Posts in: Around Campus
By Montana Bass ’18
The next time you pick up a copy of CC’s alumni magazine, the Bulletin, realize that not only are you learning about the awesome lives of CC graduates, you’re also holding a publication that is truly environmentally responsible.
The Bulletin has a long history of being green. Sappi Opus, the paper used for printing, is made from 30 percent post-consumer recycled fiber. It is certified by both the Forestry Stewardship Council and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, which means it is approved by two of the most influential forest management and sustainability foundations. It’s also green-e certified, meaning that renewable energy is used in the paper production.
How could it get any greener? Enter PrintReLeaf. Tracking the amount of paper that clients order and consume, PrintReLeaf equates that data to the amount of trees used, and then plants the same amount of trees in areas where forests have been degraded or depleted. Felix Sanchez, CC’s creative director, says a representative from Triangle Printing in Denver where the Bulletin is printed, introduced him to PrintReLeaf.
“It was fairly easy to join the PrintReleaf program,” says Sanchez. “We have been a part of PrintReleaf for the past two issues of the Bulletin. An online account and a customized dashboard show how much paper we have used for each issue and how many trees have been planted based on our consumption. It’s a fun, interactive, and transparent way to understand our impact, not only in paper usage, but in global sustainability efforts, too.”
This system makes responsible paper usage and reforestation efforts highly tangible. The PrintReLeaf certificates and dashboards actually allow CC to follow the growth of trees planted in honor of paper used for the Bulletin.
“Right now, we are helping to replant trees in Brazil through the We Forest project, which is working to combat the progressive loss of biodiversity in the Upper Paraná Atlantic Rainforest Ecoregion. This helps contribute towards the restoration of some of the best and most extensive examples of the Atlantic Forest in Brazil,” explains Sanchez. “PrintReLeaf’s goal is to replant 700,000 to 1 million trees every year. It makes me feel good to know that we are contributing to this honorable endeavor.” From paper consumption of the past two editions of the Bulletin, CC has helped We Forest replant 431 trees.
CC’s partnership with PrintReLeaf doesn’t have to be limited to the Bulletin. Sanchez promises efforts are being made to work with other print vendors to enroll in PrintReleaf to monitor paper consumption for most printed publications in the Office of Communications.
Sanchez encourages students interested in seeing their everyday paper usage equated to reforestation efforts to push for PrintReleaf’s expansion. He adds, “students have a strong voice in the college’s sustainable efforts — in fact, most of the sustainable efforts at the college would not exist if it were not for the demands or activism of students.”
By Montana Bass ’18
“Shakespeare was an extraordinary genius and there’s no better way to begin to discover [Shakespeare], than by actually speaking him,” says Andrew Manley, associate professor of theatre. Students, faculty, and staff will have the opportunity to do just that this Friday from 6-9 p.m. in Cornerstone Main Space. Manley says he created CC’s first “Sonnet-A-Thon” in the spirit of community celebration, with participants reciting all of Shakespeare’s sonnets in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.
The sonnets are short, 14 lines each, so are accessible for those inexperienced in theatre and literature. “I think they’re cool,” says Abigayle Cosinuke ’16, who will be performing. “They’re very concise, but cover such a range of feelings. Everyone knows Shakespeare but not that many people have read a lot of the sonnets and also don’t realize how relevant and accessible they are.”
With 154 to choose from, it’s not hard to find one with a personal ring to it. Tinka Avramova ’16 connected with “Sonnet 47,” which she explains is about longing and the way that feelings of love are intensified when looking at one’s loved one. “I think I was struggling with not being with the person I love and wanting to see them,” she explains.
Cosinuke chose “Sonnet 142” for its uniqueness. “It’s the only sonnet written in octets,” she says. “It’s also about hate, which is unusual and fun because it’s so dramatic. They think it’s about his wife, Anne Hathaway. I actually already have it memorized because I recited it in high school when I went on a theatre trip and we visited Anne Hathaway’s house.”
The reciting of all of these works will give audience members and performers a chance to connect personally with one of the greatest literary geniuses of all time. Manley adds, “This is a reminder that we are still performing Shakespeare after all this time. His poems are still relevant – they speak to us across 400 years. That’s amazing!” And, according to Cosinuke, “Shakespeare is bae,” so don’t miss out.
By Monica Black ’19
Gretchen Hammer ’94, currently Colorado’s Medicaid director, has been spearheading change for a healthier Colorado via the nonprofit sector for decades.
