COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE Volume 15 . Number 1 . Spring 2019
HERE & THERE
COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE EDITORIAL Editor Editorial Advice
Daniel Mahoney Heather Albert-Knopp ‘99 Lynn Boulger Dru Colbert Darron Collins ‘92 Jennifer Hughes Rob Levin Amanda Mogridge Chris Petersen Eloise Schultz ‘16 Karen Waldron Jodi Baker
DESIGN Art Director
ADMINISTRATION President Provost Administrative Dean Associate Academic Deans
Darron Collins Ken Hill Andy Griffiths Judy Allen, Chris Petersen, Karen Waldron Heather Albert-Knopp ‘99
Dean of Admission Dean of Institutional Lynn Boulger Advancement Sarah Luke Dean of Student Life Director of Communications Rob Levin BOARD OF TRUSTEES Cynthia Baker Timothy Bass Ronald E. Beard Michael Boland ’94 Leslie C. Brewer Alyne Cistone Barclay Corbus Sarah Currie-Halpern Beth Gardiner Amy Yeager Geier H. Winston Holt IV Jason W. Ingle Diana Kombe ’06 Nicholas Lapham
Casey Mallinckrodt Anthony Mazlish Jay McNally ’84 Philip S.J. Moriarty Lili Pew Nadia Rosenthal Abby Rowe ’98 Marthann Samek Henry L.P. Schmelzer Laura McGiffert Slover Laura Z. Stone Steve Sullens William N. Thorndike
LIFE TRUSTEES Samuel M. Hamill John N. Kelly William V.P. Newlin
John Reeves Henry D. Sharpe, Jr.
TRUSTEE EMERITI David Hackett Fischer William G. Foulke, Jr George B.E. Hambleton Elizabeth D. Hodder Sherry F. Huber Philip B. Kunhardt III ’77
Phyllis Anina Moriarty Helen Porter Cathy L. Ramsdell ’78 Hamilton Robinson, Jr. John Wilmerding
The faculty, students, trustees, staff, and alumni of College of the Atlantic envision a world where people value creativity, intellectual achievements, and diversity of nature and human cultures. With respect and compassion, individuals construct meaningful lives for themselves, gain appreciation of the relationships among all forms of life, and safeguard the heritage of future generations.
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR DAN MAHONEY
HERE & THERE
or this iteration of the COA Magazine I was able to interview a whole bunch of people: Susie Rodriguez & Tim Lock (p. 28), Ann Zoidis, Tasha Pastore & Sean Todd (p. 20), Jay Friedlander & Rich Borden (p. 6) and a terrific writer, Tamara Field (p. 42). Most of these interviews were conducted on Mount Desert Island, but sitting down with Susie Rodriguez required traveling to New York City. It was a great trip; I spoke with Susie, took photographs of her “COA wall,” and met her amazing team. I got to hang out with Isabel Shaida who lived with our family for several years while she was attending COA. Isabel and I ate great food, went to Bluestockings Bookstore, then said goodbye on the uptown subway with tears in our eyes. It was very NYC. I saw some plays while in the city as well. The Under The Radar Festival was running at the Public Theatre and I caught three different performances. All striking. The play that made the biggest impact on me was Kirk Lynn’s The Cold Record. The program described it as, A secret performance. A one-man show. The story of a 12-year-old boy who tries to set the record for leaving school the most days with a fever and in the process falls in love with the school nurse and breaks his heart on punk rock. It was great; it was intimate; it was made of music and laughter and after an hour I wanted to stay forever. We, the audience, shared an awesome something together… something vital. And then it ended.
felt good to open myself to the joy and pain of those years... And as it all rushed in to fill me, that old pain did something surprising—it disappeared. There is a book by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish called Memory for Forgetfulness. It might be the best book ever written. Darwish wrote it after surviving a bombing by the Israeli military. Why this title, why Memory for Forgetfulness? For Darwish it could mean writing was a way to purge the insanity of having his world turned inside-out— memory for the purpose of forgetfulness. But for us, for the readers, the text becomes an act of memory, a monument, against forgetfulness. We are here so quickly. There is a beautiful new building coming to COA, there are impressive graduates leaving, cherished faculty retiring, but memory is stronger than forgetfulness. At College of the Atlantic, memory is an abundance of voices. Memory is music and laughter and pain, a ball bouncing up from eternity, or a ball falling into the hand of a young student who, even as I write this, is making their way toward 105 Eden St., Bar Harbor, Maine.
On the drive back to Maine I continued the party. I listened to all those bands that were so important to me when I was younger. I called the people who were there, turned the volume way up, and car-danced for nine straight hours. It
COA is published annually for the College of the Atlantic community. www.coa.edu
Cover image courtesy of: Susan T. Rodriguez | Architecture • Design Back cover image: Darron Collins '92
LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT Darron Collins '92 PhD
he text had just two words— “they’re in”—and I knew precisely what it meant. I abruptly ended a call, sped down the stairs of Turrets, and sprinted north. I leapt off the Shrine and sank eighteen inches through the snow that had fallen the night before. My wingtips stained to black and my feet froze, but I wasn’t worried about my shoes or my toes. The perimeter of the new Center for Human Ecology had been staked out, and I couldn’t wait to see it for myself. You’ll read more about our building project in this edition of the COA magazine, but I can tell you that the process of imagining and designing the Center has been transformational for the college. The construction and use of the facility will be as well. Staff, faculty, and students will walk through the doors of our new academic building in September 2020. We have needed the teaching space for a long time, and the 29,000 square feet of new science laboratories, faculty offices, art spaces, teaching greenhouses, and large gathering halls will be a cornerstone for the study and practice of human ecology and a dynamic addition to our campus and to the Mount Desert Island community. This building project isn’t just about four walls and a roof; it’s an architectural representation of our mission—to bring the arts, sciences, humanities, and social sciences together in order to help solve the problems we see in our environments and societies. The design is inspired by COA’s collaborative culture, our oceanfront campus, and our active commitment to sustainability. Embracing the interdisciplinary nature of our curriculum, the organization of the Center integrates labs and studios around shared flexible spaces to foster exchange and collaboration. The Center will form the new academic heart of the college, framing an outdoor landscape and gathering space while maintaining views through the building to the Atlantic Ocean. In 2017, COA adopted an ambitious energy framework that calls for a fossil fuel-free campus by 2030, and I am proud to say that the Center for Human Ecology will move us considerably closer to that goal. Inspired by German Passivhaus standards, the building will set a new COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
high-water mark for sustainable design on this scale. The use of low-embodied carbon and regionally sourced materials will be deployed throughout the project, radically reducing the total cradle-to-grave footprint and effectively neutralizing the impact of building something new. Powered by the sun, heated in part by strategic light and the presence of human bodies, and with deep attention paid to its envelope, the Center will demonstrate that you can have the ultimate in function, beauty, and ecological integrity under one roof. In many ways, designing this building has exemplified human ecology in action: it satisfies spatial needs for teaching and community, pays close attention to budget, comprises high-quality architectural design, and maximizes sustainability, all while involving COA students, staff, faculty and trustees at every step of the way. The design has gone through an extensive, holistic community process. Some students have walked hand-in-hand with this building since the beginning. Through their work, we can see how COA’s pedagogy encourages students to expand their self-directed academic paths to learn from just about every aspect of process, governance, management, and operations on our campus. Taking part in this project has provided for them, in measure, education, illumination, and even vocation, and their contributions have been essential to the process. In 2021 we will mark the 50th anniversary of COA’s first graduating class. The construction of the Center for Human Ecology is our way of embracing and celebrating the next 50 years at COA. With the incredible support of the Mount Desert Island community as well as COA’s alumni and friends, the construction and maintenance of the Center is covered entirely by philanthropic donations. From our founding, we’ve been dedicated to helping make Mount Desert Island and Maine a great place to live; with the Center for Human Ecology we look forward to building on the success of that mission for the next 50 years and beyond.
2 5 6
In this issue NEWS NEW FACULTY
SHE’s in Business
With JAY FRIEDLANDER
Mary Harney '96
John Visvader and Bill Carpenter
The Simple Truth
Aadityakrishna Sathish '19
Finding the Questions that Answers Hide
Devyn Adams '19
53 56 59 60 64
Abby Jo Morris '20
ANNOTATED STUDENT SCHEDULE
By DAN MAHONEY
ANNOTATED STUDENT SCHEDULE
With SUSAN RODRIGUEZ and TIM LOCK
By LISA BETH HAMMER '20
ANNOTATED STUDENT SCHEDULE
By TAMARA FIELD
By ELLIE OLDACH '16 IN MEMORIAM ALUMNI NOTES
Jordan Motzkin '10 ALUMNI PROFILE
COMMUNITY NOTES NEW TRUSTEES
NEWS MAPPING INDIAN POINT BY GRACE BECK '19 Bringing their knowledge to the field, students volunteering to conduct a new ecological inventory of the Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT) property, Blue Horizons Preserve, spend their fall & winter terms surveying local flora and fauna, as well as anthropogenic structures (and woodpecker holes!) in the name of community service. The Indian Point project was started by second year students Aya Kumagai and Ekaterina Khardonova who worked on this research until they left for Costa Rica in December. First year students Addison Gruber, Hallie Arno, Judith Tunstad, Lundy Stowe, and Sage Fuller were also involved and have continued trekking out to the property in spite of snow and freezing temperatures. Fuller reports, “Today, we went out in the eight degree weather to catalog trees. We’re conducting tree surveys on random points on the property by setting up a twenty foot radius circle and counting every tree in it. We’re learning how to identify trees during the hardest time of the year for tree ID, which is challenging but so satisfying. By the end of today we realized we were able to ID
A red fox caught on game cam.
balsam fir and spruce just from looking at the bark. This project is more than just an ecological inventory, it’s a learning experience.” And what a learning experience it is! The students have been availing themselves of the college’s various resources and building on prior coursework they’ve done—from utilizing COA’s game-cameras to capture wildlife imagery to working with GPS technology to create variable and fixed radius plots for trees. John Anderson, William H. Drury, Jr. Chair of Ecology and Natural History, sums up their work succinctly in stating, “I honestly can’t think of
another lil’ college where a bunch of kids would jump in and do professional level work not for credit, not for grades, but out of a deep desire to learn and a love of the outdoors.” The inventory is set to wrap up around April, at which point the intended outcome is to present a poster at the Northeast Natural History Conference and provide an updated report to the MCHT. Although not outrightly stated, the potential for ongoing work opportunities with the MCHT are likely, given the quality of work these students have put into this voluntary venture.
Left to right: woodpecker holes; Lundy and Addison setting up a game cam; Sage, Hallie, and a glacial erratic.
COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
EVERYBODY Jodi Baker’s Special Topics in Production Class produces and presents the play Everybody by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins for the public in early March. The work (a 2018 Pulitzer Prize finalist) is based on the 15th century morality play Everyman and follows the character ‘Everybody’ who is struggling to to find someone (or something) willing to join them on a journey toward their impending death. To highlight the element of chance in both life and in death, the play requires five actors to draw their assigned roles for each performance by lottery. “[This] is predicated on a desire to avoid distilling the identity of an ‘everyman’ into the body of a single actor, who necessarily has an age, a gender, a race, a sexual orientation,” Lila Neugebauer, (director of Signature Theatre’s pre-
The setup for Everybody, performed in-the-round.
miere production) said. For the core ensemble of student actors, this meant they had to memorize virtually the entire play and find ways to create distinct characters and scene dynamics within a multitude of possible combinations. The circular staging, with a set designed by Priyamvada Chaudhary '21, aimed to blur the divide between actors and audience. “Audience inclusion is incredibly important. It really is about everybody,” cast member Gaby Gordon-Fox '22 said. “We’re officially acting ‘in-the-round’, but I feel like it’s more than that. We’re acting beside and behind, above and around.” The rest of the student company included Lily Gehrenbeck '21, Vitoria Bitencourt '19, Sahra Gibson '20, Maya Roe '21, Bev-
erley Guay '19, Thule van den Dam '20, Aimée Miranda '21, Grace Carter '22, Camden Hunt '22, Goya van den Berg '21, and Harlan Mahoney. This is the fifth rendition of the production workshop that Jodi Baker has directed at COA. Previous productions include Chekhov/Frayn’s The Sneeze at the Criterion Theatre and last year’s production of The Wolves by Sarah De Lappe.
EDUCATION STUDENTS AND MAINE TEACHERS GATHER FOR SUCCESS SUCCESS educators develop new perspectives analyzing rocks and other artifacts.
(Sustainable Coastal Communities, Educators, Students, and Schools Institute) Institute at COA. Over several Saturdays, participants delve into subjects such as place-based education, mindfulness, and connecting the local with the global through experiential education. Aspects of education are explored in-depth by COA undergraduates and teachers from Maine island and remote coastal schools at the third-annual summer SUCCESS
SUCCESS is a project of the Fund for Maine Islands, the collaborative partnership between College of the Atlantic and Island Institute, funded by The Partridge Foundation. Co-directed by COA Ed.
Studies Director Dr. Bonnie Tai and Island Institute Education Specialist Yvonne Thomas, the Institutes are building an intergenerational and developmental network of pre-K-12 schools and communities where sustainability education is being incorporated into the curricula. SUCCESS is helping current and emerging educators increase their understanding of experiential and place-based education, as they learn how to weave these approaches into proficiency-based school curricula.
FIT FOR A KING U.S. Senator Angus King (IndependentME) stops by College of the Atlantic Thorndike Library to meet with students, take questions, and talk about his work in Washington. Several dozen students gather in the library reading room to share their perspectives with the Senator and to push him on the issues they find most important. COA has Ursa Beckford '17 to thank for the visit. Beckford spent the summer COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
working on King’s reelection campaign, and when he found out the Senator was going to be attending an event in Acadia National Park, he convinced him to hold a listening session and meet some students at COA. “Young people tend not to vote as much as they should, and yet it is their future that’s really at stake,” King told WABI TV5 in an interview on the red bricks after meeting with students.”One of my main messages to them is to be engaged.”
Senator Angus King (I-Maine) meets with COA students. 3
SECOND-ANNUAL CHAMPLAIN INSTITUTE DRAWS CROWDS Hundreds of guests turn out for College of the Atlantic’s Champlain Institute, a week-long, mid-summer series which draws experts from unique fields each year. In 2018 the Institute turns to international relations, and attendees are riveted to hear from speakers including former United States National Security Advisor Susan Rice and former U.S. Senator George Mitchell. Friends of COA old and new, faculty, community members, and others from near and far enjoy roundtables, talks, and cocktail parties with notable experts in national security, trade disputes, cyber warfare, terrorism, civil wars, Russia, North Korea, and other hotspots around the
Left: Historian Ted Widmer signs a book for 2018 Champlain panelist James Lowenstein. Right: Widmer interviews former National Security Advisor Susan Rice.
globe. Featured speakers at the free event include award-winning journalist Eliza Griswold, former Acting Solicitor General of the United States Neal Katyal, Fordham University School of Law Center on National Security Director Karen Greenberg,
and many others. The subject of the 2019 COA Champlain Institute is Art: Dissent and Diplomacy. The Institute runs from July 29–August 4.
SHARE THE HARVEST EXPANDS ACCESS Members of College of the Atlantic’s student-run, social justice-inspired Share the Harvest food equity program continue to build on their success, and are now supplying food vouchers for the Bar Harbor Farmers’ Market. This program addition extends support to area farmers, forges deeper connections with the local food system, and addresses transportation inequities faced by some community members.
food, ensuring access to the space, knowledge, and resources necessary to sustaining an equitable food system. Directed by a crew of several student coordinators, the group works closely with COA Beech Hill Farm staff, the student work-study farm crew, and COA food systems faculty toward their goal of filling critical gaps in local food access by providing fresh, organic, and local produce.
Share the Harvest serves as a liaison between low-income residents and local
The voucher program is funded in part by The Maine Hunger Dialogue.
Rayna Joyce ’20, left, and Kenya Perry ’18 harvest greens at COA Beech Hill Farm.
COA TEAM PLACES IN FOOD INNOVATION CHALLENGE
The Veggie Van team, from left, Rebekah Heikkila ’21, Indigo Woods ’21, Hanna Lafferty ’19, Lily Gehrenbeck ’21, and Donovan Glasgow ’21.
A team of College of the Atlantic students captures the judge’s attention at the New England Food System Innovation Challenge, finishing second place on the college track and winning $500 for their Veggie Van mobile produce market. 4
Donovan Glasgow '21, Indigo Woods '21, Hanna Lafferty '19, Rebekah Heikkila '21, and Lily Gehrenbeck '21 spend two days at St. Joseph’s College for the event, meeting with many teams of lawyers, entrepreneurs, and other business experts for one full day, revising their pitch, and then listening to pitches from teams from Unity College (first place), St. Joseph’s, University of Maine, and elsewhere. The second-place finish brings a $500 award, which can be used for future market research on the business. The team developed the Veggie Van proposal through a course entitled Sustainable Strategies taught by Jay Friedlander, the Sharpe-McNally Chair in Green and Socially Responsible Business, as a way
to provide affordable, accessible, real food to those in need, and to empower people to purchase produce with dignity and autonomy. They drew from members’ varying experience studying food systems and business. Lafferty, Glasgow, and Woods were all taking Dr. Kourtney Collum’s Transforming Food Systems course as well as Friedlander’s course. “We were brainstorming how to fill gaps of food insecurity and meet those needs, and then we were like, well, what if we just treat it like a health issue, like a mobile health clinic, but with nutrition and vegetables,” Lafferty says. “And that made sense, because food and nutrition really are public health issues.” n COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
DANIEL GATTI, Computer Science College of the Atlantic’s technical horizons have expanded with the appointment of Dr. Daniel Gatti to a new faculty position in computer science. Gatti is focused on using mathematical and statistical methods to answer pressing questions about the world. He comes to COA after decades of professional work as a programmer and bioinformatics analyst.
science, Gatti said that he is interested in the broader effects of computers on the human ecosystem. As a professor, Gatti said, he seeks to inspire connections between course materials and personal interests. He is developing computational courses that empower students to do more in their studies and in their lives after COA.
Students learn best when they are motivated by something that they care about. Gatti holds a PhD in Environmental Science and Engineering from The University of North Carolina, with research centered on computational biology and genetic influences in environmental toxicology. Beyond the investigatory nature of computer
“Students learn best when they are motivated by something that they care about,” Gatti said. “While there are certain core concepts that must be covered in a course, I hope to excite and inspire students beyond those, to help them link their pas-
sions with the science we’re studying.” Gatti said that he enjoyed his decades-long professional career, but found that his favorite part of the job was helping to teach others new skills. Realizing that his teaching interactions energized him, Gatti set out to teach at the college level. After some exploration, he concluded that COA would be an excellent fit for his approach.
REUBEN HUDSON, Chemistry College of the Atlantic’s new chemistry professor Reuben Hudson is fascinated by the intersection of chemistry and sustainability. For years he has worked to hone techniques of utilizing metals within chemical reactions in ways that conserve material and reduce waste. Hudson makes tiny magnetic particles (visible only with an electron microscope) that can be used to facilitate chemical reactions—reactions would be extremely slow or not work at all without these metals. Because the particles are magnetic, they can be retrieved at the end of the reaction by placing a magnet next to the container. They can then be reused over and over and over again for subsequent reactions. He’s also worked to develop strategies for immobilizing non-magnetic metals on different materials which can likewise be easily recovered after reaction completion. “Without using techniques like this, we would be wasting precious metal material at each reaction, and that is just not sustainable enough for my tastes,” Hudson says. Hudson also designs and synthesizes new materials for use in hydrogen fuel cells. COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
“I like teaching chemistry because of its universal applicability,” Hudson says. “Chemistry is the science of the material all around us. Life, rocks, textiles, plastics, glass, metal—everything in our physical world has a chemical explanation and operates according to fundamental chemical principles.” Hudson holds a PhD in chemistry from McGill University and a BA from Vassar
Everything in our physical world has a chemical explanation. “We have a need for new materials to meet the needs of modern society without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs,” he says. “It’s important to work for a transition to a hydrogen-based energy economy, which has the potential to greatly limit our emissions and oil consumption.” Teaching chemistry is a great reward for Hudson. He comes to COA after several years at Colby College, attracted by the COA’s culture of sustainability.
