September 10, 2020: Important COVID-19 update – Click here to read our statement

The Kroka Student Association (KSA) is made up of a strong semester alumni community going all the way back to very first Vermont Semester in 2004. Working to maintain their connection with each other and what they learned at Kroka, a newsletter is put out biannually to share updates, skills, resources and reflections. Below you will find the latest!

Click here to learn more about transformative semester programs for students ages 16-20.

 

August 15, 2020

KSA EDITORIAL:

Hi All,

I sat down to write this editorial this time around feeling a bit underqualified. I’ve been pretty out of the Kroka loop for the two years or so since the last newsletter, with other communities and parts of my life moving to the forefront. But then I thought about it a little more, and realized that a large portion of the alumni are in a similar spot. The idea of the KSA was to be a resource for all alumni, regardless of your relationship to Kroka. Ideally it can still serve a purpose as alumni move further and further from their semesters. So here’s a few questions for us to ponder as we dream about the role of KSA beyond Kroka:

  • What bonds together this community, which ranges from high school students fresh off of semester to those who have had up to sixteen years to metabolize the experience into one part of a life tapestry?
  • Right now, many of our routines are being destabilized by Covid-19. Even beyond Covid, the world seems increasingly unstable. It seems like a time to build networks of material and emotional support and mutual aid. It’s a time when many people could use community, even if it’s one they haven’t accessed in a while. What do you need in this moment? How can the alumni community support you? What role do you see the KSA and the alumni community playing as a mutual aid network?
  • Most of us are fairly privileged—we had at least enough access to wealth to afford a semester. Other communities with less privilege have been dealing with and fighting against systemic oppression, inequity, and instability for a long time. How can our community support those communities?
  • What else do you envision in your wildest dreams for this group?

I’ve got no real answers here, but maybe this will inspire some daydreaming or brainstorming. Keep in touch!

Love and Kasha,

Ari

PSA ABOUT THE KSA:

For those of you that became alumni in the two-ish years since the last newsletter, welcome! If you haven’t heard of the KSA (the Kroka Student Association), here’s the dealio: The KSA is basically all of us, those who have done a semester program or taught or just hung out at Kroka a bunch. It can be whatever we want it to be. In the past we’ve organized reunions, skillshares, and expeditions, put out this newsletter, and done a couple other things to keep alumni connected. There’s not much actively happening with it right now, but we’ve got an email list, and offers of support from Misha and co. It can really be whatever anyone wants to put into it. If you are feeling inspired to do something with the KSA, or you have an opportunity or idea you want to let alumni know about, you can contact Anna Soltys-Morse (VSP ’10) at annasoltysmorse@gmail.com.

KRAIGSLIST:

Emily Turner, VSP ’04:
FOR SALE
Supplies for gear repair or construction:
Have a project you are working on and need quality supplies? I made a bulk purchase and have extra to share— Gortex, ripstop, cordura, and other coated outdoor fabrics of all weights and colors. Really, all colors of the rainbow! Also tent tape, webbing, or buckles, heavy duty thread. Postage included in pricing:
Small quantity for patching, custom matched to your repair: $5-$10
Small flat rate box, stuffed and shipped for $20.
Medium flat rate box stuffed for $40.
Larger quantities negotiable on request. Also have smaller quantities (factory samples, many weights) of woolen fabric from a much-beloved woolies manufacturer formerly based in VT. Good for smaller projects (Increments of 1 yard or less). Call for pricing and availability. Call/text/email Emily (VSP ‘04) to choose color/ fabric weight and talk notions. 603-903-2432 or emsherwoodturner@yahoo.com.

