Bruce is featured in an interview with the Center on Compassion and Global Health. During his tenure at the World Bank Bruce played a key role in the global effort to eradicate onchocerciasis (river blindness) in West Africa. Bruce is writing a book on that work. The director of the Center on Compassion and Global Health is David Aldiss, a friend of Alison Geist, who directs Kalamazoo College’s Center for Civic Engagement. Alison also teaches courses in K’s new concentration called “Community and Global Health.” David taught an epidemiology class on campus during a recent visit here as a visiting fellow of the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership. According to Alison, “We have a lot of alumni doing global health work as well as many students doing interesting Senior Individualized Projects and internships in the field of public health.”
James accepted a position as a psychologist at Columbia University (New York City). His clinical competencies include individual psychotherapy for mood and anxiety disorders, identity issues, LGBTQ mental health, and behavioral health issues. He has extensive experience in addictions treatment, and he works with clients to develop individualized substance use treatment plans. At K he majored in psychology and studied abroad in Bonn, Germany. He earned his Ph.D. at New York University.
Adam is the Jack Nelson Freedom of Information legal fellow for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, a nonprofit association dedicated to providing free legal assistance to journalists. He is spending his fellowship year working on freedom of information and access issues and on tutorials for the Reporters Committee’s “iFOIA” system for sending and tracking Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Adam graduated from George Washington University Law School last May. During law school, he volunteered for the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, worked as a research assistant, and served as the president of the university’s ACLU student group. He also served as an associate for the GW International Law Review. Before joining the Reporters Committee, Adam interned at the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the National Whistleblowers Center. At K he earned his bachelor’s degree (magna cum laude) in political science, and he studied abroad at the London School of Economics.
Since coming to Kalamazoo College in 2011 Lisa Brock has served a dual role. As academic director of the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership, she helps “teachers” (which includes professors, certainly, but also all persons involved in a student’s learning experience at K) think about the ways academic content and social justice can work together. From this work will grow new courses and new programs infused with scholarly rigor and social justice principles. As a result, K students will develop and cultivate throughout their lives the critical thinking skills, the leadership acumen, and the inclination to help build a better world for all. Brock also is an associate professor of history, and her favorite class to teach focuses on Nelson Mandela and the anti-apartheid movement. She has taught courses on this subject for many years, even before the fall of apartheid and Mandela’s release from Robben Island (1990). Her work in social justice and history reinforce one another. An education so infused with social justice that the learner seeks to make a better world may sound utopian. But Brock the historian, and Brock the activist, knows it is possible. BeLight is delighted to help you get to know Lisa Brock in its February 2015 “Lighten Up” interview.
What is the best song ever recorded?
I love Billie Holiday, the pain in her voice makes every song memorable, but the best ever recorded is Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.”
What’s your favorite childhood fairy tale or story?
I don’t recall its title, but my mom used to read me a story about a man who dropped his glasses in black ink, put them back on, and proceeded to move about the world even though he couldn’t see. Maybe it was called “The Man With Ink Glasses.”
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
I hope to hear ‘Here are your folk.’ And there, waiting for me, would be my mom and grandparents, my sister and uncles.
What’s your favorite word?
What’s your least favorite word?
What turns you on?
What turns you off?
What sound do you love?
What sound do you hate?
A person yelling at another person.
What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
A composer. I liked writing songs and enjoyed my music theory classes in college.
What profession would you not like to participate in?
I’d never want to be a bureaucrat buried in the bowels of a corporation.
What’s been a great moment in your liberal arts learning?
Reading people like Karl Marx and Frantz Fanon when I was an undergraduate.
Who’s the person (living or dead) with whom you’d most like to spend a lunch hour?
Zora Neale Hurston, a writer during the Harlem Renaissance and author of Their Eyes Were Watching God. She also was an accomplished anthropologist, despite having her work marginalized because she was a woman. She studied with Franz Boas. Alice Walker played a role in the re-discovery of this fascinating writer and feminist hero.
What memory from childhood still surprises you?
My parents married young enough to ensure a great deal of grandparent hovering, so I remember enjoying lots of love from my extended family. I took that for granted and was shocked when my first college roommate, who had a very different childhood experience than mine, once told me that she didn’t like her mother. I lost sleep over that. The other thing that surprises me is how childhood is like a snapshot, so temporal. All old photos whisper impermanence. But when we’re children we often think things will always stay the same. Maybe that’s the memory from childhood that still surprises me: that I once could have thought that way.
What is your favorite curse word?
What is your favorite hobby?
I’m an avid reader and a big fan of mysteries. Lately I’ve taken up listening to mystery novels as audio books. Unfortunately I often fall asleep, and the audio continues for up to an hour, which means I’m quite lost when I resume listening.
What is your favorite comedy movie?
The British version of Death at a Funeral.
What local, regional, national, or world event has affected you most?
