Mid-Shore Food: Back to the Beginning in WC’s Food Lab with Dr. Bill Schindler


Perhaps the most the general public knows about Washington College’s Eastern Shore Food Lab, at least until recently,  was its dubious distinction as being the entity that replaced the beloved Blue Heron restaurant. In a town experiencing a shortage of fine dining venues, it didn’t matter what the mission of Washington College’s innovative program was; it was a villain in the town’s quest to eat well.

But now that the doors are open, including its participation in First Fridays each month, the more the  residents know about the Food Lab, the more they realize was a remarkable gem it will be for the community. And perhaps even more ironically, it may be the best thing that ever happened to those same people eager to eat well.

No one has been more proactive in getting the word out on the mission of this program than its founder and director, WC professor Bill Schindler.

Already having established a national reputation in experiential anthropology and with appearances on the National Geographic Channel, Schindler was well aware that it was his job to let people know what the Food Lab was all about and how the local community plays a critical role in its purpose.

In short, Bill argues that our modern food system is an extraordinary failure. America’s addiction to processed food has led to the sad reality of not only having one of the highest obesity rates in the world but that its victims experience chronic malnutrition at the same time.

The Food Lab aims to provide students the opportunity to understand that our food system was not always like this. Through the lens of anthropology, they become familiar with how human beings had extraordinary skills, developed over centuries, to reaping the benefits of their hunting and gathering with highly nutritional food.

Rather than leave it there, Schindler also wanted to serve the community he and his family have lived in for the past ten years. Beyond the academic hat he wears, the professor is also, at heart a grassroots advocate for changing America’s food habits. It was clear when he envisioned the food lab seven years ago, that Chestertown and the Mid-Shore region must be part of this culinary revolution.

In what we hope will be a regular check-in with Bill, the Spy sat down with him in the Eastern Shore Food Lab center last month to talk about our cultural history with food, the current challenges in our current food system, and his views on eating meat, perhaps one of the most controversial issues being discussed these days due to conservation impact and humanitarian concerns.

This video is approximately ten minutes in length. For more information about the Eastern Shore Food Lab please go here




Inside Stam’s Hall


There is little doubt that businessman Colin Stam wanted to make a statement when he contracted to have Stam Hall built in 1886 at the corner of Lawyers Row and High Street. As local architect Peter Newlin noted in a recent Spy essay, Stam clearly had “aspirations” for his building, which was to house the family pharmacy, paint store, as well as Chestertown’s first Town Hall. He succeeded in creating a town icon.

In the 1920s, the building transitioned into the Lyceum Theatre, where the Masons, whose ceremonial hall still exists, gathered and where minstrel shows and later movies were shown. Owner Matt Hogans only recently decided to rent out the one apartment in the building, while he continues to sort out different plans on how best to bring the Lyceum back to life. In the meantime, he was kind enough to share with Spy photographer Chris Metzloff the building as it stands now.

A Genius Amongst Us: Former Quaker Neck’s Pam Long Becomes a MacArthur Fellow


While many of the residents of Kent County’s Quaker Neck, past or present, may indeed consider themselves a genius, the Spy has learned that at least one of them can show some documentation for such a claim.

Pamela Long, the daughter of the late Winslow and Barbara Long of Comegys Bight Farm and Heron Point, has been named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow (a.k.a. a Genius Grant), which results in a $625,000 award. An independent historian of science and technology, Pamela’s scholarship, according to the Foundation, “is rewriting the history of science, demonstrating how technologies and crafts are deeply enmeshed in the broader cultural fabric.”

Of course, anyone lucky enough to live on Comegys Bight is expected to be a genius at some point or another.

Spy Profile: Gunston School’s John Lewis


As part of our ongoing series on education on the Eastern Shore, the Spy talked recently with Headmaster John Lewis of Gunston School.

A native of Rockville, and graduate of Georgetown University, holding master degrees from Harvard and Columbia, John Lewis represents a new model for the role of headmaster in contemporary private education. Gone are the days of the classic head of school as depicted in John McPhee’s New Yorker article on Frank Boyden of Deerfield Academy.

Mr. Lewis talks of Gunston’s unique history and mission, but also candidly on the financial challenges small schools are facing in the aftermath of economic recession.

The interview is approximately ten minutes long.

Maryland 3.0: Mike Jensen and Unity Church Hill


It should be reassuring to those interested in Eastern Shore entrepreneurship that they can point to Mike Jensen, owner of Unity Church Hill Nursery, as part of a new breed of young, smart and focused innovators working in the region. In Mike’s case, it is particularly encouraging since he is home grown fellow (graduate of Kent County High School) making it work financially in the place he wants to raise his family.

Unity Church Hill as taken the unique step of combining Mike’s legacy landscape design work with a fully functioning retail nursery.  The results of his labor can be seen at their Route 213 store with an extraordinary collective of both native and exotic plants. Mike talks to the Spy about his experience and future plans with an addictive sense of humor and creativity.

The video is approximately six minutes in length. 

Profiles in Education: A View from the Academy with Sean O’Connor


Sean O’Connor, Washington College’s professor emeritus of education, is the first to admit that his role over the last thirty years in the field of learning has been in the lofty  perch of the academic world, or the “Academy” has he affectionately refers to it.  For the former Irishman,  his career has been one of scholarship,  philosophy, and policy rather than being on the “front lines” of public education.