Paul Pollaro, ESP 16:

Hello, My name is Paul Pollaro (ESP 2016). In the past couple years I have begun putting together the beginnings of a seed company whose name is actually inspired by my experiences during the semester. There is not much on the website at the moment in terms of actual seed varieties but the options are growing gradually! If anybody wants to check it out they can go to www.antisanaseeds.com and maybe buy a few packets that would be awesome. It will help me pay for some of the costs that go into it and ultimately offer a broader selection of seeds in the future. For what it’s worth, everything I offer is grown organically (although I am not USDA certified at the moment). Thanks, Paul

Ari Erlbaum, ESP ’07, VSP ’10:

I’ve got two totally unrelated things for the Kraigslist. You can contact me about either at 201-565-4793 or ari.erlbaum@gmail.com. First, a recommendation/offer for the Assessment of Prior Learning program at CCV: I just graduated college, and I think my degree path is something that would appeal to other Kroka people. I suspect there are other alumni like me who want some of the benefits of a college degree, but have a pretty low tolerance for classroom learning and don’t feel like going into lots of debt. With the Assessment of Prior Learning program at CCV, I created a portfolio and got credit for all my past experiences. I got 80 credits out of it—almost 3/4 of a bachelor’s degree done in one semester for the price of just one class! But if you do it, give me a call first! I am totally happy consult beforehand, and play some support team during the process. There were a bunch of things I wish I knew going in about how to maximize the credit you get and get specific credits that are useful if you go for a bachelor’s.

The second item:
Does anyone know of any good funding mechanisms for creative projects? I’ve got this fiction podcast idea that I’m super duper excited about (a supernatural horror podcast which morphs into a fantastical absurdist queer coming-of-age roadtrip dramedy). It’s developed enough to pitch and I’m working on writing it right now. But to make it right, I think I’m going to need to actually have some money to pay voice actors, co-collaborators, etc. etc. I’ve never been that good at the capitalism side of creative work, so any ideas, suggestions, or rich relatives with a thing for weird nerdy radical fiction podcasts would be welcome!

UPDATES:

Lauren Farnsworth, VSP ’09:

Lauren Farnsworth (VSP ’09) is living in Freeport, ME with her partner Keith and their two elderly barn cats and their young pup Wilma. She is enjoying the coast but still tries to get to the mountains for adventures whenever possible!

Shai Lev, VSP ’12:

Hi everyone! Greetings from Cleveland, where I have been working as a nurse, studying for my nurse practitioner degree, experimenting in the kitchen, spending as much time outside as possible, and Latin dancing. The past few months have allowed for extra time to play with food and ferments, observe the flowers as they start to bloom, and notice the sunrises and sunsets, as well as extra time to keep in touch with friends from all over the world. I am also transitioning to a new role as an emergency room nurse, and I’m excited! I would love to connect with old Kroka friends and new ones, so please reach out! You are always welcome here and to visit. Love to all, ~ Shai, ESP ‘12

The sunrise from work 🙂

Hannah Miller, ESP ’09, ’11, ’13, ’15 :

My partner Erick and I purchased a 57-foot wooden ketch (sailboat) named
Surprise this spring. Surprise was designed by F. Spaulding Dunbar and custom built in 1967 for a three-generational family to cruise the Bahamas. She has passed through many hands and owners throughout the years, but has been in the Eastern End of Long Island for the past 20 years. Along with our purchase of Surprise came the purchase of East End Charters, a sailing charter business out of Greenport, New York. We decided to stick with the business, and are currently operating private charters out of Greenport for the warm season. We live on the boat too, so it feels like hosting an ongoing house party, COVID-style. Check out our website (building it was one of my winter adventures): www.eastendcharters.com. It was a crazy spring to start this new venture, but thankfully the services we offer are exactly what New York families and small groups of friends are looking for: a safe getaway in the fresh air. We are doing well, working hard, staying healthy, and loving that our careers involve sailing on our home every day. If anyone finds themselves in the area, or want to check out Greenport (it’s a really cool part of Long Island – lots of farms and vineyards too!), you are all welcome to visit and meet Surprise. Our plan is to head to the Bahamas and other points South for the winter, and will be looking for some extra crew to help us get down there. 🙂 Be well everyone! -Hannah Miller, ESP ’09/’11/’13/’15

Oliver Mednick, VSP ’10, a lot of teaching:

Hannah Billian (ESP-a lot, WSP-a lot) and I have started a little leather big bag making business. It’s totally a side hustle, but we enjoy doing it. Green_Mountain_Dirtbags on the Instantaneous Photogram (instagram for short). Below are some photos of the things we’ve been creating recently.

