The Unexpected Nomad
By Laura Frank ’92
In September, Laura Frank left her blooming career as a live event technical producer to travel the world with her husband, Dan. With no final destination in sight they are discovering that, for arts entrepreneurs, occupation is where you find yourself.
In 1990, Kristin Anderson (’95) and I flew to Aruba for spring break to go camping. Kristin made it all sound so easy that I figured she must have a plan. It wasn’t until we could see the island from the plane window that I asked, “So, where are we staying tonight?” I’m not sure how loudly I shouted, “What do you mean you don’t know?” but I could tell by Kristin’s face it was quite embarrassing. Thus began my initiation into travel by wandering. I was a very slow learner.
Fast forward to 2005. My boyfriend Dan suggested we go on vacation together to Oaxaca. He had traveled through Mexico before, solo and without an itinerary, so we had to make a deal to travel in a way that suited us both. I wanted to know where I was sleeping the night we arrived and the night before we flew home, and he could leave everything in between unplanned. Baby steps, people.
Marlboro College is perfect for wanderers: an academic environment with no plan until you make one. You can carve your own path. Things may change along the way. There will be unexpected challenges. Yet at the core it’s your education by your design. It’s entrepreneurial in nature. At Marlboro I had a support system that would let me explore academically, take risks, and find my way, and through it all I always knew I had a home.
I took that entrepreneurial spirit with me in my career. Based on my Plan in theater and physics, I became a technical producer in the live event industry and worked in concerts, television, and theater. I built my career by following my interests and seeing where my skills fit and where they needed to grow. The confidence I gained from my experience at Marlboro allowed me to continue to explore and take risks in my work, eventually establishing a new discipline in technical theater.
I also found that I was traveling about half the year and getting quite good at some structured wandering. On the wrong side of immigration in Hong Kong? No problem. Looking for a ferry in Rio de Janeiro? I’m your girl. In time, planning for a full year of wandering became a goal for me and Dan, now my husband.
We thought we would fly to Alaska, buy a truck, and drive to Tierra del Fuego. Or maybe we’d pick 12 cities and live in each one for a month. It wasn’t long before we were talking about giving up our apartment, selling the car, and taking a break from our current jobs to become digital nomads long term. Wandering wouldn’t just be a goal with a time limit, it could be home if we figured out how to sustain it.
By now we are somewhere in Kenya or Tanzania and six months into this experiment. We’re not exactly sure how we will generate our future income, but we’re looking at various possibilities and hope that by mid-2020 we’ll have some new enterprise in place. I know from past experience there is always a way to land on your feet, even with no clear plan in place. In the meantime, we’re enjoying the happy accidents of wandering that come our way. Watch it unfold at instagram.com/love__and__wander/.
Class notes are listed by year and include both graduates and nongraduates; the latter are listed under the class with which they are associated.
“I recently published a book of poetry titled Inside Outside, available on Amazon,” says JONATHAN POTTER. “I’m close to completing my class in history of the theater at UMA-Rockland. There are a good number of students this year, and the director has asked that the course be taught again in the fall.”
“People always talk about how horrible old age is, but I couldn’t disagree more,” says writer DEBORAH EISENBERG in a feature profile in the New York Times Magazine subtitled “Chronicle of American Insanity.” “I find age is as intense as adolescence. You know you could hurtle off a cliff at any second. And because of that there’s a sense of destiny, of apprehending things, of love that isn’t available—or wasn’t available to me—earlier. You feel: I’ve survived this ordeal, and now I don’t have to worry. I know how my life has worked out. All the anxiety that I put into the hard questions has fallen away. I can take my satisfactions where they are.” Learn more.
BILL BARKENTIN shares that several pieces of antique furniture collected by him and PETER DEVEIKIS ’71 over more than three decades were part of an exhibition at the Massachusetts Historical Society titled “Entrepreneurship and Classical Design in Boston’s South End: The Furniture of Isaac Vose & Thomas Seymour, 1815 to 1825.” In a cover story about the exhibition in Antiques and the Arts Weekly, the “vast private collection” referred to is Bill and Peter’s. “I find it gratifying that Peter’s great scholarship, pioneering interest in classical furniture, and wonderful collector’s eye are receiving this recognition. I think he would be pleased,” writes Bill.
