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Archive for the ‘education’ tag

AIR Tour

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Our recently launched website, Arts Incubator of the Rockies (AIR), has been growing rapidly—now incorporating almost 600 members. The website includes a variety of great resources designed for all artists and art-based organizations, not only for inspiration and motivation, but also for connecting and succeeding. This regional arts incubator is a wonderful opportunity for artists to utilize many tools in one convenient website.

Recently, we have added a helpful and comprehensive website tour to the homepage. This tour, guided by our own Executive Director, Beth Flowers, walks viewers through the website features and functionality. If you have never visited the website before, have casually browsed it, or have recently become a member, this tour is the perfect chance to learn the power of the website and how to use it.

We are still in the midst of our membership drive and are recruiting as many people as possible. There is no force to commit. Though paid members have access to more features and benefits, free memberships still include a great base of available resources. So please, visit the website, and take the tour to help get you immersed in AIR.

Fresh AIR

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The Arts Incubator of the Rockies (AIR) is a new program created in collaboration with Beet Street, Colorado State University, and the City of Fort Collins. But, instead of just Colorado based, it is a 10 state regional arts incubator program with a beautifully crafted website as its foundation.

The AIR website provides a place where artists can share and get feedback on their work, collaborate with other artists, look for job opportunities in the Opportunity Center, watch inspirational videos, and read helpful articles in the Knowledge Center. Also offered, are the Shift and Evolve workshops, which were generated to develop and expand individuals’ confidence and success in their professional journeys. Overall, It is an amazing site centered around and specifically constructed for all kinds of artists and art organizations.

There is an option to be a free or paid member (added benefits and features for paid members), and with paid memberships starting at $50 annually, the benefits outweigh the cost. AIR combines marketing opportunity, a constructive artist community, and the convenience of multiple tools for artists in one place.

The more members who join AIR, the deeper the benefits and the higher the quality the website becomes. If you haven’t already, check out the website and all its amazing features, become a member, and tell all your friends.

Weekend Spotlight: Half Moon Arts

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Alicia Randall, 17, works on painting her piece entitled 'Dragon'

Bright colors, towering animal faces, and wood chips lined College Avenue this weekend, while as many as 4 artists worked away with Half Moon Arts. The local non-profit, run by Rose Moon, works with at-risk youth, ages 13-21, to create an environment both artistic and imaginative.

The program utilizes the process of making totem poles to inspire the participants. From a log of wood, they carve out a unique world, followed by a heaping amount of colorful paint. Creativity is highly encouraged, helping to promote self-esteem and healing. The work produced by these amazing young people sells through local events, allowing for feelings of accomplishment and success. The organization has been commissioned to make totem poles for many organizations in town as well, such as the Fort Collins Cat Rescue.

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A member of ARCINDA teaches 3-year-old, Torin, to play the demung.

The non-profit, musical and dance performance group, ARCINDA, joined the ranks of Streetmosphere’s talented artists when they played in Oak Street Plaza on Sunday. The group of eight performers nestled themselves cozily into a corner of the plaza—they even brought their own carpets to sit on—and brought the sounds of faraway Indonesia to Fort Collins, Colo.

ARCINDA’s mission is to do just that: to combine the eastern and western worlds by performing and educating people about the arts and culture of Indonesia. They do so using a variety of heavy, wooden instruments called Javanese Gamelan, which they play while other members of the group sing and dance in typical Indonesian fashion.

Many of the eight members that played at Oak Street Plaza on Sunday had their own Javanese Gamelan. These instruments grabbed the audience’s attention purely based on their immensity and ornately carved wooden structures, not to mention their uniqueness to western culture. Of the Javanese Gamelan on site, there were two gongs, four demung, a bonang, and a kendang.

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Oom-pa-pa, Oom-pa-pa!

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Fort Collins Four Tuba Quartet: Sam Arrieta, Chris Krueger, Cody Krueger, and Zach Garcia (pictured left to right)

Comprised of professional musicians from the Fort Collins area, the Fort Collins Four Tuba Quartet embodies everything that is Fort Collins music.

The Fort Collins Four Tuba Quartet has performed several Streetmosphere performances this summer and has certainly gathered a lot of local attention. Performing at sites such as Moe’s Original Barbeque and Oak Street Plaza, the Quartet appeals to a wide variety of audiences by playing all types of genres: polka, jazz, classical, ceremonial, and even some modern pop. 

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Lifelong learning, lifelong happiness

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Sometimes, it feels as if there are not enough hours in the day. I particularly feel this way after a long day at work, or a busy weekend full of housework and errands. And when this happens, I usually find myself lounging on the couch for hours watching the television. I’m glad to have some rest, but still feeling slightly unproductive. Though I can be running around for what seems like all day, when I finally get free time I sometimes wish I did something for me, something I truly enjoy. It’s a feeling that I desire that I am not sure HGTV completely provides.

