Coz McNooz Fall 2016

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Coz McNooz The Johnston Center for Integrative Studies Dear


It won’t surprise you that there’s never a dull moment at Johnston, and this fall has been no exception. We hosted the 10th annual Vintage Johnston Wine Tasting and Dinner. It was especially fun because of the strong alumni presence at the event. As always, our seniors worked hard to sell raffle tickets, alum Lee Harrington designed the event, and Bill McDonald and John Slater pulled off an astonishing array of wines and auction items. We raised money for the student project fund and opened the fund up to student travel related to academic projects! Just a few examples of how our students are using the funds include: travel to produce a student play at the Fresh Grind Theater Festival in New York, recording projects by several of our talented musical artists, travel to Mexico City to participate in the Ex Teresa Arte Actual exhibit and conference in Museum Ciudad de Mexico, funding for the Eye Love You Summer Camp–started by Johnston students–, and seed money for a fashion line. As always, students are also committed to community projects, and several students are using project funds to beautify and improve the meditation room and the jam room in Bekins Basement. Our Kathryn Green speakers for the fall included Whitney Washington (’12) who is completing her third year of law school at American University and Jessie Kahnweiler (’06) who continues to address political and social issues with her wicked comedy. As many of you know, Kevin O’Neill’s book Internet Afterlife came out in September, so we were able to talk philosophy with one of

FALL / 2016


the best! Our incoming class put on the 11th annual Chilifest and shook it up this year. In addition to this community dinner, the first year students made “A Day in the Life of Johnston” video, completed a mural project to make our spaces more friendly, and held a “re-orientation” in November to deepen their connection to students of all years. Coming up this spring, we’ve got our second “Race on Campus Conference” class. It’s organized by students who just interviewed and hired the adjunct faculty member who will help them put on the conference. Like last year, Johnston will host student activists from Southern California campuses for a two-day conference to share their experiences of race on campus. Last year we funded this conference entirely from alumni gifts. This year, we have some help from the President’s Office and the Dean’s Office, but we hope you’ll consider contributing again so that we can put on the conference, provide housing and meals, and help with transportation for all conference attendees. If you’re looking for opportunities to re-connect with Johnston alums and faculty, keep an eye on Facebook and email for upcoming buffalo grazes and our alumni trip to the Ashland Shakespeare Festival. Also, this spring, we’ll launch our planning committee for the 50th Renewal in Spring 2019. Buffalove! Julie Townsend, Director




Our Kathryn Green Speaker Series kicked off with Whitney Washington (‘12), who shared her post-graduation and human rights law school experiences with a crowd of current students and faculty. Her stories were ripe with humor and detailed her first year after graduation as she tried to find places to do critical thinking and community engagement. While at Redlands, Whitney was the director of the Center for Revolutionary Endeavors, a member of the Delta Kappa Psi sorority and, for a very brief moment, a Redlands cheerleader. She graduated with an emphasis in Creating Change: Non Profit Development and Programming. Since entering law school Whitney has let her diverse passions guide her to the spaces where she can learn and make an impact. She wrote an influential report for a sexual war crimes case in Guatemala that contributed to the growing narrative of international law surrounding sexual violence. Currently she is working on refugee rights for a gay Turkish man living in Syria. Law school is, as Whitney put it: “on its face a garbage place to be,” but she believes her self-evolution in Johnston has allowed her to keep perspective. While other students are excessively competitive and spend days in the library without showering, Whitney used the skills she learned in Johnston to remain relatively sane and continue to shower and keep basic hygiene.

Upon request, Whitney discussed the issues of doing humanitarian work and not worsening the situation as an outsider. Our wonderful speaker proclaimed her hope of never finding only one passion and enjoying the continued journey of discovering what is next and what new spaces she can explore. She discussed space not only as a room but as an area of intellect. She explained that learning about one issue helps us realize there are more issues and nuances that we can delve deeper into in order to have better understanding –our own narrow mindedness can be an opportunity for growth. Whitney reflected that on Complex it was easier to develop community as the space was provided. After college she is still learning how to develop community and support systems in “the real world.” She described coming back to Johnston as coming home.




