Posts in: Around Campus
This week, Paris welcomes 196 states and the European Union for one of the biggest international summits on climate change, COP21. Four CC students are there, too, attending daily workshops and meetings concurrent with the conference, reporting back via a daily blog of events and commentary. COP21 is the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, taking place in Paris from Nov. 30-Dec. 11. It’s is described as a crucial conference, targeting creation of a new international agreement on the climate, applicable to all countries, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C. “We have been learning about the UN climate conferences throughout our college careers,” said Lily Biggar ’16, one of the students in attendance. “We feel like being here has given us a real-life application of our academic studies.”
Biggar and the other three bloggers, Gabriella Palko ’16, Elliot Hillar ’17, and Zach Pawa ’17, are a self-described “group of driven Colorado College students optimistic about the opportunity to create positive systematic change in the world,” according to the blog. For two weeks, they will spend time at the Climate Generations portion of the summit, along with thousands of participants from around the globe, to convene and discuss global environmental issues. Every day, students have the opportunity to attend dozens of lectures, workshops, debates, and presentations on all aspects of climate change given by NGOs, scientists, artists, UN leaders, and government officials. Follow the group’s daily updates via the AnthropoScene blog.
Ian Johnson, director of CC’s Office of Sustainability, says it’s an incredibly powerful way for students to be actively involved in the real-time issues that are developing in Paris, engage with other students and organizations, represent CC’s sustainability initiative.
“To have students in Paris during the fervor and excitement of the event is a completely different experience from reading the daily recaps in the media; they’re a part of this history, and so are we as a college community by virtue of their participation,” said Johnson, who worked with Biggar and Palko when they served as interns in the Office of Sustainability.
Lily Biggar ’16, an environmental policy major and global health minor, co-authored the college’s first State of Sustainability Report last year and works as the sustainability intern for Residential Life. Biggar’s blog bio states that she deepened her interest in environmental issues while spending a semester studying in Copenhagen, a city often regarded as the “green capital of Europe.” She is pursuing a career in environmental consulting and corporate sustainability.
Gabriella Palko ’16, also an environmental policy major, served as CC’s greenhouse gas inventory intern and is now the intern manager at the Office of Sustainability. In her blog bio, Palko says she’s passionate about climate change, and is particularly interested in the role of industrial agriculture in the current environmental crisis, hoping to play a major role in bridging the detrimental gap between science and politics.
Elliot Hillar ’17, an environmental policy major, and Zach Pawa ’17, an environmental science major, are also participating in the summit and contributing to the blog.
In addition to keeping a blog, the students have scheduled Skype sessions with both Mark Smith’s Environmental Economics class and Corina McKendry’s Global Environmental Policy class. They will also give a presentation about the experience when they return.
The Woman’s Educational Society of Colorado College Co-President Ann Burek presented $10,000 this fall to CC Special Collections curator and archivist Jessy Randall. The gift is for the purpose of enhancing the college curriculum by acquiring significant books and documents that focus on women’s history and contributions to society.
WES has a long history of support for Special Collections (also known as the Colorado College Room) at Tutt Library, including purchasing a case for rare documents in Tutt Library in 1969 and providing the Colorado College Room with furnishings in 1974.
Special Collections includes: documents, papers, publications, and photographs chronicling CC history; books by CC professors and alumni; important book collections; rare books and other valuable items (such as a page from a Gutenberg Bible or the contents of CC’s time capsule opened in the year 2000); electronic files; and access to some of the above via the internet (yearbooks, student newspapers, and time capsule contents).
CC Special Collections is open to everyone. Its main purpose is to serve CC students, but people visit from all over the world to use the rare and unique materials preserved there, including medieval manuscripts, printed books from the Gutenberg era, and the papers of 19th century writer and Indian rights activist Helen Hunt Jackson.
