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Secoya woman providing childcare for her cousin. Northern Peruvian Amazon.


Among the Secoyas b y steve r. King so

It's around two o'clock in the morning. I'm awakened first by gende, murmuring
voices and then by familiar scraping sounds as a knife's edge is drawn against a
woody liana. Antonio, my Secoya Indian teacher and surrogate grandfather, is
preparing the day's regular brew. He has first removed the wafer-thin, bark-like
covering from a soapberry vine called yoco and now is scraping shavings from a cal-
abash bowl. Using both hands, he presses and squeezes the curled shavings to pro-
duce a milky brown liquid: the morning's "coffee."

As the eldest in our household, Antonio carries the bowl to the oldest woman,
Elmalinda, then to Mariano, then to Mariano's wife, Marta. (Most members of the
village asked that I call them by their chosen Spanish names.) I'm served last. Each
of us takes a few sips, being certain to leave enough for the others, and hands the
gourd bowl back to Antonio. After I've had my share, he drinks the rest.

I remember many nights such as this, when I spent a year with the same family
in 1979. Now I've returned to visit the Secoya village for two months, to continue
learning about the ability of these native people not just to survive, but to thrive in
an Amazonian rainforest of northern Peru.

Some 500 years ago, before the arrival of Europeans in the New World, 16,000
to 20,000 Secoyas inhabited the rainforests of Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia.
Today, perhaps 1,000 individuals live in villages scattered throughout the north-
west Amazon.

With support from Peru's Center of Amazonian Anthropology and its Practical
Applicadon, I first joined the Secoyas to observe their use of native plants, espe-
cially for food and medicine. At the time, I was working on a degree in human
ecology— the study of humans and their relationship to their environment— and the
Secoya people revealed an extraordinary interdependence with their surrounding
forest habitat. I went back in 1982 to collect a wide range of plants that the
Secoyas use daily.

-continued on page 6

Also in this Issue:

■ Editor's Note

■ Graduate Profile

■ Personal Notes

■ UNCED: A North
American Youth

In Memoriam

William H. Drury


See page 3

Editor s Note-

Johannah Bernstein '83

The Earth Summit Will Make or Break
the Two-year UNCED Process

The Preparatory Committee (Prep Com) for the United Nations
Conference on Environment and Development officially ended its two
years' work on April 4 at 5 a.m.

The fourth session of the Prep Com, which began March 2, marked
the final phase of negotiations in preparation for the Earth Summit in
Rio de Janeiro in June. Prep Com IV was neither an unmitigated dis-
aster nor an overwhelming success.

Progress was achieved particularly with up to 85% of Agenda 21
(the 750-page global "Green Plan") in varying states of agreement. It
is the unresolved 15% that is deeply problematic.

The most difficult and contentious issues remaining for settlement
at the Earth Summit itself include: the statement of forest principles
(the precursor to a future global forests convention); climate change;
transfer of environmentally appropriate technology to the developing
world; the institutional arrangements necessary to implement Agenda
21; and most intractable, the magnitude and means of transferring
dollars to developing countries to help them reach the norms that are
expected to emerge after Rio.

Thus, what was expected to be a two-week photo opportunity in
Rio has become the most critical negotiating meeting held so far.
Government officials will attempt to conclude what hundreds of offi-
cials have been unable to resolve over two years. Here is an overview
of the task for the heads of state at Rio and what was achieved in New

* Finance: Negotiations collapsed principally over issues relating to
the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), the mechanism proposed to
finance Agenda 21 and other global conventions, including climate
change and biodiversity. The issue will remain highly contentious -
and one of the most difficult to negotiate at Rio.

* Climate change: The most important discussions on climate
change are taking place under the auspices of the Intergovernmental
Negotiating Committee (INC). Right now, the major outstanding
issue is the lack of agreement about specific targets and timetables for
reducing C02 emissions, with the U.S. opposing such measures.

* Technology transfer: North and South remain divided over the
transfer of environmentally appropriate technology. Northern coun-
tries favor transferring such technology at market rates. Southern
countries say they can afford such technology only through preferen-
tial or concessional rates.

