Hot take, cold dish: tofu at Bowdoin
From Honolulu tofu to tofu stir fry to the small cubes available at the salad bars, the tofu in the dining halls is ever present. Produced by Heiwa Soy Beanery, the tofu has been a staple of Bowdoin Dining Service’s repertoire for two years.
In 2015, Bowdoin switched from SoyBoy, a national company, to Heiwa Soy Beanery. According to Ken Cardone, associate director and executive chief of Bowdoin Dining Service, this move represented one of the many efforts the school has put forth to use locally sourced, fresh food.
Heiwa Soy Beanery, owned by Jeff Wolovitz, is a local tofu production business based in Rockport, Maine. Founded in 2008, it supplies to Bowdoin and other major colleges in Maine, including Colby and the University of Maine branches.
“When I arrived on campus many years ago, Bowdoin already had a long-standing tradition of using local food—everything from blueberries to seafood to produce. It’s been part of the culture for so many years,” Cardone said.
While local food can be more costly, according to Cardone, the advantages of locally sourcing food are the decreased transportation costs and increased quality.
“We’re fortunate that we can buy things like grains that are shelf-stable, [a pallet a time] since we use so much of it—that helps lower our costs and do away with some of the shipping expense,” said Cardone.
“This way we’re looking at a product that is produced in our state and is high quality,” said Cardone, “We’re promoting the local industry, which is so important today.”
In effort to continue locally sourcing food, Bowdoin turned to Wolovitz.
Wolovitz, who was disappointed by the quality of tofu he was finding in his local natural food markets, decided in the early 2000s to start making the product himself. The tofu he produces uses non-GMO soybeans from nearby farms.
“One thing I notice about the two products is that the local tofu, when we use it in certain dishes, holds up so much better,” said Cardone.
“It’s all about that texture—it’s firm, but it’s still tender and moist. Most of the commercial tofu, if it’s firm, tends to be dry and hard. Finding that perfect balance of firmness and tenderness was hard to build,” said Wolovitz.
Wolovitz, a former high school science teacher, said he got into the business to pursue a passion. While his background is in physics and astronomy, he wanted to be involved in more earth-based activities after college.
“I spent three years working on farms, organic farms, vegetable farms and some animal farms. After three years of that, I really didn’t have any land or money,” said Wolovitz. “I sort of left that behind and thought that I could become a science teacher [and] have my summers off when I could farm away all summer.”
After teaching briefly despite not having a background in education, Wolovitz found that he was unable to spend his summers farming as productively has he had hoped.
“The summer goes by so fast,” he said.
“What I started to do was look for niches that I could fill. Something, a product, that was already being consumed within the state or region, but wasn’t being produced within the state. I kind of attacked it from that direction and stumbled upon tofu,” said Wolovitz.
He was inspired to grow soybeans by another high school science teacher with whom he lived in the ’80s and ’90s.
“He was getting ready to move and had a whole bunch of equipment left in his barn that he needed to get rid of. That kind of sealed the deal for me,” Wolovitz said.
He now runs the business alongside his wife, Maho Hisakawa. Hisakawa, who was born in Japan, uses the business to help her connect back with her culture. According to Wolovitz, Hisakawa plays two important roles: part-time employee and advisor.
“[Hisakawa] helps with representing the brand, taking on some special projects, and making some of the bigger decisions,” said Wolovitz.
Because the business is family-run, Wolovitz includes his two daughters in their trips to Camden for the farmer’s market.
“They love it,” said Wolovitz. “They love being part of that community there. They know all the vendors, their different friends, and they know which one will give them free samples of maple sugar or cheese.”
Wolovitz emphasized the need to balance family and business.
“I work 12-hour days most days of the week. Even when I’m not here, I’m still thinking about [the business], because there is so much to figure out,” he said.
While the business is integral to the family’s life, one of the struggles, according to Wolovitz, is finding a balance between work and family.
“The dinner table is not always the right time to talk about [the business]. It really comes down to boundaries and setting those distinctions between business and not business,” said Wolovitz.
At home, Wolovitz and his family cook their own tofu recipes.
“We live a busy life, so we’re always looking for good, simple, but nutritious recipes,” said Wolovitz.
“These days we’ve been really enjoying a tofu salad—basically egg salad, but with tofu.”
A few of the recipes on their website are originals. The tofu toast was developed by Hisakawa during her pregnancy with their first daughter, even before the tofu business was developed.
“People are always asking us for new ways to use tofu,” said Wolovitz.
Cardone similarly reflected this.
“I think when you put local product out there, people have more of a tendency to taste, and that is a plus in itself.”
Susan Faludi confronts estranged father's gender reassignment in new book
Susan Faludi, Pulitzer Prize-winner and research fellow for Bowdoin’s Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies Department, read excerpts from her new memoir, “In the Darkroom,” to a packed audience in Massachusetts Hall on Wednesday.
