THE COLLEGE OF THE ATL ANTIC MAG A ZINE Volume 10 . Number 1 . Spring 2014
Shan Burson '83 took this photo of the Grand Teton while skiing near his home. Shan works as an acoustic ecologist for both the Grand Teton and Yosemite national parks. The Teton Range can be quite silent, especially in winter; at other times cascading rivers, blowing wind, and the bugling of elk mingle with noise from aircraft flying overhead, and motorcycles and other vehicles on park roads.
COA The College of the Atlantic Magazine
Field Ecology Letter from the President
News from Campus
Donor Profile • Jay Pierrepont
FIELD ECOLOGY Introduction • John Anderson
Soundscape Ecology • Shan Burson '83
The Right Whale • Scott Kraus '77
Field Ecology Journeys • Designed by Khristian Mendez '15
Paleoecology • Jacquelyn Gill '05
Policy, Politics, and Protection • Erica Maltz '08
In the Mixtecan Field • Greg Rainoff '81
Applied Ecology • Tanner Harris '06
Students in the Field
Apples • Hannah Hirsch '16
Kalokagathia • Jayson Bowles '17
Poetry • Sarah Haughn '08
Alumni and Community Notes
Toward a Literary Ecology • Karen Waldron
Ecology and Experience • Rich Bordon
This Summer at COA
COA The College of the Atlantic Magazine Volume 10 · Number 1 · Spring 2014
Editor Editorial Guidance Editorial Consultant Alumni Consultants
Donna Gold Heather Albert-Knopp '99 John Anderson Rich Borden Lynn Boulger Dru Colbert Ken Cline Michael Griffith '09 Jennifer Hughes Katharine Macko Bill Carpenter Jill Barlow-Kelley Dianne Clendaniel
Rebecca Hope Woods
COA Administration President Academic Dean Associate Academic Deans Administrative Dean Dean of Admission Dean of Institutional Advancement Dean of Student Life
Darron Collins '92 Kenneth Hill Catherine Clinger Stephen Ressel Sean Todd Karen Waldron Andrew Griffiths Heather Albert-Knopp '99 Lynn Boulger Sarah Luke
COA Board of Trustees Becky Ann Baker Dylan Baker Timothy R. Bass Ronald E. Beard Leslie C. Brewer Alyne Cistone Nikhit D'Sa '06 Amy Yeager Geier George B.E. Hambleton Elizabeth D. Hodder Philip B. Kunhardt III '77 Anthony Mazlish Suzanne Folds McCullagh
Sarah A. McDaniel '93 Linda McGillicuddy Jay McNally '84 Stephen G. Milliken Philip S.J. Moriarty Phyllis Anina Moriarty Hamilton Robinson, Jr. Walter Robinson Nadia Rosenthal Marthann Lauver Samek Henry L.P. Schmelzer William N. Thorndike, Jr. Cody van Heerden, MPhil '15
Life Trustees William G. Foulke, Jr. Samuel M. Hamill, Jr. John N. Kelly Susan Storey Lyman William V.P. Newlin John Reeves Henry D. Sharpe, Jr.
Trustee Emeriti David Hackett Fischer Sherry F. Huber Daniel Pierce Helen Porter Cathy L. Ramsdell '78 John Wilmerding
The faculty, students, trustees, staff, and alumni of College of the Atlantic envision a world where people value creativity, intellectual achievement, 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.
COA is published biannually for the College of the Atlantic community. Please send ideas, letters, and submissions (short stories, poetry, and revisits to human ecology essays) to: COA Magazine, College of the Atlantic 105 Eden Street, Bar Harbor, ME 04609 email@example.com
This year marks the sesquicentennial of the publication of The Maine Woods, written by that astute and poetic field observer, Henry David Thoreau. To celebrate, I reread Ktaadn, the story of Thoreau’s initial Maine journey. I happened to be in Boston, so I also stopped by the Harvard Museum of Natural History’s homage to this anniversary, “Thoreau’s Maine Woods.” It is a glorious exhibit, featuring large-format images of Maine’s mountains, trees, and streams by photographer Scot Miller. But I felt homesick; displaced—I longed for those woods, for the smell of moss after a rain, the miracle of trillium, the joy of seeing a moose spray droplets of water in the sun as it shakes its head after a long lake drink. The museum images, however exquisite, are remote from the direct experience of the place; they hold little of Thoreau’s trembling encounters with nature as “something savage and awful, though beautiful. … that Earth of which we have heard, made out of Chaos and Old Night.” The founders of College of the Atlantic—inspired by Thoreau, among others— created a school in which students are immersed in firsthand experience. At COA students connect directly to their subjects—to learn for themselves, much as Thoreau did, aided by faculty catalysts—whether studying biology, history, literature, art, or land use planning. This kind of learning hones self-reliance and keen observation, qualities crucial to thriving in our unpredictable world. The work we do—any of us, but especially the work this generation graduates into—asks us to span multiple skills. Take Erica Maltz ’08, fisheries program manager for the Burns Paiute tribe in Oregon (see page 26). Her duties range from wading rivers in search of trout to negotiating with state governments. Beyond COA’s course-required fieldwork, Erica credits her interdisciplinary preparation to the rigors of class presentation, a governance structure using student facilitators, and the college’s close faculty connections. But Erica’s interdisciplinarity extends further. Her first appearance in the magazine came in Spring 2008 with the publication of an excerpt from her senior project—a novel set on the Puerto Rican island of Culebra. Thoreau’s close observations of the natural world were unusual in his time; I fear they remain so today. And what a loss that is! An education in the field leads to one of life’s most essential skills: the ability to be present, to rely on oneself, to mobilize one’s senses, one’s intelligence, one’s entire being to discover the core of the encounter, as well as the crucial linkages—and so to make a difference in the world.
Donna Gold, COA editor
Front cover: Mot-mot. John Anderson, faculty member in biology, took this image while in the dry forests of the Nicoya Peninsula on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica with fellow biology faculty member Steve Ressel and fourteen students. The journey completed the class Costa Rican Natural History and Conservation, one of COA's intensive field-based courses. The group spent the March break in Costa Rica's forests and fields, observing the ecology and biotic diversity of the region, creating detailed field journals, and discussing the implications of this diversity on concepts of conservation biology. Back cover: Island Landscape (detail) by Jennifer Judd-McGee (′92),* 24"x26," original papercutting, 2013. An internationally recognized mixed media artist and illustrator from Northeast Harbor, Maine, Jennifer Judd-McGee receives inspiration from her coastal surroundings, and the patterns and forms she finds in nature. Her work is on display this summer, Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., July 5 to September 12 in the Ethel H. Blum Gallery. *COA indicates non-degree alumni by a parenthesis around their year.
COA President Darron Collins ’92 bands a herring gull chick. Photo by John Anderson, taken on Darron’s very first trip to Great Duck Island.
From the President My first encounter with the field was via a Walt Disney production of Farley Mowat's Never Cry Wolf. In that movie a field biologist gets sent to Alaska to determine why caribou are disappearing. For me, at age thirteen, the take-aways were two: 1) there is a job called field biologist that pays people to be out in the woods applying science toward some greater cause; 2) wolves are the most interesting animals imaginable. Fast-forward five years and I'm now sitting in John Anderson's Functional Vertebrate Anatomy class, winter term of my first year at COA. I'm up to my elbows in canine skulls—fox and coyote, as I couldn't get my hands on wolves. I'd come to COA partially because of wolves but largely because of the allure of this place called the field. And I'll never forget the afternoon, the one with skulls, when John called me into his musty, disheveled office: "Pack your bags—you're heading to the field to study wolves." Only at COA … That summer I found myself in the remote black spruce bogs of Canada's Northwest Territories working on a study of wolves and bison as a field assistant. It wasn't the religious experience I'd expected, though the bugs made us scream for God. While I spent more time collecting bison feces than streaking through the wilderness with my wolfy brethren (you'll need to watch Never Cry Wolf for the reference), that summer I unconsciously began to deconstruct the notion of the field and learned the craft of precise, patient, contemplative observation. In a world of 140-character Twitter blasts and painfully short attention spans, such observation is today undervalued and unpopular. But I would argue it is the cornerstone of human ecology and one of the most
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important skills a student could possibly acquire in preparation for a life committed to serving humanity and the planet. It is a craft obviously critical to the natural sciences, but equally central to the social sciences, writing, the humanities, and art. At COA, we cultivate this kind of observation better than at any other college in the country. This will become clear in the pages that follow. Coming to know the world through such observation—what we've organized in this edition of COA under the title Field Ecology—cannot be replicated through the reading of text in analog or digital form; it must be practiced. Through such praxis—where the instruments are as primal as our sensory organs and a pencil—subject and object do a transformative dance that is both utilitarian and aesthetic. I've witnessed this recently as a visitor to Great Duck Island, watching students observe eiders, guillemots, and ravens from the lighthouse tower. It's extraordinary. Stories herein describe this process—with birds, with whales, with apples, with lichen. In such cases the field snaps into focus quickly and perfectly. But readers should stretch and question the precision of the term. What is the complete set of these fields we operate in as human ecologists? I'll leave you to find your own answers and expect the storytelling that follows will be of great service.
Darron Collins '92, PhD
AFTER 8 MONTHS, TURRETS HAS EMERGED FROM SCAFFOLDING, POLISHED AND RESTORED.
FOUR SCIENTISTS SPEND 34 DAYS ON MOUNT DESERT ROCK. HAVE ELECTRICITY, WILL TRAVEL.
PHOTO BY TANYA LUBANSKY
Juice and soda machines are no longer on campus at the urging of students. Instead, healthier, local beverages are being offered.
The Brooke Astor One-Year Fund for New York City Education offers $134,000 for COA student teachers to enhance environmental science education and college preparation for socio-economically disadvantaged students at the NY Harbor School.
Thanks to the work of Alex Pine '14, Darling's Ford of Bangor gives COA a new Ford Focus electric car.
Surya Karki '16, co-founder of the farm-funded, community-centered Maya Universe Academy schools in Nepal, becomes one of seven finalists in the Unilever Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneurs program, with an invitation to meet Prince Charles in London.
Princeton Review names COA one of the nation's 75 "best value colleges" for the fourth time in five years. Students create the annual 13-Hour Play Production (Half) Marathon, a hilarious, bizarre extravaganza written, directed, cast, and performed in, yes, 13 hours.
POLLY MCADAM '14 CONTINUES EXPERIMENTING WITH USING ALDER AS COMPOST.
EARTH DAY BRINGS OUT THE COA COMMUNITY.
COA students wielding shields and swords march on each other during the Greek Hoplite Snow Battle, organized by faculty member Gray Cox. Nick Urban '15 presents his net-zero bathroom design to the Energy Academy in Samsø, Denmark. A working model, with solar hot water, composting toilet, and more, is on exhibit on the Danish island known for its energy independence.
SENIORS PRESENT THEIR PROJECTS TO PARENTS, TRUSTEES, AND VISITORS.
Kyle Shank '14 and Katie O'Brien '15— coached by faculty member Jamie McKown—debate nuclear power with the Japanese National Debate Team.
For the sixth year in a row, COA has a place on Princeton Review's Green Honor Roll, one of only two colleges to remain on the list every year.
On one momentous day, COA raises $84,295 from 729 individuals, meeting an anonymous matching grant during its annual 24-hour fundraising challenge.
Studio Four has a new, professional-grade space dedicated to intaglio printmaking thanks to art faculty member and master printer Catherine Clinger. Look for a small number of limited editions in 2015.
COA parent trustees Becky and Dylan Baker screen Dylan's new film, 23 Blast, as a fundraiser toward a chair in the performing arts. The film, shown in Gates, is based on a true story about a football player who loses his sight.
Mary Harney '96, back from Ireland with a master's in Irish studies, is picked for commencement speaker on June 7.
Students raise $789 for Share the Harvest and other food projects at a locavore popup meal for trustees and others.
The senior project production of Othello, directed by Benjamin Moniz '14, crosscasts Othello as a woman, played by Sophie Cameron '17. The play is staged on the floor and balcony of Gates; the audience sits on stage—creating a space that echoes the Globe Theater in London.
FIND MORE STORIES AND PHOTOS AT NEWSWORTHY.COA.EDU
Anna Demeo Takes New Role Anna Demeo came to COA teaching hands-on classes in renewable energy, guiding students in siting and installing solar energy panels and a wind turbine. Her seamless connections between education and sustainability helped to inspire COA's current energy plan: using classes and project-based learning to develop the interdisciplinary skills needed to promote responsible energy use. Following the June retirement of Craig Ten Broeck as the David F. Hales Sustainability Coordinator (see page 47), Anna becomes director of energy education and management.
JOIN THE BLACK FLY SOCIETY
"I can't imagine anyone better to carry on Craig's efforts," says Darron Collins '92, COA president. "Anna has already contributed extensively both to the college's sustainability efforts and to our community outreach, especially in the realm of renewable energy. She is a brilliant engineering investigator and a clear communicator. I am thrilled that she has agreed to expand her work at COA." Formerly an electrical engineer focused on system design, Anna holds a BS in electrical engineering from the University of Colorado, and both an MS in marine bio-resources and a PhD in engineering in the natural sciences from the University of Maine. Her thesis offered an interdisciplinary approach to sustainable energy— combining community outreach, economics, education, and technology. In her new role, Anna expects to continue her project-based renewable energy courses on campus and at the college's farms. Says Anna, "I have great respect for COA's educational philosophy, which uniquely enables students, faculty, and staff to take an active role in the sustainability of their community. I am very much looking forward to building on the valuable work that Craig has done over the years."
Funds Boost Sustainability of Farms COA's farms have become increasingly integral to the curriculum. Two recent grants to the Peggy Rockefeller Farms will go even further toward enhancing sustainability and integrating the farms with the campus and the wider world. David Rockefeller—who donated the two farm properties to COA in 2010—has given $589,300 to fund a range of projects, among them experimenting with alternative crops such as garbanzo beans and dryland rice, establishing a rotational grazing system for sheep and possibly cattle, and this spring's planting of the first fifty trees of a planned rare heirloom apple and pear orchard. An additional project—freeing the farms from dependence on fossil fuels and making them a regional showcase—will be assisted by a $200,000 grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation. COA is currently examining the best options for maximizing energy efficiency and outreach. Anna Demeo has been instrumental in this work. "The grant allows COA to go beyond making simple, 'off-the-shelf' improvements to the farm by providing the space, expertise, and equipment that will enable students to actively participate in the design and development of sustainable solutions for the farm and campus," she says. Adds Darron Collins '92, "The Peggy Rockefeller Farms, like their sister farm out at Beech Hill, are our laboratories for experimenting with and understanding the human ecology of food. Ultimately, these grants mean more opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to work out at the farms, more locally produced food for campus, and more engagement with the wider farming community in Maine." COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
Honoring COA's mascot, The Black Fly Society was established to make donating to COA's annual fund easier and greener. We hope you'll join this swarm of sustaining donors by setting up a monthly online gift! It's the paperless way to give to COA. Go to coa.edu/donatenow and under "gift frequency" select "monthly." If you want to give to the annual fund by mail: COA Annual Fund 105 Eden Street Bar Harbor, ME 04609 Please make your check payable to COA. Questions? Call 207-801-5622. 5
#4756 in the West Indies. Image courtesy of
A. Kennedy, BREACH/NOAA.
Whale Journeys North Atlantic humpback whales winter in either the West Indies or Cape Verde—across 4,000 miles of ocean. But one whale, known as #4756, seems to have done both, according to Allied Whale senior scientist Peter Stevick '81. Looking at photos of whale tails, he saw #4756 in the Cape Verde Islands in 2009 and 2011. But in 2012, #4756 was photographed in the French West Indies, and then it was pictured back near Cape Verde in 2013. It's the first time a whale has been known to move from one North Atlantic wintering grounds to the other—and back.
SHE Comes to COA The Society for Human Ecology— SHE—holds its twentieth conference from October 22 to 25. This one will be at COA. The theme is Ecological Responsibility and Human Imagination: Saving the Past – Shaping the Future. Speakers include Keya Chatterjee of the World Wildlife Fund on "Optimism in the Face of Climate Change," Thomas Dietz of Michigan State University on "Rethinking Sustainability: The View from Human Ecology," Robert Dyball of Australian National University on "Looking Forward: Some Future Pathways for the Society," artist Louisa McCall on "Creating a Different Future: Comingling Artful and Scientific Ways of Knowing," Carl Steinitz of Harvard University on "After the Tsunami and the Nuclear Disaster, What Should Be The Future for Soma City, Japan?" and David Sloan Wilson of Binghamton University on "The New Social Darwinism." Find details at societyforhumanecology.org. 6
Mars Family Funds Mount Desert Rock Restoration Located twenty-five miles offshore, the Edward McC. Blair Marine Research Station on Mount Desert Rock is one of COA's iconic locations—a platform for field research on whales, seals, and birds by COA students and faculty, as well as other researchers. But Hurricane Bill in 2009 and Superstorm Nemo in 2013 severely impacted MDR, making this lonely outpost—the farthest offshore island along the eastern coast of the United States—more difficult to use. Come summer the station will be repaired, thanks to a $425,000 grant from Jacomien and Forrest E. Mars. Says faculty member Sean Todd, who supervises students on MDR, "Jacomien and Forrest's gift is just remarkable and wonderfully generous." The renovations will enable the college to offer an extended season for an even greater number of researchers (see page 33). "Mount Desert Rock," continues Sean, "is a historic landmark that had a lightkeeper before the Civil War. Mariners of all stripes have a romantic attachment to this lonely, haunting, beautiful outpost in the Gulf of Maine. We are so grateful to the Mars family." Forrest is the grandson of Franklin Mars, founder of the Mars Company, creator of Mars and Milky Way bars, among other foods. Sean first met members of the family while working as a naturalist and researcher in the Antarctic, where the family was also traveling. The repairs will secure the ramp allowing access to MDR, rebuild the boathouse and the generator shed, and renovate the lightkeeper's house, paying attention to state historic codes but using state-of-the-art methods to enable the structures to better weather future storms. COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
Watson to Take Anouk de Fontaine '14 Dancing Around the Globe Anouk de Fontaine '14 will dance around the world upon graduation, having received a $28,000 fellowship from the Watson Foundation to pursue her dream project, "Dance as Medicine: Looking at Dance as a Tool for Community Healing." A dancer since age three, Anouk spent years concerned that dance was lovely, but not useful. Then she realized how much dance helped her through her own troubles. "Dance can heal," she says, "It has helped me heal. My lifelong quest is to extend that potential of dance to other people." To explore the ways that people use dance to process and recover from trauma, Anouk will connect to contemporary dancers in South Africa, ritual dancers in Swaziland,
capoeira practitioners in Brazil, Tibetans in India, and Butoh performers in Japan. She seeks, she says, to "understand the specific movements, rhythms, and vocabularies that create kinesthetic healing," with the hope of using this knowledge to "begin to shape a dance form that can be a tool for recovery." The Watson fellowships—this year going to forty-four people from a select group of colleges throughout the nation—are considered investments in the fellows even more than in their projects. COA has had thirty-three fellows in the past thirty years. These fellows have gone on to head major non-profits, become international negotiators—and lead colleges (that would be Darron Collins '92).
