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    Building on the Block: Sense of Place Trips

    The Charge: The learning experience should provide opportunities to explore the themes so important to this region — healthy living, sustainability, the value of water, and the spirit of adventure.

    What’s Happening: Acknowledging the complexities of CC’s physical place in the West is critical in building roots in the community and fully appreciating life in Colorado Springs. By fostering a deeper sense of the geography, a new series of field study trips aims to build a more connected, conscious, and resilient community.

    “To have a sense of belonging, you have to have a sense of community, you have to have a sense of place,” Chaplain Bruce Coriell told the incoming Class of 2019 during New Student Orientation. It’s a sentiment reinforced through Sense of Place programming, inviting students to explore new perspectives on CC’s unique physical place. The collaboration between the Office of Field Study and the Office of Sustainability launched the Sense of Place trips with the start of the 2015-16 academic year as part of a field series exploring the cultural, natural, and historical features of Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region.

    “That’s why I’m here, to really explore the place. And it’s great I can do that with CC and not have to do it on my own. Doing it with a group feels so much better,” said Julia Hammann ’17, an economics and psychology major who attended a three-day Sense of Place trip during Block 3.

    “We started with the resource element (waste, power, water), and then branched out into cultural, historical, and natural resource ideas,” said Drew Cavin, director of the Office of Field Study about growing the idea for the Sense of Place experiences. “We ended up with about eight different trips that highlight the natural, cultural, and historical resources that make the Pikes Peak region distinctive.”

    “It wasn’t sitting in rows and listening to people during presentations, but instead we were actually walking around the locations, able to touch the machines, see how things were working; it was really interactive. And it was great to be sharing it with the faculty members and the students at the same time,” said Hammann, who visited several of the region’s reservoirs, hot springs, pump stations, farms, and a water treatment plant as part of the trip to better understand the journey water takes before arriving for use in Colorado Springs. It was one of four trips during the fall semester. Trips for the spring semester include a Drake Power Plant tour, a workday at Venetucci Farm; birding at Pinello Ranch; and a tour of the historical site of the Ludlow massacre; as well as a “Winter in Colorado” trip to explore the workings of the ski industry in the state.

    Also enhancing CC’s sense of place is a newly renovated space to house one of CC’s most rapidly growing programs: the Ahlberg Outdoor Education Center provides a centralized location for the Office of Outdoor Education and all fulltime staff and interns, as well as a community garden, outdoor space, and the first year-round avalanche transceiver beacon park in North America. It’s also home to the Ahlberg Gear House, where students, faculty, and staff can check out all of the equipment they need for field trips, including sleeping bags, fishing rods, maps, bulk food, and many other essentials for the range of regional study and recreational trips departing from campus.

    Local historian Celinda Kaelin led a "Sense of Place" trip through Stratton Open Space in October where she shared information and the history of the Ute Indians' presence in the area, including the numerous medicine and prayer trees still located throughout the open space.