Woolman Blog

by Jasmine Rosalbo, a recent graduate of the Fall 2014 semester - December 16, 2014

When I think of intersectionality,

I see a venn diagram of overlapping social categories

I see colorful pasta intertwined to make mutually constructed identities

I see runners on a track

I see obstacles set in front of them

On the basis of their race

and gender

I see privilege and the power to oppress

I see multi layered oppression of people of color

I see gender, race, class, sexuality

a checklist of categories that place us within the patriarchal hierarchy we call our world


But when I translate this to to world around me, and to feminism

I see a huge part of the media portraying white middle class heterosexual cisgendered ablebodied men and women as humanity


I see politicians claiming neutral politics

That serve this fictional majority

I see a public space filled with institutions

That were built to serve the hegemonic masculinity

and oppress the other


I see the center of knowledge production operated by white men claiming objectivity


Where are the people of color?

Where are the colonized?

Where are the disabled people?

Where are those who lie outside the recognized boundaries?


This is what needs to be seen

This is what needs to be made visible

These are the voices that need to be heard


This is the call that can reshape economic structures of oppression and exclusion

Which can unmask the identity of the “neutral” citizen

Which will show that his privilege is built upon the exploitation and discrimination of the marginalized


But how can the concept of intersectionality be more than just a buzzword?

More than a checklist of static identity categories

And instead something that is used to really take into account

The complex forms of discrimination

Shaped by history

And social structures


As a white middle class cisgendered woman

And a bearer of privilege,

I am trying to understand the ways i reproduce systems of oppression

So that i may be apart of deconstructing them


I am not humanity

I am not women

I am not objective

I am a standpoint in solidarity with,

and recognition of society's many unique and complex identities

 

In other words, I hope for solidarity.

I hope for understanding, gender starscapes and fluidity

I hope to bring compassion for the unknown

And recognition of the need to listen, I hope for humility.

by Gray Horwitz, Environmental Science Teacher - December 4, 2014
 
Another semester has sped past all too quickly, and I wanted to take this chance to share some highlights from Environmental Science.
 

    Food Intensive

Learning about grafting at Wolfskill Experimental Orchard & Picking strawberries at Swanton Berry Farms

What seems like forever ago — late September — the students journeyed to the Bay Area and Santa Cruz to learn more about the unseen sides of agriculture.  We toured Swanton Berry Farm and learned about socially just farming, Bi-valve Clover Dairy and saw the inner workings of a 600-cow operation, and UC Davis’s Feedlot and GMO Seed Lab. Spencer Wollan, a current Woolman student, says, “Until I went on the food trip, I never realized the complexity surrounding the issue of GMOs.” All of our stops, from distribution centers to living plant libraries and even a Jelly Belly factory tour provided us with new information, perspectives, and questions to pursue.
 
 

 


Ecology Research Presentations

Wild Turkey Jeopardy & Thistle on thistles
 
Delving into the wilderness surrounding Woolman, students chose one organism to research and present to the class. Through these spotlights on individual species, we gathered a larger sense of the ecology of the land. Emily Spognardi, a community intern and environmental science class T.A. says, “Turkey Jeopardy was a refreshing way to connect and learn about local wildlife!”
 
 

 

 

 

Sustainability Projects

Woolman well data for this semester & Ceramic coffee filters to replace plastic ones

Students have been working hard throughout the semester on their Sustainability Projects. Some projects include creating a student library, plastic awareness, well water monitoring and awareness, cataloging what is grown in the Woolman garden, a chicken guide, and fire circle renovation. Come see our presentations December 6th at 2:00 pm!
by Dorothy Henderson, Interim Head of School - December 3, 2014
As I write this, I am warmed by the fire in my wood stove, awaiting the warmth of the almost-winter sun to take the chill off the day.  On these clear cold mornings it is easy to feel grateful for the simplicity of a full stack of wood and kindling, for the pink and azure sunrise, for the quiet of an early morning at Woolman. Gratitude fills the space.
 
This morning I am grateful for the young people who take the risk of leaving home to come to Woolman. Some travel across the country, some leave the inner city, some leave suburban prep schools. All of them leave what is known, what is familiar, and their time at Woolman becomes a living laboratory of what it really means to practice equality and peace, to try to live in harmony and understanding with others. 
 
This morning I am grateful for this living laboratory, this container that we are trying to create to hold these young people as they find their way. Within this container, we have deepened our roots in Friends faith and practice, strengthened our teaching and learning of Nonviolent Communication and instituted restorative justice circles as part of our response to community discord. 
 
This morning I am grateful for the abundant community discord that has emerged as we endeavor to live these practices, to create this container. We have described our effort as an experiment and within this experiment we struggle. Again and again, we need to remind ourselves and each other to come back to our faith that it is possible to find that of God, that of Truth, in all. That we can bring the core of nonviolence to all that we do and say. That love is an action, not just a feeling. 
 
This morning I am grateful to be a part of a Quaker school.  As the only Quaker semester school, we are held in the larger container of a 325-year history of Friends education in this country that prepares young people to live lives of integrity and meaning.  We draw strength and support from this history and community.
 
