The CC Community Kitchen has changed and is now working with the community as The Soup Project at the Community Kitchen Club. The Soup Project offers students and guests a shared space to practice food justice and arts for social change each week. However, the change is not just in name.
Guests will be welcomed into Shove Memorial Chapel for a meal on the CC campus this Sunday, as they have each Sunday for more than 22 years. But the support CC provides for those in need now includes more educational programming, focus on nutrition, and structure.
An initial action plan had a Nov. 16 target date to move the kitchen out of the space at Shove Chapel. But through a collaborative effort, The Soup Project took shape and will now work to address the root causes of poverty, hunger, and homelessness through education, awareness, and advocacy.
A registration process for all participants, or members, of the Community Kitchen Club – all volunteers, students, and guests – began in mid-November. This provides accountability and empowers all to take ownership in solving these issues in the community. The format of the program has also changed; the focus now is on community learning, providing educational programming around art for social change, accompanying a nutritious meal. All participants will have to abide by a code of conduct; a community safety plan and training for all participants are also new components of The Soup Project.
The Soup Project mission involves much more than providing a meal to those in need. It is a place where neighbors can come together to create a better community. Dave Harker, newly appointed director of the Collaborative for Community Engagement, said issues of security, integrity of the building, and the nature of the Community Kitchen are now being addressed. Meals are continuing for those who choose to participate in the programming component and dialogue is now underway to determine a new location for the future. Guests are already recognizing the change, and those who choose not to participate in the programming will receive a boxed lunch to take with them on Sundays in December, providing a meal to aid in this transition for the community.
The Soup Project is a collaboration between CC’s Food Coalition and Arts for Social Change Coalition, which is housed within CC’s Collaborative for Community Engagement. If you would like to learn more, contact Adison Petti: email@example.com.
New and potential partnerships in the community will be identified so students may continue to work on these issues and engage in purposeful ways with those who are homeless, hungry, and impoverished. In partnership with CC’s Innovation Institute, the Collaborative is encouraging students to have a larger and more lasting impact through The Soup Project Challenge. This challenge will offer $20,000 in award money to fund student-designed social innovation projects to address homelessness and hunger in Colorado Springs. Details about the criteria, application process, and deadlines are coming soon. The Soup Project Challenge kick off and information session will be held Dec. 10, at 5 p.m. in the Morreale Carriage House.
Seventy-five students gathered for a traditional Thanksgiving meal, enjoyed football games on the big screen, talked about the myths and traditions around the holiday, and took in some arts and crafts fun making hand turkeys. The annual Thanksgiving meal is an opportunity for any students on campus during the Thanksgiving break to spend time together and savor a holiday meal. A team helped put on the feast, with Bon Appetit preparing the meal, representatives from Campus Safety carving the turkeys, and Residential Life coordinators assisting with activities. Residential Life and Housing, Campus Safety, and The Butler Center provided funding.
More than 100 students traveled across the country and around the globe, from the Uganda Village Project to Venetucci Farm, gaining real-world experience, knowledge, and inspiration for the impact they’ll have now, and after leaving CC.
Megan Gillespie ’16, sociology major, spent her summer at an unpaid internship in Denver with the Lutheran Family Services refugee program. She spent more than an hour at the CC Internship Experience Forum explaining her work to fellow students and other members of the CC community, before rotating out and allowing other students their opportunity to share. The organization Gillespie worked with assists families and individuals fleeing the Congo, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, and many other countries, arriving in the United States without access to resources, embarking on a very uncertain journey. Gillespie helped pair families with cultural mentors, connected them with social services, and assisted them in developing job skills. She said the internship is also relevant to her thesis work on refugees and the implications and concept of residential segregation, which is relocating families from the same cultural backgrounds in the same neighborhoods. “Throughout the summer, I was asking the question, ‘are we perpetuating the issue, and is it necessary?’” she said of placing refugee families in the United States. Gillespie continues the work on campus, leading the Refugee Assistance Program service group at CC.
