SEXTANT The Journal of Salem State University
Volume XXV, No. 1
Editor’s Note Sextant: The Journal of Salem State University Volume XXV, No. 1: Spring 2019 President John D. Keenan Provost and Academic Vice President David Silva Editor Peggy Dillon, Media and Communication Sextant Advisor Gail Gasparich, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences Editorial Board George Abboud, Sport and Movement Science Peg Ackerman, Nursing Cleti A. Cervoni, Education Cathy Fahey, Library Bethany Jay, History Mark J. Malloy, Art + Design Shannon A. Mokoro, Social Work Anne Noonan, Psychology Alexandria Peary, English Arthur Riss, English Leah E. Ritchie, Management Steven E. Silvern, Geography Keja Valens, English Cheryl Williams, Nursing Design and Production Susan McCarthy, Marketing and Creative Services Graduate Assistant Jessica Analoro
Sextant: The Journal of Salem State University is published by the faculty and librarians of Salem State University. Opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies of Sextant: The Journal of Salem State University or Salem State University. Copyright © 2019 Sextant encourages readers to submit letters or comments to: Sextant, c/o Editor Peggy Dillon Salem State University Media and Communication Department 352 Lafayette Street, Salem, MA 01970 or firstname.lastname@example.org Sextant articles may be reprinted with permission of the editor. See past Sextant issues at issuu.com/sextantssu.
Many of the entries in this issue share a common focus: The author, a faculty member, shares an academic interest and recounts how that interest has been put to use to positively affect the lives of real people somewhere around the world. Public history scholar Margo Shea shows how her work to develop and support community projects, working with The Places Project in southeastern Tennessee, has helped enrich community life and cohesion in a relatively isolated area. Biologist Joe Buttner—aka “dr. joe”—outlines the biological and cultural components of his aquaculture work in Liberia. Geographer Stephen Young recounts how he and his team linked conservation of natural and cultural features in Ghana. Professional writing program coordinator Regina Flynn does double duty: describing how she helped students explore the North Shore by foot and her own reactions to a train trip to the Pacific Northwest. English professor Stephenie Young discusses the importance of confronting the chaotic and messy aftermath of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. Additionally, biologist Amy Sprenkle examines two pilot projects that may help undergraduates use modern-day skills to harness biology and medicine in addressing realworld problems. And longtime theatre professor, now retired, Whitney “Whizz” White shares a compilation of posters of plays and musicals from his 37 years at Salem State. The previous Sextant issue, published in 2018, continues to reveal interesting connections among faculty. Business professor Anurag Jain’s recounting of his work in writing, directing, and producing the play “The Legend of Emperor Ashoka” brought forth a response from Jayanti Bandyopadhyay, professor of accounting and finance and graduate program coordinator for the Bertolon School of Business. She notes that two of the plays referred to in Jain’s article, “Mahabharata” and “Shah Jahan,” were produced by Stage Ensemble Theatre Unit (SETU), and that she co-starred with Jain in both. SETU, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that she co-founded 16 years ago, works to bridge the cultural gap between Eastern and Western societies by producing English-language versions of Indian classics and thus contributes to the cultural richness of the greater Boston area. On a personal note: This is the last issue of the Sextant that I will edit. In each of the last three years I shepherded the annual publication through the editing process, from concept to fruition. It has been rewarding at every stage. In the future, I will work on my own writing projects, circling back to my professional roots as a journalist. So, this is “thank you” to everyone whose efforts helped make the Sextant a publication of which we all can be proud. This is a list (arguably incomplete) of those whose have generously contributed to this effort: • faculty, staff, and administrators who answered the call for submissions and shared their articles, poems, photos and art; • editorial board members, who vetted and commented on each submission; • Eileen Margerum and Rod Kessler, who copy-edited drafts and helped bring them to publishable polish; • Graduate assistant Jessica Analoro, who did everything from taking photos to distributing print copies; • Ellen Hughes, who provided essential technical support for this issue; • Gina Deschamps, who made sure that each issue was published as a beautiful, high-quality magazine; • James Lloyd, who ensured that copies were mailed out efficiently; • Sextant advisor Gail Gasparich, who provided budgetary and other logistical advice; • and, especially, Susan McCarthy, who spent untold hours doing exquisite layout and design and helping to shape each issue. The Sextant’s future is uncertain. No one has declared an interest in becoming editor, and the publication exists in a gray area. It’s a print publication in a digital age. It’s also a magazine showcasing academic research and creative work of the Salem State community at a time when refereed journal contributions are the coin of the academic publishing realm. But in this era of shortened attention spans and university budgetary constraints, I think the Sextant’s mission remains more important than ever: to extol the achievements of Salem State’s best and brightest. I’d like to think that the university will find a way to continue to make that happen.
Volume XXV, No. 1
Around Here: The Places Project
A People’s Map of the South Cumberland Plateau By Margo Shea Margo Shea
Biologists Cultivate Aquaculture in Liberia
By Joseph K. Buttner and Michael S. Potter II
Journey to Ghana’s Sacred Forests
Collection of Places Project stories.
By Stephen Young With contributors Jessica Brown, Madden Bremer, and Peter Adortse Courtesy of Stephen Young
Walking Boston’s North Shore
By Regina Robbins Flynn
Microbiology: The CURE for What Ails You
Bringing the Microbiology Curriculum into the Twenty-First Century and Offering an Authentic STEM Research Experience to Undergraduates at Salem State University By Amy B. Sprenkle
North by Northwest Redux Regina Robbins Flynn
Testimony, Art, and the Afterlife of Batajnica’s Disappeared Objects By Stephenie A. Young
“Make it Work in Seven Seconds”:
Compiled by Alexandria Peary
a tila ia are ca g t eine in a ond in anta, i eria, to doc they are then returned to the pond to grow further. See page 11. Photo by Joe Buttner
Inside back cover
Courtesy of Salem State
a cade o ntain in t e acific ort we t
A Retrospective of Theatre Posters at Salem State University September 1974-June 2011: The Whizz White Years By Whitney “Whizz” White
On the front cover:
Geographies of Loss:
Gathering near a sacred forest in Ghana.
By Regina Robbins Flynn
Illustrated theatre poster. ent fi re rod ction and growt
E S S A Y
Around Here: The Places Project
A People’s Map of the South Cumberland Plateau Margo Shea
From 2015 to 2017, Salem State University public history professor Margo Shea served as a Mellon Fellow at the Collaborative for Southern Appalachian Studies, a partnership between the University of the South and Yale University located at The University of the South’s campus in Sewanee, Tenn. She designed and implemented The Places Project as a means of teaching community-engaged service-learning participatory research methods. Here, she writes about The Places Project and the power of communal stories to reflect the strengths a community possesses and the challenges it faces.
“I appreciate you.”
simple statement, a common pleasantry, a farewell, and a telltale sign of one’s belonging in Tennessee’s South Cumberland Plateau. To a public historian interested in how the processes of cultural memory intermingle with daily life in a remote and economicallytroubled place, this statement came to mean a lot. I had heard it before in small villages in Northern Ireland; this was no surprise, given that the Tennessee mountains had become home to Ulster’s diaspora in the nineteenth century.
Around Here: The Places Project is a crowdsourced deep map of place and memory along a stretch of the South Cumberland Plateau in rural southeastern Tennessee. A two-year Mellon Foundation grant through the Collaborative for Southern Appalachian Studies at Sewanee: The University of the South funded the research project from 2015 through 2017. I developed and managed the project with a team of local volunteers and students. The collaborative, a partnership with Yale University, supported multidisciplinary, community-engaged curricular projects that emphasized connecting research to place and research strategies for fostering resilience. As a scholar of community memory with a long history in civic engagement and community-based project design and management, I naturally gravitated towards a project that brought the past into the present.
“I appreciate you,” in fact, is more than a Southern nicety. It is a performance of a memory long-forgotten in a conscious sense: a bridge between places, a way of knowing where one stands. It was just one small fragment of place and memory that drew me to I was enabled by The Places explore how the past lives in the Project to develop methodologies small mountain communities of south-central Tennessee. that enabled my students
Remembering is a creative act, one of invention as much of retrieval. While it is common to think of memory as simply an act of recall, it is actually an inherently social process. Our social worlds As a public scholar committed constitute the context within and me to build trust, work to engaged community and which we remember even the most participatory processes, I was collaboratively, and improvise. personal things, for “it is in society enabled by The Places Project to that (people) recall, recognize, develop methodologies that enabled and localize their memories,” my students and me to build trust, work collaboratively, according to Maurice Halbwachs, in On Collective Memory. and improvise. Open-ended and not tied to any particular As the philosopher of memory Edward Casey reminds outcome, The Places Project endeavored to claim and us in Framing Public Memory, memories we hold closely as make visible a wide array of knowledge, expertise, and ours alone in fact emerge and remain tenacious only when goals by crowd-sourcing everything from methodology they are in dialogue with the social worlds we inhabit. to interpretation and display. Participatory and “Individual memory takes place in a…nexus that is at once collaborative, the project made possible a renegotiation social and collective, cultural and public,” Casey wrote. of roles between researchers and non-researchers, Folklorist Henry Glassie further distills the social power scholars and publics, universities and communities. of remembrance and telling when he explains in Passing Imperfect and always a work-in-progress, The Places the Time in Ballymenone that stories about the past do not Project offered new possibilities for understanding both illuminate the past solely. Rather, they serve to coordinate memory and place. “multiple responsibilities to time, to the past event, the present situation and the future of the community.” The act of mapping the past onto the landscape through maps facilitates processes that work much as Put simply, the knowledge, values, and perceptions memory does. Just as locating significant places and that a community or society considers important and naming them on a map reinforces their importance, our necessary are reiterated and upheld through its memory memories are etched into our brains through regular work. So much so, in fact, that examining how a group recall. Mapping performs the very functions and forms remembers is just as telling as its topography, critical that memory takes within community life: establishing events, or individual biographies. “Understanding connections; developing usable pasts; negotiating a community or culture does not consist solely in multidimensional relationships between the individual establishing ‘neutral’ facts and ‘objective’ details,” says and the group; and producing coherent—if complex Luke Gibbons in Transformations in Irish Culture. Rather, and oblique—narratives of community values, worries, “it means taking seriously their ways of structuring and aspirations. Yielding a rich and varied collection of experience, their popular narratives, the distinctive narratives, the project invites us to reframe how and to manner in which they frame the social and political what ends scholars work in and with local communities. realities which affect their lives.” In these ways and more, Left: South Cumberland Plateau, Tennessee.
memory facilitates not only the sorting and categorization
All of the places and stories collected by Shea and her team have been mapped with Tableau© software and are accessible via www.theplacesproject.org.
of events and experience of the past, but also makes possible a reckoning with the anxieties, hopes, and preoccupations of the present and for the future.
A Focus on The Mountain
he Places Project focused on an area known to local residents as “The Mountain,” a part of the plateau that includes at its highest elevation Monteagle Mountain. Part of the Appalachian mountain chain 75 miles east of Nashville, Monteagle Mountain has east and west summits, separated by several miles of rolling hills, that climb to an elevation of 1,900 feet. The South Cumberland plateau is geographically, historically, and culturally uniquely illegible—certainly to outsiders, but also to residents. Its valleys are diverse. Some are populated by the same families that reside on the mountain and can be described as “mountain-facing.” Others are integrated economically, politically, and socially with the lowlands beyond the mountain; thus, residents have little interaction with the mountain even if their ancestors once came to the valleys from the plateau. Outcroppings, bluffs, and coves mark a topographically diverse landscape, which has resulted in the development of very small communities with little or no interaction with one another. The plateau is sparsely populated and sits at the junction of three counties. The population of 4
Grundy County is, according to the U.S. Census, 13,000; the population of The Mountain is approximately 17,000. Grundy County comprises most of the physical area of the mountain and is the second-poorest county in the state of Tennessee by household income. Grundy is often described in terms of what is wrong with it. It ties with Campbell County for the lowest rates of high-school graduation, has one of the lowest rates of medicallyinsured adults, and has high rates of infant mortality. Grundy, however, boasts high rates of homeownership and one of the highest rates of women-owned businesses in Tennessee, according to IndexMundi. The first region to be strip-mined in Tennessee and to host missionaries, volunteers, and other outsiders with extractive motives, local residents are particularly sensitive to the prospect of outsiders “mining” for their knowledge, wisdom, and experience for purposes in which they are not involved and have no influence. While Grundy is the most mountainous of the three counties, Franklin and Marion counties are also situated on the South Cumberland Plateau and are part of The Mountain. While Grundy’s valleys are considered to be part of, or at least extensions of, The Mountain, Marion’s and Franklin’s valleys are part of political, educational, and sociocultural jurisdictions that are not associated with The Mountain. In Franklin County, The Mountain is also the location of the University of the South, which was founded on
the eve of the United States Civil War by the Southern idea of “one space, many places,” The Places Project was dioceses of the Episcopal Church, so that young men of designed as a resource but also a process that would model Southern stock could get a liberal arts education without approaches for bringing historically divided communities leaving the region. The university covers 13,000 acres, into dialogue together in ways that did not highlight or provides a liberal arts education, and is a major employer. exacerbate differences, and, at the same time, resisted Sewanee, as it is called, represents a place apart from the tendencies to collapse or ignore those differences. rest of The Mountain because The project was designed of its history of privilege and as a process to bring diverse exclusiveness and the paucity The Places Project was designed communities from The Mountain of local residents among the and mountain-facing valleys ranks of faculty, students, or as a resource but also a process together obliquely, without administrative staff—as well as its forcing direct communication that would model approaches stone entrance gates that sever it or confrontation. The Places from surrounding communities. for bringing historically divided Project invited residents to share With its own golf course, a communities into dialogue together. places that they remembered $336-million endowment, and as meaningful, with no further plans for a major retirement qualification defining what community targeted for alumni constitutes meaning for participants. The purpose of the and friends of the university, the university represents a project was to build a collectively authored map of place community and culture apart on the plateau. Even so, to and memory together. The project itself was a shared those connected to the university, the institution itself is space; as such, it invited participants to narrate their synonymous with The Mountain. At the same time, the places and communities on their own terms and to put university employs hundreds of local residents whose own places in relationship to each other through memories relationships to the institution are extremely diverse. and stories. It invited participants to be thoughtful and reflective about their pasts in relation to their attachments to place, self, family, and The Purpose of community. In turn, the data The Places Project collected were also shared and transparent; this leveraged the he Places Project potential for its interpretation could not claim to lead to be crowdsourced, shared, to the development and transparent as well. of immediate, quantifiable benefits or resources for The Places Project utilized the areas targeted for participatory research participation. At the same methodologies as a way to time, the difficulty of reading explore community and the physical landscape of cultural memory. These the region and its political methods broke down the patchwork of county lines boundaries among researchers, were matched by hyperstudents, and community local tendencies and cultural members and enabled scholars disconnects and divides. and their co-researchers These are products of to construct meaning and fragmentation, but they also negotiate its broader and intensify fragmentation. deeper significance together. Community, business, and The project contributed to government leaders had been the understanding of placeworking to help residents making by making visible from different local towns performances of memory to communicate effectively that simultaneously honor with one another and, at individual representations and Approximately 250 places and stories collected by Shea and her team were the same time, to develop matched with photos and were printed and placed in pockets on a 15' x 9' narratives, construct intimate a singular unified regional publics, and build and make aerial photo map of the South Cumberland Plateau, on exhibit at the voice. Utilizing Yi-Fu Tuan’s visible community identities Grundy County Historical Society. Margo Shea
through collected and collective memories. Digital maps using Tableau© software, a physical map with pockets physically stitched into it, and hundreds of stories and accompanying images allow for re-curation and creative engagement with place and memory at the Grundy County Historical Society, where the map is on permanent display. The Places Project attempted to use a model of shared inquiry. In processes of shared inquiry, the researcher must understand and be able to articulate the significance of the research idea while inviting questions, suggestions, guidance, and direction from others about the content and direction of the project. In addition, it is necessary to create a big tent, to envision a broad process for crowdsourced and community-curated initiative about local places without undertaking a specific research design. In the context of The Places Project, the articulation of project goals was process and social, precisely because memory work itself is processual and social. Participative inquiry took the form of meeting with civic organizations, municipal leaders, business owners, educators, and students to explain the idea of a deep map of the locale; proposing ideas for where to collect memories; suggesting how memories and narratives might be useful locally; soliciting questions, ideas and criticisms; and problemsolving in public settings.
