Posts in: Uncategorized
Where Does Your Water Come From?
By Annabelle O’Neill ’19 and Rosa Mallorson ’20
“Where does your water come from?” asked Environmental Studies Program visiting faculty member Rory Cowie ’04 on the first day of class. Like the places we had yet to visit, our responses stretched far, from groundwater wells in Hawaii to water tanks above Philadelphia to snowmelt in the Rockies to pipes in New York City to “I don’t know where…”
Thus began EV 311, Water: Stream Ecology and Hydrology, a Block 8 course that took students to the San Juan Mountains where we studied water chemistry and the impacts of mining. The upper-level environmental science course, which allowed us to engage in meaningful field-based learning that included environmental science subject areas such as geology, chemistry, hydrology, ecology, climate, and human/ecosystem interactions through the analysis of rivers and water, included 14 students from several majors. This course is worth documenting because it embodies the boundless opportunity CC provides for its students to investigate the world’s workings. Cowie was a biology major at CC, so he knew how to balance lecture with field trips nearly every day. Here, we share some of what we learned in the class, while illustrating the beauty of students doing science in the San Juan Mountains.
Why We Care
CC teaches us to examine and tend to our sense of place, which includes the communities, lands, rivers, challenges, and cultures that exist in the Rockies. While many of our studies center in the Front Range, the San Juan Mountains are just six hours southwest of CC and provide much of the Front Range’s water resources.
Since Cowie is an EPA-contracted hydrologist who leads a water sampling project at Bonita Peak Mining District, the Superfund Site where the Gold King Mine, near Silverton, Colorado, spilled in 2015, our coursework focused on mining hydrology. The legacy of heavy metal mining, which boomed from 1870-1990, left nearly 23,000 abandoned mines in the San Juans.
When the surface area of rock containing trace minerals such as pyrite increases due to mine tunnel construction and contacts air and rising groundwater, pyrite’s ions oxidize and form acids in water. This water then flows out of mine tunnels and nearby springs into streams, which soon flow into major rivers that are comprised of watersheds shared by seven states, 12 Native American tribes, millions of people, and vital aquatic life.
The Challenge: Five Watersheds in Five Days
We embarked on a weeklong field trip in the San Juans, studying five watersheds in five days. The trip followed two weeks of theory and practice in hydrology, mine water chemistry, stream ecology, agriculture, development, and snow science. We examined four Legacy and EPA Superfund mines with mandated clean-up, one active mine, and two major active water treatment facilities.
The trip also provided us with diverse data sets that we compiled for our final projects. Our task was to collect stream flow measurements, water quality parameters, and habitat assessments coupled with USGS historic data and lessons from experts we met along the way. This data provided evidence to compare watershed health across the San Juans and extrapolate to the entire Southwestern water regime, which eventually converges with the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.
Day 1: Uncompahgre Watershed
Discharge and water quality parameters collected in Ridgeway, Colorado
Underground mine tour of Ouray Silver Mines and biomass filtration system
Evening soak at Ouray Hot Springs
Day 2: San Miguel Watershed
Observations of diverse, underlying geology that influences ion-availability in the rivers at the Idarado Mine passive water treatment facility
Appreciation of beavers’ tenacity and ecosystem health value
Habitat assessment of Telluride Valley Floor with Scott Johnson of the Mountain Studies Institute and Laurel Sebastian ’16
Day 3: Animas Watershed
Tour of Gladstone Temporary Wastewater Treatment Plant and Bonita Peak Superfund Site above Silverton, Colorado. Active mine water treatment requires lime, a polymer, large conical holding chambers, and the storage of heavy metal “sludge” to purify acidic and metal-loaded water
Examination of outpouring of American Tunnel and flumes at lower elevations measuring discharge
Water quality and discharge sampling of heavily impacted streams (pH ~4) during a blizzard!
Day 4: San Juan Watershed
Forest ecology lesson in Durango, Colorado
Wolf Creek Ski Resort forest health assessment
Lots of driving
Evening soak at Pagosa Hot Springs
Day 5: Rio Grande Watershed
Mining conference in Creede, Colorado
Visit to Bachelor Mountain, the Nelson Tunnel, and multiple mine portals at a Legacy mine on the Amethyst Fault in the Bachelor Caldera
Examination of discharge and water quality parameters at Willow Creek, which includes untreated water from the Nelson Tunnel
Tour of Summitville Mine Superfund site including the active water treatment facility of the open-pit mine using a high-density sludge process, ultimately purifying the water of a large quantity of metals
Analysis of San Luis Valley agricultural impacts
Data analysis and creation of final watershed report cards
- A historic, large rock drill is difficult and heavy to hold! Rock-drill competitions still occur in Creede, Colorado, to showcase miners’ talent.
