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A Whole New World: St. Croix

The second you get off the plane, you know you are no longer in the states any more. For one you walk straight off the plane and are immediately outside to get your baggage in the open, yet humid, air. Many of the people that would stop us and ask us what we are doing on the island would say “what could you possibly study here?” but with an island rich of history and culture, I do not know how you could go there and not learn something new.

We got a historical tour of Christiansted from a native named Miss V.  She walked us through the area called Free Gut, which was the only area the “freed colors” were able to live. She also talked about how many of the people enslaved were not sold into slavery by their own kind but trusted the wrong people and tricked into thinking they would just be providing a service.

Law enforcement on the island is different than in the states. We were going down the road nearly 30 miles over the “speed limit” without having to worry about being pulled over. While talking with some locals who were fishing on the end of the pier in the restricted area and were asked if we wanted to go with to see, they had said law officials would not do anything about them being there, and they were right, but it was not an idea we were used to. With us having white privilege and a lack of law enforcement, white islanders, and tourists in particular, could get away with a lot without getting in any kind of trouble, slightly different than that of the states.

While on the island we were all assigned work sites. I was assigned to work with the Women’s Coalition, which works with domestic violence and sexual assault survivors. The Women’s Coalition works hard to provide as much support to survivors as they can. One way they do this is with their shelter to allow protection for victims on the island. A unique thing about the shelter is that it is located in the center of town, instead of the middle of nowhere, like shelters in the states, because the community is so tight nit, by having neighbors so close they can keep an eye out for the shelter and the survivors staying there. With St. Croix being a territory and not a state they do not get as much money from the government so they have to fundraise to produce enough money to support all their services. One of their main incomes comes from their thrift store, Closet to Closet. It is similar to a second hand store but is slowly working its way up to feeling more like a typical retail store. The Women’s Coalition offer other services including advocacy, educational programs, and support groups for survivors and their families.

We were able to meet with so many intelligent people on the island all able to bring input and get us to understand our shared history with the enslaved Africans and the long history the island has with it. The extremely knowledgeable Olasee Davis shared multiple articles including one to show how Enslaved Africans freed themselves of slavery by multiple revolts and their final revolt by threatening to burn the entire island.

maroon ridge 2 deanna

(The view from Maroon Ridge. Breathtaking!)

Professor Davis had also taken us on hike to Maroon Ridge, which is beautiful and rich in its history. Maroon Ridge was an area where slaves who had escaped would hide in the cliffs and on the hills, as they had nowhere to run. Many were left with the option of being caught and brutally tortured or jumping from the ridge in the belief that their soul would return to Africa. It was extremely chilling standing at a spot many had once jumped from.

 

mr davis deanna

(Professor Olasee agreed to take a photo with us in front of this old light house.)

Before going to the island we were required to read Voyage of the Sea Turtles by Carl Safina and learned about sea turtles and their interaction with the island. We were fortunate enough to watch a leatherback sea turtle lay her eggs on Sandy Point Beach. The process for the leatherback to lay her eggs is quite lengthy but extremely fascinating to watch.   Our guide was able to answer most of our questions about leatherbacks but there is still so much we do not know about their life in the sea. However, we do know their laying process in that they will go into a state of trans as she digs a hole and begins to lay her eggs. When she finishes laying her eggs she carefully covers them up and begins to mix the sand around it to disguise where she laid them and make her way back to the sea and never get to see her babies.

The island is rich with history and I was so grateful to learn it all and experience it first hand.

-Deanna Hoff

St. Croix: A Journey Through History

The moment I stepped out of the plane in St. Croix I knew that I was in for the experience of a lifetime. The warm sun beating down on my skin and the beautiful palm trees that surrounded me created an atmosphere of pure bliss. The beauty of the island is truly magical, but it was the people and the history of St. Croix that made me fall in love.

