Letter from the Editors

Manitou Messenger - Sat, 06/06/2020 - 10:37pm

St. Olaf Community,

First, we would like to acknowledge that we should have written this letter many days ago. Black Lives Matter at The Mess, and we should have voiced that immediately. We stand with those mourning the loss of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless other Black people lost to police brutality. 

We want to share some updates on actions our organization will take in response to the movement sweeping our world. 

We will include anti-bias training in our on-boarding week in the fall, a training that will be repeated each year for all staff members. Remaining oriented towards justice is vital in the world of reporting, and we want each of our team members to have concrete training that will keep this goal in mind at all times.

We will increase our tabling and reach out to specific organizations on campus to increase the voices that are represented by our newspaper. We want all students to feel included and involved in campus news, and we will actively use our marketing team to ensure all students are connected.

We will have a set of books in our office next year detailing anti-racism and journalistic accountability that all our staff members and writers can check out at any time. These provided resources will encourage our staff to educate themselves and commit to anti-racism both personally and in their reporting.

At this time, we also feel it is our duty to recall the protests against racism that happened at St. Olaf three years ago. We want to build the institutional memory of those events so that we can continue the work started in April of 2017. 

We are calling attention to the issue of The Messenger published on the two year anniversary of the protests, ‘Where the Inequity Lies,’ written and reported by Avery Ellfeldt ’19. We will continue to research the demands issued by The Collective for Change on the Hill and signed by President David Anderson, and we will publish an update on the four year anniversary of the protests this coming school year. 

Journalism is a powerful tool, and we strive to use that tool in the best way we can. Media often shapes how we think, and in a civil rights movement like the one we are currently experiencing, it is imperative that reporting is honest and uplifts the correct narrative. 

We hope you all stay safe and well in these times of upheaval, and we hope that the momentum gathered this past week launches us into a more just future.

Grace Peacore and Jacob Maranda

Managing Editor and Executive Editor

Categories: Colleges

Letter from the Editors

Manitou Messenger - Sat, 06/06/2020 - 10:37pm

St. Olaf Community,

First, we would like to acknowledge that we should have written this letter many days ago. Black Lives Matter at The Mess, and we should have voiced that immediately. We stand with those mourning the loss of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless other Black people lost to police brutality. 

We want to share some updates on actions our organization will take in response to the movement sweeping our world. 

We will include anti-bias training in our on-boarding week in the fall, a training that will be repeated each year for all staff members. Remaining oriented towards justice is vital in the world of reporting, and we want each of our team members to have concrete training that will keep this goal in mind at all times.

We will increase our tabling and reach out to specific organizations on campus to increase the voices that are represented by our newspaper. We want all students to feel included and involved in campus news, and we will actively use our marketing team to ensure all students are connected.

We will have a set of books in our office next year detailing anti-racism and journalistic accountability that all our staff members and writers can check out at any time. These provided resources will encourage our staff to educate themselves and commit to anti-racism both personally and in their reporting.

At this time, we also feel it is our duty to recall the protests against racism that happened at St. Olaf three years ago. We want to build the institutional memory of those events so that we can continue the work started in April of 2017. 

We are calling attention to the issue of The Messenger published on the two year anniversary of the protests, ‘Where the Inequity Lies,’ written and reported by Avery Ellfeldt ’19. We will continue to research the demands issued by The Collective for Change on the Hill and signed by President David Anderson, and we will publish an update on the four year anniversary of the protests this coming school year. 

Journalism is a powerful tool, and we strive to use that tool in the best way we can. Media often shapes how we think, and in a civil rights movement like the one we are currently experiencing, it is imperative that reporting is honest and uplifts the correct narrative. 

We hope you all stay safe and well in these times of upheaval, and we hope that the momentum gathered this past week launches us into a more just future.

Grace Peacore and Jacob Maranda

Managing Editor and Executive Editor

Categories: Colleges

Momento histórico en Minnesota y el mundo con protestas para pedir cambios

KYMN Radio - Sat, 06/06/2020 - 5:02pm
Estamos en un momento importante en la historia de Estados Unidos y con esperanza de que haya cambios para evitar el racismo en el sistema.

“I’m not someone who likes to sit down”: Carls across the country share experience participating in current protests

Carletonian - Sat, 06/06/2020 - 12:03pm

In response to the murder of George Floyd, there have been continuous protests in Minneapolis for the past two weeks. The National Guard was called in, officers have used tear gas and fired rubber bullets, Mayor Jacob Frey imposed an 8pm curfew, many local businesses on Lake Street were looted or burned, and the first memorial service was held for George Floyd. In support of the protests, the University of Minnesota and the Minneapolis School Board have cut ties with the Minneapolis city police and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit on behalf of journalists who were targeted and attacked by police.   

After three nights of protests, Derek Chauvin was taken into custody and faced charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Five days later, the other three officers who failed to intervene were also charged with aiding and abetting murder. Just yesterday, Minneapolis moved to ban the use of chokeholds and restraints by police.  

Minneapolis has a long history of police brutality and racial segregation—for more than 70 years, racial covenants allowed real estate developers to restrict Black Minneapolis residents from buying or occupying property in certain neighborhoods, and much of this language still remains in home deeds. In 2020, about 20% of Minneapolis’s population is Black, but when the police use force, Black residents are subjected nearly 60% of the time. Minneapolis police use violent techniques—mace, tasers, neckholds—against Black people at seven times the rate of whites. 

Major demonstrations are now happening across the country—in Minneapolis, Houston, San Francisco, Chicago, and numerous other cities. The Carletonian spoke with seven Carleton students in different places who have joined or supported the protests.  Hear from them about what it has been like. 


“I felt at home”

People were throwing firecrackers at the precinct but also up in the air as a celebratory, liberating thing. That was really cool, I felt. It was a breath of fresh air for me. I saw the physical tearing down of the institution that essentially harms me and my existence in this world. I felt at home. 

People are like, “Kenya, be safe out there,” and I thought: I feel more comfortable there than I do on the everyday because I don’t know what can happen. I’ll be walking down the street and a policeman could just easily shoot me down. My existence and my life in this world is threatened every day so to go agitate and fight for that was like this is where I’m supposed to be at. I’m with my people fighting against oppression and this is how it’s going to get done. I wasn’t scared. I was ready. I got a little bit of tear gas in my eyes, but I think that just shows the point that I’m willing to go to to achieve justice because I can’t go back to what has been normal. 

It’s crazy to think about security and police here and how they do what they do with intimidating tactics and not trying to ensure a safe community. I think that Carleton should throw out the term “security.” Let’s come up with new terms and new ways to have a safe community. 



“Everything that he embodied, I feel like we embodied”

It wasn’t until after, when I was driving home, that all the emotions came out. I was just crying on the way home because I was overwhelmed with joy and I was very proud of what we were doing, but it also, reality hit me that 60,000 people had to show up and come out to explain everything that’s been going on. It was just beyond me. It was hard to realize that this is what it takes. 

They had George’s family speak and then they marched down to city hall and all his family members were on horses. It was so beautiful. It just felt majestic seeing them on horses and being very strong about everything that’s going on. I just didn’t understand why they had metro buses of police officers coming into where we were. There was just this premise that they were preparing for casualties or violence, but if it was a peaceful protest, I thought, why are you guys responding in this way?

There were people dancing, there were these old dudes rolling around in rollerblades just doing their thing. Random people brought water and snacks and were checking in on people. I felt a big sense of community, and it reaffirmed why I love Houston so much. I don’t want to go anywhere else. That moment really gave me a sense of community and a reason why everything that I felt growing up matters, everything that I’ve seen there is not just something that can be easily erased. So many people in Houston knew George Floyd. My dad went to school with him. Everything that he did was for the community. Everything that he embodied, I feel like we embodied yesterday. For so long we’ve been fed the idea of going to school, going to college, getting a good job and working for these soul-sucking companies that have no interest in the people that work for them. This time has made me realize the importance of our Black communities, starting our own businesses and doing things that reinvest resources into our communities and don’t take away from them. 


Sign made by Maya Murphy ’21 for protests in Houston, TX.

“Excitement and empowerment along with anger and frustration”

Protests have been very chill and unorganized. There was no official posting, people just started showing up in the little park. I walked over there and, sure enough, people were standing there with signs. More and more people have been inviting each other, and it seems like every day more people come and stand by the highway. Cars come by and honk at us and we wave our signs.

There’s a little tension because a couple police officers showed up in uniform to join the protest. They held signs. I had mixed feelings about them coming but a lot of people were really glad that they showed up and they stood next to us. It’s a wave of emotions for sure.

I want to be involved but I always have to check myself to step back and listen to other voices. It feels a lot better to be standing outside with other people than to be in my room on my Twitter. There’s excitement and empowerment along with anger and frustration and wishing that we were doing something that put a little more pressure on our government. A little protest is good for raising awareness. We’re not exactly inconveniencing anyone, so it’s unclear whether the protest here will make a difference.


Maya Stovall ’23 and a friend protest in Macomb, IL.

“There are tons and tons of people who were suddenly in food deserts”

The protesting and uprisings started, and it felt like everything just suddenly changed. I think Thursday night was the first really big uprising. We were watching from Northfield, that first night, on social media and live streams, and we were like “oh my god, this is going to be huge. This is going to be really big.” And then, the next day, there was a call for supplies and donations to support protestors directly.

