Sundance is evolving: how the Sundance Institute’s programs are encouraging artists and locals alike

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Story and photos by Charlene Rodriguez

The Sundance Institute has been a prominent organization for independent filmmakers and Utah culture since its creation. However, the Institute has significantly evolved. While filmmaking and collaboration remain at its core, the Institute continues to expand its reach by encouraging diversity and inclusion through its programs. 

According to the Institute’s website, the Sundance Film Festival was first established in 1978 by Sterling Van Wagenen in Salt Lake City. Yet the Institute wasn’t founded until 1981 by Robert Redford. 

 Having initially started as an organization aimed at promoting American-made films and Utah filmmakers, the Institute now extends past its local reach, offering opportunities for upcoming filmmakers from national and international backgrounds. 

Hands-On Experience 

Among the plethora of programs the Institute provides, its fellowships for young filmmakers stand out.

The Ignite Fellowship, as detailed on the Institute’s website, is a collaboration between the Institute and Adobe that is open to filmmakers between the ages of 18-24. Out of thousands of applicants, only 15 are selected for the year-long fellowship. The experience includes an all-expenses-paid trip to the Sundance Film Festival, as well as mentorship from Institute alumni professionals and access to workshops, labs and other associated programs.  

“The Sundance Ignite Fellowship is a great opportunity to learn more about the ins and outs of the industry and also be connected with other emerging filmmakers,” stated Maya Cueva, a 2019 Ignite Fellow, during an email interview.

Ignite Fellows are selected based on their submission of their one-to-eight-minute short films as well as “their original voice, diverse storytelling and rigor in their filmmaking pursuits,” according to a 2018 news release posted on the Institute’s website. 

Cueva detailed her experience attending the 2019 Sundance Film Festival: “It was an amazing experience going to films and events, being able to discuss and pitch my first feature documentary, and being able to connect with the other fellows in the program.” 

When asked how this experience has impacted her perspective on filmmaking, Cueva said, “This experience has definitely given me an opportunity to challenge the way I make documentaries and my style of filmmaking, particularly because the group of fellows do both narrative and documentaries.” 

Opportunities like the Ignite Fellowship allow young filmmakers to network and learn from professionals in the field. This has the potential to jump-start careers while providing the professional environment to further foster individual voice and style. 

Rooted in Utah

While expanding its home offices, broadening its reach and diversifying its stories, the Institute remains grounded by its Utah roots. It aims to encourage the participation of audiences of all ages through its community screening programs. 

The Filmmakers in the Classroom program began in 2000 but is now an annual opportunity for local high school students to view and later discuss a short film with the creators themselves. 

“We’re definitely doing those to bring those middle, junior high and high school students in and kind of expose them to independent films but also giving them the opportunity to meet filmmakers as well,” said Laralee Ownby, assistant director of Utah Community Programs, during a phone interview. 

Year-long programs like the Summer Film Series serve as an option for Utah locals across the state to experience independent films without having to trudge through the grueling festival traffic and crowds.“All of our year-long Utah programs are free and open to the public. That’s one thing that we want to make sure of. That we’re reaching everyone in Utah.” 

The effectiveness of these programs speaks for itself. Through an email interview, Jenny Diersen, Park City special events and economic development manager, shared statistics from previous years’ programs. 

During the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, the Institute’s Utah Community and Student programming reached a total of 11,387 people. This includes Filmmakers in the Classroom, free screenings for high school and college students and various other community screenings. The 2018 Summer Film Series reached a total of 4,113 people over the course of eight screenings. 

Elevating Art and Culture Locally 

Even outside of its own programs, the Institute continues to contribute to community programs that support the development of art and culture in Park City. Project ABC is one of these outreach efforts. 

According to the Project ABC: Arts, Beauty, Culture website, Project ABC is a Summit County initiative that focuses on the promotion, expansion and implementation of artistic and cultural opportunities for local emerging artists and individuals interested in the arts. 

This project includes recommendations for City, County, Businesses and individuals to help grow many areas of arts and culture,” Diersen said. “As arts and culture grows in our community I think it will be important to make sure we continue [to] represent our unique community, history and environment.”  

Collaborative community efforts like Project ABC ensure artistic sustainability throughout the city. Although Sundance focuses primarily on filmmaking and film production, its outreach encompass a variety of expressional styles. 

While the Sundance Institute continues to grow and develop new opportunities for upcoming filmmakers, it doesn’t lose track of its background. With its community programs reaching thousands of individuals each year and support for local artistic cultivation, the Institute keeps inspiring new generations of artists and filmmakers.

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Art with a cause: artwork from cancer patients, caregivers, and staff at the Huntsman Cancer Institute

Story and gallery by MADISEN GATES

The Huntsman Cancer Institute stands as a gentle giant overlooking the University of Utah from the northeast corner of campus. Its massive glass structure is a symbol of excellence and elegance. The building illustrates its mission statement; “The patient first, a united effort, excellence in all we do.”

Treatment can be a stressful time for those who have cancer. The side effects for most people range from physical symptoms to emotional ones.

But what lies inside the facility is more than a treatment center for cancer patients.

For years, HCI has been a leading innovator for cutting-edge cancer research, including creative and emotional therapies.

Shelly White founded the Artist-in-Residence program in 2012 and has served as its director since then. Patients, caregivers, and HCI staff can participate in group or individual art projects every Tuesday throughout the year.  

Coming from a musical family, White said she believes that art can be both mentally and physically supportive.

She applied and was approved for a LIVESTRONG grant that offers funding for creative arts programs nationwide. She was determined to find a way to implement these benefits at HCI.

But these weekly classes are not just art workshops.

The artists leading the program each year act as mentors. Participants can learn skills in pain management and how to relieve stress. They can also spend quality time with loved ones through various art projects. These projects can include painting, mask-making, ceramics, and even designing maps. The patient is able to gain control over one aspect of their treatment – their art.

“I think a lot of the time people feel like they’re having all these things done to them that they wouldn’t choose. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, you wouldn’t choose those things,” White said. “And you get to make choices about ‘what do I want to get engaged in.’”

Each current artist will choose the artist for the next year to ensure the quality and engagement during these workshops. Every prospective artist can attend a session as a guest presenter. The current artist observes how the guest presenter interacts with the patients and attendees. This improves the success of the project to continue enriching the patients’ time in treatment.

Laura Wilson, the current mentor for the program, has been making art her whole life. Her favorite form of art is fine arts, which she studied at Carnegie Mellon to earn her BFA. Every artist is free to run the sessions in their own way. “People are just really happy to be here. The level of creativity here is really high,” Wilson said. “You have people dealing with very hard things, and they just free themselves.”

White said the greatest motivation to continue searching for artists to expand these projects is watching patients flourish creatively. “Seeing the whole person” develop, she said. “Giving people an opportunity for people to express themselves beyond words.”

The sessions are always kept open to allow participants more freedom while they create. There are no rules as to what a participant can or cannot create and participants are able to come and go from the art sessions in between regular treatments.

Vibrant clay tiles form a legacy piece displayed in White’s office.

A brown and red clay art piece is displayed in White’s office, which became a legacy project for one participant.

 

 “With some people, it’s a legacy,” White said. “There was another woman who was in her 40s who had daughters that were probably in their 20s who did this piece. It was a legacy piece because she wasn’t going to survive the cancer, but it was a really meaningful thing she could do with her daughters to make this piece.”

For most participants, the art represents much more than a fun craft project.

Caren Pinson has been attending the sessions for many years as a cancer survivor. She described her time in the Artist-in-Residence program as “life changing.”

“I have medical post-traumatic stress, from long before I moved to Utah and when I actually did first move over it was pretty bad. I didn’t ever really want to see a doctor again,” Pinson said. “But being here, this is really the safest place I’ve ever felt.”

Pinson continues to contribute many ideas to improve the program. She recalled a previous conversation with one of the HCI acupuncture specialists who said, “Huntsman hires compassion and they can teach everything else.”

Seven years later the program has flourished. In addition to the Artist-in-Residence program, a Writer-in-Residence and a music therapy program can be found on the HCI calendar throughout the year.

The programs aim to go even deeper in the upcoming years. It is the hope of the director to pair biologic researchers with participants to show the value of arts through basic science.

The emergence of these programs is a testament to the dedication of the staff at HCI. It is a giant not only in dominating the cancer treatment field, but also for the heart that lies within the walls.

 

It’s On Us and rape culture on college campuses

Story by ALLISON COREY

After eight years of gathering data regarding sexual violence on college campuses, the Obama administration implemented It’s On Us. The organization has now reached nearly 1,000 universities and strives to rectify the country’s rape culture.

When It’s On Us came to the University of Utah, it was run by the student government. In July 2018, Christina Bargelt, 22, became acting president of It’s On Us. “I’m a survivor, and my goal is really just to help fix the things that are fixable,” Bargelt said in a phone interview. “I deserve better and so do other survivors.” Using this objective to fuel her, Bargelt has already made strides to prevent and help victims of sexual violence.

After her third and most brutal assault involving a member of the U’s Greek community, Bargelt said that it was time for her to make a change. An investigation that took longer to occur than she was initially told yielded a heartbreaking result: insufficient evidence. She then pursued a hearing that, yet again, took place almost three months late and had reached the same consensus. Bargelt took every necessary plan of action: she got a rape kit done, hired a lawyer, and had multiple other women testify on her behalf.

Despite her best efforts, Bargelt was defeated by the system. She joined part of the 33 percent of people who become suicidal within a month of their assault, and that feeling heightened when she knew that no legal action could be taken. Bargelt then decided to turn the most traumatic experience of her life into a positive one for others. “It made me lose faith and hope in this institution,” Bargelt said. “I could either wallow in self pity and hate this university, or I could take these things and grow from them so I could improve the lives of other survivors.”

Bargelt has completely transformed It’s On Us at the U. She has worked tirelessly to create relations with university administrators and many resources for victims of sexual violence. She said she forged good relationships with many of the people who helped her aftermath her assault. The Office of Equal Opportunity & Affirmative Action, the Women’s Resource Center, and other organizations have since paired up with It’s On Us. The most helpful resources for Bargelt after the assault, Victim/Survivor advocates, are now the organization’s main allies. She said, “I would not be the advocate I am today without them,” because they are an objective source that provides survivors with options. She has helped the OEO create a more transparent system, and personally speaks to roughly five new survivors each week.

Another issue with rape culture on college campuses is the discrepancy between male and female survivors. Men are often taught not to rape, and are rarely informed on resources or steps to take if they themselves are the victim. Bargelt has specifically gone to every sorority and fraternity in the U’s Greek system, and has given the exact same information about It’s On Us and rape recovery regardless of her audience’s genders. She said one of her goals as president is to destigmatize the notions surrounding male survivors.

In her mission to keep everyone, especially those involved in Greek life, informed, Bargelt gave presentations at each fraternity’s house. Ty Monroe, 19, was an avid listener when she visited his fraternity. Monroe left the Phi Delta Theta house that night with a whole new perspective. He said, “She really touched base on the fact that assaults are not specific to either males or females, it happens to both.” For some men, Bargelt’s presentations encouraged survivors to come forward. For many others, such as Monroe, the presentations offered a new viewpoint and increased acceptance for male survivors.

It is true that not as many men have experienced sexual violence as women, but that does not mean men are any less deserving of advocates. Many men are not believed or recognized once they come forward after an assault on them, and our country’s rape culture often perpetuates these notions and ostracizes male survivors.

Paul Eicker, 20, is a sophomore at the U who was raped by a girl during the fall of 2018. He said he did not press charges or seek investigation into his perpetrator because he immediately thought he would be looked down upon, called a liar, and lose support of friends and family. The fear of coming forward after an act of sexual violence is present in many survivors, but more so in men. “It took me about a month before I told anyone,” Eicker said. “People told me that I was making a big deal about nothing, and that men can’t be raped.” The reactions he got solidified his initial decision to take no further actions.

As the president of It’s On Us, Bargelt is adamant about being completely transparent in telling her story. Sexual assaults and rapes happen often on college campuses, and many people don’t know how big of a problem it is because it is rarely talked about. Bargelt is very open about her personal experience because hearing a story from another survivor frequently inspires others to come forward. Bargelt said that “part of the empowering part of being a survivor is now you have the agency to do something about it. You have the chance to give power back to yourself and you get to decide what your healing journey will be.”

In less than a year, Bargelt transformed the U into the nation’s most successful It’s On Us organization. She has laid out a 10-year plan, so even after she graduates from the U this May her legacy will live on. “I am very aggressive and do not give up on people or projects that I believe in,” she said, and she has confidence that whoever takes her place in July will maintain the positive trajectory of It’s On Us.

The most sustainable and ethical diet for people and the planet

Story and photo gallery by CAMILLE AGLAURE

With so much talk concerning diet in the media, many people find it difficult to know what to eat. What foods are ethically sourced and grown? What foods truly promote human health? What foods support the health of the planet? These are all questions that are fogging up the minds of so many people.  

One thing that Thunder Jalili, Ph.D., and a professor of nutrition and integrative physiology, and Anne Pesek Taylor, registered dietitian, at the University of Utah can both agree on is that, generally speaking, a healthier plate is one with more plants and less overly processed foods and added sugar. 

Pesek Taylor said in an email interview that balanced nutrition needs to account for individual food preferences, lifestyle factors, and include a variety of food groups so it can be maintained long-term. Pesek Taylor referred to the University of Utah’s Healthy Eating Plate, an adaptation of the government’s MyPlate created in 2011, as a useful guide to good health.

What does this mean for meat and dairy, though?

