Whiteley Center 20th Anniversary . 2020


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Whiteley Morning Routine

by Toni Mirosevich

In the midst of all the uncertainty of this time, I’ve come up with a remedy for the mental twirling and worry that inevitably occurs after hearing the daily news. Every night I put myself to sleep by picturing myself back at Whiteley, following a morning routine I practiced during my residencies there. Here is that routine:

I awaken to the dark cottage, make coffee, sit at the table to drink it while looking out the windows at the trees and land that slopes down to the water. The view often includes a family of deer and once a black kit fox making its way through the tall grass. Then I shower, get dressed and head down to the dock. No one is stirring, the grounds are quiet. None of the day’s industries—the classes, the research, the meetings, have begun.

Upon reaching the dock I sign out a rowboat on the scheduling sheet in the little shed (departure time, return, destination) then select a life vest. Next I head to the oar rack outside, pick out two oars then make my way down the metal ramp to the rowboats, all lined up in a row on the lower dock, flipped over so their white spines showing. I choose one of the smaller rowboats, push it off the dock, watch its easy slide into the water and step in. With two strokes of the oars I am out in the harbor, leaving the dock and buildings behind me, heading out.

The harbor is almost lake like. Hardly a ripple disturbs the surface. There’s the sound of the oars dipping into the water, a screech of a hawk, a boat’s engine starting up in the distance. Mt. Baker is out, something we often said about Mount Rainier when we lived in Seattle. “The mountain’s out,” my wife would say as if the mountain decided that morning to step out from behind the veiled curtain of clouds to show itself, just to give us a thrill.

A few more strokes of the oars. I’m making headway, which is what I hope to do with my writing when I’m back at the cottage. The water is flat, glassy, undisturbed and then, there; a quick flash, pinprick of silver light, some tiny fish leaping out of the water. And then, everywhere, leaping and flashing just above the surface of the water, a morning light show. Tiny anchovies? Itsy salmon? Are they fingerlings? I didn’t know what kind of fish but my bet is that one of the students back at Whiteley will know.

I stop rowing and sit there in the rowboat, slowly rocking on the water. Up on the hillside a red fox is making its way down to the shore and high above an eagle skims the tops of the trees. The morning goes by, as the day will go by, as will my time at Whiteley. But I’m not worried as time is no longer important. I’ve entered some timeless world. These are the moments “before daily care strikes,” as the painter Agnes Martin once said.

Now, instead of waking up, I drop off. Sleep comes.

Whitely mornings were like this before the classes, before the labs started up, before the research and the writing in the cottage, before the pleasure boats raced out to seek their pleasure and the fishing boats returned from their rounds with their bounty. Each night I return to that small rowboat, those morning, the fingerlings.

I once wrote a poem entitled, “The Takeaway Bin,” with the last lines: “Get out of bed. The day lies before you, clean as a slate. It’s yours to write on.

Each night I change the words and say them quietly to myself. “Get into bed. The night lies before you, clean as a slate. It’s yours to dream on.”

Arthur Whiteley in front of the Center (c. 2013). photo by Kathleen Ballard

Tribute from Bill Talbott, Professor of Philosophy, University of Washington

This message is to express my gratitude to the Helen Riaboff Whiteley Center on its 20th Anniversary. I have been a regular visitor to the Whiteley Center since 2007. The Center is an invaluable resource for me because I am at least twice as productive when I am in residence at the Center than I am anywhere else.

I have written large parts of two books there. The first was Human Rights and Human Well-Being, published by Oxford University Press in 2010. There is a copy on the library shelf in the Whiteley Center Study. The second is Learning from Our Mistakes: Epistemology for the Real World. It will be published by Oxford University Press in 2021. I wrote almost half of it during a one-month stay in 2019 and I will make the final revisions to the manuscript during a two-week stay in September 2020. When the book is published, a copy will appear on the library shelf at the Center. I have also written parts of several papers at the Center.

Because I have been making almost annual pilgrimages to the Center since 2007, I have had the opportunity for conversations with Arthur Whiteley about his vision for the Center and its history. In addition, I have had the pleasure of working with the Center’s wonderful staff. And I have so enjoyed the opportunity to meet many fascinating scholars and artists and to discuss their work with them.