Funding provided by the college enabled students to accept internships, regardless of any financial barriers or impacts. “The CC community at large contributed resources to help fill students’ financial gaps, allowing them the opportunity to participate in unpaid or underpaid internship opportunities over the summer,” said Megan Nicklaus, director of the Career Center. The CC Internship Experience Forum provided an opportunity for those students to share their experiences with the campus community.
The Human Resources department is inviting all Colorado College staff – regardless of how long you have been at CC – to sign up for CCNEW or CC CONNECT (or both!) to experience the enhanced onboarding process developed for new CC employees. Both programs are part of Thrive@CC.
“Any employee can join the onboarding program at any time it’s offered,” said Lisa Brommer, senior associate director of human resources.
CCNEW is offered every month and focuses on the processes and procedures at CC, helping new employees navigate the technicalities: compensation, key policies, the strategic plan, and benefits. CC CONNECT, which is offered quarterly, is more relational, Brommer said. Its goal is to connect new employees with campus leaders and provide them with the opportunity to meet faculty, other staff, and students. Various campus resources, such as Staff Council, the Employee Assistance Program, and SARC (Sexual Assault Resource Coordinator) also are highlighted in the CC CONNECT sessions.
The next CC NEW session will be held from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., Monday, Nov. 3 in the WES Room on the lower level of the Worner Center. Upcoming future sessions will be held Dec.1, Jan. 6, Feb. 2, March 2, April 1, May 1, June 1, and July 1.
The next CC CONNECT session will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 12 in the Spencer Board Room, located on the first floor of the newly renovated Spencer Center, with breakfast and lunch provided. Future sessions will be held Feb. 25, April 28, and June 23.
Human Resources also will launch a CC ambassador program in January, in which newly hired staff members will be paired with a person who has been at CC for a while and can serve as a campus reserouce. The expanded programs are related to the workplace excellence initiative in CC’s Strategic Plan.
“Re-energize yourself,” Brommer said. “Be a new employee again.”
1.) Your position as director of parent and family relations is new to CC. What does the job entail?
This new role is designed to provide a central point of contact at the college who will enhance communication, facilitate a sense of connection, and develop and maintain positive relationships with the parents and families of current, new, and prospective CC students. Research shows that appropriate parent involvement in student learning is positively related to achievement; this involvement continues to be important during the college years. As an institution, we can make parents and families our allies in augmenting student success if we treat them as partners in their students’ education and provide them with the resources and information they need to help their students flourish. One of my primary objectives is to work collaboratively with staff and faculty across campus to gather timely information about services, programs, and opportunities and then communicate that to parents and families so that they are able to support their students throughout their college experience.
2.) When and how did you arrive at CC?
My family moved to Colorado Springs from Pittsburgh in 2005 when my husband accepted a job transfer. Although I had various part-time jobs while my kids were small, I was looking to get back into full-time work outside the home. I started at CC in September 2005 and worked in the Student Life office for 7 years as the office coordinator until I became the office’s communication and enrollment coordinator. Subsequently, I moved over to Shove Chapel, where I served as the chaplain’s office manager before taking this position.
3.) How do you think your position will impact CC?
As a small liberal arts college, our close-knit campus community is one of our greatest assets. I hope that this role will enhance and expand that aspect of CC so that parents and families will feel as engaged with and connected to our community as their students do.
4.) Can you tell us a bit about your background before CC?
I am a graduate of a liberal arts college, Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, where I completed an English major and music/theatre double minor. I loved the wide-ranging education I received and the nurturing environment of the community. So when I moved here and saw the CC campus, I was reminded of my college experience and thought immediately “that would be a great place to work…”
After receiving my undergraduate degree at Allegheny, I went on to receive my MAT in elementary education from the University of Pittsburgh. Since then, I’ve had various job experiences, including running my own desktop publishing company for a while and teaching in the HeadStart program in Pittsburgh, a federally funded program for at-risk preschool children.
5.) Tell us about your experience teaching in the HeadStart program.
At that time, the program was structured so that each area that was served had a preschool center with two dedicated teachers, usually located in a church or other community building, that the children would attend on a regular basis during the week. In addition, each area was assigned a “home-based visitor,” who visited the children and parents weekly in their homes to provide developmentally appropriate activities that the children and parents could do together outside the classroom. I was a home-based visitor. Having grown up in a relatively privileged environment, it was an eye-opening experience for me.
