We Bought a Zoo! Student Music Tonight!

From Womp to Alpenglow, we’ve certainly had a semester packed with great student music. Prepare to be wowed, as Middlebury’s favorite folk septet, Iron Eyes Cody is back again, bring us live music. This time they will be joined by bands Mount Philo, Newt Gingrich and the GOP Allstars, & Drums on Fire.  The theme of the show Halloween; costumes are encouraged. The show will be at 8:30 PM, tonight night in the Hepburn Zoo!

Get Stoked!!!!

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What: Live Music!
Date: Thursday, 10/30
Time: 8:30 PM
Place: Hepburn Zoo
Cost: Free!

Humans of Middlebury: Jacob Epstein ’16

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“Why are you so drawn to physics?”

“Because if you want to ground yourself in reality, you have to understand everything about it. Like in quantum chemistry, you will maybe talk about the hydrogen atom, a building block of our world. In quantum physics, you have to really understand every layer.”Jacob Epstein ’16

Check out Humans of Middlebury on Facebook.

Ambiguity, Inquiry, Dialogue: The Visual Thinking Strategies Teaching Method and Higher Education

Image from VTS website, they ask: What's going on in this image?

Image from VTS website, they ask: What’s going on in this image?

Sarah Larsen writes in to tell us about a fascinating lecture being held today by Dabney Hailey, a curator and educator who promotes Visual Thinking Strategies, a program that “transforms the way students think and learn through programs based in theory and research that use discussions of visual art to significantly increase student engagement and performance.” If you’re interested in art history, museums, educational theory, or creative thinking at large, this lecture should be worth checking out. As Sarah explains:

Curator and educator Dabney Hailey will facilitate a discussion about an artwork to demonstrate the teaching method, Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS). She then will address some key questions: What is visual thinking (or visual literacy), why does it matter, and how might it be developed in undergraduate students? How can open-ended, rigorous discussions about art, such as VTS conversations, enable academic museums to more effectively meet and influence curricular needs across disciplines? Describing the ways in which VTS cultivates the process of inquiry, creates comfort with ambiguity, and fosters collaboration, Hailey will draw on her experiences applying the method in a range of classes (Anthropology, Biology, Business, Neuroscience, Philosophy, and Public Policy, among others) at Brandeis University’s Rose Art Museum. This lecture is Sponsored by the Museum of Art and the Department of History of Art and Architecture. The Museum will remain open until 7:00 PM for post-lecture visitors.

Date: Today, October 29
Time: Lecture 4:30 – 5:30 pm, Museum open until 7 pm
Place: CFA Room 125

Recap: Silent March Against Police Brutality

IMG_1321[1] This past Wednesday marked the National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality, a nationwide movement to bring attention to and reform racist and oppressive policing.  In a show of solidarity, about 60 students and faculty gathered for a silent march, toting signs and candles from Ross dining hall to Olin and Mead Chapel.  Students broke the silence only to present readings giving personal and historical context to the police brutality and racial oppression inherent to the country’s criminal justice system.  The march at Middlebury was organized by a number of campus cultural organizations, including Distinguished Men of Color, Women of Color, Alianza, and Amnesty International.

The march was a point of action in Middlebury’s student movement to raise questions on the persistence of state violence and an invitation for those who aren’t familiar to get involved and join the national dialogue on race and policing.  Marchers wore black in part as mourning for the victims who have fallen but also as David Ollin Pesquiera ’17, co-chair of Alianza, put it “to symbolize the obscure blindness of our society to do right against wrong.”

While at Middlebury it can be difficult to comprehend the extent to which certain communities close to campus, and all across the country experience the backside of the law.  Just this past summer, national awareness of police brutality reached a peak not seen since the riots following the beating of Rodney King in 1991.  Between the demonstrations and outrage over the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO and mass mobilization following the death of Eric Garner in Staten Island at the hands of the NYPD, amonst other instances of police brutality, the issue many have been all too familiar with for years has come to the forefront of our national dialogue.  The march this past Wednesday was a reminder to the Middlebury community of the importance of this dialogue, and an opportunity for students to stand in solidarity with the nationwide movement to end police brutality and racialized policing.

middbeat caught up with some folks participating in the march about their reasons for showing support.  See on after the jump to read their accounts, and check out more photos from the march.

