Blogosphere

Petition shows student desire for a sanctuary campus

Manitou Messenger - 33 min 30 sec ago
Over the past few weeks, students have been tabling outside of Stav Hall, petitioning to make St. Olaf a sanctuary campus. Similar to a sanctuary city, a sanctuary campus would refuse to cooperate with and/or assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents if they were to come onto campus. At press time, the print petition had close to 700 signatures and an online version of the petition was expected to have a couple hundred signatures. “We ask that St. Olaf refuse to allow ICE agents from conducting activity on St. Olaf property as allowed by a 2011 U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement memo,” the proposal read. “We ask that St. Olaf protect all individuals in the St. Olaf community, including its students, faculty, and staff … doing so will demonstrate that St. Olaf takes the safety and wellbeing of the St. Olaf community seriously,” the proposal read. Samantha Wells ’17 is the go-to student contact for the petition. The organizing students’ intent is not to demand that administration make policy changes, but rather to bring to administration a proposal that already has significant student support. Wells plans to share the proposal first with Student Senate and then with college administrators. Wells has been in contact with President David Anderson ’74, who connected her with General Counsel Carl Lehmann ’91 for assistance in understanding the legal details surrounding current college policies. Anderson said that he is supportive of protecting student privacy and would be interested in supporting students in any way that is legal and appropriate. As of Dec. 2, the petition and proposal had not yet been brought to St. Olaf administration. The definition of “sanctuary” is flexible; there is no legal definition for a sanctuary city or sanctuary campus, but most often it refers to a city or institution that refuses to cooperate with ICE officials. For a city, this could mean limiting how extensively government employees and law enforcement will work with federal immigration officials. For a campus, it often means refusal to disclose private student records and limiting the access that federal immigration officials have on campus.College campuses across the country have been pushing to become sanctuary spaces. Unlike cities, campuses have special privileges under a ICE memo that allows them to refuse to cooperate with ICE officials in some circumstances. A memo issued by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office on Oct. 24, 2011 states that ICE agents are not allowed to perform actions including “(I) arrests; (2) interviews; (3) searches; and (4) for purposes of immigration enforcement only, surveillance” on “sensitive locations.” The memo defines a college campus as a sensitive location. That being said, immigration agents are still able to do some things, including “obtaining records, documents and similar materials from officials or employees, providing notice to officials or employees, serving subpoenas, engaging in Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) compliance and certification visits or participating in official functions or community meetings.”St. Olaf already has student privacy policies in place that protect student information from being handed over to federal agents. “Under our current policies, we do not disclose information about students – except in very limited circumstances – and that would include a student’s immigrant status,” Lehmann said. “So if a government agency came to campus and said ‘we want to know the names of students who are not legally authorized to be in the United States,’ that’s not information that we would voluntarily provide without a subpoena or a court order, or if there was some emergency.”One of the biggest bargaining pieces in the sanctuary city debate is President-elect Donald Trump’s threat to cut federal funding to sanctuary cities. Because St. Olaf isn’t a public institution, it doesn’t necessarily have a horse in this race. Whether or not federal aid for St. Olaf students would be included in this threat is unclear. “Our students certainly receive a lot of federal aid, and our ability to participate in Title IV programs, grants and student aid, is something that all our students should be concerned about,” Lehmann said. “We would want to continue to participate in federal financial aid programs.”Lehmann is still waiting to see the final proposal but is encouraged to determine how administration might be able to work with students to soothe some of their immediate concerns. “If students want assurances that their right to privacy are going to be respected, we can certainly provide those assurances,” he said. “If the initiatives are aimed at defying federal law or a court order or something like that, I think that would be something that the college wouldn’t be interested in being a party to because we have to abide by court orders and the law. In the proposals that I’ve seen with other colleges, that’s pretty consistent with the positions that other institutions are taking, too.”The sanctuary campus petition comes after the Northfield city council decided to further discuss making Northfield a sanctuary city. At the Nov. 16 city council meeting, members agreed to further research sanctuary cities and the council will likely begin discussions on the topic at its Dec. 13 meeting.
whitfo1@stolaf.edu
Categories: Colleges

