Ways to Give: Service Opportunities, On-Campus and Off

With Thanksgiving and the holiday season all around us, many people are inspired to commit some extra time and energy to social service. Here’s a review of some of the many opportunities on campus and in our local community.

When you come back from break, consider bringing some charitable donations with you:

  • Feminists United for Sexual Equality (FUSE) and the St. Mary’s Triangle and Rainbow Society (STARS) are collaborating in an effort to donate menstrual products to local homeless shelters. Bring unopened boxes of pads, liners, and tampons to FUSE’s Monday night meeting, November 28, at 10 pm in Glendenning Annex, or look for the collection box in the Leadership Lab.
  • Omicron Delta Kappa, one of the St. Mary’s Honor Societies, is collecting canned goods and cold weather wear after Thanksgiving break. Check your pantry and the back of your closet before you return to St. Mary’s. The collection box will be in the Leadership Lab in Campus Center.
  • Stock the SMCM Food Pantry, located in Campus Center 143. Drop off nonperishable food items for the benefit of the St. Mary’s community at large—the pantry feeds any member of the SMCM community that is in need. According to Service and Social Change, they are always in need of, “Ramen, Meals, Pasta, Sauce, PB&J, Mac and Cheese, and Soup.”

And here are some ongoing service opportunities, on campus and off:

  • Help student volunteers from SEAC and the Office of Sustainability collect student-generated compost to be used at the Campus Farm. You can meet up with the compost crew every other Thursday at Dorch Circle at 4 pm; check the All-Student email for more information.
  • The Three Oaks Center in Lexington Park, which aids St. Mary’s County’s homeless population, is always looking for volunteers to help with meal preparation, as well as “people with special skills who may be available to act as tutors.” According to their website the Center is always in need of the following items for donation: “Linens, Undergarments, Hats/Gloves, Diapers, Baby Wipes, Toiletries, Non-Perishable, Food Items, [and] Home Furnishings.” For more information, go here.
  • You might also think of participating in St. Mary’s chapter of “Giving Tuesday,” this Tuesday, November 29. SMCM students are trying to reach the donation goal of $50,000. You can get more information from the Point News article by Joseph McManus.

Whether you’re trying to meet service requirements, or you’ve been inspired by the giving spirit, let’s try and make a difference in our community as we reach the end of the semester.

Student Artist Spotlight: Grace Humphries

While some seniors work on their St. Mary’s Projects locked away in labs or libraries, some are creating their projects in the art studio. Senior Grace Humphries is one of them and, after a long, indecisive college experience, she is excited to be able to share her passion with others in the coming months. Humphries is a four-year member of the varsity cross-country team and an art major. Her love of art began in first grade, when her teacher noticed her artistic ability in her school assignments and encouraged her parents to send her to art camp. Humphries says that she had “a loose-leaf notebook that I would carry everywhere and draw in it whenever I had the chance.” She explains that, from that young age until the present day, her interest and passion for art has wavered. “I found myself becoming disinterested with it when I was in high school,” says Humphries, “because the classes were always focused on technique more than content and although helpful, was less motivating.” Her passion returned, luckily, when she came to St. Mary’s nearly four years ago. She credits this to the art courses and professors here at SMCM, saying that they are “always so engaging and inspire me in ways I never thought possible”. Since her first year of college, she has changed her major three times, but when she finally settled on art, “everything felt right”.

Humphries is currently working on her St. Mary’s project, part of which is to be displayed at the mid-year art show in Boyden Gallery in December, along with other art SMPs. Although as a child, her main subjects were dogs, Grace has altered her focus slightly. Her SMP aims to represent the relationship between women and nature and “the underestimated strength that both maintain”. She feels emotionally connected to her work in her project, explaining that it is “truly apart of me and represents the thoughts and experience that I have”.

Currently, Grace aspires to be a graphic designer or seek out residencies or fellowships in which she is able to learn and share her art. While she says that the specifics are still being worked through, she knows for certain that art will be part of her future.


