This is one in a series of profiles showcasing some of Harvard’s stellar graduates.Rossi Lamont Walter Jr. remembers his experience with Harvard Summer School in 2009 as “a frolicking good time.”It was the Texas native’s introduction to Harvard, and its energy inspired him. “I’ve always been very sensitive to my environment and to things that are contributing to the energy and the mood of the space,” he said. Later, when considering college, Walter was certain that if he attended Harvard, something important would happen and that the people and the environs “would change my life in ways I could not foresee.”That’s just what happened. He will graduate with a concentration he didn’t know existed, a passion for dance he never expected, and a post-College fellowship to spend a year in a country that wasn’t on his radar four years ago.Like many Harvard freshmen, Walter arrived on campus with a list of interests, in his case math, science, the visual arts, dance, and electronic music, among others. But during his sophomore year, the ground began “shifting pretty dramatically,” and he needed to prioritize. School, dance, and his connections with a group of friends topped his list.Walter considered concentrating on neurobiology, but “I remember thinking, ‘Oh, no, no. This is much too planned for me.’” On a whim, he took an introductory class in the history of science, and fell in love.He also fell in love with Jewish history, culture, and religion through his relationships with Alpha Epsilon Pi (“the Jewish fraternity”) and Harvard’s Hillel and Chabad houses. “They provided me with a supportive network of friends and peers who are diverse in their interests and can engage in deep conversation about their experiences and what they are learning today.”With support from the Center for Jewish Studies at Harvard, he traveled to Jerusalem last summer to learn about history, and he will leave campus with a secondary concentration in Jewish studies.Walter’s third passion was dance. Energized by Jill Johnson, director of the Harvard Dance Program, he performed in several new works, including “SEESAW,” which will be presented by the Harvard Dance Project at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in June. He was also introduced to Gaga movement language, a contemporary style of dance that originated in Israel, and traveled to Tel Aviv to study with its founder.Johnson called Walter a gifted artist, thinker, dancer, choreographer, and performer.“He has an unlimited desire to explore artistic expression in his dance studies and in areas beyond the field with tireless energy, curiosity, rigor, and focus.”Dancing with Johnson and other students helped Walter combine what he calls his “physical, creative, and academic intellects. It was unlike anything I’d ever done. Jill helped me see what dance had been and could be.”Walter has a busy summer ahead. After graduation, he begins training for “SEESAW,” and then heads back to Dallas to spend time with family and friends. In August, he will travel to North Carolina as a 2014 Byron Fellow to participate in a weeklong session on leadership. He then will head to Israel for a year as a Benjamin A. Trustman Fellow, with support from Harvard’s Office for the Arts.That year will be something of a soul-searching mission. He plans to live in Tel Aviv; practice Gaga; dance; visit synagogues, churches, and mosques, “and the sea.” He seeks adventures, “all with the purpose of putting myself in a different context and allowing a different tree to grow out from within my identity.”A Quincy House affiliate, Walter is reflective when asked to consider what Harvard has meant to him. After a pause, he offers up a single word: people. “I’ve always said that Harvard is just a place, and it’s really the people that make it what it is. Everyone has something to bring to the table.”Accordingly, he envisions a career that combines dancing and choreography with the visual arts, education, social activism, and his desire to help people “articulate what they think is important.”“I expect people to prove me right in a way. I want to help them show me that they do have something to offer, something to bring to the table. I’d like to help people channel that somehow.”Reflecting on the last four years, Walter also offered a note of thanks to his father, Rossi Lamont Walter Sr. ’86.“My father has always been so supportive of me pursuing the things that interest me. He has never pressured me to do anything, including coming to Harvard. For that, I am eternally grateful.”