I woke up to my phone going off, with a Carleton alum organizing transport into the cities. It’s this huge operation that she’s doing, and other people are working remotely. They’re coordinating drivers to pick up and support protestors, to take them home or get them out of unsafe situations. These are all civilian drivers, and then there’s people remotely telling drivers where to go, and watching live streams to avoid dangerous zones—trying to avoid police as much as possible, especially when the curfew set in.

It’s interesting because it’s evolved from at first being: “We need to support the needs of protestors, so we need to get masks and COVID-19 things, like hand sanitizer and medical supplies up there.” But now that the protesting has turned things upside-down a bit, a lot of stores and businesses, especially in Central and South Minneapolis, are shut down, including grocery stores. So, there are tons and tons of people, who were already not doing so great because of COVID-19, who were suddenly in food deserts and didn’t have any access to food. We’re running food, and diapers, and menstrual products, and toothpaste and toothbrushes.



“There’s a level of rage everywhere” 

There was a transformation between 5 or 6 p.m. and 8 or 9 p.m. It was a huge parade with drums, music, and a lot of energy. People brought a lot of art. There were chants throughout the entire thing. Some of the organizers were speaking directly to the cops. There was an interesting moment when someone yelled, “Kneel with us!” The organizers shut that down really fast. They were like, absolutely not, we don’t need them to kneel with us. We don’t need them to feed into this propaganda. We are here to peacefully protest and we don’t care if they kneel. The crowd seemed really ready to listen to whatever the organizers were saying. 

During the day. of course there was anger. That’s what this movement is based upon, because it was such a deep injustice that of course there’s a level of rage everywhere. It was a lot of white people with signs—and a lot of them are angry too—but there were certainly lots of people just walking with their signs whereas as the night went on, there were more and more people who felt very strongly. It became more apparent as the sun started to go down and I think that’s because a lot of white people left. During the actual protest, a lot of white people showed up and it seemed like they were the first to leave. Toward the evening, when we stopped outside of the justice building, that’s when they burned the American flag, and they burned a huge Trump piñata half the size of my room. It was a really big middle finger at the federal government and at police forces across the country. 


Protestors holding signs in San Francisco, CA.

“It is very clear whose side you are on”

This whole situation has been a long time coming. The murder of George Floyd was just the tip of the iceberg, and I feel that the Black community needs to know that there are people supporting them. So I wanted to go to make sure that I was standing with my Black friends and Black peers. This moment is going to go down in history. It is very clear whose side you are on.

The protest I attended was organized by a number of activists who graduated from my high school last year with me. There were a couple hundred people there. We marched past the police station to the high school. Once we got to the high school, there were speeches by Black students, as well as a land acknowledgment of being on Indigenous land. There were also speeches by parents whose children had experienced police brutality. It was really powerful to hear people from my high school tell their stories. I saw a lot of people at the protests that I had not seen stand for the cause in the past. This protest seemed to bring out a lot of people who had not previously been involved in social justice. 

There’s a very clean line between what is right and what is wrong. You are either for Black lives or you are not for Black lives. Students at Carleton need to say “I stand for Black lives” and stop being nervous about if they are going to say the wrong thing. In the place we are right now, it’s more hurtful to be silent than to acknowledge the situation and support Black students on campus. 

Students at Carleton, including myself, have been livestream-monitoring and helping with the protests in Minneapolis while not being there. Students are managing transportation and drop-off locations. Because we are so close to the location of where George Floyd was murdered, it is especially important for us to be directly helping the protestors.



“I’m not someone who likes to sit down”

I really wanted to go daily, but the problem is that I have someone who is immunocompromised in my household, so even after going to that one protest I felt really guilty. I’m caught between my identity and my beliefs and I’m not someone who likes to sit down. As a Black woman I feel like I need to be out doing this stuff. I want to be on the forefront of change and be a part of the movement. If I were living by myself, I wouldn’t be having this worry. We live in a one-bedroom apartment, so I can’t really keep distance. If my mom ends up in the emergency room, I could never live with that either. I just don’t know how to balance that. 

I’m really proud of seeing the country come together. To see people from all over and from all different backgrounds going and saying this—this is a big turning point. It’s hopeful at least to see people out there, but it’s also scary to see what the police are capable of.

I hope that the Carleton community, when they think about the experiences that they’re facing on campus, that they take time and listen to Black students on campus. It’s one thing to focus on this national thing and say, “this is wrong,” but then what happens when something is going on on our campus? When Black students are saying, “hey listen to us, these are our experiences” and we’re being met with “but” or “this isn’t okay,” I really want the Carleton community to reflect on how we’re actually taking all the stuff we’re saying we should do during this time into our own community, and what roles do we have, and how do we listen to Black students. There are people that have so much passion and are so ready to make change and stand up for what’s right. And I worry for them because doing that while being at Carleton is really difficult. I know that from firsthand experience. 


The post “I’m not someone who likes to sit down”: Carls across the country share experience participating in current protests appeared first on The Carletonian.

Categories: Colleges

Police targeting journalists

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Sat, 06/06/2020 - 11:47am

Here’s the Complaint filed by ACLU in federal court:

ACLU ComplaintDownload

Why? Attacks on journalists are a pattern of behavior. From the Complaint, and evident in the media coverage of police attacks, arrests live on camera, what more proof is needed:

The past week has been marked by an extraordinary escalation of unlawful force deliberately targeting reporters…

The press is under assault in our City.
Over the past week, the Minneapolis Police and the Minnesota State Patrol have tear-gassed, pepper-sprayed, shot in the face with rubber bullets, arrested without cause, and threatened journalists at gunpoint, all after these journalists identified themselves and were otherwise clearly engaged in their reporting duties. These are not isolated incidents.

This pattern and practice of conduct by law enforcement tramples on the Constitution. It violates the sacrosanct right to freedom of speech and freedom of the press that form the linchpin of a free society. It constitutes a pattern of unreasonable force and unlawful seizures under the Fourth Amendment. And it deprives liberty without a modicum of due process protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.

Plaintiff brings this action and asks the Court to restrain Defendants from further violence and unconstitutional conduct.

Categories: Citizens

Local student starts speaking at the same time as another student

Carletonian - Sat, 06/06/2020 - 11:42am

HARTFORD, CT— Wednesday around 11 a.m., Carleton student Rashad Williams began to make a comment in a Zoom English class discussion, only to realize that his classmate Rachel Brown had also begun to speak. 

“Oh—sorry—you go, Rachel,” said Rashad after a brief pause. 

“Oh no no, go ahead,” said Rachel. 

“Well, my thing isn’t very—“ Rashad started to say, realizing that Rachel had once again been making sounds at the same time as him. Again, the two took a collective beat of silence. 

“Oh I was just saying my thing is kind of off-topic anyway,” said Rachel hurriedly. 

“Oh, m-mine is too,” Rashad said, shaking his head, as if to say, “You go first, it’s fine.”

“Uh—ok,” said Rachel, smiling, as if to say “Ha, what a silly situation we’re in!”  

“I guess I’ll just go. I was just gonna say that I think the mother in this story is kind of playing a complex role—she’s not only the caretaker, but she’s a child herself, in a way. So there’s a duality there, where her traditional ‘motherly’ duties are juxtaposed with her kind of desperate, hopeful desires as a young woman.” Rachel said that last part quickly, furrowing her brows and shrugging, as if to say “But what do I know?” 

On the surface, the interaction seemed like a typical Zoom dynamic. The pair’s classmates report having no memory of this moment, and harbor no feelings of resentment. But post-incident interviews with both parties reveal a different picture: one of tension, fear, and betrayal. 

“God, when I first realized there was sound coming out of my speakers—while I had just put myself out there to break the awkward silence—I was terrified,” said Rashad.

Rachel reported similar feelings of anxiety. “Honestly, adrenaline started coursing through my veins the second I realized I was talking over Rashad,” she said. “I thought: Oh Rachel, you’ve really done it this time, haven’t you. How are you going to get yourself out of this one?”

Rachel’s ultimate decision to speak first, after so much back-and-forth deflection by both parties, was one of expediency. “I just wanted the awkwardness to end. I sure as hell didn’t want to talk first, but even stronger was my desire for the torture to be over. I figured I’d take one for the team and spit it out.”

Rashad, on the other hand, had a different perspective. “Oh, she was trying to be helpful?” he asked skeptically. “I don’t know. To me it seemed like a bit of a power-grab. Like, yeah, I said she should go first, but I didn’t really mean it. I wanted to talk first. It’s just common courtesy to say the other person should go.”

“What made it worse is that I was gonna make the exact same comment about the mom,” Rashad continued. “About how she exists in this kind of liminal space between child and parent. And how it’s kind of a false dichotomy.”

“It was a really insightful comment, and really unique. I mean, people think you can be either one or the other. But I thought, perhaps both could coexist? Perhaps motherhood is more of a spectrum than a binary? Just a totally unique thought, basically. And then Rachel went and said the exact same thing before I could.”

“Rashad’s upset?” asked Rachel, surprised. “Ugh. That’s kind of awkward.” 

At press time, two other students in the class unmuted at the same time, but quickly both retreated back to “mute” upon realizing that the other had unmuted. The class sat in silence. 