ABBY JACOBSON says, “For the past two and a half years, I’ve been working as a program coordinator at a small nonprofit called Putney Community Cares. We recently merged with Putney Family Services, which allows us to work with Putney residents of all ages, so I look forward to collaborating with our local schools, residents, and families, to name but a few.”
“My work is all about a reinterpretation of nature,” says DAVID LITTLE, in an August article in the New Hampshire Union Leader titled “Man of Steel: Meredith Blacksmith Forges Ahead.” Learn more.
“Greetings all from San Francisco,” writes BRIAN RICHARD. “Wow, 23 years? And back in Haight Ashbury, where I started from. I moved here from Miami Beach, Florida, in 1995, so I guess I like the oceans. Someday will learn to surf, soon I hope...I did graduate with an RHIT (Registered Health Information Technology) from AHIMA and obtained certifications in ICD-9-CM and CPT-4 codings, so time shall tell. Hope Vermont winter is tolerable, and the snow flows well with the maple syrup.”
“From climate change to species extinction, humanity is confronted with an increasing array of societal and environmental challenges that defy simple quantifiable solutions,” says the description of CHARLES CURTIN’s new book, Complex Ecology (Cambridge University Press, 2018, co-edited by T. H. F. Allen). “Complexity-based ecology provides a new paradigm for ecologists and conservationists keen to embrace the uncertainty that is pressed upon us.”
Samuel Dowe-Sandes ’96: Making Tiles in Marrakech
“I grew up in a house surrounded by beauty, which certainly helped lead me to where I am, despite not having any formal design training,” says Samuel Dowe-Sandes, son of local artists Roger Sandes and Mary Welsh. Together with his wife, Caitlin, in 2007 Samuel founded Popham Design, a design studio and tile workshop based in Marrakech, Morocco, following a yearlong sabbatical there.
“We bought and renovated a small house and discovered a wide variety of Moroccan artisanal crafts, including handmade concrete tiles,” says Samuel. “We loved the product, but decided it would be fun to add our own contemporary designs to a traditional manufacturing process. By the end of our sabbatical we had already finished a business plan and were approaching investors and distributors.”
Now Popham’s tiles are exported throughout the world, adorning hotels, restaurants, and residences from San Francisco to Sydney, and have received international coverage from high-profile design and fashion magazines like Architectural Digest and Elle. Samuel loves a lot of things about being an entrepreneur, but especially enjoys bridging a traditional Moroccan craft with a contemporary design sense. He and Caitlin have learned a lot more about Morocco by having a business there.
“We’ve met a lot of interesting people along the way, and have tried to learn from all of them,” says Samuel, who also credits his Marlboro experience with preparing him for the entrepreneurial life. “Marlboro helped me hone the ability to look at a problem from many points of view. Running a business means dealing with a lot of questions, and being a critical thinker is key to that.”
MARK ROESSLER’s new book, A Panoramic Tour of the Northampton State Hospital, came out in November from Levellers Press. This is a unique document of the historic building that was demolished in 2006. The book includes over 50 panoramas circumnavigating the original structure and looking inside. Learn more.
“I am currently in Kazakhstan, serving at the US Embassy,” says JOHN SURFACE. “I’ve been with the State Department for 13 years, cutting a swath through the belt of transition states in Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the former Soviet Union, and Central Asia. As with all roads we find ourselves wandering down, I can recall how I got here but never can pinpoint a conscious decision that forged the route. I stare at the regional map on occasion, wondering if the path is more Silk Road or Trans-Siberian Railway. There’s a smattering of old world Islamic architecture, kebab huts, and post-Soviet apartment blocks on the older streets here in Astana surrounded by the Dubai-meets-Vegas triumphalism and ornamental promenades of Nazarbayev’s new science-fiction capital. Utterly weird, thoroughly unique. This journey all began with seven years teaching in Poland, starting in 1995, first at the University of Gdansk, then as director of the American School of Gdynia. It’s now 23 years later into this life on the road, and I don’t feel a day over 25. In my head. The kids are 16 and 10, and our daughter will finish high school here. I know I have been busy. There have been years of toil and travel and wonder. I have no idea where all the years went. But I do know that my years at Marlboro set me down this path, and that Robert Frost described this sensation best. As did the Talking Heads.”