Andy Staudinger, VSP ’06:

It’s been a busy time for me since our last newsletter! My fiancé and I moved back to VT last summer. We’ve planned a wedding, postponed a wedding, fine tuned our cabin in the woods, and both found work. I have just started my own business doing a mix of tree work, landscaping and carpentry, while Ashley will be working in the Orleans school district as an Occupation Therapist starting this fall.

Anna Soltys-Morse, VSP ’10:

I am back from Hong Kong, and now exploring the swamps and rivers of Florida by canoe! I spend a lot of time wondering if what I’m looking at is an alligator or not…

Rachel Hemond, VSP ’15:

Wow! So strange to be writing an update during a time that (in many ways) feels so stagnant – I’m pretty sure if you look up “anticlimactic” in the dictionary, there’s something in there about graduating college as the world shuts down for a global pandemic. But even though there have been some disappointments this past few months, I’ve been able to really live into the small joys of watching my garden bloom, going on long solo runs, and finally learning Spanish! I’m daydreaming of long backcountry expeditions, but will more realistically find myself working in a hospital in Boston for the next few years before medical school. Hoping that the rest of this community is finding strength and resilience in spite of this weird world, and feel free to say hi if you’re in the Boston area!
Much love,
Rachel, VSP ’15

Grant Hawkes, WSP ’17:

Hello Kroka Folks!
I send my greetings and love from beautiful Wales! I am currently serving as a volunteer missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and have been loving and serving the people of Wales and England for the past 10 months. I live in the beautiful countryside populated with plenty of foxes, sheep, and a few people as well.
We certainly live in unique times but I find peace in the beautiful countryside, the smiles of friends, my daily scripture study and herbal tea, and handwritten letters coming through the mail slot! I will be returning to good ol’ New England in the Fall of 2021 and look forward to catching up and carving spoons with you all soon! Cheers,
Grant Hawkes, Winter Semester 2017

Melody Brink, VSP ’10:

Hi everyone,
When I think about my time at Kroka and the work that’s been happening there for years, I feel so hopeful, so encouraged and inspired that such a program with such integrity as it does, exists in the world. Our world is thirsty for such programs, where young people can have access to skillsets, community, song, earth-based living and a chance to wonder, to live and thrive free of digital technology, especially when it seems our world is under the tight grip of digital technology’s influence.
I don’t have much to say about myself personally, as I’m trying to communicate as little as possible online, but I’d be happy to be in touch via letters, if anyone feels inspired to work with snail mail and to connect that way!

Melody Brink
Peredur Centre for the Arts
1 the cottage
West Hoathly Road
East Grinstead
West-Sussex
RH19-4NF
UK

I would like to share about a few initiatives that have grown and are taking flight, and that I have been connected to since my time at Kroka. Right after graduating from Kroka 10 years ago, I studied for a year at Free Columbia, based in Philmont NY. There I studied puppetry, painting and anthroposophy. The training that they offer has evolved over the year and very soon (on August 24th, in fact), they will be starting up a new program to which they’re still inviting students to join! If you have a look at the program and feel inspired, please do think about it, as I couldn’t Free Columbia and the teachers there enough! It’s called the M.C Richards Program. Here’s the link: https://www.freecolumbia.org/m-c-richards-program

By the way, I’m currently in Philmont, NY working on a puppet show with Nathaniel Williams- one of the founders of Free Columbia- and if any of you would like to come to the puppet show, it would be so wonderful to see you there! Check out the Free Columbia website for dates and reservations.

Another event that is coming up, which sounds exciting and juicy, and I know the organizers so I know it will be: https://nayouthsection.org. And another one that will follow right after and which I will be at: https://howwewillblog.wordpress.com.

