Category: courses (Page 1 of 3)

The Fourth Floor Has Sweet Chairs: An Interview with Students of CMU’s Social Innovation Lab

CMU’s North Side has a fourth floor?

Mackenzie Nicolle and Jeremy Dyck

Mackenzie Nicolle and Jeremy Dyck in the Centre for Resilience

It certainly does, and it’s called The Centre for Resilience, a space that CMU students Mackenzie Nicolle and Jeremy Dyck spent a lot of time in this past semester.

Nicolle and Dyck are the self-professed “guinea pigs” of the Social Innovation Lab: brain-child of James Magnus-Johnston (CMU’s instructor of Social Entrepreneurship and the director of the Centre for Resilience). 

The Centre for Resilience is a “co-working lab for civic-minded social innovators, entrepreneurs, and researchers” (Centre for Resilience website). Creative entrepreneurs can rent out desk space and collaborate with each-other and enlist the help of enthusiastic students completing their practicum. (Did you know that every CMU student completes some sort of hands-on work practicum before graduating?)

 I sat down with Mackenzie and Jeremy to chat about their projects, experiences, and the space they work in.

Tell me a little bit about the class you’re in and what it entails!

 Centre for Resilience interior Jeremy: So we’re in the Social Innovation Lab, that’s what the class is called, and it’s run out of the Centre for Resilience. It’s kind of like a consulting/mentorship hodgepodge/cornucopia, a little bit of everything. We’re working with the organizations that are up here at the Centre of Resilience and identifying some of their challenges and working on them in the time that we have.

Mackenzie: It’s a practicum course, and we’ve decided that we’re going to be evaluated based on how well the stakeholders feel that we’ve done for them. At the end they write a letter of recommendation. There’s no grade, it’s a pass/fail course. What we get out of it is the experience and letters of recommendation, which look very nice for prospective employers.

Could you tell me about the organization you’re working with and the projects you’re developing?

 M: The two of us are working with Compost Winnipeg, which is a branch of the Green Action Centre. They are a social enterprise, and they’re planning on building a compost site on CMU’s campus! They’re hoping to start in the spring of 2019, so our position was to try to get an idea of how people in the area and people at CMU felt about the project, as well as any concerns they may have.

Because there have been previous groups that have composted in Winnipeg and have done it incorrectly, we wanted to get rid of a lot of the stigma that surrounded composting and to educate people about how it’s being done differently here.

 Any stories or experiences that have stood out for you two?

Centre for Resilience interior J: We did a community survey door-to-door, down Shaftesbury and around the neighbourhood. And that was sort of interesting, to be soliciting people for information. They were surprisingly receptive, that was a nice surprise! I did get one house where I was walking up to the door and saw someone in the window. He was obviously there when I rang the doorbell, but then I heard the door latch lock, so he wasn’t interested in taking our survey… *laughter*

M: There was another house I went up to and a woman opened the door. I had three short questions for her. So I gave her a little blurb about how we were CMU students and that we’d like to engage in a conversation, and her assumption was that I was coming to talk to her because I was against composting. Because obviously nobody wants a compost site near them, and that’s why you’re talking to me, right? *laughs* So I was like no, I’m just trying to gauge what people’s reactions are. And then she got very actively angry about composting. It smells and nobody wants this, and why would you do this, and so on. And then her husband came to the door and the wife walked away. But then he was a lot more receptive when I explained to him the idea of an eco-drum, which is a large cylinder that helps regulate the temperature and the speed of the compost. It’s enclosed, has no smell, and he was a lot more receptive to that. It’s interesting to see how people’s opinions differ based on their prior knowledge.

How would you say this course differs from other courses you’ve taken at CMU?

 J: I wouldn’t say it’s night and day, but it’s pretty close. The fact that there’s no grade at the end sort of implies that it’s really hard to measure success, and that’s because our projects are so different. It’s pretty cool to have a say on what you want to work on, because we were collaboratively with organizations to choose what we want to do, to actually discover what would be the best thing to do for them after analyzing their situations. So it’s been a lot of fun. I appreciate being able to exercise my creativity.

M: Part of the reason we don’t do grades is because we want the opportunity to fail. So that if you try something and it doesn’t work, that’s fine. And then you can renegotiate, research some more, and come up with another idea. And since this is the first time that students have been working with anyone here, we’re the guinea pigs trying to figure out “what does this class look like,” or “what’s successful, what’s not successful…” It’s a good challenge!

Everybody talks about how beautiful the fourth floor is. Tell us about this space! What is so wonderful about working in the Centre for Resilience?

 Centre for Resilience interior J: It’s bright. The vibe is a little different, a little more energetic.

M: Right now it’s a very hopeful space. There’s a lot of people starting off and moving in here. There’s a lot of energy, it’s a different type of energy than school. University has the waves and the seasons of academics, and up here, this is a work environment. And everyone here is doing a unique project, but are still able to talk to each other. The space is still kind of blossoming. I keep telling everyone that the chairs are my favourite part of this space.

J: The chairs are sweet.

M: They are sweet chairs.

Anything else you’d like to say about the Social Innovation Lab?

