Page 1


BOOTS AND BIBLES Cowboy Church of Virginia Saddles Up


CNN Correspondent Jim Acosta


Students Protestors 42 Years Later

curio JMU & THE VALLEY Volume 35, 2012

Executive Editors Amanda Caskey Beth Cole


Aaron Koepper

Managing Editor Grant Beck

Articles Editor Jordan Pye

Assistant Articles Editors Amber Logsdon Malissa Watterson

Art Editor

Megan Learn

Assistant Art Editor Kelsey Hanley

Photo Editor

Brandon Payne

LETTER FROM THE EDITORS Dear Readers, First and foremost, we want to thank all of you for your support in the production of this publication. We are grateful for our writers, photographers and editors who have worked to present a fresh perspective on some of the Valley’s most beloved features. From food trucks to farming, local restaurants to refugee resettlement, we provide readers with a glimpse of our diverse home, the Shenandoah Valley. These stories highlight the unique people and businesses that have come to define our culture. It’s truly a shame we couldn’t feature everything the Valley has to offer. We also focused our attention on what we think will benefit readers the most: the best hiking trails, profiles of local university students and alumni, sustainable efforts in the community and new restaurants and bakeries. Every profile tells of someone whose life was changed by being here, from a CNN correspondent starting out on his path to seven JMU protesters who stood up for their rights. The process of producing this magazine has been challenging at times but ultimately rewarding for our team, especially these three journalists. We would like to thank Dr. David Wendelken, professor Brad Jenkins and professor Dietrich Maune for their support in this process. We hope you enjoy this issue of Curio — both print and online — and continue to support its production in the future. Sincerely,

Assistant Photo Editor Chrissy Skutnik

Senior Editors Alyse DiNapoli Eric Wagner Zeta Dowdy Amy Curtis

Amanda Caskey

relations double major from Smithfield, Va. She has been a staff writer for The Breeze and editor-in-chief of The Bluestone. Amanda has held internships at Can of Worms Publishing in London, U.K. and Alice Marshall Public Relations in New York City. After graduation, Amanda will work as an Assistant Account Executive for Alice Marshall.

Sarah Lockwood


David Wendelken Brad Jenkins

BETH COLE is a senior SMAD journalism major with a minor in

communications from Mineral, Va. She has been a staff writer and a Life Editor for The Breeze. She has worked for TASC, Inc. in Washington, D.C., as a technical editing and multimedia intern supporting the Federal Aviation Administration. After graduation, Beth hopes to get a job as an editor or a writer.



Aaron Koepper

AMANDA CASKEY is a senior SMAD journalism and SCOM public

Multimedia/Web Editor

Curio is a regional generalinterest feature magazine published each year by students in the School of Media Arts & Design at James Madison University. Curio is a nonprofit organization supported by the College of Arts and Letters and the School of Media Arts & Design. Subscriptions are not available.

Beth Cole

AARON KOEPPER is a senior SMAD journalism major with a minor in creative writing from Manassas, Va. He has been a staff writer and a news editor for The Breeze. He has worked for the Manassas and Manassas Park Patch reporting community news. After graduation, Aaron will intern at Main Justice, an insider news website in Washington, D.C. covering the Department of Justice.

P. 26


STAFF BIOS GRANT BECK is a senior SMAD journalism major from Richmond, Va. He has been the managing editor for JMU’s yearbook, The Bluestone and is a member of the JMU chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. After graduation he hopes to get an editorial job or internship in Washington, D.C. JORDAN PYE is a junior SMAD journalism and political science double major from Charlottesville, Va. She writes feature articles for JMU department websites and works at the JMU Office of Community Service-Learning, helping students arrange volunteer opportunities with local nonprofit agencies. After graduation she hopes to earn a master’s degree in journalism and cover politics on Capitol Hill, although her ultimate goal is to be an editor for Esquire magazine. AMBER LOGSDON is a junior SMAD Journalism major with a women and gender studies minor from Virginia Beach, Va. She wrote for The Breeze and The Bluestone. Additionally, she is secretary for Dukes for Choice and an intern for NARAL Pro-Choice America. In the future, she hopes to become an editor of books or magazines. MALISSA WATTERSON is a senior SMAD journalism major with a minor in writing and rhetoric from Exmore, Va. She is a former staff writer for The Breeze and has interned for Anna Magee, a freelance health journalist based in London, U.K. After graduation, she will work as a staff writer for her local newspaper, The Eastern Shore News. MEGAN LEARN is a junior SMAD corporate communication and graphic design double major from Fairfax, Va. She has worked as a graphic designer for JMU Athletics Photography, Verisign Inc., and McLean Project for the Arts. After graduation, Megan hopes to work her way up to the position of art director at a design firm.

KELSEY HANLEY is a senior SMAD major with a concentration in Corporate Communications from Virginia Beach, Va. Over the summer, she held a public relations internship at Style Events, an event planning company based in her hometown. After graduation, Kelsey hopes to get an internship or job working at a magazine or publishing firm. BRANDON PAYNE is a senior SMAD journalism major born in Bronx, N.Y., but was raised in Virginia. He has been a photographer for The Breeze for two years and has held both staff and senior positions. Brandon started his own media company, Scrandom Media, in 2010. After graduation, he looks to work for a magazine in the action sports industry as a photographer and videographer. CHRISSY SKUTNIK is a senior SMAD major with a concentration in Converged Media and a minor in Studio Art from Westport, Connecticut. She has interned with the marketing and advertising firm Story Worldwide outside of New York City. She worked on Madison 101 as a photographer and hopes to continue her career as a photographer and graphic designer after graduation. SARAH LOCKWOOD is a junior SMAD journalism major minoring in environmental studies from Richmond, Va. She has a dorky passion for yearbooks, including JMU’s The Bluestone. In addition to The Bluestone, Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, writes for Port and Main and has a Little Sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters. She has a bonzai tree named Albert. In the future, Sarah is interested in environmental journalism, particularly for magazines.

CURIO 2012

/ 1



Internship class makes JMU students farmers for a semester


Campaign journey by CNN correspondent Jim Acosta, a JMU alumnus


A look inside A Bowl of Good Café’s internationally-inspired menu and environment


White Oak Lavender Farm shows visitors how to relax with a wide array of products


Refugee resettlement in Harrisonburg gives immigrants a fresh start


Waiter turns Tuesday night event into a Clementine’s tradition

2 / CURIO 2012











CHRISTIANITY MEETS THE OLD WEST Cowboy Church of Virginia provides alternative to traditional worship


Student protest led to seven-year court battle, alum look back


Local bakeries offer residents homemade and unique treats


JMU student’s idea becomes a late night favorite for students





Lesser known hikes give a peek at the past


Student organization seeks to bring sustainable initiatives to the Valley


Food truck offers new option on Port Republic

CURIO 2012

/ 3




Garden is a reminder that the Shenandoah Valley was once the breadbasket of the Confederacy. Vast plots of rolling farmland, gnarled trees and old barns line the back roads in Greenville, Va., that lead to the small farm. Piles of compost and chunks of asphalt surround the winding, gravel driveway on either side. A one-story farmhouse appears over the crest of a hill. As visitors pull up, a sign offers a warning: “Never mind the dog. Beware of the owner.” This sign, plastered on a front porch crowded with five freezers, greets visitors to Janet’s Garden — that and the duet of barks and yelps from Maxine and Django, a pair of Australian cattle dogs. The greeting is one that junior integrated science and technology major Amanda Jenkins is familiar with. Jenkins makes the 40-minute drive south on Interstate 81 from Harrisonburg to Janet’s Garden twice a week as part of an agricultural internship program. ISAT 473: Local Agriculture and Farm Internships provides between 10 and 15 students from various majors the opportunity to do hands-on work with

4 / CURIO 2012

local farmers in the Shenandoah Valley. In an additional section of GEOG 350: Topics in Geography, Professor Jennifer Coffman co-teaches the course along with professor Wayne Teel and came up with the idea for an agricultural internship after she took one of her classes on a day trip to Elk Run Farm in Fort Defiance, Va. She was pleased with the enthusiastic response from her students. “They were really surprised with all the vegetables growing,” said Coffman. “They couldn’t believe that was what asparagus looked like in the ground.” After gauging interest in an internship class, Coffman and Teel began building the framework for the course. The class meets once a week for lecture and discussion. Onfarm labor is the other major component to the course. Students enrolled in ISAT 473 must log 110 hours, earning four academic credits, while students taking GEOG 350 must log 75 hours of on-farm labor for three credits. “I want [students] to learn not just the mechanics and ecology, but the culture of farming,” said Coffman.

Jenkins works with Janet Ripley, owner of the namesake Janet’s Garden, and Andrew Katz, a former Marine from Baltimore who has been working on the farm for the past two years. Throughout the course of a day on the farm, Jenkins performs various chores, from milking cows to repairing trellises for bramblefruit. She says these types of tasks are her favorite part of the internship. “I enjoy doing work, hands-on work,” said Jenkins. “I’m also lucky I got placed here. I like Janet and Drew a lot.” Ripley first started farming 10 years ago because her son wanted a glass of milk. Ripley, who was a vegetarian at the time, did not want her son drinking pasteurized milk. Using the 48-acre plot owned by her father, Ripley began the farm with a single milk cow. Today, Janet’s Garden is home to six Jersey milk cows and several beef cattle, a small flock of Jacob sheep and chickens for meat production. One of the focuses of the course is the impact of the local ecology on farming. The interns learn sustainable and smallscale farming practices like crop rotation, intercropping and animal husbandry. Sustainability is a key issue for many

A calf grazes in an enclosure at Janet’s Garden. The farm is home to six Jersey milk cows.

small farms. Although Janet’s Garden is not certified organic, Ripley does not use any artificial fertilizers or pesticides. She composts organic material and recycles it into fertilizer applied to food crops. Ripley believes that this more natural approach to farming is healthier for her and her customers. “I’m raising this food for me first, then everyone else,” said Ripley. Another aim of the course is to teach the interns how small-scale farms remain viable as a business, a struggle with which Ripley has first-hand experience. Janet’s Garden, like all other farms, constantly requires repair and construction. A barn stands unfinished and all that remains of

I want [students] to learn not just the mechanics and ecology, but the culture of farming.


a greenhouse collapsed from snow is the metal that Ripley was able to salvage for other uses. The farm generates various forms of income. Ripley makes local milk deliveries, sells meat to restaurants, makes a twiceweekly trip to the Staunton-Augusta Farmers’ Market during the market season (April-November) and sells her homemade aromatherapy products. However, the cost of running a small farm is high. The poor economy has led to increased food prices for restaurants, particularly for protein. The small farm also gets no government subsidies like larger agribusinesses receive. Ripley also works full time as a CT scan technologist at the University of Virginia Medical Center during the weekend. During the week, the farm consumes her time. “It’s keeping me active both mentally and physically at all times,” said Ripley. “Because I have a big investment in it right now, I’m doing it mostly for my customers. But I really do enjoy the work.” Interns help alleviate some of these difficulties for farmers. Coffman views this program as a way to establish a mutually

beneficial relationship between students and local farmers. Students learn practical skills and gain knowledge to take into future careers. “After I graduate I hope to join the Peace Corps,” said junior health sciences major Karen Kappert, who interns at Season’s Bounty in Harrisonburg, Va. “When working with them, you’re often placed in a location where food sources are not optimal and you have to help rethink ways to have a more prosperous yield.” Coffman also hopes that interns will take the concepts of sustainability and a respect for small-scale faming with them wherever they go and that the interns’ help will encourage farmers. “For one thing, it gives them [farmers] hope,” said Coffman. “Here are these 20-somethings interested in what they have to say and do.” As for the near future of Janet’s Garden, Ripley hopes to have someone take over the farm for a time, for what would only be her third break in five years. “Necessity’s going to dictate that we need to be away for a while,” said Ripley.

JMU Professor

CURIO 2012

/ 5


6 / CURIO 2012




story by aaron koepper / photos Courtesy of CNN

How journalism took JMU alum Jim Acosta from Cuba to the campaign trail


n April 2009, an opportunity fell into Jim Acosta’s lap that could be called the story of a lifetime for any journalist: to report from Cuba, a nation where travel restrictions prevent most Americans from ever setting foot.

But Acosta, at the time a correspondent for CNN American Morning, had a personal connection with the country: His father had emigrated from there in 1962, three years after Fidel Castro seized power and only a year before the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Obama administration lifted all restrictions on Cuban-Americans who wanted to visit relatives in April 2009, enabling Acosta and other journalists to travel there. “It was sort of a diplomatic first step for the Obama administration to test the waters and see if the Cuban government was ready to move forward in terms of establishing more democratic rights on the island,” Acosta said. On May 2, Acosta and his crew traveled out of Havana to Santa Maria del Rosario, where Acosta’s aunt told him he might find some of his relatives. Per her instructions, he went to the church in the center of town and asked the clerk, an elderly woman, if anyone knew his father or family. “She pulled this book off the shelf and she found his [my father’s] record of birth and she wrote up a baptismal certificate to give me and to give to my dad,” Acosta said. She then told him her husband might know where his immediate relatives lived and after a short walk, he found them sitting outside their house. He and his father had no communications with them because of the American-imposed embargo on Cuba. “They had no idea I existed, had no idea what happened to my dad,” Acosta said. “It was kind of like a living photo album, to see relatives that you’d never met before but knew everything about your dad and your grandparents and that sort of thing.” The trip was a high point thus far in the career of the Annandale, Va., native, now 41, only to be exceeded by his promotion to National Political Correspondent by CNN in February 2012, a position that has kept him on the campaign trail since. He graduated

“ It was kind of a living photo album, to see relatives that you’d never met before but knew everything about your dad and your grandparents. Jim Acosta, CNN anchor

CURIO 2012

/ 7

James Madison University alumnus Jim Acosta works from the New Hampshire Primary. Acosta was promoted to National Political Correspondent by CNN in February 2012.

