April 13, 2009 The Digest

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April 13, 2009

The Digest

What’s Happening at KVCC

What’s below in this edition

 

 ‘Jump to Japan’ (Pages 1-3) Maple syrup? Pups? (Page 14)

KAFI action (3-5) Music in Lake (Page 14)

 ‘Go Green’ fair (Pages 5/6) Baseball legacy (Page 15)

 “Go Green’ winners (Page 6) ‘Piano Blues’ (Pages 15/16)

 ‘Eyes’ to shut (Pages 6-8) Hospitality II’s 10 (Page 16)

Roadside trash (Page 8) Mission, Habitat (Pages 16/17)

A violent strike (Page 8) ‘Eldorado’ (Page 17)

Seeking KAFI ‘vols’ (Pages 8/9)   Rick Bragg (Pages 17-19)

 ‘Blaster’ here (Pages 9/10) All kinds of exercises (Page 19)

Wind talks (Pages 10/11) Corrections IV (Pages 19/20)

2 African lands (Page 11) Internships galore (Pages 20/21)

Layoff survival (Pages 11/12) Who Hit John (Pages 21/22)

Help teach art (Page 12) Science Direct links (Page 22)

AITP 10 (Pages 12/13) Easing stress (Page 22)

Student art show (Page 13)  Spread the word (Pages 22/23)

Wellness screens (Pages 13/14) And Finally (Page 23)


4 art forms shed light on Japanese culture

Two happenings in May will turn Kalamazoo into “The Animation Capital of the Midwest.”

“Jump to Japan: Discovering Culture through Popular Art” – with one of those forms of creativity being animation -- will begin a four-month stay at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum on May 9.

The interactive, hands-on exhibit will be well in place by the time the fifth Kalamazoo Animation Festival International (KAFI) sweeps into the downtown on May 14 for a four-day salute to this evolving art form. (Nutsandbolts information about the KAFI events, screenings, and activities is available at www.goKAFI.com or by calling the KAFI office at (269) 373-7883.)

Jointly developed by the Minnesota Children’s Museum and The Children’s Museum in Seattle, “Jump to Japan” showcases that nation’s amazing culture through activities based on animation, manga (comics), woodblock prints and traditional scrolls.

The public is invited to a sneak preview on May 8 from 6 to 9 p.m. for the third annual “Night at the Museum” gathering. Part of the attraction will be creating animation and comics.

The exhibit, which will be in Kalamazoo through Sept. 7, is the result of a collaboration with the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka and the movie studio that produced the animated film, “My Neighbor Totoro.” The animator, Hayao Miyazaki, won the 2003 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film.

Japanese animation and manga have become very popular among American youth as illustrated by the broad acceptance of the phenomenon known as Pokemon.

But the three-part exhibit is designed to entertain people of all ages. In addition to creating their own manga drawings and animation at a pair of art stations, visitors can take off their shoes and step into a traditional tatami room for a tea party, try on a kimono and other traditional Japanese clothing, and play the ancient card game known as katura.

They’ll learn the fundamentals of woodblock printing and how the Japanese tell stories through scrolls. They’ll shop at a Japanese store and learn to use that nation’s coin of the realm.

The four art forms are linked in a variety of ways. In “Jump to Japan,” the dominant link between animation, manga and woodblock prints is that they all are -- or were -- popular art forms. And from them, visitors can experience the complexity of Japanese culture (traditional and contemporary, rural and urban, and realistic and fantasy).

Through scenes and characters from “My Neighbor Totoro,” visitors will explore how animated films are brainstormed, designed and created, and try their hand at the magic of making one-dimensional images come to life.

“My Neighbor Totoro” is full of fantasy, joy and adventure. Set in 1950s Japan, the family film tells of two girls and their friendship with the magical Totoro, who can be seen only by children who love him.

Adults and children can match background paintings from the animated film to photos in two “picture scroll” windows. By juxtaposing artistic renderings with corresponding photos, they discover how an animator’s inspiration comes from real places, things and events.

“Jump to Japan” offers the chance to choose from a variety of backgrounds, foreground elements, cultural icons and characters to create animation.

One section explores the prevalence and influence of manga in Japanese culture. Shelves hold a variety of manga books and magazines for browsing.

Everyone in Japan reads manga; the average person can read 16 pages of per minute. An oversized “book” shows how manga is read differently than comics in the United States. Puzzles demonstrate how manga is read -- right to left and top to bottom.

Visitors can sit at a light table and create manga by choosing elements from transparencies featuring faces, eyes, hair and bodies drawn manga-style.

Inside the manga shop, visitors role-play customer and shopkeeper at a sales counter using authentic Japanese objects. At the cashier’s counter, visitors use Japanese money, hear and say basic Japanese words and numbers and incorporate Japanese words into dramatic play. They can push the buttons on a sound box and hear a voice say the number in Japanese.

Another feature is to take a trip to Japan without leaving Kalamazoo. Visitors can move a shinkansen (bullet train) along a track embedded in a map of Japan and into slots corresponding to locations. Backlit photos depict the place or activity and location name.

Japan’s people, places and things are depicted in nine woodblock prints that relate to Japanese clothing, festivals, foods, children’s games and stories. Visitors can enter a Japanese home modeled after details shown in the woodblock prints and learn how these art forms are made.

An ancient picture scroll is complemented by a panel containing “seek-and-find” questions that call attention to details in the scroll. Visitors see similarities between ancient scrolls, woodblock prints and the contemporary art forms of manga and animation.

Fifth animation festival taking shape

Two Emmy winners, a PBS executive involved in children’s programming, a producer for Disney and Hanna Barbera studios, and an Academy Award nominee will be among the nearly 50 presenters at the fifth Kalamazoo Animation Festival International (KAFI) set for May 14-17 in downtown Kalamazoo.

Some 90 events will include five screenings of the finalists from the 555 films submitted by animators in 41 nations vying for $15,000 in prize money, and the festival’s awards ceremony. These screenings will be targeted for adult audiences.