The Whiteley Center is a treasure for scholars and artists. May it live long and thrive!

This Town: Andrea Stolowitz

It was because of the community of scholars and artists at the Whiteley center and my engagement with the local open-water swimming community that I began to develop my interview-based model of story sharing as part of new play creation and development. My time at the Whiteley Center was foundational in terms of my work in community engaged theater.

Project Description in Words: “This Town” is now a finalist for a major national granting award through New England Foundation for the Arts. We will find out if we won in mid-septmeber. We were one of 28 finalists nationally for ten awards. Even to be a finalist for the NEFA creation and touring grant is a special honor.

Hand2Mouth ensemble was founded in Portland in 2003 with the idea that theatre that blends and upends forms and genres allows us to make powerful works that speak most directly to people today. Over the last 17 years H2M’s artistry has evolved as the ensemble adds new voices and welcomes more artists with differing lived experiences. We recognize the importance of speaking with, in, and through the voices of our artists' lives, and our communities' vision and concerns. This Town, our newest project, is our most ambitious and authentic manifestation of our ethos.

This Town is a devised work that takes Thornton Wilder’s iconic Our Town and reclaims it for the full range of our citizens. Working with our local Pacific Northwest community partners, who will be sharing their experiences to co-create an intimate portrayal of the unique landscape and complex demographics of the region we all call home. We will then carry this vision of the more open, humane society we wish to create to a national audience.

The starting point of this work was our collective despair at witnessing many Americans refusing to see that they are co-inhabitants of the same ‘town’. We are terrified watching many citizens - encouraged by our leaders who benefit from this false division- actively denying the unequal conditions many American’s live under daily.

This Town appeals directly to audiences to see and value the uniqueness of every life story in our community. The show uses a flexible ‘text template’ and participatory performance modes to live-gather the details of the lived experiences of the audience members. Each show will differ, working with the same framework, but taking the audience's personal responses from that particular gathered group, creating a singular new ‘town’ narrative nightly each evening.

This Town uses no text from the original play, instead it adopts two key elements: the “Stage Manager-as-narrator role” and the play’s structure, which moves through the passages of a human life. We follow two young neighbors as they go through 1) childhood & family life 2) coming of age & adulthood and 3) death & grieving, adhering to the structure of the original but replacing the text with the real lives of our ensemble, audience, and community partners.

This Town has democratized the Stage Manager. Instead of a singular voice playing the Stage Manager all the ensemble members will play the role, rotating how we are brought through key moments of the play. We will break the elemental play scenes into ‘universal’ human feelings (ie ‘a dream sacrificed for good of family’). During the show’s creation we will find contemporary prompts that rupture the old scenes to open an inclusive space for audience members to bring in their life details, which are then replayed by the ensemble in real time.

This Town makes space for all answers, fusing old forms with modern lives to create an intimate theatrical experience in which the audience see themselves in the other and the other in themselves. All life details that are shared nightly about family, love, death, will be welcomed as the real American canon of today.

Created by a blend of Hand2Mouth’s long-time devising ensemble, our newest members, and several ART Resident Artists, this team has been selected for their strong, unique theatre and life backgrounds, with a priority on Black, POC and women artists. In short, participants in this project are people whose stories the American theatre does not traditionally elevate. The process will be led by H2M’s Founding Artistic Director Jonathan Walters and Playwright Andrea Stolowitz.

Macfarlane Art Studio

Artist — Barbara Mutscheller

Twenty years ago Helen and Arthur Whiteley gave U of W, Friday Harbor Labs, Whiteley Center. It was their vision, to provide a retreat for scholars and artists to contemplate, create and write in a peaceful and quiet environment.

In October 2019, I was honored to be accepted for a month-long stay at the Whiteley Center to carry out my creative work. This creative work was a life size sculpture named Virago, meaning a woman of masculine strength or spirit. Her composition is a wire skeleton reinforced by a 5 ft metal rod, encased in fabric dipped cement. Positioned and fixed on a 45 inch metal base. Her design is stylized, three dimensional, vague in feature but distinguishable form, making it possible for women to identify with each other across national, racial and religious boundaries. The purpose for this sculpture is a declaration to women of the “Me Two” movement and denotes the fundamental change taking place for women of this earth.

