Bench Painting Honors Hispanic Heritage Month

Steve Charles—Not even a week after The Bachelor published a front page article about the tradition of painting the Senior Bench, that landmark received the most artful treatment I’ve seen on it in my 13 years here.
Freshman Ryan Lutz was a member of the team with Unidos por Sangre, the Latino Organization at Wabash, that painted the bench, and he blogs about it here.
Kelvin Burzon painted the memorable Inca warrior on the back of the College landmark, and he had this to say about the project he completed along with art majors Aaron Cantu ’11 and Juan Diaz ’10 to mark Hispanic Heritage Month:
I designed the bench in collaboration with Victor Nava ’10. It’s inspired by Heritage Month and the richness in color and symbols found in the Latin culture.

"Since Unidor por Sangre means United in Blood, we decided to do the illustration of an Inca, or a native indian, holding a heart, with the blood to represent our

See a photo album with details from the Unidos por Sangre’s version of the Senior Bench here.

Running Wild

Steve Charles—I was interviewing Professor Greg Redding ’88 this week about running his first 100-miler over the summer—the Bighorn Mountain Wild and Scenic Trail Run. One hundred miles of being pushed to his absolute limits on mountain trails between 4,000 and 9,000 feet in elevation. Running day and night, through summer heat and banks of snow. He’s writing about the experience for Wabash Magazine’s upcoming issue on men’s health.
After hearing some of the agonizing and ecstatic details of Greg’s run (and his unforgettable description of turning off his headlamp during the moonless night and running the trail with the shimmering Milky Way stretching across the sky above him), I asked him why he does this—why all the hours of training, the pain, why he’s chosen a sport that is, as he admits, the exercise used for punishment in other sports?
I’ll let him answer that question himself in the piece he’s writing, but I noticed a book in Greg’s office—Why We Run: A Natural History, by Bernd Heinrich—and found these two quotes that offer food for thought.
The first is from the late Jim Fixx: “As runners, I think we reach directly across the endless chain of history. We are reasserting, as modern man seldom does, our kinship with ancient man, and even with the wild beasts that preceded him.”
The second is from Heinrich himself, who concludes a chapter on the connection between today’s runners and our ancestors with this: “There is nothing quite so gentle, deep, and irrational as our running—and nothing quite so savage, and so wild.”
Greg trains on the trails of Shades State Park, which is one of the places Jim Amidon and I shot video and photographed the Wabash Cross Country team in late August as they began their summer training camp. (See photo albums here, here, and here.)

I asked Wabash Cross Country Coach Roger Busch, whose training camps are known for their cross training (how many cross country training camps include a canoe race?) what he was hoping to accomplish when he gathered the team together at Camp Talitha this year.

“The main reason for camp is team chemistry,” Roger said. “As corny as it may sound, being trustworthy to one another as individuals goes a long way in a sport that is demanding physically like distance running. The better you know someone the more likely you are to run for them and the good of the team.”
“Having a common goal and the passion to pursue it as a unit is something most people struggle with in life, and the sooner our young men can come to terms with sacrifices beyond their own personal pride, I believe the better off they will be as people who are ready to contribute to the world.”
So how did this year’s camp go?
“This is the best year so far for camp,” Roger said. “I believe the guys care more about one another than in the past. They are "hanging out" more together outside of practice, and I think that’s because of the one-on-one time at camp. I talk to them often about passion and emotion instead of simply going through the motions, the checklists, and I feel like it is slowly sinking in!”
Even President White is running these days. He completed the four-mile alumni cross country meet last weekend after an invigorating summer spent, in part, hiking in the Grand Teton Mountains of Wyoming. In his Chapel Speech yesterday he recalled encountering there a bear “as big as a Volkswagen, maybe bigger.” His reaction to that encounter provides yet another, perhaps more Darwinian answer to the question of why we run.
“He was maybe 10 yards in front of us walking across the trail from the lake,” Pat said. “I looked at him, he looked at me, and then I found my legs.”
Was he still carrying the image of the bear with him as motivation as he crossed the finish line last weekend? Jim Fixx wrote of kinship with “the wild beasts the preceded us” as one motivation for running. How much more so those that follow?

In photos: Seth Einterz powers up the trail during training camp at Camp Talitha; Cross Country Coach Roger Busch ’96 lead his team through a workout.