- Beavers can plug up and flood wetlands by building dams of sticks. However, they can be deceived with large wire nets over drains called “beaver deceivers.”
- Fire suppression has had detrimental effects on forest health and allowed the pine beetle to infiltrate Colorado’s forests.
Our class expresses gratitude to Cowie, Technical Director Darren Ceckanowicz, and Paraprofessional Hanna Ewell ’17 for teaching us how to do science, have fun, and be a team.
Annabelle O’Neill ’19 and Rosa Mallorson ’20 are biochemistry majors at Colorado College.
By Alana Aamodt ’18
The newest team at CC doesn’t practice at the gym or the fields. Nope, they practice from the comfort of their dorm rooms and meet up in the library to go over strategy. It’s CC’s new eSports team, currently consisting of the eight-member Overwatch A-team, with a B-team and a League of Legends team currently in development. Brian Young, vice president for information technology, defines eSports as “competitive, skill-based, usually online gaming where teams play against each other using a specific set of rules set by the game they’re playing.”
eSports at CC is currently an organization supported by the college through the Division of Information Technology. More than 100 students have shown interest in participating in CC eSports following an initial ITS call out; that number could easily be higher, Young says, because many students play eSports that did not come to one of the open information sessions.
Overwatch is an objective-based six vs. six, team game, with each match lasting between 10 and 20 minutes. Set in the future, “every match is an intense multiplayer showdown pitting a diverse cast of heroes, mercenaries, scientists, adventurers, and oddities against each other in an epic, globe-spanning conflict,” according to the game’s Wikipedia page. The game is unique in that players can switch characters mid-game, keeping both teams’ strategies constantly and quickly evolving. One game, the objective may be for one team to move an object from one side of the map to the other, while the other team tries to stop them, while the next game could be a king-of-the-hill style match.
Or, as Chad Schonewill ’03, ITS Solutions Center team lead, summarizes, “it’s a bit like football if the players had guns and swords and force-fields and magic spells and some of them could fly.”
CC’s Information Technology Team has been the main group getting the CC eSports team up and going, with Schonewill leading the way, supported by great student staff members. The project began in December 2017 with the first scrimmages in January 2018.
The team competes against other collegiate teams in competitions and scrimmages, most recently defeating the University of Denver handily just last week. “eSports has skyrocketed in popularity and shows no signs of slowing down. The last world championship for League of Legends had physical attendees and people who watched in numbers that rival the Super Bowl, and is projected to easily surpass that this year,” Schonewill says. “Some large universities are already offering it as a varsity sport, complete with scholarships. I personally think it’s important to include it at CC because a significant part of our student body is passionate about video games. Even if they don’t play at a competitive level, many students like to spectate.”
And viewing a competitive game has never been so easy — their matches are livestreamed on the popular video site Twitch. Schonewill continues, “Having an official program does a lot to legitimize that passion for said students and helps them feel much more engaged with the college than if they just played games on their own in the background.”
Mataan Peer ’21, a member of the Overwatch team, says he enjoys “the communication required in the game. If you want to win with a team, you need to talk to them and organize attacks or defenses with them.” According to Peer, these games are typically with randomly-selected strangers, but because of CC’s eSports team, the players can work out a more personalized strategy, developing a more “intuitive understanding of how each other play and we can work around it.”
Maggie McNeil ’21, another student on the Overwatch team, shares her perspective: “I play mostly support heroes, or healers. For me, Overwatch is great not because you can rack up eliminations on damage heroes, but because I’m able to look after my team and keep them alive in the game. Another reason why I play so much Overwatch is because it’s a good way to stay in touch with my siblings and friends back home in Connecticut; video games are more social than a lot of people might expect.”
For those who still question how a video game may be viewed as a sport, McNeil asserts that “Overwatch shares many of the qualities that sports do: working as a team, developing strategies and mechanical skills, and accomplishing an objective. It’s obviously very different from traditional sports, but if anyone watches the CC live stream of our matches, they would understand that it’s just as complicated with just as many rules as mainstream sports.”
As the eSports community grows at CC to encompass more games and more people, hopefully the greater student following will too — watch their matches. CC’s athletic conference, the SCAC, is exploring what eSports could mean for conference play. Some conferences have already started e-sports programs. CC’s eSports team plays matches with college and university teams around the country and will play in their first tournament at the end of February.
By Leah Veldhuisen
Over the summer, CC student Geoffrey Hartley ’19 immersed himself in a program at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College in a way few students get to experience. Hartley filmed a documentary about the FAC’s Military Artistic Healing program, a program that currently has little student involvement. As a part of CC’s summer course the Colorado Documentary Project, a class conceived and taught by professors Dylan Nelson and Clay Haskell, Hartley learned about the documentary genre and how to film documentaries, and was able to make his own movie.