“I’m excited to be a part of innovation around the rural economy, in the usual areas of forestry and agriculture of course but also in the digital and creative economies,” said SARA COFFEY, who was elected to serve in the Vermont House of Representatives in November. “I’m looking forward to learning how to get things done, how to pull the levers, figuring out the systems, build collaboration.” Learn more.
ALEX GARDNER reports, “I have a book coming out in May, The Life of Jamgon Kongtrul the Great, from Shambhala Publications. He was a highly influential Tibetan religious leader of the nineteenth century. It’s a full-length biography that gets into the weeds of how he trained, achieved renown, and interacted with the people and historical events of his era.” Learn more at shambhala.com/life-of-jamgon-kongtrulthe- great.html. “In the meantime I’m still running the Treasury of Lives, an online biographical encyclopedia of Tibet and the surrounding regions (treasuryoflives.org).”
ALICIA BRELSFORD DANA was once again chosen for the 2019 US Paralympics Cycling National Team. She made her first US Paralympics Cycling National Team in 2001 and competed at the 2002 world championships, but then stepped away from the sport for several years to raise her daughter, Willa. She returned to handcycling in 2011, has been on Team USA since 2012, and won the overall world cup titles in 2015 and 2017 and silver medal in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games for road time trial.
In January, “JAC” JODI CLARK MSM’14 offered an experiential learning session on peer-to-peer mentoring at the monthly chapter meeting of the Greater Monadnock Society for Human Resource Management. The session, titled “Dynamic Duos,” provided a framework for peer-to-peer mentoring and supervision, with a focus on building skills in emotional intelligence, active listening, giving and receiving productive feedback, and integrating continuing learning.
“I ran for office because I wanted government to truly be a representation of our community’s needs,” says EMILIE KORNHEISER, who was elected to the Vermont House of Representatives in November. “In committee and on the floor, I will help my colleagues to understand how each piece of our system works together, and how it affects our communities on the ground.” Learn more.
“Gather round, folks. Pull up a chair. Grab a drink. Make yourself comfortable... while you still can. There’s a maniac loose in society, and he’s here to tell you some stories,” so promises the back cover of MATT SPENCER’s new book, Story Time with Crazy Uncle Matt (Back Roads Carnival Books, 2018). According to his bio, Matt has been a “journalist, New Orleans restaurant cook, factory worker, radio DJ, and a no-good ramblin’ bum. He’s also a song lyricist, playwright, actor, and martial artist. As of this writing, he lives in Brattleboro, Vermont.”
In November, WILLOW O’FERAL presented a screening and discussion of Break the Silence, her important documentary on women’s sexual and reproductive health in Vermont, in Ragle Hall. The film was followed by a panel discussion by women from the film. “New Day Films has just accepted Break the Silence for educational distribution, which means I will now be able to get the film out to a much wider audience, and the film will soon be available for use by colleges, universities, libraries, nonprofits and high schools all across the country,” says Willow. Learn more at breakthesilencedoc.com.
“I still work for a community mental health agency,” says TALIA JACKSON. “In the last year I started using EMDR to treat trauma, and I’m in a slow crawl to become a licensed clinical social worker. I am still in touch with classmates from Marlboro and consider them my best friends.”
Evan Lorenzen ’13: Creation Continued…
When Evan Lorenzen graduated from Marlboro with a Plan in visual arts, the sky seemed to be the limit for his creative endeavors. Appropriately, he is now living in the “mile-high city” of Denver, pursuing many forms of art—from large paintings to graphic design, animation to wine labels— and making a living at it.
“I would not be in my current circumstances without the skill sets that I acquired at Marlboro,” says Evan, who created the animated videos for Marlboro’s Beautiful Minds Challenge for the last five years. “Marlboro and its ingenious professors, staff, and students provided me with not only innumerable techniques but also the critical-thinking and problem-solving skills required to push myself and my work to further and further levels.”