COA's Peace Project Grantees to Create Urban Gardens Two student groups, both composed of Davis United World College Scholars, have received Davis Peace Project funding to address issues of food insecurity this summer. Boglárka Ivanegová '14 of Slovakia, Ana Puhac '14 of Croatia, and Zuri de Souza '14 of India will be in Bratislava, Slovakia, constructing and designing a sustainable, sheltered rooftop garden. Their project, Rooftop of Eden, will use the open-source microcontroller Arduino platform to regulate moisture and light in the garden's hydroponic system. The students, who at COA are working in food activism, ecological architecture, and urban sustainability, hope to transform a "closed urban gardening project into an open platform for dialogue and community interaction" and reach out to minority groups, especially African migrants and the Roma community.
and affordable transportation. By encouraging young people to participate, Maria and Maytik hope to foster a continuation of traditional agricultural knowledge. Already they have a site for the garden, and the commitment of a local organization to continue the work after they leave. The Projects for Peace awards were created by the late philanthropist Kathryn W. Davis in 2007 to
commemorate her hundredth birthday. She committed $1 million each year until her death in 2013 to fund one hundred student-created projects with $10,000 each. The Davis family will continue the funding this summer. Below: artist rendering of the Rooftop of Eden garden the three COA students plan to make. The building was once the first supermarket in Bratislava, Slovakia. Rendering by Veronika Kovacsova.
Meanwhile, Colombian students Maytik Avirama '15 and Maria Escalante '15 will head to Bogotá to create an urban garden in the city's San Cristóbol district, offering rural families displaced by ongoing civil conflicts, narcotics traffic, and free trade agreements a means of growing much-needed produce. The district suffers from poverty and food insecurity, and lacks such basic services as water, electricity, COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
Reading the Deep Landscape Sarah Hall, COA's newest faculty member Spend an hour with Sarah Hall, College of the Atlantic's newest faculty member and the first holder of the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Chair in Earth Systems and GeoSciences, and the world won't look the same again. Time hurtles from the few seconds an earthquake takes to alter the landscape, to the 420 million-year story of Mount Desert Island's rocks. For Sarah, soil and stone are more than surfaces to be trod upon; they are the pages of a history book that reveal Earth's ancient processes, as well as those that continue to shape it today. Similarly, when Sarah thinks about fossil fuels, her mind spans back to the Paleozoic era when the organisms that have been sequestering carbon for 300 million years were alive and storing energy from the sun. These eons of stored energy being unleashed all at once in our current 8
fossil fuel era is what is causing the planet to warm.
us to better understand the past and plan for the future.
"I can't imagine going through life without thinking about rocks and earth processes," says Sarah. "I feel unsatiated seeing various landscapes and not knowing what processes and over what timescales such diversity and beauty were formed."
Following a geology degree at Hamilton College, a year working at an environmental consulting firm, and a year with AmeriCorps, Sarah studied for a PhD in earth and planetary sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Two years ago, when COA posted a two-year earth science position, Sarah was an assistant professor at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, longing to teach at a smaller school with a strong community and a mission that compelled her—one that would also be fully encouraging of field-based education. Sarah applied for and received COA's initial position, and this year applied for the permanent post. "I've been excited ever since," she says. "COA is my dream job in so many ways."
Sarah grew up camping, hiking, and observing the stars around Binghamton, New York. Stars led her to rocks, a connection that reminds us that our earth is a product of the cosmos. "The only way we know anything about the earth's history— beyond about a million years ago—is through the rocks," she says. "That's all we have." Knowing this history is more than just interesting, insists Sarah. Knowing the interactions of the various processes involved—water, soil, weather, human land use—helps
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Students in Sarah's introductory Geology of MDI class go into the field every week; those in her Critical Zone II course go nearly every class. Fieldwork, says Sarah, "is key to learning geology, and a great benefit to studying it at COA. There's the park, COA's MDI properties, its islands, and the boats." At the summit of Cadillac Mountain, Sarah shows students the landscape perspective, the U-shaped valleys carved by repeated glacial advances, most recently only 20,000 years ago. "You are standing on rocks explosively intruded and erupted. Through millions of years of erosion, the granite that cooled and crystallized in a deep magma chamber has been brought to the surface." She also notes the closer view. Though all the rock is granite, the fractures, dikes, minerals, and even lichen show variations that give the rocks character. The glaciers that carved the landscape of MDI have long since retreated. To see contemporary examples of some of the processes that shaped our island, Sarah takes students to the Cordillera Blanca region of northern Peru where they can see earth-shaping processes such as active tectonics and modern glaciation. On a post-class journey, students in her South American Earth Systems class can literally touch an active fault at the edge of the Andes Mountains, then travel through thirty-six one-lane tunnels to a hydroelectric dam. The melting glaciers, water needs due to increased agriculture, water quality issues from mining, and quantity issues from the hydroelectric dam, make the region ripe for controversy, says Sarah. "It's all interconnected. Quite human ecological." â€”Donna Gold Left: Sarah Hall talks to students in the Ulta Valley of the Cordillera Blanca about the modern glaciers, moraines, and bogs behind her. Above right: Josh Noddin '16 and Becca Harvey '16 describe the granite at Seawall Beach for Sarah's Geology of MDI class. Right: Ben Moniz '14 contemplates Lago 69, a lake at the toe of a melting Andean glacier some 15,000 feet above sea level in the Cordillera Blanca. Students from the South American Earth Systems class camped and hiked in this glacial valley to study the modern glacial landscape. Photos courtesy of Sarah Hall. COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
Watson Report It is a Waste to Call it Waste: Exploring the culture of compost Story and photos by Lisa Bjerke '13
Lisa Bjerke '13 is spending this year in waste piles, dumps, and composting bins on a Watson Fellowship to Germany, India, China, and Japan, seeking to understand how she can "'compost' human attitudes as well as organic 'waste' to become resources for sustainability." Here she writes about a day in her life in India.
I step out of the apartment building in Kolkata* to investigate today's "waste," heading behind the building for my daily inspection of the little trash bin that serves as a communal waste management system for at least ten families. It is empty! The broken glass I placed in an old cement bag yesterday, the stacks of cardboard and trash from other apartments that were there last night, have been picked through and removed—all before six a.m.—by individuals from Kolkata's complex and effective informal recycling sector. These informal recyclers—those who sort the waste for valuable materials; those who buy the paper, plastic, metal, and glass; and the transporters and middlemen—play one of the most significant roles in Kolkata's solid waste management. Still, they are often called ragpickers or wastepickers, and their work generally goes unnoticed. I walk out onto the street. Two women are carrying large bags into which they put the recyclable contents from the neighborhood's discarded materials. They sort and collect, then carry what they can to the local recycling shop. By just placing it outside, my cardboard and glass have entered the Kolkata recycling stream. But the dedicated
workers of this informal recycling sector are not seeking to be good environmental stewards: waste is their livelihood. What I consider waste they see as income. Near the women, dogs and birds are engaging in their own urban recycling, opening plastic bags to get at the leftover food and other organic material for which there is no market. But the small plastic bags filled with rotting flowers discarded from the daily pujas, or home worship ceremonies, are not seen as food by the animals, so I open some of the bags, freeing the holy flowers to enter Mother Earth's own recycling process: composting. The pile on my street is a good sample of Kolkata's visible waste. It is mainly organic, "wet" waste, wrapped and mixed with the "dry" waste (plastics, glass, packaging, and other unwanted items). Much of the dry waste has recycling value, but needs to be sorted by hand. As I watch the sorters, I am thankful for those who turn trash into resources, and overwhelmed by my questions: what makes this system function, what parameters are hidden within the network of solid waste management, what is it like to be an informal recycler?
The family of one young man I have befriended runs a recycling shop but does not want to take me there. His business—like the majority of recycling businesses—is considered a nuisance, and so it's under constant threat of being removed by the police and local government. The businesses pay the police to avoid being harassed; a visit by an outsider could attract unwanted attention. To solve the problem of waste, the city doesn't engage with the informal sorting/recycling sector, but instead hires street sweepers. I accost the sweeper who works down the road from my house. He fills his cart with what has been refused by the recyclers after being discarded from residences during the last twentyfour hours. His home is a shed on the street corner; he stores his cart in the nearby market and is paid by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation to take its contents to that ward's dumpsite, next to the market. Daily, a municipal truck picks up the pile and drives it to Dhapa, a part of Kolkata that is both a landfill and a residential area for those who make their living from the waste. Dhapa is situated within the East Kolkata Wetlands, designated a "wetland of international importance" under the 1971 international
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wetland treaty, known as the Ramsar Convention. As I walk through my middle-class neighborhood, I pass the vegetable market and think about how local the food is. Forty percent of the vegetables sold in Kolkata are grown by farmers around the wetlands and Dhapa dumpsite, using the organic waste and sewage as fertilizer.
at COA, the workers and workstudy students at Buildings and Grounds relish turning organic fiber into a huge bonfire. Throughout the world, there seems to be something about the heat and mesmerizing flames that lead us to prefer the fire's carbon-related implications to recycling these fibers into soil.
Heading home, I enter a park where women collect fallen branches and neatly stack them to sell as firewood and building materials. Men usually collect the leaves from around bushes and trees, just as we do at COA. I think about the human perception that leaves look scattered and messy, and how that perception makes us intervene and "manage" an already functioning system. In the park, the leaves are collected with other "trash" and made to disappear by burning. Removing nutrient-rich organic matter from the vegetated ground is absurd when you think about it.
Recently I visited the new compactors found in some of the more affluent wards. Here, municipal workers dump the contents of their carts into a massive, spotless compactor hole, without sorting. The paper and cardboard, plastic bottles and bags, leaves and food become one unified and contaminated square of less visible but organized and scientificlooking "progress." The workers are proud of the efficient technology and are certain the squares get recycled, that fertilizers are made out of the liquid. I try not to look skeptical. What type of fertilizer can be made out of broken lamps, plastic bottles, and chicken bones?
Outside the park, too, I pass pile after pile of burning stuff, mainly leaves but also plastic and electronic cables. I try to understand this desire to burn things. It is more than just making "waste" disappear. Each fall
To fully grasp the story of Kolkata's waste management, I realize I need to visit Dhapa, the landfill where the waste ends up. Bureaucracy makes this difficult, but I manage to obtain a permit from Kolkata's deputy
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engineer. It turns out that some of the waste from the city is actually being composted by a company operating next to the landfill, and fertilizers are being made and sold from the compacted, mixed waste of the city. This makes me wonder what makes some engage with compacting, others with combustion, and still others with composting and recycling? My days in Kolkata are filled by meeting people whose lives center upon its waste, at every levelâ€” governmental officials and workers, citizens and groups seeking to make change, chance experiences. As I investigate these hidden functions I am continuously reevaluating my and others' perceptions of "waste" and composting, indeed, composting within my mind the many conceptions of waste and resources: how do we value the things in our lives? Above Left: Dogs and birds engage in urban recycling, foraging for leftover food and other organic material. Center: Leaves and other park debris are burned in small piles in the park. Right: Lisa Bjerke '13 stands between the female and male street sweepers in this photo taken by her friend and translator, Nilanjan Maulik. *Kolkata, formerly Calcutta
Preparing for a Changing Climate Story and photo by Graham Reeder '13
"Bangladesh used to be the most vulnerable country in the world. Now we're resilient and we have our dignity back." —Khalid Islam Graham Reeder '13 received a Watson Fellowship to travel to Norway, Poland, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and the Maldives on his project, "Preparing for a Changing Climate: Community-Based Adaptation Strategies." Khalid is a young volunteer with the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society in Bandarban, a small city in the south east of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, not far from the Myanmar border. He works with a community-driven initiative that seeks to secure safe drinking water in this mountain region of the country. After spending nearly a month unable to leave the smog and traffic of Dhaka because of postelection political violence, I relished the news that the national strikes, or hortals, to protest the recent sham election were easing. It would again be safe to get out of the offices in the capital where plenty of lip service was being paid to Bangladesh's newfound resilience to climate change. There I could speak with those who were adapting their lives to the impacts of these changes—what I sought to learn during my Watson Fellowship year. Bangladesh is widely celebrated as a success story in the making. Despite being one of the world's forty-nine least developed countries, over the past decade it has gained a reputation as a world center of resilience, 12
particularly in the face of climate change. This reputation has largely come from the prominent work of Bangladeshi negotiators at United Nations climate talks, and a group of Bangladeshi scientists, four of whom have become lead authors for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But how has this work translated into actually making people and communities more resilient? Measuring this is no small task, and I won't pretend I can even scratch the surface of the issue in my few short months here. I do think—regardless of the status of actions on the ground— that Bangladesh's changing narrative is important. This country has seen endless foreign involvement under the paternalistic guise of poverty alleviation. A Bangladeshi anthropologist I met described doing research with communities living on chors, or small river deltas. He noted that, "the NGOs have colonized every single town in this country. It is impossible to find a community without Western NGO presence." This
is not to say that all NGO presence is necessarily neocolonial. WeAdapt runs an open-source database that highlights community-driven adaptation research and projects, and its map of Bangladesh is chockfull of good work being done. Not many places could bounce back at the rate communities in Bangladesh have in the face of some of the most severe climate impacts we've seen to date, a testament to local government's seriousness about disaster preparedness and water management. The story of a Bangladesh that has the capacity to advocate for itself, on its own terms, and can figure out what is required to deal with climate change, poverty, and other systemic issues, is one that Bangladeshis are keen to tell, and it's one we can all benefit from hearing. Above: Rather than relying on rice paddies alone, this farmer in the mountains of Bangladesh has planted a diversified range of crops, enabling him to better withstand the variations caused by climate change.
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Jay Pierrepont of Equilibrium Capital Group: Driving Change for Good By Donna Gold "Sustainability," declares Jay Pierrepont, "is where opportunities exist." A private equity financier and COA donor, Jay believes that the future of the planet is linked to successful investments. "Change will be driven by where returns can be made," says Jay, a principal at Equilibrium Capital Group, which is geared to investing in businesses that are solving environmental problems. Jay's passion for doing well by doing good follows a successful career with Pantheon, a more typical private equity corporation. Having helped Pantheon become a billion-dollar firm from a raw start-up, Jay began to consider his legacy. He had provided a stable home for his children, but what about a stable world? After twenty-five years, Jay wondered whether he might harness the ingredients that made Pantheon a success and apply them to enterprises that would solve the world's looming problems. Peering into the future, Jay sees a potential avalanche of trouble, starting with shortages in water, food, energy, and other resources generated by larger populations and global increases in a demanding middle class. "A change is being brought upon us," he notes. "If we don't solve these problems it's a bleak future." But where many see doom, Jay sees opportunity. "Those who can find solutions to these problems—more sustainable energy systems, agriculture that is sustainable for the land and for its workers, water reclamation—would not only improve the coming world, but might also find themselves doing quite well," he says, recalling some of the sentiments that created COA's Sharpe-McNally Chair in Green and Socially Responsible Business in 2006. At Equilibrium, Jay and his colleagues look for companies that can, say, turn agricultural wastewater into fertilizer and drinking water, thus leading to more energy, fewer methane emissions, and more clean water. Other investments feature energy-generating LEED-certified buildings in urban areas; or the fostering of permanent crops such as organic high-bush blueberries in summer and citrus in winter. Once Equilibrium finds these innovative enterprises, it seeks investors to get the projects off the ground or take them to the next level. Jay likes to say that investors in Equilibrium "come for the returns and stay for the impact." It's just possible that summers spent in Maine, taking whale and bird excursions with COA's late trustee Ed Blair, COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
Jay Pierrepont holds a young gull on a visit to COA's Alice Eno Field Research Station on Great Duck Island. Photo by Lisa Pierrepont.
