Monday, November 28, 2011

It's a small world!

This is a funny story I thought I'd share (albeit a week after the fact) about returning home last week for Thanksgiving break.

I was driving back with my parents (who had come up Monday to spend a little time in Burlington) Tuesday evening, when we took a quick bathroom break at a McDonald's in Whitehall, NY. As I opened the door to walk in, a girl was leaving wearing an SMC hoodie, and I said,"Hey, I go to Saint Mike's!"

So then we started talking and we discovered we were both from NY (when I first asked her where she lived, she said "the 4's. oh wait, you mean home?") and then I asked her what town and she said Rome; aka the small town my family just moved to about a year ago when I was in Poland.

We all couldn't believe it, I learned that she was a senior, and my parents asked if they had any mutual friends in Rome; all in all it was a pretty funny experience! Small world, huh?

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Classes for Spring Semester.

I've noticed that a lot of other bloggers have posted about registration/classes for next semester. While my registration was not at all eventful (got all my classes; woot!), I thought I'd share my schedule for the Spring '12 semester!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


This is the first time I've been home from Saint Mike's since I left for school in August, so there were some things I've been missing from home, and some things that I now miss from school. So, I decided to make a quick list of things that I'm thankful for in life both at school and at home!

At home; cooking for myself. Alliot food get's old; it's nice to be able to whip up something to eat with the ingredients that you want, whenever you want.

At school; no dishes. Then again, there's a conveyor belt for dishes in Alliot... no conveyor belt for dishes in my kitchen.

At home; my room. My dorm room at school is nice and all, but there's nothing like being in your room at home. Plus my room at home is like 1.5 times the size of my room at school; definitely thankful for that!

At school; beautiful Vermont. Then again, it's nice to roll over in the morning and look out my window at the Green Mountains!

At home; family and pets. Being away, you start to miss your dogs/cats. And your siblings... and your parents... but mostly your dogs/cats.

At school; friends. A lot of people get to see friends when they go home... but all my friends live an hour away since my family moved after high school, and I only get to see them once in a while. So I definitely miss all my college friends when I'm not at SMC!

In general. I'm thankful for the opportunity to be a student, a skier, a traveler and all-the-other-things-I-get-to-do-er, and that I have a family and awesome friends that support me! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Occupy Movement, from Burlington to New York.

The Occupy Wall Street movement started on September 17th in New York City. It's spread to cities all over the world since then, and through opportunities as an SMC student I've been lucky enough to catch glimpses of the Occupy movement in Burlington, Washington D.C and most recently, New York City.

As a disclaimer, I'm just going to mention that I wont push my political views in this post. Although I have made it clear in earlier posts that my political leanings tend to be democratic and that the environment is an issue of concern for me, I only want to report on my experiences with the Occupy movement, not whether I support it or not (although it would be difficult to say that one supports the movement or they not, since it represents such a wide range of issues).


Tents at Occupy D.C, K Street location.

I first saw an Occupy encampment in Washington D.C, when I was there for the Tar Sands Protest. Unfortunately we weren't there for very long, but I got a glimpse of the movement, the people and their goals (which were many; they were also coming to the Tar Sands Protest). Frankly, it left me with the same impression I got from the media. Some impassioned intellectuals, and more than a few vagrant hippies, all sleeping in a bunch of tents. But it was interesting nonetheless.


Gogol Bordello live at Occupy Burlington.

Another experience I had with occupy was right here in Burlington, VT. One Wednesday I dropped in on a S.L.A.M (Student Labor Action Movement) meeting with my friend Dan, where we heard that Gogol Bordello was going to be playing at Occupy Burlington that night. We then proceeded to ride our bikes into Burlington and wait approximately 2 hours for a show that we weren't even sure was going to happen. But while we waited I got the opportunity to learn more about the Occupy movement, and I was impressed by one UVM student who seemed to know a lot about it. If I can remember correctly, his argument was something to the effect that our current economic system in unsustainable, because the rich have too much money to spend, and the poor have so little money that they have to spend it constantly, but mostly on necessities (not enough to keep the economy going). Excuse me for just this blurb on such a complex topic.

Another thing I observed, and actually my original reason for going, was the art/culture aspect of the movement. Like a lot of social movements, Occupy has produced some pretty cool art, especially posters. I see them around Saint Mikes all the time, here's a favorite:

Photo credit:

Here's another, which I like but have not seen around campus:

Click here to find this poster and others.

