Every Campus a Refuge

The Friday Photo
November 20, 2015

photo by Guilford College studetn Kat Miller
photo by Guilford College student Kat Miller

The Guilford College Community practices its cornerstone principles. #everycampusarefuge

Now she really is GuilfordJane

The Friday Photo
August 28, 2015 

photo credit Guilford College

Jane K Fernandes is truly #GuilfordJane now. She was presented with the original skeleton key and lock to Founders Hall during her inauguration Wednesday  as Guilford College’s ninth President, and the first woman to serve in that role. 

Jane preferred a community-based event that celebrates Guilford. No academic regalia was required. The lei Jane wore was a gift from her in-laws as a remembrance of living in Hawaii when she and her husband Jim were first married.

A burning take on the Ice Bucket Challenge

This was posted on my friend, Derek Maingot, on his Facebook page on August 21. He kindly agreed to let me repost it here.

Michael Jack
Michael Jack

I’ve been asked by several hundred (slight exaggeration) people now why I’ve not done the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Two WEEKS ago Zhan was the first person I saw on the internet doing this, and he challenged me. 

This is long before it took off and I kind of feel proud to have been one of the first to get challenged.

He challenged me because my dear friend Michael was slowly beaten down by this disease. 13 long years of fights. 3 years ago, on August 22 he sent us an email that he’d prepared, saying that he finally succumbed to ALS. The subject of the email was “That’s all she wrote”.

So why have I not done this challenge? Yet?

Well, I’ll be honest, I’ve been having a BLAST watching this thing go viral. I originally promised Zhanny to try (TRY) and do something at Burning Man next week. Those of you know know me know that this disease is the one that I’ve always raised money for over the years and marched in Washington several times with Michaels Fund Raising Team the JackALS.

So I donated and I’ve sat back happily watching my nephews and friends’ kids talking about a disease that they previously knew nothing about. Awareness has gone through the ROOF and so have funds to help people living with the disease. Michael hugely benefitted from these funds from the ALS Association. It’s not all about ‘research’ and the idiot haters out there obviously know NOTHING about how non-profit organizations operate and how they help people with ALS. As that amazing kid said on his video, you’ll soon return to watching cats. For now this is a great spotlight.

Anyway, I’m just so FREAKING happy that this is all happening. We would fight to raise 30, 40, 50 thousand dollars at our walks in DC, and as of today, people have donated a thousand times that amount. I can only smile and know this is all good.

My challenge might be probably among the last to get done, even though I was one of the first to get challenged, but my heart swells to see how great this has worked. I’m proud of everyone.

I hope (HOPE) to get to it next week! But don’t misunderstand my participation. I love EVERY one of you who have helped in whatever role you played!!!

As Michael wrote in his final email “Whatever role you played—friend, family member, colleague, lover, bridge partner, co-conspirator—thank you. Thank you for humoring, befriending, entertaining, enlightening, enabling, abetting, loving, and/or tolerating me. My life was richer for your presence, and I hope you got something in return.”

Derek Maingot accepts the Ice Bucket Challenge at Burning Man 2014
Derek Maingot accepts the Ice Bucket Challenge at Burning Man 2014

I did old friend. I did.

Just chill

Karl Stephan "Chill"
Karl Stephan “Chill”

My friend Karl Stephan posted a gorgeous piece of art work yesterday inspired by the ALS Ice Water Challenge. Karl is stepping up to the challenge too. This is what he posted on Facebook:

I will donate ALL proceeds from the sale of this painting after my expenses*: half to ALS and half to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Message me to make an offer. Anything over $75 (plus MA sales tax) will be divided between the two worthy causes. Karl

Contact Karl today before the 24 hour challenge runs out and then “chill” for the cause.


Bid Day

The Friday Photo
August 15, 2014

Bid Day, Georgia College
Yesterday I had to meet someone at Georgia College in nearby Milledgeville. I snagged a great parking spot facing the campus quad shaded by tall trees and surrounded by beautiful buildings.