6.) What do you like to do with your personal time?
Most of my personal time is spent with my husband and two daughters and our furry family, including our rambunctious Bassett hound and our chirpy Chihuahua. I like to read, memoirs and fiction mostly. I also enjoy going to the movies and attending musical and cultural events around the region, especially productions of old Broadway shows.
7.) What are your goals in your career?
I love working in higher education, especially at CC. I have a unique opportunity to develop our parent and family relations program into a stellar example for other liberal arts colleges, so my immediate goal is to do the best I can with that.
8.) Who/what would you consider to be your biggest influence in life?
My paternal grandfather, who lived a full and vigorous life well into his 90s, was always an inspiration to me. “Keep the mind active” was his mantra. Good advice for those of us working in education, right?
9.) What are some personal or professional experiences you’ve had either at CC or outside of it that play into your current role?
I have a daughter who is starting her sophomore year in college. Considering this, I have some understanding of the excitement and challenge experienced by parents and families of college students. I also have a fairly comprehensive perspective on various student experiences at CC from my previous roles here. I think that I can help parents access the resources that will assist them in guiding their students if and when they run into challenges.
10.) Wild card: Can you tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know?
Brussels sprouts are my least favorite vegetable.
1.) Congratulations on becoming the new director of the State of the Rockies Project. What attracted you to this position?
The founder and former director of the Rockies Project, Walt Hecox, had approached me about four years ago. At the time, I was on sabbatical and obsessed with water in New Mexico (which hasn’t changed) and was not in the right frame of mind to take it on. But the more I mulled it over, I couldn’t help but think what a great opportunity it is to provide our students with ways that merge a summer collaborative research opportunity with some dimensions of what a regional think-tank does: connect students to outside opportunities and experts. Plus, I was simply flattered when Jill Tiefenthaler later asked me to assume the mantle.
2.) You’re a human-environment geographer and political ecologist, and hold a joint appointment in both the Environmental and the Southwest Studies programs at CC. How do these elements coalesce?
I’m in year nine, and I think in some ways I’m still figuring that out. I was extremely fortunate to have gracious, patient, and agnostic colleagues about what a geographer does, but I do think the spatial skill-sets and the broad education of a geographer provide a larger view of what interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary programs can do for students—and for faculty development. As a political ecologist, I view my job as challenging the notion that Southwest Studies is simply “regional studies” and, on the other hand, that “environments” exist without preconceived political goals imposed by humans. It’s been great fun.
3.) As the new State of the Rockies director, what is your vision for the program?
First, coming onboard in the spring of 2014, my goal was to “do no harm” to what works in the Rockies. That said, we will be bolstering the academic content and links of the Rockies Project in a way that feeds back into the curriculum, such as getting the Rockies summer students into other CC classrooms to share and learn. We also will continue to provide our researchers with connections to the outside world through fieldwork, meeting experts and residents of the West, and (I hope) further professional development pathways after life at Colorado College.
4.) What is the largest challenge you face?
I think it is this: How can we increase participation without completely depending on further college monies? Imagine a theme like “Water in the West” where, say, an artist, a scientist, and a sociologist collaborate with their own groups of students. This could further both faculty development and provide for a larger circle of opportunity for students. The possibilities for collaborating with foundations, public and private, are exciting.
5.) Why is the State of the Rockies Project important?
The Rockies project has succeeded in producing dozens of focused graduates who are now dedicated to conservation, natural resource, and sustainable development questions throughout the country. We also offer a different kind of summer research focus, one that balances on-campus work that focuses on expert literature on state-of-the-art conservation problems with on-the-ground interviews with experts and Westerners affected by natural resource challenges. It certainly has given the college greater visibility at the regional and occasionally national level, too. The Rockies Project does what we already do well here at CC: It focuses on undergraduate research development and long-term outcomes.
6.) How does the State of the Rockies Project align with your research interests?
