CERA Summer Open House & Potluck

Sunday, July 13, 6:00 - 9:00 PM, CERA

The Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA) is hosting an evening of exploration and local food this Sunday, July 13 beginning at 6:00 p.m. CERA manager, Elizabeth Hill will lead a guided walk through some of the preserve’s 365 acres and then dinner will be served with the help of the Grinnell Area Local Foods Alliance. Dinner is potluck-style, so bring a dish to share if you would like.

Transportation to CERA is available and will leave from in front of the Joe Rosenfield Center (1115 8th Ave.) at 5:30 p.m. and return at 9:00 p.m. If needed, transportation back to campus prior to 9:00 p.m. is available. All are welcome and please RSVP, indication whether you need a ride and if you plan on brining food to share, to Liza Morse at [morseeli[at]grinnell[dot]edu].

This event is sponsored by CERA, the Center for Prairie Studies, and the Grinnell Area Local Foods Alliance.


Willliam (Bill) Stowe ’81, September 15, “Immersed in Water”

Willliam (Bill) Stowe ’81, CEO and General Manager, Des Moines Water Works

Bill Stowe

Monday, September 15, 7:30 PM, Faulconer Gallery

“Immersed in Water”

Bill Stowe is the CEO and General Manager of Des Moines Water Works (DMWW). DMWW is a regional utility that protects public health by delivering outstanding quality water in reliable quantities. DMWW works closely with business, environmental and agricultural leaders to advocate for better stewardship of water resources and lead clean water initiatives throughout Central Iowa.

Bill graduated from Grinnell College with a Bachelor of Arts and received a Master of Science in Engineering from the University of Wisconsin, a Master of Science in Industrial Relations from the University of Illinois, and a Juris Doctorate Degree from Loyola University Law School.

This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Prairie Studies and the Faulconer Gallery.


Soundscape Walk with Abby Aresty at Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA)

Two women walking under a beautiful orange sunset glow with a tree behind them

Soundscape Walk with Abby Aresty at Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA)

Saturday, October 11, 3:00-5:30PM

The Listening Path

On Saturday, October 11, join Abby Aresty, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Electronic Music and Sound Studies, in the first of a series of creative site-specific listening experiments.  Experience the intersection of nature, sound, and mind on a 1.5 mile hike through CERA's wildlands.  

Please RSVP to Elizabeth Hill at [hilleliz] if you need transportation to CERA. Meet at the Joe Rosenfield Center drop-off area at 3:00 P.M. To drive separately meet in the Environmental Education Center’s parking area at CERA at 3:30 P.M. Please wear long pants and close-toed shoes for the 1.5 mile hike.

VANG: A Drama about Recent Immigrant Farmers

By Mary Swander and Dennis Chamberlin

Tuesday, October 14, 7:30-8:30 p.m., Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center Room 101

Middle-aged farmer with a bucket full of her farm produce

VANG: A Drama about Recent Immigrant Farmers

A Hmong family who fled Communist bullets and wild tigers through the jungle of Laos and across the Mekong River to a refugee camp in Thailand. A Sudanese man who was thrown into prison in Ethiopia for helping the Lost Boys and was left gasping for air through a crack under the door. A Mexican woman who taught herself English by looking up the meaning of the profane words that were hurled at her at her first job in a meat packing plant. A Dutch boy, dressed as a cowboy, who put the flag of the Netherlands through the paper shredder and declared, “I am an American.” These are some of the characters brought to life in “Vang.”

The immigrants whose stories are told in this drama came to Iowa from four continents, speaking over six different languages.  In their own ways, they adjusted to life in America. But all of these immigrants had grown up on farms and wanted to once again assume the livelihood that they had known in the past, the work that had formed the foundation of their cultural roots.

