Three Sisters and a Nephew

A Periodic Column by Steve Duffy ’77, Library Circulation Specialist

Steve DuffyJuly 26, 2012

By this second fortnight of July, the excitement of Reunion and the Alumni Volunteer Work Project 2012 has passed, and the first co-op term has finished. Within a number of weeks, 75-something first-year students will arrive—the Class of 2016. Two students from that group arrived early, though, and are busy setting up some roots here on campus. They may even be working on some other roots as they are laboring some at the Antioch Farm!

The first co-op for students was in the region, so as students had their first work experience, they were also able to continue to deepen their connection with the community and with each other. Some worked in town and others worked in Kettering, Springfield, or Dayton. Jobs included: a water run-off project in Springfield, a daycare center in Kettering, the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery in Dayton, and affordable housing in Yellow Springs.

Like generations of Antiochians before them, the Class of 2015 seems to have instantly acquired world-class wanderlust, and also have bonded fast with alumni from diverse decades. Last night at the library, while talking about this subject with the seemingly most residential of our resident scholars (i.e. former college faculty), Peter Townsend (geologist, gentleman farmer), about how great it is for these new students to bond so fast with all the other decades. Peter postulated that this phenomenon is a result of the co-op experience. He speculated that early immersion in intense multigenerational settings, such as co-op, makes Antiochians less generationally insular than more sequestered peers at non co-op institutions. One wonders!

For example, at the Reunion Work Project, Elijah Blanton ’15, who worked at both the Boonshoft and the Olive Kettering Library during his co-op term, bonded with Robert Hernblad ’62. Robert was part of the volunteer army replacing our old Olive Kettering lights with greener bulbs. A few e-mails and a couple of weeks or so later, Elijah, Kaleigh Harris ’15, and Justin Moore ’15 were on a typical “Antioch Adventure” by car—destination, Philadelphia and New York. They were given the grand invite, Antioch-style, to come and stay at Robert’s house.

After Elijah, Kaleigh, and Justin arrived, other Philadelphia chapter members gravitated over to meet the “next generation.” So before you could say Art Bily, Bob Parker, or Tom Haugsby, Judy Voet ’63, Nick Sanders ’62, Nathaniel Clark ’97, Mitzi Coope ’57, and others all came to a potluck. Justin cooked a sumptuous pork shoulder, and the dinner conversation turned to comparing institutional experiences and directions.

During the meal, Nick Sanders looked at Elijah and said he found Elijah’s face awfully, awfully familiar. Turns out Nick had been involved with the Legacy Foundation, which contributed to the Frankford Friend’s school in Philly, the only lower-income Friends middle school in Philadelphia. Elijah’s mom worked there and had once given Nick a tour. Additionally, Nick knew Elijah’s dad at the University of Texas at Austin. The world keeps getting smaller!

To pack as much into their pre-summer term sojourn as possible, Elijah, Kaleigh, and Justin next contacted Noreen Dean Dresser ’77, a New York chapter co-leader, and were given another Antioch-style invite. In a hot minute, they were staying at her huge Harlem brownstone. And as in Philadelphia, there was food and hospitality (and, I hear, some of the world’s most amazing Italian food). And, before you could say Bud Hogarty or Dan Hotaling ’51, several Big Apple Antiochians soon materialized for food, fellowship, and some festive networking. Matthew Arnold ’98, Cynthia Beth Rubin ’72, Aaron Gruenberg ’82, Jeff Wood ’88 (NYC chapter leader), Lynda White ’88, Sonia Jaffee Robbins ’65, and others soon popped up. By the time Elijah, Kaleigh, and Justin had finished their Big Apple sojourn, they had a great taste of local cuisine as well as multigenerational mentoring and Antiochian hospitality.

Elijah told me that some young Antioch alumni lawyer had them travelling around in a private car, and on July 4 they had a sixteenth floor panoramic view of the New York City fireworks display from the offices of Publishers Weekly, where there may be a promise of a co-op.

Mitzi Cooper called me to tell me how awesome these kids were and I had better let them know about the Publishers Weekly possibility. Nothing like a Philadelphia Antiochian keeping an eye on possible NYC co-ops!

Kaleigh, Elijah, and Justin are back and have their noses to quite an intense grindstone. I am seeing them less and miss them.

But, there’s lots going on here on campus to distract me from missing folks. North Hall’s renovation is finishing up, and grass seed has been planted over the geothermal wells. I also now and then will peek in on the farm on the south end of campus to see how well it is faring in this summer of intense heat. The last time I went over there, a group of high school kids were touring it, but I managed to find the farm’s director, Kat Christen, wearing her big straw hat. The tomatoes and chard were thriving and the farm is fighting a groundhog for the cabbage.

Kat said, pointing, “Well, over there, are the three sisters.” The three sisters are squash, beans, and corn. For those of you who may have taken a Walt Tulecke nutrition course, you know about their nutritional and symbiotic relationship—a perfect threesome. Maybe as perfect as our three who just had their first bit of Antiochian wanderlust.

After a brisk look at the farm I retreated back to the library and some air conditioning. Moments later, my phone rang. It was Kevin Everhart ’89, a former Environmental Field Program leader and admissions intern. He said, “My nephew from Maryland is visiting eastern Ohio, and it would great if he could swing by for a visit and tell me how things are there. I sure miss the place! It might be a great experience for my nephew.” I told him as much I as I could and then said, “Wait a minute, one of your old mentors is just ten feet away. Want to say hi?” I passed the phone to Peter Townsend and heard some laughter and chatter.

Like the three sisters and the three Antiochians who have just gone chapter hopping, it is amazing to see the energy that emerges from combining seemingly diverse elements. Like the nutritional three sisters on the farm, out of these combinations of Antiochians comes energy that feeds the body, mind, and heart.

A last thought to ponder. While watching a PBS special the other day, I heard that the written word conveys about seven percent of communication between humans. So these few words are only a small amount of what is happening at Antioch College. If you are curious enough to get the remaining 93 percent, a visit from you at some point might help. I guess I have just grazed the surface because so much happens here all the time. I’ll keep my pen at the ready for the next column, but I hope to have your name here as a visitor!