On Friday, April 3rd, ExCil appointed to the Alumni Board Taskforce Molly Thorton of Class of ’10, staff member Carole Braun and Chris Hill of the Executive collective. The Alumni Board representatives have not been appointed yet. The Taskforce is a result of the March 7th the Alumni Board resolution “to foster collaboration and build consensus with representatives of the key stakeholders… Nonstop, the Board Pro Tem, and the Alumni Board.” The Taskforce was charged to develop the proposal presented by Nonstop to the Alumni Board so it could be presented to the Board Pro Tem. The Pro Tem Board has subsequently declared that they will not be sending representatives to the Taskforce, because “part of the board should not be involved in making a proposal to themselves,” according to Matthew Derr.
Meanwhile, TAG (Transition Advisory Group) met for the first time Tuesday, April 7th. Appointed by Matthew Derr, TAG currently includes student Jeanne Kay, Community Manager Chelsea Martens, Faculty Jean Gregorek, Executive Collective member Hassan Rahmanian, staff person Joan Meadows, Head of Alumni Relations Aimee Maruyama, Alumni Board member Ellen Borgersen, and Yellow Springs Village Council President Judith Hempfling. At the Tuesday meeting TAG defined its charge: “The Transition Advisory Group will work to facilitate communication between stakeholders in Yellow Springs and in the larger Antiochian community during the transition towards an independent Antioch College. It will advise Chief Transition Officer Matthew Derr for the Pro Tem Board.”
“The next few months are going to be extremely difficult,” said Jeanne Kay the spokesperson for the group, “Nonstop’s faculty and staff’s livelihoods and lifeworks are endangered, there is a multiplicity of visions for the new Antioch, and rebuilding the college will take a lot of work. TAG, hopefully, will tend to the community’s concerns, open communication channels between the Pro Tem Board and the Yellow Springs community, and do creative problem-solving as a group of committed Antiochians that have been part of the struggle since the beginning.”
Also on the 3rd, in accordance with a proposal brought by the Executive Collective, ExCil created a ten-person Advisory Group to help coordinate the efforts of Nonstop community members working in the Alumni Board Taskforce, TAG and Nonstop Community Goverment. The following were appointed to the Group: students Jonny No and Shea Witzberger; staff Donna Evans and Nancy Wilburn; Faculty Dennie Eagleson, Bob Devine and Nevin Mercede; Executive Collective member Susan Eklund-Leen and Beverly Rodgers; and Community Manager Meghan Pergrem. At the ExCil meeting ExCol member Chris Hill explained the history and rationale behind the advisory group: “One of the first ideas that the Executive collective floated was a larger, perhaps between 5 and 7 members of the Taskforce coming from Nonstop [but] Nancy [Crow] seems to want to keep the group smaller. So, we decided what might work, effectively, would be to have an advisory committee… that would serve as an advisory committee not only to the Taskforce but also to the folks that are going to be part of TAG.”
After I left Yellow Springs […] I went to work for Anti-Racist Action, in Columbus. […]
What did you guys do there?
We were and are (I’m still involved with the organization, I just don’t work there full-time. We don’t have a national office and staff of six. We’re just a decentralized network now; we don’t have the resources we used to have in the 90’s) [We get out of the Car] but we’re a direct-action anti-fascist organization. We go and smash-up klan rallies, quite literally. No, really, fascism can’t be debated, it has to be destroyed. [Opens door] (Come in, welcome to my humble abode.)
We enter his living room, which is starkly white and empty. About one third of the room is taken up with cardboard boxes. The only pieces of furniture are the coffee table holding his ash tray and his bed which he promptly sits on. Clearly he’s just moved in.
