By Alana Aamodt ’18
Courtney Blackmer ’16 synthesized her interest in film and Southwest studies for her 2016 thesis documentary “The Confluence,” which has been shown at venues across the Southwest and has been invited to screen at the Grand Canyon Youth Film Festival. This past fall, Robert Redford — actor, director, producer, environmentalist, and the founder of the Sundance Institute — joined the project as the executive producer, furthering the short film’s acclaim.
The film centers on the Navajo people local to the Grand Canyon area and the proposed Escalade Development, which would allow a hotel, RV center, restaurant, and other resort attractions to be built on the rim of the canyon, directly above the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado Rivers. Even more invasive, the plan includes a 1.4-mile tramway that would shuttle thousands of visitors a day to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, to where the rivers join. This area is considered sacred to numerous Native American peoples, including Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni, and while proponents of the development say this will stimulate the local economy, many see it as desecration of a sacred site.
The film features members of the Navajo community as they speak about their lives and tell stories of their origin, many of which focus on the confluence, where legend says the Navajo people first came from. By combining these personal and honest conversations with striking shots of the Grand Canyon area and community around it, the film “explores how the physical landscapes of the Grand Canyon shape the cultural, emotional and spiritual landscapes of the Navajo people who inhabit it,” describes Blackmer.
“I am deeply concerned by the challenges facing native communities and I wanted to find a way to be an ally to them,” Blackmer says of her inspiration to start this film, “I am also intrigued and inspired by the wealth of land-based knowledge in native traditions. I saw this as an opportunity to learn from the Navajo people about land stewardship, environmental activism and the spiritual significance of the natural world.” Blackmer’s upbringing in Colorado helped fuel her film as well; by “growing up rafting and kayaking on the Colorado River, I have a deep love and respect for this river which has shaped my experience of myself and my world. In this way, my characters and I share the understanding that places make us who we are,” she says.
Blackmer, who majored in film and media studies and minored in Southwest studies at CC, recognizes that her film would not be what it is without the help of several people. “I have been collaborating from the very start with my friend from CC, Isaac Salay ’16, who grew up on the Navajo Nation. He had vital connections to the Navajo community and was a fantastic cultural liaison.” In addition, she had the help of two experienced cinematographers, Isaiah Branch-Boyle and Adam Amir, who devoted a month of their time to helping her shoot striking footage and develop the story further.
Redford joined Blackmer’s team in the fall and has encouraged her to make further edits; they have also begun to seek a larger audience for the film.
“Our shared interests in documentary filmmaking, environmental activism, and advocating for the rights of native peoples make this an excellent collaboration; I feel very lucky,” she says of the opportunity to work with Redford.
Finally, and most central to the film, is the Save the Confluence organization, which supplied the main characters of the film — the Navajo activists who are fighting for preservation. Blackmer acknowledges the importance of their involvement, saying “they took a risk and decided to trust me with their stories. This was a tremendous honor and a responsibility that I took very seriously.”
The film is receiving acclaim throughout the Southwest and has recently been invited to screen at Northern Arizona University and Prescott College. It has also been invited for submission to a number of other film festivals, including the Durango Film Festival, Reel Paddling Film Festival, and Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival. “A story isn’t worth much if there is nobody there to listen to it, so I feel very lucky and honored that my film is reaching so many people,” Blackmer says. “The most important audience to reach is the Navajo audience, because this is their story and they are the ones who get to decide whether or not this development moves forward.”
By Leah Veldhuisen ’19
Protests on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota made national news for months as members of the Sioux tribe, as well as many other tribes and non-Native American people, protested the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
CC students were among the thousands who participated in the protests. A number of native students, as well as the Native American Student Union, or NASU, drove to North Dakota during the first block break to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux.
According to Zunneh-Bah Martin ’19, the chair of NASU, the goal of the trip was “to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and to help in any way that we could while we were there in person.” The students brought winter clothes, food, and other necessary items to the camp in Standing Rock, after collecting donations. For Martin, the impact of the trip was substantial. She says that her time in Standing Rock made her want to extend her visit, because she felt her presence there could make a difference. Martin says her own experience growing up on the reservation of the Diné/Navajo people shaped her experience at the protest.
“I could relate to what the Standing Rock Lakota people were going through,” she says. “I know what it feels like to be treated as the minority of the minorities and as a second-class citizen as indigenous people.” Martin also returned to Standing Rock over Fall Break with her family, as they view the Thanksgiving holiday as a “time to educate others as to why this is not a holiday that should be celebrated.”