Participatory methods led to major innovations in project design. The initial design proposal for 6
In many instances, the process of inquiry reflected and underscored issues that made the deep map a productive methodology for rendering visible residents’ understandings of place and memory. For example, most gatherings suggested were hyper-local; gatherings of citizens very often were limited to residents of one town or village. Extremely interested in the prospect of The Places Project for their discrete communities, participants struggled to see the relevance or import of collecting data about Stories were collected using actual maps and geo-located prompts that neighboring towns as close as corresponded to recorded or written stories. two miles away. This potential limitation led to a focus on crowdsourcing at individual town and village-specific festivals and events. At the same time, there was an equal emphasis on crowdsourcing at the few broadly inclusive events—county fairs and festivals—that pulled attendees from across the plateau and valleys.
In the context of The Places Project, digital crowdsourcing opportunities existed alongside their analog counterparts. It was possible to contribute places and memories via a project website, a project Facebook page, and a telephone This game prompted contributors about places that are meaningful to them. hotline. It was also possible Margo Shea
Local residents questioned, and in some cases challenged, the utility and practical outcomes for the project. It was challenging to champion the benefits of data collection when particular places, time periods, and activities were not going to be specified in the collection process itself. This challenge was particularly true in Grundy County, where generations of poverty, clientism, and low levels of college education had instilled in local residents a lack of confidence in their skills, competencies, and expertise.
story collection was interview-based, but residents and stakeholders in diverse settings pushed for a more social, and more informal, setting for collection. From a research perspective, this posed challenges and required new approaches to demographic data collection, informed consent, and recording or transcription of stories. Residents suggested places that would be welcoming and amenable for collecting stories and, in many cases, made introductions with gatekeepers for the research team. They stressed the appeal of a model similar to the one developed by Storycorps, Inc., in which two interlocutors who are well-known to each other discuss places and memories. Residents suggested that informal, social settings where people are often with friends and family would lend themselves towards social remembering and place-making, which in fact it did.
When local residents and leaders suggested that the
Eric, a Places Project volunteer, collecting stories.
By pooling their stories at fairs, festivals, and heritage events, a large cross-section of residents was able to Grundy County residents contributing to The Places Project. participate by sharing places and memories and by listening to others’ memories and locating places on large maps. A large cross-section of residents People gathered around was able to participate by sharing the booth, looked at maps, listened to each other, found places and memories and by listening their memories triggered or challenged, and continued the to others’ memories and locating process of sharing stories and places on large maps. memories. Physical collection took place in eight of the 13 towns about which memories and places were collected as well as at county-wide events that drew residents from across The Mountain. Collection took place over 18 months, providing numerous opportunities for participation. Residents could choose whether or not to contribute, opting out at one event and then choosing to share a place and memory at a later date. There were no restrictions on contributions, and 13 residents shared more than one place and memory on the map.
to acquire a paper form and to submit handwritten or typed memories of places deemed significant by the contributor. Fewer than 40 of the 700 contributions to the project were contributed online, however. Mirroring the social processes of memory and place-making, residents suggested and were overwhelmingly more receptive to physically approaching a map of the region, finding “their” place, and writing a memory on a card or sharing the memory orally for researchers to transcribe.
collection format was too “business-like,” researchers undertook this to mean that it appeared to potential participants as transactional, leading them to query how and to what ends their information would be used. The project director invited high-school students to take an active role in collecting stories and places and increased communication with prospective participants about where the information gathered would be stored and how it would displayed and utilized locally. Giving clearly-defined explanations of the ways the information gathered would be used and displayed was challenging when the data being collected were open-ended and therefore unpredictable. Participatory crowdsourced projects have the potential to facilitate the creation of a set of narratives about place, memory, and identity that reflect their social, contingent, and processual aspects. The participatory method creates a “project space,” defined by feminist scholar of planning and architecture Elizabeth Cahn as an “intersubjective material projection,” a site of action and reflection that temporarily bridges incommensurable entities, attitudes, or institutions. In project space, researchers are dedicated to and reflective about the process itself, but there is no predetermined outcome. Participants become experts—and their memories and experiences, rather than fitting into a pre-existing research framework, constitute the project framework itself and their contributions thus constitute the project. At once a broad and collaborative 7
Left: The Cross, the most important place on The Mountain, according to more than 650 contributions to The Places Project. Right: An image and story about Savage Gulf, a breathtaking landscape in the heart of Appalachia’s South Cumberland Plateau.
process in terms of collection, mapping itself is intimate and lends itself to the creation of intimate publics, both during the mapping process itself and in the process of curation.
with broader themes relevant to community and cultural identity. In rural areas, detailed knowledge of topography itself was important, while knowledge of families and family history mattered most in the towns. Being able to converse about Augmenting Cahn’s notion, According to museum staff, local events, controversies, and scholar Lauren Berlant explains that tragedies gained the research team many participants and those intimate publics are experimental trust required to build the confidence project spaces where we might who view the map have made of participants so that they would endeavor towards alternative versions participate in the mapping project. of the past, present, or future. Their emotional investments in multivocality and the decenteredness Mapping was participatory and what they have seen, read, of individual memories, along collaborative. Participants shared with the experience of physically their first names, age, and town or and heard, entering into one being in a shared virtual or physical subsection of a town they identified another’s stories and thus co- most with. Their surnames were not space of shared cultural production around the past, drew important Many participants engaged creating a broader and deeper revealed. connections between ordinary affects in mapping with family members or and formal and intimate publics. narrative of place than the one friends, but others contributed alone. The freedom to divulge memories of Participatory methods require that existed before the project. place and to convey the significance facilitative leadership from scholars. of place to the research team without Developing the knowledge to having one’s full name printed ask informed questions, listen effectively, and guide anywhere allowed participants to share a perspective, or participants as they contribute to maps are the primary emphasize a memory, that others in their network might methods for participatory mapping. In this project, have viewed differently. participatory deep mapping required the project team to learn local history, make connections between My students spent six months introducing the project communities and families, and understand the ways in and engaging residents before beginning the crowdsourced which place memory and place attachment correspond mapping process at fairs, festivals, and other community 8
Having members of the research team with deep local ties undoubtedly helped to make prospective participants feel comfortable contributing to the map. Having outsiders with few local relationships in the communities where they were collecting allowed contributors-to-be to inhabit an expert’s role and to inform and educate through the mapping process itself. Here, acknowledging that different kinds of expertise are required for a participatory project and bringing people with different ties to local communities was an important research strategy.
The Project’s Community Presence
he Places Project ultimately had a robust community presence, which simultaneously reflected and increased visibility and legitimacy. It maintained a Facebook page and a project website and was discussed broadly on local television and in local newspapers. It became a topic of conversation and a window into possibilities for local residents to think about and reflect on their stories and their histories and what they want for the future. The 18-month-long process of collecting places and stories meant that community members could consider their willingness to participate. Many contributors noted that they had seen the mapping booth before but had not approached at that time; the extended period of collection made it possible for people to make informed choices about sharing their places and stories on the map. Curation was designed to bring a diverse community’s knowledge, inheritances, and values in relation to place and memory to itself in a way that prioritized coherence and cohesion without simplifying, paraphrasing, or interpreting for a community or on behalf of it. The research team geo-coded all of the places, input all stories into a database, and created a series of digital maps that are freely accessible to anyone who wants to explore them at theplacesproject.org/explore-the-maps/. Places were sorted by latitude-longitude coordinates, town, generalized age of contributor, and one’s relationship to the region. A series of maps were created through a process of tagging data according to themes that arose
consistently within the data set, including history, race, family, community, physical activity, natural beauty, religion/faith, and work. The themes emerged out of the data; there were no preconceived categories. In the same way, places around which the most stories and memories accreted were highlighted in a map; there were no preconceived ideas about which places might be most significant. In this way, narrative really did become data in a meaningful sense. Places stood out because they were revisited by many people for many different reasons. Instead of identifying “likely” places of significance, the project allowed residents to reveal meaningful sites through their own narrated memories. “To let people realize their own experience is valid, and has a literary character, is deeply empowering,” says Kentucky-born poet and teacher Maurice Manning. This empowerment occurs pronouncedly when projects, Manning says, “let people…hear their stories in their own words.” The maps create a story that is shared but that allows for separateness and difference, for multivocality without the loss of individual voices. They enable residents to define places literally in their own terms. As such, they create a broad and diverse understanding of how people of the region conceptualize place generally, and places of significance specifically, and also reflect the ways memory operates within our social worlds. The Places Project thus expanded localized memories and created recognition of both a wider communal experience on the plateau and some of the differences in perceptions, place attachments, and relationship to the past among different communities and populations.
spaces. The insider-outsider status of the research team allowed for the negotiation between emic and etic— that is, positioned inside and outside social groups that constituted the local population. This was an ongoing process; researchers, to be sure, were not always aware of our own ignorance or blind spots as outsiders, a methodological flaw that certainly shaped the project. At the same time, this insider/outsider status allowed for communication about sensitive personal information that might not have been shared with a local person whose ties in the communities would have necessarily contributed to his or her interpretation of memories and places.
Halie Monroe, project research assistant, installing the story map at the Grundy County Historical Society. 9
Results of The Places Project
t is challenging to identify the “results” in a traditional scholarly way. Already, however, the project has led to productive community discussions. One illustrative example relates to cultural divides and outdoor activities. Since local residents do not patronize the state parks, there had been a longstanding assumption that local people do not care about the outdoors unless they are hunting. Data from The Places Project, when interpreted for the Friends of the South Cumberland State Parks, showed a very different picture. There is deep appreciation of and engagement with the outdoors. Local people, however, have a different “map” of the outdoors and tend to pursue activities on private land rather than go to the state parks. Places Project data clearly illustrate deep connections and investments with natural landscapes that happen to be outside the realm of the park system. The existence of a data set that engages qualitative issues encouraged the Friends of South Cumberland State Parks to develop a different approach to local residents and to ask different questions, eschewing assumptions that are based on a different cultural vocabulary and lens.
Ultimately, all of these initiatives speak to the power of participatory mapping projects for bringing a community home to itself. The Places Project map is now proudly displayed at the Grundy County Historical Society’s local history museum, described by staff, volunteers, and visitors as a “gift.” According to museum staff, many participants and those who view the map have made emotional investments in what they have seen, read, and heard, entering into one another’s stories and thus co-creating a broader and deeper narrative of place than the one that existed before the project. Local spinoff projects— including a social media campaign to explore the idea of “home” on the mountain, an oral history project detailing Sewanee’s local African-American history, and several local place-making photo installations throughout the year in local storefronts—have allowed residents to examine and express place attachment on their own terms and in their own micro-local contexts. Ultimately, all of these initiatives speak to the power of participatory mapping projects for bringing a community home to itself.
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Ayers, E., 2015. Turning Toward Space, Place and Time in Bodenhamer, D., Corrigan, J. and Harris, T. Deep Maps and Spatial Narratives, Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 2015, 1-13. Berlant, L. and Prosser, J., 2011. Life Writing and Intimate Publics: A Conversation with Lauren Berlant, Biography 34(1), 180-187. Bodenhamer, D., Corrigan, J. and Harris, T. (2015) Deep Maps and Spatial Narratives, Bloomington: University of Indiana Press. Casey, E., 1992. Public Memory in Place and Time in Phillips, K. ed., Framing Public Memory, Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1992, 17-44. Corbett, Katherine T. and Miller, Howard S., 2006. A Shared Inquiry into Shared Inquiry, The Public Historian, 28(1), 15-38. CRESC Encounters Collaborative, (2017) (Un)doing collaboration: reflections on the practices of collaborative research Manchester: University of Manchester and The Open University. Miller, E., Little, E., High, S. (2017) Going Public: The Art of Participatory Practice, Vancouver: UBC Press. Fischer, N., 2015. Memory Work: The Second Generation, London: Palgrave Macmillan. Gibbons, L., 1996. Transformations in Irish Culture, South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press. Glassie, H., 1981. Passing the Time in Ballymenone, Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Grele, R, 1981. Whose Public? Whose History? What is the Goal of a Public Historian? The Public Historian 3(1), 40-48. Halbwachs, M. in ed. and trans. Coser, L., 1992. On Collective Memory, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992. Howe, J., 2006. The rise of crowdsourcing. Wired Magazine, Vol. 14:6. Hurley, A., 2016. Chasing the Frontiers of Digital Technology: Public History Meets the Digital Divide. The Public Historian, Vol. 38 No. 1, February 2016, 69-88. IndexMundi, https://www.indexmundi.com/facts/united-states/ quick-facts/tennessee/population#map Accessed Dec. 1, 2017. Keightley, E., 2008. Engaging with Memory in Pickering, M. Research methods for cultural studies, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 175-192. Meringolo, D., 2012. Museums, Monuments and National Parks: Toward a New Genealogy of Public History, Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press. Pickering, M., 2008. Research methods for cultural studies, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2008. Star, S. L, Strategic heresy as scientific method: Feminism and the psychology of Tomlinson, T, 2017. From the Hills of Harlan Wake Forest Magazine, Spring 2017. United States Census Bureau: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/ fact/table/grundycountytennessee/PST045216. Waterton, E. and Smith, L., 2010. The recognition and misrecognition of community heritage, International Journal of Heritage Studies, 16:1-2, 4-15.
Margo Shea is an assistant professor of history at Salem State University. She teaches public history, Irish history, and twentiethcentury global history, and she coordinates t e lic i tor grad ate certificate and the department’s internship program. She is on the board of the Massachusetts History Alliance. Her book, Defiant Derry: Memory and the Roots of the Northern Irish Troubles will be published in 2020 by Notre Dame Press.
Biologists Cultivate Aquaculture in Liberia Joseph K. Buttner and Michael S. Potter II
n July 10, 2018, we—Salem State University biology Professor Joseph Buttner and senior biology undergraduate Michael Potter— embarked on a trip to Liberia.
meaningful cultural and biological experience in Liberia. This would be Mike’s first trip to that country, while it was the seventh visit for Joe, who goes by “dr. joe.”
To understand why we were in Liberia in the first Our mission, to be carried out over the following place, one needs to know about the country’s history. week, was four-fold. One, we wanted to reaffirm and Liberia is a tropical country with a population of about expand the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) 4.7 million people, located on Africa’s west coast. The between the United Methodist University of Liberia country was conceptualized prior to the War of Southern (UMU) and Salem State University. Two, we wanted Independence by the American Society for Colonizing the to assess current conditions in Monrovia, the capital Free People of Color of the United States, which arranged city, and in upcountry Liberia in preparation for our for the first wave of freed slaves in 1820. In 1847, Liberia anticipated return in March 2019 with students enrolled became an independent state with Monrovia, named after in Salem State’s Liberian Experience. This 2019 trip took U.S. President James Monroe, as its capital. English is place during spring break, March 8-18, with Dr. Greg the official language, although multiple languages used Carroll (interdisciplinary studies, or IDS) and Dr. David by people that originally populated the area prior to Mercer (biology) and colonization are spoken. students Charlie Spence Isolation and subjugation (undeclared), Lauren of native peoples by Rich (IDS), Angela freed slaves proved to be Bellerose (biology), and a chronic problem that Theresa Soldan (peace culminated in two brutal and conflict). Three, civil wars that ended we wanted to meet after nearly a decade with members of our and half of conflict in growing aquaculture 2003. More recently, team to assess pond the most severe Ebola conditions at the United outbreak ever recorded Methodist Mission in killed one out every Ganta (the second1,000 Liberians in 2014largest city in Liberia), 15. From conception initiate aquaculture through the present, training, and determine Liberia and the United the next step. And four, States have remained we wanted to gain a closely linked. Standing at right, dr. joe brings a pump to help manage water during the dry season. 11
To help Liberians achieve a sustainable peace and not slip back into chaos, Salem State and UMU forged the Liberian PeaceBuilding Initiative in 2010. Participants recognized that essential requisites to achieving a sustainable peace include access to food security, health care, quality education, and meaningful employment. In 2012, aquaculture was integrated into the peace initiative as a means to
secure a more reliable food supply, create jobs and income in rural areas, and provide hope for a better tomorrow. An MOU exists between Salem State and UMU, renewed in 2016, that nurtures interaction among faculty, administration, staff, and students from both institutions. The Peace Initiative has gradually expanded and now includes the U.S. State Department, the Liberian National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA), practicing and prospective aquaculturists, and elected officials in Liberia.
