our attention. And, he did it nicely.