Campus Mourns Loss of Senior Kera Martin

Kera MartinSouthwestern University senior Kera Danielle Martin, 22, of Rotan, Texas was killed Sunday, October 25 in a car accident near Winters while returning to campus from a weekend trip to visit family in Rotan, Texas.

Martin was studying English and Spanish, and planned to graduate in December. She has spent time studying abroad in London and Guanajuato, and intended to utilize her linguistic abilities to pursue a career in education. She was active in Kappa Delta Pi, an international honor society in education, Operation Achievement, where she worked with Georgetown students, and Sigma Phi Lambda, a national Christian sorority.
This is a tragic loss for the Southwestern community of a talented and promising student who had so much to contribute to the world, and lost her life too suddenly and too soon. Martin was known by all as a compassionate, engaging and radiant woman who shared a bright, gorgeous smile with all whom she encountered. The Southwestern community is grieving this loss.
University President Jake B. Schrum issued an official statement in response to the tragic accident and offered his deepest condolences to Martin’s family members, friends and fellow campus community members.

The campus community has hosted several memorial services including a gathering Monday in the ballrooms that included many of Kera’s friends and professors. Vice President of Student Life Gerry Brody, Chaplain Beverly Jones, and Beverly Savinsky of Counseling Services discussed ways to cope with grief and loss. Afterward, other members of the gathering spoke about Martin and their special memories of her. A time of prayer was held later that evening. The campus will continue to prepare plans for the coming week to remember Martin, celebrate her vibrant life, share grief and support each other through this difficult time.

Martin’s family shared with the university that a visitation will be held on Thursday, October 29 at 6 p.m. at the Weathersbee-Ray Funeral Home in Rotan. The funeral will be held on Friday, October 30 at 2 p.m. at the First Baptist Church in Rotan.

According to a message from Schrum, members of the SU community who would like to extend their sympathy to Martin’s family may send their messages to Jones’s office in Cullen. She will forward them to the family.

Students seeking support in coping with this tragedy are encouraged to contact Southwestern Office of Counseling Services at (512) 863-1555 or the Office for Religious Life at (512)-863-1527.

At Southwestern: 11/6/2009

SU is very excited about the release of a new independent video game called Machinarium by the Amanita Crew, as well as the Amantes restaurant. Art students are relieved that they are not called a “bullshit” major and show off their pictures in public. McDonalds will soon own Big Ben. The Intercultural Symposium drew a lot of interest. Li’l Wayne goes to prison. SU Cross country knows how to run.

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Finch Society to Help Propsectives Decide

Finches Southwestern has created a new program this year that is designed to enhance the experience of prospective students. This program is called the Finch Society, and it is an offshoot of SHARP, or Students Helping the Admission Recruitment Process.

The SHARP program began in the early 1980s, and has changed its function many times over the years. Recently, the students in SHARP were responsible for helping with prospective student visitation and held hosting responsibilities.

“There was an issue with accountability within the organization,” said staff advisor Gail Roberson, referring to SHARP. “We wanted students to have more of a say in the program and in helping with the potential students.” Thus, the Finch Society was born.

The Finch Society was created this year in order to achieve the goal of more student responsibility. The society has four student coordinators, Lisa Leininger, Avery Sheppard, Lili McEntire, and Sean Stumpf.

“The coordinators are really the ones who own and operate this program,” said Roberson.

The Society provides the hosts for the visiting students, and each host is in charge of introducing the prospective student to campus life at SU – from Cove events to Commons dining to hanging out on the mall and using the library’s resources for studying.

But who are these host students?

“The Finch Society is made up of students from across the board when it comes to academic interests, extracurriculars, hometown, etc. This way, we can match the interests of visiting students with those of the student hosts. Southwestern has been using student hosts for years and years, but now we’re trying to better the process and make sure students are matched up properly,” said Sheppard.