Pegged for Saturday will be free activities targeted for families and children, including a pair of showings of some classic vintage cartoons, such as Tom and Jerry, Rocky and His Friends, The Bullwinkle Show, and Mutt and Jeff, that have been popular for decades.

The special attractions this year will include a presentation on “forensic animation” and how this creative medium is used in the courtroom in cases ranging from accident reconstruction to medical malpractice.

Similarly, Dale Myers, an Emmy winner for his computer-animated recreation of the assassination of President John Kennedy, will speak about his role in the special report aired by ABC-TV’s Peter Jennings to mark the 40th anniversary of that fateful day in Dallas.

Another 2009 highlight will be a salute to career and legacy of Winsor McCay, a Michigan native who pre-dated even Walt Disney in his pursuit of animation perfection.

The cost of a full-festival pass is $145 and $75 for students. This entitles holders to take part in all events, including a picnic gathering at Bell’s Brewery on Saturday night. Tickets for individual events range from free to $15, with discounts available for students.

Ten teams from animation programs at universities and colleges spanning North America have gained berths in the festival’s benchmark event, the “Cartoon Challenge.”

Competing for scholarship dollars in the four-day contest prior to the opening of the festival will be students from San Jose State University in California, the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, South Dakota State University, Bowling Green State University in Ohio, California State University of Long Beach, Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, Ferris State University in Grand Rapids, the University of St. Francis in Fort Wayne, Ind., and Humber College in Toronto, Ontario.

In addition to programs tailored for those who view animation as a profession and an art form, the 2009 KAFI will offer free events for people who equate cartoons with fun and entertainment. A new addition to the fifth KAFI will be hands-on activities designed for children and family-oriented attractions.

Another new twist will be festival events that link the worlds of music and animation as majors in those artistic fields at Western Michigan University and KVCC combine their creative talents to produce animation based on original compositions. These teams will compete for $5,000 in prize money.

Their productions – under the umbrella of what is called the Kalamazoo Animation and Music Competition, will be part of the festival agenda.

In addition to Myers, the roster of presenters includes:

  • Emmy winner Jennifer Oxley, creative director for the Little Airplane Productions whose “Wonder Pets” series on Nick Jr. features an episode titled “Kalamazoo.”

  • Oscar nominee Gary Schwartz, who has designed and produced animated features for Disney, Sesame Street, MTV and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

  • Linda Simensky, senior director of children’s programming for PBS

  • Ellen Besen, the festival’s creative director and head of an animation institute in Canada.

  • Bill Dennis, regarded as one of the leading figures in animation in Asia and in his earlier career worked for Disney and Hanna Barbera studios.

  • Ed Hooks, who links animation with acting skills.

  • Heather Kenyon, a former senior director of the Cartoon Network.

Scores of presentations and workshops will cover such topics as: how a good story must precede animating it; animation software that produces 3-D effects, careers outside of animation studios, the connection between animation and music, animation in the courtroom, Winsor McCay and his contemporaries, teaching creativity, and computer animation in crime-scene reconstruction.

For the 2009 competition, the European entries came from Great Britain, Germany, Austria, Finland, Bulgaria, The Czech Republic, France, Estonia, Georgia, Switzerland, Greece, Poland, Hungary, Portugal, The Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, Romania, Spain, Serbia and Russia.

In addition to the 287 entries from 32 of the 50 United States, animators from Argentina, Mexico, Canada, Chile, and Brazil entered the four categories of competition. Africa is represented by South Africa and Nigeria.

Other countries in the “United Nations of Animation” include Australia, Taiwan, China, South Korea, Turkey, Singapore, The Philippines, New Zealand, Japan, Israel, Iran and India.

Now held every other year and sponsored by Kalamazoo Valley Community College, the four-day festival salutes the art form of animation and its entertainment, education and entrepreneurial functions.

During the Thursday-through-Sunday period, attendees can experience a film festival, professional-development seminars, training sessions for students, and distinctive family-oriented events.

Slated for Thursday is a one-day conference for educators to enhance animation skills, prep young people for careers, and use this creative medium as a tool for teaching and for business ventures. The theme is “Animation, Video Games and Education: What Works and What Doesn’t.” The $185 fee entitles the educators to take part in the entire festival.

The 10 “Cartoon Challenge” teams will arrive at KVCC’s Center for New Media in downtown Kalamazoo on the Sunday preceding festival week and bivouac there. Their objective will be to conceive, script, design and produce a 15-to-30-second animated feature on a public-service topic over the four days. The teams don’t know the topic until the competition begins.

All of the activities and events will be held in KVCC’s Center for New Media, Anna Whitten Hall, and the Kalamazoo Valley Museum, with the major screenings booked for the historic State Theater.

Kalamazoo’s Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, which has joined with the college as the prime sponsor of the four previous festivals, is again the key financial supporter of the event.

Nutsandbolts information about all KAFI activities, presentations, workshops, panel discussions -- date, time, location and cost – are available at this webpage -- www.goKAFI.com -- or by calling Maggie Noteboom at the festival office at (269) 373-7883.

Event to showcase how to ‘Go Green’ every day

A “Green Revolution” will break out on the Texas Township Campus, and the college’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter wants staff, faculty and students to help it succeed.

Slated for Saturday, May 9, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., this “revolution” is targeted for families to educate children about recycling, about expanding the planet’s sources of energy, and about not only conserving resources but replenishing them. It is free and open to the public.

“We would like KVCC employees to be involved,” said Natalie Patchell, the PTK chapter adviser. “We would love for folks to volunteer to help us the day of the event by working in the various areas of activities.

“We are also looking for organization who might like to have a booth,” she said. “This could also be a great recruiting tool for our college programs.”

The deadline to become involved is Monday, April 20. She can be contacted at extension 4362 or in her office in Room 7365

“By collaborating with community and national organizations for the promotion of green alternatives,” Patchell said, “we hope to enhance community awareness of recycling and renewable resources by hosting this family fair on campus. Our target audience will be elementary-aged children, but we hope to provide valuable information for participants of all ages.”

