Sallyportal: Madly Blogging Reed

Fanfayre Jumpstarts Reunions 2014

Andy McLain ’92 (left) receives the Babson Award from Greg Byshenk ’89 on behalf of Meat Smoke Crew. Photo by Leah Nash

Reed alumni spanning five decades descended on Cerf amphitheatre last week for Fanfayre Friday, the start of weekend festivities for Reunions '14: Reedfayre, June 4-8. The mood was festive (possibly more than usual because the signature cocktail known as Plato’s Punch swirled among the celebrants). Greg Byshenk ’89, president of the alumni board of directors, took the microphone and bid people find their seats. From the start, he set the theme of Fanfayre as one of gratitude, thanking the volunteers and class leaders who had come together to organize Reunions.

Comedian Yoram Bauman ’95 was introduced as "the world’s first stand-up economist" and the author of the newly published The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change. Bauman launched into a polished comedy routine where he divided the crowd into various parts of the political spectrum and proceeded to rib the right and the left in turn. He poked at the Tea Party as people who “believe in social darwinism but don’t believe in Darwin,” but refused to make fun of the Occupy movement because “you are not allowed to make fun of the dead.”

The Babson Society Outstanding Volunteer Award was presented to Reed's own Meat Smoke Crew, the alumni group that has been hosting Renn Fayre feasts since 1985. Accepting the award on behalf of the crew, Andy McLain ’92 extoled the value of alumni-student interaction. Meat Smoke, he said, offered students the “comfort of a warm fire and the likelihood of a warm morsel.” Based on his experience, he reassured alumni that Reed students have not changed. “The kids are alright, I promise,” he said.

Physics Majors Build Musical Staircase

Allie Morgan ’14 and Anya Demko ’14 installed a series of lasers and phototransistors on the spiral staircase in Vollum, turning the steps into a giant, twisting keyboard spanning two octaves on a C major scale.

Allie Morgan ’14 and Anya Demko ’14 installed a series of lasers and phototransistors on the spiral staircase in Vollum, turning the steps into a giant, twisting keyboard spanning two octaves on a C major scale. Photo by Tom Humphrey

Pythagoras proposed the harmony of the spheres; Anya Demko ’14 and Allie Morgan ’14 built the harmony of the stairs.

In April, the two physics majors installed a series of lasers and phototransistors on the spiral staircase in Vollum, turning the steps into a giant, twisting keyboard spanning two octaves on a C major scale.

To play the keyboard, you jump from one tread to another. Each time your foot lands on a tread, it interrupts a laser beam, triggering a musical tone. Stepping nimbly down the staircase generates the synthetic jig of an ice cream truck. Charging back up sets off an avalanche of organ tones that sound like JS Bach clearing his throat.

The two seniors spent many hours designing the circuitry, constructing the hardware, and installing the lasers in Vollum. “It was really a great experience,” says Anya. “This was the first time we really got to design our own circuits.”

“Yes Man” Pulls Classic Prank at Reed Commencement

"Yes Man" Igor Vamos ’90 (center) flanked by student divestment advocates Salish Davis ’15 and Austin Weisgrau ’15.

Political prankster Igor Vamos ’90, member of the media-jamming duo the Yes Men, ran true to form Monday at commencement ceremonies at Reed.

Vamos, who plays the character Mike Bonanno in the Yes Men, is known for sophisticated political satire, in which he often impersonates industry or government officials and concocts mock websites.

His latest prank was directed squarely at his own alma mater, however. In the middle of his commencement address, Vamos announced that he had learned over breakfast that the college was about to divest its $500 million endowment from fossil fuels.

Prof. Peter Rock Wins Guggenheim

Reed College

SPELLBOUND. Creative writing prof Pete Rock wins Guggenheim to write a "fragmentary novel" titled Spells.

Peter Rock, professor of creative writing, has won a Guggenheim Fellowship to support work on his latest project, Spells. Known for the creative freedom they facilitate, Guggenheim awards are granted upon the basis of impressive achievement and exceptional promise for future accomplishment.

Spells is a fragmentary novel done in collaboration with five photographers. The idea came to Prof. Rock years ago while he was working as a security guard in an art museum. To pass the time, he would invent stories inspired by the artwork he was guarding. Examples of this project are found on his website.

Rock, who has taught creative writing in the English department at Reed since 2001, is the author of six novels, most recently The Shelter Cycle and My Abandonment, and a collection of stories, The Unsettling. His books have been translated into several languages, and his stories have appeared in magazines such as Zoetrope: All-Story, Tin House, Epoch, and Ploughshares; they have been anthologized widely. He attended Deep Springs College, received a BA in English from Yale University, and held a Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University. 

