by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer
Back for the second year, the American Shakespeare Center (ASC) will visit the Mountain next month for a series of performances and workshops.
Last year, the University of the South became a charter member of the ASC’s academic leadership consortium. For the next two years, that partnership will bring the company’s national tour to the university. In accordance to the center’s mission to recover the joys of Shakespeare’s theatre, language, and humanity, the ASC will also host Sewanee students and scholars at its home theater, Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Va.
The 2020 tour brings to the stage productions of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on Thursday, Feb. 6, at 7:30 p.m., and of “Imogen,” ASC’s retitled “Cymbeline,” on Saturday, Feb. 8, at 7:30 p.m. Nightly, pre-show music will begin at 7 p.m.
Director Vanessa Morosco, of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival and Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, said it is Imogen who is at the center of Shakespeare’s play, thus the renaming.
“I suspect that Shakespeare knew the title King Cymbeline would well serve his audiences nearly 450 years ago, but the play he wrote is about the lionhearted young daughter of a king who defies polite society by marrying for love, turns her world upside-down and gets a second chance at life,” Morosco said.
Pamela Macfie, professor in the department of English, said immense opportunities lie in the performances themselves—to see Shakespeare translated from page to stage transforms a student’s perception of his reckoning of the human condition. However, the opportunities the partnership brings extend well beyond the stage.
Last summer, Sewanee students Kate Graham, C’20, and Jose Hernandez, C’21, completed internships with the center, learning how to translate their study of Shakespeare from the page to production, education and outreach. The on-campus workshops hosted by the center prompt further study in the classroom as well.
“My class, which always offers a set of performances at the end of the semester, will be working with the actors on embedded stage directions in the texts. This is a way of diversifying students appreciation of the riches of Shakespeare’s texts and languages,” Macfie said.
On Friday, Feb. 7, the ASC will engage students (grades six and up) from Franklin and Grundy County schools with a special 90-minute production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which the center has reformulated to be appropriate for the students’ viewing.
“We really wanted to make this offering available because part of the ASC commitment is to demonstrate to audiences and persuade new audiences that William Shakespeare is accessible, enjoyable, relevant, entertaining,” said Macfie.
Looking ahead, the center’s newest initiative, Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries, invites contemporary playwrights to add to the ever-growing body of plays that are inspired by and in conversation with Shakespeare’s work.
“This is such an exciting initiative because seeing a Shakespeare play and a new contemporary that is inspired by it, it immediately persuades you that Shakespeare speaks to our contemporary concerns, experiences and struggles,” Macfie said. “I was there for the debut of one of the first two plays, “Anne Page Hates Fun,” which is in conversation with “The Merry Wives of Windsor.” Each of those plays is about female victimization and female resilience, about what sorts of debts women assume in negotiating male threat and what resources they develop with one another in surviving such threat. What could be more relevant than that?”
Macfie said next year, one of the plays that comes to Sewanee will be the third of the new contemporaries.
“A 16th century play on stage one night and the next night, a new play that has been authored to be in dialogue with that play. I think that’s pretty exciting,” she said. “What this has further proved is William Shakespeare is nothing without intimacy. There is some kind of connectedness in the audience that is quite unlike anything I have ever experienced and a kind of magic that makes students’ appreciation of Shakespeare something of a community appearance. It’s remarkable.”
Both performances by the American Shakespeare Center are free and open to the public. After each performance, the actors and director will assemble for a talkback, answering questions about the production and the characters. For more information about each play, visit http://www.sewanee.edu/resources/arts-at-sewanee/
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the Jan. 28 Monteagle City Council meeting, Vice Mayor Tony Gilliam announced completion of the new firehall, an issue the council grappled with since April 2017. Still grappling with last winter’s flooding disaster, the council approved joining Marion County’s Hazard Mitigation Plan to expedite FEMA assistance.
Gilliam said in spite of change orders, including resizing doors to accommodate fire trucks, the firehall final cost came in just $289 over the $400,000 budget. Fire chief Mike Holmes thanked the council. “We’re moved in, and we love it.” The public is invited to an open house Saturday, April 18, at noon.
In related business, the council approved applying for a $450,000 Community Block Grant to purchase two new fire trucks. If awarded the grant, the city’s share will be 13 percent. The council also approved purchase of masks for use with the 14 air packs acquired with a $99,000 FEMA grant. The remainder of the FEMA grant will be used to purchase the masks. By the grant stipulations, the city’s 5 percent match for the masks will be $257.
Gilliam and city recorder Debbie Taylor met with Marion County officials to arrange for Monteagle signing on to Marion County’s Hazard Mitigation Plan which is currently under review by the state. Since part of Monteagle is in Marion County, Monteagle will receive a share of any FEMA funding Marion County receives, Gilliam explained. “We still haven’t received assistance from FEMA for the flooding disaster last winter.”
“The Laurel Lake Road area affected lies in Marion County and includes more than 100 families,” Gilliam said. A Laurel Lake Road resident complained about the potholes and said the road was reduced to one lane in places.
Gilliam agreed more was needed than repairing the potholes, but stressed, “We can’t do anything until we have the money to cut ditch lines to deter the water from running over the road during heavy rainfall. We hope the Marion County Hazard Mitigation Plan will help address this.”
