COA Volume 6 | Number 1 | Spring 2010
The College of the Atlantic Magazine
COA Mission: 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.
Front Cover "Juevesanto," Juchitán de Zaragoza, Mexico, 2010 by Diana Escobedo Lastiri '09. From the series Holy Week in Juchitán. Back Cover "Shelter," Haiti, 2010 by Emily Troutman '01. Troutman has been writing and photographing in Haiti since shortly after the earthquake. The back cover images come from a series on shelters. Tarps from USAID, she says, are some of the most prevalent forms of sheeting used. But cardboard boxes are also popular, left over from aid distributions. Especially valuable are those with wax coating on one side, making them rain resistant. Other material, aluminum sheeting, wooden sticks and the "fixings" — wire, string, or duct tape to keep things together — are scavenged or even bought, she tells us, as fewer than 10 percent of the 300,000 displaced families who have received a tarp have also received "fixings."
Letter from the Editor
In many ways, the front and back cover photographs of this issue tell the whole COA story. The photos taken by our alumni speak of their passion, joy, and caring for our global society. But underlying that is something more: the discipline to communicate powerful emotions so that this caring and passion can have an impact on the wider world. The front cover is by Diana Escobedo Lastiri '09, who pursued part of her senior project in Juchitán de Zaragoza in 2009, and returned to this southern Mexican town over Easter to thank the people she photographed. This experience launched her into a new photography series, emphasizing connections she forged and strengthened during her second visit. On the back cover are homes. Haitian homes. Emily Troutman '01 took the photos. As we reported in the last issue of COA, Emily was named a Citizen Ambassador by the United Nations. Taking her new role very seriously, she traveled to Haiti to document this hemisphere’s poorest nation. She had just returned to the United States when the earthquake struck. Within a week, Emily was back in Haiti. She has been there for months, applying her acute sense of detail to both her images and her words. Emily Troutman has written some of the most evocative essays about post-earthquake Haiti that I have read. You can find them on AOL.com and on Slate.com, which also features more from Emily’s Haitian habitat series. Passion, caring, those are the raw materials with which every student enters COA, along with a willingness and ability to learn. And in four years (give or take a year or two), through the intense connections that COA fosters — with faculty, with fellow students, with others in the community — and through the necessity for self-reliance implicit in the COA degree, that student blossoms. Our major story features a small fraction of the hundreds of COA alumni and students whose education has positioned them to soar from their COA years into a life of meaning and self-determination.
Donna Gold, COA Editor Photo of Donna in the Historical Hotel Sovietsky in Moscow by Bill Carpenter.
Letter from the President: Complex? Or just complicated?
COA Beat: News from Campus
Notes from Our Watson Fellows Un Mar de Plástico by Michael Keller '09 Honoring a Relationship by Nick Jenei '09 Donor Profile Hank Schmelzer: Strategic Designer By Donna Gold COA's Legacy Students Compiled by Donnie Mullen ('97)
Alice Anderson '12 Colin Capers '95, MPhil '08 Dianne Clendaniel Dru Colbert Dave Feldman Jennifer Hughes Danielle Meier '08 Ross Pike, MPhil '11 Rebecca Hope Woods
Bill Carpenter Jill Barlow-Kelley Dianne Clendaniel
Rebecca Hope Woods
JS McCarthy Printers Augusta, Maine
Entre Comadres Photography spread by Diana Escobedo Lastiri '09
Get in the Car A ten-minute play by Andrea Lepcio '79
by Amanda Witherell '00, Donnie Mullen ('97), and Donna Gold
Volume 6 | Number 1 | Spring 2010
Oral History Gray Cox: First Student
Feverish Dreams Poetry by Jake Wartell '12
The College of the Atlantic Magazine
David Hales President
Kenneth Hill Academic Dean
Sarah Baker Dean of Admission
Sarah Luke Associate Dean of Student Life
Lynn Boulger Dean of Development Ken Cline Associate Dean for Faculty
Sean Todd Associate Dean for Advanced Studies
Andrew Griffiths Administrative Dean BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Ronald E. Beard Secretary
Casey Mallinckrodt Vice Chair
Edward McC. Blair Life Trustee
Suzanne Folds McCullagh
Leslie C. Brewer Treasurer
Sarah A. McDaniel '93 Jay McNally '84
T. A. Cox
Philip S. J. Moriarty
William G. Foulke, Jr. Chairman
Phyllis Anina Moriarty
Amy Yeager Geier
William V. P. Newlin Life Trustee
Self-direction: Craig Kesselheim '76
James M. Gower Life Trustee
Taking human ecology to a higher level: Paul Boothby '88
George B. E. Hambleton
Cathy L. Ramsdell '78 Trustee Emerita
Samuel M. Hamill, Jr. Life Trustee
Addicted to questioning: Jennifer Rock '93
Charles E. Hewett
Endorsing a dream: Beth Nixon '99
John Reeves Life Trustee
Elizabeth D. Hodder Vice Chair
Hamilton Robinson, Jr.
Sherry F. Huber Trustee Emerita
Henry D. Sharpe, Jr. Life Trustee
Community driven: Elsie Flemings '07
John N. Kelly Life Trustee
Clyde E. Shorey, Jr. Life Trustee
No limits: Daniel Mahler '10 and Alicia Hynes '11
Philip B. Kunhardt III '77
William N. Thorndike
James A. Lewicki
Cody van Heerden
Susan Storey Lyman Life Trustee
John Wilmerding Trustee Emeritus
The solidarity of learning: Yaniv Brandvain '04, Nina Therkildsen '05, Santiago Salinas '05, and Kipp Quinby '06
Alumni and Faculty & Community Notes
Henry L.P. Schmelzer
Q&A with Todd West '00
Human Ecology Essay Revisited Human Ecology in My Real World by Jenn Atkinson '03
COA is published twice each year for the College of the Atlantic community. Please send ideas, letters and submissions (we are always looking for short stories, poetry and especially revisits to human ecology essays) to: COA Magazine College of the Atlantic 105 Eden Street, Bar Harbor, ME 04609 firstname.lastname@example.org
Printed on recycled paper with vegetable-based inks on equipment using 100% wind-generated power.
Letter from the President Complex? Or just complicated?
"It's not brain surgery" is one of those phrases that will reverse its meaning in the twenty-first century. It entered vernacular English as a way of saying that something wasn't too hard to do, with "brain surgery" as the symbol of a complicated task. As it turns out, that's all brain surgery is: it's just complicated. It requires highly developed skills and knowledge, but precious little understanding. The phrase will exit our current century carrying the implication, "that's just brain surgery," as opposed to the challenges we face that are truly complex. Complicated tasks are pretty much one-dimensional; they're just problems to be solved. Making and using a GPS, putting a human on Mars, even shutting off the flow of oil from the seabed of the Gulf of Mexico … these are complicated tasks — difficult, certainly, but not complex. Complex tasks are far more problematic and involve multiple dimensions, each involving massive degrees of uncertainty; they are not problems to be solved, but challenges to be resolved. Feeding the hungry, educating billions of children and illiterate adults, aligning our means of production and consumption so that our societies become sustainable, eradicating poverty, controlling the indiscriminate use of violence, these are the fundamental challenges of the twenty-first century. Photo by Donna Gold.
Each of these requires the ability to determine the relevant context of the challenge and an understanding of how those phenomena interact. At College of the Atlantic, we call this pursuit Human Ecology, the study of human behavior as it influences and is influenced by the natural systems of this planet, and the social, cultural, and economic "worlds" created by the behavior of humans. There are those who argue that individual humans have become irrelevant to their own lives, characters in a complex story that the individual cannot comprehend. Higher education — including College of the Atlantic — has the opportunity and responsibility to make sure this doesn't happen. The articles in this issue of COA are about individuals who are shaping their distinctive paths as authors of their own stories. And they are about a small college committed to enabling an educational experience that allows its students to understand the challenges of their lives, and so fashion a future of purpose and choice.
David Hales, President
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Rockefellers Endow Chair, Donate Farms "It is a pleasure to see the growing role and influence COA's programs are having." ~David Rockefeller College of the Atlantic has been delightfully recognized by the Rockefeller family this spring. A gift from philanthropist and conservationist David Rockefeller has established the David Rockefeller Family Chair in Ecosystem Management and Protection. Commented David Rockefeller in offering the endowed chair, "It is a pleasure to see the growing role and influence COA's programs are having." A second gift, of two farms at the junction of the Crooked Road and Norway Drive in Bar Harbor, now known as the Peggy Rockefeller Farms at College of the Atlantic, add new possibilities to the college's Sustainable Food Systems program. Said Rockefeller family member Neva Goodwin, "As a former trustee of College of the Atlantic, I am delighted that my family has chosen to recognize COA's commitment to academic excellence and conservation by asking it to steward these two farms. I am sure my mother would be thrilled to have her caring for these lands continued by COA." David Rockefeller is the son of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who helped create Acadia National Park. David Rockefeller's wife Peggy was a garden devotee. These gifts acknowledge the longstanding connection both the Rockefellers and the college have to the preservation of land and rural life on Mount Desert Island.
policy, are studying contemporary and historical anadromous fish habitat in the park. It is Cline who now holds the Rockefeller chair. A conservation lawyer, he has spent the last twenty years helping students understand policy and law so as to better protect the ecosystem. Cline's extensive conservation experience includes numerous positions in the Sierra Club. He has also worked with local, state, and international conservation organizations to protect ecologically and culturally significant regions, including the conservation of rivers in Maine, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Turkey, and Chile. Students in Cline's classes have also done extensive conservation work. They have developed watershed conservation plans, filed legal documents to protect endangered species, lobbied state and national legislatures, testified at hearings, changed local zoning ordinances, prepared a plan to revitalize a local waterfront, organized local citizens, and routinely worked with local leaders, agencies, and citizens on such issues as protecting Maine's north woods.
Closer to home, students working with COA faculty members Chris Petersen, biology, Todd Little-Siebold, history, and Ken Cline, environmental law and
Photo by Toby Hollis.
Currently, COA students and alumni are involved with numerous park and regional conservation programs, including several studies to determine baseline populations so future changes can be noted. With John Anderson, faculty member in biology, two students have been collecting censuses of winter habitats of snowy owls and loons in and around the park. Similarly, Sarah Colletti '10 working with Stephen Ressel, faculty member in biology, has devoted her senior project to researching the baseline numbers of woodland salamanders. This is especially important given the sensitivity of amphibians to climate and habitat change. Two students are gathering plant data on an offshore island, while others working with Anderson have been funded for a long-term study of the impact of rising sea levels on offshore bird nesting habitats.
Ken Cline, inaugural holder of the David Rockefeller Family Chair in Ecosystem Management and Protection.
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Attracted by the Mission
Molly Anderson, the inaugural holder of the Partridge Chair in Food and Sustainable Agriculture Systems, started teaching in March. She comes to COA with an extensive domestic and international background in food issues, having cofounded and directed the Agriculture, Food and Environment Graduate Degree Program in the School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, directed the Tufts Institute of the Environment, and founded Food Systems Integrity, which works with US and international organizations on agriculture, healthy food access, and food politics. She holds a PhD in ecology from the University of North Carolina and an MS in range science from Colorado State University. "COA is a unique and exciting environment for teaching and exploring the connections among food systems, the natural environment, public health, social structures, and institutions," says Anderson. "No other college or university has demonstrated the same commitment to interdisciplinary collaboration and 'walking the talk' on sustainability. COA strives for real integrity between what it teaches about sustainability and what it does." Catherine Clinger is the inaugural holder of the Allan Stone Chair in the Visual Arts. She has a PhD in art history from the University of London and an MPhil in art history from University College London. A painter and a printer (she was a master printmaker at the Hexenspuk Press and the Dayspring Atelier) as well as
6 | COA
a scholar, she has deep expertise in European and American art from the eighteenth through twentieth centuries and is also schooled in Romanticism and critical theory. Clinger bridges these pursuits to the emerging field of ecological humanities. "When I look at COA's mission statement, which speaks about an ethical dimension of education and the importance of civic engagement in accord with the natural world, I recognize a society of first-rate students and faculty," she says. "I know one has to work hard in such a distinctive place!" Geologist Jaclyn Cockburn is coming to COA in September for a two-year appointment in earth sciences and geology. She holds a PhD from Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada in physical geography, has taught environmental geology, climate dynamics, watershed hydrology, and the evolution of landscapes, and is generally fascinated by how climate and other environmental change impacts hydrological processes. By examining weather patterns and the subsequent hydrological and sedimentological responses, Cockburn has researched trends in major northeastern US watersheds and also has extensive field experience in Alaska and the Canadian arctic. "COA has an outstanding reputation for its commitment to education that aims to change the world. I can't imagine a more exciting place to work and a better group of students and colleagues to engage with. I am thrilled to be a part of this community and contribute to its exceptional reputation."
Photo courtesy of Jaclyn Cockburn.
Photo by Donna Gold.
It's almost dizzying. By next fall, the COA faculty will have four additional faces. Between January and April, COA hired three faculty members: in art, food systems and earth sciences. And last fall, when the college began to look around for a new botanist, Nishanta Rajakaruna '94 decided to return.
Photo courtesy of Catherine Clinger.
COA adding four to faculty
Resolving the Stinking Heaps Nafisa Mohammadi's Project for Peace
Photo by Luke Madden '12.
war, but also the environment in which they live. "In the summer, residents of this area inhale dust mites that cause lung disease and asthma. In the winter, they trudge through human waste, garbage, and mud," she says. Children come to the dump to search for toys and play; others rummage for firewood. Already, the waste has polluted the community's drinking water.
Just days after Nafisa Mohammadi '10 graduates, she'll be headed back home to Kabul, Afghanistan to spend a hot summer on a project that she has chosen, but on which few recent graduates, anywhere, could imagine working. Mohammadi will be cleaning a two-acre waste pool that sits in her family's community. The Kathryn W. Davis Projects for Peace Foundation has given the young woman ten thousand dollars to remove the dump in her neighborhood of Chaharqala-e-Warzirabad, believing that she will not only reduce disease among the sixty or so families that live there, but that she'll inspire others in nearby neighborhoods to make a similar effort. With her family, Mohammadi spent most of her childhood wandering, escaping first the Soviet invasion, then the Afghan civil war and finally the TaliA boy picks through the dump Nafisa ban. In 2003, Mohammadi '10 hopes to clean. Photo when she and courtesy of Nafisa Mohammedi '10. her family settled in Kabul, they were hardly alone. The population of Kabul has nearly quadrupled in the past eight years, exhausting the city's minimal municipal services. And of all Kabul neighborhoods, Chaharqalae-Warzirabad is among the most densely settled, causing Mohammadi's neighbors to fear not only the
And yet, during a recent visit home, Mohammadi noticed change was coming slowly to Kabul. After residents in one neighborhood improved their sewage treatment system, others did the same. "When one community shows a way to live better, others follow," says Mohammadi. "I believe that the spirit of the Chaharqalae-Wazirabad community can make a difference." The Kathryn W. Davis Projects for Peace award was established in 2007, when Kathryn W. Davis turned 100. To celebrate, this longtime philanthropist committed one million dollars to fund a hundred grassroots projects by college students. Says Davis, "My challenge to these young people is to bring about a mindset of preparing for peace instead of preparing for war." Mohammadi's first step when she gets home will be to meet with the community to gather their ideas on how to better manage the waste stream and garbage. She already has support from the women-owned Banu Construction & Transportation Company. With its help, the backing of her family and other community members, and the ability to hire a couple of assistants thanks to the Davis funds, she is confident that the garbage will be removed, waste water pumped out, and sewage streams rerouted to the main sewage canal. Ultimately, Mohammadi will see that the land is sanitized, filling the excavated pond with soil and rocks; she will also establish a garbage system to ensure better future waste management. Perhaps, she says, the community can build a playground where children once rummaged in the filth for toys. And then? Mohammadi is due back in Maine in the fall to take up one of the first positions in the college's Sustainable Ventures Incubator. COA | 7
One College: Six Enterprises The Sustainable Ventures Incubator begins By Donna Gold
From left to right: Noah Hodgetts '10, Jay Friedlander, Nafisa Mohammadi '10, Jordan Motzkin '10, Kate Christian '10, Emily Postman '12 and Kate Macko. Missing from the photo are Jake Weisberg '10 and Joslyn Richardson '12. Photo by Luke Madden '12.
It was hard not to burst with pride — or hold back from writing a check — when in early March, six students who are focused on the college's Sustainable Business Program offered their five-minute business presentations. Each hoped to be one of the select enterprises in the college's brand-new, unique Sustainable Venture Incubator. As far as the college has been able to determine, this is the nation's only sustainable venture program for undergraduate students, shepherding both emerging for-profit and nonprofit entrepreneurs. After hearing all six presentations, I looked at the panel of five judges — three from the college and two from outside — and felt nothing but pity. How could they possibly choose among these fascinating dreams? Turns out they felt the same and decided to admit all six ventures into the incubator. The students, five of whom will graduate this spring, will spend next year building their businesses using campus office space, meeting with local mentors, and attending weekly workshops offering business skills and professional advice. Sustainability will be incorporated into each step. Thanks to grants from the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Development program, the National Science Foundation's EPSCoR program to stimulate competitive research, and COA trustees Jay McNally '84 and Henry Sharpe, there is funding for the program's first year. The for-profit ventures Kate Christian is working on using interviews with women across the globe to assist in policy-making with her venture, Hearing Other Voices. Nafisa Mohammadi's Mending Walls works with traditional craftswomen in Afghanistan to create and import custom embroidered wall hangings for use in home decoration. Jordan Motzkin's Big Box Farms™ uses new technology to raise vegetables in under-utilized spaces, minimizing distribution costs and emissions. Jake Weisberg's Vegmatics brings new automotive fuel technologies to consumers by offering easily installed diesel-to-vegetable oil conversion kits and developing other alternative fuels. The nonprofit ventures Noah Hodgetts' MDI 2030 links local planning efforts of the four communities on Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park so they can plan as one for a sustainable future. Joslyn Richardson '12, Emily Postman '12, and others are working on Share the Harvest, a COA program connected with Beech Hill Farm that provides families relying on food assistance programs the local, organic vegetables traditionally missing from their diet. 8 | COA
Photo courtesy of COA.
