COA Volume 5 | Number 1
The College of the Atlantic Magazine
College of the Atlantic enriches the liberal arts tradition through a distinctive educational philosophy— human ecology. A human ecological perspective integrates knowledge from all academic disciplines and from personal experience to investigate—and ultimately improve—the relationships between human beings and our social and natural communities. The human ecological perspective guides all aspects of education, research, activism, and interactions among the college’s students, faculty, staff, and trustees. The College of the Atlantic community encourages, prepares, and expects students to gain expertise, breadth, values, and practical experience necessary to achieve individual fulfillment and to help solve problems that challenge communities everywhere.
Cover: Northern leopard frog, photo by Noah Hodgetts ’11, taken in Baxter State Park on the first night of an extended field trip to Maine’s north woods for last fall’s “monster class.” (More on page 25.)
Back Cover: Solid Impenetrability in a Vast Stand of Trees. A scene from the performance of Graupel created by arts faculty member Dru Colbert. Photo by Christine Heinz. (More on page 28.)
Letter from the Editor One of the great pleasures in putting together COA is the oral history project associated with it. Since College of the Atlantic may literally be the last independent liberal arts college created in the United States (do tell if there are others!), it seems essential to document just what it’s like to create a school from scratch. Each COA issue includes an excerpt of a much longer interview with a person involved in the beginnings of the college. This time, my victim is trustee Philip Kunhardt III ’77, a member of the college’s first class and a current COA parent. We talked in Philip’s home outside New York City. As he spoke about the early days, I watched the energy of a joyous young man geared up for one of the great adventures of his life take over the demeanor of the serious adult I know from his COA duties. Read it! The enthusiasm is intoxicating. These students were doing more than creating a college; they were establishing a life for themselves, pushing boundaries at every front. What’s more amazing is that this creative energy is still a potent force at COA. For faculty, this is revealed by constant questioning and challenges, tempered by careful, precise thoughtfulness—just read the dialog among Karen Waldron, Don Cass and Dave Feldman. The energy is also apparent in today’s students, especially at senior project time. As I write, students are mounting photographs, peppering them with ethnography, creating whale exhibits, finishing up novels and theses, building greenhouses and rebuilding walls—all while making plans for their own futures. At one end of campus, two students are refurbishing the Hidden Garden. At the other end, JoAnna Cosgrove is busy digging a pollinator-friendly meadow. When I asked her what she says about COA when she talks to others, she sounded as enthusiastic as Philip. “This school is absolutely ideal for nurturing those wacky, out-there desires to do great things. They seem impossible at first, but the faculty and staff are incredibly approachable, encouraging and hilarious, in many cases.” Ah, staff. Perhaps there’s nothing “more COA” than the recognition that the COA community truly consists of staff members as well as students, faculty, alumni and trustees. This issue underscores that with the publication of an excerpt from Leviathan, a novel-in-progress by COA student and webmaster, Sean Murphy. As Karen Waldron says in these pages, “the degree is different, the approach is different, the students are different, the faculty is different.” And the structure is different, too. This issue, centered upon human ecology, our mission and major, attempts to reflect COA’s singularly creative approach.
Donna Gold Editor, COA
Photo by Bill Carpenter.
features Letter from the President
COA Beat News from campus and beyond
Notes from a Watson Journey
By Ana Maria Rey Martinez ’08
Recent Alumni Books & Albums
Donor Profile A Living, Breathing Tribute: Clare Stone and The Allan Stone Chair in the Visual Arts
Oral History Philip Kunhardt III ’77: Soaked in Poetry and Utopia
Poetry Quando sono nata
Taking Human Ecology Into the World
p. 23 p. 22
Human Ecology, the Empty Vessel
By Donna Gold
Leviathan: Chapter 62 By Sean Hugh Murphy
Jill Barlow-Kelley Dianne Clendaniel Jennifer Hughes
Rebecca Hope Woods
JS McCarthy Printers Augusta, Maine
COA ADMINISTRATION David Hales President
Andrew Griffiths Administrative Dean
Sarah Baker Dean of Admission
Kenneth Hill Academic Dean
Lynn Boulger Dean of Development
Sarah Luke Associate Dean of Student Life Sean Todd Associate Dean for Advanced Studies
William G. Foulke, Jr., Chairman
Ronald E. Beard, Secretary
Elizabeth D. Hodder, Vice Chair
Leslie C. Brewer, Treasurer
Casey Mallinckrodt, Vice Chair
T. A. Cox David H. Fischer Amy Geier James M. Gower, Life Trustee George B. E. Hambleton
Samuel M. Hamill, Jr. Charles E. Hewett Sherry F. Huber
John N. Kelly, Trustee Emeritus Philip B. Kunhardt III ’77 Susan Storey Lyman, Life Trustee
Faculty and Community Notes
Q&A with Margaret Pennock ’84
Human Ecology Essay Revisited Doubt and Enduring
By Libby Dean ’89
John Anderson Richard Borden Jennifer Hughes Matt Shaw ’11 Rebecca Hope Woods
Edward McC. Blair, Life Trustee
What’s It Like to Study Human Ecology?
Graupel: Dru Colbert’s Aesthetics of Human Ecology
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
What It Means to Teach Human Ecology
Experiencing Human Ecology The Maine Woods “Monster Class”
Ken Cline Associate Dean for Faculty
The Conversations ... the Connections A School of Human Ecology
By Michael Griffith
By Stefania Marchese ’11
By Rich Borden
Volume 5 | Number 1
Sum & Parts
By Kirk Torregrossa ’00
The College of the Atlantic Magazine
Suzanne Folds McCullagh
Stephen G. Milliken Philip S. J. Moriarty Phyllis Anina Moriarty William V. P. Newlin, Life Trustee Elizabeth Nitze Helen Porter Cathy L. Ramsdell ’78, Trustee Emeritus John Reeves, Life Trustee Hamilton Robinson, Jr. Henry L.P. Schmelzer Henry D. Sharpe, Jr., Life Trustee Clyde E. Shorey, Jr., Life Trustee William N. Thorndike, Jr.
Sarah A. McDaniel ’93
Cody van Heerden
Jay McNally ’84
John Wilmerding, Trustee Emeritus
COA is published twice each year for the College of the Atlantic community. Ideas, letters and submissions (we are always looking for short stories, poetry and especially revisits to human ecology essays) should be sent to: COA Magazine College of the Atlantic 105 Eden Street, Bar Harbor, ME 04609 (207) 288-5015, firstname.lastname@example.org
♻ Printed on recycled paper using vegetable-based inks.
Letter from the President
David Hales. Photo by Donna Gold.
As institutions of American higher education wrestle with the consequences of global financial recession, it is important to look beyond the serious economic issues of today and courageously reconsider our purpose and mission. And we must be more honest than ever about the effectiveness of our performance. As institutions, our “report card” must be measured in terms of the economic health of our societies, the way humans interact with each other and the ecological health of our planet.
Our institutions are not performing well. Even as many faculty and students are thoughtfully addressing the challenges of the future, our institutions remain remarkably unchanged, as though fearful of applying the implications of what we know about the way students learn and the challenges we face to the dogma and traditions which too often define us. The challenge to which we must rise is to enable our graduates to not just understand the world we have chosen, but to shape a better one. Almost forty years ago, COA trustees, our remarkable founding President Ed Kaelber, and a select group of (then young) academic leaders, created College of the Atlantic as an alternative to many traditional educational institutions. They believed that it was possible to construct a student experience based not only on state-of-the-art knowledge and the wisdom of the ages, but also on student needs and aspirations. It was an experiment then. We are no longer an experiment, but we are still purposefully and consciously an alternative in what we study, how we teach and in how we try to make sense of the world and our own lives. They created our college to focus on the study of the relationships among humans and their environments, what we call Human Ecology. As relevant as this was in the 1970s, it is even more relevant for the twentyfirst century. And for us, as for all of higher education, the challenge of tomorrow is daunting. C.P. Snow, writing about the dissolution of the British Empire, observed: “I can’t help thinking about the Venetian Republic. Like us they had been fabulously lucky. They became rich, as we did, by accident. They had acquired immense political skill, just as we have. A good many of them were tough-minded, realistic, patriotic. They knew, just as clearly as we know, that the current of history had begun to flow against them. Many of them gave their minds to working out solutions—but it would have meant breaking the pattern into which they had crystallized. They never found the will to break it.” Our college, just as the world in which we live, is the result of the choices we have made. At COA, we attempt to shape an institution that mirrors a world we would like to see, and which enables our students to develop the leadership skills and judgment that will let them become the authors of their own life stories. We are not saying that we have achieved it, but we know we are better for trying. I am confident that our graduates will leave knowing that it is their choices that will shape our future, and that they, just like the college, will approach that future with a wonderful sense of opportunity and possibility.
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Three COA Students Receive Watson Fellowships
Despite a 20% cut, all COA Watson nominees awarded a year of travel Brett Ciccotelli, Nick Jenei and Michael Keller, COA’s three Watson Fellowship nominees, have been granted their dream year of world travel. This amazing endorsement of COA students comes despite a reduction in the Watson Foundation awards by 20 percent—from fifty to forty—due to the economy. What led to this home run season? Jenei says it’s COA’s approach. “The Watson committee is looking for people who can work independently to assess situations, pull information together and take on big challenges. The human ecology methodology and self-directed curriculum pushes us to be independent thinkers, to have a core set of ideas, and gives us the tools we need to focus these diverse ideas on one area.” Change Along the Banks: Explorations in River Deltas and Coastal Wetlands Ciccotelli defines himself by water. “River projects pervade my studies and river trips take over my Saturdays,” says the Blackwood, New Jersey native. Come July, Ciccotelli will explore river deltas and coastal wetlands in Canada, Mexico, Italy, Bangladesh and Egypt, hoping to learn directly from those whose “prosperity, security, and identity are inseparable from their wetland or river,” and to gain the Brett Ciccotelli ’09. experiences Photo by Jordan Motzkin ’10. necessary to “understand the complex challenges and beauty that can only be found on the water.”
Sustainable Entrepreneurship: The Future of Business in India and China Raised in a family business, Jenei, of Westlake Village, California, beNick Jenei ’09. lieves Photo by Toby Hollis. that, “a new economy that values society and the environment must be built … one business at a time by a worldwide network of innovative entrepreneurs who are collaborating in the creation of a sustainable world economy.” He plans on looking into sustainable entrepreneurship in India and China, seeking to “explore innovative business models that value people and the environment as much as they do profits.”
Mapping Asylum in Fortress Europe The high school friendships Keller formed with immigrants to his native Charlottesville, Virginia raised many questions about their experience. Keller has pursued these questions through a Kathryn W. Davis Peace Project and a Humanity in Action Fellowship. On his Watson, he’ll be asking refugees resettled in Denmark, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom to create maps of their journeys, Michael Keller ’09. to discover, Photo by Donna Gold. “how refugees interact with environments to develop a new sense of place” as they “start new lives amidst intolerance and strict asylum policies.”
What are other COA graduates doing? Some are continuing to graduate school, including Columbia University School of the Arts, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, George Washington University School of Law and Harvard Divinity School. Others are taking time for different dreams: working on farms, biking across the continent—or sailing around it—gaining laboratory and teaching experience … paying back loans. Still others have started their own businesses. Students who have already taken some time off are now heading to programs such as Columbia University School of Nursing, Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology in Germany, Sciences Po in Paris, York University in Ontario, Harvard Graduate School of Education and University of California Hastings College of Law.
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Letters to the Editor Dear Donna, I cherrypick my way through COA, at least I try to. I start flipping pages, reading first sentences or a lead paragraph, then I fail. I find myself ensnared by the faces of the faculty and students, by the variety and successes of College of the Atlantic graduates, and the extraordinarily good writing of this professional yet intimate magazine. And I always wind up thinking about the college itself. It attracts the best. Certainly, one of the best is Lisa Hammer. Her “Phoebe: Living from the Inside Out” is simply riveting. To pack her thoughts and emotions about Phoebe and describe the character and personality of the child in such a short piece is the soul of skill. Wow! As a career National Park Service person, I have frequently been asked what I liked best and did best during my career. I have consistently answered, “Helping found the College of the Atlantic and promoting human ecology.” Cheers, John Good, COA founding trustee & Acadia National Park Superintendent 1968–1971
Hi Donna, I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed the last issue of COA. I thought the alumni pieces by Amanda Witherall were great. That’s exactly what I hope to see in a COA magazine—stories of how alumni are working human ecology in the world. It is also great to see alumni like Abe Noe-Hays and Ben Goldberg involved in the greening of the college by creating the composting toilet system in the new student residences. Aside from alumni, the magazine is doing a great job of highlighting ways COA is maintaining its leading role at the cutting edges of sustainability and providing a glimpse into what current students are exploring and what faculty are up to. I continue to feel so blessed that I found my way to COA and I’m thrilled that the college is thriving. The more I experience and observe in our world the more reverence and gratitude I feel for the college. Shawn Keeley ’00, Director of Development Green Mountain Club, Montpelier, Vermont Please send letters to COA, 105 Eden Street, Bar Harbor, Maine 04609 or email@example.com.
An appreciation of Ted Koffman By Wing Goodale MPhil ’01
After thirty-two years at COA, holding positions as varied as admissions director, financial aid director, campus housing manager, outdoor orientation program coordinator, director of government relations and director of summer programs; after helping the college acquire nearly three million dollars in Title III grants; after spearheading Eco/ Eco; after serving eight years in the Maine State Legislature (retiring due to term limits) after helping bring Maine into RGGI, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative; Ted Koffman is moving on. Our loss is Maine Audubon’s gain. Koffman is now its executive director. ~ DG I first met Ted Koffman when I was a graduate student at COA in 1998. Actually, several faculty members strongly suggested I seek him out—he was breaking down barriers with his Eco/Eco work, begun in 1989. A few days later, I found myself in a van with Ted
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and a troop of undergrads on the way to a meeting at Maine Audubon. Eco/ Eco, Ted explained, was bringing together people with opposing views about the economy and the environment to discover common ground. When people find they share a love for Maine, their families, and perhaps Indian food, listening to each other suddenly is easer. When we arrived at Gilsland Farm, Maine Audubon’s headquarters in Falmouth, Ted was immediately speaking with business leaders, legislators and then-Governor Angus King. Somewhere back in the crowd, I was learning from him. Anyone who has worked with Ted knows his smile, enthusiasm and dedication. These qualities have been ever present during his tenure at COA, Eco/
Photo by Donna Gold.
Bringing People Together
Lucy Bell Sellers Retires After Twenty-Three Years of Fall Theater Workshops Working with Lucy Bell Sellers was different than working in any other theater program that I have ever seen. She inspired students with her love and passion rather than shouting and demanding. It was amazing to see all of the students work to bring a show together. She cared so much, you just couldn’t let her down. I still remember one rehearsal when she said, “My angel is coming.” A few minutes later her husband, Peter Sellers, walked in and she ran into his arms for a huge hug and kiss. It was like they were newlyweds, though they were married for many, many years at that point.
no right answer. She also used theater as a way of exploring issues that we, the actors, could relate to events in the world. A true human ecologist. ~ Jennifer Warnow ’04
She has such a great respect for humanity that she brings everyone who knows her up. Saying thanks isn’t enough. Everyone who has worked with her needs to also bring an endless amount of love and passion to their work to bring everyone up! ~ Michael Kattner ’95
Thank you Lucy Bell for your generosity! For years, Lucy Bell, along with her sister-in-law Louisa Newlin, have brought the American Shakespeare Center to COA, and with it a workshop for students. ~ Lyn Berzinis, COA events coordinator
You’ve taught at the college forever And I cannot imagine the place Without your passionate endeavor To enthrall an audience in Gates. I love you! ~ granddaughter Cora Sellers ’10 Lucy Bell was one of my first teachers at COA. Her class and office were always a warm and welcoming place to be able to find (and lose) myself during my first trimester away from home. She allowed me to be creative and try things in different ways with
Lucy Bell Sellers heads offshore to spot swimmers during the 2008 Bar Island Swim. Photo by Donna Gold.
