Luke Magel

MY STORY:

The importance of student organizations at the University of Utah

MY BLOG:

My enterprise story started out as a profile of a specific club at the University of Utah. However, my attempts to contact the president and vice president of the club failed. I shifted my focus to another club, but I did not receive any responses from that organization either. I tried to reach out to the associate director of student leadership and involvement so I could interview a member of the administration, but I did not hear back from them. I was not expecting contacting sources to be the most difficult aspect.

I finally received an email from Josh Olszewski, the student organizations coordinator, who had been sent my interview request by the other administrator. It was at this point that I decided to make my story about the importance of clubs at the university.

In our interview, Olszewski pointed me in the direction of the Women’s Outdoor Leadership Initiative and the University of Utah Beekeepers Association. Olszewski said these clubs were good representatives to contact. I managed to get in contact with the presidents, Emma Taylor and Amalia Friess respectively, and I interviewed them.

Amalia Friess invited me to observe a club meeting right after our interview. While the information from that meeting did not fit my story, I was personally interested in it. I enjoyed the meeting, and I hope to be able to attend some hive inspections with the club in the spring.

Once I began to write my story, I discovered that my story could only be as good as the interviews that built it. I found that my last interview provided me with the most useable information because I had practiced my interviewing skills twice by then. I combed through my recordings of the interviews and focused on the quotes and information that seemed the most impactful to me. I built my story around that information, and it led to the most natural and engaging result.

ABOUT ME:

I am a full-time student at the University of Utah, and I aim to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in communication in 2024. I am an aspiring journalist, musician, and lyricist. I grew up in a house filled with classic rock from my dad and classical from my mom. My mom taught me to play the piano when I was growing up, but I switched to guitar so I could play the rock music I loved. I have been playing guitar for over eight years.

Music plays a major role in my life and interests, including journalism. I hope to be able to make a living writing about the art I love. Being able to interview and write about artists, especially the guitarists I idolize, is my dream career.

The importance of student organizations at the University of Utah

Story by LUKE MAGEL

It was during a backpacking expedition that the University of Utah student, Emma Taylor, noticed how large the gender gap is in outdoor activities. The men moved quicker than the women in the group did. Therefore, the long-legged men navigated and led the group.

After resolving the issue within the group, Taylor and her friends discussed how to foster a safe and inclusive environment for women in the outdoors.

“So it’s kind of like on this trip and we’re thinking, how do we do this, how do we do this, and then the idea for a club came up,” Taylor said in a Zoom interview.

The Women’s Outdoor Leadership Initiative is one of over 550 Recognized Student Organizations at the University of Utah. Student organizations provide opportunities for students that they would otherwise have to find off-campus. The university contributes to the symbiotic relationship between it and the student organizations by providing resources and advising.

The Women’s Outdoor Leadership Initiative was established in August 2021, making it one of the newest student organizations at the university. The organization already has about 70 members. The primary goal of the initiative is to provide women with skills and confidence in the outdoors.

“The hope is that they can take that with them, be more independent, and then get more of their friends out there so we slowly start to kind of change that gender gap within the outdoor industry,” said Taylor, who is the president of the club.

To accomplish its goal, the organization hosts a monthly course on an outdoor skill and a monthly community bonding meeting. The courses have covered the set of ethics put forth by the Leave No Trace organization, wilderness medicine certification, and backcountry navigation.

A Women’s Outdoor Leadership Initiative community bonding event. Photo courtesy of Emma Taylor.

As winter approaches, the organization is planning an avalanche certification course, ski trips, and volunteer opportunities at the National Ability Center.

The outdoor setting of the club provides students with learning opportunities outside of the classroom. “You’re constantly just kind of having to manage risk, manage your group, manage all these different settings around you,” Taylor said.

The club is classified as a Registered Student Organization. This means that the organization is not affiliated with a department at the university. RSOs are the most autonomous classification.

Student organizations can also be classified as affiliated or sponsored. Affiliated clubs are still separate from the university; however, they are tied to a department and have access to some university resources and an advisor.

Sponsored student organizations are part of a department and must follow its rules. This classification also receives an advisor and the most support from the university.

The University of Utah Beekeepers Association is a Sponsored Student Organization. The club is sponsored by the Bennion Center, the university’s community engagement center.

The U’s Beekeepers Association was started about 10 years ago and boasts hundreds of members. Amalia Friess has been president for two years and was an active member for two years before assuming that role.

The organization has nine honeybee hives in continuously changing locations on campus. The hives are inspected by the organization at least monthly. The inspections can be attended by anyone.

A beekeeper tending to a university hive. Photo courtesy of Amalia Friess.

Friess said taking care of the bees was like having pets. “These are live animals that you’re working with.”

Educational presentations are given to the club by the members themselves. They also give presentations to elementary schools, Boy Scouts, and others. The talks focus on the importance of honeybees and native pollinators.

“If the pollinators are gone, that means that our plants are going to be gone. And that’s the foundation of our whole ecosystem,” Friess said in a Zoom interview.

The beekeepers harvest honey and wax from their hives once a year. The wax, which is made into candles and lip balm, is then given away to those who participate in events or sold along with the honey.

Friess estimates that 40% of the organization’s funds come from honey, wax product, and merchandise sales. The rest of the funds come from the Associated Students of the University of Utah, a perk of being a Sponsored Student Organization.

The Beekeepers Association provides students with an easy way to start beekeeping, an otherwise difficult field to join. The university also benefits from the community engagement.

The student organizations coordinator, Josh Olszewski. He oversees all clubs at the U. Photo courtesy of Josh Olszewski.

“From research, we know that students who get involved tend to have higher GPAs, they tend to feel a stronger sense of belonging on campus, and students who feel like they belong on campus tend to stay,” said Josh Olszewski, the student organizations coordinator for the university.

The broad selection of clubs is an incentive for prospective students to enroll at the U.

Olszewski said having student organizations helps students find community, support groups, and opportunities to build skills outside of the classroom. Students benefit from clubs regardless of the focus of the entity.

Student organizations have raised awareness for immigration laws, mental health, and COVID-19, Olszewski said in a Zoom interview. “These are student-led initiatives that I think raise awareness to the broader community and to the institution as a whole.”

Leah Beehler

MY STORY:

Community oasis in a busy city

MY BLOG:

Transitioning from living in a coastal neighborhood to Salt Lake City has definitely been a big change. I began noticing all the community gardens that we had in the area here. I developed my story off of my main interest in these gardens and how they benefit the community and its residents. Especially while being a new resident of Salt Lake City, I wanted to get a feel for the main benefits of community gardens. 

The first step I took was choosing the main garden that I wanted to focus on. Once I came to the conclusion that I was going to focus on the Wasatch Community Gardens, the next step I took to find my sources was familiarizing myself with the website. Then, I read about what it had to offer and decided what I wanted my story to focus on. Once I had my main points chosen, I went to the Board and Staff tab on the website and mentally selected the best candidates I thought would help with my story.

I reached out to the staff members with the emails provided and asked if they would be willing to meet with me and answer some questions. Since I wanted to also write from a community standpoint, I reached out to a community member. My goal was to get a real opinion on what it is like living with and near a community garden. I feel I chose the best sources for my story because they are the most educated on my chosen topics. 

I encountered some obstacles with people not getting back to me in time. I got a lot of responses referring me to other people. However, I was then having a tough time getting responses from the references. Because of the pandemic and busy schedules, one of my interviews was held over the phone. 

In order to make sense of all the information I gathered, I created a story outline. I organized all of the quotes I wanted to use and the main points that I was making and created a story map to prepare for the writing process. I found the writing process to be very enjoyable. I learned many new things about what the garden has to offer and enjoyed getting to share that knowledge. I was surprised by how much I learned about the community garden and how much it really does for the community. 

Although the garden is very pretty and fun, that is not all it is. It helps bring jobs to people in need and offers free pick zones to help feed the residents with organic and healthy produce. The Wasatch Community Gardens really does a lot of good and cares deeply about its community and what it grows. 

ABOUT ME:

My name is Leah Beehler and I am currently a full time student at the University of Utah working to earn a degree in Communication. My passion for writing and reading began in high school and my English courses. Throughout my high school years I was involved in a full-time, strenuous sport which taught me time management and how to be dependable. I have now integrated those skills in my journalism. Through my honesty, excitement, and drive I aspire to be accurate and respectful with my writing. 

In my free time, I enjoy sitting and reading a good book, going for walks, and spending time with my family. I also love to travel and experience new cultures and lifestyles. My lifetime and family experiences drive my curiosity in people and their stories.

Community oasis in a busy city

Story and photos by LEAH BEEHLER

The Wasatch Community Gardens prove that healthy living, eating, and growing in a city is not impossible.

A wide view from the new wood deck behind the walkway to the plant beds. The many beds provide the space for diverse seeds and plants.

“You don’t need to speak the same language as someone else, you don’t need to look the same or have the same background to be able to get your hands in the dirt and create something together,” said Georgina Griffith-Yates, the current executive director. Located at 600 E. 800 South in the central hub of Salt Lake City, the living oasis is focused on bringing the community together and growing local food, while also striving to educate.

The mission of the Gardens is to empower people to grow and eat healthy, organic, local food.

The Community Garden Program, Community Education Program, Youth and School Program, and the Job Training Program are the ways in which the Gardens accomplish that mission.

According to its website, the Community Garden Program is a way for the people in the community to “come and gain hands-on skills through [the] series of organic gardening workshops.” There are a total of 16 gardens throughout the county to apply what you learn during the workshops.

The Community Education Program targets not only real-life experience but also shares real knowledge of the food and how to grow it with the members of the community. It additionally focuses on hosting workshops and events that show people how to translate what they learn during classes to their home and how to make use of what they grow. “It is not just a get together — there is a lot of information provided to you and resources,” said Kerrie Toner, a member of the community and volunteer.

After the informative sessions and workshops, the Gardens provide many recipes to try yourself, how to perform a soil analysis with ingredients you have at home, and natural remedies that can help with colds and sickness.

“Another thing they offer is how to properly compost and get rid of pests naturally and organically,” Toner said.

Events and workshops are beneficial to the community because they are a chance to bring people together and build relationships. “Having in-person connection points, there is no substitute for that,” said Amber Nichols in a phone interview. Nichols is the outreach and volunteer director. Volunteering is a big part of the Wasatch Community Gardens and how it includes the community. If you are interested in volunteering, you can sign up by filling out the online form.

The goal for volunteers is to learn while also making sure they have fun. They are able to be there for a couple hours and offer services while learning about the plants, seeds, and soil.

Volunteers are able to plant seeds that will grow and later be available for purchase at the plant sale. They also work to beautify the gardens and harvest fruit.

Plants growing and becoming accustomed to the soil at Wasatch Community Gardens on 800 South.

The Youth and School Program is designed to teach kids about food and where food comes from. According to its website, “kids ages 4-12, are invited to learn in the [the] productive school garden program.”

Kids are encouraged to see that food is more than fast food. They have the power to take a small seed and grow something that is healthy and safe.

The Job Training Program is available to help women who are experiencing homelessness be reintegrated into a job setting and be hired once the program is over.

The program is a one-year-long process and is very beneficial for the participants and their futures. As well as helping the women get jobs, the Gardens also has a free pick zone for the community.

The free pick zone provides a source of clean fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries and tomatoes, to people passing by and those who can’t afford organic produce from the grocery store, and kids in the community who are learning what they like.

The tomato easement at Wasatch Community Gardens. The gardens and plots are essential for food growth.

On the Gardens campus is a fully functioning kitchen that is used to cook meals and prepare food for the guests and volunteers. The food used and eaten is all grown at the campus.

Community outreach and happiness is a big importance for the Gardens. “They want to work with the community and are very community driven,” said Toner, a member of the community and volunteer.

There are many cultures and people in a large city. The gardens focus on the diverse histories of people, food, and agriculture. They do this by offering a different variety of plants and different land plots to adhere to history and culture.