COA Beat Among the incubator jurors was Erik Hayward who oversees the Libra Foundation's Libra Future Fund, assisting Maine entrepreneurs under age thirty. He said, "It's great to see the students trying to use a sustainable model, looking to the social change and environmental change that they're excited about." The program is managed by Jay Friedlander, the SharpeMcNally Chair in Green and Socially Responsible Business, and Sustainable Business Program Administrator Kate Macko. "We see this capability as both unique and essential," says Friedlander. "No other liberal arts undergraduate business program offers this resource; and we regard it as key to fostering the transition from graduating student to functional entrepreneur. The students are using the incubator and their values to build stronger enterprises that have positive social, environmental, and financial footprints."
Practical Renewables NASA grant helps COA with renewable energy in class and offshore Concerned about leaving your cell phone charger plugged in for a day? It's not the best thing to do â€” but it's just about the equivalent, in terms of energy use, of driving a car for ten seconds. Yes, seconds. And if you drive your car as much as sixty miles a day, even if it has decent gas mileage, that uses as much energy as having eighty 40-watt light bulbs burning around the clock. Just two intercontinental flights use roughly the same energy per person as leaving a toaster on day and night for an entire year.
ized version of sustainability and really puts it into perspective. Sure, we can say we're being green but what does that actually mean and how can we quantify energy consumption to make smart choices? As a class we have made generators, mini wind turbines, and now we are converting chest freezers into energyefficient chest refrigerators â€” and we're also learning how to assess different modes of transportation and alternative energy. We are using real numbers instead of 'a lot' or 'a significant amount,' but at the same time we are also learning how to round numbers and get rough estimates that will serve our purpose without having to be so exact that the calculations cannot be applied to the big picture."
These are just some of the calculations that COA students are learning thanks to a $100,000 grant over two years from NASA by way of the Maine Space Grant Consor"I am loving this class because it tium. The effort, led by The research portion takes the very abstract and almost of the grant is focused David Feldman, faculty member in physics glamorized version of sustainability on Demeo's efforts and mathematics, and to design a scalable and really puts it into perspective." Anna Demeo, lecturer smart grid for Maine's in physics and engi~ Brianna Larson '11 outer islands, optimizneering, combines ing their use of wind energy research with power. This smart funding for the development and implementation grid will automatically direct excess power to where of a new interdisciplinary course, The Physics and it can be used. For intermittent energy sources such Mathematics of Sustainable Energy. This class offers as wind, solar, and tidal power to work together to a scientific and economic introduction to evaluating produce a steady electricity supply, smart grids are various alternative energy technologies. In it, stuessential, says Feldman. Such a grid can also be used dents are learning to calculate the dollar cost, carbon in a hybrid system, such as one generating electricreduction, return on investment, and payback time of ity from wind or fossil fuel, so communities can ease different forms of alternative energy or conservation into the purchase of renewables. measures. They also learn the basic physics behind key forms of energy generation and consumption. Adds Feldman, "We need a smarter grid to make all these systems work, and we need a lot of people reSays Brianna Larson '11, "I am loving this class besearching ways to make grids smarter. Demeo's recause it takes the very abstract and almost glamorsearch is part of this broader effort."
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Thinking Globally, Acting Globally COA's International Environmental Diplomacy receives national honor mental Politics, Cline and Stabinsky train students to carefully read, understand, and analyze detailed treaty texts. "There's a lot going on at these meetings," says Stabinsky, "I want our students not to be glazed over by the experience."
Students at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen last November feel the weight of the earth on their shoulders. From left: Noah Hodgetts '10, Geena Berry '10, Lisa Bjerke '13, Jane Nurse '13, Taj Schottland '10. Photos courtesy of COA.
With more than 15 percent of students coming from outside the United States, COA has one of the highest ratios of international students of any liberal arts college in the nation. International education is so integrated into the curriculum, both on campus and off, says Ken Cline, that "some might even argue that at COA, every student is an international student." In our increasingly globalized world, adds Cline, faculty member in law and environmental policy, "decisions made internationally affect every aspect of our lives." Often, it is not possible to resolve local issues only by thinking globally and acting locally. Local issues are frequently global and need to be resolved at a global level. While local work remains essential, he says, we also need to "think globally, act globally." Cline and Doreen Stabinsky, faculty member in global environmental politics, have been actively preparing students to attend international meetings since the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa. COA's international environmental diplomacy focus has intensified with student concern over the annual negotiations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. To become globally aware and politically savvy, students have spent entire terms studying international law and policy in advance of negotiations. In classes like The Road to Copenhagen, Advanced International Environmental Law Seminar, and Global Environ10 | COA
In March, this work helped to win COA major recognition from the world's largest nonprofit professional association dedicated to international education, NAFSA: Association of International Educators. COA received the organization's 2010 Paul Simon Spotlight Award for its work in international environmental diplomacy.
"The traditional academic response to student concern about global politics is to study and wait until you finish graduate school before you can really do anything about it," says Cline. "The impetus behind this program is that faculty working with globally aware and experienced students can prepare them to effectively participate in international environmental negotiations as undergraduates." Students are so well versed in diplomatic skills that they frequently take on youth leadership positions at the meetings. During her time at COA, one student helped to establish an organiNeil Oculi '11 served on his zation encouraging nation's UNFCCC delegation. more youth to attend negotiations â€” thereby fostering additional environmental work across the globe. Last December, of the twenty-two students and recent alumni who attended the UNFCCC in Copenhagen, one COA student and one recent alumnus were engaged in the deliberations as part of official national delegations. Another student was chosen to give the culminating Youth Statement to the convention delegates. Still another student served as a reporter for his home country. Meanwhile two COA students spent many months raising funds to ensure participation by more youths from Latin America, successfully sending ten youths to the meetings.
Learning from Don Juan
By Todd Little-Siebold, faculty member in history When I met him I knew that Don Juan Witzil Cima was extraordinary, I just did not know how extraordinary. I had come to southern Quintana Roo with my wife Christa and our young children to set up this year's program in Mexico's Yucatan peninsula, and I had been invited to a house blessing of a friend and colleague, Francisco Rosado May. I have known Francisco for years; his new role as rector of the local Intercultural Maya University of Quintana Roo had been one of the reasons we decided to place our students in the communities of this region.
Don Juan shows Todd Little-Siebold his black-blue corn. Photo courtesy of Todd Little-Siebold.
The blessing, known as a Hetz Luum, is a traditional Maya ceremony asking the due単o, or spirits of the land, to allow you to occupy it. As Francisco was finishing his house, he asked Don Juan to ask the due単o to allow him to live there peacefully. The ceremony was an all-day affair involving special sacred tortillas prepared by the men, baked in the ground, and then offered to the spirits. After the spirits consumed the gracia, or essence of the food, we all ate. Watching Don Juan's careful attention to the food, the candles, and the ceremony, I knew he was someone who was a keeper of much knowledge. His thoughtful answers to my questions convinced me he was also an amazing communicator and storyteller. He obviously loved sharing what he knew. Don Juan is a h'men, a Maya healer and a traditional judge. He is also an innovative and successful milpero, a farmer. Three of our students in the Yucatan program worked with Don Juan directly on these aspects of his life and world. Angelica Ullauri '12 lived with his family and learned about Maya cosmology. Don Juan's explanations, especially his stories of the end of the world, led her to a naunced understanding of the simultaneously ancient and contemporary worldview of Maya spirtual leaders. Lamira Alisalem '12 focused on Don Juan's role as a juez tradicional, a traditional judge who metes out local justice in a recent effort by the government to recognize and empower Maya leaders. Don Juan told her that the new judicial reforms were good, but frustrating. Though a local leader charged with serving as a sort of justice of the peace without training, his authority is sharply circumscribed, and he finds it hard to impose fines in a community where people have very little. Instead, he makes them sweep the plaza in the hopes they will feel remorse. Don Juan also shared his knowledge of the milpa with Juan Olmedo '12, patiently explaining why he plants ibes, maiz, frijol, camote, calabaza, rosa de jamaica, the different types of corn, beans, squashes, and succulent hibiscus with which he designs his fields and provisions his family. He proudly showed us all his black-blue corn and delighted in such evocative names as little red dove-colored beans. Don Juan is a farmer, counselor, judge, healer, basket maker, father, teacher, guide, knowledge keeper, and so much more. Our world is enriched by knowing that people like Don Juan are here with us and we are blessed by his feeding of the gods on our behalf.
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Earth Day 2010
Photos by Urs Riggenbach '12.
Photo by Luke Madden '12.
As in recent years, College of the Atlantic commemorated Earth Day with a festival on campus, inviting people from around the state to learn more sustainable ways of living while having a great time. The keynote address was given by Molly Anderson, the inaugural holder of the Partridge Chair in Food and Sustainable Agriculture Systems. This year's highlight was the introduction of a ritual borrowed from Holi, the Hindi festival of spring, in which people throw bright-colored, cornstarch-based powder in the air and at each other. Holi participants below from left: Anna Cherubino '11, Heather Wight '12 and Mariana Calderon '13.
Congratulations COA students! This year, two COA students have received remarkable national endorsements, reflecting upon the character of COA students and the caliber of their work.
Lauren Nutter '10.
Photo by Rogier van Bakel.
Lauren Nutter '10 received a coveted Watson Fellowship. The fellowship, from the Watson Foundation, offers forty students studying in select colleges from around the nation funding for a year of travel on a project of their choosing. Nutter will travel to Turkey, Mexico, India, Maldives, and the Netherlands to learn more about youth empowerment on her journey: "Voices for the Future: Youth, Passion, and Sustainable Change." She writes, "By focusing on how major international events or significant national initiatives impact youth locally, I will gain an understanding of the catalysts, sustained models, and successful approaches for youth participation in protecting the environment."
Each year, too, the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation offers scholarships to exceptional second- and third-year college students planning careers in science and math. The scholarships are based on academic merit. This year, Kaija Klauder '11 is a Goldwater scholar. Her interests lie in the behavior of carnivores and the relationships between predators and prey, with an eye to the creation of more comprehensive and effective wildlife management plans. In addition to biology, ecology, and public policy, Klauder has been studying literature, partly because she recognizes that writing is essential to successful management planning, but also because, she says, "I've chosen to pursue all of my passions â€” that's why I came to COA." 12 | COA
Kaija Klauder '11.
Photo courtesy of COA.
Notes from a Watson Fellow: Mapping Asylum in Fortress Europe Un Mar de Plástico by Michael Keller '09
amidou and I travel past a plastic-covered landscape that hides rows of strawberry plants, a scene that the Spanish refer to as un mar de plástico, a sea of plastic. Hamidou, a slim, fit, twenty-three-year-old man born in Senegal, moves about Spain looking for work, first picking pears near Barcelona and now hoping to pick strawberries in Moguer, Huelva. Hamidou has lived in Spain for over a year — having taken a dangerous boat ride from coastal Mauritania to the Canary Islands. Because of Spanish law, he, like many other migrants, has no chance of living a legal, regular life until he has lived in the country for three years. This is not Hamidou's first stay in Spain; he made the risky trip in 2007 but was deported to Mauritania. In 2009 he tried again and says, "This time I have been more lucky." Having been transferred from a detainment center in the Canary Islands to a Red Cross center for immigrants in Madrid, his search for temporary work has led him to yet another center in Sevilla. Spain winks and nods at irregular migrants, acknowledging their presence, but forcing them to live below the radar — in a situation of vulnerability and social isolation. They exist as second-class citizens for three years as they search tirelessly for jobs simply to survive, and perhaps earn a little extra to send home to their families. The atmosphere of exclusion results in the cheap labor that allows for the inexpensive yearround Spanish fruits and vegetables found in grocery stores. When Hamidou and I arrive at Moguer's main plaza, immigrants from Romania, Poland, and at least a dozen African countries sit on walls and benches waiting for the strawberry picking to begin. This year's harvest Moussa (left), from the Ivory Coast, and Hamidou, of Senegal, rest and share a laugh is late because of Spain's unusually after a pickup fútbol match for the residents of the Centro de Acogida, Sevilla, Spain. dark, cold winter. Hamidou meets with a farm owner and agrees to return with a friend's residence documents to qualify for work. The owner will rent him a bed in a shared, cramped flat with thirteen beds — each costing €140 a month. Hamidou tells me he can live frugally, making €36 a day, and send money to his wife in Guinea. But when we return on a rainy day, the boss says there is no work, to come back another week. Hamidou gives him a sad look while simultaneously not looking him in the eyes, and bows his head; the Stuart Little mouse on his yellow cap hides his face.
am observing firsthand in Spain, as in the United States, that the same government and economic structures that contribute to dislocation also encourage the dislocated to fill low-wage, vulnerable jobs. Hamidou and the various immigrants I work with and befriend are indicators of the health of our current, interconnected, global economic system. Moving about Spain, I meet displaced peoples from Mauritania, Morocco, Senegal, Western Sahara, Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru, but my home base is the Centro de Acogida in Sevilla where I met Hamidou and other migrants and failed asylum seekers. Facing a towering fortress Europe, most African immigrants say they intend to stay only long enough to receive a residence permit allowing them to travel more freely between their home countries and Spain, as well as proCOA | 13
viding a legal way to seek jobs in other European Union nations and to make money to send back home. In 2008, Spain granted asylum to only 151 people out of 4,517 seekers. Driving back to Sevilla, Hamidou waves to African tissue vendors who purchase economy-size packages of tissues that they divide into small personal-size packs for sale. These men also had risked dangerous sea journeys and now struggle economically by selling disposable tissues from a highway median to motorists.
hen I was growing up, the only time I heard the word asylum was in the context of mental illness; the term seemed antiquated. As I grew older, I heard this word less often until the late 1990s when the International Rescue A plastic-covered agricultural landscape that stretches throughout the Committee opened a chapter in my hometown to Spanish province of Huelva, known for its strawberries, where many migrants go to harvest. resettle refugees seeking asylum, and I became friends with refugees in school, on soccer teams, and in the community. By then, I viewed asylum as a productive process: refugee families found jobs, rented and bought nice homes, achieved high English proficiency, started new businesses, sent their children to public schools and then on to Virginia's public universities. Asylum seemed a new start, a way to escape persecuted and dangerous lives. Before departing on this Watson journey, I was primarily interested in how communities welcomed refugees and migrants, but every day I confront a universal truth of migration: no one wants to feel forced to leave their homes. Many would like to return home, but are ashamed that they have been "defeated" by the expensive journeys of migration that also have cost them years when they could have advanced in an occupation or enjoyed family life.
have only been in Spain since the first day of 2010, having spent the early winter months in Sweden and Denmark. While living in Denmark, I forgot sometimes that there even was a sky: instead, shades of grays and blues blend into each other â€” asphalt, ocean, lakes, bicycle paths, concrete buildings, wind turbines, sand dunes all smudging together. To most of the Danes and Swedes I met, newly arriving asylum seekers were hidden away, like their sky. In Denmark, unlike Spain, it is rare to find undocumented migrants living in society. Denmark's asylum seekers or irregular migrants generally live in small-town centers waiting to receive asylum and resettlement, or to be deported. An appeal of an unsuccessful case could take as long as fifteen years.
To visit to Samir in Denmark's Sigerslev asylum center, I need to travel on a Red Cross bus. I am going there for a party to celebrate an Afghan man's recently granted positive asylum status. When I arrive in the nearest town, Samir is waiting for me. We hug and shake hands. Using body language learned from Afghans, I put my hand on my chest and bow my head slightly, thanking him for inviting me. He talks with me in his best American (southern) accent that he learned while working on USAID projects with US officials and the military. His shiny black hair
Zandahar (left) and Zubair, asylum seekers from Afghanistan, awake in the Sigerslev asylum center in Denmark where both have been waiting for their asylum decisions for over a year. Some asylum seekers have been waiting for over twelve years.
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always looks wet and his face is constantly speckled with the same density of stubble. His static features seem sadly fitting for his static immigration status: four months in Copenhagen waiting for an initial interview; he is in Phase II. The scale of migration from Iraq and Afghanistan amazes me: Afghan and Iraqi refugees account for half of all refugees under the responsibility of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. One out of four refugees in the world is from Afghanistan. A small percentage of the refugees from societies spun into constant fear of local or international military forces make it to Europe, each paying human smugglers at least $15,000 to arrange for transport to European Union countries. Heshmat, from Afghanistan, on the train into Copenhagen, is reflective
and pensive as he discusses what receiving asylum status means to him. My interpretation of asylum is changing. I see "progressive, developed" nations implementing policies and procedures to isolate asylum seekers. I observe substance abuse and emerging mental illnesses that exacerbate the almost universal identity questions associated with migration. I detect that space for the displaced is delineated and deliberate. Denmark places asylum seekers in centers far from its main cities, often in old psychiatric hospitals or military bases, always with a buffer between refugees and towns â€” it may be a forest or agricultural land. Often the asylum seekers are allowed to come and go on their own, but the remote locations of the centers may require taking several buses and trains to reach a city.
