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Writing For Progressive Change

A Call to Rural Action Participatory Development in Appalachia

Collaborative Art Confidential

Subcultures In Athens The Diversity of Athens

Issue 55 | Spring 2014





core to InterActivists as is a fierce desire to challenge the norms.


Since its inception, The InterActivist has evolved to encompass

JUSTICE AND PROGRESSIVISM IN SOUTHEAST OHIO. It is the second-oldest student publication in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University in beautiful Athens. It is produced with funding from the OU Student Senate’s Student Activities Commission (SAC), the Generation Progress

conversation on all the latest in facets of the innovative Athens culture – from politics to art to music to science to religion – and how it relates to its residents and the world at large. The InterActivist’s mission is to speak loudly the voices that would otherwise not be heard.

arm of the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C.,

Although the InterActivist staff reserves the right to reject submis-

reader donations, advertising revenue, and fundraising dollars..

sions, the views expressed in The InterActivist belong to individual

The InterActivist fThe InterActivist is a socially progressive counterculture magazine published twice yearly by the student organization InterAct covering issues from or related to the Southeast

authors and do not necessarily coincide with the positions of its publications or co-sponsors, the members of these organizations, the magazine’s staff, or its contributors.

Ohio area, specifically Ohio University, the city of Athens, and

For information on joining our staff or supporting work, please

the surrounding Appalachia. A belief in humanistic equality

email or visit us at www.athensin-

regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, orientation, or biology is

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with us!

In this issue... OU InterActivist


PHASE CHANGE The Future of Mobile Technology


SHAMANISM Through the Eyes of the Crow








1 2 A CALL TO RURAL ACTION Appalachians Band Together for Betterment of

MANAGING EDITOR Sophie Kruse Lindsay O’Brien

Environment and Communities





Brooke Baldi

Sean King

PUBLIC RELATIONS Spencer Potrocky Kaylee Powers Blake Mohr


Diverse Campus Provides Insight into How Communities Form


Peter Andrews Olivia Harlow Erin McKelle Dennis Meeker Olivia Miltner Ryan Powers Chris Yangas

ON THE COVER: Tim Ferrell, the Water Quality Specialist at Monday Creek Restoration Project, moves dirt to the side of a flume to calculate the flow rate of a tributary to Monday Creek in Perry County, Ohio on March 10, 2014.

DESIGNERS Lindsay Citraro Rachel Ertel

PHOTOGRAPHERS Eli Hiller Lucas Reilly Alexandra Polanosky


Nikki Volpenhein Peter Zeisler COVER PHOTO by Eli Hiller COVER DESIGN by Brooke Baldi


Phase Change The Future of Mobile Technology writte

n by P


mart phones have tied us into social networking, for better or for worse. Whether we are posting our fancy meal on Instagram, or making snarky remarks about some of the questionable photos that are uploaded to Facebook daily, our cell phones are now an integral part of our generation’s lifestyle.  Mobile devices and mobile computing have advanced and evolved at a blistering speed over the past decade. Cell phones have an unbelievable amount of space to store gigabytes of media. We can fit entire TV series and digital copies of thousands of pages of books from around the world in the palm of our hand (quite literally).  In order to maintain this acceleration of technological advancement, the hardware in mobile devices needs to be capable of processing and storing information at an increasingly difficult-to-achieve rate and efficiency.  A major component of this issue is the nonvolatile memory used in mobile devices. Nonvolatile means that you can power down the device and still access the information stored in it when you turn it back on. Whenever you make a note on your phone about remembering to finally return that Panini press (we’ve all been there) that you borrowed, it stays in the phone because of nonvolatile memory. Flash memory has been the industry standard for nonvolatile memory since the early 1990s. Flash memory works by trapping electrons in a “gate” that distinguishes between a high voltage and a low voltage. These two modes are what we think of when talking about binary language; they correspond to the 1’s and 0’s that represent “On” and “Off”, respectively. This method has done the job up until now, but scientists have found that flash memory is beginning to plateau. Enter phase-change memory. Phase-change memory, or PRAM as it’s called, operates on the

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same “On” and “Off” premise as flash memory, but with a fundamental difference: the two modes are actually two different physical states. When chalcogenide glass – the material used to make PRAM – is at a low temperature, it is in an amorphous state. This is analogous to flash memory’s “Off” mode. When the glass is heated to its crystallization temperature (140 degrees Celsius), it starts to hold a certain rigid form. This phase is the “On” mode of PRAM.  Flash memory and PRAM operate on the same principle of binary coding. However, the energy that it takes to switch phases of PRAM – in simple terms, from liquid to solid – is much less than the energy it takes to switch voltages in flash memory, thus making phase-change more cost-effective.  At this point, you may be crying out in indignation, “Well why doesn’t my phone have PRAM? I want to stream “Game of Thrones” from shady European websites faster!” Although understandable, your outrage is misplaced. PRAM still has several problems and inconsistencies that need to be addressed before replacing flash memory as the dominant nonvolatile memory type in mobile devices. A major point of contention is the material that should be used. Researchers have found that the optimal substance so far is a compound commonly called “GST”. This stands for the elements Ge-Sb-Te off the Periodic Table, which refers to germanium, antimony, and tellurium. These elements have exhibited properties that make them prime candidates for usage in PRAM, namely their low crystallization temperature. This means less energy consumption to switch from one mode to the other. Even though GST is thought to be the best material, Ohio University physics Prof. David Drabold, PhD, is delving further into possible alternatives. Drabold has been researching the effects of adding silver to the GST compound.

