Posts in: Around Campus

Refining Big Ideas During Half Block

By Alana Aamodt ’18

The Big Idea competition is just a few weeks away and the Innovation at CC team has been hard at work throughout Half Block in its new student-designed space on the corner of Weber Street and Cache La Poudre, helping students perfect their pitches. The Big Idea is a startup pitch competition where teams of CC students propose entrepreneurial ventures to a panel of judges for the chance to win a chunk of the $50,000 prize money to fund their project.

The Big Idea Half Block class, which is optional for teams entering the competition, has spent nearly all of the past two weeks going through an entrepreneurial boot camp, taking students from business idea to viable presentation and business model.

The first week broke down the components needed to enter the competition, helping teams create mission statements and executive summaries, and generally refining their ideas. The rest of it has been spent creating comprehensive slideshow presentations, called “pitch decks” in the startup world. Collaborative and intense, the Big Idea Half Block witnessed teams’ ideas ranging from hot sauce to toys to iPhone apps.

To help prepare students to present, the class participated in the Career Center session Improv Theatre, the Job Market, and You led by Anne Braatas ’76, playing improv games to help with confidence and energy while pitching. In addition, the students have practiced their pitches multiple times, presenting to each other and the professors — Jake Eichengreen and Dez Stone Menendez. Eichengreen is the executive director of the QUAD Innovation Partnership and Menendez is the director of Innovation at CC. Menendez, who has a background in startup and small business consulting, says her “passion is empowering people to execute their ideas, particularly young people,” and that the most inspiring and exciting part of teaching this Half Block is seeing just how quickly students can build a pitch.

The finale Big Idea event, where finalists will pitch ideas on the stage of Celeste Theatre, will be held Thursday, Feb. 8.

Students Explore New Topics and Build Skills During Half Block

By Leah Veldhuisen ’19

CC’s Half Block offers a range of topics for students to make the most of the Winter Break. Courses range from The Science of Superheroes to Digital Tools for the Liberal Arts. Half of the offered courses are for-credit, and the other half are not-for-credit with a focus on professional development.

Naomi Wood, associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese, describes the week and a half in January as “an opportunity for students to explore a discipline or area outside of their normal field of study or to work on a skill that is complementary to their primary interests.”

One class taught year after year is Wood’s Brazilian Music and Language. It’s a hybrid of introductory Portuguese language and Brazilian music; Wood combines the Portuguese language element of her full-block language classes with the Brazilian culture she usually teaches in English. “I very much enjoy the shift in energy that both I and students bring [during Half Block]” Wood explains. She also says that “because this is a supplemental course (not a requirement) the classroom environment represents the core sentiment of being in class merely for enrichment purposes.” Wood recommends Brazilian Music and Culture to learn “basic Portuguese language, explore percussion instruments core to many Brazilian rhythms, and trace socio-historical contexts and implications of the evolution of Brazilian music.”

CC alumni Camille Blakely ’84 and Millie Olsen ’68 are returning to campus to teach a Dynamic Half-Block course titled Advertising Agency Immersion. Blakely runs Blakely + Company, an advertising agency in downtown Colorado Springs, and Olsen founded San Francisco-based Amazon Advertising. Olsen has been back to campus every year since 1999 to teach a two-day advertising course to economics students, and says she’s excited to be back for all of Half Block 2018.

Blakely and Olsen will help students develop solutions for a millennial-focused brand challenge from a Fortune 500 company. Students will present their ideas to the company during a videoconference at the end of the course. Olsen explains that it will be “a weeklong plunge into the life of a real agency.” It’s a chance, she says, “to try on some roles and see if they fit, and overall, if you’re meant to be in the hyper-competitive, ever-changing, anything-goes world of advertising and marketing.”

In addition to Brazilian Music and Language and Advertising Agency Immersion, there are 20 other for-credit offerings and 20 more not-for-credit Half-Block options. The classes will run from Jan. 8-18, 2018.

Professor Steve Taylor Earns Grant to Fund Groundwater Research

Steve Taylor

By Leah Veldhuisen ’19

Steve Taylor is an associate research professor at Colorado College, where he studies cave and groundwater biology. He just received a $9,644 from grant from the Cave Conservancy Foundation to fund research on small, shrimp-like animals called subterranean amphipods.