Finally this morning I am grateful for you, the reader of this newsletter and blog, for taking the time to share this moment. I hope that this message inspires you to stop and reflect on what in your life fills you with gratitude.
by Maggie McProud, Farm-to-Table Coordinator - December 2, 2014

It’s been a very busy season in the garden this year!  The fields have been put to bed and are bursting with a think blanket of cover crop spouts.  Our community has been working hard all year to tend and celebrate the little sweet spot on our campus that provides such bounty.  Since January we built a new and very nice green house, remodeled our beehive, installed a huge drainage system as well as three water catchment elements to preserve our soils, reduce run- off and increase the water holding capacity on site.  All the while, we're pumping out hundreds of pounds of the freshest of foods, rich in nutrients for our community in as well as inspiring young people through garden education.  We had a wonderful season with our small and loyal CSA members.  Woolman has also been selling produce to Summerthyme’s Bakery, where we are featured in their weekly specials. Wow, no wonder we're tired! A huge THANK YOU to the students, interns, staff, visiting students and volunteers who all played a part in making this season a success!

In the Intern Garden Class and Farm to Table, we've started exploring the ethics and principles of Permaculture.  Permaculture is best described as "a system of assembling conceptual, material and strategic components in a pattern which functions to benefit life in all it’s forms. It seeks to provide a sustainable and secure place for living things on this earth."  It's been a wonderful and interesting opportunity to brainstorm ways we might design our lives to be more ecologically and socially resilient in this time of globalization. In the Woolman garden, we hope to inspire mutually beneficial approaches to life though observation, careful thought, smart work and cooperation, leaving plenty of room for imagination and enjoyment. As Einstein said, "We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking we used when we created them."
 

by Nicole Esclamado, Intern Program Coordinator - December 2, 2014

The Woolman Community Intern Program forms an essential thread that helps to weave together the fabric of life here at Woolman. On any given day, you will find these magic-makers creating beautiful meals, planting seeds, harvesting roots, connecting with students, hugging, laughing, crying, supporting – doing the invaluable work of the heart – an organ that doesn't just pump blood through the body, but synergizes all of its cells, organs and systems. Indeed the interns here combine really hard work and deep heart-work, in a way that allows unique and emergent life to flow through the veins of this community. 

The classes we teach here deal a lot with how to live in a time of great change, and how to hold oneself and each other lovingly as beings who are constantly changing and growing.  I am excited to teach Cooking & Nutrition Class to the interns this semester, as I see it as an opportunity to look at this truth through a different window.  What are the interconnected systems inside our physical bodies that inspire our one emotional, mental, spiritual dynamic life?  What do we know about these physiological systems, and how do we know it?  How do our bodies relate to the Earth, and what role does food play in this relationship?  Every Thursday morning, interns come to prepare a meal for the community together and spend time considering the story of food as it moves through ecosystems and human hands, and the stories we tell ourselves that shape what the food does when it gets to our body.

Intern Seminar is a time to gather skills to celebrate and support life.  Thus far, we have had classes on: The Art of Live-Culture Fermentation, The Great Toilet Challenge (Plumbing 101), Woodworking I and II, Craniosacral Therapy Introduction – an example of the art of hands-on healing, and The Acorn Model:  A Nature-based Model for Mentoring and Community Building. This semester the interns are also taking a weekly Garden Seminar and a Non-violent Communication class, to widen and deepen their skill set as change-makers in the world.  

by Lisa Putkey, Peace Studies Teacher - December 2, 2014

“All Oppression is Connected” –Staceyann Chin

One of the most inspirational and exciting experiences for me all semester was co-organizing and co-facilitating the Global Issues and Peace Studies (GIPS) trip.  Our goal in designing the trip was to give our students the opportunity to see models of activism and social change in action in order to empower them to see themselves as agents of change.  We have been studying themes of peace, violence, and systemic oppression and wanted to present students with examples in the Bay Area of ordinary people making extraordinary efforts to challenge the status-quo and create just communities.  Being from the Bay Area, I was excited to collaborate with many friends and organizations whose work I admire and respect. 

The theme of our trip this fall was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1967 Beyond Vietnam speech in which he states:

“I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin—we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered”

We wanted to highlight the intersectionality of systemic oppression and violence as it manifests through the giant triplets of racism, capitalism, and militarism.  In class this semester we have been working with students to not only develop a critical consciousness of these intersecting oppressions in their daily lives but to envision, discuss, and act upon the change they want to see in the world.  From community murals and gardens to meditation circles to FOIA requests to nonviolent protest to creating alternative institutions, we wanted to provoke thoughts on different organizing styles and challenge students to examine which models of change resonate most with their own passions and communities.  Below you will find the schedule of activities from the week and a reflection piece by one of our students, Flannery Raabe. 

 

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Morning

- Tri Valley CAREs presentation & perimeter tour of nuclear weapons lab

- Oscar Grant mural at Fruitvale Station

-Visit Canticle Farm

- Generation Waking Up workshop

-Political activism talk at Oakland City Hall

-AFSC presentation on the prison industry

Afternoon

-LLNL presentation at Discovery Center with weapons researcher

-Lunch and mural tour with 67 Sueños

-AORTA Solidarity Economics workshop

-Iraq Vets Against the War presentation

-Beehive Collective workshop/exhibition

Evening

-Watch Fruitvale Station

 

- Berkeley Poetry Slam

-Open house dinner

-East Point Peace Academy Nonviolence training & exchange w/ Youth Spirit Artworks

 

The GIPS trip was inspiring and educational. I was constantly considering the theme of our trip, the giant triplets of militarism, capitalism, and racism, and the idea that fear could be the root of all of them. One of the coolest parts of the trip, for me, was the nuclear and anti-nuclear places because they combined both environmental issues and human issues. On Monday, we talked to a group called Tri-Valley CAREs, an anti-nuclear community watchdog. Marylia Kelley, one of the two staff that the organization has, talked to us about the work her organization has done and about the work done in the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. She told us that as part of Tri-Valley CAREs, she has helped workers from Lawrence Livermore get compensation for injuries from a variety of things, especially exposure to radiation. Marylia’s organization helps provide the community an alternative to the militaristic nuclear lab through their work to expose the negative effects of the lab and provide paths of resistance. What really struck me about this organization was their willingness to work with the community, rather than hiding things from the community like the lab seemed to do. The collaboration seemed to be an important tool in community organizing.

