Montana Bass ’18 Teaching, Fundraising in Dakar, Senegal
Montana Bass ’18 and Toni Burdick, a student at Hamilton College, have joined forces while studying abroad in Senegal. The students have launched a fundraising campaign to bring sanitary equipment and running water to Ker Xaleyi, a primary school in Guinaw Rails Sud, Pikine, Dakar, where both students are intern teachers this semester.
Pikine resident Abdoulaye Ba founded Ker Xaleyi in 2012 to combat poverty and illiteracy. Many Pikine students cannot afford public schools and those that do face inadequate learning conditions. Many public schools in Pikine average 90 students per classroom and 1,000 students per bathroom. Of those students, 56 percent do not graduate elementary school.
For half the price of public schools, Ker Xaleyi school offers a safe place for students to gain a bilingual education from Senegalese volunteer teachers and international interns such as Bass and Burdick, who are working with more than 150 students. Unfortunately, the school currently lacks funding for basic resources. Bass invites the CC community to help them raise funds that will bring two toilets and running water to Ker Xaleyi in the Spring 2017, ensuring safer, more structured school days.
By Leah Veldhuisen ’19
On Saturday, Nov. 5, just days before the 2016 presidential election, the CC departments of music, theatre, and political science, as well as Innovation at CC, will put on “Purple State, Purple Haze.” The event is a live combination of music, drama, and news clips that highlight stories from throughout the 2016 presidential primary campaign trail from across the country.
The CC constituents are partnering with New York musical theatre composer Michael Friedman and have been working on the event since January. According to Andy Post ’16, paraprofessional for Innovation at CC, Friedman traveled the country during the presidential primary elections, interviewing people and creating songs using the exact transcript of their stories. The Department of Music selected four students to work with Friedman to collect additional interviews to feature in “Purple State, Purple Haze.” As part of the process of developing the performance, Post and Ben Pitta ’18 traveled to New Orleans to collect more interviews from people living and working in the Ninth Ward.
The goal of the event is to highlight themes found throughout the interviews. Post says the themes range from memories of 9/11 and how it changed the national discourse, to Trump supporters’ celebration of his businessman acumen contrasted with a disillusionment with corporate America, to discussions of race in New Orleans. Post says the goal of the performance is “to be satirical, honest and provocative,” and to “delve into real people’s relationships with the political climate.” Instead of repeating the scandals and clichés of mainstream media, this event encourages people to ask: “how did we get here?” on issues like immigration, race relations, and other important current issues. Along with a live band, actors on stage will perform a script comprised of the interviews documented throughout the campaign season. It will tell an intriguing story of the country’s intricate political climate during the exhausting run up to election day.
With the performance only three days before the 2016 presidential election, its relevance is obvious. The show attempts to “imitate, satirize, and make sense of the wilderness of the media coverage and anxiety” that come with it, says Post. It is an attempt “to be jarring and raw” and make people laugh, as well as question their political beliefs and opinions. You’re invited to “Purple State, Purple Haze: A Political Performance,” Saturday, Nov. 5, at 7 p.m. in Kathryn Mohrman Theatre.
By James Rajasingh ’17, student summer researcher for Innovation at CC, and Walt Hecox, professor emeritus of economics and environmental program
Why even ask this question of CC students? Consistently, more than 75 percent say they are super-oriented toward the outdoors, which is part of what attracted them to choose CC in the first place, and it’s where they spend much of their spare time and block breaks.
But widening the view, “millennials” are sometimes categorized in ways that question their orientation to the outdoors. Take, for instance, this statement made by Jonathan Jarvis, director of the U.S. National Park Service: “Young people are more separated from the natural world than perhaps any generation before them.” Or consider this comment from Bozeman-based writer Todd Wilkinson: “Sentiment persists that younger recreationists, who tend to like things faster and steeper than their elders do, don’t care about the land the way their backpacking forebears did.”
So what do millennials in the Pikes Peak region have to say on the issue? Over the summer, Innovation at CC partnered with El Pomar Foundation’s Pikes Peak Recreation and Tourism Heritage Series to carry out a survey of outdoor leisure and recreation engagement. Survey results were then used to inform and guide a brainstorming session.
About 150 people, mostly young professionals, attended the “Mountains Matter to Millennials,” public session held this fall by the Pikes Peak Recreation and Tourism Heritage Series. Attendees participated in an energetic question-and-answer portion of the program, moving from table to table, tackling a variety of questions pertaining to outdoor recreation.
Information from the survey and public listening session indicates that millennials, at least in the Pikes Peak region, value the outdoors for leisure and recreation, and they are engaged in volunteering to help manage and protect the region’s valuable mountain backdrop and open spaces.
Millennials who filled out the survey ranked Colorado Springs top among Front Range cities for desirability of living, ranking the Springs higher than Fort Collins, Boulder, Denver, and Pueblo, indicating that young professionals who live here seem to be enjoying their lifestyle.
