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Reflection on Guns In Schools and CC’s Engaged Journalism Class

“School Shooting Generation”: that’s the title which massive news corporations have assigned to the students of Generation Z. If you were born some time after 1997, odds are that you’ve seen countless stories of kids being killed where they’re supposed to be educated, taken part in routine lockdown drills and noticed the similar-aged victim of a senseless crime thinking “What if that were me?”. However, up until the initiation of the “Our Lives Matter” movement in response to the 2017 Parkland shooting, it seems the voices of such students had seldom been heard, apart from footage of them crying outside their schools, filtered through our television screens. PBS Rocky Mountain has been looking to reframe that narrative.

With the 20th anniversary of the Columbine shooting just around the corner, the company has enlisted the help of CC students (all too young to have seen anything more than the aftermath of the 1999 shooting) through the form of a class: Engaged Journalism. With the aid of the CCE, a course was born, teaching its passionate pupils about both traditional and engaged forms of journalism, allowing them to get involved with members of their community, giving them the opportunity to hear from all different perspectives on the issue and creating many different platforms for the matter, born from their own ideas. I took this class, and felt both compelled and inspired by all the different stories I had heard from my fellow classmates and the people which they chose to connect with.

Laura Frank, VP of Journalism (PBS)

“Engaged Journalism: Guns in Schools” took place during block five, taught by the CCE’s very own Jordan Radke and Anthony Siracusa. Employing many different texts on both the tactics of journalism and the contemporary history of mass shootings, students got the chance to delve into not one, but two different major topics in the course of three and a half weeks. Our assignments included daily readings and blog posts facilitating discussion, interviews with friends, family, & community members, and group projects inspired by the concept of a social media campaign, which blossomed into our own individual ideas. In addition, our teaching expanded beyond our two main professors, by featuring visits and involvement from journalists Laura Frank of Rocky Mountain PBS, Madeline Faber of High Ground News in Memphis, Corey Hutchins of the Colorado Independent, and Alice Driver, who has written various freelance pieces for many major news corporations. Through the privilege of hearing this diverse group of professionals throughout the course, we as students were able to gain a wide variety of perspectives, experiences and wisdom in all facets of journalism.

Our journey closed with a “Community Conversation” event, hosted at the School District 11 Board Room. Community members, those personally involved with the course or student projects, and anyone else of interest was welcome to attend, view each group’s final projects and participate in an open, civil discussion on the topic and the work itself.

After all the different aspects of this course were finalized, I’m deeply appreciative for the opportunity to have taken part in such a powerful project with such an inspiring collection of people and to have heard personal stories from so many different audiences which opened my mind to new perspectives on such a controversial issue.

Written by Susie Dummit.

The Fine Arts Center on Connecting with the Community

Local youth participate in a discussion about a local exhibit. Original photo from a CC news post on August 29, 2017.

Started as the Broadmoor Art Academy in 1919, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center is celebrating its 100th year in the community. To commemorate this occasion, we decided to chat with Amanda Weston, the Media Relations & Outreach Specialist and take a closer look at the work being done to bring together both the greater Colorado Springs community and Colorado College itself.

How did you end up getting involved with this position at the Fine Arts Center?

I moved to Colorado in 2014 and had been looking for communications jobs in the arts and entertainment industries. When this job listing posted on Andrew Hudson job list I excitedly applied for it.

What role do you think the FAC serves in the community? How can/do residents across the Colorado Springs area get involved with the work?

The Fine Arts Center has been a hub for arts and culture in the Colorado Springs community for 100 years. The FAC plays a critical role in providing innovative, educational, and multidisciplinary arts experiences that elevate the individual spirit and inspire community vitality. There are a number of ways residents can connect with the FAC. We offer Museum Free Days twice a month, students and teachers always receive free admission to the museum. We also offer free school tours and subsidized busing. We have a fourth grade passport to thearts program which provides fourth grade students and their families a free family membership to the museum, free theatre tickets, discounts on art classes and more. We have year-round art classes for ages two and up. We produce an annual season of theatre productions for kids and adults. We have theatre school classes for ages five to adult. We have artist lectures and talks, special events and so much more. I encourage community members to sign up for our emails to stay up-to-date with all of our events and happenings.

Could you describe the relationship between Colorado College and the Fine Arts Center?