After talking to Marylia, we talked to a few people who have spent almost 30 years working as part of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Our group asked questions that were perhaps a little too attacking, but we were straight to the point and asked what we wanted to know. However, she seemed to evade most of our questions. Her answers were vague, and it seemed like she was often just repeating the question. We asked follow up questions in some cases to try to get a clearer answer, but she dodged even those. Overall, I left the lab feeling disappointed and suspicious of what she wasn’t saying when she avoided our questions. Maybe she just didn’t know the answers, but even that would cause me to worry a little bit. It’s also possible that she wasn’t allowed to disclose the answers and was trying to appease us best she could, but that would mean there is something to hide. Either way, the way the talk went made me suspicious, or at least uncomfortable. I’m wondering now how I would have felt if we had gone to the lab first and to Tri-Valley CAREs second, but, honestly, I’m not sure it would have made much of a difference.

When we were visiting the lab, I felt like militarism and capitalism definitely influenced the work they do. Without the militaristic society we live in, we wouldn’t need the lab to keep the nuclear weapons we have fully functional. The tour guide admitted to being motivated by fear and it seemed to me that the whole lab’s militaristic ideology is motivated by fear and capitalistic values.  A lot of the values of capitalism we talked about in the AORTA workshop on Wednesday were present in the work of the lab. They seemed more interested in self preservation than things that are beneficial to the whole.

On Monday night, we watched the movie Fruitvale Station. This movie documented the last day of Oscar Grant’s life. Oscar was a young, black male living in Oakland, California. He had a girlfriend and they wereraising a daughter together. On the night he was murdered, he was taking the BART subway home from a New Year’s celebration. He was stopped by the police and ended up being shot. The inherent racism in our police system was clearly at play here and after hearing so much about police brutality in class and in the news, it was powerful to see a real story of the affects of racism in our police system. In addition, it seems to me that the “security” of the community is similar to the “security” of the nation through nuclear weapons — motivated by fear. Both nuclear weapons use and Oscar Grant’s murder were horrendous side effects of fear.        

Reflection by Flannery Raabe
Photos by Gray Horwitz

by Benjamin Hofvendahl, Student - November 30, 2014

Friday, Nobember 14th, marked the 124th firing of the oldest noborigama kiln in the U.S., built on Woolman soil in 1971 by a large crew, including Dick Hotchkiss, who runs it currently. Woolman students, local potters, and some from as far off as North Carolina came to our campus for this three-day event.

A noborigama is a Japanese style of kiln dating back to the 17th century. It features a large clay structure with multiple connected chambers situated on a slope.


Day 1:

We split rounds of cedar into massive rows of kindling.

We glazed our pieces together, and stacked them on shelves next to the kiln.

It was strange to see over 2,000 ceramic pieces, each individually and carefully crafted by so many different potters and sculptors, all fit into a single kiln.

The kiln doors were sealed shut late at night. A fire was built at the top to create suction, and another fire was built at the bottom. We stoked it until the fire glowed yellow-white and a searing kiln wind pulled from the bottom chamber out through the chimney.


Day 2:

We stoked the kiln all morning, all day, and into the night, in shifts.

One person pulls the stopper out, one throws the wood in, then shuts the stopper, all in one quick motion. It’s so hot that the wood explodes rather than burns.

The heat is intense, but it’s much more exciting than unpleasant. Except by the end of your shift, that is.


Day 3:

This is the time we'd been referring to as "Christmas morning."

We opened up the doors, and assembly-line passed thousands of hot ceramics into the open.

“No oggling. Keep the line moving.”

We oggled. I oggled quickly, caressed each piece with my hands as I passed it to the lady on my right, who was beaming back at me. Honestly, my heart was pounding with joy and excitement. I cannot overstate the emotional effect of watching all of these transformed pieces, hot out of the kiln and baked dark and smooth and vibrant, being passed out into the open. I saw each piece individually, and was briefly elated by its elegant form, its weight, the way its heat lingered on my hands, the rich dark interior or the the way the glazes interplay on the rim, before passing it to my right and taking the next on my left.

And finally, every piece was layed out together in the open, and all the artists walked among them, collecting their own, admiring others’, and talking.

There’s an element of unpredictability in the process that is fascinating. The upper chambers were hotter than the lower; the bottom one was more prone to scorching; reduction and oxidation work in mysterious ways, making the same glaze turn different colors on different pots, different colors on the same pot, or different colors on different sides of a pot; some unfortunate pieces (unless you’re into that) had pieces of the kiln roof fall into them. The number of variables that play into how a piece turns out is dizzying. It’s an exercise in acceptance.


 

I think I may be a little bit in love with ceramics. There were pieces so finely crafted that I could feel the sculptors hands poring over every curve and surface, and, though I’m blushing as I write this, there were pieces that were so beautiful, or so shapely that they made my heart flutter in a way that I can really only compare to meeting the gaze of someone I have a crush on.