Poet Laureate of Iowa Mary Swander, Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Dennis Chamberlin, and ACT Kennedy Center award-winner Matt Foss, have collaborated to create a drama called “Vang” (meaning “garden” or “farm” in Hmong). Swander and Chamberlin documented recent Iowa immigrant farmers. Swander wound their words together to form a verbatim play that captures the immigrants’ journeys to the U.S. Hmong, Mexican, Sudanese, and Dutch immigrants all speak of their struggles, survival skills, and their intense desire to return to the land. Chamberlin took stunning photos of the immigrants in their greenhouses, farms, and dairy barns. Foss added his theatrical brilliance to the production, bringing “Vang” to life on the stage. And Michael Ching, past executive director of the Memphis opera, composed music to underscore the play’s message.

The public often thinks of farmers as white males of European ancestry living in isolated rural areas. And the public often thinks of immigrants as those who have slipped into the United States to take advantage of assistance programs. Vang reveals both impressions as false stereotypes and opens discussion about how farming is done in the United States and how immigrants have become part of the larger agricultural picture.

The entire play runs one hour and has two actors, male and female, who take on the parts of all 8 immigrants.

Sponsored by the Center for Prairie Studies as part of its “The Arts, Community, and Sustainability” theme for 2014-15.  Free and open to the public.  Refreshments will be served.


Artists and Scientists Confront Climate Change

Thursday, November 13, 4:15 P.M., BCA 152

In conjunction with the world premiere of Cynthia Folio's "Winds for Change: Concerto for Two Flutes, Strings, and Percussion," to be performed with the Grinnell  Symphony Orchestra on November 15,  a panel of artists and scientists will discuss the critical challenge that anthropogenic climate change presents to humankind and other life on Earth.  Folio's concerto (performed by the flute duo ZAWA! - Grinnell music faculty Claudia Anderson, and Jill Felber - and conducted by Eric Mcintyre) is a musical meditation on the effects of global warming.

The panelists include Folio, professor of music at Temple University, Sarita Zaleha, candidate for Master of Fine Arts in printmaking at the University of Iowa who recently had a solo exhibition at Minneapolis's Walker Art Center entitled "Mourning Global Warming," and Grinnell professor of biology David Campbell, author of The Crystal Desert: Summers in Antarctica and A Land of Ghosts: the Braided Lives of People and the Forest in Far Western Amazonia, and a long-time observer of the effects of climate change around the world.  The panel will be moderated by Bernie Fischlowitz-Roberts, a Grinnell-based consultant to nonprofit organizations with a particular interest in policy and climate change.  The panel discussion will take place at 4:15 p.m. on Thursday, November 13, in BCA 152. Refreshments will be served.  Co-sponsored by the Department of Music and the Center for Prairie Studies.

Map of My Kingdom Comes to Grinnell

Friday, November 14, 7:30 P.M.

Loft Theatre, Grinnell Arts Center

The Grinnell Area Arts Council will present Map of My Kingdom, a one-woman play written by Mary Swander, Iowa’s Poet Laureate, on Friday, November 14 at 7:30 pm in the Loft Theatre at the Grinnell Arts Center.  Tickets are $5.00 and are available for purchase at the Arts Center, Browns Shoe Fit, and McNally’s.

Commissioned by the Practical Farmers of Iowa, the production focuses on one central character – Angela Martin, a lawyer and mediator in land transaction disputes – as she shares stories of how farmers and landowners have approached their land transitions. Some families struggled to resolve the sale or transfer of their land, dissolving relationships. Others found peacefully rational solutions that focused on keeping the land – and the family – together.

“This production is a companion piece to Vang – that highlighted the stories of recent immigrant farmers – performed at Grinnell College in mid-October,” stated Christian Lutz, the Arts Council’s executive director. “Map of My Kingdom is very timely as our society is beginning to witness the largest transition of wealth – including farm land – between generations in the United States.”

The show stars Madeleine Russell, a professional actress based in Ames, and will be directed by Matt Foss, professor of acting and theatre history at the University of Idaho.  Before being appointed Poet Laureate in 2009, Mary Swander published over 13 books of poetry and non-fiction.  A dual citizen of Ireland and the United States, Swander serves as Professor of English and a Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts at Iowa State University.

