Posts in: General News

Two Colorado College Alumni Advocate for Utah Wilderness

Red Rock Stories

By Devon Burnham ’16

Coming from a love for the red rock wilderness in southern Utah, Colorado College alumni Brooke Larsen ’14 and Stephen Trimble ’72 are pursuing a project they call “art as advocacy.” “Red Rock Stories,” a collection of works that includes a variety of stories, photographs, art, video, and audio concerning Utah’s public lands, is just one of the ways Larsen and Trimble hope to make a difference.

The project’s goal is to use “Red Rock Stories” to influence decision-makers to protect Bear Ears National Monument and other wilderness areas in southern Utah. “We believe in the power of story to move decision-makers and build empathy,” says Larsen. “By sharing the stories of three generations of writers, we hope to inspire the action needed to protect the red rock wilderness.”

The project came about in October 2015 following five southwestern Native nations’ proposal to establish a Bear Ears National Monument in southern Utah. Threats to the western wildlands have steadily increased over time, and as a result, a group of writers from Salt Lake City began to meet and discuss how they could advocate for the proposal. Taking inspiration from “Testimony: Writers of the West Speak on Behalf of Utah Wilderness,” which convinced legislators to defeat an anti-wilderness bill in 1995, members of the Red Rocks Project hope to make a difference through similar means.

“Red Rock Testimony,” the first part of the project, is a chapbook that was sent to the Obama administration to promote the idea of protecting public lands. “Red Rock Stories’ is an 88-page book that conveys the spiritual, cultural, and scientific values of Utah’s canyon country and includes the work of 34 writers. The stories are written by a variety of authors, and all advocate for the protection of the proposed Bear Ears National Monument. The group plans to publish a second trade book in 2017.

“We hope to build and support a community of folks who love the red rock wilderness and want to speak on its behalf,” says Larsen.

Larsen, who worked with CC’s State of the Rockies Project, now works for the Torrey House Press in Salt Lake City. Trimble is an award-winning writer who co-compiled “Testimony,” and is an editor for “Red Rock Stories.”

Currently, the project is focusing on sharing “Red Rock Stories” digitally, and is inviting members of the CC community to contribute their stories. Anyone can submit their stories about the red rocks following a series of creative prompts that are currently on their website.

Others who are interested in helping the project financially can contribute through their Kickstarter campaign.

A Summer Connecting with Our Sense of Place

Sense of Place Trip

By Devon Burnham ’16

This summer, Colorado College is hosting an array of free Sense of Place trips for its faculty and staff. They give participants the chance to be involved with activities that they normally would not have the opportunity to take part in, such as fly-fishing, climbing, and local hikes.

Led by Outdoor Education Director Ryan Hammes, the most recent Sense of Place trip took place over the course of two days. During the two-hour session on Wednesday, June 22, participants learned the fundamentals of fly-fishing, how fishing fits into Colorado’s tourism and local economy, and practiced some basics on campus. Those who signed up for part two, on Friday, drove up to the Catamount Center, in Woodland Park. There, they took a tour of the center, then put their newly acquired skills to the test in one of Catamount’s fishing ponds.

Hammes believes that the Sense of Place trips provide an opportunity to build a community. “It’s neat when you can bring all of these different backgrounds together,” says Hammes. “We don’t really talk about our work—we just talk about why it’s special to be here, and really enjoy each other’s company and connect.”

Molly Moran, visiting assistant professor and one of the nine faculty members who went on both trips, says she enjoyed learning more about the opportunities available to CC students, faculty, and staff at the Catamount Center. “The campus has so many wonderful opportunities, and these kinds of events help me to see what some of them are!”

The faculty and staff who went to the fly-fishing classes were excited to participate, saying that it was something they’ve wanted to do for some time. The trip itself was enough to inspire a future hobby for Karen West, academic records assistant in the Office of the Registrar. “I’d like to rent equipment, bring a friend, and try my luck fishing [at the Catamount Center],” West says. “He [Hammes] also mentioned I could find a local fly-fishing group at one of the fly-fishing shops, and I may try that too.”

No experience is necessary to sign up for Summer Sense of Place trips on Outdoor Education’s Summit page. Trips are free and gear is provided!

Upcoming trips:

– July 26, 2016 – Hike Red Rock Canyon Open Space
A 1-2 hour day hike to become more familiar with this wonderful open space park. 3 p.m.-5:30 p.m.