My very first night on the island, I attended a town meeting regarding a project to try and recover artifacts from several sunken ships used in the transportation of enslaved Africans believed to be near the island. Although I attended this meeting to learn about the project, I left learning far more about racial stratification. Most people seem to tiptoe around the topic of race, but the people at this meeting spoke from the heart and directly addressed their feelings of frustration about how only white people were standing up there trying to research their history, and their culture. They advocated for wanting to be able to involve their younger generation in this project, as well as the strong desire to keep their history alive on the island. I walked out of the discussion with so many internal questions on, “How would I feel if someone came to try and research my heritage and life being the complete opposite of me?” This question is a very valid one, and also one that has no simple answer. Being able to listen to the islanders, so passionate about their heritage, both recovering from the past and pursuing positions and information for their newer generation, was stunning. This meeting provided the perfect introduction to the culture of the island.

I had the opportunity to visit the St. George Botanical Garden and the Estate Whim Plantation. On these tours I was able visually see the history I was learning about. It’s one thing to read about the slavery on the island, but standing next to the giant sugar mill and witnessing the vastness of the plantations was emotional. Learning about the history of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, and specifically its effect on the island of St. Croix, shaped a large aspect of my travel study.

mill joelle

I also got to go on a walking tour of one of St. Croix’s major towns Christiansted. In 1735, Christiansted was officially founded by Danish West India on behalf of the Danish Monarchy. Race and class were clearly explained and shown in physical location during the walk around Christiansted. For example, the free blacks were only able to live in the part of town called ‘free gut’, which was in the lower and undesirable area of town. In comparison, the white people who had higher rank and class were able live in the elaborate, and elevated American Hill. We can often analyze how race and class affect our daily lives, but witnessing the clear distinction in elevation and quality of housing that divided the races was very eye opening and thought provoking. The walk around the town provided me with an abundance of knowledge and appreciation for the town of Christiansted.

free gut joelle

Another huge aspect of the trip was exploring the environmental causes that are at play in St. Croix and learning the importance of conservation on the island. We had the opportunity to go down to the beach at night and watch a leatherback sea turtle lay her eggs. The leatherbacks are an endangered species currently, and being able to spend the night learning more about them from the people who are working tirelessly to provide a perfect safe haven for them to lay their eggs was moving.

boab tree plaque joelle
“This specimen originated in West Africa, noted as one of the oldest life forms on the planet. These trees provide food, medicine, shelter, and places of worship. This tree is over 250 years old. Under this tree, some of the women who joined Queen Mary Thomas, in the rebellion of 1878 were burned alive.” (St. Croix Historical Preservation Committee).

 

We also had the opportunity to go on a walk to explore and learn about the Baobab tree. If it had not been for this tour and the articles we read prior to the tour, I would have passed by the tree without a clue of the significant role that they play here in St. Croix. The rebellion of 1878, known as Fireburn, was an uprising for better wages and rights for the laborers of sugar plantations. They sought these rights by protesting and burning down multiple plantations along St. Croix. . If it weren’t for all of the influential women and men who fought and suffered to earn their freedom, and their rights for equal pay, there would have been no change or progress. It is very important to pay respect to those who were instrumental in these acts of resistance, and make sure that we continue to educate and empower people to continue acts of resistance when it is needed. During this walk Olasee Davis, an ecologist and professor at the University of the Virgin Islands, shared that he still engages in acts of resistance today when fighting to preserve the natural habitat of St. Croix, particularly the Baobab tree, so that generations to come can also gather by the tree and know the significance.

boab tree joelle
A huge Baobab tree we saw on our tour.

My time spend in St. Croix has forever changed my life. I had the opportunity to dig right in and experience all the amazing history of the island. I analyzed the privileges that I carry, while also doing deep reflection to interpret discrepancies between other races, classes, and genders and how that affects life on the island. They say that after traveling you will never be completely home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere.

 -Joelle Beyer

My Time in St. Croix

St. Croix Alana

This past May I was given the opportunity to travel to the beautiful Island of Saint Croix in the Virgin Islands. Saint Croix is apart of the Virgin Islands, which is a territory of the United States. The people I met and everything I learned is an experience that I will never forget. I’ve never learned so much as I did on this travel study. We learned about everything; from culture to wildlife, to the individuals we met, to ourselves.

Slavery played a huge role in the history of Saint Croix. Like the United States, many of the enslaved people were brought over from Africa. For over 2 centuries from the 1730’s to the 1960’s, enslaved Africans and freed African laborer’s powered plantations on the island.

