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The Rope Swing is a Green Mountain College Student run blog. We hope that you enjoy learning about the college as you follow each of our eleven bloggers. Each student has a different unique story to tell and will guide you through their own journey at Green Mountain College. Read more  >>

 

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Saturday
Dec132014

Annie’s Super Helpful Tips For Surviving Finals

So, it is almost that time of the semester again when sweatpants become a integral part of your outfit and mental breaks are scarily frequent; that’s right folks, it is almost finals time. Although finals are almost always stressful and terrible, there are ways to make it better. 

So, I give you my ten tips on how to survive finals.

 

1. Invest in a french press. 

Late nights will happen. Caffeine will be needed. Do yourself a favor and buy a french press so you can brew coffee whenever you need.

I’ve taken the liberty of finding an amazon link for one: http://amzn.to/129XT1Q 

Feel free to shop around though. 

You’re welcome. Now you are armed and ready for any all-nighters that might happen during finals. 

2. Library floor naps are totally acceptable. 

If it feels like your brain is about to crack, or you’re about to fall asleep, feel no shame in taking a nap on the library floor. In fact, I would recommend it. The floor is surprisingly comfortable and cozy, especially if you go near one of the heaters. Maybe even bring a blanket. 

3. Friends. 

No, not the show, although it is totally acceptable to take a break and binge watch some Friends episodes if that’s what you need. 

What I mean is your real life human people whose company you most enjoy. Keep them close for moral support, because chances are you are seriously going to need it at some point. Just a little bit of encouragement from a friend could just be the boost you need to finish that last paragraph.  

4. P.R.T 

Also known as the Positive Reinforcement Theory as developed by yours truly. Basically, it’s the extremely scientific theory that positively rewarding oneself after a success will better encourage overall productivity. (Nobel Peace Prize, here I come)

Begin by creating a small goal, such as finishing writing a paragraph, or reading a chapter, and stick to it. Once you’ve completed your goal, let yourself have a reward, whether that be in the form of chocolate, five minutes on BuzzFeed, or watching a funny cat video. Whatever it may be just:

Now, there is a fine line between following  P.R.T and procrastination, so just be cautious. Don’t do that thing where you go on BuzzFeed and then twelve quizzes later you realize you still have six pages to finish writing. 

Just set attainable goals, and once you feel you’ve achieved enough quality work, allow yourself a little five minute distraction. You’d be amazed at how taking a few small breaks to do whatever you please helps to encourage productivity. Celebrate those small victories! With cat videos!

5. Sweatpants

During the crunch time of finals, no one has time to worry about if they look good. So don’t fret about rocking out some sweatpants,because they are cozy, comfortable and lovely in every way.  Just what you need in these stressful times. How cool would it be to have sweatpants for your brain? But since that’s impossible (for now anyway…I’m looking at you science), just enjoy the beautiful comfort of a pair of sweats. 

6. SNAX

This one is kind of a no brainer, but I figured I’d put it in here anyway. Having some nice snacks while studying is always nice. Not only can they help you focus, but snacks are also great because they can hep fill the void in your soul that’s created during finals time. 

 I personally recommend dried mango strips because they are amazing and delicious. Also, chocolate. 

7.Yay outdoors!

As soon as you feel the library slowly sucking the remnants of your soul away, take a break. Go walk outside. Commune with nature. We’re Green Mountain College after all. A little outside time can do a world of good and help get your brain back on track.

8. The early bird catches the worm

Not to sound like too much of a nagging parent, but the sooner you can get started on things, the better. I don’t really have to tell you that, because we all know this. We all understand this to be true. And yet, we almost always find ourselves with only two days left to complete a massive paper. Procrastination is programmed into every college students brain, we can’t really help it. (That is a real fact) 

BUT, if you have the time to start something early DO IT, your future self will be so grateful to past you. 

9. Tunes

Nothing is better than your favorite music to get you in the zone to do some studying or paper writing. Get together a playlist that will inspire deep focus, get you psyched for an exam, or help once you’ve had the inevitable brain crack.

For some inspiration, I’ve put together a small playlist:

-All I Do Is Cry, Etta James (because it’s finals time…)

-Born To Die, Lana Del Rey (again..finals. Ya know)

-Blank Space, Taylor Swift (for the one question you can’t answer on your test….also because it’s been stuck in my head for the past three weeks)

-Eye of the Tiger, Survivor (because duh. An excellent pump up jam)

-Wannabe, Spice Girls (because seriously, who doesn’t like to get down to this song?)