Studies like the popular health book “The China Study” and documentaries like “What the Health” and “Cowspiracy”detail the harmful effects to humans and the environment that come with the consumption of animal-based foods. Jalili said he believes that the absolute exclusion of animal-based foods is not necessarily vital. However, regarding meat, “a little still means a little,” he said. 

Jalili said the maximum recommended intake of red meat is 100 grams per day while the maximum for processed meat is 50 grams. “Once a day is still a lot,” he said, and as far as human health is concerned, many studies indicate that there is, in fact, a decrease in mortality rate among those who maintain a vegan and vegetarian diet. When considering environmental health, there is slightly more to be taken into account when writing out your grocery list.

As more media attention surrounds the question of climate change versus animal agriculture, many organizations and communities are reevaluating the importance of animal-based foods, particularly meat, in a standard, western diet. 

“Raising cows is an environmental disaster,” Jalili said. With animal agriculture accounting for 91 percent of rainforest deforestation, according to The World Bank, and more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation sector, according to the United Nations, Jalili said he believes that it is time for groups of people, like nutritionists, to not focus on health alone, but the bigger picture. “It’s just responsible,” he said. 

So, is a universal vegan diet the solution?

In the opinion of Christy Clay, Ph.D., an associate professor at Westminster College who teaches courses on subjects including biology, ecology, and environmental studies, “a homogenous, universal diet is exactly what has caused so many problems in our current food system.”

Clay said she believes that the current food system has created a monster of unequal distribution of foods, the elimination of native crops and variation, and potentially the loss of culture and professions. 

“We’re not understanding the limitations and values of local resources,” Clay said, as she explained the harms in seeking mainstream foods that do not naturally occur locally. Clay used the example of quinoa, a grain that grows in the Andes that is now exported to Western countries more than it is provided for locals who have depended on the grain in their diets for centuries. To be truly sustainable and ethical, Clay maintained that “diets should be bio-regional.”

For Clay, the ethical question of which foods to eat is not as simple as drastically lowering our consumption of meat. Rather, “there’s a whole dismantling of a current food system that needs to happen,” Clay said as she painted a picture of just how disrupted our way of eating has become. 

So, where do we begin?

Clay suggested that the first action to take is having the conversation about “how broken our food system is.” This consists of poor income for those in the agriculture industry, the cost and precarious nature of leasing land to farmers, a decline in community gardens, and loss of interest in crops that have fallen out of the mainstream.

“What does it look like to say we actually value this profession?” wondered Clay as she additionally suggested encouraging communities to be a space for local gardening. Already, there are a number of organizations working to do just that, including Green Urban Lunch Box, which goes from school to school, educating children on the value of local gardening while furthermore educating local farmers. 

Making a difference in your community requires collective action to encourage local agriculture and farming. Clay suggested gardening out of your own backyard. If you live in an apartment complex, ask your landlord or property owner about creating a roof garden. Clay also suggested engaging with other community gardens and protecting land to be used for local farming. Getting back in touch with a farm-to-table way of eating is imperative for a sustainable diet. Rekindling a healthy and community-based relationship with food is the best way for individuals to eat ethically, healthily, and in an environmentally friendly way. 

Shane Bryan

IMG_7297My Story: Biking into the Future with Bike Utah

My Blog: Reflection Blog

About Me: Originally from New Hampshire and now a Senior at the University of Utah studying Strategic Communication. Currently Marketing Director for the University’s mountain and road bike team. Always on the move and seeking new challenges. In the future, a dream job would be marketing in the mountain bike or auto industry.

Check out my LinkedIn here

Biking into the Future with Bike Utah

Article and Photos by Shane Bryan

SALT LAKE CITY — Biking on city streets can be intimidating for new bicycle commuters. The rush of traffic, distracted drivers and the difficulty of using a map can easily deter people from riding bikes instead of getting into a car. Bike Utah, a bicycle advocacy organization, is here to help residents all over Utah get on a bike and feel safe while doing so. They work to make cities and towns all over the state more bike friendly.

Based in Salt Lake City, Bike Utah operates as a non-profit organization. The organization started ten years ago after a road cyclist was hit and killed on the Utah

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Simon Harris demonstrating proper road riding techniques (Photo by Shane Bryan)

roads. The founders quickly became aware that there needed to be some serious advocacy for safety between drivers and cyclists. The mission of Bike Utah is to “integrate bicycling into the everyday culture of the state,” says Simon Harris, Bike Utah’s Youth Program Manager. “We envision Utah as the most bicycle friendly state in the country.”

Bike Utah carries out their plan via city planning—putting traffic plans into action, and working with local governments to make the roads a safe haven for cyclists.  

Throughout the city, there are extra wide bike lanes with more room for riders and marked lines so drivers can steer clear. There are large signs specifically identifying bike lanes, and paint on the roads to show where the lane is and where bike riders have a right-of-way. Popular destinations are also clearly marked with nearby street

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Wide bike lane Eastbound on 300s (Photo by Shane Bryan)

signs, eliminating the need to use a map or phone while you ride, all in an effort to keep bikers safe.

Bike Utah has been chosen as the non-profit sponsor for the new Thousand Mile campaign, an effort to revamp old bike paths and add new ones totaling 1,000 miles. Introduced by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, the Thousand Mile campaign is intended to make Utah one of the best cycling and active transportation states in the country.

Bike Utah’s role is to “provide strategic planning, technical assistance, and financial resources so communities can begin or continue developing bicycling in their area,” according to Bike Utah, they help, “communities to advance their bicycle-related goals.” This means advancements in local bike routes to get kids to school, people to work and riders out enjoying the roads and trails. 

Multi-use pathways and mountain bike trails are also laid out in the Thousand Miles plan. Salt Lake City also has protected bike lanes, similar to ones found in Europe, in which there is a physical concrete barrier separating the bike lane and the car lane, reducing the probability of a car merging into the bike lane. Through their work, Bike 

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Concrete barrier separating the road from the bike lane Westbound on 300s (Photo by Shane Bryan)

Utah would like to inspire people to ride bikes instead of driving, to help keep our air clean and reveal the health benefits of pedaling to your destinations. Active transportation is healthy for you and the community. Riley Peterson of Salt Lake City, commutes around the city all the time whether it’s to school or to work. “I always have lights on which makes it safe and I have never had an issue with any cars,” says Peterson. “Plus, it is just more fun to ride.”

There are things you can be doing to further increase your safety on the road. For starters, follow the rules of the road. Stop at stop signs, use hand signals, and stay in your lane. Also, wear bright colors. Brighter colors will pop and grab the attention of drivers. Standing out from the line of traffic on a bike will separate you from the crowd. Having a front and rear light is also a good way to do this. Many people think that only having a front and rear light at night is important; however, Adam Olson, Manager of Trek Bike, encourages riders to use 

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LED lights can keep you safe day and night (Photo by Shane Bryan)

lights at all times. “Using lights in the day time increases your chances of being seen,” says Olson. “Drivers are more likely to see a flashing object over a cyclist with no safety warnings attached.”

Drivers are always subliminally looking for objects that they are accustomed to seeing on the road (street lights, street signs, parked cars, etc.), the flashing of a light makes it apparent to drivers that there is something else to watch out for. 

Bike Utah also hosts an amazing kids program teaching kids from an early age about bike education and safety by visiting schools statewide.  Over 250 kids have learned how to ride a bike while increasing overall bike knowledge by 67 percent. You can support Bike Utah and follow upcoming events by clicking here for more information. Next time, consider throwing a leg over a bike before you step into a car.

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Curing homelessness with a focus on the individual

Story and Photos By Clara Welch

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City has been striving to relieve the burden of homelessness and make downtown safe. A 2017 study found 2,876 homeless people across Utah — 1,804 people in Salt Lake County alone.

 

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Rio Grande area has a high population of homeless and has been the center focus of efforts to combat these numbers in Salt Lake City. (Photo by Clara Welch)

Operation Rio Grande — Salt Lake City’s initiative to address homelessness along the Wasatch Front — has three phases focused on reducing crime, helping those with mental illness or addictions, and finding employment and housing for individuals. Improvements have been seen from these efforts and are expected to continue.

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A homeless man sits on a bench trying to stay warm on a chilly morning. Other people were walking around or sleeping. (Photo by Clara Welch)

Utah has been using a Housing First model since 2015.  Housing First departs from the traditional ideas that people need to be sober and employed before they can be given a basic human necessity. Finland and Japan have adopted this method and have very low numbers of homelessness. The success rates vary, depending on how you analyze it, from 40-80 percent of those being housed remaining housed. They are encouraging numbers from a tactic that focuses on the person as a human being, not as a burden.

Organizations all across the Salt Lake Valley are striving towards the same goal as Operation Rio Grande, providing multidimensional help from medical to social needs. Community efforts are changing the care that is provided, bringing the humanity back into relieving the burden of homelessness.

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Maliheh Clinic is a free clinic serving those who earn less than 150 percent of the federal poverty standard. They offer multiple services, focused on providing quality healthcare no matter the ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. (Photo by Clara Welch)

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Maliheh Clinic’s mission statement and numbers for 2016. (Photo by Clara Welch)

Collin Hoggard, a student at the University of Utah, volunteers at the Maliheh Clinic. Hoggard explained how the Maliheh Clinic, “started as a way to reach out to the uninsured people in Utah.” It’s been serving patients who earn less than 150 percent of the federal poverty guidelines since 2005.

In 2016, Maliheh had 15,344 patient visits and 28,819 volunteer hours served. Providing preventative care, the Maliheh clinic reduces the burden that emergency rooms and hospitals experience with patients coming in with easily prevented emergencies.

Hoggard is a Spanish interpreter and accompanies patients on routine visits to therapy sessions. “It’s been amazing to connect with the patients,” says Hoggard, who sees real people with real needs. It has changed the way he sees those in different circumstances than himself. 

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Fourth Street Clinic has been serving homeless patients since 1988 and was moved to this location in the early 90s. (Photo by Clara Welch)

 

4th Street Clinic

Fourth Street Clinic’s mission statement with their number reports for 2017. (Photo by Clara Welch)

Like the Maliheh Clinic, the Fourth Street Clinic provides free healthcare and is located near Rio Grande. It’s a convenient location for many of the homeless people located downtown. The Fourth Street Clinic has a staff of over 60 people, including 7 full-time healthcare providers, and 150 volunteers providing over 14,000 hours of volunteer service. James Jarrad, Development and Communication Manager at Fourth Street Clinic, explained that the network of donors, volunteers, and staff bring quality healthcare to 5,000 yearly patients, who otherwise, would have none.

Jarrad visits with real patients who share their stories for the clinic website. “Becoming homeless can happen to anyone and for almost any reason,” he says. “There are so many different things to get to where you are in life and they can add up to either completely build your life up or tear it down,” Jarrad explains. “Sometimes you have no control, sometimes it’s within your control.”  

 Jarrad emphasized that, “homelessness is so much more complex”, than what the general public might think.

Connect2Health

Connect2Health’s mission statement with their number reports for 2017. (Photo by Clara Welch)

Connect2Health is a non-profit, student-run organization with a mission to “empower individuals to utilize community resources in order to cultivate multi-dimensional health.” By enlisting eager students, Connect2Health strives to connect patients with the resources they need to get back on their feet.

Focusing on needs other than medical, Connect2Health volunteers work one-on-one with patients at multiple locations. Volunteers can be found at Fourth Street Clinic, University Hospital, Primary Children’s, and the Wellness Bus. Connect2Health is creating a new norm by sending patients out with not only prescriptions, but resources including food, clothing, child care, and degrees.

Knowing that help is available is empowering to homeless and low-income individuals, but volunteers are impacted in a powerful way as well.  “It really helps to break down bias, develop cultural sensitivity, and develop empathy,” say Alexis Lee, Director of Connect2Health.

Volunteers work with individuals, who right now, happens to be homeless, says Lee, but it is important to see these people outside of their immediate circumstances. Connect2Health engenders empathy and understanding for these individuals, Lee says. 

Helping the homeless is more than just making downtown safer, it’s about seeing people for who they are. Operation Rio Grande addresses part of the issue of fixing homelessness, but it is organizations like Maliheh, the Fourth Street Clinic, and Connect2Health that fulfill the bigger picture and long-term needs.

What keeps these organization going are the volunteer hours. Donating time and spare items can make a difference in another human’s life. Homelessness is a multi-dimensional issue. A combined effort from the state, city, organizations, and individuals will help lift people from the burden of homelessness and be seen as fellow human beings with just a different set of challenges than you.

 

 

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Reaching out to China’s past

Story and gallery by PORTER L. ANDERSON

The Family History Library in downtown Salt Lake City has for many years been a free and open facility where visitors can come and conduct research about their ancestors. The library is the largest genealogical library in the world and attracts people from all walks of life to travel to Utah just to take part in the work that takes place there.

Recently the library has implemented a new interactive activity for those visitors who come from China. “The Genealogical Society of Utah and the Family History Library have always been working to build an open and informative experience for visitors of our great state,” said Yvonne Sorenson, the library’s administrative representative.

The Family History Library is located on Temple Square, which is the most visited tourist site in all of Utah. Temple Square is a large plot of land with many different facilities that are owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a Christian church that has a strong following in Utah.

The interactive experience that can be found on the main floor of the Family History Library is meant to be the first look into genealogical work for those who haven’t had much experience before. Visitors are guided by the volunteers that work in the library to several different stations where they are able to learn about famous relatives, facts about their birth, interesting stories about ancestors, and so much more.