The post Local student starts speaking at the same time as another student appeared first on The Carletonian.

Categories: Colleges

The reckoning: reflections from former CSA president

Carletonian - Sat, 06/06/2020 - 11:38am

After the Carletonian asked me to write a reflection piece for the paper’s last issue of the term a week ago, I started sifting through four years of memories to pick that one defining experience which would better encapsulate my time at Carleton. I probably wrote and discarded three different pieces about my stint as CSA President, my off-campus studies in Europe, and my time working at the Center for Community and Civic Engagement. But since then, a lot has changed. The world’s shared conscience has been gripped by the brutal murder of yet another Black man, George Floyd, at the hands of a white police officer. 

I find myself bereft of words to articulate my anguish and anger over the casual dehumanization of George Floyd. I cannot shake off the image of Derek Chauvin—the white police officer in question—kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, his hands calmly in his pockets. What is even more egregious is how Chauvin’s fellow officers stood there with utter indifference as Flyod gasped for air. 

My phone, for the past week, has been abuzz with messages of comfort—but mainly concern—from my family and loved ones back in Zimbabwe. For the first time in their lives, they are being confronted by an uncomfortable truth that I, their eldest son, could, at any time, suffer the same fate as George Floyd, or Amhaud Abery, or Breonna Taylor at the hands of police officers or white vigilantes. It does not even matter that I am college-educated or that I am an African ‘fresh off the boat’ in America, which only becomes apparent when I open my mouth to speak. When cops or white vigilantes see me, they just see a Black man. Despite my accomplishments or stereotypically African ‘good manners,’ I will always be reduced to the color of my skin in this country. It is a truly heartbreaking realization. 

Growing up in a Black majority African nation, I never had to think about my Blackness, because it had no bearing whatsoever on how I was perceived or treated. After all, I was a born-free, born 16 years after Zimbabwe’s independence from white minority rule. It was not until the end of my freshman year at Carleton that I started to grapple with what it meant to be a Black person in a predominantly white space. It was my moment of reckoning, if you will. Suddenly, I became desperate to get away; I even considered going back home, which was—and still is—weighed down by triple-digit inflation, nepotistic corruption, and a grossly incompetent government. I wanted to retreat to the familiar, even though I had just escaped that familiar to pursue the American dream.

As it turned out, I did not need to travel 9,000 miles to achieve a sense of belonging. I found community in other Black and Brown students on campus. Some of them became lifelong friends; they invited me to their parties, introduced me to their families, taught me how to drown out the microaggressions, and stood by me in my worst moments. The Office of Intercultural and International Life, where I worked as a Peer Leader during my sophomore year and spent many a night laughing with friends, became a space I went to for solace and reorientation.

I spent the rest of my time at Carleton thinking and trying to understand what, as a community, it was teaching me about my values and my own prejudices. I took a smorgasbord of coursework and extracurriculars that challenged me to think critically about the world and my purpose in it. The people I conversed with on sidewalks, in queues for late-night Sayles, or in CSA, always challenged me to read more and speak out more. For all its faults, Carleton allowed me to redefine myself, adapt, and grow. I will always look back at my time there fondly. 

Now that I have left the Carleton bubble and its comforts (safety, for one), I find navigating life in the ‘real world’ to be as traumatizing as tightrope walking. And I find myself increasingly questioning my path and future in this country. The brutal murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of the police, who are supposed to ‘serve and protect,’ have left me shaken to my core. I cannot help but wonder: Is the American dream really worth my life?  

The post The reckoning: reflections from former CSA president appeared first on The Carletonian.

Categories: Colleges

Who’s laughing at us?

Carletonian - Sat, 06/06/2020 - 11:22am

Monday, June 1, during President Trump’s leaked conference call, he told governors that the state of Minnesota had become “a laughing stock all over the world” in light of recent protests throughout Minneapolis. America acting as the worldwide butt of a joke has become a seemingly essential fact in Trump’s worldview. But who, exactly, is laughing at us? Before Trump called our governors, he sat down for a phone call with Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. Over the phone, Trump reportedly discussed inviting Russia to the 2020 G7 summit. Russia is not a member of the G7. 

Before the age of Trump, if you had suggested that a sitting Republican president would invite Vladimir Putin to an upcoming G7 summit, you would become a laughing stock. A cornerstone of Republican foreign policy has long been the demonstration of strength in the face of Russia. However, it seems that the Republican party has turned a new page in dealing with our seemingly ancient adversary. 

As President Trump’s 2016 campaign enveloped the country, Trump spoke highly of Vladimir and lowly of NATO. Trump’s dangerous and misguided rhetoric played directly into Putin’s hand as he aided our most extreme presidential candidates through a concerted but intractable political sabotage program which enlisted us all as clueless agents. Trump and his surrogates, for years now since taking the whitehouse, have praised Putin’s ability to pass unilateral domestic reforms while bashing NATO for not paying their fair share. Such rhetoric helps Putin exact two of his most long standing and critical goals: the dissolution of Western democracy and NATO alike.

It is hard to imagine a more advantageous situation for Russia today. As cities across the United States burn, our president fans the flames and Putin smiles. Putin knows that Trump has begun the walk down a road that he is either too stupid or too immoral to recognize: the road to authoritarianism. Since praising known autocrats, like Putin, for years without any sanctions from Republican leadership, Trump has learned that a military crackdown on widespread protests is not only necessary, but acceptable. 

As Trump continues to inflame tensions with rhetoric and violent repression on his march toward authoritarianism, let us not be fooled. The world isn’t laughing at our anguished citizens, the world’s dictators are laughing at our president.

The post Who’s laughing at us? appeared first on The Carletonian.

Categories: Colleges

The year of _____: Reflections on vulnerability, memory and closure

Carletonian - Sat, 06/06/2020 - 11:14am

My sophomore year at Carleton, I made a Medium post, titled “i journaled for a year and this is what i learned.” I took all the realizations I had come to in the past year, and I laid these intimate thoughts out for everyone to see as I shared a link to the post on Facebook. I’ve always been interested in the relationship between the public and the private, and how often our most personal posts on social media are still curated and carefully selected. Keeping that in mind, I uploaded direct quotes from my journal that I felt were important to share, and I tried not to think too much about how I was baring my soul on Facebook. Luckily, my friends’ comments applauding my courage to post these journal entries made me feel reassured. 

By creating and sharing something like this, I also felt wonderfully free and more comfortable letting people know that it’s okay not to be okay and that we can talk about it and have this conversation in a public setting. I was ready to no longer be this closed-off person, and I loved the feeling I got from being vulnerable and an open-book to people I knew back home and at Carleton. I thought to myself, “maybe all I needed to do to grow emotionally was to leave home and start anew in Northfield, Minnesota.” 

Then, I deleted the post. 

I don’t remember when nor the exact moments leading up to its virtual removal, but it is nowhere to be found. I even tried looking for it before writing this piece because I wanted some inspiration for what to say in my last few days as a Carleton student. Although that post is gone forever, I do have an understanding of why I made it and why it was eventually deleted. I know that my freshman year was the year of finding who I could trust and talk to about my worries and hopes. The year after, my sophomore year, was about finding comfort in this newfound vulnerability and taking the time to learn to be open with people after spending so long being closed-off. My junior year, the year I deleted my Medium post, was the year of knowing that I can choose when to be vulnerable and that I have the power to pick exactly with whom I want to share my thoughts. 

Each year needed the one before to lay down a different layer of growth. I can’t imagine what my Carleton experience would have looked like without the days of journaling, talking with friends about emotions that scared me and spending time alone to figure out who I was and what I wanted. 

Recently, I have been thinking about the concept of closure. Having left Carleton so abruptly mid-March, I have struggled with reconciling the loss of saying my final goodbyes to friends and professors, taking one last walk across campus and even whispering a farewell to the academic buildings I sometimes used to dread but mostly loved going into. 

A few nights ago, I finally got around to going through the boxes ResLife had sent me. I found myself smelling my clothes and thinking about the first memory that came to mind. I think the majority of the clothes just smelled like old boxes and storage spaces. Still, I was instantly transported to each time I opened the door to my new dorm room and the excitement I felt for the potential of the year ahead. I thought of each closet I’ve ever had at Carleton, containing clothes and belongings I would organize and put in their designated spaces until it was time to pack them up again. In some ways, using scent to bring back those memories felt like a goodbye; as I put each item back in the box, I said goodbye to the college student who wore them, wishing her well and thanking her for getting me to where I am today. 

Inside those boxes sent from Carleton were also the journals I kept. Without writing out my thoughts, I wouldn’t have come to so many realizations about myself, my relationships and what I wanted my future to look like. Sometimes, I’ll flip to a random entry in one of them and find my past self working out some thought or problem that I barely remember now. I think about how fickle memory is and how grateful I am to have documented so many of my experiences at Carleton. 

Along with being this nostalgic person, I’m also deeply idealistic. Each time I find myself thinking that a past situation was just so much better than life now, I just look up that date in my old journals as though I’m referring to an encyclopedia, and I am met with the reality of things. Even in those “good old days” I was still dealing with many of the stressors and worries that I carry in the present. I close the journal, internally thanking that past Hiba who didn’t know then how much her future self would need to hear those words, too. 

