Sunday, December 4, 2011

University YMCA (and Kasey Umland) in US News

"One of the things with the rise in international undergraduates that we've seen is that not only are people away from their families and lonely, but they're also going through the very important developmental experience of college—and there isn't a lot of attention spent on how that's different when you're in a new culture and also isolated from your support network," Umland notes.


To combat that, Umland's programs geared for both international and American students at the YMCA include cultural meetings over coffee, weekend performances, holiday festivities, and more. She also encourages students to seek out university-run initiatives, even those not specifically for international students, such as counseling for anyone feeling isolated and immersion trips that connect foreign students with their domestic peers."

Saturday, December 3, 2011

"Only the Beginning" - The C-U Immigration Forum Responds to Local Enforcement of the "Secure Communities" Act


 "We can end this tomorrow!"

Aaron Johnson-Ortiz, Josh Hoyt, Captain Jones,
and Lucia Maldonado were some of the speakers.
The C-U Immigration Forum has brought a major immigrant rights issue to public attention. A community dialog was held on December 1st at the Champaign Public Library to demonstrate that residents of Champaign County are concerned by the over-zealous enforment of the federal Secure Communities Act. 

It sounds a bit like defeat to say the InSecure Communities event is "only the beginning" of the changes that need to occur. Forum member Aaron Johnson-Ortiz reminded Captain Jones (from the Sheriff's office) that "We can end this tomorrow!" And it's true. The holds on local undocumented immigrants being arrested and imprisoned could end tomorrow.

However, "only the beginning" also holds a strong message of hope, intention, action, and relentlessness

"Only the beginning" means that a dialog started tonight in which an incredibly diverse group of over 175 people attended an informative event to learn more and let their voices be heard. Difficult questions were asked of Captain Jones, newly minted into his position. 

Answers were less frequent, and more often provided by the well-researched group comprising the C-U Immigration Forum who hosted the event along with an eclectic and impassioned group of co-sponsors. 

The answers to questions about Secure Communities were followed by a list of recommendations, displayed behind Captain Jones in the most expectant way possible as we all asked "What decisions will you make?" and "What is your personal stake in the Secure Communities Act?" 

See more photos here.
Transparency, first and foremost, was an outright demand. All residents of Champaign County deserve and require no less than forthright communication around this issue that truly affects us all. What happens to taxpayers when the exponential effect of unjust imprisonment causes children to be left without parents and parents to be imprisoned beyond the expectations of ICE? 

What happens to our community when trust is betrayed? Opinions may diverge on the issue of immigration itself, but converge around the political decision-making that happens behind closed doors. The voice of the C-U community was heard loud and clear tonight, asking "What is happening here?"

Illinois Governer Quinn rejected Secure Communities months ago. At the federal and executive levels, the failure of this program is being met with great lengths of damage control. At the local level, relationships between immigrants and police have become fearful instead of helpful. Racial profiling seems to have taken precedence over the rights of all immigrants, including people who are living under the letter of the law. 

Although the crowd of people that showed up at the Champaign Public Library stood up with important and tough questions, they were also amicable and supportive of the dialog taking place. There seemed to be a recognition that without open and honest conversations, change would be unlikely to happen. 

Captain Jones received applause for his honesty on several occasions, but was also begged for action, communication, and the presence of the Sheriff himself. Captain Jones was on the spot, in a difficult position, "like jumping in with sharks in your underwear," as one questioner phrased it. However, this acknowledgement did not diminish the communal need for response. 

To end the holds, to end Secure Communities, and to completely change the punitive approach to C-U immigrants... it would be best that these all happen right away, tomorrow morning, as soon as humanly possible. Barring that happening, the community stands up and says:

It's "only the beginning."


Btw, if you're concerned about immigrant rights in Champaign County and want to learn more, check out the C-U Immigration Forum's website where you can sign up for their email listserve and donate... Also, please like them on Facebook.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Congratulations Interfaith in Action!



Recipients of the Dads Association 2011 Outstanding Registered Student Organization Certificate of Merit Award! Each year, the Dads Association honors the outstanding achievements and contributions of one each; faculty staff, student and student organization at the Dads Association's Annual Banquet on Dads Weekend. The Dads Association presented the Certificate of Merit Award at their banquet on November 11.  There was a reception in the South Lounge of the Illini Union where Interfaith in Action representatives received the award. 


Greg Damhorst nominated Interfaith for the award!

See what they've been up to this year in the Y's Interfaith in Action Flickr photoset.

Dads Association Website

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Governor Edgar to speak at the Y

The Gridlock of Public Policy Resulting from Polarization

This Friday, 11.11.11 at NOON 
University YMCA . 1001 S. Wright St., Champaign
(corner of Wright and Chalmers, just west of the Quad)

Jim Edgar was the 38th governor of Illinois. As governor, he made fiscal discipline and children the cornerstones of his two terms. First elected in 1990, Governor Edgar won re-election in 1994 by the largest margin ever for a governor. His popularity as governor prompted a Chicago Tribune columnist to write near the end of his administration that Edgar's popularity in Illinois was "second only to Michael Jordan's."