You can sign up for these trips via the Outdoor Education Summit page:
https://apps.ideal-logic.com/ccoe

Bridge Scholars Talk Finance on Alternative Block Break

By Montana Bass ’18

Retirement, investing, and budgeting were topics of discussion for about 40 students during the break between Blocks 5 and 6. The Bridge Scholars Program provided an alternative break program focused on financial literacy titled “Work Hard to Play Hard: A Unique Spin on Financial Literacy” consisting of an on-campus session and a daytrip to Denver.

Prentiss Dantzler, current Riley Scholar and sociology professor who helped lead the workshop, says it was a great success. “The most important point for students to take away is that actions performed today have an impact on their lives long-term. Whether it’s attending CC or swiping their credit card to pay for miscellaneous items, what we do today has an effect on our position tomorrow.”

Atiya Harvey ’18 attended the workshop and says she was pleasantly surprised by the amount she learned. “It was much more beneficial than I thought it was going to be,” she admits. “We discussed what financial literacy means to us and talked about our own financial goals.” Students traveled to Denver for a career-focused component of the workshop, visiting with professionals, including CC graduates, from a variety of companies to talk about career choice and opportunities.

Ultimately, Harvey says she came away with encouragement to pursue her dreams, and with practical information like how to choose a credit card and how to deal with debt. “I also talked with with an environmental education paraprof who talked to me about my options after CC, which I really appreciate,” she adds.

Dantzler says this type of programming addresses a disconnect between the financial burden often placed on students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, and their education regarding financial topics.

Emily Chan, associate dean of academic programs and strategic initiatives, says programming like this is critical to students’ success at CC and beyond. “These are not students of great means, so for them to be responsible for their own finances can be very stressful,” Chan says. “They suddenly have a lot more goals and a lot more financial independence. We know that we need to offer them tools and give them places to learn.

EnAct and Palmer Land Trust: Collaborative Fundraising

By Montana Bass ’18

Through a partnership between EnAct and the Palmer Land Trust, CC collectively raised over $2,900 to support land conservation as part of Colorado Springs Independent’s annual Give Campaign.

Sierra Melton ’18 and Laurel Sebastian ’16 spearheaded fundraising efforts on behalf of EnAct, CC’s club dedicated to environmental activism. Melton, a new co-chair this year, had heard of PIFP fellows working on fundraising for the Palmer Land Trust in past years, and reached out to expand efforts. “It was really driven by her,” Erica Oakley-Courage, development director for Palmer Land Trust, says of Melton. “It was really cool to see her and Laurel come to us with ideas and follow through. I could see their excitement and desire to push this issue.”

Together, the three came up with different methods to gain participation from CC students. As a club, EnAct conducted multiple outreach events, asking for donations from students. “We set up informational tables to collect donations almost every day during third and fourth block,” Melton says. They also threw a festival in November, complete with student bands and plenty of food. The State of the Rockies Project joined the fundraising push as well, providing posters featuring photography by the Geology Department’s Steve Weaver for any students who donated more than $10 Additionally, students who donated more than $20 received a hat from Palmer Land Trust.

The funds raised by the campus community surpass the $2,000 needed to steward a property through Palmer Land Trust for a year. Because of CC students’ participation, Palmer Land Trust came in fifth place out of 88 nonprofits in the Youth Involvement competition. “It was totally a shock to us,” Oakley-Courage admitted. “We generally don’t have a lot of young donors. I was sitting at the fundraiser when we found out we won and a couple of trustees were behind me. I could hear them saying, ‘What? We really won?!’”

Going forward, this campaign can continue to be a source of environmental education and collaboration for the CC community. “I really enjoyed engaging CC students in the local nonprofit sector,” says Sebastian. “I got to explain a lot of these issues and how they relate to land spaces students here use so frequently, like Bear Creek Park and Red Rocks Open Space.”

“I think we could use this idea to collaborate with even more groups on campus,” Melton says. “Land conservation is related to environmental recreation, food, cultural heritage, and so many other issues.

Open Dialogue: Continuing the Conversation

Montana Bass ’17

In order to continue the conversation regarding racial tension on campus sparked by painful, inappropriate YikYak comments and started officially at the all-campus meeting on the first Monday of this block, The Butler Center has held multiple open-dialogue circles. These dialogues were meant to give CC community members a place to reflect, heal, and reimagine an inclusive campus community.