The Wasatch Community Gardens is a great green, open space in a city and is a huge learning outlet. It is also a large benefit to the community by bringing them together, getting them out of the house, meeting new people, and learning new things that they can implement in their own homes and at-home gardens.

Kayla Swank

MY STORY:

L3 Harris’ Salt Lake City location talks about pandemic-related challenges and how it’s adapting

MY BLOG:

After having a few ideas fall through for a story involving the pandemic, I started wondering how a larger company and its employees were adapting during these times. Through a family connection I was able to interview three people with varying positions in departments within the L3 Harris company. Since each person was in a unique situation, they were able to give a different perspective on how their departments were operating.

The pandemic provided some easy and difficult aspects with the interviewing process. It was easier in terms of response time from the interviewees. Since many people have adapted to online communication, I was able to complete two interviews quickly and effectively through email. Complications did occur with one interview involving Zoom, however. A few times during the interview there were periods of the screen and sound freezing, so there would be repeats of discussion.

Once I had all my information gathered from the questions I had asked, I realized my focus had pivoted slightly. I was originally focused on wanting to know what kind of procedural changes and problems a company was facing during the pandemic. But after reviewing the questions I had asked, I realized I wanted to know more about how the people themselves were managing procedures and obstacles within the company through their perspective. I enjoyed it and felt surprised about the process of communicating connections and differences within each person’s experience. By that I mean describing how each employee had different obstacles, yet those obstacles connected to the bigger picture of facing a pandemic together.

Watching the news since the start of the pandemic gave me anxieties over businesses crashing and not being able to bounce back. But after interviewing the employees of at least one company, I feel better in knowing that they are managing just fine.

ABOUT ME:

I grew up reading book after book and was always creating art, and those passions have travelled over to my secondary education.

I am a University of Utah student and will be graduating in spring 2022. I will be receiving my Bachelor of Science in writing and rhetoric studies and a minor in animation. I am a writer and an artist who hopes to use my work to shed light on topics such as environmental awareness and mental health advocacy.

Some of my works include a published poetry and short writings book with Amazon and frequently doing art commissions. My favorite hobbies include hiking, fitness, drawing, photography and fashion.

L3 Harris’ Salt Lake City location talks about pandemic-related challenges and how it’s adapting

Story by KAYLA SWANK

The pandemic doesn’t have an end in sight and many companies have adapted to this new normal while facing its challenges. L3 Harris is one of those companies.

L3 Harris is an international company with over 46,000 employees in 100 countries that focuses on communications technology with the U.S. military. The company’s headquarters are in Melbourne, Florida, and have carried out coronavirus protocols to all its other locations.

Three employees from the Salt Lake City location share their pandemic-related experiences while working for their respective departments.

Brian Strohm works as the associate manager of the shipping department. Leading his team of 14 people and having communication with other departments became one of his main worries during the pandemic.

Brian Strohm posing for his picture as an employee of L3 Harris. Photo courtesy of Brian Strohm.

He said the company had been accustomed to in-person meetings and operations, most of that transferred to using Skype and Zoom within a short time.

Online meetings were a struggle for the shipping department due to time zone clashes and technical lagging on the platforms. Emails became a huge obstacle and created a lot of confusion. Before the pandemic, Strohm could walk to a person’s desk if he had a question about emails. It’s not an option now that people are working from home or closing their office doors.

“Sometimes you won’t get an email back for another 40 minutes because they’re not there,” he said in a Zoom interview.

Another adaptation Strohm had to worry about was how the supplies were coming in. Supplies come from ordering through vendors and L3 Harris’ products come from various ways including trucking companies.

If one vendor is shutting down, Strohm said the department would have to work around that and find another one, which creates delays and extra time.

Trucking became another obstacle for a couple of reasons.

Strohm said that due to the pandemic, trucking companies like FedEx had to change shipping procedures by not taking as much quantity of products. This happened because FedEx was used for carrying out and delivering a portion of the COVID-19 vaccines once they were created. That meant companies like L3 Harris and its products became secondary to the vaccines.

It’s strange enough to adapt to a pandemic when working with a company, but imagine working for a new company in the middle of a pandemic. That’s what happened to Daniel Boland when he joined the shipping department of L3 Harris in August 2020.

Boland joined the company when pandemic restrictions were in effect at the workplace. He explained that it was strange to start working for a new company while meeting everyone with face masks and having a mandatory temperature screening before clocking into work each day.

“There were also a lot of people still working from home at the time, so it seemed like a big campus without a lot of people physically at work,” Boland said in an email interview.

Much like Strohm, Boland noticed challenges with communication in the workplace.

Boland experienced communication problems at other companies he has worked for, and he noticed the pandemic further increased these problems. “If you add in the pandemic and a lot of decision makers working off-site, it adds to the communication issues,” he said.

While Strohm and Boland were at the workplace physically, employees like Melissa Schut worked from home during the height of the pandemic. And that brought just as many challenges, if not more.

The associate manager of facilities said her teams struggled more with collaborations. And keeping others motivated to keep up with their work and getting responses in a timely manner became more of a hope rather than a reality.

“There was personal, emotional struggles with not seeing people, staying inside, not feeling part of anything,” Schut explained in an email interview. Working from home created environments of emotional disconnect.

She also described the communication with employees being more on edge, and people seeming more irritated toward any changes that happen.

Even when working at home, supply and material shortages are affecting her work within the department. Schut said it’s difficult to make sure materials go to those who are physically at work for projects, materials like safety glasses, pre-made lab doors, wood, and even hazmat suits.

Just like the shipping department, the facilities department has been adapting and managing in its own way. For Schut’s department, in-person meetings haven’t occurred since March 2020. Instead, her team utilize Skype and other virtual platforms.

Schut has currently returned to work physically for part of the time. She said the interactions between people are slowly reverting to being more normal.

Keeping a company on its feet during the pandemic is a feat in its own. And just like every company across the U.S., L3 Harris has been trying to work out the kinks when it comes to communication between employees, managing supply shortages, and other endless situations.

A company is best set for success when preparing for a situation and adapting accordingly. As Strohm put it, “What we did is we prepared for the worst.”

Jacob Freeman

MY STORY:

UDOT’s plans for transit in Little Cottonwood will affect climbing along with traffic

MY BLOG:

I had been thinking about this story since before I had taken a journalism class. In fact, this story is part of what convinced me to start taking journalism classes at all. I was frustrated that the story of Little Cottonwood wasn’t being told as much as I thought it should be. Thus, coming up with the idea for my story was natural. I was passionate about the topic going into the project, and that passion only grew during the process.

I knew right away what organizations I wanted to contact for this story. Salt Lake Climbers Alliance was the obvious choice, as it is the organization at the forefront of the conversations about Little Cottonwood Canyon, advocating for protection of climbing. I also knew I had to get in contact with UDOT, as it is the driving force behind the potential upcoming changes to the canyon.

My source at SLCA was David Carter, the chair of the policy and conservation committee. He was extremely receptive to me and my request for an interview. I was pleasantly surprised that he was not only willing to do an interview, but he also seemed genuinely excited to talk to me about an issue he was clearly passionate about. The interview felt very natural and conversational, and it was highly informative on the opinions of SLCA, and what the organization proposes as alternatives to UDOT’s current favored policies. 

My sources at UDOT, Josh Van Jura and John Gleason, were also very helpful to me in crafting my story. While it took much longer to get in contact with them, they were happy to tell their side of the story. Even though UDOT’s proposals distress me, I am grateful for the information they provided.

This brings me to the moral dilemma I experienced when crafting my story: I feel very strongly that UDOT is dead wrong about the proposed traffic solutions in Little Cottonwood. I wondered, before the interviews, if my opinion would shift more to center between these opposing organizations after talking to both sides. The opposite happened. When writing, I found it difficult to remain objective. To address this, I did my best to provide both sides with the same amount of representation in the article. Luckily, all my sources gave me plenty of information; I could have written pages more for each of my sources, so providing equal representation in my article was not much of a challenge.

My sources were what made this story so enjoyable to write. I am very happy with my decision to interview sources who are on opposite sides of an issue, and this is something that I will take with me to future articles. Hearing my sources address the ideas of their opposition and offer a rebuttal made my article both easy to write and, I hope, interesting to read.

ABOUT ME:

I am a full-time student at the University of Utah pursuing a degree in communication with an emphasis in journalism. After starting my academic career in the chemistry department, I realized journalism was the best way for me to explore my passion for the outdoors in a productive way. I plan to use my platform as a journalist to bring awareness to issues important to me, such as environmental and social justice. My hobbies have been shaped by the communities I have grown up in, and by extension they have influenced what I’m passionate about. These hobbies include rock climbing, skiing, and skateboarding. I also enjoy cooking and playing the violin.

UDOT’s plans for transit in Little Cottonwood will affect climbing along with traffic

Story and photos by JACOB FREEMAN

If you’ve driven in Little Cottonwood Canyon in the past few years, the problems it faces are hard to miss. The narrow road creates traffic backups that can stretch far out of the mouth of the canyon in winter months, when snowy conditions compound its problems. Add to this the hundreds of thousands of annual visitors, and it’s clear to see why people are calling for an update to transportation up and down Little Cottonwood.

A gondola would transport passengers here from the mouth of the Little Cottonwood Canyon.

The Utah Department of Transportation has two updates in mind. One is an added shoulder for busses to travel on. The other is a gondola stretching from the mouth of the canyon to the ski resorts Alta and Snowbird.

Both proposed solutions aim to improve traffic flow in Little Cottonwood, near Salt Lake City. But both of UDOT’s proposals will also have an irreversible impact on rock climbing in the canyon, and that has activists and community members worried.

“That is potentially the biggest threat to loss of climbing resources and climbing access that we’ve seen on the Wasatch Front in a couple decades,” David Carter said in an interview over Zoom. Carter works on the board of directors for the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance, an advocacy group that aims to protect access to rock climbing in the Wasatch mountain range. He also serves as the chair of the SLCA’s policy and conservation committee.

Carter said the potential road widening and gondola construction come with their own unique impacts to climbing in the canyon. 

“Widening of the road is certainly the greatest of potential impact,” Carter said. “There we’re looking at dozens of boulders that could potentially be destroyed, and hundreds of bouldering problems.”

Climbers in Little Cottonwood park and climb on boulders less than 15 feet from the road.

Destruction of boulders isn’t the only impact that SLCA is worried about. Carter said that changes to the overall climbing experience will inevitably be a pitfall of the proposals. 

“It basically impacts any climbing that happens in that main canyon corridor, because if you’re climbing at the Gate Buttress you’re going to look over and be level with gondolas running by,” Carter said. Gate Buttress is one of the most popular rock climbing walls in Little Cottonwood.

However, destruction of climbing resources remains Carter’s main concern. “The roadway widening — it’s hard to see how that would not result in permanent loss of iconic, world-class bouldering.”

These are concerns that UDOT has heard from SLCA on numerous occasions, said Josh Van Jura, project manager at UDOT.

“They’re obviously very concerned with boulders being removed, as well as the viewshed,” Van Jura said in a phone interview. Viewshed refers to an impact on scenery by structures or pollution.

Van Jura explained that UDOT plans to eliminate roadside parking in Little Cottonwood, a move that aims to address safety concerns created by people walking up and down the busy, narrow street. This would also help to prevent road erosion and environmental strain caused by “spider trails,” paths created by many people walking to a similar destination from different starting points, Van Jura said. To make up for lost parking, UDOT plans to build four new parking areas, which he said would keep the total number of parking spots about the same.

Carter disagrees that the number of spaces is all that matters. He said SLCA understands the safety concerns created by roadside parking in the canyon, but these changes to parking will inevitably lead to a loss of access to climbing resources.

“We’ve been working in good faith to help improve the safety of the situation and we feel like the needs of climbers and other dispersed recreators haven’t been taken into account,” Carter said.

UDOT created an environmental impact statement, or EIS, to analyze the potential effects of the proposed projects. These projects have been narrowed down to an added shoulder lane or gondola. However, “a no-action alternative is always considered as an alternative,” Van Jura said. UDOT also collected public comments about the impact statement in order to make sure its analysis was complete.