In my senior year at Carleton, I strengthened old friendships, worked to better understand myself and wondered what my final weeks on campus would look like. I spent many hours working on my Comps in the winter term, as most of us did, with the hope of finally relaxing and celebrating the end of college in the spring. I had planned on helping organize many spring term events, including Spring Concert and Rotblatt. I was unbelievably excited to finally graduate and have my family come from all over to see their eldest daughter, niece, sister and granddaughter walk across that stage. I had expected to have more time to do a number of things, but life changed, and it changed quickly. 

Spending my last Carleton term at home has been filled with so many different emotions. I always thought the only place I could grow as a person was at Carleton. I’m glad my time at home has shown me different. If anything, I’ve learned that Carleton was the starting place for my growth and now that I’m equipped with these tools, I can take that learning anywhere.  I am taking the time to sit and really be at home, which is not what I did these past few years. Home was always this temporary space before returning to college, but now I’m taking the time to settle down in a way that feels grounding and hopeful.

Each year at Carleton has been defined by a better understanding of myself and a chance to look at the year before and say, “this was the year of _______.” My senior year has been filled with changes that were unexpected and sudden. I felt the need to keep moving forward despite it all, whether that looked like packing up all my belongings at Carleton in four hours, adjusting to life under lockdown or acknowledging that I might not always get the closure I am expecting. Before writing, I wondered how to answer the question of what my Carleton experience has been like and how to quantify my 4-year college career into a few words. After some thinking and a bit of self-awareness, I now know to answer it this way: ask me next year. 

The post The year of _____: Reflections on vulnerability, memory and closure appeared first on The Carletonian.

Categories: Colleges

Carls and Coronavirus: How the NCAA’s response to COVID-19 could affect Carleton athletes’ plans

Carletonian - Sat, 06/06/2020 - 11:06am

The COVID-19 pandemic has not left any American community, demographic, region, or enterprise unaffected. As a whole, American culture has been put on pause: music festivals and concerts have been postponed, education has gone virtual, and many religious services have been suspended. Though certainly not the most societally consequential, perhaps no cultural component has ground to a halt quite like sport. Given that sporting events involve both close personal contact and tend to result in mass gatherings, nearly all formal competitive athletic events have been suspended since early March, affecting millions of athletes and their families. 

Much of the public discourse surrounding the lack of collegiate athletics has focused on the disappointment of athletes who were not able to complete their seasons. Social media has been inundated with “love letters” from athletes to their respective sports, with hoards of followers responding with excessive empathy. Broad media attention has also focused on how professional athletic leagues are handling their annual influx of athletes from the college level. Facing apparently insufferable revenue losses, Major League Baseball decided to shorten 2020’s amateur draft from forty rounds to just five, so that teams would not be required to pay thirty-five extra players.

One component of collegiate athletics that sports media on the whole is utterly failing to cover is how the virus has affected the plans of student-athletes who compete in spring sports, like baseball/softball, track and field or tennis. All NCAA spring athletes were unable to complete their 2020 seasons, while many teams, like Carleton Baseball, hardly competed at all. The team managed to compete in a lone double-header before Carleton made the decision to cancel all spring sports.

Ultimately, the varying lengths of spring seasons have proved inconsequential. Following the cancellation of spring sport championships, the NCAA decided to grant a waiver of eligibility for all spring athletes, so that these athletes can play an extra year, and will not lose out on a year of being eligible to compete for an NCAA school. These measures have been adopted by all three NCAA divisions, meaning that athletes from Carleton Baseball, Softball, Tennis, track and field and golf will all be eligible to play an extra year. Spring student-athletes throughout the NCAA have rejoiced at the news of added eligibility. The extra year arrived like an answered prayer to spring athletes, many of whom were crushed when their final season of competitive athletics was cut short.  

Of course, this presents an interesting conundrum for Carleton spring athletes. Many spring athletes plan to prolong their studies within eligibility rules, allowing them to play an extra year at their current college or university, so they do not have to transfer into a new athletic program. This is not possible at Carleton. Carls are rarely permitted to study for a thirteenth term, and only done so under very specific academic circumstances. There is no opportunity for spring athletes to continue to study at Carleton, should they wish to continue playing.

All things considered, Carleton athletes have a choice between seeking an institution with graduate-level education, at which they could theoretically redeem the recently gifted year of eligibility, or forgoing playing four years of college sports altogether. 

Sophomore infielder Cayten Gardner, who has intentions of pursuing a career in law, and therefore attending a graduate law program, suggested that the prospect of playing baseball as a law student excites him: “Baseball has been my biggest passion for as long as I can remember. I’d love to continue playing after Carleton. If I find a good fit that allows me to get the most out of my education as well as play baseball, I’ll play. But as always, my education comes first, and that’ll be the most important factor in my decision.”

The nature of track and field, which runs three different seasons per year, puts track athletes in a remarkably interesting position. As sophomore pole vaulter Sydney Marsh ’22 put it, depending on the circumstances, she could come out of the COVID-19 pandemic with three seasons of eligibility: sophomore outdoor, junior indoor, and spring outdoor. “Track is unique in that it is pretty independent, so I feel that transitioning to a grad school program would not be as difficult as some team sports,” said Marsh. “As a pole vaulter, and multi (heptathlon/pentathlon) athlete there are usually some schools looking to earn a few extra points here and there, so there is a pretty good likelihood that I could attempt to move up to a DII or DI school. I’m not exactly sure where my path will take me, but competing in track and field after my time at Carleton is definitely something I have been considering while in quarantine.”

Some athletes who plan to attend graduate school could care less about continuing to compete. Should fall sports be cancelled, women’s soccer’s Brie Forster ’22 doesn’t see herself allowing a potential year of eligibility to determine where she would attend graduate school: “At this point in my life, I don’t think it’s going to be a big enough priority to affect my decision on where I go. Especially considering I”d only be playing for one extra year, I think a lot of other factors are going to be far more important in my decision on where to attend grad school.” Neither does lineman Oliver Jacobs ’22, who has aspirations of attending Officer Candidate School when he graduates. Jacobs “will not come back for a thirteenth term” at Carleton, nor attend a traditional graduate school anywhere else, so to recover a potential lost year of football. 

As Gardner and Marsh make clear, the impact of coronavirus on the plans of Carleton spring athletes is significant. As the clock ticks closer to Carleton making a decision about fall term, only time will tell whether fall athletes will face a similar dilemma. 

The post Carls and Coronavirus: How the NCAA’s response to COVID-19 could affect Carleton athletes’ plans appeared first on The Carletonian.

Categories: Colleges

“It felt imaginary”: Visiting professor Michael Ebner teaches first Carleton term via Zoom

Carletonian - Sat, 06/06/2020 - 10:59am

Even in pre-COVID times, completing a visiting professorship was a nerve-racking endeavor. Suddenly, a visiting professor finds himself on an unfamiliar campus bombarded with new students, faculty members and a new campus culture. 

Nevertheless, the experience has its perks, especially at Carleton: new academic connections, the opportunity to share scholarly opinions with and gain fresh perspectives from the Carleton faculty, as well as the chance to become acquainted with Northfield. 

This spring, Michael Ebner, Associate Professor of History at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School and a scholar of Italian Fascism, taught two courses as Carleton’s Benedict Visiting Professor. Except there was a twist: he couldn’t technically “visit.” 

“My experience was definitely unique in that I wasn’t able to actually be on campus,” said Ebner. He was recruited to Carleton by Associate Professor of History David Thompkins, who completed graduate school alongside Ebner at Columbia University.

“David reached out to me in the fall of 2018 because he knew I had family in St. Paul.” Seeing it as an opportunity to teach in a new environment and spend time with his aging parents, Ebner accepted the position by January. He planned on taking advantage of the direct flight between Syracuse Hancock International Airport and MSP: he would fly to Minnesota every Monday, teach his Tuesday/Thursday classes and return home Thursday evenings to be with his wife and children.

Then, a pandemic struck. Stay-at-home orders prevented students and faculty from flocking back to campus, and Ebner found himself teaching Italian history to Carleton students he had never met before, from his basement.

“It felt imaginary. I don’t know the people, I don’t know the place, and the students all of a sudden just beamed into my living room” explained Ebner.

It may have felt surreal, but Ebner and his students found a way to make it work. The 22 students enrolled in “Fascism in Europe, 1914-1945” and the 21 enrolled in “Modern Italy in the Mediterranean World” completed readings, viewed asynchronous online lectures, and participated in class discussions moderated by Ebner twice a week.

Given the uncertainty brought forth by the pandemic, Ebner understood students would likely have other issues to tend to. Therefore, he made most collaborative sessions optional. “I figured that after a while, people would stop showing up.” To his surprise, they never did.

“I was really pleasantly surprised. I think the term went very well, and that was mostly due to how engaged Carleton students are, and how understanding they were of the circumstances. They were always present and willing to learn.”

That said, teaching classes online was not a walk in the park. “I can’t believe how much work it took,” said Ebner. Between giving lectures, grading papers and moderating Zoom discussions, Ebner found his time spread thin. “I really only took Mother’s Day off. On Saturdays and Sundays, my kids were asking ‘what happened to Dad?’”

Students felt the same way. Even with the mandatory S/CR/NC, online classes were no less demanding than those normally taught in person. 