There are many similarities in slavery between the United States and Saint Croix. There were some differences though. In the United States, enslaved Africans had the Underground Railroad and people willing to help them get to safety. Running away was extremely dangerous, but there was hope. There was nowhere to go on the island besides up.

lighthouse alana

Olasse Davis, a professor and native to Saint Croix, took us on a hike to Maroon Ridge. When enslaved Africans would run off, they would hide in caves along this ridge. When they were being found, or believed they were being found, they would jump into the water below. They didn’t believe they were committing suicide, instead their souls were going back to Africa. Sometimes, if you were captured, they would cut off your head and place them throughout the trail to try to frighten other run-aways. If they jumped, and survived the jump, they would attempt to swim to Puerto Rico, which is about 40 miles away. As more and more people would die, however, the water became infested with sharks and the trek became more risky.

 maroon ridge alana

One of my absolutely favorite days was spent outside walking around Christiansted. Ms. V, a schoolteacher on the island, took our group on a walk through the town and was incredibly knowledgeable on the history of Saint Croix. Ms. V, being so insightful, inspired me to want to do my own research on my own family history. We went to an area referred to as “Free Gut”. This was an area where the freed Africans lived. To be considered “free”, you had to be Christian and you had to be part of the military.
free gut house alana

This is a picture of three of the homes. Yes, that is three different homes. Each set of stairs leads to a different home.

 

The homes were 30 feet by 30 feet. After some time they could upgrade to 30 feet by 70 feet but that is still very little space, especially for a family. This neighborhood is placed at the bottom of the hill, and the Whites lived above them on the top of the hill. At all times, the freed Africans had to have their cards with their identification that stated that they were free and had to be able to prove it.
While there, I chose to work at an Early Head Start program on the Island. As an education major and a 7-year nanny, it was amazing to see the difference in childcare.

early head start alana
The center was in Christiansted. There were 5 of us placed here. The center has a 4:1 child to teacher ratio policy. They have 6 classrooms at this center and each classroom can hold up to 8 children at a time.

 

They are very sanitary in the Early Head Start Program. When you enter a classroom you must put booties on, wash and sanitize your hands, all before entering the room. If you are changing a diaper, whipping a nose or mouth of a child, you must wear gloves and you must change the gloves with each new child. During naptime each day the teachers bleach each toy that was played with that morning so that germs are not being spread. Children have their own cot for naptime with a blanket that gets sanitized each evening as well. Because the center has a play-based curriculum they want the floor and all of the toys to stay as clean and sanitary as possible.

 

The play-based curriculum means the children have time to explore and learn things on their own. The children are provided with breakfast, lunch, and a snack each day. After breakfast the kids have time to roam around the classroom and play. In the 2-3 year old classroom there was a mini lesson connected with an art project completed after their playtime. The teachers based their lessons on what the student’s interests were. One of the days I was there, they were learning about creatures in the sea and a little boy liked Octopi, so the teachers taught a lesson about Octopi. I loved that the children had so much say in what happened in the classroom.

 

The children were so responsible. Each child is given their own chair and spot at the table and their own plate. They encourage the children to eat on their own and have proper posture. After every meal they have the children brush their teeth.

 

The teachers don’t say “no” to the children. If a child is doing something wrong they redirect them. For instance, if a child is throwing blocks, you grab the block and ask them if they want to make a tower with you. I find it easy to quickly yell “No”; however, the children here are instructed to continue to be children. If a child is crying they ask what is wrong, and they allow them to finish crying. Children cry, so let them cry.

 

I am so incredibly thankful for the time I spent on the island. I cannot believe how much I learned about St. Croix, culture, history, and myself in just 18 days. I hope one day be able to return because there is still so much I need to learn.

 

-Alana Nelson

 

 

A Fiery Adventure in St. Croix

kyler
(The sunset from our last day on the island.)

 

This summer, I got the chance to participate on a travel study to the island of St. Croix in the Virgin Islands. I was emerged in the culture for 18 days, participating in learning with the Woman’s Coalition of St. Croix. Through my work and my personal experiences on this island, I learned a lot about systematic injustices and a lot that correlates with race, class, and gender.