Remarkably well, and it took a few years to realize this. Right now, I am haunted by water issues in New Mexico and the western United States in general, and it is both daunting and exciting to think of ways the project can connect to this general concern about water shortages, drought, and climate change in our region. I hope to grow into the position over the next year or two, as we may turn our attention to these water challenges.
7.) Tell us more about your interest in water issues.
Since arriving at CC in 2005, I have become enthralled by New Mexico’s approach to water rights, resources, and management. My current book project, “Unruly Waters,” focuses on how the shift in water resources in that state has much to say about how we will all cope as Westerners, as humans, with water demands and increased scarcity. Most of the work in New Mexico is based on a spatial ethnographic approach; it pays attention to place and space, but also to what people think about how the state is handling water resources. At this point, I’ve spoken to more than 240 people about the issues, and simply cannot wait to put it into clear prose.
8.) Tell us a little about your background.
I am a public liberal arts college product, from Mary Washington College (’92), and all my degrees have been in geography but with later focus on biophysical aspects of geography. It’s odd; I was in Virginia with no family connections to the Southwest or even previous exposure to the Southwest. Yet, for some reason, I read a few pieces about Latino cultural diversity in New Mexico in my junior and senior years, and I was hooked. Only later did I visit that state and get truly hooked on the intersection of land, water, and human livelihoods. What sealed it was my Masters at Louisiana State University on Zuni Pueblo and their efforts to revitalize traditional agriculture. Moving to Colorado simply makes it easier, now, to do my work in the Southwest.
9.) What do you do in your personal time?
I will reluctantly admit that I hack at a guitar and occasionally croon to myself, poorly. My wife and I like to get outdoors whenever we can, for hiking or snowshoeing. I also have an interest in oenology, viticulture, and “all things wine,” since it brings together all my interests. Plus in some way, vineyard landscapes make me a little nostalgic about the French side of my upbringing, as we continue to visit my father’s side of the family in the eastern Pyrenees when we can.
10.) Wild card: What is something people don’t know about you?
OK, maybe that I can dance decently? Not ballroom dancing, mind you, but I’m not averse to looking like a fool on the dance floor.
1.) This is a new position at CC. What does the job entail?
Engaging parents in the life of the college is a top priority. Their support is critical to ensure that students enjoy the world-class educational and immersive learning opportunities that make Colorado College a one-of-a-kind academic experience. In collaboration with parents, we can bolster innovative educational programs, deepen our scholarship, expand our reach, and cultivate the minds of our students.
2.) What are some personal or professional experiences you’ve had either at CC or outside of it that play into your current role?
I’ve had the privilege of working in 20 countries and all of those experiences have been mind-expanding, transformative, and fascinating. Encounters that stand out include doing prison outreach in Northeast Germany and corporate community impact initiatives through build-a-bike programs targeting inner-city youth. Within higher education, I’ve had rich and varying experiences which have given me a holistic perspective. In my first post in higher education, I served as the director of leadership gifts and later transitioned to the role of corporate and community relations director (fundraising).
3.) How do you think your position will impact CC?
Being able to help parents and family members optimize their philanthropy to Colorado College to support their sons and daughters’ transformative Colorado College experience is rewarding. Gifts made to the Parents’ Fund support every part of the CC experience, including financial aid, faculty and academic programming, athletics, experiential career placement, independent research, outdoor education programs, global study, and our beautiful campus.
4.) Can you tell us a bit about your background before CC?
I completed my undergraduate degree and M.B.A. from private liberal arts institutions in Wisconsin. I arrived to Colorado College during the summer of 2008 and absolutely love it. I grew up in Saint Albert, Alberta, Canada. After working for a global non-profit based out of Denver, I fell in love with the region and wanted to come back. Raising kids out West was a priority. I saw a position for Colorado College posted online via Higher Ed Jobs.com. It was the first and only position I applied for, and three months later I was here.
5.) Tell us a little more about your experience doing prison outreach in Northeast Germany.
The prison outreach was a component of a broader dialogue program about personal responsibility, intersecting identities, social justice, and multiculturalism, stimulated by frequent, intense interactions among peers and people with vastly different backgrounds and world views — it was life-changing.
6.) What do you do with your personal time?