With a “green lifestyle” theme, the event will include arts and crafts, carnival-style games, musicians, speakers, and booths run by students, organizations, and vendors. Among the speakers so far are: biology instructor Wil Reding, who will talk about recognizing the alternatives that are available for sustainable-energy options; Kathy Johnson, the director of the KVCC Wind Energy Center based in the M-TEC; and Dan Alway, who will cover solar energy.

“Our goal is to promote change in the perception of what individuals can do for the environment and ultimately encourage action,” Patchell said.

The “Green Revolution” will be held in the space near the KVCC athletic fields on the Texas Township Campus.

Participating vendors and organizations will be provided with a 6-foot table and two chairs. They will have the option of having stage time for a 15-minute presentation.

Electric vehicles ‘Going Green’ speech winner

Jeremy Searls’ commentary about electric vehicles won the day in the “Going Green” speech contest that focused on the environmental health of Earth.

Organized by the KVCC communications faculty, the “Going Green” competition earn Searls the top prize of $200.

Finishing second and taking home $150 was Jillian Jones, who spoke about “green gardening.” “The benefits of hybrids” by Steve Weins was worth $100, while fourth place and $50 went to Jeremy McAdow for “buying local foods.

The participants each tool a global or grassroots perspective and presented a speech – five to six minutes in length – to introduce the audience to “environmentally sound processes, products and/or practices.”

Visual enhancements using props and software were encouraged. Each presentation was judged for creative and innovative content, effective delivery, and the quality of the visual enhancement.

The other contestants included Juan Estrada, Donald Kidd, David Mann, Angela Spangler, Cody Gall and Paula Rumsey.

‘Eyes on Earth’ exhibit to close April 19

We can hardly see them, but they can see us and – from way up there – they tell us about weather patterns that can predict deadly storms, the potential damage of forest fires, the snail’s pace of glacial movement, and the deterioration of the ozone layer.

As lunar landers and rovers paint electronic portraits of the on-the-surface environment of solar-system planets far away, a squadron of satellites orbit Earth anywhere from 180 to 22,000 miles above sea level constantly scanning what’s going on down here.

NASA’s Earth Observing System (EOS) is the focal point of “Eyes on Earth,” an interactive science exhibition that has begun a three-month mission at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum.

Produced and developed by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, it examines how satellite observations are made and what humanity can learn about the Earth using space technology. Much of the complexity becomes more understandable through the use of such earthly toys as marbles and puzzles.

Designed primarily for families and school groups (upper elementary through adults), visitors learn what a satellite is, discover the different types of orbits, and explore cutting-edge technology similar to that used by EOS scientists.

Through April 19, “Eyes on Earth” will bring these concepts "down to earth" through a combination of fun, accessible interactives in a playful and "spacey" environment that explores three major areas -- satellites, orbits, and satellite technology.

By designing a satellite, visitors learn their composition, their types and functions. They will get up close and personal with an imaging camera, a solar panel, an infra-red heat sensor, a communications transmitter, and a magnetometer. Whatever is designed, its performance can be tested.

Once comfortable with the scope of the exhibit, visitors can sample EOS missions that explore a global issue currently studied by scientists via satellite – holes in the ozone layer, urban sprawl and how that is impacting climate, and weather-system tracking.

All gathered information is sent to stations around the country and analyzed by meteorologists to assist them in forecasting weather and predicting the magnitude and locations of storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other catastrophic weather events.

Using marbles and varying launch trajectories, visitors of all ages can gain an understanding of orbits and how scientists use different ones, from circular to highly elliptical, for satellites to accomplish a variety of objectives such as mapping, surveying, photographing, scanning and monitoring the planet in one day. The science and technology behind telecommunications satellites are also explored.

Satellites gather data for scientists who chart ocean temperatures to build an understanding of how those massive bodies of water affect the weather.

At one station, a visitor can watch as the satellite passes overhead, measuring personal "altitude" as well as the height of everything else in its path. That’s how a satellite measures wave height, wind speeds, tides, ocean heights, water temperatures, and changes in currents.

The relationship of the Earth spinning on its axis and the satellites that circle the globe is told with the help of phosphorescent paint that helps leave a glowing trail that illustrates the orbit. Those combinations – the planet’s rotation and the satellite’s orbit – are key to scientists gaining knowledge about the Earth’s surface.

One of the exhibit’s main lessons analyzes the importance of the planet’s ozone layer and, if it continues to deteriorate, how that will damage Earth’s natural ultra-violet-ray filtration system so essential to life as it is now known. There are also stations that explain the climatic phenomena known as El Niño and La Niña, and offer an up-to-date report on the status and health of the planet that humanity calls home.

Complementing “Eyes on Earth” is a gallery of

stunning photographs and data renderings of the Earth as obtained by EOS satellites. The 16-square-foot images are hung on stylized rocket stands and are accentuated by audio samples of actual NASA satellite-launching missions.

The images include a rendering of a hurricane, the Earth at night, views of the globe from various satellites, and space views of natural landmarks.

In “What Goes Around Near and Far,” exhibit visitors can gain a perspective of what the planet looks like from beyond the upper reaches of the atmosphere. This illustrates how NASA scientists use both close-up and wide-angle images to conduct their studies and reach their goals for building knowledge.

“The Bigger the Better” demonstrates the importance of lens size and aperture when it comes to the detail and clarity of an image from a satellite. Different sizes and openings bring this lesson home.

“The goal of ‘Eyes on Earth’ is to show the holistic exploration of Earth that is being conducted from the vantage point of space,” said Ray Vandiver, vice president of exhibits for the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland, “and how the information gleaned from NASA missions helps us learn more about how natural processes affect us and how we might be affecting them.

“Many of us are fascinated by space exploration,” he said, “but few of us know how much is being learned about our planet through NASA’s efforts.”

This is the second exhibition created by the Oregon museum to be on display in Kalamazoo. Prior to “Eyes on Earth,” “Moneyville,” which explored the concept and history of bartering and coinage, also spent three months here.