The production is sponsored by Charnetski, Lacina & Clower LLP, the Center for Prairie Studies at Grinnell College, Paul & Mark Kolpin - Edward Jones Financial Advisors, Key Cooperative, Mahaffey Law Office, St. Francis Manor, and Schild Law Office.

The Grinnell Area Arts Council is a charitable nonprofit organization established in 1979 to promote, encourage, develop, and assist in the understanding, appreciation, and financial support of the arts and other cultural activities in the Grinnell area.  The Council pursues its mission through arts education, theatrical and musical performances, a farm-based artist residency, and an exhibition gallery.  To learn more about the Council and its programs, visit www.grinnellarts.org.


Prizewinning Documentary: Growing Cities

Thursday, December 4, 8:00 P.M., SCI 2021

60 minutes

Take a study break to come view Growing Cities​, a new award-winning documentary about urban farming in America. The filmmakers explore how much power urban agriculture has to uplift urban communities and change the food system. There will be local food snacks to enjoy during the film.

In their search for answers, filmmakers Dan Susman and Andrew Monbouquette take a road trip and meet the men and women who are challenging the way this country grows and distributes its food, one vacant city lot, rooftop garden, and backyard chicken coop at a time. Join them as they discover that good food isn’t the only crop these urban visionaries are harvesting. They’re producing stronger and more vibrant communities, too.

Spatial Blueprints: Paper Making Exhibit and Workshop

Saturday, December 6, 2:30-4:00 P.M., Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA)

“Organic Tensions: Studies in Paper” (Smith Gallery, Grinnell College, 10/27/14-11/6/14) was part one of the work produced by Eden Marek as a part of her semester-long Mentored Advanced Project (MAP). In it, she explored themes of strength and tension using abaca fiber, wire, and prairie materials, with the creations serving as records of the inherent kinetic qualities that result when these materials and landscapes interact. “Spatial Blueprints” is a continuation of the handmade paper studies with a heavier emphasis on the landscape and ecosystems of the Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA). In her work, Marek addresses the appropriation of ecological space and uses blends of abaca and prairie grass fiber to map, cast, and place order on the land.

On December 6, the event at CERA (2:30-4:00PM) will include a live musical performance of Prairie Arias by Leah Meyer, a short talk and papermaking demonstration by Marek, and a papermaking workshop by Marek and Professor Lee Running in which people can make their own small sculptures of wire and handmade paper to take home.

Transportation to CERA is available: vans will leave JRC drop-off zone at 2:00PM and return at 4:30PM. Please contact Elizabeth Hill <hilleliz> to RSVP for transportation by Dec. 5, or with questions about event accessibility.


CERA Greenhouse Volunteer Opportunity - February 21

Saturday, February 21, 2015, 9:00 AM-12:30 PM, Conard Environmental Research Area Greenhouse (CERA)

Volunteers needed to transplant seedlings! Are you interested in learning more about prairie, savanna, and wetland plants? Do you want to spend more time with plants? Join CERA Manger Elizabeth Hill to work on planting and transplanting baby plants in the CERA greenhouse.

Please RSVP for transportation to Elizabeth Hill hilleliz[at]grinnell[dot]edu. Meet at the Joe Rosenfield Center drop-off area at 9:00 AM. Work gloves and light refreshments provided. Wear clothes that will be comfortable in the warm greenhouse. If you plan to drive out to CERA, please meet us at 9:30 AM and park by the Environmental Education Center.

Re-writing the Rural Narrative - February 26

It seems the rural story has already been told. Small towns keep getting smaller.  Churches, schools, clinics, businesses, and now post offices, have closed their doors as the lucky few migrate out to the big cities. This deficit framework dominates how we discuss and envision our rural communities. However, the real story of rural America since 1970 is rich and diverse, with positive trends occurring under the radar. In two talks by rural sociologist Ben Winchester that look at rural America through a different lens, learn how these important positive changes require us to rewrite the narrative of rural community change.