-Hold On, Wilson Philips (Having an total full on lip-syncing jam sesh before attempting any work will make you believe you can attain anything. Trust me. I’m an expert.)

-At Last, Etta James (for when you finally finish your work)

10. YDY

Or, as the great Tyler Oakley once said, “You do you”. Whatever study tactics work for you, follow them! You know what works best for yourself personally, so do that! 

And just know that finals will be over soon, and before you know it, it’ll be break time. 

 

So good luck to all you lovely humans and just remember:

You got this dude :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday
Dec112014

Enjoying A Snow Day

By Natalie House

In the past few days, Poultney has gotten almost a foot of snow! With snow comes the end of the semester and the start of the holiday season. Students and faculty are enjoying festivities around this time of year like the holiday dinner, winter play, and midnight breakfast. The blanket of snow has brought a lot of cheer to students who are finishing up final projects and preparing for finals.

 

You know it's finals season when students begin to stay at meals longer and spend a lot of time in the library. The snow also plays a big role in slowing down the pace of life on campus. The dining hall staff have been whipping out comfort foods like chicken pot pie and macaroni and cheese, which is really appreciated by everyone.

 

I really like to go for walks in the snow, especially when it's the wet, slushy kind. I took some photos yesterday because my morning class was cancelled. The snow and holiday decorations give the town an extra special feel.

 

 

 

Tuesday
Dec092014

Student Project 

by Krista Lee

GMC students Owen Tatum and Lily Schulte engaged GMC this semester by giving students social justice prompts of the day for a week in December. This idea came out of a class that Vance Jackson teaches called “Multicultural and Diversity Awareness” that was offered this semester. After a unit of social justice theory  Owen and Lily created this project as an opportunity to have students engage in prosocial behavior and critical thinking.

The project was also inspired after another student led project earlier this semester, the consent play & discussion. The consent play and discussion engaged students without making it a formal setting where people were being talked at. The consent play found a way to be funny and serious while engaging the audience in critical thinking and education on a variety of topics including what constitutes as assault, what consent looks like, and how to be an active bystander.

Lily and Owen wanted to create a project that was engaging and allowed conversations to happen over a period of time and have an engaging way to interact with ones education outside of the classroom. Bringing social justice issues to the forefront of the collective consciousness of the student body at GMC. While many students think about this and engage in political action and conversations on a daily basis many do not. This project helped bridge the gap and get students talking from different social groups on topics including the current justice/injustice system, sex work, nonviolent direct action vs. violent direct action, among other topics.

Artists engage in this medium across the nation and globe and Lily and Owen were inspired by Steve Lambart who is an activist artist who uses the public to engage in his art by asking thought provoking questions. “For me, art is a bridge that connects uncommon, idealistic, or even radical ideas with everyday life. I carefully craft various conditions where I can discuss these ideas with people and have a mutually meaningful exchange. I want my art to be relevant to those outside the gallery – say, at the nearest bus stop – to reach them in ways that are engaging and fun.” To see some of Steve’s projects check out his website at http://visitsteve.com/bio/

Through a “Social Justice Prompt of the Day” Owen and Lily’s lined up within the week of Ferguson and stood outside of the GMC dining hall to engage students in talking about what was happening in current events and in the national/global climate.  One of the lasting goals of this project is to have a “social justice prompt of the week” on a cardboard sign posted outside of the GMC dining hall each week throughout the semester.

People were meant to examine issues and topics in ways that they may have never, and by looking at social justice topics with empathy through dialogue and conversations and empathetically extend themselves. One of the first steps in realizing social justice and how to be an activist is through listening to other peoples struggles and successes by engaging in dialogue. The importance of meaningful conversations about important topics should never be undervalued because this is often a primary way that change happens, it starts out by people coming together to talk.

