Friday, November 29, 2013

The Denver Synagogue by Summer Anderson

            Recently, Rachel and I attended BMH-BJ: The Denver Synagogue. We arrived a little before 9:00 a.m. because that’s when the service started. We found it a little odd that it was just a few others and us. A Layperson, someone that is like a deacon, came to us because he could tell we were not Jewish and informed us that most of the congregation doesn’t show up until 9:30-10:00, but he, Jay, was very willing to help us learn about what went on during the Shabbat service. He described the siddur, which is a book that contains the prayers that are recited during the service and the chumash, which contains the five books of Moses.
Jay had one of the synagogue’s teachers sit by us and explain what was happening during the service. She also gave us a tour of the synagogue and showed us where they have the traditional services with men and women seated on separate sides and the classrooms where the children spend their time during the services.
Jay invited us to read the nation’s prayer in front of the congregation, so Rachel went up and read it and did a great job. It was very nice of him to ask us to do that. He also let us look at the Torah when it was being read, which was very fascinating. He explained that they have to insure the Torah for thousands of dollars, because they are all handwritten with duck quills and it takes almost a year to finish one.
My favorite part of the service was when the Cantor sang the prayers. Jay informed us that he was a Holocaust survivor and that they had several in the congregation. Cantor Zach was actually retired, but the present Cantor was on vacation. The prayers were all sung in Hebrew and it was very beautiful. He was also the cutest old guy ever!

The Denver synagogue is the largest conservative synagogue, not the only one in Denver by far.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Assumption of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Cathedral by Simon Sager

This experience was different than I expected. In all honesty, I had never heard of Greek Orthodoxy before my time in Denver. Going into this experience I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I certainly didn’t picture the service being held in a dome or for it to be so Greek infused. I didn’t anticipate much of the service being spoken in Greek. I was also surprised to see the service so well attended.
Maybe it is because I have my final paper topic at the front of my mind or maybe it is because music truly is the way I communicate and grow spiritually, but the music in the service was really what struck me. The vast majority of the service had some sort of musical quality to it. In fact, there were no spoken words until 45 minutes into the service. Everything before that, be it scripture, prayers or other readings, was either chanted by them men standing near the Alter in front of us or sang by the choir standing on the balcony behind us. Because the acoustics of the room were so great and often times the singing happened from the balcony behind us, I sometimes couldn’t tell who was singing. This was a little off putting at first but after a while I grew to really like not knowing who was singing. It allowed me to really focus on the words that were being sung/chanted instead of focusing on the person who was singing. I was able to hear the message without any distractions and take the words to heart.
The whole point of my final paper is going to be that music, in a religious sense, provides something special. Music is a medium that allows us to communicate with God. The fact that the majority of this service had music ingrained into it proves this point. Obviously, the people who attended this church feel that music helps us to communicate with God and that music allows us to hear God’s voice. I am very glad that I got to have the experience of going to this Greek service before writing my final paper. I think that it affirmed my belief that music is one the most spiritual practices in existence. Even though I did not always know what was happening throughout the service, I could still feel God’s presence throughout. In my opinion, this is because of the music. Music has power and going to this service just reaffirmed my strong belief that God uses music to speak to people.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Mizel Museum by Emily Preussner

 I did not know exactly what to expect when I walked into the Mizel Museum. I knew going into it that it would take a look back at Judaism but never expected the vibrant colors and modern art. I have visited many museums in my lifetime but most of them are the same. The Mizel Museum took me by surprise. It captured my attention and displayed artifacts in such a way that would interest any visitor. The creators and designers definitely took into consideration the guest and wanted to make sure they had a good time while visiting the museum.

The Mizel Museum is a small place with a lot of history about Judaism. It only has four rooms with lots of artifacts and descriptions about what Jewish people went through the last 4,000 years. Next to each artifact, there is a description of what it is and what it is used for. I wish that we were there a little bit longer so I had time to actually take a look at all the artifacts in each room. Looking at those pieces helps people understand the Jewish way of life, not just their religion.

