Adj Marshall

Posts Tagged ‘Rock Climbing’

The Big Adventure

In Art, Education, History, Physical Pursuits on March 4, 2011 at 9:40 am

Monkey Face part of my adventure in Oregon!

Artists are magical helpers. Evoking symbols and motifs that connect us to our deeper selves, they can help us along the heroic journey of our own lives.

~ Joseph Campbell

While taking a lunch break from my welding project  last week I found myself in a discussion with a fellow band member of our need to not be tied down to one kind of work. This year has allowed me the the opportunity to search out a bunch of differnt kinds of work all of which I find fulfilling. I have facilitated community building and leadership trainings, taught rock climbing lessons to high school students and special needs individuals, designed and welded bike racks and trash cans, and am now about to head off to lead a service learning course on Health Policy at Berkley in CA.

Around this course and training I have built a 6 week adventure that will take me across the country and back. It starts in Chicago, Illinois  where I will participate in a training for the Health Policy Class and meet my co-facilitators, I will then head down to Austin Texas to meet up with my band the Extraordinary Rendition Band to participate in HONK TX for a week, from there I am headed to Bend Oregon to Rock Climb at Smith Rock for 2 weeks.

Charting a Hero's Journey

After my time camping and climbing I will head back to civilization to meet my with my co-facilitators in San Francisco, one from nevada and the other from Israel, to teach the Health Policy Class. Upon the completion of the class I will move on to Charlotte North Carolina to visit with a friend who works in the Arts field there and was instrumental in the beginnings of my artistic stirrings and questionings. My adventure I hope will open me up to many new insights and allow me to continue on my path of growth I have set out for myself this year.

I first encountered the work of David Campbell in Lina Chisholm’s Charting a hero’s Journey. The book is a publication of the International Partnership for Service Learning and Leadership and was utilized as part of my studies in Ecuador . The book serves as a guided journaling prompt for those traveling for the first time, most often abroad. While my travel to Ecuador was not my first time abroad I still found it’s content quite useful in dissecting my experience while there. It gave me the space to be reflective about my intentions and the ability to recognize the personal conversations and changes that traveling was having on me.

Campbell speaks of the Monolyth, the basic elements common amongst all myths that chart a the heroines journey, a sort of rite of passage, in which the heros undergoes separation, initiation, and return. Linda Chisholm applies this structure to the experiences of the reflective traveler. From the following description you can see the parallels that can be drawn between Campbell’s story and that of a traveler in search of understanding their sense of self and their purpose and contributions to the world.

The Basis for Hero's Journey

“In laying out the monomyth, Campbell describes a number of stages or steps along this journey. The hero starts in the ordinary world, and receives a call to enter an unusual world of strange powers and events (a call to adventure). If the hero accepts the call to enter this strange world, the hero must face tasks and trials (a road of trials), and may have to face these trials alone, or may have assistance. At its most intense, the hero must survive a severe challenge, often with help earned along the journey. If the hero survives, the hero may achieve a great gift (the goal or “boon”), which often results in the discovery of important self-knowledge. The hero must then decide whether to return with this boon (the return to the ordinary world), often facing challenges on the return journey. If the hero is successful in returning, the boon or gift may be used to improve the world (the application of the boon).”

Traveling for me opens my horizons it allows me to see the world in ways I that expand my small city nature. As a life long Providenceite I feel comfortable in the city and often times attempts to find ways to challenge myself. Climbing is a major component of this but so is just getting outside Rhode Island. As I embark on this 6 week adventure I look forward to the insights I will gain and the new found knowledge of myself and the world I will bring back with me.

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The Art of Climbing –Zines!

In Art, Physical Pursuits on January 4, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Climbing circa 1965 before modern climbing gear.

When I learn to let myself ebb and flow with how my situation pans out on the rock, I find the clarity and vision for problem-solving echoing in the canyons of my mind.

