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Posts Tagged ‘colorado’

5becce96818cc.image_Photo: Dani Hemmat
The elongated rocks seen above are called lithophones and are used to make xylophone-like music. Found in Colorado as well as other parts of the world, they are 6,000 years old.

Do you sometimes imagine being a person in a completely different period of history? What would it feel like? One thing I’m pretty sure of: you would behave has if your time period was the only one.

But today, let’s imagine living 6,000 years ago, before the European invasion, in what is now Colorado. Let’s imagine having an urge to make music.

Dani Hemmat writes at the Left Hand Valley Courier, “Colorado has rocks that, well, rock. They are called lithophones, and a local archaeologist who first came across these strangely shaped stones 40 years ago is finally sharing their musical story.

“Longmont archaeologist Marilyn Martorano first laid eyes on the long, baguette-shaped rocks almost four decades ago, as a volunteer at what is now Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in southern Colorado.

“The clearly hand-shaped stones, which had been discovered in the area, were housed in the on-site museum when Martorano first saw them. They were a strange set of artifacts for which no one had yet determined a use. Martorano put them back into their drawer, assuming that someday someone would figure out their purpose.

“Thirty years later, Martorano borrowed the rocks from the museum to study. While many had postulated that the rocks were tools for grinding, the absence of typical marks led Martorano away from that theory. She studied for three years, without success.

“The day before she was to return the rocks to the museum, a friend sent her a video that showed a collection of stones from Paris — stones that looked exactly like those she’d been studying. The rocks, musical stones classified as lithophones, had been found all over the world, but never in Colorado. After watching the video, Martorano started tapping the mysterious stones, and their purpose was suddenly clear. …

“ ‘The rock is very dense, usually volcanic, granite or basalt. In order to be shaped, it can’t be hit too hard or too soft,’ Martorano said.

“She presented some of her findings and artifacts during her open-to-the-public presentation on Nov. 8 at Front Range Community College (FRCC). FRCC instructor and Niwot musician Michael DeLalla had heard about Martorano’s work on public radio, and reached out to her. …

“Martorano demonstrated the different tones achieved by hitting the lithophones with wood, antler and bone. The lithophones produce sounds ranging from the sound of tapping on a crystal glass, to a wooden marimba, to a xylophone.

“ ‘Out of the 22 artifacts we studied, we got a minimum of 57 notes out of them. That’s at least two different notes from each stone,’ Martorano said. …

“While most of the stones Martorano has studied have come from the San Luis Valley area, lithophones have been found in the eastern plains of Colorado and near Salida as well. One Colorado percussionist, Jeff Shook, has found several lithophones while digging post holes.”

More here.

 

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Photo: Helen H. Richardson/Denver Post
Denver Performing Arts Complex in 2017. The creative economy in Colorado accounted for 4.3 percent of the state’s gross domestic product in 2015, the most recent year for which data are available.

It can’t be stated too many times that the arts are often an important driver of local economies — and a reason for states and municipalities to help artists be successful. Rhode Island, for example, aims to help artists by not taxing art sales, but the lack of affordable housing in the state remains a big problem.

Joe Rubino writes at the Denver Post about Colorado’s creative economy, noting that anyone who saw a show at the local opera house in 2015, bought a painting or book by a Coloradan, or visited a local museum “contributed to the $13.7 billion arts and culture brought to the state’s economy that year, a figure that outdid both the mining and transportation sectors. …

“The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the National Endowment for the Arts on [March 7] unveiled their most recent analysis of the economic impact of arts and culture in the U.S. In 2015, the year with the most recent reporting data, goods and services generated by museums, architecture firms, artists and other artistically inclined businesses and agencies accounted for 4.3 percent of the Colorado’s GDP. …

“[Nationwide,] creative industries accounted for a $20 billion trade surplus that year, according to the analysis. Work in arts and culture accounted for 4.9 million U.S. jobs in 2015. Of those, 100,631 were in Colorado. …

“The analysis, collectively known as the Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account, or ACPSA, looked at 36 industries that contributed to America’s arts and cultural economy. Some of them are considered core contributors — like museums and graphic design firms — and others are viewed as support industries [including] broadcasting. …

“When it comes to comparing states in the American West, arts and culture in Colorado ranked only behind California and Washington in terms of money made.”

More at the Denver Post, here.

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Photo: Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media
In a small Colorado farm town, immigrants accept America’s least popular jobs. Now the town is helping them gain citizenship.

