Ellie Epp: A Clear and Steady Vision

Ellie Epp has retired from Goddard College after 12 years of service. We will miss her! Here is a tribute to Ellie by faculty member, James Sparrell

With Ellie as a member of the faculty I always had the comfort that someone was steering the canoe, and I could relax and help out with the paddling. Ellie maintained a clear and steady vision and had no tolerance for artifice or posturing. She had a sense of direction, so checking in with her provided a way to test out an idea. The greatest delight for me in spending time with Ellie is the way that she was so firmly rooted in experience. There was a guiding theory but it was fully integrated with how we are as sensory beings. A word, slight flash of facial expression, movement of a bug, startling colors of a blossom, or complex burbling of a bird song. She was listening in deep ways.  to all of us.

And her voice, just from the relatively few conversations we have had over the years, became part of my own experience. Many times I found myself speaking in a workshop or sitting with someone who was trying to sort things out and thinking, “How would Ellie put this?” and rephrase what I was saying. Her online journal project documents her unique perceptions, even from a young age.

I remember visiting Ellie, along with my wife Katie, in California and recall the simplicity with which she lived. There might be two utensils, but there weren’t always three, so we shared, which made it all the more wonderful. We took a ride up the mountain from her house to visit a tiny cabin that had been abandoned, probably 20 or 30 years earlier. The outside was riddled with holes from acorn woodpeckers who had excavated little cavities that they stuffed with acorns. It was small, but looking in the windows one could see that all the furniture, all the utensils were carefully built or selected so that one could live there and not want for anything. Ellie loved that little place and it’s amazing views. It was a place consonant with her heart where she could deeply feel, as I think she generally did, “I have everything I need.”

– James Sparrell, faculty member


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