Edgar has served in a variety of leadership roles, including president of the Council of State Governments, as a member of the executive committee of the National Governors' Association and as chairman of the Midwest Governors' Association. He has also been a Resident Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Governor Edgar serves on a variety of civic and corporate boards of directors.

By the time he left office in January 1999, Governor Edgar had eliminated the backlog in payments of the state's bills, given the state a surplus and reduced the size of state government. He had also fought for and won passage of historic legislation on the way Illinois schools are funded and had overhauled the state's child welfare system.

Before becoming governor, Edgar served as secretary of state for 10 years and was elected to the Illinois House from Charleston in 1976. He received a B.A. in history from Eastern Illinois University in 1968.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Is the YMCA really Haunted?!


The Buzz thinks so... check it out for an upcoming article celebrating Halloween this week. Michael Kleen, author of Haunting Illinois, also suspects a haunting in the Y basement (which comes as no surprise to any who have frequented our underground halls). See the Daily Illini article here.



According to prairieghosts.com:

"Perhaps the oddest campus haunting involves the Native American who roams the basement of the University YMCA building on South Wright Street. Decades ago, the basement was decorated with a very large painting of a Native American chief. It had been placed in the student lounge and cafeteria and little was thought about it... until nighttime visitors started to notice something very strange. According to their stories, after all of the lights had been turned out for the night, the chief would somehow leave the painting and wander about the building. Hard to believe? I would have to agree with that, but those who claim to have seen the Indian walking around in the dimly lit corridors just might argue with us!"

A New Ghost?

One Y Staff member suggests that the ghost of Fred Bailey possesses a portrait that still hangs in the Program Office on the first floor. He swears Bailey's eyes follow him around the room, no doubt watching to be sure the program staff are performing efficiently.


Let's be honest... most of the guys adorning our walls seem fairly jolly and beneficent. Take Sir George Williams as shown above.

Who really haunts the Y?

There are some people who may not yet be ghosts, but haunt the Y all the same. Kasey Umland, Program Director, can often be found here after hours, waiting for students to visit with her. Dedicated students and staff are here all hours, but all their creeping around and hanging out is the kind of work that keeps the place alive and makes positive change in the local community.

But who knows... maybe when our Y alum pass on they'll come back to grace our halls at night with a happy presence.

Check out our Y Archives Collections on Flickr for more historic photos of the Y.

Oh, and Happy Halloween!

HALLOWEEN PARTY ON 10/28  starting at 8pm. Costume contest starting at 10:30.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A belated reflection on the 'Naked* Bike Ride'

I have to admit that my initial reaction when a student group tells me about their plan to do an event with "naked" or "underwear" in the title is usually a deep breath and a question such as, "So when you say naked . . . ?"  So when Amnesty first told me about their plans to host an annual Naked* Bike Ride, I had to get past my initial questions about legality and alumni concerns before I was able to really "get" what the event was all about.

That said, this is not the first YMCA student program event to encourage taking it off for a good cause.  For the last 3 years, Invisible Conflicts has hosted the IC Run. Students are sponsored by family and friends to run laps around the quad in costumes or underwear in freezing temperatures to raise funds for the school fees of children orphaned by the civil war in Uganda.

Yet, I still struggled to connect the ideas of nudity, bike riding and human rights.  That is, until Chrissy Ruiz, event organizer, explained it.  Chrissy talked about the fact that in the U.S. we all have the freedom to show a little skin, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, class, or any other identity.  In many areas around the globe, the same activity can result in arrest, torture, and even death.  At the event, participants were encouraged to give the clothes "off their backs" and all the funds and clothing donated went to benefit local shelters. 

At the event, itself, most participants chose to cover up some of their body, opting for underwear over nudity, but as Chrissy explained, nudity isn't the point.  The event was about awareness and appreciation for the freedom we enjoy and about inciting action to protect those around the globe who are persecuted.  Amnesty also talked the importance of healthy body image, of comfort with one's self, and of ending our reliance on oil. (Resource exploitation is often linked to human rights abuses.)

For me, as naked as I wanted to be was a t-shirt and jeans, but that didn't stop me from participating in and appreciating that sometimes less is more, and in the case of the Naked* Bike Ride, less clothes meant a greater awareness of the struggles of women and other underrepresented groups across the globe.

Read the Daily Illini article

See pictures from the event here

*as you want to be


Lots of Articles in the Daily Illini

The University YMCA and Y Student Groups got a lot of coverage recently in the Daily Illini!

Here are some great articles...