Acosta covers Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign. Acosta began his broadcasting career as news director for JMU’s radio station, WXJM.

He always knows a story and he never let up.

James Madison University in 1993 majoring in communications and minoring in political science. Acosta’s experience with journalism started with an elementary school field trip in 1981, where he watched the hostages of the Iranian Hostage Crisis set foot in Newburgh, N.Y., after 444 days of imprisonment. His class was accompanied by reporters from The Washington Post, who wanted to get a story about the class watching the hostages. “I’m quoted in the article as saying something like I was on ABC once and NBC twice — not the most poetic statement that could be made in a news article,” Acosta said. “At that point, I realized that I liked being between a camera and a major news story.” His chance to distinguish himself came at JMU, when Acosta joined JMU’s student-run radio station, WXJM, in 1990. He helped start the news department of the station, and held the title of news director by 1993. “I remember him because he was very involved,” said Brenda Barnes, WXJM’s adviser at the time. “He was very good, very passionate about the news.” As news director, Acosta gave a live broadcast of a forum between students and administrators about the construction of the College of Integrated Science and Technology campus.

8 / CURIO 2012

Malinda Adams, ESPN Producer

“The student body was mixed,” Acosta said. “There were students who wanted to keep JMU smaller and more liberal arts-oriented. The university was pushing really hard because they saw what was coming down the road with the Internet.” Courtney Hermann, the station’s general manager who graduated in 1994, said that Acosta had a powerful on-air presence and, like the rest of them, “a questionable haircut.” “Everything that was done in the early days left an imprint on what came after,” Hermann said. “Jim’s work in the news and sports departments was pivotal in rounding out the station’s mandate to serve the listening public.” After Acosta graduated in 1993, he went to work for the Washington, D.C.-based radio station WMAL where a disc jockey told him “radio is for dinosaurs, you’re a young kid, you should be working for television.” From there, Acosta’s career moved quickly: He spent a year at Fox WTTG-TV taking general assignments as a writer and producer. He then moved to Knoxville, Tenn., as a reporter for WVIR-TV from 1995 to 1998. He worked as a reporter for the CBS-owned KTVT-TV in Dallas from 1998 to 2000 as reporter and substitute anchor for Chicago station CBS WBBM-TV in 2000 before joining CBS Newspath in 2001. Newspath, CBS’s 24-hour news service, gave Acosta his first run

CNN political anchor Wolf Blitzer and Acosta cover the 2012 Republican Debate in Jacksonville, Florida.

at national stories: the New York City blackout, the D.C.-area sniper attacks and the 2004 presidential campaign. By 2003, he was working for CBS News, in the New York bureau and then the Atlanta bureau, where he covered hurricanes with his producer, Malinda Adams. Adams, who now works as a producer for ESPN, remembers Acosta as a “consummate professional.” “It was great to work with someone you’re in sync with,” Adams said. “We were always going in the same direction on a story.” Many of the stories the two covered together revolved around active 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons, and they often found themselves taking plane flights and drives across the country on short notice. CNN was impressed enough that they hired him in 2007 to be part of their morning show, American Morning. As a correspondent on American Morning, Acosta was aggressive about getting interviews with political figures. He got two exclusive interviews with Tea Party congressional candidates — Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle. “She [O’Donnell] wasn’t doing a whole lot of national interviews,” Acosta said. “We doggedly pursued that interview and she finally relented.” Acosta’s political aptitude was noticed by Washington Bureau Chief Sam Feist, who promoted him in February 2012. “Jim has been an outstanding addition to the political team,” Feist said. “He has emerged as one of the key reporters on the campaign trail and his astute skills will only help to position the network to

dominate this important election cycle.” Since his promotion to National Political Correspondent, he has followed the primary campaigns of Republican candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. He described this year’s primary as “an amazing race to watch” and similar to the 2008 Democratic primary between Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Acosta said Santorum’s candidacy, which ended on April 10, was the most interesting to follow. “Santorum has caught everybody by surprise. I don’t think a lot of people expected him to make it this far,” Acosta said. “It’s been kind of refreshing to see how he’s been able to do it — he hasn’t done it with a large organization, he hasn’t done it with a lot of financial help. He’s been doing it by driving around and talking to town hall meetings and talking at rallies.” The downside of the job is constant travel: Acosta gave this interview while driving to Gettysburg to cover Santorum’s performance in the Illinois primary in March. “This is has been a sacrifice on my family,” Acosta said. “But I tell my kids this will end, this too shall pass. November will come and daddy will be home more often.” Despite the strain, Adams described Acosta as someone who never gave up on a story. “He’d call and call and call [sources],” Adams said. “He always knows a story and he never let up.” As of printing in April, Acosta continued to follow the Romney campaign.

CURIO 2012

/ 9






he “Maharaja Bowl” began with a recipe for curried lentils from “Extending the Table” by Joetta Handrich Schlabach, an international collection of everyday recipes “in the spirit of more with less.”

The kids liked it, the restaurant owners liked it and the name, the Hindi word for “Indian prince,” was a suggestion from an intern. Served over rice with mango chutney, yogurt and a side of fresh-baked nann, it’s now No. 4 on the menu at A Bowl of Good Café. Tucked into the Common Good Marketplace off Mount Clinton Pike in Harrisonburg, the café turns internationally inspired recipes into a community-centered business. “We are passionate purveyors of food that is good, not complicated,” restaurant owner and founder Katrina Didot said. Open at 8 a.m. Monday through Saturday to serve breakfast bowls, the café bakes its own bread, cookies and gluten-free brownies. Coolers near the cash register display grab-and-go sandwiches, frozen quarts of soup and locally-produced goods including granola, honey and canola oil. By lunchtime, the scent of cumin and fresh rice waft from the kitchen into the contemporary entrance, where a round ceiling looms over red counters and cabinets and the walls feature artwork from Artisan’s Hope, the adjoining fair trade craft store. Customers gather at the homemade tables and booths, fashioned from the planks of a century-old barn in Cross Keys, Va. and modified with ceramic tiles from Guatemala and other countries. Tribal drumbeats of world music drift through the air while Didot and her staff craft their dishes from locally-grown ingredients. Didot, a licensed clinical social worker and mother of two adopted children, Eva, 13, and Luther, 15, has been a Harrisonburg resident since 2003. She began selling soup in 2005 inside Kate’s Natural Products on University Boulevard after a year of social work. Her

10 / CURIO 2012

experiences with troubled young people confirmed her belief that having family dinner can make a big difference in a child’s life.

community members together and connect the dots between them, “because a lot of people are looking for some kind of connection.”

“We’ve lost the ritual of eating together and cooking together,” Didot said. At A Bowl of Good, “we want people to have those rituals and want to model them here.”

Community connections played a large role in the early days of her business, when Didot rented the kitchen of Blue Nile restaurant’s old location to make soups on days they were closed, and Red Front Supermarket gave her freezer space to store her products. After moving out of Kate’s Natural Products, Didot kept in touch with her customers by selling her wares at the farmers’ market.

The menu features 10 bowls, each a recipe from a different region of the world. Most of the dishes draw from Didot’s international experiences: the Mediterranean bowl, “It’s All Greek to Me,” was inspired by her travels to Greece during college. The “Tom Kha Gai Bowl” is a Thai recipe she learned from a Vietnamese colleague at her first post-graduation job in Philadelphia, working with unaccompanied Vietnamese refugee children placed in foster homes. Didot has lived in Haiti and Guatemala, backpacked through parts of Europe and traveled to Mexico, El Salvador, Belize and other parts of Central America. Her Vietnamese coworkers and other people she has met abroad impressed her with how much they enjoyed celebrations and coming together over food. “Something I’ve learned from other cultures,” Didot said, is “learning joy, nurturing joy in a workplace.” A Bowl of Good provides a “third-place” for community members, after work and home. The café exemplifies social entrepreneurship at the community level, a drastic difference from the franchises and chain restaurants that line the sides of Route 33. Didot encourages her staff to get to know their customers, to bring

“I had no idea how many I had,” Didot said of her solid customer base, which encouraged her to continue to make and sell products. “I think it’s somewhere in my heart because I didn’t picture myself in a farmers’ market. The relationships Didot formed through the farmers’ market expanded her knowledge of the local food movement and

When you have a relationship with the person you buy from, you want to be able to afford it, and you want them to profit, too, when you know the person on the other end.

katrina didot Founder of A Bowl of Good Café CURIO CURIO 2012 2012

/ 11 11

broadened her connections with local farmers. In 2008, she saw an opportunity to take her business to the next level when she learned of a storefront opening next to Gift and Thrift on Mt. Clinton Pike. With the help of business partner Rachel Rose, a real estate agent and frequent customer from the farmers’ market, Didot opened the restaurant in August 2009. Despite fitting in perfectly with the nonprofit atmosphere of the Common Good Marketplace, Didot described herself as an unapologetic income generator. “Profit isn’t a bad word,” Didot said. “If we don’t get the profit someone else will, and may not put it back into the community. The more we generate, the more we can do.” While striving to build local roots, A Bowl of Good also keeps an eye on the international community. Immediately after the 2010 earthquake disaster in Haiti, the café hosted a fundraiser, set up an 12-person tent city and spent the night outside to remind people about the plight of the Haitians. They raised $8,000 for disaster relief and, on the earthquake’s anniversary, raised another $4,000.

Efforts to embrace more international community members have included inviting them as guest cooks to share dishes from Indian and Chinese culture. During international story time at 9 a.m. on Wednesdays, a volunteer reads a children’s story from a specific culture before an ethnically-themed lunch special. For one Wednesday in February, an Eastern European story was served with borscht. Didot’s nonprofit neighbors share her global focus, food justice and fair trade causes while attracting similar clientele: locals, middle class professionals, the Eastern Mennonite University community, as well as people who travel and care about how they eat. Gift and Thrift employee Ruby Lehman and her daughter Judy Lehman came to the cafe the first weekend it opened because they liked Didot’s soups. They enjoy the affordability of wholesome, organic and international foods that also support local farmers. “It feels like you’re supporting the principles of a restaurant,” Judy Lehman said. Harrisonburg residents Emily Casey and Katherine Morrison work together at MODdisplays on East Market Street. Casey had been coming to A Bowl of Good for about a year after she first heard of it through word of mouth.

“I like that everything is local and it’s all really fresh,” Casey said. She’s partial to the “Mac and Jack of the Valley” bowl, which pairs baked macaroni and local jack cheese with green beans in a garlic butter sauce. Morrison ordered a side Greek salad with the soup of the day, and said she’s a fan of the cafe’s salad choices and ready-made lunch options. “The grab-and-go features appeal to students on the run. [Eastern Mennonite University] students love it here,” Morrison said. “I like coming here to support a local establishment that provides great service.” No one has a better appreciation for how far the cafe has come than the 15-person staff. They come from diverse backgrounds and reflect the cafe’s multicultural atmosphere: Artisan cheese maker Melissa Lapp, who was adopted from Belize, joined the crew after moving from upstate New York, and Andy Whitten, who has been with the restaurant since it opened, was adopted from Colombia. English and Spanish are spoken in the kitchen and several employees are bilingual, including Cuban native Marielys Leon, who worked with Didot at Kate’s Natural Foods and has been producing soup in the cafe

GOOD to the Earth Each day, the restaurant produces up to 10 buckets of pre-consumer compost — including peels and vegetable ends from cooking — that go to a local farmer. In addition the café only produces one half full single 40-gallon garbage bag of trash per day. The coffee cups and 16 oz. cold cups used in the restaurant are also compostable. In a backyard garden, the café grows cilantro, basil and mint. After meeting Didot last semester, James Madison University juniors and integrated science and technology majors Sam Frere and Daniel Warren began its transformation into a sustainable agriculture project to create a year-round garden. To make the garden self-sufficient, the plan will incorporate an on-site rotating compost system, mini plastic wrap greenhouses to extend the growing season and an irrigation system supplied by rainwater collection from the building’s roof. The facility itself was designed with solar water heating technology to reduce energy needs and long-term costs.

12 / CURIO 2012

We’ve lost the ritual of eating together and cooking together. We want people to have those rituals and want to model them here.

katrina didot Founder of A Bowl of Good Café

since October. “We hire for heart,” Didot said. “I see us as a great place for an immigrant to get a start, to be able to give people their first job here.” Employee Rachel Freed graduated from Longwood University last year, and after working other jobs in food service and college dining halls, she found that the staff at A Bowl of Good has more compassion than the others. “People are willing to forgive mistakes and I really appreciate that,” she said. “There’s a lot more love, the bosses care about you and you care more about what you’re doing.” Last June, Pennsylvania native and EMU graduate Benjamin Bergey began working in the soup production aspect of the café. By November he had transitioned into a newly-created general manager position. Despite the negative aura he thinks surrounds employees in other food service jobs, A Bowl of Good is “nurturing and geared toward employee needs,” Bergey said. “It’s about the camaraderie,

friendships and relationships with staff and customers.” Employee bonding activities have included field trips to the production centers for Route 11 potato chips and herb grower, Shenandoah Growers, just up the street from the café. Christmas dinner and a summer swimming party are annual traditions. To put their servant leadership ideals into practice, Didot began a quarterly staff dinner where employees take turns preparing and serving a meal for each other. Customer service training sessions also focus on team building and sharing food. “Our staff is very playful,” Didot said, and when gathering off the clock, “we usually eat together no matter what we do.” At the café, one of Bergey’s responsibilities is to place orders for the ingredients, most of which come from a core group of local farms that Didot has networked with since the farmers’ market. The café uses hydroponic lettuce grown by Portwood Gardens, tomatoes from Wayside Produce, wheat berries from Heartland Harvest, onions from North Mountain Produce and carrots and other produce from

Harrisonburg farmer Radell Shrock. The coffee is roasted locally, and the beef and pork are bought locally one animal at a time, instead of 20 pounds at a time. “When you have a relationship with the person you buy from, you want to be able to afford it, and you want them to profit, too, when you know the person on the other end,” Didot said. The community connections come in handy when farmers can offer Didot an excess of produce. She sometimes purchases food in bulk from the Shenandoah Valley Produce Auction. In August, Didot hopes to reach new customers by opening a second cafe on Port Republic Road in the Port Crossing shopping center near Vito’s Italian Kitchen. The main kitchen in the original location would produce much of the food for both cafes, a testament to the simplicity of the recipes that Dido encourages customers to try on their own. “There’s no mystery to the recipes,” she said. “It’s basic ingredients in a bowl, meals that are easy to recreate at home with the family.”