In the past decade, Special Collections has become much more focused on students. In 2001, it saw about 600 visitors. Since 2009, Special Collections has had about 1,600 visitors each year. The majority of these researchers are CC students, though visitors come from all over the world. Special Collections used to get a dozen class visits a year, and now it sees about 50. This means CC classes are visiting almost once a week. Many of these classes do block-long projects using the historic materials. Some examples from the last academic year include a medieval history class looking at manuscripts and early printed books; a Southwest studies class using primary sources of diaries and letters; and an architecture class studying the development of the CC campus using photographs and files.
Part of the library’s mission is to capture CC’s history, and to provide students with access to books and documents of the sort maintained by Special Collections. The Woman’s Educational Society said this gift allows the organization to make a proud contribution to this mission.
Monica Black ‘19
Many CC students, faculty, and staff know that campus is a great place to be a bike enthusiast, but now CC has finally received formal recognition: Colorado College has been named a “Bicycle Friendly University” by the League of American Bicyclists. Factors such as CC’s 1:1 bike rack to student ratio, a student-run bike co-op, and the bike rental program all played into the decision. The ranking also included a space for testimonials from students on the friendliness of the campus bike culture.
Although CC received praise for its current biking culture, unique challenges remain for those who get around on two wheels. Most of the throughways around campus are city streets, so CC’s ability to make an impact on crossings and bike lanes is minimal. Additionally, the campus is isolated from many of the business centers in sprawling Colorado Springs because many busy municipal roads lack bike lanes.
But, Ian Johnson, director of the Office of Sustainability, who submitted CC for bike-friendly campus recognition, said he’s looking eagerly toward the future. “As CC is a major part of the downtown biking culture, we’ve embarked on a feasibility study with [the city of Colorado Springs] and other key stakeholders to develop a bike share program that suits both the city and our campus, to help tie us more closely to the community,” said Johnson. This program aims to help connect the college to Old Colorado City, Manitou Springs, and University Village, and encourages the culture of biking among a student body, which sometimes claims “you need a car in the Springs.”
Students, staff, and faculty will play the biggest role in further adopting bike culture into campus life. “The biggest thing that people can do is to bike to work and class regularly, and let us know what sorts of challenges they’re facing,” said Johnson. “It’s not for the sake of a designation, but for the benefit of the real users on our campus.”
Message on behalf of CC’s first Tiger Pen team:
Wondering what major speakers are coming to campus next semester? Looking for more information about a presentation you saw last year? Searching for ideas while planning for a major speaker?
We are proud to present “Speakers, Scholars, and Events,” a new web resource that aims to meet those needs. With the Block Plan’s rapid pace, sometimes you don’t hear about an outstanding speaker until she’s already gone. The new web resource aims to keep the campus community better informed, and features a selection of the many amazing visitors who interact with the campus community each block.
“Speakers, Scholars, and Events” is the result of CC’s first Tiger Pen, which convened this summer to solve a problem selected by campus community vote: With so many events happening and the pace of the Block Plan, we often miss some of our amazing visitors entirely, or aren’t able to connect with them as much as we’d like.
The web resource aims to solve this problem by providing a new lens through which to view CC speakers. The web resource:
- Enables the CC community to better anticipate upcoming academic events and prevents scheduling conflicts
- Presents information well in advance of speakers’ visits
- Keeps a record of past events including additional information after the event is complete
- Enhances the new CC Events Management system by providing more depth and breadth of information and highlighting major events appearing on the campus calendar
- Showcases how endowed funds are used
The Tiger Pen is a focused way to solve problems and/or implement new ideas directly related to CC’s academic mission and the format means a different team of experts is selected for each project.
The Tiger Pen concept was 1 of 10 innovative pilot projects funded by the Center for Immersive Learning and Engaged Teaching Action team.
First Tiger Pen Team Members:
Monica Black ’19
Poet Amal Kassir, 19, is not one to skirt around issues. Upon entering CC’s Slocum Hall Oct. 26, wearing a black hijab, the University of Colorado-Boulder student stated the obvious with a small smile: “I’m the only scarved girl here.” Her audience, seated around her at tables, laughed nervously. “I get this question all the time: ‘Who cuts your hair?’” And with that prompt, she launched into one of her award-winning spoken word poems. Her poems fiercely defend the dignity of her Syrian-American identity and the importance of family and connection to place.
