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Silvia Ramirez – Contributing Writer

Paper made out of soldiers’ uniforms? As part of the Writers@Drew, the Forest presented two U.S. Marine veterans and artists, Phil Klay and David Keefe in a event to which about 40 Drew students attended. Funded by the Casement Fund and the Andrew W. Mellon Grant, the event was a collaboration between the English and art departments. It dealt with war and the stigma surrounding veterans who are supposed to be silent about their experiences.

Keefe served in Iraq from 2006-2007 and holds an MFA in Painting from Montclair State University. He is the director of Combat Paper NJ, an organization that helps veterans turn their experiences of war into art. The process begins by cutting up their uniforms, using a paper beater to pulp the pieces and turning them into paper. From there, the paper is used to make prints that speak of each veteran’s experience. When discussing the importance of the organization in teaching veterans how to tell their stories, Keefe said, “Veterans have stories to tell. This paper functions as a platform for us to create. We want to create that dialogue in American culture and for veterans to tell us the truth about war.” He also discussed the lack of support for veterans from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Combat Paper provides that support by helping veterans tell the stories they haven’t told before.

THEGUARDIAN.COM | Author and veteran Phil Klay (right) read from his National Book Award-winning collection of short stories “Redeployment.”

THEGUARDIAN.COM | Author and veteran Phil Klay (right) read from his National Book Award-winning collection of short stories “Redeployment.”

Klay is a writer and holds an MFA from Hunter College. He served in Iraq from 2007 to 2008 as Public Affairs officer. “Redeployment”, his most recent book, which is a collection of short stories, won the National Book Award for Fiction this week. The first story he read dealt with a group of nine Marines who were in charge of a machine gun. After a day of activity, they sat around a table debating about how many people they had killed and how they were supposed to feel about it. The second story dealt with the experience of two Marines who worked in Mortuary Affairs, who are in charge of the retrieval, identification, transportation and burial of soldiers who died in combat. The main theme explored the way stories can be told and the effect it has on the soldiers who tell them.

During the Q&A session students and professors alike asked about the process of turning their stories into art and about the best way to address their art to civilians. Both artists agreed that writing and paper making, respectively, helps them make sense of their experience and the only way to share it is to be as rigorous and honest as possible.

Associate Professor of English and Director of the Writers@Drew Reading Series, Patrick Phillips stated, “I think students can get many things from it. Beside entertainment, I think students can get inspired to write and do art. But also, living in 2014, it has become harder to listen and slow down and pay attention to one thing for 60 minutes.”

Regarding the event, Julia Cornell (’18) said, “It’s important that veterans share their stories for civilians. America has been at war for 10 years. It’s part of our culture and it has an impact on society. A lot of people don’t know what’s going on with the war. Educating them is important.” Anastasia Kolovani (’16) added, “I thought the reading was very touching and emotionally intense. I really liked hearing Phil Klay read. I thought his stories were very interesting and honest.” After the event, the artists stayed to talk more about their respective work and sign books.

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Jill Griffith – Contributing Writer

Phallic fun and victorious vagina cupcakes were all the rage at WoCo: A Feminist House’s 90’s Sweater Party last Saturday night. This dry party featured fabulous confections centered around desensitizing attendees to female and male genitilia, while also providing a space for students from all backgrounds on campus to get together and converse.

Bonnie Hullings (’15), house assistant of WoCo and co-chair of Drew’s Feminist Union, combined her love of the late 90’s with an experience she had while studying in London as the inspiration for the event.

On the sweater theme she mentioned her admiration for the show late 90’s show “Felicity”, “they wear a lot of cozy sweaters on that show, which has inspired my purchasing numerous sweaters. And this turtleneck is representative of the inspiration behind this event theme.” She added, “I went to the Feminist Library in London and I went to an event called Feminism, Farming and the Politics of Food, where they had a vagina cupcake decorating session. This is a very WoCo version of that event.”

Jill Griffith - Contributing Writer | A tray full of cookies and cupcakes decorated with frosting penises by students who attended WoCo’s party.

Jill Griffith – Contributing Writer | A tray full of cookies and cupcakes decorated with frosting penises by students who attended WoCo’s party.

Centered around a small table in the kitchen, students challenged themselves to create phallic and vagina art which was a lot more difficult than one might think. Students used sprinkles, fondant and different types of icing to make their masterpieces.