The Green Observer article

Congo Week article

Waveland Art @ the Y Exhibition article

SECS and Red Bison project article

and don't forget

Amnesty's Naked Bike Ride article

Sunday, October 16, 2011

'Waveland: A Meditation' Exhibition Opens

More photographs from the exhibition are available on Flickr.
 
Location, Space, Identity

Valerie Oliveiro is up front - she's not from Waveland, Mississippi. It's not who she is.

A year and a half ago, she'd never even heard of the small town that was the actual ground zero for both Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill.
She considers herself a tourist in some ways.  But residents of Waveland reminded her that many people know the Gulf only as tourists, "and that's ok." It was part of the local economy and mindset about the town.

When she began the project a year and a half ago, she had two words in mind - location and space.

Originally, she wanted to work with these concepts in Lousiana, but on the way through Mississippi, she heard about Waveland for the first time on the radio, and later from a friend who worked relief in Baton Rouge.

Her friend used to steal Red Cross supplies and take them to Waveland, returning to Baton Rouge before dawn.

Val felt drawn to Waveland, so she stopped in for a visit.

Why Waveland?


The story of New Orleans is part of our national story now. Americans have heard about issues of governmental irresponsibility, the horrors of the stadium, the hubris of levies, and questions around what "Nature" is telling us by ravaging our manmade cities.

Racial inequality was able to rise in public awareness as media displayed how the poorest neighborhoods in New Orleans with majority black populations were the hardest hit. Katrina is legendary.

But Waveland is a smaller town, and Val speculates that demographics plays a part in the media silence around its suffering.

She found that the mostly white, middle class folks of Waveland wouldn't have wanted to be in the spotlight, even if it was available to them. The people of Waveland are private. The guilt they felt prevented them from wanting their loss recognized in the same way as New Orleans' Ninth Ward, for instance. Val says, "There's a silence around the cultural disaster there."

The BP oil spill was a cataclysmic insult added to injury. Rebuilding from a category 5 hurricane is a slow process anyway, but those who have made it through any of the economic turmoil have to create their livelihoods and homes in a new way.

"People build their houses on 26' stilts now," Val says. "They look down on you from their porches and wonder what you're doing."



Valerie Oliveiro presents her work.
The Photographs

The reality of who has returned and who hasn't (and many haven't) is written all over the landscape. "It's how we organize the land we own," Val says. And this is what she captured in 10 carefully selected photographs, which she describes as "meditationally, a distillation replicated several times."

Many of the long-exposure photographs were taken between the hours of midnight and dawn. Her meditation on this landscape goes far to accomplish the same as her friend who delivered stolen first aid supplies... a secretive redistribution of healing to a place that was brutalized and then ignored.

Val tells the audience gathered at the Y's Murphy gallery that if you google Waveland, you see photos of sandy beaches and tourist attractions... and then you see utter devastation. The juxtaposition is almost too stark. She wants to add her photographs to this story, which is why she considers them to be relevant even years after media coverage has dissipated. Continuing the story in this way is her message about recovery and loss.

Her photographs are so quiet. You can peer into them and find details or find yourself there in the South, soaking up darkness. They make you feel an empty loneliness. But true to the title of the exhibition, the emptiness is spacious and meditative.

When the layers and meanings of place are stripped bare, when the devastation is untold or forgotten, the most powerful message in her photographs is "This place exists."

Prints are available on Valerie Oliveiro's website: http://valerieoliveiro.com 

Exhibition description and more about Art @ the Y: http://www.universityymca.org/art/current/

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fall Newsletter: Letter from Mike

Dear Friends,

Fall is always a time of new beginnings here at the University YMCA, so we thought it would be a great time to unveil our new newsletter, produced by our now not-so-new Communications Director, Jenni Kotting.  We also recently launched our new user-friendly website at www.universityymca.org and encourage you to visit and learn about all of the exciting things happening at the Y.

But with all the different activities that take place here at the Y, one thing remains constant - the students at the core of our mission.  Each fall we are reminded of this as our building comes to life with the influx of both new and returning students.  For nearly 140 years, the University Y has had a profound impact on the students who pass through our doors.  Two recent events underscored the impact of the University Y today.

On a warm Saturday afternoon in August, Murphy Lounge was filled with students and their families as we celebrated the 2011-12 Fred Bailey Scholars and Leaders.  As I listened to the remarkable accomplishments and personal commitment these 30 student leaders, I reflected upon the hundreds of prior recipients and the millions of dollars in scholarships that have been awarded to assist students reach their full potential. This year we are expanding this support to include leadership training workshops and informal opportunities to meet with local community leaders to learn first hand about the challenges, frustrations and rewards of working for change.

And two weeks ago on a Friday night, over 70 student leaders from our twelve student programs spent the evening at the Y participating in a revamped orientation program organized by the Y Student Board.  For those present it was an evening of fun, information and fellowship as they shared the work they do, learned about the staff and resources available to them at the Y and socialized with one another.  Spending time with these students makes me both hopeful and confident about the future.