College. In his free time, he enjoys whitewater kayaking and backcountry skiing with his wife, Kit. “I was attracted by COA’s open educational philosophy,” he said. “I considered more traditional schools, in which each professor is assigned to a single department and is encouraged to work within their discipline, but I have never been able to stay within the intellectual boundaries that are set for me.” n
SHE’s In Business Interview by DAN MAHONEY
efore COA opened. Before there were any faculty or students or staff, the college’s human ecology mission was already firmly established. As Ed Kaelber, COA’s first president, stated in the initial ‘announcement’ of the college—a year before the opening for classes, “Rather than offering a full spectrum of disciplines from which the student may sample, the college is proposing a curriculum organized around a single central theme: human ecology.” For the first decade or so, COA was pretty much on its own in putting something around the idea of human ecology education. Things began to change in the early 1980s, when a small group of interdisciplinary scholars and practitioners gathered in Washington D. C. to create and incorporate the Society for Human Ecology (SHE) as “an international professional society that promotes the use of an ecological perspective in research, education, and application.” Rich Borden, COA’s academic dean at the time, was invited to join the group. At SHE’s first
conference Rich was elected president, and later served as executive director. Since its founding, SHE has organized twenty-three international conferences in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. It also publishes a high-quality academic/research journal—Human Ecology Review—and provides human ecology networking support worldwide. COA faculty, staff, and students have taken part in all of SHE activities and developed countless ongoing collegial and inter-institutional relationships. Ken Hill, COA’s academic dean, continues in a leadership role of the partnership as SHE’s current executive director. There are countless stories to be told of the COA-SHE partnership. This one is from Jay Friedlander, COA’s SharpeMcNally Chair in Green and Sustainable Business. This article would not be possible without the help, knowledge, and generosity of Rich Borden. COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
Dan Mahoney: How did you end up coming to College of the Atlantic? Jay Friedlander: Myself and several others started O’Naturals in Portland, Maine, in 2001. It was the world’s first local, organic, quick service restaurant chain. No one had ever tried to do a quick service chain this way, so it became a big deal. Our first year we had over 40 million media impressions; we were featured in Vogue, USA Today, UTNE Reader, NY Times...a wide range of publications. Rich Borden [Academic Dean of COA the time] called and said that he had heard what we were doing and then invited us to speak at the International Society for Human Ecology (SHE) Conference. DM: So your introduction to COA was through the SHE Conference? JF: Yes. It was a great introduction to both SHE and COA. We gave a presentation on the positive impact we were making for local and regional farmers, as well as the other small businesses we were getting supplies from. We also spoke about making choices with sustainability in mind and using business to create a positive impact in the world. At that conference in 2001, I met Rich and (Economics professor) Davis Taylor and we had great conversations… That initial meeting led to me teaching a class at COA as an adjunct in the spring of 2002. DM: Wow, that’s a pretty quick turn around. Did you have any teaching experience before you came here? JF: I was teaching a regular class on entrepreneurship in the MBA program at Babson. Most of the MBA students were looking at sustainability in terms of value creation and competitive advantage which didn’t really work here. COA was more about: can we actually use this to create a better world and also create a new kind of venture. DM: What are the differences you see in COA students verses the graduate level students you had encountered before coming here? JF: Here is a great story that speaks to how much I didn’t know when I got here. I was teaching a class that involved accounting COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
and I was making a joke about how thrilling accounting is, basically apologizing because it can be super dry. And a student came up to me after class and said, “you don’t need to apologize to us. We’re here because we want to learn it.” And right there I knew: if that’s the attitude of the students here at COA then there is nothing we can’t do. That coincided with the development of a course, Launching A New Venture, which I still teach. In that course students write business plans, examine potential opportunities, and explore how to turn their interests into an enterprise. At the end of the course the students said they wanted to put these things out into the world. They wanted to create the business they planned out. That led to the creation of the Hatchery six months later. The Hatchery is one of the first places I know of where you could actually start an enterprise (profit or nonprofit) for credit... and at COA it is not for one credit but a full term’s worth of credit.
At most institutions doing something like what we do at the Hatchery is a cocurricular activity, you do it despite your education. At COA you can follow your interest because of your education. DM: So what makes COA different in that respect? Is it the nature of the projects, the students, the fact that you are here acting like their own personal Obi-Wan... JF: A little of all of that, but it is more fundamental. At most institutions doing something like what we do at the Hatchery is a co-curricular activity, you do it despite your education. At COA you can follow your interest because of your education. What is so great about the Hatchery is it is people creating ventures from all across campus, so you will have someone doing a movie, next to someone doing biofuel, next to someone creating a school… The new approach taken by the Hatchery got a lot of press and generated some real interest which lead to raising $1.5 million dollars from the Davis Spencer Foundation to endow it for perpetuity. That was a huge thing because it allowed us to provide students with start up capital so they would 7
have access to mentors, get supplies they need, etc... DM: So students get startup money just for taking this class. JF: Yes. The amount depends on the number of people taking the class, but each student generally gets between four and five thousand dollars.
Abundant companies are making money and finding new opportunities precisely because they are seeking to make positive change alongside profitable growth. Essentially you are using the power of the system to build up rather than destroy our communities and our world. DM: Why haven’t any of my Bateau Press (small literary magazine/press published under the auspices of COA) people done this? JF: I don’t know, I’ve asked you to send them over, but they never come… Everyone is welcome to take the class and then get something up and running. DM: So entrepreneurship is a different sort of business at COA. JF: For me, there are three things that really illustrate the beauty of COA: the level of engagement of the students, the students starting enterprises for credit, and the third piece that has been really cool to watch has been around the Abundance Cycle. The Abundance Cycle, the sustainable business model I’ve been working on, incorporates ideas and values around sustainability into your business strategy models. It has been developed over my time here and has led to articles in MIT Sloan Management Review, Stanford Social Innovation Review, and to presentations around the world on how you can actually use sustainability to help you plan your venture and increase your positive impact. This subtle shift in perspective, thinking about both sustainability and abundance, leads to greater innovation, competitive advantage, and requires you to reframe how you look at the business.
DM: We’ve talked a great deal about this before. The business ideas coming out of the Reagan 80’s were all about making money, slashing and burning, greed is good…all that crap. And what strikes me about the Abundance Cycle is it’s an updated, buffed up, sustainable version of Fordism. Not in the negative sense (ahhh, Henry Ford!) but the emphasis on the community and sustaining the community because the community in turn sustains you, the business. JF: Exactly. Instead of a zero-sum game mentality where the community and the environment benefits, and the business loses or vice-versa, it puts all these things together to help us find a new perspective, unveil new opportunity, keep us moving forward, and push innovation in new directions. You know, capitalism will do what it is going to do, but the question is what is the operating system underlying it. Industrial capitalism has been both productive and incredibly destructive. While all enterprises seek profits, how you operate makes a difference. Are you just going after money? Or do you really want to bring about some sort of transformative change? Abundant companies are making money and finding new opportunities precisely because they are seeking to make positive change alongside profitable growth. Essentially you are using the power of the system to build up rather than destroy our communities and world. You use those tools and you make the choices, much like you can use science to cure disease or for bio-warfare… This is a theme in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, right? Science is agnostic to what you do so you have to look at the principals you are operating under when you are developing your plan, what will guide your decision making? DM: That’s what I find really interesting about reframing the conversation. There have been a lot of movements for change, but they started with a premise of: you are bad, you are wrong, if you’re not off the grid then you’re part of the problem… And that stuff works for some people, but if you are really engaged in trying to change things you have to look at it holistically. So you have to ask yourself, what does it mean to be an active, engaged participant in this world.
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JF: Right. Models are always incomplete but they help you envision a world. When you have traditional business models that don’t consider any of the social, environmental, or ecological parameters, other enterprises are not going to see them, and are going to feel skittish about incorporating those ideas into their strategy. The great irony is, when you look at the literature, a lot of companies are trying to figure out how to think more environmentally & ecologically, but there are not enough models out there and that, “how do you do it,” becomes what they get hung up on. DM: When the models are out there then more people will try something, thus creating new models which others will see and so on and so on…which then creates a plethora and it is not so scary anymore. JF: Exactly. So, returning to COA and what makes sustainable business work here: you have new models of pedagogy (combining theory and practice), the Hatchery, and the Abundance Cycle working to reframe the whole conversation. That is what makes COA so dynamic. Those ideas have gotten really good uptake at conferences I’ve been to. I’ve been to conferences in over a dozen countries and all over the United States.
JF: Good question, Dan Mahoney. A whetstone is all you need to keep anything sharp. As for the business models, when I do work outside of COA, I use the models I use in classes and I revise them based on what I see in the field. Then I go back into the classroom and revise them again for the students.. So what I’m doing is very much connected to the real world… It is this constant dialogue, back and forth, which is a lot of the ethos of human ecology. DM: It is all about action, and learning, and evolving. So the International SHE Conferences are part of your lab, as it were. You go, you listen, you present, and then you talk to people doing human ecology all over the globe...adjust your models. JF: Much like that first SHE conference where I met Davis and Rich, every other SHE conference I’ve been to has been helpful on a number of levels. I get ideas out there and get feedback, I also come to understand how maybe non-business
DM: What do you do at said conferences? JF: Well if you go back to the actual beginning of all of this. The first academic conference I ever presented at was the International SHE Conference in New Hampshire, and that really started it all. It is where I began to realize that with O’Naturals there was a whole new audience that was hungry for these ideas. That SHE Conference was game changing because sometimes you can feel like you are on an island, and going to that conference proved we were actually part of a global community and global conversations. I’ve gone out and presented at other conferences, or led seminars on teaching other faculty how to teach this material, and I’ve seen that people are really longing to have these kinds of tools. DM: So how do your models stay current? To push the metaphor, how do you keep your tools so sharp, Jay Friedlander?
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people are reacting to what I’m talking about. Getting feedback outside my area helps me think about changing the language to be more inclusive and bring more people in. It has enabled me to make connections with other professionals, students, and academics all over the world. A great illustration of this was the recent SHE conference in Portugal, 2018. I did a presentation reflecting back on the ten years the Sustainable Business Program has been at COA. At that conference I
From left: Society for Human Ecology (SHE) president Robert Dyball, SHE executive director and COA provost Ken Hill, and past SHE president and executive director Rich Borden, COA Rachel Carson Chair in Human Ecology.
met two COA graduates, one of whom was starting a business in Lisbon, and another one wanted to start an ecotourism business in the Danube Delta. Both were working on supporting the local communities in their areas by, instead of destroying each region’s resources, they were looking to help encourage resource development and preserve traditional ways. We ended up working with Mihnea [Tanasescu] and the Danube Delta project in Sustainable Strategies class. We had the model, we analyzed their proposal, students made recommendations as to how they could improve their venture, bring in more tourists, etc. It was a full circle for me, going from introducing these concepts at that first SHE Conference in New Hampshire, circling around to having students who have graduated from COA coming back, working with current students on new ways of shaping their venture.
DM: The HELIO (Human Ecology Lab in Osakikamijima) Program in Japan, did that spring from a SHE Conference?
DM: And these SHE Conferences are crazy international. There are people doing this kind of work all over the place. Do you often run into students when you attend these conferences?
JF: When we went over to Japan, there were all these similarities. They wanted to start the college as a means of economic development in reviving the community (which is one of the same reasons COA started), they had a local businessman, Okamoto San (who is like Les Brewer at COA), and they had a monk they were working with (like Father Jim Gower)… all three had a hand in developing the blueprints toward making the college a reality. The two islands are really similar: both grow blueberries, are primarily fishing and agriculture communities, and both were looking to use education as a means for community development. Since that project started five years ago, we have run four summer programs, had students
JF: There are always some COA students there as well as students from other colleges and universities doing human ecology work. It’s a really amazing place to meet people and share ideas. It has led to some really wonderful opportunities. I worked with a group in Germany that was trying to start a college based on COA; we ended up doing a summer program there centered on sustainable food systems. That collaboration grew out of the SHE Conferences. I met another woman who is really well known in sustainable business and went to some of her workshops and got to know her at a SHE Conference. There are always new relationships that come up as a result of it.
JF: No. That was a different conference. Darron Collins (current COA President) and I were speaking at Brown University about social engagement and social entrepreneurship and that is where we met Dr. Hiromi Nagao. She is a former university president in Japan and really interested in reforming the Japanese higher educational system. Dr. Nagao was interested in starting a small college on an island called Osakikamijima in the inland sea, and after hearing about COA using education as a tool for economic development in community transformation, knew that our model was what she was looking for. DM: So Dr. Nagao is the Ed Kaelber of Japan?
DM: You are really invested in going to these SHE Conferences. Jay: I’ve been at COA for 10 years and I have been to every conference during that time except one. I think it is so important to stay in touch with what is happening in the Human Ecology field, and it is one of the few opportunities we get to spend time with colleagues and see those areas of overlap.
[Re]Produce, a sustainable farmsurplus venture pioneered by Anita van Dam ’19 (right) and Grace Burchard ’17, won first place at the 2017 University of Maine Business Challenge Finals.
and faculty from over a dozen colleges and universities (Brown, Cornell, Hamilton, the New School, Fordham…etc.) go over to help them envision what a small college would look like. They are getting the parts in place, they have opened up an IB (international baccalaureate) high school, and are working to get the college on its feet. DM: What was the spark that started this whole reform movement in Japan? JF: In a word, Fukushima. The whole thing began with a need to reform the education system after the Fukushima disaster. DM: Institutionalized thinking? JF: Exactly. What they found out after the accident was a real failure of the education system because the engineers were capable of dealing with the engineering problems, but little else. There was the aftermath when the crisis became much bigger than engineering. There was a huge need for engineers to talk to lay people and cultural leaders and help them understand the problem. Then they were tasked with having to discuss ideas for community redevelopment and these other pieces, but they had a really hard time bridging the disciplines. DM: The inability to communicate across disciplines... It’s like that old saying, if all you have is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail. This whole conversation reminds me of what H. G. Wells said about the need for more ecological, transdisciplinary, ways of thinking inside and outside of academia: “Sooner or later human ecology, under some name or other, will win its way to academic recognition and to its proper place in general education...” JF: That is a great quote... It cuts to the heart of the matter. The Japanese higher educational system (like too many higher educational systems) still values the Sage on the Stage that has students reciting back what the professor said… What some have realized is the need for a more human ecological mindset, if you will. In the end, the goal is to create bridges between people and then use those dialogues, those bridges, to come up with new and creative solutions to problems. That’s what it’s all about. n COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
MARY HARNEY ’96
“The great big thing starts with the great little thing.” by ELOISE SCHULTZ '16
hen Mary Harney first visited COA, she had just finished a cross-country road trip with her sister in a secondhand Datsun that the two had bought for $1500. The year was 1990, and after twenty years, Mary had left her job as a dispatcher at a London fire station and was looking for the next chapter of her life. She recalls thinking, “What am I going to do? I’m not trained to do anything except take emergency calls.” Having left the Irish school system after 8th grade, Mary decided to earn her degree—but colleges in the UK informed her that she was ineligible because she didn’t have secondary schooling. Looking back at photos from her trip, she found a brochure from COA and mused, “I wonder if they would have me?” The interdisciplinary approach offered by COA appealed to Mary, and she wrote her application essay about Anita Roddick, the founder of The Body Shop, whom she had gotten to know personally when the shop—now an international company—was just a storefront in Brighton. “Anita had this dedication to using products not tested on animals and protecting the environment,” Mary says. “By the time I wrote about her, she was a multi-millionaire. But I met her before she was even half a Body Shop.” Anita’s commitment to environmental and community-oriented business practices inspired Mary to pursue the interconnections between humans and their environment, which, she thought, weren’t being served by corporations and conglomerates. Mary was accepted, and the following year, she sold her house, packed her belongings, and moved to Bar Harbor to become a full-time student. At first, she wondered if she had made the right decision. “Although everyone was speaking a form of English, I could not understand the language,” recalls Mary. “I was looking at eighteen and seventeen year-olds who knew way more than I did. And they were speaking words I’d never COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
Photo credit: Yoi Ashida ‘20
heard of. Every night for the first few weeks I would go home and think: I’m leaving.” But she persevered, and found that having more life experience than her classmates could be a boon rather than a bust. “The young people didn’t mind that I was older than God,” she jokes. “I was part of the discussion, part of the group. We were students together, exploring and investigating and learning together.” To fulfill her science requirement, Mary took Entomology with Helen Hess, and saw insects through a microscope for the first time. “I had never done anything remotely related to biology. Irish Catholic orphanages didn’t teach that,” she reflects. “What it created for me is a more open mind. I was very closed-off in a lot of areas, but this led me to exploration before anything else.” A life-long advocate for LGBTQ rights, Mary formed a peer group at COA that educated the community on the risks of HIV and AIDS through interactive theatre. “We used to do skits at ACM and in TAB about safe sex practices, relationships, and coming out.” They also provided lectures and information so that professors were equipped to offer their offices as safe spaces. Mary adapted her approach to suit different community needs, working with then-harbormaster Ed Monat to install public informational placards on fishing boats about blood-
borne pathogens and general health precautions. Mary continued her work for the community for her internship. She organized conferences across the state on HIV and AIDS-related issues, beginning with the supportive community around her on Mount Desert Island. In anticipation of harassment outside the doors of their first Maine “Growing up Gay” conference, held at COA, she says, “Millard and Bob Nolan became honorary lesbians and said they would be out there with trucks to bar the way.” Thankfully, the trouble never arrived. With the support of the of Down East AIDS Network, and the COA peer HIV/ AIDS team, sixteen other high schools throughout Hancock and Washington counties formed their own peer groups. Reflecting on her time at COA as a student, staff, and mentor to countless others, Mary notes, “the great big thing starts with the great little thing.” It’s an apt description not only of the ethos of COA, but Mary’s own journey after graduating to become the Director of the Down East AIDS Network. Neither did her academic journey end there: Mary went on to earn her Master’s in Irish Studies from the University of Ireland in Galway in 2013 and was unanimously voted to be COA’s graduation speaker in 2014, where she was presented with an honorary MPhil in Human Ecology. Mary was recently recognized by Herstory Ireland for her efforts to achieve justice for the unwed mothers involuntarily incarcerated with their children in government-sanctioned “Mother and Baby Institutions” across Ireland. She is an active member of the Collaborative Forum for Transitional Justice for Mothers and Children, sponsored by Ireland’s Department of Children and Youth affairs. This year finds Mary entering the pool to become a student again as she prepares to earn an LL.M in Human Rights. We can’t wait to see what’s next! n
Reflections on a Chinese Garden by JOHN VISVADER
he COA Magazine is thrilled to share with our readers an essay and a poem by John Visvader. John is retiring from College of the Atlantic; he will teach his final course in the Spring Term, and we can think of no better way to honor him than digging into his work. John began teaching at COA in 1986, and has contributed immensely to the spiritual and intellectual culture on campus. He taught the philosophies of Science and Technology, Philosophy of the Mind, Chinese Philosophy and Poetry, Comparative Mysticism, among many, many others. But more than any of these classes, I have come to know John as the guy leading the Tai Ji sessions my spouse, Jodi Baker, always made time for. In the midst of a ten-week term there would be this calm movement in the center of campus where a group of students, staff, and faculty were following the slow precise movements of a man repeating the phrase: make it delicious…make it delicious…make it delicious… Which, if you think about it, is a great answer to the question we’ve been asking philosophers for centuries: How are we to live?