Our group participated in a meeting about uncovering and discovering wrecked enslaved ships on the first day. This  project is to discover artifacts from sunken slave ships around the shores. During the meeting, a woman brought up her concerns with using the words “slave” ship. She encouraged a renaming of the project to no longer including the word “slave” in their projects title. Another man, brought up an interesting point that “wealth, power, and destinies” were up to the people on the island of St. Croix to decide. The goal of the project is to bring in more history to the narratives of the island.

I learned about the different terminology of the word “slavery” verses the words “enslaved people”. A slave is an object or property, while an enslaved person is a person forced to be a slave. Language makes a big difference. They want people to use the correct terminology and have an open mine to understanding when learning about a new culture.

Our group took a small tour around the town of Frederiksted, one of the two towns on the island. We saw a statue of General Buddhoe, who helped create the emancipation for St. Croix. Buddhoe helped lead a revolt to freedom and he gave orders that no white person was to be killed. This statue shows the struggles that many went through in order to get emancipated. The statues are consciously placed around the pier to show how proud the people of St. Croix are of their history.

At our work site, we got to hear different perspectives about culture from Clema Louise, the director of Woman’s Coalition. Because the community is very small and everyone knows everyone, the issues of domestic violence and rape are hard to face. Every community approaches the problem of systematic injustices differently. She described how there is a need to include men around the conversation around the issues of battered women. She told us how the Woman’s Coalition of St. Croix’s power and control wheel of violence model, used to address issue of gender-based violence’s, is modeled around Duluth Minnesota’s. However, the model that St. Croix has is adjusted to be culturally sensitive to the communities.

Instead of working one day, my work group had the chance to observe court to see how St. Croix runs their judicial system. It was very nice to engage within court of a different culture. The judge was very open to hear both sides of the stories in small claims court. She was kind of like a counselor in a way while also being the judge.

The travel study group got a creative lesson about the history of St. Croix by going on a walking tour of the Whim Plantation. The actors were interesting to see. A woman sung songs about enslaved people. Her singing told the history of the island and about how the enslaved people got their freedom. She sang about the history of the three queens who led the uprising of St. Croix. In the book Divers Information on the Romantic History of St. Croix: From the time of Columbus until Today by Florence Lewisohn, it describes the story behind the singer’s song. The book says that the three queens (Queen Mary, Queen Agnes, and Queen Matilda) lead labor riots in revolts against injustices. At first, I thought it was going to be very uncomfortable to watch the locals reenact scenes of enslaved people working around the plantation. This was not the case.

kyler2
(Here is a huge Boabab tree in front of one of the run down plantations.)

 

On my seventh night, I had an amazing opportunity to spin fire with Kiki Mason from Kiki and the Flaming Gypsies came to visit me at Cottages by the Sea. That’s right, I am a fire dancer. I have been spinning fire poi for two years now! Kiki and I had a deep conversation about life and how you have to trust and believe in yourself. This was a very enlightening conversation to me, because when you are about to graduate, you tend to think about life a lot. Kiki told me that life would take you by the wind into the direction you are meant to go, and those words have followed me back to Winona.

9bbcae0ba8cf176222dbaeabf950ee8c

(One of the fire dancers from Kiki and the Flaming Gypsies)

 

While on our trip, students from another University was staying in St. Croix as well. The students from this school said something that bothered me. What they said reminded me of the “white savior complex”. They traveled with a male professor and he made a comment about how he thought that “with the help of his students” that they could truly make a difference on the island.” Their comments made me uncomfortable because I know that WSU came to St. Croix as humble people to experience a culture unlike our own. The students from the other university were there to “help” people, but not necessarily learn from the culture like we were.

The class got up at 4am, traveled across the whole island, and watched the sunrise at Point Udall. It was the last time this class would be soaking up the sun together like that. It was a very powerful experience and I am glad I got the privileged to go. I almost did not get on the plane to return to Minnesota! I had to though, so I could bring two Cruzan dogs from St. Croix (which is a kill shelter) to a “no kill” foster care home in Minneapolis.

kyler and dogs
(The two dogs I was able to rescue. Aren’t they cute!)

 

Now only one question remains- when do I go back?

-Kyler Steffe

St.Croix: More Than Paradise

Blaire's St. Croix Picture
(The view from Maroon Ridge.)