As for the religion, I went into this visit feeling pretty good because I knew some things about it. Judaism and Christians have many connections so I knew some of their beliefs before I read about the religion in the book. I also learned a few things, like the Torah, in my introduction to religion class at Wartburg. When the tour guide talked about the Adam and Eve, Noah’s ark, and the sands of time, I knew what she was talking about. I have read those stories from the Bible so I didn’t feel lost when she was talking. When visiting the Buddhist monastery, it was hard for me to understand their religion since I haven’t been exposed to it.

The lady who gave us a tour was a great speaker and knew a lot about the history of Judaism. She articulated that Judaism is about trying to figure out the answers and interpreting the Torah, which is different from other religions. When I spoke with a Muslim man, he talked about the Qur’an tells them how to live. It has an answer for everything so they do not have to interpret the words. This differs from what the Jewish believe.

Even though there are differences between Judaism and Islam, I noticed some similarities. The main one is the treatment of both religions’ followers. Everyone knows about the Holocaust and how many innocent people were killed because of their religion. They were blamed for the bad economy and people turned against them. They still have a lot of bad publicity but the religion has remained strong. Since 9/11, Muslims have been looked down on. Many people have blamed Muslims for the attacks on America soil. Islam is still trying to fight those critics by educating those to see that it is not a violent religion. Even though the attacks were 12 years ago, Islam is still trying to fight all the negativity that is around the religion. Even with that, Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

A different look at America for an international student.

Mauricio Gutiérrez
Wartburg West Experience

It has been already two months since we got here but to me this experience seems timeless.  It is good to see a completely different city, to get a sense of the diverse places that this country has. In my experience, we have had many opportunities to get involved in different activities that demonstrate the wide diversity in the city. With class and extracurricular activities, the experiences at Denver have included festivals, concerts, climbing, hiking and many other activities. Sometimes it could get overwhelming for people that are not used to have a busy schedule with a lot of activities, but to me, the amount of activities has been satisfying and we always have enough time to rest and “reflect”.
In my internship at Colorado Progressive Coalition, I have been working in campaigns designing some images for social media, and learning a lot on how to manage the communication of a member-driven organization that works with social justice issues. At the same organization I have also done some work in community organizing, helping people in different issues that sometimes are not addressed. These issues affect mainly minorities, therefore for others it is not relevant because they think it does not affect them but at the end those are issues that concern to everyone as they would determine the new direction that the city would take in different areas. Some of the work that I have done is related to Health Care, some people do not consider it important but according to the new reforms it is necessary. Through these and other volunteer actions I have seen a different façade of the city, a part that helps me to get connected to the community and understand more current political and anthropological issues.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Buddhism as a Way of Life by Simon Sager

I have grown up with strong religious roots. I have always gone to church and Sunday school and I have always loved to learn about God. My parents worked hard to raise me with a religious base firmly rooted in Christianity. I have never had the opportunity to explore the beliefs of a faith unrelated to Christianity. The way that other people believe is always something that has fascinated me, but I have nonetheless never gotten up the guts to visit the site of a different kind of worship.

I am very glad that I had the opportunity to visit Compassionate Dharma Cloud Monastery, a Buddhist Monastery, with my religion class. I found the experience to be nothing but positive and, in fact, quite relaxing. After the visit, I felt closer to my classmates and closer to my God as well.

Much of our visit was spent meditating. The Buddhist teacher, Thay Tinh Man, who we had the opportunity to visit with, explained that meditation is not a religious practice. I found this to be absolutely true. Meditation is often equated with a spiritual realm where you communicate with some god and fly, but in reality meditation is simply an opportunity to quiet your mind and to be thankful for what you have. It was very refreshing to take a second to live in the now and appreciate everything – from each part of the body to the very fact that we are breathing today.