Ben Winchester is trained as a Rural Sociologist and works as a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Minnesota Extension, Center for Community Vitality.  He conducts research on topics surrounding the theme of “rewriting the rural narrative” that are vital to rural America. This includes research on the “brain gain” into rural America as well as research on rural community leadership, specifically the community-wide requirements to “keep the town running” through the public and non-profit sector. A Minnesota native, Ben earned a BA in Mathematics, with a Concentration in Statistics and the University of Minnesota-Morris, and a Master’s in Rural Sociology at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Community Lunch & Learn: “Re-writing the Rural Narrative: Rural Leadership”

Thursday, February 26

Iowa Transportation Museum

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

How many people do we need to run our small towns? How many leaders are available?  These simple, but related, questions are seldom (if ever) asked. There is an expectation that public offices and community organizations will be able to find enough people to serve year after year. These leadership demands of community can be compared to the number of residents (supply) available to serve in a community. This “social organizational infrastructure” is a critical component of rural communities and must be maintained. On one hand a large number of community organizations can reflect a healthy diversity of social options for residents. On the other hand it is a challenge for organizations that depend on the finite talent, time, volunteers, and financial resources of these residents to survive. The changing patterns of social involvement, and the impact this has on current community groups, will also be discussed.

Co-sponsored by:  Grinnell College, Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation, Poweshiek Leadership Program 

Evening Campus/Community Presentation, “Re-Writing the Rural Narrative: Rural Brain Gain”

Thursday, February 26

Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101

7:00 – 8:30 p.m.

The population of rural America has changed significantly during the past 40 years. Counter to popular narrative, since 1970 there have been newcomers aged 30-49 moving into small towns, which positively impacts our social and economic structures. At the same time, there is a new urbanity found across the rural landscape that changes how we look at urban-rural interactions. The next 15-20 years appears to be a great opportunity for American small towns, as a once tight housing supply begins to open up through the changing residential preferences of the retiring baby boomer generation. Overall, as we look to the future, the implications of these changes are positive ones for all of our small towns and open country places.

Co-sponsored by:  Community Enhancement & Engagement, Center for Prairie Studies, City of Grinnell, POW I-80

All events are free and open to the public.


The Listening Path II: Disparate Times and Places - March 7

Saturday, March 7, 2:30-4:30PM

Conard Environmental Research Area

The Listening Path II: Disparate Times and Places uses the practice of soundwalking to connect people in disparate places in a unified act of silent respect for our natural surroundings. This project entails two short site-specific soundwalks, the first in Grinnell, IA, at Grinnell College’s Conard Environmental Research Area, and the second in Tempe, AZ, as part of the 2015 Balance/Unbalance Conference at Arizona State University. Online documentation of these listening paths and their respective soundscape recordings will juxtapose the diverse soundscapes of two iconic American landscapes: the desert and the prairie. This project blends the historically significant act of silent marches organized in the wake of tragedy with the creative research practice of soundwalking. In weaving together these themes, the project suggests that communities separated by time and place can practice collective silence to listen to the land, to demonstrate respect for our unique local environments, and to raise awareness of the extraordinary environmental challenges we face.

Composer and sound artist Abby Aresty investigates the world through its sounds, creating powerful sonic explorations from even the most mundane objects.  Her work crosses paths with diverse disciplines, from collaborations in dance, film, and music, to continuing explorations of breath in music through garment-based biofeedback technology. Her recent work, Paths II: The Music of Trees, was featured in an interview with Melissa Block on NPR’s All Things Considered, and was hailed as ‘otherworldly,’ and ‘sometimes eerie, sometimes transportingly lovely,’ by the Seattle Times.   The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently ran an article featuring Aresty’s latest work-in-progress, a permanent installation for the public atrium of the Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL), commissioned by the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. The CSL is amongst the greenest office buildings in the world. Aresty received her doctorate from the University of Washington, her masters degree from the University of Michigan, and her bachelors degree from the Eastman School of Music. She recently concluded a Fellowship at the Frank-Ratchye Studio for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University, and is currently a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Electronic Music and Sound Studies at Grinnell College.