News in Brief: “Giving Tuesday” at SMCM

The online-born phenomenon of Giving Tuesday, a holiday in which “charities and organizations all over the world…participate in a day of giving,” is occurring on Tuesday, November 29 at SMCM. The event is a 24 hour period in which students, employees, families, and anyone affiliated with St. Mary’s is invited to make an online donation, with a goal of reaching $50,000 by the end of the day. While the Facebook page states the event’s primary purpose is funding “high-impact practices and programs that position students for success such as internships, study abroad, undergraduate research, and service projects,” donations towards any designation are encouraged.

Assistant Director of Alumni Relations, Lauren Taylor, identified bringing #givingtuesday to St. Mary’s as the brainchild of Alumni Director Dave Sushinsky. The nonprofit began four years ago as an attempt to partner with organizations and use social media to spread philanthropy.

Giving Tuesday is the most recent addition to the string of commercial holidays following Thanksgiving– Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The movement’s website, givingtuesday.org, boasts over 700,000 participants last year, having raised $116,000,000 in 71 countries, and has partnered with 40,000 organizations consisting of small businesses, nonprofits, government agencies and major corporations. The organization is a fundraising favorite for colleges seeking donations and includes ties to the United Nations Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

To get involved with the SMCM chapter of “Giving Tuesday”, which is being hosted by SMCM Athletics, SMCM Alumni, and the school at large, visit the Facebook page here, and make a donation this Tuesday.

Yellow Door Art Studios

Yellow Door Art Studios is a community art school located in the Town Square of Leonardtown. SMCM’s Professor Carrie Patterson founded the studio in 2009, when she realized forty-five minutes of art in public school is not enough time for young students to develop their artistic abilities. Patterson wanted more art opportunities for kids, so she established the “art hub” in Leonardtown.

Upon the creation of Yellow Door, Patterson supervised St. Mary’s Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) students in local public schools. She recognized that there were no undergrad art education courses within the MAT program that prepared students for graduate school. Also, Anne Arundel Hall was knocked down, and she did not have a space to have an art studio on campus. Hence, she created Yellow Door Art Studios; downstairs, both children and adults can participate in art classes, and upstairs there is space for artists to have studios.

Patterson continues to work closely with St. Mary’s students to create a bridge between her studio and the college community. Students can do volunteer work at the studio or apply for jobs. There are job opportunities offered during both the school year and the summer, full-time and part-time. Anyone who volunteers or works for the studio is allowed to take one of the studio’s art classes for free, which allows SMCM students to experience an art class not offered at the college.

The studio has had a “huge impact on the community,” Patterson says. “It has been really rewarding seeing young kids getting a lot out of art programs.” In each art-oriented class, learning technique is made fun and enjoyable to students of all ages. The studio benefits the community in more than artistic ways; art is bringing the community together.

“The studio couldn’t exist in any other location,” Patterson says. The small artistic community presents a great opportunity for the studio to thrive; even SMCM faculty sign up for workshops, and various clubs from campus also take advantage of the space, like the Best Buddies Club. Patterson loves to see St. Mary’s community members at the studio. “[The studio] is a good place [for visitors] to spend time with friends,” she says.

Every first Friday of the month, Yellow Door offers an open studio for $10. This space is for anyone to come and enjoy a creative and welcoming environment while expressing themselves through art. From Nov. 4 to Dec. 30, Yellow Door’s “Off the Square Gallery” will be hosting their annual MARKETPLACE, featuring “beautiful, functional, American Made objects from over 20 national and local artists.” Christmas on the Square in Leonardtown is on Nov. 25 from 5-9p.m., which is a special day to shop at the gallery. Patterson says the gallery has perfect gifts for the holidays, so be sure to check out the shop soon.

Yellow Door Art Studios will be entering into the third year at the Leonardtown location in February 2017. Yellow Door is located at 22795 Washington Street, Leonardtown. Patterson can be reached at 240-925-1888 if anyone has any questions. Visit the website www.yellowdoorartstudios.com to learn about upcoming events and studio offerings.

