Greening On

Kalamazoo College Students Complete Green Dot Training
Twenty-four K students completed Green Dot bystander training in late April.

Twenty-four Kalamazoo College students and five K employee Green Dot-certified trainers launched the College’s first bystander training session on April 29. It’s one of several early steps toward the goal of a “greening” that will be year-round, forever.

Green Dot is a national prevention program that has proven effective in significantly reducing the likelihood of dating and domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault. Essential to the program’s effectiveness are bystanders, people trained to safely interrupt or prevent harmful precursor behaviors associated with dating violence, stalking and sexual assault. In the program’s iconography, a red dot is any person’s choice to harm another person with words or actions. In any environment, or map, enough red dots create a norm where violence is tolerated. Green dots are small actions to intervene when a red dot is occurring or to prevent the likelihood of red dots at all. Small as they may be, Green Dot words and actions draw their power from the large numbers of people who commit to speak or do them. Together, enough Green Dots can change “worlds,” small and large. And one of those worlds will be Kalamazoo College.

In late March some 30 faculty, staff and administrators completed four days of Green Dot “College Curriculum” training, which certified them to do bystander training for K students and overview training for K faculty and staff. One month—and a lot of preparation and practice—later the first bystander training took place in the Olmsted Room. It included students identified by their peers as well-respected and influential.

“The 24 students were highly engaged throughout the training,” said Ellen Lassiter Collier, Director of Gender Equity at K. “This was a day-long event in the middle of a busy spring term, yet no one left the session.” In fact, at least three students reported applying Green Dot interventions at parties or other events that very weekend.

“To establish a norm where the intolerance of violence is immediately and plainly evident—and a culture where everyone does their part to maintain that norm—will require a critical mass of K community members,” said Lassiter Collier. “Many times it will be students who are most likely to be present in settings and situations where ‘red dots’ tend to occur. Students trained as bystanders are absolutely indispensable, so we were very gratified by the participation of these 24 early adopters.”

Additional student bystander training is scheduled for the fall, and the “first” 24 will have contributed to the success of those sessions by providing the names of several score of other influential and well-respected students who will be invited to the fall training.

In concert with the effort to train a critical mass of student bystanders, employee Green Dot-certified trainers also will work with faculty and staff this spring and early and continuing into the fall.

The bystander trainers who joined Lassiter Collier on April 29 were Andrew Grayson ’10, Admission; Laura Livingstone-McNelis ’89, Department of Theatre Arts; Leslie Burke, Information Services; and Morgan Mahdavi ’14, Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership.

The 24 students included Julia Plomer ¹18, Maddie Tracey ¹17, Sidney Wall ’17, Cody Colvin ’18, Douglas Robinett ’17, Leah Finelli ’18, Ashley Henne ’17, Sep’Tisha Riley ’18, Kourtney Johnson ’17, Tenley Mustonen ’17, Amber Salome ’18, Colleen Orwin ’17, Elizabeth Clevenger ’17, James Paprocki ’18, Alex Dykema ’19, Kiavanne Williams ’18, Lilia Robins ’18, Colleen Corrigan ’17, Kaiya Herman Hilker ’19, Sophie Higdon ’19, Roger Hood ’18, Rose Maylen ’19, Malak Ghazal ’19 and Lezlie Lull ’20.

Funding for Kalamazoo College’s Green Dot efforts comes from the State of Michigan Campus Sexual Assault Grant Program.

“Jazz for Springtime”

Jazz for Springtime advertisementAh, spring–one day sunny and 70 degrees, the very next, overcast and 40. This most improvisational of seasons is the perfect time for…Jazz! The Kalamazoo College Department of Music invites everyone to enjoy an afternoon of jazz music at its “Jazz for Springtime Concert” on Sunday, April 23, at 4 p.m. in Dalton Theatre. Amina Figarova, jazz pianist, and Bart Platteau, flute, will present original music and will also assist Ron Di Salvio with the premiere of his work “Puglia Suite”, based upon a recent visit to Puglia (Apulia), Italy. Amina and Bart are from the Netherlands and now reside in New York City where they perform with a jazz sextet. Ron is the adjunct jazz piano instructor at Kalamazoo College as well as a fine jazz pianist and composer. Please plan to attend this incredible Sunday event and celebrate the spring season!

