On January 21, the Augsburg Art Galleries will open a new exhibition featuring nine local, Black women and femme designers. TO ILLUMINATE ABUNDANCE, curated by Olivia House ’20 and Silent Fox ’18 of 13.4 Collective, explores what it means to live a life full of love, freedom, and light.
TO ILLUMINATE ABUNDANCE brings together nine Black designers at various stages in their careers. House and Fox invited contributing graphic designers to reflect on and illuminate a text, quote, or lyric that helps imagine what it could look like to move forward and towards more; to help envision what life is like when it feels full. The exhibition features work by Ashley Koudou, Kelsi Sharp, Leeya Rose Jackson, Marcia Rowe ’22, Olivia Anizor, Sabrina Peitz, and Terresa Moses, as well as House and Fox.
“This show is meant to express what our world should be: a world in which Black femmes are able to live a life without pain or suffering; a life full of light,” said House.
An opening reception for TO ILLUMINATE ABUNDANCE will take place on Saturday, January 21. The curators and artists of the show will gather for an artist talk on Thursday, February 2 at the Hagfors Center to contextualize their work and their view of the exhibition within a broader landscape of making, community, politics, and futurism. This event is featured as part of The Great Northern festival, happening January 25–February 5 around the Twin Cities metro area. The Great Northern celebrates Minnesota’s cold, creative winters through 10 days of diverse programming that invigorate mind and body.
In 1997, Augsburg University was one of just four colleges and universities with a formal collegiate recovery program. Today, StepUP® at Augsburg University is one of the oldest and largest residential collegiate recovery programs in the United States accompanied with sober living. More than 700 students have graduated from the program, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2022.
The Phoenix Spirit recently published a piece by Nell Hurley, recruitment and outreach coordinator for StepUP, tracing the program’s history and impact.
“StepUP is so much more than a sober dorm,” Jon Stentz, one of StepUP’s Licensed Alcohol and Drug counselors, told Hurley. “It’s the connection and the community that students find here that makes all the difference. It’s been said that connection is the opposite of addiction. The StepUP connection is where the magic is. Our students support each other and hold each other accountable. They’re all in this together, both the college journey and the recovery journey.”
StepUP offers a robust program of support and accountability that includes clinical support, random drug testing, weekly meetings, recovery service opportunities, and optional but regular social outings like rock climbing, camping trips, and game nights.
For more than four decades, Augsburg University has ushered in the Advent and Christmas seasons with Advent Vespers, a magnificent experience of music and liturgy, focusing on the theme of preparation and culminating in the joyful celebration of the Incarnation.
The 43rd Advent Vespers will be held in person at Central Lutheran Church in downtown Minneapolis, with one livestream option available.
Thursday, December 1, 2022 at 8 p.m. (open dress rehearsal)
The event is free, with a suggested donation of $30 per person. Seating envelopes are required for entry and are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. They can be requested online, by mail, or in person at the Augsburg Music Office. Seats are going fast—reserve your spot today.
Towering over Hennepin Avenue, the black-and-white photograph of a journalist with fist raised stops people in their tracks.
The artist behind this complex, arresting image? Reggie Agyen-Boateng ’21.
Agyen-Boateng majored in sociology at Augsburg and now works professionally under the name Kusi Photography. He is one of seven artists featured in “It’s the People,” a public art installation in downtown Minneapolis coordinated by the Hennepin Theatre Trust. His portrait of independent journalist King Demetrius Pendleton was chosen to anchor the project with a multi-story billboard on 900 Hennepin Avenue for the next year.
“My participation in “It’s the People” is my way of honoring the countless victims who have lost their lives to police violence,” said Agyen-Boateng in his artist statement. “It also allows me to give back to my community in a meaningful way after the suffering that Minnesota has endured over the years.
“Working with King Demetrius Pendleton to capture his lived history in a single portrait challenged me to think about the complex layers and intersectionality of Black identities and lived experiences. This way of examining identity moved my work as an artist forward into new territory. It also became a way to document and truth-tell through images.”
Now in its fourth year, the 2022 project also features large-scale photos oftheatre artists, arts leaders creating programming with youth experiencing homelessness, concert venue staff, Indigenous restauranteurs, student artists, and queer leaders. Learn more about “It’s the People” from Hennepin Theatre Trust.
A new audio documentary from APM Reports highlights how four Indigenous college students are using higher education to strengthen ties to their Native roots and support their people. One of the students the project follows is Reuben Kitto Stately ’22. In his segment, Stately also interviews Associate Professor Eric Buffalohead, chair of American Indian, First Nations, and Indigenous studies.
