Thursday, November 9, 2017

A "Harlemite" returns to his roots

Pierre Gooding for Harlem
A native son gives back

Written by: Taryn Plumb Produced by: Tania Doles
Vanguard Law Magazine

For Pierre Gooding’s family, Harlem had always been home. But after he was born in 1984, his mother had to face some unfortunate facts: The neighborhood in the Manhattan section of New York City, rife with unemployment and homelessness, simply wasn’t a place to raise a child, or provide him with the schooling he deserved.
So she uprooted the family, landing more than 200 miles north in Haverhill, Massachusetts. The decision bred success: Gooding excelled in his studies and fostered a desire to help others by pursuing degrees in law and education.
Today, he’s taken that passion back to his birth city. Proud to once again call himself a “Harlemite,” he is a Reform Party candidate on the November 7 ballot in New York City’s 9th city council district.
“The political arena can be an efficient way to help people, if it’s utilized correctly,” Gooding says. “This city needs someone who cares.”

Not much changed

Although he had long had an interest in politics—his mother likes to recall how he stayed up all night during presidential contests to watch the Electoral College process pan out—he didn’t consider that one day he’d be reinvesting himself in Harlem.
Growing up in Haverhill, he was able to capitalize on his talents in debate, teaching and athletics: He participated in the Johns Hopkins’ Center for Talented Youth, as well as the Princeton University Summer Institute for the Gifted; he scored a 1,020 on his SATs in just the 8th grade; and he ran track and cross country and served as captain of his high school tennis team.
But law was the goal. As he puts it, “I always liked to interact with people, and I thought law was a great way to do that.”
He went on to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology in 2006, and with a corporate law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 2011. He served on many boards and committees throughout his college years—including student government—and he also earned his master’s degree in teaching from Pace University in 2008.
All the while, others around him saw a reformer in the making. He was eventually approached by the nonprofit Teach for America, whose corps of teachers provides education in low-income schools. It was then that Gooding thought: What better chance to give back than to children in Harlem, where he was born?
He saw the potential to provide his expertise in other ways, as well; he served as legal counsel for Teach For America’s inaugural alumni association, and also helped to create the organization’s current legal structure.
“It seemed like a powerful opportunity,” he says, although he adds that his parents were at first apprehensive about the teaching aspect, because it meant he would had to defer law school. “For me it was a no-brainer.”
But returning to the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City to teach English as a Second Language (ESL), he was dismayed to see that not much had changed since his youth. Affordable housing was paltry, unemployment was in the double digits and a good education was hard to attain.
The latter particularly struck him: His mother had sacrificed to provide him with opportunities he likely wouldn’t have had if they’d stayed in Harlem. For example, just on a basic literacy level, there are currently just four working libraries and two librarians in the Harlem school district.
“That has always drawn me to New York City: The need for education reform in the place I was supposed to go to school,” says Gooding, adding that, more than 25 years later, “the place I was supposed to go to school is still struggling.”

Many issues to tackle

Education is just one vital element to be addressed, he says.
He also notes a 13 percent unemployment rate, record incidences of homelessness and a widespread housing crisis. Throughout Harlem and New York City, outsiders are buying up prime investment properties and causing rental prices to “skyrocket,” he says. In the end, that creates a vicious cycle that perpetuates other social problems such as access to education and decent-paying jobs.
He suggests aggressive policy reforms that ensure locals are not priced out of Harlem housing, and that incentivize new companies taking root in the neighborhood to hire locally and invest in training and re-training.
“You have to ensure that longtime residents can benefit from the changes that come with gentrification,” Gooding says.
Then there are the simpler micro changes that can help to improve day-to-day life. In particular, he laments the axing of the “Fair Fares” subsidy program, which allowed qualifying lower income residents to purchase discounted subway tickets. Meanwhile, the neighborhood has to push to retain its identity. (You may recall the firestorm over rebranding Harlem as “SoHa” earlier this year.)
Looking ahead, Gooding says there are a plethora of opportunities for public-private partnerships that could promote technological advances and even agricultural projects in Harlem. One example of the latter is Street Leafs, a community-based hydroponics and vertical farming effort that he has been in discussions with.
“You have to be creative, proactive, see what’s going on, respond, and make sure that what you want to see happen is in conjunction with what the community wants,” he says.
Ultimately, helping to promote a better life in Harlem comes down to a “personal fight” for him.
“Every Harlemite deserves the opportunity to receive a great education, a great job and affordable housing—right here,” Gooding says. “To make that happen, Harlem needs elected officials that reflect the values of the community.”