I have three incredible kids ages 9, 6, and 4; we go hiking in the mountains with our Golden Retriever “Buddy” every weekend. Colorado is an incredible place for adventures and establishing memories that my kids will have for a lifetime.
7.) Do you have a favorite place to hike with your kids?
My favorite place to hike with the kids is Section 16, the Crags, Barr Trail, and Helen Hunt Falls.
8.) What’s your most memorable hike?
My most memorable hike with the kids was up to the Continental Divide — not too far from Breckenridge. Hiking with kids invigorates the joy of discovering things in nature that we take for granted.
9.) What is your passion?
I’m passionate about being a father and traveling to new places. I find that traveling, both domestically and internationally, expands my mind. Not necessarily because of what I’m experiencing with the senses, but what I experience first-hand by encountering new cultures and lifestyles that nuances my perspective and understanding of the world around me.
10.) Wild card: Can you tell us something about yourself that might be surprising?
Like a true liberal arts person, I have eclectic passions and interests. I graduated from a musical theatre high school and was involved with an acting agency for about 10 years. I never made it big; however, I met lots of fascinating people and grew a lot as a person. Growing up I ran track and cross-country and played soccer, basketball, and football. I also was involved in dance, jazz choir, and the creative process of short scene production. However, what I enjoyed the most was playing amateur football in the Canadian Junior Football League as a running back and kick-returner (and running for my life!)
Baby wipes, canned fruit, Skittles, beef jerky, tuna, pistachios: It’s not the usual Worner Desk collection of items. However, those on the collecting end – employees at the desk – were glad to gather them, and those on the receiving end – a platoon in Afghanistan – will be glad to get them.
Linking the two is Willma Fields ’01. Lynnette DiRaddo, now manager of the Worner Information Desk, and Fields had known each other years before, when they worked together in Campus Activities. Fields, a religion major, was a student intern and then paraprofessional in Campus Activities. They reconnected when Willma’s husband, Sgt 1st Class James Fields, was reassigned to Fort Carson last summer before deploying to Afghanistan in February. He is scheduled to return in late November.
To occupy the time, Willma began filling in at Worner Desk last fall and was hired fulltime in May. Soon she was chatting with DiRaddo about her children, ages 5 and 8, and her husband, who heads a platoon in rural Afghanistan, where they remove improvised explosive devices from civilian areas and assist with the transition from NATO-supported to Afghani-supported operations.
Fort Carson had always been in the background for DiRaddo, but never had any direct impact on her. That changed when Willma started working at the desk. “I started witnessing first-hand the effects of deployment and what it is like to be in the military,” DiRaddo said. “Willma would talk about sending her husband care packages, and I said, ‘I want to do that, too.’ I wanted to do something to help this family.” Being of Italian descent, DiRaddo did what comes naturally: “When you don’t know what else to do, feed them.”
With support from Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Mike Edmonds, DiRaddo and Career Connections Advisor Gretchen Wardell contacted various departments in Student Life, asking if people, either personally or through a departmental budget code, wished to donate to a care package for James Fields’ platoon.
The response was immediate, and Operation Worner Desk was underway. Departmental sponsorship came from the VP of Student Life, Worner Campus Center, Career Center, Campus Activities, Arts & Crafts, and Accessibility Resources (formerly Disability Services). Personal donations came from Wardell, Jason Owens, Tara Misra, Sara Rotunno, Bethany Grubbs, and Andrea Culp, with more $500 being collected.
With the platoon’s wish list in hand, DiRaddo and Wardell launched into action, shopping for the items and filling two carts – and then going back for more when they realized they still had money to spend. In addition to snack foods, they also purchased practical items: small ice packs for the soldiers to tuck into their uniforms to help abate the 112-degree temperatures in Afghanistan, powdered flavorings for drinks, to make the perpetually lukewarm canteen water more palatable, and baby wipes, used to cool down and wipe off dust in an area with little running water.
Worner Desk student staff members Sydney Minchin ’15, Ginni Hill ’15, Sam Zuke ’15, Helen Kissel ’16, and Antonio Soto helped unload the goods from the car and transport them to DiRaddo’s office, where they were packed into boxes for shipment to Afghanistan.