To help Liberians achieve a sustainable peace and not slip back into chaos, Salem State and UMU forged the Liberian Peace-Building Initiative in 2010.
Courtesy of Joe Buttner
Contemporary Liberia may be categorized into three demographic groups: adults over 40 who remember before the civil wars, when Liberia was a stable nation often touted as an African success story; young adults who grew up during the disruption and are often illiterate, with many growing up in the bush and serving as child soldiers; and youth and adolescents who do not possess a personal knowledge of horrors perpetuated during the civil wars, but who— thanks to cell phones and the internet—are keenly aware of the contrasting circumstances between contemporary Liberia and the world. Though the civil wars and Ebola outbreak are mercifully history, conditions in Liberia remain challenging. Half the population is under 18 years of age. Nearly two-thirds of rural youth are illiterate, 48 percent live in extreme poverty, and 32 percent are physically stunted due to malnutrition. The situation for adults is equally dismal; 87 percent are categorized as “vulnerably unemployed.”
Mike and dr. joe train Liberians to monitor and manage water quality.
Aquaculture, the aquatic equivalent of terrestrial agriculture, produces aquatic organisms under controlled conditions for human use (such as ingestion, clothing, pharmaceuticals, pets, and research). Since 2012, Joe has visited Liberia on seven occasions, often with Salem State biology majors, including Lawrence Gleekia (2013), Thomas Pedulla (2014), Nadine Budrow (2014), Mirna Portillo (2014), and Michael Potter (2018). Another two dozen students have similarly accompanied and assisted other Salem State faculty involved in the Liberian Peace-Building Initiative (Drs. Greg Carroll, IDS; Alan Shwedel, education; Victoria Morrison, formerly of nursing; and David Mercer, biology). During trips to Liberia we learned that Liberians possess a tradition of fishing, eating fish, and practicing aquaculture. Prospective
During the 2018 trip, much of our effort in Liberia involved meeting and talking with our Liberian colleagues. They included UMU administrators, faculty, staff, and students; elected officials; personnel from NaFAA; and Liberian aquaculturists. Our first day in Liberia was largely spent securing and upgrading communication capabilities, given that cell phone providers had changed and cell phone technology had advanced since Joe’s last visit in December 2016. On our second day, we met with representatives from two UMU campuses—the main campus in Monrovia and the School of Agriculture in Sinoe—as well as elected officials in Monrovia on UMU’s main campus. At the meeting, we reaffirmed the MOU between Salem State and UMU. We also identified the next aquaculture step to help achieve a sustainable peace in Liberia. That next step
Liberians sample one of three ponds at Gbarnga, supervised by dr. joe.
was to work with the UMU network of campuses and missions to create an aquaculture curriculum and training program to generate a cadre of Aquaculture Extension Specialists. Subsequently, we enlisted participation from NaFAA and fish growers to develop a “train the trainer” initiative that would facilitate a broader, Liberia-wide participation. To assess conditions, secure support, and validate the appropriateness of the proposed project, we travelled upcountry to visit operations at the Ganta United Methodist Mission (GUMM), UMU School of Theology in Gbarnga, and NaFAA’s recently renovated hatchery in Tassah. With paved roads recently constructed as a collaborative project between Liberia and China, transit to Ganta took four hours and was uneventful.
pon arrival at GUMM, we gave to colleagues a water pump that would help manage water flow and maintain optimal depth in the fishpond during the dry season. Aquaculture training was initiated, with guidance on when and how to use the new pump to transfer water from the reservoir pond to the fishpond so that a constant water level could be maintained above
Courtesy of Joe Buttner
and existing aquaculture sites have been visited, sampled, and defined in terms of their opportunities. In 2016, pond construction was conducted and training of Liberians was initiated by dr. joe, then serving as a Fulbright Specialist. Both activities continue today, almost literally as visits occurred in July 2018 and during Spring Break in March 2019. Weekly emails and periodic phone calls maintain linkages, dialogue, and momentum among the growing list of collaborators between visits.
Image accessed and modified by Mike Potter
ambient conditions that would facilitate pond management and increase fish production. All supplies needed to manage the pond effectively are now on site. Now, the primary charge is training people to use the available resources to maximize fish production and to enlist new participants.
Aquaculture ponds at GUMM are visible from space via satellite.
lifted the seine and allowed fish to escape. The vegetation can be removed manually and its return prevented by raising water depth from the current 0.7m to the desired target of 1.1m. Fish are aquatic organisms. They spend their entire life in water, and they eat, metabolize, and defecate in this water. They affect water quality and are impacted by water quality. Aquaculture crowds fish together at densities rare or nonexistent in nature. Monitoring and managing water quality is critical to effective fish culture. Training of the team at GUMM was initiated, and information on water quality (as well as management options) was provided:
Water control during the rainy and dry seasons requires different strategies. During the rainy season, rapid discharge of excess water is essential. During the dry season, water storage and necessary transfer are critical. To provide for rapid transfer of water during Caged tilapia, imported from the Ivory Coast, are fed a special ration to produce an the rainy season, an all-male population at the Tessah Hatchery. Male tilapia grow bigger and faster than overflow gate had been do female tilapia. constructed, but its design proved inadequate to prevent erosion and damage. Water Quality (0820) We modified the design and acquired materials needed Location Temp (C) D.O. (mg/L) pH Alk (mg/L) to repair damage and to provide a permanent, passive discharge. Actual repairs took place after July 26— Fish pond 24.5 2.4 6.5 16 Liberian Independence Day—and after our departure. Water reservoir 24.0 2.0 6.5 16 To maximize fish growth, additional energy or food is added to production ponds. Traditionally, cassava stems Water Quality (1400) and leaves are placed in ponds as nutrients for fish and to promote their growth. Cassava was planted nearby Location Temp (C) D.O. (mg/L) pH Alk (mg/L) at GUMM for this purpose. To enhance efficiency and Fish pond 30 3.2 6.5 16 encourage record-keeping, we instructed the team to strip and shred leaves from stems before they were fed to Water reservoir 29 4.4 6.5 16 fish. Stemless leaves would promote ingestion, digestion, Secchi disk in pond (~46 cm) and quantification of amount fed when placed in a bucket that allowed for volume measurement. Management Water quality in the fishpond is suitable for fish, but could be enhanced by returning two hours after a feeding alkalinity could be increased (with agricultural limestone) to assess if the food was all gone or not. If gone, more and water added. These management actions would leaves could be added. If leaves were found floating on substantially increase fish production and promote pond surface, the feeding rate would be reduced. management while incurring little expense. To assess the abundance and condition of fish, the After working at the pond site, we visited the pond was seined (a technique to sample fish). Two species computer lab at the K-12 mission school. The lab houses of tilapia (a popular tropical species) in good condition a dozen “raspberries”: credit-card-sized, low-cost were collected. Our sampling was complicated by computers. More than a dozen computers are available vegetation—covering about one-fifth of the pond—that 14
NaFAA operates the Klay Hatchery, which was conceived and constructed by Peace Corps volunteers.
for students to use. Initially, students between 16 and 18 were encouraged to use the computers, but now all students have access to computers and training. Younger students use “TUX” to learn the keyboard; older students can access the Internet and world through the “raspberry” network. Admittedly, access to computers is a great educational opportunity for youth, but their presence and availability also facilitate record-keeping as well as pond and fish management for aquaculture production.
Ponds and Possibilities at Gbarnga
he UMU School of Theology at Gbarnga is located approximately 60 kilometers west of Ganta and 200 kilometers northeast of Monrovia. Beyond its charge to train ministers, it provides K-12 instruction and assists local farmers with agricultural training. Three natural ponds with a total surface area of 12 hectares are onsite. The ponds harbor fish populations that are harvested primarily by local youth using hook and line. Interest exists to manage and harvest these ponds to increase fish production as expressed by administrators and faculty. Sharing a water quality similar to that found in ponds at GUMM (alkalinity < 45 mg/L), addition of agricultural limestone and cassava leaves would substantially increase fish production. More training in pond and fish management, modest resources (such as a
boat, hoop nets, and holding and hauling capacity), and enhanced security to minimize poaching would increase harvest efficiency and fish production.
NaFAA Manages Aquaculture
aFAA administers fisheries management and aquaculture from its home office in Monrovia and hatcheries at Tassah and Klay. We met with NaFAA staff to identify major impediments to fisheries management and expansion of aquaculture, including the lack of essential, largely inexpensive, equipment (such as seines, test kits, and pumps) and inadequate training for Extension Specialists. They view “training the trainer” as a very high priority and enthusiastically want to help develop aquaculture curriculum and extension specialist training. The addition of NaFAA to our Peace Initiative brings their expertise, commitment, and resources to facilitate expansion of aquaculture throughout Liberia.
hen traveling in countries off the tourist radar, it is prudent to establish and maintain good relations with the local embassy. As Fulbright Specialists in 2016, Greg Carroll and Joe made three trips each to Liberia. Since the Fulbright Program 15
is associated with the U.S. Department of State, it opened a conduit to the Embassy and staff in Liberia. While many staff had departed since our visit in 2016, some personnel remained. These contacts and interaction provide a conduit to modest funding and an opportunity to bridge a U.S. presence from Monrovia to upcountry Liberia. In essence, we have become not only facilitators of peace but also ambassadors for the United States. During our visits with and updates to embassy staff, we have been accompanied by UMU administrators, further facilitating and augmenting our efforts in Liberia.
ransit from Monrovia to Roberts International Airport typically takes an hour. Our departure in July 2018 was aided by a Liberian legislator and friend who provided his personal vehicle and driver. We arrived safely at the airport, with ample time for check-in. But our transit to the airport was hardly uneventful, being complicated by the rainy season. The sole access road was flooded with 50 centimeters of water. Fortunately, our SUV had adequate clearance, and we were able to enlist a half dozen youth to guide and push us the last few hundred meters. Those familiar with West Africa acknowledge our subordinate role, as everyone eventfully reaps a WAWA (short for West Africa Wins Again).
Courtesy of Joe Buttner
e acquired a great deal of insight and information during our visit. The MOU between UMU and Salem State was reaffirmed and expanded to include other agencies and individuals. We forged new linkages, growing friendships and shared visions (e.g.,“dr. joe, you are now an African man”). The Representative of the Sixth District enthusiastically supports aquaculture growth in his home county of Nimba. The NaFAA wants a MOU with Salem State to complement one they have with Auburn University. Two NaFAA staffers want guidance to help a young acquaintance and his daughter, respectively, apply to Salem State. Dialogue with the aquaculture team at Ganta determined that nearly 70 percent of them wish to construct and manage their own fishpond as a complement to existing
gardens. They remain committed and equate aquaculture to agriculture because it gives them employment, provides a “road connection”—that is, an opportunity to move forward, connects community to pond and family, and empowers them, as they “don’t want to depend upon government, [and] prefer to do things by self.” A collaborative initiative involving all stakeholders (UMU and NaFAA people, elected officials, aspiring and practicing aquaculturists, and U.S. Embassy personnel) has committed to developing a proposal that would produce an aquaculture curriculum and offer training to aquaculture extension people. A draft proposal was developed and is currently being reviewed by all Liberian collaborators. Conditions in Monrovia and upcountry Liberia remained safe and conducive for our return in March 2019. Economics currently favor U.S. currency. In 2016, one U.S. dollar bought 90 Liberian dollars; this summer the exchange rate was one U.S. dollar for 160 Liberian dollars. Liberian Experience visits should occur during the dry season, from December to May, and not during the rainy season, from June to November. Transit is difficult and unpredictable during the rainy season. The Liberian experience provided participants from both the United States and Liberia with a unique opportunity to learn, grow, and create. Salem State is a conduit for positive change—a place where new realities are forged through the dreams and sweat of participants. Education moves from compartmentalized experiences in seemingly disparate courses to a synergistic experience that marries multiple skills to make a positive difference by thinking globally and acting locally, whether it be on Massachusetts’ North Shore or in upcountry Liberia. We truly live in a global village.
Joseph K. “dr. joe” Buttner is a Salem State University professor of biology, Outreach Specialist for the Cat Cove Marine Laboratory, and co-coordinator of the Northeastern Massachusetts Aquaculture Center. He pursues an active research and outreach program involving the public and students in collaborative projects. He supervises and teaches students in the aquaculture concentration and teaches biology courses for non-majors, majors, and graduate students. Michael Potter II is a senior at Salem State University pursuing his BS in biology with a concentration in marine science. He hopes to use his education to secure a position as an aquatic biologist. His hobbies include reading, growing plants, and tinkering with all manner of things (especially if they are no longer functional).
Journey to Ghana’s Sacred Forests Stephen Young With contributors Jessica Brown, Madden Bremer, and Peter Adortse
fter a long journey from Ghana’s coastal plains into the 2017-18 academic year and an ongoing collaboration. the Volta Mountains on rutted and winding roads, The email was from the New England Biolabs Foundation we finally arrived in Goviefe Todzi. The village (NEBF), located in nearby Ipswich. The staff asked elders were there waiting for us; I think we were a few whether anyone in Salem State University’s geography hours late, but nobody seemed to mind. After some department could help them incorporate mapping into formal introductions, we sat with the elders for hours, their work to better track their grant-making. Of course talking about the weather, the food, the nearby sacred we could, I thought! However, before proceeding, I needed forests, and why we were interested in them. Every now to meet with them to find out exactly what they wanted. and then, a jug of palm Near the end of August wine came around and we 2017, I met at NEBF’s all were expected to drink The email was from the New England headquarters with Executive some, splash some on the Director Jessica Brown and Biolabs Foundation (NEBF), located in ground as a libation for Associate Director Deb the spirits, and pass it on. nearby Ipswich. Staffers asked whether Fraize. The foundation Although the temperature is located on the campus and humidity were both well anyone in Salem State University’s of New England Biolabs, into the 90s, the air didn’t Inc., a supplier of enzymes geography department could help them feel uncomfortable. We all and other products for life sat beneath a large acacia incorporate mapping into their grant-giving sciences research. There we tree that provided shade for sat in the building’s atrium work. Of course we could, I thought! everybody. In addition to among a mix of lush plants the shade and light breeze, and colorful art, bathed the elders explained that in natural light beneath a the wine also helped to keep us cool. I was not sure about magnificent glass ceiling. Jessica and Deb were not certain that, but it did make the visit pleasant. We were finally how mapping could be incorporated into their work, here, deep in the Volta region of Ghana, after nine months but they had a number of ideas that we discussed and of organizing and planning. As hoped, we had managed brainstormed. NEBF is a private, independent foundation to arrive the evening before the one day of the year when whose mission is to foster community-based conservation people were allowed to enter the sacred forest. The elders of landscapes and seascapes and the biocultural diversity were now evaluating whether we would be able to join found in these places. Established more than 35 years them. ago by Don Comb, the founder of the company, the It all started with an email that had the subject line “A New England Biolabs Foundation supports grassroots Shot in The Dark.” I (Professor Stephen Young) thought organizations and other non-governmental organizations that either this could be interesting—or perhaps another (NGOs) internationally in selected countries of Central gimmick. It turned out to be more than interesting, and America, Andean South America, and West Africa, as well evolved into a major focus of my research throughout as locally in communities on Massachusetts’ North Shore. 17
Salem State is environmental sustainability and the use of geospatial technologies such as drones, satellite data, and computer mapping. Geography also has a high-tech side to it: The U.S. Labor Department has identified technical geography as one of the fastest-growing labor markets in the United States. Geographic Information Science (GIS), the core technology in geography, involves the use of computers to analyze spatial data, such as roads, pipelines, mines, and forests. GIS is used in a variety of fields, from medical specialists mapping the spread of malaria or Lyme disease to urban planners preparing for sea-level rise in coastal communities. Salem State’s geography department has one of the oldest—if not the oldest—continuous master’s degree programs in GIS in the world. Graduates of the program work across the planet, from the Metrological Bureau of Shanghai, China, to the Planning Office in Salem, Mass.