I worked closely with Lucy Bell for years. I have never met a person more enthusiastic about her students. She always treated each one as if they were the next Sir Lawrence Olivier. Lucy Bell could never, ever evoke negativity. I know that there are many students over the years that think of Lucy Bell as one of the most inspirational people that they encountered while at COA. I was often inspired by Lucy Bell. She had a wonderful way of getting the most out of everyone she came in contact with. It has been an honor to be her peer and collaborator. ~ John Cooper, faculty member in music
Eco and the Maine State Legislature. Ted’s leadership in Maine is remarkable both in what he accomplishes directly, but also in how he empowers others to lead. This he does through an encouraging slap on the back, kind words and making those around him feel worthy and valuable. Ted gets things done through his tremendous skills, but also through an amazing ability to be in every corner of the state, seemingly simultaneously—in downeast Maine talking about shorebird roosting areas, in Portland giving a plenary address, listening to testimony in Augusta. He is one of the great doers in Maine. Eleven years after I watched Ted bring people together as a guest at Maine Audubon, he has become the nonprofit’s executive director. Ted’s caring for Maine’s people and wildlife, his ebullience and his dedication will come to work with him every day. Maine Audubon is so fortunate to have Ted at the helm. He will be deeply missed at COA, but I’m sure he will still be seen on campus, walking along the carriage roads, and connecting to all of those around him. Wing Goodale has just become deputy director of the BioDiversity Research Institute in Gorham, Maine where he also serves as a senior research biologist. Elected to COA’s board of trustees in July 2008, Goodale’s new position means he has stepped down from the COA board.
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Renewable Energy At COA By Donna Gold First-in-Nation Wood Pellet Boiler a Success
Clean renewable energy results in carbon-neutral heat, hot water College of the Atlantic has just fired up its wood pellet boiler—the first of its kind in the United States. Providing all the heat and hot water for the Kathryn W. Davis Student Residence Village and Deering Common, the system is one further step in the college’s commitment to carbon neutrality and renewable fuels. The renewable wood pellets feeding the boiler result in absolute carbon neutrality for the heating of one-fifth of COA’s campus. This is not your ordinary wood-burning stove with billows of smoke emerging from a chimney. It’s a KOB wood pellet boiler built by Veissmann of Austria with a highly sensitive computer system and more than a dozen sensors and motors that continually monitor temperatures, oxygen levels and pellets, keeping emissions at a bare minimum.
A worker sifts through the pellets. Photo by Donna Gold.
The shiny silo holds COA’s wood pellets.
Photo by Rogier van Bakel.
Says Burkhard Fink, who installed the half-million BTU boiler, “The combustion technology is very advanced, the fuel-air mixture is the perfect mixture. There’s constant monitoring, so it is high efficiency and clean burning.” He compares the emissions to the cleanest of gas boilers—and yet, because this system uses renewable fuel—compressed sawdust pellets—a byproduct of an Aroostook County sawmill, the net carbon emissions equals a delightfully earth-friendly zero.
Windpower Comes to COA
Students build turbine at Beech Hill Farm COA has always prided itself on its hands-on approach to learning; still, seldom will a class have a more practical outcome than this spring’s Practicum in Residential Wind Power. Thanks to a series of grants and the planning work of Dave Feldman, faculty member in mathematics and physics, and Anna Demeo, lecturer in mathematics and physics, COA will be installing its first wind turbine at Beech Hill Farm, the college’s organic farm in the town of Mount Desert. The functioning turbine will be the product of Demeo’s spring class. Students will be siting, installing and evaluating this residentialscale wind turbine. They’ll also learn the basic physics of energy generation and conservation—scientific knowledge that is essential for students who wish to conserve energy, evaluate options for renewables and organize and advocate for alternative energy projects. The turbine is expected to generate sufficient power to supply the farmhouse, saving COA up to one thousand dollars annually. As the wind turbine will be located at a highly visible site, it will also serve as a means of informal education and outreach. The plan is for the practicum to be a yearly offering, with each class building and installing an additional wind turbine—either at the farm or on COA’s main campus. Support for the turbines has come from two anonymous donors and a grant from the Maine Community Foundation. The Maine Space Grant Consortium has also provided funds to develop and implement the class and subsequent community outreach.
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Photo by Noreen Hogan ’91.
Life Changing, City Changing Apoorv Gehlot ’09 Creates An Emergency GIS System for Cupertino, CA Although extraordinary senior projects are not unusual at COA, seldom has the work made a difference for an entire city. Senior Apoorv Gehlot built a GIS emergency management system for the Silicon Valley city of Cupertino, California, population 55,000. Should disaster strike, the emergency operations manager can see at a glance what buildings are safe, where supplies are stockpiled and which roads are passable—all thanks to Gehlot. The task evolved while Gehlot was interning in Cupertino’s GIS department and was asked to evaluate proposals for a GIS-based emergency management system. Gehlot wasn’t impressed. He thought them costly and cumbersome and figured he could do it himself—as a senior project. Using a GIS program that works with online mapping, Gehlot built a dynamic system that considers a multitude of disasters. “You can’t predict what data you’ll need,” says Gehlot. Knowing that, he worked to incorporate as many variables as possible. Gas leaks, impassable roads, severely injured citizens and safe havens can be pinpointed on the map. By making the disaster easier to visualize, officials can better handle it. Satellite-propelled, the program works even if the electricity and phones go down. Thanks, in part, to rave reviews from Cupertino officials, Gehlot is now the web mapping producer of the independent consultancy firm, G4 Global Tech, marketing the program to cities around Cupertino. After all, he says, “emergencies don’t happen within cities, they happen in regions.” Raised in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, Gehlot came to COA from the Mahindra United World College of India. He says he asked each college admissions officer whether he would be able to bring his science ideas to an economics professor and leave college with a business. Though wooed by top colleges, it was only COA that said, “Of course.”
Sure enough, Davis Taylor, faculty member in economics, served as Gehlot’s advisor, while Dave Feldman, faculty member in math and physics, and GIS Lab Director Gordon Longsworth, were project advisors. Jay Friedlander, who holds the college’s Sharpe-McNally Chair in Green and Socially Responsible Business, also helped. Gehlot has finished COA with a business plan—and a National Park Service contract under his belt, having created a GIS program for Acadia National Park’s annual BioBlitz. But what’s most rewarding, Gehlot says, “is that this work can possibly help save lives.”
Leland Moore ’10 Conducts Energy Audit for Bar Harbor Leland Moore loves to figure things out. His first year at COA he helped collect energy data for Johnson Controls when it audited COA buildings. By his second year, Moore was assisting Millard Dority, director of campus planning, buildings and public safety, during the Kathryn W. Davis Student Residence Village construction. This year, Moore has gone beyond COA, conducting an energy audit for the town of Bar Harbor as an independent study. Through detailed research, Moore found the town can save $11,400 a year on street lights just by switching out high-pressure sodium fixtures for LEDs. Upgrades to the municipal building can raise the savings by an additional $9,500 each year. “Johnson Controls helped me to learn about lighting load,” says the Northampton, Massachusetts student. “Working for Millard gave me construction technology; but I didn’t have specifics about, say boiler efficiency. I didn’t know a lot about heating loss—which often depends on surface materials.” He’s learned a lot, and credits COA’s ability to “hurl you into problems,” structuring classes around experiences, as part of his success. Ultimately, he says, he’s after what most at COA long for, “to discover how our interests, moral compass and making money fit together.” Matt Shaw ’11 helped report this story.
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Notes from a Watson Journ If Only My Words Could Do Justice to My Experiences: Testimonials of former coca growers By Ana Maria Rey Martinez ’08 Ana Maria Rey Martinez is currently on a year-long journey through South America and Southeast Asia, courtesy of a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. Born and raised in Colombia, having seen the impact of drugs on her own nation, she is seeking to understand the role and culture of coca in the countries that produce it by listening to the stories of former coca growers. This edited excerpt comes from a report sent to the Watson committee, which she prefaced with this caveat: “The following are immediate thoughts, emotions, sentiments, feelings, idealism ... put into somewhat inadequate words.” ~ DG
Last November, I was on the bluest lake I have seen—Lake Titicaca. At an altitude of two and a half miles above sea level, male Taquileños (from Taquile one of Titicaca’s islands) still carry on their waist a traditional handmade purse. Detached from both the Bolivian and Peruvian mainland, disconnected from typical technology (no TVs, radios, cell phones) and getting just enough energy from solar panels—given by the dearly remembered President Fujimori—Taquileños are probably unaware of the stigma attached to what they carry in their purses: their daily intake of coca leaves.
suffering by providing vigor. “Because God put it in this land more than in other lands, it might have been necessary for the locals. God did not create things without a reason and without a particular purpose,” says Juan de Matienzo, a historian of the sixteenth century.
Their relationship with coca is special. It is kept wrapped around their waist, close to their very bodies, inside finely made chuspas or purses. Coca is their source of corporal energy, an intermediary for the communication with the gods of the pre-Inca civilizations of twenty thousand years ago and of the Incas themselves. Chewing coca may not be a conscious political act, but it is a constant reification of Taquileño identity, heritage, needs and beliefs. It is also a power source to climb up the very steep hill—820 feet high—from the pier to their houses.
Many self-styled Peruvian cocaleros (former or current coca growers) whom I met before my visit to Lake Titicaca loved sharing passages from chronicles of the conquest and colonial times. Francisco Pizarro, Pedro Cieza de Leon and Huaman Poma de Ayala—the most revered chroniclers—write that during colonial times Spaniards decided to prohibit the chewing of coca by indigenous people. As coca consumption declined, productivity decreased. The Spaniards withdrew the law. This interest in gathering early accounts proves the need by cocaleros and their supporters to defend coca through cultural and historical arguments. The Taquileños may not be as actively political as some cocaleros I met in the Peruvian Andean and Amazonian regions, yet they too celebrate and defend the very nature of coca every time they create a purse and wear it around their bodies; every time they chew coca.
The Taquileño use of coca led me to imagine the way Incas interacted with the plant. Today’s evil leaf used to be a considered the daughter of the deity Pachamama. It was so pure that it was given as an offering to the Inca pantheon: Sun, Mother Earth and the Huacas, or sacred sites. Coca was also offered to the Inca themselves. During the empire, the chasquis, or messengers, chewed coca so as to walk for miles through the rough and high Andean mountains to deliver important messages. Coca was believed to improve memory and relieve human
This coca—the pure, the sacred—has been turned into an evil. Coca is like any other capitalist commodity but illegal, making it more desirable and more profitable. It is produced in Bolivia, Peru and Colombia by laborers who do not—and never will—enjoy the high prices their product brings in the international market. Like coffee, bananas, asparagus and cacao, coca is produced for export in the most fertile areas, satisfying the cravings of the Western capitalist world who want it all, at any social, cultural and economic cost.
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ney My friend Dr. Linterna, a former Colombian narco-trafficker—and a poet, journalist, activist, father of seven and founder of a Christian children’s school in the deepest part of the humid Peruvian Amazon—told me that by growing marijuana and coca, former Colombian coffee producers take revenge for their historic exploitation. According to Linterna, farmers were demoralized by the low cost of coffee and so turned to marijuana in the seventies and coca in the eighties. “Coca for cocaine production was like a social revolution in itself,” he said to me. I cannot stop thinking about this unconventional analysis. I see a lot of honesty in it. Perhaps it is not just the consumers, growers and traffickers, but also the very unjust, capitalist, profit-oriented global economy that is perpetuating this illegal parallel market. The rules that define product commercialization and the abstract forces that control prices ought to be held accountable for the existence of this illegal and harmful market. Is the global economy truly interested in giving better options to farmers to substitute for their illegal crops? The commodification of the sacred coca and its subsequent demonization has created a negative stigma for those who defend it. Sadly, cocaleros in Peru are not only not respected, they’re viewed as narco-traffickers, as terrorists, revolutionaries, insurgents, remainders of the Shining Path guerrilla group, people who destabilize the country and delay its development. Don Orvil Matta, a journalist, technical agronomist and sociologist who was the principal advisor of the municipal government of the Ucayali in 1990 and recent advisor to Nancy Obregon (a cocalero congressmember), believes that there is a campaign to weaken and disrupt the cocalero movement in Peru. In 2003 and 2004, some fifteen thousand people from several coca regions walked to Lima on Marchas de Sacrificio, or Marches of Sacrifice. By giving up work, spending days away from their families and walking long distances through challenging routes, the marchers hoped to peacefully pressure the government to consider their struggle for land and
Ana Maria Rey Martinez ’08 with Dr. Linterna and his family.
rural development, to oppose forced eradication practices and aerial fumigations and to defend the traditional and cultural importance of coca leaves. Taquileños appeared unaware of this struggle. Their silent way of living and gentle interactions with each other and with nature reveal how removed they are from this much louder, political and troublesome reality that cocaleros from the Andean and Amazon regions are facing. My experience in Taquile was a reflective one. Overtaken by silence and a sense of reverence for nature and humanity, I was able to reconsider past experiences and emotions and my perception of silence and loudness as opposite environments. Unexpectedly, without having chased it, I came across an effervescent, dignified and passionate social movement. Although not fully formed and organized, lacking consolidated ideas, strategies and goals, and evidently demoralized by high politics and media, I found people devoting their lives to defending coca in rural and urban Peru. Some work at influencing public policy, others research coca’s nutritional benefits, others want to commercialize coca in legal, healthy ways. Some in the cocalero movement organize events to celebrate the existence of coca and so create awareness. Others simply grow and sell coca in the market. Still others buy it. Some are more radical, some more diplomatic, some live a better life than others. Many times they have been divided by external and internal forces, but coca unites them and they network when necessary. They all chew coca after all.
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Sum & Parts A collaboration between Keisha Luce ’02, documentary sculptor, and Kirk Torregrossa ’00, documentary photographer.
A child plays with a small car in Tu’ Du’ Hospital. He will live his life in a ward here in downtown Ho Chi Minh City.
By Kirk Torregrossa Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam—Some twelve to sixteen million gallons of herbicide were sprayed and dumped on over 10 percent of Vietnam’s countryside between 1961 and 1971. Beyond an ongoing, widespread cancer epidemic, three generations later children are still being born with horrific birth defects caused by the chemical. Together with alumna Keisha Luce, I am in Vietnam this winter to discover the stories of people shaped by the extraordinary consequences of war. Our multimedia documentary project, Sum and Parts, explores the long-term effects of the Agent Orange bi-product dioxin in the bodies of the people of Vietnam. Luce, who is a graduate student in liberal arts at Dartmouth College, is recording what we call the “war body” through body-casting, a rare technique of molding sculptures from real life. She is also collecting an extensive oral history of the victims while I document the journey and process through photography, crafting a story of the resilience and perseverance so prevalent in the victims of ecocide. We hope this work can assist those impacted by the chemical.
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Lo is training in masonry at a facility outside of Ho Chi Minh City.
In February, we come to Tu’ Du’ Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, where Peace Village, a state-sponsored ward, houses numerous dioxin victims ranging in age from infants through young adults. As I enter one of the rooms, I am inundated with teenage boys. One is bounding around the room, armless, using his one good leg to propel himself while the other, half the size, is used for balance. They ask me if Keisha is my wife, and when I say no, they ask if she would be theirs. Very typical teenage boys, playing with a soccer ball, asking about what we do in America for work, if we like Obama, if we listen to music. For a second we forget that these boys are victims, despite the fact that one rests the stump of his right leg, not six inches long, in my lap. They all laugh; we pass out the books and cookies we have brought along as gifts. Then a soft groan from the corner brings everyone back to reality. A boy is tied firmly to the bed, moaning in slow agony, his body covered in scales and sores, a common pathology associated with Agent Orange poisoning. He is tied to prevent scratching at his wounds, so that his flesh does not fall off in large pieces, staining his institutional sheets.
Some four million Vietnamese alone have been affected by Agent Orange. That does not include the thousands of US troops and their families, among them Scott Luce, Keisha’s father, who served during the Vietnam conflict and died of an Agent Orange-related cancer in 1988. Sum and Parts is funded partly by John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College, and The Ella Lyman Cabot Trust. Donations can be made through the website www.sumandparts. com or by mail to 9 Woodlawn Drive, Binghamton, New York 13904, care of Keisha Luce.
Teens hang out during rest hour at Peace Village, a Tu’ Du’ Hospital ward specializing in dioxin victims. All Photos by Kirk Torregrossa Photography 2009.
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Looking for the Pony A review of the play written by Andrea Lepcio ’79 By Jennifer Prediger ’99 Stage photos by Stacey Bode Photography.
Looking for the Pony is a heartfelt, dark and comic tale of two sisters whose worlds are built on the bedrock of their connection. Written by Andrea Lepcio ’79, the play was praised for its unexpected humor by the New York Times following its off-Broadway debut this winter. It was also selected as a 2008 National Endowment for the Arts Outstanding New American Play Finalist.
Off Your Chest, gives the sisters the feeling that they are in good hands.