This coming summer, Taylor and one or more students will sample groundwater beneath streams and in springs and caves across numerous river basins in the Colorado Rockies to collect amphipods and record environmental parameters.

Taylor, who is married to Tutt Library Director JoAnn Jacoby, describes the significance of this research, saying, “as stewards of this little jewel of a planet floating through time and space, are we not better equipped to make decisions when we know what lives here?” He also says that “shallow groundwater is one of the easiest habitats to contaminate through human activities such as leaking septic or gasoline tanks, or contaminated runoff from roadways,” but is often overlooked. Human activities have a broad array of impacts on surface and groundwater, meaning that knowledge of “new populations or new species of amphipods could feed into all sorts of decisions in the future.”

The Cave Conservancy Foundation grant will allow Taylor to take on one research student in the summer of 2018, and possibly a second if additional CC funding allows. Students can contact Taylor directly at sjtaylor@coloradocollege.edu if interested in this research, as Taylor explains “with advance, planning, many things are possible!”

Visiting Professor Andrew Westphal Experiences “CC Treasures” Teaching on Block Plan

By Leah Veldhuisen ’19

Andrew Westphal ’P20 is a physicist and professor at the University of California, Berkeley. During Block 2, Westphal took a break from the Bay Area to teach the Scientific Revolutions First-Year Experience course, which focused specifically on relativity.

The experience of coming from a large university on the semester system to a small liberal arts college on the Block Plan gave Westphal an interesting perspective on CC. In regard to the Block Plan, Westphal quite simply says “I am sold!”

He explains that he was able to cover more material more in depth than while teaching multiple classes at a time, and that the pace of the class felt “luxuriously unhurried.” With all the time provided by the Block Plan, students were able to test Einstein’s special relativity at the top of Pikes Peak, and some even brought mountain bikes to ride down at the end. Students remarked to Westphal it was an experience that could happen, “only at CC!”

Despite all the benefits Westphal noticed about the Block Plan, he also says it’s exhausting. “Teaching on the Block Plan requires a lot of frontloading, because there is no time to prepare between classes. By the end of the block I felt as if I had run a marathon. I don’t know how CC faculty do it,” he explains.

Westphal noticed other impressive qualities of CC. He describes the Honor Code as “a treasure unheard of at many colleges,” and remarks on the interesting interdepartmental conversations that happen over lunch at Rastall.  “It seems to happen quite naturally, and is another CC treasure,” he describes. Westphal says he hopes to return to CC in a few years to teach a course on cosmochemistry and hopefully collaborate with a terrestrial geology course.

Experience Buck Walsky’s Art at Silent Disco at FAC “Snow Ball”

Snow Ball 2017

The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College hosts a silent disco dance party underneath Buck Walsky’s “Beach Front,” an interactive art installation featuring fiber optics and LED lights. Artist William “Buck” Walsky is a Colorado native and proud parent of a CC hockey alumnus. He has one piece on display in the FAC permanent collection, and continues to create works of art, including an installation for the Burning Man festival.

Joy Armstrong, curator of modern and contemporary art at the FAC, says she was excited to see Walsky’s art in the interactive experience of the Snow Ball. “I’ve long admired a sculptural work in the FAC permanent collection that is a large wood carving of a bird taking flight,” she says. “I was delighted to discover a few years ago that not only was he still making remarkable works of art, but that he had been commissioned by the Anchorage Art Museum to create a monumental installation for Burning Man.”

“One of my greatest passions as a curator of contemporary art is to engage with living artists and help facilitate the creation of their dream projects, specifically ones that are site-specific, immersive, and/or interactive,” she says. “Walsky’s “Beach Front” was a perfect fit for the Fine Arts Center in all regards: a celebration of a regional artist, an exciting transformation of an unexpected and under-used location, and an opportunity for Walsky to re-envision his initial concept by tailoring it to the FAC and constructing it the way he had only dreamt of the first time around.”

Armstrong says the installation was a labor of love that involved many hands, generous donors of heavy equipment and specialized skills, and ultimately resulted in a “magical experience that we’re honored to share with our community.”