The New England Biolabs Foundation has a distinctive approach based on fostering the stewardship of biocultural diversity—the interweave of nature and culture. In many landscapes and seascapes where NEBF works, these dimensions are inextricably linked; to be effective, conservation approaches must embrace these connections. Among the geographic areas where NEBF works is West Africa, a region where there is a deep connection between culture and forest conservation. Unlike many parts of the world, the rural areas of this region still have vibrant villages where the connections between people and their natural environments remain strong, and there are sacred natural sites near these communities, including sacred forests. NEBF has focused its West African work in Cameroon and Ghana; Jessica wanted to see how Salem State’s geography department could help them in this region. Ghana was chosen as the potential country to launch The village of Goviefe Todzi in the Volta Mountains of eastern Ghana, with Lake Volta in the background. this collaboration because, as of August 2017, Cameroon was experiencing internal political turmoil. By contrast, Ghana is very stable. The discipline of geography is unique in that it studies not only the physical aspects of earth but the human side as well. A project that links conservation of both the natural and cultural features of the environment is therefore a perfect fit for the discipline. The focus of geography at 18
Peter Adortse’s map of the sacred forest.
Jessica joined the foundation a decade ago and, under her leadership, has helped the foundation sharpen its mission and target geography; she has also helped it develop and implement strategic directions based on taking a landscape approach to supporting community-based conservation in rural regions.
Concerning the preservation of the environment and cultures, of particular interest to NEBF are the sacred groves in the Volta region of southeastern Ghana. This region still has many intact sacred forests of different sizes that are protected by local villages. For years, NEBF has been supporting community leaders and partner organizations there with their conservation efforts. Now, NEBF wanted to help a local NGO working with the community of Goviefe Todzi map the boundaries of the sacred forest to ensure its protection through Ghana’s legislation supporting community management of forests, and to find out the extent to which the sacred grove was actually protecting forest cover. At Salem State, we use satellite imagery to study changes on the Earth’s surface, so we
Peter Adortse (with blue-checked shirt) and Madden Bremer (standing in background) help participants with technical issues during the community participatory-mapping workshop.
could employ satellite data to study Ghana’s sacred forests. Luckily, when this project request came through, I had a graduate research assistant, Madden Bremer, who is a whiz with GIS and satellite imagery and who has lived and studied in West Africa. She enthusiastically took on this project and made it her master’s thesis. In addition to giving small grants to grassroots organizations, NEBF also offers its grantees capacitybuilding opportunities through training workshops. The foundation staff saw a need for training in the tools of community mapping and participatory GIS, and wanted to begin this work in West Africa. So, in addition to using satellite data to analyze whether the sacred groves of Ghana’s Volta Region are truly protecting forest cover, we agreed to run a mapping workshop for community organizers from different regions of Ghana. NEBF has supported many small grassroots organizations throughout Ghana, so they have a strong network of community organizers, conservation biologists, and government officials to work with; and with Ghana’s national language being English, we could potentially help organizations from around the country. By extraordinary coincidence, in my fall 2017 graduate satellite imaging class one of my students was from Ghana—and from the Volta region as well! Luckily, in January 2018, I was able to hire Peter Adortse
as a research assistant; he spent the spring semester preparing the GIS workshop for the Ghanaian community facilitators. Peter, a U.S. citizen, has always wanted to return to Ghana to help protect Ghana’s environment and to aid in the country’s development. So, in late April 2018 Jessica, Peter, Madden, and I set off for an extended trip to Ghana with several aims in mind. Soon after arriving in Ghana, and before heading off to the Volta region, we ran a two-day participatory community-mapping workshop for a dozen grantees of NEBF who, the foundation felt, would benefit from further training in this area. Peter and Madden ran the workshop, where the community facilitators learned how to use QGIS, a free and easily downloadable GIS software for community mapping. In recent years there has been a growing effort to promote community engagement in resource management. A powerful way to involve local communities is through the mapping of their local knowledge; community mapping is a technique that combines modern cartographic tools such as GIS with participatory methods to represent the spatial knowledge of local communities. Community members have expert knowledge of their local surroundings that can be captured and displayed geographically in a way that is easily understood. 19
Engaging the Community in Mapping
articipatory maps often represent a culturally or socially distinct understanding of the environment and include information often not found on official maps. Maps created by community members represent their view of where they live. This mapping attempts to make visible the association between the land and local communities. These maps highlight the elements that communities themselves perceive as important, such as sacred areas, traditional resource-extraction practices, and customary land boundaries. The mapping process can expose pressing land-related decision-making and can also build community cohesion. In the past the community organizers would create hand-drawn maps. This workshop provided them with the tools to combine their social work with geospatial data to create professional maps and the ability to present their information in a way that decision-makers would look at and take seriously.
forest is gone and the sacred groves stand out as islands of forest in a sea of agriculture. Although unrecognized in any formal manner within Ghana’s modern legal system, the sacred groves remain because they are protected by longstanding religious sanctions and taboos due to their cultural and religious significance. Much of the groves’ sacred associations derive from the general belief that one or more local gods reside within the forests. Often referred to as fetishes, the gods are believed to communicate through a fetish priest who is tasked with relaying messages to the community. At times, these priests also act as traditional healers and possess an understanding of traditional medical and ecological practices, making them vital to the wellbeing of a community. Although the fetish priest is the main interface between the spiritual forces and the local community, the community as a whole is held responsible for protection of the sacred site. This is why we had to sit with the elders for hours as they assessed our desire to visit the forest: It was up to the community to approve our visit there. The protection of this sacred forest remains successful due to strong traditional belief systems and spiritual and religious attachments. Stephen Young
Peter and Madden provided the community organizers with two days of GIS computer training (all participants were computer-savvy) and mapping exercises that included a half-day field project of mapping the workshop grounds. Most In describing her first The vegetation became dense as Professor Stephen Young, Peter Adortse, and of the participants already Madden Bremer approached the sacred forest. visit to the sacred forest of knew each other; by the Goviefe Todzi in 2016, for a end of each day there was lots of socializing, singing, and recent article in the magazine Langscape, Jessica described dancing, which made everyone feel like one big family. an experience similar to the one we had that day. On After the workshop ended we stayed with this group that earlier occasion, because she and the other visitors for an extra day to participate in another program that arrived late in the afternoon, it was already sunset by the focused on creative community engagement. When it was time that the village elders had conferred at length about time to head to the mountains, it was hard to leave our whether to allow a visit to the sacred forest. Once this new group of friends who are so dedicated to community had been agreed, the small band of visitors and villagers activism and environmental protection. climbed the mountain at dusk—and descended later in the darkness. But they did so in high spirits, “jubilant, Sacred landscapes in Ghana come in a variety singing our way down the mountain.” As she writes, of forms such as ponds, mangroves, forests, caves, This is a landscape under robust and vital mountains, boulders, and other natural features. The community-led governance, its natural values long-term relationship between a community and its inextricably linked to the cultural practices sacred landscape includes cultural, spiritual, economic, of the people who serve as its stewards. and aesthetic values. This relationship often dates back Our lateness in ascending the mountain that hundreds or thousands of years, creating a distinct afternoon was precisely due to the vitality religious and cultural environment. In the Volta of this traditional governance. To visit the region of southeast Ghana, forests tend to be the main sacred forest, the necessary protocols must sacred habitat. Not so long ago, southern Ghana was a be followed. continuous expanse of forest cover; today, much of that 20
Community organizer Pascal Benson (center) and Madden Bremer (right) rest on the way to the forest with a guide from Goviefe Todzi.
Each sacred site has its own gods and stories. As we After a restful night at a nearby mountaintop learned from the elders, the sacred forest of Goviefe guesthouse, we arrived at Goviefe Todzi for our journey Todzi traces its origin back to when the Ashanti people, into the sacred forest. This day was actually very in present-day West Ghana, frequently attacked other special, for Jessica was going to be welcomed into the tribes to gain power and land as well as enslave lessGoviefe Todzi community as an honorary village elder, dominant tribes. A powerful an invitation that had been and far-reaching tribe, the extended by the community Ashanti people were recognized As we learned from the elders, the the year before. In some rural throughout Ghana as a serious sacred forest of Goviefe Todzi traces villages of Ghana, there is a adversary. During Ashanti tradition of inviting outsiders its origin back to when the Ashanti attacks on the community of who have demonstrated a special Goviefe Todzi, it was stated connection to a community to that the surrounding forest was people, in present-day West Ghana, become an honorary elder, or the greatest defense against the frequently attacked other tribes “development chief.” Because invaders and that the victory of the bond that Jessica had to gain power and land as well as of the Volta warriors was due formed with the community largely to the now-sacred forest. enslave less-dominant tribes. over several visits, including that The dense forest growth and the first trip to the sacred forest as land’s steep topography made darkness fell over the mountain, attempts at invasion quite difficult, and the Volta warriors, the village wanted to welcome her as an honorary member though much fewer in number, easily defended their of the village. In order for this to happen, she had to enter community and people from attack. For these reasons, the the sacred forest, once again, and undertake a series of sacred forest is still acknowledged as a key reason for the rituals, which is why we had organized our visit for this community’s health and safety today. day of the year. 21
The day started off with our meeting with the village elders once again, followed by a formal visit with the village leaders from three different villages, given that the local sacred forest is part of three local villages. While we were visiting the local leaders, a group of young warriorsâ€”along with the regional fetish priestâ€”set off for the sacred forest with machetes, drums, water, food, and sacrificial goats and chickens, along with other items for the annual ritual of communicating with the village spirits that live in the forest. That morning we were also accompanied by Dr. George Ortsin, Grants Director from the United Nations, who facilitated our travels in Ghana.
We then entered the sacred forest. For the next few hours we experienced drumming, singing, rituals, eating, and drinking. The fetish priest, warriors, villagers, and guests intermingled with each other and the spirits of the sacred forest. During this time the fetish priest performed age-old rituals and communicated with the forest spirits while the warriors continually drummed, sang, and danced. Three goats and several chickens were sacrificed and then eaten. The atmosphere was joyous and festive, yet also serious and attentive. After hours in the forest, we descended the mountain to the village below, where the elders were waiting for us. We sat together under the large acacia tree in the center of town where we talked, drank, and ate some more. Now that we had been in the sacred forest and the appropriate rituals were undertaken, the day was given over to a community durbar, or gathering, in which all of the villagers participated, and to the ceremony of welcoming Jessica as an honorary member of the village. As Jessica was taken to a home near the village center and dressed in traditional clothing by several women
The climb to the forest was arduous. I am in pretty good shape and love to hike, but with tropical temperatures above 90 degrees, relative humidity above 90 percent, and steep terrain, it was tough. On our way we hiked through a slash-and-burn landscape, which is an assortment of old trees, young forest, and temporary agricultural plots. Occasionally we stopped and spoke with the agriculturalists working the land: They were growing annual crops such as corn and cassava, along with long-term crops such as bananas and palms. Eventually, we left the slash-and-burn landscape and entered a thickening forest with a dense canopy, large trees, and climbing vines. Soon after entering the forest, we reached
an invisible line at the edge of the sacred forest. Here we had to stop, remove our shoes, and wash our face in a special mixture created by the fetish priest.
Different members of the community took center stage and danced in the spirit of the day. 22
elders, villagers sang to see them again. ARDO and danced outside the organized the day’s visit, room and in the streets. and staffers accompanied us Eventually all the villagers up to the forest along with headed to the center of a couple of village guides. town where there was Their work in helping us an arrangement of tents with the forest mapping and special seating. The was instrumental: Together atmosphere was boisterous we hiked along the edge of and exciting. Soon, the the sacred forest, gathering village leaders arrived in GPS data points that we their traditional clothes, would use to map the sacred and Jessica joined them forest and analyze satellite in the central tent. The data of the forest. Although leaders made several this time we hiked much speeches and spoke kind earlier in the day, when words about Jessica; she temperatures were cooler, replied with kind words the journey to the forest for the village. Completing wasn’t any easier than it had the ceremony required been the day before. When stepping over the blood we were finished collecting of a goat that had been the data and were back in sacrificed in front of the the village, we sat for one main gate, after which last time with the elders the village elders gave enjoying food, drink, and Jessica Brown is doused in white powder before being picked up and carried to a her the honorary title of, conversation. Eventually we ceremonial dressing room. “Development Queen had to leave and start our of Goviefe Traditional Area at Goviefe Todzi.” We all journey back to Salem State. It was hard to leave. I have celebrated over a meal at the home of the village chief. rarely felt as welcome as I did at Goviefe Todzi village. The next day, with ceremonies and celebrations Since returning to Salem State, we have been analyzing now behind us, Madden, Peter, and I returned to the a variety of satellite data sets as we assess deforestation village to begin our mapping project. We hiked back up in the region and see if there is an indication that the to the sacred forest to get sacred forests of Goviefe GPS coordinates for the Todzi village are being boundary of the sacred successfully protected. We We hiked back up to the sacred forest to forest. This was one of our have been analyzing a time get GPS coordinates for the boundary of main objectives while in series of high-resolution Ghana, so that upon our which make up the sacred forest. This was one of our main images, return to Salem State we the base data of Google could use satellite data to Earth, as well as midobjectives while in Ghana, so that upon analyze the sacred forest level resolution data from from space and determine our return to Salem State we could use NASA’s Landsat program. its health and whether it The sacred forest is located satellite data to analyze the sacred forest was truly being protected. in the Volta region of from space and determine its health and At the village we were Ghana, and it is similar to met by Pascal Benson much of the Volta region whether it was truly being protected. and Winfried Donkor, ecologically as well as community organizers socially and economically. from the Accelerated Rural So, we decided to compare Development Organization (ARDO), a small NGO that the amount of deforestation inside the sacred forest with works with rural communities throughout Ghana’s Volta the deforestation of the whole Volta region with at least region. Both Pascal and Winfried took part in our two20 percent forest cover. This is a common method used day participatory mapping workshop and have worked in in analyzing deforestation, but it is a rather simple model the Goviefe Todzivillage for many years. It was wonderful because it does not take into account such factors as 23
Courtesy of Stephen Young
Final meetings at United Nations Regional Headquarters in Accra, Ghana. From left are Professor Stephen Young; Dr. Amos Kabo-Bah of Ghana’s Earth Observation and Innovation Centre; graduate students Madden Bremer and Peter Adortse; and Dr. George Ortsin, U.N. National Coordinator for Small Grants.
proximity to roads and villages, as well as topography. This comparison will be undertaken in the future. Also, we are only comparing one sacred forest to a large area; it might be the one anomaly compared with others. However, this is the first sacred forest to be mapped and analyzed with satellite data. Others are now being mapped as well.
Our initial findings indicate that being a sacred forest has protected the forest cover and the variety of life forms that live there.
REFERENCES Brown, J. 2018. A few short journeys along the nature-culture continuum: Reflections on community-led conservation. In Langscape, Volume 7, Issue 1. Terralingua, Salt Spring Island, B.C., Canada. http://www.terralinguaubuntu.org/Langscape/ Volume_7/Langscape-7-1-overview. Ortsin, G. (2015). Ecological and socio-cultural resilience in managing traditional sacred landscapes in the coastal savannah ecosystem of Ghana. In K. Taylor, A. St. Clair, & N. Mitchell (Eds.), Conserving Cultural Landscapes Challenges and New Directions (pp. 129-143). New York, NY: Routledge. United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). 2003. The importance of sacred natural sites for biodiversity conservation. International workshop on the importance of sacred natural sites for biodiversity conservation. Held in Kunming, Yunnan, China 17-20 Feb., 2003.
