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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cameras Are Awesome

Well, Zach's pictures inspired me. I went through some of my photos and picked a few out for all of you, starting with this unicorn caterpiller. The latin term: Addie'snewpromdateium.
Okay so here I am in my favorite shirt feeling really happy. This was taken at "The Lookout" behind Thumb Butte. In the distance on clear days you can see the San Francisco Peaks. I feel like I talk about potlucks to prospective students a lot. I'm not joking... Delicious.

Here is a plant full of ladybugs. This was during a lunch break on orientation. I was talking feminist politics with these bug ladies in no time, and we quickly became best friends.
This was also taken on orientation.
Let me tell you...this little cutie hopped closer and closer to me in the middle of the night and I was certain that a bear somehow decided to migrate to southern Arizona just to devour me in my sleeping bag.
That is my friend Anna's hand. She was a good sport and we plucked those out in no time. Note for the future: do not lean on cactus accidentally.
Yes. This is where I went on Wilderness Orientation. We swam under it. I may or may not have pretended to be a mermaid.
I took this picture this time last year, and it's just so Prescott College...I had to share it :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Don't worry, be happy

“How am I supposed to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life?” The common question anxiously exits the worried mouths of those graduating from high-school, leaving college, choosing a major, figuring out a job, and so forth. I generally answer myself and others with, “Well, it’s a good thing we don’t have to.”
Did you know that the top ten most in demand jobs of 2010 did not even exist in 2004? Did you also know that 1 in 4 workers have been at their current employer for less than one year? 1 in 2 has been there less than five years.
We are living in exponential times. There are over 31 billion searches on Google every month. In 2006, this number was 2.7 billion. It is estimated that 4 exabytes (4.0x10^19) of unique information will be generated this year. That is more than the previous 5000 years.

What does this all mean?

We are preparing students for jobs that do not even exist yet, with technology that has not even been invented, in order to solve problems that we don’t even know are problems yet.

Now how do you feel?

To me, I believe that all we have is today. It is good to prepare for a rainy day with a rain coat on a hiking trip, but is completely defeating to watch the ten day forecast on the weather channel. I am not saying that goals are bad, my idea is just circumvented around the belief that it can be very easy to become obsessed over an aspiration, then die of a broken heart because what we had hoped for is completely different than how we imagined.
We must live the greatest we can today, so if there is a tomorrow, we can look back and know that we did the best we could with the choices we had. I don’t believe in luck, only change, choice, and the connection that resides between.

Don’t worry, be happy. Be you, because everyone else is taken.



In the past five minutes:

67 babies were born in the U.S.

274 babies were born in China

395 babies were born in India

and 694,000 songs were illegally downloaded.

Carpe Diem

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring Break at Prescott College: Superstitious!

When I was in high school, my perception of a typical spring break for college students was something like you might see on “Trashy MTV Cancun Reality Show 6000!” and I remember being worried that as someone who doesn’t enjoy indulging in that particular fashion I’d be an outcast for that time during my college career. Upon coming to Prescott, however, I’ve learned that college students have the ability and drive to actually do far more adventurous, life changing, and fulfilling activities than racing towards early liver failure. My first year I spent spring break with some friends traveling to hot springs around the state of Arizona, and my second year I spent time climbing many of the unfamiliar crags in the greater Prescott area, as well as adventuring to some secluded natural locations. This year, I took another trip to the Big Mama Juniper (see Blog from October 15th, 2009), and then spent my time in the Superstition Mountains near Apache Junction, AZ.
I had always heard about the Superstitions or the “Soups” as they are commonly referred to around here, but never had a chance to go and see them. Immediately upon my arrival I was struck with the urge to come back again with my climbing rack, even from the road the rock faces look fantastic. Already, the mountains were trying to pull us in with promises of venison, ostrich, and beef jerky. Unfortunately for the magical mountains, most of our group was sustainably minded vegetarians.

We arrived at the 1st water parking lot and began unpacking the car, at which point I realized that somehow my approach shoes had been left behind, and thus I was going to have to walk through thickly cactus populated terrain with bare feet or my Mion sandals. Whoops. Luckily some of my friends were more optimistic than I and were able to stem the flow of curses out of my mouth long enough for us to start walking.
Now living in Prescott for the past three years has taught me to be relatively nonchalant about cactus awareness, as the yucca, Agave, Prickly pear, and occasional Cholla are usually very easy to spot and not too hard to extricate from one’s skin if run into by accident. This, however, was the superstitions, where Saguaro, Teddy Bear Cholla (see below), and barrel cactus were out in force, and constantly dropping pieces of themselves on the ground around them, making any off-trail section a veritable minefield to be walking around in.

