Mixed Nuts Food Coop: a History, 1996
Mixed Nuts Food Cooperative: A Brief History, 1972-1996
Kelly Keenan, Hampshire College, Spring, 1996
A History of Mixed Nuts, Hampshire's Own Food Cooperative
Mixed Nuts wasn't Hampshire's first food co-op. Hampshire's first food co-op, "Bob's Food Co-op," only lasted two months. Bob McNitt started his co-op with two purposes in mind: to make consumer goods available to the Hampshire community at low cost, and to set up a model for a larger co-op (Fleisher, 1971). He ran the co-op out of his dorm room in Dakin. Unfortunately, because Bob's "personal beliefs" prevented him from using paper to hang up posters advertising the co-op, nobody knew about it. Bob opened the co-op in October, 1971, and by that December only 21 people had joined, resulting in "economic disaster" (Fleisher, 1971).
The following spring, a group of students began making plans for a larger food co-op. However, because over a hundred students were living at UMass (some of the mods had not yet been built), and because of the "propensity of all Hampshire projects to die," there was a lot of skepticism surrounding the formation of a co-op (Climax, 1972). Nevertheless, in September of 1972, with the help of a $600 start-up fund from Community Council, a food co-op organized out of doughnut three in Greenwich House. In early October, the co-op adopted the name "Mixed Nuts Food Cooperative," and by early November it had 300 members (Climax, 1972).
By 1978, Mixed Nuts had become the major food supplier for more than half the campus. Since its beginning, the coop had been run on a completely pre-order basis. Dairy products and vegetables came once a week, and staples such as grains, nuts, flour, and oil came once a month. However, the rise in membership made the pre-order system difficult--the co-op suffered from tension, long delays, losses due to spoilage, and a poor distribution system in doughnut three which was considered a fire hazard (Mixed Nuts, 1978). Therefore, over the summer of 1978, the co-op financed and built, on a volunteer basis, a walk-in cooler. Physical Plant provided plumbers and electricians to make other improvements, and in the Fall of 1978 Mixed Nuts received additional funds from Community Council towards the purchase of essential items such as weighing scales, cash registers, and shelves. These items enabled Mixed Nuts to operate its store and distribution system more efficiently.
For the next nine years, Mixed Nuts remained in doughnut three. During that period, membership ranged from 200-500 people. Depending on the makeup and initiative of its members and managers, the kinds of items sold by co-op varied. At times, the co-op was strictly organic--at other times, it sold a mix of organic and non-organic goods. The co-op often attempted to sell meat, although this only worked when there was a willing manager with a car who could drive to a local farm to pick up fresh chicken, or when there were enough members who wanted meat to justify ordering it through a distributor. Produce and dairy products were distributed every Thursday, and the co-op held regular store hours for people to buy grains and other non-perishables.
Over the summer of 1987, the Hampshire administration decided to evict Mixed Nuts from its Greenwich home. The reason for the eviction was a problematic cockroach infestation in Greenwich--however, the co-op had been unaware that it was in danger of eviction--"Last year, members of the co-op had a meeting with Sue Alexander, then dean of students, about the roach situation. No words about eviction were raised in that meeting (Mixed Nuts newsletter, 1987).
Frustration, distrust, and misunderstanding between students and administrators plagued the eviction and relocation of Mixed Nuts. The administration promised co-op that it would be completely set up in a new store in Prescott by September 1 (Mixed Nuts letter, 1987). However, as the end of September drew near, co-op still had no permanent location. A letter to Mixed Nuts from Dean of Students Trey Williams, entitled "Let's Clear the Air," expressed concern over the level of student resentment over a perceived lack of administrative commitment towards relocating the co-op--"This process is moving along as fast as possible at this point and its pace has nothing whatsoever to do with our level of commitment towards making this move work for everyone involved (Williams, 1987). Trey also reported in his letter that the school had purchased a 10'x35' insulated storage unit as a new store for co-op, and that the Prescott Tavern would be made avalable to the co-op each Thursday for distribution. However, the "storage unit," really just a huge metal box, had no electricity, refrigeration, heat, or windows.