With constant fearlessness, she attacked and confronted issues of her identity. Born of a Syrian father and an American mother, Kassir grew up in Aurora, Colorado, but spent much of her childhood in Syria. “America,” she recited, “taught me spangling my scarves with stars.” She described a road trip through Colorado, Austin, the Grand Canyon, and San Diego that left her with impressions that her spine was like the American Aspen, that her Iowan mother had drunk the same water as every American to nurture her in the womb, that she was constructed of the very land that now marginalized immigrant families like hers. Elements of the poem were accusatory as well: “My immigrant father is your dream!” she recited. It was a triumphant reclaiming of her identity, the hope that those contradictions not be so offensive or problematic after all.
The Race, Ethnicity and Migration Studies Department invited Kassir, who works with refugees and is an education advocate for marginalized and displaced American youth, to lend perspective to the traditional narrative of the Syrian civil war. The discussion was the first of a series of “roundtable discussions” that REMS plans to put on this year. Claire Garcia, professor and chair of the REMS department, stated the group’s intention for this roundtable discussion was to promote comprehension of the global response to the crisis caused by the Syrian civil war.
Kassir, who still has connections to her father’s homeland, offered both a human perspective as a Syrian-American affected by the conflict, and an informed position on the global response. But her personal connection to the region did not prevent her from seeing it in terms of foreign policy; in fact, it lends to that analysis. During the discussion led by student and faculty panel members, Kassir offered her opinions on the response of the U.S., calling for a no-fly zone above the region to stem the outflow of refugees to neighboring countries, the outflow which has in recent months provoked a crisis, most notably in the European Union.
However, Kassir did not want attendees to discount the relevance of personal experience in the understanding of current issues; her poem “My Grandmother’s Farm” was a deeply moving tribute to the way that civilians, in particular farmers, view the regime of dictator Bashar Al-Assad.
They cut down the plum trees in my grandmother’s farm,
Ripped the pomegranate bushes from the earth,
The lemons don’t grow anymore.
And we wonder
If the tyrant even remembers who fed him.
Even thousands of miles away, Kassir feels the impact of the civil war and feels her ties to the land, just like she feels ties to America. “Syria redefined happy for us,” she told the group, “and redefined sadness. I have learned a lot better to love since the civil war.”
Monica Black ’19
The beloved Sacred Grounds space on the lower level of Shove Memorial Chapel recently received a dramatic makeover. Gone are the narrow side stairs, metal railings and black-box feel of the old Sacred Grounds, replaced with almost unrecognizable but equally warm and welcoming architecture. The new space — replete with light, warm colors — features multiple levels, a small meeting area, a shiny new kitchen, and various benches and sitting spaces scattered throughout. A new audio-visual system is also in place for late-night screenings, music performances, and other events. Student manager Vanessa Voller ’16 added, “in light of the larger ‘Sense of Place’ initiative on campus we are very excited to revamp the fair-trade focus of Sacred Grounds this year: sourcing direct trade and locally grown (when possible) teas and coffee.”
Sacred Grounds is an integral part of spiritual life at CC: programs over meals, such as Shove Council and Spiritual Journeys, are held there; Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and GROW meet in the space; and it serves as a quiet study area when no groups are in session.
Sacred Grounds is perhaps best known among the student body, however, for the Sacred Grounds Tea House. The Tea House is a student-run, late-night (9 p.m. – 1 a.m.) coffee and teahouse, sometimes hosting open mics, screenings, and other events (like Stitch ‘n’ Bitch, the crafting-and-complaining club). Sacred Grounds was conceived with the idea that students should be in charge of a space on campus, and in fact, the managers of the space are students, like Voller and Jesús Loayza ’16. “We’re looking forward to collaborating with student groups in the space,” said Loayza. “Many don’t know that they can use Sacred Grounds for late-night events. That’s going to be one of our marketing department’s priorities here on out.”
