To begin the story at the beginning, read "Part 1: Post 1: Beginning Again," published in January, 2013. To consult a description of the campus, read "Part 1: Post 14: The Greening of Campus," published in March, 2013.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Year 2: Part 8: Post 4: Other Staff

I'm continuing with a serious of informative rather than narrative posts. Here, I describe the non-teaching staff. I very rarely write about any of these people, but they were an important presence on campus. Some, like Aaron, I spoke to several times a week when I was a student, though rarely about anything that makes a good story. Others, like Malachi, I hardly ever saw and did not actually meet until I'd been at school for months. Again, the ages are how old they were in 2000.

I'm not including profiles on the allies, people who worked for the school but weren't formally part of the masters' group. Some taught classes, others helped care for campus. Some were paid and some were not. A few never even came to campus, like the woman who sewed our uniforms for us. Without allies, the campus could not have functioned. Some even served as masters to individual students, like Nora's friend the bee keeper, who became her most important teacher. But few of us knew any of the allies well and many of them came and went very quickly, helping out for a few weeks and then not again for years. I may someday do profiles on them, but not today.

Among the masters themselves, there wasn't actually a hard-and-fast line between the teaching and non-teaching staff. They all wore the green ring and all helped run the school more or less as equals (there was no separate administrative staff). Some of the so-called non-teaching staff did an awful lot of teaching, while the jobs of some of the professors included tasks one might expect to done by staff--Charlie was groundskeeper and Joy was staff veterinarian. People at school always wore titles like staffmember or professor very lightly--indeed, the practice was to hire someone worth working with and then design the job around them, not the other way around.

The real distinction was between the Six and the masters who were not among the Six. The community always has the Six, and has it still, but when campus closed the non-teaching staff were laid off (since the community has no income now, we Six do not get paid either).

The non-teaching staff always turned over faster than the Six did. When I returned to begin my candidacy, four out of the eight (Chuck, both Joes, and Malachi) had moved on and been succeeded by people with completely different job descriptions. But these are the people I started out with, as they were when I first met them.


Aaron is the head librarian. By training, he is a research librarian, but he also supervises a team of student circulation librarians. He not only answers student questions, he also teaches workshops on how to look for information, how to evaluate sources, and how to document and cite research. He actively encourages an ethic of scholarship and careful, reflective reading. He was raised Jewish and retains a sense that spirituality and literature are intertwined.

Aaron is 47 years old, very short and slight--he could almost pass for a child. His hair is medium brown and short and he wears glasses. He can identify and find virtually any book ("I'm looking for a book about horses in Australia, the author's name began with a B and the cover's green?"), usually within a within a few minutes, he does not whisper even in the library, and while he is usually cheerful, he often gets frustrated with technology and utters highly creative maledictions. He has a pet scarlet macaw named Ahab whom he occasionally brings to work with him.


Chuck is the head mechanic. He is responsible for our cars, bicycles, and appliances. The campus has a lot of larger mechanical systems too, some of them unique--the composting toilets, the solar and wind power systems, and so on. He and his team of students are in charge of all of them. He is 35 years old, medium height, with light brown hair and a very stocky build. He enjoys mechanics, treating it as a "way in" to personal development and spirituality.


Joe is the head of the janitorial team. While he is personally fastidious, he has no real interest in cleaning per se--it's just a job to him, which he keeps because he cares about the school and because it means he can pursue his real passion without worrying about his own upkeep. His passion is dance, and he has his own dance company off campus, though he rarely accepts on-campus students because he does not teach beginners.

He is 45 years old, tall and slim. His body language is quite effeminate, but he does not self-identify as gay--or straight. His private life is utterly private.


Malachi is the school comptroller and quartermaster. That is, not only does he handle money, he also handles the purchasing and storage of all supplies, from recycled-paper notebooks (which are resold to students at cost) to laundry powder, to animal feed. He also serves as a kind of unofficial campus lawyer--he knows enough about the law to offer the school good advice and he knows when a real lawyer is needed. He leads a small team of student assistants.

He is a little taller than average, thinly built, with dark hair and relatively dark skin. He looks part Indian or possibly Arab. He rarely interacts with students, except for those who work with him. His personal passion is mathematics. He is 46.


Sarah is the campus farm manager and trains and supervises a large team of student farmers. She is tall, slim, and muscular, with long light brown hair that she usually wears tied up in a bandanna. She's 36 years old and lives most of the year on campus with her husband (who builds stringed instruments) and their children. She is Catholic, the only master who is a practicing member of a mainline Christian denomination.She is often uncomfortable with the school's general pagannness. She converted during her candidacy for mastery. She stayed at school, and continues to stay, largely because of her unspoken devotion to Charlie. 

Security Joe 

Security Joe is, indeed, head of campus security. He is a retired police officer and he trains and supervises a student security team. Crime is not a serious concern on campus, but the team is an important precaution. Occasionally, they do find people on campus who shouldn't be, and their periodic sweeps of campus mean that if someone has a medical emergency while alone they'll be found quickly.

Security Joe is 55 years old and very short, for a man, with narrow shoulders and small, strong hands. His hair is dark brown and his complexion is dark olive. Despite his stature, few people guess that he is transgendered because his self-presentation is so unambiguously male. Only when he sings--which is rare--does his voice sound androgynous or feminine. He lives on campus with his husband, Cuppa Joe, who is a grocery manager at a nearby supermarket.


Sharon's role does not correspond exactly to any standard job description. She is office manager, head receptionist, head of admissions, facilities manager, scheduling coordinator, and more. When in doubt, call Sharon. She seems to know everything that happens on campus. She heads a team of student assistants and is the first person at the school most prospective students meet. She is 50 years old, of medium height and somewhat stocky, for a woman, with short, dark, curly hair. No one knows where she goes or what she does when she leaves campus.


 Sadie is head cook and supervises everyone involved in food service on campus. She teaches a lot of students to cook. She is 53 years old and lives on campus with her daughter, Kayla, and her grandson, Aidan, whom she is raising with Kayla's help. She is tall, strong, and curvy, with long, dark brown curly hair.

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