Life deals each of the sisters gifts, along with dilemmas that they get through together, with laughter and pain. Amidst this bond, there is still a sense of struggle, or “fractal alienation,” a term from the play that gives words to the ways we are all, to some degree, dealing with being there for each other and being alone. The sisters dance with closeness and distance, both geographical and emotional.
Amidst the unexpected, Lepcio slips in a subconscious nod to human ecology and the interconnectedness of all things, represented by the idea that a butterfly flapping its wings has an impact elsewhere. It flaps and then is quickly jolted into the realm of the funny, frantic tone of the play, “My mind was like a million different butterflies flapping.”
And so they maintain their connection through long distance flights, phone calls and trips to Costco. These things we do to feed ourselves and stay connected to one another are at once made absurd and embraced. Add to this middle-aged, sisterly tale the simultaneously hilarious and depressing squishedbreast-under-a-glass-plate phenomenon of the mammogram. The test results force both women to face the “C” word. Welcome to the world of stage III breast cancer. Over the course of this emotional medical journey we meet characters whose names and attitudes summarize all-too-common health care experiences, like Dr. Wrote-A-Book, whose cheeky title, Get it
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Thoughts, ideas, wit fly everywhere through what one sister refers to as “theoretical wormholes.” This story of how women love each other was produced by the Vital Theater Company and played by a skilled and impressive cast of four. J. Smith Cameron, Deirdre O’Connell, Lori Funk and Debargo Sanyal are energetic, versatile, comic and real. The play ended and the applause done, surroundsound sniffling could be heard throughout the theater. In every row were people not quite equipped to deal with the story and its emotions. Bravo!
Andrea Lepcio ’79. Photo by Stephen Sunderlin.
They are adults in their own lives, living in different parts of the country—the older sister with a busy family and the younger with a lesbian partner, and on the verge of leaving her day job to pursue her dreams to be a writer. “I don’t want to miss any more of your life,” says the slightly younger Eloisa to Lauren.
Insurance lawyers and experimental treatment offer comic catharsis—drilling home the off-kilter idea that “Early Detection is the Best Prevention.” Which begs the question, how can you prevent something that you already detect?
RECENT ALUMNI BOOKS & ALBUMS Non-Fiction Garrett Conover ’78 and Alexandra Conover ’77: Snow Walker’s Companion: Winter Camping Skills for the North. (Adventure Publications, Inc.) Stan Davis and Julia Davis ’03: Schools Where Everyone Belongs: Practical Strategies for Reducing Bullying. (Research Press Publishers) Libby Dean ’89 “Doubt and Enduring,” in The Journals of Knud Rasmussen: A Sense of Memory and High-definition Inuit Storytelling. Edited by Gillian Robinson. (Isuma) Amy Goodman (’79), Janet BraunReinitz and Jane Weissman: On the Wall: Four Decades of Community Murals in New York City. (University Press of Mississippi) with David Goodman: Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times. (Hyperion) Kate Hassett ’08, Mysterious Joe Miller. (katehassett.wordpress.com) John Jacob ’81, editor: Inge Morath: Iran, Photographs by Inge Morath. (Steidl) editor: Man Ray: Trees+Flowers— Insects+Animals: Photographs and drawings by Man Ray. (Steidl) Philip B. Kunhardt III ’77, Peter Kunhardt and Peter Kunhardt, Jr.: Looking for Lincoln: the Making of an American Icon. (Knopf Publishing Group) Frances Pollitt ’77: Historic Photos of Maine. (Turner Publishing Co.)
Nishanta Rajakaruna ’94 and R.S. Boyd: “The Edaphic Factor: Its Role in Shaping the Biotic World Evolution under Extreme Edaphic Conditions” in General Ecology, Vol. 2 of Encyclopedia of Ecology, edited by Sven Erik Jørgensen and Brian D. Fath. (Elsevier) Jerry Jenkins, Karen Roy ’77, Charles Driscoll and Christopher Buerkett: Acid Rain in the Adirondacks: A Research Summary. (Cornell University Press) Tim Spahr ’86 and Cindy Dabrowski Kennie: Incorporating Small Streams & Brooks into Developing Landscapes. (The Wells National Estuarine Research Reservation)
Mindi Meltz ’99: Beauty. (Hidden Door Press, hiddendoorpress.com)
Albums Aaron Lewis ’06 with The Hot Seats (formerly Special Ed and the Shortbus): Retreat to Camp Candy Temptation Island; Rats in the Kitchen; Ground Beef Patrol. Brooke Brown Saracino ’05: Stranger’s Story. Sarah Wendt ’85: Weightless With Love (City Canyons LLC); Here’s Us. (City Canyons LLC)
Children’s Garrett Conover ’78: Kristin’s Wilderness: A Braided Trail. Illustrated by Roderick MacIver and Tanya Thompson. (Raven Productions) Ryan T. Higgins ’06: Twaddleton’s Cheese. Illustrated by Ryan Higgins. (Cocklebury Books) Katrin Hyman Tchana ’83 and Trina Schart Hyman: Changing Woman and Her Sisters: Goddess Stories from Around the World. (Holiday House)
Fiction Elizabeth Bachner ’96: “Mick and Keith, Tom and Huck” in Wreckage of Reason: An Anthology of Contemporary Xxperimental Prose by Women Writers. Edited by Nava Renek. (Spuyten Duyvil)
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Notes from a Stolen, Splendid Shore By Sasha Paris ’11
Excerpted from a longer journal-essay set at the COA waterfront as part of an independent study in nature essay writing with COA lecturer Candice Stover.
9/23/08 Early Afternoon Sky and sea are matching light blue. Long ripples break almost silently on the shore. The tide is very low, a blessing of revealed life. Beneath the pier lies a mosaic of flat-sided boulders encrusted with barnacles and wreathed in rockweed. Mussels cluster between rocks, anchored by tough, silt-matted protein strands. I climb among springy mats of knotted wrack: long green-brown strands tipped with gold, beaded with spindles of air. Some bear chocolate-brown puffballs of epiphytic algae. Bladder wrack is also present: short, branching fronds with round, paired air sacs, tips heavy with plump, bumpy golden hearts and ovals which ooze spore-filled mucus when broken. The living mass makes a faint bubbling sound, as if breathing slowly. A nearly-grown herring gull paddles past, its head faintly washed with gray.
10/15/08 Early Evening Full-moon low tide! The sea is down nearly to the pier piling, baring parts of its bed which rarely feel the air. Sunlight has left the beach, although Bar Island and two creamy cruise ships still glow; sky and calm sea are soft blue-gray. A white sailboat passes nearby, but I have eyes only for the intertidal. Gravel borders the shore below the rockweed beds. I walk along it, skidding on periwinkles. Treasures lie scattered: mussel and clam shells, dog whelks, giant periwinkles covered in hard white algae, and bright red and yellow leaves. Previous full-moon tides have yielded other treasures. Once I found a male rock crab squatting on the wrack. He held a smaller female belly-up beneath him, waiting for her to shed her shell so they could mate. I am like that with the sea when in Maine: keeping it near, watching, waiting for the brief, precious time when it opens up to me.
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10/22/08 Midday I struggle to walk against a mighty wind. Whitecaps break on roiling dark-gray water; waves curl and crash onshore in a broad band of foam. A berm of torn-loose rockweed, sprinkled with tawny pine needles, marks the high-tide line. The pier creaks; trees roar softly against a pale sky. I come seeking mussels for the Dorr Museum’s touch tank. At water’s edge, I feel for them among similarly dark, rounded pebbles, prying them from a chilly mix of mud and barnacle-shell fragments. Doomed to close quarters with sea stars and crabs, they will never again touch the sea until I toss their empty shells onto the shore.
11/6/08 Midafternoon Dark and glazed with fog, Bar Island seems to float in air. Only the faintest change in shades of gray distinguishes sea from sky. Ocean fragrance hangs heavy, produced by bacteria in the water. How wonderful that germs give us such pleasure. Today I bring museum creatures to release in the high tidewaters, among them a rock crab with an orange ball of eggs held by hooks on her abdomen. Had her microscopic offspring hatched in the tank, they would have been siphoned up and discarded with the dirty water. The granite spit near the pier is wet from recent rain. I climb it carefully and try to judge where, in the swirling high-tide waters, the crab could be most safely released. She would be exposed to predators on the gravel beach, and boulder-funneled water flows too strongly over rockweed. I go to the very end of the granite spit, above the deepest water I can reach. The seafloor below is vaguely visible: an angular dark-and-light mass. Knotted wrack waves at my feet. I set the crab in the water. She sinks, belly up and legs kicking, to disappear beneath the wrack. I will never know it if she lives to shake her hatchlings to the currents, but now she has a chance.
Donor Profile A Living, Breathing Tribute: Clare Stone and The Allan Stone Chair in the Visual Arts A five-foot shark hangs in front of the robin’segg blue trestle desk in Clare Stone’s living room on MDI. Nearby, just beyond a large armadillo-like woven creature sprawls a tenfoot mouse—or is it a rat?—constructed from Clare Stone at the home she and grey-painted canvas. Allan shared in Purchase, NY. Inside one window sits Photo courtesy of Clare Stone. a large crow, while a huge ship’s head figure stands as if having paraded into the room, hat on head and hands on breasts. At Seabench, the extraordinary Stone summer cottage overlooking the eastern edge of Seal Harbor, the downstairs rooms are filled with an uncanny diversity of sculpture, painting, furniture and pottery—everything from the finest of contemporary artists to amazing finds from Maine’s cacophony of antique stores. Outside, nestled among a rapture of ferns, moss and flowers, stand large pottery urns and more massive sculptures. These jewels are the discoveries of the late Allan Stone, owner of New York City’s Allan Stone Gallery, a voracious appreciator of all kinds of art, from roadside signs to African sculpture to abstract painting. Shortly after Allan died, in 2006, his family sought appropriate ways to honor him. Together with his six daughters, his widow, Clare Stone, decided that one very fitting tribute to this brilliant collector, a man who constantly shared his love of art with others, would be an endowed faculty position at College of the Atlantic. Thus was born the Allan Stone Chair in the Visual Arts. The college is now searching for a person to hold the position. Allan Stone was a student at Harvard University when he bought his first piece of art, Study for Pink Angels by William DeKooning. This was in the 1950s. The $250 that Allan spent so appalled his father that he
restricted his son’s funds. That didn’t stop the art buying. On the family dime, he’d order expensive suits in New York and sell them to classmates in Cambridge. Following his father’s wishes, Allan became a lawyer, but he also kept collecting. In December 1961, the Allan Stone Gallery opened in Manhattan. His eye was legendary. Wayne Thiebaud had his first show there, and Richard Estes his first photorealist exhibition. In 1963, Clare went to work for the gallery. It changed her life. Having honed her vision from years of living with exceptional art, Clare Stone became a photographer. The Stones began summering in Maine, and bought their home in Seal Harbor during the college’s first years. They came to know COA and became members of the Champlain Society through former board chair and life trustee Ed Blair, who would include the Stones on his whale-viewing excursions. “Allan loved Maine so much,” Clare Stone says. “He was not interested in publicity, not interested in fame,” she adds. “He saw things and wanted them and it broadened his life. Teaching people how to see is what he was really good at.” She recalls him standing in front of a Jackson Pollock, explaining “how to look at ‘abstract painting.’ It was so interesting and so helpful—he could see it and he could explain it; that’s a very rare quality.” In The Collector, a documentary about her father made by daughter Olympia Stone, the eminent New York Times art critic Michael Kimmelman speaks of the deeply personal nature of Allan Stone’s gallery. “It has to do with love,” he says. The chair, combining the visual arts and Maine at a college of human ecology, is a true weaving of the many loves of the Stone family. “This chair will be ongoing and meaningful—a living, breathing thing, embodying something that Allan believed in,” echoes Clare Stone.
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Philip Kunhardt III ’77: Soaked in Poetry and Utopia Philip Kunhardt III transferred into COA’s first class. He later went to divinity school, became an Episcopal priest, and then a film producer, author and Lincoln scholar. He currently teaches at Bard College and serves as a COA trustee. His eldest son, Philip, caught the COA dream and is a second-year student at the college. This excerpt comes from a longer interview with Kunhardt. Donna Gold: What attracted you to COA? Philip Kunhardt: I had spent every summer of my life in Hancock, Maine as a boy and I loved that part of the world. The thought of becoming a pioneering student at a new college in Maine was very, very appealing. DG: Can you tell me about the first days? PK: When we first got there, the faculty and administration had spent a lot of time trying to get it ready for us. They had devised a curriculum and planned who was going to teach what, and had the courses ready and we just settled into a system that had been invented prior to our arrival. I don’t know how long that lasted, but not very long. There was a kind of revolt after a number of weeks. A group of us said we didn’t come here to be fit into an existing framework; we came here to help create a new kind of school. In my memory—which is bound to be somewhat flawed—I recall that we basically went on strike. We said there will be no more classes. And we invented, at that point, the All College Meeting. We would spend every day in a kind of group discussion about what we wanted this college to be. I think it went on for quite some time, though I’ve heard from others that it may have only lasted a week or so. Eventually things got back to normal, but there was a new committee that was charged with helping to devise the curriculum and reform it and a lot of the features that are still part of what the college is came out of those early discussions. …For some people it never went far enough. I think some people were looking for a kind of commune. And others were influenced by such experiments as Black Mountain College, which was a school in which artists and students lived together very closely. COA never quite became that intimate, but it was heading in that direction. For some people it went too far, and for others it didn’t go far enough.
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DG: And what were classes like? You spoke about the intimacy that faculty and students had. PK: As you went along you had more and more chances to specialize and to do independent studies and things of that sort. That’s when I gravitated toward Bill Carpenter; In addition to courses with him I took a couple of independent studies. In one of them, fellow student Frank Twohill ’80, Bill and I would meet once a week at a little restaurant, Lenny’s Lunch. It has long since disappeared. It was a dive, sort of a clam shack. We would spend hours just talking about American literature. I don’t know any college in the country where I could have had that experience. And I wasn’t the only one to get that. Even in the sciences, you had the chance to work really closely with the professors, doing fieldwork. I think that at the best liberal arts colleges today you still can get this if you’re a motivated student and really pursue the faculty and they like you and want to work with you. But at COA, every student got that opportunity, from the very beginning. And they not only became your teachers, they became your friends. DG: And what was the student life like, outside of academics? PK: I remember skiing through the park from where I was living to get to the Beech Hill house, where a bunch of other students lived—Scott Kraus ’77, Rick Waters ’77, John March ’76, and others. There were five or six households within skiing distance of each other. We would meet and have these wonderful dinner parties. I remember hosting one in Southwest Harbor another year in a warmer season. We all picked mussels and then sat around in the living room and ate them out of a huge pot and drank red wine and sang. All my memories of those days aren’t perfect, believe me, but there was a lot of fun, and it was healthy fun. Everybody loved the outdoors. You wouldn’t come to a school like this unless you wanted to be on Mount Desert Island, in Acadia National Park, and wanted to take full advantage
of it. Compared to other schools, almost no one smoked cigarettes. Almost no pot smoking, or drugs of any kind. Almost none. DG: In those years? That’s amazing! PK: In general, these were people who were into a natural high. They loved nature. They loved exercise. We would go down to the beach in Bar Harbor at night, in the middle of the winter—when there was deep snow and ice on the beach—and we would strip down and race into the water and swim out as far as we could and then swim back, leap out, freezing—the steam coming off our bodies—and run up and down the beach, howling. It was like electric shock treatment. You would just freak yourself into aliveness. To this day, whenever I am about to dive into really cold water I stop momentarily and think of my friend Steve Savage ’77, and I tip my head to him and then dive in. I think of so many students—Gillian Brown, who left and returned to graduate in 1988, Megan Godfrey (’78), Craig Kesselheim ’76, Alice Leeds ’76—all deeply in love with life and nature and the outdoors. I think of Josh Klauder (’78), who was at the school only briefly. He was a wonderful man and his daughter Kaija is now a second-year student at the college. Josh introduced me to a form of free running. We would go out into the park, into an unmarked area— off the trails completely—and just start running in a straight line, as fast as we could. Whatever terrain we encountered, we’d have to deal with it spontaneously, as we reached it. If we came to a bog, we’d have to go through it and we might sink up to our waists, and we’d just keep going as hard as we could until we came out the other side. Once, running hard, we came suddenly to a cliff. And we just leaped out and grabbed hold of a tree branch and kind of swung down, and fell, tumbling, and got up and kept running. Eagle Lake would freeze over, and I have a great memory of going out on a windy day, skating into the wind the full length of the lake. A visiting friend and I had brought with us a tent fly, and when we got to the far end we opened it and it became a sort of spinnaker, and we sailed all the way
back on our skates. The problem was, the center of the lake was open water. We’re racing down, twenty or thirty miles an hour, with a spinnaker, and we had to time it perfectly so that when we got to this open section, we’d leap into the air and keep holding this thing and fly over the open section and land on the solid ice on the far side. We had a very healthy, red-blooded, outdoorsy, nature-loving joie de vivre. It’s one of the things I remember most fondly about those days. DG: Have you thought about how going to COA changed you? PK: For me, it’ll always be the place of these memories, this love affair with the outdoors, the sense of marvelous friendship and community that was not only with our own peers but with our mentors—soaked in poetry and utopia. I try to build aspects of that in my current life. It was also the place where I began my passionate involvement with interdisciplinary learning. To this day I maintain a lively interest in both the sciences and the humanities. I have a vigorous reading program, continuing to educate myself in areas that are outside of my professions. I like to know things outside the fields I work in, and that’s COA—that refusal to be pigeon-holed that we felt back in those days, and that still is a hallmark of this amazing college. I’ve had a kind of poetic life that I plan to continue as long as I can.