“I quickly learned going to school via Zoom University was going to be no easier than being on Carleton’s campus.” explained sophomore Sydney Marsh.

Carl Marvin, an economics major, voiced his thoughts on some of the newfound difficulties this term: “I think there were a lot of new stresses that made it particularly challenging. Sometimes figuring out how to complete assignments online or trouble shooting with professors in general took a lot of energy and effort that I wouldn’t expect under normal circumstances.”

As the term winds to an end, Ebner will finish grading final papers and return to his research on  Italian imperialism in the fascist era. “My focus right now is on Libya, where the colonial war fought between 1923-1934 ended in what some scholars have labeled a genocide.” 

Ebner is trying to understand the motives behind the violence perpetrated by Mussolini’s Fascist regime in Eastern Libya. In his research he aims to discern what motivated the commitment of human atrocities and the establishment of concentration camps across Cyrenaica, whether it was a result of fascist glorification of violence, or more because of Mussolini’s desire for Italy to be respected as a colonial power. Assuming his research pans out, Ebner is hoping to publish the first book written in English detailing Italy’s oppressive colonial war in Libya.

The syllabus for Professor Ebner’s class “European Fascism, 1919-1945” began with a deep study into the definition of the term ‘fascism’ itself. Stanley G. Payne, author of the most extensive work on fascist history in academia, was Ebner’s professor during his undergraduate years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

Ebner required that students study the generic definitions of fascism laid out by scholars like Payne before they dove into the actual study of Italian, German and Spanish fascism. After examining the literature for themselves, students came to the conclusion that, in a definitive sense, fascism includes the central elements of paramilitarism, rhetoric based on national rebirth and a strong authoritarian ruler.

The study of fascism is relevant to today’s world because of how often it gets tossed around in political debate. Just recently, in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis Police officer Derick Chauvin, Dr. Cornel West appeared on CNN where, speaking out of anger, he repeatedly used the term “neo-fascist” to describe President Donald Trump.

“In the past thirty years, every new development in politics and society has been labelled fascist.” says Ebner. “George Bush was a fascist, the Taliban was Islamo-fascism, Obama was liberal fascism, Zuckerberg is a techno-fascist, and so on. I’ve read stuff like this, and the authors usually make good points and sound convincing, especially if you’ve never studied fascism.”

“At the end of the day, though, I think to myself, why do we need this language, ‘fascist’? Because it’s an insult, because it stings. We have other terms in our vocabulary (‘populists,’ ‘right-wing,’ ‘nativist,’ ‘white supremacist,’ ‘racist,’ etc.), but none of these terms quite convey that someone is evil, nefarious, and dangerous like the word ‘fascist,’” noted Ebner. 

Fascism carries a dark connotation, which is why the public uses it as weaponizing verbiage to be hurled across the ideological spectrum. Take, for example, antifa- the far left militant group that defines itself as being ‘anti-fascist,’ and has been active in the recent wave of riots across American cities.

Scholars are frequently approached with proposals that political figures like Trump are ‘fascist.’ However, well-studied historians have a difficult time making such an assessment.

“I encourage people to apply ‘generic fascism’ to anything. Apply it to Trump! Whomever!  Social scientific definitions exist to be tested, and it can be useful to do so. But, most historians of fascism are going to conclude that Trump is not. It doesn’t mean they support him or are trying to protect his image. They just think that the term has a specific meaning, even if that meaning is debated amongst themselves.”

“I personally do not do research or publish on generic fascism. I just teach it, and I can teach my students about it, and they can go out in the world, knowing what they know, and decide for themselves what looks like fascism and what doesn’t.”

Even though it was through a computer screen, Professor Ebner brought to Carleton his deep knowledge of Italian fascism and equipped students with the tools to decipher what is ‘fascism’ and what is not in the real world. 

When the pandemic is a thing of the past and Carleton returns to on-campus learning, Professor Ebner hopes to follow the precedent set by previous Benedict visiting professors and give a talk on campus, at which point he will finally have the chance to visit Northfield and meet the students he taught this spring. 

The post “It felt imaginary”: Visiting professor Michael Ebner teaches first Carleton term via Zoom appeared first on The Carletonian.

Categories: Colleges

Retiring prof. Mark Hansell looks back on 31 years at Carleton

Carletonian - Sat, 06/06/2020 - 10:53am

After 31 years of teaching Chinese at Carleton, Professor Mark Hansell (Mai Lao Shi) is retiring this spring. Throughout his time at Carleton, Hansell has taught 100-level Chinese classes, in addition to several Chinese language and linguistics courses. Hansell will now spend the next two terms on sabbatical, during which he plans on researching writing systems and moving to Hawaii. Former students Charlotte Nahley ’23 and Helena Lee ’23 sat down (virtually) with him to discuss a range of topics, from Hansell’s beginnings as a college student excited about language, to his favorite TV shows and Carleton memories (and most importantly, the character he identifies with most from the Chinese textbooks).

HL: So where are you from originally, and what was it like living in a college town in Minnesota?

MH: I grew up in Connecticut, in Windsor, just North of Hartford. Then I spent grad school in California, and I sort of ended up in the Midwest and went, “Wow! This is darn interesting.” I didn’t know places like this existed, and I thought only in movies and TV shows do they have, you know, quaint little Midwestern towns with white picket fences and all that, but this is pretty nice.

Northfield’s great cause you know, there’s so much culture and everything that would not be here if not for the colleges.

HL: So, how did you end up at Carleton?

MH: Oh man, that’s quite a story. By accident, actually. I was about to finish grad school, and I was looking for jobs. I decided I would only look for tenure track jobs, and Carleton didn’t advertise one, so I didn’t apply. And then I went to this conference and shared a room with this other guy to save money.  He ended up sharing a table at breakfast with Katie Sparling from Carleton, and apparently, he was talking about me.

He said, “Oh, this guy, he speaks really good Chinese. Are you looking for a new teacher?” She replied, “Well, in fact we are”. So I got this message saying, “Carleton College wants to talk to you.” I came for an interview, and they said that it was actually a tenured job, they just didn’t advertise it that way. So I ended up at Carleton, which worked out perfectly because it was the perfect place for me.

There are two stories I tell about how randomness determines the course of your life, and that’s one of them. The other one is that I only took Chinese my senior year of college because Japanese and Arabic didn’t fit in my schedule. So if my schedule had been different, I would have been, I don’t know, an Arabic teacher. Who knows.

CN:  That’s a perfect segue into our second question: what was your experience of learning Mandarin, and when did you start?

MH: Let’s see, I’d taken a bunch of German and French already. I was a linguistics major, and I would hear about interesting and bizarre features of other languages. I just thought, “Ah, French, German, English, they’re also similar. I want to learn something different.” So I ended up taking Chinese. I was pretty bad at the beginning. My tones were terrible.

HL: What drew you to linguistics and learning Chinese?

MH: I started out in high school where I took French. My junior year, I had this really boring teacher who sucked all the fun out of it. I said, “Oh, this sucks, I’m never going to take a foreign language again.” But then I heard about linguistics and got interested in that. Linguistics is all about these complicated rules that you follow without knowing it. It’s totally unconscious, and yet you do all this stuff. The idea that “Oh, you would actually know what’s going on in other people’s brains, even though they didn’t” seemed kind of like a superpower, like x-ray vision or something. And then I figured, “if linguistics is interesting, languages must be too.” So then I started taking German and then Chinese, and then Japanese. Hawaiian is next.

CN: What languages can you speak, and is there something about language learning that interests you?

MH: Well, I sort of rank them as English, very well, Chinese pretty well, Japanese, mediocre. Taiwanese, less so, French and German, I’ve forgotten a bit of. Although, I can still read French well, I just don’t speak it as much. Language is like a very complicated puzzle. And it all fits together, sort of interlocking in a way. It’s like taking apart a complicated piece of machinery and seeing and how it all works.

Plus if you succeed at learning it, you can communicate with people. It really makes you think about things a little differently when you hear people expressing a concept in a totally different way than you’re familiar with.

HL: What’s your learning style and what is your teaching style?

MH: Well I’m really bad at memorizing stuff, but I know it’s extremely important in learning a language, so I sort of pound my head against that. When I learn, I always try to relate what I learned to stuff I already know. Knowledge is a network, and the more different things you can connect it to, the easier it’s going to be to remember.  My teaching style is kind of similar. I always try to teach through analogies. It makes language easier to remember if you remember that “oh yeah, that’s like something I already do”.

Like in my linguistics class, I have all these analogies that I’m sure people get sick of, say, “the aspirated “P” is like Superman and the unaspirated “P” is like Clark Kent, and they’re actually one and the same person.” And if that doesn’t work, I drive in another analogy and another until people finally get it.

CN: I had another professor this term who also used Superman as an analogy. It was something in computer science, which is cool because they’re both types of languages, but they’re also very different. This next question is related: do you have any tips about learning languages or just learning in general?

MH: For languages, memorization is extremely important. Just because when you’re going to use something in another language, it has to be on the tip of your tongue. But also, the more different ways you can use something, the easier it is to remember. So when people are learning Chinese, I always tell them: don’t just write the characters over and over again, write phrases using the character so that you’ll know how it’s used, not just what it looks like, and pronounce it as you write it. Connect it to as many different things as you can. And I guess my other tip is to talk a lot. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. I mean, you should worry about what you sound like, listen to yourself, but don’t let that stop you from talking to people.