There are two, and both are positive. One was the campaign and election of Harold Washington as mayor of Chicago. I worked on his campaign. And the other was the culmination of the anti-apartheid campaign (I was an activist in that movement as well) with the release of Nelson Mandela on February 11, 1990. Millions of people around the world “gathered” to be part of that moment. I remember many friends came together at my house at 3 a.m. in Chicago. We were making breakfast, talking excitedly, anticipating that great hopeful moment.
Ruth was awarded the Faith Award this year for recognition of her leadership and work in creating safe and affirming spaces through a faith lens. Ruth advocates for the LGBTQ community from the pulpit (she serves as the pastor of Christian Church-Disciples of Christ in Kalamazoo), in everyday life, and as chair of the Faith Alliance. During her time at Kalamazoo College, Moerdyk helped found the first LGB student organization at K and went on to provide leadership for the LGBTQ student organization at Chicago Theological Seminary. She earned her bachelor’s degree in religion and studied abroad in Sierra Leone.
Denise is the new Estes Valley Restorative Justice Program (EVRJP) Coordinator. EVRJP is part of the Estes Park (Colorado) Police Department and offers restorative justice services through community group conferences, community circles (parolee re-entry), and restorative community mediation. Its goal is to assist in identifying and repairing harm, preventing wrong-doing, and allowing citizens the opportunity to resolve disputes in a peaceful manner. Denise majored in international and area studies at K and studied abroad in Quito, Ecuador.
Sarah has won a 2015 National Science Foundation Faculty Early Development (CAREER) Award to study how race/ethnicity, gender, and family income are linked to career success in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The CAREER Award provides multi-year support for especially promising junior faculty members. Sarah is an assistant professor of sociology at Virginia Tech (Blacksburg). A key component of her research will be interviews with more than 100 undergraduate students in STEM and non-STEM majors at Virginia Tech and focus groups with peer interviewers. Over the next five years, Sarah and a team of graduate and undergraduate research assistants will follow up with these students as they complete their degrees and begin their careers. The grant is expected to total $453,359 over the five years. Sarah’s scholarly interests have primarily focused on educational inequality by race and gender using qualitative and quantitative methods of inquiry. Other research interests include immigration, Latino/Latina populations, and undocumented students.
She recently published an article in the journal Gender & Society that examines trends in Latinos’/Latinas’ postsecondary pathways and life course decisions over a two-year period. She is completing work on a book titled Race, Class, and Choice in Latino/a Higher Education: Pathways in the College-for-All Era under contract with Palgrave Macmillan.
Mary Helen is an award-winning teacher in the Livonia (Michigan) Public Schools. She and two colleagues are planning a trip to the House of Hope Orphanage in Montrois, Haiti. They will bring and distribute school supplies, clothes, and shoes to the children there. The three also will guide enrichment camps focusing on sports, art, and dance. Their work expands a program that previously resulted in the provision of four goats for the village, used to supply milk and cheese to the community.
Jon received the 2015 Visionary Award from GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network), the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe and affirming schools for all students. Jon is founder and president of the Arcus Foundation. He also serves on K’s board of trustees. In honoring Jon, GLSEN noted that “Jon Stryker has been a philanthropic pioneer, ensuring LGBT people have the same opportunities as everyone else. Since founding the Arcus Foundation in 2000, Mr. Stryker has become a leading funder and supporter of LGBT issues [and] Arcus has become one of the world’s largest LGBT-focused grant makers, leading the way in the U.S. and pioneering funding for LGBT issues globally…” Celebrating its 25th year, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. The GLSEN Respect Awards showcase the work of students, educators, individuals, and corporations who serve as exemplary role models and have made a significant impact on the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. Previous GLSEN Respect Awards honorees include actress Julia Roberts, Dreamworks Animation CEO Jeffery Katzenberg, film producers Bob and Harvey Weinstein, and former NBA player Jason Collins.
“. . . we go to poetry … so that we might more fully inhabit our lives and the world in which we live them, and that if we more fully inhabit these things, we might be less apt to destroy both.” – Christian Wiman, poet
Amy Newday plants seeds in soil (she runs her own farm), and she plants seeds in students (she directs K’s Writing Center and teaches classes in the English department). Some seeds grow green crops. Others grow green poetry.
Newday recently completed a winter term course called “Ecopoetry,” and is currently teaching a spring term senior Capstone class called “CSA (community-supported agriculture) and Sustainability.” The two courses are an integral part of Kalamazoo College’s ongoing creation of a Center for Environmental Stewardship, teaching students about the impact of human life on their world.
“I feel a strong call to be of service to the earth and the non-human beings we share it with,” says Newday. “As I get older and get to know myself better and as our ecological crises worsen, this call becomes stronger. What I was curious to explore with my students in the ecopoetry course was—what does poetry have to do with ecological crises? Can poetry be a vehicle for transforming our relationships with the ecosystems in which we dwell?”
A farmer and a poet, Newday grew up on dairy farm in Shelbyville, Michigan. Her “Ecopoetry” course drew thirteen students, all of whom participated in a reading on campus to draw their class to a close. Each student read a poem from the textbook that had especially moved or inspired them.