The council opened sealed bids for replacing the community center roof and insulating the maintenance shop. The council awarded the jobs to the low bidders, Caps Roofing in South Pittsburg, bid $23,700, and 31W Insulation, with offices in Chattanooga and Murfreesboro, bid $16,124.
Mid Tennessee Natural Gas will install heating at the maintenance shop. “We didn’t have to bid that since it cost less than $10,000,” Gilliam said following the meeting.
During Citizen Comment time, a resident asked about cleanup of a burned down house. Gilliam said the owners received a court order to clean up the property. The police department will pursue enforcement. Codes Enforcement officer John Knost recently resigned due to health and other personal issues, Gilliam noted. Going forward, the police department will take on code enforcement responsibilities.
Parks and Recreation manager Jessica Blalock announced baseball sign-ups were underway. The last opportunity to sign up is Saturday, Feb. 1, 10 a.m.–noon, at City Hall.
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
The vote count at the Jan. 28 Sewanee Utility District Board of Commissioners meeting showed Doug Cameron as the winner of the commissioner race. A record high of 56 customers voted. SUD Manager Ben Beavers said, “Customers commented they were pleased we had three good candidates. It brought people out.” Cameron earned 60 percent of the vote.
“We’re happy to have Doug’s experience coming back to the board,” said SUD Board President Charlie Smith. Cameron previously served two four-year terms on the SUD board, five of those years as president.
In regular business, Beavers reported on the Hydrant Survey conducted by SUD’s summer intern. The intern checked for leaks, tested flow and residual pressure, and took photographs to aid in identifying hydrants’ locations. In conjunction with the project, the hydrants were also flushed, which is an annual requirement.
The issues the intern documented included leaks, missing caps, difficulty opening, need for painting and other maintenance. Asked about the most important thing he learned from the survey, Beavers said, “The hydrants are in worse shape than I thought. Many of the hydrants we do not routinely open every year. We need to move hydrant maintenance up on the list. My goal is to have all the hydrants fully operational in three years.”
The intern earned $10 per hour. SUD has 208 hydrants. The information gathered cost SUD less than $5 per hydrant.
“The summer intern program was a great success,” Smith said. “The hydrant survey was a good value for our money.”
“It’s cheaper to fix a hydrant than replace one,” noted Commissioner Randall Henley. Beavers estimated repairing a hydrant cost $500, while replacing a hydrant cost $1,600.
Looking to future summer intern projects, Beavers proposed additional Geographic Information System mapping of the utility’s infrastructure; promotional photos and videos for the SUD website; website and social media data collection to learn what people are interested in and what they expect from SUD; and programming to educate customers, future customers, future commissioners, and future employees interested in a career in water utilities.
Beavers recommended giving hiring preference for intern projects to qualifying high school and college-age dependents of SUD employees.
Turning to a discussion of future capital expenses faced by SUD, Beavers said the next big expense would be membranes for the water plant. The membranes were scheduled to be replaced this year, according to Beavers, but tests showed them still functioning at an 80 percent recovery rate. The manufacture recommendation is for replacement at 30 percent recovery. Beavers estimated it would be five years before the membranes needed replaced, cost $60,000.
Smith reported he contacted State Representative Iris Rudder asking for her assistance in securing an amendment to the act prohibiting commissioners from serving more than two consecutive terms. Smith requested the legislature strike the clause to enable qualified commissioners to continue serving on the board. Smith will also contact State Senator Janice Bowling.
by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer
After more than 20 years on the Mountain and 10 in business as the owner of OctoPi and formerly Ivy Wild, Kerry Downing Moser is packing up and moving to Huntsville to pursue work with wine.
In November, Moser accepted a position as the general manager of Church Street Wine Shoppe, a wine retail, wine bar and tapas restaurant. She has since been splitting her time between Sewanee and Huntsville.
“I have no plans to close OctoPi. I will continue to run the business for as long as I am able. Obviously, that’s a challenge given that I am working six days a week in Huntsville, but I have an amazing staff of professionals who run OctoPi, and they are doing a great job,” she said. “About a year ago I started getting serious about studying wine. In March, I will complete my advanced third level certification in the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, which is a path many sommeliers take. A larger city is going to have more learning and working opportunities for a serious wine professional.”
Luckily for fans of OctoPi’s wood-fired pizza and wine bar, Moser has no plans to close the restaurant any time soon. The restaurant is for sale and the 5,300-square-foot old steam laundry building is for sale. “Anne Chenoweth Deutsch with Village Real Estate will be the agent representing me for the sale of the old steam laundry building,” said Moser.
“The entire building has infinite possibilities, and is zoned for mixed-use. There is an approximately 3,000-square-foot restaurant and a 2,300-square-foot open, loft-style apartment with two bedrooms, and an upstairs loft we use as a third bedroom. There are two full bathrooms plus another half bath in the apartment,” she said.
Moser, along with Jimmy Wilson, was responsible for getting liquor-by-the-drink licenses for downtown Sewanee from the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
Moser said with all the plans the University has to develop the commercial district, there are plenty of exciting possibilities for the location.
“I really want another business owner to benefit from all the work Jimmy Wilson and I did to get the license. There are only three establishments currently qualified to have the license, The Blue Chair, Shenanigans and my place. That license is critical for the financial success of most restaurants. The way the law is written, any new businesses that come along are not legally able to have one. I’d hate to see Sewanee lose one of those precious licenses. My hope is that someone will buy the business and keep it going, either in its current pizza iteration or as something new.”
