Naomi Neal, Kathryn Stresak, Dorian Gomberg, Ed Vlcek, and Brad Krautwurst are Shimer students participating in the Shimer Internship/Mentorship (SIM) Program. They regularly post updates about their internship experiences.
This post is from Naomi Neal, who is interning with the Tryon Farm.
I got home yesterday evening from my first formal week as an intern for Tryon Farm and the Tryon Farm Institute in Michigan City, Indiana. So far, I've been working in the Institute office, helping in the preparation for The Birds + The Bees Festival, which TFI is putting on during the week of June 22nd in honor of National Pollinator Week. In addition to these and a few other duties, I've also been learning the land and figuring out what place I have in it.
The Birds + The Bees Festival, which will consist of some public, educational-entertainment events and some private educational events for children in school and foster home groups, is by no means an inexpensive endeavor for the Insitute, so the bulk of my work this week went to the task of finding sponsors for the events, making cold calls and sending emails to members of the local business community. Talk about working outside my comfort zone! As my best friend will tell you, I'm a hard woman to get on the telephone, so it took me a little psyching-up to call total strangers and eloquently request monetary support. But all in all, I managed to not make too much of a fool of myself on the phone, and helped to get three sponsors on board with the event. One of these sponsors specifically mentioned that she wanted to contribute because of her preexisting concern for the bee population crisis. The Birds + The Bees events will include the screening of a documentary on that very topic, as well as hands-on workshops in beekeeping and cultivating pollinator-friendly gardens. For more information, see the poster below:
I think the experience of confronting and conquering my phone-phobia provided me with a good lesson that I hope will follow me for the rest of my internship at Tryon and, perhaps, my professional career in the green construction field: not everything is easy or immediately enjoyable for you, but when you know you're working for a good cause, even those tasks for which you may not be initially suited have meaning, and keeping that in mind makes them easy and enjoyable. Even talking on the phone can be Arendtian, philosophically-rewarding action when it is toward a considered end.
Besides securing sponsorships, I also made plans for upcoming projects. On Tuesday I'll be putting in a large pumpkin patch on TFI land near the back of a large meadow, and there are endless considerations--water, humane deer-repellent--to be made. I also spoke with a fellow intern from the IIT Architecture program, with whom I'll be working on the construction of a bird-watching blind in that same meadow. I'm excited to work in these different areas of Tryon's life, and to approach the work of conservation from several angles.
I also began reading one of the books which has been lent to me for my edification from my various Tryon mentors, but I'll confess that I haven't made much headway. I'm around a hundred pages from the end of War & Peace and its story and characters run through my mind throughout the day. It's wonderful to feel this way about a book again--the way I felt as a child, reading--but I really should get down to my work reading, both for Tryon and for my upcoming Shimer senior thesis. Hopefully I'll finish my foray into the Napoleonic Wars soon and knuckle down.
In conclusion, here is a picture of a chicken. I'm afraid that I don't know this chicken yet--or rooster--but there's plenty of time for that, I suppose.
This post is from Brad Krautwurst, who is interning with the Richmond Public Library in Virginia.
We heavy readers all have those moments. You know, the ones when we realize the book we're reading is so good that we just have to tell our significant other/sister/brother/friend/hairstylist/feline friend about it? I'm having that moment right now, and even better, the book is relevant to my internship! So I decided, since my internship hasn't started yet, I would tell you all about it, faithful blog readers.
The book I'm currently reading is called The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel, and at this point it is mostly just getting me even more excited about my internship. Ostensibly it chronicles the completion of Manguel's own personal library of over 30,000 volumes, in his home located in the Poitou-Charentes region of France. In writing about that, though, he also tells of a great many different kinds of libraries, and different ways of looking at them, from the library as mythology, to the library as home, to the library as island. He chronicles the mysterious demise of that fabled colossal library of old, The Library of Alexandria, the crafting of the Laurentian Library by Michaelangelo, and even of the creation of the Dewey Decimal System. It is both personal memoir and something of a history of libraries, though by no account does it attempt to be extensive; I think of it right now as a love letter to libraries.