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Awkward Family Photos Co-Founder Visits Midd on an Appropriate Weekend

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Mike Bender (’97), the co-founder of the Awkward Family Photos website, book, and photo exhibit is a Middlebury graduate. This past Saturday, Oct. 25, Bender gave a “Gallery Talk” about his career as a curator of awkward family photos. His talk was especially relevant because it was Fall Parent’s Weekend.

About 80 people filled Wilson Hall in McCullough auditorium to hear Bender articulate what has motivated him to collect more than 2,000 awkward family photos over the past five years. “We’ve all been awkward at some point in our lives,” he said, eliciting laughter from a crowd comprised mostly of parents accompanied by their college-aged offspring. With regard to the forced happiness that people try to conjure for family portraits, Bender said, “family is not all smiles, it’s all the things in between.”

One of Bender’s guiding tenants is that “family is awkward… When a group of people with the same last name and different personalities are forced to spend most of their lives together, plenty of uncomfortable moments are sure to follow.” Surveying the immediate milieu of Middlebury family units, however, the adjective “awkward” didn’t jump out immediately. Instead, I saw a sea of people that could stand in for Gap models: preppy fall coats, smart eyewear; mothers with tidy haircuts of convincingly youthful hues wearing Lululemon exercise jackets and clogs; fathers sporting college baseball caps, sensible slip-on Merrell shoes, pastel button-up shirts, and of course, sweater vests.

But maybe the acute conventionality of the average Middlebury family translates into some incongruous family photos. Michelle Yang ’17.5 particularly appreciates the medium of the family portrait because “It’s one snapshot that doesn’t capture the intricacies of a family,” she says. “You don’t know who’s on good terms with whoever, or if dinner sucked last night. You don’t get that.” In other words, family photos are most interesting when they communicate dynamics that the family is not trying to advertise. The discrepancy between the sought-after impression and the unintentionally implied reality makes us laugh.

The live portraits of student-parent relationships provided over Fall Parent’s Weekend at Middlebury probably reflect Yang’s opinion. They are most interesting to observe when they reveal clues to the tone of interaction at the dinner table, to internal antagonisms and alliances, to mutually tolerated nuisances – the things that represent us sincerely, if uncomfortably.

In the spirit of unapologetically embracing family awkwardness, middbeat invites you to submit photos of yourself or your family. Preferably aged ones, because your recent family photos could only be graceful and alluring, right?

All photos can be submitted to middbeatATgmailDOTcom with the subject heading FAMILY PHOTOS. The photos will be featured on middbeat and the most awkward or entertaining photo will receive a prize!

WOMP Tonight

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Come out to tonight’s Wednesday Open Mic Party to see the one and only Armenian National Anthem and “whatever” play their world renowned set. You wouldn’t want to miss this show and the wonderful opportunity to deal with the mid-semester blues. All musicians are welcome to play and all of you fine people who aren’t musicians are encouraged to come vibe out to this once in a life time (per week) WOMP. It’s going to be legendary.

When: TONIGHT (Wednesday October, 29) at 9pm
Where: Gamut Room

Ron’s Closet: Capturing the Spirit of Middlebury College Through Apparel and Design

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There’s a new Middlebury alumni-led fashion endeavor in the works, and if you haven’t heard about it, you definitely should. While recent regulations have spurred many of us to criticize Middlebury campus traditions (or lack thereof), Ryan Brewster ’14 is determined to do the opposite, reviving and celebrating what Midd traditions we do retain through creative design. Enter Ron’s Closet Apparel Company

The ethos is simple. As Ryan explains:

Ron’s Closet Apparel Company aims to capture the spirit of Middlebury through graphic and clothing design. Channeling the innocent desires of a “Proctor Crush” or the unabashed disrobing that is “Like a Prayer,” our products are informed by the timeless themes that define our wacky, yet endearing culture.

Community. Tradition. Self-Expression. These are the core principles of Ron’s Closet, and embody the ethos of a brand created by and for Middlebury students. Consistent with these values, everything we produce will be sold at the cost of printing (i.e. we don’t care about profit), and any money that is contributed on top will be set aside for local charities.

Sounds pretty cool, and the designs (some featured above) are pretty awesome. After freshman year it seems we all get a bit sick of sporting that classic Middlebury sweatshirt, the emblem of college acceptance purchased within minutes of receiving the big envelope in the mail. This being said, there’s undoubtedly value in identifying with the aspects of our institution we do like, and Ron’s Closet designs provide a platform to do so, it’s mission being “to create apparel that is inspired by the lifestyle and pulse of Middlebury College.”