Sophomore Wins Poetry Prize

Reed College poetry prize

English major Hannah Fung-Weiner ’16 nabs the Mary Barnard Academy of American Poets Prize.

Congratulations to English major Hannah Fung-Weiner ’16, whose poem “Pact” won this year’s Mary Barnard Academy of American Poets Prize.

The Reed contest was judged by poet Paulann Peterson, a former Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, who has written six full-length collections of poetry, most recently Understory (Lost Horse Press 2013).

Fung-Weiner wrote “Pact” for her fall semester creative writing class with Prof. Samiya Bashir [creative writing 2012–]. “I was given this list of 10 nouns (brick, chair, artichoke, branch, pine, shrapnel, paper, avocado, corn, iguana) alongside a prompt for a love poem,” she says. “My first draft of 'Pact' contained each word; several iterations later, none survive.”

Reedies Nab PDX Tech Honors

Reed alumni tech startup

Switchboard founder Mara Zepeda ’02 brandishes the Demolicious Cup. She is now the third Reedie in a row to win the honor.

Switchboard founders Mara Zepeda ’02 and Sean Lerner ’10 just cemented Reed’s reputation for producing outstanding online entrepreneurs.

On April 6, Switchboard won the coveted Demolicious Cup, awarded to the startup that makes the most persuasive pitch at Demolicious, a sort of wildcat convention for Portland tech entrepreneurs that began in 2008 and is held at the Mission Theater.

Switchboard is now the third Reed-affiliated project to win the Demolicious Cup. Previously, Zach Babb '12 won for his work with Globe Sherpa, a public-transportation mobile-phone application, and William Henderson '08 won for Knock, an automatic password-entering app.

Walking in the Snow to Hear Gary Snyder


White “frass” fills the overpass air,

a new word from the Master,

living off the dew of pine needles,

Cooley Gallery Wins a Ford Family Foundation Facilities Grant

Against the Current from the Print Collection

Against the Current (1935) Luo Qingzhen

The Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery has been awarded a Ford Family Foundation Facilities Grant to create a functional print and drawings study room for use by Reed College faculty, students, and the regional community.

Reed’s prints and drawings collection currently resides in a room created in 1989 during the Hauser Library renovation, which included the construction of the Cooley Gallery. The grant will assist in replacing non-toxic wooden shelving with metal flat files, furniture, and upright bin-racks. This, in turn, will allow for careful handling of the objects in the collection by visitors.

The renovation will coincide with the anticipated completion of a digital inventory of the gallery’s works, created using museum-standard management software. Combining the digital search capability with the new more user-friendly storage will bring vitality to the collection for all those who interact with it.

Alumni Trounce Students in Ultimate Showdown

Alumni Frisbee Game

Bryson Uhrig-Fox ’10 knocks down the competition as he snatches the disc from students' awaiting grasp. Photos by Kimberly Durkin ’13

Experience and cunning overwhelmed youth and bravado two weeks ago as a team of alumni all-stars dominated Reed students 17-8 in an epic alumni-student Ultimate Frisbee game.

The upper soccer field outside the Naito-Sullivan dorms was spattered with a decade's worth of uniforms as lanky students in red huddled in one end zone to gather courage against the talent-laden alumni in black. Student team captains Sam May ’13, Daniel Dashevsky ’13, and Xander Harris ’16 rallied their players with jokes about alumni beer bellies. Alumni heavy hitters Bryson Uhrig-Fox ’10, Andrew Lynch ’12, and Shane Rubenfeld ’06 (who coaches the student team when he’s not playing against them) traded quips about the sleep-deprived students.

Reed Runners Vanquish Ultramarathon

Reed College student John Young Ultramarathon running

History major John Young '15 and bookstore manager Ueli Stadler glow triumphant after running an awe-inspiring 50 miles in the American River Ultra-marathon

Fifty miles.

Two runners.

A single goal.

Two Reed runners accomplished an incredible feat of endurance last weekend, running 50 miles in the American River Ultramarathon.

History major John Young ’15 crossed the finish line in 8:54:52, coming in 114th in a field of 823. John, who hails from The Dalles, Oregon, was the youngest runner to complete the race.

Reedie Wins Award for Work in Haiti

Sasha Kramer ’99 tests compost in Haiti with some enthusiastic volunteers.

