NOTES for Nagaoka’s “Black Blood: Reckoning with Alaska’s Oil Dependency”

1 Alyeska Pipeline Service Company. “Trans Alaska Pipeline System: The Facts.” Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, 2013. PDF file.

2 Alaska History and Cultural Studies. Modern Alaska: Oil Discovery and Development in Alaska. Alaska Humanities Forum, n.d. Web. 26 May 2015.

3 The State of Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Research and Analysis Section. “Annual Components of Population Change for Alaska, 1945 to 2014.” The State of Alaska, 2014. Microsoft Excel file.

4 The State of Alaska Department of Revenue Commissioner’s Office. “Spring 2015 Forecast Adjusts Revenue to Reflect Lower Oil Prices.” The State of Alaska Department of Revenue, 3 April 2015. PDF file.

5 The State of Alaska House Special Committee on Fiscal Policy. Understanding Alaska’s Revenue. Understanding Alaska’s Budget, n.d. Web. 26 May 2015.

6 Knapp, Gunnar. “The Most Important Things to Understand About Alaska’s Fiscal Situation.” University of Alaska Anchorage Institute of Social and Economic Research, Jan. 2015. PDF file.

7 The State of Alaska House Special Committee on Fiscal Policy. Understanding Alaska’s Spending. Understanding Alaska’s Budget, n.d. Web. 26 May 2015.

8 State of Alaska, House Special Committee on Fiscal Policy. Understanding Alaska’s Revenue.

9 Murphy, Andrea. “America’s Largest Private Companies 2014.” Forbes, 5 Nov. 2014. Web. 26 May 2015.

10 The State of Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development Research & Analysis Section. Alaska Local and Regional Information. Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development Research, n.d. Web. 26 May 2015.

11 Smock, Dylan. Personal interview. 17 May 2015.

12 ConocoPhillips Alaska. Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS). ConocoPhillips Company, n.d. Web. 26 May 2015.

13 Murphy, Kim. “ALASKA OIL: Flow Has Slowed Through Pipeline.” Sunday Gazette [Charleston, WV], 15 Aug. 2010. ProQuest. Web. 26 May 2015.

14 Ibid.

15 Ibid.

16 Alyeska Pipeline Service Company. “Trans Alaska Pipeline System.”

17 Murphy, K. “ALASKA OIL.”

18 Randall, Tom. “Fossil Fuels Just Lost the Race Against Renewables: This is the Beginning of the End.” Bloomberg Business, 14 April 2015. Web. 26 May 2015.

19 Nasdaq. Crude Oil: WTI (NYMEX) Price. Barchart Market Data Solutions, 2015. Web. 26 May 2015.

20 Knapp. “The Most Important Things.”

21 Associated Press. “By the Numbers: Alaska Budget Debate, Attempts to Fix It.” Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 07 May 2015. Web. 26 May 2015.

22 Forgey, Pat. “Is the Permanent Fund the Solution to Alaska’s Budget Gridlock?” Alaska Dispatch News, 20 May 2015. Web. 26 May 2015.

23 Herz, Nathaniel. “House Bipartisan Budget Deal Appears to be Dead on Arrival in the Senate.” Alaska Dispatch News. 30 May 2015. Web. 8 June 2015.

24 Kreiss-Tomkins, Jonathan. “Ugh.” [Email], 6 March 2015. Web. 8 June 2015.

25 Cole, Dermot. “In a Blow to Fairbanks, Flint Hills Says It Will Close Down North Pole Refinery.” Alaska Dispatch News, 04 Feb. 2014. Web. 26 May 2015.

26 Ibid.

27 Buxton, Matt. “BP No Longer Sponsoring Fairbanks Midnight Sun Festival.” Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 28 May 2015. Web. 8 June 2015.

28 Smock. Personal interview.

29 Murphy. “ALASKA OIL.”

30 Visser, Nick. “The World Has Pledged To Divest $2.6 Trillion From Fossil Fuels.” Huffington Post, 22 Sept. 2015. Web. 11 Nov. 2015.

31 Fairbanks Concert Association. Sponsor List. Fairbanks Concert Association, n.d. Web. 26 May 2015.

32 The State of Alaska Department of Revenue Permanent Fund Dividend Division. Historical Summary of Dividend Applications and Payments. The State of Alaska, 31 December 2012. Web. 26 May 2015.

33 Caldwell, Suzanna. “Fairbanks’ Empty, Decaying Polaris Building Looking for Love.” Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 24 April 2011. Web. 26 May 2015.

34 US Energy Information Administration. Petroleum Chronology of Events 1970–2000. US Department of Energy, n.d. Web. 26 May 2015.

35 Ibid.

36 Alaska History and Cultural Studies, Modern Alaska.

37 Ibid.

38 Associated Press. “Alaska Faces Tough Decisions, Drastic Budget Cuts, Dipping into Savings as Oil Prices Plunge.” Fox Business, 18 Jan. 2015. Web. 26 May 2015.

39 Gutierrez, Alexandra. “Governor’s New Budget Cuts 300 State Employees.” Alaska Public Media, 5 Feb. 2015. Web. 26 May 2015.

40 The State of Alaska House Special Committee on Fiscal Policy. What is a Fiscal Gap? Understanding Alaska’s Budget, n.d. Web. 26 May 2015.

41 Fessler, David. “The Pros and Cons of Arctic Oil Drilling (And Why We Should Start Now).” Investment U [The Oxford Club], 15 May 2015. Web. 26 May 2015.

42 The Office of Senator Giessel. “Legislature Urges Seattle to Stop Blocking Alaska’s Economic Development.” Alaska Senate Majority, 19 April 2015. Web. 26 May 2015.

43 McKibben, Bill. “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math.” Rolling Stone, 19 July 2012. Web. 26 May 2015.

44 House Special Committee on Fiscal Policy, What is a Fiscal Gap?

45 Goldsmith, Scott. “Alaska’s Petroleum Industry: Transformative, But is it Sustainable?” University of Alaska Anchorage Institute of Social and Economic Research, April 2011. PDF file.

46 Fairbanks Daily News-Miner Editorial. “Population Wobble Worrisome: Decline Not Portent of Disaster, But State Needs to Pay Attention and Act.” Fairbanks Daily News Miner. 13 May 2015. Web. 8 June 2015.

47 House Special Committee on Fiscal Policy, What is a Fiscal Gap?

48 Goldsmith. “Alaska’s Petroleum Industry.”

49 Walker, Bill. “Self-determination was at the heart of our quest for Statehood. Alaskans wanted to control the future of this state. Once again, Alaska is at a decision point. With oil revenue alone unable to sustain us, how do we chart a new course?” [Facebook post], 6 June 2015. Web. 8 June 2015.

50 Cole, Dermot, and Nathaniel Herz. “Fairbanks Fiscal Cram Session Leads to New Focus on Revenue, Spending, Services.” Alaska Dispatch News. 7 June 2015. Web. 8 June 2015.

51 The State of Alaska Governor Bill Walker, Building a Sustainable Future: Conversations with Alaskans. The State of Alaska, n.d. Web. 8 June 2015.

52 Walker, Bill. “Building a Sustainable Future.” Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. 31 May 2015. Web. 8 June 2015.

53 The State of Alaska Governor Bill Walker, Walker Kicks Off Dialogue On Fiscal Future. The State of Alaska, 4 June 2015. Web. 8 June 2015.

54 Fairbanks Daily News-Miner Editorial. “Population Wobble Worrisome.”

55 Cole & Herz. “Fairbanks Fiscal Cram Session.”

56 Goldsmith, Scott. “High Oil Prices Give Alaskans a Second Chance: How Will We Use this Opportunity?” University of Alaska Anchorage Institute of Social and Economic Research, Sept. 2011. PDF file.

57 Glowa, Tristan. “So it’s pretty inarguable that we need to transition to a clean energy economy rapidly if we don’t want to be screwed by climate change. Obviously, as an Alaskan, I depend on oil given that it’s funded my life here. Just because the system I live in unavoidably relies on fossil fuels doesn’t mean that’s the future I am working to create (which is a question of political economy, not individual purchases). Does that make sense?” [Facebook comment], 20 May 2015. Web. 26 May 2015.

58 Macalister, Terry. “Shell Abandons Alaska Arctic Drilling.” The Guardian, 28 Sept. 2015. Web. 11 Nov. 2015.

59 Visser. “The World Has Pledged To Divest.”


WORKS CONSULTED for Hayes’s “Recipe for Mom’s Chocolate Cake”

“11 Facts About Body Image.” Do Something.org. Do.something.org, 2014. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.

Gleason, Jamie H., Amy M. Alexander, and Cheryl L. Somers. “Later Adolescents’ Reactions to Three Types of Childhood Teasing: Relations with Self-Esteem and Body Image.” Social Behavior and Personality 28.5 (2000): 471–79. Print.

Han, Chung-hye. “A Comparative Study of Compliment Responses: Korean Females in Korean Interactions and in English Interactions.” Working Papers in Educational Linguistics 8.2 (1992): 17–31. Print.

Mapes, Diane. “Why Women are Terrible at Accepting Compliments.” TODAY Health & Wellness. NBC, 1 Jul. 2013. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.

Strochlic, Nina. “China’s Last Foot-Binding Survivors.” The Daily Beast. The Daily Beast, 2 July 2014. Web. 22 Nov. 2015.

Warren, Rossalyn. “This is What Happens When Women Actually Accept a Compliment from a Man Online.” BuzzFeed. Buzzfeed, 1 Jan. 2015. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.

Wedoud, Mohamed Yahya Abdel. “Women Fight Mauritania’s Fattening Tradition.” CNN. Turner Broadcasting System,  12 Oct. 2010. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.


WORKS CITED for Blevins’s “The Revolution Won’t Be Tweeted (But Tweets Will Change the Revolution)

Association for Psychological Science. “Do-gooder or Ne’er-do-well? Behavioral Science Explains Patterns of Moral Behavior.” APS: Association for Psychological Science. Association for Psychological Science, 7 Mar. 2013. Web. 22 Jan. 2015.

Bower, Bruce.  “Token Gestures.” Science News 186.1 (2014): 22–26. Web. 24 Nov. 2015.

Burger, Jerry.  “The Foot-in-the-Door Compliance Procedure: A Multiple-Process Analysis and Review.” Personality and Social Psychology Review 3.4 (1999): 303–25. Web. 24 Nov. 2015..

Essig, Kate.  “Activism Or Slacktivism? How Social Media Hurts And Helps Student Activism.” St. Louis Public Radio. University of Missouri-St. Louis, 2 Jan. 2014. Web. 23 Jan. 2015.

Freedman, Jonathan, and Scott C. Fraser  “Compliance Without Pressure.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 4.2 (1966): 195–202. Web. 24 Nov. 2015.

Gladwell, Malcom.  “Small Change.” The New Yorker. Conde Nast, 4 Oct. 2010. Web. 23 Jan. 2015.

Kristofferson, Kirk, Katherine White, and John Peloza  “The Nature of Slacktivism: How the Social Observability of an Initial Act of Token Support Affects Subsequent Prosocial Action.” Journal of Consumer Research 40.6 (2014): 1149–166. Web. 24 Nov. 2015.

Mittelman, Geoffrey A.  “Can Slacktivism Lead to Activism?” HuffPost Impact. The Huffington Post Inc., 8 Oct. 2014. Web. 22 Jan. 2015.

Lee, Yu-Hao, and Gary Hsieh.  “Does Slacktivism Hurt Activism?: The Effects of Moral Balancing and Consistency in Online Activism.” Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (2013): 811–20. Web. 24 Nov. 2015.

Rovell, Darren.  “In Numbers: Lance Armstrong Foundation.” Espn.go.com. ESPN, 24 Aug. 012. Web. 22 Jan. 2015.


WORKS CONSULTED for McFadden’s “The Spinning of Yarns”

Anderson, Douglas A., ed. Tales Before Narnia: The Roots of Modern Fantasy and Science Fiction. New York: Del Ray / Ballantine, 2008. Print.

Anderson, Douglas A., ed. Tales Before Tolkien: The Roots of Modern Fantasy. New York: Del Ray / Ballantine, 2003. Print.

Berg, Pete. Six Word Stories. Pete Berg, 2009. Web. 2 June 2015.

Booker, Christopher. The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2006. Print.

Brown, Arthur A. “Storytelling, the Meaning of Life, and The Epic of Gilgamesh.” Exploring Ancient World Cultures. University of Evansville, 1996. Web. 24 Apr. 2015.

Bricken, Rob. “Fan Fiction Friday: Goku and Anne Frank in ‘Until the End of Time.’” The Robot’s Voice. Voice Media Group Inc., 19 Dec. 2008. Web. 24 Apr. 2015.

Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. 3rd ed. Novato: New World Library, 2008. Print.

Fershleiser, Rachel and Larry Smith, eds. Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure. New York: Harper Perennial, 2008. Print.

“Headcanon.” Urban Dictionary. Urban Dictionary, 12 July 2012. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.

Jackson, Shelley. “Skin Guidelines.” Shelley Jackson’s Ineradicable Stain. Shelley Jackson. n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2015.

Kang, Jay Caspian. “White Reporter Privilege.” The Awl. The AWL, 13 Nov. 2014. Web. 23 Oct. 2015.

Kay, Sarah. “If I Should Have a Daughter…” TED2011. TED Conferences LLC. Long Beach, CA, 3 Mar. 2011. Lecture.

Kellogg, Carolyn. “Shelley Jackson’s Skin Project 2.0.” LA Times Blog. Los Angeles Times, 1 Mar. 2011. Web. 24 Apr. 2015.

Koenig, Sarah. “Episode 2: The Breakup.” Audio blog post. Serial Podcast. This American Life, Oct. 2014. Web. 6 Apr. 2015.

Lockett, Michael. “History of Storytelling,” The Basics of Storytelling. Taipei: Caves Educational Technology Company, 2008. Digital. 2 June 2015.