Soon after moving to Denver, Evan began working in miniature, making “tiny books” and other miniature paintings and illustrations without the use of magnifying instruments, such as a recent detail of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks painted on a spoon. His unique skills are well adapted to tattoo art, which he provides at All Sacred Tattoo Studio, a group enterprise with a strong community-engagement focus.
“Besides being in an environment that promotes creativity and altruism, I really love tattooing because I interact with a wide range of fascinating individuals while practicing a craft that I am passionate about. I really enjoy being, in a way, a visual translator for my clients by helping them modify their bodies with imagery that is very personal and significant to them.”
“These images interrogate how surveillance technology has changed our relationship to—and understanding of—landscape and place in the current geopolitical climate,” says MARCUS DESIENO in his artist’s statement for the Review Santa Fe Photo Festival, where he presented his show No Man’s Land: Views from a Surveillance State. “The resulting visual product becomes located from its automated origins and leads to an investigation of land, of borders, and power.” Marcus’s work earned him CENTER director’s choice second place award, but more importantly the admiration of VAUNE TRACHTMAN ’89 and BRIAN MOONEY ’90, who attended the festival and were thrilled to meet him.
Congratulations to GENAM YESHI, who published a Tibetan translation of Plato’s Phaedo. Philosophy professor William Edelglass visited Genam while at a conference in Dharamsala, India, last year.
DAVID AMATO published a spy novel under the pseudonym Donatella Amarna, called Le Tigre Russe. Learn more.
MICHAEL SCHNEEWEIS, of Michael Jordan Touchdown Pass, was one of five Marlboro alumni and students featured in an indie music playlist of Brattleboro musicians past and present on BTRtoday's Spotlight on the City. Also included were ASA SHADIS ’19 and ALEX LAWSURE ’19 of A Million Yellow Flowers, AMBER SCHAEFER ’10 of Starfawn, and BELLA ORTIZ-WREN ’18, rounding out Marlboro’s solid representation on this playlist. Hear them.
JOHN MCGILL and math professor Matt Ollis have co-authored a paper titled “On the asymptotic growth of bipartite graceful permutations,” in the research journal Discrete Mathematics. “The purpose of this paper was to explore the number of ways one can make graceful permutations as the size of the list increases,” said John. The paper grew out of research John had done with Matt while a Marlboro student, and was the basis of one of his Plan papers. Learn more.
CHRIS LAMB gave a paper based on his Plan at the annual meeting of the International Association of Environmental Philosophy, and came home with the prize for best graduate student essay. “It was a validation of the work I have put in at Marlboro, the guidance I received there, and the overall preparation for continued work in academia. It was encouraging, considering my desire to continue on to graduate school.” Learn more.
Alex Fischer MBA ’14: Dismantling Capitalism
“Most of us don’t want to think about our relationship to money, because we are taught and raised to believe that capitalism is the air we breathe,” says Alex Fischer, founder of Open Bookkeeping and co-founder of The Root Social Justice Center, both in Brattleboro, Vermont. “I got into bookkeeping because I wanted to help support economies that are alternatives to capitalism.”
When Alex moved to Vermont from California and started Open Bookkeeping, they quickly realized that they wanted to use finance to work with businesses and alternative economies based on justice-oriented values and principles. For Alex, getting their MBA was about helping justice-based businesses, co-ops, nonprofits, and individuals thrive.
“My Marlboro MBA really gave me time to figure out this bizarre place I live and work in: the intersection of finance and social justice,” says Alex. “Spending two and a half years learning about and challenging notions of success and traditional business metrics allowed me to better understand my foundational values and perspectives.”
Alex helped co-found The Root in 2013, with the goal to create a co-working space for justice-based businesses and community organizing. As of 2017 The Root focuses on racial justice organizing in Vermont and the region led by people of color, and Alex has continued to fundraise and maintain finances for the organization as a way to support people-of-color leadership.
“Justice-based economies are made up of an ecosystem of organizations, businesses, co-ops, individuals—we need them to be resilient, successful and values-based, but we also need them to keep their doors open and pay their employees, worker-owners, contractors, and other parties.”
