PHOTOS COURTESY OF RACHAEL BLUM & BARRY AVNER
“We are the caribou people. Caribou are not just what we eat; they are who we are. They are in our stories and our songs and the whole way we see the world. Caribou are our way of life and without them we would not exist.”
These are the words of Sarah James, an elder of the Gwich’in tribe of Arctic Village, Alaska. A threat to the caribou is a threat to the Gwich’in way of life, and according to a Sep. 20, 2005, Washington Post article, James has been fighting to preserve the Gwich’in way of life since it was first threatened by drilling prospects in 1988. In an effort to spread awareness of her tribe’s predicament, James reached out to Brennan Lagasse, Sierra Nevada College adjunct professor. Their collaboration led to the creation of a SNC special topics class that travelled to Arctic Village in August, 2014.
On Oct. 10, six SNC students held a presentation to share their recent experiences with the Gwich’in people during the special topics class entitled, “Holistic Sustainability in the Arctic.” During this class, students lived with the Gwich’in tribe and spent one week exploring their culture. In that time they hiked through the land surrounding Arctic Village, hunted caribou, ate ground squirrel, collected berries, fished and participated in a mountaintop memorial gathering for a well respected tribe elder.
“The real goal was to go up there and make friends with the natives, and they wanted to make friends with us so we can do what we’re doing now and spread the word, write letters, and get people asking questions and fired up with what’s happening,” said Senior Rachael Blum, who turned the experience into her capstone course. “The 1002 area (debate) has been going on for a long time and it’s probably going to continue so the more attention we bring to it, maybe that can end soon.”
According to a USGS geographical assessment “the ‘1002 area’ is a 1.5-million-acre part of the coastal plain that holds potentially large oil and gas resources, and is an important wildlife habitat.”
The class was able to witness some rare sights while staying with the Gwich’in people. During a hunt, their guide shot and killed a caribou, which he then field dressed and packed out on an ATV with the help of the students.
“It walked up this valley right up to us, and Charlie (the guide) was saying a few times after this happened that the caribou offered itself to us. It was a special thing because it was rare for us to be there when he was able to kill a caribou,” Senior Aaron Vanderpool said.
According to Rachael Blum, Charlie mentioned that only about one out of every hundred people that visit actually get to see a caribou killed.
Students who took the class supplemented the trip and aided the Gwich’ins by writing a letter to President Obama requesting the preservation of area 1002, creating artistic booklets called ‘ZINE’s’ describing their experience, writing articles for the environmentally themed website “Ecowatch”, making donations for the protection of Gwich’in culture and hosting a presentation on Oct. 1.
“I’ve been to Alaska more than pretty much anywhere else and I’ve never had a trip like that,” Lagasse said.
The whole crew poses for a picture on the mountain overlooking Arctic Village. From left to right: Tom Letson, Brennan Lagasse, Philip Chiesa, Rachael Blum, Kimberly Brault, Barry Avner, Aaron Vanderpool.
Brennan Lagasse, SNC adjunct professor, recieved a phone call at his home in Tahoe from Gwich’in elder Sarah James inviting him and a few SNC students to their village in Alaska.
Junior Kimberly Brault listens to Senior Tom Letson’s banjo music in front of a few roasting caribou heads.
Stacy Taylor is a popular professor with Sierra Nevada College students because of her unique way of teaching economics. She thinks that the best way to teach is to give students the chance to problem solve and have a hands-on approach.
“The way Professor Taylor introduced economics into my college experience really showed me how interesting and exciting economics can be, ” Senior Austin Leal said.
For many students, Economics 101 and 102, or macro- and micro-economics, are the first stepping-stones towards a degree in economics, so it’s important for the professor to introduce the new undergraduates in a positive manner.
“I like being the first contact that students have with economics. I like to make it positive for them,” Taylor said. ”If you are having a great time students will probably come along with you.”
Taylor started teaching at SNC in the fall of 2012. Before then, she had a successful career in banking.“I loved banking and I was very successful at it. I used to start and run big businesses.” Taylor said.
During the financial crisis, she decided to make a change in her career. Taylor was working in the mortgage business, which began to show signs of collapse.
“I decided I didn’t want to be a part of that. I left and moved into my ski house here in Tahoe.” Taylor said.
BY danny kern
Ann Marie Brown, Sierra Nevada College professor and accomplished writer, will be the focus of the next Wednesday Reading, hosted on Oct. 15, in the Prim Library.
Each semester of the 2014/2015 school year, there are two Wednesday evenings set aside for an SNC faculty member to read his or her published work in the Prim Library. These readings began two years ago when SNC librarian Betts Markle began selecting faculty members to share their work with the students and faculty on campus.
“It started off with a couple of the newer full time faculty that we have,” Markle said.
The Wednesday readings are a great opportunity for students and other faculty to learn about the featured reader’s lives outside of the school.
