By Duffy ’77
One guesses that one of the more positive things that have come out of these two years of Pandemia are the new uses of sophisticated 360-degree cameras and the technology connected to them so we can, in different ways, stay connected to each other. So, as tenacious we are, Antiochians continue to be with each other. There have been a great number of “virtual chapter” events in Los Angeles, San Francisco, D.C., and Phoenix. Great interactive edu-tainment! And you might see an old friend along the way. There have been virtual reunions, an Antioch Adventure Watch Party (with some of the original people involved as guests), a super “Gala, under the Stars” with John Lithgow and some Chapters also have their own organizational meetings. Imagine the San Francisco/ NorCal Chapter has a dozen and half people in just their leadership team who are so bonded that they enjoy each other’s company with great ease and an abundance of shared laughter. So it is inevitable that Community Meetings every Tuesday are another constant in this hopefully less than permanent universe. At the moment the Tuesday at 2:30 Community meeting is a hybrid affair. There will be some mask-wearing folks in 113 McGregor and others are in remote places like offices. I also saw that co-ops from NYC and DC were listening in as well. At that recent meeting among other items on the agenda was something called “Co-op Swap”. The idea may have evolved from some old Reunion events from years ago where people would sit in circles and spin tales about their “Best or Worst Co-ops.” You must know that Antiochians can spin wonderfully funny tales..decades later. We have all had some adventures and misadventures, haven’t we? The journey is the destination and that includes getting to and through a co-op.
Students at the co-op swap are asked to get up and talk about their co-op experiences. Then they are asked to field some questions from their co-op faculty and even anybody in 113 McGregor or out there in the “Community Zoomiverse”. What a crafty way to warm people up for public speaking and fielding the unexpected! Some students talked about their co-ops involved in Environmental Justice, Criminal Justice or Fair Housing. It is interesting to note that some Antioch lawyers from the 70’s and ‘90’s were behind these co-op jobs as well as helping the co-op settle in and start navigating exotic places like Chicago and Philadelphia. One student mentioned working with Fair Housing issues in Detroit. That co-op was provided by a graduate from the class of 2017. It seemed like I had just seen them in the library a minute ago and they are already paying the universe forward by providing a way to win a victory for Detroit via helping in fair housing issues.
It is super amazing that students have continued to go on far-flung co-ops. During the pandemic many have stayed close to YSOH for co-op but others right now are in SF, LA, DC, NY and even Greece and Panama. Maybe a generation or so from now if there are “Best and Worst Co-op Adventure” Circles at a reunion there might be tall tales and laughter about how I got through it all when the world was having a moment.
I know that co-ops can change your life whether it is the job itself or the travel and just living in a rather different place. In my case a dual and seemingly a-world-away California co-op was like its own earthquake for me. I had taken a co-op doing Immunological Research. The work was okay and at the end of the day you had to lock up your notes in a safe! (ah the old paper world). Later on some TV news I discovered that some of the research was connected to things that hit the outside world years later. That research was more important than I knew. It turned out that I loved the southern California weather but felt that much in that workplace was so rigid. Well, it was corporate research. It seemed like a bell went off in the ceiling at 10:30 and folks all meandered to the snack bar in white lab coats and then fifteen minutes later a bell went off and everyone went back to their station. A researcher next to me was working on a test for measuring a hepatitis protein.
It happened that there were two of us Antiochians in that same co-op and we both also had acquired a taste for folk-dancing, Balkan style, as was done for years on Red Square. Great endorphins and great sweat. After a few phone calls to Dan Hotaling ‘51, simply a wonderful co-op advisor, I found that I might be able to have an additional SoCal co-op at the Los Angeles Free Clinic. There I found what I felt was a truly exciting and chaotic co-op job, scheduling volunteers to run a full blown and free evening medical clinic. Of course part of the change from Costa Mesa in Orange County to Los Angeles involved some house hopping (the word then was crashing). Los Angeles had some bars and coffee houses where people did folk dancing just like Red Square so some kind of way I wound up being invited to join a semi-professional dance troupe and also wound up renting a space from the Dance Troupe leaders in a place called Silver Lake. Maybe being so far away from everything helped me figure some things out. The boy next store certainly yanked me out of the closet. It was the early seventies and the world was less open. With so much excitement that second co-op felt so wonderful I stayed for two and half extra years. I lived that ultimate non profit lifestyle. Some weeks you might not get paid and then after a fundraiser you might get several weeks of pay. That co-op was good training for my later big-co-op-in-the-sky at Antioch College during all its ups and downs, including its own version of payless paydays in 1979 and its closure and re-opening. Long live the chaos and the subtle resilience lessons a good co-op experience can provide you! Later that researcher who worked next to me at that Immunological Research co-op came to volunteer at the Los Angeles Free Clinic; she was also a phlebotomist!
If you know of a lead to a good co-op that might also even pay well please don’t hesitate to contact Brooke Bryan, firstname.lastname@example.org. Whether you are from the 1970’s or any other decade that might be a way of finding someone a victory for humanity or even something that is not their cup of tea in the longer run.
As always, stay in touch. Call another Antiochian. Think about a summer sojourn to Yellow Springs. It is still somewhere between where you are and utopia! And as they emerge maybe even attending a chapter event, the next best thing to being in YSOH!