a good friend of Jay's father, and days spent working as a sternman—at age ten—may have had something to do with Jay's passion to do well by doing good. Rising before dawn to work on a lobster boat, seeing the abundance of life dependent upon the oceans around Mount Desert Rock— and also working the farm that his family owned in New Jersey—gave the New York City-raised Jay such a love of nature and so great an interest in the earth's resources, that he majored in agricultural economics as an undergraduate, moving into business from farm management. Later, when Jay began coming to Maine with his own family, COA became a focus. Their children attended the college's Summer Field Studies day camp, and he and Lisa, his wife, joined The Champlain Society, enjoying summer lectures, gallery openings, and fresh produce from the Beech Hill Farm Stand. "No one is going to care if I was successful in private equity in my life," Jay concludes. "But they will be interested if I can change Wall Street and Main Street, if I can make the same or better rate of return by being sustainable as I can by investing in completely nonsustainable, standard corporations." In other words, says Jay, "Give sustainability a chance. This is where opportunities exist. If we don't do it, we won't be leaving the world in a better place." 13
Field Ecology, An Introduction By John Anderson, faculty member in biology
I said in my heart, "I am sick of four walls and a ceiling. I have need of the sky. I have business with the grass." — Richard Hovey
We hear a lot about "experiential education" these days—of the importance of students actively engaging in learning the tools and techniques that they hope to apply in the future, of the vitality of context, the recognition that where something occurs may have a profound influence on what happens. Classrooms can be wonderful places for discourse and debate, texts can be sources of deep truths, but organisms other than humans tend not to read textbooks, and even the best writer or teacher will be limited by their own experience, so if we are to realize a more complete understanding, sooner or later we must all adopt the motto of Rudyard Kipling's Rikki Tikki Tavi and "run and find out." Since its inception, College of the Atlantic has endeavored to balance the importance of "book learning" with hands-on work "in the field." Many other educational institutions do aspects of each, but they tend to either emphasize the classroom, with intermittent forays into the field, or they dismiss classrooms and texts too thoroughly, and focus almost exclusively on the "experience," with little attention to the follow-through, the analysis, the write-up, the presentation-to-others. At COA, students are encouraged to take an idea the whole way, from the "I read/teacher said, but I wondered …" through to the literature search, planning, observation and data collection, analysis, final write-up, and new questions. When I go to professional conferences with students I am struck by how often colleagues from away assume that COA undergrads are graduate students. I am also struck by the grace and ease our students exhibit in professional settings—they talk to peers and "silverbacks" with the ease that can only come from actually knowing what one is talking about. Essential to this program are our islands—Great Duck and Mount Desert Rock. Every year a new generation of Ducklings and Rockettes walks beneath the arch at the head of the pier that our late trustee Ed Blair's generosity built, passes onto the dock, and goes to sea for a while. Sung to sleep by foghorns and breakers, with dreams haunted by petrels and awakenings brought by the call of the gulls, a great magic is wrought. Students leave the classroom as students; when they come back, they are something else. I am a deep believer in the necessity and the magic of islands, but I also believe that similar spells can be cast on shore, in museums and archives, in testimony before panels, as well as behind microscopes and microphones. The key is to think and go and think some more. In enabling and in celebrating the true duality, interpenetration and importance of the world inside and the world outside, we find a great strength of our human ecological form of education. What follows are a few of the stories of the remarkable students who have made this journey; each has added to our store of knowledge and their own, but each would, I suspect, agree with Loren Eiseley's warning, told from a beach long ago: "Those as hunts treasure must go alone, at night, and when they find it they have to leave a little of their blood behind them."
The gull chick in this image has been banded, thanks to the work of student field researchers on Great Duck Island. The band allows researchers to track its life trajectory. Photo by Julia De Santis '12. 15
SOUNDSCAPE ECOLOGY: Shan Burson '83
By Michael Griffith '09
You've come to Denali National Park to get away from life's distractions: cell phone, Internet, engines. Noise. This morning, having had your fill of gazing at Denali, the great one, the highest mountain in North America, you skied over miles of fresh, soft snow. You stop dead when you see the wolf. For a second you can only hear yourself breathe. Then comes the crunchy sound of your pole sinking where you stand. Raising your binoculars, you can see the wolf's jaw flex: is it going to howl, to vocalize somehow? It happens in an instant. The jaw opens. The mouth widens. But instead of a howl, you hear the roar of a plane flying high above the animal's open, soundless head. The engine noise recedes as the wolf snaps shut its snout. Soon the plane will land, bringing more visitors to Denali, and the wolf will trot away, its next howl stored safely in its lungs. Shan Burson '83 has dedicated his life to listening. As an acoustic ecologist now working for Grand Teton and 16
Yellowstone national parks, his job is to record, analyze, and archive the sounds—both natural and not—that permeate the parks. Elk. Geese in flight. Snowmobiles. Bison in rut. Cascading streams. The work is deeply, inherently human ecological, rooted in the observation—and improvement—of interactions between humans and the natural environment. Reducing noise in a snowy field is as good for animal populations as it is for park visitors: we want to hear the wolves, but the wolves want to hear each other, too. "All populations and communities benefit from the reduction of noise," says Shan. Human and animal. As committed as Shan is to acoustic ecology, the path "wasn't straight, or planned." It began, in a way, in the pre-med program at one of New England's state universities. "I was so excited about college, about really learning," he says. "When I got there, though, it just seemed to be about weeding people out."
In his second year, he was able to study dendrology, natural history, and ecology. After his friend Peter Wayne '83 (see Spring 2013) transferred to COA, Shan visited. "This is really cool," he remembers thinking. "This is where I want to go to school." Seeking to be outside observing, not inside a lab, he transferred to COA. Past president Steve Katona, then a biology faculty member, and his colleague, the late Bill Drury, certainly didn't keep him indoors. "I loved bird songs," he says. "It didn't take long for Bill to excite me about avian ecology." And send him into the field. Natural Sounds Today, Shan's research on soundscapes takes him to some of the most "fantastically beautiful" natural sites in the United States. When climbers complain of hearing Teton Park Road from the top of Grand Teton, Shan hikes up for a listen and installs a discreet sound monitoring system. These autonomous systems capture not only sound levels but sounds themselves, offering Shan COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
aural snapshots of what's on a mountain, by a lake, or in a dense wood. Once a system is mounted, microphones whir into action, revealing the sources—often surprising—of sound. Listening to an early recording of Yellowstone, Shan heard something like the roar of a lion at close range. "Man, what is that!" New to Yellowstone, he sent the recording to a wildlife biologist who told him the sound came from a bison in rut. Shan has since become an expert on the parks' soundscapes, but he still hears thrilling, unexpected things: the strange utterances of barking foxes, nocturnal amphibians, or female elk, typically less vocal than the male members of their species. "I get a lot of enjoyment from listening to recordings back in the office," Shan says. "That allows me to be on-site—virtually—at night, in the early morning, times I would never be there in person. I get a real sense of what the soundscape is like just by listening to these recordings, and it's remarkable how many different animals vocalize." With thousands of hours of recordings in his database, representing soundscapes from across both parks, Shan has many years of listening ahead of him. To date, though, much of his time has been devoted to installing and maintaining twelve portable sound systems that he has moved around to more than eighty locations. Once up, he might visit a site every three weeks, travelling by ski or snowshoe in winter, climbing when necessary, or canoeing across lakes. "What I really like is going to places I normally wouldn't go—and certainly not repeatedly—in each of the seasons." Noise After COA, Shan researched bird genetics and ecology at the University of Minnesota and warbler vocalizations at Dartmouth College. As a doctoral student wondering whether male song types had anything to do COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
with female mate choice, says Shan, "I spent a whole season recording bird song in a really well-known population of birds." Years later, doing mammalrelated work in wildlife biology at Alaska's Denali National Park, Shan heard complaints about the noise of aircraft overflights. "The park was looking for somebody to study the acoustic issue in Denali," he says. "I had some experience." To quantify the impact of aircraft overflights in Denali, Shan returned to acoustics. Measuring sound levels is informative, but if you want to know what is making the sounds, Shan says, "to this day, there's nothing better to identify sound sources than the human ear. Making and analyzing recordings allow us to do that." Three years later, he moved on to a new set of challenges: assessing the impact of snow vehicles in Yellowstone and the air traffic surrounding Jackson Hole Airport, near Grand Teton.
when they hike along the shore or paddle their canoes and kayaks. His ten-year look at snow vehicles has resulted in a lot of change in Yellowstone and has influenced park policy. But behaviors can't be altered, or new rules established, until thorough studies have considered all the variables. "The natural soundscape is a protected resource, just like wildlife or plants or air quality. So any kind of planning process we engage in looks at effects on the natural soundscape. We're doing a lot to mitigate noise and restore natural sounds." Consciousness of noise pollution has spread to America from Europe,
"I love natural sounds," he says, "but I deal with a lot of noise issues." The task's not easy. The gurgling of streams running down from the mountain enhances the experience of park visitors. So does the blowing of wind. The quieter the park, the more extensive the impact of noise— straight-pipe motorcycles and other road traffic, boats, snowmobiles. An acoustic ecologist does not seek pristine silence. While the noise of a typical city street may clock in at eighty decibels and your urban bedroom at thirty, in Grand Teton, where the sound of cascading streams is nearly ubiquitous, the lowest sound-level measured by Shan is just over six decibels. At that level you can hear a car from miles away. Quantifying and describing soundscapes is difficult: "Both natural and non-natural sounds are hugely variable by season, by time of day, by location." Currently, Shan is investigating boat traffic on Yellowstone Lake during the warm weather months, working to quantify what visitors experience
Shan Burson's first long-term sound monitoring station, in Denali National Park, 2001. The heavily insulated box holds batteries, a solar charge controller, lightning arrestor, sound level meter, and laptop computer. Reachable by snowmobile in winter, in summer access is via helicopter. While Shan downloaded acoustic data on this trip, the pilot gathered blueberries. 17
where for years it's been considered a matter of policy and planning. "I think people in general are finding that their lives are filled with noise, and are getting more and more interested in going places that sound natural." But for all our capacity to listen closely, we're also adept at blocking out what we're used to hearing. "Often when I'm on hikes," says Shan, "I ask the people I meet, 'How many jets have you just heard flying over?' And they say, 'We didn't hear any.' But I've been counting, and there might have been seven, eight!" Impact At Yellowstone's popular geyser basins, Shan is creating an acoustic map to allow him—and others—to visualize the soundscape like never before. Even a basic spectrogram can help researchers cut through a day's data. If they see something unusual in one of the graph's spikes—say, a loud noise at 5:33 p.m.—they can simply click on it and listen. With acoustic mapping, sound becomes form.
More problematic than the impact of noise on the wilderness experience is its effect on animal communication. Shan cites a recent study conducted on a patch of mountain shrubland in Idaho, not far from where he works. A group of scientists constructed a "phantom road" of fifteen speakers along the Boise Ridge, away from variables such as car movement and pavement, and banded nearly seven thousand migratory songbirds. When the speakers were switched on, birds fled the ridge. When the phantom road went silent, birds returned to the valuable stopover site to fatten up on their lengthy journey. Even more worrisome, birds near the noise lost body mass throughout the day—literally, hour by hour. The implications for conservation are dramatic: without adequate fat stores, birds can't travel. Migration accounts for 85 percent of all mortality in some songbird species; in the absence of safe migratory stopovers, this number could rise—and important populations dwindle. Since 83
percent of land in the US is within one kilometer of a road, the problem is urgent. Shan notices other issues. "There are birds that are singing at higher frequencies—higher pitches—so that they're not being masked so much by motorized sounds, which are mostly at low frequencies. Some birds are singing earlier in the day, or they're shifting their nests." But while technology creates problems, it also generates solutions. Beyond improving the lives of the animals who live in the parks, as well as the experience of the humans who come to see them, Shan expects the data and recordings he has collected to be useful for decades more. "The data have a tremendous archival use for the future in ways I don't even know about now," he says. ••••••• Michael Griffith '09 teaches English literature at the American School Foundation in Guadalajara, Mexico. He's at work on his first novel.
Page 16, Shan Burson '83 sets up a microphone to measure the noise of oversnow vehicles in Yellowstone National Park during the winter of 2014. He's comparing the noise levels of various snow vehicle models, with the goal of reducing noise impacts. Above, Shan continues to collect noise measurements. Photos used by permission of Neal Herbert, Yellowstone National Park. 18
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It was the summer of 1980. Conservation biologist Scott Kraus '77 was flying aerial surveys over the Bay of Fundy to help create an environmental impact statement. An oil company was seeking to build a deepwater port in Eastport, Maine, asserting that because there was no information on marine mammals in the area, such a port would have no impact on wildlife. In early June, Scott spotted one right whale; another was seen in early July. "Even that was exciting," says Scott. This was a time when right whales were so scarce that many thought they were a lost cause, soon to be extinct. Then, in mid-August, flying a US Fish & Wildlife Service float plane, Scott saw below him twenty-five right whales. Twenty-five! Even better, four were calves with their mothers. Needless to say, the deepwater port was not built. In fact, the surveys revealed that the Bay of Fundy was a veritable marine mammal nursery, filled with all kinds of species made safe from humans, says Scott, by Fundy's legendary fog, and equally legendary tide changes. Vessels were wary of working the waters in this broad, thirty-mile-wide bay with intense currents, rocky ledges, and uncertain visibility. Today Scott is a vice president at the New England Aquarium, and a leading researcher of the North Atlantic right whale. But much of his work focuses on how human activities, from shipping to climate change, impact the species. "We're looking at entanglements, ship strikes, and everything that affects the whale," he says, "and trying to identify management and regulation strategies to reduce all the things that are knocking right whales back, so that they can recover to a larger population size." Scott is not only one of the whale's biggest advocates, but someone who sees that through understanding the right whale, human beings can better understand ourselves and our power to protect and heal oceans. COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
THE RIGHT WHALE:
Scott Kraus '77 and Earth's "Canary" in the Ocean By Marni Berger '09
Aboard the R/V Nereid, the New England Aquarium right whale research team approaches and photographs a right whale in the Bay of Fundy.
The boy, the man, the sea, the world Perhaps this is a trajectory Scott's mother could have predicted when, as an eleven-year-old in northwestern Connecticut, he insisted he wanted to be like Jacques Cousteau. Never mind that he hadn't ever seen the ocean, Scott's fascination was steadfast. He came to College of the Atlantic in 1972, a member of the first class. For his senior project, he and Steve Katona, former COA president and founding biology faculty member, created the first photographic catalog of whales, showing that the flukes of the humpback are precise identifiers of individual whales. Photo identifications are now standard in the field—a way for scientists to focus on individuals and learn about specific behaviors and connections (see page 6). And yet, says Scott, what brought him to COA was not the creatures in the ocean, but the ocean itself, and his concern about the impact of the oil economy on the sea. The well-being of the ocean is still what concerns Scott. "As much as I love working on whales," he says,
"what most interests me is their home—how to keep their habitat, the ocean, intact." At the aquarium, much of Scott's time is spent raising money for research and overseeing a range of specialists who are focused on various aspects of oceans, from those modeling arctic ice and the links between bowhead whales and plankton, to specialists on lobsters and shell disease, to researchers working on endocrinology in a laboratory studying ocean health. Scott himself explores the consequences of human disturbances to large populations of sea life, developing methods for understanding whether human involvement with animals will upset their reproduction and mortality rates. "When you have a disturbance—shipping, wind farms, fishing gear entanglement—if one of those things negatively affects one animal, does it impact the whole population?" he wonders. Although still in the early stages of this work, Scott and his team are finding that this just might be the case. For example, calving intervals of female North Atlantic 19
right whales who have experienced fishing gear entanglements have increased by a year or more; the impact is translating to the entire species. Understanding how human beings affect animal populations is vital to influencing federal regulations, Scott adds. "Regulators should be managing things that really make a difference to populations and not be so worried about mild and transient effects to individuals." The right whale Before commercial whaling ended in 1935, the right whale was always "the right whale to kill," hence the name. These large whales, which can grow longer than fifty-five feet, were slow swimmers, easily caught. While most other harpooned and killed whales would sink, the bodies of right whales contained so much blubber they floated like logs. Once boiled in cauldrons, this blubber could be turned into oil to both grease 20
machines and light street lamps. Right whales were the unsustainable energy source—the petroleum—of the nineteenth century. They were also hunted for baleen, long thick plates that filter food from seawater. A single right whale can have more than two hundred baleen plates, each hanging like six-foot doors from the whale's upper lip. Made of keratin, the substance of human fingernails, baleen was that century's plastic, used for corsets, venetian blinds, umbrellas—you get the idea. By the time hunting was outlawed, there may have been only two dozen right whales left. Having been listed as an endangered species in 1972, some five hundred individuals are currently known. To Scott, right whales are our greatest teachers in understanding humaninflicted marine damages. "They're the ocean's ambassadors to the human race."
Scott estimates that humans have killed over a quarter-million right whales over the span of our existence. When we stopped the outright killings, populations started recovering. But some time around the 1970s, oceans began getting more dangerous for animals. "International trade exploded," says Scott. Much of our new global economy travels by water—in vessels that are larger, faster, and more numerous than ever before. Meanwhile, the ropes that fishermen use to secure and haul gear have gotten much stronger. The result: right whales have been getting struck by ships and entangled in fishing gear. Today, more than 80 percent of all right whales bear entanglement scars. One study found that fishing gear killed or seriously injured more than 1,500 whales of all species in the North Atlantic between 1970 and 2009. Additionally, those whales that live along the United States' East Coast are COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
Left: Scott Kraus '77 holds a net filled with right whale feces so as to study the secret lives of whales—sexual maturity, pregnancy, even stress levels. This technique was an innovation of New England Aquarium senior scientist Rosalind Rolland. Above: The New England Aquarium's R/V Callisto approaches a small group of right whales for fecal sampling on an early September morning in the Bay of Fundy. Photos courtesy of the New England Aquarium.
subject to ships' underwater noise, which in some areas surpass levels legally acceptable for humans. They're also subject to numerous pollutants east of the Rocky Mountains. "The entire Mississippi Basin, everything: pollution, pharmaceuticals, agricultural run-off, pesticides—you name it, it's in there. If you measure a right whale's blubber, you'll find every contaminant that's been detected in humans," says Scott. And so, he adds, "What right whales are really doing is telling the story of what human beings are doing to the ocean. That's a big story." There's no black or white "I work a lot with the fishing and wind energy industries to help reduce their effects on whales and dolphins," Scott says. He seeks to demonstrate that protecting the right whale, and the health of the ocean, is in the industries' best interest. It sounds a little like making deals with the COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
devil, but Scott says dealing with people with concerns different from yours doesn't mean giving up your principles. "It means recognizing that the world consists of a lot more than just us." Ultimately, says Scott, the health of the right whale is a strong indicator of the health of the entire ocean, and "the reason to save the ocean would be to save your own butt." On the most fundamental level, the ocean buffers extreme temperatures and provides between 40 and 50 percent of all oxygen on the planet. "You really don't want to screw up that, because then we're all in serious trouble," Scott adds. "Most people don't understand their dependency on the ecosystems around them," Scott continues. But he's optimistic. After all, Scott and his team have managed to slow East Coast shipping speeds to protect right whales during their coastal travels.