Philosopher extols beauty

Manitou Messenger - 33 min 30 sec ago
On Tuesday, Nov. 15, the philosophy department hosted Dr. Douglas Hedley of Cambridge University as a guest speaker on ethics and beauty. Hedley has interests in contemporary and early modern philosophy of religion and the history of Platonism and Neoplatonism. He is the author of over six books, most recently “The Iconic Imagination,” and was a member of the Cambridge Platonists, a group of philosophers that coined terms such as “theism,” “consciousness” and “philosophy of religion.” As Dr. Hedley comes from the United Kingdom, he was welcomed with a British parade.Prior to the lecture, audience members enjoyed cider, cucumber sandwiches and desserts. When 4 p.m. hit, Professor of Philosophy Charles Taliaferro played “Rule Britannia” and sprinkled holy water over attendees while they sang along. Most of the students in the audience were current philosophy students. Drawing from Plato, Aristotle, Meister Eckhart and Immanuel Kant, Hedley proposed that beauty is an innate realization rather than an aesthetically pleasing vision. In other words, beauty is an internal truth. Hedley, as a philosopher, seeks to explore this beauty. He also proposed that a person is layered, and in order to find the inner beauty, or internal truth, one must peel back the layers. “One is not transparent to oneself,” he said. In other words, one cannot just look inside and simply find one’s inner truth. Discovering this beauty is complicated. “Self-knowledge is a difficult task,” he said. Ethics, on the other hand, is the quest for this inner beauty.During the lecture, Hedley spoke of Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” comparing the life of the philosopher to that of the man in the cave. The philosopher, like the man in the cave, turns toward the sun of knowledge and realizes the shadows have only been an illusion. In this way, when a person finds the inner beauty, he or she determines that the material aspects of the world become unimportant. Hedley emphasized that by turning outwards, even toward external virtues, the true self becomes completely hidden.This was the third time Hedley lectured at St. Olaf. In the past, students have greatly enjoyed his discussions, and this lecture was no different. “I only wish it could have been longer,” said Jessica Whittenburg ’19, who attended the lecture. If, like Jessica, you enjoy a good talk on beauty and ethics, this lecture just might have been your cup of tea.