Launched in the fall of 2002, “Eyes on Earth” has been booked into museums in Des Moines, Tallahassee, Burlington (Vt.), Pierre (S. D.), Oak Ridge (Tenn.), Ontario, Wilmington (Del), Hampton (Va.), and Morristown (N. J.).

Visitors in these communities were able to gain much insight and knowledge about the orb in the universe that they call home – assuming, naturally, that they are all Earthlings.

KVCC clean-up crew ‘On the Road Again’ April 18

Are you appreciative of those litter-filled plastic bags you see along Michigan’s highways and freeways, and of the folks who give of their time to clean up after some people’s thoughtlessness?

You can turn appreciation into action by joining the KVCC Faculty Association in its participation in the Michigan Department of Transportation’s Adopt-A-Highway program.

Steve Walman, who can be reached at extension 4136, is gathering a cadre of volunteers to clean up a section of state road on Saturday, April 18.

Faculty, staff and students are invited to gather by 9 a.m. at the intersection of M-43 and M-40 west of Kalamazoo in the car-pool lot and share a cup of joe in the Outpouring Coffee Shop.

Walman reports that volunteers only need to bring a pair of gloves. Trash bags and safety vests will be provided.

Kalamazoo strike made national news

The final installment of the Kalamazoo Valley Museum’s “Sunday Series” for the 2008-09 academic year will relive an ugly chapter in the community’s history when a violent strike made national news because of the ramifications of the Cold War.

“Red Terror in Kalamazoo: The 1948 Shakespeare Strike” is the April 26 topic for Tom Dietz, the museum’s curator of research.

The presentation is set for 1:30 p.m. in the Mary Jane Stryker Theater. All “Sunday Series” programs are free and open to the public.

Members of the United Steelworkers struck the Shakespeare Co. at its plant on Kalamazoo Avenue in the city’s eastern downtown. It turned vicious when a “flying squadron” of union sympathizers from Detroit came to show support for the Kalamazoo strikers. Some perceived the disturbance as evidence of communist terrorism.

For more information, contact Dietz at 373-7990 or visit the museum’s website at www.kalamazoomuseum.org.

KAFI seeks volunteers to make May festival special

With some 90 events planned for the fifth Kalamazoo Animation Festival International, the college is looking for a cadre of faculty, staff and students to serve as volunteers and help make the four-day event in downtown Kalamazoo a success.

Slated for May 14-17, the festival has attracted 555 submissions of animation from 42 countries in the competition for $15,000 in prize money. The finalists will be viewable in a series of screenings during the festival, while professional animators from the major production studios and networks will be leading workshops and seminars.

“This is a great opportunity for any person interested in animation, film or any aspect of creative work,” says Anna Barnhart, the festival’s volunteer coordinator. “Volunteers will witness a major industry event taking shape as well as meet many big players in the expanding field of animation.”

Those who volunteer will act as greeters, runners, ticket takers, workshop monitors, gallery guides, and special-event helpers, Barnhart said. They will receive a free ticket to attend a seminar, screening or panel discussion for each four hours that they work.

Students must be at least 16 to become a volunteer. The four-hour time slots on that Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday are 8 a.m. to noon, noon to 4 p.m., 4 to 8 p.m. and 8 p.m. to midnight.

Orientation sessions in Anna Whitten Hall are scheduled for Tuesday, April 28, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and Monday, May 4, at the same time. The deadline to sign up as volunteer is April 20.

For more information and an application form, visit: www.gokafi.com, or contact

Barnhart or Nikki Unterkircher at kafi@kvcc.edu, or by phone at (269) 373-7934.

Former ‘Blaster’ last in Artists Forum series

From musical influences as diffuse as The Beach Boys, Hank Williams and T-Bone Walker, Dave Alvin has forged his own musical sound and it will be on display Friday, April 24, as the Artists Forum series wraps up its 2008-09 season.

The Dave Alvin Duo will perform at 7:30 p.m. in the Dale Lake Auditorium. Tickets are $15 and are on sale at the KVCC Bookstore, the Kalamazoo Valley Museum, and at the Lake ticket booth the night of the performance.

Co-sponsored by KVCC and the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, Artists Forum’s last of a quartet of bookings features the 53-year-old Alvin, who splashed on the entertainment scene at the dawning of the 1980s as a member of the California-based Blasters that included his brother Phil.

The Alvins belong in the “team photo” of the ultimate representatives of what American Roots music is all about, while The Blasters can lay credit to being the best-ever “rock 'n’ roll/rockabilly/rhythm ‘n’ blues revival" outfit there has ever been.

Through the first half of the 1980s, the combo, as members came and went, produced about five albums and also appeared in the movie, “Streets of Fire.”

Alvin left in 1986, having already branched out in 1983 with a group called The Knitters and later with X. He went solo in 1987, producing an album with saxophonist Steve Berlin, now with Los Lobos. The Blasters, meanwhile, enjoyed a hiatus of its own as Phil Alvin pursued a master’s in mathematics. He, too, has traveled the solo route.

The Alvins were raised in a working-class suburb of Los Angeles. Their father earned his paychecks at a factory and was also an organizer of a steelworkers’ union. Their home community of Downey was a center of the surf-music explosion of the early 1960s.

But there were other musical influences in the region, which was a hot bed for post-war, West Coast rhythm and blues, while the sounds of rockabilly and country also had their followers. The Alvins tended to blend a little of each into their repertoire.

The Alvins shopped at pawnshops and thrift stores to buy old blues 45s and 78s during the 1960s, listening to the styles that had preceded their pending arrival on the musical scene. They frequented bars and lounges to hear live performances as part of their musical indoctrination.

As early as 1970, older brother Phil had formed a blues combo. By 1979, it was time for The Blasters. The group took its name from West Coast blues guitarist Jimmy “Cracklin' Blues” Blasters and rose to the top of the Los Angeles scene with its powerful brand of rockabilly music. Adding a pianist and two saxophone players, The Blasters toured with Queen.

By 1986, Alvin and The Blasters parted company and he embarked on a career as a solo performer. While he did keep his feet in his musical origins, producing a tribute to Bill Haley, for example, his repertoire began to evolve.