OctoPi is located at 36 Ball Park Rd., Sewanee. For more information, visit https://www.octopisewanee.com/.
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
“When you make something with someone, it’s almost like you’ve known them for years,” said professor of sculpture and video Greg Pond. “That’s why the arts were so important at Highlander Folk School—photography, film, plays, dancing, music.” To recreate that magic, Pond transformed the University Art Gallery into a “social sculpture.” The Highlander Library installation invites visitors to make art by interacting with the space physically, intellectually, and emotionally.
Founded in 1932, Highlander Folk School in nearby Monteagle taught local mountain people literacy and financial skills and how to unionize to lobby for better wages and working conditions. In the 1950s, the school’s mission evolved into training up and coming civil rights leaders such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. in strategies of nonviolent protest.
Pond furnished the space with re-sizable circular tables to emulate “Highlander’s non-hierarchical meeting practices.” Moveable chalkboard walls and a huge blank book invite visitors to record their thoughts and observations, and a map offers visitors an opportunity to mark sites of personal significance.
One wall features a poem by children’s-book author and educator May Justus, who volunteered as Highlander’s secretary-treasurer. Her church expelled her for her affiliation with the school.
Highlander founder Miles Horton introduces Justus’ poem with a quotation: “An idea cannot be padlocked.”
Following a middle of the night police raid, the school’s doors were padlocked, and the state ultimately revoked Highlander’s charter. Because the installation is primarily a library, select social justice titles encourage browsing. The shelves are sparsely populated, a nod to the past.
“In 1961, when the school was shut down, the books were disappeared for the most part,” Pond said. “Another way the public can engage with the project is by loaning books to the library to fill the gaps in the shelves.”
The inspiration for the Highlander Libraries installation came from Pond’s community engagement class last fall where students investigated Highlander Folk School by interacting with the Grundy County community. One student played and recorded music with Dennis Marlow, whose mother was a cook at Highlander. Another student created a video documenting her weekly breakfast with a retired Grundy County teacher.
In conjunction with the class, Pond and the students visited Highlander Research and Education Center in New Market, Tenn., where the legacy of Highlander Folk School lives on.
Pond will fill some of the empty shelf space with a handmade book featuring excerpts from student conversations with Highlander Center directors.
Other handmade books will come from the bookmaking workshops hosted by Pond. “I’d love to help people scan their photos and news clippings and turn them into a book.” The workshops are free and open to the public.
The Highlander Library installation promises to be a busy place with Sewanee Praise performing Thursday, Feb. 20, documentary film screenings every Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday at noon, and philosophy, religion, and playwriting classes meeting there.
“How will interactions with the space influence student playwrights’ scripts?” Pond wondered, thinking aloud. “Socially engaged art starts with a conversation. What you bring to the table and what others bring to the table—insecurities, mutual vulnerabilities.”
The Sewanee-Yale University Collaborative for Southern Appalachian Studies and the University Office of Community Engagement co-sponsored the project. Other activities planned for the installation include a bible study class, voter registration drives, oral histories in conjunction with the Sewanee Black History initiative, and Slavery, Race, and Reconciliation events.
“In socially engaged art each person brings a unique perspective,” Pond said. “They create the project together.”
The first bookmaking workshop is scheduled for 9 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 1. To register contact Pond at <email@example.com>. To loan a book to the installation drop it off during gallery hours Tuesday–Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday–Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. Books will be cataloged to ensure their return. The Highlander Library installation runs through April 8.
by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer
Acclaimed New York-based string quartet PUBLIQuartet will perform on the Mountain next week as a part of Sewanee’s Performing Arts Series.
Founded in 2010, PUBLIQuartet is an award-winning New York City-based string quartet whose genre-bending programs range from 20th-century masterworks to newly commissioned pieces. The group is known for their re-imaginations of classical works featuring improvisations that expand the idea of a traditional string quartet.
Hamilton Berry, a Nashville native and a lifelong cellist, joined the group last year. An alumnus of the Sewanee Summer Music Festival, he said his time on the Mountain was transformative.
“My parents are both music lovers, and my mom started me on violin when I was four. I was home sick from kindergarten one day, and I saw Yo-Yo Ma playing on ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.’ I asked my mom if I could learn to play the cello, and the rest is history,” he said. “It was during my summers in Sewanee when I decided I really wanted to take the cello seriously and pursue a career in music. Being in Sewanee at 13 or 14 somewhat coincided with the time when I needed to own my musicianship and get serious about it. I still think of it as the springboard to my being serious about the cello.”
PUBLIQuartet’s Grammy-nominated new album, “Freedom and Faith,” features women artists whose music represents resilience, resistance and subversion. Composers, including Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, Jessica Meyer and Hildegard Von Bingen, highlight the diversity and legacy of women in music during the last millennium.
“We like to call attention to composers and great pieces of music that traditionally have not been performed as much,” he said. Composers such as George Walker, an American pianist and organist who was the first African-American to have won the Pulitzer Prize for Music.
