From your co-chairs

Portrait of Jeff & Jone Riester
I always forget that spring arrives slowly, and late, in Door County! As I write this, we’ve just concluded the annual This is Björklunden event at which 100+ hardy guests braved cloudy and damp conditions to enhance their familiarity with Lawrence's northern campus (see photos elsewhere in this issue).

As fits Lawrence’s mission at Björklunden, the day emphasized learning on a personalized scale, with current students deeply involved. One of the highlights was a recital performed by undergraduates from the studio of Catherine Kautsky, professor of music and chair of keyboard. Of course we were entertained and informed, but we were also reminded how actively integrated LU students and their teachers are at Björklunden throughout the entire academic year. The pianists were just concluding a weekend-long interlude at Björklunden, sharing the lodge with students of advanced poetry and a group called Building Community Among Chemistry Faculty and Students. This is a typical school-year weekend at Björklunden before the lodge is turned over to participants in the summer seminars.

It’s this active student use that is at the heart of the Björklunden mission and which would not thrive without the financial support of all of us in the Boynton Society. Students do not pay anything extra to participate in these weekend sessions at the lodge; we’re the ones who make that possible. So, as we approach the magic June 30 date, the close of Lawrence’s fiscal year, please renew (and if possible, increase) your gift to the college earmarked for Björklunden.  Those poets, pianists and chemists are counting on us!


Jeff Riester ’70
Co-Chair, Boynton Society

Assistant Director’s Column

by Bailey Koepsel, assistant director of Björklunden

Spring has sprung at Björklunden! It is always a lot of fun seeing Door County wake up from its winter nap. The days are longer, businesses start to expand their weekly hours and you suddenly find yourself waiting at a stop sign for the first time since October. These all serve as a reminder that soon Baileys Harbor, and the rest of the peninsula, will welcome thousands of people in search of a fun yet peaceful vacation. 

After starting at Björklunden on Feb. 2, 2016, I can finally say I have experienced all of Björklunden’s seasons in their entirety. It is hard to choose a favorite because there are aspects of each that I love so much: fall colors, fresh snow and all the wonderful people who visit us in the summer. Our springtime event, This is Björklunden, is the best part of those few months when the chill of winter hasn’t fully disappeared, but the warmth of summer hasn’t quite shown up yet. This event gives an inside look into every aspect of Björklunden and allows people a chance to see what Björklunden is all about. On April 30, guests got to tour the grounds, go to a student concert and attend a mini-seminar. Some of those in attendance even stayed for a few days to help with spring cleanup! They chopped wood, cleaned vents, spread mulch, spruced up the chapel and fixed furniture. Their help and expertise got the entire property ready for summer visitors. 

Gleaming windows, green grass and trilliums mean it is almost time for our seminar program to start for the season. We have a handful of summer seminars open for enrollment, and if you haven’t checked out our schedule yet, I encourage you to do so! You could explore mid-17th century London, delve into psychology to see if you are “thinking rationally,” take a look at American music through opera and Broadway with Dale Duesing ’67 or find the correlation between Jesus, God and jazz. True to Lawrence’s liberal arts mission, there is a seminar for everyone at Björklunden. Mark Breseman and I are eager to get the season underway on June 11. It will be an absolute pleasure to see everyone again!

Before I wrap things up, I wanted to share a bit of fantastic news. Jane Whitney, known to many as Björklunden’sself-taught naturalist, was nominated for a Golden Heart Award through the Volunteer Center of Door County. Kim and I attended the ceremony on April 20, where Jane won the Environmental Stewardship Volunteer of the Year Award. She has done so much for Björklunden, and we are extremely proud to have her recognized in this way. So, when you visit us this summer, I sincerely hope you will embark on a hike lead by our award-winning steward!

Cuba: Through the Eyes of a Lawrentian

By Alec Timpe '18

Boynton society Cuba Trip

Over spring break of this year, I had the privilege of traveling to Cuba with a group of Lawrence alumni. Our weeklong tour took us across the island, staring in the northwest in Havana, moving along the northern coast to Matanzas, down south to Trinidad and finishing in the north again in the keys off the coast of the mainland. Wherever we stopped, we experienced cultural events, saw breathtaking architecture, met artists and learned about the small and vibrant island nation. The experience was very eye-opening in two ways: first, it made me reconsider how I view Cuba and its niche in the world, and second, while interacting with the alumni, I saw how diverse, interesting and successful their lives have been after graduating from Lawrence. I loved hearing about their experiences at Lawrence, and was amazed to learn about all of the small changes that have made Lawrence into the college that it is today.

As a student of anthropology (among other things), I tried to experience and analyze my time and experiences in Cuba through the lens of an anthropologist. I wanted to learn about Cuban culture and understand that culture from the Cuban perspective—what in anthropology we call an emic approach—then compare it with my American culture, thus learning more about both in the process. We had a wonderful guide, Gretel, who shared her experience with us, and helped us better understand some of Cuba’s more peculiar cultural, political and economic nuances.