His rationale lies in a conversation he had with a colleague years prior. “We were chatting, and we were discussing the low crystallization temperature of silver,” he said. “It occurred to me then to try putting silver in the compound, and see how it changes the behavior of the substance.” Here at Ohio University, Dr. Drabold has been doing just that in collaboration with fellow physics professors and several graduate students. Their results showed that there was in fact a correlation between the efficiency of the compound and the addition of silver. You can read about the study and the conclusions the team came to on Dr. Drabold’s faculty page on the

Samsung already has unveiled and marketed several phones with phase-change memory, and rival companies are sure to follow suit.” physics and astronomy department’s website. Although there are still issues with PRAM, Samsung already has unveiled and marketed several phones with phase-change memory, and rival companies, such as Numonyx, are sure to follow suit. In the midst of big business competition, Dr. Drabold and the team are bringing the future of mobile technology to OU and our own city of Athens. 


Through the Eyes of a Crow written by E LI


was lost. After turning onto a dusty road, I somehow ended up where I had been just 15 minutes ago. I squirmed in my seat to reach my flip phone and was ecstatic to find I had two bars of service. He answered within seconds as if he had known. “You were using one of those mapping technologies or a GPS weren’t ya?” he joked. Guilty. Nearly 40 minutes earlier, I had printed directions to get me to the middle of nowhere. Without hesitation, he vividly described the three turns I had to make to reach his house. Nearing my destination, the landscape began to rapidly morph into a dense forest with ancient pine trees and moist sandstone cliffs. I almost flew past it. A natural barrier of foliage blocked its view from the road forcing me to make a spilt-second decision. I parked. I grabbed a notebook. I took a few photos and began to assess the scene. The house’s exterior was burgundy, now fading to a brown, and appeared to have had several additions since its original design. A small wisp of smoke billowed out from one of the two chimneys and floated up a nearby-forested slope. Surrounding the structure was a murky s-curved creek, bloated by melt water from three weeks of accumulating snow. It wouldn’t surprise me later to discover that the dwelling was formally known as Dragon Waters. An older man in purple crocs, a thick flannel shirt and black jeans prompted me to come inside. He had a strong nose, faded tattoos on his wrist and salt-n-pepper hair that reached halfway down his neck. He offered me some tea and quickly scalded the old ethics of journalism. “As an anthropologist, I was always taught to accept anything I was given while in another’s home,” he said. “Unless, I’d be considered rude,” he finished as he headed towards his kitchen. Fitting: his living room walls were decorated with handcrafted baskets, painted plates and bizarre woodcarvings that hinted at his many travels. He poured me a cup of Chinese loose-leaf green tea, one of his four cats


claimed a spot on his lap and we began talking on his couch. He was born as Martin A. Nettleship in Durham, North Carolina but spent most of his youth on his grandmother’s farm in Fayetteville, Arkansas near the Ozark Plateau. At age 15, he left to obtain his undergraduate and masters at University of Chicago in cultural anthropology specializing in Southeast Asia. He went on to receive a Ph.D., specializing in aborigines in Taiwan, at the London School of Economics and

The shaman doesn’t do the healing. The shaman is just a bridge.” - CROW Political Science in London, England. “I had been going to school my whole life. I was fed up with it. I couldn’t even think about looking for a teaching job in the academic world,” he said with a chuckle. After 18 years of higher education, he began working on an organic cattle farm at the foothills of the Missouri Ozarks and it was there he experienced something life changing; crows began to speak with him. “It started one fall day and I was out putting up a fence line, which is very repetitious,” he said carefully. “It tends to put you in kind of a trance state. In that state I was aware of the crows. They were in their fall madness and they were talking to me. I didn’t write it down but the sense of it was, we are with you and you are with us.” He frantically called a former college friend of his from London, who was teaching anthropology in California. ‘“Phillip! What the hell is going on?’” he reenacted in a high

itched voice. “Phillip laughed and said ‘Oh hey man. Just chill. You’re just having a shamanic experience. Oh fine.’ I admitted.” Nettleship felt embarrassed he hadn’t recognized it at first. “Shamanism is everywhere when you study anthropology, all tribal peoples are shamanic,” Nettleship started to explain. “So in a sense, my formal academic training in anthropology was my formal training in Shamanism.” He and Phillip Staniford had similar experiences and for the next few years they made regular phone calls sharing their feedback and mentoring each other. It was from these interactions that Nettleship eventually took the name Crow Swimsaway. It would be another ten years before Crow began sharing his Shamanic teachings with others. In 1976, Crow moved to Athens County with his third wife who was hired to teach modern dance at Ohio University. At that point, Crow had studied silversmithing for three years and he opened up a studio in the Athens area. “A lot of the work I did was shamanically inspired or inspired by tribal arts,” he elaborated. In 1980, after he separated from his third wife, Crow met another spiritual artist, Bekki Shining Bearheart, who created oil painting landscapes that were influenced by her metaphysical and astrological work. “He was definitely a Virgo, attractive, but I didn’t want anything to do with him,” Bearheart recalled. “When he talked to me, I crossed my fingers hoping nothing would happen between us,” Bearheart said over a phone conversation. After three months she realized they had many common interests: art, gardening, and spirituality. They soon married and shared their different insights on metaphysical disciplines and spirituality. Between 1980 and 1982, Crow and Bekki were attending pagan festivals and he admitted saying to a friend “This is really terrible; they’re spreading misinformation (about Shamanism) and this is not good.” In 1982, he and Bekki began formally teaching Shamanism and started