“On this program, one of the pieces you’ll hear is kind of a reinvention of a piece by Dvorak. The question that we started with these improvisations is, ‘What is American?’ Dvorak was a Czech guy who ended up coming over to teach at a music school in New York, and he was inspired by American music,” he said. “His assistant, Harry T. Burleigh, was an African-American baritone. I think through him and others, Dvorak discovered African-American traditions and spirituals and the blues. This music was really the predecessor of jazz and rock and hip hop, and our improvisations weave in all those styles and put them up against excerpts of the original.”
PUBLIQuartet will perform at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 29, in Guerry Auditorium. University of the South ID holders may pick up one free ticket per ID in Guerry 129 the week of the concert, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $20 at
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the Jan. 13 meeting, the Sewanee Community Council and residents debated yet another possible cell tower location in addition to the Lake Cheston site and other sites discussed at the Jan. 8 community forum (see “Response to Lake Cheston Cell Tower Site” on page 1).
Eric Hartman, director of risk management and University liaison for the cell tower project, said Verizon rejected locating a tower near the former landfill site, a solution largely favored at the Jan. 8 forum. Verizon objected to toxic refuse in the landfill and close proximity to the airport, which limited tower height and successful propagation.
Hartman reviewed the three site options approved by Verizon: the water tower field, 800 feet from residences, lit, three-sided 290-foot tower, possibly requiring a supplemental antennae on a building for adequate propagation; Lake Cheston, 600 feet from residences, lit, three-sided 240-foot tower, good propagation; football field, 280 feet from residences, 185-foot monopole eight feet in diameter, unlit since under 200 feet tall, best propagation.
Hartman said Verizon recently proposed a modification to the football field site. They suggested replacing one of the four football field lights with a monopole and mounting the field lights on that pole. The infrastructure could be partly concealed beneath the bleachers. Verizon favored replacing the light pole beyond the concession stand. The proximity to homes would decrease.
Community resident Leslie Richardson objected, saying the chain-link fencing, generator, and infrastructure would be disruptive to the area used for tailgate parties.
Her husband, Dale Richardson, said the University conveyed they would not pursue locating a tower at the football field site due to concerns expressed by the State Historic Preservation Office. “I feel disappointed and misinformed.”
The Richardsons hold the lease on property adjoining the original football field site. The modified plan moved the monopole further from their home.
Hartman acknowledged that he told Verizon, “I don’t think the community will go for this.”
Asked about Verizon using an antenna mounted on a building to transmit the signal, Hartman said there was no building tall enough. He added “a tower is Verizon’s strategy. Verizon wants to invest in a single tower solution. Vogue Tower is the only tower company we could get interested in the project.”
Asked about approaching other cell service providers, Hartman said, “We need Verizon’s connectivity. Verizon is the leading provider. Without them, there is no project.”
Vice-Chancellor John McCardell asked if anyone wanted to speak in favor of any of the three sites, no one responded.
Resident Mayur Malde said he preferred multiple-antennas on buildings, noting that for adequate propagation, “repeater antennas will be needed anyway.”
Resident Emily Puckette observed a lighted tower “would be a presence for a long time and disruptive to wildlife flight.”
Council representative Theresa Shackleford asked to see a sketch of the infrastructure layout at the new football field site. Hartman replied, “Verizon will only invest in layout design if they think this is the preferred site.”
Leslie Richardson said she thought Verizon was being “unreasonable.”
Hartman pointed out Verizon had reviewed 11 sites, “a lot for a small community.”
Council representative Phil White said, “Every day we delay we put lives of community members in danger. Some things are more important than aesthetics and tradition.”
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the Jan. 13 meeting, the Sewanee Community Council revisited a discussion about how to apportion the expense of installing fiber optic infrastructure on the Domain. Much of the meeting was also devoted to discussing possible cell tower locations (see “Council Debates Another Cell Tower Location” on page 5). In addition, the council approved two Funding Project recommendations and appointed a new council representative.
In October, several council members suggested non-residents pay for a greater percentage of the fiber optic infrastructure installation. The project is a joint venture undertaken by Ben Lomand Connect, Duck River Electric, and the University. The University’s portion of the cost is $725,000. The University plans to pay for 15 percent of that based on the University’s ownership of 15 percent of the 555 leaseholds. The remaining cost will be assessed to the other leaseholders.
Superintendent of Leases Sallie Green researched the legality of charging non-residents more. “All charges must be proportional,” Green said referencing University counsel Lucy Singer. Non-residents cannot be charged a higher percentage based on their non-resident status. The lease-fee increase to pay for the infrastructure “will be proportional to the improvement value of your home,” Green explained.
Council representative Theresa Shackelford observed some residents might not be able to afford the lease fee increase. The median average increase will be $2,000 during a 10-year period, Shackelford said.
“Has everyone been told about this?” community resident Barbara Schlichting asked. “It will hit some residents hard.”
Shackelford suggested a portion of the Sewanee Community Funding Project monies be set aside to assist low-income residents.
The council will revisit the discussion at a future meeting. Information on the fiber optic project is available at <fiberforsewanee.com>.
The council approved two requests for Funding Project monies: $3,500 to the Sewanee Community Ballfield to restore the ballfield and $800 to the Parks Committee on behalf of Youth Soccer for soccer field markers.
Funding Project Chair Kate Reed said 11 proposals were still under consideration, with $15,700 remaining in the fund. Funds are earmarked “for physical improvements and amenities for the Domain.”
