Heaven on Earth Day

DSCF1059Did you know Earth Day is the largest secular holiday on, you guessed it, “earth,” celebrated by more than a billion people every year? Well the Marlboro microcosm is no exception, and our mighty population of 300 some-odd students, faculty and staff, some of them odder than others, have been out in droves for the last week to celebrate the ol’ earth in one way or another. I mean, it started with Work Day, when people got out and enjoyed what felt like the first warm, sunny day since last August. They were all building benches and making tile walkways and cleaning up and weeding gardens and doing trail work and splitting rails and doing all kinds of down and earthy things.

vernalpoolBut that was just the beginning, the Big Bang, so to speak, of this particular Earth Day genesis. On Thursday there was a Sustainability Fair in the dining hall, and on Friday there was a mini-symposium on environmental initiatives called Expeditious Earthworks. Then on Sunday there were nature walks with the earthy folks from Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center, who led hapless hikers down the garden path and into the woods in search of porcupines and woodfrogs. Sunday night was the first half of the Wild and Scenic Film Festival, six scintillating films about wildlife conservation. The second half continued on Monday, with seven films focused on environmental activism that got the audience totally up in arms and ready to storm the Bastille, or at least Monsanto.

DSCF1313Also, the Food Committee chose Earth Day to “release into the wild” a huge collection of colorful mugs that they have been ferreting away from tag sales, flea markets and consignment shops. Seriously, the hope was that this new population of mugs would interbreed with the struggling native population, leading to a heartier hybrid variety of mugs that would be easier to find when one wants want a cup of tea. But perhaps the one thing that got people most in touch with their inner earthiness was on Monday afternoon, when politics professor Meg Mott brought in a bevy of baby goats to snuggle with. Studies have shown that “therapy goats” can lower blood pressure, heart rate and stress levels, and reduce levels of aggression. Judging by the number of students peacefully crowding into the little pen with the goats, cooing and laughing, plotting peace on earth, I’d say it works.

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Lights, Camera, Slither!

Screen Shot 2013-04-05 at 12.05.55 PMWith a foot and a half of snow still on the ground right now, it’s hard to believe that last March, I’m talking about a year ago, there was not enough snow to make a snow-cone and we were all basking in an epic heat wave. I was reminded of this last night at a screening of Joshua “Petey” Petersen’s documentary about the shooting of Northern Borders, the focus of the Movies from Marlboro program last spring. There was Willow O’Feral ’07 and other students and alumni from 15 colleges in the semester-long film intensive, dressed for summer and scraping little patches of snow into cardboard boxes to sprinkle around the scene, which was supposed to take place in the winter. It was just one of the many life-on-location lessons recorded in Petey’s fabulous documentary, along with slogging through mud, moving outhouses, scraping up chicken poop and, seriously, trying to get a cold, sluggish snake to respond to “lights, camera, action!”

northernBorderpixLast night’s screening at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center was just the first glimmer of the rolling out of Northern Borders, which has its world premiere at the Latchis Theater next Wednesday, April 10. Director and film professor Jay Craven was there to stir the citizens of Brattleboro into a frenzy of enthusiasm, talking about Movies from Marlboro as a transformative experience for students and the most satisfying production experience in his career. The Latchis showing will be the first of five Vermont premieres in as many days, which is just the kickoff for a 100-town tour of screenings and fundraisers across New England this summer. Really, what does Jay eat for breakfast, anyway?

MfM 12 Petey Behind the ScenesAlthough Petey couldn’t be there last night for his film screening, he sends his regards from New York—since graduating in December he has kept busy in music videos, narrative films and fashion photography, including being creative director at Universal Models for Peace. But Petey’s documentary is a totally awesome testament to the transformative power of, as Jay says, “watching films come alive,” not to mention the copious creative energy of Marlboro students like himself.

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