JessIe Kahnweiler ‘07

“I was a bulimic feminist...that’s f-ing weird.” Whatever the audience was expecting from Jessie Kahnweiler—freelance filmmaker, Johnston alum (2007), and Kathryn Green lecture series participant— it sure wasn’t that. Kahnweiler generously shared her college and work experiences (which include editing footage of dolphins for a couple she speculated were swingers) before she presented an evening campus-wide lecture about making art out of trauma, accompanied by her short film, Meet My Rapist. With a sassy mouth and confident presence, adorned in a Beyoncé sweatshirt, she told the audience about when she started making documentaries in college: one about the city of Redlands itself and one about trucker culture. This latter project involved her interviewing truckers and sex workers in the middle of the night. She said it made her feel alive, and that she’s “been chasing that spark ever since.” She also lit up when talking about producing her web show The Skinny, and how it was finally produced after six years of experiencing setbacks. Most of her talk, though, was spent discussing how Johnston prepared her for the real world. She pointed to the idea of diversity strengthening communities, the importance of being proactive, and that stepping out of your comfort zone can lead to great things. “Johnston taught me how to have a voice,” she raved. “[Johnston taught me] how to pitch things, present myself, how to have self-respect.” In a

fast-paced world where each career assignment is like one independent study after another, she credits Johnston with giving her the skills and experience she needed to set herself apart from— and ahead of—her competition. She took a moment to speak directly to graduating seniors, urging them to relax and understand that reaching your goals isn’t as straightforward as it seems. Securing a job is important, she reaffirmed, even if it isn’t exactly what you want to be doing, but take every opportunity you have to get your foot in the door of your preferred industry. She admitted that there is a lot of pressure on graduates to immediately get a place of their own and their dream job, but emphasized that it is not the smartest person who gets the job, but instead the kindest person. Her words held wisdom that is only gained through experience, but were delivered with a bubbliness that felt relatable. Since graduating Johnston, she’s gone on to present at the Sundance Film Festival and produce a Webby-winning online series about bulimia, along with other dark comedies. Currently, she is looking forward to producing documentaries on surrogacy, and social media. A decade after graduating, Kahnweiler says she is still chasing that spark she felt while making college documentaries, but I’d say she’s on fire.





n Wednesday, September 28th, the Johnston Community welcomed Kevin O’Neill, a current professor and one of the founding members of Johnston College, to talk about his latest book, Internet Afterlife: Virtual Salvation in the 21st Century. Within the book, he discusses the ways in which the Internet has affected the paradigm of life and death; more specifically how cyberspace has influenced modern conceptions of afterlife. His book discusses how we may be nearing a time where we can replicate our own minds and consciousness on a computer and live forever in a virtual reality. He began the talk by revealing his initial inspiration for his book, his discovery in the early 90’s of a book entitled Sleeping Beauty: Memorial Photography in America, containing a collection of postmortem portraits circa the mid 1800s. He pondered this bizarre practice of photographing the dead, stating, “What’s going on in a culture where we thought it would be a good idea, when someone dies, to pay a professional photographer to take a photograph of them to put in their front parlor? What did people think about death to do that?” And thus, his fascination began and spurred his research into this topic. The first section of his book addresses this practice and how it has informed our cultural views about the afterlife, as well as the ways in which we preserve and memorialize the dead in modern times. In the second section, it explores internet afterlife in the form of online memorials and social media “legacy pages”. It then looks towards the future, citing transhumanist theories, at a world where we could live forever in a computer, or as a “nanobot swarm” or hologram. To O’Neill, this brings about a very important question: How do you artificially replicate the human identity? O’Neill brought his enthusiasm and unusual charm to the talk, bringing to light a myriad of existential questions about human identity and how it is influenced and informed by technology. The talk gave rise to numerous questions and a lively discussion among the community, in typical Johnston fashion.

ALUM: Nina Fernando ‘11


s I write this reflection from Sri Lanka, I recognize that the Johnston spirit of innovation and adventure has influenced me beyond measure. There aren’t many schools where students can create their own emphasis and I’ve been living out mine, Social Change through Music and Religious Studies, every day since graduating. First, I joined a graduate program at Claremont School of Theology to work on a M.A. in Religious and Cultural Studies: Ethics and Community Engagement; then I worked as a Faith-Rooted Organizer for Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, helping educate, mobilize and organize religious communities of all traditions to take part in social and economic justice that lifts working families out of poverty. And all the while, throughout the years, I’ve been singing and playing music on my own and with a number of different bands and music ensembles (including UoR original band The Overeasy) at venues, events, religious congregations, public demonstrations, and protests throughout Southern California. Now, I find myself here, across the world in Sri Lanka on a fellowship, living and working on those very themes—Social Change through Music and Religion—for these next 6 months.