November came, and the co-op still did not have a working store. At this point, the co-op began to suffer severe financial losses due to food spoilage and extra paid hours for managers. On the brighter side, the Hampshire community rallied around co-op during this crisis. Members volunteered extra time each Thursday to help make distribution run smoothly in the tavern. On November 1, 1987, Mixed Nuts sent an open letter to the community asking for help and support (" ... we're still cold and in the dark, and our food is spoiling ... "). On November 10, Mixed Nuts received a reply from Peter Gluckler, assistant to President Adele Simmons, expressing Adele's concern over the co-op problem ("I am writing for Adele because she is traveling once again. I know that students often view her absences with cynicism...Anyway, she supports the co-op"). Finally, in December, the "container" was equipped with heat, electricity, and a walk-in refrigerator. The co-op was able to set up a permanent space. As The Permanent Press, Hampshire's newspaper of the time, described it, "Co-op store opens, masses rejoice ... our metal box is now a cute little store" (Hochheiser, 1987).
After suffering through almost an entire semester of uncertainty about its future, Mixed Nuts was relieved to be finally settled in the metal box, which came to be known as "the Trailer." However, co-op was far from satisfied with the Trailer. Although Thursday distribution took place in the Tavern, the trailer was put to heavy use by the co-op. As a store, it was far too small. There was no room for expansion--there wasn't even any running water (Flippo, 1993). Even before the co-op was settled into the Trailer, the manager's collective wrote a proposal to relocate co-op, permanently, into the Prescott Tavern. A few years later, another proposal was written, this time requesting that full use of the tavern be turned over to Mixed Nuts and Stone Soup (a student collective that sold soup and bread to the community at lunchtime). Both proposals were rejected, primarily because the Marriott Corporation had a contract to operate a grill/restaurant in the Tavern.
In 1992, Marriott left the Tavern. With the departure of Marriott, the only groups who consistently used the Tavern were the Prescott House Office and TEAC, the Tavern Entertainment and Activities Committee. Most of the time, however, the Tavern was empty, and closed.
In February, 1993, the Mixed Nuts Manager's Collective distributed a survey to all student mailboxes. The survey asked for student opinions on a potential co-op move into the Tavern. 355 surveys were returned; 322 were in favor of the move, 8 were aginst it, and 5 had mixed feelings (Flippo et al, 1993). Most concerns with and objections to a potential move had to do with the fact that the Tavern would have to become smoke free in order to comply with Amherst health regulations. Other people feared that Mixed Nuts would "take over" the Tavern. However,the general student attitude toward a move seemed positive. Another proposal was written.
In the new proposal, the managers' collective expressed its confidence that the project would be successful, based on the success Mixed Nuts had had in the past--"Mixed Nuts is one of the only student organizations that is self-sustaining and probably has been ever since Hampshire opened. Mixed Nuts has a history of very reliable, competent managers. That history is no different today. This plan is being born out of Mixed Nuts and its successful operation" (Flippo et al, 1993). Over the summer of 1993, after seven years of business in a "metal storage container," the co-op was granted permission to move into the Tavern.
The move into the Tavern was a big undertaking for Mixed Nuts--probably its biggest project to date. There were endless tasks, mainly in construction, to be completed, such as renovating the old Tavern dishroom into a main store area, painting, building shelves, cleaning, and constructing a new walk-in refrigerator. Once again, the community rallied around co-op. Many of the construction and cleaning tasks were completed by members and managers. Mixed Nuts worked closely with Physical Plant, the administration, and Prescott House. Funds were received from Community Council, COCD, and the Dean of Students Office. Additional donations were made by members; there was even one anonymous donation of $300! Mixed Nuts asked for, and received, donations of shelves, bulk bins, a cash register, and other supplies, from other area co-ops. However, the biggest fund raiser and community support builder for the move was an auction that was held in November of 1993...Mixed Nuts was open for business in the Tavern by January, 1994...(p.1-5)
Currently (Spring, 1996), Mixed Nuts has approximately 250-300 working members, although more than 400 people use coop on a semi-regular basis. Mixed Nuts now offers more products, is open more hours, and has more space, than ever before. Settling into its new space has, at times, been difficult for Mixed Nuts--more products, hours, and space require more maintenance and work. However, the Tavern is the most permanent and secure home a co-op could ever want. As Hampshire completes its 26th year, Mixed Nuts is in its 24th. By far, Mixed Nuts is the oldest, largest, and most independent student organization at Hampshire. If its future is as successful as its past, then it is safe to predict that as long as a cooperative community exists at Hampshire, Mixed Nuts will be there to feed it. (p.8)
Cultivating the Agricultural Heritage of Hampshire College, 1998
Cultivating the Agricultural Heritage of Hampshire College. In: Jastremsky, Nedda. Seeds of Sustainability: Cultivating Our Agricultural Heritage. Amherst, MA: Hampshire College, 1998, p.61-63.