A testament to the impact the University Y has on our students is the generosity with which they continue to support the Y once they leave.  This summer, we were fortunate to receive two bequests from Y alum who remembered us in their will. The Board of Governors is currently discussing how best to use these funds but one thing is certain - their gifts will be used to continue the great leadership development and social justice work we have done for generations.  I am proud to be a part of such a historic, yet vibrant institution and ask that you join me in continuing the legacy of the University YMCA with a gift today.

Mike Doyle
Executive Director
University YMCA

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Daily Terror: Cluster Bombs (exhibit opening at Y)

In response to the tremendous human toll that cluster munitions have inflicted in Laos and many other parts of the world, the University YMCA and First Mennonite Church of Urbana are sponsoring an exhibition entitled Daily Terror. Titus Peachy's presentation will discuss the impact of cluster bomb munitions on civilian populations as well as the work of MCC and others to advocate for their elimination.

Produced by the Mennonite Central Committee of the Mennonite Church USA and Canada, this display presents stories and graphic images of devastation and pain that cluster bombs inflict upon civilian populations decades after their deployment in a conflict.  The project also presents the advocacy work and on-the-ground ordnance clearing efforts that Mennonite Central Committee and other non governmental agencies have engaged in for many years.

Titus Peachy is the Director of Peace Education for the Mennonite Central Committee. Titus registered as a conscientious objector and performed alternative service in Vietnam from 1970-1973. He and his wife Linda worked with MCC in Laos from 1980-1985. Titus later returned to Laos to help coordinate the Cluster
Bomb Removal Project. The MCC Peace Education Program engages in a broad range of peace advocacy as well as coordinating with other peace
organizations and those engaged in cluster bomb and mine clearance work.

Visitors to the exhibit will have the opportunity to join the postcard campaign in support of the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act. 


Daily Terror is a free event and will be on view at the University YMCA from October 23 until October 28, 2011 (9am-9pm daily).

Please note: Titus Peachey can be heard on WILL's Keepin' the Faith hosted by Steve Shoemaker on Sunday, October 23, 5:00pm.

http://www.universityymca.org

http://greatlakes.mcc.org/clusterbombs

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

'Waveland' Captures the Ground Zero of Hurricane Katrina and the BP Oil Spill

Exhibition Opening

Friday, October 14, 7:00-9:00 pm

Valerie Oliveiro, Artist - www.valerieoliveiro.com

Ambient, avant world music by Jason Finkelmann
Artist talk at 8:00, focus performance following
Murphy Gallery @ the Y

Free and open to the public.

Preview the photographs on Valerie Oliveiro's website: valerieoliveiro.com


Waveland, Mississippi was actual ground zero for Hurricane Katrina. It was the worst hit beach on the Mississippi gulf coast from the BP oil spill. Historically, natural and human forces have tried to claim it. This exhibition presents Valerie Oliviero's landscape photographs, part of her continuing study of transition and intervention in space.

Oliveiro is Singapore-born, self taught photographer. She is now the resident photographer at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, and before that she was a freelance Production Manager and Stage Manager for 14 years. She received an MFA (Yale School of Drama) in Stage Management and has worked with international artists in performing arts venues and festivals all around the world. Her photos have appeared in the New York Times, American Theatre Magazine and Time Out.

This exhibition will be open at the University YMCA from October 14 - December 23, 2011 (Monday through Friday, 9:00am - 5:00pm each day). Free and open to the public.

For more information: www.universityymca.org/art

University YMCA, 1001 South Wright Street, Champaign

Exhibition sponsored by: Art @ the Y, an initiative of the University YMCA.

Contact: Ann Rasmus, ann@universityymca.org, 217-337-1500

Friday, October 7, 2011

Native Plants Growing Strong After Volunteer Work Day


The rainy days last week may have seemed dreary, but here at the Y we couldn't have been happier! The ground was soaked each day - just the thing for our baby native grasses and perennials at the Y's west side parking lot! They're sure to grow big and strong thanks to our student volunteers.

Students from SECS and Red Bison.
Photos available on Flickr for download.
On September 25, 2011, volunteers from Students for Environmental ConcernS and Red Bison spend several hours at the University YMCA. They planted over 300 native plugs from the Grand Prairie Friends along the West Side parking lot.

Student volunteer digs in native plant plugs.
Photos available on Flickr for download.
These tall grasses, wild onions, and flowering perennials will be wild and beautiful in a year or two. Refer to the last post, "It's going to be WILD..." for details about the planting plan and list of plants used.

The student volunteers from SECS and Red Bison also powered through some much needed property maintenance. They moved load after load of gravelly soil along the edge of the building to prevent water from seeping down.

