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Kyle Schutter '06 is the Founder and Managing Director of Takamoto Biogas—a pay-as-you-go biogas company providing a clean, sustainable energy solution to people who otherwise depend on unhealthy cooking fuels.
After graduating from Brown University with a degree in engineering, Kyle decided to move to Africa to start a business designing and building biogas systems for farmers in rural areas. These biogas systems provide gas for cooking and other purposes, and Kyle has devised a way to make the systems affordable for farmers, which could change the lives of millions of families. Kyle has grown the company from a "crazy idea" to a dedicated team of 20 employees and was recently selected as one of 12 high impact enterprises in Africa.
We are very proud of Kyle for the innovative work that he is doing. Kyle recently returned to Kimberton Waldorf School to share the challenges, funny moments, successes of start-up life in Kenya, and the benefits of his Waldorf Education.
William Alexander, KWS Class of '95 Wins the National Book Award for Young People's Literature for His First Novel, Goblin Secrets
After graduating from Kimberton in 1995, Will studied theater and folklore at Oberlin College and English at the University of Vermont. He currently lives, writes, and teaches in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he lives with his wife, artist Alice Dodge and their two children: two-year-old son Liam and two-week-old daughter Iris. His short stories have been published in many magazines and anthologies, including Weird Tales, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, Interfictions 2, and Fantasy: The Best of the Year 2008.
In an interview with Publishers Weekly, Will commented on the genre of his novel: "The thing about all stories, really, but especially about fantasy, is that they have the potential to throw our basic human assumptions about ourselves into question." Will also mentioned that he does much of his writing during the day: "Liam is so good at napping, it's made all of this possible. He gave me a solid three-hour chunk of writing time while he napped each day." When accepting his award, Will quoted from an essay in Ursula K. Le Guin's Cheek by Jowl about the importance of fantasy.To read more about Will and his book, please click here.
Service From the Heart: Lorraine Thompson Baron ('83)
Service is at the heart of Lorraine Thompson Baron’s existence. From being a stay-at-home mom to walking the dusty streets of Managua, Nicaragua, Lorraine believes that helping others is a priority – and one that gives extraordinary fulfillment.
Lorraine has been active in church work and has participated in community service all of her life. In 2006, she traveled to Kisumu, Kenya with the Million Leader Mandate to train pastors and leaders in churches through a three-day leadership training. In July of the same year, Lorraine visited Nicaragua with a group of 27 parishioners where she spoke at various churches for ten days. She also does community service through her membership in the Atlanta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha.
Lorraine thrived at Kimberton Waldorf School, where she attended tenth through twelfth grades. The class of 18 students welcomed Lorraine with open arms and she quickly blossomed. “At Kimberton, I got in touch with every facet of life as this education spoke to my free spirit within,” Lorraine remembers. “Not being confined to a traditional setting, I thrived. I really enjoyed having nature as my classroom.”
Lorraine’s present wish is to return to Pennsylvania where she can be close to her large family and friends. Lorraine hopes to attend the Alumni Gathering in Baltimore, Maryland, so please come out to see her!
When Brenda Wolf Smith ‘93 opened the Chameleon Cafe with her husband Jeff eight years ago, she had never had experience with bartending, hosting or cooking in an industrial kitchen -- not to mention bookkeeping and marketing. Today, they are listed in Zagat Guide to the top restaurants in the world. The secret to her success? “The menu is seasonal,” Brenda said. “Whenever possible, we buy from the local Farmer’s Markets. We have an excellent team in the kitchen, all of whom have creative input in the menu, our wine list is reasonable and our service good.” The atmosphere is so warm and relaxing that many people have commented that they feel like they’re in a restaurant in France and forget that they’re on Harford Road in Baltimore! It wasn’t always that way.
“When we opened, one of our greatest challenges was learning how to run a business,” Brenda said. “We had great food and service, were relatively busy, but had $150 dollars (after payroll) after being open for nine months. We were doing something wrong.” Brenda got a hold of a textbook The Principles of Beverage, Food, and Labor Cost Control, read it from cover to cover and did all the homework. “We made changes, and are still in business after eight years,” Brenda added. Now some of her challenges include maintaining the restaurant in the face of the recession, trying to find a sense of balance in their lives, and raising their two daughters.
“My husband Jeff had been cooking for 16 years and talked about opening his own restaurant,” Brenda said. “An opportunity came along to buy, and I suggested he should go for it." Just three weeks before opening, Brenda realized that she was going to have to throw herself into it full-time as well if they were going to make it. “During the first year I learned a lot,” Brenda said. “We’ve had many successes along the way -- we’ve gotten excellent reviews, developed a loyal clientele, and have extremely low turnover of staff, but I think our greatest success was pioneering the revitalization of our neighborhood business district.” After a number of years, new businesses have opened. There is a weekly Farmer’s Market across the street, two coffee shops, a bookstore, a yarn shop, a hair salon with spa services, acupuncture, and a number of other things.
Like a chameleon, change was part of Brenda’s motto. They went from a cafe-style menu with muffins, quiche and sandwiches, to a more formal dinner service. The menu changes seasonally. “We learned that for the most part chameleons’ colors change with their moods and to attract mates rather than to blend in,” Brenda said. “We don’t aim to have the restaurant blend in, but to stand out in people’s memories and to have them come to dine!”
Brenda’s siblings also attended Kimberton Waldorf School: Roger ‘94; Francis ‘96; Stephanie ‘98; and Christopher ‘06.
Creating a Healthy Future
Clemens Pietzner (class of 1973) and Mark Birdsall (eighth-grade class of 1961) have stayed very close to Waldorf education, anthroposophy, and the spirit of Rudolf Steiner. After teaching Waldorf education for many years, Mark now works with Clemens, who is president of Triskeles, an organization and donor-advised fund dedicated to supporting philanthropy and socially responsible, sustainable investment. Fittingly, given these uncaring economic times, our talk turned to money—how it is created, how it moves, and how it can serve the world positively through our stewardship.
Stockmar crayons and beeswax in rainbow colors (warmed to a palpable softness by placing it under your arm) is what dreams are made of. They are also the ultimate care packages when mailed to Waldorf graduates who are facing the high anxiety associated with an overloaded college schedule, exams and extra-curricular activities.
Getting a welcome surprise like this isn’t all that Audrey McGonigle received after starting at Loyola College in Maryland. “The summer before my freshman year, I found out that I would be rooming with a fellow Waldorfian!” Audrey explained. “It was so awesome.” Audrey, who attended Kimberton Waldorf School from kindergarten through eighth grade, attended high school at Villa Maria.
Most of the students did not even know what Waldorf education was,” Audrey said. “So when I found out that my roommate, Brittney Gibbons, had also attended a Waldorf school -- Aurora Waldorf School in Buffalo, I was so excited.”
In the coming months, both roommates could throw out words like “handwork” and “eurythmy” and not have to provide long, detailed explanations.
“Rooming with someone from a Waldorf school certainly made the adjustment to college life much easier,” Audrey said. “Brittney and I got along really well, which I am sure is due in part to the values Waldorf education instilled in us both."
And what of the care package? “Everyone was jealous of it, especially the beeswax!” Audrey has just returned for her sophomore year at Loyola.