The newly remodeled main floor has been open for almost two years but just recently the administration decided to create an experience specifically for Chinese guests who couldn’t take part in the regular activities due to lack of Chinese records in the library.

“We realized that so many international visitors would come to visit Temple Square but, we would often have to turn them away from our interactive activities. We wanted to help reach out to these people in any simple way we could to help the guests get excited about family history work while making them feel welcome to our facilities,” Sorenson said.

The Chinese experience has been in place for almost three months and the results have been nothing short of amazing. One of the translators for the library, Charles Garrett, said, “It is so amazing to see these wonderful people come to the library and be so excited to see that they can learn simple things like the origin of their last name. They just seem to light up and get excited to learn more about their families.”

While the program is still in the testing phases it remains very simple but, with the results that have been observed over the past few months, the administration of the library is really excited to continue building on the experience. “I would love to see the experiment we have created grow to a more substantial point,” Garrett said when asked how he felt about the future of the program.

While the future of the program seems bright, no concrete plans have been made to improve the activities or even keep them up and running after the test period is over at the end of the year. The patrons of the library are very inspired by the activity and seem genuinely excited to revisit the library if they were to visit Utah again.

“This was very interesting for me because it taught me a lot of information about myself that I didn’t know. I only wish the building had the materials for me to do more searching into my past,” said Li-Wei Chen, a visitor who is traveling from Shanghai.

This is the exact result that the library administration was hoping to see from these visitors. “We were hoping that we could build the excitement that we see the locals get when visiting but, we’re a little short on resources to do it. I think the team in charge of the program has done a wonderful job creating this experience and I hope that we decided to put more effort and keep the program for the long-term,” Sorenson said.

The library has access to thousands of genealogical resources but few of those are Chinese, which makes the program that much more impressive. The program being added for the long-term would be a great addition to the library but would also help the state of Utah as well. Creating global attractions like the Family History Library builds the state’s reputation as a place that welcomes all visitors.

With the inclusion of the Chinese experience in the Family History Library, it shows that the LDS church is aware of the importance it holds in building tourism and attending to the growing international attention that Utah is getting.

Sorenson added, “We want to continue to create a global experience here that can be enjoyed by all. The journey may be difficult and we may struggle to find a way but, we are determined to help all find the joys that genealogical work can bring to an individual.”

Bags to Beds program makes a lasting impact upon the homeless community in Salt Lake City

Story, photos, and video by SPENCER K. GREGORY

A local student has created a service project that has impacted the homeless community in Salt Lake City.

Kaitlin Mclean, creator and director of the Bags to Beds program.

Kaitlin McLean, a fifth-year student at the University of Utah, has created a system in which the participant recycles plastic bags, creates plastic yarn, and produces mats that she said can then be used to “help our homeless neighbors.” This service project has been referred to as Bags to Beds.

“Bags to Beds is a community service project that’s looking to reduce waste for our community by breaking down plastic bags that can’t be recycled,” McLean said.

She organized this student-directed service project through the Bennion Center. The Bennion Center is a nonprofit organization on the U’s campus that serves the local community.

Since then, McLean is now the director of the program and has made a tremendous impact upon sustainability within the Salt Lake Valley.

She said that it averages about 40-50 hours of service per mat.

Students can get involved with however much time they want to spend.

One U student, Megan Peterson, said, “The project itself was really easy, and not hard to understand.”

Peterson is currently a third-year student who is studying communication with an emphasis in strategic communication. She specifically loves to help out the Bennion Center Scholars program.

Peterson mentions how she was first introduced to Bags to Beds at a Scholars social where they just ate pizza. In the meeting they casually discussed goal setting with students pursuing their work for their personal engagement within the community.

Afterward, the Scholars were unified in their efforts to cut plastic bags into objects that would later be used into “plarn.”

U students hard at work with “plarn.”

“Plarn” is the term that Bags to Beds has adopted to describe the unique process of creating the service phenomenon.

Bryan Luu offers insight as to the process and functionality of plarn making. He said, “Plarn is a form of plastic yarn. It’s what wove together these giant mats. All of it’s made from plastic bags that have just been cut into strips and tied together to resemble the yarn.”

Once the mats are made from the plarn, they are immediately distributed to a local resource center or to Project Homeless Connect.

Homeless Connect is a one-day event that helps provide services and outlets for those who are homeless. People can learn how to get involved in this project by visiting the website.

The program has a tremendous connection to the Project Homeless Connect happening in downtown Salt Lake City. “We’ll have all the mats we’ve finished throughout the year for those that are anticipating they’ll be outside this year,” McLean said.

McLean said they expect to help more than 600 individuals during 2018.
“It also gives us an opportunity to work with other people who work with this population, and also get to know the people we are serving,” she said.

This program has made a great impact upon a tremendous social issue.
Peterson said, “Even though homelessness itself is such a huge issue, they’re just trying to help a little bit by taking waste that can’t even be recycled, and then re-using them for something useful.”

Peterson added, “It also helped me focus in on an issue that I’m not thinking about all the time.”

Bryan Luu - FIXED_Moment2

Bryan Luu shares his experience with Bags to Beds.

Luu, a fifth-year student at the U studying civil engineering and urban ecology, said, “My time with Bags to Beds really has shaped a lot of my community involvement because I feel as if I can continue making a difference. Just having that knowledge, is just really important. Then I can be able to still give back to my community.”

Students or other patrons can visit Bags to Beds to get actively involved. Visitors can then fill out a volunteer interest form.

Bags to Beds has trained organizations and individuals to work independently on the service project at the Bennion Center or even at home.

Bags to Beds Website2 - Copy_Moment

Bags to Beds was founded by University of Utah student Kaitlin McLean.

So if you’re a community member, student, or local citizen in the community there are many ways for you to get engaged in this great organization. According to McLean, Bags to Beds can even personally deliver plarn right at your door.

Peterson said it’s an “easy way to get involved.”

Paige Remington, another student at the U, said, “Although I am not directly helping people who are experiencing homelessness, I am using my hands and my time to create something that will hopefully alleviate a small amount of suffering.”

Debbie Hair, the administrative assistant for the Bennion Center.

Debbie Hair is the administrative assistant for the Bennion Center. She has helped the founder of Bags to Beds from the beginning. She said, “This project went off miraculously with a lot of attention.”

Hair added, “There’s a couple of different reaches this program has, one is environment. We’re not just reaching out to the homeless to give them comfort, but we’re also repurposing those bags.”

According to Bags to Beds, the program has collected over 12,000 plastic bags for active sustainable use in the community.

Bags to Beds has a plan to prepare a model that is sustainable moving forward. McLean said, “The project will continue to flourish no matter how many students there are.”

Students through the Bennion Center and community members in the Salt Lake Valley have been the main community engagement resource, providing service hours for the program. However, the organization plans to spread to other cities.

Since the early years of the program, it has now officially become an incorporated business outside of the Bennion Center.

McLean said, “Bags to Beds is now in the process of becoming a tax-deductible nonprofit organization.” Bags to Beds has made a tremendous impact upon the homeless society in the Salt Lake Valley and will continue to change countless future lives.

YouTube video:

An nonprofit’s initiative to educate Utah about child abuse

Story and images by ALLISON PFERDNER

The statistic — one in five Utah kids will be sexually abused before they turn 18 — is one of the first things you’ll see when you visit Prevent Child Abuse Utah’s website. Prevent Child Abuse Utah, or PCAU, is a nonprofit organization that seeks to educate children and parents throughout the state in hopes of lowering Utah’s child abuse rate, which is three times the national average.

Child abuse statistics are framed and hung in the organization’s offices in Salt Lake City.

PCAU has developed an age-appropriate curriculum and staff go into K-12 schools to teach children how to recognize abuse and empower them to report it.

As the community outreach program administrator for PCAU, Gwen Knight trains adults to recognize abuse, understand the reporting laws in Utah, and support the students once they report. Knight said that according to research, once adults are taught to recognize abuse and report it, they are more likely to want their children to learn about it as well.

This is Gwen Knight in her office at PCAU’s headquarters in Salt Lake City.

This brings up the topic of how PCAU brings awareness to its organization and how it gets into schools to teach its curriculum. Through community outreach programs, booths at the PTA Convention, and the many presentations PCAU does throughout the state, schools will reach out to PCAU to learn more about having the nonprofit come teach its curriculum in specific schools.

While many schools want the organization to teach its curriculum, other schools are difficult to get into. Knight provides a few counterpoints for some of the common reasons why schools say no. First, schools use the excuse of not having time for the classes. Knight said, “It only takes 30 minutes and if a child is dealing with abuse, they aren’t focusing anyway.” Second, schools don’t want their communities to perceive that their schools have children being abused in them. However, research shows that abuse happens in every demographic.

This is Safetysaurus, the puppet mascot, which is used to teach children in schools.

Parents have the opportunity to review the curriculum before it is taught and if they don’t approve, they are able to indicate that they don’t want their child to participate. The age-appropriate curriculum covers every kind of abuse including sexual, emotional, neglect, and physical abuse. It teaches children that their bodies belong to them.

PCAU is a statewide organization with community partners in Box Elder, Cedar City, the Uintah Basin, Tooele, Park City, and the Wasatch area. It trains people in each of these areas on its curriculum. This helps the nonprofit reach more people.

This organization also provides a program called Parents as Teachers in Davis County. Staff go directly to the homes of pregnant women and families with kids up to the age of 5. They provide instruction on how to raise healthy children by teaching about nutrition, sleep, safety, and discipline.

PCAU’s Certificate of Charter is displayed on the front desk in the Salt Lake office.

Rebecca Virgo, the Parents As Teachers Program administrator, says that other than reaching out to households, the program gets referrals from hospitals as well as families contacting them. The program has a list of stressors that staff pay attention to in order to know who they should reach out to. Some of these stressors are: military families, incarcerated parents, teen parents, and any type of illness present in the home.

Virgo said the biggest challenge of going into homes and working with the families is the observation that “helping is not always helpful.” When some parents receive help, they often don’t feel like they are seen as capable or trustworthy. It is more important for the visiting staff to connect the family with resources that will assist them rather than doing all the work for the parents.

A pinwheel is the symbol for preventing child abuse in America.

The staff’s main goals when they work with families are to facilitate connection, help them achieve goals, and to supply them with a wide range of parenting skills. “Your story that you grew up with doesn’t have to be your story for your children,” Virgo said.

The program is helping 120 families right now and is looking to expand to help 45 more in the near future. Due to the labor-intensive nature of this program, it can’t expand too far but Virgo suggests an alternative to families who want the extra help.

If you text utfamily to 27448, you can subscribe to Bright by Text, which sends out messages to parents of children prenatal to 5 years old. The messages contain helpful information based on the age of the child on things like child development, health and safety, and tips.

In both of these programs, Community Outreach and Parents as Teachers, Prevent Child Abuse Utah is spreading awareness and making a difference in children’s lives around the state.

As the assistant to the executive director, Ashley Workman urges everyone “not to underestimate the importance of what we do.”

“You can never teach this information too much,” Workman said.

So much growth has already happened in PCAU and the communities it works with and so much more can happen, Workman said. She wants parents to “not be surprised by the fact that the majority of abusers are people the child trusts because it’s unfortunately common.”

Workman’s plea to parents is: “If they run into a child that’s been abused, beg them to support the child.”

Prevent Child Abuse Utah’s logo on the main wall in the office.

Redefine beauty with positive body image

Story and gallery by MORGAN STEWART

“In the last decade, there was a 446 percent increase in the number of cosmetic procedures in the U.S., with 92 percent performed on women. The majority being liposuction,” according to Beauty Redefined.

Today more than ever women and young girls are facing unrealistic ideals about beauty and body image. Coming from every media outlet, these beauty standards are becoming extremely harmful to the thoughts and minds of young girls and women all over the world.

Identical twins Lexie and Lindsay Kite recognized this issue and established the nonprofit organization Beauty Redefined in 2013 after obtaining their doctoral degrees from the University of Utah. After great research and study the twins have made it their mission to shine light on the effects of the beauty standards that are portrayed in the media and to start a different conversation about body image.

Their Story

As young girls, the twins were avid competitive swimmers starting at just 6 years old. The girls loved to swim until their attention moved from their actual performance to the way they looked in their swimsuits, Lindsay writes on the organization’s website. This started the girls’ “preoccupation with weight loss” that consumed so much of their thoughts and actions during their developmental years.

But the girls were not alone. Many of their friends were experiencing the same thoughts and emotions toward their bodies and appearances. The common factor that the girls believe attributed to some of these thoughts was the “easy access to media our entire lives,” Lindsay wrote.

Movies, television, social media and magazines all portray a certain standard for beauty. What is cool, what is not cool, what is thin, what is fat, and even what it means to be successful. And the list goes on.

Today

Today, Beauty Redefined has become a successful tool for spreading awareness of the damaging cultural standards that are portrayed in the media. Lexie and Lindsay travel the world teaching about positive body image and their strategies for developing what they call “body image resilience.”

In an online interview with the women they described body image resilience as “the ability to become stronger because of the difficulties and objectification women experience living in their bodies, not just in spite of those hard things.”

Through their speeches, website, blog, social media accounts and eight-week body image resilience program the twins are helping women and girls all around the world to shut down these ideals and to build positive body image from within.

The Beauty Redefined “Body Image Resilience Program” is an eight-unit online program. The program is designed to teach women how to recognize harmful messages in the media and how to reflect on the ways in which those messages impact their daily lives. Furthermore, the program guides women through the process of redefining beauty and how we think about beauty, health and self-worth.