Please RSVP to Elizabeth Hill if you need transportation to CERA. Meet at the Joe Rosenfield Center drop-off area at 2:00 P.M. To drive separately, meet in the Environmental Education Center’s parking area at CERA at 2:30 P.M. Please wear warm clothes for a short hike.

Tweak, Adapt, Transform: Building a Resilient Future for Agriculture in Iowa and Beyond - March 9

Lisa Schulte MooreLisa Schulte Moore

Monday, March 9, 7:00 p.m.

Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101

Conservation of ecosystem services in agricultural regions worldwide is fundamental to, but often perceived to be in competition with food and energy production and thriving rural communities.  Perhaps nowhere is this clearer than in Iowa, where topsoil, water quality, flood control, and native biodiversity is sacrificed for agricultural productivity. Dr. Schulte Moore will discuss the results of her social-ecological research on innovative land management practices, including the strategic integration of perennial vegetation over landscapes and watersheds, the Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairie Strips (STRIPS) project, and its potential to foster a balance between growing ecosystem services and commodity crops in the Corn-Belt.

Dr. Lisa Schulte Moore is an Associate Professor of natural resource ecology and management at Iowa State University (ISU).  She studies the causes, consequences, and design of land-use change. Because humans are a major driver of change, she uses “coupled human and natural systems” as a lens to understand and anticipate change. Several current research projects address ecological, technological, and social innovations to enable agricultural landscapes to meet multiple societal goals. Her expertise spans from local environmental and social monitoring to regional modeling and valuation of ecosystem service outputs. Honors include Iowa State University Early Career Award in Teaching (2007), Teaching Award of Merit from the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (2007), Stanford University Leopold Leadership Fellow (2013), and Kavli Frontiers of Science Fellow (2014). She is also co-owner of her family farm in Wisconsin, a member of the “Rapid Response Team” of the Ecological Society of America, on the editorial board of Landscape Ecology, and on the board of trustees of the Iowa Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. For more information see:  http://www.nrem.iastate.edu/landscape/

Chip Taylor, "Monarch Butterfly Recovery Plan" - March 22

Chip Taylor, Founder and Director of Monarch Watch;Chip Taylor

Professor, Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas

Sunday, March 22, 1:30 p.m., Drake Community Library

Monarch Butterfly Recovery Plan

Orley R. “Chip” Taylor is founder and director of Monarch Watch, and is also a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.  Trained as an insect ecologist, he has published papers on species assemblages, hybridization, reproductive biology, population dynamics and plant demographics and pollination. In 1992 Taylor founded Monarch Watch, an outreach program focused on education, research and conservation related to monarch butterflies and based at the University of Kansas.  Since then, Monarch Watch has investigated and documented the sharp decline in the monarch population, enlisted the help of volunteers to tag monarchs during the fall migration, and created a network of monarch way stations and other feeding and breeding spots along migration routes. Through Monarch Watch's "Bring the Monarch Back" initiative, over 160,000 schools, parks and home gardens have received milkweed plugs to create vital breeding sites and fuel sources for butterflies on their annual migratory routes. In 2014, Taylor received the Growing Green Award from the Natural Resources Defense Council for his monarch recovery efforts.

In his lecture “Monarch Butterfly Recovery Plan,” Chip Taylor will describe his vision for comprehensive habitat development for the monarch butterfly, including large scale efforts to maintain the “milkweed-monarch corridor” on public and private lands through the upper Midwest. Taylor will highlight the distinct need for Iowans to take part in monarch butterfly habitat development programs, through creating way-stations in our schoolyards and backyards, developing pollinator-friendly practices on our farms, and volunteering with local and regional conservation groups who take part in monarch education. 