Of the event, WoCo resident Dallas Haines (’15) said, “I think this is just really awesome. Sexual reproductive organs are censored in our society. The fact that we can provide a place to talk about them is great!”  `

On the theme house, he added, “We’re known around campus as a very safe space for people. We have a 24/7 open door policy and we’re a very empathetic house.” Indeed, everyone who walked into the house was welcomed by everyone in the room and even students who were not residents of WoCo were envious of its small community-within-a-community atmosphere.

Nicole Arias (’17) said, “I would live in WoCo if I wasn’t already living in Asia Tree!” Echoing a similar sentiment, Melanie Calantropio (’17) added that she too would move into WoCo. She said, “I would for personal reasons. It’s a very safe place for people who have different outlooks and experiences. Not a lot of people come from homes where they feel welcomed and this is a new home.”

The event shed light on body-positivity and was a great way for students unfamiliar with the WoCo house to stop by and have a look. This theme house is a great resource for any students interested in equality and women’s issues. Located in Eberhard Hall 23/24, WoCo: A Feminist House is has a round-the-clock open door policy and is definitely a notable theme house on campus to explore.

 

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Allison Estremera 

 

1.) EC- Located between the Student Government and Acorn offices, this hidden gem provides a great selection without fear of your favorite snacks or drinks being out of stock.

2.) DoYo- With its wide range of options, this location offers nothing but the best in delicious junk food and sodas for the struggling artist.

3.) Seminary Hall- Accepting both Drew cards and cash, this machine is ideal for the Drewid short on money. Offers both snacks and drinks.

4.) Library- Though only dispensing drinks, this vending machine is perfect for those times when the Library becomes a second home, whether it be during exam time or a late-night research session.

5.) Tolley/Brown-  This machine is key to surviving Freshman year, providing old favorites in food and drinks before new Drewids branch out to explore the Forest.

 

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McKenzie Chapman – Contributing Writer

Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated new film, “Interstellar,” is a wild ride, but not without its flaws. The film gives a new perspective on a future of Earth that has roots in reality. In “Interstellar,” humans have destroyed all natural resources and are suffocating from pollution, a situation that is very close to our reality.

 

Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is an ex-engineer and pilot-turned-farmer to help with the lack of food. Cooper is approached by an underground and diminished NASA to attempt a mission into a wormhole to explore new potential planets for human occupation. He leaves his daughter, Murphy (played as a child by Mackenzie Foy and an adult by Jessica Chastain), behind and causes a rift in their relationship. She becomes an engineer in his stead and tries to find a solution from Earth while he explores other galaxies.

 

Although the science may seem far-fetched, Nolan meticulously researched the theories behind the film. Science isn’t where the film falls flat. The way that Nolan visualizes the wormhole and the black hole depicted in the film are gorgeous. However, much of the rest of the film’s cinematography is sloppy. Nolan’s films are usually stunning, and while “Interstellar” has its moments, a lot of the cinematography is lazy and repetitive.

 

Another glaring misstep from someone usually considered a genius was the soundtrack by Hans Zimmer. Zimmer almost never fails to create an emotionally moving score. However, as the same repetitive notes drone on throughout the film, they become more and more grating. The soundtrack seems to mimic a ticking clock, which makes sense because the concept of time is a main theme throughout the film. One of the scientific aspects of the film is the theory of relativity; so when Cooper travels through space time moves slower for him, making Murphy surpass him in age as she stays on Earth. Despite the intention for the soundtrack to highlight the importance of time, the repetition of the notes doesn’t build tension, but merely manages to annoy.

 

Nolan seemed to think his audience needed in-depth explanations of everything. The science is complicated and explanations can be forgiven there. However, when he includes lengthy speeches about the power of love, Nolan fails his audience.

 

Film is about visual storytelling, and a filmmaker as great as Nolan should know that the audience can read visual cues. If there had been more focus on making visual meaning instead of constructing long-winded explanations, then maybe the cinematography could have been more compelling.

 

Despite these criticisms, “Interstellar” is actually pretty fun. The star-studded cast does a fantastic job and their gripping performances almost make up for the film’s other flaws. It takes the space exploration film to new heights and addresses some real life issues. Nolan explores concepts and theories unlike any other science-fiction film, while also addressing the pollution that plagues Earth. The suggestion that the solution to global crisis lies in science and technology, including space exploration, is something serious to be considered.