When you hear that immigrants are important to a farm town, you probably think of farm labor. But farm towns, like other small towns in America, struggle to find workers for many grueling jobs citizens don’t want.

Now the town of Brush, Colorado, is offering help to its new residents to become citizens themselves.

This Harvest Public Media report by Luke Runyon, broadcast on National Public Radio, explains.

“At the public library in the rural Morgan County town of Brush, Colo., Marissa Velazquez welcomes her students to class. It’s a sunny Saturday morning, and the day marks the halfway point in Velazquez’s class, a 10-week crash course on American history, civics and English.

“Nearly all of the students work in either meatpacking or dairying. Everyone in it has the same goal: become an American citizen. In two hours, Velazquez runs through voting rights, the legislative process and some grammar tips. …

“Morgan County has anchored its local economy to agriculture. A meatpacking plant, cheese factory, sugar beet processing plant and large dairy farms provide plentiful yet grueling jobs that require little proficiency in English, just hard manual labor. That has made the rural county a magnet for migrating immigrants and refugees. It now holds sizable Somali, Mexican, Ethiopian, El Salvadoran, Guatemalan and Honduran populations. …

“In some smaller towns … fear has spurred some to take steps to go from green card holders to fully fledged citizens.

“The number of people who applied for U.S. citizenship rose across the country in 2016. And while there are no definitive data for the first part of 2017, there are small indications that the same trend could be continuing this year.

“To become naturalized, applicants are tested with a series of questions about the U.S. They are given a dictation exam and an interview, most often in English.

” ‘That’s why we get to practice listening skills, writing skills, reading, so that they’re ready for when they go in for their interview to become a citizen,’ Velazquez says.

” ‘I never thought I would teach the class, because I took this class as a student,’ says Velazquez, who became a naturalized citizen in 2016.

“Citizenship classes are pretty standard in some parts of the country, often offered by nonprofit groups and immigration law firms. What makes this one unique is its size. In 2015, 10 people finished it. In 2016, just five. This year, Velazquez has a class of 21 students. In a rural area like Morgan County, that is huge.” More.

One thing you can say about immigrants who take those tough jobs: they work hard. I believe that the country is strengthened by people like that deciding to become part of it.

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Photo: Thomas Peipert/AP
Leaders of this Colorado Boy Scout troop say the group helps refugee kids adjust to American culture while providing a safe place where they can be themselves.

It may be surprising, given the news that grabs our attention these days, but stories about ordinary people showing kindness to refugees are everywhere. I can hardly keep up. Consider this KidsPost about a Colorado Boy Scout troop published in the Washington Post January 2, 2017.

“Boy Scouts Jean Tuyishime and Moise Tuyikunde sit around a campfire under a canopy of stars in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, joking and teasing each other as teenage brothers often do. Only 2½ years ago, they were a world away, living at a crowded camp in the central African nation of Rwanda (pronounced ru-WAHN-duh).

“The brothers were born in the Gihembe refugee camp after their parents fled violence in 1996 in what was then known as Zaire (zah-EER). They relocated with their family to the Denver area in 2014, and they gradually became a part of their new surroundings, learning to speak enough English to get by and signing up for a typical American experience — Boy Scouts.

“But the troop Jean, 15, and Moise, 12, joined is not like many others in the United States. Troop 1532 is composed almost entirely of refugees who hail from faraway places such as Burma, Rwanda and Nepal.

“At campouts, such traditional American food as hot dogs and trail burgers is replaced by fish head stew, fire-roasted corn and chatpate, a popular street snack in the Asian country of Nepal. Dessert, however, still includes s’mores. …

“Troop 1532, formed in 2014, could be a model for other Boy Scout groups looking to welcome young refugees. [Justin] Wilson and P.J. Parmar, a doctor who started the troop, say the kids’ backgrounds present challenges that other troops don’t face. Members come and go, which makes it hard to focus on earning merit badges and advancing in rank. …

“Many of the parents have little money and work long, odd hours, which makes it hard to plan meetings. Parmar said the scouts often can’t get to meetings, so he decided to gather only for camping trips. …

“Jean’s father, Jean Batacoka, a 37-year-old housekeeper with five children, says the efforts of Wilson and Parmar have helped his kids.

“ ‘What they do down there is not just leadership, because they learn discipline, how to behave, how to respect people who are older than them,’ he said through a translator. ‘I think it’s a really good thing for them, and I can see something is happening.’ ”

I have nothing but admiration for the men who organized this. Any scout troop requires a big commitment from adult leaders, as some readers of this blog know. The time and energy Troop 1532 leaders give to the unique challenges of refugee Scouts is especially remarkable.