At present, there are about 30 to 35 volunteer students in the society who act as hosts. These students receive benefits from being part of the program, including gift cards, free t-shirts, and free food at the meetings. The students in Finch also earn “ghost” credit hours that go toward housing assignments. According to Roberson, “There are definite perks to being in Finch.”

Of course, the real focus is on the prospective student.

“The objective of the Finch Society isn’t necessarily to talk prospective students into coming to Southwestern. The objective is to give these prospective students an idea of what SU is really like and, more specifically, what it is like for a student such as themselves,” commented Sheppard.

The Finch Society is aiming to provide a better experience for prospective students than other small liberal arts colleges in Texas, such as Trinity, Austin College and St. Edward’s.

Freshman Riley Webb compared his visits to Austin College and to Southwestern. “Austin College seemed like it was a really good school, but it seemed really boring. It didn’t seem like there was a lot of extracurricular activities going on. I got this vibe that it was a boring place. I just didn’t get that warm, sunny feeling that you get when you walk around Southwestern. But it wasn’t until I came here for an overnight stay and met a bunch of interesting people that I fell in love with SU,” Webb said.

“When I visited Trinity, I wasn’t able to spend the night. I just did a four hour tour and welcome where I met different professors and department heads. It was really educational, but I think I would have had more fun if I had spent the night, like I did here at Southwestern,” said Briana Garcia, sophomore.

Since the Finch Society has only begun operating this semester, those involved are hesitant to say whether or not it has so far been successful. “There has only been one visit program this semester, and it was not an overnight. But we have seen enthusiasm with the students who have come to visit individually,” said Roberson.

According to Sheppard, “Everything has gone great so far but the real test will come next semester when we start getting a lot of overnight visits from seniors in high school trying to make their final decisions.”

Phi Delta Theta Recieves Solar Panel

A solar panel, courtesy Google
The Phi Delta Theta boys are going solar. An 8-by-10 solar panel has been installed on the roof of their fraternity house to save money on electric bills and take a step toward being more environmentally aware. The idea for a solar panel installation was instigated by junior Nick Cox after one of the two hot water heaters in their house broke. They took the opportunity for innovation. “We decided this would be a great way to set an example for the community and help out the environment. It was also a great way to get close to one of our alumni,” Cox said.

The system was installed by Jeff Bendall, a 2000 alumnus of Southwestern University. He was a member of the fraternity and now works for Lighthouse Solar, a company based out of Boulder, Colorado with a successful branch in Austin. He estimates that the house’s system will reduce the amount of energy required to heat water by up to 70 percent a year: 100 percent in the summer and 50 percent in the winter. The system will pay for itself within 12 years.

According to Commerce Department Data, the United States imported $605 million and exported $555 million in solar panel equipment in the first seven months of this year alone. The U.S. 2009 Market Report announced that manufacturing plants accounted for 5 percent of worldwide solar cell production in 2008, which is actually down from its 12 percent peak in 2003. The Phi Delta Thetas are doing their part to increase American solar panel manufacturing.

“I think it was a great opportunity, considering we already needed a water heater,” sophomore member of the fraternity Kent Doerrries said. “[It will] reduce our footprint on the environment and, at the same time, reduce our energy bills. It was also nice to see something brand new be installed in the house for once,” he added.

The solar panel is comprised of 30 glass evacuator tubes, which have a narrow copper tube running inside of each of them that collects heat. Each of these tubes is met by another tube that runs across the top of the collector. These tubes heat a fluid, consisting of distilled water and propylene glycol. This liquid combination flows into a storage tank, which is then delivered to a 120-gallon hot water heater within the frat house. “Now that it’s in, we’re really happy with the system and the results we’re going to get from it,” Cox said.

Maintenance of the system is a breeze, with no more upkeep than a regular water heater. Given that there are extended periods in winter in which the sun is not seen, the system also has an electrical back-up system to ensure that hot water is never in short supply. The thermal systems Lighthouse Solar installs cost approximately $6,500 and typically last 15 years.