The Buddhist teacher was very gentle and caring. He took extra care to make eye contact with each of us. He shared the Buddhist belief in a very clear way. He explained to us that Buddhists don’t believe in the existence of a god; that his belief in Buddhism is not so much a religion as it is a way of life. Many of the principles, such as thankfulness and compassion, are easily applied to my personal faith. According the teacher, Buddhism is a very individual belief, but at the same time, it is believed by Buddhists that we are all connected – what we do as an individual affects the whole picture. I also learned that Buddhists believe that Nirvana, their sort of mental Heaven (they don’t actually believe in Heaven as a physical place) is attainable during everyday life. Nirvana is not something that happens in the afterlife. Buddhism is a way of life that is focused on living in the present. It does no good to worry about the future or to regret the past. Happiness is now, in the present. This message of living in the now is what stuck with me the most during our visit.

There are differences between Buddhism and Christianity – the major one being the belief in the existence of God – but, as was explained to me, many Buddhists do not see Buddhism as a religion but as a way of life. With that in mind, many Buddhists are members of different religious communities. Personally, I can see many ways the practices of Buddhists apply to my own faith.

Overall, I found Buddhism to be a very generous and thankful way of life that is deeply rooted in compassion. I find it fascinating and quite sad that both Christianity and Buddhism could be rooted in compassion and yet still be seen, by many, as enemies. I found many more similarities between Christianity and Buddhism than I would have guessed. In the end, I think the Buddhist way of life is very similar to the Christian way of life. Both believe in helping others and both are rooted in the deep understanding that we need to love one another. My visit to this community is just another example of how understanding and respect for one another breaks down barriers and brings us closer together.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Dharma Cloud Monastery by Jerica George

Going into the Dharma Cloud Monastery I was a little skeptical. I haven’t heard much on Buddhism before and the only image I had was of the ones society shares with us. My real questions were, what was the place going to look like, and how were they going to embrace us?

What I had in my head of what the monastery was going to look like was nothing like it actually was. I pictured a huge open temple that people can come and worship. What it actually looked like was just a normal house they converted into a place of worship. The landscape was beautiful with sculptures and gardens surrounding the house. I later learned that they use their grounds a lot whether it is for meditation or for retreats that they hold.

When we arrived we got right into our day. We sat in a circle with Tinh Man who is a monk and dharma teacher. The first thing we did was sing a short song to get us relaxed and in a peaceful state of mind. Then Tinh talked about meditation and how it worked. After his introduction we as a class meditated. I’m going to be honest I didn’t really know what to do while meditating.

Tinh talked about releasing your mind and thoughts and relax and be in the present moment. I had a hard time doing that because anyone who knows me knows that my mind does not stop. It is always thinking and making lists. After a while I did start to relax. After our meditation we got to ask Tinh questions about himself and Buddhism.

What I learned from the question and answer portion of our visit was that Buddhists are very peaceful people. They believe in living in the moment and not being in such a hurry. It was hard for me to understand that because how I grew up was you worried about your future. Where were you going to go to college? What were you going to do after? Our society has always been hit the ground running type. With always rushing to your next destination you miss out on what is happening around you. We were challenged to not always rush during the day. To take the time to look at what is happening around us. I am trying to complete that challenge.

Overall, my experience at Dharma Cloud Monastery was an insightful one. I learned that I need to relax more and take the time to enjoy my life. That our lives here are precious and to not take it for granted. Hopefully with time I will be able to use what Tinh taught us and apply it to my own life. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Once in a lifetime opportunity