favaro1@stolaf.edu
Categories: Colleges

Sex trafficking survivor shares story, talks prostitution laws

Manitou Messenger - 33 min 30 sec ago
When Jennifer Gaines ran away from home at the age of 14, she did not expect to become involved in prostitution. Neither did she expect to eventually become an officer for Breaking Free, an organization that advocates for sex-trafficking survivors, after nearly 30 years of work as a prostitute. The St. Olaf community had the opportunity to hear her sad yet educational story on Nov. 16 in the Black Ballroom in Buntrock Commons. The event was sponsored by St. Olaf Leaders Abolishing Slavery (SOLAS).According to Gaines, prostitution includes three stages: recruitment, initiation and enslavement. “There are many ways women get recruited into prostitution,” Gaines said. “Some get in by force, drugs and alcohol, torture, or generational prostitution.” Generational prostitution, she explained, is when girls are born into families where all women are involved in prostitution.Child runaways are especially at risk of recruitment into prostitution. According to Gaines, within 48 hours of leaving home, one third of children who run away are lured to prostitution. “I ran away from home when I was 14,” Gaines said. “Literally within 48 hours I was approached by a trafficker.”Gaines also discussed sex traffickers, and how they don’t always conform to society’s understanding or perception of them. Her trafficker, she said, contradicted typical depictions.“Everybody liked him, he had wonderful social skills,” Gaines said. “He would take over the room when he came in. Very charming. If you had not known what he was doing, you would have liked him too.” During her recruitment, Gaines was taken to bars and praised as a princess. Often, her recruiters attempted to depict prostitution as a path toward a life of luxury and ease, and a life that could enable women to take care of their families. “There is a reason traffickers go after children,” Gaines explained. “It is because they can be programmed. They can be brainwashed.”After a few unsuccessful months of attempting to recruit Gaines into prostitution, the trafficker made up a dramatic event in an effort to manipulate her. “He told me that his gang members were after him, and he needed $400 by nine o’clock at night. If he did not have this money, they would kill him,” Gaines said. That is when she was sold into prostitution. Gaines, who now works for Breaking Free, provided thoughtful reflections on various aspects of prostitution. First, she broke the myth that legalizing prostitution would make it safer for women. “I worked in regions where prostitution is legalized and I was still raped and I was still beaten,” Gaines said. “What happened is that traffickers, whenever they found out that prostitution in a region is legal, they fled the law by bringing their girls with fake IDs. It is safer for the men but not for the women. So that’s a myth.”Second, she offered useful information regarding prostitution in Minnesota. According to Gaines, the FBI identified Minneapolis as one of 13 cities where a significant number of children are recruited into prostitution. She believes part of the reason behind the growth of prostitution in Minnesota is because people come to the state for its “great welfare system” in order to escape poverty, and poverty is a source of not only women in prostitution but also traffickers. “I often heard my trafficker and his friends amongst each other and they would say things like, ‘You know, I got into pimping because that was my only option. Because in my neighborhood, the only options were prostituting, pimping, being a rapper or selling drugs.’ So depending on your skill set, maybe you should pick pimping,” Gaines said.On the other hand, Gaines expounded on the advances Minnesota has made regarding legal counters to prostitution, including the advanced law that sufficiently covers the kaleidoscopic forms of prostitution, and the Safe Harbor Act, which states that women under 18 years old engaged in prostitution will not be criminalized, but instead provided with shelter and services.According to Sophie Rossiter ’19, co-leader of SOLAS, this is Gaines’ second visit to St. Olaf. This time, the talk was more focused on the issue of sex trafficking within Minnesota and the underlying causal mechanism rather than a general view. The organization is also planning to bring in other speakers to connect different perspectives on sex trafficking in the Twin Cities.The discussion received positive responses. “I have been to Gaines’ presentations before and they are always fascinating,” Katie Bickley ’18 said. “I learn something new every time and I am really glad she is back on campus.” 