CURIO 2012

/ 13


14 / CURIO 2012



Story by Zeta Dowdy / Photos by Chrissy Skutnik

Lavender is relatively easy to grow organically, but it’s still farming; you have to have a good reason to do it. Julie Haushalter Founder and Owner White Oaks Lavender Farm


ven in the off-season at White Oak Lavender Farm, the soft but unmistakable scent of lavender floats up from the rows of dusted-purple herbs. The alpacas milling nearby and the Flemish Giant rabbits lounging in the sun may be momentarily disorienting, but upon seeing Julie Haushalter — her shirt, earrings, glasses and fingernails all some shade of purple — it becomes clear that this is a lavender farm.

The farm, which is situated about five miles east of Harrisonburg on an old Civil War battleground off Route 276, has run for the past three years on the elbow grease of Julie, her husband Rick, her parents Jim and Jessie Walton, and a few non-relative workers. Recently, Julie and Rick’s daughter, Rebecca, came back to work full-time at White Oak Lavender after being the manager of nearby Cross Keys Vineyard. “We like to say she’s here for quality control,” Julie said. As Rebecca humbly denied this, she carefully sprinkled teaspoonfuls of lavender buds into a tiny, organza drawstring bag. She was filling an order for 200 of them to be sent to a staff of nurses. Julie has been known to make lavender sugar cookies, lavender pound cake, and starting in the summer, she will make and sell lavender ice cream. Lavender ice cream is currently on the menu at the Local Chop and Grill House in downtown Harrisonburg, where chef Rachel

Herr adds a couple of tablespoons of rough-chopped White Oak lavender buds to a batch of ice cream, blending it with flavors of honey and vanilla. “Lavender is tricky,” she said. “It’s really light but if you add too much it can taste soapy.” The versatility of lavender doesn’t end in the kitchen. It is antiinflammatory, meaning it can reduce swelling and pain, and antiseptic. Its distinct scent has always been popular in bath products. It can repel moths from clothing. It has calming effects and could even help with sleeping disorders. For a plant with so much potential, lavender is fairly low-maintenance and will bloom without being coaxed by chemicals. According to, lavender is a tough plant that can survive a variety of climates, from the dry heat of the Mediterranean, where it originated, to the humidity of Virginia. “Lavender is relatively easy to grow organically, but it’s still farming,” Julie said. “You have to have a good reason to do it.” Julie does have a good reason. Her sister, Susan, was diagnosed in

Lavender Pound Cake


1 ½ cups flour 1 ½ cups cake flour 2 cups sugar 1 cup butter or margarine 1 tsp. salt ½ tsp. baking powder ½ tsp. baking soda 2 tsp. vanilla 4 eggs 1 cup buttermilk 2 tsp. lavender buds

CURIO 2012

/ 15

1996 with breast cancer and given six months to live. Julie believes the stress in Susan’s life was making the cancer more aggressive. Susan chose not to undergo chemotherapy, and instead taught art therapy classes for grieving families while she was terminal. She lived a year and a half longer than the doctor had estimated.

Ever since he graduated, Doran has helped maintain the farm’s 6,000 lavender plants. He’s also in charge of the animals, giving them food and water and cleaning out the stalls and cages. There are rabbits, horses and a pony, but the alpacas are Doran’s favorite. These new additions to White Oak are apparently a little shy.

Today, the Haushalters seem to be all about stress relief. They emphasize the calming and healing abilities of lavender in the products they sell and the activities they oversee. Julie guides groups through relaxation- and communication-oriented activities and workshops. For example, guests can meditate by walking through the stone-lined labyrinth.

“I have to catch them while they’re eating. They don’t spit as much as llamas, but they’ve tried,” Doran said as he pet a significantly more docile resident of the farm, Pumpkin the cat.

Most of the folks at White Oak Lavender hold more general than specialized duties around the farm. Will Doran, the groundskeeper and a James Madison University piano major from the class of 2011, is an exception.


Pound Cake

16 / CURIO 2012

Another popular draw to White Oak Lavender is the mediated “circle process,” during which a group of employees gather and may discuss a collective goal or conflict. A member of the group may only speak when holding a “talking piece,” which is continually passed so that people who need more time to process their thoughts have multiple chances to share them.


- Cream butter, sugar and lavender buds - Add vanilla and eggs - Sift flour together with salt, soda and baking powder - Add to creamed mixture alternating with buttermilk - Pour in well greased bundt pan and bake at 350º for 50 minutes - Cool and remove from pan

“I’ve had people come up to me and say that was the very first time they had ever been able to speak up in a faculty meeting,” Julie said. Inside the shop, the air is even more concentrated with the smell of lavender than outside. White Oak’s lavender store houses about 95 different products. These range from the expected — decorative lavender, culinary lavender — to the unusual — deep muscle jelly and lavender tattoo cream. For lavender to be such a versatile material, it must first have its oil and its water, or florasol, extracted. At White Oak, this happens in the distiller, a surprisingly uncomplicated contraption that sits atop a truck-less trailer. Lavender is picked in the field and put into a hopper, which looks like a large metal barrel. The hopper is returned to the distiller where its contents are essentially pressure-cooked. The resulting steam travels up through a condenser, which turns it to liquid. In this state, the water and the oil are separated and collected. Julie Haushalter picked up a Mason jar of the golden lavender oil and popped it open. The fragrance punched exponentially harder than the one emitted from the whole plants. The celebrated smell attracts shoppers and tourists all year long, but White Oak is busiest starting in June. This is when the lavender is harvested, and when the Haushalters open the farm to tours Tuesday through Saturday starting at 11 a.m. The tour costs $5, and begins with basic information on the kinds of lavender grown at White Oak. Then visitors are introduced to the animals and given a demonstration of the distillery. They also learn about some of the area’s Civil War history, and about the barn swallows that return from South America every April within the same three-day period. Julie is happy to teach beyond the tour. She says she has mentored more than 40 couples looking to start lavender farms of their own. Currently, there are many more on the West Coast than the East, because more varieties of the plant can be grown in the less humid climate. But if people like the Haushalters keep the tradition alive, there may be more lavender delectables to be had — and more of that scent to be sniffed — around the Valley.

ZETA DOWDY is a senior SMAD major with a concentration in Journalism, a minor in French and a minor in Creative Writing. Originally from Richmond, Va., she hopes for a post-graduation editorial internship in an equally interesting city.

CURIO 2012

/ 17

It’s the only way I can live. It’s a choice between life or death. MONTHER HAMID

18 / CURIO 2012

Iraqi Army Linguist






wo men – insurgents – tied him up while a third held a pistol to his head. Monther “Bruce” Hamid, an Iraqi Army linguist, was held in a small room and beaten for working with the U.S. Army. I’m dead dead. That’s it, he thought. While he was ultimately rescued from this 2007 kidnapping, the incident confirmed Hamid’s belief that he needed to leave Baghdad. “It’s the only way I can live,” said Hamid. “It’s choice between life or death. That’s it.” On Jan. 25, Hamid arrived at the Virginia Council of Churches Refugee Resettlement Program’s Harrisonburg branch on Elizabeth Street just north of U.S. 33. The program, based in Richmond, began hosting refugees in Harrisonburg in the early ’80s and opened a Harrisonburg branch in 1988. In those days, the program resettled about 35 individuals each year. In 2011 the branch resettled close to 80 refugees, people fleeing their countries fearing death or persecution.

CURIO 2012

/ 19

The Harrisonburg branch has resettled refugees from more than 20 countries. Recently most have been from Iraq, Eritrea, Burma and Cuba. Hamid left Iraq with his wife, Dhuha, and 2½-year-old daughter, Aaya, in 2012. Arriving in Harrisonburg was just the beginning. The program provides refugees with basic needs: Apartments must be secured and furnished with beds, bedding, chairs and a stocked fridge. Eighty-five percent of these amenities are funded by federal and state funds. The rest comes from donations in the form of furniture, food and money, said Jim Hershberger, the program director. But refugees’ main task is to hunker down and learn English, a key to success in job searches and classrooms. English is a second language for 35.6 percent of Harrisonburg public school students, according to the superintendent’s office. So the school system is prepared for refugees. But adults also need to learn the language. Hershberger encourages new arrivals to participate in the program’s new Life Skills class. The four-week course, 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Thursday, teaches English and the American ways of finance, health care, safety and education.

In between one-on-one instruction, Rebecca Sprague addresses the entire Life Skills class.

Getting ELL-endorsed teachers is a challenge, but, really, I think the greater challenge is getting all our teachers ready. SCOTT KIZNER Harrisonburg City Schools Superintendent

Jackie Cramer, who coordinates these classes, said there are many myths about teaching English as a second language (ESL). For example, some think that an ESL teacher needs to know the students’ native language. But English is the only language needed to teach ESL, the only one used in this classroom. Hamid breaks this rule as he turns to an Arabic-speaking volunteer. “You can speak Arabic after class,” instructor Rebecca Sprague scolds amiably. Sprague shows Hamid the Daily News-Record, flipping to the weather. Moving to the blackboard, she draws a thermostat. The class joins in as she laughs at her first attempt. They spend the next couple of minutes discussing the conversion from the familiar Celsius to Fahrenheit. In the corner, a James Madison University student volunteer works with an Eritrean man individually. “Today is Thursday,” she said. “Thursday,” he repeated. Yesterday and tomorrow are next on the schedule. Hamid spoke English for four years as a linguist, but still attended Sprague’s class with his wife, who is just learning.

20 / CURIO 2012


Derrick Charles’ Skyline Middle School 7th and 8th grade class is part of the Newcomer program, which is crucial to English language learners (ELL) students’ successful integration into mainstream classrooms. “They’re here, not because of an academic need, but because of a language need,” said Charles. “It’s an enormous change … a different culture, a different school system, a different language and coming into this world, especially at the time of middle school, too.” The target is for each newcomer to reach a second grade English reading level, which Charles called “a pretty monumental feat.” “Think about going from Kindergarten to second grade in one year,” he said. So the program, even during science and social studies, is constantly focusing on literacy through identifying

unknown words from context, footnotes and glossaries.

to continue to develop their native language.

Newcomer typically stay in the program for two semesters, at which point, the student will join mainstream classes with varying levels of support. But it’s a case-by-case basis.

“First language literacy is important for long-term academic success,” said Charles. “I want us to look intentionally about how we’re going to do that in the future.”

While a variety of backgrounds, academic levels and developmental levels can cause challenges, most newcomers have one thing to their advantage: enthusiasm.

Skyline does not currently offer a native Spanish speaker class. Charles has tried to fill that hole for some of his students.

Most experience a “culture shock curve where you start and everything’s exciting and achievable,” said Charles. Like Life Skill class teacher Rebecca Sprague, Charles tries not to speak Spanish, which 10 of the 14 students speak.

Every day, when some students from across the division take an early bus home, Spanish speakers are left for half an hour. Charles has been using this time to read short Spanish stories and work on the students’ Spanish writing accuracy.

“While we’re in here the language we all share is English,” he said.

Charles has spent three years working with the Newcomer program, and it’s been about constant adaptation.

But it’s also important for students

“It’s a never-ending experiment.”

“It’s a lot of material,” said Hamid. “New things like jobs, new rules, things of culture.” While Hamid, like many refugees, got a job at a local factory and hopes to save money to attend college, other refugees hope their degrees will cross the border with them.

In May 2010, Hamid began the visa application process. He and his family arrived in Harrisonburg on Jan. 25, 2012. Others have waited even longer.

“It’s pretty easy to find a job, but a job that fits into someone’s skill set is much more difficult,” said Cramer.

Iraqi linguists working with the United States are in a dangerous position, as Hamid’s kidnapping made clear. Many look to flee the country. Hamid received the nickname “Bruce” on his first day with the Army. And that’s all his battalion knew him as.

Hershberger agrees that engineers, physicians and lawyers have trouble getting their skills recognized in the U.S.

“They can’t just use Arabic names,” said Hamid. “[Insurgents are] going to kidnap you, or come to your home.”

But refugees had to get into the states first.

In 2008, an opportunity opened for translators and linguists CURIO 2012

/ 21

looking to flee the country through the Defense Authorization Act, which allowed Special Immigration Visas (SIVs) for Iraqi translators and interpreters. Under the act, 50 SIVs may be issued per year through 2012. Spouses and children are not included in the quota. “This is my friends,” said Hamid, clicking on a picture of himself and fellow linguists. “They’re all waiting to come over here. They’re all applying for visa.” But it’s a complicated process involving many steps and mountains of paperwork. The requirements include a recommendation letter

from a U.S. citizen, verification of 12 months employment with the U.S. government and demonstration of an “ongoing, serious threat.” One of Hamid’s friends applied in April 2009 and has not received a visa yet. “I saw people came from Egypt here in four months, from Turkey in one year,” Hamid observed, frustrated. “In Iraq, it takes years. What’s the system?” Hamid was the first of his friends to receive the visa. Despite the

What we take for granted, they can’t believe. And what they tell us, we can’t believe.

KIZNER ” SCOTT Harrisonburg City Schools Superintendent

Bruce Hamid, second from the left, sits with other Iraqi linguists in the U.S. Army. His linguist friends are all hoping to receive a Special Immigration Visa to the United States.