“One of the preferred alternatives comes from the last comment summary,” John Gleason said in a phone interview. He is the public information officer at UDOT. “We have received over 13,000 comments on the EIS. We will undoubtedly have a better EIS because of it.”

The goal of obtaining these comments was to make sure UDOT had conducted a complete analysis. “The goal is not a vote,” Van Jura said about the public comment period.

SLCA has submitted its own public comments to UDOT, in conjunction with its meetings with UDOT officials. While SLCA agrees that something has to be done to mitigate traffic in Little Cottonwood, Carter says UDOT’s two preferred alternatives are going too far, when cheaper and less impactful alternatives have yet to be explored.

“Our No. 1 message is, let’s not start with very costly, very impactful, permanent infrastructure changes. It’s irreversible, it’s irresponsible from a policy perspective,” Carter said.

Carter said SLCA is in favor of more flexible, less impactful traffic mitigation solutions, such as increased busses and tolling.

“Why not try those measures to see if you can get that many folks off the road before we go build a gondola or widen the road,” Carter said.

Rose Shimberg

MY STORY:

From competition to camaraderie: the rise of women’s ski groups in the Wasatch Mountains

MY BLOG:

The idea for my enterprise story initially came to me during one of our class sessions when I was thinking about topics that interest me. I am an avid skier and got the idea to look into some of the all-female ski groups that I know of in the area. This appealed to me because I love skiing and wanted to document the growing inclusivity in the sport. Because I am not a member of any of the groups I focused on, I was still detached enough to tell their story objectively.

I primarily used Instagram to locate and contact my sources. My sources were all younger people, so I thought I would be more likely to receive a quick response if I reached out to them via Instagram direct message instead of email. This suspicion turned out to be correct — each of my sources got back to me the same day I reached out. This strategy also made sense because the Salt Lake Sisterhood functions primarily as an Instagram page. From there, I was able to see people who were tagged in posts or mentioned in comments to find some options for my sources. I think that the sources I ended up with were a perfect selection for my story.

Nicole Weaver, as the local representative for a global organization, demonstrated the link between changes here in Utah and a wider movement of inclusivity. She was passionate about Womb Tang and had a lot to share about the group.

Sarah McMath was a great source to talk to about her initiative, Alta Lady Shred, which, although it was put on hold the past couple of seasons due to the pandemic, was founded back in 2017. She had a great perspective and was able to reflect on how things have changed since she started the group.

McMath was also a segue to the Salt Lake Sisterhood and my next source, Clare Chapman because they are close friends and coordinated Lady Shred together. Chapman could then talk more about the Salt Lake Sisterhood page, which she runs by herself, and connect back to McMath, who has been a long-time supporter of the project.

Making sense of the information I compiled was one of my biggest challenges. I used Otter to transcribe my recordings. After the interviews, I combed through the text, picking out the most important information and themes and copying down quotes that had potential. After doing this with all three interviews, I began to narrow down what I had collected and piece it into a preliminary order. This became a long and messy draft, which is not uncommon with my writing projects. But the process helped me discover a theme that emerged in each interview, which was the shifting narrative from competition between women in skiing to the idea of uplifting one another instead.

In terms of my writing process, I often struggle with stripping down my stories to create something compact and complete. This assignment was a good exercise in condensing a lot of information into a small amount of text and making hard decisions about what to include.

Overall, I didn’t experience too many setbacks or major dilemmas while writing this story. However, due to my sources’ availability, I had to conduct two of the interviews the week the story was due, which didn’t give me much time to piece together my draft. However, it was good to practice writing a piece under a tight deadline.

Although I was initially nervous to reach out to sources, I was pleasantly surprised by the eager response I received from each one. It has given me more confidence as I move forward with a career in journalism.

ABOUT ME:

My name is Rose Shimberg and my path to Communication at the University of Utah has been a bit unconventional. I grew up in rural New Hampshire, where I spent a lot of my time skiing, rock climbing, and playing sports. However, I loved to create from an early age. An only child, I spent free time at home, long car rides in the backseat, and even family meal times reading, writing stories, and drawing. After high school, I attended the University of Vermont, where I received my BA in Geography with a minor in Community and International Development.

The study of human geography gave me an understanding of the intersectional nature of the issues facing the world today and a passionate drive to do something about it. But toward the end of my college career, I realized more and more that I couldn’t envision myself going into the field in my future. Although I was passionate about the topics I studied, I wanted to create something. In a mid-pandemic revelation, I decided that I’d been adhering to the path I’d carved out for myself for too long. What I wanted to do was simple. It was my first passion, my longtime hobby, the manifestation of the ideas bouncing around in my head. It was suddenly obvious. I wanted to write.

Acting upon this epiphany has gotten me where I am now. On top of continuing my studies by taking journalism courses at the U, I work full-time and do freelance content writing on the side. I hope that the experience and samples I gain through my coursework will help me to follow my passion and land a job or internship in the industry soon. Ideally, I will one day get the chance to write about the many issues facing our world today — and use my voice to do something about them.

From competition to camaraderie: the rise of women’s ski groups in the Wasatch Mountains

Story by ROSE SHIMBERG

Am I fast enough? Am I good enough?

Newcomers to Womb Tang are often hesitant at first. It’s intimidating to approach a group of women, gathered for a skiing or biking session, talking and laughing and hyping each other up.

Asking the question takes a considerable effort, a deep breath in. A familiar insecurity is suppressed for just a moment.

Can I ride with you?

Nicole Weaver is familiar with those questions. She used to feel the same way. It’s one of the reasons she became an ambassador for Womb Tang in the first place.

Expert, intermediate, still struggling to get your boots on. Everyone is welcome at Womb Tang.

Womb Tang members, from left, Grace Gustaferro, Sylvia Kinosian, and Nicole Weaver enjoying a snowy day at Solitude Resort. Photo courtesy of Nicole Weaver.

“That’s the whole point,” Weaver said.

Womb Tang isn’t just for Utahns. The organization, dedicated to connecting female skiers, started as a school project among friends in Alberta, Canada, and now has members all over the world.

It’s just one of several groups bringing women together in the growing ski community in the Wasatch Mountains of northeastern Utah. More and more women are riding together and fighting back against an industry that’s deeply rooted in misogyny and has historically pitted one woman against the other.

To Weaver, that’s the beauty of Womb Tang.

“We’re not trying to be the best girl in the group or in competition with one another,” she said.

Weaver grew up skiing in the Midwest before she moved to Utah. When she first arrived, she struggled to find where she belonged as an intermediate skier.

At the helm of Womb Tang Wasatch, she’s created a space where women at any level can feel welcome.

Nicole Weaver ski touring. Her friend Nikayla Cooper’s dog, Roo, keeps her company. Photo courtesy of Nicole Weaver.

“No matter what you’re working on, whatever it is, we’re here to cheer you on and help you in whatever you want to achieve,” she said.

But Womb Tang isn’t the only group of its kind in the area.

Alta Lady Shred started in 2017. And its founder, Sarah McMath, is just as excited about it as ever.

McMath has found that skiing with women is all about energy. As a bubbly, outgoing person, her goal is to use her energy to uplift others. This can be challenging in a sport that has historically been linked to competition.

“When it comes to skiing with women, there’s a positivity that we can bring to this sport that has this negative energy sometimes. It’s like this weird negative, combative space,” McMath said in a Zoom interview.

McMath, in a self-described one-third-life crisis, packed her bags and moved across the country from Kentucky to Utah.

She told her friends she’d be gone for six weeks. It’s been six years and she’s not going anywhere.

After getting a job at Alta Ski Area, McMath began to run the social media for the resort. Her first thought (“selfishly”) was that she wanted to get more women skiing together.

She decided on a weekly time and started posting about Lady Shred meet-ups. Initially, she dragged her friends along. But the numbers just kept climbing.

Clare Chapman, on the hunt for female skiing partners, was one of those attendees. She quickly befriended McMath and took a role in helping her run the program. 

“It would be a lot of local girls joining and then we’d have women who were like, ‘I’m sick of skiing with my husband’ or ‘I’m from out of town and my kids are in ski school and I just don’t know what to do,’” Chapman said.

Sedona King, far left, Sarah McMath, Clare Chapman, and Mary Noyes decked out in cheetah print at Alta Lady Shred. Photo courtesy of Sarah McMath.

Chapman is also the founder of The Salt Lake Sisterhood, an Instagram platform connecting and uplifting women around Utah. The project took off at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, which pulled people from the slopes and plopped them in front of their phones.

Chapman hoped to use the platform to connect with others in a virtual space and keep alive the spirit of camaraderie found through Lady Shred.

McMath, who describes herself as The Salt Lake Sisterhood’s biggest cheerleader, found that the page reached a wide audience amid the pandemic, making more people aware of Lady Shred and the multitude of female skiers in the community.

“We were able to stand on the Sisterhood last year and make a little more noise because we had to use that as our Lady Shred platform,” she said.

Chapman’s path to Alta and Lady Shred was a bit different.

A gymnast for many years, she was used to being competitive around other women. When it came to skiing, she was the only woman in her group. It took a monumental life change to begin to look at things differently.

“I went through this breakup and we had like, almost all mutual friends and they’re almost all guys. And I felt so intimidated by women and I wanted to change that,” she said.

Not limited to skiing alone, Chapman shares posts and stories from women in the community about many different things: other sports, art, self-expression. With friends offering to help, Chapman has organized events of all kinds. Fitness classes. A writing group. An earring-making workshop.

Seeing everyone’s unique talent inspires her. She said her aim is to inspire others as well, even if they never get the chance to meet in person.

“What I’ve focused on is just creating an empowering space within social media because it can be so negative and stressful but so addicting at the same time,” she said. “So if you’re on it I want there to be something good.”

The three women agree that they have seen things improve for women in the skiing community. Just a few years ago, all-female groups were a rare sighting on the mountain. Change is coming — and groups like Womb Tang, Lady Shred, and The Salt Lake Sisterhood are the catalysts.

“I think this kind of support between women has really grown,” Chapman said. “Women are acknowledging that they rip and they can also shred with women. They don’t have to ski with the guys.”

Alejandro Lucero

MY STORY:

Utah Humanities aims to bridge political polarization across the state

MY BLOG:

Deciding to focus my story on political polarization wasn’t a hard choice. I have been taking many classes focusing on the freedom of expression and how it is important for a free flow of information for society to truly thrive. The problem as I see it today, is that faith in journalists is at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Rather than listening and trusting communication professionals to disseminate accurate and credible information, many people chose to believe reposts on social media that tend to have zero credibility. I wanted to investigate what a solution to this problem is, and what initiatives local organizations have taken to bridge this gap.

The hardest part about writing this article was developing the focus statement or nut graph. As I conducted my interviews, I realized that my perceived solutions to political polarization were off the mark. I believed that the Conversations held by Utah Humanities was the answer because it allows constructive dialogue for people who have differing opinions. It was only after speaking with Professor Kevin Coe, that made me realize the problem was structural and needs massive overhaul. Learning that was defeating in a way because I wanted to focus on solutions, not perpetuate problems. My solution was to revamp the focus into a question, and to end with what the Conversations do best, show the humanity in one another.

I appreciate all my sources being so accommodating and knowledgeable. Without their input and perspectives, I wouldn’t have been able to dive into the problems and solutions of political polarization. The only thing I would want to change, was being able to meet face to face with them, so we could have shared this information over a hot cup of joe.

I believe that this was a good start for my portfolio as a print journalist. I learned that the best ideas come to you on a Friday evening while walking across the street to a 7-Eleven, so always keep a voice recorder handy. I learned that grammatically no good I am sometimes, those pesky commas! I hope I can continue to grow and build off of this piece to become the dynamic storyteller that I aspire to be.

ABOUT ME:

A child watching TV at all hours of the day is as expected as the sun rising in the morning. But when I would begrudgingly watch the news with my grandparents, there weren’t many reporters who looked like me. Unfortunately, that is a trend that has continued.

