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Thursday, April 13, 2006

  • Anthropologist studies mining town
  • Changes and notes and a goose
  • Good Friday and a long weekend
Chris Redmond

Spring festivals | Sri Lankan new year

UW team 12th in ACM contest

UW's team placed 12th among 84 teams in yesterday's world finals of the ACM Intercollegiate Programming Contest, held in San Antonio, Texas.

Members of the team -- who reached the finals by winning the East Central North America regional competition last fall -- were Tor Myklebust (combinatorics and optimization), David Pritchard (C&O graduate student) and Kats Gupta (software engineering). "Congratulations also," writes team coach Gordon Cormack, "to Simon Parent, who won the Extreme Java Challenge, an open event the previous day."

World champion in the ACM this year was Russia's Saratov State University. Top-ranking North American university was the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 8th place; the University of Alberta came 11th, just ahead of UW.

Anthropologist studies mining town -- shortened from the Arts Research Update newsletter

When the mine dries up, what's a community to do to stem the tide of outmigration and economic decline? This is the problem faced by Cobalt, a small town about six hours' drive north of Toronto.

[Stern] At the turn of the 20th century, silver was discovered in the area, sparking a "silver rush" and the appearance of Cobalt, a mining camp turned boomtown. When the silver ran out, Cobalt's thriving economy took a severe hit. "As early as the 1950s, planners were saying that given the circumstances, Cobalt should've died -- but it didn't," says Pamela Stern (left), professor in UW's anthropology department. "People have a fierce attachment to this town. I'm interested in that attachment, and as a researcher, I'm curious about the forms of community action that such drive can give rise to."

Stern, along with economic geographer Peter Hall, is currently engaged in a SSHRC-funded ethnographic study of development efforts in Cobalt and the surrounding region. It aims not only to understand Cobalt's particular situation, but to shed light on the process of developments driven by non-profit citizens groups in economically stressed regions of Canada.

The responsibility for community and economic development falls to local communities and groups who must compete for government funds to support their projects. The challenge is a pressing one for many towns traditionally dependent on extractive industries like mining or forestry. There are many competing visions. Some in the North are hoping for a new mining boom -- maybe diamonds. Others are looking to different forms of development. Elliot Lake, for example, chose to reinvent itself as a low-cost retirement haven after the closing of its uranium mines. Other proposals for economic development include call centres, industrial waste disposal, and tourism.

One idea proposed for Cobalt is to attract artists and other creative people. A non-profit group called the Deepwater Regional Development Group has started work on an initiative that includes a live-work space for artists and other creative individuals. Inspired by the ideas expressed in Richard Florida's book The Rise of the Creative Class (2002), the DRDC plans to establish a centre that will combine studio, living, and exhibition space for artists and musicians. This space, housed in a renovated historical building, would also serve as a venue for public performances and art classes.

According to Florida, regions that are able to foster creativity have higher rates of innovation and thus are best positioned to succeed in the post-industrial "knowledge economy." By creating an artist-friendly town, the DRDC hopes to facilitate the creative, tolerant and diverse culture that is attractive to the members of what Florida terms the "creative class." DRDC's plans are only in their preliminary stages, but other initiatives in town have also emphasized the arts: a long-boarded-up vaudeville theatre has reopened as a community theatre and also houses an art gallery, and an historic mine head frame now houses a coffee shop and vegetarian restaurant.

Will DRDC's creativity strategy work? Time will tell, but Stern notes that there are the geographic issues of size and distance from larger urban centres, the pragmatic issues of getting enough funding, and the day-to-day matters of coordinating around a particular development project. This last factor is of special interest to Stern.

"As an anthropologist, I'm interested in the ways that citizens come together to generate a vision for their community, how they develop a sense of what's possible, and how that understanding evolves and is shaped both locally and externally," says Stern. "I'm also interested in tracing the more pragmatic issues of how these community non-profits recruit people to their cause, and how they negotiate with other local groups working towards complementary -- or sometimes conflicting -- goals."

Stern's study will include extensive interviews with representative groups in town, as well as archival research into the town's history and previous development initiatives. "Anthropologists study why and how people do what they do -- I can think of no better context for this kind of study than a small town in northern Ontario."

  • Students 'still shortchanged' in university-government agreements (Urquhart, Star)
  • Introducing the alumni and communications officer in engineering
  • Summary of the federal-provincial 'equalization' battle (Urquhart, Star)
  • 2006 census set for Tuesday, May 16
  • Ontario government supports next phase of Toronto bioscience district
  • WLU's tentative plans for faculty of education (Record)
  • 'The Multitasking Generation' (Time cover story on teens and electronics)
  • High school dropouts' jobless rate twice that of degree holders
  • 'You will have hated it, but you will get a job'
  • Changes and notes and a goose

    The spring term -- which starts on Monday, May 1 -- will be ending a day earlier than originally announced, thanks to a change in the calendar as approved by UW's senate. The last day of classes will be Tuesday, July 25, rather than Wednesday, July 26. The change, which is now reflected on the registrar's office web site and other such places, is the result of a need for two days to hold distance education exams, not just one, senate was told. The shortened term is still within the standards for the number of teaching days in a term, and on-campus exams will still be starting on Monday, July 31.

    "Campus wireless laptop users will notice another change effective Friday," writes Erick Engelke from the engineering computing office. "MinUWet now has memory. MinUWet is the security agent which inspects Windows computers as they connect to the campus wireless network and determines if the laptop is safe enough to granted premium network access, or if it is unsafe and will be limited to web-only. The newest version remembers if you passed its tests, and then it automatically skips retesting for a week in the current zone." For purposes of wireless services, he explains, UW is divided into five zones (Architecture, Arts, Engineering, Science, "and the rest is split into two zones managed by IST"). The Architecture zone doesn't have MinUWet yet, but the system automatically checks all laptops that connect in the other four regions.