Emily Sklar ’15 was one of those students, a biology major with an interest in ecological issues. “I love biology, although I’m not quite sure yet what I will do with it,” Sklar says. “I also love being outdoors, and I’m concerned about the environment, so I’ve been wondering how to combine all that. Science comes short on the ethical and moral aspect of ecological issues, so that’s why I took the poetry course. Poetry gives me another way to understand what’s around me, and the course has given me a blend of language that builds collaboration between scientists and poets.”
“Ecopoetry” is a relatively new term, if not quite a genre in its own right, Newday explains. “Writing about daffodils is no longer enough. Critics beat up poets like Mary Oliver for being what they call a ‘nature poet,’ writing about birds and trees. Writing about birds and trees is important, but ecopoetry includes the bulldozer that knocks the tree down and destroys the bird.”
Three main groupings of poetry compose the new genre, Newday says. As defined by Ann Fisher-Wirth and Laura Gray-Street, the editors Newday’s class textbook, The Ecopoetry Anthology, poetry that explores nature and the meaning of life falls into the first group. A second group includes environmental poetry with a more political slant that may address social justice issues and is often related to specific events. The third group includes poetry about ecology, often in more experimental forms.
“In this course we explored how the language of poetry has shaped and reflected changing perceptions of nature, ecology, and humanity over the past two centuries,” Newday says. “We looked at what poetry can contribute to current cultural and cross-cultural conversations about environmental justice and sustainability.”
Students at the reading in March read favorite poets they had studied, such as, yes, Mary Oliver, and also Alicia Suskin Ostriker, Ralph Black, G. E. Patterson, Deborah Miranda, Tony Hoagland, Robert Duncan, Lucille Clifton, Lola Haskins, Sandra Beasley, and Linda Hogan. Some students also read their own work.
“I’m not a big reader,” Sklar admits. “But I fell in love with this poetry. What I had hoped would happen, happened. The facts in science are great, but poetry gives us a way to connect to people who aren’t scientists.”
The ecopoetry course, Sklar adds, helped her to solidify an idea for her Senior Individualized Project that she’d been mulling over for about a year. Her interest in nature, biology, ecology, and human responses to all three came together in a plan to hike the entire Appalachian Trail. Along with a K alumna, Margaux Reckard ‘13, Sklar began 2,200-mile adventure a few days after the poetry course concluded (see “Where the TinyTent AT?” in this issue of BeLight).
“Poetry can help us question,” Newday says. “We are losing all kinds of diversity in our world, and cultures and languages are being lost along with biodiversity. Languages each give us a unique way to see the world and add perspective. Poetry can help us imagine possibilities … possible solutions to ecological crises.”
In her senior Capstone course, “CSA and Sustainability,” Newday digs even deeper into building connections between students and the earth. Along with textbooks, she hands them trowels, hoes, shovels and watering cans. She takes her students to her own CSA operation, Harvest of Joy Farm, where she and partner John Edgerton practice sustainable and organic methods of farming.
The Capstone course, Newday says, offers students the opportunity to explore and experience food systems, agriculture, community building, education, economics, business, and food justice as an alternative to the mainstream food economy. If that sounds like it’s dealing with a great many topics—it is, and that’s the everyday life of a farmer.
Part of the course will take place in the traditional campus classroom, and for at least three hours each week students will work on the farm. They will help plan the CSA business, prepare the soil for planting and then plant a wide assortment of seeds and plants, maintain compost and learn about permaculture, and maintain and harvest the garden. Students will also experience the business aspects of running a CSA, the marketing and selling of vegetables to community members, and the relationships built between farmer and community members.
The course will also involve an ongoing blog of farm activities, and a student-generated on-campus collaborative project. Students will participate in discussions about their experiences and observations working on the farm.
In informational sessions held prior to the beginning of the course, Newday and Edgerton met with students interested in learning more information before making a decision to enroll.
“I was surprised how much I loved running a CSA,” Newday says to the students gathered to hear about the course. “The relationships we developed through the CSA were very rewarding. There’s an instant gratification when you give good food to people, and you see how excited they are to receive it, taste it, and share it.”
The concept of a CSA, Newday tells the students, is not the traditional business model of trading cash for product. “A CSA offers people the opportunity to invest in the kind of world they want to live in.”
The Harvest of Joy Farm is in its fourth year. At the beginning of last summer’s (2013) growing season, 45 members paid for 28 shares and half-shares in the operation, which provided the funds to cover the costs of farming. In return, shareholders receive vegetables and fruits each week during harvest.
“The course will help students to better understand the economics of farming, especially on a small scale, and to consider how small farms fit into the larger agricultural economy, in the United States and across the world,” says Newday. “Along with learning about sustainable agricultural practices, students will learn how to critically consider what it means to make environmentally, socially, and ethically sound food choices.”
To learn more about the Kalamazoo College Capstone CSA experience, read student blog entries, and view photos, visit kzoocsa.blogspot.com. To learn more about Harvest of Joy Farm, LLC, visit harvestofjoyfarm.wordpress.com.