Onion, Rebecca. “A Teenaged Charlotte Brontë’s Tiny Little Romance.” Web blog post. The Vault. The Slate Group LLC, 13 Mar. 2013. Web. 2 June 2015.

Roberts, Amy. “The ‘Serial’ Podcast: By the numbers.” CNN.com. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., 23 Dec. 2014. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.

Ronson, Jon. “Serial: The Syed Family on Their Pain and the ‘Five Million Detectives Trying to Work Out if Adnan is a Psychopath.’” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited, 7 Dec. 2014. Web. 6 Apr. 2015.

Sabia, Joe. “The Technology of Storytelling.” Full Spectrum Auditions. TED Conferences LLC. New York, 24 May 2011. Lecture.

Six Words, LLC. “Six Words.” SMITH Magazine, 2005. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.

Tambiah, S.J. “The Magical Power of Words.” Man 3.2 (1968): 175–208. Web. 2 June 2015.

Van Maanen, John. Tales of the Field: On Writing Ethnography. 2nd ed. Chicago and London: U of Chicago P, 2011. Print.

Wong, Julia Carrie. “The Problem with ‘Serial’ and the Model Minority Myth.” Buzzfeed. Buzzfeed, Inc., 16 Nov. 2014. Web. 23 Oct. 2015.

Zimmerman, Jess. “My Life as a Word: How I Became Part of the ‘Skin’ Short Story Project.” xoJane. Time Inc. Style Network, 10 Nov. 2011. Web. 24 Apr. 2015.


REFERENCES for Hickert’s “A Bird’s-Eye View: Evolution of the Sky Burial in Practice”

Faison, S. (1999, July 3). Lirong journal; Tibetans, and vultures, keep ancient burial rite. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/1999/07/03/world/lirong-journal-tibetans-and-vultures-keep-ancient-burial-rite.html

Martin, D. (1996). On the cultural ecology of sky burial on the Himalayan plateau. East and West 46(3–4), p. 353–370.

Ancient “sky burial” still popular in Tibet (1991, Nov. 28). San Francisco Chronicle, p. A 24.

Sydenstricker, P. (2014, January/February). The Disneyfication of Tibet. Washington Monthly, p. 11–13. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/january_february_2014/ten_miles_square/the_disneyfication_of_tibet048349.php?page=all

Knight-Ridder Newspapers. (1985, Oct. 16). The Montreal Gazette. Retrieved from https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1946&dat=19851016&id=DFUlAAAAIBAJ&sjid=6qUFAAAAIBAJ&pg=5082,2863416&hl=en

United Press International. (1985, Aug. 29). Tibet Vulture-feeding funerals off-limits to tourists. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1985-08-29/news/8502260498_1_tibet-autonomous-region-tibet-daily-tibetan-people

Woeser. (2004). Rinchen, the sky-burial master. Manoa 24(1), p. 92–104.

Xinhua News Agency (2005, Aug. 31). Sky burial lives on in Tibet as traditional way for dead. China Internet Information Center. Retrieved from http://www.china.org.cn/english/null/140297.htm


WORKS CITED for Garland’s “Lifting the Lid on the coffin: An Examination of Attitudes Towards Vampires in Popular Culture”

Atwater, Cheryl. “Living in Death: The Evolution of Modern Vampirism.” Anthropology of Consciousness 11.1–2 (2000): 70–77. Web. 25 Apr. 2015.

Betsinger, Tracy K., and Amy B. Scott. “Governing from the Grave: Vampire Burials and Social Order in Post-medieval Poland.” Cambridge Archaeological Journal 24.03 (2014): 467–76. Cambridge Journals. Web. 26 Apr. 2015.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Dir. Francis F. Coppola. Screenplay by James V. Hart. By Bram Stoker. Perf. Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, and Anthony Hopkins. Columbia Pictures, 1992. DVD.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Fourth Season. Dir. Joss Whedon. Warner Bros., 2003. DVD. Fright Night. Dir. Craig Gillespie. By Marti Noxon and Tom Holland. Perf. Anton Yelchin and Colin Farrell. DreamWorks Picture, 2011. DVD.

Hall, Robert L. “Ghosts, Water Barriers, Corn, and Sacred Enclosures in the Eastern Woodlands.” American Antiquity 41.3 (1976): 360–64. JSTOR. Web. 26 Apr. 2015.

Interview with the Vampire—the Vampire Chronicles. Dir. Neil Jordan. By Anne Rice. Perf. Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Christian Slater, and Kirsten Dunst. Geffen Pictures, 1994. DVD.

Jackson, Morgan A. “Mindless Monsters: The Evolution of Vampire Mythology in Modern Fiction.” The Alexandrian 1.1 (2012): n. pag. The Alexandrian (Troy University Journals). Troy University, 2012. Web. 25 Apr. 2015.

Matheson, Richard. I Am Legend. New York: ORB, 1995. Print.

Meyer, Jenna. “‘You’re a Vampire… Was That an Offensive Term? Should I Say Undead American’?’ The Evolution of the Vampire in Popular Culture.” University at Buffalo, State University of New York, 2010. ProQuest Thesis. ProQuest. Web. 26 Apr. 2015.

Meyer, Stephanie. Twilight. New York: Little, Brown and Co., 2005. Print.

Poole, W. Scott. “Undead Americans.” Monsters in America: Our Historical Obsession with the Hideous and the Haunting. Waco, TX: Baylor UP, 2011. 193–217. Print.

Senf, Carol A. “‘Dracula’: Stoker’s Response to the New Woman.” Victorian Studies 26.1 (1982): 33–49. JSTOR. Web. 26 Apr. 2015.

Smetana, Erik. “Books with Bite: The Evolution of the Vampire in Contemporary Literature.” The Missouri Review 34.1 (2011): 173–80. Summon. Web. 25 Apr. 2015.

Tenga, Angela, and Elizabeth Zimmerman. “Vampire Gentlemen and Zombie Beasts.” Gothic Studies 15.1 (2013): 76–87. Academic Search Complete. Web. 26 Apr. 2015.

Whedon, Joss, dir. “Lie to Me.” Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Warner Bros. Network. 3 Nov. 1997. Television.


WORKS CITED for Lewis’s “You Talkin’ To Me?”

Deery, Jenna. “Leaders Say Safety Standards for Uber, Lyft Not Enough.” WSOC. 13 Apr. 2015. Web. 14 Apr.  2015.

English, Bob. “Classic Cars: All Hail the Birth of the Taxi in 1897.” The Globe and Mail. The Globe and Mail, 23 Nov. 2012. Web. 20 Oct. 2015.

Foucault, Michel. “Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias.” Trans. Jay Miskowiec. Architecture/Mouvement/Continuité. 5 (Oct. 1984). Rpt. Diacritics 16 (Spring 1986): 22–27. Web. 20 Oct 2015.

Hanc, John. “A Fleet of Taxis Did Not Really Save Paris From the Germans During World War I: The Myth of the Battle of the Marne has Persisted, but What Exactly Happened in the First Major Conflict of the War?” Smithsonian.com. 24 July 2014. Web. 20 Oct. 2015.

Huet, Ellen. “New Laws Push Uber and Lyft to Bump up Insurance Coverage, but a Collision Gap Remains.” Forbes. Forbes.com, 1 July 2015. Web. 20 Oct. 2015.

Kohrman, David. “Checker Motors: Taxicab Makers.” Kalamazoo Public Library. Kalamazoo Public Library, May 2012. Web. 3 Nov. 2015.

Marcuse, Harold. “Historical Dollar-to-Marks Currency Conversion Page.” Harold Marcuse. University of California Santa Barbara History Department, 19 Aug 2005. Web. 20 Oct. 2015.

Ocean, Frank. “Bad Religion.” Channel Orange. Def Jam Recordings, 2012. MP3 file.

“Preventing Violence against Taxi and For-Hire Drivers.” OSHA Factsheet. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 2010. Web. 20 Oct. 2015.

Taxi Driver. Dir. Martin Scorsese. Perf. Robert De Niro and Jodie Foster. 1976. Film. Sony Pictures. 2007. DVD.


Featured Image © Li Tsin Soon | Shutterstock.com

Spotlight on Student Editors

MadisonMadison Bolotin
I was born and raised in Darien, Connecticut, right on the shore of Long Island Sound. I have spent a lot of time on the water, but when it was time to make a college decision, I traded the beach for the mountains. So far, I have absolutely no regrets. Since moving to Denver, I have found a passion for hiking, skiing, and camping (basically all things mountain-related). I have also discovered my love for road trips, using the drive between Denver and Connecticut as my excuse for turning a two-day drive into a week-long trip, going out of my way to hit as many sites as possible. I am a sophomore and a Criminology and Psychology double major. Writing has always been a hobby of mine, and working on WRIT Large has been a great learning opportunity.


Carly PostCarly
Though I was born in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, I moved to La Cañada, California when I was eleven. I came to the University of Denver to foster my love of the outdoors—the mountains were calling, as the saying goes. I’ll never get tired of watching the sun sink below the silhouette of the Rocky Mountains. I couldn’t think of a better way to end the day—the sky, a flawless combination of pink and orange. Beautiful. I’m a sophomore in the Honors Program pursuing a double major in Biology and Psychology with a minor in Writing. Some of the best times I’ve had at DU include winning the championship game in intramural broomball, waking up before the crack of dawn to beat the traffic to the ski slopes, hiking to the top of Mt. Evans, spending a week hanging out with first-years as an Orientation Leader, and meeting some of the best friends I have ever known.


KayKay Takada
I am a second year biology major from Colorado Springs, Colorado. I like drawing and playing piano, and I absolutely love to read. When I was younger, I used to act out and film (pretty terrible) parodies of my favorite books, movies, and TV shows, because I have always loved stories and still definitely wish I had superpowers.


Featured Image © littleny | Shutterstock.com

Volume 5 Introduction

Every year, students at the University of Denver are asked to write countless essays, and we are proud to showcase nine of the exceptional few in this year’s journal. As editors, we are privileged to have seen these authors through the evolution of their works from first drafts to final, journal-ready copies, sharing in their pursuits, thoughts, and discoveries. We are pleased to present the culmination of their months of hard work.

In their essays, Monica, Maggie, Kengo, and Olivia explore various aspects of storytelling, appreciating it as a mode of communication and a medium to consider broader aspects of society. Monica McFadden considers the various facets of telling stories and highlights the way in which people use storytelling, in any medium, as a way to relate to and understand one another. Monica incorporates some aspects of her own personal history with storytelling and displays a unique perspective based on her role as an avid reader and writer of a variety of genres. In a narrative exploration of her own family history, Maggie Sava also uses her personal history to cast a unique light on another period of history: Hispanic school desegregation. This personal retelling serves as a rich and expressive reflection of this period in Denver history. In his piece, Kengo Nagaoka guides us through his personal struggle as a passionate environmentalist who was raised on Alaska’s oil revenue. This juxtaposition is highlighted by the realization that his environmental motives, specifically divestment from fossil fuels, could be extremely detrimental to the prosperity of his home state. Straightforward and forthcoming about her own struggles with body image, Olivia Hayes makes use of her personal history to call attention to our society’s unhealthy relationship with weight and appearance. Using both research and personal experience, she provides a critical look at the ways in which women develop insecurities and the dangerous consequences of this relationship.

In their research-based essays, Brian, Nick, Cameron, Aubrie, and Jessica offer in-depth explorations of a wide variety of topics. Rather than including personal anecdotes, these authors have applied their insight and personal passion for the subjects to imbue their pieces with a lively, unique, and personal feel. In his piece, Brian Goetzinger explores the electrifying dynamic of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, emphasizing the ins and outs of auditions, funding, and a very special relationship to the audience. Though his piece focuses mainly on the research that he conducted, it is enriched by his own personal knowledge-base, being that he himself is a violinist. During a ride in a taxi with a driver named Richard, Nick Lewis began to recognize the distinctive nature of taxis. In his essay, Nick references both his interaction with Richard and research to explore the taxi as a space both separate from, and yet still intrinsically part of, the larger city through which it journeys, allowing for a unique relationship to develop between taxi driver and passenger. Cameron Hickert brings to light a fascinating Buddhist practice called sky burial, evoking our sympathy with its long history of misunderstanding and highlighting the importance of protecting other cultures. His personal experiences studying abroad in Tibet permeate his research, embodying his work with a deep-rooted humanity and connecting us with other cultures. Aubrie Blevins discusses a popular trend known as ‘slacktivism,’ a practice that requires very little effort or involvement in supporting social or political movements. She gained interest in this topic through her pursuit to learn more about inclusive excellence, a concept often supported by slacktivist campaigns. Looking at another cultural phenomenon, Jessica Garland investigates the different stages of social response to vampires and offers insight into a possible third stage that is only just beginning to emerge. Her personal experience reading science fiction as a child likely piqued her interest in vampires, along with other mystical creatures. In her work, Jessica references her own primary research in which she investigates how and why she believes this new response has manifested.

Despite differences in genre and writing style, all nine of these authors add a very personal, even intimate, take on things. While editing these pieces, it was clear to us that each author feels a strong connection to their topic. Whether it has to do with their hobbies, in Brian’s case, or the battles they have faced in the past, like Olivia, every author writes with the passion of a scholar investigating a favorite field of study, and they pass this enthusiasm on to readers. We are thrilled to be sharing the inspiring work of these authors with you.

– The Student Editors
Madison Bolotin, Carly Post, & Kay Takada


Featured Image © Neale Cousland | Shutterstock.com

The Places In Between

My beautiful picture

by Maggie Sava
WRIT 1733: Human Rights/Humans Write | Professor John Tiedemann

She was at home playing with her four-year-old daughter, Jennifer, and her one-year-old son, Paul, when the phone rang. It was the fall of 1974, and her two older children, Randy and Julia, were at school for the day. After settling the kids, she answered the call to find a man on the line.