Though there are many “well-intentioned” people who promote positive body image by telling women to embrace their beauty and bodies, Beauty Redefined takes a different approach. “Beauty Redefined is changing the conversation about body image by telling girls and women they are MORE than beautiful,” Lexie told me. “We assert positive body image is about feeling positively toward your body overall, not just what it looks like.”

The Beauty Redefined mantra is: “Women are more than just bodies. See more. Be more.”

Because media in all forms are becoming increasingly easy to access, the popularity of various social media platforms has skyrocketed in the past few years as well as the negative effects that accompany them.

I asked the women how they felt the rise of social media has been affecting women today. “As image-based social media content like Instagram and Pinterest have soared in popularity, so has the endless self-comparison so many girls and women engage in. That self-comparison is a trap, a ‘thief of joy,’ and leads to unhappiness,” they said.

To avoid the harm of self-comparison and the other dangerous messages portrayed in the media the sisters recommend going on a “media fast.” Avoid the use of any and all forms of media for a few days to “give your mind the opportunity to become more sensitive to the messages that don’t look like or feel like the truths you experience in real life, face to face with real fit people and your own health choices,” Lexie suggested. By eliminating media for a period of time you allow yourself to become more aware of these messages and the way they truly make you feel.

Another tip the women shared with me is to “stay away from mirrors while exercising.” Research has shown that women who work out in front of mirrors are less likely to perform to the best of their ability because their focus is on how they look rather than what their bodies are able to do.

Finally, “use your body as an instrument, not an ornament: When women learn to value their bodies for what they can do rather than what they look like, they improve their body image and gain a more powerful sense of control,” Lexie said. This is the mantra that much of the organization’s content stems from.

Moving Forward

Though there are many issues concerning female body image and the way women’s bodies are portrayed in the media, the biggest issues are that “women’s bodies are valued more than women themselves,” Lexie said.

Objectification is the root of these issues and both men and women must fight to stop it.

The sisters believe that “progress for all of society requires valuing women for more than our parts, not simply expanding the definition of which parts are valuable.”

 

Best Friends Animal Society hopes to ‘Save Them All’ through NKUT initiatives

Story and gallery by KEATON SHIRK

The well-known scenery of Utah red rock complements the vast, open landscape that is home to 1,600 rescue animals in Kanab, Utah. Tucked away between national parks, these animals are living the good life.

The Best Friends Animal Society is a nonprofit organization providing a safe shelter for rescued animals brought in from around the world. Its strict policy as a no-kill animal organization aims to bring to the public’s attention solutions to help reduce the number of sheltered animals.

At the Best Friends Animal Society’s sanctuary, high-spirited and irresistibly lovable dogs greet you with wet kisses and the eagerness to tell their rescue story. They long for the right companion to come along with the willingness to lend an ear (maybe even a gentle belly rub too), while they grab your heart and prove why their life is valuable.

Pigs, bunnies, and parrots live at the sanctuary too and leave people impacted in unfamiliar yet awe-inspiring ways.

The Best Friends Animal Society was founded in the 1980s by a passionate group of individuals determined to save the lives of animals.

Despite the lack of public support and funding, Best Friends built the nation’s largest no-kill animal sanctuary in Kanab in 1984. The sanctuary encompasses 3,700 acres of land.

“We had no visible means of support. We were hung out to dry. We were all in it together,” said Francis Battista, co-founder of Best Friends, on the website.

Euthanasia is the chosen method for population control in most animal shelters. In the 1980s, Best Friends Animal Society reported, “17 million animals were being killed each year in U.S Shelters.” Particularly, cats and dogs suffer from the highest kill rates among all sheltered animals.

Best Friends has initiated a campaign to make Utah a no-kill state. The initiative is called No-Kill Utah and it is hope to be reached by 2019.

The NKUT initiative began after the originators of Best Friends found themselves disturbed by the staggering statistic of cats and dogs killed yearly.

Best Friends has been working closely with animal shelters around Utah in an effort to break the rising trend of overpopulation in animal shelters. Overpopulation causes shelters to defer to euthanasia to reduce financial costs of caring for animals and maximizing space.

Right now Best Friends has partnered with 58 animal shelters in Utah. This number is growing as the campaign reaches new audiences.

All animals at Best Friends are given second chances, the kind of second chances that quite literally change their lives.

The slogan, “Save Them All,” is an anthem for employees and volunteers. It also serves as a compelling reminder, that killing homeless animals is an unnecessary solution to an issue that can be changed.

The sanctuary welcomes animals that have been neglected, treated unjustly or suffered life threatening physical conditions. The founders hoped, “to give homeless animals the chance to live a fulfilling life.” 

Their hopes still reign true today. Every year, data is collected and shows more animals successfully leaving shelters alive to live in homes with welcoming hearts. 

Because of the impact Best Friends had on the community of Utah animals, expansion is taking place in other cities in the United States. Best Friends adoption facilities are open in Atlanta, New York and two in Los Angeles. 

Joan Filla, from Wisconsin, has been coming to Best Friends for nine years. She visits only three times each year.

She has witnessed the physical growth at Best Friend’s sanctuary. Filla said in an interview that there are more buildings available to care for animals.

Not only has Best Friends grown physically, Filla also said that awareness for sheltered animals is extending farther than Utah boundaries. She found the best way for her to advocate about the mission of Best Friends is to simply wear her volunteer T-shirt.

Filla said people consistently approach her and ask what Best Friends Animal Society is. She uses this interaction as a way to promote and advocate for the organization and the no-kill initiatives currently in effect.

Best Friends has initiated a campaign to make Utah a no-kill state. The initiative is called No-Kill Utah and it is hoped to be achieved by 2019.

This would mean all animals in the state of Utah are guaranteed their life, regardless if physical space in animal shelters is not available. If space is unavailable, animals are transported to partnering NKUT shelters that can accommodate them.

Best Friends encourages the type of community involvement, like that of Filla, to help spread the word about NKUT.

To successfully achieve NKUT by 2019, Utah must have a “combined save rate of 90 percent” in all animal shelters.

In other words, 90 percent of animals that enter shelters must leave alive. The remaining 10 percent takes into consideration natural deaths and terminal illnesses of animals.

Deb Parker, a previous volunteer who now works full time at Best Friends, moved from upstate New York to join the community and support the work of Best Friend’s sanctuary.

In an interview, Parker said, “In fiscal year 2017, we had an 87 percent save rate in the entire state of Utah, had close to 2,000 adoptions and did over 37,000 spays and neuters in the state alone.”

Parker added, “Yes, we are on track for both No-Kill Utah 2019 and No Kill 2025. Spread the word, the more people helping to achieve this, the better.” Best Friends plans to make all U.S. cities no-kill by 2025.

The NKUT initiative began after the originators of Best Friends found themselves disturbed by the staggering statistic of cats and dogs killed yearly.

In 2000, “nearly 38,000 healthy and adoptable animals were being killed in Utah every year,” reported Best Friends in an online news release. 

That’s when NKUT was initiated. It was an aggressive attempt to reduce the rising yearly deaths among sheltered cats and dogs.

As of 2017, the number is down to roughly 2,400. Nearly half a million dogs and cats have been saved from 2000 to 2017.

Best Friend’s aspirations have been manifested by its work within Utah. Resources are available so Utah communities have the ability to promote NKUT and make the campaign a success by 2019.

Best Friends offers legislative empowerment to those who wish to take action through lobbying elected officials. Reaching out to elected officials is an efficient way to take action on pertinent bills regarding Best Friends and animal welfare.

Advocacy enables people to speak directly with lawmakers and become a voice for animals that have no representation. You can sign up online to join the legislative action network, receive emails, and connect with other Utahns. 

Fighting breed-discrimination is another initiative of Best Friends that educates the public about breeds that are viewed as aggressive. Unfortunately, the media has given negative attention to pit bull terriers and other alike breeds because of their reputation in illegal dogfighting and aggressive behavior.

Eliminating breed-discrimination practices reduces the amount of dogs entering shelters that would be brought in from public enforcement and animal control groups.

BSL, which stands for breed-specific legislation, is a body of laws that aims to regulate breeds or dogs who resemble certain breeds, that are potentially dangerous. On Best Friend’s website, it said, “breed discriminatory legislation force many people to give up their beloved pets.” After such force, dogs are put into animal shelters and not adopted. 

Best Friends refers to BSL as a “misconception” and usually enacted “to ease fears over public safety, but these laws are ineffective and very costly.” 

In Utah, House Bill 97, signed by Gov. Gary Herbert, “protects pet owner property rights and allows responsible citizens to own any breed of dog they choose.” House Bill 97 was effective Jan. 1, 2015.

Events are held annually in Utah to offer community members the chance to get involved and show support for NKUT. Strut Your Mutt, NKUT Super Adoption, and training workshops and classes are happenings that occur throughout the year. 

Best Friends provides spaying and neutering as another resource to reach NKUT. All animals admitted to shelters have the procedure. This procedure is routinely done and requires minimal downtime for pets. Low cost and potentially free spays or neuters are offered to community members’ pets too, courtesy of Best Friends

Best Friends reports, spaying and neutering, “is one of the greatest gifts you can provide your pet, your family and your community” because it reduces the number of animals that initially enter shelters.

NKUT reported services will be provided “where they are needed most so that fewer animals go into shelters, and increase adoptions so that more animals are placed into new homes.” 

NKUT strives to ensure that all sheltered animals are given the gift of life. Communities in Utah are being called to action.

Now is the time to spread the word and “Save Them All.”

University of Utah fraternity partners with Rape Recovery Center

Story and slideshow by MADDY HOWARD

Don’t walk to your car alone. Don’t go on a run without pepper spray. Don’t make eye contact too long. Don’t dress like you’re asking for it.

All of these are “rules” young people have been told in hope of avoiding sexual assault.

Sexual assault is an epidemic that has affected campuses nationwide. Universities such as Stanford, Brown and Baylor all have an extensive history of sexual assault on campus. Many people do not believe universities are doing enough to keep students safe.

Well, what if someone told you a fraternity was speaking out against sexual assault?

At the University of Utah, Beta Theta Pi is dedicated to making a change. Beta is a fraternity which brands itself as men of principle.

These men excel in academics with an overall average GPA of 3.4. Additionally, they have the highest GPA out of any organization, club, or team at the University of Utah, according to the office of the Dean of Students. “These men hold themselves to the highest standard possible which makes them one of the most respected fraternities on campus,” said Josie Karren, a U student and Delta Gamma member.

Beta is partnered with the Rape Recovery Center in hopes of changing sexual assault not only at the U, but across the nation.

The Rape Recovery Center is a nonprofit organization in Salt Lake City. Services include support, testing and providing hope for victims from every walk of life. RRC helps people understand they are not alone, and understand that their attack does not define them.

Beta has been working with RRC for almost five years. Stereotypes tell the world fraternity men are part of the problem and are nothing but partiers. In 2014, the U’s chapter of Beta Theta Pi was featured on the Dr. Phil show. Phil McGraw’s wife, Robin McGraw, was in awe of what these men are trying to accomplish.

Philanthropy Week is full of fundraising for the RRC and happens every fall and spring. For Beta members, it’s a time to raise money for victims. Taking place from Feb. 26-March 3, spring 2018 Philanthropy Week was a huge success, according to Noah Carr. He is the current vice president of internal programming. His duties include planning events throughout the week. Many of these events take place at the recently renovated $2.3 million chapter house.

Beta planned fun events that brought all of Greek row, and even some non-Greeks out to support. From designing hoodies to creating pop sockets as a unique way to raise money, Carr was dedicated to finding ways to raise money.

“Handling the Philanthropy Week for Beta was an unbelievable and humbling experience. Working so close with the RRC and proactively doing things for the community is what makes all the work worth it. We raised $14,000 for this great organization in less than six days and it’s an awesome feeling to know you’re making a difference,” Carr said.

In addition to raising funds for RRC, many of the fraternity members spend time volunteering. Many of these men help however they can at the RRC in their free time.

Volunteering requires 40 hours of extensive training. Many Betas are hotline counselors. This means they act as an over-the-phone counselor to victims. These volunteers have saved lives by talking to victims.

“I started picking up shifts every week. I like the idea that I am there if someone needs me,” Ravi Sharma said in a recent recruitment video. Sharma has been a member of Beta for two years and is passionate about the partnership with the RRC.

On campus, Beta started organizing sexual assault forums once every semester. These are open discussions about sexual assault that are open to anybody. The forums are designed to be a relaxed environment to talk about intense subjects.

Members of Beta Theta Pi believe men need to do more to stand up against sexual violence. During an interview, there was a clear theme. They want victims to know they are not alone. These men want to speak out on an issue that has been swept under the rug for far too long.

Anthony Panuzio, 20, the current president of Beta, said the partnership with RRC is a main reason why he even chose Beta in the first place.

“I am honored to represent a group of men that are dedicated to change. Sexual violence is something many people just don’t want to talk about. Talking about it is the only way we are going to make a difference. It makes me proud that Beta’s aren’t afraid to be the ones who speak out,” Panuzio said.

In America, someone is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds. One in three women and one in five men will experience sexual assault in their lifetime, according to RAINN.

It is time for serious change.

Everyone knows someone who has been affected by sexual assault. In a recent video Beta Theta Pi released, John Moffitt, vice president of recruitment for Beta at the U, says, “The slogan we came up with is: to the brave survivors of sexual assault we believe you.”

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Branding The Leonardo

Story and gallery by CHARLES BUCK

The front desk of the Leonardo Museum was bustling as employees were answering phones and signing for deliveries on Monday, March 12. A new exhibit was opening in three days and the activities formed the perfect backdrop as the museum’s Chief Development Officer, Deb Peterson, described the challenges of creating a brand.