nguyen7@stolaf.edu
Categories: Colleges

Mellby Lecture explores gender, religion

Manitou Messenger - 33 min 30 sec ago
On Thursday, Nov. 17, Associate Professor of Religion David Booth gave the 2016 Fall Mellby Lecture. Booth teaches classes at St. Olaf on Christian theology, feminist theory, religion and culture in a variety of contexts. During her introduction of Booth, Professor of Religion Mara Benjamin spoke about Booth’s role and contributions at St. Olaf, as well as in her own career and life. “[Through David I found that] theology was an enterprise that not only included, but necessitated difference and diversity. It was not the property of any one interest group or set of institutions,” Benjamin said. “It was a process of reflection on how we make our way in the world and through which we forge a just society.” As Booth began his lecture, he introduced his topic of the North Carolina bathroom wars in the context of theology. The controversy is rooted in the debate over whether individuals who do not conform to the customary male and female gender binary should be able to use public facilities that do not match their biological sex. He initially addressed the importance of this particular subject in the wake of the election. “The nation has elected a president, and in particular a vice president, who defends a supposed religious freedom of citizens to ignore certain civil rights of some of their neighbors,” Booth said. “Against my wishes, my remarks tonight may be too relevant.”He argued that whether an individual is religious, atheistic or agnostic, theology can help both individuals and communities better understand the present and work toward a future where all people have equal access to what Booth called the blessings of life. He then presented his claim that the gender binary must be regarded critically, and that the stigmatization of gender non-conformers in the name of religion must stop. “I plan to plead for your sympathy for the simple notion that every person ought to be empowered to live out a gendered identity that speaks to the truth of their own self understanding, without regard for whether that identity is comfortable to a customary strict binary of women and men,” Booth said. Booth explained that politicians and citizens believe that public facilities should be organized based on biological sex because they find it the most logical way to order society. This system is also based on the belief that keeping biological males out of female bathrooms is an attempt to protect women from sexual assault in the context of their inferior position in the gender binary. “In any case, one can hardly find a case of trans women menacing others in women’s restrooms, while reports are common of harassing trans bathroom users simply because they make them uncomfortable,” Booth said. He emphasized that such an aggressive attack against gender non-conformers is the effect of this very hierarchy being defied. “Men can be president. Whether women can be president we don’t know yet,” Booth said. “There are stakes and stakeholders in defending a binary gender order. The existence of gender non-conformers threatens the stakeholders in a gender binary order.”He then continued to tie the everlasting debate over the gender binary, and public efforts to alter its ubiquity, to St. Olaf. He described how through the general education requirements, and the theology requirement in particular, St. Olaf aims to prepare students to clearly articulate and understand their own beliefs. Booth was also sure to emphasize that what is more pressing in the present are students’ abilities to converse with those who have differing ideologies, and that the BTS-T requirement is St. Olaf’s defense against religious ignorance and animosity. Booth introduced his belief that while some parts of the General Education (GE) requirements are beneficial to St. Olaf students, others need to be reevaluated. “I hope that a new infusion of energy in our GE will respond to the remarkable transformations of the world our students will navigate,” he said. “In particular, the rich diversity of peoples and cultures, the increasing demand to recognize the real dignity and rights of previously marginalized people, and the enormous challenge, never more pressing than it is right now of sorting … the legitimacy of ideologically tainted knowledge claims.”  One of Booth’s consistent goals as a professor is to communicate some of the ways in which theology is an effective way to analyze and navigate the world, employing the public usefulness of theology. “Theology is reasoning about meaning and truth. It seeks to clarify what the claims of a religious community mean. How do these claims fit together and constitute a total way of living? It proposes ways of thinking about what is true, in respect to the truths of history… [and] scientific inquiry,” Booth said. His lecture informed the audience about the importance of the coherence of truths, whether they are religious, scientific, literary or historical, in order that religious claims and communities don’t mindlessly refute important knowledge about the reality of the world. 