 

The U.S Virgin Islands are known as America’s Paradise in the Caribbean. The sun is always shining, the water is a brilliant blue and the concept of “island time” is alive and well. Travel sites advertise the many attributes of these beautiful islands in hopes to hook tourists in. I was lucky enough to visit the island of St. Croix and experience the many attractions. However, I got to experience what most tourists do not get the chance to, an inside look on St. Croix’s rich history and culture.

St. Croix is the largest of the Virgin Islands sitting just 120 miles from Puerto Rico, another U.S territory. The island itself has been under different leadership including Spain, Netherlands, Knights of Malta, Great Britain, France, Denmark and the United States. The Danish in particular were a major influence in the Transatlantic Slave Trade that included the island of St. Croix. The enslaved population of the island during this time included around 20,000 people.

The population today is around 50,000 with the main ethnic groups being Afro-Caribbean, Puerto Rican and Caucasian. Many Crucian family lineages come from people who were enslaved under Danish rule. Many places on St. Croix have history that was sacred for people who were enslaved. Maroon Ridge is just one of these places.

Maroon Ridge has a long history as a sanctuary dating back to 1650. Maroons were enslaved people who ran away to the northwest hills, later known as Maroon Ridge. The enslaved people would escape slavery and either jump off a cliff to commit suicide or attempt to sail to Puerto Rico on a piece of wood. If caught, they  would be tortured or killed.

Something I observed on the island, that is lacking in the United States, was the connectedness of the people with the past. As we sat in a community meeting, I noticed many members taking notes and being involved in the presentation. The presentation was for a project called The African Slave Wrecks Project. The project focused on finding sunken ships that were carrying enslaved people during the Transatlantic Slave Trade Era. The community members at the meeting spoke about their concerns for this project and implications it has.

The building we were in was one of the first stops a person who was enslaved would make before being sold to plantation owners. The Crucians on the island are very connected to the history of the island and even trace back their family lineage for generations. This is not a situation I have observed in people not of African descent.This connectedness could come from the strong will their ancestors had. It is known on the island that people that were enslaved freed themselves. In the article, “St. Croix slaves freed themselves” written by Professor Olasee Davis, he explains that revolts by enslaved people began shorty after slavery started on the island. They revolted so long and so hard, that in 1848, Governor Peter Von Scholten had no choice but to free the enslaved people, or else the island was going to go up in flames.

While on the island, our group had the chance to participate in many tourist activities. We went on a catamaran tour (which is a huge boat), snorkeling, SCUBA diving, and turtle watching. Even though much of the islands population are people of color, non-native white people ran most of the tourist attractions. It is interesting that the main native populations, Crucians, are not represented highly in the tourist industry.

The island of St. Croix is truly a paradise and if given the chance, everyone should visit. There is plenty of fun in the sun activities to complete, and the island is enriched with so much culture and history. So take a trip out to the island, visit the sacred spaces and interact with the people of St. Croix. I promise you will not be disappointed.

 

-Blaire Dallman

How an Earthquake in Nepal Affects Us All

Stop by Kryzsko Commons and show your support for those affected by the Nepal earthquake, like Sourab and his sister, Supriya.

Stop by Kryzsko Commons and show your support for those affected by the Nepal earthquake, like Sourab and his sister, Supriya.

On April 25, one of the most powerful earthquakes took place in Nepal. This 7.8 magnitude earthquake impacted the whole country of Nepal and it’s neighboring countries too. It claimed the lives of over 5,000 people. While this earthquake happened close to eight thousand miles away from us, it has had an impact on people all over the world, including a few students from our very own Winona State University.

My friend Sourab Bhatta, a junior, is one of those students. He is from Kathmandu, Nepal and came to WSU three years ago to pursue a business degree. After the news headlines about the tragic earthquake, I talked to him about how he personally is handling the crisis back at home. Though the news was shocking and upsetting, Sourab is working through his difficult emotions by taking steps to support his friends and family back in Nepal them even though he is far away.

What was your first reaction when you heard about the earthquake?

I was shocked at first, because I never expected the news. It totally came as a surprise. It was 6am when a friend texted me about the news.