What are the Pikes Peak region’s greatest strengths? According to the survey, participants touted the natural surroundings. For example, one millennial wrote that the region serves as “the gateway to all outdoor recreation.” The 18-33 year olds made up a quarter of survey respondents and they were quite vocal about how nature enriches life in Colorado Springs. Millennials, along with all age groups, rated accessibility to the outdoors as the number one feature of the region. Ironically, young people also ranked accessibility as the region’s greatest challenge, summarized by one respondent as ‘difficulty accessing Pikes Peak.’ Older survey respondents identified growth management and infrastructure as more critical.
What would help millennials become more involved in the outdoors? A more coordinated avenue of information surfaced as the top answer, or perhaps a centralized website or database with regularly updated information to serve both locals and visitors. Other ideas included an annual community festival focusing on leisure and recreation; using digital apps, such as Virtual Storytelling and Google Earth Backpack, to generate interest; and employing social media, like Snapchat and Instagram to engage millennials with a sense of ownership.
The need for sustainable funding sources is a concern that crosses generational lines, as does the importance of coordinating outdoor and leisure interests. As for what would bring more millennials to the region, the dialogue focused on creating a fun, sustainable youth culture, that encourages living downtown by adding amenities such as grocery stores and more diverse night life. Participants also suggested providing incentives for businesses that support a millennial workforce, and shifting the narrative from “no opportunities” to “many opportunities,” for young professionals.
This information about the millennial demographic in the Pikes Peak region and their engagement with the outdoors will advance plans to identify how Colorado’s natural assets can be leveraged to make this a region for young leaders to work, play, and stay. Continued CC student involvement can bring energy and innovative ideas to a region made special across generations and decades. If you are interested in opportunities to help our Pikes Peak “backyard,” contact the authors.
CC faculty and staff are invited to participate in the Friends of CC program during Fall, Winter and/or Spring breaks during the academic year. The Friends of CC program is a host offering for students whose families reside 100 miles or more from Colorado Springs, or plan to stay on campus during the break(s). The program is coordinated by CC’s Butler Center.
If you’re interested in spending time with CC students, there are a number of days available to do so this academic year. These days are: Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 24, during CC’s Fall Break; any day between Friday, Dec. 23 and New Year’s Day Sunday, Jan. 1, during CC’s Winter Break; or any day between Thursday, March 16, and Saturday, March 25, during CC’s Spring Break.
The Butler Center will coordinate with international students and others who plan to stay on campus during a break period. The Butler Center will connect them with faculty and staff who’ve expressed interest in hosting and spending time with students.
If you have already established a connection with a student, you are welcome to continue that relationship and you’re invited to share that information with the Butler Center to include your “host” status in the Friends of CC program.
It is important for CC to consider background checks of host families, and because CC faculty and staff had a background check before being hired, this program is a cost-effective way to offer opportunities for students to feel connected to adults in a familial way.
To participate in the program during Fall Break, please contact Pearl Leonard-Rock by Monday, Oct. 24, by 4 p.m. If you would like to participate during Winter or Spring Break, respond no later than the first Monday of Block 4 or 6.
Thank you for helping support CC students!
As CC and the Fine Arts Center begin to join forces, planning for the CC-FAC alliance to get underway, both institutions gained new expertise, and four individuals from the Fine Arts Center are officially CC employees. A few weeks ago, we introduced you to two of them; this week get to know Michael Howell, registrar and collections manager at the Fine Arts Center.
Before his work at the FAC, Howell was director of the Freedman Gallery at Albright College in Pennsylvania where he also taught the modern and contemporary component of the art history program.
Howell says his role as FAC registrar and collections manager is challenging and stimulating as, “I get to work with all of the art and the legal component involved with art contracts. My favorite part is being back in an academic environment and working with students.”
As he recently told the Pikes Peak Bulletin, Howell is looking forward to expanding the FAC intern program he started five years ago, comprised mainly of CC students who will study contemporary museum theory. He will also continue a project he started with CC student Abby Stein ’15 to return Native American sacred and cultural objects to appropriate entities.
Howell is trained as a studio artist and holds a master’s degree from Cranbrook Academy of Art. He says he’s learned that his strengths are in facilitating the production and dissemination of art within a broader cultural context.
As for what he’s looking forward to as the CC-FAC alliance moves forward: “I am extremely excited to be involved with expanding the museum to incorporate a stronger and broader educational role.”
You can reach Howell at email@example.com or by visiting him at the Fine Arts Center.
By Alana Aamodt ’18
Hoff creates bags and accessories inspired by her years spent at sea and her upbringing on a Midwestern horse farm. Reclaimed sailcloth and vintage horse tack are brought together to create products that are not only sustainable but rich with character, evoking stories of their former lives.
Over the course of three days, Hoff helped students find inspiration from a multitude of recycled materials, turning them into structural forms and useful items. Materials included salvaged fabric, stone, metal, wood, bike tires, and cans as well as leather and sails provided by Hoff. After Hoff’s crash course in sewing and her creative advice, students produced backpacks, lampshades, seats, and shoes.
