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.

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!

Sense of community. Bumping into people. Collaboration.

As humans we were designed to be social, be around a “tribe” of people and work together.

Last night I was surrounded by new and old friends over drinks. We just carried on about our lives, different cultures, issues, new ideas and had a ton of laughs. Having a tribe or sense of community is such a wonderful feeling. In addition to the good feeling, your community of people will bring a different perspective to issues, struggles, successes and etc. They will cause you to look through a different lense.

A sense of community is wonderful but can become your comfort zone. Bumping into new people should also be a part of your day. Otherwise you will not see things differently that you tribe. You may start to see a little bit more group think or similar thinking. People may not challenge your view because you see things the same way. Without challenge, their is no improvement. Challenge yourself to interact with one new person each day. It will keep life exciting, it will be a challenge and it will keep you on your toes.

Work with people on new ideas. Work with others on problems. Ask questions. Listen to others discussion to learn. Bounce an idea off of a few friends and see where it goes. Meetup with a cohort of friends for a working lunch and see how you can help each other. Randomly converge on a local coffee shop for a cup of coffee and bring some of the problems you are struggling with.

Stay creative. Keep friends around. Look for different people to bump into.

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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 12th Annual High School Diversity Conference addressed all forms of discrimination high school students encounter and aimed to foster within each school a cohesive bond in the student body that explores differences and encourages unity.

Through this year’s theme, “Voices for Change: Challenging the Happily Ever After,” the conference worked to create an environment that embraces diversity in area high schools.

Each year the conference crafts workshops for students, faculty, staff and administrators to:

  •  explore their own beliefs
  • learn strategies for developing a hate free environment
  • interrupt bullying
  • nurture an atmosphere wherein anything can be discussed without prejudice
  • facilitate teaching methods of confronting unacceptable prejudicial behavior to become a beacon of peace, light and understanding in a world threatened by war, darkness, hate and misunderstanding

Jacob Kelley, a Bloomsburg University junior and workshop assistant, attended the conference throughout his years at Berwick High School and was delighted to work with Samantha Norton, BTE, a long-time workshop presenter. The conference is supported by a grant from the Berwick Health and Wellness Fund of the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation The Berwick Health and Wellness Fund is the original and largest fund of the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation. Its purpose is to improve the health and welfare of residents and communities of eastern Columbia and western Luzerne counties.

Student groups from eight participating high schools report their action plans in the final conference session. BUSTED opened the conference with a performance based on the theme and student feedback that both captures the high school students’ attention and helps them take home valuable information and lessons.  

It is not uncommon for college students to embark on a road trip for spring break. It is, however, when they head away from the beach and in a delivery truck.

That’s just what Vince Phan, president of Bloomsburg University’s Phi Beta Sigma fraternity, and Abu Kaba, a member of BU’s African Student Association, are doing this weekend.

Vince Phan’s Journey

After collecting more than 60 cases of water for the citizens of Flint, Mich., this past week, the two student leaders are making sure their campus water drive collection will be hand delivered.

“We chose to help Flint, because it was a crisis in our own country,” said Phan, also president of BU’s Student United Way. “Also, what the people in Flint are going through isn’t something you could say we can live without. Water is a very much needed necessity for us as humans to have in life.”

Students Donate Bottled Water to Help Flint Crisis — WNEP TV Report

Flint’s water supply has been a national news story for the past year since high levels of lead were discovered, traced to river water’s corrosion of old pipes. Much of its roughly 102,000 citizens has since been advised by government officials to avoid using unfiltered tap water for drinking, cooking or bathing due to potential contamination — thus a growing need for bottled water.

“The importance of this cause is that we sometimes have to get out of our daily routine, and realize we sometimes takes things for granted,” Phan said. “Things such as water. We use water every day to cook, clean, bathe and drink. Right now somewhere in our own country a whole community lost that basic necessity.”

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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.

To be a global citizen you have to be aware of respecting others cultures, religion and beliefs. That is what Kate Seravalle does in Bloomsburg University’s Model Arab League.

“It’s good to be aware of global issues that are happening around us,” said Seravalle, senior speech-language pathology/audiology major and Middle East studies minor. “It inhibits us from jumping to conclusions about people. It makes you want to be proactive and a better person.”

Seravalle explains that being in the Model United Nations, Arab League, or European Union makes you a multifaceted person.  It not only helps you become more involved in world news, but it also adds a bit more to your resume that not every student has, she says.

“Being in Model Arab League it has helped me meet a lot of unique and intriguing people,” Seravalle said. “I was intimidated to join at first because there were many international students involved, but they became my good friends.”

She added, “This club has given me more than good friendships it has given me; research skills, leadership skills, and the ability to collaborate with others.”

Seravalle suggests getting involved as early as possible. Start by keeping up with recent news and get the new from different sources.

After being involved in the club there are conferences they go to mostly in the Washington DC area. There they verse multiple schools where each school and model is given a country and then they have to address problems by coming up with solutions that will work for all countries.

“Only a few Pennsylvania schools go to these conferences, so it felt good to up against DC schools,” Seravelle said. “At first I was apprehensive, because of the lack of knowledge I had, but I encourage people to go outside their comfort zone. Being in Model Arab League it has taught me how to be comfortable being uncomfortable. It also makes you grow as a person because you realize everyone at the conference is in the same boat as you are.” 

— Samantha Gross, sophomore telecommunications major

On average, 1.7 million people will be diagnosed this year due to breast cancer. With more research, there are hopes to stop the spread of this disease completely.

The loss of a grandmother, mother, or loved one is never an easy thing to get through. Most people who have experienced this type of loss due to breast cancer, are not alone. Madelyn Rodriguez, director of Multicultural Affairs, has had her own experience with losing someone to this disease.

The Office of Multicultural Affairs is holding the 13th Annual Breast Cancer 5K Walk/Run. Raising awareness for cancer and other diseases is not a new thing here at Bloomsburg University. This year will mark another walk that Rodriguez has organized on campus.

According to Rodriguez raising awareness for breast cancer research is her passion. The walk is in remembrance of the lives that have been taken by cancer.

“It is important to help those that are survivors and remember those whom have left us.” Rodriguez said, “It is important to realize that breast cancer is something that affects not only the person who has been diagnosed but all their friends, family, and loved ones.”

In the past year, the annual walk/run raised about $12,000 and pulled in 600 participants according to Rodriguez. She hopes to have students, and the Bloomsburg community come together this fall and raise awareness.

Registration on the day of the event will begin at 11:00 a.m. The race is to start at 1p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015 at the Student Rec Center.

— Lydia Jenkins, mass communications 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.