On the crowded Red Cross bus taking us to the Sigerslev asylum center, guys from Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Iran, Eritrea talk loudly and thrust arms in the air as they speak. They all want to know what I am doing, asking, "Are you a photojournalist?" At the center, Samir and I walk through a gate to enter the compound where a Red Cross flag droops from a tall, metal pole. We pass rows of brick buildings in a tree-dotted courtyard to the last building where Samir resides. Through glass windows and doors many residents stare, trying to figure out who I am. Inside, Samir introduces me to his roommate Kandahari whose black irises swim in constant tears. He is called Kandahari because he is the only one in the center from Kandahar. He receives a call on his cell phone. Afterwards, Samir knows the look on his roommate's face and asks, "What's up?" Kandahari whispers something, then throws his head in his hands. When he lifts his head, his eyes are red and glassy. Later he has horrible dreams and shouts and gasps and thrusts in bed until morning. The floor lamp covered with a red cloth beams a soft glow in the corner of the room, but it is not enough to calm the memories and images that haunt him. That night, men dance and play pool, laughing as I clumsily handle the cue. By three or four in the morning, I fall asleep on the bed of a guy who stays with a sister in Copenhagen. Waking the next day, I hear Kandahari boiling water to make me a cup of instant coffee to go along with a delicious mixture of finely crushed nuts, fruits, cinnamon, and sugar. "This is good morning food for the brain, makes you ready to start day," a friend comments. On the train back to Copenhagen the day after the party, Heshmat, the man who received his positive asylum status, reflected on what his new status would require: "We all have three personalities: the personality we think we have, the personality we'd like to have, and the personality we think society demands from us. Now, I'm trying to work with these three." Michael Keller '09. Photos by Michael Keller. COA | 15
Notes from a Watson Fellow: Journey into Sustainable Entrepreneurship Honoring a Relationship by Nick Jenei '09 It is late November. I have joined a long line of pilgrims, porters, and yaks trudging through a deep river gorge in western Tibet. Sheer granite cliffs of Mt. Kailash fly high above us — a Himalayan cathedral. As I slowly move through the blue Tibetan atmosphere I have ample time to reflect on a journey that has brought me thousands of miles through the manic metropolises of coastal China to the high deserts and jagged massifs of the Himalayas. Funded by the Thomas J. Watson Foundation, I have been exploring sustainable business in China and India, the nebulous pivot point on which the demands of the environment and capitalism are precipitously balanced; and I have specifically come to China to get a glimpse of the future. Why then, am I in Tibet? It's a reasonable question. All I know is that after four months traveling through some of the largest cities in the world, I have gotten the glimpse of the future I was looking for — and it does not leave me feeling hopeful. Three decades of uncontrolled growth are impacting every aspect of our world; sustainable business is no exception. China is positioned to become the world's largest producer of wind turbines and photovoltaics, as well as the market leader in pure electric vehicles. This trend will only continue and spread into other sectors; the national government has recognized the massive global demand for green technologies and has created the perfect economic environment for Chinese companies to become the global leaders in the field. But as I traveled around China and experienced the profound environmental degradation caused by the unprecedented economic rise of 1.3 billion people, I became concerned that China's path towards sustainability — one that the entire world may one day tread — is a futile one. From my perspective, the solutions being created by China do not at all address the dire problems our species has created. Revolutionary ideas are going to be needed to stop the damage, not new technologies or marketing schemes. But the solutions China is offering are market-based notions that fall very neatly into the standard model of modern capitalism — they reinforce our destructive culture of consumerism and materialism. And because these solutions are going to be inexpensive, plentiful, and very profitable, truly innovative economic models will never be successful — the market will make sure of that. Yes, China is taking steps towards green tech and sustainability, but it is "too little, too late," and I fear that the world will follow China's lead, not because it is the right thing to do but because it is the cheapest thing to do. To process these intense experiences, I have come to where I usually go for solace and peace — the mountains. A four-day jeep journey from Lhasa, over some of the most rugged roads Tibet has to offer, has brought me to the base of Mt. Kailash, the most sacred mountain in the Himalayas. Early the next morning, after an energy- (and fat-) laden predawn breakfast of roasted barley porridge and yak butter tea, we start our three-day trek around the great mountain. Every so often, when the angle is just so, Kailash appears, an intense stream of snow blowing from its windswept summit like a daytime lighthouse. I am told that the second day will be the hardest but the most rewarding: climbing an eighteen-thousand-foot pass, only three thousand vertical feet shy of the summit itself. I sleep well in the shadow of the mountain and start the arduous push up the pass well before sunrise with Venus shining in the golden light of the eastern sky. I have been hiking alone for hours when my guide Jam Yang, a native Tibetan and former Buddhist monk, joins me on the trail. Since I don't have the physical ability to simultaneously walk and talk at that altitude, I am eager to stop and chat while catching up on my oxygen. I am also interested in learning more about the significance of the Kora (the Tibetan word for a religious circumambulation) and ask Jam Yang if he can tell me more about why Tibetans walk around mountains. His answer is one of the most profound yet simple insights into the crisis facing humanity I have ever heard articulated: "The Kora is a way of honoring a relationship, honoring our relationship with the mountain." 16 | COA
Honoring a relationship. These three words not only hold the key to understanding the tension between humans and the environment, they also illuminate a clear path toward a more harmonious relationship with our world. "The pilgrims on this mountain understand the infinitely complex relationships that sustain them," continues Jam Yang. "They understand their place in the greater system; they understand their relationship to Kailash." Because of their sensitivity to this symbiosis, these pilgrims are not trying to conquer the mountain, they are not trying to conquer the environment — they are trying to honor a relationship. We stare at the mountain for a few more minutes and then make the thirty-minute climb to the top in silence, a rainbow of flying prayer flags greeting us as we crest the pass. Honoring a relationship. Is it as simple as that? Is the solution to humanity's crisis as simple as honoring the very relationship that sustains all life on earth? I believe it is. And not only is it that simple, but without this essential first step, I believe all other actions will ultimately be futile. China presented me with two very different solutions to humanity's crisis — a traditional, market-based approach and a renewal of humanity's relationship with the world — but my travels over the past seven months in China and India have made it very clear that only one of these is appropriate if our species is to survive the coming decades. Creating a new, innovative economy will be an essential step for our society to live in balance with our environment, but it is not the first step. The directions that globalization and development are taking us cannot be sustained by our environment; ultimately it is jeopardizing our own species. To survive, we must undergo a cultural shift. We must recognize and honor the relationships that sustain us. Humanity does not lack the intelligence or means to live sustainably — what we lack is perspective. We don't perceive the vast web of life-sustaining relationships that we fundamentally rely on; because we lack this crucial perspective, we see no harm in pillaging and destroying our planet. But if we recognize these relationships and honor them, the society we could then build would be fundamentally different — and fundamentally sustainable.
Nick Jenei '09 at Mt. Kailash in Western Tibet. Photos by Nick Jenei.
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Hank Schmelzer: Strategic Designer By Donna Gold
Hank Schmelzer with his friend Rudolfo while in Italy.
From his sitting room in Somesville, Maine, Henry "Hank" Schmelzer looks over the lovely wooden bridge spanning a local mill stream; he also sees out to Somes Sound and beyond to the mountains of Acadia National Park. These two perspectives — the long and the close — are basic to Schmelzer's perceptions and clearly resonate with his recent involvement with the college he calls "so topical, with such a strong message." A trustee since 2008, Schmelzer is deeply impressed by College of the Atlantic's students. "Their courage and ambition and idealism are awe-inspiring," he says.
Photo courtesy of Hank Schmelzer.
To help these students get the best possible education, Schmelzer has jumped into co-chairing the college's current strategic design plan with COA President David Hales. That's the long view, exploring where COA hopes to be in the year 2017. But Schmelzer's connections are also immediate. He served as a judge in the Sustainable Venture Incubator, and he and his wife, Cynthia Livingston, have been the host family of Nafisa Mohammadi '10. Schmelzer comes to his interest in the long view from an extensive career in the financial industry, and perhaps too, because almost inadvertently, his life has modeled such planning. Though he was raised in apple orchard country in central Massachusetts, Schmelzer's mother grew up in Bangor. Come summer, the family would camp at Seawall in Acadia National Park. After attending the University of Maine, he went on to law school at George Washington University, thinking he'd go into public service. But after serving in the Vietnam War he got sidetracked and for nearly thirty years Schmelzer excelled in Boston's financial service industry. At age fifty-five, as president and CEO of the mutual fund group New England Funds, he looked again at his personal strategic plan and decided he had a good ten years remaining to devote to public service. In 2000, Schmelzer moved to Maine as president of the Maine Community Foundation, the statewide philanthropic organization that was started by COA's founding president Ed Kaelber. Schmelzer had already become enchanted by COA when, in 2006, he 18 | COA
received an honorary COA degree. "One thing led to another," he says, "I got more and more interested in what the college is doing: the mission is in the right place and it's the right time for what's happening in the world." Even before retiring from the foundation, Schmelzer became a COA trustee. Creating strategic plans is a natural for Schmelzer. At the Maine Community Foundation he oversaw three such plans in nine years. "I enjoy this work," he says. "It enables everyone to have an understanding of where you want to go, but one has to be careful that it's used to enhance the day-to-day functioning of an organization," and that all constituents participate. At COA, the draft plan is still under extensive review in advance of upcoming deadlines. Schmelzer talks about including statements that support COA's values of sustainability, service, idealism, transparency, diversity, honesty, and integrity in all relationships. Others are focused on specific proposed objectives and actions. The process continues. This inclusivity — a living manifestation of human ecology — is part of what makes the college so appealing to Schmelzer. He is intrigued to find an entire school devoted to "finding ways that people can live together in the environment and their communities, to be constructive rather than destructive to those relations." He sees COA as performing an essential role as it becomes "more widely recognized as a model of the way to provide healthy, sustainable communities committed to service, whether the communities be on MDI or throughout the world."
Creating a New Generation of Stories: coa's legacy students
Compiled by Donnie Mullen ('97)
COA has finally come of age. Those first courageous and sometimes wild COA students are now parents with college-age children of their own, children who are also choosing COA. With nine current legacy students, we decided to talk to them about why they came — and glean a few of their parents' early stories as well. ~ DG Student: Will Ginn Pownal, Maine Visiting Student Memorable COA story? COA was always in the household as a name bouncing around … there's this little place on campus called Ginn's Folly which is what my father, back in the day, tried to make into a sauna in the winter. It was so uninsulated that it could not get above 80 degrees, which was not quite sauna-ish enough for his purposes. Why did you choose COA? I actually met a few of the students at the Common Ground Fair. I spoke with them and every one of them was great. That was a large part of my decision. What's most unusual about COA? I would say the level of engagement of the students is really astounding. I've been to schools where you take the class and do what you're expected to do, but if COA students are really interested in something they go a step further. They're really out for their own learning. Alumni: Bill Ginn '74 and June Lacombe ('75) How does it feel to have Will at COA? It's been great to get reconnected with COA through our son and also reassuring that the quality of education remains high even though COA is ten times bigger than when I was a student. It's clear it's still a stimulating place — and may in fact be a richer community because the diversity is much greater than when I was at COA. ~Bill Ginn Student: Kaija Klauder '11 Palmer, Alaska Memorable COA story? One of the more memorable stories was my father's OOPs trip (though I don't think they called it that then) which was a canoe trip led by Steve Katona, a.k.a. Captain K. They had all spent a miserable cold day paddling, and when they got to camp, with the rain coming in sideways, most people just crawled under the overturned boats and fell asleep, but a few — my dad and Steve included — sat around in a huddle, ravenously eating white
bread (it was on top of the wannagins) and passing around a bottle of rum. Years later when my dad and I came to visit COA, he bought a bottle of rum, put it in a paper bag, wrote on the bag "To Captain K, from Mr. K," and had it sent up to Steve's office while we waited downstairs. I was half-certain that we were about to get kicked off campus, thus ruining my chances of ever attending, when a voice drifted down from above: "Josh Klauder? Is that you?" Why did you choose COA? In high school I attended Chewonki Semester School in Wiscasset, Maine. For the first time I truly experienced a community of people enthusiastic about learning and committed to living with intention. I was also taken with the weathered beauty of the rocky coast and the culture of New England. COA was the logical choice. What are you working on? Synthesizing my passions for science, the out-ofdoors, and the power and beauty of words by developing my skills in animal behavior, wildlife biology, poetry, and literature. A highlight? Freshman year, a friend came up and asked if I knew how to skin a raccoon. I said that I had never done so but I would be willing to try, as it probably wouldn't be so different from the cat in my high school anatomy class. Turned out there was a dead raccoon by the parking lot. There we were, skinning this raccoon by headlamp in a growing puddle of blood when headlights suddenly spotlighted us. Next thing we knew, David Hales walked up to us and said "Hi, what are you guys doing?" "Skinning this raccoon," we responded, nervously — boy, am I good at looking weird in front of college presidents, I thought, standing there with my gory knife in hand. "Neat," he said. "Should you guys be worried about rabies?" "It's not really the season for it," we answered. "Great, have fun!" he replied. And walked away. Alum: Josh Klauder ('77) How does it feel to have Kaija at COA? I'm envious. If I could just come up with a reason why I need a master's degree... COA | 19
From left to right: Heather Wight '12, Lilly Demers '12, Terra van de Sande '13, Henry Owen '14, Becca Hamilton '14, Philip Kunhardt '11, Will Ginn, Kaija Klauder '11. Missing from the photo and interviews: Lilly Allgood '11, daughter of Abby Goodyear '81; missing from the interviews: Terra van de Sande '13, daughter of Jacob van de Sande '95. Photos by Devin Altobello '13.
Student: Philip Bradish Kunhardt IV '11 Waccabuc, New York
Student: Lilly Demers '12 Bar Harbor, Maine
Why did you choose COA? Spending summers here was probably the biggest reason — when I came up for Fall Fly-In, I got to see a different angle and I wanted more. I wanted to be up here all year round.
Why did you choose COA? The environmental focus, commitment to sustainability, beautiful location and small community feel.
What are you working on? I'm writing a novel about a summer cottager family in Bar Harbor during the waning days of the High Society. I'm also deeply into anthropological studies and music, as well as fisheries sciences.
What are you working on? Self-exploration. Organic gardening and garden design. Ornithological adventures.
What's most unusual about COA? The dispersion and fusion of ideas playing off each other in Take-A-Break. While everybody may be studying very different fields, each of our studies can intersect with each other and lead to a larger picture that only comes from human interaction. The discourse is really special to me. A highlight? Spending one-and-a-half to two hours a week in a one-on-one session with Bill Carpenter delving into Jungian psychology … my best paper grew out of it. Alum: Philip Bradish Kunhardt III '77 How has COA influenced Philip? COA has intensified Philip's involvement with his education. He has become exactly the kind of passionate, engaged learner which is my ideal for a student. 20 | COA
What's most unusual about COA? The sense of community and inclusivity of students with academic affairs and all other aspects of school planning and development. How has COA changed since your dad's day? It seems like back in my father's day COA was much wilder … but the commitment to openness, free thinking and self-exploration are all still here. Along with the beautiful campus! Alum: Steve Demers '80 How does it feel to have Lilly at COA? As great as COA was when I attended from 1978– 1980, clearly it has continued to stay far ahead of the curve with regards to studies of the things that really matter in life and career enrichment. The stories I've told Lilly over the years of April Fools' Day pranks and dances at the Turrets, and great Take-A-Break kitchen delights take on new meaning as her own COA experiences create memories to share with her children as well as her parents.
How has COA influenced Lilly? She is like a kid in a candy store, excited about the course offerings, eager to engage with her fellow students and professors. But mostly, she is happy, open to the diversity that is COA learning. Student: Heather Wight '12 Wendell, Massachusetts Memorable COA story? For his senior project, my dad set up beehives for the college, so the honey served in the dining hall would be local. Unfortunately, the fire happened the summer after he graduated, so his project was destroyed along with all his other work that was stored on campus. It makes me sad that I will never be able to see the work that he did here. Why did you choose COA? I was initially attracted to its focus on the environment and its small community. Once I visited, I fell in love with the ocean and the students who were incredibly motivated and independent compared to high school students. I knew that this was the college for me. Highlight? Last spring, almost every day was an amazing experience. I'd wake up to the smell and sound of the ocean, bird watch in the early morning, eat yummy Beech Hill Farm greens at lunch, write letters to the editor about creating climate policy in the noon sun, transplant seedlings in the late afternoon, talk with friends about the wonders of the world at dusk and dance late into the night. How has COA changed since your father's day? COA has changed a lot since the early eighties. Turrets was once used for student housing and dance parties were held in the mirrored room downstairs, before chalkboards were put up over the mirrors. There used to be a sauna next to the ocean. But I think the same sorts of people are attracted to this place and our interests are similar to previous generations. Alum: Erik Wight '83 How does it feel to have Heather at COA? It feels great, nice to realize you've raised someone who cares about our fragile world and is willing to study at such a unique school. Student: Henry Owen '14 Blue Hill, Maine Memorable COA story? The impression of COA that my parents gave me was unique. For instance, the woman who would knit during ACM — click click click click — and whenever things got heated the clicking would get faster and faster.
