Chris Benjamin — Editor
Ajay Chheda — Editor
Howard Ditkoff — Editor
Shaun Hensher — Editor
Chris Lovell — Editor
Mark S. Meritt — Founder, Editor
Daniel Mossberg — Editor
Jamie Myxter — Editor
Malin Östman — Editor
Jonathan Walton — Editor
Chris Benjamin (a.k.a. Benji) has been a writer since birth, a wax philosopher since puberty and a Community Consultant in the healthcare sector since February 2002. He grew up in East Coast Canada’s suburban badlands and emerged in 1997 with a Marketing Communications degree from Dalhousie University. For the next two years he found himself writing market analyses for would-be Thomas Edisons, learning about mad conservation science in St. Lucia, administrating environmentalism from afar, publicizing pollution problems through the multimedia and planning an expansion of the environmental health industry. He has a Masters degree in Environmental Communication from York University in Toronto. Late in 2000, he traveled to Indonesia to complete a public consultation about environmental information sharing. He has been published as an academic, freelancer and staff writer and edited many a newsletter, too.
Most recently, Benji hitched many rides right across Canada’s landmass, camped and farmed for seven months, learning how to maintain a sustainable food supply on a micro-scale.
Born in Bombay (now Mumbai, India) and raised in Houston (Texas, USA), Ajay Chheda, an Indian cowboy, is a melange of cross-cultural experiences.
For many years, his interests revolved around the aging-related process and the elucidation of the same from a biological perspective. Towards that end, one aspect of his formal education consists of a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Caltech and a Master of Science in Immunology and Molecular Oncology from New York University. Additionally, he has conducted doctoral level research in the field of DNA repair.
While pursuing his biological interests, Ajay (as well as many others) realized that the nature of conducting scientific research had changed drastically from expectations. More and more, traditional “business” practices had started to encroach into the scientific arena. Thus, Ajay decided to join the Deming Scholars Program at Fordham University for his Masters in Business Administration. Having never heard of Dr. W. Edwards Deming or his management philosophy, he was pleasantly surprised by the content of the program and at his own learnings. It was in this program
that Ajay was introduced to Daniel Quinn’s book Ishmael.
Ajay’s current interests derive from the intersection of evolutionary biology, genetics, organizational behavior, psychology, statistics, philosophy of cooperation and virtue, management theory, game theory, systems thinking and epistemology.
He currently resides in Jersey City, NJ (USA), with his wife, Jennifer, and works as a management consultant on the Deming System of Profound Knowledge and 14 Points for Management. Over the years, Ajay has worked or consulted with many firms and individuals such as Schering-Plough Pharmaceuticals, PricewaterhouseCoopers, TIS Worldwide and UVentures.
Dr. Howard Ditkoff brings to Sostenuto a diverse background of skills and experience. Dr. Ditkoff received his B.A. in Psychology in 1995 from the University of Michigan, where he earned class honors and was a James B. Angell Scholar. He went on to earn his M.D. from Wayne State University in 2000, garnering departmental commendations in Psychiatry and Neurology. His years in college and medical school included experience doing Orthopaedic research and volunteer work at Mott Women’s and Childrens’ Hospital in Ann Arbor. In addition, he volunteered to serve the indigent population at the Cass Clinic in Detroit, as well as being involved in the Code Blue program, in which medical students speak to inner city youth about various health issues.
In addition to his background in medicine and psychology, Dr. Ditkoff has experience in the business and computer software worlds. As Co-Founder and Vice President of Business Development at Simplewire, Inc., he helped set up a global network among telecommunications carriers worldwide. In addition, he played key roles in business development, public relations, human resources and sales. Howard is now involved in a new project, The Linx Institute, which offers a student-centered, community-based educational option for high schoolers who wish to have more control over their educational process, while learning about various subjects in an interconnected fashion, rather than in a strict disciplinary methodology.
Howard’s other personal interests include guitar, music theory, basketball, philosophy and education of the gifted. He is also the founder of a 20- and 30-something special interest group for Southeast Michigan Mensa and of the Friends of Ishmael Society, an organization devoted to publicizing and coordinating readership of the work of Daniel Quinn, author of Ishmael.
Shaun is a graduate of Graphic Design at Cambrian College of Applied Arts and Technology in Sudbury, Ontario, where he now resides. He is the owner and senior designer of Brainfuse Design, a firm that places great importance on the ethical issues of the advertising and design world. He is a painter, sculptor and photographer. Raised in a small town in Northern Ontario, he has an inherent love of nature and a spiritual connection with the forest. He is also a strong advocate of social justice and is actively involved in activism and global justice groups.