This final section addresses the question of how seed saving can cultivate the agricultural heritage within a community. Focusing on the community of Hampshire College I have begun to work with this by learning about the history of this land and the people who lived here. The original landowners were farmers and their farms I feel are part of the true foundation of Hampshire College.
One of these farmers, Mr. Richard Warner, is still living today. The red popcorn that Mr. Warner has saved seed from is the highlight of the Heirloom Seed Saving Program. His popcorn signifies the essence of how we can pass on and continue to cultivate our living history. I interviewed Mr. Warner and documented excerpts from our conversation. Mr. Warner is also part of the web that creates the vital agricultural heritage of Hampshire College.
Planting true seeds and planting seeds of awareness and consciousness are how we can continue this work. Through creating a community event which I called a Seed Celebration I wanted to continue making connections with the land where we live and the people we live with. Together with the Hampshire community I planted a tree and I planted seeds of ideas sharing my work--this Division Three--in a way I hope is inspiring and thought-provoking.
Richard Warner's Red Popcorn
I think of Mr. Warner as a planter. A planter of seeds and trees. On Thursday afternoon April 9, 1998 Leslie Cox, the farm manager, and I walked down the road to Mr. Warner's house. Built in 1770, his house is the first white "saltbox" house on the right when you exit the main entrance of campus and head towards Amherst.
Richard: "One year I had among all my popcorn one stalk that had red ears on it. But I didn't notice it of course until after I put it away to age--you know you have to dry 'em before you can pop 'em. I didn't know it until it was all done and here--here was some red corn. So I took that red ear or two that I had and planted them from then on and of course they didn't all come out red."
Leslie: "How many years ago was that?"
Richard: "Oh it must have been a dozen."
Richard: "It must have been a dozen. And I worked it up where--where it was about 80 percent red."
Nedda: "What was the other color?"
Richard: "Oh--white. I planted it like this [holding a white ear of corn] and I got this [red ear]."
Nedda: "Where did you originally get the seed for this?"
Richard: "From one of the seed companies. No doubt Burpee or Harris. They didn't quite advertise it as red--they advertised it as white, rice type they'd call it, small and hard. Now, if you want some to plant, this is all I have--but I'm not too sure how good it would be because the last time I did this [plant] it must have been four years ago."
Then he said, "let's pop some." So he rubbed the kernels off into a dish and blew the chaff. Next he took out a pot, poured some oil and turned the stove on. We all wondered if it would pop after sitting inside a large tin can in the kitchen, untouched for the past four years.
I asked Mr. Warner about his title of "Popcorn Prince." He walked over to the kitchen corner and pulled out an apron with the words Prince of popcorn, parsnips and rootbeer on it. "I'm well known in certain circles" Mr. Warner laughed "for my root beer, my popcorn and my parsnips."
I first came across Mr. Warner in reading A Documentary History of Hampshire College 1965-1985 edited by the Assistant Director of the library Susan A. Dayall. In volume two I saw the title "The Popcorn Prince Remembers". I felt an exciting intrigue...popcorn? In 1984 a Hampshire student Clifford W. Putney interviewed Richard Warner.
'They [he and his wife Priscilla] bought the present Warner House in 1953 from a family named Gilmore, and established a small, eleven-acre farm. "I kept a cow, raised a one-half acre garden, and had a one acre orchard," remembers Deacon. "A lot of our land was swamp. I was what you'd call a gentleman farmer."
'Mr. Warner vividly recalls the beginnings of Hampshire College, acknowledging that "[its building] was a big attraction around here." Deacon and his good friend Bob Stiles, along with other country folks, watched intently as first wooden and then brick structures sprang up on what used to be the Stiles Farm, and closely monitored the workers progress.
'When this reporter interviewed Deacon, he was puttering around in his cluttered, dimly-lit kitchen, preparing a fabulous supper consisting of tomatoes, squash, corn, parsnips, and jerusalem artichokes from his garden, baked chicken, baked beans, and baked cinnamon apples. He magnanimously invited me to partake in the sumptuous feast.