Due to the success of the system, the fraternity is heavily considering the option of another solar panel after the second water heater dies. “There’s no downside about saving money and helping the environment,” Cox said laughing.

Haunted Jailhouse Scares Up Funding For Kids

Clowns!  Aaargh!  Can’t sleep…can’t sleep…The Williamson County Sheriff’s Department is in the habit of scaring little children in order to help them, and they now plan to do it every year. This past Friday and Saturday, to get an early start on holiday season Brown Santa fundraising, the Sheriff’s Department utilized Halloween to combine fear, fun and charity. Workers decked the old historic jailhouse on Main Street with skeletons, headstones and a whole slew of volunteers and police officers willing to make people scream. The joy of scaring a child is a gift that never stops giving. For $8, visitors were taken on a ten minute tour (that felt much longer over the sound of the adrenaline rushing in my ears) involving guns, knives, lunatics and clowns wielding pickaxes. Enter: chaos and trying to climb on the back of the tour guide for protection. Georgetown High School students volunteered to scare the tour groups, and one Southwestern student even acted as a tour guide.

“Being a tour guide was kind of an accident; I originally was just going to help set up, but they didn’t have enough people to tour, so I volunteered,” freshmen tour guide Fox Buchele said. “It was exhausting. I ran at least 50 tours, running all around the jail and climbing those accursed stairs over and over.” The jail was in use for more than 100 years and once housed American serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, whose vacant cell was naturally incorporated into the tour. “The jail itself was really creepy, even before we put up the decorations,” Buchele said. “I didn’t take a single group through that didn’t come out with at least one person who was terrified. We even had a kid pee his pants! I would definitely consider it a success. We had to turn people away because the line was 75 people long at times.”

The Travis County Brown Santa Program started up as a pilot program in 1981, with a few sheriffs in the county working to help 25 families in Travis County during the holiday season. This year, the program aims to help 1,600 families. The program provides assistance to families in Travis County or to those that live outside the geographical city limits of Austin. Not to limit the program’s reach, Brown Santa also works with families under extenuating circumstances that have temporarily limited their ability to provide basic necessities for their families. The Haunted Jailhouse was the perfect way to kick off fundraising, and it was a huge success.

“Brown Santa operates by giving toys and books to children living below the U.S. poverty line. It’s like Blue Santa, but the sheriff’s department here in Williamson County wears brown uniforms,” Connie Watson from the Williamson County Public Information Office explained. “We did jail tours of the historical jail last week, and so we had some folks at the sheriff’s department that thought it would be a great idea to do a haunted house in the jail itself. So here we are.” The sheriff’s department hopes the program and events will continue to flourish as much as they have in the past 30 years.

To volunteer or donate to Brown Santa this year, visit their website at brownsanta.org or call 24-SANTA (247-2682). Sign-ups for volunteer services will officially begin on November 1. To register for an event, e-mail volunteer@brownsanta.org for more information.

Obama doesn't care about Afganistan

Obama visits the army, courtesy of GooglePresident Obama has not announced a definitive strategy for handling the situation in Afghanistan.

Even though General McCrystal has petitioned 40,000 troops a month ago, it does not seem as if developing a good strategy in Afghanistan is a priority for our president. Instead, it seems he is thinking about the politics involved in sending more troops to Afghanistan.

White House officials claim that the president is simply taking his time to develop a good strategy, one that will guarantee our success in a war that has already been going on for almost a decade. I agree that the strategy, or lack of strategy, performed by the former administration is what led to the current chaos in Afghanistan. Not only were there no plans as to how to run Afghanistan once the Taliban was defeated, but there was no plan to fully defeat the Taliban across the whole country. The decision to invade Afghanistan was a rash decision, one made while the American public still hurt deeply about September 11, and demanded that an action, any action, be done to show that attacks such as those would not go unpunished. Clearly, the lack of strategy has resulted in the current mess that Afghanistan and our troops are in.