According to The Leonardo’s website, the museum opened in 2011 with the personality behind Leonardo da Vinci as a brand strategy that would define a museum dedicated to inspiring “creativity and innovation in people of all ages and background.”

Sitting just inside the main exhibition space, Peterson explained that da Vinci’s curiosity perfectly defined an interactive museum dedicated to learning about art, science and technology. The goal was to align the museum with the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

It allowed The Leonardo, located at 209 E. 500 South, to be a place where visitors could explore exhibits with the same sense of curiosity and wonder as da Vinci himself. However, creating such a unique space also created unique branding challenges.

“Phase one was to get the doors open,” Peterson explained. Phase two was to spark interest in the community by hosting famous exhibits like “Bodyworlds” and the “Dead Sea Scrolls.” While successful, these exhibits didn’t clinch The Leonardo’s brand identity in Utah.

“We had to reeducate the public,” Peterson said. The museum had developed a reputation for being a venue for traveling exhibits, and the public forgot that The Leonardo had the unique distinction of being a place of discovery and wonder in the world around us.

This reeducation process involved all the traditional media: print, radio, television and billboards. Social media was starting to play a role, but “wasn’t what it is today,” Peterson explained. The board of directors assumed the challenge was merely to explain why the museum became da Vinci’s namesake. However, they quickly discovered that not everyone was familiar with the painter, architect and inventor Leonardo da Vinci. “We just assumed everyone knew,” Peterson said.

This branding challenge continues today, with social media playing an ever-changing role. “@theLeo,” “#theLeonardo,” and “#attheLeonardo” have all been attempts at increasing public engagement through various social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram. While describing a successful social media strategy Peterson explained that the challenge in going viral is having content critically relevant to the current social climate. To go viral the right message has to be shared with the right audience at the right time.

The focus on relevance has led The Leonardo to partner with Pictureline to create a drone exhibit, and with the LEGO brand to create an interactive exhibit focused on da Vinci’s fascination with architecture and city planning.

Mariann Asanuma is a LEGO master builder commissioned by The Leonardo to build a replica of the Cathedral of the Madeleine, a Salt Lake City landmark completed in 1909. She started working for LEGO in 2003, and eventually realized her dream of turning her passion for the building blocks into a career.

LEGO fans describe the years between when they stop playing with LEGOs in their teens and start playing with them again in their 20s as “dark years.” Asanuma explained, “I never had dark years.” Her Instagram page describes Asanuma as the “World’s First Female LEGO Artist specializing in #marketing #custommodels #teambuildingevents #customkits.”

Her latest posts highlight the progress that Asanuma is making on her model, which she is building on-site at The Leonardo. Asanuma described the constant popularity of Lego as the result of children invigorating their parents’ passion for the blocks, and not always the parents introducing their children to their own childhood toys.

“The LEGO Movie” and “The LEGO Batman Movie” helped the brand resonate with a new generation. Social media and the internet have also helped lifelong fans of the brand, like Asanuma, create online communities where people remain engaged and passionate about LEGO.

This relevance in popular culture is what makes the LEGO brand such a good match for The Leonardo. Leonardo da Vinci’s exploits with architecture and city planning allow the museum to host a LEGO exhibit without diluting its brand identity, and the popularity of the building blocks brings in a new generation of museumgoers who engage with the exhibit in creative ways.

The exhibit opened March 15, 2018, and between the displays were areas where children could act out the inspiration they found while watching Asanuma in action.

The Leonardo also hosts programs like the “FIRST LEGO League.” The league launched in September 2017 and workshops are scheduled until May 2018. These programs draw in the younger generation, while exhibits like “FLIGHT,” “FANTASTIC FORGERIES,” and “WOMAN/WOMEN” help adults identify with the museum’s brand of discovery and curiosity.

Many of the exhibits adhere to the “Hands on @ The Leo” strategy, and encourage patrons to engage with The Leonardo in person, just as they can in social media. The museum’s website invites visitors to come and discover the “forces behind engineering by tinkering, designing, and problem solving.”

Partnering with companies that brand themselves around the processes of technology or discovery will keep the museum relevant. Peterson described the essence of The Leonardo’s brand strategy: “If guests leave our museum with more questions than answers, I’ve done my job.”

Their brothers’ keeper — Utah charity targets refugee men

Story and slideshow by PETER JOHNSTON

Leul Mengistu hits the gas pedal of his company van. The light has turned green and he is late for an appointment with Julia, a female refugee from South Sudan. A banner with a blue, yellow and red logo that reads, “Catholic Community Services,” has been slapped onto the van’s side.  

Though Mengistu helps female refugees like Julia at Catholic Community Services (CCS) he has a new focus demographic: refugee men.

“I don’t want them to fall between the cracks,” he says, one hand on the steering wheel. There are programs for women and children and youth, but men are often forgotten in refugee assistance efforts.

The International Rescue Committee reports that “refugee men, a category not prioritized by the humanitarian system for support, are often not able to access support that they need and, even more often, feel themselves to be excluded from it.”

According to CARE International, a relief organization that primarily targets women, “among humanitarian actors, donors and government agencies, there is a common perception that men are best able to look after themselves and negotiate the complexities of displacement unaided.”

The report says this perception leads to less attention for the problems of male refugees.

Mengistu acknowledges that women and children are often the most disadvantaged groups fleeing conflict in their home countries. However, he also says he deals with many refugee men who have not received needed support from other organizations because of the common belief that men are “best able to look after themselves.”

Mengistu has responded to widespread ignorance toward male refugees with the Men’s Wellness Support Group — a program that will bring together 10 to 15 refugee men for weekly classes. Each “cohort” of men will learn about topics ranging from building a budget to coping with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Weekly instruction will be led by men: Mengistu, a couple of class facilitators, and guest speakers specially tapped because of their area of expertise. David Harris is one such guest speaker. He is slated to teach the class on physical health and comes from a background of pediatrics and insurance management.

Harris says he sees cultural adjustment as the greatest priority of the Men’s Wellness Support Group. “They [the refugee men] need to protect their own culture,” he says, but they also “need to understand how stuff works [in the U.S.] so that they can get along.”

Mengistu once directed a support group for women that focused primarily on health. However, he too says the new support group’s objectives go beyond just physical wellness. “I want them [the refugee men] to be very competitive,” he says. “Everybody’s smart, but now it’s camouflaged!”

That intellectual camouflage refers to the invalidation of refugees’ prior work experience and professional talent in the United States.

Mengistu’s boss, Aden Batar, is the director of Immigration and Refugee Resettlement at CCS. He explains the “camouflage” problem from his own perspective.

Batar left Somalia with his family in the mid 1990s with a law degree from his home country. He says that degree and legal experience went unrecognized in the U.S.

“Can you imagine how frustrating that would be?” Batar asks. Today, he says, refugees can more easily get college degrees that match the ones they earned previously because NGOs and governmental agencies provide financial help. However, “back then [he] was lost in the middle because [he] didn’t have those systems.”

Even with revamped nonprofit and governmental aid, Batar says the Men’s Wellness Support Group “fills a gap.”

Eighty percent of CCS cases are women and children, Batar says. Men aren’t seen later unless they have a demonstrated problem.

Despite widespread apathy on the issue, Utah’s history with refugees makes it an appropriate birthplace for the program. In 2015, when 30 governors called for the cessation of Syrian refugee resettlement, Gov. Gary R. Herbert announced Utah’s continued commitment to assist refugees.

Batar also highlights the strong public-private relationship among CCS and local religious organizations as a positive sign of Utah’s tolerance of refugees. “The most welcoming state in the U.S. is Utah,” he says.

While the Men’s Wellness Support Group has public backing, it faces significant challenges.

For one, cultural conflicts between refugees’ old way of life and their new one in America could foster misunderstanding and resentment. David Harris, the guest speaker who will handle the physical health section, underlines that the program’s facilitators and guest speakers may not understand all cultural nuances of refugees’ backgrounds. “We may say something that we feel strongly about or think is obvious when they disagree or don’t think it’s obvious,” Harris says.

The key, he says, will be for facilitators to “listen really closely to what [the refugees] have to say and what their concerns are rather than being very dogmatic.”

Participating refugees will come from more than three countries. Mengistu has recruited men from Burma, Somalia and Democratic Republic of the Congo for the support group so far. His proposed solution to bridge cultural divides is to recruit participants who speak one of only two languages — Karen (a language spoken in Burma) and Swahili.

Logistics also pose a problem. Mengistu will need to resolve the scheduling conflicts of refugee men who work night and day shifts and CCS interpreters who work business hours. The program director says he and the guest speakers will adapt to the schedules of the refugees.

Regardless of the program’s potential problems, Mengistu envisions far-reaching implications for the Salt Lake City community. He says refugee men will integrate with the larger community, enjoy more family unity and become more self-sufficient fathers.

The first of the weekly classes launched April 5 with a cohort of seven participants — two from Burma, five from East Africa. If all goes well, these seven men will walk away from the CCS classroom on May 24 with the skills to start a career and find daily joy. A tall order — but like Mengistu says, “I don’t want them to fall through the cracks.”

 

 

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You can be the “somebody” who can help make a difference in animal rescue transportation

Story and slideshow by LORI KUNZ

Trachelle “Chelle” Hilton-King founded Rescue Animals Needing Transportation (RANT) in September 2017 with support from her husband Berk King. RANT is the first animal rescue organization in Utah specifically for the transportation of animals from shelters to rescue centers and foster homes.

The idea came to her when she was taking a dog to a rescue center. Chelle realized there were no such organized services and saw a critical need for transportation in rural areas such as Roosevelt and Vernal and along the Wasatch Front. She proposed the idea to Berk and immediately started the approval process with the State of Utah. It is a 501(c)(3) foundation group.

RANT, based in Syracuse, Utah, is a natural outgrowth of Chelle’s passion for helping animals. She and Berk foster hospice care dogs, which is end-of-life care. They currently have a 14- or 15-year-old foster they named Dixie Denver who is a lab-mix with dementia. Families don’t want old dogs – they want puppies, she said. There is no better person than Chelle to take in an elderly dog to love until its last day because she understands that the simplest act of kindness can change a life. Because her love of animals is immense she started volunteering with groups that distribute pet supplies to individuals with pets who are experiencing homelessness and to low-income pet owners.

Chelle is the owner and operator of “Chelle’s Floral and Gift” located in Clearfield, Utah. While she runs her business she will also run RANT. Most animal rescue volunteers and founders have jobs outside their organization. “RANT isn’t a project, it’s a calling,” she said. Her motto for RANT is “Saved In Time” (SIT).

Saving an animal can be a complicated process involving rescue centers, animal control officers, animal shelters, animal-foster homes and volunteers.

Rescue centers are organizations that help find homes for misplaced, abandoned and unwanted animals by posting images of them on their website and on social media. Centers rescue animals from shelters and put them into foster homes and up for adoption.

Reputable centers will make a lifetime commitment to the animals they rescue. The process they follow is to pay for the animals’ care, including immunization shots and spaying or neutering. If an animal is returned to a shelter or not wanted the center will take it back.

Some centers have relationships with animal control officers and shelter workers who monitor animals’ “due-out” dates, the date they need to exit the shelter or face possible euthanasia. This gives centers the heads-up to rescue the animal before their due-out date. Rescue centers never euthanize.

Centers have their dedicated foster homes they rely on to step in and help with the placement of animals. Centers need more people to open their homes as a foster home for animals.

Chelle said every time a foster steps up, they save two animals’ lives, the animal that was taken and the replacement animal at the shelter.

Anyone interested in adopting can visit animals in an animal foster home, rescue center and at adoption events in places like PetSmart and Petco, which donate space each week to centers to hold adoption events.

Shelters are establishments run by cities and counties that take in strays and owner-surrendered animals. They adopt out as many animals as possible, but when they are full they have to euthanize for space.

A lot of the shelter workers are pro-life and pro-rescue. They network their own animals when they start to reach capacity and will reach out to centers for assistance. Some shelter workers aren’t pro-life or pro-rescue, for those shelters there are volunteers.

“Volunteers are the lifeline of all rescues,” Chelle said. There is a network of volunteers that monitors a shelter’s capacity, post animals’ needs such as “due-out” dates, injuries and special needs.

Social media play a role in animal rescue. Shelter workers, rescue centers and foster homes all post online on their respective website and Facebook page.

One of the biggest parts of rescue is someone seeing an animal on Facebook from pages such as Utah Shelter and Rescue Network, Animal Rescue Networking Group of Utah, Utah Animals ONLY or petfinder and wanting to foster or adopt, except they live hundreds of miles from the shelter where the animal is being held.

The next step is transport for the animal(s) to the area where the rescue center and foster home are located. This is when RANT will get involved, giving them 48-72 hours, depending on the shelter, to get the animal(s) out and transported.

Most transports are arranged on Facebook via posts and Messenger, it is the quickest and easiest way for multiple people to respond and offer to help said Chelle.

RANT will help free up more space in shelters by arranging a driver and a vehicle equipped with items that will be needed for transportation i.e., leash, animal carrier, food.

Some transports can be short, between a shelter and a rescue in the valley. Others can be long and can be broken up in relays or legs. In November 2017 a dog was posted on The Bridge needing a ride from West Jordan Animal Shelter to Meridian Canine Rescue in Idaho by Nov. 18. Volunteers stepped up and had the dog delivered on time.

There are two main websites for posting animals who need transporting: The Bridge and Utah Transport. There are also national organization groups: Pilots-N-Paws, Operation Roger and Kindred Hearts Transportation Connection.