The council also approved the appointment of Paul Schutz to finish out the term of elected council representative Charles Whitmer. Vice-Chancellor McCardell welcomed Karen Singer, who will finish out the term of appointed representative Austin Oakes.
The council set the Arthur Knoll Community Clean Up for April 11.
The council meets next March 23.
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
During the community discussion about the proposed Lake Cheston cell tower site, two points of general agreement surfaced: one, the need for improved cell phone service in Sewanee; two, approval for locating a cell tower near the former dump/convenience center adjacent the golf course.
The discussion followed a demonstration at Lake Cheston where a drone illustrated the proposed tower’s height. Eric Hartman, director of risk management and University liaison for the project, fielded questions and offered insight.
Documenting the need for better cell phone service, community members said inadequate and unreliable service from AT&T impeded law enforcement and interaction with health care providers. From the University’s perspective, Hartman acknowledged poor cell service hampered recruiting students and attracting visitors. William Shealy, University superintendent of landscape planning & operations, added that most contractors employed by the University had no cell service in Sewanee.
“Verizon is the primary provider in the country,” Hartman said. Asked if a repeater tower could be used to transmit the signal from the Verizon tower in Monteagle, Hartman explained the decreased signal strength would not penetrate stone buildings in Sewanee.
Resident Bob Benson objected to the aesthetic impact of a 240-foot lit tower at the Lake Cheston site, arguing the University spent large sums refurbishing Lake Cheston. Benson noted his home and two other residences were within 600 feet of the site, with dormitories only 1,000 feet away and Emerald Hodgson Hospital, likewise, nearby.
“Cell towers haven’t been around long enough to determine the long-term health effects,” Benson said. He proposed an antenna on a building to solve the cell service problem.
Hartman noted that due to the stone buildings, several antennae would be needed for adequate propagation community wide, and Verizon objected to the multiple-antennae expense.
Reiterating concerns about the 290-foot lit water tower site proposed in September, Hartman said, the community objected to the height and wanted the tower better hidden in the topography.
“The water tower site is as far out as Verizon wants to go,” Hartman stressed. With distance, the signal strength decreases, limiting propagation.
Under the current strategy, the University is identifying potential locations and presenting them to Verizon to review for propagation suitability.
Locations rejected for inadequate propagation due to height restrictions and other issues include sites near the Facilities Management building, the Tennessee Williams Center, and the McCrady and Ayres parking lots.
Former Domain Manager Richard Winslow noted a tower was erected in 2006 at the site of the former landfill and convenience center adjacent to the golf course. Verizon rejected the site when a core sample showed evidence of the toxic chemical benzene.
The low-visibility tower, less than 200 feet tall and thus unlit, was removed. Winslow suggested Verizon consider a nearby location which might not pose the same environmental issues. Many community members attending voiced support for a site near the former landfill.
Hartman said he would propose the site to Verizon, but stressed Verizon refused to reconsider the landfill site. “I’m not optimistic.”
Asked if the University was willing to help fund a multiple-antennae solution, Hartman said, “We’re trying to find a partner. We’re not investing in the project.”
Hartman said there was not an active contract with partnering entities Vogue Towers, who would erect the structure, and Verizon who would provide the equipment and service. For propagation reasons, Verizon still preferred the football field site objected to by the State Historic Preservation office. The University chose not to challenge the ruling. “Most people push through regulatory issues, but we didn’t want to do that.”
Questioned about the internet service from Ben Lomand improving cell phone service, Harman said it would facilitate Wi-Fi calling from within people’s homes, but not outside them.
“My hope is to have a cell tower by the end of 2020,” he said.
by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer
In 2015, Sherry Ward sat in a neurologist’s office, the third one in the past few months, hopeful that she would finally have some answers.
She’d been experiencing tremors, severe pain and her legs would give out on her. She and the two neurologists who saw her before were stumped. She was almost ready to throw in the towel. However, with two kids at home and an acting career she was not ready to leave, she knew something had to give.
During that third visit, Ward was tested for a rare, degenerative disease, Stiff Person Syndrome. Results came back positive. Since then, she and her family have settled into a new normal.
Stiff Person’s Syndrome (SPS), which affects twice as many women as it does men, is characterized by extreme muscle stiffness, rigidity and painful spasms in the trunk and limbs, severely impairing mobility.
Part of the new normal has been getting back to the work she loves. After the encouragement of a friend, she put her story down on paper.
“Once I got sick, I thought there goes my acting career,” she said. “I had lunch with a dear friend, René Moreno, who passed away a couple years ago. He was the director of the August Osage County production I acted in. He was in a wheelchair from a spinal cord injury. He took me out to lunch, and we compared stories. He told me, ‘You’re going to find a way to express this dramatically.’ He is one of those people I respect so much. He is just one of those people, you do what he says. So, I got to work.”
Next Wednesday and Thursday, Jan. 22 and 23, Ward will present her solo, autobiographical play, “Stiff,” which details her experience navigating her diagnosis. “Stiff” has been an award-winning audience favorite at festivals, conferences and theatres across the country.
“Taking René’s advice, I started writing things down. I’m not a natural journal-keeper...but I was determined to create a show around my experience with doctors and with how it’s affected my acting work,” Ward said. “I was determined to write a show, but I didn’t just want to write about a sick lady. I wouldn’t want to see that, and I don’t want to put my friends through that. I was determined to make it funny.”