I want to become a journalist to inspire other high-energy, storytelling, chatter box Chicano kids because I didn’t even know that this was an avenue perfectly suited for my abilities until I was 24 years old.

I am a student at the University of Utah studying communication with an emphasis in journalism. I also work as a videographer for ABC4 and a public affairs specialist with the Utah National Guard. I love writing, but I have also been drawn to photography since graduating from the Defense Information School as a PAO.

Regardless of the medium, I aim to prove that Latinos in the media don’t have to stick solely to the immigration beats. I plan on becoming a dynamic storyteller who brings life and care to every story I cover, while hopefully inspiring some mocosos along the way.

Utah Humanities aims to bridge political polarization across the state

Story by ALEJANDRO LUCERO

A month before the 2020 election, roughly 8 in 10 registered voters on both sides of the aisle said their differences with the other side were about core American values such as the economy, racial justice and climate change, according to a 2020 study done by the Pew Research Center.

“I feel like we sort of lost that ability to have a conversation without feeling like we have to convince each other of our side,” Caitlin McDonald said in a Zoom call.

Utah Humanities, a Salt Lake City-based nonprofit, created the Community Conversations as a space for respectful dialogue. But is it enough to help alleviate the political polarization plaguing Utahns across the state? McDonald, the program manager in charge of the Conversations, knows that bridging the gap is not a painless task for participants.

“It’s not an easy thing. It’s not all puppies and rainbows. It’s not all hugging each other. It’s hard, and it’s emotional, and we’ve had people cry,” McDonald said.

Participants attend a Community Conversation in person pre-pandemic. Utah Humanities, a Salt Lake City nonprofit, has been hosting hard and uncomfortable conversations about relevant and polarizing topics to create meaningful dialogue in the Salt Lake Valley. Photo provided by Utah Humanities.

Utah Humanities has been hosting hard and uncomfortable conversations about relevant and polarizing topics such as racial justice, climate change and civic participation since its inception in 2015. Pre-pandemic, these conversations were held in person. Currently they reside within the virtual walls of Zoom. Regardless of the meeting space, McDonald said she believes the process of creating meaningful and productive dialogue is more successful than regular town halls or other forums where people come ready to argue and yell at one another.

Part of the Utah Humanities’ success can be attributed to its Conversation Agreements that serve as a code of conduct for these monthly meetings. The agreements outline expectations for how the conversations will be held and how participants are expected to conduct themselves. The guidelines include “respecting all participants, … thoughtfully considering perspectives which are contrary to their own and behaving courteously should a disagreement and/or non-closure occur.”

McDonald said all participants must sign the agreement before any dialogue can begin. This weeds out anyone who is looking to come with pitchforks in hand.

The Conversation Agreements are meant to serve as a guideline that all participants must agree to before attending a Conversation. The Agreements help weed out agitators and trolls looking for an argument, not constructive dialogue. Photo provided by Utah Humanities.

“Because as we’ve seen, people’s rules for behavior seem to have changed recently. What’s acceptable in public and what’s acceptable in how we treat each other? I’ve seen it change in the past few years,” McDonald said.

She also said that weeding out the agitators who are looking to throw gasoline onto the political fire has proven to be beneficial, as they have never kicked out a participant. The agreement also helps alleviate some concerns of first-time participants, while also providing them with a space to be vulnerable and listen openly to perspectives that they might disagree with.

“These conversations just give them a chance to come somewhere where you don’t have to come with your guard up,” McDonald said. “You can come knowing that you’re in a space where you can express yourself, but also hear somebody else express themselves without fear of being yelled at.”

One participant is openly looking for this challenge of ideas and values. Steven Olsen is a senior history curator for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He said he embraces aspects of the humanities such as diverse thinking and the civil interchange of sharing ideas. Olsen said he is especially interested in the perspectives that differ from those around him. 

“I really am interested in sharing that perspective with others in a kind of an academic setting or from an academic perspective, but also gaining other insights that I might not get from my own tribe, as it were,” Olsen said in a Zoom interview.

It might seem as if Olsen has found his happy place within the virtual walls of the Zoom Conversations, but the problem is, he has had a hard time garnering a new perspective from these sessions.

“Unfortunately, there hasn’t been the kind of diversity of perspectives that I had kind of hoped [for] going forward, I would say it’s mostly centered left of center,” Olsen said.

The lack of contrasting opinions interests Kevin Coe, a professor with an emphasis in political communication at the University of Utah. But he believes the problem is bigger than a conversation.

“It’s useful to think in terms of some of those interpersonal solutions [Community Conversations] as small-scale acts of goodness, that are useful. They won’t ultimately be enough to solve the problem, right? Because the problem is structural,” Coe said in a Zoom interview.

The structural problem Coe is referring to involves the amount of information and misinformation that can be found on social media, and how that changing information environment is shaped and influenced by political structures and those in power. Social media and news outlets could be to blame due to the number of opinions that are now in the marketplace of ideas. But Coe said he thinks the real problem lies within the curators who are controlling the release of questionable content being cultivated for public consumption.

“The deeper problem is that people are toxic because people are creating that information environment, and particularly people in power, who often have an incentive to put out misinformation, for example,” Coe said.

Power isn’t the only incentive to deceive the public.

“To get that misinformation to circulate and that might be a monetary incentive as a way for them to just increase their own personal wealth, say, unscrupulous journalists … an unscrupulous participant in the media environment who benefits financially from having their message, which … they know is factually inaccurate, circulate widely, because it builds attention for them,” Coe said.  

This could be applied as well to politicians who use misinformation or inflammatory remarks to influence their following and maintain power. Coe also said it would take a broader reform of the political and information system to reach the overarching goal that those interpersonal acts of communication like the Conversations are seeking.

It might seem like the deck has been stacked against the participants of the Conversations like Steven Olsen, who look through the lens of the humanities to navigate these uncomfortable conversations and polarizing topics. But there is consensus and hope among those who attend, that the Conversations will continue to provide participants with the opportunity to not see a political enemy on the other side of the aisle, but a vulnerable person who also wants what is best for the country.

“Those conversations can rise above the particulars of our contention, you know, the differences of our points of view,” Olsen said. “To see the human underpinnings of even the necessity of having differences of opinion, in other words, it’s not about who’s right and who’s wrong, but it’s about the meaning of the truth that we’re seeking from the conversation.”

The Utah Humanities building, located at 202 300 N. in Salt Lake City, was once the home of the Community Conversations. The Conversations are currently taking place on Zoom and have allowed people from across the state and nation to participate. Photo provided by Utah Humanities.

Katey Kolesky

MY STORY:

Urban Flea Market creates community for locals

MY BLOG:

I have always had a passion for thrifting and shopping locally. In summer I love getting up early on Saturday and Sunday mornings to attend garage sales, flea markets and swap meets. When brainstorming for my enterprise story I wanted to focus on something I was passionate about. A friend of mine told me about his experience attending the Urban Flea Market a few days before and I was immediately interested in attending. 

Once I knew that I wanted to focus on the Urban Flea Market as the main idea for my story, I needed to get in contact with local vendors so that I could ask questions about their experience with the Urban Flea Market. My friend told me about some of his favorite vendors when he was in attendance. After doing some research on the local vendors, I knew who I wanted to interview. Once arriving at the Urban Flea Market it was time to meet with the vendors and take pictures. 

I originally wanted to base my story on how local small businesses were going to be affected with the ending of summer markets. I was under the impression that Oct. 10, 2021 was to be the last chance to attend the market. Once I arrived, I had learned that there would be an indoor winter Urban Flea Market that started in December. 

I had already prepared a list of questions to ask the vendors about how the end of summer markets was going to affect their small business. It was at this time that I had to think on my feet and pivot the topic of my story. After some quick thinking I decided to focus on the community that the Urban Flea Market builds. 

Once I decided to make the focus of my story on the community, I had to think of new questions to ask in my interviews. By making the focus of my story on the community rather than profits, I was able to ask more open-ended questions that sparked insightful conversations.  

Finally after I had conducted all of my interviews and taken my pictures, I went home to go over my notes and listen to the interviews. I typed out my handwritten notes and typed out my favorite quotes from listening to the interviews. It was at this time that I realized I didn’t have as much information or quotes that I thought I needed.

This problem stems from me conducting my interviews at the market. Although I do think this was still a good time to get pictures and attend the market, maybe a different time for interviewing might have been better. Due to how busy the market was and the vendors catering to their customers, it was hard to get the undivided attention of the vendors. I felt bad taking their attention away from their customers to conduct our interview. 

I learned a lot about the writing process while writing this assignment. I had never written any type of journalism piece before so this was a new skill that I was developing. Once I had created an outline for how I wanted my story to flow I was able to craft a story that I was very proud of. This project pushed me out of my comfort zone and it is something I’m happy to have accomplished. 

ABOUT ME:

I am a senior at the University of Utah studying strategic communication. I will be graduating this spring of 2022. After graduation I hope to pursue a career in public relations, marketing or advertising in the fashion industry. I have a passion for fashion and it’s something that I love to incorporate in my everyday life. I fell in love with clothing and thrifting at a very young age when my father and I would attend yard sales and go thrifting on Saturday mornings. I am passionate about sustainability and how it can affect climate change and the environment. I have volunteered with many climate organizations in Utah and I hope to bring my take on sustainable fashion practices to every job that I am involved with. I love the hunt of finding my own piece of treasure and I hope to inspire others to use thrifting as a way to live more sustainably. 

Urban Flea Market creates community for locals

Story and photos by KATEY KOLESKY

The crisp autumn air fills the wind as the end of summer approaches. Shoppers stroll down the brick paving in downtown Salt Lake City in hopes of finding something special. Music and chatter swells as shoppers dig around local booths looking for their own piece of treasure. 

The Urban Flea Market is home to a variety of local vendors, who are able to come together, grow their business and create a sense of community for local businesses and shoppers. The Urban Flea Market’s Instagram describes the event as “the biggest SLC flea market! Eclectic vintage, yard sale style, and crafted items — clothing, records, furniture, art, and more.”

An article published in SLUG Magazine says that Kate Wheaton and Michael Sanders founded the market in 2011 after they were influenced by New York and L.A. style of inner-city parking lot markets.

After realizing that Utah was missing its own flea market, Wheaton and Sanders decided to bring this market style to Salt Lake City. 

Over the last 11 years this event has grown into a downtown Salt Lake City staple for locals and visitors. 

According to the Urban Flea Market’s website, this is a year-round market that is thrown every second Sunday of each month located at The Gateway, in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City. 

The Gateway’s website states that the market features 80-plus vendors selling the best vintage clothing, antique decor, original artworks, handcrafted jewelry, collectables and much more.

This market also includes a special guest DJ playing music with local food trucks feeding patrons as they shop. 

The market runs 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and has a $2 entrance fee for adults, with free admission for children under the ages of 12.

A variety of unique vendors are involved with the Urban Flea Market such as Wild Future, a booth that grabs people’s attention with its unique handcrafted colorful jewelry and accessories. 

These beaded bracelets and necklaces by Tiffany Hwang are handmade with freshwater pearls, natural crystals, millefiori glass beads and 18k gold-plated clasps. Also featured are hand-crocheted earrings that resemble fruits and flowers with hypoallergenic gold-plated earring bodies. 

Tiffany Hwang, the owner of Wild Future, said when she started her business in 2020 she sought out many markets around Utah before attending the Urban Flea Market as a customer first. 

After visiting the Urban Flea Market, Hwang said she loved the community, and knew it was the perfect place to grow her business. 

“Best market of all,” Hwang said.

The location, variety of vendors and customers makes it a great space for Hwang to attract shoppers as she is in the process of building her online store. 

Due to its popularity, Wild Future has seen its sales increase thanks to the Urban Flea Market helping to grow its fanbase. 

On the flip side, Brittney Lee, who co-founded Earth and Ether with Haley Millet, had never attended the Urban Flea Market until her first time as a vendor.

