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Religion, Science, Health, and Medicine


Wednesday May 31  10:00-3:00

Talk and Hike: "In the Footsteps of a Wild Vision - Japanese Immigrant George Masa's Journeys on the Highlands Plateau."

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Brent Martin will present on the life of Japanese photographer George Masa with an emphasis on Masa's time spent photographing the Highlands plateau in 1929.  Martin is the author of the recent George Masa's Wild Vision: A Japanese Photographer Imagines Western North Carolina, which won the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award in December of 2022, and which is currently a finalist for the Southern Environmental Law Center's 2023 Reed Environmental Writing Award. Participants will spend part of the day indoors viewing Masa's images and discussing Masa's life, followed by lunch and outings to explore and consider areas that Masa photographed in a modern day context. Bagged lunch provided.

Location:  CLE Lecture Hall

Presenter and Hike Leader: Brent Martin is the full-time director of the Blue Ridge Bartram Trail Conservancy.  He has served as the Southern Appalachian Regional Director for the Wilderness Society, Executive Director of Georgia Forestwatch, and Associate Director of the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee. He has an M.A. and ABD in History from Georgia State University and worked for several years on a dissertation on historical land use patterns in the northwest Georgia mountains.  He is a recipient of the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Southern Environmental Leadership Award and served for two years as the North Carolina Poetry Society’s Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet for the West. He is the author of George Masa's Wild Vision: A Japanese Immigrant Imagines Western North Carolina, winner of the 2022 Wolfe Memorial Literary Prize, and The Changing Blue Ridge Mountains: Essays on Journeys Past and Present. 


Tuesday June 6  10:00-12:00

Ellicott's Rock: Surveyor's Footsteps on the 35th Parallel

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Working for the State of Georgia in 1811, surveyor and astronomer Andrew Ellicott set his famous rock marking the northeast corner of Georgia, common to North Carolina and South Carolina, on the bank of the Chattooga River on the day after Christmas. He had begun his surveys a few months earlier by following the footsteps of previous surveyors, whose conflicting boundaries had fueled the so-called “Walton War” among contentious settlers in that mountainous area. Did they live in North Carolina or in Georgia? Ellicott did settle the war, but his client did not like the answer. Since that time, has anyone recovered Ellicott’s Rock? For the past 200 years most people have looked in the wrong place. Why? Surveyor and historian Tom Robertson answers those questions today, and in his publication Ellicott’s Rock: Surveyors’ Footsteps on the 35th Parallel, culminating over seven years of searches through dusty archives and beautiful mountain wilderness scenery.

Location:  CLE Lecture Hall

Presenter: Thomas Heard Robertson, PE, AICP, RL served as president of Cranston Engineering Group, P.C. for thirty-four years and retired from full-time professional practice in 2021. He currently fills a part-time role as a senior professional engineer and surveyor and participates in specific aspects of the firm’s work where his broad experience can add value for clients. He has fifty years of experience with the firm as a consultant for a wide variety of civil engineering, planning, urban design, land surveying, and historic engineering projects throughout the southeast, including many assignments in the Highlands/Cashiers area. He has authored papers, articles, and books on technical subjects, and on local and regional history.

Monday June 26  10:00-12:00

The Geology of the Plateau, Its Mountains and Its Waterfalls

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Ever wonder why it’s uphill to Highlands, from all directions?  Or why the face of Whiteside Mountain is in part a rough, sheer cliff and in part smoothly rounded?  This program will answer these and many similar questions by exploring the processes, spread over more than 500 million years, that have created the western-North Carolina mountains.  Using concepts and language comfortable for the non-scientist, as well as numerous photographs, graphics and rock samples, Bill Jacobs will discuss not only the Blue Ridge generally, but also the geology that has created the unique Highlands-Cashier Plateau.  In addition, he will examine a wide collection of nearby mountains and waterfalls, explaining how ancient differences in their geologic history continue even today to shape their form and character.

Location:  CLE Lecture Hall

Presenter: Bill Jacobs is the author of Whence These Special Places? The Geology of Cashiers, Highlands & Panthertown Valley.   He has been exploring the mountains and waterfalls of the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau for over 35 years, in part as a full-time resident of Cashiers, and in part as a seasonal homeowner.  When he retired from his Atlanta-based legal career in 2011, he began pursuing his curiosity about the geologic origins of the mountains.  After years of in-person and on-line courses, wide-ranging self-study, and numerous back-country explorations, he began to give presentations to interested groups, and then wrote and published his book.  He is particularly fascinated with how the waterfalls and mountains we see today have been shaped by ancient geologic processes.

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