The board of the Public Interest Fellowship Program (PIFP) recently selected Hammer as the recipient of the 2016 Livesay Award for Social Change. The award is given to alumni who have contributed significantly to the nonprofit sector in their dedication to social change and mentorship.
“Colorado College graduates do so many amazing things in the world,” says Hammer upon receiving notice of the award. “I am humbled to be considered a contributing member of this community.”
Hammer, upon graduating with a master’s in public health from the University of Washington, worked as a consultant for nonprofit and other public-serving organizations for 10 years, where she first got acquainted with the world of public interest. During this time, she also worked on a number of boards for nonprofits. Then she took on the role of director for the Colorado Coalition for the Medically Underserved, fulfilling a goal to direct a nonprofit that she says was inspired during her time at CC.
Lani Hinkle ’83, director of PIFP, says Hammer’s strong advocacy role was one reason she was selected as recipient of the award. “Her work has included a strong commitment to mobilizing coalitions, a vital role as a thought leader and advocate for health equity, and a passion for mentoring younger members of the nonprofit sector,” says Hinkle.
Hammer has now moved into the realm of state government with her work in Colorado Medicaid. She remains focused nonetheless on programs and social services that will help the most vulnerable members of the state. “People with injuries who can’t access needed medical services can’t work, can’t attend school, and can’t take care of their families,” says Hammer. “These are challenges we can solve if we are willing to collaborate across all sectors of society and keep the needs of those we serve at the center of what we do.” Hammer will be honored at the annual PIFP dinner in May.
By Montana Bass ’18
Kathryn Mohrman Theatre will be completely packed with students Wednesday evening, predicts Kristi Erdal, psychology professor, as they anxious await Kay Redfield Jamison’s delivery of the annual Sabine Distinguished Lecture in Psychology.
Jamison is the author of the bestselling memoir “An Unquiet Mind,” which details her personal struggle with bipolar disorder. She is also Dalio Family Professor in Mood Disorders, Professor of Psychiatry at John Hopkins School of Medicine, and a “Hero of Medicine” according to TIME magazine, Her lecture Wednesday, March 30, at 7 p.m., “Touched With Fire: Mood Disorders, The Arts, and Creativity,” should be especially interesting to CC’s creatively charged campus.
Mood disorders, which Jamison describes as “devastating illness with high suicide rates,” are particularly relevant to college students as onset typically occurs at college age. It is for this reason, Jamison says, that she made a commitment relatively early in her career to spend as much time as possible on college campuses and at medical schools talking to students. “When ‘An Unquiet Mind’ came out, I asked my publisher if I could gear my appearances more toward students,” she says, “I really enjoy talking to them. They tend to be very interested in subjects related to mood disorders and creativity.”
It was not until she began teaching at UCLA that Jamison herself was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. “Before I became ill, my interests ranged all over the place,” she says, “I studied animal behavior, pain, and a host of subjects before I turned my focus to mania.” Despite her disorder, Jamison’s passion led her to make incredible contributions to both science and literature.
“She was a professor at a time when not many women were accepted into the field of psychiatry and has done it all while struggling with a severe mental illness,” says Erdal. “For years, students have been talking to me about their interest in her research and her ability to communicate. Once I read her work, I could see why they were so moved by it. She doesn’t hold back or paint mental illness in any sort of broad strokes.”
Despite the fact that Jamison’s works have received a multitude of praise and provided profound hope and insight for many readers, she admits that English was never part of her academic studies. “I always read a lot. At some point, I just started writing more,” she explains. “It’s more about loving literature. Writing is just so intrinsically fascinating and rewarding.”
According to Erdal, in Jamison’s case, beautiful writing translates to beautiful speaking. “I know that she is a tremendous speaker, very straightforward,” Erdal says “I think she can peel away a lot in just an hour because of the legitimacy of what she’s saying. Students will gain a deeper understanding not just of the connection between mood disorders and creativity, but of the nature of these diseases.”
With the start of 2016, the Sexual Assault Response Program welcomed a new leader: Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC), Maria Mendez.
Mendez has been working since January 4, the beginning of Half-Block. “Aready, I have come to admire and be inspired by students on campus and the drive and passion they have in all facets of life,” says Mendez.
The SARC’s two main roles are support and prevention. She is a confidential resource that survivors, no matter the perceived severity of the violence, can use to work through all forms of dating and sexual violence in whatever capacity they choose.
Mendez’s previous work is mainly in prevention. Before coming to CC, she worked for a domestic violence and rape crisis center in her home state, California. There she worked in grant writing and eventually transitioned to working to develop programming intended to educate on and prevent sexual violence.