Ths is a bit of a long quote, but it is a story I particularly enjoyed and wanted to share. Recounting a story told in Oudane, Mauritania (a country located in the northern tip of West Africa), Manguel writes:
[A] beggar [....], early in the fifteenth century, appeared at the city gates, famished and dressed in tatters. He was taken into the mosque, fed and clothed, but no one succeeded in making him reveal his name or the city of his birth. All the man seemed to care about was spending long hours among the books of Oudane, reading in complete silence. Finally , after several months of such mysterious behavior, the imam lost his patience and said to the beggar, "It is written that he who keeps knowledge to himself shall not be made welcome in the Kingdom of Heaven. Each reader is but one chapter in the life of a book, and unless he passes his knowledge on to others, it is as if he condemned the book to be buried alive. Do you wish such a fate for the books who have served you so well?" Hearing this, the man opened his mouth and gave a lengthy and mavellous commentary on the sacred text he happened to have before him. The imam realized that his visitor was a certain celebrated scholar who, despairing of the deafness of the world, had promised to hold his tongue until he came to a place where learning was truly honored. (Manguel, 167)
I have found this book particularly inspiring to read before the internship I am about to embark upon, and I think many Shimerians will also enjoy it. I also own, but have not read yet, his A History of Reading, which is more relevant to Shimerians in general.
Hello there, I'm Dorian Electra, a soon-to-be third-year student at Shimer College. I'm from Houston, Texas, and a graduate of School of the Woods Montessori High School. This summer I'll be doing two internships, one with Emergent Order, a media development and production company in Austin, Texas and the other with writer, Virginia Postrel in Los Angeles. I discovered Emergent Order through EconStories, the work of director John Papola and economist Russ Roberts, specifically through their viral music video-rap-battle between economists Friedrich Hayek and John Maynard Keynes (watch "Fear the Boom and Bust"). When this video was released in early 2010 I fell in love with it and became inspired to make my own music video in a similar vein (watch "I'm in Love with Friedrich Hayek"). I sent my video to John and he really enjoyed it. Since then, we've kept in contact about new ideas and we had been talking about the possibility of me doing an internship with Emergent Order since last summer when they moved to Austin and I was working on my second economics music video "Roll with The Flow."
Emergent Order's self-description is this:
"At Emergent Order™ we develop original content and tell stories about the amazing, emerging world around us. We are surrounded by marvels. Each and every day, a surprisingly harmonious order emerges through the individual and collective actions of billions of people working together to pursue their dreams. Emergent Order™ exists to tell those stories and reveal the heart, humor and economics that drive them.
(John Papola and me)
Look how desire has changed in you,
how light and colorless it is,
with the world growing new marvels
because of your changing.
Your soul has become an invisible bee.
We don't see it working,
but there's the full honeycomb.
Hello all. My name is Ed Vlcek, and I am going to tell you about my experiences of beekeeping. I am a transfer student from Harold Washington College, entering my second year at Shimer. It may seem a bit unusual for a Shimerian to choose to learn the fine art of beekeeping, but I have for years had a fascination with agriculture and the bugs that make it happen. I chose to intern as an urban beekeeper as a way to explore how we can alter the content of our daily lives, practically, in immediate (and often delicious) ways. Bees are in many ways at the forefront of the shift toward more sustainable, urban-based food. In learning how they live and work, I hope to learn how to live and work in new ways as well. The Catholic Worker Peter Maurin said that "the scholars must become workers so the workers may be scholars." Maybe that's my guiding principle this summer. Anyways, I hope you enjoy.
I started the first day of my internship with the Chicago Honey Co-op, a cooperative urban beekeeping endeavor with hives all over Chicago, by going to the thrift store. My mentor told me earlier in the week that I needed to wear light colored clothing (which he later explained had to do with the fact that throughout the evolutionary life of bees they have been attacked by animals with dark colored clothing), but I realized that I, in fact, did not have any. I searched the aisles endlessly, but couldn't figure out what to do - should I get a long-sleeved white shirt, or a brown coat? Cotton or polyester? Unable to make the decision, I got a blue raincoat I had been meaning to get anyways, and walked away without a single piece of light colored clothing. In the end I went in the gray brown flannel I was already wearing. Maybe it was mildly offensive to the bees, but they were not immediately compelled to sting me, and it covered my arms pretty well.
I proceeded to ride my bike down to 45th and Racine, to the Stockyards Industrial Corridor in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, where the Co-op's new main site is located. They sit on the back 2 acres of Testa Produce's property, a L.E.E.D. certified produce distributor with an open attitude toward beekeeping. With Testa's massive wind turbine circling overhead and Chicago's skyline in the distance, my mentor Michael showed me the hives. Numbering around thirty total (comprising about half of the Co-op's population), the bees live in the southeast corner of a wonderful field in what is otherwise a smelly industrial wasteland. The field is covered with white sweet clover, as well as some yellow clover, which, by total chance, happen to be renowned bee crops. Wildflowers line the southern fence; bunnies and cowbirds frolic and dodge massive chunks of rusty metal; and thistle, prairie parsley, and numerous other natives grow in this accidental nature preserve.
