We know that COA is a mission-driven institution. This mission flourishes in the hearts and minds of every member of the COA community. We care. We inquire. We persist. While each issue of COA reflects the pursuits, activities, and ethos of the COA community, in the Fall 2017 issue, “The Questions We Ask,” faculty, alumni, and students weigh in on the questions that drive them. 

 

Latest from the COA Magazine

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    The Questions We Ask

    COA’s mission is to inquire, to delve, to care, to create. These are not just words on paper. They flourish within the hearts and minds of every member of the COA community. We asked several members of the COA faculty what questions they asked. Here are their responses.

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    Something Good Will Come of This
    THE QUESTION: Who are Maine’s opiate addicts?
    THE RESPONSE: Something Good Will Come of This, a documentary film
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    Nnimmo Bassey, Nigerian climate activist

    THE QUESTION: If people struggling under great odds and danger could persist, what’s my excuse?

    THE RESPONSE: A graphic biography of Nnimmo Bassey, a Nigerian climate justice activist.

     

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    Melancholia

    In 2016, COA art faculty member Sean Foley explored the qualities of wonder in art. Currently, and for the last four years, he’s also been exploring the humor, frustration, and sadness inherent within a more personal subject, the chronic depression that has been passed down through his paternal line. 

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    The Bow Shop, an excerpt

    I couldn’t believe what I was about to do, but I concentrated, held out my hand, and placed a finger on her mouth. She stopped speaking and I leaned forward to meet her. The next few moments felt both an eternity and an instant, then we were back outside, her hand in mine.

    I felt more alive than I had ever felt. She was beside me now laughing into the night. I was grinning like an idiot and couldn’t stop.”

    An anticipated date goes a bit awry in this short story that’s an excerpt from a full-length novel.

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    My Summer with Grossmutter
    THE QUESTION: How was an entire country convinced that deporting people based on their religion, sexual orientation, political beliefs, or physical ability was acceptable or even necessary?
    THE RESPONSE: My Summer with Großmutter: I Didn’t Understand What Happened Then; That’s Why I Remember
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    Community As Classroom: COA’s Energy Outreach
    The Community Energy Center or CEC was created to connect COA’s sustainability and renewable energy efforts to our surrounding communities, and to ensure the continuation of efforts based in classes, internships and independent studies once each term is done.
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    Enriching the Earth: Abe Noe-Hays ’00 and his Rich Earth Institute
    “How long would it take my family of four to save enough urine to fertilize our hayfield?” I ask fellow alumnus Abe Noe-Hays ’00. He raises his eyebrows. “It’s five acres, you said? You’re going to need some friends.”
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    In Their Own Words: Juan Pablo Hoffmaister ’07: International Policy Specialist
    Since 2005, College of the Atlantic students have attended the annual Conference of Parties, or COPs, to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UNFCCC. Soon COA students were shaping entire terms around meetings, taking classes and full-term residencies to pore over diplomatic language and investigate international treaties with Doreen Stabinsky or Ken Cline, sometimes both.
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    In Their Own Words: Matt Maiorana ’11 Organizer
    Matt Maiorana ’11 went to his first UN negotiation as a second-year in 2007. He’s since attended multiple UN meetings, but after that first meeting he helped create COA’s environmental justice group Earth in Brackets, or [Earth], and obtain official observer status at the UNFCCC. Matt has worked for both the government and advocacy groups, including as an organizer for the 2014 People’s Climate March. Currently, he’s with the nonprofit Oil Change International. He also cofounded the website activistlab.org with Sam Miller-McDonald ’09.
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    Elutriate: the work of Kathleen Donohoe (’91)

     

    Kathleen—Kate—Donohoe (’91) has strong childhood memories of passing through the New Jersey Meadowlands, a region rife with stories about the dumping of illegal chemicals and Mafia victims. “We would hold our noses driving through,” she says. “Still, I thought it was beautiful. I wanted to run away from home, get a boat, find an estuary, and disappear into it.”

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    Why Teach in Taiwan? Reflections on immersive learning
    From December 2016 to March 2017, nine students from eight countries joined education faculty member Bonnie Tai in Taiwan. For the first three weeks, Suzanne Morse, botany faculty member, was with the class, called Human Ecology Abroad in Taiwan, or HEAT. Students studied Mandarin, explored local food systems, participated in several forms of intercultural education, including a primary school of the indigenous Rukai community, wrote travel essays and epistolary poetry, and interviewed residents about the Japanese occupation, among other independent studies.
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    Remembered Earth
    Fire in the field and the birth of fire. Dry rivers and thirsty soil. The strong wind, steady as a blast furnace, and windmills drawing deep. This is the remembered earth that is lodged within her. This is what clogs her ears and crowds her vision: and it is greater than the thunder of fifty million buffalo. This is the known world, these plains. She’s touched them with her hands through every season, and she asks of them: Are these dry hills I see around me also inside?
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    Changing So what? to Aha!

    As deputy chief of interpretation at Acadia National Park, Christie Denzel Anastasia ’92, seeks to ensure that every visitor intersecting with the park has the best experience possible. What this means is that Christie spends a lot of time behind a computer so that the seventy-odd rangers, volunteers, interns, and partnership program staff she oversees can be outside, doing their jobs.

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    Leave No One Behind
    On June 4, 2016, noted writer and naturalist Barry Lopez spoke to the seniors and their friends and families during COA’s commencement. He generously offered COA  this written version of his powerful talk.
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    Seeking Acadia’s Bats
    Acadia’s bats are suffering from the often deadly fungus known as white-nose syndrome. Erickson Smith ’15 joined a team of scientists surveying and measuring the bats in hopes of protecting them.
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    Cracking the Coconut: COA’s Yucatán Program

    The Yucatán Program—with its language immersion in either Spanish or Mayan—is celebrating its twentieth anniversary this year. As COA’s first ongoing off-campus program, it has transformed the lives of multiple students, among them Rebecca Haydu ’16.

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    The Ears and Eyes of American Music
    Aaron Lewis ’05 takes down-home American music across the ocean, with his Corn Potato String Band. Why the name? “We’re the ears and eyes of America.”
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    Waste is a Verb: The Odyssey of Lisa Bjerke ’13, MPhil ’16
    Lisa Bjerke ’13, MPhil ’16 is transforming how COA thinks about what and how we dispose. Waste, she says, is a verb; not a noun.
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    Mozambique Sustenance
    Helena Shilomboleni ’09 is completing her PhD in the social and ecological sustainability of food systems at Canada’s University of Waterloo, examining food security in Mozambique through two local organizations.