 

One of the greatest things about ceramics, as Giovanna noted to me, is the community it creates. All these potters and sculptors rely on each other, and come together here for this kiln firing. Thank you all the people who built the dragon kiln, all the people who kept it running, the people who split the wood, the people who stacked, the people who stoked, the people who piled, the people who passed, the people who brought food, the people who explained to me the nuances of how the whole confounded thing works, the people who contributed works of ceramic to the kiln, the people who contributed their knowledge, the people who contributed their work and their love, and all the people who shared the joy of the whole process.


Thank you all,

Benjamin




(First photo by Maggie Jones. Subsequent photos by Gray and Nomi)

by Nicole Esclamado, Intern Program Coordinator and Kitchen Manager - November 25, 2014

             

We shared a beautiful meal together (prepared by the magic-making interns - thank you) before our Woolman community members went off in different directions for the holiday. It was an occasion to let our attention take root in the land here for a moment, to feel the feet that have walked upon it, all the movement and movements, fierceness and stillness, light and shadow … to acknowledge the various lives and forms of life that have found a home here, felt lost here, felt found, and are still searching.  So much gratitude for YOU.

              

 

photo credit to Gray Horwitz.  Thank you!

by Hannah Mackinney a.k.a. Thistle, Student - November 17, 2014
Clive Hamilton’s book Requiem for a Species is all about climate change. The book explains the science behind climate change, but also goes into the root causes of our excessive energy consumption. We live in a society where “success” is often measured in Gross Domestic Product, a scale which perpetuates the idea that wealth equals happiness. The book points out that studies have shown that once a certain level of wealth is achieved, happiness levels no longer rise with income, however, carbon emissions do. When we put excessive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, we create a positive feedback loop where “increases of atmospheric greenhouse gases raise the heat-trapping potential of the atmosphere, which in turn interferes with the natural carbon cycle in ways than tend to amplify the greenhouse effect.”[1] (The greenhouse effect is greenhouse gases absorbing thermal radiation from the planet’s surface and re-radiates it in all directions. The greenhouse effect is responsible for creating livable temperatures on Earth, but human emissions of fossil fuels have increased it to the point where it causes global warming.)
        As we learn from the IPAT equation, (Impact = Population × Affluence × Technology), “the level of environmental Impact depends on the Population, the level of Affluence (measured by GDP per person) and Technology.”[2] Since all of these factors are currently on the rise globally, our levels of carbon emissions have reached irreversible heights. We can no longer prevent climate change, and the window in which we have any power to abate it is shrinking rapidly. Yet on a large scale, humans still aren’t doing anything about it. Why?
        One of the main reasons is that as a society, we are dependent on burning fossil fuels for energy. The way our economy functions, we won’t have an incentive to start looking for clean energy until what we are currently using stops being profitable.[3] We don’t look at the big picture, and what will be good for the future of our species because capitalism and the advertising that targets us tells us that gratification only matters if it’s instant. We are told that it’s “modern” and “sophisticated” to “spend more, borrow more and save less;”[4] we’re told that economic growth is inherently good, patriotic, even. Most people who are skeptical of, or in denial about climate change feel this way because the idea that we need to reduce our CO2 emissions threatens the GDP-oriented idea of success which we hold so dearly. 
        If we really want to decrease our carbon emissions, we have to stop the cycle of growth for the sake of growth, and while this inspires fear in a large percentage of the population, as Hamilton argues, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. He points out that  “in the consumption society economic growth can be sustained only as long as people remain disconnected. Economic growth no longer creates happiness: unhappiness sustains economic growth.”[5] Advertising has shaped our society so dramatically that people’s identities are directly linked to their status as consumers. We are told that we are not worthy or good enough until we buy the newest, hottest thing.[6] There are entire industries that feed off our insecurity and tell us what we need in order to feel good, but when we buy it, we don’t and we try to buy more crap to fill the holes in our lives.[7] What we really need is love and validation and a sense of self. When we have those things in our lives, we no longer feel as attached to our possessions, but the economy works hard to perpetuate a culture of scarcity, to keep us so busy wanting that we forget what we really need.[8] 
        When people are told that if we really want to reduce our carbon emissions, we have to stop consuming so much, they get scared because it feels like an attack at their very being, not simply their behavior. In order to do anything to prevent climate change, we must dismantle the concept of the consumer self. This is extremely difficult, because if we want our actions to dramatically affect climate change, we need to move fast, and at this point most people are unaware of how deeply their identities are linked to consumption, let alone ready to change their behavior so dramatically.
 
________________
[1] Hamilton, Clive. "No Escaping the Science." Requiem for a Species: Why We Resist the Truth about Climate Change. London: Earthscan, 2010. 9. Print.
[2] Hamilton, Clive. "Growth Fetishism." Requiem for a Species: Why We Resist the Truth about Climate Change. London: Earthscan, 2010. 42. Print.
[3] Muller, Richard A. "Climate Change." Physics and Technology for Future Presidents: An Introduction to the Essential Physics Every World Leader Needs to Know. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2010. 383-87. Print.
[4] Hamilton, Clive. "The Consumer Self." Requiem for a Species: Why We Resist the Truth about Climate Change. London: Earthscan, 2010. 93. Print.
[5] Hamilton, Clive. "The Consumer Self." Requiem for a Species: Why We Resist the Truth about Climate Change. London: Earthscan, 2010. 71. Print.
[6] Susan is telling me about a movie called The Joneses where actors infiltrate a wealthy neighborhood in order to sell things to their community, which isn’t exactly how things work, but it’s a similar idea.
[7] Susan is telling me about another movie that explains that if you’re naked in a thunderstorm and someone offers you a warm cabin, your problems can be solved by material things, but that isn’t applicable to most of life.
[8] I live in a warm cabin. I have tea and instant oatmeal and a safe place to sleep and all my physical needs are met. But having a roommate who cares about me feels at least as important as those things. If I didn’t have Susan here, I might feel like something was missing in my life, and perhaps I would fill that void by ordering copious numbers of toasters over the internet.
by Mishel Ramos, Student - November 9, 2014

