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Reblogged from: Wesconnect News. (Go to the original post…)

By A.N. Kini ’13

 

[Museum of the Moving Image]
Image c/o Thanassi Karageorgiou/Museum of the Moving Image

Much like the television series it showcase, the Mad Men exhibition at the Museum of the Moving Image creates an aura of immersive nostalgia: where a longing for an era, and understanding, culminates in an ode to the creative process.

 

Wesconnect went behind the scenes of the Mad Men exhibition with Executive Director of the Museum of the Moving Image, Carl Goodman ’88. The exhibition runs through June 14; alumni, parents and friends are invited to a special Wesleyan evening on May 28. Buy tickets now

On the exhibit

Once the MoMI decided to tell the story of process, from inspiration to writing to character development to production design, they adopted a linear approach. Within every section, this linearity gives way to a hectic sort of energy, mirroring the creative process the exhibition is structured around. It’s very intentional, but feels organic.

“We needed to bring the writer’s room, intact, back to the Museum, along with the many documents that shape the show’s story,” said Carl. Most exhibitions that explore the collaborative process of filmmaking don’t tackle the subject of writing, nor do they attempt to delve into the mind of the maker to find out where ideas come from. “It’s treacherous territory,” said Carl. “And a testimony to the fearlessness and intelligence of Barbara Miller, the Museum’s Curator of Collections and Exhibitions, that she engaged with these subjects in the Mad Men show.” It was the Museum’s open access to Matthew Weiner ’87 that facilitated such a rich showcase. “He’s an enabler…not a gatekeeper.” Barbara Miller calls Matthew a “great personal archivist of his own creative process.”

The Mad Men exhibition at the Museum has been unceasingly popular. The exhibition winds around the Changing Gallery space and follows the structure of the creative process. It begins with a showcase of select books that influenced Matthew Weiner, his notes, a play about a boy who grows up in a brothel and recreates his self, a small listening station where visitors can hear Matthew talking about his music choices for the closing credits.

A natural single-file line emerges from the exhibition’s small walkways and crowds of people. It makes the experience personal, immersive, and makes you relish every artifact you walk by.

Matthew’s notes are splayed on a table under Plexiglas. It’s the first thing you see when you walk up the stairs. “We never once thought of digitizing them,” Carl said. “The use of media shows reverence to the objects…they should bring you closer to them.” The Museum put clips from the show on relatively small screens near the artifacts, as a “reminder of the object’s original context.” When he first saw his notes and excavated script material, Matthew Weiner told Variety that it was “so weird—it’s like pulling your pants down in public.”

There are iPads where you can flip through various multipage proposals, like the one for the credits, or Milton Glaser’s group’s graphic identity for the final season. This section is at the end of the exhibition; it “double backs” on itself to show how different creative professionals pitched their ideas. This is right after a display of the ‘fake’ ad campaigns from the real brands on the show. It creates an interesting physical rhythm. The space between new technology and older modes within the TV series’ plot is replicated in this frisson between the digital and the analog.

“My heart sinks when we un-install a temporary exhibition. We put so much into it, and then it’s gone.” It will be especially true of the Mad Men exhibition, which comes on the heels of the end of the show itself.

[Betty Draper's kitchen, Season 1-4]

Image c/o Thanassi Karageorgiou/Museum of the Moving Image

On the Show

As a visitor and a long-time Mad Men fan, I walked away mulling over the layers of retrospection. The MoMI, and numerous other institutions and events (including Mad Men Dining Week) were engaged in a cultural commemoration of the self-titled “The End of an Era” final season. This is a show about another era and its popularity positioned its run as an era itself. A retrospective on a retrospective? What era is ending?

The show is obsessed with the idea of creation—the creation of ad copy, of course, but also the creation of the self. The show recreates a time—though it is not strictly a period piece. It’s a time machine. And TIME’s James Poniewozik posits that it’s a “holy idea”—“one moment contains all other moments…if you study one time well enough, you understand all times and all people.”