Shaun was a founding member of H.E.M.P. North 2000, an activist group in Sudbury, Ontario, that worked to educate the public and politicians about the benefits of legalizing hemp as an agricultural crop (hemp has since been legalized in Canada). He was also the creator of the Hemp Ribbon Campaign, a campaign designed to raise awareness about hemp as a sustainable resource.
Shaun has always been a constant student and strong believer in personal evolution and is always looking for new challenges and new adventures.
Chris is a writer, academic researcher, musician, bricoleur and opportunistic hunter-forager. He received a Bachelor of Science (Chemistry) from the University of Western Australia, a Bachelor of Science (ecology) and a Bachelor of Arts (anthropology) from the University of Queensland.
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, he grew up in Perth, Western Australia, and now resides in Brisbane, Queensland. Never the specialist, he explores a broad range of interests spanning anthropology, archaeology, botany, ecology, evolutionary biology, ethology, mycology, chemistry, tourism, development, environmental science, funk, jazz, blues, rock, electronica, bricolage in furniture design and manufacture, bush tucker, hunting, foraging, and weapon design and construction.
Currently, Chris is completing an intensive study program for honors in anthropology at the University of Queensland investigating the cultural origins of domestication in Southwest Asia between 12,000 and 10,000BP and their biological consequences. He aims to illustrate how the choice to farm appeared culturally rational to those early farmers, but now appears otherwise, at least in terms of evolutionary/ecological theory. Chris aims to further his academic career by gaining doctoral candidature in 2003.
Alongside this intensive study program, Chris continues editing for Sostenuto, developing skills on guitar and Djembe drum, building furniture by bricolage, retrofitting his VW Combi, supplementing his income by minor employment and, of course, opportunistically foraging.
Mark has served as an editor of Sostenuto since he founded it in September 2001. He has long pursued a profound interest in ecology and society. It led him to enroll at the City University of New York Graduate Center, where he received a masters degree (MA 2001) in Liberal Studies, concentrating in Bioethics, Science and Society and customizing his own curriculum in ecology and society. He is currently writing a book based on his thesis on sustainability, which won the Liberal Studies Annual Thesis Prize for best departmental thesis. Mark was also invited to attend a seminar with author Daniel Quinn in 1999, and in 2000 he delivered a paper related to his thesis at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association.
These pursuits, however, are, in the grand scheme, a relatively recent addition to Mark’s repertoire. Since childhood and continuing through this day, Mark has been deeply involved in the arts. While still in high school, Mark composed and co-wrote his first musical, Cupid’s Arrow, which he also directed and conducted. He was a Theatre Arts major at Cornell University (BA 1992, Phi Beta Kappa), where he studied directing with Pulitzer Prize nominee David Feldshuh, made several short films (see 1, 2) and won the department’s screenwriting competition for his short script, Bait and Switch. Mark has directed and composed for various academic and professional stage productions.
Having been represented by the Farber Literary Agency (NYC) and Susan Smith & Associates (Beverly Hills), Mark co-wrote the original screenplays Citizen Arcane, a.k.a. The Lion’s Share (a review selection at Francis Ford Coppola’s screenplay discovery web site), Stage Dad and Deadline; an original stage musical, The Right Circles; and a children’s book, Hugh Manatee. He also co-wrote a piece that was selected as one of six finalists for New Millennium Pictures’ 1996 screenwriter search.
During a four-year stint in New York City, he helped coordinate the 1996 Independent Feature Film Market, wrote coverage for Jersey Films and provided piano accompaniment for several cabarets and multiple spots on ABC’s Good Morning America, including a special Christmas segment with Rosie O’Donnell (also see 1, 2). Now living in upstate New York with his wife Jennifer Norris, Mark continues to pursue his work in dramatic writing, composing, songwriting and accompaniment, intending to dive into writing and directing independent films as soon as he finishes his book. Since early 1998, he has earned a living as a Marketing Analyst for Doctors Without Borders, the international humanitarian relief organization that was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999.
I am a student at Uppsala University, in Uppsala, Sweden, where I am studying Environmental and Development Studies. The course deals with a wide variety of themes and issues, like man’s relationship to nature, what is human nature? what is development? what is globalization? I am 25 years old.
I finished high school in the spring of 1996 and went on to do military service in the army, something every man has to do in Sweden. After three months, I was allowed to leave and do a civil service the following year. I returned home and lived with my mother, trying to write a collection a poems and figure out what to do with my life. In the summer of 1997 I travelled and participated in three volunteer camps. The first one was at a peace center up in the mountains outside of Dublin, Ireland, where we did some renovations and discussed the situation in Northern Ireland. Then I travelled to Reading, England, outside of London. There we also did some renovations at the community center and took part in community work. The last volunteer camp I did that summer was in Washington, D.C., where we worked at a soup kitchen and lived with the people working there. The work itself and especially the opportunity to meet people from other countries and the ones working for a difference was a great experience. It also opened my eyes to the reality of social work. I could for myself see what was working and what was not.