Rock weeps a stream of tears Tree so hang-dog it’s in my cup The wind’s heart goes out to them Look at the flowers it brings. —Wang Wei
culture usually reveals itself more in its luxuries than its necessities, and the construction of an ornamental garden will often be the occasion for employing many of its highest arts and skills. This is particularly true of Chinese gardens, which were usually designed by landscape painters who were also accomplished in poetry, music, calligraphy and philosophy. And so from one point of view the Chinese garden was a multi-media artistic enterprise, it was a place of beauty and pleasure. But our own experience with and understanding of gardens will not be sufficient to enable us to appreciate the most significant aspects of the Chinese garden. Besides its obvious aesthetic appeal it also had what we might refer to as moral, psychological, metaphysical, and magical functions. All these functions were not clearly distinguished in Chinese culture but were all involved, more or less, in what the Chinese referred to as “correct behavior.” Correct behavior was revealing, harmonious and influential. It was revealing in the sense that one who acted correctly showed or expressed his or her deepest nature, it was harmonious in the fact that it fit and reflected the nature of things and persons that were either witness to or objects of the behavior, and it was influential because correct behavior possessed a power of excellence De, which produced a resonance in its surroundings calling forth similar behavior in both the human and natural worlds. This later ability of excellence to draw forth excellence is bound to seem somewhat magical to us because we have a different understanding of causal relationships than did the Chinese. Our own notion of correct behavior is usually confined to the areas of ethical or moral concern and its related realm of etiquette or manners. It is almost exclusively applied to the social world. This leaves out of account our relationships to what some existential psychologists call the Umwelt or surround world, the non-human realm of nature. It is revealing in the sense that when we refer to
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nature we usually do not include ourselves; nature is the part of the world that is left over when we subtract the human. We are thus left with the problem, particularly today with our “environmental concerns” of trying to bridge the gap between two things, which have been so deeply divided. Our cultural gifts from both the Greeks and the Hebrews have allowed us to construe our identity more or less independently of the surround-world. The story of the Garden of Eden is a powerful metaphor both of the birth of what we consider to be our peculiar and important human characteristic of self-conscious moral awareness and also of our banishment and exile from our innocent unity with nature. The expulsion from Eden was due to disobedience, from eating of the fruit of moral knowledge. From a Chinese point of view, Adam and Eve turned a garden into a wilderness or wild place by imagining themselves to be superior to the garden, by trying to be equal to the creator of the garden. The moral knowledge they gained told them that gods and humans were qualitatively different from and superior to the world of nature. Thus they narrowed the realm of obligatory behavior and chose to be associated with gods rather than gardens, and from a Western point of view struck a good bargain despite the special new set of burdens their decision entailed. (Some feel the companionship of gods is worth the loss of innocence and estrangement from the garden.) But the Chinese have never given much credence to the belief in a creator-god and so such a bargain must seem ill-conceived. A creator-god makes sense when the world is seen as an artifact, something made by someone. Paley’s proof of God’s existence, his argument from design, presupposes that the human eye is very much like a watch, something that shows the design of an artificer. Something designed needs a designer and the world, which shows design, needs a designer. The Chinese would readily embrace Hume’s suggestion that the world is more like a cabbage, which also shows design but has no designer or maker. The Chinese word for nature is Dz Ran, which can be translated literally as the “thus-so” or the “self-so”—that which is of itself so. This is contrasted with the “made-so” or the artificial. The world is thus something that is of itself so and does not need to be made-so, it is spontaneous and does not need a special transcendent entity or principle for either its origin or continuance. Metaphysically it is a kind of flat world with nothing either above or below it in terms of worth or reality. Human beings are embedded in the natural world in a very special sense; they do not possess individual souls which are a reflection of an eternal creator and which would elevate them above the world of the coming-to-be and the passing-away. If there are no atomistic and metaphysically independent selves, then the human self is to be understood and defined in the matrix of relationships. Humans are thus part of the web of life; there is only transformation and not continuance. What does continue is the cycle of transformation, and this is governed by the interactions between the nodes in the matrix or web of life. In this sense, the Chinese have a nodal concept of individuality, which is very much like a standing wave produced by fluid phenomena. COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
My own individuality is positional and is defined by my relative space in the matrix. I am most myself when I am in the proper relationship to the rest of the matrix, i.e., when I am subject to its influence and can respond with the unique qualities of my particular position. My own nature is spontaneous, not in the sense that I do something erratic, but in the sense that I do something uniquely appropriate from my position in the matrix. No two parts of the web are identical and the harmony of the world consists of each thing manifesting its unique position, which is a reflection of, and helps to determine, the reflection of everything else. Thus, behavior is both a determination of nature and a reflection of nature, and shows harmony when my nature is clearly manifested and disharmony when it is obscured. Harmony is disrupted when I either misconstrue my nature by following some self-conceived general image, as for example when I behave like someone else or follow purely abstract principles of behavior, or when out of selfishness or self-concern I place myself in a special or privileged position with respect to the matrix. When I act according to my particular nature, which cannot be isolated from the matrix of other things, my behavior is “correct.” It has a psychological dimension in the sense that I achieve an inner harmony and joy; it is also a beautiful act, as it produces a contextual harmony and it also induces other things to act in accordance with their own natures. Harmony is not something that can be achieved by one in isolation; it requires a general participation, a cooperation. A Chinese garden, then, is a place of harmony in this very special sense. It was usually a place to live in and not a place to visit. All the forces of nature were represented in the garden, including the various powerful manifestations of Yin and Yang and Chi, or life force. These were harmonized by the gardener in such a way that one good garden in the neighborhood was thought to increase the natural and human well-being of the whole district. The presence of a good garden was like the presence of a sage; even unseen the crops would grow better, there would be less contention, and the children would be born without defect. The garden was a deeply therapeutic place and was meant to restore in its dwellers or visitors a sense of their own wholeness. Those who had followed their paths through what the Daoists called the “dusty world” and had become self-enclosed and “dusty mirrors” could learn to manifest their natures clearly once more to reflect the web in which they dwelt. The key to the effect of the Chinese garden was to display the individual aspects of its contents in such a way that one’s sensitivity to uniqueness, and thus one’s own unique nature, would be amplified. The rationalizing and generalizing aspect of the intellect had little to find to encourage it and much to frustrate it, for the rational mind proceeded by making everything the same and ignoring differences. Thus the walls surrounding the garden curved and followed the landscape carefully, with few straight paths and no place to stand to see the garden in its total aspect. Every window had a different shape and the doors were seldom uniform. One traversed the garden and discovered each of its parts in surprised succession. Many landscape paintings were unfolded slowly from long scrolls for 13
the same purpose, so one could explore the painting slowly as if walking through a landscape and discovering its contents without preconceived expectations. There were often parts of the garden that were impenetrable and represented those parts of nature that could not be grasped by the rational mind. In the garden, nature was intensified so that even the most selfenclosed person would be encouraged to open and experience that root of spontaneity, of undirected unfoldment that lay at the heart of things. The intellect may tell us that everything is possible and thus our behavior may become bizarre and unrelated to the rest of the world, but a deepened awareness of the matrix in which we are embedded makes us realize that the nature of our own selves is grounded in the countless relationships to which we are subject. “Correct behavior” for the Chinese is that which is proper and fitting; it is behavior that is co-constitutive, that established one’s own well-being as well as that of others or of what we call the world of nature. The natural world was seen as an object of reciprocity and would return in kind whatever fruits our behavior towards it might produce. The garden bridged the extremes of the underly-human and the overly-human. A tree outside the garden would be left to follow its own nature without any obvious relationship to the human world, while a tree that was strongly manipulated by what we might call an overly-rationalist gardener might become a passive receptor of whatever geometrical fetishes the gardener might possess. Witness for example, the Western art of topiary. In a proper garden the nature of both the gardener and tree accommodate each other and are different than they would be in relative isolation. The gardener orchestrated the meeting of human and natural in an obvious way that could bring pleasure to visitors, but the pleasure increased sensitivity to nature, which extended beyond the confines of the garden. The limits of the Chinese garden were achieved by some Daoist monasteries in which the garden differed so little from the wilderness that the insensitive visitor would pass through it without realizing its existence. The same harmony dramatically induced in the garden existed outside the garden, and the hope was that in finding it in one place, visitors would carry it with them and find it elsewhere. Viewing the garden was like being made to look at nature through a specially constructed picture frame so that a certain sensitivity could be learned, and then removing the frame so that the same thing could be seen everywhere without the help of the frame. The Chinese did not have what we might call an “ethics of the environment.” They did not attribute rights to humans, let alone to trees, nor did they define a special realm of values or duties to objects of nature. This is a concern we must have because our progenitors have left the innocence of that first garden in a way that the Chinese have not. We have excluded the surroundworld from our sense of self-identity, which allows us to see ourselves as separate from and superior to its manifestations. We have suffered from this, or at least some of us have. Those of us who have come to realize that our identities and well-being are dependent upon discovering a “correct behavior” towards nature may sympathize with the Chinese view, but will not be able to imitate it. Once we have left the garden en mass we find that 14
we have trampled down the possible paths of return. Nor, I’m afraid, will it be possible to “deduce” ourselves back by various principles or systems of ethics, no matter how lofty, though some of us may do so individually. We live in a pluralistic society that contains many different values and concerns, none of which can hope to win out completely over the others. But many of us have developed a special yearning for the self-so if only because we have become so embedded in the made-so, and our search for our own broken wholeness has made us search out paths long forgotten and lead us to believe that something like the Chinese view of human nature must be true. We have also learned in stark pragmatic terms that we are living in a smaller and more interconnected world than we might have imagined. The idea of wilderness has become a metaphor for that other metaphor of the self-so, the garden. Many of us find that we need to have a place where nature can be itself so that on some fundamental level we can also be ourselves. We interpret this need and care in a way that the Chinese would not have, but our setting is different from theirs. If we find important healing in wilderness and its preservation we must recommend it to others, but the “correct behavior” which we sense and may try and spell out in terms of ethical or moral principles cannot easily convert those whose sense of self is constituted differently. Here the best we can do is to present our arguments in pragmatic terms. The Chinese were lucky enough to have been right without the need for pragmatic demonstrations.
HEARTWOOD I cut this tree that grew beside my pond and as it fell, its branches crashing, bending, shuddering, splashed in companion sound to the thunder of its trunk against the earth. Its core, layered deeper by each season’s wrappings unleashed its long-held secrets in ripples all around and quaking sound. I stood both dense and dumb, its language more ancient than my race. But a wind soon blew and shook the forest leaves with understanding. —John Visvader
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ill Carpenter is retiring and will teach his final class at College of the Atlantic in the Spring Term, 2019. His bio on the COA website reads: Bill Carpenter, full-time faculty member in Literature and Writing, grew up in central Maine. He was Assistant Professor of English & Humanities, and the Inland Steel Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Chicago until 1972, when he saw the startup announcement from College of the Atlantic and decided to change his life. I am reminded of John Berryman’s poem, Henry’s Understanding, where the speaker visits Maine (off P’tit Manaan) and considers taking a plunge, “into the terrible water & walk forever / under it out toward the island.” In the poem, the speaker’s journey is never completed, it lasts “forever.” We feel so lucky that Bill took the plunge and made COA part of his journey. His words, teaching, and friendship have inspired countless others to take the plunge and start their own journeys. Speaking of his words, here is a poem by Bill that was selected by Richard Howard for inclusion in Best American Poetry, 1995.
GIRL WRITING A LETTER
Lady Writing a Letter with Her Maid, Johannes Vermeer, 1670–1671.
Bill Carpenter will read his work on May 18th, 2019, as part of the Bateau/Jesup Memorial Library Reading Series. The reading, hosted by the Jesup Memorial Library, will begin at 7:00 and is free and open to the public.
A thief drives to the museum in his black van. The night watchman says Sorry, closed, you have to come back tomorrow. The thief sticks the point of his knife in the guard’s ear. I haven’t got all evening, he says, I need some art. Art is for pleasure, the guard says, not possession, you can’t something, and then the duct tape is going across his mouth. Don’t worry, the thief says, we’re both on the same side. He finds the Dutch Masters and goes right for a Vermeer: “Girl Writing a Letter.” The thief knows what he’s doing. He has a Ph.D. He slices the canvas on one edge from the shelf holding the salad bowls right down to the square of sunlight on the black and white checked floor. The girl doesn’t hear this, she’s too absorbed in writing her letter, she doesn’t notice him until too late. He’s in the picture. He’s already seated at the harpsichord. He’s playing the G Minor Sonata by Domenico Scarlatti, which once made her heart beat till it passed the harpsichord and raced ahead and waited for the music to catch up. She’s worked on this letter for three hundred and twenty years. Now a man’s here, and though he’s dressed in some weird clothes, he’s playing the harpsichord for her, for her alone, there’s no one else alive in the museum. The man she was writing to is dead— time to stop thinking about him—the artist who painted her is dead. She should be dead herself, only she has an ear for music and a heart that’s running up the staircase of the Gardner Museum with a man she’s only known for a few minutes, but it’s true, it feels like her whole life. So when the thief hands her the knife and says you slice the paintings out of their frames, you roll them up, she does it; when he says you put another strip of duct tape over the guard’s mouth so he’ll stop talking about aesthetics, she tapes him, and when the thief puts her behind the wheel and says, drive, baby, the night is ours, it is the Girl Writing a Letter who steers the black van on to the westbound ramp for Storrow Drive and then to the Mass Pike, it’s the Girl Writing a Letter who drives eighty miles an hour headed west into a country that’s not even discovered yet, with a known criminal, a van full of old masters and nowhere to go but down, but for the Girl Writing a Letter these things don’t matter, she’s got a beer in her free hand, she’s on the road, she’s real and she’s in love. —Bill Carpenter
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Interview by LYNN BOULGER, DEAN OF INSTITUTIONAL ADVANCEMENT Q: Let’s start with your history on MDI. AD: I came to MDI as a kid, of course, but my passion really started when I was a student at Colby. I spent winter weekends going to the island with my fraternity brothers, friends from Waterville. We’d go up Friday nights loaded down with cross-country skis and snowshoes, car crammed with food and gear. My father’s house was always open—but it was not heated in the winter. We’d build a fire, sometimes we’d cook outside. We loved it. It was beautiful. We really got a whiff of what winter could be. That’s funny that you fell in love with the island in the winter. For many summer residents, MDI is all about the sailing, the kayaking, the hiking. You came to love its frozen landscape. I learned to scuba dive at Colby and we did our open dives in the winter in Camden Harbor. I like to say that every dive I’ve done since then has been better. MDI is this extraordinary place where mountains tumble into the ocean. And as somebody who spends a great deal of time enjoying the outdoors, it’s an extraordinary place to live near. You don’t have to get in a car, you can ride your bike everywhere, you can walk everywhere. That said, it takes a certain type of person to live on Mount Desert because the weather is so unpredictable, even in summer. I think the island draws a certain type of person who really wants to be here. There’s a lot of fog, there can be long rainy stretches. You have to be hearty. People who choose this are not the same people who choose white sand beaches and warm water. I think that’s not what people in Maine are looking for. You can come here for things you don’t get anywhere else. It’s a hard place not to love. How do you see COA fitting into what you love about the island? I think of COA as a benefactor to the island in terms of its knowledge and insight into the environmental aspects of what makes island living worth understanding. But I also look at COA from a broader perspective. I don’t think of it as just a Down East Maine college. I think of it more as a college that 16
Andrew and Kate Davis.
commands true environmental expertise, believes that studying and understanding the environment is critically important to the entire planet and not just to an island. And the island is fortunate to have a great laboratory right in its own back yard. That’s so true. There is so much going on globally that we study right here, from nanoplastics in the ocean, to the effects of climate change on sea level rise, species depletion and change in migration patterns, coastal economies shifting as fish and lobster stocks move and change, farming practices keeping up with water shortages. The global-local link. Tell me about the decision to support the new Center for Human Ecology. I think you know that the $10 million Shelby Cullom Davis Charitable Fund gift, under your leadership, is the largest single gift given in college’s history. Look, it’s not as if the relationship between the Davis family and COA is anything new. I mean, I think I am generation three—in terms of looking at what my grandmother [Kathryn W. Davis] originally saw and then my father compounded. [Here, the interviewer laughs; Shelby M.C. Davis has supported the Davis United World College Scholars at COA for eighteen years.] Through the Shelby Cullom Davis Charitable Fund, every member of our family, in one way, shape, or form, is a supporter of COA. I am the lead on this particular grant but we are all participating. Except for Shelby. We did this to honor him and all he has
done. My hope for COA is that it teams up with Colby, Bowdoin, Bates and the labs—Mount Desert Island Biological Lab and Jackson Lab and Bigelow. We have four of the great liberal arts institutions and three of the great labs in the country within driving distance of each other and it would be a waste of resources not to be collaborating. That alliance is what I would like to see, with certain institutions taking the lead on different projects. This is about the state of Maine, attracting jobs, attracting industry. Here you have all of this power generated in one place. I want to see some teamwork, a concerted effort to come together for the benefit of the people of Maine. Your philanthropy overall—what moves you? What interests you? How do you decide? Actually, the gift that keeps on giving for me is in the field of education. In New Mexico I founded a scholarship program for first generation students to attend college. There are one hundred students now—many Native Americans and Hispanics—and that program has grown from a standing start. I am hoping to make it even larger because I am a big fan of the first generation model. When you meet these first gen students in high school, they have no role model for next step. College is not even on their radar most of the time until we propose the opportunity. The courage it takes for them to rise to the challenge, for their families, is difficult to comprehend. I am so proud of our scholarship recipients. If you had one piece of advice for young philanthropists, what would it be? Find the thing you think you can get behind. I hate to use the overused word “passionate”—but something you believe in down to your toenails. Be a mile deep and an inch wide on it. Do not spread yourself so thin that you are just writing checks because, frankly, if you’re in a position to be philanthropic, you’re going to bring more to the table than money. Dig in, understand what the problem is, and contribute your intellect as well as your checkbook. n COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
HeLaCell was formed in Fall Term, 2018 by Leelou Gordon-Fox '21, Priyamvada Chaudhary '21, Amrita Valiyaveelil, Thule van den Dam '20, and Hanna Lafferty '19. It functions as a platform for global literacy and a space for students to engage critically with the interconnected and difficult problems the popaulation encounters today while pointing out the beautiful and important work people create in the face of it all. Along with building a bi-weekly zine featuring original articles, prose, art, and news, compiled through submissions, HeLaCell also holds weekly discussion forums focused on transnational issues and questions. Recently, they brought Nandita Dinesh to campus, a visiting artist from India with a PhD in Drama, who has predominantly been making work in Kashmir. She gave a Human Ecology Forum and an 8-hour-long immersive theatre workshop. While connecting COA with Nandita was an incredible step towards HeLaCellâ€™s goal to provide platforms for critical global engagement, their work doesnâ€™t end there. With hopes to bring a speaker series to COA in the future, HeLaCell is ideating on how to establish their identity as a platform through concretizing the platforms they have already made available while creating scope for new avenues and ideas. n
Top to bottom: art by Indiana Nunez Sharer '19, Leelou Gordon-Fox '21, and Sibia Inay Ortega '19 COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
A N N OTAT E D ST U D E N T S C H E D U L E
ike many COA students, my route here wasn’t the conventional public school elementary, middle, high school, and then straight to college. I was mostly homeschooled and then attended an alternative, artsy private school during my senior year. I spent a gap year getting
some international travel under my belt and working as a pottery studio assistant before I enrolled in the nearby community college, preparing to transfer to a liberal arts college after a couple semesters knocking out general education requirements. The year at community college helped me learn
I made a ton of wonderful memories during the spring of my first year at COA. I’ll never forget when half of my Intermediate Video Workshop class got sick the morning of a field trip so only a handful of us drove the 5 hours down to Boston to the Institute of Contemporary Art, blasting music the whole way. Afterwards, we discussed the exhibit—Art in the Age of the Internet—over veggie bowls at a restaurant down the road. The exhibit opened my mind to so many different kinds of art. I spent most of the day smiling.
Ongoing Narratives taught me so much about what frame of creation satisfies me most. I met with a group of two other classmates in Bill Carpenter’s office/lair/mini-library. Winter began to thaw and the days stretched longer and longer but circumstance still offered us a few chances to hear Bill, in his gravelly voice, read the newest installment of our original novels aloud as a bright red cardinal feasted at the bird feeder in the snow just beyond his picture window. The tutorial taught me (1) to always find beauty in the small things and (2) always write for the enjoyment of others.
a lot about myself and what I wanted out of education. I knew that I’d probably wilt in a massive, public university so I started Googling unique, non-traditional colleges. I’m thankful to have found a home where I can transparently live and academically grow.
Student Schedule Dept
Intermediate Video Workshop
Molecular Genetics Workshop
Tutorial: Ongoing Narratives
Methods of Teaching Writing Across the Curriculum
Tutorial: Independent SingingSongwriting
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ABBY JO MORRIS '20
This photo was taken on a quick morning hike into Acadia with our Outing Club one morning. It was early October and the leaves were beginning to change. I don’t know if it’s because I grew up with perennial heat and no mountains in Florida but I’m constantly overwhelmed by the seasons and topography of Mt. Desert Island. I used to think I wasn’t outdoorsy. My OOPs trip completely changed that: 6 days in Baxter State Park in northern Maine opened my eyes to Maine’s beauty.
Shaw, Matthew Patrick MR
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The Molecular Genetics Workshop was a one-week, not-for-credit course that spanned over the second half of our spring break. A grant allowed 18 students to spend a working week at the nearby Mt. Desert Island Biological Laboratory where we tested different treatments on samples of regenerating zebrafish. I’m thankful to attend a school that allows me to explore my interests because—even though I’m not “science-y” and don’t plan to enter the research field—the course not only helped me gain further appreciation for that world but I got to spend a week laughing in a gorgeous coastal lab with my friends swabbing tiny, wriggling fish and counting spots on petri dishes.
