COA Volume 7 | Number 1 | Spring 2011
COA Announces a New President Darron Collins ’92 — see page 2
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 the expertise, breadth, values, and practical experience necessary to achieve individual fulfillment and to help solve problems that challenge communities everywhere. Front Cover Students take the rapids in Ken Cline’s Whitewater/White Paper class. See page 19 for our feature story on COA’s experiential classrooms. Photo by Lauren Nutter ’10.
For the Shadow, by Aishath Loofa Mohamed ’11 for her senior project exhibit, Duality, which was dedicated to the feminine shadow and feminine power and beauty.
COA is published biannually for the College of the Atlantic community. Please send ideas, letters, and submissions (short stories, poetry, and revisits to human ecology essays) to: COA Magazine College of the Atlantic 105 Eden St, Bar Harbor, ME 04609 firstname.lastname@example.org
Letter from the Editor Congratulations COA! Soon we will have one of our own as president. By choosing Darron Collins ’92 as our next president, COA is not only endorsing a young, energetic man with great ideas—we’re endorsing ourselves. It’s especially meaningful given that COA’s first four presidents had Harvard connections. In fact, I seem to recall an early article about COA describing our founders as something like “disgruntled Harvard types.” Don’t get me wrong. Our Harvard leaders have done well by COA. Thinking of their contributions, Ed Kaelber first helped to shape us; Judith Swazey challenged us; Lou Rabineau helped restore us; and Steve Katona shepherded us into a sense of true security. Moving on from Harvard, David Hales brought us national and even international renown and Andy Griffiths, during his short tenure, helped keep us on an even keel. But now we have one of our own. Someone with human ecology in his veins; someone who will continue the experiment. The letter I originally wrote for this page—before we had an announcement of a new president—focused on our main story, COA’s experiential approach to education. What synchronicity! Darron is such a believer in engaged education that he actually created one of the classes we happened to include in this issue. As most of you know, a COA education demands more of students than reading and repeating. Our students are digging hands into dirt, dissecting fruits and seals, writing poetry, composing music, talking to citizens about changes they might like to see in their community, building an electric car, intensely debating texts—and paddling down rivers. Our students become immersed in their studies; sometimes literally; always figuratively. This engagement does more than teach students the subject matter of the course; it does more even than invest those ideas into their bodies; the engagement challenges students to go forth and interrogate, explore and create—to find their own means of learning. Just ask Darron. As we grow in years and students and programs, as we change leaders, and then change them again, there’s an increasing possibility that the individual elements that together form COA—as a mission, as a community and as a pedagogy—will fall by the wayside. But Darron embodies every one of the elements that shape COA: Energetic. Enthusiastic. Experimental. Experiential. Egalitarian. What a way to begin our fifth decade! PS: As you read about COA’s kaleidoscopic approach to experiential education—an approach as varied and multilayered as the COA community itself—notice please, how many of these articles are written by current COA students. They make me so proud!
Printed on recycled paper with vegetable-based inks on equipment using 100% wind-generated power.
Donna Gold, COA Editor
COA Beat Darron Collins ’92, COA’s Next President 2 Student Honors and Deep Gratitudes 4 In Celebration of a Consummate Teacher: Judith Cox 7 An appreciation by Amy Hoffmaster ’06 The Sea and Everything In It 8 Evelyn Smith ’11 and the Penobscot East Resource Center Youth Inspirations 9 By Watson Fellow Lauren Nutter ’10 Staff Profile 11 Marie Stivers Donor Profile 12 Polly Guth Oral History 13 Rich Borden: A love relationship from the beginning Autumn, Maine 15 By Caitlin Thurrell ’11
The College of the Atlantic Magazine Volume 7 | Number 1 | Spring 2011 Donna Gold
Sarah Haughn ’08 copy editing
Rebecca Hope Woods designer
J.S. McCarthy Printers Augusta, Maine printer
Jill Barlow-Kelley Dianne Clendaniel editorial guidance
Heather Albert-Knopp ’99 John Anderson Rich Borden Lynn Boulger Catherine Clinger Julia De Santis ’12 Jennifer Hughes Jabulile Mickle Molefe ’14
coa administration Andrew Griffiths
interim president and administrative dean
dean of admission
COA’s Experiential Classroom
Challenging Beliefs: The Team-Taught Newfoundland class Nishanta Rajakaruna’s Delectable Education
dean of development
associate dean for faculty
A Passion for Rivers: Whitewater/Whitepaper with Ken Cline
Collective Meandering: Bill Carpenter’s Bread, Love and Dreams
Dru Colbert: Encouraging Curiosity and Wonder In Doing Nothing, Everything is Done: John Visvader’s Philosophy in Action In the Tracks of Winter: Steve Ressel Takes Ecology to the Extreme The Predictable and the Uncomfortable: COA’s Outdoor Program Jay Friedlander: Launching Sustainable Ventures Todd Little-Siebold: Local Apples and Global History
associate dean of student life associate dean for advanced studies
coa Board of Trustees chairman
William G. Foulke, Jr.
Leslie C. Brewer
Elizabeth D. Hodder vice chair
Kneading Across Cultures: Suzanne Morse’s Our Daily Bread
Catherine Clinger Carves into Art History: Art Since 1900
Poetry 34 Obade by Jabulile Mickle Molefe ’14 Bog Boots by Ivy Sienkiewycz ’14 Smoke by Hazel Jacoby ’14 Someone by Alonso Diaz Rickards ’12 In Memoriam 36 Alumni Notes 39 Alumni Donor Profile 43 Sonja Johanson ’95 Faculty & Community Notes 44 Q&A with Jennifer Prediger ’99 48 Human Ecology Essay Revisited 49 On Changing the World by David Winship ’77
Nikhit D’Sa ’06 Dianna Emory Amy Yeager Geier
Ronald E. Beard
George B.E. Hambleton
Philip B. Kunhardt III ’77
William N. Thorndike, Jr. Suzanne Folds McCullough Sarah A. McDaniel ’93 life trustees
James M. Gower Samuel M. Hamill, Jr. John N. Kelly Susan Storey Lyman William V.P. Newlin John Reeves Henry D. Sharpe, Jr. Clyde E. Shorey, Jr.
Jay McNally ’84 Philip S.J. Moriarty Phyllis Anina Moriarty Helen Porter Hamilton Robinson, Jr. Nadia Rosenthal Marthann Lauver Samek Henry L.P. Schmelzer
David Hackett Fischer Sherry F. Huber Daniel Pierce Cathy L. Ramsdell ’78 John Wilmerding
Joan Van der Grift Paul Van der Grift Cody van Heerden
COA Chooses a President — And He’s One of Our Own! Darron Collins ’92: COA’s Next President By Donna Gold (Commentary in italics by Darron)
Darron Collins, who starts as COA’s next president on July 15, is the epitome of a human ecologist. He came to COA as a first-generation college student interested in wolf biology. I wasn’t really clear on what human ecology was, but I had a real hankering for wolves. Though he received a Goldwater Scholarship, given to outstanding students in the sciences, Darron also studied public policy and law with Ken Cline. His senior project was the creation of the Whitewater/ Whitepaper class which he team-taught with Ken (see page 22). A portion of my brain is still stuffed with those days, but the spring of 1992 was C-O-L-D. Darron received a Watson Fellowship and studied the social and environmental impacts of hydroelectric dams. Most of his travel was in Latin America, which so captivated him that he headed to Tulane University for a master’s degree in Latin American Studies and remained to obtain a PhD in anthropology. In the process Darron became fluent in Spanish and Q’eqchi’ Maya. Ma sa’a la ch’ol? (How’s it going?) Science, policy, rivers, dams, anthropology, languages, exploration. And when Darron spoke to the community in a packed Gates Community Center, he emphasized the arts. The conservation leaders of the next decade must be skilled designers and artists. He also spoke about how much he loved COA. 2 | COA
What I actually said was, “There is no institution I believe more strongly in.” It’s not quite grammatically correct, but it comes from my heart. For ten years Darron worked with the World Wildlife Fund, most recently as managing director of creative assets, where he focused on improving WWF’s ability to tell stories, reach new audiences, and raise more money. An expert in ethnobotany, he previously oversaw WWF’s conservation program in the Amur watershed of Mongolia, northeast China and the Russian Far East. Before that, he was the regional forest coordinator for Latin America and also played a key role in developing WWF’s 2015 goals and strategy. Mongolia is one of the most amazing places on the planet. As befits a human ecologist, Darron has always focused on the human side of conservation, trying to answer the question, “How can we meet the needs of human communities while improving the ecological integrity of the surrounding ecosystem?” I hope someone pushes me on what “ecological integrity” means. I know Bill Drury would have. Collins has written and designed presentations for the popular internet-based TED series (featuring “ideas worth spreading”), created the award-winning film Amur River Basin: Sanctuary for the Mighty Taimen, and is currently working on an IMAX film about Siberia’s Lake Baikal. Most lakes are temporary features in the landscape— Baikal has been around for twenty-five million years!
COA Beat In his public presentation at COA, Darron offered a top-ten list of what’s important for the college—much of it reflecting his definition of human ecology as an engaged manner of learning, a value judgment for making the world better, and a way of engaging with one’s self, each other, and the natural world. I really like the analogy with a blacksmith shop— human ecology has to be physical as well as mental. Darron’s top-ten list began with Number 11: Humor. Self-explanatory. He then continued with the call to “continue the experiment.” Point being, we can be amazingly successful and continue to be an experimental college. Experiment=good. Some of Darron’s other concerns included “honing the brand,” or understanding how we’re differ-
ent from other colleges, broadening partnerships, continuing our efforts at campus sustainability, and COA’s particular experiential pedagogy, especially encouraging learning with both minds and bodies. I loved the challenges thrown back by the students regarding the concept of “brand.” Finally, Darron stressed the need to raise new levels of funding and to hold sacred the magical connection between faculty and students. If I had to describe my new job in one sentence, that would be pretty close. Originally from Morris Plains, New Jersey, Darron has worked with WWF from Decatur, Georgia, where he has lived with his wife, Karen, and daughters Maggie, 10, and Molly, 8. But no longer. Come July, the family will be living on Mt. Desert Island. Welcome back! Thank you!
acting president, administrative dean By Donna Gold Andy Griffiths came to COA in 2005, having retired as treasurer and vice president for finance and administration at WGBH, the public broadcaster in Boston. He so gained the respect of the college that when former President David Hales stepped down last December, Andy was the clear choice to become interim president. Right from the start, Andy keyed into COA’s idealism. He recalls presiding over a review of hiring priorities at an early personnel meeting: “I wasn’t quite sure how real the sense of community spirit was. I thought, if there’s anything that’s territorial, it’s staffing support.” But no one argued for support in their own area. The committee agreed that Millard Dority of buildings and grounds most needed help—though no one from B&G was at the meeting. “It was a strong introduction into how thoughtful people here are and how much they believe in this sense of community.” That very day Andy attended an All College Meeting and was struck by how attentive and eager to learn the students were; so different from his memories of students speaking just to prove what they knew—or what others didn’t know. It takes a listener to make such judgments, and Andy has a particular way of listening—you can almost watch him make notes in his head. When he comes to an understanding, a smile cracks onto his lips. Still he listens, waiting his turn.
How did he come by this attentiveness? Andy speaks of three life events, beginning with his first job at an engineering firm doing research for the Navy. As the Vietnam War escalated, both he and Dave Dayton, a mentor and VP at the firm, grew uncomfortable with the work. Dave invited Andy to join him in starting a new company; together they launched a Massachusetts prison job training nonprofit, leading Andy into nonprofits and eventually finance management. Then tragedy struck; his young son had an incurable blood disease, living only six years. “Up to that point I had very few problems,” says Andy. “School had been easy; I was happily married with a son and a daughter; our nonprofit felt like a family.” He takes a breath. “It sounds odd, but in some respects it was a beautiful experience to face a disaster and be thrown together with people who wanted to help. It forced me to think beyond my immediate issues.” Andy’s third encounter was working with Henry Becton, WGBH’s president. “Henry is one of the smartest people I ever met. How he managed problems had an enormous impact on me. He was very objective at looking at tradeoffs, both benefits and risks. He didn’t look for the perfect answer, but considered all factors and almost always chose a path that worked.” Knowing how gracefully Andy has navigated the college through sticky economic times and the recent presidential transition, he could be talking about himself. Only he wouldn’t. COA | 3
Student Honors Watson Fellow Blake Davis ’11
At last count Blake Davis has made 14,121 fly fishing lures. Selling these intricacies of thread, feather, and fur has taken him through high school and college. In just a few weeks, they will lead him to Australia, India, and Costa Rica in pursuit of his project, The Culture and Evolution of Fly Fishing Techniques. As a recipient of a 2011 Watson Fellowship from the Thomas J. Watson Foundation, Blake will explore how fly fishing has evolved from an elite sport in pristine locales to one enjoyed by multitudes in urban settings. This year nearly 150 students were nominated for the foundation’s forty fellowships and their $25,000 travel stipends.
Goldwater Scholar Franklin Jacoby ’12
The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation offers merit scholarships to second- and third-year college students planning careers in science and math. Franklin Jacoby, a dedicated scientist planning to obtain a doctorate in biology, is also a focused naturalist with many seasons of field research under his belt. Homeschooled on a family farm in rural, downeast Maine, Franklin credits years of hard, self-directed work in the natural world for his fascination with biology. Nearly 1,100 students were nominated for the $7,500 Goldwater scholarship this year; only 275 were awarded.
Projects for Peace Samuli Sinisalo ’12
Samuli Sinisalo hopes to increase youth engagement in his homeland of Finland this summer through Mundus Socialis, a nine-day camp he has helped organize. Through discussions, games, and interactive workshops, the campers will explore topics such as civic participation, the environment, human rights, and the economy. Samuli hopes the camp “will help create a mindset for peace,” encouraging young people “to question, challenge, and act on social policies instead of passively accepting them.” He received nearly $8,000 from the European Union’s Youth in Action Program for the camp, along with the $10,000 Projects for Peace grant from philanthropist Kathryn W. Davis. Since 2007, when Kathryn Davis turned one hundred years old, she decided to commit one million dollars to fund one hundred grassroots projects by college students to, “bring new thinking to the prospects of peace in the world.”
Garden Club Scholars
Jillian E. Gall ’13, Joseph Layden ’11, Maggie Mansfield ’11, Hazel Stark ’11 Each year, the Garden Club of America awards scholarships to college students based on competitive national applications. This year, four COA students received the club’s $2,000 research awards. Hazel Stark and Joseph Layden will continue work on the plant usage guides they have created for their senior projects: Plants and People of New England: Our Contemporary Reliance on Traditional Knowledge, by Hazel, and Algonquian Ethnobotany: Medicinal, Edible, & Ritual Native Plant Use, by Joseph. Maggie Mansfield and Jillian Gall have been studying the implications of soils rich in heavy metals. Maggie is looking at heavy metal accumulation in vascular plants, while Jillian has been researching the implications for insects connected to plants growing in these soils. 4 | COA
And Deep Gratitudes Richard J. Borden Chair in the Humanities
David F. Hales Sustainability Coordinator
The Richard J. Borden Chair in the Humanities is truly a gift of the heart. Alumnus Jay McNally ’84, his wife Jennifer, and Henry and Peggy Sharpe have chosen to honor the COA faculty in general and Rich Borden in particular through this chair, the first to celebrate a current faculty member.
Henry and Peggy Sharpe also gave an additional gift: $500,000 to establish the David F. Hales Sustainability Coordinator, COA’s first endowed staff position. It ensures that the college retains its focus on sustainability. Upon hearing of the honor, former President David Hales commented, “Peggy and Henry Sharpe are two of my lifetime heroes. I love and admire them more than I have words to fully express. To be associated with them in any way is a pleasure; to have this permanent and meaningful association with them is a great honor.” Both Henry and Peggy Sharpe now hold honorary master of philosophy in human ecology degrees from COA.
Says Jay, “Rich Borden gave form to the idea of human ecology. As Jennifer and I thought about our gift to the college, we wanted to honor all who made it possible, and Rich specifically for his friendship, leadership, mentoring, and collegiality. We hope the Richard J. Borden Chair in the Humanities will always inspire a remembrance of the spirit of the early faculty in our community as well as Rich’s contributions to COA and the academic community.” Adds Henry, a COA life trustee, “Rich has been the heart and soul of COA. We can’t imagine anyone more deserving!” The families each gave $500,000 toward the chair, leaving $250,000 to be raised. Rich’s reaction? “Education really matters. This gift is their acknowledgement of COA’s life-changing mission—at the highest level.”
But that’s not all … The McNally Gift The Rich Borden chair is half of Jay and Jenn’s gift— which at one million dollars is the largest from any alum to date. The other half will go to the Fund for Global and Civic Engagement. “College of the Atlantic had a profound impact on me,” says Jay, also a trustee. “I was validated as a person, invited to grow intellectually, and surrounded by a community that was nurturing and supportive. I think the world is a better place for having College of the Atlantic.”
Tom Cox’s Land Grant Tom Cox (profiled in the previous COA) has donated 101 acres on Bar Harbor’s Norway Drive to the college. The land has not seen development since the 1947 fire that burned much of Bar Harbor. Located near The Peggy Rockefeller Farms, the two farms given to the college by David Rockefeller, the Cox property rises from a stream to a rocky hillside with panoramic views. “I wished to transfer it to COA because it fits in so nicely with the farms,” says Tom, adding, “I wanted to be sure that the land would be in caring hands.”