Likewise, when you talk to Weiner about the end of the series, about what he wants to say with the finale, what you get is not simply nostalgia—not sentimentality or any notion of working toward a final endpoint in time. While working on the last episodes, Weineer’s been thinking about history and time on a broader scale than the 1960s or even the 20th century. He’s been thinking, for one thing, about the French Revolution.

…we’re visiting our own time, just with a few layers of wallpaper scrapped off the bedroom wall. We’re visiting the same place we live, even if you’ve never set foot in midtown Manhattan.

…it’s an idea the show has in common with spirituality, and strangely enough, also with science fiction: that four-dimensional, unstuck-in-time concept of one moment connecting with every other….Weiner described the show as “science fiction set in the past”—and what is the favorite subject of science fiction if not time?

On Nostalgia

[Matthew Weiner onset]
Image
c/o Variety

Matthew Weiner wrote the show to interact with current vents. He was thinking of both present-day America, as well as the late 1960s. “People were exhausted and terrified by the economic disaster of the last few years…they had low self-esteem, they were anxious about our place in the world.” As Don Draper says in the famous Kodak Wheel scene, “It goes backwards and forwards, and it takes us to a place where we ache to go again.”

Don muses on the power of nostalgia: “It’s delicate, but potent. Teddy told me that in Greek, ‘nostalgia’ literally means ‘the pain from an old wound.’ It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone.” As Matthew Weiner told TIME, “I love that definition about nostalgia being the pain from an old wound. There is a pleasure in picking at that.”

When we look back on how things began, how they formed, we are also engaging with the pain of an ending. The show has garnered 15 Emmys, 4 Golden Globes, and global, critical acclaim. With the fanfare and overwhelming commemorations, it’s not going quietly. As someone who does not have an AMC subscription, I have been struggling in writing this article. Spoilers, reviews, and conspiracy theories are everywhere. Here’s the trailer for the series finale, which will be aired on Sunday, May 17. I’ve heard (I have not watched it) that it is drenched with nostalgia:

I visited the show on a busy Saturday afternoon. I gleaned from a cursory glance at the line curling around the entrance of the Mad Men show that the majority of people waiting in line were under forty. The line undulated, in what was for me a moment of grand visual irony, into the antique/old cameras section. The couple standing behind me were wearing very mod clothes; one woman was wearing a beehive and a Joan-esque green dress. Mad Men catalyzed the creation of nostalgia for an entire segment of the audience for whom this era is not even a distant memory. I thought it was false longing. Carl, in his years of museum curation, posited that this was not false—“that in a sense, they have lived through them, but through the culture of their own time.” His grandmother had a kitchen very much like Don and Betty’s (the set of which is on display); his grandmother used to serve him ice milk in that kitchen, so Carl inhabited that time himself.

“A whole new generation will remember living through the 60s because they saw it on Mad Men,” he said. “Culture is constantly being recycled, so what we often experience is…uh-oh, let’s just leave it the rest to Baudrillard & company.” Baudrillard, a French post-structuralist whose interests lay in how technological processes affect social change, would have been very interested in this retrospective on a retrospective show. Shows like Mad Men and spaces like the MoMI have enabled us to live through many eras. That, at least, will never end. -ANK

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Reblogged from: Wesconnect News. (Go to the original post…)

At Reunion & Commencement 2014, Paul Hadzima ’59 MAT’61 told the story of the Judd Hall Museum to Wesleyan Storytelling Project producers Mia Lobel ’97 and Tess Altman ’17.

