Teaching

Year-End Progress Report on City Farm San Luis Obispo

Sunday, January 21st, 2018

For the last four years the core mission of our non-profit has been to fulfill the terms of our 20-year lease with the City of San Luis Obispo: to manage the 15 acres of arable land at the Calle Joaquin Agricultural Reserve so as to 1) facilitate production of crops by small commercial organic farmers and 2) to provide educational programs about local agriculture to students and the general public.

During 2017 the City Farm School Project has continued for the fourth year to provide innovative instruction for academic credit to students in the “Farm” class at Pacific Beach Continuation High School with the enthusiastic support of students, teachers and administration.  Throughout the year and during summer school, students walk to the farm with their instructors from their nearby campus twice a week to engage in hands-on learning about soil, irrigation, planting, cultivating, harvesting, cooking and eating the food they grow. (more…)

Shakespeare Reading Paul: Heavenly Fraud in The Winter’s Tale

Saturday, May 27th, 2017

A couple of days before the conference in Jerusalem for which this paper was written, I woke up before dawn to avoid the crowds and went down to the Old City to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Under a dark and cavernous rotunda, before the shrine covering the tomb from which Jesus is said to have been resurrected, priests in splendid vestments swung censers, sang prayers and placed communion wafers in the mouths of the few worshippers in attendance. During the performance of that ceremony I sensed the tangible power of their faith. Though I didn’t share it, I was alerted to the gravity of the subject of my upcoming talk. (more…)

Lund Farm Day Camp: An Article in the Lund Barnacle

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

http://www.lundcommunity.ca/ESW/Files/Fall_2014-_online.pdf

Lund Farm Day Camp operated for three two-week sessions during the summers of 1973 and 1974. 25 to 35 kids in grades 1 through 8 from all over the district attended each session. The camp was headquartered at the old homestead on the Lund Highway owned today by Ed and Maggie Bereziak and at the time by Steven and Janet Marx, and previously by the Bleiler, Larson and Carlson families. Its original hand-adzed vertical cedar walls housed the cookshack for a logging camp in the 1890’s.

The camp’s activities included caring for a herd of goats, 35 chickens, a pair of ducks, two sheep, six rabbits, and a pig named Snorky Porker. Children also tended, harvested and preserved vegetables from a large garden and fruit from the ancient orchard, baked pies in the outdoor woodstove, built cedar-stave fences, sheared, washed, carded, spun and crocheted sheep’s wool, and dammed up the stream for a swimming hole. Recreational activities included a morning singsong, capture-the-flag in the pasture, writing and performing plays, swinging on a huge zunga and in a gillnet hammock, along with hiking and swimming.

Each day concluded with a gathering at which the children contributed reports recorded in a daily log. A sample: “We played on the big Zunga. Worked on the dam. Found a frog and three water snakes. Peter came and cut hay. Fred came to take pictures. One chicken got away and we caught it again. Chased Laurie and Steven with hoops. Mulched lettuce and corn. Cleaned up cubbies. Fed ducks. Baby goats nursed off Mama. Michael and Val clipped chicken wing. Flag making. Played drama games. Made birthday cake in Joanne’s loft. Waded in pool. Joanne drove Kent to hospital. Went to beach. Drank out of stream. Ken and Pauline learned to swim. Steven took a group to climb mountain.”

The camp’s emphasis was on teaching some of the skills required to live in the bush in an earlier era. According to an article in the Powell River News of July 16, 1973, “The first batch of children at the camp have almost completed a scale-model of nearby Craig farm. They were taken on a tour of the farm by its owner, learned its history and are now reconstructing the site…”

Families paid $10 per child per session. During the first year students were brought to camp by carpool. The second year’s budget included a bus and driver for daily pickup and delivery. Each week included a one-night sleep-over, either on the farm or on Savary Island, transportation provided by local tugs and fishboats.

The original idea for the Camp was dreamed up by Janet and Steven in early January 1973, when their unemployment insurance ran out. It started to materialize as a result of brainstorming and collaboration with Kenneth Law, who settled on the farm in mid-February. It was funded by Opportunities For Youth, a federal program encouraging local community development.

In addition to the organizers, the Camp offered ten weeks of gainful employment to Gerry Karagianis, Laurie Derton, Joanne Power, Elaine Sorenson, Anne Wheeler, Pam Huber, Randy Mann, Mike Nelson, Rob Dramer, David Creek, Gae Holtby and Janet McGuinty. It was supported by the Powell River School District, the Sliammon Band and many community volunteers.

 

Dusty Davis: 1976 – August 9 2014

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

 I met Dusty in Spring 2001.  He was a student in my English class at Cal Poly, “Ecoliterature: Reading and Writing the Landscape.” Though he looked no older than the others, it was clear from his quiet yet confident demeanor that he was a “mature student.” Our distant but warm friendship began when he took up my weekly invitation to extend our Thursday afternoon class hikes with a sleepout somewhere on Cal Poly Land. We wandered above the railroad tracks and discovered a fawn left sleeping in the tall grass by its mother, a bubbling spring, and a patch of rare Mariposa Lilies.

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Another Thursday we camped above Stenner Canyon and the next morning found our way down Dairy Creek and crossed fences to get back to Poly in time for 9 AM classes. He was wonderful company, easy to talk to, easy to be quiet with, open to adventure.

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At the end of the quarter I asked each student to submit one piece of work they’d completed for inclusion in a class anthology.  I was planning to copy and paste them into a crude Word document and pass out duplicated copies, but Dusty volunteered to do a real graphic layout and then insisted on hand-sewing and binding 40 copies in order to learn and practice those skills. I remember him staying up till the small hours to complete the job, along with Elena whom he’d recruited to help, and the gasps of wonder when these unique artifacts were distributed to his classmates at the final exam.

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