Original story link

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Tim Christensen: 30 Days at Sea

One Great Performance Piece: Christensen at Sea


By Taryn Plumb

For 30 days, he was essentially a stow- away on a container ship set on a course thousands of miles across the open sea.
The moody ocean vacillated between violence and tranquility; the scenery was at times turbulent, blissful, and teeming with life — but whatever each day brought, the experience was endlessly powerful and life-altering.
Maine sgraffito artist Tim Christensen, bound for Sydney, Australia, spent hours above deck studying the changing pat- terns of the water, the sky and the wildlife, then rendering his observations in dozens of sketches and notes, filling a journal to the bindings.
His trip is chronicled in the solo exhibit “30 Days at Sea,” now on view at the Center for Maine Craft Gallery in Gardiner. Through Nov. 19, viewers can experience dozens of Christensen’s prints, world- renowned clay work, and the weather- worn notebook that made the passage with him across the ocean.
“I see the entire trip as one great performance piece,” said Christensen, who also blogged throughout the journey. “I made some of the best work of my career on this trip.”
For those lucky enough to travel to Australia from the states, there is often an initial dread in the logistics of arriving safely Down Under: The time-intensive- ness of a 24-hour-plus flight; the exhaus- tion of ensuing jet lag; the instant culture shock upon stepping off the plane.
But Christensen saw a whole different opportunity. When he received an invite to the annual “Smoke on the Water” conference at the Ceramic Centre for Excellence, Inc., in Queensland, Australia, he began casting around for ways to turn what could be a cumbersome travel experience into something more creativity-inspiring.
He had larger, more underlying rea- sons, as well. The Maine native has long been a steward of the environment, doing whatever he can to be conscientious and courteous while minimizing his impact. He lamented that he’s already seen signif- icant changes to the Earth in his lifetime.
“I’m going to see the demise of 40 to 60 percent of the animals I grew up with,” he said. “I’m writing a requiem for things I really love.”

Original story link

Saturday, October 7, 2017

WSU grads inspired to give back

Check out the fall issue of Worcester State Magazine

Go to: 

Page 23 for my profile of underachiever-turned-overachiever Samantha Santiago; 

Page 24 for my write-up of Eugene Bah, a dual MD/PhD student inspired by his Cameroon upbringing; 

and page 25 to meet Jolene Jennings, a self-described "late bloomer" whose mission is to help illiterate adults learn to read and write.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Artscope: Greg Lookerse, inspiration from the written word