Chaplain Bruce Coriell and Jera Wooden, Chaplains’ Office manager, wanted to respect the student-led nature of the space and encouraged student input during the planning process. “There aren’t many places on campus where students can direct the space without much restriction,” said Coriell. They received all kinds of responses and worked in close harmony with several students, including Ben Kimura ’16 and Jacey Stewart ’17, during the planning sessions of the renovation. Students expressed the desire for a “homier, less institutionalized” space, according to Wooden. “Conceptually, the idea for the space was to emulate a river, the eddies and the flows,” commented Coriell. This idea of “flow” was inserted into the plans for the stairs and levels; it does in fact mimic a river tumbling down a hill. “If you’re tuned in, you can feel it,” said Coriell.
Upon completion of the renovation, reception has been overwhelmingly positive. “Walking through here in the morning,” said Coriell, whose office is nestled in the back of Sacred Grounds, “the space feels twice as big. I’m thrilled.” Loayza was excited about some of the architectural features. “The levels are also more conducive to hosting events. I think the high-top bars will be a hit amongst students as well.”
The bulk of the renovation was completed over the summer and Sacred Grounds celebrated with a re-dedication ceremony Wednesday, Nov. 4. Check out the teahouse, now open every night from 9 p.m. – 1 a.m.
Montana Bass ’18
Hours of collaboration, choreography, and rehearsal culminate next week with 2015’s Dance Workshop performances. This year’s show entitled “Still Standing,” takes place Friday, Nov. 6, at 8 p.m., and Saturday, Nov. 7, at 2:30 and 9 p.m. in Armstrong Theatre.
The show features 14 pieces, exhibiting a wide range of dance styles from modern, to swing, to hip-hop. The dancers, led by co-chairs, Alison Rowe ’16 and Evans Levy ’18, had to pull things together more quickly this year, with performances taking place during Block 3, as opposed to the middle of Block 4 as in years past. “Still Standing” came together an entire month earlier, so for Rowe and Levy, show planning began before the start of the academic year, as they worked to choreograph a try-out dance for auditioning performers. In the first week of Block 1, they held choreographer auditions, where students looking to choreograph numbers for the show presented their ideas. “We ask you to present everything you have,” Levy said of the audition process. “Show us the song, if you have choreography, share what you’re inspired by, how many dancers you want, anything and everything you can tell us about the piece. We try to make sure it’s a well-rounded show. We want to know you have the drive to put the piece together.”
Then, more than 100 student dancers auditioned for Rowe, Levy, and the selected choreographers; dancers may be chosen to perform in up to three numbers. This is the most stressful part of the process, according to Levy. “It can be hard to get choreographers to cast people they don’t know and step out of their comfort zone.” Over the next two months, choreographers and dancers go to work practicing individual pieces once or twice a week, while the co-chairs continue work to set the schedule for tech rehearsals, finalize the order of the numbers for the show, develop publicity materials for the event, and, Levy notes, send “about a billion emails.”
The week before the show may be both the most hectic and the most exciting according to Levy. “The pieces evolve so much during that week. When you put the pieces on stage, people realize there’s actually going to be a performance and that’s when it really starts to look like a show,” said Levy. “I’m really excited to see the first run through and see how the pieces have come together.” For everyone involved, the shows are a source of pride. Dancers experience the high of performing on stage, choreographers see a once-vague vision play out, and the co-chairs reap the satisfaction of seeing the show go on, despite a multitude of challenges and problems that may have arisen along the way.
“Overall it’s really cool to be a part of something so big,” Levy said. “This is the biggest student-run performance event and I didn’t realize how much work went into it, but I appreciate it all the more because of that. There’s such a community that’s built around it and so many friendships that are made.”
Montana Bass ’18
Student recipients in two different grant programs will showcase their experiences and you’ll have the opportunity to talk with them about how the grants support learning at CC.