In recent years, Mendez says, media coverage of and White House focus on the high rate of sexual assault of women on campuses shifted the focus in sexual assault work to college communities. At the crisis center, Mendez became more involved with the local college. “It sparked interest for me to work on a college campus,” says Mendez. “When the opportunity here at CC came up, I jumped on it.”
CC in particular appealed to Mendez because of the history of the SARC program. “I loved how CC was talking about the issue and how the program had been around since 2004,” she says. “It was very encouraging for me.”
The program has seen transitions recently. When Tara Misra, SARC from 2013-2015, left the position, it created a temporary vacancy. Last semester Gail Murphy-Geiss, the Title IX coordinator, and Heather Horton, director of the Wellness Resource Center, acted as interim SARCs in the absence of a full-time employee.
The White House Sexual Misconduct Climate Survey that Murphy-Geiss conducted last April indicated that sexual assault is an ongoing problem at CC, in line with the national average on campuses, and that many survivors do not file complaints. Murphy-Geiss wrote in the conclusion of the study that “creative programs and ongoing dialogues must continue to be at the center of prevention and response efforts.”
In fact, reduction of sexual assault on campus is one of Mendez’s goals. “Moving forward, I hope that because of the prevention efforts from several offices around campus, including the SARC, and the community,” she says, “my support role will no longer have to be my primary function.”
By Montana Bass ’18
Retirement, investing, and budgeting were topics of discussion for about 40 students during the break between Blocks 5 and 6. The Bridge Scholars Program provided an alternative break program focused on financial literacy titled “Work Hard to Play Hard: A Unique Spin on Financial Literacy” consisting of an on-campus session and a daytrip to Denver.
Prentiss Dantzler, current Riley Scholar and sociology professor who helped lead the workshop, says it was a great success. “The most important point for students to take away is that actions performed today have an impact on their lives long-term. Whether it’s attending CC or swiping their credit card to pay for miscellaneous items, what we do today has an effect on our position tomorrow.”
Atiya Harvey ’18 attended the workshop and says she was pleasantly surprised by the amount she learned. “It was much more beneficial than I thought it was going to be,” she admits. “We discussed what financial literacy means to us and talked about our own financial goals.” Students traveled to Denver for a career-focused component of the workshop, visiting with professionals, including CC graduates, from a variety of companies to talk about career choice and opportunities.
Ultimately, Harvey says she came away with encouragement to pursue her dreams, and with practical information like how to choose a credit card and how to deal with debt. “I also talked with with an environmental education paraprof who talked to me about my options after CC, which I really appreciate,” she adds.
Dantzler says this type of programming addresses a disconnect between the financial burden often placed on students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, and their education regarding financial topics.
Emily Chan, associate dean of academic programs and strategic initiatives, says programming like this is critical to students’ success at CC and beyond. “These are not students of great means, so for them to be responsible for their own finances can be very stressful,” Chan says. “They suddenly have a lot more goals and a lot more financial independence. We know that we need to offer them tools and give them places to learn.
By Monica Black ’19
With chatter on campus about tough issues growing to a dull roar, a student-led forum for sharing stories allows individuals to share their experiences in a way that cuts through all the noise. At Story Slam, students and faculty tell their stories in front of a microphone in Sacred Grounds, where a crowd gathers to listen and support.
Students, faculty members, and staff audition stories, then the directors of Story Slam, Lena Engelstein ’16, Abby Portman ’16, and Madi Howard ’16, select their favorites and curate the show accordingly. Each block has a theme and the stories must fit, more or less, within that theme. Past examples include “Lost and Found” and “Borderline.”
“I’m attached to the stories being on the theme,” said Engelstein. “But we also look for a story with an arc.”
Portman added, “I look for what you would come away with after the story.” The stories, beyond these criteria, range hugely: some are funny, some are moving.
Engelstein, Portman, and Howard started Story Slam during Block 3 as the continuation of a prototype version last academic year. The Slam is modeled after the popular storytelling radio show “The Moth,” which is a recorded version of a live story slam.
Listeners love “The Moth” for its unique format, funny and moving stories, and celebrity appearances, but Story Slam emphasizes that this type of platform on a college campus has a particular role. “People that you see around campus, but who you don’t necessarily know, are telling really relatable stories,” said Engelstein. “Your image of that person changes [when you hear their story].”