Haley Millet, left, and Brittney Lee of Earth and Ether. They are pictured standing behind UniTea’s sun and moon herbal tea blends Ghouls, Moonlight and Divinitea, all sustainably sourced and infused with healing frequencies. 

Earth and Ether, an energy work healing service, has been a vendor at the Urban Flea Market since summer 2020. The business is centered around stones and energy-infused liquid that Lee described as “all about the soul, spirit, mind, [and] body.”

UniTea is a branch of Earth and Ether founded by Millet. The tea is brewed from mountain rose herbs that are sustainably harvested into sun and moon tea blends infused with healing frequencies. 

The Earth and Ether website states, “Earth and Ether was created for a soul experience. We have combined and made available multiple avenues in how you choose your path to unlocking your higher self and inner wisdom. From reiki infused crystals, private healing sessions, skin treatments, and community healings, you can embark on your path to inner healing and embrace your ascension.”

Stones and crystals such as amethyst and red quartz for sale at the Earth and Ether booth with information cards stating the healing properties of each item.

Lee and Millet participate in local markets throughout the greater Salt Lake City area, but this is the one they attend most frequently. 

“One of the best markets for sure,” Lee said, standing behind the booth filled with stones, crystals and homemade herbal teas. 

When asked to describe the community at the Urban Flea Market, Lee said, “It’s amazing!

Lee said older patrons tend to shop first. She called them “a little more reserved,” but added that “they know what they want.” Later, younger shoppers “dig through vintage stuff.”

Millet added, “Also the conscious community comes in strong. A lot of people want to support people who are doing it (creating products) sustainably.”

Lee said in a subsequent text interview, “The Urban Flea Market is always beneficial to meet and talk with wonderful souls.”

Chelsey Cummings, owner of Vintage by Chelsey, had attended the Urban Flea Market for years before becoming a vendor. 

“I attended the flea, shopped the flea, and then I was like ‘I think I need to do it,’ so that’s how I started this,” Cummings said.

Vintage by Chelsey or VBC for short, is a mix of eclectic, modern vintage clothing pieces and accessories sourced by its owner. The Vintage by Chelsey website describes her business as “curated vintage clothing for modern trends & timeless style.” 

After becoming obsessed with the hunt for vintage clothing, Cummings began selling her collection at local markets and pop-ups. 

You can find VBC at other local stores such as The Hive Market, Salt and Honey and the Outlets Park City. 

Her vintage shop began to thrive when she started selling her treasured finds at the Urban Flea Market in October 2020.  

The Vintage by Chelsey booth features Chelsey Cummings’ curated vintage finds ranging from luggage to leather booths and coats. Most items date between the 1960s to 1990s. 

“The Urban Flea has allowed my business to grow within the local community. I was primarily selling on Etsy and now I have shifted to local stores and customers. The flea has also given me so many lifelong friends and connections,” Cummings said in a follow-up text interview.  

The Urban Flea Market has created a space and community for local vendors to connect and grow with their shoppers. 

Want to attend the Urban Flea Market, but missed the summer market? No worries — you can find Vintage by Chelsey, Earth and Ether, and Wild Future and many other local vendors at the indoor winter Urban Flea Market starting Dec. 12, 2021.

Kristine Weller

MY STORY:

How the Know Your Neighbor program helps refugees and volunteers in SLC

MY BLOG:

When considering enterprise story ideas, I did not want to take the easy way out. I really wanted to search for a topic that I was passionate about and would enjoy writing. I first thought of big picture things that interest me and that I have a passion for. Topics of interest included sustainability, human rights and mental health. 

I knew, however, that I needed to be specific when picking a story idea. Coincidentally, my sister had just become a volunteer for the Know Your Neighbor program. This program aids refugees and seemed to fit my passions well. I knew the Know Your Neighbor program was an important topic that I would enjoy writing about. 

My sister gave me the contact information for the volunteer coordinator, Megan McLaws, at Know Your Neighbor. McLaws was a wonderful source, and she put me in contact with two volunteers, Lexie Hanks and Kim Langton.

Hanks was a great source because she has been an active volunteer in the Know Your Neighbor program for a little over a year. Further, she has volunteered in a number of different ways, including virtual tutoring and going to the goat farm that is run by a Refugee Community Based Organization (RCBO).

Langton was also a great source because he has been an active volunteer for over three years and is also on the board for an RCBO, the Umoja Generation, which also aids refugees. He gave good insight on how helping refugees has impacted his own life and the new perspectives that can be gained from it. 

After interviewing McLaws, Hanks, and Langton I needed to focus my story. The biggest problem for me, however, was that there was so much good information, thoughts and quotes I wanted to use. All three of my interviewees had something inspiring and profound to say, but I couldn’t include everything they shared.

I didn’t get to include Hanks’ story about reading “Snowy Day” to the refugee kids she tutored virtually. As she read this story, the kids stopped her because they were excited that it was snowing outside, just like in the book.  

Langton also had some fun stories that I couldn’t include, one being about the refugee he mentors. After Langton’s mentee called him from a Walmart parking lot with smoke coming out of the engine of his first car, Langton explained that you have to change the oil in your car every few months. 

While I didn’t include everything each interviewee discussed, I did pick out important aspects of what each person shared, and was able to craft a story that explains what the Know Your Neighbor program is and how it helps volunteers and refugees alike.

ABOUT ME:

Growing up, I was never sure what I wanted to do when I became an adult. When I was very young, I always said that I wanted to be an angel when I was older. This, obviously, couldn’t become a reality. 

Despite my first dream “job” being unrealistic, I still felt I needed to pick a specific path. Over the years, I have considered many options when it came to a career. I felt I needed to plan out with certainty what I was going to do. 

I now have realized that it’s impossible to plan for the future in this way. I instead have started to focus on what I value, what I’m passionate about and what will be fulfilling and aim toward goals that encompass those ideas. 

Considering this, I want to fight for the rights of others and spread awareness surrounding issues regarding race, mental health, ethnicity, gender, class and sexual orientation. Furthermore, I wish to inspire people of all ages through advocacy and writing. 

How the Know Your Neighbor program helps refugees and volunteers in SLC

Story by KRISTINE WELLER

When refugees arrive in the U.S. they are matched with one of nine nonprofit organizations. There are two such organizations in Utah, the International Rescue Committee and Catholic Community Services. The problem is, however, these organizations only help refugees for their first two months in the U.S. and these asylum seekers often need sustained assistance. 

This is why Utah has the Know Your Neighbor program. The Know Your Neighbor program recruits volunteers to fulfill needs and create connections between refugees and community members. 

Megan McLaws is the program’s volunteer coordinator. She matches volunteers with newcomers who require assistance. The main categories volunteers assist with are tutoring and mentorship, programs and classes, Refugee Community Based Organizations (RCBOs), and the goat farm which is a special category of RCBO.  

McLaws said that when the pandemic started, the program had an influx of volunteers, more than they had a need for. The program wasn’t matching people unless it was virtually, which made it difficult to give every volunteer an opportunity. However, now that people are going back to work, they don’t have as much time to volunteer. 

“We’re having the opposite problem where we have a lot of opportunities, and we have a lot of volunteers, but they are getting back to work and have busy schedules again,” McLaws said. 

Lexie Hanks is one of those volunteers who has a busy schedule but fits different volunteer opportunities into her day-to-day life. She said it’s best to fit opportunities in where you can, even if it’s just for an hour or two a week, since there is no shortage of needs for the refugees. 

“Volunteering can be tiring work, but it’s worth it,” Hanks said. 

Lexie Hanks and her four children get up early to help out at the goat farm. Photo courtesy of Lexie Hanks.

One of the volunteer opportunities that Hanks takes advantage of is the goat farm. The goat farm is an RCBO within the program, but it is unique because it relies heavily on volunteer support. Hanks said when volunteers go to the farm, they usually feed and water the goats as well as do health checks. However, Hanks has also vaccinated the herd and re-tagged them.

The farm is run by Somali Bantu, Burundi and Bajuni communities right outside Salt Lake City. Hanks explained that this farm is very important in preserving and passing on cultural practices related to goat farming. 

“Through helping and volunteering in that way, it gives refugees a piece of their home,” Hanks said. 

Hanks started working with the Know Your Neighbor program during the pandemic, in the summer of 2020, so for her first volunteer opportunity she was paired with a Burundi family. She helped their kids with homework virtually. 

The children in this family were in the same grades as two of Hanks’ own children, one in kindergarten and the other in third grade. Hanks’ kids came to like the children across the screen and on Fridays when she was helping them with virtual learning, she said they would often ask, “are our friends on?”

Three of Lexie Hanks’ children help feed the goats at the goat farm. Photo courtesy of Lexie Hanks.

Hanks would then tell her boys that they would have to wait until the other kids are done with their learning before they can say hello. 

Virtual learning, however, wasn’t easy. Hanks said the kids would often hold up their homework to the camera, and she would have to quickly write information down so she could help them. The language barrier also made things more difficult. 

“Kind eyes meeting kind eyes,” Hanks said, was basically the only communication she had with the parents. This is because they had recently arrived in the U.S. and hadn’t learned much English. 

Kim Langton, another volunteer, has more experience with helping refugees learn English and teaching in general. Langton has a degree in education and has been teaching and working with children since 1975. 

In fact, after retiring, Langton said he lost his fulfillment. He said he missed helping children and that’s why he began volunteering. 

Langton, more specifically, volunteers for the Umoja Generation. The Umoja Generation is an RCBO under the Know Your Neighbor program. Langton is also on the board of this RCBO and has been volunteering there for nearly three years.

Part of what Langton does is help refugee children learn conversational English. English learning is important, he said, because if students don’t understand English they won’t do well in other subjects. 

Further, Langton said it’s critical for refugee students to do something that interests them when learning English, and that they do it with others in the Utah community. It’s an easier and more fun way to learn, plus they can make new friends. 

That’s why Langton first finds something that the kids are interested in and bases a lesson around an activity. He said a lot of kids like soccer, so one of his lessons involved writing up English words that are related to the sport, talking about each word, using the words in a sentence and going out and playing some soccer.  

Langton’s grandkids also love soccer. He described them as “soccer fanatics” since they have been in competitive leagues and traveled in Utah from St. George to Ogden for tournaments and games. 

Refugees at a sewing class taught at the Utah Refugee Center. Photo courtesy of Megan McLaws.

Since Langton knew his grandkids loved soccer, he invited them to the English lesson based around it. He said his grandchildren didn’t expect the refugees to be as skilled as they are, because of their background with the sport, but they were humbled.

“They said, ‘Wow, we didn’t know they were gonna be so good. Those kids are fantastic.’ And they were, so it was a good way to start teaching them English around something they’re intrinsically interested in,” Langton said in a Zoom interview. 

Langton also is a mentor for a refugee named Didier. Didier and Langton have been working together for about a year. Langton helps with anything he needs, including homework, finding scholarships and getting his food handler’s permit. 

They communicate virtually over Zoom and text since Didier lives in West Jordan and Langton lives in Glenwood, a three-hour distance. Despite the distance, however, Langton said his mentee feels like one of his grandkids. He said they are close, and that he’s learned so much from their relationship as well.

Langton said he has learned a lot about Didier’s culture. Didier is from the Congo and Langton has heard his family play their traditional music. Langton said he also was able to better understand the refugee experience after talking about it with Didier when helping him apply to a college scholarship.

“I think he’s taught me a lot more than I’ve taught him,” Langton said. 

This is one of the main goals for the Know Your Neighbor program, for refugees to make connections with local community members. Further, Langton explained that it’s not just the volunteers who should become friends with the refugees. 

He said it’s the responsibility of everyone to make these new arrivals feel welcome and appreciated, adding that refugees are deserving of all kinds of love.

“They’re wonderful students, wonderful people,” Langton said, “hearts as big as any I’ve ever known.”

Mason Orr

MY STORY:

James Pehkonen and Kevin Thole’s mission to strengthen and empower people in their sobriety

MY BLOG:

When brainstorming ideas for my enterprise story, more than anything I felt overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by all the possible options and avenues.