Ogden resident Michelle Holbrook started The Bridge, an animal transportation page, on Facebook in 2015. It has over 700 members. Holbrook met Chelle in November 2015 while helping to transport dogs to a rescue center in Idaho. She now serves on RANT’s five-person board of directors.

“RANT is a fabulous idea because it will give us the opportunity to pull large numbers of [animals] from overcrowded or rural shelters and get them somewhere where they have a better chance at adoption,” she said in an email interview. “RANT will be a great addition [to The Bridge] because a lot of the time we have drivers to move the [animals] but they may not have large enough vehicles or the gas money.”

Holbrook said that a lot of the time when a transport occurs the costs add up by renting a van, paying mileage and finding a driver.

The Kings started fundraising for RANT in November 2017 and anticipate raising enough money to buy a couple of vans. They have transported several animals for RANT using their personal vehicles.

Their goal is to transport between Clearfield and Southern Utah, a distance of over 300 miles, once a week to move as many animals as possible. When they have vehicles available all transportation from rural areas will also be weekly, with distances averaging 100 miles.

They will train volunteers on how to transport an animal while keeping the animal safe. They are looking for volunteers who are available to transport and who love animals.

Chelle said there are all kinds of groups who work together to rescue animals, but there is not a transport group for Utah where one is needed. “I’m somebody,” she says.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Mormon mission experience

Story and slideshow by ZACH DAVIS

The tradition of serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or Mormon church) is rooted in the very beginning of the religion in 1830.

The first Mormon missionary to be called was the Prophet Joseph Smith’s younger brother Samuel Smith.

Following Samuel Smith’s call other leaders of the Mormon church were called, including Oliver Cowdery, Parley P. Pratt, Peter Whitmer Jr. and Ziba Peterson, who were tasked with teaching the American Indians.

Mormon missionaries were the leaders of the church who preached about their religion across North America.

Later the ones serving missions would shift to the younger members who would be called by the leaders of the Mormon church.

The first mission overseas in the British Isles was fulfilled by Heber C. Kimball and Orson Hyde in 1837. This led to many converts to the religion immigrating to the United States during the 1840s.

During the 1850s Mormon missionaries expanded beyond the British Isles to countries such as Chile, France, Germany, India, Italy, South Africa and Switzerland.

During this time men had served as Mormon missionaries.

Then in 1898, the first female missionaries, Inez Knight and Lucy Jane Brimhall, were called to serve.

Now the missionary force is comprised of single men and women between the ages of 18 and 25 serving in 422 missions around the world. Mormon missions are two years for men and one and a half years for women.

Preparing for a Mission

The process of being called as a missionary begins with the individual’s desire to serve a mission. If they so desire, they will meet with their bishop (leader of the congregation) to further assess if they are ready to serve.

Individuals must be physically capable of serving, mentally stable, spiritually prepared (believe in what they are preaching), and be morally clean.

Preparing to Serve in 1965

“As I was growing up, I attended all of the church meetings, and in high school they had a program called release time (seminary) in which a person could leave campus and for one hour study the teachings of their now particular religious beliefs, and get credit towards it being one of the student’s elective studies. I took advantage of this for gaining more knowledge of the LDS Church,” Ron Davis said.

When Ron graduated high school, he was unable to leave directly for his mission. Instead he worked for three years to save up enough money to finance his two-year mission.

After working with his bishop, Ron submitted his application to serve as a missionary. This led to him being assigned to the North Scottish Mission in Scotland.

He left for the Missionary Training Center (MTC) located in Provo, Utah, in February 1965, just a month before his 21st birthday.

Serving in 1997

Throughout her life Ron Davis’s daughter-in-law, Jemela Davis, knew that she wanted to serve a mission for the Mormon church. To prepare to serve she participated in the four-year seminary program and took missionary preparation courses offered by the Mormon church through the institutes of religion program.

Jemela was able to finance her mission by working and saving as much as she could. Her parents and close friends financed the rest.

After successfully completing her application for missionary service in 1997 she was assigned to the Chile Antofagasta Mission.

Serving in 2014

To prepare for her mission, Sam Brady said she attended a mission preparation class each Sunday. She also went to temple preparation classes to prepare her to receive her endowments.

When it came to financing her mission, Sam worked full-time to raise the funds with her parents supplementing where needed. While on her mission Sam also received donations from people from time to time.

Once Sam completed all the necessary paperwork to serve her mission she received her call to the Hungary Budapest Mission, in Hungary.

She left for the MTC in September 2014.

Missionary Training Center (MTC)

Scotland Bound

While at the MTC Ron found that it was a very structured place. His daily schedule began at 6 a.m. He said his personal prayers, dressed, ate breakfast, attended instructional periods, then practiced with other missionaries to lessen the feelings of uncertainty about telling people how he felt about the Mormon church.

One of the things he said he found most interesting while at the MTC was that it “seemed a little like role playing, because at times the teachers would all of sudden take a negative approach and then you had to change their outlook with your knowledge of the truths that you were going to present to the people once in the mission that you would be called to.”

When Ron left the MTC after two weeks he was “excited to be going on [his] first plane ride, and to be going to another country.” The plane stopped in London and then went to Edinburgh, where the mission home was headquartered.

Chile

Jemela’s daily schedule at the MTC was filled from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. From 6:30 to 9 a.m. she would do personal preparation, individual scripture study and eat breakfast. Then from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. she would participate in morning classes. After lunch, she would do further classes from 1 to 5 p.m. Dinner at 6 p.m. was followed by more evening classes from 7-9 p.m. At 9 p.m. she would return to her dorm for further personal duty until bedtime at 10 p.m.

The classes that Jemela attended focused on learning Spanish, the missionary discussions and cultural lessons regarding Chile.

She spent nine weeks in the MTC. Because she was assigned to a foreign language mission, she needed adequate time to learn the language in order to better teach the people of Chile.

“Hungary” for knowledge

Life at the MTC for Sam wasn’t all fun and games. In fact, it was very strict and rough, but she also found it very spiritually uplifting.

A regular day for her at the MTC consisted of waking at 6:30 a.m. to get ready and eat breakfast in the cafeteria. At 8 a.m. she did personal study in the classroom. This was followed by discussing what she had learned with her companions. At 10 a.m. she engaged in language study with the rest of the day being broken up by Hungarian lessons, devotionals and practice lessons.

Brady also spent nine weeks in the MTC in order to learn Hungarian.

When it came time to leave for Budapest, Brady said she “was extremely nervous and excited all at once.”

Mission Field

Life in Scotland

It was a very cold February when Ron arrived in Edinburgh. For the first time in 50 years the main rivers had frozen.

Ron said it rained often – sometimes daily for weeks at a time. He needed two overcoats: one to wear while the other dripped over the tub so it would be dry to wear the next day.

His normal attire was limited to dark-colored (dark blue, dark brown, or black) suits and pants to match. He wore white shirts, very conservative ties, hats and shoes.

Ron woke early each morning and said a prayer. Then he read and studied the Scriptures before eating breakfast. Then he and his companion left to go tracting (look for people interested in talking about the church). After doing that for a few hours the Mormon companions ate lunch.

When proselytizing Ron and his companion (fellow missionary) were often rejected with doors being slammed in their faces. This was done in the hope of finding someone who was willing to hear what they had to say about the Mormon church.

Occasionally during their tracting they’d set up appointments to talk with people in their home.

At supper time, the missionaries would return to where they were lodging to eat. After eating they would go out once more to meet their appointments and teach them about the Mormon church. When the day finally had finished the missionaries would return to their lodging, study and read the Scriptures some more, get ready for bed, say their prayers and retire for the night to be ready to repeat the cycle the next day.

The reason missionaries travel in pairs is because Scripture discusses going “two by Two” (Mark 6:7). It was safer to have more than one missionary together as it allowed them to keep each other out of trouble.

The biggest thing Ron didn’t like during his mission was knocking on doors to meet people as the process of street meetings and discussions weren’t used when he was serving. And during this time the Mormons weren’t very popular.

On Wednesdays Ron took his shirts to the laundry and washed the rest of his clothes at the cleaners or coin laundry.

When it came time to leave the country, Ron said he was “kind of sad” because he had devoted “two years of [his] life in an effort to bring the joy and happiness of the restored gospel here upon the earth and now it was coming to an end.”

Trials in Chile

Jemela arrived in Chile unaware of the trials and poverty she would be facing.

During her mission, she said she lost over 60 pounds and became frail. She and her companions had to boil their drinking water to avoid getting sick.

Soon after these hardships, Jemela said she was able to “set aside the life [she] knew to develop [her] spiritual self.” Instead of focusing on the hardships she focused on faith, prayer and fasting. When meeting people she and her companions would do anything to help make Chileans’ lives better.

The normal attire for sister missionaries in Chile was skirts and blouses. They “could not wear nylons because the fleas get caught in between the nylon netting and [their] legs, resulting in the fleas biting you repeatedly,” Jemela said.

When Jemela found out that she would be serving in such a poverty-stricken country instead of buying brand new clothes she bought clothes from a second-hand store to use on her mission. The reason for this she said was “[she] did not want to appear wealthy or to send a message that she was better than [the Chilean people].”

At one point, she only had two pairs of socks causing her to have to wash them at noon each day and hang them to dry so they would be ready for the following day.

“With the exception of the clothes on my back, I gave away all of my clothes to the Chilean people,” Jemela said.

The daily routine during Jemela’s mission was to get up at 7 a.m. to get ready, eat breakfast, do personal study and companion study. At 10 a.m. they would leave their apartment to either teach people, search for people to teach, or help reactivate members who were no longer attending. At 1 p.m. the companions would return home for “La Siesta” which is a Chilean practice where everything shuts down for three hours. Everyone goes home to eat a big meal and take a nap. At 4 p.m. everything would reopen and the missionaries would return to teaching until 10 or 11 p.m.

When it came time to return home Jemela said that “she was not disappointed, but saddened to leave the people [she] had grown to love.” While at the airport waiting for her flight home she was surprised by four of the youth she had taught who had hitchhiked a thousand miles to see her off at the airport.

To Budapest

Full of nervous excitement and a fear of the unexpected Brady arrived in Budapest.

Brady’s days consisted of rising at 6:30 a.m. to pray, exercise for 30 minutes and prepare for the day. Then she would eat breakfast from 7:30 to 8 a.m. After breakfast, she would study the Book of Mormon, other scriptures, the missionary library and Preach My Gospel until 9 a.m.

Brady and her companion then studied together and shared what they had learned during personal study.

From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. they proselytized with an hour taken for lunch and additional study and an hour taken for dinner, which was to be finished no later than 6 p.m. They continued proselytizing until 9 p.m., when they would return home, plan the next day’s activities, write in their journals, prepare for bed, pray, and retire at 10:30 p.m.

The standard attire that Brady wore on her mission wabutton-upn up blouse or a nice shirt tucked into long flowy skirts as well as flat shoes. She would sometimes accessorize with a belt or scarf.

One thing Brady disliked about her mission was tracting but she said that she would “absolutely, without a doubt” serve another mission if she could.

A couple mishaps that occurred on her mission was one of her companions got sick and Brady developed foot problems due to all the walking that was required on her mission.

When it came time to return home after 18 months of being away from home, Brady said she was “sad to go, but excited to return home and become human again.”

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Salt Lake businesses giving back

Story and slideshow by ABIGAIL SABIR

As consumers, we have the power to influence our community through our consumption. We can contribute to philanthropic efforts that local businesses are making, giving a purpose to our spending. This can make a difference in how we choose to consume, as well as change our perspective on spending hard earned money.  In the Salt Lake Valley there are many companies that are making noteworthy efforts to give back to both local and global charities.

Even Stevens, Cotopaxi and Stonehaven Dental are three companies that give to charity in various ways. Each company strives to make a contribution whether local, statewide or international.

Even Stevens currently has 20 locations throughout six states and for each shop opened it pairs with four different nonprofits. Sara Day, co-founder and cause director for Even Stevens, said in an email interview, “We knew we wanted to open a cool, localized sandwich shop that gave back in some way.” It first started selling sandwiches in Salt Lake City in 2014 and the downtown location at 414 E. 200 South donates to YWCA Utah, Volunteers of America, The Good Samaritan Program and Rescue Mission. Day said that as of December 2017, Even Stevens will have 80 nonprofit partners.

Each month 54 cents of each sandwich sold is put into an account for the chosen nonprofits that each location is partnered with. Those nonprofits then use the funds to buy sandwich ingredients or operational supplies, according to the cause page on the Even Stevens website. The website also provides monthly articles about its current work, and as of November 2017, 2 million sandwiches have been donated, equal to over $1 million allocated to its nonprofit partners.

With a passion for addressing the food insecurity that 1 in 8 Americans face, Day said in an email that the founders “wanted to be more than just another sandwich shop.” She also said, “I see Even Stevens growing and expanding across the entire U.S., right now we are focusing on the West Coast but want to take our product and program everywhere!”

Cotopaxi’s mission is to improve the human condition worldwide. It is an outdoor gear retail company with a location at 74 S. Main St. in Salt Lake City. Cotopaxi, according to its website, is a certified B corporation, which means it is a business that uses its force for making a positive impact on the global social, economic and environmental condition. Its products are also produced sustainably with close attention to detail and with Cotopaxi-exclusive llama fiber insulation in various products.

Loretta Beaty, who runs the impact sector and is the customer experience executive for Cotopaxi, believes it has a “good model for doing good.” Each year, Cotopaxi donates 2 percent of its annual revenue to various nonprofit organizations around the world that make an outstanding impact on humanity.