The Fine Arts Center and Colorado College entered an historic alliance in 2017. For 100 years, the FAC and CC have been neighbors and collaborated in a variety of important ways. This includes the FAC serving as the college’s de facto art department in the 1920s–1940s, co-hosting an annual Conference on Fine Arts in the 1930s, collaborating on shared programming and exhibitions throughout the decades, and the recent gift in 2015 of the FAC’s extensive art publication archives to the Tutt Library at Colorado College. The Fine Arts Center is a valuable resource for students and faculty that furthers the educational mission of the college. Our aim is to create a national model of distinction for an arts center that joins with a college to serve the campus, the community, the region, and the world.

Are there any ways in which the FAC connects CC students with the rest of the Colorado Springs Community?

One example is our Student Guide program that is open to current Colorado College students across all disciplines and years. Their primary duty is to facilitate positive visitor experiences in the FAC museum. Guides do this in multiple ways: they are trained to facilitate dialogue about the exhibitions; they also carry interactive activities for visitors to utilize, such as art cards with questions, scavenger hunts and dice for visual analysis games. Guides understand the variety of tools available to guests that lead to deeper understanding, including gallery guides and interpretive materials, then direct visitors to utilize these tools. Many guides speak more than one language. Guides also conduct assessments of the exhibitions and educative materials, which then inform the museum about future design of exhibitions and interpretive tools.

How do you feel this establishment brings people together?

The arts in general bring people together, but what’s really fantastic about the FAC is that we have created programs that connect people not only to the art but each other. We are an arts institution that is dedicated to serving the community, the CC campus, and the region, and the world. No matter where you are from and what background you have, we offer programming and an environment of inclusiveness that makes everyone feel welcome and represented.

What do you recommend for CC students who haven’t necessarily engaged with the FAC but are interested in getting more involved?

All students are automatic members and can enjoy the benefits of being a member. We offer many “member-only” events like artist talks, preview celebrations, tours, and more. We also offer block-break art classes at Bemis for CC students, and CC students can receive a free rush ticket to all FAC produced theatre productions. There are so many was for students to engage with the FAC all year long.

Are there any goals on the horizon for the future of the FAC?

The future of the FAC is one of promise, potential and empowerment. The FAC lives well beyond the walls of its Dale Street location – it impacts the campus, the community, the region and the world. We are focused on creating unprecedented experiences that embody innovation and creativity unrivaled in the Rocky Mountain West.Our past has positioned us for a future that underscores depth, excellence and inclusion.

What upcoming events and exhibitions do you have that we should look forward to?

World of Wearable Art™ (WOW) is coming to the museum June 22-Sept 22 and we will open the exhibition with a theatrical fashion runway show on June 22. This exhibition is going to be spectacular. WOW is an international design competition that attracts hundreds of entries, with an annual awards show that presents the finalist garments in a theatrical extravaganza that collides at the intersection of fashion and art. The 32 award-winning garments presented in this exhibition represent some of the most original, provocative, and unorthodox objects in the WOW Museum collection, demonstrating what designers from a wide variety of occupations can imagine when they are released from the constraints of “fashion” and are encouraged to see the human body as a blank canvas. We also have a few upcoming theatre productions to keep an eye out for: Hands on a Hardbody opening March 28 is based on true events and the documentary of the same name. For 10 hard-luck Texans, a new lease on life is so close they can touch it. Under a scorching sun for days on end, armed with nothing but hope, humor, and ambition, they’ll fight to keep at least one hand on a brand-new truck in order to win it. Only one winner can drive away with the American dream. And Barnum will open May 23. Based on the life of showman P.T. Barnum, this spectacle takes you to a world like none you’ve ever seen before!

The Fine Arts Center is open from Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 AM – 7:30 PM and Sundays from 10 AM – 5 PM. To find out more, visit

Written by Susie Dummit

CCE-Funded Mini Grants: Coin Cataloguing at the Money Museum

Each year, students interested in pursuing a project to engage with and support their community can apply for mini-grants from the CCE. Financed by the William P. Dean Memorial Fund, any student-led initiative which works with a community nonprofit partner to address a social need is eligible. Here, we take a closer look at one of those projects.