Listen to the story of the lost Judd Hall Museum and watch the slideshow supplied by Wesleyan’s Special Collections & Archives. Watch on Wesleyan Videos page

[Image of Judd Hall Museum, c/o SC&A]The museum displayed sacred Native American objects alongside other artifacts that included dinosaur tracks, a stuffed bison and an Egyptian mummy. In its early years it was managed by Wesleyan graduate, George Brown Goode, Class of 1870, who had worked in marine science at Harvard under the famous Louis Agassiz. Goode sent teams of fossil hunters out West to dig up dinosaur bones, where they also gathered Indian artifacts for his museum. During the 1930s, the Judd Hall natural history museum welcomed hundreds of Middletown school children on field trips. The museum closed in 1957. (from the Hartford Courant)

Some trivia:

When Judd Hall, now home to the Psychology Department, was built in 1870, it was one of the first buildings in America solely dedicate to scientific study.

George Brown Goode, who managed the museum in the building named after Orange Judd, Class of 1847, married Judd’s daughter Sarah Ford in 1877. (from Wikipedia)

Dinosaur tracks, minerals and fossils can be seen on display in the lobby of Exley Science Center and in the Joe Webb Peoples Museum, maintained by the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department. (from Wesleyan)

Is is the museum collection really lost?

We have records that indicate that some of the artifacts of Judd Hall Museum went to the Middletown schools, the Smithsonian, Yale, and other places; some items considered poor-quality was discarded; and the remainder went into storage at Wesleyan. Of the items that were stored at Wesleyan, some went to the Peoples museum and others, including the monumental megatherium fossil, cannot be presently accounted for and are lost. It is uncertain how you would track down the materials that went to other places today, so in that sense, maybe you could say that they are “lost,” too. You can browse the Wesleyan Museum Records.

The Wesleyan Argus covered the history of Judd Hall Museum at Wesleyan in a 2012 article:

In the 1880s, extensive interest and use of the museum spurred an inclusion of human ethnological collections and an expansion to the second floor of Judd.

However, at the turn of the 20th century, interest in the museum waned. As the world of scientific education advanced, the study of artifacts in educational methodology took a secondary role to live specimen lab work. Consequently, the second floor of Judd was repurposed for laboratory space and the museum’s funding was cut. The institution remained open, but it became a site primarily for visitors rather than one for scholarly investigation.

Read more…

The Wesleyan Storytelling Project is produced by senior producer Mia Lobel ’97 and student producer Tess Altman ’17.

Listen to the clip on SoundCloud…

Share this link: wesconnect.wesleyan.edu/storytelling-paul-hadzima

A special thanks to Leith Johnson, University Archivist, and the Wesleyan Special Collections & Archives for their archival images and help with research.

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Reblogged from: ENGAGE - Wesleyan University. (Go to the original post…)

Reunion & Commencement begins on Thursday, May 21, and the weekend is well-stocked with events related to civic engagement, social impact, and the goings-on of the Allbritton Center. Students, alumni, parents, and everyone else in the Wesleyan family are welcome to attend! Come learn about all the ways that students and grads are working for change on campus and in communities around the world.

FRIDAY, MAY 22

WESEMINAR – Skills for the New Economy
What skills and aptitudes will Wesleyan graduates need to enter the emerging very demanding economy, dominated by the Internet and rapid change?  In this seminar a panel of Wesleyan faculty, staff, and alumni working in the new economy will offer views on what success will require.
1:00 – 2:00 PM in 41 Wyllys, Room 112

WESEMINAR – Social Entrepreneurship and Civic Engagement at Wesleyan
Social impact has always been in the DNA of Wesleyan. This year, we were recognized by Princeton Review as the #1 “Best School for Making an Impact.” During this panel discussion, we’ll hear from student entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, activists, and community leaders who are using their interdisciplinary liberal arts education to tackle the pressing problems of the world–starting right here on campus.
2:30 – 3:30 PM in Allbritton 311

The student panel for this WESEMINAR includes:
Nina Gerona ’15, Co-coordinator of the Wesleyan Local Foods Co-op
Olayinka Lawal ’15, Co-founder & Business Strategist at JooMah and President of Wesleyan’s African Students Association
Brent Packer ’15, Founder of Wishing Wells and Potlux
Rachel Verner ’15, Founder of Assk Apparel & Education and Wesleyan Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) Intern
Julia Vermeulen ’15, Co-Director of The Wesleyan Doula Project and Co-founder of Kindergarten Kickstart
Kehan Zhou ’15, Co-founder of TechBucks

Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship (PCSE) Open House
Join staff and students from the Patricelli Center and members of Wesleyan Alumni in Philanthropy and Public Service (WAPPS) for an open house and networking reception. To learn more about the PCSE or to volunteer, visit wesleyan.edu/patricelli
3:30 – 5:30 PM on the Ground Floor of the Allbritton Center

Allbritton Center Open House
The Allbritton Center is the hub for civic engagement at Wesleyan. We study public life, actively partner with the local and regional community, and teach practical skills for social impact. Join the faculty, staff, and students of the engagement centers within Allbritton for an open house to learn about how we are serving the public good in and out of the classroom, on and off campus.
3:30 – 5:30 PM on the First Floor of the Allbritton Center

WESU Happy Hour
Come enjoy an early evening happy hour with WESU alumni, current staff members, student DJs, and community volunteers. Refreshments and good conversation will be provided.
4:00 – 6:00 PM in Woodhead Lounge (1st Floor in the Exley Science Center)

SATURDAY, MAY 23

WESU 88.1 FM Open House
Parents, families, alumni, and students are all invited to attend an Open House at Wesleyan University’s radio station, WESU. Stop in to check out the studios, browse the expansive and eclectic music libraries, and meet current Board members and DJs.
2:00 – 5:00 PM at WESU (2nd Floor of 45 Broad Street, above Broad Street Books)

WESEMINAR – Fail Early, Succeed Often: Why One Third of Entrepreneurs are Dyslexic and What This Reveals About Innovation
One third of successful entrepreneurs are dyslexic, including Charles Schwab, Richard Branson, Barbara Cochran and Magic Johnson.  This talk will help explain why dyslexic individuals thrive in innovative businesses and what this teaches us about break through companies.  Anyone who wants to better understand resiliency, dyslexia or entrepreneurship should attend.
3:00 – 4:00 PM in the CFA Hall

Reblogged from: Special Collections & Archives at Wesleyan University. (Go to the original post…)

spatial_history_of_wesleyan_university

A Spatial History of Wesleyan University combines geographical and quantitative analysis with archival and oral history research to interpret the past in place. It is the product of the Spring 2015 course in Digital History at Wesleyan taught by Visiting Assistant Professor of History Amrys O. Williams, part of the university’s Digital and Computational Knowledge Initiative.

The student researchers made extensive use of resources found in SC&A, including the Vertical Files Collection, annual reports, college catalogs and bulletins, photographs, maps, and more. Congratulations on a job well done! SC&A is eager to support or collaborate on a wide variety of projects, including those involving digital history and humanities.

From the Spatial History website:

A Spatial History of Wesleyan University combines geographical and quantitative analysis with archival and oral history research to interpret the past in place. By studying the history of Wesleyan’s campus landscape and buildings alongside the university’s enrollment, tuition, and student body, we can see the connections between the cultural life of the university and its physical environment.

“The Story” provides an overview of Wesleyan’s history, highlighting the most important factors that have influenced the campus’s configuration over time

The “Interactive Map” allows you to explore Wesleyan’s history spatially through a dynamic interface.

“By the Numbers” traces historical data about Wesleyan’s enrollment, tuition, endowment, and financial aid to reveal the kinds of opportunities and constraints that shaped the campus over time.

The “Oral History” section illuminates Wesleyan’s past through the voices of individuals.

The class brought together 18 students from across campus with varied skills and backgrounds who shared an interest in historical communication and making things. Through readings, conversations, and hands-on work, we learned about the prospects and perils of doing historical work in the digital age, and pooled our knowledge and resources to come up with our own contribution to history and the digital humanities.

The central assignment of the course was this collaborative project of our own devising. Drawing on our pool of individual abilities and common interests, and considering the skills we wanted to acquire and refine, we conceived, designed, built, publicized, and launched this site. Working together in teams and as a group both in and out of class, we taught and learned from one another, working together (at times quite intensively) to make the project a success.