* Consumption: There appeared to be a lack of willingness by the
North to deal seriously with this issue. Over-consumption in the
North and the unmet desires for the basics in the South means a
change in the use of natural capital and lifestyles. Few countries were
prepared to deal with these core issues. U.S. opposition to any lan-
guage that could threaten the "American way of life" was very evident.

* International economy: Northern countries were unwilling to
seriously address the changes needed in the international economy to
encourage sustainable development. Political will is lacking to initiate

-continued on page 12

Of the


is published in three times each year by

the College of the Adantic Alumni

Association, COA's alumni organization

since 1982.

Spring 1992 Edition, Vol 7 No. 2


Johannah Bernstein '83
Cynthia Borden-Chisholm '85

■ COAA Board Members

until June 30, 1992

Rick Waters '77, Secretary

13 Main Street
Noank, Ct 06340
(203) 572-9044

Johannah Bernstein '83

76 Glebe Avenue, Apt. 1
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada K1S 2C3
(613) 231-2090 (home)
(613)238-3811 (work)
(613) 594-2948 (FAX)

Gail Henderson-King '82

58 Lakeview Park
Shelbourne, VT 05482
(802) 985-4143 (home)
(802) 862-0098 (work)

Andrea Lepcio '79

2 Grove Street #1A
New York, NY 10014
(212) 727-7423 (home)
(212) 310-7754 (work)

Janey Winchell '82

51 Harris street
Waltham, MA 02154
(617) 647-9369 (home)
(508) 371-4242 (work)

Cynthia Borden-Chisholm '85

Alumni Coordinator
College of the Adantic
105 Eden St.
Bar Harbor, ME 04609
(207) 288-5613

(207) 288-50 15 Prmled on Recycled Paper ^


William Holland Drury, Jr.

Almost a year and a half ago, a few of us
realized that Bill Drury was approaching
his 70th birthday and was starting to
reduce his teaching commitment at the
College. Wouldn't it be wonderful and
fitting, we discussed then, to pull togeth-
er the "Drury gang" — a bunch of Bill's
students, proteges, and even mentors?
We began with the thought of celebrat-
ing his 70th year, but expanded the idea
into a mini-symposium, where some of
the many luminaries who had molded
their ideas across the Drury kitchen table
could share their theories and work, and
honor Bill for his contributions.

I have to admit that part of my
motive was selfish. (Bill would have
applauded my frank admission of an
attribute he saw widespread in nature:
selfishness — or, as he would often couch
it, enlightened self-interest.) I wanted to
create an occasion where we could get
Bill to tell us the current state of his
thinking. I'd grown impatient with wait-
ing for him to finish his book — what I
knew would be his grand synthesis— and
I wanted to hear it now, to finally get at
the larger truth that had been formulat-
ing inside that bespectacled head for so
many years.

March 18, 1921 -March 26, 1992
by John O. Biderman '77

Then, suddenly, word spread late last
fall that he had taken ill. He began a
steady decline and never made a turn
back. (In retrospect, the swiftness of
Bill's departure was best for
him. He could not have
tolerated a prolonged time
dwelling on some low
plateau.) Time was short,
and Bill knew it. During
his illness, his mind became
completely focused on three

"Bill was a
questioner and
iconoclast. His

"Renaissance Man" applied to Bill better
than almost anyone we could ever know.
"If you were going to start a really small
college," Ed said in his eulogy for Bill,
"say for fifteen or twenty stu-
dents, and you could only hire
one faculty member , it's obvi-
ous who that faculty person
would be: Bill Drury."

Bill was the consummate
all-around naturalist, almost a
man out of his time: a 19th-

things; his family; his book curiosity helped us centu T s tyl e gentleman-scien-

and the synthesis of ideas he
had been working on; and
the future of the College.

The book remains a
great unfinished work, and I

hunger for it now more

than ever, now that I can no longer get
the brief, refreshing doses of conversa-
tion with Bill on my trips to Bar Harbor.