Visiting Thomas Hollowell ’00

Steve Charles—The biographical blurb on the back of Thomas Hollowell’s new book Allah’s Garden says he grew up in tiny Gessie, Indiana, population 94.
That’s not exactly true.
Thomas’s house is just north of the railroad tracks—tracks where his father was nearly killed one day when a diesel locomotive slammed into his Chevy Blazer and tossed it thirty feet off back into the corn fields.
And that area Thomas lives just north of tiny Gessie, with its single meandering street morphing from weathered pavement to gravel halfway through “town,” that section where Thomas and his identical twin brother Terry grew up in a small house with a view of the sun rising over the fields—is called Dinktun.
“When we were kids, there used to be a sign with that written on it,” Thomas, now 31, tells me as we amble down his long gravel driveway, the “Main Street” of Dinktun. (He wants to make sure I get the name right so he spells it out and I write it on my hand.)
So Thomas Hollowell, who just published a book about his adventures in Morocco and the captivity and eventual release of a doctor imprisoned in the Sahara for 25 years, who runs a travel company there, who was almost jailed in Marrekesh for kissing a beautiful woman when he was a Peace Corps trainee, didn’t grow up in Gessie, population 94, but Dinktun, population—well, as Thomas and I walk down his driveway on this peaceful Tuesday afternoon,  we’re it. (Not counting his mom and stepdad, who are taking a nap in the house.)
I’m here to interview and photograph Thomas “in context,” in his hometown, the day before he’s scheduled to speak to 150 kids at his old high school. After getting taking a few shots of Thomas with the official sign of of the town of Gessie (complete with two antique plows), we walk over to the place where Thomas and Terry so many hours and days growing up in this town that is really just a big neighborhood——a concrete pad bordered by chain link that serves as the town basketball court.
“You know, Terry and I built those backboards last year,” Thomas says as he shoots around and I photograph him. "And those rims, those rims are from Wabash! From the old Armory. We saw them after they’d been taken down and asked Chick Clements if we could have them, and he said, ‘Sure, we were just going to throw them away.’”
So a little bit of Wabash athletic history now resides in Gessie, poplulation 94.
A neighbor woman calls out to Thomas, volunteers to take all her kids’ toys off the court where she’d moved them to clear off her lawn for mowing. I tell her the toys kind of add to the shot, she offers again, then realizes I really do want the toys to stay.
“79,” she yells to Thomas from her yard, and he explains that she is referring to the record he set for most consecutive free throws on the town court. The record he set during another visit home last December.
“It was almost dark, and this huge full moon was coming up as I started shooting,” Thomas says, then flashes a grin I’d see a lot of that day. “I didn’t know if I was going to set a record, or become a werewolf, so I just kept shooting!”
On this peaceful, gorgeous afternoon (temperature about 70, no humidity, light breeze, bright sky), its hard to imagine Thomas, who seems so in his element here, as a world traveler who lives in a desert country and just completed a book about a part of its history many of its native inhabitant know little about. A writer who will also have his guidebook to Ireland published next year.
But Thomas says he likes to have a lot going on. When not researching and writing, he keeps up the website for his book and the travel company. For his book launch party at at the sheik Idlewild Books in New York, he did much of the pre-event publicity (much of it non-traditional, through online social networking). He and Terry now compete in triathletes (even though they live thousands of miles apart, Thomas says the twins rarely go more than three months without one visiting the other). And the more he talks, the harder it gets to imagine him growing up in Dinktun, but he seems totally at ease here, too.
“When I come back sometimes there’s a sort of culture shock,” Thomas explains. “But the real shock comes when you go to a place like New York, where I just was, to Gessie.”
He talks about the house he lives in Ifrane, the beauty of the place, his interactions with the people, the friends he’s made, and especially Fazia, ‘my girlfriend and almost fiancée," and you can see he’s a man of both small town and cosmopolitan natures. 
 “I mean, it’s not exactly like I feel here in Gessie (Dinktun), when I look out on this field and know I’m home,” Thomas says, talking on his porch now and trying to describe the beautiful Moroccan city of Ifrane where he now lives and gesturing toward the corn fields and the two angus cattle grazing nearby. “But when I open the door there and look out, I do feel at home there. You could say I’ve found home.”
It gets me thinking about this work of finding home. I grew up in the desert Southwest, but after 30 years in Indiana, I feel unexpectedly at home on the jungle-like banks of Sugar Creek in high summer. Yet any time I return to the mountains and brown desert valleys of Arizona and New Mexico I feel a rush of memories and a sense of being where I belong.
Maybe it’s the same with Thomas and his green Indiana village near the Wabash bottomlands and his view from the high mountain city of Ifrane. To feel at home in two places, when some folks never feel at home anywhere, seems a gift. Or perhaps neither place is truly home, the place of rest and memory. Maybe that’s part of the dual nature of folks like Thomas, of many of us.
Anyway, I asked Thomas to consider following this “finding home” thread in the piece he’s writing for the next issue of Wabash Magazine.
For now, you can read more about him and his latest book here.

