Author: Rebecca Carcaterra

P.O. Box mass fliers obnoxious and wasteful

I, like many Oles, dearly love my P.O. box. I love the little antiquated door knobs. I love contriving as many ways as possible to walk by and check for flowers on Friday afternoons. But most of all I love the little rush of endorphins and validation when I see a flash of color peeking out of those little P.O. box windows. What could it be? A postcard? A package slip? An anonymous bag of candy from an ardent admirer?

Usually, it’s a mass-produced flyer.

According to the St. Olaf Post Office’s website, only St. Olaf-sponsored items may be mass stuffed. They cannot be smaller than a ¼ sheet of paper. However I would add an additional stipulation: just don’t do it.

The most I have ever done after receiving a stuffed flyer was to think to myself, “Oh, that’s kind of interesting, I should look online for the details.” Then I either march the flyer across the hallway to the recycling bin, or more likely shove into my pocket or the depths of my backpack only to be discovered months later as an illegible wad of paper. It disappoints me then, too. That strange lump in my pocket could have been money. Instead, it’s a pamphlet about a blood drive that happened six months ago and that I attended after looking at the Facebook event like a normal millennial. 

There are a little over 3,000 students, and going to the trouble to print them each a flyer is a waste of resources, time and most importantly paper. According to sierraclub.com, a typical tree produces only 10,000 to 20,000 sheets of paper, meaning that we are using as much as 30 percent of a tree with every P.O. box announcement. 

A simple email, which you can’t lose and you can access anywhere, would be more than sufficient for getting the word out.

My complaint extends to this campus’ overloaded bulletin boards too. I was recently asked to hang up a stack of posters on the bulletin boards across campus, and as I searched for a bit of empty corkboard amid the flurries of advertisements, it occurred to me that I had almost never stopped to study these posters, many of which clearly had enormous effort poured into their design and production. 

Is it really the best of use of time and resources of the students and organizations involved to labor over largely ignored hard copies of information? Not to mention the printers themselves. They should be busy printing real relevant and timely pieces of print media, like student newspapers. Nobody has ever considered those to be obsolete.

Obviously, there are more pressing things to reform in our campus culture than P.O. box flyers. However, when a habit is expensive, wasteful and unproductive, it is worth reconsidering. And for the sake of both the environment and our changing cultural norms, I would strongly recommend against printing thousands of sheets of paper that will almost immediately, universally, be trashed. Then I can go back to skulking around the mailboxes in search of that elusive Friday flower in peace.

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Myswyken to stage new adaptation: “Romeo vs. Juliet”

This Saturday, April 22 at 7 p.m. may be your only chance to witness a guidance counselor marry a couple of high schoolers over the Book of Mormon in the courtyard between Boe Chapel and Buntrock Commons. Continue reading “Myswyken to stage new adaptation: “Romeo vs. Juliet””

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Ole jazz group fills house at the Cow

It had never happened before.

As I walked into the Contented Cow on Saturday, Feb. 25 at about 6:45 pm, there were no available seats anywhere in the bar.

We scoured every corner and table, but the pub was filled to the brim with Oles coming to socialize, listen to high-quality jazz music and support their friends and classmates who make up campus jazz band, No Votes for Oats.

The band features Eliza Block ’17 on trumpet, Simon Broccard ’18 on alto sax, Kieran Berton ’18 on piano, Ally Moore ’19 on bass and Henry Huber ’17 on drums. The group originally formed two years ago, although one original member graduated and two members are studying abroad this semester. Moore just joined this semester, making her debut at the Cow.

“We first started playing together because a few of us in the jazz band wanted to participate in jam sessions on the weekend,” Broccard said. “During the first few months, we never really had the intention of performing outside the band room because we were having fun on our own agenda. It wasn’t until our first gig that we began to consider performing in public spaces.”

The decision to bring their music to the public was obviously the right one, because in order to find a seat at the packed performance my friends and I ended up needing to drag a row of chairs directly in front of the stage, just a few feet away from the jamming musicians. I felt a little conspicuous sneaking my notebook out of my purse, so instead of taking notes I just watched the magic happen in front of me.

A crucial element of playing jazz is improvisation, and those skills were on display at the concert. The band members were closely engaged with each other, nodding and breaking into genuine smiles when one of their bandmates took ahold of a solo and ran with it. Their chemistry was palpable and made watching them play that much more fun.

“I feel so fortunate to be able to play with people who are not only great musicians, but are also creative, intelligent and fun to be around,” Block said.

Unlike the band’s other gigs, the Cow allows the group to have complete freedom over their setlist.

“Performing at the Cow is always a great experience because we can create a set list that includes everything from swing and Latin jazz, to pop and electronic,” he said.

The setlist was largely unfamiliar to me, as my experience with jazz is sadly largely limited to recent non-Best Picture winner “La La Land,” but more knowledgeable listeners would have recognized standards like Herbie Hancock’s “Tell Me a Bedtime Story” and Joe Henderson’s “Black Narcissus.” By far the most popular number of their night was the finale, Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke,” which had several audience members on their feet and singing along, and left us all humming and buzzing as we headed out.

