senseofcommunity

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Behind the support of roughly 200 participants, a student-driven protest marched across campus today from Carver Hall to Andruss Library, speaking out against police brutality and social injustices.

The peaceful rally, highlighted by a “die in” inside the library, was also done in tribute to the lives of Mike Brown and Eric Garner, as well as others at the hand of police misconduct.

Being mr. Watson’s Sherlock - bringing mr. Watson into the coworking space.

It has been almost a month ago since I started my internship at mr. Watson. Time to reveal some of the things I have been doing so far. 

First of all let me introduce myself: I am Martijn, I love photography and computer graphics and I am a student in Communication and Multimedia Design. What does that mean (you may wonder), simply explained it means that I design creative solutions with interactive media. Like the Watsons, they’re building communities in coworking spaces. So what do I do at mr. Watson? I joined the mr. Watson team as an Interaction Design intern. That means that I create the communication between user and medium, input and output.

As somebody who has never worked in a coworking space before, there were several things I wanted to know before getting started on developing a concept. Since the mr. Watson platform is designed for coworking spaces, I had to know everything about them. I also had to learn about the coworking space we work in: Katshoek. 

The coworking space in Katshoek was founded in 2013 and now houses over 50 companies, startups and freelancers. When I just started at mr. Watson, I expected to work with a small crew of only 5 people, but I soon discovered that you actually work together with everybody around you. In Katshoek there are a lot of creative people who are willing to share their knowledge and experience, which creates an amazing atmosphere. 

In the past month I have been working mainly on one project: bringing mr. Watson into the physical space. Right now mr. Watson exists only on the web, so the only way members can communicate through the platform is via the internet. It is my goal to find a solution through research that will improve the sense of community in our coworking space.

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Coworking Spaces
The first thing I discovered about coworking spaces is that worldwide there are many different types of coworking spaces. Big ones like the Workbar in Boston with nearly 100 thousand square feet of office for rent. Small ones like Veel Hoeden in Pella, a small town in Iowa with a population of only ten thousand people. I even found about plans to build a coworking space on a boat that lies anchored off the shore of California: Blueseed. But all coworking spaces value the same things. Coworking spaces are about collaboration, openness, community, accessibility and sustainability. Coworking spaces strive to create an open environment where people can share and work together. mr.Watson is mainly interested in building communities, which brought me to another subject: the Sense of Community.

Sense of Community
When I started my research on Sense of Community I discovered that ellaborate research had already been conducted by McMillan and Chavis. In their research they put that to build Sense of Community you have to consider four key values: membership, influence, integration & fulfillment of needs and shared emotional connection. McMillan and Chavis also developed the Sense of Community Index (SCI), which can be used to measure the Sense of Community. I found this extremely valuable for the next step of my research. With the SCI, I could easily get to know in what state the community of Katshoek currently was.

Katshoek Community
The next step was to put the SCI in a survey that the community members could fill in. I asked the community to help me in my research and a staggering 32 people took part in the survey within a week: nearly a quarter of the entire community. The results (dutch) were very interesting, there were some people who rated the community extremely high but there was also one person who didn’t have anything good to say about it at all. Mostly the community in Katshoek got rated with an average of three out of five. There were several statements that scored rather low below the average. The results from these statements are exactly what I was looking for: problems to be solved, needs to be fulfilled or chances to be taken.

Lets go!
In the past month, I have learned a lot about coworking spaces and what’s going on in Katshoek. With all that I have learned, I now really want to move on to the next step. Which will be all about finding out how to solve the problems, fulfill the needs and take the chances that are ready to be taken. You will read about this in a future blogpost!

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It happened quickly, and without much warning. In September 2011, the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee dumped significant amounts of rain over central and eastern Pennsylvania. The Susquehanna River and its tributaries were plagued by flooding, the most severe of which affected communities along the river including Bloomsburg.

It was because of this flooding that the Bloomsburg Fair was cancelled for the first time since 1855. Some parts of the fairgrounds were covered in ten to twelve feet of water. On the west end of town, many homes were badly damaged or even removed from their foundation and washed away.

At Bloomsburg University, research is underway to develop an early warning system for rising water levels. Using funds from a 2013 President’s Strategic Plan Grant of $50,000, BU faculty and students are working together to better understand how and when water levels increase in local streams by placing gauges along Fishing Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna that joins the river near Bloomsburg and routinely floods. The stream gauges will specifically measure how much water is in the stream and how fast it rises.