“My aspiration is to create a piece that holds people’s interest and continues to draw them back in, that defines a community, and is a public gathering space,” Walsky has said about the “Beach Front” installation.

The Anchorage Art Museum presented a silent disco with its installation, and Armstrong says that video was her first introduction to Walsky’s piece. “I was inspired to bring this unusual dance party to Colorado Springs and keep it tied to the installation. I love any opportunity to engage with art in new ways, and the Snow Ball is certain to be a one-in-a-million night, and one to remember.”

You’re invited to attend the Snow Ball, Saturday, Dec. 16, 8-10:30 p.m. at the FAC. Grab a pair of wireless headphones (provided), tune in to the channel of your choice, and dance to your own beat under this stunning work of art. Cash bar and small plates will be available. Tickets: $10; $5 members; free for students (with ID).

“Beach Frontis sponsored by: Colorado Industrial Recycling, Colorado Springs, CO, RMS Cranes, Denver, CO.

 

Need to Know: Fall Break 2017

Fall Break takes place Thursday, November 16 – Sunday, November 26, 2017

Housing

  • Housing is available for students who have requested accommodations. Students who have obligations with the college, are members of an athletic team in season, or may have a special circumstance that may warrant “Break Stay Approval” were advised to request accommodations from their RLC (Residential Life Coordinator) no later than Friday November 10, 2017. Communications with athletic coaches and international programs began on October 23, and other students were notified of Fall Break closing procedures shortly after. The RLCs will continue to work with students to ensure student requests are met.

Meals

  • Rastall Dining Hall will be open for lunch 12-1pm only on Thursday, 11/16 and Friday, 11/17. Students who choose to eat in Rastall Dining Hall on 11/16 and 11/17 will not have to pay or use dining dollars. Any staff, faculty or other community members would have to pay cash rate (no lunch club) for those lunches. Rastall will be closed for the remainder of the break, until Sunday November 26th at 5pm at which point they return to regular hours.
  • Wooglin’s and La’au’s are offering 30% off to students with a CCID over the fall break.
  • On Thursday, November 23 RLCA and Campus Safety are hosting a Thanksgiving Luncheon at 1 p.m. in Bemis Great Hall. Faculty and staff are also welcome to participate. This event is free and does not require students to utilize their meal plan.
  • Two Resident Assistants hired for the fall break will drive students to local grocery stores twice during the break. Students who request accommodations by November 10th will receive notice of these trips and other Fall Break offerings via email.

Transportation

  • Students may purchase a one-way shuttle ticket from campus to Denver or Colorado Springs airports from the Worner Desk, using cash, check, credit, or gold card. Shuttles are available on Wednesday, November 15 from Noon – 5 PM, and again Thursday, November 16 from 7 AM until 1 PM.
  • The break Resident Assistants will coordinate two shuttles to local grocery stores.
  • For unexpected injuries or illness requiring transportation, students can contact Campus Safety at their non-emergency number: (719)389-6707.

Free Special Events

  • There are several free events planned for students, including free movie and food vouchers from downtown Colorado Springs establishments, events in residence halls, a shopping trip to the Castle Rock Outlets, a trip to SkyZone Trampoline Park, and Outdoor Education trips.
  • Thursday, November 23 – Thanksgiving meal in Bemis at 1 p.m.
  • Many students are also involved with the Friendship Families/Host Families program sponsored through The Butler Center.

Health and Safety

  • RLCs (Residential Life Coordinators) and RAs (Resident Assistants) will remain in some halls and are accessible for all students.
  • Campus Safety non-emergency number: (719)389-6707
  • Campus Safety Emergency number: (719)389-6911

Over Fall Break, we will continue to offer support to our students and opportunities for engagement and community.  Our goal is to ensure students remaining with us have a safe and enjoyable Fall Break.

For further information, please contact Bethany Grubbs, Assistant Director of Residential Life & Campus Activities bgrubbs@coloradocollege.edu or Rochelle Mason, Senior Associate Dean of Students rmason@coloradocollege.edu.