Helen Donovan, a Classics major, first discovered her passion for ancient economies during her First Year Experience course at the very start of her time as a CC student, when she first experienced the collections in the Money Museum’s vaults as part of a class field trip. Since then, her interest in the subject has grown; she soon discovered much of the Greco-Roman portion of the collection had been cast away, hidden from its audience’s view.

“The Money Museum has as of now lacked the funding to employ a coin cataloguer that would allow the organization to bring their extensive collection of Greco-Roman materials from the vaults of their basement into the public eye,” explains Donovan in her application for the grant. “By employing members of the CC student body to complete cataloging by means of school-accessible grants, the Colorado Springs community would have the opportunity to view an entirely new collection of coins, the Money Museum would no longer have to store an incredible academic resource in their vaults, and CC students would be granted the ability to apply for a job that would engage them intellectually with artifacts outside of the classroom.”

With the help of her professor, Richard Buxton, Donovan has had special access to these archived collections, but knowing such important artifacts exist in a private space is not enough for her. Working alongside the American Numismatic Association, she hopes to use her passion for numismatics to prioritize her mission to catalogue coin hoards as a means of bringing the currently inaccessible resources she studies to the community. Plus, following a recent research trip to Greece during fourth block, she hopes to apply her newfound knowledge and experience with the culture to her project.

“Given the size of the Money Museum’s uncatalogued collection of Greco Roman coin hoards,” declares Donovan, “My proposed project of a single employee working with the Money Museum is intended as merely a first step in an aspirational larger program.”

While the project was original scheduled to take place January through May 2019, the time frame was altered for her to start research for her project during the coming seventh block through the summer. Look out for new additions making their way into the Money Museum soon!

CCE-Funded Mini Grants: Girls Skate Club

Each year, students interested in pursuing a project to engage with and support their community can apply for mini-grants from the CCE. Financed by the William P. Dean Memorial Fund, any student-led initiative which works with a community nonprofit partner to address a social need is eligible. Here, we take a closer look at one of those projects.

CC members repping their Girls Skate Club spirit.

Jane Hatfield, a first year student, started Girls Skate Club upon her arrival at CC. Recognizing her own passions overlapping with a widely held desire from women across campus to learn the practice, she quickly sprung into action, inventing an environment where she could use her own experience to benefit others.

“As a predominantly male sport, the mission of Girl’s Skate Club is to encourage and create a safe space in which young girls can learn and practice skateboarding,” Jane explained in her application. “Through this, we hope to reject traditional stereotypes of femininity by showing young girls it’s okay to be confident, outspoken, and passionately dedicated to something as simple as a skateboard trick.”

Girls at the YMCA get creative with the club’s board painting event.

After seeing the success of the club on-campus, Jane decided to expand her sphere of influence and use her privilege as a CC student to help out children in the community. Connecting with the YMCA after school program, the Girls Skate Club now also aims to help out younger girls who have the same interest. Hosting events for the members such as spray-painting skateboards and writing cards to their role models, the positive impact which this club has had on the community is already beginning to show.

Given that the YMCA relies solely on donations, Jane plans to use her funding to take some of the financial burden off by supplying boards, helmets and knee-pads for the program. There are now 50 members of CC Girls Skate Club and around 20 girls participating in the YMCA after school program.

One member shows off her new skills in the local skate park.

“Skateboarding as an exercise, meditation, sport, and art form has given me so much,” shared Hatfield. “All of the members of Girl’s Skate hope to share our stoke for skateboarding with younger girls so that they can have the same opportunity to access such an amazing hobby.”

Interested in getting involved? Girls Skate Club meets up every Tuesday evening to skate and give skateboard lessons twice a block on Wednesdays or Thursdays from 4-6.


Written by Susie Dummit

A Closer Look at Concrete Couch

While Colorado Springs has many different initiatives to bring together the community and help  create positive change, one of the most diverse and well-known of those is Concrete Couch. Aiming to help different groups come together and work as a team on a project, their mission statement is “to work with kids and community groups to create public art, to build community, and to create environments and experiences that humanize our world.” With tons of different projects completed across the community by diverse volunteers, they seem to do just that. Here, we speak with Steve Wood, Founder and Director of the Organization, as well as Colorado College alum.

First of all, how did you end up getting involved with Concrete Couch?

I started it with other creative, teacher-y people in 2004. We actually were doing community building work together since around 1989, and it was an outgrowth of that work.

