A periodic column
by Steve Duffy ‘77
August 25, 2011 – It is hard to believe that four years of the collective effort for Antioch College’s revival, has flown by. Hundreds of folks have done so many different things. It has been a wonderful, although tumultuous, time. Perhaps we will now become a boot camp for “evolution.” One wonders what Stephen Jay Gould ’63 or Bob Bieri ’49 might say.
There is some palpable excitement in the village about the arrival of some new faces to go along with a new season, and a new period for Antioch College. One day last week, I headed down to the Yellow Springs Credit Union for some “folding money,” as I’m a little bit of an old school person (and maybe a wee bit old, too). As I headed across Xenia Avenue, villager Don Hollister, son of former faculty member and Trustee Barry Hollister, shouted across the street: “How many days now?”
“About thirty-five,” I said. I think we were both extraordinarily excited just to be able to have that exchange.
Even while classes are about a month away, the changes at this evolving Antioch College are already visible.
Take, for example, the Antioch College Farm.
On a recent night, I peeked out as Antioch administrators Eric Miller ‘81, Micah Canal ‘08, Louise Smith ’77, and some volunteers from Wright State moved mountains of compost. There are lettuce, kale, and arugula seeds in the ground. Maybe some of the new students will tend the crops, maybe some folks in Yellow Springs will enjoy the bounty , and maybe some of the plants might find their way into Don Hollister’s “world’s best potato salad.”
Elissa Olin ’84, owner of a store called Green in Bklyn, told me recently that her “green gospel” is that we be gentle with each other, and learn to be gentle in living on Mother Earth. Well that seems to me as cool as those garden crops in the farm.
I keep the hope, as we pursue greener ways of living, that we build a community in which we are kind to the earth and to each other Antioch has always had a certain soul, even when it lacked some amenities. And on occasion, the community exhibited some misdirected anger when parts of the world were not totally perfected.
Yet, it was always home base for our nomadic tribe of Antiochians. During the last decade, students used the term called “transient mode home.” It appeared in written form in various places, including as a tattoo. Home resonates with many of us. When I had one of the worst moments in my life – the murder of a seventeen-year-old nephew – one of the emotionally safest spaces for me was this campus. I remember calling Joe Cali at 6:00 a.m. and saying, “I just went through a murder. I am already at the library.”
The community got me through those first moments of denial and confusion. It was a couple of hours into the work day that a faculty member came to the Olive Kettering Library circulation desk and sized me up.
“Oh, I can see you’re not yourself today. Maybe you want to come to my office for a minute.”
I did, and let some of the grief out. Before the day was over, some students also took time and wept with me over the Xerox machine.
The Antioch College community gave me the support I needed. I hope the community going forward will keep its soul and continue to be a place where folks are gentle with each other and Mother Earth.
Hey, and when will that arugula be ready? It’s full of all the Antioch-sidents! Good for the heart, and good for the soul – as are all of you.
Steve Duffy ‘77 is a library circulation specialist and special assistant to alumni relations at Antioch College.