Diverse Learners Week Becoming New Tradition at CC

By Leah Veldhuisen ’19

Colorado College is celebrating Diverse Learners Week.

Diverse Learners Week was initiated in 2016 with the goal of “celebrating and embracing the diverse ways that members of our campus community learn and contribute to learning environments at CC,” says Sara Rotunno, assistant director of Accessibility Resources. This year, Accessibility Resources collaborated with other partners to expand the events. Rotunno says she thinks the week will become an important tradition for CC “as it truly highlights CC’s commitment to value all persons and to learn from their diverse experiences and perspectives.”

Events throughout the week were sponsored by a variety of campus organizations and offices, including Accessibility Resources, the Butler Center, and the Colket Center for Academic Excellence, among others.

There were a variety of events aimed at engaging the broader CC community on the topic of diverse learners. The main event was Eli Claire’s speech titled “Defective, Deficient, and Burdensome: Thinking about ‘Bad’ Bodies.” The presentation included poetry, stories, history, and politics to explain why some bodies are considered defective.

Another interesting event to celebrate diverse learners was a volunteer opportunity at the Cheryl Schlessman Bennett Children’s Center. Organized by the Collaborative for Community Engagement, the event invited students, faculty, and staff to volunteer one or multiple days this week with children at the center. Niki Sosa, community partnership development coordinator at the CCE, says volunteers worked with children on outdoor and reading activities and had the “opportunity to adapt their methods of engaging with the children as they work through activities together.”

Other events this week included a workshop for faculty on working with students with learning disabilities and a tutor training for ESL students put on by CC Refugee Alliance. Upcoming events include a local hike this afternoon at 3 p.m., sponsored by Outdoor Education, and a faculty luncheon on Tuesday, Oct. 31, titled “Practices Towards Accessible and Inclusive Classrooms.”

For more information, see https://www.coloradocollege.edu/offices/accessibilityresources/get-involved/diverse-learners-week.html

Raven Chacon Brings Intercultural Interactions as Artist-in-Residence

by Leah Veldhuisen ’19

Interdisciplinary artist Raven Chacon is the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College’s first Mellon Grant Artist-in-Residence, and is an internationally known performer, composer, educator, and artist. He currently has an exhibit, “Lightning Speak”, at the FAC and worked with professors Carrie Ruiz, Spanish and Portuguese; and Vicki Levine, Music; to teach the Block 2 course Song, Poetry, and Performance in the Southwest.

The interdisciplinary course was bilingual, and cross-listed between the Departments of Music, Spanish and Portuguese, and Race, Ethnicity, and Migration Studies. This is the first time CC has offered the course and Levine says she would absolutely teach it again. Intercultural performance and collaboration were essential themes to the course. Students worked together on group projects, presented on the final Monday of the block. The assignment was to collaborate across disciplines, as some students in the class spoke Spanish and others were music students who did not speak the language. Projects ranged from multi-media videos to original songs to installation art, and incorporated both Hispanic and indigenous cultures. Levine says the course encourages students to think about intercultural interactions and understanding, and exposed them to music and Hispanic and indigenous cultures of northern New Mexico. One big takeaway Levine hopes students have is the value of creative collaboration across disciplines.

Chacon is participating in many other events around campus in addition to the course with Ruiz and Levine. A member of the Navajo Nation, he is part of an art collective called Postcommodity; the artists’ work is activist in nature and challenges expectations of “native art” in dynamic and engaging ways. The collective’s work has been exhibited internationally, and has recently been featured in many popular and critical press articles.

All members of Postcommodity will be on campus Friday, Oct. 27, for a performance titled “We Lost Half the Forest and The Rest Will Burn This Summer” that will take place at 6 p.m. in the Cornerstone Art Center Celeste Theatre. The performance will include song variations from their latest album, which features eclectic sounds such as hacked electronics, voices, rattles, animal calls, and Mexican whistles.

Additionally, Indigenous musicians from Taiwan, Norway, and North America will be featured Wednesday, Oct. 25, in the event “Sound Alliances: A Celebration of Indigenous Music and Culture” in Mohrman Theatre.