What sort of volunteers do you normally get?

EVERYBODY! We mix veterans with senior citizens, with college students, with developmentally different people, with little ones.

Who in the community do you think is impacted by this work and how?

Everyone else included in the last list. Plus at-risk teens, families at risk of homelessness, victims of domestic violence, people with cancer…We work with a lot of people and populations.

Why is it important?

There is a real lack of connectivity in our world. We are more divided now than ever, in my 56 years. We also are facing great environmental and social challenges, and working together, sharing resources, and having fun doing it seems like a great strategy to form a framework for one’s life.

What’s the main message you hope to send to people who take interest in the organization?

For all the reasons mentioned in my previous answer. Plus, we want you involved! Everyone has a lot to offer.

In what ways can people support Concrete Couch if they’d like to get involved?

Sign up for the e-newsletter so they know what’s going on. Visit us on the Second Saturday Sustainability Skillshare (a program started by CC class of 2014 Alex Drew), and see what we
do and meet some of the folks we get to know!

Can you share more details about the Artist-in-Residency Program?

Its a flexible program, for 1-4 weeks, usually with a target project developed mutually by the artist/community builder and the Couch. It’s usually unpaid, but we provide a room and other support. Although, experienced community builders are paid, so it’s a matter of experience.

Do you have any new projects coming up that we should know about?

Our House for the Couch initiative is full of potential. There is not an interest on the planet that could not be put into some concrete form of construction or exploration related to this effort. Sociology, permaculture, science and engineering, teaching, construction trades, art, music, writing, etc. See the website homepage for more info on this.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Come visit sometime! Everyone is always welcome.

You can head to the organization’s website, for more info on upcoming events and to learn more about their impact in the community.

Written by Susie Dummit.

Colorado Springs Plan to Ease Homelessness

As of early October this year, the city of Colorado Springs pitched an eight-point plan to help ease the extreme homelessness issue which we are currently facing. Within this plan, the goal would be to add 370 “low-barrier” shelter beds, change the policy of sobriety within shelters to one which is behavior-based, implement a “homelessness outreach court”, facilitate a non-profit led program to hire the homeless, hire three more Neighborhood Services officers to clean up illegal homeless camps, seek donations for a risk mitigation fund to help house homeless veterans, create HelpCOS Ambassador Teams to do homeless outreach and develop a comprehensive plan to create more affordable housing.

“I’m looking for things we can do within the law to improve not only the situation for the homeless,” announces Mayor John Suthers “But the community at large” (Colorado Springs pitches plan to ease homelessness, Colorado Springs Gazette, 10/9).

The entire project is expected to cost approximately $2 million in total and has an anticipated completion date of December 31st, 2019. HelpCOS is attempting to support fundraising for the project by taking donations through their website to go towards shelter beds.

Despite these efforts, homelessness has been a long standing issue in the Springs, and solutions to the problem may not be that simple. Anthony Siracusa, the Engaged Learning Specialist at the CCE, spoke out about the many different factors contributing to this crisis.

“This is a multifaceted and complicated issue, one which requires a distinction between houselessness and homelessness” states Siracusa. “While many are addicts, veterans and others who don’t have proper access to mental health resources, there are also the cases of LGBTQ+ youth thrown out of their homes and victims of domestic violence.”

Colorado Springs is expected to be short 26,000 units by 2019. Averaging 500 new affordable housing units a year, even with the city’s new plan for action, a couple hundred beds can’t quite fix the underlying issues which affect the growing homeless population. Although homelessness is often addressed as one singular concern, it is constructed upon many different issues fabricated into the culture of our city. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, domestic violence rates are actually rising, and are just one of the causes, along with a lack of resources for veterans, addicts and the mentally ill and LGBT+ minors who no longer have a place to stay. While local organizations like Concrete Couch and Greccio Housing are targeting some of these specific issues, there’s still a long way to go in eliminating the major causes of the housing crisis.

“You’ve never heard me say at any point we’re going to eliminate homelessness, because we’re not,” says Mayor Suthers. “But I think we owe it to our citizens, whether they’re homeless or they’re not, to do the best we can” (Colorado Springs pitches plan to ease homelessness, Colorado Springs Gazette, 10/9).