Here in Fort Collins, we have so many opportunities to pursue our interests. And it is well worth taking advantage of these opportunities. Doing a quick Google search on “benefits of hobbies” generates tons of articles, all praising the positive aspects of pursuing our interests. You can probably imagine what the list might be: hobbies reduce stress, lower blood pressure, stimulate brain activity and thus improving memory and concentration, and simply just have general health benefits. And there are many things you can do to receive these benefits, whether you enjoy nature, art, music, or crafts.

For me, I feel like I am improving myself every time that I learn something. The knowledge that comes from even the smallest things, like learning about a new animal in one of our natural areas, make me feel like I have accomplished something. It is important to always be challenging ourselves to do new things, and learn new things. Working your mind is not just about being healthy; it is about feeling enriched personally. So when you think about your “me time,” when you do get it, what do you do that is really for you? And let’s be clear, checking email does not really count as a hobby, though it can keep you in touch with friends and family. Doing what you love is essential, and being able to use your time outside of work to explore those things that you love is very rewarding.

On March 1, the City of Fort Collins released the Spring 2010 Recreator, a comprehensive guide to recreational activities in Fort Collins. Here you will find ways to engage in whatever it is you love, from sports to arts to cooking to pretty much anything else you can think of. Special programs are available for youth and seniors as well. At the moment the Recreator is only available online, but you can begin signing up for classes on March 11.

While the Recreator will give you more than enough classes and activities to fill your time, there are many other opportunities to suit your needs throughout Fort Collins. It is all a matter of looking and asking. Art galleries and studios often hold their own classes (the Center for Fine Art Photography, for example, holds regular workshops and the Colorado Coalition of the Arts has a lecture series). Depending upon your interests, you can call up a group associated with your field and it is likely that they will have class, workshops, lectures, and events available (Try the Northern Colorado Writers Studio if you’re literary or the Gardens on Spring Creek if you are into cultivating). With just a little research, you can find groups that love the same things as you do. This is another way that we can be enriched by our hobbies: through community interaction.

I know the couch is tempting, and at times it is even necessary for a bit of relaxation. But we all need something that is our own, something that improves us and enhances us. What will you do to get out and explore your hobbies in Fort Collins? Spread the word about great classes and activities to get everyone involved!

Learning about ourselves and others through books: Book clubs in Fort Collins

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Azar Nafisi, in her bestselling memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran, says of her time reading books with her Iranian students, “I am amazed at how much we learned without noticing it. We were, to borrow from Nabokov, to experience how the ordinary pebble of ordinary life could be transformed into a jewel through the magic eye of fiction.”

It is always rewarding to read a good book, to find something in written language that speaks to us and our understanding of the world. But this experience is enhanced, especially for Nafisi, by sharing those discoveries in reading with friends. This experience is something that you cannot get just by reading a book on your own. You need to share your thoughts, your experience, with others.

Here in Fort Collins, there are many ways for you to share your love of books. Book clubs are a great way to get involved in both a book and your community, sharing the impact of a great work of literature with others.  Old Firehouse Books in Old Town gives you tons of opportunities to participate in book clubs, no matter what your taste in literature. The bookstore currently offers five book clubs, including a “Strange Worlds Book Club” for science fiction lovers, an “Open Book Club” if you want to learn the most classic and popular books of our time, and even the “Cooking the Books” book club, for those who would rather spend more time in the kitchen than curled up on the couch with a novel.

Want to put together your own book club? Not a problem. If you have a group already discussing books, or if you want to build up a small reading group, you can register your book club at Old Firehouse Books. Not only will the bookstore make sure that each book you study is available, each book will be discounted 20% to book club members. Not only can you get your new club organized, your members will be able to participate for a good price.

If you are looking for a more dynamic book club experience, you do not have to restrict yourself to just written pages. Starting this year, Lyric Cinema Café is holding a monthly book and movie club. This club will explore literary works, and the Lyric will show these books’ film adaptations on the fourth Tuesday of each month. This gives the reader a multi-dimensional view of one story, moving the experience of narrative beyond the page and into new visual mediums.

Whether you are part of a club organized by a bookstore or other organization, or if you just meet a few friends in your living room every once in a while, sharing a good book with others leads to an enhancement of the reading experience. Hearing the ideas of others, while at the same time finding out how universal written works can be, gives a whole new perspective to reading a book.

Azar Nafisi used literary works to bring together a group of women in post-revolutionary Iran. Through books, these women were able to discover something about themselves and their collective lives. Literature gave them a lens through which they could understand themselves. Through book clubs it is possible for us, in our own way, to come together. In sharing a book, we can share a collective experience that is both enlightening and memorable. Make sure to utilize some of the many resources our town has available to get involved in this unique reading experience.