“Hello, Mrs. Atencio. My name is John, and I am a member of the Parent Teacher Association. I am calling you today to discuss a volunteer opportunity.”

“Oh, I see. May I ask what the opportunity is exactly?”

“Well, as I am sure you are aware, Denver Public Schools have recently begun integration programs that…”

She interrupted. “Oh yeah, I have been hearing a lot about that lately.”

“Good, good. Well, you see, we need parents to observe the schools in a monitor role to make sure that all students are receiving the appropriate treatment at their new schools. We are reaching out to you because we know how involved you have been in the PTA before, and we need representatives for Hispanic students.”

“You don’t understand. Atencio is my married name. I am not Hispanic; my husband is.”

“Mrs. Atencio, we are in desperate need of volunteers. We believe that you are especially qualified for this. It is just once a month. We really need your help.”

She paused. “Okay, okay. I am happy to help. What do you need me to do?”

∗  ∗  ∗

My grandparents, Cheryl and Sam Atencio, met when they were only 18 years old. Cheryl had moved to her parents’ new home in the new upper-middle-class development of Applewood, Colorado, after transferring from Hood College, a women’s college on the East Coast, to the University of Colorado Denver. Her background was about as middle-class as it could get. Initially, her parents bought a new home that was constructed after World War II, but they ended up moving from one suburban town to the next as her dad’s job required. Before Colorado, they lived in New Jersey, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Iowa. Meanwhile, Sam’s family settled in southern Colorado and New Mexico during Spanish colonization. Sam was born in Sante Fe shortly before his family moved to Denver to pursue better job opportunities. They settled in one of North Denver’s Hispanic neighborhoods.

EPSON MFP image

Cheryl after a new haircut.

Cheryl and Sam first saw each other at a bar in North Denver. Cheryl’s friend, who was pregnant at the time, begged her to go out dancing. Cheryl agreed, so they went to Denver and wound up at a rough 3.2 bar, since 18-year-olds could buy 3.2 beer at the time. There, Sam approached Cheryl and asked her to dance. Cheryl refused unless he danced with her pregnant friend first. He obliged, and from that night on, Cheryl and Sam were inseparable. When the two brought up the idea of marriage less than two months later, neither of their families supported the idea. At the time, the proposed union of the teenagers was considered a “mixed marriage.” Sam was even kicked out of his house and forced to stay at the YMCA. Despite the resistance, they wed in 1965, six weeks after they met.

Early on, the two had no money. They hopped from house to house in North Denver, one of their first being a dumpy little two-story house built behind someone else’s lot on Perry Street. Cheryl was always pregnant, so they had to keep moving as they outgrew houses. By the time they found themselves at the house at 3934 Tejon Street, they already had seven-year-old Randy, five-year-old Julia, three-year-old Jenn, and a fourth child on the way. St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, the family’s parish, was down the street from their modest house. Nearby was the fire station and the police station. Police helicopters flew over the neighborhood at all hours of the night, shining their spotlights through the windows in tireless searches. A bar or liquor store could be found on practically every block. Cheryl did not fit into the neighborhood. A fair-skinned, red-haired Norwegian girl with a middle-class background stood out, and the neighbors were suspicious of her until they met Sam.

Sava 10

Christine Franck | Flickr.com

Across 38th Avenue, a busy thoroughfare, was the neighborhood elementary school, Bryant Webster, where Julia and Randy went to school when they were not being bussed to Gust Elementary School. Being Hispanic students in the 1970s, Julia and Randy were sent to a white school across town for half of the day as a result of Denver’s attempt to increase diversity and level the playing field for minority students. Although they were considered Hispanic, the kids did not fit into any category. Being half white and half Hispanic, Randy and Julia were stuck between two worlds. Cheryl cringed when her children returned home to tell stories of how they were called “honky” at Bryant Webster because they had a white mother and how, at Gust, they were referred to as “beaners” because their skin was brown. Fuming on the inside, Cheryl comforted Julia and Randy, explaining to them that those were not nice words and that they should not use them to refer to other people.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones,” she would remind them. “But words will never hurt me.”

My beautiful picture

Paul, Randy, Julia, and Jennifer in their Tejon house, 1975.

∗  ∗  ∗

Cheryl peered anxiously through the window, watching the sidewalk as the sunlight began to recede. Behind her, one of the babies began to cry, pulling her attention from the glass. She crossed the living room of the small house on Tejon Street, leaving her perch to check on her babies.

She took turns watching the front walk and working on dinner. Finally, she heard the shuffling footsteps of two kids on the front porch and opened the door to find Julia there with a neighbor boy. She was tired from chasing her toddlers around all day. Her fatigue was compounded by frustration when she noticed that the sun had mostly set and the city street was getting darker and darker. She thanked the neighbor boy who walked Julia from the bus stop each night and gave him some change just as Sam’s car pulled into the drive. Sam was coming home from his job at the Department of Transportation to have dinner with his family and rest for a bit before leaving to go to his second job as a valet at a country club. Now that everyone had made it home, Cheryl could serve dinner.

The concerns Cheryl had about her daughter’s safety and her difficult school day were not alleviated as she watched Julia struggle to keep her eyes open during dinner. Cheryl questioned why her kids had to be bussed forty-five minutes to a different school every day. Randy and Julia were not even on the same bus schedule. Originally, both kids went to Bryant Webster in the morning and Gust in the afternoon, but when Randy hit third grade, he was forced to change his schedule. While Randy went in the mornings, Julia went in the afternoons, and so he was not there to walk her home at night.

After cleaning up after the meal, Cheryl went to the living room, where Sam was resting. Suddenly, she vented. “How much good can they be doing these kids when they drop first-grade girls off at a bus stop two blocks away from their home at night?”

“Cher… .”

“I mean, think about it. They lose at least an hour every day. Julia is only six! Thank goodness there is that neighbor boy to walk her home.”

“I suppose they think they are doing them a service. I mean, they mix in all the students from the other school, so maybe they are getting a better experience. More diversity.”

“I hardly think they are getting anything out of this. Heck, I wouldn’t want to be going to either school! You wouldn’t believe what it’s like in Bryant Webster, Sam. It’s terrible. I saw it back when I visited Randy’s second-grade class. Some kids don’t even have shoes to wear!”

“What do you want me to say? Schools are falling apart around us, Cher, and the kids are taking the brunt of it. There are no other options, not since the redistricting from desegregation made us leave Smedly.”

“I still can’t believe they made us leave that school. Now the kids have to cross 38th with all that traffic just to get to school. It is so dangerous! That court order completely turned these kids’ life upside down. I just don’t know what to do. How are they supposed to make friends? At which school will they have a chance to play with the other kids? I just don’t think it’s good for them. Especially for Julia. She is so young and so smart. I don’t want her miss out on anything… .”

My beautiful picture

Julia, Paul, and Jennifer, 1974.

∗  ∗  ∗

At the start of desegregation, the schools needed to accommodate the new students, which required much preparation and training to explain new policies and ensure that they were properly applied. The school board used volunteer parent monitors to make sure that students were accepted into their new classrooms and treated equally by the school. The request made by the Parent Teacher Association for a representative for the Hispanic students was not one that Cheryl could comfortably turn down. She had already headed an effort to restart the PTA at Smedly Elementary, where Randy went before the redistricting. That challenging project made her well aware of the inner workings of the schools and all the help they needed.

EPSON MFP image

Cheryl’s PTA portrait

Like her children, Cheryl went downtown to a new school. Monitors were not allowed to volunteer at their neighborhood institutions, so she was assigned to a poor school that was close to the low-income housing projects near Colfax Avenue and Federal Boulevard. As the acting representative of the Hispanic population at the school, she had to drive there once a month. She observed everything intently, including classes and teacher performances, and filled out special rubrics that were filed at North High School. Cheryl was frustrated by the limitations of her position. As an unwanted visitor, Cheryl knew she could not see what the school was really like day to day. She suspected that teachers and students were on their best behavior during the monthly visits, and she did not have the chance to understand the true climate of the school. Try as she might, she could not get beyond the surface of the situation. Hispanic families were wary of her serving as their spokesperson, and with good reason. She was young and white, and she could not relate to the experiences of the students she was supposed to represent. During her days at the school, she was made aware of the glaring differences between her schooling in a middle-class suburban neighborhood in New Jersey and the urban Denver school in which she found herself. In spite of all the training and preparation the monitor organization provided and her Spanish surname, she never felt as though she had the clout to honestly speak for the students she believed needed stronger support and a better learning environment. Nothing was more frustrating to a young activist dedicated to bettering her community than knowing that she could not really help.

She found herself in the same, uncomfortable in-between space her children occupied at school. She was too white to fit in with the Hispanics at the schools, yet she still had a Hispanic family and was a part of the community. Like Randy and Julia, she was often reminded that she did not belong. One day, she was sitting at the back of a classroom observing when she noticed the teacher’s assistant looking her over. When Cheryl looked back at her, the teacher’s assistant said something under her breath in Spanish that made Cheryl blush. She may not have spoken fluent Spanish, but Cheryl had spent enough time in the barrio to know when she was being called a nasty name.

She once said, “It was like being a fish out of water.”

∗  ∗  ∗

My beautiful picture

Julia with her Aunt Margie for her first Communion, 1974.

It only made sense that Cheryl would volunteer as an advocate in the schools. Cheryl converted to Catholicism when she married Sam and became fiercely loyal to her faith. The couple served the church community by being on the parish council, kick-starting and running the food bank, and taking donations to be deposited at the bank after mass on Sundays each week. Being a young, poor couple, they knew what hard work meant. They were constantly striving to create better conditions for their growing family.

Cheryl and Sam’s civic engagement also extended beyond the walls of the church; they became activists for their neighborhood. Idealistic and hardworking, Sam and Cheryl were active in every way possible. As they became leaders in their community, their house became a meeting place. Their political work predated the 26th Amendment that lowered the voting age, which meant that they were laboring for the Democratic Party in their part of the city before they could even vote. As their activism increased, they garnered attention as a motivated couple that was excited about the new forms of cultural and political empowerment emerging in a number of different communities. Their own community was in the midst of the Chicano Movement, which offered people a new opportunity for self-identification. Hispanics were tired of being mislabeled and assigned stereotypes. Community leaders were giving Chicanos and Chicanas a voice. Sam and Cheryl saw these leaders speaking from the pulpit of the neighborhood church asking for support such as food donations for migrant workers. As long as it wasn’t okra. They were sick and tired of okra.

Eventually, Cheryl and Sam were elected precinct captains, and they attended all important meetings in Denver. They became involved with policy writing and platform organizing. Their dedication had them traveling through the projects to pass out materials and brochures, all with their little ones following along. The campaigns they organized and contributed to even helped elect Pat Schroeder, the first Congresswoman from Colorado.

Despite positive political changes and momentum within their community, Cheryl and Sam found their neighborhood becoming less safe and less welcoming. Big changes were occurring in the house on Tejon Street. The family welcomed a fifth child, Noah, into the world in the fall of 1975. The house was proving to be too small. Julia, Randy, and Jennifer had to sleep in a room in the basement, while Paul and Noah slept together in a room upstairs near the master bedroom. They were outgrowing the house, and the state of the neighborhood was a heavy toll on them. Across the street was a halfway house, and the helicopters still kept them awake all night. Two blocks down, a law office that served the poor community had been blown up by a splinter group of anarchists whose graffiti littered the neighborhood declaring, “Free Kiki.” Even the family house was not immune from the dangers of the neighborhood.

On one occasion, Cheryl and Sam woke to Julia and Randy banging on their bedroom door early on a Saturday morning. As they drowsily answered their door, the kids excitedly whispered, “Mom. Dad. There is a strange man sleeping on our couch.” Confused and alarmed, Cheryl herded the kids into the bedroom as Sam grabbed a baseball bat to confront the intruder. A heavily drugged man awoke at the prodding of the wooden bat, unwilling to leave his place on the couch. Sam had to call the police. When the policeman arrived, he assumed that the drugged man was a friend who had stayed over after a wild party.

“That’s ridiculous!” Cheryl exclaimed. “You think we would throw a party here? And then call the police to get rid of the guests?”

After much convincing, the officer finally believed that the intruder was a stranger and that he needed to be removed. Cheryl and Sam found out later that there was no follow-up from the police because the intruder was convicted and imprisoned for murder.

My beautiful picture

Julia and Jennifer, Christmas 1976.

The fear and painful awareness left by that incident led Cheryl and Sam to realize that no matter what good they were doing in their community, they could not let their family pay the price by raising their children in a dangerous place. After spending more than an hour on the bus traveling between schools, and then coming home to an unsafe neighborhood, the children were going to struggle to thrive in school. Without the means to go to the private elementary school on the University of Denver campus, Julia would not be challenged enough academically. As long as she kept bouncing between Bryant Webster and Gust, she would have to make up the study time she missed while riding the bus. Bussing could not address the young students’ needs, and the family could no longer carry the burden placed on them.

Their decision to leave the city was affirmed by a visit from a close family friend and Catholic nun, Sister Jane. She sat them down and advised them that their place was not in the barrio. They had to continue God’s work by raising their children in a healthy environment. Cheryl soon realized that the visit from Sister Jane was a gift from God, and because of a promotion Sam received at work—a second blessing after Sister Jane’s advice—the family was moved to a safer neighborhood in the suburb of Westminster, Colorado.

∗  ∗  ∗

At the time, housing equity was still an equal rights issue, and developers needed to demonstrate diversity in new building projects. The Atencios were seen as the perfect way to show such diversity. The builder of the Countryside development eagerly welcomed them into their community. The company bought their house on Tejon Street, taking the impossible-to-sell property off of their hands and making it possible for them to put a down payment on a newly built house in the Fox Meadows neighborhood. The relief they felt in getting the house of their dreams outweighed any frustration they may have had in once again becoming the token minority. One night, before the official closing, the family took the keys to their new home and camped out on the floor. They all felt as though they were in a mansion. They roamed the four bedrooms, three bathrooms, and huge yard in which the kids could play freely. They prepared beds on the floor and lay down to sleep. They were struck by the calm that fell over the home at night and the stars they spied in the sky through the window—the same stars they had never been able to see in the heart of the city.