22 / CURIO 2012

The Harrisonburg branch of Virginia Council of Churches Refugee Resettlement program has resettled refugees from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia, Burma/Myanmar, Colombia, Congo, Croatia, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Russia, Rwanda, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

waiting game, Hamid has hopes his sister and her family are able to make the move as well. Once in the states, many refugees’ goals include higher education for their children. At 2½ years old, Aaya Hamid would have no trouble picking up English, but education is difficult for refugee children entering the public school system. Fortunately for many refugees, who comprise a small portion of ELL students, Harrisonburg teachers are experienced in teaching English. (ELL, for English language learners, is the new ESL term, because English is often the third or fourth language.) “The nice thing in Harrisonburg is that this has been a gradual increase,” said Harrisonburg City Schools Superintendent Scott Kizner. Kizner, who moved to Harrisonburg nearly two years ago, applauded the school board’s ability to adjust to the influx in ELL students. This progress includes bi- and multilingual intermediaries as well as a Welcome Center for new families. Based on Limited English Proficiency Levels 1-7, ELL students are placed in small Newcomers classes or regular classrooms with varying levels of support. Because about 37 percent of Harrisonburg’s elementary, middle and high school students are Level 3 and 4, ELL training for all teachers in all subjects is crucial.

“Getting ELL-endorsed teachers is a challenge,” said Kizner. “But, really, I think the greater challenge is getting all our teachers ready.” Kizner pointed out that ELL children in Harrisonburg typically also face poverty; refugee children often struggle with even more. “What we take for granted, they can’t believe,” said Kizner. “And what they tell us, we can’t believe.” Some come from communities without running water or cars. Children from war zones face post-traumatic stress. Most had little notice of their move. Despite challenges, Kizner believes that Harrisonburg’s high ELL population was part of the school system’s success. Back in Hamid’s classroom, he reads a worksheet about professionalism in the workplace. He reads that in America his boss could be any gender, ethnicity or age. “What? That is different.” It was a big adjustment. And refugees need time for that adjustment, Superintendent Kizner says. “I mean, one day you’re in Tehran, next day you’re in freaking Harrisonburg.”

CURIO 2012

/ 23



n Team Trivia Night, held every Tuesday at 9 p.m., friendly F-bombs bounce from wall to art-lined wall in the yellow atmosphere of Clementine Café on South Main Street in downtown Harrisonburg. The voice responsible belongs to Dallas Sweezy, a waiter and bartender who doubles as the popular and irreverent trivia emcee. He and his righteously thick beard can be found up on stage, perhaps sipping a Dark and Stormy, one of Clementine’s stronger drinks, and almost certainly getting progressively louder. He begins a question, cutting through the equally boisterous crowd. “On this day in history – shut the f--k up while I read this...”

A senior history major at James Madison University, Sweezy always includes an on-this-day-inhistory question. The rest of his questions range from chemistry and mountains to constellations and Freddie Mercury. “I want people to go away being drunk, having fun and maybe learning something,” said Sweezy. 24 / CURIO 2012

“ Sometimes we have to rein him in a little bit ... Every host has been pretty bawdy but Dallas has taken it to another level. LAUREN JONES General Manager

Dave Anderson, a senior political science major at JMU, has been a regular at Trivia Night all school year. “It’s something stimulating to do on a Tuesday night that doesn’t involve video games,” he said. For the March 13 game, Dallas gave some of the trivia questions a theme corresponding to St. Patrick’s Day, but he “protests” in favor of his own heritage by wearing a Scottish kilt and a Scottish satchel made from the pelt of a baby seal, a product which is now quite illegal to produce. While Sweezy embraces his Scottish heritage, he’s also extremely proud of his roots in the American South. He has family from Arkansas, Georgia and, of course, Texas. He and his siblings, Austin, Carson and Madison, are all named after Texas cities. He tries to pinpoint what makes the South, the South, and according to him, Virginia doesn’t have it. “You gotta have Spanish moss, a s---load of cicadas...” Mike Hughes is currently Sweezy’s co-host and will step up as the new trivia host once Dallas graduates. He is more than happy to object. “Wait, cicadas are really big in the North,” he said. “You know what? New Jersey has a lot of cicadas.” Sweezy concedes on the cicada point, but continues to search for his definition of the South. “I mean, mainly it’s the cooking, it’s the culture, it’s...” “The lack of turn signals?” Hughes suggests. They appear to be arguing for the sake of debate. Even though Mike identifies as a Northerner and Dallas as a Southerner, the enthusiastic banter that goes on between them makes it clear that trivia will still be a good old, controversial time next year.


In addition to writing the questions for trivia, Dallas makes the playlists. One night may have a cornucopia of tunes from Jimi Hendrix to the Dropkick Murphys for St. Patrick’s Day, another may feature a more streamlined Michael Jackson and Prince soundtrack. He says he sometimes makes up three or four playlists and asks the audience which one to play. He may follow their suggestion, or he may choose to play exactly what they don’t want to hear. The song that plays during the shot question — “Shots” by LMFAO — never varies. The answer to this question is always a number; it is rarely common knowledge. What if a team have no earthly idea how many species of horsefly there are, or how many pounds of green dye are dumped into the Chicago River on St. Patrick’s Day? As Sweezy says: “This is the shots round. You can leave if you don’t like it.” He comes across as someone who wants to be heard and known, but for a guy who’s so talkative, Sweezy is surprisingly attentive. If someone asks him about Texas then, at the end of his tangent about the state’s motto, he’ll ask, “Where are you from?” He can’t walk from one end of the restaurant to the other without seeing someone who knows him, but if he doesn’t recognize a face immediately, he’ll offer a sincere apology, and a double chocolate stout — on the house. ZETA DOWDY is a senior SMAD major with a concentration in Journalism, a minor in French and a minor in Creative Writing. Originally from Richmond, Va., she hopes for a post-graduation editorial internship in an equally interesting city.

One Tuesday night, someone in the crowd said something about Sweezy’s beard. It’s difficult to understand what exactly was said, but easy to hear Sweezy subsequently threatening the heckler with the human-sized sculpture of a giraffe neck looming over the bar. Alas, the threat turns out to be an empty one, and Sweezy continues with trivia. “Dallas is definitely unconventional when you think about a trivia host,” said senior nutrition major Aubrey Stueckler, who has only been to trivia night a few times. “Sometimes we have to rein him in a little bit,” said Lauren Jones, general manager at Clementine. “Every host has been pretty bawdy but Dallas has taken it to another CURIO 2012

/ 25


meets the

Old West


26 / CURIO 2012

I’ve met Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, drug addicts and alcoholics. At Cowboy Church there’s no kind of norm. Everybody is somebody, and Jesus Christ is Lord. Raymond Bell, Senior Pastor of the Cowboy Church of Virginia


ive times a week, Raymond Bell of Roanoke slips into his pair of faded, black leather cowboy boots. Embellished with tin on the toes and heels, these cowboy boots are specially worn for preaching the word of God. Bell, 53, is senior pastor for the Cowboy Church of Virginia. While delivering Christian worship services throughout the Shenandoah Valley and western areas of the state, he also dons blue jeans and a cowboy hat. The latter sits on top of Bell’s short, black hair that’s peppered with bits of gray — the same color as his mustache. A non-denominational ministry with no dress code or mandatory offerings, the Cowboy Church of Virginia stands out. “We don’t have all the trappings you find in traditional churches,” Bell said of the ministry. “There’s no structure, no politics in Cowboy Church.” Attendees often meet in barns, farm pastures, livestock arenas and local club buildings, where they are served a “chuck wagon” meal before the worship service. Bell preaches at various locations throughout the week — Sunday mornings in Mount Crawford, Sunday nights in Roanoke, Tuesday nights in Blacksburg, Thursday nights in Moneta and Saturday nights in Mount Jackson. A Bible study also takes place Wednesday nights at Hollins University in Roanoke. At each location, cowboys, cowgirls, farmers and people from all types of occupational and lifestyle backgrounds gather together for the informal worship services.

Paula Bonin of Mathias, W. Va., is a regular attendee at the Sunday morning service held inside Mount Crawford’s Ruritan Club, about an hour away from Mathias. Bonin discovered the Cowboy Church of Virginia about a year ago after she searched the Internet for a different kind of worship service. “I wanted a church that did the full gospel but that didn’t have the formalities, the gossiping or mandatory offerings,” Bonin said. “And Cowboy Church kept popping up.” Bell was introduced to the concept of a Cowboy Church in 2004 while attending the Professional Bull Riders National Rodeo Finals in Las Vegas with his wife, Linda, who was a fan of bull riding at that time. At the event, professional bull riders publicly led worship services and shared faith testimonies to attendees. “The service lasted two and a half hours but no one cared,” Bell said. “The power of God was so dramatic that nobody wanted to leave.” On the drive back from Las Vegas, Bell says God gave him the concepts for starting up a Cowboy Church in Virginia and he began writing down the model for the ministry on the back of envelopes and on napkins. The model contains principles practiced within fellow Cowboy Churches in the country, such as providing a laid-back worship atmosphere with no dress code or mandatory offering.

CURIO 2012

/ 27

Bell’s model includes his own structured worship service, which begins with an opening song followed by the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag. “A lot of people experience Cowboy Church at rodeos or fairs, so the Pledge of Allegiance is something they’re familiar with,” Bell said. After discovering the Cowboy Church, Bell and his wife worked together to find the ministry’s first location in Virginia.

miles from Roanoke to Mount Crawford’s Ruritan Club for the morning worship service. Upon arrival, Bell and other church attendees unload two trucks filled with portable audio and computer equipment, including three small computer monitors, three microphones, a soundboard, a 42-inch flat screen LCD television, a large speaker and spools of cables.

“Our first challenge was figuring out what to do,” Bell said. “It was hard to explain what Cowboy Church was to others.”

So much technology is incorporated into a Cowboy Church service because the ministry needs to be transported to multiple locations during the week, as well as to rodeos, trail rides, county fairs and several other events throughout the year.

He soon heard of a Cowboy Church pastor in North Carolina reaching out to livestock arenas, asking herders if they were interested in starting up a Cowboy Church.

“A lot of people think it’s odd that cowboys are using technology,” Bell said. “That’s a complete misnomer because I haven’t been on a trail ride in five years where someone hasn’t used a GPS.”

Bell then decided to contact livestock arenas in Virginia, and The Wythe County Livestock Exchange in Wytheville, an hour west of Blacksburg, quickly responded.

Within 20 minutes, everything is set up to display PowerPoint slides from the computer monitors to the large television screen. These slides contain biblical scripture and lyrics to worship songs — a mixture of country gospel, christian hymns and Christian secular music.

In 2005, the first Cowboy Church of Virginia was established in Wytheville. Months later, word spread about the ministry, and people were contacting Bell about setting up additional locations. “We never thought there would be but just one,” he said. Cowboy Church of Virginia has expanded mainly through word of mouth. Other avenues of promotion for the ministry are its brochures distributed during worship services and its website, Today, there are 14 Cowboy Churches in Virginia, nine of which Bell and other members of the ministry started. Between 12 and 30 people usually attend the five Cowboy Church services held throughout the week, according to Bell. On Sundays, Bell and his wife wake up at 6 a.m. and drive 110

28 / CURIO 2012

While Bell is busy setting up the audio and computer equipment inside the Ruritan club’s social hall, his wife Linda lays out the prepared “chuck wagon” breakfast on folding tables. This breakfast often includes coffee, fresh fruit, bagels, scrambled eggs, sausage and gravy. In addition to preparing the “chuckwagon” meals for the five weekly worship services, Linda attends a Wednesday night Bible study and frequently shares her testimony of surviving a recent bout with breast cancer. “God motivates Cowboy Church, and we just love it,” she said. “There’s a big hole in your day if you miss a service.” Annette Franke of Mathias, W. Va., often helps Linda with the “chuck wagon” breakfast.

A Cowboy Church attendee for almost a year, Franke says the church has strengthened her relationship with God. “I actually get something out of church now,” Franke said. “I feel like God’s coming down and speaking directly to me.” As attendees walk in for their 9 a.m. meal, they’re greeted with “hellos” and “good mornings” from Franke, Linda and a few others, most of whom are dressed in the casual attire of blue jeans and T-shirts. Before they eat, all attendees and Bell form a tight circle and join hands for a prayer. At 10 a.m., everyone takes their seats in folding chairs, placed in multiple rows in front of a the cowboy version of a pulpit — a wooden chest adorned with carvings of horseshoes that form the shape of a cross. Behind the pulpit stands Bell and his “bandwagoneers” Angie Hamilton and Stan Bennett, praise and worship leaders who direct the worship songs. “Bandwagoneer” is one of several cowboy terms used within Cowboy Church. Other terms include, “nighthawk,” an attendee who watches over the “herd” or the ministry through prayer, and the “cowman,” a reference to Bell because he’s the boss who runs the operation of the herd. “The cowboy lingo contributes to the idea that this is Cowboy Church and it’s different,” Bell said. After the worship service opens with a song and the Pledge of Allegiance, the LCD television screen displays a biblical scripture, which is then followed by a “cowboy talk” translation, a simplified, more easily understood interpretation of biblical scripture. Attendees then break for a few minutes to give hugs and handshakes with one another and to welcome any newcomers.