Published in June after 12 years in the making, “In the Darkroom” details Faludi’s reunion with her estranged father, Stephanie—formerly Steve—Faludi, who had undergone gender reassignment surgery.
Brock Clarke, professor of English and organizer of the event, said that the reason the novel is unique to him is because it is “difficult to pin down.”
“If you start describing it one way, you realize you’re leaving out a bunch of other things,” said Clarke. “It’s about her reuniting with her [father]. It’s a travel book, it’s about the Jewish diaspora after World War II, it’s about what it’s like to live in Nazi-occupied territory during World War II.”
Focused primarily on Stephanie Faludi’s various identities throughout her lifetime, the memoir begins with an email from Faludi’s father titled “Changes,” in which Stephanie Faludi informed Susan Faludi of her gender reassignment.
“My father had been silent for so many years,” said Susan Faludi in an interview with the Orient. “As a young child, I had always been pressing her for stories about life and would get nowhere.”
“My father was kind of an identity zelig; one way of looking at her life is a lifelong struggle of era-defining identity crises,” Susan Faludi said during the event.
Stephanie Faludi was a wealthy Jewish child in Hungary before World War II. During the Holocaust, she survived by passing as Christian with false identity papers and a Nazi armband.
After the war, she went to the U.S. at a time described by Susan Faludi as “the height of very traditional gender roles and assumed the posture of the all-American commuter, suburban dad with a barbecue grill and big Christmas tree."
Afterward, she reinvented herself again by moving back to Hungary and supporting the right-wing regime, before traveling to Thailand for gender-reassignment surgery.
Susan Faludi added that writing about her father was the most challenging journalistic assignment she has ever taken, but she felt that she needed to write about this experience for herself, as both a writer and as a daughter.
“I’m a writer and that’s how I come to terms with things I don’t understand,” she said in an interview with the Orient. “Whether it got published or not, to figure it out in my own life, figure out my relationship with my father.”
Susan Faludi said that her journalistic approach to the experience of reacquainting with her father served well as a buffer for her and for her father to get comfortable with each other once again.
“It was a way for my father, who was a pretty closed person, to open up, and [it] gave me comfort, as someone who knows how to be a reporter,” she said on Wednesday afternoon. “In the end, I had to accept the fact that I was as much as participant as observer in this story.”
Beyond coming to terms with her own experience, Susan Faludi’s specialty is in gender research.
“I felt that I couldn’t continue to write honestly about gender without admitting to my own experience,” she added.
“I see a lot of connective tissue between my father’s story and the books I’ve written earlier,” she added. “All of my books are grappling with the ways gender mythologies distort and damage people’s lives. This was just a very vivid, personal, individual window into that."
Faludi said that in order for her to understand her father, she needed to understand the broader political and cultural background of each era in which her father lived.
“At every step, there are deep historical dynamics at work that I needed to understand to understand how my father perceived each of these roles,” she said. “All of these were essential to my grappling with my father’s struggle and to grapple with the larger question in the book, which is the question about the meaning the of identity.”
News in brief: Sustainable Bowdoin to encourage green living
On Tuesday, Sustainable Bowdoin will launch the Green Living Commitment, a program designed to help students create healthy habits and reduce their carbon footprints.
The program is a revamped version of a previous Sustainable Bowdoin initiative, Green Dorm Room Certification. Bethany Taylor, the sustainability outreach coordinator, said that the new program is designed to be more individualized.
“If you really want to recycle, but your roommate is not at all interested, you are no longer responsible for their inaction,” Taylor said.
Through a survey, students can pledge to different actions and habits for three different levels of certification: Bronze, Silver and Green. An online checklist outlines a point system, where students earn points based on their habits. Low commitment activities, such as buying a plant, earn fewer points, while higher commitment activities, like carpooling to campus, earn more points.
Additionally, participants will be entered in a raffle each month to win prizes for their dorm depending on their certification level. The higher the certification, the better the prize.
“The competition should reinforce people’s participation,” Taylor said. “It’s ongoing [and] you are encouraged to go back if you want to raise yourself up a level.”
The Green Living Commitment will run this semester in conjunction with another campus-wide energy-saving competition that will begin on February 27, International Polar Bear Day, and run through April 22, Earth Day.
Taylor hopes that the Green Living Commitment will become a permanent part of Sustainable Bowdoin’s programming.
“This semester will be focused on taking in student feedback and coming up with a better version of it to start in the fall,” she said.
To promote the Green Living Commitment, Sustainable Bowdoin will host a “Love Your Planet Valentine” event where students can write notes to each other in the spirit of the holiday.