Pearl Leonard-Rock, The Butler Center’s new assistant director, said these dialogues were truly helpful to the campus community, and exhibited the willingness of students to connect over these issues when given the opportunity. “Being new to CC, I really didn’t expect that students would heed the call. I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of faculty, staff, and students who have been present. There have been white-identifying students as well as students of color who have come to share this space with us. Many of the attendees have been unknown to me and they have been very open and vulnerable while in the circle. It has been very affirming to know that all students are seeing our genuine outreach to all community members.”

So that they could fully focus on this clearly pressing topic, The Butler Center cancelled all other Block 4 programming. “The Butler Center staff agreed that suspending regular programming in Block 4 would be a great idea to make time for individual and group support of community members,” said Leonard-Rock. “It became apparent that taking intentional and focused time for reflection, healing, and re-imagining a truly inclusive community could benefit us all greatly.”

The dialogues were unstructured except for a theme — newly created and presented each week — that was meant to drive discussion. Leonard-Rock noted that discussion leaders had to be flexible with themes in order to meet the needs of students.

Students joined together to discuss their own experiences with race, often focusing on their bewilderment about what defined “community,” in general and on campus. “Most students have talked about this time being the first time in their college experience they have felt compelled to have a dialogue about race,” Leonard-Rock said.

Students who have not had the opportunity to join one of these dialogue sessions are encouraged to do so, as they will continue next semester. Additionally, a two-day social justice training event, as well as other learning opportunities will be offered beginning in January.

The Butler Center will host Becky Martinez from the Social Justice Training Institute the weekend before the start of Block 5. Leonard-Rock described these trainings as is a unique and exciting opportunity to engage deeply in social justice education and a chance to dig deeper on topics of race and other salient identities for a full day and a half.

Please save the dates: Thursday, Jan. 14, Friday, Jan. 15, and Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016.

A session for faculty and staff will take place Thursday, Jan. 14, 9 a.m.-noon.
Sessions for students run Thursday, Jan. 14-Saturday, Jan. 16

Please email Pearl Leonard-Rock (pearl.leonardrock@coloradocollege.edu) to secure your spot in this on-campus experience.

Space is limited. There is a cap on the number of students who can attend and The Butler Center will work to create visible diversity in the session in an effort to enrich the dialogues.

Learn more about the Social Justice Institute.
Learn more about Becky Martinez.

Behind the Scenes of “American Falls”

Angie Bardsley, ITS: administrative assistant

American Falls - preproduction The time and effort needed to produce and exhibit a piece of art can be deceptive. Take “American Falls,” for instance. Filmmaker Phil Solomon spent nearly a decade fulfilling his vision of creating an all-encompassing experience in American history. In addition, Jessica Hunter-Larsen, I.D.E.A. Space curator, worked with Solomon for two years arranging the exhibit at CC, and ITS: staff spent six months researching and preparing to assist with the film’s installation.

In the spring of 2015, Sean Roberts, smart spaces and AV manager, was asked to assist with the film’s autumn installation. Roberts prepared by studying triptych film — in which different images are projected on three surfaces simultaneously. He contacted other venues that previously exhibited the film, reached out to LVW Electronics for crucial advice, communicated with Solomon about his preferences, and pre-staged three projectors to do a trial run. In addition, Roberts enlisted the expertise of fellow ITS: team members Joe Hinson, Gerald Mondragon, Tulio Wolford, Joseph Sharman, Matt Gottfried, Linda Petro, and Vish Paradkar. “This was the largest, cross-department project I’ve worked on outside of events. It took all of us,” Roberts said.

When it was time to finally install the “American Falls” exhibit, Roberts worked closely with Briget Heidmous, I.D.E.A. Space’s assistant to the curator. Heidmous and Roberts spent three days adjusting the film’s resolution and manually positioning three projectors so the film had no visible edges. In order to give viewers the most meaningful experience, the film had to be projected with precision. Heidmous explained, “Phil Solomon is an important person in the experimental film world. Having his film in Colorado Springs, displaying it this way, is unique.”

At one point, Heidmous and Roberts contacted Solomon via Skype, so he could see and hear the exhibit. “Having access to technology makes situations like these so much easier. At Colorado College, we really have experts in their fields; we don’t have to look far for someone to help,” Heidmous said. Without know-how from the ITS: team, the project could have cost three to four times more. The equipment purchased for the exhibit will be repurposed for other projects, saving campus resources.