A Fire Runs Through It

Steve Charles—We talk often about how immersion trips recharge and reshape our students’ lives, and rightly so.

I’ve been on two of those trips and seen the changes. I’ve read accounts of them from dozens of students over the years, and I’ve published in Wabash Magazine professors’ reflections on how and why this defining pedagogical approach of early 21st century Wabash is so effective.

When I think of experiences I wish I’d had as a college student, the immersion trip is what comes first to mind.

We talk less often about how immersion trips recharge and reshape our teachers. Yet in many cases, it’s no less true. Read David Hadley’s post to the “Flyfishing: The Liberal Art” blog (when it gets posted this weekend), if you have any doubts. Here’s a teacher nearing retirement who may just be doing the best teaching and learning of his life.
I find his entry—and his class’s symbolic "leap of faith" from the bridge over the Yellowstone River—moving but not surprising. Last week when I photographed David and his class as they worked on their casting skills in front of the Chapel, trying to teach freshmen the basics of flyfishing—this focus on the physical and mechanical rather than intellectual exchange he’s used to leading in the classroom—was already causing him to reflect on his teaching methods.
“You teach something for 30, 40 years and you make certain assumptions,” he told me (and this is a paraphrase) after trying to come up with the words to explain how to cast, then practically miming the technique for the student. “This makes me rethink some of the ways I teach political science.”
That same evening I watched David Krohne, a masterful teacher of biology field work, the original immersion trips, practically throwing himself into instructing these guys in casting, using any way he could—visual, auditory, physical, whatever worked—to help them get better.
Aus Brooks—retired Aus Brooks—was coming at it his own way, having conversations with the students, listening, learning about them, quietly sharing his own thoughts.
Watching three professors teaching flyfishing technique to 12 students in Little Giant Stadium may be an unexpected sight, but the one-on-one attention, the effort, the give and take, is a decent metaphor for the lengths to which Wabash teachers will go to reach their students.
Not to mention the distances they’ll go.
On this one trip, many students had more one-on-one talks, shared discoveries, and laughs with their Wabash professors than students of earlier years had for their entire careers. A road trip with your professors and students, some of whom may just become your friends for life, all the time having your eyes opened to the world around you—how much better can it get? We know how important that’s become for Wabash students today, with all the distractions they face. But Wabash professors are also getting all those interactions, all those conversations, the deep rewards of working, traveling, and learning together. They’re recharging and reshaping each other.
The frequency of this exchange between so many Wabash students and their teachers is one of the reasons I believe today’s Wabash is the best, and for the largest number of its students, that it’s ever been.
I remember watching a similar rejuvenation a dozen or so years ago in another Wabash teacher, Aus Brook’s good friend, chemistry professor Paul McKinney. In the twilight of his career, of his life too-soon ended, he mentored new professors (then) Charlie Blaich and Scott Feller and others on the Teaching and Learning Committee, and at the same time gained new momentum for his own teaching.

In his final Chapel speech, still recovering from treatments for the cancer that would eventually take his life, he spoke speak passionately on "Love and Language," drawing equally from the Bible, Plato, Galileo, Li Po, Nietzche, Heisenberg, and Max Planck, and wrapping it all up in 20 minutes and receiving a standing ovation from his colleagues, students and professors alike.