And yet, during Sean’s three decades in the Unite States, hundreds of his students have graduated and gone on to play important roles in the country’s public school system.  And this is particularly so in Kent County, where 43 graduates are teachers or administrators. He has also sent his own children to local public schools.

In a interview with the Chestertown Spy, the professor offers a unique perspective of Kent County Public Schools and their future in society. While he retains his belief and confidence in America’s public education system, he is also eager to note the profound challenges that a small county like Kent must face in the decades ahead.

The interview is approximately seven minutes long. 

Downrigging: Filmmaker David Conover Takes on Science and Religion in “Behold the Earth”


Filmmaker David Conover, who will be presenting out-takes of his documentary “Behold the Earth,” Saturday night of Sultana’s Downrigging Weekend, is on a mission to find the common ground between science and religion.  This is not an easy task; these two powerful concepts have been at odds with each other for centuries. In fact, for some it remains one of the great unresolved issues for mankind.

And yet for the Emmy-nominated filmmaker, the perceived gap  seemed to dramatically shrink as he began to capture his conversations with scientists and theologians on these two powerful forces.  “There is knee-jerk reaction in both camps that there isn’t much common ground, but what I’ve seen in making this film is a huge overlap that we’re just beginning to understand,” said Conover.

Part of Conover’s discovery of common ground was the result of using the right  language to start the conversation.  “I think it was Bill Moyers who was the first to point out for me that using the right words is the first step in starting the dialogue, particularly when 40% of Americans are not on board with evolution. For example, to start with the story of Noah’s ark and eventually discuss the dangers of global warning leads to different view of the world.”

The other discovery was the awareness that even within evangelical faiths, there exists a wide range of conservation ideology.  Conover noticed that there was a right, center and progressive elements within each of  these groups. “Clearly some are less open than others, but many evangelicals understand the  important need for the scientific to deal with threats to the planet,” noted Conover.

Conover gets part of his message across by enlisting the help of such highly respected scientists like biologist E. O. Wilson from Harvard, and Cal DeWitt, one of the great influences in the evangelical environmentalism movement.  “Behold The Earth provides an opportunity to hold steady within the BIG PICTURE of American identity and the natural world. It asks the big questions of thought leaders like Wilson, Dewitt, Richard Louv, Theo Colborn, and others. Where have we come from? Where are we going? How do we know what we know?”


David Conover
An Inquiry into America’s Divorce from the Outdoors
Saturday, October 27 / 5:00pm (FREE)
Garfield Center for the Arts
210 High St Chestertown

Bay Area Association of Realtors Announces Board Members


The Bay Area Association of Realtors® (BAAR) inducted their 2012-2013 Board of Directors on October 10th at Symphony Village in Centreville. More than 40 attendees welcomed incoming BAAR President, Sue Hitt as she took over the helm from outgoing BAAR President Dick Sells. Executives from the Maryland Association of Realtors (MAR) and Coard Benson, President of the Mid-Shore Board of Realtors® were on hand to watch as new MAR President Carlton Boujai delivered the oath of office to the 14 BAAR board members and executive team.

In remarks after the induction, President Sue Hitt thanked the MAR Executives and staff for their support of our legislative initiatives and noted her focus for the year will be on increasing and improving BAAR’s partnerships with members, affiliates and neighboring Realtor Boards. She spoke about the improving market for real estate on the Eastern Shore and expressed optimism that the worst days of the real estate market looked to be behind us. The Bay Area Association of Realtors® offers support, service and training for its more than 300 members. BAAR is the leading advocate for the local real estate industry, of private property rights and for issues that affect its members’ ability to serve the public with competency, integrity and professionalism.


2012-2013 Bay Area Association of Realtors® board of directors with MAR
President, (left to right): Corbie Woehlke, Nic Gills, Diana Carlson, David “DJ” Dauses, MAR
President Carlton Boujai, Merry Tobin, Michelle Abplanalp, Cynthia “Cindy” Genther, BAAR
Past President Dick Sells, Elizabeth “Liz” Green, BAAR Vice-President Norma Coursey, BAAR
President Suzanne “Sue” Hitt. Not pictured are BAAR board members Douglas “Doug” Ashley,
Secretary Mary Jane “M.J.” Stevens, and Darlene Winegardner.


Closing the Gap: United Way’s Bill Noll Highlights the Challenges


No one needs to explain to Bill Noll, the new president of the United Way of Kent County, how the recession has impacted local charities. He’s seen first hand the stress these organizations are experiencing as they are asked to do more in fulfilling their various missions with increasingly less resources. Each of the twenty-three agency partners that United Way supports in Kent County has been hard hit by an economy that may take years to recover.

The challenge for Bill, former president of a GMAC division before retiring to the Eastern Shore a few years ago, was how the United Way could find a way to  close the funding gap for some of Kent County’s most important charitable work. The answer has been to raise the United Way fundraising goal this year.

The Chestertown Spy sat down with Bill Noll to understand more about the United Way’s mission and purpose as the Fall campaign drive starts to kick off.

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