Emerging from the Occupy Movement is another activist culture. I've observed this, an older man at Occupy Wall Street shared this observation with me; I think that a lot of people have noticed this. I remember at the Tar Sands protest a woman proclaiming that our generation is the generation that's going to change things, like the famous protesters of the Vietnam war and others of the same era. It's exciting and intriguing to see this happening with people my age and to have been a part of it myself. It makes one wonder where this new-found activism will take our country, and the world.

I also learned on this night that Gogol Bordello was my new favorite musician.

Occupy Wall Street

Onlookers at food justice rally at Occupy Wall Street.

Finally, this past Saturday, the 19th of November 2011, I had the opportunity to go to New York and see where it all began. At first, there weren't many people and I was a tad disappointed (we were all aware that the camp had been raided and disbanded the previous Monday, but according to Twitter and other online sources, they were still congregating). Although that changed pretty quickly, as you can tell from the picture above.

There was a ton of stuff going on during the day. We brought signs, and passers-by took pictures of us holding them, there was a food justice group speaking, union workers, "911 was an inside job" marchers (whom some were convinced had been hired by Fox news to make Occupy look ridiculous). 

A lot of what I had recognized during Occupy Burlington I noticed again, and amplified, at Occupy Wall Street. Before, I used the term Micro-Culture to describe it, but the legitimacy of that word was questioned so instead I will use microcosm. What I found in New York was a very democratic microcosm of society, fit with its own laws, culture, barter system; and that's nothing to what it was before, according to one unnamed Occupier, who claimed that "we could perform minor surgery in here before they tore us down". Whether that's true or not I can't say for sure, but from what I heard and what I saw, they had at least been very well established. 

The most impressive thing I saw here, though, was the General Assembly. It was the epitome of democracy; everyone was allowed to participate, granted they adhered to the rules of etiquette set by the people during previous G.A.'s. The purpose of these meetings is to make decisions for the movement through horizontal organization and participation from all those who care to do so. When someone isn't adhering to the rules, there is a hand signal that participants put up to encourage that person to stop. Facilitators ask permission of the assembly if it's alright with the assembly that they facilitate. It is all up to the assembly; every little detail. There is no official leader, and anyone who takes a leadership position of any sort asks permission to do so first. It is very much how you wished Animal Farm would have turned out while you are reading it.

While I was there, one man was arrested for allegedly having blown cigarette smoke in a police officer's face (although everyone around him claimed that wasn't the case, and even if it were, it would not be grounds for arrest), someone who appeared to be a Wall Street worker gave my friends and I the finger, and all day I saw different people from all over the place, occupying Wall Street. Finally, we left around 8.20PM after the General Assembly, fit with lots of videos, photos, stories and, something I thought was pretty clever, a few issues of The Occupied Wall Street Journal.

The Occupy movement is a hot topic of controversy and discussion, and after these experiences I feel that I have gained more understanding on where the Occupiers come from, even if others aren't sure where they're going. I think the problem isn't that the movement lacks direction, but that there's so much change to be had, and they're willing to accept anyone who is looking to create this change. So whether New York wants them there, or Boston, London, Seoul, Los Angeles, or hundreds of other cities want them there, occupiers are looking for change, and they're not backing down until they get it.

Also, check out this short film called "Why Do You Occupy" by my friend Dan Quigley, about our trip to NYC, and why people choose to occupy Wall Street!

Thanks for Reading!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cool Stuff on Campus: The Shack

This week is Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week and students at SMC have been observing it in a few different ways, including an Oxfam Hunger Banquet, fasting, canned food collecting, vigils and The Shack.

The Shack is set up in the lawn outside the academic buildings, and students can sign up to stay in it for various amounts of time; both throughout the day and overnight. Last night, my Shack Buddies and I took on the challenge, and stayed in the shack from 8pm to 8am (except myself, I have a bad cough and was having trouble in the cold so I went back to my dorm around 1am; but it was cool while it lasted!). We had some visitors, including Father Brian, who came over to say hi and asked if we knew what day yesterday was (the Feast of St. Edmund). Anyway, it was a cool experience and *hopefully* was helpful in raising awareness of the fight against Hunger and Homelessness!

Here are some pictures!

Fellow Shack-Buddies Sophie, Emily and Kelly.  