–Al Smith III

A few weeks back I got a package in the mail it was from my friend Luke who lives in Colorado. We met this summer while I was visiting a friend at the Rocky MountainBiological Laboratory in Gothic CO. I had headed out west to enjoy the great outdoors something often times hard to find in East Coast city life. Inside the package was the second installment of the Climbing Zine. I had received the first Climbing Zine as a going away present when I left Colorado this summer.

Climbing Zine Volume 2

So you may be wondering What a zine actually is? If you are one of those people don’t fret I wasn’t exposed to my first zine until after college in my work with New Urban Arts.  A zine pronounced (zeen) can generally be defined as a self published work reproduced via a photocopier with has a circulation of less than 1,000.

Quoting the publishing page  from Climbing Zine Volume 2, Luke says that ” Something that has always fascinated me about zines, and the process is the fact that they are produced simply for the sake of creating and sharing art…we are souls that have something to say and this is the venue where we can share that with an audience. He goes on to state that “there is an unquantifiable value in the exchange between a writer and a reader, rewarded in karma that is greater than money.”  These quotes epitomize the heart of zine culture –that of a deep appreciation for the art of creation.

In Luke’s Piece ” A Year in the Heart of a Climber”  I am reminded of my introduction to the climbing world. I first got hooked on climbing though my volunteering on the Leeuwin II tall ship  in Australia. While I loved climbing masts I didn’t know how this could be translated to a land based activity until I met Mark two years later. Mark was the lead Instructor of Search and Rescue, the experiential outdoors education program at Andover where we taught together.

All Hands on Deck route on Shipwreck Boulder Skyland Boulder Patch, Crested Bute C.O.

Showing interest I chose to volunteer as a staff support. Here I learned a few essential differences between climbing masts and climbing rocks. 1) You generally don’t climb barefoot unless you are a rock star climber, 2) Other people, not the mast will serve as your safety system 3) There is more than one type of climbing depending on the type of routes and protection and gear you employ.

When I first immersed myself in the climbing community I felt as if I had walked into another world. Fellow climbers were throwing around terms like beta, barn door, dyno, mantle, match, send, smear, stem, traverse. While these words held specific meanings in my own vocabulary their new definitions eluded me. Some one might say to me if you match you won’t barn door so much and will be able to send that stem climb. Each new piece of information shared with me about a climb, while utterly useless due to my lack of comprehension, made me feel a welcomed part of the community. Since my immersion almost three years ago I have watched my mastery of my physical technique and mental capacity grow.

Crack Climbing Left Arm Route in CO

Climbing has opened many doors for me and forged connections and friendships that will last a lifetime. It has given me reason to travel all over New England including NH, CT, MA and RI. This summer in CO I had the opportunity to climb thanks to Luke and another friend Shane. While in CA later in the summer I was taken under wing as an honorary member of the Bay Area Outdoor Rock Climbing Group . There is immediate acceptance and sense of community that exists amongst climbers –one I have rarely found elsewhere. I don’t know if this sense of community stems from the passion we share for the sport or the trust we place in one another when climbing a particularly risky venture.

Each climb I make influences my understanding of my own physical limitations as well as that of others. Each community member gives me a new appreciation for the role climbing can play in ones life.  Luke’s Zine offers a space for climbers like myself to explore the many ways in which climbing has influenced our lives. Each story I read inspires in me new thoughts about what it means to be part of a community that values pushing ones own physical limits in the pursuit of the next “great climb”. While I am far from an amazing climber I am very happy with my solid 5.10 /V2 status. In the spirit of the pay it forward climbing culture I work hard to create that same welcoming environment I first experienced when I joined the climbing community.

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A World of Education

In Education on January 3, 2011 at 9:50 am

“Schooling isn’t worth anything unless it creates for people the capacity to believe that they can change the world. If our kids don’t believe they can change the world then I think we ought to say that our education has not been strong enough”.

-Jean Piaget.