Philip Kunhardt III ’77 with his son Philip Kunhardt IV, COA class of 2011. Photo by Donna Gold.
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poetry Quando sono nata By Stefania Marchese ’11
Translated by Stefania Marchese with the help of Bill Carpenter, faculty member in literature and writing.
Quando sono nata
When I was born
Quando sono nata mia madre non c’era.
When I was born my mother wasn’t there.
Era andata al mercato a comprare gli oli speziati e i fiori bianchi di cannella.
She had gone to the market to buy the spicy oils and white cinnamon flowers.
Quando sono nata mia madre non c’era.
When I was born my mother wasn’t there.
Era andata al mercato quello lontano, oltre al bosco di cipressi e poi non è tornata.
She had gone to the market the one that is far away, behind the cypresses and she never came back.
Si è persa per la strada dei lupi e della luna sui ciottoli freddi di ortica pungente dove il muschio cresce a sud ed il sole sorge a ponente.
She got lost on the road of the wolves and the moon on the cold stones of stinging nettle where moss grows on the south-facing bark and the sun rises from the west.
Mia madre non c’era quando sono nata. Doveva comprare gli oli e le spezie. È ovvio che mi sia mancata ma niente può nascere senza profumo.
My mother wasn’t there when I was born. She had to buy the oils and the spices. Of course I missed her but nothing can be born without its scent.
Si è persa per la strada del rumore. Hai sentito le sue grida quando il salice piangente la frustava ridendo?
She got lost on the road of noise. Did you hear her screaming when the crying willow was whipping her, laughing?
Si è persa per la strada del ritorno. Quella dell’andata non esisteva più.
She got lost on the way home. The road leading away from me had disappeared.
Quando mia madre non c’era sono nata io.
It was when my mother wasn’t there that I was born.
È dolce esistere quando intorno è il nulla.
It is sweet to exist when around there is nothing.
This winter, while Stefania Marchese was working at the Commission on Human Rights in the Mexican state of Yucatan, she heard that she had won the Fifth Edition of the International Poetry Competition Castello di DuinoSolidarietà: Poetry and Solidarity, Language of the Peoples. Marchese, who is from Monfalcone, Italy, is a Davis United World College scholar.
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The Conversations …
What It Means to Teach Human Ecology A dialog with COA faculty members Don Cass, Dave Feldman and Karen Waldron
Photo of Don by Toby Hollis; photo of David by Lauren Broomall ’09 for her project, “Working on Mount Desert Island, Maine,” photo of Karen by Donna Gold.
What does it mean to teach human ecology if you’re a chemist? How about a literature or math professor? One winter afternoon, Don Cass, COA’s chemist, Dave Feldman, who teaches math and physics, and Karen Waldron, who teaches literature, gathered in Dave’s office. What they reveal is that teaching human ecology is not really about content, it’s about COA’s special structure, the breadth and depth of its faculty, and the students who are attracted to it. ~DG Karen Waldron: I think that teaching at COA is very different from teaching at other institutions. The degree is different, the approach is different, the students are different, the faculty is different. I think that all these things reinforce each other, but I don’t think it’s so different that we wouldn’t recognize colleagues in other areas, or that Dave’s calculus class wouldn’t be thought of as a calculus class. The biggest thing for me is what comes up in a classroom—where it’s allowed to go. In literature classes I taught before I came to COA, teaching the exact same material, I would never have a student raise a hand and say “that’s resource extraction”— which could create a whole conversation about the fact that this novel is representing the impact of mining on a community. That just would never have
happened. The conversations that are possible, the connections that students are making to other classes, is part of where the difference in teaching at a school of human ecology lies—which is happening live, real time, while you’re doing literature or history, or whatever it is that you’re doing. Don Cass: At COA there’s a broader type of question that it’s okay to talk about in class. I try to make an effort to find out what students care about—and I try to relate what I’m trying to get across to what they care about. I like it that there are art students and philosophy students and psychology students asking questions from their disciplines about what chemists do: Is it art? What’s the difference between art and science? I let students learn what they want to learn in the class, so that those who want to learn the nitty-
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you ask about teaching
basics of chemistry. Well, what’s a basic? I don’t really believe in atoms that much, they’re just sort of a convenient fiction in my mind. But I don’t think that that’s the way it’s taught in most
dents like to talk about relationships, and so I make lots of relationship analogies. Are we separate? Or are we parts of a bigger something? That’s what chemistry is really all about. When are things really different from each other? When atoms come together to make molecules, are they still atoms? Or have they formed some new thing. It’s like a community. If you’re part of a community, are you still a separate individual? And the students are interested in how the way chemists think is a specific example of more general ways of thought. ~ Don Cass
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gritty of chemistry can do that, but students who don’t can approach it from whatever they do care about. KW: At other schools there might not be the time, but there also isn’t the inclination. It’s a structural issue. At other schools, students are in a department and they define their goals by their major and they don’t look outside that major. DC: Where I taught before, we never had art students taking chemistry classes. They would take the chemistry for artists course, so the “real” chemistry people would never hear the sort of things that the non-chemistry students hear. Here they hear it all. It means there’s more of a burden put on students to dig more deeply if they want to get the depth out of the class, but that’s a good thing, too, it teaches them how to do that. Dave Feldman: COA’s type of education also places more of a burden on faculty to individualize and tailor assignments. I agree with Karen’s and Don’s point about majors structuring so much of life at most other colleges. Those schools don’t have the openness or interdisciplinary mix that COA does, because students and faculty are cloistered via their majors and departments. KW: The intellectual range that I need to have here is different—there’s something palpably interdisciplinary about what I’m doing even when I’m teaching a discipline. Personally, I’m hopelessly interdisciplinary—I find the kinds of things that Don and Dave talk about really fascinating and if somebody makes a point in class about them, I don’t say, “Oh we’re talking about symbolism, we’re not going there.” … At COA we may not develop the same knowledge base, in some cases, but in terms of developing intellectual skills, we do a really good job. The students learn how to be responsible for their own goals and to become scholars much earlier than do students who became majors at schools where I taught before, where once they knew what being a major was, they didn’t have to ask any more questions. DF: I think there’s a culture and structure in place that enable students to make connections here: final projects, internships, independent studies. But a lot of teaching is just communication, so at one level it’s just the same here as when I taught a class of two hundred at a large state school. DC: It seems like where I was teaching before, the goal was to get students ready for the next class. Professor Whatsit expected that they knew this, that and the other, and I had to be sure they were ready. DF: Being liberated from teaching to the next class does give you the freedom to teach slightly different content and emphasize different skills. KW: I agree with Dave that teaching is teaching, and you go over the material in a way that’s suitable to the audience, therefore the audience is going to make a huge difference as to how you deliver the material. But the purpose of teaching at COA is not to a test or to the next class; that changes what’s happening in the classroom. I know that my students aren’t going from Major American Writers 101 to Major American Writers 102. They might be going to Ken Cline’s law and policy class or to physics,
or ballet, or chemistry. So my own intellectual experimentation that’s constantly going on is not only because of my students, but also because of my colleagues. There are ways that I think about what’s in the novels that I’m teaching that’s much more inherently and explicitly interdisciplinary and reflective of the practice and theory of human ecology than if I had taught at another school, because the goals of the institution are to do human ecology—and I believe in them. I believe that there’s a connection in everything we teach to how we live on this planet. There’s a connection to activism, and to moral choices that you make, to values. COA is not an ivory tower. It’s not that I’m going to give you knowledge so that you can be prepared for the next thing. No, the world is messed up, so how does my material help you be a decent human being and make good choices or take positive and specific actions in this world that you’re inheriting? That’s much more conscious to me here than it was in other places, and that’s because of the institution’s values. … I think human ecology is partly how we do what we do. I also think it is the way in which the relationships that are the center of our curriculum get individually accessed and thought about by different students. To me, what’s really valuable is how an individual puts together the various pieces of what they need to know in order to address the issues they think they need to address. That can be anything from the most deeply personal philosophical question that is driving their entire life, to the selection of artistic media that expresses the self, to deciding to be a veterinarian: In what sense does this job function in the world and how do I want to inhabit it? DF: We do tend to attract students who are interested in being able to chart their own path. Our students want to know different things. They’re self-directed. It’s very rare that students take my suggestions for The world is messed up, so how does my material help you be a decent human being and make good choices? That’s much more conscious to me here than it was in other places … because of the institution’s values.
Being liberated from teaching to the next class does give you the freedom to teach slightly different content and emphasize different skills. ~ Dave Feldman project topics. Every now and again they do, and often they should but don’t, but often they shouldn’t—and that’s really different than where I went to college, where a lot of us did independent research projects, but the idea that I could come up with one of those on my own, that just wasn’t in the air. KW: It’s not just the freedom to follow their own path, but the sense of their awareness of themselves in the world as someone following that path that is really different. Having students knowing that they want to do xyz is great, and empowering them to do that—sometimes with fewer resources than anywhere else—can also be a fabulous education for someone who doesn’t need or want to have something handed to them or prescribed for them, but wants to understand how to chart their own path of success. DC: It instills a sense of ingenuity, to figure out how to do it themselves. KW: I think the level of questioning and pursuit is deeper. The things you do question here and where you go with those questions are different from things that you question at another institution. What you question here are the structures of thought and arenas of knowledge—and that’s valuable. I think there’s always this awareness of where an idea or bit of knowledge came from and how it’s deployed in the world. There are some faculty who probably consider themselves as teaching human ecology, and who think of it more as a content area than those of us who are teaching literature and math and chemistry. Rich Borden, in his seminar on human ecology, traces the evolution of that concept. I think it’s another way of looking at a similar thing, even though we could have profound debates on whether human ecology is a discipline or a method, an approach or a content area. DF: I do think we reify human ecology sometimes and use the words as a shorthand for a richer
~ Karen Waldron
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description of how we teach and learn at COA. What are you teaching? Human ecology. Why is it good? I think relying on the phrase “human ecology” risks distancing ourselves from those who should be our fellow travelers because COA’s human ecology has a funny language and you might not recognize that we’re sharing a philosophy. I certainly see people that are as “human ecological” as we are, they’re just not using those same words. I think sometimes we get caught up in the idea that we’re so special and different, which is one of the reasons I’ve spent two-thirds of this conversation resisting the idea that we teach differently, because I don’t think that we’re actually that different—maybe we’re just better. Are Karen’s literature classes different because of some magic human ecology that she conveys to people, or are they just different because she’s a really,
really gifted teacher? I’m not sure I care what human ecology is; I care that we’re a really, really good college in the ways we’ve all been describing. KW: People here are committed to doing what we’re doing. This is not something that sets us apart—but the fact that we all have that sense may set us apart. There are people that have these kinds of principles in lots of different places, but the institution supports, seeks, looks for and constantly reinforces those principles. To me that’s what human ecology is and I’m much more interested in what it does than what it is. An education isn’t a set of courses, an education is a process of learning and getting smarter and more sophisticated and more able to sort out the knowledge that you have and the purpose it has and where it’s going.
What’s It Like to Study Human Ecology? COA Students—Current and Former—Weigh In “COA taught me to understand complex problems holistically. This approach has been useful throughout my life, from living and working in post-war El Salvador to studying educational issues in the United States for English language learners who are learning academic content in a language they do not yet understand. No other university I’ve attended (and I’ve studied at four!) has prepared me so well to take messy, real-world data and find integrated and creative solutions. COA will always be a part of my heart and mind.” ~ Barbara (Dole) Acosta (’75) PhD “To study at a school of human ecology means that every single thing I learned was deeply relevant on both personal and academic levels because the place as a whole embodies values I trust. In that atmosphere it is so easy to be completely open and ready to absorb all kinds of ideas—but most importantly, uncomfortable ones. I think that has been one of the most useful tools—the ability to truly see both sides of an issue.” ~Jeanne Fletcher ’99
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“Studying human ecology meant understanding the complexity of nature and human interaction—a challenging but beautiful quest.” ~ Kate Frances Gatski ’98 “I felt my education was different at COA, because the classes were very small. The teachers encouraged students to think, and to write. I never felt a teacher was simply putting basic information out and going through the motions of regurgitation. Every teacher was passionate about the subjects he or she taught and understood the topic’s relevance in an ecological perspective. The sciences came alive before my eyes. The arts went deep and gave people a place to express themselves. The senior project and human ecology essay are special opportunities for one-on-one interaction with faculty. I think this personal expression is rare in college. All College Meeting and committee involvement was another unusual way to learn. Students learned to work in a group and think realistically.” ~ Jessie Greenbaum ’89
Taking Human Ecology into the World By Rich Borden, Rachel Carson Chair in Human Ecology As Karen, Don and Dave have said, teaching at COA is different. Before I came here, I taught at Ohio State and Purdue universities. Departmental majors completely defined those institutions—academically, architecturally and culturally. At COA, I discovered students didn’t want the “inside story” of psychology, as did undergraduate majors or graduate students elsewhere. Rather than me defining the subject matter and delivering it to the class, COA students, each in their own way, challenged me to teach to their interests. One was there to learn about the evolution of consciousness, another was working on group dynamics and cooperation, the next searching for the meaning of dreams. I felt like a sock being turned inside out. It was then that I appreciated the intersection of self-directed and interdisciplinary education. Another way the college is distinctive is in our human ecology mission. The college’s founding documents are some of the most inspiring pieces of educational philosophy I’ve seen. Ed Kaelber, COA’s founding president, got it right early on: human ecology is best understood as a perspective—a way of looking at the world. I came to COA to join a dedicated community of scholars. I relish its experimental pedagogy and collaborative inquiry about the place of humans in the living world. It feels open, creative and important. I’ve always believed our aim is to build on those founding principles. By developing individual perspectives, we create fresh combinations and contribute—in a collective effort—to a richer way of seeing the world.
When fire destroyed the original Kaelber Hall in 1983, we were backed into a re-founding situation. Later, as academic dean, I wanted to know more about the origins and uses of human ecology. I began to look for other individuals and organizations using it as an approach to education. Since then I’ve visited numerous institutions and gotten to know hundreds of human ecology colleagues. There are people all over the world who understand and appreciate COA’s educational vision. Many have visited COA. A substantial literature of human ecology exists and is growing. I think this is what some people mean by human ecology as “content.” Well—yes—I do integrate it into my human ecology seminar and throughout my teaching. Other COA faculty members use some of this content in their classes as well. Many COA professors have written their own human ecology essays. They have presented their ideas at conferences and published them in books and articles. These contributions are often referenced in published work by others elsewhere. They appear on course syllabi at other institutions and are read by non-COA students. I concur with Dave’s concern about waving the human ecology term as an empty reification. That which means anything, frequently means nothing. But an opposite danger is reticence. If COA were a polytechnic institute or an art school, “being good” would mean different things. As a college of human ecology, it should mean something else. It is our place to articulate that, for ourselves and others. I hope we continue to talk about it, write about it, and contribute to making it as meaningful and world-changing as the college’s founders envisioned. There is a wide road between solipsism and silence. It is the path on which we began and remains, I believe, the right course.
