Ask 20 people to identify a magical place at CC and most likely you will get 20 different answers.
Most will, however, agree that there are magical places on and near the CC campus. It is those places Political Science Professor Tom Cronin and Alex Truax ’11 set out to capture in the “magical places” project, begun during the summer of 2009.
“Tom likes to have a photo of each of his classes, so he asked me to take a photo of his class in the Garden of the Gods,” Truax said. The class was there to discuss Thoreau’s “Walden” and to find their own Walden. “I took the photo balancing the camera on an uneven rock, and it turned out well, despite the conditions. From that Tom got the idea that I was a good photographer.”
At the time, Cronin was working on an essay about the value of a liberal arts education and, needing some photos to illustrate the piece, he turned to Truax. As it happened, Truax already had several campus photos: He often took pictures from his dorm window of the sun setting on Pikes Peak or other favorite shots to show his parents in Portland, Ore.
Truax and Cronin reviewed the photos, made a list of additional shots, and Truax set off with his camera to capture more of CC’s magical places.
“A magical place has some meaning; good things have happened there,” Cronin says. “It can be a place where students study or practice. It can be where they meditate. Baca campus has a magical spell all over it.”
He defines a magical place less by what or where the place is than by what happens there. Thus, Cronin’s favorite magical place is Palmer Hall. Palmer Hall, Room 13, to be exact. “That’s the room I teach in. I’ve had so many great students and great discussions there; it’s very magical to me.”
Truax’s magical places are Bemis Hall, where he lived for two years, and the Worner Center. “Even though I’m a senior and no longer on a meal plan, I still go to Worner most days to see who I can run into. It’s one of the best ways to stay connected to other students, both seniors and underclassmen,” he says.
Another of Truax’s magical places is the entrance to Palmer. “I love the architecture and the arches, and have made it a tradition to enter through those doors on the first day of class, even when the side doors are faster, to take in that message, ‘Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.’ I do this as a reminder of why I’m at CC and as an inspiration for the block,” he said.
When Cronin and Truax first discussed the project, they envisioned at most a few pictures in the admission office or an online version of the photo essay. However, the project’s impact was much greater. “I never anticipated the college printing nearly 2,000 thank-you cards with my photos on them, or that the 2010 Colorado College Parent Guide would have a photo I took on the front cover as a result of the project,” Truax said.
Cronin and Truax also presented the essay and accompanying photos to the Alumni Association Board last spring, then listened as members shared their own magical places stories and memories. In his essay on magical places, Cronin writes: “Investing oneself in a place is what gives meaning to it.” That’s something all CC alumni can agree on.
Read the magical places essay and share your own places and memories there.