PROJECT LEAD TEAM
JESS LAMAR REECE HOLLER, Project Director, Oral Historian/Fieldworker + Exhibit Co-Curator:
Born and raised with a ton of food and chemical sensitivities in an old brick farmhouse near (Westerville’s) Hoover Dam, Jess Lamar Reece Holler is an oral historian, community-based public folklorist and documentarian living and working in Columbus, Ohio (and sometimes in Philadelphia). After working as an environmental educator on a ship on the Puget Sound, and as a farmer, cook and teacher at a Quaker farm school in the Sierra Nevadas, Jess returned home to Central Ohio to (so she thought) start an organic farm on her grandparents’ property in Marion County— and to help document and share out the stories of the good food and environmental movements. Suffice to say, the farm’s been a long time coming. Trained in public-sector folklore, oral history and community curation, Jess now works in the emerging formation of the “public environmental humanities,” and is interested in how environmental humanities theory and ethics can be informed by and also productively transform technologies of media documentation and public humanities exhibition. Her oral history and ethnographic projects have focused around environmental justice, place, memory, “bad attachments,” embodied ecologies, and environmental health, with special attention to vernacular articulations of experience with site-based environmental toxicity, and “everyday toxicity” — including exposure to pesticides, plastics and food-based toxins. Jess founded Philadelphia’s Eastwick Oral History Project, documenting community response to toxic landscapes in Southwest Philadelphia; documented back-of-house kitchen work culture in Columbus for an Archie Green Fellowship for the Occupational Folklife Project at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress; and she is currently project director and lead interviewer for the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s Growing Right: Ecological Farming in Ohio, 1970’s-Now Oral History Project — a documentation, digital environmental humanities and experimental pop-up media installation and exhibit project mobilizing histories of ecological agriculture for our interlinked food, farm and environmental futures; and the Marion Voices Folklife + Oral History Project with the Marion County Historical Society in Marion County. All credit goes to her border collie, Isaly Caledonia: the real brains of this operation.
Jess is a public folklorist and oral historian consulting on public humanities, public history and public folklore projects throughout Ohio, and is Principal with Caledonia Northern Folk Studios, a multi-media community-collaborative folklore and oral history consultancy based in Columbus and Marion County, Ohio.
SCOTT WILLIAMS, Community Archivist + Print Culture Exhibition Co-Curator:
A Columbus, Ohio native, I started a small import business after high school to help pay for my world travels which lasted about five years. Eating a healthy Third World diet for so long, processed American food made me sick. Add to that a healthy case of reverse culture shock. So deciding to give up world travel and sink my roots back home, I became involved with several of our local highly-networked movements of the era made up of young people. We were creating alternative institutions to serve our needs, set examples, and demand change. I gravitated to the local natural foods co-op for several reasons and was hired. I became active in the Federation of Ohio River Co-operatives (FORC) that was just forming in 1976. This led to my early volunteer work for OEFFA. I decided I needed a college degree, but what? Representing FORC on a World Hunger & Food Issues panel I met a co-panelist professor from OSU and ended up getting a degree in Human Ecology with a side certificate in East Asian Studies. My OSU work allowed me to also intern with the Ohio Council of Farmer Cooperatives and work inside OSU’s Health Sciences Library where I learned all I could about library sciences. For most of the next 25 years, I worked for Central Ohio nonprofits specializing in grants — their writing, management, budgets, compliance, and evaluation (impact) reporting. I obtained a professional certification in grants and have served twice as President of our Central Ohio Grant Professionals Association. I am currently semi-retired and turning my attention to a life-long project related to the history of world travel accounts and imagery. Oh yes! I continue to volunteer–now and then–for OEFFA! Please think about doing so, too!
JEREMY PURSER, Lead Graphic/Exhibit Designer
Raised in a small Air Force town in North Carolina, Jeremy Purser consumed visual culture faster than his rural environment and transient milieu could provide. After a couple of missteps in undergraduate declarations, Jeremy settled on a Bachelor of Arts with a focus in printmaking from the University of North Carolina. Followed quickly by an addendum at North Carolina State University, Jeremy earned a professional degree in graphic design where he also directed the design of NC State’s annual arts and literary magazine, Windhover. In the era of “print is dead,” Jeremy moved to New York City to find otherwise. He ran through a few a jobs that opened his eyes to new world views where ideas such as “dream job” or “career” lost their magic. A confluence of these changes and an opportunity in Hudson, New York led to a graphic design position with Modern Farmer magazine. He worked as junior designer on two issues of the quarterly magazine with editor-in-chief Anne Marie Gardner and art director Sarah Gephart. After a few shocks of startup turbulence, Jeremy left the magazine and New York’s Hudson Valley to move to his partner’s home of Central Ohio, and then back home to Durham, North Carolina. There, he uses design as skill set to assist institutions, movements, and campaigns he believes in — like this one: Growing Right!
Jeremy is a freelance graphic designer specializing in sustainable agriculture design via his design label, SLOWPOACH Design Studio.