These past 8 years my life’s work has been Education. As a firm believer in service learning & experiential education I have come to embrace this methodology as my own teaching pedagogy. In particular I appreciate the pedagogy’s focus on the instructors learning  in the process of guiding others learning as well as utilizing education as a means for creating change.

In my past work I have had the opportunity to partake in and guide  service learning and experiential education programs across the country and globe. In the states, this has included programs in San Francisco CA, New York NY, John’s Island SC Jamez Pueblo NM, Lawrence MA, and Providence RI. Abroad I have worked with the communities of Mindelo Cape Verde, Guayaquil Ecuador, Wellstead Australia, and Ermera East Timor.

Oliver Hazard Perry RI (OHPRI)

Last week while surveying the local news I came across an article in the lifestyles section of the Go Local Prov news detailing RI Commissioner of Education, Deborah Gists’ approval of the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry to serve as the states At Sea School Ship upon its completion in 2013. The program is described as a “floating classroom” that will  “Incorporate at-sea, on-shore, and classroom experiences that transcend regional and cultural boundaries, OHPRI will bring students together to learn about the oceans and the marine environment and it will expose our young people to exciting maritime and oceanographic careers.”

I find the OHPRI project particularly exciting as it will take learning outside of the classroom. In the wake of RI’s educational crisis, I view learning methodologies that challenge the current practices of standardized testing as a  means to a more human centered and fulfilling educational experience.

While I was living in Australia I had the opportunity to partake in a month long experiential educational program upon the Leeuwin II  similar to what OPHRI hopes to offer. After my voyage upon the square rigged tall ship, I chose to volunteer as a crew member for 6 months, where I served as an experiential educator and honed my skills as a rigg climber. My experience instilled in me an affinity for sailing, which I don’t get to do very often, and also spurred my interest in rock climbing an integral activity to my current life. Below is a video detailing the experience of what a Tall Ship Classroom experience might be like.

I often ask students in my service learning/experiential programs  to share with one another their greatest learning experience. When we have completed the exercise I work with the students to find the commonalities and differences amongst their experiences. The one commonality I can be sure of with certainty is that their greatest learning experience will have happened outside the confines of a classroom.

Climbing the Rigging on the Leeuwin II

While no where in the article is the term experiential education mentioned what is being proposed  by OHPRI is exactly that.  The individual championed as the father of Experiential Education is John Dewy. I am currently reading Education in Democracy and skimming Experience in Education. Dewey’s approach to education relied heavily on experience as the central element in the educational process. For an experience to be educational Dewey believed it needed to have continuity, the idea that one experience fosters in an individual the interest to learn more and interaction that ability for one to grow by meeting their own learning goals or needs. Experiential education is often employed as a method of teaching that takes into account the variety of learning styles needs and goals each individual brings to their education.

As the only member of my immediate family non diagnosed with a learning difference, I have come to recognize the immense benefits of experiential learning. While I feel as comfortable in a book as I do in the real world I have deliberately chosen to make experiential learning a part of my education.

In a high school class of over 500 I was the only student to pursue both an AP college prep track  and vocational track. In college I chose to study the social ill’s of society through my Sociology degree while simultaneously choosing to make changes in these structures through my service learning work in my  Public and Community Service degree. In each of my jobs since college I have consciously chosen work that allows me the opportunity to work directly with individuals while offering me the freedom to step back, reflect and make alterations to the larger structures at hand.

This year I have chosen to focus my energies on creating my own self designed  LEAP( Liberal Arts Education Plan). Overarching themes include Education, Art, Business, Communication, Foreign Language, History, Music, and Physical Pursuits. In a variety of formal and informal ways I have chosen to pursue an experiential learning path that I direct. One where I learn music as part of a radical community marching band, foreign language as an ESL tutor, and history from the local library. This blog will be a space for me integrate my various educational LEAP objectives while serving as an arena to reflect upon the continuity and interaction, to use Deweys’ terms, of my experiential education this year.

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