But Bill's contribution to the College
is also an unfinished work, and what a
blow his loss will be. For many years,
sometimes stressfully, sometimes unpop-
ularly, Bill was an intellectual beacon and
academic conscience for COA. As Ed
Kaelber, who lured Bill to the College,
has pointed out, the hackneyed term

look more deeply
at the world. "

-Steve Katona

Bill examines a young hawk with his son Billy, age 5, in this 1958 photo.

tist, a patient and close observ-
er of nature. He was well-read
and well-travelled, also
anachronistic qualities. He
was a bridge between genera-
tions of ecologists and etholo-
gists, having studied with Ernst Mayr and
hobnobbed with Konrad Lorenz, yet
helped shape the ideas of Robert Trivers
and launch the seabird studies of George
Hunt. And as a Teacher, he was non-
pareil, because almost every encounter
with Bill brought out some new knowl-
edge, some new way of linking seemingly
disparate bits of information, some new
perspective or context.

Bill was involved in the fascinating
and daring endeavor of debunking eco-
logical theory (almost "deconstructing"
it, if we can avoid the pejorative connota-
tions of that term in the modem acade-
my), tossing out what he thought were
errant theories that didn't hold up under
close scrutiny and salvaging what was
useful, rooted in the principle of natural
selection. Much of ecology, Bill pointed
out, was dominated by closed-system
models and self-organizing principles
(density dependence, competition, suc-
cession). Bill's field observations and
reading of the literature revealed to him
a world of open and stochastic systems,
punctuated at points in time by intense
interactions among species and between
species and their (unstable) environ-
ments. Change is the chief constant.
That is the challenging stuff of his book,
presented with customary erudition and
extending this alternative view to human
affairs. While the task of finishing the
manuscript he left goes on, we are left
still thirsting for its publication.

I have come to grips with Bill's
demise in part by recollecting something

-continued on page 13

What Is UNCED ?

The United Nations Conference on Environmental and
Development (UNCED) will be the most important opportu-
nity in this decade to set the world on a path toward a more
equitable, just and sustainable future.

In June of 1992, Rio de Janeiro will be the site of an
unprecedented international meeting, the United Nations
Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED).
Convened to consider the future of humanity as it struggles
to balance development pressures against an increasingly
imperiled global environment, UNCED has been billed as
nothing less than an "Earth Summit". It will bring together
heads of state from almost every nation on the planet to
define plans of action for achieving a future that is environ-
mentally sound and equitable between nations and peoples,
as well as generations.

Joining the world's leaders will be thousands of citizens
from every nation participating in both the formal Summit
process as well as in parallel negotiating events. UNCED
will be an excellent opportunity for citizen groups (known
in international negotiating terms as non-governmental
organizations - NGOs for short) worldwide to develop joint
international strategies to assure that sustainable develop-
ment policies result from the environmental/development
debate. These citizen activists bring to the Summit and the
parallel meetings local, regional, national, and global exper-
tise that complements the resources of national delegations.
Further, widespread citizen activist participation in Riowill
help assure that the Summit process receives the widest pos-
sible coverage.

The Conference must not be seen as an end in itself, but
rather as the start of a long-term process and an opportunity
to carry on simultaneous goals: to learn from other NGOs
about environmentally sustainable development policies in
their countries and to identify what policies will require
international pressure by NGOs worldwide. Citizen groups
must at the same time begin to hold governments account-
able to the highest possible standards for their actions in
preparation for the Summit, leading up to the Summit itself
and in its follow-up. At stake is the ability of nations to work
with another to chart a path to a sustainable future founded
on environmentally sound and equitable policies.

The UNCED follows many years of work within the inter-
national community to agree to policies on a range of issues
related to environmental and development. These include
the Stockholm Conference on the Environment (1972), the
World Charter for Nature (1982) and the "World
Commission on Environment and Development (popularly
called the "Brunddand Commission") (1987). At this
moment in history, however, the urgency of these issues is
evident in a way that has never been quite the same before.

The interest and momentum that UNCED has generated
thus far suggests that the "time is right". For UNCED, the
conditions seem such that it is possible for governments, in
concert with citizen's groups, to truly do something new
towards securing a just and environmentally sustainable
economy. Just one indication of the new situation is the
growing understanding that a new international charter of
rights, or Earth Charter, is needed, which situates the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights within the wider
context of the rights of humanity.

The 1987 "Brunddand Commission" changed the focus
of the international environment agenda with its emphasis

on sustainable development. Never again will it be possible
to approach issues of environment and development in iso-
lation from one another. Now, it is UNCED which must
assume the task of creating the political will to move this
emphasis into international policy implementation.