Connecting across a big world: Uniting cultures through entertainment

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How would you define diversity? It seems like a simple question, and I’m sure will provide a straightforward answer if you looked it up. But can one sentence or two really describe the vast diversity in the world today? How do we wrap our heads around the idea of multiple cultures? Considering the huge realm of cultural experience, understanding diversity becomes a daunting task.

However, it is not something worth ignoring. In our busy lives it can be hard to see the world from a perspective other than our own. Often we find ourselves interested in other cultures and wanting to know about them, but not always having the time or resources to do so. Then, all of a sudden, we see something like the disaster in Haiti and everything looks different. Our eyes open up to what is out there in the rest of the world, and we see ways in which we can interact and be helpful. Our response to needs around the world, when we are made aware of them, is outstanding. Being aware of diversity, even in the most unhappy times, can bring about positive things.

This weekend, Colorado State University is hosting the first annual Uhuru Film Festival, offering a chance to peer into different cultures and hopefully become engaged with them. This festival embodies diversity in all forms. Breaking traditional boundaries of film festival genre, the UFF presents a variety of art including documentary, fictional narratives, and shorts. Music and books are also being promoted, demonstrating that cultural expression is created through multiple mediums. And though the UFF features African artists, do not expect a one-sided view of the African experience. A political activist couple returning from exile, a taxicab driver, an American seeking her heritage, and an Elvis impersonator are just a few of the characters that will be followed in the course of these films. In every way, the UFF shows us the diversity of human experience. Displaying them all in one weekend offers us a powerful way of learning about others and their lives.

I have always found film to be a powerful medium for both entertainment and education. The ability of a director to tell a story, so that the experience of the characters becomes so completely clear and relevant, has always inspired me in some way. But these stories are so real, and are so telling of a cultural experience, they really speak for themselves. Like a big news story from around the world, these tales reach out and ask us to open our eyes to the experience of another.

To kick things off for the UFF, Kenyan author Ngugi wa Thiong’o will be reading from his latest novel Wizard of the Crow at the Reader’s Cove Bookstore this Thursday. It is a great opportunity to meet a world renowned author and hear a touching tale of cultural experience.

 Described as a “global epic from Africa,” this novel deals with the rise of globalization, and how we are all living in a world that is getting bigger and bigger. Thiong’o understands that globalization potentially causes divisions in different cultures, a result of many factors including the simple fact of population growth. At the same time, however, technology has made it possible to reach across the globe in seconds, allowing us to be a part of other cultures quite easily. This gives us a chance to be involved in the lives of others.

“We are all connected,” Thiong’o said, “we are each other’s keeper no matter where we are or come from.”

The many events presented by the UFF will certainly show us a new and powerful way of looking at other cultures. Once we learn about different experiences, we can see the many ways in which we can participate in dialogue, involve ourselves in aid, and ultimately make our vast and diverse world seem a little smaller.

Details on the Uhuru Film Festival:
When: Friday, February 5-Sunday, February 7, 10:00am-9:00pm (film times vary)
Where: Lory Student Center, Colorado State University
Safari yote (entire event):$35.00 General public $25.00 Students
Siku moja (one day):$13.00 General Public $8.00 Students
Moja Pass (single film):$5.00 General public $3.00 Students
Full Schedule of Films can be found here at

Details on the Ngugi wa Thiong’o reading

When: Thursday, February 4, 6:30pm
Where: Reader’s Cove Bookstore, 1001 E. Harmony Rd.
Cost: Free
Books are now available at the bookstore. Purchase before copies run out and get your book signed after the book reading.

‘Hot Mulled Cider’ by Beth MacKenzie

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A few weeks ago the folks here asked me to write a guest post on what “harvest” means to me. “Harvest” and the Fall season have taken on very different meanings for me each time I’ve moved to a different place.

I went to college in New England, where people looked forward to the leaves turning colors almost as much as the forthcoming holiday season. On the evening news, the weather report would include information about peak “leaf-peeping” times for towns all along the Eastern Seaboard. I spent weekends taking walks through the changing foliage, picking apples in orchards and drinking hot mulled cider during the cold evenings.

After college, I lived in DC, where fall is also anticipated, but mostly as a relief from the oppressively hot summer. After a few months of darting from air-conditioned building to air-conditioned building and trying to keep my clothes from sticking to me, I finally started to enjoy being outside, when the cooler weather of September rolled around. I also managed to make a couple of wine tasting trips to the local vineyards.

I’ve only been living in Colorado for a year or so, so I’m still learning about fall here. However, one thing I’ve noticed is that the weather seems much less predictable then on the East Coast. Sometimes I think the daily temperature is determined via a roulette wheel.

