This spring, President Michael S. Roth announced that Wesleyan University’s College of the Environment (COE) had been renamed in honor of Essel ’66 and Menakka Bailey, long-time Wesleyan supporters whose passion for the environment and the work of the COE had greatly enriched the experience of Wes students and faculty. Wesleyan hosted a ribbon cutting and dedication event to celebrate the Bailey COE, Wesleyan’s first named college, at the start of Reunion and Commencement festivities.
At the age of 56, Laurie Kenney has finally figured out what she wants to be when she grows up. “There are no two ways about it: I’m not your usual ‘new’ music artist,” says Laurie, who lives in Guilford and works as the administrative assistant in the Bailey College of the Environment. “But as far as I know, there’s no age limit on creativity!”
Laurie wrote her first song at the age of 12 and her second at 56. In the 44 years in between, she built a career in publishing, public relations, and education, and raised a family. Her musical journey began as a self-imposed challenge: learn to play guitar and write and record an album of original songs…or die trying. Every Apple Does Go Bad Eventually (October 6, 2023, Cynical Girl Records) is the literal fruit of that labor.
Brionna Colson-Fearon ‘22, is currently at Fordham University pursuing her PhD under the mentorship of Dr. H. Shellae Versey. Their co-authored paper, Urban Agriculture as a Means to Food Sovereignty? A Case Study of Baltimore City Residents, explores the role of alternative food networks and urban agriculture in food sovereignty and security, and highlights the community benefits of urban agriculture within marginalized communities. A psychology and biology major while at Wesleyan, Brionna was awarded a COE Summer Research Fellowship in 2021, which allowed her to explore urban farming in Baltimore. An experience that became the basis for the co-authored paper.
Janice P. Nimura is the Menakka and Essel Bailey ‘66 Distinguished Visiting Scholar in the Bailey College of the Environment for the 2023-24 academic year. She is a writer, finalist for the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in biography, and a member of this year’s COE Think Tank. Her work is based on groundbreaking 19th-century American women, and she is currently working on a project studying Rachel Carson and the women who came before and after her. Janice will be giving a talk on this subject, entitled Knowing Their Place: Rachel Carson and the Women Who Came Before Her, at the annual “Where on Earth Are We Going?” symposium on Saturday, October 28, here on campus. I had the pleasure of talking with her about her upcoming discussion.
In Spring 2023, a chicken-keeping course for Middletown residents taught by Amy Grillo, associate professor of the practice in the Allbritton Center for Public Study and Environmental Studies, was held at the College of the Environment. The Chickens 101 project was started by Diana Martinez, assistant director of the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships, along with Lorenzo Jones, co-founder and co-executive director of the Katal Center for Equity, Health and Justice, as part of the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships’ Cultivating Justice initiative. Jones is the Jewett Center’s Re-Imagining Justice Mentor-in-Residence this year.
Last April, I had the opportunity to attend Youth Advocacy Day at the Connecticut Capitol Building in Hartford. This event was hosted by several Connecticut environmental organizations including the Sierra Club, the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, and Sunrise Connecticut. I attended the event with Sunrise Movement Wesleyan, a student organization committed to environmental advocacy through engagement with politics. The purpose of the day was to facilitate discussion between young people invested in environmental issues and Connecticut legislators. The day saw a large turnout of students, specifically high schoolers, invested in environmental progress.
Music and environmental studies major Lily Zhang ‘23 is the winner of the 2023 Elizabeth Verveer Tishler Keyboard Competition here at Wesleyan. When she’s not playing the piano, Lily enjoys scuba diving and freediving and is an enthusiastic amateur blackwater photographer. The opening reception for her COE photo exhibit, A Blackwater Dive, will take place at the College of the Environment, 284 High Street, on Friday, April 21, from 4:30 to 5:30 pm.