'Deacon's cooking prowess and popcorn-growing hobby have won him the honorary title of Pancake and Popcorn Prince from the South Amherst Congregational Church (where he really is a deacon). He and his sons used to pop up bags of corn during Sunday School classes. "The smell of popping corn would waft up into the sanctuary," chuckles Deacon, "and the minister would have trouble concentrating on his sermon." Deacon's special variety of red kernel popcorn has helped him achieve minor celebrity status. The television program "20/20" aired an interview with him several months ago, and he still receives numerous letters from newspaper and radio stations asking for more information about the Popcorn Prince.'
Perhaps you can imagine that I was practically doing flips when I read this in, but of course, the library. This is our agricultural heritage. What a humbling and true honor it would be to grow and share some of Mr. Warner's popcorn. As I write, I'm looking for it now, hoping that I can still find Mr. Warner and his popcorn. Hoping that the present Hampshire CSA could grow enough to distribute to the community. I am inspired by the idea of reintroducing a plant that would foster our connection to our cultural history. This popcorn plant, which already has its own connection and history to this farmland. And lastly, it makes me wonder just how many similar stories there are here, in South Amherst, Western Massachusetts, within the people and the land.
Agricultural History of Hampshire College
After five years of coming to know Hampshire, I feel the roots that I have grown here. Walking through the pine forest, composing Division III titles in my mind "Seeds of Sustainability: Cultivating Our Agricultural Heritage" I emerge into the open hayfield and think about the agricultural heritage that is present right here, right beneath my feet. As my roots extend I am beginning to sense the roots that are already here and that have been here for so many years.
On September 24, 1968, the first groundbreaking ceremony was commenced by Harold F. Johnson. The following passage is part of his dedication.
"I tend to think of this occasion as a part of the agricultural process--the breaking of the ground--the sowing of the seed--the cultivation of the crop and the harvest. However the harvest will not be the splendid buildings, which will rise from these foundations. Those will be but the stalks that bear the grain. The harvest will be the young people, who on this ground will grow in stature and mature into well-formed, well-rounded human beings."
Thirty years later as a student upon these fertile grounds I still feel inspiration and depth in Harold Johnson's words. Harold Johnson, a 1918 graduate from Amherst College pledged the first six million to start a new college. Harold Johnson, the library, a place always filling me with ideas as I would sit surrounded by books always researching, answering questions and only finding more. As a student, new to the place, I never really thought about the people whose names identified the buildings where I studied, learned and lived. I never even considered the history of the school and this land; when I entered I felt like I was part of something radical, young and new, a departure from the traditional. While this may be true, I've come to appreciate the history within the landscape of Hampshire College.
The original 434 acres that made the site for Hampshire campus was originally four separate farms. The original landowners were Howard Atkins, Robert Stiles and Cornelia Stiles, Andy Weneczk and Richard Warner. These names echo in my mind images of the old white farmhouses scattered on campus. During the summer of 1970 Charles Longsworth, the second president, interviewed some of the original landowners. These interviews were compiled in A Documentary History of Hampshire College 1965-1985. In reading these interviews I discovered that all of these people were farming the land before Hampshire came. Andy Weneczk had a small dairy farm, Robert Stiles supplied Mt. Holyoke with apples and eggs, and Howard Atkins is responsible for planting many of the old apple trees that are living on campus today. It seems appropriate that Harold Johnson was inspired by the agricultural process in his dedication at groundbreaking, the ground that had already been "broken" so many times before by the farmer's plow.
Our Agricultural Heritage speaks of the sustainable, community-reliant practices and livelihoods of farmers. This Heritage draws upon the wisdom and art of farming, of cultivating with the land for food, before the dominance of petroleum-based industrial agribusiness. This Heritage is within the names of farmers like Bob and Cornelia Stiles, Andy Weneczk, Howard Atkins and Richard Warner. It is as real as the buildings that bear their names and as vital as the potential within the popcorn seeds.
In a way I feel as if I have met these farmers and people with vision. Harold Johnson, whose spirit and words have seeped into the bricks and the farmers whose roots I feel are part of the true foundation of Hampshire College.