There is one thing that I always think of when I think of “Harvest”, however, regardless of where I am, and that is apples, or more specifically, apple cider. When I was growing up, we knew it was fall when my mom would pick up apple cider from local farms. The robust flavor of apple cider just says ‘fall’. Even better than apple cider is hot mulled cider. Hot mulled cider is the drink my mom would make for the holidays and other special occasions. Not only did this drink satisfy a crowd, the aroma would infuse the entire house with its luscious scent. This is a recipe I know we will be repeating as the weather gets colder!

Hot Mulled Cider

First, you will need a crock pot. Fill it with apple cider – preferably unpasturized. Then, and this is important, add 1 to 2 cinnamon sticks and an orange cut into wide slices and studded with cloves(add the cloves before you cut the orange, it’s much easier that way). Turn the crock pot on high at first, and then reduce to Low to keep warm as guests help themselves. It’s not a scientific recipe, but it is definitely satisfying! Happy Harvest!

Beth MacKenzie is MackAttack on her healthy living food blog She and her husband of (almost!) one year have recently moved to Colorado and are exploring the state through the restaurants and local grocery stores.

Beet Street’s Homegrown Blog

Inspired by the Harvest Season, and our Homegrown Fort Collins program, we have been featuring the Homegrown Blog over the last couple of weeks.  Look for daily stories, comments and recipies about community harvest, and cooking with local food.  We are opening this special edition of the Beet Street Blog to our community, and will feature a different guest blogger everyday.  Let’s celebrate the bounty of Northern Colorado!

The Meaning of Food by Christine Driscoll

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The Meaning of Food My life experience with food has been a roundabout passage, leading me full-circle through different phases. I was raised by parents who, aside from being wonderful cooks, firmly believed in the importance of feeding their children healthy meals made completely from scratch. Having grown up on an island, where healthy food was not prevalent, I realize my brother and I ate better than most, if not all, of our friends. Nevertheless, I did not appreciate it at the time and cooking was certainly not something I enjoyed.

I came to the States for college and with my newfound freedom, quickly took to a much different style of eating. Cafeteria food, frozen dinners, and chain restaurants took the thinking out of eating and became my way. Needless to say, I gained the freshman-fifteen in a matter of no time! During these years, I worked as a waitress in a Sysco-supplied restaurant and then a French bistro. I also surrounded myself with friends who were strictly meat and potatoes people. This period allowed me to enjoy a variety of new and different foods, although my awareness was not focused on what happened to each bite after I swallowed.

It is said our taste buds develop when we are young and eventually, we return to the foods we were fed as children. This certainly turned out to be true in my case. For me, all it took was a little self-exploration, combined with being conscious of the true needs of the human body (I am a CMT with a BA in Kinesiology). It became apparent to me that the foods I ate had had a direct influence on my sense of wellbeing. As I became more body-aware, I found it was not just organic or natural labeled foods that made the difference, but whole foods prepared in a way that preserved the integrity of each ingredient.

I am now continually told I am a picky eater, as people can’t understand why I politely decline food they normally wouldn’t think twice about eating. My response is simple: I choose to eat that which comes from the earth and retains its essence, as nature intended. Like all other living organisms, we must consume to function, so why not eat foods our bodies were originally designed to process? Eating a bag of Doritos may provide me with energy, but it’s not a quality of energy conducive to real nutrition. I live by the Mantra: “I give to the Earth and the Earth gives back to me.” This exemplifies my style of cooking, as I simply want to get as much out of my food as I can. One’s body is truly a vehicle, designed to take one where he or she desires to go. My advice then, is to explore the way one feels after eating different foods. Track common ailments and see if there are any patterns or missing links to be found. I used to get headaches almost daily, but once I started to cut down on wheat, they declined rapidly! My digestion also improved dramatically by eliminating processed foods. Optimal health begins in the intestines, which rely on the foods we put through them.

It’s funny to reflect on the past and where our experiences have taken us. At 26, I have come a long way in discovering what is “food” and how it affects me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I now live to eat and eat to live, but in a whole new way. I have been living in Colorado for just under 2 years and every morning I wake up thankful. I can honestly say my beauty radiates from the inside out. These feelings are very satisfying and are much due to my explorations with food. I hope I have inspired you to look for the deeper message and to consider what is your meaning of food?

-Christine Driscoll

Beet Street’s Homegrown Blog

Inspired by the Harvest Season, and our upcoming Homegrown Fort Collins program, we will be featuring the Homegrown Blog for the next couple of weeks.  Look for daily stories, comments and recipies about community harvest, and cooking with local food.  We are opening this special edition of the Beet Street Blog to our community, and will feature a different guest blogger everyday.  Let’s celebrate the bounty of Northern Colorado!