ellfel1@stolaf.edu
Categories: Colleges

Radical group brings hate speech to campus

Manitou Messenger - 33 min 30 sec ago
On Wednesday, Nov. 15, a table of representatives from the Rolling Meadows Mennonite Church sat on the second floor of Buntrock Commons at the base of the stairs to the cafeteria, passing out pamphlets. The materials varied widely in subject matter, with some as harmless as “The Gospel According to John.” Many of the rest, however, echoed hateful sentiments, most obviously one brightly colored card which read in large print, “AIDS: The Real Problem Behind the Scourge.”This piece of writing, among several other pamphlets disseminated by the group, claimed that HIV and AIDS are divine punishments for an immoral lifestyle. Their writing claimed “The Real Problem is not HIV. It is one even more deadly. The Real Problem is often the sin of immorality,” continuing that “Many times AIDS is God’s judgement on immorality.” Another piece, titled “What do you want from life,” showed an image of an arrow pointing from a cradle to a grave, and further explored the group’s definition of sin. “Sin leaves us unhappy and disappointed. Our sinful lives lack purpose and peace. And sin condemns us to death.” It then went on to assert that the only way to escape the punishment for sin was to accept their god.A pamphlet titled “The New Morality or the old immorality,” featured a drawing of a young man with tattoos and a loose-fitting gold chain around his neck, looking around a deserted city street with “No Fear” etched into the wall behind him. The pamphlet claimed, “God speaks through AIDS. And people are paying attention...finally.” The pamphlet went on to provide what it claimed to be a direct message from God, which read “the new morality is nothing other than the old immorality that I have always abhorred. It is sin, and it results in death.”The same packet also deemed various practices sinful and reflections of modern immorality, including adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, lust, bestiality and youthful lusts. Each section offered one or more Bible verses that the packet purported to prove the immorality of the practices. When addressing homosexuality, the packet claimed that “God condemns this sin. Because of this sin and others, God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah with fire.” This comparison was echoed in the piece regarding lust, which equated modern cities to Sodom and Gomorrah and claimed that byproducts of modern city life “stimulate lust, and a person who lusts in his mind soon sins in his deeds. The person who sins (whether in thought or in deed), will die.”The group was quickly met with resistance from the campus, including several students confronting it for spreading hate speech. Cosi Pori ’18 was one of those who directly addressed the radical religious group, expressing anger at the impact the group may have had on students struggling with HIV or AIDS.“I went back and gave a speech at them, and said ‘hey, the real problem is you guys [who are] perpetuating the stigma against AIDS and HIV, [making] people more afraid to live with it and come out having it. I took one of each [pamphlet] and the rest I took and threw in one of those recycling bins,” Pori said.Another pamphlet, titled “True love...knows how to wait” featured two roses on the front and vilified premarital sex, specifically in regards to women. Offering purported testimonials from young women, the pamphlet claimed that men who engage in premarital sex with women are “guilty of destroying her longings and dreams.” Later on, it shifted the blame to women, claiming that “the man is not always the one at fault. Of course not! There are young ‘ladies’ who do not deserve any respect. They dress provocatively; they flirt; they are easy to have; everybody can hug them, pet them, or kiss them, and they do not resist. Young lady if this describes you, you are partly at fault for the consequences of your appearance and behavior.”Pori also expressed their anger with the “True love” pamphlet and its equating of women’s value to sex and the blame it placed on women for dressing “provocatively.”“On this campus, which already has so many problems with sexual assault, someone might have picked this up and read it, and that’s just ridiculous,” Pori said.Pori also suggested a political motivation to the tabling, stating that when another student asked if the group’s presence had to do with the recent election of Donald Trump, they affirmed that it was related.After a relatively substantial student response, the Mennonite group was asked to leave campus and President David Anderson ’74 sent out a message condemning the group and affirming that they would not return, despite having apparently been on campus before.“...they have apparently been on campus before without us being aware of their message. This tells me that we need immediately to undertake a review our of policies relating to permitting outside groups on campus towards the goal of having a more rigorous and robust screening process so that an incident like this does not occur again,” Anderson wrote. “I apologize on behalf of the College to everyone who was hurt or who, like me, was offended by this group’s words and acts. They do not represent who we are, and I am grateful to the students who called them out.”Many received the message well, but expressed frustration at Anderson’s apparent lack of knowledge of the hate-group’s previous presence.“I was very impressed with how fast it all got handled, but what was weird to me was that in PDA’s email he said he had no idea about it and that it has happened before. I was told by other students and alumni that they remembered this group,” Pori said, expressing concern with the possibility that the administration could remain unaware of such a situation.Greg Kneser, Vice President for Student Life, offered some explanation for the group’s repeat appearances.“About five percent of the groups simply ask for a table and are charged a small fee, as this group did,” Kneser said. “We do not ask to see materials for pre-approval or interview them to see what they intend on discussing, in the same way we do not do this with student groups. If there are complaints, we deal with them immediately. The Mennonite group will not be welcomed back to campus, which has happened to other groups in the past.”He also offered an explanation as to how St. Olaf’s screening process for outside groups might be reformed.“Our goal in all of this is to keep the campus an environment where there is a free exchange of ideas and that students and others will have access to services, commerce, ideas and opportunities for engagement outside of the ‘bubble’ that lots of folks talk about,” Kneser said. “In order to achieve that balance, we will have a policy in place so that any groups who wish to interact with our community agree to abide by the values of St. Olaf College, in much the same way that student organizations are expected to act. They will have to actively sign off that they understand our expectations before being rented or granted a space. We are drafting that language now and will share it with the community when we are done.”
campbe1@stolaf.edu
Categories: Colleges