I happened upon sorority Bid Day announcements, a ritual that is taking place across college campuses now.

I’d never seen a Bid Day because my alma mater, Guilford College, doesn’t have Greek organizations.

A throng of young women stood together while shrieks and cheers erupted among them. They were standing in groups with matching t-shirts and tank tops while the newest members pulled their new shirt over what they had worn to the quad. Women around them hugged and smiled.

They were a homogenized group-slender attractive young white women, most with long hair, standing on suntanned legs below short shorts. They looked excited in their uniform colored groups.

I wondered about the young women who didn’t get their first choice,  who couldn’t participate because of the cost (it is easily thousands with dues, clothes for social events, etc), who thought they were too heavy, not pretty enough, too dark skinned, had no legacy to claim as leverage, or who didn’t make it to Bid Day at all.

A social worker told me she once worked shifts for the suicide/crisis phone line in Athens during Bid Week at UGA.  The phones rang off the hook with young women who were falling apart due to the outcomes of rushing a sorority. What a hard way to begin a college career.

I hope leaving the quad with a much coveted t–shirt won’t keep those young woman from really stretching themselves well beyond the confines of their sorority house and Greek life.

When you are among Friends

If someone says, “I went to UGA” or any large college or university, most people can readily identify something about that school (football, agriculture, technology, etc). When someone asks an alum of a Quaker school where they went to school, sometimes the person asking the question looks kind of lost if they follow-up and ask what type of school that is and the answer is a simple, “Quaker”. (I have on a few occasions extolled about one benefit of being an alum of a Quaker school is the lifetime supply of free oatmeal. I should not prey on the innocent.)

Quakers are not Shakers (but they can and do shake things up sometimes), or Mennonites, or Amish. Quakers are Quakers just like Methodists are Methodists. They come in all sizes, shapes, colors, and varieties. Flaming Liberals-yep. Middle of the Road-got plenty of those. Conservative- there are some of those too.

If you are wondering who Quakers are and what they do, The Huffington Post ran an article in June, “4 Things We Can All Learn from One of America’s Oldest Religious Communities” which does a good job of explaining some of the ways Quakers work together as a faith community (and as a result in their communities beyond their church).

There is a new family living in Ragsdale House, where the President lives at my Quaker college alma mater, Guilford College. The search to hire our ninth president was unusually transparent when compared to how many schools hire their administrative leaders. When the College announced that Jane K Fernandes had accepted the offer to join the Guilford community, there was a huge outpouring of genuine and heartfelt excitement. Jane said she truly felt called to Guilford, and her passion for the values of Quakers, a Quaker-based education, and Guilford are palpable.

Why am I calling Guilford’s Ninth President “Jane” instead of “Dr Fernandes” or “President Fernandes?” Rule 5 of  22 things only someone who went to a Quaker school would understand, written by a Guilford alum, explains it (slight NSFW language).

Rule 1 about bumper stickers? So true, as a Friday Photo from Rural and Progressive a few years ago demonstrates:

Guilford Alum, Class of 1961, leaves no doubt about her politics
Guilford Alum, Class of 1961, leaves no doubt about her politics






So many firsts

Yesterday the Guilford College community burst into celebration as the next President of the College, Dr. Jane Fernandes, was announced. After an inclusive and exceptionally open search effort, the campus community and far-flung alumni were anxious to know who would be living in Ragsdale House in July.

Jane FernandesJane will be Guilford’s first woman President, our ninth to serve  the campus since the College was chartered in 1837. She will join the Guilford community as we celebrate the 40th year of Women’s Studies on campus.

Much is being made of our first female President, and rightly so. Guilford isn’t immune to the common barriers in higher education.

The second sentence of the College’s long-awaited announcement read, “Jane, who is deaf, will become the first woman to hold the post on July 1 when she succeeds Kent Chabotar.”

Twitter and Facebook echoed with “It’s a woman and she’s deaf.”