Jim Crawford, associate professor of theatre at the University, performed in “August: Osage County” with Ward a few years ago, and he said working with her then was an unforgettable experience.
“I was dazzled by her even then,” he said. “She was one of the best actors I’d ever worked with. I heard about this show she was developing, but I moved away from Dallas. When I finally got to see parts of the show, I was blown away.” he said. “She is somebody who has taken this difficult turn in life and turned it into such a funny, moving piece of art.”
Moreover, in a community of writers and artists, Crawford said he hopes this show will be especially inspirational.
“One of the things I love about the show is she did not turn things into an after school special. She has a really great, biting sense of humor, and that is so intact in this piece,” he said. “We have so many theatre artists, and I think it is a great example of someone taking something that happened to them and unexpectedly turning it into a piece of theatre. Take your broken heart and turn it into art.”
Ward will perform “Stiff” on Jan. 22 and 23, at 7:30 p.m. in the Tennessee Williams Center. The show is free and best suited for mature audiences.
“Mine 21” is a short documentary about the fatal coal mine explosion in Marion County. A 15-minute version of the film was screened in the communities affected by the Mine 21 disaster in 2018. In 2019, this 15-minute version was awarded the prestigious Erikson Prize for Excellence in Mental Health Media by the Austen Riggs Center due to its sensitive depiction of trauma.
And now, “Mine 21” will be broadcast on PBS.
The documentary is directed by University of the South alumnus Stephen Garrett, C’01, and produced by Sewanee Classics Professor Chris McDonough. It tells the story of a deadly 1981 coal mine explosion in Whitwell, Tenn., by following two Sewanee students—Kelsey Arbuckle, C’19, and Alexa Fults, C’21—as they learn more about the disaster. Arbuckle’s grandfather, Charles Myers, was one of the miners killed in the explosion. Her grandmother, Barbara Myers, testified before Congress in the 1987 federal lawsuit.
The East Tennessee PBS station, located in Knoxville, Tenn., will air “Mine 21” at 8:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 30, in a program titled “Appalachian Shorts: Coal Miners.” Also featured will be “Harlan County: Scenes from the Black Jewel Miner Blockade,” where filmmaker Sarah Moyer explores the perspectives of coal miners and their allies who are determined to receive back pay by seizing a trainload of coal. To view the trailer for “Appalachian Shorts: Coal Miners,” visit <>. A second showing has been scheduled for Feb. 6, at 8:30 p.m. Go to <http://www.easttennesseepbs.org/home/> for more information.
McDonough and Garrett have expanded the 15-minute documentary into a standard broadcast length format of 30 minutes. In addition to telling the original story, the longer version includes interviews with mine safety experts, labor historians, and community trauma researchers.
They had approached East Tennessee PBS about the possibility of airing the long version at some point. But the program director suggested they could pair Moyer’s video with the shorter version of “Mine 21” and call it “Appalachian Shorts: Coal Miners.”
In the meantime, the half-hour version is currently being considered by film festivals across the country this spring. “We are hoping to share this important story in places outside of the area,” said McDonough. “Festivals are a great way to bring attention to a film that audiences and distributors might not otherwise come across.”
“Definitely, we will show the longer version here,” he added. McDonough notes that a local screening sometime in the early summer seems likely.
For more information about the “Mine 21” project, go to https://mine21.com
by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer
What made it to your list of New Year’s resolutions this year? In January 2019, Inc., a magazine aimed at helping small businesses grow, reported saving more and spending less money were among the top five most popular resolutions.
Inc. also reported that achieving financial health is among the most commonly failed resolutions.
The mission team at the Morton Memorial United Methodist Church (MMUMC) is hoping to help with that by offering a free one-day workshop on financial health on Sunday, Jan. 26, from 1–2:30 p.m. A light lunch will be served for all workshop attendees before the event.
Established in 2018 after a VISTA project, BetterFi is a nonprofit economic justice enterprise that works to alleviate poverty by providing more affordable routes out of dependence on predatory loans. Founder Spike Hosch will lead the workshop and offer advice on financial planning, budget making, and saving.
Karen Noffsinger said the mission team at MMUMC has been talking about offering a series of outreach programs for the last year, and as part of the expansion, the team will be offering the first of the series on Sunday, Jan. 26.
“People often report that most of their personal stress come from money worries, and we can all relate to this, no matter where we are in life. I believe education is power, and if people are able to gain some basic money management tools, that can reduce a lot of stress,” she said.
Noffsinger said spots are still available, and the event is free to attend. Childcare is available for those who need it.
“A lot of folks are burdened by a lot of debt and have no clue how to pay things off and gain freedom from the burden of worrying about money,” Noffsinger said. “We live in a world that encourages spending money, but doesn’t teach us the skills to handle money. There are management tools out there if people want to learn, and we want to help with that if we can.”
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
Three area residents are vying for a seat on the board of commissioners of the Sewanee Utility District of Franklin and Marion Counties: Beeler Brush, Doug Cameron, and WJ “Railroad Bill” Crescenzo. Read on to learn about the candidates’ credentials and position on important SUD issues. SUD customers may vote through Jan. 28 at the SUD office during regular business hours.
Reflecting on the wisdom of an arrangement between SUD and the University providing for use of water from Lake Dimmick in a drought emergency, Beeler Brush said, “Without water we’re all in trouble. I would hope something could be worked out.”