Technology is not only becoming increasingly prevalent in modern art, it also continues to evolve and permeate all areas of the academic world. As these changes occur, the ITS: division looks forward to collaborating with other departments to create a rich learning experience for CC’s students and a stimulating environment for its faculty and staff.

SolarWinds and Raspberry Pi are Improving Your Online Experience

By Linda Petro

What do solar winds, raspberry pie, and network access have in common? A creative ITS: solution uses the first two to determine an online user’s experience with the third, providing crucial data to improve the overall experience. Better online access through pie  — who doesn’t like the sound of that?

The ultra-low cost Raspberry Pi computer, no bigger than a standard computer mouse (center).

ITS: has employed innovative problem solving using the ultra-low cost Raspberry Pi computer, no bigger than a standard computer mouse (center).

Here’s how it all comes together: The ITS: Division’s Enterprise Technology Team uses software called SolarWinds to record and report statistics about network access across campus and provide alerts for buildings that are offline. Unfortunately, it does not provide data about a user’s actual experience. Access may be available, but a user could be upset because a website is taking more than a minute to load. This user might express that frustration to friends about their network experience, but ITS: wouldn’t always hear about it to be able to fix it.

Those days will soon be history. A small group of ITS: Enterprise Technology teammates, including David Ziemba, Keith Conger, Dan Raney, and Manuel Rendon, got together to brainstorm and find a system to help identify these “slow spots.” One of them suggested they use a computer to monitor the network in each building. As it was cost-prohibitive to place standard machines everywhere, they focused on using the ultra-low cost Raspberry Pi computer, no bigger than a standard computer mouse, instead (pictured center). The idea was to take the tiny computer and program it to access websites as the average user would do when surfing the internet, then attach it to the SolarWinds software to record how long it was taking, making the information viewable and actionable through reports and alerts.

After some trial and error, the team started to receive data from the test Pis and was able to see how the network was performing. When a website took longer than a fraction of a second to load, the team researched why and implemented a fix. The idea was working.

Because the preliminary information was helpful, the idea expanded further. Pis were placed in nearly every campus building, with additional Pis positioned in high-need spots. Each Pi was programmed to access a list of websites every minute and send back data to SolarWinds and the team.  When the team cannot monitor the software face-to-face, alerts are sent to their email addresses so they can respond quickly.

“This system is the only one I have seen anywhere that attempts to recreate the user experience, and we are all about a better experience for everyone,” said David Ziemba, senior network engineer.  “We still need to come up with a cool name for it,” Ziemba expressed with a smile.

As the network upgrade continues into phase two, ITS: continues to look for ways to make a better network experience for all who live, study, and work here. And a better experience is worth celebrating. Raspberry Pi, anyone?

Kendall Rock ’15 Showcases Photography in Huffington Post

Montana Bass ’17

Powerful photographs by Kendall Rock ’15, a film and media studies major, have been featured in a Huffington Post article titled “The Truth About Refugees From a U.S. Student Abroad,” written by Jackie Montalvo, a student at Northwestern University.

Since graduation, Rock has worked as a freelance photographer. “I’ve never really contemplated my passion for photography,” she said. “I just have a passion for people, and like photographing them. I’m an observer, and I’m really lucky to have the skills to make a career out of capturing people’s moments and stories.”

In this most recent project, Rock’s photos accompany Montalvo’s article addressing the detached mindset often applied to the Syrian refugee crisis. By explaining her experience working with non-governmental organizations in Turkey and Greece, and juxtaposing a Grecian willingness to provide refuge with growing American suspicion toward refugees, the author encourages Americans to see the individuality and humanity of the people making up the masses.

To drive her point home, Montalvo includes Rock’s heartwarming pictures of refugees, mostly children, taken during Rock’s time in Greece with Lisa Hughes, adjunct associate professor of English, for the course Romantic Comedy and the Blue World. Realizing the opportunity for the class to contribute to crisis relief, Rock began working with the Salvation Army in Athens’ Victoria Square. Eventually, she worked with Hughes to coordinate efforts with the Salvation Army in the context of class discussions. They also organized a drive to collect funds from the CC community to contribute to the Salvation Army’s efforts.

It was during this time that Rock snapped the shots included in Montalvo’s article. “In Victoria Square, I kept my head on a swivel for moments, but I made sure that I always asked permission before I snapped a photo of someone, especially when I was photographing children. Hardly anyone spoke English, so I would hold up my camera and gesture to their child and ask, ‘OK?’ Some people said no, and some kids and young men came running toward me and posed, and then asked to see the photos and posed again and again,” she explained.