One such example of breaking down those day-to-day barriers is when Kathy Giuffre, an associate professor and chair of the Sociology Department, told a love story at one Story Slam. “She was just as nervous as the students to tell her story,” said Portman. “She was hugging everyone who was about to tell a story too, and there was this nervous excitement. She’s just like another human who has a story. It’s not really about her position at CC, or how distinguished she is.”
The Slam can also air difficult topics, right out of the mouths of those who experience them. “We had two stories last slam about sexual assault,” said Portman. “There are lots of voices on campus talking about those issues through other media, but I thought it was really interesting that they could tell their own story.”
Story Slam happens the third Sunday of each block in Sacred Grounds, so for Block 6 you can catch Story Slam this Sunday, Feb. 28, at 8 p.m. The theme is “Stranger.” Auditions are the first week of every block, and Block 7’s theme is “Crush.”
Carolyn Finney, author of “Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors,” will bring her expertise to the Colorado College campus March 3. Finney is currently a geography faculty member at the University of Kentucky.
In a time when racial tension has exploded on college campuses across the country, including CC, and environmental discussion is at the forefront of political and social debate, Finney facilitates conversations regarding the intersectionality of these topics. “We have a long history of marginalizing people, and the environment is included in that,” Finney says. “It doesn’t mean that black or brown people haven’t had a relationship with the environment, but that relationship differs depending on their unique experience and history. We have developed a culture that pushes a universal way of looking at things, and that classic narrative isn’t a bad thing, but it’s not truly universal.”
It’s thanks to Drew Cavin, director of the Office of Field Study, that students will have the opportunity to discuss such topics with Finney. “I had a strong hunch that a large portion of the missing sense of inclusivity at CC was due to the ethos around nature, outdoor adventure, and the environment. I know from my research that these things do not resonate equally with all people for a variety of different reasons, but largely, I think, because of our country’s past and present of systemic racism, and the cultural paths that have emerged in different communities because of those systems,” says Cavin of his push to bring Finney to CC.
Both Cavin and Finney are excited about her visit to campus, and hope students will be, too. “As soon as I start talking about it I’m pacing back and forth,” she exclaims. “I love hearing about what people are experiencing.”
Find full event information at: “Black Faces, White Spaces.”
By Montana Bass ’18
Part of the Cornerstone Arts Initiative, a 13-year-old program that emphasizes collaborative, interdisciplinary arts teaching linked by current and developing technologies, Cornerstone Arts Week is a series of talks, screenings, performances, and exhibits that celebrates artistic collaboration around an annual theme. The theme for 2016 is “Where Is Hollywood?” The week provides a broad spectrum of interdisciplinary events that address conceptions of Hollywood as a “cultural factory,” as a metaphor/mythology, and as a physical space.
Cornerstone Arts Week is sponsored by the Film and Media Studies Program, the Cultural Attractions Fund, the NEH Professorship, Innovation@CC, the IDEA Space, the History Department, the Economics Department, the English Department, Student Life, The Butler Center, the Office of Residential Life and Campus Activities, the Career Center, and the Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Institute.
MONDAY, Feb. 22
4:30 p.m. Coburn Gallery: Reception and Artist Talks. “Staged: Constructed Realities, Altered Worlds.”
Exhibit runs January 29-March 5, 2016
“Staged” explores the ways in which photographers — like filmmakers or authors — can create new worlds, construct different realities, or narrate alternative histories. Building carefully imagined scenes, the photographers featured in the exhibition variously take on the roles of director, stage and costume designer, make-up artist, and occasionally, of performer. Featured artists: Bill Adams, Carol Dass, Carol Golemboski, Heather Oelklaus, Emma Powell, and Sally Stockhold.
6:30 p.m. Cornerstone Screening Room: Screening and discussion: “The Last Picture Show” (1971), dir. Peter Bogdanovich. This classic of the “New Hollywood,” the second golden age of Hollywood cinema, won two Academy Awards and is preserved in the Library of Congress. Post-film discussion will be led by CC faculty.
TUESDAY, Feb. 23
4 p.m. Cornerstone Screening Room: “Directed by John Ford” (1971-2006), dir. Peter Bogdanovich. This documentary examines the life and work of Hollywood Golden Age artist John Ford.
6:30 p.m. Celeste Theatre: Keynote Address with Peter Bogdanovich – “Where is Hollywood?”
This event will be live-streamed.