In those last years he also gave the most energetic, impassioned talk I’ve ever seen at the Ides of August, the annual event where faculty share their scholarship and reflections on teaching with one another. Standing in the lobby of Salter Hall, using a stretched out Slinky (Professor John Zimmerman holding the other end) to explain something whose meaning seems less important now than the zeal with which Paul explained it. 
When I interviewed him that year, Paul told me, “There are two kinds of truth: the cold truth and the hot truth. The cold truth is very dehumanizing; what one needs is warmth of truth in his contact with other in the learning process

“I try to use the metaphor of the fire to start my class. I try to talk about creativity, and it doesn’t have to be in the sciences, it’s sort of a human drive. I think what one tries to do is to work with students so that you’re an advocate for the best that they can give.”

I can’t think of Montana and flyfishing without thinking of Norman Maclean and his book, A River Runs Through It (one of many books Hadley’s class is reading this semester) or the lines made famous by Robert Redford’s film adaptation: "Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it."
Or the elegaic final words: "I am haunted by waters."
But reading the writing of students, alums, and David Hadley from this trip, and sitting through yesterday’s Ides of August, where younger professors talked about the ideas, equations, experiments, and art that keeps them awake at night and gets them up in the morning, I thought of Paul McKinney’s fire.

“May the fire always be with you,” he said at the end of that final Chapel talk.

And it is, in ways that Paul would revel in today.

Wabash’s “American Idol” Releases CD

Steve Charles—Readers of Wabash Magazine may remember singer/songwriter/pianist Leslie Hunt, who graced the cover of our “Daughters” issue in the fall of 2007.

The daughter of Steve Hunt ’76 had been a semifinalist on the 2007 edition of Fox TV’s “American Idol,” and I traveled to Chicago a couple times that summer to interview both Leslie and her dad and attend the CD release party for Steve’s own band, all for a story about both of them that we called “American Idyll.”

Leslie just released her second CD since those interviews with the attention grabbing title, “Your Hair is on Fire”and appeared on Chicago’s TV-7 last week performing the CD’s single, “American Dream Man.”
“The product of passion and tragedy” is how Leslie’s Web site describes the work, a phrase that’s also a good description of Leslie’s last two years. Hardly an idyll. Leslie’s sister, Steve’s daughter, Lauren, died in 2008. But Leslie also found love, got married, and has a baby girl due in early September.
Chicago Tribune writer Jonathan Bullington says that Leslie “maintains her balance through music, and her new CD is evidence of that. Part dark and moody, part light and poppy, the album serves as the audio diary of a life set to sound.”
You can hear tracks from the CD here.
Steve was kind enough to let us know about the CD’s release.
“It has been two years in the making, and it is exciting to finally have it available,” Steve said. He notes that the video of “American Dream Man,” which you can view for free at Leslie’s Web site, “is a hoot.”
When I interviewed father and daughter two summers ago, I asked Steve how he felt about his Leslie trying to make it in the long-odds business of music—a world he steered clear of, even as an incredibly talented drummer, choosing instead to support himself and his family through a construction business while playing with friends only the music he really enjoyed playing.
Leslie spoke up first.
“I think it’s great that you never have to take gigs because your bills depend on it,” she said as the three of us sat outside of a Chicago restaurant the night of Steve’s CD release party. “You play only the music you love to play.”
But Steve clearly respected Leslie’s decision, too.
“If she can do what she loves and really make a living at it, wouldn’t that be great?”
And so it is.
Read about Leslie in the Chicago Tribune here.

Read "American Idyll" here.

Photos of Steve and Leslie Hunt by Mark Lind


Tyler’s The First Tee of Hammond Changes Lives

Steve Charles—Barry Tyler’s The First Tee of Hammond golf program for inner city youth changes lives.

You see evidence of that even if you’re just visiting Lost Marsh Golf Course, the program’s home, for a few hours to take photos, as I did in late July.

There are newspaper and magazine articles about those changes up on the clubhouse walls.
There’s Brandon White, the program’s head golf instructor, who earned a college scholarship as a member of the program and now has returned to teach others.
There’s six-year-old Reese Wilson, who trains with the program and last year won "under-seven player of the year" honors at the Balmoral Woods Tour in Crete. 
But read more and you find out the program is even more about teaching life skills than golf technique—teaching kids how to introduce themselves, how to set goals, teaching self-discipline, how to accept responsibility, how to pick yourself up when you’re down.

And, in many ways, it’s also a primer on the Gentleman’s rule.