Then I began my first semester of university studies. I studied Peace Studies: Conflict Resolution at the Gothenburg University for one semester. I then moved to Uppsala and studied one semester of Art History which was one of the best courses I have studied so far. I travelled again during the summer and did another volunteer camp in New York City at a shelter for the homeless. We painted some rooms and helped out at the soup kitchen. But the most important work we did was that we were there and lived, worked and had fun with the people living there.
In the fall of 1998, I did the three months of civil service I had to do and it proved to be a far more positive experience than I had expected it to be. We got basic training in dealing with major disasters, putting out fires, rescuing people and working in a team. In the spring, I studied one semester of Social Psychology and went on the road again in the summer. Some old friends and I started out from Boston and travelled all around the United States and Canada. Overall it was a great experience.
If the spring had been a tough one on the personal level, the fall of 1999 was the turning point. Things started to work out and I studied Philosophy for a year, specializing in Ethics and Evironmental Ethics. Once again I went on the road with some friends and travelled in Europe and the United States and Canada. In the fall of 2000 and the spring of 2001, I studied Cultural Anthropology which in some ways was very good, but unfortunatly the teachers were not that good.
Then came last summer, 2001. I travelled with some other friends throughout the United States and Canada. We did a lot of camping and it was one the best travelling I have done so far. Last fall, 2001, I studied USA-Studies, which included American History, Politics, Mass Media and Literature. A great course in every way.
I also founded and worked with a cultural project for change, organized in the tribal form — www.rummet-snurrar.org.
As with the things I am doing right now, I hope to in the future become even more independent in thought, heart, lifestyle, basically in every aspect of my life from the Taker society. In that way I also hope to be a living inspiriation with others that will be bring about the fundamental change needed.
Jamie grew up in a rural river valley East of Seattle, and his early experiences living and working on dairy and horse farms have left him with an affinity for quiet, open areas that aren’t crowded with people.
Professionally, Jamie works as a consultant in the technical publications industry. He manages a variety of software documentation projects, from small, one-man operations to teams of a dozen members working on various deliverables. He is passionate about language and communication, teaching, and seeking new ways to make a living that are in accord with his values. Jamie took a B.A. in English from Western Washington University and an M.S. in Technical Communication from the University of Washington.
Personally, Jamie enjoys getting back to the wide open spaces he grew up in. Getting to these spaces now involves a longer drive; the quiet river valley he grew up in is now a suburb of Microsoft Corporation and other high-tech companies. He enjoys camping and fishing in Eastern Washington with his two dogs, Roger and Annie.
After getting her high school diploma in 1998, and after spending a year in Paris, Malin Östman went on to study at Uppsala Swedish University where she still is attending classes today.
Her years in Uppsala have been spent on subjects like; Practical Philosophy (1999-00), Cultural Antropology (2000-01) and American Studies (2001). For the moment she is taking classes in Environmental and Develpoment Studies, which is a course with a lot of hours spent on discussions and alternative guest speakers.
Through the years, Malin has also developed a great interest in traveling. Among other experiences abroad, she has traveled in the U.S from coast to coast a couple of times, she has spent a month working with different things in Namibia and a year with minor employments in Paris, France.
Although these were both fascinating experiences, Malin’s favorite destination is the Swedish mountains, or “Fjäll”. They hold a very special place in her heart. There, in those mountains, Malin finds room to breathe and think, room for the body and mind. Although the “wilderness” of the mountains often has been deprived of “it’s own rights,” in some places in the Swedish “Fjäll” you can still hear the singing owls or the ravens speak.
Besides her interest and experiences with the “outdoors,” Malin has also always had a great interest in the arts, especially painting and drawing. She has had some minor exhibitions in her home town of Sundsvall, and she has also worked with the Uppsala short film festival as a volunteer in 2000. In her work, Malin tries to promote free art that balances the anger and joy of all things. Her intentions are to awake anger and joy in the beholder, as well as in her self.
Malin has been learning and developing alternative ways of living along with her friend and partner Daniel. This includes work with “Buy Nothing Day,” the web-page www.rummet-snurrar.org, some smaller exhibitions, anti-commercial campaigns and now also the exciting work of Sostenuto.
Jonathan Walton is currently an East Asian Studies major at Oberlin College and can usually be found living in Raleigh (NC), Oberlin (OH) or Beijing (China).
Jonathan is perpetually preoccupied, pondering religion, philosophy, education and information structuring, as well as the creative power of the mind and the responsibility of the individual. He aspires to be a postmodern Renaissance Man.
Jonathan’s internet life is coordinated through his website, Godmachine.org, which also serves as an online portfolio of his work.