“For me, studying human ecology meant that I learned to stop arguing passionately and start listening to other viewpoints. It didn’t mean that I changed mine, only that I needed to think about other people’s vantages before I could pursue a course of action. I learned that I would be a more effective agent of change if I could have a meaningful discussion with the other side. I’ve never seen anyone change their mind during a heated argument, but I have seen people think hard after a long conversation.” ~ Sonja Johanson ’95
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Human Ecology: The empty vessel Perhaps alone among disciplines, human ecology is an antidiscipline. If there is a narrow way, human ecology does not see it. No—Instead of walls it sees a wide plane of vision. It sees seeing. Because of human ecology, eyes open or closed, I can imagine the edges of a discipline, press against them, break through; hold three disciplines together, collapse them, combine them. Another discipline might say, in a single voice, Hey! I can see you! But you’ll exist inside of me. Whereas human ecology might say, chorally, Hey! We can see you! Let’s see together! It does not cover: it combines. In this way, we combine with human ecology, we become human ecology—and yes, it becomes us. History does not become us; we do not become biology. This is fine (even a relief: cool distance). After all, discipline can be enjoyable, enlightening and perhaps—with enough dedication, or indifference—we all see the same in the end. But say we do not? Say seeing alone is not enough—to think, love and (admit it) help others the way we want, even need, to do? Alone among disciplines, only human ecology moves us to see seeing—and then, to see that, and to see that. This is a greedy practice, gorged on a moving limit. But when one is in motion, why pretend to stand still? We’ll never find ourselves—or anything—in one place. Sometimes I say, Oh, my major’s always the same; it’s changing all the time. But my major’s changing all the time: it’s always human ecology! And so we live by and learn from this powerfully empty phrase. When Michael Griffith graduates this spring he heads to Pune, India, where he’ll be teaching English literature at the Mahindra United World College of India.
“Studying human ecology meant a different way of approaching my education. Seeing my education as a tool for change for the larger community rather than as simply a rung in a ladder for my own personal achievements. It also meant taking control of my education: not relying upon a ‘major’ to define the last three years of my course list, and instead being responsible to select which mix of courses would give me the breadth and depth I needed for life. The faculty at COA are truly living an interdisciplinary education, not just talking about it. So not only are there far more team-taught classes at COA, but the breadth of each professor’s knowledge expands beyond his and her own area of expertise allowing an interdisciplinary approach even to classes taught by one professor. In graduate school, faculty tried to be interdisciplinary, but they were doing so from a departmentalized approach. Without those barriers between faculty members, the students at COA naturally made connections across course topics that the students in my graduate school were struggling to come to grips with or else ignoring altogether.” ~ Sarah (Cole) McDaniel ’93 The students in this section also attended Antioch College, Central European University, George Mason University, Harvard Law School, University of Pennsylvania, Yale School of Forestry and Management—and others.
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Photo by Donna Gold.
By Michael Griffith ’09
Experiencing Human Ecology The Maine Woods “Monster Class” By Donna Gold
In the fall of 2008, College of the Atlantic offered a class that contained so many COA elements that those involved considered it the “quintessential human ecology course.” Called Ecology, Conservation, and Experience of Place: The Maine Woods, the course was actually three classes combined, taught to eight students by three faculty members: Ken Cline, Steve Ressel and Bonnie Tai, along with Tonia Kittelson, a student life staff member. The interweaving of three separate classes is a common occurrence at COA. There’s even a colloquial name for it: a monster class. Like a whisper of a sound in a child’s house, this “monster” is something that grows and grows and takes over the life of a student’s—and teacher’s—term. But more like the monsters imagined by Maurice Sendak’s Max in Where the Wild Things Are, the COA’s monster class isn’t terrifying—just very intense. For this “monster,” Cline, faculty member in public policy and environmental law, offered an examination of the policy of conservation of the Maine woods. Ressel, faculty member in biology, took on the biology of Maine woods amphibians—said to be sensitive environmental indicators, akin to canaries in coal mines. Tai, faculty member in education, focused on educational methods and experiential learning with the help of Kittelson, director of student leadership and engagement. Though no arts faculty member was involved, music and drawing were a continuous part of the experience. As was service learning: the students each had to design and conduct a service project. For some, that project continues even now. So that the entire group could go on field explorations in one van and stay in one campsite, the class was limited to eight students.
It’s hard to know who was more passionate about the class, the faculty or the students. Faculty members didn’t just teach their subject and leave; they took each others’ classes. Students hardly missed a class. Says Saras Yerlig ’11 from South Hadley, Massachusetts, “Everyone was so committed and excited, there was so much energy, so much motivation. We were driven; we wanted to be there all the time.” When Katelyn Costello ’11 of New Hampshire was asked to talk about the class, her answer was, “How many hours do you have? How many days?” The “monsterness” of the class allowed for multiple field trips, including a two-week stint in the forests of northern Maine just two weeks into the term. There, the group studied amphibians, viewed clearcuts, hiked, canoed, learned to set up camps and start fires, followed some of Henry David Thoreau’s trails, and talked with hunters, foresters, small store owners and others about the fraught topic of what would be best for the Maine woods. Throughout, they caught stream salamanders and other amphibians for a survey designed by the students and conducted for the State of Maine. As they collected, examined and released the tiny salamanders and frogs, they also pondered whether amphibians are truly an indicator species—and whether that mattered, whether they wouldn’t be worth conserving in any case. And always, as students of education, they considered not only what they were learning, but how they were learning it—while also taking turns being trip leaders for a day. Whew. Says Costello, “Everything changed after that trip. We bonded as a group—it was as experiential as you can get.” While students were doing actual scientific work in conducting the salamander survey,
Photo above left to right: Rebecca Abuza ’11, Noah Hodgetts ’11, Ken Cline, Bethany Johnson ’11, Bonnie Tai, Sarah Colletti ’10, Saras Yerlig ’11, Brianna Larsen ’11, Megan Williams ’09, Katelyn Costello ’10, Tonia Kittelson and Steve Ressel.
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they were also practicing experiential education—and beginning to hear multiple sides of Maine woods policy by talking to numerous individuals. The learning began with the making of morning coffee and didn’t end until questions about the moon kept people stirring the fire’s last embers at night. The group came to know each other as colleagues as well as teachers and students; trust evolved, “almost by default,” according to Kittelson. “We were all facing challenges together.” One of Tai’s beliefs is that knowing one’s students is crucial to education. Perhaps that’s why, she muses, everyone in this class learned—students and faculty. The knowledge went deep.
Above, sunrise on the East Branch of the Penobscot River. Photos by Steve Ressel and
Sarah Colletti ’10.
“There was an incredible integration of content, a sophisticated scientific and political interface. And there was a real engagement because of the education focus,” says Cline. At one point, Brianna Larsen ’11 of Cape Cod realized she had no idea which folder to file notes in—the material was that integrated. “What the students learned, stuck,” Cline adds. “They were living it, there was an intensity about the conversations, about the material; we were all involved with it.” Notes Yerlig, “There was no boundary between school and life.”
Above, a spotted salamander.
Photo by Sarah Colletti ’10.
Left, assembling a nature portrait at camp.
Photo by Megan Williams ’09.
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With no other classes but the monster, every one of the students said they were more engaged, more overwhelmed and more committed than they had ever been. And yet, despite the depth of what the students learned, the curriculum for each class was actually more limited than what would have been offered in a single class. Says Tai, “there were things that we couldn’t do in terms of additional reading, additional content, because we didn’t have the time, because students were actually getting more depth on greater concepts, with academic content infused in every aspect of the field journey and elsewhere.” That the content of each class was more limited concerned both students and teachers until, says Bethany Johnson, a second-year transfer student from Liberty, Pennsylvania, who took this class her very first term at COA, “We came to the conclusion that we were a lot more invested, in everything.” For projects, one group designed a curriculum to study stream salamanders, another revised an environmental curriculum for Acadia National Park. The project conducted by Noah Hodgetts ’11, mapping vernal pools for Bar Harbor’s planning department, has led to the discovery of several that might be regulated under the 2007 Natural Resources Protection Act, sponsored by Ted Koffman. The students can still identify frogs by their calls. And whether they are speaking to a mem-
ber of Maine Land Use Regulatory Commission, a forester or a developer, they know how to consider the full spectrum of issues—“the varying values, the history of place, what’s important,” says Yerlig—along with the multiple personal claims people have on a region. “It’s really important to see the different sides,” Yerlig adds. “Especially if you’re going to make a change, to see why something might be important in context of something else.” Seeing—and forging—connections, isn’t that the essence of human ecology? Now, months after the class is over, students are finding that they have the skills to create such connections themselves, even among quite disparate elements of their lives—between classes such as Chaos and Fractals and Psychology. It helps that the class was also quite reflective. When students were asked to look at what makes a place, what makes the Maine woods the Maine woods—Is it the history? The biodiversity? Something more?—the class members found themselves discussing what makes a person that person. Bringing in personal experience, says Tai, is essential to education and human ecology. “It all became a reflection of how we were living our lives, what it meant to you,” adds Yerlig. “Everything had weight.”
The Maine north woods as seen from Horse Mountain. Sarah Colletti ’10 holds a spotted salamander. The moods of the East Branch of the Penobscot River. Photos by Bonnie
Tai, Rebecca Abuza ’11, Megan Williams ’09 and Ken Cline.
Noah Hodgetts ’11, Tonia Kittleson and her dog Sierra paddle the rapids on the East Branch of the Penobscot River.
Photo by Steve Ressel.
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By Donna Gold One cold, full moon evening in March 2007, Dru Colbert, faculty member in museum studies and graphic and three-dimensional art and design, premiered Graupel, a multi-media installation performance created on the frozen surface of Somes Pond. As the audience meandered over the gravelly ice, odd figures, sculptures and extraordinary sounds emerged in the cold, lantern-lit night. Having traveled with Colbert through this mysterious polar expedition, my sense of a pond in winter is altered forever. Colbert says her work has always related to where she lives—only in the past, that had been urban. As a student and then a teacher at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Colbert’s work tied the city’s gritty streets and storefront windows to the prairie culture a few miles down the highway. Maine’s sense of community and place offered a deeper challenge. It took her years, she says, to feel out her artistic approach here. “I have to be connected in a really visceral way, really experiential. In Maine, I needed to be able to start moving inward in terms of my connection to place and community, to find a way of connecting what I do in making art to my life.” Ultimately, this community connection became a massive collaborative environmental performance—surely linking Colbert to the aesthetics of human ecology. More than thirty people were involved, writing a puppet play, fashioning costumes, choreographing an ice dance. As director, Colbert served as guide and thematic visionary to this forty-five minute exploration of the dramatic seasonality of Maine, its people and their stories, which come across as tall tales—but just might be true.
Orientation: Dreams Deferred, photo by Kevin Bennett, courtesy of the Bangor Daily News.
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Contact, Analysis, Classification
Dru Colbert’s aesthetics of human ecology
Advancing Hoax Toters Photos by Christine Heinz.
The Unknown, photo by Christine Heinz.
“I try to get the content to involve not only the environment, climate and weather—things that influence our experience—but also historical events and ideas that might take a leap into the uncanny. We can’t always understand fully everything, all at once.” Stories, she says, are essential: “Our experience of life is about creating our own story.” Rather than write a narrative, Colbert prefers to let the audience find that story for themselves—much the way they do in life. “A series of events unfolds; you come at them with your own intelligence, history, background: What just happened?” Similarly, when Colbert teaches, human ecology comes out through the process—looking at interpretations, teasing out the cultural, social, objective, subjective in a person’s response, encouraging students to find their individual process, whether working incrementally toward a goal, or approaching art-making in an intuitive way by “exploring the alchemy of immediacy between their own hands and the media they are working with.” By making, studying and critiquing art, Colbert says, students learn “how they are capable of altering the physical world—both natural and otherwise. They begin to understand how they select, edit and manipulate visions of the natural world”—serving as shapers of their environment, ultimately exploring how the environment shapes them. Colbert is currently on sabbatical, creating another performance installation relating to Maine, the water and our dramatic seasonal changes. Will this one have us swimming in the Atlantic Ocean? Kayaking across an autumn pond? Walking on jury-rigged stilts in a lake? Only Colbert knows for sure—and maybe she doesn’t quite know yet. While we wait to ponder our aesthetic fates, we can contemplate the experience of the winter mystery Colbert once brought us.
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Twilight Study #6757 by Sean Murphy.
Leviathan Chapter 62
By Sean Hugh Murphy Chapter 62 occurs midway through Sean Murphy’s novel-in-progress, an epic coming-of-age story of Patrick Riley, who was born in Manhattan, spent his infancy and early childhood in the Bronx, school years in the woods of early suburban central New Jersey, and later hitch-hiked out west, until returning east to spend his early adult life in upstate New York, eventually settling on the coast of Maine. It follows young Patrick’s awakening to the world during the turbulent sixties and seventies, his journey inward (and outward) in search of truth, the overcoming of personal and familial tragedy, the discovery of joy and love, and ultimately the forgiveness and redemption that comes in time to those who persevere. This chapter shows a chance meeting that makes a deep impression on Patrick, age fifteen, as he settles into a new town.
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nside Tony’s Pizzeria, the counter guy lifted chairs up onto tables. He swept the floor, turned the lights low and flipped the closed sign outward. “Damn, they’re closed,” said Bobby. “What time is it?” said Jay-Jay. “Nine-thirty,” said Patrick. “What do you guys want to do?” “Let’s go behind the garage and see if anyone’s hanging out,” said Bobby. Patrick and Jay-Jay followed Bobby around the right side of the pizzeria and through the gap between the back of the restaurant and the end of the low slung multiple-bay garages, darkened by shadows at the rear of the juvenile detective bureau. Patrick looked at the row of seven closed, windowless garage doors, and wondered how many hid police cars behind them. The three boys walked quickly into the second alley, beside the garage. They passed through to the rear, where a crowd of about twenty people sat at the top of a long, narrow set of simple steps. The steps, two feet wide and made of crumbling concrete, as though they had been constructed long ago in another time, led down to a large, empty parking lot, twenty feet below. The ground sloped downward steeply to the lot, and trees stood dormant on either side of the steps, a small grove of ashen saplings, bark covered with soot, the underbrush barren and flattened by the trodding of feet. A dense packet of these sicklylooking trees grew on the slope on either side of the sitting area, adding to the secluded but somehow neglected feeling, as though this small location had been forgotten by the rest of the world. It had the feel of a low raptor’s lookout; people hunkered down on concrete blocks on either side of the steps. Steeped in dark shadow, this was a covert scene; a hideaway, a party spot. Patrick turned a concrete block on end and sat down quietly at the edge of the crowd. He looked out across the parking lot to the basketball court in the opposite corner, where he’d seen people hanging out earlier in the evening. He squinted his eyes to see, but it was too far and too dark to tell if anyone still loitered there. A short, bear-shaped figure, backlit by streetlights below, approached Patrick from the side, climbing over a few scraps of boards piled up against the back of the garage. “Hey, is that you One-Eye?” said the bear. “Hi Ceci, how’s it going?” “Ahh-ite One-Eye. How you doin’?” she said.
