Loving Life in Community

By Kristin Davis In the decade after Alyssa Martin ’96 graduated from Mary Washington College with a degree in economics and Spanish, life took a series of unexpected turns. She left graduate school after a semester, moved to Colorado, and worked odd jobs before becoming a certified professional midwife. She loved her calling, but not the toll it took. She worked all the time just to pay the bills, and it was nearly impossible to schedule time off. By 2006, she felt unfulfilled and disillusioned. “I knew that wasn’t sustainable or how I wanted to live in the world,” Martin said. “I wondered if there was a way for me to find more balance in life.” The answer was in a magazine article about a place called Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, a 280-acre commune in Rutledge, Missouri, devoted to sustainable living. Members live independently but agree to community rules, like building their homes using alternative techniques and powering them with renewable energy. They grow their food and own … [Read more...]

Photographer Captures Life

By Laura Moyer At first, artist Mary Jane Condon Bohlen ’94 had to find fellow breast cancer survivors who’d let her photograph them – chest scars exposed – for her book about life after diagnosis. But as word of the project circulated, women started asking to be included. They were proud of their resilient bodies and eager to share stories about how surviving breast cancer changed them inside and out. The result is Bosom Buddies, a book of powerful photographs, essays, and poems celebrating determination and grace. Bohlen is donating half the proceeds of the recently self-published book to the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation of Pawtucket, Rhode Island. She’s been involved with the center since 2008, when she and husband Bob moved back to her native New England after almost 30 years in the Fredericksburg area. The move north happened soon after Bohlen’s second breast cancer diagnosis.  She wanted to be closer to family, and the diagnosis, 16 years after her first … [Read more...]

An Accidental Journalist

By Edie Gross Chris Gay ’84 had earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and government from Mary Washington when he decided to follow up with a master’s in public administration at George Mason. To pay for it, he answered an ad he found on a campus job board for a reporter at a Prince William County newspaper. “If there’d been another job on that job board, I might have done something else,” Gay said. Instead, he parlayed that initial newsroom gig into a job in Hong Kong – and ultimately, a 30-year journalism career. “I just sort of backed into journalism,” said Gay, who put his advanced degree on hold. “The job became full time, and I just sort of forgot about school.” Now an editor at The Wall Street Journal in New York, Gay spent the better part of a decade in Hong Kong, writing and editing for the Journal’s Asia edition as well as for Far Eastern Economic Review, Asia’s version of The Economist. He also spent nearly two years in Tokyo at Knight-Ridder Financial … [Read more...]

Swimmer Stays in Sync

By Erica Jackson Curran After 20 seasons as William & Mary’s synchronized swimming team coach, Barbara Gordon McNamee ’59 is a fixture of the school’s aquatics center. But long before she coached Tribe Synchro, she was a member of the Mary Washington College synchronized swimming team. At 78, McNamee has been involved in the sport for most of her life, serving as a coach for multiple teams, a top-level executive with organizations like U.S. Synchronized Swimming, and a judge at international events, including the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. It’s hard to believe that there was a time when she found herself heading in another direction. “I was a competitive swimmer, and my coach always told me that he did not understand how someone with such a beautiful stroke could be so slow,” she remembered of her high school days when her family lived in Panama’s Canal Zone. Determined to stay in the water, she knew she’d found her niche when she saw her first synchro demo at the Pan … [Read more...]