This poem was performed Wednesday night in Berkeley at a Slam Poetry event. (Click on the image to see the Video).

by Chloe Auman, Student - October 24, 2014

Every semester the Woolman campus hosts the Quaker Quarterly Meeting and many Quakers all come to stay on Woolman campus and use the cabins and classrooms for meetings and lodging. Students and interns can join, or go on a mid-semeter adventure called Staycation where we choose as a semester where to go for four days. Our semester chose to go to the Stinson Beach/Point Reyes area!


On the first day of staycation we all piled in cars and made it to our campsite and got settled in with plenty of time for a sunset beach trip and a wonderful dinner!IMG_1010.JPG

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On the second day we started out with sleeping in (finally!) and a lazy breakfast. At around 10 o’clock am, a group left camp and went on a beautiful hike from our campsite down the mountain to Stinson beach. It was a day filled with lots of swimming in the ocean, reading and napping in the sun, exploring the small town, and long walks on the beach!

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On day three we all drove down to the beach at Point Reyes and one group of students decided to stay and relax at the beach and search for tide pools, while another decided to go for a hike. The group that stayed at the beach was successful in their search for sea anemones and a relaxing day of reading and napping in the sun. The other group had an amazing time hiking the Tomales Point Trail. On the hike we saw gorgeous views as well as lots of lots of wildlife including tule elk, coyotes, falcons, and a bobcat!

After the hike we all met back up at the beach and had more time swimming and sunbathing before heading into the town of Point Reyes for dinner and ended the night with ice cream and free freshly pressed apple cider gifted to us by a 1970’s graduate of the John Woolman School!



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On the final day of Staycation we all packed up camp and headed to the ocean for one last lunch on the beach, and then packed into the vans sandy, salty, tired, slightly sunburned and happy from a great vacation. On our arrival back on campus we were greeted with lots of hugs and joy from Dorothy, Gray, and other staff members!

by Gray Horwitz, Environmental Science Teacher - October 19, 2014

The night of October 7th, several interns, students, and I slept out among the oaks to watch the lunar eclipse. In doing so, I was reminded of the nights we slept out during the Wilderness Trip at the beginning of the semester, and the bonds that have been made within our community. There was a sense of calm and comfort as we waited for the eclipse, but I waited restlessly, finding celestial objects with students in our telescope and talking to anyone who would listen (read: stay awake) about The Moon. In a month, we will be spending a few classes studying astronomy, learning about the universe, our place in it, and how the greater world outside our pale blue dot affects life.

 
The following photo is a multiple exposure, exposed every 5 minutes over the course of 4 hours. Taken from the middle of Woolman's campus. To see a verison that does justice to the beauty of the night, click here.
 

"The Earth and The Moon would more accurately be called the Earth-Moon System. The Moon is astoundingly close to Earth, from a cosmological perspective, and their relative sizes are also very close.

We owe a great deal to our moon. Life on this planet would be very different, if it managed to survive at all, without The Moon. Ocean tides 'stir' the waters of the planet, creating a semi-aqueous zone around every ocean which would be the perfect place for sea life to try to come up on land. The Moon also brightens the night sky, guiding our sleep cycles and our behavioral evolution. Most importantly for us though, it serves as an asteroid catcher, instead of a single gravity well around our planet there are two of comparable size.

Earth is a perfect planet for many reasons but an important one, our moon, is often forgotten. When I see The Moon at night, I can't help but think about how critical it has been in our development. If Earth is our mother, then The Moon is undoubtedly our father.

The Moon protected Earth while it was new with early life. The Moon has countless visible scars but still keeps constant vigil over Earth and it’s inhabitants. It helped raise us, holding our hands as we learned to walk and lighting up the nights so that we could see. And just like Earth, The Moon has been a wonderful teacher. It taught us how to keep time which let us track the seasons. It helped us figure out how our solar system worked. It helped us learn about gravity. It showed us that relativity was correct, for the most part, and let us feel good about ourselves when we finally managed to say hi in person.

Finally, The Moon will give us a push as we leave home to join the rest of the solar system." 

~Adapted from a quote by Content404

by Mishel Ramos, Student - October 15, 2014

One December, 67 Suenos took a trip to Stockton, home of seasonal work. And those that work in the fields often make cardboard homes. The group had previously visited the forgotten city as they call it. My folks live in cardboard homes under a bridge, cold nights warmed by fire, surrounded by people with the same struggle. We were inspired by how much people made with what they have, and we came back with the idea to help out, build homes and give food and clothes. But when we finally got to the forgotten city, we were hit by their reality.  Stockton police remembered the forgotten people, and a week before we arrived enforcements raided their home. There was one family that stayed behind with nowhere to go, but they were not willing to talk to us, afraid of what might happen. In Peace and Conflict Studies: An Introduction, by Ho-Won Jeong, he says,“If human beings are denied decent education, housing, opportunity to work and freedom to express themselves they become marginalized. Conditions for social fragmentation are created by a lack of equity and freedom” ( pg. 21 p5). What happened to the families in Stockton is a perfect example of both how they were treated as insignificant, and not respected enough to be given the right to build their own homes out of scratch in a country that is so rich and has enough resources for everyone yet poverty still exists. Structural violence is when certain people, genders, classes and nationalities hold more power as opposed to others, more resources and opportunities than other groups. This unequal advantage is built into the very social, political and economic systems that govern societies, states and the world. Since the system was built with the goal to keep classes and races believing that they are less than, then the system has not failed because it was never intended for us, people of color, to succeed. Hence poverty, hence the multitude of people that got stolen from their right to build their way up. You hate us in the streets but you love us when we are working for your companies.