Why did you choose COA? I came to COA because I knew that it wouldn't be just "a system" and that going to school would be unique. A highlight? I'd say hackysacking (is that a word?) outside TAB. Gotta love it. How has COA changed since your parents' day? Things are generally fixed up more, or so it seems from their impressions being on campus, the faculty is older, obviously, but I can't think of too many other things (which is good). Alumni: Cara Guerrieri '83 and Francis Owen '83 How has COA influenced Henry? We get the feeling that Henry has taken charge of his own education in new ways, that he is a more active learner, and understands more fully that education can be about inspirational learning and self improvement, not just about getting a degree. Student: Rebecca Hamilton '14 Whitefield, Maine Memorable COA story? My dad used to tell me the story of his friend who decided to sleep on a different surface every night for a term. She slept on top of picnic tables, in the woods, in Turrets. There was also the story about the student who decided to live solely off of grass clippings for a term. Why did you choose COA? I fell in love with the community. Every person was so motivated, I felt like I had come home. What's most unusual about COA? The diversity of the students. I have friends who are from all over the world, friends who are passionate about marine biology, literature, music, politics, herpetology, education. What brings us together is the desire to study our passions and to create a better world through our individual talents. A highlight? There was a meteor shower this fall and I set my alarm for three a.m. As my friends and I walked across the front lawn, the campus was alive. People were lying on blankets, sitting on the pier … I felt a strong sense of community as we all witnessed this wonderful natural show. Alum: Chris Hamilton '85 How does it feel to have Rebecca at COA? Becca really enjoys the international students — that was largely what attracted her to the school. We try not to discuss that I went to COA — it is her experience now and I am glad she is enjoying it. COA | 21
Gray Cox, First Student
"I got up every morning thinking I am so lucky to be here."
The first classes held at COA were in the summer of 1971, when Ed Kaelber, founding COA president, invited a range of students to experiment with some of the ideas that would ultimately be integral to a COA education. Among the thirteen students that summer was Gray Cox, 18, just married, and a rising sophomore at Wesleyan University in Connecticut who would later become a COA faculty member in political economy. This excerpt from a longer conversation is part of COA's ongoing oral history of the college. ~DG Donna Gold: How did you first hear about COA? Gray Cox: I may have heard something about it through the discussions in the community but it didn't really register for me until Katie Good, who was in drama with me at MDI High School, invited me to come to her house one evening. Her father, [early trustee] John Good, had been talking with Ed Kaelber about starting the college and Ed wanted to talk with some high school kids on the island to see what their thoughts were about college in general and about some of the ideas he had for it. It sounded very intriguing, but I had no interest in going to college on the island, having grown up here from the age of ten. I was, you know, busy walking the streets at night, after play practice, saying to myself, "I have to get out of this … town." DG: What are your memories of Ed Kaelber? GC: Right from the start he was a really engaging kind of a guy. He invited you to feel drawn into the project, mostly by the way in which he felt compelled by the importance of the issues that the college would address, and the possibilities that it opened up. But also by his self-critical, almost self-deprecating attitude: "We don't want to be too precious about this.
We don't want you to think that we're going to save the whole world." He had a way of combining extreme idealism and extreme realism that was very appealing. DG: So you went off to Wesleyan, and Mel Cote, admissions director, invited you to come to the summer program in 1971 — GC: They wanted a representative group of students — different ages, different backgrounds, different interests — who would try out some of the ideas for the college. They were interested in interdisciplinary, student-centered learning, a real-world, hands-on, problem-centered kind of approach, something that Mel was calling a workshop. I thought it would be a lot of fun and really interesting as an experiment in education. The Saturday before classes started, I got married down in the field here at the college. So my new wife and I could serve as resident advisor-type folks. I also did a couple weeks of work with Millard [Dority] on the grounds before the program started. It was a form of summer employment as well as this great opportunity to try out these experimental educational ideas — this was right after all the uproar in the sixties. A flood of visual images comes to mind — particular spaces and moments in the classroom. There was this incredible sense of an emergent kind of vision and of excitement, just incredibly exciting. I got up every morning thinking I am so lucky to be here. I really did. This is so, so exciting.
Photo by Toby Hollis.
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DG: And what were you studying? GC: There were three classes and a workshop on the future of Bar Island. There was a class taught by Glen Paulson, an exciting scientist who had worked on all sorts of environmental issues. He had worked in New York City on issues of lead paint in urban areas, and on larger, global kinds of problems. He was interested in bridging different parts of the environmental movement and other kinds of civil rights movements. And he was also very good at explaining very complicated phenomena. And then Seth Singleton taught
wanted to do with their life. Often we were looking for people who had a center of interest and an ability to drive themselves. We were definitely looking for people who had done learning outside of school, and who'd done anything that was in any sense practical, real world, applied. On the other hand, there was a real interest in trying to get kids who fit the profile of Ivy League quality. DG: And so you worked here and then went off to get your PhD? GC: In philosophy, at Vanderbilt. And then I taught and did research and practical activism on developing a culture of peace. Gray Cox, age 18, prepares a barbecue for the summer students. Photo courtesy of Gray Cox.
a political science course, which also mixed in some economics. The key text I remember was called TANSTAAFL, There Ain't No Such Thing as a Free Lunch. And then Bill [Carpenter] taught a wonderful, wonderful course. We read The Waste Land, some Thoreau, and Loren Eiseley's book, The Firmament of Time, which had a really powerful impact in terms of my picture of the relationship between philosophy and history and environment. It was fun! I was interested in drama at the time and started writing notes for a play in the style of an absurdist drama, like Waiting for Godot, but the exact opposite temperament from Becket. So on the side I was having a mini-tutorial with Bill. It was about the incredibly rich diversity of new ideas all heading towards something — in fact, maybe it was already here. I went on to revise the play and it won an award at Wesleyan for undergraduate writing. DG: And then you came back to work in admissions, right? Talk about recruiting for COA at that time. GC: Yeah. I was an admissions officer the third and fourth years of the college. The one key part of Mel's strategy for recruitment and selection of students was that they should be self-selected. He had the idea that we don't exactly know what the school is going to be like, and we don't really know who would do well in it, so we've got to be honest about that with students, and make them realize that they're responsible for making the place work. And we don't want to promise them too much. But more importantly, I think he really had the sense that the kind of students we want would be the sort that would be seeking a place like us. At the time, at most schools, I think there was not the kind of long essay-centered application process that we had. We asked students to reflect on their high school experience, on their values, on what they
DG: Eventually, of course, you came back to Maine and ended up teaching here. So how do you see COA's influence on your life? GC: It nurtured my philosophical commitment to the core ideas of interdisciplinariness, a democratic approach to knowledge and action and a mix of theory and practice and provided some good examples and ways of institutionalizing them. When I talked with my philosophy professors about wanting to do applied philosophy, they had trouble figuring out what I was talking about. Whereas, at COA, I think someone like Dick Davis or Dan Kane [former COA faculty members in philosophy and law, respectively] knew exactly what I was talking about. In that way, COA was very influential as a real world exemplification of what I was looking for — Dick was interested in not just theoretical speculations about how to relate to nature better, but in building a solar house. I think the college governance system also was a really good example of people trying to take these ideas of human ecology and apply them in their daily lives in their actual institution. Running the school. In a sense the college was one of the most important parts of the real world that we were interacting with — it had real buildings, it had real sources of income, real economic problems. And food to be eaten, and floors to be swept, and back then there was an especially strong sense of egalitarianism, so as an admissions officer I was sweeping floors and cleaning up and doing secretarial stuff as well as taking part in classes and planning and then on the road I would stop in and talk with one of the trustees in Philadelphia as part of the fundraising process. I thought of the college as a necessary idea, as just right, you know? My core analysis of the world was that in the twentieth century we created all these problems by having professionals and elites run the world, people like Robert McNamara. And what we needed were human ecologists. COA | 23
24 | COA
Entre Comadres Diana Escobedo Lastiri '09
"Frente a Juana," Juchitรกn de Zaragoza, Mexico. 2010 COA | 25
"El Calvario," Juchitán de Zaragoza, Mexico, 2010.
ast year, during my senior year, I discovered a place filled with characters that defy characterization — Juchitán de Zaragoza, Mexico. Located on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, in the state of Oaxaca, Juchitán's dominant cultural group, the Zapoteca, maintains its vibrant traditions and unique approach to gender structures. For my senior project I walked the streets of Juchitán and talked to every woman and muxe — male homosexuals who identify as women and are yet considered a third gender — I encountered. My book Entre Comadres is composed of my portraiture and oral histories of women and muxes who gave me their trust. I recently returned with my mother — the one who inspired my senior project — to give something back to the people who so kindly opened up to me last year. Perhaps it was a karma-related action, but I genuinely wanted to thank everyone I had met. In doing so I established closer relationships that led to my new, as yet untitled, project. I will go back to Juchitán each year for at least fifteen years, and make a portrait of the same women and muxes who have spoken through Entre Comadres.
Because of my deep interest in memory and its connection to photography I look forward to exploring the passage of time and its gradual effects on people who were once strangers to me, through portraiture. ~ Diana Escobedo Lastiri '09
26 | COA
rom Entre Comadres: "I am always radiating beauty, even if you say that I'm fat and ugly, I am always glowing. Me gusta lucir. I like to look fantastic and I also like to share — this is being alive and I like glowing in life. "Look, I'm only going to tell you three things, three phrases from the muxes, three things in life: súbete a un árbol y madura, climb a tree and mature, pintate un bosque y piérdete, paint yourself a forest and get lost in it, y pélate un plátano y siéntate, peel a banana and sit on it." ~ Mistica, 2009
nsure whether it is cultural or purely local, everyone seemed to be careful when I first approached them one year after our first encounter — people seemed to be, as we say in Mexico "measuring my intentions" or making sure I did not mean them any harm. Mistica, an exuberant muxe, was especially cautious but warmly welcomed me when I introduced her to my mother. Mistica's 2010 portrait, just like the other portraits I made this year, offers more context than the year's before — I know I too, am reflected in each photograph and wonder how I will change throughout the years. ~ D. Lastiri, 2010
Top: "Mistica," Juchitán de Zaragoza, Mexico, 2009. Above: "Mistica," Juchitán de Zaragoza, Mexico, 2010. To see more work by Diana Escobedo Lastiri visit www.desclas.com. COA | 27
GET IN THE CAR
Timothy Gulan and Elise Gulan in a 2004 production of Get in the Car directed by Barbara Gulan at Estrogenius, Manhattan Theatre Source, New York City. Photo by Jef Betz, Reel Alchemy.
a ten-minute play By Andrea Lepcio '79
I grew up with an art dealer stepfather and an appreciation for the importance of Jackson Pollock as a breakthrough artist. I knew he had died in a car accident, but it wasn't until I saw Ed Harris' movie Pollock, that I learned he wasn't alone in the car and that a young woman had also died. Her status as a forgotten footnote haunted me. I dug around for what I could find about her. When I learned she'd escaped Nazi Germany, I knew I had to write this play. ~AL Cast of Characters Our Edith: Twenty-six-year-old woman. She wears a summer evening dress, gloves, purse, circa 1956. Our Jackson: Forty-four-year-old man. He wears loafers, no socks. Holds steering wheel. Time and Setting After Dangerous Curve, Fireplace Road The characters are called "Our" because they are what we imagine as writer, performer, audience, and reader. Curtain Rises Our Edith stands by the side of the road. Our Edith: Papas tell girls, "Don't get in the car with him." Sometimes girls want to get in the car. Other times, they don't. Either way, often, they get in. Our Jackson enters holding a steering wheel. Our Jackson: Want to ride in my convertible Oldsmobile Coupe? Our Edith: Mama told me not to ride with strangers. Our Jackson: Jackson Pollock. Our Edith: Edith Metzger. Our Jackson: Now we're not strangers. Hop in. Our Edith: That's not what happened. You had no need to charm me. And you didn't. I was your lover's friend. Here at her invitation. Our Jackson: Visiting. Everyone's always visiting. 28 | COA
Our Edith: The thing about being a house guest is that you want to follow proper etiquette. You want to be gracious. You want to be a pleasure. If at all possible, you want to do what your host asks of you. Our Jackson: Get in the car, please. Our Edith: When one visits a famous person, one is especially courteous. Whether or not one actually fawns, one certainly acts aware of the other person. Of their needs and mood. It's hard to feel more significant than the father of abstract expressionism. It's hard enough for a woman to feel more significant than a man. Imagine an unknown woman, known man. Abstract expressionism. Our Jackson: (To his unseen lover) Get her in the car. Our Edith: You wanted her in the car, so you needed me in the car, because she wasn't going to get in the car without me. You needed me to get in the car, so she would get in the car, so you could go home.
Our Jackson: Both of you. In. Our Edith: (To her friend) Couldn't we take a taxi? Or walk. It can't be that far. Maybe someone else could give us a ride? Can't we just let him go, meet him there? You go. I'll â€” Our Jackson: Come on. Our Edith: Someone's going to get hurt! That's what my Mama would say. She would say this is a situation that you can tell is going to end badly. Our Jackson: That kind of situation, I had plenty of experience with. I never died before. Our Edith: Were we all just hoping and praying? I must have been. Our Jackson: Only so much is known or even knowable. People try to figure. The ones who knew me or thought they did. Those that only knew what they heard/thought. They can only imagine what happened. What I did or didn't do. Our Edith: That's the thing. I did imagine. I saw you behind the wheel. However I or you or she got me to walk to the car, I was already imagining. As a child, I bit Herman Goering.
Our Jackson: We could've just as easily stopped there, instead of here. Our Edith: Not just as easily, otherwise you would have. Our Jackson: A car is a wondrous thing. To go fast, to pick up one's lover and her friend at the train station, to go to the store. To do nothing, but feel the power of shaft turning shaft. That Oldsmobile was heavy. I had to push hard on the pedal to go. Heavy, but fast, rubber wheels skimming asphalt, top down, weight and sky. Our Edith: We only see a small piece of life at any given time. A refraction of the whole. Our Jackson: (Driving) I can feel it. Our Edith: Yet we have no choice but to act anyway. Our Jackson: People do things. That's what we do. Not always with the intent of doing them to someone else, or even ourselves. I had hands and feet and brains that painted and a mouth that drank. Our Edith: It's odd to me, that all of your brothers were painters.
Our Jackson: I didn't know that.
Our Jackson: Yeah.
Our Edith: You didn't know me.
Our Edith: You're the only Pollock most people know.
Our Jackson: You were a stranger.
Our Jackson: I guess.
Our Edith: Ah, ah!
Our Edith: I'm footnoted in scholarly papers concerning your death.
Our Jackson: You were her friend. Here to see her. Here to get out of the City. Nothing to do with me.
Our Jackson: (Pointing at unseen lover) She lived to tell.
Our Edith: I escaped Nazi Germany.
Our Edith: Your lover, my friend.
Our Jackson: I escaped Manhattan.
Our Jackson: Her memory ego-stained. Her ego memorystained. Nothing is pure. She only knew what she knew and after the fact. She only remembered what she remembered, when she remembered it. And that memory and that ego likely mutated over the years. Memory used to mutate for me. And ego. The truth is very hard to know and impossible to hold on to.
Our Edith: You broke the ice. Or so de Kooning said. Our Jackson: I painted. And then I started selling paintings. I suppose, if you read some biography, there would be quotes of what I said before Bill said that. What I said after. Selling felt better than not selling. Nothing felt better than painting. But nothing felt particularly good. So I drank. Our Edith: I managed a beauty salon. Women loved our shampoos. I knew how to make every one of them feel special. Our Jackson: You don't say. Our Edith: In the evenings, I read philosophy and all kinds of stories. I went to the ballet. Who knows what I might have done. Who I might have given birth to. Loved. Our Jackson: You might have gone on to break some ice yourself. Our Edith: I didn't live to break the ice. You did. Our Jackson: Don't you want to go home?
Our Edith: What she said. What the authorities figured out. Means nothing to me. Memory is not my concern. My concern is loss. Our Jackson: Death takes away more than life. It leaves people to make art of my destruction â€” Our Edith: Our. Our Jackson: Like that photographer. Jesum crow!! Still life. Two cans of Rheingold beer, a hubcap, my right loafer. Posed, rampantly obvious. The beer, the crash, the shoe. Front page of the Star. Our Edith: Jackson Pollock, who in 1947 Williem de Kooning said broke the ice, died when his car crashed in East Hampton.
Our Edith: All the way back to my cold water flat or even my Mama and Papa's. Or Germany. When it's that late and life has already distressed you, sleep becomes the object. You were going to drive me to your home where I could pull the covers up tight. I knew I'd walk to the train station in the morning.
Our Jackson: Possible suicide. They said. They didn't know. They still don't.
Our Jackson: We were almost there. So close.
Our Jackson: It wasn't my first steak, argument, drink, drive, crash.
Our Edith: Were we?
Our Edith: August 11, 1956. Our Jackson: I cooked steak. Argued. Drank. Drove. Crashed. Our Edith: The father of abstract expressionism.
COA | 29
Our Edith: Also in the car with him were his young lover and his young stranger. Our Jackson: Maybe that should be the rule. Don't let strangers get in your car. Our Edith: That doesn't help me now. Our Jackson: Get in the car — Our Edith: …the famous painter said. Or something to that effect. And though frightened, I got in. My legs carried me, my fingers and arms and friend helped. He was forty-four. I was twenty-six. He fathered abstract expressionism. I managed a beauty salon. He escaped Manhattan, I escaped Nazi Germany. He broke the ice. I bit Hermann Goering. Our Jackson: These physicists measured some of my drip paintings, at different scales. The whole painting, and then a section, and then a dot. And, they proved, using arithmetic, that each painting was identical, at each of these scales. They said it had to do with the force of movement against the gravity against the paint. It's called fractal dimensionality. Nature's fingerprint. Which is exactly the way I experienced it. Our Edith: It was supposed to be a parade and I liked parades. But instead there was this man with all these jewels stuck on him — medals I suppose. Papa said he was Goering. He walked by, waving, looking the crowd up and down. First my Papa, then my Mama, then me. He reached to pick me up. He was going to kiss me. You know politicians. He was ugly. I didn't want him to kiss me. So I bit him. Our Jackson: Are you in? Our Edith: (Gets in the car behind the unseen lover/friend) Yes. I still don't know why.