Using the Landsat imagery, we discovered that throughout the Volta region between 2000 and 2017, 4.7 percent of the forests experienced a net loss of forest cover, while the sacred forest experienced 0.8 percent. The higher resolution imagery provides more details about how specifically the forest cover of the sacred grove is changing. Our initial findings indicate that being a sacred forest has protected the forest cover and the variety of life forms that live there. Our world is now experiencing extensive global challenges, such as widespread deforestation, and it is urgent that we understand what is happening to our environment and determine what practices are successful in preserving our natural world. Hopefully the villagers in the Volta region of Ghana will be able to continue to preserve their sacred forests long into the uncertain future.
This research was funded by the New England Biolabs Foundation (NEBF) and the School of Graduate Studies at Salem State University. NEBF provided support for our international airfares, visas, and all in-country costs. Salem State provided research assistant support (graduate tuition and stipend) to Madden Bremer and Peter Ardotse. Additional support was provided by GeoEye through a generous grant for high-resolution satellite imagery. Additional data was made available by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Salem State’s Digital Geography Lab was used to process the satellite data. The United Nation’s Development Agency (UNDP) and Dr. George Ortsin (National Coordinator, UNDP/GEF Small-Grants Programme) generously provided ground transportation and in-country support. The Accelerated Rural Development Organization (ARDO) also provided ground support in the Volta Region of Ghana. The Elders and members of Goviefe Todzi village provided extensive support and friendship during the visit to the region.
Stephen Young is a professor of remote sensing (satellite imaging) and environmental sustainability in the geography department at Salem State University. He uses geographic techniques to better understand various environmental problems such as deforestation and climate change. He often includes undergraduate and graduate students as well as outside experts in his research. For his work in Ghana he teamed up with Salem State graduate students Madden Bremer and Peter Adortse as well as with Jessica Brown, executive director of the New England Biolabs Foundation.
Walking Boston’s North Shore Regina Robbins Flynn
or the past 10 years I have led groups of Salem State University students on spring-break trips to European capitals, programs that have been arranged and co-sponsored by the English and geography departments. As the years went by I noticed more and more that students didn’t read signage, never referenced a map, and easily climbed aboard tour buses without investigating how a city’s transportation system worked or determining the direction in which a train was traveling. In 2016, when students and I traveled to London, instead of utilizing London’s Underground, some of the students used Uber to go from one destination to the next. This seeming lack of curiosity about place troubled me as a teacher and educator. When we walk, we see what a place truly is about. We hear voices, see how people dress, note the color of houses, hear the birds in the trees. Our minds calm. Studies have shown that walking outside improves our short-term memory and reduces our stress levels as our brains release endorphins. Walking slows us down. Walking allows us to cherish the sunset, note on those magically clear days that the moon is still with us in the blue sky, that the crocuses’ spears have pierced the garden’s beds. Walking is the
easiest of exercises. We don’t need a lot of expensive equipment; a solid pair of sneakers will do, and we’re off. In the fall of 2015, a portion of my sabbatical was spent walking a long segment of the Camino de Santiago in Spain; I wanted to see if this type of travel experience was possible for my students. As a result, I was asked to design a summer graduate institute that reflected my time traversing the Iberian Peninsula. I titled the course “The Art of Walking.” The first day of class, the students and I started off by watching the movie “The Way”—a wonderful film about walking the entire length of the Camino de Santiago, and about how the nearly 500-mile pilgrimage transformed the lives of the four main characters. Despite the fact that during the summer institute the beach was our ultimate destination, each daily walk was different. We established walking/road rules; among them, there was to be no cell phone use and no earbuds. On our first day, just after 11 a.m., we embarked from Salem State’s campus, empowered by the film. If those people in “The Way” could walk 480 miles across Spain, we could walk from Salem to Marblehead. And we did. 25
Traveling along the bike path that begins on campus and then skirts Salem Harbor, I noted that the tide was dead low, revealing the harbor’s floor, the kayaks stranded on the grassy shoreline, the day markers resting on strategically placed rocks. We delighted in a group of young children collecting butterflies with small nets in a nearby open field filled with Queen Anne’s lace, goldenrod, and speedwell. Of course, there was one little boy who decided to net the head of a classmate, as both giggled and hunted the fragile insects that seemed to flutter away just in the nick of time. We strode past ponds and woods. Along the way we lost our two leaders, Marianne and Barry—so I asked Joe, our jogger and Boston Marathoner, who was in his 60s, to sprint ahead and signal them back to the trail. Leaving the trail, we made our way to the beach, ordered our lunch, and took over a series of five tables next to the restaurant; a few of us took a table closer to the water’s edge and enjoyed our cool drinks and lunches. I was surprised by the number of students who had never been to the beach in Marblehead, only a few miles from campus. Often in September, I tell my classes during those first hot weeks of classes where the closest beaches are, so that they can take advantage of our nearby shoreline.
The most nerve-wracking for me was the 3.6-mile stretch of road we used walking from Newburyport to Plum Island. For the long central stretch, as we passed the Joppa Flats and the small airport, there were no sidewalks, though there was a painted bike lane on each side of the roadway. Nonetheless, I urged the students constantly to stay inside the bikeway’s painted line. As a mother, teacher, and someone who in general tends to worry too much, I never take for granted that I am responsible for other people’s children, even if one of them was over 60. Although we always started off in a group, the faster striders were soon out in front. Walking is a strange thing—I can make myself walk faster if I’m rushing down the hall to get to a class, but I find it harder to slow down my walking. After the first day, I didn’t let the fast walkers get too far out in front, and I’d ask them to hold up under the shade of a tree so that everyone could catch up. This became the pattern, as I walked in third or fourth place, periodically turning around to see how we were all doing. Barry and Marianne seemed to always be in the lead, followed by Andrew; Missy and Ciara kept pace; Mike battled a head cold and many times walked by himself or with Joe; Rachel and Daniela had known
The trek back on the bike path had the afternoon hotter than the morning, the tide now filling the harbor. I noted that the students were quieter, the final climb uphill to campus seeming longer than our morning descent. I outlined the prompt for the next day’s writing assignment and we discussed the readings. They were not as talkative as they had been during the morning. Were they tired, or had they just spent the last five hours away from technology? Had their minds been calmed?
Boston’s North Shore is a beautiful place, full of beaches, headlands, landmarks, barrier islands, marshes, historic places, and lovely towns and small cities. In the weeks before the class began I told the students that we would be walking for at least four to five hours day, and that I would be providing them with a reading list. Each day we covered a minimum of six to eight miles along bike paths and sidewalks, parklands and city streets.
Boats in harbor in Marblehead, Mass. 26
each other from other classes; and Evie and Cathy stayed together along with the ever-wandering Joe. This became the pattern of our walking group.
The next day the students all spoke about how, to a person, they were all sleeping better. We approached Nahant, an island connected to the mainland by a long, narrow causeway and beach. We started at the beginning Every night, students had to write a three-page of the island and walked to the other end, where we were response to a prompt I’d give at the end of that day’s walk. met with the headlands of Henry Cabot Lodge Park. The second day (out of five) was one of our longest walks. The panoramic views of Boston’s Harbor Islands are We started at Salem State and then took a quiet tree-lined magnificent from there, and once again we were blessed street towards downtown Salem, cutting though ball fields with a bright, sunny day. Sailboats were gliding by, Graves and a community garden, where in the small plots we Light stood off in the distance, and brightly painted lobster noted how some city gardeners preferred flowers to the buoys bounced on white caps. The students’ questions homegrown goodness of vegetables. increased as we hiked back to where we had begun. After Salem was once home to the East India trade routes, and Well, that’s school for you —showing another three to four miles, some of the students opted to at Derby Wharf we noted the Custom House where Nathaniel what is possible, how you can stretch walk on the beach itself, their Hawthorne worked for a time; yourself, walk the extra mile, discover sneakers unlaced and flung over their shoulders, their feet it is where his most famous released from the confines of the amazing world right before you. novel, The Scarlet Letter, begins. shoes, toes squishing into the We then strode on towards soft sand. Salem Willows past Blaney Street, which leads to the wharf from which the Salem They noted one garden bordered by hand-painted, Ferry departs on its summertime runs into Boston’s Long heart-shaped stones. Some asked why flowers seem to Wharf. One resident of the street is an itinerant sculptor do so well by the ocean, and I explained how the marine who makes use of “metal finds” and fashions them into atmospheres kept the temperatures down and the air whimsical pieces of art. The students thought this was moist, which flowers love. They asked more questions. great, and as the owner through signage invited us into his They noted the different types of architecture, one student yard, we took advantage of his generosity and marveled querying, “Why would someone build a side-by-side at his playful creations. As would happen all week, the house?” Another student answered, “Maybe the guy had students were surprised at the fact that they never would two unmarried daughters.” have noted this artist’s work and his garden’s multitude Our final walk was from Newburyport—one of the last of hydrangeas had we not walked past it. communities on the Massachusetts coast before crossing On we walked to the Willows, where there are into New Hampshire. We walked from the city’s center to Plum Island, a round-trip distance of at least eight miles. beaches, small restaurants, and ice-cream stands. A class We started off early, as I knew the route afforded little in of young paddleboarders caught our attention as they the way of tree cover, but we were all good. One of the listened attentively to their instructor. The day was hot, students, Marianne, lived on Plum Island, and she happily but the Willows—situated on a peninsula of land jutting answered our many questions. On this day’s walk, one of out between Salem and Beverly harbors—was crisscrossed the students noted the hawk sitting on top of a light pole; by sea breezes while we ate our lunches, and today was our everyone stopped to watch as the majestic bird lifted itself day for ice cream. As our time in the Willows progressed, effortlessly into the sky. Joe noted a dark-brown meadow the students began to ask questions, such as, “What did mouse collecting pieces of dried grass for a house he was they call those double-hulled sailboats in the harbor?” creating in the marsh, and again we all stopped, fascinated The walk home took us through the center of the city by the little guy’s determination. and up busy and congested Lafayette Street, which seemed Suddenly they wanted to know the names of sea birds, hotter than normal. Or was it just the loss of serenity that the darting piping plovers. “Is that dark bird a vulture?” made it seem hotter? Back in Meier Hall, the early walkers had already collapsed into the chairs in the front lounge, and upon our arrival the rest of us did the same. We talked some about the variety of landscapes we had passed: industrial, the downtown areas affected by urban renewal, how Summit Avenue—though parallel to Lafayette Street—felt like a world away.
“No, a cormorant.” At the beach, they wanted a class photo that would show them together yet speak to the essence of the class, their walking, their discoveries. Missy suggested we stand in a circle and place one foot into the circle, and in the wet sand she wrote ENG 833, the course catalog number. The resulting photograph spoke to the camaraderie they 27
all had developed, the joy they had in completing something that wasn’t easy.
invasive overgrowth, its pastel paint peeling, falling victim to the corrosive sea air, out in the middle of the cattail marshlands. A lone gull, its brightyellow eyes and gray wings, perched on the apparatus that would open the Plum Island Bridge to boat traffic if need be, stopped us again.
About a third of the way back, we stopped for lunch at Bob Lobster on Plum Island.
Regina Robbins Flynn
In the film “The Way,” the four main characters—who have been walking together for days—stay at a The next morning posh hotel for one we were back in our night. Each of them classroom. They had has their own room the beginnings of their instead of sleeping long essays, which we dormitory-style in Students in the class each put a foot into a circle to symbolize that they were all in. critiqued and edited— an alburgue, or hostel, but all they wanted to which they had been doing for the weeks prior. Instead do was walk together, just one more time. Many of them of luxuriating in their single roominess, they cluster in were surprised that they had made it through the week. one of the rooms to enjoy a drink and some television. “I never thought I could do this,” many of them said. Well, At Bob Lobster, we ordered our food and then waited in that’s school for you—showing what is possible, how you an adjoining room for our meals. One of the students was can stretch yourself, walk the extra mile, discover the sitting outside, and I decided to join her. As I was leaving, amazing world right before you. I overheard some of the students say that they were going If you complete a certain distance on the Camino, at to eat inside, where it was certainly cooler. One by one we the end of your walk you can go to the Pilgrim Office joined each other outside. Although we could have spread and receive a “Compostella,” which is a certificate stating out, we sat as close to one another as we could. I was not that you have walked. The night before our final class, the only one who noted the similarity between the film I realized that the class needed such a certificate, and and the lot of us sitting together and talking; two students while not quite as lovely as the one I received in Santiago, noted it as well. Here we were, hot, tired, sweaty, some with its gold-leaf script, the one I gave them was fetching sunburned and sporting new crops of freckles since nonetheless. Monday, but closer together at the week’s end. I want to tell them again that walking is good for your In many of my classes, one of my assignments is for brain. It slows down aging, releases dopamine, boosts students to take a walk for an hour without their cell the hippocampus—crucial to memory—but right at that phones. I tell them I don’t want them walking in the minute as the class ended, I was just happy that they all middle of the night, or even after dark. If possible, I say, were enthralled, surprised, captivated, and charmed with I ask that they go alone; if they have a dog, they may this great beautiful world that we live in and with each take the dog. The purpose is to have them unplug from other, that they discovered by the simple act of walking. the world, to slow down their thinking process, to have them notice the world around them instead of incessantly You can’t do this from a tour bus. checking Facebook updates, Instagram accounts, or Snapchat messages. Sometimes students who are runners Regina Robbins Flynn’s interests include the teaching of writing, especially start off walking and then start running, and in the papers creative non-fiction, travel writing, and that they write, their level of description plummets.
We laughed and chatted the rest of the way home, noting a snowy egret surrounded by deep-green marsh grasses. They all stopped. Silence. Over and over the students had begun to witness the world around them. We had all marveled at the meadow mouse, the terns, the flowers, an abandoned house painted pink, surrounded by
poetry. Her work experience prior to Salem State University included public relations and business, and for eight years she was a member of the city council in Salem. She coordinates the professional writing program in the Salem State University English department.
Microbiology: The CURE for What Ails You Bringing the Microbiology Curriculum into the TwentyFirst Century and Offering an Authentic STEM Research Experience to Undergraduates at Salem State University
Amy B. Sprenkle
Scanning electron micrograph of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the Actinobacteria host that launched the SEA-PHAGES project. 29
ost people know the Salem State biology department for its marine biology offerings supported by the research at Cat Cove Marine Laboratory, or for the introductory biology and anatomy and physiology classes that support so many programs on campus. The microbiology courses at Salem State have evolved from being upper-level biology electives and support courses required for many training programs— such as nursing—to becoming courses that teach students valuable technical skills that prepare them to work in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, and/or medical laboratory fields. Jobs in those fields are abundant in the Boston area, also known as Genetown,1 a Life Sciences cluster where hospitals, universities, and biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and medical device companies collaborate in a thriving environment to advance biomedical science and human health care.
lenses in the late 1600s.5 These organisms include bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella, that are the culprits of many food recalls and disease outbreaks. These organisms can be the viruses of an annual scourge such as influenza; new epidemics such as Zika or Ebola; or sexually transmitted infections such as human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cancer, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which first became a pandemic in the early 1980s and which evolved from being a death sentence to being a manageable, preventable infection. Protozoans such as the malaria parasite are also microbes, this time transmitted by mosquitos. Still more types of microbes include yeasts and fungi that can be agents of disease but that have relatives critical for decomposition and important for fermented foods and beverages such as wine, beer, cheese, yogurt, and bread. Besides mosquitos, small creatures such as worms and ticks are studied in microbiology for the impact they can have on The Course-Based Undergraduate human health, both positive Research Experience (CURE) is an effort and negative.