Brendan playing the Ukulele. 

One big, happy Shack family!

Photo Credit goes to Brianna Coughlin.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

5 Great Things About My SMC Experience So Far

Just for fun, I thought it would be nice to share some of the things that have made college life at SMC really awesome for me. There's a ton of stuff to do on campus; and in general if you want to try something new, there's something new for you to try. Or, if you want to continue doing activities that you've been doing in high school you can do that as well! So without further ado, here's what I've been into!

1. Ski Team

I've been a racer since I was a little kid, and before I came to SMC I decided that I'd try out for the team. So, all fall I've been doing dryland training with them and it's been great for staying in shape and meeting a cool group of people. I'm really looking forward to training with them this winter (but I'll be racing USSA; If you don't know what that means, don't worry about it), I think I'll learn a lot and improve a ton as a racer.

2. Floor Mates

J4 is where it's at!

The people on my floor rock and we've formed a great group of friends. It's not uncommon for us to all pile in someones (usually our friends Bean and Cait) room on a Friday night and have a hot dance party (hot as in temperature; try fitting 25 college students into a room while bumping LMFAO and keep it from boiling within 5 minutes), until we get thirsty and walk to Cumby's or hungry and go out to the grill (fun fact, the grill rocks, my friend Sarah did a post on it here; but it would rock more if they had veggie burgers =p).

3. Green Up / Clubs in General

I've posted about Green Up on this blog a few times before, but to anyone who doesn't know what it is, it's the sustainability club on campus. For me, it's been really cool to find a nitch with Green Up. I'd been "environmentally aware" during high school but had never really been proactive about it, and Green Up has given me the opportunity and I love it. Read about our trip to Washington D.C here, and check out some pictures here.

4. The Freshman Quad

Pictured are; Ryan Hall on the left, Joyce Hall on the right.

All first-year students live in Joyce, Ryan and Lyons hall, called the freshman quad (the fourth hall in the quad is Alumni, but that's mostly sophomores). This is cool because it's in the center of campus, so it's close to everything which is helpful when you're a first year (although SMC campus isn't that large anyway). Also, on Friday and Saturday nights, this is where the famous grill takes place!

5. Professors and Academics

When I was touring colleges, I remember how each one said that their professors were fantastic and hands-on and how they really will work with you outside of class. While I'm not sure if that's the case everywhere, it is at Saint Mike's. I've had good experiences with all of my professors this semester, even if I've had a little trouble in their class (calc). And of course you can't generalize every professor at a college, but from what my friends tell me about their professors, I'm not the only one who's experienced this.

Of course there are a ton of other things that make me happy at SMC, and If you have any questions about classes, clubs or life in general feel free to contact me!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cool Stuff on Campus: Addicted to Plastic

On any given night at SMC, it's more likely than not that you can find some lecture, speaker or film showing on campus. Tonight, Green Up hosted a viewing of the movies "Story of Stuff" and "Addicted to Plastic" in honor of recycling week (the first is a link to the film on Youtube, the second is just a trailer).

I highly recommend checking both of these out; the first one looks at the economics of what's called the "Material's Economy", addresses the flaws of the system, and then then tells what's being done to change it, and what needs to continue to happen. It's literally a story of our "stuff"; where it comes from, how it gets into our stores and homes, and then where it goes after we throw it out.

The second is a documentary about plastic and its impact on the environment. A lot of the time it looks at where plastic ends up in the world after we throw it out. This one you might be able to find online, but we had a DVD.

There's always cool stuff happening on campus!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

SMC ranked number 88!

Woohoo Saint Mike's! On the Forbes list of 650 Best Undergraduate Institutions we got ranked 88, which is awesome for a little college in VT! Check out the link here:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Protesting in D.C

In my last post, I uploaded some pictures from my recent trip to Washington D.C with Green Up. Some of them are goofy, but some of them show how massive and important this protest was.

Off the bat, a few fun facts. Approximately 12,000 protesters were in attendance from all over the country (I ran into a former ski team mate who goes to school in Florida; her school, Eckerd College, had a huge turnout), we fully encircled the White House for the first time since 1960, a floor-mate of mine, Dan Quigley, was interviewed by the Associated Press and mentioned in this article (he also got a mention for SMC), and since the protest, Obama has decided to delay his decision on the pipeline. While that is neither a "loss" nor a "victory" for the Tar Sands movement, it does mean that it's not being built right now.

