CMC goes to Cuba! March 8-17, 2013

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Community, Beauty, History, Culture, Dignity, Acceptance, Patience and a healthy dose of music and dancing….

These are the words i would use to describe my impression of Cuba and it’s people.

Want to know more about the trip?

Join myself and my fellow travelers on April 16th at 6:30 pm in the auditorium at the Alpine campus, where we will be sharing our stories and reflections about our experience. We will also be providing Cuban food (we can only hope to compare to the real thing), sharing our photos, and of course don’t forget the music.

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These guys will not be playing at the presentation, unfortunately. Something about a trade embargo….

Intro to World Philosophy…

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The Artichoke view of what it means to be human states that there is no essential ‘core’ or seed that make us who we are. Instead humans are made up of layers. They are able to change and choose which layer is best for any given situation, and in this way we are the masters of our own destiny.  The upside to this is that we are free to choose any path we can imagine, do whatever we want, make any choices we see fit. The downside is that we must then take responsibility for our actions, there is no outside force for us to blame if things don’t work out the way we imagined. We must choose, and then take responsibility for our choices.

The other idea about what it means to be human is called the Avocado view. It states that like an avocado, if you peel away all the layers of a human there is an inner core, an essential being that contains all the information about what makes you, you; such as a seed, or the pit of an avocado. Because of this core, your response to a given situation is predictable, and who you are is predetermined. The upside to this view is that you have the possibility of eternal life because your essence is preserved in what we call the soul.

In class i was assigned to pick one of the above camps of thought, write about it and explain why i chose it;

Nothing about who I am has ever seemed constant. By this I mean I have always been painfully aware of the masks I put on in different situations.  At first it seemed to me the easiest way to get through life, putting on a different face for every situation, but then I began to wonder which face was really ‘me.’ I could never answer that question, and because no single one of them ever seemed more like ‘me’ than the others, I decided that they were all equal representations of  myself that add up to my whole being. When I read the artichoke view of the human self, this idea that I had always wrestled with became clear.  Each layer we put on in a different situation is merely a piece of us. To understand who we really are all the layers need to be analyzed as a whole. These layers are essential to survival in the modern world.  If one approached work with the same mentality and attitude as they approach personal life, they would not get very far. Equally they persona you present at work is not the ideal version of self to present in an intimate environment. Humans have layers because we must.

Cuba Week two

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this is what we are considering this week reguarding my trip to Cuba

 

How would you describe the U.S. position towards the Cuban Revolution? 

The text states that by the end of the 20th Century, 10% of the Cuban population had left the country, mostly for the U.S (page 91). How has this exodus affected the politics and culture of both Cuba and the U.S.?

In terms of foreign policy, what roles has Cuba played in the developing world, particularly in Africa and Latin America?

In his 1961 “Words to Intellectuals” speech, Fidel Castro characterized government support for cultural production this way: “Within the revolution, everything.  Outside the revolution, nothing.” What did he mean by that? 

Student Profile, Kailey Fischer

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I had the unique pleasure of spend my first out door class with this girl a little over a year ago. She is one of the most genuine and smiley-est people i have ever met. Since then i have only had a few short interactions with Kailey, however my initial impression stands. When i was considering which student i wanted to talk to for this little series, she immediately came to mind. People like Kailey are what make this valley great. In an effort to get the best glimpse of her how she came to be at CMC and Where is her favorite place she has traveled?

Here is what she had to say:

I was fortunate enough to grow up in this small but great town of Steamboat Springs. Growing up here, I never imagined I would stick around for a while after graduating and that leaving, would be so difficult for me. Steamboat has always held a special place in my heart, however, it wasn’t until after graduating high school that I realized my true love and appreciation for my hometown. A few years back, if you were to ask my high-school-self, my plans after graduation, I’d say, my plan is to go to a 4-year school college to ski and major in something general; as I had no clue what career I’d like to someday pursue. Weeks before senior year, I was offered an amazing opportunity to live in Austria for a semester. In order to spend a semester abroad, my parents asked the I would change my first-year college plans to attend the University of Utah and stay in Steamboat and start school at CMC. A destiny in disguise, I initially wasn’t thrilled with my parents request. To spend a semester in Austria was my dream though, so a year a CMC was fine by me. I am a strong believer that everything happens for reason because attending CMC was truly meant to be. Quickly into my first year at CMC, I realized how great the school is and fell in love with everything it has to offer. I am currently on my 3rd year of school here and plan on graduating by the end of this summer. This year and last, I took my first semesters off and traveled first, India and Nepal and have recently returned from Southeast Asia where I traveled; Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. All the places I’ve traveled the past few years are very diverse from one another but were commonly impacting and wonderful. It is difficult deciding my favorite place I’ve traveled, everywhere I’ve been, has become uniquely special to me. Surprisingly, my favorite place I’ve traveled is India, specifically, Varanasi. “Varanasi is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together,” Mark Twain explains rightfully, Varanasi is one of the oldest living cities in the world. As the religious capital of India, Varanasi is holiest place of the Hindu world and very sacred to Buddhists. The restless, crowded, very old, maze of a city, rests on the banks of the Ganga, the holiest of rivers. Every Hindu hopes to visit Varanasi at least once in a lifetime. The city is always so alive and full of emotion. Along the banks of the Ganga, there are Hindus taking a holy dip at a sacred ghat, which is one of the couple hundred staircases that lead to the river banks. It is every Hindus ideal sacred journey to die of old age in Varanasi and be cremated on the banks of the Ganga. In this environment, I had such heavy feelings but began to realize how beautiful it was. My time in Varanasi sparked a realization on how truly sacred life and death is. Being there, I felt more emotion than ever, and my mind became so open to so many foreign ideas. I absolutely fell in love with Varanasi, as it left an everlasting impression on me. Varanasi is all things; colorful, beautiful, powerful, thought-provoking, ancient and sacred. “The greatest trips by the end, answer questions, that in the beginning, weren’t even being asked.”

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The set up

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My Current Political Issues class starts this Friday. This is a study abroad course that meets every Friday between now and march 8th. At which time we will embark on our ten day journey to somewhere I honestly never even considered going. In fact for the Majority of my life I believed this place to be dangerous; ruled by a corrupt and suppressive dictator. I was told it was an unfortunate country, which fought hard for their independence only to be thrust deep in the clutches of the worst kind of communism: and its architect, Fidel Castro.

When I was 16 I saw an episode of the T.V show Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations in which he went to Cuba. It was not as I expected, barren, people starving everywhere, extreme poverty. But instead I beheld a tropical land full of music and food and smiling people. Needless to say my curiosity was spiked.

Not too long after that I started hanging out with a girl named Jill Lopez who went to school with me. Somehow in conversation Cuba came up and she said that her father is from Cuba! Now there was something, a firsthand account. She went on to say that the only people in Cuba who seriously disapprove of the country’s communist government are the rich who lost a lot of money and land during the conversion.

This made me even more curious; however as an American citizen the likelihood of me going to Cuba was very slim. And so this mysterious place slipped out of my mind, until…

Bob Gumbrecht, a brilliant CMC professor told me he was taking a class there.

These are the questions we are considering in our first class on Friday:

 

  • What are some of the underlying principles of the Cuban Revolution?
  • What do you think are the essential differences between capitalism and socialism?
  • Discuss U.S. political, military, and economic influence in Cuba between independence from Spain in 1898 and the Cuban Revolution in 1959.
  • What was Che Guevara’s contribution to the Cuban Revolution and what legacy has he left for those seeking radical change in Latin America?
  • Discuss the nature of Cuba’s “economic backwardness” at the time of the Cuban Revolution in 1959.
  • Compare and contrast the character and initiative of the Cuban Revolution in the decades of the 1960s and 1970s.

A question of Balance

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Thanks to Keary Eaton for the Photo

                      This last semester I worked myself into quite the tizzy over genetically engineered foods. Biotechnology has enormous potential and it is up to us to decide what direction it takes. Equal are the possibilities that biotechnology will be the savior of the human race, providing the means for a high quality of life for untold numbers of people, or it will alter the biosphere in ways that make it unlikely for recognizable life, especially excessive amounts of human life, to continue.

Food, which is one of the great pleasures in my life, became a uniquely stressful experience. More than one time I got so stressed out in the grocery store I literally shed a few tears. Eating at restaurants is all but out of the question. I went from spending about 30 dollars at the store every 3 days to spending 50. On election day, when Proposition 37 requiring the labeling of genetically modified food so concerned consumers like me could better protect ourselves failed, I literally sat down and cried, and not only for a little while either, all night. Since then there has been one similar emotional breakdown over the dangers GMOs pose to both me and my loved ones, but also my mother earth.

But then I remembered something from my first semester at CMC. Words first spoken by Edward Abby, shared with me by John Saunders, head of the Outdoor department:

“One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast….a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.”