When the planting was done, volunteers transitioned into pruning and weeding the front side of the building and the native shaded beds along Chalmers.

The Y is grateful for their expert handling of the native plants, overgrown shrubs, and wheelbarrows full of dirt!

Without our student groups, the Y's exterior couldn't be nearly as environmentally friendly, well-maintained, and welcoming.

Special thanks to SECS, Red Bison, and Grand Prairie Friends for their help. Extra thanks to Valerie Sivicek for her leadership and plant knowledge.


Friday, September 16, 2011

It's going to be WILD (the parking lot, that is...)

Environmental responsibility is part of the Y's mission, and in just a few weeks it will be part of the parking lot too!

Valerie Sivicek designed the native planting plant and Jenni Kotting rendered into diagrams and sections as seen above.


With the help of environmental student groups, Red Bison and SECS, the University YMCA is about to plant a native border along the west side of their parking lot! The long 3-feet-wide strip was formerly an unsightly gravel and weed mixture while the building was under construction. Volunteers will plant the entire area with a mixture of flowering perennials and grasses that can thrive even in poor soil and dry conditions.

The native grasses will offer texture and height against the fence while shorter plants will hug the asphalt closest to the parked cars. Plants include:
  • Allium cernuum, Nodding Wild Onion
  • Bouteloua curtipendula, Side Oats Grama
  • Heliopsis helianthoides, False Sunflower
  • Liatris pycnostachya, Blazing Star
  • Penstemon digitalis, Foxglove Beardtongue
  • Schizachyrium scoparium, Little Bluestem
  • Silphium terebinthiniaceum, Prairie Dock
  • Sorghastrum nutans, Indian Grass
  • Sporobolus heterolepis, Prairie Dropseed

Stay tuned for photos of the planting!


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Y Student Group Promos: A YouTube Playlist

At this year's Student Program Orientation, groups created short promos to grab your interest, make you laugh, and ask you to care about their cause. Pretty effective, and well worth watching:

Monday, September 12, 2011

FIRST FRIDAY FORUM: Few Women in Science and Technology (Free Lecture)

When it comes to jobs in the Science,Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields, women are not fairing well.  According to a report by the U.S. Department of Commerce entitled Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation, "Although women fill close to half of all jobs in the U.S. economy, they hold less than 25% of STEM jobs."  This percentage has remained steady over the past decade, "even as women's share of the college-educated workforce has increased." 
Why is this this case, and what can be done about it—or, should anything be done about it?  This question will be the focus of the Friday Forum lecture on September 16th, 12 noon at the University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright Street on the University of Illinois campus.

Ruth Sweetser, Director of Corporate Relations at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago and former AAUW President at both the state and national levels, will be speaking about women in the STEM fields and discussing the latest research on this topic, including AAUW's 2010 in-depth report, "Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics."  AAUW is a nationwide network of individuals, branches, and college/institution partners that advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research.  <The Champaign-Urbana Branch of AAUW is one of several co-sponsors of this lecture.>
This presentation is part of the University YMCA Friday Forum fall lecture series entitled, "The Future of Learning: Is Public Education Under Siege?"  Friday Forum lectures occur each Friday at noon at the University YMCA.  All forums are radio broadcast at 6:00 p.m. on WEFT 90.1 the Monday following the lecture. If you have any questions, please contact Program Director, Kasey Umland, at kasey@universityymca.org or (217) 337-1514.

Bolokada Conde, Master Drummer, to give Free Performance

Bolokada Conde, master drummer and expert of Malinke rhythms, will play a free show at the University YMCA on September 16th at 7:00pm with his band, Rhythm Manding.

One of the world's best djembe players from Kissidougou, Guinea, Bolokada Conde has been living in the midst of Champaign-Urbana since 2008. 

Only a year after he was awarded immigrant status with extraordinary ability in the arts, he became a full-time visiting artist at UIUC and gave drumming classes at the University, for the community, and in public schools (as part of the "World Music and Dance in the Schools" program).

Bolokada Conde has traveled all over the world to perform, has created several albums, and has been featured in the IMAX movie, ‘Pulse: a STOMP Odyssey.’ He is the subject of an upcoming documentary, ‘Bolokada Conde, Malinke Village Djembefola.’

The performance is hosted in partnership with the Spurlock Museum. This event is sponsored in part by the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

WEBSITE RELAUNCH! Celebrate and Learn on September 22nd.

It's not just a pretty face... the new website has got some smart new features to make everything easier for you! Read about it below and visit the website: http://www.universityymca.org

RELAUNCH CELEBRATION
September 22nd, 3:00-4:00pm
Murphy Lounge
Refreshments Provided.