There’s also Barry himself, whose story we’ll tell in an upcoming issue of Wabash Magazine. Barry says the program gives kids who’d otherwise not step on a golf course the chance to play and learn from the game.
Barry should know—he was one of the program’s first students when he was still playing football at Hammond High in 1999 and working at Lost Marsh. The First Tee was one of those life lesson and confidence builders that helped him graduate from Wabash with a major in speech and political science, even after an injury led him to give up playing football his sophomore year.
It’s a program built on one-on-one relationships. I got to see that firsthand during my photo session, as Brandon listened to and counseled an elementary school-aged girl who was having a tough day. She left all smiles.
Lost Marsh Golf Course itself stands as a metaphor second chances and extraordinary vision. Built over ground that not long ago was a dumping place for slag from then nearby steel mills, Lost Marsh is a world-class 18-hole course and just opened a multi-million dollar clubhouse inspired architecturally by Frank Lloyd Wright’s prairie style, perched on top of what used to be called Bairstow Slag Mountain.

Lost Marsh is a place of transformation, but for all its growth and impressive new facilities, The First Tee is the most important thing happening there. 

Tyler was named the group’s executive director in Hammond late last year, and he’s grown the program from 50 to almost 500 kids in fewer than 12 months. More than 40 showed up in the two hours that I was there.

But The First Tee is a non-profit in a small office apart from that multi-million dollar clubhouse and is in need of funding. It nearly went broke before Tyler took the helm, and he’s seeking myriad ways to keep the program alive.

That’s where the Wabash community can help. And all you have to do is vote. First Tee is being considered for a Nike “Back Your Block” grant of  $2,500. The program with the most votes wins the grant, and First Tee is currently in second place.

You can read more about the program and its positive impact on kids’ lives (and cast your vote) here. I know that Barry would appreciate your considering it. I also met a bunch of kids who’d be cheering you on!

Click here for a photo album from my visit to Lost Marsh and First Tee.

In photo: Barry Tyler teaches a boy from the local YWCA how to hit the ball out of a sand trap.

“The Poetry in the Life of a College”

Steve Charles—During my favorite moment from this year’s Big Bash Reunion Weekend, five guys from the Class of 2004 were being videotaped in Lilly Library, telling stories from their days at Wabash for our Scarlet Yarns Video Project. Thirty feet away, Bruce Gras ’68, who last spring began, his own story-gathering project, was approached by an older alumnus.
“A friend of mine told me I need to tell you a story,” the alumnus told Bruce, who quietly sat down, pulled out his recorder, and listened.
There in Lilly Library in the 50th year after it was built we had a festival of Wabash stories. A convergence of a video project envisioned and coordinated by my colleague Marilyn Smith, and an online grassroots project coordinated by an alumnus driven to connect Wabash men across the generations.
For anyone who values the history of this place and the relationships it inspires, it was quite a party! For an editor like me who usually has to go on the road to gather stories, it was treasure being brought to our front door.
I’m just going through the DVD Media Center Director Adam Bowen made from the Scarlet Yarns interviews, but the launch of the new Wabash Stories Web site this week brought it all back. There’s such a range in both of these projects: stories about water fights, stories about beloved mentors; about deep friendships and fierce rivalries; learning and losing; family histories contributing to Wabash, Wabash connections casting a new light on family histories. Funny, moving, irreverent, solemn.
To have so many ways now to gather and preserve our history—I couldn’t be more grateful to all those who worked on Scarlet Yarns and the alumni who stopped by.
But to Bruce Gras, Greg Castanias, Mark Dewart, Jim Roper, Phil Coons, Brandon Stewart, and all those contributing to Wabash Stories goes an even deeper  thanks. These are volunteer hours but full-time ideas, all given freely out of concern for a place and people they love and care about. And they’re really just getting started! 
We’ve lost good people these past couple years. Taking a moment to stop, reflect, keep them in our memories, keep the holy and the hilarious flowing through our community bloodstream, makes me hopeful. Maybe we’re learning to save and savor this amazing and singular place.
Byron Trippet once famously said, “The poetry in the life of a college like Wabash is to be found in its history.” Wabash College’s history resides not in buildings, but in her people. The students, alumni, and teachers of this place are its poetry.
Here’s the rest of that Trippet quote, which is found at the beginning of every Academic Bulletin I’ve proofread since I got here 13 years ago:
“It is to be found in the fact that once on this familiar campus and once in these well-known halls, students and teachers as real as ourselves worked and studied, argued and laughed and worshipped together, but are now gone, one generation vanishing after another, as surely as we shall shortly be gone. But if you listen, you can hear their songs and their cheers. As you look, you can see the torch which they handed down to us.”
Thanks to these story projects, you don’t have to imagine “their songs and their cheers.” In Scarlet Yarns or Wabash Stories or the blogs on the Wabash Web site or Wabash Magazine and beyond, you can hear them, read them, and tell them.
I hope you will. As Bruce commented once after Wabash stories was launched, you probably can’t imagine how many people will listen, will hear your story, and, we hope, tell their own.

