Nonstop Festival Week Digest

By Eva Erickson, Dennie Eagleson, Jonny No, Lincoln Alpern, John Hempfling

Early in the visioning of the Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute curriculum planning there was an idea suggested for a Festival Week – a week of enrichment where regular teaching schedules would be suspended, and a schedule of class presentations, visiting alumni lectures, films, symposiums, and performances would be organized. Festival Week for the spring semester happened last week, and brought a variety of alumni presenters, workshops and activities which were attended enthusiastically by the local community and people from the greater Miami Valley.

Festival Week kicked off with a presentation and discussion facilitated by Chad Johnston ’01. Johnston currently serves as the Executive Director at The People’s Channel, a community media center and public access television station located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Mapping the media landscape and charting it’s relationship to the political realities encountered (or not) through the practice of media production (or not) experienced by members of a small community like Yellow Springs prompted a multitude of questions from residents regarding the options available for media delivery here in the Village. Specifically, Johnston aided in the exploration of the rights of community members to determine the transport mechanisms, mediums, protocols and policies comprising systems which are not only capable of delivery and profitable for the corporations that control them, but also beneficial to the formation of rich, diverse communities, compatible with the exercise of democracy and conducive to the development of media literacy in the context of our post-www information economies.

On Tuesday evening, Chris Farber, Antioch 2004 alum, presented “Urban Agriculture and Food Systems Design”. Chris currently is the outreach coordinator at the East End Food Co-op in Pittsburgh, where she is principally responsible for communication with local farmers and growers. She presented a number of innovations in urban agriculture that are happening across the country, including Victory Gardens, small plot intensive farming, roof gardens, and edible tree canopies. Chris introduced a number of projects that connect the reclamation of vacant lots in low-income neighborhoods to engage community members in the production of food and biofuels as an empowerment and green economic revitalization project. Chris’ interest in social justice and agriculture was developed as a student at Antioch, first through her co-op in Guinea, West Africa working in a community garden, and later through Environmental Studies and social justice work on the Ohio River.

On Wednesday at two o’clock, Antiochian Values, a student-led discussion group, brainstormed ways to better bring the spirit of the Consensual Sexual Interaction Policy (CSIP) and Guidelines for an Anti-Racist Institution (GARI), which are both Nonstop versions of the SOPP and RDPP, into the Nonstop and greater Yellow Springs community. The discussion on the first topic was relatively brief as there will be an SOPP panel later in the term, and various ideas have been floated for addressing issues covered in the GARI, one or two of which will probably be realized in the coming months. Bringing the spirit of these policies into the village was the highlight of the discussion, as people were excited to address this new topic. Everyone agreed that this would be a long-term process, but that it would be good to start that process now. Together the group came up with a plan to approach local business owners to endorse and display window stickers that state something along the lines of “anti-racist environment” or “harrasment-free zone”, as a first step in fostering a culture of consensual sexual interaction and anti-racism in Yellow Springs. The meeting decided that Antiochian Values would collaborate with the Diversity Committee on this project. The Diversity Committee has brought this idea to the Chamber of Commerce and the Human Relations Commission, and is now using their feedback in the continuation of the process.

Linda Butler

Later that night, Linda Butler presented a slide show of her photographs of Italy, rural Japan, the Yangtze River areas of China, and old Shaker communities in the US. She captures and plays with light in an almost spiritual way that makes everything look like it was intricately placed for the moment she pressed the shutter. Butler started to use this romanticized aesthetic when she went on her co-op in Japan, which was one of her most life-changing experiences. Her latest book, entitled Yangtze Remembered: the River Beneath the Lake, focuses on the cities and landscapes that would be/are being destroyed or drastically changed by the Three Gorges Dam, which she documents with before and after pictures. She became fascinated by the timelessness of the villages on the river, so much that she made exceptions to her still-life rule of thumb to take pictures of some of the people she met from the villages. Her current project is even further away from her usual style: digital video animation for environmental justice causes.

Linda Butler's slide show presentation
Julia and Lela
Colette Palamar

Thursday afternoon brought a hands-on workshop in Funky, Fermented Foods, presented by Colette Palamar, Nonstop Environmental Sustainability Studies faculty, and Erin Winter, recent graduate of Antioch College. The afternoon was packed with lively demonstrations and delicious food tasting. Colette demonstrated home-made sauerkraut, a wild sourdough bread, and tempeh made from soybeans. Erin demonstrated how to make a kind of farmer cheese, garnished separately with herbs, honey and almonds, and salt, olive oil, and ground pepper. The workshop participants left with containers of sourdough starter and packages of tempeh-to-be, bellies full of tantalizing new tastes, and a new appreciation of microbacteria.

Julia and Lela
Colette Palamar and Molly Thorton, Nonstop student
Julia and Lela
Colette Palamar

First Breath of Tengan Rei was shown Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at the Little Art Theatre. The film addresses the history of violent crimes committed by US service personell in South East Asia, and examines the nature of justice. Ten years after being kidnapped and raped, Tengan Rei pursues her ex-kidnappers in Chicago in her search for justice. The film is perfectly edited and paced, tastefully utilizing flashbacks to work through the story and examine the effects of trauma and guilt on different characters. The film was very cohesive and focused; complex relationships — between kidnapper and kidnap victim, between father and son — develop thoroughly using minimal dialogue and without breaking the plot flow.