The biology department is launching a revised curriculum in Fall 2019 informed by recent work to involve undergrads at their earliest in improving student What many people outcomes in undergraduate training level with an international group of fail to appreciate is the biology. The driving force beneficial aspect microbes for this change nationwide scientists who are gathering, analyzing, and have on our health and the is the American Association integral part they play in communicating their research in biology. for the Advancement of our environment. Microbes Science’s “Vision and Change are ubiquitous—present in Undergraduate Biology in all places at all times. Education” initiative,2 along with offshoots that include the Microbes can be found living at the bottom of the ocean, Association of American College & University’s Project in caves and layers of rock miles below the surface of Kaleidoscope (PKAL) and the Partnership in Undergraduate the Earth, on glaciers, and on the slopes of volcanoes. 3 Life Science Education (PULSE) community. These They were the first living organisms on Earth nearly four projects, described by PKAL, all hope to “empower billion years ago, and they have been present and driving STEM faculty, including those from underrepresented the evolution of all life on Earth ever since. Microbes groups, to graduate more students in STEM fields who are critical for nutrient cycling and decomposition; they are competitively trained and liberally educated.4 There represent the bulk of the diversity of living organisms on is a general effort to pivot from lecture-based expert Earth. In lectures, I posit that if an extraterrestrial came content model teaching to more active learning techniques, to Earth with the job of cataloging all of the different life flipped classrooms, and scaffolding of research and inquiry forms here, the vast majority of names on the list would be into the four-year curriculum plan. The Course-Based microbial, with humans being a minor member of the list Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) is an effort and a recent addition to the evolutionary timeline. to involve undergrads at their earliest training level with Forget your preconception that all microbes are an international group of scientists who are gathering, pathogens, or that microbes make you sick. I ask my analyzing, and communicating their research in biology. My students to think of themselves not as germaphobes professional society, the American Society for Microbiology but as superorganisms. The term “superorganism” was (ASM), also has an excellent education and outreach arm, first coined by a geologist in reference to the Earth’s through which I discovered these microbiology CUREs that 6 Naturalists and ecologists use it to geophysiology. are now implemented at Salem State. describe the Earth and its biosphere as one organism or the hive behavior of ants and bees, while sociologists and Ask most people what a microbe is, and they might say cyberneticists use the term to describe emergent system that microbes are “germs” that make you sick. Microbiology, behaviors in groups. In the microbial world, the study of the study of living organisms too small to be seen with the human microbiome, or the complement of microbes the unaided eye, encompasses the analysis of a myriad of living on all the body’s external and internal surfaces, different types of “animalcules” first observed with simple 30
has led to the idea of the human and its resident microbes as a superorganism.
How Microbiomes Affect Health
nother focus of the HMP beyond identifying the Yes, bacteria and viruses, fungi and protozoans are microbes in the microbiome is to understand how living on your skin and mucosal surfaces as you read this. the microbiome functions in human health and This should clue you in to the fact that we are not alone. disease. We are learning a great deal about how our The search for life on other planets, or exobiology, looks own immune system has evolved to interact with the for the presence of liquid water, which will undoubtedly microbiome, especially in the gut. Disorders such as serve as the appropriate environment Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, for extraterrestrial microbial life. Even and celiac disease have a genetic and a though you can’t see microbes, they I’m so passionate about microbiome component that need to be are there, and they are critical for the understood in order to manage and cure the microbiome that I health of our bodies and our Earth. If the disease. Even “lifestyle” diseases you count every cell in your body, then wrote a haiku about it that that do not have a specific microbial count all the microbes living on you, cardiovascular I use in teaching my course. trigger—diabetes, the microbes outnumber the human disease, arthritis, cancer, and even cells. Estimates range from 3:1 to developmental disorders—may have 10:1 microbial to human cells. I’m so a microbiome component. passionate about the microbiome that The human genome, which was completely I wrote a haiku a few years back that sequenced at the beginning of the twentyI use in teaching my course: first century, is made up of DNA that My microbes clothe me. is about three billion base pairs in I superorganism! length. The human genome is Like a glazed doughnut. thought to code for about 25,000 genes, or structural units that The first two lines have make something that the body already been explained; the needs to function or that control last is due to the anatomy of the turning on and turning off the human. We have a hole in of genes. The number of genes the middle like a doughnut! It that are contributed by the starts at the mouth and ends at microbiome are estimated to be the rectum, and all my surfaces about 350 times that of the human, are covered with the glaze of my for a whopping total of nine million microbiome. genes. The study of these genes and g The Human Microbiome Project7 genomes is known as genomics and (HMP) was a large governmentis the modern way to analyze funded program that began The Human Microbiome Project logo, resembling Leonardo’s Vitruvian heredity. Many people are after the Human Genome Man but encircled by a graphic representation of a bacterial genome. fascinated with learning about Project concluded. Once their ancestry and what it will tell them about their the human genome was sequenced, the technology that origins and health. Personalized medicine and new was developed had made sequencing fast and cheap, and cancer immunotherapy approaches also use genomics as a scientists turned to leverage those tools to sequence foundation for revolutionary new treatments being offered. the human microbiome. From this new DNA data, it is estimated that around 10,000 different microbial Evolution and heredity are not so clearly vertical—that species make up the human microbiome. This estimate is, parent to child—in the microbial world. Horizontal will vary from person to person and within individuals gene transfer (HGT), or the movement of genes among based on their diet, environment, age, and health status. unrelated organisms, is an ancient and important driver Each microbiome species will have its own niche with a of the evolution of life on Earth. The vertebrate immune metabolism that contributes to a thriving community in system itself is thought to have evolved by HGT, with the human ecosystem and that, in turn, benefits the host, a viral or jumping gene giving us the ability to make contributing to our survival. The data coming out of the antibodies, the proteins that protect us from future HMP suggests that our microbes play an important role infections with the same microbe. One mechanism of outside our own genetics and physiology in maintaining HGT is via viruses infecting, but not killing, the cell. The our wellness, causing illness, and maybe even affecting big news in molecular biology is CRISPR and its potential our behavior and mental health. for gene editing, even to the level of the human embryo. 31
CRISPR is an acronym for parts of the leftover virus genes in a bacterial genome: “Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats.” It turns out that bacteria have evolved a kind of intracellular immune system to protect their descendants from invading DNA in the form of viruses called phages in the bacterial world. The bacteria use a protein called Cas9 that does the cutting and pasting of the DNA that has been utilized to do gene editing; scientists and biotechnology companies are racing to see who can produce the most reliable tools for doing so. If indeed we succeed in editing the human genome in this way, it would be the most decisive intervention of vertical evolution and heredity. The ethical implications are another discussion altogether, but one that scientists tried to explore in the First International Summit on Human Genome Editing8 in 2015; the second summit was held in November 2018.
that only a few new classes of antibiotics have been created since the 1970s. In fact, most pharmaceutical companies have abandoned the search for new antibiotics as a result of dwindling profit margins and long timelines for FDA approval.
UMBC Imaging Facility
Amy B. Sprenkle
These areas of microbiology research—microbiome, gene editing, cancer immunotherapy, personalized medicine, and drug discovery—are exciting but also extremely competitive and expensive. With increasing pressure to expose undergraduate students to current research in this rapidly changing field and to ensure the acquisition of workforce readiness and skills in biotechnology and biomedicine, faculty working at Salem State in less-than-ideal spaces with no grant funding or startup funds could not hope to compete in this arena. Earning a PhD in the STEM subjects—Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics—trained me to do academic research, not to teach. I Microbiologists do spend a lot of time on am at Salem State because I am passionate pathogens, those microbes that make you about teaching others about, and including sick. Many students are very interested in them in, the thrill of discovery that is learning about microbiology to inform their scientific research. However, the only career in health care or medicine. One accessible way to continue to contribute to of the biggest problems facing medicine these efforts, without spending all of one’s today is antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics time writing grants instead of teaching, are compounds used therapeutically to is to join a larger collaborative targeted at control the growth of microbes. Many of including students in an authentic research the most commonly prescribed antibiotics experience that collects data that will were discovered from “dirt” and are large, Phage discovery host bacteria: potentially be used to address real-world complicated molecules that can’t be easily Microbacterium foliorum. problems. Enter the “CURE.” synthesized in the organic chemistry lab— so we rely on microbes to manufacture them for us. Soil microbes produce two Two CURE Pilot Programs key antibiotics, penicillin and vancomycin. uring the 2018-19 academic year I Both are intended to enhance the microbe’s piloted the first of two CUREs ability to compete for resources in its that leverage the low-cost, environment, essentially releasing a toxin short-life-span, and accessible genomes to inhibit the growth of any neighbors. and metabolism of microbes to train undergraduates with the twenty-firstPenicillin was discovered in the early century skills to study broadly applicable 1900s and scaled up to be manufactured and current topics in biology and medicine for widespread human therapeutic use Transmission electron micrograph of that will address real-world problems. after World War II, but it didn’t take phage discovered by Amy B. Sprenkle at the Phage Discovery Workshop at UMBC. One lab section of BIO 131 and BIO 132 long for pathogens to evolve resistance was dedicated to SEA-PHAGES.11 SEA, to the drugs. It turns out that horizontal or Science Education Alliance, is not a gene transfer is a key way that rapidly reference to the fascinating oceans of allows pathogens to develop antibiotic Earth but rather a program managed by resistance. There is a diminishing supply the Howard Hughes Medical Institute of antibiotics to treat the increasing (HHMI) that provides training, curricula, number of antibiotic-resistant bacterial assessment, and a collaboration arena infections. This critical worldwide health designed to support an authentic research crisis (addressed by the World Health 9 experience for the freshman biology Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention10) is extremely student. The PHAGES acronym stands for concerning, given that our current arsenal Phage creating holes or “plaques” in a Phage Hunters Advancing Genomic and of antibiotics is becoming less effective and layer of M. foliorum. Evolutionary Science. 32
Artistâ€™s rendering of a DNA double helix.
comparison with existing genomes. Comparison of Phage Hunters describes the activity of the first genomes is currently the foundation of the understanding semester of the course, where students find an ecosystem of evolutionary relationships among all organisms on of their choice from which to take a soil sample. That Earth and can reveal the presence of horizontal gene sample is then used to infect a defined, non-pathogenic transfer, or HGT. We are studying the phage genome, strain of bacteria to hunt for the presence of viruses one of the agents of HGT, but as an extension of their (phages) that will kill the bacteria. Students will develop research students may seek out evolutionary relationships the basic skills of working in a biology laboratory with with other cellular organisms. The annotation process bacteria and phages, along with the important concepts will provide a deep understanding of the central of the scientific method and scientific record-keeping, dogma of biology: that genes hypothesis-testing, and (DNA) are transcribed into communication of results. Any phage that is found in the hunt At my first visit to the SEA-PHAGES message (mRNA), which is then translated into protein. is preliminarily characterized symposium, I was amazed at the Annotation looks at the DNA with regard to host specificity, sequence of the phage using imaging by transmission electron quality of the presentations and well-established rules for microscopy (TEM), and broad DNA structure. maturity of the students presenting. finding the signals that the virus uses to make mRNA and Unique phages found by proteins in the bacteria. the students are then sent The really interesting thing about the annotation out for DNA sequencing of their entire genome. DNA process is how almost half of the possible genes identified sequencing is provided at no cost by the lab of the have as yet no known function. This very simple principal investigator of the SEA-PHAGES program: Dr. microbe, the bacteriophage, is essentially a genetic Graham Hatfull, HHMI Investigator at the University of payload (good band name!) inside a protein shell, and Pittsburgh. Hatfullâ€™s lab also manages the archiving and although we understand how it uses its genome to storage of the phages sequenced. make the physical shell, we do not understand how it The second semester of the course takes the DNA uses its genes to take over the synthetic machinery of sequence data from the discovered phages and uses the host cell. The annotated genomes are submitted bioinformatics techniques to analyze and annotate the to GENBank,13 and students are authors on those genome. The students will use software provided by submissions, as well as any publications that result the SEA through phagesdb.org12 to look at the genome from those submissions. Yes, freshman authors are in for the proteins and regulatory elements present by publications! 33
The third part of this CURE is the communication and collaboration portion. Students compete to attend the SEA-PHAGES Symposium, which is held on the Januvia Campus of HHMI in Maryland every June. HHMI pays for the travel and accommodation of the one or two students and one faculty member chosen to attend, and the data are presented alongside the international assembly of other schools participating in the program. At my first visit to the SEA-PHAGES Symposium in June 2018, I was amazed at the quality of the presentations and maturity of the students presenting. Our Salem State participating students will self-select into the SEA-PHAGES lab section of the course and will attend the regular lecture section of BIO 131 or BIO 132. Yes, the successful students in this scenario will have to work a little harder than their peers in the rest of the class, but the experience should be extremely valuable to them from their freshman year on, and research has shown that students who engage in authentic research experiences are more likely to pursue STEM fields.
search for antibiotic producers from soil at the center of learning about the central concepts of traditional microbiology and the methods and tools of the laboratory. It also brings the twenty-first-century molecular technique of using Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) for molecular identification of the antibiotic-producing bacteria. The addition of Tiny Earth to the nursing microbiology curriculum helps emphasize the importance of understanding antibiotic resistance and familiarizes nursing students with the pathogens most problematic in demonstrating antibiotic resistance.14 The course content will continue to emphasize aseptic technique and knowledge of pathogens, the immune response, and microbial growth control, while adding the research experience and updated research and ID techniques in the lab. No, nurses will not need to perform microbial IDs in the clinical setting, but they are important members of an infection-control team and participate in careful collection of patient data and nursing research. For all those roles, the aspiring nurse will benefit from the Tiny Earth program. In the future, Tiny Earth will be offered in BIO 304: Microbiology and Its Applications. Under the new biology curriculum changes, we are opening our microbiology offering not just to nursing students and biology majors, but to all students with one semester of biology and one semester of chemistry.
Laboratories are the ultimate in active-learning environments, and presenting one’s research is the ultimate expression of one’s understanding of data gathered. In reflecting on my own undergraduate career, most of what I remember I learned by doing in the lab. Practice and repetition facilitate mastery, and in these two CUREs, students feel a sense of ownership of their discoveries The second CURE I am because the soil is from their local There is a diminishing supply introducing to Salem State in 2018environment. They also feel a 19 is called Tiny Earth: Studentof antibiotics to treat the sense of belonging in the greater Sourcing Antibiotic Discovery. community since, in increasing number of antibiotic- scientific In our microbiology classes, addition to receiving a course grade, microbiology students—along students may choose to either resistant bacterial infections. with students from more than 200 present their data at the Salem participating schools across 44 State Undergraduate Research states, Puerto Rico, and 14 countries—will be a part of Symposium or travel to the SEA-PHAGES or Tiny the crowdsourcing effort established by the University of Earth National Symposia. My predecessor, Dr. Alfred Wisconsin-based Tiny Earth Network. The students will Borgatti—in whose honor Salem State’s microbiology gain hands-on research experience in the course to address laboratory is named—established a scholarship to allow the worldwide health crisis of antibiotic-resistant bacterial support of student research and travel to conferences. infections by harnessing the collective power of student Both CUREs have pedagogy and assessment in place researchers across the globe to discover new antibiotics to support both early-career undergraduate students and from soil microorganisms. the instructors of the courses. Support includes Open As with the SEA-PHAGES program, I attended a Educational Resources (OER) in the form of thoroughlysummer 2018 workshop to train in the pedagogy offered vetted, free, online curriculum materials or low-cost by Tiny Earth. Tiny Earth is a one-semester program that lab manuals used in combination with OpenStax texts. supplements the microbiology curriculum by placing the SEA-PHAGES has been running for more than 10 years, 34
and the program’s success can be seen in publications on pedagogy15 as well as assessment.16 Tiny Earth is a younger program but is rapidly adding colleges and even high schools as partners in antibiotic discovery. Future plans include adding a second semester of chemistry CURE, which further analyzes any potential antibiotic found in the first microbiology semester, as well a collaboration with the Department of Energy Joint Genome Initiative17 for genome sequencing, as well as archiving of the microbial strain and in-depth analysis of the metabolic pathway that produces the novel antibiotic.
Microbiology is the study of life too small to be seen with the unaided eye— but the tools of STEM allow us to see and study the beauty and importance of microbes while also learning about how our own cells and bodies evolve and persist on this Earth.