F R O M P R E V I O U S PA G E The Church of Earth Healing, offering energy healing, journeying, psychopomp, soul retrieval and other metaphysical healing. To help his clients, Crow ventures on a shamanic journey by first entering a trance state. Methods include dancing, meditation, medicinal herbs but the most universal practice is drumming. While in trance, Crow journeys to one of the three lands of spirit and makes connection with spirit helpers. “The shaman doesn’t do the healing. The shaman is just a bridge,” he said as a nearly freezing rain hits a nearby window. I challenged him with a grin. “What was your funniest experience?” He first described a healing technique known as psychopomp, Greek for soul guiding, which helps a deceased person’s soul leave our world. A senior male member of a family died in a motorcycle accident but be continued to visit them in their dreams. “So I went into the shamanic process, found him and he was a cheerful guy. I asked him if I could help him complete his journey. ‘Nope, I’m not going. I don’t know what they’ve done with my Harley! They promised me they would give it to my niece,’” Crow said in a gruff voice. “I talked to family members sitting around and they told me the machine had been fixed and the title was being transferred. I told him. He said ‘Okay. I’m ready; help me across,’” Crow said as his chest and head rose. During the 80s, most of Crow’s clients were

from the pagan community but today he’s just as likely to get a phone call from anyone. “I had an interview on Saturday with a woman, probably in her sixties, who was catholic and needs some healing work. She’s not a typical alternative type person. She drives a Mercedes Benz for heaven’s sake!” Crow clarified as he threw up his hands. He said, “People interested in Shamanism are coming from a much wider spread of society compared to 40 years ago.” I had to do some digging. According to a 40-year survey conducted by the General Social Survey, the second most used source to the U.S. Census, 5% of Americans answered “no religion” when asked their religious affiliation in 1972. In 2012, the annual survey found that 20% of those sampled answered “no religion.” This doesn’t prove that 15% of the U.S. population is studying paganism or shamanism but it seems that Americans are more open to exploring nonreligious spiritualties. Since the development of The Church of Earth Healing, both Bekki and Crow have created numerous workshops teaching the fundamentals of shamanism, identifying animal spirits, connecting with ancestors and dozens more. “He’s the academic,” Bekki said. “He was very systematic in his teachings. I gave more emotional and intuitive insight. We were very complimentary while teaching people,” Bekki insisted. They’re even paper official; the church is chartered by the state of Ohio. As of today, members of the church hold weekly shamanic


drumming circles in a member’s house. It all sounds ideal but after 33 years of living together and teaching Bekki and Crow separated. “Things I do drive him crazy,” Bekki went on to say. “It was a challenge being together but that was part of the attraction. He led me to Shamanism, it has been a deep deep part of my life for decades. I’ll always respect that,” Bekki explained. Regardless of their separation, Crow and Bekki still teach several workshops together and remain friends. Crow at age 77- I guessed 65- still thrives to help people with problems, whether it be the loss of a loved one or trying to sell a house, and explores the limits of Shamanism. “He’s a man of all ages. He has an ability to relate to people and a damn good cook too,” shared Laura Wallace, an involved member in the shamanic drumming circle. By just speaking to him, one got the sense of his grounded yet humorous personality. It was beginning to sleet. If I didn’t leave now, I’d surely be stuck at Dragon Waters for the night, which I thought might be cool. As I reemerged from damp forest I recalled one value that truly described him, his passion for Shamanism. “I’m still fascinated by it. Look at this way; this is a practice that has been with humankind since the very beginning. There is evidence that the earliest humans did this practice and used the same sort of journeying techniques to make a connection with spirit. And it is still being done today. That’s amazing, it’s just bloody amazing!” 


T 8 f


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OU InterActivist

Creating Community Through Art written & photographed by A L EX A N D R IA PO L A N O S K Y


ollaborative Art International is a community-focused organization based in Athens. It works with people with all different forms of art as a means of creating connections and community. Patty Mitchell and Robert Lockhead are the artists in residence and the social entrepeneurs behind the organization. Collaborative Art International is one of the groups involved in the Honey for the Heart parade that precedes the Halloween block party. ď ś

C O N T I N U E O N N E X T PA G E 7


Mitchell and Lockhead display puppets from the Honey for the Heart Parade. Most of the puppets are created with reused and recycled materials.

Wherever we go, the artwork is about the place that we are.”

The intention is to make an art spectacle, an art first.”

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We’re interested in making big, fabulous art things; There’s lots of byproduct that comes with that.”

Learn more about Collaborative Art International at 9

Notorious Nebulae written by D E N N I S M E E K E R illustrated by N I K K I VO L P E N H E I N


o when you’re outside at night looking at the stars, maybe with your special friend or possibly just alone, what all can you see? Maybe you see some stars, even some pretty bright ones. If you’re really lucky, you may even get a glimpse of a shooting star. There are so many other things up in the night sky that no matter how hard we look, we just can’t see without the aid of a telescope. Like notorious nebulae, for instance (title drop for the win!). So what are nebulae and what hazardous things does it do to the universe? If you were to just look at a picture of one you would see what looks like a beautiful cloud of many colors and bright lights floating in space. The bright lights are formed from the reflection of light off the stardust. They are much more than just bright lights though. In fact, if you were to go fly into a nebula it wouldn’t even be colorful. You would be flying into what could be called “space mist.” It

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would still be an amazing experience, but just not as pretty. What you see in the pictures is taken by the Hubble Telescope, which uses a visible light filter, to put the color spectrum available to the human eye into the photo. They take many photos of nebulae with different filters, including x-ray images and infrared light. This opens up the possibility to discover what exactly is in this nebulous “space mist.” Aside from probably destroying the beautiful aspect of a nebula for everyone, they have more amazing qualities worth noting. How big is a nebula exactly? Well, just like humans, they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. So let’s go back to believing nebulae were many gorgeously colored clouds again. Now picture those colorful clouds encompassing our entire solar system and extending far outside of it. That is how big most nebulae are. A notable one would be the

Orion Nebula. It is about 24 light years wide. To put this in perspective, a single light year is around 5.8 trillion miles. Our solar system is around two or three lights years wide. Final bit of math: Orion is around 15 times *bigger* than our entire solar system. That’s pretty impressive on any scale. Now you may be asking yourself how these awesome nebulae are formed. They are formed when an old star dies, and dies harshly. When a star is old, it can no longer go through nuclear fusion, which is what creates the fuel for it to survive. When it can no longer sustain itself, the star will cave in and start spewing electromagnetic radiation out as it collapses. This is a huge explosion, called a super nova, (). Nebulae are leftovers from a star going supernova. Nebulae are not only dead stars, but that they’re birthing new stars. However, not all nebulae are formed that way.