Fine Tune #345 bird-y… 4 Dec 2016

KYMN Radio - 1 hour 10 min ago

Host Wendy Nordquist hosts an eclectic hour of acoustic, Americana, jazz, old-time, roots and world music every Sunday evening from 6-7 p.m. Mining the rich, deep veins of tracks in the kymn music library – these are just a few ‘birdsongs’… fine-tunes-12-04-16 Birds of a Feather / The Civil Wars Bluebird / Paul McCartney Blackbird […]

The post Fine Tune #345 bird-y… 4 Dec 2016 appeared first on KYMN Radio - Northfield, MN.

Army Corps denies DAPL easement, but then??

Carol Overland - Legalectric - 4 hours 38 min ago

The internet is going nuts with news that the Army Corps of Engineers has denied the Dakota Access Pipeline permit.

Morton County Sheriff briefing on moving back from bridge

Bismarck Tribune: Police consider pulling back from Backwater Bridge

But what’s really happening with the permit?  No direct statement from Army Corps yet.

UPDATE: From U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:

Army will not grant easement for Dakota Access Pipeline

Now, from Dept. of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell:

It looks like what’s happening is that the ACoE is denying the permit for the route over the river and through sacred Indian lands, and will be looking for a reroute and doing an Environmental Impact Statement.  ABC News states that pretty clearly below.  It’ll be in “stick it there” mode, with the ACoE looking for somewhere to put it!  I’ve been looking and looking, don’t see anything from ACoE directly.

NYT – Federal Officials to Explore Different Route for Dakota Pipeline

Dakota Access Pipeline denied near Sioux Reservation

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denies easement for Dakota Access Pipeline

Administration orders review of Dakota Access Pipeline easement (this version most closely states what I’m guessing is going on)

DAPL: Sec. of Army announces DAPL easement has been denied

ABC News: JUST IN: US Army denies easement allowing Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under North Dakota lake, citing “need to explore alternate routes”

Categories: Citizens

Knights Compete at Jean Freeman Invite

Carleton Sports - Sat, 12/03/2016 - 11:35pm

The Carleton College swimming and diving teams took part in the two-day competition at the Jean Freeman Invitational hosted by the University of Minnesota. The 17-team field included a trio of NCAA Division I programs: Minnesota, South Dakota State, and University of South Dakota. The biggest highlights of the weekend came on Friday as both Caroline Mather and Maria Wetzel posted NCAA ‘B’ cut times.

Categories: Colleges

Knights Stumble Against Saint John’s

Carleton Sports - Sat, 12/03/2016 - 9:47pm

The Carleton College men’s basketball team dropped a second consecutive road contest to open the MIAC schedule, this time falling 62-45 at Saint John’s University. Mitchell Biewen finished with 14 points and was the lone Knight in double figures.

Categories: Colleges

Knights Scorched by Blazers’ Hot Shooting

Carleton Sports - Sat, 12/03/2016 - 9:03pm

Three players finished in double figures for the Knights, but the Carleton College women’s basketball team could not match the scoring pace of host Saint Benedict as the Blazers shot 57 percent in the contest and prevailed 88-52.

Categories: Colleges

Northfield Nursery School hosts first Cookies with Santa event

Northfield News - Sat, 12/03/2016 - 12:10pm
This year, the Northfield Nursery School hosted their first Cookies with Santa event at United Methodist Church in Northfield.
Categories: Local News

City Council Meeting

City of Northfield Calendar - Fri, 12/02/2016 - 5:18pm
Event date: December 6, 2016
Event Time: 07:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Location:
801 Washington Street
Northfield, MN 55057

Faribault prison, Dundas church create unique choir collaboration

Northfield News - Fri, 12/02/2016 - 4:45pm
A group of incarcerated individuals and a congregation from Dundas have discovered the parallels between their lives through singing.
Categories: Local News

Moriah Arnold Selected to All-Region Team

Carleton Sports - Fri, 12/02/2016 - 4:16pm

Moriah Arnold became the latest in a long line of All-Region performers for the Carleton College women’s soccer program. The senior defender was voted to the National Soccer Coaches’ Association of America (NSCAA) All-North Region Third Team, becoming the Knights’ 14th All-Region performer since 2010.

