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Landscapes and Living

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“The boy lay with his eyes wide open. He saw before him a long stream of people, a great dark multitude, that moved in one direction; then they came to the dark edge of the world and went over. He saw them passing on before him, and there was nothing that could stop them. He thought of how that stream had rolled on through all the long ages of the past–how the old Greeks and Romans had gone over; the countless millions of China and India, they were going over now. Since he had come to bed, how many had gone! “

excerpt from The Story of an African Farm by Olive Schreiner

The insightful comments in response to my last post have kept me thinking about humans interacting with and within the landscape.  If there’s one book that has most influenced me it’s The Story of an African Farm, written by Ralph Iron, Olive Schreiner’s pseudonym.  I read the book as a young child and it has been a touchstone throughout my life, including the source of my daughter’s name!  As a South African, Victorian, and woman, Schreiner wrote to define her sense of place literally and culturally within an unforgiving landscape.  She wrote against the confines of the hypocritical social expectations for women of her times and she paid intense attention to the harsh beauty of the semi-arid landscape she and her characters inhabited–a landscape that humans had wrestled with for eons.  The political, social, and environmental struggles of her times are echoed in the challenges of the physical geography that Schreiner loved so deeply.  Schreiner writes about a country fraught with the conditions of colonization–expansion and exploitation–in her version of an ” African Western.

Schreiner's Karoo landscape, South Africa

Several archaeological sites are a part of Soapstone Prairie.  The Lindenmeier site was excavated by the Smithsonian Institute in the 1930s when artifacts from the Folsom culture (along with the unique fluted point called the Folsom Point) were uncovered.  CSU archaeology professor Jason LaBelle says that the site contained “the best and earliest decorated beads in North America.” These beads are considered some of the earliest examples of objects decorated by humans in North America–very early signs of art making.  Northern Coloradoans can claim to have been making art for the longest time in North America! You can learn more of this layered history from the Fort Collins Museum’s Soapstone Prairie Oral History Project–where collected stories illuminate the tale.

City Channel 14 Soapstone Prairie Oral History Project VIDEO

Soapstone Prairie Natural Area

Soapstone Prairie Natural Area

As of June 6, 2009, Soapstone Prairie and Red Mountain Open Space is open to the public and the adjoining areas are a magnificent place to contemplate the expansive time of human aspiration in our area.  The space is also a Laramie Mountains to Plains conservation effort, where a corridor of protected lands links plains to the mountains.  Fort Collins and Larimer County dedicated open space sales taxes, while Great Outdoors Colorado, The Nature Conservancy, Legacy Land Trust and private landowners provided funding to make preservation and access possible.  The area is also habitat for numerous threatened plants and wildlife species, including pronghorn, elk, swift fox, burrowing owls, and golden eagles.  Red Mountain provides 8 miles of trails for hikers, bikers and equestrians which connect to another 35+ miles of trail on the adjacent Soapstone Prairie Natural Area.  Hours are dawn to dusk, March through November. To protect the fragile wildlife, dogs are not allowed (not even in cars).  The cultural heritage at Soapstone Prairie is of world importance, especially since excavations provided broader understanding of the ancient lives of PaleoIndians who up until then weren’t considered very complex.  To respect and preserve that heritage, all visitors must stay on designated paths at all times.

What an amazing cultural treasures and resources right in our “neighborhood!”  I hope visits to Soapstone Prairie will help instill my children with the same sense of time and respect for humanity that Olive Schreiner wrote about.  I’ve heard that there’s some possibility that Soapstone Prairie could be designated a World Heritage site in their lifetime–as they make their journey to the edge of their world!

Soapstone Prairie is 25 miles north of Fort Collins.  From Fort Collins, take Hwy 1/Terry Lake Road to County Road 15 north (towards Waverly).  From CR 15, turn north onto Rawhide Flats Road and continue north to the entrance station.  When travelling on gravel roads, observing the speed limit will prevent dust!

Everything is connected!

Thank you for the great Karoo photo Jomilo75

Deborah Lombard

The Politics of Open and Shut: Immigrant Tales.

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There is much talk in globalization circles that we are moving closer and closer to the eradication of the nation-state and the rise of a global society and world system. It would be easy to say that those who propose such ideas are fantasists, yet there is no doubt that the world faces global issues, on a global scale, with no easy global solutions at hand. Many of these global issues have been wrought by the movements of people, their belongings, their cultures, their food and their homes. It’s funny what kinds of cultural diversity we celebrate and which ones we deem catastrophic. The Politics of Open and Shut.

Last year, as I tended to my garden at the University Village, my Indian neighbor was educating me on what he was growing in his plot. I asked him where he got the seeds to grow the spices and vegetables fundamental to his native cuisine. He said, “oh you know, my friend’s cousin sent them from India and we all shared them around.” He then told me how to cook them, what they are used with in the cuisine of Goa where he was from and later that afternoon, I went home and wrote my Indian colleague in New Zealand to learn some more. The Politics of OPEN.

This weekend, my colleague shared a story with me about a scholar who had lived in the Village for several years with his family (3 children, one an infant), and who at the end of his stay had tried to return to his home in Gaza, only to arrive in Egypt to find he did not have appropriate documentation and the border was closed under current circumstances. The family was then sent to Austria who did not know what to do and sent them to Jordan where they remain in a refugee camp and hope to return home one day. The Politics of SHUT.