Sasha Kramer ’99 has been named as one of the Social Entrepreneurs of the Year by the Schwab Foundation for her work on ecological sanitation in Haiti.

The Schwab Foundation, started by World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab and his wife, Hilde, defines social entrepreneurs as people who have an “unwavering belief in the innate capacity of all people to contribute meaningfully to economic and social development, a driving passion to make that happen, a practical but innovative stance to a social problem . . . and a healthy impatience.”

Kramer received the award for her work with SOIL, the nonprofit she cofounded and directs. Based in Haiti, SOIL deploys ecological sanitation (EcoSan) toilets to transform human waste into organic compost, which is desperately needed for Haiti’s rapidly depleting soil, thereby sustaining both agriculture and reforestation.

Sifting Through the Wreckage of Olde Reed

The Jefferson West, which housed Reed's first classes, is slated for demolition later this year.

The Jefferson West, which housed Reed's first classes, is slated for demolition later this year. Photos by Tom Humphrey

The drab brick building sits on the corner of Southwest 11th and Jefferson, empty and forlorn, its doors locked and its windows daubed with messages from its last tenant—a social-justice program run by students from Portland State University. Overshadowed by the sleek new towers to the east, it's the kind of building you'd walk past a thousand times without ever noticing it. Unimpressive as it seems, this building is Olde Reed, in the most literal sense.

We came to explore Reed’s first building before it is demolished to make way for a 15-story apartment tower, which will most likely be more glam­orous than the last vestige of the original campus. Our group consisted of Mike Tes­key, director of alumni & parent relations; Mandy Heaton, Tom Humphrey, Laurie Lindquist, Chris Lydgate ’90 (editor of Reed), and Kevin Myers from public affairs; Gay Walker ’69 and Mark Kuestner from the Hauser Library special collections; and your humble correspondent.

The superintendent let us inside the building now called Jefferson West. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I was greeted by the sight of broken mail­boxes and the musty smell of crumbling brick. The building has under­gone many transitions since it left the hands of William T. Foster and his 50 students. It was later home to the Cordova Hotel, the Mural Room, the Jazz Quarry, and an adult mov­ie theatre. The top floor includes 80 apart­ments which once provided living space for some of the city’s poorest residents.

Reed Canyon Featured on OPB Show

Reed students uproot implicit assumptions at Canyon Day. Photo by Eren Veziroglu ’16

OPB's popular series Oregon Field Guide focused on Reed's ongoing efforts to restore the canyon in its March 27, 2014 episode.

Crystal Springs Restoration” showcased the hard work and positive results that Reed has accomplished as the major steward of the purest water source in the Portland city limits. There is also a spotlight on the efforts downstream that make this ecosystem attractive to native salmon and brook lamprey, not to mention our resident otter! 

The show includes highlights of fall Canyon Day and interviews with Zac Perry, Reed's canyon restoration manager, who led the efforts that have made the once-neglected canyon a viable place for the support of wildlife and, moreover, a lure to bring salmon into an urban stream. “Hopefully this show will raise some understanding about the stream’s history, ecology, and the surrounding community,” he says.

Young Alumni Triumph in “March Madness” Tourney

Alumni dominated Reed’s annual March Madness basketball tournament last week as Just Blasé (composed of younger alumni) edged out the Has-Beens (older students) 30-26 in a hard-fought final match.

Now in its 26th year, the madcap single-elimination tournament features eight teams, composed of students, alumni, professors, and staff. Some players show considerable skill, others haven’t touched a ball in years. It’s not uncommon to see teams fielded by dorms, academic departments, the Ultimate Frisbee team, or the rugby team. The combination of wildly different levels of talent makes for exciting games, which progress from fun and sloppy to tense and skilled as the tournament moves into its final rounds.

There are some unique rules, too, that add elements of unpredictability to March Madness, including a running game clock, meaning that play is never stopped during the 12-minute halves, and the three-foul-limit per player, which requires any player who commits three fouls to leave the game immediately. This can cause teams to have to play with less than five players, if too many of their players foul out.

Reedie's Vermeer film has Portland premiere

Tim Jenison with one of the experimental optical devices he built.

Tim Jenison with one of the experimental optical devices he built. Photo by Shane F. Kelly, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

The luminescent quality of Johannes Vermeer’s paintings has astonished viewers for 350 years. How did he achieve such incredible photorealism a century and a half before photography was invented?

