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Swarthmore in the NewsOctober 14, 2011

The Bennington Banner (VT)

For local ceramist and his students, it's all in the process

By K.D. Norris

October 12, 2011

Pownal -- There are some people who might view the potter Ray Bub as a perfectionist, but he may be more properly called a precisionist.

...But it is with his pottery that his desire for precision -- not perfection -- is most evident, whether it is the beautifully simple functional pottery he and his wife, Susan, produce at Oak Bluffs Pottery or with the amazingly imaginative reassembled ring teapots through which he is making an international name for himself.

...Bub does not have an art degree. He went to college as an engineer, but when he graduated Swarthmore College he had a degree in sociology and anthropology -- and his first experience in a pottery studio.

What he does have is several apprenticeships with pottery masters -- in Colorado; Kent, England, and New Jersey -- and more than 40 years working with the clay.

In college "I studied the history of man, the history of religion, and all art is just an expression of people's ideas all over the world," he said. "I eventually came to art, to ceramics. I realized it combines technical aspects with artistic, expressive aspects. (At his studio) we built our kilns, we did our plumbing, we mix the clay, we mix our glazes. We analyze the firings and change things. It (pottery) is a technical art medium."

...But with this teapot, as with much of his work, his ideas change as the work progresses. In the case of the teapot, his original design would not work, it would not stand without support as designed, so he had to adjust -- his work was not planned perfection, but adapted with technical precision as fate, and the artistic muse, dictated.

"When your make an art object, you can screw it up every moment, but you can also make it better every moment," he said. "So you are engaged every moment in an effort to create art every step of the way."

Teeming with Microbes (blog)

By Virginia A. Smith

October 12, 2011

That's how Nicole Selby, a staff gardener and Swarthmore alum, describes the soil underneath the five-acre experimental organic lawn at the college. It's part of the beautiful, rolling lawn in front of Parrish Hall, where the administration offices are housed.

Nicole is an urban farmer and food activist who studied agriculture at the U. of Maryland and sociology and education at Swarthmore. She's now tending the lawn and other gardens on the grounds team at Swarthmore, which is famous for its Scott Arboretum.

My visit yesterday was my first in awhile. I was struck, as I am every time, at the obvious care and affection that goes into everything here - from the containers in front of the arboretum offices to the labels identifying plants and trees.

Nicole's organic experiment has been going for a year now. She's been using compost, compost tea, lawn aeration and overseeding of cool weather grasses on her five-acre patch, which is used as a practice field by the Ultimate Frisbee team and gets heavy foot traffic from students, whether they're lounging around, walking across, or making a beeline for the dining hall.

Nicole reports that at a minimum, her lawn is no worse than the conventionally maintained lawns. At best, the soil under hers is, as she puts it, "teeming with microbes." I can attest to that. She showed me samples under a microscope!


Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

'Bridge 11' Spans the Visions of 3 Women Artists in 3 Media

By Mary Thomas, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

October 12, 2011

There are many reasons to visit "Bridge 11" at the Society for Contemporary Craft, Strip District:

...What appeals to me most is that each artist draws upon the notion of memory, although from vastly different perspectives.

Anne Drew Potter's ceramic installation "The Captain's Congress" is stark and moving. Fifteen clay figures seated in a circle have the bodies of toddlers, if contorted and distorted, and belligerent facial expressions that indicate they're all yelling at once. Each wears a perkily tilted sailor-style paper hat. Outside the circle and facing away, a 16th figure is more normally proportioned and somber faced. Her paper hat has fallen to the floor behind her.

...The artist grew up in Berkeley, Calif., in a culture of activist social awareness. After completing an undergraduate degree at Swarthmore College, she earned master's degrees in fine art from the New York Academy of Art and from Indiana University, Bloomington. She has gained considerable recognition as a ceramist, having been awarded a fellowship to work at the prestigious Archie Bray Foundation, Helena, Mont., and an Emerging Artist award in 2009 from the National Council on Education in the Ceramic Arts. She is working on a yearlong project at the Zentrum Fur Keramik in Berlin, Germany, as recipient of a German Chancellor Fellowship.



The Philadelphia Inquirer

Environmental protests on the rise

By Sandy Bauers; Inquirer Staff Writer

October 11, 2011

The morning of Aug. 24, Judy Wicks put her driver's license and $100 cash in her pocket. She wore no jewelry.

Now, she was ready to be arrested. So many would join her that she needed to be unencumbered, so she wouldn't hold up the processing line. Wicks, former owner of the White Dog Cafe in Philadelphia, and 1,251 others - including a dozen or more from this area - were arrested during a two-week action in front of the White House to protest the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada's tar sands to the Gulf of Mexico.

Organizers termed it "the largest environmental civil disobedience in decades."

Experts predict more such protests. They say the nation is entering an era of environmental civil disobedience rivaling that of the 1970s.

...For over a year, the Philadelphia group Earth Quaker Action Team has demonstrated at PNC Bank branches to oppose its funding of mountaintop removal coal mining.