VOICES Reading: Kim Roberts

On November 10, Kim Roberts visited St. Mary’s for the VOICES Reading Series. Roberts said she’d do her best to keep politics out of the conversation, but it was obvious that it was still on peoples’ minds—Roberts noted that it was good to be out of D.C. for a little while. Professor Karen Anderson, coordinator of the VOICES Reading Series, commented during her short introduction, “Tonight we are lucky just to have poetry.”

English Professor Jeffrey Coleman gave the introduction for acclaimed poet and historian Kim Roberts. After she received her BFA from Emerson College, and her MFA from the University of Arizona, Roberts has published reams of poetry and edited several anthologies, in addition to serving as Editor for the magazine she founded in 2000, “Beltway Poetry Quarterly.” Today, she serves as the writer-in-residence for the Science Museum of Minnesota; the influence of her interest in science and history could be seen in her reading for VOICES.

Roberts had an eccentric idea on how to pick the order of her poems—she produced a black hat, and asked a student at random to take the hat around and ask audience members to pull out the next poem she would read. The first audience member to pick a poem was actually English Professor Robin Bates, who pulled out a slip of paper reading, “The Fiji Merman.”

Each of the poems that Roberts chose for the evening had to do with marine life, or experiences on the water. She said she thought it was fitting, with the gorgeous view of the river to be found on St. Mary’s campus. Many poems dealt heavily with location—“The Fiji Merman” was set in Lewes, Delaware, at a museum where you can find the eponymous mummified creation of a fisherman; another was set in Montauk, New York; another set during the ocean voyage of a doomed expedition to Antarctica. Another called “Flu With a View of the Puget Sound” was set, well, you can guess where.

Many other poems dealt with eccentricities of the maritime world—like the Fiji merman himself, or a poem in memoriam for “Ming the Clam,” a 507-year-old ocean quahog clam, which died when it was brought up from the ocean floor by scientists wishing to examine it.

Roberts’ poetry was clear and extremely tactile—her opening sentences, as well as her descriptive titles, place the listener immediately and completely, which was useful for hearing the work of a writer who likes to delve into the depths of so many curious subject matters. Her prose-like imagery anthropomorphizes the whimsical subjects of her attention: the merman, with his grimacing monkey-head attached to his ribbed fish-body, looked “amazed that he’s lasted this long.” One poem about the yearly reproduction cycle of oysters, all of which become female as they age, described the eggs as “sway[ing] like belly dancers,” in the water that looked “like milk.”

Roberts ended the night, by random pulling from a hat, with a poem from her very first book, The Wishbone Galaxy (1994). The poem was called “Mother,” and focused in on the nature of horseshoe crabs and motherhood. Roberts’ reading, with its descriptive renderings of out-of-the-ordinary subjects, and her way of transporting you to the locations so present in her work, was a welcome escape for many that were present.

The next and final VOICES reading of the semester, which will be co-sponsored by the ENST Department, the Arts Alliance, and the Lecture and Fine Arts Committee, will bring poet and essayist Elizabeth Bradfield to St. Mary’s, and will take place on December 1 at 8:15 in DPC.

Gap Film Series: Inequality for All

On November 10th, the Center for the Study of Democracy hosted a viewing of Inequality for All. This documentary was yet another installment of the film series hosted in Cole Cinema.

Inequality for All is hosted by American Economist and Nobel laureate, Robert Reich. The film was debuted in 2013 at the Sundance Film Festival. In the documentary, Reich tells the complex story of income inequality between socioeconomic classes. Reich shows that the effects of inequality of income have major effects on the US economy and democracy in hidden ways.

Today, Reich is a Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. In the past, Reich has contributed to many outlets of journalism to include The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, and The New York Times. From 1993 to 1997, Reich was the Secretary of Labor for President Bill Clinton. In 2008, Time magazine named him one of the Ten Best Cabinet Members of the century.

