Community Spotlight: Jodi Clough

Gail, Jodi, and Bill enjoying some ice cream

I began working here at Camphill Ghent at the end of October 2018, so one of the first community events I attended was a Halloween pageant/festival/party. The festivities began with a costumed procession through the halls of Tourmaline, Zephyr, and Aurora, and continued with the short performance of a skit, which was, for me, both astoundingly refreshing and surprisingly hilarious. In it, Margaret Carlson drolly narrated the Halloween plans and activities of a girl named Jodi (played by Jodi Clough). The “plot,” if you will, was beyond flimsy, of course, but the execution was joyful, unpretentiously silly, and unabashedly slapstick. Margaret’s carefully enunciated and deadpan narration coupled with Jodi’s boisterous physical humor (and frequent costume changes) was a simple but potent recipe for laughter. Wow!

I had the chance to sit down and talk with Jodi this week, and, trust me, there is more to her story than will fit into this little article. For now, though, this will serve as a both a prelude to and rough outline for the memoirs to come.

One thing is certain: all signs point to Camphill Ghent being the right and proper place for Jodi to have connected with, and the mutual enrichment that has taken place because of this connection—for Jodi, for the spirit of this community, and for the individuals who have chosen to make this their home—is significant.

Jodi has been working here since before people started moving in, from about the time that the furniture deliveries began, as she tells it. How did she get here? Jodi is a Columbia County farm girl and grew up not far from here, but the story of her journey to this place is not as simple as charting a straight line. As a young person just finishing high school, the last place she wanted to be was the rural New York of her youth. Thus, the education and work she pursued had her living in the cities of Washington, D.C. and New York for twenty years.

Eventually she did move back, just as the construction of the buildings here was getting underway, and from the beginning her vocational direction naturally tended toward the loving care of elders. This started, upon her return to Columbia County, with her being one of two full-time caregivers for her grandmother who was then entering an advanced stage of dementia. Jodi was still engaged with caring for her grandmother when she began her work at Camphill Ghent in November of 2011.

As any and all of the pioneers of this place will attest: It’s not easy building a community from scratch! Much has happened these last seven years, and Jodi has seen it all, or most of it, and has consistently supported the work in a variety of ways: originally hired for the care night shift, she has also always been helpful in the administrative side of things, establishing and maintaining filing systems, for example. She seems to have found a special niche, however, with her eventual involvement with planning and leading activities.

It’s clear that Camphill Ghent is more than a job for Jodi. It’s an integral part of her life, and allows her to have direct contact with issues that have meaning for her. She is sensitive, for instance, to the subtle bias prevalent in our society against elders, and the one-sidedness of the view that places a higher value on the experiences of youth. Her work is a contribution toward overcoming this, and she believes strongly that “all people should be treated with respect,” without exception. She sees this as being the case here at Camphill Ghent. More than anything else, she hopes to see the day when ”the kind of care we offer here is not the exception but the norm.”

—John Scott