And then there’s another $2 million… Just before the December holiday season, COA’s development office got word of a two million dollar commitment to the endowment. Our secret friend, who has been following us for years, has been delighted with the quality of students the college attracts and graduates, and with the reputation COA has achieved in many arenas. What more can we say, but Thank You! COA | 5
Book Reviews The Plants of Acadia National Park By Glen Mittelhauser ’89, Linda Gregory ’89, Sally Rooney, and Jill Weber (University of Maine Press $24.95) When it comes to plants, especially flowers, I am an admiring, if hopeless, novice. Many a summer memory is drawn from a walk in the woods, coming upon the tiniest of wildflowers nestled in moss, and then a clearing with a profusion of beach roses. But do I remember names? Or salient facts? When I open a field guide, I inevitably think I’ve come across the right species, only to realize that my “ah-ha” flower just doesn’t appear in these northern climes. But if a plant appears in The Plants of Acadia National Park, I know it’s in this region. And that’s only one of the joys of this new guide, packed with lush photographs. I open at random, and find the Canada mayflower (aka false lily of the valley), and smile at the flower that loves the rocky soil at the edge of our woods. In fact, there’s a multitude of old friends here—from the scruffy common mullein of fields and beaches to the breathtaking blue flag iris of wetlands. Being local, the guide is quite personal. It is personal for other reasons as well: the authors are all connected to COA. Glen Mittelhauser and Linda Gregory are alumni; Jill Weber has taught at COA; Sally Rooney has helped to identify species in the college’s herbarium. Turn to the acknowledgements page to find a photo of the late Craig Greene, faculty member in botany, perched among painted trillium. The guide is a tribute to Craig and the work he encouraged when Linda and Glen held student internships looking for rare species hidden in Acadia. After Craig fell ill, the four authors worked on publishing an article in the 2005 journal Rhodora detailing the area’s native and non-native species. The article, with Craig as a posthumous lead author, won the New England Botanical Club’s annual Merritt Lyndon Fernald Award that year. Craig died in October 2003; this volume is the continuation of his work, the result of years of botanical treasure hunts, scouring the park to scare up new species. The result is that the plants of Acadia—and much of Maine’s downeast coast—are beautifully accessible to all. ~ Donna Gold 6 | COA
Baobabs in Heaven By Tawanda Chabikwa ’07 (Amazon.com $16.50) Baobabs in Heaven is the startlingdebut novel of Tawanda Chabikwa ’07. Begun in faculty member Bill Carpenter’s writing seminar, Baobabs is an extraordinary reflection of Tawanda’s home country, Zimbabwe. With a keen eye for detail and an artist’s sense of the beautiful (the author is also a dancer and painter), Tawanda weaves a tale of human frailty and strength, celebrating the universal qualities of hope and humor, resilience and fortitude, despite the tragic and violent truth of life in Zimbabwe. This sense of human dreams and aspirations in the midst of crushing civil, political, and economic unrest gives the book its power. From the countryside to the city, the reader is drawn into Zimbabwe’s tragedy, longing, strength, perseverance, beauty, and wonder. As the main character in the book says, “The forest never ceases to whisper secrets. Our voices become a part of the stories that would travel with the wind.” Tawanda’s voice is clear, true, and unflinching. This is a book from the heart, filled with the soul of a people. Interposing poetic reverie with straight prose, Tawanda reveals the magic and mundane of contemporary Africa, mixed like dry sunshine and dreams. In a recurring scene set around a small campfire, a grandmother, Ambuya, shares mythic stories with the village children, evoking the ancient spirit of African life: She slowly gets up with the difficulty of those who have spent millennia hoeing in fields with bent backs. We shuffle on the earthen floor to make room for her to pass. We hear her outside greeting grandfather by his totem—the heart. He is muttering drunkenly to himself and humming a song that no one sings anymore. … ‘Who was that woman leaving the compound at this hour?’ He gestures toward the deep darkness that had consumed the Water Spirit. But the dust kept her secret. Baobabs moves from dreams to the fist of tyranny and back, offering an authentic view of what it is like to live, breathe, and survive in an impossible, and impossibly beautiful world. This story will haunt and inspire. It is triumphant. Buy it. Read it. Share it with others. Tawanda’s is a voice you will not soon forget. ~ Sean Murphy, COA webmaster
In Celebration of a Consummate Teacher By Amy Hoffmaster ’06
This summer, Judith Cox will be retiring after eight years as the director of COA’s Educational Studies Program. Amy Hoffmaster, Judith’s former student, wrote a tribute to her teacher just as Amy was graduating with an EdM in Technology, Innovation and Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education. Amy, who is vice president of the Massachusetts Environmental Education Society, will be an Education Pioneers Fellow with Citizen Schools, developing curriculum for high-needs schools in Massachusetts. Judith Cox takes a deep, slow breath and says, firmly, “I want to say this just right, because it is very important.” She then offers direct, specific feedback on what she saw in the classroom and the reasons why
the lesson—no matter how good the idea—didn’t go as planned. When faced with an honest, clear response, you realize how rare such communication is. Judith Cox has a gift for providing this perspective to students. Together, Judith and the student figure out how to make it better: more relevant connections to students, clearer directions, more opportunities for practice, fewer distractions from the content, more time for students to talk to each other. Judith shows young teachers that there are endless ways to improve. Teaching aspiring educators to look at themselves as professionals on a long road of growth is hard work; it makes you choose your words carefully. During her time at COA, Judith has connected to the intellect, emotions, and sense of identity as human ecologists of those students seeking teacher certification. Does a human ecologist see things differently from other teachers? And what does interdisciplinary thinking mean for one charged with teaching very young students to read? When COA students go into the community as student teachers, Judith makes careful matches with practicing teachers. She sets clear expectations that lead to fulfilling experiences for all involved. The precise, actionable feedback she so gracefully provides helps to both steady and reel in optimistic— and perhaps hesitant—student teachers. At the same time, she challenges mentors to provide constructive criticism.
Judith Cox holds Nora Rose Nabushawo, daughter to Sarah Haughn ’08, at the 2010 staff-faculty-senior tug-of-war.
Most of all, Judith inspires a sense that learning to teach requires humility, and an openness to growth. She instills in the beginning teacher a sense that it is possible not only to make it through the school day, but also to be renewed by the change in students. Judith works by providing models, by describing metaphors that illuminate techniques, and by listening with an unmatched attentiveness and ability to empathize. She provides aspiring educators the support they need to see themselves as capable of great work. To coach imaginative, idealistic teachers to work and learn effectively in schools is a great task. Judith’s efforts have multiplied as COA graduates take on epic problems of equity and sustainability with optimism in places near and far—through education. I’m honored to write about Judith Cox as she steps away from this formal role at COA, and to invite her to reflect with pride on the impact she has had. COA | 7
The Sea and Everything In It: Evelyn Smith ’11 and the Penobscot East Resource Center By Sarah Haughn ’08
Blood runs thicker than water, or so the adage goes. For Evelyn Smith, whose mother worked at the Department of Marine Resources for three decades and whose father has been a lifelong sailor, the saying finds its source. Evelyn, or Evie as she is known, is a fourth-year student from Edgecomb, Maine. Though she began her college education at the University of California, Davis, Evie was drawn back to the Atlantic—which led her to COA, and ultimately introduced her to a community fisheries organization that changed the way she understands herself, her home, and her future. Evie admits that her decision to transfer was partly wisdom and partly whim. She was listening to her longing for a role in the communities that formed her. She also wanted to be in control of her education. And she was looking for a school where she would have more freedom. “After my first term at COA, I recognized how incredible and unique this education was. Yes, I had the ability to go and do what I wanted; but I also had the support network that allowed me to feel confident in whatever it was I wanted to do, which I had never experienced before. That, to me, is the epitome of COA. They support you at levels that I don’t think any other institution can begin to attempt. And it wasn’t just professors who had me in their classes, but professors who knew my name in passing. Their level of interest and their dedication to my education was shocking and mind-blowing to me.” Working with Chris Petersen, faculty member in biology, Evie joined the Penobscot East Resource Center, or PERC—a Deer Isle, Maine nonprofit founded by MacArthur Fellow Ted Ames. Robin Alden, Maine’s former Commissioner of Marine Resources, is the organization’s executive director. PERC’s mission is to “build alliances among fishermen and community members, foster community-based science projects, and work to strengthen and diversify marine economies.” 8 | COA
Beginning as a general intern with the center, Evie participated in a broad range of activities, including working extensively with their Community Fisheries Action Roundtable, which connects fishing communities with tools to participate in conversations around resource management. Support for this work came from the Long Cove Foundation. As her ten-week internship neared its end, Evie was invited to remain. Having found the organization “an absolutely inspiring group of people,” she accepted with enthusiasm. The two-and-a-half-month internship evolved into a fourteen-month relationship, during which she coordinated and managed their Community Supported Fisheries programs for groundfish and shrimp. Much of her work involved getting people to talk about seasonal fisheries, and to think about the fishermen and “what it means to have this access to seasonal seafood on the coast of Maine.” When Evie returned to classes last fall, she found the insights she gained in her coursework allowed her to better understand the many aspects of fisheries management. Ethnography with Todd Little-Siebold, faculty member in history, taught Evie to see the story line in everything. Jay Friedlander’s business course helped her understand fishing as a profit-making venture. Molly Anderson, Partridge Chair in Food and Sustainable Agriculture Systems, reminded her of the production and consumption components of fisheries. With Chris as project director, Evie is concluding her time at COA writing up this work for her senior project. “I went to COA without a real vision,” Evie reflects, “and I left feeling like I could accomplish anything. And even if I didn’t accomplish it, the people who were at COA or knew me at COA will always be there as a resource or a helping hand.” In the end, for Evelyn Smith, the story lines, the bottom lines, and even the fishing lines convey the importance of relationships and the complex communities they build.
Lauren Nutter ’10 on her Watson Journey
Total sensory overload—looming buildings, endless shanty towns, indistinguishable chaotic lines of traffic, delicious new foods and spices, swarming masses of color as thousands of people weave through the city, giant Ganeshas parading down the streets to the beat of drums, and all sorts of smells both good and far less appealing. This encounter with Mumbai was my first with India and her major cities of Bangalore, Pune, and Delhi this past September as part of my Watson journey. Most people who have been to India understand this mix of chaos and beauty, and also know what I mean when I say there is a wide array of smells. Often, when riding in a rickshaw, I could tell I was about to go by a river just from the foul smell in the air. Over coffee one evening in Delhi, I began explaining my Watson quest to a few friends: I was in search of young people who are building movements and raising voices on environmental issues in their countries. I wanted to understand the challenges that are both unique and similar for youth working on these issues all over the world. And most importantly, I wanted to find success stories that could inspire and model how youth can be empowered to shape their futures and work with decision-makers. After explaining this, a friend insisted I meet a young man named Vimlendu. On a hot Friday afternoon, I made my way to the small office of “Swechha—We for Change” to meet him. The building did not seem like the typical office space, and appeared to be mostly family residences. After inadvertently walking into a family’s living room, I found the office tucked away half a floor up. Scattered around the small room were cardboard posters calling for action to clean the Yamuna River. Vimlendu founded Swechha in 2000 because he was horrified by the state of the Yamuna River running through his city and wanted to take action. India has a number of heavily polluted waterways; one of the most polluted is the Yamuna in Delhi. It begins hundreds of miles away from the city in the Himalayas, but the river that winds through Delhi is filled with an insurmountable amount of raw sewage, industrial waste, and trash that chokes its flow. Vimlendu told me that a dirty river reflected a dirty society, and he wanted to change that. He explained that in Hindi swechha means “one’s own free will.” He understands it as a call for each individual to be and create change in the world. Lauren Nutter ’11 with Surendran Balachandran from the Indian Youth Climate Network, an organization also working on water issues in Delhi.
COA | 9
Vimlendu began by mobilizing youth volunteers to help clean the river and raise awareness about its pollution. They became a voice for the waterway and utilized theatrical performances, photo exhibits, film, workshops, and public meetings in schools to educate others. Today, they bring together over one thousand people each year to help clean the river and raise awareness of its condition. They have successfully lobbied the local government for larger efforts to clean the Yamuna and for policy changes such as fencing its bridges to alter the culture of throwing trash directly into the river. Swechha’s programs have expanded to include not only environmental issues, but also education and active citizenship for youth. What struck me most about Vimlendu and many of the other young activists I have met this year is the ambition and caring at the heart of their work. Environmental issues unfortunately do not have simple solutions, especially in areas like the sprawling metropolis of Delhi. Despite over a decade of work, the state of the Yamuna is depressing at best and poses a daunting challenge for anyone. And yet Vimlendu has inspired many people to take action and work to revive their river. The Yamuna is far from being clean, but Vimlendu’s organization is working to ensure that a generation is better connected to it—a connection that has given youth a reason to reclaim their river. For me, Vimlendu’s story is what my Watson journey has been about. It has been about discovering the many diverse challenges young people face in having a voice in decision-making processes while fighting for a cleaner environment in their future. On my
10 | COA
journey, I continue to be inspired by their stories of change despite of these challenges. Traveling through Turkey, India, Belgium, Holland, Peru, and now Argentina, I have seen culture and government norms shape how the young are empowered on such issues. Holland has a very active national youth council that is supported with funding from the government, but maintains autonomy in designing programs and priorities for those funds. In Turkey, however, I found that young people had to fight a deeper level of tokenism. The local government was happy to “work” alongside a youth group, but they seemed more interested in a photo for the press than actually engaging with them on meaningful service projects. Despite varying cultures and contexts, within each country I have found young people transcending norms to influence and shape environmental decisions. They are mobilizing and educating others to take action, and even building their own NGOs or businesses to create a more sustainable future now, instead of waiting for political leaders to make the change. Nearly one in five people, or over 1.2 billion individuals, are between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four. It is a generation that will inherit many daunting environmental problems, such as the polluted Yamuna River. The inspiring initiatives and education of youth are essential to the coming generations, and Vimlendu’s story is one of many. My Watson experience has shown me that we can learn from efforts like Vimlendu’s and empower youth to work with governments, businesses, schools, and themselves to create a better future.
Marie Stivers Staff Profile
Photo and story by Julia De Santis ’12
“When I first started working here, we still had wood stoves in our offices,” says Marie DeMuro Stivers. “When we would come in to work in the morning, we would light the fire and wait until the office heated up because the typewriters wouldn’t work if it was too cold.” The year was 1980, and College of the Atlantic—with about 182 students and fourteen full-time faculty—needed someone to work in the registrar and internship offices. Thirty-one years have passed since then. Though Marie has taken some breaks from the college, she has been a stalwart staff member for twenty-three years, working as the assistant to the registrar and secretary for institutional research before becoming director of academic and administrator services. Marie advises students, orders books, publishes the course catalogs, assists the academic dean and the chair of academic affairs, and manages all extracurricular space needs.
Hall. “I was downtown when the alarm went off and a friend turned to me and said, ‘Marie, the college is on fire.’ We came running up here, and I’ll never forget the noise—this incredible roar. It was really, really hard.” She pauses and looks away; when she returns her gaze, her eyes are shimmering and her voice sounds like it’s struggling.
On a particularly windy day in early April, I met Marie in her tiny office on the third floor of Turrets, a space that once functioned as a bathroom and still has the tiles to prove it. It does not seem big enough for a woman who does so much, but Marie is organized and the old windows let in the sun, a combination that feels quite comfortable.
After the fire, the entire administration crowded into Turrets, ending what had been a Friday afternoon staff tradition, says Marie. “We would close the door of the admission office in Turrets and have an informal staff meeting. It wasn’t planned, we just talked. But it gave everyone an idea of how people were feeling and how things were going.” With so many people in Turrets, this gathering was no longer possible.
Known as warm and tough, fun and serious, Marie admits, “I don’t know how I came to have the kind of respect and power that I do. I’ve always just done my job.” But ask Karen Waldron, faculty member in literature, and she’ll talk about Marie’s humor and commitment. “Marie does a lot of the things the college depends on, and she does them really well,” says Karen. “She’s funny and she’s irreverent. She knows when to speak and when not to speak. She loves deeply, and in many ways acts as a mom to students—she gets kids through.”
As COA continues to grow, change is inevitable, says Marie. “There are many more layers of things that have to be done. There are so many more regulations, so many programs, so much more fundraising: we have to work harder to keep a bigger institution going. In the early 1980s if someone had a mailing, we all pitched in. Now people have to concentrate on their own responsibilities. We have less flexibility to say, ‘Sure, I can do that.’”
“I love working with the students, that’s the best part of my job,” says Marie. “Most arrive when they are eighteen, still just little babies, but suddenly they are articulate and worldly. When we go to senior presentations it makes me so proud to know that we were a part of these wonderful lives.” Marie’s history with the college takes her back to before the 1983 fire that destroyed the old Kaelber
Still, the connections among people are tight. When Marie had cancer, Karen, a dean at the time, and Ken Hill, who is still a dean, shaved their heads. Says Marie, “I was running around bald—we were all running around bald.” So what changes would be good for the college, I wondered. Marie doesn’t have to think: “More spaces for dancing—Capoeira, dance classes, those activities help everyone’s attitude, especially in the winter.” COA | 11
This childhood taught Polly the particular needs of rural communities, and the environmental values of making do. It makes sense, then, that Polly, who owns a house on Sutton Island, off Mt. Desert Island, would connect to COA through Beech Hill Farm. She recalls the valiant efforts of former farm managers Lara Judson ’04 and Diane Lokocz ’03 in making Beech Hill more of a teaching farm. At Polly’s suggestion, COA applied to the Partridge Foundation for some assistance for the farm; the funding helped it turn the corner to profitability. Says Polly, “COA was very interesting to me as a college of human ecology, which I didn’t understand at first. But as I began to visit, I began to see its purpose.” She so believes in the value of raising one’s own food that she’d like to see every student at COA spend a term working on the farm. Then she laughs, a deep-throated, full laugh. “I know, I’m very autocratic. The college is very democratic.”
