Lyle Center celebrates 15 years of achievement

By Megan Hartman

Jazz music dances through the air and the scent of passionfruit
flowers beckons guests as they arrived at the Lyle Center for
Regenerative Studies’ 15th birthday party Saturday.

To passers-by and Farmstore patrons, the Center is just a place
of research and innovation.

But to John T. Lyle, it’s his vision of a “community in which
daily activities are based on the value of living within the limits
of available renewable resources without environmental
degradation.”

Lyle, the late landscape architecture professor whom the Center
was renamed after in 1999, was a visionary whose inspirations of
sustainable environmental living helped the Center to grow and
evolve.

The Lyle Center’s achievements and successes were celebrated
Saturday at a soiree that included dinner, a live jazz ensemble,
tours of the grounds and an art auction.

“The Center and John T. Lyle himself coined the term
regenerative,” said Carrie Geurts, director of development for the
college of environmental design.

The organic dinner menu consisted almost completely of Cal Poly
produce and ingredients, including avocados, greens, spring red
cabbage and strawberry shortcake.

Roasted free-range organic chicken breast with onion chili
marmalade and rosemary-honey orange sauce was appropriately
complemented with Cal Poly’s own wine, Horsehill Vineyards.

Tables were decorated with centerpieces consisting of flowers
cultivated on-site, and students from the Lyle Center were set up
at various posts throughout the grounds in order to guide
guests.

The Lyle Center sits on 16 acres of farmland that boasts produce
such as peaches, loquats, passion fruits and more.

During the speech portion of the evening, Dr. Kyle Brown,
interim dean of the Lyle Center, referred to the Center as a
“living laboratory of new knowledge and cultivation of existing
knowledge.”

The living laboratory was exemplified through many of the
Center’s facets including roof ponds, sky therms and a biodiesel
demonstration housed in a building composed of straw bale and
naturally-heated by an adjacent compost pile.

“The biodiesel-conversion process we have here is a win-win
situation.

It uses a reclaimed resource [recycled cooking oil from Panda
Express] that helps to achieve carbon neutrality,” said Dr. Hossein
Ahmadzadeh, a chemistry professor.

From the southward-facing windows that take advantage of the
sunlight to light-reflective paintings, around every corner is
another example that further helps to perpetuate
sustainability.

“There is a strong sense of community here at the Lyle Center
and we all have the opportunity to learn from one another,” said
Shannon Feeney, a first-year graduate of Regenerative Studies and
resident of Sunspace, one of two dormitories that is home to 20
students and a faculty member.

Daxin Li, a first-year and resident, joked about being part of
the same “cohort” as Feeney, but was serious when he described the
“full spectrum of sciences including social sciences, theories,
etc.” taught at the Lyle Center.

“Graduate students here are as varied as the courses we are
required to take.”

The grounds are varied as well, and house an amphitheatre that
is eclectically decorated.

There is a mosaic, solar panels, greenery, and murky pools that
are actually used to test filtration.

Cristina Halstead, co-president of The Green Team, just hosted a
week’s worth of events in honor of Earth Day.

“It’s exciting to be a part of a very forward-thinking vision,”
said Halstead.

Reach Megan Hartman at lifestyle@thepolypost.com

Lyle Center celebrates 15 years of achievement

Thomas Schaper/Poly Post

Lyle Center celebrates 15 years of achievement

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