Liberal arts graduates, lend me your ears.
March 8, 2011 8:38 PM   Subscribe

Recommendations for Vermont-based writers, artists, intellectuals, jack/jill of all trades folks that might be willing to speak (for free, or nominal fee) at our graduate program graduation ceremony?

I'm graduating from a tiny progressive college in Vermont, and we need recommendations for speakers for our ceremony that'd be willing to speak for ten - thirty minutes on something profound or something banal and entertaining or lifechanging and important. The key here is low cost and / or local. We won't bat an eye at out-of-the-ballpark suggestions. In the past we've had speeches on the power of progressive education, the importance of new environmental movements, and on life after graduate school, but fun / dynamic / weird suggestions are all great. Heck, they could even disagree with the liberal-arts education model, if they were willing to speak for peanuts and could give a compelling speech.

Our shortlist includes Grace Potter, Bill McKibben, and William H. Macy. Speakers would get food, a place to sleep, and the strange company of our tiny (under 30 folks) graduating class. We could probably pool a small amount of money from our graduating student body, but it'd be a middling amount.
posted by ajarbaday to Media & Arts (19 answers total)
Where are you exactly? I don't want to go be suggesting the faculty associated with your institution.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 8:43 PM on March 8, 2011

Specifically, it's Goddard College in Plainfield, VT and it's a low-residency Individualized Master's Program, but we may combine the ceremony with the graduating students from the Health, Arts and Sciences program.
posted by ajarbaday at 8:46 PM on March 8, 2011

... Jessamyn?
posted by Night_owl at 8:47 PM on March 8, 2011 [9 favorites]

What about Catherine Nelson, from the Rutland Herald? She's charming and whip smart.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 8:56 PM on March 8, 2011

Sabra Field?
posted by apparently at 8:57 PM on March 8, 2011

Peter Schumann (or someone else associated with the Bread and Puppet Theater), or a faculty member from the Center for Cartoon Studies. I can't speak to the low cost-ness of these people, only to their banal profundity.
posted by milk white peacock at 8:59 PM on March 8, 2011

Okay well then, have you looked at the Bennington Faculty? Specifically Monsour Farhang or Dan Hofstadter. Another wierdo/leftfield type suggestion would be Berndt Hendrich at University of Vermont. God knows what he'd speak about.

Jessamyn West isn't a bad idea either. Serves you right for asking metafilter.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 9:01 PM on March 8, 2011

Someone from the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction!
posted by Neofelis at 9:31 PM on March 8, 2011

Bill "Spaceman" Lee?

He now runs a bat company and generally amuses himself around the Northeastern Kingdom- Craftsbury, specifically (I think. Or Glover?).

I think if you called the Bat Company and explained that someone on the Internet told you to ask Bill Lee to come to your hippie grad school graduation, he would totally do it.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 9:38 PM on March 8, 2011

Ha, I was going to suggest someone from the Center for Cartoon Studies too. Maybe James Kochalka, the Cartoonist Laureate of Vermont?
posted by hungrytiger at 12:33 AM on March 9, 2011

What about Burr Morse? He has written a few books and is really local. I don't know about giving an actual lecture but he is pretty good at talking your ear off at other times.
posted by koolkat at 1:27 AM on March 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Tom Bodett
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 4:19 AM on March 9, 2011

Alison Bechdel would probably be worth a shot.
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:15 AM on March 9, 2011

Archer Mayor, perhaps?
posted by usonian at 10:58 AM on March 9, 2011

Susan Hanson? The link is to her profile at Clark University in Massachusetts, but she lives in Vermont now.
posted by stinker at 11:39 AM on March 9, 2011

Jessamyn was my first thought, but wonderful, eloquent, gold-star earning people from metafilter are a difficult sell to people who aren't familiar with the place. So I guess I'd have to get the other graduates' go ahead before I, uhm, officially asked.

Thanks for all the other ideas for liberal / weirdo / interesting celebrities, academics and artists. I'll throw them out there and see what flies.
posted by ajarbaday at 4:56 PM on March 9, 2011

Eli Clare is a Goddard alum who now lives in Vermont and makes his living speaking and writing about social justice especially through a lens of social class, disability, queerness, and gender (as well as being a poet). He's the author of Exlie and Pride, a book of essays on disability and queerness. As a Goddard alum he would be unfazed by the strangeness of your little group of graduates (I am also a Goddard alum, so hi and yay Goddard). I cannot say enough good about him. Whenever I hear him speak I am struck again by the clarity and depth of his thought.
posted by not that girl at 7:16 AM on March 10, 2011

I meant to give a link to Eli's book: Exile and Pride.
posted by not that girl at 7:18 AM on March 10, 2011

Hi! I just wanted to update this thread and let you all know that I asked Jessamyn and she gave a wonderful, rousing commencement speech at my graduation and was a complete joy and funny to boot. Oh, and if you're curious, here's a link to the speech on her blog. Thanks ask metafilter!
posted by ajarbaday at 9:24 PM on August 13, 2011

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