K Paths Crossed (and Shared) Down Under

Kalamazoo College Alumni Holly Gillis '09 and Jeff Palmer '76
Holly Gillis ’09 and Jeff Palmer ’76

Kalamazoo College alumni never know where their paths might cross.

In early March, Jeff Palmer ’76 and his wife, Susan Andress, were about midway through a month-long trip to Tasmania and New Zealand when they stopped to hike to the Franz Joseph Glacier on New Zealand’s “South Island.”

“It was a beautiful place on a beautiful day and we were taking our time on the roughly four-mile round trip trail,” said Jeff, who recently retired as associate director of communication in K’s Office of College Communication.

“Surrounded by green-sloped mountains, waterfalls, and a glacier bluer than we imagined it would be,” Jeff said “we expected the cast and crew from Lord of the Rings to step out of the mist at any moment.”

Instead, a flash of orange and a familiar logo in the hand of a young man darting past on the trail caught his attention.

“Hey!” Jeff called out. “Where’d you get that K College water bottle!”

The young man stopped quickly and spun around. The young woman running with him did, too.

“I gave it to him!” she said with a big smile. “Do you know K?”

Holly Gillis ’09 and her husband, Ethan Basset, were toward the end of a ten-day vacation, rushing to see the Glacier before moving on to their next stop. Both are medical doctors working in Houston and soon moving to Ohio.

Holly and Jeff talked a little about their K-Plans (“Mine doesn’t take long to tell,” said Jeff) and some of the K professors and staff they both know on campus. They also agreed to follow up via email once they were back home. [See Jeff’s brief write up below about Holly’s post K career thus far.]

They compared a few New Zealand travel notes and agreed they were “glad to see one of nature’s wonders before climate change and science denial causes it to melt away,” said Jeff.

Susan and Ethan took photos while their alumni spouses marveled at the odds of having an impromptu Hornet gathering in a mountain valley half a world away from K’s “Fair Arcadian Hill.”

“What an incredibly small world,” Holly said. “Light attracts light.”

With a little help from a K water bottle.

Holly Gillis ’09 is a Madison, Wis., native who majored in chemistry at K. She also sang the national anthem for a range of Hornet home athletics events, wrote restaurant reviews for the Index, sang soprano in the Premium Orange a capella group, served as a co-director of Frelon dance troupe, was the American Chemistry Society Student Affiliate Chair; and volunteered in the children’s ward at Kalamazoo’s Bronson Hospital. She also traveled to Perth, Australia, for her  study abroad, during which she volunteered at the Western Australian AIDS Council, working on a needle exchange program and youth risk reduction programs.

After K, Holly earned a medical degree from Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine in Western Pennsylvania and completed her residency in pediatrics at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital.

She and Ethan were married in July 2016 and have been living in Houston this past year “learning and working” at Texas Children’s Hospital, she said. He is completing his pediatric otolaryngology fellowship, while she works in the emergency department and serves as assistant professor of pediatrics.

Next up for the couple is a move to Columbus, Ohio, “learning and working” at The OSU Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Ethan will join the pediatric ear-nose-throat clinical and academic faculty, while Holly starts a fellowship in pediatric critical care. She intends to focus on the disparate access to quality health care that low income children with complex medical needs have within a pediatric hospital system compared to those with middle and high incomes.

“K study abroad shaped the way I think about medical practice and empathy for low and very low income women and children,” Holly said. “The service component to my study abroad program–a health screening project in a low-income suburb of Perth with primarily aboriginal women and children–helped expose the bubble that is so convenient for many of the economically stable K students to live in, including myself.”