The LankaCorps Fellowship is a program funded by The Asia Foundation (TAF) that selects individuals of Sri Lankan descent to come “back to their roots” in Sri Lanka and to contribute to the economy and community by offering their skills and talents to the country of their cultural origins. This year, six women were chosen and placed to work in different organizations that align with our diverse experiences and interests. So far, the transition has felt very natural. My parents left the island in the heat of religious and ethnic tension and riots in what would become a 30 year civil war. While I was born and raised in Southern California, communities in Sri Lanka lived in fear, thousands were displaced, and too many lives were lost. Organizations and groups such as The Asia Foundation and the one I am working with throughout this fellowship, the International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES), are currently doing much-needed post-war research, assessment, and development work as communities are still in need of healing, reconciliation, and transitional justice. Religious and ethnic tensions still persist; in Sri Lanka, the sacred and secular blend into each other and ethnicity, religion, and culture are deeply intertwined. I am working on different peacebuilding toolkits including pieces on nonviolent communication and interreligious education, and social transformation through music while exploring other innovative and creative ways to build bridges of understanding between people of different religious and ethnic backgrounds. ICES is in the midst of a number of ongoing research projects, events, and engagement opportunities: for example, we recently hosted a Festival of Music for Social Change in Sri Lanka. And so I am jumping in and helping in any way I can. I am grateful to be surrounded by great people in this fellowship and my own large extended family. I am learning so much about myself, my culture, and my family history, and I feel passionate about this work. I’m also starting to sing and get involved with local performances. I imagine that, like my experience at Johnston, this fellowship will change me and influence me in ways beyond my current understanding. I feel like I will be a better partner to my husband, a better daughter, sister, friend, and hopefully one day mother. I hope to grow to become a more globally conscious and inter-religiously and inter-culturally fluent person in this incredible place and space. My hope is that in all my adventures ahead, I will always find ways to incorporate that original Johnston emphasis, my passion for Social Change through Music and Religious Studies into everything I do. And based on my experience thus far, I know I will!


Alum Rick Daily and senior Nina Newman mingle in style

One of the conversations that I distinctly remember from an early Vint like this: “Well, fundraisers like this have about a 10 year shelf life, so w Johnston, I think I can speak for the organizers and attendees alike wh year!” Looking back on what Vintage Johnston has enabled us to do s of building community -- and it does that! Additionally, Vintage has when it comes to funding student projects. While there are usually s fund has enabled Johnston students to fully realize their academic vis of a funding source. Vintage Johnston is not only a tradition for senio to alums, it has become a pillar of Johnston’s academic independenc

Alums Jon Garcia and Hanna Bratton cozy up in between courses Resident Hall Director Adam Ghovayzi waxes philosophical with fellow alum Maya Joshua

Right: Johnsto benefactor Joh Slater survey the fruits of hi ten years o hard work and generosity, whil demonstrating champagne hold that is, as always on point Bill McDonald entices alum Mike McDunnah and his spouse, Nakea West -- not hard with an assist from Lee Harrington’s stunning auction table designs

Coyetess Provost Kathy Ogren reconnects with alum Marjetta Geerling

ge Johnston

tage Johnston planning session had a statement that went something we’ll try to get to 10 and see where we are.” At the 10th annual Vintage hen I say, “We’ve really got this thing down now… I can’t wait until next solidifies for me the importance of this event. We talk about it in terms enabled Johnston to maintain the integrity of our educational vision small pots of funding around the University for a student project, this sions regardless of whether those visions fit into the usual parameters ors, or a way of building community, or even an occasion to reach out ce in a climate of increasing limits.