1. https://www.biospace.com/genetown/ accessed August 2018. 2. American Association for the Advancement of Science Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education http:// visionandchange.org/ accessed August 2018. 3. Partnership in Undergraduate Life Sciences Education http:// www.pulse-community.org/ accessed August 2018. 4. Project Kaleidoscope https://www.aacu.org/pkal accessed August 2018. 5. Antonie van Leeuwanhoek (1632-1723) was credited with observing the first bacteria and named them “animacules.” 6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superorganism accessed August 2018. 7. NIH Human Microbiome Project https://www.hmpdacc.org/ hmp/overview/ accessed August 2018. 8. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Human Gene Editing Summit http://www.nationalacademies.org accessed August 2018. 9. World Health Organization http://www.who.int/news-room/ fact-sheets/detail/antibiotic-resistance accessed August 2018. 10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc. gov/drugresistance/index.html accessed August 2018. 11. SEA-PHAGES http://seaphages.org accessed August 2018. 12. The Actinophage Database at phagesdb.org accessed August 2018. 13. GenBank ® is the NIH genetic sequence database https://www. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/genbank/ accessed August 2018 14. https://tinyearth.wise.edu/ Putative antibiotic producers will be tested against the ESKAPE pathogen safe relatives. The ESKAPE pathogens that the students will study are Enterobacteriaceae, Salmonella, Klebsiella, Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas, and Enterococci. 15. Jordan TC, Burnett SH, Carson S, Caruso SM, Clase K, DeJong RJ, Dennehy JJ, Denver DR, Dunbar D, Elgin SCR, Findley AM, Gissendanner CR, Golebiewska UP, Guild N, Hartzog GA, Grillo WH, Hollowell GP, Hughes LE, Johnson A, King RA, Lewis LO, Li W, Rosenzweig F, Rubin MR, Saha MS, Sandoz J, Shaffer CD, Taylor B, Temple L, Vazquez E, Ware VC, Barker LP, Bradley KW, Jacobs-Sera D, Pope WH, Russell DA, Cresawn SG, Lopatto D, Bailey CP, Hatfull GF. 2014. A broadly implementable research course in phage discovery and genomics for ﬁrst-year undergraduate students. mBio 5(1):e01051-13. doi:10.1128/ mBio.01051-13. 16. Hanauer, D. I., Graham, M. J., & Hatfull, G. F. (2016). A Measure of College Student Persistence in the Sciences (PITS). CBE Life Sciences Education, 15(4), ar54. http://doi. org/10.1187/cbe.15-09-0185. 17. Joint Genome Initiative https://jgi.doe.gov/user-program-info/ community-science-program/ accessed August 2018.
Biology is the study of life. Microbiology is the study of life too small to be seen with the unaided eye—but the tools of STEM allow us to see and study the beauty and importance of microbes while also learning about how our own cells and bodies evolve and persist on this Earth. Microbiology as a twenty-first-century discipline encompasses many aspects—ecology, evolution, genetics, cell biology, molecular biology, biochemistry, immunology, physiology, and metabolism—and these are just the content areas. By offering the CURE of SEAPHAGES and Tiny Earth, I am delivering the experiential, hands-on learning in the lab and the identity with a larger scientific community that is collecting and curating data that will mean something important, not just take you through the cookbook protocols of the past. Add critical thinking, careful record-keeping, and writing and communication skills, and these CUREs will serve to launch my students in any science or health care field they desire—not as germaphobes but as superorganisms!
Danielle Heller, HHMI
These logos show the sponsoring institutions for the CUREs.
Amy B. Sprenkle, PhD, biology, CAS, has taught microbiology to biology majors and nurses at Salem State University since 2003. Her core philosophy of “less is more, small is beautiful” is woven through all of her courses: microbiology, biotechnology, “Microbes and the Immune System” (GenEd SR), and a new bioinformatics course as part of the SEA-PHAGES CURE.
North by Northwest Redux Regina Robbins Flynn
We spent the day checking Amtrak, making sure that our train would indeed leave the next day. The entire Eastern Seaboard had been impacted by windswept snow, from the Carolinas to the Canadian Maritimes. I could watch weather reports during a storm, all day long—I never tire of the reporters standing in Scituate Harbor or in Copley Square—but Paul and I kept shoveling the driveway and the deck, as we would be gone for a week, and we didn’t know what other unpredictable weather would come our way in our absence. Long after we went to bed, the winds finally abated.
Railroad tracks converging.
Our plan was to travel by train across the United States, leaving from Boston’s South Station on the Viewliner—also known as the Lake Shore Limited— with a change of trains in Chicago. There, we would board The Empire Builder—which I thought was just the most wonderful name for a train—that traversed the upper United States, crossing through Illinois, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming, and for us on into Washington and Seattle. 36
As we pulled out of South Station, the previous day’s snowfall made everything sparkle. The snow, still bright and fluffy, whirlpooled past our windows, where we had reserved a “roomette” that included two comfortable seats, pillows, and shelving; a small table was retractable and the seats became a bed. When we told friends of our plans (and I have to admit it was Paul’s idea) everyone wanted to know what our trip was like when we returned, with the exception of my friend Holly. She commutes daily into Boston on the MBTA, and for her, the thought of spending three nights and four days on a train did not excite her in the least. For me it was all very North by Northwest—the famous Hitchcock movie with the beautiful Eva Marie Saint and the eternally dreamy Cary Grant, a trip I had always imagined. Tamara528/Getty
he day before we left, it snowed. A lot.
The skies were blue and belied the 11-degree temps as we pulled into Springfield, Mass., where the windwhipped snow cascaded over the tracks like river water over rocks. We passed turn-of-the-century train stations covered in snow, stations that reminded me of Varykino, the Ural retreat in the film Dr. Zhivago. Shoulders of snow
were poised to fall from the roofs, but with the unusually cold temps they probably wouldn’t drop for days. I loved sleeping on the train. The ride was smooth. The dark expanses beyond our windows that we could not see hid frozen farm fields, forests, and small towns where the train would sound its lonely-sounding horn as we approached at-grade crossings in the middle of the night, the red warning lights at intersections blinking back and forth.
farms, the houses usually surrounded by a stand of trees, to allow for shade during the long, hot Ohio summers and respite from wind in winter. Tall silver silos with grain elevators stood like mini-skyscrapers against blue skies, but as we came closer to Illinois, the cars in the driveways we passed were still covered late in the day by a fresh, thick layer of snow that laced trees and underbrush and frosted the cattails.
Regina Robbins Flynn
We changed trains in Chicago and boarded The As we left Sandusky, Ohio, I loved sleeping on the train. The Empire Builder, a “superliner.” and headed toward Toledo, It was a majestic double-decker ride was smooth. The dark expanses we noted that Lake Erie was a train, where after stowing frozen white meadow—no river our bags below we climbed to beyond our windows that we could traffic on that frigid morning. the top “floor” and found our Leafless trees and marsh grasses not see hid frozen farm fields, forests, roomette, similar to the one straddled the tracks. We passed on the Viewliner, but with and small towns where the train church steeples, track houses, the facing seats seeming to Christmas lights still twined would sound its lonely-sounding horn. be wider. Evening had fallen, around porches and front-yard and our views were gone shrubs. A fox gamboled out of from us with the exception of a field through deep snow. We crossed granite and thick homes with the warmth of lighted kitchens, small stores, iron-railroad bridges, which spanned the channels of the and snow-covered streets lit by street lamps that then Erie. We shared the tracks with freight trains, which disappeared into the night’s darkness. seem to come at us from opposite directions with a fury Sleeping on the train is a return to the cradle—the and with such surprise that we both jumped back in our gentle rocking of the car and the lonesome sounding of facing seats. the horn as we booked We read, drank it past fields and small bottled water, dayindustrial-farm sites. dreamed out the We fell asleep within window, read some minutes. more, talked, joked In the waning with one another, and moonlight, I could noted the blue of the make out the outline sky and the incredible of stationary freight flatness of Ohio. cars on sidings. On our first We woke up the morning, we had to next morning in travel through 10 cars North Dakota, having to the dining car. We traveled through are early risers, so many Wisconsin and in the train’s coach Minnesota against the seats were still asleep. still-snowy landscapes. Children slept on their View from the Dome Car, somewhere outside of Wolf Point, Mont. The sunrise, which mothers’ shoulders; occurred at around 8 a.m., pinked the farmhouses. others splayed out in chairs, resembling starfish. At each The grey silos were a faint rose color, the snow was coupling of the cars, the space was filled with snow and tinged a light coral, the low-lying grasses glowed sienna. the icy slush from the previous day’s storm, and our The ground here was flat, and there were no marsh breath became suspended in a cloud before us. cattails, which seemed to fill the gullies and swales from On this portion of the journey Amtrak leases the Massachusetts to what I saw of Illinois before sunset. tracks from the freight lines, so because we were off schedule, we had to stop and allow the freight trains to Another quiet day spent reading and taking have the right of way. We continued to pass countless photographs, we noted the 20-somethings in the dome 37
You share your meals with strangers, but fellow riders introduce themselves; we talk, we laugh, we share the story of why we are on the train. Some have tired of air travel, the uncomfortable seating, the high prices, the security lines. You could fly from Boston to California once a month for years and never witness how Michigan aligns itself to Minnesota, which then 38
braces for North Dakota, which opens up into the big sky country of Montana—how there are parts of each that are so similar, especially during winter, especially now that snow seems to cover everything, how the houses are the same, the neighborhoods of streets needing a plow. In North Dakota we could see lone small clusters of oil drills from our windows. Our three days of travel were quiet—a respite from all our running around during the holidays. We’re in socks, we’ll go to dinner in a few minutes, accompanied by the nowlit street lamps of the world outside the train.
car staring at their phones instead of the scenery of mesas, farms, herds of black cattle and sheep, and deer in the distance. The ever-changing morning light saturated the winter landscape, lengthening the shadows, igniting colors in the harvested wheat fields. People say that winter lacks color, but I disagree: There are silvers and golds, the momentary smoky coral sky hanging over small pockets of rural poverty on the open plains.
Passenger train at a station stop at night.
Our final morning on the train found us crossing into Washington and the Cascade Mountains. The mountainsides had been graced with another thick
South Fork of Skykomish River, Wash.
snowfall, my photographs resembling a series of black and whites; the dark green pines, with a full freight of snow on each bough, giving way to small, unfrozen streams and remote farms, carved out of the forests. Between Icicle Canyon and Skyomish we passed through the 7.79-mile Cascade Tunnel, and when we emerged, the scenery had completely changed. The ground was thick with ferns and Ponderosa pines, the landscape snowless, with the exception of the snowcapped Cascade Mountains in the distance. We rode past cedars and Douglas firs, the ground cover a deep reddish-brown, the bare branches of some trees enveloped in a brilliant green moss. We had repacked our small suitcases as we neared Edmonds, the final stop before Seattle, and again were mesmerized at the transformed landscape before us. The Pacific Northwest reminded me of the coastline of Maine, with raw, rugged, thick spruces clinging to sheer cliffs that dropped into the Pacific.
On our final night in Seattle before we flew home to Boston, I lay awake in our room at an inn located in the Queen Anne Hill section of the city. From far off in the distance I could hear a train horn, the pattern of repeated blasts similar to the ones issued at the grade crossings that we encountered as we traversed the United States. The sound was delicate, exquisite, utterly intoxicating—like a movie theme you cannot forget.
One of the things Paul and I realized is that this trip was about the journey. As we were told of delays here and there, we didn’t much care—there was food and scenery, each other, and the many people we will never meet again: Everet, the retired music teacher; Jim, an aviation
repairman; Christina, who was visiting her grandchildren; Rubin, an engineer returning home after a long assignment in Worcester, Mass., who couldn’t get out of Logan for two days because of the storm and who decided to train home to Seattle; and his son, a former football star at Clemson, who after graduation played for the Giants.
Regina Robbins Flynn’s interests include the teaching of writing, especially creative non-fiction, travel writing, and poetry. Her work experience prior to Salem State University included public relations and business, and for eight years she was a member of the city council in Salem. She coordinates the professional writing program in the Salem State University English department.
Geographies of Loss: Testimony, Art, and the Afterlife of Batajnica’s Disappeared Objects
© Vladimir Miladinović
Stephenie A. Young
“Batajnica 2001, Archeological Excavation Report,” 45 x 56 cm, ink-wash on paper, 2015. 40
The fact of the matter is that although this is a crime scene, few people actually care or want to know what has happened here. — Jason De Léon
t first glance, the 20-minute drive from the Nikola potential bombings in the attempt to stop the Kosovo war Tesla airport into Belgrade, the cosmopolitan and the ethnic cleansing of Kosovar Albanians,2 Serbian capital of Serbia, seems typical. The fields authorities decided to quickly move the bodies from mass and buildings you pass on your way into the city are graves in Kosovo to several different areas near Belgrade. no different than those you find near other airports in In June 2001, the largest mass grave of approximately 800 the region. So, when you catch sight of an exit on the to 1,000 bodies and their personal objects was discovered highway that reads “Batajnica,” there is no reason to give on the training grounds of special anti-terrorist units it any more thought than any other exit. As you enter of the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs in the town the city limits, Belgrade carries on with its daily tasks. of Batajnica, a suburb of Belgrade just 20 kilometers Locals are walking in the from the city center.3 The streets on a cold November International Criminal morning, smoking in the Tribunal for the former During this struggle, in 1998, hundreds cafes, catching up with Yugoslavia (ICTY) was called their friends. There are of Kosovars were murdered and thrown in to identify the bodies and clear signs of post-socialist to record what was found into mass graves in the region. A year capitalism everywhere as with them in the graves. In the main shopping street, later, fearful of NATO threats of potential addition, several officials Knez Mihailova, is filled from the Serbian police bombings in the attempt to stop the with Western brands. The were sent to The Hague American “Black Friday” is for trial. In 2011, a former Kosovo war and the ethnic cleansing of advertised in several window Serbian colonel general shops. Belgrade is a place named Vlastimir Dordevic´ Kosovar Albanians, Serbian authorities looking toward the future was sentenced to 27 years rather than the past. A first- decided to quickly move the bodies in prison for crimes against time visitor might never find from mass graves in Kosovo to several humanity and war crimes out, need never know, about committed against civilians different areas near Belgrade. the crime scene that lies of Albanian nationality in fallow between the airport Kosovo. The Batajnica case and the city center. was closed, and the military grounds where the graves were discovered became nearly impossible to access.
What Happened in Batajnica
et what lies between the airport and downtown Belgrade is a suburb called Batajnica which, in the end, may be one of the most interesting sites to explore. It is “a lively little town/village in Serbia,” as described by one YouTube video.1 However, Batajnica is also the location of a hideous crime scene that has been the subject of dispute, mystery, and shame in Serbia for nearly 20 years. As the millennium wound down and Yugoslavia had mostly been divided into many smaller countries, Serbia still fought to maintain control over the small territory of Kosovo. During this struggle, in 1998, hundreds of Kosovars were murdered and thrown into mass graves in the region. A year later, fearful of NATO threats of
With the conclusion of the trial in 2011, the violent events were erased from public discourse in Serbia. The lack of conversation has allowed the public to ignore them, and later forget about them completely. In this brief essay, I discuss how artist Vladimir Miladinovic´’s art intervenes in the attempted public erasure of these, and other, war crimes. His work is an attempt to counter a discourse typical of contemporary transitional ideologies that prefer to close the door on the past rather than encourage reflection on it. “Few people today can recount the specific details of what happened in Batajnica,” the artist confirms.4 By providing an afterlife to a series of lost items from the mass graves of Batajnica, his project Free Objects offers, as I will argue, an unconventional yet effective testimony. 41
Free Objects, Exhibition view “RESOLUTION 827,” Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam, 2015.
Miladinovic´ probes the ways in which media and institutions in postYugoslav societies create public space and shape collective memory; he opens the questions of war propaganda, manipulation, historical responsibility and intellectual engagement.