Polly Guth By Donna Gold
Polly Guth sets down her coffee cup, leans toward her guest, and with deep blue eyes fiercely sparkling declares, “I’m a farmer. I know about farming. I know you can make a go of it on a farm.” Never mind that we’re sipping cappuccino in an elegant New York City living room a stone’s throw from the Central Park Zoo, Polly’s heart lies in the pastures and farmlands of the world. This devotion to organic farms, good nutrition, and many other social efforts led her and her husband John to help establish the Partridge Foundation to fund such causes. It is thanks to this foundation, which two years ago granted COA $2.5 million to enhance its focus on organic farming, that COA now has a Sustainable Food Systems program. Since March of 2010, this program has been run by Molly Anderson, the Partridge Chair in Food and Sustainable Agriculture Systems. Polly Guth’s love of farming is in her blood. She grew up on a Manchester, New Hampshire farm, near the textile mill that employed her father upon his graduation from Harvard. When World War II came, and food shortages were feared, Polly recalls, “Right off, my mother said, ‘We have to survive. We will survive, and we will have our neighbors survive.’” Polly’s mother went to work expanding the farm. Polly has fond memories of collecting eggs, milking a cow, and raising vegetables, cattle, and chickens. “Both my parents were original environmentalists,” she says. “They ran away from their families.” 12 | COA
But Polly is delighted to know that many students do work on the farm, that local schools serve some of the farm’s produce, and that schoolchildren often come to the farm in the fall to help pull carrots and dig potatoes. She’s also impressed by the Share the Harvest program, run by COA students, that makes Beech Hill Farm produce accessible to more local families through farm stand certificates. As we continue talking, the conversation turns to Polly’s friend Christopher Bielenberg. Christopher’s father, Peter Bielenberg, was implicated in a plot to assassinate Adolph Hitler during World War II, but managed to escape the death penalty. After the war, summers of work and tranquility on a farm in Ireland restored the family’s sense of well-being, imbuing Christopher with a devotion to farming. An admirer of the Faculty of Organic Agricultural Sciences at Germany’s University of Kassel, Christopher also chairs the board of the Organic Research Centre at Elm Farm in the United Kingdom. At Polly’s suggestion these two venerable European institutions combined with COA to form our Transatlantic Partnership in Sustainable Food Systems. With the hiring of Molly Anderson, who has an extensive domestic and international background in food issues, both the COA-based food systems program and the Transatlantic Partnership program have taken off. “I have enormous faith in Molly,” says Polly. “She’s a very intelligent woman with a tremendous background.” And Molly has enormous respect for what the Partridge Foundation has added to the college. “In many ways, COA’s educational model is far ahead of other institutions of higher education in its ability to foster creative, interdisciplinary solutions to the food system challenges of today,” Molly says. “COA is a very different breed of college,” adds Polly. “It’s the perfect place to do this.”
An Oral History with Rich Borden Rich Borden, faculty member in psychology and the Rachel Carson Chair in Human Ecology, was a founder of the Society for Human Ecology and for many years its executive director. He also served as COA’s academic dean for nineteen years. Shortly after Jay ’84 and Jennifer McNally, and life trustee Henry and Peggy Sharpe announced the Richard J. Borden Chair in the Humanities, I spent an hour talking to Rich about the early days. The following is a small part of our conversation. ~DG Donna Gold: How did you hear about COA? Rich Borden: I think it was in 1974 or ’75, not long after I arrived at Purdue from Ohio State. I was getting interested in how ecology might connect to psychology. I had written a short article about how I didn’t think there was any place in America where there was a bona fide interdisciplinary education—which seemed to me necessary for understanding the broader implications of ecology. I got a reply from someone at the University of Michigan, saying, “There’s this little college started by a group of Harvard-types up in Bar Harbor, Maine … and they’re doing something called human ecology.” Shortly after, I wrote to the college, in sort of a formal way, saying that I was a research psychologist and would like to come and study the psychological profiles of the students. I got a letter back from [former president and founding faculty member] Steve Katona, who said, “Yeah. Come on up; help yourself. In fact, you can stay with me.” So I came. My graduate students and I did a series of studies on a sample of students. We gave them broadbased personality tests, attitude surveys, lifestyle inventories—the whole gamut. I’m sure they thought it was slightly weird, but they all went along with it. Right from the beginning, we started to find some really interesting differences. COA students were much more introspective than traditional college students. They were more preoccupied with questions of values, more philosophically-minded, more concerned about moral and ethical issues. They were also much less “thing” oriented, and more “person” and “idea” oriented. And probably the biggest difference—and I think this may still be true—COA students were more androgynous. That is, compared to more-or-less sextyped attitudes of conventional students elsewhere— where females tended to hold feminine attitudes and males had masculine orientations—there was much more of a mixing together of these attitudes at COA. At the time, we made arguments about how working through those identity questions were parallel to, or a part of, an exploration of larger questions of relationships to the environment, the deeper implications of ecology, and so on. DG: So you came here to do a study— RB: And I kept coming back; I really liked the college for what it was, who the people were, how it ran. It was absolutely charming. At one point there was talk
of maybe adding a psychologist. I wasn’t sure what it would be like to make the jump from a big university battleship like Purdue into the COA canoe, but I was curious. In the spring of 1979, I came for a visiting semester. During that time, they had a search for a full time psychologist; I applied and they selected me. DG: And did the structure of COA also attract you? RB: I was especially influenced by the idea of the All College Meeting. And that’s partly a throwback to the things that happened at Kent State. [Rich was at Kent State on May 4, 1970 when the Ohio National Guard fired into a crowd of student protesters, killing four students.] In the campus tension leading up to the Kent event, administrators often became surrogates and targets for the outside problems of the time. The sit-ins and demonstrations were very confrontational—and that’s partly what led to the intense conflict there. The thing I immediately recognized at COA was everybody’s voice was all together: the ACM not only symbolized it; it was it. Students were a part of the decision making. That struck me as an ingenious way to run a college. And further, that what had happened at Kent could never occur in a system like COA’s. DG: Did you feel like you had to give anything up to come to COA? RB: Yes. Security. Big universities are safe places. COA was a risky experiment. We disappeared into the woods. Faculty and students all shared a single telephone in the lobby, and long distance calls were frowned on by the business office. I think that my mother and most of my colleagues elsewhere couldn’t understand what I was doing. I don’t know if I did, either. I was very much on an intuitive level. Like, how do you explain falling in love? You don’t make it happen; it happens. And this was sort of a love relationship, from the beginning. COA | 13
DG: Did you have to give up your research? RB: I didn’t think I had to at first. In those days, data was coded in on IBM punch cards that were kept in boxes and then fed into computers. When I came here, I had a rather large stack of these boxes. When Harris Hyman [former faculty member], bought the college’s first computer, a PDP8, he asked me to bring them to our tiny computer center on the second floor of the old Kaelber Hall. He was going to have them transferred to magnetic discs at Jackson Lab. So I stacked them all next to the computer. Before he ever got to them, the building burned down. That was a real turning point. All of the data from nearly a decade of research on personality assessment, cognitive mapping, and environmental beliefs was gone. Absolutely gone. On top of that we had the whole question of what was going to happen to the college. Would it survive? Fortunately, Lou Rabineau [COA’s third president] showed up. Lou picked me to be his assistant. That changed things a lot for me. I worked day-in and day-out with Lou for nine years. In many ways, I stopped being a psychologist; it was the college that became the project for me. I also felt the need to help create the language of what the college is. How does the philosophy of human ecology get turned into a pedagogy that has relevance? I started finding other places where people were playing with this idea, and we started the Society for Human Ecology. I became fascinated with the ways an ecological perspective was incorporated into education, research, and applications worldwide. You would almost have to say I’ve gone from being an academic psychologist to somebody who pursues the history of an idea. Steve Katona chased whales; I chase human ecologists. DG: Can you talk more about COA’s crisis points? RB: The fire was certainly major. Actually, before that, in the early eighties, when Reagan was elected, there was an attitude change in the country. Unlike the “hip” attitudes of the sixties, there was a new generation of college students who wanted to make money, to own expensive things, and were relatively conservative. That change shut down a lot of environmental studies programs and it also affected us. One of the first problems that Judith Swayze [COA’s second president] encountered was enrollment decline. She wrote a number of papers called “COA at the Crossroads.” They were warnings about having to make some “change or die” choices. Those were some of the first red flags. A year or so later we had the fire. I remember as a kid, reading the book 1984, wondering where I would be when it came around. Turns out, the year began with the most dire faculty meeting I have ever attended. 14 | COA
It was a dark period and it didn’t really change until the second or third year after Lou arrived. So, for four or five years, we were deeply threatened by a loss of student applications, loss of funds, loss of a number of trustees, and a loss of buildings. I think we ran on hope and hard work. The faculty recommitted to the institution. A few, who were ambivalent, left. It was fun to have that kind of dedication. Everybody knew that if we were going to survive, we had to work together—and we were especially fortunate to have Ed Blair come on as chairman of the board. He gave the college a stamp of legitimacy that was absolutely critical. Lou spent a lot of time adding significant people to the board, not just for resources, but also for credibility. Somehow it all came together. For me we were out of the woods when we finally got our first ten-year accreditation. DG: Did you ever think it wouldn’t make it? RB: I think I only had a few really brief moments when I thought we wouldn’t make it. I always felt that we were too good to be lost. And I think it’s true. We could’ve made it on nothing, almost. DG: What do you see for the future of COA? RB: I hope the college can hold to its founding mission and maintain the character that [alumni like] Jay McNally got from this place—a kind of personal courage to do their own thing and make a difference. I know that you know that I’m passionate about the human ecology piece. I hope we never lose it or try to imitate a more conventional pattern. I believe the main role of the administration here is to support innovation, to keep folding the edges back, tucking in the loose ends, and encouraging everyone to make a really interdisciplinary, integrated, creative institution. Looking ahead to the next president, it’s important that that person appreciates what the college has been. We also have to find very special people to be on this faculty. They can’t just be good at their field; they’ve got to want to connect what they know to the farthest reaches of things, because that’s what makes the college special. DG: Finally, what was your reaction when you heard about the Rich Borden Chair in the Humanities? RB: I heard it in a whisper, informally, in a phone call from Jay McNally. I was absolutely taken aback. I had a real lump in my throat, because that is a tremendous gift, not only from Jay and Jenn, Henry and Peggy to the institution, but from person to person. And so I was stunned. I know how important the college has been in Jay’s life, so it’s an honor for me, but it’s also a great testimony to the college.
Autumn, Maine By Caitlin Thurrell ’11
Introduction: From An Essay in Human Ecology In the autumn of 2010, I undertook a project in wilderness experience, nature writing, and attention. For eight and a half weeks I lived alone in the woods, on the lower slope of a mountain in Maine. I had with me a canoe, a tarp for shelter, and an outfit built a little heavier than I would have liked; every week or two, I had good friends bringing me a resupply of food. And otherwise I had that place—the forest there, the lake, the mountain—and my own thoughts and silences. The following is an excerpt from my field journal, taken from the latter days of October. October 18 Breath is wind, but wind is not breath. The common metaphor misleads. Breath is rhythm, its nature consisting in rhythm as much as it consists in air, a linking cycle of rise and fall, each necessitating the next. And wind is chaos. I spent this afternoon watching the patterning of air over water, each separate motion creating a spreading, directional event in space. The shapes of the gusts were flattened and drawn in two dimensions, in light and the pebbling of the lake. Sometimes a form would seem to arise all at once, as a school of fish will move in one mind. First thing this morning the wind was fully still, and the mist came thick up off the lake. Turning my back to the sun I watched the mist’s shadow cast on the coarse sand of the beach, rising up around mine. It wavered in inconstant bands like heat off pavement, or the image precisely of water reflected on overhanging rocks.
I have a friend who notices the most beautiful things. She told me once that the patterns on the water and in the clouds are the same, marking different interfaces of the same media. And it’s so: air and water will do the same things to each other, whether met in the atmosphere or on the surface of the lake. The world is fractal, specifically unrepeatable and yet infinitely self-similar, the same fundamental actors yielding the same shapes of creation. Cirrocumulus clouds look like desert sand. The world is itself, over and over again, arisen. October 19 Today I hiked Black Mountain, primarily for the pleasure of return. Walking a path for the third or fourth time I find that I begin to know the turnings, and to recognize myself in the pattern of the landscape there. COA | 15
Boots are heavy. They are meant for a barrier, intended to protect a body from the impact of the world as it moves through. But it’s hard, so well-protected, to remain sensitive to what’s on the other side, or to be careful. “Walking rough-shod” speaks to the tangible possibility of doing harm through passage, and by inattention. A human being drawn to move in the fragments of land not already signed and dedicated to human use wrestles necessarily with the interaction. At this juncture in the course of human events, human pressure has effectively transformed most of the land that exists. The thoughtful struggle of people working with wilderness, or the idea of wilderness, returns continually to the question of how land can be preserved from that overwhelm. It has birthed, among other things, a philosophy of “Leave No Trace,” which asks of people that they confine the heaviness of their action to the places we have already claimed for humanity, and leave what is still untouched well enough alone. I respect the urgency of this call. And yet, the effort to preserve the world from humans draws a bright hard line between the two, and the separation is dangerous. Last year in a conversation discussing William Cronon’s essay “The Trouble With Wilderness,” [classmate] Kaija Klauder’s father Josh (’74) wrote to us: The trouble as I see it is that leaving no trace is a two-way street, and the place in turn leaves no trace upon you. You visit like an alien who does not belong, who can look but not touch, can’t eat anything, can’t drink the water, can’t seek shelter (only bring shelter), can’t in any way sustain yourself from the 16 | COA
land, and in many places can’t even urinate or defecate, just to make the disconnection complete. The disconnection he describes is, I think, the root and source of a madness that lets people move like Blitzkrieg through our landscapes, rather than understanding ourselves as a part of them. I am a creature of this place, and I don’t think I can live confined to trails and keep my sanity, or dignity, either. The world does not exist as a series of drawn and established lines, nor a view to be had to either side of these. If you are on a road you are in a human landscape, though the wilderness stretch out endless to either side, and a human spirit will not bear well a life lived only inside of its own box. To know the world requires first walking into it. Moreover, the instinct of stewardship is born of love, and of real knowledge. People cannot live well in relationship to land that they have never known with anything like intimacy. But boots are heavy. The ethic that instructs a walker to stay only on prescribed routes is one that speaks in defense of land, when so much land is already lost under human feet. I would not have this sweet mountain overrun, and just now people lack skill or care to walk lightly. Boots are heavy. When I can, I go barefoot; human tracks are maybe not so different from bear or beaver, then. With the barriers down I can begin to accurately feel the land where I am moving, and accept the feedback of its fragility and resilience. But still, it is difficult to offer constant attention to the work of travel, and I cannot help but feel every scar in moss or undergrowth I leave behind me as a reproach. It is difficult to be careful enough. I came to Black Mountain’s east peak as the afternoon was growing later, the northern sky bright blue, the sun briefly behind clouds to the west. The tree cover broke, and the ridge ran out to blueberry scrub and bare rock face. Down the mountain and outwards the land was all a patterning of red-turning forest, the hills a rising container for the linking stream of ponds and lakes lowering gradually towards the ocean. I stayed on through sunset and into the dusk, taking an early supper of carrots and cheese and beginning to write, but mostly just living, still and grateful. The air is different, in the hills.
October 21 It’s raining, and I am writing now by lantern. Warmth remains the distinctive feature of fire, even though the flame is small and behind glass. I love this light. This morning I finished the Gita, watching the weather change, the grey coming in from the south and west. I felt the slightest beginning of a sick in my throat, and so all day I’ve been drinking elderberry tea, eating honey and raw garlic, and sitting very still. It is a pleasure to have resources, and space. Mostly, I’ve been engaged with a mitten. The cold is coming on, and I don’t have a hat or gloves yet. Instead I brought with me a half-set of bamboo knitting needles, and woolen yarn spun from some sheep I know. Twenty minutes of knife-work turned my half-set of needles into a full one; convenient, when the necessary tools for a job are actually little sticks of wood. And now I’m working on making yarn into warmth. I like knitting in any case, but there is a particular appeal for me in the current process, brought about by its necessity. If I am many steps removed from the beginning of a thing, I effectively forget that it has one, however I may try and remember. I don’t do well with abstraction. If the field-dirt of a carrot bed is on my pants, I remember where the carrots came from; not so when I find the same carrots in a plastic produce bag. Add much distance, and my skin is too thick to recall the ground. It’s a similar fact with meeting every need. All of this yarn still smells strongly of lanolin and ani-
mal warmth, and I spun some of it. I will not forget the sheep, wearing them. Further, the mechanism of creation is work, a function of life hours and energy spent, which is different from acquisition, requiring only money. I will not lose these mittens. And I will work quickly and well, or be cold next week, and sorry. Knitting is still and silent work, and I am grown familiar in this clearing. All kinds of creatures are willing to come close when I stop making my own noise. A hairy woodpecker was working on one of the birches just above me, near enough that I could easily tell the species, though I was taught the distinction through binoculars. The grouse I startle sometimes over on the other side of the stream walked close by me, clucking and unconcerned. Tonight the rain has brought out the wet-world creatures. A small, fast-bodied salamander sat for a long while at the outer edge of the lamplight, a red stripe running the length of its back and tail, otherwise black. And then, a giant relic of the dinosaurs: a spotted salamander fully six inches long came just now over my blankets, its motion slow and angular and somehow uniquely cold-blooded. It was greygreen in the shadows, and covered with white oval spots. Reptiles and amphibians feel profoundly other to me, in a way that plants never have; and some squeamish thing near the bottom of my spine shudders at the possibility of touch. Still they are so beautiful, quick and shining with the water.
