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Spark Tank Kickoff

The kickoff event for the Spark Tank Innovation competition will be held in Alumni Recitation Hall, Room 102 from noon to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016.

Community members will present social justice issues to be addressed by teams of students.

This competition will start on Sept. 13 and will end on Feb. 2 when teams will present their proposals to a live audience and a panel of judges for a prize of up to $15,000 to fund their work in the Grinnell community.​

Lunch will be provided at the kickoff event. 

Sponsored by the Donald L. & Winifred Wilson Center for Innovation and Leadership.

Building Local Food Systems: 2 Case Studies

Thomas Nelson ’91How do you create a local food system? Two speakers will answer that question on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016. They have experience in creating local food systems in two very different locations: the Bay Area of San Francisco and the Meskwaki Settlement in Iowa’s Tama County.

Jennifer Vazquez-Koster will speak about “Beginning a Local Food System at the Meskwaki Settlement” at 4 p.m.

At 7:30 p.m. Thomas Nelson ’91 will discuss “Community-based Strategies to Scale Up Sustainable Food.”

Both presentations, which are free and open to the public, will take place in room 101 of Grinnell College’s Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, 1115 Eighth Ave., Grinnell. Refreshments will be served. Grinnell College’s Center for Prairie Studies is sponsoring the speeches.

More and more people are interested in eating food raised near where they live because it is fresher, tastes better, and is often more nutritious, says Jon Andelson, professor of anthropology and director of the Center for Prairie Studies. 

Local foods are produced on a smaller scale and are more likely to be raised using organic methods, which make it healthier, Andelson adds. Purchasing food grown near where you live also contributes more to the local economy than buying the same food from big retail grocers.

But “buying local” can involve many challenges:

  • Is supply adequate to meet the demand?
  • How do consumers connect with farmers?
  • Are the types of food being raised locally also the types that consumers want?
  • Is local food out of the price range of many consumers?
  • If locally raised food is normally available for only part of the year, can anything be done to lengthen the growing season or make the food available year-round?

Answers to many of these questions can be found through the creation of local food systems. Going beyond ad hoc relationships and even such worthy organizations as farmers’ markets, a local food system is a coordinated, planned set of institutionalized relationships among farmers, consumers, businesses and communities, structured in a way that maximizes the availability of affordable local food to members of a community.

Jennifer Vazquez-KosterVazquez-Koster has been working on local food initiatives in Iowa for 10 years. As manager of the 2-year old Meskwaki Food Sovereignty Initiative, she oversees three garden-farm operations at the Meskwaki Settlement in Tama County.

These operations consist of a senior garden affiliated with the senior living center at the Meskwaki Settlement, a school garden and Red Earth Gardens, a large-scale commercial organic operation that sells produce through a Tribally Supported Agriculture (TSA) program, a farm stand and area grocery stores. The concept behind “food sovereignty” is for the Meskwaki to reclaim their food system from the national industrial food and agriculture system.

Nelson has been instrumental in advancing the local food system in the San Francisco Bay Area. He launched a community-based social enterprise, Capay Valley Farm Shop, which connects 54 farms and ranches in the Capay Valley to Bay Area families and enterprises such as tech companies, online grocery and neighborhood businesses. 

He is also a business advisor at Kitchen Table Advisors, a nonprofit that works with beginning farmers to help them market their products. In addition, he serves on the board of California FarmLink, which has created a statewide program of economic development support for beginning, limited-resource, immigrant and other underserved farmers across the state.

Exhibition of Nature Photographs

Owl perched on brown vegetation in a snowy field“Nature photography is my passion,” says Ken Saunders II, who retired from a long career with the College’s facilities management department in 2015.

“Looking at his photographs, one is compelled to add that nature photography is also his forte,” says Jon Andelson, professor of anthropology and director of the Center for Prairie Studies. “Ken’s striking photographs show us nature at its most beautiful. His favorite subjects are individual animals and plants, captured in their natural habitat at rest or in motion, with close-up or telephoto lens.”

Saunders took all of the photographs in this exhibit, titled “Portraits of Nature in Iowa,” within 40 miles of Grinnell. The exhibit will open Aug. 25 and run through Oct 15 in Burling Gallery on the lower level of Burling Library, 1111 Sixth Ave., Grinnell.

It may surprise some viewers that this diversity of wildlife can be found so close to our community, Andelson adds.  

It seems likely that Saunders would agree with Henry David Thoreau’s statement, “What’s the need of visiting far-off mountains and bogs if a half-hour’s walk will carry me into such wildness and novelty?” — though in fact he also photographs in other parts of the country, especially in the mountain west.