“Particularly students who are new here and even faculty and staff, don’t always know what people’s backgrounds are or what their area of expertise is. They may be teaching in one area, but there may be a lot more going on in their lives,” Markle said.
Brown is without a doubt one professor that has much more going on in her life outside of SNC. She has more than a dozen travel guidebooks in print, mainly focused on outdoor travel and recreation in the West.
“I’ve written books on Yosemite, Tahoe, Sequoia, Kings Canyon and the Southwest deserts. I’ve also written some oddball titles that are no longer in print, like guidebooks to Fiji and the Hawaiian islands,” Brown said.
This is one of the main reasons why Markle selected Brown to do one of the readings.
“She’s written a lot of hiking and travel books, so people in this area might have already seen some of her books, might even own them, might have used them, and not even realized that she is the author,” Markle said.
Brown enjoys many different kinds of writing. Her journalism background combined with her passion for creative nonfiction and the outdoors allows her to produce informative stories that can take readers on the journeys she’s experienced.
“I write a lot of travel and adventure stories that fall under the category of creative nonfiction. I love writing travel pieces that let me stretch my creative muscles. But I’m obsessed with getting my facts right, too,” Brown said.
Brown has a strong love for nature and literature, and is able to use the outdoors to find herself while expressing these discoveries through her work.
“I’m happiest when I’m outside, sauntering along a trail, totally absorbed in my surroundings. That’s when I know exactly who I am,” Brown said.
Throughout June and July of 2014, 24 Sierra Nevada College students participated in an annual service-learning trip to South Africa for four weeks. The excursion, organized by Mary Lewellen and Ted Morse, explored different areas of learning such as developmental politics and economics, community gardens, feeding programs, and assisting in tutoring of South African Students- all while helping install electricity to families.
Senior Sierra Granados gained much more from her South African trip than just education and community-based learning.
“I met a talented friend, Smanga, he is a hardworking artist who deserves the chance to further his art and English studies,” said Granados. “He speaks great English, is dedicated and a great artist.”
Smanga Stigmata Mdadane lives in the city of Durban, SA, a city that helped influence and cultivate his artistic talents throughout the years. The city of Durban even granted Mdadane a permit to graffiti in public locations.
“Being from a poor background, Smanga can’t afford to travel and is limited to further his education,” said Granados.
Although he is talented, Mdadane doesn’t have the opportunity to expand his talent.
“Another thing here in SA, there’s a stereotype that dark skinned people are nothing,” said Mdadane. “From an early age I was told that I’ll be nothing, no matter how much I’ll try all will fail to put my neighborhood on the radar as I tell and wish.”
Name: Maddie Hall
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
What was the most exciting thing you did this summer?
I took a trip to Newport and Orange County that was really fun. I had never been to the Laguna area before. I went down there to go cliff jumping into the ocean which was exciting because I don’t normally do that sort of thing.
What do your summers normally consist of?
I usually go skiing somewhere out of the country. My family either goes to Chile, New Zealand, or Australia. Chile had the best sunsets I have ever seen in my life.
What was different from being in Southern California compared to the northern coast?
There’s no snow in So Cal. There’s a totally different vibe in Tahoe. You know you can walk around in sweatpants and a t-shirt and no one’s really going to care. In Santa Barbara you sort of have to dress up. Maybe you don’t have to but you do because everyone around you does and you have to keep up with appearances.
Did you work during the summer?
Yes. I worked at El Encanto which is a 5-star restaurant and hotel in Santa Barbara. (It had) super pretty views and OK management, but it was worth it because I made a good amount of money to support myself while living down there.
The King fire has become close to being one of the largest fires in California this season and has affected thousands of people around the Tahoe Basin. The road closures along with the dense smoke has made life in Tahoe a little less than enjoyable.
The massive blaze started on Saturday, Sept. 13, just outside of Pollock Pines on Forebay Road in El Dorado County. It has continued on, crossing into Placer County on Sept. 19, according to California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF).
The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department states that arson suspect: Wayne Allen Huntsman, 37, was arrested and pleaded not guilty to the charges placed on him. He has a $10 million bail and his trials are being held in the El Dorado County Superior Court.
According to CDF, as of Wednesday, Sept. 24, the King fire has burnt over 92,960 acres spreading up the South Fork of the American River Canyon just West of the lake’s western shores. Nearly 3,000 people have been evacuated from their jobs and homes and more than 21,000 structures are threatened by the spreading flames.
According to Yubanet.com, the fire’s main edge was heading north between French Meadows Reservoir and Hell Hole Reservoir and into the 2001 Star Fire scar. Crews began working on contingency lines north of the fire, clearing brush along Soda Spring Road.
The new and vibrant Holman Arts & Media Center building is a representation of an expanding art department filled with ambition. With only two semesters of academia the Holman Arts & Media Center encourages a new era of creative, intellectual thinking with grand long term intentions of inspiring interdisciplinary programs and large communal goals. While the former David Hall building could not support the expanding art department and demand, the Holman building was set in place to achieve this growing need.