The Way We Were, 2000
"The Way We Were...Hampshire College, the founding years." Five College Ink, v. 12(2), 1999-2000, p. 16-28
"Hampshire's first convocation," recalls Lester Mazor, professor of law at Hampshire (l970-present), "was designed to inaugurate both President Franklin Patterson and the new college. Well in advance of the event, Patterson sent out a memorandum to the faculty informing us how we could order academic regalia (gowns, hoods, etc.). Robert Rardin immediately fired off a reply, with copies to all, saying that he thought it was shocking that Hampshire was encouraging faculty to wear this archaic form of dress, which symbolized the old academic establishment, from which Hampshire was trying to break. Patterson's quick response indicated that the information was for those interested in wearing the garments; nothing was meant to be mandatory." In the audience for convocation, Mazor continues, "were expectant presidents of other colleges and universities, dignitaries, students, parents, and others. As the faculty marched in together, it was possible already to sense something of the culture that would become Hampshire: First came the president, trustees, and deans all dressed in academic regalia; next, a hodgepodge of faculty members, some in business dress, a few in academic regalia, some in casual clothes. Professor John Boettiger wore a monk's cassock, and Jim Hayden, our first philosophy professor, sported a wizard's peaked and decorated hat bestowed upon him at the end of the summer orientation workshop by the Hampshire Fellows (our instant 'advanced' students, transfers from other colleges). Yes, we were Hampshire."
Among the first to address the gathering was President Franklin Patterson: "There is a certain irony," he noted, "in being inaugurated five months into the fifth year of one's service as president of a college." The idiosyncratic nature of Hampshire was evident in that fact, too. Certainly on this shining day, those who listened to Patterson's words must have shared the sense of history that infused his speech and that of others who came to celebrate--among them a host of dignitaries, including Silvio O. Conte, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and a staunch supporter of education; the eminent historian Henry Steele Commager of Amherst College; and the presidents of four neighboring institutions, who looked on proudly, as parents might at a child's first steps. "This, in the deepest sense, is an inaugural ceremony," Patterson told the crowd, "for all of you who have been associated with the forming of the college." To the doubting Thomases he gave credit as well, "because in their way they spurred us on;" he said, to "form not only a new American college at all these days...[but also] one which could realistically make a difference in the troubled world of higher education."
Hampshire was one of more than a dozen colleges that had sprung up across the country in the 1960s, against overwhelming odds that would eventually subsume most of the others. In greeting the first crop of students, Patterson acknowledged that "the Founding Class of this college is made up of exceptional young men and women...For every student enrolled this fall Hampshire had to turn down more than seven others...Our students in this sense mark a major positive turning point in the swiftly changing world that we share with them. This is what moves me most about our circumstances here at Hampshire. These young men and women have sought out membership in the community of this college because they want to share in the building of a new kind of institution that is desperately needed and whose time has come."
And come they did, in droves. Virginia Potsubay, who served as associate director of admissions from 1969 to 1980, recalls that in 1969 "we received 2,002 applications for 250 places. Students were turning down Harvard and Radcliffe for a slot at Hampshire. We couldn't give campus tours to prospective students; instead, we would show them a model of the campus in the Red Barn, and then take them to the top of the hill and tell them that that was where it was going to be. It was an exciting, wonderful time." (p.17-18)
The man largely responsible for acquiring the original 175-acre parcel on which Hampshire eventually is built--someone who takes on heroic stature among the founders--Charles "Chuck" Longsworth, sets out in a "blinding snowstorm" with his intrepid wife, Polly, to scout out the land. He is an Amherst graduate. But so, one discovers, are most of the other founding fathers. According to the record, the whole huge, exciting experiment began with discussions held at Amherst College. So, it would seem obvious to conclude, Hampshire is really the "child" of Amherst College. Wrong. Well, not wrong exactly, but not entirely true. There were several parents. And the heady intellectual exercise of conceiving a college, which began in the summer of 1958 around a coffeepot, would by the late 1960s move to a barn on land that had recently been owned by a farmer named Stiles. At this point, there's still been no mention of a retiring but highly successful financier and educational visionary named Harold Johnson, whose simple question "Whatever happened to that New College Plan?" would set in motion a chain of events of historic proportions... (p.19-20)
Ken Hoffman was among the core group of faculty hired in the late 1960s. He was on hand to greet the inaugural class of 1970 and has been teaching mathematics at Hampshire since then. "In 1970, I took my natural history class on a field trip to the Quabbin Reservoir," he recalls. "When we got to the water's edge, I turned around to make a natural history comment. However, my insight was lost on all the students, who'd quickly taken off their clothes and jumped into the water. At that point, I realized that teaching at Hampshire was going to be quite a different experience."