The fuzzyness is actually the thousands of spines coming off the plant, and not at all cuddly as the name Teddy Bear Cholla might lead you to believe.

While I was having little difficulty avoiding the few pieces of Cholla that had rolled into the trail, I had not thought about the fact that my dog had never seen these cactus before, and so should probably have been on a leash. I came around a corner about half an hour into our hike and saw her standing there and attempting to remove a Cholla segment from her mouth. I don’t think she was attempting to eat them, I’m guessing that she stepped on one and, as dogs lack opposable thumbs, attempted to remove it with her mouth. I was glad that I had my medkit handy and had my wilderness EMT course behind me to allow me to act quickly. Cholla, while they appear to be straight spines, actually curve a bit upon entering flesh, and so are painful and difficult to remove. Suki acted fantastically and didn’t even whine too much as I removed the painful spines from her mouth and face. I was glad that I just had a dog and not a toddler, because as soon as I finished she was right back to enjoying herself. I imagine if a person had gone through that experience they’d still be in pain even ten days later.

We continued on, past saguaros with strange faces and pretty desert flowers until arriving at our campsite, a beautiful green field that was thankfully cholla free.

In the background you can see one wall of Boulder Canyon, a popular oasis in the middle of the Superstitions.

We quickly set up camp in the comfortable meadow before finding out that our guide, a friend of a friend that had scoped out the area a few weeks before, wasn’t entirely sure which direction was best in order to seek out water. She was pretty sure that there was supposed to be some about a mile away done one of the trails near us, so with limited information a few of us set out to gather water for the group. 1.5 miles and 600ft of elevation later, we found what I’m sure at some times is a flowing creek, but when we arrived was a wash with some stagnant pools growing all sorts of fun stuff. Not to be discouraged (after all, I’ve had worse), we set to work filtering the water with a filter my friend had gotten me to replace one he had broken on a prior trip. After filling about half of our water containers, the filter started to leak out the bottom. Unusual, but not anything that should effect the safety of the filter, so I kept going. After filling another two water bottles, the bottom of the filter literally exploded away from the rest of the unit with jet propelled force. This was definitely not normal.
It was at this point that we decided to cut our losses, scoop up some untreated water to boil our grains with and head back to camp. We began to make the hike back towards camp along a canyon cliff and as we could just see the top my dog’s water bottle popped off of the carabineer it was attached to, the cap bursting off of the container and flying out into space. So far, this was not my best day.

Having cactus in your mouth is tiring.

Upon arriving back at camp, we relayed what all had happened to the rest of our friends and just by chance my partner managed to take a swig out of one of the untreated bottles of water by mistake. Mmmm, algae. Not wanting to waste any more time worrying, we got started on dinner. The sunset on the surrounding landscape was one of the more beautiful ones I’ve seen in Arizona, and gave me hope that this day was not a reflection of what the whole rest of the trip would be like.

We awoke the next morning after a cool night of Coyotes howling a few dozen meters away and occasional mysterious movement outside the tent, and I think even Suki wanted to keep sleeping.

It was then that we realized that the meadow we were staying in was not just grass, rather there were millions of tiny purple flowers that began to unfurl as the morning went on.

Upon reaching the top of a nearby hilltop, we were greeted by a great view of the surrounding landscape and the meadows that were slowing transitioning from green to purple.

We descended into boulder canyon, eager to find some water to dip in as the temperature rose past 90 degrees F. We stopped for a few minutes in the shade of a creek side tree in one of the tributaries to the main creek and were passed by a group of ten horse-riders, which Suki found wonderfully exciting.It was fantastically exciting when we finally reached the canyon floor and were able to get in the stream. The water was probably around 50 degrees but we didn’t care, it was so refreshing in the heat of the desert sun.
We spent a few hours dipping in pools and drying off on the smooth creek rocks, throwing sticks into the creek for the dog to chase, and applying copious amounts of sunscreen. If you’ve never been at an oasis in the middle of a desert, it’s a fantastic experience; I highly recommend you try it.