We always love to toast Johnston with alum and Board of Trustee member Debbie Heap Kelly Hankin basks in the glow of adoring alums

on hn ys is of d le a d s,

Seniors, Ana Barforough, Maddie Ryan and Nina Newman, take a break from selling raffle tickets to smile for the camera

A Day In The Life Of Johnston Furniture Sculptures

Photo source: John Lewis Lassen Perry via facebook

Announcing the 2017 Johnston Center Alumni Seminar: "The Play's The Thing"! Join fellow Johnstonians for a week of a Feast

of Will in June, 2017 in Ashland, Oregon, home of the world-class Oregon Shakespeare Festival. OSF presents four plays by the Bard every season, and offers other classic and contemporary theatre concurrently, with a total of ten different plays running throughout the summer. Ashland also is known for its high quality “offBardway” community theatre, its proximity to Crater Lake National Park, and world-class whitewater river rafting.

When did this art practice start? What’s your connection to furniture sculptures? What year?

Share your stories with The Coyotess Den. Email:

Lodging will be at the historic Buckhorn Springs Retreat Center ( outside of Ashland, with accommodations for single, double, and family occupancy, and some camping available. Optional packages will include wine-tasting, led by Bill McDonald, and professionally-led river rafting. Professors Nancy Carrick, Daniel Kiefer, Julie Townsend, and Bill McDonald will host this trip, and alums Meg Olsen and Sharon Bolles are organizing it. It should be a blast!” Click this link to find out more: johnston-center-in-ashland-oregon/

A TALK WITH OLIVER FROHLING A circle of students surrounded a bald and smiling man with greetings and excited chatter. Many of the students were excited to reunite with one of the people who was at the forefront of their study abroad experience from Oaxaca, Mexico. Oliver Froehling had traveled all the way to the Johnston Center in Redlands, CA to deliver a lecture. When time came, he introduced himself to the students and faculty in the room. He is the current director of SURCO, or Sevicios Universitatrios Y Redes De Conocimientos En Oaxaca A.C., a non-profit, grassroots organization that integrates academic learning with local activism where the participants studied alongside activists in their communities. Although he isn’t a Johnston alum, he is closely tied to the Center because of his continual work with Pat Wasielewski since 2013 bringing students to Oaxaca during May Term. The topic of his talk was the tie between academic work and social activism. He posed a few questions of his own: “Who is the research for?” “How do people benefit from what I’m publishing?” Oliver explains that it is possible that published information about a certain group of people can be used against them. Additionally, he critiqued the academy, explaining that universities and other education institutions have a past of imperialism that they want to maintain. “We must decolonize modernization,” he proclaimed. Pat asked for Oliver’s opinion of how university students can respect the ideologies of the region and get a complete study abroad experience. Referring to SURCO, Oliver explained that community service learning benefits the student so that they can get to know locals and the region. Oliver also shed some light on the idea that building communities requires lots of time and energy. “Building community is a full-time job.” He briefly looked towards the future, saying that he would like to see ten to fifteen hour workweeks as the norm so that people can have time to sit around, talk to one another, eat together, and form community. Although that is the ideal, he understands the difficulty to achieve it because of our current social structure. If anyone were to only work ten to fifteen hours a week now, “you will die,” Oliver said confidently. This was a familiar conversation circulating the community at this time. In the span of an hour, the room got to hear Oliver answer questions about his experience at SURCO, the 2006 teacher riots, Oaxacan culture, the role of technology in building community, and macro- or microactivist work is the most effective (hint: both–if they are integrated).

2016 2016




In your time here, you all had a choice to be caretakers as well. Now, my husband tells me that this comparison may not be the best. Clearly taking care of a dying parent is different than, say, your choice to serve on a Contract Committee Meeting. One is a life defining moment, the other, the daily work that needs doing. And yes, let’s not make false equivalencies here. Some caretaking positions are harder than others. Even at your young age, some of you already know this first hand. But since it is my correlation to make, I’m going to make it. Because, surely, without your choice to be a caretaker of Johnston—from the very small and banal acts to the grand and sometimes difficult gestures—this place— this educational idea and practice—would simply not exist. Moreover, without your acts of caretaking, I know you would not be the people you are today. I know this, because I’ve seen you grow over your time here.