In photos: Class Agent Mark Shreve ’04 (not pictured) interviewed classmates Patrick Barrett, Todd Vogel, Cody Lawson, Jim Davis Hull, Jacob Pactor, and (not pictured) Roger Neal and showed us all how much fun swapping stories on camera for the Scarlet Yarns Video Project can be. Lower left: Atwood Smith’s mere presence at the Big Bash gave his Class of 1934 50-percent attendance, but his adding a Scarlet Yarns session also brought us a rarely heard first person account from the era of Wabash President Louis Hopkins.

Photos by Steve Charles

“An Adventurous Spirit”

Steve Charles—About this time last week I was 30 miles out on Lake Michigan riding the bow of John Buford’s 27-foot Coronado sailboat, a hood-snapping northwest wind in my face as I splashed through two-foot seas on one of the most beautiful summer days I’ve ever seen. (See a photo album here.)
Stratus and cumulus clouds scudded across the sun, a few building up along the coastline, changing the light on the inland sea every five minutes—from silver to gray to blue. The rigging sang and chattered in the wind, tapping the mast in rhythm with the rise and fall of the Folly, which was on the final day of the final leg of her multi-year voyage from Corpus Christi, Texas to North Point Marina, Wisconsin, via the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Ocean, and various Great Lakes. And John had been at the helm for all of it, the “experience” he thought he needed after he retired from the Army.

“I guess you could say I have an adventurous spirit,” John told me.

You could say that. He had never heard of Wabash, decided to attend after one visit (he encountered Professor of English Walt Fertig, who gave he and his father a tour after finishing his own task of collecting horse chestnuts in the arboretum!). He was a Spanish major here, but spent his junior year (1968) in Colombia. He married his childhood sweetheart, worked special ops in Panama in the pre-Noriego days (learned to fly while he was there), played a key role in the nation-building efforts in Bosnia, helped establish a university, eventually returned to his hometown of Orangeville, IL and bought one landmark building to live in, established a community dinner theater to save another, and now produces, acts, and directs plays there. And he just learned to play the tuba to add to the many other instruments he plays…

No point in giving away the whole story, which we’ll carry in the Winter issue of WM, but John might actually be understated the facts when he says he has an “adventurous spirit.”

So when faced with the dilemma of how to move his boat from Corpus Christi to Virginia (where his wife, then U.S. Army Col. Caryl Buford, now Caryl Buford, U.S. Army (Retired, had been reassigned), he decided, after a few months of sailing, to do it himself. And when Caryl retired and the couple moved full-time to Orangeville, John finished that work by moving Folly as close as he could get her to his current address.
For this final leg, from Charlevoix, MI to North Point, he was ably assisted by Jack Spurway ’69, whom he had reconnected with at this year’s Big Bash. They were catching up when John mentioned the boat, Jack mentioned his own boatbuilding projects at the Wooden Boat School, and someone (it might have been Caryl) suggested Jack help out. As the unofficial chronicler of Jack’s marine adventures, I squeezed my way onto Folly on the last and most beautiful day of the trip.
As I said, we’ll have more about John, his work, and his voyage in an upcoming issue of WM. The best thing about my day on Folly? So much to choose from: meeting John is an adventure in its own rite, and having those generous conversations on the bow of a sailboat headed home on a beautiful day, even better.
Then there was the view of Chicago from the lake. And catching up with Jack, hearing him describe the pleasures of just sitting and staring at the vastness of the water, a similar serenity one experiences gazing at the coals of a campfire late at night.
About 2/3 of the way through the 12-hour trip and after I’d gotten soaked riding through the spray on the bow, John suggested I dry off in “the best seat of the house,” and I took his advice. That “best seat” is just in front of the mast where you can throw down a cushion, lie down, and, if you’re as tired as I was, be rocked to sleep by the rise and fall of the boat. Best nap I’ve had since sleeping up on the Laurentian Shield in the Boundary Waters wilderness two years ago (though this one I took with one hand firmly grasping the rail, like a bird sleeping on a wire!)
Looking forward to learning more about John’s work in Orangeville and writing about it all this fall.