"That took at least fifteen to twenty years." He is confident that there are alternatives to mistreating the ocean. "And if not," he says, "technology may help—slowing ships, quieting underwater noise, and eliminating pollution—we can do all of this!" Oil, ships, fishing, whales, oceans, and beyond. Scott credits COA for nurturing the holistic lens through which he sees the oceans, and by extension, the world. "I think COA gave me the foundation for seeing how things are connected," he says. "It also helped me realize that nothing is black and white. There aren't bad guys or good guys. There's a lot of gray in the middle." ••••••• Marni Berger '09 is a writer, teacher, tutor, and dog fanatic. Her essays, short stories, and author interviews can be found at The Millions, Fringe Magazine, Litro, and The Days of Yore. 21
1992 Dorie Stolley '88
Steve Baird '83
Peter Duley '84
Field Ecology Journeys Those who are devoted to field ecology seem to thrive on outdoor adventures and the camaraderie of fellow ecologists. This twining of friendship and nature honed at College of the Atlantic has alumni connecting and reconnecting across miles and over decades. When Steve Baird '83 was in graduate school, he spent four winters studying the survival of American redstarts in Belize where this photo of Steve, Peter Duley '84, and Dorie Stolley '88 was taken. Thanks to a Fulbright scholarship, Steve was assisted by many more classmates, including Shan Burson '83, Lisa Burton '86, Marie McCarty '82 (now Steve's wife), Rick Schauffler '83, Ann Seymour '88, and Chris Vincenty ('83).
Dorie chops prairie dogs to feed reintroduced, endangered blackfooted ferrets in Wyoming.
This twining of friendship and nature honed at College of the Atlantic has alumni connecting and reconnecting across miles and over decades.
Steve and Marie now live in Homer, Alaska, where Steve works at Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. He's been helicoptered onto a salt marsh to hike for days, had close encounters with moose and grizzly bears, and seen wolves and a wolverine; once a beluga whale used his inflatable raft like a toy, spinning it around. Last winter, Steve returned to Belize, meeting Shan Burson (see page 16).
Steve explores Belize's highest mountain with naturalists, Mayan guides, and British soldiers.
Torn between environmental education and field biology, Dorie did both seasonally for years before getting an MS in wildlife biology and working for the National Park Service, then the US Fish & Wildlife Service. Today, her environmental efforts are enhanced by an MA in communication. Peter is a fisheries wildlife biologist for NOAA in Woods Hole, Massachusetts where he works with Tim Cole '88. With Tim he's studied humpback whales in Hawaii, with Steve (and briefly Dorie and Rick Schauffler) he's helped restore puffins to Maine's Seal Island. He's studied sea ice impacts on seabird and marine mammal reproduction in Antarctica, flown right whale aerial surveys in Florida, and studied bowhead whales in Alaskaâ€” visiting Steve and Marie.
Designed by Khristian Mendez '15; story by Donna Gold. Photos courtesy of Dorie, Steve, and Peter. 22
Peter retrieves a snowy owl found by Rick Schauffler '83 on Maine's Seal Island.
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Training to set prescribed fires in the Texas Rio Grande Valley.
Bird banding in Saskatchewan, Canada.
Counting nests, eggs, nestlings, to monitor roseate terns on Bird Island in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts.
Scanning for grizzlies during salmon work in Alaska's Kachemak Bay Research Reserve.
Retrieving juvenile salmon on the Anchor River near Kachemak Bay.
Installing a deep-rod benchmark to measure land-level change in a Kachemak Bay salt marsh, having carried some 140 pounds of equipment across the marsh.
In Antarctica with the R/V Nathanial B. Palmer.
Photo-identifying humpback whales in Antarctica.
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ON THE TRAIL OF MAMMOTHS: Deep-time field ecology Story by and photos by Jacquelyn Gill '05 Jacquelyn Gill '05 is a paleoecologist researching how the issues of the past—climate change, extinction, ancient human activity— provides clues to how wildlife might respond to the changes currently facing our planet. She obtained a PhD in geography at the University of Wisconsin and is now an assistant professor of paleoecology and plant ecology at the University of Maine.
Paleoecologists often say the past is the key to the present. To those of us used to thinking on the timescales of minutes and months, the concept of ecological change on geologic timescales isn't exactly easy to grasp. I had my first epiphany about time on an ecology field trip with John Anderson, COA faculty member in biology. Grinning like a magician about to make a big reveal, John pointed out cliffs, boulders, and a cave as we hiked along Acadia National Park's Gorham Mountain trail. These looked suspiciously like the ones we'd just left at sea level, formed by the push and pull of the Atlantic Ocean. It was no coincidence that these landforms looked similar, John explained. The Gorham Mountain caves, now 250 feet above sea level, were formed by the ocean. Twenty thousand years ago, the glaciers were more than a mile thick over Maine and the weight of the ice sheet was sufficient to depress the earth's crust. In the thousands of years since the ice melted, Mount Desert Island has continued to rise, millimeter by millimeter. To us budding ecologists, the lesson wasn't just about geology. Gorham Mountain reminds us that change happens, and that the past not only influences the landscapes we see today, but that those changes complicate our very ideas about ecology and conservation. That day I was bitten by the deep-time bug, and it altered my life. While I later worked with John on petrels on the college's Great Duck Island, I resisted the allure of the present, drawn instead to the past by MDI's glacial landforms and my curiosity about the plants and animals that have lived here since the ice melted.
How do you research a landscape you can't even see? So much of what I study is long vanished, from the great ice sheets that once covered much of North America to the mammoths, giant ground sloths, and black bearsized beavers that were once as much a part of North American ecology as moose, coyotes, and squirrels are now. In the absence of a time machine, paleoecologists have several options. We can reconstruct past landscape changes using natural archives—bones, plant and animal matter, and other evidence of past landscape change stored in rocks and mud; we can create computer models of past landscape processes; and we can design modern experiments to
reconstruct the past, like growing plants in chambers with the carbon dioxide concentrations found in the past. Of these, the first option, seeking evidence, is most common, and it's what gets us into the field. You'd think that being unable to actually see your study system would be a major drawback, but in fact it's one of the things I love about paleoecology. Much of my work relies on tiny bits of ecological flotsam and jetsam that fall into lakes and bogs, where the oxygen-poor environments at the bottom preserve clues to ancient landscapes for thousands of years. For me, a typical field day is spent on an anchored platform
A bison munches grass, blithely ignoring a fence erected to test the impacts of grazing on the Konza Prairie in the Flint Hills of northeastern Kansas. COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
about the size of a picnic table in the middle of a lake. From my floating field station I extract meters of mud cores rich with pollen grains from long-dead trees, bits of charcoal from ancient fires, parts of aquatic insects and algae, and other clues to past climate and environmental changes. Using radiocarbon dating and other techniques, we can place events like forest fires, extinctions, or the arrival of a new species in a broader context. Analyzing cores in the lab is rather like the work of a forensic scientist, reconstructing past environments from the clues left behind by their ancient inhabitants. Compared to many ecologists, my fieldwork is relatively compressedâ€” usually lasting just a couple of weeksâ€”but it's a valuable chance to get my hands dirty. Sometimes the weather is stiflingly hot, at other times it's bone-chillingly damp. The biting midges, poisonous snakes, leeches, and alligator snapping turtles give even the most mundane lake in an Indiana cornfield a touch of an Indiana Jones adventure. Critical equipment gets lost over the side; gear fixes are improvised with duct tape and water noodles. This mix of back-breaking physical labor and creative problem solving keeps me coming back to the field year after year, despite sunburns, sore muscles, blisters, and insect bites. While I'll never observe a mammoth in the field, paleoecology does offer the advantage of time; my "experiments" lasted thousands of years. For my PhD research, I wanted to know what happened when ice age megaherbivores like mastodons went extinct: did the plants notice? The fossil bone record is often too incomplete to compare with vegetation changes from pollen records, and so I decided to try something a little different: dung fungus. To reconstruct past populations of large herbivores, I went back to those natural archives in lake cores, searching for spores from a fungus that grows in herbivore dung. Large populations of big COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
King penguins hang out on the beach at Volunteer Point, Falkland Islands.
herbivores produce a lot of dung, which in turn provide a lot of habitat for dung fungi. Many of those fungal spores reproducing in mammoth dung ended up in the lakes I cored thousands of years later. When the ice age animals vanished, so did the spores, and in my cores this was followed by major changes in forest trees and fire activity. Thirteen thousand years ago, the combination of herbivore extinction and climate change triggered a period of ecological upheaval that lasted over a millennium; the forests were never the same again. In my new position at the University of Maine, I continue to research how plant-animal interactions are affected by extinction and climate change, looking at things like seed dispersal, the availability of dung-derived nutrients in soils, and how herbivores affect biodiversity. In addition to past reconstructions, modern experiments are valuable, too. In the absence of mammoths, bison can be a useful surrogate. When you spend most of your time in front of a fume hood or a computer monitor, you can feel disconnected from the natural world. There's nothing like having lunch alongside grazing bison, surrounded by dung patties, to get a girl thinking
about what mammoth-grazed landscapes must have looked like. What's next for this human ecologist? I've recently had the opportunity to research penguins and other seabirds in the Falkland Islands, where critical habitats are threatened by climate change, grazing sheep, and sea level rise. The birds provide crucial nutrients to the cold, subantarctic island plants, too. (It looks like I'll be working with dung for a while longer.) Surprisingly, both the Falklands and the Gulf of Maine have undergone similar environmental changes in the last 20,000 years, and understanding how wildlife responded to these changes in the past will give us valuable clues for the present. Lately I find myself thinking about guano, penguins, and tussac grass instead of mammoths, dung fungi, and trees. In a way, I've come full circle, back to the island ecosystems where I first discovered my passion for ecology as an undergraduate. Whether I'm working on a lake in Indiana, a bog in Maine, a bison sanctuary in Kansas, or a penguin rookery in the Falkland Islands, I study the past with my feet firmly rooted in the present, and my mind on the horizon and the challenges it brings.
POLICY, POLITICS, AND PROTECTION: Erica Maltz '08 and the bull trout By Marni Berger '09
Erica Maltz '08 takes a break from rivers and resource meetings to hike the Wallowa Mountains of northeastern Oregon. Photo courtesy of Erica Maltz.
Erica Maltz '08 first met the Columbia River when she crossed its largest tributary, the Snake River, in southeast Oregon. The Columbia is by volume the fourth largest river in North America, and Erica had already become intrigued by its mystique, habitat diversity, and dangerously high vulnerability to pollutants, having read about it in faculty member Todd Little-Siebold's environmental history class. In crossing the Snake, Erica felt like she was meeting a celebrity. Six years later, Erica has not yet left the Columbia watershed. For the past three years she has worked for the Burns Paiute tribe's natural resources department in Burns, Oregon as fisheries program manager. She is charged with implementing recovery actions in the Malheur River for the bull trout, listed under the Endangered Species Act, as well as with reintroducing Chinook and steelhead salmon to the Malheur, a tributary of the Snake River. A fisheries department of three means each person must be a specialist and a generalist. On any given day, Erica finds herself drawing upon talents in field biology, policy, fundraising, and diplomacy. 26
"I fell into the job haphazardly," she says. She came to Oregon from her home in Hampden, Maine for a threemonth position after graduation. "Then," she laughs, "I realized I didn't save enough money to drive all the way back home to Maine, so I had to find other work." Following a year at an unsatisfying state job, Erica spotted a job listing with the Burns Paiute to work on salmon reintroduction to the Malheur River. It was only a temporary position, but after about a year the fisheries program manager left; Erica was offered the job. "I'm so thrilled to be working in the Columbia and Snake river basins today," she says. Burns is beautiful and desolate, adds Erica. Though there are fewer than five thousand people in the settlement, it's the seat of Harney County—with a population density of around one person per square mile. This part of the world still fits the definition of "frontier" under 1890 standards. What ails the mighty Columbia? The Columbia River is a suffering beauty. The river and its tributaries drain an area about the size of France; because of this sheer size, what are known as legacy chemicals—including PCBs, DDT, and DDE banned in the
1970s—still flush into the water from farms, roads, construction sites, and storm-water systems. Dioxins, among the most carcinogenic substances in the world, bleed into the river from chlorine bleaching by paper mills along the shore. The Snake River suffers particularly from hydropower dams, a main energy source of the Northwest. Even though the Oregon Environmental Council, or OEC, reports that dams drastically reduce water quality by causing pollutants to accumulate in sediments behind the structures, the dams aren't going anywhere anytime soon. They also slow water flow, which is a problem because the sun warms sluggish water, killing coldwater fish such as the endangered bull trout—the very species Erica and her team strive to protect. The bull trout, salmon, and other cold-water fish are integral to Northwest Native American heritage and traditions. Because Native Americans consume the fish at a rate as much as eleven times greater than that of others in the United States, the river pollution is endangering their health. The Environmental Protection Agency deems pollutants "of concern" if they exceed a one in a million risk of causing cancer. The OEC estimates COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
that, "the risk of cancer from toxins in Columbia River fish may be as high as one in fifty for sturgeon and seven in ten thousand for salmon." Nevertheless, the bull trout, salmon, and other species lure fishing tourism, which brings in money. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, "Roughly ten million Americans spend an average of ten days a year angling for salmon and trout, and the estimated value of the combined fisheries ranges from $1.5 billion to $14 billion a year." And then there's the brook trout. Though a delight to those fishing in Maine, brook trout don't belong in the Pacific Northwest. They were brought from the East, possibly in the early 1900s, to stock the rivers of the West, but they mate with native bull trout, wearing thin the endangered species' gene pool. According to Erica, to save bull trout it is "critical and urgent" that brook trout are either eradicated or controlled in northwestern waters. This translates to fieldwork—donning chest waders and immersing herself in the river—which Erica loves. The small fisheries program team works in both a headwater lake and in tributaries of the Upper Malheur River, removing the brook trout by electro-fishing, gillnetting, angling, seining, and weir trapping. Politics, diplomacy & waterways It gets more complicated. Erica must straddle a line between protecting the river and working with the very industry that pollutes it. The Burns Paiute Natural Resources Department receives mitigation funds through the Bonneville Power Administration, or BPA, which operates the federal hydropower system on the Columbia River. BPA also has a complex history with nuclear power plants. For the Burns Paiute, and for Erica, restoring the Columbia River and its tributaries, and catering to industrial interests, presents a Venn diagram of diplomatic loyalties. COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
Erica advocates the interests of the tribal council to state and federal governments. Their concerns are often direct and controversial, such as the blockage of the Malheur River by the Hells Canyon Complex, a major private hydropower complex on the Snake River. "In a dream world," says Erica, "the three [Hells Canyon] complex dams would be removed and we would have an alternative source of energy." But at the very least, when hydropower facilities pollute the river, she says, they ought to pay for mitigation—which translates to trapping and hauling fish, and river restoration so that the river is cleaner and cooler. She'd also like them to pay for recovery actions for native and endangered resident species, such as bull trout, not to mention the cultural impacts to tribes and other residents that live within the watershed area. Anything the team and tribal council want to do—say, increase fishing opportunities—must occur in collaboration with federal agencies. This process involves arranging formal meetings between the tribal council and relevant federal officers. More difficult is working with state governments that have little stake in—and do not prefer to have— government-to-government relations with tribes when issues span state borders. Presenting scientific data is often the best way to go in these cases, Erica says. "I've definitely developed some diplomatic skills," Erica adds.
While she laughs and admits "it's all trial and error," Erica feels that COA gave her the confidence to launch those tries. "COA did a great job grooming that skillset for myself and other fishery folks that I graduated with," she says. Partly, she adds, this is due to a curriculum that emphasizes oral and written presentations over tests, and encourages student involvement in facilitating meetings and participating on committees. "COA grads are ahead of the game for actual communication skills, and that's something that may take others years," she says. At COA, too, she became accustomed to working one-on-one with faculty members and other mentors, leading her to seek similar guidance in her work. "I've been helped by some really great federal employees," she adds. A lot has changed for Erica since she crossed the Snake River for the first time in 2008. She is no longer a kid seeing the Columbia River as a celebrity. The watershed is home now, and she is committed to the Burns Paiute and to restoring the tributaries of the "mighty Columbia," even when the odds seem against her. Often during tribal council and government meetings, Erica realizes she is decades younger than everyone else in the room, and the only woman. But she feels prepared. COA taught her to stand up for what is right in the face of environmental or human injustice, says Erica. "If it's time to stand up for what our council has asked us to do, I'm not afraid."
A bull trout from the North Fork of the Malheur River. Photo courtesy of the Burns Paiute Tribe Natural Resources Department 2008.
Morning in Pensamiento Liberal, in Oaxaca's Sierra Mixteca. All photos are by Greg Rainoff '81 unless noted.