HL: Alright, these next few questions are less learning-related. Do you have a pet?

MH: I don’t have a pet. Our plan was to move to Hawaii after I retire. My wife’s from there, so we would go back and have a nice spacious place where we could get a dog and all that, but we can’t do that right now because everything’s on hold. So no, I don’t, but I kind of wish we did. There’s a dog in my future, but not in my present.

CN: This is another kind of sillier question that every Carleton student wants to know: Burton or LDC?

MH: Oh  LDC. Definitely LDC.

CN: Correct answer. The other part of that question is, what is your favorite food?

MH: Oh, man. Well, a good caramel milkshake is really hard to beat. 

HL: What’s your favorite form of entertainment, or what are your favorite TV shows?

MH: Oh let’s see, my favorite TV shows. Rick and Morty, though there are hardly any new episodes these days. I have seen all of them many times. The Expanse is really good, and I cannot miss American Ninja Warrior. 

I spend a lot of time playing the guitar. I used to play all different stuff, but now I play some country or country-ish things. Sometimes I play really anything that comes to my mind. I play a lot of songs that I used to know, and I gradually figure out chord structures that go with them.

CN: Do you think that your interest in music is related to your interest in language?

Mark: I wonder about that. Probably. One thing that I think has allowed me to learn languages fairly well and teach languages fairly well is having a good ear for listening, and sort of analyzing the sounds I’m hearing. So that helps in both.

What are your sabbatical plans, and how have they been affected by COVID-19? 

MH: Oh, well, my sabbatical plans have been to, first of all, rest up, because the last term was just really busy. I have some stuff I want to do, but none of it involves traveling anywhere, so it hasn’t really been affected.

Eventually I have an idea for a study I want to do about writing systems and how they change when they go from one language to another. It’s sort of a very long term thing. Now that I have time, I’m making a lot of progress under reading a Chinese science fiction trilogy I started last year. 

It’s very weird to go from teaching every term for so long to, really, “Wow. I don’t have a lesson to prepare for tomorrow.” It’s so different. I’m getting used to it. It’s going to be very strange at the end of August. Because every year I would go, “Oh my God, classes are going to start and I’m not ready, I’ve got to prepare my syllabus and all this stuff.”

So I’ll have that little jolt of fear and then realize I actually don’t have anything to do.

CN: So what are some of your biggest takeaways after all these years of teaching?

MH: I’m extremely lucky. That I found something I was good at that was also useful and valuable and that I found a place that. It was all sort of random the way I stumbled into this whole thing.

But you know, I found something that I really liked doing. A lot of people don’t. Well, especially a lot of people in linguistics, they sort of looked down on language teaching. A lot of people think that teaching, first year language is no fun, but really I love it. Because that’s when the most happens, right?

Carleton students are the best. You may have heard that before, but they’re not lying. And people who have taught at other places often come to Carleton and say “man these students are great. Wow.” 

CN: What do you think makes them so great?

MH: It’s an unnaturally dense concentration of nerds. [Laughs]

So, right. Consider right at high school, you have all kinds of different people. There’s a small group of really brainy nerds and other kinds of people, and you just skim those off the top and put them all in one place. And, uh, so yeah, I mean. There it’s, I think curiosity and willingness to, willingness to work at it in order to get, get better.

Carls are really curiosity and have an openness to new experience, but not for the sake of competition or outdoing anybody 

HL: Who is your favorite character in the Chinese textbook?

MH: I’d have to say Ma Dawei, no doubt. 

The post Retiring prof. Mark Hansell looks back on 31 years at Carleton appeared first on The Carletonian.

Categories: Colleges

Theatre in a pandemic: Q&A with playwright Don Zolidis ’97

Carletonian - Sat, 06/06/2020 - 10:42am

In a world turned upside down by a global pandemic, how does one even begin to fathom creating theatre works—an inherently physical, social, and in-person art form that is predicated on the unique and powerful relationship between actor and audience? As a Class of 2020 Theatre Arts Major, I am asking myself these questions and more each and every day. How can I be an artist when my craft is on pseudo-pause? How can we continue to create art in this new e-world, transferring our skills, processes, and crafts online? Don Zolidis ’97, a former Carleton English major who gave a Convocation talk this past February, has some thoughts on the matter. Zolidis has written over one hundred plays, and his latest, 10 Ways to Survive Life in a Quarantine, is designed to be performed over Zoom. I sat down with him to discuss theatre in the COVID era and his new work.

Colleen Scallen: So for those who didn’t see you speak at Convo this past winter, can you give a brief background on your playwriting career?

Don Zolidis: Yeah. So I wrote my very first play at Carleton for something called Chelsea 11:17 in winter term of my freshman year. And the very first reaction was somebody stood up and pointed at me and said, ‘you’re going to hell’ when it was over—a person who’s still a good friend of mine and later directed one of my shows in Chicago, actually!

CS: Really! Oh my gosh, that’s so funny.  

DZ: Yeah! Anyway, after that I really fell in love with it. And I wrote a lot of plays for Chelsea. I wrote and directed a show, my senior year at Carleton that was I think three and a half hours long because I didn’t understand formatting. I ended up going to graduate school for playwriting at the Actor’s Studio program at The New School in New York City. And from there, I ended up teaching middle-school theater at a public school in Texas. And that’s when I started writing for young people. And then those plays got published and were very very popular. And I wrote a ridiculous number of them.

CS: I think it’s cool to contextualize that Little Nourse was a part of it, and Chelsea 11:17 which was kind of the precursor to our 24 Hour Show / Lenny Dee.  And you were an English major, yes? What was your comps?

DZ: I took the test. I went and I asked, I think my sophomore year, whether I could write a novel for my comps, and they were like, ‘no.’ [laughs] And so, I decided since I had written that play, and I was focused on doing that, I was just going to do comps to get it done. It’s not going to be the culmination of my education. I felt like writing my own show—you know, it was kind of like, there were rules, and I ignored the rules that didn’t help me, and did what I wanted to do. I got my educational experience that way.

CS: Yeah, I know that for me so much of my education was outside of the classroom, you know? It was the ETB show I was in, it was the Players shows I was in, it was the comps shows specifically that I was in that taught me a lot about how I want to make theater. 

DZ: Yeah. I really credit Carleton with my becoming a playwright, but very little about is about what I learned in a classroom. Most of that is what I learned with my friends and peers doing shows. But that’s part of Carleton and that’s, you know, part of why I went to Carleton, was to have that community.

CS: Yeah, absolutely. And community is so, so important. So much of theater is the community and is being present with people. So, how are you handling it? How are you like looking at it and thinking forward about how to shift this community online? 

DZ: It’s kind of, I mean, this is gonna sound weird: it’s kind of a wonderful challenge. I had learned how to do something one way and I had written 120 plays, you know, doing it one way. And suddenly you’re forced to say: ‘okay, you need to throw that out the window, you need to think about this differently.’ And it’s such a great creative challenge, to suddenly have to write in a new form and with new restrictions, to suddenly have to reinvent how to write a play. It was kind of thrilling—scary, but thrilling because it forces you to grow and to change, which I really appreciated. So specifically thinking about these plays, I’m thinking about: how do I create that sense of community, virtually and online? And how do I provide an opportunity for people to get together to find some kind of joy or humor in the world? 

CS: Yeah.

DZ: So there was sort of a scramble between other established professional playwrights. And I saw a lot of them writing really heavy stuff, you know about isolation and about quarantine and those types of things. And I thought, the last thing that I want to watch is something really heavy about a disease right now. You know? I just want something to take my mind off it. And I want to give an experience to probably a teenager who has lost their show and lost their school and lost their community. And I want them to have some fun. So I wrote a play specifically designed for fun and I think that’s why it took off like it did.

CS: Okay, awesome, that’s a great segue. Let’s talk about your new work 10 Ways To Survive Life in a Quarantine. Could you give a brief summary of the play itself? 

DZ: The general conceit is that it’s kind of a how-to guide to survive and thrive in the current environment. And the humor of it is that essentially everybody who’s giving you advice is doing terribly. So it essentially opens with a scene from Castaway— basically, somebody has like, befriended their basketball, and that’s their only friend now. And I did things like I had people act out Shakespeare plays with stuffed animals. So I had, you know, MacBear and MacDuck murdering each other. And then I also did things with pets,because I assumed that people would have pets at home, or there would be enough pets that they could be in the show. So there’s a person who’s trying to do a production of Cats, and there’s a performance of, I called it “furball of the opera,” and I did Beauty and the Beast with the dog as well—the dog is Belle and the human plays all the other roles. And again, those are challenges that I’d never had as a playwright. It’s like, how do I fit a dog into the show? And  I have to write the play in such a way to account for the fact that the dog might wander off during the performance. These are not trained animals, they’re just random dogs. So, how do you write stage directions? Like: “also, if your dog leaves, do this.” So that’s part of the play, too, is trying to think about what a kid has in their room. What can they make a costume out of? What can they make a set out of? How can I bring them some fun? And how can it be fun for people watching? 