“Mom, mom, mom! Look at the sky! It’s so pretty! Is that what space looks like?”

“Yes, Julia. Those are constellations out there. See that one shaped like a spoon? That is the Big Dipper. Isn’t this lovely, Sam? I don’t think the kids even knew what stars were before!”

“It’s beautiful. There aren’t even street lamps out here. I feel like we moved to the country. It is too quiet though. How are we supposed to sleep with all this quiet?”

“I can’t get over how much space there is either. And did you see all the neighborhood kids out playing today? They looked like they were our kids’ ages. It is so nice to see kids out in the neighborhood.”

“I bet they probably know some good babysitters too.”

Cheryl chuckled. “You’re right. I can’t wait to invite all of the parents over for drinks. You know, I bet there are a lot of young families out here. With the kids and all. And they have a neighborhood pool. Oh, Randy, Julia, Jenn, and Paul are going to love that. And Noah, too, once he is bigger.”

“It’ll be great. I can already tell.”

Of course, money was still an issue. They had to scrape it together where they could, not wasting anything. Every drop of gas was precious. Shower time had to be provisioned among the seven of them, with close attention to the use of hot water. Julia still could not attend advanced math classes because there was no way to travel to a different school every afternoon. Nonetheless, they weren’t fretting the challenges ahead of them just yet: their budget, the long commutes to work, and Randy’s appointments at the Colorado Hearing and Speech Center in Southeast Denver. Rather, they all anticipated that spring, when they would be fully moved into their new home in the suburbs, where Randy, Julia, Jennifer, Paul, Noah, and eventually Jill and Haileigh would be able to play and explore in the yard and throughout the neighborhood with the other kids.

Life was bound to change, and a family that was used to growing pains knew that it was part of the deal. Their Hispanic friends and neighbors from Tejon, with whom they would play cards and drink beer on weekends, stopped visiting. Cheryl worried that her friends believed that the family had sold out by moving to the suburbs. Of course, they still came for baptisms, communions, and other important family parties, but it was just not the same. Cheryl and Sam also found a huge difference in community activism. In the city, anyone with an interest and a willingness to work was accepted to the cause and could quickly climb the ladder. Out in the suburbs, there were fewer organizations, and involvement was more competitive because everyone wanted to give their free time to volunteer in the schools, churches, and food banks. Cheryl and Sam’s political life changed as well. Two of the most adamant young Democrats in North Denver left the party in the wake of the Roe v. Wade court ruling, when they were told that they were not true Democrats if they did not believe in abortion. Their faith led them to be shut out, and they were forced to adapt once more.

After adjusting to a hectic urban life, Cheryl found returning to the suburbs truly bizarre. It took a while to get used to the free time; however, she soon learned to embrace her new lifestyle as a stay-at-home mom like all the other moms in the neighborhood. They had a babysitting co-op, and Cheryl and Sam and their kids all found friends their own age. It was dreamlike for Cheryl—an extended vacation from the hardship and need she had witnessed in Denver. The family became outside observers of the transformations happening in the city, experiencing it all from a commuter’s distance.

EPSON MFP image

Countryside neighborhood

∗  ∗  ∗

Today, my grandmother, Cheryl Atencio, is still passionate and spirited. She is a loving matriarch. She leads her large family of seven children and thirteen grandchildren and our combination of fair-skinned redheads and olive-skinned, dark-haired cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. In Countryside, our family is still growing and changing: some kids leaving, some moving back, and now some grandchildren growing up in that very same neighborhood. For us grandkids, we have always known that we belong together, and the idea that we all came from a mixed marriage would never have occurred to us. However, my mom, Julia, and my grandma still take occasional trips to Denver, which bring back memories of those tumultuous times and give them an awareness of the many changes their communities have undergone.

∗  ∗  ∗

Cheryl gasped. “Julia, Julia, slow down. Do you remember when we used to live here on Perry Street? Probably not. We lived in that house behind someone’s back yard, behind their plot. It was before the house on Tejon. Goodness, do you see that house? It is huge! I have never seen such a large house on Perry Street before. But, you know, even down at the Sunnyside projects they are tearing down the plots and building an up-and-coming neighborhood.”

“Wow. Look, it’s for sale. Let’s stop and grab a flyer. Maybe they have an open house, too.”

“Oh, do you think Maggie will be upset if we are late to pick her up? It is almost noon.”

“Nah, she won’t care. She has things to do on campus anyway. Let’s take a look. They must have torn down one of the old houses. I think this new one takes up two of the original plots.”

“You know, your dad wrote a grant once to tear down some of the dilapidated houses. He wanted to use the space for the whole community, though. Maybe a community garden or playground or something. He just wanted to open up more space for everyone. It was so cramped here, you wouldn’t believe it.”

“That must have been a long time ago. I don’t think I remember that.”

“It might have been before you were born. Or you could have been a toddler.”

“I wish I remembered that. What I do remember is taking the bus for what seemed like forever. That was terrible. You know, Maggie still jokes about how I can’t spell some words. One time, she asked how to spell “squirrel,” and I just said, ‘squa-errl.’ It’s too bad I missed all those phonics lessons.”

Cheryl paused. “Yeah, that was a crazy time for us. At least we had the chance to move. I mean, the time to do those things is when you are young. Things get complicated as you get older. Do as much as you can when you have the energy and the time. That’s what I say.”

Images provided by author.


A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR
When I received the assignment to write a historical narrative for my Honors Writing and Rhetoric course: Human Rights, Humans Write, I dove into the most human histories that I knew: those of my family. Perhaps it was an excuse to explore the stories that were shared around the table at family dinners. Nonetheless, I discovered the importance of the small stories contained in our individual lives and how they open up pathways into our shared history.

I will admit that there were some self-indulgent motivations behind this piece. In the name of research, I was able to interview my grandmother and discover details about her life I had not heard before. I called her on the phone, emailed her, and spent time at her house cooking with her. I was given special access to her collection of family photos and newspaper clippings, and through these I was able to share in the experiences of my family.

Beyond a new appreciation for all the experiences and hard work of my grandparents, my greatest take-away from this process is that there is no such thing as a mundane life. No person’s story is too “ordinary.” The amazing narratives of history are lived out in the everyday lives of normal people. From this, I learned that you can never know someone too well. As you delve further into the details of someone’s history, you start to find important novelties. It took me 19 years to fully uncover this part of my family’s past, and I am well aware that there is so much more to discover in their stories. I hope to carry these lessons with me, and I believe that these messages are at the core of my work as a student, reader, and writer.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sava bioMaggie Sava is a sophomore studying English and Art History in the class of 2018. She is from Westminster, Colorado. She enjoys reading, fashion, tennis, museums, art, and road trips. Maggie is also a huge fan of Fall Out Boy and tried to go see them at Magness Arena for her first concert. Unfortunately, she got sick just before the show, and although she insisted on going and convinced her mom she felt fine, she only made it long it enough to see the Plain White T’s. Maggie ended up going to the hospital, where she discovered that she had appendicitis and went into emergency surgery at 1am. She lived but has still, regrettably, never seen Fall Out Boy in concert.

Recipe for Mom’s Chocolate Cake

 

by Olivia Hayes
WRIT 1622: Re-Reading and Re-Writing Culture | Professor LP Picard

Mom’s Chocolate Cake
2 cups sugar
1 cup self-deprecation

DARK COLORS ARE VERY SLIMMING

Hayes 7

Inara Prusakova | Shutterstock.com

I had my first boyfriend during my junior year of high school. I had been going to school with him since kindergarten, as was the case with most of the kids in my class of 100 students. He had never shown any interest in me until Homecoming of junior year. I had just gotten a tiny new navy blue dress to go with my tiny new body. I had been running cross-country that year, and after being the last to finish after two races, I started “kicking it into gear,” as my coach would say. I changed my diet and ran a little extra after practice; inevitably, I lost forty pounds in three months. As a result, that navy blue dress bumped me up an entire rung on the social ladder. I was no longer an “in-betweener.” Instead of being the girl that the boyfriends of my really pretty friends simply got along with, I was considered one of the pretty friends. All of a sudden, I sat next to Garrett Lowe (the second cutest guy in school) at lunch, and I stood in the second row during football games, right behind the senior it-girls.

No, this wasn’t like in a romantic comedy when the invisible girl takes off her glasses and swings her hair around in slow motion with a soft light around her, everyone stopping to watch her. No. Because I was there all along, they saw me. I had established a role as a funny-almost-cute girl that everyone knew but never asked to dance. I was always there, as a stock character in a high school drama, but now I was in a leading role.

The fantasy didn’t last forever, like it usually does in the high-school type romantic comedies that I wished I were in. The end of senior year brought freedom and heartbreak, as well as a busy schedule. The unconditional love I thought I was in showed its true colors, and my fragile, naïve teenage mind was not equipped for such a blow. Cross-country ended, and I replaced the exercise with locking myself in my room, writing paper after paper for college applications, going through bag after bag of chips—thus commencing another round of self-hatred and embarrassment. How had I allowed myself to fall back into old habits? I was horrified that my transformation wasn’t permanent, and even more afraid of the thought of returning to a role that is now called, thanks to Hollywood, the Designated Ugly Fat Friend (DUFF). My self-worth had become completely and exclusively defined by my appearance.

¾ cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
½ cup guilt

STAY HUMBLE
The dilemma we face is that a cycle of negativity and body shaming is never-ending. The evidence is everywhere—from social media to classrooms to advertisements. In a recent social experiment on Tinder, an eighteen-year-old girl replied to compliments by agreeing with them (Warren). For example, if a man said that she was gorgeous, she responded by saying, “I know,” or “Yes I am, thank you.” Almost every time she replied by agreeing, the man immediately modified his compliment or replied with a rude comment. They called her “vain,” “full of herself,” even a “bitch.” It seems that a man can compliment a woman or call her beautiful, but the second she agrees with him and sees herself positively, she is scorned and rejected. This is also seen when women compliment each other. I actually can’t remember the last time I accepted a compliment without reservations or qualifications. Someone might say that they loved my legs, and I would respond by saying, “Oh thanks, they are too muscular, and my thighs never look good in jeans.” Or they might tell me that they love my hair, and I would retort with a comment on how difficult it was to tame, or how I wished it were lighter.

A study done at the University of Pennsylvania showed that 45% of women who were given compliments rejected those compliments (Han). Only 20% accepted the compliment, and the other 35% evaded the compliment altogether. As reported by Diane Mapes at Today, a psychology professor at Northwestern University, Renee Engeln, says that women are taught to love themselves, but not too much. According to Engeln, we are expected to exude confidence yet, in our actual verbal interactions, act humble. She says that we live in a culture in which women are discouraged from being confident, as confidence comes off as arrogant and even unfeminine. As young girls mature, they are exposed to more and more women who exemplify and manifest their hatred of their own bodies. Girls learn very early that it is socially acceptable and actually standard to ridicule themselves. They are told by women around them and by societal norms that they shouldn’t acknowledge their worth.

1 cup milk
¾ cup rejection

TERMS OF ENDEARMENT
Here are some things I’ve heard from important people in my life:

  • “You have a really pretty face.”
  • “Cuddling with you is so great. I hate cuddling with skinny girls.”
  • “I don’t understand what’s so hard, like, just work out more.”
  • “You look so skinny, so pretty.”
  • “It’s so weird that Soph is so small. Are you sure she’s your sister?”
  • “When was the last time you worked out?”
  • “You know what they say, ‘Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.’ I’m sure you’ll understand that in the future.”
  • “I don’t think you should be looking for a boyfriend right now. I wouldn’t want you to get your heart broken because he doesn’t like you.”

2 eggs
1 teaspoon self-disgust

THINK LOVELY THOUGHTS
Young girls are particularly influenced by what people around them say and do in relation to their appearance. A study by Gleason, Alexander, and Somers shows just how important the things women hear are to their future self-image. These scholars analyzed how three different types of teasing correlate to a child’s body image during adolescence. They found that girls who were teased are much more likely to have a negative body image later on in life than their male counterparts. They also found that girls’ body image was significantly more negative if they were teased in any of the three manners studied. These three types of teasing were defined as teasing about appearance, teasing about weight, and teasing about competence. The results showed that women equate competence, appearance, and self-esteem with body image and that teasing leads to horrifying results: 81% of girls had dieted by the age of 10. Young girls are taught that their body is a measure of their worth and that in order to be competent young women, they need to change their bodies.

Hayes 6

Orla | Shutterstock.com

Unfortunately, this never goes away. In a study performed by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, 91% of women were unsatisfied with their bodies and had taken action to change. Of these women, 75% had some type of eating disorder. When we think of an eating disorder, we usually envision the much recognized anorexia and bulimia. However, only 10% of women with an eating disorder suffer from either of these. An eating disorder is any of a range of psychological disorders that is characterized by abnormal or disruptive eating habits. What most women experience is an unhealthy relationship with food. They might count calories incessantly, have feelings of massive guilt, or have an unnecessary abundance of food-related conversations. All of these are signs of an eating disorder. This also means that

  • 91% of women feel insignificant and incompetent because of their body;
  • 91% of women have destructive thought patterns; and
  • 91% of women walk around the mall wondering if people notice how large their thighs are or if people are looking at their minor double chin, just like I do.

