A new venture developing interactive e-books began with a pastry cookbook written by hand
Whitney Foard Small wanted a school in the heart of a buzzing music and arts scene—and she found it at Williston. She played the French horn and mandolin, and in between classes she rocked out at countless concerts in the Pioneer Valley. Her career took her to Asia, where she was the regional director of communications for Ford Motor Company, among other notable posts. She recently moved to Thailand, where she’s director of corporate communications for Thai Union Group, a multinational corporation based in Bangkok. Following a passion for literature and history sparked at Williston, in 2012 she founded Crushed Lime Media LLC, a book cooperative that produces interactive e-books through the Beebliome Books platform. A member of the Williston Board of Trustees, she speaks fluent Mandarin and is mastering Thai. What school project had an impact on you? I wrote a pastry cookbook in calligraphy as part of my senior project with Barry Moser. It was my own recipes, and I had it hand-bound in Northampton. I did everything, all the writing, with Mr. Moser’s help and encouragement. That’s unusual stuff to get to do, and it’s amazing how those things later actually fed into my professional life, into my vocation and avocation. It was funny because I had five editors to help me edit. I wrote the book all by hand, so making a mistake was painful. It wasn’t until my grandmother saw it that she found that one recipe was missing its icing. It was a sour cream chocolate layer cake, and the icing part was missing. Leave it to grandmothers to find these things, right?
Which teachers most inspired you?
I think the curiosity and the freedom to explore ideas and philosophies in Religious Studies with Rev. Barnett was fantastic. And in history class with Hank Teller, I was able to go deeply into history and look at what history means and how it informs. That’s a lifetime love of mine. So much so that I put the time and money into building the book cooperative so that other kids would have the same opportunities.
What was the thinking behind the book collaborative?
I wanted to make books more interactive, so if children are reluctant readers, they can find more stimulation; and if they are curious readers, the can follow that curiosity. In the old days, when we just had libraries and books, a kid would read a book and then hopefully, if you were curious enough, you would get yourself down to the library and find out more. Now we just take it another step. We make it a little easier for people to go and find other things. Our books have embedded movies in them, they’ve got a lot of images. In some cases we actually put in glossaries about the ideas. You see a word in bold, you can tap on it and it’ll tell you more about the idea of that word or who that person was.
What spot on campus did you love?
I worked in the student snack bar with Grandma [Bernice Crowther], who ran it back in the ’70s—that was her nickname. She was a really lovely person, and she could cook a mean ECB—an egg, cheese, and bacon sandwich. If you worked at the snack bar, you knew everything going on on campus. It was just a big gossip session. Everyone came by and shared their news.
How did Williston impact your career path?
I think by nature I was a curious person. Williston gave me a chance to really look around and see what was going on, and I was encouraged to take risks and to feed that curiosity. I think that led me around the world, frankly. It gave me courage.