Our return to camp saw us spending the next few hours under whatever shade we could find. I realized the that deciding not to pack my tarp for shade was a bad choice.We spent another night in the meadow before hiking out the next day, our departure coincided by a large storm system moving into the mountains, but we managed to escape with no more than a few rain droplets on our packs. These mountains were majestic and mysterious, just as the name might have you thinking, and I’m really glad that we went out there to see them, but next time I’m bringing some dog booties for Suki, because all the fun in the world is not worth a cholla in the mouth.
Zach Schiewetz

Monday, March 8, 2010

Technology and Prescott College

I came into work today expecting to really buckle down and have the opportunity to talk to some students who have been accepted to the school and give them advice for orientation and their transition to Prescott. When I got here, however, I found that Zinch, one of the sites we use to talk to prospective students, had decided to be uncooperative. As if one technological hiccup wasn’t enough, the phone I was working with decided to stop dialing long-distance numbers.
Being the eternal optimist I am (not really) I began thinking about the topic of technology here at Prescott College, and how that might be an interesting topic for a blog. If that doesn’t sound interesting to you, turn away now before it’s too late.

I have often mused about our technological contrasts here at Prescott, as it seems we have constant contrasts when it comes to machines. I think it may begin with the range of courses we offer here; we have the one extreme of Aboriginal Living skills where you learn to survive in the desert with nothing but some wool clothes and a pocket knife (I mean nothing, we don’t bring sleeping bags), and then on the other end we have extraordinarily expensive and advanced programs for GIS and digital film making. A similar situation exists with our student body, where some folks like to keep their money in a jar in the attic grandpa-who-lived-through-the-great-depression style, and the students who have permanent images of LCD screens burned into their retinas from all the texting, and then everyone in between.

What I find most interesting is that these two subcultures are able to coexist relatively well without there being any major ramifications. I think some of this is reflected in our use of technology in outreach to all you out there in the universe. You can, if you want, follow Prescott College on twitter (bet you didn’t know), or subscribe to this very blog page with our RSS feed, but then we conscripted Daedalus (who, if you don’t remember, built the labyrinth) to design our current website. Now, to be fair, we are in the process of building a new one but we have excavate the pieces we want without loosing too many of the technological staff to minotaur attacks, so it’s a slow process.

I think it’s really unfortunate, though, that our main website is not able to highlight some of the great green technologies we’re employing here on campus. I would estimate that the food-bearing gardens here on campus are a pretty large percentage of the land the college actually owns, and those gardens are able to be research sites for classes as well as grow food for the café each semester. Our café has a rooftop garden, which conserves energy and materials for insulation, as well as giving us a steady supply of cactus fruits during the spring and summer. We are installing large water catchment tanks on many of our buildings, as well as solar panels and wind turbines to help power more and more of the campus on green energy. Most readers are probably aware that before “recycle” comes “reduce” and “reuse,” and those are all concepts we put into practice here; most buildings here have been repurposed from their original forms; our business offices were once motels, and rather than tearing them apart and building over the wreckage we simply reused the space that was already there. The two most prominent and signature buildings on our main campus; the Library and the Crossroads Center are made from almost 90% recycled materials, and over 90% of the rubble on the site when we started building was re-used for those and other structures. The center of our campus is designed specifically to allow run-off from the buildings to filter down into Butte Creek rather than simply sitting on pavement or concrete and stagnating.

Beyond all of the green technologies we have here, we also have highly advanced tools for working with GPS data and scientific plotting to aid Environmental Studies courses in their recording and study of specific locales. We also have spectacular facilities for our arts department to edit videos and digital photography. And when it comes to being in the out-of-doors, we have so much top-notch gear that it makes me a little queasy sometimes (or at least the thought that I’ll never have that much fancy stuff does). There are certainly opportunities to have class experiences roughing it in the woods if you want to, but that is by no means the only option in a field course.

I’m extraordinarily excited to come back in a few years and see how all of these elements have been built upon and expanded. I know that every year I spend here I see our implementation and effective use of technology improving by leaps and bounds. We may never offer a major for computer technicians, but who knows. I think with enough time our college can accomplish whatever it wants, and maybe one day, with enough concentrated willpower and dedication, we can even have a new website.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Where to begin? Where have I been? What have I felt? What has changed? The easy answer – Everything.
Last September I began a horse packing expedition with two professors and seven students setting out to deliberately “front the essential facts in life,” focusing on sustainability, leadership, group dynamics, and education. This began in Utah and let go at the Mexican border in mid December.