You will learn a lot of things here that you were more comfortable not knowing. And they are going to drive you crazy, and make you question the way you live your life, which is an enormously uncomfortable process. Embracing the new mind set offered through the knowledge shared here results in spiritual, emotional, and intellectual growth which I never imagined. Fighting the good fight for our earth is stressful but oh so necessary, however remember to save half of yourself for pleasure, because you will outlive your enemies, and you will enjoy your life all the more. What could be sweeter than that?

How Communism resulted in Jam Bands, which are extraordinarily popular in Steamboat.

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Communism had a profound effect on nearly every aspect of life in America during the last half of the twentieth century. First and foremost are the political effects such as Containment and the Truman doctrine. There is also the habit of lying to the people the government developed during the Korean and Vietnamese conflicts. Perhaps the most lingering effects communism had on America in the last half of the twentieth century were the increased mistrust of the Unites States government and the subsequent rise of the American counterculture that resulted from the combined strain of both the Korean and Vietnam wars had on the American people. The counterculture gave rise to many things; most dominate in today’s society being jam bands. The American government’s response to the threat of communism set the stage for the rise of the Hippie movement in the last half of the twentieth century along with their new kind of music.

The Korean War undoubtedly set the foundation for the hippie revolution by planting the first seeds of mistrust for United States officials and introduced the baby-boomers to the horrors of war. Still being young, they did not fight in this conflict however they still bore witness to the impact of the Korean War through their family members and communities who were involved. The situation in Korea had been worsening for a long time. After the country was split into two at the 11th parallel line, Communist North Korea was being rebuilt by the Soviets, while South Korea was left to the United States. By this time, our nation was honor bound by the Truman Doctrine to support people worldwide defending themselves from communism. The doctrine pledged the United States to  “assist free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.”[1] The doctrine called for the US to provide “money and aid’ to countries threatened by communism. It was not until the North Koreans invaded South Korea with the intention of killing the president and taking South Korea for the communists that America became actively involved in the conflict. The Korean War could have been less violent if it were not for one man, General Douglas McAurthur, and his blind fear of communism. General McAurthur, ignored the orders from the president to say on the south side of the 38th parallel, the line that divides North and South Korea. Unauthorized attacks in North Korea continued until president Truman finally fired General McAurthur the next spring. The damage was done however, and 50,000 Americans died in Korea. This event planted the first seeds of mistrust for high-ranking officials in America and by extension, cultural rebellion in the future hippie revolution.

It took twelve years and another international conflict with communists to really get the Hippie revolution started.  In the 1950’s, America found herself aiding a colonial power to maintain control over the people of Vietnam who were fighting to gain their independence. This goes against the idea of the Truman doctrine, American is suppose to help people trying gain their freedom The problem was that the Vietnamese rebels were communists and “both president Truman and President Eisenhower feared that a victorious communist-led independence movement in Vietnam could tip all of south-east Asia into the ‘Red’ camp.”[2] The United States could not allow another country in Asia to fall to communism, because according to the Domino theory if one nation falls to communism the rest will follow.

When our money and guns failed to help France maintain control in Vietnam, we consented to setting up a puppet government in the newly created South Vietnam and trying to rebuild the country into an “anticommunist bastion formed in the United States’ image.”[3] However, the hearts of the Vietnamese were with the communists and it was not long until the Vietcong invaded South Korea to reunify the country. Where money and guns had failed, the urge to save the world from a bleak red end prompted America to send in our own men.

The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution allowed President Johnson “the power to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attacks against the armed forced of the United States and to prevent further aggression.”[4] By 1968 there were 550,000 US troops on the ground in Vietnam.[5] President Johnson wanted to resolve the situation with minimal disruption at home, and so the policy of a ‘limited war’ on the home front arose This policy gave rise to one of the most lasting effects of the Vietnam conflict; “a growing public cynicism about the integrity of the government.”[6] Nobody at home knew the full scope of the situation. However, the American Soldiers faced unfamiliar and hostile territory, full of hiding places for the enemy, as well as booby traps. They were at a disadvantage by fighting in the jungle and our weapons were out of date. The fight was going badly for the Americans. This war along with the discovery that the Government had been lying to the people all along about the situation of the war in Vietnam, gave the hippie revolution exactly what they needed to band together: a common enemy. In this case, it was the corrupt actions being taken by the government and the  high death tolls of American soldiers. Once their society had been torn apart by conflicts over civil rights and the war in Vietnam, youths “used rock music as a proud emblem of their rebellion against the more staid and conservative aspects of [society].”[7] In the face of a war that seemed endless and a government they could not trust, America’s youth turned to a counterculture whose message was embodied by rock music.