IN THE MIXTECAN FIELD: Greg Rainoff '81 While field researchers concerned with the habits of animals need to watch from a distance, finding a way to take notes unobserved, the fieldwork of a person interested in other humans is all about communication. Greg Rainoff '81 is currently creating Burning Paradise, a film about the indigenous peoples of the Sierra Mixteca who live in the steep mountains southwest of the Mexican city of Oaxaca. The people here are called hijos de maize, children of corn, because it was through ancestral hands in this place that corn was biodiversified (a term Greg prefers to domesticated). Here too, is where some of Mexico's earliest writings were found, codices created more than seven hundred years ago. But centuries of intrusions, beginning with the introduction of sheep and goats by the Spaniards in the sixteenth century, continuing with massive charcoal production during the nineteenth century, fertilizer dependence begun with the Green Revolution of the 1960s, and the recent influx of subsidized, low-cost corn from the United States under the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, have all contributed to massive social and environmental degradation. In places, as much as five meters of topsoil have eroded and some 80 percent of the people have left their homeland for the city of Oaxaca and points north—including the US. Yet others remain, eking out a subsistence livelihood in villages, or pueblos, with strong
communal traditions, including expectations for mutual assistance during harvests and cooperative governance. Greg's film focuses on a human ecology conundrum. The farmers can feed themselves on the corn, beans, and squash they grow, but they need something that will bring in cash. Before NAFTA, that something was corn. Today, unable to sell their crops at a profit, those who stay frequently resort to the environmentally problematic job of creating charcoal, obtained by cutting hardwood in an infamously deforested region, and slowly burning the cut trees in large, cone-shaped, underground ovens to be sold in the city—earning maybe sixty dollars per tree for an eight-day work week. But burning charcoal is illegal, as the forests are protected zones. So they say their choice is one illegality—charcoal—or another: migrating to the States. Ultimately this story—and its larger implications of environmental policy, cultural diversity, and the clashes they sometimes cause—will be told in whole cloth, but it has come to Greg in bits and pieces, as life often does, beginning when he was hired to document the building of a new community center in the region. Gradually the people in that pueblo came to know him; gradually he gained their confidence, learning of their hopes, dreams, fears, and
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Clockwise from top left: Greg Rainoff '81 stands with Catalina, age 82, and her son Manuel. Catalina, says Greg, had twelve children; eight died as infants (photo by Jess Perry); Girl power; Waiting for dinner. 29
troubles. Expanding to other communities entails making similar connections through numerous visits up twisting mountain roads, days of talking and sharing, getting to know one family, then another. Last December our family—Bill Carpenter, our son Daniel, and I—joined Greg on one of these expeditions and were invited on a journey down a steep mountain pathway to the waterfall of some new Mixtecan friends, passing, along the way, their smoldering charcoal mound. —Donna Gold The stories of some of these people can be heard at https://vimeo.com/crucibleproductions. Clockwise from top: Graduation day; President of Cholula, Oaxaca, a small village located in the Mixtecan mountains—Cholula, says Greg, is a pueblo with no school, no store, almost no water, and nearly entirely deforested; Anastasia at the stove—her home is about a two-hour walk from the pueblo with no electricity or plumbing, just a river, the woods, goats, and corn; The family of Franco and Marcelina, in Pensamiento, where Greg lived for several months. 30
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APPLIED ECOLOGY: Tanner Harris '06 and environmental consulting By Julia De Santis '12 Tanner Harris '06 walks through the desert near the Mexican border with California, jotting down every cactus and scraggly twig he sees. Trained as a field ecologist, Tanner applies his skills with WRA, Inc., an environmental consulting firm that helps individuals, companies, and municipalities navigate California's complex permitting processes. The current clients want to create a solar installation on their desert property. Biological surveys like Tanner's are often the first step in minimizing the impact of various forms of development. These aren't feel-good efforts. In California it is the law. "All projects must undergo environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act, which examines the biological impacts of a project. That is what we help clients with at WRA," says Tanner. Additional approval is required for projects that will affect species or habitats protected by California or the federal government.
the bishop pine forests of northern California. A fascination with plants Originally from Walnut Creek, California, Tanner was always interested in plants and the natural world. So when he went for an admission interview in San Francisco, and Sarah Baker, former dean of admission, pulled out a map of Acadia National Park, pointing to COA's campus across the street, Tanner was sold. Once in Maine, he focused on plant ecology, taking biology faculty member Suzanne Morse's plant morphology and horticulture-based classes, studying lichens and bryophytes with adjunct faculty member Fred Olday, and plant taxonomy with visiting faculty member Alison Dibble. After three years Tanner took a break to attend a gardening school in Scotland, trading one remote ecological outpost for another. Meanwhile, botanist Nishanta (Nishi) Rajakaruna '94, joined COA's faculty. When Tanner returned to campus, he began his senior project under Fred and Nishi's guidance, conducting a lichen inventory of a serpentine outcrop in Brooksville, Maine.
Tanner went on to pursue a master's in plant and soil science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He worked with Bill Manning, a plant biologist who focuses on the effects of air pollution on plants. Later, with Nishi's help, Tanner and Luka Negoita '11 were hired by the United States Forest Service to hike and inventory several thousand acres of burnt forest in California, comparing post-fire regrowth from serpentine to nonserpentine soils. Consulting At WRA, Tanner uses his training in biology and ecology to assess a site, help clients understand the regulatory issues they're facing, and recommend ways to reduce the impact of the project and restore or mitigate unavoidable issues. His work often begins with a biological survey to figure out what is on the land. "Field days can be great," says Tanner, "Sometimes I am just visiting a vacant lot in Oakland," but other days he is exploring remote areas in Santa Barbara County, or using his knowledge of serpentine soils to map habitat for endangered butterflies in the hills above San Jose.
Tanner especially loves to work on projects in the desert. "It's such a strange place," he says, "It's a harsh environment and organisms have developed interesting ways to cope, usually some sort of extreme life cycle or bizarre growth form. At first it seems like there isn't much out there, probably only three or four dominant species of plants. But once you start looking harder, you notice all sorts of plants growing in this seemingly inhospitable place." After Tanner's work in the desert he spent a week surveying dunes along the southern coast of California. By the end of the month he was in COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
Tanner Harris '06 on a field trip with the California Native Plant Society to The Cedars, a serpentine outcrop in Sonoma County, California. Photo courtesy of Tanner Harris. 31
A field of lupines at a property under study on the central coast of California. Photo courtesy of Tanner Harris.
But the field time is also rigorous. "Any time we go into the field, we have to be aware of potential regulatory issues so that we can advise our clients," says Tanner. In addition to California's laws, these include federal laws like the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. "Then there are regional, county, and city issues that are unique to each project area," Tanner adds. "Everyone in our office needs a basic understanding of the regulatory framework, but a lot of these laws are pretty nuanced, and we rely on our collective experience for guidance." Following fieldwork, Tanner connects with WRA's landscape architecture or mitigation banking departments to put together options for any necessary restoration or mitigation. If those are required, it can take a few forms: onsite or offsite habitat creation or restoration, purchasing mitigation credits from a mitigation bank, or an in lieu fee to help support a public or privately funded restoration project, usually at a regional scale. The first option, creating a wetland or other type of habitat to mitigate effects on the piece of land that will be developed, can be done on the client's property or on another piece of land 32
that WRA can help identify. If a client's land has a lot of habitat or species issues, WRA may suggest putting a conservation easement on the land rather than developing it. Clients can then sell credits for their conservation efforts, often at a considerable profit. This is known as a mitigation bank. The credits can then be bought by others needing to mitigate impacts associated with their projects. Others choose to pay an in lieu fee, says Tanner. "Right now many of our clients are donating their money to the South Bay Salt Pond restoration in the southern portion of San Francisco Bay that is being implemented by the US Fish & Wildlife Service and other agencies." When both Tanner and the client are comfortable with the plan, Tanner applies to the Army Corps of Engineers, state water board, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife for the necessary permits. "Some projects go on forever," Tanner says. "I am working on a wetland restoration project in LA right now that has been going on since the early 1980s. They proposed something and it went through years of environmental review and years of litigation and then they
proposed something else and that will eventually get reviewed and litigated. I don't expect to see that wetland restored in my lifetime." Delays such as these leave Tanner concerned about the implications of his work. "A lot of what we do facilitates development, which is not something that I ever thought I would end up doing. We always mitigate for habitat, but sometimes habitats take years to be restored or created, and if the habitat is being taken up faster than it can be restored or created, you are still at a net loss—the plants and wildlife that use those habitats have to go somewhere." And yet, he continues, "I have to remind myself that development is going to happen one way or another, and the work that we do helps people to develop in a more responsible way. We help people avoid sensitive resources and species, restore impacted land, and protect habitat in perpetuity. Sometimes all at once, sometimes just one at a time." ••••••• Julia De Santis '12 is living in the San Francisco Bay area, working with people with Alzheimer's, and planning further studies in the medical field. COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
Students in the Field Students at College of the Atlantic often find their way to fieldwork at the start of their studies. The following three projects have the weight of graduate work, though the students began their research by their second year. For Rachel Sullivan-Lord '14, that work became her senior project; the work of Ian Medeiros '16 will be published this summer; and the research by Anneke Hart '16 could become her senior project—but like many a human ecologist, she is also pulled in other directions. —DG
THE TOXINS IN OUR MIDST: Rachel Sullivan-Lord '14 By Katie O'Brien '15
Above: Rachel Sullivan-Lord '14 collects seal scat once the seals have slithered off the rocks of COA's research station on Mount Desert Rock. Right: A gull chick peeks into a crevice. Photos by Rachel Sullivan-Lord.
Rachel Sullivan-Lord '14 fell in love with life on Mount Desert Rock her first year at COA, when she visited MDR's Edward McC. Blair Marine Research Station, twenty-five miles offshore. She longed to spend more time in its isolated beauty; she also realized that "nothing really, that I knew of at the time, had been done on contaminants at MDR—and there's a lot going on out there." While mercury in seabirds has been examined in the Bay of Fundy and along the Maine coast, Rachel discovered that it hadn't been tested as far offshore as MDR. "It's important to know what toxins are there." For her senior project, Rachel spent the summer and fall of 2012 living on MDR to research levels of methylmercury in seals and gulls. Methylmercury is formed when mercury, an inorganic element, gets COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
into an aquatic environment and is converted to an organic form; this highly toxic substance can be—and is—readily absorbed into living tissues. Rachel continued collecting samples while working on the college's M/V Osprey in 2013. To find the mercury levels in seals, Rachel collected scat, heading to their haulout rocks about an hour before high tide, when the seals would have just left the ledges. She put each sample in a plastic bag—and then into a second bag, because, she says, "They stink so much!" For the gulls, Rachel collected blood samples once each year, relying on two helpers, "holding chicks carefully and making a tiny pinprick on a small blood vessel on the inside of the wing and collecting a very small amount of blood with a capillary tube." She also collected unsuccessful eggs from MDR, and was able to get additional eggs from students working on Great Duck Island.
The samples Rachel collected were sent to the Sawyer Environmental Chemistry Research Lab at the University of Maine. The results underscore the impact of mercury bioaccumulation. Though she found levels of only 0.01 to 0.02 micrograms per gram, wet weight, within the fish the seals were eating, the levels in the seal scat were as high as 0.08 to 1.4. And Rachel only tested what the seals excreted; as much as 60 percent of the mercury ingested by the seals remains stored within their bodies. This is extremely concerning, as even low doses of methylmercury can cause neurological and development damage. Notes John Anderson, faculty member in biology, "These amounts are an indicator of potential serious environmental contamination, both of mercury and other toxins that could affect survival and reproduction, and have implications for human health as well as that of other species in the Gulf of Maine."
When not collecting, Rachel sat in the lighthouse tower for hours at a time to see what the chicks were being fed by their parents, or prepared seal scat, washing it through a sieve to identify what had been eaten. Field research, she discovered, requires flexibility and careful planning, especially on MDR. "It's not an easy place to be. There's no running water, and transportation is not a guarantee. There's always a chance that a weather system could come up. On good weather days you can take the boat out or go up in the tower—but if it's too foggy you can't see anything from the tower." Rachel loved it all. "If I could stay on MDR for an entire year I would," she adds. "I am a field biologist most definitely. I knew that before I went to MDR and that has only fueled my love of it."
The depressing part, says Rachel, "is that you can find mercury even in the middle of the ocean. It's there and has been there for a while, and is not just a result of human activities in the Gulf of Maine, but the whole planet." Mercury wafts in on the wind and rain from coal plants and waste 33
incinerators in the Midwest, has been dumped into the Penobscot and other rivers by Maine industries, and travels along ocean currents from far afield. "And there isn't an easy way to clean it up," Rachel adds. But she also found it fascinating that there are differing levels of mercury in different tissues of the gulls and seals. This, she says, "can provide insights into the food webs around our islands and how organisms store toxins and get rid of them."
She sees her work as the beginning. She'd like to see similar contaminant research become part of field season protocols on both Great Duck and MDR. "It is relatively simple science to do," she says. Much can be done by observing what the seals eat, and taking tissue samples. "Our long-term data collections on the islands are really important to understanding the ecological processes over time; repeating these contaminant studies over several years could be an important addition."
Rachel Sullivan-Lord '14 holds a vial of blood drawn from the wing of a seagull on Mount Desert Rock.
IDENTIFYING LICHEN: Ian Medeiros '16 By Donna Gold, with research by Katie O'Brien '15 of different chemicals, you have to be in the field and the lab. Most fieldwork, in fact, is a dance between on-site research and the lab." In botany, the field is where you find the samples, and intuit what might be rare or even new.
At age 19, as a second-year student, Ian Medeiros '16 is the lead author of a study that documents not one, but four lichen never before documented in New England, along with the first modern recording of three additional lichen species in New England, and the first modern recording of another species in Maine. Ian's dedication recently earned him a coveted Goldwater scholarship—one of only three awarded to Maine students. Ian's lichen work may have begun in the field—but it required a lab for completion. Lichens can be quite difficult to identify, requiring careful analysis of specific chemicals to ascertain the species. This is done through a method known as thin-layer chromatography, in a lab. "There are things you can't do in the field," says Ian. "If you want to understand why these lichens are producing hundreds 34
Ian came to COA for botany and soon became entranced by lichens. "I started noticing lichens everywhere and I became obsessed and still am. They're really cool to me because we don't know so much about them—and they're absolutely beautiful." Working with botany faculty member Nishanta (Nishi) Rajakaruna '94, Ian has been looking at rock outcrop lichens in Hancock County, especially sites with high heavy metal content. The lichens he identified come from two industrial sites on Deer Isle active in the mid-nineteen hundreds: Pine Hill, an old quarry, and the Callahan Mine, now a superfund site.
finding, says Nishi, "is significant as it contributes to our understanding of biodiversity in Maine and documents the importance of studying wastelands and barren sites otherwise ignored." As fascinated as Ian is by lichen, he's not fully sold on fieldwork. Having spent the summer of 2013 studying fire ecology in California, it took him months before he could overcome his precautions and step over a log again. "Even on campus, I'd find myself looking for rattlesnakes, it had become such a reflex. You pick up a lot of interesting habits in the field."
Ian's paper on the lichen identities, co-authored with Nishi and lichen specialist Alan Fryday of Michigan State University, has been accepted by Rhodora for publication this July. While Nishi frequently publishes with undergraduates as first authors, this is the first by a second-year student, indeed the first by a student not working on a senior project. The
Ian Medeiros '16 documented the first modern Maine appearance of Coccocarpia palmicola, found on Deer Isle's Pine Hill. A tropical species, it is also found in isolated localities along North Amerca's east coast as far north as Newfoundland. Above photo by Alan Fryday.
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GULL DISRUPTIONS: Anneke Hart '16 By Katie O'Brien '15
She continues, "Originally I was just looking at the difference between the rocky coastline and the field on Great Duck, and John was the one who suggested it would fit really well if I also compared it to Mount Desert Rock." Her data were able to quantify some of the observations that Lindsey had made. Annie measured the distance at which gulls nesting on the fields and the rocky shorelines of Great Duck, and also on the rocks of MDR, were disturbed enough to fly from their nesting area as she walked toward them. She also recorded other factors, such as the temperature, weather, even the primary color of her clothing.
Anneke (Annie) Hart '16 spent the summer of 2013 … well, disrupting gulls. Living out at the college's Alice Eno Field Research Station on Great Duck Island for six weeks, Annie wanted to know how humans impact gull colonies, and whether that impact varied depending on where the gulls were nesting. "I would pick a gull that I could associate with a specific nest and walk towards it until it flew. I'd then measure the distance from myself to its flying point." The research was designed by Annie with help from other COA students and biology faculty member John Anderson, who supervises student researchers on Great Duck each summer. Her study, which was presented at the University of New England's annual Northeast Undergraduate Research and Development Symposium in March, continued the work of Lindsey Nielsen '13, who hypothesized that gulls on Mount Desert Rock, which is 1/70 the size of Great Duck—and (as the name implies) all rock—would be tamer because the gulls were accustomed to human presence. Annie theorized that habitat would also be a factor. On Great Duck there are more opportunities for gulls to nest far from humans, and yet Annie says, "an increasing number of gulls have selected human-occupied areas to nest in."
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In addition to verifying and quantifying Lindsey's theory that gulls on MDR allow humans to come much closer than they do on Great Duck, Annie also found that "the flushing distance of gulls nesting on the rocky shoreline of Great Duck Island was significantly closer than that of gulls nesting in open field habitats." Annie believes that gulls on Great Duck's rocky shores allow humans to come nearer because the gull population there is more dense. This, she says, "may give individuals a sense of protection through numbers." That gulls on MDR have a closer flushing
distance than any gulls on Great Duck, even on the rocky shoreline, says Annie, "might indicate that their tameness is due not only to their dense population, but because they're more accustomed to humans." While the study indicates that gulls will reproduce despite human disturbances, Annie remains concerned; John as well. Nest surveys found more dead chicks within the nests of the "tamer" gulls on MDR than on Great Duck. "We are constantly concerned about our possible impact on our study species," says John. Future research might monitor the fledging success on both islands, as well as whether the gulls return to their nests year after year. Doing this research as a second-year student was both challenging and satisfying, says Annie. "Being selfdirected is difficult and something I think everyone should have to work on because it's good for your personal growth." As for the gulls, they got their own. "It's really messy work," says Annie. "You get pooped on a lot and hit in the head by angry momma gulls and papa gulls." And yet, she is hooked on fieldwork and birds. "I didn't go to the island a bird person but I left as one," she says.
