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Preview/Review (Oct. 13 to Oct. 27)

Reviews and previews of some fun and informative U events and lectures occurring through Oct. 27

Compiled by Adam Overland

Coffee Bell 165

October 11, 2011

University events and lectures preview/review is a periodic column (about every two weeks) highlighting events and lectures recently past and soon-to-come on or near the UMTC campus.

"Coffee: The World in Your Cup," a Bell Museum exhibit (with special events)
If a theme emerges in the Bell Museum's…ahem…stimulating exhibit, "Coffee: The World in Your Cup," it is this—connectivity. It makes sense. The nearly 7 billion inhabitants of planet Earth consume about 500 billion cups of coffee per year. Behind oil, it is our most traded commodity.

The exhibit tells us that more than 20 million families are employed in coffee production around the world (and yet most workers earn between $1 and $10 per day). So, whether we drink it or not, it's fueling us, and in ways we might not imagine—the songbirds in your backyard, for example.

Chirping away bright and early, you may have suspected that coffee plays a role in the lives of songbirds. Indeed, the exhibit tells us that many North American songbirds spend winters in coffee growing regions of Latin America, but that the songbird population worldwide began to decline dramatically after sun grown coffee cultivation and associated deforestation became common. So shade-grown coffee farms play a significant role in wildlife protection.

As part of the exhibit, the Bell has been hosting occasional evening events, like the one held Oct. 6. During these events, as visitors view vivid photography from around the world and interpretive displays of coffee production, coffee stations located throughout offer samples of brewed coffee grown in a range of countries, from South America to Africa. There are also engaging activities, videos, and examples of equipment used in coffee production. Even some experts are on hand for casual discussion over a cup of Joe, including the U's own Guillermo Velasquez, who works on barley research on the Saint Paul campus, but also operates a small business with his wife, importing coffee from his family's small coffee farm in Honduras. You can read more about Guillermo and Velasquez Family Coffee at "From our Family to U."

The next special event will be held Nov. 3, 5:30–8:30 p.m. It's free with museum admission (which is free for U faculty, staff, and students). The exhibit runs through Nov. 27.

Watch a video of exhibit coordinator Jennifer Menken as she tries to lift a 125-pound bag of coffee at the exhibit.

Voyageur Skies - small 300Bonus exhibit: Once you're good and caffeinated, pop upstairs to the newly opened exhibit "Voyageur Skies: Weather and Wilderness in Minnesota's National Park." The exhibit features U climatologist Mark Seeley's account of how weather and climate have shaped the park's features, and the photography of former U professor Don Breneman. Seeley and Breneman will headline an Oct. 20 dinner at the Campus Club in Coffman Union.
--Review by Adam Overland

Previews are the editor’s choice, selected for variety, uniqueness, oddness, impact, and whimsy. Submit your events to Events that feature U faculty and staff are preferred. Unless otherwise noted, all events are free.

Public Conversation with Amiri Baraka. Oct. 14. 4:30–6 p.m., Arena Theater, Rarig Center. Esteemed Black Arts poet and playwright Amiri Baraka will share excerpts from his poems and plays in a conversation moderated by theater professor Dominic Taylor.

Baraka is the author of more than 40 books of essays, poems, drama, and music history and criticism; a poet icon; and revolutionary political activist who has recited poetry and lectured on cultural and political issues extensively in the United States, the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe. With influences on his work ranging from musical orishas such as Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, and Sun Ra to the Cuban Revolution, Malcolm X, and world revolutionary movements, Baraka is renowned as the founder of the Black Arts Movement in Harlem in the 1960s that became, though short-lived, the virtual blueprint for a new American theater aesthetic.

Dominic Taylor is an associate artist with Penumbra Theater and teaches courses on Blacks in American Theater and will be teaching a special spring course on the Black Arts Movement. Amiri Baraka will also perform Wise Whys Ys: The Griot's Tale on Oct. 15, 8 p.m., Southern Theater.

Beauty Mark: Body Image and the Race for Perfection. Oct. 15, 1–2:30 p.m., Science Teaching & Student Services Building. Part of the Social Justice Film Festival. In this courageous, deeply personal new film, Diane Israel examines American culture's toxic emphasis on thinness, beauty, and physical perfection. Israel, a Boulder-based psychotherapist and former champion triathlete, talks candidly about her own struggle with eating disorders and obsessive exercising, fearlessly confronting her own painful past as she tries to come to terms with American culture's unhealthy fixation on self-destructive ideals of beauty and competitiveness.