Our Jackson: We hit. What? Our Edith: An embankment. Then we turned. Our Jackson: Back again, across the asphalt. Then underbrush, under, sky over, still in the car, still in the car, we're all still in the car. There was no top. Our Edith: No top. Our Jackson: Four white oaks. I knew those trees. We hit. Our Edith: Flipping end over end. Our Jackson: I sailed out. Our Edith: Yes. Our Jackson: My lover too. Our Edith: I did not sail. Our Jackson: I hit a tree. A fifth oak tree. Our Edith: I ended up in the trunk. Our Jackson: How the trunk? Our Edith: You think I know? Our Jackson: Well, what? I'm trying to imagine. Our Edith: Being a polite, well-raised young lady, I'm trying to help you. Our Jackson: Thanks. Appreciate it. Our Edith: The car … the hood must have opened. I must have fell … maybe I started to fly too, but the car caught me…
Our Jackson: (Relieved) I'm finally driving.
Our Jackson: You were in the back seat.
Our Edith: So fast.
Our Edith: Let's think … if the hood opened, you'd think that would have blocked me.
Our Jackson: Everyone knows this curve. Our Edith: Do they? Our Jackson: Fireplace Road. It's a dangerous curve. Our Edith: Didn't you see it coming? I did. Our Jackson: I'm holding the steering wheel, stepping on the accelerator, racing the curve. Our Edith: I'm no backseat driver. You control the car. No one else. Our Jackson: I hit the curve. It'll have to fly. Flying implies no collision. Until I hear the screaming and know. We will collide. Our Edith: We will. Our Jackson: Did I brake? Our Edith: I don't know. Our Jackson: If the car is in the air and you hit the brakes. What happens? Our Edith: The wheels stop turning. I guess.
Our Jackson: Pushed you back in the seat. But the car, you said, flipped. Our Edith: So if I fell out of the back seat while the car was turning. I … must have fallen back into the trunk and then got smashed in when it landed. No one could see me. (Pointing) You were there and she was there. But I was in the dark, hidden. Our Jackson: You shouldn't have gotten in. Our Edith: Escape sometimes ends in no escape. Our Jackson: You're telling me. Our Edith: Mama always said a car is freedom. Our Jackson: Did she? Our Jackson: Get in the car. Our Edith: Get in the car. CURTAIN
Among other works in progress, Andrea Lepcio's Looking for the Pony is upcoming at Venus Theatre in Maryland in October. With composer Brooke Fox and lyricist Cheryl L. Davis, she is the librettist on The Ballad of Rom and Julz, to be performed at Bard College's Spiegeltent in July. © Andrea Lepcio, 2003 30 | COA
F ev e r is h D r e ams by Jake Wartell '12
I dismiss them And go to the alchemists; Tinkering at their mercury pools And bituminous beakers, Provoking omens and elements. As they pump bellows At the blue flame They remind me I am a miraculous amalgam: Aquatic, aerial, and terrestrial, Physical, emotional, and celestial. I am blessed as blood Thrust into alveoli And I go to the shaman, Sitting alone at his low table, Smoking pipes and slowly Tracing symbols on an old plate. Many silent minutes pass Before he looks me in the face. His house is so crowded with puppets And jars of medicines he makes, I stagger into them. He says, 'You are more important Than anything here you could break.'
I have spent too many nights now stumbling Through strange geometry of feverish dreams, Tense and weary. I have ached in my skin And been driven from bed By every lump and grain of grit on the mattress. I have swollen like the sun about to die, My lymph nodes; gas giants In unstable orbit. I have prayed "surrender" to the heavens, Please let me sleep. Haggard and aloof in the early hours I walk Bleary-eyed to the kitchen, Run my trembling fingers along upper shelves Trying, in my delirium, to find health Between the cereal and the fruit. I feast On hot peppers and garlic To scrape the daemons from my insides. And when I return to my messy bed I stumble Through strange geometry of feverish dreams To the allopaths Pushing pills into piles like poker players. Their laughter is large lumbering, Slow thundering Dark and stormy. They are fumbling For antidotes to antidotes To their disingenuous prescriptions.
And at that utterance I break Like a thunder head collapsing Into a torrential downpour Forcing open all the hatches. The bars of this cage are rattling! The hull components of this cock-pit Are cracking apart! The pipes are dancing under the pressure And breaking the bolts! The over-flow repositories Are filling to brim bursting! An ocean of vast proportion Flows through me. It saturates every cell And surrounds me. I swim to the surface and wake Startled To find morning And this body both Sprawled out naked on the twisted sheet. Light, peaceful, and new.
This poem was created during an independent study in written and spoken poetry that Jake Wartell took with Bill Carpenter in the winter of 2010. Before coming to COA, Jake lived most of his life in Portland, Maine where he spent several years exploring performance poetry with Port Veritas. In March he released his first spoken word CD, Great Hungry Busker. COA | 31
connections… c o l l a b o r at i o n s … education through guided independence
Crucial to this process is the support system behind COA's self-directed learning: COA faculty and staff who give hours of individual time to students, whether informally through lunch conferences, or more concretely in independent studies, tutorials, and senior project advising. What's most significant about this presence is its subtlety. COA faculty members are wise catalysts. They know when to challenge and to push, and they know when to step aside and watch as students take off in their own remarkable directions. We've chosen eleven alumni and current students to demonstrate the powerful connections that have solidly placed students in the world over nearly forty years. These represent scores of others whose confidence, careers and very lives have been shaped and launched by COA's particular educational model. Craig Kesselheim '76 offers a detailed list of how COA helped him in his career — mostly focused on the expectation that he figure things out on his own, guided by what he called "some very smart people" who very much wanted him to succeed. For Paul Boothby '88, the epiphany came later; when he found that human ecology itself was calling to him — taking him into his future as a minister. That dedicated scientist Jenny Rock '93 could also take classes in the humanities and arts has guided her current research on how value-, or aesthetic-laden the scientific apprehension of the world can be. Through a series of fortuitous events, the senior project of puppeteer Beth Nixon '99 led to a massive commissioned performance with Terry Tempest Williams, Barry Lopez, and others. Rep. Elsie Flemings '06 made a mark on Maine's legislative system even before she became elected — thanks, in part, to faculty guidance. For scientists Yaniv Brandvain '04, Nina Therkildsen '05, Santiago Salinas '05 and Kipp Quinby '06, a synchronicity of friendship, discussion, and studies intensified interests as they worked with faculty and local scientists. Finally, when Dan Mahler '10 connected with Alicia Hynes '11, it was COA's spirited students who made the difference, collaborating on three years of amazing theatrical performances. ~ Donna Gold 32 | COA
Off the Ends, intaglio collograph print by Jenny Rock '93.
Human ecology, COA's driving force, sets the stage for a very special kind of education. Because human ecology asks students to view issues from multiple perspectives, an interdisciplinary approach to learning is a must. And because each student must find his or her own path to this degree, students take a very active approach to their studies — choosing what classes will constitute their vision of human ecology, finding an internship, constructing a senior project — all above and beyond the hands-on, learning-by-doing focus of nearly every class. This active approach is also part of COA's democracy, which considers the opinions of all community members as co-learners in classrooms and co-thinkers on committees.
Photo courtesy of Craig Kesselheim '76.
self-direction Craig Kesselheim '76 By Donna Gold
Craig Kesselheim spends many of his days traveling around Maine, visiting selected schools to help them help themselves. He's a senior associate with the Great Schools Partnership and he thinks of himself as something of a coach, developing an educational rationale for each institution. Among the schools he visits is Deer Isle Stonington High School, where Todd West '00, is principle. Says West, "He basically serves as someone who asks hard questions." Part of Kesselheim's sense of shaping schools stems from being one of COA's founding students; in 1972 he was one of just a handful of 18-year-olds brave enough to come to a college with four teachers and provisional accreditation. Most of his classmates were older transfer students. Kesselheim precisely delineates his life-shaping experiences at COA: An internship with The Nature Conservancy on Deer Isle, "provided me with many fundamentals of field research and conservation." An ornithology class with early visitor Willy Russell began a lifelong passion in birding; today Kesselheim's journeys around Maine are spiced by forays into swamps and meadows in search of rarities. His student leadership position with the fledgling OOPs program started by classmate John March '76 helped him to get summer work with Outward Bound, which in turn helped him get into environmental and outdoor education work at the Chewonki Foundation.
He would write a story a day for the next week. "And I did," he recalls. "It was huge." There are commonalities in these disparate experiences. They were all hands-on, active, and required direction from Kesselheim himself. Kesselheim's senior project was similarly self-directed. A high school gymnast, he decided to work on physical education with mentally disabled children on the island at a time when there were few special education services. From around the island, a teacher would bring students to the Bar Harbor YMCA to catch rubber balls, jump on the trampoline, or walk a four-inchhigh balance beam. Kesselheim still remembers the bursts of happiness the children experienced from the physicality of play. "Catching a ball while bouncing on the trampoline was a real joy for them." Continues Kesselheim, "The fact that the whole thing was mine to figure out, from how to pace myself, to how to motivate myself, to what kind of format to keep my records in," gave him a lifetime of independent research skills. "I was head and shoulders better prepared for my master's in teaching studies at Bridgewater State College than any student I met there."
Finally, his work as an advocate for a whaling moratorium with the International Whaling Commission in the Humans and the Great Whales group study with former president and founding faculty member Steve Katona and early administrator Sam Eliot launched him on a letter-writing campaign his first year of the college. Says Kesselheim, "it made me a better writer for life. Credit to Steve Katona for this."
Equally as important, these experiences — especially the summer he spent in Alaska working with Bill Drury — gave him a lifetime of stories which Kesselheim has used to bring science to life in a career that included serving as a middle school science teacher, a K–12 curriculum coordinator, a K–8 principal, a director of education at a Wyoming science school, a science facilitator with the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance, an assistant professor of biology and science education at University of Central Arkansas, and finally his current work helping schools shape themselves.
At one point during that class, about six students arranged a group study in short story writing with Eliot. Having run into some difficulties, Kesselheim shared them with Eliot, who promptly turned the question back at him. "What are you going to do about it?" Kesselheim's answer came almost without thought.
"Imagine" says Kesselheim, "being a junior high science teacher and being able to take a concept out of a text, and tell a story you've lived. Middle school kids love to learn through stories — you can get a lot of conceptual information into a story and they retain that much better." COA | 33
taking human ecology to a higher level Paul Boothby '88
By Amanda Witherell '00
Boothby was born in Maine and raised in the Unitarian faith, but COA became a new source for his spirituality by exposing him to different ideas in a physically beautiful and inspiring environment, giving him an important tool he still uses today. "I think the one practice that's held sway through a lot of my ministry is this process of contextualizing, of taking a particular issue and looking at it in a much broader context, be it historical, demographic, ecological, cross cultural. This became a habit at COA for me. The process was always about looking deeper, at Darwin and his ventures, at shellfish during low tide. What's the larger context? What's the unwritten story?" he says. "We're taking human ecology to a higher level." Boothby originally intended to become a teacher and studied in the education program with former faculty member Peter Corcoran, eventually serving as an environmental educator for the Chewonki Foundation. But something was missing. During a March 15, 2009 sermon to his congregation, he summed up his career change eloquently: "In my own journey I followed a path to environmental education, a venue that brought together the values I embrace, the gifts I bring, and the opportunity to effect positive change in the world. It was a blessed time in my life. And though it was a career with great heart, I had deeper urgings toward something even more meaningful, urgings that woke me at four in the morning on a camping trip with the idea of ministry. And here I am, twenty years later doing work that allows me the room to keep evolving, searching, being open to what life has to teach me." Boothby says the process of introspection that he began to hone at COA is an essential part of his preaching and should be considered a keystone of education everywhere. "If we understand ourselves we understand more about human nature and if we understand more about human nature then we become more efficient activists and environmentalists. It's important to have a great academic background, but you also need relational skills." In addition to working with his congregation on the routine struggles of life, he performs gay marriages, has helped established a green living ministry, and is working on race relations in the historically segregated community by organizing people of different ethnicities into study circles to discuss their experiences in the context of race. "Helping people see their interdependence within their community and in the larger web of life is work that brings together my spiritual beliefs and the praxis of human ecology." 34 | COA
Photos courtesy of Paul Boothby '88.
Paul Boothby feels a deeply intimate connection with human ecology through his work as a Unitarian Universalist minister in Lynchburg, Virginia. "Human ecology is all about relationship. Spirituality is also all about relationship," he says. "It's also about our inner life and the development of character, but it's also about being part of a community. That's how I see my work as inherently ecological."
addicted to questioning Jenny Rock '93
By Amanda Witherell '00 Can a message in a bottle, tossed into the ocean, really end up anywhere? "No," insists Jenny Rock. The ocean is not limitless and unstructured, but rather an environment subject to local currents and microclimates. "Can larval fish spread everywhere? Not the case. Our belief in the connectivity of everything within the sea is one of the reasons we've overfished." The notion that everything within the ocean is mixed and interconnected is just one of many scientific assumptions Rock is trying to change. "One of the things I'm interested in is paradigm shifts in science," says Rock, who has a PhD in zoology but is also a printmaker (with a variety of COA arts and humanities credits), and has been working recently with anthropologists, artists, and geneticists on several animation film projects. "So many paradigms we have in science have their basis in the humanities; the same driving aesthetics shape both." She's working with other scientists and artists to try to highlight misconceptions about how we view natural and social worlds, and soon she'll be reaching deeper into other disciplines in her new lectureship at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, where she'll be in the Zoology Department's Center for Science Communication, leading classes and research that integrate disparate subjects to broaden our conceptualization of science. The Maine native says her "addiction to questioning and understanding paradigms," quite clearly was fostered by her COA education. She recalls classes with former biology faculty members Bill Drury and John Anderson, who holds the William H. Drury, Jr. Chair in Evolution, Ecology and Natural History. "One of the things I learned quite quickly from both of them is that the scientific ideas of succession and the linear progression that we look for in nature are part of our aesthetic of structure and order in the world, when in fact variability, and chance, are much more realistic options." Continues Rock, "What really convinced me of the need to broaden our conceptualization of science was not the thought patterns of my scientific colleagues. They are a bit more ready to accept that The Final Dive, intaglio collograph print by Jenny Rock '93. theories are changeable, and that intuition and creativity are not necessarily separate from science." She found it was other professionals — artists, for instance — who were most uncomfortable with the commonalities between artists and scientists. "Even though so many aspects of creativity involve components of experimentation common to science," she says, "it now seems there is more resistance from the humanities rather than the sciences to breaking down barriers. We have similar goals for our varied ways of telling stories. If we put them together it's probably closer to the truth." After COA, Rock was a Watson Fellow in New Zealand, Africa, Australia, and the United Kingdom, studying evolutionary paradigms relating to "living fossils" as primitive remnant organisms. She received her PhD in New Zealand and did post-doctoral work in Australia and Wales. All the while, she stayed in touch with COA professors — connections that remain fruitful to this day. "There are many, many COA faculty and alumni that remain a very important part of my working (and social!) life." She corresponds with Steve Katona, former COA president and founding faculty member, about the ocean health index he's working on and they've talked about doing a joint book. "In New Zealand, in January, while COA | 35
I was being interviewed for my new job, I ended up quoting Bill Drury left, right, and center. A few weeks later in London I met up with John Anderson and schemed about a natural history program he's working on." Rock also hosted a COA intern, Nataliya Ilyashenko '08, at her University of Wales lab. "I'm writing letters of recommendation for her now, while my COA professors still do the same for me." The cycle continues. She's hoping for more opportunities to host COA interns at Otago and she's interested in developing some sort of graduate exchange as well as pursuing connections with fellow alumni to work on cross-disciplinary collaborations. "COA faculty, alums, students â€Ś they've always been friends, colleagues, family; these connections are just as important now as they were twenty years ago â€” if not more so."
endorsing a dream Beth Nixon '99
By Amanda Witherell '00 Photo by Donna Gold.
Beth Nixon believes there's no way she'd be leading puppet parades down the main streets of small towns and major cities, staging suitcase puppet shows, and teaching people of all ages how to tell their stories while turning trash into puppets, if it weren't for an echoing connection to COA. It began with the internship requirement. "I panicked. What's my career field?" The Rhode Island native wasn't sure, but she'd already spent summers volunteering at Bread and Puppet's annual pageant in Vermont and stumbled upon an internship at Redmoon Theater in Chicago. "These weirdos are making a living doing this," she thought. "Maybe I could too?" She returned for her last year at COA with the idea of staging a puppet show for her senior project. Nixon viewed the project as a way to combine her writing, sculpture, and theater talents; Candice Stover, COA lecturer in literature, agreed to be her advisor, even though she had no puppetry experience. Writer Terry Tempest Williams was the graduation speaker for the class of 1999. Having seen Nixon's show, The Possible Beast: A Rustic Puppet Epic, featuring a canoe beast and the carrot of hope, Williams commissioned Nixon to make a piece for the Orion Magazine annual writer's conference. Two weeks after graduation, Nixon, Stover, and fellow COA students and musicians Jessica Hayes '98, Nikolai Fox '00, and Erin Chalmers '00 traveled to Shepherdstown, West Virginia, to perform The Table of Restoration for more than three hundred writers. Williams played a giant bird, Barry Lopez wore the rhinohog puppet, and Wendell Berry gave Nixon a pat on the back. She says the experience had "a real feeling of value in it, an endorsement that puppetry was a worthy thing to do with my life."