Greg Lookerse: Literary Soil at Fruitlands Museum

By Taryn Plumb

Harvard, MA – “Moby Dick”: Herman Melville’s classic tale of obsession. Adored by academics and mere lovers of the English word; abhorred by others forced to dissect and regurgitate it in high school and college.
But for Greg Lookerse? It’s not only an inspiration for art — it is art.
For his solo exhibition, “Literary Soil,” the California-born artist tore pages from his copy of the 1851 classic, then smeared them with pigments to simulate roiling waves or thick oil slicks, and grew salt crystals atop them to create a briny, crusty sensation.
The end result is a tactile representation of the written word.
“Overall the show for me is about the roots and ideas that come from reading,” said Lookerse, “and so each piece is somehow tied to a specific book or story or legend or myth.”
The exhibit will be on display at Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, Mass., through August 20; the work was crafted during Lookerse’s 2017 artist-in-residence at both Fruitlands and The Old Manse in Concord.
Lookerse, who describes himself as a “reader who does not know how to write,” creates complex, thought-provoking pieces that intertwine elements of classic literature and religious practices, and explore what he calls the “incongruities” between the physical and metaphysical planes.
“A huge influence of my work is looking at western art history and the ways in which religion and philosophy intermix,” said the artist. “I’m trying to come full circle and think about all of these different disciplines, all of these different ideas, and see how it works within the context of the literature pieces.”
For example, in one piece he cut and folded pages from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Nature and Other Essays,” arranging them in a mandala pattern that could be a flower — or an ornately-decorated cathedral window.
Meanwhile, Henry David Thoreau’s journal is transformed into a labyrinth encircling and curling around a stark praying bench.
Other pieces in the show — around 30 in total — include a wall of 50 black icons with a kneeling bench, and rocks of various sizes, colors and shapes encased under glass domes.
Lookerse, who identifies as a sculptor, painter and performance artist (among other descriptors,) embraces abstraction. Words, after all, he said, are just that.
“Abstraction as a whole I think is really misunderstood outside of the academic art culture,” he said.
He added that, “There’s a level of absurdity through all art, and then there’s the artist asking the audience to have a bit of faith in what they’re presenting,” whether that’s purely enjoying the aesthetics, thinking about its implications, or developing their own interpretation.
Lookerse’s particular style of abstraction arises not only from his themes, but his process.
He describes himself as “a little like a Swiss Army knife,” using whatever tools and materials he needs in the studio — manipulating them to explore their limitations and figure out new ways to use them – to bring tangibility to an idea. There’s a lot of tinkering; a lot of mistakes.
“It’s a process of exploring and trying new things,” he said. And eventually, “you find a little nougat of ‘Hmmm, that was interesting.’”
(“Greg Lookerse: Literary Soil” remains on view through August 20 at Fruitlands Museum, 102 Prospect Hill Rd., Harvard, Mass. For more information, call (978) 456-3924.).

Original story link. And the artist's website

Monday, February 13, 2017

Jan/Feb Artscope: Phantom Punch

Culture Shock at Bates
Jan/Feb 2017

Taryn Plumb

An image of an outdoor mural depicts what would no doubt be a culture shock for many westerners: Eight swords, flanked by elegant Arabic writing, pointing at two women — one completely veiled in black, the other uncovered, long hair falling to her shoulders.
The latter? Marked with an “X.” Her properly-dressed, anonymous counterpart, meanwhile? Given full approval with a check mark.
As if in contrast, a group of young girls, all dressed in frocks of various shades of pink, are hard at work adding their own illustrations to the painting — yet as a looming reminder, they are overseen by a shapeless, faceless figure enshrouded in black.
A still from Saudi artist’s Njoud Alanbari’s “Elementary 240,” it is all at once eerie, haunting, ironic, unexpected — even a little playful.
Such is the nature of “Phantom Punch: Contemporary Art from Saudi Arabia in Lewiston,” on view at Bates College Museum of Art through March 18. The exhibit features the unexpected and though-provoking work of more than a dozen Saudi artists.
To read more, pick up a copy of our latest issue! Click here to find a pick-up location near you or Subscribe Here.