Study abroad also fueled Holly’s interest in travel, particularly to the lands Down Under. She traveled to Sydney, Australia, during the summer after her first year of medical school to work in a lab related to research she conducted for her K Senior Independent Project, or SIP. (Professor of Chemistry Laura Furge served as Holly’s on-campus SIP faculty mentor for the reading of her thesis.)  A recent vacation to New Zealand with Ethan was a respite from work and studies before they finish their assignments in Houston and pack for the move to Ohio.

She looks forward to being a little closer to her Wisconsin and Kalamazoo College homes, and hopes to cross paths with K alumni.


Greening Away Violence

Green Dot-Trained Faculty and Staff at KThis spring Kalamazoo College is beginning to turn green from Green Dot, and that “greening” will create a campus where the likelihood of dating and domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault decreases significantly because everybody does their part.

Just last week some 29 K faculty, staff and administrators completed four days of Green Dot “College Curriculum” training.

Green Dot is a violence prevention program with origins in college and university settings. It is also being implemented across the entire U.S. Air Force, on installations across all other branches of the military, and in communities and organizations in all 50 states and internationally.

The program is designed to enlist entire communities in order to spread the work and the joy that comes with it. And it works! In a five-year longitudinal study, Green Dot was shown to reduce violence perpetration by up to 50 percent in Kentucky high schools. Other studies found a 17 percent reduction in colleges, and additional research is being funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study the effect of Green Dot in communities and additional colleges.

The 29 trainers will contribute to the planning and implementation of bystander education sessions for students (the first is set for late April) and Green Dot overview sessions for faculty, staff, administrators and students. Bystanders are trained to safely use words and actions to address or prevent “red dots.” In the program’s iconography, a red dot is any person’s choice to harm another person with words or actions. In any environment, or map, enough red dots create a norm where violence is tolerated. Green dots are small actions to intervene when a red dot is occurring or to prevent the likelihood of red dots at all. Small as they may be, Green Dot words and actions draw their power from the large numbers of people who commit to speak or do them. Together, enough Green Dots can change “worlds,” small and large.

Small acts and everyone doing their part is the key to the program’s success. Last week’s faculty and staff training included an array of work lives and “spheres of influence” that nearly covers the campus map, so the Green Dot greening of K is off to a broad and excellent start.

Early participants and Green Dot educators included (l-r)–front row (seated): Ellen Lassiter Collier, Gender Equity; Liz Smith ’73, Library, Katie Miller, Athletics (Women’s Basketball); Leslie Burke, Library; Miasha Wilson, Business Office; Kenlana Ferguson, Counseling Center, Erika Driver, Counseling Center; Laura Livingstone-McNelis ’89, Theatre Arts; Brittany Liu, Psychology; back row (standing): Jessica Ward, Registrar’s Office, Morgan Mahdavi ’14, Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership; Jeanne Hess, Physical Education (Volleyball); Josh Moon, Educational Technology; Narda McClendon, Center for International Programs; Andrew Grayson ’10, Admission; Elizabeth Manwell, Classics; Bryan Goyings ’04, Athletics (Women’s Soccer); Jax Gardner, Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership; Heather Dannison, Counseling Center; Jason Lintjer, Athletics (Men’s and Women’s Swimming); Marcie Weathers, Facilities Management; Franki Hand, Media Services; Jay Daniels ’13, Athletics (Men’s and Women’s Swimming); Dan Kibby ’90, Computer Programming; Tim Young, Security, Karen Joshua Wathel, Student Development, Heather Garcia, Center for International Programs; Melissa Emmal, Green Dot, Washington, D.C.; Sirajah Raheem, Green Dot, Atlanta, Georgia. Not pictured are Stacy Nowicki, Library, and Jim VanSweden ’73, College Communication.

Funding for Kalamazoo College’s Green Dot efforts comes from the State of Michigan Campus Sexual Assault Grant Program.