Wishing you all a wonderful rest of your summer!
Warmly,
Melody

Elsbeth Pendleton-Wheeler ESP ’14

Hello From Cape Cod! I am one year post college graduation and am thoroughly enjoying the post-grad life. Last summer I went on a 12,000 mile road trip with my partner all around the US in our built out Tacoma. I then settled in at a farm job in Northampton through the winter and fall. This summer I was scheduled to go out to Wyoming to work on a ranch but because of Covid it was cancelled. So I found myself working on another farm in Woods Hole, MA and living with my sister and cousins. I also started a side granola business because I love making granola so much. So if you are looking to satisfy your not-too-sweet granola needs, hit me up. I am diving deep into the farming world and dreaming into starting my own farm one day soon. Love to all and hope everyone is finding moments of joy amidst it all. Elsbeth Pendleton-Wheeler ESP ’14

Cat and Andrew, VSP ’15

We are living in our yurt on our friends Low bush Blueberry Farm, The Benson Place. We’ve been burning the blueberry fields, milking goats and making tinctures. Andrew is timber framing and cutting down trees for work, and Cat spends time chasing around Aster (almost 2 ) who climbs the extension ladder to get to the barn roof, and directs the goats to go on the proper milk stand. Love to everyone!

Sonya Buglion Gluck, ESP ’13:

I just returned from the first week of my camp, Water Wanderings, on the Green River Reservoir. We have a new team of instructors this year and they’re awesome and I’m feeling very grateful.

Erica Georgaklis, ESP ’09 and VSP ’10:

Erica (ES ’09 and VS’10) lives near Port Townsend WA, works as a sailmaker, and chases around Leon Jay with her partner Chris. If you come visit I’ll take you sailing! Love and Kasha, Erica

Paul Lang, VSP ’10:

Hello fellow Krokites,
Not much new to report from my corner of the world, I’ve been enjoying a bounty from a little garden that we started this year and continuing to fix broken logging equipment.
Hope all is well, stay in touch! Paul Lang

HAIKU:

Oliver Mednick

Tough, in a world
of masks, to be the person
I most want to be

But the person I
Want to be is one who can
love you, in a mask

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Ari Erlbaum:

Here are some really great books I’ve read recently:

The View From Somewhere by Lewis Wallace. Lewis Wallace is a super rad journalist. Also a totally goofy accordion player. This is an incredible book that deconstructs the idea of objectivity in journalism. Standout quote: “Objectivity is the ideology of the status quo.” Highly recommended if you have any interest in journalism, or if you have ever read a news article. I wrote more about it here.

Finna by Nino Cipri. Absurdist queer anti-capitalist sci-fi! Low paid employees of a box store exploring wormholes without earning overtime! Carnivorous furniture! It’s hilarious and nerdy and I love this book.

Ancillary Justice, Ancillary Sword, and Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie. A sci-fi trilogy that throws you right into the middle of a fully realized universe. The main character used to be a spaceship. There are consciousnesses spread over many bodies across the galaxy. There’s lots of tea drinking. The first book bends your mind in crazy directions to understand the book’s world, then the second and third let you hang out there, drinking tea with good characters and starting people’s uprisings.

And here are some monster movies I enjoyed:

The Velocipastor. This movie is fantastic. I actually wrote a full-length review for a journalism class, you can read it here.

Gamera vs. Monster X. Japanese kaiju movies! Extremely cheap ones! Gamera is basically a ginormous fire-breathing turtle who also has rocket jets so he can fly. Highlights of this movie include: badly dubbed dialogue; sublimely cheesy music; Gamera being out of commission for a good portion of the movie because he got knocked upside down and couldn’t get back up again(!); totally believable dialogue; small children who cheer Gamera on from the sidelines like a sporting match, and even venture inside of Gamera’s body to play doctor when he gets paralyzed. It’s high art.

Andy Staudinger: Tool recommendation

The Echo “Timberwolf” chainsaw. I’ve had my Echo for about a year now and it’s the best all purpose saw I’ve ever had. I’ve cut 6 cords of firewood or more and use it 3-5 days a week for felling, limbing and pruning. Besides regular maintenance I have had zero issues. Best do everything saw for its price on the market.

Anna Soltys-Morse: Cool discoveries

The podcast from Pushkin called ” Cautionary Tales”, the other one also from Pushkin called “Revisionist History”, and lastly, the app called Libby from the Minuteman Library system for audiobooks and regular books that not even the Great Firewall of China could stop– it’s free, and it doesn’t have any algorithms meant to choose what to show you. I admire its simplicity.

That’s it for this newsletter! Catch y’all next time!