Above left: Anneke Hart '16 stands at the lookout on top of the Great Duck Island light during the daily tower count, when students count birds and note the tide, visibility, and any oddities of the day, creating a continual record of activity on the island. Above: Gulls guard their chicks on the rocks of Great Duck Island. Photos by John Anderson.
APPLES Finding History in the Field Illustrations by Hannah Hirsch '16
It happens in stages. A tree here; a tree there. Your eye becomes attuned to those bearing apples, and the apple trees lead to historic farms and orchards written in layers on the landscape. Maybe it is the old apple tree held together by iron plates that you're seeing, the one planted by Marie Thérèse de Grégoire in her walled garden some time around 1798, when just a few dozen English families lived in the region and Marie Thérèse owned half of Mount Desert Island and much of Hancock County. That venerable old tree still stands today, nestled next to her house in Hulls Cove. Local historical fieldwork begins with seeking insights from within living memory, often captured through oral histories; then turning to census records, historical maps, and ephemera. In my class History of Agriculture: Apples, students record local agricultural history by documenting relict apple trees scattered around Hancock County in field journals. Only by scouring the landscape for the trees and their stories can we connect the human memories of the apples with the broader context of some two thousand different named varieties planted by Maine farmers. Visual documentation of the trees and their context is crucial; by doing so students capture the characteristics needed to identify rare species—and learn close observational skills and a range of other aspects of fieldwork. Already students have found the president, black twig, and nodhead varieties, as well as several others yet to be identified. —Todd Little-Siebold, faculty member in history
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KALOKAGATHIA By Jayson Bowles '17
An excerpt from a novel in progress, begun in Bill Carpenter's winter 2014 class, Starting Your Novel.
12/21/2013 I keep dreaming I'm trapped inside a kaleidoscope. It's different than any other dream I've ever had, and it's been going on for a while now. No idea how long exactly. There's no beginning or end to the place, just me, surrounded by a hexagonal mirror. There's a reflective floor and ceiling too. I seem to go on forever. I know I'm in a kaleidoscope because as soon as I've looked in every direction and seen that each is a mirror, things start to distort. Shapes, colors, and fractals all start to bend and mess with my reflection, each reflection in a different way, and it really confuses me. Not just a little bit of confusion, but a lot, the kind of confusion you could only get in a dream, if that makes any sense. I get this feeling, this really unshakable feeling, that no matter what I do, I will become whatever I look at. Like I don't exist at all, like I'm just bokeh, just random little blurred things of shape and light in the background of my own reflections. And then, sooner or later, I wake up. It always feels incomplete. The dream isn't a nightmare or anything, it's just I've been having this dream over and over and I don't know if it means something or doesn't. And it confuses me, enough to write this little journal. The hexagonal mirrors kind of remind me of the outward triple window at the gas station, but I don't know. At the same time it doesn't really remind me of anything at all. I need to put this down and get ready for work. 12/28/2013 Seven more dreams exactly the same. Seven more nights of exactly the same bullshit at work. I know this journal was for dreams, but I am desperate to vent right now. Paul, that fat bastard, gets on my last nerve. When he smokes in the camera room and 38
listens to shitty Europop we're fine, but every single time he comes up front for whatever stupid reason, we get into an argument over the most asinine stuff. Today he got all up in my face because I didn't see some guy who stole some Doritos. I don't even think anyone stole them, I just think that one individual bag fell off the truck when we were unloading or something, so we were one short. Then he starts accusing me of stealing the Doritos, like what the hell, I don't even like 'em. Then he says I'm a liar and that I love Doritos. I just don't get this guy. I think he likes conflict or something. He never even reprimands me or fires me either, just always complains at me. Man, on those nights when he's not there, it is sublime. So, so sublime. So long as no one robs the place, but I mean that doesn't happen much. It'll be pitch dark outside and the white and fake bulbs will flare out into the night, and like moths to the flame people from all around with all different agendas come to the gas station. Oh man, I make it sound so noble, but on nights when you're pretty plastered, it's pretty noble. And you know there really is a romance to it between the humdrum dealings with friendly-enough neighborhood regulars and the random drifter. In those silent moments in between the slow stream of customers, the coincidences of the night happen. One car arrives on the side, parks, but no one leaves. Another, after a time, arrives, parks beside it, and people exit and enter. I am aware of it but I don't see it, don't pay attention to it. One leaves, then another, or sometimes, one stays a while and more come and go. Those can be pretty dangerous. Stray gunshots, intentional gunshots, stabbings, and that's before the police get involved. It doesn't happen much, but it's
happened, so I'm on my guard. Happens enough that I'm happy to see familiar faces. I am sure as hell always happy to see Rudy. Rudy, my man, the old, fat sack of crap that comes in every single night, I shit you not, and always gets the same off-brand hundred-proof booze and the same package of thick and husky cigars. He's real scraggly and always wearing tacky old sweaters and horrible cheap cologne. That doesn't do him justice, though. Rudy is the kind of guy who will sneak up behind some guy robbing the place, knock him out with a forty, help you hold the guy down while the police take an eternity to show up, and then smoke with you after your shift is over to help you de-stress. To quote something my dad once said about somebody else, "He's a tengallon man in a one-gallon body." Paul would drive me crazy if Rudy wasn't around to help me out. He tells a lot of stories, apparently he's exmilitary from 'Nam or something like that. I've hung out with him once or twice, and he's so relaxed, it's weird. I thought he'd be a really pent-up kind of guy, but he just seems to coast on life, kind of like a car with its lights off coasting into the empty desert. He doesn't really take anything seriously, which is one of the reasons I like him so much. He's always the first regular to show up, and I'm always happy to see that good old guy. Oscar, the next guy, is a little different. Me and Oscar have one of those kind of acquaintanceships where there's kind of a median of awkwardness that prevents us from merging, if that makes any sense. He probably wouldn't understand what I meant just there. Despite that barrier we get along well enough. He always comes in this stark, burnt-orange Dodge Challenger with dual black COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
Photo by Bill Carpenter.
racing stripes and xenon lights and spinners on the rims, and huge bass speakers, and all that stuff. I've only seen him race like once or twice, even though he shows up to the station way more regularly. He's alright I guess, I mean I'm not a street racer or anything. It's interesting trying to talk to him, trying to somehow circumvent our block in communication. He can be pretty entertaining. He always gets the same things too: gum and a NOS energy drink, I guess because he either has a good sense of irony or is oblivious. A lot of our conversations are about who is which at what time, really. I think he usually gets one over on me, which troubles me because he has highlighted spiked hair and wears Hawaiian shirts. Who am I on the totem pole of life if I have ironic duels with that kind of guy? There must be something magical about the fluorescent glow that the gas station has at night because it seems to magnetically attract crazy people. COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
Yvette is one of the more consistent of the crazies. She's always wearing a neon-yellow reflector jacket; I have no idea where she got it. She's always talking to me about love, different kinds of love, ancient Greek love, Christian love. She's real eccentric. She's always coming in and getting chocolate malt balls and tea. She's got a damn good sense of taste, despite being crazy. I have no idea where she goes, but she always seems to be hanging around, so I don't guess she goes too much of anywhere. Whenever she has those rare moments of lucidity she's pretty interesting to talk to. She seems to know a lot, but I have to help her a lot as well. I talk to her while she rambles and even though I'm not too sure what we're talking about most of the time, she seems to enjoy it. I've helped her on her way to the shelter a couple of times when I saw Paul snoozing like the fat lard he is. If he ever saw me help her I would never hear the end of it. There's not much to say about her,
and there's not much to write about her either, I think, but regardless of that I still think of her often and I wish to know her like a friend, like she really is. Geoff is kind of a weird guy. He doesn't ever say much, and he's always pacing and walking back and forth. He's got a lot of nervous tics, like scratching his neck and throat, and sniffing, and blinking hard. It may seem like I have a huge complex about the details of this guy, but I assure you, you only need to be near him once to have all those details imprinted on you. He's always buying menthol cigarettes, mint gum, cough syrup, chocolate milk, devil cakes, cupcakes, and stuff like that, which I think is a little crazy because he's as skinny and pale as a candy cigarette. He's a pretty good customer, according to Paul who is always on me to be extra nice to him and to encourage him to just empty his pockets. Seems kind of rude to 39
me, but what do I know? A lot of the interactions between me and Geoff revolve around some kind of awkward stare. And then whenever the stare is broken I feel like he is boring into me with his bulging and unrelenting eyes. His eyes are terrifying. Huge, off-white, slightly yellowing orbs crisscrossed by a squiggly grid of bloodshot vessels. I always tense up real bad whenever he shows up, he really freaks me out. He's way too frisky and sketchy for my liking. I don't think he's really going to do anything, and I've never had to swat him away or anything like that. He just looks like he's always about to do something. The dude who usually shows up after Geoff ends up skittering away is actually a chick who calls herself Boozi. If Geoff likes cough syrup, Boozi fucking loves it. She comes late in the night and practically gets gallons of the stuff. She's really chill, she talks very softly and slowly and you sort of have to strain on and listen to every word. Her pupils always seem to be dilated and her eyes are very deep and darkly colored. To be honest, I really want to hang out with her, as a friend, you know, but I don't really talk to her outside of whenever she brings stuff up to the cash register. I feel like I would disturb her, which is a weird thing to say, but it really feels that way. Just getting her name ended up making me feel like it was some terrible crime on my part. It was so long and drawn out, her hearing my question, processing it, and responding. She just seems to experience life in a more drawn out and expanded lens. We're able to interact, but only in a passing way. I might get around to actually talking to her eventually, but right now I don't. Man, I've really digressed. I feel so much better, though. I'm off tomorrow, so I think I will write some more and get this stuff off my chest. 12/29/2013 Before I go much further, it might help to describe my room a bit. There's my mattress, right in the 40
center of the floor. Near where I lay my head is where I usually keep my wallet, phone, lighter, pipe, that stuff. Standing up at the foot of my bed and facing away, there's a partition in the right corner behind which is the very closely coupled shower/toilet pair. No sink, that's in the kitchen. The whole kitchen is kind of fucked. The checkerboarded tile, with its slightly worrying sheen of dust and grease, is littered with these big, white-painted, wood, pantry-sized cabinets. I don't use the kitchen much, not even to store booze. I have a couple of ice chests I keep full of ice around my room that keeps the booze as well as the rest of the room kind of chilly, so that I have to layer under all my blankets to get warm, just the way I like it. On the parallel side of the kitchen there is a row of three weird, small, square windows that have a wonderful view of a wall, a pillar, and a part of the track of the above-ground subway. That damn subway has been a pain more than once. It always comes at the worst time, like when you're trying to admire what little beauty you can from the dingy and dinky-ass window. Today, like on all of my days off, I woke up in my apartment. This day I woke sort of early, around three p.m. My laptop was on and it hummed from its perch on my chest, and I could feel that it had really overheated me, so I kind of shoved it off. Lying on my mattress I smoked a couple of bowls before I showered, got dressed, and went out to get some food. I got a taco at a taco van. I didn't pay much attention to it; I was more concerned with the building in front of me. It was all glass windows, and I don't know if this was part of the intention in its design, but it angled the lighting from the sunset perfectly. It was golden, pinkish, and fiery, and there were clouds stacked in rows and rows on top of each other, and to be honest, it looked like a wall cloud. The sun seemed like it was moving down below the clouds, but not the horizon, and the clouds it hid behind
were lit up from the back with the warmth of the sun. I didn't look at the sky itself while I was watching this; I was watching the somewhat darkened reflection on the building's windows. I think, in a way, I was enjoying the beauty of the sun, but if I was asked, I think I would say I was looking at the buildings, because that was what I was literally looking at. I came back after the walk and smoked a couple more bowls, and then started sipping off of a forty. I was enjoying myself pretty well, but all of a sudden I remembered what originally made me pick up this book and start writing in here today. All the usual stuff happened in the dream, but this time the ending was highlighted and expanded. There was a floating puddle and I moved to it as if a chain hooked my heart and pulled me toward it. I felt a powerful haze fall over me the closer I got near it, and once I got close enough, I dunked my head into the puddle like I was bobbing for apples. I didn't drink or inhale, I sucked in, and it coated my throat, my stomach, and my lungs like a thick, dark, sugary, licorice, liquid Robitussin. I could feel it oozing into the cracks of my brain, feel it unknot and unwind all my pent-up muscle fibers and all my clung-onto energy. I didn't think it was strange that I started to want to dream while already inside my own dream. My vision and my perceptions got darker and darker, and then for a while all I remember is a comforting blackness. Not a regular blackness, like when you sleep but don't dream, but one with an enhanced sense of comfort, rest, and security; a relaxing blackness I could be content with for a nice, long rest. It felt a little more complete. I'm not really sure what it means. It was alright though, I feel incredibly rested today. If, to be rested every day, I have to have incredibly confusing dreams, I think I'd be okay with that. If I'm not smoking or drinking, or out getting some of either, I'm on COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
the Internet. The Internet, smoking, drinking, each is fun in their own way, but I think they are funnest when they are used as a distraction. I'm in that state of mind right now, with heady smoke in my lungs and malty drink in my mouth. God only knows what I'd do if I didn't have one of them, let alone all of them. I'm in that state of mind where I can even admit what I'm distracted from; where I can say with nostalgia, bitterness, and comedy that I don't have any friends. Kind of an exaggeration, I know, but I wouldn't even count Rudy as a friend of mine, or even my landlord, Thomas, who believe it or not is a decent human being. They're good guys, I'm not trying to give the impression that they're not. It's just that I don't really spend that much time with them outside of what I'm more or less obligated to, and whenever I do, I always feel like there is some missed connection. Rudy, for example, is always pretty funny and a good guy whenever he comes by the station, but when I went over to his place to smoke and drink once, he seemed very different. His house was kind of dark, and on the inside it looked a little like mine, except scaled up a bit, and he had an old box TV, and he also had some nice posters and stuff hung up on the wall, band posters and some nice drawings and paintings and stuff. Really, now that I think about it, his place didn't look too similar to mine at all, but I still feel like it did. I was surprised it was as nice as it was. He actually had a nice, old, authentic phonograph which he played some Creedence and some other old stuff on. He insisted I call it a phonograph, and not a record player. Sometimes he's real finicky about real small details like that, but it always comes across in a good-humored way. He always has this little glitter in his eye, hidden under the crags and cracks and folds of his weather-beaten face, that tells you what he's about to say isn't serious at all. He says it with a smile, a fake air of condescension, and an honest sense of irony and COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
self-appreciation. A little similar to Paul, but of course Paul always comes across in a really foul-mouthed and humorless way, probably because, from what I see, he never interacts with anyone at the store. Well, before I digressed so badly I was talking about me and Rudy smoking. So there we were, and we each smoked and drank for a while, and we ended up talking about dreams. Not the kind that I made this journal for, the Martin Luther King kind. He had asked me what my dreams were, and what I wanted to do with my life. I told him I didn't know, and I was glad that I was buzzed enough to be able to laugh at myself on the inside. I could feel the whole conversation, our whole relationship, slowly creep to a place more personal and more sealed off. He asked me if I was sure I didn't know, and I told him that, more or less, I was. We kind of sat there for a while in the darkness, lit only by a lava lamp. The wispy smoke slowly ascended in front of a poster with a giant pot leaf on it, then began dancing in what little light there was. It seemed to corkscrew and spin and twist and bend in the sliver of light. I said that I was kind of alright where I was, that I felt like things were going fine and I had no problem with how they were going and I wouldn't mind if they weren't interrupted for some time. Through highs or lows, I felt like this was an alright place in life, with not too much effort, and not too much pain. Just an alright place to cruise for a while and spread my wings. He said he understood that, and we sat quietly for a while. I asked him about his dreams. He said he had dreams to be a surgeon when he was a kid, but that he ended up not going to college and going to Vietnam instead. When he came back he got a job as a truck driver and he actually did quite well for himself there. Looking back on it, he says he doesn't regret not becoming a surgeon because the dream was mostly at his father's insistence. Now
he's in his retirement, taking things easy and not worrying about anything. When he took in a deep breath from his pipe, the red cherry burned brightly against the darkness. It looked like a strange glowing lunar eclipse over a vast black desert. When it faded, it looked like a dimming taillight. Just another dimming taillight out in the black desert coasting and darkening until it's gone and erased forever. Just cruising. Not too much pain.
‟Through highs or lows, I felt like this was an alright place in life, with not too much effort, and not too much pain. Just an alright place to cruise for a while and spread my wings." To be truthful, I don't know how much of the conversations between me and Rudy were exactly communicated that night. I was definitely under the influence, and so I remember more general impressions of things than what actually happened. I know though, that at some point during that night me and Rudy both sort of came to understand our places in each other's lives as sort of a center point of camaraderie, which at the same time disappointed both of us. We still joked around and laughed at the gas station after this, but we always left it there. Each time I see him now I feel a fainter and fainter tinge of pain. Each time it gradually fades away as the memory slowly slips from my mind like an unbound sheaf of papers in front of a weak but determined wind. It's only ever in moments like here and now, alone and somehow seeing unshakable reality through all the distortions, that I'm able to look back and remember that strange moon with no one to watch it. ••••••• For the ancient Greek, Kalokagathia was the spirit of nobility and goodness. 41
Poetry By Sarah Haughn '08
flat flat the corn barrens each november severed back, boneplucked
iyou and the force field we constitute our bodies turned to fringe singed edgeward
pale sidewinding winds couple against the skyclose sprawl of starch
didn't we always suspect this was coming
stalks rakish at the horizon before the rains and the unfettered soil frets upward in cyclonic heaves
haven't i, haven't you only ever been present at the heat bitten peripheries
but now the sky flat chalk monochrome
alone until now with our singular suspicions
and who will remember the apparition of such a stillness far off beyond the distance of acres the dusty smoke unsettles form from form
flintstock the archive you wrote we've only ever been edges you ou oui
and who but now with our interiors reflects this swirling sweep of waste the all of us as we wend machinelike, wintercut
o, agony sudden root finger flame saying i, i, i
in the raw thrall or smoldering wound of it.
