My university journey in general, and Evergreen college time specifically, had many starts and stops taking in total from 1987 at Utah Technical/Valley Community College to 2004 graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Inter-disciplinarian studies at Evergreen in Olympia, WA.
Digression: While there are times I regret not having an “usual” university experience which I had anticipated being an “outstanding student” during much of my school time, there are some advantages of being a non-traditional student of having more diversity of age and background and expectation in the classes.
Anyway, along this journey, my pal Jay Stewart and I restarted Evergreen doing a class (something about Global Management and Leadership) which was held in-person on Olympia campus one complete weekend a month, with online work filling the time between.
[Noting: this was “early days” online learning which was an interesting thing to observe. Plus, the comprehensive weekends allowed you to do a lot of group work in a short period of time.]
Yeah, Evergreen in particular is particularly in love with “group work” and we had various group projects, some of which we could choose our group and some we were assigned a group… Ostensibly to teach us to work with people we weren’t necessarily familiar with or whatever.
Now, my usual inclination is to be that “person who drags everyone with them and makes a fun community out of the whole thing” but I was determined not to do that but, sort of ended up that way as much of the group floundered and spent more time talking about “why they couldn’t do things” than they did actually doing anything, and spinning useless energy on deciding when and how we would meet to talk about how and when we would do things. Generally very frustrating.
On the day of the presentation, some members went completely off script thinking that they were so fucking brilliant and loquacious they should just change everything on the fly because they were super good and a 10th grade debate class or something and I was fantastically unimpressed. (hey look i was learning!)
Our presentation with something about reforming labour laws in sweatshops or building up unions in emerging economies or promoting economies while protecting environment… something like that. So, I wrote a couple of plays (note to self: find these plays and publish them) set in a Central Asian, post-Soviet country (called Stanastan in the finished work) and did my favourite sorta arts-and-crafts part of making giant backdrops on refrigerator boxes with powder tempura paint. They were spectacular – ha!
I was so frustrated at the end of the talk that the prop some cells were left for custodians or late night ravers to dispose of, but in going through old notebooks, I found some sketches of my mock-ups.
Of course the finished works were even more majestic :) and interesting but looking at them brought back the flashback of just dealing with a bunch of hangers-on in the group. Probably a bad thing that that’s my memory but there were some other part of the class I enjoyed I suppose,…
I remember a presentation about poet-dissident-president Vaclav Havel and the frequent requirement of public speaking in the class (obviously) was a benefit for me. Plus hanging out with Jay during our clandestine lunches was cool.
As it goes, I went on to do some more of these kind of weekend classes, in some cases, going out to the Aberdeen campus studying legal/judicial systems, economies and privacy with a notion to go to law school which fortunately, did not pan out.
Project: Upon turning 50 years old on August 16, 2020, Dave Olson (me, hello) is posting a photo (or maybe photos) a day / per year – starting with 1970 with intent of chronicling existence through various primary evidence sourced from studio portraits, class photos, ID / passport photos, or occasionally other “casual/group/random” shots when the above don’t exist in my archive (note: not “artificial intelligence,” really me, pulled from shoeboxes, journals, wallets and whatnot – diligently scanned and dated via glasses and haircuts, lightly annotated).
The somewhat infamous Evergreen State College, where i earned my hard-fought degree, is often awarded magazine accolades to balance out the complaints and punchlines which appear in equal amounts -especially in Washington State. Despite the positivity of the article, the Greener PR folks never did utilize the High Times award of Top Counter Culture College award. Though there *was* some public and legislative backlash and whining, I contend that the HT article did more to increase applications from wide-open thinkers that make Evergreen unique than the vanilla US News or Seventeen magazine pablum which attracts lemmings (lemmings do not actually commit mass suicide BTW, the running off cliff thing is an urban legend propagated by none other than the Disney cartel). Anyhow, here’s some self-aggrandizing and safe coverage as skimmed/copied from Business Examiner (a newspaper covering south Puget Sound commerce etc.) obviously almost verbatim from the college’s official press release. Feel good everyone, feel good and pay up while Evergreen waters down. Evergreen: top college for learning, participation
The Evergreen State College in Olympia is one of the nation’s most academically challenging school, and a top college for the level of active and collaborative learning for students, according to a national study released yesterday.
The study, founded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, said Evergreen students develop top abilities in analyzing theories and ideas and spend more time preparing for classes and reading textbooks. Evergreen students also spend more time making class presentations and working with other students on projects than most of the nation’s college students. Evergreen freshman and seniors cite the quality of interaction with faculty members and other students and the campus physical environment as keys to their success.
Unlike many other college ranking systems, the annual study focuses on putting more emphasis into successful student learning and high quality research. In September, a federal Higher Education Commission directed that colleges and universities should be measured by such student learning outcomes. Some 260,000 college students at 523 U.S. universities participated in the survey.
Founded in 1967 as an alternative to traditional education, Evergreen is a top example of interdisciplinary education in America. Academic studies are organized into interdisciplinary learning communities focused on specific themes with real-world relevance. Evergreen was recently featured as one of only two public colleges in the book “Colleges That Changes Lives.,” and named as a “College that is doing good for the nation” by the Washington Monthly political magazine.