As I took up residence in the Craftsman Style cottage and idyllic Macfarlane Art Studio I found that nature is integrated into the total design of both structures. I am reminded of the day as I closed up my studio and turned back to check all was off, and found a deer(a large buck) gazing into the window. A bit startled at first but calmed by his soft brown eyes, I felt perhaps he was just curious to see what I did each day.

Each day on campus brought contemplation of the scenery surrounding the campus, insight into my talent as an artist and inspiration from other HRWC visitors and scientists. Through shared dialogue, taking part in scientific experiments and attending lively lectures, my art work encompassed all of these parts. A time capsule with stories, artifacts and quotes collected from the above, was buried in the body of Virago to commemorate my journey.

“I once read that in a forest of a hundred thousand trees, no two leaves are alike. And no two journeys along the same path are alike” ~ Paulo Coelho, Aleph.

My path was filled with incredible natural beauty, and inspiration from deep rooted visions that live within the Whiteley Center. This fortunate journey helped me to bravely embrace new artistic mediums and crafts, emboldened my steps for future artistic endeavors and brought renewed strength to continue my dedication as a sculptor.

It is with a joyful heart that I thank Arthur and Helen Riaboff Whiteley for their gift to me…becoming a participant in their dream.

Poems by Sarah LaRue

Written at the Whiteley Center in 2019

Tribute from Whiteley Scholar - Ellen Gottheil

I would like to express my deepest appreciation to the Whiteley Center and to all the people who keep it running, for the opportunity to work here in 2019 and 2020. Coming here has been a uniquely valuable experience in my career. Last year my experience was tremendously enriched by the interactions with other scholars: firstly, a colleague from across the country with whom I had been collaborating before coming here. Being able to meet in person throughout the week was so beneficial for both of us. I also appreciated conversations with new colleagues I met at the Whiteley Center itself. Despite or perhaps because of the difference in disciplines, the conversations led to wonderful new perspectives.

This year, because of COVID, there was not the richness of interpersonal perspective, although I still Zoomed with my colleague across the country, grounded in North Carolina. But the physical environment itself is still a magical support for creative thought: the views of the water, the trails through the woods, the lovely architecture of the cabins: it all speaks to the soul and I got more work done here in this creative sanctuary in a week than I would at home in a month. Not only was I able to continue work on supporting physicians in the psychiatry department at the U.W. (additionally challenging now with COVID), but I was also able to create a first draft for a novel I am writing which is about psychiatrists suffering from burnout. Just living and breathing the air here is an inspiration for which I will be forever grateful.

Painting by Robyn Malcolm

May. 2016. oil on canvas. 30 cm x 40 cm

Ted Lefroy, Adjunct Professor Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture

Dear Kathy,

Please find attached a photo of a painting Robyn did of the path to our cottage while we were at the Whiteley Centre in May 2016 ...

We enjoyed our time there a great deal and it proved to be very productive for me. Here is a link to an 800 Word article, "New research turns Tasmanian Aboriginal history on its head. The results will help care for the land" featured in The Conversation summarising a research project that started with a grant application written at the Whiteley Center. There is a link in the article to a paper in the Journal of Biogeography describing the study in full. You are welcome to use this as well.

Kind regards, Ted

Nature beyond Solitude by John Seibert Farnsworth

Senior Lecturer in Environmental Studies and Sciences, Emeritus, Santa Clara University

I used my time at the Whitely Center to complete revisions on a book project, Nature Beyond Solitude: Notes from the Field. The book was published by the Comstock Publishing Associates imprint of Cornell University Press on March 15, 2020, the same week when bookstores went on lockdown in twenty-six states.

There is no better way to deal with revisions, especially the ones suggested by the snarky peer reviewer, than to step outside and breathe in the atmosphere of the Salish Sea. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to attend to revisions in such a restorative place.

Matt Gilligan

Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Marine and Environmental Sciences Savannah State University, Whiteley Scholar 2007

One of humanity’s most admirable characteristics, in my view, is our ability to see beyond the biases of our upbringing. When we clarify our perspectives by examining the tendency of dominant groups to promote mythical versions of history to preserve dominance over others, we are more likely to recognize and respect the dignity of every person and the principles upon which our nation was founded.