Penina Glazer, who has been a member of the teaching staff at Hampshire for 30 years, and has served in turn as dean of faculty, acting president, and vice president, was one of the faculty who made up the School of Social Science that first year. It was a place, she remembers, "where people would debate with equal fervor the meaning of relevance and where to put the pencil sharpeners." She recalls one class in particular that was always late--"People were always straggling in. And in those days, I would just wait for them to come in. I was young. A lot of the students were from relatively privileged backgrounds because we didn't have much money in those days for scholarships. But one girl in the class, her name was Brenda, I think, had come on financial aid. She was from New York, from the city, and she had a lot of promise as a playwright. She didn't see why she should put up with this. So she'd bang her shoe on the desk and say, 'Are we here to learn or what?' And I'd think to myself, 'You go, girl. Go, Brenda!'"
David Kerr, who joined the faculty in 1972 and has continued to teach communications at Hampshire, recounts an early teaching experience designed to integrate academic learning with community life: "There was a house course on massage taught by an RA and held on the second floor of Donut 5. This being Hampshire, by the time of the second class, it was a nude massage class. During one class, we heard then President Chuck Longsworth's voice on the stairs as he's giving a tour of the college. There we were, in the thick of oils, emollients, and full-body massage, and he's coming up the stairs talking about the college. With one glance, he takes in the situation and explains to the group something like, 'Looks like we'll have to turn around, there's a class in progress.' It was the first time I'd ever seen Chuck in action as ultra cool."
Ray Coppinger, professor of biology and a founding figure in the development of Hampshire's Farm Center, was among the early core of faculty on hand in 1970. He has "hundreds of favorite Hampshire stories," he says, but his "favorite January Term trips to faraway places with strange-sounding names would occupy a small volume. Like the time we were headed for Zanzibar, and the plane caught fire, and we made an emergency and slightly terrifying landing on nearby Pemba, as soldiers tried to jump-start the only fire truck by pushing it down the runway in front of us as we came screaming in with the landing-lock warning light on, and Julie Zuccotti, with her teddy bear, looked up from her novel, looked out the window, and said, 'This doesn't look like Zanzibar.'"
Reflecting on the Hampshire experience for faculty and students in those early years, Robert Birney concludes that "there was a kind of rock-bottom integrity about the way things were done that was extremely exhilarating and kind of unbelievable that you could stick this close to the heart of scholarship with students."
Aaron Berman, who was recently named dean of faculty at Hampshire College, was among its entering class in 1970. What he remembers is the sense of watching something unfold: "We had extraordinary teachers--some extraordinary moments--classes would change even as you sat there." During that first year, he says, "the entire student body and faculty attended weekly human development lectures. One day, the topic was Stanley Milgram's controversial experiments on obedience to authority. Milgram's study was controversial for several reasons: It involved one group of people administering electric shocks to another group of people; and the people who administered the electric shocks thought that they were assisting with the study, when they themselves were the subject of the study. During the human development discussion about these experiments, a huge fight broke out between faculty members in the natural sciences and the social sciences about the ethics of the study. As a first-year student, having the opportunity to observe faculty members disagreeing with one another was eye-opening and unusual."... (p.26-28)
You Must Remember This, 2000
"You must remember this...faculty and staff reminisce." Non Satis Scire, Spring/Summer 2000, p. 13-21
PROFESSOR OF PHYSICS AND PRESIDENT OF ISIS (1971-PRESENT). "I love to tell the story about my first year's salary. I volunteered to work as a 'one dollar a year man.' Ken Rosenthal, treasurer at the time, took a dollar out of his pocket at the end of the year--which still hangs framed over my desk at home--and wrote then President Longsworth a memo saying that he had just paid my first year's salary, and would Chuck similarly take care of the second!" (p.14)
SUSAN A. DAYALL
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, LIBRARY (1974-PRESENT). "In 1976, Alec MacLeod (72F) invented an island country, Renga, for his Division III, complete with geography, history, folksongs, dances, currency, and problems with U.S. imperialism! Alec and his friends wrote to Senators Kennedy and Lowell Weicker, demanding that the United States respect Renganese neutrality, and close U.S. bases on Renga. He got very polite letters back, saying that the Chief of Naval Operations could find no trace of a country named Renga, and expressing the hope that this would allay his concern for Renganese independence. Many staff, faculty, and students became involved in his project, writing music and essays (I wrote one on the cuisine of Renga), holding Renganese folk dance workshops, and serving a potluck dinner with authentic Renganese dishes. This is one of my favorite memories of a Hampshire student project bringing diverse people together to work in an imaginative community."