In 1994, Dave released an acoustic project called "King Of California" where he played a mix of Blasters covers, old country, and blues mainly on acoustic guitar. Another country-blues-based album in 1998, "Blackjack David,” earned a Grammy Award as best folk album of the year. "Public Domain", a collection of old folk song from the turn of the century, brought a second Grammy in 2000.

Alvin, who is also a published poet, recorded his latest album in Austin, Texas, with an all-female band. Scheduled to be released in May, it is titled “Dave Alvin and the Guilty Women.”

For more information about this concert and others in the Artists Forum series, contact Dave Posther at extension 4476 or dposther@kvcc.edu.

‘Lunch and Learn’ about the power of the wind

The fundamentals of wind power, along with the college’s current and future activities in the field of wind energy, will be in the spotlight at a pair of “Lunch and Learn” sessions for staff and students on the Texas Township Campus.

Kathy Johnson, the director of the KVCC Wind Energy Center based in the M-TEC, will lead the dialogue on Tuesday (April 14) at 11:30 a.m. and Wednesday (April 15) at 12:30 p.m. in the Student Commons Lyceum.

KVCC’s experience in planning, installing and commissioning a wind turbine will fill a half-day seminar on Tuesday, April 21, at the M-TEC with Johnson also presenting the case study.

“So You Want to Install a Wind Turbine?” will run from 9 to noon on the KVCC Groves Campus. Twenty-four have enrolled as of the first of the month.

The three-hour presentation is targeted for businesses, educational entities, and community organizations that are considering the installation of a commercial-sized wind turbine, similar to the 145-foot, 50-kilowatt unit now in operation at the west end of the college’s nearly Texas Township Campus.

At the half-day seminar, prospective turbine investors will be advised to consider a variety of topics regarding the process and procedures for converting wind into electrical energy, and Johnson will cover them all:

● Wind resources in Michigan

● The best site for a wind turbine

● Potential neighborhood issues

● How to use the electricity that is produced by a wind turbine

● Zoning requirements

● Site preparation and the installation process

● Components for a successful wind-energy project

Time willing, seminar participants will be able to inspect the college’s wind turbine that was erected in late January.

For more information, to download a flier, or to register online, visit the M-TEC’s website at www.mteckvcc.com. Click on “Training” and then “Current Offerings.”

South Africa, Rwanda this week’s ‘travelogue’ stops

South Africa and Rwanda are the next stops on the winter-semester itinerary of presentations organized by KVCC’s program in international studies.

South Africa will be in the spotlight on Wednesday (April 15) at 3:30 p.m. in Room 7550 on the Texas Township Campus while the update on Rwanda is the topic on Thursday (April 16) at 11 a.m. in Room 4380.

Presenting their viewpoints on South Africa will be KVCC librarian Jackie Howlett and former colleague Kathleen Garland-Rike. Both served as volunteers for an environmental organization in that nation. They will discuss the fate of wildlife and national parks in South Africa, and the role that citizens of that country and the world need to play in preserving habitats to sustain the animal populations.

Perspectives of Rwanda will be offered by refugees Amiel Gahima and Manasse Mugemana. They will talk about the country’s geography, landscape, the people, and the genocide that grabbed headlines around the world.

Gahima, who lives in Kalamazoo, is active in Life Lifting Hands Inc. that raises funds for Rwandans whose lives were turned upside down by the mass murders. Mugemana has similar duties in Grand Rapids.

A how-to seminar on surviving job layoffs

The Student Success Center’s line-up of events and activities through the end of the winter semester includes seminars on steps for surviving a job layoff.

Slated for Wednesday (April 15) will be Chris Palmer’s presentation on “Surviving a Job Layoff.” The representative of GreenPath Debt Solutions will speak at 2:30 p.m. in Room 4370 on the Texas Township Campus.

While it is normal to undergo a bit of turmoil because of an emotional situation, Palmer will lay out the steps that can be traveled for a quick and manageable recovery.

A workshop to detail how to apply to a four-year college and how to transfer is slated for Monday, April 20, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the Student Commons Forum.

The presenters are Jodi Ward of the Western Michigan University Admissions Office and The Focus Program’s Robyn Robinson. There will be a drawing for T-shirts and gift cards for participants.

A pair of resume workshops are slated for April 22-23, each from noon to 1 p.m. in the Student Commons Theater. Students can have their resumes critiqued or can receive some pointers if they are starting from scratch.

Also slated for April 22-23 are a couple of “Overcoming Test and Math Anxiety” sessions in Room 4370 by the cafeteria on the Texas Township Campus. Each will run from 1 to 2 p.m. and be presented by The Focus Program.

On Tuesday, April 21, “What It Takes to be Successful” is the topic from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Student Commons Forum. Discussion will focus on classroom expectations, managing time effectively, successful test-taking techniques, the steps to take to transfer to a four-year college, and job-searching tips.

For more information about these and upcoming workshops for students during the winter semester, contact Pamela Siegfried, the center’s life-resources coordinator, at extension 4825.

Instructors sought for ‘Jump to Japan’ art gig

To help preview the opening of the next nationally touring exhibition about Japan, its culture and art forms, the Kalamazoo Valley Museum is looking for people willing to lead some instructions in drawing.

As part of the third annual “Night at the Museum” on Friday, May 8, that will kick off the opening of “Jump to Japan: Discovering Culture Through Popular Art,” a cadre of art instructors – or people who feel comfortable teaching folks to draw – will lead informal classes in animation and “manga” (the Japanese version of comic-book art).

The free drawing classes and a tour of the exhibit will run from 6 to 9 p.m.

Prior to the evening, the volunteer instructors will be schooled in how to guide children, families and individuals in teaching these two forms of artistic creative expression.

The contact person is Jennifer Austin, special-events coordinator at the museum, at 373-7970 or jaustin@kvcc.edu. Each prospective volunteer must submit a portfolio.

“Jump to Japan” will begin a four-month stay at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum on May 9.

Jointly developed by the Minnesota Children’s Museum and The Children’s Museum in Seattle, “Jump to Japan” showcases that nation’s amazing culture through activities based on animation, manga, woodblock prints and traditional scrolls.