However, President Obama has been in office for almost a year already. Furthermore, he began working on the policies of his presidency even before he became president, as exemplified by the economic reforms he prepared Congress for so that he could sign them into action when he came into power. Yet, he keeps telling the American public that he needs more time to develop a good strategy in Afghanistan.

Listen, I’m no military expert. I cringe at the thought of learning military strategies and so forth, but I also recall how George W. Bush’s and Donald Rumsfeld’s failure to listen to our country’s generals was greatly responsible for the chaos that we have created in the Middle East. McCrystal has made it perfectly clear that he needs those 40,000 troops, and he has even clarified that this amount of troops would only cover 20 percent of Afghanistan. McCrystal knows that at least 100,000 troops are needed to gain complete control over the country, but he also realizes that he is working with politics, a limited number of troop, and a strategizing Taliban. He knows it’s not all about the numbers, but about strategy as well.
And he, the military expert, ultimately is the most knowledgeable, not a whole bunch of civilians who have never devoted a day of service to their country. Really, when it comes to deciding what the best strategy is, would you trust the inexperienced politician over the military expert?

And before I have a whole bunch of individuals sending me angry messages over how my view is insensitive to our troops and that we cannot send our young and innocent troops to die a war without a cause, let me explain my point of view. I have personal attachments to this war. My fiancé, a Southwestern graduate, will be going to Afghanistan this November, and I, more than anyone else, sometimes wish that our troops would be pulled from Iraq and Afghanistan. However, doing such a thing would make all the deaths and injuries of our troops to have been in vain. Even worse, the Taliban would reclaim power in Afghanistan and allow the reopening of training camps for Al-Qaeda. I am not trying to be a fear mongerer; I generally detest that strategy and abhorred its use of it by the Bush administration. However, the facts are the facts, and if we want to secure a better world, then extremist organizations need to be stopped, and there is no doubt that Al-Qaeda is already one of the strongest extremist terror organizations in the world. To let it rise again and cause instability in other countries, including our own, would only lead to yet another war in the area.

What Obama must realize is that we need to properly address the war in Afghanistan. We cannot let politics ruin our chance to destroy a terrorist base. We need to ensure that the people of Afghanistan have a functioning government and that we will not be attacked by individuals who trained in that area. Only when we have ensured this will it be time to draw a timeline and pull our troops out of Afghanistan.

That being said, it is clear that Obama is not really concerned about creating a successful strategy for Afghanistan. Rather, he is looking for a strategy that will not hurt his popularity even more than it already has been hurt. A good strategy for Afghanistan could have clearly been developed by now. Requests for more time after almost a year in office only indicate that this president, just like the one that preceded him, is more concerned with his image than with the safety of his country. Quite frankly, the troops sacrificing their lives and Americans living in the democracy that these soldiers are trying to defend deserve much better than politics; they deserve proper leadership.

Farmville: Cash Cow of a Distraction

Farmville, from Google Images

You’ve probably noticed on your Facebook News Feed little, annoying notes about how “So-and-so found a lonely black sheep!” or “So-and-so found a lonely pink cow!” or “So-and-so gets a ribbon!” All of these little space taking tidbits of information comes from a Facebook flash game called FarmVille.

For those who never played it, FarmVille is a game where you farm, harvest vegetables and apparently find cattle that wander onto your farm. It’s apparently an addicting game – I’ve seen people talk strategy behind it, and I’ve seen people leave class to go harvest strawberries or something like that. As a result from this addictive gameplay, it’s one of the most played games on Facebook. This isn’t just on Southwestern, I remind you – this is all over the globe. Even digg.com co-founder and technologist, Kevin Rose, accidentally revealed that he played it.

So, everyone is playing FarmVille, because the game play is so simple. It’s like the SNES game, “Harvest Moon,” but without all the deep farming or social aspects – you simply just plant crops. Its gameplay anyone can get into. What this means is that the people behind the game are making mad amounts of cash. If they included some sort of micropayment payment system into the game (like paying 99 cents for a special orange cow that can be used to make fertilizer that makes your crops grow or something).