The keynote speaker for 2016 is director, actor, and film historian Peter Bogdanovich. As the Oscar-nominated director of celebrated films including “The Last Picture Show” (1971), “What’s Up, Doc?” (1972), and “Paper Moon” (1973), Bogdanovich was a key figure in the 1970s American cinema renaissance known as the New Hollywood. His most recent film, “She’s Funny That Way” (2015), stars Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson and premiered at the Venice International Film Festival. Bogdanovich has written more than 12 books on film and filmmaking, among them “Who the Devil Made It” (1997), which features interviews with 16 legendary directors, including Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang, George Cukor, and Howard Hawks; with Orson Welles, “This is Orson Welles” (1998), and his classic interview book “John Ford,” which has been continuously in print since its first edition in 1967. He is a frequent commentator for the Criterion Collection and other DVD releases. As an actor, Bogdanovich is perhaps best known for his recurring role as the “shrink” for Lorraine Bracco’s psychiatrist character, Dr. Melfi, on HBO’s groundbreaking series “The Sopranos.”
Bogdanovich’s talk will draw on his close relationships with many classical Hollywood auteurs, including John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, and Orson Welles, whose legendary unfinished film, “The Other Side of the Wind,” Bogdanovich is currently completing. He will also discuss his thoughts about the current state of Hollywood cinema.
WEDNESDAY, Feb. 24
3:30 p.m. Cornerstone Screening Room: Faculty Panel. “Fault Lines: Social History, Culture, and Geography of Hollywood”
In this presentation, an interdisciplinary panel of CC faculty examines the landscape, culture, and social history of Hollywood/Los Angeles.
6:30 p.m. Celeste Theatre: Cari Beauchamp and Sone Quartet – “Without Lying Down: The Powerful Women of Early Hollywood”
Film historian Cari Beauchamp is the author of numerous books about Hollywood, including “Without Lying Down: Frances Marion; The Powerful Women of Early Hollywood;” and “Joseph P. Kennedy Presents: His Hollywood Years.” Her books have been selected for “Best of the Year” lists by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and Amazon.com. Beauchamp was nominated for a Writers Guild Award for the documentary film “Without Lying Down: The Power of Women in Early Hollywood,” which she wrote and co-produced for Turner Classic Movies. She has twice been named the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Film Scholar and is resident scholar of the Mary Pickford Foundation. Beauchamp’s talk will include screenings of several early Hollywood short silent films directed by, written by, and starring women. Acclaimed Denver quartet Sone will improvise live musical scores to accompany the films.
THURSDAY, Feb. 25
5 p.m. Cornerstone Screening Room: F.W. Gooding and Faculty Panel – “Diversity and Representation in Hollywood”
One “space,” broadly speaking, rare in Hollywood is one that includes diverse roles for and positive representation of people of color and members of marginalized communities – not to mention jobs for same. This presentation by scholar F.W. Gooding, assistant professor of ethnic studies at Northern Arizona University and author of “You Mean There’s Race in My Movie?: The Complete Guide to Understanding Race in Mainstream Hollywood,” critiques matters of diversity and representation in Hollywood cinema and will include a panel discussion with CC faculty.
7:30 p.m. Cornerstone Screening Room: Ted Miller – “Economics of Hollywood Television”
Ted Miller ’86 is a partner and co-head of television at Creative Artists Agency (CAA), a worldwide talent and literary agency based in Los Angeles. Miller represents many of the world’s leading television producers, writers, directors, and showrunners, including Noah Hawley (“Fargo”), Alex Kurtzman (“Star Trek,” “Hawaii 5-0,” “Scorpion,” “Limitless”) Damon Lindelof (creator of “Lost” and “The Leftovers”), Clyde Phillips (executive producer of “Dexter” and “Nurse Jackie”), Matthew Weiner (creator of “Mad Men”), and Marc Webb (director and executive producer of “Limitless” and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”). Prior to CAA, Miller was an investment banker in New York. Miller will discuss the evolution of television, the creative renaissance in television series and argue that the “where” of Hollywood has moved to the small-ish screen.
FRIDAY, Feb. 26
1 p.m. Cornerstone Screening Room: Andrew Goldstein and Robyn Tong Gray – “Empathy, Entrepreneurship, and Virtual Worldmaking”
Andrew Goldstein ’09 and Robyn Tong Gray are co-founders of Otherworld Interactive, one of the most highly sought virtual reality development studios in the growing industry. Their projects, such as “Spacewalk” and “Café Âme,” have been featured at festivals and conferences throughout the country, from the Game Developers Conference to the Interactive Playground at the Tribeca Film Festival’s Innovation Week. Their project “Sisters” was accepted to the New Frontiers section of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Goldstein will discuss virtual worldmaking – specifically, the emergence of virtual and alternate reality technologies and their potential impact on the Hollywood entertainment industry – and Gray will discuss the role of empathy in designing interactive stories.