She sat down on a block and grunted. Patrick could see her face now. She smiled; a big, toothy grin. She seemed more relaxed than when he had last seen her, by the bench at the high school. Ceci had startled him by using the nickname One-Eye. Patrick hoped sincerely that it wouldn’t stick. She said it with great affection, though, and genuinely seemed to like him. “You guys hang out back here a lot?” he said. “Yeah, sometimes. It’s a good spot. The juvi cops go home at five o’clock, and they’re gone until Monday. Nobody ever comes up here on the weekend.” She picked up a small stone and chucked it down the hill onto the parking lot. Patrick’s eyes began to adjust to the shadows behind the garage. He could see Bobby talking with Michael Magliafari. Jay-Jay laughed with some people that Patrick didn’t recognize. Several in the group smoked cigarettes, the red embers glowing hot and then cooling arrhythmically. One-quart bottles of beer passed from hand to hand in the darkness. Ceci passed one to Patrick, and he took a few gulps. The beer was cold, kept that way by the cool, late-autumn air. “What happened to your eye, man?” she said, her face suddenly serious. Patrick looked down. “Oh, nothing. I had a bunch of operations. The doctors messed them up,” he said. “Sorry to hear that. We got your back now, man. You come find me if anyone gives you any trouble, ahh-ite? We’ll protect you.” “Thanks.” Patrick nodded. “You gonna be ahh-ite, One-Eye. Don’t worry, man.” She drank down a few swigs more from the quart bottle, and passed it to the person to her immediate left. Ceci got up in one creaking motion; more like rolling off the concrete block than rising. Just then Michael Magliafari cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled to an old man walking across the far side of the parking lot. “Love-ly! Hey, Love-ly!” The old man stood straight up with a start under the street lamp, and raised his hands up in the air as though praising God in a gospel choir, his back arched, his chest thrust upward. “Lovely day; lovely I say!” the old man shouted to the night sky. “Hey, Love-ly; come on up here, man,” Magliafari barked through his cupped hands. He waved his
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arms in an exaggerated motion so the old man could see him. Lovely peered into the darkness at the top of the hill, where the group sat drinking and laughing. He put his hands up as a visor against the fluorescent light of the street lamp, and craned his neck to see. Several people giggled as the old man changed direction and shuffled toward them. When he reached the steps he took them one at a time, pausing at each step, his stooped frame leaning against the thin ironpipe handrail for support. As he reached the top of the stairs, Magliafari approached him directly. “Love-ly; how’s it going man? You got your harmonica with you?” “Oh, yeah. I never go anywhere without that.” The old man chuckled. Patrick could see him a little better now. He had to be in his late sixties or early seventies, and looked to have lived a long life of hard work. The man seemed cheerful, even if stooped. He obviously struggled to walk and stand in his stiff old body. He wore dark pants and dress shoes, and a roughlooking, thin leather jacket over a collared rayon shirt. His skin was dark, and a scruffy afro goatee framed his yellowed teeth when he smiled. On his head he wore a tattered Yankees hat. Two people stood up and made room for Lovely to sit. Everyone’s attention turned to the old man as he shuffled toward one of the vacated concrete blocks and carefully lowered himself down onto it. Patrick watched his face closely. “Hey, Love-ly. Play us some harmonica,” said Michael. “You all have something for an old man to eat?” “Yeah, man. We can probably find you something. You want some fried chicken?” said Michael. “That sounds good. Thank you very much young man.” “Anything for you, Love-ly. We’ll be back in a jiff. Okay, y’all. Come on, now. We need some money so Mr. Love-ly here can eat. We need some more beer, too. Everybody pitch in two dollars, and we should have enough.” A few quiet grumbles fell into the air as people reached into their pockets. Magliafari milled around the group, collecting the crumpled bills and straightening them out in his hands. He grabbed Patrick’s two dollars and turned toward the alley between the juvenile detective garage and Tony’s Pizza. “I’ll be right back. Don’t go anywhere, Love-ly.
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We’re going to get you some chicken and beer so you can play tight, ahh-ite?” “All right,” said Lovely. The old man said it with the same tone and inflection as the younger kids said ahh-ite. Same expression, but he pronounced the consonants and distinct words. All Right. It meant hello, goodbye, thank you, respect, and a hundred other things, depending on how you said it and whom you were talking to. As Michael left to get the beer and chicken, people resumed their talking and laughing and horsing around at the top of the fifty stairs leading down to the alternative high school’s parking lot. It seemed like an ongoing party to Patrick, like this was a way of life up here. It reminded him of hanging out in front of the Hathaway sisters’ house in Endville during the previous summer. It had the same feel of freedom and safety, but markedly more urban and gritty. It felt like the Bronx, soot and dirt in the air, electric with possible danger. It felt safe that night, though, surrounded by friends in the darkness. The beer, on top of the homemade wine that he, Jay-Jay, and Bobby had drunk earlier, just up the street in Labaluster’s grandfather’s garage, had begun to lull Patrick into a very relaxed state of mind, one in which he felt neither pain nor fear. His mind was numb to the chronic confusions and anxieties he usually felt. He fit in with this new group. They didn’t ask anything of him. They accepted him almost immediately, without question. It was comfortable and easy. He felt no pressure to be or say anything at all. Ceci walked over and sat down between Lovely and Patrick, stepping again over the sloppily stacked boards leaned up against the rear of the garage. She reached over and rubbed Lovely’s back affectionately. “Hey Love-ly. How you doin’, hon?” “Oh, I can’t complain. I can’t complain.” He said it twice. “You doin’ okay? You got retirement money coming in? Food stamps?” she asked. “I used to work for the town, cleaning up the parks,” he said. “I remember, from when I was a kid,” she said. “Uh huh. I worked doing that for thirty years. I used to work for the railroad before that. I worked in the mill for a while with my father when I was young. Yep, yep. That was a long time ago, though.”
He smiled a warm, broad smile, and a deep, rich “Life is good, isn’t it, Love-ly?” presence and kindness filled his eyes. He clearly “Lovely,” said Lovely. enjoyed the company and attention. “You have a song for us, friend?” said Michael. About ten minutes later Magliafari reappeared “Sure ’nough,” he said. from the alley with a cardboard box filled with six A light wind skittered a single dried leaf across one-quart bottles of beer and two containers of fried the smooth, hardened, well-worn dirt. The leaf came chicken. He put the box down on an unoccupied, to rest between the old man’s shoes. upturned block, and took out one container of Lovely pulled a harmonica from his right coat chicken. He walked the chicken over to Lovely and pocket and looked it over. He tapped it against handed it to him. Lovely reached up with both of his his palm a few times to knock out any debris, and slender black hands and gently took the container. reached down for the quart of beer between his feet. “You’ll play us a few songs on the harmonica, He drank down the rest of the quart, and then held right? After you eat?” said Michael. it up against the streetlight below and looked at the Lovely nodded as he opened the container and dribble in the bottom of the bottle. began to devour the chicken. He ate like a man “You don’t have any more beer, do you?” he who hadn’t eaten in a while, said hopefully. ravenously, licking his bony “Sure, my man. Hey, fingers after each piece to Lovely needs more beer. savor it more fully. Cough it up.” Michael took a few Michael reached pieces out of the second back and snapped his container for himself, and fingers at someone sitting then passed it around the directly behind him. A other way. He opened one near-full bottle appeared of the bottles of Olde English from the shadows behind 800 malt liquor, twisting Michael, thrust forth by off its aluminum cap, and a black hand. Michael washed down a mouthful. grabbed the bottle and He handed the bottle to passed it to Lovely. Lovely. The old man took Twilight Study #7058 by Sean Murphy. “Here you go, Love-ly.” a swig, and then poured “Thank you. Thank you.” a stream of beer into the harmonica, first into one Lovely took a long guzzling drink from the side, and then the other. bottle, a little desperately, like he might not get Michael laughed. more. When he finished the first guzzle, he belched “I gots to choke it down,” said Lovely. “This here loudly. Then he drank down three or four more long helps me choke it down.” gulps, put the bottle between his feet with a thunk, “What, the chicken?” said Michael. Ceci and finished off the last piece of chicken. laughed. He licked the remaining bits of grease and fat “The harp gets a little stiff. This here helps me from the fingers of his left hand, and he leaned down choke it down,” said Lovely. and picked up the bottle again with his right, and He poured another sloppy splash of beer into the took another long swig. harmonica, and enthusiastically plugged the harp As if on cue, Magliafari appeared behind him into his mouth and sucked the beer out of it. The and handed him a cigarette, and lit a match. The harmonica wheezed at first as he pulled air across old man cupped his hands to keep the wind from the reeds. blowing it out. A few puffs of smoke drifted up and Patrick’s ears perked up at the sound. hung momentarily in the cold night air. Magliafari Lovely’s back straightened like a rod as he sat down on the empty block, to Lovely’s right, and warmed up the harp. The music sounded like the lit a cigarette himself. A thick moment of satisfaction wailing of a dog at first, howling from loneliness filled the darkness behind the garage as the beer and or hunger, too long tied to a stake in the yard, too food and cigarettes had their effect on the group of often beaten by an unkind master. The old man partiers. transformed into another person before their eyes.
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A rhythm started and grew into an organic machine, like a slow train clanking on tracks, made of soul; flesh and bone. Lovely’s foot started tapping, first this way, and then that, on a perfectly timed offbeat to the harmonica’s deeply felt crescendos and diminutions; the old man’s song filling the night. Then, as rain will sometimes just appear out of air, without wind or storm to carry it in, when the dew point hits just the right spot, the whole group on top of the hill, behind the garage, at the top of the stairs, began to stomp and yelp, and clap their hands in a perfectly synchronized and syncopated rhythm to the old man’s wail. Lovely picked up on the flush of feeling and soared with it, and now stomping his feet, and raising his knees high between each downbeat, rocking back and forth like Ray Charles or Stevie Wonder, abandoned himself to each ecstatic, joyful and sorrowful measure. Patrick couldn’t believe his ears. The memory of the music that Mrs. Shimansky, his grade school music teacher, had instilled in him came rushing forward; the attention to detail and breathing; focusing on the rhythm and timing with fluid acceptance, not forcing any wooden, mechanical control on any part of the expression. Patrick found himself clapping and rocking with everyone else, letting the old man lead them, loving him for giving so much of himself to that sound, feeling it in every part of himself, the downbeats and offbeats, the breath and the breathing. And then Lovely sang.
On down the road (clap, clap) Where dreams are born (clap, clap) I met the Devil (clap clap) He was full of scorn (clap clap)
He looked at me (clap clap) With that old evil eye (clap clap) He tried to steal my soul (clap clap) All I could do was cry (clap clap)
The old man seemed transfixed now with joy, as if he had risen completely above his worldly circumstance, transcended every pain he’d ever felt, left them behind with all memory of awful history, and all worry for the future and its inevitable outcomes. The whole bloody world fell away from that old man’s soul as he dug deeper into the music and the sound. Everyone else rocked and smiled, clapping with devotion to him and his song, each line punctuated with the moan of harmonica.
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Then from the east (clap clap) Came a thundercloud (clap clap) Sweet Jesus lightning (clap clap) Called my name out loud (clap clap)
And the thunder growled (clap clap) And the rain did pour (clap clap) And that old Devil (clap clap) I ain’t seen him no more (clap clap)
And Lovely played the harmonica like a fierce growling dog, seven generations wild, all teeth and bloody snot and gruesome, vicious truth. And then he played like a child swept up in a perfect day, where excitement and pure joy washed over him. Patrick was entranced. He felt himself in a dream of contentment like none he’d ever experienced, one in which he felt he could not move for fear of waking or disturbing the spell. And just as Patrick became aware of it, the old man came back down, and a sudden peacefulness settled on the people sitting at the top of the stairs, behind the juvenile detective bureau garage, above the parking lot of the alternative high school, just up the street from Patrick’s family’s new apartment in this new town and his new home. And as mysteriously as this old man had appeared, and they had soared with him on wings of music into utter bliss, the music came to the softest and quietest of endings, like a small bird landing, hovering for a moment above the ground on a cushion of air, and settling almost imperceptibly down. The old man sat still for a long moment in the silence. Every person there looked at the life around them with a quiet sense of wonder. Someone whistled a long, soft, dry whistle. “Wow,” said Patrick. The old man sighed a deep, heaving sigh. He shifted his frame on the concrete block, shook his head and chuckled. “It’s a lovely day,” he said. “Love-ly I say.”
Sean Murphy, COA’s webmaster, has been a staff member for twenty-one years. As part of his work toward a BA in human ecology, he has been attending Bill Carpenter’s ongoing Advanced Fiction tutorial. More of Sean’s photographs can be seen at www.seanmurphyphotography.com; his music can be heard at smallerthanclouds.com.
CLASS NOTES 1976 Craig Kesselheim continues to work in support of school reform with the Great Schools Partnership. He feels the work is vitally important, and it keeps him forever on the learning curve. One project is a partnership between science and math faculty of public high schools, vocational schools and community colleges. Craig is also wrapping up a two-year committee assignment with the National Academy of Engineering. This group from around the country conducted an investigation into the current condition of K-12 engineering education in the United States. They are issuing their report later in the spring. With lots of travel around Maine, he says, his birding and photography appetites are well-fed. Craig lives in Southwest Harbor with wife Beth; both children are “out in the world.”
1977 Tom Fisher is an architect and green building consultant with the Washington, DC office of Sustainable Design Consulting (SDC). He is currently managing and advising on sustainable design and construction processes for two dozen large building projects in the region. Prior to SDC, Tom’s design firm, ENVIRON Design Collaborative, provided residential architectural services for ecologically oriented clients. Tom designed several straw bale homes (one was featured on the cover of Natural Home) and other houses with environmentally responsive features. He also managed and co-authored the English language translation of a German book on green building, Living Spaces. Tom’s former wife and good friend, Cynthia Jordan Fisher ’79, is in Charlottesville, Virginia as are their kids, Hana, 14, Claire, 22, and granddaughter, Macayla. Tom has remarried and is living just north of DC.
The cover story of the February issue of Smithsonian Magazine, “Lincoln’s Contested Legacy” was written by Philip Kunhardt III. His new book, co-authored with his brother and nephew, Looking for Lincoln, was released in January, and a companion film aired in February, along with an hour-long interview on Minnesota Public Radio. The book was the subject of a fivepage article by Thomas Mallon in the October issue of the New Yorker. Philip, who serves on the board of trustees and is also now a COA parent, received the Order of Lincoln award from the Lincoln Academy of Illinois, that state’s highest award. He also spent five days speaking to audiences in Russia about Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama on a United States State Department grant. In March, Kunhardt hosted “Why He Still Matters: A Bicentennial Conference on Lincoln” at Bard College where he serves as a Bard Center fellow. Fran Pollitt writes to say that her book Historic Photos of Maine owes thanks to COA faculty member Elmer Beal who taught Maine history, and former staff and faculty members Sam Eliot, who insisted on clear writing, and Steve Anderson for describing economic conundrums—as well as the steadfast encouragement of the entire faculty who are focused on the success of the students under their tutelage.
1979 Dave Wersan recently moved from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to Shanghai, China to become regional general counsel for the electronics manufacturing company, Tyco Electronics. His responsibilities cover all legal activities for the company in China, Korea, Japan and around the Asian rim to Thailand. He and his wife, Caroline Owens, will be living in Shanghai for the next few years. He encourages COA folks going to Shanghai to contact him:firstname.lastname@example.org.
1984 Margaret (Megan) Pennock is having a blast co-teaching eighth grade environmental science with her husband, Dave Wood, at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC. With projects like a long-term study of native pollinators (fifty-seven species of bees on the little urban campus, nine never before recorded in DC), they hope that the students will better understand the world, and become inspired and in awe of its beauty and wonder. Their students offer tours of the first-ever platinum-rated green school building in the world and would love for COA grads to visit. Margaret has two lovely stepdaughters, a freshman at the University of Vermont, and a high school senior. She and Dave use every opportunity to get out into the wild; a banner wildlife sighting this year was a Florida panther stalking four deer in an open field! They would welcome hearing from COA grads and fellow educators: email@example.com. Charmaine Kinton, creator of Critter Kites, was delighted to have her ecofriendly kites travel to the Uluru Children’s Home in India with a Vermont teacher this winter. Charmaine designed an Asian white-backed vulture kite for the occasion. For more on her education kite project, email info@ critterkites.com.
1989 Jared Crawford is now working for eSolar, a solar thermal startup in Pasadena, California. His job as a technical writer in the systems integration, evaluation and testing department, is perfect for a human ecologist, as he reviews, documents and
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CLASS NOTES organizes information for all the other groups in the company. Says Jared, “Systems’ job is to make sure we’re all communicating and meeting each other’s requirements, from hardware installers through research scientists.” The company is currently finishing a power plant in Lancaster, California that will prove the viability of concentrated solar thermal technology. For details and photos, visit www.eSolar. com. Meanwhile, Jared and his family are cultivating a vegetable garden, restoring a mid-century modern house, volunteering and bicycling in Los Angeles County.
1990 Dan DenDanto is the proprietor of Whales and Nails, a business specializing in the articulation of whale skeletons. Courtney Vashro ’99 and Toby Stephenson ’98 are working with Dan on a humpback whale exhibit for the Seacoast Science Center in Rye, New Hampshire. Dan runs his business from Seal Cove, Maine, where he lives with his wife, Megan Smith ’90, and their two boys, Gus and Rocco.
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Dan Sangeap received a Lefkowitz Award from New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in December for his work on the Merrill Lynch auction rate securities matter and the investigations that led to improved disclosure to utility company shareholders concerning risks from global warming.
Heather Martin-Zboray was unanimously elected to fill the Hancock County Democratic Committee’s open seat on the Maine Democratic Party State Committee. Heather had served on the committee for several years before stepping down last spring to work for the coordinated campaign.
After a permaculture design course last summer, Jen Mazer reports that her life was completely changed. She is now growing her own garden and is also involved in the transition movement, which incorporates peak oil and climate change into decisions regarding how to make a town, city, watershed or other region more sustainable. Find her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Natalie Springuel is an extension associate with the University of Maine Sea Grant Program. She spent a six-month sabbatical in Newfoundland in 2008, studying the role of tourism in revitalizing outports following the collapse of the cod fishery. Daughter Anouk, at age one, was Natalie’s able research assistant, engaging Newfoundlanders in conversation throughout the vast island, while spouse Rich MacDonald worked on natural history writing projects of his own. This spring she is once again co-teaching COA’s course This Marvelous Terrible Place, the Human Ecology of Newfoundland.