So as we now know, nebulae are usually formed from dead stars. But it is also  the simultaneous birth of new stars . A nebula is basically bunch of cosmic gas and dust, being the elements that made up the former star, that is left after a star has blown up and spread itself all over space, so you may be asking where sex comes in in a star’s life cycle. Funny you should ask.  Some of the leftovers start to compress themselves again, eventually forming new stars. So that is why when you see a nebula there are many stars in it. Sometimes, when a star is dying, it runs out of fuel and spits out its outer layers to form a ring shape. This usually happens when a star is changing shape (going from yellow giant to red giant. As you may have noticed, stars are quite a bit like teenagers) and never makes it past that stage. So, instead of a huge explosion caused by its collapse, it actually goes outward into space,

eventually disappearing into the infinite after a mere 50,000 years. This type of nebula is called a Planetary Nebula. If a supernova is extremely powerful, it can form something called, awesomely, a neutron star. A neutron star is a star composed mainly of neutron atoms - particles with a neutral electrical charge -  and is only around six miles wide. It is a drop in the bucket cosmically but they are the densest stars in all of space. They   can potentially be hundreds of times denser than the Sun. If you were able to stand on a neutron star, you would weigh around *100 billion times* as much as you do now. So as it’s probably clear by now, space is a pretty dangerous place. It’s great to look at, but enjoying a casual stroll through space wouldn’t in all likelihood end well. In fact, if you came out of your spacesuit for whatever reason, half of your body would boil while the other half freezes be-

fore you even have to worry about dying because of a lack of oxygen! The amazing galaxy that our solar system resides in is the Milky Way. The Milky Way is around 100,000 light years wide. So going at the speed of light, it would take 100,000 years to get across. And that is a galaxy that takes up a tiny amount of space in the universe. The Milky Way is home to a huge amount of nebulae, and there are many more to be discovered. Nebulae are some of the most beautiful and dangerous Space Age discoveries  we know of. It’s almost incomprehensible how something so huge and so dangerous is almost impossible to reach in today’s era, and many to come. Nebulae are like nature’s paintings on the canvas of space. So next time you’re outside, hopefully on a warm summer night, looking at the stars, know that they  are only but a big welcome sign for the wondrous whole of the cosmos. 


A Call To Rural Action written by S A M F LYN N story & photos by EL I H IL L ER

Members of Rural Action and Ohio University students attending an alternative spring break stand on top of massive gob pile, low-quality coal and waste rock from previous coal mining, on March 6, 2014 outside of New Straitsville, Ohio. When rain hits the pile, it becomes acidic and damages aquatic and terrestrial life in nearby streams.


ew York. Los Angeles. Chicago. Las Vegas. Know those American metropolises? Alright, now let me hit you with these: Trimble, Perry, and Vinton. Counties hidden among the hills of Ohio don’t garner that much attention; for example Trimble Local Schools, the poorest school district in the state, recently had its funding cut further under Gov. John Kasich’s new education funding formula. But still the area soldiers on, undeterred. They survive by being connected, like a beating heart that sustains itself solely through determination and willpower. Struggle and survival have long been common parts of life in rural areas like the Southeast Ohio. By definition, they are more sparsely populated and garner less wealth than their urban counterparts. The reasons include that the land is worth less therefore shorting property taxes and, specifically in this region, shared with the Wayne National Forest, which is government property they do not collect on. But like the Appalachian communities it represents, Rural Action proves determination and willpower can go a long way.

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Instead of telling people what you don’t want all the time, creating an organization that would have a vision and tell people what we do want.” H I S TO RY Rural Action was born originally from the dissolution and resolution of AOPIC (Appalachian Ohio Public Interest Campaign). “It was a certain brand of community organizing policy and issue-based advocacy, so we worked on environmental and consumer rights issues,” said Michelle Decker, the CEO of Rural Action.

Decker is ostensibly the “face” of what Rural Action is in general. She works with the Board of Directors to set policy and strategic direction for the organization, as well as working closely with the Program Administrators and donors, current and potential. AOPIC was founded in 1985 and until, for a variety of reasons, their financial fortunes sank. In 1991, the Board of Directors hired Carol Kuhre, a founding member of what would become Rural Action. She ran a strategic planning process to reorganize the group into its now-familiar form. Decker, having just finished her undergrad in 1989, was looking to work in environmentalism and sustainability and was joined the transition, working with Kuhre to re-establish the organization as one that focused on positives and proactivity. “Instead of telling people what you don’t want all the time, creating an organization that would have a vision and tell people what we do want,” Decker explained. “We want thriving farms, healthy forests, strong communities, and people to have jobs.” They built their participatory development piece by piece, starting with farming and gradu-

