Dust has settled from the spring 2010 issue of Colby (now at the printer) and before we turn our attention to summer 2010, I want to tell you a bit about an alumna who appears in this issue.
I first met Gwynelle Dismukes ’73 in 2000 at The Farm, a commune in Summertown, Tennessee, one of the least likely places you'd think you'd find a Colby alum.
The Farm, settled in 1971 by hundreds of young people arriving from the west coast in a caravan of brightly painted buses, is a pastoral place, now home to a far smaller number of aging "Farmies." But the Farm also accepted newcomers and Gwynelle was one. A longtime community activist, and a single mom with two kids, she decided that a sprawling commune in central Tennessee was a safer place for her teenagers than the streets of Nashville, or Washington, or Boston.
Gwynelle had lived in all of those cities and wherever she was, she contributed. A small sprite of a woman, she published community newspapers, performed spoken-word poetry, wrote a book about Kwanza, produced street festivals and concerts, among many other things.
She also left her home in Ashville, South Carolina in 1969 to come to Colby.
Mayflower Hill was just one destination in a life that was all about exploration. When I met her at The Farm, she gave me a tour and introduced me to some of the Farmies, including the founder, Stephen Gaskin. Then Gwynelle and I sat and talked in her little house in the woods. I don't recall exactly what we talked about but I remember a intensely curious and energetic woman who wanted to spend her life making other people's lives better. She spent a decade at the commune, then moved on, ending up near home in Ashville.
Gwynelle is just one alum but she falls into a category I think of as the explorers. Restless and curious, they stop at Colby like migrating birds, fuel up with knowledge and skills, and fly on. Gwynelle did just that. Her obituary appears in this issue. Because of space limits, it's as brief as her life was rich.