Rock has a knack for capturing photos that express the individuality of her subjects. From the refugees featured in the article to clients featured on her website, http://www.kendall-rock.com, personalities jump from the screen. “I rarely enter a photo situation looking for something specific (not really even when I photograph weddings), I instead just observe and have my camera ready all the time,” she said.

Kendall Rock '15  photo of refugees in Greece

Rock’s photos, like this one, were featured in the Huffington Post piece on refugees in Greece: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jackie-montalvo/the-truth-about-refugees-_b_8610518.html

In May 2015, Rock’s filmmaking was recognized with the Richard A. Lewis Memorial Film Award, selected by an interdisciplinary panel of faculty to honor the best student film of the year. Her thesis film, “God’s in the Garage,” premiered at the JP2 Interfaith Film Festival in Miami, where it was also honored with a nomination for Best Documentary Short. Currently, Rock lives in Copenhagen and is editing a documentary about Alaska she filmed this past summer. She will return to the United States in the near future where she said she’ll continue with her work in photography and videography.

 

 

 

CC Students Report from International COP21 Climate Change Conference

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.”

Students at COP21

Gabriella Palko ’16 and Lily Biggar ’16 take in lectures and workshops at COP21 Summit in Paris.

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.

Dan Levitt ’16 and Professor Clay Haskell Tell Story of Syrian Refugee Camp

Montana Bass ’19

Senior Dan Levitt and Clay Haskell, assistant professor of film and media studies, are in the midst of pulling together the finished product after a moving independent study experience. They spent Block 2 filming a documentary focused on former Syrian wrestling star Mohammed al Krad in Za’atari, a Syrian refugee camp on the border of Syria and Jordan.

Dan Levitt '16 and Clay Haskell, assistant professor, work on a documentary film project at the Jordan-Syria border. Levitt became interested in filmmaking the summer after his sophomore year, when he took a class with Haskell. “I realized this is what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” Levitt said. When his close family friend Linda Mason wrote an article on al Krad and the wrestling program he had built in Za’atari for The Huffington Post, Levitt was inspired and immediately saw the possibility the story held for film.

He reached out Haskell to see if he would collaborate on the project. “It was an easy choice for me,” Haskell said of working with Levitt. “He is really top quality.” To which Levitt added, “I felt an immense honor to be working with a master of the medium.”

As the retired chairwoman of Mercy Corps Leadership Council, one of the organizations providing aid for refugees in Za’atari, Mason was able to help orchestrate time for Levitt and Haskell in Za’atari. Levitt started fundraising for the trip at the beginning of this academic year. Eventually, he raised enough money to cover all costs with a combination of grants from the CC Political Science Department, the President’s Fund, a Venture Grant matched by Dean of Students Mike Edmonds, and his own Kickstarter campaign.

Conditions in Za’atari saddened both Haskell and Levitt. “We were astounded by the destitution of the situation,” said Levitt. “There’s a feeling of deep sadness because people are without the means to advance their lives. Here at CC, we have so many opportunities to pursue our passions. They’ve had everything taken from them. A lot of these people were educated professionals in Syria.”

“The border situation is a mess,” added Haskell. “People are stuck because they don’t have the financial resources to get out. Many escape across the nearest border they can find. They’re trying to get to Germany or they’re drowning in Greece. This is probably the biggest humanitarian crisis of our age.”

Amid this destitution, Mohammed al Krad stands as a symbol of community and hope. After he escaped Syria and the government’s attempts to use his celebrity to influence Syrian youth on their behalf, al Krad found himself in Za’atari and, with the help of Mercy Corps, started a wrestling program to give the boys of the camp a positive focus. “To say he was only a coach would be reductive. He was really a therapist and a community builder,” explained Levitt. “He knew the ins and outs of all their lives and was there for them, and that was reflected in their love for him.”

Now, Levitt is in the process of editing his film, which he plans to finish in about a month. Along with bringing awareness to the situation, Levitt hopes the finished product will carry the message that “even in the darkest of times, life goes on,” as he said. “People were getting married, having kids, life goes on.”

“It was an extraordinary experience all around,” said Haskell of their project. Both Levitt and Haskell express thanks for the support they received from Colorado College and Mercy Corps, which made their endeavor possible. The CC community should keep an eye out for Levitt’s documentary screening, which will probably take place later during Block 4.