I will say I don’t play FarmVille, but not for stupid reasons like the fact that it’s a casual game, or it’s a game where you play as a farmer. I don’t play it because it’s creepy. See, I’m a rather private person. When I do game, I don’t want the world to know all of my accomplishments. I don’t really care if I let my girlfriend know if I found a pink cow, or even the editor-in-chief of this newspaper whether or not I upgraded my farm. What is he supposed to do? Be happy for me and buy me a beer?

That’s the problem for me is this trend for the merger between social networking and gaming. The problem is that I don’t think it is done well. FarmVille, for instance, just lets people know of your accomplishments, but that’s about as deep as it goes. It’s similar to fixing a leaky drain with duct tape – you fixed the leak, but it’s a short term solution. If FarmVille’s social networking was better, and was actually interesting instead of being a single player game that simply annoying alerted your friends how awesome you are, then yeah, I would play it. The Facebook API with what it can allow you to do in terms of people and their profiles is pretty amazing and should be used more often.

I’m waiting for a day I can play Risk with a big group of friends without moving an inch (think of Scrabulous but with Risk!), or even with just people on Facebook – I don’t want to play “Risk” by myself and then simply alert my friends that I got 10 new units and am the supreme overlord of Australia. One’s an analog to an existing social activity that is made 10 times easier, the other one is simply just depressing and lonely.

Lacrosse: First NCAA Varsity Game of the Year

LacrossOn Sunday after 26 years of club play, the Bucs Lacrosse team took the field as a NCAA Varsity team. First was a scrimmage against the University of Texas Longhorns club team. Working out the jitters took some time, as the Longhorns controlled the ball for most of the game. The largely rookie defense did its best against the seasoned offense of the Longhorns, allowing many players their baptism of fire, and finally getting to run their much practiced defensive sets against someone other than teammates in practice. The Horns won handily and went on to dominate the day overall.

In the second game, many of the nerves had worked their way out, and the team played much more strongly against the Sam Houston State Bearcats. Calming down, the Bucs controlled the ball on the offensive end of the field, while effectively disrupting the Bearcats offense on the other end. The Bucs carried the game against the Bearcats vastly improved team from the year before.

The final game of the day for the Bucs was against the Texas State Bobcats, who had previously given the Horns a very tough game. The Bucs played with heart, but the long day stretched legs thin, and the Bobcats were able to control the game. Despite the fatigue, the young Bucs remained cool, running plays and executing defensive schemes well.

After the final whistle blew, spirits were high for the Bucs. “The fan support was great,” said first-year captain Ed Williams, “and while we will use this as a building block towards the regular season, and I can’t wait to get started in the spring.”

Junior captain Luther Faulk was concerned about the image presented to the rest of the lacrosse world. “I think that overall the tournament was a success in that it gave us playing experience, which is essential at this point. We won an important matchup against Sam Houston, and despite the fact that I wish we could have played better against UT and Texas State, it showed us what we need to work on.

My expectations are that we set off a good first impression of Southwestern Lacrosse and that we will be a force to reckoned with, if not now, soon. I want what I feel everyone on our team wants… to work hard and win in doing so,” Faulk said.

The team overall seemed to enjoy the day and was encouraged by the spirit the team had. “I have never been on a team with so much heart. I’ll play with these boys any day!” said sophomore Donnie Murray.

Many of the parents were generous enough to organize a tailgate with barbecue and fruit after the games, so for a while after the games, the parents and players mingled, meeting and greeting one another.

Coach Joe Ernst was pleased by the day overall, not just his team’s performance. “Our First Annual Pirates Fall Classic was a huge success. We had four great lacrosse teams on campus, had a day filled with great competition, reconnected with alumni and connected with the families of the current players. We got a win and got the chance to see where we needed more work for the spring season. I am proud of how far the players on this inaugural team have come and look forward to a successful and fun season,” he said.

