Living Chapters: part two

This January I am turning the page to part two of this year long challenge.  Join me in a new location and in new adventures.

Meet and welcome the new Living Chapters players!


Ashley and me

The Writer
Ashley Duffalo
St. Paul, MN

Theme: The Environment

I’ve been a fan and a friend of Beth’s ever since elementary school when a very special mutual friend by the name of Leah McClimans first introduced us. Although Beth and I were in different school districts and didn’t often see each other throughout the ensuing years, we kept connected and still do during various holidays and over long phone calls (remember long phone calls?!). It was in Glasgow, during our junior year of college when I realized two things about Beth: she is hands-down the best traveling companion I’ve ever known and she’s always game for an adventure. I suppose Living Chapters is proof of that!

In many ways our friendship has always felt like one long, engaging conversation that we keep returning to, despite separations of time and space. No matter how long the gap since we last spoke, we can always pick up where we left off, which I find very reassuring. This photo was taken during our last trip together to Montreal while standing under one of Bucky Fuller’s geodesic domes.

About me: I unexpectedly stumbled into my adult life in Minneapolis/St. Paul, a place I’m finally comfortable calling home after 11 years. A big part of my commitment to this sometimes frozen tundra is due to the Walker Art Center, where I’ve been mining the pleasures and pain that come with working with artists and the public at a non-profit contemporary art museum. (Where else could I help produce an opera for dogs or host a butter-making aerobics class?!) When not working, I find great happiness in cooking and hanging out at home with Yoshimi, Bindi and John, my two cats and boyfriend.

I’m super excited to kick off 2014 with Beth via Living Chapters, as she’ll be starting the year setting up shop in St. Croix. I’ve also recently relocated, albeit a shorter less exotic move, from Minneapolis to St. Paul. So it seems like the perfect time for us to reconsider our relationship to place and environment.

Dave Schott

The Wild Card 
Dave Schott
currently in the US often in France and always wandering
Theme: The Environment

Forest firefighter, traveler, farmer, and lover of nature and free open spaces. My free time is filled with outdoor pursuits and hiking, reading, watching documentaries, cooking (while listening to Democracy Now, and enjoying the company of friends. I have never been one to stay long in one place, enjoying the freedom of new experiences, new people and new places. With this has come a depth of wonderful experiences, realizations, and friends. My dreams are now calling on me to root down so that I can start a more grounded project working with the earth, plants, and perma-culture. This proves to be a serious challenge for one who is used to being on the move……

I grew up in the Baltimore suburbs and left after high school, studying in Appalachia, serving with Americorps in St Louis, chasing wildfires in Washington state, while traveling and WWOOFing in between. Yet always returning every so often to Baltimore to visit family and friends eventually coming upon the budding community of Remington where I encountered many wonderful people starting diverse projects. When I met Beth, she was immersed in her community explorations and I was impressed by her creative inquisitive nature and drive to realize her projects. We would catch up over a bottle of wine and she would tell me about current and future undertakings. When she told me about the idea for living chapters, I knew she was onto something good. I have been asked to be a wild card and am happy to be part of the project. Lately I have been busy scheming up ways to make January 2014 more difficult for her (haha – Just kidding Beth). On the contrary, I hope to be a spark to help kick of 2014 to be one of positive growth, change, and reflection in the next chapter of her life!


539422_10151174038286665_664532003_nThe Writer
Max von Duerckheim
Barnesville, MD

Theme: Interpersonal Relationships

I’m delighted to come on-board for this project as February’s writer!  I’ve known Beth since a few years back when we became acquainted through her work at the Maryland Humanities Council.  Since then, I’ve doggedly shown up in her life wherever the adventures of the last few years have taken her (read: the awesomest untold corners of Maryland; though I have yet to get to all the cool ones she makes it to).  I’m a failed theatre maker and actor and love that I’m able to say that!  Since giving up the good life of making ends almost meet through arts work, I have been living in a shared home in the country of Maryland with my mother and three cats, and taking what delightful work comes my way.  I’m also very good at sitting on porches and keeping in touch with those I love.


The Wild Cards 
Aliza Ess and Lee Widger
Theme: Interpersonal Relationships

We three met in Remington, Baltimore! Beth and Lee were neighborhood friends involved in projects like the creation of GRIA, the Greater Remington Improvement Association. One fateful May, Aliza happened by a party on Huntingdon Ave and overheard Lee talking about his chickens. It was love. They raised chickens, ducks, mini goats, and a garden in Remington over the course of several years. Aliza met Ms. B through Lee and has spent many happy times enjoying Beth’s company, eating muskrat on the Eastern Shore together and seeing her many beautiful homes over the past several years. Lee and Aliza will soon be heading on to new adventures in Kentucky. We look forward to keeping in touch with Beth and seeing her creative energy shine.


Seth 2

The Writer
Seth Fertenbaugh
Dillsburg, PA

Theme: Existential

I am a musician/historian/social worker from Harrisburg, PA.  I spend most of my time attempting to concurrently read a book, watch a movie, and drink coffee while trying to remember something I’ve forgotten.  When I’m not doing these things, I’m writing and recording music with my brother under the name Slobulus.  Songs about Moby Dick, Werner Herzog, and sloths with laser eyes.  None of these ventures are financially rewarding so I do have a day job where my graduate work in history has never once hampered my ability to return an email or fax a report.  Never once.  I’ve also written a treatise on Emma Goldman, which I’m sure is of interest to no one outside of academia except the guy at the NSA who monitors library records.

