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Picturing Change

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Dr. Gary Huibregtse of CSU

There probably aren’t enough adjectives to convey the speed at which technology is changing and growing. Trust me, I used my amazing, blindingly fast, infinite online re-sources to check. In addition to computers, communications and cars – wait, we still don’t have flying cars – Dr. Gary Huibregtse will tell you just how much the field of photography has advanced in recent years.
As department coordinator of photography at Colorado State University for the past 26 years, Huibregtse has experienced the changes. This Wednesday, Jan. 26, he will present “The More Things Change” for the monthly Art Café at Avo’s from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
“The rest of that sentence is ‘the more things stay the same,’” he adds, explaining that the same holds true for the medium of image making. While the advances in the past ten to twelve years are monumental, the professor feels photography has remained true as a means of recording our visual history.
“There’s still a relationship between a photograph and the world we see. It’s phenomenal,” he says. He also relishes the expanding capabilities for publishing photography.

In spite of the rapidly increasing changes in digital imaging, computer platforms, and photo editing software,

Image near Green River, WY, taken by Huibregtse.

Huibregtse harbors concerns that the storage of image data is not keeping pace with the technology. On a personal scale, we used to worry about res-cuing decades of photo albums if our house was on fire. Now, we fear a complete computer crash that could potentially wipe out proof of our children’s formative years. Okay, maybe that’s just me. (Note to self: buy a new backup drive immediately.)

Dr. Huibregtse is currently showing his own photographic artwork — and undoubtedly storing it more effectively than I – at the Robischon Gallery in Denver while teaching CSU’s art students about change and history. As we all know, they’re inextricably entwined.
Are you keeping up with change or do you like things to remain the same? And wouldn’t a flying car in Ft. Collins be fabulous?

Written by Susan Richards

January 25th, 2011 at 11:40 am

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.

Arts in Education: Fostering student development through amazing performances

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From February 24 through 26, there will be a showing of the play Almost Maine in Fort Collins. Written by John Cariani and set in the fictitious Maine town of Almost, this play follows one extraordinary night in the lives of nineteen townspeople. Named one of the top ten plays of 2004-2005, it is bound to be a great show.

What is more exciting about this production, though, is not just the play itself but the people putting it on. The students at Poudre High School have taken on the challenge of performing Almost Maine, and the payoff is sure to be huge. Cariani, an accomplished actor himself, made sure his play was both challenging and rewarding to its performers. This particular production is no exception, as only six students will be playing the roles of all nineteen characters. This really demonstrates their talent, hard work, and dedication, their young age aside. Considered the school’s “varsity” show, Almost Maine certainly boasts a lot of talent.

We know that the arts can have a huge impact on students. Learning to be creative, to express oneself through a positive medium, and to work as a team fosters both professional and social growth. But involvement in the arts also helps students out academically. According to a study by the National School Boards Association and Americans for the Arts in 2004, the arts are vital to education completion and contribute to a rising in student achievement. Students who participated in the arts were found to be 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, 3 times more likely to be elected to class office within their schools, and 3 times more likely to win an award for school attendance, to name just a few points.

Studies also show that early involvement in the arts is helpful, too. And thanks to Suna Thomas, middle school students in Fort Collins can be active in the arts through music as well. In November, we found out about a band Suna helped form at Kinard Middle School that was creating places for kids to play instruments not always covered in school bands and orchestras (http://beetstreet.org/blog/?p=1180). With a unique blend of guitars, bass, drums, and electric instruments, the Kinard Middle School House Band has gained some serious popularity, playing at a Colorado Eagles game and at Art Lab Fort Collins. Suna has now founded the Kids Create the Music Foundation, an organization that helps encourage music in schools on the student’s terms. Allowing the students themselves to pursue their craft and learn through the arts is an amazing accomplishment.