COA | 17
October 24 One boulder’s life could be the study of a season. I was caught today by a stone so that I couldn’t walk by, lost looking for a long time at the horizon of small things. There were three different mosses in the mat that covered most of the rock surface, primarily either stair-step moss, a tiny fern-shaped growth, or the soft, spiking green one not unlike clumps of grass. The leaves of the stair-step moss oppose each other in pairs along two different axes, so that, seen closely, they become like a sailor’s square braid. Lichens, too, sat among the mosses, Parmelia and Hypogymnia; I saw the latter once with an edge of scarlet around the rim of its small cup. Also others I did not recognize, white-green or blue-green, flattened and crinkling. Enough soil had gathered on the boulder’s flat top for wintergreen and bunchberry to root, though I can’t guess how the seeds arrived there. The rock itself was not granite, rather something sedimentary and willing to crumble, much-pebbled, red-tinged. And old, in real truth, as the hills. Maybe older: there is much to wonder at, in the life of stone. I am not such a good empiricist that I want to know much more than this, or yet, at any rate. I remember duct-taping Edgar Allen Poe’s “Ode to Science” to the cover of my lab notebook in the seventh grade: Science! True daughter of Old Time thou art! Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes Why prey’st thou thus upon the poet’s heart, Vulture, whose wings are dull realities? It described the experience of inquiry I had been offered up to that point: the world stripped naked and made to stand cold beneath fluorescent lights, made so much less than itself by the treatment. I had a native horror of the distance established by the microscope, the otherness implicit in specimen or subject, but I had nothing to stand better in its place. I had not established any more authentic experience, as yet, of the material. I was ready to give up the whole vein of learning described by direct study, bored with answers that had already been learned by someone, and put forth as Truth. Also I was horrified, but unable to name my horror, not knowing yet on whose behalf it was. It was a painfully slow arriving for me, to start to touch the world. And startling as any first intimacy, the same pleasure at consummated affinity, the same shock and wonder at the closeness of the fit. For a long time I spoke broadly against the microscope, the methodology of reduction through magnification of the parts. Look if you like at the skin cells of my inner cheek, but do not presume to know me thus. I want that students and everyone might have opportunity to go into the world, and encounter it at the scale that is birthright. People would do well to walk respectfully in a context of rocks and grasses, just for the sake of amazement. Or alternatively, to cut down a tree for fuel, and in doing so understand the lines of fundamental dependence there. But it is not for humans to remove fragments and put them behind glass, allowing ourselves the illusion of being greater. Last fall I had the privilege to take a botany class with Jill Weber, and walk in Acadia awhile with a woman who knew plants intimately, through long acquaintance. Address the plant, she told us often, you can’t learn anything from back there. And so we did. She also loved microscopes, in much the way that I love the wheel-hoe, as a tool of great utility in the work at hand. Address the plant, she said, look closer—and I understood finally that once an intimacy has been established, then both desire and capacity for knowing it stretch into something touching the infinite. Once you have learned to love a thing by the affinity of form for form, any means of knowledge becomes a gift. An apiary harvest offers a valuable education in the form of abundant and lasting sweetness, honey teaching deeply about plant reproduction, and the nature of bees and bee-work. Or a lens, miracle of refracted light, reveals the intricacy of pollen structures. It’s all some form of love’s fulfillment, then. But as a practicality, I think the one form of experience must needs precede the other. It is so in my own learning, at least. Latin names and technical terminology are all ashes in my mouth, and honestly I don’t care what ascospores or conidia might be. Until, that is, I have stopped, and seen them, and wondered. I don’t care until the sudden shifting moment when these things correspond with a deepening understanding I’m hungry for, hunger born of a specific and growing love. An anatomy textbook teaches the form and details of the human body, and it begs coffee and a straight-backed chair for concentration. But I think that maybe a student’s attention will not waver, memorizing the muscles in the small of his lover’s back. All photos in this article by Zach Whalen ’11. Zach photographed the shipwrecks off Mount Desert Island for his senior project and is now launching his new business, Faolan Photography, through COA’s Sustainable Enterprise Hatchery. 18 | COA
COA’s Experiential Classroom At College of the Atlantic, we say that we have a distinctive approach to education: we don’t have departments, we have one major; our interdisciplinarity is quite visible throughout our course catalog. And we’re experiential. But what does that mean, really? Some investigations must be naturally intellectual, or textual. Or are they? Is it possible to teach philosophy or history and make it experiential? Going further, what is the value of these experiences? To answer these questions, a cadre of students and recent alumni spent a few weeks this spring speaking with faculty and students from a diverse selection of COA fields. When we were done, I happened upon Cayla Moore ’13. Politely, but passionately, Cayla challenged the very premise of these articles. For her, sitting in a philosophy or literature class discussing the texts is also experiential. “We have debates all the time about what experiential education means,” she told me. “Many of us believe that the engagement in a classroom is just as experiential as taking a dance class or going out in the field.” I believe that Cayla might be right. The kind of discussion to which she is referring—delving into the heart of a text, challenging the writer, turning over thoughts, exploring how they resonate—also brings the work home. In that case, just about every COA class is experiential, whether the experience has to do with grains grown in Germany or the nature of narrative. ~Donna Gold
Challenging Beliefs The team-taught Newfoundland class, This Marvelous Terrible Place By Blake Davis ’11 A key concept in human ecology, says faculty member in economics Davis Taylor, is conflict—the struggle of humans to adapt to their environments, to survive. Nowhere is the challenge more apparent, he adds, than the remote Canadian province of Newfoundland, the focus of This Marvelous Terrible Place: Human Ecology of Newfoundland. “You have this amazing ecological place. There is an incredible amount of caribou. The amount of sea birds is biblical. It is a very distinct place that is relatively close to Maine. You just can’t believe it until you’re there,” says Davis, who team-teaches the course with Sean Todd, faculty member in biology, and Natalie Springuel ’91, a community development associate with Maine Sea Grant. The class focuses on the collapse of the once-abundant cod fishery, an industry that formed the basis of the Newfoundland economy before a moratorium on cod fishing was finally put in place in the early 1990s. Students taking the course learn about the unusual oceanography of the region that created the fishery and explore how Newfoundland communities are changing with the demise of the fishing industry. For two weeks following the end of the term, the class travels to Newfoundland. “It was such an effective way to implement interdisciplinary education,” says Daniel Lindner, a senior who took the course in 2009. “The class itself was pleasant, but actually traveling to Newfoundland and experiencing it was truly spectacular.” In a final project, or epilogue, students reflect on the interviews and conversations with residents. These conversations, says Davis, are the primary purpose behind the trip. The topics of these epilogues have ranged from the timber and emerging oil industries to traditional music and ghost lore. Daniel’s epilogue focused on the seal hunt, a practice that has received broad criticism from activists since the 1970s. “I didn’t know much about sealing,” he says. “So for my project I analyzed a lot of sides of sealing, from historic catches to the life cycle of harp seals. But the really meaty part was in the ethical issue and how the world and Newfoundland are interpreting and reacting to the profession.” 20 | COA
Seniors Philip Kunhardt and Natalie Barnett explore the beach at Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland. Photo by Davis Taylor.
Daniel interacted with many sealers during his project, which he said left him better informed about its significance in Newfoundland communities. “One sealer remarked that the seal meat on the table was not likely to be there next year,” Daniel says, recounting a dinner he shared with one of Sean Todd’s Newfoundland relatives. “I was genuinely sad about this,” Daniel added, “like that part of their culture was being killed. I was sympathizing with these men, which is the last thing I thought would happen.” “This student captured the tension between wanting to preserve a natural resource and protect local hunting practices,” says Davis. “It was really powerful.” Davis says the field trip allows students to be immersed with these interactions, and significantly extends class time. “You’re just always talking, even at breakfast.” Natalie Barnett, a senior who also took the class in 2009, says the experience of studying at the end of the course not only reinforced course material, but inspired her to conduct a residency in the United Kingdom. “Even though the spirit of Newfoundland had really been hit by the collapse of the fishery, this class reminded me that the opportunities to go out and do something were really great.”
A Delectable Education By Blake Davis ’11 Once a year Nishanta, or Nishi, Rajakaruna ’94, faculty member in botany, evaluates his students with an elaborate fruit salad. It is an entrance exam of sorts, a delectable way to determine what students know at the beginning of their Edible Botany class. As students dig in, they must describe the more than forty fruits piled together. “You would be amazed at how little we know about what we eat,” says Nishi, who designed the class at COA after hosting a number of potlucks and noticing how unaware people were about what they were about to put in their mouths. “I would bite into something and try to explain where the ingredients came from,” he says. “It’s a great way to teach people about plants they’ve been familiar with their entire lives.” The introductory class covers general plant biology, emphasizing the ways humans depend on plants to survive. It explores how plant leaves, stems, flowers, fruits, seeds, and other plant components are used in foods, beverages, medicines, drugs, and other edible applications. Students who have taken the class say the common fruits and vegetables that are studied make it easy to apply their learning. “It changes how you eat,” says Hazel Stark, a COA senior. “You become a total food nerd. It’s fascinating to see how diverse your diet is and where it comes from.”
“All science is based on good observation,” Nishi says. “These kinds of classes let students make observations.” Hazel, who took the class in the fall, emphasized the importance of handling the edible plants she studied. “We rarely incorporate all of our senses when trying to learn new things,” she says. By seeing, tasting, touching, and smelling the edible plants, the experience is not only more memorable, but more meaningful. “My high school was so the opposite of COA,” she adds. “I was a great student but I didn’t learn. I need to process to learn.” She says the emphasis on experiential learning made the course material seem more relevant to her. Hazel, who is working on publishing her senior thesis, a guide to the uses of fifty common Maine plants, believes that “a lot of global problems today come from the disconnect between what’s on our plate or in our medicines, and where it originates.” “People tell me after taking this class that it takes them longer to make a salad,” jokes Nishi. “They try to classify all the plants.”
Throughout the term students are given pieces of edible plants which they must classify, research, and discuss in a twenty-minute class presentation. Given a papaya, one student wrote a tenminute song he performed for the class. “I was amazed at how much he packed into it about the biology, ecology, and cultural uses of papaya,” says Nishi. “People have learned the lyrics to the song. I have a copy of the CD in my car.” The class takes field trips to COA’s community garden and Beech Hill Farm. Nishi says he often prefers that the students use hand-held magnifying glasses instead of microscopes, allowing them to be active in the field. With COA’s small class sizes, he can take students on field trips, classify plants, and give lectures on location. The final quiz, masquerading as a scavenger hunt, takes place in the produce section of Shaw’s supermarket in Ellsworth.
Emilie Jagot ('06) and Ben Polloni '06 investigate a range of fruits including durian, apple, pomegranate, melon, kiwi, and pineapple. Photo by Nishanta Rajakaruna. (Dates in parentheses indicate non-graduates.) COA | 21
A Passion for Rivers: Whitewater/Whitepaper with Ken Cline By Julia De Santis ’12 Ken Cline, faculty member in environmental law and policy, is obsessed with rivers. “Rivers brought me to COA,” Ken explains.“I majored in science, but it was my love for rivers that made me concerned about the environment and showed me that to protect them, we have to understand more than the biology: we have to know history, policy, and psychology too.” Every other spring Ken, who holds the David Rockefeller Family Chair in Ecosystem Management and Protection, shares his passion in Whitewater/ Whitepaper: River Conservation and Recreation, a course that takes a human ecological approach to rivers. When students proposed the class to Ken, they knew he was a white-water paddler and loved rivers. Together they developed a course in which students spend half their time in the classroom discussing the ecology, history, sociology, and policy aspects of dams, rivers, and watersheds, and the other half in canoes learning the technical skills of paddling and actually experiencing rivers themselves. The class culminates in a five-day trip exploring a northeast river and its watershed—including dams, watershed projects, education programs, and historic river uses. Last spring, with the help of Carrie Banks ’01, a regional planner with the Massachusetts Division of
Ecological Restoration, the group explored and paddled the Deerfield River. Ken explains, “Policy can be abstract. By canoeing a river, students learn that it is more than what’s between the banks. Figuring out where a river starts and stops is really hard; when paddling, students see it flowing into forests and can understand that concept in a different way.” “I also want students to understand something else, which is harder to convey in a classroom: in river conservation, people can give up their lives to protect certain places and make others care. From an academic standpoint—an anthropologist with a clipboard—that seems irrational; but I want to immerse people, sometimes literally, in rivers so they get a glimpse of why someone could feel so passionately.” A few students who took the class last spring have chosen to do senior projects based on rivers. Among them is Rebecca, or Becca, Abuza ’11, who researched native canoe routes in Maine—beginning at the Machias lakes, then paddling down the Passadumkeag to the Penobscot River. Along the way she took natural history and herpetology surveys for the State of Maine.
Members of Ken Cline’s Whitewater/White Paper class maneuver canoes through an eddy on the Kenduskeag River in Bangor, Maine. Photo by Geena Berry ’10.
Saras Yerlig ’11 was also inspired to create a riverbased senior project. She wrote a paddling guide to the Machias River, comprised of the rapids, campsites, natural history, and conservation history of the area so visitors can understand the context of the river. According to Saras, the challenges make the education exciting and fun. “For you to know why people love rivers so much, you do really have to experience them,” she says. After she graduates, Saras will live and work on the Machias River with Project Share, an organization dedicated to stream restoration and salmon habitat and monitoring. Ken’s longing for students to “know the rivers in a way that’s real for them and in a way they can do something,” is about more than rivers. Tanaka Shozo, a Japanese statesman at the turn of the last century said it best, notes Ken: “The care of rivers is not a question of rivers, but of the human heart.” At the Berkshire Stream in Massachusetts. Photo by Carrie Banks ’01.
“In this class we didn’t just take water quality tests or read about rivers, we paddled them,” says Becca. “We then connected our experience and observations to what we learned in the classroom. Rivers are great because you can learn river maneuvers but every river is so different and changes dramatically based on the water level. Even if you’ve paddled a river in the past, it’s always changing. You can never paddle the same river twice.” Watershed science and technical skills were only part of what students learned on the river. “The hardest part of white water canoeing can be communicating with your partner,” notes Adrianna Beaudette ’11, who paddled the Guadalupe River in her native Texas for her senior project. “It’s not a physical skill set, but an interpersonal one. We switched partners every week, so we learned to communicate with different people.” With the uncertainties of paddle partners, weather conditions, and water levels come incredible learning opportunities. As students experience the rivers, they gain interpersonal, problem-solving, and leadership skills as well as an enriched understanding of ecology, river morphology, river policy, and natural history. When things change, students learn to adapt and make the best of it—skills that come in handy in every aspect of life. As in any wilderness experience, there is some risk. “But it’s a controlled risk,” says Ken. “I have taken river rescue classes and am certified as a Wilderness First Responder. I do let people push their own boundaries and go further than they think they can. I need to let that happen, but whenever we are out in the field, I am constantly thinking about safety.”
Collective Meandering: Bill Carpenter’s Course in Bread, Love and Dreams By Sara Patterson ’11 (2010 class member) “I started teaching Bread, Love and Dreams in the 1980s,” says Bill Carpenter, faculty member in literature and creative writing. “I created it with the challenge of including experiential learning in a humanities class. This has always been a problem for the more bookish and academic classes, and that is how I came up with the idea of the dream journal. The dream journal is a living component of the class. It is where we apply and test theory.” Bill had studied Jung and Freud as an undergraduate in a traditional lecture format, focused on theory, not application. Privately, students used the theories to understand their individual lives, but this was never a shared experience. Believing that Jungian theory helps us to recover lost connections to nature in a psychological sense, Bill sees these connections as an intimate component of human ecology. The challenge was to make it experiential. “Every time I teach this class, it is different because the content of the dreams is different. Though the focus of the class remains the same, students are always coming up with new questions and testing theory. In that sense we are modifying it against our own experience,” he adds. The interchange between theory and the questioning is essential. The conversation results in an exploration into processes like intuition that are not often considered in classes because they are so difficult COA | 23
to teach. However dream analysis brings out these qualities. “It is not scientific investigation because it is not repeatable,” continues Bill. “The dreamer has to describe it, which creates a lively methodology. It is a different kind of intellectual training that feels more real, somewhere in between philosophy and psychology. The application of theory is intentional and creates the experiential component of the class.”
together meaning from previously disjointed works of psychic art to understand the deeper issues at play during my night-time meanderings.
Encouraging Curiosity and Wonder By Jeffrey Dawson ’11
This interchange between the academic and the individual drew me to the class in 2010. I’ve always valued self-awareness and self-reflection. I’ve kept a journal since I was a child. Being a contemplative person, I have relished the intricacies of dreams, the ability to transcend the mundane and experience a world without the limits imposed by our physical existence. In the dream world I find myself walking down a pier dressed in a beautiful gown. I am surrounded by my family members who are similarly dressed; as we drink glasses of red wine and toast the occasion, people are continually rolling into the ocean. Then they get out again, dripping wet and ready to have another glass of wine. Or maybe I am walking in the jungle, my feet in a shallow stream being bitten by a spider and surrounded by women dancing with flowers in their hair. I love the aesthetics of the dream world, the fluidity of movement, the seamlessness of changing surroundings, the dream’s colors and drunken haze, but I am also attracted to the richness of the psychic life that these images represent. I am interested in my ability to find meaning in the powerful images that remain with me for hours after waking. The dream journals were an amazing avenue from which to explore techniques inherited from our readings of Jung and Freud. Through this process, I was struck by the similarity of my dreams. When one pays attention to the details of collective rather than individual dreams, it is easy to deduce patterns and themes that repeatedly present themselves. This is where the aesthetic is stripped from the dream and an individual psychic life is revealed—changing my self-awareness. I had previously thought about my dreams in terms of powerful psychological images, but never in the sense that these images were working together night after night in a collective psychic process. With the help of my fellow students I was able to piece 24 | COA
Margaret Stern ’12 looks over a case at the Dorr Museum. Photo by Dru Colbert.
The goal of the class is self-knowledge and selfawareness, which is an aspect of our humanity that we are often blocked from accessing. Unusual in an academic environment, students talk openly about their private psychic life, applying academic theory to the real, human world in which we live.
