New Member Joins Board of Shaker Museum

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NEW LEBANON, N.Y. — Suzanne Heggie Werner has joined the board of Shaker Museum | Mount Lebanon.

Werner moved to Hillsdale, N.Y., in 2016 to raise alpaca at Green River Hollow Farm. She is the owner, along with her husband Robert Werner, of Fluff Alpaca, a shop in Hudson, N.Y., that sells clothing and textiles made from alpaca fiber.

Werner holds a JD from New York University and a BA from Mount Holyoke College. She also attended Tunghai Universtiy in Taichung, Taiwan, where she pursued her study of the Mandarin language. She practiced law and taught English for many years before joining the Central Intelligence Agency in 2001. She worked first in the Office of General Counsel and later served as the Branch Chief of the Chinese language branch of the East Asia Division in the Directorate of Operations.

Two of Werner's aunts were deeply involved with Shaker Seminars, an annual meeting of Shaker scholars and enthusiasts that was particularly popular in the 1970s and 1980s, and continues to this day as a project of Hancock Shaker Village.

"Thanks to my aunts, I was exposed to the history of the Shaker utopian community growing up and own some lovely Shaker items," she said. "As an adult, I continue to appreciate the Shaker principles of gender equality, the importance of communal work, and the beauty of simplicity, all of which have deep relevance in today’s society.  I am thrilled to support Shaker Museum | New Lebanon and now sit on their board."

Lacy Schutz, executive director of Shaker Museum | Mount Lebanon, said, "Suzanne is joining the board at a particularly exciting moment of transition and momentum for the Shaker Museum, and she joins a group of very engaged and energized trustees who are creating a new future for the organization. I look forward to working with her."

Shaker Museum | Mount Lebanon stewards the historic site in New Lebanon, N.Y., which is open year-round for hiking and self-guided tours, and offers tours, exhibitions, and public programs seasonally. The museum also has a campus in Old Chatham, N.Y., open year-round by appointment, where the administrative offices, collections, library, and archives are housed. The museum’s collection of over 56,000 Shaker items is the most comprehensive collection of its kind in the world.

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Berkshires Beat: Corpse Flower in Bloom at Darrow School

Corpse flowers bloom

It’s spring at The Darrow School in New Lebanon, N.Y. That means the sap is rising, the birds are singing, the sun is lingering, and something in the air stinks. This means that the rare corpse flower is in full bloom. Corpse flowers were first planted at Darrow in 2009 in the sheltered confines of the school’s Samson Environmental Center (SEC). Four bloomed in 2012, six in 2013, and now, according to Lily Corral, biology teacher, sustainability coordinator, and director of the SEC, as many as 10 flowers have sprouted, several of which are at the blooming stage.

"The corpse flower is a rare plant that is challenging to grow," Corral said. "It wouldn't be possible in this region without a facility like the Samson Environmental Center and the careful attention of both students and faculty. It's a real triumph for us as a secondary school, and yet another visible symbol of Darrow's commitment to global education and to environmental stewardship and preservation."

The corpse flower is an Indonesian plant, also known as the konjac arum (Amorphophallus konjac). It boasts the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world, and the third largest flower of all known plants. The flower gets its name from its distinctive odor, which many liken to the smell of rotting meat. The corpse flower, a relative of the calla lily and the jack-in-the-pulpit, grows wild in the rainforests of Southeast Asia from a large underground corm. The plant first flowered in cultivation in London in 1889. Fewer than 50 of the largest variety of corpse flower, the titan arum, are known to have bloomed in the United States, with the smaller konjac arum, typically found only in botanical gardens, museums, and private greenhouse collections.

The flower's large green bud grows at a rate of about an inch per day, until it finally blooms into a central stem that can reach up to four feet tall, as well as a huge, purplish-brown blossom that resembles an asymmetrical collar. Its powerful fumes, which last for days, help to attract pollinating insects. After about a week, the plant wilts and goes dormant for its next phase, a branching, treelike structure.

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