For another 20 minutes, attendees are led in song by Hamilton’s soprano voice that’s interspersed with a subtle, country twang. Unlike typical Christian worship services, attendees at Cowboy Church can choose to stand or sit during worship songs. Next is Bell’s sermon, which typically lasts between 20 and 30 minutes. It is largely based on biblical scripture and is mixed with personal anecdotes and a few jokes. In February, Bell traveled to Harrisonburg’s Eastern Mennonite High School to give an exhibition on horse roping, as well as a short sermon on how the process of breaking, or “joining up,” a horse is similar to entering a new relationship with God. An avid horse rider for the last 40 years, Bell has ample experience with “pleasure riding,” or riding horses on public trails. Throughout the year, Bell travels with his five horses to county fairs and colleges, where he offers horse rides and rope exhibitions. Last year at the Rockbridge County Fair in Lexington, Va., Bell gave 588 horse rides to raise funds for the local 4-H club. “God told us to be proactive in our communities,” Bell said. “We go anywhere we’re asked to go.” Some future plans for expanding Cowboy Church’s ministry are training more people to lead services and implementing more Cowboy Churches in Virginia and other states, including California. Wherever he delivers his sermon, Bell says he interacts with people from all types of Christian denominations, many of whom aren’t considered a cowboy or cowgirl. “I’ve met Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, drug addicts and alcoholics. At Cowboy Church there’s no kind of norm. Everybody is somebody and Jesus Christ is Lord.” CURIO 2012

/ 29

30 / CURIO 2012

Madison College’s

FIGHTf o r


ON THE MORNING OF APRIL 27, 1970, Stephen Rochelle of Leesburg, Va., walked into the Rockingham County Sheriff ’s Office. A 22-year-old senior at Madison College that year, Rochelle challenged police officers who placed 30 students and faculty members in custody for protesting on campus. “Hey, if you’re going to arrest all my friends, you have to arrest me, too,” said Rochelle. Rochelle was taken into custody and spent the rest of the night in jail. His decision to turn himself into police would make him a part of the group that would be known as the “Madison 7.” The spring of 1970 was a turbulent time for college and university campuses. Anti-war sentiment was spread among students across the country, as seen in the Kent State shootings, where National Guardsmen killed four students on May 4. “All the campuses across the nation were just exploding,” said Rochelle. “Campuses were shutting down before the end of the semester.” It was in this environment that a protest over the dismissal of several professors at Madison College morphed into a seven-year legal battle. December 1969 James McClung was an English professor who had taught at Madison College for less than two years when, in December 1969, the administration did not reappoint his position for the 1970-71

term. This was not an uncommon practice for new professors who were on a probationary status, like McClung, according to a press statement at the time by college President G. Tyler Miller. Professor Roger Soenksen, who wrote his dissertation on the ensuing court case, Sword v. Fox, said the college at that time reviewed three areas for tenure appointment: teaching, service and scholarship. If a professor failed even one of these categories, they may be denied tenure. “I believe that Madison College was at a crossroads of moving away from [giving tenure to] any one and moving more toward a terminal degree approach,” said Soenksen, meaning tenure would be awarded to those professors who earned the highest degree in their particular academic field. “They may have been very popular professors but did not have the scholarship the college was looking for.” McClung appealed the decision and, after a review by a faculty committee, the original decision stood. This decision by the college not to renew his contract, along with fellow professors Roger Adkins’ and Ethrick Rogers’ contracts, raised questions among students about how administrative decisions affected their education.

CURIO 2012

/ 31

An officer confronts students in Wilson Hall during the April 26 protest.

“There’s a lot of people who were affected by it,” said Rochelle. “They fired a bunch of professors, or didn’t renew their contracts…there was a P.E. [Health and Education] professor who would talk to us [his students] and I guess he was supportive of the anti-war movement that was going on back then also.” APRIL 23, 1970 As temperatures steadily rose throughout the spring semester, so did tension among students and the administration. On Thursday, April 23, 1970, roughly 300 students attended a demonstration, registered with the college 48 hours in advance, around Gibbons Hall that was meant to facilitate dialogue regarding college policies. The demonstration was scheduled to end at 10 p.m., but several students made their way to Miller’s office in Wilson Hall and planned to stay overnight in hopes of

32 / CURIO 2012

talking with him in the morning. James Fox, dean of student services, arrived to tell the students that no demonstration had been scheduled for Wilson Hall that evening and that those students present could face suspension or expulsion. McClung, who was present at Wilson, justified the students’ demonstration by stating that the students “went to Wilson Hall to wait to see Dr. Miller and just to sit and talk.” He mentioned it was supposed to be “a free university teach-in but there were too few students for it to come off.” Students left soon after, but they did not feel that their voices had been heard. They tried to register a demonstration in Wilson Hall on Sunday, April 27, but their request was denied. Throughout the weekend, flyers were slipped under the doors of rooms in residence halls stating that an unauthorized

“all night” vigil would be held in Wilson Hall on Sunday night to support the rights of both students and professors who would not be welcomed back to Madison College after the academic year. Part of the message read, “On Monday morning we will try to see our president about the professors who are leaving this year and next, about rights, and about the vanishing liberties of students and faculty alike. Help return justice to Madison.” The message resonated. APRIL 26-27, 1970 At 9:15 p.m. on Sunday, April 26, about 50 students stood in the lobby of Wilson Hall. An additional 100 students gathered on the front steps. It was a quiet atmosphere, meeting the expectations of the “vigil” it was promoted as, rather than a hostile protest, according to reports filed by the college administration.

I heard a bunch of my buds were over there and officials were giving them a hassle, I didn’t even know the protest was going on at the time, so I hightailed it over there to give them support.

STEPHEN ROCHELLE 1970 Mathmatics major

Fox gave a speech to students around 10 p.m., telling them they were disobeying a college handbook regulation stated that demonstrations could not take place indoors or without 48 hours notice. When he referenced the page number in the handbook that proved they were trespassing, students started laughing, according to reports filed by college administration. Rochelle and other students were unaware of the growth of the protest until word began to spread across campus. “I heard a bunch of my buds were over there and officials were giving them a hassle,” said Rochelle. “I didn’t even know the protest was going on at the time, so I high-tailed it over there to give them support.” Undeterred by chain locks and the brief speech by the dean, several students crawled through windows in the auditorium and bathrooms, encouraged by those who were already inside. “It was apparent that they were resolved to do what they had committed themselves to do,” Fox wrote in a statement addressed to Miller in regards to the sequence of the night’s events. “Many of them were almost irrationally cheerful, while others were calm and attentive to my comment as I read my statement.” Thirty protestors, including professors McClung and Adkins, remained in jail until they were arraigned on Monday afternoon. The courtroom was filled with almost 150 supporters. Applause rang out as the judge read each of the arrested students’ names. McClung received the most raucous

applause. Supporters jeered when Judge Porter R. Graves Jr. stated that the “peace and dignity of the commonwealth” had been violated. Rainey made his persistence known as he told the judge that the group intended to hire American Civil Liberties Union attorney John C. Lowe. Wearing A student protester flashes a peace sign from inside police van.

a black academic gown and black band around his head, he lectured reporters about a lack of respect on behalf of the officers during the protest. According to an April 28, 1970, article in the Daily News-Record, Rainey told reporters, “It was so hot [in the vans], we could not breathe. I feel that some of our rights were violated. The way we were treated was not very hospitable.” APRIL 27-APRIL 30, 1970 Despite rumors of a massive demonstration on Monday night in response to the arrests, only a brief rally was held in support of the arrested students and professors. On Thursday, April 30, Fox and 500 students held a formal discussion in Wilson Hall regarding longstanding grievances with the college, as well as the recent arrests. Students expressed skepticism of the president’s seemingly unjustified and excessive power in regards to the selection of faculty and, thus, students’ education. On April 29, a Daily News-Record article quoted senior Cindy Coolbaugh expressing her discontent of Madison’s restrictions. “I am told where to walk, what time I should come in with my dates and what I should think,” said Coolbaugh. At the meeting, students suggested forming a voting council that included administration, faculty and students that would review academic policies. Many in the Harrisonburg community did not empathize with the protesters’ cause and chalked up the incident up to the trend of martyrdom-seeking youth.

CURIO 2012

/ 33

“Ah, fashion has come to the Madison College campus,” one reader wrote in a Letter to the Editor published in the Daily News-Record. “Now, Madison can say that it, too, has its share of student protestors, each with a real, honest-goodness-police record.”

An officer wielding a police baton escorts a protester into the Rockingham County Jail.

Another reader expressed disgust that a trivial administrative decision sparked students’ anger, stating that, “the complaint of one professor was reviewed by an impartial faculty committee which found the college had acted properly,” referring to McClung’s appeal. May 15, 1970 McClung and 22 students pled not guilty in Rockingham County Court on May 15, but a local judge convicted them of trespassing. They were all fined $100, though most of the students’ fines were reduced to $25. Several knew immediately they would appeal the decision, but Lowe wanted to make it clear that, by appealing, they faced more severe punishment if the jury found them guilty. “We don’t need 26 people for a test case … you are not copping out if you stop here,” said attorney Lowe, according to a Daily News-Record published the day after the trial. The seven students who appealed were referred to as the Madison 7. At question were the First Amendment rights of students at a college or university. “I think they were strongly convinced they had First Amendment rights to be in Wilson Hall,” said Soenksen. The Madison 7 appeared in Rockingham Circuit Court to appeal their trespassing

conviction. Their decision backfired, however, and the jury handed down $500 to $1,000 fines, as well as six- to ninemonth jail sentences for Rainey, McClung

and Rochelle. The severe punishments issued by Rockingham County may have been a reflection of the general public’s opinion toward college protests, according

“ I stand up for things. I saw a great injustice going on with my fellow students, and I stood up.

34 / CURIO 2012

STEPHEN ROCHELLE 1970 Mathmatics major

Police officers and Madison College officials prepare arrest warrants as students sit in at Wilson Hall.

to Soenksen. “I do believe there is a special point when students have to sit in a local court,” said Soenksen. “It’s sort of a town versus gown mentality.” October 5, 1970 The Madison 7 appealed to the U.S. District Court, arguing that Madison College’s rules trampled their First Amendment rights. The handbook stated that any demonstration needed to be registered 48 hours in advance and cannot be held inside any building. Judge Robert R. Merhige Jr. ruled in the students’ favor and declared that the reasoning behind the rules was unconstitutional; the First Amendment protects “spontaneous and unplanned” activities, and a “blanketban over indoor demonstrations is unconstitutional just because individuals wish to use an indoor forum.” The victory was short-lived, however.

College officials appealed to the 4th District Court and the judges ruled in favor of the original ruling handed down by Rockingham County. The judges deemed the 48-hour registration and the indoor protest rules challenged by the students appropriate in light of “protecting College property and the educational process.” “The court awarded that the [48-hour] registration period almost provided a cooling-off period in which cooler heads might prevail,” said Soenksen. In December 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-2 decision, denied the writ of certiorari filed by the students to have their case heard. The group paid their fines, and six years later, Rainey, McClung and Rochelle began serving their jail sentences. Rochelle was in a work-release program when Virginia Gov. Mills E. Godwin issued the trio a pardon after serving three months.

“I hollered very loud and happily,” said Rochelle of learning about his pardon. “Scared everybody at work.” The case had little effect on changes to administrative policies regarding students’ rights to assemble at Madison College, and several other Virginia schools contacted Madison College for details pertaining to their student handbook regulations, according to Soenksen. Although the protesters at Madison College lost their legal battle and failed to affect lasting change in the academic policies at Madison College, Rochelle believes that it was a battle worth fighting. “I stand up for things,” said Rochelle. “I saw a great injustice going on with my fellow students and I stood up.”

CURIO 2012

/ 35

SWEET SPOTS It’s no secret:

Southerners love sweets. Whether it’s a hefty serving of homemade apple pie (á la mode, of course) on a warm summer evening or a slab of decadent pound cake during the holidays, we all crave a bit of indulgence. But what to do about your everyday sweet tooth?

Not to worry. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite bakeries in the Valley. All of these treats are made with care and an extra dose of sweetness. The best part? With so many great choices, you’re bound to find a sweet treat close by.


36 / CURIO 2012



ocated just off of James Madison University’s east campus, Cinnamon Bear Bakery and Deli offers a wide variety of baked goods for breakfast, lunch and dinner. One of their bigger draws includes their large sandwich menu, with 24 made-to-order sandwiches. Not feeling what they have on the menu? Feel free to build your own sandwich with a choice of meats, cheeses and breads. Each day, Cinnamon Bear has different quiche specials, which come with a side pasta or garden salad. Because of its proximity to the JMU campus, it’s quickly becoming a hit with students looking to escape the call of East Campus Dining Hall and Festival. Originally founded by Susan Fanella 25 years ago, Cinnamon Bear was recently bought by cousins Kate Magri and Matt Snyder. They were both surprised and pleased with the positive reaction they’ve gotten from the Harrisonburg community.

600 E University Blvd, Harrisonburg (540) 433-2867 Hours Monday – Friday: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“All of the road bumps that have come are pretty small,” said Synder. “The positives are definitely outweighing the negatives.” Snyder says he enjoys being his own boss and working with a partner, calling it an “invigorating feeling.” The recipes, such as the cinnamon buns and sandwiches, currently being served at Cinnamon Bear are the originals when the store first opened. However, Magri and Snyder are planning on changing the menu to reflect the change in management. “We’re adding weekly specials. Weekly sandwich, weekly salad, weekly soup. Just keeping everything fresh,” said Synder. Their most popular item is hard to determine for Magri. She says there’s not one thing that really outshines the rest of the items in terms of sales. One thing they have that other bakeries don’t is fresh baklava. “One of our employees [is] Turkish and gave us this really great recipe for baklava,” Magri said. “You need to try it. It’s amazing.”

CURIO 2012

/ 37


ver the past seven years, Shank’s Bakery has become a staple among families in the Harrisonburg community. Owner Janet Shank, along with her husband, has had the pleasure of watching the area around her grow and flourish since opening her bakery on Water Street. “There’s a dance studio down the block, and when the girls come out after their lessons, their parents always bring them in to give them a treat,” said Shank. It’s traditions like these that have helped Shank and her husband become such an integral part of the downtown scene. “It’s gotten to the point where I know exactly what someone’s going to order when they come in,” said Shank. Boasting not only a full menu of freshly baked breads, pies, cookies, muffins and other pastries, Shank’s also has a full coffee shop, offering a variety of drinks to wake up the body


38 / CURIO 2012

on those sleepy mornings. For the afternoon-to-evening crowd, they provide croissants, quiches and homemade soups. Shank’s brings unique kinds of breads to the table — literally. One recipe for white sourdough is a gift from her daughter-inlaw. Its origins lie in the Amish community. Shank also keeps Shoofly Pie, a molasses pie, in her cases. This is an uncommon treat that Shank prides herself on. To keep things local, Shank’s sells their baked goods and coffee at the Harrisonburg Farmer’s Market. Their coffee beans come from nearby provider Lexington Coffee Roasters, with bags of beans available for purchase at the bakery. A staple of the Shank’s menu is their chocolate chip cookie. It joins their other cookie selections of snickerdoodle, sugar and molasses crinkle cookies.

