Rock Creek Round-Up: TEDx event, a first for college, explores many timely issues

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The first TEDx event in the history of Portland Community College filled The Forum at the college’s Rock Creek Campus on May 25, and wowing live-stream audiences at the college’s Sylvania and Southeast campuses, too.

TEDx was created in the spirit of the TED Talk mission. It supports independent organizers who want to create a TED-like event in their own community using the distinctive TED Talk guidelines that require presenters to deliver compelling, instructive and entertaining talks in 18 minutes or less.

Eight speakers from PCC and the Portland community shared their perspectives on a range of topics. Taking the stage were Roger Anunsen (PCC instructor at Sylvania), who presented on “Loving Your Brain”; student Ben Nzowo shared “Visible and Invisible Power”; community member Isaiah Mendoza showcased “Creating Music”; Mandy Ellertson (Rock Creek student leadership manager) lectured on “Leadership and Social Justice”; Elaine Cole (Rock Creek sustainability coordinator) addressed “Sustainable Living”; community member Brandy Robinson’s “Trusting Who You Are”; Lisa J. Feinics (Fostering Success Program coordinator) discussed “What To Do If Your Brain Is Whacked-Out”; and Todd Duncan (physics faculty with Pacific University and PCC) presented on “Our Place in the Cosmos.”

Funding was provided by 10 Rock Creek centers, teams and ASPCC.

DREAMers Gala Huge Success

The annual DREAMers fundraising gala at Rock Creek is perfectly named. The term “DREAMers” refers to the DREAM Act which, had it become law, would have provided a pathway to citizenship for minors who are undocumented students and who are now referred to as “Dreamers.” The name also captures the desperate hope that is found in the hearts of undocumented students who need financial assistance to stay in college.

The goal for the 2016 gala was $4,000. It raised $24,000. The goal for 2017 was $35,000, and it raised $44,000. The goal for the April 21, 2018, gala is $55,000. No one is betting against it.

“The success of this event is hard to believe,” said Liliana Luna Olalde, coordinator of Rock Creek’s Multicultural Center and creator of the DREAMers gala. “We had no idea what to expect, and when we started, I didn’t even know how to organize a paddle raise.”

When you have 200 people raising their bid numbers during the paddle raise, the Event Center generated an electrical charge. The bids started at $5,000 and finished at $25. It was fast, loud and a little crazy. Add the totals from the silent auction tables, the tickets sales and sponsorships, and some serious money had been raised by the end of the night — all funneled through the PCC Foundation for scholarships and tuition assistance.

“After the first gala we applied for a $7,000 matching gift from the Mexican Consulate here in Portland, and we were awarded the funds,” she added. “That $14,000 is used to support district-wide mentoring programs for undocumented students. We have mentors and mentees at all four PCC campuses. The mentees receive tuition assistance and services facilitated by the Multicultural Center at Rock Creek. On May 24, we started interviewing students for the second round of DREAM Project mentors and will re-apply for a second match from the Mexican Consulate.”

When classes begin in the fall, approximately 25 to 30 Dreamers from throughout the college will receive some form of financial aid generated by the gala.

Luna was quick to thank the 30 student volunteers, the PCC Foundation and the community who helped make the gala a success, as well as the four principal sponsors: Latino Network, Portland State University, Momentum Alliance and ASPCC Rock Creek.

According to the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission, there are approximately 4,550 undocumented students enrolled in Oregon colleges and universities.

New Flow Hives Double Honey Output

There’s only one thing sweeter than 3.5 gallons of honey…that would be more than eight gallons of honey drawn effortlessly from the tap. The recent increase in productivity is credited to a gift from student Harlene Beuhler, who donated a seven-frame Flow Hives and three extra flow frames which doubled the honey production at Rock Creek.

Beuhler, a campus neighbor and student at the Rachel Carson Environmental Middle School, is familiar with the campus and recently learned of the bee hive project initiated in the campus Learning Garden.

Pictured (left) are Anne LeSenne, Landscape Technology instructor at Rock Creek, bee keeping student Michael Patterson, and Flow Hive donor Harlene Beuhler.

Pictured (left) are Anne LeSenne, Landscape Technology instructor at Rock Creek, bee keeping student Michael Patterson, and Flow Hive donor Harlene Beuhler.

“When I learned about the Rock Creek bees, I was excited to see what I could do to help as a part of my eighth grade project for Rachel Carson,” said Beuhler. “I wanted to support our local bee population and figured that donating a Flow Hive would be a great start.”

Beekeeping and honey production has become popular at the campus. According to Anne LeSenne, Landscape Technology Program instructor and beekeeper in charge, the enterprise started as an experiment last year and has morphed into something rather ambitious. At the center of the elevated excitement is new technology in honey rendering.

“Even though we will be able to harvest the traditional way, the Flow Hives make harvesting much easier, cleaner and faster, with less disruption to the bee colony,” LeSenne said. “It’s really ideal for those who don’t want to or can’t lift a 60 to 90 pound box full of honey, as well as those who don’t have a honey harvesting room to contain all the sticky, waxy, mess. Where harvesting could take all day the traditional way, the Flow Hive allows me to harvest a little in a few minutes or all of the honey in just an hour.

“The honey comes out without particles of wax debris, so no filtering or screening is necessary,” she continued. “We also love the Flow Hive because of the clear windows so we can see what the bees are doing inside, while they turn nectar into honey.”

Because of the educational component of the bee keeping program, the new technology allows even small children to watch the bees do their work in a completely safe setting, which improves Rock Creek’s ability to educate the community about the role of pollinators. Currently there are 13 Rock Creek students in the beekeeping program.

Chemistry Conference Gets Scientific

The 10th Rock Creek Chemistry Student Conference on June 2 involved approximately 450 students from nine different courses ranging from Chemistry 100 to Organic Chemistry 243. More than 90 scientifically researched posters were created for the event which occurs annually and only at Rock Creek. Students work in collaboration to identify a specific topic of interest. They then collect and evaluate chemical information from credible scientific sources.

PCC President Mark Mitsui and Rock Creek Campus President Sandra Fowler-Hill welcomed the students and visited with many of the presenters.