Author Archives: snchonors

Attending the Senior Symposium

On May 8th a collection of the best and brightest of Sierra Nevada College all gathered in a single room to showcase all of the intelligent things they created. There were business majors, artists, authors, inventors and Bryce Bullins all trying to prove to the world that an overpriced liberal arts degree is worth its weight in salt. The jury is still out.

I showed up at three o’clock because I had nothing better to do with my life. Presenters were already jockeying for position and I watched as a water-bottle bear was wheeled into the room, and paintings were fastened via tape and thumbtacks to a single sheet of wall erected for just that purpose. I wandered around briefly taking in a few of the more interesting projects already present.

I then received a phone call. “Bruins game in an hour.” I left, and watched the game. The Bruins pulled a win out of their hat in overtime to tie the series up with the Canadiens, but that is beside the point. It was great to watch, but beside the point. America!

When I returned to the symposium it was in full swing. Large amounts of Sodexo mush sat on a table, and the lovely Ophelia was pouring wine and popping beers with vim and vigor. I helped myself to one and then another.  I also tipped.  Tip your bar tenders.  Just because you pay lots of money to the college does not mean any of it goes to their employees.  Seriously, help them out. I then began to explore.

Most projects were so packed that I had to stand on my tip-toes to read them. The beers I drank did not help me with this.  I soon gave the tactic up. I observed the voting box for a few moments. Days before the symposium I heard talk of voter fraud. Apparently last year a student had been heard stating, “I voted six times,” as he swilled his beer. The Republican in me was shocked when no person was present requesting IDs and fingerprints. This is how Obama won the election. Travesty.

While the crowds were immense I did manage to see a few projects. A group of sustainability majors put together a solar cooler. This was impressive. An artist painted very creepy portraits. These were enjoyable. An English major ranted about Shakespeare while clutching a medieval tome like the King James Bible, and a Creative Writing major created and electronically published a graphic novel. All the projects I enjoyed were in-depth and creative. There were also a plethora of other disciplines present, mostly business majors. Unfortunately I unconsciously avoid talking to people wearing blazers until I have talked to everyone else. I ran out of time before I could talk to everyone else.  This is a personal problem and I am working on it, or hate myself for working on it.  Maybe I am bi-polar.  Do not listen to anything I say.  Anyways, here are some facts.

A project by Elaine Inglis titled Call structure of the mountain chickadee (Poecile gambeli) in the presence and absence of food won first place while a project titled Solar Innovations took second. Hydraulic and Restoration Analysis of Incline Creek by Ashley Vandermeer took third. Projects by Chelsea Cunningham and Bryce Bullins took fourth and fifth respectively. All in all the event was quite a success boasting at least a hundred people in attendance and intelligent conversation all around.

Chris Millis Visits Sierra Nevada College

By Bryce Bullins

Acclaimed author of the book Small Apartments (and soon to be film director) Chris Millis launched the Spring 2014 Writers in the Woods season at SNC by giving a craft talk on screenplays and more specifically, the act of storytelling. Millis’ talk centered on Aristotelian poetics, specifically the three act structure and the dramatic devices therein. He showcased how several films still hold to these ancient conventions.

Chris Millis

The films he used as examples were as wide ranging as Pixar’s animated series Toy Story to more serious affairs such as Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights. Millis presented the idea that stories are the only way with which we, as part of the human experience, are able to explain the often un-explainable and connect with something approaching our own lives, and through this parity, we are able to better understand the world in which we live. The talk was attended by upwards of 50 people and was a fantastic start of the 2014 Writers in the Woods season.

For more on Chris Millis’ projects, visit:

Startup Weekend Reno

Startup Weekend
A Weekend in an Entrepreneurs Shoes

By Beth Portesi

Over the weekend of November 22nd-24th, The Freight House hosted Reno’s 2nd Startup Weekend. Startup Weekends are 54-hour events where developers, designers, marketers, product managers, and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams, build products, and launch startups! If you don’t fall under one of those categories, chances are you still have something to offer or just a great opportunity to live a weekend in the life of an entrepreneur. This was the 3rd Startup Weekend I have attended in the last 5 weeks and by far the best.

So, What’s the Drill?

The event began Friday evening with a casual dinner and introductions. You enter a space full of strangers and begin to network. (Without knowing you will leave Sunday with a few great friends and potential business partners.) If you weren’t networking, chances are you were being mesmerized by the 3D printer that was provided courtesy of UNR’s DeLaMare Library.

We were then divided into groups for an ice breaker called Half-Baked. Each team was assigned two random words and had 10 minutes to develop a business model around their newly acquired words. Business models were built around words from “Communicate Tech” to “Turkey Twerk”. After seemingly interesting and hilarious 60-second pitches, we heard from the guest speakers. Tony DeVincenzi of “Sold”, spoke to attendees and provided relevant advice for the weekend and startup world in general. (Like pointing out the importance of being on the right side of crazy.) Reno was fortunate enough to have CEO of Startup Weekend, Marc Nager, facilitate our event. After FAQ’s, Marc kicked off pitchfire, the fast paced 60-second pitch routine. An overwhelming amount of good ideas and 30-something minutes later, attendees voted and joined their favorite team. With newly formed teams and a weekend of work in front of us, we brainstormed until 11pm and returned first thing Saturday morning.

Saturday morning our team “Whatizzat” (a 3D in-flight simulator app) as well as two other teams, were chosen to present our ideas to the Bosma on Business show on News Talk KOH 780. It was a fantastic opportunity to get the word out to the community and work through our business models on the spot.

