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Andrew Smith, an English instructor at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville, a theologian, a poet, an activist, a DJ and blogger, will present “Tennessee’s Communal Utopian Tradition” sponsored by Uplands Lifelong Learning Institute on April 9 and 10.

Uplands Lifelong Learning Institute (ULLI), based in Pleasant Hill, is sponsoring “Tennessee’s Communal Utopian Tradition” presented by Andrew Smith of Cookeville. The program will be a ZOOM hosted event by ULLI. Register by email at ullipleasanthill@gmail.com and you will be contacted with the ZOOM link and with instructions. On April 9, Friday’s lecture will take place from 7-9:30 p.m.

From 19th century experiments like Rugby or Ruskin to 20th and 21st century counter-ulture communes like The Farm and Short Mountain, Tennessee has a rich and vibrant utopian communal tradition. This talk will outline the incredible legacy and success of Tennessee utopias, including their ongoing impact, incorporating personal anecdotes and first-person participatory research.

The April 10 discussion held from 9-10:30 a.m. will explore “Hope, Liberation, and Imagination: the Literature of Utopia as Communal Spark.” 

This talk will take a telegraphic tour of prophetic science fiction literature, in dystopian as well as utopian style, as the spark for utopian liberation movements in the United States, internationally and inter-galactically. This more speculative and visionary dialogue will show how audacious hopeful seers and seekers can imagine a better world by showing us finer worlds.

Between his involvement in numerous Tennessee Tech campus organizations, teaching multiple English and religious studies courses, and heading Tech’s Tree House learning village, it’s a miracle that Andrew Smith finds time to sleep. However, he says that being busy and involved is the way he likes to spend his time. Smith earned his undergraduate degree from Wayne State University, his master’s degree in English from Middle Tennessee State University, and his master’s degree in theological studies from Vanderbilt Divinity School. He started his teaching career at MTSU and now teaches at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville.

In his role as faculty head of the Tree House, Tech’s environmental learning village, Smith puts his love of the campus and community on a professional level. He organizes guest speakers, social events, field trips, service learning projects and promotes activism. He took a group from campus to Selma, AL, to march at the 50th anniversary bridge crossing. The Village concept at Tennessee Tech was conceived to create smaller, more personal groups within the larger university setting. Tree House Village maintains a partnership with the Tennessee Tech Organic Farm to feed folks at the Cookeville Rescue Mission. They hold weekly game nights with free food and fun with Faculty Head Smith. They have conducted neighborhood wilderness cleanups at Trog Sink, a sinkhole in Cookeville often used as a dumping site. The Tree House is also the home base for Tennessee Tech recycling efforts, Bike Share, and Student Environmental Action.

Smith also volunteers as a DJ for Tech’s radio station WTTU, co-hosts open mic nights for students, and started a new performance poetry club. He received the faculty Home Instead Senior Care Distinguished Service Learning Award for 2016 and was named an Outstanding Diversity Advocate by Tennessee Tech University’s Commission on the Status of Blacks in 2015. His mother, Barbara Smith, lives in Pleasant Hill, where she also is an active volunteer in several community causes.

ULLI is dedicated to enriching all our lives through a variety of programs and courses on a wide range of topics and subjects. ULLI exists because of the generosity of members and donors. Programs come to be because of the imagination and energy of many of the larger community. ULLI depends on membership dues and donations to support these programs. Become a member for $50 annually or make a donation. Speakers receive a small honorarium. Make checks out to ULLI, sending to ULLI, Attn: George Andrews, 67 Church Drive, P.O. Box 167, Pleasant Hill, TN 38578. Call ULLI President Janeen Carrell for more information at 931-277-5114. 

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