The Bucs will next take the field in January in an alumni game and then will begin regular season play in February. Being a largely underclassmen team, there is a lot of work to be done, with team bonding and still coming to trust one another, but the Bucs look forward to the work with relish, ready to make a Texan mark in the Lacrosse world.

A Profile on John Pipkin, SU English Professor and Novelist

John Pipkin, as seen by Lauren David John Pipkin, a Southwestern English professor, is having a decent year. Or at least it would seem so. His first novel, Woods Burner, was published and received surprisingly good reviews considering it’s historical fiction. Ok, it was Amazon’s Book of the Month for May, let’s just say it’s doing well. Now to add even more fire to the first novel flames, The Center for Fiction has shortlisted Woods Burner for its First Novel Prize. The ceremony for which will be held November 9.

But enough of this stuffy treatment of Pipkin as simply a historical novelist, which seems like a rather fitting job for someone with a Ph.D. in British literature. His novel isn’t even about a British historical figure. It’s about Henry David Thoreau, and not the Thoreau you and I are familiar with. It’s about Thoreau before he was that Thoreau. Back when he was just a ne’er-do-well who burned down the forest surrounding Concord, Massachusetts.

But “Why?” you ask. John Pipkin will tell you why. He reworks the mythical figure we know and removes the retrospective veil of hero worship by injecting personal uncertainty and psychic angst into his fictional narrative. In doing so, he moves past the boundaries of academic work and draws connections between Thoreau’s quest for identity and the young nation’s pursuit of a stable mien. And perhaps, (journalistic leap here) displays his own development as a writer/individual during the almost decade long production of this novel. For the environmentally-conscious among us, his fictional text describes the actual budding of conservationist thought that so deeply influenced Thoreau’s worldview post-woods burning.

The novelist/academic told me that he always wanted to be a writer. Which sounds like every artsy-type kid you knew in high school. But rather than follow the usual (and normally doomed) route of dropping out, doing drugs and traveling around the country a la Jack Kerouac, Pipkin decided to stay school and learn about writing from those whom we refer to as literary masters. Instead of ending up working in a fast food chain like 99.9% of those who follow in the Kerouacian tradition; our novelist in residence instead set up a career as a scholar, you know, just in case publishing success was not to be his. Luckily for Dr. Pipkin, Thoreau has his back and just might propel this writer into the canon of historical fiction.

Concerned Parent Writes to Andrew Dornon

Dana Cartwright.If there’s one thing I learned in my court appointed parenting class, it’s how not to be a shitty parent. Too bad so many other people can’t seem to learn the same. It seems like all I hear from parents everywhere I go is “Blah blah blah! The Swine Flu’s gonna kill my kid, blah blah blah!”

Seriously people, it’s not a big deal. Besides, if your kid bites it from the swine flu, just make another one (we all know how fun that is, right?) Also, as I a parent, I think there are a number of other, much bigger, worries that we need to be focusing on.

For instance, did you know that drinking Mountain Dew can shrink your balls? My boys love that stuff! They drink it morning, day, and night! (Well, they used to until I found out the drink would turn their family jewels into the family studded earrings).

Also, terrorism. Terrorism is a constant threat to the safety of your children. If you’re a good parent, you will constantly remind your children that they are in danger of these attacks (it’s good to keep them cautious).

Did you know that the Round Rock outlet mall is #345 on the FBI’s list of “Places that are somewhat likely to be struck by a terrorist attack”? 345! They might as well change the name to “the Kenyan Embassy”! All I know is that if my boys or I need a new pair of slacks from the Gap, we’re heading to Hillsboro (which is placed safely at #670).

Also, what’s all this I hear about the H1N1 vaccine causing autism? What a bunch of baloney! First of all, a lot of autism cases are misdiagnosed. What’s the real prognosis? LAZINESS. Just tell your kid to quit being lazy and start interacting socially with others like a normal kid. Pretty soon, they’re bound to quit with the charade and snap out of it.