The film lends context to Israel's personal odyssey with fascinating insights from athletes, body builders, fashion models, and inner-city teens, as well as prominent cultural critics and authors. In a special bonus feature, Israel talks in detail about where she is in her recovery two years after the filming of Beauty Mark. Discussion follows the film. Sponsored by the U Women's Center.
Watch the trailer online

The Ethnopharmacology of Energy Drinks—A Bell Museum Café Scientifique event. Oct. 18, 7 p.m., Bryant Lake Bowl, Uptown Minneapolis. Cost: $5-$12. CafeScientifique 165Happy hour, science, and culture, all at a great bar/restaurant/bowling alley. Not much is better than this. Just another creative program from the U's Bell Museum. The Café Scientifique series provides a happy hour program for adults that brings research from the U and beyond out into the community, into some of the Twin Cities' most unique and atmospheric bars and restaurants.

In the next event, Professor George Weiblen, curator of plants at the Bell Museum, explores the diversity of plant-derived drugs that stimulate people around the world. Weiblen has studied plants on five continents over the past 25 years. The special ingredients of all "energy" drinks are molecules derived from plants that affect our senses. What are they and where did they come from? Who discovered their effects? How much is too much? And why do we prefer to share our plant-derived drugs in social groups?

That Used to Be Us—A MOJO Book Talk. Oct. 19, 7:30–9 a.m., 2-215 Carlson School of Management. The U.S. is facing serious challenges on the innovation front. What has led the U.S. to move from world technology and economic leader to follower? In their just-released book, That Used to Be Us, Tom Friedman and co-author Michael Mandelbaum ask some difficult questions and point to a few solutions. Sponsored by the U's Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship. Free, but RSVP required.

IonE Frontiers in the Environment Wednesday lectures: "Helping Forests Thrive in the Face of Global Change." Oct. 19, noon–1 p.m., R380 IonE seminar room, VoTech Bldg., St. Paul campus or via UMConnect. Anthony D'Amato, assistant professor with the Department of Forest Resources, will discuss how we can manage forests sustainably in the face of global change, including shifting climate, invasive species, and changing land use. D'Amato will discuss how studies of tree-ring patterns and long-term data collected from natural and managed forests in the upper Great Lakes region can help us identify forest management strategies that have conferred the most resistance and resilience to past stressors, and ways we might use that knowledge to prepare for future environmental change. He also will explore the long-term ecological impacts of emerging issues, including bioenergy production from trees, using results from several large-scale experiments in the region.

Reception for "Polarities: Black and White in Design." Oct. 20, 6–8 p.m., 241 McNeal Hall, Goldstein Goldstein ball 165Museum of Design. In Western cultures, black and white are often associated with concepts such as death, wickedness, cleanliness, purity, and peace. The social meanings attributed to black and white can be conflicted and varied. However, whether used for pragmatic issues of readability, stylistic effect, economy of means, or cultural standards, the use of black and white in design is not incidental. This exhibition explores social interpretations of black, white, and black and white in objects throughout GMD's collections. Polarities: Black and White in Design, runs through Dec. 30. Join the Goldstein Museum Nov. 4 for a special Black & White Ball.

Encore Transitions: Pathways to Post-Career Life. Oct. 22, 9 a.m–4 p.m., Continuing Education and Conference Center. Cost: $150. Retirement can come with a certain sense of trepidation. Part of the College of Continuing Education's LearningLife program, the Encore Transitions series is designed for people considering life's transitions—specifically, what to do in retirement. This session is part of a four-session series titled Encore Transitions: Preparing for Post-Career Life. Other sessions are: Aging Well/Being Well, Nov. 5; Making the Most of Post-Career Life: Money, Working, Helping, Nov. 18; and Launching Your Future/Living Your Encore Life, Dec. 2. For full information go to Encore Transitions: Preparing for Post-Career Life.

Coming Full Circle: A History of University Avenue. Oct. 25, 7–9 p.m., Continuing Education and Conference Center. Cost: $80. If you've driven down University Avenue lately, you've no doubt encountered traffic jams as road construction crews dig up the pavement to make way for a light-rail line. Hailed as a sign of modern progress, this development actually takes us full circle, back more than 120 years when the street first earned its reputation as a busy transportation hub. Using artifacts and photographs drawn from the instructor's vast private collection, relive the history of University Avenue and discuss how light-rail is likely to impact the businesses and homes surrounding it today.

Instructor Brian McMahon is a trained architect with degrees from the University of Notre Dame and the Pratt Institute School of Architecture, and has been working in the urban planning and redevelopment field for over 25 years.

Other upcoming LearningLife courses: Lost Mansions of the Twin Cities (Oct. 26); The Colorful Life of Richard Feynman (Oct. 27); and more.

Faculty and staff are invited to contribute to Preview/Review. Review submissions should be no more than 500 words, previews 200 or fewer. Both are subject to review by the Brief editor.

Find more Twin Cities events using the U's events calendar.