1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon insecurity

SEX SELLS
The media consistently infiltrates the minds of young girls with images and ideas of what a woman should look like. Women are expected to be thin and tall and have large breasts, smooth skin, big lips, full eyelashes, and long legs. When a woman doesn’t match these specific guidelines, they are treated as inferior to the women who do have these attributes. Magazine advertisements are a great example of this. Advertisements in men’s magazines generally show sexually attractive women who are skinny, busty, long, and glowing. Sex is selling the product. However, in women’s magazines, we do not see pages upon pages of images of chiseled men in articles, advertisements, or essays. Instead, we see the same images of stick-thin models with large breasts and big butts. Sex isn’t selling the product to women. Women’s desires are selling the product. We have created a culture in which women are so obsessed with appearance that the beauty of other women acts as a motivating device. We aspire to be like the women in magazines, and we want men to desire us as much as they do these golden girls.

Hayes 2

Oleg Gekman | Shutterstock.com

One of the most disturbing things about the media’s definition of beauty is how it gives a one-dimensional representation of women. Advertisements like the GoDaddy commercials allow women to become commodities to be obtained. These commercials depict women who are, by American standards, exceptionally beautiful. In one particular GoDaddy ad, the woman in the commercial is referred to only as a “GoDaddy girl.” She is never named, and she has no speaking lines. However, she does have plump lips covered in red lipstick and a practically see-through white shirt that covers a fraction of her torso. Across the chest, the shirt reads: “GoDaddy.com.” Without knowing the context of the commercial, one might think that it is an advertisement for a pornography website or some sort of company that sells sex. However, GoDaddy sells Internet domain names: although these have absolutely nothing to do with sex or the female body,  the GoDaddy advertisement suggests that a woman’s value is measured by her body.

1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon scrutiny

MOTHER KNOWS BEST
My mom is five feet tall. She has a tiny build, and she’s one of the only people I know who can fit into petite sizing almost perfectly. She’s a runner. She runs marathons, half-marathons, 5Ks, 10Ks, and she has participated in four triathlons. She goes to Crossfit every day for an hour in the morning, and for the rest of the day, she enlightens my family with a detailed description of her workout. As much as my mom emphasizes her health and fitness, her obsession and unhealthy relationship with food has set a precedent for the relationship I have with my body. At most meals I eat with my mom, there is a discussion of the amount of nutritional benefit in the meal and maybe a comment about serving size or calorie amount. There is usually some questioning of whether or not I should eat bread or if I should substitute the broccoli for the mashed potatoes. Every meal, every conversation revolves around weight, food, and exercise. The last time I was home, the four members of my family sat down for a spaghetti dinner. Only three of us ate spaghetti. My dear mother had a giant mound of kale drenched in spaghetti sauce. I absolutely admire my mother’s ability to take her health and wellbeing into her own hands; however, it becomes a problem when I am constantly infiltrated by ideas about what a perfect body, meal, or workout is. I understand that her issues are just as significant as mine, but the wall of insecurity is the only obstacle in our otherwise strong relationship.

1 cup flour
1 cup conformity

Hayes 9.jpg

Pixelbliss | Shutterstock.com

WHAT A BOY WANTS
This obsession with physical appearance goes far beyond a relationship with food, exercise, and being thin. Women change their bodies to conform to society’s “rules,” and this is not a new phenomenon. For thousands of years in China, women bound their feet to adhere to the standards of beauty defined by their culture. This consisted of breaking bones in the feet of young girls and then wrapping their feet in tightly bound shoes or bandages. Girls were expected to bind their feet between the ages of four and six, when their bones were still considered soft. The “ideal” length of a woman’s foot, after breaking and bending, was three inches. This intense ritual and procedure often caused painful and dangerous infections. In many cases, and without modern technology, these infections led to death. Foot binding was a means for a woman to get a husband in a higher class. Men were said to enjoy smaller feet, as they made a woman look as if she could dance lightly on lotuses. It was a sign of vulnerability, softness, and femininity.

In the African country of Mauritania, women are considered to be more desirable as they gain weight. Before marriage, beginning with pre-adolescence, women and girls are force-fed. “Leblouh,” the word used to describe this forced-feeding, is a necessary tradition for a woman to find a husband. Women are considered to be from wealthier families if they weigh more. In Mauritanian women, force-feeding and the side effects of obesity can cause death. While this practice seems foreign to us in our world, one enveloped by thinness, the excessive eating in Mauritania is comparable to our excessive starving in the US. This unhealthy and even dangerous practice is yet another manifestation of the female body as a commodity. Regardless of whether a woman lives in China, Mauritania, or the US, her worth is constantly being equated with her body, which creates self-destructive habits.

1 cup butter
1 cup self-loathing

CASTING SHADOWS
Unfortunately, like many other girls, I learned very early on that I shouldn’t accept my body. I was surrounded by women who didn’t love themselves the way they should. I was taught that the extra rolls or jiggles that I carried with me were not what a proper woman should have. I understood that I should be concentrating on my appearance at all times.

As I walk through campus, I can’t help but imagine the thoughts of the people around me. If I get even a glance from someone, I assume they are directing their eyes at my chubby cheeks or the less than flawless stomach hidden under my t-shirt. In the dining hall, I am constantly analyzing and comparing my choices to those of my friends or the thin girls in the corner. In relationships, including the one serious relationship that I have had, my own self-doubt and loathing has caused me to hesitate. I am always on edge. I know that the dissatisfaction I have with my body is the result of a society obsessed with appearance, but that doesn’t make it feel any less real or any less hurtful. The deep-seated notion that thinness equals love, acceptance, intelligence, and aptitude follows me everywhere, a looming shadow.

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kyrzhov | Shutterstock.com

Featured Image © De Visu | Shutterstock.com


A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR
Throughout my life, I have struggled with body image. In my first year at DU, college proved to be an even more difficult environment to feel comfortable in my own skin. Joining a sorority, being introduced to a slew of new people who were judging me for the first time, and trying to reinvent myself made for a pretty harsh result. When my WRIT professor offered an assignment that gave us free-reign to write about something that touched us personally (and would also have some meaning to the public), I couldn’t think of a more fitting topic than my struggle with body image.

For the entirety of my childhood and adolescence, my mom has been both my adversary and my coach in my battle for self-confidence. I wrote this piece at a time when I was having to deal with all of this on my own for the first time. Being without her added a whole new set of challenges and an opportunity to gain independence. It was difficult, but I learned a lot by writing this piece.

One of the biggest challenges I had in writing this was becoming comfortable with publicizing my biggest insecurity and vulnerability. I think it has helped people from different areas of my life to be able to read this and learn more about me; and it has helped me to regard the subject as less of a taboo. What I really hope to pass on to readers from this paper is the little bit of comfort I obtained from writing it. I hope some can relate and others can build an understanding and appreciation for the constant struggle that some of us face.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hayes bioOlivia Hayes is a sophomore from Glenwood Springs, Colorado, majoring in public policy and sociology. She is a PR Director for the Roosevelt Institute, a public policy club, and enjoys skiing and playing soccer. She also loves Kid President and Kanye West, although she knows they are two very different people with two very different views of the world. Her favorite quotes are these words of wisdom from Kid President and Kanye: “It is everybody’s duty to give the world a reason to dance” (Kid President); and “Believe in your flyness” (Kanye).


WORKS CONSULTED

“11 Facts About Body Image.” Do Something.org. Do.something.org, 2014. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.

Gleason, Jamie H., Amy M. Alexander, and Cheryl L. Somers. “Later Adolescents’ Reactions to Three Types of Childhood Teasing: Relations with Self-Esteem and Body Image.” Social Behavior and Personality 28.5 (2000): 471–79. Print.

Han, Chung-hye. “A Comparative Study of Compliment Responses: Korean Females in Korean Interactions and in English Interactions.” Working Papers in Educational Linguistics 8.2 (1992): 17–31. Print.

Mapes, Diane. “Why Women are Terrible at Accepting Compliments.” TODAY Health & Wellness. NBC, 1 Jul. 2013. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.

Strochlic, Nina. “China’s Last Foot-Binding Survivors.” The Daily Beast. The Daily Beast, 2 July 2014. Web. 22 Nov. 2015.

Warren, Rossalyn. “This is What Happens When Women Actually Accept a Compliment from a Man Online.” BuzzFeed. Buzzfeed, 1 Jan. 2015. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.

Wedoud, Mohamed Yahya Abdel. “Women Fight Mauritania’s Fattening Tradition.” CNN. Turner Broadcasting System,  12 Oct. 2010. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.

 

 

An Orchestra of Many: How the Colorado Symphony Stays in Tune with the Times

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by Brian Casey Goetzinger
WRIT 1133: Writing and Research | Professor Brad Benz

When I was in the third grade, I played violin in my first orchestral concert. The riveting program consisted of such masterpieces as “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas,” “Up On the Rooftop,” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” I’d never felt such elation and excitement before. Sure, our intonation was a bit sharp, and we weren’t perfectly together, but playing as a group and creating beautiful music out of thin air was thrilling. Though we weren’t playing Beethoven or Tchaikovsky, I was smitten. I knew that music was going to be something I’d want to pursue for the rest of my life.

As I matured, I played in more and more concerts with orchestras somewhat better than in third grade and went to as many symphony concerts as I could. Going from concert to concert allowed me to experience many different orchestras and start determining what makes an orchestra fabulous and what makes an orchestra slightly meh. I’ve found that it’s the togetherness of the players, the variance of colors and timbres they produce, and, more than anything, the emotional wallop they manage to strike with audiences.

Under those criteria, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra (CSO) is without a doubt one of the greatest symphonies in the US. They play perfectly in tandem, they’ve got a color palate that would make Bob Ross envious, and they’ve walloped me on more occasions than I can count. The CSO, along with almost every other American symphony orchestra, requires dedication to survive and reach its creative and artistic goals—dedication on behalf of its musicians, its donors, and, most importantly, its audiences. This dedication isn’t always easy. Performers have to spend countless hours honing their craft to be offered a position with the CSO. Donors have to dig deep in their pocketbooks to ensure the continued survival of this musical tradition. Audiences have to decide to spend money on tickets and to spend time to see the concerts. But there’s one consolation that the CSO offers to all three: it’s worth it.

11,000th HOUR: HOW DID THE CSO’s PLAYERS LAND THE JOB? HOW HARD WAS IT TO DO SO?
As a hopeful future orchestral musician myself, I found this question to be particularly interesting. In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell popularized the theory that any skill could be mastered with 10,000 hours of directed practice and referred to it as “the magic number of greatness.” Sure, 10,000 hours seems like an ample amount of time to become a master in any field when given in that giant lump sum. However, on closer inspection— and on a music major’s inspection—that simply doesn’t add up.

Consider this: an average collegiate music major practices three hours a day, six days a week. That amounts to sixty-four hours a month. Seven hundred sixty-eight hours a year. Given that math, it’d take thirteen years of playing to become a master. As a dutiful violinist of twelve years, I’ve put in my fair share of daily hourly practice, and I know I’m nowhere near the mammoth musical and technical abilities required to win a job. I wager that most of my colleagues agree.

“I know it’s going to be a while before I play with an orchestra like the CSO,” said Matt, a fellow violinist at the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music. “Auditions stress me out. Everyone in school for this all across the world wants the same thing, and there’s only, what—twenty jobs available? Twenty jobs and thousands and thousands of applicants. It’s like the Oscars, only worse. You get paid less.”

Emily, a graduate of the University of Southern California in flute performance, is now living in the daunting world of orchestral auditions. She’s currently auditioning for a position in the South Dakota Symphony and has just passed the résumé round, the only round that can be likened to a regular job interview. The symphony board peruses résumés and throws out any candidate lacking orchestral or performing experience or a slew of awards, scholarships, and appropriate teaching background.

I ask Emily if she’s excited and ready for the audition. “Excited, yes. Ready, God no. There’s only so much practicing you can do before you just wing it and hope for the best.” Given the combination of nerves that creep up in any audition room, she’s not totally wrong. Hands get sweaty. Bodies get shaky. Heartbeats pound. Self-doubt gets magnified to the nth degree. It’s awfully hard to play perfectly and keep absolute rhythmic accuracy under those conditions.

One person who was able to control all this and receive the best possible outcome was Basil Vendryes, the CSO’s current principal violist.

Basil completed his undergraduate studies on the viola at the Eastman School of Music. As a sophomore at Eastman, he landed a position with the Rochester Philharmonic. The musical equivalent of Meryl Streep, Basil casually talks of going from Rochester to the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, to the New York Philharmonic, and then to the CSO. Any aspiring young musician knows how globally well-respected these symphony orchestras are and how extremely difficult it is to land a position with them without mammoth determination and talent. Basil is so good, however, he makes it seem easy.

He came to the CSO over twenty years ago, accepting the position of principal (or first chair) viola, one of the highest-ranking positions within the orchestra. Because the CSO ranks as one of the best orchestras in the US, his principal position is all the more impressive.

I ask him about the audition process.

“Well, it was trying. There were very high-level players only. Your playing must display a forthright personality.”

Auditions are like job interviews, only if the pitch of your voice is a millimeter too high, you’re yelled at to stop. Or if the rhythm of your words is a millisecond off, they clap behind a screen and say, “THANKS FOR COMING.

Positions in orchestras like the ones that Basil has played with pop up extremely rarely. Hundreds of players show up, ready to do battle for the coveted job. This competitiveness means that everyone is exceedingly well prepared, and their audition materials are virtually flawless.

“Certainly, there was a lot of talent there, and I suppose a degree of pressure,” Basil says. Ultimately, though, his audition combined the technical perfection required with a certain forthrightness and, let’s admit, the je ne sais quoi that the audition panel was looking for. He won the job.

It’s not always a straight path from music student to performer. Certainly, Matt and Emily exemplify the dedication and drive required to eventually be considered for a symphony like the CSO. But along his path to first chair at the CSO, Basil has had to rely on more than just practice and drive. There were also immense personal and financial costs. He paid airfare to attend auditions. He had to account for the loss of free time as a result of practicing. The physical drain that comes from performing. The emotional toll of losing an audition.