Data collected from these gauges will be compiled in an online database for public use. “The project is not just for BU, but for the community,” said Patricia Beyer, acting assistant dean of BU’s College of Science and Technology and a key leader of the project.

Before the stream gauges go in, weather stations are being installed around the local region to measure rainfall. Beyer explained the need for this data. “To understand how and when water levels rise in streams, we also need to know how much rain has fallen across the watershed,” she said.

Tim Pelton, BU’s civic engagement coordinator, has arranged for these outdoor weather stations to be installed in several locations, including Benton, Millville and Greenwood high schools, Ricketts Glen State Park, and Dancing Hen Farm.

Though these sites are many miles from Fishing Creek, rain that falls at each one slowly flows into small streams, which flow into larger and larger streams until eventually reaching the creek and ultimately the Susquehanna River. The condition of the soil in these areas is also important to observe, because soil absorbs water and becomes saturated. The more water is already in the soil, the more will flow across the surface and into streams.

The weather stations will be configured by students from BU’s College of Business’s Data Lab, directed by Hayden Wimmer, to integrate data from all sites into a publicly accessible Internet format. In this way, the weather stations can also be used as an educational tool.

“The whole watershed will become a big outdoor classroom,” said Beyer. Science instructors at the high schools will be able to use the weather stations in their lessons.

Bloomsburg University instructors such as Ben Franek and Jennifer Whisner, both heavily involved in the hydrology project, also look forward visiting these locations with their students in the department of environmental, geographical, and geological sciences. “The project will make for real-world application for students in the field,” said Franek, who teaches courses that include Water Management, Surface Hydrology, and Natural Disasters.

Once operational, rainfall data will be collected continuously from the weather stations. The next phase of the project will be to move forward with the installation of the stream gauges.

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In celebration of Autism Awareness Month, BUnow recently teamed with BU’s chapter of Autism Speaks and Alpha Sigma Tau to raise money and awareness for this complex disorder of brain development.

The fundraiser, “Pieces for Hope,” asked students to decorate a blank puzzle piece for $1, which were then pieced together as one collaborative message of support, hope and awareness of autism and for those who struggle with the spectrum disorder. All proceeds were donated to Autism Speaks.

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Bloomsburg University’s Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology program recently promoted literacy with Danville Head Start students at the Aphasia Center in Danville, using resources from the BU Toy Library for a joint therapy session with Aphasia patients.

Aphasia is an impairment of language, affecting the production or comprehension of speech and the ability to read or write resulting from brain injury most commonly from a stroke.

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Delta Phi Epsilon, in a collaborative effort with the Women’s Resource Center, helped spread awareness about anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, cachexia, compulsive exercising and other related eating disorders through several events across campus in recognition of Eating Disorders Awareness Week, Feb. 23 to March 1.

  • Trash Your Insecurities – Throw your negative self talk in the garbage! Donate your extra change and write down what you want to do to “Change your life.” Pick up a purple ribbon to support awareness of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.
  • Be-you-tiful You Day – Find sticky notes on bathroom mirrors and tell us one thing that’s beautiful about you!
  • Why you’re better than Barbie Day – Write down all the reason why you are better than stereotypical views and encourage positive body image.
  • Let’s bitch about it – Gather around in the Multicultural Center to watch clips from the media portraying negative body image and let’s bash them!
  • That’s a wrap – Let’s wrap up things by displaying the achievements over the past week to encourage the future of positive body image.
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Play in America has shifted from an unstructured, child-initiated activity to one that is now predominantly structured and adult-directed. 

This is the issue Michael Patte, Ph.D., professor of education and child life specialist, explores in his article, “The importance of play on whole child development,” soon to be published in Child Life Focus.

“Children’s lives have become progressively more structured both inside and outside of school,” Patte says, “and I’m concerned about the implications it has for their development as a whole person.”

Patte transitioned from public school teaching to university teaching when he realized the decreased focus on play was taking some of the joy out of teaching. He described teaching as part art and part science, where the portion of art is steadily being removed. Transitioning to a university setting has allowed Patte to expand upon and teach the importance of play.