Sustainable Development is "...development which meets
the needs of the present without compromising the ability
of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainable
development is not a fixed state of harmony, but rather a
process of change in which the exploitation of resources,
the direction of investments, the orientation of technologi-
cal development, and institutional change are made consis-
tent with future as well as present needs. This process is not
easy or straightforward. Painful choices have to be made.
Thus, in the final analysis, sustainable development must
rest on political will" (our Common Future, Oxford

The 1991 United Nations Human Development Report
states that it is not a lack of resources that is responsible for

-continued on page 16

"Why UNCED is doomed to fail:

A North American Youth Perspective"
by Colleen O'Brien '92

A great deal of grandeur and ceremony has shrouded the
real implications (or lack thereof) of the United Nations
Conference on Environment and Development, (UNCED),
ambitiously referred to as the Earth Summit. At its concep-
tion in 1989 at the United Nations, the Earth Summit was
looked upon as a turning point for environment on the glob-
al agenda; the move to concrete action in the form of bind-
ing global agreements on ending environmental degrada-
tion. But what has occurred, mainly because of the stance of
the First World (and in particular the Bush administration),
is the development of a media event in which these same
First World nations plan to sit at a table in Rio de Janeiro in
June 1992 and paint themselves green. Further, the tables
have become increasingly lopsided as the agenda is increas-
ingly tilted towards First World initiatives.


Twenty years ago, at the United Nations Conference on
the Human Environment (UNCHE) in Sweden, environment
was first placed on the global agenda. The outcome: the
recognition that economic development and environmental
impact are correlated. In the receding tide of the confer-
ence came the birth of the concept of "sustainable develop-
ment." In 1978, the UN World Commission on
Environment and Development produced "Our Common
Future," a report in which the concept of sustainable devel-
opment was developed, and strategies and plans for global
and national approaches were presented.

Twenty years later, as the flags are being raised over Rio,
a wake of failed projects and undeveloped plans for a sus-
tainable future lie strewn across the beaches. Increased envi-
ronmental degradation, population explosions, natural
resource exploitation, and poverty are at an all-time high.

-continued on page 12

i ■



"Marisa's Peaches," avant-garde performers, at the Cat's Head II.


Anna Hurwitz '84: On the Waterfront

Stark against the smog-tinged sky, remnants
of glass jag out from a massive old window
frame on the side of the old warehouse-
Music blasts out through rafters criss-cross
under the corrugated iron roof, or extend
into the open air forming patterns against
the clouds. Below in a space transformed
into a huge gallery/theater/carnival,
throngs of people are milling around
dressed up, energy-fused fascinated. The
scene is an old mustard factory in the
almost pristine prescene-ness(sic) of
Williamsburg. The massive space is ren-
dered spectacularly by art installations set
up in and around old wooden mustard vats
that vibrate with the sound of driving
thrash rock and pulsate with the energy of
several hundred souls taking it all in.

Helena Mulkerns,
entertainment critic
Downtown, July 1990

Set against a 52-foot backdrop of
sparkling mural of night colors created
by Anna Hurwitz, '84, the first Cat's
Head project happens. A fish bowl sits
in the middle of a carpet of multi-col-
ored pom-poms encircled by chairs,
comprising the "Dingle Ball Bash," an
installation by Keith. The DJ and co-

collaborator, Craig Collins, produces
fleeting shadow-imprints of bystanders
on the wall, Nagasaki-style in "Art in
the Dark." Numerous other installa-
tions involving the collaboration of
over 30 artists fill the cavernous space.
Next came the eagerly awaited Cat's
Head II, featuring "Scrap Metal Music"
and "The Spider's Web." An interactive

performance, the audience beat the
scrap metal strewn about with rusted
car remnants while those who dared,
climbed up to the rafters on an elabo-
rate rope web rising from the floor.

The Cat's Head is not a place, it is a
group of roving artists. In exchange for
clearing abandoned warehouses of rub-
-continued on page 1 1

Aunt Kitty's "Dingle Ball Bath" at the first Cat's Head


The SeCOya continued from page 1

Eugenia, Secoya Indian and her daughter paddling down Santa Maria River. Canoe and paddle made from two differ-
ent trees. Buttresses of large trees are used to make the paddle. Northern Peruvian Amazon. steven r. king photo

blunting stories

Elmalinda fans the fire and adds a few more sticks of dead
wood that Antonio and I had carried home the day before.
The villagers will work for a few hours during the cooler
morning, then sleep again for an hour or two before dawn.