I come from a community full of hard working people, from working early mornings to midnight shifts all to take care of bills and feed their children, East Oakland is where I reside. My community is one of the many targeted communities, from trying to pass curfew laws, to gentrifying the city that black and brown immigrants already occupy. Gentrification is a part of capitalism.  Capitalism relies on some areas of the world being underdeveloped so that they can be cheaply invested in, "developed," and used to make profits. This happens across countries, within countries, across cities, and within cities. Gentrification is one way that capitalism develops “urban” areas.  Capitalist landlords let certain neighborhoods get run down and refuse to do repairs.  Once the neighborhood is devalued, landlords and capitalists can then invest, fix things up, and sell for a higher price.  The difference between the value of a property when it's run-down and devalued and the value of a property that's re-invested in is called the "value gap."  The difference between what a run down property can charge for rent and what a fixed up property can charge for rent is the "rent gap."  The rent gap is what motivates landlords and capitalists to invest in run-down neighborhoods . . . the potential profit that they can get once they fix things up. In Oakland Jerry Brown, California Governor, came up with the idea that to fix violence he needed to bring in 10,000 more new residents into our city. A city that already has high incarceration rates due to “legal discrimination” – housing: rent, location, condition. Employment and education: built to keep us eating right out of their hand. Public benefits: what is that? We have none. – My community has a lot of racial profiling and targeting so many youth in school. I come from a district that uses a lot of our schools budget that should be going into our education, yet they use a lot of our funding for school police. Our youth are being targeted in and out of school. From the book The New Jim Crow, author Michelle Alexander states, “.. National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals .. No new institutions for adults should be built and existing institutions for juvenile should be closed”. In 1973, there were 350,000 people held in prisons nation wide but today there are 2 million humans incarcerated in the US alone. Over the past twenty years, the State of California has built twenty one new prisons, added thousands of cells to existing facilities, and increased its inmate population eight fold. Nonviolent offenders have been responsible for most of that increase. The number of drug offenders imprisoned in the state today is more than twice the number of inmates who were imprisoned for all crimes in 1978. California now has the biggest prison system in the Western industrialized world, a system 40 percent bigger than the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The state holds more inmates in its jails and prisons than do France, Great Britain, Germany, Japan, Singapore, and the Netherlands combined. There is overwhelming evidence institutions create crime rather then prevent it.

I am a part of a youth group called 67 Suenos, 67 came out of the 67% of the youth that weren’t going to benefit from the Dream Act, the Dream Act “This bill would provide conditional permanent residency to certain immigrants of good moral character who graduate from U.S. high schools, arrived in the United States as minors, and lived in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill's enactment. If they were to complete two years in the military or two years at a four-year institution of higher learning” says Wikipedia. This bill off course did not benefit more than half of our youth, they were viewed as either valedictorians or criminals, but most definitely left out the real part the human part of our undocumented youth. The ones that had to stop pursuing an education because ICE enforcements struck them with deporting a mother or a father and now our youth had to take care of siblings or even have to look for help to provide economic help, we are not criminals but we all cant get straight A’s when we have to worry where our next meals will come from, recently we found out that also from the immigration reform 67% of our undocumented families are being left out of an important conversation, our future. What 67 Suenos does is hold a safe space for youth to learn and get informed with what is happening in the real world struggles and what media is always leaving out. We hold a healing circle for our youth to talk about the things that we have to carry around, it provides us with a space to heal each other and ourselves by communicating and using medicine we call sage, sap of the tree. We go on protest to fight the many things that affects us and our communities. In a letter from a Birmingham jail, Martin Luther King says “we know through a lot of painful experiences that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed… justice too long delayed is too long denied”. And we have to fight the system and unjust laws, like closing Wells Fargo because they are the main source that is investing in the detention centers of our people, boycotting Mi Pueblo a super market that ran background checks on its workers and fired so many workers that worked there for years when the owner was once undocumented himself, protesting Pacific Steel a company that fired a lot of their workers one a week before Christmas and left them without pay. “There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope sir you understand our legitimate and unavoidable impotence,” writes Martin Luther King in A letter from a Birmingham Jail. I strongly believe in my heart that there comes a time when people get so tired of all the injustices that they see around them and just have to lash out to the main cause of their oppression, people have to wake up at some point because even sleeping beauty woke up from a spell. Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever.