A Distinguished Dozen

Kalamazoo College 2017 Class Agents
Class agents (and their majors) for the class of 2017 are (l-r) front row–Kamal Kamalaldin (computer science), Bianca Delgado (political science), Kriti Singh (economics), Emma Franzel (theatre arts), Brooke Travis (anthropology and sociology); middle row–Emerson Brown (economics), Emily Levy (anthropology and sociology), Emily Finch (English and history), Chris Francis (economics); back row–Alivia DuQuet (political science and women, gender and sexuality studies) and Eric DeWitt (economics). Not pictured is Amanda Johnson (economics).

The class of 2017 has its agents, a dozen as distinguished as they are diverse. Alivia DuQuet, Amanda Johnson, Bianca Delgado, Brooke Travis, Chris Francis, Emerson Brown, Emily Finch, Emily Levy, Emma Franzel, Eric DeWitt, Kamal Kamalaldin and Kriti Singh come from four states and three countries and represent eight different majors, five different study abroad programs on four continents, one study away program and a K-Trek (K to the Big Apple). Seven will enter the work force after graduation (several with jobs already lined up), two will go to graduate school, two will take a gap year then proceed with their graduate educations, and one will do Teach for America before beginning grad school. Senior Individualized Projects ranged widely, and topics included, among others, state sexual education policies, climate adaption strategies, cultural institutions in Palestine, corporate venture capital investments, the Dodd-Frank Act, parental attitudes regarding corporal punishment, feminism performance theory and the U.S. primary care industry.

All of the class agents were asked why they wanted to take on this lifetime role. Their answers, understandably, varied and yet shared some common themes: an appreciation of the K learning experience, a desire to remain connected to classmates and the College and to pay forward the benefits of a K education. “Throughout my time at K,” said Singh, “I have realized the importance of financial support and support from alumni. I would love to be actively involved because a lot of students (unknowingly) benefit from the support from the people who have been giving back.” Kamalaldin agrees: “I want to be able to improve Kalamazoo College and stay connected to its mission. I want to give back the tremendous support and educational opportunity that Kalamazoo College gave me.”

Photo courtesy of Tony Dugal

Imagination Celebration

Visiting Instructor of Art Danny Kim's documentaryThe Stories They Tell,” Visiting Instructor of Art Danny Kim’s documentary film about the Co-Authorship Project of Woodward Elementary School and Kalamazoo College, is an official selection of the Made in Michigan Film Festival (Frankenmuth, Michigan). It will screen on Sunday, February 5, at 4:25 p.m.

The film is no stranger to awards. It won the Kalamazoo Film Society’s “Palm d’Mitten” Award for best local film. And the documentary took second place for best feature film at the North-by-Midwest Film Festival in Kalamazoo! It also has screened at the Lake Erie Arts and Film Festival in Sandusky, Ohio, the East Lansing Film Festival in Michigan, and Reading FilmFEST in Reading, Pennsylvania.

“The Stories They Tell” chronicles remarkable collaborations, like “Tacos for Dragons,” one of the many books featured in the film.

The saga of that unlikely pair (dragons and tacos) is the product of the imaginations and work of two seemingly unlikely co-authors, one a Kalamazoo College student and the other a third grader at Woodward Elementary.

Visiting Instructor of Art Danny Kim's documentarySuch collaborations are unlikely no more, thanks to the Co-authorship Project, the subject of Kim’s 80-minute film and the heart of Professor of Psychology Siu-Lan Tan’s developmental psychology class for the last 15 years. The Co-authorship Project gives K students the opportunity to create an original storybook with an elementary student in order to gain a deeper insight into child development. Tan’s developmental psychology class is one of many academic service-learning courses that are designed in collaboration with the College’s Center for Civic Engagement.

The documentary showcases the project from beginning to end, starting with the picking of partners and culminating in the various unique completed works. The film spans almost a decade and a half of story making, to which Kim had unique access. He and Tan are husband and wife.

Animation infuses both the class and the film. “The project has made the developmental psychology class come to life,” said Tan,”awakening ideas with real world experience. The collaborations give my students something more than what they could get in books alone.” Likewise, Kim’s animation of the creativity in each story makes the film leap to life.