This old civil-rights attorney that used to work with us, he goes, “Gerry, why are you wasting your time on that crap?” (Here, pull up a milk crate. Sorry, I haven’t built chairs yet, I’ve only got as far as a trash can, a bed and a desk.) He goes, “why do you waste your time with that?” I’m like, “Cause they’re sayin’ X, Y, Z.” He goes, “Well talk is shit man. Talk is shit.” He goes, “Look, we’re talking about politics and they’re talking about us and if you’re a true humble servant of the people, [CLAP] than you’re nothing, you’re just an implement. So, if you’re talking about politics and they’re talking about you, they’re talking about nothing, so whose got something to say? Shut up and do your job.”
And it’s the same kinda thing you know, it’s like, if there is one problem about Nonstop, it’s that it spends too much time talking about Nonstop and not enough time talking about the world. Or talks about what Antioch has done and can do. […] Ya know, I’ve a guilty pleasure or two and one of them is that I watch Battlestar Galactica. And there’s a quote in it and it’s like, “It’s not enough to fight hard, we have to behave in a way that we deserve to survive.” We gotta ask ourselves what have we done, what have we achieved, what are we intending to achieve that makes this project something where we deserve to survive. (So, I’m going to break down boxes while I do this.)
[…] What did you do on your co-ops?
[…] My next co-op I went to Dixie Idaho. I was working on this thing called the Cove Mallard Campaign, it was an Earth-First campaign. […] Cove Mallard was an environmental campaign to stop the putting in of clear cuts in part of a national forest that adjoined three roadless wilderness areas which would have made the roadless wilderness areas no longer contiguous. Thus the smallest of them, it would decrease their biological diversity of them because some really wild species like grizzlies won’t cross a road. Wolves will not cross a road. So if you drive in a lot of roads a wolf pack that’s in this area, that could migrate through all this area, is going to be just here, it’s gonna lose its genetic diversity, it’s going to inbreed and die off. So, I was there for the second summer of an ultimately successful seven-year campaign to stop clear-cutting in this area. That was a really hard co-op. That was really, really, really hard. It was physically really fucking demanding. Because of the altitude, we were a mile up in the air. We were in the most remote place that people live in the lower forty-eight states. Right? Like the outhouse that I took a dump in every morning looked out over a canyon that no one had ever lived in. The Native Americans had never lived in this canyon. […]
So, you’re at altitude, you’re living in really, really primitive conditions, you’re living in tents and makeshift shelters. We had to truck in our own gasoline. ‘Cause the locals were all riled up about how environmentalists take your jobs, so nobody would sell us gasoline. Or we couldn’t stop. If one of our cars stopped in the town that we were outside of, which was Dixie, people would come out of their houses and beat us to death, if your car didn’t get moving. People would drive past our land and shoot at us once or twice a week.
Because we were gay, hippie, environmentalist Jews from New York. Probably communists, too. It was literally that kind of ugly. The first sign that you saw as you had to drive through Dixie (and Dixie was like three houses and a couple of trailers and a hotel/gas station on one side of the street and post office/general store on the other. There’s literally more […] and horses than pick-ups. Like really really Wild West. As you pull into Dixie, and you’ve already not been on a paved road for about a half-an-hour the first thing you see is a poster of some hippie hanging by his neck with some kinda bird-legs coming out of his ass, presumably a spotted-owl. With bullet holes in the picture and it says 100-yard target, and it’s 50-yards from a dudes front door. […] Every business, the next town up Elk City, all the way out ’till you got to the county seat, Gringeville, which is about the size of Yellow Springs […] there are little blue index cards right as you walk into any business that says […] “This business supports the timber industry and its views. If these are not your views we invite you to take your business elsewhere. Thank you.”
That’s the toxic culture that people are afraid of. There was an activism where people took risks for stuff. That’s what they’re trying to kill here; it’s not just that people’ve got analysis but that people have got the guts to go to Cove Malard or People’s Park or Big Mountian. Probably hundreds of Antioch students have put in their time at Big Mountain. All the other campaigns where people are people and risk there asses to do something. Why do we deserve to survive? It’s cause we put our asses on the line for shit.