For years my people have been taunted about what we “do not have”. Put in our faces pictures of what real beauty is, and that what we look like isn’t. Live in third world countries that have gorgeous landscapes, and yet we have been convinced that beauty is cities full of skyscrapers, city lights, and traffic. Migrated from beautiful lands full of grass and delicious crops in search of the American dream, the one that doesn’t exist. We come from humble communities full of culture and tradition, introduced to busy streets full rushing citizens. Locked into a system that doesn’t want to see us shine. Structural violence tries to keep us shut down yet we look for all ways to break free whether under the system or concrete we will break out of the oppression and set ourselves free. “Peace ultimately has to be obtained by changing social structures that are responsible for death, poverty, and malnutrition” – Martin Luther King. Change is gonna come.

by Amelia Nebenzahl, Global Issues Teacher - October 13, 2014

With voting day just around the corner, Woolman students had a unique opportunity to engage with and critically analyze the political process in the United States. In Global Issues class, we are exploring what it means to be a "democratic" country and how democratic processes are manifested both in the US and around the world. We talk about the power behind voting in our representative democracy as well as access to voting and how different demographics of people living in the US are helped or hindered in participating in the democratic process. To our great fortune, the League of Women voters held a debate between the two congressional candidates for our district of California, Heidi Hall and Doug LaMalfa!! What better way to combing our theoretical class analysis with practical real-world happenings!

I was extremely pleased and proud of the level of engagement and excitement from the students surrounding the debate. They were wonderfully analytical of the candidates' platforms and presentations, and although our questions weren't chosen to be asked during the forum, we had an opportunity to meet the candidates afterwards and express our priorities and concerns to the prospective representatives. The topics of our inquiries to candidates ranged from marriage equality to climate change to immigration rights and more!

 

by Nicole Esclamado, Intern Program Coordinator and Kitchen Manager - October 8, 2014

 

. we were born right now

for a reason

we can be whatever

we give ourselves the power to be

 

and right now we need

day dreamers

gate keepers

bridge builders

soul speakers

web weavers

light bearers

food growers

wound healers

trail blazers

truth sayers

life lovers

peace makers

 

give what you most deeply desire

to give

every moment you are choosing to live

or you are waiting

 

why would a flower hesitate to open?

now is the only moment

rain drop let go

become the ocean

 

possibility is as wide

as the space

we create

to hold it

 

- from Awaken by Climbing Poetree

 

When I think of what the community interns do here, I am reminded of this poem.  Pretty soon after arriving at Woolman, I noticed that we use the verb “hold” more often and in more ways than I was used to.  We don't just hold hands before each meal; we seek to hold community, hold one's truth and another's, hold a space for radical education, hold a grounded vision of the land ... And the community interns here hold a lot.  Whether it's cooking for 40+ people, gardening, TAing, mentoring, meeting, learning, playing, or adventuring, the interns hold the space of possibility.  And they follow through, putting in the daily effort of collapsing each chosen possibility into a dynamic physicality, emotionality, and mentality that connects light bearers to food growers to wound healers to trail blazers to truth sayers to life lovers ...

Thank you for your love and skillful magic.

Photo above of the Community Interns:  Joe, Sadie, Keithlee, Sonja, Kat, Giovanna, Lizzy, and Emily.

Photo below from Intern Seminar:  Interns putting their plumbing skills to the test in the Great Toilet Challenge with our maintenance man/dreamweaver Red.

                         

by Susan Bell, Student - September 27, 2014

Before I visited the Berkeley Edible Schoolyard, I had fairly low expectations. I thought it was an interesting program, but I was skeptical. In my past experiences with observing similar programs, I have been disappointed because they have not been entirely successful.

Within the first ten minutes of hearing the woman speak about the program and the kids’ involvement, most of my expectations were exceeded. I was impressed with the facilities of the kitchen, and the layout and upkeep of the garden. I was surprised by the organization of the schoolyard, from color-coded tools to agendas written out for students. It was also nice to see the kids learning to become most self-sufficient, and leaning life skills. I think this program is very sturdy, and does wonders for the students and the school as a whole.

One thing I learned about the program that I did not realize before is that they incorporate animals into their program. I think this is a valuable lesson to help kids understand where their eggs and meat come from by creating relationships with chickens.

I would have liked to spend more time in the kitchen to observe their cooking program. From just walking around, it looked like the kids were enjoying themselves and having fun learning.  I think the most impressive aspect of the program was the enthusiasm from both sides, the administrators and the students.  I got the idea that the students look forward to the class, and the class has grown to make the school a better place. 

by Heather Sieger, Student - September 25, 2014
On Monday, our second stop was at Wolfskill Experimental Orchard, or National Clonal Germplasm Repository, which is owned by the federal government and land is leased from UC Davis. I enjoyed seeing this “living library” of so many different species and varieties of fruits and nuts. First, we learned all about how grafting works. Grafting means to take a limb off of one tree and line it up with a similar part of another tree and since trees’ immune systems are so much different from our own, it heals up the cut and the new branch will grow into the tree. It was common here to see walnut trees with the bottom of their trunks a darker bark color than the top because of the types of trees grafted onto one another. The darker color is a type of walnut that has a strong root system that fights off bacteria and diseases, which the top kind is another variety that we want. I find this interesting because you could have so many different varieties of a fruit on one single tree, and for apples, all of each variety comes from one tree and then is grafted onto other apple trees.
 
Since this is a Germplasm Repository, they do not harvest the food grown here and just keep it as a place to preserve species and varieties of grapes and fruit trees and nuts. I was impressed with all of the grapes—there are 3500 varieties at this orchard, some with seeds and some without. How are seedless grapes grown? They actually have seeds when they are young, but at a certain time as they are maturing they get a mutation that kills them. In order for these to reproduce from seed, someone must go into the grape as it is young and take out the premature seeds before they leave.
 
