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Das Ende (The End!)

Wow wow wow! What a block it has been! I can’t believe it is over, and I know it will take a lot more than the flight home to process everything that has happened. I am writing from the comfort of my hostel bed, which I will say goodbye to in the morning, as one of the last of our cohort to depart. I will take this opportunity to begin the process of reflection.

I’m not entirely sure how to structure this post, and I would like to keep it relatively concise, so I will use a skill that my 2.5 years at CC have engrained in me: reflection via rose, bud and thorn.

Rose: This one is easy: everything. If you just rolled your eyes, that’s fine, but I mean it. The opportunity that we had to be here, as a bunch of under-grad American students from a small liberal arts college, has no comparison. We had the opportunity to meet Jeff Seabright, Chief Sustainability Officer at Unilever, Katherine Neebe (’97), Chief Sustainability officer at Walmart, Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, the President of COP-20, among others. We had coffee and conversation with change makers, movers and shakers from all corners of the world. That is pretty neat, if you ask me. To be in the presence of these incredible people, in the place where the magic happens, so to speak, has been an unparalleled opportunity. Just the chance to attend COP-23 is a major rose all by itself.

Bud: As my classmate Kelly said in her most recent post: once you know and understand the causes and impacts of climate change, you can never un-know them. While I feel that I have always been well informed about environmental issues and I was raised in a household adamant about turning off the lights upon leaving rooms, composting and recycling (thanks, family!) this block and the COP has opened my eyes to a world of complexities and nuance that I didn’t know existed in the realm of climate change. I have heard personal narratives from corporate executives, indigenous leaders, mothers, fathers, students and countless others from all over the world. Returning to Colorado and to CC, I am excited to bring with me the passion, the energy, the dedication that formed the foundation for this conference. My bud is fairly simple: the opportunity to take everything we have experienced here back home as a souvenir and to build on this incredible experience as a foundation of knowledge and action.

Thorn: This one is a little bit harder. Clearing my rose-colored (pun kind-of intended), post-COP glasses, the thorn that stands out is the thick bureaucracy and politically-driven cloud that surrounded the conference. Like Katherine said in her most recent post, the negotiations frequently get hung up on single clauses and even individual words. The dissonance between debating relatively inconsequential verb tenses and the very real effects of climate change that are affecting very real human lives is hard to ignore. As students attending an American college, we know that politics is in everything these days. No issue seems to be above partisanship, and this was ever present at COP-23. I found it frustrating to sit in meetings and hear a story about a mom who lost her home to freak flooding in one minute, and the next minute hear that an organization dedicated to helping this mom couldn’t get funding because some political body couldn’t get a bill passed. The thorn on my rose of the COP is the frustratingly slow-moving, albeit potentially inextricable, bureaucratic process of change.

I have many more roses, buds and thorns, but this is a blog and not my memoir, so I will end there. This has been a truly once in a lifetime experience and something I will carry with me forever. Thank you to Mark Smith, Colorado College, our individual sponsors who got us badges, all the people who took time out of their schedules to meet with us, and to everyone who made COP-23 and this block possible.

Signing off, with endless amounts of gratitude,

Anna Brent (’19)

Here are some of my favorite pictures from the last two weeks as a P.S.:

Here is our very own Emily Abbott (’19) meeting Frank Bainimarama, COP-23 President!

Another MAJOR rose: all the free food!!!!

 

Al Gore Speaking! Woohoo!

Katherine Kerr (’18), Jack Mosley (’18) and I, with the actual globe in our hands (well, in the air, but it was previously in our hands).

Last Day at the COP!

Today was our last day at the COP and a good one to finish on. We began the day with an early meeting with Cambridge University engineering professor Hugh Hunt. Dr. Hunt is the engineer behind a geo-engineering project intended to increase the reflectivity of the planet by injecting sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere. This would be a temporary but potentially effective patch to a huge problem. Dr. Hugh suggests that this could put a halt on warming and the catastrophes associated with temperature increase above 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius while we work on getting further infrastructure in place. This topic is obviously incredibly controversial, but Dr. Hugh gave us some small assurance that some of the more dynamic and intelligent scientists are putting the idea through its paces.