© Vladimir Miladinović
erbian artist Miladinovic´ has been working for nearly a decade on the topic of war and post-war trauma, using archives about the 1990s war in former Yugoslavia. Art historian and theoretician Nikola Dedic´ characterizes him as follows:
Free Objects, 1 of Series of 11 drawings, 56 x 76 cm each, ink-wash on paper, 2016.
As an artist, he has delved into extremely controversial subjects about his homeland, subjects that most people in the region would rather ignore or forget.
Miladinovic´’s most well-known project to date is called Rendered History. In this work, he uses a tracing technique to redraw numerous documents, including newspapers in different languages (Serbian, English, German, and Spanish) that focus on key dates and events of the wars that he believes have suffered from “the denial and erasure of war crimes within the current transition ideologies.” The research for this greater project eventually led him to look specifically into war crimes that occurred in Kosovo in 1998-99. When consulting the ICTY archive in Belgrade 42
a few years ago, Miladinovic´ discovered an official list of 410 objects that were found in the mass graves on the Batajnica 2 site during exhumation between June 2001 and November 2002. Miladinovic´ explains on his blogsite that the list was created by the faculty of medicine at the University of Belgrade in September 2001: [H]undreds of items were listed as having been found on bodies or in their immediate vicinity. These were mostly small personal items, but the list also contains body parts and missiles of different calibers. After the forensic examination, all items were listed and the final document was stored in an archive.5
here that the items have most likely been given away or sold in local markets. No one knows for sure. The question then remains how to witness an event—how to create a testimony—if that event is not only silenced in the public debate, but its material traces are wiped out. In this context of absence, can art (re-) create a discourse and an (art) object that somehow testify to the traumatic event?
Art as Testimony
© Vladimir Miladinović
Free Objects, 11 of Series of 11 drawings, 56 x 76 cm each, ink-wash on paper, 2016.
he bodies were found, identified, and returned to the families, but the catalogued objects have disappeared and only survive in the form of a bureaucratic list kept in the ICTY archive. They have become mere effects that, in the aftermath of the violence, exist only in their absence. In his struggle against obliteration, Miladinovic´ copied the 11-page list, creating a series called Free Objects, after the official name of the original document. The artwork, he claims on his blogspot, “questions what happened to these objects. Even though there is evidence that the objects were subsequently destroyed, we cannot exclude the possibility that some survived.” Miladinovic´ suggests
he answer to this question may depend on what kind of art we are referring to. Susan Schuppli, whose work examines material evidence from war and conflict, writes that “if history is to be invoked it generally comes in the form of memorials and cemeteries—markers that designate the official geographies of loss.” We have predetermined types of art, such as memorials and monuments, that most often stand in for the absence of physical proof or even the living witness. These “markers,” however, are nowhere to be found in Batajnica. The absence of any memorial object today, original or artistic, calls for an alternative discursive space that challenges the significant silence of the community. So to what extent does Miladinovic´’s work provide just that?
Holocaust theorist Shoshana Felman wrote aptly in the 1990s that “testimony is the […] discursive mode par excellence of our times, and that our era can precisely be defined as the age of testimony.” In the foreword to their seminal work, Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis, and History, Felman and psychiatrist Dori Laub investigate the relation between “narrative and history, between art and memory, between speech and survival.” Felman suggests that: contemporary works of art use testimony both as the subject of their drama and as the medium of their literature transmission. 43
Marija Djokovic 2018
Artist Vladimir Miladinović.
[… They] instruct us in the ways in which testimony has become a crucial mode of our relation to events of our times—our relation to the traumas of contemporary history: the Second World War, the Holocaust, the nuclear bomb, and other war atrocities. […] Testimony seems to be composed of bits and pieces of a memory that has been overwhelmed by occurrences that have not settled into understanding or remembrance, acts that cannot be constructed as knowledge nor assimilated into full cognition, events in excess of our frames of reference. Although Felman is referring primarily to literature here, the key idea that I want to extract from this passage is the following: Testimonial works of art are comprised of “bits and pieces of a memory” that do not yet, or cannot ever, fully understand the event itself. Testimony is about the lack of assimilation, it reflects the limits of our knowledge. In this sense, Felman’s remarks remind us that Schuppli’s “geographies of loss,” which usually take the physical form of memorials and monuments, can also be rendered through a more theoretical and abstract conduit, such as visual art. 44
Is Miladinovic´’s work a testimony, then? I believe so. Free Objects is in fact the only testimonial to the disappeared objects that is publically accessible through his frequent shows in galleries throughout Europe, viewings in his studio, and on his website. Lists of exhumed objects created by forensic specialists are normally regarded by the ICTY and other such institutions as “sacred trash”6 —items revered enough to be filed away forever and forgotten once the case is closed and the archive sealed. Miladinovic´’s art resurrects the closed archive, thus challenging the ways in which the recent past is remembered (or not remembered) in Serbia, and constructing a type of memory that counters “official memory.” It is therefore a testament to silence, absence, and loss. Miladinovic´’s creative technique, moreover, is designed to reflect the process of forgetting and remembering, and to question the status of the list. Instead of using the official documents, the artist chose to rewrite the entire list containing hundreds of items, word by word, letter by letter, very slowly and carefully. This performative act is the body of the work. Again, something is “missing” here: the original list from the archive, which already stood in for the disappeared objects. In the second stage of the performance, the exhibition visitor reads the list
and considers not only the process of its creation, but his or her relationship to the violent past. Miladinovic´’s artwork does not engage with the event directly, but through a specific representation of it that we could call a “description without place,” after Wallace Stevens.7 Free Objects reconstructs detailed, meticulous bureaucratic descriptions of missing objects that were discovered in a place that is now deemed off-limits by the authorities. Through its specific form, a painstakingly hand-made copy, the artwork proposes a critical reflection on the neatness of that description. Contrary to Felman’s definition of testimony as being “composed of bits and pieces” of memory and speaking of “acts that cannot be constructed as knowledge,” the list creates the illusion of comprehensiveness. It is intended to organize, institutionalize, and eventually contain the chaotic violence it refers to. The best way to testify to an event might indeed be to confront its chaos, its messiness, its lack of clarity—to speak to what is not present, but absent. To conclude, I would like to return to the words of Jason de Léon, who emphasizes that “[t]here is no easy way to represent violence.” We can now add that there is no easy way to represent the absence of violence; or better yet, violence that has been actively forgotten, erased, deleted from public memory. As Miladinovic´ attempts to give an afterlife to the catalogued objects from the mass grave, he is grappling with issues similar to those encountered by de Léon, a forensic anthropologist who works on the missing border crossers in the Sonoran Desert near the U.S./Mexico frontier. “The fact of the matter is that although this is a crime scene, few people actually care or want to know what has happened here,” affirms the latter. In the end, Miladinovic´ does not believe that he can directly represent the violence of Batajnica in his art. Nor does he consider his work to be the answer to the on-going inability of his countrymen to engage in any kind of public discourse about what happened during the 1990s in Kosovo, and other parts of the former Yugoslavia. Rather, his art proposes an alternative “geography of loss” testifying to the absence of discourse and memory markers in Batajnica.
NOTES 1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LjyMkNaRFQ (accessed 18 Jan. 2017). 2 NATO bombed the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from 24 May to 10 June 1999. 3 See The Batajnica Memorial Project: http://www. batajnicamemorialinitiative.org/en/zrtve. 4 Personal interview with Vladimir Miladinovic´ on 20 Oct. 2016. 5 http://vladimirmiladinovic.blogspot.com/ (accessed 1 Feb. 2018). 6 See the very interesting book about the Cairo Geniza: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/29/books/review/bookreview-sacred-trash-the-lost-and-found-world-of-the-cairogeniza-by-adina-hoffman-and-peter-cole.html. 7 Stevens, Wallace, “Description without Place.” 1945. https:// www.sas.upenn.edu/~cavitch/pdf-library/Stevens_Description. pdf. WORKS CITED Dedi´c, Nikola, “The Artist as a Critical Intellectual,” in Vladimir Miladinovic´: Rendered History. March 2015. De Léon, Jason, The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail, Oakland: University of California Press, 2015. Felman, Shoshana, “Education and Crisis, Or the Vicissitudes of Teaching,” in Id. & Dori Laub, Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis and History, New York: Routledge, 1999, 1-56. — & Dori Laub, “Introduction,” in Id., Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis and History, New York: Routledge, 1999, xiii-xx. Schuppli, Susan, “Entering Evidence: Cross-Examining the Court Records at the ICTY,” in Forensis: The Architecture of Public Truth, Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2014, 279-314. LEARN MORE Website of the Batajnica Memorial Project, a virtual memorial space: www.batajnicamemorialinitiative.org/en. Website of Vladimir Miladinovic´: vladimirmiladinovic.blogspot. com/.
I want to thank Vladimir Miladinovi´c for his insightful suggestions while I was writing this essay and for our continued collaboration.
“Geographies of Loss: Testimony, Art, and the Afterlife of Batajnica’s Disappeared Objects” was previously published in the April 2018 issue of Getuigen tussen geschiedenis en herinnering (Testimony between history and memory), number 126. International peer-reviewed journal of the Auschwitz Foundation, Brussels. It is reprinted here with the permission of the publisher of that publication. The images here are reprinted with the permission of the artist Vladimir Miladinovi´c.
Stephenie A. Young is an English professor at Salem State University and research associate for the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. She completed her MA and PhD in Comparative Literature at the State University of New York, Binghamton. Her book project The Forensics of Memorialization is about how traumatic material culture is used to create visual narratives that shape memory politics in former Yugoslavia. 45
“Make It Work in Seven Seconds”
A Retrospective of Theatre Posters at Salem State University September 1974-June 2011: The Whizz White Years Whitney “Whizz” White
taught theatre design and technology at Salem State University from September 1974 to June 2011. I was involved in the production of more than 156 plays and musicals on campus. Depending on the production I served as director, technical director, scene designer, actor, and/or lighting designer. I also helped design and create most of the posters for those productions.
When theatre producers from the ancient Greeks and Romans to the Bawdy Elizabethans wanted to let people know that there was a play going on, they just raised a flag. Considering how few people could read at that time, the idea made sense. As time went on and more people learned to read, large cities such as Paris and London began having more than one show on any particular evening, and they now had printing presses.
In 2018 the Sophia Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts opened on North Campus. The previous Mainstage Theater The first posters were probably 7”x 3” was gutted, redesigned, and handbills. Because they were distributed rebuilt into a beautiful new facility, which now includes around a city and attached to any available a 432-seat theatre, balcony, post, they became known as “posters.” rehearsal room, and performance support spaces. The opening of the Sophia Gordon Center, and the subsequent naming of the Lighting Control Booth as the Whitney “Whizz” White Control Room, sparked my interest in creating a retrospective of the theatre and speech communication department. As I looked at the walls of my house filled with theatre memories, the first thing that came to mind was a history of theatre posters at Salem State. To that end, I digitized the posters of all those shows put on during my time working at Salem State. This process got me thinking about why we in the department created the posters in the first place: what made them draw in audiences (or not), and how we created them. 46
The first posters were probably 7"x 3" handbills. Because they were distributed around a city and attached to any available post, they became known as “posters.”
The purpose of a poster has not changed much over the years: Pique the audience members’ interest in the play and let them know when and where it is. As my friend and theater marketing mentor Jeffrey Huberman of Bradley University once told me: “Don’t put too much ‘stuff’ on that poster. You’ve got very little of someone’s attention to get it done. Make it work in seven seconds!” How do you know if a poster works? Well, did you fill the theater with an audience for every performance? If the answer is yes, then the poster worked…or it didn’t. Right: Whizz White’s compilation of theatre posters from the plays and musicals that he helped produce.
One reason that the answer to this question is so complicated is that posters alone are seldom the only means of marketing a production. Unfortunately, at the university level, as much as we tried many different methods of marketing over the years, the audiences for the first weekend of performances were always hit-or-miss—except of course for musicals, which seem to bring audiences out of the woodwork. The second weekend, however, seemed to be dependent entirely on word-of-mouth from the first weekend. If we could get our audiences from the first weekend to walk out of the theater talking about the production and how much it moved them, or made them laugh, or made them cry, or made them remember things from their own lives, the better our sales would be for the second weekend’s performances. For those of us in the theatre, however, posters have an entirely different meaning. Unfortunately, for years, they were the only memory that we could take away from each show that we were involved with. We always believed that the poster would help bring in our audience. However, it was also a wonderful memento of time spent with people whom we would treat like family for a short time and then often never see again. How many different types of posters are there? As many as there are graphic artists! The most popular with our audiences seemed to be one of two main types:
Take a look and see which images first draw your eye. I bet they were the ones that worked the best.
Posters with artists’ drawings. These were posters in which the central image was a drawing or painting commissioned by a local artist with the same basic parameters of a photo image. We typically used these when the image that we imagined for the poster could not be photographed given our often-meager budget.
Posters with photo images. These were posters in which the central image was a photograph taken by me or several other contributors from Salem State. We tried to take a photograph that had some sort of meaning or metaphor of the play’s theme or plot and that had something exciting to grab potential audience members’ attention while we told them when and where the production would be.
Whitney “Whizz” White is professor emeritus of theatre and speech communication at Salem State University. In September 1974 he, Charlotte Ettinger, and Jeffrey Huberman started the theatre program. During his 37 years there he chaired the department for seven years; helped get the department accredited from the National Association of Schools of Theatre; designed scenery, lighting, and special effects; and directed plays.
tweets Editor’s Note: English Professor Alexandria Peary compiled these tweets from faculty members about their experiences teaching, doing research, and otherwise being engaged in their work as professors. Set between the world wars, this book captures a history of one of India’s most iconic leaders, Jawaharlal Nehru, and the ways he leveraged the power of world movements against imperialism and fascism for the cause of Indian independence. Learn how the world shaped modern India in Comrades against Imperialism (Cambridge 2018).
When it looks like only 1 person came to your presentation bc the rest are hanging in the back. Thank you @DrSDougherty for this hilarious picture from our precon.
Michele Louro Associate Professor, History Faculty Fellow | Center for Research and Creative Activities
Christina M. Cassano Assistant Professor, Childhood Education and Care
50% of students don’t know how to learn. Last 3 yrs, I’ve been collaborating with nurs undergrads/ nurs education grad students to improve student learning thru evidence-based practice. Our program called Make It Stick: Campaign for Better Student Learning. Look for our presentations coming soon email@example.com. Cheryl Williams Assistant Professor, Nursing What does “community” mean? How did it come to mean everything from neighbors to online groups to the entire world? Why does this matter? Modern Bonds exposes ways in which Americans of 100 years ago remade the idea of community that we live with still…and raises concerns about the unintended consequences of this broadening for 2018.
Alexandria Peary Professor/First-Year Writing Coordinator, English Find your creative center at ReachArts! Dance, sing, draw, teach! Email English adjunct Laura Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org) for details. Laura Smith Writing Instructor, English
Elizabeth Duclos-Orsello Professor and Chair, Interdisciplinary Studies Coordinator of American Studies (major and minor)
By writing like a Buddha, we stop fighting the blank page & become calm & prolific! Impermanence is a writer’s friend, not enemy. We get our present moment back from the cognitive Lost & Found—& enjoy the benefits of writing right now, not for the future. That’s what I’m chanting (& more) in my new book, Prolific Moment (Routledge 2018).
Alexandria Peary is the author of six books, including Prolific Moment: Theory and Practice of Mindfulness for Writing (Routledge 2018) and The Water Draft (Spuyten Duyvil 2019). She is a professor of English at Salem State University.
Sextant: The Journal of Salem State University CC130 | 352 Lafayet te Street Salem, Massachuset ts 01970 -5353
Geography graduate student Madden Bremer, center, meets with children in Ghana during her research trip with Professor Stephen Young in 2018. See essay starting on page 17.
SEXTANT: The Journal of SalemState University, Volume XXV, No. 1, Spring 2019 Salem State University
Published on Jul 2, 2019
SEXTANT: The Journal of SalemState University, Volume XXV, No. 1, Spring 2019 Salem State University