The Leadership Program is pleased to announce a number of exciting programs and opportunities for fall semester. Below you will find a list of these programs and projects that focus on “Community,” the theme that guides this year’s IC Connections program.
The Al Habtoor Leadership Lecture
Washington Post reporter Eli Saslow, author of Ten Letters: The Stories Americans Tell Their President, joined us on October 16 as the Al Habtoor Lecturer. The book description on Amazon notes that “[i]n this inspiring and powerful look at the issues facing Americans today, reporter Saslow creates vivid portraits of the lives of 10 citizens who corresponded with President Obama. Their letters, and the President’s handwritten responses, tell of the personal struggles behind everything from healthcare to immigration to war. One mother writes to express her fears about the well-being of a son currently deployed in Afghanistan. A young girl in Kentucky shares her frustrations while attending one of the country’s worst schools, and the President relies on her story in his push for education reform. What these 10 letters reveal about the relationship between a president and the people he governs is deeply affecting, and what ultimately emerges from within the stories is the incredible endurance and optimism of the American people.” Ten Letters is not a book about the presidency. It is, as Dean wrote to Saslow, “the most human and humane treatment of public policy that [she had] ever read.” It is not partisan. It is about people who feel they have nowhere else to turn, but to pick up a pencil and write their most deeply felt concerns and fears, even knowing that their letters will probably never reach the President. Obama himself believes that it is in these letters that he has the best chance to learn what Americans are truly feeling and dealing with in their lives.
Saslow presented a public presentation on October 16 in Sibert Theatre. Following Saslow’s presentation, he joined Illinois College students, faculty and staff in a Presidential Debate Watch Party in the Multi-Cultural Center. On Wednesday, he met with four classes before he returned to Washington: U.S. Federal Government; two first-year seminars, Children and Poverty and Abraham Lincoln; and finally met with Leadership Fellows and the leadership class.
A second Leadership Program project this semester connects IC Connection’s 2012 theme, “Community,” to the entire campus and invites all first-year seminars, all other classes, organizations and groups, and even individuals to participate. We have obtained an art piece, “Building Blocks,” created by Holly Anderson to explore inclusion among diverse communities, fully in keeping with the Leadership Program’s own mission and vision.
The piece was first featured in a 2011 show at the University of Arizona and now has a permanent home at Illinois College. The artist is disabled and has found that art has helped her adjust to the chronic pain with which she must live. Generally a modern abstract artist, this piece is a bit of a departure from her usual work. She created it with the explicit desire that it might serve to inspire others to think about how we connect to one another and is thrilled that it will do just that at Illinois College, given its institutional commitment to human rights and justice. The Leadership Program has also presented every first-year student with a small copy of the print, each signed by the artist.
In the hope that the piece will indeed be inspirational, the Leadership Program has invited first-year seminars, all other classes, organizations and groups, departments and offices, and even individuals to design their own creative pieces that explore the theme of community, especially as it might be examined from the perspective of a particular class or organization. We hope that with enough submissions we will be able to participate in Jacksonville’s December Gallery Hop featuring Anderson’s piece as well as all those created by members of the Illinois College community. We believe this to be an exciting time for this project, with the kick-off of our new General Education Program and its explicit attention to “Connections,” in the year when the first-year program celebrates “Community,” and at a time when the city of Jacksonville is dedicated to highlighting its own emphasis on community as well. In her artist statement, Anderson expresses a deep commitment to multicultural perspectives, and her piece calls us to reflect on our own understandings and reflections about community. This project provides us with the opportunity to share our own versions widely.
Campus Screening of the film, "Connected"
The third opportunity sponsored by the Leadership Program this fall — again to build on the theme of community— is to make use of the film, “Connected.” The film made its world premier at the Sundance Film Festival and has been described by The Atlantic as “[a]n intensely personal exploration of what human connection means in our modern, technology-obsessed world.” Illinois College is in illustrious company in our decision to feature “Connected:” the film was recently selected by the U.S. State Department and University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts for their 2012 American Film Showcase. “Connected” is co-written (with husband Ken Goldberg), edited and directed by award-winning filmmaker, Tiffany Shlain, named by Newsweek as one of the “women shaping the 21st century.” Not surprisingly, given its title, the film is intentionally appropriate for any discipline. The Leadership Program will sponsor one public viewing. There are no limitations on the number of times it may be used in classes and organizations.
Connecting to the Invisible Children
Leadership Fellow Katie Stroud (also Rambler editor and IC Connections student director) has arranged to have representatives from the Invisible Children organization [the group that sponsored the STOP KONY 2012 video that brought worldwide attention to the atrocities committed in Uganda by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) this past spring] to visit Illinois College on Tuesday evening, November 6, to present their newest film.
The event is co-sponsored by The Rambler and the Leadership Program. Invisible Children’s last video touched the hearts of millions of people around the world as it went viral (can you say, “connected?”), but the group also faced stiff criticism as well. The organization is now involved in a national tour to update colleges, universities and communities on the status of their work.
Service Trip to Joplin, Missouri
Leadership Fellow Mariah Sisson has been selected by the McCormick Foundation as one of only six college students in the state of Illinois to be a Civic Engaged Scholar. In this context we have designated her as Civic Engagement Assistant and Liaison for the Sciences at Illinois College, a role that she looks forward to fulfilling as a part of her work in the Leadership Program. Mariah is organizing a service trip to Joplin immediately following final exams. Illinois College students will join other volunteers in Rebuild Joplin to help in the huge undertaking that continues following the May 2011 tornado that leveled virtually the entire town and killed over 100 people. The Leadership Program will support the students who participate in this service program. We also hope to offer this service trip again in the spring.
Introducing Oxfam to Illinois College
Leadership Fellow Bret Thixton was selected as one of only 50 undergraduate students from around the nation and the world to take part in Oxfam America’s 2012 CHANGE Initiative, their national leadership program. He trained with the national organizations in Boston during Summer 2012 and has returned to campus armed with “the resources needed to exercise leadership and make a difference in the global fight against hunger, poverty and injustice.” He is working now to establish an Illinois College chapter of Oxfam. This fall the organization will examine mineral extraction, and their efforts will shift in the spring semester to focus on women’s empowerment.
The Helen A. Dean Community Garden
The Community Garden has ended its second year of service to the Jacksonville community. This year, the garden expanded its mission to attend more intentionally to the issue of food security in Jacksonville and to connect with our new association with Oxfam America. In addition to providing fresh produce to the garden’s neighbors and friends, we were able to donate well over 500 pounds of fruit and vegetables to the Jacksonville Food Center. Young people attended an educational program hosted by the garden as well. Illinois College student volunteers and classes helped to prepare the garden for planting and for winter. We look forward to the addition of a volunteer supervisor for the garden next summer and building on our commitment to local food security.
Interested in connecting to or co-sponsoring one of these events? Need more information?