 From Emily Preussner, Business/Sports Management major

            Wartburg West is a once in a lifetime opportunity that allows Wartburg students to get out of Iowa and experience urban living. I am very fortunate to be a part of this amazing program.  When I decided to apply for Wartburg West, I really wanted to get out of Iowa and experience living in a big city. With a major in business administration and a concentration in sport management, I want to work in the sport world and most of those jobs are in the cities. I thought this would help me realize and understand urban living.
            I have been in Denver a little over a month and a half now and the time has flown by. I am interning at Metropolitan State University of Denver in their athletic program. I have been crazy busy with going into work three days each week and also trying to attend as many soccer and volleyball games. Metro State is a great place to intern at because I have learned so much about college athletics through projects they have given me to work on. Everyone there is super nice and helpful. Wartburg students who are looking at getting a job in sports should look into coming out to Denver and interning with the Roadrunners.
            One feature that I love about Denver is there is always something to do. I feel like every weekend there is either a festival or event that the community can attend.  Many of these are free which is nice for a poor college student like myself.  One event that our group attended was the “Taste of Colorado.”  They offered a lot of food choices and items that we might not have gotten to see. With only three short months in this great town, it is hard to see everything that Denver has to offer.
            Another great feature about Wartburg West is the alumni events that students can attend. A couple other students and I had a great opportunity to visit Red Rocks with an alum and eat lunch there. Danny, Summer, and I drove with another alum to see Breckenridge, a very unique, cute town that is known for skiing and snowboarding.  Their main street is packed with ma and pa stores; it reminds me of Cedar Falls downtown but bigger.  The last event that I went to was an Avalanche hockey game. There are many Wartburg alumni that live in Denver and they are always willing to help Wartburg West students.
            After living here for a while, I am positive that I made the correct choice in applying to Wartburg West.  It offers student so many opportunities that they might not get in Iowa.  From attending Rockies games with other Wartburg students to attempting to climb a 14'er in Leadville, it never gets dull in Denver!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"Same Love" A Hispanic Christian Experience by Danny Housholder

Church was a comfort zone for me growing up. My father is a pastor and in one way or another, I’d usually end up with him at work everyday as a kid. With that, church became a second home to me, and the other staff members were nothing short of an extended family. I loved being at church because I felt welcome. I knew a lot of the people there, and they knew me.

More importantly than the social comfort I encountered in church, I discovered, developed and nurtured the foundations of my relationship with Jesus there. My faith quickly became the most satisfying aspect of my life, and since I could associate it with church, I loved being at church.

As I’ve grown, I’ve moved away from home and been to more churches. Because of my pleasant experience with them growing up, I again felt comfortable during services or other church activities. I can relate to people there. We’re all broken people clinging onto a Savior who can save of us from the disappointment of this world. Our words confess it whether it’s through traditional liturgy, a preacher’s sermon, contemporary worship songs, prayer, discussion in fellowship and the list goes on. I believe these cries from the pits of our souls bring us closer to the relieving arms of Jesus, but I also think they bring us together as the body of Christ. We find communities in relationships with others who are enthralled with the love that frees us from the crushing blows of life. This is why I love church. 
Friendships and conversations with anyone of any background should be valued, but in church, I am able to talk with others, listen to others, sing with others and realize that I am not alone in my struggles.

This whole idea, though, of finding a community in church was challenged recently because for so long, I developed this community through verbal acknowledgement. For a class, I was expected to attend a Spanish speaking service at Annunciation Catholic Church in Denver, Colorado. My professor won’t like hearing this, but I was not excited for it at all. I thought, ‘How am I supposed to get anything out of a service I can’t understand?’ How selfish? Sure enough, though, I sat with my poor attitude for a majority of the service feeling upset. I wanted to take this time to be at a church where I could at least understand the message. Furthermore, I felt more awkward than a giraffe in a helicopter considering I was the only person with blonde hair and fair skin in the entire building. I felt stupid when someone would speak Spanish to their friend and then look at me and sympathetically say hello to me English. They mean nothing wrong by it. Actually, they were just being friendly and trying to make me feel like I could fit in, but I wasn’t having it.

Then, one of those mind-altering moments that only happen a few times in a life happened to me. They served communion. Now, I wasn’t allowed to take communion because I’m not Catholic, and I wanted to respect their traditions (quite frankly, I let that bother me too at first). But then I started to think about what was happening. These people with completely different backgrounds, cultures and languages than mine were going up to be cleansed with the same blood that was shed and body that was broken for me. They weren’t saying it with their voices, but louder than ever I heard every person in that building crying out for freedom—the same freedom I have begged for with other believers in English speaking churches my entire life. They were experiencing the same love that frees us all from the crushing blows of life.

I started to choke up, and soon the lump in my throat worked up tears in my eyes. Look, I’m a Lutheran. I don’t usually get emotional in church, and I’m pretty skeptical of personally experiencing my own “spiritual moments.” I love hearing about others’, but it just freaks me out sometimes. And there I was, having one in the last place I ever expected it. I learned on that Sunday morning in Annunciation Catholic Church, that the body of Christ I am apart of does not stop and start over new again when a different building, tradition or language is used. The body of Christ is anyone who believes in the everlasting love of Jesus, and it is the same love of our Redeemer that unites us together no matter what our differences are that makes us a community that will live together in the Kingdom of Heaven.