Plus, because Ron’s Closet is not profit-driven, you can feel good about your investment, knowing any surplus money will be donated to local charities. The company will be using the crowd-funding site Tee Spring, where shirts can be ordered individually on the basis of separate campaigns. Products will be printed and shipped once the minimum threshold of buyers is reached. More information regarding Tee Spring policies can be found here.

Ryan writes in to reinforce that Ron’s Closet is currently recruiting graphic designers (or any creative minds) who are interested in contributing to our collection. An additional arm of Ron’s Closet is that of a pro bono design service for events/organizations/you name it seeking branding and marketing materials. Among recent collaborators have included the Student Government Association, the Middlebury College Emergency Medical Services and the Islamic Society of Middlebury College.

Sounds like this start-up could really take off, so it could be a smart move to get involved fast. Contact rbrewster@middlebury.edu for information! And, to learn more about the project, check out Ron’s Closet Facebook page here.

P.S.: Ryan, middbeat would certainly love our own design!

TODAY: Variations on Utopia in Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction

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Mingwei Song, Associate Professor of Chinese at Wellesley College, will give a talk today at 4:30 P.M. on the exciting, strange world of Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction. He will be focusing on the idea of utopia as it is represented in different novels in the aforementioned genre. This is not a lecture to miss out on.

When: 4:30 P.M.

Where: The Robert A. Jones ’59 House Conference Room

Kerrin McCadden Poetry Reading Tonight 4:30

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Vermont-based poet Kerrin McCadden will give a reading tonight in the Axinn’s Abernathy Room at 4:30.  Winner of the 2014 New Issues Prize, McCadden recently published a collection of poems entitled “Landscape with Plywood Silhouette” from which she will presumably read tonight.  See after the jump for her poem “If You Were a Zombie Boy.”  Hope to see you there.

When: Today 4:30
Where: Abernathy

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Wesleyan’s Foss Hill and Universal Social Space on Middlebury’s Campus

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This post is intended to be the beginning of a conversation about campus social life leading up to this coming Sunday’s conversation with President Liebowitz.  While the conversation over the past month has focused predominantly on alcohol policy, other pieces of campus life, such as exclusivity, must be taken into account as well.  Students talk frequently to a perceived clickiness, and social division in the student body.  This post hopes to open up discussion regarding potential avenues for inclusivity.  Please comment, argue, and expand on the conversation below. 

One of the things I think I miss most about the school I transferred from, Wesleyan University, is Foss Hill, the center piece of the campus geography.  Whether it was through pure geological luck, or the careful crafting of campus designers, it was one of the few places on campus where you would either intentionally leave the comforts of your dorm to hang out with friends, or accidentally end up engaged in a conversation, smoking a joint, or playing frisbee with.  It was equidistant from pretty much everywhere on campus, it was big enough not to be merely a corridor between classes, open enough so that 100 people could each be with their small group of friends without being overheard by others, and had the added bonus of being part of a social contract that eschewed oversight or supervision from the administration.  If you stood in the middle of the hill on a particularly nice day, you could see students rolling a joint, doing their homework, sunbathing, doing yoga, walking to class, playing music, engaging in student activism throwing a frisbee, playing football, reciting poetry, napping, and hooking up simply by turning a circle.

While there are comparable spaces on Midd’s campus, namely Battell Beach, I have always felt the lack of a place like this on campus that drew students in like a magnet, and pacified them enough so that they’d stay and allow themselves ten minutes of devoted decompression.  There’s no place that occupies your periphery while walking across campus where you can count on students being for a broad array of reasons that do not simply involve eating, working, and sleeping.  A place hat beckons you to sit down and allow for the constant pulse of activity that drives this campus fade away if for only a short while.

Past posts of this type have called for the creation of some new communal space that students could truly call their own.  Rather than creation, here I call for designation.  Designating a space on campus where students go to do whatever it is they want to do in the presence of other students.  It increasingly appears to be a consensus on campus that Crossroads, for all of its wonderful qualities (coffee, pool, big screen, trivia night, sushi, the grille, concerts), often feels somewhat alienating and institutional.  Many view the dining halls as the optimal community spots, but I cannot say that I have seen people do much more than eat, work, and talk within the walls of Proctor, Ross, and Atwater. Battell Beach may be the closest thing we have to an optimal community space, but as one whose life is generally confined to the south side of campus, I rarely pass through.

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