There is also the cost of buying an instrument, which can range anywhere from $15,000 to $500,000 or more. Basil plays on a viola made in 1887 by Carlo Cerruti, and comparable violas for sale at Robertson and Sons, one of the preeminent luthier shops in the US, start at $100,000. The list price isn’t even given, as only extremely dedicated and talented players inquire.

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DeshaCAM | Shutterstock.com

HITTING A LOW NOTE
It is no secret that American symphony orchestras have been through the ringer. The recent recession has stretched symphonic survival to its breaking point. “As people make less and things get more expensive, they get more frugal with their disposable income and entertainment dollars,” Basil explains. Several highly esteemed symphonies have been forced into bankruptcy—the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, Louisville Symphony, and Syracuse Symphony, to name a few.

And the CSO was very near joining the list as well.

In an article published in Coloradobiz, journalist Cathie Beck states, “In summer 2011, the CSO came close to extinction. With $1.2 million in debt, a cash reserve of $16,000, and a deficit of $650,000, the symphony’s financial crisis provoked an emergency committee meeting.” The meeting determined that if the CSO didn’t restructure its finances, it would face “a high probability of demise within the next two years.” This crisis led to the hiring of a new CEO, Gene Sobczak, who had recently led the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra out of a similar bind.

It also led to a 14% pay cut.

This chart, compiled from the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM), shows base symphony salaries from 2008–2011 (see figure 1). Note the drastic pay cuts to the CSO, which marked a terrifying turning point in the orchestra’s 25-year lifespan.

It takes a certain kind of commitment to your craft and community to take a $6,000 pay cut from an already low-starting salary, but the players’ dedication to both the music and the audience won out. CSO bassist and Lamont faculty member Susan Cahill had this to say about the 2011 pay cuts: “There is a long road yet to sustainability, but we the musicians believe we made huge sacrifices along the way to ensure that Colorado has a top-rated, world-class, full-time professional symphony orchestra.”

Goetzinger chart

PROGRAMMING FOR THE PEOPLE
In an article from the Journal of Cultural Economics, Jonathan Munn and Lawrence Tamburri describe in detail the various methods of funding American symphony orchestras, saying, “Orchestras have four principle sources of revenue as follows: earned income, private contributions, endowment funds, and government support.” With government subsidies being cut left and right during the recession, it’s no surprise that orchestras relied on alternative sources of income to make it out on the other end.

Creative programming to bring in audiences became one such source. And yet, an orchestra’s repertoire is also its main literature, its bread and butter. It is what the players spend hours practicing and what the audience hopefully spends its money on. Audience members often have strong preferences towards specific pieces, composers, and types of music, and this partiality is what gets them to the hall. Think about it this way—most wouldn’t show up to a Taylor Swift concert if they were expecting her to sing only KISS songs. They go with an expectation of what they’re going to hear. Similarly, the CSO is able to attract Brahms fans, Broadway enthusiasts, and contemporary music lovers alike by programming different types of music to appeal to everyone.

The Standard Repertoire Index (SRI) shows that a certain group of composers—including Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and Dvorak—dominate the concert halls year after year. Much like “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas,” these pieces are all so familiar with American audiences that they’ve entered the next level of musical recognition: the subconscious. Even by simply reading bum-bum-bum-BUUUUUM, bum-bum-bum-BUUUUUUUM, they can hear the opening of Beethoven’s 5th in their heads. But do audiences want something else?

Musicologist Tina K. Ramnarine further unpacks the tightrope between audience expectation and orchestral reality in her article “The Orchestration of Civil Society.” She says, “In an era in which the social relevance of the institution has come into question, orchestras are addressing charges of elitism and shaping agendas in everyday attempts to provide access, foster community, and promote innovative programs.” The CSO faces the problem that many orchestras face: program more adventurous new music and lose old, tested and true audiences, or continue programming old and established—and some would classify, as Ramnarine, “elitist”—pieces and risk not attracting new audiences.

Basil explains:

When you talk about the differences between the NY Phil or the San Francisco Symphony and the CSO, I daresay our orchestra is potentially the most diverse, flexible orchestra in the United States. Most of those orchestras do not do the varied amount of repertoire or genre that we do so often. It really is a testament to my colleagues.

Playing new genres of orchestral repertoire each week speaks to the diversity of patronage attracted by the CSO and the diversity of their musical tastes. “We try and appeal to everybody. We try to—on a very slim budget—find ways to accommodate all the different kinds of patrons so we satisfy our audience, and they will support us in kind.”

And so the CSO has had to find ways to attract not only big donors, but an increasingly diverse group of donors too. This new group is the kind that the CSO has targeted with recent cannabis-friendly programs and private fundraisers: the liberal millennial. In his article “Debussy, Wine, and B.Y.O.M.,” Jack Healy discusses the relaxed mood at a 2014 fundraiser for the CSO, describing how people would “toke up outside” and listen to music inside. Evan Lasky, the CSO’s chief operating officer, downplayed the move, saying that, “For us, it’s just another fundraiser.”

Basil, who also sits on the CSO’s Board of Trustees, knows first-hand the necessity of large-scale donors and benefactors to the survival of the orchestra. “We have events that we bring them to, we might offer perks—if you give this much money, you get a backstage pass to visit Yo-Yo Ma. But when I give money to the Cancer Society, it’s because I believe in the research. So we do what we can to give donors bang for their buck, but the biggest thing we can give them—especially from my chair—is the music.”

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Ultra 5280 | Flickr.com

YOU’RE UNDER THE BATON
The Denver community is lucky to have such an amazing orchestral institution so nearby playing such incredible and varied pieces on a weekly basis. When asked why he supports the CSO, aspiring violinist Matt said, “It’s a great cultural resource and one of the few events where you go, sit, listen, and learn without distractions or cell phones. Why wouldn’t you support a diverse organization that works together to deliver a superior product to inspire and inform people?” Flautist Emily added, “There’s something we need in music; it fulfills something that really nothing else can. I mean, it’s been around forever, and I can’t imagine dedicating my life to anything else.”

Playing in a symphony orchestra requires an immense amount of cooperation and teamwork. If you’re in an orchestra of a hundred players, and you are the one responsible for its success or failure, you feel a certain responsibility to live up to the expectations of those around you.

In a way, the orchestral performance is a microcosm for the survival of the symphony orchestra as a whole. A harmonious grouping of musicians, donors, and audiences is extremely vital to the continuation of the beautiful, centuries-old tradition of symphony orchestras, as participation in any of the roles activities requires immense dedication. The musicians are the string section, with their beautiful, lush, collective abilities on full display. The donors are the brass and woodwinds, individually supplementing the orchestra with solos and assured confidence of its success. The audience is the percussion, their thunderous applause mimicking snare drum rolls and timpani thuds.

And in a way, the audience is the backbone of the orchestra. Think about it: you attend the performance with the musicians, you dress just as fancily as they do when you go, you love the music, and you are just as necessary to the survival of the orchestra as the musicians are. Without you, who are we playing for? The conductor might as well give you the baton cues right with the orchestra, as you are just as important to this community out there in the dark concert hall as those he cues in the limelight. You just have a slightly easier audition process—and that’s simply buying a ticket.

Featured Image © Ultra 5280 | Flickr.com


A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR
I wrote this essay in response to a class assignment asking me to explore the value systems and practices of a subculture I was not directly involved in. My choice of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra seemed obvious, as I’m a violinist myself, and a bona fide mega-fan of the organization. I also felt that the world of orchestral playing can be enigmatic to those not directly involved with it—the monarchic relationship between the musicians and the conductor, the oligarchic relationship of the musicians amongst themselves, the codependency of musicians and the audience, and the ever-changing relationship between the musicians and the repertoire they play.

This essay also examines how an artistic organization can either thrive, adapt, or fail during times of economic stress, which opened my eyes to the CSO’s particularly compelling narrative during the recent recession. As a writer of mostly personal essays and anecdotes, I found this especially fun to write, as it allowed me to focus on something more disconnected from myself, all the while using my knowledge of orchestral performing as context.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Goetzinger bioBrian Casey Goetzinger is a first year graduate student from Rapid City, South Dakota. He enjoys reading, writing, violining, composing, amateur spelunking, and pacing. And, bonus: he’s ticklish.

Black Blood: Reckoning with Alaska’s Oil Dependency

 

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bikeriderlondon | Shutterstock.com

by Kengo Nagaoka
WRIT 1733: Honors Writing | Professor Doug Hesse

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline is the aorta of the state of Alaska. Eight hundred miles long and 48 inches wide, the steel artery stretches from the oilfields of Prudhoe Bay on the northernmost edge of the state down to the Valdez Marine Terminal on the southern coast of Alaska’s mainland. Inside, the pipeline’s thick black blood courses steadily southward, taking two weeks to travel from the Beaufort Sea to Prince William Sound, where it is piped into huge tankers and shipped to refineries on America’s west coast. Twelve pump stations, the “hearts,” push the blood as it crosses 34 major rivers and three mountain ranges on the journey through icy tundra, boreal forest, and temperate rainforest.1

The oil keeps Alaska alive, and Alaska loves it.

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Ann Glenn | Flickr.com

When I was a child, my parents would drive visitors 15 minutes from our home in Fairbanks to the pipeline. At this popular tourist spot, visitors would get out of the car and smile at the steel tube, read the placard about it, touch it, and take photos with it. It’s a monument, a place of pilgrimage, a living piece of Alaskan history. The pipeline gets its own section in all tourist pamphlets for Fairbanks.

There is little debate as to why it has so many fans. Completed in 1977 after three years of construction, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) was, at the time, the largest privately funded construction project in the world. Vigorous development was triggered after drillers found one of the most promising oil reserves in North America below Alaska’s North Slope in 1967.2 Workers swarmed to Fairbanks, a strategic place at the middle of the pipeline’s route. The construction of the pipeline itself involved over 70,000 people in a state that only had 348,000 people at the start of 1974, transforming a struggling gold rush state into a modern economic and scientific powerhouse.3 For fiscal year (FY) 2015, the Alaska Department of Revenue Commissioner estimated that about 75% of state general fund revenue would be from oil “production taxes, petroleum property taxes, corporate income taxes, and royalties.”4,5 On average, from FY 2005 to 2014, that figure has been 90%.6 This money fuels Alaska’s infrastructure, schools, transportation, health services, and universities.7 Thanks to oil revenue, my state is the only state in the Union that doesn’t have a state personal income tax or sales tax.8 Ever since oil started flowing through the pipeline, the economic activity and revenue generated by the oil industry has provided sustenance to Alaska, allowing us to enjoy modern middle-class living like the rest of the country. Alaska owes big time to its black gold.

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JLS Photography | Flickr.com

∗  ∗  ∗

It was 2010, and I was just about to cross the finish line of one of my cross-country ski races. I was a freshman in high school and was probably close to last place. As I panted and tried to squeeze the last drops of energy from my muscles, I looked up. Above the finish line was a broad white banner serenading my efforts. It read “Flint Hills Resources” in a tidy serif font.

Only years later would I learn that Flint Hills Resources owns a huge oil refinery east of Fairbanks and is a subsidiary of Koch Industries, the largest petrochemicals corporation in the United States and the second largest private company in the country.9 But this kind of banner is not uncommon in Fairbanks. ExxonMobil, BP, ConocoPhillips, Alyeska Pipeline Service Company (the company that maintains Alaska’s pipeline), along with Flint Hills, are common names because we see them everywhere: on TV commercials, in the newspaper, on flyers for community events, on awards and scholarships, in the mail, and at sports games. In August 2010, I saw hundreds of people at our annual Tanana Valley State Fair sporting BP knapsacks passed out at the entrance gates, a mere month after the company’s Deepwater Horizon spill had finally been capped. BP’s yellow and green sunflower logo has become for me as recognizable as McDonald’s golden arches.

These logos meant nothing to me as a little kid growing up in Fairbanks. I was born there in 1996, in a town of about 32,000, to first-generation Japanese immigrant parents.10

Fairbanks does have a McDonald’s. It’s got several, actually. But the closest Target or Olive Garden is a 360-mile drive south to Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city. At first glance, you’d never guess that Fairbanks is an oil town. It’s a place that prides itself on family-owned roadside bagel stands and backyard gardens. Fairbanksans love their personal property, their snow machines, and their own opinions. We like to think of ourselves as independent. “I’ve always thought of Fairbanks as an island,” says my friend Dylan.11

I was naturally a pretty quiet kid. During my first year of preschool, I actually did not speak a word in class. My teacher was visibly excited when she recognized me, 13 years later, when I yelled out her order number at an ice cream place I was working at in town. I had become a much more vocal person in those years. By senior year, I was leading a small jazz ensemble that played professionally around town. Music turned into my greatest passion. Considering the size of the place, Fairbanks was a great town to develop my musicianship. The University of Alaska Fairbanks music program, Fairbanks Youth Orchestras, and organizations like the Fairbanks Concert Association fueled my desire to hear and play music. My teachers were phenomenal, encouraging me to get more involved and pursue music making opportunities around town and in the state, most of which were funded by sponsorships from oil companies. The local music scene itself was diverse and welcoming, and my parents told me to pursue what I enjoyed most. The skills I learned on the drum set in my high school jazz band eventually led me to earn a spot at the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver (DU) as a Jazz Studies major in 2014.

∗  ∗  ∗

I was sitting with a friend at a restaurant near DU on May 1, 2015 when my phone buzzed with a text message.

“What is it?” my friend asked.

I stared at the phone.

“My high school jazz band just got cut.”