<< From left, Kelly Caris, Megan Liggett and Tim Ferrell, members of Monday Creek Restoration Project, calculate the flow rate and date containers for water samples outside of New Straitsville, Ohio on March 10, 2014. This branch thrives to bring aquatic life, terrestrial life and improve the general health of Monday Creek. In this photo, a process known as the SAP, successive alkaline producing, system neutralizes the acidic water as it percolates through a layer of mushroom compost and then mixes with limestone. education to produce a zero waste economy. She has worked in the sustainability field since 2007 and was previously employed at Ohio University. But she’s says the two really don’t compare. “Southeast Ohio is a much bigger place than the OU campus so when you’re there, you’re working in that small universe to make it better,” Sykes said. “But here it feels like I’m connected to all these different people, different places, and doing all of the communities’ work.” Susi Rankis started out working exclusively in forestry for Rural Action as a VISTA volunteer from 2008 to 2009, after which she was hired to the staff full-time. When she started, she helped start a collaborative called the Central Appalachian Forestry Alliance (COFA) which she spent the last 3 years working on. Her role has grown into that of Program Administrator, handling communications, media, and organizational system management, all the while maintaining her ties to forestry work. “Rural Action has a really strong history of ties with landowners,” said Rankis. “We helped to form Call Before You Cut which is now done in six different states, where a landowners could call the state before signing a logging contract to have an opportunity to look it over and see whether or not it was fair.” ally moving to watershed work in 1994, forestry work in 1995 and 1996, and community training efforts in 1998. Between 1993 and 1994, Rural Action began a partnership with AmeriCorps*VISTA, the domestic version of the Peace Corps run by the federal agency The Corporation for National and Community Service. VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) originated under President John F. Kennedy’s administration and was founded as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty in 1965. In 1993 under then-President Bill Clinton, it was folded into the CNCS where it was blessed with its current name. “We had exclusively VISTAs from 1994 until about 2009 when we got an AmeriCorps grant,” said Decker. “Now, we have 16 AmeriCorps members and we just submitted a grant application which, if we get it, will have us at 26 members in 18 Ohio counties.”

In addition, the organization employs 14 fulltime employees.

PROGRAMS Rural Action’s focus is diverse but strictly focused on the benefit of its Appalachian families and communities. It employs several programs, among them watershed restorations (four of them!), food systems and agriculture, forestry, environmental education (ex. Youth and Environmental Stewardship, Appalachian Green Teachers’ Training Project), waste treatment, and arts and cultural heritage. It is also currently looking for the appropriate energy project to tackle. Suffice to say this is not an organization that slows down. Erin Sykes has been with Rural Action since October 2011 when she was hired as the Program Administrator for the Appalachian Ohio Zero Waste Initiative (AOZWI). The Zero Waste program focuses on recycling, water diversion, and

O R G A N I Z AT I O N Those strong ties and networks that Rural Action has built are central to its success and continuation. Decker explains they get funding from all sorts of areas: membership donations and dozens of grant donors locally and nationally. The watershed program, for example, is almost entirely funded by the Department of Natural Resources with a little bit from the Wayne National Forest and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). But what does Decker say is the best way to fund an organization like Rural Action? Friends. “We have friends in the field and I will periodically call them and say ‘Who’s on your list? Here’s who’s my list.’ So you have to have those kinds of relationships where you can share it. Somebody will have a funder for five years and they’ll say we’re not going to fund anymore; we’re looking for the next project. It’s a bummer for them, but, if they’re a good partner, they’ll say ‘Come on, get

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F R O M P R E V I O U S PA G E Among the perks of being a Rural Actioner (you know, besides helping thousands of people daily) are the autonomy and cooperation given to the employees that keeps the organization unique and people-centered. Sykes, for example, owns Joslyn, a service dog-in-training for Canine Companions for Independence. She’s able to bring him to work almost every day. “It’s very flexible, as long as you do your job and do it well,” she said. “Say your furnace breaks down at home and you need to do your work at home. It’s not a big deal. It’s not like you need your personal time; you don’t need a “half-day.” And also having Joslyn has been really great. I come in early for the time I walk in the day but it’s nice just to have her here.” That doesn’t make the job any less challenging. “You got to be scrappy around here,” Sykes continued. “We have one scanner in the building and there’s a bunch of stuff we need regularly that we don’t own so you’re borrowing and figuring out how to do it elsewhere. OU has all the systems pretty much in place. Here, we’re either establishing it or there’s just not the capital to do it. We need to invest it in our programs, rather than in ourselves.” The struggle for justice will never stop, for the institutions and systems that perpetuate them are buried deep. But, given enough determination and willpower, nothing can be buried forever. “There are farmers and hunters and people who have struggled for generations to live in the region who believe they own a part of that conversation too,” Decker concluded. “So it’s about justice; it’s about giving people access. If you can do it in central Appalachia then you can do it anywhere.” 

[TOP] Outside, Joe Brehm and Tim Prange, members of Environmental Education, help Alerie Martin and Gloria Moody, both middle school students, build a birdhouse for swallows at Trimble Middle School in Jacksonville, Ohio on March 19, 2014. This outdoor club meets after school bi-weekly and is one of many educational opportunities the Environmental Education branch provides. [MIDDLE] From left, Patricia Riley, the Ohio University GA in community service and campus involvement, Mary Kate Taulbee and Gabby Clarke, both OU students, search and collect trash at a dump site near Burk Oak State Park, Ohio on March 5, 2014. The event was put on by Appalachia Ohio Zero Waste Initiative, program within Rural Action, that specializes on creating a zero waste environment in Southeast Ohio and increasing recycling in the area. [BOTTOM] From left, Tim Ferrell, Megan Liggett and Kelly Caris, members of Monday Creek Restoration Project, take a break from water sampling to skip stones on Monday Creek outside of New Straitsville, Ohio on March 10, 2014. 1 4   |  T H E I N T E R A C T I V I S T   |   S P R I N G 2 0 1 4

Meet Our Staff Peter Andrews

Olivia Harlow

Alexandria Polanosky

My name is Peter Andrews and I am a freshman studying astrophysics. I have lived in Athens my whole life and love it here. I write a science blog column for the InterActivist and I am Sean’s PR monkey, full-time. I like busking and I am working on achieving fluency in Mandarin Chinese.