Students and staff lend helping hands to local soup kitchen
For two Saturdays a month, the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program’s (MCHPP) soup kitchen is crowded with Bowdoin students and faculty. Madeleine Msall, professor of physics, who was one of the biggest advocates and committed volunteers, now leads the recruitment process for Bowdoin students and faculty. Bowdoin is MCHPP’s largest volunteer source.
Launched in 1983, the MCHPP has since expanded to include nine different services. In addition to volunteering at the soup kitchen, Bowdoin volunteers also work at the organization’s other programs through the McKeen Center for the Common Good—such as Food Mobile and Summer Food Service, which provide food services outside of MCHPP’s business hours.
Three years ago, Msall volunteered with a pilot program outside the College to see if MCHPP could expand from weekdays to include service on Saturday.
“We didn’t have as many people coming for lunch on the weekend as we did during the week, but we had a good core group of people for whom this is needed,” Msall said, “That meant that the soup kitchen needed to expand its volunteer base by 20 percent.”
Msall used her organizational platform at Bowdoin to find volunteers and then committed to the role of head recruiter for two Saturdays a month. While Msall is primarily focused on faculty recruitment for Mid Coast, sophomores Jake Stenquist and Sophie al Mutawaly took on student recruitment for the first Saturday of every month, for students.
According to Msall, there has been a constant stream of students, faculty and staff through the program.
“We’ve had people from the janitorial staff, dining halls, deans, department coordinators, faculty from all different departments,” she said.
The faculty recruitment tends to be focused on the new faculty to give them a chance to get to know Brunswick and other staff members, according to Msall.
The student recruitment has a heavy focus on athletes.
“We’re both on our respective soccer teams, so we have connections with other teams. It’s easier to send it out to a captain for them to distribute to their team,” Stenquist said.
“However, we have a couple professors who send it out to their classes via email,” he added.
Every Saturday, around 25 people run the soup kitchen in two shifts: morning and afternoon. The morning shift is comprised of food and dining hall preparation, while the afternoon shift involves serving the food.
“It’s a sit down meal so people are waited on; they’re not coming through a line with cafeteria trays,” Msall said.
Through the program, the volunteers and the Brunswick community have gotten closer.
“I think the reason I love it so much is just the interaction you get to have with people from Brunswick,” said al Mutawaly. “You meet kids, elderly, all kinds of people.”
Msall expanded on this. “The number one thing it does is it personalizes the problem of hunger in Maine. I think everyone comes away with a greater feeling about what our community is doing in a very personal way,” she said.
Stenquist, who is pursuing a career in the military, said, “I met so many veterans who are community members in Brunswick and I’ve been able to have conversations with them.”
Msall sees the benefit of interacting not only with members of the Brunswick community, but also with members of the Bowdoin community whom she would not otherwise meet.
The program builds a stronger bond between the groups that volunteer.
“What’s nice about Saturday is that it’s all Bowdoin faculty or students. It’s kind of a team-building event,” said Msall.
al Mutawaly echoed this sentiment.
“I had some first years on the soccer team who came to volunteer afterward text me saying, ‘That was so much fun, please tell me every time you’re going, I would love to do it!’”
She aims to continue to build a base of volunteers with this level of enthusiasm. Msall, who is going on sabbatical next academic year, hopes that the program will continue to develop under the new head recruiter, Sara Eddy, associate director of events and summer programs, in addition to al Mutawaly and Stenquist.
Stenquist’s goal is to get more people excited about volunteer work, which he said does not always happen naturally.
“It does need to be spurred sometimes,” he said. “It would be great if that sense of community and wanting to give back to the Brunswick community was there instantly and people wanted to get involved.”
Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program has 1,200 volunteers, 10 percent of which are from the Bowdoin community, according to Msall.
“The volunteers from the Bowdoin community are the biggest source of the volunteers for this local organization; it makes a tremendous difference in the amount of work that they can do.”
This January, the highest number of lunches, 111, were served on a Saturday.
“I don’t know what it was about that particular Saturday, but I was just incredibly impressed by how poised my team was while we ran out of every kind of food,” Msall said.
“It was so great to see that we could feed all these people, and provide something,” she added. “At the same time, I was so dismayed by how many people are hungry in Brunswick.”
Two top administrative positions filled
Four positions remain open
Elizabeth McCormack will join the Bowdoin faculty as dean for academic affairs effective July 1, replacing the Jennifer Scanlon, who has held the interim dean position since the summer of 2015. McCormack will also teach physics. Matt Orlando has become senior vice president for finance and administration effective January 4. He previously served as vice president and interim head of finance and administration and treasurer. Both positions are part of the President’s Senior Leadership Team.
Former Dean for Academic Affairs Cristle Collins Judd, who held that position at the College from 2006 until 2015, was also named president of Sarah Lawrence College. She will begin that position in July.