I had known that Alaska was facing budget problems. During my junior year of high school, I had testified in front of my school board, urging them to preserve the district’s music programs in the face of a shrinking budget. Every year, rumors went around about which teachers were going to get laid off and what government programs were going to be cut. It was always about reduction, never expansion. In April 2015, all public school music teachers, art teachers, and counselors in Fairbanks got a “doubtful status” notice in their mailbox. But it didn’t really hit home for me until my own high school jazz band was gone, just like that, because of budget constraints. I had been reassuring myself, until that point, that my hometown would be okay in the face of economic pressure. When something that had meant so much to me throughout my four years in high school was cut, I had to reexamine what was happening.

Government revenue and spending is complicated, but in this case, there was an overarching cause. I learned that the TAPS is suffering from severe low blood pressure. And the symptoms are showing up everywhere. Oil flow through the pipeline peaked on January 14, 1988 at 2.1 million barrels per day. Today, only about 560,000 barrels per day reach Valdez.12 Oil flow has slowed down so much that the time it takes for the liquid to travel from Prudhoe Bay on the North Slope to Valdez has almost tripled from 4.5 to 14 days.13 Pipeline engineers are trying to figure out how to deal with low oil flow, which has the risk, among other problems, of creating wax and ice buildup inside the pipeline. “We can’t tell you what the end date of the pipeline is. We believe we can operate down to 300,000 barrels a day, maybe less than that. But it’s going to take some significant investment,” explains Mike Joyner, Senior Vice President of Alyeska’s operation division.14

It’s not just because oil reserves at Prudhoe Bay are running out. Oil production has been declining for decades. State officials estimate there are about 5.16 billion barrels left for recovery under the North Slope, compared to 15 billion barrels already sent down the pipeline by 2006.15,16 Despite this fact, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) on the east and the National Petroleum Reserve on the west remain closed to development.17 With safety and environmental concerns driving more regulation of the oil industry, companies are finding it harder to obtain permits to develop existing infrastructure or to drill exploratory wells and more expensive to carry out business as usual. Demand for oil is also decreasing steadily because of greater energy efficiency and investment in renewables. In 2013, more megawatts of renewable energy capacity were added per year than oil, coal, and natural gas combined.18 But these factors only aggravate the most recent issue: oil prices that were at $110 per barrel in June 2014 have plummeted to around $60 per barrel in May 2015.19 The oil industry is in a bad place.

The trouble this is causing Alaska is immense. It doesn’t end with jazz band being cut. With 75% of state general fund revenue dependent on oil royalties in FY 2015, the Alaska State Legislative Finance Division estimates a deficit of $3.4 billion for this year.20 With current oil production, the Division’s budget director claims oil prices would have to be $130 a barrel to balance the current budget.21 Unable to pass a balanced budget for FY 2015, state legislators called two special sessions to confront the issue. Talks of tapping into the Constitutional Budget Reserve and the Permanent Fund, the state’s savings accounts, have been circulating.22 Layoff notices were mailed to 10,000 government employees on June 1, as political gridlock resulting from budget debates brought the possibility of a government shutdown in July closer.23 “I’ve heard some grizzled Alaska political observers lament they haven’t seen it so bad since 1981. I’ve heard some say it’s never been this bad, ever,” State Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins from southeast Alaska observes.24

On February 4, 2014, Flint Hills Resources, the same name I saw on the ski race banner years ago, announced it was going to close its refinery next to Fairbanks because of difficult economic conditions.25 For years, the refinery had been siphoning oil from the pipeline and producing gasoline, jet fuel, and heating fuel, as well as products such as asphalt, for local areas. The closure meant the loss of 80 high-paying jobs and the loss of the fourth largest taxpayer in the Fairbanks North Star Borough.26 It created an uncertain future for Fort Wainright and Eielson Air Force Base, both of which bring people and substantial business to Fairbanks but rely on cheap jet fuel produced at Flint Hills. The company isn’t the only one that’s downsizing in Alaska. In 2014, BP announced it would be laying off about 475 employees statewide, selling assets, and reducing its footprint in the state, as well as withdrawing its $20,000 sponsorship of Fairbanks’s Midnight Sun Festival, one of the town’s largest annual events.27 The downsizing also meant my good friend Dylan had to move out of state our senior year of high school. He had moved up to Alaska in 8th grade with his mother, who had a job with Koch Industries. “We tried to get our mom to jump ship with [Flint Hills] and go work at the refinery in Kenai for Tesoro so that we could stay in Alaska,” he told me. “But she said there wasn’t much of a prospect there…it was killer.”28

I was watching my town and my state face insurmountable economic pressures, and the effects were hitting closer and closer to home. Former Alaska Governor Sean Parnell stated simply, “We need more oil for that pipeline.”29

∗  ∗  ∗

Nagaoka 3

photo by Yong Jung Cho

On May 16, I stood in front of a Shell gas station a mile from DU holding up a big cardboard sign that said, “MORE OIL IS NOT THE ANSWER.” I was wearing my green “Alaska Grown” hoodie. About 15 others were with me: friends, environmentalists, social activists, hippies, and all of the above from my school. We fought to hold our signs against the wind and rain, signs that shouted: “HANDS OFF THE ARCTIC!”, “KILL THE DRILL!”, “SHELL NO!”, and “CLIMATE JUSTICE!” There was one that said bluntly, “POLAR BEARS.” It was rush hour. Some people stared silently or pretended not to see us. A middle finger was thrown our way. People filling their cars with gas behind us stared with open mouths and squinted eyes. But there also was the occasional loud honk, smiling old woman, or car full of screaming, supportive college kids our age.

One woman rolled down her window with a puzzled look.

My friend Nick Stubler yelled, “Shell is planning to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean!” She immediately punched her car horn.

“Are you really ‘Alaska Grown’?” The girl next to me pointed at my hoodie.

“Yeah,” I said. “This one hits pretty close to home for me.”

“Absolutely,” nodded a grizzled-looking man as he passed me on the sidewalk, pointing at my sign.

Sometimes I’m not always so sure. Along with Nick, I’m a part of the student group Divest DU. We’re working to get the university to stop investing its endowment in fossil fuel companies and re-invest in more sustainable energy initiatives. We’re part of the huge international divestment movement, made up of colleges, institutions, funds, and companies that have divested from fossil fuels or are trying to. That’s usually the three-sentence summary I give while tabling and talking to people about what we do. There’s a whole list of reasons we’re fighting for divestment: climate change, rising sea levels, environmental destruction, social justice, financial stability, the moral responsibility of universities, and more. The movement is built on the idea that through divestment, we can take away the social license of fossil fuel companies and stigmatize them as they continue to be the primary perpetrators of global climate change. As of September 2015, educational institutions, businesses, governments, and individuals have pledged to divest over $2.6 trillion from fossil fuels.30 Divest DU believes that the university should not be profiting from climate destruction. And since student scholarships come from income generated by investing the endowment, nor should we. It’s a cause I can say I truly believe in.

But always in the back of my mind is my hometown in Alaska, a state built on the world’s demand for oil and the presence of huge multinational corporations like BP, ConocoPhillips, and ExxonMobil. It pains me to think that proposing fossil fuel divestment for the University of Alaska system would be preposterous. Always in the back of my mind is that broad white banner with “Flint Hills Resources” on it at the finish line. Always in the back of my mind are my jazz band and my high school, fueled by the state government’s oil revenue. When I visit the homepage of the Fairbanks Concert Association, which has brought hundreds of musicians and performers up to Fairbanks and has inspired me so much, I see ConocoPhillips, BP, Flint Hills, and Alyeska at the top of the sponsor list.31 I’ve personally received $20,480 from the Alaska Permanent Fund, which invests oil revenue for a profit that is distributed to all Alaska residents each year as a dividend. That’s $81,920 for my entire family of four since 2000, when we started getting the yearly check.32 I can never escape the fact that my life in Alaska was defined, directed, and funded by oil. I can’t say Alaska owes big time to oil without admitting I do too.

∗  ∗  ∗

The last time oil prices tanked, Fairbanks lost its downtown. The Polaris Building, the tallest building in Fairbanks, now stands still and empty in what was once the heart of the economic boom caused by the construction of the TAPS. Built in 1952, the Polaris Building used to house a thriving hotel and restaurant. It’s now home to black mold that creeps up its crumbling walls and moss an inch thick on its floors.33 The rest of downtown Fairbanks looks a bit better, but not by much. Old buildings not renovated since the 50s crowd the streets, and failed or failing businesses are a common sight. Tourists are everywhere, but not many Fairbanksans would say, “Let’s go have some fun downtown!” At night, the bright glow of yellowish-blue halogens light the streets, presumably to deter crime and help police spot drunks.

In early 1986, oil prices crashed. Even though world oil consumption was declining, in late 1985, Saudi Arabia aggressively started increasing production, and in response the rest of the OPEC countries did the same.34 Crude oil prices fell from $23 per barrel in December 1985 to less than $10 per barrel in July the next year (non-inflation adjusted).35 In Alaska, state general fund revenues were cut in half over two years, from $4.1 billion in 1984 to $2.1 billion in 1988.36 Nine out of 12 Alaskan banks failed, business and property values fell, and thousands of jobs were lost.37 Unemployment hit a high of 11.5%, and between 1986 and 1988, about 35,000 people left Alaska to find jobs elsewhere.38 That’s more people than the current population of the city of Fairbanks. In the decades following the crash, oil prices eventually recovered, and so did Alaska, but downtown Fairbanks was left a dead spot. These days, Alaska Governor Bill Walker cautions we need to be careful with the budget so that “we don’t create the tailspin we saw in the 80s.”39

I don’t want my high school, my house, or any building in Fairbanks to end up like the Polaris Building. Alaska is no stranger to boom-and-bust economic cycles. After all, modern Alaskan history starts with the discovery of gold in the territory and the huge influx of people and capital that followed. However, the State of Alaska House Special Committee on Fiscal Policy argues the recent budget crisis is not just another bout of the boom-and-bust cycle, but part of a larger trend of a widening fiscal gap that the state will have to face for decades to come.40 We desperately need some way to sustain Alaska.

Reduced to the simplest terms, there are two options: more oil or something else. The Arctic Ocean holds an estimated 34 billion barrels of crude oil that could be accessed by offshore drilling initiatives like Royal Dutch Shell’s, which I protested in May.41 In April 2015, both chambers of the Alaska State Legislature overwhelmingly approved a joint resolution urging Washington state officials to stop interfering with Shell’s plans to drill in the Arctic. Simply building a port for Shell in Alaska would generate 500 to 700 jobs, they claimed.42 Additionally, ANWR and the National Petroleum Reserve, which sandwich Prudhoe Bay, could be opened for oil and natural gas development. These projects could fix the TAPS’s blood pressure problem.

But Alaska’s problem is not the issue of too little oil in the pipeline. It’s way bigger. It’s our complete dependency on the black blood that currently supports our entire economy. Encouraging more oil development will entrench us deeper in our oil dependence. It means giving oil prices a license to throw our state around. If Alaska keeps holding on to oil as its savior, it will follow oil on its path downward.

Fossil fuels are not our future. Alaska lives in a world where renewable energy development has already eclipsed fossil fuel energy, and activists and governments alike are halting the progress of oil, natural gas, and coal projects that aren’t already hindered by economic pressures. In 2012, scientists estimated we could release about 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere and stay within a “safe” level of global warming. And the world’s oil, natural gas, and coal companies own enough fossil fuels in reserves to release 2,795 gigatons of CO2 if they are allowed to continue their usual business.43 As we realize the effects of burning fossil fuel on our climate, we also need to realize that betting our livelihood on new oil exploration outside of Prudhoe Bay is like chaining ourselves to an already sinking ship. Shell’s license to drill in the Arctic may seem like a good chance to make the pipeline healthy again, but ultimately it will make it even more challenging to end our relationship with oil when we really need to.

“Unfortunately, there is no simple solution,” explains the State of Alaska House Special Committee on Fiscal Policy. “There is no single resource that can fill the huge role [oil] has played in funding state government.”44 Therefore, Alaska has to aggressively diversify its economy and revise its public and private tax structures to cope with this transition as soon as possible. Alaska has to heavily push economic development in its fisheries, mining operations, and tourism industry. We have to pursue projects that add value to already existing industries, like “fish processing plants, […] aluminum reduction, server farms, and dairy farming.”45 We need to create a profitable business environment that will appeal to non-fossil fuel companies. This means investing in infrastructure and transportation and “low-cost energy […] for the Interior and rural communities where economic activity is hamstrung by the cost of fuel.”46 The state will likely have to impose a personal income tax and sales tax for the first time in decades. According to rough estimates, we could add about $1.8 billion to general fund revenue with the steep rates of 5.6% for an income tax and 7% for a sales tax.47 We need to restructure tax law on oil, gas, coal, and mining so that more money stays in-state. Money from yearly revenues and Alaska’s reserves alike need to be used to transition the state to more sustainable industries.

But more than anything, we need ideas. Alaskans—from the women and men sitting in the state’s legislative chambers to high school freshmen in their Alaska Studies classes—need to initiate serious conversations about how our state will look in a post-fossil fuel world. “We can’t be complacent like the frog in the pot of boiling water,” says Scott Goldsmith, Professor of Economics at the University of Alaska Anchorage. “We need to jump out before it’s too late and become proactive in the creation of our own future.”48 This dialogue has already started, but it needs more momentum and participation. On June 5, Governor Walker and his cabinet hosted a weekend-long convention at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, called “Building a Sustainable Future: Conversations With Alaskans,” to address the state’s economic future. “Self-determination was at the heart of our quest for Statehood. Alaskans wanted to control the future of this state,” explained Walker in a Facebook post. “Once again, Alaska is at a decision point. With oil revenue alone unable to sustain us, how do we chart a new course?”49 The convention gathered more than 200 leaders from around the state to “empower participants” through education and conversation so they could “return home and host their own community discussions.50, 51

Governor Walker’s convention was a step forward in advancing calls to implement a state income tax and carefully use the Permanent Fund’s earning reserves to close the state’s fiscal gap. And there was a lot of hope contained in those three days. “The challenges are obvious. The opportunities might be less clear,” Walker stated. “The first opportunity I see is an opportunity to tap Alaskans’ collective wisdom and ingenuity.”52 He added, “Through teamwork and respect for the voices of all Alaskans, we can develop the best solutions.”53 This sentiment was echoed by others as well. “Alaskans are a resilient and resourceful people, and can rise to meet the challenge facing them in the twilight of oil’s dominance,” said the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.54 There was also a call for cooperation across political boundaries. “If there’s a lasting image to come out of this two days, it’s of Mr. Republican Jack Coghill and a liberal Democrat, Vic Fischer, coming arm in arm together,” said University of Alaska Fairbanks Chancellor Brian Rogers, addressing two original Alaska Constitution authors who were in the audience.55

But behind this optimism is the reality that we have a lot of work to do to see the future we want for Alaska.