 M: This is an experimental class. It’s kind of James’ baby coming to life. It’s fun to see how excited he is about the projects, what he likes and what he doesn’t like. He’s a third party in all these projects. He’s someone we can rely on and bounce ideas off of. He guides us and he guides them. This class is about helping us figure out what works and what doesn’t. It’s a great experience to be able to work with him.

Mackenzie Nicolle is a 4th year Social Science major and Communications minor 
Jeremy Dyck is a 4th year Business Administration major

Faith and science: embracing the big questions

As a student and student leader here at CMU, there is so much I could say about this place.

The community of learning fostered by profs who care about my success, small class sizes, and my time living in residence (which I cannot recommend highly enough), have given me more than I could have imagined. My education and faith are actively nurtured here.

But as a Christian, and a pre-veterinary student, the relationship between science and faith is always foremost in my mind.

Katy Neuman, sciences student at CMU, in BioChem class at CMU in May.

At CMU, I have had the opportunity to study both of these subjects at the same time. From the mysteries of the world explored through physics, to studying the lives of microorganisms in microbiology, I have seen how far scientific research has come, and how much we have yet to discover.

That infinite potential for discovery, and the astounding intricacies found in even the simplest organisms reveals to me how great our Creator must be!

My desire to work with animals, and care for Creation comes from my faith. As I study the complexities of the natural world, whether biochemistry or physics, this reality becomes clearer.

At CMU, I’ve been able to study with profs to reconcile the tensions that lie between these two realms. Separating the two now, would be impossible.
Katy Neuman, science student at CMU, with two white puppies.I have lived on a farm my whole life, and have observed the lives of many creatures. Having worked with sheep, the illustrations in Scripture highlighting the relationship between sheep and their shepherd, have come to life.

Jesus calls us to follow Him. He calls us to know His voice, and to allow Him to guide our lives.

There is something about the nature of sheep—the way they listen, follow, and trust their shepherd —that exemplifies how I want to live my life.

There is a deep connection between faith and sciences; a connection that sheds light on big questions. Being able to learn from such a variety of different angles is a privilege. I know it’s preparing me for the future.

CMU is not the only place to try to unravel some of these mysteries, but I know that my life has been forever changed by this place.

Katy Neuman is entering her fourth year of pre-veterinary studies at CMU this fall.

If there’s one thing CMU teaches, it’s interconnectivity

When I chose Communications & Media as my major, I probably wouldn’t have pegged Manitoba Public Insurance as the place that I would be completing my practicum. Nonetheless, that is exactly where I found myself one year ago. I was set to be one of five other students with the title of “Community Relations Assistant,” and as a team, we would be responsible for going around to schools, daycares, and summer events across Manitoba to do bike safety and road safety presentations.

Jason FriesenMy communication did not take the form that people typically think of when they hear the words “communications and media.” There were no blog or social media posts. Instead, I engaged with people face-to-face on a daily basis on behalf of MPI. Though at first glance our job was to state the rules of the road and making presentations, it became obvious that interacting and connecting with communities across Manitoba was far more important.

Many of the events I attended showed this, and were part of larger community gatherings. Not only was our team running a bike safety course, but there were other organizations giving away bikes to kids who did not have one, and members of the community would be barbecuing hot dogs. The events were designed to connect different organizations, and bring the whole community together.

It wasn’t hard to tell that this was meaningful to the communities. At one country fair, a man told me that he had been in a car crash several years ago, and had to go through rehab to recover from the effects of it. He then proceeded to sincerely thank me and MPI for all of the funds and assistance that he had received.

Not only did this interaction make me feel like I was building community, but it really made me feel that even in a large corporation like MPI, everything is tied together. What I was doing was not separate from those collecting payments for licenses, or from those making sure that Manitoban’s are cared for when they are in an accident.

My education at CMU has been much the same. I have taken a wide variety of courses, from communications, to business, to Bible, and science. And somehow, I have been able to find connections between many of them.

Making connections will only help me in my future endeavours. Professor David Balzer summed it up best. “Any other academic discipline can be connected to communications, because you won’t be communicating about communications. You’ll be communicating about science, music, business, and other things.”

Jason Friesen is a fourth year student majoring in Communications & Media

How I found my voice…as a radio cowboy

BRIGHTON

Brighton Thiessen behind the mic at CHVN

Your 18th birthday is supposed to be this great thing. You are celebrating that you are free from the clutches of your parents, and you technically become legal in Canada.

I spent my 18th birthday packing up my things and moving to a first floor dorm room at Poettcker Hall. I felt as though I was still a high school kid who was still too young to understand what goes on at university. That first year, I struggled in class, and I wondered why I even was going to school in the first place.

I considered dropping a couple of times, but there was that little itch in the back of my head saying that I should stay, and that your time at CMU would be worthwhile.

Fast forward to now, and I am graduating this year, and I am currently doing a practicum assignment working as an on-air host at CHVN radio in Winnipeg. I guess it makes sense for me considering I am a Communications & Media major with a Biblical and Theological Studies minor, and CHVN is the only Christian radio station in Winnipeg.