Both at the junior high and high school level, students are getting more involved in the arts. They are challenging themselves in their own disciplines, creating music, performances, and art with as much talent as any professional. And while students gain advantages through arts education, they are also playing a vital role in the Fort Collins community. The entertainment and opportunity they provide for viewers and peers is fostering continuous growth in our town.

Students often go on after graduation to become accomplished in many professions, and few will follow careers in the arts. However, what they are learning and contributing right now through their involvement in the arts is invaluable. It is what helps build the accomplished future that they strive for.

Be sure to check out Almost Maine:
Where: Poudre High School, 201 S. Impala St.
When: February 24-26, 7:00pm
Tickets: $8 regular price, $6 student price.
Visit http://www.Showtix4u.com or call (970) 488-6212 for more ticket info.

For more information on the Kinard Middle School House Band and Kids Create the Music Foundation, please visit www.kidscreatethemusic.org.

A New Way of Looking at Climate Change

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It seems that our lives are full of information on climate change these days. Commercials tell us what cars have the smallest carbon footprint, and there are reusable bags for sale at every store from Whole Foods to Old Navy. We listen to our nation’s leaders on the news, on the radio, on Oprah, as we are given the latest information on how the world is being changed by global warming.

And it is great to be informed. I remember as a kid being told to plant a tree or recycle my soda cans on Earth Day, and the discussion was over. Americans today seemed more in tune to the latest advancements than ever before. At the same time, though, how much do we really understand about climate change? Just think about the images we see and the words we hear: polar ice caps, solar and wind technology, clean coal. Some scientists talk about the climate change process in terms of decades rather than years. Unless you are an environmental engineer, you may wonder (as I do) how exactly individual lives, right now, are being affected by all this. We have heard the big words and topical arguments in the media, but how much do we really know about what climate change is doing to the lives of others?

The movie Climate Refugees looks at the issue of global warming in a whole new way. Utilizing experts and politicians as well as real people around the globe, this film shows how people are living with climate change. As I did a little research on this documentary, I was amazed to find that many people today are losing their homes, as their land becomes completely unlivable in a changing climate.

“We are putting a human face to climate change,” said director Michael Nash. “We traveled around the world, from the islands of the South Pacific to the coast of Alaska interviewing refugees on the run. Our interviews with refugees, scholars, and politicians describe the collision of overpopulation, lack of resources and our changing climate that is creating what is quickly becoming humankind’s greatest challenge.”

According to the makers of the film, the U.N. has now reported that more people have been displaced due to environmental disasters than from war. With no current action in place to offer aid to refugees, millions are left looking for new homes.

Luckily, word is spreading is about this problem. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change commissioned Nash and others to create a film that represents the individuals who have experienced the worst of the climate change crisis. Climate Refugees will be shown at the Convention later this year in Copenhagen, but an exclusive university screening of this film will be held at Colorado State University this week.

The viewing of this film will be held at Lory Student Center Theatre on the CSU campus this Sunday, November 15, at 6pm. Tickets are free and open to the public, and can only be picked up at the CSU Box Office, located in the Lory Student Center.

This will be a test screening of the film before it is shown in Copenhagen. “The film is designed to spur discussion and debate about the effects of climate change on our planet,” said Patrick McConathy, the executive producer of Climate Refugees. “Colorado State is the perfect place to debut the film.”

The personal challenges faced by individuals today in the face of climate change is something that we all should be aware of. Knowing that this is happening now, not decades in the future, shows us in a new light the significance of the issue. The fact that CSU, a national leader in environmental studies, has been chosen to present this film is something to be proud of, and we should take advantage of this unique opportunity to learn more.

For another opportunity to learn about climate change this week, check out our Science Cafe tomorrow night with Dr. Diana H. Wall, director of the School of Global Environmental Sustainability at CSU.  She will be discussing  ‘The Dry Valleys of Antarctica: Soils and Climate Change’ on Wednesday, 11/11 at 6:00pm (arrive at 5:30), at Dempsey’s on 160 W. Oak St.  This is a free event where you can grab a drink, have a snack and get smarter.  All in about an hour.