Promoting CC students’ imagination, challenge, and personal growth in their own responsible and conscientious pursuit of wilderness expeditions and education — that’s the purpose of the Ritt Kellogg Memorial Fund. Each year, the Ritt Kellogg Memorial Fund gives grants to a selection of student applicants. This summer, the fund sponsored 10 expeditions in which 27 students participated. Talk with grant recipients in person at the Ritt Kellogg Memorial Fund Expedition Grant slideshow on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 7-8:30 p.m. in the Cornerstone Arts Center Screening Room. Student groups will share their incredible backcountry expeditions throughout North America.
Since its inauguration in 1995, the Ritt Kellogg Memorial Fund has provided 320 students with expedition funding, resulting in 134 successful expeditions and countless life-changing experiences for Colorado College students.
Keller Venture Grants provide another unique opportunity for CC students, sending them out into the world with the resources to explore a specific interest. This year marks 10 years for the Keller Family Venture Grant program. Last year, the program provided $121,750 to 134 CC students for research and experiential projects.
Students’ projects ranged in focus from art to health care to environmental studies. The grants took students to five continents and 13 countries. The students who receive them exhibit noteworthy innovation, creativity, and passion in their ability to pursue their interests and take advantage of a unique and vital resource at CC.
Anna Cain ’17 traveled to Dublin to continue delving into a book that she did not want to put down at the end of the block. “Ulysses is a book that just destroys your mind,” Cain explained. “After one block, I knew I hadn’t gotten all I could out of it, so I continued to read it over the course of one semester.” Cain meticulously traced the travels of Ulysses during her semester of reading and applied for a grant that would take her to Dublin in the summer to trace his path herself. She researched the commercialism that has grown from Ulysses’s legacy in Dublin and paid specific attention to this in her travels. “It began as just seeing how Ireland was honoring its legacy, then I was finding lots of industries whose entire business model was based on their connection to Ulysses,” she said.
Morgan Mulhern ’17 began her CC semester in a Latin America study abroad program with a grant to study the food of southern Peru over winter break before the spring semester started. “Culinary culture can be thought of as a form of unwritten communication and identification. I traveled from Lima down the coast to Arequipa, Puno, and Cusco. I visited restaurants of Acurio Gaston along the way. His restaurants serve to integrate, celebrate, and explore various fields surrounding the culture and creation of food,” said Mulhern.
To make even more memorable his travel with the CC men’s soccer team, Soren Frykholm ’17 applied for and received a grant to create a documentary exploring the effect of travel on team companionship. “I had the camera rolling as much as I could,” said Frykholm. “I really wanted to get at, ‘What is the importance of world travel’ and ‘What is the purpose of this trip?’” Frykholm dedicated the project to his coach, Horst Richardson, and his wife, Helen, for their 50 years of service to the team.
All three students stressed heavily the accessibility of the grant application process and the academic and personal growth they experienced as a result of their adventures. View an interactive map of all grants from the past two years.
Or, hear their stories in person and learn about how the Keller Venture Grants have transformed the student experience at CC. The Keller Family Venture Grant Forum happens Thursday, Nov. 5, beginning with a reception at 4:45 p.m. in the Cornerstone Arts Center’s main space and a student improv performance by TWIT (CC’s Theatre Workshop Improv Troupe) at 5:20 p.m. Featured student IGNITE-style presentations begin in the Celeste Theatre at 5:30 p.m.
UPDATE: Nov. 13, 2015
The first issue of Grits, one of the Colorado College student-led projects that emerged from last spring’s Soup Project Challenge, was recently published in the Colorado Springs Independent. Serving as a “publication for community nourishment,” Grits features the stories, poems, and artwork of those who are homeless or food insecure in Colorado Springs. Read more in the CC Newsroom.
Arts, innovation, and community engagement come together harmoniously in the Grits Collective, a project founded by students Benjamin Criswell ’16, Caitlin Canty ’16, and Paige Clark ’16 that aims to use the power of storytelling to challenge common societal prejudices toward the homeless population.