Brush described himself as “very much a people person.”
After graduating from the University of the South, Brush taught high school for several years then returned to Sewanee for a 17-year career in fundraising for the University in roles ranging from annual fund director to major gift director.
“At one point I had 22 people working with me. In fundraising, there is more than one group to keep happy. Obviously the donors, but also the volunteers working with you.”
Brush left Sewanee to assume the position of vice president at Hampden-Sydney College, the 10th oldest college in the nation.
After retiring, Brush returned to Sewanee.
Commenting on the diverse water supply practices employed in different regions, Brush acknowledged he has much to learn about SUD’s methods.
“I understand I’ll have to take a course if I’m elected to the seat of SUD commissioner. I’ll be glad to.”
Brush formerly served on the board at Montgomery Bell Academy and on the boards of other nonprofit institutions. About his decision to seek a seat on the SUD board, Brush said, “Volunteering your time to do something that really matters is its own reward. You do it because you want to, not for any other reason.”
Asked to discuss issues confronting SUD, Doug Cameron said, “Providing good clean water at a decent price is what it’s all about.” Cameron stressed the importance of preplanning for the next drought and pursuing negotiations with the University about the use of Lake Dimmick in a drought emergency.
“The way the law reads, commercial customers are disconnected first, so the University would have to send the students home. It is to the University’s advantage to work with us. During the 2007 drought, we were down to 60 days of water left. We need to be ready to put the pipe in the ground.”
Cameron has lived in Sewanee his entire life, except for his student years at Harvard and the brief time, post-college, when he and his wife Anne were campground guides.
He previously served two four-year terms on the SUD board, five of those years as president. During his tenure, SUD weathered the 2007 drought and built a new water plant.
Cameron was a founding member of Housing Sewanee, Inc., and the South Cumberland Land Trust. He is currently involved with Blue Monarch and the Sewanee Black History Project. He recently renewed his EMT certification and has 47 years of service with the Sewanee Volunteer Fire Department.
“It is good the SUD commissioner race is contested,” Cameron said, “and good that people are more involved. We just assume water is going to be there coming out of the tap. We don’t think about what it takes to make that happen.”
WJ “Railroad Bill” Crescenzo
Since moving to Sewanee in 1979, WJ “Railroad Bill” Crescenzo’s has helped usher in changes dramatically impacting local people’s lives.
A founding member of the Tennessee Recycling Coalition and founding director of the Sewanee Recycling program, Crescenzo participated in Governor Ned McWherter’s Solid Waste Roundtable. Subsequent legislation mandated convenience centers in each county.
Crescenzo served five terms on the Save Our Cumberland Mountains board, two as vice president. He helped block local hazardous waste incinerators and, in a private legal action with two other landowners, blocked floating chip mills on the Tennessee River determined to cause “devastating environmental damage.”
Crescenzo’s moniker “Railroad” stems from his years as a freight conductor on the Penn-Central Railroad. Locally, he worked for the University as a lab supervisor for the Physics Department and technical adjunct for the Forestry and Geology Departments.
Crescenzo also served on the Sewanee Volunteer Fire Department and is currently a member of the Senior Citizens’ Center board.
Born in the Bronx, Crescenzo visited his mother’s Mississippi family during the summers. He credits his open-mindedness to his mixed urban and rural roots.
Asked his opinion on SUD drawing water from Lake Dimmick in a drought emergency, Crescenzo said, “It depends on the deal SUD can make with the University and how much the University wants to charge, as well as the cost of the pipeline and pumps. The pipeline could be a tremendous expense.”
“I listen to all sides of an issue,” Crescenzo said. “The ultimate course of action may require modifications and compromises.”
Three distinguished University alumni will receive honorary degrees during the Winter Convocation to be held at 4:30 p.m., Friday, Jan. 17, to mark the opening of the spring semester. Honorary degrees will be presented and new members will be inducted into the Order of the Gown during the service in All Saints’ Chapel.
The Rt. Rev. Phoebe Roaf, bishop of the Diocese of Western Tennessee, will give the Convocation address and will receive an honorary doctor of divinity degree. Roaf is the first woman and first African American bishop in the 36-year history of the diocese. The Rev. Francis Walter III, T’57, of Sewanee, will also receive an honorary doctor of divinity.
Additional honorary degrees also will be conferred upon Dr. Ramona Doyle, C’81, a Rhodes Scholar, practicing physician, and professor of medicine; the Rev. Daniel R. Heischman, executive director of the National Association of Episcopal Schools; the Rt. Rev. Samuel Rodman, bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina; and Lee M. Thomas, C’67, former chairman and CEO of Rayonier, and former EPA administrator.
Convocation will be streamed live for those who are unable to attend.
Dr. Ramona Doyle, C’81, is a Rhodes Scholar, practicing physician, and professor of medicine. After earning a degree in English at Sewanee and one in physiology at Oxford University, Doyle received an M.D. from Emory Medical School. She spent 12 years as a faculty member at Stanford University where, in addition to teaching, she cared for patients with advanced heart and lung disease, helped found a program in the medical humanities, and founded a center for pulmonary vascular disease. Doyle transitioned to biotechnology hoping to change the course of disease for more patients. At the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, she oversaw grants for clinical trials of innovative treatments. She continues her clinical practice at free clinics as well as an advanced lung disease specialist at UCSF Medical Center and at San Francisco General Hospital.
