Thu, 02 May 2013 10:24:00 CDT — by: Daniel Church, C'11, Sustainability Post-Baccalaureate Fellow '12-'13
Now that classes are finished and students are battening down the hatches on their final push of work and exams, it seems like a good time to reflect on last week’s numerous (and overwhelming successful) EarthWeek events. While all of the events were received well and had healthy turnouts, it is perhaps best to summarize the three of the best events of the week.
1) Dr. James Hunt’s “Restless Fires–Following John Muir’s 1,000 Mile Walk to the Gulf”
Dr. James Hunt, of Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington, kicked off EarthWeek with a fabulous and engaging lecture recounting young John Muir’s 1,000 mile walk from Indiana to Georgia and Florida in 1868. Not only was the material fascinating, Dr. Hunt’s presentation was superb. He read exerts from his book, many of which contained long passages taken directly from John Muir’s journal from his travels. With great passion and poise, Hunt made the audience feel as if they were listening to a young Muir himself, divinely inspired and astounded by the incredible gifts that God made manifest in nature. The theme of the talk, besides recounting Muir’s life and, more specifically, his 1,000 walk, was that of nature’s divine beauty. It was a great way to celebrate Earth Day and an even better way to kickoff EarthWeek which saw numerous events celebrating the glory of nature and life on our planet.
2) Jonathan Meiberg’s “The Myth and the Milky Way”
Jonathan Meiberg (C’97) is not one for having narrow interests. He is the frontman and songwriter for the successful indie outfit, Shearwater, which has recorded ten albums on major labels Subpop and Matador Records. He has a Masters in Geography from the University of Texas, is a self-proclaimed ornithologist, and has written for various music and science journals. And he was an English major at Sewanee. Thus, while the material of his lecture (the intersection of nature and art) was quite broad, he was able to narrow it down with an intellectual wit and craft I have rarely seen in a lecture. His talk not only conveyed personal ideas of the interconnected nature of life on Earth but also eluded to the mystical grandeur that only living creatures, dramatic landscapes, and ornate musical compositions can convey. During his lecture, scenes from films by French filmmaker Jean Painleve played on the screens behind him, while haunting dissonant music echoed off the aging wooden beams of Convocation Hall. Perhaps his lecture didn’t directly answer the question: “What is the connection between art and nature?”. Such a question is as big as life itself. He did, however, address the mystery of life and music, feeling at those untouchable realities much in the same way the octopus shown in the film behind him blindly felt his way across the dark ocean floor.
3) Environmental Art Show
The Environmental Art Show was perhaps the best way to cap a busy yet extremely successful EarthWeek. Students, faculty, staff, and community member alike wandered through Harris Commons admiring the art show, which contained over 15 pieces from student, seminarians, and community members. And while these beautiful works were on display, just as beautiful were the sweet harmonies of Bea Troxel and Joey Mooradian’s music as well as the delicious spread of catered goodies prepared by Natural Bridge catering. The pieces of art were put on auction, raising a total of $180 for Deb McGrath’s Sewanee-Haiti Partnership program. There pieces were also part of a contest judged by Dr. Deb McGrath and Post-Baccalaurate Fellow Daniel Church.
Best Overall Piece or Pieces: “Photos from Bois Jolie”–Gabby Freeman, C’13
Best Use of Recycled or Reused Materials: “Gulf Regurgitation” and “Flyaway” Sculptures– Francis Walter
Best Environmental Message: “Think Outside the Bottle” Sculpture–April Shi (C’14) and Noni Hill (C’16)