In 2016, the nonprofits that Cotopaxi donated to were located in Myanmar, Sub-Saharan Africa, India, Latin America, the Middle East and Europe. It has yet to choose all of the grantees for 2017 but the program-tailored donations will make an impact in people’s lives throughout the world based on its past achievements, highlighted on the website.

Cotopaxi’s 2016 impact report gives information on the work done. Among the reports from international grantees, it told of The Global Good Project and the Questival Adventure Race. The Global Good Project works in partnership with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to satisfy the diverse needs of refugees around Salt Lake. The Questival Adventure Race incorporates all local citizens for an adventure race based on service, teamwork, fitness and adventure.

Stonehaven Dental has also crossed national boundaries and done extensive local charity work. Dr. Eric Tobler, president of and dentist at Stonehaven Dental, and Mary Hegerman, marketing/human Resources director, discussed Stonehaven’s community involvement in an email interview. That involvement includes being a part of a national organization called Dental Care for Children as well as hosting and being a part of local humanitarian efforts.

The dentists, dental assistants, support personnel and even a University of Utah dental student have gone to Mexico for humanitarian trips with the Dental Care for Children organization. Stonehaven has been taking trips for six years but the organization holds monthly trips to Mexico, Haiti and Southern California.

With locations in Salt Lake and Utah County, Stonehaven Dental’s local humanitarian work includes the Stonehaven Smiles event. It gives free dental care to the community each May. Tobler and Hegerman said that it been going for 10 years, serving nearly 1,500 patients. They also noted the effort that each dental office makes to be involved with local school programs, and there have been scholarships given to local high school students in the past.

According to Tobler and Hegerman, the staff at Stonehaven Dental has taken over 20 international trips and have either held or participated in nearly 60 local humanitarian days. As the president of Stonehaven Dental, Tobler stressed how important giving back is to the whole Stonehaven team.  

Each of the local businesses previously mentioned has its own model for doing good, so just by buying a sandwich, a backpack, or even going to the dentist, we can each give back to the local and global community.

Stop the silence, end the violence: a spotlight on the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition

Story and gallery by RACHEL BEUS

Domestic violence is an extensive problem in the U.S., but most people may not know that the problem is even more prevalent here in Utah. In the U.S., 1 in 4 women will become a victim of domestic violence in their lifetime, while 1 in 3 women in Utah will become a victim of domestic violence. This statistic helps expose how serious of a problem this is in Utah.

The Utah Domestic Violence Coalition is an organization that raises money and allocates those funds to various shelters and organizations all across Utah to provide goods and resources to victims of domestic violence. The UDVC has a motto that summarizes what it does: advocate, collaborate and educate.

Christopher Davies, the current associate director of UDVC, has been involved with the organization for approximately two and a half years. Davies decided to join UDVC because he has a 15 -year-old daughter and he worried about the culture that surrounds women and how dangerous domestic violence is. “I wanted to help women, however I could,” Davies said.

With his background in business, most of his duties and responsibilities as the associate director pertain to logistics that keep UDVC running properly. Davies said, “I do things like grant management, administration support, work with the board of directors, make sure we are stable and have permits.” He likes to refer to the UDVC team as the “watchdogs” when it comes to domestic violence.

Samantha Candland is the volunteer coordinator at the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition. She has been involved with UDVC for almost two years. Her primary responsibility is to manage the LINKLine, which is a 24/7 anonymous and confidential crisis hotline where volunteers answer calls to help anyone experiencing domestic violence. All volunteers participate in an extensive 32-hour training before they take any calls because they are dealing with dangerous and highly sensitive situations. Volunteers help callers with everything from information, safety planning, advocacy and referrals to services.

Candland said UDVC is an “umbrella organization” that works to provide information to the community and provide referrals to services that any victims may need. Candland said there are three levels that organizations and services fall into the micro level, mezzo, level and macro level. The UDVC falls under the macro category because it works at the state level.

The Utah Domestic Violence Coalition doesn’t make all of these important strides all by itself. One of its biggest tactics toward fighting domestic violence is collaboration. The UDVC works with a variety of different organizations to help support and aid survivors of domestic violence and abuse. UDVC collaborates with a variety of other organizations including Soroptimist Women’s Organization, Allstate Insurance and Alpha Chi Omega women’s fraternity. Davies said Alpha Chi Omega Beta Nu chapter is one of the UDVC’s biggest private supporters and collaborators.

Mackenzie Turner is the current vice president of philanthropy for Alpha Chi Omega. She works very closely with the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition and acts as a liaison between AXO and UDVC. With her position, Turner is in charge of organizing and running Alpha Chi Omega’s philanthropy events that raise money to help fund UDVC. “We put on events like our walk-a-mile in their shoes and doughnut let love hurt campaign events,” Turner said. She mentioned the Purple Ribbon Benefit AXO put on in the spring of 2017 that raised over $13,000 for the UDVC.

Turner said she and Alpha Chi Omega love working with UDVC and Candland, Davies and the whole UDVC team because they are hardworking and kind. She said that all of the women of Alpha Chi Omega are very passionate about the awareness and prevention of domestic violence and are glad that UDVC is just as enthusiastic as they are about what they believe to be a very important and crucial cause.

Davies said the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition’s mission is “to make domestic violence in Utah intolerable.” If we do not make it clear that domestic violence is not only illegal but also unacceptable and educate our community and really the whole world, then it becomes an obstacle that we cannot conquer. The UDVC knows that this problem with domestic violence will not go away overnight and that as far as it has come, there is still farther to go. But, by continuing education on this topic and spreading awareness, it will continue its goal of preventing future cases of domestic violence and abuse.

If you would like to volunteer to help UDVC, you may complete an online volunteer application.

 

 

Sugarhouse slam poets: breaking stereotypes and dropping mics

Story and gallery by SAMANTHA SHAW

Watchtower Cafe sits tucked between a tattoo shop and an art supply store on State Street in Salt Lake City. On the second Thursday of every month, slam poets from all over the city gather to share their art at Sugar Slam.

Slam poetry in its official form has been around since the 1980s and individuals craft poems for the purpose of being performed. Dorothy McGinnis, 19, defined slam poetry as “poetry, but for the masses.” She also described the art as removing poetry from the academic space.

McGinnis was first introduced to the idea of slam poetry by a junior high school English teacher in Salt Lake City who showed her YouTube videos of performances. At age 13, she began going to open mic nights.

In high school, her theater teacher was a nationally acclaimed poet and encouraged her to go to slams and expand her horizons. It was then that she performed her first slam poem and she’s been slamming ever since. McGinnis now serves her community as president of the Wasatch Wordsmiths, the nonprofit organization that holds the monthly Sugar Slam.

In October, McGinnis returned from representing the Sugarhouse neighborhood at the 2017 Individual World Poetry Slam (IWPS) in Washington, where she performed her favorite poem, “Pompeii (In Which I am Mt. Vesuvius).”

In comparing the national slam poetry scene to the one in Salt Lake City, McGinnis said, “We’re very very white.” Although the diversity of the community is something poets love about slam poetry, the demographics of Utah are not in their favor. However, McGinnis went to the IWPS Nationals on an all-woman team, which is rare on a national scale and a first-time occurrence in Utah.

While much of the Utah slam poetry scene is white, one will still see plenty of diversity at the monthly slams. Every gender, sexual orientation, age and socioeconomic class can be found ordering a classic latte or a Watchtower Café special like the Butterbeer. Competing poets and onlookers alike all squeeze around heavy wooden tables, surrounded by blackboards with doodles of video game and anime characters such as Princess Peach, the Avatar and Kirby.

Another prominent local poet is Bryce Wilson, 21, a student at Salt Lake Community College. He came in second place in the Sugar Slam that was held Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017. He started slamming after a breakup when a friend advised him to write down all the things he hated about the relationship. Wilson performed that list at his first poetry slam in Salt Lake City and took first place.

A typical slam starts with an open mic, where anyone can get up and perform anything. “There’s always one open mic that’s really good and you wonder why they aren’t competing,” Wilson said. Every slam has a host, who introduces the poets and keeps the audience engaged.

After the open mic, the host selects five people from the audience to judge the slam. The host attempts to choose judges have never attended a slam before, and they cannot know any of the competing poets.

Before the official slam begins, the audience calls for the “sacrificial poet.” Wilson’s favorite part of a slam, the sacrifice performs a poem for the newly appointed judges so that the competitors can, in Wilson’s words, “gauge the five random weirdos who are going to be giving these ambiguous points.”

After the sacrifice, the first round of the slam begins. Wilson said most poets will kick off the competition with a funny poem in round one and move on to a darker, more introspective piece in round two. In round three, anything goes! Some poets are eliminated after each round, based on the subjective scores. After the scores are announced, the host reminds everyone to “applaud the performer, not the score.” The final round’s scores determine first, second and third place. The only prizes are “bragging rights and experience,” Wilson said.

Both McGinnis and Wilson credit slam poetry with giving them more confidence, a better sense of self and connections within the community that will last a lifetime. They encourage anyone who is interested to get involved, whether that be as an audience member or as a poet.

Two regular events are held in the Salt Lake City area. The Sugar Slam takes place on the second Thursday of every month at Watchtower Café at 1588 State St. while the Salt City Slam is held at Even Stevens on 400 East and 200 South every last Monday. The Wasatch Wordsmiths keep the community updated on events and featured poets via their Facebook page.

Developing mindful awareness as a proactive approach to ending the stigma on mental illness

Story and gallery by SAVANNAH BERNARDO

As humans, each one of us is unique.

Just as our bones grow, our thoughts grow. Just as our bones develop muscles, our thoughts develop emotions. And just as our bones and muscles have developed the structure that our body is today, our thoughts and emotions have developed the structure that our mind is today.

We all have a different design that makes up how we see ourselves and how other people see us. But this is only half of what makes us unique.

The distinct way that each mind reacts and responds to different circumstances is what makes each human an individual. Each thought and emotion created is a response to a variety of different circumstances that we experience. However, the difference is how each mind will react.

Our perceptions and reactions to other people’s emotions is the reason for the stigma surrounding mental illness. Because we are unique, we all have a different story comprised of thoughts and emotions. But how often are we mindful of the details in this story? Once they come into awareness, we as a society become mindful. And only when we are mindful will we be able to stop reacting — and start being proactive.

ZOOMED OUT  

Stigma occurs when we are unsure of how to react. Instead of trying to empathize, our lack of understanding causes a shameful judgement. This is stigma. And its mark of disgrace is left on those diagnosed with a mental illness. For many generations, stereotypes and misconceptions have caused stigmatization against people who have been diagnosed. But if we are all humans with these unique minds, why is our first reaction to judge what we don’t understand?

Mayumi Shill, 22, programs coordinator at National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), describes this as a “zoomed out view.” While zoomed out, many people diagnosed with a mental illness are blamed for their disorder. There is a common curiosity as to why someone cannot just choose to be happy. This concern implies that they must be doing something wrong, and that there is a simple fix to the problem.

Just be happy.

If only life were that simple. However, simplicity does not always amount to happiness. Along with finding happiness comes facing adversity.

Andrew Smith, 35, a psychologist at the University of Utah Hospital, said, “Many people will experience some kind of mental difficulty in their life span.” But this is normal. This is what makes us human. “We’re all in this human experience together,” he said, and it’s important that we “help normalize that experience, together.”

EVERYONE HAS A STORY

That human experience is our story. Shill, with NAMI, said, “Everyone has a story, everyone has a different journey, and just because you don’t struggle with a mental illness, doesn’t mean that the person next to you isn’t.”

So let’s zoom in. If we take a moment to listen to the details, we will be able to hear the real story. And most importantly — accept it.

Samantha Shaw, 20, a junior at the U, said sharing her story was the best decision she ever made. Shaw was diagnosed with depression during her sophomore year of high school, but still had the thought, “This can’t be real. I can just choose to be happy.”

Even her boyfriend at the time advised her to smile more and be grateful she didn’t have something more serious like cancer.

Shaw said she felt like she had become trapped inside of her mental illness. “I felt very defined by it,” she said.

But little did she know, this was just part of her human experience.

After high school, she found her outlet in creativity and consistently wrote down her thoughts and emotions through poetry and short stories.

Her mindful awareness allowed her to accept her emotional state, rather than react to it. She was being proactive. This acceptance led her to talk about her mental illness more openly and no longer be defined by it.

PROACTIVE RATHER THAN REACTIVE

The Counseling Center at the U, supports this proactive approach. Staff are actively educating students through presentations on campus about their services. Lauren Weitzman, director of the University Counseling Center, said their underlying goal is to normalize everybody’s mental health.

It also provides an important service called the Mindfulness Center. Free workshops are held on the third floor of the student services building. Students may drop in for meditation to learn mindfulness strategies to help manage stress and anxiety and check in with their overall mental health. “Everybody can benefit from it, and it can help everyone’s well-being,” Weitzman said.

And while being on campus is convenient for students, the Counseling Center also refers people to a variety of additional resources around the Wasatch Front, including NAMI.

NAMI is a national nonprofit advocacy organization that provides help and hope in relation to mental illness. It has a range of peer taught support, education and school programs that are available to the public.

Along with these programs, it offers everybody the chance to stand together and pledge to be stigma free.

By taking this pledge we are joining together as a society.

We are recognizing that we are all humans with a unique story. But as Andrew Smith, the psychologist at the University Hospital, said, we are in that human experience together. And as we bring awareness and acceptance into our mentality, we are practicing mindfulness. Only when we are mindful, Smith said, will we be able to “do a better job at supporting each other.”