That’s the question that drives the film Tim’s Vermeer, released this spring by Sony Pictures Classics and a high point of the 37th Portland International Film Festival. The documentary focuses on a Texas inventor named Tim Jenison who is obsessed with figuring out—and duplicating—Vermeer’s secret techniques. The film has received numerous nominations and awards, including 2014 BAFTA nomination for best documentary. For Farley Ziegler ’84, who produced the film in collaboration with the magical duo Penn and Teller, the project represents the consummate synthesis of art and science. 

What Jenison knew of the use by Renaissance artists of optics and lenses—primarily the camera obscura—and the supposition that Vermeer also employed them, stemmed from his reading of David Hockney’s Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters and Philip Steadman’s Vermeer's Camera: Uncovering the Truth behind the Masterpieces. Details about Vermeer’s method and much of his life (1632–75) in Delft were left unrecorded.

Reed Gears Up for Hoops Tourney

Hoops frenzy is mounting at Reed in the run-up to the annual March Madness basketball tournament, which takes place in the sports center tomorrow.

The madcap tournament, which is open to students, professors, alumni, and staff, features high fashion, low humor, outright treachery, and—occasionally—actual basketball.

This year’s teams include several longstanding favorites. The House Daddies, captained by tournament founder Erik Brakstad ’89, includes several alumni from the ’80s and ’90s and is a perennial contender. They face stiff competition from last year’s winners, Just Blasé, captained by Jon Donehower ’04.

Reed's First Building Slated for Demolition

The building that housed Reed's original classrooms.

The unassuming brick building that housed Reed’s original classrooms is slated for demolition later this year, to be replaced by a gleaming 15-story apartment tower.

Located at the corner of Southwest 11th and Jefferson, the building was designed by noted architect Frederick Manson White and erected in 1911 by the Reed Institute on property donated by Simeon Reed. Here the first Reed students—24 women, 26 men—sweated over their studies under the baleful eye of the first professors (including the formidable President William T. Foster, who also taught English classes).

The developer, the Molasky Group of Las Vegas, Nevada, has purchased the building from the city of Portland and plans to build a 15-story tower with 196 market-rate residential apartments, 13,000 square feet of commercial space, underground parking, and a roof deck. It appears that the final design is still pending approval from the Portland Design Commission.

Charm School 101

Charm School, led by Tony Fisher ’80, introduces Reed students to the art of the interview. The event was part of Working Weekend ’14, put on by the Center for Life Beyond Reed.

Do you worry about what to wear for an interview? Do you hate speaking in public? Does the thought of writing your résumé give you hives?

Tony Fisher ’80 is your man.

Fisher hosted “Charm School” last Saturday as part of Working Weekend ’14, the pan-galactic career event put on by the Center For Life Beyond Reed. Charm School is a two-hour crash course Fisher designed to share his insights into the Dark Art of presenting yourself to the world.

Reed Runners Think on Their Feet

Reed runners beam at Heart Breaker run in Hillsboro. David Nichols

Reed’s scrappy band of self-propelled runners posted impressive results at the Heart Breaker Run in Hillsboro on Sunday, demonstrating once again that Reedies think on their feet.

Philosophy major Ki Choi ’17 blasted through the 5K in a scorching 19:40, coming in third in a field of 318. It was Ki’s first competitive run since suffering an injury last semester, and judging by his rapid recovery, he’s only going to get faster.

In the 10K, bio major Shannon Bacheller ’16 won her age division, crossing the line at 0:58:29.

Giant snowball batters Reed dorm

Reed College students, both math majors, roll giant snowball.

Runaway 800-lb snowball puts dent in Reed dorm. Math majors were involved in constructing the icy myriahedron. Photos by Reed College Community Safety Office

A giant runaway snowball crashed into a Reed dorm on Saturday evening, ripping a wall off its studs and narrowly missing a window. No one was injured in the collision.

College officials say the ball was some 40 inches in diameter and weighed from 800 to 900 pounds. “It was a big snowball,” says maintenance manager Steve Yeadon.

The episode started Saturday during a storm that dumped as much as 12 inches of snow on Portland. A couple of students decided to make a large snowball in the quadrangle formed by the Grove dorms, according to an incident report from the Community Safety Office. They rolled it back and forth across the Grove Quad in what must have at first seemed a Sisyphean undertaking. But as time went on, the frozen sphere (technically a myriahedron) picked up more and more snow, gained mass, and grew increasingly ponderous. Soon a rumor sprang up that the Doyle Owl was entombed in its icy heart (a report that had some historical resonance--in 2010, the Owl materialized in the Sallyport encased in a block of ice). By 8 p.m., a crowd had gathered in the Quad and was chanting “Roll it! Roll it!”

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