Categories: Colleges

Community News: Winter Walk Snowflake ornament hunt begins Monday

KYMN Radio - Fri, 12/02/2016 - 3:58pm

The hunt for this year’s Winter Walk Snowflake ornament begins at 8 o’clock tomorrow morning.  The brown 3 to 4 inch metal snowflake will be on Nfld city property but will NOT be in ANY decorations. There will be no need to dig unless we get snow.  There will be up to 4 clues.  KYMN […]

The post Community News: Winter Walk Snowflake ornament hunt begins Monday appeared first on KYMN Radio - Northfield, MN.

Language of boatbuilding inspires new poetry collection by alumnus

St. Olaf College - Fri, 12/02/2016 - 3:23pm

Matthew Nienow ’05, pictured here paddleboarding with his dog, says his new book draws on his experiences living in a small town on the Salish Sea.

When Matthew Nienow ‘05 enrolled in the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding, he didn’t expect to finish with his first full-length collection of poems.

“During this immersive experience I was thrown into the new-to-me language of wooden boats and old tools, and the metaphors and striking names were astounding,” says Nienow, who majored in English at St. Olaf College. “I couldn’t help but sit in my truck during lunch breaks and begin to write from the experience.”

Many of the poems that Nienow wrote while earning his associate degree in boatbuilding eventually made their way into his new collection, titled House of Water.

House of Water, Nienow says, is about “the love of making.” When he had written several poems from his experience with boatbuilding, he showed a rough manuscript to a fellow Ole, Todd Boss ‘91. “Todd asked, ‘Where are the people?’ I had been so focused on things that I forgot about the people who might use the things that I wrote about,” says Nienow.

This comment led Nienow, who also has a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Washington, to begin writing from “the struggle of my life situation, growing into full manhood in a small town on the Salish Sea.”

Nienow and his wife had just moved to Port Townsend, Washington, with two young boys.

“Family became another focus in the poems,” he says. “Being a father is the most challenging and rewarding part of my life, and my poems attempt to honor that work, even as they don’t sugarcoat the struggle.”

“Life was overfull and overwhelming. Good things were everywhere, but we were, in many ways, floundering,” adds Nienow, who won a creative writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2010. That struggle, though, helped him to write some of the best poetry of his career.

It makes sense that Nienow’s advice to other writers is simple: “Live. If you are paying attention, everything — every little thing — will feed your writing.”

Watch one of Nienow’s poetry films, which features a piece from House of Water, below.

Categories: Colleges

Local breweries getting closer to launch dates in Northfield

Northfield News - Fri, 12/02/2016 - 3:15pm
It won’t be long before hops enthusiasts will be visiting three upstart breweries in the Northfield area.
Categories: Local News

St. Olaf student plays role in discovering new dwarf planet

St. Olaf College - Fri, 12/02/2016 - 2:47pm

Colin Scheibner ’17 in front of a screen that shows DeeDee (beneath the green arrow in the center of the screen), the new dwarf planet he helped discover as part of a research team at the University of Michigan.

St. Olaf College student Colin Scheibner ’17 remembers the exact moment that he and his fellow researchers realized that they had discovered a new dwarf planet.

“We saw the small smudge on the screen of the monitor that represented our dwarf planet,” says Scheibner.

“Suddenly,” he goes on, “there was an intimate sense of connection between our circle of collaborators and this small icy world on the distant edge of our solar system.”