The hives themselves are constructed out of separable wooden boxes in which you can hang the frames that support the honeycomb. This model is by far the most common around the world today, first introduced by Lorenzo Langstroth in the 19th century. Some of the hives have plastic or wax foundations for the bees to build the comb from, rather than building it up themselves. These plastic pieces are a source of some controversy, I was told, and so I inquired as to what the controversy revolved around. I asked, “Is it a fear that the plastic will leach into the honey?” The response I received set the mood for the rest of the day, and I hope it gives some insight into how things have been going for the past few weeks. “No, it's that it doesn't vibrate with the world,” Michael told me. Everything resonates, and vibrates, and moves around, but some things are more rigid than others, like plastic compared to the beeswax. We continued on this topic, discussing whether plastic resonates with the natural world, or with the bee's being in the world.
We find ourselves, at the hive, at a fascinating interface between the human creative process and nature's processes, as well as the poetic and the scientific. We have lived with bees for so long, and we have perhaps begun to think that we know what they need, and what is best for them. But as they provide us with the gift of honey, we forget that the bee is not a machine that can be fixed or broken – they are living like us, only in a very different way. Something about being with them makes one reflect on these things. Maybe it is the hardly audible humming, or their peaceful nature, or maybe it's the hot sun, but every day I spend with the bees I feel a little more centered. My guide is in some ways the same as them – he has something of a bee nature, and his way of approaching the world easily rubs off.
As we started the actual work for the day Michael informed me that a great friend just a few blocks away had called him about a swarm. The honeybee typically swarms in the spring when new brood (bee babies) is being laid. When a new queen has hatched out and challenged the authority of the old queen, the old queen leaves, and over half the hive can and often does go along with her. They will follow her wherever she goes, and this time she decided to land on a tree. Fascinatingly, the queen bee and the worker bee are genetically identical. It is only because of the 'royal jelly' the worker bees feed her in her development that she becomes a queen.
To clarify, all worker bees are sexually immature females. The queen is a mated, mature female, and the 'drone' bees are males, whose only function is to fertilize the queen. All hive and child care, including food forage, repairs, and everything else barring actual reproduction, is done by the female workers. The queen can lay up to 2,000 eggs a day, most of which are workers, who live for about 3 and a half weeks. The hive is constantly reconstituting itself, and so the swarm is a natural expanding function – a way to create more hives from a healthy queen. Some Biodynamic beekeepers suggest that swarming is so fundamental to bee life that it should be allowed to happen, but this is not a common practice. Most beekeepers are very careful to destroy queen cells before they develop larvae, and thus limit the chance of swarming.
So, excited to go on a field trip almost right away on my first day, I headed with Michael down to meet a member of the group “Growing Home” at their site on the property of the Catholic Worker House “Su Casa” on 51sr Street. We got out a ladder, suited up in veils and gloves, and Michael climbed up and snipped the branch off. Slowly he descended and placed the swarm in hive box we had set atop a wheelbarrow nearby. When bees swarm, he explained, they are very gentle. Their bellies are full of honey, and they have no territory to defend. Everyone crowded around was feeling calmer from this explanation, and they were further relieved by our not wearing any veils to transport the box. They really were feeling gentle, and so it made all of us gentler too.
It seemed best to let the bees relax for a minute before heading back to Testa. As we waited, we talked with the folks working at the Worker House, and especially the people running Growing Home's agricultural job training program there. They are wonderful and visionary people, doing very hard and purposeful work. I can't wait to get down there again and see if the bees are settled down.
After some more talking and wandering around Su Casa's backyard, we headed back to finish the day of tending to the hives, reveling in the light of those wonderful people and the bustling, energetic plot they were tending.
I highly recommend anyone who is interested in bees to watch the documentary "The Queen of the Sun."
See you next time!
Hello again! This week at Growing Power has been a crazy one, but as I was forewarned, every week is crazy on the farm. A hectic schedule can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Whenever I start to feel the pressure, I always remind myself of middle school math. As I first learned a new formula, I always struggled through the exercises. I didn’t think I would ever understand the process. But as one day folded into another, another formula was presented and to my ever-renewing surprise, I understood the past day’s work as it built upon the present.