There’s real reasons why the status quo wants this place closed. There’s more to our heritage than community and co-op and classroom and critical thought. It’s our praxis that they’re afraid of. Everyone that goes on co-op takes some shitty job, at least once, under bad circumstances and can survive and prosper in a hostile environment because it’s part of what they feel they need to do at that moment in their life to advance with their life and since our lives are about social justice that means we’re a school that trains people to undergo hardship. Whatever hardship that they can take and as much hardship as they can take in pursuit of what we believe in. So, yeah, they want us fucking gone. They want us right the hell off the map.
Things look good for us to win in a lot of ways. If you read the situation that you find us in right now, from Sun Tzu, Sun Tzu would say that we’re on what he calls heavy ground.
[…]Heavy ground is where you allow yourself to be put in a terrain disadvantage, outnumbered and threatened with annihilation because if you put yourself on heavy ground everybody will fight to death and therefore you’ll win. Now we didn’t necessarily put ourselves on heavy ground but this looks like heavy ground to me. Having been in a quite a few scraps this is looking like heavy ground, man. So, I guess we’re just going to win! [We laugh!]
What do you do working for Nonstop?
[…]I came to help in anyway a could. […] Casselli did a lot of the design work. Meg and Tim and I threw out ideas of things we wanted to see in there, and Casselli liked the ideas and he really incorporated them and made them. […] Like, we were like, “Solar tubes!” and we was like, “OK, solar tubes.” And then we’re like, “Light tray!” and then we’re like, “no, light tray doesn’t work too well.” And then we’re like, “You know, this column needs a bench” And “You know, I need somewhere to put my beer during a dance.” So effing what? It’s college, people drink beer and dance. If there’s nowhere to put the beer, the beer ends up on the floor, people slip and fall.
[…]We did most of the carpentry work in there, and jacked up the roof and sheeted the roof and insulated it, and replaced the windows and framed up the walls and did a lot of finish carpentry work. Fair amount of painting, we did the atrium, it was a lot of fucking work.
How many people do you have working for you?
Two students and one nonstudent work for me. Jobs pending I’ll be taking more people on (cross your fingers). I’m lucky to even have a chance to say that in this economy. I like what I do. [laughs] I’m happy to have the opportunity to make people’s space better, while I sit around and wait to smash some injustice somewhere. As things calm down, I want to get back to my other activism. There’s going to be a neo-nazi resurgence in this country; I want to be available to fight it again.
The first Alumni Board meeting of the year opened morning of Friday the 6th with a presentation by Antioch Emeritus Professor Steve Schwerner, who was representing the delegation if educators who came to Nonstop and reported on their visit to the Board Pro Tempore. [link to Record article on visit] Schwerner said he expected that everyone had already read the eight-page report, [Link to the Report] and preferred to answer questions from the floor rather than reiterate the points made on paper. He specified that he would be unable to answer “questions of speculative nature,” since he was not in a position to answer them, and stipulated that he could only speak for himself.
Schwerner, however, stated that the Visiting Team was “impressed on every level; we were impressed by the seriousness of the faculty, by the excitement of the students, the innovations, the ability to make something out of nothing.” Yet he emphasized that despite the unquestionable value of Nonstop, it was too early to assess how it would be reintegrated into the new college; “to lose everything that Nonstop has done seems foolish, to incorporate everything is impossible.”
Several board members pressed Schwerner for a more definite assessment of the way Nonstop would or should be integrated back into Antioch College, but he found himself unable give any more details; “how to incorporate [Nonstop] verges on the area of speculation,” he said, “I do know what I’ve been told from people whom I trust who are on the ProTem Board, that that hasn’t even come up yet; that all of the attention is being focused on getting the college back.” Signing the Definitive Agreements was described as the ProTem Board’s priority, as well as securing accreditation, fixing the campus buildings and fundraising for the new college. The Visiting Team’s report, however, fulfilled its purpose with great success, according to Schwerner; “everybody on the ProTem Board now believes… that Nonstop is a really serious organization and needs to be looked at as something to help with the building of the new Antioch,” he said, “that’s probably the single, most important thing that came out of this visit, from my perspective.”