Retired Professor’s Year in Iraq, Sheds new light on Unpopular War

Story by ELLEN LEWIS

Post 9-11, Americans perceived the war in Iraq as generally unsuccessful, and left our nation with a negative opinion about our country’s role in Iraq, but what if we had been there?  Would our opinion change if we really understood?

Dr. James Mayfield is a retired political science professor at the University of Utah and author of “The Enigma of Iraq”. He specializes in local government systems, specifically in Muslim countries, and has spent the last 30 years focusing on training mayors, bureaucrats and other local government officials for better local government planning across the Middle East. Because of his expertise he was selected by the Bush Administration to spend a year in Iraq.

Dr. Mayfield arrived two weeks after the war ended, in May of 2003, his task: to prepare a country in shambles for their first democratic elections after the treacherous regime of Saddam Hussein.

Contrary to the violent, chaotic images Americans were exposed to over and over again in the press, Dr. Mayfield’s headquarters were in a peaceful, picturesque village called Hillah. The site of the ancient city of Babylon, Hillah is located on the bank of the Euphrates River in the South Central region of Iraq.

“I traveled all over Iraq in the countryside, never was shot at, never saw any violence…(the Iraqis) were so happy we were there,” Dr. Mayfield explained, out of the 1500 districts in the whole country, 95 percent of the violence was occurring in less than 10 percent of these districts, mainly in Baghdad.

Of the 14 providences in Iraq, Dr. Mayfield was in charge of five and immediately he set to work to train Iraqi staff and establish a functioning local government. He had a staff of 40 Americans and about 150 Iraqis, all of whom had advanced degrees and half spoke English well.

Once Dr. Mayfield and his staff had divided their providences into voting districts and elected counsels, who then selected members of state parliament­—his next focus was to help local bureaucrats make decisions. They were accustomed to being told what to do, so it was an entirely a new way of thinking Dr. Mayfield said, “That was really a big challenge, they were waiting for Baghdad to tell them what to do.”

The top leaders of Hussein’s regime were let go, but the U.S. government hired many officials who had previously worked under Saddam, they spoke English well and were very competent. The fact that they could communicate was a huge factor; Dr. Mayfield was “saddened by the Americans in Baghdad, where 95 percent of them didn’t speak Arabic,” he gained the trust of many Iraqi’s because he could speak Iraqi-Arabic well, and he understood the Muslim culture.

The third and most challenging task for Dr. Mayfield: Developing and implementing a budget, “this is where we got into trouble because the American leaders in Baghdad felt like the decisions should be made in Baghdad. Terrible mistake,” Dr. Mayfield said.

An official budget was introduced on July 7, 2003 of which 65 percent was designated for Baghdad and only 35 percent to the providences. Dr. Mayfield remarked, that only 22 percent of the population lives in Baghdad and the remaining 78 percent live in the outside providences. By Aug. 7,Dr. Mayfield’s providences hadn’t received any of the funds, and even by the first of September only 10 percent of the designated 35 percent was dispersed.

“That budget problem in my opinion was one of the reasons for the back lash against Americans,” said Dr. Mayfield, the people appreciated that the Americans were there, but the problem was they were relying on the local government. Many of the local ministries still held ties to Saddam, and the Sunni were taking over again because they were whom the Americans were using.

Dr. Mayfield explained the different types of Muslims within Iraq, crucial to understanding the Iraqi people and their attitude towards Americans, as well as our attitudes towards Muslims and the Middle East in general. Like Christians there are different types of Muslims, each distinct.

Of the 25 million Iraqis, 65 percent are Shia Muslims, although they make up the majority of the country, the Sunni Muslims have traditionally had all control, even though they are a mere 15 percent of the population. Saddam Hussein, a Sunni Muslim, only gave positions of power to other Sunnis during his Regime. He persecuted the Shia, as well as the Curds, another Muslim culture in the North that make up the last 15 percent of the population.

The Shia were “ecstatic” when the Americans came, according to Dr. Mayfield they couldn’t wait to destroy the regime and have a new sense of freedom. “What most Americans don’t realize is that the people who were killing Americans were not Shia.” Dr. Mayfield said, “Most of the killing came from the Sunnis.”

The misconception in the states that the whole country of Iraq was anti-American was due to the Sunni extremists, mostly pro Saddam Hussein, who really wanted the American effort to fail so they could take over again.

As Americans, we don’t understand the difference between the Sunni and Shia, because of this we assumed that the Iraqi’s were against the proposed constitution because the Americans imposed it. This wasn’t the case.

Dr. Mayfield explained that many Americans don’t realize that although the majority of Iraqis are Shia Muslims, the rest of the Muslim countries are Sunni. In fact the only other country that has Shia as a majority is Iran. As a result many foreign Sunni extremist were coming across the border killing Shia Muslims and threatening them not to vote for the constitution, in fear they would lose power to the Americans.

Two years later and the constitution passed in 2005.  Although Dr. Mayfield was not there at the time he explained, with a glow of pride, that 97 percent of the people in his town voted in favor of the constitution. Not only that, but of the expected 10 percent turnout: 83 percent of the Curds voted in favor, 70 percent of the Shia, and even 40 percent of the Sunni­­­—all in favor of the constitution.

Today Dr. Mayfield has “ great hope for Iraq,” it has the second largest oil field next to Saudi Arabia, and the rich agriculture which it lacks.  At 76, he is still active in his NGO, Choice Humanitarian. The organization he started 30 years ago, aims to train village leaders how to recognize and identify need, then learn how to network and leverage in order to fulfill those needs.

Dr. Mayfield offers a perspective on the situation in Iraq, which the majority of Americans are blind to, his compassion for the Iraqis and Muslim culture brings new light to the importance of understanding a culture and its people before making stereotypes and generalizations.

“Shakeout” Attempts to Prepare Utahns for the Worst

by Mark LeBaron

SALT LAKE CITY- “The Great Utah ShakeOut” was not an ice cream eating festival. It wasn’t the latest dance craze either. It was a statewide earthquake drill that was held on April 17.

Many people participated throughout the state at exactly 10:15 am at schools, work and home by dropping under the nearest table or desk and holding on for one minute. Others evacuated their building following the drill.

Bradley Hunsaker, an atmospheric science major at the University of Utah participated, but didn’t think it was worth the effort to have the drill.

“I didn’t really see much point to the drill. It seemed like it was just to set a record for people participating.” Said Hunsaker.

Some students were aware of the test, but didn’t participate.

“Our class was scheduled to take a test. We had been told to ignore any firefighters and just take the test. The rest of the department left, so we were alone in our little room,” said Joe Bolke, a material science and engineering major at the University of Utah. “Nobody got under the desk, or went to rendezvous.”

Joe had been receiving the emails leading up to the drill, however, and felt prepared in case a real earthquake occurred.

Jared Evans, who works in downtown Salt Lake, didn’t participate in the drill either, but only because his work didn’t push to do it.

“I didn’t even know about it until right before it took place. I saw it on KSL and that is when I found out it was happening.” Said Jared. “The building we work in is really old, so it would actually be beneficial to have a fire and earthquake drill to make sure we make it out ok.”

Most of Utah’s residents live along the Wasatch Fault, which runs from the bottom to the top of Utah. According to the Utah Geological Survey, an earthquake generated from the fault is 50 to 100 years overdue. They estimate that the fault shifts every 350-400 years, and the last earthquake was 500 years ago.

According to the Utah Seismic Safety Commission, if a magnitude 7.5 earthquake occurred, approximately 7,600 people would die and $18 billion would be lost to physical damage and loss of jobs and economic activity.

Preparation for an earthquake is key to surviving potentially devastating damage. Water, food and gas may be unavailable, as well as cell phones, Internet and electricity.

Be Ready Utah, the State’s emergency preparedness campaign, urges all households to have non-perishable food storage of at least three days per person, in case of emergency. Other things to prepare are implementing an evacuation plan and having an emergency kit. Information for these and other useful tips can be found at http://beready.utah.gov/beready/index.html.

The ShakeOut has been held at other places around the United States and the World, like California, British Columbia, Canada and Tokyo, Japan. The next shakeout is set to occur on September 26th of this year, in New Zealand. To find out more information on the shakeouts, visit http://www.shakeout.org.

The new role of college students

Why they may be the answer to many of the world’s problems

By Rebekah-Anne Gebler

SALT LAKE CITY—“The Story of Stuff” video was created by one person, Annie Leonard, and a small team of co-workers in 2007.

Almost five years and more than 15 million views later, that video “is one of the most watched environmental-themed online movies of all time,” according to the organization’s website, http://www.storyofstuff.com. With its easy-to-follow cartoons and understandable lingo, this is understandable.

Leonard’s efforts were extensive but those by college students don’t need to be.

Why college students’ actions are so integral to helping the planet was the topic of discussion at a lecture conducted by library accountant Carrie Brooks on February 29. The discussion was about a different video by Leonard called “The Story of Broke” and was part of the Green Bag Lunch Series held at the University of Utah’s Marriott Library.

“The Story of Broke” talked about where the majority of the money in the economy is going versus where it could be going.

Leonard said that instead of spending money on fixing problems, that money should be spent on preventing them.

The prime models for this need of priority changes are college students. Many are pressured daily as to where—and on what—they will spend their money.

“It’s just frustrating…There’s money to do it. It’s just a change of priorities,” said attendee David Maxfield, a senior library specialist.

Maxfield refers to the struggle that college students face daily. With consistently new technology from iPads to crackle nail polish, college students are enticed into spending money on things they want while the economy is begging for that money to be spent on preventing problems.

That’s why Brooks said that education is the main focus of lectures like the Green Bag Lunch Series.

“So many people have no idea why or what or how these things happen,” said Brooks, referring to today’s economic problems.

College students are also the influencers in this plan as well. Many students are at a point in their lives where they have to make their own decisions for the first time.

According to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, 30.4 million 18- to 24-year-olds were enrolled in a 2- or 4-year college or university as of 2009.

Even if only 10 percent of those students were living outside of their parents’ home, that is still more than 3 million people who are flying solo in making their own decisions since leaving the nest.

The University of Utah’s Marriott Library recognizes that so many students are at a crossroad with their decisions. They act as the center and the source of sustainability for the campus, said Brooks.

Efforts like “The Paper Project”—a campus-wide recycle effort—and “Just Fill It!” –a water bottle-filling station project—were both started at the Marriott Library and were funded by Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund (or SCIF) Grants to aid students in their sustainability efforts.

The faculty and students involved in the campus’ sustainability efforts have created simple ways to help change many students’ habits.

Students can find resources on simple changes they can make in their lives, what the U. is doing to “Go Green,” and even give suggestions for new ideas to further these efforts on the “Greening the Marriott Library” webpage at http://www.lib.utah.edu/info/green/.

College students may feel pressured by the many different options of where to spend their time and money, but through simple actions, they can be the solution for tomorrow’s problems.

Bell Ringers Brave Cold For Donations

Story By: Kade Sybrowsky

Armed with nothing but a tiny bell and a red tin kettle. Salvation Army bell ringers are out in full force again this holiday season. Receiving spare change donations anywhere from grocery stores to malls.

Bell ringers got their start in the United States with Captain Joseph McFee back in 1891. Mcfee wanted to raise money to feed the poor in San Francisco. He put out a red kettle and a sign that said, “Keep the Pot Boiling.” McFee raised enough money to feed the poor that Christmas and the holiday tradition was born.

Drew Jones, Janet Harris and Malcom Wells are bell ringers that will be out ringing this holiday season. Braving the wintery and cold conditions to receive valuable donations for the Salvation Army.

Jones, 43, originally from California, bell rings in front of the Harmons grocery store on thirteenth east near thirty-third south. This will be his third holiday season of bell ringing in Utah.

“I do it because I enjoy being around people,” Jones Said. “I just wanted to help out in some way…it’s not a lot but still its something.”

For the most part Jones enjoys his job. He doesn’t like to be out in the cold but believes that the cause is worth his body being frozen for hours on end.

“Its freaking cold…(but) seeing the best in people even though its just spare change can mean a lot to other people,” said Jones.

One of those people was Janet Harris, in her fourth year as a bell ringer. She currently bell rings in front of a Wal-Mart store in Murray. She has received first hand the benefits of what these donations can do for someone and that is why she bell rings.

“The salvation army helped me out so I just wanted to help them out,” Harris said. “Everyone likes to give back especially this time of year so it’s nice.”

Harris does not plan on being a bell ringer for life but has enjoyed her time doing it. She like Jones is not particularly fond of the cold because her hands get so cold but doesn’t mind to sacrifice for the cause

After ten years of bell ringing Wells, 53, likes to think he is use to the cold by now. He currently bell rings in front of the Smiths Marketplace in Millcreek.

“I have done it for about ten years and every year I say I am not going to do it the next, but I always end up back here,” Wells said.

Wells, unlike the other bell ringers, gets paid for his duties of bell ringing. Although most bell ringers are volunteers there are some that get paid right around minimum wage.

“I got nothing else to do. I thought I might as well make a little more Christmas money for my family,” said wells.

Whether getting paid or just volunteering, Wells, Harris and Jones are all in aggreeance that seeing the holiday spirit and the good in people makes the job worth doing.

“I love seeing the spirit of the season in everyone,” said wells

The Salvation Army is hoping to capture this spirit during the holiday season by receiving donations.  To donate simply put spare change in the red kettle donate where bell ringers are located or visit http://www.salvationarmyutah.org/ to fill the online red kettle or to volunteer time.