1993 Sarah (Cole) McDaniel is back to full speed, working at her Portland, Maine law practice and parenting her sevenyear-old daughter after donating her kidney to a stranger in October 2008. Sarah’s mother had been on dialysis for ten months before receiving a new kidney the day before Thanksgiving. In what is known as a “list exchange,” Sarah’s donation allowed her mother to receive a deceased-donor kidney in four weeks, instead of the approximately four years of waiting endured by many patients on the list. Sarah asks everyone whose health allows to consider donating blood, and is more than willing to talk with folks about the possibilities of living organ donations.
Cedar Bough Saeji says she is swamped under her second year of PhD coursework in culture and performance at UCLA. The April issue of National Geographic features photographs by Amy Toensing on the drought in the Murray-Darling Basin of Australia. She also photographed a story on Tonga, the Pacific’s Last Monarchy in November 2007 and one on the Parks of Paris in October 2006. In late June and early July, Amy will be on campus as a teacher in the National Geographic Student Expedition based at COA. The next month, on August 22, she will marry fellow National Geographic photographer Matthew Moyer.
1994 A paper co-authored by former faculty member in botany, Nishanta Rajakaruna and Nathaniel Pope ’08, Jose Perez-Orozco ’08 and Tanner Harris ’06, “Ornithocoprophilous Plants of Mount Desert Rock, a Remote Bird‑Nesting Island in the Gulf of
Maine, USA,” has been accepted for publication in Rhodora: The Journal of the New England Botanical Club and will appear in the autumn issue, Volume 111 (2009). In press at Northeastern Naturalist 16 are three articles: R. S. Boyd, A. R. Kruckeberg and Rajakaruna ’94, “Biology of ultramafic rocks and soils: research goals for the future;” Rajakaruna ’94 and Boyd, “Advances in serpentine geoecology: A retrospective” and Harris ’06 and Rajakaruna ’94, “Adiantum viridimontanum, Aspidotis densa, Minuartia marcescens, and Symphyotrichum rhiannon: Additional Serpentine Endemics from Eastern North America.” Nishi, seen in photo with adjunct faculty member Fred Olday, is currently the coeditor of Soil And Biota of Serpentine: A World View: Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference On Serpentine Ecology (Lawrence, Kansas: Allen Press) and Serpentine: A Model For Evolution And Ecology (Berkley, California: University of California Press).
Philip H. Nicholas moved to Portland, Maine and is now working for the Maine Office of the Trust for Public Land. He and Tammy (McGrath) ’97 and their three kids, William, 6, Josephine, 3, and John, 1, are really excited to be back in Maine.
Eric Berthoud, a COA visitor from 2000–2002, is completing his master’s in computer arts in New York. His thesis involves a video installation with nature images projected into an interior space. Eric’s interests are in video production and web design; recent work can be seen at www.eberthoud.com.
Ryan Ruggiero loves his work heading up the land acquisition program for the McKenzie River Trust, a regional land trust that covers an area the size of New Hampshire. Mason, 6, and Stella, 3, are loads of fun and energy. He writes, “We’ve been in Oregon for ten years now and are here to stay. We’re buying an old house and will be totally redoing the whole thing.”
On August 23, 2008, Jaime Duval was married to Rob Beranek at the Rapid River Lodge in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula. Jaime and Rob met in graduate school at Antioch University New England and are currently living and playing in Marquette, Michigan. Jaime is working part time as a receptionist for a naturopathic doctor, getting involved with the local food co-op and pursuing farm work for the upcoming growing season. Rob is working as an environmental technician at Cliffs Natural Resources where he coordinates habitat reclamation and air quality control. They are en-
Nikki (Hooper) Fox lives in the back woods in Orland, Maine with husband Tom, Willa, 5, and Nettie Jane, 3. This past summer she began operating Moon Dog Farm and Market, establishing a farmstand in Town Hill to sell her produce along with other local organic farmers. She has joined the board of directors of The Great Pond Mountain Land Trust (the Wildlands), a 1,400-acre land trust located in her back yard. www.greatpondtrust.com. Her woolen creations are now online at www.moondogfarm.etsy.com. Nikki writes, “After a long and snowy winter we are looking forward to get-
Margaret Youngs is the farm manager at the Chewonki Foundation in Wiscasset, Maine. It’s a small, diversified, horse-power, education-based farm and it keeps her very busy. Margaret says that with several alumni working at Chewonki, COA never feels that far away. Alumni are always talking about COA to their Maine Coast Se-
mester students, many of whom have ended up at the college. Margaret is engaged to carpenter and elementary school teacher Chris Coleman. They will be getting married this October.
1997 Margaret Hoffman and her boyfriend, Dave Sherman, purchased a home last summer on Southport Island, Maine. Acadia, Margaret’s cat, and Cody, Dave’s dog, are still adjusting to life together under one roof. There’s always room for guests. COA alumni visiting Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay are encouraged to call or email Margaret, who is director of marketing and visitor services. If she knows in advance, she’s happy to provide a private tour: mhoffman@ mainegardens.org.
joying life on Lake Superior and playing with and learning each day from their black lab puppy, Bodhi.
2001 Caroline Leonard now spends the academic year off-island in Rockland, Maine to take advantage of independent schools and mainland opportunities for Field, 11, and Addison, 5. “Vinalhaven, which is so dear to me, is too isolating for me in the wintertime. We go to the island for the summer, which is wonderful, and we manage to get there some weekends during the year when the kids aren’t busy with sports.”
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CLASS NOTES ting our hands in the dirt and swimming in our stream. Life is full and busy for the Fox family!”
2003 Allison Garoza married Robert Putnam Jr. in 2008. They now live in Sydney, Australia and are greatly enjoying a warmer climate. Erin Enberg was the director of photography on the short indie film Her Alibi, now in post-production. She also did lighting and sound for a Travel Channel show during which she hung out with Linda Greenlaw on her lobster boat. Currently in the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA creative writing program, Erin is working on a screenplay that has been requested by the Sundance Film Institute. Her short play Pirates of Leisure was a finalist for the Maine Short Play Festival and was given a public reading last spring. “In January,” she writes, “I went to the Obama inauguration and it was amazing!” Mike Shepard’s Mountain View Farm was featured in a local foods article in the Burlington, Vermont-based independent newspaper Seven Days. While raising cattle, pigs and chickens, he and partner Erin Buckwalter are reclaiming pasture land in South Starksboro that has been in Mike’s family for six generations: www. mountainviewfarmvt.com.
2004 As a student in the Maine College of Art Teacher Certification Program, Samuel Wustner is teaching painting at an art center for adults with exceptionalities, collaborating with the Museum of African Culture on workshops and lectures featuring masks, puppetry and printmaking, facilitating a project with middle-schoolers about civil rights activist Claudette Colvin,
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and exploring the relationship of music and visual arts with eighth graders. The artwork produced will be in the Ebune Festival, on display in a Portland city bus and exhibited at the Maine College of Art. Sam has also been student teaching in a number of schools from pre-school through high school, making connections through art to interdisciplinary study and relevant issues. Sam continues to paint portraits and landscapes and is exploring the role of art in conservation. His latest work integrates his keen interest in teaching with promoting a healthier local and global environment. After graduation, Jim Harriman worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Cancer Research for two years before deciding to go back to graduate school in the University of Maine’s Functional Genomics program. This summer he finished an internship in the bioinformatics department at BASF, the world’s largest chemical company, based in Germany. While the sun set over the Atlantic and the wind whipped snow around, Andrew Moulton proposed to Amanda Muscat ’06 on January 16 at Conneymus Cove, Rhode Island. Andrew is now training to be a yoga teacher while Amanda is in England working toward a PhD in social studies. Their emails are email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
2005 Shaya Shub-Durbin is living in Oakland, California, working for herself making jewelry, unofficially launching www.shayafinejewelry.com and
getting ready to pursue graduate school in the arts.
2006 Katie Alayan is amazed by Tiki, Alice and George, the three elephants she works with in Winston, Oregon at Wildlife Safari, a six-hundred-acre drive-through zoological park. She has participated in meetings and conferences about elephants and was able to visit numerous zoos during a recent trip to Europe. If anyone wants to chat, feel free to email: kalayan@ coa.edu. Diana Kombe writes that she is co-author with Robert T. Wheeler, Sudeep D. Agarwala and Gerald R. Fink of “Dynamic, Morphotype-Specific Candida albicans ß-Glucan Exposure during Infection and Drug Treatment.” The paper, featuring research conducted at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, can be found at http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal. ppat.1000227 in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS, published by the Public Library of Science.
2007 María Lis Baiocchi completed a oneyear master’s degree in sociology and social anthropology at the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, Hungary with a full fellowship. She received an Outstanding Academic Achievement Award for highest GPA of all master’s graduates in her department. Her thesis was on the process of collective identity formation by participation in anti-nationalist, antimilitarist, feminist mobilization. Maria now works as project manager of the Human Rights Initiative, an NGO whose mission is to promote social engagement through awareness-raising and capacity-building, primarily
FACULTY & COMMUNITY NOTES working with CEU students, alumni and regional NGO staff and activists.
2008 Ilva Letoja has been working for Brother’s Brother Foundation since October 2008 as a mission trip and humanitarian assistant. BBF is a fiftyyear-old charity based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, sending medical, humanitarian and educational supplies to countries around the world. Ilva is in charge of the mission trip program, providing pharmaceuticals to domestic groups going on short-term missions, mostly to Latin America, but also to Africa and Asia.
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(Class years in parentheses refer to alumni who did not graduate from COA.)
Heather AlbertKnopp ’99 has taken on the part-time position of administering the college’s new Sustainable Food Systems Program, which includes the TransAtlantic Partnership in Sustainable Food Systems, linking COA with the University of Kassel in Germany and the Organic Research Center (ORC) at Elm Farm in the United Kingdom.
Staff at COA’s marine mammal research arm, Allied Whale, continued work last summer at the Edward McC. Blair Marine Research Station at Mount Desert Rock, along with onshore projects, including the Bar Harbor Whale Museum and the Marine Mammal Stranding Response Program. Improvements to the research station continue. Working closely with the Department of Marine Resources, last season Allied Whale collected data pertinent to northern right whale distribution in the Gulf of Maine, as well as a wealth of marine mammal acoustic data collected in conjunction with Cornell University’s Bioacoustic Research Program. Says Sean Todd, COA faculty member and Allied Whale director, “Much of the success Allied Whale has seen in the past few years is due to two factors—our wonderful, smart and committed students, and a senior staff management team that is just fabulous, unparalleled and entirely dedicated to maximizing the student experience.” John Anderson, faculty member in biology and the William H. Drury, Jr. Chair in Evolution, Ecology and
Natural History, brought six students to the Waterbird Society meetings on Texas’ South Padre Island where he presented the paper, “Impact of Bald Eagle Recovery on Seabird Populations in the Northeastern United States.” The students also presented research based on work at the Alice Eno Research Station on Great Duck Island last summer. Anna Perry ’10 gave an oral presentation of her work on the distribution of Leach’s storm petrel burrows, while Adrianna Beaudette ’11, Yoko Bowen ’10 and graduate student Clodagh Collins presented posters. Additionally, John has been nominated for the Council of the Waterbird Society. John also gave invited seminars at the University of Maine Orono and Maine Audubon about research he and Aspen Reese ’12 have been doing on reconstructing pre-colonial seabird populations in the Gulf of Maine. In February, John was an invited representative to the two-day Upper Trophic Level Predators Expert Group in Portland, Maine, chaired by Scott Kraus ’77. Also at the meeting was Peter Stevick ’81. The world premier of On a Phantom Limb, the latest film by Nancy Andrews, faculty member in video and performance art, was held March 13 at the 14-Karat Cabaret in Baltimore, Maryland. Thanks to her Guggenheim Fellowship, Nancy just completed a two-term leave, during which she was able to create and edit her film. COA talent abounded: Dru Colbert created the bird head and appears in the film; John Cooper wrote original music, arranged additional music and performed on key-
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FACULTY & COMMUNITY NOTES board and guitar; and recording engineer Zach Soares ’00, COA’s library media specialist, recorded and mixed sound. Additionally Colin Capers ’95, MPhil ’08 served as cameraman and actor; documentary filmmaker Ned Johnston, a COA visiting teacher in photography and video, also worked the camera; and Davis Taylor, faculty member in economics, was an actor. Upcoming screenings include the San Francisco International Film Festival. Nancy has also been invited to be part of New Media Artists Maine, or NMAM, new media artists who work with new media technologies and reject commercial influences and popular culture. A screening of work, including Nancy’s, was held in April at the Southern Maine Community College in South Portland. Collaborating with writer Lisa Leaverton and with Elmer Beal, faculty member in anthropology as voice talent, Nancy created Encounters, a five-minute video for Trickhouse.org. It can be seen at antral.net/encounter.mov or trickhouse. org/vol4/video/leaverton&andrews. html. Nancy was also in the show titled “Comical” this April at the Center for Contemporary Maine Art in Rockport, Maine. Her animated work was part of the Rhode Island College Animation Festival in April. Visit www. nancyandrews.net. The Bar Harbor Whale Museum, curated and directed by Toby Stephenson ’98, received an outreach grant from the Maine Community Foundation to enhance marine education in Hancock County schools and make visits to the Whale Museum in downtown Bar Harbor more meaningful. Rich Borden, faculty member in psychology and the Rachel Carson Chair in Human Ecology, is serving as cochair of an international conference on human ecology in Manchester, United Kingdom. This conference, running from June 29 to July 3, is sponsored by the Society for Human Ecology, Commonwealth Human Ecology Council, German Society for
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Human Ecology, Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment and other professional associations. Rich’s Rachel Carson Chair presentation, “Welcoming Rachel Carson to College of the Atlantic: A Centenary Celebration of Life,” appears as an invited essay in the forthcoming Journal of Mediterranean Ecology. On June 21, 2008, Lynn Boulger, Dean of Development, married Tim Garrity, officiated by Sarah Baker, Dean of Admission. Last October’s Sacred and Profane festival on Peaks Island, Maine, included an installation version of sabertooth by Colin Capers ’95, MPhil ’08, lecturer in composition, writing and film studies. The festival was co-founded in 1996 by Paul Kozak ’86. The original videoart version, featured on the cover of the Fall 2008 COA, was screened as part of the three-day Lumina festival in Waterville, Maine, a collaboration between the Maine Film Center and the American Film Institute—Colin received their Emerging Filmmaker award. Ken Cline, Associate Dean for Faculty and faculty member in public policy and environmental law, attended the Fifth World Water Forum in Istanbul, Turkey in March, the latest in a series of international conferences devoted to water. Ken hopes to return to the 2012 forum, bringing students from that year’s Hydro Politics in a Thirsty World class. Also at the forum was Geena Berry ’10, a student passionately interested in wastewater treatment and sanitation.