Seeds travel. Stories travel. Images travel. People travel. Homes travel and sometimes unravel. My thesis research was conducted on the border of Arizona and Mexico, in a small town called Douglas on the US side and Agua Prieta on the Mexican side. Every day I would conduct fieldwork at the local high school, the soup kitchen and the post office (amongst other places). I watched people come across that border to get their mail, do their shopping, get something to eat and go to school. Then I saw them go home. My friends would tell me of the tunnel that ran under the border where drugs ran both ways. Holes you could drive a truck through. Packages of food and clothes left by charitable folks on either side for those who risk their lives to cross. They would also tell me of shootings in the alleys and disappearances; always calm, always matter of fact. This is what it means to live on the border, they would say. Borders. Outer edges. Lines. La Frontera…where you walk the line between life and death, figuratively and literally.

I would get on a bus to travel back to Tempe to see my advisor. “Make sure you carry your documents”, she would say. See, I’m an immigrant too. At Bisbee, or before, the bus would stop for a siren. Armed men would get on the bus, we would all produce our tickets and our papers; those of us who had them, that is. Every time, 3 or 4 people would leave the bus and get into a van, arms handcuffed behind their backs. I would watch them from my window as we drove away. Me, with my white face, shaking like a leaf.

Immigrant tales. They are as diverse as the people from whose tongues they roll. I admire people who have a clear position on immigration because my immigrant life has no clear position. That’s what makes discussing immigration difficult. But on Tuesday, April 21, at 7pm at the Lincoln Center, we hope to try and hear diverse voices on this most human and global of topics — the Politics of Open and Shut. Frank Sharry, of America’s Voice,  a nonprofit communications organization dedicated to winning immigration reform and previously of the National Immigration Forum of Washington DC, one of the nation’s leading immigration policy organizations will engage our community in a lively dialogue on fresh perspectives on immigration as the 5th presenter in Beet Street’s Thought Leader series. Frank Sharry, himself, while pro-immigration reform, is the first to admit there is no easy answer to the country’s immigration challenges and he is accustomed to his views being contested. Described by some as a common sense voice of reason and by others as a controversial radical, we hope you will join us to entertain your brain and make up your own mind about this extraordinary speaker and topic. For more information about Frank Sharry and other Finding Home events, visit Beet Street.

We would love to hear what you think of the event afterwards! Just post a comment below…:)

With thanks to Omar Omar, dlemieux, nathangibbs and _fleMma_ for their wonderful images!

Home is where they understand you.

Kirsten Broadfoot

Herstory: Celebrating Women in March!

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They use 20,000 words a day, represent 70% of the 1.2 billion people living in poverty worldwide, and own only 1% of the world’s assets. They control $14 trillion in assets but one year out of college, earn 20% less than their colleagues. They do 2/3 of the world’s work and receive only 10% of the world’s income and represent 1/3 of working journalists. Who are they?

March is Women’s History Month and on March 8 in particular, the global community celebrates International Women’s Day. In the US alone, there will be over 150 events celebrating women and in China, Russia and Bulgaria, March 8 is a public holiday. How will you celebrate the women of your family and community this weekend and over the month?

At CSU, on Friday March 6 the celebration of International Women’s Day begins at 9am in the Duhesa Lounge in the Lory Student Center with a Women’s Art and Culture Fair with displays of artifacts, art pieces and clothing from all over the world. Come and decorate or write a postcard to thank a woman in your own life that has inspired or changed you as well as learn about famous international women and their inspiring causes around the planet.

The Fair lasts until 3pm and then later on that evening at 7pm, also in the Lory Student Center there will be a film screening of Inch’ Allah Dimanche, a film on the experiences of a North-African immigrant family in France. This film incorporates issues of gender inequality, domestic violence, immigration experience, and xenophobic prejudice. A brief introduction about the film will be included to give an educational reference to the film. There will also be an optional discussion will follow the movie.The movie is free and open to all ages, genders and cultures in the community!

Over at Bas Bleu on Pine Street, the entire month will showcase women’s impact on the world beginning with “Dancing in Combat Boots: Women of World War 2 Speak Out”. Excerpts and anecdotes from this award winning book by Teresa Funke will be read by CSU Theatre students under the direction of Bas Bleu Artistic Director Wendy Ishii and Colorado State University Theatre Instructor, Amy Scholl.The show starts at 730pm on March 10 and tickets are $10 adult and $7 student/senior.

Later on in the month, from March 20 to 22, Bas Bleu will also present “Cups” a supportive one woman show from Joni Sheram, revealing the history of women through their undergarments. Shows start at 7:30pm and tickets are $16 adults and $13 students/seniors with the Sunday matinee at 2:30pm and $13!

Finally, on March 29 at 2:30pm renowned local director Morris Burns brings a panel of ladies “of a certain age” to the stage for a journey through 80 years of women’s history (boys, toys, jobs, education, technology, marriage, war and politics etc). Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students/seniors  for “Life begins at 80-Ladies Day”.

And just in case you would like a “be our guest spring special”, answer the following questions correctly by Noon on Friday March 6th (that’s tomorrow!) and you could win a ticket package to one of these shows. The questions are as follows:

1. What is the name of one of Teresa Funke’s other books?

2. What city is Joni Sheram’s comedy act based out of?

3. What was the name of Morris Burns’ other production at Bas Bleu?

Answer all three for your ticket package for Bas Bleu’s performances. E-mail your winning answers (with your telephone number!) to info [at] by NOON on Friday March 6, 2009. Winner will be notified via email by 3pm. GOOD LUCK!

Ticket packages for all three shows are available for $30 & $20 student/seniors. Group packages and single tickets are available online!

Remembering her-stories!

Kirsten Broadfoot



Check out: Thought Leaders Series and Finding Home Series