According to the documentary, over the last thirty years the US economy has doubled in size. But, these gains went to a very few: the top one percent of earners now take in more than twenty percent of all income. This is three times what they received in 1970. The top one percent are seen by the public as CEOs of large companies that make jobs for people. People who are seen as “job creators” are just wealthy people that want to make money for themselves. They are rich not because they spent their time making jobs, but for spending their time making money. Income inequality is even more extreme at the very top. According to Reich, the top 400 richest Americans are wealthier than that of the bottom 150 million.

The film was organized well and centered around a lecture that Reich was giving at the University of California, Berkeley. As Reich explains a new point of information in the lecture, the film cuts to an example of people in the real world. The statistics were shown through a number of models and graphs that made the information easy to recognize.

This documentary points out to the public that there is an injustice in the world that is hidden to the public eye. Seen as just numbers and figures, the facts about income inequality are hard to recognize but they are real.

Halloween: A Costume Critique

Editor’s note: This article is from the last print edition and was meant to be posted online at a more relevant time. But it’s almost Thanksgiving now, and in shopping malls it’s already Christmas, so in all this temporal confusion please allow us, briefly, to return to Halloween.

It’s Halloween season, and that means one thing: an opportunity to show off society’s deepest flaws through the art of stereotypical costume design. We’re here to help you plan your costume with style and glam, to make sure that your mockery of some of the most subjugated peoples of the United States goes off without a hitch!

One of this year’s favorite go-to looks is the Mexican. Any outfit going for replication of this xenophobic image would NOT be complete without a wide sombrero and a big black mustache, inspired by real-life revolutionary Emiliano Zapata! For the sake of authenticity, immediately after donning your mustache, poncho, and belt of tequila shooters, meet up with your biggest adversary under the assumption that they’re there to surrender to the liberators of the Revolution, and then—here’s the important step—get shot and killed by a surprise firing squad! ¡Fiesta, am I right!

With an illustrious Native American costume, it’s important to go for realism. If you’re going to actually be modeling yourself off the Pocahontas of Disney fame, make sure to go in with an extra layer of concealer and foundation, to cover any dark circles or early onset wrinkles—the real life Pocahontas was a spry 12 years old when she was forcibly married to an Englishman, so do your best to look bright eyed and bushy-tailed! If you’re going for a run-of-the-mill Cowboys and Indians style stereotype, or you’re hoping to connect to your “spiritual” or “exotic” side, then it’s vital that you go the whole nine yards. After you party down on Halloween, pack your bags for a one-way trip to the North Dakota Standing Rock Reservation, to participate in the protests of your new-found family. Getting pelted with rubber bullets and chased by dogs is sure to get you about as spiritually connected as you can possibly be.

Our final crowd-favorite is the Geisha. Or, if you’re like the majority of Americans, you probably confused a couple different East Asian countries into a jumble of cultural hallmarks—catch you in that decked out red-and-gold dragon-embellished qipao that you got from Party City, telling everyone of how graceful you find Japanese women! You’ll be the talk of the town.

Halloween is a time to make an impression—and you want to get across that out of all the thousands of clever, pop-culture-referencing, classic, frightening, funny, or otherwise benign costumes out there, you picked the one that imitates real life races and ethnicities. Make sure you do so with style!

Club Spotlight: The Alternative Percussion Collective

The Office of Studential Activities in association with the Musicality Department would like to alert the campus to the newest student-led club approved by the Student Association of Government during last Tuesday’s meeting by a vote of 1 (with 99 abstaining).  The Alternative Percussion Collective invites any boys and girls interested in the craft of contemporary noise-making to attend their interest meeting this weekend.  The president of the club, a 5th year senior, whose real name no one knows so they just call him “Mallet,” comments that, “Life is as short and as impermanent as a sound wave.  In life we strive to be memorable, likewise it is best to make lots of waves and make sure that they’re really loud.” 