After a quick break, I started a Certified Yoga Teacher Training for my block class. This was a month long intensive, five to seven days a week, nine to twelve hours a day. Even when the rest of school closed due to inclement weather and Martin Luther King Day, we still had class.

After another quick break, I went on a cruise through the Caribbean for my sister’s wedding. This was quite a shock to me since my favored method of travel is on foot living among the locals; not on a cruise ship filled with numerous buffets, swimming pools, variety shows, and a casino – it was a floating Las Vegas. Furthermore, I spent time with family which was both rejuvenating and at times overwhelming due to the emotions surrounding my younger sister getting married, missing the first week of the quarter while at sea, and being in a very foreign environment.
Currently, I am taking Foundations of Education, Improvisational Dance, and Rock Climbing and Geology. I would say this is not a very hard quarter in terms of school work, and because I have climbing back in my life after a four month break, it feels as if I am breathing again. This is a great time to enjoy a meal.
I feel like the expedition was chopping, stirring, and kneading me into something I have never tasted before; then the Yoga Teacher Training was cooking me in a cast iron skillet inside a wood fired oven; finally, the cruise was the cooling rack, setting me aside away from everything else in order to set. Slowly, I am eating this meal and exploring its ingredients to find out what the chef has concocted. I will let you know what happens after the first course.

Prescott Freeskool

Prescott Freeskool is a collaborative project between Prescott College students and community members. We publish a zine-sized booklet at the beginning of every month that publicizes all free educational events, classes, shows, trails, galleries etc. Our March issue is out and we are happily distributing all over town, coffee shops, laundromats, libraries, The Catalyst Infoshop, etc.

The concept of free school or democratically-run schools has a rich history, and Prescott's involvement in the movement is at least 5 years old. This past Summer a group of us decided to focus heavily on the project and change its paper format to a 1/2 sheet booklet instead of a brochure. The intention here was to promote growth in the booklet. This is our 7th issue and an exciting moment for the Freeskool collective...

We are constantly inspired by the Prescott Public Library's facillitation of free events and classes and last August realized with on-campus activities and autonomous events around town we already had tons of content available to compile. By adding the Catalyst Infoshop as another venue for free education our vision was complete.

Torch of Knowledge original linoblock print, the back cover is from an old Boy Scout's manual(how to make paper crafts).
The September issue, our first, was three pages long. This month we are happy to see 8 extremely full pages (which is really like 28 pages of content) with original freeskool classes actually outnumbering Library events! I am so proud to be a part of a project that has doubled free opportunities in town.

We operate with the following mission: The Prescott Freeskool is dedicated to empowering our community to shareskills and knowledge freely, fostering awareness, self-reliance and personal growth.

Here is a selection of original classes by Prescott College students this month:
Dudes in the Media
Talkin' 'bout...POP Music!
Food Not Bombs
Dismantling Cultural Oppression Myths: A series of conversations
Coffee and Carl Jung
Trash, Glue, and Paint
Figure Drawing
Karma Farm Benefit Show!
Tire Sandal Workshop
Fruit tree pruning workshop
Dazzling, Delightful Decoupage!
Basic Fertility Cycling in Agroecosystems
Sushi Rolling
Kimchi making
Here's a picture of our January calendar. Clocks were a big theme...Our centerfold is always the calendar of events and all our cover art is original. We try to feature original art throughout the publication, especially the opposite of the calendar. In addition, we bind them by hand with a pamphlet stich, or run them through our sewing machines, vegan-sausage style. :)
The praxis of this project deeply reflects the educational and social model of Prescott College. We emphasize equitable discussion, self direction, community engagement, social justice, and experiential education. In addition, the Freeskool provides an incredible resource for people to see the activism and activity students and community members are doing. It sits quietly at coffeeshops saying "Hey, are you bored right now? Because here are ten things you could be learning about." The Freeskool (the collective, teachers, students and supporters) believes that learning is the most fun you can ever have, and everyone deserves shared educational experiences. As a college student I believe that the joy I have experienced at Prescott College is worth sharing with the world and the knowledge I have gained can only be truly digested through teaching.
The Catalyst Infoshop, behind all those trees.