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Fresh Blood

I’m old. Some days I’m especially tired. And on some of those days I’m ready to pack it in. Happily, they pass and life goes on—at least mine does for at least a little longer. Today was an especially good one and I need to set it down here as a reminder when things turn south.

Matthew Kirkwood asked if the faculty would speak to the ENVD 101 class, our introduction to environment design taken by prospective students in architecture and landscape architecture, as well as university-wide seekers of an off beat elective. I may be the only faculty who “bit” and wanted to record the experience here, just in case one of the “audience” should happen by.

I could have presented any one of three current research interests — William Halsey Wood; Building the Social Gospel (a.k.a. the Akron-Auditorium Plan); or Tangent Lives, the story of Dakota’s early Episcopal church buildings — but why burden them with more arcane information on the forgotten buildings of second-string practitioners. I fear any of those topics would have induced “nap time” at a wholesale level. So, as you might guess, Agincourt was my preferred topic, for which I updated, edited and otherwise improved a power point presentation for the seventy-five minute window of opportunity Matthew afforded me.

You may think this is pessimistic but I believe, based on forty-plus years of classroom experience, that on any one day, I’m speaking to a small percentage of those present—but I don’t always know who they are: faces aren’t always a good gauge of interest. Of the 200+ students in ENVD 101, the response was heartening. So, with time running out, I stopped reluctantly, hesitated to leave the room, and was warmed by the number who cornered me on the way out to smile and wish me well. Those are the moments we treasure in teaching and they come (for me, at least) too infrequently. [And they come, in the wake of my failed attempt at promotion, as Balm from Gilead.]

There may never be another Agincourt exhibit. Yet today’s experience makes me wonder if there aren’t a few folks out there who’ll accept my invitation to join us in the sandbox just for the learning experience.


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