Mariano, the leader to this village of 35 people, and
Antonio begin to process the new leaf growth of the nukwa
palm, which is collected at random as the Secoyas canoe and
trek through the forest, hunting and gathering. They have
already pulled off the hard edge of the palm's new leaf, then
boiled and dried the thin, one-inch-long strips. Now, in a
procedure similar to spinning wool into yarn, they are rolling
the dried fibers on the tops of their thighs to form a continu-
ous twine. It will be used to make hammocks, traps, brooms,
necklaces, bags for carrying wild and cultivated fruits, even
fishing line. As long as the nukwa palms are producing new
leaves, the villagers will spend hours each day collecting the
leaves and creating their essential twine. As they work,
Antonio tells hunting stories and jokingly describes how I had
discovered stinging ants the day before in a plant I had col-
lected. Marta is snacking on the purple fruits of the konsa
palm that were first soaked, then heated in a large clay pot
the previous afternoon. The delicious flesh she pulls from
the seed is rich in oil and protein, and when it's mixed with
boiled sweet bananas to make a drink, the result is something

that looks like, and tastes even better than, hot chocolate.
The konsa palm is one of many native forest species that sup-
ply the Secoyas with high-quality nutrients; its oils also are
used to treat lung ailments.

Although I've left my sleeping mat and climbed into my
hammock, I begin to wonder how long I'll last, yoco's coffee-
like properties notwithstanding. My body has not yet reaccus-
tomed itself to the Secoyas' early-morning work and social

(collecting the forest's bounty

At dawn Mariano nudges me awake. I'm reminded that
today is a minga, a communal work party, and the rest of the
able-bodied villagers are waiting for me. After dressing, I run
down to the river and climb aboard one of four canoes.

We pass Moori-doy as he maneuvers his small, eight-foot-
long canoe away from us into a tiny stream. With the rainy
season upon us, the forest trails are inundated; canoeing is
often simpler than walking. This elder Secoya, who has been
unable to hear or speak since birth, is off to find his favorite
fishing hole where he'll use a small palm fruit from the genus
Bactris as bait to catch the large fish that migrate through the
forest during the rainy season to feed on seeds and fruit.

As we paddle down the river, we frequently swerve toward
the riverbank to collect green-ribbed seed pods from the low-
hanging branches of various Inga tree species. Everyone rel-

ishes the sweet white meat surrounding the pod-covered
seeds. The past decade's research on the nutritional value of
these and other native wild foods has revealed that they pro-
vide a wide array of essential vitamins and minerals.

Two hours later we tie our boats to a group
of shoreline trees and strike out on a forest
trail. Always on the lookout for useful plants,
Antonio stops to pull down the aerial roots of
ayai vine. An epiphytic climber with pink blos-
soms, it's used to lash together house timbers
and palm-roof thatching. Our next discovery is
a wirisaka tree from which we collect both bark
and edible fruits. The dark-brown bark yields
a substance used to treat diarrhea, and the
Secoyas fashion ornamental armbands from
the fragrant strips. These and other plants are
gathered only as they are seen and needed.

In a few hours we reach a small clearing
whose centerpiece is Alberto's new canoe
carved from the preferred canoe-building tree,
ma mai. He has tied a long length of vine to
the boat's bow so that we can help him pull the
canoe through the forest to the river. Although ma mai is
prized for its lightness, Alberto's canoe is heavy, and every-
one hoots and harasses him good-naturedly for his haste in
launching the craft: had he
dug out his log more deeply,
the boat would have been far

As we drag the canoe
across the forest floor,
Papale suddenly howls in
pain. He's been bitten by a
black conga ant. Though
not lethal, the bite is quite
painful, and Papale's wife,
Eugenia, disappears down
the trail in search of a reme-
dy. While she's away,
Alberto serves all of us fer-
mented manioc beer which in
consistency and taste is best
compared to an alcoholic
milkshake. Manioc tubers,

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Online LibraryEusebio BlascoThe Peregrine (Volume Spring 1992) → online text (page 1 of 3)