My name is Chad Johnston and I am an alum of ’01 and a Community Manager of ’01-02. I was a very nontraditional student who always sought out alternatives to conventional education. Antioch was the only college I applied to and I cannot tell you how influential Antioch was to my life and my career.
I was able to go to Nonstop to talk about my current work in media reform, social justice and media policy. I knew from a distance why the committed employees and supporters of Nonstop were so important to the future of the College. However, I did not realize how deep the spirit of these brilliant people ran until I was able to be with them.
I realized in theory how Nonstop was the DNA of the institution, but until I was there to hear and see the students, faculty and staff in action, I did not realize how in practice this was so very true. The people of Nonstop are beyond courageous, and exemplify what an Antioch education means when taking subjects beyond the confines of the academy, and into action. Without this DNA, a new Antioch will be just as those in the University wanted it to be: safe, marketable, and without real value except in respect to the bottom line.
I run a nonprofit and understand on a day to day basis how this economy has effected our ability to do good work. I also understand that when times are tough, it is up to supporters to engage even more. I was speaking with a board member of a foundation the other day. I told them that we were expecting foundations to tighten their belt. He told me, “if there was a time foundations and supporters should be stepping up even more, now is the time and it will happen.”
My nonprofit is small. We have an annual budget of about $170,000 a year. I do not make a ton of money by any stretch of the imagination. However, after seeing Nonstop in person, and after hearing much of the conversations over the last couple of days about them being left in the cold, I have decided that I must do something.
I will contribute $100 a month just to support Nonstop, which is roughly %3 of my salary before taxes. Duffy called me the other day and told me he had given his entire paycheck back to the Revival Fund and Nonstop. If Duffy can make that kind of sacrifice, so can you. If Nonstop employees, who are risking their livelihoods for the sake of saving Antioch College, are giving back part of their paychecks, you can too. By supporting Nonstop, we also send an important message to the “powers that be” that we are in full support of Nonstop being an integral part of the new college, its values and its future. If we can raise millions of dollars for a new College, but not support those who have kept the institution alive and have literally put their ideals and lives on the line, then what have we really done?
I am a change agent and a social justice advocate because of Antioch College, and I need it to survive. We need it to survive. In my opinion, Nonstop is the lifeline to assure that Antioch College, in its new form, carries on the values which have made me who I am, and I’d bet, who you are as well. I am ashamed to die until some victory for humanity is won by my actions. I am committed to living life without dead time. I am a life learner, a risk taker, and an activist who will fight for justice until I have no breath left to give this world. That is because of Antioch College. Those who will come after me as Antioch graduates, will have a history and a new phrase inscribed in their lexicon, and it will be Nonstop.
I call on each one of you to do what you can for those who have stepped up to keep Antioch alive.
I recently had a conversation with Micah Canal, 2008 graduate of Antioch College, who came back to Yellow Springs in January to join the effort to support Nonstop and for the recreation of the College. He is currently working for the College Revival Fund.
D: So, where are you from?
Micah: I was born on the side of a mountain in southern Oregon, (where we lived) without electricity. My parents went back to the land in the early 70’s. They were hippies, sort of, but I am also part redneck because of growing up in rural southern Oregon. I have always walked that line of someone who embraces my redneck-dom and also someone who was raised by college graduates, and has had a fairly privileged life. I am one of the people who loved high school, rare among the Antioch diaspora.
I was supposed to come to Antioch in 2004, and I deferred until 2005 because I was in love, and I needed to stay on the West Coast. We (my classmates and I) were informed when we got here that something called the Renewal Commission had changed the college that we thought we would be attending. To this day I am still unclear as to why… there was no information that was conveyed to us or our parents that we were going to be a part of a new, untested learning model. That was a real shock.
Fela Pierre-Louis and Olivia Leire, and I organized the first year class in the first two weeks into something called the First Year Liason Committee. It was my first experience with organizing at Antioch, and what an interesting, difficult, troubling, infighting experience it can be. We became Antiochians … for three years, and some of us graduated, and most of us didn’t. There were sixty-seven people who entered with me, and of those less than twenty graduated. I think of us as the lost class, because we were the first under the learning communities, and some of us were the last ones out, and some of us are still here. That is my brief history about Antioch.