We also got to see and taste olives, pistachios, and figs. Olives taste really bad when they are first picked off of a tree, they are very bitter and need to go through much processing to taste how we are used to them tasting. To make olive oil, the olives are juiced and then the oil and water that comes out is separated because the water holds the bitter taste while the oil is what we know. The pistachios have three layers, the seed, the shell, and an outer coating. Unique about this nut is that the shell forms before the seed inside forms, which is opposite than must nuts like almonds and walnuts. The figs were different colors, so that wasn’t what told us they were ready to be eaten, but rather when their stems were leaning downwards. I really enjoyed spending time at and learning about the Wolfskill Orchard!
 
by Thistle (Hannah) Mackinney, Student - September 12, 2014

I perceive the world through a construct of words
articulate my articles with literate alliteration
a carefully constructed concept of creation
coerced into calling my own
but my bias is based on beliefs
that pile up. Poignant presumptions
grounded on ideas and experience
of ethos, air, and education.

Some species sip the sunlight
a succulent subsistence
sentence structure is superfluous
when you’re older than the dinosaurs
sending out spores
and I am opening doors made of driftwood
and other things that I’ve forgotten.

Some things don’t need words:
the way the bark curls off the manzanita
falls at the slightest
pressure of my finger
as if it wants to be undressed, and that’s okay.
It’s totally fine
not to feel fine all the time.

That’s what I’m doing.
I’m walking with God.
I have just enough fear to keep me alive
as I strive to find the dragon.
Something is hidden in these woods
so I ask for love from the Archangel Michael:
you’re my idol and the only muse I need
cause everything’s inspiring
when everything is nothing
and everything is buzzing, humming
and all that love is part of God.

I met a water snake. I didn’t shriek
I simply followed upstream
swimming, sliding till I too became a snake
and I slipped through the silky spray
the safe suck of the current
swishing on my scaly skin
the silver satisfying surface tension
of the Yuba.

If I follow this path
I’m bound to get hurt.
If you walk barefoot sometimes you get splinters
and pain stings more than numbness,
the tingle when your foot falls asleep
but now it’s time to wake up!
and I’d swear every step brings me closer to God
but I don’t need to.
You have my truth
and I don’t give a damn if you don’t think I’m good enough.

I will sing a song of succulent surrender
and of sanitation cause it’s hard to remember
that even the messy bits
are part of God.
Spilled yogurt and microaggressions
the dirt in a wound and misguided perception
clutter and chaos and unanswered questions
Nothing can hide from the light.
You may feel insignificant
but deep down you are sacred
and it’s totally fine
not to feel fine all the time.

by Jena Brooker, student - May 5, 2014

     There was a guy on the side of the road holding a sign saying, "Farm Tours" painted along with an arrow and a strawberry. Intern Tom said, "That looks a little like Bear." (Bear was the guy who was giving us a tour.) So, we kept driving. And then realized ten minutes later, that was in fact the strawberry farm we were touring! So we turned around.

      Bear was very gracious about our tardiness. He welcomed us with three gallons of strawberry lemonade, which was much appreciated on the 82 degree day. We gathered around his pickup truck as he explained the basics of Swanton Berry Farm. 

     Swanton Berry Farm is the first organic strawberry farm. Swanton was also one of the first farms to change worker conditions in a positive way. A lot of farms pay for quantity; you get payed by the box. However, Swanton decided to try out paying by the hour and it greatly benefited them. In addition to paying by the hour, the pay is a livable wage. They are able to succeed because their berries are picked at a better quality, due to their workers not rushing. Another really cool thing about Swanton is their approach in the worker's ownshership of the farm. I didn't quite understand it all, but it's kind of like a co-op. It gives their workers security, completely opposite to the likelihood of being fired on the spot for whatever reason. The strawberry beds are also raised 36 inches off the ground. This minimizes the harm done to a worker's back, due to having to stoop over so low. 

     They also grow: blackberries, kiwis, artichokes, rhubarb, broccoli, and other berries. To help the abundant plant life on the farm, they have nine bee boxes. We got to check out the bees and I learned that there were different colored shapes on each box to guide the bees back to their home. Bees are incredibly smart. 

     When you grow a lot of one thing in the same area, your crops become much more prone to disease. Strawberries especially require a lot of chemical upkeep to maintain their potential. Swanton struggled with losing their strawberries to Verticillium. However, one year they found that planting strawberries in a field recently planted with broccoli got rid of the disease! So, Swanton is able to provide us with delicious berries without using non-organic harmful sprays to keep their crop alive. 

     After touring most of the farm, we got to the strawberries! We were given free range to pick as many as we wanted. When looking for the right strawberry you want to flip the strawberry over and pick the ones that are the most red, all around. Warm from the sun the strawberries were incredible. It also felt good that these berries were the product of social justice. 

      TIP: U-PICK strawberry fields are really gross, kind of like a McDonalds play place. 

by Cait Corrigan-Orosco, student - May 5, 2014

On the morning of Thursday, May 1st The Woolman Semester School visited the Homeless Garden Project in Santa Cruz, which is a non-profit that “provides job training, transitional employment and support services to people who are homeless”. Kate Pearl gave us a tour of the 3-acre organic farm.

One thing I found interesting about the farm was the system used to make soil that they have in place. Soil, compost and grass are the layers of the system. Separate mounds are in place for it to decompose faster.

After the tour we got into two groups 1) to help weed or 2) to pick strawberries. We volunteered working in the garden for 1 hour and it was awesome!

Visiting the Homeless Garden Project was such a rewarding experience. Knowing that places like the Homeless Garden Project exists gives me hope that by working together in communities we can overcome the economical issues in the world.