As we started assembling this issue, we sought to provide a sweeping view of campus and its environs from architecture to the archives. And then, as it usually happens, a few themes surfaced: anniversaries, hearts and health, and, well, garbage. We discovered subtle ties between the stories, ties that may not be so obvious to the reader, but as we have written, edited, and designed this issue, have lingered in our minds.
First, along with campus maps and Cougar cards, Washington State’s freshmen this month are sharing a book, Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash—a selection from the now eight-year-old and widely successful Common Reading Program. Over the next few months, faculty from across the university will incorporate the book and its subject matter into their classes, and a series of special events and presentations will take place throughout the semester, including a lecture from the book’s author, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Edward Humes.
Garbology also generated a story for us. In writing about it, Nicholas Deshais uses the theme to dig up some details about the toxic waste research of one of our sociologists. He also dives into Whitman County’s own historic trash heap buried out in the Palouse. The subject of dump sites reappears in our feature section where a story about the fast-growing WSU Spokane campus notes that the campus location was once a place for the city to dump its municipal waste. Today the campus has become a health center for the inland region, a training ground for medical professionals including nurses, pharmacists, and doctors.
The book was selected by Dan Bernardo ’85 PhD, WSU’s newly appointed provost. He had four finalists to choose from and picked this one because, in his words, “I found myself constantly putting down the other books and returning to Garbology … The book is a relatively easy read, and provides an interesting perspective on one of our society’s most challenging, and underpublicized, problems … the generation of incredible amounts of trash and the resulting long-term consequences on the environment. The book also does an excellent job of connecting the trash problem to another important social issue—the consequences of a consumption-driven society.”
In a wholly different take on consumption, science writer Eric Sorensen looks at what we eat and what medical benefits our food might provide. His story surveys the work of a number of WSU’s scientists. That, too, pairs nicely with our In Season piece in which we highlight Brussels sprouts, a once-maligned vegetable that in recent years has enjoyed increased popularity. Now we find out the Brussels is not only delicious, but cancer fighting, too.
We should mention that 2014 is the anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act, the federal creation of the cooperative extension services. Washington State’s own extension programs are planted in communities throughout the state—helping small business, working with children through 4-H, and bringing resources to farmers and rural towns. We have scattered bits of WSU’s extension and agriculture story throughout this issue. A century of extension bulletins are now available online, and before there were extension offices in every county, our school’s earliest professors and extension agents took their expertise from town to town on a train.
The WSU Museum of Art does the reverse, bringing the world to campus. Larry Clark writes about one of the museum’s most significant acquisitions as world-famous American artist Jim Dine donates a large body of his print works, including a number of his iconic robe and heart prints, to the Pullman museum.
So we find the themes of history, hearts, and health—our own, and our land’s—as we explore how we eat, what we throw away, how we live, and how, after all, everything is connected.
—Hannelore Sudermann, content editor