In conversation with others, I often refer to Johnston as a well-oiled machine. But it strikes me that this is actually the wrong metaphor. A well-oiled machine needs only someone to push a button or pull a level to make it run; a well-oiled machine has a team of professionals to design it, to upgrade it, and to fix the bugs; a well-oiled machine is simple to operate and designed to offer consistency. Rides at Disneyland are well-oiled machines, my coffee maker is a well-oiled machine, an elevator is a well-oiled machine. And most times, we want and need the security of a well-oiled machine. Nobody wants Disneyland’s teacup ride to accidentally keep spinning for three hours; coffee drinkers want the same coffee on Friday that they got on Monday. And nobody wants to get into an unpredictable elevator. But what makes Johnston the special place that it is comes from the fact that it isn’t a well-oiled machine. Arguably, we aren’t a machine at all. Johnston is a labor-intensive craft that makes one-of-a-kind hand-mades. As such, Johnston isn’t easy to run, simple to navigate, or meant to offer consistency. Moreover, it isn’t run by a team of professionals who swiftly and invisibly perform upgrades and fix the design flaws. Instead, Johnston is run by its community—an alternately energized and exhausted community— who, for almost 50 years, has made many sacrifices to care for the maintenance of this place, to give oxygen to the idea. And now, as Johnston alums, I hope you will continue to be caretakers of Johnston. You are physically leaving, but perhaps your responsibility to this entity we call Johnston will not end. This caretaking will look and feel different for all of you, but at a very minimum, I hope it means that: As best as you can, and I know it will be hard, you will maintain some of your connections to each other and to those of us who are still here, You will carry Johnston out into the world—into your professions and into your relationships— And hopefully, you will come back to and care for this place, even when, 5-10-20 years down the road, it looks and feels different then it does today, when it is no longer a buffalo that is yelled but something else. Because, my dear dear Johnston students of the class of 2016, like the ghosts that haunt the Overlook, but far more benevolent, you will always be a part of this place: “YOU are the caretaker. You’ve always been the caretaker.”




The world is big and complex and messy, and so too is our new found freedom. Like most students who have come before me, I feel like I am standing on a precipice and on the other side of a dark and unknowable abyss is change. How to cross it is a mystery I’m going to need the liberal arts to solve. I’m going to need to know how to read— how to read a room, how to read the signs, how to read between the lines, and when to not read too much into things— especially rejection letters. I’ll need to know how to write— not just checks to student debt collectors, but also how to write my own story, how to write emails that people will actually read and respond to, tweets that are both funny and poignant, letters to my congressmen, grocery lists, thank you notes (keep an eye on yours in the mail Grandma), love letters that fly off the page and wrap hearts in a warmth that comes only from language deployed beautifully. I’ll need to know how to think critically about the things I encounter— to know that truth is subjective and that people contain multitudes, and all parts of something must be studied in their smallest detail to be understood. Thinking about existing in the world after being educated is daunting— because now that I’m free I can do whatever I want. I can be bold and open and honest and I don’t need to be held down by others’ opinions or demands. I am as infinite as the possibilities before me. ....... I need you to own the mess with me. And that makes me wonder, what does it mean to be free and connected to others at the same time? We complicate one another’s freedom constantly, our ties to each other constrain us and those bonds can create structures that feel rigid— obstacles we must struggle against. Structures exist all over the place: from the labels we claim from ourselves to our government (that democracy we’re all supposed to be participating in now). Maybe freedom is only freedom when you’re alone, only accountable to yourself and your desires. To think this through, we need something that the liberal arts gave me the opportunity to study: jazz. I stumbled across Dan Murphy’s History of Jazz class in an online webadvisor frenzy the summer before my freshmen year. I walked in on the first day to a big classroom in Watchorn containing six music majors, Professor Murphy and a piano. All of them could read music and play instruments— talents I didn’t and still don’t possess. It was my first class after taking almost four years off from the liberal arts and I was worried. Worried that I was too out of practice, too old, and too afraid of failing to try hard enough to succeed. I was also really cold, because the air conditioning here is intense and when you come to California from the east coast you just assume you’ll never need a sweater and it turns out that is a huge lie. What I learned in that class, besides the art of layering, is what freedom can look like within structure. ........ Uncertainty is scary, and this is the other part of needing you. Because even though my freedom might be simpler without you, I would rather be tied to you, so we can figure out how to engage with the world collectively, listening to one another and playing our way across the abyss. I want to improvise with you in the structures we create for ourselves, so together we can free. Thank you for listening to me, and congratulations to the class of two thousand sixteen.

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