Secondly, so what if it has a chance of causing autism? Are we going to stop doing everything that might have a chance of causing a horrible, debilitating illness? That’s like saying we should quit getting sunburned because it causes skin cancer! And I may be a parent, but that doesn’t mean I have total authority over my children’s choices.

If they want to drink hard liquor at the age of 12, who am I to stop them? Cirrhosis of the liver be damned! I’m not going to step on my child’s basic American freedoms. The point is: let’s be sensible about this, and quit being preoccupied with all of this “harmful side effects” nonsense. It’s time to wake up America.

At Southwestern: 10/30/09

We are concerned about kids in Afghanistan, breast cancer, the Pope’s recent interest in gangsta rap, and volleyball is doing quite well!

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Tri Delta's "Last Lecture" Spotlights Erik Loomis

Erik LoomisIt’s not every day that you get to hear a professor muse about whatever topic is most dear to them. Usually, they must stick to the syllabus and course material. However, the sorority Tri Delta put together an event last week which allowed Southwestern Professor of History, Erik Loomis, to discuss his deepest and most integral philosophy.

Tri Delta calls the event their “Last Lecture”. According to Tri Delta’s Academic Development Chair Jessica Bolton, Last Lecture attempts to “honor a professor by giving them the opportunity to give a lecture that can be truly meaningful to them and everyone that hears it.” Bolton explained that the spirit of the event came from Randy Pausch’s book Last Lecture. Pausch had terminal cancer, and wrote the book over his last and very inspirational lecture on achieving your childhood dreams.

After being voted this year’s speaker, Loomis explained that “it was a great honor to be asked” and was very excited for the opportunity to “make the lecture whatever I wanted it to be, using themes that were central to my philosophy, research, and career”. The honor Loomis felt came through in his lecture. Anyone at the lecture could tell how prepared he was and how serious of a topic this was for him.

The lecture itself covered topics on environmentalism and was provocative, foreboding, funny and inspirational. Loomis began his lecture with a series of criticisms against modernity. He claimed that “some people just want to leave the world with more stuff” while wrongly asserting that “technology and the free market will solve all our problems.” Perhaps, Loomis stated, we must be “willing to reject modern life and the comforts of it” in order to combat the growing problem of environmental scarcity.

Throughout the lecture, Loomis left few stones unturned. Loomis articulated that thoughtful people need to “think about the world in a complex manner” and “try not to be satisfied with easy answers.” Indeed, complex issues deserve complex answers. There may not be one “-ism” that solves our problems. Loomis argued this by stating that “communism and capitalism are two sides of the same coin” because throughout history the environment has been exploited at the hands of both systems. In like manner, Loomis argued that we must reject capitalism’s message of insatiable profit and growth, but be weary of environmental movements not concerned with the needs of working class people.

Loomis’ complex viewpoint may be more understandable when we look at his background story. The Loomis we know, the intellectual with thought provoking lectures, comes from a working class, close to the earth community. Loomis told me that his dad worked at a plywood mill, in “a logging town that enjoyed nature in a different way than the environmental community.” After further discussion, he explained that many environmentalists of the 1980s and 1990s possessed a view point that was far too “black and white.” The loggers of his town loved the land, and Loomis gained an “interest in nature and hiking” through his childhood community. Most probably don’t imagine an environmental historian to be the son of a working class logger, but perhaps that background has assisted Loomis in finding a middle ground, which allows room for opposing interests and viewpoints to be combined and improved upon.

Loomis ended his lecture with themes of hope and optimism. He marveled at how lucky humans are because of “the beautiful world we live in.” Loomis urged us to appreciate the beauty of the world, which can be found in our own backyards. According to Loomis, what we need to be concerned with is living “the good life.” We must “live with great joy, exploring art and the world.” And of course, we must “try to leave the world a better place.”

Shortly after Loomis closed, a burst of applause erupted from the McComb’s Ballroom audience. Tri Delta’s event was a huge success, and I think speak for everyone when I say that I’m glad Loomis will have many more lectures to come.