The same can be said for most every new task I learn as Growing Power. I first began simply pulling weeds, which forced me to strengthen my plant identification skills. Then as I moved on to watering, I learned that different plants like different watering techniques, so my plant identification skills then came in handy. With transplanting and composting came a stronger understanding of the busy microscopic universe in the soil. Knowing I am feeding a whole world of organisms in the ground gives me the patience to water properly, which can often be a 5-hour task. I am slowly learning how everything works together symbiotically, and as I learn my ability to nurture the farm grows.
This is exciting for me. Aside from some container-garden dabblings, I have never worked with plants before and I love knowing I am gaining hands on knowledge about something I could only appreciate before. I have a lot left to learn, and I will most likely make a lot of mistakes along the way. Whenever I start to become overwhelmed, I just think about the Pythagorean theorem and how that little formula took me forever to get right. Now, a trigonometric function? No problem!
Greetings, blog readers, I'm Brad. I wrote another introductory post about three years ago, but alas I do apologize that I completely failed at updating again in the three years that I've been at Shimer. Like KC, I will be starting my last year in the fall. Shimer has been quite the roller coaster ride since then, the best of my life, in fact.
Before coming to Shimer, my career plans bounced around frequently: at some point I have wanted to be everything from a computer technician to a tattoo artist to a journalist. However, one of the things I have gotten out of Shimer has been somewhat of a cementing of my career ambitions, or at least of what degree I will be obtaining in grad school. I have more or less decided I will be getting a Masters of Library Science degree, but I am still switching between wishing to be an archivist, or some breed of librarian. The internship I've secured is aimed to help me decide between the two by giving me real-world experience in both.
Primarily, I will be working in Richmond, Virginia at the main branch of the public library. I plan to devote about 25 to 40 hours per week, and I will be arriving in Richmond around halfway through June and working for about two months. I have a job description designed to both give me a broad idea of what working in the field of library sciences entails, and give me a sense of what public libraries specifically are like. Given that libraries are more than just a place to check out books--though you are strongly encouraged to utilize them for that purpose!--I will be embarking upon a wide range of tasks: teaching beginning computer classes, data entry, shelving books, and weeding unused or outdated books from the collection, among other duties. I will, as a side project, also be working with an archivist from a college in the area, though I have recieved much less information about this project. I will be sure to update as that becomes available to me, along with chronicling the rest of my exciting summer!
I’m Naomi Neal and I come to the Shimer Blog as a soon-to-be-senior. I grew up on the California coast, but for the past three years I’ve lived in the Bronzeville and Bridgeport neighborhoods of Chicago, majoring in Social Sciences at Shimer. During this time, my innate love of reading has transformed and found new outlets in core readings and electives such as German for Reading and Bioethics. I’ll be completing my studies with a yearlong stint in the Shimer-in-Oxford program, beginning this fall. At Oxford, I’ll continue my exploration of the German language, as well as the investigation of humankind’s impact on the environment which I began in Bioethics.
It’s this interest—in living sustainably—which led me to the internship at which I’ll be working this summer. I’ll be working at Tryon Farm, which is (not a farm but) a rigorously planned housing development and intentional community in Michigan City, Indiana. Tryon is the brainchild of architect Ed Noonan, who served the past two years as Shimer’s interim president. Noonan and his associates have crafted a new kind of land use on a property which was once a dairy farm: part nature-preserve, part-architectural showcase, and part-model community for incorporating sustainable development tactics into everyday life. Housing clusters are planned so as to disrupt the ecosystems and the visual flow of the landscape as little as possible, and much of the property is permanently barred from development, protected in perpetuity by the Tryon Farm Institute (TFI). Houses at Tryon bear simple, elegant design features (Noonan was a student of IIT’s Mies van der Rohe) which emphasize the beauty of the natural environment, and they’re built to last and conserve resources.
One of the most interesting methods of conservation at Tryon is the wastewater management system. The home sewers do not feed into municipal lines, to be carried to the treatment plant and sterilized with harmful chemicals. Instead, Tryon’s sewage feeds into a number of Certified Wastewater Wetlands, where biological organisms clean the sewage without the use of chemicals. At Tryon, a week after you flush, that same water is clean enough to drink—and all without introducing toxic chemicals to the ecosystem.