Sarah Haughn '08 is pursuing her master's in creative writing at the University of California, Davis.
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Alumni Music Albums Caleb Davis '02, guitarist with Coke Weed Back to Soft, 2013 Nice Dreams, 2012 Volume I, 2011 Coke Weed's latest album was featured on National Public Radio's World Cafe in July, 2013 and hit Rolling Stone's top-ten list the following September. Aaron Jonah Lewis '05 Corn Potato String Band, 2014 Recordings On Honest-To-Goodness Wax Cylinder, 2014, by Roochie Toochie & The Ragtime Shepherd Kings Galax, NYC, 2013, with the Square Peg Rounders Route 77, 2012, by The Froggy Mountain Boys Wild Hog, 2012, with Thomas Bailey Taking Razzer to the Tinkers, 2011, with Ed Hicks Aaron, a multi-instrumentalist, appears on recordings from bluegrass to classical Turkish. Matt McInnis '09, vocals and acoustic guitar with Sea for Miles Sultans So Old So Cold, 2014 The debut album of a musical collaboration between Matt, as songwriter, and producer Michael McInnis. Writes Matt, "Seek creaky docks and beaches covered in snow. Find solace in long and dusty train rides and the feeling of salt on your skin."
Brooke Brown Saracino '05 Architecture, 2010 Quiet, thoughtful music by Brooke, a singer-songwriter who describes herself as western Massachusetts meets San Francisco.
Robby Simpson ('05) Traveling Without Weapons, 2013 An Americana album with nods to old country and bluegrass, and a steady thread of rock throughout.
Matt Young '93, playing harmonica and mandolin with The Ghost of Paul Revere Believe, 2014 North, 2012 The band is described as a "masterful amalgamation of bluegrass, folk, and gospel," proving that "superior roots music can come from anywhere."
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ALUMNI N O T E S 1980
This past year Ruth Hill and spouse John Brooks launched their family business, Brooks Boats Designs, in a new direction: creating an easy-tobuild sailboat kit designed especially for kids and adults learning to sail. With their four school-aged children, they built Zip, the first DragonFlyer, and took the boat to the Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors show in Rockland, ME. The first batch of DragonFlyer kits was delivered this spring, and one will be built at WoodenBoat School's family week in August. Ruth is back to writing more, including an article for Professional Boatbuilder and a marine natural history piece for Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors.
Glenon Friedmann started Bar Harbor Community Farm, now in its fifth year of production. Recently, Rose Avenia joined her in the purchase of a historic farm preserved with an agricultural easement. This season, Robin Owings '13, Chris Monahan '13, and Nadia Kasparek '15 will also join the crew of farmers. Glenon completed MOFGA's Journeyperson Program and reads herself to sleep learning about soil chemistry.
Beth Heidemann, a kindergarten teacher in Cushing, ME, was honored for her teaching with a prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science, the
nation's highest honor for teachers of mathematics and science. She is known for her project-based learning experiencesâ€”a recent class worked with the town recycling committee to collect data, create public service announcements, and publish a book. Upon receiving the award she commented, "I hope the award provides validation of this type of work and serves as inspiration to
colleagues to pursue the wonderfully messy work of real learning." While in DC Beth visited Congresswoman Chellie Pingree '79.
Christie Denzel Anastasia is now deputy chief of interpretation at Acadia National Park, moving to Mount Desert Island after holding several positions within the national park system, most recently at Alaska's Denali National Park and Preserve. At Acadia she will focus on partnerships, visitor experiences, and communication. Her ongoing passion is to connect people to their parks for transformative experiences that anchor values conducive to healthy minds, bodies, and ecosystems. Christie is living in the Beech Hill area and is looking forward to reconnecting with the COA community, the winter sun, and much warmer temperatures.
Taj Chibnik received an MBA in sustainable management from
Presidio Graduate School and is now a business analyst at Bay Area Installations, a small company in California.
Darrin Kelly was promoted to special uses permit administrator with the Tongass National Forest in Alaska. He writes, "I have moved to Juneau, AK from Sitka with my amazing wife, Megan Gahl, and sons Finnan, 4, and Cormac, born in February. We look forward to more exploration of the wonders of southeast Alaska and would love visitors from Maine and beyond."
Jason Harrington was awarded tenure and promoted to associate professor in the Department of Media Arts, Sciences, and Studies at Ithaca College. Jim Kellam has been awarded tenure and promoted to associate professor of biology at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA. He says he couldn't have done it without his friends and colleagues, and he is indebted to COA for giving him a firm academic foundation, opportunities to grow in self-confidence, and handson experience through field trips and internships. Jim recently had two research papers accepted for publication and he has been granted a sabbatical leave in spring 2015 to pursue a study on woodpecker nesting behavior.
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Ryan Boduch and his wife, Kristine, welcomed their first son, Benjamin Caden Boduch, on Feb. 27. After many years of planning travel for friends, family, and herself, Tracey Teuber Winger has opened Unraveled Travel (unraveledtravel. com). As a travel agent, Tracey can help people with independent excursions, travel with pets, as well as cruises and package tours. tracey@ unraveledtravel.com.
Hannah Fogg writes, "Jon, our son, Ashtee, and I are living in Portland, ME. We just welcomed our second baby, Anouk, into our family in February. We're always dreaming of how to make our home and life more ecologically sound and sustainable, and have been steadily growing our knowledge of permaculture, planting a food forest, and thinking about how to rely more on homesteading and buying locally. Sending love to all." Josie Sigler Sibara received a $25,000 National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and an Elizabeth George Foundation grant for her novel-inprogress, The Flying Sampietrini, set in Rome during World War II. Josie's spouse, Jennifer, has recently accepted a tenure track job at Colby College. Josie writes, "We are really looking forward to spending more time in Maine!"
Tori Lee Jackson has been promoted to associate professor and granted tenure at UMaine Cooperative Extension. She works as an agricultural and natural resource educator in the Androscoggin and Sagadahoc office.
Blair Currier, local foods specialist with the Portland school district, received recognition in both The Forecaster and the Bangor Daily News this winter. Blair has transformed the lunch menu, developed partnerships,
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and shifted production at a new central kitchen. Under Blair, the district has doubled its use of local produce. One source is the family farm of Carolyn Snell '06. Students also have a chance to taste and evaluate different foods—including seaweed. The BDN story was on just that: students taste-testing seaweed as a pizza topping. Finn and Drake (Windsor) Pillsbury '03 moved to Phoenix, AZ from Las Cruces, NM in November so Finn could take a job as a science teacher at Scottsdale Preparatory Academy. Finn says, "It is a far different life than that of a research ecologist, but one that has been simultaneously exhilarating and exhausting." Drake is continuing her career as an illustrator, currently producing a narrative nonfiction story set in the Chihuahuan Desert. Their children, Hawkes, 7, and Libby, 3, are enjoying their southwestern adventure, Arizona being the third state they have lived in.
Chrystal Seeley-Schreck started her fourth year with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in a new role, as education leader for The MacKenzie Center. She is responsible for designing and leading new programs focused on environmental education and outdoor skills. She writes, "my wife, Heather, and I got married two years ago in Wisconsin, even though it wasn't (and still isn't) legal in this state. In September, we crossed the border into Iowa and were legally wed just outside the Dubuque courthouse in the old jail yard! Marriage equality, one state at a time."
At 4:40 a.m. on Feb. 28, Brianne (Press) Jordan, husband, Brian, and big sister Amelia, welcomed Cheyenne Presley Jordan into the world. She was 7lb. 4oz. and 20" long.
The law firm of Bernstein Shur announced that Eben Albert-Knopp was named 2013 Pro Bono Attorney of the Year by the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project. He was chosen for his tireless work on several ILAP cases, in particular advocating for more than four years before the Immigration Court in Boston, MA on a complex asylum matter involving a Rwandan client.
Allison Rogers Furbish started 2014 as energy program assistant at Vital Communities, a nonprofit in Vermont, where she works on the "Solarize Upper Valley" campaign to help make solar energy more accessible. She also became founding editor of The Lebanon Times, a quarterly, good news only newspaper serving Lebanon, NH, and completed her MBA in sustainable business at Green Mountain College. "A decade after graduating from COA, I'm excited about how the human ecological approach continues to inform my education, career, and life—and helps me tie them all together in a balanced, holistic way,"
ALUMNI SUPPORT MAKES A DIFFERENCE
she says. Allison lives in Canaan, NH with husband, Shawn, and Amelia, 4; and loves spending time with wonderful fellow COA alumni.
Anais Tomezsko and Noah Scher recently welcomed their first child, Emma Grace Scher, to the planet. The three live in Colorado under the steady gaze of Mt. Sopris. Anais runs the non-profit end of a legal aid agency and Noah co-owns a small gardening company. They are thrilled to be new parents and have enjoyed recent visits from fellow alums.
Peter Moon ’90 and his stepdaughter, Lauren Broomall ’09. Photo courtesy of Peter Moon.
Peter Moon ’90
Marjolaine Whittlesey writes, "I'm loving life in Portland, ME, where I juggle several jobs, my favorite being an intern at the Telling Room, a non-profit writing center. In the evenings I'm back on stage: this spring I get to indulge in the verbal thrills of Shakespeare while exploring the embodied storytelling world of physical theater. Come to PortFringe in June to see a show!"
2006 “In a world growing ever more polarized into simplistic and passionate extremes, I can’t imagine a better medicine than a COA education. It’s been more than thirty years since I first set foot on campus and started studying the complex challenges of our earth in a more integrated way, searching across disciplines for deeper insights. It’s a difficult path without simple, certain answers. But with every new graduate there are more of us to take up the challenge and our collective chance of success grows.” “To this day, I’m amazed at how relevant and influential my COA experience was in preparing me for the life I lead. The more people who can share that experience and benefit from those same tools, the more reason I have to be optimistic, to think that we will make the right choices to build a better world for our kids. I think that’s a pretty good reason to support COA.” 46
Mihnea Tanasescu has several recent publications, including "The Rights of Nature in Ecuador: The making of an idea" in International Journal of Environmental Studies and "Rethinking Representation: The challenge of nonhumans" in the Australian Journal of Political Science. His daughter, Lavinia, was born Oct. 14, 2013. "She is just lovely," he writes.
Kayla Hartwell is in the third year of a PhD in anthropology at the University of Calgary. Since 2008 she has been studying a wild population of spider
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monkeys at Runaway Creek Nature Reserve in Belize. The main focus of her dissertation research is to better understand the factors that influence the unique association patterns of spider monkeys. An article about her work, "Spider Monkey Society is Sexually Segregated," appeared online in New Scientist. It was based on her own article in the International Journal of Primatology. She writes, "I hope to finish school within the next year or so and move to Belize to continue my research. Come visit me!"
In August, Neith Little received a master's in soil and crop sciences from Cornell University. She has been working at Hampshire College as their food, farm, and sustainability specialist since 2012. Hannah Stevens earned a master's of library and information science from Simmons College in Boston with a focus on preservation management.
AfterÂ developing book preservation and conservation skills as the second Gaylord Brother Preservation Intern atÂ Syracuse University's Bird Library, she moved back to Bar Harbor and began work at the Northeast Harbor Library in October 2012 as their first professionally trained archivist. She writes, "I have been making great strides in the archive and library!"
Laci (Lee) Mitchell married Brendan Mitchell on Oct. 12, 2013. Jeanee Dudley was maid of honor, Alyson Bell a bridesmaid, and Laurel Feeser an usher. Elena Piekut '09, Jason Bosworth, and Elizabeth FisherBruns attended. "We wore orange wristbands in honor of my dad who passed away less than two weeks before the wedding," Laci writes. "In the last year we moved from South Dakota to Chicago and then back to New York. I am working for the Firemen's Association of the State of New York and taking improv classes.
Needless to say I'm happy with not moving for a while!"
Matt Shaw's video, A Listening Air, premiered at the Binghamton Student Experimental Film Festival in November. He completed an MFA in moving image from the University of Illinois at Chicago this spring.
This coming fall, Nick Harris will begin a PhD in microbiology at the University of California, Berkeley.
Craig Ten Broeck Heads Home After nearly nine years overseeing sustainability at COA, Craig Ten Broeck, COA's inaugural David F. Hales Sustainability Coordinator, is retiring. Craig has had a thirty-year career in policy and planning, working in conservation, agriculture, and environmental protection, mostly in Maine's state government. In 2004, after leaving government, Craig through-hiked the Appalachian Trail, then took on COA. "For nine years Craig has worked tirelessly to reduce COA's carbon emissions, improve energy efficiency on campus, source sustainable building materials and products, get the Peggy Rockefeller Farms going, and make Beech Hill Farm more sustainable," says COA President Darron Collins '92. "He has been essential in enhancing our efforts to step up to our commitment and reputation as an environmentally sustainable institution." Lisa Bjerke '13, who came to COA passionate about eliminating waste, worked closely with Craig. "I especially appreciate how he encouraged student engagement," she writes from India, where she is on a Watson Fellowship (see page 10). "Even though he had limited resources, he managed to support student efforts and was key to our institutional memory regarding carbon emissions." Adds David Hales, COA's former president, "I admire Craig for so many reasons, but I couldn't say enough about his integrity. This is a man who lives what he believes." We all join Lisa in wishing Craig, "a wonderful future full of hiking and environmental work," as he heads back to his central Maine home.
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COMMUNITY N O T E S When NYC's Time-Out magazine surveyed top animators for opinions on the best animation films, Nancy Andrews, arts faculty member, was among those queried. As a participant in the 2013 deCordova Biennial in Lincoln, MA, Nancy was asked to join the Biennial Book Club, selecting a book that shaped her work. She chose The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells. A podcast of an interview with Nancy was broadcast on WICN. Nancy's films were recently screened at Northern, The Olympia All Ages Project in Washington, and she gave a TEDx Dirigo talk on her work with Intensive Care Unit post-traumatic stress syndrome. Meanwhile, Nancy has received a three-week postproduction film residency at the Wexner Center in Ohio to complete her first feature film, The Strange Eyes of Dr. Myes.
Bill Carpenter, faculty member in literature and creative writing, read from his poetry and work in progress at the Stockton Springs Community Library. In January, Ken Cline, David Rockefeller Family Chair in Ecosystem Management and Protection, was invited to participate in the inaugural meeting of ALPINE (Academics for Land Protection in New England) at the Harvard Forest in Petersham, MA. ALPINE brings together teachers and researchers from prestigious New England schools to see how higher education can directly impact regional land protection and conservation. Ken was also invited onto the implementation committee of the Keeping Maine's Forests coalition, a collaborative group working to ensure the vitality of the forest products industry while sustaining a healthy and intact forest ecosystem. Also involved are Sherry Huber, former trustee, and Ted Koffman, former COA summer programs director. The Ashley Bryan Center opens this summer on Islesford, ME with contributions by arts faculty member Dru Colbert, Danielle Meier '08, Eli Mellon '11, MPhil '14, Betts Swanton '88, and Josh Winer '91.
Following the June publication of anthropology faculty member Heath Cabot's first book, On the Doorstep of Europe: Asylum and Citizenship in Greece, with the University of Pennsylvania Press, Heath will be back in Greece on a Fulbright scholarship. She will serve as a visiting professor in the department of social anthropology at Panteion University in Athens during winter and spring terms, 2015, exploring how the expansion and intensification of civil society initiatives are impacting social ties and notions of community as Athenians navigate life under austerity. She will also echo her COA class, Ethnography, Advocacy, and Ethics, as a seminar. 48
Faculty member in political philosophy Gray Cox gave a talk at the University of Maine on "A New Paradigm of Ethics" for the philosophy department, and another on "Rogue AI, IBM's 'Smarter Planet' and other Existential Threats from Artificial Intelligence" for UMaine's Marxist Socialist Forum. He also spoke at a George Mason University conference on "A Conflict Resolution Paradigm for Ethics." Gray is the principal author of a pamphlet issued by the Quaker Institute for the Future on "Quaker Approaches to Research." Finally, Maclir, the Irish band Gray plays in, performed fundraisers at the Grand
Auditorium in Ellsworth, ME and at the Common Good Cafe on Mount Desert Island. Dave Feldman, faculty member in math and physics, taught a massive, open, online course, or MOOC, through the Santa Fe Institute. More than 5,000 students enrolled—a bit different from the 15 to 20 students typical in his COA classes. Dave's Chaos and Fractals textbook (see Spring 2013) was reviewed in the Newsletter of the European Mathematical Society by Durham University's Tom Ward as "an interesting and unconventional textbook. ... The fact that this material has been honed by real classes comes across clearly—the examples and explanations are invariably carefully thought out and clear."