"Forest Beast" from Nixon's 2002 Yaak and Troy Community Timeline Project. Photo by Randy Beacham.
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A couple years later, while in Guatemala for a Spanish immersion program, Nixon received an email from writer Rick Bass, who remembered her from the Orion conference and asked if she could help his community create a giant puppet timeline of
Yaak Valley and Troy, Montana. It featured giant paper maché meteors and puppets of trains, cowboys, and Native Americans. Nixon involved almost all of the thousand townspeople. It was the first of many artist-in-residence experiences. "I definitely feel the connections I've made through school have rippled throughout my life," Nixon says. Her company, Ramshackle Enterprises, is hired by educational organizations, community groups, and theaters all over the United States and Canada. She also facilitates workshops for children and adults in mental health and substance abuse recovery programs. Nixon '99 at COA's 2009 convocation. Photo by Donna Gold. Ten years after graduating, Nixon was invited to be the convocation speaker for COA's incoming class. Once on campus, she recognized some of the college's more everlasting qualities. "You forget when you leave COA that some of it was particular — my friends, my life, my experience — but a lot of it has to do with it being an institution with a set of values made up of people who are attracted to those values. I was amazed to go back and feel many of the feelings I had when I was a student. It was confirming to realize 'Oh wow, this still goes on.'"
In 2009, Nixon earned an MFA in interdisciplinary art from Vermont's Goddard College and now lives in West Philadelphia with her partner, musician Joshua Marcus, and their one-year-old daughter Ida. She's currently working on shows for Chicago's Banners and Cranks Festival and the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival, where she'll perform with Pig Iron Theater. "I'm interested in continuing this inquiry into how I can communicate my ideas through cardboard puppets while also working with others to tell their stories, making theater that isn't reserved for people who can afford to pay fifty dollars for tickets to some fancy-pants thing." Beyond the friends she made at COA, she says, "probably the most important connection that still feeds my life and livelihood and artistic endeavors is just the fact that at the school I was met with such open-mindedness, encouragement, and spirit."
the solidarity of learning
The scientific friendships of Yaniv Brandvain '04, Nina Therkildsen '05, Santiago Salinas '05 and Kipp Quinby '06 Written by Donnie Mullen ('97) This is a story about four College of the Atlantic alumni — Yaniv Brandvain, Nina Therkildsen, Santiago Salinas and Kipp Quinby — whose individual passion for science was enhanced by their shared connection. Discussions flowed in and out of class, additional resources were dug up, friendly arguments tossed around, and fresh perspectives grasped and pondered. These friends combined their class time and their residence life into one cohesive, even transformative experience, where learning was their collective focus. "What they all had in common was a desire to learn material," says Chris Petersen, COA faculty member in biology, who worked closely with each student — "and the ability to raise the level of any class they were in." "Ah," says Quinby, but "COA encourages this synergy." And, she adds, there were many beyond the four of them, who were part of the connection. Therkildsen agrees, "Everyone was so driven," she says. Even the faculty, "Their enthusiasm was so obvious. They all seem to give 200% of themselves, trying to convey their passions and get students to share them" This was true for every teacher, notes Salinas, "It was never memorize this and memorize that, but understand this and understand that — COA taught me how to learn by myself. I feel like I can walk into a new situation and be okay." COA | 37
Yaniv Brandvain '04 For Yaniv Brandvain, the connections went far beyond the college. His senior project, which helped shape his career in evolutionary genetics, consisted of work with Petersen, Jackson Laboratory's Kevin Flurkey and Harvard University professor David Haig. In an animal behavior class with COA faculty member John Anderson, Brandvain became acquainted with Haig's work in applying the basic principles of animal behavior to help solve problems in seed development. Intrigued, Brandvain read all of Haig's publications, emailed him, and the two hatched an idea â€” how hybrid seeds respond to crossing â€” that Brandvain pursued. Brandvain received regular assistance from Anderson, Petersen and Suzanne Morse, COA faculty member in botany, hashed out ideas with Salinas and other classmates, and sent periodic emails to Haig. In 2005, within a year of graduation, Brandvain's work was published in a paper in American Naturalist. These experiences left Brandvain with a deep belief in the value of collaboration. "The close interaction with multiple people definitely was something that I picked up at COA," he says.
Santiago Salinas '05 One of Brandvain's major points of contact was Santiago Salinas, who like Brandvain, was fascinated with evolutionary ecology. The discussions were fervent and constant, whether in or out of class, ranging through theory, levels of selection, and scientific philosophy. "We were mates," says Brandvain. "We shared ideas about the major problems in evolutionary biology." Drawing upon their enthusiasm, Petersen created an advanced tutorial in evolutionary ecology, which both participated in. Come summer, Salinas did field research on the reproduction Santiago Salinas '05 samples larvae on the Hudson River in hopes of estimating of the estuarine fish mummichog with the impact of power plants on fish populations. Photo courtesy of Santiago Salinas '05. Petersen, Brandvain and Therkildsen. While Petersen was the principal investigator, the discussions involved the entire group. Ultimately, it was Salinas and Brandvain who published and presented the findings. One of the least advertised attributes of COA is the learning that occurs between students, says Salinas. "Having so many very smart people around was an education in itself."
Not only did Therkildsen find the zeal of COA faculty inspiring, she loved the drive and enthusiasm of her classmates. "It was really useful to have people who shared the same passions and interests to build our common self-confidence by interacting and supporting each other," she says. For a statistics class, she and Quinby teamed up to evaluate the data collection strategy of Bar Harbor's clam flats monitoring program. Therkildsen found that her theoretical know-how was nicely complimented by Quinby's 38 | COA
Photo courtesy of Nina Therkildsen '05.
As a child, Nina Therkildsen dreamed of becoming a marine biologist. At COA, this fascination with the ocean led her to examine the interface between science and policy. She soon zeroed in on fisheries, where she thrived on the challenges inherent in the interaction among management, law, socioeconomics, and science.
Nina Therkildsen '05 on a fishing trip in Greenland to sample cod.
Nina Therkildsen '05
background growing up in a Maine fishing family. When they were done, Petersen arranged for them to present their findings to the town's marine resource committee. "The project we were able to deliver was much better than either of us could have done alone," says Therkildsen. For Quinby, it underscored her appreciation of the college's learning process. "COA has a lovely balance between practice and theory. A lot of programs do great hands-on, and a lot of schools do great book learning. COA manages to put those two together in a pretty powerful kind of way."
Kipp Quinby '06 Kipp Quinby grew up on a Maine island where fisheries regulations often felt imposed. She came to COA to study marine science and earn a teaching certificate, believing that the educational experience would provide her with a fresh perspective that could benefit her community. Quinby found the support at COA analogous to her island home; everyone wanted her to succeed. Falling in with Therkildsen, Salinas and Brandvain meant a lot. "I was two years behind Yaniv," she says, "a year behind the others, and still I got to ride in on their coat tails as an academic runt."
Photo of Kipp Quinby (in the green sweater) with sister Dale Quinby '12.
On a tropical ecology class journey to Tobago with Therkildsen as teaching assistant, Quinby and Salinas teamed up to look at competitive interactions between two reef species. Quinby was impressed by Salinas' knack for understanding evolution's influence on species and by Therkildsen's approach to answering scientific questions. "I reached that deeper level of understanding much more quickly by working with them," she says.
Photo courtesy of Kipp Quinby '06.
The years ahead Since COA the four classmates have continued to excel: Brandvain, now a PhD, has published multiple papers, including articles in Evolution and Science. This fall, he heads to the University of California, Davis for a postdoctoral fellowship studying why the sexes of different species recombine at different rates. Therkildsen returned home for her doctorate at the Technical University of Denmark Aqua where she is studying how commercial fishing has genetically affected Atlantic cod over the past century. Salinas is a doctoral student at Stony Brook University in New York where he recently published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on how temperature is a primary factor in the lifespan of species. Following a stint at the Shoals Marine Laboratory, Quinby has come home to Maine and is working at the Penobscot East Resource Center in Stonington writing science curricula for its fishermen leadership training programs.
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community driven Elsie Flemings '07 By Donnie Mullen ('97) After a year at Columbia University in New York City, Elsie Flemings decided to leave school and move to Maine. As a student at New Hampshire's Exeter Academy, she had grown to love Maine's small rural communities. In Maine, she landed at Merryfield Farm in Cornish, connecting her to the land and the local economy, reinforcing her attachment to the state. Then she learned about College of the Atlantic. "I really loved the mission geared toward preparing students to serve their communities and help solve problems we face, whether at the local, national or global level." COA's courses and comprehensive learning approach intrigued her; Beech Hill Farm and the oceanside location were icing on the cake. Deciding to return to college meant attending COA. Flemings matriculated in 2004. Once there, her enthusiasm only grew. "The faculty were outstanding mentors and guides who worked one-on-one with me and helped me to develop my course of study in the direction I wanted."
Elsie Flemings '07 works on a mortise in the post and beam class she organized. Photo by Donna Gold.
That direction was established early. During Flemings' first winter, she organized a group study in timber frame construction. She fundraised, received donated materials and helped to build a small structure that now stands at the farm. She enjoyed learning the craft, and found that coordinating the group was particularly satisfying. Soon Flemings immersed herself in public policy. In 2005, she became the student moderator for the All College Meeting, served on several committees and organized for the successful Maine Won't Discriminate campaign. She then worked with COA's branch of the national SustainUS organization to become one of a few youth delegates to the United Nation's climate change negotiations in Montreal. Later, attending the Fourteenth UN Commission on Sustainable Development in New York, Flemings was invited to join the United States delegation as its first youth member since 2001. In 2006, she took an independent study with her advisor, Ken Cline, COA faculty member in environmental law and public policy and the David Rockefeller Family Chair in Ecosystem Management and Protection. The result of this threecredit class was Maine's first-in-thenation Informed Growth Act, requiring corporations to submit a local economic impact assessment before building a large-scale retail store. "In typical Elsie fashion, any one component of her project could have been a full independent study," Cline said. "There was a set of skills she wanted to learn and that's what drove her."
Elsie Flemings '07 is sworn in as District 35 representative. Photo courtesy of Else Flemings '07.
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With Cline's guidance, Flemings researched similar proposals, organized a
working group that included professionals from the Maine Fair Trade Campaign, the Sierra Club, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and local business groups — and wrote an initial draft of the legislation. Flemings made a point to include commonly disparate groups, such as labor and environmental organizations. Cline said it was clear early on that Flemings was a talented political organizer. "It's in my bones," noted Flemings. "When I see people struggling or see things like climate change or economic disparities, I feel compelled to engage and try to find solutions." From Maine, she went on to work on the campaign of a congressman in eastern Ohio, a region depressed by a loss of manufacturing jobs. Having rallied populations as diverse as steel workers and social justice advocates around the theme of economic justice, she reflected on the role of economic issues in electoral campaigns for her senior project. When the congressman was elected, Flemings went to Washington to work as a legislative aide in his office. Yet she always knew she would return to Maine. In 2008, Flemings was elected to represent Bar Harbor and surrounding communities in the Maine House of Representatives, having been encouraged to run by Maine's First Congressional District representative Chellie Pingree '79 when the two met at Flemings' graduation; Pingree was the keynote speaker. As an indication of Flemings' ability to assemble varied perspectives, her campaign garnered the support of Leslie Brewer, COA founding trustee, Bar Harbor businessman, and lifelong Republican. For decades, COA's founding president, Ed Kaelber, had unsuccessfully tried to persuade Brewer to vote Democratic; but Flemings' hard working, issues-based approach so impelled Brewer that he stood with her outside the polls to introduce her to voters. Flemings' first session as a legislator was trial by fire. Reduced revenue forced the legislature to cut over $800 million from the state's budget. Yet Flemings is proud of how the legislature worked to mitigate the effects. "Across party lines, legislators work tirelessly to support our communities and our state. We delve into important issues and work to find the best solutions for Maine — often in a bipartisan fashion," she said. "It's a great process, and a great opportunity to be of service."
Alicia Hynes '11 and Dan Mahler '10 By Donna Gold The images are unforgettable: Fates writhing around a cauldron; a son's severed head in a mother's grasp; a young man donning his first evening gown. The Bacchae, The Tempest, Macbeth. Classics, and one original play, brought to immediacy on the COA stage. Passion, energy, drama — student-conceived and student-run. And no professional actors, not even theater majors. Just Dan Mahler, Alicia Hynes, and a cast of classmates with a tremendous amount of trust, respect and dedication. Mahler transferred to COA in the fall of 2007. By that spring, Euripedes' The Dan Mahler '10 and Alicia Hynes '11. Photo by Devin Altobello '13. Bacchae was on stage in Gates Community Center with Hynes as stage manager. The multimedia production involving music, dance and acting amazed the campus. As co-directors the next year, Mahler and Hynes created The Tempest — Bollywood style. More music, more dance, and such joyous spirit that COA President David Hales requested — and COA | 41
was granted — an encore performance. Last March, the duo staged Macbeth, proving that their strength wasn't just in the production values of great music and movement; the dramatic tension in William Shakespeare's tragedy brought shivers to the audience. What is amazing about these performances isn't just the extraordinary vision. Creativity is one thing, but when your palette is a dozen or more students — many with no acting experience and all with a great deal on their plates — completion is another matter. How do they do it? Well, there's the sweat factor: daily rehearsals for most of the term; weekends, too. But ask Mahler and Hynes about the process and you'll hear them speaking of the play's characters as if they were true acquaintances with whom they had daily conversations — and whose life blood resides in language. Each line of Shakespeare's is a Members of the community surround Stefania Marchese '11 as Agave in a production of The real statement by a real person, and it is those words that reBacchae performed outdoors at The Shrine on veal the man or woman. "This isn't the Macbeth, but yours campus. Photo by Noah Hodgetts '10. and our experience, and our interpretation" of the character, says Mahler. And so the directors ask the actors to ponder their characters individually and in conversation, creating a back story to understand the motivation in their role. "No one thinks of themselves as an evil person," notes Mahler. "We want everyone to genuinely like their character." Even Macbeth? Even Lady Macbeth? Yes, insists Hynes, "To the characters, what they're doing is justified, even if it's twisted logic. They've had lives before —" Adds Mahler, "We don't want them to be just murderers." Even the servants have personalities. "We want to make sure everyone feels the full richness of their character." And so, guided by Mahler and Hynes (who know each other so well that their ideas braid together, each one completing the other's sentences), the actors put a lot of thought not only into their roles, but also into every other role. "When you're doing a scene, you're listening really well to others," says Hynes, "because your character has never heard those lines before," even if the actor has. "If your character isn't experiencing it, then the audience isn't." For The Tempest, Mahler and Hynes brought the cast to Acadia National Park for an afternoon of fooling around — in character. Finding an old house foundation overgrown by trees and shrubs, they ran through the script as if they were truly on Shakespeare's deserted island. "It was amazing," remembers Philip Kunhardt '11, who has played a major role in each of the performances. "It made all the difference." Modestly, the directors say that the process feels organic, from the first character games to the last weeks when the cast clearly becomes a unit. "It feels like we haven't done too much to create it," says Mahler. And then he turns to COA. The expansiveness of the COA curriculum means a lot, he says. Having one major, "encourages not limiting one's self." Many of their actors had never done theater, adds Hynes. These actors say that at another school they would never have tried. "It's part of the COA mentality to encourage people to take risks," continues Mahler, "they come to COA with such powerful attitudes to play and learn and grow."
Dan Mahler '10 performing as Fantasia Fabulous in Façades. Photo by Donna Gold. 42 | COA
Mahler now heads to Emerson College's Theatre Education master's program, while Hynes remains on campus continuing her focus on art. But this spring, Mahler and Hynes teamed up for a spectacular finale — Mahler's senior project, Façades, a play with music, dance, comedy and drama that is written, directed, and acted by Mahler, with Hynes as assistant director.
situation from the perspective of Mexi- a June release in both theaters and local can workers, Vermont farmers, and big screening events. business." The play was augmented by actual quotes from farmers and Mexican workers of Addison County, Vermont. Jamien Jacobs teaches middle school science at the Friends School of Portland, in Maine.
1978 Last September, the Natural Resource Council of Maine celebrated its fiftieth anniversary with a five-day canoe trip. Not surprisingly, it was something of a COA reunion. Looking left to right, the second person is Cathy Johnson, the third person (squatting in front) is Garrett Conover '78, Alexandra (Brown) Conover '77 is next to him in front, and Patty (Dodd) Hagge '77 is in the red shirt, looking at Alexandra.
1976 "After a four-year legal battle, the Salvadoran Ministry of Education has ruled in our favor giving Romero University an independent university administration," writes Barbara Dole Acosta ('76). "The corrupt officials have been ousted at last. Now we can begin to launch some creative educational programs that are consistent with the university's original mission of education for social and environmental justice. Our thanks to Rich Borden and Father Jim Gower who have helped us keep our vision clear as we struggled through a very muddy and treacherous path, and to Gray Cox for sharing his wisdom." To bring issues of diversity into the open, Alice Leeds wrote a play for her fifth and sixth graders to perform based on the Julia Alvarez novel Return to Sender. Leeds teaches middle school in rural Vermont. Though it is an area commonly considered as lacking in diversity, recently many undocumented Mexican dairy farm workers, along with their families, have come to live. The novel is about a Vermont family farm and the Mexican workers who help keep it afloat, told through the eyes of a Vermont farm boy and the daughter of a Mexican worker. Says Leeds, "After reading and discussing the book, my students went on to discover how USMexico relations, immigration policy, NAFTA, and Vermont family farms play into the big picture. We considered the
Julie MacLeod Hayes recently married Jim Hayes and moved to a house on nine acres in Eddington. She is anticipating her first grandchild, due in September. Julie still teaches art to elementary students in Bangor, Maine.