Because I haven’t written since the very first day of the conference, I wanted to write a little bit about one of the more powerful experiences I had during the COP. During one of the first sessions at the US Climate Action Pavilion, Senator Ricardo Lara spoke about California’s climate mitigation and adaptation efforts. Senator Lara is incredibly well spoken, an impeccable role model, and the work that he is putting forth in California is exciting.
After the panel I had the opportunity to speak with him for a little while about some research I was putting together for my thesis, (Thank you Mark!) and he gave me some really valuable policy insight into the real-world problems inherent in the renewable labor market in California. I kept my composure and tried not to look as star-struck as I was feeling, so meeting the Senator was a highlight for sure!

0 degrees Celsius

Sorry for the late post! We’ve had really spotty internet here. Actually, something I learned last week is that the internet in Germany is extremely expensive and therefore the internet in Cafés, houses, hotels, restaurants, etc is usually pretty slow.

 

On Friday, we tried to get to Bonn on the RB48 (a nicer train that is generally less crowded than the one we have been taking) and due to protests at the Bonn central station on coal we passed the station and ended up past Bonn in a little village. We ended up meeting a lady from Norway and splitting a cab with her to Bonn.

 

I spent the rest of the day at the US pavilion, which had opened the day before. It was really interesting to listen to people talk and sit around the general area and see the different people attending. There was a really interesting discussion with the head of sustainability of Walmart, and a few other major businesses, discussing their approach to being sustainable businesses. This was really interesting to hear about because generally sustainable methods are seen as more expensive and therefore economically inefficient. However, through this discussion they explained how while it might be more expensive initially the long-term investment ends up being less expensive and it creates more jobs, generating economic stimulation in cities.

 

At the end of the day there was a reception in the US pavilion where I met an interesting guy. He believed not in <2 degrees Celsius but rather 0 degrees Celsius. While this sounded really ambitious and unrealistic to me it was eye opening to hear his argument and stance on his opinion. Additionally, he told us about a few projects his company is investing in to reduce carbon emissions. One of these projects is man-made lime stone that is actually more pure than naturally found limestone and is a carbon sink that absorbs limestone. The other project he talked to us about is a mechanism for “stirring the depths of the ocean.” Essentially, the nutrients and sediment found at the bottom of the ocean absorbs CO2 and is a natural and abundant carbon sink. However, in the middle of the ocean where the current is not as strong and there are not crashing waves to disrupt the ocean floor the nutrients and sediment does not get pulled to the surface and therefore cannot absorb the C02.

 

Friday night was a great opportunity not only to network with individuals but also to have more one-on-one conversations with these business men/women and senators.

First Weeks and the Fine Arts Center

The first couple of weeks in FYE Introduction to Art History were packed full of studying artwork with a focus on art from pre-historic times up to the era of the Romanesque in Europe. When we weren’t in the classroom learning historical context and analyzing specific works of art, we took trips to the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.

On our first trip, Jessica Hunter-Larsen led us to a monumental painting. Our class was tasked with analyzing each aspect of the piece beginning with basic details and eventually finding a possible meaning of the Renaissance work, which featured Mary, Jesus, and Joseph seated in an almost tropical wilderness. Next, we visited the exhibit, “Everyday Extraordinary: From Rembrandt to Warhol.” Here, we all chose one work of art and were asked to spend ten minutes writing down our observations for a “slow looking” activity. For this exercise, we were challenged to look deeply, slowly, and intently, focusing on the details and objects represented in the piece to learn more about how they fit together as a whole. We then shared things we noticed after gazing at the art for the prescribed amount of time – which for me, was an etching by Rembrandt. Due to the small and hard to make out details, I spent much of the ten minutes examining the work up close. I discovered so many aspects of the print that I never would have seen had I looked at it for just a few seconds as I made my way through the exhibit. There were more people and animals in the print than I saw at first glance, hidden from initial view by the print’s small size and the intricately inked lines.

When next we returned to the Fine Arts Center, we were armed with a graphic organizer to guide our individual examinations of what types of elements comprised a visually arresting, cohesive exhibition. We took note of how the exhibit was structured, what types of art work were included, and how the wall text was utilized. We will use what we noticed to inform our own process of curating an exhibition. I chose to examine the Chihuly exhibition because it seemed outstanding to me as a whole. Aspects that fascinated me about the exhibit were the overwhelming emphasis on color and the variety of three-dimensional and two-dimensional pieces. After reading the wall text, I also learned about how some of the pieces were made and their backgrounds.

We have learned so much and have more to come. Now I have to dive into the Renaissance and make some decisions about our exhibit but keep your eye out for more blog entries from my classmates!

– Anna

Final threads

Suddenly fourth week is in full swing. It is amazing that we have only been weaving for less than a month! The works we have produced are ones to be proud of for sure. We have spent late nights avidly weaving many yards,

problem solving, and eating an unreasonable amount of freeze pops to arrive where we are today.