49 W Water St. Suite A, Harrisonburg (540) 433-2253 Hours Monday – Friday: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.



heresa Bergida makes all her products with health in mind. These baked products, made of fresh fruits and nuts, are made without flour and excessive sugar, giving gluten-free eaters a tasty alternative. But don’t call it fruitcake. These “cakeless cakes” blend dried fruit, dates, sweetened coconut and a variety of nuts for a delightful treat even the most health-conscious of people can enjoy. “It’s a gluten-free product … but other gluten-free products are trying to imitate a regular wheat product,” said Bergida. “This product appeals to everyone, it just happens to not have any flour in it, it’s not trying to imitate anything.” Bergida sells her product in health stores and coffee shops around the Valley, where customers can typically find small (about the size of your palm) heart-shaped tastes called “Heart Beats,” with or without a decadent chocolate coating. Orders for larger loaf sizes and special orders can be made online. “I’ve had someone who wanted a birthday cake made, so I was able to do that,” said Bergida. Twin Hearts Bakery also takes special orders for people who might be lactose intolerant or allergic to a certain nut or fruit. Approved by the Department of Agriculture to bake from her home, Bergida uses her own kitchen and dining room as her bakery and recruits her family as her helpers.

540-631-9164 Hours Vary Locations see below

“They’ve been really supportive, at times it’s been kind of crazy,” said Bergida. “They’re always coming up with great little ideas for marketing and things.” Though these sweet treats can be found in coffee shops yearround, the busiest times of year are during the holidays. Bergida says many people order loaves for their families for Christmas, buy large quantities of Valentine’s Day treats (in the heart shape, of course) and an Easter “Eggstravaganza,” which is an assortment pack of egg-shaped treats made with different nuts, such as almonds, walnuts and pecans. Orders made online are shipped anywhere in the country as soon as possible and arrive fresh to customers. Bergida also meets locals in Front Royal to deliver products by hand. Bergida has considered offering her products for fundraising in local schools as a way to help raise money for charities. In the future, Twin Hearts would like to expand to more coffee shops in the Valley, along the Dulles Corridor and in the D.C Metro area. Locations Front Royal – Better Thymes Natural Foods, Daily Grind on Main Street, Handy Marts, The Good Life Gift Shop Winchester – Daily Grind at Abrams Crossing, Espresso Bar & Café in the Old Town Walking Mall, Handy marts, Throx Market Middleburg – Cuppa Giddy Up Gainesville – Deja Brew Coffee House CURIO 2012

/ 39



he smells of sugar and cake batter fill the air as soon as you walk into the Sweet Tooth Bakery in the heart of Winchester. In a small corner shop, Joyce McDaniel and her team of bakers and decorators have been whipping up treats for the Valley since 1984. After moving to the current location six years ago, McDaniel says business immediately went up about 20 percent and has steadily increased. A large display case greets visitors with an array of sweet treats. Sweet Tooth offers all kinds of desserts, from traditional sugar cookies (a best-seller) to deliciously unconventional flavored cupcakes like Key Lime and Cotton Candy (the Creamsicle is a must-try – tart orange cake combined with a creamy vanilla frosting provides the right amount of sweetness without being overpowering). Anything chocolate is rich and decadent. However, they are most known for their made-to-order cakes. Decorated free-hand or constructed using edible images, each cake is special and unique to that particular order. Sweet Tooth can even

40 / CURIO 2012

3034 Valley Ave., Suite 110, Winchester (540) 667-6155 Hours Tuesday - Friday: 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

do 3-D cakes in any shape from turtles to trucks. The best part? You can get any kind of flavor or theme. From coconut to Tres Leches, and birthdays to retirements, McDaniel has gotten just about every request imaginable. The store also sells tools such as pans, food coloring, cake toppers, candy molds and other candy making supplies for those who do their own baking. Seeing the tools in the store can also help people who come in to place an order get an idea of what exactly they want. As is expected, holidays are the busiest times of year, especially wedding season. With 60 orders going out on a typical Saturday, McDaniel stays busy but is happy with the amount of new and returning customers. “It’s mostly by word of mouth,” said McDaniel. “We hope people enjoy our cakes and that we can make it special for them. We want the cake to make the party.”






CURIO 2012 CURIO 2012

/ 41 / 41

The cookies are always warm when they are delivered so you know they were made fresh.


hen business management major Scott Davidson proposed a JMU cookie delivery company as the business model for a team project, its most promising features didn’t fit the class requirements and they set the idea aside.

But after surveying his potential student customers and finding this market niche, Davidson’s passion for business brought cookies back to the table when he found free time to open his company during the fall of 2007. Since graduating in 2009, Davidson’s Campus Cookies has provided Harrisonburg with late-night warm, gooey, made-to-order cookies ever since, and experienced a slew of business changes along the way. When Campus Cookies first opened under the name Craving Cookies, Davidson was the sole employee: He baked, packaged and delivered every cookie ordered and was responsible for all of the marketing. Campus Cookies now has 24 employees and has expanded to include a branch in Blacksburg that caters to Virginia Tech students. Davidson currently plays four roles. He’s the regional manager for both sites, CEO for the company and the assistant manager for Virginia Tech. He’s responsible for making sure customers enjoy their Campus Cookies experiences at both locations, which he sees as key to long-term success. “There will always be system error and

42 / CURIO 2012

Kelly Overstreet Junior, James Madison University

human error, no matter how much you train the employees and invest into developers,” said Davidson. “I’ve handled problems all over the board, small to big, but 99.9 percent of our customers come away from us with a positive experience.” With the additional location in Blacksburg, Davidson emphasized the importance of policy, procedure, contracts and dependable management. He picked Blacksburg as the next location because Virginia Tech has a large, centralized campus similar to the JMU market. In the near future, Campus Cookies will introduce three new flavors of cookie cakes. Their revamped text messaging system will now be able to send texts to gift senders. Davidson plans to expand and add two more Campus Cookies locations in the next three years, although the exact plans are still “cookie confidential — you can make a good guess when you think of the logistics,” said Davidson.

keep moving forward in order to remain competitive.” Davidson said the success of Campus Cookies has nothing to do with cookies, but with offering variety and quality service. Customers like the novelty of having fresh cookies delivered to “anywhere there is emotion: girlfriend/boyfriend, parent to student. Gifts are a very important part to our business model,” said Davidson. “We had to create loads of value additive features to make us more than just cookie delivery. We had to create an experience.” Late-night hours appeal to students. Campus Cookies delivers until 1 a.m. on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, until 2 a.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, and until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

He always keeps a day-one mindset when solving problems in his business.

“I think that being a cookie delivery service is pretty unique in itself,” said sophomore French major Madeline Hennicke. “I found out about Campus Cookies pretty quickly after coming to JMU because they’re the go-to treat or late-night snack for a lot of JMU students.”

“You must always be evolving and creating value,” said Davidson. “Never take anything for granted, and always

Hennicke typically orders Campus Cookies due to a spur-of-the-moment craving, and likes that they deliver late every night. “My

favorite cookie would definitely be the raspberry shortcake, but to be honest, I like them all,” said Hennicke. Chocolate chip cookies are the most popular with customers, according to Davidson. He makes up most of the new cookie flavors and recipes, but also occasionally lets customers vote using surveys on different types of cookie. Campus Cookies offers more than 20 varieties of cookie, as well as brownies, cinnamon rolls and customizable cookie cakes. Customers can also add milk, ice cream or dipping sauces to any order. The Campus Cookies website and Facebook advertise daily specials. Different care package options include balloons and Campus Cookies apparel, gift cards and accessories. Gabe Fuentes, a junior business major, has been working for Campus Cookies for seven months. Officially he’s a delivery driver but Fuentes said that “most Campus Cookies employees do a bit of everything.” Fuentes also bakes and packages cookies. He described Davidson as a “really cool,

fun boss,” and Campus Cookies as a laidback, fun work environment. “It’s difficult to get a job at Campus Cookies, because everyone wants to work there,” said Fuentes. Fuentes used his connections with friends who were already employed by Campus Cookies to his benefit to secure a job there himself. On any given night, Campus Cookies generally fills 50 orders. “Sometimes you have to deal with really drunk people,” said Fuentes. “But sometimes people ask you to play fun jokes, and that’s something that we’re very willing to do.” One of Fuentes’ favorite on-job memories was pretending to be a Chinese delivery man at an unsuspecting apartment at the request of a customer. Junior psychology major Kelly Overstreet orders Campus Cookies monthly. “The cookies are always warm when they are delivered so you know they were

made fresh,” said Overstreet. “I like that they have all kinds of cookies; traditional cookies like chocolate chip, and the more expensive cookies, like chocolate peanut butter.” Since the initial cold reception his early business model received in class, Davidson said he has no regrets. “I’ve learned from my mistakes, and am glad that I sacrificed so much of my time to give Campus Cookies the chance it deserves,” Davidson said. “I will never forget what I have had to do to get to this point and will not take anything for granted.”

AMY CURTIS is a senior SMAD major with a concentration in journalism. She has interned as a video editor with Richmond CenterStage. She has also interned with and been published in the magazine Cooperative Living. She has also worked on Madison 101 as a writer, photographer and videographer. After graduation, she hopes to someday work abroad and will continue to enjoy the adventure that is life.

CURIO 2012

/ 43




44 / CURIO 2012

EVERY TRAIL HAS A STORY BEHIND IT. In the Shenandoah Valley, these stories go back for generations. Prominent peaks and sites on the mountain ranges set the scene for battles during the Civil War. Trails in the Shenandoah National Park and George Washington National Forest were built in part by the Civilian Conservation Corps founded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to create jobs during the Depression. Across the Valley, backpacking and camping excursions immerse hikers in the Appalachian wilderness where they can follow the footsteps of soldiers, pioneers and presidents. Here are some of the scenic and historic hikes within just an hour’s drive of Harrisonburg. CURIO 2012

/ 45

FURNACE MOUNTAIN During the Civil War, Furnace Mountain was a hot place to be. At the top of the mountain was a furnace used by Confederate soldiers during the Civil War to produce iron, according to Michael Seth, a history professor at James Madison University. Seth is a member of Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, a volunteer organization that helps to maintain many of the hiking trails in the Valley. The furnace was taken down years ago, but Seth said that, especially during the winter, you can still find pieces of iron scattered around the trail. Getting up there is also a bit of a historic trek. The Furnace Mountain Fire Road, where the trail begins, was originally used as the main road to Charlottesville, Seth said. When the National Park was dedicated in 1935 the road was closed, but the road was once the shortest route from Harrisonburg to the other side of the mountains. There are a few different ways to get to Furnace Mountain. One is for the more rugged adventurist — a 13-mile loop starting at Brown’s Gap off Skyline Drive, circling around Austin Mountain Trail to Furnace Mountain Trail and back via the

The Signal Knob trail in the George Washington National Forest leads to a panoramic overlook of the Valley on the northern tip of the Massanutten Mountains. The summit looks out over the town of Strasburg. During the Civil War, both Union and Confederate troops used the knob to survey each others’ positions, and both sides used flags, lanterns and other signals to communicate with troops in other parts of the valley. The Confederate signal corps used the knob frequently from 1862 to 1864 to communicate their status and positions to friendly troops across the Valley. Confederates made the first strike in the Battle of Cedar Creek after identifying Union troop positions from the vantage point, according to Bill Coughlin, contributing editor of the Historical Marker Database. To get to the trail from Harrisonburg, take Interstate 81 north and take Exit 296 toward Strasburg. Follow VA-55 E John Marshall Highway through town and through the third left turn at a traffic light onto East King Street, then drive five miles until a right turn on Fort Valley Road (Route 678). The main parking lot lies less than a mile past the sign for George Washington Forest. The trail begins on the right-hand side of the parking lot, and following

Trayfoot Mountain Trail. A shorter 7-mile hike is also off Skyline Drive via Trayfoot Mountiain Trail. suggests the simplest hike of all. From Harrisonburg, take Port Republic Road to the end and turn left at Browns Run Gap. This road turns into Furnace Mountain Fire Road, and there are places to park along the side. Walk down a little way until the post for Furnace Mountain Trail comes up. It’s about a 4-mile hike to the summit and back. While it is shorter, the hike is steep, and there are places where the trail gets very rocky and narrow. If the difficulty of the trail itself isn’t breathtaking enough, the views certainly are. Almost immediately as you make your way up the trail, there are views of the valley below. From the top, you can see the entire Valley area from Massanutten down toward Staunton. The trail is beautiful year-round, from the changing colors of fall to the mountain laurel, which lines much of the trail, blooming in the summer.

the orange trail route described by, it took 2½ hours to reach the summit view of Signal Knob. The orange trail continues from the summit and merges with a longer blue trail that loops back to the parking lot, creating a circuit around Meneka Peak that totals about 10 miles. The full loop takes approximately six hours including a lunch break, so plan to spend the whole day and get an early start to ensure enough daylight hours to complete the hike. The trail itself is very rocky with a few steep inclines in parts, not recommended for bikes or dogs, so it’s hard to imagine poorly-shod Civil War soldiers traversing the peak without a struggle. Mountain laurel encloses parts of the trail, large rocks lay scattered across the switchbacks and pine needles litter the ground at higher elevations. For a slightly shorter hike, after reaching Signal Knob double back one mile and take the white trail that bridges across the peak and connects with the blue trail and back to the start.