Looking back on my time here, I realized that every course I took at CMU prepared me to be an on-air host, which I didn’t think I could do at first. I guess the moment I realized was in my first-year Media Workshop class. One of our fun end-of-the-year projects was to come up with a cool 30-second audio commercial for the Carnaval BBQ restaurant at the Forks.

For some odd reason, I got picked to speak in a ridiculous cowboy accent.

So I am sitting in the recording booth and it’s not going very well. I decided to take it one step further by just overdoing the accent. Communications & Media Professor David Balzer comes over the loud speaker and says that was too much, but the whole class said, “No that’s perfect.” In that moment, I felt like I truly found my voice.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of the CMU community as well. I’ve had the chance to learn from great professors, great staff members that will drop anything that they are doing to talk to you and to see how your day is going, and my fellow classmates who turn what could be a regular old university class into a fun-loving environment that you can immediately feel comfortable in. I don’t know if there is a better community than CMU.

I recently had a conversation with the program director at CHVN. He said, “When I first met you, I wasn’t sure this was going to work because you were  quiet reserved individual who liked to keep to himself. Now, three months later, you are doing lots of on-air stuff for us, and it’s really worked out.” And then he said, “I like you a lot, and I kind of don’t want you to leave.”

Right now, I don’t want to leave CMU, but I know that my journey here is complete, and I have grown from a high school kid who sort of knew what he wanted to do, to being able to see that I can do anything that I put my mind to.

Brighton Thiessen is graduating in April from CMU’s Communications & Media program

My practicum experience: real life learning

ircom house

Greetings! My name is Louisa Hofer. I am in my fourth and final year of a social science major.

 I decided to do my practicum during the school year as a part of my overall semester, rather than doing an intensive practicum during the summer like many of my friends and fellow students have done. The people I worked with spoke to me along with my readings, professors, and other conversation partners. This helped me learn in a way that I might not have otherwise and in a way that I really needed at the time.

My practicum took place last semester at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba, or IRCOM, as it is more commonly known. IRCOM, is a lot of things. It’s a safe and affordable transitional housing complex for newcomers. It is also home to a multitude of transitional aid programs for both IRCOM residents and members of the West End and West Alexander communities. These programs include English classes, finance classes, job connection services, countless youth and children’s programs, and much more.

IRCOM is a also group of staff available for questions; many of them who had been newcomers themselves and participated in the very IRCOM programs that they now help run. These staff members also do a lot advocacy work—they attend conferences, panels, and write to politicians regarding relevant policies. IRCOM is a lot of things to a lot people.

https://pilulesfrance.com/gastrointestinal/acheter-rabeprazole/
"The City" with Prof. Chris Huebner

“The City” with Prof. Chris Huebner

While involved at IRCOM, I was also taking a course called: “The City: Theological and Philosophical perspectives” with Prof. Chris Huebner. It’s one of those courses that haunts everything…the kind that seeps into a ridiculous amount of your thought. We read Plato, Augustine’s City of God, Foucault, and more all while watching
the HBO show The Wire, which uncovers the broken lives of people in Baltimore, MD. In a violent revealing it showed us the corrupt and messed up policies and market forces that seem to screw these citizens over in ways akin to the mischievous terror of the gods in a Greek tragedy.

thewireThe Wire does this in both a shocking and brilliant fashion. It showed the utter failure of bureaucracy, and caused me to question my faith in humanity’s ability to organize ourselves. If that wasn’t enough, there were other events happening that were certainly not inconsequential, not the least of which was a significant election and the profound mass migration of refugees.

From that heavy and heady space that challenged and lamented the big picture, I would go to IRCOM and assist in little things. On any given week I would do some office work, some filing, or build some IKEA furniture. It was an odd juxtaposition to be assisting in the mundane functions of a non-profit organization with all of those thoughts going on in the background. I approached this place expecting to see people that were troubled and perplexed, but I saw a lot of “just living”—people just going about their day.

My time tutoring in IRCOM’s homework program definitely my favourite task. This program was started by IRCOM kids themselves a few years back and has expanded into quite the endeavour. There are around 60-70 kids all doing their homework (or sometimes not doing their homework) with 5-10 tutors every night.

It is quite the beautiful chaos to see kids from different linguistic, cultural, and religious groups in the same room coming together almost every day. From what these kids have said, this learning community has provided a significant boost in facing an unfamiliar educational system.

MBInfographiconRefugeesMBInfographiconRefugeesI had been with people who were going about their business, navigating life and forming a little learning community, but this night was a small glimpse into how these lives have so often been cast into controversy and into a narrative of danger, or of crisis and charity. It was a glimpse into how the way they were being narrated and the outcome of the U.S. election would severely effect people who would be trying to make a similar journey that they had.

There has been a lot to be said for what is going on here, of the protests and the marches attended by these folks, but also the quiet resistance lived-out in the form of everyday life that dwells beyond the labels of danger, of crisis, and charity that people always seem to ascribe.

I’m not sure how this mess will turn out, but it has been an honour to be with these people who just keep doing their thing.

Louisa Hofer is a fourth year student in social science

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