If you are interested in other engaging art activist projects check out “Between the Door and the Street” by Suzanne Lacy http://brooklynquarterly.org/stoop-scenes/

Tuesday
Dec092014

Midwifery! Through the Feminists looking glass- By Seraphina Mallon-Breiman

To begin, a midwife is a professional person within the realm of obstetrics, which is the health and medical field that revolves around pregnancy and childbirth. My desire to study this practice more extensively stems from a more personal outlook; I was born with the help of a midwife. I have a lot of respect for the woman who assisted my home-birth. In fact, she has been actively involved in my life since I can remember. But, I did not realize how alternative or bizarre this form child delivery is for so many people. Childbirth is obviously a huge part of what happens in the world and a huge part of women’s lives in general and I believe that the discomfort that many people face with the subject matter comes from a huge lack of midwifery information and an overall misunderstanding of the entire process. From the dawn of time, humans have cast aside things they don’t understand with fear and have replaced those things with negative stigmas that cloud the way the rest of society can see them. 

As with many subfields within feminism, midwifery has changed greatly throughout history. I will provide a brief historical timeline of some of these important changes. Around the late 1700s and early 1800s, obstetrics was becoming more popular in childbirth for higher-class people. Midwives were not seen as capable of learning the complex obstetric skill. Cesareans were done, but not successfully. Infection was common because germ theory had not been recognized yet. Women received care from other women in their community and the shift to obstetrics from midwifery started with rich white women in urban settings. During the mid 1800s, the “Popular Health Movement” began and created the idea that there is personal responsibility involved with ones health.  Elizabeth Blackwell entered the scene as the first woman to graduate from medical school after applying to dozens of schools and only getting into one, even though she was at the top of her class.  Additionally, the AMA (American Medical Association) was founded to enforce standards on medicine and practice. Walter Channing started using ether for women during labor for “humane” reasons, beginning the use of anesthetics for childbirth.

During the second half of the 1800s there was an epidemic of puerperal fever due to uncleanliness in the procedures conducted by physicians. Luis Pastor then coined germ theory, encouraging more people to go to the hospital instead of a midwife. The increased use of phones also began making local midwives less critically needed. As the 1900s began, so did the rise of capitalization. The AMA began passing legislative bills to define medicine and create standard practice laws. Obstetrics became more focused on antibacterial medicines and more conscious of isolating sick patients from others. Hospitals started becoming for-profit businesses, generating more doctors and offering higher pay. Larger cities began opening entire units for obstetrics within their hospitals. Medical associations became affiliated with malpractice insurance availability.

As the century went on, prejudice against the intelligence and capability of women, immigrants, black people and poor people was used to defame midwifery.  Midwives were not in a power position. They made very little money and were not seen as professional practitioners.  Midwives took care of women who could not afford a doctor. Most women within this time period were more attracted to hospitals because they could offer painless birth, which was not available at home. In 1960, the Flexner Report revealed that ninety percent of doctors were practicing without a college education and almost all of them had attended substandard medical schools. However, their reputation still outweighed that of a midwife.

Historically in early traditions, men were not present in any active role in the birth room, but this dramatically shifted over the course of history. Men used to only enter the birth room after something disastrous had occurred. Their job was to either cut the fetus out of the mother and to bury it separately according to tradition, or to baptize the baby while still inside the mother with “holy” water to assure it’s passage to heaven if it died before it was born. Midwifery is now more common in foreign countries than it is within the US, whose citizens utilize obstetricians more regularly. 

Cultural forces began driving a shift in attitude about sexuality and childbirth between 1959 and the present. The 60’s free love and anti-institution ideals influenced the natural childbirth movement as well as women’s liberation movement. In 1963 The Feminine Mystique was published and women began to question their gender roles and believe that they were more than a gender stereotype and that they could be different. Some women started to feel like they were in control of their sexual lives and became present in their bodies. Intentional communities like The Farm in 1970’s helped spread the natural childbirth movement, refusing to use anesthetics. Women there trained themselves to be midwives and wrote books and lectures to help spread the movement. 

Misconceptions of midwifery have persisted through centuries. Before the 1940s, our knowledge of their existence simply labeled them as nurturing women assisting each other’s natural life processes, but with no title of legitimate education fueling their action. However, times are always changing and I believe that this is true for the midwife’s practice as well. Ten years ago, midwives delivered 3 percent of the babies in the US and now that number has arisen to 10 percent. I think that as the use of hospitals and antibiotics become less effective, the presence of midwives will become even more necessary. Midwives will become more widely understood and respected for what they are, assistants to the entire birthing process, which has always been more than just the delivery of a baby. 