Nagaoka 7

Rose Ellet | Shutterstock.com

A few weeks ago, my friend Tristan Glowa, who works for the divestment campaign at Yale University, went to a Q&A session with Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski. He submitted a question about how Alaska should move forward in diversifying its economy in the face of the inevitable decline of fossil fuels. As Murkowski started reading Tristan’s question off the slip of paper, she paused and picked out another one from the pile. Meanwhile, bipartisan efforts in our state legislature push for more oil and gas development, with the topic of economic restructuring away from fossil fuels completely off the table. Our leaders are scared to confront this issue. Shifting this dialogue is the first step in many to achieving a sustainable Alaska.

Any transition away from oil will result in great personal sacrifices for all Alaskans. Goldsmith proposes that “the transition to a post-Prudhoe economy is the biggest challenge Alaska will face in the next 10 years.”56 Nothing will likely be able to provide the state government with as much revenue as oil. Therefore, the transition may mean more budget cuts, more loss of jobs, and more expensive living for the sake of a smaller, more sustainable Alaska. But I want the best possible long-term future for my state, and I don’t see more oil being part of the equation.

I am an environmentalist who was raised on oil money. But I’ve begun to realize that it’s useless to feel inhibited by the contradictions between my passion for climate justice and the benefits I’ve received from oil in Alaska. I feel frustration more than anything, and the need to take action immediately. My state was born out of oil development, but now it’s at the mercy of the oil industry. As my friend Tristan argues, “Just because the system I live in unavoidably relies on fossil fuels doesn’t mean that’s the future I am working to create.”57 We’re at a turning point in Alaska’s history where we need to make the extremely difficult decision to end our long relationship with the oil industry. I stand by what I wrote on the cardboard sign I held in front of the Shell gas station: “MORE OIL IS NOT THE ANSWER.”

Slowly, the tide is turning. A few months after our protest at the Shell station, the oil giant announced it would abandon Arctic drilling for “the foreseeable future.”58 And the amount of money that institutions around the world have committed to divest from fossil fuels in the fall of 2015—$2.6 trillion—is 50 times the amount pledged at the same time in 2014.59 Even my high school jazz band seems to have been resurrected for the time being because of the letters of support school administrators received from parents. These are victories, but there are many more battles to be won.

I’m envisioning a different future. I want a future where Fairbanks can be as independent as it wants to be, and where fairgoers don’t have the BP sunflower emblazoned on their backs. I want a future where the entire state isn’t thrown into crisis whenever the price of oil wavers. I want a future that’s not tied to a single commodity. I want our kids to be able to take classes without the fear that their teachers won’t be around anymore. I want future generations of Alaskans to applaud us for taking the first steps away from a failing industry and toward a sustainable state. I want Alaskans to be able to look at the black blood in our pipeline as history, not a lifeline.

Nagaoka 6

Sam Chadwick | Shutterstock.com

∗  ∗  ∗

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline used to be the aorta of the state of Alaska. Eight hundred miles long and 48 inches wide, the steel artery stretches from the oilfields of Prudhoe Bay on the northernmost edge of the state down to the Valdez Marine Terminal on the southern coast of Alaska’s mainland. Inside, there is nothing. My grandchildren run around the now-overgrown parking lot where my parents once took visitors to see the pipeline, knocking on the tube and smiling at the ringing, hollow sound that it makes.

Featured Image © Anita Ritenour | Flickr.com


A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR
It wasn’t until my first year at DU that I became very engaged in the issue of global climate change. Since I was little, I have always had an appreciation for nature and preserving the environments I was in. Throughout high school, I worked on recycling and air quality issues in my hometown of Fairbanks, Alaska. During my first year in college, I joined Divest DU, a student organization committed to combatting climate change by urging the university to divest, or withdraw investments, from fossil fuel stocks. The people I met through this organization educated me on the urgency and scale of climate change, its ties to social justice issues, and the inspiring ways in which people were coming together to fight what I believe is the most massive and overarching injustice of our generation.

But my mind always wandered back to Alaska, a place completely dependent on oil revenue…the home that I was born and raised in.

The basis for the structure of this essay came from a book we read in my Honors Writing course. In her book Full Body Burden, Kristen Iversen tells the story of the Rocky Flats Nuclear facility in Colorado while narrating her own childhood growing up beside the plant. Eventually, these threads coalesce into a single story. We read this book around the same time I started to hear about a serious budget shortfall that Alaska was facing the coming year due to low oil prices. Memories about my interactions with oil money growing up in Alaska flooded me. I decided to use a similar structure as Full Body Burden to bring together the two stories I wanted to tell.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nagaoka bio
Kengo Nagaoka is a second-year Jazz Studies major at the Lamont School of Music and a Leadership Studies minor with the Pioneer Leadership Program. Kengo was born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska, and spends most of his free time playing drums, writing music, and exploring outside. One of his favorite things to do is to get dusty with his suite-mates.


NOTES

1 Alyeska Pipeline Service Company. “Trans Alaska Pipeline System: The Facts.” Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, 2013. PDF file.

2 Alaska History and Cultural Studies. Modern Alaska: Oil Discovery and Development in Alaska. Alaska Humanities Forum, n.d. Web. 26 May 2015.

3 The State of Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Research and Analysis Section. “Annual Components of Population Change for Alaska, 1945 to 2014.” The State of Alaska, 2014. Microsoft Excel file.

4 The State of Alaska Department of Revenue Commissioner’s Office. “Spring 2015 Forecast Adjusts Revenue to Reflect Lower Oil Prices.” The State of Alaska Department of Revenue, 3 April 2015. PDF file.

5 The State of Alaska House Special Committee on Fiscal Policy. Understanding Alaska’s Revenue. Understanding Alaska’s Budget, n.d. Web. 26 May 2015.

6 Knapp, Gunnar. “The Most Important Things to Understand About Alaska’s Fiscal Situation.” University of Alaska Anchorage Institute of Social and Economic Research, Jan. 2015. PDF file.

7 The State of Alaska House Special Committee on Fiscal Policy. Understanding Alaska’s Spending. Understanding Alaska’s Budget, n.d. Web. 26 May 2015.

8 State of Alaska, House Special Committee on Fiscal Policy. Understanding Alaska’s Revenue.

9 Murphy, Andrea. “America’s Largest Private Companies 2014.” Forbes, 5 Nov. 2014. Web. 26 May 2015.

10 The State of Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development Research & Analysis Section. Alaska Local and Regional Information. Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development Research, n.d. Web. 26 May 2015.

11 Smock, Dylan. Personal interview. 17 May 2015.

12 ConocoPhillips Alaska. Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS). ConocoPhillips Company, n.d. Web. 26 May 2015.

13 Murphy, Kim. “ALASKA OIL: Flow Has Slowed Through Pipeline.” Sunday Gazette [Charleston, WV], 15 Aug. 2010. ProQuest. Web. 26 May 2015.

14 Ibid.

15 Ibid.

16 Alyeska Pipeline Service Company. “Trans Alaska Pipeline System.”

17 Murphy, K. “ALASKA OIL.”

18 Randall, Tom. “Fossil Fuels Just Lost the Race Against Renewables: This is the Beginning of the End.” Bloomberg Business, 14 April 2015. Web. 26 May 2015.

19 Nasdaq. Crude Oil: WTI (NYMEX) Price. Barchart Market Data Solutions, 2015. Web. 26 May 2015.

20 Knapp. “The Most Important Things.”

21 Associated Press. “By the Numbers: Alaska Budget Debate, Attempts to Fix It.” Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 07 May 2015. Web. 26 May 2015.

22 Forgey, Pat. “Is the Permanent Fund the Solution to Alaska’s Budget Gridlock?” Alaska Dispatch News, 20 May 2015. Web. 26 May 2015.

23 Herz, Nathaniel. “House Bipartisan Budget Deal Appears to be Dead on Arrival in the Senate.” Alaska Dispatch News. 30 May 2015. Web. 8 June 2015.

24 Kreiss-Tomkins, Jonathan. “Ugh.” [Email], 6 March 2015. Web. 8 June 2015.

25 Cole, Dermot. “In a Blow to Fairbanks, Flint Hills Says It Will Close Down North Pole Refinery.” Alaska Dispatch News, 04 Feb. 2014. Web. 26 May 2015.

26 Ibid.

27 Buxton, Matt. “BP No Longer Sponsoring Fairbanks Midnight Sun Festival.” Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 28 May 2015. Web. 8 June 2015.

28 Smock. Personal interview.

29 Murphy. “ALASKA OIL.”

30 Visser, Nick. “The World Has Pledged To Divest $2.6 Trillion From Fossil Fuels.” Huffington Post, 22 Sept. 2015. Web. 11 Nov. 2015.

31 Fairbanks Concert Association. Sponsor List. Fairbanks Concert Association, n.d. Web. 26 May 2015.

32 The State of Alaska Department of Revenue Permanent Fund Dividend Division. Historical Summary of Dividend Applications and Payments. The State of Alaska, 31 December 2012. Web. 26 May 2015.

33 Caldwell, Suzanna. “Fairbanks’ Empty, Decaying Polaris Building Looking for Love.” Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 24 April 2011. Web. 26 May 2015.

34 US Energy Information Administration. Petroleum Chronology of Events 1970–2000. US Department of Energy, n.d. Web. 26 May 2015.

35 Ibid.

36 Alaska History and Cultural Studies, Modern Alaska.

37 Ibid.

38 Associated Press. “Alaska Faces Tough Decisions, Drastic Budget Cuts, Dipping into Savings as Oil Prices Plunge.” Fox Business, 18 Jan. 2015. Web. 26 May 2015.

39 Gutierrez, Alexandra. “Governor’s New Budget Cuts 300 State Employees.” Alaska Public Media, 5 Feb. 2015. Web. 26 May 2015.

40 The State of Alaska House Special Committee on Fiscal Policy. What is a Fiscal Gap? Understanding Alaska’s Budget, n.d. Web. 26 May 2015.

41 Fessler, David. “The Pros and Cons of Arctic Oil Drilling (And Why We Should Start Now).” Investment U [The Oxford Club], 15 May 2015. Web. 26 May 2015.

42 The Office of Senator Giessel. “Legislature Urges Seattle to Stop Blocking Alaska’s Economic Development.” Alaska Senate Majority, 19 April 2015. Web. 26 May 2015.

43 McKibben, Bill. “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math.” Rolling Stone, 19 July 2012. Web. 26 May 2015.

44 House Special Committee on Fiscal Policy, What is a Fiscal Gap?

45 Goldsmith, Scott. “Alaska’s Petroleum Industry: Transformative, But is it Sustainable?” University of Alaska Anchorage Institute of Social and Economic Research, April 2011. PDF file.

46 Fairbanks Daily News-Miner Editorial. “Population Wobble Worrisome: Decline Not Portent of Disaster, But State Needs to Pay Attention and Act.” Fairbanks Daily News Miner. 13 May 2015. Web. 8 June 2015.

47 House Special Committee on Fiscal Policy, What is a Fiscal Gap?

48 Goldsmith. “Alaska’s Petroleum Industry.”

49 Walker, Bill. “Self-determination was at the heart of our quest for Statehood. Alaskans wanted to control the future of this state. Once again, Alaska is at a decision point. With oil revenue alone unable to sustain us, how do we chart a new course?” [Facebook post], 6 June 2015. Web. 8 June 2015.

50 Cole, Dermot, and Nathaniel Herz. “Fairbanks Fiscal Cram Session Leads to New Focus on Revenue, Spending, Services.” Alaska Dispatch News. 7 June 2015. Web. 8 June 2015.

51 The State of Alaska Governor Bill Walker, Building a Sustainable Future: Conversations with Alaskans. The State of Alaska, n.d. Web. 8 June 2015.

52 Walker, Bill. “Building a Sustainable Future.” Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. 31 May 2015. Web. 8 June 2015.

53 The State of Alaska Governor Bill Walker, Walker Kicks Off Dialogue On Fiscal Future. The State of Alaska, 4 June 2015. Web. 8 June 2015.

54 Fairbanks Daily News-Miner Editorial. “Population Wobble Worrisome.”

55 Cole & Herz. “Fairbanks Fiscal Cram Session.”

56 Goldsmith, Scott. “High Oil Prices Give Alaskans a Second Chance: How Will We Use this Opportunity?” University of Alaska Anchorage Institute of Social and Economic Research, Sept. 2011. PDF file.

57 Glowa, Tristan. “So it’s pretty inarguable that we need to transition to a clean energy economy rapidly if we don’t want to be screwed by climate change. Obviously, as an Alaskan, I depend on oil given that it’s funded my life here. Just because the system I live in unavoidably relies on fossil fuels doesn’t mean that’s the future I am working to create (which is a question of political economy, not individual purchases). Does that make sense?” [Facebook comment], 20 May 2015. Web. 26 May 2015.

58 Macalister, Terry. “Shell Abandons Alaska Arctic Drilling.” The Guardian, 28 Sept. 2015. Web. 11 Nov. 2015.

59 Visser. “The World Has Pledged To Divest.”