After many years of full time parenting and home schooling, Emily (Gloger) Bracale has taken Rodd Pemble ('78) is working as a recya sabbatical to recling manager in Bellingham, Washingcover from chronic ton and enjoying watching his 15-yearLyme disease, rest, old daughter master geometry and and paint. Her mountain biking. show, "In the Lyme-Light: Portraits of Illness and Healing" was exhibited at the Blum Gallery in March. Hana, 14, and John Henry, 6, are being well served by Last October and November, the Emer- the public schools of MDI. son Gallery in Berlin, Germany featured the work of Ellen Sylvarnes, "Everything Megan McOsker completed her masI Found and Endured." Here's what the ter's degree at University of Maine and gallery had to say about it: "Mysteri- is now teaching seventh and eighth ous bottles aligned on a shelf resemble grade science at Conners-Emerson misplaced test tubes or archaeological School in Bar Harbor, where she works artifacts. An appar- with several COA alumni. ently monolithic stone in miniature Evelyn Katarina Walters was joyfully emanates with the welcomed into the world by mother sounds of the Celt- Elena Tuhy-Walters and father Carl ic Sea. Here is an on December 28, 2009 at 2:17 a.m. exhibit offering a Evelyn was 7 lbs. 4 oz. and 9.5 inches new world, at once long at birth. The parents were very disorienting as well grateful for the presence of a doula as inexplicably familiar. The American (birth attendant), which Elena learned artist studied Human Ecology, a field about years ago in an article in COA's at the dividing line between the hard- former alumni newsletter, The Pereer and so-called softer sciences, the grine. Evelyn accompanied her lawyer study of the interrelationship between mom to work for a few weeks before people, society, their surroundings and going into daycare, making her first their natural environment. This explains court appearance at eight weeks; she the virtually laboratory precision with slept through the entire proceeding. which she approaches the material of her work. Her installations and objects work like well-defined experiments, but they also offer as much for the eye Two antique whale skeletons were as they do for the inquisitive mind." installed in the new Northwest Laboratory building at Harvard University by Whales and Nails, the company launched by Daniel DenDanto. The Peter Heller is producing Vanishing specimens, a killer whale and a botof the Bees, a documentary film about tlenose whale, were collected in the honeybee colony collapse disorder. mid- to late-nineteenth century and He calls the film timely, exciting, and taken off display at the Harvard Mua call to action to save the honeybee seum of Comparative Anatomy in the and our food supply.Â The plans are for 1930s. They remained stored in the at-
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tic until Daniel was asked to consider revitalizing them. COA alumni Toby Stephenson '98 and Courtney Vashro '99 assisted with the effort.
well as activities in science communication and art can be seen at www. bangor.ac.uk/~bssc04. All visitors welcome!
one mile down the road to the old cabin, so all their alumni friends now have double the options for where to crash when they come for a visit.
This past March COA hit the radio world in force! Natalie Springuel and husband Rich MacDonald (who offers ornithology sessions at the Dorr Museum each spring) returned for the fourth time to their role of naturalists on board A Prairie Home Companion at Sea. This year's cruise saw them traveling the western Caribbean working with other naturalists from the COA community. From left to right are: Kris Bennett ('95), Courtney Vashro '99, Natalie, COA faculty member Helen Hess, Rich, and Susan Drennen (mother to Matt Drennen '86).
CedarBough Saeji will be conducting field work in Korea as part of her pursuit of a PhD at the University of California Los Angeles.
1992 Jeffrey Miller and Lotte Schlegel were married September 6, 2009 in Damariscotta, Maine at the old family home of Steve Thomas, former COA admissions director. Other COA family and friends in attendance included the late Craig Greene's son Will Greene, a ring bearer, Bo Greene, Suzanne Morse, Ander Thebaud, former student life staff member, and Noreen Hogan '92, photographer. Jeff writes, "The support and hard work of our amazing community of family and friends made our wedding more meaningful than anything we could have imagined."
1993 Jenny Rock has accepted a tenuretrack lectureship at University of Otago New Zealand. Returning to the Zoology Department where she earned her PhD in 1999, she is joining the faculty in the Centre for Science Communication. Her forays in marine and evolutionary biology as
Lexie (Rothstein) Watson continues to run her baked goods business, Little Red Hen. Husband Pat Watson is a project manager at Maine Coast Heritage Trust. They live on the Crooked Road in Bar Harbor with their two children. Eric (Weikart) Wolf has been selected to receive an Oracle Award for Distinguished National Service to the storytelling community by the National Storytelling Network. The award is in recognition of his work as producer and host of the Art of Storytelling with Brother Wolf Show and will be presented this summer on the last evening of the National Storytelling Conference in Los Angeles.
Restructuring Lives: Interviews with Russian Professionals was published in 2009 by Patricia Ciraulo '94, MPhil '05. The book, available at Amazon. com, is a compilation of interviews with Russian professionals from the oral history project Patti conducted during her Watson Fellowship from 1994 to 1995. The interviews focus on the personal experience of these Russians during their nation's historic changes in the early 1990s, and how people deal with change and uncertainty. Each chapter begins with an essay by Patti. Heeth Grantham writes, "I am pleased to report that I entirely avoided the cold Maine winter by working in Egypt. I lived mostly in Cairo for four months while producing episodes for a new History Channel series. While the work was challenging, perhaps my most difficult task was shopping for, and preparing, a traditional New England Christmas dinner. A note to other traveling chefs: some Egyptians are very suspicious about brining a turkey. Endure their skepticism and dark looks, though, and everyone will be happy with the result."
As teammates in a pond hockey tournament, left to right, Dan Farrenkopf, Bob DeForrest '94, Marty Anderson Darrin Kelly has been running his sea '94, several island community mem- kayaking ecotourism company, Ardea bers, and COA faculty member Steve EcoExpeditions for the past six years and recently Ressel on the far right, helped to raise started a masfunds for Camp Capella, a year-round ter's project recreational and educational program in the Parks, for children and adults. Their team, The Recreation Quarrymen, won the first game but lost and Tourism the next two. They intend to be back on Program at the the ice next year. University of Maine. More Heather Martin and Mike Zboray '95 importantly he are attempting an experiment in Huand wife Memane Separation. Dissolving their technical marriage, they continue to parent gan are pleased to announce the birth Eilon, 9, and Tobiah, 6, as a team, and of their son, Finnan Gahl Kelly in April remain each other's support and ally. in St. John, New Brunswick where they Mike continues to enjoy being a princi- reside part time. Once Finn gets a passpal at Connors Emerson School in Bar port they look forward to lots of time Harbor. Heather has joined the devel- paddling in Frenchman Bay and exploropment group at COA. She has moved ing their homestead in Gouldsboro. Class year in parentheses indicates a visitor or student who has not graduated.
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www.coa.edu/alumni Alumni Association Update Your Info Search for Events Find Local Alumni Get Involved Volunteer Contact Dianne Clendaniel 207-801-5624, email@example.com
Career Services Career Information Searchable Database Graduate School Info Job Search Skills Relocation Guidance Contact Jill Barlow-Kelley 207-801-5633, firstname.lastname@example.org
Nicole Cabana and Jay Gallagher are delighted to announce the birth of their daughter, Megan Elizabeth Gallagher, born February 26, 2010. Nicole, Jay, and Megan are currently in Tampa, Florida where Nicole is flying research aircraft for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In his role as a teacher at Ashwood Waldorf School, Jacob Eichenlaub just graduated the class that he taught from first through eighth grade.
On April 7, 2010 Zach Soares and Autumn (Darrell) Soares '01 welThe Living Must Bury, the latest book comed Plum Lilou into the world. She of poetry from Josie Sigler was issued joins older siblings Mason, 7, Piper, 5, in April by Fence Books. It is the win- and Tryg, 2. Zach works at COA, runs ner of the 2010 Motherwell Prize, for a a recording studio at home, and runs first or second full-length collection of a live sound reenforcement business poems by a woman writing in English. specializing in PA systems for concerts The book can be accessed at www. and events. While home-schooling four upne.com/1-934200-36-0.html. kids, Autumn runs Autumn Slings and Things. She makes one-of-a-kind adjustable baby slings, bags, aprons, and other fabric creations that are sold onWith husband Rob, Jaime Duval line, at craft fairs, and at SevenArts in Beranek bought a house and is living in Ellsworth, Maine. Marquette, Michigan, working for the Marquette County Conservation District as their native plants coordinator. They've also added another dog, Doc, Marie Malin begins her new position as to their family, and are enjoying the director of recruitment and admissions splendor of Lake Superior. at the Bangor Theological Seminary this
Shawn, Sarah '05, and son Noah Keeley welcomed a new baby girl, Aliyah, to the world in October. Shawn continues his work as director of development at the Green Mountain Club in VerRyder and Amy (Ferrero) Scott wel- mont and Sarah keeps busy with the comed their second daughter, Grace kids while pursuing her interests when she can. After the Haiti earthquake, Anne Scott, on December 4, 2009. Sarah led a fundraiser and supply collection project for a new birth and health center, the Bumi Sehat Clinic, in Jacmel, Haiti. "We're looking forward Bob Collins, MPhil, brings a focus on to getting back to Acadia as soon as we natural boundaries among people as can!" says Sarah. well as the rhythm and specificity of place to architecture in his firm ARC, Bryan Kiel and www.arc1087.com. Sarah Bevins '01 were married in Jasmine Tanguay and her husband Eric July 2009 with welcomed their son, Xaven Odonata plenty of COA Studer on October 28, 2009. Jasmine posse members on works as a project manager for Conser- hand. They live in Fort Collins, Coloravation Law Foundation Ventures. do. Bryan finished his master's degree
in special education and is teaching high school science. Sarah completed her PhD in ecology and is currently a postdoctoral researcher studying infectious wildlife diseases.
June. She would love to talk with COA alumni that have gone to, or might be interested in, divinity school.
Having recently married, Mindi Meltz Friedwald is busy building an off-grid homestead in the mountains of western North Carolina with her husband. She recently published her novel Beauty, the story of a poet's sensual and romantic awakening as she seeks the unattainable heart of her lover while learning the stories of animals. Mindi is now working on her next novel.
Julia Davis is planning to get married to Andy McLeod this fall. They are looking for land in Maine's midcoast area to start a farm â€” they can't wait to build a house, plant apple trees and settle down. They currently live in Washington, Maine with
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Gabbie, the dog, and Skunk, the kitten. After trying out several careers over the years, Julia now works as the stewardship coordinator and educator for the Damariscotta Lake Watershed Association. She would love to hear from other alumni: email@example.com. Elizabeth O'Leary was second author of "Phylogenetic Distribution and Identification of Fin-winged Fruits" published in Botanical Review, 76:1, 1-82. While teaching Spanish at the Boys Latin School of Maryland, Kristen Tubman is also promoting social and environmental awareness and positive change.
Allison Rogers Furbish is enjoying life with husband Shawn and new baby Amelia, born February 28, 2010.
2006 Jeanne Lambert has completed her MFA in design at the University of Texas. Her thesis exhibition investigated the capacity of book design to draw our attention to the often-overlooked magic in the mundane. She is moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico to work at the exhibition design firm Andrew Merriell and Associates.
2007 Laura Briscoe and Matt Lavoie were married June 21, 2009, on Antelope Island in the middle of the Great Salt Lake. They are now living in Chicago, where Laura works at the Field Museum as a research/collections assistant in the botany department, and Matt works at a preschool and afterschool program. Matt is enrolled in the Arcturus Waldorf teacher training program, and Laura has been admitted to the master's program in plant biology and conservation at Northwestern University, where she will continue her study of liverworts with fieldwork in Chile. Anna Goldman recently moved to Clanshaven Farm, her family's fifty-acre plot in Kansasville, Wisconsin. She is working to turn it into an organic farm.
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Sarah Haughn and Wanyakha Timbiti Moses are the awed and thrilled parents of Nora Rose Nabushawo, born on April 3, 2010. Despite arriving five weeks early, she greeted the world in perfect health weighing 6 pounds 13 ounces.
2009 Joanna Cosgrove is spearheading a new community garden project in Baltimore, Maryland. From the Mahindra United World College of India, Michael Griffith writes, "I've been very well, enjoying the busiest and most adventure-filled year of my life. I was recently given a new position. I'm going to head MUWCI's revamped co-curricular program, Triveni, in addition to teaching what will now be a half-load of English. My job is supporting student self development, and my title is almost too bombastic to repeat: Head of Experiential and Community Learning."
2010 On December 22, 2009, Kyra Sparrow-Pepin Chapin and Miles W. Sparrow-Pepin Chapin were married at the Mountain Top Inn in Chittenden, Vermont. It was an intimate fireside wedding; the bride and groom were surrounded by family and friends including fellow COA students and alumni Cora Sellers, Evelyn Sandusky, Noah Kleiner, Evan Griffith '11, Tasha Ball '12, Aly Bell, Mikus Abolins-Abols, and Megan Williams '09.
Faculty & Community Notes In addition to those reported elsewhere, Tom Adelman, grants manager, notes the following grants to COA: a grant from the Partridge Foundation for $43,325 to cover capital improvements at Beech Hill Farm; and two grants from the Maine Space Grant Consortium: $6,000 for first-year scholarships and another for $5,000 for faculty members Nishanta Rajakaruna '94 and John Anderson to study the repopulation of
Mt. Desert Rock plant communities in the wake of Hurricane Bill last August. Allied Whale co-hosted the Northeast Regional Stranding Conference in Bar Harbor May 6â€“9 with the Maine Department of Marine Resources, and the Marine Animal Rehabilitation Center at the University of New England. Sean Todd, who directs Allied Whale, served as scientific chair. Steve Katona, former COA president, presented a paper and Bill McLellan '88, North Carolina State Stranding Coordinator, gave a whale necropsy workshop. The conference was organized by COA MPhil candidate Jacqueline Bort.
In February, John Anderson, the William H. Drury, Jr. Chair in Evolution, Ecology and Natural History, was formally initiated into the Linnean Society in London under the gaze of the portraits of ("I hope approving") Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace. The Linnean Society is where both naturalists' original papers on natural selection were first read. The book John signed as an inductee would have been signed by both Darwin and Wallace. While in England John visited Selborne, the home of noted nineteenth century naturalist Gilbert White for a book project, and examined letters and sermons by White at the Linnean Society. He had lunch with Amanda Muscat '06, who is completing her PhD at the University of Southhampton examining illegal immigration into her native Malta. He also had dinner with Jennifer Rock '93. Week Three of her first term at COA, Molly Anderson, the Partridge Chair in Food and Sustainable Agriculture Systems, gave the keynote address at COA's Earth Day celebration: "Is Sustainability for Sale? The Role of Consumption in Sustainability." She also met in New York with local grassroots food justice activists, the Secretary General of FoodFirst International Action Network, and others from the United States and the European Union for a discussion of international cooperation to promote food sovereignty and food rights.
Faculty & Community Notes Nancy Andrews and Dru Colbert, both faculty members in art and design, spent time in Vichy, France over spring break, preparing for an anticipated COA art and language program there next spring. Nancy enrolled in an intensive French language class at Cavilam, where a group of COA students are spending spring term (see Gray Cox, below) while Dru looked into resources for teaching and art making in Vichy. Nancy reports that "for teaching and learning in Vichy, the chocolate éclairs and the wine were quite adequate."
are Bill's "The Ecuadorian Sailors," and "Rain." For those curious about "Rain," Brian Brodeur features an interview with Bill in his blog, "How a Poem Happens:" http://howapoemhappens. blogspot.com/2010/03/william-carpenter.html. Also, Bill's poem "Luke" was published in Redactions: Poetry & Poetics, Issue 12. Finally, over spring break Bill marked the steps of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Raskolnikov from garret slum to pawnbroker's apartment in St. Petersburg, Russia. All 730 of them. He reports that should you be interested in doing some participant-observation, an apartment in Raskolnikov's complex will set you back about $200,000. Presumably the holes — so perfect for hiding stolen goods — have been repaired.
Thanks to a nomination by Earl Brechlin, who teaches journalism at COA and is otherwise known as the editor of the Mount Desert Islander, MPhil candidate Jack Rodilico received the Maine Library Association Award for Journalism in 2009 for his article, "Jesup Director to Walk Off," about the retirement of Jesup Library director Nancy Howland after twenty-nine years.
Don Cass, faculty member in chemistry, spent an evening at the Challenger (as in space shuttle) Learning Center in Bangor, Maine, talking chemistry and doing demonstrations with some eighty children from grades 1–12 as part of the center's bi-monthly "Expanding Your Understanding" series. The invitation came from Jennifer (Weston) Therrien '97, who took Chemistry for Consumers from Don years ago and now works at the center. "I mostly tried to get them to think about how stuff is different from other stuff — and why — and why anyone would care. Don't ask me why, but it was apparently record attendance!"
Dru Colbert, faculty member in art and design, has been quite busy with museum work. Her winter class, Curiosity and Wonder, created a delightfully humorous and enlightening exhibit, "It's a Bugs' World" at the George B. Dorr Museum of Natural History. She has also been working with the Abbe Museum on the development of an exhibition on Indians and Rusticators as part of a three-part series of exhibitions entitled "Indians in Eden." (In the photo, Anna Stunkel '13 stands next to the exhibit she created.)