Celebrate the Earth During April - May

Grinnell College will host a series of events throughout April and early May in celebration of Earth Month. The free, public events will be focused on local food, volunteering and exploration.

The events will take place throughout the city, with a focus toward "getting rooted in the community." Featured events include storm drain labeling on Saturday, April 19, monarch butterfly waystation planting on Tuesday, April 21, and a workshop on permaculture on Saturday, April 25. See the Earth Month poster for additional events.

Some events will take place at the Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA), including a woodland wildflower hikes, bird banding and prescribed prairie burns. Free transportation is provided from Grinnell's campus to these events.

For details, including a complete schedule of events and information about free transportation, please visit the CERA Facebook page.

The Sustainability Revolution, Design, and Gardening: An Introduction to Permaculture - April 25

Lonnie GambleLonnie Gamble

Asst. Prof. of Sustainable Living at Maharishi University of Management

Saturday, April 25

9:00 – 4:00 p.m., ARH 324

“The Sustainability Revolution, Design, and Gardening: An Introduction to Permaculture”

Morning session 9:00 - 12:00 p.m. (Introduction)

The principles of ecological design and their application in the provision of energy, water, food, shelter, and city planning.

Afternoon session 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. (Advanced)

Hands-on application of permaculture principles to growing food at home.

Registration for morning and afternoon sessions required. Lunch will be provided to those that attend both sessions. RSVP to Jan Graham [grahamj[at]grinnell[dot]edu] by Wednesday, April 22.

The sustainability revolution, like the agricultural, scientific, industrial, and communications revolutions that preceded it, will change the relationship of people to nature and to each other. This workshop will give you basic tools that you can use to start to make the sustainability shift in your life today. Permaculture is the design of human habitats that have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems - permaculture is functional design inspired by nature.


Cyperaceae Workshop: June 12-13, 2015

The Cyperaceae plant family includes sedges (Carex spp.), bulrushes (Schoenoplectus spp.), cottongrassses (Eriophorum spp.), spikerushes (Eleocharis spp.), and in Iowa, over 160 species of grass-like, tufted plants with reduced flowers, found primarily in wetlands, but also in prairies, savannas, and woodlands.  While identification of these species can be difficult, knowledge of diversity within the Cyperaceae family is critical for assessing habitat floristic quality, collecting seeds for restoration projects, and documenting distributions of common and rare plants. Join amateur and professional botanists in learning how to use dichotomous keys in the lab and identify the Cyperaceae in the field! The two-day format of the workshop will provide ample time for interaction with instructors and exposure to many species in a variety of habitats in Central Iowa.

Joining us from near and far, four talented and experienced botanist-educators will be co-leading the Cyperaceae Workshop: Mr. Scott Zager, Plant Ecologist at Wildlands Ecological Services, Dr. Tom Rosburg, Professor of Biology at Drake University, Dr. William (Bill) Norris, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Western New Mexico University, Dr. Russ Kleinman, and Associate Botanist at Dale A. Zimmerman Herbarium

The Cyperaceae Workshop will take place at the 365-acre Grinnell College Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA), near Kellogg, in Jasper County. Morning sessions will take place in the Environmental Education Center and focus on (1) learning and identifying characteristics on sample specimens and (2) using dichotomous keys. Afternoon sessions will involve field identification practice on two field trips: one to a privately owned sedge meadow in Mahaska County, and another to Engeldinger Marsh or Hartley Heritage Fen in Jasper County. Participants will be taught how to mount plant specimens to be preserved in the Grinnell College Herbarium and given time to photograph collections and specimens.

Please fill out the form in the workshop brochure and mail payment to: Center for Prairie Studies, Grinnell College, 1205 Park Street, Grinnell, IA  50112 by Wednesday, June 3, 2015.

Sponsored by:

Center for Prairie Studies

Conard Environmental Research Area

Iowa Native Plant Society

Iowa Prairie Network