The College is still in the midst of hiring processes for four positions in the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs. They intend to fill the positions held by Interim Dean of First Year Students Melissa Quinby, and Interim Assistant Deans for Upperclass Students Michael Pulju and Abbey Greene Goldman. Additionally, Bowdoin is planning on hiring a dean of students to replace Senior Associate Dean of Student Affairs Kim Pacelli, who announced in December that she will leave Bowdoin at the end of this academic year.
McCormack is currently a professor of physics at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, where she has taught since 1995. She has served as chair of the faculty, director of the Center for Science in Society, director of the STEM Posse Program, dean of graduate studies and as an associate provost, where she worked to support faculty across campus.
“There was an amazingly thorough process that engaged a number of faculty and staff, and she clearly differentiated herself from a really great group of candidates that we looked at, talked to and thought hard about,” said President Clayton Rose. “She brings a record of accomplishments as a teacher, and a scholar, and an administrator and as someone who’s been deeply engaged in the liberal arts for a long time.”
McCormack is excited to join the faculty at Bowdoin.
“The tradition of excellence and the engaged liberal arts model is what attracted me,” she said.
She expects ensuring equitable academic access to be one of the challenges in her role at the College.
“The [challenge] is equitable access, finding ways to brings students in from all different walks of life, but once they are here supporting their success,” said McCormack. “This involves supporting faculty to create inclusive learning environments [and] understanding how students learn best.”
The Office for the Dean of Academic Affairs is responsible for overseeing faculty, including hiring, mentoring and tenure. The office also supports special academic programs and leads faculty discussion on teaching and innovation.
McCormack is also looking forward to teaching physics at Bowdoin.
“As someone who has gotten into campus leadership from faculty, my heart with always be with and my lens will always be through the perspective of a teacher, faculty member, and a colleague,” she said.
At Bryn Mawr, McCormack taught a gender information science and politics course with the English department. She hopes to teach a first-year seminar at Bowdoin that discusses women in science and technology.
“As a woman scientist myself, but also having taught at a women’s college, I’m pretty excited about and interested in the issues young women face today not only as scientists, but as intellectuals engaging with the world today,” she said.
Orlando will continue at Bowdoin as the senior vice president of finance and administration and the treasurer, the equivalent of the chief financial officer of the College, after a national search. He held this position in the interim after Katy Longley left in June.
“[Orlando] has been a member of the Bowdoin community for a long time and many, many of the folks here know him well,” Rose said. “The search was interesting—we did a national search, engaged one of the leading search firms, we looked at a number of candidates, and a number of really good candidates, and it was not a foregone conclusion going into the search that this was Matt’s job. This was a job he earned in an amazing competition with a number of other really well qualified candidates.”
Orlando will oversee capital projects and the campus master plan.
“Most of these ideas involve funding, whether that comes through donor funding or operating revenues,” Orlando said. “We do have finite resources. We are blessed with a really big endowment, but the dollars in the budget are all spoken of to some degree. We’ll have to figure out how to make room for these new incremental costs within the budget.”
Orlando is excited to take on a larger role at the College.
“I think that it will be a really exciting chapter in the history of Bowdoin. I know it sounds cliché, but I genuinely believe that and am excited to be a part of it,” he said.
MacMillan scraps 'Gender Bender' party following criticism
Following criticism expressed on social media, as well as an email sent by concerned students, MacMillan House decided to change the theme of its Gender Bender campus-wide party that had been originally planned for tonight. The House also held a discussion yesterday about the event.
Members of the House began planning the party before Thanksgiving vacation with the goal of creating discussion about gender identity outside of a typical setting.
“One of the attractive things about hosting a campus-wide was that it engages a greater range of people and a more diverse group of individuals,” said Conor Belfield ’19, MacMillan House president. “There was never a time when we were just like, ‘This would be funny.’ There was always a clearly stated goal to bring greater conversation to the topic of gender identity.”
According to Belfield, many House members were initially skeptical of the idea, so they decided to consult Director of the Resource for Sexual and Gender Diversity Kate Stern for advice. Stern referred the House to Bowdoin Queer-Straight Alliance (BQSA).
Rose Etzel ’19, a member of BQSA and Gender Matters, a discussion group and supportive space for trans/genderqueer/non-binary-identified students with about seven active members, said that many students in BQSA were also not comfortable with the theme of the campus-wide. The group ultimately agreed to it on the condition that the House host a panel prior to the party to discuss the event. However, not enough people wanted to speak on the panel, and it was cancelled. Despite the panel’s cancellation, the House continued with the party idea.
A Facebook event for the party was created on Tuesday, and posters featuring cross-dressed House members were hung up around campus the following day.