Saunders recalls getting his first camera — a Kodak 104 Instamatic, which retailed for $15.95 – when he was about 7 years old. Many years later he advanced to a 35mm film single-lens reflex camera, a Pentax, and then in 2003 began experimenting with digital photography.  He got his first digital single-lens reflex camera in 2006, a Nikon D200, and has been working in this vein ever since.

The Center for Prairie Studies and the Faulconer Gallery are co-sponsoring the exhibit of Saunders’ photography. An opening reception will take place at Burling Gallery) at 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 2. Refreshments will be served.

Gallery hours are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

 

 

 

Commencement 2016

It’s been a beautiful day for the 170th Commencement of Grinnell College, celebrating the class of 2016.

Commencement exercises began at 10 a.m. at the amphitheater on Central Campus, and are now complete.

The ceremony featured an address by internationally renowned novelist Zadie Smith and the awarding of honorary degrees.

Join us as we celebrate our newest graduates. You can:

  • See a copy of the live stream on YouTube. (Higher quality video will be available later.)
  • Follow and join the conversation on Twitter: @GrinnellCollege #Grinnell2016
  • Share your photos on Instagram: #GrinnellCollege or #Grinnell2016
  • Follow us on Facebook and YouTube for highlights from the day.
  • Check out the story on Snapchat: username grinnellcollege

About Zadie Smith

Zadie SmithNovelist Zadie Smith was born in North London in 1975 to an English father and a Jamaican mother. She read English at Cambridge, graduating in 1997. Her acclaimed first novel, White Teeth, is a vibrant portrait of contemporary multicultural London. The book won many honors, including the Guardian First Book Award, the Whitbread First Novel Award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Overall Winner, Best First Book), and two BT Ethnic and Multicultural Media Awards (Best Book/Novel and Best Female Media Newcomer). Smith’s The Autograph Man, a story of loss, obsession, and the nature of celebrity, received the 2003 Jewish Quarterly Wingate Literary Prize for Fiction.

In 2003 and 2013 Smith was named by Granta magazine as one of 20 “Best of Young British Novelists.” Smith’s On Beauty won the 2006 Orange Prize for Fiction. Her most recent novel, NW, was named as one of the “10 Best Books of 2012” by The New York Times. A tenured professor of creative writing at New York University, Smith writes regularly for The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books. She published one collection of essays, Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays, and is working on a book of essays titled Feel Free.

About Honorary Degree Recipients

Zadie Smith will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at Grinnell’s Commencement exercises.

Grinnell also will confer honorary degrees upon two alumni and a renowned educator.

Thomas Cole ’71 will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws. He is U.S. Representative for Oklahoma’s 4th Congressional District, serving since 2002. Cole, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, is the fourth-ranking Republican leader in the House. He is currently one of only two Native American serving in Congress and was inducted into the Chickasaw Hall of Fame in 2004.

Fred Hersch ’77 will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. A pianist, composer, and one of the world’s foremost jazz artists, Hersch was described as “one of the small handful of brilliant musicians of his generation” by Downbeat magazine. His accomplishments include a 2003 Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship for composition and numerous Grammy nominations. He is a member of the Jazz Studies faculty at the New England Conservatory.

Claudia Swisher will receive an honorary Doctor of Social Studies. She was an English teacher for several decades at Norman North High School in Norman, Okla., where she was admired for going above and beyond in her efforts to connect with students. She saw education as something that should be formed around the children, and not that the children and their interests should be manipulated to conform to education.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Information on commencement ceremonies is available at Grinnell’s Commencement Web page. For any further information on commencement, please call 641-269-3178.

Photo of Zadie Smith by Dominique Nabokov

The New Pioneer Bookshop Is Open

The Grinnell College Bookstore and the Pioneer Bookshop have been combined into a new location at 933 Main Street in Grinnell, Iowa.

After two weeks of moving and setting up, the Pioneer Bookshop is now open for business.

The hours are:

  • Monday–Friday 8:30 a.m.–6 p.m.
  • Thursday night until 7 p.m. and
  • Saturday 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

Save the date of September 16 for the Pioneer Bookshop Grand Opening.

Contrasting Sculpture Exhibitions at Faulconer Gallery

Grinnell College's Faulconer Gallery reopens Friday, July 1, with a pair of contrasting sculpture exhibitions, each drawn, in its own way, from life. Both exhibitions are free and open to the public. They will close September 11, 2016

Anders Krisár, Untitled, 2014–15

Anders Krisár, Untitled, 2014–15. Polyester resin and mixed media. Courtesy of the artist.