PHOTOS
There's a fancy new photo slideshow on the front page. All of our photos now link to our unlimited pro Flickr page so you can download pictures for free! In fact, the Y has been digitizing our photo collection extensively this summer. We are asking for your help to identify people, places, and dates. So go ahead and explore... add a comment to a photo if you have some information. You can even order prints. (Alternately, if you see a picture of yourself on the website or on Flickr and would like to have it removed, just contact us and we’ll take care of it.)

GOOGLE ADD ONS
Google forms and calendars minimize the need for downloading pdfs. Information is available more quickly and the format is more user-friendly. Check out our Pledge page or Alternative Orientation Facilitate page to see what these forms look like. Each Y program is associated with a Google Calendar. The most comprehensive of these is our Events Calendar, but they are also available for Friday Forum and Global Lens. You can add any series of our events to your own Google Calendar by clicking on “Add to your google calendar” or just check our site anytime. 

PAYPAL
Student groups can recruit volunteers and request donations from family and friends using PayPal. Although we still prefer that larger donations of $25 or more, including memberships and contributions to our annual fund, go through our Support Us page, PayPal is a convenient way for student groups to garner support from family and friends. Anyone with a PayPal account can donate an amount of their choosing. Because we’re a non-profit, PayPal only deducts thirty cents and 2.2% from each transaction.

VOLUNTEER RECRUITMENT
Our Employment and Volunteering page has been revamped and is ready for student programs to submit requests for volunteers. This is a good place to get information out. Let us know what the event is, how long you’ll be recruiting, and what volunteers will be doing.  

BLOG
Our news feed links directly to this blog. If something interesting is going on or there is a news event at the Y, we can include it in our blog. Right now, Jenni and Kasey are the main authors, but any student group can submit a narrative and photos, or just ideas for upcoming and past events.

TELLING STORIES
The Y has started an oral history project called “Telling Stories.” Right now, we’re featuring three students and a former Y staff member who recently passed away. You can listen to these audio documentaries streaming online or download them for free on our Telling Stories page. If you’d like to tell your story, contact Jenni.  

There's much more to come. Give us your feedback and help us keep the website up to date. 

Special Thanks to:
Paul Young, Electric Pictures
Mike Stephens, YMCA Alum
for their talent and generosity in designing this site.

EMAIL: jenni@universityymca.org with your comments, questions, and suggestions.

Monday, August 29, 2011

SNEAK PEEK! New University YMCA Website


It's not just a pretty face... the new website has got some smart new features to make everything easier for you! Read about it below and get ready to visit the website in just about a week!

***NOTE: Our website will be under construction this week and therefore may be down at times. Please email Jenni at jenni@universityymca.org or call the Y at 217-337-1500 if you need help!

WHAT'S NEW!

PHOTOS
There's a fancy new photo slideshow on the front page. All of our photos now link to our unlimited pro Flickr page so you can download pictures for free! In fact, the Y has been digitizing our photo collection extensively this summer. We are asking for your help to identify people, places, and dates. So go ahead and explore... add a comment to a photo if you have some information. You can even order prints. (Alternately, if you see a picture of yourself on the website or on Flickr and would like to have it removed, just contact us and we’ll take care of it.)

GOOGLE ADD ONS
Google forms and calendars minimize the need for downloading pdfs. Information is available more quickly and the format is more user-friendly. Each Y program is associated with a Google Calendar. You can add a series of events to your own Google Calendar by clicking on “Add to your google calendar” or just check online anytime. The most comprehensive of these is our Events Calendar, but they will also be available for Friday Forum and Global Lens. 

PAYPAL
Student groups can recruit volunteers and request donations from family and friends using PayPal. Although we still prefer that larger donations of $25 or more, including memberships and contributions to our annual fund, will go through our Support Us page, PayPal is a convenient way for student groups to garner support from family and friends. Anyone with a PayPal account can donate an amount of their choosing. Because we’re a non-profit, PayPal only deducts thirty cents and 2.2% from each transaction.

VOLUNTEER RECRUITMENT
Our Employment and Volunteering page has been revamped and is ready for student programs to submit requests for volunteers. This is a good place to get information out. Let us know what the event is, how long you’ll be recruiting, and what volunteers will be doing.  

BLOG
Our news feed links directly to this blog. If something interesting is going on or there is a news event at the Y, we can include it in our blog. Right now, Jenni and Kasey are the main authors, but any student group can submit a narrative and photos.

TELLING STORIES
The Y has started an oral history project called “Telling Stories.” Right now, we’re featuring three students and a former Y staff member who recently passed away. You can listen to these audio documentaries streaming online or download them for free. If you’d like to tell your story, contact Jenni at jenni@universityymca.org.  

There's much more to come. Give us your feedback and help us keep the website up to date. 

Special Thanks to:
Paul Young, Electric Pictures
Mike Stephens, YMCA Alum
for their talent and generosity in designing this site.

EMAIL: jenni@universityymca.org with your comments, questions, and suggestions.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Art @ the Y Trivia: What does a Boyscout ‘Treehouse’ have to do with Astronauts?