Soon after, a number of students took to Facebook to express their frustrations and concerns about the event. While many recognized MacMillan’s good intentions, they found the setting of the event—a campus-wide party—to be problematic.
“My concerns were that as a party theme, it’s not cognisant of the history of how trans people are perceived and how gender nonconformity is perceived,” said Paul Cheng ’17, a member of BQSA and Gender Matters. “Exhibiting those things in the setting of party, even if I know their goals were good, to create a discussion or create visibility for these things, makes it feel more insulting than anything honestly.”
One other criticism of the event was that the House did not partner with Gender Matters. Belfield said that in hindsight, this was one of many major mistakes the House made.
“I am very disappointed in us, as a House, that we were not able to find [Gender Matters] and communicate with them, because we wanted to. If we had [had] that conversation, we could’ve done something different,” Belfield said. “I was trying to be an ally and I think a lot of other people were. And we messed up.”
Members of Gender Matters and other concerned students sent an email to MacMillan House Wednesday night explaining their objections to the party and demanding that the theme be changed.
As a result of the backlash, the House planned a new event, “Continue the Discussion: Is the Gender Bender a Positive Event?” to listen to criticism of the event and create conversation in a public manner. However, there were mixed responses leading up to the event.
“I’m very happy with the discussion that has been coming,” said Etzel. “At the heart of it, I don’t think [the party] should have happened in the first place, but [MacMillan] made the best of a sticky situation, and I’m very happy with how receptive they’ve been. I think that ultimately it’s good that this conversation is happening.”
“Our plan for the most part is to shut up and listen to people, since we know we’ve hurt people,” said Belfield. “We also do recognize this discussion is inherently flawed. In Gender Matters’ letter to us, they said many of them will not be attending since they do not feel comfortable and do not want to be tokenized. That was never our intent. We have no desire to force people to come and talk about how they’re feeling. We just want to give the space to those who wanted it.”
The meeting took place last night and roughly 30 students attended. MacMillan House started the event by issuing an apology before opening the space for discussion. Topics covered included the role of College Houses as safe spaces on campus and whether Facebook is an appropriate medium for this type of discussion.
Shu-Shu Hsia ’19, who was first to post in the campus-wide Facebook event, believes that conversation through social media was a good way to discuss the issue.
“I feel like talking about it online was a pretty effective way, which is why I don’t feel like [MacMillan House members] were being genuine when they say that wanted a discussion to take place,” Hsia said. “Immediately, when we started to say that we weren’t comfortable with the idea, they were trying to funnel the discussion into private emails. I don’t know why everyone is so against talking online. This is the most powerful communication tool we’ve ever had.”
Moving forward, Etzel said that Gender Matters and BQSA are looking for ways to continue the conversation beyond this event. One idea they have is to create a poster series next semester that combats the conflation of gender identity, gender expression and gender performance.
Arctic Museum sled takes center stage in Fickera's '18 dance installation
Gina Fickera ’18 was surprised that, as a junior, she had never been to the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum. Though historic, the museum is often under-utilized by students, so Fickera took it upon herself to showcase its treasures in a site-specific dance piece she choreographed as part of her independent study.
Using the Inuit sled that Peary and MacMillan used in their expedition to the Arctic as the centerpiece of her independent study, Fickera aimed to encourage a more diverse audience to frequent the space.
Fickera decided to focus on the sled because of the ability to translate the language people use to describe the sled’s movement into dance. In the video of her performance, the dancers are seen sliding across the floor and falling to mimic the sliding and curved nature of the sled.
Advised by Professor and Chair of the Department of Theater and Dance Sarah Bay-Cheng, Fickera explored how site-specific dances can reject the confines of the traditional concert stage.
“The location itself becomes an integral part of the experience of artistically telling a story,” said Fickera.
After narrowing down from a list of 10 spaces by recording herself at each spot, Fickera decided to stage her dance in Hubbard Hall.
“[I did] whatever the space told me to do and [noted] how my body naturally responded to that space.”
Hubbard was ultimately the most appealing to Fickera because of its aesthetic, Inuit artifacts and history and culture in relation to Bowdoin.
“Working in a site-specific setting allowed for a deeper exploration of new choreographic possibilities and takes into consideration all interdisciplinary actions of a location that make it uniquely itself,” said Fickera.
The goal of her study was to explore postmodern movement artists through improvisation and the choreography was mainly improvisation-based. Dancers Melissa Miura ’19 and Joy Huang ’19 accompanied Fickera.
According to Fickera, museums have collaborated with performers since the 1960s.
“These performances blurred the line between theater, dance and art gallery installations,” she said.
The main difference between traditional and contemporary stages is the use of space. Because the traditional stage contains a fourth wall and a concealed audience, Fickera said that working in the Arctic Museum was a disorienting but exciting experience.
“I knew I was growing as a dancer,” she said.