Written by Susie Dummit

Getting Involved With Week of Action

Building on last year’s Day of Service, the CCE organized a new, expanded, Week of Action, this fall. Starting with a Community Picnic for Family and Friends Weekend on September 29th, the week was jammed packed with events to help connect CC students to the community around them. The goal for the Week of Action was to provide multiple avenues for students to get involved in a way that was meaningful to them. Last year, the CCE focused on one large clean up of Monument Creek. “We then expanded our thinking to a Week of Action to be able to incorporate a variety of opportunities for students, staff and faculty to engage” states Niki Sosa, the CCE’s Community Partnership Coordinator and organizer of the Week of Action. “With a week, we are able to create a variety of diverse opportunities, while including the Creek Week Clean Up event.”

Students kick off the week by collecting donations for the Athletics Drive.

On Monday, October 1st, the CCE hosted an Engagement Fair, giving students the opportunity to meet with representatives from 17 different local non-profits and find out more about organizations in the area. This was followed with two more events that day, Habitat for Humanity Restore and Toward a Daily Anti-Racist Agenda Workshop. Habitat for Humanity Restore hosted an event for a group of volunteers to assist with projects for the organization. Hosted by CC’s own Butler Center, the Toward a Daily Anti-Racist Agenda Workshop focused on self-reflection and communication when discussing the repercussions of white supremacy in higher education. The staff showcased a handful of short films and had its participants engage in discussions about their own educational experiences, in terms of bias, identity formation and white culture.

“The first step to making a difference is starting a dialogue,” said one attendee of Monday’s workshop. With the environment provided, students were able to express their opinions and share their experiences freely, while learning from those around them.

Following this, were even more events on Tuesday, October 2nd. The on-campus Refugee Alliance hosted its blockly meeting in the Sacred Grounds, discussing issues relating to refugee assistance. This event was followed by an event, hosted by CC library’s Special Collections staff, titled “Wikipedia Skews White and Male. Let’s Change that Together.”. Within this program, the systematic bias and under-representation of non-Western nor white male populations were addressed and projects to counter this issue were introduced. The group also had the chance to hear from Professor Rebecca Barnes about her work with the Women in STEM project. Events were also held off–campus, including a Concrete Couch Clean-up and a CONO Central Downtown Neighborhood Chat. The Concrete Couch Clean Up was an opportunity to help clean and create impactful art structures. Concrete Couch is an organization from the Pikes Peak region which works to bring people together through constructing art and other local projects. The Downtown Neighborhood Chat gave members of the community a chance to discuss neighborhood issues and solutions with city council members Jill Gaebler and Don Knight. Through initiatives like this, the government is more closely connected to its people and everyone’s voices can be heard.

The Refugee Alliance holds its blockly meeting in Shove Chapel’s Sacred Grounds.

On Wednesday, October 3rd, TIAA and Leadership Pikes Peak partnered to sponsor and host the LPP staff event, “Experience the Springs”. This gave CC staff the ability to meet with community leaders and explore parts of their own city in a new way. Later that day was the screening of the documentary, Mixed Match. Hosted by the WRC and the CCE, this film reflects on the difficulty which mixed race blood cancer patients face when looking for bone marrow donors and the significance of race in the medical industry. It tells an important yet often unknown story and forces viewers to confront issues that they wouldn’t normally hear about.

Quite fittingly, this screening was followed with a Blood Drive on Thursday, the 4th. Bonfil’s Blood Center and Be The Match came to CC to take blood donations and sign individuals up as potential bone marrow donors. Later that evening was the Fall Harvest Banquet, where the CC Student Farm showcased their locally grown produce through an extravagant meal. Being a ticketed event, the proceeds benefited the student farm’s mission of promoting sustainable local food production in our region.

Exploring the city during LPP’s “Experience the Springs”

The week wrapped up with a trio of volunteer opportunities over the weekend: Greccio Housing Beautification Projects on Friday, Creek Week Clean Up on Saturday, and Marian House Soup Kitchen, Sunday morning. With these action-oriented opportunities, students were given the chance to help local communities in different ways.

With 9 intra-campus partners, 11 community organizations and more than 250 CC community members involved, the Week of Action touched upon all bases in the community and was successful in connecting our campus to its surrounding world.

“Big change starts here on the community level,” says Sosa. “It’s in knowing your community and taking action to make the changes you want to see.”

Written by Susie Dummit