Mallet also informed The Point News that “we hope the collective will be a great way for our fellow students to relax, learn, and make new friends – and lose many others.”  The club’s meeting place varies between the many study rooms in the residence halls.  The meeting time is nominally “24 hours a day,” but the members prefer to practice at night.  The club’s Vice President, having adopted the title of Sister Drumstick, clarifies: “In the first few days we’ve found that having many people making music in the same place at the same time can mess up everyone’s rhythm.  So we’ve adopted a sort of ‘divide and conquer’ approach, so that more people can hear us practicing, getting jealous and wanting to join us.” 

The mission statement of the club is to leave no place or time in a residence hall without noise.  Studies show that students doing work with loud ambient noises are 100% more likely to be successful in their tasks, assuming the tasks are all defined as staying awake.  What makes the club unique – the “alternative” part of the club’s name – comes from the fact that they don’t actually use any instruments.  According to the club treasurer, Brother Fist, “The SAG didn’t give us enough funds to purchase actual drum sets,” but this did not stop these passionate individuals, for, “we had to make do with what we had: our own bodies.”  He goes on, “we’ve found that stomping on the ground, slamming the study room furniture around, and just sort of hurling our bodies against the wall all have the same effect as music.” 

The Club’s webpage credits the inspiration for its formation to John Cage, famous composer of the piano piece “4’33.”  He recognized that everyday sounds such as city traffic – and in the club’s case, excessively obnoxious thrashing about – had a certain musical quality to it.  The hypocrisy of a noise-loving club comparing themselves to the self-dubbed “silent composer” is most likely just intended to make people even more angry at them.  The club’s first public performance will be titled “Earthquake” and feature the Amateur Opera Singers Club, the other controversial club from last year that people have complained about.  It will be performed in each common room every night of finals week. 

Please Pass the Whipped Cream: A Thanksgiving Battle Plan

For many people, Thanksgiving evokes thoughts of turkeys, pumpkin pie, college football, and the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special. While it is seen as a food, family, friends and football-filled Thursday across America, college students recognize the day as a special kind of torture: that of seeing extended family and knowing they’ll be prepared to interrogate you on the real burning issues of the year.

If you’re going to be spending the weekend with family members you haven’t seen in a while, I find it best to come with prepared responses to the questions they are most likely going to ask. If you keep reading, you will find that I have done some of the hard work for you by compiling the three most common (with my family around a dining room table, at least), painful conversations relatives may want to have with you.

First of all, my relatives tend not to beat around the bush very much. They’re blunt, direct, and oftentimes bring up conversation topics that aren’t exactly going to make the holiday be remembered with fondness. So I guess I should never have been shocked when my (I think well-meaning) grandmother asked me when I had last weighed myself. Wow. I am fairly certain that on Thanksgiving, the day the average American consumes 2,000+ calories in one meal, nobody wants to be thinking about their weight. I chose the “smile until it hurts” tactic in this instance, while asking for someone to please pass the mashed potatoes and gravy.

Other popular conversation topics of Thanksgivings past include discussions concerning my college major or eventual career path. “What are you doing with that degree?” and “Do you really think you should be wasting money studying in that field?” are bothersome, meddlesome, and often ignorant questions. Personally, my plan of attack for them is to begin talking about some of the coursework I’ve been doing in the subject, hope my overbearing relative gets confused by it and moves on. The bigger the words you’re using are, the better. Although, you don’t want to overdo it, or you might wind up having to face my personal favorite follow-up question, “Wow. That sounds like it’s a demanding subject. Do you think your husband will be okay with you being so involved in a career? You won’t be at home to take care of your dishes, laundry, and children you know.” I don’t yet have a polite and family-friendly response to this yet, so if anyone else does, please let me know.

Finally, that brings us to the uncomfortable Thanksgiving topic I would be remiss without mentioning: politics. My tactic in years past is to walk away from the ‘adult’ conversation about political parties and elections in order to go find anyone who isn’t yet four feet tall and has no political affiliations. They tend to be a bit more fun to hang out with generally, because they usually bring toys. This year, though, I don’t feel that that tactic will work too effectively, so my current game plan is to have a mental list of less emotionally-charged conversations to propose. Yes, the election needs to be talked about, but is the one day dedicated to remembering all the things we are thankful for really the best time for that? Personally, I don’t think so. Talking about something my relatives are a bit less passionate about instead ensures that family will still be on friendly terms when Christmas comes around next month.