“I’m amazed at how much people care,” Fields said, as she surveyed the mounds of supplies. “The war has been going on so long, and people still care. This is my CC family; this is my home base.”
By Stephanie Wurtz
You will find open spaces, natural light, and modernized furniture pieces in housing options across the Colorado College campus. But these elements are not just for looks and comfort. They’re part of a broader, strategic vision for a 21st century campus, where the residential experience takes advantage of CC’s location and the variety of building architecture. It is a philosophy meant to enhance the student experience by exploring how the environment impacts learning, relationships, and community.
CC is one of three institutions across the country recognized for its successes in the 21st Century Project, a program facilitated by the Association of College and University Housing Officers-International. Community, flexibility, technology, sustainability, and innovation are the five tenets on which the 21st Century Project is built, and participating college communities are developing creative solutions to address each of those issues, while meeting the unique needs of their own student residents.
As a participant, CC applies the guidelines of the 21st Century Project to actively involve those who will live in campus housing and who support the students in their whole experience at CC. The program helps facilitate focus groups of students who are able to react and respond to the project throughout this process. Students and employees share input on various concepts, sharing what they feel is working, what is not, and what they might envision for a specific space or community. That information is shared with institutions nationwide looking to emulate CC’s successes. “These students are having an opportunity to influence a much wider audience than even just CC students,” said John Lauer, senior associate dean of students and director of residential life, of participants. “They’re contributing to a much broader conversation.”
It is a conversation that guided several campus projects over the past several years, the most significant being the extensive renovation of Slocum Hall. It’s one of the reason CC leaders opted to renovate the residence hall, instead of tearing it down. CC’s commitment to the 21st Century Project guides the philosophy to reuse and repurposes resources, while incorporating substantial enhancements, including all new windows and individual temperature controls for each room, for sustainability and efficiency. The hall was transformed into a unique space meant to foster community with adaptable, technology-supported spaces for students to gather and collaborate.
Additionally, the Mathias Hall renovation project focused on creating common areas, pulling people out of their personal space into community space, so residents are interacting with one another and the environment around them. McGregor Hall’s renovation transformed the space while appreciating the historic nature of the building. By creating spaces that have a perceived identity, like a library, dining room and living room, an inviting atmosphere helps residents feel at home.
CC was selected for the program from a national applicant pool. It’s a unique and distinctive designation for the college. “There are only three campuses in the country where you can so actively participate in a project like this,” said Lauer. “The college is doing what we expect our students to do: if you want to be a part of something that’s unique, here’s another part of that story.”
Participation in the project and the commitment to advancing campus housing began on the CC campus in 2008 with a summit of 20 students, faculty, staff, and administrators who established a long-range initiative to apply the project’s tenets to meet the specific residential needs at CC. “This vision around the 21st century housing project tells the story of our strategic plan by extending the reach of CC’s voice in higher education; we’re not only transforming our student housing, but we’re an example for others to look at and learn from,” said Lauer.
CC is learning, too, as a 21st Century Project participant, implementing features and functions in living spaces and establishing what component aids in creating community, retaining what works and applying those things to future projects. “It’s not necessary to rebuild your entire inventory to student apartments,” said Lauer. “We’ve been over capacity for several years, but we don’t just want to have enough student beds for the demand, we want to continue to develop an inventory that is diverse, not homogenized student housing.”
At CC, those housing options include apartments, small houses, and more traditional residence halls. Growing a 21st century campus helps CC continue learning about how physical construction of student residences extends learning, creating access to relationships and innovative thinking by building around the project’s five tenets. Features like chalkboard walls and whiteboard tables, as well as fireplaces and sitting areas throughout the buildings, offer collaborative, shared spaces for students.
Addressing the unique needs of the CC campus means encompassing the renovation of historic and traditional residence halls along with new construction, and ultimately, transforming the entire residential experience at the college. Dramatic, open floor plans, with common kitchen areas and an outdoor fire pit and sand volleyball court, along with flexible room assignments that include first- and second-year students, help stress the concepts of integration between students, creating situations where they’re supported in their college experience by others.