Matthew Derr Speaks to the Board
Chief Transition Officer and Consultant to the Board Pro Tempore, Matthew Derr started his address to the Alumni Board by commenting on the previous conversation on the reintegration of Nonstop; “the history of the college–recent and back to Horace Mann–is essential to what happens next and we are all stakeholders in that history,” he said, “the notion that somehow an institution starts in a new direction and loses that legacy is one of the most unattractive and certainly not a beguiling characteristic to the ProTem Board.”
Matthew Derr then announced that the Task Force was making “significant progress in coming to an agreement with Antioch University;” “we are in a dance together… until we come to an agreement,” he said, “the dance seems to be speeding up and the parties seem to be getting along.” He expressed confidence about the eventual separation of the college from the University “in a way that we described in the alumni resolutions from Reunion and in the charge for the Board Pro Tem.” While the room erupted in laughter at Derr’s statement that “much of what we’re doing now is actually in the hands of attorneys, and that’s a very good sign,” he assured the board that GLCA “neutral” lawyers were involved and that all parties involved in the task force were working in the same direction. The Task Force will meet in Boston on Monday March 16th for a midpoint report, and a GLCA press release will follow.
Derr dismissed the rumors according to which the date of the definitive agreement had been deferred. “It’s in everybody’s best interest to do this sooner rather than later,” he said.
Despite the economic crisis, the fundraising target for the 90 days period are not unattainable, Matthew Derr affirmed. “We’re making progress, funds are coming in, big gifts seem to be coming in daily, people are taking our appointments, they’re not turning us down.” As to his fundraising strategy, Derr said: “My essential case statement is: now is the only time when one gets to support Antioch. It’s now. I personally give to planned parenthood, but it will be there next year.” He further explained that “by necessity,” the focus was on major giving ($25,000 and up,) but that a broader, Obama-style fundraising campaign was to be expected for the upcoming years.
In regards to the college’s accreditation, “it is a very narrow band of work we’re doing,” said Derr, who emphasized that the task consisted of delineating a process for obtaining accreditation; “it’s process, not content,” he underlined. “It is our impression that there is a lot of goodwill and interest in facilitating this,” he assessed.
The issue of the concept paper was then discussed. Derr explained that the concept paper outlined a business plan but did not address curriculum, and was written for the primary purpose of showing a plan to the University, and was now being used solely for fundraising purposes. When further questioned by board Member Laura Fathauer ’95, Matt Derr acknowledged that “the concept paper should have been out there earlier,” and said that it will be circulated “as quickly as we possible can.”
Matthew Derr asserted that there was a “high degree of communication” between the ProTem Board and Nonstop. Corroborating examples include the ProTem Board’s decision to send the visiting team to report to them about Nonstop, their choice to meet in Yellow Springs in February and to let Nonstop give a presentation about their work, and Matthew Derr’s weekly meeting with Nonstop’s Executive Collective. He echoed Steve Schwerner’s statement according to which the Board ProTem was not yet in a position to be taking concrete decision about Nonstop; the spirit of the board follows the following logic: “We will make no assertions, we will make no commitments until we can make promises. I think it’s partly based on the history of unfunded mandates…and this board tries to behave differently,” he said, “you should not interpret their silence as meaning anything other than silence, and I encourage you to look at their actions and try to understand how they may look at the world.”
When several board members expressed concern about the fact that no Nonstop faculty member had been invited to join the Board Pro Tempore despite the alumni board’s recommendation, Matthew Derr answered that the bylaws included provisions for both a faculty member and a student to join the board. However, none of the Nonstop faculty is, as of now, officially a faculty member of the college: “there will be no employees of the future Antioch College until we have Antioch College,” he declared, “and the process by which we have employees hasn’t been defined.” Moreover, having a board member engaged in a lawsuit against the University would be problematic for the negotiations; the faculty lawsuit was thus cited as another reason for the current absence of faculty member on the board.