In 2010, Patte spent six months at Leeds Metropolitan University, United Kingdom on a Fulbright Fellowship. During this time, Patte was given the opportunity to learn more about child life specialists and the field of playwork, a profession focusing on the implications of noninterventionist, self-instructed play.

“I hadn’t any notion of what either of these professions were about,” says Patte, “but what drew me to both was that play was at the center, and that was the hook for me. Then I just needed to become a playworker. I needed to become a child life specialist. So I did.”

Over the course of this fellowship, Patte made presentations at conferences throughout Europe, and taught playwork sessions at the university. In March 2013, Patte and Fraser Brown, professor of playwork at Leeds Metropolitan University, published their book, “Rethinking Children’s Play,” which applies the playwork perspective to a variety of settings.

When asked about this interest in the field of play, Patte described the topic as a human rights issue. In classrooms today, future educators are being instructed on academic and cognitive development. The social, emotional, and creative development, however, is continuously being pushed towards the outer edge of educational studies. Patte described this form of education as development from the neck up. To remain healthy and happy, though, as a child and throughout the life span, people need opportunities to express themselves in more playful ways

Patte is currently teaching a seminar, “Play and Fine Arts for the Developing Child.” In this class, Patte teaches students that play and fine arts are not simply childhood issues. They are also lifespan issues. Patte has asked his students, “What do you do for no reason than to just enjoy doing it?” Although the question is simple, many students struggle to find an answer.

In order to better apply their classroom lessons on play, Patte and students are collaborating to bring a unique event, Pop-Up Adventure Playground, to BU for the first time.

Pop-Up Adventure Playgrounds use the playwork noninterventionist approach to play that provides children with loose materials to create and explore by means of self-initiated, open-minded exploration. Each playground “pops up” for a short time in a community setting where local children can enjoy this self-structured environment for free.

Patte and students, as well as Greek Life and other student organization volunteers, hosted BU’s first Pop-Up Adventure Playground on Saturday, Nov. 1.. The goal of the event was to educate both children and adults on the topic of child-initiated play. BU students composed fact sheets for adults that clarify these lessons and illustrate their role throughout the Pop-Up experience.

“That’s a bit of a change, even for teachers,” Patte says, “When a child is experiencing some sort of turmoil or trying to figure something out, we have this tendency as parents and teachers to immediately try to intervene and fix the problem.”

A large goal of the playground is to allow the children to work through these challenges on their own.

BU students will benefit from this event by learning more about unstructured play as well as important planning techniques, making connections with the community, and being resourceful. Patte is optimistic about the event’s overall success for students, children, and adults alike.

“The pendulum has swung so far in one direction that it’s not healthy.” Patte says. “I don’t think that we should spend twenty-four hours a day engaged in child-initiated, unstructured play. I just think there needs to be more of a balance.”

Through his research and work, Patte attempts to instill this balance among BU students and the local community. 

- Courtney Dunn, senior dual English and psychology major

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“Confluence” is a 7-by-62-foot mixed media collaborative installation by 19 regional artists in the grand lobby of the Haas Center for the Arts. This original piece celebrates the collaboration of BU with the greater Bloomsburg community, and depicts the growth and activity of a thriving town in the Susquehanna River Valley.

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Patients at Geisinger’s Janet Weis Children’s Hospital will face an easier transition into certain treatment thanks to Bloomsburg University’s Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority, who recently helped the local hospital land a $2,210 grant for needed teaching aides.

The children’s hospital will use the grant to purchase MediKin dolls, overlays and toy models of equipment — items that help prepare patients and their families for medical treatment, such as dialysis and oncology. Funding will be provided through a local Robbie Page Memorial (RPM) Grant via the Sigma Sigma Foundation

As a national organization, Sigma Sigma Sigma’s motto is “Sigma Serves Children.” In 1951, the sorority established the RPM Fund for Polio research projects. When a cure for Polio was discovered, the purpose of the RPM shifted focus to play therapy. The foundation helps hundreds of children annually through the RPM Fund, which supports local and national RPM grants.

Bloomsburg’s local Delta Zeta Chapter has spent much of the past year working with Geisigner’s Child Life Services in support of several collection drives, hosting guest speakers at the sorority and planning fall activities with the child patients and families in Danville.

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Alpha Tau Omega and Chi Sigma Rho recently teamed together to raise money for Camp Victory, an outdoor facility in Millville that hosts weekly summer camp for kids with special needs, including children battling chronic health problems, physical or mental disabilities, or the aftermath of catastrophic illness.