This summer at Tryon, I’ll spend ten weeks working a flexible four days a week, depending on which days I’m most needed. For example, everyone at Tryon is getting excited for a week of events coming at the end of June in celebration of National Pollinator Week—but more on that to come. My duties, too, will be flexible. One of my main concerns this past month (via email communication, for the most part—my internship doesn’t begin until June 4th) has been coordinating the planting of a pumpkin patch at Tryon, which was the idea of Jim Ulrich—TFI board member, Shimer registrar and faculty member, and my former Bioethics facilitator. When I start working on-site in just over a week, I’ll be continuing work with the pumpkin patch as well as assisting in the TFI office with preparations for National Pollinator Week. Later this summer I’ll be working on some small construction projects, and even taking on one of my own (a climbing structure for goats). From my work in TFI office, I hope to learn how communities can work together to ensure and promote environmental sustainability. From working hands-on in construction, I hope to gain some practical carpentry and design experience, and explore whether the field eco-friendly design and construction could be a fulfilling career one day. Throughout it all, in true Shimerian fashion, I’ll be bolstering my hands-on praxis with related textual readings.
For more information on Tryon Farm, please see their website: www.tryonfarm.com
Hello all! You'll have to excuse me for the potentially awkward language I may or may not use. I am not a seasoned blogger, so I'm not familiar with "hip blog lingo." Just to introduce myself, my name is KC (Kathryn Cori); I am going into my fourth and final (fingers crossed) year at Shimer College. I have gone to Shimer for my entire undergrad career, so it truly is my academic home.
While I was looking at colleges in high school, a large part of Shimer's intrigue for me was its home in Chicago. I believed that being situated in a large, thriving city would offer an education that would enhance classroom discussions, and I'm not bashful in boasting the correctness of that belief! There are unique and creative activities and organizations happening on every corner of this city that give reality to the ideas and theories we discuss around the octagonal table. Something that has really struck me during my stay here Chicago are the urban agricultural projects. With Chicago being such a "foodie town," it’s hard not to pay attention to the higher quality of local food, as well as the fair ethical practices that embedded in locally grown food. As my interests rose, I discovered an incredible organization located right in my own neighborhood called Growing Power.
Growing Power is a unique urban farming project in that they also place a strong emphasis on social justice. A rather troubling reality of life in Chicago is the lingering segregation that has not been fairly addressed. Even today, the far south and west sides of Chicago are nearly all black neighborhoods. With unsafe living environments, poor education, few job opportunities, and lying in the midst of food deserts, the people in these neighborhoods grow up to remain stagnant in the oppression that was long ago imposed upon their ancestors and conveniently forgotten. Growing Power's mission is to amend this injustice through the universal necessity and love of food. Originally started in Milwaukee by Will Allen, his daughter Erika brought the project to Chicago to establish farms and community gardens throughout Chicago, thus providing the community with healthy, local food, as well as provide jobs and educational training to people of color throughout the city.
I was lucky enough to land an internship with Growing Power this summer! Throughout the next few months, I will be learning what it takes to be a farmer through good ol' fashioned manual labor. With 8-12 hour days, six days a week, it is sure to be a crash course that I won't forget! I have just finished my first week with the program. I am exhausted but unscathed. I can already tell that it will be a life (and arm muscle) changing summer for me. I anxiously tap my foot, ready for Monday to come! I don't want to bog my loyal readers down with too many details, so I will refrain from talking about my day-to-day tasks for now. In the true Shimer fashion, feel free to share with me any questions or knowledge you may have on the topic of urban agriculture or social justice! Let us take this journey together!
Stephanie Fong, Zachary Fazio, Landis Masnor, and Renee Meschi are Shimer students participating in the Shimer Summer Internship Program. They regularly post updates about their internship experiences.
This post is from Stephanie Fong who is interning with the Women and Leadership Archives.
My internship has been over for quite some time now, but my legacy remains! Check out the exhibit I created for Immaculata High School here. It contains reproductions of more than 230 items I selected from the institution's records, the originals of which are kept at the Women and Leadership Archives proper. I tried my best to represent the school's 60 year history and culture, so I hope you enjoy looking through it!
If interested, you can read the essay I wrote reflecting on my summer experiences here.
This is the last of my posts as a SIM program intern, so I'll say goodbye for now. But who knows, I might make a reappearence on the blog as an everyday Shimer student!
The opinions expressed by the Shimer bloggers are theirs alone, are subject to change upon each blogger's reflection, and do not reflect the opinions of Shimer College. Shimer is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of any of the information supplied on this blog and strongly encourages you to contact the Shimer Admission Office directly if you have questions about Shimer. The entries on this blog belong to their authors and to Shimer College. Shimer encourages and deeply values discussion, but the college is not responsible for what is posted by commenters and reserves the right to delete any comment for any reason whatsoever. Deletions will likely be made if commentary is commercial, irrelevant, abusive, profane, rude, or destructively inaccurate. Shimer students on the regular staff of this blog are modestly compensated for their efforts.