Only Denny Anderson knew the answer to that question before he spoke at his Art @ the Y exhibition opening. If you're curious about why a treehouse has become an art exhibition, just wait until you come to the Y and see what he has built with the help of his troop and many volunteer. Simply stated, it’s a work of art.

The Treehouse, also called ‘Green 17’ after the troop that built it, is located at Camp Drake. It’s a four season, 15 bunk, 400 square foot piece of heaven. Quite literally, its green efficiency was can be equated to the earth itself. Every aspect of the treehouse’s construction was informed by the three things that sustain life in the face of cold space and the hot sun: Mass, Glass, and Insulation.

Answer: Mass, Glass, and Insulation

Day-to-night and seasonally, the Earth insulates life. Our atmosphere and the mass of the planet keep temperatures from changing as extremely as they do in space. For instance, Denny informed the crowd that astronauts are subject to temperatures changing between -200 degrees while hidden from the sun and +200 degrees in the light of the sun. Fortunately, the insulating qualities of the earth can be applied to spaceships... and houses!


Unfortunately, as Denny is quick to point out, we are practically divorced from our environment, especially in the way we construct houses. In ancient times, people knew that because things get coldest just before dawn, it’s best to have windows pointed not due south, but 15 degrees east toward the morning sun to take advantage of the first warmth from the rising sun.

“This isn’t PhD work,” Denny remarks, “this is the environment.”

The cabin he has built is so super-insulated that even in the dead of winter it doesn’t need a furnace.

When the home inspectors asked him, “What’s your heat source?” Denny replied, “Boys.”

Because his ceiling is R-100, walls are R-60, and floors are R-40 (three times the normal insulation installed in a house), only 1 BTU is needed to heat the entire place to a comfortable temperature. 15 boyscouts provide a good deal more than 1 BTU of heat.

“But what about in the summertime?” asked a member of the audience, “15 boys also produce a lot of heat when it’s hot out...”

Denny answered, “The easiest way to keep a building cool is not to let it get hot.”

He described the treehouse’s ventilation system, equipped with a radiant attic barrier, vented from top to bottom and cooled through ridge vents. The air conditioning system is also composed of screens and shade. One mature oak is equivalent to 10 tons of A/C and the structure is built solidly among and between tall trees. The best way to keep a place cool in the summer is to open it up at night and close it during the day. If it’s insulated properly, that’s the coolest way to be. In that way, Denny compares modern construction to motorboats, when really we should be building houses more like sailboats, as he has done.

How it was built

Serendipitously. And with great skill. And with a ton of eager volunteers.

At every turn, Denny encountered just what he was looking for at 90% off or donated by a vendor who said “I don’t really know why we kept this around, but you can have it,” and then handed over a well-insulated window or door that fit the cabin perfectly.

On the other hand, what Denny calls serendipity also appears to be shrewd and persistent sense for what local vendors can provide if you know what to ask for. He got a thousand dollar granite cooktop for free because it was cracked. He cut a hole in it, put in a cutting board, and now it’s ready to be a home for propane-powered boyscout cookstoves. But largely, Denny is incredibly grateful for the generosity of all those people who gave materials and discounts, helping to make the construction possible.

Apparently, it was a heck of a lot of fun to build too! Denny says, “Volunteers would call on a Thursday to see if they could help out over the weekend.” Scouting is supposed to be fun, “and you can’t even say ‘treehouse’ without having some fun.”

The skill of the construction and adaptability demonstrated in the use of assorted materials can really only be understood by visiting the cabin or coming by the Y to check out all the photos and materials we have on exhibition. It’s worth a trip.

“I see this as a live-in laboratory, not just for kids but for the adults who come in there.”
Denny laughs and tells us that “even the carmudgeons will say ‘Can I go out to the balcony?’”

The boys who go through the cabin for a week or a weekend come out with a totally different perspective on green building and having a lifestyle that works hand in hand with the environment around us. It’s wheelchair accessible from one side, so really anyone can experience what the treehouse has to offer, and should.

After all, as Denny says, “You get more education by living in it than reading about it.”


What next?

Denny wants other people to build treehouses that also become platforms for learning (and fun). He describes the possibilities, “My hope is that other individuals and units will get involved and do treehouses... I can see them doing a Mirror House that is impossible to find without directions, or an Ewok Village - there’s no limit.”

EXHIBITION OPEN UNTIL OCTOBER 5TH, 2011. M-F 9am-5pm . Murphy Gallery

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Telling Stories: Remembering Ed Nestingen


"Telling Stories" is a new oral history project that is beginning to unravel and explore the rich history of the University YMCA. We're also preserving current history by recording interviews with current Y members, such as student leaders, donors, and staff.