On Dec. 4, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it was denying a permit for construction of a key section of the pipeline, which is a major victory for the people of Standing Rock and other indigenous people around the country who are involved in the protest. They say the pipeline would destroy sacred lands for the Standing Rock Sioux, as well as greatly restrict their water access. The protest has also sparked controversy over Native American rights to their own land.
Would you like to meet brand new CC staff members, share all of your favorite parts of CC, and build relationships across campus? That’s what members of the inaugural class of CC ambassadors have been doing over the past year.
“I want them to know immediately that they are welcomed into the college and that they have someone they can turn to about the culture of the campus, strategies for communicating, cool hangouts, and where to find some great places to eat,” says Lyrae Williams, associate vice president for institutional planning and effectiveness, who served as one of the college’s first ambassadors this year.
The goal of the program is to provide a talented CC resource to new staff that can answer questions about CC, foster connections across campus, and assist the new employee in achieving performance excellence. It’s an important resource that doesn’t work without your help! For the 2015-16 academic year, 18 individuals accepted the role of CC ambassador.
“I choose to be part of the program because I believe it is important for our community to embrace new colleagues beyond just onboarding them into their new roles,” says Williams. “These colleagues bring new perspectives and experiences, and it is important that they be given the opportunity to meet our community beyond their own departments and for our community to meet them. The rhythms of the block spill over into all parts of the college, and it is so easy to get caught up in our own sphere of work that we forget to commune with our colleagues. This program provides one avenue for colleagues from different areas of the college to meet, get to know each other, and learn a little bit about each area of the college.”
Jim Burke recently joined CC as the director of Summer Session and says the CC ambassador program helped him feel connected right away. “One of the largest challenges when I joined CC was quickly meeting the large number of stakeholders Summer Session has across campus,” he says. “Luckily, I was paired with an ambassador, Lyrae Williams, who generously shared her contacts across campus, helped me set up introductory meetings, and invited me to events around campus where she would introduce me to faculty and staff in a relaxed and fun setting.”
It’s a program that Burke says not only allows the ambassadors to give back to new employees, but that also inspires the participants to want to do the same.
“The generosity of time and willingness to share connections has been so rewarding,” Burke says. “At every faculty luncheon, or department event, or In the Loop, Lyrae finds me, checks in on how I’m doing at work and in life, and invariably connects me with someone new. Moving to a new school in a new city, this welcoming gesture is extremely meaningful and makes me want to get involved in the ambassador program and pay Lyrae’s generosity forward to any new faculty/staff.”
The Office of Human Resources is looking to grow the program and is accepting submissions and nominations for the 2016-17 class of CC ambassadors. To become a CC ambassador, send an email to Paul Schilli, senior talent acquisition manager, stating why you would make a great CC ambassador. To nominate a CC ambassador, send an email to Paul Schilli with the employee’s name and why they would make a great CC ambassador. Learn more about the program.
By Alana Aamodt ’18
Dana Cronin ’17, has spent a large portion of her CC career interning with 91.5 KRCC , Colorado College’s NPR-member station. From pitching stories to interviewing sources, Cronin’s internship has introduced her to all aspects of radio, giving her the opportunity to write, record, and produce her stories.
“Throughout my two and a half years at 91.5 KRCC, I’ve learned so much about how to be a good journalist,” Cronin says of her internship, “I’ve learned how to write meaningful and thorough stories about a huge variety of topics. I’ve also developed my radio voice, which is a lot harder than it sounds!” She also says she’s learned a lot about the community and broader listening area through “interviewing people, attending local meetings, and reaching out to the general community 91.5 KRCC serves,” in order to create relevant pieces.
One of her latest stories even took her to the top of some of Colorado’s highest peaks, where she learned about the labor-intensive maintenance of the trails up the state’s 14,000-foot mountains and the hardworking people who work at such high altitudes. Cronin says many people, herself included at first, “don’t realize the amount of time, energy, and money that goes into maintaining Colorado’s high peaks,” making this an important story to tell.
Besides the actual labor of hiking the mountain, Cronin says the hardest part about writing the story was editing down the information, interviews, and sound bites. “I started with about five hours of interviews and recordings, and the story ended up being five minutes long,” describes Cronin. Finding herself personally attached to many of the sources, this was no easy task.
91.5 KRCC “Morning Edition” host and managing editor, and Cronin’s supervisor, Andrea Chalfin, describes the hard work Cronin’s put in. “I’ve worked with Dana in the 91.5 KRCC newsroom for the majority of her college career, and I’m really proud of the work she’s done for us. Aside from literally climbing a couple of mountains for this piece, she was able to pull the story together fairly easily. It’s a testament to her work ethic and experience at Colorado College and in the newsroom.”