I’ve completed three one-on-one tutorials with John Cooper during my two years at COA. This Independent Singing-Songwriting tutorial was my first. John instructed me to notate my original songs, something I’d never had to do. Music notation was never my strong suit but I still cranked it out, albeit slowly. I stayed motivated by the prospect of having a physical copy of my memorized song. But John showed me the greater benefit of notation by sitting down with me for an hour and a half each week to dissect one of my original pieces, pointing where I need to elaborate on a musical idea and when I needed to simplify. My music has improved tenfold because of my one-on-one work with him. n
New research into the feeding habits of whales in the Gulf of Maine—one of the fastest-warming bodies of water on the planet— could shed light on impacts of climate change on oceans worldwide.
The Simple Truth By DAN MAHONEY Art by LEIGH RANKIN '20
TH E FAC TS
he Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 99% of the world’s oceans, according to a 2015 study published in Science. Based on the research, the Gulf has warmed an alarming seven times faster than the rest of our oceans. In 2018, the Gulf experienced 315 days of heat wave temperatures. This has almost certainly had drastic effects on the marine life and fisheries that define the culture and economy of coastal Maine. According to Maine Fisheries and Wildlife, the fluctuation in ocean temperatures is directly responsible for rises in sea turtle strandings and the overfishing of Atlantic cod in the Gulf. Some also theorize it may be causing a major redistribution of large whale species. A new five-year study of whale foraging ecology is being undertaken by members of College of the Atlantic’s Allied Whale marine mammal research program in partnership with Cetos Research Organization. This new research will give scientists their first broad picture of how the ocean’s top predators are adapting to a rapidly changing environment. Ann Zoidis, a research associate with COA who has worked with Allied Whale for over twenty-five years, is the principal investigator on the Federal Research Permit providing for this and other studies at Allied Whale. 20
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Two fin whales and an Atlantic white-sided dolphin seen from above. Photo credit: Toby Stephenson '98. Photo taken with Research Permit No.20951. COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
“The warming Gulf has the potential to radically affect prey structure, and we have excellent comparative data from before the warming started that will help us evaluate this hypothesis,” says Allied Whale director Dr. Sean Todd, the Steven K. Katona Chair in Marine Science at COA and a co-investigator on the project. “This study will provide important insights into the impacts of climate change on the ocean.” TH E WAR M I N G
ow does warming happen? According to oceanographer Hillary Scannell in the journal Earth & Space Science News, the source of the warming lies in the “heartbeat of the Atlantic Ocean.” This heartbeat centers around Greenland where a mass of cold water, known as the Labrador Current, sinks and moves southward along the east coast of North America, eventually making its way to the Gulf of Maine. To occupy the space left by the Labrador Current, the northward traveling Gulf Stream flows up the equatorial Atlantic to the Arctic, in a circulation system reminiscent of arteries leaving and veins entering a heart. The Labrador Current weakens when a warming climate causes ice in the Arctic to melt and the resultant freshwater to join the journey south. Fresh water does not sink as readily as the denser saline water, causing the Current to lose its vigor. When this happens, the northward traveling Gulf Stream is able to move further and further into the Gulf of Maine, warming it. Tasha Pastor, data manager, co-investigator, and COA graduate student working on the study, observed an unnaturally large amount of jellyfish and sunfish in the Gulf during the summer of 2018. Those species, along with leatherback turtles and seahorses, have become frequent visitors to the Gulf of Maine over the last couple of years. The Gulf is much like the proverbial canary in the coal mine—an early warning signal of widespread environmental change, according to Zoidis. “We’re seeing the changes here perhaps earlier and more dramatically than in other bodies of water, but what we’re seeing happen here is going to 22
happen elsewhere—and it’s not just whales, but fish and seabird populations that are being affected.” The arrival of new species is pretty striking, but what does that mean for sea life that requires colder, more oxygen-rich water in order to thrive? Will sea creatures just keep heading north? And what does that portend for Gulf of Maine? TH E F EDS
n the United States, whales are protected by the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Since marine mammals are protected by law and studies on marine mammals involve close approaches and other activities that might incidentally harass the animals, a permit is mandatory for this study being undertaken. A marine mammal research permit is granted by NMFS once they approve the scientific submittal and application and deem the study bona fide scientific research. Zoidis, who has a long history of working with
federal agencies and marine mammal research, at the suggestion by Darron Collins, COA president, applied and was awarded a selective scientific research and enhancement permit from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), allowing Allied Whale to begin the project. The year-long application process included a thorough vetting of the study hypotheses, as well as all those who have been designated co-investigators in the project including Dr. Sean Todd, Dan DenDanto, and Toby Stephenson. “Everyone involved had to submit a CV, and every individual who has been granted principal or co-principal investigator status has been through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s calculator, the Federal Register, the Marine Mammal Commission, and the Office of Protected Resources for evaluation. It’s not an easy permit to get,” Zoidis emphasized. After the permit was secured Pastor and Lindsey Jones, a former COA graduate COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
student of Todd, were enlisted to assist with the research and documenting of the study. Zoidis noted, “You have to document everything when you are out interacting with these creatures. You have to say how many times you approached them, what you did, how they reacted… And then all of the photos, videos, drone footage, and biopsy data needs to be catalogued, collated, and numbered so it can be accessed by NOAA.”
The nature of the study is very similar to one carried out by Todd at Allied Whale from 1999-2003, which broadly surveyed the dietary habits of the same whale species in the Gulf. That snapshot in time provides a baseline against which
TH E S H OT
he biopsy process with whales is similar to that of humans; a doctor extracts a sample, analyzes it in a lab, notes the results, and then proceeds accordingly. Only with whales the whole operation takes place twenty-five miles offshore and from the bow of a boat and with a specially fitted crossbow. In short, IT IS AMAZING!
TH E RO CK
aleen whales—including minkes, fins, and humpbacks—are excellent sentinel species because they are positioned at the top of the ocean’s food chain. These top marine predators depend on food resources, such as plankton, that are intimately linked to the ocean’s climate, and changes to their diet and feeding habits can tell scientists much about how climate change and warming waters are impacting ocean life. The NMFS permit allows key Allied Whale researchers to obtain skin samples from whales by using crossbow-delivered biopsy darts. With COA’s Edward McCormick Blair Marine Research Station (aka: The Rock) located 25 miles offshore as their home base, staff and students use COA research boats to survey nearby whale feeding grounds. Both Mount Desert Rock and the nearby Inner Schoodic Ridges are areas of upwelling, which creates localized zones of high biological productivity. Species commonly sighted off The Rock include humpback, finback, minke, and pilot whales, harbor porpoise, common and white-sided dolphin, and harbor and gray seals. Exciting recent sightings include basking sharks, mola mola, and even a critically endangered right whale. Zoidis, no stranger to spending long stretches of time living out at The Rock, has fond memories of the place: “There’s not a ton of distractions like in daily life. It’s just six or eight people dealing with themselves and humanity in this striking, remote environment. There were times when we would be eating dinner and the whales were swimming all around us.” You don’t get an experience like that anywhere else in the world. COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
“The opportunity to revisit this particular population of whales in the Gulf of Maine, in a methodical fashion, is exciting,” Zoidis says. “We all are seeing effects of the world changing rapidly, so examining how these environmental changes might be affecting marine mammals right here in our backyard is very interesting to all of us.”
to measure the current state of the Gulf food chain, Todd says. In fact, much of the data collected in this study is intended to provide a long term (longitudinal) comparison data set from which to compare foraging habitats from 20 years ago. Dr. Todd’s original study provides the only means and platform for that scientific comparison.
When approaching a whale or group of whales, the researchers need to assess the situation carefully. They note the time and place of the encounter, they take photographs in order to ID the whale, and then head to within 10-20 meters to take the shot. The ideal place to biopsy a whale is in the flank behind the dorsal fin. Whales don’t feel it as much if the
On the Rock… There’s not a ton of distractions like in daily life. It’s just six or eight people dealing with themselves and humanity in this striking, remote environment. There were times when we would be eating dinner and the whales were swimming all around us.
Once back in the lab, Pastor dries the skin, cuts it into small pieces, puts it through a cryogenic mill, and pulverizes it into a uniform powder. The sample then needs to be washed in a chloroform methanol mixture to remove the lipids because lipids cause “chemical noise” in the sample. At this point the sample is sent to a third party lab for analysis using a mass spectrometer to measure the isotopes. Todd plans to use the same lab he has used for the past 25 years, run by a long-time colleague at Michigan State University.
from the Eppley Foundation for Research in the form of a $24,000 grant, as well as a grant from the Salisbury Cove Fund for $6,000, and a grant from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund for $16,000. The researchers on this project have the only permit and are the only vessel-based research group collecting biological information from whales in the northern Gulf of Maine. They plan to share their findings with other Northeastern organizations, and with potential collaborators such as the Provincetown
In the end, it’s not just about saving whales—it’s about saving the ocean. biopsy is taken from this area. According to Pastor, the biopsy process for whales is likely similar to a bee sting. After the shot is taken, the researchers make note of the whale’s reaction: fluke slap, trumpet, or—as in the majority of cases—no reaction. The whales typically swim away or dive, allowing the arrow to pop out due to the attached flotation device. The flotation device also acts as a stopper for the hollow tip of the arrow, allowing it to penetrate the whale only 44mm. Crew members retrieve the arrow from the water (a process requiring teamwork and keen observation so as not to lose the arrow in the surrounding seas and whale movements) and begin the process of aliquoting the sample. For Pastor, this process involves separating the skin from the blubber then storing half the skin in water for her studies and the other half in ethanol for analysis at a future date.
Stable isotope analysis allows scientists to trace nutrient flow in a system by using a naturally marked element. When Pastor gets the data back, she will be looking specifically at carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios, measures that will allow the team to plot the prey consumption patterns of the whales. TH E M E AN I N G
tudies like these are necessary if we want to ensure the recovery of endangered whale species, Todd says, but the upcoming work will really have much broader implications. “It is our sincere hope that by not only presenting our findings to the peer-science community, but also to the lay public, we can demonstrate how climate change can affect a set of iconic species. This can then perhaps influence our society to make better policy decisions to slow the rate of our impact,” Todd says. “In the end, it’s not just about saving whales—it’s about saving the ocean.” Funding for the study, officially titled, “A long-term examination of mysticete trophic ecology using stable isotopes; examining evidence for oceanographic regime shift in the Gulf of Maine,” comes
Center for Coastal Studies, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, and the New England Aquarium. TH E WHALE S
f I am being perfectly honest, gentle reader, the reason I find this story so appealing is the fact that it deals with the holy trinity of my own literary sublime: oceans, whales, and crossbows. When brought together these things produce in me a terrible awe beyond ordinary language such that I find myself falling into metaphor, much like Herman Melville does in “The Whiteness of the Whale,” Is it that by its indefiniteness it shadows forth the heartless voids and immensities of the universe, and thus stabs us from behind with the thought of annihilation, when beholding the white depths of the milky way? Or is it, that as in essence whiteness is not so much a color as the visible absence of color; and at the same time the concrete of all colors; is it for these reasons that there is such a dumb blankness, full of meaning, in a wide landscape of snows—a colorless, all-color of atheism from which we shrink? And when we consider that other theory of the natural philosophers, COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
that all other earthly hues—every stately or lovely emblazoning—the sweet tinges of sunset skies and woods; yea, and the gilded velvets of butterflies, and the butterfly cheeks of young girls; all these are but subtle deceits, not actually inherent in substances, but only laid on from without; so that all deified Nature absolutely paints like the harlot, whose allurements cover nothing but the charnel-house within; and when we proceed further, and consider that the mystical cosmetic which produces every one of her hues, the great principle of light, for ever remains white or colorless in itself, and if operating without medium upon matter, would touch all objects, even tulips and roses, with its own blank tinge— pondering all this, the palsied universe lies before us a leper; and like wilful travellers in Lapland, who refuse to wear colored and coloring glasses upon their eyes, so the wretched infidel gazes himself blind at the monumental white shroud that wraps all the prospect around him. And of all these things the Albino whale was the symbol. If we view metaphor as not just a literary term but as an event that unites unlike entities together, then metaphor by its very nature draws a circle around the entire world. Through metaphor the stuff of the world is connected. This thought warms me; it is the essence of poetry, which for me is the essence of human ecology. But sometimes there are truths so simple they must exist beyond metaphor; they must stand for themselves. The oceans are warming. Every year, the New Bedford Whaling Museum commemorates Melville’s voyage on the whaleship Acushnet by reading Moby Dick aloud for twentyfive straight hours. You can watch it on YouTube if you’re curious or a masochist. When I was forced to read Moby Dick in high school, I had no idea what it was about, but over the years I’ve come to appreciate the book’s simple truths, like the description of chowder: “...when that smoking chowder came in... Oh, sweet friends! Hearken to me. It was made of small juicy clams, scarcely bigger than hazel nuts, mixed with pounded ship biscuit, and salted pork cut up into little flakes; the whole enriched with butter, and plentifully seasoned with pepper and
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salt.” But so what? What does it all mean? Some say Moby Dick is about everything and nothing at all. For the purposes of this article, let’s agree Moby Dick is a novel about the relationship of self and other: Ishmael and Queequeg, Christians and pagans, Ahab and Starbuck, and to move the argument along, humans and their environment. For too long the human/environment relationship has been a bad one, mostly because we see ourselves apart from the environment instead of as a part of the environment. This thinking leads to disastrous consequences (Spoiler Alert: it ends badly for Ahab). Now is that time in a relationship when we see the ending clearly on the horizon, the time when we find ourselves looking up and wonder why it is we always find ourselves looking up. We hunt for signs. We stumble about and maybe even feel like giving up; but the dedicated never give up, they get to work. At COA we do not turn away, we turn to the task at
hand. And for the researchers involved in this study that means turning to the whales, because for thousands of years whales have done nothing but provide us with answers: what to carve; what to eat; what to burn; and, here on campus, where it is we will meet. What is it about whales that makes them so compelling to us? For Zoidis, whales are “highly intelligent and incredibly present when you are swimming with them… They have always captured the human imagination...they are massive and mysterious and appear out of the depths... and then they go away.” Let’s hope they never go too far away. n
Sources for this article: Science, Earth & Space Science News, Moby Dick, COA News Website.
A N N OTAT E D ST U D E N T S C H E D U L E
n Maine, the weather becomes a topic of conversation; it becomes “Weather”—or so I realised in hailing from the tropics. On some days I have breakfast in Take-A-Break. On those days, I sometimes sit with people I will eventually come to know. The distance between now and eventually is pretty drastic. So when this someone asks me,
“How are you?” the conversation usually goes something like this: 1: How are you? 2: Uh… [breathes] 1: [Awaits response] 2: The weather 1: The Weather! 2: The WEATHER! 1: The weather…
Over my years at COA, I have learnt to question disciplines. What are they? When were they formed? Now that they have been formed, and we have been taught to “respect” such structures, how do we get understand the lines that divide them? How do we form lines across disciplines? When do we blur the line between disciplines? Jodi Baker and Netta van Vliet taught Politics, Body, and Representation together. An anthropologist and a theatre director walked into a bar… It seems like both the beginning of a joke and a wonderful podcast that you might want to listen to. In the case of this class, there was no bar and it was no joke (although we did speak about the comedic potential of a banana). Out of two three-hour classes a week, we spent the first half of the class moving together. We walked in circles and acted. If thinking or reading books or making heady art is what a college student does most of her time, then walking in a circle for an hour and a half is anything but thinking. Yes, she has thoughts. But she does not have time to conclude. When the ball is deliberately bounced halfway across the room, she does not have time to think about the ethics of ball bouncing. She has to react. The second half of the class, we (usually) spent discussing readings about the body. We addressed a series of questions that we could not conclude—which informed our artistic and vital practices. The two halves of the class interacted with each other. But it was not an obvious translation wherein “mesa” equates “table” It was something else. In Jodi’s words, it was a third thing. We felt it.
As the distance between eventually and now evaporated, spring came. The flowers were blooming, and the sun was shining. We saw occasionally bouts of rain and squirrels. Serious conversations about the weather turned into less serious conversations about the mind-body split, Russian trade deals with the United States, and women in writing.
Student Schedule Dept
Politics, Body, Representation
The Cold War: The Later Years
Tutorial: Contemporary Women’s Novels
The Cold War: The Later Years is one of the few lecture-style classes we have at COA. Jamie Mckown teaches this class. It is an exam-based class under the human studies resources area. Who is this mysterious figure, who both deploys rhetoric and studies it? I sat in on the first class and my eyes grew to the size of pingpong balls (Why ping pong balls, you ask? Because all other sports are bourgeoisie. Says who? Says Mao.) My disinterest in studying history, cultivated in bad high school classes, quickly turned to caffeine-free attention and relentless note taking. History presented itself as a way of knowing rather than a chore. Jamie did not throw the Cold War into an ideological war between Capitalism and Communism; he challenged that age-old narrative. We learnt about decisions the leaders made, the conversations they had, and the anti-capitalist and anti-communist policies the USA and USSR implemented. We learnt about nuclear warfare, the fear of it, the paranoia the media reflected, and the possible end of the world. We also learnt fun facts for dinner conversations, like: did you know that Pizza Hut was the first American fast food chain to open in the USSR? 26
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AADITYAKRISHNA SATHISH '19 I did my internship at the Royal Asiatic Society, London in the summer of 2018. I was amidst dust and 19th century papers of British academics. I spent hours in the British Library, the SOAS archives, and more. A student interviewed me about the internship and I remember telling him I was fascinated with archives because they were a visible structure of knowledge. I spoke of the joy of exploration and the role of the archivist to guide researchers. As much as I enjoy archiving, the job is not picturesque; it is not the same as a doctor working on a patient or an outdoor guide in the mountains. So, we stood in the library. I was asked to give a smile. All the pictorial glamour that archives lack, I glamourize with a smile. It is not just me in the photo but the “Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature.” Would you not want to peek at the Guide if I was the guide?
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van Vliet, Netta
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McKown, Jamie Robert
Unlike most of the local students, I did not get to visit COA. I did not even think about the weather when I applied. I was promised a dream of academic freedom. At the age of 18, I knew I was vaguely interested in Psychology and Film but that wasn’t enough for me to commit to any one or both of those disciplines. Those interests changed as I took classes in critical theory, anthropology, literature, and theatre. Although I was armed with these newfound passions, I was still looking for something else. I found it when I was sitting in a class at the end of my first year. I was very angsty: I read the news every day when I woke up and before I went to bed. (Now, I find good conversations and tea put me to sleep.) I remember saying to a peer of mine in one of Jodi’s classes: “I DON’T BELIEVE IN EMPATHY.” Although I believe in empathy now, I am grateful that I could say that out loud and discuss it seriously with my peers. There was something intangible about that moment. It was not cathartic. It was a feeling-thought. It was something I thought I knew. It was something I had been thinking about. It was something that we all wanted to investigate. This conversation, amongst others, transcended the lines of academia and the classroom. With this transcendence, I found home at COA.