“I was pretty dead set on American Indian studies by the time I was in 10th grade,” says Stately. “I knew that American Indian studies would help me fill in the gaps for all the times in which I don’t understand colonization here in America—how have Native people from all these different nations all become American, in what ways have we totally assimilated, in what ways have we resisted?
“For my whole education, I have known that whatever I learn here at Augsburg, I’m going to take back to my people. To me, it’s an act of resistance because you’re able to indigenize new space or you strengthen the space that your people are already in.”
María Belén Power ’07 was recently featured in a WBUR story that also aired on All Things Considered from National Public Radio. Belén Power is associate executive director at GreenRoots in Chelsea, Massachusetts. The environmental justice organization is collaborating with the city and Boston University to pilot a host of cooling strategies on a densely populated Chelsea block, from planting trees to replacing asphalt with lighter-colored material.
In addition to improving local residents’ well-being, the Cool Block project serves as a template for other cities as climate change brings longer, hotter summers, increasing health risks in urban heat islands.
“Some days we feel like—what?—are we really having an impact? Like, is this really going to prevent the climate crisis?” Belén Power told WBUR’s Martha Bebinger. “And then I think, ‘It’s no longer about preventing it. It’s about protecting the most vulnerable communities.’”
A new Critical Race and Ethnicity Studies department and a requirement that all faculty and staff complete diversity, equity, and inclusion training are among efforts at Augsburg University to combat systemic racism after the police killing of George Floyd near our Minneapolis campus.
“We acknowledge the pain, fear, and trauma faced by the Augsburg community, especially our students, faculty, and staff of color, that was amplified in recent weeks but remains a lived reality every day,” said Paul Pribbenow, the university’s president.
The Justice for George Floyd Initiatives being planned are an important continuation of our ongoing work to build and maintain an equitable and inclusive campus. This work by Augsburg will be persistent, resolute, courageous, and integrated into everything the university does. The Justice for George Floyd Initiatives focus on working to heal our community, creating leadership and structures that make tangible change, and ensuring accountability for the work of undoing racist systems. These initiatives include:
Funding an emerging proposal from faculty, staff, and students for a Critical Race and Ethnicity Studies department.
Completion by all faculty and staff of our robust diversity and inclusion certificate program within the next two years—and anti-racist training by the end of the fall semester.
Creating a scholarship at Augsburg in memory of George Floyd.
Establishing a fund to match donations from students, faculty, and staff to organizations doing important work, especially for Black-owned businesses and nonprofit organizations.
Expecting new accountability for inclusive, anti-racist leadership across the institution.
Reviewing Augsburg’s major academic and administrative policies and practices with a special focus on undoing bias and discrimination and enhancing student success.
Creating a new blog-format daily calendar on the Equity and Inclusion Initiatives Department webpage that lists community events and volunteer opportunities connected to the memory of George Floyd. The calendar will also have a Google form available for Augsburg community members to submit information about their own events, or events they wish to have added.
About Augsburg Augsburg University, celebrating its 150th anniversary, offers more than 50 undergraduate majors and 11 graduate degrees to 3,400 students of diverse backgrounds at its campus in the vibrant center of the Twin Cities and nearby Rochester, Minnesota, location. Augsburg educates students to be informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders. An Augsburg education is defined by excellence in the liberal arts and professional studies, guided by the faith and values of the Lutheran church, and shaped by its urban and global settings. Learn more at Augsburg.edu.
HealthPartners Institute, researchers at the University of Minnesota, and Modern Logic have teamed up to create the SafeDistance smartphone application and website, a new tool that helps users track COVID-19 outbreaks using crowd-sourced information from anonymous users.
The free app sends notifications as users travel through high-risk areas. “As you’re moving around, you’ll actually see if you’re going into a higher risk area or you’re coming from a higher risk area,” Brian Krohn ’08 told Kare 11. Krohn is a project manager and entrepreneur-in-residence at Minneapolis-based Modern Logic and technical lead on the SafeDistance project.
Users of the app take a short COVID-19 symptom survey and then see a map of their neighborhood, as well as other neighborhoods. Data will not be used for-profit and users will not be asked for identifiable information. The app also offers tips about health risks and how to maintain social distancing.
Krohn, a Rhodes Scholar, has been described as a “Minnesota “Genius”. His undergraduate research at Augsburg University led him to a “Good Morning America” appearance in which he talked about a process to produce environmentally-friendly fuel, which was later commercialized in the development of a $9 million pilot plant. Among Krohn’s creations are surgery tools,wizard staffs, a cycling workout app, the Soundly app, and more recently, SafeDistance.
While the app launched recently in Minnesota, it is expected to expand across the country soon.