Both firsts. Her gender and her deafness have surely shaped her experiences and ideas, all making her Jane Fernandes, Guilford’s ninth President.

When Guilford’s current President was announced 12 years ago, it was noteworthy that Kent would be the first non-Quaker to lead the College. I don’t remember anyone saying “and he’s single and he has no children.” Those were firsts too.

There have been many good firsts since Kent took up residence at Ragsdale House, and I am grateful.

Welcome, Jane. I am one of many holding you in The Light as you begin your many firsts at Guilford.




Among good friends and family

What I might write here about Moral Monday 12 on July 22 won’t add anything better than what has been captured in the photos and two videos below.

My nephews Dillon and Andrew are on the left, my friend Sarah Chew is behind the sign on the right. Photo credit to Armed Democrats for the man in the middle of this collage.

My nephews Dillon and Andrew are on the left, my friend Sarah Chew is behind the sign on the right. Photo credit to Armed Democrats for the man in the middle of this collage.
Mary Helms from News 14 Carolina coverage
Mary Helms from News 14 Carolina coverage

My sister Mary Helms on News 14 Carolina:

Amy Axon from NAACP video, July 22, 2013
Amy Axon from NAACP video, July 22, 2013

The NAACP’s video includes my Guilford College classmate Amy Evans Axon at 5:40

Flying my flag

The Friday Photo
A weekly photo inspired by spontaneity, art, and community.
March 23, 2012

I once introduced myself at a meeting of about 40 health policy/program directors and added, “Guilford College, Class of 83” for fun. A few  people chuckled (there was a concentration of University of Georgia people there). They stopped when another woman said, “I need to talk to you. My daughter just applied to Guilford.”

The more I wave my Guilford flag the smaller the world becomes by way of Guilford connections. Amanda, on the left in the photo, is a Guilford alum (Class of 97) who works as a health policy professional at the Georgia Health Policy Center. Had we not waved our Guilford flags, we would have been at the same meetings and never known both of us love the Fighting Quakers.

Jennette, on the right in the photo, is a friend made through the environmental work I began four years ago. Jennette once sent me an email, copied a Guilford alum, and said we at least needed an electronic introduction.

Then this photo was posted on Facebook and I learned that my health policy/program friend is connected to my environmental advocacy friend.

The world gets smaller every day. It shrinks with technological links all the time (like this photo posted on Facebook), but electronic links are no substitute for the human connection of playing Bocce ball on a hot summer day at a friend’s wedding.

Jennette is about to reach critical mass on Guilford friends. One of us needs to at least get her a t-shirt.

The Ken Burns Effect

The Friday Photo
A weekly photo inspired by spontaneity, art, and community.
March 16, 2012


K=Aaron DeMoss, E=Matt Haselton, N=nte Miller, !=Erin Burns, Ken Burns (coat and tie)

 Take eight brand new college freshmen, add a shared interest in documentaries, steep in a setting that encourages discussion, critical thinking, and creativity, add a little body paint, and you get The Ken Burns Effect.

What began as a common point of dining hall and sidewalk conversations among eight young students at Guilford College has grown into a documentary in the making based on Ken Burns, called, appropriately, The Ken Burns Effect.

The eight freshman are now alums making their way back to Guilford on Tuesday, March 27, to hear Burns speak again. And, like many free-lance film directors and producers, they need to fund their travel and production, hence a really creative fundraising campaign.

I smiled the minute I started watching the video, and laughed out loud too (you’ll have to watch the video, but I suspect others will laugh when I did).

You may know some young adults who are just as creative as these eight Guilford alums, and I hope you encourage them as they tell their stories.

I can’t wait to see The Ken Burns Effect on the big screen because I suspect, in addition to being an homage to Ken Burns, it will tell the story of the deep and lasting impact that Guilford College has on everyone who is lucky enough to be there. Maybe there will be a sequel, working title The Guilford College Effect?

Rural and Progressive

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