Wesleyan students will have the opportunity to learn collaborative filmmaking skills before being transported to a metaphoric desert island with nothing but a camera phone and a song when award-winning independent filmmaker Michael Pope and singer-musician-writer Amanda Palmer ’98 team up for a new course this fall: The Art of Doing: Creative Project Production and Making It Happen. The studio class, which will be limited to 15 students, will focus on non-traditional video production techniques resulting in a class-created video featuring music and performance by Palmer.
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Noah Hamlish ’16 is one of five delegates representing the U.S. in this year’s Youth Ag-Summit in Brussels. Organized by Crop Science, the summit is a weeklong event that connects youth leaders from 49 countries to brainstorm ideas for agricultural sustainability and tackle global food security issues.
In a feature article in Agrinews, Hamlish recounts the experiences that have spurred his interest in food challenges and farming innovation:
He is a graduate of Wesleyan University and has a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology.
“I’m a city boy through and through, but when I got to college, I started to focus a lot on food science and aquatic systems,” he explained. “I am interested in fish and seafood, where they come from, how we produce them and the science that goes along with it.”
Composer and musician Simon Riker ’14 showcased the original musical comedy Me Prometheus: Caveman Love Story at this year’s NY Summerfest Theatre Festival over the weekend. Conceived by Riker in 2010 and written in collaboration with friend Emerson Sieverts, the absurd full-length show about the prehistoric discovery of fire was produced first at Wesleyan and again at William and Mary. This summer, Me Prometheus appeared in its third live iteration with four sold-out shows on the New York Theatre Festival stage.
In an article for the Times Square Chronicles, Riker is described as a “composer, music director, singer, and keyboardist.” He developed his interest in music at a young age and continued to hone his skills as an undergrad:
by Cynthia Rockwell •
Adweek named Michele Roberts ’77, executive director—and first female leader—of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), to its “30 Most Powerful Women in Sports” list, which features outstanding executives, athletes and journalists, among others.
Previously an attorney with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, Roberts began her career as a public defender in Washington, D.C. In the June 26 article, Adweek’s Tim Baysinger noted that Roberts would be negotiating across the table from league commissioner Adam Silver when the two worked on a new collective bargaining agreement—and Roberts would be trying to avoid a lockout, something her two predecessors were not able to do. A government major at Wesleyan, Roberts earned her JD from the University of California at Berkeley.
The negotiations now completed, Roberts noted, “The deal we worked out with the league contained a number of favorable provisions for our players, including a 45 percent across-the-board salary increase for those players whose salaries are pre-set. And, no lockout!”
In 2015, Roberts spoke at Wesleyan’s Dwight L. Greene Symposium about her role with the players union and her deep commitment to the men she was representing: “Maybe it is okay for a professional athlete to be as politically apathetic as anyone else; they have the right not to care,” Roberts said. “But when I saw my guys wearing those ‘I can’t breathe’ t-shirts, I could not have been more proud.… We will defend to the death the right of our players to comment on political issues as they see fit as long as they don’t violate any laws.”
by Cynthia Rockwell •
Ben Oppenheim ’02, a consulting scientist with Metabiota, a start-up focusing on epidemiological modeling and epidemic risk preparedness, was recently invited to participate in a workshop at the National Academy of Medicine. As a result, Oppenheim and his colleagues wrote an article published in Lancet Global Health titled “Financing of International Collective Action for Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness,” based on these meetings. Also writing for the Brookings Institution, Oppenheim further explored the challenges of responding to global outbreaks, offering a four-point plan to protect the global poor during pandemics, with co-author Gavin Yamey.
“Post-Ebola and Zika, there’s been increasing worry—and debate—about how to prepare for epidemics and pandemics that threaten global health,” notes Oppenheim, who is also a senior fellow and visiting scholar at New York University’s Center on International Cooperation. “Cracking the problem means thinking through the ways that policy, economics, health, and other factors all intertwine. In the workshop, we were thinking about how to build incentives to improve disease surveillance and outbreak detection, as well as how to improve the legal and economic architecture to speed up the development of vaccines and therapeutics. All of this demands attention to everything from epidemiology, to financing, and to politics.”
Oppenheim also discussed the economic impacts of pandemics,
David Lubell ’98, founder and executive director of Welcoming America, was recently named the 2017 recipient of the prestigious Charles Bronfman Prize, which “recognizes young humanitarians whose work is inspired by their Jewish values and is of universal benefit to all people.”
Welcoming America is a non-profit organization that helps communities across the United States become inclusive to immigrants and refugees. Created in 2009, the organization has developed an award-winning social entrepreneurship model, using a local approach to ease tensions and build understanding between new and long-time residents. As rapid demographic shifts are changing communities, Lubell’s nationwide network helps newcomers of various backgrounds to fully participate alongside their neighbors – socially, civically and economically.
