By: Leo Proechel, Staff Writer
Punk-rock, lots of trash, and Barbie heads impaled on the antenna of dirty white pickups: these are some things that might come to mind when one thinks of the Recycling Center. ”This is my empire,” said Jessica Foster, martial artist, roadkill connoisseur, actively practicing witch, and supervisor of Recycling and Solid Waste crew at Warren Wilson College.
Foster grew up in a conservative family in Bethlehem, N.C., where tobacco and chicken farms reigned. She went to the local public school, and got straight A’s. ”I loved school,” she said. “I was pretty much, like, the top of my class, from preschool until I graduated.”
After she graduated, Foster got a near-full academic scholarship from Duke University. ”It was really, like heavily fraternities and sororities,” Foster said, “and really wealthy people that were spoiled. And I didn’t really fit in with all of that.”
During her first year, Foster joined the Recycling Crew and worked there until one year after her graduation. She then left Durham to live with her parents while she worked various freelance jobs. Not long after, in the year of 1999, Warren Wilson opened up a full-time position for Recycling and Solid Waste supervisor.
During her interview, Foster told her interviewers that she couldn’t believe Wilson had people working in such despicable conditions at the time. ”I was kind of rude,” Foster said. Since then, she has transformed the Recycling Center from what was, according to her, a “mud-gravel pit that students were sent to when they got kicked off of dining,” into a streamlined operation with an office, composting machines, and various recycling-processing machinery.
If not rude, Foster may be considered bold―a quality exemplified by her pastimes. She has studied karate, kung-fu, boxing, jujitsu, mixed martial arts, and tai-chi, the last of which she currently teaches in Asheville. “It’s kind of the opposite of my loud, obnoxious side,” Foster said. Reportedly, the top of her refrigerator is covered in at least twenty different animal parts—including goat testicles—that she has either salted or put into containers. She has been interested in witchcraft her whole life, and periodically attends Pagan conventions in which she does what she referred to as “strange ritual things,” including possession dances. With all the extra time she must surely have on her hands, Foster co-runs a punk music record label called Bigger Boat Records, which has put out five albums from bands across the country.
No doubt Foster is a unique individual, and an integral part of the Warren Wilson Community. Although she is pessimistic about the future of mankind—”I think it’s all going to end horribly…Just pick any one of your apocalyptic scenarios”—she continues to work diligently to preserve the environment. “Clearly it’s what sustains life,” Foster said. “Without a healthy environment, we’re not going to live.”