After the talk, participants will be able to view Otherworld’s mobile virtual reality apps and experience their Sundance-selected project, “Sisters,” in Cornerstone Studio B.
Montana Bass ’18
When I walk in to Sacred Grounds, a student-run tea house inside Shove Memorial Chapel, Vanessa Voller ’16 immediately shows me to an assortment of teas, puts on water, and makes sure I’m comfortable. In less than a minute, she has already impressed me with her obvious kindness and the comforting sense of calm she carries with her.
She is a sociology major and an avid hiker from St. Paul, Minnesota. Next block, she will facilitate an inaugural three-day event series during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week to raise awareness about disordered eating and eating disorders on college campuses. Events will include keynote lectures and book signings by Jenni Schaefer and Anita Johnston, two prominent scholars and activists in the field; a documentary screening and discussion about eating disorders in diverse communities; trainings and workshops for Athletics Department and residential life staff; and free assessments and referrals by specialists from the Eating Disorder Center of Colorado Springs.
“I was diagnosed with an eating disorder in 2005, when I was just 11 years old,” says Voller. “I was physically and mentally ill for nearly a decade, losing my early and late adolescence to my mental illness.” We are sitting on colorful, plush cushions when I ask what motivated her to dedicate so much time and effort to this cause. She began her answer very simply.
“I was fortunate enough to have access to help at the Emily Program in St. Paul, one of the best centers for eating disorders in the country. There, I attended intensive out-patient therapy, group therapy, and family therapy sessions.”
Though at a more stable weight, Voller admits that her mental health continued to suffer throughout her first three years at CC. Now during her last semester, she is determined to spread awareness about this deadly mental illness. “The most important thing for me for people to know is that healing and recovery is possible. I think if someone had said that to me when I was 11 or even a first-year at CC it wouldn’t have taken a decade to ultimately be freed from my own mental illness,” she pauses, waiting for me to look up, “make sure you get that down,” she adds taking a long sip of her chamomile tea.
The three-day NEDA week event series, says Voller, is the culmination of her own recovery process. It is also her senior capstone project for the Community Engaged Leadership Certificate program, supervised by David Harker, director of the Collaborative for Community Engagement and an extension of her recent Venture Grant supervised by Associate Professor of Sociology Kathy Giuffre. Voller received a Venture Grant to spend her winter break hiking the Na’Pali coast in Kaua’i and interviewing Hawaiian cultural experts and medical staff at Hawaii’s only residential eating disorder clinic, Ai’Pono.
The Kalalau Trail she hiked is one of the “Top Ten Most Dangerous in the U.S.” according to National Geographic. Despite various setbacks, including a flash flood, Voller ultimately completed the 22-mile trek, during which she said she was reminded of her own recovery journey. “At mile two on the hike, at the Hanakap’ai Stream, I faced incredibly dangerous, chest deep waters. A local park ranger told me that I had to turn around and wait out the flash flood because crossing could be deadly. I immediately thought of my childhood therapist, holding my 11-year-old hand saying, ‘Vanessa, if you continue with this behavior you could die.’”
“I began the hike alone,” she says, “thinking that I didn’t need anyone or any help. But honestly, it was quite bold to think I didn’t need anyone.” She sets her mug down, “After the flash floods I befriended three other hikers and we traversed the rest of the coastline together.” She adds, “You know, almost everyone I met during my travels was healing from something: a failed marriage, an addiction, the loss of a loved one.”
After her hike, Voller traveled to the Ai’Pono clinic in Maui. “I read ‘Eating by the Light of the Moon’ by Anita Johnston when I was in treatment and it profoundly impacted me,” she says. Voller speaks of Johnston with intense admiration. “Anita is a remarkable woman; a true healer. An inspiration. She will do wonders for our community and I am honored that she is taking time to visit us.”
This block, Voller is in an independent study with Giuffre focused on writing an auto-ethnographic memoir chronicling her recovery journey through the lens of her backpacking trip. “I’m not sure what will happen with the manuscript when the block is over,” she says, “but for right now, I’m just focused on exploring my own creative writing process and crafting a new narrative of hope and of healing.”
More information on NEDA week, which will be Tuesday, Feb. 23, to Thursday, Feb. 25, is coming soon.