So, about the trip; it was awesome. I went into it with the expectation that a lot of the people there knew more than I did, and I wanted to learn from them. And between the discussion we had Saturday night at the All Souls Unitarian Universalist church, talking to fellow SMC students about the pipeline, and hearing what was said at the rally, I learned a lot.

At All Souls (as I mentioned in passing), there was a rally Saturday night to unify the protesters, inform them of the logistics and planning, and also to get the ball rolling on actions after the protest. A few of the key organizers spoke, and each of them of a surprisingly different background. It was interesting to see, in the organizers and in the protesters, the variety of people that cared about this protest. The most represented age groups were teens/twenties and fifties/sixties. The latter kind of surprised me until later I was made aware that most of the fifties/sixties had been environmentally active in the 70's, and were getting back into it now that the movement was making a comeback.

We left All Souls at around 9, went to the church we were staying at (St. Stephen's), made a quick run to IHOP, and were in bed around midnight... only to wake up at 6 in the morning.

The protest didn't start til 2, so until then we had time to explore the city, which was pretty cool cause I hadn't ever been before. We had a good (if not kinda pricey) breakfast, walked around some monuments, went to an Occupy D.C location, and met at LaFayette Square around 1:30pm.

After that it was pretty nuts. At the rally there were people with signs (some of them very clever; I saw "if you build it, it will leak", "thank you big oil, I hate polar bears", "fossils are friends, not fuels"...), a large pipeline that said "Stop Keystone XL", awesome speakers (including Bill McKibben), and the feeling was overall really exciting and united. I had never felt so connected to such a large group of people; it was like being at a concert, but with more protesting and less fighting (amongst the crowd, anyway).

Probably a little after 2pm (I lost track of time) we began to circle the White House. It took a while. We went in 4 mass-migrations of people; I went with the 3rd one.

Once we got into place, it was unreal. I almost didn't want to talk; I wanted to just stand there, holding my sign, remaining silent and stoic and feeling like I was really making a difference. I did stay silent for a while, but eventually I started shouting with the crowd, which was also fun.

About 20 minutes after we got into place, the organizers came around and told us we had completely encircled the White House for the first time since 1960, and it felt like we won. People started shouting louder (I tweeted about it ;p) and it kind of felt like the climactic moment of the trip.

After some celebration, we were told we could go back to the rally or go back home, so the crowd began to dwindle, and eventually we headed back to our bus, and were back on the road to SMC.

During this weekend, I learned so much, I felt like I was making a difference, and I discovered a new-found passion for activism that I hadn't really experienced before. Definitely one of the most important things I've done since I came to college!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pictures from D.C!

Hey guys, here are some of my favorite pics from D.C! I've been kinda swamped since I got back, but expect an informational post on the trip this week. Enjoy!

Prof. Greg Delanty wearing my sunglasses.

Sleeping friends. 

Protesting in the street.

In front of the White House.

Polar bear with sign "Keystone XL: Game over for my arctic home".

More protesters.

Me and my friend Lauren in front of the White House!

So these are just a few, I promise more to follow/a more detailed post on the entire event and weekend!

Thanks for reading! 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

D.C : 5 days

I've mentioned before on this blog that I'm involved with a group on campus called Green up. Green Up is awesome, we are the environmental group that does stuff like reusable-cup coffee hours on Thursday mornings, and hosts Harvest Fest, which you can read about below.

So this Saturday, I'm going to D.C with 30 or so other students from Green Up to join the Tar Sands Action protest. Basically what is happening right now is that Trans Canada, the company building something called the Keystone XL pipeline, has plans to build that pipeline through America's heartland and down into Texas, where it will be refined and exported to Europe and Latin America, tax-free. Further, a burst in this pipeline could destroy drinking water for 2 million people, since the plan is to build it through a major water reservoir. They estimated the Keystone might have a burst once every 7 years; it's already burst 12 times in one year in places where it's already been built.

Building this pipeline could have hugely negative environmental repercussions, and there's no economic gain for the American people. The only person who has to say yes or no to this deal is Obama, and that's why we're going to protest at the White House this Sunday.

This is a really important issue to all of us at Green Up, so my goal is to keep this blog, my twitter and my facebook updated throughout the event, and about the issue in general. Stay tuned!