Contemporary Women’s Novels was a tutorial by Karen Waldron. It was a class with no more than six students. Each of us looked to literature for different things. Some of us wanted to write more, some of us wanted to write about writing, some of us wanted to write about what has been written, some of us wanted to be midwives, and some of us liked to box. I remember walking into that classroom with a small table and six of us around it. I do not remember any moment of unsolicited silence. We read ten books by ten different female authors. With our tiny class, we met twice a week for an hour and a half each time. Karen would often make us start the class by saying what we wanted to talk about. We would each point to various things in the text that interested us, and the discussion would continue from there. Karen would soon interject and pause the class. Having carefully listened to our words, she would paint a landscape for us. But the landscape wouldn’t be ecologically abstract. She would locate the flora and the fauna in our language and reflect them with precision. n COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
s a young poet I wanted to be an architect. If I’m being honest, I think my architectural desire was born from a need to control how people experienced my work; I wanted to shape more than the white space of a page, wanted to build something more substantial than a ravishing book of lies. As I grew older, I realized creating good work (as an artist, a scientist, a human ecologist) was more dialogue than monologue, and that uncertainty & vulnerability were a lot more interesting than absolute control. I gave up dreaming in three dimensions and stuck to the space of the page. I fell in love with architecture all over again when COA hired hired Susan T. Rodriguez | Architecture • Design and OPAL (formerly GO Logic) to design the new Center for Human Ecology. The 29,000-square-foot Center—a project which includes an expansive new building overlooking Frenchman Bay and renovation of existing spaces—will house a mix of classrooms, laboratories, performance space, an art gallery, faculty offices, studios, a new teaching greenhouse, and multi-use spaces. This is a building that will become the academic center of campus and the heart of College of the Atlantic life. (For more about the Center for Human Ecology see the Letter from the President on page 1.) If you have not looked at Rodriguez’s website, go there. It is loaded with ideas, processes, messy sketches, fugues, elements, fabrications, dreams, triangles, and gorgeous finished designs. The process pictures on the site look like my notebooks when I am writing poems, everything is included: doodles, numbers, dates, lyrics, wrappers, wishes, lies, and delusions. It made me curious how architects move from one idea to the next while collaborating with a client. What do architects do to find the design of a building…? How do they collaborate with clients and not just dictate to clients…? I had so many questions about their creative and collaborative processes, it made me want to shut up, look, and listen. I spoke with principal architect on the project, Susan Rodriguez, in her office in NYC in January, 2019. I spoke with Tim Lock, principal architect on the project from OPAL, in TAB on COA’s campus in February, 2019. I want to thank them both for making time to talk about how they work. Rodriguez devotes a section of her office walls to each project she and her team are working on (see pp. 32–33). The images in this piece are drawn from the “COA Section” of that wall.
FINDING THE QUESTIONS 28
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building is both an object and a frame; where you are defining both identity and a place—creating a memorable framework that responds to daily life. Once completed it’s out of your control, but the groundwork is set for both expected and unexpected activity and interactions to happen. Certain types of buildings you design are meant to be carefully choreographed experiences, like a museum, but when you are designing academic buildings like this one, it’s more that you set something in motion and who knows exactly what will happen. Susan Rodriguez
THAT ANSWERS HIDE By DAN MAHONEY COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
s architects we have to allow ourselves vulnerability when talking to a client. You do all this research, bring your expertise, find historical photos and then you present it in a way that says: this is how we see you, do you agree? The relationship is like any other sort of relationship, it is about being present. Sometimes you have to defend something you really believe is appropriate for a client and they may not agree, and that is difficult, but difficult conversations are also enlightening. In a sense you’re saying: this is me at my most vulnerable trying not to just back away from something I feel is really important to the success of this project. It may be that you do not end up agreeing but then you need to keep working and find a way to move forward. If you do not have that sort of trust with a client where those difficult conversations can happen, then you don’t get the best architecture out of it, you don’t get the best art out of it, you don’t get the best graphic design out of it… It’s always going to be limited because no one was willing to stand up for what they felt was critically or emotionally important. Tim Lock
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n creating architecture in the public realm we are being asked to go beyond our own personal interests and artistry to capture the unique spirit and characteristics of a place and culture— in doing so, it’s somewhat more like portraiture. A lot of what an architect does—to get that right—is to study the history of an institution and its physical and cultural context. While working with very tangible materials and systems, you are also carving out the personality and the culture of the place you are designing for to reveal ideas and insight—through the architecture—that may not have been seen before. Susan Rodriguez
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critical part of the design process is figuring out exactly what inspires you and ultimately what informs your ideas. That spark or moment is often quite unexpected, it could be a comment that someone makes, a walk around the site or just absorbing and experiencing campus life. If you are curious and intrigued and want to engage in understanding what something is all about then the possibilities are incredible. Itâ€™s an amazing place to be when you find yourself immersed in that inquiry.
Image credit: Susan T. Rodriguez | Architecture â€˘ Design
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he act of designing for me is a constant dialog between the hand and the machine…initiated by a sketch that is then translated into the computer and a greater level of precision…then again a sketch. It’s a constant back and forth between different mediums, a layered iterative approach where you extract the essential ideas that literally rise to the surface through the process of drawing and evaluating what you’re looking at...in this way you are trying to find the design, trying to find your way to the essence of the idea. The computer is a vital part of the process for me, and this is where collaboration with my team is essential, because I don’t draw on the computer. Through this process, the design is ordered and clarified with a complex overlay of ideas and information along the way to enrich and inform its evolution. Susan Rodriguez
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n making architecture, your initial ideas are quickly challenged and informed by a greater awareness and detailed understanding of what’s involved—your collaboration with your client, the site, the culture, the politics, the relationship to place, program, and the realities of the budget. What emerges transforms your ideas until they become something else…something that would not have happened if you didn’t engage in the process. It’s like a chemical compound where all the different elements come together and can no longer be extracted, bonding at a molecular level to actually form something else entirely, something that is fundamentally changed. n Susan Rodriguez
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Premature Death and Grief
pitaphs to the dead express grief written in stone, crushing feelings etched at the moment of loss with the hope that the fleeting nature of human love can indeed be immortalized. In the case of child loss, the weight of grief is too immense to reduce to a few fragmentary words; we carry the stone itself as our grief, hungering for the actual body of our child, clinging to the love fixed in our hearts. Exploring the older rural cemeteries in Maine, the stark dates marking a beginning and end of life is often the sole message disclosing the death of a child. Always we want to know more, yet no story remains. Years ago, wandering the vast acres of Mt. Auburn Cemetery, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with my youngest daughter, Phoebe, I discovered scores of epitaphs on headstones written in memory of young children. Their haunting lament of sorrow seemed to reflect a communal grief ritually honored in the midst of child loss so prevalent in the centuries before our own.
Not only is he gone, but with him went the gift of parenthood, that complex mix of giving and receiving that both fills and steals from the soul, yet ultimately defines so much of who we are.
Anyone who has passed through the gates of Mount Auburn Cemetery, one who has walked its botanically named footpaths—Lupine, Columbine, Yarrow, or Verbena—or circled the still ponds nestled beside its vaulted banks, understands the otherworldly realm that exists within its walls. In that arbored cemetery—a dreamlike realm merging spirit and flesh—one finds monuments to death and trumpets to life. This veil between the mystical and the natural world that we
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By LISA BETH HAMMER ‘90 Nobleboro, Maine January 31, 2019
humans ever struggle to make sense of seems to lift while exploring this gardens of the dead. The specter of my daughter, Phoebe, shadows this writing for several reasons; her existence seemed a continual mystery, unfolding outside the typical progression of a child’s life and her death “walked with me” when the two of us visited Mt. Auburn Cemetery together—in the days she was able to walk. In the last years of her life I carried the imminence of her death, so writing within the context of loss became my desperate goal to capture wisps of her spirit while time remained. It is her presence that accompanies the epitaphs I found on the stones of Mt. Auburn Cemetery. Phoebe had a progressive neurological disorder, so “time” was working against her; with the progression of her disease, life shortened constantly, daily her dying came more clearly into view. I was comforted by the pathos expressed in the epitaphs written by other parents who lost a child to an early death: Walter (“Our only child”) The light of his young life went down, As sinks behind a hill The glory of a sailing star Clear suddenly, and still. That single line of words, “Our only child,” conveys vast human sadness and grief with utmost simplicity. It is not clear from the gravestone how old Walter was, only that he was buried beside his parents, who were left childless when Walter died. The hearts left broken by his loss are almost more expressive in those three words than the epitaph itself; the revelation that not only is he gone, but COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
with him went the gift of parenthood, that complex mix of giving and receiving that both fills and steals from the soul, yet ultimately defines so much of who we are. The great, lonely sigh that is felt in those words reflects a journey of parenthood cut short and now drifting, bobbing in disbelief. I used to imagine an epitaph for my own daughter, and it came close to those next four lines remembering Walter. “The light of [her] young life went down, As sinks behind a hill,” because I was watching her life-force ebb away due to her disease process, an illness slowly destroying the physical and cognitive capacities of her young life. With the same sense of being at the whim of the universe, I helplessly attended to the changes in her body and mind as she slipped away into the obscurity of childhood dementia, not unlike suffering death-in-life: “The glory of a sailing star, Clear suddenly, and still.” I had fantasized such an ode to my daughter, but when her own death came, such words were forgotten in the chasm left behind. Phoebe, who had no concept of death or time or the passing of life from one stage to another, disappeared from view in a seemingly blink of an eye and I was left standing to make sense of the absence, which the following epitaph captures: Her sun has gone now While it was yet day. Lottie C. Raulet —Age 14 The epitaph inscribed for a child is a glimpse into the heartbreak of losing a child to early death while also attempting to elicit an ode of joy to the memory of our child’s sweet life; the dual messages
of loss and celebration are central to the power of adequately grieving the death of a child or young adult. The above epitaph is poignant in that it expresses that Lottie “has gone” before the sun had set on the full day of her life, dying while it “was yet day,” and implies there ought to have been more time, more daylight to experience with her, until the darkness of night when a life naturally closes. Lottie died at the height of the day, when her glow was warmly felt, and in the wake of her light’s disappearance, darkness remains. To die when the sun has yet to reach its zenith is to pass before the fullness of life has been drawn out in all its possibilities; to die even before the fresh dew of early morning has burned off with the sun is to miss the entire day to come. We long for every vestige of light, every minute of daylight’s hour before shadows fall. Only two words are etched into the granite of my daughter’s gravestone— below her name and the dates of her brief, twelve-year life: Joyous Light. As her mother, those words say everything imaginable that words can contain—the ultimately ineffable essence of her I am left with to remember what was once a substantive physical and emotional bond. The stone I must carry is a longing for more of her that will never be physically answered, a grief only lightened by keeping the constantly burning essence of her Joyous Light alive. n Lisa Beth Hammer, MTS, LCSW, is a psychotherapist in private practice in Damariscotta, ME, who specializes in complex grief, suicide loss and traumatic loss, amongst other specialties.
A N N OTAT E D ST U D E N T S C H E D U L E
n my freshman year the Human Ecology Core Course was set up so that every Wednesday a professor would give a lecture on their perspective on Human Ecology. Jodi Baker began her presentation by talking about the album Heartbreaker by
Ryan Adams. The summer before I came to COA I had just started listening to that album, a really beautiful live version of it that I found after hearing it play faintly in the background at a venue in Philadelphia. I listened to those recordings all summer
Graphic Design I was the catalyst for my love of digital art, both making it and talking about it. This was the first of many classes with Dru, who is absolutely wonderful. Learning how to use Adobe programs like Photoshop and Illustrator opened up a whole new world for me creatively. I use these skills every term, whether it is to make a presentation look more aesthetically pleasing or for full-blown publication projects. I remember my favorite project in the class was each of us had to create a book about any topic we wanted. I really was interested in pixel art, so I spent dozens of hours in the graphics lab illustrating each page, pixel by pixel. Having graphic design experience opens up so many cool opportunities, and is also great to have on a resume. Because of this class, I have made posters for the non-profit Next Step Domestic Violence Project and flyers for COA’s literary magazine Bateau Press.
long, so it felt surreal to have a professor standing in Gates, talking about her love for it. It was a moment of connection and the words “Okay, the omens are good.” (as Ed Kaelber would say). I trusted that this meant I was in the right place.
Student Schedule Dept
Graphic Design Studio I: Visual Communication
Linguistics, Language, & Culture: Human Ecological Approach
Intimate Partner Violence: Dynamics & Community Response
I am sitting here annotating this schedule next to one of the textbook’s that was used in this class, The Study of Language by George Yule. This class was a fascinating exploration into the history, philosophy, function, and culture surrounding human language. I really enjoyed that we studied language through a human ecological framework, allowing us to read publications from across academic disciplines like psychology, anthropology, philosophy, and even mathematics. A noteworthy guest speaker that came to talk to us was Dave Feldman, who spoke about language from a mathematics and computer science perspective. As the first sentence implies, I continue to pull readings from this class into my studies at COA. Currently, I am in Japan studying Japanese, and I have enjoyed connecting and expanding upon what I have learned in linguistics to what I am doing now! 40
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DEVYN ADAMS '19
I am standing on the red bricks that lead to TAB. It is early morning, a busy day ahead, but I look mildly pleased to be wearing my favorite sweater. I’m pretty sure I’m about to head to work study. I’m thinking either, “I hope there are leftover muffins in TAB” or “I wonder if this photo will be my big debut.” I have worked for the IT department all of my four years at COA, and I feel really lucky to have had this privilege. I work with the coolest people on campus and can doctor a computer like nobody’s business.
9:35 AM–12:35 PM
9:35 AM–12:35 PM
1:00 PM–2:25 PM
11:10 AM–12:35 PM
Gagnon da Silva, Pamela TF
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This was one of the most formative classes of my COA career. The professor, Pam, was a visiting faculty from the Next Step Domestic Violence Project. I loved this class because we were able to talk about really difficult topics that tend to be silenced and avoided in everyday life. I am very passionate about advocacy work that addresses the complex issues surrounding domestic violence and deeply moved by the work being done at Next Step Domestic Violence Project. My final project involved creating an art gallery to with two other students at the YWCA and inviting the entire Bar Harbor community to attend. I was also able to use this class as a stepping stone be certified as an advocate at Next Step Domestic Violence Project, where I am qualified to manage hotline calls and other advocacy related work. In my third year, I ended up continuing my studies in this class through an independent study with Pam on advocacy and group therapy in the Spring of 2018. The experience I had working with Pam and Next Step gave me the experience necessary in what it means to be an advocate both in theory and in practice. Pam and I organized a bibliotherapy group that ran once a week at Next Step. In the following summer, I interned at a jail where I found myself confronted with survivors of domestic violence, so having this class really manifested into a core part of my education in my work. n
By July 1, 1912, the community on Maine’s Malaga Island ceased to exist. The State of Maine had evicted the mixed-race community of fishermen and laborers in order to clear the small coastal island of “It’s Shiftless Population of Half-Breed Blacks and Whites,” as one 1911 newspaper article described it. The mixed-race community was controversial; many people saw the island as an ugly mark on the pristine beauty of Maine’s coast. After years of well-publicized legal battles, the state succeeded in removing the community of around forty people, committing eight to the Maine School for the Feeble Minded. By the end of 1912, all visible traces of the community had disappeared—houses had been moved and the cemetery exhumed.
BLACK BO D I ES BY TAMARA FIELD
he history of blacks in Maine is very much a story about whiteness: its endurance, its entitlement, the ultimate disadvantage of its oneness. In 1790, Maine was 98 percent white. That statistic has barely budged. While the rest of the nation morphed and diversified into ever new incarnations of diversity, Maine has essentially stood still. The black population has hovered at around one percent for two centuries. When my ex-husband and I moved to the state eight years ago, race was a barely-examined topic in our liberal new community in the Midcoast area. Issues like LGBTQ rights, sustainable housing and eating local loomed much larger. Even at home, discussion shifted away from our diversity to other topics. After years spent in a diverse, and often divisive, Chicago suburb, there wasn’t much to say. The black population of our new town consisted of me, my children and a few others: adopted children, some biracial families like ours, a couple of longtime black families. We added up to less than half a percent of the town’s population. We existed in far-flung fashion, in separate bubbles that rarely collided. Maybe it was partially my perception. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t give much thought to unity or even the need for it. I was perhaps comforted by the mainstream status of my ex-husband and daughter. He is white and she looks completely Caucasian despite having a brown-skinned biracial mother. They exist outside the sphere of the “other.” I often forgot I did not. Nor did my son whose skin is darker than mine. There was one chink in the façade
There, on the 40-acre Casco Bay Island, blacks, whites and people of mixed race lived and worked together. Mainlanders in adjacent Phippsburg had never seen anything like it.
Posters designed by the following students in Dru Colbert’s W ‘13 Graphic Design Studio: Digital Project for the exhibition in Augusta: Erica Allen '17, Justin Glover '14, Leelah Holmes '16, Anya Owen ('14), Alex Pine '14, Hiyasmin Saturay '15, Nathan Thanki '14. 42
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“Small wonder Maine wishes to forget Malaga. It is still a bad nightmare in the minds of those who knew it well.” —Lewiston Evening Journal, 1935
VIEW FROM A TARPAPER HOUSE ON MALAGA ISLAND LOOKING TOWARD THE PHIPPSBURG MAINLAND, CIRCA 1910 Courtesy of Peter K. Roberts
of progressive wholeness that would not secret itself: my relationship to my white-skinned daughter. On the sunniest day at the beach or the noisiest day at the park, a question would break free and broadside me. “Whose child is that?” a fellow mom asked as I chased my golden-haired kiddo around a park. “Wait,” a child yelled to me, “are you the mom or the nanny?” “The history of race in Maine is the history of whiteness. People think they can’t be racist because they’re not openly disparaging blacks. What they don’t see is that they are openly deploying discriminatory thought,” said Todd Little-Siebold, professor of history and Latin American studies at College of the Atlantic. During reconstruction, Siebold explains, Maine was simply not attractive to most freed slaves: “Black migration from the South didn’t happen here. People went where the best jobs were: in Chicago, and other large industrial areas like Boston. But they didn’t venture further. Maine had very little industry and not much else to offer besides rural farming.” And the blacks who have ventured to Maine in the post-Reconstruction and modern periods have been in for some exceedingly unpleasant surprises: eviction from long-inhabited land, the excavation of their graveyards, accusations of straining city resources, requests for a cessation of African migration, painful episodes at public schools, hurts dealt out to children and adults. Malaga Island still stands as Maine’s only truly mixed-race community. The majority of the islanders are thought to be descendants of Benjamin Darling, a free black man believed COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
to have been married to a white woman. There on the 40-acre Casco Bay Island, blacks, whites, and people of mixed race lived and worked together. Mainlanders in adjacent Phippsburg had never seen anything like it. For 50 years, Malaga residents eked out a living while rumors of their peculiarity saturated the region. There was talk of eugenics, a highly popular early 20th Century “science” which held that mixed race people were of low intelligence and low morals. There was talk of reclaiming the island for tourism, which was taking off in the early 1900s as wooden shipbuilding died. In 1912, the state bought the island for $400 and evicted the residents, but not before committing several mixed race men, women and children to the Maine School for the Feeble Minded. On July 1, the day of their eviction, the remainder of Malaga’s residents were already gone. They took their houses with them. “White people were threatened. They felt if there were more people of mixed race, the gene pool would become diluted, creating people of inferior intelligence,” said COA alum Justin Feldman '07, now an assistant professor of epidemiology at New York University. “They used it as a way to justify institutionalization and forced sterilization. It was also used it as a way to outlaw and discourage mixed-race marriage and procreation.” That was then. Maine, like the rest of America, has evolved by movements, law and choice. What remains true, however, is the discomfort with which blacks often live their scattered 43
existence along the craggy coast. Javone Love is a sophomore at COA focusing in marine science. She was attracted by the school’s renowned interdisciplinary approach and ample field study opportunities. She loves her studies, but life at COA has been accompanied by major culture shock. Love hails from Washington D.C., a city where blacks outnumber whites and municipal government is as diverse as the city. “I haven’t had anything major happen. Sometimes I can’t find the things I need,” Love said. She had never considered, for instance, that the basics of self-care would be a hassle. Black hair products are nowhere to be found on Mt. Desert Island. She has to keep a supply from home and if she runs out, she has to hit the internet. Love has also found herself in the uncomfortable position of token confessional. White students occasionally unburden themselves to her, conceding past racial wrongs: “I somehow become the center of the conversation,” Love said. She and a few other black students enrolled at COA recently founded the college’s first Black Student Union or BSU. The unity has brought some fun and comfort, especially the stepping sets, a percussive, athletic dance tradition with precise moves that has roots in African cultures. At larger colleges and universities, stepping or “stomping the yard” is a mainstay of black sororities and fraternities. Stepping teams have become popular in urban high schools as well, including Love’s. The BSU screens black-themed movies on Fridays and opened up an African dance celebration to all students in late February. But Maine is just a stopover for Javone Love. COA is the first major step toward her dream to create a marine science nonprofit in her hometown: “I want to offer inner city kids something they normally would not be exposed to,” Love explained. “I just don’t think I can stay in Maine.” I relate. Living here can be exhausting. When I talk race with Mainers old and new, urban and rural, they insist they are “not racist.” The statement is offered up almost universally. I don’t ask them if they are racist, nor do I accuse them. They’ll often add the tired adage about failing to notice if someone is “black, white or purple.” Or: “I don’t see color.” I’m often too frustrated to launch into my diatribe about America’s racial reality, how our whole society is a matrix of racial separatism and conflict. Often I recommend they read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me and go on my way. But that last part they say, the part about not seeing color, there’s a lot of truth there, though certainly not the statement of personal evolution it is meant to be. Mainers don’t see much color at all. And neither do I, especially when I lived in the Midcoast region before moving to Portland. As news whirled around me in our first seven years in Maine (another white cop shoots another unarmed black man, another GOP attempt to keep blacks out of voting booths) everything felt very far away. I felt oddly safe, guiltily so. Then, in the spring of 2018, everything changed. I taught my children the word nigger and explained its meaning when they were pretty young. I’m a realist. I figured at some point, my dark-skinned son would be at a rural Maine festival or a new public school with kids from Confederate-flagworshipping families and it would happen. Someone would hurl 44
the word. But when nigger came for my son, it arrived from far more familiar environs. On a regular night like any other, my then-12-year-old received a message on a social media site from a child. He wasn’t sure about the texter’s identity. After flattering my son in introductory comments, the kid of uncertain origins launched in. He called my son a nigger several times in several different configurations of hateful words. He told my son that “black people are a disease.” Then he announced that he had to go. He had to eat dinner. I got a FaceTime call from my son at about 8:30 pm. I was in the middle of a meeting, but I answered for some reason. He told me what had happened. I almost dropped the phone. It was one of those moments, one of those lines of demarcation when life becomes something different than what it was just a few minutes before. I felt the power of it. After much digging, we discovered the perp was the 11-yearold son of upper middle-class social liberals. He is a child who has played at my house, who attended our birthday parties. His family was, for lack or a better term, “our people.” It seems that on the day in question he hacked into another child’s social media account and let hell fly…for reasons as yet unknown. The perp and this other child attend the same public school and very quickly the administration became involved. The school in question was also one my son hoped to attend that fall through a magnet program. He had been invited to visit the school twice and we were told there was an open spot for him in seventh grade. When the whole hellish debacle came to a head in June, my son was rejected from the magnet program and our family was at loose ends. The 11-year-old who called my son a disease was allowed to remain in the program without any discernible consequences. In fact, the principal of the school, who departed for a new job, never even filed a report on the incident. We had a horrible summer. My son vacillated between wishing he had never mentioned the incident to rage about the injustice. We were into late summer when we found we had no choice but to send our son to his assigned local school, a rural behemoth where he knew no one. Within a week, he was being bullied. Within a month, he had been punched in the face on the bus. Were incidents racially motivated? Was it a “new kid” thing? I can’t prove anything. But I do know that my son is the only black boy in seventh grade in a school of 350 children. Our Maine friends were outraged by the unfolding incident and they care deeply about my son. Still, we, a biracial family in the second whitest state in America, felt deeply isolated in our grief. He’s strong, people said of our son. He’s a resilient child, they said. Those things are true. But they don’t mitigate what “nigger” does to one’s body, the animal impact, the DNA of it. What it says, at its core is: “I own you. You are less than human.” We are not, of course, the first black or mixed-race family in Maine to walk this lonely path. In fact, the isolated path seems to be very much the norm for blacks here in these northern climes. “People in Maine think they are welcoming and friendly. In many ways, they are guarded and distant. There is this reserve, that Yankee, hardened reserve, which is resistant to the assimilation of anyone who is not white and protestant. And Maine’s government has done nothing to make this a welcoming state,” Little-Siebold said. COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
JOHN EASON CONSTRUCTS A BUILDING ON MALAGA ISLAND, CIRCA 1908 Courtesy of Peter K. Roberts
Malaga Island is located at the mouth of the New Meadows River in Phippsburg. The probable origins of the island’s community trace back to one African American man, Benjamin Darling. He purchased Horse Island (now known as Harbor Island and located near Malaga Island) in 1794. Researchers believe that Darling married a white woman, Sarah Proverbs. Darling’s descendants and their families soon settled on numerous islands throughout the New Meadows River. Purchased by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust in 2001, Malaga Island is now protected as a nature preserve.
