The second half of 2020 has been an exceptionally busy and productive time for Thoreau College, as we were challenged to face and respond to the ongoing pandemic while continuing to plan, grow, and develop our programs. Since July 2020, Thoreau College has:
- Secured a formal rental and partnership agreement with the Commons Community and Arts Center and moved into our new office, classroom, and kitchen spaces there.
- Secured a major sustaining grant from a key supporter, covering basic operating costs for the next 5 years of development and growth.
- Moved into two new residential houses in Viroqua, increasing our total number of residences to 3.
- Secured a 1-year lease agreement with Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School for use of the greenhouse complex and retail shop, formerly known as the Flower Basket/Growing for Good, and now known as Thoreau’s Garden, run by Thoreau College students and staff as a college enterprise.
- Replaced or repaired roofing plastic on the Thoreau’s Garden greenhouses, repainted the retail shop, and opened it for business!
- Hired and welcomed chef and food philosopher Evan Edwards to serve as our Fall Semester Food Coordinator
- Welcomed a new cohort for our 2nd Thoreau College Semester Program, with a class of 11 students and 5 Fellows (interns), representing 7 states and the District of Columbia.
- Staged a 10 day orientation encampment and COVID quarantine for new students at the campus of the Driftless Folk School at Bear Creek Farm.
- Secured new spring internship opportunities with 13 local businesses, farms, schools, and non-profits.
- Performed over 200 hours of service work with our partners at the Commons Community and Arts Center and Community Hunger Solutions
- Completed two 24 hour wilderness solo and one 5-day hiking expedition through the Kickapoo Watershed
- Constructed and populated chicken coops at the three Thoreau College residence houses
- Welcomed guest instructors in herbal medicine, foraging wild edibles, botanical drawing, storytelling, Goethean observation of plants, bioinspired art and biomimicry, social threefolding, anthroposophically-informed art, and sweetgrass basketry.
- As of Tuesday, November 24th, recorded zero cases of COVID-19 among students, fellows, and faculty, while continuing in-person programming uninterrupted! (Knock on wood.)
(Photo: Students Erik Jorgenson and Brandon Ipiña replace roofing on one of the greenhouses at Thoreau’s Garden.)