I thought about my passions and hobbies. I considered topics that sparked my interest. Yet, I knew that I ultimately wanted to write about something that felt important. 

My story idea was introduced to me by my mom. Both my parents have worked with Jim Pehkonen, a “Life Architect” or “Life Coach” who works here in Salt Lake City. When my mom mentioned to me that Pehkonen had started a new podcast, “Sobriety Elevated,” with his co-host Kevin Thole, I immediately thought, “This is what I want to write about.” 

Right away I thought this was a topic that people should be informed about. In their podcast, “Sobriety Elevated,” Pehkonen and Thole discuss some really pertinent subjects relating to drug and alcohol abuse and the recovery process. I felt as though this was a resource that should be shared with others. 

First, I knew I wanted to interview Pehkonen since he is an expert in his field. He has worked with a multitude of people struggling with alcohol and drug abuse so I knew he would be a really great resource. Setting up the interview was fairly easy since I already had connections with him and shortly after reaching out, we met for coffee. As I expected, he was extremely helpful and informative. 

Pehkonen then helped me get into contact with his co-host. Unfortunately, my interview with Thole had to be over the phone since he lives in St. Louis, Missouri. However, despite the lack of face-to-face interaction, Thole was extremely helpful and offered me ample information for my story. 

When conducting the interviews I experienced difficulties with recording the conversations. I found that taking handwritten notes for both of the interviews was difficult, but overall I felt more connected with my story. 

Another challenge for me was that much of what I talked about with Pehkonen and Thole was very sensitive. Both of them gave me permission to use any of the information they provided me, but I wanted to make sure I did so in a respectful manner. 

Just from these two interviews, I was given more than enough information to write my story. I started by finding my lead. I knew I wanted to start out strong and I was hoping for a good anecdotal lead. Luckily for me, Thole provided me with a great one. From there I wanted my story to move chronologically. First, introduce Thole and Pehkonen. Then I went into how the two of them met and finally how they started their podcast. 

I found my interviews with both Thole and Pehkonen to be extremely uplifting and empowering. Hearing their stories of what they have overcome in their own lives gave me a sense of empowerment. No matter what hardship you may come across, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, and that is what I wanted the focus of my story to be. 

ABOUT ME:

I am a full-time student at the University of Utah, currently in my senior year. I expect to graduate in the fall of 2022 with a major in communication with a journalism emphasis. Writing has always been a way for me to express myself and now I hope to use writing as a tool in my career and as a way to connect with people. I have always seen writing as an opportunity to bring a community together. This is what I hope to do in my future career.

James Pehkonen and Kevin Thole’s mission to strengthen and empower people in their sobriety 

The podcast, “Sobriety Elevated,” can be found on platforms such as Spotify.

Story by MASON ORR

The Introductions

Kevin Thole was in St. Louis in April 2019, about to get onto the plane that would bring him to Salt Lake City. From Salt Lake, he was then supposed to go to Cirque Lodge, an exclusive drug and alcohol recovery retreat in Sundance, Utah.

As he walked down the aisle to his seat, he saw a woman, most likely in her 20s or early 30s, sitting in the seat next to his. 

Thole sat down, sweating and shaking uncontrollably, and looked over at the woman who was opening up what appeared to be a bible of sorts. “I’m like, oh my god, I don’t want to hear any of this crap, here I am going to Utah, she’s probably Mormon, God knows what she’s going to try and tell me,” Thole said in a phone interview.

Thole said his thoughts were interrupted as the young woman looked over at him and said, “Are you OK?” Thole said he told the woman, “No, I’m not. I ruined my entire life and I am about to lose everything.” The woman simply responded by asking, “Can I pray for you real quick?”

The woman prayed for him, and then Thole said she did something pretty incredible. “There was a 50-50 chance that I was actually going to go to treatment. There was still very much the possibility that I would get off of that plane, go somewhere else, and ruin my life completely,” he said.

At this point, the flight attendant was making her way down the aisle with the refreshment cart, which Thole said he was aware had alcohol. “All I needed was three drinks to feel better,” he said. The flight attendant stopped and asked, “What can I get for you?” Before Thole could respond, the young woman said, “He doesn’t need anything, just water.” That was the story Thole told about the woman who saved his life.

Thole started abusing drugs and alcohol at a relatively young age. “It started as medicine to numb my anxiety and uncomfortable feelings I had,” Thole said. However, it quickly escalated to a point where he was gambling, drinking and using drugs every day.

Thole said it finally got to a point where one day three people who loved him — his wife, a business partner and a former pastor — had an intervention for him. In short, they gave him an ultimatum: Get sober or risk losing these people who loved him forever. He chose to get sober. 

James Pehkonen works as a life architect in Salt Lake City for his primary income. This job requires him to talk to his clients as a therapist would and act as their coach through life. He said he is a life architect in the way he helps people rebuild their lives after experiencing trauma or hardship. 

Pehkonen has dealt with trauma as well. “Life happens to everybody,” he said. He has experienced the deaths of loved ones and sexual assault, which led to his own struggles with drug and alcohol abuse. “I have lived a life that has not always been easy,” Pehkonen said. However, he said it is this trauma that has best prepared him to coach others through difficult times now. 

Pehkonen also works for Cirque Lodge, where he does workshops and meditations in group and one-on-one sessions. 

The Meeting

Thole had a roommate at Cirque Lodge for a short time, who told him, “Hey, you’re really going to like this Jim guy. He’s kind of new age and has an unusual approach, but give him a chance.” 

With that in mind, Thole said he went to a couple of workshops with Jim Pehkonen and then decided he wanted to do some one-on-one sessions with him. “I had some pretty major trauma in my childhood, sexual trauma, that I had never dealt with, but when I met with him, I threw it all out there, telling Jim things I had never told anyone in my life,” Thole said.

Thole pretty quickly had what he called a “radical acceptance moment.” He didn’t know if it was the things Pehkonen was saying to him, but he said there was a moment where he was able to accept his life for where and what it was. “At that moment I realized this is not God’s fault, not my fault, it just is. It happened and now I have the choice to feel relief and accept my life for what it is,” Thole said.

Since Thole and Pehkonen met through the recovery retreat, there were very strict rules about when they could be in contact afterward. 

It wasn’t until leaving the recovery retreat that Thole said he decided to look up Pehkonen and reach out. Once the time was appropriate, they began working with each other. Pehkonen acted as Thole’s life coach and friend, which led them to start their podcast, “Sobriety Elevated.”

The Podcast

James Pehkonen, left, and Kevin Thole working on their podcast over a Zoom meeting. Courtesy of James Pehkonen

Pehkonen initially proposed the idea of a podcast. However, Thole said at first he felt that people wouldn’t want to hear what he had to say because he isn’t an expert. However, he said he quickly realized it would be a waste of his recovery to stay silent. Both he and Pehkonen said the most significant goal behind this podcast is to give people hope and empower them in their sobriety.

One of the perks of making a podcast from home is James Pehkonen gets to hang out with his dog Sola. Courtesy of James Pehkonen

The podcast is a way for Pehkonen and Thole to tackle different topics related to sobriety and the recovery process in a way that is easily accessible for people. This podcast was ultimately created in the hopes that it could act as a support system for others going through the same thing, Pehkonen said. 

In October 2021, the podcast had 802 downloads, averaging 200 downloads a week. The men said they hope the podcast will only continue to grow and reach the people who need it. The podcast can be found on a multitude of platforms, including Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts, RadioPublic and Reason.

The Conclusions

Both Pehkonen and Thole said they feel empowered due to their own recovery and sobriety. Their recovery from past trauma has freed them from any shame or guilt they once felt. 

They have both found ways to move on with their lives. Pehkonen has created his own business centered around helping others and Thole is a successful businessman who owns five Servpro franchises, a company that cleans up after disasters. Now they said they hope to help others feel this same empowerment in their lives. This is what “Sobriety Elevated” is all about. 

Just as the woman on the plane saved Thole, he and Pehkonen hope to save many other people as well.

Alma Bean

MY STORY:

Music is more than what we hear, it’s an inspiration

MY BLOG:

When I was introduced to the enterprise story assignment, I knew that I would write about music in some capacity. Having a degree in music, I felt that it was only right to use my previous knowledge of music from Jacksonville University to try to educate the students at the University of Utah.

At first, I wanted to speak on music in public schools and how music should be viewed as an important part of a child’s education rather than an elective that can be replaced. As I started reaching out to multiple sources and conducting further research on the subject, it seemed as it would be difficult to write on this topic since the results varied from state to state.

The sources that I managed to contact all have a background in music — all have degrees in music from different institutions (Florida State University, University of Tennessee, and University of North Carolina at Greensboro). Though each source has a degree in music, each of them has taken their education and applied it in different ways. Sherry Blevins is a student advisor at Appalachian State University while composing music. Julian Bryson teaches choral studies at Jacksonville University while composing original music. Diana Galeano works as an office assistant while performing for two A Capella groups in her spare time.  

My change in topic came at what I assumed was a bad time since I made the change the day of my first interview over Zoom with Galeano. I decided to keep the questions that I had originally prepared and try to have a fluid conversation to see what additional questions may come up during the interview process. While speaking with Galeano, she spoke a lot about how music has influenced her life even outside of performing. After hearing her passion for music, I knew that my article needed to focus on passion rather than a call for change.

My next two interviews with Bryson and Blevins had each of them speaking on their passions before I could dive into the questions I had prepared. Bryson spoke about his sexuality and how an openly gay man on campus inspired Bryson to be open about his sexual orientation and use music as a safe space. For Blevins, her wife helped her reach out to her students and prepare for competitions through music posters they developed together.

Knowing my article had a serious approach that led to a heartwarming conversation, one that was emotionally intriguing, was a weight off my shoulders. With the amount of notes I ended up taking, it was difficult to try to cut out any information. Between the three audio files being about an hour each, plus around 40 Post-it notes of information, there was a lot of information to go through.

Going through all of those notes I had gathered, it was difficult to decide what must be left on the chopping board. Going back to the audio recordings of all three interviews really helped me decide what physical notes I decided to negate. Some of the topics felt special to each specific individual, yet each managed to touch on similar topics without being gestured in that direction.

After two weeks of creating the rough draft, I felt comfortable with submitting my article. With this article being my first, I’m excited and nervous waiting to see what the people think and hopefully the readers will be able to connect with my piece.

ABOUT ME:

Alma Bean, after his final music performance at Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, Florida. Photo by Mali Evans.

My name is Alma Bean. I am currently a student at the University of Utah working toward my second bachelor’s degree, this time in communication with an emphasis in journalism. I currently have a bachelor’s degree in music from Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, Florida. As I pursue a degree in communication, I dream to bring this emphasis of journalism to the world of sports.

Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated with sports varying from football, basketball, baseball, and even swimming. My mother constantly would joke about how I am a walking, talking sports almanac.

A few months before receiving my degree from Jacksonville University, I had a lot of internal conflict on the next chapter of my life. After some self-reflecting, I decided that writing about athletes and their lives was a career change that I needed to make. Now that I have relocated to Salt Lake City, I’ve been able to do personal analysis about the Utah Jazz. Utah Sports Corner is my way of creating a portfolio while being able to track my progress as I work my way toward my degree in communication.

Music is more than what we hear, it’s an inspiration

Story by ALMA BEAN

Across the country, many music programs are for nonprofit and are surviving from community support and one’s love for music. Music can be discovered by listening on the radio or platforms such as Spotify or iTunes, or even out in public.

Many individuals use music other than performance, whether it be for leisure, study methods, or to fill the void of silence. For these individuals, music is an inspiration in their lives.

Diana Galeano, former music educator and former assistant director of A Capella Academy and current member of Blacklight and Soundoff, made it very clear that music has played a crucial role in her life.

Diana Galeano, second from the right, posing with members of Blacklight. Photo courtesy of Diana Galeano.