More at the Washington Post, here.

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Julie Turkewitz writes at the NY Times about a mountain library planned by two not-exactly-wealthy book lovers with big ideas.

“The project is striking in its ambition: a sprawling research institution situated on a ranch at 10,000 feet above sea level, outfitted with 32,000 volumes, many of them about the Rocky Mountain region, plus artists’ studios, dormitories and a dining hall — a place for academics, birders, hikers and others to study and savor the West.

“It is the sort of endeavor undertaken by a deep-pocketed politician or chief executive, perhaps a Bloomberg or a Buffett. But the project, called the Rocky Mountain Land Library, has instead two booksellers as its founders.

“For more than 20 years, Jeff Lee, 60, and Ann Martin, 53, have worked at a Denver bookshop, the Tattered Cover, squirreling away their paychecks in the pursuit of a single dream: a rural, live-in library where visitors will be able to connect with two increasingly endangered elements — the printed word and untamed nature. …

“They have poured an estimated $250,000 into their collection of 32,000 books, centering the collection on Western land, history, industry, writers and peoples. There are tales by Norman Maclean; wildlife sketches by William D. Berry; and books on beekeeping, dragonflies, cowboys and the Navajo. …

“Mr. Lee and Ms. Martin have a grant from the South Park National Heritage Area and this summer will finally begin renovations, repairing two leaky roofs. Construction will be limited, however, as they have gathered less than $120,000 in outside funds. An estimated $5 million is needed to build out their dream.” More here.

Photo: Michael Ciaglo for The New York Times

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I do like stories about people who love their work so much that they never want to stop.

Perhaps it helps to have a talent like muralist Eric Bransby, who got to study with one of my favorite artists, Thomas Hart Benton. (Suzanne says I have a personal aesthetic, which is a polite way of saying I’m crazy about anything wavy, like Benton’s energetic American landscapes.)

Chloe Veltman writes at National Public Radio, “Eric Bransby is one of the last living links to the great age of American mural painting. He studied with one of this country’s most famous muralists — Thomas Hart Benton — and went on to create his own murals in prominent buildings across the west. The artist is now 98 and still painting.

“At his Colorado Springs studio, Bransby attacks a drawing with tight, sharp strokes, a pastel pencil grasped between gnarled fingers. His studio is unheated, but he doesn’t seem to notice the cold. He’s completely engrossed in the image taking shape on his easel. It’s a study for a new mural that he hopes to install at nearby Colorado College. He says he draws between two and eight hours every day.

” ‘Drawing has been a continuous thing for me, like exercises for a musician,’ he says. ‘It’s refreshing. I draw better. I paint better.’ …

“His parents didn’t encourage his artistic pursuits. It was during the Depression, and when he demanded that he get sent to art school, he remembers his parents said: ‘Well, he’ll do one year and he’ll come back so discouraged that we’ll make something else out of him.’

” ‘But that didn’t happen,’ Bransby says. ‘I found heaven.’ ” Read more here.

Photo: Nathaniel Minor/Colorado Public Radio
Eric Bransby, pictured above in his home in Colorado Springs, is still creating art at 98. “I try to make each mural a project that will somehow expand my abilities a little bit more,” he says.

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One of these days I hope to see a moose in the wild, but not under the circumstances described in this recent report on National Public Radio.

“It was the brown snout and ears that caught their attention. Then they heard noises coming from under the snow. That was reason enough for three passing snowmobile riders to jump off their machines and start digging.

” ‘It looked like a guy’s arm at first because we were expecting to see a skier,’ Marty Mobley told the Alaska Dispatch News. …

“Mobley said he and two friends, all residents of Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Alaska, used their shovels to free the animal. …

“When the moose was mostly free, one of the men gently poked the moose, which suddenly stood up. Mobley said it looked like the abominable snowman, as it was covered in packed snow.

“It shook off the snow and ran down the mountain ‘at full steam’ and was apparently uninjured.

” ‘I am an animal lover, and I couldn’t leave it there,’ Mobley said. ‘Besides, we deal with a lot of avalanches and a lot of snow. That kind of karma is something we don’t pass up.’ ” More at NPR.

Photo: Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, near Aspen, Colo./AP
Not moose but elk. It’s bad all over. Two out of three elk were saved in time.

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