Dru Colbert, faculty member in three-dimensional art and design, believes in the power of museums to change how people think. Years before coming to COA she worked on the controversial Smithsonian exhibit “A More Perfect Union,” which explored the incarceration of Japanese citizens during World War II. In her class Curiosity and Wonder: Design and Interpretation in the Museum, she asks students to imagine what the larger ideas might be behind a given exhibit. She then works with them as they develop these ideas into displays for the college’s George B. Dorr Museum of Natural History. For Dru, “The curatorial act is intrinsically human ecology: How does the physical world shape us? How do we learn from physical experience? Why do some humans choose to collect and display things? What do we choose to look at as subjects and why? What value do we place on objects and why? What information do we choose to include—or leave out— when presenting objects or ideas? And what does that say about us as individuals, or as a culture?” In asking these questions, the class examines the social role of museums and the variety of lenses that can be applied to understanding and presenting objects, whether human-generated or gathered from the natural world. In the process, students discover the subjective nature of representation. Field trips are a large part of the work. Dru takes students around Maine and for a weekend exploration
to Boston museums where they meet with educators, exhibit developers, and other museum professionals. But the essence of Curiosity and Wonder is in the Dorr Museum, where every diorama and exhibit has been designed and produced by COA students. The class, says Dru, “wouldn’t be as meaningful without our own learning lab. We have a facility to display and investigate; it’s a focal point.” Within a few short weeks, students devise ways to add new elements to existing exhibits and specimens to create a temporary exhibit for the Dorr. Dru’s most recent class mounted It’s a Bug’s World, featuring “cultural aspects of bugdom along with the physiology, life cycles, and habitats of a variety of insects,” says Dru. Visitors experienced an insect puppet show, an interactive presentation that allowed visitors to “see” like a bug, a “store” that showcased bug products, and a section that alternately explored the portrayal of bugs as monsters in the movies and human threats to bugs. The opening reception included bugs as hors d’oeuvres, and was featured in state newspapers. Student Margaret Stern ’12 came to COA with a deep interest in zoos; she sought out Curiosity and Wonder to look at the parallel approaches used by zoos and museums to convey information to visitors. “Curiosity and Wonder has been one of my favorite classes at COA,” she says. “First of all, Dru is pretty inspiring and exciting as a teacher. Second, we were introduced and encouraged to actually display in the Dorr Museum. It was an incredibly cool feeling to see
a small exhibit through to the end, and be the one to have created it. The class was not just focused on natural history and the school’s museum. We took a variety of field trips to different kinds of museums to see how they conveyed information and organized their displays. The projects that we were given really allowed the class to be creative. In my first project, making a curiosity cabinet, I built a fantastical fairy house of moss and things I found in the woods. I love creating fairy houses in the woods when I go hiking, and it was amazing that I got to bring this passion into the class.” Fired up from that class, Margaret has gone on to work in care and maintenance of the Dorr collections and its facilities through independent studies.
In Doing Nothing, Everything is Done: Eastern Philosophy in Action By Jabulile Mickle Molefe ’14 “All feelings have intelligence and all thoughts have emotions.” These words fill the dimly lit auditorium. John Visvader, faculty member in philosophy, is leading his evening Qi-Gong class. The group is small— six bodies dig their heels into the creaky floorboards as they shift their weight from one foot to another. The energy is tangible; you can feel John’s excitement with the process. Stopping to rest his leg (healing from a pulled muscle) he begins to lead exercises from a seated position, but bounds up again almost as quickly as he sits down.
John Visvader leads Caitlin Thurrell ’11 and Phiip Walter ’11 in the Wu Dang Mountain form of Qi-Gong. Photo by Julia De Santis ’12.
COA | 25
John began offering a weekly martial arts class in conjunction with his Eastern philosophy courses over a decade ago, when he “thought it might be nice to have a Tai-Ji class.” This term, he is running a tutorial on Chinese Language Through Poetry and offering weekly Qi-Gong. Sometimes confused with martial arts, Qi-Gong is “a meditation exercise that enhances life energies,” John says. He observes it somewhat similarly to the way one might practice yoga. “It’s about trying to be more graceful in your life through self-understanding,” he explains. John believes that becoming familiar with the teachings on a mental level and participating in their physical practice allows students to access both parts of the whole. Senior Philip Walter is one of the students participating in this spring’s Qi-Gong workshop. Philip was first exposed to Eastern philosophy in practice as a second-year student in spring 2008 when he took John’s Seminar in Chinese Philosophy. Philip found that Qi-Gong gave him a clear understanding of what the writings really meant, rather than seeing them simply as “words on a page.” It may seem strange to combine something as abstract as philosophy with the flow of kinetic energy, but Philip believes the two go hand in hand: “There’s a lot underneath the writings that is bound in the physical.”
Three years later, Philip thinks of the philosophy regularly and plans to continue practicing Qi-Gong after graduating this spring. John’s classes meet on Thursday nights during the academic year and are open to those outside of the COA community.
In the Tracks of Winter: Taking Ecology to the Extreme By Sarah Haughn ’08 “Winter was a world I had always loved, but never felt like I understood.” ~Brianna Larsen ’11 Experienced as beauty or bane, Maine winters often require an almost religious degree of endurance. Friday afternoons find many students on campus cloistered in their favorite library nooks with wool blankets and copious quantities of tea. But, in brave embrace of the elements, students in the Winter
Seniors Brianna Larsen and Saras Yerlig take notes in Winter Ecology. Photo by Stephen Ressel.
While in John’s Chinese Philosophy class, Philip drew on his experience with Qi-Gong to visualize the concept that “in doing nothing, everything is done.” Philip related the idea to the different ways he approaches reading, both in and out of the classroom setting. “There are many ways to read something for class, but this is usually a deliberate action—you’re researching, notating.” The work in John’s classes,
though, teaches something different than this: the best learning, the best action, is one that is indeliberate and intuitive. It is the feeling of speaking, of writing—you only need to be thinking of the end, the goal. The actual event follows accordingly. Thus in doing “nothing,” everything is done. Similarly, “QiGong starts as a very deliberate act,” says Philip. One gains more from the exercise once it ceases to be a task and becomes an action that flows. Philip found that the theory gave him the vocabulary to label his actions, while the work gave him a hands-on application of the teachings.
26 | COA
Ecology class taught by Stephen Ressel, faculty member in biology, don their parkas and pack their energy bars for a weekly four-and-a-half-hour trek into the living heart of the season. This is no ordinary field experience.
The Predictable and the Uncomfortable: COA’s Outdoor Program By Donna Gold, with reporting by Blake Davis ’11 Katelyn “Scout” Costello leading an outdoor program outing. Photo by co-leader Carly Segal ’13.
“Winter Ecology is somewhat self-selective, because I make it clear to the students that we’re going to be outside as much as possible. I think that the students have a Winter Ecology mindset that goes beyond the three or four hours we’re out in the field. It creates a lot of anticipation and camaraderie. Everyone has a role to play and we’re all dependent on each other to make the experiences doable and productive,” says Steve. The class spends time in the woods and on the lakes, not only on a weekly basis, but also during two weekend trips. In addition to group work, they are expected to go out on their own to track animals and collect data. They keep a field journal of their experiences and observations and complete problem sets to prepare them for their outdoor encounters. “Winter Ecology was a great example of how essential field experience is for me,” reflects fourth-year student Brianna Larsen. “Through reading and lecture I could grasp most of the content, but it wasn’t until we were out in the field and Steve would point out a long ‘arm’ of snow suspended from a tree, essentially defying gravity, that destructive metamorphosis [causing ice crystals to stick together] really made sense to me. And not only did I appreciate the winter landscape much more because I was a part of it, but also I learned additional skills like snow shoeing, basic winter layering, and chipping ice, which I could never have learned without going outside.” For Brianna and her fellow students the scope of the course is comprehensive. They learn how to do snow profiles, measure the rate at which animals cool in different habitats, study ice, monitor beaver lodges, go tracking, set up carcasses and game cameras to investigate the presence of winter predators, hike Sargent Mountain, and measure the rate of heat loss when exposed to the elements. This year they even had the chance to hold newborn black bears. “In doing experiential education, my hope for students is that act of doing something transcends the requisite course assignments,” says Steve. “I find that when I’m outside with students, walls break down. Whether it be packing up the van, or working in the field, or sitting around talking while we’re eating our chili after a day in the woods, learning becomes seamless. We’re all basically a group of individuals out there trying to have a common experience together.”
Tonia Kittelson, the college’s director of student leadership and recreation, has a phrase she repeats quite frequently to students in the outdoor program: “If it’s predictable, it’s preventable.” This mantra forms the basis for a large portion of the training students in the program undergo, from getting certified in wilderness medicine to learning such skills as building fires, constructing shelters, and preparing meals in the wild. The same mantra goes for the preparation of specific trips: studying the maps and the weather, knowing what to pack for a specific journey, and how to gauge the daily route in accordance with the skills of the group. In addition to this physical and material know-how, a leader needs to be able to help group members become comfortable when challenged by terrain, weather, or plain shyness in an intimate situation. These “judgment and decision-making skills,” says Tonia, “are the most important and hardest to put into concrete terms, but they can be developed through experience.” Since coming to COA in 2005, Tonia has worked to increase the level of training in outdoor leadership skills and the number of students being trained. Last year, twenty-eight students applied to lead COA’s Outdoor Orientation Programs, the weeklong pre-convocation experiences for firstyear students better known as OOPs trips. Each year, some twenty students become outdoor leaders for the OOPs and year-round outdoor programs. Katelyn, or Scout, Costello ’11 is one such student, having led two of the college’s OOPs trips. As a leader, Scout knows about preparing for the predictable; she also knows about the unpredictable. This brings COA | 27
her to pair Tonia’s saying with the one that Bill Drury, the late COA faculty member in biology, was so fond of repeating. When challenge leads to discomfort, he would say, “Pay attention, you’re about to learn something.” Preparing for the predictable and learning from the discomfiting unpredictable might be said to define the outdoor program at COA. Of course there is that third element: the outdoors itself, connecting to a world that humans did not create—whether a student is hiking Maine’s Hundred-Mile Wilderness, or spending an afternoon paddling through a bog to pick cranberries. The unpredictable challenges of the wilderness drew Scout to the program. “That’s why I’m so interested in outdoor leadership; it’s so transferable to real life, as a leader or participant,” she says. “When I think of my experience with the outdoor program at COA, I feel I can face anything.” She’s found that the necessity of keeping a level head in challenging wilderness situations transfers well to other experiences, such as being a Residential Advisor (or RA) in COA’s residential housing. It also helps her to handle challenging personal events, like conflicts with a friend or a relative. “There’s no manual for unpredictable situations,” says Scout. “And since there’s no manual, the outdoor program allows you to begin to understand yourself.” She adds, “It’s a really powerful feeling to know that you can carry a forty-pound bag up a mountain, or know how to paddle through white water. It builds confidence, and this is valuable even outside of this program.”
It’s not always easy. Scout has dealt with leading suffering students unaccustomed to heavy packs up long mountain trails, and canoe trips battered by wind and waves so strong that students couldn’t make any headway. There have been times when Scout has wondered whether she can handle the situation. Yet learning “how to navigate that territory,” as she says, remembering that the trip isn’t about her and her needs, but about the participants she is leading, has made a profound difference in her life. The outdoor experiences have led Costello, who had a hard time in high school—transferring to an alternative school, then dropping out—to seek to return to high school. She plans to teach social studies and work in wilderness therapy, and to eventually create her own school, loosely based on the interdisciplinary, human ecological outdoor experiences she had at COA. In her plan there’s a fair amount of time spent paying attention to the discomforts—and the beauties—of the wilderness, facing the physical, emotional, and intellectual challenges that lead to true learning.
Jay Friedlander: Launching Sustainable Ventures By Jeffrey Dawson ’11 Jay Friedlander, who runs COA’s Sustainable Business Program, knows what it takes to launch a new venture. Jay was the chief operating O’Naturalist for O’Naturals, Inc., an organic fast-food restaurant group that has been a revolutionary model in the food industry. As in many small businesses, Jay was deeply involved, from menu creation and day-to-day operations to developing concepts and franchising. Today Jay is the Sharpe-McNally Chair of Green and Socially Responsible Business at COA. His Launching a New Venture class allows students to pursue a business idea and go through the formal process of examining and launching the enterprise—all in ten weeks. “The crucible of time forces you into action,” Jay says. “Ten weeks is intense, in order to write a business plan you end up living, eating, and breathing the stuff.”
Matthew McElwee ’12, Cayla Moore ’13, and Lisa Bjerke ’13 worked with Nick Harris ’12 (on the far right) to develop their award-winning sustainable business plan for Gourmet Butanol, turning yesterday’s eggplant into tomorrow’s fuel. Photo by Julia De Santis ’12. 28 | COA
Jay is passionate about conservation and sees business as a way to bring about fundamental
Apple display from MOFGA’s Great Maine Apple Day.
changes. He sees this class as “essential to human ecology. The thread of business runs throughout the fabric of our existence. As such, it is a powerful force for change. Whether the students seek to tackle issues like climate change, renewing local food systems, or influencing the way multinational companies are being run, students need to understand business.” The projects are as diverse as the student body— from converting food waste into fuel, to a mobile humane slaughterhouse, to recording people’s memoirs. Jay says there is a “tremendous amount of engagement outside of the class. Students are actively investigating the marketplace to help them shape their ideas. Often they need to reconcile the intellectual argument with the demands of their customers.” Many of the students who take Launching a New Venture go on with their projects. Jay believes that any time he teaches the course, about one-third of his students continue to pursue, develop, or launch their venture. Of this year’s class he says, “Almost everyone in one way or another is going forward.” Nicholas, or Nick, Harris ’12, who took the class this winter, is working on a business he calls Gourmet Butanol, transforming food and other organic waste into usable energy through a cutting-edge fermentation process. According to Nick, “With our process you can run your car on banana peels and coffee grounds.” The end result is butanol—a sustainable and direct replacement for gasoline and heating oil. Nick worked with classmates Lisa Bjerke ’13, Matt McElwee ’12, and Cayla Moore ’13 to create a business plan and hone a professional presentation. “The classroom was a safe place where we could throw our ideas out to peers,” says Nick. “It’s important to be able to articulate your ideas in a way that gets people excited about what you’re doing. The rest of the class saw our project from a different angle and often pointed out things that we had missed. We worked tirelessly to write a business plan and spent many late nights reworking and rethinking our venture. Every day we had new ideas. It was something like creating a clay sculpture that continually changed form.” For Nick and his team, the process worked so well that Gourmet Butanol won a statewide business plan contest for creating a sustainable business, earning $2,000 from the University of Southern Maine. Gourmet Butanol is now part of COA’s Sustainable Enterprise Hatchery, with $5,000 in funding from the college; it has already created a laboratory scale demonstration of what Nick likes to call, “turning yesterday’s eggplant parmesan into tomorrow’s fuel.”
Studying the Local to Connect to the Global History of Agriculture: Apples By Julia De Santis ’12 “With apples, you can them, taste them, and get splashed by the cider.” ~Andy Curtis ’11 There is a lot about apples you probably already know: the variety of colors, how they taste in a pie warm out of the oven, the difficulty of catching one bobbing in water, and of course the adage that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. But did you know that fresh apples float in water because 25 percent of their volume is air? That every seed will produce a different variety? Or that apple trees need safe environments with specific nutrients in which to grow, and protection from disease? Todd Little-Siebold, COA faculty member in history, is concerned with offering “students skills they can infuse with the rest of their education in human ecology.” In History of Agriculture: Apples, Todd uses apples to explore New England agriculture, attracting students interested in history, farming and food systems, community-based research, and policy/planning issues, as well as students who just really like apples. “Why apples? Well, we know that apple trees have been around tens of thousands of years. … This gets students asking historical questions,” explains Todd. COA | 29
“Moreover, trees propagate and seed easily in Maine’s climate, which creates a high diversity of apples to study. When someone finds a really good apple, they want to know, ‘Why can’t I get this apple?’ Maine had twelve thousand named apples in 1850; now we have only a couple hundred.” “I tasted things I have never tasted,” says class member Andrew, or Andy, Curtis ’11. “Apples that blow your mind.” Much of the class focuses on trying to understand what happened, with students heading into the field to interview the community to answer these questions. Their experiences then generate new questions. As student Natalie Barnett ’11 wrote in her journal, “It is not only the apple that is the story, it’s the farmers, the salesmen, the women in the kitchens, the kitchens themselves, the recipes, the trees, the barrels, the cider presses, the bottles made for hard cider, the root cellars storing the fruit, the cows and sheep eating the fallen apples, the trains carrying the fruit away … it is everything.” The skills Todd hopes the students learn from their field experiences range from understanding sources like historical atlases, diaries, and aerial surveys, to identification of antique apple varieties. And then there’s time management, especially in a ten-week term. “Apples are an excuse to talk to people about farming. But you can’t pursue all the leads. You need to figure out how to be savvy with your time,” Todd says. Andy is now working on his senior project, a holistic management plan for the orchards at COA’s Beech Hill Farm. He will plan for the trees that are already there and start a nursery bed with apple trees grafted in a workshop this spring. Andy hopes to use the old trees that have succumbed to disease to teach proper pruning and feeding techniques. “When I was a kid I would go to the cider mill with my family, collect apples, and watch them press the apples we collected,” he recalls. “It was always fun, but it’s different now. I have a different context. In class we tried to explain why there are all these trees that nobody takes care of. Then we visited experts in Vermont and New Hampshire. All those questions started making a lot of sense when we saw people living them.” So where did the apples go? “Well, we know that as people shifted from small to big farms priorities became about shipping and storing, not taste,” says Curtis. But why did people shift to big farms? Did they know what they were losing? The answer is not simple, but it was individuals making everyday decisions that slowly led to this dramatic change. 30 | COA
Such questions lead students to ask others, such as what are we losing now with the choices we make regarding agriculture, technology, and education, to name a few.