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STUDENTS ENTERING THE MALAGA ISLAND SCHOOL, CIRCA 1910 Courtesy of Peter K. Roberts
Malaga Island community established. Henry and Fatima Griffin, with their family, were probably the first to settle on Malaga Island.
The State of Maine took jurisdiction of Malaga and nearby islands. Malaga Island residents became wards of the state.
ed Malaga Island, along with his Executive Council.
of $100 per household to the Malaga Island residents for their homes.
AUGUST : Formally named as Malaga Is-
JULY 1: The state set July 1st as the dead-
land’s legal owners, the Perry family heirs filed a lawsuit to evict the island residents.
line for the eviction of Malaga Island’s residents. State agent George C. Pease arrived on the island that day to find that all residents had already left.
JULY : Governor Frederick Plaisted visit-
The state institutionalized members of the Marks family and Mrs. Anna Parker in the Maine School for the Feeble Minded, later known as Pineland.
JUNE : The State of Maine paid an average
NOVEMBER : The state sold Malaga Island
for $1,650, a profit of over $1,200. No one lived on Malaga Island after 1912.
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Little-Siebold and others note that many long-held beliefs about the history of blacks in the state are the stuff of myth. Here are a couple stubborn ones: Maine was on the side of abolition in the Civil War. There is little to no racism here; how could there be? An enduring narrative holds that there were almost no black slaves in Maine in the 18th and 19th centuries, that the scant records of black inhabitants show that black “residents” were servants for wealthy families. But in her meticulously researched book Lives of Consequence: Blacks in Early Kittery & Berwick, author Patricia Q. Wall was able to document that at least 500 blacks lived in those two areas in the 18th and 19th centuries. Most of them, she established, were slaves. She was able to identify 186 slave-owning families. The records that Wall and other researchers have tracked down are fragmented and incomplete. Little-Siebold believes the names and stories of most blacks in Maine before the mid-1800s are lost to history. But there’s more: “There were slave traders in Maine,” Little-Siebold said. “You had cod fisherman. And guess what they were doing when they weren’t fishing for cod?” Apparently, transporting black bodies across the Atlantic and selling them to Southern traders. “They built the boats to accommodate the human cargo. So, a lot of the wealth from that time Mainers have associated with the fishing industry was not fish wealth. It was wealth from human trade, from selling slaves to work in the fields.” Another myth is that Maine joined Union forces during the Civil War with an altruistic goal of abolishing slavery. In truth, researchers say, Maine’s state government and military brigades supported the goal of destroying the Southern economy…and then shipping freed slaves back to Africa. Said Little-Siebold: “our history has been sanitized with these partial truths which are convenient and comfortable.” Few Maine stories have been more deeply buried in shame than that of mixed-race Malaga Island. The small island off Phippsburg has no visible traces of the 40 human souls who called it home in 1912. Covered in spruce trees and a blanket of poison ivy, Malaga never became the vacation paradise envisioned by government officials and investors of the early 20th Century. In fact, it is a state nature preserve rarely visited by people other than researchers. In 2012, the Maine State Museum in Augusta opened a major exhibit on Malaga that contrasted the humanity of its inhabitants with the racism, politics and press reports that sought to obscure and distort it. “The items displayed evoked the fragility and preciousness of human endeavor: a fishhook, button, broken doll, rusty lock and a piece of a dinner plate were selected to represent home life on Malaga. These pieces mingled with a diverse array of quotes and voices and hinted at the larger story of a community caught in a complex web of economic change, government actions and prejudice,” said Dru Colbert, art and design professor at COA, and a curator of the exhibit. “Near a well-worn woman’s ring with a bright blue gem appears a quote from the Lewiston Evening Journal in 1935 that reads: ‘small wonder Maine wishes
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to forget Malaga. It is a bad nightmare in the minds of those who knew it well.’” Often referred to in the press and public as “immoral and shiftless”, there were false reports of residents showing symptoms of syphilis and claims that mixed race residents suffered from “mental retardation.” In truth, though largely poor, residents of Malaga lived in a cooperative community that was largely self-sustaining. The town of Phippsburg did offer needed monetary aid and women from the town were known to attend to the island’s sick, but the people of Malaga mainly eked out a living on their own, fishing the rocky shores, hunting a bit and growing what food they could. A couple of islanders were skilled tradesman, including a mason. At least one woman ran a laundry service. They suffered through terrible winters in small, poorly insulated houses and dirt-floored huts. The poorest residents wrapped rags around their feet to keep the cold at bay.
We are not, of course, the first black or mixed-race family in Maine to walk this lonely path. In fact, the isolated path seems to be very much the norm for blacks here in these northern climes. Finally, the Perry family, which had owned the island since before the people settled there, sold it to the state of Maine. Despite promising to offer financial aid to islanders and maintain the community, Gov. Frederick Plaisted changed his mind after visiting the island in 1911 and ordered the eviction of the island by July 1, 1912. Plaisted told the Brunswick Times Record in 1911: “the best plan would be to burn down the shacks with all their filth. Certainly the conditions are not creditable to our state, and we ought not to have such things near our front door, and I do not think that a like condition can be found in Maine, although there are some pretty bad localities elsewhere.” In the months prior, eight mixed-race residents, including an entire family of seven, were committed to the Maine School of the Feeble Minded where six of them would die. They were all classified as “middle-grade imbeciles” or “low-grade morons.” There was never proof that the two women eventually released from the institution were sterilized, but there were suspicions. Both were of child bearing age and eventually married. Neither ever had a child: “forced sterilizations were common at these kinds of institutions all over the country,” Justin Feldman said. By July 1, government agents found Malaga abandoned. The only things left behind were the schoolhouse and the graveyard. The school was moved to another island, the 17 graves dug up and the bones thrown into five coffins. They were buried at the Maine School for the Feeble Minded, possibly having been combined into even fewer coffins. In the years following the
destruction of the settlement, islanders and their descendants rarely spoke of Malaga or their connection to it; but the echoes of the event resulted in racial slurs and other forms of debasement from groups of residents in Phippsburg and surrounding communities. Modern times brought different kinds of racial clashes to Maine. After an extended period of completely predictable population breakdowns, Africans began arriving. In 2002, Lewiston Mayor Larry Raymond published an open letter to Somali immigrants who had been arriving in increasingly large numbers over two decades. That being true, the number of Somalis living in Lewiston at that time was still
It would be great to end this story right here, but race in the whitest state in the nation is never anything short of dramatic. I ran into a Facebook post recently. It was on the page of a friend of a friend. Someone suggested to a group of tagged people: “Let’s go knock nigger heads in Lewiston tonite.” The post got some likes. Not many. But there were likes. My biggest surprise was that I wasn’t surprised. So, I selfishly ask, where does this leave my son? Where will he be safe in Maine? At school? A black teacher at Kennebunk High School just filed a complaint against the school with the Maine Human Rights Commission, a full two years after a student walked into her classroom with a Confederate flag draped over his shoulders. Another student took a video of the teacher’s horrified reaction and posted it on social media. Rosa Slack felt school administrators retaliated against her in a performance review after she accused them of not adequately addressing the incident. There have been other racially-charged episodes in Kennebunk schools. A year before the flag incident, a middle schooler said he wanted to “kill all the black people.” A biracial family has moved out of Kennebunk and a black teacher left the high school, both direct results of the racial incidents, according to the Portland PressHerald.
As public health professionals, our role in this movement is unique. Simply put, policing practices harm the public’s health and deepen racial health inequities. relatively small in a population of more than 35,000. Raymond appealed to Somali residents to discourage their family and friends in Africa from coming to Maine. “This large number of new arrivals cannot continue without negative results for all. The Somali community must exercise some discipline and reduce the stress on our limited finances and our generosity,” Raymond wrote. “I am well aware of the legal right of a U.S. resident to move anywhere he/she pleases, but it is time for the Somali community to exercise this discipline in view of the effort that has been made on its behalf.” Then-Governor Angus King attempted to diffuse the controversy that followed the letter’s publication. Despite the unusual and inflammatory message in the letter, King soft peddled Raymond’s actions: “I know Larry Raymond and he is not a racist,’’ King told the New York Times. “I wouldn’t have written that letter he wrote. I was in Lewiston last month meeting with Somalis and my message was, ‘You’re welcome here.’ But I think he felt that what he wrote was more innocent than was interpreted. The recent blowup has really obscured the fact that Lewiston has really dealt with a situation that would be difficult for any community.’’ As it turns out, Somali residents have been a boon to Lewiston and surrounding areas. In 2006, the same year someone threw a severed pig’s head into a Lewiston mosque where Somali men were praying, KPMG International named Lewiston as the “best place to do business” in New England. The uptick in business development has been credited in large part to Somali immigrants who have opened business in the downtown area. Local and national press articles have credited lowered crime, improved high school graduation rates and increased enrollment in community colleges to the growing number of Somali immigrants. Perhaps most poignantly, Somali immigrants have led the Lewiston High School soccer team to three state championships, including 2018.
As to the Confederate flag, turns out the old Stars and Bars is popular with residents hovering at the 45th parallel. The flag has been popping up all over the state. In 2017, Then-Governor Paul LePage claimed that 7,600 Mainers fought for the Confederacy. The Bangor Daily News fact-checked the claim and came up with a number closer to thirty. But the idea that my child is being exposed to the Confederate flag in a Union state takes me directly to my nightmare, the deep, often unspoken fear of every parent with a black son. Police. What about the police? In his recently-published paper in the Harvard Public Health Review, Justin Feldman laid out his research in spare prose: “police officers kill black people at a disproportionately higher rates as compared to whites.” There it is. What Feldman was able to prove with actual research (contrary to the protestations of many in government and law enforcement) is that our black boys are at greater risk of being killed by police every time they get behind the wheel of a car, every time they walk around with a toy gun, every time they instinctually reach for their pockets or the glove box when police request personal information. “Here, mom, take this,” my son said in the summer of 2016 as we walked around Portland. He was trying to hand me a water gun we had just purchased. He was 10. “You should put it in your bag. Police shoot people for walking around with these.” Tamir Rice. Michael Brown. Eric Garner. Freddie Gray. My son is connected. I almost didn’t write this paragraph, but I can
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JOHN AND ROSELLA EASON, WITH THEIR GRANDSONS LEONARD AND HAROLD TRIPP, IN FRONT OF THEIR HOME ON MALAGA ISLAND, JULY 20, 1911 Maine State Museum collection
at least be a ten-thousandth as brave as the mothers of the dead. Tamir Rice feels personal. The 12-year-old was shot in a park in 2014 after allegedly reaching for a gun that turned out to be a toy. I’ve had to sit and listen to white men declare the murder of 12-year-old Rice a “justifiable shooting.” Hell, it all feels personal. I was discussing the Brown case with a white woman in 2015. In the middle of our conversation, another white woman leaned in and said: “He had it coming.” Justin Feldman’s article, “Public Health and the Policing of Black Lives,” ties together policing’s disproportionate threat to black lives with the health of black Americans. Feldman found, for example, that blacks were less likely to seek aid at an emergency room if police were present, which they almost always are. I will let Feldman’s work tell its own story: The deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Rekia Boyd, and Walter Scott reflect a pattern of routinized state violence against black people in the United States. While police violence is not new, it has become newly visible over the past year as protesters in Ferguson, Baltimore, and hundreds of other cities have made the issue difficult for the public to ignore. As citizens of this society, each of us has a responsibility to work toward the structural changes necessary to end racially discriminatory policing practices that affect our communities. However, as public health professionals, our role in this movement is unique. Simply put, policing practices harm the public’s health and deepen racial health inequities.
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My ex-husband and I worked overtime to get our son transferred out of the rural middle school he attends. All attempts failed. We’ve made some academic adjustments and he seems to be making friends. He’s still angry as hell: “I want to be with people who actually look like me,” is a common refrain. “I HATE living here” is another. We’re thinking about high schools in Portland. There is a bright spot, a somewhat unlikely one. His name is Tavis. He is my son’s first black friend. They met in Hawaii over spring break last year. It was kismet. The two spent their remaining vacation time together. I didn’t see my son for three days. Later, he told me about their best joint idea: send all white people to the moon. It’s white, he said, they’ll be comfortable there. We can have earth, he said. Tavis lives in Seattle, but the two talk several times a week by FaceTime and play PS4 on the weekend. When my son told Tavis about the racist incident and subsequent rejection from the magnet program late last spring, Tavis took some action. He got a few of his black friends together on Instagram and created a group chat for my son. It was called “Black People.” It is a moment he clings to. And I am reminded that once, not so long ago in Maine, such mercy did not exist. n Tamara Kerrill Field is a Chicago-born writer. Her work focuses on the intersection of race, sexuality, culture and politics. She has written for the Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald and other major newspapers. She resides in Portland.
Today’s my last day in Davis.
SMOKE SHOCK By ELLIE OLDACH '16 Editor’s Note: The Camp Fire was the largest and most destructive fire in California history. It began on November 8, 2018, and was contained fifteen days later. Ellie posted this account of the fire on her blog, zeacology, and we found it so compelling we had to include it in the COA Magazine. Author’s Note: I live in a town that was not directly touched by the Camp Fire. My story is about one of the more diffuse and less destructive impacts of the fire. If the smoke alone has been unsettling, the direct effects are nearly unimaginable.
It’s been a week, now, of UC-Davis cancelling classes and closing campus as air quality bounces between “unhealthy” and “very unhealthy” and (for a brief time on Thursday night) “hazardous.” My housemates and I, stir-crazy in the house, have taken to checking the air quality index as reflexively as we check weather forecasts for temperature or chance of rain. “If I go out, will I need my face mask?” is the new “Should I bring a raincoat?” The answer, this week, has been a continual “yes.” The poor air quality is a result of smoke moving south from Paradise, California, where the Camp Fire has caused levels of destruction unprecedented in California’s history. Tens of thousands are without homes, more than a thousand people are unaccounted for, and the death toll is at 71 people, and expected to rise. This fire is pure tragedy. In Davis, we’re a hundred miles away from the fire, physically distant from the actual flames and direct impacts. But we’re also very, very close to it. Closer than I’ve been to this particular cut of disaster. It’s new for me, and unsettling. We’re close in that the people directly affected by the fire are just a few degrees of separation—if that—from us. These are colleagues, distant neighbors, friends of friends, grandparents of classmates. We’re close in that the fire is the dominant conversation at every gathering. At coffee shops, I overhear conversations of people whose families have lost forest homes. My friends and I parrot news stories about the emergency tent camps installed in Chico. We attend pop-up house concerts where our Venmo’d covers go straight to local emergency services. But the closest impact of the fire is one we walk through and breathe in every day. It stands out clearly on air quality maps, a dark purple smudge that has been hanging over the Sacramento Valley since last Saturday. Time lapses show it shifting a bit from day to day, nudging west, expanding east again—but beyond these slight shifts, the smoke from Camp Fire feels permanently stationed here.
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What is that like on the ground? Houses across the street that are normally crisp seem slightly fogged. At the end of the block, the haze makes a thicker veil, enough so that drivers use their headlights even at midday. Even farther off, the line at the far side of the field across from my street is so obscured you can’t see where cropland stops and sky begins. The smoke lends an especially strange cast to the sun, whose light is dimmed but glaring in the haze. Setting, the sun expands to an orange-red burn. One afternoon, I saw it ringed by a sundog—an unexpected rainbow, beautiful and unsettlingly strange. The fire’s impacts get even closer: we don’t just see the haze, but take it into our lungs with every breath. At first, the face masks seemed like an overreaction to me, like giving in to panic. But as the poor air quality days continued, they seemed more and more essential. Early in the week, I biked to campus, mask-
free, and earned myself a scratchy throat and sour stomach. I gave in and donned the mask. For the first few rides, it was confining, suffocating. I hated the strange u n ident i f iable chemical smell of it, the way it caught my exhalations and fed them back to me. And then suddenly it flipped: my mask became comfort, not confinement. It put up a barrier between me and the gray, letting me leave the house to go to campus (though it’s closed), to the grocery store, to a friend’s house. It pushed the haze away to allow a shred of normal daily life. But the face masks also cover the faces of people on the street, making us each unidentifiable, anonymous to each other. Like the dimmed but glaring sunlight, they are the visible evidence that something is very wrong.
And yet—isn’t this how climate change will go? The people that can flee, will flee. The people that must stay will don face masks and bear the brunt of smoky lungs.
NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey.
