'A River Way of Life'

Hubbard conference to attract followers
to Hanover College in March

Rivers Institute plans one-day event
to feature speakers, displays, MCHS student projects

By Michella M. Marino
Contributing Writer

(March 2007) – Connie Frazier, an Advanced Placement American History teacher at Madison Consolidated High School, did not have to venture far to find the perfect example of utopian cultures to teach in her class. She used the lives of the late Harlan and Anna Hubbard of nearby Trimble County to “widen awareness for utopian sustainable environments and different ways of life than the norm.”

The Hubbards forged a simple existence in Payne Hollow, located along the banks of the Ohio River.

here they lived for about 40 years with no electricity or other modern conveniences that most of us enjoy.

Frazier had her class, consisting of 20 juniors, read Harlan Hubbard’s book “Payne Hollow: Life on the Fringe of Society,” and then invited local Hubbard friend and current owner of Payne Hollow, Paul Hassfurder, to lecture to her students about the Hubbards. Hassfurder, of Madison, spent many years helping the Hubbards in their later lives and then inherited the Hubbards’ property upon their deaths.

“Paul Hassfurder has been extremely inviting to us,” Frazier said.

Professor Robert Rosenthal, chair of the Department of Philosophy at Hanover College and friend of the Hubbards, also lectured to Frazier’s class. In all, her students heard five lectures about the Hubbards.

Once the time came to choose semester projects, eight of Frazier’s students decided to continue with the subject of the Hubbards and their unique way of life. Many of them plan to participate in an upcoming Hubbard conference, scheduled for March 24 at Hanover College. The one-day event is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and is being organized by the Rivers Institute at Hanover College.

The event is open to the public for a fee of $30, or free for students with an ID. Lunch may be ordered for an additional $8 or registrants may bring their own lunch. A special Hubbard-themed dinner will be offered that evening for $15 and includes a classical music concert performance by Hanover College student Rajapark Phojanasupan.

Scott Russell Sanders will serve as the featured speaker during the event. Sanders is an accomplished author of 19 books, all of which are concerned with our place in nature, the pursuit of social justice, the character of community, and the search for a spiritual path. Sanders is a Distinguished Professor of English at Indiana University.

Several of the speakers who will make presentations have been inspired by the lifestyles of the Hubbards.

“A River Way of Life” will include presentations about the life and legacy of the Hubbards by Jonathan Greene, owner of Gnomon Press in Frankfort, Ky.; Katherine Burger Johnson, librarian in the Harlan and Anna Hubbard Archive at the University of Louisville; Meg Shaw, Art Librarian in the Martin Luther King Library at the University of Kentucky; and Hassfurder.

Frazier, who has lived in Madison for more than 20 years, had not heard of the Hubbards until the last five years, although she has been interested in sustainable environments and natural resources for quite some time. Although she herself is interested in the Hubbards, Frazier is adamant about the fact that the students’ projects are “completely student driven.”

All of her students interested in using the Hubbards as their project topic attended a recent program on the Hubbards given by author Don Wallis at the Jefferson County Historical Society. The students have until March 24 to complete their project, since they will be displaying their work at the conference, titled, “A River Way of Life.”

Patrick Thevenow, 17, is one student who decided to continue on with the Hubbards as part of his class project.

Thevenow and classmate, Toby Rogers, are producing a video consisting of interviews of people who knew the Hubbards. The interview idea originated with Thevenow’s father, who had visited Payne Hollow and the Hubbards a few times during their lifetime.

“He thought it would be a good idea to interview people who had everyday encounters with the Hubbards,” the younger Thevenow said.

Thevenow, who’s interested in making movies in general, just recently started the project and has begun compiling a list of local people to interview who knew the Hubbards. He plans on completing five to 10 interviews. During the interviews, Thevenow will ask the interviewees to “share any kind of story about the Hubbards including their daily activities and encounters.”

His plan is to make sure various types of stories about the Hubbards will be passed on. Since Thevenow can never meet the Hubbards, he hopes to be able to learn more about their lives through his project. “I want to show others a different side of the Hubbards lives – things they never knew, such as daily things about how they lived.”

Kavan Wright, 17, is another of Frazier’s students working on a Hubbard project. Wright and classmates, Ralph Kendall and Kevin Tsoi, are focusing more on the life of Anna Hubbard. They decided to look into her life because “it’s the lesser known story,” Wright said. “She’s not in his books, and she didn’t write herself, but she was important to Harlan Hubbard and his life.” Wright and his classmates are still in the researching phase of their project and are unsure exactly the direction it will take. Wright thinks they will create a tri-board poster presentation probably with an equal ratio of pictures and information.

Wright read “Payne Hollow,” like the rest of Frazier’s students, and has also read a book on the life of Anna Hubbard. But he learned from Hassfurder’s lectures that Hassfurder does not believe the book portrays her as he remembers her. Thus, Wright plans on looking back through “Payne Hollow,” the book, and other sources to reconstruct her life. His goal “is just to show how important she was.”

Both Thevenow and Wright are interested in the Hubbards and sustainable living but are not exactly sure if they would want to do it themselves. “It’s really interesting because it’s almost like within reach of today’s society, but it’s hard to reach that,” Wright said. “Most people wouldn’t want it.”

Wright said he might like to try it out, but then again he says, “Maybe not.” Thevenow believes he could maintain the Hubbard’s type of lifestyle because he enjoys the outdoors, but he’s not sure if he would want to continue it for the amount of time the Hubbards did. He thinks Henry David Thoreau’s two years in the wilderness would be a bit more manageable.

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