“How do we all look after each other?” Valli Geiger asks.
That seems to be the question that drives Valli and Greg's lives. Greg Marley is the director of suicide prevention for NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Valli served on the Rockland City Council for six years before getting elected to serve as state representative for Rockland and Owl's Head.
She also works two days a week at LincolnHealth in the chemotherapy department. It is apparent that they both walk their talk.
Valli and Greg wanted a house that was powered by the sun, and that would embody their ideals of a thoughtful lifestyle. So Valli, in her 50s, decided to pursue a lifelong interest in living spaces. She went to Boston Architectural College on the recommendation of her friend George Terrien, a Rockland resident who was president of the college from 1991 to 1996.
Greg and Valli then built Valli's solar design!
Thirty three photovoltaic panels were installed by SunDog Solar. They power and heat the house and their son's house.
SIP panels and timber framing make for a tight home. South facing windows provide heat and an insulated concrete floor stores it. A small 1200 watt heat pump and two tiny Ecotile heaters keep the temperature of the inside of the house from changing more than just 5 degrees, even through Maine winters.
Greg's craftsmanship shows up throughout the house, in the details as well as in the plumbing and wiring. A heat pump clothes dryer and a hybrid car cement their commitment.
As Valli says, “Those who can, have a responsibility to do everything they can to decrease their carbon footprint.”
As Greg says: “We try to live an intentional life. But it's not simple, it's complex. We use complex technology, complex systems. We use social media, and are in constant contact with the outside world; but, to the best of our ability, it is on our terms, not the worlds – we haven't had a TV since 1984!”
Valli got drawn into politics pursuing the construction of their house. She had no political inclination before marching into the code enforcement office with her forward thinking home design. Planner John Root said: “You should get on the comprehensive planning commission. It's boring, but we need people like you.”
On the Rockland City Council she was a proponent of accessory dwelling units. As a state representative, she has joined the housing, climate and children's caucuses. She cohosts a popular Rockland women's breakfast group.
As Valli says: “If the planet is going to be saved, it will be because women changed the dynamics. They have to show up.”
Greg is also a mushroom expert and has published two books; Mushrooms for Health; Medical Secrets of Northeastern Fungi, and Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares.
His counseling work varies from day to day but at the time of this interview he had just met with the staff of a small school devastated by a loss. He helped the staff to talk about what grief looks like and how to support the students and families as well as themselves.
“Given the work I do in the world, my home and my family are my temple,” he said. “The gardens and outdoors are where I come back to my soul, where I find my heart. Valli has the ideas and the creative sparks, I create the outside beauty, the gardens and the pergola, and she creates the beauty inside. We deeply believe in living a sustainable life and in lowering our carbon footprint.”
Shawn McCarty lives in Rockland and is a member of the Rockland Solar Club; firstname.lastname@example.org