It is heading to mid-September in Southwest Ohio and Ohio is starting to preview its’ coming attractions. A drive through the gently undulating countryside down Dayton-Yellow Springs Road and to the Antioch College Campus provides clues that Yellow Springs’ golden season is starting to make an annual return . Some of the taller poplar trees’ leaves are starting to turn golden yellow in spots and dance in the breeze high up there like they will soon be ready to do some pirouettes on the way to the ground. In between the cornfields are soybean fields which for a few days become a bright golden carpet. During the afternoon when the sun hits these soybean fields it is about the brightest glorious yellow there is. Then within a few days those leaves drop all that gold to the ground as a memory until next year. With alternating cycles of drought, heat and heavy rain one hopes there are still good soybeans there after those golden leaves cascade down. Hopefully Agraria and folks at The Antioch Farm and those doing Environmental studies will be looking into solutions to the way and what we farm as well as the changing farming environment in which we are living. Some of the countryside’s farm fields have been showing unusual signs of stress from weather swings. The College and Agaria may be working on teaching tools and be problem solvers for future farmers. And well, we all have to eat!
The first years (class of 2026) are now a fortnight into the first season of their Antioch Adventure. Orientation and testing are now in the rear view mirror and people are getting to know each other. There have already been two Tuesday Community Meetings and a Job Fair where students might find the perfect campus job or even a Miller Fellow job that helps fire some first passions and provide some cash flow. Jonathan Platt ‘96 at Community Meeting, a local journalist, made a pitch for Story Chain during the most recent Community Meeting.
There were event announcements. I heard the word “Charcuterie” challenge and wondered whether John Ronsheim, Antioch’s beloved music professor and ultimate
“Arts, wine and the five senses” expert might be leaning over a passing cloud and giving us his approval and recommendations. There was also discussion about students cleaning up after themselves after having an impromptu gathering. It is something that has happened many times over the years just like those soybean fields turning golden. Everyone is 18-22 for a period in their life. What was refreshing was that we have a team of administrators who are there for the students and want to talk about things in an open and loving manner. Add in some liberal dashes of transparency and you have a recipe for a pretty decent Community.
There was also an announcement about a grand opening of a Racial Justice Library at the Coretta Scott King Center along with an event to honor former faculty Bill Chappelle, Jim Dunn and villager Gwynna Garrett for their anti-racism work with H.U.M.A.N. (Help. us. make. a nation…. so grassroots and so Yellow Springs). Antioch College has often done this work in every generation.
As Community Meeting wound down Co-op advisors and others began to talk about looking at and tightening up students’ resumes before the Job Fair in the South Gym, which was next. After all, work is an important part of one’s Antioch Adventure. It starts locally and then the world is the target. I remember my paper 1966-67Antioch College catalog and page 23 or 24. I still have it! There was a simple black and white picture of the Empire State Building. The hint was that the world was our campus as well as our SwOhio oasis. Once I thought NYC was the only place in the world. California and Florida and then YSOH co-ops changed those thoughts!
Although the campus first appears quieter than when enrollment was larger there are plenty of things happening and if one gets around you will see students deeply involved in their studies. On a picnic bench under some pines perhaps a book and a cigarette make for a moment of perfect reverie. Yes, some people still smoke. And their minds travel some as they read along with that smoke.
Students are friendly and almost any conversation will quickly take you into someone’s passions. The added Antioch dimension is that as that as well with what one wants to study, what one DOES as well as what one studies really matters. Of course this Buffalo always begins any campus “grazing” or visit to Community Meeting with a trip to OKLIBRARY. The bookstore, mailroom, a growing C-shop and a Biophilic playroom, replete with a huge chessboard and almost people-sized chess board pieces will greet you as you enter. So the library is a place to study, play, snack, think, strategize and socialize. With some overstuffed sofas it is like a huge family rec room. However the OK library is also large enough to find your own quieter space. You might just as well settle in.
Before the Community Meeting I spent some time meandering here and there and first I talked with a student who at the library front desk was doing what people do in libraries…read. They put their book down and were excited to tell me that they were planning a co-op to Mexico where they would be visiting extended family but also wanted to be involved in working with Women’s Community Health issues. And on top of that another student who has family in Mexico City might travel to them for a side sojourn to the “big city”. The student at the OKL’s family is in a more rural area. It is ultimately so Antiochian to pick up and go somewhere with another Antiochian, anywhere.
I could feel a passion for travel and also doing Community work in another culture and their own culture. It is that coming and going and putting everything together that makes us so different from almost anywhere else.
I then meandered over to South Hall, still waiting for that Community Meeting to start and sat on the patio near a flower bed that had been planted by Volunteer Work Program locals Jim Spangler ‘74 and Shirley Christensen ‘54. There I sat near another student who was reading and I asked what time it was. “Community Meeting” was soon. With neither watch nor cell phone I had to ask for a time check. Somehow, we began to talk about what they were interested in. First they had a co-op in upstate New York at a camp, maybe a safer place to be during early pandemia. Turns out they seemed to have an interest in the technical aspects of movie-making, set design. Regionally it seems like Cincinnati is becoming an additional movie making mecca as it has urban and other settings and is a way to do things less expensively. So as a Cinncinnatian in their first year and via a local friend they wound up in an intense co-op that had them pause their Antiochian adventure for a fairly long season while they jumped into their passion as well as make enough money to buy an apartment in the Queen City. What a fruitful extended co-op for someone so young! As it was 2:24 it was finally time to scoot to Community Meeting. It had the normal rhythms of many Community Meetings as mentioned above.
As the Community Meeting ended some folks went to the Job Fair and others went to Faculty Meeting. On the way out of 113 McGregor I talked with a student who was super excited to apply for work on the Farm. I had met them at the first Community Meeting. I felt great positive excitement from them and it also seems we had a moment of bonding over couture. It seems we both may have fairly extensive collections of tie-dye. I imagine some of my couture may be twice as old as he is.
The faculty has been pretty stable considering the world in which we live now. It certainly felt good to see everyone. When I first arrived and was filling in some time before Community Meeting I caught an office door, open in South Hall. I peaked in and it was Luisa Bieri, co-op professor. ( the most recent member of the Bieri Dynasty. )
She seemed happy and excited. Her courses will include “Dialogue across difference”, a “co-op prep course for First Years” and also a course online for people who are actually out on co-op.
For a moment she thought she might also have to fill in for a Spanish class Instructor. However, Juan-Si Gonzalez who taught here before we closed will come back for a while. The students are in for a treat as he is a great artist with a constant twinkle in his eyes. More than likely their Spanish classes will include a good dose of aesthetics, art and some joy.
As I headed back to Dayton I was happy to know that the College is in good stead. The Administrative Team is strong and transparent and caring, the faculty is more stable than in many places and the students still are working on finding their passions in between their studies and travels. Add in a great left-leaning village, co-op shake and stir and inevitably passions will be realized and perhaps some victories for humanity.
Soon Fall in Yellow Springs will progress and golden colors will be supplemented by oranges and other hues. A great place, and a transient-mode home to be while working on passions and studies. Some of Antioch College’s true colors.
Be sure to stay in touch; much happens here that may eventually solve some of the world’s problems. It has been the case for decades and also for decades to come.