Oh, hello there! I’m Olivia Harlow, a senior double majoring journalism and photojournalism. I am a firm believer in the existence of fairies and I prove that girls do indeed poop. One of my favorite hobbies? Naked dance parties by myself to One Direction #NoShame.

I’m a freshman photojournalism major from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This is my first semester with the InterActivist and I’m so glad to have discovered the organization. I believe in using photojournalism as a tool to raise awareness of social issues so IA is a perfect place for me.

Brooke Baldi I’m a junior visual communication major and the creative director of IA. I love to fuss over fonts, margins, and leading while drinking a hot cup of tea. I managed to grow into a harsh cynic but I can still be overwhelmed by my childlike wonder. I’m still amazed that I built my computer without setting my place on fire.

Lindsay Citraro Hi, I’m Lindsay Citraro. I am a senior double major in graphic design and creative writing. I enjoy things. I have a love affair with pasta. It’s getting pretty serious. I’m known to finish entire rows of Oreo cookies in one sitting and frolic around campus

Rachel Ertel I’m a junior graphic design major and I have a lot of fun designing for Interactivist. I love publication design and I love it even more when funky shapes and bright colors are involved.

Sam Flynn I’m Sam Flynn, a senior studying news and information journalism. I’m the President and Editor-in-Chief of InterAct and our magazine the InterActivist. As our fearless leader, I delegated the work to the far more talented people listed on this page, but will welcome any and all credit for the success of the magazine. I wrote about local hip hop because I believe in the power of music and the arts to change the world. I own many leather-bound books and my bedroom smells of rich mahogany.

Eli Hiller Eli Hiller, a sophomore from Athens, Ohio, is a double major in photojournalism and environmental geography. Eli is a staff photographer for the InterActivist magazine and joined to develop creative photographic stories on individuals and group with the southeast Ohio region. In his free time he enjoys long bike rides, playing the acoustic guitar and beating the punching bags in ping when he feels academically stressed.

Sean King I am a sophomore studying strategic communications . After a long and bloody stuggle, I have usurped the position of PR director from the illustrious former director. I am also the treasurer, a.ka. the “Pressurer,” if you will. As “Pressurer,” I don’t really do much. I’m at all the meetings, though.

Kaylee Powers I am technically an undecided freshman, but I promise I’ll be in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism studying Strategic Communications with a minor in Spanish eventually. I’m the magazine’s Pinterest extraordinaire as part of the PR team.

Ryan Powers I’m a freshman journalism major. I wrote a story. It’s in the magazine. Let me take you on a journey, man.

Lucas Reilly My name is Lucas Reilly and I am a photographer who joined IA because we go against the grain. I like to bike and touch guitars.

Sophie Kruse

Nikki Volpenhein

I am a sophomore studying journalism with a minor in business. I am the blog editor for IA. I love dogs, Mexican food, Harry Potter, video games, and Netflix binges. I take naps like it’s my job

I am a sophomore art and psychology major, and I am an artist for The Interactivist. I joined IA after wandering around the involvement fair. In the future I hope to become a traveling hobo artiste, finding strange materials along the journey to fuel my next project.

Lindsay O’Brien I am a junior studying journalism. I like pepperoni pizza with banana peppers. My life runs on coffee.


Subculture Life in Athens written

by: RYA N




im at the sight. Hold the gun firmly. Squeeeeze the trigger. Gently. Slowly. Pop! This was how seasoned gun enthusiast David Dupler, adviser of Ohio University’s Second Amendment Club, coached this longtime writer and first-time shooter through nerves, shakes and surprise at the loudness. That’s right. The InterActivist was with OU’s Second Amendment Club at Marietta, Ohio’s Fort Harmar Rifle Club’s shooting range, and we were firing guns. Wait, maybe some context is needed. This story is not a story on the politics of gun control. It is a story on the politics of human beings, namely, the human beings who participate in subcultures—the specialized splinters of society who form bonds based around a common value. Our culture hails individuality, but understanding subcultures—why they form and what makes them strong—shows the importance of group acceptance for the average person. One need look no farther than Athens, Ohio to see how the need for human interaction among like-minded people leads to a high amount of subcultures. There are nearly 500 registered student organizations at OU alone, according to OU’s website. This number does not include the many unofficial subcultures in the city and on campus. The Second Amendment Club is one example of a subculture. Other subcultures in Athens include the Lost Flamingo Comapny (an on-campus theater organization), OU’s club gymnastics team and the spoken word community who meets weekly at Donkey Coffee. Although these groups have different interests, they all consist of people who are so passionate about a certain aspect of the human experience—precision, competition, collaboration, challenge, creativity—they form entire communities devoted to their passions. Wesley Gilkey, OU sophomore studying sociology and President of Second Amendment Club,

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illustration by NIKKI VOLPENHEIN

took a break from shooting and talked human nature over the muffled sound of gun shots audible from the walled-off shooting room a few yards away. “As human beings, we are social animals in that we want to be around other people naturally,” Gilkey said. “It’s easier to be around someone when you know you have similar attitudes, beliefs, attachments, influences, past histories, things like that.” Familiar with guns since childhood, Gilkey and

Alex Cook, OU junior studying marketing and management and Second Amendment Club Vice President, both could only conjure hazy memories of their first time firing guns. Likewise, most people on OU’s club gymnastics team started the sport as children. Their common past allows them to reminisce, akin to the way many Millennials in mainstream American culture discuss fondly the shared experience of enjoying 90s Disney movies and other cartoons.