“The Board ProTem is aware of the challenges of the calendar, and the decisions that the Alumni Board and the CRF Board will need to make, and the fact that this vacuum is there,” Matthew Derr concluded, “but there isn’t a plan to make this vacuum go away until there is an Antioch College… our timing is off, to pretend otherwise is just not right.”
Nonstop presented Friday afternoon the “Nonstop Antioch Proposal to the Antioch College Alumni Board.” The proposal was written by a committee of ExCil, which included Beverly Rodgers, Hassan Rahmanian, and Chris Hill of ExCol, Community Manager Chelsea Martens, student Jeanne Kay, faculty Jean Gregorek, and staff Carole Braun.
Beverly Rodgers began the presentation with the Parable of Talents (Matthew 25:14) asserting that the investment that the Alumni Board had put into Nonstop, and the retention of the institutional wisdom of the faculty and staff, would fail to pay “dividends” if “Nonstop ceases to exist at the end of June”. Furthermore, “if Nonstop’s successful relationship building outreach lies foul for a year and a half, I think we will have the same consequences as the buried talent, only you may not have one talent left, it may be totally eroded.”
The proposal described how Nonstop could be integrated into the new independent Antioch College; students could be working in recruitment, fundraising and rehabilitation of the campus; staff working as staff and faculty taking on various administrative roles, writing grant proposals and mentoring students.
“What we’re asking this weekend is for you to help us fine-tune this proposal. It will take all of us to be able to come up with a proposal that makes sense to the governing bodies, to the responsibilities that all these governing bodies have,” said Chris Hill.
During the Question & Answer section, Alumni Board members asked for far more concrete projections than the committee was prepared to make. “Have you thought about what the budgeting would look like for the planning for the reopening and the long-term health of the college?” asked Alumni Board President and Board ProTem member Nancy Crow. Other questions regarding a time-line for bringing the proposal to the Board ProTem and curriculum were asked as well. In response Chris Hill said that conflicting messages made it unclear to what extent the ProTem wanted input on certain issues. Also, they felt, “it was much more important to look at the larger picture and say, ‘if this is something that you feel can go forward, then let’s work together and figure it out.’ I think it’s a larger question.”
The next day, in closed session, the Alumni Board passed the following resolution:
“In the spirit of building from the movement toward an independent Antioch College that the Alumni Board has been trying to advance;
In the hope of strengthening the united movement that has informed the Alumni Board’s creation of three separate entities, one for finance (CRF), one for academics (Nonstop), one for governance (Board Pro Tem);
The Alumni Board establishes a Taskforce to foster collaboration and build consensus with representatives of the key stakeholders who have played such an important role in our movement to develop an independent Antioch College: Nonstop, the Board Pro Tem, and the Alumni Board. The Taskforce is charged to develop the proposal presented by Nonstop to this Board yesterday for presentation to the Board Pro Tem. ”
College Revival Fund Discusses Nonstop Financing Issue
College Revival Fund (CRF) Treasurer Barrie Grenell said that the new bookkeeper was close to straightening up the budgeting mishap. “We had to go back and relook at all of the transactions that took place and make sure that we did have everything correctly, and we need to still do that with the pledges….but in terms of the cash part we feel confident that we’ve got that part down. Grenell announced that a CRF audit was upcoming that would focus on July 07 to December 31st ’08.
Grenell went on to address the issue of Nonstop’s funding. The last benchmark to guarantee Nonstop’s funding through June had not been met yet, and after previsions of incoming funds in the next two months, it was estimated that between $50,000 and $60,000 were still to be raised to fulfill the deficit, but it was suggested that the working figure should be set at $75,000 because of the uncertainty over incoming revenue.
