February 11, 1997

Student Activists Have a New Line at Middlebury

An innovative attempt to cut pointless energy use
is afoot on college campuses in New England. It's called The Clothesline
Plan, an educational activism project of Free The Planet!, the
largest national student environmental organization. The Clothesline
Plan seeks to educate people about the dangers of nuclear power
and the benefits of solar power.

Soon sheets will be hanging on clotheslines at almost
every college campus in northern New England. "We intend
to air our grievances about nuclear power," said Alexander
Lee, the Middlebury College senior primarily responsible for the
Clothesline Plan. "I feel that encouraging people to hang
out their clothes is a proactive way to respond to our overly
consumptive habits and to point out the dangers of nuclear power

Consequently, college students are encouraging people
to give up their clothes dryers and use the sun. "Our ultimate
goal is to eliminate the need for the electricity generated by
nuclear reactors in New England," said Nicole Lanthier '99,
who has dedicated hours to coordinating this effort at nearly
every accredited university and college in New England. "Clotheslines
alone won't be enough, but they will raise consciousness and they
are easy for everybody to use. We intend for the idea to catch
on beyond college communities." And so, disturbed by the
attempts of American corporations to build new reactors in China,
and spurred on by the noted Australian activist Dr. Helen Caldicott,
the group of students set out to make a difference.

Here in Vermont at Middlebury College, where the
movement began, it is planned that a hundred feet of clothesline
will hold three sheets inscribed with very clear messages, such
as "The Clothesline Plan: A Positive Approach to Change in
Your Own Backyard."

Mr. Lee, who went to high school not far from Seabrook,
New Hampshire, the home of one of the most controversial reactors
in the nation, recounted, "I would bike to Hampton Beach
and look at the plant looming about a mile away. I always thought
about the possibility of an accident and the impossibility of
an escape. There was and is still no reasonable evacuation plan."

Some people are skeptical, but Mr. Lee said, "My
mother has always hung out the laundry, even in the middle of
winter. Sublimation-that high school chemistry stuff about ice
turning to vapor without going through the liquid phase-makes
hanging out laundry out possible almost anywhere the sun shines,
no matter what time of year."

Where clotheslines are illegal, The Clothesline Plan
seeks to make them legal. Free the Planet! also seeks to help
the students of this country strengthen their voice through unity,
distribution of information, and activism.

For more information about Free The Planet! and The
Clothesline Plan, contact Alex Lee at Middlebury College Box 2932,
Middlebury, VT 05753; by phone at 802-443-3519; or via email alee@panther.middlebury.edu.