“The documentary is really about relationships, learning, connecting, and, at its core, imagination,” said Tan. “One skill that children naturally possess is imagination and creativity.”

The film highlights how much each interaction with a child can help augment what a college student knows about child development. The interactions also can affect a career path.

The life’s work of at least two of Tan’s former students offers proof. After viewing a sneak preview of the film in April of 2015, both women confirmed that the project directly influenced their decisions to pursue careers in education.

Rachelle (Tomac) Busman ’05 is a school psychologist in the Byron Center (Michigan) School District and Sally (Warner) Read ’08 is the head of the Kazoo School, an independent school in Kalamazoo.

“I remember everything about the little girl I worked with,” said Busman.

Kim thinks the contact with colleges students could help inspire their elementary school aged partners to consider college as part of their futures, and he said he hopes the documentary inspires similar projects elsewhere.

“It would be wonderful if somebody saw it and said maybe we could start something like this,” said Kim.

At K The project’s concept has been expanded and continued through a partnership with the Center for Civic Engagement. As the students (college and primary school) create these whimsical, amusing and surprising stories, the connections they make with each other have a lasting impact, not only in literacy and learning, but in understanding their pasts and futures.

Photo by Danny Kim
Art by Pennilane Mara
Matt Munoz ’14 contributed to this story.

Kalamazoo College in the Ghostlight

Ed Menta teaches a directing class
Ed Menta (right) teaches a directing class

Festival Playhouse of Kalamazoo College will participate in the national Ghostlight Project on January 19, 2017. The event will unite more than 500 theatres, ensembles and companies, and high school and university theatre programs in a pledge to stand for and protect the values of inclusion, participation, and compassion for everyone–regardless of race, class, religion, country of origin, immigration status, (dis) ability, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

On that day before the U.S. presidential inauguration, “we invite the public to gather outside the Nelda K. Balch Playhouse no later than 5:25 p.m.,” said Ed Menta, the James A.B. Stone Professor of Theatre at K. “We will enter the theatre together and then turn on our lights (a cell phone or flashlight) in solidarity, tolerance and ritual connection to theatres cross the United States. We are especially proud that class of 1983 alumna Lisa Kron is one of the developers of the event at the national level.”

Festival Playhouse will participate with other members of Theatre Kalamazoo, the consortium of theaters in Kalamazoo County. According to Ed, the symbolism is inspired by the theatrical tradition of keeping illuminated a “ghost light” in a darkened theatre. “We create light for the challenging times ahead,” he said.

“Theatre is never apolitical,” he added. “And throughout history–from Greek tragedy to the WPA’s Federal Theatre Project to the Market Theatre in Johannesburg, South Africa–plays and performances have helped create conditions for political and social change.”

The Nelda K. Balch Playhouse is located on the campus of Kalamazoo College, on the corner of Academy and Thompson Streets, near the parking lot between the Light Fine Arts building and the Dow Science Center.

MLK and “Our Moment”

Danez Smith
Danez Smith

What does the annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.–his achievements and his ideas–mean for the present moment, what K students’ might term “our moment?” How should his spirit apply–in imagination, in word, in action–to their now and their future?

These are questions posed by and to students by and to the College’s Intercultural Center. The answers to those questions (both continually developing) will inform Kalamazoo College’s 2017 Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation on January 16, 2017.

As in the past, K’s activities will be part of various city events on that day. The 2017 MLK celebration Kalamazoo-wide theme is “The Transformative Power of a Unified Dream.”

Director of Intercultural Student Life (ISL) Natalia Carvalho-Pinto and students worked together to shape a celebration that creates opportunities to “consider what transformative power and resistance mean for new generations,” says Carvalho-Pinto. The ISL theme for this year’s K events is “Transformative Power and Resistance in the New Century: What Does ‘The Dream’ Look like Today?”

The day will feature four events, beginning with a convocation address by poet Danez Smith (10:50 a.m. in Stetson Chapel). The title of his talk is the same as the theme for K’s events, and it is free and open to the public.