The Rev. Daniel R. Heischman is executive director of the National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES). He is also an instructor in doctor of ministry studies at Virginia Theological Seminary. Prior to his work with NAES, he was chaplain at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and earlier was head of the Upper School of St. Albans School in Washington, D.C. Heischman previously served as executive director of the Council for Religion in Independent Schools (now the Center for Spiritual and Ethical Education). His published books include Good Influence: Teaching the Wisdom of Adulthood. He leads faculty and parent workshops and retreats, and serves as a facilitator for faculty development programs related to ethics and the moral development of students.
The Rt. Rev. Phoebe Roaf was ordained last spring as the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Western Tennessee, becoming the first woman and first African American bishop in the 36-year history of the diocese. Roaf was most recently the rector of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, the oldest African American church in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, where she had served since 2011. She earned a master of divinity degree from Virginia Theological Seminary after pursuing wide-ranging career interests. She previously received a master of public administration from Princeton University, began her career in commercial real estate, and went on to earn a law degree from the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, clerking for Judge James L. Dennis in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Rt. Rev. Samuel Rodman was ordained as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina in 2017. Ordained to the priesthood in 1988, Rodman received an undergraduate degree from Bates College and a master of divinity from Virginia Theological Seminary. Prior to his election as bishop, he served as the special projects officer for the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. There he engaged congregations, clergy, and laity in collaborative local and global mission through the Together Now campaign, helping to raise funds for these programs. He helped create a new partnership of several Episcopal churches, other ecumenical partners, and social services agencies that together identified and implemented projects to serve their local communities.
Lee M. Thomas, C’67, is a former EPA administrator and the former chairman and CEO of Rayonier, a diversified forest products company headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. Before joining Rayonier, he was president of Georgia Pacific, a global manufacturer and marketer of packaging, paper, and building products. He was previously CEO of Law Companies Environmental Group, a national environmental engineering firm. Before entering the private sector, Thomas worked for local, state, and federal government public safety agencies, including eight years working in Washington, D.C., with the Reagan administration. He spent six years at the Environmental Protection Agency, serving as administrator from 1985-1989. Thomas recently served as chairman of the University’s Board of Regents.
The Rev. Francis Walter III, T’57, has a long history of fighting for social and racial justice. After graduating from Spring Hill College, he received a master of divinity degree from the School of Theology. While a fellow at General Theological Seminary, he assisted in a U.N. effort to win freedom for people of then Southwest Africa, now Namibia. His years in parish ministry began in Eufaula, Ala. Following the 1965 murder of Episcopal seminarian Jonathan Daniels in Hayneville, Ala., Walter was asked by a coalition of religious groups to take Daniels’ place representing them in Black Belt Alabama. He became the director of the St. Andrew’s Foundation, which operated Birmingham group homes that allowed people with mental challenges to live and work in community, and later moved from the foundation to become rector of St. Andrew’s Church.
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
“The currency of the time is data,” said David Shipps, laying the groundwork for his talk on “Business Ethics Questions and the Apps on Your Phone.” Currently the Director for the Babson Center for Global Commerce, Shipps’ career as a global executive focused on business development at leading technology companies including IBM, The Weather Channel, and EarthLink.
“Many of the companies I previously worked with now reside on your phone,” Shipps said. He also pointed to the wide spread prevalence of Google Home, which enables users to interact via voice commands with services (i.e., electronic applications) inside and outside the home. Of the 330 million people living in the United States, 130 million homes have a Google Home device.
What is the significance of these omnipresent devices and the applications they deliver?
The Weather Channel uses the location information users provide to determine purchasing patterns based on geography and weather. Snapchat, which enables users to share personalized visual images, uses the data collected to fine-tune advertising. Google Maps knows everywhere users go if the app is installed on their phone.
“Facebook has 5,000 data points that can target ads to you,” Shipps said. Facebook’s patented applications “predict relationships, classify your personality, predict your future, identify your camera, track your routine, and infer your habits.”
Similarly, the ride service Uber relies on data to create what Shipps calls, “the ultimate frictionless experience.” No cash exchanges hands. No words are spoken. Uber knows where customers are, where they want to go, and takes them there. “New York City cabs don’t need to exist,” Shipps observed.
Stressing that, after all, “Businesses are in business to do business,” i.e., “to make a profit,” Shipps invited the audience to ponder two questions. One, what does it mean to make an ethical choice as the CEO of a corporation with respect to the CEO’s obligation to the shareholders? Two, how can corporations be ethical to people who do not understand the technology?
Shipps advised against relying on government oversight to protect tech corporations from taking advantage of users. “There are regulations corporations must abide by,” Shipps acknowledged, “but change is happening too fast.” He pointed to the federal hearings addressing data privacy and disinformation where senators directed questions at Facebook’s Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Some questions demonstrated a complete lack of understanding about what Facebook was.
Asked why IBM purchased The Weather Channel, Shipps replied, “For the data The Weather Channel had.”
Shipps noted the Google Home device’s purchase price had dropped to $30. “Why do they even charge for it?” he asked posing a third question. In fact, Google gave his Google Home device to him free of charge.
Shipps’ talk was sponsored by the Academy for Lifelong Learning, which hosts monthly seminars on topics of current interest.