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Rebecca Solnit writes about “the blue of distance,” about how moving away from objects and ideas casts them in shades of blue that distort and reveal. The Camp Fire smoke feels like the inverse to this: not the blue of distance, but the gray of closeness. The hazy streets, the difficult breath, the anonymous faces hidden by masks—these are personally-felt and tangible shocks of not-so-distant fire. Closeness to shock prompts reflection. That this aligns with Thanksgiving, that Janus-faced holiday of gratitude/apocalypse, feels especially potent. Here’s what I’ve been reflecting on: in Davis, it could be so much worse. We have not made the heart-wrenching decision to evacuate a home, leaving pets and belongings, and wedding albums behind. We have not driven through streets lined by flames. We’re not sleeping in refugee tents. We’re frustrated by smoke, but, usually, able to make choices that keep our bodies safe. And personally, equipped with a car, I have a tool that can put the smoke at even greater reach. Tomorrow, I’ll drive north, past the fire, where friends have offered a place to land far away from the smoke of the Camp Fire. I am utterly grateful for this. And yet—isn’t this how climate change will go? The people that can flee, will flee. The people that must stay will don face masks and bear the brunt of smoky lungs. All of us will try to rebuild normalcy. The things that look like science fiction right now—the emergency tent camps arranged at the edge of the Chico Walmart, the neighborhood dog-walkers suiting up in regulation N95 respirators, the sundogs in glaring and toxic haze—will become just another part of the landscape.
causes of this changing climate. We have had plenty of opportunities to witness (or, depending on who’s “we,” experience) the impacts of climate change. And yet, here we are again. But do you remember the story of the Cuyahoga River, in Ohio? It’s the river that caught on fire in 1969, and so prompted the passage of the Clean Water Act. I recently learned that the Cuyahoga River caught fire twelve other times in the century leading up to the 1960s. In 1969, at last, the shocking image of a burning river prompted effective and durable policy change. To be sure, the Clean Water Act was successfully passed because of a complex interaction of political decisions and social conditions. But they say the
Cuyahoga was a key catalyst—and that could only happen because the image of the river, burning, wasn’t taken as normal.
That normalcy is terrifying, because it blunts the impetus to change. In the wake of disaster, there’s a potential for learning and adaptation and to move faster. The idea, in theory, is that this same gray of closeness can make abstract ideas tangible enough to demand a response. But if everything’s normal, no change is needed.
The smoke may become commonplace. It’s already persisted longer than expected; if the rains don’t come and the fire’s not contained, it could go on for longer still. And it’s likely to return, and worsen, with future fires. Smoke is wrapping itself close around the structures that make up our days and lives here, becoming a familiar part of the daily routine.
Recently, it’s felt like the shocks of climate change haven’t led to adaptation—at least not in terms of the large-scale policy change that could help address the root
But this is us, literally inhaling the effects of climate change. And even if that becomes commonplace, we’re lost if it becomes normal. n
NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens, using MODIS data from NASA EOSDIS/LANCE and GIBS/Worldview.
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IN MEMORIAM EDWARD GRAHAM K AELBER MAY 1 1 , 1 924— MAY 1 7, 20 1 8
dward Graham Kaelber became COA’s first president in 1970 after leaving his position as associate dean at Harvard School of Graduate Education. He recruited faculty from places such as Harvard and Yale, started building an effective board of trustees, and helped draw in COA’s first class of 32 students in 1972.
figure out how to talk to other people to solve it. It was radical at the time.”
“No one else could have brought us into existence. He challenged us with a vision that we are still striving to carry out,” said writing professor Bill Carpenter, a founding faculty member who came to COA from the University of Chicago. “Ed was the prime mover and universal ancestor of COA. He was the epitome of the servant leader. He put forth the original ideas of the college in a way that made them seem like our own.”
“Ed was a genius at human relations. His intuitive sense for bringing people together—and making them feel valuable—was extraordinary. So was his capacity for making ideas ‘believable.’ When he talked about the future, somehow you just knew it would happen,” Borden said.
Kaelber’s vision was unerring. Whenever asked about the health of the college, he would respond, “The omens are good.” Through those first dozen years, when the college was far from a sure thing, he kept staff, students, and faculty hopeful, focused, and inspired to give their best. As the first leader of an experimental educational startup, Kaelber had his work cut out for him. He focused from the beginning on building community—both within and outside of COA’s campus boundaries—building consensus, and creating a challenging, engaging atmosphere of rigorous academia and experiential learning. “The idea was, if it’s a really important problem, no single one of you is going to solve it,” Kaelber told the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2012. “You have to COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
Kaelber’s skills relating to others and presenting a clear vision were a big part of what allowed him to bring the college as far as he did, Rachel Carson Chair in Human Ecology and former academic dean Rich Borden said.
“During the last few years of his COA presidency, Ed pulled me aside at a dinner party one evening to ask if I would chair the academic affairs committee. I initially resisted on grounds of ignorance about college administration. Ed made an unforgettable reply. The job required only one thing, he said, ‘to arrange affairs so that people will work together.’ It was the core of Ed’s organizational philosophy of education. Years later, I discovered that this was the same advice he had received from Francis Keppel, his mentor at Harvard.” Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, who graduated from COA in 1979, said that she feels fortunate to have been a student while Kaelber was president. “He was kind, smart, insightful and always felt like a steadying presence in a very new and evolving institution,” Pingree said. “It took a lot of vision and courage to start up a college in a small, remote community on the Maine coast, especially one with
such a different approach to education. As someone who benefited from it directly, I’m grateful for Ed’s leadership in the endeavor. His founding role laid a path for COA’s many years of success, as well as the incredible impact the college has had on its students and community.” Kaelber was essential to the initial success of COA, president Darron Collins ’92 said, and his continued, informal advisory role with college leadership helped maintain that success for many years. His vision and leadership set COA on the right course from the beginning, he said. “Ed Kaelber was an incredible human being who, more than any other person, shaped the path for this college,” said Collins. “Although we are a forward-looking institution, this path—Ed’s path—informs what we do now and what we’ll be doing decades from now.” Kaelber’s daughter, Deborah Worth, said that her father was remarkable for being as interested and involved in the little things in life as with the big things that he was so well known for. “Taking us on walks to identify mushrooms, and becoming so genuinely excited when we found a chanterelle that we could take home to put in our eggs. Knowing, to the day, when it was the right time to pick the fiddleheads. Having us help him with his lines when he was acting in a community play. Reciting Emily Dickinson and Ogden Nash from memory to any and all who would listen,” Worth said. “He took such genuine delight in the world around him.”
J. CODY VAN HEERDEN O C TO B ER 7, 1 959 — S EP TEM B ER 12 , 20 1 8
it down for a conversation with Cody, and you become the only person in the entire universe.
In a world flustered by distractions and devices, Cody engaged with laser focus—you were always a sacred interlocutor. This was never performative; never Cody saying to herself, “Cody, you need to be a good listener…” Not that that would be a bad thing, but Cody’s focus was organic and came from somewhere very deep, and it was inspired, I think, by her incredible sense of wonder. Cody was, in a word (in an often misused word) wonderful—full of wonder. Cody approached the world, and all the things in it, and all the people in it, and all its encounters, with a sense of wonder. I saw that sense in her eyes from the first second I met her in the Straus Seminar Room at the College of the Atlantic, where she was a Trustee and I was the new, terrified COA president almost eight years ago. That wonder and insatiable curiosity made Cody the best student and a lifelong educator—educator as mother, daughter, wife; educator as graduate student in chemistry, in oceanography, in human ecology; educator as board member and dear friend. Cody was always a teacher, but she was never a lecturer. Cody taught me and taught others by starting with two simple words: WHAT
IF?! You know what I mean—“what if we started an art gallery,” “what if we brought every first year COA student to Great Duck Island,” the “what ifs” that are the antitheses of the dreaded “you can’ts.” I will desperately, painfully miss the way Cody would reach out, grab my forearm, pull me closer and ask “what if,” punctuated by both a question mark and an exclamation point. In a world that can feel hopeless, lacking Cody’s inspired, creative juju and her wonder-filled approach to teaching and learning are just two more reasons we miss her deeply. Her absence feels unreal. However, WHAT IF we all collectively agreed never to let Cody go—not in a morbid way, but neither with fleeting and sporadic musings by themselves. Cody loved this place and loved these people and that love has left deep, profound marks here. Every time my forearms rest on a table at XYZ, I will see Cody in the green of the grape leaves on the shiny, color-drenched tablecloth. And I will be reminded to say “what if.” Every time, the Western Way pulls me, like the water itself, through the valley of Little Harbor Brook, Cody is the green in the moss. And I will be reminded to say “what if.” Every time I pull up my chair to the table in the Straus Seminar room at COA, I will hear Cody in the creak of the floorboard, and I will be reminded to say “what if.” I am honored and humbled to share a few thoughts about my boss, my mentor, and my friend Cody Van Heerden. But I would dishonor Cody if I suggested that a mountain of “what ifs” would be enough. No one human mind nor pair of human hands could build a monument worthy of our remarkable friend. Her monument should be not just a mountain of “what ifs,” but to move on, act on, and see through the best of those ideas—just as Cody had done throughout her way-too-abbreviated existence on this planet. Our commitment to such a creative, inspired existence is the ONLY monument worthy of this remarkable woman. — DA R R O N C O L LI N S
HARRIS HYMAN N OVEM B ER 29, 1 93 6 — N OVEM B ER 2 1 , 20 1 8
arris Hyman, one of the great teachers in the early years of College of the Atlantic, died on November 21, 2018. He was born on November 29, 1936 in Philadelphia, PA, and was one of the most delightful people any of us have ever known. He was brilliant and eccentric and very kind. Harris was an engineer by training. He graduated from MIT where he worked on the earliest version of computers and was a nationally ranked wrestler. After graduation he worked on the containment vessel for the first nuclear sub. He often wore a black sweater given to him by Admiral Rickover as a gift after he and his colleagues sat on the nuclear containment enclosure during the submarine’s shake down cruise. He married the children’s book illustrator, Trina Schart. They moved to Vermont where they had a daughter, Katrin. Katrin and Harris can be found as the models in the pages of many of Trina’s award winning publications. Harris worked as an independent civil and structural engineer. He designed and built a solar house during the early 1970s when the textbooks said solar energy did not work above the Middle Atlantic States. In 1976, Harris moved to Bar Harbor where he helped create the Environmental Design Program at the College of the Atlantic. He taught engineering, solar design, computer programming, design,
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and construction. His eccentric and often Socratic way of teaching captured the interest of his students and they remained close friends long after graduation. One of the classes Harris was involved in created the small Mt. Desert Historical Society’s storage and display building beside the Bridge in Somesville. Harris designed and engineered the iconic Somesville Bridge a few years later. He was involved in the first restoration of the Turrets, an historic stone building on College of the Atlantic’s campus where he also designed the Campus pier on Frenchmans Bay. Harris was also responsible for the solar and structural design of the Wendell Gilley Museum in Southwest Harbor. In 1978, during the height of the country’s first energy crisis, the Department of Energy in Washington asked Harris to take part in the design of a model passive solar building for the New England area. The Government review panel, while impressed with his simple, straightforward design, had questions about its power output. Harris politely suggested that they were assuming he was designing an underpowered B-52 bomber when his goal was to design a perfect bumblebee. They applauded and accepted his submission. Harris married Karon Jack in 1979. They had two children, Leah and Jake. They lived in Lamoine with Leah, Jake and Karon’s children Katie, Bill, Abby and John for many years. Theirs was a vibrant, active and delightful home. No one who has ever met Harris will forget him. He was humble and understated but led a larger than life existence. His presence always meant a funny thought and laughter was just around the corner. His brilliant reasoning contributed as much to the philosophy and creativity of an issue as it did to its practical, engineered solution. His presence on Mt Desert Island created some of our most beautiful and historic and ingenious buildings. He is loved by his colleagues, students and family and his impact on our surroundings and our lives will live for a very long time. — R O C C AIVA N O
MILE S M EM O RY MAIDEN '86
RO BERT W. K ATE S
J U N E 2 , 1 95 8 — F EB RUARY 5 , 20 1 9
JAN UARY 3 1 , 1 929 — APRI L 2 1 , 20 1 8
He is survived by his wife of 33 years, Meg (Davis) Maiden, and their daughters Haley and Hannah; sister Elizabeth Lynne Maiden of Indio, CA; and many cousins in England and Cape Cod. His brother Marcus predeceased him in 2005.
Bob was predeceased by his wife Eleanor in 2016, after 68 years of marriage. He is survived by his children: Katherine Kates and her husband Dennis Chinoy; Jonathan Kates; Barbara Kates and her husband Sol Goldman. He leaves six grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
TO M COX
CARL KETCH U M
D ECEM B ER 12 , 1 93 3 – F EB RUARY 28 , 20 1 9
JAN UARY 3 , 1 9 41 — MARCH 1 7, 20 1 9
As the COA Magazine was going to print, we got the news of the passing of our friend and former trustee, Tom Cox. An amazing man who lived an amazing life. We plan to honor Tom more fully in the next issue of the magazine.
As the COA Magazine was going to print, we got the news that former faculty member Carl Ketchum had passed. Carl was the first math teacher at COA in 1973, and was loved by all who knew him. We plan to honor Carl more fully in the next issue of the magazine. n
iles grew up on Cape Cod and settled in Blue Hill, Maine after graduating from College of the Atlantic. He was an inventor and entrepreneur and a lover of being on the ocean. Maiden was the inventor of the SteriPEN, a pocket-sized, water-purifying device that was named one of the “Top 100 All-Time Gadgets” by Time Magazine in 2011.
ob was a geographer and sustainability scientist. He was a professor of Geography at Clark University, Director of the Alan Shawn Feinstein World Hunger Program at Brown University, Senior Research Associate at Harvard University, and most recently Presidential Professor of Sustainability Science at the University of Maine.
Photo credit: Veronica M. Berounsky.
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Left to right: Pete Emmett '92; Emily Bracale '90; Heather Martin '93.
CHRISTINE PALM was recently elected to the Connecticut General Assembly, where she represents the river towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam. Her time at COA served her well when writing two recent bill proposals: to ban seismic surveying in Long Island Sound and to require the teaching of climate change beginning in elementary school. Remarkably enough, the latter is proving controversial nationally, as it would make Connecticut the first state to mandate such teaching. Christine’s other bill proposals range from First Amendment preservation to protection for child victims of human sex trafficking. She thinks back most fondly on her COA days, and wishes current and past students and teachers all the best. Special love to Bill Carpenter, who introduced her to the school.
Grass doesn’t grow under SALLY MORONG CHETWYND’S feet. She does living history portrayals with the Northeast Topographical Engineers (Civil War group) with her husband, who portrays Abraham Lincoln professionally. Her second novel, The Sturgeon’s Dance, was printed in September 2018, and she’s deep into research for a non-fiction book about a police officer killed in her home town in 1964, and its immediate aftermath and long-term repercussions on his family and community. Sally’s working at Pfizer in Andover, MA, managing CAD drawings for the facility’s systems and processes. This spring her Brass Castle Arts website will go live with writing, editing, graphic design, and performances. BCA will keep her out of trouble after retirement from the 9-5 grind. The way a crow snatches at
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shiny objects, new interests constantly captivate her—no thumb-twiddling here. She loved every minute of October’s Alumni Weekend; her last visit was in the Dark Ages. Thanks to old friends and new who made it special! EMILY BRACALE won First Prize in creative nonfiction and Grand Prize overall in this year’s North Street Book Competition for her graphic memoir about cancer and end-of-life care, Our Last Six Months, independently published in 2018.
In May 2018, the company that BOBBI MARIN has worked at for the last 20 years, Somic America, Inc., approved her
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moving from Brewer, ME to Wytheville, VA. In November 2018, she packed up her 2 children, Alejandro and Liliana Martinez, and their 2 chinchillas, Marshmallow and Puff, and drove 16 hours from Hermon, ME to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwestern Virginia. They are enjoying the lack of snow and warmer temperatures as they settle into new routines. PETE EMMETT and his business LandScapeGoats, LLC were featured in the Black River Journal ’s Summer 2018 issue. The article, full of pictures of him and his goats, explains how the animal advocate started his eco-friendly New Jersey business by rescuing goats, learning everything he could about the species, and then put his goats to “work” clearing underbrush and invasive species.
HEATHER MARTIN had an eventful year! After graduating from Harvard with her Master’s in Museum Studies (Deans list, which she insists no one cares about except her father), she is teaching Library to 2nd–5th graders at Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary. Still using multi-disciplinary, learner directed object based learning, and these days, Library is an actual class. She is living in Brunswick, ME, with her two boys; her eldest is about to graduate from high school and her youngest is happy as a clam.
REBECCA AUBREY was named the 2019 ACTFL National Language Teacher of the Year. Rebecca is an Elementary World Language Teacher at
Left to right: Markéta Doubnerová '13 and students; Maya Critchfield '16; Sage Carlo Trau Serrano.
Ashford School in the Ashford School District in Ashford, CT, and a representative of the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.
TORI JACKSON recently received the 2018 Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents. The award was presented at the annual meeting and conference July 29–August 2 in Chattanooga, TN. It is given to Extension educators with more than 10 years of service. It’s presented to only one county Extension educator in Maine each year. HOPE ROWAN is excited to have her second kid’s hiking guide available in May. A follow-up to Ten Days in Acadia, Ten Days in the North Woods: A Kid’s Hiking Guide to the Katahdin Region is told from a fictional kid’s point of view to get young people excited about being outdoors. Hattie describes her trip with her family discovering the forests, mountains, ponds, and waterfalls of Maine’s
Baxter State Park, the Debsconeag Wilderness Area, and the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.
MIKE KERSULA and ANNIKA EARLEY MPHIL '14 got married in early January.
After MEG TRAU SERRANO finished the school year teaching Earth Science at Framingham High School, she and her husband Ray—and their cats Toasty and Dill— moved to Portland, ME (Ray got a job at Maine Medical Center). Then on November 8, they welcomed their son Sage Carlo Trau Serrano to the world! They’re looking forward to raising him as a little human ecologist.
After four years in Chicago, IL, and two as a Bookseller at Volumes Bookcafe, MARIANA CALDERON has moved to Denver, CO with her partner
and accepted a position as Store Manager and Event Coordinator for Second Star to the Right Books. She continues to practice human ecology by placing books with BIPOC and queer and trans characters into kids’ hands. MARKÉTA DOUBNEROVÁ is a teacher in a small primary school in Prague, Czech Republic. The concept is democratic education and interdisciplinarity. It feels like a little COA, without the ocean.
In winter 2018, MAYA CRITCHFIELD completed a weeklong residency in the Blum Gallery at COA, where she sewed a fabric house!
LAURA MONTANARI and Sahra Gibson '20 presented at the “2018 Snow Walkers Rendezvous” at the Hulbert Outdoor Center in Fairlee, VT. They gave a presentation about a week-long winter camping expedition across Moosehead Lake as part of COA’s Maine Traditional Outdoor Skills Leadership Program. n
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JORDAN MOTZKIN ’10
Innovating Change by ELOISE SCHULTZ '16
hen fundraising or making a proposal to a board of trustees, there could be a million and one reasons to say no to a project. But as Jordan Motzkin '10 can tell you, there’s a lot of value in saying yes. Jordan, who runs PitchWorks in New York, works to help grow startups and to develop new corporate initiatives. Sticking to “yes,” he says, means understanding the essence of ideas and opportunity—an observation he made while a student at COA, where “you don’t hear the word ‘no’ a lot.” Instead, Jordan reflects, the school was a place where “new ideas could be tried out,” instilling in him a commitment to find opportunities that transform projects for the better. Jordan began expanding his repertoire as an innovator from his first term as a transfer student to COA. He learned the fundamentals of business entrepreneurship in Jay Friedlander’s class Launching A New Venture, and worked closely with Davis Taylor to learn about alternative economic models. He even took an Afro-Caribbean dance class, which expanded the way he thought about presenting in boardrooms and to investors. (“It was also fun,” he adds.) Jordan channeled these skills into his internship in New York City, where he worked for the special projects division of a real estate development company. “It was during the 2008 real estate meltdown, and it was a fascinating time where the crisis necessitated exploration into some seemingly wild ideas,” Jordan says. Although only an intern at the time, he was plunged into a high-level crash course in leading new projects. After graduating, Jordan returned to New York to launch the product of his senior project, Big Box Farms: an agricultural technology startup that he developed
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for an independent study on the rhetoric of climate change. Jordan remembers that when their conversation turned to religion, he had initially held back. “I don’t want to go there,” he recalls saying, “it’s too complicated.” Gray’s response? “Sounds like we should go there.” That conversation, Jordan recalls, taught him that the impulse to skip over complicated issues is actually a sign that that’s where the most revealing information can be found. He reflects that finding a breakthrough often comes down to unlocking new ways of thinking about a problem. through the Hatchery. The company sought to grow leafy greens closer to where they were consumed to create “salads that are fresher, tastier, produced with fewer resources and delivered retailers with higher margins.” In its first years, the company partnered with Phillips Electronic to get engineering samples of new LED technology to experiment with new ways of growing salad greens. “We had the first modules in North America,” says Jordan, adding, “Monsanto had the second order behind us. It was an exciting and confusing time.” Since then, he’s worked on initiatives as varied as food and agriculture to digital media, business investment, and software design. Keeping up with innovation in the business sector, Jordan says, involves “a near-constant state of borderline discomfort.” Learning to notice his own signals of personal growth, he adds, helped him to adapt faster and more effectively. For Jordan, the opportunity provided by COA to work one-on-one with professors helped him to push his own ideas further. One of these breakthroughs occurred in an meeting with professor Gray Cox
This willingness to probe complex issues serves Jordan well in his current role as an independent consultant for startups and new initiatives. Most recently, he’s landed in the museum and research industry, where he’s been engaged to create a new strategic plan for the Academy of Natural Sciences. The museum, founded in 1812, houses and cares for over 18 million specimens—making it “the coolest attic in the world”—is the oldest natural science research institution and museum in the Americas. Jordan brought in experts from outside of the museum industry to spark inspiration for educational programs, further original research, and brainstorm new ways to engage with in-person experiences beyond the exhibits—all this in an attempt to anticipate how people will want to learn new things in the future. The challenge of being a human ecologist and committing to a transdisciplinary approach, he says, “is being proactive in bringing together disparate disciplines.” Not only does innovation require constant learning, he adds, but it builds greater “resilience through self and peer education— something COA fostered in me very well.” n
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Bonnie Tai in Taipei, Taiwan.
