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Robbie Leeds '11

A Search for Answers

When asked why he has chosen a philosophy major with a math minor, sophomore Robbie Leeds says: “We’re all trying to find things to do, and it’s interesting to go deeper.” He pauses, canting forward in his chair. His blue eyes widen. “There’s a point in a conversation where you’ll break into something. Everything can’t be explained just in words. You start getting into things that aren’t necessarily real...”

He cites the 1998 book The Case for Christ as a landmark in his personal development. The author, a former legal journalist named Lee Strobel, reassembles the answers collected from Christian scholars during his previous search for “evidence” proving the reality of the gospels. This work led to his 1981 conversion from staunch atheist to evangelical pastor and bestselling Christian apologist. “I’ve read that book a couple of times,” Robbie says. “It’s really been pretty significant, to help me figure myself out.”

Born in Concord, Massachusetts, the cradle of American Transcendentalism – Emerson, Thoreau, Alcott -- but raised mostly in Nashua, N.H., Robbie early on felt the need for introspection, for finding answers to his questions, and decided to transfer to a Catholic high school. After some years of thinking and learning, the 19 year-old has come to the preliminary conclusion that he is not religious, but wants to lead a righteous, honorable, and useful existence. He says he is still deciding “how I want to live and where I want to live. I want a lifestyle, not a job.”

One thing he knows for sure is he loves Green Mountain College. The school has awakened the community activist and visionary in him. The Ultimate Frisbee stalwart is a former Images of Nature TA, current student senate treasurer-- where his skill with numbers keeps student interests financially viable -- and a volunteer tour guide. He is also an active farm crew member chest deep in two projects: building a cobb oven adjacent to the Cerridwen farm greenhouse - which needs only good clay, clear weather and a few new volunteers to see it through to completion - and establishing a local food cooperative on Main Street in Poultney.

The co-op project has been passed down from two former students who put together a business plan. Now, Robbie is working with local families and GMC’s D.E.E.P. scholars to gather information and apply for grants. A co-op would be a boon to the school farm, local farmers, and especially community members, Robbie points out, many of whom have long yearned for a closer alternative to Rutland, Middlebury, and Middletown Springs. “They are very passionate about having it in town,” Robbie says. “I bring them my time and energy.”

By Ryan Dixon '11


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