Now, Ed Nestingen, who passed away in February 2011, is memorialized as his life is explored in a two-part Telling Stories episode:


In this episode Jenni Kotting interviews Tom Seals and Becca Guyette, share about Ed - his life, his history at the Y, and some of the struggles that came along with how those two things overlapped. 


Music included in parts 1 and 2 of this non-profit audio documentary: 
Django Reinhardt - Minor Swing
Sufjan Stevens - Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, IL
Sufjan Stevens - Let’s Hear that String Part Again
Sufjan Stevens - In This Temple As In The Hearts Of Manm For Whom He...
Sigur Ros - Samkeyti
Bob Dylan - Oh, Sister (Hard Rain)
Arvo Pärt - Spiegel Im Spiegel
Erik Satie - 3me Gymnopedie. Lent et grave
The Rachels - Tea Merchants

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Newest Art @ the Y Exhibit!


Off-the-Grid Art Opens at the University YMCA:

Denny Anderson’s ‘The Treehouse: Recycled, Repurposed, Reimagined’

See more photos in our Flickr Photoset.


Exhibition Opening
Monday, August 25, 5:00-7:00pm

Presentation by Denny Anderson at 5:30pm
Murphy Gallery @ the Y


Designer, builder and Scoutmaster, Denny Anderson has created a living laboratory of green construction and technology for the Boy Scouts of Camp Drake. His treehouse cabin is built from cast off, donated, reused or repurposed materials and is powered by a passive solar system with a bicycle back-up.


The triangular cabin is built at the edge of a ravine with one of the three cantilevering points touching ground level to provide wheelchair access. Fifteen bunk beds, a loft, food prep and storage spaces provide a compact functional space. Area Boy Scouts will soon be learning about more than knots, tents and campfire building.


This exhibition will be open at the University YMCA from August 19th through early October. Images, blueprints, and materials on display guide visitors through the design and construction of the completely off-the-grid sustainable project that will help to school a new generation of environmentally aware, active and competent young people.

For more information: www.universityymca.org/art

University YMCA, 1001 South Wright Street, Champaign
Exhibition sponsored by: Art @ the Y, an initiative of the University YMCA.

Contact: Ann Rasmus, ann@universityymca.org, 217-337-1500

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Telling Stories: Audio Documentaries Now Available for Streaming

Latest tracks by UniversityYMCA


"Telling Stories" is a new oral history project that is beginning to unravel and explore the rich history of the University YMCA. We're also preserving current history by recording interviews with current Y members, such as student leaders, donors, and staff.

The first three Telling Stories episodes are now available on SoundCloud and can be live streamed, downloaded, and shared easily:


Jenni Kotting, the new Communications Director at the Y, has begun this process of interviewing, editing, and arranging the stories. She has a strong background in sound design, ethnography, and oral history. She says, "When I was hired, I wanted to bring my passion for oral history and archives to the table. I never imagined there would be so many stories to tell, and I've never had so much fun editing down a 90 minute interview into a 15 minute episode." Although she complains that her equipment isn't capable of recording at a professional level, she's happy with the way the stories have come together and proud of the students who shared so deeply during their interviews.

Currently available episodes include:



Martha Webber
Alternative Spring Break Volunteer and Graduate Student
 
Martha Webber, against some major odds, has become both a seminal academic and devoted volunteer. She is the storyteller here, and it’s fitting because that’s her passion as a grad student. Her dissertation is an ethnographic and auto-ethnographic narrative which she describes in detail. Martha came to the Y almost as soon as she came to the University for her grad program. She became co-leader of Alternative Spring Break and her interests shifted both academically and personally towards service learning and civic engagement.

Andrea Rosales
La Colectiva Volunteer and Blogger for Undocumented Rights
 
Andrea didn’t discover she was undocumented until she was in high school when she had to decline a work study position to which she’d been accepted. From that point on, she was on an emotional roller coaster. She felt alone and helpless... until she began to connect with the larger undocumented community through forums and blogging. Now she’s an activist with Y Student Group, La Colectiva. This group of 18 students has put in over 2000 volunteer hours in the past year alone, for which they received the Y’s Outstanding Student Group of the Year Award. Quickly, Andrea became a big part of La Colectiva’s educational outreach, organizing, and action aimed at changing state and national legislation.

Kenny Long
Engineers Without Borders Volunteer and Student Board Member
 
Kenny Long is a leader in Engineers without Borders, and a new student board of governors member. When he came to the University of Illinois, his family in Texas couldn’t believe how far from home he would be. Soon enough, his involvement with the Y would take him even farther... to Africa. Kenny arrived to the village of Ntisaw with other student engineers. You can hear in his voice the affection and respect he developed for the place. He especially admires the way politics and religion played out while the water system was being planned. Listening to Kenny, you can understand why he got attached to Ntisaw. The people, as a community, worked so hard to get fresh water. They saved an improbable amount of money. And when everything went wrong, they did it all over again.