I’ve known Beth since the early 1990s when we were in chemistry class together.  She gave me a tape of the Violent Femmes, I gave her some poems I wrote and a mix tape.  Since then we have spent most of our friendship exchanging music, making art, watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail, hanging out in graveyards, photographing in diners, and getting reprimanded by authority.

The Wild Cards 
Alexis Vasilos and Brian Buta
Baltimore, MD

Theme: Existential

Alexis says: My interests in travel and the arts have led me to various places around the globe, perhaps most memorably was Florence, Italy where I spent my time studying the Italian language, painting and sculpting.  I also spent five years in New York City where I attended the New York Academy of Art’s graduate program. When New York eventually lost its shine for me I relocated to Baltimore where I embarked on my teaching career. I have taught art to people of all ages. I have taught 5 year olds how to paint like Jackson Pollock and I have taught 80 year olds how to make crepe paper flowers. Most of the time though, I instruct college students in drawing, painting and design.  In 2011 I pursued another passion of mine, and am now a Certified Yoga Instructor, focusing mainly on restorative and meditative style practices.

I met Beth Barbush after I moved to the Remington neighborhood of Baltimore. From my vantage point in an apartment across the street I would see her out on her porch entertaining a constant cast of characters and I thought to myself, I’d like to know that girl. And lucky for me I not only know her now, but I consider her one of my dearest friends. Once we met we became fast friends and confidants. I am still in awe of her, just as I was from afar and now I know she is even cooler up close. I am very honored to be a part of her Living Chapters project along with my husband Brian Buta. If it wasn’t for Beth and her love for people, Brian and I may never have met and we would not have this wonderful new little person in our lives. We welcomed Lucas James Buta into the world this past June, on Father’s Day.

Brian says: Echoing all that Alexis said above, I’m a huge Beth fan and I’m excited and thankful to play a part in her Living Chapters project.  Shortly after moving to Remington, I met Beth and was quickly recruited, along with the fantastic Jason Reed, to help with Remington Youth Community Radio.  RYCR was a fun, challenging and rewarding experience, and a great way to learn about the neighborhood.  And the immersion into the community eventually led me to meet my wife, Alexis, for which I am most grateful.  I am a music-lover, as a listener, guitar-player and songwriter.  I work at Johns Hopkins as a research manager where I oversee grant programs focused on improving the aging process for older adults and their loved ones.  My most recent role is the best yet: Dad to Lucas, our bright-eyed six-month old son.



The Writer
Dawn Bennett
Alfred, NY
Theme: Body/Kinesthetic

Dawn Bennett is an artist, exhibit designer, and most recently organic grocery store owner.  She and her son Patrick live in a small town in New York. Dawn met Beth while designing a photography exhibit in Baltimore, MD and then later learned they were neighbors when walking by her front porch in Remington, Baltimore. Dawn is inspired by Beth’s ambition and fearless desire for adventure. Dawn knew instantly that they would be
long lasting friends.


The Wild Card 
Howard Shure
Annapolis, MD
Theme: Body/Kinesthetic



-2The Writer
Dena (Barbush) Wentz
Richmond, VA

Theme: Purpose

I have been able to watch Beth grow through a unique lens, one with a familial focus and one of a friend.   When I reflect on some of our memories together, I think of times from our childhood playing, pretending, crafting and celebrating holidays in our Grandparents’s basement passing out Christmas presents and watching our uncles open gag gifts. I also remember the cherished times during holiday dinners chasing after traditions listening to our mothers talk about politics, plans for the future, and careers.  Now, we can remise and talk about our own careers.

I followed my passion into the world of social services and I am now in an arena where I feel that I can develop my talents and interests.  I have to say that I am thankful to be doing what I love.  While that being said, I have not arrived as I am constantly changing, growing, and developing my skills to improve.

I think about how Beth has grown her career and has helped other people grow in the process, including teaching me many lessons along the way.  She helped me to abandon my fears about starting something new.  Had I not listened to her, I would not be where I am today!  She has used her talents to reach the underserved and to change communities one person at a time.  She has sought more than just a job title but to actually find opportunities to do what she loves, enjoys, and is passionate about and she has encouraged me to do the same!   While not always easy, growth and change are welcomed.  So, for all she was, is, and grows to be, I hope that as part of her purpose, in whatever life experience she takes on or job she works in, she will continue to inspire those in her family, friends, and strangers alike.  Lastly, I must say that I am proud to call her cousin and friend.


The Wild Card 
Myra Margolin
Washington, DC
Theme: Purpose

Myra is a community psychologist with a background in filmmaking and community-based media production.  She met Beth a few years ago in Baltimore and they quickly became friends.  She is from Chicago and has lived on both coasts of the country.



The Writer and Confidant
Elizabeth Brady
Savage, MD

Theme: Conclusions

Artist, designer, dog-lover and wanderer with a passion for social experiments, community projects and personal upheaval and change.  Might be described as someone who helps others identify and face the challenges in their lives, while perpetually creating new ones in my own. (Blame it on the Scorpio in my chart)  I am both extrovert and introvert, I like to learn new things, hate snakes, and hope to always have music, creativity, laughter, boxed wine and interesting people in my life.  Beth Barbush has been one of the most interesting to date, constantly challenging perceptions of life, people and permanence.  I think I’ll learn as much about myself in my role as confidant as I will about my friend.

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