The 14-hour days continued as teams worked through technicalities, financial plans, marketing strategies, and pitches. Judges arrived Sunday evening and teams presented their start ups. Our team “Whatizzat” received honorable mention with Most Passionate. “Live Retention”, a real time customer survey app won 1st place. They will continue in the Global Startup Battle against other Startup Weekend winners and participants with potential to win BIG prizes.
In conclusion, the weekend was a fantastic learning experience. The planning for Lake Tahoe’s 1st Startup Weekend is underway so be on the lookout for the event early 2014 and follow @SWTahoe!

A quick recap of why it’s a great experience:
Watch ideas turn into real businesses.
The people are nothing short of awesome.
They feed you.

For more information visit:

SNC Honors Program Gets Grant For NCUR 2014

by Bryce Bullins

Dr. Samantha Bankston and Dr. Robert King of the Sierra Nevada College Honors Program recently drafted an internal grant proposal for funding for NCUR 2014. We are pleased to announce today that the grant proposal has been accepted and funding for 2 students has been given!

NCUR is the National Conference on Undergraduate Research and is held annually in various parts of the United States. This year, the conference will be held at the University of Kentucky. The conference is a vast, interdisciplinary affair involving papers, performances, and other forms of presentations. It is the single largest undergraduate research conference in the United States and the honors program is pleased to be able to provide funding to select honors students to attend and showcase their work at the national level, representing the academic excellence of Sierra Nevada College.

For information on NCUR please visit:

Humanities Professors Bankston and King Hit the Conference Scene.

Dr. Samantha Bankston and Dr. Robert King will be giving presentations at a variety of conferences this winter.  Dr. Bankston just returned from a conference for the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society at Troy University, Alabama, where she delivered a talk on a post-structural analysis of Zelda Fitzgerald’s paintings.  Next in line, Dr. Bankston will be traveling to the University of Cincinnati where she’ll be presenting her paper, “The Ontological Parallax of Žižek and Deleuze: Dialectic vs. Assemblage and the Production of the New,” for the International Žižek Studies Conference where Slavoj Žižek himself will close the conference as the keynote speaker. Dr. Bankston will use the Slovenian philosopher’s notion of parallax to develop a new ontological theory that makes use of both Žižek’s and Deleuze’s epistemologies.  She hopes to exchange a “My God!” or an “and so on, and so on” with Žižek in person.  For his part, Dr. King will be attending a conference in Zurich, Switzerland, entitled, “Traveling Narratives: Modernity and the Spatial Imaginary.”  Dr. King will present his ideas on how we conceive, create, and are constrained by space in the modern system of capitalism.  His conference paper will also be featured as a chapter in a book, Ecocriticism and Geocriticism: Overlapping Territories in Environmental and Spatial Literary Studies.  King will also be traveling to New York City to give a paper at NYU.  There, the Telos Institute will be hosting a conference entitled, “The Difficulty of Democracy: Diagnoses and Prognoses.”  King will join leading scholars of the theory of democracy to discuss key issues confronting democracy in the world today.

Information about the conferences:

2nd Annual Sustainability Film Festival




Engage, Educate and Activate Sustainability Awareness

By Beth Portesi

SNC kicked off the 2nd annual Sustainability Film Festival earlier this week. The aroma of popcorn permeated the TCES lobby Thursday evening as students and members of the community filled TCES 139 for a screening of the film “Chasing Ice.”

chasing iceThe turn out was a huge success, with viewers sitting along the back walls of the room. The documentary film followed James Balog and his Extreme Ice Survey team as they set up time-lapse cameras in the most severe conditions, to document the effects of our changing climate on glaciers. Balog is aware that people are bombarded with contradicting arguments, predictions, and statistics regarding the crisis of our planet. He sets out to send a message to people through his photography of what is happening right now, in our lifetime, due to carbon dioxide emissions. The Denver Post review of the film puts the film’s impression in perspective, “The scale of the glaciers, and the almost hallucinogenic clarity of the images, make the resulting footage, based on three years’ shooting, most impressive. One piece of ice we see breaking off is said to be the size of lower Manhattan.”

The Festival continued on Friday and Saturday with food, drinks, raffles, and prizes donated from businesses in the Tahoe area. The other featured films of the weekend included The Garden. Bidder 70, and Pipe Dreams.

[ted id=628]

James Balog’s TED talk on the Extreme Ice Survey project with the results of his study.


Writers in the Woods: Spoken Word

By Beth Portesi

Rhythm, rhyme, sound, words and meaning encompassed the second of the Writers in the Woods series. The evening included a one hour spoken word presentation followed by an open mic on Friday, Sept. 20, at Sierra Nevada College. This served as a platform for individuals to express their personal philosophies and life experiences through poetry and narratives.

In a generation where communicating is done through anything that has a touch screen or news feed, the Spoken Word was a breath of fresh air. A reminder of how connected we are as humans, how we all experience love and tragedy, peace and chaos. I was mesmerized by each word of the roughly 10 speakers who reflected on personal growth, expressed dissatisfaction with modern society, and playfully expanded on random thoughts.

If someone had suggested I attend a poetry reading on a Friday night, chances are I would have declined because I have never taken much interest in it. After attending the event, you can find “slam poetry” in my Youtube history and an email subscription to the local Spoken Views Collective newsletter. And extra credit had nothing to do with it. Each of these beings humbled my heart as they bravely and openly explored the truest of human experiences.