How has the earthquake affected you even though you are Winona, MN?

It affected me because some of my relatives’ houses collapsed in the earthquake. Also, people I’d known for a while had died in this event. It’s really personal; it’s really close to my heart.

Have you been able to contact your family? How are your friends doing?

I have been able to call my family and they’ve been calling me too. The first few days were tough because they didn’t have telephone lines or electricity. But the next few days, it got better. My friends are doing okay. Most of them have been living outside in tents–even in the rain. It’s wet, and they’re all outside.

Is that the reason for the tent and the fasting?

Yes, I wanted to be able to experience what they are going through also. And along with living in tents, a lot of people don’t have food back home. There’s a scarcity and a lot of people are hungry. Fasting is my way of showing that I support them and let them know that I am praying for them.

What would you suggest for those who want to be actively involved in helping out with this?

A few ways people can be involved is by reaching out to the people in Nepal through working with an organization, donating, or even just praying about it or sending notes of support to families in Nepal.

His story also made me think about how this earthquake impacted myself. I was impacted because I knew someone who was directly affected, Sourab, but I also realized I was impacted because it affected India, the country where I was born, which received aftershocks that killed several dozen people. While it is harder for me to identify with my country of birth since I did not live there very long, it still hurt when I realized over 50 people from India died. Listening to Sourab talk about how this earthquake affected everyone in Nepal and himself personally was very moving, and made me want to support Nepal more than ever before.

Sourab and a few others will be hosting a vigil at the Winona State University gazebo on today from 6-7pm. This will be a way to remember those whose lives were claimed by the tragic event, and I encourage you all to attend. If you’d like to make a donation to relief efforts,  WSU alumnus Amit Khanal has set up the Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund to assist relief efforts in Nepal.

–Sharna Miller

Already Reduce, Reuse and Recycle? 10 More Tips for Sustainable Living at WSU

The environmental movement in the United States began, and as such most of us ’90s kids remember learning about Earth Day and recycling in schools. In fact, I’ll bet you can list off the three R’s as easily as you can name the seven titles in the Harry Potter series or the lyrics to the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song.

But what more can you do if you already reduce, reuse and recycle? The answer is lots! Here are just 10 ways you can be even more sustainable as a student at WSU:

1. Print Double-Sided

challenge accepted meme
This is a pretty obvious way to save trees and be more sustainable. All of the printers on campus have the ability to print on both sides of the paper, you just have to change the settings on your laptop whenever you print something. “I don’t know how” is not a good enough excuse because the WSU Technology Knowledge Base even provides instructions on how to do so on both a Mac and a PC.

2. Skip the Packs of Bottled Water

water bottle filling station
Plastic water bottles are wasteful, cost money, and you simply don’t need them in your life. What college student can afford to buy a pack of bottled water all the time? A better option is to have your own refillable water bottle. There are many water fountains on campus that make filling up your water bottle very easy and convenient. Some even keep track of how many plastic water bottles we have saved. How cool is that? Save money, save plastic water bottles, make life easy – you won’t regret getting a refillable water bottle!

3. Live in Kirkland or New Center

water-efficient toilets
Did you know that the toilets in Kirkland and New Center are energy efficient? They have two flush-types that use different amounts of water, so if conserving energy and water with a toilet is important to you, living here is a good option!

4. Avoid Plastic Bags

plastic bag blown by wind
Plastic bags are not a sustainable option, but unfortunately it’s what most stores use to package your purchases. However, there are other options. Winona’s own Midtown Foods bags all of your groceries in paper bags. This is definitely better than using plastics bags, but there is an even better option–reusable bags! Often made of canvas, cloth or heavy plastic, reusable bags are easy to find and once you pick up a few all you have to do after that is remember to bring them with you whenever you go grocery shopping.

5. Walk or Ride a Bike to Class

dog riding bike

Depending on how far away you live or what the weather is doing, it is a brilliant idea to just walk or ride bike to campus. There a many bike racks dispersed throughout campus, so it makes it very convenient to just park your bike close to where your class is. Not only is this good for the environment, it also obviously saves you money for gas and car repairs, not to mention it’s an easy way to add some extra exercise into your daily life.

