Twenty-six Hobart and William Smith students were published in Orion Magazine. The pieces were submitted to the magazine’s “The Place Where You Live” feature as an assignment for Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Joel Helfrich’s class, “Sense of Place and Environmental Consciousness,” and appear on the magazine’s website.
“I was extremely excited to find out that I was published. It makes me feel as if my words are important,” says sophomore Lindsay Davis. “Now that I know I am capable of being published, I will definitely submit other pieces. I’ve learned that you can surprise yourself with your own writing abilities.”
Helfrich assigned the writing project as a way to help students think about their hometown in a new way as well as to encourage them to try something new-in this case, writing for a publication. He credits the late Professor of English Deborah Tall with inspiring the topic, which she used to assign to students in her “Sense of Place” course.
“I hope that students will realize that their thoughts, words, arguments, opinions and actions can have an impact, first on themselves (writing as a way to work out personal and intellectual problems) and second on the people who read and think about their writings,” says Helfrich, who has previously taught at Rochester Institute of Technology and University of Rochester. “I obviously want students to improve the ways in which they communicate.”
By way of example, Helfrich also submitted two of his own pieces to Orion, Of Rochester, New York: A Place of Flour and Flowers and On An Isolated Mountaintop in Arizona, the latter written from the perspective of a Mount Graham red squirrel.
The assignment has already made a huge impact on Helfrich’s students, encouraging them to continue writing and submitting their work. In addition to her piece in Orion Magazine, Kaytlynn Lynch ’15 also had a letter to the editor about the negative effects of hydrofracking published in The Oneida Daily Dispatch, and Marshall Keeton ’14 had an op-ed piece published in the Finger Lakes Times.
“I never thought that, as an undergraduate student, I would get published. It’s such a great feeling,” says Lynch. “Within about a month I have had two pieces published, and it is a great feeling. I cannot wait to write more about the environment.”
Founded in 1982, Orion Magazine is a bimonthly magazine focused on nature, culture, and place. According to the publication’s website, the magazine “lies at the nexus of ecology and the human experience.” Orion won the Utne Independent Press Award for General Excellence in 2004 and 2010, and it was a finalist for a 2010 National Magazine Award in the Essay category.
Read more about the students’ Orion Magazine entries below:
Meg Anderson ’16 remembered getting lost in the woods of Westfield, New Jersey. “On occasion I go back into the woods and try to get lost in them like I did when I was younger, but now it seems so small,” wrote Anderson, who plays club field hockey. “I wonder how I ever got lost in the first place.”
Davis reflected on the community in her hometown of Wayland, Massachusetts. “Being in Wayland is like being at a never-ending giant family reunion,” she wrote. “You have to do your part and be active in the town so that you can fully enjoy the amazing community it has.”
The sights, sounds and smells of Staten Island, New York are the subject of a submission by Elliott DeGuilme ’15. “From my bedroom, I look out of the southeast-facing window where I not only see the Verrazano Bridge but, if I look closely enough on a winter night, I can see traffic lights more than two miles away in Brooklyn,” he wrote.
Carlen Deskin ’15 reflected on how people make a home in 11 Edwards St, Guilford, Connecticut. “I have always struggled with the idea of home,” she admitted. “For me I’ve always been very lucky to have so many options of what I could really call home.”
Kaiya DiPippo ’16 wrote about her lifelong relationship with the sea in The Ocean State, Rhode Island. “I’ve lived in the Ocean State all my life, so I have very few memories that do not have to do with the ocean,” explains the budding musician. “It is the one true thing that defines not only my hometown or my state but also me.”
Nick Faiello ’15 wrote about experiencing Liverpool, New York with his eyes closed. “It is clear to me that Liverpool is, and always will be, my true home,” wrote Faiello, a member of the Hobart rowing team. “I can see it everywhere I go in town.”
Looking around and appreciating Oquossoc, Maine is the subject of a piece by Katrina Goddard ’16. “I see the sun shining off the lake, I can see our property in the distance, and there is a magical feeling of peace that I have never felt anywhere else,” she wrote of her favorite mountaintop. “At this moment nothing else in the world seems to matter to me.
Maxwell Gorton ’16 wrote about the sense of community in his hometown of Dundee, New York. “Dundee is a place in which your character counts more than your bank account or even your level of intelligence,” wrote Gorton, a member of the Hobart football team.
The many different cultural landmarks in Syracuse, N.Y., are the subject of “Syracuse, New York” by Tim Griffin ’16. “Heids Restaurant established in 1917 is another historical landmark that helps put Syracuse on the map,” wrote Griffin, a member of the rowing team. “I think of Heids as not just a restaurant but a memory of my brothers and me laughing together on many hot, humid summer nights.”