The counterculture believed that their parents’ culture had failed them, resulting in their friends and neighbors involvement in bloody conflicts overseas that the majority of American youth and several people in the president’s cabinet felt America had no right to be fighting. Walter Lippmann, the Dean of American Journalists and the “most experienced observer of international affairs in the United States” stated that, “our security and well being are not involved in South East Asia or Korea and never have been.”[8]  Inspired by the unpopular war and the mistrust for the government, America’s youth retreated into a culture of their own, “political controversy [was] most visibly reflected by the fads and consumer choices of Americans population of young people.”[9] As the situation in Vietnam worsened, many anti war movements, including the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), came to the conclusion that “the war exposed a national corruption so deep that nonviolent revolution was necessary…that the establishment was beyond redemption.”[10] Protesting the war alone was not enough for the hippies however, who “emerged mostly from SDS ranks, [and] saw the war in simple terms as imperialistic genocide.”[11] They felt this problem was deeper rooted into the American paradigm itself: “the war represented the predictable violence of the straight establishment.”[12]  In order for improvement, the entire way of life needed to shift. They believed simply that “everyone needed to lighten up and have fun.”[13] As a solution, “these Hippies sought to create an alternative way of life that overlapped with the more general youth culture but which went much further in its alienation from the middle class consumer society.”[14] And they were not alone either; “Cheered on by visionaries as diverse as ex-Harvard professor Timothy Leary, acclaimed writer Ken Keasy, and Beat poet Allen Ginsberg, members of the counterculture sought to establish new life styles in which co-operation replace competition.”[15] The Hippies wanted to create a society where through co-operation everyone has a better life, for example “the ‘Diggers’ believed that everything should be ‘free’, with goods and services being bartered, traded, or simply given away.”[16] For a short time in 1967 and 1968 the Diggers and some like minded citizens set up a food giveaway in Golden Gate Park and “also established a free store, a free transportation network, free medical care, and free concerts featuring rock groups like the Grateful Dead.”[17] Free concerts such as these, as well as the infamous Woodstock, are how the Grateful Dead became famous. The fan base of The Dead wanted to live an alternative life style; this lead to a large following of the band as they toured around. Fans created communities and spread their culture in the parking lots of venues across the country. The Grateful Dead defined the modern ‘jam band’, thus being the initial inspiration for the wide variety of jam bands that are popular today.

Communism had many effects on America in the last half of the twenty-century, arguably most popular are rock and roll jam bands. Communist revolutions in Korea and Vietnam happened regardless of US involvement, and did not lead to a communist takeover of the entire world as the United States had feared. What they did do was cost the United States billions of dollars and over a million lives. Misinformation on the part of the government regarding both unnecessary conflicts stripped the American people, specifically young people, of their faith in the government. It also inspired the youth of America to call for change, not only for policy change regarding America’s foreign affairs, but for an entire paradigm shift including everything from the way business is conducted to how children are raised. This desire drove them into a specific counter culture that revolved around protesting the war which was voiced by rock and roll music. Bands such as The Grateful Dead recognized the value of playing free shows to a fan base ready to embrace change. Without the U.S.’s actions against communism to first rile up the youth of America and then bring them all together, these bands would not have had the same source of inspiration or cultural impact. Their new and particularly different style of music would not have taken off. Musicians across the country would have never taken up the call, for there would be no call to pick up, and no one would be listening to jam bands.


[1] Merrill, Dennis.  “The Truman Doctorine:  Containing Communism and Moderninity.”  Presidential Studies Quarterly 36, no. 1 (March 2006): 27-37. Academic Search Complere. Ebscohost  (accessed December 8, 2012).

[2] Farber, David and Beth Bailey et. Al.  The Columbia Guide to the 1960’s.  New York:  Columbia University Press,  2001, 35.

[3] Steigerwald, David.  The Sixties and the End of Modern America.  Ney York:  St. Martin’s Press, Inc.,  1995,  71.

[4] Farber and Bailet et. AL, 38.    

[5] Farber and Bailey et AL, 38.

[6] Steigward, 96.

[7] Farber and Bailey et. Al., 59.

[8] Qtd in Steigward, 102.

[9] Farber and Bailey et. AL., 58.

[10] Steigward, 105.

[11] Steigward, 106.

[12] Steigward, 106.

[13] Steigward, 106.

[14] Farber and Bailey et. AL., 59.

[15] Farber and Bailey, 60.

[16] Farber and Bailey, 60.

[17] Farber and Bailey, 60.