6. Use Cloth Towels instead of Paper Towels

paper towels v. rags

It’s as simple as trading out those paper towel rolls on the counter for a drawer of cloth towels. Paper towels are wasteful and they cost money to purchase over and over but cloth towels can just as easily get the job done. You don’t even have to purchase special towels either; an old t-shirt can be re-purposed as a kitchen rag!

7. Take Advantage of Recycling Bins on Campus

recycling containers
Ever notice how awesome our recycling bins on campus are? They even have open spaces made for recycling paper and for recycling bottles to make it super easy to decide what item goes where. Both of these are next to every trash can, so there is no excuse for throwing your paper or bottles into the trash.

8. Dispose of Pizza Boxes Properly

cat with pizza
Finals are coming up fast and this means one important thing: PIZZA! Most people assume that pizza boxes are recyclable. While the boxes in and of themselves are recyclable, once it is contaminated by all of that delicious grease and cheese, the box is no longer recyclable. A good option for this is to remove the contaminated portions of it and then recycle the rest.

9.  Sell or Donate Your Stuff at the End of the Year

first world problem meme

Just as finals are quickly approaching, so is the end of the school year. Often students want to get rid of a lot of their belongings so there is less to pack up and schlepp home. While the residence halls provide huge dumpsters for garbage we don’t need, if your stuff is still in decent condition it’s a better option is to sell it or give it away. Just because you don’t want it anymore doesn’t mean someone else won’t. Post your stuff for sale on Wazoo’s List and see if someone else wants what you don’t anymore.

10. Decorate Your Room

aluminum cans recycled into lanterns

Photo credit: Star Online

Now I know most of you are not thinking about next year yet, but if you are, there are many ways that you can turn recyclable items into decorations for your room. For instance, you can create lanterns and tea light holders out of aluminum cans. But those are just a few ideas, and there are many more tutorials out there on the web–as if you needed an excuse to peruse Pinterest, amiright?

–Cassandra Peterson

WSU is Taking Back the Night

Take Back the Night poster

Ever since I’ve been a student here at WSU, I have made it a point to attend Take Back the Night every spring. It’s an event put together by the women’s rights/feminist clubs and groups in order to raise awareness about gender-based violence and to shatter the silence around it.

Part of Take Back the Night is a speak-out where survivors can share their stories about sexual and domestic violence so that people can understand their experiences and become more aware of the severity of the issues. This can also be a time of self-discovery and healing for many people and I’ve experiences a lot of community building as an attendee. After the speak out portion of the event, attendees march around Winona to serve as both a walk for empowerment and a way to raise more awareness in the larger Winona community.

As I said, I’ve attended the event for the last few years and I plan to attend again this year! The event is this Thursday and I know this year will be just as powerful as the last. As someone who knows many survivors of gender based violence, this event is something that really hits me emotionally. I love that I can go and show the people who bravely share their stories that I am there to support them, even if it is as a stranger in the audience, standing in solidarity is something I don’t take for granted as I help my peers overcome their struggles.

As this event rolls around, I am also reminded of my experience getting trained as a certified PACTivist through the REinitiative program at WSU, and I think that having that new knowledge will bring a new light as I attend the event this year. I think that Take Back the Night is something that people of all backgrounds because whether you have experiences gender based violence, know someone who has, or are completely unfamiliar with the issue, it’s an important night to be a part of. You learn, not only about others, but also sometimes even about yourself.

–Garrett Bowling

DIY Earth Day Crafts

aluminum cans recycled into lanterns

Photo credit: Star Online

With Earth Day right around the corner and spring weather among us, the memory of those winter months might still be putting you in a dreary mood… Don’t worry though! With a few recycled materials and a little craftiness, you can put any residence hall or bedroom into the mood of spring! Instead of tossing your bottles or cans, why not turn them into cute decorations to spruce up your room? Here are a couple great ways you can recycle your pop cans and water bottles by turning them into something fun!