Though I suspected as much as a child, it truly revealed itself around 1959. When I was an awkward, introverted pre-teen with severe self-confidence issues, Mr. Lee Prettyman Jr., the Director of Aquatics at the Hartford, Connecticut YMCA taught me to swim (read taught me self worth and confidence at time when both were sorely lacking) and regaled us with stories of SCUBA diving on shipwrecks and encountering large sharks, moray eels and octopods. Years later, I found a feature article on the legendary SCUBA diving instructor and explorer in Ebony Magazine. As a swimming instructor, he would always single out those youngsters struggling the most (like me) during free swim for frentoring = friendship/mentoring. He wouldn’t let me sink or fail. He had my back. Being in and under the water became my escape - I felt buoyed and empowered by it. I’ll never forget the pain and anger that I saw in his eyes when some brat non-African American youngsters said something (perhaps the n-word?) that he heard. I hope he spent no extra energy with them. He was why I became a marine biologist and used SCUBA as a research tool. I would like to think that what I did with my life perhaps was a form a repayment in some small measure for what he did for me.

I reckon learning about the history and contributions of the victims and descendants of the diaspora is as important as anything in this country, and in the world, right now. Would Charles Darwin have wanted to travel to South America as the ship’s naturalist on the HMS Beagle if he had not heard stories of ecosystems and culture of south America from his taxidermy instructor at the University of Edinburgh, John Edmonstone, a former slave born and raised there? Would a sick Robert Peary have gotten to the North Pole and lived to take all the credit if Matthew Henson, the African American and only non-Inuit to master dog sledding, had not literally carried him there? I think not.

I hoped that telling my marine biology students about the triumph and tragedy of the life of Dr. E.E. Just would inspire them. I believe that it did because some of them would offer observations like ‘If he could do that then, I can do this now’.

Ernest Everett Just was born in Charleston, South Carolina in 1883. Mary Just, his mother, founded Maryville across the Ashley River and sent young Ernest north to get a proper education at Kimball Academy and Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. He excelled at both. After earning a doctorate degree, no major university in the U.S. would hire him because of his color. He was an early eco-developmental biologist who studied sea urchin egg development at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, Massachusetts in the summer. Most biology classes and courses still use his sea urchin development example in the development/embryology chapter and labs. Because he and his wife were rejected socially there, he engineered ways of working at marine laboratories in Europe where the egalitarian spirit existed and where high-achieving African Americans were celebrated. When Nazi Germany began dominating France, he was arrested and deported to the U.S. His spirit broken, he died of pancreatic cancer in 1941 at the age of 58. He had over 50 scientific publications including two books.

Higher education in the U.S. did not become significantly accessible to the non-wealthy and non-white in a significant way until the son of a New Hampshire blacksmith who could not afford college got wealthy and powerful as a businessman. Justin Morrill was elected to congress and sponsored First Morrill Land Grant Act of 1860 establishing the basis of federally-assisted agricultural and mechanical schools. A second in 1891 required southern states that denied access to public higher education to use some of the funding for the education of African Americans. The result was separate systems of higher education including the founding of Georgia State Industrial College in Savannah later to become Savannah State College and then Savannah State University.

History in general and what I learned in school specifically a youngster was not entirely what really happened. It was what those in power and control selected to be used in classrooms. That’s just the way it was. Though we have made progress in telling the whole story, for reasons all to clear and painful right now, the meager rate must increase and increase quickly. Our stories are who we are. The more we share them, the closer and stronger we become.

Gilligan, M.G., P. G. Verity, C. B. Cook, S. B. Cook, M. G. Booth, M. E. Frischer. 2007. Building a Diverse and Innovative Ocean Workforce through Collaboration and Partnerships that Integrate Research and Education: HBCUs and Marine Laboratories. Journal of Geoscience Education, v. 55, n. 6, December, 2007, p. 531-540. http://www.nagt.org/files/nagt/jge/abstracts/building_diverse_innovative_oc.pdf

Tribute from Andrew Gardner

University of Puget Sound, Professor of Anthropology,

The Whiteley Center has emerged as a pretty central feature of my scholarly existence. It may not seem so, considering that I’m only able to make it up to the Center for a short stint every year or so, but those times have been so very crucial to me and my productivity.