10 students attend AITP conference, bring home awards

KVCC students brought home their share of honors at the national collegiate conference of the Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP) held in Oklahoma City.

Guided by instructors Dawn Pantaleo and Rick Kraas, the 10 KVCC students who attended are Andrea Herron, David Barnes, Greg Ciolek, Jason Kovacs, Jeremy Smith, Joy Scott, Justin Johnson, Mason Monroe, Robin Simpson, and Val Cesario.

Kraas’ web-project team that included Barnes, Ciolek, Herron, Kovacs, Simpson and Smith placed fourth in the national competition, with the KVCC entry being the only two-year school to make the finals.

Herron and Simpson earned an honorable mention in the visual-graphics competition, while the banner designed and created by Herron, garnered third place.

Ciolek passed the two ACM (Associate Computing Professional) certification tests.

Conferees were able to attend sessions on Windows 7, Microsoft’s Exchange, biometrics, security, Web 2.0, and employment opportunities.

The KVCC AITP chapter stages a raffle to raise funds for sending students to the national conference. Winning the PC this year was Janet Alm, while Lindsey Kiser had the winning ducat for the GPS.

The digital photo frame went to Diana Haggerty. Winning “printers” were Helen Palleschi, Cynthia Schauer, Patricia Niewoonder , Ray Hendriksma, Tom Scott, and John Holmes. After expenses, the raffle raised $2,800. KVCC Student Activities also supported the trip.

Student art show in place in Commons Forum

KVCC students are showcasing their best efforts in calligraphy, drawing, oil and acrylic paintings, watercolors, mixed media, ceramics, sculpture, in black-and-white, color and alternative-process photography, and digital graphics at the college’s annual art show on the Texas Township Campus in April.

The 2009 Student Art Show is open for public viewing in the Student Commons Forum through Thursday (April 16).

To be eligible to submit art work, students must have been enrolled from August 2007 through this April. Of the 113 entries, 63 were accepted for showing by juror John Kollig, an art instructor and adviser at Western Michigan University

They vied for prizes for best-of-show, and for first-place, second-place and honorable-mention selections in each category. Best-of-show honors went to Jacqueline Tofoya for an acrylic painting.

Faculty also chose recipients of merit awards for students who have demonstrated growth in ceramics, photography and two-dimensional art.

Time running out for employee-wellness assessments

Sue Avery, a registered nurse who is the new wellness coach and coordinator for Holtyn and Associates, is conducting free wellness screenings and counseling through April 21 for full-time KVCC employees and their spouses who are both new to the college’s program or continuing participants.

Here are some the remaining openings for appointments:

  • Tuesday (April 14) -- 12:30 1 and 1:30 p.m.

  • Thursday (April 16) -- 1, 2 and 2:30 p.m.

  • Tuesday, April 21 -- 2 p.m.

If you would like to schedule one of these times for you or your spouse e-mail or call Avery at averysue@gmail.com or (269) 267-3712.

Beginning with the 2008-09 initiative, two key changes have gone into effect:

● KVCC’ers and spouses can book their own appointments through their own computer instead of making a telephone call. This can be done by going to the Holtyn website: www.holtynhpc.com. and following the directions.

● Appointments now span 30 minutes instead of 20, meaning the available time slots are on the hour and half hour.

While payoffs in the past have focused on one’s personal and individual health, it is now starting to pay off in the pay checks of employees.

The one-on-one appointments include a glucose analysis, an HDL and cholesterol evaluation, a blood-pressure check, a body-composition reading, an assessment of cardio-respiratory fitness, an overall health survey, an individual fitness assessment, and a personal consultation.

The 30-minute screenings can be done on work time. For more information, contact Blake Glass, manager of the college’s Employee Wellness Program, at extension 4177 or bglass@kvcc.edu.

All full-time staff, faculty and administrators – and their spouses -- are encouraged to sign up for this college-sponsored program, even if previous screenings had not identified any health risks.

Participants should wear comfortable, loosely fitting clothing. Short-sleeve tops are recommended. Fasting is not required, but it is advised not to consume caffeinated beverages two hours prior to the assessment and to refrain from smoking.

The testing is paid for by the college.

“Our employee-wellness program has been successful in helping to control health-care costs for the college and in assisting staff members achieve their personal goals,” Glass said.

Think of ‘Swap Meet’ when doing your spring cleaning

The Office of Human Resources’ web page contains a want-ad system to link KVCC folks with their colleagues in the sharing of talent, knowledge, skills, goods and services.

The “KVCC Swap Meet” provides a forum to barter goods (made or grown) and to post information about services that can be provided -- painting, sewing, computer assistance, etc.

It can also be used to post an announcement about services or goods that are being sought. Check out English instructor Denise Miller’s request that is now posted.

There are four categories on the site: Services Needed, Services for Hire, Goods Needed, and Goods for Sale.

This site is for KVCC employees only and is intended as a way for employees to network with each other for trade or sale purposes.

KVCC will not be responsible for any transactions or the satisfaction of either party, and will not enter into dispute resolution.

“KVCC Swap Meet” is housed on the Human Resources website under Quick Links.

To post a service or item, just click Post Ad, select the appropriate category, complete the online form and click submit.

Co-workers will be able to view the posting by the next business day.

It is requested that the postings be made during non-working hours.

Among the currently posted “swaps” are resealing asphalt driveways, providing music for events, dog training, sewing, home-maintenance and landscaping projects, dog boarding, and carpet cleaning.

A canoe-kayak carrier for a car is for sale, as are a 1991 Mercury Marquis, a 2003 Harley-Davidson, tables made of cherry wood, poodle and German shepherd puppies, audio books, and maple syrup. Renting a lakefront cottage is also listed.

Band, singers in joint concert Friday

If music can sooth the savage beast, it can also take the tension and stress of out the typical end-of-semester pressure on students and faculty.

With that in mind, the KVCC Campus Band, directed by Chris Garrett, and the KVCC Choir, with Michelle Bauman leading the voices, will join forces for a concert on Friday (April 17).