 

 

Reblogged from: ENGAGE - Wesleyan University. (Go to the original post…)

In collaboration with HOT Schools, the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center will be hosting a potluck workshop about the use improvisation in the classroom setting on Thursday, May 14 from 6:15 to 8:15 PM. All teaching artists and interested college students are welcome to join this fun filled night at no cost. All we ask for in return is that if you bring your favorite dish to share with the group. This workshop will be led by HOT Schools very own Teaching Artist Jackie Coleman. 

Jackie Coleman is Senior Executive Advisor for the Arts for Hartford Public Schools. As such she works toward bringing dance, music, theatre and visual art to the students of Hartford in as many ways as possible.

Prior to Hartford Schools, Jackie left Hartford Stage as Director of Education. During her 6 years there she expanded the reach of Connections – a theatre literacy program, created Innovations –a science/theatre residency, formed the Hartford Stage Young Company, designed a multitude of interdistrict and after school programs, increased professional development opportunities and started their adult acting series.  

Jackie is a Master Teaching Artist on the roster for the Connecticut Office of the Arts. She has 15 years of acting credits in and around New York City and Connecticut. She holds an MFA from the University of South Carolina and a BFA from the University of Connecticut.

The schedule will be as follows:

6:15 – 6:45 — Dinner
6:45 – 7:30 — Circle share
7:30 – 8:15 —  Improv workshop with Jackie

Reblogged from: ENGAGE - Wesleyan University. (Go to the original post…)

Zoe Toulouse ’16 and Adriana Brau-Diaz ’16 were selected to receive an Enrichment Grant from the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship. With this grant, they attended a weekend-long birth doula training, which will allow them to work as doulas this summer and explore careers in women’s reproductive health down the road. You can read Zoe and Adriana’s reflection below, read past grantee reflections here, and visit the PCSE website to learn more about all of our grant programs.

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On the weekend of March 6-8, we completed an introductory birth doula training with Rina Crane in New York City. It was an extremely enlightening experience in which we learned all about the ins and outs of childbirth and being a supportive presence for an expecting and laboring mother. Specifically, we were taught to be active listeners, how to help a woman design a birth plan (for hospital and home births), physical comfort techniques, and how to serve as a mediator between the woman, her partner, family, and medical professionals. The training consisted of a number of group activities and we bonded with other workshop participants. This will be beneficial in the future as we work as doulas and need to create a network in that world.

Additionally, the workshop taught us how to approach the business aspect of the doula profession. We learned about offering birth doula services pro bono initially, and later how to truly build a career out of it. Our trainer Rina Crane has been in the field for over 10 years and was able to provide us with a lot of resources in the New York City area based on the connections she has formed over the years. The workshop reaffirmed our passion for childbirth, babies, and a woman’s wellbeing during this life-changing event.

We plan to carry out what we learned in the workshop this coming summer and further in the future. We strongly believe every expecting mother deserves a doula. This summer, Adriana will be working as a birth doula at Harlem Hospital in New York City, and Zoe will be working as the Women Children Infants intern at Mary’s Center in Washington, DC.

Reblogged from: ENGAGE - Wesleyan University. (Go to the original post…)

erinboggs

Erin Boggs ’93, Executive Director of Open Communities Alliance

Open Communities Alliance is a Connecticut non-profit run by Erin Boggs ’93 that promotes access to opportunity for all people through education, organizing, advocacy, research, and partnerships. The Alliance works to build an urban-suburban interracial coalition to support policies that lead to housing choice.  

On Thursday, May 21, OCA and the Partnership for Strong Communities will host a conversation on mobility counseling, an innovative service that helps ensure that low-income families have a real choice when deciding where to live.

We know that where a family lives can dictate success in life – especially for children. This program will explore strategies to ensure that families opting to stay in areas that are under-resourced can increase their chances for success, but will also focus on mobility counseling as a critical means of connecting families who have been isolated from opportunity to areas that provide thriving schools, safe streets, and other community benefits.