Monday
Dec082014

The Kombucha Culture

Kombucha. It’s a word just about as common as “sustainable” or “GMO” here at Green Mountain College. Just about everyone you talk to; students and professors alike have drank or do drink this fermented beverage. But what exactly is it, and why is it so popular in the GMC culture?

Well, I, investigative journalist extraordinaire, took it upon myself to find out. 

Komucha is a “sugar-sweetened tea fermented by a community of organisms into a delicious sour tonic beverage” according to fermentation guru, Sandor Katz. Basically it is tea, most commonly black tea, that is fermented by adding sugar and something called a SCOBY. 

(Sandor Katz. What a cool kat...z.)

What is a SCOBY you ask? 

Well, picture an alien baby. Slimy. An odd grayish color. An object that seems like it shouldn’t go in something you consume. Yeah, that is a SCOBY. Now, despite that less than appealing description, they are vital to the fermentation process. It takes the form of a rubbery disk that floats on the surface of the tea as it ferments. 

SCOBY stands for “symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast”. Basically, it is a happy little colony of yeast and bacteria that are really excellent at consuming sugars. Much like children around halloween… Anyway, as this colony munches away on the sugar, it causes the tea to ferment, and soon enough it becomes kombucha. 

                  <----A real live SCOBY

 

In an effort to better understand a bit more about the kombucha culture here on campus, I talked to a few students.  

Firstly, I chatted with my good friend Sam, a Vermonter, cow milking ninja, and part time SCOBY dealer. She first tried kombucha in high school, but decided that at the time it wasn’t her “cup of tea” (get it? tea? eh?). It wasn’t until she arrived here at GMC did her attitude towards kombucha change. 

Her first year here, she tried some kombucha made by a friend of hers, and soon after was given a SCOBY by the same friend. Sam was really pleased with how her first batch turned out, and has been making her own kombucha ever since. 

In the time Sam has been fermenting her own kombucha, she has also become quite the SCOBY peddler. You see, making kombucha is an ongoing process. The SCOBY must be submerged in tea and fed sugar in order to survive. As they do their thing, they get bigger and often make new layers, which in turn means new SCOBY’s. So,as she's been fermenting and making this beverage, Sam has created several new SCOBY’s. In the year she’s been doing this, she has already distributed five to friends in Vermont, and a few in Wisconsin.

And just like that, after coming to GMC, Sam went from skeptical bystander, to an integral part of the SCOBY trade and kombucha culture here on campus. 

Before departing, I asked her why she thought kombucha was such a big part of Green Mountain culture. 

“It’s something the government isn’t really messing with, so I think that appeals to people”  she says with the air of a true Green Mountain College student. You rebels you. Keep on keeping on.

I then talked with Matty, a self described kombucha virgin. Never before has this New Yorker tasted kombucha, but she had heard of it before coming to Green Mountain. She remembers first seeing it at a Whole Foods in Connecticut. However this first encounter was not nearly as memorable as the first time she saw a SCOBY while at the Rutland Farmer’s Market. 

“To be honest, SCOBYs freak me out” she recounts. Me too Matty, me too. And, because of this, she has no inclination to make her own, but she loves how it contributes to the community of our school. 

As I left, I asked her the same question I asked Sam, “Why do you think kombucha is such a thing at GMC?”

“When one person is into something, their friends are too. It’s kind of like a cold on campus; it spreads like wildfire” she replies. “I also think people like it because it is easy to do, it’s a form of slow food and homesteading” she adds insightfully. Despite never having tasted it herself, Matty touched on the most important reason for the wide spread kombucha culture here.

 

UPDATE: Since conducting this interview, Matty has tried Kombucha, upon my urging. I recommended she buy a mango flavored kombucha available at the co-op (my personal favorite), and give it a try. Her reaction was film worthy and it will be one of my life’s regrets knowing I wasn’t able to capture it visually. Simply put, Matty was not a fan. 

 After much reflection of my investigations (picture a cop movie style montage; jogging, kombucha photos on a pin board connected by red yard, pushups,close SCOBY examination, more jogging) I have come to this conclusion:

The kombucha culture here at GMC is just a by product of our small, caring community and the views we share. 

It’s about more than just plopping an alien fetus into tea and letting it ferment. 

It’s about creating something.

It’s about taking part in slow food.

It’s about sharing a SOCBY with a friend.

It’s about practicing what we preach.

 

It’s just a Green Mountain thing. 

And with that, I bid you adieu and happy fermenting.