Cronin hopes to continue in radio and will be applying for radio internships for next year. Read or listen to Cronin’s fourteener piece or take a look at some of her other work on the 91.5 KRCC website.
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/
By Alana Aamodt ’18
The open skies and towering mountains around Colorado Springs have long inspired artists — Katharine Lee Bates, while working at CC, found inspiration from them to create her famous poem, “America the Beautiful,” for example. The new CC logo, introduced in January, takes the same inspiration, incorporating these mountains and clear skies into its design.
From this logo, Carlton Gamer, professor emeritus of music, found his own inspiration for a new musical composition, which will be performed by the CC Concert Band on Dec. 6, at 7:30 p.m. in Packard Performance Hall.
Gamer, a professor at CC from 1954-1994, taught a vast array of music courses as well as interdisciplinary courses ranging from Asian studies to history. He has composed more than 70 pieces that have been played all over the world. Still connected to the CC community, Gamer’s new piece “Mountains and Skies: A CC Fanfare” attempts to depict CC’s logo through music.
Gamer interpreted the two “C’s” on the logo as musical pitches. “It has two mountains,” he explains, “a big one and a little one, that can be conveyed in musical terms, the big ones by layers of low brass instruments, the little one by layers of low woodwind instruments. It has a clear background, the sky, which can be suggested by lighter layers of higher-pitched woodwind instruments.”
The buildup of a series of chords creates the “mountains,” trumpets cut across the piece, playing “C, C,” and the flares of the high woodwinds are reminiscent of the sharp diagonals of the logo. The effect is “chord-mountains” that rise and fall, eventually climaxing: “Finally, a big chord built on C arrives, and the mountains that form on this chord, the flares in the woodwinds, and a final flourish in the trumpets create the climax of the piece,” Gamer says.
Gamer took care in making his work both technically challenging and accessible for CC student musicians. He hopes that this balance, in combination with the piece’s deep connection to CC, will make it enjoyable to play and listen to, possibly becoming “a staple of the CC Concert Band repertoire.”
Come hear Gamer’s new work during the Colorado College Concert Band performance, “The American Experience,” directed by Jeremy Van Hoy and featuring rock, jazz, and music inspired by World War II Tuesday, Dec. 6, 7:30-9 p.m. in Packard Performance Hall.
CC’s Fall Break began this week with the conclusion of Block 3 and officially runs through Sunday, Nov. 27. The break provides students a respite from classes and an opportunity to spend time on campus or at home or to take advantage of opportunities for trips, service work, or CC-sponsored programs.
The Outdoor Recreation Committee sponsors free BreakOut trips during weekends, block breaks, and Spring Break. BreakOut trips are student-led and focus on community service. This year, the trips are also being offered during Fall Break. Students are visiting Mission: Wolf, a nonprofit wolf sanctuary in Westcliffe, Colorado, during the first four days of the break. The sanctuary cares for captive wolves and educates people on the danger of keeping wolves as pets. Students on the trip will help with daily tasks, such as feeding the wolves and maintaining the sanctuary.
Another trip is going to Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort for camping and hiking Nov. 21-22. A third takes place at the end of the break, Nov. 25-27, and is going to the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness. Sign up on Summit.
Also happening over Fall Break: Two home hockey games, one against University of Wisconsin, Friday, Nov. 25, at 7:37 p.m., and against the U.S. Air Force Academy Saturday, Nov. 26, at 6:07 p.m. Both are at the Broadmoor World Arena.
Additionally, these things may be helpful as you are supporting students and answering questions about the Fall Break schedule and resources.
Housing is available for students who have requested accommodations. Students who have obligations with the college, are members of an athletics team in season, or who have a special circumstance that may warrant “break stay approval” were invited to request accommodations from their residential life coordinator earlier this month.
Bon Appetit food service locations Benji’s, The Preserve, Local Goods, and Chas Coffee will be closed Nov. 17-27. Rastall will have limited service Nov. 17-22, serving lunch only during the weekdays and closed Nov. 19, 20, and 23-26. Rastall will open on Sunday, Nov. 27, at 5 p.m. Students staying on campus can use their Tiger Bucks to order microwavable pack-out meals for breakfast, lunch, or dinner through Bon Appetit.
The CC Thanksgiving Luncheon takes place Thursday, Nov. 24, 12:30-2 p.m. in Bemis Great Hall. Faculty and staff are also welcome to participate. This event is free and does not require students to use their meal plan. All are welcome; no RSVP needed.