Nonstop unrestricted funds coming every month were presented as one of the best ways to fulfill the gap; about 11,000 dollars have already been transferred from unrestricted funds to Nonstop, and any upcoming unrestricted funds not used for administrative overhead is set to go to Nonstop. Most outstanding pledges were said to have been made by Alumni Board members; Grenell said she had “some indication” that some of these pledges would not be fulfilled.
The floor was then left to the board’s questions. Nonstop IT Coordinator Tim Noble enquired: “I see no evidence of pledges being made [between Dcember ’08 and February ’09] which leads me to believe that nobody is pledging for Nonstop because perhaps they’re not being asked. At what point did we stop raising money for Nonstop?” Director of Alumni Relations, Aimee Maruyama, answered that only gifts in cash were asked to be given to Nonstop, because of the urgency of the situation. “It’s more a strategy for fundraising,” she explained, “because right now… what we need for Nonstop are cash gifts. We’re doing pledges, which is future money, for an independent Antioch College.”
Tim Eubanks ’00 suggested cutting spending in other areas in order to redirect money to Nonstop. Barrie Grenell asserted that Nonstop’s budget should not be micromanaged; and it was said that cuts in the CRF budget should be discussed in another venue.
Budget Committee member Wayne Snively suggested that each board member commit to collecting $2,500 from fundraising or personal funds; Barrie Grenell specified that this would be an average, since each board member’s circumstances vary.
Nonstop Executive Collective member Chris Hill reminded the board that Nonstop came under budget by $150,000, and was thus not responsible for the deficit. She asked whether the CRF would continue to fundraise for Nonstop. “I don’t make decisions on goals,” said CRF Executive Director Risa Grimes, “I put the mechanism into place; goals are set by the ProTem Board and by the CRF board…our primary job is to raise money for an independent Antioch College… We’re in an ambiguous situation; our salaries are being paid by the ProTem Board.” Nancy Crow intervened to specify that “we have one unified fundraising campaign…we are all working towards the same goal: the independent Antioch College… Everything has to happen under that umbrella,” she said. The board, according to Nancy Crow, hopes to see “much of the wonderful work that Nonstop is doing funded as part of the plan for the independent college going further.”
“What I’m saying is why can’t there be an assertion by this board that we’ve made major contributions to the revival of the college” said Chris Hill, “and if there’s a shortfall of 50 or 75 thousand dollars, why that money can’t come from the millions that are being raised to benefit the people who have put their professional lives on the line to stay here and keep the college open and to create a really good story for you all… We’re responsible for real concrete contributions to this revival.”
Several solutions were suggested to remedy the deficit through June, including sending Nonstop community members to chapter meetings, reducing the Nonstop budget–though some objected that Nonstop having come under budget and considering that a commitment had been made by the board to cover the approved budget– and board members individually fundraising among their friends and alumni from their area. “We are going to try our level best to make sure that we can fulfill our promises,” Nancy Crow concluded.
Pledge forms were distributed during the meeting, Barrie Grenell announced that $7410 had been raised in cash, $10,700 had been raised in pledges, there was 350 dollars pledge payment and a possible $5000 withholding, for a total of between $18,000 and $23,000 raised in the hour.
On a cold February night, creepy undead Nonsters and high-schoolers rose from their piles of homework and took over Michael Casselli’s studio to celebrate none other than: Undead Prom! The space was transformed into a cemetery complete with fog machines, tombstones, cobwebs, an open-coffin snack and beverage bar and an eerie hologram of demented men’s faces with mouths for eyes, singing along to the music. Clad in DIY costumes, fake blood, and hallowed eyes and cheeks, the undead creatures danced to MJ’s “Thriller” and the “Monster Mash” and, of course Madonna’s “Like a Prayer.” They posed and flaunted their stuff in a high-fashion photo shoot taken by Jonny No and Rose Pelzl. And what’s a prom without prom royalty? Jeanne Kay, Jonny No and Nic Viox were voted Prom Queen, King, and Gender-Queer Hierarchical Power Reference, respectively.