Galeano knew she had a “love for music” by the time she was in the fourth grade. As she progressed through middle school and high school, Galeano changed her musical focus from instrumental to vocal when she auditioned for her high school choir. While Galeano elaborated on her passion for music during a Zoom interview, she said her family provided emotional and moral support when she committed to Florida State University for vocal performance. After her first year at FSU, Galeano changed her degree emphasis to music education.

This change to music education came from the embrace that she felt not only from her family, but also from her mentor, Marcia Porter. Galeano was able to land a teaching job at Atlantic Coast High School in Jacksonville, Florida, after graduation. With fresh eyes into the real world of teaching, Galeano felt working at Atlantic Coast was great for her style “as someone who gives direction, not just musical [and] breaks things down.”

As Galeano described her teaching experience, a smile developed when she described an unexpected opportunity. After her brief time at Atlantic Coast, Galeano pursued other teaching opportunities such as working for Somerville Public Schools in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Though her stint at Somerville was brief, working with a group of students from kindergarten through eighth grade brought her joy. Her experience at Somerville made Galeano a firm believer that music should be introduced to children as soon as possible and be “used unintentionally.” She then elaborated that subconsciously people will use music from rocking their baby to teaching their children in a rhythmic format.

Julian Bryson, director of choral studies at Jacksonville University, relates to learning music unintentionally.

As a child, Bryson said he found his passion for music through church. He wanted to be able to touch the foot pedals of the piano. His parents made him a deal that he would be allowed to take piano lessons once he was able to reach the pedals.

Julian Bryson, raising his hands before conducting. Photo courtesy of Julian Bryson.

Even with the support of his mother to pursue music, Bryson said through Zoom that he almost quit music altogether because he felt bored. His interest was reignited when he saw Gloria Estefan performing “Conga” during a televised pageant. The piano solo near the end of the song was the spark that he needed. To this day, Bryson said he still hasn’t learned to play that solo.

Once Bryson pursued higher education, he chose to study pre-law at the University of Tennessee. His decision wasn’t based on credentials or professors, it was based on the culture of the university. Being a fan of the university’s football team was a big influence in his decision as well. Bryson said he changed his major to music after taking lessons from one of the piano professors on campus. Bryson then made his degree emphasis in music composition.

Two of Bryson’s mentors, Jefferson Johnson of the University of Kentucky, and Angela Batey of the University of Tennessee, both preach servant leadership. A piece of advice about servant leadership that stuck with Bryson was when he returned to Kentucky and was told by Jefferson, “It’s not about you, it’s about what we accomplish.”

Whether music influences come from a community or an individual, there is always a team behind the music that has grasped the listener’s attention. Though a single name may be listed for a song, there’s a group behind the scenes. This group is doing things including recording, mixing, promoting, and finding a studio to showcase the talent of the individual. Both Galeano and Bryson found their calling in music through group efforts.

This mentality is shared with Sherry Blevins as well. Blevins, a composer and supervisor of student teachers for Appalachian State University, said her love for music started at a young age. Her passion developed when she began her involvement with choirs. Since her passion developed in children’s choir, she said she loved working with those groups. “Music is not just a job,” Blevins said in a Zoom interview, “it’s healing.”

Sherry Blevins has over 40 music compositions to her name. Photo courtesy of Sherry Blevins.

A choir can be seen as a safe space and with this sense of community, individuals can be comfortable and open in these spaces. Developing this passion for music at a young age, these children can create emotional connections. Also, the children can work toward the success of a team rather than an individual. This is made apparent in Blevins’ award-winning composition “A Tapestry of Music” with examples of unisons and harmonies throughout the piece. Having the unisons creating a sense of unity among the choir then contrast of harmonies among different voice parts.

Though Blevins composes music for a living, music played a crucial part in her life when she suffered a brain stem stroke at the age of 26. The stroke left Blevins with a limited vocal range and limited motor function on the left side of her body. After just receiving a new teaching position before the stroke, Blevins said her employer was kind enough to keep her employed. With this newfound opportunity, Blevins gave herself a goal to persevere through the adversity. Teaching music to her students allowed her to show that the stroke would not define her. Instead, she said she wanted to be defined by how she would overcome this next chapter in her life.

Each of us has different motives and goals as we progress through life. Music can be seen as a life changing aspect in one’s life. Whether music is seen as a filler or inspirational, that is up to the beholder.

Julian Bryson, who changed his major from pre-law to music composition, tells his general music course students, “Music gives us the opportunity to practice without the risk of dying.”

Jhareil Hutchinson

MY STORY:

Diversity, equity & inclusion: Inside the David Eccles School of Business 

MY BLOG:

I originally wanted to write a story on how social media has shaped our generation. I wanted to find a way to show how social media has affected us and analyze how it would continue to play a pivotal role in our lives moving forward. Over the years we have seen race-related issues captured on our phones and then later shared on social media. Seeing how social media has shaped society and played a role in many historical events, I wanted to explore how diversity and inclusion has become a topic of debate. 

I originally came up with writing about diversity and inclusion at the David Eccles School of Business through everything that has happened over the last couple of years. Seeing all of the protests and injustices that were going on made me feel upset and I was emotionally drained. I don’t think the business school takes into consideration how the stigma of being a business student and a person of color affects one’s mind and educational career. 

Having been at the business school for a year, I have experienced many different types of microaggressions. These microaggressions have come in many forms such as being asked where I’m really from, the origin of my name, being mask-shamed, and being called many different rude and offensive names. There are not many students of color who go to business school, which makes it hard for one to connect and feel safe while training to learn and grow as a student and person. My main goal was to think of ideas the business school and I could start doing to make students feel like they belong. 

I located my sources through my scholarship. I am part of First Ascent Scholars, which is a program through the business school. First Ascent Scholars has provided many different resources such as tutoring, professional mentors, therapists, and financial help. I interviewed a fellow First Ascent Scholar, Julie Paredes-Pozas, who was able to explain how she genuinely felt about the business school. This helped my story gain another voice and perspective on this important and timely issue.

I also created a simple, anonymous Google survey that I sent out over my Instagram. I wanted to gain insight from students of color who were attending the business school and see how they felt about their feelings and inclusiveness of the business school. 

My last resource came from a representative from the business school itself. Bethany Crowell helped me gain insight into the business school’s demographics. The numbers were not surprising but it was still startling and interesting to look at in comparison to other departments. 

I felt like these were the best sources because they were the most timely and relevant. Paredes-Pozas’ voice was very helpful in adding a student perspective, as well as the anonymous Google survey. The graph added an important element to the story because it helps the reader see what I was trying to tell. Without the graphs, I don’t think my story would be the same. 

I didn’t encounter any obstacles but I did have to scale back some of my writing in my draft because I felt like I went into too much detail. In some of my Google surveys, there were some names that students had been called which I decided not to put in my story. I decided not to because the words are very hurtful and not nice to say. I don’t think I’ll include it in my blog because of how derogatory and mean those words are.

The pandemic did not pose any problems for me but I felt that it was easier to conduct one of my interviews on Zoom. This was easier because it allowed me to be remote and it was convenient for my interviewee. 

I initially wanted to focus the story around myself and explain how I felt about the business school. I wanted to explain my true feelings and hopefully take some sort of action. I then thought it would be better to capture the audience’s attention by deciding to focus on how the business school is helping students of color and how it is meeting the diversity and inclusion needs. 

Something that I learned about myself during this process and was surprised about was there are a lot more students who feel the same way that I do than I initially thought. Aside from being a part of First Ascent Scholars, I’ve never felt like I was included or felt like I belonged at the business school. Moving forward, I would like to have a conversation about improving services and the atmosphere so students like myself could feel safe and accounted for. I also learned that I write best when I write without making any revisions. I write everything down, which helps me retain information and keep a nice, steady flow. 

Overall, I enjoyed this process of interviewing and collecting resources to write a story on an issue that is important to me. There were many times throughout the writing process where I got stuck and it taught me how to be patient and let the story come to me. Writing has always been something I love to do but when I bring in a sense of reality and can relate to my topic, I connect with the story on a different level. 

ABOUT ME:

Hello! My name is Jhareil Hutchinson, currently I am a second-year student at the University of Utah. I plan to major in Marketing and pursue a journalism emphasis. I am a first-generation African American student, learning and applying my knowledge to the ever-evolving world around me. At the U, I am a part of the First Ascent Scholars Program, which has helped me continue my education and gain professional experience. 

I have always loved writing; it brings a sense of relaxation and voice to my mind. One of my favorite topics to write about is mental health and racial justice. I am passionate about uplifting voices that may be undermined and also learning about what I can do to help those who are helpless. 

One of my biggest inspirations is Kobe Bryant who said, “The moment you give up, is the moment you let someone else win.” This quote is very special to me because I look back on this quote when I feel stuck or lost in terms of an assignment for class or for life. 

As for the future, I am not sure what it holds but I hope it will come with a lot of success and growth opportunities. I hope to graduate in the spring of May 2024 and find a career that is not only thrilling and fulfilling but full of success and growth opportunities! 

Diversity, equity & inclusion: Inside the David Eccles School of Business

Story by JHAREIL HUTCHINSON

When Julie Paredes-Pozas first came to the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah, she was expecting to be in a warm and welcoming environment. Coming from East High School in Salt Lake City, she was surrounded by people from different backgrounds and cultures. Paredes-Pozas is a first-generation Latina student, in her second year. Starting her freshman year of college in the middle of the pandemic, she would be attending classes in person in the fall, but she was in for a big change.

Julie Paredes-Pozas, a David Eccles School of Business Ambassador. Courtesy of Paredes-Pozas.

“The first few days were overwhelming,” Paredes-Pozas said, because she was one of two women in the classroom. “As a woman of color, I keep expecting the business school to address diversity and inclusion or the lack therefore of at the business school. Every time I attend a panel or discussion about diversity, I am disappointed by the results because the topics are merely tiptoed around,” Paredes-Pozas said.

This story seems to have been the case for far too long. According to a simple Google survey of student involvement and engagement at the business school, 63 students said it is lacking in terms of diversity and inclusion. However, 37 students said they don’t see a problem with diversity within the business school.

While the school says it fosters an environment for inclusion and increasing culture, many students have said they don’t feel safe or feel like they belong because of their skin color. “There have been many times where I have been the center of attention for wearing my [face] mask and being put into a group of students who did not want to help or associate with me because I was wearing one,” Paredes-Pozas said.

Bethany Crowell, the director of business intelligence at the David Eccles School of Business, said she was unable to provide more information about certain groups and identities. She did, however, supply aggregate data, saying that it could help paint a general picture

The graph shows a breakdown of students’ ethnicities from 2003-2019 at the David Eccles School of Business. The brown bar represents white students, the teal bar represents Hispanic students, and the red bar represents international students. African American students, depicted in salmon, comprise less than 1% of enrollees.

The business school began tracking ethnicity in 2003. The bars in the graph represents the disproportionate ratio between white students and students of color. Although the college prides itself on diversity, equity and inclusion, it is still lacking in that area. Over the years, the percentage of white students enrolled in the business school has gone down but has had consistent numbers since 2012. 

In 2014, the University of Utah opened a campus in Asia, located in Songdo, Incheon, South Korea. While international students are not all from the Asia campus, it has a great deal to do with these numbers. Students who live on the Asia campus are required to spend two years at the Salt Lake City campus and can finish their degree in Salt Lake. From 2012 to 2016, the U’s international student enrollment percentage was above 10%.

While white and international student percentages are leveling, the Hispanic enrollment has continued to rise, while Black enrollment has been less than or equal to 1%. 

The business school did not begin keeping track of gender until 2003. It has been dominated by male enrollment, with a steady 70% over the last 17 years. With the current and consistent trend that is shown in the graph, the numbers may stay the same moving forward.

The graph shows a breakdown of genders enrolled in the David Eccles School of Business from 2003-2019. The black bar represents male enrollment, while the red bar represents female students.

While one could look at these numbers and not be surprised, one could also beg to differ. In recent years the business school has tried to increase diversity, showing improvement to equity and inclusion, especially after the death of George Floyd and the events that followed.