The two Greek Life organizations hosted a car smash event outside of Redman Stadium prior to Bloomsburg University’s Homecoming Game against Millersville University, raising more than $500 in less than two hours.

My family comes from the Dominican Republic, and I have always been very proud of my culture and where I’m from. I feel I get to see the world from two different perspectives.

Most of my childhood was spent getting together with all of my extended family, making endless amounts of food, and dancing to Bachata, Merengue, or Salsa music. For me, my culture has taught me to embrace life, the people around me, and always work hard for what I want.

I have dreams of working at John Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore. It is known as the top hospital in the nation. While this might see like a big dream, I am motivated to work as hard as I can to achieve that goal because I want to prove that no matter where you come from, you can be successful.

I am a member of Student Organization of Latinos (SOL). I am a consultant at The Writing Center, I am a member of B-Smart, and I am also a mentor for the Aqui y Ahora program.

Coming from the Latino culture and moving to Bloomsburg has been a different experience for me. I started off in the ACT 101 program, and I was only the second in my family to go to a four-year university and actually leave home. My family has always been a huge support system for me and constantly encouraged me to go to college.

 Darianny Antonio ’17, medical imaging major

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Jackie Cruz, known for her role as Flaca on the critically acclaimed Netflix series Orange is the New Black, highlighted Bloomsburg University’s celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month with a presentation in the Kehr Union Building and a meet-and-greet in the Multicultural Center.

Cruz  a native of New York City, Los Angeles and the Dominican Republic  spoke to students about her journey to stardom, which was nearly derailed by a near fatal car accident that almost left her paralyzed. She also discussed her strides in acting on the hit Netflix show and building upon her musical career.

Cruz’s messaged highlighted the importance of overcoming adversity, taking pride in your heritage and surrounding yourself with good people. She capped her presentation with acoustic performances of two of her singles.

Unleashing the You at BU

In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, a personal perspective from a few of our many proud Latino students.

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Following another successful Meet the President event recently on campus, President David L. Soltz had the pleasure of joining the millions of people who have taken the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The creative fundraiser, made famous on social media by the many ice-dousing videos, has been tremendously successful in raising more than $110.5 million for the ALS Association.

As Soltz said during his challenge, ALS, commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a relentless degenerative disease that leads slowly to death. To date, there is no cure. Hopefully this will change due to the overwhelming support seen these past few months by our society, including many of Bloomsburg University’s family and friends.

Rising to the challenge to support a worthy cause is nothing new to the university community. It’s almost second nature for our students, faculty and staff.

For example one of BU’s sororities, Sigma Sigma Sigma, recently helped Geisinger’s Janet Weis Children’s Hospital land a $2,210 grant for needed teaching aides for its patients.

Their charitable effort is one of many examples of how BU’s Greek organizations – as well as other student groups – work with our community and support local and national charities like the Ronald McDonald House, Toys for Tots, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and our local women’s shelter and food cupboard.

Of course a prime example of BU’s passion for charity and community support is The Big Event, which annually receives a steady flow of volunteers from our entire student population. In fact, two of the largest on-campus fundraising efforts turned in record level donations this past academic year.

Relay For Life of Bloomsburg University, coordinated by the campus Chapter of Colleges Against Cancer, had more than 800 participants on 50 teamsraise more than $50,000 to benefit the American Cancer Society.

The Multicultural Center’s annual Breast Cancer 5K Walk/Run has raised more than $100,000 since the first step was taken in 2002, including more than $12,000 last fall.

These recent highlights remind BU of the biggest challenge it’s faced and the strongest relief effort it’s pulled together in recent memory. Three years ago this past week, the Flood of 2011 forever changed the landscape and, in many case, the future of the Bloomsburg community. The clear view of the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds from Route 11, where a row of houses once stood, is one permanent reminder. There are a thousand other examples in our immediate region.

BU lost seven days of classes, yet the university continued to work. Students, faculty and staff volunteered with clean up, Red Cross efforts and local emergency governmental agencies, such as call-in centers and supply aide distribution. These volunteer efforts continued well into the fall and spring. It was a clear and emotional snapshot at how much BU values its community and, in many ways, brought the community and school closer together.