Last month, about 25 members held a mock trial in the lobby of PNC's regional headquarters on Market Street, charging it with "impersonating a green bank."

"I would expect it to continue and accelerate," said George Lakey, visiting professor of peace and conflict studies at Swarthmore College, which recently unveiled a database of global nonviolent action. It has information on about 430 cases so far.

He and others were arrested in an Earth Quaker action last year in Washington, where protesters built a dirt "mountain" in a PNC branch and sang with a gospel choir.

...Nonviolent civil disobedience is as old as Thoreau. It played a crucial role in the civil rights movement, the labor movement, and the women's suffrage movement.

For more than 35 years, peace activists have regularly protested against weapons maker Lockheed Martin and its predecessors in King of Prussia. Often, they are carted away in police vans. On Thursday they engaged in a "stand-up" - a vigil - to support the Occupy Philadelphia event and one in Washington.

Generally, those involved in the environmental movement say that the activism of the 1970s was followed by a tamer period in which environmental groups focused on scientific studies, lobbying, public education, political action, and lawsuits.

But now - as in the 1970s - optimism followed by frustration may be fueling more dramatic action.

As Swarthmore's Lakey sees it, environmental groups were stirred by the election of Barack Obama, who professed a belief in science. Since they felt the evidence on climate change was clear, surely he would act.

But the climate-change conference in Copenhagen was a bust. Other initiatives failed, including a proposal for tighter ozone standards, which the White House recently decided to withdraw.

"That's when people do civil disobedience, when conventional avenues are blocked," Lakey said.

He also thinks protesters may be getting inspiration from the citizen action in Tunisia and Egypt. "You have a lot of people saying, 'OK, the political process is choked up,' and there are people in other countries showing what you do when the political process is choked up."...


The Huffington Post

The 12 Colleges With The Happiest Freshmen

October 11, 2011

Being a freshman is hard, so it's good to attend a school that makes its youngest members fell happy and fulfilled.

The Center for College Affordability and Productivity recently rated the colleges with the highest freshman retention rate. Yale University topped the list with Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania coming in second.


Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (AK)

Teacher gender affects learning

Judy Kleinfeld Fairbanks Daily News Miner

October 6, 2011

...Boys, and especially minority boys, are falling behind in school. The differences in achievement begin in kindergarten, where more boys than girls are expelled. By the time they are 13, the gender gap in achievement is large, particularly in reading. More girls go to college and graduate.

"Girls rule in school," is the catchy phrase with plenty of truth behind it.

Getting more male teachers is a common prescription for raising the achievement of boys.

Nationwide, just 3 percent of preschool and kindergarten teachers are male and 18 percent of elementary and middle school teachers. Not until high school does the number of male and female teachers come close to even - 43 percent of high school teachers are men.

Thomas Dee, an economist at Swarthmore College, has found evidence that male teachers matter ("Teachers and the Gender Gaps in Student Achievement," The Journal of Human Resources, 2007).

Dee studied a nationally representative group of 25,000 eighth-grade students, girls and boys, who had both male and female teachers. The sex of the teacher made a lot of difference to how much students learned and what they thought about school.

Assignment to a female teacher in history, English and social studies, he found, significantly depresses the achievement of boys. But female teachers significantly raise the achievement of girls by just about the same amount.

When assigned to a female teacher, boys are significantly more likely to report that they do not look forward to a particular subject. Female teachers also see boys as significantly more disruptive.

This is just one study. We need many more before we conclude male teachers are better for boys. The study also is disturbing because it implies more male teachers could undermine achievement for girls.

Dee himself is cautious in arguing for more male teachers. When Peg Tyre wrote her bestseller, The Trouble With Boys, she asked him point-blank whether he would prefer a male teacher for his own first-grade son.

"I don't believe the teacher's gender is the most important thing," he replied. He would just want to make sure his son's teacher knew how to deal with boys and was sensitive to their needs.

Research by Laura Sokal, a leading scholar in boys' reading, backs up Dee's conclusion. In her study, she had males and females read to second-grade boys from either standard school textbooks or textbooks that boys are known to like - books with plenty of action, humor and male heros. ...




The Delaware County Daily Times (PA)

Delco Athletes Hall of Fame to honor local sports greats

By Matt Chandik

October 13, 2011

The Delaware County Athletes Hall of Fame will enshrine its October 2011 class Thursday, Oct. 20 at the Concordville Inn.

Below are brief biographies of this year's inductees:

...Dave Johnson, Meet Director of the Penn Relays Carnival, is a graduate of Swarthmore High and Swarthmore College. He is the founder, editor and publisher of Philadelphia Track and was statistical editor for Track and Field News and Penn Relays historian. He's been the director and consultant for entry confirmations for the Olympic Trials and U.S. World Championships. He covered the 1984, 1992 and 2000 Olympics. He is a member of the Pennsylvania State High School Track & Field Hall of Fame and the Swarthmore/Nether Providence/Strath Haven High Schools Wall of Honors.