The course is a collaboration between CC’s Film and Media Studies program, Rocky Mountain PBS, and other Colorado organizations, and allowed students to do an externship with a local organization during the course. Hartley explains “after the week-long externship, everyone comes back to class and pitches an idea for a documentary inspired by our experiences.” Each student presented an idea to Rocky Mountain PBS, and then spent the rest of the class organizing, shooting, and editing a documentary. Hartley spent time at the Bemis School of Art and that’s where he learned about instructor Kim Nguyen’s art class for military veterans. “After hearing about the work that Nguyen was doing to provide a creative outlet for military veterans to express themselves and work through their PTSD, I knew that this was a story I wanted to share in my documentary,” Hartley says.
Because he saw art as a frequently overlooked therapy, Hartley says it was particularly important to portray it in film. He tried to highlight the positive impact painting has had on the lives of many Colorado Springs veterans, and the simplicity of art as therapy. Working on this project had a strong impact on Hartley. “I think the most important thing I learned from working with the Military Artistic Healing program,” he explains, “is how art works for each person differently. Everyone can find comfort, safety, or understanding through art, but it truly is an individualized experience and the meaning of art only exists through the individual.” While his documentary was about painting, Hartley also notes that “poetry, film, music, or countless other art forms can provide an outlet that might really help work through troubling issues.”
In addition to learning about this special program at the FAC, Hartley also gained a strong background in documentary filmmaking. All that he learned, Hartley feels, will be essential to pursuing a career in the film industry. View the full documentary, “Just Paint.“
The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center has been named the Best Gallery and Museum in Colorado, and one of the top 25 in the country by board of the American Art Awards.
Additionally, Don Coen’s exhibit of migrant workers, now on display at the museum and recently included in a Colorado College story, was featured April 8 on NBC Nightly News in a segment called “An Artist Paints the Nation’s Forgotten Migrants, One Canvas at a Time.”
Colorado College and the FAC are in the process of an historic alliance. The agreement between the two institutions calls for a four-year transition period to allow for careful planning and integration. The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center will retain its current name until July 1 of this year, when it will become known as the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.
Maggie Mehlman ’19, Sophia Pray ’19, and Jilly Gibbs ’20 sit in front of a large painting of a man and woman with boxes of strawberries and fields in the distance, part of artist Don Coen’s visiting migrant series on display at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Pray tells a group of fourth- and fifth-graders from nearby Taylor Elementary School that she likes the painting because it reminds her of California, where she is from.
“That’s good,” Mehlman says of Pray’s explanation as to why she likes the painting. “She didn’t just say ‘I like it’ or ‘it makes me happy,’ but told us why. She provided evidence for her personal connection to the art.”
David Figel ’20, Ana Ortiz-Mejias ’19, and Emily Gardner ’19 tell the students to look at various paintings in the museum, asking them to find one they make a connection with. Prompts for connections include: Which piece of art reminds you of yourself? Someone you know? A place you have been? A time when you felt a strong emotion?
Students put their hand on their head when they find a piece of art they connect to, then share their connections with their classmates. As they sit in a circle on the museum floor, Figel asks them what they learned.
“We learn more about each other when we share connections,” one student replies.
“You can always learn something new about somebody,” says another.
The 13 Colorado College students working with the elementary-school children are in Associate Chair and Lecturer in Education Kris Stanec’s Power of the Arts course, one of CC’s community-based-learning classes. Intertwined with the class was a project called “Multiple Narratives,” which fosters engagement with art through a writing curriculum that begins with students making connections between themselves and a piece of art.
The project also seeks to validate and support individual’s various narratives and relationships to art. “My approach challenges the common dominant narrative of museum education, in which the museum has the knowledge and visitors come to listen.” Stanec says.
Stanec is the Spring 2017 Mellon Faculty Fellow for the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Museum. The fellowship supports Stanec’s work developing a curriculum to bring together CC students, Colorado Springs School District 11 teachers and students, and FAC docents with the museum’s collections. The Mellon grant supports the development of the Colorado College and Fine Arts Center alliance, and provides funding for supplies such as art cards, schools’ transportation and museum admissions, and pays for the near para-professional assistance of Paige Harari ’17, who has worked closely with Stanec on the project.
Every day during the first two weeks of Block 6, Stanec’s class visited Taylor Elementary (full name: Alice Bemis Taylor Elementary, a serendipitous tie-in with the Fine Arts Center), working with the students in a series of writer workshops. There they used art cards, or photographs, of pieces in the FAC’s permanent collection as writing prompts, engaging students with the art before they even entered the museum. The connections the students made with the artwork generated ideas, or “seeds” for their narrative pieces.