The 21st Century Project is not an initiative with a clear completion date, but instead, is an ongoing process. Work continues in the construction and renovation phases now. Next, the evaluative phase will build on the successes of these completed projects, presenting an opportunity to look at evidence and data, continuing the learning process for continued success of CC’s residential campus far into the 21st century.
The Gazette has picked Heather Browne, coordinator of off-campus study at Colorado College, as “Best Music Mover and Shaker” in their annual “Best of the Springs” survey. More than 15,000 voters and eight staff members weighed in.
“Not only does Heather have excellent taste in music, but she has a knack for finding the rising stars of the music scene, and the drive to bring them successfully to our city,” said Jennifer Mulson, Gazette arts and entertainment reporter. “Her touch seems to be golden. More than several bands she has brought to town have gone on to find big success in the business.”
By day, Browne coordinates off-campus study for CC’s International Programs, a job she has held since 2008. However, on nights and weekends she promotes and books concerts at Ivywild School, the new community marketplace and gathering spot a few miles south of campus. When the renovation of Ivywild School was nearly completed, the opportunity arose for Browne and her music-booking partner and friend Marc Benning (formerly of the Denver band 34 Satellite, and a local musician and record producer himself) to book music in the Ivywild gym, a job she started earlier this academic year.
“It’s been fun to use my connections and relationships with folks across the country to bring so many of my favorite musicians to my town, and share the goodness here at home,” Browne said. “We are excited to continue to bring bothup-and-coming as well as established and respected artists for special nights of music at the Ivywild. The kind of music I like being around and championing is music that is connective and vibrant, and I have been fortunate that it all is finally starting to succeed here, and bring joy to people in the Springs community.”
Browne has been running her own independent music blog Fuel/Friends (www.fuelfriendsblog.com) since moving to Colorado from California in 2005. “Over the course of the last eight years writing my blog, I have felt really fortunate to make musical connections all over the world, with bands and record labels and promotions folks and booking agents and other music writers,” she said. “That’s all coming to fruition at the Ivywild.”
From that website and her connections formed with musicians because of it, Browne began organizing Colorado Springs house concerts in her downtown cohousing community near Dogtooth Coffee. “I realized that the kind of venue I really wanted to see shows at, and the sorts of musicians I loved, weren’t really being courted to come to the Springs, so I just kind of decided to do it myself,” she said.
Working with local audio producer friends from the Blank Tape Records label, she also began recording folk & indie musicians performing private concerts in Shove Chapel, and releasing those audio recordings for free download as The Fuel/Friends Chapel Sessions. The sessions have hosted musicians such as The Head and The Heart, The Lumineers, Glen Phillips (from Toad The Wet Sprocket), Dawes, Tyler Ramsey (of Band of Horses), Typhoon, Pickwick, David Wax Museum, and Gregory Alan Isakov.
“I didn’t grow up playing music, other than singing all sorts of lame five-part harmonies with my hippie family on car trips in our Volkswagen bus,” Browne says. “But I’ve always loved both writing about how music feels and sounds to me, as well as connecting other people with music that I feel passionately about.” She doesn’t write music, but likes to sing and “play the drum set in my basement poorly, but for fun.”
Browne studied communication and art history at Santa Clara University in California, and currently is pursuing her master’s degree in intercultural relations from University of the Pacific. “I studied abroad in Italy, which helped spark my career in international education for the last 12 years,” she said. “My whole post-college career has been in international education. I love it. I am also so appreciative of rich music parts of my life as a parallel, rewarding endeavor that I pursue for the love of it. I get great delight out of both.
“A few years ago I got to interview Jovanotti, a very well-known Italian rapper who is a bit like the Bono of Italy, for my blog. I had first attended a concert of his when I was studying abroad in Florence in 1999. That was such a surreal day for me, to see how sometimes life all comes full-circle, wonderfully.”
So one can understand why Mulson, of the Gazette, says, “She’s on my Christmas card list for bringing the likes of Gregory Alan Isakov, You Me and Apollo, and St. Paul and the Broken Bones to Ivywild School.”