CS: Oh my gosh, that’s great. That’s so cool. So earlier you mentioned what inspired you to write it, to bring some levity and help focus on the students whose productions were canceled. I think it’s awesome that you were bringing what you were talking about at Convo—that harnessing joy, saying you can use it as a method to reach people and to bring people in. 

DZ: Yeah, that was where my mindset was, and I wanted to have some fun writing it myself, right? When I’m writing a comedy, I’m enjoying it. And I’m hopefully laughing when I’m writing a comedy. At the end of March, it was so hard to focus on anything. And, you know, your brain is just reacting to all of this terrible news coming hour by hour, and I needed a little bit of solace to get away from that. Writing kind of has always been that for me.

CS: Yeah. So I saw that the play has 100+ applications for rights in seven countries, which is incredible reach. 

DZ: We’re at 200 now, we have more than 200. 

CS: 200? Wow! That’s bananas. I love it. And your plays are and have been historically wildly popular and widely performed in middle and high schools around the country and various countries. But this is a pretty rapid response relative to the play’s recent release a month and a half ago. So do you think that COVID is playing a factor in that popularity, because it’s kind of unique in that sense?

DZ: Oh, absolutely. I mean, you know, I wrote this play in four days. And everyone’s show was canceled. So, in a lot of ways, I was one of the very first people to get something out there that people could do. I was kind of a first mover in that sort of marketplace. And again, the speed at which I write plays, which I’ve learned from Carleton came in real handy later on. [Laughs.] 

CS: Right. So have there been other works that have come out since?

DZ: There have been a couple. And you know, this gets into a bigger question of balancing art versus commerce as a professional artist. So I’m creating a play that can be done virtually online. Hopefully, that play is only going to get performed for like three months, and then it’s going to go away. So balancing art and commerce, I needed to get that play out quick. And other playwrights who are not fast would miss the window when these things would be useful. You know? If you came out with a play right now that’s only designed to be done by people in quarantine, it’s not going to do very well because we’re rapidly getting—hopefully, maybe—past the need for that show.

CS: Right, and it’s different now because many places in the U.S. are starting to open back up, so as you said, the need for it, or the ability for it to exist in that specific niche atmosphere is kind of shifting.

DZ: Yeah. So I’m currently writing plays that can be done in what I imagine as a fall landscape that is still different from what we have right now. So I wrote a play—again, a really fun, silly play—that could be done by people who are socially distanced onstage. Or it could be performed live-streamed, or it could be done virtually online. So that no matter what’s happening in the fall, the show could still be performed. 

CS: I’m mulling over what you said about the intersections of theater and commerce, because you know, like you wrote this play and like, in two or three years, we won’t have to do a quarantine play, so it’s not meant for the long haul. And I think so much of art is “contributing to the canon” or whatever, but you have to balance that with what people need right now and how that intersects with people’s sanity, really.

DZ: Yeah, it’s an interesting challenge. It’s like thinking “I’m going to write a play that’s going to be done for the next six months, and then never again,” you know, that’s very different from your normal mindset, which is “I’m going to write something for the ages.”

CS: For sure. And theatre has always been an important tool, an important contemporaneous tool in that it’s supposed to be addressing the current times, but focusing it in such a micro lens, I think is new. And there’s a lot of online Zoom table reads and video performances or stitched-together recordings, and obviously, as you said, a hefty dose of COVID or quarantine-inspired projects. But it’s really interesting to see how that landscape is shifting, and one of the questions going through my brain is “is this still theatre? Where does it start intersecting with performance art or film?” And, you know, theater shouldn’t be gate-kept, but how do you hold on to stuff and also allow it to shift?

DZ: I was listening to NPR this week, and they had Oscar Eustis, who’s the artistic director of the Public Theater in New York talking about this and his plan. And you know, they normally do like Shakespeare in the Park, and they can’t do that. But his plan is to take theater out of the building, and take it to the communities, to take the actors out instead of asking people to come into the space. They’re going to go out to the community and do those shows for free first, to sort of share theater rather than asking people to go, you know, mask themselves and risk infection to go into a closed space for two hours. So I think that we’re going to see a lot of that. 

CS: What I’m struggling with right now is what role artists have with this kind of landscape, and what role art can have in a way that’s not trite or contrived. I think it brings up this larger question of: what role does art have, and how can art be something that’s political and worthwhile in this climate?

DZ: I think that artists need to really be listening to people right now. I love what Anna Deavere Smith did with Fires in the Mirror and Twilight Los Angeles, where she went and she created art out of people’s stories who were involved in those disturbances. And I think that you can share stories that can hopefully spark change, and I think those have to exist hand-in-hand with people who are on the frontlines and people who are at the same time working to elect candidates who can work it from that direction as well. So I think of art as one prong in a way to create change.

CS: Yeah, that’s a really that’s a really good way of putting it, “one prong,” because as artists, we have a skillset, we have something to contribute, but it’s figuring out how to do that in a way that’s not taking more space and is instead uplifting what should be uplifted. And obviously part of that starts in art as well, because theater, particularly— and art in general—once you get into the higher echelons of it, is a very white, male space. And so, figuring out how we can “walk our talk” is something that’s really important.

DZ: Absolutely, and amplify voices that are not just those white male voices. And I think that’s a role for everyone involved, and I try to amplify voices that are not my own, especially those who are better able to speak on this particular issue than I am, of course.  And again, you know, we’re in a very chaotic phase right now with, COVID, and with this, and the art that’s going to be created is going to be different than what we have seen before. 

CS: Yeah, absolutely. And this time is forcing us to reevaluate the expensive, metropolitan, “only Shakespeare” kind of theatre.

DZ: There’s a lot of money in buildings, right? There’s a lot of money that’s gone into spaces. 

CS: And those spaces are useless right now. 

DZ: Right? And is that the best use of our resources? I mean, that’s a pretty old model. So, what is the new model that we can work from? You know, one of the things that this play has shown me is how truly global you can be. I have a show in Egypt, I’ve got one in China, I’ve got one in Slovakia, you know, they’re all over the place. I got contacted by a teacher from Colombia. So you know, on practically every continent I have a show! [Laughs.] And you know, this is such an interesting way to suddenly address people all over the globe that are experiencing very similar things. 

CS: Yeah, that’s something that I’ve been thinking about too. If you want to talk about accessibility in theater, this kind of stuff is making theater less accessible because of the fact that there are barriers to people accessing Zoom, to being able to have a stable Internet connection or presuming they have access to a computer. Where for a lot of people you know, free Wi Fi and computer access was through stuff like public libraries, which aren’t open right now. But it’s also making it more accessible for physical accessibility needs, as so many theaters are not ADA accessible, or they’re not accessible for the deaf community. So I think it’s interesting. It’s showing how it’s a double-edged sword of accessibility, sort of. 

DZ: Yeah. I mean, there’s absolutely the notion that that Internet is a utility, and it needs to be available for everybody, and it’s not totally there yet. I think we have pretty good coverage in this country, but there are a lot of people who do not have access. So that’s one kind of accessibility. And then the other one that you mentioned—I think of this in health terms, too, that if we do reopen some kind of theatres in the fall, you know, maybe your 87-year-old grandmother shouldn’t come.

CS: And at places like the Guthrie, that’s a lot of their—

DZ: That’s half their audience! So, if she can tune in from her computer and watch, while there are also people who maybe can be in the audience—maybe they’re safer, maybe they’ve already had the virus. So that’s kind of this hybrid thing that I’m thinking of, where we have a live-streamed performance that’s going on at the same time as a live performance. Anytime there’s a huge disruption like this, there’s a period of chaos and creativity around it. And there are opportunities in there to change it. And there are opportunities and I think positive outcomes that are possible. But we have to think creatively about those things. 

The post Theatre in a pandemic: Q&A with playwright Don Zolidis ’97 appeared first on The Carletonian.

Categories: Colleges

From YSER to ERA: Sophia Maymudes ’20 discusses the art of crossword construction

Carletonian - Sat, 06/06/2020 - 10:30am

The best part about being a crossword puzzle constructor is that I’m prepared every time I have to share  a fun fact about myself on the first day of a new class. It makes me seem appropriately quirky, right? However, the world of crossword construction isn’t as exclusive and scary as you might imagine—take it from someone who, two years ago, thought that only my parents would ever be interested in my puzzles.

In middle school, I started solving early-week puzzles New York Times puzzles with my mom. She’s since told me that she would let me figure out the easy clues so I could feel like I was contributing too—thanks, mom! The first puzzles I ever wrote were for my high school newspaper, and once I came to college, I published a few in the Carletonian Bald Spot. My parents were the ones who initially pushed me to submit my puzzles to the New York Times. I think they were mostly fed up with how much I’d complain if a puzzle was not to my liking—“this puzzle has the word YSER in it? Even I could have written a better puzzle than that!”So eventually, I gave it a shot. 

I won’t go too far into the technical details of crossword construction, but I’ll give you a broad overview of how a puzzle comes together. The first step (and the hardest, in my opinion) of writing a crossword is to think up a theme. The theme is what keeps a puzzle from just being trivia (a common misconception about puzzles!) and can include literally anything, although most involve some sort of wordplay. The most recent puzzle I published in the New York Times had the theme of adding the letters “RE” to common phrases to make new ones, which we then wrote clues for. For example, “Hate getting ready to move?” was the clue for RESENT PACKING, and “Places to swim during school?” was RECESS POOLS (The puzzle’s title? RESOLVED).