“We generated some movement on our own and from there we strung the pieces together,” said Fickera.
Early one Sunday morning, two hours before the museum opened, they teamed up with Andres Aguaiza ’17 to film the sequence.
The video will be featured on the museum’s website and may be submitted into several film festivals. It will also be performed with the sled on stage in the Dance Department’s Concert next spring. According to Fickera, her independent study was an opportunity to give back to Bowdoin and to the museum.
“Now that I’ve had this experience, I believe that museums and dancers mutually benefit from each other,” said Fickera.
Japanese professor visits campus, speaks on anti-nuclear protest
After a divisive election, students at Bowdoin were reminded yesterday of the power of democracy and knowledge by a screening of the documentary “Tell the Prime Minister.” Toru Shinoda, a labor politics professor from Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan, attended the screening and spoke with students about the importance of political engagement. The event was sponsored by the Asian Studies department.
The film was made by a young Japanese sociology professor, Eiji Oguma. According to Director of the Asian Studies Program Vyjayanthi Ratnam Selinger, Oguma’s intent was to portray the mobilization movement that sprung up among youth in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown in 2011.
The Fukushima protests were anti-nuclear demonstrations that took place after the meltdown and were primarily comprised of workers and students. The protesters called on the Japanese government to abolish nuclear power entirely.
Shinoda said that the film screening comes at an interesting moment in American politics.
“We can see in the film how people combine speaking up with an indirect democracy,” he said.
“This is the film of how Japanese people, not just found, but remembered how democracy works.”
The protests were “an energization of a population,” according to Selinger.
After the protests, the government committed to shutting down any nuclear power plants by 2030. Shinoda said that he is surprised the policy is working, considering the transfer of power to the more conservative current government.
“The pledge will be completed since more and more people in Japan think nuclear plants aren’t necessary,” said Shinoda. “We’ve been fine without nuclear plants, in terms of providing electricity.”
The protests, however, weren’t the only factor that caused the Japanese government to change. According to Shinoda, Japanese sentiment toward nuclear energy has also been in flux.
Selinger hopes that students relate to the sense of consciousness that the Japanese protesters had.
“We hope that our students take away engagement in democracy and the multitudinous ways you approach and think about an event like this,” she said. “One of our goals is to have environmental studies reflect on the kind of work we do in the liberal arts.”
The protests, prompted by environmental issues, commented on how politics approximate everyday life, and emphasized how environmental issues are interconnected with political and social life.
“The environmental issue provided an opportunity to people to remember politics and ignite change,” said Shinoda.
Currently, the Asian Studies Department is guiding research projects in the interdisciplinary study of environmental studies and politics. Selinger noted that one student, Michael Amano ’17, spent the summer researching the post World War II exchange of art between students in Santa Fe, Nm. and Hiroshima, Japan.
“I notice this generation of students has a very heightened consciousness about our commitment and agency with respect to the environment,” Selinger added. “I’d like to see this tapped into.”
BSG seeks to expand campus dialogue on race, cultural appropriation
Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) spent much of its Wednesday meeting in a closed executive session to discuss cultural appropriation and bias on campus. Members talked about the importance of continuing to address these issues, even in the absence of controversy, and contemplated how to better include faculty in the conversation, such as through expanding programs like the Bowdoin Intergroup Dialogue & Facilitation Training.
“We have a lot of first years on BSG this year,” BSG President Harriet Fisher ’17 said. “We just wanted to create a space where it is safe and comfortable for people to ask questions and speak openly and candidly.”
With Halloween and No Hate November both approaching, BSG felt it was important to address bias and cultural appropriation, as first year students do not have the context of events such as the “tequila,” “gangster” and “Cracksgiving” parties that occurred during the last two academic years. At each of these parties, some Bowdoin students dressed in costumes that stereotyped elements of Latinx, Black and Native American cultures.
BSG discussed how to preemptively address issues of race on campus, specifically through Intergroup Dialogue, a program that pairs one white student with one student of color for a seven-week discussion program facilitated by a staff member. Currently, not all students who want to participate are able to due to a shortage of staff. Fisher said BSG plans to call on the College to train more faculty members.
She is happy with BSG’s progress from the meeting.
“I think the discussion went really well,” Fisher said.
Red mint, green mint: Fall Art Show examines polarizations in politics on campus
Amidst a hectic election cycle and in the wake of a year full of divisive social issues, artists at Bowdoin reflect on how our choices shape who we are in the fourth annual student-led Fall Art Show at Ladd House. Run by the Bowdoin Art Society and curated by Julian Ehrlich ’17, June Lei ’18 and Hugo Hentoff ’19, the exhibition features student art in the yellow and mahogany rooms, as well as a balloon installation in the basement.