This film is a disappointment from Nolan, but it is successful in portraying a new and believable version of the future and it’s definitely worth seeing. Although audiences expected more from such an acclaimed director, “Interstellar” is a good first draft that hopefully inspires more sci-fi films to push the envelope.

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 Caitlin Phillips - Contributing Writer

A lot more than flowers will be blooming this spring at Drew. Kate Fisher’s (’15) senior project is a community garden that students can help maintain. Amy Sugerman, assistant director of the Center for Civic Engagement, said about the garden, “In recent past years, the members have invited student groups to plant in one or more of the plots, but too often they would not be used to their full potential, and sometimes they’d be left untended to become overgrown with weeds.” However, after setting up some meetings for Fisher, the garden project was on its way to make a change. Fisher commented on the project, “I, with the support of Tina Notas of Drew’s office of sustainability, was able to convince Jim Burchell to let me tend a garden plot that had gone into disrepair.” Notas assisted Fisher with the garden by sending her “information about organic gardening methods and techniques.”

Burchell maintained the Copper Beech Community Garden for a number of years. Sugerman noted that Burchell was “a humanitarian in his own right” as well as a “guiding force behind the garden.” Notas greatly assisted in the “planning and execution of the Copper Beech Community Garden, which is now named the Jim Burchell Community Garden, after the sudden passing of Burchell in early April of this year.”

Fisher’s project helped CLA students as well as the surrounding community by having the plants grown in the Community Garden go to Homeless Solutions for the event  “From Drew to Dinner,” hosted by Earth House. Fisher said, “this past growing season we grew kale, spinach, butternut squash, green beans, peppermint, basil, lemon thyme, zinnias, cherry tomatoes, sunflowers and lettuce.” Notas said of the garden so far, “It was quite bountiful this past summer growing season with tomatoes, basil and even flowers.”

“From Drew to Dinner,” held on Nov. 6, fed 68 residents of Homeless Solutions. For the project’s contributions to the community and Drew, Fisher received a mini-grant through the Andrew W. Mellon’s Arts and the Common Good initiative, as well as a $100 donation from Madison Whole Foods. According to Fisher, “Committing to reviving both the garden plots and the student commitment to the Copper Beech Drew University Garden, the Andrew W. Mellon Grant was able to fund the purchase of a communal gardening shed and gardening implements used by all of the garden plots within the community garden.”

Sugerman said of the importance of the project, “It brings community members together in the pursuit of something very basic–using our combined skills and efforts to help grow our own sustaining food. As an institution of higher education, we have responsibilities to help our local communities, similar to the support provided by local organizations such as churches and community groups.”

Fisher noted that through “meetings with the Drew Environmental Action League, Students For Sustainable Foods, Ecological Representatives and Drew University’s Earth House, she was able to create an interested body of future gardeners. Lawn signs and yarn bomb advertising (a type of street art that uses yarn fibers rather than paint or chalk) directed onlookers to Thursday garden volunteering and the garden plot’s Facebook page.”

COURTESY OF AMY SUGERMAN | Walk into the arboretum behind the Simon Forum and Young Field to find the Jim Burchell Community Garden.

COURTESY OF AMY SUGERMAN | Walk into the arboretum behind the Simon Forum and Young Field to find the Jim Burchell Community Garden.

As of now, Fisher’s senior project is finished, but she continues to use her Mellon mini-grant to help “influence art and the common good.” Fisher is preparing her garden for the spring, when volunteers can help maintain it. During that time, Sugerman added, Fisher will be “working with the students to plant cool weather crops like lettuce, kale and carrots, and also plan for the summer plantings. Gardening has a real rhythm to it, and Kate will do what needs to be done to continue its success and harvests long after she graduates in May.”

As the garden continues, Fisher hopes it becomes more well-known in campus life. She said, “I hope my initiative can expand the interest of the Drew community and continue leadership after I have graduated.”  Additionally, Sugerman noted, “I know Kate personally–she’s one of my Civic Scholars–and believed in her intention and commitment to make the most of the garden plot.”

Fisher plans to let her volunteers take over the garden in the spring, feeling that it was a good chance for her to work on her advising skills. Fisher said, “We are always looking for help if anyone is interested!” For those that are, contact Earth House at Drewuearthhouse@gmail.com.

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