Kneading Across Cultures: Our Daily Bread By Blake Davis ’11 When Suzanne Morse, the Elizabeth Battles Newlin Chair in Botany, designed a course about grains and bread making, she wanted it to include not just grains, but farmers, traders, millers, and bakers. She wanted her class to experience everything it took to make a loaf of bread—from selecting seed, to harvesting the grain, to kneading the dough. Equally important, Suzanne wanted to expose students in Our Daily Bread: Following Grains through the Food System to more global trends. Using a grant from the Partridge Foundation, the class visited the college’s Transatlantic Partners, the University of Kassel in Germany and the Organic Research Centre, or ORC, in the United Kingdom. Through their travels, students explored how crops have developed because of changing economic conditions and land-use practices across the globe. Students visited farms, flour mills, and bakeries to understand how grains are grown, processed, and sold. They spent three weeks abroad at ORC facilities and a week at the University of Kassel, where the course focused on bread quality, culture, and sensory analysis. “Almost every day was a field trip,” says senior Steve Wagner, who took the class when it was first offered in summer 2009. “It was a total immersion.” Despite the intensity of the program and the frequent class discussions, Steve says one of the most valuable parts of the course occurred during an activity most people take for granted—shopping. “That’s when it became apparent to me that the concept of organics in the UK is totally different. You can really see this when you cook dinner with people there, or walk down the aisle” of the grocery store. Suzanne says it is precisely this reaction she hopes her students will have during their time abroad. “Organics is a visibly bigger market in the UK than it is the US,” says Steve. “Though probably an even bigger deal than being organic was the emphasis placed on being British-made.” The types of foods available to consumers, he says, were also different. Following the grains course, Steve returned to the ORC as an intern to research and collaboratively
Michelle Soto ’10 stands in a field of grain at the Sheepdrove Organic Farm in the United Kingdom. Insert shows one of the farm's gates. Photos by Stephen Wagner ’11.
develop possible solutions to the legal restrictions facing ORC’s wheat populations breeding project. He sees this work as a way for ORC and the larger organic movement to challenge the spread of intellectual property rights over plant genetic resources. “It’s not just how you think about wheat. It’s how you think about the world,” says Suzanne. By being truly immersed—not just in agriculture, but in the countries themselves—students do more than understand the theoretical differences between countries’ food systems. They wrestle with the actual implications of changing agricultural systems. In preparation for the course, students attended a kneading conference in Maine. During the class, they were required to keep blogs. The course concluded with a presentation of the results on their discussions and research. Although bread and agriculture are the primary focus, Suzanne says the implications of these subjects are far-reaching. “There was one man who just grew wheat to thatch roofs,” she says. “Students were fascinated by him. He was more interested in the stalks than the gluten content.” Gluten, adds Suzanne, contributes to the elasticity of bread dough and is emphasized by bakers. “The hardest thing about interdisciplinary study is that you can get lost among the tributaries of disciplines that flow in the watershed of an issue, such
as how our daily bread makes it to the table,” says Suzanne. She says the benefit of a traveling course is that it allows students to focus on a single topic instead of having to balance several classes at once. “With a traveling course the students have a common commitment to explore both broadly and deeply. It provides an incomparable opportunity to become immersed in a continuous educational experience.”
Carving into Art History: Art Since 1900 By Donna Gold In many ways, Catherine Clinger’s Art Since 1900: Harmony and Conflict, was a typical art history survey class examining artists’ “concerns with theories of the unconscious, radical political programs, social upheaval, and how scientific discoveries were expressed through artistic production.” But during the week spent looking at German expressionist prints, Catherine, the Allan Stone Chair in the Visual Arts, asked students to do more than view images. She had them carve wood panels to create woodblock prints, so that they would understand “the nature of the print as a process as well as an end product.” Catherine began with selecting the wood, taking students to a local mill to choose pine boards. Then she asked the students to design, cut, ink, and print an image from a woodblock. COA | 31
“The purpose of this physical enactment was to familiarize the students with the actual process of creating a print, start to finish,” Catherine says. “They gained insight into the aesthetic of the woodcut print through their sometimes frustrated but ultimately physically satisfying encounter with tools and material. We set up a temporary printer’s jig in Deering Common; a print shop on the fly!” “We weren’t supposed to think about it—just do it,” says Natalie Bloomfield ’14. “It was really exciting, really easy to get a hold of it and continue.” Woodcuts are both personal and physical, adds Adrienne Munger ’14. “Catherine encouraged all of us to approach our block of wood in the same mindset that other artists have in the past—without knowing what we were creating, letting the images come from inside of ourselves. The final result is a piece of art and a piece of ourselves. By experiencing the power of an art medium, I have recognized art’s ability to act as a channel between the inner self and the reality of the world.”
From top, left to right: Untitled by Austin Bamford ’14, Untitled by Natalie Bloomfield ’14, March 2011 by Adrienne Munger ’14.
32 | COA
Medium as Subject by Grace Cherubino â€™11.
COA | 33
POETRY Obade blackcurrant epicurean unreachable above parted lips, betwixt and between picnicking and foliage and my bark frangible, when you are drunk with sleep your mouth, (hollyhock) swilling juvenescence at the peak of this sweltering summer; zaftig, felled falling on eager tongues, tasted— then, absalom! to the damp of your neck. Jabulile Mickle Molefe ’14
Bog Boots I followed the stream southeast over logs and under branches weaving through young saplings until the sight of orange among the grey light of dusk drew me to cross the stream and to gently brush and shake the snow from the leaves that clung to the tree like it was all they could do to keep the days from getting shorter. The snow fell from them like dust from old memories and I began to think of fall and then summer, time in rewind. Wet dirt. Spring peepers. Dandelion crowns. And further back I would have gone if I had not looked up and seen the longest branch pointing me in the direction in which to continue, north. I traveled through and around swamps not knowing exactly where I was, only feeling lost when I entered dark thickets for a portion of my journey until I decided I’d wandered far enough and turned west in the direction of home. Ivy Sienkiewycz ’14
34 | COA
Smoke curling sweet like maple sap gliding from inside the tree sliding from your mouth to mine twining slowly around the edges of your lips as you exhale rich aromatic and the taste of you on my tongue and down my throat like thick, gooey honey and cool, clear water wisping almost translucent hanging like a cloud before it disappears into the air around us into the trees into the lapping ocean into the tendrils of your hair Hazel Jacoby ’14
Someone …who left about twenty minutes into a very good storm: two canopies, cloud over mangrove, and branching whites overexposing everything between them. Everything forgotten on the balcony is gritty with soil from the palm row but drying quickly this morning. And soon I’ve sunk to where the brand-new blue surface of the pool seems flush with the horizon, I watch the little children waddle to the sky. Alonso Diaz Rickards ’12
COA | 35
in memoriam Edward McCormick Blair July 18, 1915–December 22, 2010 By Steve Katona
Ed Blair was the grand nephew of Cyrus McCormick, who invented the McCormick reaper. He graduated from Groton, got his BA from Yale in 1938, and MBA from Harvard in 1940. During one Yale summer he and classmates Kermit Roosevelt and Deering Danielson crossed the Andes on horseback from Peru into Brazil. At the time Ed hoped to become an anthropologist; this trip was an acceptable alternative to his desire to fight in the Spanish Civil War. Ed served in the Pacific defusing mines during World War II, and as a lieutenant commander using cracked Japanese codes and intelligence to guide US submarines. After the war he began work in Chicago at William Blair & Co., the investment banking firm his father started, becoming a partner in 1950. He made a lot of money, and donated a great deal of it as a trustee of the Art Institute of Chicago (which received his fine collection of Paul Gauguin and a loan of his John Marin work—but only after exhibiting them at COA’s Ethel H. Blum Gallery); he also donated to the Rush University Medical Center and served as chair of the University of Chicago’s Investment Committee. He also helped pay tuition for college or graduate studies for children of employees at William Blair & Co., and for many young acquaintances from French Polynesia, from COA, and from elsewhere. Beginning as a baby with summer visits to his grandmother, Louise de Koven Bowen, Mount Desert Island became Ed’s summer love. At her palatial estate, Baymeath, in Hulls Cove, he sailed, fished, rode horses, and played with his cousins. I first met Ed twenty-five miles offshore from Northeast Harbor, where he and his wife, Elizabeth “Betty” Iglehart Blair, had their summer home, L’Escale. I was a COA faculty member in biology then, and we had gained permission from the Coast Guard to use the light station at Mt. Desert Rock to observe whales. Tidal currents upwell around the island, bringing nutrients and food to the surface, attracting shoals of copepods, krill, and herring, along with whales, porpoises, dolphins, seabirds, and other marine life to eat them. The island’s granite light tower, the farthest offshore along the east coast, made an ideal platform for viewing all this, as well as the comings and goings of lob36 | COA
ster fishermen, tub trawlers, gill netters, and other marine traffic. We were especially curious about a Boston Whaler driven by a man in a red sweater (or a yellow slicker in wet weather) that arrived a little after ten o’clock each morning, shut down, drifted for an hour, then departed. One day, several of us were in a skiff off the rock and went over to meet the man in the red sweater. Ed asked what we did on the island and we told him about COA and our whale research. We asked why he came out each morning and he said, “Why, to watch the whales and birds.” And so began many long friendships, both personal and institutional. Ed’s last boat, the 39-foot Lovely Lucy, (named for grand aunt Lucy Blair Linn), could get to the whales in forty-five minutes and gracefully accommodate whale researchers as well as the hundreds of guests who over the years took advantage of Ed’s open invitation to “Just come to the dock. We leave at nine o’clock.” This departure was strictly observed, fog, wind, rain, or shine. Ed not only sought whales, he located every eagle and osprey nest within range and frequently checked on their occupants.
In 1984, after a terrible fire and a short, unsuccessful presidency had COA reeling, Ed joined COA’s board of trustees. He was elected board chairman in 1990 and served until 1995. Ed listened carefully and did not speak often, but when he did his words were straightforward, strategic, and convincing. Once a decision was taken, his motto was “Charge ahead!” That philosophy steadily propelled the college from the edge of disaster to growth and prosperity. In 1993 the trustees honored Ed’s service, as well as that of his wife, Betty—who matched Ed’s gifts to the college dollar for dollar with her own—by naming the college’s main refectory and social center the Edward and Elizabeth Blair Dining Hall. In 1995, COA honored Betty by naming a wing of the college’s first student housing project the Blair-Tyson Dormitory. In 1994, Ed arranged for the donation of a yacht and the refit necessary to convert it to the R/V Indigo. In 2010, Ed recognized the college’s need for a larger, faster boat capable of taking classes to sea, and made the first gift—writing letters to friends asking them to match it. The R/V Osprey is slated for launching this summer. Over the years Ed underwrote a healthy portion of the budget for food, logistics, equipment, and salaries on Mt. Desert Rock. He also made special gifts to renovate the buildings, repairing damage from storms and hurricanes. In dedicating the island as the Edward McC. Blair Marine Research Station, the college mounted a plaque that reads, “His abiding love for the sea and his curiosity about whales, seals, fishes, and birds encourage all of us to study and conserve marine wildlife.” As a leader he was calm, wise, principled, and strategic. As a mentor he was wise, encouraging, and deeply interested. As a friend he was warm, open, generous of spirit, the first to help if illness or trouble arose. Constitutionally optimistic, Ed remained an adventurer always eager to see what lay over the ever-bright horizon, confident that it would be good. Thanks to him, it invariably was.
Katrina Sophia Windred ’89 November 5, 1963–November 20, 2010
It was with graceful tenacity that Katrina Windred— Katrina Hodgkins at COA—forged life. Katrina struggled with breast cancer even before coming to COA. An avid skier, her untimely death—her ex-boyfriend is being held without bail for her murder—marks the passing of a woman who embraced challenges with remarkable courage. We remember her words, spoken at First Universalist Church’s Looking Forward, Looking Back service on December 27, 2009:
“Some things do not change. I am a Scorpio, so, true to this water sign, I am seemingly programmed to uncover and shed light on dark places, those truths that are hard for most to swallow. No surprise, then, to see that the time line of my past is rammed full of tough hurdles. I have been here long enough to know that I draw these repeated, intense experiences to me, and with the passing of each test, gain a little more understanding of my purpose here. … At one of my darkest junctures, I was instructed by a native teacher to say thank you for everything: pain, frustration, anger, impatience, outright indignation. So, though I recall this practice holding a definite tone of sarcasm at first, by last year I had fully embraced the concept. Thank you, upon waking and feeling the cat at my feet on the bedcovers. Thank you, for the shades of pink that are reflected off the windowsills as I open my eyes. Thank you, throughout the day for the presence of seagulls and crows and turkeys, for to me they speak of communication, magic, and gratitude. Thank you, for the time to slow a breath and feel it, anytime I choose.” This excerpt of a poem by Katrina comes from the 1986 Edge of Eden: 6 december 85 oh green of grass and feline eyes give me an ounce of newness of wonderment to raise my stolid, hibernating mind from this dark sleeplike trance. —Donna Gold
Elizabeth “Beth” Straus
November 23, 1916 – December 6, 2010 In 2004 and 2005, I had the honor and deep pleasure of helping Beth Straus write Recollections, a memoir for her family. Beth was a distinguished woman, a trustee at the Museum of Modern Art and the New York Botanical Gardens. She was also a great friend to the college and wife to our longtime trustee, the late Don Straus. In 2008, Beth received an honorary MPhil in human ecology from COA. Before moving to Maine, Beth was known for her art collection and for introducing people to abstract COA | 37
expressionism. She is also credited with helping the New York Botanical Garden move from a public garden to an educational institution and with encouraging David Rockefeller to fund the restoration of what became the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden using Beatrix Farrand’s plans. In gratitude, the Botanical Garden built “Beth’s Maze,” a children’s area at the garden. Beth continued to be active in Maine as a master gardener and chair of the Island Foundation, now the Mount Desert Land & Garden Preserve. Her own Maine garden, on the shores of Somes Sound, was a lyric wonder. But what I remember most about Beth is the way she was transformed through her tales. Her eyes sparked and a mischievous smile came over her lips as this gracious, incisive, and effective woman who was nearing ninety became the daring girl and young woman of her stories. “I think that if you’re going to live life, you might as well savor it,” she said to me once. I think she truly did.
In National Public Radio’s remembrance of him as “a scholar and an intellectual and an environmentalist,” James Fallows said Roger Milliken “represented a kind of high-end, intellectually based conservatism that’s not quite as permanent on the American scene now.” The obituary in The New York Times added this about his trusteeship at the historically white Wofford College: “Mr. Milliken pushed for racial integration at Wofford College in Spartanburg in the 1960s, volunteering to support the college financially if its acceptance of black students drove other financial backers away.” Roger skied well into his eighties, and when summering on Mount Desert Island, he climbed mountains daily and raced sailboats twice a week. A planter of millions of trees, Roger is remembered fondly for this bumper sticker:
October 24, 1915 – December 30, 2010 Roger Milliken, whose wife Nita was a COA trustee in the early 1980s, was a generous supporter of the college. Running his family textile and chemical business since age thirty-two, Roger was staunchly committed to keeping manufacturing jobs in the United States. Milliken & Company has been listed as one of the “Best Places to Launch a Career” in Business Week and one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” by Fortune. For five years running, Ethisphere magazine has recognized the company as among the “World’s Most Ethical Companies.” Only twenty-six companies in the world have earned this honor for all five years of its existence. Roger Milliken was also strongly committed to the environment. Milliken & Company is third-party certified carbon negative thanks to recycling as well as reductions in emissions and waste. It diverts 99.98% of its waste to places where it can be reused, recycled or converted to energy.
38 | COA
—Steve Milliken, nephew and former COA trustee
May 26, 1941– January 3, 2011 David Towle, longtime Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory scientist and director of its DNA Sequencing and Analysis Core, was responsible for starting or boosting the careers of several COA students who are now working on advanced degrees at some of the best universities in the country and in Europe. A great teacher, he was one of the most upbeat people I knew. He brought that energy into the classroom where he had COA students believing in themselves and their ability, and helped them to feel comfortable with labwork. David’s presence at MDIBL was a critical factor in the early success of the lab’s collaboration with COA some nine years ago. —Chris Petersen, COA faculty member in biology
Alumni COANotes Beat
1977 In his work for a Vermont community-building nonprofit, Hugh MacArthur brings together low income homeowners and volunteers to make urgently needed home repairs. He is increasing his sustainable lifestyle through home gardening, PV electrical generation, bicycling, and tending a close, tight-knit, loving, three-generation household. David Winship is finishing a career in public education at the end of this school year. He hosts the weekly radio show “Vinyl Reflections” on WEHC-FM 90.7 in the southern mountains near Emory, Virginia. The show is streamed on www.ehc.edu and features his old record collections, which some may remember from his COA days. David’s recent publications include Rumble Strips, a self-published book of poetry; an article in the magazine of the Historical Society of Washington County, Virginia about the connections of the Swedenborg Church and Abingdon, Virginia; and “No Child Left Ahead: Gifted Education in Virginia,” to be published in the Virginia Education Association magazine.
1978 Elizabeth Tova Bailey’s The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, which was excerpted in the previous issue, has continued to receive accolades, including the 2011 John Burroughs Medal Award for a Distinguished Natural History Book and the 2010 National Outdoor Book Award in Natural History Literature. The New York Review of Books labeled it “brilliant,” and Susan Stamberg called it “a gem,” listing it among the best books of 2010 on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition. Beth, who lived in Seafox while a visiting student, still prefers to use a pseudonym.
Jim and Julie MacLeod Hayes and Sue and Enno Becker (’76) are grandparents of Lydia, born to son Iain and his wife Emily.
1980 At Gardens by Design, Steve Demers designs, drafts, and builds houses and gardens on Mount Desert Island, where he loves living. Daughter Lilly is a secondyear student at COA. Cynthia Jordan Fisher directs Babies By The Blue Ridge, a Montessori program for toddlers and infants. She also teaches parent/ child classes and provides postpartum care as a doula.
1982 Greg Stone wrote an article on the Phoenix Islands for National Geographic. His recent blog about an expedition to Indonesia is available at the New England Aquarium website.