According to Lei, the curatorial team constructed the student-led exhibits in an effort to create an atmosphere where art can be heard and impact the way students think. They chose a theme of polarization.
“[This year’s theme was] both in abstract reference to the upcoming election but also regarding the seemingly-arbitrary choices we make at Bowdoin that serve to construct our identities,” Lei wrote in the editorial statement for the show.
“We were really inspired by the idea of taking a red mint versus a green mint—it’s such a little thing, but people judge you on that,” Lei said.
“[Our choices] are influenced by conscious and unconscious things in the same way choosing a red mint or a green mint is,” Ehrlich added.
According to Ehrlich, the balloon installation in the basement reflects the larger theme of polarization both in regard to the election and culture at Bowdoin.
“What we liked about polarization was that it was a relevant societal concept and could be represented in a very physical way,” said Ehrlich.
The installation features 3,000 yellow and blue balloons printed with the words “right” and “wrong.” Initially, the balloons were in separate corners of the room, but as more people interacted with the exhibit, the balloons mixed together.
“My hope would be to think about how even though the choices we make can feel constricting and create categories, that they are less different than we think,” Ehrlich said.
The main rooms of the exhibit feature artwork by students, with a range of pieces across various media and social circles.
Evan Stevens ’17 contributed a piece on the neurological phenomenon of synesthesia. His piece was inspired by Dan Flavin, an artist who creates minimalist sculptures with fluorescent light fixtures. Hie piece, entitled “Family Portrait,” weaves together personal and familial experience and is a form of bioart.
Stevens’ piece features four fluorescent tubes covered in gels that make them orange, red and blue when lit up. Arranged in a rectangle, the piece mimics the structure of DNA.
“I had to be inspired by something biological, neurological. Basically, my synesthesia causes me to associate myself with the color orange and my parents, my mom and dad, with red and blue respectively,” said Stevens.
He added that it fits in with the category of polarization since it was largely about him recognizing how his synesthesia affected his experience at Bowdoin.
“I want people, without even knowing anything about synesthesia, to be let in this different world and experience something transcendental,” said Stevens.
In her piece, entitled “Circle Xuan Qu Waits to Pick Out Watermelon Slice,” Laura Griffee ’17 tracks people as they walk around Thorne Dining Hall. Intrigued by the webcam in Thorne and the readily accessible video footage online, Griffee intended to meditate on the larger theme of surveillance in her piece.
“It reflects the culture of having technology be pervasive throughout our lives,” said Griffee. “There is a little bit of polarization in that, whether it be the extremes of it being received very positively or negatively.”
Griffee hopes that the piece can be part of an active discussion on the personal choice to use technology and how this can influence our future.
At the opening last night, attendees reflected on both these pieces and how the discussion of polarization and choice influences culture at Bowdoin.
“It was a very visceral way to represent divides on campus,” said Theodore Christian ’19.
Natalie Youssef ’19 added that “there have been events in which we’ve had a lot of tension regarding race and discrimination, so it’s an important installation just to open the discussion.”
Sponsored by Student Activities, Residential Life, the Kurtz Fund and Ladd House, the Fall Art Show will be on display through October 23.
Local booksellers tell their own stories
Walking into the Gulf of Maine bookstore in Brunswick is like entering into a different era. Opened 38 years ago by Gary Lawless and Beth Leonard, the bookstore holds no best-sellers. Instead, Beat-generation authors plaster one wall, Maine legends line another and poetry climbs from the floor to the ceiling.
Lawless and Leonard sit in the middle of the store taking turns attending to and chatting with customers. They reveal their intimacy with books little by little through stories of their time in college and of the store’s inauguration on Maine Street.
The owners met in 1974 at a Brunswick bookstore called Bookland. Lawless worked at the bookstore and Leonard was a frequent customer.
Lawless said he and Leonard bonded over a shared interest in reading, particularly in reading poetry.
The two went on to open their own store that would carry small publications, poetry and literature: “All the stuff that wasn’t commercial enough for the chain,” said Leonard.“We didn’t have any expectations of making money. We just wanted to promote these writers we loved,” said Leonard.
The current collection and decor at Gulf of Maine reflect the alternative lifestyle of Lawless and Leonard prior to opening the bookstore.
Lawless spent his years after college learning from Gary Snyder, environmental activist and member of the Beat Generation. Although he grew up in Belfast, Maine, and went to Colby College, Lawless developed an interest in East Asian religion after reading “The Dharma Bums” by Jack Kerouac in high school.
The book’s protagonist is based on Gary Snyder himself. Lawless wrote to Snyder saying, “I don’t want to go to graduate school, I just want to come live at your house and be your apprentice.” After graduation, he hitchhiked to California to live with Snyder.