This summer, Scheibner was part of a research team headed by David Gerdes, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Michigan. The team analyzed tens of thousands of images collected by the Dark Energy Camera, a powerful digital camera on a four-meter telescope in Cerro Tololo, Chile.

Scheibner’s role in this research was the development of a web-based tool for examining distant objects in the images collected by the camera, which was originally commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy. With his tool, Scheibner identified the earliest known observation of the new planet, officially known as 2014 UZ224 and nicknamed DeeDee, short for “distant dwarf.”

DeeDee is approximately 330 miles across and 8.5 billion miles from the sun — about half as big and twice as distant as Pluto. The dwarf planet’s discovery attracted attention from national news sources, including National Public Radio, The Washington Post, and Wired.

“That attention has been incredibly gratifying,” says Scheibner, who joined the research team through the University of Michigan’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Scheibner says, “As scientists, we spend hours, days, and years slaving away in classrooms and laboratories. And we want so badly to share our excitement, discoveries, and fundamental sense of curiosity with broader audiences.”

Learning about the coalescence of our solar system
Much of the news coverage about DeeDee revolved around the implications of the University of Michigan team’s discovery for future research. Scheibner explains, “If you look at the most distant objects in our solar system, like DeeDee, you notice that their orbits are aligned in such a way that suggests that they are being pulled by a massive, distant, slow-moving body.”

This diagram shows the orbits of the newly discovered dwarf planet 2014 UZ224 (nicknamed DeeDee), together with the positions of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. Image credit: JPL Horizons, Sky and Telescope

This body is known as Planet Nine, which has been hypothesized to exist but never directly observed. Scheibner says that “such an object, if spotted, would be the astronomical discovery of the century.”

And the team’s discovery provides compelling evidence that Planet Nine, which is about ten times more massive than Earth, could be spotted. In fact, Gerdes claims that any image taken by the Dark Energy Camera might contain a picture of it.

“The fact that we can find a very distant object like DeeDee in our data is a promising sign that if there are more things like this out there, we have a good shot at finding them,” Gerdes explains to The Washington Post.

He goes on, “These dwarf planets are kind of the primordial globs of stuff that formed the rest of the planets, so by studying them, we can learn about that primordial solar nebula out of which the other planets coalesced.”

Forming scientific habits of mind
Scheibner says that opportunities at St. Olaf have “equipped me with both the habits of mind and the scientific expertise to be successful on this research team.”

“It’s extraordinary to be in a place that offers so many formative opportunities,” adds Scheibner, who also sings in Cantorei Choir and plays bassoon in the St. Olaf Band.

As a physics and mathematics major, Scheibner has taken many classes at St. Olaf that have prepared him well for an advanced research experience like the University of Michigan REU.

“I think that the introductory physics laboratories here are pedagogically effective because of their coding emphasis, which gives students the skills to be effective scientists in the field,” he says.

Scheibner has also pursued opportunities outside of St. Olaf. In the summer of 2014, Scheibner participated in the University of Minnesota Materials Research Science and Engineering Center REU, where he wrote image analysis algorithms to track vibrations in ultrafast electron micrographs.

“Although I went from nanometers and femtoseconds to kiloyears and astronomical units, my experience in coding and data analysis at the University of Minnesota MRSEC transitioned smoothly into this research experience,” says Scheibner.

In addition, his research at the University of Minnesota MRSEC helped Scheibner earn the Rossing Physics Scholarship in 2015.

Scheibner plans to pursue further research opportunities and earn his Ph.D. in theoretical physics or mathematics after graduating from St. Olaf.

Scheibner says, “A huge part of my program was learning about life as a graduate student — and I can’t wait!”

Categories: Colleges

Rice County enforcment report 1 DWI over Thanksgiving period, mull lower TZD funding

Northfield News - Fri, 12/02/2016 - 2:43pm
The good news for Rice County law enforcement from Nov. 23-27, is that only one driver was arrested for a DWI. The bad news is that Toward Zero Deaths funding trends indicate it may be harder to keep the roads…
Categories: Local News

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