1983 At Landmark College in Vermont, Abigail Littlefield is chair of the Natural Science Department and keeps bees.
1984 Vicki Nichols Goldstein is living in Boulder, Colorado, enjoying the open space and hip people. She started the Colorado Ocean Coalition, a project of The Ocean Foundation, an effort to protect the ocean from a mile high. The coalition is connecting photographers, scientists, advocates, nonprofits, and all ocean lovers to address the alarming issues of overfishing, marine pollution, and acidification. Vicki says she loves to mountain bike, ski, bird, and coyote watch, and hang out with her family. She tries to get to the coast as much as possible to reconnect with the ocean.
1985 Meg Scheid is working at St. Croix Island International Historic Site in Calais, Maine, one of the three National Park System sites in Maine.
1990 Bar Harbor artist, writer, and teacher Emily Bracale held a book signing for her new work, In the Lyme-Light, Portraits of Illness and Healing, at the Southwest Harbor Public Library. Her exhibit by the same name was on display at the library for the month of February. Intended to raise awareness, Emily’s book and artwork explore the effects of Lyme disease and are available through www.inthelyme-light.com. Gordon Longsworth traveled over ten thousand miles across Canada and the United States on his motorcycle last year, touring the Canadian Rockies, Pacific Northwest, and many national parks. He towed a homemade camping trailer he designed and built. Interest from other riders inspired the launch of GreenLite Trailers, a business building and selling light camping trailers for motorcycles. Working closely with his father, Gordon has designed and engineered a lighter production model, which he will take to Lake George, New York this spring for Americade TourExpo, the largest motorcycle vending rally in the world. GreenLite Trailers promotes the use of renewable and recyclable materials to produce a lasting and energy-efficient product. Learn more at www.GreenLiteTrailers. com Last June, Susi Newborn began a new position as the CEO for WIFTNZ, Women in Film Television, New Zealand. Her documentary, Kit & Maynie: Tea, Scones and Nuclear Disarmament, was nominated for Best Documentary (short) and Best Director at the COA | 39
International Documentary Edge film festival in Auckland. Susi was also the subject of a Dutch documentary, The Rainbow Warriors of Waiheke Island, which narrowly missed the People’s Choice Award at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. The feature film of her autobiography is in pre-production and she is working on a documentary which will be set in Alaska.
1992 Lelania Prior Avila performed in her ten-year-old daughter’s production of the Nutcracker Ballet and is engaged in radical unschooling adventures, including yoga, mindfulness, dance, puppeteering, organic food, and paradigm-shifting toward peace. She and her children started a seasonal business, “Barred Owl Service,” to support their favorite farmers. They are also devising bumper sticker slogans such as, “Just because I’m not on Facebook doesn’t mean I’m dead.” Richard Emmons is a technical specialist at Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge in Massachusetts.
1995 Matt and Elizabeth Rousek Ayers welcomed their daughter, Lucy Kearfott, on October 12, bringing their girl count to four! Elizabeth does garden design work when she can, but her main focus is the kids and their hobby farm. Elizabeth is bringing human ecology to their small-town Pennsylvania elementary school PTO.
40 | COA
This past fall, Derren Rosbach successfully defended his dissertation on cross-disciplinary research efforts and is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor and Undergraduate Advisor in the School of Public and International Affairs at Virginia Tech.
1996 James Kellam welcomed Thomas Fisher ’77 as the keynote speaker at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, for the Bioethics Forum, sponsored by the Department of Biology where Jim is on the faculty. Tom presented a talk on “Environmental Ethics, Green Building and the Third Factor,” in which he discussed the standards for LEED certification of buildings and what ecological and ethical perspectives can inform and drive the design of green buildings. Jim has been convener of the Bioethics Forum for three years and got the idea to invite Tom after reading the biographical sketch of him in the previous issue of this magazine.
1997 Brenden Moses is dock manager at F.W. Thurston Lobster Company in Bass Harbor, Maine, while Rachel Moses ’98 owns Sunflower Greenhouses and manages Acadia Farmer’s Market in Town Hill. Donnie Mullen and Erin Spencer-Mullen welcomed Ceri into their lives on July 26, 2010. He writes, “She is crawling everywhere and now pulls herself up to standing. She’s very social and is quite the chatter box. Parenthood goes well.”
Josie (Sigler) Sibara writes from the Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Residency for Writers on the Rogue River in Oregon to say that her collection of short fiction, The Galaxie and Other Rides, has won the Tartts First Fiction Award and will be published by Livingston Press next year. Melita Peharda Uljevic writes “my biggest news is that on April 29 I gave birth to my second child, a baby girl named Lara. Our 3-year-old son Bepo is a proud older brother and very gentle with Lara. I am also researching marine bivalves through national and international projects, teaching at undergraduate and graduate levels, and currently have three PhD students. Quite exciting. My husband is on the faculty of Kinesiology at University of Split, teaching and doing research related to water sports—primarily sailing. He is working on his PhD and as a coach for Olympic class sailors. I sincerely hope that when kids grow up a bit I’ll have a chance to bring them to COA and show them a very special place for me.”
1998 Erik Martin is working on freshwater aquatic connectivity as a GIS analyst for The Nature Conservancy, and living in Durham, Maine. Faculty members Chris Petersen and Helen Hess joined Abby Rowe with Toby Stephenson and
Alumni COANotes Beat Andrea Perry ’95 on a trip to the Galapagos Islands. Jasmine Tanguay and her husband Eric are keeping busy with their one-year-old son Xaven, who is excited to stretch his new legs in the yard with the chickens now that the snow has melted! This winter she assumed a new position as Associate Managing Director at CLF Ventures and Eric started an energy efficiency consulting company, Toward Net Zero Energy. They are living in Stoughton, Massachusetts.
2000 Melinda Casey-Magleby and her wife Ellen welcomed their daughter, Raina Daniel, on December 30, 2010. They write, “She is a delight and quickly becoming more aware of the world around her.” Melinda has been teaching math and science at Edward Brooke Charter School in Boston for the past five years and is working on a master’s degree at Harvard University in teaching math. They live in Roslindale near the Arnold Arboretum, where Raina loves to go and look at the trees. Cerissa Desrosiers is the lead group therapist at Directional Behavioral Health Associates in New Hampshire. Alexa Pezzano continues to work for the National Park Service in Acadia National Park. Coreysha (Lothrop) Stone recently published her first children’s book Let’s Go For A Woods Walk, a story inspired by her many adventures with her children in nature. The book is self published through www. lulu.com. Coreysha works as an occupa-
tional therapy assistant and lives in Alna, Maine with her husband and two children Halena and Ellis. Contact cmstone10@gmail. com.
On May 9, Jen (Dupras) Dussault and husband Jason welcomed their first baby, Silas Flynn, into the world. Mom, Dad, and Silas are all doing very well—albeit adjusting to life with much less sleep.
Amanda Witherell writes from her voyage on the sailboat Clara Katherine, having journeyed more than nine thousand miles from Panama City, to the South Pacific archipelago Tonga, to Opua, New Zealand with her boyfriend Brian Twitchell: “So far New Zealand is an absolute joy. I can’t seem to wipe the smile from my face. I’ve loved the tropics, but this kiwi land feels like home. We sailed through fog into Bay of Islands and it looked and felt and smelled like Maine. Except there was a penguin in the water!”
2001 A recent graduate from the University of Oklahoma’s Accelerated BS in nursing program in San Diego, California, Dave Gooch will be starting his nursing career through the New Graduate Residency program at Sharp Memorial Hospital, also in San Diego.
Kathryn Hunninen finished her MS in Parks and Resource Management and Environmental Education last May and is now working as the Community Sustainability Coordinator at Mt. Washington Community Development Corporation. She writes, “Life is good with husband, Jose Luis, and six year-old daughter Hannah.” Since January, Clementine Mallet has been living in Worcester, Massachusetts, integrating her passions for France and its wonderful foods by working with Crossings, an importer of fine French foods. She is rediscovering the charms of New England life. Contact her at email@example.com. Julia (Davis) McLeod had a wonderful time with COA friends at her wedding to Andy McLeod in September. Those who came were (left to right in the photo): Kate Porter, Adam Czaplinski ’04, Cory Whitney, Kim Nathane ’04, Sarah Bockian ’05, Heather Albert-Knopp ’99 and Lora Winslow ’04.
Having completed his MFA from California College of the Arts in San Francisco, Noah Krell is showing his work, primarily video and photography, in exhibits across the nation. His new work is regularly updated on his website, www.noahkrell.com.
Rickie Bogle is working with both a potter and jeweler in Portland, Maine and starting a private massage therapy practice.
Eamonn Hutton and Amy Hoffmaster ’06 are engaged and planning a September wedding. Eamonn recently curated Urban COA | 41
Fabric: Strategies for American Cities, an exhibition at Sasaki in Boston. Amy completed her EdM from Harvard University in May. Eda (Kapinova) Holl and her husband Matt announced the birth of their son Benjamin on April 2, 2010. Both she and Matt graduated with their PhDs in immunology last summer (he from Duke University and she from University of North Carolina). Eda is working at the Translational Research Center at Duke.
2006 Ryan Higgins recently moved back to Maine from Arizona and is writing and illustrating a book, How Humphrey Got His Zipper, which will be available next spring. Emily Blazek graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a master’s degree in public health. She currently lives in Portsmouth and will be completing her fifth year as a science teacher in New Hampshire.
2008 At Blue Hill Consolidated School, Chandra Bisberg teaches eighth grade English and Social Studies. Shoshana Smith is working as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Preble Street in Portland, Maine. She
writes, “My fellow VISTA coincidentally also worked at Beech Hill Farm last summer.” Amanda Spector is in her second year at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.
2009 Laura Howes recently moved to Gloucester, Massachusetts for her new position as the Intern Coordinator/Database Manager at the Whale Center of New England. Even though she’s going to be very busy and is coming in at a bit of a difficult time for the Whale Center, she’s very excited about her job. In addition to hiring and overseeing interns, she will naturalize on Stellwagen and is in charge of the humpback catalog there. She loves Gloucester so far, especially that the location is close to Bar Harbor. Working on a three-year program for a dual master’s degree in marine biology and marine policy at the University of Maine, Michael Kersula is a research assistant on a National Science Foundation project. He is interviewing fishermen and constructing computer models of Gulf of Maine fisheries; the models will interact with one another, local environments, and fish populations. Michael writes “The night before moving to California last autumn, Howdy [Houghton, COA’s night watchman] found me at the Lompoc at about midnight, and told me about this research position at UMO. After getting off the plane out west, I found out more about the project and decided it sounded important enough to join. My adviser said that Howdy is the only fisherman he would ever take a reference from, and he did. It just goes to show that good things happen to those of us who stay up late drinking in bars on weeknights.”
Elena Piekut is a program coordinator with Green Mountain Conservation Group in Effingham, New Hampshire, a nonprofit she helped found in 1997—yes, when she was 10. She writes, “It was a very exciting time—a grassroots group formed over one initial issue of a proposed stock car racetrack directly over the Ossipee Aquifer, a vulnerable and abundant source of drinking water. I was around for a lot of the early meetings, attended contentious public hearings, got my fourthgrade friends to sign a petition against the racetrack, and started writing little articles for GMCG’s newsletter (my sister Jill ’12 contributed poems).” Elena’s work now focuses on guiding youth leaders to advocate for the preservation of water quality in the Ossipee Watershed. “I remember commenting in my interview how I can’t say with any certainty that I would have taken the same directions in my education and life if it hadn’t been for this. And now it’s my job to provide those experiences to a new generation!”
2010 After graduating from COA, Ncamiso Sonic Dlamini says he is enjoying every bit of daily life and work! As he gains responsibility both at work in Mbabane, Swaziland, and in his personal life, he credits COA and the Davis UWC Scholars Program. He appreciates being with his fiancée, Simphiwe Khumalo, saying, “She’s such a great partner, always encouraging me to work hard.” Noah Hodgetts is working with Glen Berkowitz ’82 at Beaufort Windpower, to make Bog Wind Project a reality.
Do you have notes for COA magazine? Email them to Dianne Clendaniel at firstname.lastname@example.org. 42 | COA
Alumni COANotes Beat
Alumni Donor Profile Why I Give: Sonja Johanson ’95
What I’m doing now: I am fortunate enough, right now, to be able to work as a “professional volunteer.” I am a frequent guest science teacher at the Montessori school my children attend; I run an outdoor classroom/organic garden for the public elementary school in my town; I offer classes through Trustees of the Reservations (a conservation organization), and I save and reoffer heirloom seeds through Seed Savers Exchange. My most involved project is running the training program for the Massachusetts Master Gardener Association. Our program trains approximately ninety new master gardeners each year, with the mission to offer horticultural outreach and gardening support to the public. I get to design the curriculum, work with amazing speakers, and guerrilla teach a little human ecology... How I got here: When I was a student at COA, I had no idea that I would become so interested in horticulture. But, no matter which class I took, every single teacher I had taught me to question assumptions and make my own observations; each drilled the concept of interconnectedness into me. Several years after graduation, I happened to read Michael Pollan’s Botany of Desire, and I got it. I didn’t just get interested in plants; I got that we are interdependent with our food crops, that we have co-evolved with them, and that there is an implicit contract between us and our domesticated plants. It was everything I had ever been taught about human ecology, right there in the seed catalogue. Suddenly, I realized that my work with the school garden (and eventually the master gardeners) was an opportunity to teach the past and present of our relationship with our domestic plants, and was a vehicle for sharing the concept of human ecology. Why I give: I give to COA’s annual fund because I am able to. That sounds like a truism, but it isn’t. There was a point when my work schedule did not allow me to volunteer at all; I now have a lot of time to volunteer and give back, and I am grateful for every single second of it. COA influences how I choose to live and contribute to society, and permeates every aspect of my life. Since I don’t live close enough to volunteer directly, contributing to the annual fund is the way I am best able to give back to the community that shaped my life in such an incredible way.
Sonja is a Master Gardener Training Coordinator as a part of the Massachusetts Master Gardener Association The pictures, clockwise from the top, include one of the New England heirlooms that I maintain at the Wheelock School Victory Garden, and reoffer through Seed Savers Exchange. (Photo credit: Ryan Smith) My children often accuse me of loving my plants more than I love them—the fact that we eat the plants does not seem to dissuade them from this idea—and so I had to also send a picture of one of my children. COA | 43
Tom Adelman announced a grant from the Quimby Family Foundation to support Islands Through Time and Rivers: A Wilderness Odyssey, COA’s summer programs for high school students. The $17,000 grant enables the college to include more low-income students in the program. Judy Allen, COA registrar and associate director of Allied Whale, and Peter Stevick ’81, Allied Whale research associate, were co-authors on the paper, “Return Movement of a Humpback Whale between the Antarctic Peninsula and American Samoa: a Seasonal Migration Record” by Jooke Robbins of the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies, Massachusetts. The paper, published in Endangered Species Research, Vol. 13: 117-121, 2011, discusses the use of photoidentification to identify the feeding grounds of an endangered sub-population that breeds in the central South Pacific Ocean. Robbins found that whales breeding in American Samoa were feeding in the Antarctic Peninsula, a departure from historical assumptions about migratory patterns. One individual was confirmed to journey at least 11,700 miles, round-trip, the largest mammalian migration known to date. Molly Anderson, Partridge Chair in Food and Sustainable Agriculture Systems, has been continuing to work with a farm task force reviewing options for the new Peggy Rockefeller Farm and updating the strategic plan for Beech Hill Farm. The Transatlantic Partnership between COA, Elm Farm Organic Research Centre in England and the Germany’s University of Kassel’s Faculty in Organic Sciences is beginning to develop three distance learning modules, incorpo44 | COA
rating student interaction across continents. This spring, Molly attended the Organicology Conference in Portland, Oregon, where she spoke on improving food access for low-income and minority populations. She also spoke on a panel on food security as part of the Boston Science Museum’s “Let’s Talk about Food” series. In late March, she participated in the Community Food Security Coalition’s Board meeting in Baltimore and attended a Stakeholder Forum meeting on International Environmental Governance. Nancy Andrews, performance art and video production, showed her movies, Behind the Eyes are the Ears and On a Phantom Limb at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago last December, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and CalArts in Los Angeles in March. In April, she screened her films at COA, performing on vocals and violin with a host of others including Zach Soares ’00, COA’s audio visual technology specialist (guitar, bass, and vocals), Lisa Leaverton (violin), John Cooper, COA faculty member in music (keyboards), and Mike Bennett, adjunct faculty member (drums). In April the films were shown at Chicago Filmmakers and at the Transmodern Festival in Baltimore, Maryland. The Museum of Modern art just collected Nancy’s most recent films, so the MoMA now has a collection of six of her works. Internship and career services director Jill Barlow-Kelley is a founding member of the MDI Toastmasters International club, a weekly learnby-doing workshop in which participants hone their speaking and leadership skills in a friendly atmosphere. The club meets weekly in Bar Harbor; Jill hopes to bring a student chapter to campus.