According to the David Eccles School of Business website, under Equity Diversity and Inclusion, it says, “The David Eccles School of Business is committed to fostering an inclusive culture by embracing diversity and equity in all its forms.”

In 2021, the business school hosted many workshops and panel discussions about diversity, equity and inclusion. The workshops were an opportunity to have uncomfortable conversations for those who are looking to learn more about what they can do to not only help those who feel misrepresented, but also help students feel like they belong. With the panels, the business school also has resources such as counseling and peer mentors available to students of color.

The business school offers many scholarships and professional mentors to those who come from underrepresented communities. Opportunity Scholars and First Ascent Scholars both play a big role in helping many students of color continue their education. These scholarships allow students to also be paired with a professional mentor, to help them learn the ropes of college life and society as a whole.

The U also requires students to complete training modules on areas such as diversity and inclusion, mental health, sexual assault and alcohol. Some students report that it is easy to skip past the material and earn the credit needed to pass the modules. The courses are roughly 20-45 minutes and feature a pre and post training quiz.

“I think they’re pointless because of how easy you can bypass them. You don’t actually have to work or read to actually get the credit so people just put it off and don’t pay attention to the topics covered,” Paredes-Pozas said about the modules. The modules have videos and questions relating to personal feelings and experiences, which can be triggering.

The business school as a whole could have more meaningful workshops on looking to provide a safer space for those who feel underrepresented in their field, Paredes-Pozas said. The university and business school host “inclusion week,” where students and staff both learn about safe ways to engage, respect and find an aspect of community.

“When you voice a problem, there are many resources and people available for help and support but, when it comes to solving the problem and getting rid of it, the resources and people begin to lesson because of institutional rules such as professors being on tenure,”Paredes-Pozas said. One of the problems the business school has is not directly addressing the obvious race and diversity issues that many students face when in class.

Paredes-Pozas has one piece of advice for the business school. “I just wish students and faculty would listen. I’m silent on certain issues because many of the students wouldn’t understand because they don’t have the same experiences as me. Moving forward, I hope we can have better conversations about diversity and look to improve the atmosphere, where students feel valued and important.”

Raegan Zitting

MY STORY:

Three local women entrepreneurs share their success stories

MY BLOG:

As I was drafting ideas on a newsworthy and exciting story, I concluded that locality and women were of the utmost importance.

With the pandemic still being a prominent issue, I decided to turn the viewpoint on a devasting time into a success story for incredible businesses in the Salt Lake City community.

With this idea in mind, I reached out to some local businesses that all shared the common trait of being women-owned and ethically practiced.

As I began crafting my story, I learned that connection was so important to me in how I write. After developing personal stories and triumphs from these incredible women, I knew I needed to showcase their business now more than ever.

Sorting through the information was a challenge at first, mainly because of these women’s extraordinary detail. However, connecting it all to the focus of women in business during a pandemic and, more specifically, how they grew from that made the most sense.

I was genuinely so surprised by how much the pandemic grew these local businesses’ sales. I went into these interviews with a completely different story in mind. Thus, I was ultimately thrown for a loop when the information favored a success story rather than a sorrowful one.

Going through this story journey connected me to these women in a way I have never connected to anyone! I got to see a different side of business owners and it without a doubt increased my appreciation for local shops in my community.

Piggybacking off that growth, I now choose only to shop locally and sustainably. These women truly shifted my thinking, and I only spoke to three! Imagine the impact of hundreds; maybe I’ll find out in another story.

ABOUT ME:

Raegan Zitting (she/her) is an aspiring journalist studying communication at the University of Utah. Participating in the world-renowned HER campus Raegan loves writing about local and community matters. With a passion for fashion, Raegan hopes to one day work for a fashion magazine in New York City. Growing up in a small town has inspired Raegan to report the little details rather than the big ones, while still loving the big cities. Working at Nordstrom for a year and a half Raegan has now taken a leap and started a job at the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

Before realizing her passion for writing Raegan took an interest in cheerleading for four years. Working her way up to the position of captain Raegan learned the trials and tribulations of leadership and its importance. Cheerleading was a big part of the reasoning for Raegan’s interest in community writing.

With a projected bachelor’s degree in communication and a master’s in design Raegan has big educational dreams. Some of Raegan’s interests include cooking, exercising, reading, and of course writing.

Three local women entrepreneurs share their success stories

Online sales boosted their profits and sustained their brick and mortars

Story and photos by RAEGAN ZITTING

Throughout the devastating and isolating year, the pandemic has suppressed companies worldwide. Numerous articles have discussed the tragedies and downfalls of multimillion-dollar corporations. However, these three local companies proved otherwise.

Prominent consumers wandering around downtown Salt Lake City relish incredible women and their successful business stories throughout the pandemic. They represent the triumphs rather than the trials of the unknown era.

Abbey Muse, owner of Animalia in downtown Salt Lake City, shared how her positive outlook and creativity ultimately fueled her small shop and promoted greater success than she could’ve imagined.

Abbey Muse, owner of Animalia and sustainability enthusiast. She graduated with a degree in communication from the University of Utah in 2017.

Muse created Animalia, located at 280 E. 900 South, in 2018 with sustainability and connections in mind.

After the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, Muse was forced to let her employees go and worked alone supporting her shop for six months. She turned her brick-and-mortar store into an online-only presence.

Implementing social media practices was a crucial asset in the marketing of the newly online shop. Promoting self-deliveries, pick-ups, and bidets for the customers who were condemned to their houses as well.

Self-deliveries done throughout the months of March through April 2020 sustained the business and kept it going. Allowing personal connection through an online presence restored loyal customers’ faith and boosted sales when buying non-essential goods was not a high priority.

Muse said bidets were a popular item on Animalia’s online presence.

Due to the shortage of toilet paper, not only loyal customers but also people seeking an alternative to their habitual cotton square leapt to Muse’s site.

With habits changing throughout the population, sustainability became a very popularized new way of living.

The mission statement of Abbey Muse’s small business in Salt Lake City features hand-painted local artistry.
 

Getting back to nature and healing our planet was a big growth factor for Animalia. Muse said that throughout the pandemic her community grew largely in part due to fear but also due to loyal patrons.

Speaking of our local communities The Lady Bag had much success creating an online presence along with Animalia.

Anna Madsen, co-owner of The Lady Bag, said, “Small business had to work even smarter and harder to survive.”

Text messaging campaigns and email chains promoted used goods to women in need of an escape, Madsen said in a phone interview. Finance plans and purchasing of individual luxury items allowed relief for the community along with impactful business growth.

Informational facts to support Animalia and its drive for sustainability, including the process of recycling glass bottles and pictures from the National Geographic.
 

In a time where human connection was sought after, The Lady Bag created live video streams and personal meetings to provide the utmost support for its loyal customers.

The customer base grew significantly throughout the pandemic after the interactive and personal relation allowing for even more growth today, Madsen said.

With more than 100 new customers and a booming social media platform, The Lady Bag has never been more successful.

Production costs and manufacturing issues created hardships. However, rather than focusing on those unpredictable moments, these businesses are proving that challenges can lead to the utmost success.

“My dad always taught me that if you follow your passion the money will follow,” Madsen said when asked about the personal stressors the pandemic had on herself.

Jennifer Johnson, founder of Pro Do Blow-dry bar, had to shift her customer service practices completely to accommodate her business’s new virtual presence.

Creating environment through hands-free communication consisted of drones delivering gift cards to loyal customers. The cameras recorded joyful reactions, which were uploaded to social media and uplifted others by promoting the company’s efforts.

Pro Do Blow dry bar pairs the desires of entrepreneurship with the passion of making women in the community feel beautiful in their own skin.

For Johnson, customer service has always been the top priority for her clients. “It’s not about money or hair, it’s about creating an experience for the customer.”

During the pandemic customer service has grown far more than Johnson could have imagined. Employees stuck by her side and implemented the new practices to create an even better environment.

The efforts of Johnson’s employees and marketing paid off. Customers of Pro Do Blow-dry bar requested a continuance of their monthly memberships just to support the business through its hard time, even though they couldn’t reap the benefits of the program.

Community becomes the entire business model in a time of uncertainty such as the pandemic companies went through last year.

Even in such an unknown time we still manage to pull through, Muse said. There’s a 1% chance that we will ever know what happens or comes our way, she said, but we still have optimism and make it work no matter what.

With busier days, mass markets, and elevated numbers these three shops are now more than ever thanking the pandemic for a new perspective and booming business.

Sophia Jeon

MY STORY:

UMFA’s directors talk about the institution’s educational philosophy

MY BLOG:

Art and art history are my long-standing interests. Being inspired by an art museum is one of the best ways to spend my time meaningfully. When I first toured the University of Utah campus in August 2021, the place that caught my eye the most was the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. The UMFA’s website confidently presented its educational philosophy and outreach, and I found it to have credible value with a long history and a variety of projects. That was the reason for me to decide that UMFA as an institution was what I wanted to explore for my story.

UMFA’s Learning and Engagement Department has been contemplating and researching various educational programs in addition to exhibitions and gallery tours to communicate with diverse community members across the state. To delve deeper into the institution’s current activities, I contacted the department’s staff members, all of whom readily accepted my request for an interview.

All interviews went very smoothly, even though it was my first experience interviewing someone with a Zoom meeting. In the first interview with Ashley Farmer, the co-director of adult and university programs, I was able to get interesting information about the exchange between UMFA and the U. Since UMFA is the state’s fine arts museum but at the same time an institution affiliated with the U, what Farmer told me was informative for me as a student at the U, and furthermore, for my story to be published in U NewsWriting.

The second interview with Mindy Wilson, the director of marketing and communication, was also helpful to get information about the UMFA’s ongoing activities. Most of all, I was impressed that Wilson said she was happy to have a conversation with me, a student at the U, as UMFA prioritizes communication with students on an educational level. The interview with her made it meaningful for me to explore a new institution.

Unlike the other three interviews, the interview with Annie Burbidge Ream, the co-director of K-12 and family programs, was the only one conducted in person. We were able to meet and have a chat at the UMFA cafe. Faced with Ream’s trustful tone of voice and her confident facial expression, I could feel that she took great pride in her own work as an educator.

The last Zoom interview with Virginia Catherall, the curator of education, family programs, visitor experience, and community outreach, was also meaningful. She explained about the different events taking place off-campus. What impressed me the most was hearing about the growth process of UMFA from her perspective. Since Catherall has been working at UMFA for 27 years, listening to her about the history and growth of the institution has been a huge help in developing my story.

It was important and beneficial for my story to get specific information from the practitioners hosting direct activities for the museum to fulfill its net function as an educational institution. However, it was not an easy task to put the large amount of information and program lists received from each interviewee in writing. It was a challenge not only to find only the essential points of my writing among various pieces of information, but also to determine the order in which to arrange them.

Nevertheless, I was able to enjoy having pleasant conversations with people I have never met before and writing about them. Most of all, the fact that the interviewees enjoyed communicating with me and actively responding to my interview gave me a lot of confidence in writing the story. Exploring the UMFA, an institution with close ties to my university and at the same time a place where I personally love to go, has in the end enriched my story as a whole and allowed me to enjoy writing about it.

ABOUT ME:

Marketing and public relations are essential to keeping up with current trends. No matter how great a product or service you have, if it is not promoted, no one will know.

The reason I am studying Strategic Communication at the University of Utah is to become a public relations specialist who can quickly understand market changes and recognize the needs of the public.

To utilize the diverse approaches for marketing and communication, I have learned and mastered talents and skills in different fields. I not only have computer literacy skills for social media use, such as video editing, Photoshop, illustration, and digital calligraphy, but also can use software programs for data analysis and statistics. I also have talents in taking pictures, analyzing films, and discussing current social affairs.

From a young age, I like to introduce myself to people and enjoy expressing my thoughts in writing. Taking advantage of those strengths, as a student aspiring to become a public relations professional, I am currently learning how to connect with, inform, and persuade people to meet public concerns.

It will always be fun and exciting for me to communicate with different people in the world.