DERRICK ELMES (76F)
DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH (1976-PRESENT). "I'm still influenced by the time when Hampshire divested from South Africa. Our dollars didn't really amount to anything but the action really started the ball rolling. Students working toward divestiture not only pulled something off here, but really got people thinking about the issue nationally. In the best of the Hampshire spirit, people made a substantial effort that went well beyond noting a problem, and their actions forced others to think about the issue too."
DEAN OF STUDENT AFFAIRS AND ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF POLITICS AND EDUCATION STUDIES, (1978-PRESENT). "In 1978, a group of students, Mike Bird (76F), Katie Downes (77F), Brian Fradet (77F), Naomi Guttman (77F), Scott Nadel (75F), Karen Schmidt (77F), Nicole Sumner (78S), and Martha Zimicki (78F), wanted to do something about the lack of student social space. They proposed converting the bridge joining the library to the RCC into a cafe. I was skeptical because I wasn't convinced that it was a good space and I knew it would take an enormous effort to accomplish their goal. Undaunted, they spent the semester organizing the space. The night of the opening for the Bridge Cafe, they put up some posters, and lit candles on the tables. I remember looking up and seeing the bridge windows glowing in candlelight. Students, intrigued by the light, filled the cafe to overflowing. You could see surprise and joy on everyone's faces. It was a signihcant and heartwarming achievement."
PROFESSOR EMERITUS OF BIOLOGY (1970-1994). "One favorite memory is a student's Division I exam. She wanted to see if one or more of her bread recipes could be used as the only food in the diet (a potentially useful idea for Third World countries). At my suggestion, she raised groups of mice on her breads, with a control group on commercial mouse chow, and tracked their growth by weighing each mouse daily. She had to learn how to handle the mice, weigh the wriggling animals, keep accurate records, and use a computer to analyze the data. She found that the mice raised on rye bread did very poorly, confirming, to her delight, what she later found in the literature. For the final meeting the student brought in a fresh-baked loaf of each kind of bread and a plate of butter. The media got wind of this, but what appeared in the newspaper missed the point, as so often happened in the early days of Hampshire. The exam was billed as a project on bread-making, rather than a lovely piece of scientific investigation." (p.15-17)
SECOND HAMPSHIRE PRESIDENT (1965-1977). "In about 1973 a sculptor gave Hampshire a large, steel, orange-painted modern sculpture with the expectation that it would be displayed prominently on campus... We had no sculpture at the time and so Polly and I prowled around and decided where to place the pieces. I think it was to the north of Patterson. We placed it with the help of a backhoe and went off admiring our work... The sculpture lasted a few days and then disappeared, completely.
...A few days later at a faculty meeting, several students presented me with a few large orange bolts, formerly used to hold the sculpture together. It was an amusing and educational moment. The president, obviously, does not decide where to put sculpture on the campus. The communication was clear and gentle and I greatly appreciated it." (p.17-18)
HAROLD F. JOHNSON PROFESSOR EMERITUS OF HISTORY (1971-1985). "Just to keep the record straight, it was Paul Slater, who, upon seeing the three colors on the Hampshire sign (red, tan, and green), proclaimed them ketchup, mustard, and relish for Camp Hamp."
DIRECTOR OF HOUSING (1971-1984). "One spring, when physical plant workers were sodding the grounds around Emily Dickinson Hall, the inspectors insisted that I accompany them to look at a Greenwich mod. The mod was tidy and quite arty, and didn't appear to me to have any fire hazards. A chandelier of plastic forks, spoons, knives, and plastic ivy hung in the living room. In an upstairs bedroom, someone had painted a huge eye onto the center of an oscillating fan so that it looked like someone was always watching you. Another bedroom had an ironing board set up with both a real and a representational iron. But the kicker was the bathroom. Someone had sodded the floor. The grass looked great, and off to the corner were a watering can and push mower. It seemed a shame, but of course the inspectors had to get rid of the sod." (p.21)