As the final projects emerged from the looms, the personal style of each weaver became delightfully clear. Curiosities were explored and challenges overcome in a spectacular show of wit and determination. The morning was spent adding finishing touches and hanging our pieces for our final critique. Today we are having a show in conjunction with the printing press and bookmaking class in Coburn Gallery!

 

We have our fabrics on display in creative ways to enhance the viewer’ experience, and show off the variety of techniques each student has employed. There are pieces that boast double or triple weave, silk painting, and even an invented weave structure! The show is not one to miss. It will be a satisfying bookend to a very fulfilling block.

Krimidinner

On Thursday night, as we neared the end of another busy week, the students of German 202, and a few members of the Max Kade house, CC’s German language house, gathered together at Professor Ane Steckenbiller’s house to eat a delicious home cooked, Mediterranean dinner, and to play an exciting German murder-mystery game. The game was set at a dinner party, and was centered around a group of characters, each one played by a different player. Through a series of clues and dialog between players, it becomes clear that the characters all have some connection to one another, and some connection to a murder that’s been committed, and that the murderer is in their midst. The goal of the game was to solve the murder by the time the dinner was complete. It took three hours, but with the help of the two native German speakers who were present, and some ice cream sundaes, we successfully completed the game.

Where does magma come from?

Hi! My name is Grace, and I’m a senior geology major here at CC. This block I’ll be sharing my experience in Igneous Petrology. I fell in love with geology because of how differently it makes me see the world. One of my favourite authors, John McPhee, says it well “A million years is a short time – the shortest worth messing with for most problems. You begin tuning your mind to a time scale that is the planet’s time scale. For me, it is almost unconscious now and is a kind of companionship with the earth.” Like every geology class I’ve taken, I know that studying igneous petrology will further shift my perspective of our planet.

Igneous petrology is the study of the origin, composition, and chemical structure of igneous rocks. Igneous rocks are rocks that are formed by cooling magma. Rocks like granite form when magma cools below the surface, and volcanic rocks like basalt cool at the surface during volcanic eruptions. We spent our first day of class discussing how and where magma bodies are formed, and how they reach the surface to cool and form rocks. Magma can be generated in both the mantle in the crust. The specifics of these processes can be complex, but there are essentially only three ways to melt a rock and create magma: you can raise the temperature, lower the pressure, or change the rock’s melting temperature by adding volatiles such as water. It’s fascinating to think about the fact that every igneous rock started out this way, hundred to thousands of kilometers below our feet. The mighty Pikes Peak that towers over our campus today was once a liquid that slowly cooled and crystallized, then got uplifted to the surface, to become the iconic granite mountain that it is today.

On our second day of class we went from talking about massive bodies of magma to the microscopic properties of igneous rocks. One of the things I have always enjoyed about geology is the wide range of spatial and temporal scales that it covers, and this class is certainly no exception. We started the day with a lecture on optics and discussed what some common minerals look like under the microscope, then jumped into looking at thin sections for our lab. A thin section is an ultra thin (usually 30 microns) slice of rock that has been cut with a diamond saw and then sanded down until it is perfectly flat. The rock slice is then mounted onto a clear glass slide that can be studied under a petrographic microscope. Here is a photo of what one of our thin sections looks like under the microscope:

A thin section from GY310

A thin section from GY310

The bright colors you see here aren’t the true colors of the minerals in this rock. Instead, they’re interference colors that are caused by the light from the microscope breaking up as it passes through the crystals in the thin section. If you’ve ever shined a light through a prism and created a rainbow, you’ve seen interference colors! The interference colors that we see in thin sections can help us identify what minerals we’re looking at, since the physical properties of different minerals cause them to produce different colors. The first time I ever looked at a thin section, I was blown away by how much detail a thin section can reveal about the history of the rock. The proportions of different minerals, the shapes of their crystals, and the boundaries between crystals can all provide valuable clues about the rock’s crystallization history.

The Great Sand Dunes

We were able to visit the Great Sand Dunes before heading back to CC. At the visitors center we wrote a few poems using a children’s field guide poem template. I will share a few simple poems written by classmates and some pictures from the day.

Poem #1: 

Badger

Furry, Curious

Eating, Frolicking, Juggling

Very cool animal dude

Cosmic

Poem #2: 

Blog

Fun, Public

Writing, Sharing, Growing

Can’t wait to blog

Post

Poem #3:

Taco

Yummy, Warm

Cook, Taste, Smell

I miss the taco

Food

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Thank you Visitors Center for teaching us poetry and how to enjoy nature! I will be back soon again!