Alex Cook sports a shirt supporting Second Amendment rights while shooting targets at a gun range in Marietta, Ohio. “People who grow up hunting or grow up shooting can instantly find things that are in common, not just in the aspect of shooting,” Gilkey said. “It wasn’t hard for me to not only find people who grew up shooting but were also farmers or grew up in rural areas or knew what it was like to spend a summer out bailing hay, or shoveling at the fair or something like that.” Similar upbringings breed similar personalities and interests. Many members of the gymnastics team bond by hashing out childhood memories of the high amounts of practices and the practices themselves. An interesting distinction between those interviewed from the Second Amendment Club and those from the gymnastics team is the reason they began at a young age. For Gilkey and Cook, it was simply the thing to do in their geographical areas and their families. For those who began gymnastics, it was a matter of their nature as opposed to nurture. Jennica Lurie, OU freshman studying journalism, was audibly breathing, talking in heavy breaths as her teammates’ jumps and rolls made

loud smacks on the mats adjacent to her. Sweat glistened on her face as she explained why her parents signed her up for gymnastics as a child. “I started because I started climbing all over everything,” Lurie said. “My parents were sick of it and thought I had too much energy, and I would come home and wouldn’t want to sleep.” Other gymnasts told similar stories. When asked why they continue to participate in such a physically demanding sport years later, their eyes gaze down and to the side in search of an answer. When they raise their eyes again, they and their voices are filled with the light of nostalgia. “I’ve done it my whole life,” said Izzy Vulgamore, OU freshman. “My parents started me when I was little, and I just never really stopped, and I didn’t want to give it up when I got to college.” Candice Szymanski, OU senior and president of the club gymnastics team, agrees. “It keeps me sane, keeps me grounded, and it gives me something to do,” Szymanski said. “It’s hard to get away. When you’ve been doing it for so long, you don’t want to leave it.” Sharing nostalgia and other emotions is a powerful way for people in subcultures to bond,

Sometimes there’s a lot of people who feel they can’t join groups because they’re a little different or they’re made fun of sometimes, and LFC tends to bring all those people together and just create camaraderie and friendship.” -Zackary GilanyiC O N T I N U E O N N E X T PA G E 17

F R O M P R E V I O U S PA G E and many actively set out to do so. A couple dozen students of the Lost Flamingo Company (LFC) on a Tuesday evening piled into a Bentley Hall classroom. They made quick work of rearranging the desks into a square formation, encouraging an open and free environment. Ali Hegarty, OU Freshman, said this value in openness and the ability to “be yourself” in LFC is why she joined. Zackary Gilanyi, another LFC member, elaborated on this notion in a hallway after the meeting while people conversed and laughed with each other. “One thing about LFC is there’s no judgment,” Gilanyi said. “Sometimes there’s a lot of people who feel they can’t join groups because they’re a little different or they’re made fun of sometimes, and LFC tends to bring all those people together and just create camaraderie and friendship.” Subcultures such as the Second Amendment Club and OU’s gymnastics team are fixated on specific actions, and though LFC is focused heavily on acting, its underlying goal of creating an open environment for the members lends itself to promoting self-discovery. Gilanyi shared an epiphany he had during LFC’s most recent production of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. “When I was younger, I was very closed minded,” Gilanyi said. “[LFC] opened my eyes to a lot. Like last semester, I did the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and that was me stepping out of my comfort zone, but I’m glad I did because you find out a lot about yourself when you’re dancing in high heels and stockings.” Hegarty, a director for LFC, learned of her capability to lead people, and mold a show she could be proud of, when she directed a ten-minute play in a theater class last semester. “I don’t think I’m usually bossy, but when you’re a director, you have to be able to lead people and delegate situations,” Hegarty said. “[The play] went perfectly, and it was just a feeling of pride and ‘I brought this all together.’ This pride in accomplishment is sought out by shooters, gymnasts, actors, directors, poets and writers. Shooters practice at shooting ranges. Gymnasts train on the mats. Actors and directors rehearse in private rooms. Writers in Athens critique and improve their pieces every week in a coffee shop. These writers and poets, along with other lovers of the spoken and written word, perform readings every Tuesday at Donkey Coffee during what is called Spoken Word Night. Ryant Taylor, OU Junior studying English creative writing and regular contributor at Spoken Word Night, describes the regular attendees as a ragtag community of creative individuals. Luke Szabados, OU sophomore, film major and regular spoken word patron, talked about the regular performers as he played piano on-stage to a room bustling with conversation immediately following the last of the spoken word performer for the night. “It’s a group of people that takes advantage of the fact that there are so many creative people invested in similar interests, namely improving the writing community, the quality of people’s writing,” Szabados said.

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Right, Jennica Lurie playfully pushes Kari Lowe into a pit of foam during OU Club Gymnast Team’s weekly practice in Lancaster, Ohio on March 11, 2014. The loose structure and absence of an official hierarchy sets the spoken word community apart from the other three subcultures. Anyone can become a part of the community, and everyone is encouraged to perform. “The structure is very open,” said Zachary Finn, regular performer and OU senior studying graphic design “We’re really cool about having new people read. It’s first-come-first-serve, really.” Due to the nature of creative writing—the tendency of authors to write about their lives in some way—Szabados said the weekly performances are a good way to gauge the state of the community.

Many performers recite pieces about transitioning from high school to university life, their personal relationships and current local issues. Some people wrote comical poems about the recent polar vortex when it was happening. Personal development is all well-and-good, but they can’t be the only goal of a subculture—a thing defined by group participation. In fact, the gun enthusiasts, gymnasts, theater people and writers all agreed that building strong emotional bonds and friendships is important within their group. These bonds do develop, but not on the scale that many in the subcultures would hope




[TOP] Nancy Mitchell reads her work to the audience at Donkey Coffee poetry night on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014.