Well, since you’ve now read this, you’re now all ready to go out and enjoy Thanksgiving meals with family, no matter what tricky conversations may come up. But remember, if my usual tactics ever do fail you, that’s the best time to ask for someone to pass the whipped cream, and take a large bite of pumpkin pie.

The Future of “SMCM Tiny House”

What do the departments of art education and environmental studies have in common? The answer is obviously Tiny Houses.

Tiny House logo, photo courtesy of smcm.edu.
Tiny House logo, photo courtesy of smcm.edu.

For the fourth time, the two SMCM entities are coming together for “The Tiny House Project.” The course is cross listed as ART369 and ENST390, taught in conjunction by one art and one environmental studies professor, Carrie Patterson and Barry Munchnick respectively.

These two professors work together to create a learning experience unlike any other. “I think that working with both Barry and Carrie was amazing because they both provided  valuable information from both an Environmental Studies and Art viewpoint,” explained SMCM senior Samantha Goodrich, who took the course last semester. She continued, “I really enjoyed this class because it looked into a modern perspective of sustainable living. ‘Tiny House’ was truly an amazing class…[it was] an incredible opportunity to work with like-minded individuals who care and want to learn what they can do to help the environment.”

On its surface, the course is about art education with a focus on the environment, but “Tiny House” has many more layers than that. There are elements of community building, and teamwork as well. Its official listing promises students will “explore the foundations of and current practices in art education.” They achieve this end through typical lectures and readings, but on top of that, they also work with members of the local community to build a sustainable house, giving participants a hands-on demonstration of art education.

More so than the completed product, Professor Patterson is looking forward to the process of creating the tiny house. She explains, “The most exciting aspect of this class is to hear how excited SMCM students are to help their community, gain skills like using a nail gun or chop saw, and how the content of the course has helped shaped their ideas for their own futures.” Senior Mike Becraft, who took the class last semester, agreed with Patterson, saying “[Tiny House] was my favorite class. I really enjoyed the hands on experience, especially since I was one of the more seasoned builders. It was an opportunity to lead and teach my peers.”

The course initially began on a modest budget. Funding was allocated from the Mellon Foundation Grant for Civic Engagement, as well as President Jordan’s office. This year should unlock new possibilities according to Professor Patterson. “[We] received numerous and generous donations from individuals and businesses who want to contribute to the project—so our final house will be full of beautiful salvaged wood, repurposed windows, and unique specific architectural details.”

The conception of the course came after a realization by Professors Muchnick and Patterson that there were immense “similarities between disciplines.” Patterson elaborates on the origins of “Tiny House”: “like magic with a ton of hard work, a timely course was created that combined community, design, art education and sustainability. We knew that we could build the structure at the Tech center and partner with high school students in the foundations program… We knew that our students could reteach what they were learning to elementary school students in the Lexington Park After School Program.”

“Tiny House” in its third iteration has become a very important and popular course to the St. Mary’s community. That fact is made especially evident by Patterson. Citing the current political climate, she spoke about the crossroads Art Education faces: “All of the after school programs that we work with that serve over 120 children in St. Mary’s county who qualify to receive reduced or free meals through the school could very well be eliminated by the next federal administration. Our time with them is precious and we do not take it for granted.”

The opportunity to help people and take steps to save the environment make it a highly desired course for motivated students. Becraft continues, “I really enjoyed learning how I could transfer a sustainable movement to a community. The class sparked my interest in tiny homes, which is now the focus of my [St. Mary’s Project].”

Patterson says that ART369 and ENST390 will be taught again, just “not in this particular way.” The class always satisfies the “E-Law” core requirement. As of Nov. 16, there are no openings in the course. However, interested students should be observant in case a spot opens up. Just be aware if you get in, Patterson warns: “this class requires 25 hours of community service learning so we want students who are fully invested in the task at hand.”