In August, JOHN ANDERSON, W.H. Drury Professor of Ecology/Natural History, took students Chloe Hanken and Jenna Schlener to the International Ornithological Congress in Vancouver, BC, where all three presented papers on their work on Great Duck Island. They were joined at the conference by Kate Shlepr '13, who is doing her PhD work in Florida. In February, COA Educational Studies Director BONNIE TAI gave a talk on Culturally Competent Educational Leadership at the National Taipei University of Education in Taipei, Taiwan. LYNN BOULGER, Dean of Institutional Advancement, though busier than a one-armed paper hanger, managed to trek with her husband through Patagonia in December. They backpacked the 8-day O Circuit in Torres del Paine, a trek recommended to them by Jay Friedlander. They presented on their experience at the Pacific Hall in Tremont, ME. She also has started writing again and has had three poems published recently, one in Bateau and two in 45th Parallel. DIANNE CLENDANIEL returned to COA to join the student life team as International Student Services Coordinator, working with more than 80 students from 50 different nations. Reconnecting to the campus community has been fun and inspiring.
KEN CLINE, David Rockefeller Family Chair in Ecosystem Management and Protection, was deeply involved in organizing two conferences. The first was the Maine Water Security Summit, which was a forum for action on water rights and security in Maine. This conference highlighted several tribal voices from around the US and provided a forum to explore native and local sovereignty with regard to water. With COA faculty Chris Petersen and Sarah Hall, Ken also worked to organize the annual Acadia Science Symposium. In partnership with Acadia National Park, UMO, and Schoodic Institute, this forum brought researchers, managers, COA students, policymakers, and others together on COAâ€™s campus for a day of presentations and learning about science in Acadia. In July, Ken gave a talk entitled, Does Giving Nature Legal Personhood Help Integrate Humans and Nature? at the Society for Human Ecology XXIII Conference in Lisbon, Portugal. KOURTNEY COLLUM, Partridge Chair in Food and Sustainable Agriculture Systems, and her husband, Patrick Lyons, welcomed their son Jack Grizzly Collum Lyons to the world. Theyâ€™re thrilled to raise their little human ecologists in the COA community. Peace studies and languages professor GRAY COX was an invited speaker on the panel What Would Gandhi Say? at the World Parliament of Religions in Toronto, COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
Canada in November. His talk was on Birthing a New Civilization: Practicing Gandhian Revolutionary Love Force Today. Writing lecturer MARTHA DONOVAN’S image and text essay The Changing Light, The Changing Days—a memoir in fragments was published in The Mud Chronicles: A New England Anthology (Monadnock Writers’ Group, Peterborough, NH, 2018). During her month-long trip to India, she spent a week in Kodaikanal, a hill town in South India in the state of Tamil Nadu, located at 7,000 feet elevation on the eastern spur of the Western Ghats—where her mother spent her childhood. During her stay in Kodai, Martha did research in the archives of the Kodaikanal International School, she was a guest speaker for ninth and eleventh grade English classes at KIS, and she led a few memoir-writing workshops for students, faculty, and community members.
her dissertation, A Multiple Case Study of Secondary School Teachers’ Understanding of Learning Relationships in Virtual Schools: Implications for Teacher Identity in April 2018. She gives high marks to the institution’s cohort program, which made years of study doubly rewarding. During December, SARAH HALL, Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Chair in Earth Systems and Geosciences, presented work on a paleoclimate study of the Peruvian Andes as well as preliminary results from the Environmental STEM professional development program at the annual American Geophysical Union Meeting in Washington, D.C. Sarah and anthropology
JAY FRIEDLANDER, Sharpe-McNally Chair of Green and Socially Responsible Business, led the fourth Human Ecology Lab in Osakikamijima, Japan, with Provost Ken Hill and Abby Barrows MPhil’18. Over the summer Jay presented a paper at the Society for Human Ecology conference in Lisbon, Portugal. In addition he led a sustainable business seminar for faculty at the University of Greenland on the methods used in COA’s Sustainable Business Program. This fall, Kerri Sands '02 joined as the Sustainable Business Program Manager. In conjunction with the Fair Food Network, Jay led two Boot Camps for Sustainable Food Entrepreneurs in Boston and Michigan. Finally, Jay assisted Jordan Motzkin '10 in the design and implementation of a new strategic planning process for the oldest natural history museum in the Western Hemisphere, the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. Associate Director of Educational Studies LINDA FULLER completed a doctoral program in educational leadership at the University of Maine by defending Above: Jack Grizzly Collum Lyons. Below: Todd Little-Siebold’s travels in the Zapata Swamp National Park.
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professor Netta van Vliet were invited to participate in the Planetary History: Growth in the Anthropocene workshop at the Neubauer Collegium, University of Chicago in January. COA student Gaby Moroz '21 conducted a private well water survey with Sarah for MDI residents. Gaby and Sarah, along with a few other COA students and regional collaborators, will present their findings at the northeast Geological Society of America meeting held in Portland, ME in mid March. New faculty member REUBEN HUDSON has brought his passion for chemistry beyond the classroom in 2018 offering webinars on sustainability through the American Chemical Society and Chemical Education Exchange. Since joining the faculty in 2018, Reuben has published articles in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering and Nature Chemistry. Plant biology professor SUSAN LETCHER spent a week in Costa Rica in June 2018, conducting research on tree mortality from windstorms with a team of graduate students from a course coordinated by the Organization for Tropical Studies. She has been a coauthor on three scientific papers this year, in Ecology, Science Advances, and Nature Ecology & Evolution. She continues to serve as an editor for the journal Biotropica and joined the editorial board of Plant Ecology & Diversity in 2018. History professor TODD LITTLESIEBOLD spent the fall on sabbatical working on his book about the history of apples in Maine. Highlights of his time were visiting the USDA germplasm collection in Geneva, New York, where a gathering of top apple conservationists and USDA researchers discussed the long-term conservation of heirloom cultivars through a public/private effort. Most exciting about the visit was seeing the roughly 7,000 cultivars and species malus in the collection and wandering up and down the aisles of heavily laden trees eating apples and talking apple history with fellow fruit historians and enthusiasts. A second part of the sabbatical was spent visiting Cuba to plan a new field-based program there in the coming years. Traveling with his
co-instructor and compañera, Christa Little-Siebold and their son Pablo, Todd explored areas in Havana and the Zapata Swamp National Park. COA editor DAN MAHONEY was on a panel entitled The Art of Crafting a Chapbook from Start to Finish at the 2018 Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference in Tampa, FL. He and a trio of COA student editors, Jack Budd '19, Shir Kehila '18, and Miranda Benson '18, represented Bateau Press & COA at the AWP bookfair. In 2019, Bateau will travel to the AWP Conference in Portland, OR, with editors Budd, Gaby Gordon-Fox '22, and Danylo Shuvalov '22. While at AWP, they look forward to meeting up with former Bateau editors Kiera O’Brien '18 and Eloise Schultz '16.
2018, the first with graduate student Abby Barrows MPhil'18 on global patterns of microplastics in the world’s oceans, published in the journal Environmental Pollution. The second paper was published with Dr. Bridie McGreavy from the University of Maine and other authors from around Frenchman Bay in the book: Places of Persuasion: Studying Rhetoric in the Field. Chris also helped coordinate the
Development staff member AMANDA MOGRIDGE, her husband, Alan, and their two-year-old daughter, Eve, are growing their family! With much joy, they are expecting to welcome a new baby girl in April. Ecology and biology professor CHRIS PETERSEN co-authored two papers in
Eve, Amanda, and Alan Mogridge.
Miranda Benson ’18 reps the Bateau Press table at AWP Bookfair in Tampa, FL.
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Acadia Science Symposium held at COA in October 2018 with COA faculty Ken Cline and Sarah Hall. KERRI SANDS '02 has joined COA as the Sustainable Business Program Manager. Since graduating Kerri has worked with Coastal Enterprises, Inc., helping Maine farmers improve their business viability, and with Good Group Decisions, helping clients such as Emera Maine, the Conservation Law Foundation, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, and Maine Public on strategic planning and stakeholder input projects. She earned her MBA with a concentration in Sustainability in 2017 and is thrilled to be back on magical Mount Desert Island working with COA’s amazing students, staff, faculty, and community partners. Professor DOREEN STABINSKY coauthored a textbook on global environmental politics, with Ronnie Lipschutz, titled Environmental Politics for a Changing World: Power, Perspectives, and Practice, published by Rowman & Littlefield. She was one of the lead authors of the report “Missing Pathways to 1.5°C: the role of the land sector in ambitious climate action,” published by the Climate, Land, Ambition, and Rights Alliance, which received extensive media coverage around
the world. Doreen published a chapter on “Climate justice and human rights” in the Routledge Handbook on Climate Change and Human Rights. Doreen spent spring term in Vichy, France, and Brussels, Belgium, with her monster course pairing French immersion with study of Europe and its political institutions. She also attended the UNFCCC COP24 in Katowice, Poland, in December, with four COA students, where, among other things, she met seven COA grads over the course of the two-week meeting. SEAN TODD, Steven K. Katona Chair in Marine Science, together with colleagues from Allied Whale, where he is director, embarked on a five-year project this summer that will examine the effects of climate change on Gulf of Maine baleen whales. During his sabbatical he spent six weeks in the Southern Ocean and the Antarctic Peninsula, the second half of which was with Toby Stephenson '98, captain of the college’s R/V Osprey, working together as polar guides aboard Seabourn Quest. KAREN WALDRON, Lisa Stewart Chair in Literature and Women’s Studies, presented a paper on two nineteenthcentury American women’s novels and their “literary ecology” at the American
Literature Association’s Fall Symposium, “Sights and Sites: Vision and Place in American Literature,” held in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Entitled “Realism is an Inadequate Term,” the paper argued that traditional terms for American literary study, such as realism and naturalism, fail to address the multilayered ways that fiction communicates about complex issues that are, in essence, about people and their relations to the places in which they live. Karen will also present a paper on mysteries that take place in academic settings and feature female professors as sleuths for the annual Popular Culture Association conference in April 2019. n
Dr. Sean Todd, left, and Toby Stephenson '98. Photo credit: Toby Stephenson.
ART: DISSENT AND DIPLOMACY Saturday, July 27–Saturday, August 3 The 2019 Champlain Institute explores the ways art challenges, promotes, undermines, and advances political, social, religious, and cultural norms. Speakers include Christina Baker Kline, Imbolo Mbue, Ted Widmer, Julián Zugazagoitia, Sheila Canby, Catherine Collins, Julian Bell, Frances Stead Sellers, and Ashley James. Additional speakers to be announced this spring. Please visit coa.edu/champlaininstitute for more details as they are announced. The Champlain Institute is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Current Champlain Society members can register May 1. General registration opens June 1.
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NEW TRUSTEES CLAY CORBUS
Corbus serves as Senior Vice President of Strategic Development for Clean Energy Fuels Corp. In this role, Corbus helps develop strategic growth opportunities, acquisitions and financing strategies for the company. Previously he was Co-CEO of WR Hambrecht & Co, the firm that managed Clean Energy Fuel’s 2007 IPO. Prior to that, he worked with Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette from 1989. Corbus graduated from Dartmouth College with an AB in Government and has an MBA in Finance from Columbia University. He serves as a director with three companies, including Alaska Energy and Resources Co., Overstock.com, and Goodwill of San Francisco.
DIANA KOMBE ‘06
Diana Kombe graduated from College of the Atlantic in 2006 with a BA in human ecology and holds a Master’s degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She currently works as a business consultant for Customer Insights at ZS Associates in Boston, MA. She previously served as an associate consultant and analyst for Quintiles-IMS in Cambridge, MA. In addition to her skills as a business manager, Kombe has extensive experience working with healthcare organizations and conducting biomedical research.
MICHAEL BOLAND ‘94
Michael Boland graduated from College of the Atlantic in 1994 with a BA in human ecology. His focus on tropical biology led him to spend many winters in Latin America, including his undergraduate thesis on the distribution of the pink river dolphin in the Amazon Basin.
Boland is a well-known restaurateur and business owner in Bar Harbor and Maine. His first restaurant, Rupununi—named after one of the rivers in South America where he studied—anchored downtown Bar Harbor for 20 years, and became one of the first restaurants in the area focused on farm-to-table and sustainable seafood. He is the proprietor of Havana in Bar Harbor and more recently a partner in the Islesford Dock Restaurant on Islesford. Additionally, Boland has been involved in the restoration of the historic art deco Criterion Theatre in downtown Bar Harbor.
[parent trustee, a oneyear term eligible for re-election annually] Cynthia Baker is a Senior Development Director for Duke University. She runs Duke Financial Partners—a NYC-based network of 400 senior finance industry professionals—and is a founding leader of Duke WIN (Women’s Impact Network). Baker has held various strategic partnerships/development positions with the American Legacy Foundation, the non-profit FasterCures, and Fleishman-Hillard. During and after college she worked for Senator George Mitchell (DME) on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Baker lives in Washington, DC with her husband, Jon Zeitler, and sons Adam (College of the Atlantic), Jeremy (Lafayette College) and Thomas (Woodrow Wilson High School). The family has a summer home in Southwest Harbor. She serves as Vice Chair of the Board of The Avalon Theatre, a historic, non-profit cinema and art house in Washington. She earned a BA and MA in History and Women’s Studies from Duke University.
Sarah Currie-Halpern is cofounder of the waste reduction and diversion consulting firm Think Zero LLC, which helps
corporations, building owners and institutions with waste reduction and diversion planning and implementation. Before founding Think Zero, Currie-Halpern ran solid waste and zero waste programs for the Mayor’s Office of New York City. Chair of the Manhattan Solid Waste Advisory Board and a Board Member of Earth Day New York and the R Baby Foundation, Currie-Halpern is deeply committed to environmental and social advocacy. A vegetarian since childhood and nature lover, she has a lifelong passion for environmental preservation, waste reduction and diversion, community service, yoga & meditation, habitat conservation, traveling and the arts. She resides in Tribeca and Seal Harbor with her husband, two young daughters, and their two dogs and one fish.
LAURA MCGIFFIRT SLOVER
Laura McGiffert Slover is the President and Chief Executive Officer of CenterPoint Education Solutions, a nonprofit organization working to optimize educators’ experiences and pave the way to greater effectiveness and increased student achievement. She began her career as a high school English teacher in Colorado before spending 16 years at Achieve, a bipartisan education reform organization. As Senior Vice President, she led Achieve’s efforts to support the development of the Common Core State Standards and helped launch and subsequently led the Partnership for Assessment of College and Careers. Slover earned her bachelor’s degree in English and American literature from Harvard, her master’s degree in education curriculum and instruction from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and her master’s degree in education policy from Georgetown. She is a member of the national advisory board for the National Outdoor Leadership School and she is an Aspen Pahara education fellow. n
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FROM THE ARCHIVES
e have built habits here and habits have built us.
Every single day, as I enter the College through the south entrance on my bike, I let go of the handlebars, biking the whole paved road from the beginning of the parking lot to the bike shed without touching them again. My body is attuned to the sway of the road, it knows exactly when to start moving to the left or to the right to catch the proper slight turn without losing its balance. There’s freedom in that moment when I feel safe enough to let go of the handle bars; I cut through the air, my legs pedal with ease, my whole body feels in perfect alignment with my bike, the road and, by obvious extension, the Universe. This weird habit of mine took constant trial and error. I had what felt like infinite chances to practice over and over again, day after day, moving through this road on my way to school, throughout these last four years. I have stumbled, I have lost my equilibrium and I have fallen. I have hit the hard ground and let it hold me. I’ve had people run to me and help me, and of course, I’ve had people laugh at me too. I have stood up when I still could, and when I couldn’t, I trusted someone would be there to help me stand up again. I continue to ride because I trust that learning means taking risks, even though learning, at least in this case, is always better when you keep your skull protected. My persistence in learning this path on my bike allowed me to reach the point in which freeing my hands feels instinctive.
GAIA LOPEZ BARRERA’S STUDENT PERSPECTIVE SPEECH FROM GRADUATION 2018 There are many sensations we have grown accustomed to over the past four years, some barely perceived, some taken for granted. These moments become memorylike, and carry with them a certain unreality. Feel the roughness of the red bricks on your bare feet, the sunlight as it passes through young leaves; the shadows of leaves moving playfully on the ancient ocean breeze, the breeze blending with the sweet aroma of lilacs... The lingering smell of TAB on your winter coat after you waited in the long line caused by the communal excitement over mac and cheese and savory tofu for dinner; the sounds of people’s voices all mixing with each other, the brightening laughter of your best friend in the midst of this chaos; the high-pitched ring of the bell when we fall silent and listen. The way in which the golden afternoon sunlight comes in through those big library windows, and the light seems to suspend time, everyone and everything is glowing on their own, and you feel bewildered by the prospect of finding light in unexpected people. When everything is frozen and the mystical sea smoke rises, when everything is at its most silent, when the snow starts falling and it feels like magic, and magic, you learn, has the capacity to accumulate seven inches or more in one night; and you hear the sound of icicles dripping in BT’s courtyard when they finally start melting... The vibrant orange tones of the sunset sky match the fiery explosion of red leaves on Bar Island and it feels as if you’re floating above the ocean as you sit down at the hidden bench between the pier and Turrets.
THE BLACK FLY SOCIETY is for everyone! The Black Fly Society was established to make donating to COA’s Annual Fund easier and greener. Anyone can join this swarm of sustaining donors by setting up a paperless, monthly gift online. Follow the instructions at coa.edu/blackflysociety
The feeling of the last step taken from the pier, the momentary suspension of your body in midair, its sudden submersion in the freezing cold ocean, and hold a breath you feel could be your last until you resurface and breathe in a scream and find out that you still can breathe, and you’re still there, and the world and everyone you’ve known, and everything you’ve lived is there with you, floating. Until I started writing this speech I had not realized all of the seemingly little mundane things I will be saying goodbye to. I had not realized I will be saying goodbye to my beloved biking routine, to the precious moment in the south entrance of this campus when I let go of the handlebars. This small moment in my everyday has become, as strange as it may sound, an important part of me. And I know soon it will not be anymore. It is easy to forget over roads biked day after day, over places known intimately in their everydayness, the uncertainties each moment gives us. It is a constant gift: the unexpected, the uncertain, the unknown, the future. We know the future happens, moment after moment after moment, and it may swiftly change everything we know or the change may be so slow that we barely even notice when it happens. And, sometimes, it is in the seemingly little mundane every day efforts, in noticing sensations that we have grown accustomed to or taken for granted, in the attentiveness to the habits we build and in the ways in which those habits build us, that we learn to reckon with the transient complexity of what it means to be alive with everything else on Earth. n
Questions? 207.801.5625 If you want to give by mail: COA Annual Fund 105 Eden Street Bar Harbor, ME 04609 (Please make checks out to College of the Atlantic)
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COA, the magazine, is a thematic, kaleidoscopic portrait of the COA community published every spring.