A Feast for the Senses

Return to Evergreen main stage

Maxine Mimms, York Wong, Ernest “Stone” Thomas, and Felix Braffith ’01 lead “A Village Conversation” during Return to Evergreen.

The threat of typhoon-level rains and wind couldn’t deter this year’s energetic group of Return to Evergreen attendees, who were eager to taste, touch, hear, smell, and see their school through a slate of dynamic sessions.

“We were impressed by the strong turnout,” said Carol Linnebur, alumni programs officer. “We were joined by more than 300 people—including alumni from every decade—plus students, donors, faculty, emeritus faculty, and friends. All were eager to celebrate and relive the Evergreen experience.”

Nate Gibbs-Bowling accepts his award.

The event kicked off with President George Bridges’ scholarship brunch, sponsored by TwinStar Credit Union, during which National Teacher of the Year finalist Nate Gibbs-Bowling ’04, MiT ’06, received the Joseph Albert Dear Distinguished Alumni Award. Now in his 12th year teaching Human Geography and Government and Politics at Lincoln High School in his hometown of Tacoma, Gibbs-Bowling graduated from Evergreen’s Tacoma and Master in Teaching programs.

“This place has been so inspirational and so foundational in my life,” Gibbs-Bowling remarked. “My life at Evergreen is a story that I share constantly and is a story that I share with my students, and I want you to know that I trust you all with my babies. I will only send my children to places where they are loved and cared for, and I know if my children come here they will have that.”

This year’s Return to Evergreen placed special emphasis on emeritus faculty voices. Early session highlights included “A Village Conversation,” a panel hosted by Maxine Mimms, faculty emerita and Tacoma Program founder; Felix Braffith ’01, director of student success, TRiO; York Wong, faculty emeritus and former dean; and Ernest “Stone” Thomas, retired staff member. The conversation focused on equity, social justice, and Evergreen’s responsibility to serve students of color.

Steve Herman waxes nostalgic about his eldwork excursions to Malheur Wildlife Refuge and Steens Mountain.

Faculty emeritus Steve Herman led a talk about the various fieldwork destinations he’s explored with students including Malheur Wildlife Refuge and Steens Mountain. Arborist Scott D. Baker ’77 of Tree Solutions co-led the session.

Faculty emeriti Susan Fiksdal, Bill Ransom, and Jeff Antonelis-Lapp led sessions of their own.

Book arts faculty member Steven Hendricks teaches participants how to create an Evergreen logo print with a letterpress.

Later in the afternoon, attendees enjoyed “Explore Fine Art Printing at Evergreen.” With guidance from faculty members Emily Adams and Steven Hendricks ’97, as well as local arts entrepreneurs Myrna Keliher ’08 and Jami Heinricher ’91, participants explored their creative side through etching, serigraphy, and letterpress techniques.

Concurrently, KAOS Radio General Manager Ruth Brownstein ’99 hosted the “Voices Unite at KAOS” session. Participants toured the station, watched video clips of KAOS through the years, ventured into the production booth, and then kicked back to enjoy some music. The experience brought back memories for Olympia City Councilmember Clark Gilman ’91.

“They’ve made some technological strides since I took a Radio for Everyone class here in 1981,” Gilman said with a laugh. A first-time attendee, Gilman said he’s already looking forward to this year’s 50th anniversary event—a three-day affair scheduled for November 3–5, 2017.

“I enjoyed meeting alumni who attended Evergreen across a span of decades—from members of the founding faculty right down to a young couple who had just graduated this year,” Gilman said. “My wife and I and our kids all hold degrees from Evergreen, so this place means a lot to us as a family. Events like this only stoke our Geoduck pride.”

Attendees capped off the evening’s festivities with a tasting sponsored by WSECU. Alumni-produced beverages were provided by Batdorf and Bronson, Three Magnets Brewing Co., Whitewood Cider, Salish Sea Liquors, Mercer Wines, and COR Cellars.
As event participants settled in to reflect, relive, and celebrate their Evergreen experience, many thought back to Gibbs-Bowling’s words from earlier in the day:

I’ve got to tell you all, I’ve had a hell of a year, he’d said. Over the last year I have sat down with Barack Obama, I’ve sat down with Joe Biden, I’ve sat down with Bill Gates, and I’ve sat down with the Chinese President Xi Jinping, but nothing, none of those got me today like coming on campus. I was walking on campus and it just felt like home.

Clark Gilman in the studio for the “Voices Unite at KAOS” session.

Attendees enjoy beverages produced by local alumni-owned businesses.

President George Bridges greets participants at the scholarship brunch.

Samples from the Evergreen Shellfish Club’s session.

Alumni try their hand at the drumming plank during the “Engaging with Longhouse Art and Artists” session.