— In part, I think it’s the setting, and the solitude that’s readily available there. For me, time at the Whiteley Center has resulted in drafting numerous papers that I’ve published in the past five or six years. I’ll here list some of the most notable, to me, and briefly describe what they’re all about.

— “Reflections on the Role of Law in the Gulf Migration System,” published in the Journal of Legal Studies. Based on many years of fieldwork with transnational labor migrants in Qatar, in this paper I contend that Western-based critiques need to think more about the bureaucratic complexities of the legal system in Qatar, a state where nearly nine out of every ten residents is a foreign worker. In this paper, I hone in on the legal complexities that this demographic scenario produces.

—“The Journey to Arabia,” published in Anthropology Now. In this essay and collection of photographs, I provide readers with an overview of the migration system that shuttles tens of millions of men and women to the Arabian Peninsula for work. That journey begins, oftentimes, in the hinterlands of South Asia, and then involves labor brokers and manpower agencies in regional cities in the migrant-sending countries. Then the migrants board an airplane for their new, temporary home. Oftentimes that home is a dormitory-style labor camp, and life away from home can sometimes be difficult.

—“Imperial Diversity,” published in Areo Magazine. Based on my long fieldwork in Qatar, my employment in higher education, and my recent work with museums there, 1 In Qatar with my Bedouin friends, 2015. Tuesday, August 18, 2020 in this article I contend that the way that we Americans currently think about difference — what I call the diversity paradigm — is a paradigm that we’ve exported through our global dominance in higher education. While we might argue about whether this is a good or bad thing, for an anthropologist it’s always interesting to think about how values and ideas, as culture, are sometimes imposed on other ways of being in this world, and in this paper I contended that the scenario I describe should be thought about in that way. In retrospect, these assertions seem more apropos than ever.

Catherine Abbey Hodges

On a Fall 2016 sabbatical from full-time teaching at Porterville College in California’s San Joaquin Valley, I had an unforgettable month-long residency and have been pining to return every since. During that beautiful and intensely productive month, I wrote and revised a number of the poems that together form the core of my second book of poems, Raft of Days (Gunpowder Press, 2017).

Raft of Days opens with this poem that captures something of my experience:

Tribute fromLisa Richards

The residency I was privileged to both enjoy and benefit from at the Helen Riaboff Whiteley Center was a magical, unforgettable time which allowed me to go deeply into my writing of a memoir, and to connect meaningfully with scholars, artists and scientists ensconsed in their own projects.

The grounds of FHL are serene and lovely. I took many peaceful walks during my stay there, and had the opportunity to appreciate exquisite wildlife. Communing with nature allowed me to reconnect with my own essential nature. Only from my ability to reconnect with my essential nature, beyond personality and ego, could the telling of my story ever be possible.

The Whitely Center has established itself as an inviting, invigorating place where the journey into the self will continue to guide creative thinkers towards a myriad of scholarly and creative works both educative and enriching. It is a hub of thought leadership, an infusion of light for souls weary of life’s daily treadmills, and an invitation to remember the importance of using our voices for the good of all.

I am profoundly grateful for the Whiteley Center’s investment in my work.

~Lisa Richards, L.C.S.W., B.C.D.

Poem by Moira Linehan

From her third collection of poetry, Toward (Slant Books, 2020). First published in Nimrod International Journal.

Tribute from Gerald Baldesty

On the 20th Anniversary of the Helen Riaboff Whiteley Center

For 20 years, the Helen Riaboff Whiteley Center has provided an environment for thinking, research, writing and scholarly collaboration for scholars at the University of Washington and other universities. I’m fortunate to be one of the many scholars who have benefited from Arthur Whiteley’s remarkable vision in making the Center such a vibrant part of the University of Washington and of Friday Harbor Labs.

More than anything, the Whiteley Center provides a place for uninterrupted thinking and writing. The Center is distant from busy jobs and routines. Such solitude limits distractions and enhances concentration. On more than occasion, I arrived at the Center with a pile of books and a big bundle of notes. By the time I left, a week or two later, I had done much to pull that raw research together. I was always surprised by – and grateful for -- how far I could get in my writing while at the Center!

Gerald J. Baldasty, Professor Emeritus Communication. UW Provost and Executive Vice President, Emeritus