In November, SUZANNE BANSLEY MBA’11 facilitated a workshop on “Listening Effectively” at the former Marlboro College Graduate Center. Suzanne covered nine listening pitfalls and nine listening techniques in this interactive workshop, part of a Toastmasters International series.
“A lot of what we talk about is what AmeriCorps members do for the community, and one of the things we don’t talk about as much is what AmeriCorps does for the person who is serving,” says PHILIP KOLLING MSM’14, executive director of SerVermont. He was quoted in a Bernie Sanders video announcing the allocation of $3 million in federal funds for AmeriCorps. Learn more.
“The working landscape and small farms in Vermont are still the best incubator for having people live in Vermont and be in Vermont and make business in Vermont,” said EMMET DUNBAR MSM’14 in the Fall 2018 issue of SoVermont Arts and Living. In an article titled “Farming Couples, Doing Less…Achieving More,” Emmett and his wife, Lini, describe how they transformed their South Londonderry farm into a more streamlined and profitable enterprise. “Lini and I have not just worked to develop our farm’s products for ourselves, we have been instrumental in creating the alternative food and local agricultural economy in Vermont,” he added. Learn more.
“I have been impressed for many years by the Amherst Survival Center’s commitment to leverage volunteers, donations, and advocacy to create inclusive community, starting by meeting people’s most basic needs,” said K. LEV BEN-EZRA MSM’17. In December, Lev was appointed as the new executive director of the center, which provides support for low-income residents throughout the Amherst, Massachusetts, region. Learn more.
AMANDA MEHEGAN MBA’18 has been selected to participate in the 2018-2019 Vermont Changemakers Table organized by Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility and the High Meadows Fund. Part of a cohort of 25 young Vermonters committed to positive change, Amanda will meet with her group quarterly for dinner, conversation, and inspiration from Vermont thought leaders. A second Marlboro MBA alum, ALEX FISCHER MBA’14, was also selected for this honor.
JASMIN BEY COWIN MAT’17 writes, “I am now a full-time assistant professor responsible for course migration from Blackboard to Canvas in the TESOL department at Touro College. In October, I will start my fellowship at Columbia University in Educational Leadership and Policy with an eye on moving out of Westchester in 2021. I am hoping to find something in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, or Vermont, however, everything and anything is possible, including international. Marlboro was a great experience.”
Responding to the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in October, former president TOM RAGLE said in a letter to the editor of the Brattleboro Reformer, “This was more than an act of anti-Semitism. It was a crime against humanity. I am human. It was a crime against my brothers and sisters, against me. Only when we are able to see a crime such as this not as a crime against Jews or Muslims or Blacks or Native Americans but a crime against humanity, against us, against me, will we realize the peace we so desperately and unsuccessfully seek.”
Faculty Emerita LAURA STEVENSON’s latest project is reviewing all new fiction and nonfiction written by Vermont authors, starting with 2018. “The reviews appear in the Deerfield Valley News, but they also appear on the opening page of my website: lauracstevenson.org,” she says. “The idea, besides giving Vermont authors credit that many of them don’t get because they publish with small presses, is to give readers a bibliography of what local writers are writing.”
In September, retiring visual arts faculty members Cathy Osman and Tim Segar presented three concurrent exhibits, two at the college—in the Snyder and Drury Galleries—and one in downtown Brattleboro at the Catherine Dianich Gallery. The shows included painting, prints, and sculpture taken from several parts of their career, including new work.
“Greetings from Guatemala,” writes CAROL HENDRICKSON, anthropology faculty emerita. She was there as a volunteer with the Maya Educational Foundation English language program, working with Maya university students who want to improve their English language proficiency. “I did the TESOL certificate program with Bev Burkett . . . thank you, Marlboro College, for that opportunity.” Then Carol went to Tecpán Guatemala, where she has research for many years. “I’m here visiting friends and also preparing to write about my experiences over the past (nearly) 40 years (Yipes!). The plan is that I and another anthropologist who has worked in Tecpán will have this book manuscript translated and published in Spanish.”