Friday, September 30, 2011

Recap of Amanda Little's Presentation

Amanda Little, author of this year’s iRead campus reading program selection Power Trip:  America’s Love Affair with Energy, visited Cumberland University on September 27, 2011 and gave a talk about the issues discussed in her book.   Her goal is to make the case that the story of energy in America is the most exciting, important and hopeful story of our time . . . .”  In her talk she addressed four questions:  What’s the role of energy in our lives? How did we develop such an enormous appetite for fossil fuels?  Why are we having such a hard time kicking the habit? Where do we go from here – what are the most promising signs of innovation?

Ms. Little began her presentation with an examination of her home office and concluded “that there was virtually nothing  . . . there that wasn’t there because of fossil fuels.”  The desk was made of plastic, her keyboard was made from petrochemicals, the computer was powered by coal plants and the walls were covered in oil-derived paint.  Even her food, clothing, cosmetics and medicines were refined from petroleum.   Ms. Little stated that “In a single day Americans consume, per capita, nearly 75 percent more oil per day than the people of Japan, and more than double the consumption of the people of Western Europe.”  She went on to compare “our appetite for oil to our appetite for food” and that “Our appetite for petroleum has spawned a kind of obesity epidemic - one that’s at least twice as severe as our food obesity epidemic – but without conspicuous symptoms . . . .”   Our energy-lavish lifestyles are evidenced by our high consumption of oil. Today 70 percent of Americans travel to work by car and more than 60 percent of us never use public transportation and home energy consumption is almost triple that of Japan. 

Ms. Little explains that she” wanted to get to the bottom of this problem, to understand how we as a nation [became] so thoroughly hooked on fossil fuels.”  Her book, Power Trip, was a journey in search of an answer to this question.  The book chronicles her travels to a deep sea oil rig, Kansas cornfields, the Pentagon, NASCAR speedways, New York City’s electrical grid, a plastic surgery operating room.  She also investigated innovations in green technology such as solar energy, wind turbines, electric cars, super crops, and green homes.

Prior to 1950 the United States was producing over 50 percent of the world’s oil, but the economic boom of post WWII created a greater demand for more oil than U.S. wells could produce.  The myth of our unlimited supply of oil was perpetuated by film and TV shows such as Giant, Dallas, the Beverly Hillbillies, and There will be Blood.”  We still function in this myth even though 60 percent of all oil consumed in the U.S. is imported.

Throughout the 20th century it was considered patriotic to consume energy and men, such as Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Eisenhower and FDR, led us to fossil-fuel dependence, yet they are considered American heroes.  “The quintessential American lifestyle was, by definition, and energy-lavish lifestyle,” which is still alive today in our culture with “NASCAR,  McMansions, monster trucks, and private jets.” The author also examined the military’s use of oil.  The Pentagon distributes approximately 1.5 million gallons of fuel every day.

Today we have geopolitical constraints on our energy supplies with grave environmental consequences. To satisfy our energy habit we are quickly using up our land-based oil reserves and are increasing our off-shore drilling.   Oil companies expect to expand off shore drilling within the next ten years and dramatically increase the number of oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico

Energy made America a super power, but this source of strength is now a weakness.  Ms. Little believes that our ingenuity will prevail and that we can rebuild our energy landscape. This comeback of clean green energy “will be the biggest job-creation engine of the next century.”  It is already happening.   One example she gave was Wal-Mart which has cut down on high fuel costs by selling locally grown fruits and vegetables.   “It has pledged to be fossil-fuel-free, carbon neutral company by 2050.” 

We can all become leaner by doing the following; use efficient lighting, insulate our homes, use energy efficient appliances, observe no meat days as growing grain for livestock takes fossil fuels.  Grow your own foods and buy local produce, recycle, drive less, keep tires inflated to get better gas mileage and telecommute when possible.  The author advocates for labels to be placed on items that show how much energy was used in its production.  She states that part of the reason we have trouble slimming down our energy lifestyles is that we can’t easily measure our consumption.

Ms. Little discussed a South Park episode which poked fun at environmentalists by declaring that “Prius drivers are emitting toxic levels of smug.”  The environmental movement needs to be part of everyone’s concern; it is not just for the elite.  She described a visit with a woman in New Orleans, Melba Leggett, who lives in an energy efficient home which actually produces electricity through solar cells and geothermal technology. Hybrid cars and energy efficient homes are possible for ordinary people.

Ms. Little concluded her remarks with observations on the environmental movement which has a new generation of investors creating green technology jobs through innovations in wind power and solar energy. A new mantra is replacing “Drill baby Drill,” with “Shine, baby, shine,” and “Spin, baby, spin.”

Thanks to everyone who was able to attend!

Monday, September 26, 2011

iRead - Power Trip author here tomorrow!

Don't forget that Amanda Little, author of this year's iRead book Power Trip, will be here at CU tomorrow. Her presentation will be in the Heydel Fine Arts Center from 12:30- 1:20, and she'll be doing a book signing there from 1:30-2:00. The event is free for all Cumberland students, faculty, and staff members. For more information about Amanda Little or Power Trip, visit her website.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Art Exhibit in Vise Library: Ceramic Works by Chase Gamblin

Ceramic Works by Chase Gamblin

Chase Gamblin, adjunct professor in Cumberland University’s School of Music and the Arts, works primarily with wheel thrown parts, which he then assembles into vessel forms. He uses the wood firing process not only as a means to create surface variation on his works, but also for its ritualistic characteristics. Dualities occur though out the works. His pieces are whimsical and elegant yet hard and course: they have small and large proportions, and are both masculine and feminine. “I use the thrown vessel because I feel that everyone can relate to it in some way. Whether is be a ceramic mug to drink the morning coffee or an urn that holds the ashes of a loved one, clay is a part of everyone’s experience.

Gamblin started ceramics in southern Illinois in 2001. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in ceramics at the Appalachian Center for Craft in Smithville, TN in 2007. He then studied and received his Masters of Fine Arts in ceramics at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX. During his MFA studies, Gamblin traveled overseas for residencies, the first in Vicchio, Italy in 2008 and the second in Sanbao, China in 2009. After graduating from Texas Tech University, Gamblin worked a yearlong residency at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks where he also served as an adjunct professor, teaching ceramic courses.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New JSTOR resources available

JSTOR announced on September 6 that they were making journal content published in JSTOR prior to 1923 in the United States and prior to 1870 elsewhere available to anyone. According to a statement from JSTOR, this "early journal content" includes "discourse and scholarship in the arts and humanities, economics and politics, and in mathematics and other sciences." It will include nearly 500,000 articles from more than 200 journals. The content is being released on a rolling basis starting today. For more information about the content or how to access it, visit JSTOR's website.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Paper mosaic exhibit in Vise Library

Paper Mosaics

by Heloise Shilstat

Vise Library

August 15 – October 15, 2011

Heloise Shilstat grew up in Manchester, Tennessee and now lives in Murfreesboro. Her paper mosaics were created from cut or torn magazine paper, glued onto foam core board. She states, “I started making these pictures in 2006 after reading that this technique is sometimes used to teach art students to recognize subtleties in shading. Ideas for my pictures usually come from nature. In Manchester, we lived on the Little Duck River; now I live in the woods on the East Fork of the Stones River in Rutherford County. My quilt pictures were inspired by the quilts made by a Rutherford County woman.” Ms. Shilstat is a member of the Murfreesboro Art League and the Stones River Craft Association.