“We were basically at capacity with what we could do with the other building, the oldest building on campus. It had a lot of limitations with it. Getting this building and really maximizing the way we flow from one discipline to the other has enabled us to take the next step, which is to develop an MFA (Master of Fine Arts),” Professor Russell Dudley said.
The building was made possible by a generous gift from Robin and Robert Holman, and opened its doors to students in the spring semester of 2014.
“We envision that this center will be the new artistic and intellectual hub not just for Sierra Nevada College but for Incline Village and the Lake Tahoe basin. We looked around and saw the exciting things that are happening at Sierra Nevada College and we knew we wanted to partner with SNC to make change happen,” SNC Board of Trustees member and donor Robin Holman said.
The central ideas inspiring the design of the building were to create an academic flow within the space that also invites the public and the community into the academic practices, according to Dudley.
When entering the the Holman Arts & Media Center building, one can observe students working cohesively in all ranges of art. Students have the space to work on computers, photography, create sculptures and drawings. Art history lectures echo around the building. The new art building allows artists of all genres to share an inviting, inventive space.
“It’s nice to have an art building that is surrounded by all art students and the same creative process,” Senior Claire Bagg said.
The faculty and administration worked tirelessly for two years toward their unified vision of the Holman Arts building, according to Rick Parsons, associate professor of art.
Have you ever wondered how well you actually know your college roommates? Aaron Wiener, president of Student Government Association and resident assistant of Sierra Nevada College, created a game that tests how well students know their roommates.
“I was thinking of games to do for the year as an RA and I thought what a better game would it be if you could quiz your roommates on things you need to know?” Wiener said.
At 7 p.m. on Sept. 11, this competition was held in the Patterson Cafeteria near the fireplace. Roughly 20 students competed for the $50 gift card to Olive Garden donated by the SGA. For Sophomores Mikaela Morse and Rose Rojas the money and the meal was the only reason why they were there.
“We love Olive Garden. I heard that’s the prize,” Morse said.
Morse and Rojas met last year when they started at SNC as freshmen. They prepared for the contest by asking each other random questions for half an hour. Other opponents didn’t even feel the need to practice before the game. Sophomore Taylor and Hayden Steele are identical twins who have been roommates for their entire lives.
“We thought that we’d probably know each other pretty well, and we thought that we’d take the competition pretty good,” said Taylor.
Being the only male contestants in the game, the Steele twins knew they had to win for all the other guys in the dorms. “Lets try to have a boys overtake here,” Hayden said.
People assume that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. We are told this growing up because breakfast corporations want us to buy their food. However, the trick is to eat when you are hungry. If you wake up and are still full from last night’s late meal, then wait until you digest that meal to have breakfast.
-Don’t Mix Fats with Carbohydrates.
Our favorite foods usually consist of some type of bread and some type of fats for example pizza, grilled cheese and quesadillas. Scientifically, carbs and fats do not combine together to break down in your body to digest. Don’t think this stops you from eating carbs and fats altogether. It’s okay to eat carbs, and it is okay to eat fats, just eat them separate from each other!
The upstairs art studio has a unique, pungent smell today. The aroma of peppers and onions being pulverized overpowers the nostrils. In the back of the printmaking studio, Mary Kenny is whipping up a batch of chili. A few students work on projects, create artwork, and classes are in session. This place of organized chaos is home base for Kenny here at Sierra Nevada College, which might explain why she is cooking.
“This started with Laura Bennett, who started bringing fresh vegetables from her garden in Auburn. I looked at them and I just thought of chili. I make chili for finals sometimes,” Kenny said.
Kenny has been teaching art at SNC for 12 years. Her bubbly personality and laidback attitude make it easy for students to get along with her. Before her time at SNC, Kenny lived in Ohio for 22 years. She was born, raised and completed her undergraduate degree there. After graduation she moved to Eugene, Oregon for six months, but following a visit to Lake Tahoe, she returned to Eugene and immediately put in her two-week notice.
“I have kind of been here since. I was a nanny in Eugene but knew I wanted to get my masters degree. I started looking around for where I could do that in California. It is so expensive to live here. I tried to figure out how to afford to live in San Francisco and get my master’s at the same time, ” Kenny said.
That ended up being too large of a time commitment for Kenny. She attempted to work as a nanny while going to school in San Francisco, but she didn’t have enough time for studying and work. She ended up moving back to Ohio to complete her master’s degree.
“I basically lived in my studio. It didn’t really matter where I lived because I spent most of my time there,” Kenny said.
After graduate school, Kenny signed up for a summer printmaking workshop that was being held here at SNC. During the workshop, she learned that the printmaking teacher was retiring. That left a perfect opening for her and she became a permanent Tahoe resident.
“I have my master’s in printmaking. We have all this equipment here, the presses and everything else, I understand how to use it,” Kenny said. “My work has a lot to do with paper. I love paper. I love folding it.”