For those who missed the concert, the band will be playing at the Cow again on Friday, April 29. If it’s anything like the last one, No Votes for Oats promises to deliver a great, casual concert filled with energy, warmth, comfortable chemistry and keen musicianship. Here’s to many more standing-room only shows for this talented campus band.

carcater@stolaf.edu

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Sacred Native site is now a golf course

“I had no idea,” Professor of Religion John Barbour announced to Viking Theater during his introduction of the lecture entitled “The Earthworks of Newark, Ohio: The Remarkable Past, Troubled Present, and Uncertain Future of a Great American Pilgrimage Center.”

This is a common sentiment when it comes to the Newark Earthworks, a prehistoric site of sacred earthen mounds located in central Ohio. On Oct. 7, the Flaten Art Museum and the St. Olaf Religion Department hosted a lecture by Ohio State University professor Lindsay Jones, who came to campus to share his expertise on the surprising truths of one of the United States’s most obscure and valuable cultural sites.

Jones is an international expert on sacred architecture, as well as a scholar of cross-cultural study of religion. He has traveled all around the world studying sacred places, but he was surprised to discover an important site so close to home.

“I’m not going to be at all surprised if none of you have heard of this site,” Jones said, noting that the Earthworks are just as distinguished for obscurity as their value.

The Newark Earthworks consist of two geometric hill-like structures built of mounded earth. The mounds take the form of an octagon and a circle, and were created by the Hopewell people around the same time as the birth of Christ. The site was traditionally a sacred pilgrimage site and was constructed to correspond with the rising and setting of the moon based on a complex 18.6 year cycle.

The Earthworks have been designated as one of 70 Wonders of the Ancient World and are in consideration to be a UNESCO World Heritage site. Yet, in what some might say is true American fashion, the 2000-year-old mounds are currently home to the Moundbuilders Country Club golf course. Access is closed to the public on all but four days a year, despite the various groups that hope to make a pilgrimage there, including increasing numbers of Native peoples. The golf course currently has a lease on the land until 2078. Of all the groups who have a claim and opinion on the Earthworks, Jones said they can “unify in disdain for the golf course.”

Jones co-edited a book entitled the “Newark Earthworks: Enduring Monuments, Contested Meanings” exploring some of these differing perspectives and claims on the Earthworks. It includes perspectives from historians, archaeologists, architects, sociologists and lawyers.

“This was not the rainbow coalition,” Jones said. “The more time they spent together the less they liked each other.”

Despite presenting these multiple warring perspectives, Jones didn’t feel the need to have the book come to a tidy consensus.

“I have no interest whatsoever in finding and fixing the ‘true meaning’ of Newark Earthworks,” he said. “In every single era, including this present era, the Earthworks have different meanings for different audiences.”

For Ohio locals, the surprising news that their local golf course includes a world-renowned ancient site on par with Stonehenge and Machu Picchu “can give you a great sense of pride in Ohio,” Jones said. He credited the mounds for their personal as well as professional impact, creating a “humbling awareness” about the small scope of our claim on the land:

“I’m conducting my life on top of this landscape where this spectacular mound culture existed. It really changes my sense of who I am and where I am and how I am connected to that place.”

carcater@stolaf.edu

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Fire blazes in Larson

On Saturday, Nov. 7, a fire in Larson Hall caused significant smoke damage and triggered two fire alarms, prompting the entire hall to evacuate. The exact cause of the fire, which happened in room 402, has not been determined at this time. The fire is believed to be an accident, and students will not face disciplinary action.

According to Director of Public Safety Fred C. Behr, the fire was confined to a small trash can in the corner of the room and scorched the bottom of the curtains. The curtains did not ignite, as they were treated with a fire retardant spray. The damage is mostly from smoke – the entire contents of the room will need to be professionally cleaned or replaced. The room will need to be sanitized and re-painted before it can be lived in, which should happen by Friday, Nov. 13.

The fire was discovered when two students walking towards Larson Hall noticed a flickering light in the window. One called Public Safety, while the other pulled the fire alarm.

Public Safety located the room, but there was no smell of smoke, according to Behr. The officer unlocked the door and discovered the room filled with smoke. The officer radioed the location of the fire and began fighting it with a fire extinguisher from a maintenance closet. Another officer responded and assisted. Because of the heavy smoke and the chemicals from the extinguisher inside the room, the officers had to leave and re-enter the room several times until they were sure the fire was out. During this time, the Area Coordinator and another officer cleared the floor and building, moving people outside.

The Northfield Fire Department arrived and ensured the fire was out. They cleared the room and students were allowed to re-enter the building. The Northfield Police and an ambulance were also on scene.

Both Public Safety officers fighting the fire were treated at the Northfield Hospital for smoke inhalation. The initial officer was taken by ambulance.

carcater@stolaf.edu

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