So, it could be said that I had a pretty awesome experience at Annunciation Catholic Church. I’m glad I was forced to go because I’m not so sure my stubborn attitude would have ever voluntarily gone.

Everyone needs freedom from this world, and Jesus uses the same love for each and every one of us to do just that.

An inviting city

Greetings from Denver!  My name is Rachel Price, and I am a Wartburg student currently studying at Wartburg West.  I am double-majoring in Religion and Peace and Justice, and I have an internship which takes place partially at the Rocky Mountain Synod office – ECLA, and partially at Colorado Impact: Center for Economic Prosperity.  Thus far, I have greatly enjoyed both opportunities and I’m learning worlds of new information about advocacy work, government processes, and the wider church. 
There are many bits and pieces of my Denver life which have really stuck with me in the last month, and surely those pieces, the things I’ve found most valuable, are the things which may be most worth discussing now. For example, most everything in our area is accessible by foot, and surely by bike.  In my hometown, we have to drive 30 minutes just to find a Wal-Mart, but I’ve been here for almost a month, and I still have three quarters of a tank of gas in my car.  There’s great fro-yo everywhere, and intriguing restaurants everywhere I look.  Shopping or hanging out at the 16th St. Mall can happen just a few blocks away, and so can a visit to the Capitol Building and Civic Park. 
Another perk is the friendliness of those who live in the city.  I’ve noticed that a vast majority of people around here are more than willing to engage in friendly conversation in a line at a store, walking down the sidewalk, etc.  People aren’t so reserved, and it’s great to get to know people from many varying cultures and backgrounds.  I’ve experienced many different festivals which exhibit many different cultures while in Denver, as well.  The way I see it, this city sort of exemplifies the “melting pot” trend that people normally attribute to the United States; however, because it’s so much more condensed in a city than an entire country, the truth in that title is very visible here.  I’ve met people already who come from many other places and with whom the only visible things I may have in common are the humanity and dignity which are inherent to each of us (of course, that’s a large quality to share with a person).
This brings me to my final and most favorite part of my experience thus far: People do justice.  Sure, there are many different ways in which a person could “do justice,” but I’m talking about the type of social justice which unites people with one another and lets people maintain their own dignity and humanity regardless of any cultural, racial, economic, sexual, or gender-related differences between a person and the cultural “norm.” (What is normal, anyway?)  Everywhere I look, there is an organization or group of people willing to dedicate themselves to doing justice in order to have a more united, more fulfilling community, and that, surely, is the greatest thing I’ve seen yet.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

My new comfort zone

Denver has a population of about 2.7 million people. Des Moines has a population of about 206,000. There are more people that live in the metro area of Denver then there are people in the state of Iowa. This is just mind blowing. When I decided to come out to Denver it was mainly for me to get out of my comfort zone and get out of my comfort zone I have.

Let’s start with public transportation. It is a main form of transportation here in Denver. So many different people take the bus and light rails. I have never had to depend on public transportation before so to say the least I got pretty worked up about it. On my first day on the bus I was really trying to blend in and look like a local. Yeah, that didn’t work. I think everyone knew that this was my first time. Maybe it was because I was holding a map with the bus routes and using Google maps on my phone to make sure we were going in the right direction but who really knows how they knew. I have always heard stories that people who take the bus are mean and scary but in my experience that is just not the case. On my first day I got complemented on my shoes and got called a Greek goddess. If that doesn’t make you feel good then I don’t know what will. So the next time you are scared to get on the bus just know there is a good chance that someone will brighten your day.