Throughout Fall Break, shuttle service to Walmart will be available to students approved for Fall Break housing. Contact Campus Safety: (719) 389-6707. Campus Safety can also assist with student transportation due to unexpected injuries or illness.
Students who have been approved for housing over the break will receive additional information about on-campus programs and free trips off-campus directly via email.
Health and Safety
Residential life coordinators and resident assistants will remain in some halls and are accessible for all students. Students staying on campus will receive detailed information via email.
Campus Safety non-emergency number: (719) 389-6707
Campus Safety emergency number: (719) 389-6911
Over Fall Break, the Office of Residential Life and Campus Activities will continue to offer support to students and opportunities for engagement and community. The goal is to ensure that students remaining on campus have a safe and enjoyable Fall Break.
For further information, please contact Yolany Gonell, director of residential life and campus activities, email@example.com or Rochelle Mason, senior associate dean of students, firstname.lastname@example.org
By Laurie Laker ’12
Colorado College’s IDEA Space, the InterDisciplinary Experimental Arts Space, is currently hosting an exhibition titled “Incarceration Nation.”
“It addresses a crucial topic in the American landscape,” says Briget Heidmous, assistant curator of the IDEA Space.
“The mass incarceration of human beings is an epidemic in this country,” explained Heidmous. “Currently, there are 2.3 million people being held in a system that is broken, serving up mandatory minimums, often for profit.”
The exhibition, consisting of a series of showings and events across campus, and – as Heidmous says, “offers a visual art experience that serves as a platform to generate conversation surrounding issues of mass imprisonment, reform, and the human experience.”
The opening reception and panel discussion took place in late October, and was well-attended by students, faculty, staff, and local community members. The panel featured exhibited artists Michelle Handleman and Jessie Krimes, visiting performer Yannis Simonides, activist Jean Casella, CC faculty members Jane Murphy and Carol Neel, and CC student and researcher Madeleine Engel ’18.
Casella, the director of the solitary confinement watchdog project Solitary Watch, opened the panel by saying that “art is always about our common humanity, so fighting any form of injustice with it is brilliant.” It was a sentiment shared by all on the panel, including formerly incarcerated artist Jesse Krimes.
“Work, particularly my art, served as a way to keep my sanity, but also as an act of resistance,” says Krimes. Krimes’ featured work, a massive patchwork of print-adorned prison bedsheets, “allows the facilitation of dialogue, and the artwork makes the dialogue easier to have because it’s a focal point,” he says.
Michelle Handelman’s work, first begun in 2009, uses the medium of video to investigate and express the prison experiences of queer inmates. Her piece, screening in a replica solitary confinement cell in the IDEA Space, is hard to watch – but that’s why it’s important.
“Solitary is only a punishment,” she says. “You lose track of yourself as a person after a while, it’s heartbreaking.”
“It’s often spun as protective custody for queer inmates, but it’s really an excuse for the system to stop treating them like any inmate at the facility. It marks them out as different, which is incredibly damaging emotionally and mentally.”
Converse to much of the discussion of contemporary criminal justice and imprisonment, the work that Greek performer Yannis Simonides does reawakens the punishments of the past. His international touring one-man production of Plato’s “The Apology,” presents a speech of legal self-defense against charges of impiety and corruption in 399 BC.
“What I always try to do, with every performance, is bring the audience into their ‘I’ mindset,” Simonides explains. “What that means is that I try to have them feel as if they’re on trial, as if they’re being forced to defend themselves in court. It’s discomforting, but it starts a dialogue and that’s what all good art should do.”
“In ancient Greece, prisons were not the places we know now. They weren’t barbaric. Socrates, for example, was held in a room with no doors or windows – fresh air could circulate, he had visitors at all times, and was free to move as he pleased. It was humane, incredibly.”
Continuing until December 17, the next events in the series are two events on First Monday, November 28, with a presentation and reception with photographer and activist Richard Ross, whose work deals with the placement and treatment of American youth in the penal system. On December 6, there’s a film screening and performance by Carolina Rubio MacWright, whose work explores the theft of freedom due to kidnapping, incarceration, or the denial of a safe and peaceful homeland.
Please contact the IDEA Space for any further information on these, or other exhibits and events.
By Leah Veldhuisen ’19
On Sunday, Nov. 13, the Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Institute will screen two films and host lunch with the filmmakers at Colorado College as part of the institute’s annual film festival. RMWFI annually puts on the Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival, which is the longest continuously running women’s film festival in North America. The goal of the festival is to promote films and filmmakers that portray the world from a female perspective, as well as support female filmmakers and encourage curiosity and diversity.