Triple Pundit, a sustainable enterprise website, published an article on Strategic Sustainability by Jay Friedlander, Sharpe-McNally Chair in Green and Socially Responsible Business. Jay was also quoted in Entrepreneur and delivered papers at an academic conference on entrepreneurship in Texas and at the AshokaU social entrepreneurship conference at Brown University. Jay designed a business boot camp with Fair Food Network and a workshop at the Maine Sustainable Food Systems Forum. At COA, his Sustainable Strategies class consulted with Black Dinah Chocolatiers, MOO Milk, Acadia Corporation, and Mano en Mano, recommending improvements to the COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
enterprises' social, environmental, and financial performance. Sarah Hall, the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Chair in Earth Systems and GeoSciences, traveled to Newcastle, England to work with a colleague processing glacial moraine samples from Peru's Cordillera Blanca, and then to California's Lawrence Livermore National Lab to analyze the samples. Sarah also gave the talk, "Active Tectonics in the Peruvian Andes" at the University of Rochester in New York State. Biology faculty member Chris Petersen has received funding to work with students on two new projects this summer. As part of a National Science Foundation grant to a number of researchers from New Hampshire and Maine, two students will be looking into improving the science of how decisions are made for healthy beaches and clamflats on Frenchman Bay. As part of COA's National Institutes of Health INBRE funding, another student will study estuarine fish from the Goose Cove superfund site on Deer Isle where fish swim in water with high heavy metal toxicity. He continues to serve on the board of the Somes-Meynell Sanctuary, is chair of the Bar Harbor Marine Resource Committee, is a member of the INBRE steering committee, and is the vicepresident of Frenchman Bay Partners.Â
Nishanta Rajakaruna '94 served as a visiting scientist at the Institute of Fundamental Studies in Kandy, Sri Lanka during the winter term. He worked with a plant biologist and a geochemist on projects relating to COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
serpentine soil-plant relationships and on phytoremediation, the use of plants to clean contaminated soils, offering seminars at the University of Peradeniya on phytoremediation. He also visited regions of his homeland that he had never seen in preparation for a tropical ecology course in Sri Lanka he hopes to teach. For a list of Nishi's recent peer-reviewed publications, see his website at nrajakaruna.wordpress.com/ publications. Doreen Stabinsky, faculty member in global environmental politics, continues her active engagement in international climate change, agriculture, and biodiversity politics. At the UN climate negotiations in Warsaw, she served on a government delegation as a technical advisor on the issue of loss and damage, helping to establish the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage; Doreen later participated in the first meeting of the executive committee of the mechanism. In December she was an invited speaker on climate change and biodiversity at the Multistakeholder Dialogue on Integrating Social-Ecological Resilience into the New Development Agenda, held in MedellĂn, Colombia. In February she was an observer at the meeting of the Green Climate Fund board in Bali. Davis Taylor, faculty member in economics, was joined by Molly Anderson, Partridge Chair in Food and Sustainable Agriculture Systems, and Ken Hill, academic dean, at Prescott College for the annual Eco League conference. Taylor chairs the faculty coordinating committee of the sixschool consortium. This conference followed a similar gathering in July at Alaska Pacific College at which Davis facilitated the development of a strategic plan to broaden student opportunities across the consortium. Sean Todd, Steven Katona Chair in Marine Sciences, traveled with Zack Klyver ('05), Alexandra Hill, MPhil '14, Rachel Sullivan-Lord '14, and Sara Golaski '13 to the 20th Biennial
Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals in Dunedin, New Zealand, supported by COA and Bar Harbor Whale Watch funds. Sara presented the poster "Seasonal occurrence of sei whales (Balaenoptera borealis) in the Gulf of Maine: An examination using passive acoustic monitoring of the Outer Fall region," which she coauthored with Sean, Jaqueline Bort, MPhil '11, and others; Alex and Zach also presented posters. In the photo
from the New Zealand conference are Scott Kraus '77, Sean Todd, Zack Klyver ('05), Jenny Rock '93, former Allied Whale research associate Harriet Corbett, Rachel Sullivan-Lord '14; front row: Alex Hill, MPhil '14, Allied Whale intern Nadia Ramirez, former Allied Whale research associates Paula Olson and Annie Zoidis, former COA faculty Mo Brown, and Sara Golaski '13. Sean returned to Antarctica in January and February aboard the M/V Hanse Explorer for three weeks as an invited guest and naturalist/guide. The expedition yielded a record-breaking 103 whale tail images for the Antarctic Humpback Whale Catalog, curated by Allied Whale. Karen Waldron, Lisa Stewart Chair in Literature and Women's Studies, chaired the literary ecology panel, America's Mythic Landscapes and Iconic Places: Human/Nature Intersections, at the Northeast Modern Language Association's annual conference in Harrisburg, PA in early April. She also presented a paper on the ecofeminist inclinations (before there ever was such a term) of Sarah Orne Jewett's representations of Maine. 49
In Memoriam Barbara Strachan Deering Danielson
Kirsten Stockman '91
Barbara Danielson lived her credo, "Live well, laugh often, love much." Abundantly generous, endlessly encouraging, her laughter, joy, and love were infectious, exemplifying what it means to live full of grace, integrity, curiosity, and with a deep appreciation for beauty.
During the month of March in Bulgaria there is a holiday to welcome spring called Baba Marta, in which red and white yarn Martenitsa dolls are hung in the trees. If you had ever passed Kirsten Stockman's house on Mount Desert Island in the spring you would have seen the trees in her yard adorned with red, welcoming the season. Kirsten not only noticed the beauty of the world around her, but celebrated it. In the spring, summer, and fall you would find her out in her garden, on her bike riding Acadia National Park's carriage trails, hiking with her girls, or swimming in one of the island lakes. In winter, she would be in the park on her skis whenever the snow was good.
February 19, 1947–December 2, 2013
A true human ecologist, Barbara embraced all opportunities and challenges with a sense of wonder and a passion for knowledge. Raised in Europe and the Middle East, she came to the United States as a teenager, obtaining degrees in military history from Hollins College, and interior design from Inchbald School of Design. Barbara worked for Hastings Design and the Greater Miami Opera, and became a director of her family's Miami Corporation. Centered in community, she served on numerous boards, including the Miami City Ballet as a founding member, the Dade-Monroe Mental Health Board as president, and the Women's Health Center in Bar Harbor. She also volunteered with Hospice of Hancock County. At COA, Barbara served on the board of trustees for eight years and helped to create the Deering Common Community Center. Her biggest gift, however, was her smile and presence. Barbara's Mount Desert Island home, Ithaca, became a sacred space through her vision, design, passion, and spirit. I had the fortune of living at Ithaca as caretaker; Barbara's presence in my daily life forever changed the way I'll see the world. During the growing season of 2013, I tended Ithaca's gardens with Alana Beard '03, Lindsey Nielsen '13, and lecturer Candice Stover. No matter what the weather, Barbara would emerge with her large glasses, wide-brimmed hat, and three dogs to say, "Put me to work." The air was filled with joy; laughter would sway with the wind; days would often end with Barbara uncorking a bottle of wine and insisting we take a moment by the shore. Barbara expressed to us that she had never been happier with the way Ithaca looked and felt; the land so alive with love. Since her passing, many have said that this was echoed in her spirit last year, it was, they said, the happiest they have seen her. I cherish this knowledge. When you next pass through Deering Common, or notice the dew in the morning sunshine, remember Barbara's credo and live well, laugh often, and love much.
March 9, 1968–December 13, 2013
Kirsten was an accomplished baker, home cook, food preserver, gardener, and homemaker. She was also a talented writer, and a great athlete and outdoor enthusiast. Kirsten was a loving daughter and sister, devoted mother and wife, and a loyal friend. She made many contributions to her community, among them opening Mother's Kitchen in Town Hill and founding the Maine Women's Balkan Choir. Kirsten loved to sing and dance and was a great folk dancer who knew many traditional dances. One of my favorite memories of her was the time she and her husband, Tom Crikelair, took my husband, Zach '00, and me to hear some friends play folk music in a crowded, summertime Bar Harbor restaurant. Soon Kirsten had taught most of those in the crowd a few dance steps, and a long line of people, hooked by the arms, were weaving in and out of the dinner tables, dancing, singing, cheering. If I were pressed to describe how Kirsten lived her life I would have to say she lived in a way that nourished her soul. Kirsten cherished her family and she loved being a mother to her girls and a wife to Tom. She filled her lifetime to the fullest with love and joy, with music and dance, with spending time with the people she loved, with enjoying the things she loved to do, and with celebrating the natural beauty in the world around her. May we all be so lucky to live a life so full. —Autumn Soares '01
—Courtney Vashro '99
Donald F. Brown, PhD
November 26, 1908–February 21, 2014 Having co-founded Boston University's anthropology department, and retired as a professor there, Donald taught archaeology and anthropology at COA in 1977, his daughter Alexandra Brown Conover Bennett's last year at the college. Says Alexandra, "He loved COA students' inquisitive minds and very much enjoyed his colleagues there."
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Toward a Literary Ecology: Places and Spaces in American Literature By Karen E. Waldron and Rob Friedman Scarecrow Press, Lanham, Maryland and Plymouth, United Kingdom, 2013 Karen Waldron, COA faculty member in literature and women's studies, and Rob Friedman, who teaches at the University of Washington, Tacoma, and directs its Institute of Technology, have edited a collection of essays exploring the interconnections between literature and the environment. The following is a brief excerpt from Karen's introductory essay.
Although, like all historical generalizations, the claim that the United States' nineteenth century was conflict-ridden, filled with change, and socioculturally both colonial and postcolonial, is of necessity a superficial one, it does enumerate and describe a set of nation-building and environmental circumstances that has real bearing not only for American Studies, where it has been aptly noted, but for the specific subject of this volume: literary ecology. The conflicts and challenges were bound up with and in environments, with and in the physical, material ecologies of the country, its places and landscapes, their geographical features, biotic and cultural inhabitants, worldviews, and aesthetics. As Zitkala-Sa points out excruciatingly in "The Soft-Hearted Sioux," a story depicting the inability of a missionized son to feed his ailing father by hunting in the old ways during a prairie winter—or as [Stephen] Crane depicts with the story of Maggie, who "blossomed in a mud puddle"—the human dramas of this period were grounded in the environment, the complex ecology of the human/ nature connection in places and spaces. That complex ecology is critical for literary study, especially of culture or nation: mere discussion of setting barely scratches the surface of what literary works portray and wrestle with when depicting the nature of places. Nature's meaning in the previous sentence is dual, even multiple, for good reasons: the term describes both physical surroundings and character, a force that is other and a force within, with one sense impacting the other in ways we constantly try to understand and categorize but will never know or be able to name completely. The nature of
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the mid-nineteenth-century United States included flora, fauna, climate, and geography; a history of colonization, revolution, slavery, and indenture; multiplying religious and ethnic communities; idealism and industrialism; divergent ideas of liberty and freedom, with all their contradictions; federalism versus republicanism; the legacy of revolution; the search for and use of natural resources ranging from cod to lumber to gold; enormous technological change; and all the built-in tensions of democratic culture. The places and spaces of the United States had many natures, both in the biological/scientific and sociopolitical senses—from desert to marshland, mountain to plain, city to country. This book argues that the nation's nature and the nature of its places and spaces must be considered through multiple dimensions that weave its physical and social ecologies together—economic, political, cultural, religious, but also geographic, environmental, biotic, and spatial. Such complex ecologies are seen, named, rendered, and imagined through vehicles including literature but also journalism, law and science, art and cartography, religious observances and kinship rituals, local folkways and nation-building cultural demonstrations. However, the methodological solution to grasping American places is not simply to take a cultural studies approach to American literature, if that approach leaves ecology and the landscapes produced by literary ecology behind. Ecocriticism has made that clear, especially for the twentyfirst century, when understanding of ecology is of evermore pressing importance to whatever "America" now means.
Ecology and Experience:
Reflections from a Human Ecological Perspective By Richard J. Borden, foreword by Darron Collins, COA president North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, California, 2014
"It has been said the range of human concerns is framed by two basic questions: 'What makes life possible?' and 'What makes life worth living?' Between these bounds lie the innumerable ideas and queries that have occupied human thought over the ages. Like all generations, we share in these essential questions. Unlike previous generations, we face the additional problems and challenges of our time."
A further goal is to convey a cautionary tale about what may be lost in not trying. At one level, I seek to offer an overview of the intellectual and institutional history of human ecology, along with various lines of thought relating to this perspective. The narrative also contains features of a personal memoir and in so doing
So begins this "philosophical and narrative memoir" by Rich Borden, longtime faculty member, former dean, and Society of Human Ecology founder. What follows are a few more passages from the beginning and end of this personal overview of human ecology, inspired by Rich's COA course, also titled Ecology and Experience. The Shape of Things to Come (excerpted from the preface) There is a tendency, especially in the academic world, to carve life into ever-smaller pieces in order to make sense of it. All too often, the people who do this come to believe that is how the world really is. Human experience has many levels. So does the natural world. Gathering from both realms gives rise to novel constellations. Attempts to bridge the mental and environmental arenas are risky. But rigid conventions and narrow views have their dangers too—especially when they obscure underlying connections or smother imagination. This book is a blend of themes and approaches based on a lifetime of interdisciplinary inquiry. My primary aim is to explore these intersections.
includes many people who have significantly touched my life along the way. Bringing the mirror of selfreflection into the mix was not without trepidation. I am hopeful the benefits outweigh the perils. Finally, this is an invitation to exercise our capacities for ecological insight, to deepen the experience of being alive, and most of all to enrich the whole of life. …
Coda (excerpted from the final chapter) … I expressed an aim in the preface to keep this book's narrative near the surface. It was not without the hope that some insights and intuitive connections might arise along the way. My outline was unconventional. The contents were a combination of academic fragments, bits of popular culture, personal recollections, and self-reflections. On the whole the pieces have wound together as a story of life— wrapped in a life story. The exercise has been satisfying and, by and large, I am where I hoped to find myself. We all have a ball of string. This was mine. I enjoyed the opportunity to prepare it and share it. My personal advice on this is clear: gather your memories; find the story; weave them together. A number of topics were left on the sidelines. I have made little mention of several large ones—most notably, questions of a higher power, spirituality, and the human soul. It is not that I don't have such concerns or appreciate their significance in the light of human affairs. But rather, it signifies an unknowing of where I stand in the welter of sacred interpretations. The fringe around the tapestry of creation escapes my cognizance and capability of expression. This world by itself is a wonder. The experience of being here, in celebration of the whole of life, is to make the most of it. When the time comes, as Patricia [my wife] paints it, "to go back into the soup," I am prepared to meet it as a homecoming. Everything else is mystery.
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Summer at College of the Atlantic 2014 CALENDAR OF EVENTS July
July 1 at 9 a.m. Coffee & Conversation The Original Champlain Society: Catherine Schmitt and COA's John Anderson on 1881 Champlain Society club logbooks.
August 5 at 9 a.m. Coffee & Conversation Botany of MDI: Linda Gregory ′89 and Acadia's Caitlin McDonough MacKenzie on wildflowers and climate change.
July 3 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Blum Gallery Opening Rows and Rows: Community, Pattern, and Landscape exhibit by Jennifer Judd-McGee (′92). July 8 at 9 a.m. Coffee & Conversation Heritage Apples in Maine: John Bunker, apple expert, and COA's Todd Little-Siebold on Maine apple history. July 14 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Beech Hill Farm 50 Shades of Green: Sherry Geyelin Luncheon with Serena Wolf, Domestic Goddess blogger. Reservations required. July 15 at 9 a.m. Coffee & Conversation Writing for Hollywood: Jenny Bicks talks about her work on Sex and the City and Men in Trees with COA's Jodi Baker. July 21 from 5 to 7 p.m. Book Talk An Evening with Dr. Steven Kassels: author of the mystery Addiction on Trial: Tragedy in Downeast Maine. Book signing. July 22 at 9 a.m. Coffee & Conversation Poetry in the Streets: COA's Candice Stover and MarySherman Willis, author of Graffiti Calculus, discuss poetry. July 24 from 5 to 7 p.m. Art Talk The Private Collector and the Curator: Building Drawing Collections in Chicago with Suzanne Folds McCullagh, Art Institute of Chicago curator and COA trustee. July 28 from 5 to 7 p.m. Art Talk Jennifer Judd-McGee (′92) talks with COA trustee Cody van Heerden, MPhil ′15 on Maine as inspiration. July 29 at 9 a.m. Coffee & Conversation Genome Research: Former COA president Steven Katona and biomedical scientist Nadia Rosenthal, COA trustee, discuss regenerative medicine, stem cells, human genome research.
August 7 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Family Fun Day Kid-friendly activities, food, animals, and games at COA's Peggy Rockefeller Farms. August 12 at 9 a.m. Coffee & Conversation Animal Planet's North Woods Law: COA's Ken Hill talks to Heeth Grantham ′94 and game warden Troy Thibodeau ′04. August 13 from 4 to 6 p.m. Art Lab Jennifer Judd-McGee (′92) offers an interactive collage and assemblage workshop for all ages. August 14 An Evening to Honor Polly Guth (and Launch the Fund for Maine Islands) With special guest, television journalist Bill Moyers. $250 per ticket, proceeds go to the Fund for Maine Islands. If you would like to be put on the invitation list, please call Amanda Ruzicka at 207-801-5625. August 18* from 5 to 7 p.m. History Talk (*DATE CHANGE) Lynn H. Nicholas, author of The Rape of Europa, on her research into Nazi art plunder and current ramifications. August 19 at 9 a.m. Coffee & Conversation Teaching English in Cambodia: Kate Baxter talks with COA's Gray Cox. August 26 at 9 a.m. Coffee & Conversation Malaga Island Controversy: COA's Dru Colbert and Maine State Museum curator Katherine McBrien discuss arranging an exhibit about this ill-fated interracial island.
COA also hosts these on-going summer events: •
Family Nature Camp
Summer Field Studies for Children
Summer Field Institute for High School Students
M/V Osprey Whale Watches
Many of our events are generously sponsored by The Champlain Society. For locations and other information, visit www.coa.edu/calendar, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-801-5625. COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE
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