Making a Difference Half the World Away

Global Impact


Wellington, New Zealand

Its history and culture are a rich fusion of influences; its people are proud, innovative, and environmentally fastidious; its picturesque harbor greets looming mountains that are home to an array of exotic and endangered plants and animals. Many factors make Wellington a unique and unrivaled location. That’s what ultimately convinced professor of organizational studies Michael Elmes that it would be a prime spot for one of WPI’s project centers. After visiting the country as a Fulbright Scholar in 2005, he championed the Wellington Project Center, and students have been visiting and working there for four years.
“It’s really quite a dynamic place for being such a small country,” says Elmes, who runs the center with assistant teaching professor Ingrid Shockey. “It’s a great place to visit, and it’s a great place to do interesting, challenging projects.”
In those four years, IQP teams have been involved with more than two dozen such initiatives—among them, researching endangered dolphins, investigating prospects for hydrogen fuel, studying the food rituals of native birthday parties, raising awareness of tsunamis, and examining flood and climate change.
Mechanical engineering major Paige Myatt ’17, who spent the winter of 2016 at the center, said of the experience, “I felt like I’d found another home.” Students are very often struck by what Elmes calls the starkly beautiful natural environment, plus the country’s high happiness index and quality of life. “They do have some kind of secret formula there,” he says.
The center works with diverse sponsors, from the Māori communities, to the Greater Wellington Regional Council, to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tonga-rewa. Elmes says it’s a mutually beneficial relationship, and a way to show off WPI’s excellence.
“We have so many repeat project sponsors because they’re so impressed with the quality of the work that our students do. I can’t tell you how many times people over there say, ‘Your students are just great.’”
Myatt was in a group that created a feasibility report for a hydroponic greenhouse that would tap excess electricity from a micro-hydro power system operated by Māori in the rural town of Horohoro. The experience had such a profound impact on her life and career path (she intends to go on to study renewable energy) that she’ll be going back in winter 2017 for her MQP. Her plan is to work with that Māori community again to help them design the greenhouse for which she and her IQP teammates created the feasibility study.
She recalls a Māori proverb: “What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people, it is people.” Not, she emphasized, that people are more important than the natural world and its creatures, but that they are ultimately responsible for taking care of it.
“The Māori try to be very aware of how they’re impacting their environment. They’re efficient with their resources,” Myatt says of the Māori and of kiwis at large. “It’s a very refreshing viewpoint to experience.”

Original story link

Peer Recognition: The Best Kind

Professor Joseph Sarkis Among “Highly Cited Researchers”

Foisie Business School department head frequently referenced in academic scientific publications

January 13, 2017

Being recognized by your peers is probably one of the most satisfying accomplishments one can experience as a professional.
In that respect, Professor Joseph Sarkis has distinguished himself. A department head within the Foisie Business School, Sarkis recently made the esteemed “Highly Cited Researchers” list for 2016. The distinction is based on Thomson Reuters’s vast database of research journals and articles, which is used to identify writers who are frequently referenced in academic scientific publications. The mass media firm ultimately calls the group the “Most Influential Scientific Minds.”
“It’s the first time I’ve received it,” Sarkis says, adding, “I was surprised, actually.”
The list names a total of 3,200 researchers whose work varies widely in discipline. “The database for Thomson Reuters is very exclusive,” says Sarkis, who is one of only 150 researchers to be listed in the engineering category. “It’s typically used as gold standard for journal indexing in which only the top journals in each academic discipline are included.”
His inclusion is based largely on his research in the burgeoning field of green and sustainable supply chains. He has authored and co-authored hundreds of publications, and his 2004 paper, Relationships Between Operational Practices and Performance Among Early Adopters of Green Supply Chain Management Practices in Chinese Manufacturing Enterprises, is his most highly referenced—it’s been cited 1,333 times, according to his Google Scholar page.
Additionally, Sarkis has been identified by a publication in Scientometrics as the most productive researcher in the field of supply chain management from the years 1995 to 2015.
I was one of the early people involved in researching the area,” says Sarkis. “The field is still young. There are lots of possibilities.”
As he explains it, the work so far has been highly focused on China, as the majority of supply chains have ties to the emerging superpower. Emphasis has been on promoting “good practices,” investigating various pressures to supply chains, and identifying ways to manage those supply chains in efficient ways. His research has also focused on developing models to help businesses and organizations reduce their environmental footprint, as well as manage hazardous waste materials use and resource depletion.
Essentially, it’s going beyond the financial aspects and the business aspects in the supply chain to think about ethical, social, and environmental issues,” he says.
More recently, the work has broadened to include developing suppliers, helping them to be greener and more proactive about their business practices when it comes to the environment. “The environment needs to be considered by industry because of all the damage that’s occurring,” says Sarkis. As he notes, the question becomes, “How do you help suppliers become greener or more environmentally sound?”
Ultimately, it’s a rewarding field of study he says he plans to keep focusing on for years to come. “One of the things that attracts me to this research is that it’s doing good,” he says. “Social good and impact is an important aspect of this research.”

- By Taryn Plumb

Original story link