Free and open to the public, the groups’ music will fill Dale Lake Auditorium at 7 p.m. Call extension 4102 for more information.

Kalamazoo’s baseball legacy is PMN feature this month

The offering in April on the Kalamazoo Valley Museum’s TV show traces the community’s connection to America’s pastime and its many links to Major League baseball.

“Baseball in Kalamazoo” with Tom Dietz, the curator of research at the museum, is being aired by the Public Media Network (formerly the Community Access Center) on Channel 22 on the Charter cable system at 7 p.m. on Sundays, 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m. on Fridays, and 11 a.m. on Saturdays. The featured artifact in the segment will be some vintage household appliances to illustrate the impact of rural electrification in Kalamazoo County in the 1930s.

The earliest reference to baseball in Kalamazoo appears in the April 20, 1859, edition of The Kalamazoo Telegraph in an article encouraging local boys and men to organize teams. Some games, using earlier rules, were played in Bronson Park.

In 1862, President Latham Hull led the way for the Kalamazoo Village Council to prohibit games there for fear of damaging the trees.

From that beginning, the Kalamazoo region has had a fascinating baseball history, according to Dietz. From minor league teams in the late 1880s to community and company teams, Kalamazoo shared a passion for the national pastime.

The first College World Series was played at Hyames Field on the campus of Western Michigan College in 1947.

One team featured a left-handed first baseman, George H. W. Bush, but the University of California would defeat the future president and his Yale teammates.

The Kalamazoo Lassies would represent the city in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, winning the championship in 1954, the final year of the league’s existence.

Today minor-league baseball in the form of the Kalamazoo Kings, former champions of the Frontier League, is still a popular summer recreation.

The Kalamazoo area has sent several native sons to the major leagues, including Mike Squires, Leon Roberts, Neil Berry, Charlie “Paw Paw” Maxwell, and, of course, the New York Yankees future Hall of Famer, shortstop Derek Jeter. Many who played their college baseball at Western Michigan University also made it to “the show.”

Dietz has been working with the PMN and its video productions coordinator Katie Reid to film monthly episodes that showcase an episode of Southwest Michigan history and the artifacts that help tell the story of this part of Michigan.

Eastwood film wraps up blues documentaries

The Kalamazoo Valley Museum’s free Sunday showings of documentaries about the blues produced by Martin Scorsese will conclude on April 19.

The double-feature in the Mary Jane Stryker Theater is a 1:30 p.m. showing of Clint Eastwood’s “Piano Blues” followed at 3 p.m. by Marc Levin’s “Godfathers and Sons,” which chronicles Chicago’s contribution to this genre of music.

Pianist Eastwood explores his life-long passion for piano blues, using a treasure trove of rare historical footage in addition to interviews and performances by such legends as Pinetop Perkins, Ray Charles, Jay McShann, Dave Brubeck and Marcia Ball.

"The blues has always been part of my musical life and the piano has a special place,” Eastwood says, “beginning when my mother brought home all of Fats Waller's records. Also, the music has always played a part in my movies. A piano-blues documentary gives me a chance to make a film that is more directly connected to the subject of the music than the features that I have been doing throughout my career."

“Godfathers and Sons” captures the sounds of Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and many others for a new generation using archival footage.

Levin travels to Chicago with hip-hop legend Chuck D (of Public Enemy) and Marshall Chess (son of Leonard Chess and heir to the Chess Records legacy) to explore the heyday of Chicago blues. They unite to produce an album that seeks to bring veteran blues players together with contemporary hip-hop musicians.

Among the performers are Lonnie Brooks, Paul Butterfield, Bo Diddley, Ike Turner, and Koko Taylor.

10 make it through Hospitality Academy II

The second edition of KVCC’s academy to train personnel for the hospitality industry is conducting its graduation ceremony on Monday (April 13), at 5:30 p.m. in Room 128 of Anna Whitten Hall.

The batch of graduates includes Martha Bailey of Lawrence, Jeremiah Wood of Bloomingdale, Martin Powell and Edwin Seals of Portage, and Aaron Davis, Lynnette Lipsey, Sandrell Lucas, Gabrielle MacKellar, Lakeisha Smith, and Johnny Tyler, all of Kalamazoo.

Lesa Strausbaugh, director of career academies, reports that a third hospitality academy has not been scheduled as yet, but it would likely begin in late summer.

Academy sessions have been held Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at KVCC’s downtown-Kalamazoo campus. The fee is $750.

During 157 hours of instruction , students learn the workings of the rooms division and food-and-beverage division in hospitality, which includes front-desk management, reservations, housekeeping, bells services, restaurant service, and banquet organization. A major component will be job shadowing and an in-the-field training practicum.

Those who complete the academy receive a certificate in hospitality from KVCC and a globally recognized certificate from the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

“It’s been proven that certificates and diplomas from the educational institute of the association open doors to graduates looking for careers in the lodging industry,” Strausbaugh said. “We’re excited to offer students this opportunity.”

Infused in the second five-week academy are components provided by the KVCC Student Success Center that enhances job-search skills, resume development and interviewing.

Strausbaugh can be contacted at extension 1253 or lstrausbaugh@kvcc.edu for more information about current and future academies.

Give a hand to the Gospel Mission, Habitat for Humanity

KVCC faculty members, staff and students in a building or food-serving mood can engage in a couple of volunteering during this winter semester

The beneficiaries will be the Kalamazoo Valley Habitat for Humanity and the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission.

On Wednesday (April 15), prospective volunteers can park in the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission lot across from the new bus depot/train station in downtown Kalamazoo and enter through the center doors to the cafeteria no later than 4:45 p.m.

The mission is located at 448 N. Burdick St. Because they will be working in a warm kitchen, dress accordingly.

Participants should gather at the Habitat for Humanity Restore at 1810 Lake St. by 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 18.

Volunteers should be in their construction togs. No experience is required.

Volunteers can sign up on the Service Learning bulletin board for the mission and Habitat efforts. It is located in the corridor near the faculty and deans offices on the Texas Township Campus.