Katie Hill ’15 submitted a piece about her home on the sea wall titled Marion, Massachusetts. “Standing at the edge of the water I can smell the salt in the air and the distinct fishy smell that the ocean has,” wrote the Heron squash player. “Whenever I’m at the sea wall, I am home.”
Caitlin Howard ’15 wrote about the comforts of home in her piece, Warrenton, Virginia. “Warrenton is not just another exit off the highway,” explained the Heron soccer standout. “But a town that welcomes people with a friendly face, a solid handshake.”
Quincey Johnson ’16 submitted a piece about her hometown of Keene, New Hampshire. “I can’t remember my first impression of Keene because it occurred long before I can recall memories at all,” she wrote. “I am proud to be from a city with such a strong sense of community.”
Andrew Kane ’16 shared his deep belief in the importance of “a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect” in Sherrill, New York. I believe if everyone was raised in such a close-knit community, more people would have the ability to trust others, and the world would be a safer place,” wrote Kane, a member of the Hobart cross country team.
Britt Lebaron-Brien ’16 remembered a run through her hometown of Norwich, Vermont. The morning I left for college I went on one last run through my rural little neighborhood and I realized how much I was going to miss this place,” wrote Lebaron-Brien, a member of the club field hockey team. “I ran down the gravel-covered rolling hills.”
Nature in all of its boundless beauty is the subject of Oneida, NY by Lynch. “My yard is designated a National Wildlife Foundation Yard,” she wrote. “No matter how small, each form of life that the natural environment nurtures is worth taking the time to stop for a moment, and study.”
Andrew Monte ’15 wrote Buffalo, New York about the struggles of being a Buffalonian. “It is not the snow or the small downtown that defines Buffalo; it is the people. No matter where I live for the rest of my life, I will always be a Buffalonian,” he asserted.
Genevieve Moralez ’15 shared memories of her green patch of home in Harlem, New York. “A sweet fragrance of freshly cut grass lingers in the air,” she wrote in the piece that appeared in the magazine’s March/April print issue. “This is my dose of home away from home.”
Roue Nutter ’16 explored the wilderness of Massachusetts in A Little Place of My Own. “On most days after a long day surrounded by walls I would get home and go lie in a hammock I set up in the woods,” explained the Hobart student.
Jason Raymond ’16 reflected on his home on the water in The Cottage. “My family stumbled upon this little chunk of heaven ninety years ago,” he wrote. “Few people have experienced the total disconnect from the world until they reached this place. This is my home.”
Zach Reed ’15 reflected on his summer home on Keuka Lake, New York. “There is no better feeling than being on Keuka Lake,” explained Reed, an attack and mid-fieldsmen on the Hobart lacrosse team. “Ever since I can remember, I have been on this wonderful body of water.”
Michael Rosato ’16 wrote about the history of fermentation in Geneva, New York. “Since Seneca Lake never freezes it can hold heat well into the winter months, creating what experts call a Micro-Climate,” he wrote. “This Micro-Climate keeps the area temperate which is perfect for grapes.”
Carly Simmons ’16 considered her roots, which are deeply connected to her family home in Canandaigua, New York. “My roots run deep through multiple generations,” wrote Simmons. “Family, friends, and neighbors have all contributed to my sense of place.”
Olivia Todd ’15 contemplated the importance of the natural environment in Fleischmanns, New York. “This place has molded me into the person I am today, watched me grow, fostered my creativity and learning, and taught me the importance of appreciating your natural surroundings,” she wrote.
Amy Tsacoyeanes ’15 shared a glimpse into her private world in Avon, Connecticut. “My brother and I jokingly call it our territory, which is ironic seeing as the 100 acres of untouched woods behind our house isn’t our’s at all,” she began.
Laina Zissu ’16 finds her sense of place in Bernardsville, New Jersey. “My sense of place is my hometown. The town I have lived in since I was six months old,” she wrote. “Bernardsville, New Jersey, has a small town charm to it that could never be replaced.”
For Alex Gatch ’16, home is a town located in a small bend in the road between Trumansburg and Ithaca, NY. “Home is not a bustling city, an over populated suburb, or a gated community. My home is a quiet speck on the map where corn is knee high by the fourth of July and where trees out number people. Jacksonville, NY, is where I call home,” he wrote.
The photo above features Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Joel Helfrich teaching class in Emerson Hall.