After more than six years of work, the Maine State Museum in Augusta opened its At Home in Maine exhibit, the largest exhibition the institution has created. Dru Colbert, faculty member in graphic and three-dimensional design and museum studies, was one of the key designers of the exhibit, working with a Washington, DC designer to create a concept for the exhibit on the history of domestic life in Maine. Faculty member in music, John Cooper, wrote and published under C Lynne Music, his third book based on his “Steps Ahead” theory system, Linear Transitions, a developmental method of Improvisation Studies for high school and college jazz ensembles. The original volume, Every Key/Every Day: Piano/Keyboard Harmony Text, was recently reprinted for use by Denis DiBlasio and the Rowan University Jazz Program. John also produced and performed the music score to Acadia Always, an hour-long documentary shown on Maine PBS in December, narrated by Jack Perkins, former NBC News correspondent and host of Art & Entertainment’s biography series. John, who had a sabbatical over winter term, conducted jazz clinics at numerous Hancock and Penobscot county schools and served as an adjudicator for several Maine jazz festivals. He also served as guest artist for the Brewer Jazz Spring Concert. Faculty member in mathematics and physics, Dave Feldman, is first author of the article, “The Organization of Intrinsic Computation: ComplexityEntropy Diagrams and the Diversity of Natural Information Processing,” with Carl McTague and James Crutcheld. The three are colleagues at the Santa Fe Institute. The article was published in Chaos. 18:043106. 2008. DOI: 10.1063/1.2991106, and is available at http://tinyurl.com/dmeb4a. The article refers to how dynamical sys-
tems store, structure, and transform historical and spatial information. By graphing a measure of structural complexity against a measure of randomness, complexity-entropy diagrams display the different kinds of intrinsic computation across an entire class of systems. Jay Friedlander, the Sharpe-McNally Chair in Green and Socially Responsible Business, was the keynote speaker at the EcoMaine green business symposium, Achieving Sustainable Competitive Advantage, in October. He also presented to the Gorham Savings Bank sustainability team in November and completed a green marketing program for a United States Agency of International Development project promoting sustainable furniture manufacturing in Indonesia. In August, Jay was featured in Mainebiz for his new position at COA, www.mainebiz.biz/ news43225.html. COA President David Hales serves on the steering committee of REN 21, the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (see a video of David on its website: www.dailymotion.com/ video/k7KhXHvKwo4cXwVyzM) and also serves on the steering committee and leadership circle of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, or ACUPCC. Additionally, David chairs the higher education committee of the American Council on Renewable Energy, or ACORE, and serves on the advisory boards of the Center for International Environmental Law and Blue Legacy, Alexandra Cousteau’s foundation to continue the work of her grandfather, Jacques. In November, CNN revisited its interview with David as one of the world’s Principal Voices on the environment. See it at www.cnn.
com/2008/TECH/science/11/03/david.hales/index.html. His comments on corporate responsibility were featured in the January editions of both Time and Fortune. Last July, David moderated two days of the weeklong session of the Annual Ministerial Development Forum of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations at its New York City headquarters. In April, he addressed the New England Board of Higher Education on the role of higher education in the sustainability crisis. This July, he will be giving the keynote address at the International Conference on Human Ecology in Manchester, United Kingdom. After serving as treasurer for the successful Elsie Flemings ’07 for State Representative campaign, Jennifer Hughes (photo), manager of donor services and prospect research, was elected treasurer of the Hancock County Democratic Committee. Associate Dean of Student Services Sarah Luke gave the presentation, “Small and Sustainable” in March at the annual NASPA national conference, along with Sandy Olson-Loy, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at University of Minnesota, Morris and Cathy Kramer, Dean of Students at Warren-Wilson College. NASPA is the professional organization for Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. Sarah and the other women spoke about sustainability initiatives on each campus and the overall philosophy of sustainability that permeates all three schools. Alyssa Mack is the new farm manager at Beech Hill Farm in Somesville. She comes with experience work-
ing on farms across the United States and in Europe and holds a BS in environmental science from Allegheny College in Pennsylvania. Jamie McKown, faculty member in government and polity, holds the James Russell Wiggins Chair in Government and Polity. He served as a judge for The Association of Political and Public Affairs Professionals’ annual Pollie Awards, akin to the Academy Awards for political advertising. Jamie also presented “Beyond House Divided: Recharting Lincoln’s Use of Conspiracy Narratives” in St. Louis, Missouri. Suzanne Morse spent her fall sabbatical in Norway where she taught in the international master’s program in Agroecology and Food Systems at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. She also gave an invited talk about COA, “Being the Greenest College: the convergence of theory, practice and press” to university students, faculty and administrators. While in Europe she visited the Organic Research Centre in England and University of Kassel in Witzenhausen, Germany, COA’s partners in the new Trans-Atlantic Partnership in Sustainable Food Systems. In London, she joined up with Graham Woodgate of the Institute of the Americas for a presentation on the meaning of corn in Mayan agriculture. Suzanne will return to the United Kingdom and Germany this August for Our Daily Bread, the first class established under the new Sustainable Food Systems Program. In preparation, she is participating in a Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program for wheat growers. Working with the Penobscot East Resource Center, or PERC, Chris Petersen, faculty member in biology,
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FACULTY & COMMUNITY NOTES has received a grant from the Long Cove Foundation to focus some of the college’s research resources on the specific needs of fisheries on the coast of Maine. The grant, “Forming Successful Collaborations in Marine Research and Policy: Combining Expertise from Academic, Non-Profit and Resource User Groups,” provides $100,000 over three years to fund student and faculty research into issues surrounding Maine’s fisheries. The grant also funds internships at PERC, of Stonington, Maine, by COA undergraduate and graduate students. Also involved in the grant are Ken Cline, Todd Little-Siebold, faculty member in history and Sean Todd, Associate Dean for Advanced Studies. Jean Marie Roth is the new Summer Field Studies director, taking over from longtime director Dianne Clendaniel, who is now the alumni development coordinator. Jean taught all ages in the camp’s summer sessions over the last two years and has been working as an environmental educator since graduating from Pennsylvania State University with a BS in biology. In November, Sean Todd, faculty member in biology and the Steven K. Katona Chair in Marine Sciences, took eight students to the Right Whale Consortium in New Bedford, MA. In December, Sean was an invited pan-
elist on a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration grant technical review panel in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. During a winter term sabbatical, Sean traveled to the Southern Ocean to work aboard the M/V Minerva as a marine mammal expert, guest lecturer and naturalist guide for ecotourism trips visiting the Falklands, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula. He used this opportunity to collect data for Allied Whale’s Antarctic Humpback Whale Catalog, obtaining photographic identification of over thirty new animals. Sean worked on several peer-reviewed papers. He is first author, with Kaitlin Allen, Christie Mahaffey MPhil ’05, Jessica Damon ’99, Mick Peterson, Phil Hamilton and Bob Kenney, on “An acoustic mysticete shipstrike mortality risk assessment for the Gulf of Maine,” which will be presented in England this spring by a graduate student, to be published in the Proceedings of the Institute of Acoustics. He is also first author on a paper to be published in the peer-reviewed journal Marine Mammal Science, “Stable isotope signal homoreneity and differences between and within pinniped muscle and skin,” co-authored with Bethany Holm ’04, Dave Rosen and Dominic Tollit. He is second author of the article written by Julien Delarue MPhil ’08, along with Sofie M. Van Parijs and Lucia Di Iorio, “Geographic variation in Northwest Atlantic fin whale songs: implications for stock structure assessment” in Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 2009: 125(3) 1774-1782.
At February’s 40th annual Northeast Modern Language Association Conference in Boston, Karen Waldron, faculty member in literature, organized and facilitated the seminar Methods of Literary Ecology in American Literature: Constructions of Place, featuring eight scholars from the US and Canada. She also presented “The Silent Partner and Deafness: A Story of Three Women,” on Elizabeth Stuart Phelps’ 1871 The Silent Partner. Karen also presented “Chandlerian Reprise or Revision? Gender and Romance in James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux Series” at the Popular Culture Association/ American Culture Association annual conference in New Orleans, completing her two-year stint as co-area chair for the detective and mystery fiction section. Amy Wesolowski ’10 gave three recent talks. Last August, she spoke at the Mathematical Association of America’s MathFest in Madison, Wisconsin on “Network Analysis of the Clique Replacement Graph” and repeated a similar talk in September at the Women in Mathematics in New England Conference at Smith College. In January, she presented “Tiling the Plane with Squares,” with Sasha Berkoff of Smith College at the American Mathematical Society Session on Geometry at the joint meeting of Mathematical Association of American and American Mathematical Society in Washington, DC.
Images from COA’s Earth Day Celebration & Alumni Reunion (April 17–19, 2009)
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The XVI International Conference of the Society for Human Ecology The most recent conference of the Society for Human Ecology brought numerous COA community members to Bellingham, Washington last September, including the chair, Gene Myers, a 1980 visiting student. The theme was Integrative Thinking for Complex Futures: Creating Resilience in Human-Nature Systems. The session titled A Renaissance of Natural History in Human Ecology: An Interactive Symposium was chaired by John Anderson. John’s presentation was “Philosophical Issues: Is Natural History Discovery Really Science?” He asked whether “increasing specialization within the life sciences, coupled with a greater emphasis on narrow hypothesis testing and the use of ever more expensive technology” might not, “leave some field biologists with the concern that the organism was being lost in the rush to theoretical synthesis.” John argues that we ignore the holistic approach of natural history to our peril. Rich Borden gave the presentation “Personal Ecology: Exploring the Body Boundary” in the session on Ecology in Thought and Action. According to Rich, most definitions of human ecology emphasize “the relationships between humans and their environment.” But human-environ-
mental interactions are complex, says Rich. “Through the human senses, environmental awareness reaches much further than the envelope of our skin; and a substantial portion of human life processes occur without any awareness at all.” With the help of several avant-garde films, Rich invited an expanded exploration of the psychological dimensions of “personal ecology.” Jay Friedlander presented “Creating a Socially Responsible Company,” discussing the fast food industry from the perspective of social and environmental costs in addition to profits. His case study was O’Naturals, the nation’s first natural and organic fast food chain, where Jay had been chief operating officer. Faculty associate Patricia HoneaFleming presented “Insight-Outlook: Minding a Story to Hold the World,” in which she noted that physical expression of emotion lasts all of ninety seconds. To create a further concern or connection requires some linkage, such as a story that links a personal experience or feeling to another person. Graduate student Ingrid Lindstrom presented “An Introductory Exploration of Literary Darwinism” during the Literature, Myth and Theatre in
Human Ecology session. Her discussion examined whether a method of explaining human development and behavior in a comprehensive social, biological and literary manner can exist within the sciences and humanities, finding that “the scientific method allows for a wider spectrum for the interpretation of human nature.” Along with Lauren Broomall ’09, Margaret Longley ’10 and co-chair Rich Borden (center of photo with Conference Chair Gene Myers), Ingrid was part of the roundtable on New Directions in Interdisciplinary and International Education. Davis Taylor, faculty member in economics, presented “Local Food and Business Cluster Development: Charting New Terrain,” a review of the community economic development claims of the local food movement through the lens of the business cluster concept. According to current literature, clusters are almost exclusively export-oriented, positioning local food clusters as anomalous. Davis also was on the panel at the discussion of Warfare Ecology: An Introduction and Dialogue on the Contribution of Human Ecology.
In Memoriam: Sherry Geyelin (December 1924–May 2009)
On Sunday, May 3, surrounded by her family, Sherry Geyelin died. Sherry was married to the late COA trustee Philip Geyelin, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post editor. A dancer with Charles Weidman in her youth, Sherry later became a storyteller.
Though one of her favorite quotes was, “the shortest distance between two people is a story,” Sherry Geyelin waited until last January before publicly telling the tale of how she and her husband consented to their four children’s wishes to try marijuana. How were they to know that then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger would call that very night?
Recalls COA trustee Steve Milliken, whom Phil Geyelin introduced to the COA board, “She danced her way into all of our hearts with her bright enthusiasm and generous love, and we laughed over Phil’s constantly reminding me that ‘I had to do my homework’ for COA.”
According to daughter Mary-Sherman Willis, who studied at COA, Sherry Geyelin’s death was peaceful and seamless. In this, says COA President David Hales, “as in so much else in her life, she was filled with grace and beauty.”
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Margaret Pennock started out taking field ecology and natural history courses with the late Bill Drury, faculty member in biology. When her interests turned to sharing this love with others, as a teacher, she joined with other students and lobbied COA for education courses—bringing in Peter Corcoran, COA’s first faculty member in education. Pennock has been at the Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC for thirteen years—and this consummate teacher sounds as excited about the school and her work as if she were in her first year. ~ DG
Margaret Pennock ’84
COA: Tell me what you do— MP: I teach seventh and eighth grade science in the middle school at Sidwell Friends School. The eighth grade course is a year-long environmental science class taken by all eighth graders. My job is to nurture a love of the world in these youngsters’ hearts and minds—to help them develop a deep appreciation for the complexity and beauty of the world and how it works. I know that most of my students won’t become scientists; I do think that having people in a wide variety of fields who really understand ecological and scientific basics can make a big difference. There are so many careers in which people would be making different decisions if they understood natural laws and processes and how our lives depend on them. I feel phenomenally fortunate to be teaching where I am, and teaching this course in a way that we think really works well. COA: How has COA influenced your work? MP: I loved immersing myself in nature. My love of nature and life
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and how it all fits together is really important to me. The fact that there were no departments at COA is a real strength in not creating divisions between fields. People tend to be more holistic, interdisciplinary thinkers. That had a huge impact—you get steeped into finding connections between different fields and disciplines. It becomes a way of approaching thinking in general, and that’s where we need to be. COA: And has having been taught this way affected you as a teacher? MP: We ask our students to think personally about what they’re learning; we bring in a lot of current issues and want them to understand how these issues relate to their studies, so we go beyond science and get into ethics, poverty, overpopulation—everything from immigration to terrorism to the need for economic help from the United States. There are lots of connections we’re able to make within our course that I think create a much more complex fabric for our students as to how their science fits into the world around them. And it’s hard to think of a field now where there aren’t decisions made that affect the environment, there are so many connections.
COA: It must make a difference that they’re learning about the environment inside a new and impressive platinum-rated LEED building— MP: Yes, and at the end of year, the students will be able to tie almost everything they’ve learned during the year back to lessons from the building. They know that a conscious decision was made about almost every single feature in the building—it comes alive for them. The kids really get that they’re in an extraordinary facility, they’re inspired. COA: Do you also think of yourself as talking to the White House, with the “first children” on campus? MP: I think President Obama is already thinking in terms of sustainability. I’m sure that when the family visited Sidwell, the green building made an impression and it’s hard to believe that our food service didn’t make an impression—we have a fabulous chef who cooks mostly organic food, and the Obamas are a very healthconscious family. Beyond that, it’s been fun, exciting and extremely low-key. The teachers have been very thoughtful in making the experience as normal as possible for everyone.
The Human Ecology Essay Doubt and Enduring By Libby Dean ’89
I first went to Nunatsiavut, the Inuit land claim region of Labrador, as a waste management intern and environmental educator with a small non-governmental organization in the summer of 2000. I learned that there were many health and environment-related concerns that were not being addressed. I returned to university to become better prepared to help Inuit communities communicate with outside institutions. Now, much of my work involves communicating about environmental contaminants, food and health issues with Inuit. Their traditional diet of wild foods exposes them to chemicals from global industrial, agricultural and military activities that end up in the Arctic—and thus in the foodweb at levels that threaten confidence in the safety and even the value of their wild food. Meanwhile, activities related to procuring wild animals, birds, plants and fish—hunting, traveling over land and ice, inter-generational knowledge sharing— are tremendously important to the complex fabric of Inuit life. It is therefore vital that the communication of any information about the risks of contaminant exposure be accurate. Fear and confusion have sometimes resulted in negative diet changes. There are many ways to communicate complex health information poorly, language barriers being just one! Translating abstract concepts such as “invisible” substances and “contaminants” into any of the four regional Inuktitut dialects can vary from translator to translator. Responsible researchers and educators need to evaluate whether people understand what is being said, and what the receivers of this information do (or feel!) in response. I often wonder at the still predominant belief that people and the environment are somehow separate. As young COA students, we discussed human ecology in everything we did; some of us demanded this philosophy be present in the structures around us (physical, academic, political). Inuit have a unique and specialized knowledge of their surroundings, their environment. Much of their knowledge (Inuit
knowledge or Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit—dubbed IQ) is considered to be a sort of folklore and thus (!) considered irrelevant by Western knowledge systems (often called Southern ways of thinking by Inuit). Separation from the environment is one of many impacts of colonization on Inuit—whether by taking children away to distant residential schools or by creating a dependence that encourages Inuit to seek a “better” life away from Inuit Nunaat—Inuit homeland. Well-meaning, educated people have asked me, with no irony: “Why don’t they just move?” or “Why don’t they build a casino?” I have learned not to scream, but I still have trouble finding the right words to explain why. We white settlers in North America have little comprehension of a sense of place that stretches unbroken to a very distant horizon both temporally and spatially. I think of an Inuk I know who has had to live away from his northern home for many years; in his dreams he can still see every rock and hill and stream around his community. Memory in Inuit culture was—and still is—a lifeline, stretching from past generations to present; knowing the lay of the land or the ice ahead determined life or death. Survival means that the memory also survives to be passed on. Death, individually or culturally, utterly ends this memory-line, as surely as slipping into a dark sea under the ice. Even now—or perhaps especially now, as the Arctic faces the rapid effects of climate change—Inuit adaptation and memory means survival. What will remain and what will vanish?
Libby Dean is senior project coordinator in the Department of Environment and Health at Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami www.itk.ca and an MA candidate at the School for Resource and Environmental Studies/Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada. Excerpted, adapted and reprinted with permission from an essay published in The Journals of Knud Rasmussen: A Sense of Memory and High-definition Inuit Storytelling (ed. Gillian Robinson, 2008). Submissions are welcome—send to Donna Gold.
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