Front Royal (North) Entrance Station


Dickey Ridge Visitor Center

Ra pp ah


an no ck


Rive r


2085ft Signal Knob Overlook

Low Ga






Jenki r





Ri v e



and oah


Sh en



Th 30

Mt Marshall 3368ft

2655ft Gr ings Gap 3035ft Little Hogback O 3474ft Hogback Mtn 3385ft Hogback Overlook 20

Fo rk


Jor d a n

Gimlet Ridge

Range Vie


Massies Corner R u sh

Sou t



Pignut Mtn 2530ft



Jeremys Run Overlook 2410ft y m J e re

211 522 r

Beahms Gap 2485ft





Pass Mtn


P as s

Ri v




Tunnel Marys Rock



Thornton Gap

Tunnel Parking Over Hazel Mtn Overlo


Hazel Mountain




35 Pinnacles Overlook 3320ft




es River Gap 3100ft Hawksbill

21 1 340

Pinnacle P ak 40 3401ft Thorofare Mtn Overlook 3595

he Hug s




Whiteoak Canyon Parking 3510ft Limberlost Parking



Rive r

ock Springs Overlook 3380ft

ft Stony Man


Thornton Gap to Harrisonburg, 42 miles

Riv e



New Market

Thornton Gap to Washington, D.C., 80 miles




R i ver




Piney River






No r th








en a nd


707 601

k ock rlook

Old Rag 3268ft




1ft Hawksbill Peak in Park



Dark Hollow Falls Dark Hollow Falls Parking 3490ft


231 n

Ri ve


e R os

643 so



0ft b in

Upper Ha Spitler Hill Franklin Cliffs Overlook 3140ft Fishers Gap Overlook 3140ft








Milam G

670 Banco


Robins on







Grindstone Mountain 2850ft


Wolftown 623 p




Ri na nd oa h

Gap ation

Sou t



Riv er




Gap E 249

Mount 2740ft

Swi f




33 33 t n Ru

uth So

2255ft Simmons Ga 70ft Two Mile Run Overlook Brown Mtn R Ro c Mt ky n

Pi ek

r ve Ri


Swift Run Gap to Fredericksburg – 75 miles


Loft Mtn Wayside 2860ft Big Run Overlook

Roa ch

0ft Ivy

2860ft Rockytop Overlook

Port Republic


No rth

75 or


Brown Mtn 2840ft Overlook

rokenback Mtn 1750ft

Lo Mountain


County Line Mountain 1980ft


Riv ann a


R iver

Rive r

L ft Mou


I f r

di so


Hightop Mountain Parking 637ft


649 Swift Run Gap to Harrisonburg, 21 miles


Swift Run Gap 2365ft




Co nw






Huckleberry Mountain 2158ft


33 33

Kirtley Mountain 2593ft







Ru n





Ra pi d

Green Mountain 2149ft


Dr y


e Ri v

759 607




N a ked


t ai



Ri v er

Hazeltop 3812ft




R un


663 810

GROTTOES 2520ft Blackrock Summit Parking

CURIO 2012

85 yles Do

tn M Blackrock ot ft fo 4 ay 37 Tr 3 ft Blackrock Gap Tr

So uth

Rive r



/ 47

KATE KESSLER A sleeping bag, a mat, two pounds of granola, trash bags, a bottle of water, Aquamira tablets, a couple of aspirin, at least one map and a pen — for a total of 15 pounds. That’s all Kate Kessler needed as she hiked all 2,184 miles of the Appalachian Trail. She tackled the trek in sections, and after more than five years of effort, she completed the journey in 2006. Kessler, a Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communications professor at James Madison University, passed away January 8. What she left behind, among many things, was a love of the outdoors. “She was very personable and was always someone to learn from and share the love of the outdoors with,” said Steven Irons, a senior computer science major and former honors program student of Kessler’s who joined her on the Appalachian Trail. Kessler taught a wide variety of classes, including an honors course on the Holocaust and the rhetoric of a democracy. She was also involved in many organizations on campus, leading Safe Zones and participating in the Honor’s Council. “She was very student-centered, student-oriented,” said Sarah O’Connor, a WRTC professor and Kate’s friend. “She was involved with students in many ways, not just in the classroom.” In 2009, Kessler designed an honors class around one of her biggest passions — the Appalachian Trail. She and a group of students spent four weeks learning the trail. They hiked part of the trail beginning at Rockfish Gap and ending at Hawksbill Gap for a total of 67 miles. Each day the mileage increased, ending with a 33.5-mile hike. “I encouraged her to teach that class because I thought her stories were so powerful,” said Maureen Shanahan,

associate director of the Honors Program, who first worked with Kessler in 2005. Student participants in the course were able to experience Kessler fully in her element: out on the trail. “I always felt she was excited about whatever discoveries we made, she was very encouraging,” said senior biotechnology major Sarah Lott, who took the course. Kessler told students there was no shame in being unable to finish the trail, but no one went home early. “She was always there making sure we were happy with the experience,” Lott said. “I think sometimes we exceeded her expectations.” The challenge in continuing the course will be finding someone with Kessler’s experience and attention to detail, Falk said. She knew how to keep students safe in the wilderness and recommended the best socks for hiking. “Kate was very special at balancing the experience and providing what students need,” Falk said. Kessler battled with five different cancers in her lifetime, including melanoma, fallopian and ovarian. “She had gone through several times of thinking that her illness was terminal and then coming through it and being okay,” O’Connor said. “She was a very peaceful person.” O’Connor said Kessler would often talk about her experiences on the trail. She said when she couldn’t find lodging, she would cover herself with leaves and sleep off the trail. She also shared stories of the people she met along the trails, but she spent much of the hike solo. “She said she was never lonely,” O’Connor said. “She really seemed to enjoy the solitude and that time to think and just be out in nature.”

She really seemed to enjoy the solitude and that time to think and just be out in nature. SARAH O’CONNOR JMU Professor

Photo courtesy of the Department of Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication

48 / CURIO 2012

KAYLOR’S KNOB In the midst of the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt created a series of programs meant to bolster the job market. Among them was a conservation program that developed and maintained many of the natural parks in the nation, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The Massanutten mountain range is home to the original camp of the CCC, Camp Roosevelt, created in 1933. Kaylor Knob is one of the original trails designed by the group. There are two ways to hike to Kaylor’s Knob summit. One way, a roughly 6-mile hike, begins in the George Washington National Forest. Take U.S. Route 33 east to U.S. Route 602. Turn left onto Route 636; this road becomes Cub Run Road. Shortly after entering the forest, an orange-blazed trail marks Massanutten South Trail on the left, which begins the trail, according to Follow until it forks after a stream, following Second Mountain Trail, which is blazed blue. This trail forks again where the Kaylor’s Knob Trail begins. According to JMU history professor Michael Seth, if you are looking for more history, white markers near the beginning of the orange-blazed Massanutten Trail lead to the restored Boone

After a rough year in office, President Hoover decided he needed to escape the stresses of Washington, D.C. Of course, he came to the Appalachians. Rapidan Camp, also known as Hoover Camp, was built as the first presidential retreat in 1929. His wife, Lou Henry played a big part in the development, helping to design the cabins around the natural landscape. She described her vision for the camp as a “rather biggish establishment.” Marines helped to build and maintain the camp, and had their own camp near the President’s house. There were 13 cabins in the area that housed Hoover’s family, cabinet members and international guests, according to the National Park Service (NPS) website. Only three are still standing: “The Brown House” (as opposed to the White House), where Hoover and his wife stayed, “The Prime Minister’s House,” where the British Prime Minister stayed, and “The Creel.” Hoover certainly knew how to pick a vacation spot. The 1.5-

Run Shelter, one of the original shelters in the area. Also, at the end of Cub Run Road, there are views of Catherine Furnace, a restored iron smelter. Another, shorter hike begins at the Overlook in Massanutten Resort off Del Webb Drive and the hike is popular among mountain bikers. The pink and blue trail to Kaylor Knob is roughly 1.7 miles from the parking lot, so round-trip the hike is a little over three miles and takes about two hours to complete. The walk itself is not strenuous. The gradual incline and almost sandy pathway make for an easy stroll for bikers, hikers with dogs or families with children. Even before spring has fully arrived, the vegetation along the path glows minty green from the lichen that cover the damp limbs of shrubs, tree branches and rotting logs. The view at the clearly marked Kaylor Knob summit overlooks Peterfish Gap and Hartman Knob, but on a foggy day the clouds descend almost on the trail and obscure the view. Fortunately, it still makes for a good picnic spot.

mile hike to the camp begins across from the Milam Gap parking area on the Appalachian Trail. It’s a mild hike, with a couple of tricky spots where the trail crosses over the streams and at Big Rock Falls. Mill Prong Trail leads down into the camp area. Gravel paths lead to various houses and landmarks within the site, including the Prime Minister’s House and a giant outdoor fireplace Hoover used for photo opportunities. The first house on the trail, The Creel, was once used by White House aides and is now being used to house NPS staff, according to signs at the site. Hemlock Run, a small stream that runs through the camp, was not a convenient work of mother nature that just happened to enhance the camp. Hoover created this artificial stream by diverting it from Laurel Prong. The stream was also supposedly stocked with fish whenever Hoover came to visit.


/ 49

: B U L C H T R A E e h t Y n i T I L I B A N I A T SUS Y E L L A V STORY

S BY chrissy


50 / CURIO 2012


Valley Crop Mobbers clear out weeds and rocks from the soil.


ong before James Madison University carved its green niche with environmental stewardship and integrated science and technology, students created their own ways to spread awareness and get involved through EARTH Club.

The student group is best known for its annual celebration of Earth Week, which took place this year on February 6-10. Both weeks were filled with free activities including a community bike ride, yoga, deep ecology workshops and other events that were open to all students and the community, promoting sustainability and environmental awareness. Although Earth Week takes place once a year, the members of E.A.R.T.H. Club sustain momentum for green-conscious causes year-round. “Before I joined E.A.R.T.H. Club, I didn’t even consider being a farmer,” Chelsea Biagioli, a sophomore social work major, said. “E.A.R.T.H. Club has changed my perspective on how to have a more environmentally conscious way of life.” Since the national Student Environmental Action Coalition conference formed E.A.R.T.H. Club in 1989, the environmental group at James Madison University focuses on promoting sustainability and community. E.A.R.T.H. (Environmental Awareness and Restoration Through our Help) Club members educate themselves and raise awareness about a variety of environmental issues. The Club itself serves as a space where students can delve into environmental activism through involvement with national campaigns and a catalyst for the creation of on-campus campaigns and related organizations. Ryan Bowen, a senior philosophy major, first became involved with E.A.R.T.H. Club because he wanted to work with people who are “similarly environmentally conscious.” He plans to pursue a career in environmental advocacy post-graduation, but since fall 2011 he’s been working with E.A.R.T.H. Club to develop a proposal for a Green Fund to submit to JMU’s business administration. The current proposal would add $5 to the cost of tuition and develop a sum of money used specifically for environmental issues. By April 13 Bowen had collected 616 signatures from students supporting the proposal. The administration’s response will determine how long it could take to implement a Green Fund at JMU. A previous Green Fund proposal was ultimately vetoed for the 2007/2008 school year, despite the Student Government Association passing a bill of opinion and referendum. Money from a Green Fund can be used in several different ways. The Green Fund in place at William and Mary has provided bottle refill stations and a community garden, and Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia are attempting to establish their own

Green Funds. Proposed uses include weatherizing buildings to increase energy efficiency, providing on-site renewable energy with wind turbines or solar panels, and for educational purposes and campaigns. Bowen’s additional focus is on the structural and organizational development within the club. He wants to make sure that the way that E.A.R.T.H. does things is sustainable and effective, and that people are empowered in their experience. “Through my work with E.A.R.T.H. Club, I’ve learned to be patient with the process of social change and with individual people realizing such,” Bowen said. “In order to create change, it requires patience.” Other grassroots organizations that E.A.R.T.H. Club has supported include Mountain Justice, dedicated to abolishing mountaintop removal and focused specifically in the Appalachia coalfields. Members of E.A.R.T.H. Clurcb have annually attended Mountain Justice Spring Break and Mountain Justice Summer, which are week-long training camps in West Virginia that further educate about the detrimental impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining. Power Shift is an annual national conference that E.A.R.T.H. Club has attended in Washington, D.C., lobbying for cleaner energy and turning away from reliance on fossil fuels. Speakers at past Power Shifts include Al Gore and Nancy Pelosi. On campus, E.A.R.T.H. Club has sponsored environmental documentary screenings and hosted speakers like the Beehive Design Collective. E.A.R.T.H. held the sixth Festival Fest, an all-day free music and sustainability awareness festival, on JMU’s Festival Lawn on April 21. E.A.R.T.H. Club also organizes an annual “Alley Cat” themed scavenger hunt bike race to promote the use of alternative transportation. For similar reasons, E.A.R.T.H. also started “No Drive Day,” a day when students are encouraged to walk, bike, or skateboard to class rather than drive to campus. In 2006, E.A.R.T.H. Club members joined with other clubs in favor of clean energy to form the Clean Energy Coalition. The Clean Energy Coalition’s main goal was for JMU to move toward clean energy and reduce its carbon footprint. In 2008, that goal was officially realized when President Linwood H. Rose signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. A direct on-campus result of that commitment was the formation of the JMU Institute for Stewardship of the CURIO 2012

/ 51

JMU E.A.R.T.H. meets in Taylor 302 every Tuesday at 7:3 0 p.m.