“Find the Place that Sustains You”

Steve Charles—The spring issue of Wabash Magazine came out last week, so I’m thinking of all the good stuff that didn’t make the cut.
Here’s one. From David Krohne’ s Earth Day Chapel Talk, "The Nightmare of Sustainability." This excerpt was supposed to make the Faculty Notes but was grotesquely edited by yours truly to fit the space we had.

Here’s the excerpt, which we’d titled: “The Dark and Bloody Ground Under Our Feet"

"Mike Bachner ’70 discovered Sugar Creek as a high school senior on a visit to the College. For the next 40 years Sugar Creek was his preferred habitat, the place that sustained him. It’s that kind of connection to a place, to a habitat, that we’re in danger of losing.

"I think we need to shift our focus to think about here. And “here” is getting paved over at the rate of 12 acres an hour in Indiana. Twelve football fields every hour of every day, 365 days a year. “Here” is the natural habitat where we really live. This is the habitat that actually sustains each of us.

"Every acre that NICHES Land Trust protects in Central Indiana filters the water we eventually drink, and it gives us one more place to feel the actual earth, what Aldo Leopold called “the dark and bloody ground” under our feet.

"Every protection the Friends of Sugar Creek ensures that the creek will continues to do for all of us what it did for Mike Bachner.

"So find that place that sustains you day in and day out, body and mind and spirit, your preferred habitat.  Protect it; restore it—and it will do the same for you." 

A Magazine By and About Young Alumni

Steve Charles—A colleague stopped me in the Kane House parking lot yesterday to tell me the latest edition of Wabash Magazine“39 Under 39”—was not a good idea. That focusing on only 39 young alumni on the website (or 47 young alumni, as we did in the mathematically challenged WM) would smack of exclusivity. Would leave those young alumni not included in the issue wondering, “Why not me?”
Nothing could be further from our intent. We saw the theme not only as a chance to meet or catch up with some remarkable Wabash alumni, but as an opportunity to explore a time of wonder in all of our lives—those years after Commencement when so much happens, so much changes.
This is an issue of Wabash Magazine by and about young alumni—in their words and images. But I hope that as older alumni read it, they will (like me) be reminded of that time in their own lives—the weddings (being a best man, groomsman, usher, or groom), the career decisions, the mentors, the miscues, the confusion, the clarity, the miracles.
We turned to Adam Cole ’98 for images that illustrated the themes that cropped up as we talked with young alumni—big risks taken, faith, the desire to find a home, the need to define oneself, romance, bouncing back when romance or a job went bad, the desire to serve and be a part of something bigger than oneself. You can see more of his work at I hope this will be the first of many collaborations with this photographer whose works of art just happen to be wedding photographs and portraits.
But for the issue to work and get beyond the trappings of a “top young alumni” propaganda piece, I needed our best young writers to write honestly about their personal experiences—their failures, their successes, what they learned, what they still can’t figure out. And I needed them to take us to those moments, give us the details, to help us older guys remember what it felt like to be 25, 30, 39.
Evan West ’99, Kyle Nickel ’03, Jacob Rump ’05, John Deschner ’97, Jacob Pactor ’04, Joe Warfel ’04, and Kyle Hall ’00 all did so, and in their own inimitable voices. I can’t thank them enough.
And in his End Notes piece, "A Wabash Man, Ten Years Out," Tyler Bush ’99 expresses thoughts I believe many Wabash men have had: The Gentleman’s Rule is an ever-elusive thing when you attempt to practice it in the real world. What does it mean to be a gentleman? How do we become good men, even in the face of tragedy?
So if you’re turned off by the "39 Under 39" theme or think this is going to be some half-baked rip-off of TIME’s Top 100 newsmakers or in the spirit of IBJ’s “40 Under 40,” I hope you’ll take a closer look. Give our writers and young alumni a chance. Read about their lives, hear about them in their own voices. See if you don’t recognize something of yourself, something of Wabash, in them.
And if you’re still thinking, Why not me?, send me a note at charless@wabash. edu. I’d love to hear your story.