Aluminum Can Lantern and Tea Light Holder (found on Star Online)

What you need:

  • 2 aluminum soda cans
  • Wire – 30cm
  • Cutter and small pliers
  • Screwdriver
  • Piercing tool
  • Black marker
  • Dish cloth
  • Basin
  • Tea lights

To Make a Lantern:

  1. Pull the tab to open the can, taking care to leave the tab intact. Rinse the can and fill it with tap water. Freeze it for six to eight hours.
  2. Lay the frozen can on a piece of folded dish cloth and keep wiping it as you work on it. If the tab was detached when you opened the can, pierce two holes on opposite side of the top of the can.
  3. Use the black marker to draw 12 equally spaced dots around the can, 2cm from the top edge. Draw another set of 12 dots corresponding to the top dots on the lower part of the can, also 2cm from the bottom.
  4. Lightly mark a cutting line to join a top dot to the bottom dot, which is on the right of the one directly beneath it. Draw it in a slight S-curve. Join all the top dots to the bottom ones in the same way. Follow the lines to cut through the can with the cutter. Take care to hold the can firmly with your left hand.
  5. Leave the can inside a basin for the ice to melt. Wipe it dry.
diagram to construct lantern

Photo credit: Star Online

  1. Light press the top of the can downwards to open the cuts. As you do that, slip the screwdriver inside a slit to press onto the bottom of a strip of the can to shape it outwards. Repeat for all the strips to shape the can into a lantern.
  2. Turn the can upside down and press onto the strips in the same way, to obtain an equally balanced lantern shape.
  3. Place the lantern in both hands and twist it slightly, pressing inwards a little.
  4. Pass the wire through the set of holes at the top of the lantern. Bring the ends together to form a loop before twisting into a hook for hanging. If the tab is intact, use it to hang the lantern.

To Make a Tea Light Holder:

Follow the same steps for making the lantern but do not pierce the set of holes at the top of the can. (Note: The body of the orange can is cut in straight lines unlike the lanterns, which has lines cut in S-curves.)

diagram to construct tea light holder

Photo credit: Star Online

  1. Cut out two strips from the can to make a wide opening. Use the pliers to bend the cut sharp edges of the top and bottom of the opening inwards.
  2. Use the top of the can as the base instead since it is flatter than the base. Place a tea light in the upside down can.

Remember, never leave the light unattended. If you live in the residence halls, you can still use these in your rooms! Just use a flame-less tea light candle.

Plastic Water Bottle Art Spirals (found on Washington Post)

What you need:

  • 1 plastic water bottle
  • Paint
  • Glitter, stickers, etc.

To Make the Water Bottle Spirals:

  1. Take your water bottle and take any paper that is wrapped around it and take it off.
  2. Cut the bottom off the end of your water bottle. Paint your entire water bottle before starting to cut. Let the paint dry completely.
  3. To make a spiral design, start at the bottom and cut on a slight diagonal. This can be tricky and take some practice. Decorate your spiral design, using different color paints, glitter and even stickers can help create cool designs.
  4. Tie a string around the top of your bottle and hang for decoration
Kids making plastic water bottle spirals

Photo credit: Washington Post

With the dreary weather coming to an end, here’s hoping that these recycled decorations will help boost your spirit, Warriors!

–Allison White

The Humane Thing To Do

woman and a dog

We’ve all seen the Sarah McLachlan commercials on TV about hurt and abandoned animals. We all want to help, but don’t know how. Well, my Speech class had to figure that out on our own.

At the beginning of the semester, our professor, Dr. Susan Hatfield, gave us a challenge: double the money I give you. She gave the 6 groups each $20 to raise money for the Humane Society here in Winona. She did this with the other two public speaking classes the same challenge and actually does this project every year, just with different causes.

With the $20, we could do anything! Well, nothing illegal, of course, so people sold puppy chow, went door-to-door asking for change, did trash for cash, sold cupcakes and even snow cones. My group put on a movie night for friends. We sat around, ate puppy chow, drank soda and watched movies about animals.

My friends at movie night

We didn’t have a huge turn out but we had fun anyway!

It was a great time, and my group doubled our money and then some! We plan on buying some toys with the extra money and bring them to the Humane Society on Friday.

But stuff like this shouldn’t just be done for a letter grade. The Humane Society is always looking for volunteers, always looking for donations and always looking for help.

I have always wanted to help out at a shelter, and because of this project I am finally going to go through with that plan. I suggest the rest of you don’t wait.

–Rachel Adam