Getting out of my comfort zone is pretty easy to do in Denver. Just walked down Colfax (one of the main streets in Denver) and you will see so many different characters. Homeless people will ask you for money, business types will walk into you without even noticing and a Midwestern girl just trying to get to the bus stop will act like a starry-eyed Rachel Berry when she first lands in New York City (if you don’t understand that reference then I really am a nerd).  So far my experience in Denver has been great. I hope when I am around town again I run into the lady that offered me a cinnamon roll once before and maybe this time I‘ll take her up on her offer. Yeah, probably not. I hope that eventually I’ll feel more comfortable being on my own. So far I haven’t starved but there is only so much ramen a girl can eat. 
Denver is city that has everything you could ever want or need.  Do you need a milk shake at midnight? Because Tom’s dinner is right across the street and has the best chocolate peanut butter milkshake known to man and really what more do you need in life than a good milkshake? 
Jerica George, Comm Arts;  Internship: The Publishing House

Sunday, September 8, 2013

From Simon Sager, Communication Arts

Our first week of internships is done! I would consider this week to have been very successful. Going in to my time in Denver this fall, I think my internship is what I was most nervous about. It is nerve wracking to jump into a new organization and trying to get to a place where you are an asset to your supervisor and not a burden. Thankfully, everyone I came in contact with was absolutely wonderful. I feel like I have a good base knowledge of what I am doing (thanks Wartburg Communication Arts Department!).

On the social front, these last two weeks have made it really clear that we have a great group out here. I think that each of us is really up for just about anything and we are all determined to have an awesome time in Denver. I think the highlight for me so far has been hiking at Rocky Mountain National Park. It was a solid hike, and absolutely gorgeous at the top. 

What I love most about Wartburg West is that you have a family you can home to every night. That’s exactly what I feel like I am doing whenever I come back from my internship – coming home. It is so awesome to be able to share all of these awesome experiences with a group. Even in the short amount of time we have been here I know that I am creating friendships that will last the rest of my life.

Beginning of a New Adventure

Alexia Brewster
Wartburg West Blog
Week 1
The Beginning of a New Adventure
It has been two weeks since we have moved into the Wartburg West apartment in Denver, CO.  Our first week here was spent having orientation and exploring the city.  As a group, we rode the bus to different parts of Denver to better understand where we were living.  It is interesting how different a neighborhood can be by just going down fifteen blocks.  I still am surprised by how different the neighborhood where I live is compared to the one I work in when I take the bus to my internship.  It is also intriguing to see who rides the bus during specific times of the day.  I have found that the elderly and young families tend to ride midday while mornings and nights consist of workers.  
In addition to exploring the city, I explored the Rocky Mountains with a couple of Wartburg students last Saturday.  We left early in the morning for a three-hour drive to one of the trails by Estes Park.  It was a two-hour loop that scaled up part of the mountain and back down.  On the way up, we stopped at various small waterfalls to take pictures and dip our feet in the water.  Thankfully, it was partially cloudy and the weather wasn’t too hot for hiking, although the water did feel nice.  There were quite a few people out hiking that day, including a family that was traveling on alpacas.  You could tell it was the kids’ first time by how excited they were.  My favorite part of the hike though was when we got to the top of the mountain.  We were taking a break and eating some snacks when a small squirrel started to run up to each of us, asking for food.  Rachel, who was sitting down, offered some of her granola bar to the squirrel who immediately leapt up onto her lap and started eating.  It probably stayed on her lap for a whole five minutes before scurrying away.  After that, we trekked back down the mountain and finished our hike in the Rocky Mountains.  I can’t wait for the next adventure.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Engaging Politics from Matthew Kristensen