In his combined class fourth- and fifth-grade class at Taylor Elementary, Kyle Gilliam stresses the importance of taking a seed and growing it into a small moment, or snapshot. Working with the children, CC students taking Stanec’s class remind them to use emotion, the five senses, similes, and metaphors in their writing. The result: One girl selects a photo of a Western scene and writes, “Bang, bang! I hear the sounds of gunshots in my ears. Popcorn bursts with flavor inside my mouth.” She explains that the painting reminds her of watching Western movies with her grandmother.
After the two weeks with the CC class, Gilliam says improvement in his students’ writing was clearly evident. “Students went from a few sentences, mostly ‘telling’ about the art card, then transformed into ‘showing’ a wonderfully written narrative,” he says. Asked who benefits most from the CC-Taylor Elementary partnership, Gilliam says he sees it as a win-win for everyone. “I know that our young students benefit from the opportunity to interact with positive role models. Furthermore, this collaboration forms a connection between two learning communities that produces long-lasting benefits for all involved.”
The CC course culminated with a visit to the Fine Arts Center by the children, many of whom had never been there. Prior to the big day, FAC docents joined the CC education course, discussing research on how people learn in informal contexts. The CC students and museum docents used education theory to co-create museum experiences that would meet the goals of both elementary school teachers and museum educators. Understanding how people learn enacted transformation that motivated viewers to look longer at the art.
“I was left speechless as I watched the students interact with art in a way that I’ve never seen before,” says Gilliam. “They were fully engaged and thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and appreciated art in a new way.”
A highlight of the aptly named “Multiple Narratives” project was the elementary author-sharing portion of the venture, which took place at the FAC.
The Taylor Elementary students had been revising and rehearsing their art-inspired narratives based on the FAC art cards for two weeks. During their visit to the Fine Arts Center, Weston Taylor and Chris Bittner of CC’s ITS: Innovative Technology staff videoed each child as they read their narrative about their connection to a piece of art. The videos will preserve the students’ narratives and be available for other museum visitors to experience through a free augmented-reality app, Aurasma.
Aurasma will allow the students to view themselves reading their narratives in front of the actual piece of art that inspired it. And, even more importantly, they can share their experience with their family, as each student received a free family pass to the Fine Arts Center. Through the app, other visitors can use the students’ stories as models for finding their own connections to the artwork, Stanec says.
“My hope is that the elementary students’ videos as well as the CC students’ augmented reality ‘auras’ created as assignments in the class are accessible to museum visitors in the future, as well as expanded upon by community members, artists, and museum educators for additional exhibits,” she says. “If this technology and the writers’ workshop curriculum with art cards used in this Mellon-funded pilot program become a sustainable part of the FAC, we can continue to work toward the co-creation of multiple narratives beyond this project.”
The first major phase in the strategic planning process undertaken by Colorado College and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center has wrapped up, with nearly 1,600 people participating in the listening and information gathering process.
Four community listening sessions were held — two at Colorado College and two at the Fine Arts Center — as well as a series of small-group focus sessions and large group discussions, in order to seek input from various community constituents regarding the re-envisioning and redefining of CC and the FAC’s role in the arts in the region. In addition, more than 800 comments have been recorded from the listening sessions, comment cards, and online comment forms.
“I am so pleased with the number of community members who have participated in this process, and grateful for the care and thought that were captured in their comments. This input gives everyone involved in planning an excellent foundation for moving forward,” says Colorado College President Jill Tiefenthaler.
“We’re encouraged by the outpouring of thoughtful input from the community into this important process,” says Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center CEO David Dahlin. “The value of the community’s perspectives can’t be overstated as our mission continues to be primarily to the community at large. Hearing from so many what they value about the FAC and what they hope for the future will inform this next phase as we begin to develop programmatic directions that integrate the needs and hopes of both the CC community and the Colorado Springs community.”
The community comments are now being compiled, reviewed, and considered in the next phase of the strategic planning process. The subcommittees are reviewing the emerging themes for each of the Fine Arts Center’s three program areas (click on links to see the emerging themes in each area: museum, Bemis School of Art, and performing arts) and are beginning to draft program planning.
The community comments and feedback reveal several overlapping themes in the various subcommittees’ work. These include:
- Using the unique opportunities presented by the CC-FAC alliance to serve as a bridge to and between various communities
- Increasing access to and engagement with broader communities
- Preserving and enhancing programming for new and existing communities
- Leveraging resources and proximity of programs between CC and the FAC
On Feb. 1, 2017, the draft program plans will be shared with the broader community. From there, the timeline is as follows:
- March 15, 2017: Subcommittees submit final program plans to the Strategic Planning Committee
- April 2017: Strategic Planning Committee shares the draft comprehensive plan with the broader community
- May 1, 2017: Strategic Planning Committee submits the final comprehensive plan to the Strategic Plan Oversight Committee
- On or before June 30, 2017: Strategic Plan Oversight Committee approves the plan
More information is available at https://www.coloradocollege.edu/csfac/
Colorado Springs Independent covers announcement of grants from three foundations.