Smith is the award-winning author of [insert] Boy (YesYes Books, 2014) and hands on ya knees (Penmanship Books, 2013), and he is a founding member of the multi-genre, multicultural Dark Noise Collective. His writing has appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, Beloit Poetry Journal, and Kinfolks, among others.

His poems focus on intersecting matters of race, class, sexuality, faith and social justice, and it is characterized by a power, rhythm and imagery that invites and demands a reimagining of the world.

Smith then will lead a poetry workshop (12:30 p.m. Hicks Banquet Room, lunch provided) that is open to K students only. The workshop–titled “Future Tense: Poetry as Blueprint”–will explore the use of poetry to imagine realistic utopias in the not so distant future, and how those futures can allow us to reverse engineer the steps we would need to take to make them. “By looking at speculative worlds of some of today’s young poets of color,” says Carvalho-Pinto, “the workshop will inspire us toward change, possibility, action, dreaming and building the worlds we deserve.”

At 4 p.m. (gathering at Red Square) K students, faculty and staff will join their counterparts from Western Michigan University to walk to Martin Luther King Jr. Park in downtown Kalamazoo. Transportation back to K’s campus will be provided.

The afternoon’s poetry workshop will culminate at 6:30 p.m. with a reading in the Intercultural Center (Hicks). Students will share relevant writings and reflections–their own and that of others, some perhaps written that day during the workshop–about the day’s theme and celebrations. “The potential power of this event is extraordinary,” says Carvalho-Pinto. “We did this at Ferris [State University], and it was one of my favorite events.” The reading is open to the entire Kalamazoo College community, as is the film that will follow at 7:30 p.m. ISL has tentatively scheduled a screening of The Rosa Parks Story (starring Angela Bassett).

“We’re very excited about this year’s events,” says Carvalho-Pinto, “especially their potential to get us thinking about how what we celebrate on this day should infuse our present and future. And I’m particularly thrilled that Danez Smith will be a part.”

if you press your ear to the dirt
you can hear it hum, not like it’s filled

with beetles & other low gods
but like a mouth rot with gospel

& other glories. listen to the dirt
crescendo a boy back.

come. celebrate. this
is everyday. every day

holy. everyday high
holiday. everyday new

year. every year, days get longer.
time clogged with boys. the boys

O the boys. they still come
in droves. the old world

keeps choking them. our new one
can’t stop spitting them out.

-from “summer, somewhere,” by Danez Smith, Poetry, January 2016

Showerdough and Sourdough

Rob Dunn '97
Rob Dunn ’97

Rob Dunn ’97 is at it again; it being another citizen-science project (or two). And it (or they) are the subject of a fun and wonderful piece by Nicola Twilley, “What’s Lurking in Your Showerhead,” that appears in the December 8 issue of the New Yorker magazine.

Rob is an evolutionary biologist and professor at North Carolina State University. Twilley is one of 500 participants in his lab’s Showerhead Microbiome Project. Those volunteers (in Europe and the United States) swab the gunk in their showerheads and send the samples Rob’s lab. Twilley found it a tad gross, but Rob wonders if it’s a good thing–those microorganisms in our showerheads. Turns out our bodies are full of other bodies–we depend on them. In fact, those other bodies’ cells (in or on us!) may outnumber our own, making me more other than myself. Wow! Whether or not what’s in our showerheads is good (or not so good) for us remains to be tested. First we have to see what’s in there in order to ask the right questions. Rob’s full of those; he’s a K grad. He’s also interested in the effect (for good or ill) on our “showerdough” of different water treatment processes.

Please forgive that “showerdough” malapropism; there’s a reason for it. Rob’s second current citizen-science project is all about the affect of microorganisms on sourdough and, ultimately on the taste of sourdough bread–across space and time. Some really interesting things may be going on there! Read Twilley’s article to find out. Citizen-science is nothing new to the Dunn lab. He’s done projects on belly button lint, human facial mites, insects in the kitchen, and household dust. Robs the author of three popular science books and was featured (“The Ant on Aldebaran”) in the Fall 2015 LuxEsto.