Anders Krisár features a Swedish artist who first exhibited his work as a photographer in the Faulconer Gallery’s 2005 exhibition, Scandinavian Photography 1: Sweden. Returning now as both a photographer and sculptor, he creates figurative pieces that are uncannily lifelike, cast primarily from members of his own family.

On the Bright Side ..., the first exhibition in Iowa of works by California artists Tim Berg and Rebekah Myers, explores the way consumerism and branding tug on individuals’ heartstrings. Their sculptures, smooth-surfaced and candy-colored, may provoke gallery visitors’ senses of conservation and kleptomania in equal measure.

Anders Krisár is inspired by the human tendency to describe emotional states in terms that are rooted in the physical, says Daniel Strong, associate director of Faulconer Gallery and curator of the exhibition. For example, he adds, “It is second-hand to say that someone or something has an ‘impact' on us, or that we are ‘beside ourselves’ in making a decision, or ‘torn in two’ by a particular dilemma or event in our lives.” The self-trained Krisár, whose family has been affected by bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, explores in his work a physical expression of this emotional language.

On the Bright Side … focuses on “shiny objects” — rare things that capture our attention for a moment or two longer than usual in today’s global cultural exchange routinely reduced to seconds-long sound bites and rapid-fire images. Berg and Myers recreate this phenomenon in their sculpture, casting everyday objects and animals in unexpected ways that underscore the power of re-presentation in stoking cultural consumers’ desire.

Polar bears and penguins are coveted at all points on the spectrum, both the moral and the rainbow-colored variety. (You’d like this polar bear in purple? You got it.) These animals are precious victims of melting ice caps but also stylized logos to promote everything from conservation activism to boutique ecotourism.

“Ultimately,” Strong concludes, “love is a tricky emotion. Love is to nurture and protect, but love is also to want. Gallery visitors are going to want these objects. Of course, we applaud the instinct to preserve while discouraging the desire to take.”

Faulconer Gallery is located in Grinnell College’s Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, 1108 Park St., Grinnell. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week, and admission is free. The gallery will be closed on Monday, July 4, for Independence Day.

Thank You, Summerfest Attendees

Grinnell College would like to thank all who attended the 2016 Grinnell College Summerfest. 

Hundreds of visitors of all ages from around Iowa and other states visited the Grinnell College campus on Saturday, June 11, for a daylong celebration of learning and discovery that included performances, workshops, lectures, and food offerings. 

If you were one of the hundreds that visited, we hope that you enjoyed the festivities and welcome any feedback.  If you were unable to attend this year, please consider joining us next year. 

We invite you to enjoy a selection of photos of the day.

Grinnell College Summerfest: create, learn, discover

New Interim Director of Campus Safety and Security

Scott KinnieScott Kinnie, who served 36 years in campus security at Kean University in Union and Hillside, New Jersey, has joined Grinnell College as interim director of Campus Safety and Security.

He is leading Grinnell’s operations while Steve Briscoe, director of campus safety and security, is on extended medical leave. Briscoe joined Grinnell College 18 years ago as the College’s first director of security. He developed the campus safety and security operation as it transitioned from a “night watchman” in Facilities Management into the comprehensive department we see today.

“We are thrilled to welcome Scott Kinnie to the Student Affairs team for this interim period,” says Andrea Conner, associate vice president of student affairs at Grinnell College. ”Scott’s 36 years of experience at Kean University in New Jersey – and especially his increasing level of responsibility and leadership over the years at Kean – show that he was trusted to lead and advance their department.

“His expertise in higher education safety and security, Clery Act compliance, threat assessment and emergency management suit him to help us begin the process of making advances and modernizations in Grinnell’s campus safety and security operation,” she adds. “Even in Scott’s first few weeks he’s shown himself to be a valuable addition to our visioning and strategic planning process.”

“I’m grateful to have this great opportunity to help Grinnell College build up its campus safety and security operations,” Kinnie said. “We’re looking at professionalizing the dispatch function, upgrading the radio communications system, and computerizing the records management system.

“We also hope to add officers over the next 1 to 3 years and to provide all officers with more high-level training in areas such as investigations, first aid, and report writing. In addition, we will be encouraging our officers interact more with students.”

Kinnie, who holds a bachelor’s degree in human services from Thomas Edison State College, began his career with Kean University Police as a detective, police officer. He was promoted to sergeant and then lieutenant of the investigations unit before serving as acting chief of police and director of public safety.

He retired from Kean in 2014 as deputy chief, operations lieutenant and executive officer. In that role, he directly supervised operational and administrative lieutenants, emergency medical service, fire safety and environmental health offices, and parking services. He was responsible for a staff of 62 sworn and nonsworn personnel. 