Belgian film this week’s foreign-film attraction

The Kalamazoo Valley Museum’s Thursday-night series of international and independent films continues April 16 with Belgium’s “Eldorado.”

It will be shown at 7:30 p.m. in the Mary Jane Stryker Theater. There is a $3 admission fee. Financial support for the series is provided by the KVCC Foundation.

The 2008 Belgian production was entered in the 61st Cannes Film Festival and was that nation’s nominee as best foreign film in the 81st Academy Awards competition.

In “Eldorado,” a heroin addict and the lonely car dealer whose home he has just tried to burglarize end up taking an eventful road trip together. The film tracks these quirky, troubled characters, and strikes a balance between absurdist humor and sadness.

The salesman is a short-tempered man in his 40s and sells old American cars. His life isn't much of a thrill. However, the night he surprises the fellow breaking into his house, he doesn't beat him up. Quite the opposite, he grows a strange affection for the adolescent and even decides to drive him back to his parents.

This trip leads them through the wide spaces Belgium, filled with improbable characters, and helps the older man close forever a chapter of his life.

Including American-made films that relate to museum exhibits that will be on display at the time, here are the film bookings in the Stryker Theater through spring:

 April 23 – “The Five Heartbeats”

 April 30 – “The Violin” (Mexico)

 May 21 – “Marion Bridge” (Canada).

Journalist Rick Bragg to speak at K-Central Tuesday

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Rick Bragg of the New York Times will cap off the 2009 Reading Together program in Kalamazoo with a free public presentation on Tuesday (April 14).

The author of a trio of memoirs about his southern roots will read from his books, tell stories and answer questions from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Kalamazoo Central High School Auditorium, 2432 N. Drake Road.

KVCC’s Jim Ratliff is a member of the Kalamazoo Public Library’s Reading Together selection committee that chose Bragg’s “Ava’s Man,” “The Prince of Frogtown, and “All Over But the Shoutin’.”

On Thursday (April 16) from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 247 W. Lovell, an old-fashioned potluck supper will conclude the 2009 Reading Together initiative.

With colorful language and emotional honesty, Bragg recounts in “All Over But the Shoutin’” a turbulent and poverty-stricken childhood in rural Alabama that gave rise to a career in journalism that led to the profession’s No. 1 prize for reporting.

It is described as “a sensitive but never self-pitying look at the fruits of his father’s abuse and abandonment of the family, and at his mother, who bore the brunt of the pain.” Bragg’s mother absorbed the cruelties of an alcoholic husband haunted by his service in the Korean War, and gave her life, in endless cotton fields, to make a living for her three sons.

In “Ava’s Man,” Bragg celebrates his maternal grandfather, Charlie Bundrum, a heroic figure whose life was symbolic of a people and way of life nearly gone today from the Southern landscape. It is also a study of the history and culture of the rural South, richly seasoned with all-but-forgotten lore and language.

“The Prince of Frogtown” completes the cycle of Bragg’s stories about his childhood. Bragg was convinced the last thing he wanted was to become a father. Now married and suddenly step-father to a young boy, Bragg looks back to move forward. Through conversations with people who knew his father, Bragg builds a picture of who Charles Bragg really was, searching for shreds of goodness in him. Stories about his father alternate with chapters about the developing relationship with his step-son.

The trio of books was chosen for 2009 because Bragg’s memoirs of home and childhood are related but not linear. They sufficiently connect so that readers could start with the newest book, “The Prince of Frogtown,” and then move on to one of the others.

Bragg says he learned to tell stories by listening to the masters -- the people of the foothills of the Appalachians. They talked of the sadness, poverty, cruelty, kindness, hope, hopelessness, faith, anger and joy of their everyday lives, and painted pictures on the very haze of the early evening when work faded into storytelling.

Bragg was born in Alabama, grew up there, and worked at several newspapers before joining The Times in 1994. He covered the murder and unrest in Haiti while a metro reporter there, then wrote about the Oklahoma City bombing, the Jonesboro killings, the Susan Smith trial and more as a national correspondent based in Atlanta.

He later became Miami bureau chief for The Times just in time for Elian Gonzalez's arrival and the international battle for the little boy. He is now a roving correspondent based in New Orleans.

Bragg received the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 1996 for his stories about contemporary America. He has twice won the prestigious American Society of Newspaper Editors Distinguished Writing Award, and more than 50 writing awards in his 20-year career. In 1992, he was awarded a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University. He has taught writing in colleges and in newspaper newsrooms.

He lives in a shotgun double house not far from the levee and the train tracks in uptown New Orleans where he says he has cultivated several fine weeds in his back yard.

He likes to fish when he can find the time. He has not fished in two years.

“Ava’s Man” recounts the story of Bundrum, a roofer, a carpenter, a whiskey-maker, a fisherman who knew every inch of the Coosa River, made boats out of car hoods, and knew how to pack a wound with brown sugar to stop the blood. He could not read, but he asked his wife to read him the newspaper every day so he would not be ignorant. To Bragg, Bundrum was a man who took giant steps in rundown boots, a true hero whom history would otherwise have overlooked.

In the decade of the Great Depression, Bundrum moved his family 21 times, keeping seven children one step ahead of the poverty and starvation that threatened them from every side. He worked at the steel mill when the steel was rolling, or for a side of bacon or a bushel of peaches when it wasn’t. He paid the doctor who delivered his fourth daughter with a jar of whiskey.

He understood the finer points of the law as it applied to poor people and drinking men; he was a banjo player and a buck dancer who worked off fines when life got a little sideways, and he sang when he was drunk, where other men fought or cussed. He had a talent for living.

His children revered him, Bragg wrote. When he died, cars lined the blacktop for more than a mile to say goodbye to “Ava’s Man.”

Free exercise opportunities abound at KVCC

Through May 1, the college’s program for employee wellness is providing a variety of free “drop-in” fitness activities five days a week to keep all of us in shape.

Participants have the opportunity to do some trimming and muscle toning so that they will look the best they can in their summer apparel.

Here’s the schedule:

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