If you are interested in attending and you’d like a ride from campus, contact Makaela Kingsley by May 20. 

Event details:

Thursday, May 21st at 9:00 
(coffee, pastry & conversation @ 8:30) 
at the Lyceum, 227 Lawrence Street, Hartford, CT 06106
Register Now! Attendance is free.

For more on mobility counseling, visit Open Community Alliance’s website.
For more details on this event, see the event flyer.

Reblogged from: ENGAGE - Wesleyan University. (Go to the original post…)

Kehan Zhou ’15 was selected to receive an Enrichment Grant from the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship to subsidize his trip to Berlin to attend a Bitcoin conference. You can read Kehan’s reflection below, read past grantee reflections here, and visit the PCSE website to learn more about all of our grant programs.

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Inside Bitcoin Berlin Reflection: Kehan Zhou ’15 

bitcoinWith the support from the Student Enrichment Grant and the CSS department, I attended one of the biggest Bitcoin conferences in the World in Berlin. This conference brought together economists, lawyers, and entrepreneurs who work on Bitcoin enterprises. The result was many stimulating talks on the most advanced Bitcoin technology. 

Bitcoin is a digital currency that uses blockchain technology to achieve anonymity and security. It is the first digital currency that solved the problem of double spending where the same currency is spent twice. Compared to traditional currency, Bitcoin offers very fast payment that costs only a fraction of the traditional transaction fee. In addition, Bitcoin is a “smart money” which means that it is programmable like computer code. This allows it to accomplish many complicated payment schemes that traditional currency cannot achieve.

The conference discussed many interesting ideas on Bitcoin around the world. For example, one company is working on bringing space Bitcoin banking to Africa by allowing people to bank through satellite signals. Bitcoin technology can also support prediction market where any prediction can be bought and sold like a securities. The prediction could be the weather for tomorrow or the result of presidential elections. I truly believe that Bitcoin and blockchain technology are the future of money. While we are still in the trial and error phase, Bitcoin’s technology could revolutionize the way we use money and many other fields.

I want to thank the PCSE Enrichment Grant for supporting my trip and I would like to chat with anyone who is interested in cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin and share my experience with more people.

Reblogged from: ENGAGE - Wesleyan University. (Go to the original post…)

A Letter to Wesleyan Social Entrepreneurs and ENGAGE Readers:

Kevin Egolf '05

Kevin Egolf ’05 is Founder and Manager of Local Farms Fund, which provides land security and a path to ownership for farmers through long-term lease-to-own arrangements. He says “Wesleyan teaches its students how to think and learn. Go out and be a sponge, soaking up as much knowledge as possible. Everything you absorb will help you down the road when you are ready to step out and chart your own path.”

I recently attended an event on campus where I was able to share my career experiences with a group of graduating and rising seniors. As I listened to the other panelists and reflected on my own past, I realized, among many things, that a career—meaning the job or position in a field that one will do for the rest of his or her life—takes time to find and develop. My story, while not unique and interestingly having common threads with all the panelists from the career event, demonstrates that gaining skills and seeking experiences while continuing to learn will ultimately lead to a successful career covering all domains, including physical, emotional and financial. This is extremely important for all the social entrepreneurs and civic leaders that want to change the world right now. Some graduates may have everything one needs to immediately start a successfully career, but many more still need further expertise, which can only be gained through real-life practice. My advice is simple: have and hold those dreams and passions, but do not forget that following the beaten path for a while will likely increase the opportunities for one to make a difference over the course of a lifetime. This is NOT financial security now, philanthropy later. This is learn, experience now until ready to apply, change later.