 

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Hiking up the Dunes

More Pictures from the Valley!

Our class had the opportunity to talk to a few expert women who taught us about the water rights system in the San Luis Valley and the different Rio Grande restoration projects that are happening. We also visited a potato farm and potato factory to gain a better understanding of the local industries and how they are affected by the availability of water in the valley.

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Potato Factory. An interesting thing that a potato farmer said was that because of the recent droughts he was forced to explore farming methods that use less water. He now uses Green Manure, a more sustainable method that helps the environment and his private farming practices when water is scarce. He said that in many ways he was thankful for the drought for motivating him to be more innovative and sustainable.

 

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This is the Exeter Machine. It takes pictures of each potato and places it in the correct category based on color, shape and size. The Exeter Machine can get through 100,000 pounds of potatoes in just one hour!

 

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I found a heart-shaped potato and farmer Doug let me take it home! Doug and I brainstormed about the idea of selling sacks of exclusively heart-shaped potatoes around valentines day. Could be the next big hit in the potato sales!

 

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Embodying the flow of water right next to the Rio Grande. We (Becca, Christian and I) are standing at the site of a future project. The project aims to make recreation on the river more accessible for the local community so that member can come together through the river and can feel a deeper connection to their water source. Through this project the organization will also receive more local support and involvement! Becca, Christian and I all have experience learning and expressing ourselves via dance and body movement. We performed a dance interpretation of environmental education theory for the student dance show called dance workshop. Check out the video of our dance on youtube if your are interested https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lC1iID_k1Zw

 

Field Trip Spotlights

During our Baca Field Trip I interviewed different members that contributed to the awesome experience! Here I will share some spotlights.
Meet Becca Williams, one of my classmate, friends and a TREE Semester graduate! Becca loves bears and learning! She is a junior at CC who is majoring in environmental science and minoring in art. Becca loves when her classes take advantage of the block plan by exploring topics in depth through experiential learning. Attending TREE Semester was the best decision that Becca has made at CC.  Some of Becca’s hobbies include crafting and hiking AND she has also developed a new passion for climbing this year. Before coming to CC Becca had never camped before, but since college she has grown to love camping – she even leads student camping trips now! Becca’s favorite part of this course was being able to talk to different people in the field who are involved with conservation projects or affected by them. Hearing a range of perspectives around the same subject helped Becca to think critically and form her own opinions. Becca also enjoyed learning about the complex system of water rights in the San Luis Valley and learning about the science behind different forest conservation projects. Throughout my time learning beside Becca I have been inspired by her genuine curiosity and excitement towards learning and the amazing questions that she asks– both making her an extraordinary student and educator.
Meet Bob, the bus driver for the overnight Baca field trip! Bob began working at CC 33 years ago as a mechanic driver. Bob was raised in Colorado Springs. When he was 26 years old he was looking for a job and decided to work for CC, thinking he would only stay for a year. Bob enjoyed his job so much there was never a reason for him to leave. Now he is the supervisor of transportation for the college. His favorite thing about working for Colorado College is the close-knit community of coworkers that he has. When Bob drives for overnight trips he likes to bring a book so that he can read during breaks. Each trip is different. Bob recalls that one interesting thing that happened on a trip was that he traveled from 20-degree weather to 80-degree weather in eight hours. When Bob is not working, he is often remodeling his house. He recently put in new floors and is now rebuilding the garage. Bob’s favorite place in the world is Aruba, an island off the coast of Venezuela where he vacations with this wife once a year. Thank you Bob, for joining us on our trip, sharing about your life and keeping us safe!
Meet Tyler Cornelius, the wonderful professor for this course! Tyler grew up on a remote ranch in the wilderness in northern Canada. Tyler is a professional college student; he had 6 years of undergrad where he completed two majors and two minors. For Tyler, the best thing about being a professor at Colorado College is that you can follow your own interests, design your own classes and really get to form close relationships with your students. Tyler is always willing to meet with his students after class (or on the bus!) to provide feedback, advice, discussion or clarification. When Tyler is not working he is most likely spending time with his family. Tyler has a happy two-year-old son named Oscar. He enjoys wrestling, gardening and hiking with his son. A fun fact about Tyler is that he wrote a children’s book about a Bee! Tyler is excited about joining the CC community.