    An announcement of interest from Imprint: "Starting Spring 2006, UW will be able to claim home to yet another field of study. Imprint, the University of Waterloo's official student newspaper, is sponsoring an intensive 12-week workshop on print journalism entitled 'Introduction to Journalism.' The workshop will offer students the opportunity to learn journalism and practice it in the real world. It is designed to promote constructive dialogue between students regarding the future of the media. UW students will be encouraged to innovate in the field of journalism. Students will learn a variety of tools designed to help them construct a portfolio and begin a career in the media industry. They will learn about journalistic theory, copyediting, proper news writing techniques, photography and more. Each class will offer 15 minutes of discussion with the intention of promoting innovation within the field." The class will be held Monday evenings. There's more information online.

    And from the arts undergraduate office: "The Faculty of Arts is pleased to announce that Lauren Hall and Paul Lehmann have been chosen to represent the Arts graduating class as their valedictorians at the two Arts convocation ceremonies being held on Thursday, June 15, 2006. Lauren and Paul were selected from a group of eleven nominees following presentation of their speeches on Thursday, 23 March to a committee made up of Faculty of Arts students and faculty. Lauren, who is majoring in Fine Arts, Studio Specialization, will be the valedictorian at the morning ceremony. Paul, our afternoon valedictorian, is a Political Science major. Both will be receiving their Bachelor of Arts degrees on that date."

    Finally, here's a tale of spring and nature from Tasha Glover of the graduate studies office. "Yesterday morning," she writes -- that would be Tuesday -- "there was a male goose attacking cars while they entered parking lot A. The female goose nested directly to the right of the gates. The male goose was very aggressive, and unfortunately by 9 a.m., someone had hit him." What happened next is less than clear, she says: Humane Society officers showed up, and there are conflicting reports about whether the possibly injured gander was found and taken away, likely to be put down, or is still at large someplace. "When I drove through the gates this morning," Glover continues, "the female was sitting on her nest, looking very sad. I was worried that she will starve without anyone to sit on her eggs while she eats, but apparently she will leave the nest for a few minutes to sustain herself. The humane society stressed that under no circumstances should we feed the goose bread. If anyone knows of any goose-friendly bird seed, it would be all right to sprinkle some of that around the nest (but be careful!). The gestation period of geese eggs is 30 days. In some circumstances geese mate for life, but they have been known to find another if a mate is killed. I know I'm not the only broken-hearted campus member who will drive by that lonely goose in A lot each morning!"

    'Using UW-ACE to promote student reflection on course content': presentation by two faculty members, 10:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library, details online.

    'Carnival, Image and Duality' art installation by Cesar Forero, opening tonight 7 to 9 p.m., performance 7:30, UW art gallery, East Campus Hall, exhibition continues through April 23.

    Used book store, Student Life Centre, open this Saturday and April 22, 10 to 5, for end-of-term book sales.

    Electrical power shutoffs Monday: East Campus Hall, 7:30 to 8 a.m.; Federation Hall, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Computers should be shut off beforehand.

    Senate long-range planning committee Monday 3:00, Needles Hall room 3004.

    UW senate Monday 4:30, Needles Hall room 3001.

    Retirees Association spring luncheon 11:30 Tuesday, great hall, Luther Village, with speaker Herb Lefcourt, department of psychology, $20, information ext. 2015 or 745-1689.

    Teaching dossiers workshop sponsored by teaching resources office, Wednesday 9 a.m., Math and Computer room 4041.

    German drama: "Ein Diener zweier Herren", staged by students of Theaterakademie Vorpommern as part of an exchange with UW Drama, April 22 (8 p.m.) and 23 (2 p.m.), Theatre of the Arts, tickets 888-4908.

    Good Friday and a long weekend

    Tomorrow, April 14, is Good Friday and a holiday, bringing UW a long weekend. University offices and most services will be closed tomorrow, and there are no exams Friday or Saturday. Of course some key services continue as always: There's a slight change to library hours because of the holiday. The Davis Library continues with its extended exam-time schedule and is open 24 hours a day, with circulation services on Friday from noon to 4 p.m. The Dana Porter Library is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, with circulation service from noon to 4. Saturday and Sunday, Porter is open from 8 a.m to 2 a.m. and Davis remains open 24 hours -- except Sunday from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m., when it's closed for systems maintenance.

    Easter Monday is a normal working day for the university.

    Quite apart from being a holiday weekend, this season is a solemn and exciting time for practising Christians, commemorating as it does the crucifixion (on Good Friday) and resurrection (on Easter Sunday) of Jesus of Nazareth. Special services will be taking place UW's Renison College (Anglican) and St. Jerome's College (Roman Catholic) as they are at places of worship around the world:

    • Today, Thursday -- Maundy Thursday liturgy, Renison, 7:30 p.m. Mass at 8 p.m. at Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome's, followed by Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament until 11:00.
    • Good Friday -- Solemn Liturgy of Good Friday, 10:30 a.m., Renison. "Celebration of the Lord's Passion", 12:00 and 3:00, St. Jerome's.
    • Saturday -- Great Vigil of Easter, 8:00 p.m., Renison. Easter Vigil, 8:45 p.m., St. Jerome's.
    • Easter Sunday -- Mass 8:30, 10:00 and 12 noon, St. Jerome's (no 7 p.m. Mass). Holy Eucharist, 10:30, Renison.

    And the congregations will hear such texts as the words of Luke (chapter 24, verse 5): "Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen."


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