January 17, 2021
The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) is teaching all of us about an old floral favorite that needs to be brought back to the garden: cosmos. I see them along Interstate 16 starting around mile marker 98 going north, and the “naturescape,” if you will, is amazing.If you have ever wondered, “Do those specialty license plates pay off?” The answer is yes, and of course, on display. What is even more exciting is that the future is bright for these types of floral plantings. GDOT is revved up on planting pollinators along the highway system, and this should have everyone doing the happy dance.Oddly, this is coinciding with the best butterfly year I have ever seen at the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens at the Historic Bamboo Farm in Savannah, Georgia. Here we are in early November and the butterflies are uncountable and bees are everywhere. So while some may be stirring the pot for gloom and doom, it is exciting in Georgia.But let’s go back to the cosmos. Should you somehow be thinking that I am referring to orange cosmos, I am instead touting the Cosmos bipinnatus. This cosmos is native to Mexico and is related to coreopsis and rudbeckias. It is the quintessential cottage garden flower and brings in the pollinators.It is so good that the University of Georgia has put them in their promotional seed packs labeled the “Pollinator Blend.” The pack states the “pollinators will make a beeline to your garden when you plant this beautiful flower mix.”These cosmos have daisy-like flowers 2 to 4 inches wide in shades of burgundy, pink, lilac and white with orange centers, and they are borne on stems of airy, fern-like foliage for weeks on end during the growing season. As GDOT and UGA would testify, these are easy to grow from seed. In fact, they are so easy to grow from seed, you can sow successive plantings to have blooms the entire growing season, especially if you want to have a bounty of flowers for the vase too.While those in Georgia are still enjoying the blooms, almost everyone will be planting next spring. You might get lucky and find nursery plants, but seeds seem to be readily available. Plant your seeds or nursery-grown transplants into loose, well-drained soil. Fertility need not be high for this Mexico native. Seeds germinate in five to seven days with blooms, bees and butterflies in eight to 10 weeks. Thin the seedlings or space transplants 12 to 36 inches apart depending on your variety.Yes, there are varieties like the 1936 All-America Selections Award Winner ‘Sensation’ that tops out in the 4- to 5-foot range. I promise you’ll love it like they did 80 years ago. But if you are into the more diminutive cosmos, then you might want to try the 2-foot-tall ‘Sonata,’ which was a Fleuroselect Award Winner. There are plenty of others to try as well.Although considered an annual, the cosmos gives a perennial-like performance by reseeding, which is perfect for the highway system and your pollinator garden too. These are tough plants, so water sparingly but when you do, water deeply, training those roots to go deep. Your volunteer seedlings may look a little different than what you originally planted when it comes to height, but they will nonetheless be dazzling.Our promotional UGA Pollinator Blend seed packet has purple coneflowers, coreopsis, rudbeckias, liatris and salvias, which should make any bee, butterfly or hummingbird ecstatic. To me, the only other prerequisite might be a white picket fence. That is a little tongue-in-cheek, but it would sure set up a nice photo.If GDOT can have success with cosmos, you can too. I hope you’ll give them a try next spring.Follow me on Facebook under “Norman Winter ‘The Garden Guy.’” Learn more about the gardens at www.coastalgeorgiabg.org/.
October 19, 2020
The Vatican said Tuesday it was closing Saint Peter’s Square and its main basilica to tourists — but not the faithful — as part of a broader clampdown to curb the coronavirus The Holy See said the measures will remain in place until April 3 “to halt the spread of the coronavirus”.The announcement sparked a wave of confusion because churches are supposed to remain open across Italy as a whole during the country’s month-long ban on public gatherings. Pope Francis himself was forced to break with centuries of tradition and deliver his Sunday Angelus Prayer via livestream instead of from his Vatican window to limit crowds on Saint Peter’s Square.Saint Peter’s basilica is one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions. Its dome — the tallest in the world — soars over Rome and is visible across the Italian capital.It is filled with frescos and statues by great Renaissance masters such as Michelangelo. ‘Go out and see’ The 83-old-pontiff is still recovering from a cold he developed about two weeks ago.He spoke with a slight rasp in on Tuesday during a morning prayer in which he urged priests across the world to go out and meet those suffering from the new disease.”Let us pray to the Lord also for our priests, may they have the courage to go out and see the sick, bringing them the strength of the word of God and the Eucharist, and accompany health workers and volunteers in the work they do,” the pope said a video from his residence in the Vatican.He bowed carefully and gingerly kissed the bible before delivering the prayer.”Let us continue to pray together for the sick, the health workers, so many people who are suffering because of this epidemic,” he said.The Argentine-born pope has enjoyed a life of good health and follows a rigorous schedule despite having a part of a lung removed when he was young.His unusual absence during the coronavirus scare prompted immediate speculation that he had contracted COVID-19.A newspaper reported last week that the pope had been tested for the virus but was not infected.The Vatican neither confirmed nor denied the report.Topics : A Vatican source later clarified to AFP that anyone who expresses a wish to pray at the basilica can still pass through the police barrier and walk onto the main square.Italy’s new nationwide restrictions on social events and travel are designed to curb the spread of a disease that has killed 631 and infected 10,149 in just over two weeks.The Vatican has so far officially confirmed one case of the COVID-19 disease caused by the new virus that was detected in a person who was using one of its public pharmacies.It was also awaiting the results of a second person who came in contact with a virus carrier at an event organised by the Vatican at the start of the month.