Chacon’s “Lightning Speak” is on display at the FAC until Jan. 7, 2018. The exhibit features individual and collaborative group projects that combine music composition, sound art, visual art, and activism. Colorado College is hosting events throughout the month of October to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day, officially commemorated Oct. 9.

One on One with Sharon Dodua Otoo

Otoo

 By Joy Li ’18

 This month, 2016 Ingeborg Bachmann Prize-winner Sharon Dodua Otoo came to CC for a reading of her novellas, “the things I am thinking while smiling politely,” “Synchronicity,” and her prize-winning short story “Herr Gröttrup setzt sich hin” (Mr. Gröttrup sits down). She was invited by the German Program, in conjunction with the English Department’s Visiting Writers Series. During her visit to campus, Otoo took time to talk with CC student and German major Joy Li ’18 about her path to becoming an award-winning writer.

Born in Brighton, England, into a Ghanaian family with two other siblings, Sharon Dodua Otoo began her journey to Germany as an au pair in Hannover in 1992. Since then, she’s moved to Berlin, where she’s lived for 11 years with her four sons as a full-time writer. Otoo describes herself as a “Black British mother, activist, author, and editor,” and it’s exactly these intertwined identities that lend her work a perspective that, as the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper puts it, “you have to go searching for . . . because it hardly knows how sought after it is.”

Even though Otoo says she had always been interested in writing, until recently she never thought of writing as a serious career option. Before she became a full-time writer, she worked as a race and equality consultant for local authorities in London and organized anti-racism forums with people from different sectors like education or law enforcement. In Berlin, her activist work mostly involved working with local NGOs that promote racial equality and the ISD (Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland), an organization that represents the interests of black people in Germany. In 2012, she took a break from her work to spend more time writing (her two novellas were published in 2012 and 2014). In 2016, she was invited to participate in the Festival of German Language Literature in Klagenfurth, Austria, where she won with her brilliant and witty short story “Mr. Gröttrup Sits Down.” Earlier this year in January, she finally decided to make the transition to writing full-time, and she continues to engage in activism.

Interestingly, as a mother of four, Otoo claims that being a mother is also a form of activism. As she says: “Activism is very optimistic, you’re hoping something will work and you don’t know if it will in your lifetime; motherhood is a bit like that.” Defying societal expectations and pressures imposed on motherhood, Otoo has created a “fluid structure” for child-rearing with support from her network of friends and family. She also beckons for the recognition of the underappreciated work as a mother. According to Otoo, “I would like to encourage a culture where we integrate being parents or carers into everything we do. Nobody should do this alone.”

Her focus on creative empowerment is also visible in her literary texts that focus on the experiences of people of color. Both of Otoo’s published works, “Synchronicity” and “the things i am thinking while smiling politely,” feature strong, resilient black women and their perspectives on what it’s like to live in Germany, or specifically in Berlin. She was the first black writer to win the prestigious Ingeborg Bachman Prize for “Mr. Gröttrup Sits Down,” the first story she ever wrote in German. “Mr. Gröttrup” is about a white German pensioner (Helmut Gröttrup is a stereotypical white German male name), a former rocket scientist who first worked with the Nazis, then with the Soviet Union, and the repetitive breakfast routine he shares everyday with his wife. The story includes a section that is narrated from the perspective of an unboiled egg.

In an attempt to share her access to publishing houses with other people of color, Otoo has also edited a book series called “Witnessed” (published in English). The series of five books provides a platform where people of African descent living in Germany can share their work.

Otoo’s success is a story of resistance. By continuing to engage in activism and stressing the element of resistance in her work, she will continue to challenge the field of literature in the English- and German-speaking world. Her next project will be a novel expanding upon “Mr. Gröttrup setzt sich hin,” to be published by Fischer Verlag, one of the largest German publishing houses and a leading address for literary publications.

Sense of Place: Water Tour

Students, faculty, and staff learned about the complex system of infrastructure that feed water to Colorado Springs from over mountains on a Sense of Place water tour this fall. They visited Catamount Reservoir, Princeton Hot Springs, and local farms on the Lower Arkansas River.  The water tour is one of several trips in the Sense of Place program put on by the Offices of Sustainability and Field Study. View a full gallery of the trip. Photos by Jennifer Coombes.