Colorado College helped Hoff get her start in design in more ways than one. An art major and outdoor enthusiast during her time as a student, Hoff received a Ritt Kellogg Expedition Grant for a multi-week sailing trip around Maine the summer after her junior year. The Ritt Kellogg Memorial Fund, created by the Kellogg family to honor their son Ritt, a CC alumnus who died in a mountain climbing accident, provides CC students money for thoroughly planned backcountry trips.
Hoff researched Ritt Kellogg’s life before applying for her grant and discovered that he was also an avid sailor. To learn more, she contacted an old friend of Kellogg’s who worked for Outward Bound’s sailing program in Maine, beginning a friendship that eventually procured her a job. After her expedition and later, after graduation, she returned to Maine to work as a sailing instructor for Outward Bound.
Over the course of four years, Hoff lived and worked on 30-foot open sailboats, teaching sailing for weeks straight. She recounts having to sleep like sardines in the boat next to ten students, stepping onto land very occasionally. To conserve space and bring a personal touch onboard, she began crafting journals and bags for her sailing journeys — things that were small and durable.
Starting to tire of constant life on the water, Hoff thought to sell the journals and bags made from scraps of paper and old sails to shops in Maine. “This was kind of a revelation,” she says of her surprise of being able to just walk into a shop and sell her work, “I realized this could be a viable job.”
At one point, Hoff’s mom sent her some old horse tack (leather used in horse equipment) from their farm in Illinois thinking she might be able to use it. This, combined with the sailcloth, evolved into the basis of her current bag designs. Selling to small shops in Maine allowed Hoff to eventually show her work at a trade show. Consequently, orders came in and she moved to New York City, becoming a one-woman designer and producer of bags. “I didn’t have a studio,” Hoff tells, “I was driving a launch boat on the Hudson and making bags on the floor of my apartment in Brooklyn on the side.”
After about a year, Hoff moved to San Francisco, where she currently resides, and has had no trouble finding horse tack and sails to recycle. She is in the process of opening a shop and continues to experiment with sailcloth. Versatile and durable, she has used it for wall dividers, upholstery, drapery, and outdoor furniture.
Although inexpensive, recycled materials present other challenges, says Hoff — they’re inconsistent, requires a lot of cleaning, and their supply is not guaranteed. However challenging, she is drawn to the material itself and keeps with it because it’s sustainable and possesses other less tangible qualities: “It has stories to tell, it has age, it has character.”
Hoff will be running another recycling workshop during the Block 6 Design Workshop class. The class, taught by Carl Reed, professor emeritus of art, will work with CC’s student-led Integrative Design Group and Hoff to create recycled items for the Wellness Resource Center. Anything from window coverings to lamps to chairs may be created, bringing student-made character and comfort to this vital facility on campus.
You can check out Hoff’s work on her website.
Leah Veldhuisen ’19
Until this year, Colorado College has not had a spoken word poetry group. Now, thanks to the inspiration of Eliza Mott ’16 and Hollis Schmidt ’17, CC has its own troupe for spoken word. In its inaugural year, SpeakEasy was recently awarded “Excellence in Poetry Programming” by the Pikes Peak Arts Council, granting the group an honorary membership within the council and official recognition within the Colorado Springs art community, an accolade featured recently by the Catalyst.
Mott and Schmidt began the group in Fall 2016, but both had been thinking about it long before then. As Schmidt, the vice president of the group, SpeakEasy, says, the community of spoken word “just didn’t exist at CC. There were a few workshops for poetry, but nothing like slam poetry or spoken word.” For Mott, SpeakEasy’s president, her inspiration to start the group came last year, when Yolany Gonell, director of residential life and campus activities, began the “I am” poetry performance. Mott says that “the impact of that performance on myself, the other performers, and the students who watched, was incredible.” Mott says she wanted to continue to share the experience of spoken word with others and, while performing at other open mic events, noticed that there were other talented poets at CC. Schmidt and Mott recognized the lack of “space for these poets to gather” on CC’s campus.
With these ideas in mind, Mott began collaborating with Gonell and Schmidt, and SpeakEasy began to come together. Both students had their own visions for the group, but at the core, their goal was to create a place for students to come together to write and perform poetry that explores interesting and sometimes difficult topics. As a creative writing major with an emphasis on poetry, Schmidt says she hopes to provide a community “outside of the academic classroom where students can be creative and also be held accountable for continuing to write.” Mott says her goal for the group is to “create spoken word poetry and art that addresses issues of identity and personhood” and to “put on performances with our troupe that create conversation regarding these issues.” Mott also emphasizes her goal to explore powerful issues and allow people to share their own story though poetry.
SpeakEasy’s purpose has resonated with many CC students; after holding tryouts on campus, the troupe already has 18 members. Their first official performance is this Sunday, Oct. 16, at 7 p.m. in the screening room at Cornerstone Arts Center.
Colorado Springs Independent covers announcement of grants from three foundations.
The Catalyst sat down with Joy Armstrong, curator at the Fine Arts Center, for a feature article in the latest issue.
Check out an interview with Scott Levy, producing artistic director at the Fine Arts Center. He talks with “Theater Colorado Springs” about the CC-FAC Alliance.