Natural World, which proposes steps the university can take to become more sustainable. Also in 2008, E.A.R.T.H. Club becoming one of 10 JMU organizations deemed so significant to the university that they must be budgeted front end. JMU class of 2009 anthropology alumni Marley Green stresses that it is important

s students ram allow g ro p re weeks a Sh et for two lm e The Cycle h a d n bike a to rent a arge. free of ch

for everyone to recognize the power of students, and said there should be more students in decision-making roles at JMU. Green says that students organized and built a movement to say “this is important to us,” and they raised awareness and achieved their goals. The Clean Energy Coalition started and ran the Village Green Wars in 2009, promoting energy conservation through a rivalry

among the residents in the village dorms of JMU. After tallying weekly energy and water use, the dorm that used the least won a prize. The Clean Energy Coalition also co-organized JMU’s RecycleMania, a national waste reduction competition between universities striving to be the least wasteful. The Clean Energy Coalition also won a $1,000 eco-grant from MTV’s 2006 national Break the Addiction Challenge for their promotion of clean energy.

Cycle Share e Share, JMU was developed in EARTH Club. With Cycl Cycle Share is a separate JMU club that plimentary and helmet for two weeks. Tube & Lube com students only need their JACard to rent a bike Planning for andoah Bike Co. at the Cycle Share rentals. bike adjustments are also provided by Shen Cycle Share ago. s year was first seriously talked about 3 Cycle Share unofficially began in 2007, and says that an TH Club and Cycle Share member Emily Wym opened during the 2010 fall semester. EAR r bike library Share] grow so much in just a year.” Thei it’s a “really exciting process to see [Cycle demand; all sizes, and there’s a growing popularity and currently has 19 trek hybrid bikes in 4 different ents are in stud st “mo w every week. Wyman says that of the bikes get rented out and members rene of EARTH ide is excited to have growing membership outs disbelief that it’s free” to rent a bike. Wyman ersity may take TH Club. She hopes that some day the univ Club as well as constant support from EAR option for all students. Cycle Share over and make renting bikes an

52 / CURIO 2012

JMU senio

r George L eisure use s a garden to prepare hoe the soil fo r planting.

an plants ember Emily Wym m b lu C H RT EA JMU rs. Valley Crop Mobbe seeds with other

“ [We’re] marginalized as hippie radicals, but that’s really not the case. OLIVIA MERRION JMU SMAD MAJOR

E.A.R.T.H. Club has a unique dynamic that provides support for environmental students to further delve into their specific passions concerning sustainability. JMU 2011 alumni Alex Davenport hopes to pursue a master’s degree in environmental advocacy and strives to bridge the gap between social and environmental justice. “E.A.R.T.H. Club introduced me to a world that I’d read about in my [Justice Studies] major, and knew the principles of, but hadn’t yet seen and experienced,” Davenport said. As a member of E.A.R.T.H. Club, he met people who he never would have otherwise, and made the most of opportunities. He worked closely with West Virginia environmental activist Judy Bonds, who earned the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2003 for her work to end mountaintop removal, and is featured in the 2007 documentary “Mountaintop Removal.” Through his involvement with EARTH

Club he invited her to speak at JMU several times.

impact of various cultivation styles found near Harrisonburg.

Davenport says that one of the great things about E.A.R.T.H. Club is that there is a “steady evolution to it because it is consensus based and non-hierarchal,” because there are no official leadership positions but everyone is encouraged to participate on all levels. As new members join and others graduate, the specific environmental focus changes to reflect new interests.

“Whatever I end up doing in the future, I hope that I keep an environmental focus,” Merrion said. Merrion describes herself as passionate about environmental justice in general, and wants to “weave [her] passion for environment and social justice into the documentary framework to expose social injustice.”

Olivia Merrion, a junior media arts and design major, recently co-directed a documentary with fellow E.A.R.T.H. Club member John Picklap, who is also a junior media arts and design major. Their documentary, The Farm Course, followed students enrolled in the JMU farm internship program and supplemented information about small scale local farms. The Farm Course discusses the American food system, and on a more local level, the

Merrion said that E.A.R.T.H. Club provides a real atmosphere of family and community with. “[We’re] marginalized as hippie radicals, but that’s really not the case,” Merrion said. “We definitely fill the spectrum of types of people because of [E.A.R.T.H.] non-hierarchal structure. There’s a very accepting feel, and very minimal judgment.”

CURIO 2012

/ 53

DANK-U Very Much


54 / CURIO 2012








You might have seen it cruising around Harrisonburg: a brightly painted yellow truck with a blue emblem with “Dank-U” printed on its side. Or perhaps you may have spotted it sitting in the University Outpost parking lot off Port Republic Road on the weekends, the faint aroma of fried foods lingering around it while hungry patrons line up to satisfy late-night cravings.

started off as a college student’s idea to make a little extra money on the weekends grew into the concept of The Dank-U Truck.

In either case, The Dank-U Truck is quickly becoming a popular eatery in Harrisonburg. Established this past November by James Madison University alumnus, CJ Friedman, Dank-U’s specialty is its pita pockets, served fresh and hot right out of the truck. With a degree in international business and a minor in French, Friedman first began cooking for friends and family at age 13. Since then, he has always had a fondness of cooking for others.

It would not be until after graduation that Friedman was able to fully invest his time into his dream. With investments made by Ceccotti, Nick Passero and Larson Thune, three of Friedman’s close friends, as well as a local business owner, he was able to raise the funds to begin his food truck endeavor.

“I realized my passions in life and was able to integrate them together, I love business and conducting it,” said Friedman. “I’ve always loved cooking for people as well.” Given Dank-U’s mobile nature, Friedman used a combination of word-of-mouth as well as social networking as a means to stay in touch with his customer base. Using both Facebook and Twitter, Friedman reached out to the community with online updates ranging from special deals on certain foods, catchy songs found on the Internet or optimistic quotes that Friedman hoped would further convey Dank-U’s underlying message and vision. “I like the Dank-U truck on Facebook,” said senior Sean Fetterman. “I like it because it updates me on where it will be and when it is open. I like the songs the owner puts up as well.” Friedman initially came up with the concept of operating his own food truck business at the beginning of his senior year in 2011. He recalled that during classes and on the weekends, the idea of owning his own business was never far from his thoughts. What

“I developed the business plan in September [2011] with one of my partners, Chris Ceccotti,” said Friedman. “My initial goal was to get it open senior year.”

“I think it’s profitable because the expenditures on their part are low,” said Anthony Pigninelli, a senior public policy and administration major at JMU. “I think food trucks in college towns are a good idea.” Through the collaborative effort, Friedman and his investors worked to bring Friedman’s vision into reality. “We were able to work together and use our collective minds to integrate the business plan that we developed,” said Friedman. With the backing of his investors, Friedman decided that the next logical step would be to find the right truck to suit his needs. He dedicated hours of his time searching online for food trucks of all shapes and sizes before Friedman finally located the perfect match. “I ended up finding the big yellow winnie on Craigslist in Lebanon, Maine, 25 minutes from my house in New Hampshire,” said Friedman. Friedman declined to reveal the actual price of his purchase, but he was able to acquire the truck just days before leaving on a study

“ I realized my passions in life and was able to integrate them together, I love business and conducting it. I’ve always loved cooking for people as well. CJ FRIEDMAN founder and owner of The Dank-U Truck

CURIO 2012

/ 55

Coffee Truck Price range: $2 for a small coffee to $5 for a frozen specialty Location: Kinko’s next to Bluestone Drive or near Urban Exchange apartments Food type: Beverages Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Run by 26 year-old Evan Butterfield, the Coffee Truck’s initial goal was to run a beverage truck to complement other food trucks. Since it started rolling in July, the Coffee Truck has served Harrisonburg and the surrounding areas. As the name suggests, the most popular drink on the Coffee Truck are the espressos and brewed coffee. Different brews and specialties include their frozen red eye and mocha, their sumatra drip coffee, and a cortado, a mix of 2/3 espresso and 1/ steamed milk. 3

Tacos El Primo Location:1110 Reservoir St. Food type: Mexican Hours:11:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m

Tacos El Primo arrived in Harrisonburg from California in 2005. Their taco truck can be identified by the brightly colored teal paint used to decorate their establishment. Tacos El Primo boasts authentic Mexican food while keeping their dishes simple and effective. Some of the most popular dishes include their hand-wrapped burritos and the traditional taco.

abroad trip to Paris. It was in Europe that Friedman created the initial ideas for the items now seen on The Dank-U Truck’s menu. “I spent a great deal of time thinking about it,” said Friedman. “I also traveled to Strasbourg and Amsterdam while I was abroad where I was exposed to even more delectable treats. I think the entire experience helped culminate everything I’ve learned about food and allowed me to create a menu that works beautifully and deliciously with all the original danksters here at JMU.” But before the menu was officially established, there were several discussions on what types of food The Dank-U Truck should specialize in for its patrons. Friedman offered his own ideas of how to best appeal to customers. “We went from wraps to specialty burgers to subs,” recalled Friedman. “And I just came up with the idea for the pita pocket.” Friedman said that the most popular item on the menu is the “Buffalo Danks.” “The food was delicious,” said Pigninelli. “I got the Buffalo Danks. It was an interesting combination of things that don’t normally go together, but it works.” Paying homage to D-hall’s iconic “Buffalo Mash,” Friedman took inspiration from the idea and created a tasty meal consisting of chicken, smashed french fries, homemade buttermilk ranch, cheddar cheese and hot sauce. “The Buffalo Danks count for almost 50 percent of our sandwich sales,” said Friedman. “We have five sandwiches, working on six or seven. We are adding new ones all the time.” All of the food served by The Dank-U Truck was freshly prepared on a daily basis. Everything from the sauces to the roasted red peppers were cooked by Friedman on the truck itself. “I love the name of the place,” said senior Tyler Robinette. “The food is great and the owner is always friendly.”

Mamma’s Caboose

Price range: $25 for four, $13 for half portions Location: Bridgewater (Mondays), downtown Harrisonburg (Tuesdays), Dayton (Wed.-Fri.), and Bluestone Vineyard in Bridgewater every other Friday. Food Type: Italian/ American/ Southwest Hours: 11 a.m. to around 2 p.m. (hours variable)

Diane Roll’s bright red caboose has been dishing up some home cooking from her truck since it started in Pennsylvania. Her meals and food types vary by week, but some previous dishes include grilled chicken with herbs and bruschetta pasta salad, meatloaf with mashed potatoes, cheesesteaks, reubens, Italian sausages and their signature dish, cabooski — fried cabbage and noodles also known as Halushki or spaetzle.

56 / CURIO 2012

Friedman recalled that the initial title for his food truck was simply known as “The Danks.” Friedman explained that “dank” was casual slang among many of his peers, and could mean anything from good cars to good food. However, Friedman ultimately decided to go with something that would be more easily identifiable with the public. As time went on and he continued to brainstorm, Friedman eventually changed The Danks into its current name, Dank-U. “Dank-U just sort of came into my head as Chris and I were brainstorming on a Google doc,” said Friedman. “I noticed that Dank-U could mean a whole assortment of things ...‘dank’ still has that connotation meaning something that is awesome and delicious for our generation, and the U could be in reference to the university that we’re serving — it all just came together pretty perfectly.”

Friedman purchased the Dank Truck-U from a seller on Craigslist from Lebanon, Maine (price undisclosed). It now spends weekend nights in the JMU Outpost’s parking lot catering to hungry students.

“ I’d rather work 90 hours a week for myself than

60 or 50 hours a week for someone else’s dream. I’d rather work to make my own dreams come true. CJ FRIEDMAN founder and owner of The Dank-U Truck With five different sandwich combinations, five different homemade sauces and a variety of side orders to choose from, Friedman was always experimenting with different types of food in order to expand his menu and refine his cooking skills. Friedman claimed that one of the most important aspects of his job was being prepared for the peak hours on the weekends in order to keep things running smoothly. The busiest time for Dank-U was typically late Friday and Saturday nights between the hours of 11:45 p.m. to 3 a.m.

“People are always asking me, ‘Well you’re working like 80, 85, 90 hours a week, doesn’t that suck?” explained Friedman. “My initial response is always to say I’d rather work 90 hours a week for myself than 60 or 50 hours a week for someone else’s dream. I’d rather work to make my own dreams come true.”

“We like to set up right in the heart of the JMU night scene so we always catch the awesome partiers walking to their next destination, looking for some dank eats on their way,” said Friedman. “Our Sunday Brunch is also very popular.”

“I have a very consistent, awesome group of regulars that come at least two or three times a week,” said Friedman. “Every day we have new customers coming saying that they’re referred to by those regulars — so my regular customer base is growing while my overall customer base is growing along with it.”

With the exception of occasional assistance from a roommate or close friend, Friedman is solely responsible for opening and closing the food truck, preparing the meals and maintaining the truck’s condition. Everything from refilling propane tanks to restocking inventory rests on the entrepreneur. Despite the long hours, Friedman takes it all in stride with a smile.

In addition to swiftly growing popularity among the community, The Dank-U Truck enjoyed the patronage of numerous loyal customers during the week, many of whom Friedman knew on a first name basis.

The Dank-U Truck remained open all week with the exception of Mondays. “I typically sell out of all my foods on Friday or Saturday nights,” said Friedman. Like any food service industry, food trucks were regulated by law to conduct business on private property. Friedman explained

that as of the beginning of March, he would be paying for his location in the University Outpost parking lot in order to continue to conduct his business. He was also still expected to uphold the standards of health inspections and obtain a certificate of the state of Virginia in order to operate his food truck to ensure it follows health code regulations. As for plans for the future, Friedman wanted to focus on establishing his current location before any further expansion would take place. “Eventually my goal is to spread Dank-U’s message across universities,” said Friedman. “The message extends beyond food, it’s trying to be the best and most positive people we can be.”

ERIC WAGNER is a senior SMAD major with a concentration in journalism and a minor in creative writing. He was born in Fairfax, Va., and was raised in Hackettstown, N.J.. Robert is a contributing editor at Madison Magazine, and aspires to write feature articles for Outdoor Magazine.

CURIO 2012

/ 57

visit our site for:

curio now online!

full stories multimedia curio from years past

CURIO 2012  
CURIO 2012  

This is the 2012 edition of Curio Magazine, a Shenandoah Valley magazine produced by JMU students.