”As a Jewish American, nothing could make me feel more connected to my values, and to my history, than working to welcome immigrants and refugees to this country,” Lubell says on the Bronfman Prize website. “One of Judaism’s central teachings is to ‘welcome the stranger,’ to offer shelter to those in need and to accept those who we perceive to be different from us.”
by Cynthia Rockwell •
Laura Walker ’79, P’21, president and CEO of New York Public Radio, was named to Crain’s Most Powerful Women list for 2017.
“Presiding over the largest public radio station group in the U.S., Laura Walker reaches 26 million listeners every month through the eight stations in her WNYC portfolio,” Crain’s Matthew Flamm wrote. “Dependent on grants and listener contributions—Walker has grown revenue by 68% over the past decade—WNYC has the freedom to explore sensitive issues on air and on demand.”
Brooklyn rapper Latasha Alcindor ’10, also informally known as LA, is following up the release of her debut album B(LA)K. with her newest project, Teen Nite at Empire. The project is named for the Empire Rolling Skating Center, a former nightlife venue in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood, which closed its doors in 2007 due to increasing gentrification in the area. As described on her Bandcamp––where audiences can listen to and purchase the album––it is dedicated to “the around the way ones, 2 for $5 bootlegs and realizing freedom.” Having grown up frequenting and coming of age at Empire’s regularly hosted Teen Night, Alcindor uses music as a platform to remember and resurrect the culture that has been pushed out.
In a recent interview with Noisey, Alcindor discusses the significance of Empire to her experiences as a Caribbean-American teenager coming up in ’90s Brooklyn:
Renowned conceptual artist Glenn Ligon ’82 recently curated an exhibition titled Blue Black for the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis, Missouri. The group show, which had its opening day on June 9, was inspired by the Pulitzer’s permanent installation of Blue Black, a wall sculpture by Ellsworth Kelly. In Ligon’s take on the variety of meanings and uses of these two colors, he explores the combination as a means to raise nuanced questions about race, history, identity and memory. Choosing works that respond to the theme of the blues in open-ended ways, he draws numerous points of connection among a diverse selection of more than 40 pieces, ranging from Abstract Expressionism and portraiture to African and American folk art.
The show features work from artists including Norman Lewis, Andy Warhol, Kerry James Marshall and Carrie Mae Weems, and also includes well-known works by Ligon himself. While he initially traveled to St. Louis intending to propose his own solo exhibition, Ligon spoke to The New York Times about how the visit lead him to take the project in a new direction:
by Cynthia Rockwell •
Joshua Dubler ’97, assistant professor of religion at the University of Rochester, is one of 33 national recipients of a 2016 Carnegie Award. With this fellowship, Dubler is studying prison abolition. His book manuscript, Break Every Yoke: Religion, Justice, and the End of Mass Incarceration, presents abolitionist logic to make the case. Co-authored with Vincent Lloyd, it explores the ways that religion has underwritten and sustained mass incarceration. Currently under peer review, it has an expected publication date of 2018.
While an advocate of both ending mass incarceration and offering educational programs for those imprisoned, Dubler is seeking something further than these revisions to our current system—a true revisiting of the concept of prison.
“Right now, our vision of bringing people to justice is to put them in cages,” he says “That’s a really impoverished notion of justice. It doesn’t serve the person who has been convicted of the crime, does very little for the person who is the victim of the crime, and it perpetuates the destruction of the community. Abolitionists are looking to reconceptualize how it is that we do justice.”
by Cynthia Rockwell •
On June 12, Bowery Residents’ Committee (BRC), one of New York City’s largest providers of housing and services for homeless adults, honored longtime BRC board member Richard Swanson ’77 at the organization’s seventh annual gala. Swanson, a trustee of BRC, is managing director and the general counsel of York Capital Management, as well as a member of the firm’s executive, operating and valuation committees.
On the BRC website, Swanson explains his decision to join the board as his effort “to be able to give something back to the City of New York, which has treated me so well over my legal career.… We all have a responsibility to our fellow citizens who are less fortunate than ourselves.”
Multimedia artists Aditi Natasha Kini ’13 MALS ’16 and Hanna Edizel ’14 recently premiered the music video for “Park Slope,” a song from rapper, producer and 2010 Wesleyan alumnus OHYUNG. The co-directors were joined by cinematographer Neo Sora ’14 and actor Stephen Acerra ’12 in creating an absurdist accompaniment to OHYUNG’s record, which parodies Brooklyn gentrification and the “lifestyle” it sponsors for white gentrifiers.
Focusing on Park Slope, one of New York City’s most affluent neighborhoods, OHYUNG and his collaborators enter into a larger citywide and national dialogue about the ever-growing problem of gentrification. As Kini explains in an interview with Brokelyn, “Park Slope is a petri dish for everything bad that’s happening in New York.”