He went on to design and deliver active shooter training and tabletop exercises for colleges and universities in New Jersey. He also became project manager and senior consultant for a consulting firm specializing in creating a “best-in-class” campus security strategy for institutions of higher education.

All Hands on Deck

The exhibition “All Hands on Deck,” opening Friday, May  13, 2016, will feature recent acquisitions to the Faulconer Gallery, Grinnell College Art Collection.

The exhibition takes its name from a series of seven powerful prints created by St. Louis-based artist Damon Davis in response to events in Ferguson, Missouri, and elsewhere.

The prints depict the raised hands of all kinds of individuals — old and young, black, white, and brown — inspiring others to rise up.

““It is crucial to comprehend that Damon Davis’s work is not merely inspired by the Ferguson uprising, but a part of it, and of its effect on the arc toward justice,” says Dan Strong, associate director of Faulconer Gallery.

“The hands in ‘All Hands on Deck,’ hard-edged against a stark background, appear from the perspective not of the oppressor, but of the demonstrator,” Strong added. “Photographed by Davis, scanned and commercially printed at Wildwood Press in St. Louis, these hands first proliferated as street art on the boarded-up storefronts of West Florissant in November 2014, to show solidarity with the people of Ferguson.”

The Faulconer Gallery acquired the prints for its permanent collection in honor of the late Vernon E. Faulconer ’61 graduate and life trustee of the College who was best known as founder of the Faulconer Gallery, along with his wife, Amy Hamamoto Faulconer ’59.

The “All Hands on Deck” exhibition also highlights other recent additions to the Grinnell College Art Collection:   

  • Seven large drawings made from the carbon of candle smoke by South African artist Diane Victor, who created the drawings while in residence at Grinnell in 2011
  • Prints from the “Chinese Library” series by Chinese artist Xie Xiaoze, who holds a named chair at Stanford University
  • The Lenny Seidenman Collection of late 19th-century French prints and posters, including 10 works by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec

The exhibition will run through Saturday, June 19, in Faulconer Gallery at the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, 1108 Park St., Grinnell.

Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week, and admission is free. The Gallery will be closed on Memorial Day.

 Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Bucksbaum Center for the Arts has accessible parking in the lot behind the building north of Sixth Avenue. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations and Events.

Film Screening: Called to Walls

Dave Loewenstein ’88 is returning to campus — along with co-directors Nick Ward and Amber Hansen — for a panel discussion and film screening of Called to Walls. The free, public event will begin at 7 p.m. Friday, May 6, in ARH Auditorium, Room 302.

Called to Walls is "part road-movie, part inspirational small town drama, and part art documentary" that chronicles the making of giant murals in the city cores of places like Newton and Joplin, Mo.

For Loewenstein, there’s more to creating a mural than just painting the side of a building. He designs political activism prints and specializes in community-based collaborative public art projects. He’s worked on murals all over the United States, including Grinnell, as well as in Korea, Northern Ireland, and Brazil. In his experience, making a piece of public art has encouraged conversations (and offers of help) from passers-by, resulting in what he calls an “improvised gathering space.”

The events are sponsored by Alumni in the Classroom and Artists@Grinnell.

Dave Loewenstein ’88

Dave LoewensteinDave Loewenstein is a muralist, writer, and printmaker based in Lawrence, Kansas. In addition to his more than twenty public works in Kansas, examples of his dynamic and richly colored community-based murals can be found across the United States in Missouri, Oklahoma, Arizona, Arkansas, Texas, South Dakota, Mississippi, Iowa, Chicago, New Orleans, and New York City, and in Northern Ireland and South Korea.

Loewenstein’s prints, which focus on current social and political issues, are exhibited nationally and are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Yale University,  and the Center for the Study of Political Graphics in Los Angeles. He is the co-author of Kansas Murals: A Traveler’s Guide, a 2007 Kansas Notable Book Award Winner, published by the University Press of Kansas; and the co-director of the documentary film Creating Counterparts which won Best Documentary at the 2003 Kansas Filmmakers Jubilee.

Loewenstein has been recognized widely for his work, including the 2001 Lighton Prize for Arts Educator of the Year from Kansas City Young Audiences, the 2004 Tom and Anne Moore Peace and Justice Award given by the Lawrence Coalition for Peace and Justice, a 2006 Phoenix Award from the Lawrence Arts Commission, a 2007 Kansas Press Association 1st Place Columnist Award for his column “Blank Canvas,” and in 2014 he was named one of the founding Cultural Agents for the new U.S. Department of Arts and Culture. His most recent studio project is Give Take Give, funded by the Rocket Grants program.