RMWFI has partnered with CC to bring two films to campus this Sunday for the student symposium exclusively for college students, and both will be followed by question and answer sessions with the filmmakers. The two films are “I, Destini” and “Newtown.” The screening of “I, Destini,” from directors Destini Riley and Nicholas Pilarski, is sponsored by CC’s Race, Ethnicity, and Migration Studies Program. The film is an animated, autobiographical documentary that focuses on the effects on young people of having a close family member or friend that is incarcerated. It covers the story of 13-year-old Destini Riley and her observations on race, class, media, and police in her town of Durham, North Carolina.
Claire Garcia, director of the Race, Ethnicity, and Migration Studies program, says she’s excited to have REMS sponsor the film and that it will promote awareness of diverse perspectives and life experiences. As Garcia explains, “there are many ways to theorize lived experience,” including art and film. “I, Destini,” portrays a “young woman using film to theorize her place in the world,” which Garcia says is important to discourse related to race, ethnicity, and migration outside the classroom.
“Newtown” from director Kim Snyder traces the aftermath of the worst mass shooting ot schoolchildren in American history, the traumatized community, and its new sense of purpose.
The event starts at 11 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 13, in Packard Hall. There is no admission fee, but students must RSVP on the RMWFI website.
Leah Veldhuisen ’19
Dwanna Robertson joined CC this year as an assistant professor in the Race, Ethnicity, and Migration Studies Program. Robertson has a Ph. D. in sociology from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and a graduate certificate in Native American Indian Studies. It’s an exciting time to join the department, as CC implemented a new Race, Ethnicity, and Migration Studies major for the 2016-17 academic year. Robertson took time to share some of her insights on CC, the REMS program, and the addition of a REMS major.
What made you choose to come to CC?
I was appointed to my previous position as the secretary of education for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation by Principal Chief George Tiger. A new principal chief took office in January 2016, and when another principal chief is elected, they appoint their own choices. It works the same way as on the national level. I was incredibly humbled and honored to serve my tribe within the areas of education and research. I had promised my mother that I would someday come back and work for my people, so working for the tribe was a fulfillment of my promise to her. But I am so happy to return to academia. I’ve always known that I was meant to teach, research, and write.
I decided to come to CC because of the intellectual vibrancy and commitment I saw modeled by the students, faculty, and administration during my first campus visit to CC, and that still holds true. In my classes, CC students think critically and creatively about complex social issues and engage in robust dialogue to find innovative ways to resist social injustice. The distinguished faculty at CC support one another intellectually, professionally, and personally – I’ve been on the receiving end of this dynamic so many times already. No place is perfect, obviously, but CC offers me the opportunity to work with committed, brilliant people toward the common goal of making the world a better place. What’s better than that?
What do you bring to CC?
I bring a fresh perspective and embodied understanding about indigenous knowledges and critical race scholarship. I also bring a passion for student-centered teaching and my classrooms are dynamic spaces of critical inquiry and challenging the status quo. I’m a multi-methods researcher, so students can feel comfortable working with me on their projects no matter what method they want to use. Most importantly, my presence at CC disrupts stereotypes and dispels myths about indigenous peoples. My success symbolizes what people from marginalized groups and impoverished communities can achieve; what teenaged mothers, first generation and/or nontraditional college students can do with the necessary support. The people who encouraged me and listened to me when I wanted to quit were always teachers. Teachers saved my life every single time with unconditional understanding, forthright correction, continuous forgiveness, and never-ending belief in me and my abilities. Finally, my presence on campus symbolizes the depth of CC’s commitment to diversity and equity.
What do you think starting the REMS major means for CC and its curriculum?
Everything we do in life, every social interaction, has raced and gendered undertones. A lack of diversity on college campuses speaks loudly about the sociohistorical foundations of this country, particularly in educational achievement, economic wellbeing, and media representation. The REMS major prepares students to engage critically with issues of race, ethnicity, and migration through interdisciplinary approaches that encourage robust dialogue and collaboration. This prepares students for their roles in creating equity in the multiracial, multiethnic, and multicultural world we live in.
What are you most excited about with the new major?
I am most excited about working with students who pursue the REMS major. Together, we will explore the social, historical, cultural, political, and economic consequences of social difference through respectful and rigorous intellectual inquiry and debate that produces serious and substantive change. Students will gain the knowledge, tools, and skills to deal with critical social issues that are intrinsically linked with social injustice, and specifically, with categories of race, ethnicity, and migration here in the United States and across the globe. Our students are key to making the world a better place and I get to be a part of that!