While my career is still young and will likely have many more twists and turns, I have found an industry that I want to be in for the long haul. I work in the impact investing field, a rapidly growing financial sector that deploys investment capital for positive social returns alongside financial gains. I started the Local Farms Fund, a farmland impact investment fund focused on supporting early stage sustainable farmers. I consider myself a social entrepreneur, not because I am creating a new product that is going to save the world, but because I am breaking traditional investment barriers and altering an industry that has created both amazing wealth and amazing problems. Local Farms Fund provides land security and a path to ownership for farmers through long-term lease-to-own arrangements. For those not familiar with the issues facing farmers, the number one challenge for young farmers is access to land. Local Farms Fund is using patient investment capital to address this huge challenge. Investors receive modest returns; farmers receive land tenure.

When I left Wesleyan in May 2005, I did not jump into impact investing nor did the concept really exist at that time. In fact, many current and recent graduates will likely have careers in fields that do not exist right now.  My first few jobs were very traditional finance positions. I spent seven years (with one 11 month break to travel—I did go to Wesleyan after all!) in the investment banking and private equity world before I found the perfect career for me, managing impact investments. The seven years I spent on the “traditional path” taught me many valuable skills. Accounting, business valuation, negotiating, interpreting legal documents and business management just to name a few. These skills blend perfectly with the values Wesleyan instills into the student body for a career in impact investing. Without the confluence of both my work background and my Wesleyan education, I would not have been able to launch and manage Local Farms Fund.

I encourage all the students and recent graduates, especially those with strong entrepreneurial spirits, to think boldly and dream big. Pursue goals that seem unattainable and be willing to fail. Failure happens to everybody, but remember that you may not have all the skills and experiences you need to achieve your aspirations right now. Wesleyan teaches its students how to think and learn. Go out and be a sponge, soaking up as much knowledge as possible. Everything you absorb will help you down the road when you are ready to step out and chart your own path.

Sincerely,

Kevin Egolf
Manager, Local Farms Fund
LFF@localfarmsfund.com
www.localfarmsfund.com

Reblogged from: Wesconnect News. (Go to the original post…)

By Caroline MacNeille ’16

[Sasha Martin '02]Over the course of 195 weeks, Sasha Martin ’02 “set out to cook—and eat—a meal from every country in the world,” in what become Life from Scratch, a memoir of food, family and forgiveness. The Kirkus Review, commended the book, calling it “poignant, heartwarming and generously filled with delicious recipes.” Initially conceived as “the adventures and misadventures of cooking the world,” her book evolved into her own origin story. Sasha writes in the prologue:

 

“This was not the book I meant to write. This was supposed to be a spirited book about the four years I spent cooking my way around the world from my tiny kitchen in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The pages were going to be filled with sweet stories about overcoming pickiness and teaching my husband and daughter to love the world cuisine I featured on my blog, Global Table Adventure. It was going to be an easy book to write, one that wouldn’t make me cry or make my relatives so nervous that I’d be obliged to employ pseudonyms. But, try as I might, I couldn’t stay within the parameters of that narrative. The easy truth is as much a lie as any. What drove me to obsessively cook a meal from each of the world’s 195 countries cannot be explained by a simple passion for cooking alone.”

 

Sasha calls her journey cooking the world a “walking meditation,” something that helped her navigate new motherhood, satisfy wanderlust and make peace with her past. What began as a way to share the world’s cuisine with her young daughter and picky husband ended up allowing her find her own place in the world.

We talked with Sasha about her memoir, and she explained how her blog evolved. In the early stages of her journey, Sasha found recipes from friends and in the library. As her blog gained a larger readership, Sasha was able to connect with people from around the world. She learned the favorite recipes of natives and featured them on Global Table Adventure. The blog helped bring the world to Sasha’s table, but it also helped connect Sasha with people of the world.

After four years, when Sasha was three-quarters through cooking a dish from every country, she signed a book deal with National Geographic. As with the blog, the book evolved considerably in the creative process. The memoir focuses on the personal journey that lead her to create Global Table Adventure just as much as it focuses on her adventures cooking the world.

Sasha’s book Life from Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness is available on Amazon.

Read more…

Image: c/o Global Table Adventure

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