Following the closure and transition of the CC Soup Kitchen, the college, launched the Soup Project Challenge, facilitated by CC’s innovation initiative and the Collaborative for Community Engagement, to fund student projects that address hunger, homelessness, and poverty in the greater Colorado Springs community. Of the proposals submitted, four teams of students allocated funding last spring, including the Grits Collective.
During the past few months, the Grits team, which now includes its first intern, Reed Young ’17, has been visiting the Marian House Soup Kitchen, and most recently, working with the kitchen’s Family Day Center program. The students sit down with the soup kitchen’s clients, who are finishing up their lunches, and provide writing prompts and materials to collect stories from the individuals in an effort to shed light on their lives and life experiences.
“There are two components,” said Young of the process. “We collect the stories and publish them, that’s the advocacy component. And the other component you could call empowerment: the idea is that we are bringing people together once a week to share stories.”
Criswell added that the group is looking to “create a shift in the general perception of people that are experiencing homelessness. A homeless person is not just a homeless person; they’re a father, or a son, or a pet owner, or a librarian. There’s a lot more behind people’s faces.”
One only has to take a look at the stories, which can be found on Grits’s new website, gritsco.org, to realize their deeply humanizing power. Each narrative provides context for the storyteller and voices the often-overlooked complexity of human life. Whether revealing an explanation of the past, a commentary on a specific impression of the present, or hopes for the future, the stories deny readers and listeners the option of disregarding the storyteller as simply “homeless.” The Grits Collective encourages understanding by dismantling generalizations shared by mainstream society.
“Fundamentally, we are providing a counter narrative,” said Criswell.
The team members say they’re often struck by the extent to which pure chance contributes to the situations of the people they meet. “For a lot of people that are right on the edge, it’s completely out of their hands,” Criswell said. “If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, one thing – like you slip on ice and have a bunch of medical bills – can put you in that situation.”
Grits will continue to work with CC’s Collaborative for Community Engagement, which advises over 30 community-based student groups, as they continue expanding the project. The Grits team will also partner with KRCC to bring these stories to radio programming, and will have its first print insert in the Colorado Springs Independent Oct. 28, part of Grits’ goal to create a multimedia presence. In the meantime, the team will keep returning to the Marian house to collect stories and continue to build relationships with those who share them.
Montana Bass ’18
“Humans of New York,” the popular Facebook page with over 15 million “likes,” now has another sister page: “Humans of Colorado College,” thanks to two first-year students, Padah Vang ’19 and Joann Bandales ’19. The page already has over 1,300 “likes” and is continuing to gain popularity.
The students have posted to the page nearly every day for the past three weeks. Each post includes a photo of a CC student and a statement from the student, usually regarding his or her experience at CC, and goals for the student’s experience at the college. Students’ comments are honest, inspiring, and heartfelt. Poignant personalities carry through the screen, speaking to the individuality of the student body, while drawing attention to overlooked issues or shedding light on less common perspectives.
Esther Chan ’16 helped Vang and Bandales start the page and says she is extremely excited about where they have taken it. “It’s just gone so far beyond my belief. They’re creating this community of support, vulnerability, honesty, and authenticity that CC needs,” Chan said.
Particularly impressive, notes Bandales, is students’ willingness to share personal details of their lives and allow those intimate stories to be posted for the larger community. “The interviews that have impacted me a lot have been Mohammad [Mia] and Austin [Lukondi]’s stories. They are both amazing people and for them to talk about these things, it’s just eye-opening that there’s more to a person than you think,” she said.
Bandales says she hopes the page will draw the CC community closer together. “I believe that this project will allow us to connect more with the people we see everyday, yet never really know what goes on behind the scenes,” she said.
Vang and Bandales encourage people interested in the project to contact them and become involved. Anyone can find the page by searching “Humans of Colorado College” on Facebook.