My major in one hundred words was Social Entrepreneurship and Economic Development. I studied economics and international relations. My focus was on change-making, trying to do it from the grass roots and also within institutions. All of my professional work has been in the non-profit sector, and I imagine that is where I will stay. That will be my life’s work: social entrepreneurship, building and contributing to organizations that do good works.
D: What brought you back?
M: That is a very complex question, especially because things have changed so much here. I came back, fundamentally, because I knew that there was unfinished business in Yellow Springs. I knew that my professors and my student comrades and so many of my Antiochian family were struggling to reach a goal that from afar, from 2500 miles away, seemed a lot more clear than it does here in Yellow Springs. I came back because I believe in a place like Antioch, a place that instills the values and ideas, and a place that is built on the motto that we come back to over and over again, ( “Be Ashamed”).
D: What is your job with the CRF?
M: I do communications work. I work on the web page and help to craft the news and the messaging that goes out to alumni. I work on the e-newsletter and the print newsletter. I try to help chapters organize and publicize their events. Being the youngest person in the office, you get stuck with helping out with people’s computers, and I usually make coffee. My job is largely computer based.
D: What is your analysis of the “Save Antioch” struggle?
There are a lot of different groups here and in the meta-Antiochian community who are working for different things. There is the Board Pro Tem, and the Alumni Board. The Alumni Board created Nonstop – or has been an important agent in the legal and financial creation of Nonstop. And there is the College Revival Fund. Within those organizations, there are different factions. There are people of different ages, different graduating classes, and they have different opinions. One thing about Antiochians is…it is our charming little downfall …that we all believe that we are the torch bearers. We all have the notion that our version is the correct version, and we have to save Antioch from all of the other incorrect understandings of what that word and this land means. I think that it is a huge part of the difficulty we are faced with right now. We have different notions about who carries the torch. Is it the alums? Is it Nonstop? Within Nonstop, is it carried by the students or the faculty? Is the torch carried by the land here? Once the Board Pro Tem gets it back–is that Antioch?
For someone who graduated in the 50’s, they are not going to recognize Nonstop as Antioch. We (the recent generation of Antiochians) believe and have strong connections to professors, a culture, and a staff that remain to some extent over at Millworks. The people who have the money it is going to take to save, to make this thing tenable for the next 155 years, don’t. This – this Olive Kettering Library, the Main Building, this is how they (donors) can relate, at least most of them anyway. And that is not an answer folks want to hear.
D: How do these competing visions impact our efforts?
Are we working on the same effort? I am not convinced we are. I am not convinced we aren’t. We are all communicating with other Antiochians out there, and we pass on our prejudices and our gripes about stuff that is happening here. I think that that process hurts our fund raising effort, it hurts our PR effort with the rest of the world. It hurts our image. It doesn’t build the forward momentum that we will need as an institution and a community to revitalize Antioch. Every one is working hard for their vision. It doesn’t matter what institution you are working for, whether it is Nonstop, or CRF, or BPT or the Alumni Board. In reality, I think our visions have more in common with each other than are different. We are focusing a lot on the differences.
We have an economy that is sinking. The situation in the outside world and here in the Antiochian community is like a perfect storm. We should be seeking whatever breaks we can get. We should be seeking whatever shelter and unity we can find, because it is hard enough, a big enough of a pipe dream to think of starting a college in this economic time.
I am optimistic. Antiochians are not good at faith. I believe that despite all of this, every one that I have talked to has good intentions. I have a lot of faith in Community Government. I have tremendous faith in Chelsea. She carries a lot of respect from all the different groups. With that respect she serves to unify us. The charisma of a capable leader is really important, and she holds a lot of that. The reason that she does is that she is very responsible about the way that she represents the ideas and the will of the community. She is a tremendously capable person.
I am optimistic about the innocence and passion of many of the young people involved. I think we should be listening to them more. Obviously, I am a young person, and take that how you may. I think there are a lot of very good ideas. There are ways to move forward in the hearts and minds of the most recent graduates. We should be reaching out to them. We may not have the deep pockets, but we have the energy, the wherewithal, and the ideas that are going to make any effort to recreate a college successful.
Confronted with the notoriously high level of interaction between It goes without saying that strangers to Antioch or Nonstop might have difficulty in differentiating between the faculty, staff and students
blah blah blah something provoking and nuanced. the end.
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.