Next, I’ll place the theme answers into the grid, and then figure out where the rest of the black squares should go. The black squares in a puzzle are symmetric – if you flip a crossword upside-down, the grid should look the same as it would right-side up. Then, I’ll fill in the rest of the grid with other words, trying hard to make each entry as clean and sparkly as possible. This part is where software comes in handy—I use a program called Crossfire to construct, which allows me to click on a particular space in my grid and see all possible words that could fit there. It’s still a lot of work for me, though, because I have to work through hundreds of possibilities to find the best possible fill, a judgement which is in many ways quite arbitrary. I have to draw upon my experience as a solver to think about what words will bring the most enjoyment. 

The final piece of construction is writing the clues, and this is also the piece where I feel I have the most to grow. As much as I love wordplay and make puns in my regular life, it can be tricky to find the perfect balance between clues that are funny and clever, but still get the point across. I’m still in the process of finding my cluing voice, but I’m having a lot of fun trying! 

My first puzzle was accepted to the New York Times in the summer of 2018, about three months after I’d initially submitted it. When it finally ran in December 2018, I was studying abroad in Budapest and had to trek to four different newsstands to find a copy! However, the fact that I was still able to solve my puzzle thousands of miles from the US speaks to the universality of crossword puzzles, a range that continues to surprise me. My second puzzle included a blurb written by Will Shortz that mentioned that I was a Carleton student. This led to many alums I’d never met sending me congratulatory Facebook messages. I read several crossword blogs, and it’s really weird to go online and read literally hundreds of comments about something you’ve written. Some are critical (I still remember a comment I got about my first puzzle, in which the revealer was KITTY CORNER—one commenter wrote “I hate cats and all cat related puzzles”), but the vast majority are complimentary. That’s what I like best about constructing—I love bringing a little joy into people’s lives by giving them a fun puzzle to solve. 

You might think of crossword construction as a solitary hobby. For me, it’s anything but. I love co-constructing with other people—it’s really nice when you’re feeling stuck on a particular corner or clue to be able to email the grid to someone else and say “it’s your problem now!” Over half of the puzzles I’ve published through major outlets have been collaborations, including two with other Carleton students. So if you’re interested in getting into crossword construction, feel free to reach out to me—I’d love to work with you! (Particularly if you have an interesting clue for ERA. I’m totally out of those by now).

The post From YSER to ERA: Sophia Maymudes ’20 discusses the art of crossword construction appeared first on The Carletonian.

Categories: Colleges

Data Request to MN Fusion Center

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Fri, 06/05/2020 - 12:46pm
Minnesota Fusion Center logo

Last Friday, Alan and I were on errands, and we stopped at Lisu’s Thai Taste (oh, I miss being able to go up there regularly!), and saw a bearcat sitting on the 80th St. overpass of Hwy. 61 in Cottage Grove and grabbed this photo (3 p.m. May 29, 2002):

Facing us, and the bearcat, was this:

We were on our way back home, with stop for picnic in Hastings. As we arrived at the riverside park, we saw a law enforcement boat (sheriff? It was red, couldn’t read the side) motoring up the Mississippi at a high rate of speed. WHAT IS GOING ON? So I fired up the phone, and saw on a Red Wing list claims that “rioters are heading our way,” that “THE BLACK PANTHERS ARE COMING!” and “they’re coming to burn down the Cottage Grove High School, Chauvin went there!” What? Yeah, really. Later there was an alert distributed by Red Wing Police Dept. saying there was a “credible threat” and that people should stay away from the protest scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, and this notion of a “credible threat” was confirmed by more than one City Council member.

My red flags went up, false flag detectors bending the needle. I did some calling around, because no one who had posted this crap knew anything about it, they didn’t source before posting. Stores were closed in Cottage Grove, Target was closing all their metro stores, Menards hadn’t closed yet, and the guy who answered at Menards, which was closing in an hour, was utterly freaked, that “thousands of rioters were coming to Cottage Grove,” and “they’re going to burn down the high school because Chauvin went there” (again) (did he? and why would anyone care decades later?). Had a rational conversation with someone from the sheriff’s office, the bearcat was out there due to the rumors “with utmost caution,” but I heard an undercurrent of “good grief, what are people thinking” in the mix.

I’ve sent in this Data Practices Act Request, because the rumors and “alerts” and “credible threats,” well, they aren’t credible — I mean really, 70-75,000 agitators on the road to the Metro? Out-state communities filled with rumors of THOUSANDS OF RIOTERS deemed credible threat? Who would believe such crap, and who is spreading this around and why? Who benefits from this?

Data Practices Act Request_Minnesota Fusion CenterDownload UPDATED: Sheriff says credible threats were received Saturday; state Rep. Grossell takes part in citizen patrol

Walz sending national guard to Minnesota’s western border due to ‘credible threat’

From Unicorn Riot, looking into the workings and ties to Minnesota Fusion Center:

Police Fusion Center Tied to Fake Social Media Accounts

Categories: Citizens

Baptisia or False Indigo

If you’re wanting a striking perennial that needs minimum care to produce maximum results, take a  look at the False Indigo or Baptisia.  Some also refer to this as “False Lupine”.   A sun to part sun perennial, it will mature to a size of approximately 2′ to 3′ and can  be used as a cut flower.  Place this perennial in the back of your perennial garden.  In late spring or early summer you will have beautiful blooms.  Sequence with summer and fall blooming perennials to have color all season.  

The hummingbirds and butterflies are attracted to the Baptisia.   A prairie plant, Baptisia doesn’t like to be moved, so chose your site carefully.  It will reward you for years to come.  It is almost maintenance free – other than applying a dose of fertilizer once a season, it doesn’t require a lot of other work.  Some gardeners want to remove the seed pods – others will leave them for a contrast in the garden.  Once established, it is quite drought tolerant.

The post Baptisia or False Indigo appeared first on Knecht's Nurseries & Landscaping.

Categories: Businesses

Dwarf Korean Lilac Tree

The Dwarf Korean Lilac is a single trunk dwarf tree.  The prolific blooms are highly fragrant and a light lilac in color. This tree is a beautiful accent plant and  it is smothered in stunning panicles of fragrant flowers  in late spring.

Dwarf Korean Lilac tree

The Dwarf Korean Lilac is a  lollipop-shaped tree that will grace your entryway garden,  can be planted around your patio or can be used in a formal setting or anchoring a cottage garden.   A matching pair will elegantly frame a garden gate, a pathway, or your front door.  Dwarf Korean Lilacs bloom a bit later than common lilacs and has wavy, nickel-sized leaves that won’t mildew like some lilacs will. While only blooming for a few weeks in late spring, once the blooms have gone this tree will provide a look that will complement your landscape all year.

This is our Dwarf Korean Lilac at our home – just a few feet from the front door.  The birds love it all year and the fragrance of the flowers is incredible for these few weeks.  Walking past it makes you want to stop and pull up a chair and just sit for awhile!

We have a limited number of  Dwarf Korean Lilac trees available in two sizes – a smaller size #10 container for $189 and a larger tree in a #25 container that is absolutely gorgeous and will provide definite impact right away for $299.  

Maintenance?   Once every few years, we prune ours back to contain its size in the location we have it.  In a garden set away from the buildings – you may never want to prune yours.  Mature height is approximately 8′ -10′ and width of about 8′.  

The post Dwarf Korean Lilac Tree appeared first on Knecht's Nurseries & Landscaping.

Categories: Businesses

From the vault: Honeybees!

The Children's House - Thu, 05/28/2020 - 1:11pm

Categories: Citizens

Navigating Empathetic Marketing

Brand Yourself Consulting - Tami Enfield - Wed, 05/06/2020 - 5:23pm

Welcome to our new normal. Every single day, we are bombarded with updates, statistics, and stay-at-home orders. Emotions are running high, and everyone is feeling a little stuck. This adjustment has been nothing short of difficult, and it’s especially tricky...

The post Navigating Empathetic Marketing appeared first on Brand Yourself Consulting.

Categories: Businesses

Arrowhead VII

Blowing and Drifting - Christopher Tassava - Sun, 01/26/2020 - 12:40am

Monday morning at 7:00, I’ll start my seventh Arrowhead Ultra, my seventh attempt to ride my fatbike down the 135 miles of snowmobile trail across northern Minnesota from International Falls to Tower.

Sundogs just after the start of the 2019 Arrowhead

So far I’ve finished the race each time I’ve started, with times ranging from 19.5 hours in 2015 to 29 hours in 2014. My best placing was my first year, when we rode in the polar vortex and I wound up in 7th place.

The forecast (as of Saturday night) looks increasingly good, with highs near 25° on Monday afternoon and lows near 0° at the start and then overnight — which likely means actual air temps near -10°’ when we hit the low swampy areas. Those temperatures are very manageable and should mean the trail will be hard and fast.

This year — after a very busy few months at work and much less riding than I’d like — I’m in less good physical shape than I’d like, although I rode well at the Tuscobia 160 a month ago. I’m primarily gunning for another finish and I’ll be happy to go under 24 hours.

If you want to see how I am doing, check Trackleaders, a cool free service that uses GPS data to plot some (but not all) of us on a map of the course!

Categories: Citizens
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