COA's inaugural holder of the David Rockefeller Family Chair in Ecosystem Management and Protection, Ken Cline, along with Doreen Stabinsky, faculty member in International Studies, and Global Environmental Politics joined COA students for an intense time at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen last December. Ken later presented on the events in Copenhagen at the Schoodic Education and Research Center and to COA faculty. Cline also talked about conservation opportunities in the Maine woods coming out of his work with the Keeping Maine's Forests Forests, in conjunction with a showing
Gray Cox, faculty member in political economics, is teaching "Doing Human Ecology in Cross-cultural Contexts: France" as part of an immersion program he is overseeing in Vichy, France, this spring in collaboration with Cavilam University www. caviliam.com. Students take classes in French at their level for eight weeks, then spend two weeks in a service‑learning
More library news, this from our own Thorndike Library. Trisha Cantwell Keene, associate library director, finally admits that she has been the treasurer of the Maine Library Association's Scholarship and Loan Committee — for a full dozen years! Bill Carpenter, faculty member in literature and creative writing is now out on CD! Or sort of. Composer Tom Cipullo has long been creating contemporary classical song settings of Bill's poems and recently issued the album Landscape with Figures on Albany Records. In a review, The New York Times writes, "The most impressive piece was the last: Tom Cipullo's Landscape with Figures, setting a narrative poem by William Carpenter about a family afternoon, with the roles of father and son halfenacted in the vocal lines for baritone and boy soprano." Also on this album
of the film Northrunner at Reel Pizza. In the photo are some of the students and alumni who were in Copenhagen. (Standing, rear:) Nina Therkildsen '05, Michael Keller '09, Cory Whitney '03, Juan Hoffmaister '07, (Sitting, back:) Andrew Louw '11, Taj Schotland '10, Richard Van Kampen '12, Oliver Bruce '10, Nina's friend Mads Ville Markussen, Noah Hodgetts '10, Matt McInnis '09; (Front:) Barry Fischer of SustainUS, Ken, Doreen, Sarah Nielson '09, Emily Postman '12, Geena Berry '10 and Lindsay Britton '12.
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David Hales, COA president, served on a panel at RETECH 2010, Renewable Energy Technology Conference in Washington, DC in February. In March, he gave a speech at the annual awards dinner of the New England Board of Higher Education as he and Ken Hill, academic dean and faculty member in education and psychology, accepted the Robert J. McKenna Last December, Dave Feldman, faculty Award for Program Excellence. David member in math and physics, gave a also chaired an accreditation visit of fractals workshop in Houlton, Maine Goddard College in Vermont for the for a group of high school math and New England Association of Schools science teachers as part of the Southern and Colleges. In April, he spoke to the Aroostook Math and Science Partner- Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce as ship. He was also an invited participant part of COA's offering of cfl bulbs and in a two-day workshop at the Santa Fe battery recycling to chamber members. Institute, where he is co-director of the He also facilitated at the NEBHE Sussummer school, to brainstorm ideas for tainability Summit. David continues to undergraduate curricula and textbooks be a Washington Post Planet Panelist. in the interdisciplinary area of complex Keep up with his essays at http://views. systems. washingtonpost.com/climate-change/ panelists/david_hales/. project in the community. All students live with families and take part in various cultural activities. Also, thanks to the hard work of Gray, COA received a grant from the Department of Energy's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, or EPSCoR, for $116,763 to cover three forms of sustainability research in Hancock County.
In February, Jay Friedlander, the Sharpe-McNally Chair in Green and Socially Responsible Business, and Kate Macko, Sustainable Business Program administrator, accompanied seven students to Washington, DC for the Ashoka Changemaker Conference, a TEDx event (as in the nonprofit TED: focused on ideas worth spreading). COA was chosen by Ashoka as one of five campuses to participate in this selective DC program, where they met with participants from other changemaker campuses. In March, the Sustainable Business Program received a $73,501 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development program to enhance the program and extend an even stronger hand to the local community than it has in the past, with free classes to some Hancock County residents, funding of seminars and other outreach assistance for the Sustainable Ventures Incubator. In the photo, from left to right, are: Jay and Kate, in the back, and Kate Christian '10, Rachel Heasley '11, Nick Harris '12, Lisa Bjerke '13, Joslyn Richardson '12, Julia de Santis '12, and Noah Hodgets '10. 48 | COA
of the Guatemalan Scholars' Network, the preeminent scholarly organization nurturing research on Guatemala and advocating on behalf of Guatemalan human rights, and additionally served as an informal consultant for the Maya Educational Foundation.
Nishanta Rajakaruna '94 is back in Faculty & Community Notes again, since he's returning to COA in the fall! In December, Soil and Biota of Serpentine: A World View. Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Serpentine Ecology, a 450-page collection edited by Rajakaruna and Robert S. Boyd of Alabama's Auburn University, was released. It includes presentations from the June 2008 conference on serpentine ecology held at COA. Among the papers is one co-written with Tanner Harris '07, now an MS candidate at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, noting four species that are specific to serpentine soil in eastern At a recent conference run by Lyrasis, North America. The book was pubthe nation's largest regional member- lished by the Humboldt Field Research ship organization serving libraries and Institute, Steuben, Maine. Rajakaruna's information professionals, Thorndike research on plant-soil relations was Library Director Jane Hultberg co- featured in the University of San Jose presented with a Lyrasis staff member. College of Science newsletter last fall. The talk, "Libraries in Facebook: Ap- Also last fall, his article, "Ornithocoproplications, FBML and the College of philous Plants of Mount Desert Rock, a the Atlantic Experience," was on cus- Remote Bird-Nesting Island in the Gulf tomizing Facebook pages and the use of Maine," was published in Rhodora, of social media for libraries. You can Vol. 111, #948 by the New England see some of it at www.slideshare.net/ Botanical Club. This article was coausspohnjr/facebook-libraries-and-fbml. thored by Nathaniel Pope '07, Jose The Thorndike Library has been busy Perez-Orozco '09, and Tanner. getting COA documents scanned and online at www.archive.org. When you In March, Stephen Ressel, faculty visit the site, search "College of the At- member in biology, presented a talk at lantic." Keep returning, as senior proj- Prescott College titled "A Race Against Time: The ecology and conservation of ects are currently going up. vernal pools in New England" as part of During his time Prescott College's annual spring Enviin the Yucatan ronmental Studies Speakers Series. He this winter, Todd also spent a day in the field at Aqua Fria Little-Siebold, fac- National Monument with the Natural ulty member in History and Ecology of the Southwest history, was invited course taught by Prescott faculty memto talk to the fac- ber Tom Fleischner. Steve's invitation ulty council of the Universidad Inter- was part of a new EcoLeague initiative cultural Maya de Quintana Roo. His to promote faculty exchanges among presentation, "Alternative Education in member institutions. Mexico and the United States: Reflections on the Experience of College of Toby Stephenson '98, curator and dithe Atlantic," resulted in a lively discus- rector of COA's Bar Harbor Whale Musion on self-directed education and the seum in downtown Bar Harbor, spent ways in which the experience of COA much of the winter working feverishly might be relevant to this three-year-old, on the new Adaptations exhibit for state-sponsored institution. Also, Todd the museum, which opens June 10. was elected to the steering committee This exhibit is the result of an educa-
Faculty & Community Notes tion grant from the Maine Community Foundation to thematically link the exhibits of three Bar Harbor museums — the Whale Museum, the George B. Dorr Museum of Natural History and the Abbe Museum — so teachers can bring students to local museums for a more comprehensive educational experience. Bonnie Tai, faculty member in education, spent the last weekend in March in Santa Fe, New Mexico for the second annual meeting of the Education Circle of Change, a group of thirty-three educators, activists, and youth organizers from Atlanta, Georgia to Oakland, California who are building a movement to transform education. Over spring break, Davis Taylor, faculty member in economics, took seven members of the COA Economics Forum to New York City. The students visited the New York Federal Reserve, Goldman-Sachs, asset management company W.P. Stewart, the Museum of American Finance, and the Skyscraper Museum. They also met with David Katona, a principal of Spruce Point Capital Management and son of former COA President Steve Katona and former faculty member Susan Lerner. Davis also spent ten days of his fall sabbatical teaching and giving workshops on economics and sustainability at the Chewonki Semester School in Wiscasset, Maine, facilitated by Marjolaine
Wittlesey '05 and Margaret (Youngs) Coleman '96, farm manager. Sean Todd, the Steven K. Katona Chair in Marine Studies, presented a summary of collaboration between COA, the Maine Department of Marine Resources and The Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company to the Zoology Department at the University of British Columbia. The talk was called "Use of inshore Maine waters by baleen whales: implications for conservation management." He also served on the organizational committee for the National Stranding Conference in West Virginia in April, where he co-chaired and taught an instructional workshop titled "Research Design and How to Answer Research Questions — Project Design and Statistics." Along with Rosemary Seton, Allied Whale research assistant and marine mammal stranding coordinator, and stranding veterinarian Katherine Prunier, Sean received advanced training in necropsy and beach response at the conference. He's also gearing up for repairs to Mt. Desert Rock following the ravages of Hurricane Bill last August (see COA Fall, 2009). A full research season is being planned for the rock. Meanwhile, Sean worked as an expert advisor, and served on a panel for a Portland, Maine performance of the cantata Jonah and the Whale by Dominick Argento. On sabbatical, Karen Waldron, faculty member in literature, presented a paper at the Popular Culture Association in St. Louis inspired by her course, "The Purloined Poe," which used Edgar Allen Poe's works and the anthology,
The Purloined Poe: Lacan, Derrida, and Psychoanalytic Reading, edited by John P. Muller and William J. Richardson, to investigate the relation between psychoanalysis and literary criticism. Karen's paper derives from student responses, which were largely aesthetic, seeking to recover literary analysis from the psychoanalytic. She also chaired a seminar titled "Urban Places: The Literary Ecology of American Cities" at the Northeast Modern Language Association conference in Montreal, Quebec. This project works on theorizing the practice of literary ecology in American literary studies, and follows on a seminar Karen chaired at the 2009 NEMLA conference. At the same conference, Karen presented a paper on the teaching of Native American literature: "The Christian Indians: Wrestling with Conversion in the Native American Literature Classroom," for a panel seeking to explore challenges in the teaching of Native American Literature. Says Karen, "I am using my COA experience to consider how best to pedagogically, literarily, and historically approach the realities of the fact that 'Native American Literature' as it currently exists is largely the result of a complex process of many different cultures learning English by force, creating a pan-Indian identity, shifting from oral to written cultures, and becoming Christian through missions."
In Memoriam: Martin Koeppl I was saddened recently to learn that Martin Koeppl, faculty member in media arts and environmental education at COA from 1990 to 1996, lost his battle with cancer last December 21. I was an undergraduate at the college during Martin's years here and valued him highly as a teacher and as a friend. Martin was instrumental in introducing me to the world of film theory, a subject I now teach at COA. Although I had not been in touch with Martin for many years, I have frequently thought of him when revisiting with my own students texts he first introduced me to, or when finally, joyously, tracking down one of the "lost" films he described to me. Giving myself over to Rainer Werner Maria Fassbinder's Berlin Alexanderplatz (fifteen hours) and Edgar Reitz's Heimat trilogy (fifty-two hours), after fifteen years of searching for and imagining them, was one of the most powerful experiences of my life — a passage through a door long held open with promise. In preparing this piece I went through many of the texts Martin had us read, looking for a quote I could use to pay tribute to his intellect; but what I kept coming back to, unbidden, was the warm, poetic humanism of Wim Wenders' Der Himmel über Berlin (literally "The Sky over Berlin," released in the United States as Wings of Desire). This film resonates with the same combination of gentleness, introspection, insight, and passion that I valued in Martin. As angel-turned-human Peter Falk says to the curious, invisible companion whose presence he senses and for whom he encourages a dive into the painful, joyful world of human existence: "I can't see you but I know you're there, Compañero." ~ Colin Capers '95, MPhil '08, lecturer in writing, composition, and film COA | 49
Todd West '00
In 2007, just seven years after Todd West graduated from College of the Atlantic with a teaching cetificate, he became principal of the Deer Isle-Stonington High School. His only prior administrative job was as head of the social studies department of Mount In a scene reminiscent of Take-A-Break, Principal Todd Desert Island High School, where he began volunWest sits with his students at Deer Isle-Stonington High teering in his third year at COA. Despite his youth School. Photo courtesy of The Ellsworth American. and administrative inexperience, when Deer IsleStonington was deemed one of Maine's "persistently lowest-achieving schools" in March and offered two million dollars by the federal government if it changed principals, Superintendent Bob Webster refused. His words: "I don't care how much money they've got, I think Todd's doing a great job and we're not going to replace him."* Q: Is your school failing? A: Many Maine schools struggle with low aspirations, high numbers of disengaged kids, dysfunctional families, kids with substance abuse issues, parents with substance abuse issues. Five years ago, "low achieving" would have been accurate, but we've made effective gains that are greater than other schools in the state. Q: Can you, as principal, make a difference? A: Deer Isle and Stonington are small, close-knit communities and that carries over to the school. The level of dedication of the teachers is amazing. Most students know we care and want to help them do well. It's up to the teachers to be very creative and engage kids who are sitting in class thinking about the number of [lobster] traps they could be hauling and the amount of money they could be making. How can we make school relevant? How can geometry be beneficial, or reading a classic? I need to get the teachers in the right place to do that. Q: And how do you do that? A: We talk about what we want for our kids, which is primarily to be prepared to do what they want to do. We change the focus from teaching to learning. A big part of my job is helping teachers continue to learn, and this staff, in particular, is really willing to change if we give them a compelling reason. Q: What do you see as your most important achievement? A: Changing cultures. Changing the culture of students â€” there was a wild discipline situation here â€” and the longer-term culture of building aspirations, changing the teaching culture to a collaborative practice focused on learning, and changing longstanding community expectations and relations with the school. Q: Is there something in your character that generates this success? A: Some of it has to do with values. I made it clear very early that I was very dedicated to these kids learning and succeeding, and I supported that across all venues: teachers, students, parents. It builds a little trust that this guy from away might actually be here for the right reasons. It's been hard work. Q: Did your experience at COA help you? A: A principal has to see the school as a system; it's all connected, if you make changes in one area, it causes changes elsewhere. I'm looking at numerous perspectives on the big picture â€” students, parents, community members, and how changes will impact professional development, given a limited set of resources. Being immersed for four years in a college that looks at things from different perspectives couldn't help but influence how I approach this job. Clearly, too, part of what COA teaches is to be courageous and advocate for what you think is right. *For now, the school has made an arrangement to keep West on and still receive the federal funding. 50 | COA
revisited The Human Ecology Essay
Human Ecology in My Real World By Jenn Atkinson '03
Welcome to southwest Idaho. Climate: Four seasons, right on schedule. Landscape: High desert plains. Population: Sparse once you drive twenty minutes â€” in any direction â€” outside of the Boise Metro Area. Politics: Rugged individualism. Demographics: Predominantly white, though a healthy stream of refugees is steadily increasing our diversity. Economy: Struggling to successfully adapt from resource-dependent to resource-related (aren't we all?). I was born here. I went to COA. I came back. For over a decade I have been interested in the relationship between social systems and physical infrastructure development. Specifically, I like to think about how people consciously and unconsciously design both to accommodate our fluctuating desire for autonomy and our fluctuating need for security. Tourism is one of my favorite examples of how the autonomy-security grapple plays out through infrastructure design and social networks. As tourists, we'd like to think we are experiencing a place by interacting with the truest form of that place on our own terms. But we'd like to be safe from things like disease, war, and theft, too. Every tourist has a desire for a certain level of autonomy and a need for a specific level of security. Designing physical infrastructure that can accommodate the spectrum of tourist needs and desires is wonderfully complicated. Who owns the infrastructure? Who benefits from the tourism? In most cases these are conflicting interests (think Las Vegas, Cancun, Machu Picchu). The result is haphazard development, strained infrastructure, low-wage jobs, community resentment, and a gradual loss of the sense of place that tourists are seeking. Eco/green/sustainable/adventure/nature/culturaltourism adds an entirely new level to the equation. While tourists are coming to see an ever-changing nature, to be successful (where success equals economic, community, and environmental vitality), a
very conscious design of the infrastructure is necessary and a very conscious design of social interaction is necessary. But what does it mean to have a conscious management of nature? Economy. Community. Environment. The triple helix of human ecology in my real world. In southwest Idaho, I'm addressing the same questions I posed in my senior project at COA, only now I'm a professional land use planner with three years of experience working in rural community development. In southwest Idaho, planners are no longer talking about community development and economic development as independent efforts. The conversation is about community economic development. The relationships among economy, community, and land use cannot be ignored. All climates are changing here: the seasons are no longer always right on time, landscapes are dotted with empty or half-finished developments; rural no longer means isolated. But we're learning as we change. Rugged individualism can support comprehensive planning. A conservative government will support public-private partnerships. In Idaho, the place of government is to provide necessary services: water, sewer, transportation. Economic, community, and environmental health are largely left up to those who stand to benefit: people with a desire for a certain level of autonomy and a certain level of security. Now more than ever there is a need for professionals who understand the complexity of dynamic systems and who have a passion for facilitating the global transition to more sustainable economies and communities. Within the urban and rural planning profession, human ecology has a lot to offer. Southwest Idaho welcomes human ecologists. Jenn Atkinson manages the Planning & Development Services Department at the southwest Idaho Economic Development District, Sage Community Resources. COA | 49