“We have our own groups within the team,” said Jeress Pendleton, OU sophomore and OU gymnast. “But for the most part, we’re all there for each other.” Szymanski said she wants the group to become closer, and although she has been busy her senior year, she works to improve group cohesion. “Being a senior, you’re almost like a mom,” Szymanski said. “You want everybody to be friends and schedule group things.” The amount of time and struggle people in subcultures share has a strong impact on group unity. Many on the OU club gymnastics team agreed that they bonded the most during the long car rides and days spent at tournaments. VP Cook enjoyed his time bonding with the Second Amendment Club at the shooting range, but he said he would like the group to be closer. “I think it’s getting closer. I don’t think it’s close yet,” Cook said. “We need a steady stream of people who remain constant, so that’s the goal.” Gilkey faces a challenge similar to Szymanski’s in terms of creating a group bond among his organization’s 12 – 15 regular members. “Sometimes we don’t communicate a lot outside of meetings, which is frustrating for me,” Gilkey said. “But the core of the group is pretty close.” The spoken word community does not have a set leader to facilitate group bonding, but they manage to build friendships through weekly workshops and socializing before and after spoken word nights. LFC produces three different productions at once, so the group is split into three smaller ones which become much closer due to constant rehearsals and the open nature of the group. “I would say, for Spring Awakening [one current LFC production] personally, we meet four times a week,” Gilanyi said, “so at least 20 hours a week.” The production members call themselves a family and share personal secrets, stories and emotions. Regardless of how close the members become with each other, subcultures, no matter what they form around, form for similar reasons. All members of subcultures want to live their preferred version of the human experience and be accepted while doing it, and they hope that by finding others who share this goal, their experiences will be enhanced. In a society where learning is often dictated, monotonous and of no little interest to those doing the learning, subcultures provide the chance to collaborate, explore, experiment and grow. Individuals unite and diversify the mainstream culture. On the surface, one may not see many similarities between a group wearing leather and fishnets on-stage and a group wearing sports bras and singlets. One may not see what unites the person armed with a gun and the person armed with a pen. What unites these individuals is the human yearning for acceptance, the pursuit of personal growth, the sharing of ideas and stories and longing to share one’s life journey with a friend. 

[MIDDLE] Caroline Bresnahan, a sophomore at Ohio University, rehearses with members of the Lost Flamingo Company for the upcoming performance, Stephen King’s Misery. Bresnahan plays the role of Annie Wilkes [BOTTOM] Tina Echemann, an freshman at Ohio University, practices a trick on the high bar on March 11, 2014.




Spring 2014

Every Saturday | FREE LUNCH / VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY United Campus Ministries, Lower Level Come Enjoy a free lunch every week while OU is in session Saturdays at 1 P.M. Arrive by 10:30 a.m. if you would like to volunteer. For more info, call 740-593-7301

Every Wednesday (April-December) and Saturday (Year-Round) | ATHENS FARMERS MARKET 1000 East State Street Athens Local farmers and distributors gather together to provide the local Athens community with fresh foods. Find homegrown vegetables, fruits, fresh flowers, and teas, as well as meats from locally raised animals. The Athens farmers market is a community gathering place that supports sustainable agriculture and the local economy. The Farmers Market takes place from 10 a.m.-1 p.m

Every Thursday FREE SUPPER/VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY United Campus Ministries, Lower Level Come enjoy a free meal every Thursday at 5:30 p.m. Volunteers and donations are welcome. Come at 3:30 P.M. if you would like to volunteer. Call 740-593-7301 for more information

Every First and Third Monday of the Month ATHENS CITY COUNCIL MEETINGS 8 East Washington Council meetings are held on the third floor in the Council Chambers room. Meetings begin at 7:30 p.m. Come and observe what is going

Thursday May 1 | INSIDE/OUTSIDE: ART TALKS Kennedy Museum of Art Raymond O. Lane, a distinguished professor of physics and photographer, will be giving a talk from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Every Other Friday April 18- October 24| ATHENS FARMERS MARKET Howard Hall For the third year the Athens Farmers Market will set up on campus. This mini market will be up every other Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. Come stop by and support local farmers and the economy.

Third Thursday of Every Month April 17July 17 | ADMINISTRATIVE SENATE MEETING Baker Center 240 The Administrative Senate is an elected body that represents administrators at OU. The public is welcome to attend all meetings which are held from 12:00 pm to 1:30 p.m.

May 3| THE CHESTERHILL PRODUCE AUCTION: SPRING CONSIGNMENT AUCTION 8380 Wagoner Rd., Chesterhill The Chesterhill Produce Auction is managed by Rural Action and is a place for growers from around the region to sell their produce at wholesale to other businesses in the region. At the spring Consignment Auction you can also bid on or purchase farm equipment, handmade furniture, crafts, antiques, homemade baked goods, and more. All are welcome to consign and sign up to bid for no cost. Items can be brought to auction Friday May 2 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or Saturday Mat 3 from 8:00 a.m. until the auction begins at 10:00 a.m.

on in local Athens politics.

Feb 1- May 31| HONEY FOR THE HEART PUPPETS Kennedy Museum of Art This is an ongoing workshop at the Kennedy Museum of Art. Ohio University students and the Athens community are invited to come down and make larger-than-life puppets from recycled materials.

May 26| THE CHESTERHILL PRODUCE AUCTION: MEMORIAL DAY POTLUCK 8380 Wagoner Rd., Chesterhill Come down to the Chesterhill Produce Auction for a Memorial Day Potluck and auction. Bring a covered dish to share for the potluck at 3:00 pm and take home fresh, local produce at the auction beginning at 4:00 pm.

Interactivist spring 2014 issue  

The InterActivist is a socially progressive counterculture magazine published twice yearly by the student organization InterAct covering iss...

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