Cuba is an interesting combination of past and present. There seems to be the perception in the United States that because of the trade embargo after the Cuban Missile Crisis, the entire island has essentially frozen in time, and that going to Cuba would be like taking a time machine back into the early 1960s. While this may be the case in some respects, especially when considering the style and age of architecture, and the cars and technology commonly available to everyday people that influences their lifestyle, I got the sense that there was no such time freeze in the cultural identity of the Cuban population.  Cuba is changing rapidly, and I am glad that I had the opportunity to go during what I expect will be a profound cultural renaissance. With the increased access to the internet and social media as a result of more economic opportunities, Cubans are able to express themselves and critique the country on a public forum that was unavailable until very recently. Powerful political art and music have become mainstream as the population adjusts to their changing world. Anti-government and critical opinions have been able to be more widely disseminated, which better allows the population, especially the young, well-educated generation to consider and plan for what they want the future of Cuba to look like.

Cuba is a mélange of seemingly antithetical components unexpectedly working together. The politically and economically restrictive communist government presides over a very socially liberal population. People sit in 1960s Chevrolets parked in front of limestone apartments from the 1850s while calling and texting on smartphones. The populace has high-quality universal education, contemporary healthcare facilities and an overall good quality of life in regions with abject poverty and no modern amenities. Dealing with these inconsistencies taught me the importance of flexibility; taking a second to evaluate problems and look for a solution or change plans in response to the unexpected makes life much easier and more rewarding. 

As the only current student in the group, I had exposure to the wealth of experience of traveling alumni, and they provided valuable insights on how I can apply the type of thinking that Lawrence fosters to postgraduate studies or my professional life. They stressed the value of being able to draw on past experience from multiple sources to be able to synthesize responses and solutions to problems that present themselves later in life, and the importance of thinking critically from an interdisciplinary perspective. This trip, and in many ways Cuba itself, acted as a metaphor for the liberal arts thinking that makes Lawrence unique.

My Björklunden Experience

By Jessica Robyns ‘19

When I left to spend my first weekend at Björklunden, I had no idea what to expect. It was Fall Term of my freshman year, and I was going there to work in the kitchen. Thankfully, an experienced senior, Micayla Hutton ’16, was there to show me the ropes. I met Chef Steve, the eccentric Bostonian who’s been working at Björk for as long as I’ve been alive, and Andy Plank ’14, a Lawrence grad and percussion major who taught music lessons on his days off. I learned that my new job was a lot more work than I had bargained for, and it took a while to get the hang of how the kitchen functioned. Now that I have worked at Björk for over a year, I’m incredibly grateful for the experience. I learned skills that will be useful in future jobs, and I gained a personal connection with my fellow student workers and Chef Steve.

My second experience working at Björklunden was as a summer worker. I lived and worked at Björk for 12 weeks, and my main job was preparing breakfast with my coworker, Rosie. This shift is probably the most difficult and requires the most training. For the first few weeks, Kim Eckstein taught us how to make scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, muffins and more. Kim is incredibly hard-working and resourceful—she could do the whole shift by herself if need be (and she has). By the end of the summer, I was very proud of the fact that Rosie and I were able to prepare breakfast for 40+ people every day. I also gained a new appreciation for the work that Steve does every weekend.

Spending the summer in Door County was amazing. I got to enjoy the beautiful weather, trails and views of Lake Michigan, but the most rewarding part was getting to know students from different backgrounds who I otherwise wouldn’t have interacted with. I now consider many of them to be close friends and look back fondly at the time we spent together. Another rewarding part of my job was working as a tour guide for the Boynton Chapel. I read Winifred Boynton’s book, Faith Builds a Chapel, and was fascinated by the hard work and dedication she put into it. Visitors are always amazed to hear that every painting in the Chapel was done by one person, not a team of Scandinavian painters. I learned so many stories about the objects in the Chapel, I never had time to tell them all. Seeing how fascinated the visitors were by these stories was very rewarding.

You could say that I got to know Björklunden from the inside out. I learned how things worked backstage in the kitchen before I got to experience the lodge as a guest. I’ve now spent three weekends at Björk as a guest with various student groups. Visiting as a guest has made me realize how lucky Lawrence is to have a place like Björklunden. It gives students the opportunity to get away from campus and connect with nature, which would be very difficult for students to do on their own. There’s a feeling that Björklunden belongs to all students, as well as to history; staying there feels like going home for the weekend. I think this is how Winifred Boynton intended it to be when she willed the property to Lawrence. I’m grateful to have been able to experience Björklunden in all these ways, and I hope that it will continue to offer these opportunities to future students.

Björklunden-Sponsored Trips: Spectacular Sedona

Don’t forget, Björklunden is heading to Sedona! Registration is open for a wonderful adventure led by Charlie and Karen Schudson. Spectacular Sedona will surround you with magic: Native American history, “Hollywood of the West” cinema history, breathtaking hikes through canyons and creeks and so much more. You’ll enjoy fine food, great art galleries and gorgeous accommodations. Spectacularly beautiful trails will serve as the classrooms for our lectures and learning experiences!

Contact Bailey to register today at (920) 839-2216 or