“It was so different from the life I lived in little sheltered Maine in the 50’s and 60’s. All of sudden I was in California where every guy I met had a pony tail. Nineteen seventy-three—what a wild time to be there,” said Lawless.
“I was opened up to this wider world of literature, art, music and dance ... that I wouldn’t have even known about if I stayed in one place,” he said.
Eventually, Lawless returned to Maine, where he started to work at Bookland and would eventually meet Leonard.
Lawless explained that upon returning to Maine, he “sort of fell into this [job].”“There’s a semi-logical progression—my life has always had to do with books, literature and writing,” he said.
Lawless was a writer-in-residence for two years at Preble Street, an organization in Portland that provides services for the homeless. Today, in addition to co-owning Gulf of Maine, Lawless runs writing workshops for underserved communities and teaches at the Midcoast Senior College.
“Last semester, I taught a Dante class at the Midcoast Senior College, so I had people that age talking about hell for eight weeks. It was really different from talking to a room full of 18 to 21-year-olds, since these people are close to the end of their lives and thinking about what is after the end of life.”
Running their own bookstore makes it easy to decide what kind of literature they want to sell.“We do make it our business to push other kinds of literature that we consider useful to the conversation of our community,” said Lawless.
Gulf of Maine does not carry any “right-wing commentators,” said Lawless.“But our regular customers know that and know we own our opinions and curate the books to reflect that,” he added.
The bookstore also hosts events such as readings and signings with famous authors.“We had Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gary Snyder, Terry Tempest Williams, Bill McKibben—some of our heroes,” said Lawless.
Aside from the deep connection the store has with authors and publishers, the best part of the job, according to both Lawless and Leonard, is getting to know their customers.
“I love our customers—the people we meet. In a good bookstore, you meet good people,” added Leonard.
“It’s not like a grocery store, where you usually do not tell stories to clerk. Here, people tell you stories,” said Lawless.
Lawless added, “Bookstores are a community center for ideas and access to information. Information is tools. We try to provide the information we see as tools to social change and community building.”
On November 4th, Gulf of Maine will host a reading by translators of Zabel Yesayan’s acclaimed novels.
BCMA debuts colonial portrait of Elizabeth Bowdoin
The Bowdoin College Museum of Art (BCMA) has added to its series of portraits of Elizabeth Bowdoin, augmenting its collection with the installment of a pastel by colonial artist John Copley. On September 21, the Museum held a discussion about the visiting portrait and Copley, who is traditionally regarded as one of the most well-known portrait painters from the American colonies.
Elizabeth Bowdoin was the older sister of James Bowdoin, the founder of the College. The portrait, completed in 1767 and titled “Lady Temple (Elizabeth Bowdoin),” came to the Museum on loan from a private collection. Installed next to three other works of Elizabeth Bowdoin, Copley’s work showcases the chronology and political history of her life as well as the development of American colonial art.
Led by Joachim Homann, museum curator, and Laura Fecych Sprague, consulting curator of decorative arts, the discussion centered around the pastel in the context of Bowdoin’s collection. According to Sprague, the recent addition has strengthened the overall collection of portraits as well as provided valuable insight into Elizabeth Bowdoin and her family’s patronage of art in early America.
“It is her life in pictures, painted by the best artists of the time, who happened to be the founding fathers of American art,” said Homann.
Copley painted during a time when “America was an outpost of wonder,” according to Linda Docherty, associate professor of art history emerita.
“[Copley] very much aspired to paint at the level of the distinguished painters, who were English,” she said.
According to Homann, Elizabeth Bowdoin also represented the transition from a European identity to a colonial one. Her husband, Sir John Temple, was the first British ambassador to the United States.
“They lived a beautiful, glamorous life in New York City in this strange situation representing the former colonial power,” Homann said.
According to Docherty, the portrait of Elizabeth Bowdoin was painted on the occasion of her marriage as a pairing to John Temple’s portrait by Copley a few years prior and showcases an interesting time in colonial history when anti-British sentiment was beginning to form an identity for colonial values.
In its introduction of art as a way to emphasize the individual, the newly-added piece represents a shift from previously held conceptions about American portraiture.
“[The portrait is] a dialogue from soul to soul, person to person, through the mediation of the work of art,” Homann said. “Previously it was just about marking status and family connections, and establishing one’s rank in the world.”
American portraiture, especially pastels done by Copley, embodied ideas of the Enlightenment–that each person had their own natural talents and character to be expressed through art.
“This immediacy was best expressed in pastel portraits,” Homann said. “Because they are born out of a moment.”
According to Docherty, this spontaneous nature of pastel portraiture was used by Elizabeth Bowdoin as a medium of communication. When living in London, Bowdoin wrote to her parents about the portraits she had sent, telling them where to hang them. Before the days of internet and iMessage, the portrait was a medium of visual communication with relatives.