Learning more about our society’s dependency on fossil fuels and how we can change this model has been very exciting in my work with Fossil Fuel Free Denver. The Fossil Fuel Free Denver mission is to work to end the use of fossil fuels in the city of Denver and offer a better quality of life to its citizens through engaging in and fostering civil conservation with decision makers, and conveying the necessity, the viability, and the attractiveness of ending our use of fossil fuels. I used research methods such as, online research, attending meetings, and participating in public awareness efforts, to learn more about this organization. I anticipated my research would reveal information about the history of the organization, further knowledge of their mission and message, and the different methods and strategies they use in the political arena. The results of my research showed that Fossil Fuel Free Denver is a fairly new organization and a sub-committee of CO-Force, an organization focused on achieving fair utility rates and clean energy for Coloradoans. Fossil Fuel Free Denver connects with citizens by raising awareness for their organization. They achieve this in different ways such as passing out business cards during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade, participating in the Eco Justice Ministries climate change rally, and many other public events. Research has also shown that the main way in which Fossil Fuel Free Denver engages in politics is through lobbying. Their organizational meetings focus on sharing the results from conversations with Denver decision makers and targeting new decision makers to talk with and share their mission. For the future I think Fossil Fuel Free Denver should produce some literature that lays out simple ways everyday people can reduce their fossil fuel usage. I believe passing something like that out at events rather than just business cards would be better at raising awareness for this problem and influence people to make those simple changes in their life. Working with Fossil Fuel Free Denver has shown me how powerful lobbying can be at engaging both citizens and policy makers if your cause is just and I hope to continue Fossil Fuel Free Denver’s mission by reducing my use of fossil fuels as much as I can while encouraging others to do the same. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Jordan Duwa's Abstract on Gun Violence

The issue at hand is gun violence, and the solutions seem to be varied. Unfortunately, there have been 31 mass shootings since Columbine in 1999. In addition to the mass shooting at the theater and Colorado and adding the Sandy Hook massacre, it makes approximately 32 mass shootings. This number is alarming even though nearly 14 years have passed, but there should be no mass shootings at all. In 2012, 70 people were killed in mass shootings and another 72 were injured. It is overwhelming to see these numbers of people killed and hurt by guns and especially mass shootings. Research into each mass shooting case looks into where the gun or guns come from that the shooter has used to commit such a violent act. Many times, the shooter doesn’t own their weapon of choice which makes it more difficult to control who is allowed to purchase or handle a gun. In addition to ownership of weapons, the fact of an identified mental illness will be considered in allowing individuals to own a weapon. In regards to research methods for this engaging politics assignment, it will be done through attending meetings, bill hearings, and other Colorado Ceasefire related events that will help me to broaden my understanding of the entire situation about gun violence and the ways to end it.
With hopes to find out ways the Colorado government intends to end gun violence through their bills and laws, and a strong interest in the bills that will go through the legislature about gun violence and what both sides are saying about the issue. With a desire to attend different types of events and gatherings that deal with gun violence and Colorado Ceasefire, this will assist in the increased knowledge and understanding of gun violence and specifically laws according to Colorado. Understanding different points of view and how different people plan to tend to this problem will be vital in determining the results of this engaging politics project. With this project, an expansion of a knowledge base about the legislature and how it works will be gained, especially around these different types of gun bills. A strong focus will be put on the ways in which Colorado Ceasefire and other organizations go about changing the current laws and adding new laws regarding gun violence. This will be done through attending meetings, bill hearings, and Colorado Ceasefire gatherings. This issue is important to me personally because my father is big into hunting and I will be getting my hunter’s license but the tragedy of mass shootings and shootings in Colorado and the ones involving children, have hit hard to me because I couldn’t imagine losing a family member but also I agree that it’s important to be cautious about who is able to own a weapon. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

An Abstract about the Interfaith Alliance from Mandy Grutzmacher

For my engaging politics assignment I have been following and going to events to learn more about the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado. It is a community of faith organization that promotes justice, diversity, respect and opportunity for all. I became interested in this organization because of their current involvement with the civil unions bill and all of the work they have done to support and promote it in the past.

I am very much in favor of supporting equality for same sex couples and was very interested in getting involved. I plan to attend various breakfasts, lunches and other one on one meetings as a guest of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, in order to find out more about what is being done to support civil unions. I will also be working with Jeremy Shaver, the executive director, to find out more about the organization. I have learned that Interfaith Alliance does not only support equality for LGBT individuals, but that they are also strong advocates for immigration reform and women’s reproductive rights.

From what I have learned in speaking with Jeremy thus far about Interfaith Alliance, I have found that it is so important to become involved within your state. Our senators hold more power than I think most people realize. We need to get involved in order to make a difference and a change. I know that I will continue to do so because of this experience.