Beech Hill Farm is home to a Renewable Energy Demonstration Project thanks to a $48,000 grant from Efficiency Maine Trust. The project explores the viability of various alternative energy approaches on traditional Maine farms. There are now solar panels on the roof of the farmhouse and on one of the farm’s irrigation pumps, and a wood pellet boiler will be going into its greenhouse. Because energy efficiency goes a long way to sustainability, Curry Caputo ’95 of Sustainable Structures conducted an energy audit for the farm last November. Anna Demeo, project director and COA lecturer in physics, says the tenpanel array generated a full megawatt of energy in four of the darkest months in Maine. That much electricity would power an average Maine home for 2.5 months. The most recent issue of Commonwealth Human Ecology Council Journal published a condensed version of Rich Borden’s keynote address from last year’s International Human Ecology Conference in Manchester, UK, “The Future of Human Ecology.” Haystack Mountain School of the Arts has invited Bill Carpenter, literature and creative writing, to be the school’s writer-in-residence this June. Catherine Clinger, Allan Stone Chair in the Visual Arts, was an invited speaker to McGill University’s Art History and Communication Studies last December. Her paper was titled “Frameworks of Will and Chance: The Dresden Pendants of Caspar David Friedrich.” Also, with the help of the Maurine and Robert Rothschild Student Faculty Research Fund Award, Catherine and Joslyn Richardson ’12 are working on the project, “Seeing Small—Investigating Aesthetic Modes of Microscopic Vision,” researching the history of microscopy during the nineteenth century and the concomitant visual culture that
Faculty & Community COANotes Beat exemplifies the findings of such investigations during this period. The research takes Catherine and Joslyn to Jackson Laboratory’s microscopes and the New York Public Library to look at primary texts containing early-modern and modern engravings, etchings, and woodcuts of small life forms. In January, Dru Colbert performed a version of her shadow play Flotsam about a historic shipwreck in Frenchman’s Bay as a kickoff event for the Mount Desert Island Historical Society’s celebration of 250 years on Mount Desert Island. Local community members—many with COA connections—participated, including Barbara Meyers ’90, former library staff member Debra Andrews, Matt Shaw ’11, Alice Anderson ’12, Gina Sabbatini ’13, and faculty members Nancy Andrews and Sean Todd. Last fall, students from Dru’s class Graphic Design Studio 1 created posters for MDI Hospital’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program, or SANE. The organization received a grant to distribute this work to
regional program offices. Also, in winter, students in the class created public awareness pieces for the Wild Gardens of Acadia, and Opportunity Maine, among other local nonprofits. Linear Transitions, the developmental method of improvisation studies for high school and college jazz ensembles written by John Cooper, faculty member in music, is now a nine-volume
series that is used by jazz programs in eleven states. This is an update of John’s original Steps Ahead jazz improvisation system of the
1980s. Because John believes that no one can speak creatively in a language in which they are not articulate, he has created a method that “hyper-develops” a student’s music fluency.
the Santa Fe Institute workshop on Randomness, Structure, and Causality: Measures of complexity from theory to applications. In February, he gave a talk on “Chaos and Dynamical Systems” at a workshop hosted by the institute titled Exploring Complexity in Science & Technology from the SFI Perspective. During winter and spring terms of 2012, Dave will be on a Fulbright Fellowship to Rwanda.
Continuing to work on the National Science Foundation-funded Hancock County Firewood Project are faculty members Gray Cox, political economy, along with Don Cass, chemistry; Davis Taylor, economics; and Ken Cline, COA’s David Rockefeller Family Chair in Ecosystem Management and Protection; staff members Craig Ten Broeck, COA’s sustainability consultant; Gordon Longsworth ’91, GIS director; Kate Macko, Sustainable Business Program Administrator; and some nineteen students. The group has completed a household survey of a representative sample of county residents and a winter survey of particle emissions; it has also presented findings to six local community groups, on WERU, at two state conferences and the Society for Human Ecology. With Karen Waldron, faculty member in literature, Gray has developed plans for a French immersion program in Vichy focused on French literature, philosophy, and culture. Also, Gray has started playing bones and guitar with Maclir, a local Celtic music band. In June, Gray is hosting the annual summer research seminar of the Quaker Institute for the Future at COA. See more at www.quakerinstitute.org.
Jay Friedlander, Sharpe-McNally Chair of Green and Socially Responsible Business, has been spreading the word about the Sustainable Business Program. This winter the program was selected as a finalist for the Outstanding Specialty Entrepreneurship Program by the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, the nation’s premier entrepreneurship conference. (Other finalists included Penn State with 80,000 students and Kennesaw State with 20,000 students.) COA was selected as a presenter from more than one hundred applicants at the AshokaU Exchange Fall Conference at Duke University. Jay, along with students Nick Harris ’11, Calya Moore ’13, Lisa Bjerke ’13, and Matt McElwee ’12, presented in the session “From Classroom to Practice: Giving Academic Credit for Social Entrepreneurship Projects.” The group highlighted COA’s applied approach to learning. Locally, as part of the Green Tea Breakfast Series, Jay moderated a panel for Maine Businesses for Sustainability on Green Teams in the workplace. He was also an invited reviewer for two textbooks: Sustainability Marketing: A Global Perspective, by Wiley Publishing and Understanding Social Entrepreneurship: The Relentless Pursuit of Mission in an Ever Changing World by Routledge Publishing.
In January, Dave Feldman, math and physics, gave a talk titled “Complexity and Frustration” at
Helen Hess and Chris Petersen, faculty members in biology, visited Belize in February to scout COA | 45
sites for the 2011 Tropical Marine Ecology class, which is scheduled for this fall, with a Caribbean field trip over winter break. Back in Maine, they co-authored a paper with lead author Robin Van Dyke ’11 on parasitism in intertidal snails for the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory Bulletin. Conferences have been occupying the spare time of Todd Little-
Siebold, history. He has organized The Guatemala Scholars Network Conference in Antigua, Guatemala, on July 7 and 8, bringing together Guatemalan scholars in history, anthropology, linguistics, public health, and other areas. He also traveled to Toronto to participate in a Guatemala Scholars Network planning session at the Latin American Studies Association Conference, to the American Anthropology Association in New Orleans, and to the Rocky Mountain Conference of Latin American Studies in Santa Fe. Todd’s fascination with apples has led him to help launch the Downeast Food Heritage Collaborative with two local nonprofits, the Woodlawn Museum in Ellsworth, Maine, and Healthy Acadia, to talk about the region’s food heritage. On October 8 and 9, as part of the Downeast Apple Week, Todd is organizing an “Heirloom Apple Seminar” at Woodlawn with Peter Hatch, director of Gardens and Grounds at Monticello, in Charlottesville, Virginia. Todd has also encouraged several pruning workshops and a grafting workshop at COA’s Beech Hill Farm. Forty heirloom varieties have been grafted to be planted in a new orchard next year. 46 | COA
Wiggins Professor of Government and Polity, Jamie McKown, has been focused on the Hazlett Project, an attempt to document and recover the political work of nineteenth century women’s suffrage activist and Michigan Republican operative Adelle Hazlett, combing archives in Michigan for materials that will help piece together her life and hopefully shed new light on the relationship between suffrage activism and partisan politics in the early upper Midwest. Together with Natalie Barnett ’11, Steve Wagner ’11, and Eliza Ruel ’13, Jamie has documented and transcribed at least six previously unknown speeches on politics and women’s suffrage. Thanks to a generous donation by the Davis family, Jamie is also piloting a new program in debate at COA, looking into creating a viable student-run debate union at the college. Karla Peña, lecturer in Spanish, has had her MA thesis, a study of the innovative immersion Spanish language program she has developed for COA, accepted for June publication in RedELE, www. educacion.gob.es/redele/index. shtm. The journal is sponsored by the Ministry of Education of Spain and is among the top international professional journals for the teaching of Spanish as a second language. In addition to work mentioned with Helen, above, Chris Petersen co-authored three papers for the Mount Desert Island Biological Lab Bulletin on estuarine fish, including one with Dale Quinby ’12 on reproductive behavior of killifish. He also had two chapters published in the book Reproduction and Sexuality in Marine Fishes (2010, University of California Press), one coauthored with Phil Hastings of Scripps Institute of Oceanography and the second with Carlotta Mazzoldi of the University of Padova. Chris continues to work with Penobscot East Resource Center on Marine Policy issues and together with
Ken Cline co-sponsored a Marine Policy Speaker series this spring at which alumnus Justin Huston ’99 spoke about his work in Nova Scotia coastal management. During his winter sabbatical, Chris also created a new website: http:// chriswpetersen.wordpress.com. Faculty member in botany, Nishanta Rajakaruna, along with Tanner Harris ’07, S. Clayden, A. Dibble, and adjunct faculty member Fred Olday, published “Lichens of Callahan Mine, a copper and zinc-enriched Superfund site in Brooksville, Maine, U.S.A.” in Rhodora 113. In early April, he traveled to the Northeast Natural History Conference in Albany, New York, along with Louise Kirven-Dows ’12, Matthew Dickinson ’13, Jillian Gall ’13, Margaret Mansfield ’11, Luka Negoita ’11, and Hazel Stark ’11. The students presented the independent research they had done with Nishi. Hazel gave an oral presentation; the rest offered posters. Steve Ressel, faculty member in biology, offered the public talk, “Stories in the Snow: Winter Ecology in Maine,” at the Schoodic Education and Research Center in Maine last December. He also gave a guest lecture on the reptiles and amphibians of Costa Rica to the Tropical Rainforest Ecology class at Mount Desert Island High School. Doreen Stabinsky, agricultural policy, international studies, and global environmental politics, has been awarded a $25,000 Switzer Leadership Grant to work with the Minneapolis-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy on global climate and agriculture policy. In December, she accompanied a delegation of
Faculty & Community COANotes Beat twelve COA students to the UN Climate Change conference in Cancún, México. Her work on global environmental diplomacy also brought her to the UN in March for the Preparatory Committee meeting for the upcoming Conference on Sustainable Development to be held in Brazil in 2012. She attended the PrepCom meeting as a senior fellow of the Global Policy Forum. In early April, Karen Waldron, literature, presented the paper, “The Literary Ecology of Willa Cather’s O Pioneers!” at a Northeast Modern Language Association panel on Literary Landscapes: Representation and Imagination, in New Brunswick, New Jersey. She also chaired a panel on Contemporary Women’s Novels: The Changing Story? The panel included work from scholars examining novels from India, Japan, Haiti, and the United Kingdom. Karen is currently at work editing a collection of essays tentatively titled Toward a Literary Ecology of Place with an American Studies colleague at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
The XVIII International Conference of the Society for Human Ecology As in the past, COA had a strong presence at the SHE Conference, “Human Responsibility and Environmental Change Planning, Process and Policy,” which was held at the MonteLago Village Resort near Las Vegas in late April. Executive Director Rich Borden served as co-chair of the conference and also chaired the Mind and Nature symposium, and delivered the paper, “Personal Ecology—Where is the Environment?” Also in that session were John Visvader, faculty member in philosophy, offering the paper, “Imaging the Human: The Limits of Naturalistic Explanation,” and Patricia Honea-Fleming, a licensed psychologist and COA faculty associate, who gave “Netting the Web: How the Mind Weaves Identity to Naturalize Technology.” Rich also took part in the round-table forum on “New Directions in Human Ecology Education” with Ken Hill, to whom Rich has passed the mantle of SHE executive director. In the session Teaching and Learning Natural History in the Field, John Anderson, William H. Drury, Jr. Chair in Evolution, Ecology and Natural History, gave the paper, “Natural History and a Sense of Place.” With students from COA and Prescott College, Nishanta Rajakaruna modeled teaching about desert reptiles in the field. In the Food Systems—Food Security session, Molly Anderson gave the paper, “Sustainable Food Security: Who Has the Solution?” Lucy Atkins ’12 presented a poster in the open poster session, “Connecting Self, Community, and Environment: A Sketch of an Education Center.” At the Healthy Families and Communities session, graduate student Erik Bond gave the paper, “The Shape of the Family: Human Ecological Impacts of Economic Structure on Family Systems.” Jacqueline Bort, MPhil ’11, and Sean Todd, the Steven K. Katona Chair in Marine Studies, presented the paper “Acoustic Behavior of North Atlantic Right Whales in a Potential Winter Breeding/Feeding Ground: Implications for Management of Human Activity” for the session on Resource Planning: Creative Solutions. Co-authors were Peter Stevick ’81, Sofie Van Parijs and Erin Summers. Mihnea Tanasescu ’06, now at the Vrije Universiteit Brussels, also gave a paper in this session. His was “Nature as Subject: The Problem of Rights.” Continuing their work on local fuel for Hancock County, faculty members Gray Cox, Don Cass, and Davis Taylor offered the paper, “Developing Our Energy Future: Residential Heating with Wood in Hancock County, Maine” for the Energy: Domestic Uses session. Davis also gave the paper, “The Economics of Community Supported Fisheries: Implications for Communities and Sustainable Management” at the Resilient Roads to Management session.
Lucy Atkins ’12 with her poster presentation “Connecting Self, Community, and Environment: A Sketch of an Education Center.”
Jay Friedlander and Katharine Macko gave the paper, “Teaching Sustainable Business at College of the Atlantic” at the Business within the Human Ecological Framework session. COA | 47
Jennifer Prediger ’99 Fresh from Sundance
Jennifer Prediger wears many hats. At Grist.org, she’s the creator and face of Umbra, of “Ask Umbra,” Grist’s popular environmental advice segment. She also happens to be their spokesperson, appearing on the “Today” show as an environmental expert to answer questions about sustainable packaging when the SunChips’ loud plant fiber bag garnered media attention last October. Come summer, Jennifer will be a journalism fellow at the Aspen Ideas Festival. But at the Sundance Film Festival Jennifer was Kate, her starring role in the film Uncle Kent which according to the New Yorker review, “is about an amiable forty-year-old bachelor who draws cartoons and then sends them by computer to collaborators. His social life is mostly led on the computer, too.” Things get interesting when “Kate,” an environmental journalist whom he met on the website Chatroulette, shows up at his Los Angeles apartment. Later this summer, Jennifer will be wearing a director’s cap when she creates a fictionalized story based on a road trip she took with her father in an ailing Miata convertible that she got in exchange for a sushi dinner. [That last part is not fictionalized.] Jennifer has received seed money for a fundraising trailer of this film—which is about consumerism, sustainability, and happiness in America—from a TogetherGreen fellowship, funded by Toyota through the National Audubon Society. Here’s a conversation with COA’s first alumna film star. Q: Did you act at COA? A little. I was in one of Lucy Bell Sellers plays, King Stag. I played a stag. I died on stage and lay there dead for half the play until someone dragged me off. I also did A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, produced by the lovely Molly Townsend ’97. Molly was Helena and I was Hermia. In LA, I studied improv comedy, acting and did standup. 48 | COA
Q: How did you get involved with Uncle Kent? I met Joe [Swanberg, the director] a few years ago when I moved to New York. He acted in something I was filming last winter and asked me to be in this. Joe is a very DIY filmmaker who appreciates the art of improv. He lets whatever is happening in the moment unfold. Uncle Kent was filmed in LA over six days. Q: And your film? I wanted to tell a story that was emotionally close to me. My dad’s generation, the baby boomer generation, experienced the greatest material wealth of any group of human beings on earth, and we continue that legacy with iPhones and whatever. We’re at a breaking point where the economy and environment are no longer able to bear it. The dad in this story has an all-you-can-eat approach to life, a reverence for consumption. My character struggles with idealism, sanctimoniousness, and wanting to make a difference. Oh, the conflicts that ensue! And like that character, I have a do-gooderist streak to merge sustainability into a popular sphere via entertainment. I love the storytelling and being able to connect to people, emotions, and ideas in a visual medium. Q: You graduated before Nancy Andrews came to teach film. Did COA help you in any of this? I studied creative writing, poetry, philosophy, psychology, the interrelatedness of all things. I remember in Bill Carpenter’s poetry class I wanted to write a poem to change the world. I thought all it would take is one poem that would change the way people think—like “Howl.” I never wrote my own “Howl,” but Bill was so good about grounding me in the specifics of each poem—ultimately it’s about the real moments of poetry, that’s how we change the world. Above: Jennifer Prediger ’99 with co-star Kent Osborne in a scene from the film Uncle Kent.
The Human Ecology Essay Revisited On Changing the World By David Winship ’77 After twenty-nine years as a librarian and teacher/administrator for gifted education in schools in Washington County, Virginia, and in response to our Fall 2010 story about internships, David Winship, ’77 sent this recollection of his trajectory from internship to education. ~DG In 1975, I was working on the sixteenth floor of a Washington, DC office building making, packing, and sending out materials to schools, libraries, and various supporters in an effort to turn the country away from the crass commercialization of the two-hundredth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Along the way, the Peoples Bicentennial Commission tried to strike a blow at the domination and control of giant multinational corporations, and to draw the parallels between the domination of our lives that these economic entities have, and the control that the distant British Parliament and king had two centuries ago. By the time I started my internship, I’d already marched against the war (the Vietnam War, the last large-scale war of the twentieth century, though there were other wars in which United States forces were involved). In the internship, in tri-corner hat, I was a town crier, peddling newspapers to tell the citizens on the busy city streets of Boston that the redcoats were back, in the guise of corporate profiteers. I helped chase then-President Gerald Ford back across the Old North Bridge when he came to commemorate the Battles of Lexington and Concord. The Peoples Bicentennial Commission had held an all-night rally and music celebration the night before with Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, and Phil Ochs, among others. We were modern-day Minutemen. My internship lasted a year. I worked very hard and burned out. One winter night I hopped on a midnight bus to Georgia. One of the things I took with me was that, in social change, one could work at many levels—local, national, or international. I found that the local level was more my speed. After returning to COA, I completed my senior project, addressing competency-based education, which is about teaching how to do—whether with your heart, your hands, or your head. Evaluation and ac-
countability are based on what you know and what you can show, not what you can record on a multiplechoice, computer-scanned sheet. I ended up spending three decades in public education. Unfortunately, when efforts in the 1980s were on their way toward competency-based education, the political and business interests of the country were threatened and turned education reform in the direction of standards-based education—with multiplechoice and rote-memory required evaluations, gutting the heart and soul of our public education system. I continue to question and confront global corporations’ grip on our lives and our planet. I continue to portray characters from colonial times, these days in schools and on the sites where the National Park Service preserves history, delivering history-telling to whomever will come and listen. I continue to search for that avenue of education that builds and grows our abilities and gifts, knowing that there is really no other way. As I retire, I look back on the years. I wanted to change the world and I found that the world changed me. I tried hard to survive with a small footprint and I wonder if I’ve left any tracks. We are seeing more and noticing less. We’re connected to more and fewer people at the same time. We’re reading less and knowing more, though how we use this knowledge needs examination. The sun still comes up in the morning and goes down in the evening. Sometimes we notice.
The Minute Man by Daniel Chester French, located at the Old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts. COA | 49