Pinning Party

2 11 2012

Last week, I joined the tribe of pinners when I set up a Pinterest account (http://pinterest.com/skassabian/). I’ve never had the chance to communicate my interests in terms of visuals, so this is a welcome change to the usual methods of online social interaction. And I’m pleasantly surprised by how quickly I’ve taken to it. I have not gone the usual route of planning a wedding that’s years away from my attention (though, after watching even 10 minutes of TLC, it becomes tempting). Instead I’m trying to use Pinterest as a method for healthier living (not too original) and more creative decorating (also not original, but closer to my reality than a wedding). This hasn’t helped my appetite for online shopping either. As fall sets in, California style, I’m finding my love for boots and chunky sweaters is shared by my fellow pinners.

As for Twitter, I’ve long since thrown out my skepticism. Now it’s become my 24-hour news ticker, a rather pleasant substitute for TV news, particularly in this household. In terms of social media joys, I don’t know if there’s anything more satisfying than watching tweets accumulate on my phone. I step away to brew a cup of tea, and, ta-da!, more tweets for me! A re-tweet is always fun too though. So far one of my favorites is a “congrats grad!” tweet from Apothic Red wine.





DPI: Personal Statement

8 07 2012

Seal

Included here is a copy of my personal statement that I submitted with my application to the University of Denver Publishing Institute. I feel this is an accurate description of what forces compelled me to pursue a career in publishing, beginning with the DPI’s Certificate in Publishing.

Prompt: Write not more than two pages to explain why you are considering or are involved in a career in publishing and what personal characteristics, interests, and aspirations have led you to this choice.  Please type your name, college, and graduation year in the upper right-hand corner of both pages of the statement.

Response:

Like many children, I spent most of my time living in novels, from Nancy Drew to Harry Potter. Despite months of checking the mailbox, I never did receive my Hogwarts letter at age eleven. So in the absence of an education in witchcraft and wizardry, a friend and I formed the “Nancy-Potter club” instead. By thirteen, I was filling my parent’s Amazon shopping cart with many books whose titles faded with time, while others, like The Virgin Suicides, continue to captivate me. In high school, I enjoyed meeting new people and documenting their experiences as a journalist. A few friends and I started a music blog, ensuring backstage access to the Warfield, a nightclub in San Francisco, a place few 16-year-olds had been as members of the press. As I finish college, my love for prose has culminated in a talent for reconfiguring text. I often find myself correcting errors in textbooks or academic journals, because I enjoy finding ways to improve sentences. When I read a book for an English class, I look beyond the author’s intention and construct my own opinion of the writing, evaluating whether a particular character or symbol was executed elegantly. As I look to the future, I hope to refine my eye for prose at the University of Denver Publishing Institute.

I began college set on a career in journalism as an investigative reporter. As I progressed through the CU Independent’s editorial ranks, my understanding of language expanded from my initial intention of becoming a writer. Working with reporters on improving their writing was the most fulfilling part of my experience at the CU Independent. Watching stories move from idea to first draft to final copy is an engaging process, and I take pride in the decisions I made that helped make the publication a more reputable news source.

Nonetheless, our student reporters struggle with the finite details that go into making their copy publishable. Although the media commonly portray respected editors as impatient or cruel, I am satisfied with working with the writers themselves. Collaboration between editor and writer is a delicate balance requiring positive interpersonal communication and mutual understanding. I know how to improve the mechanics of prose while still retaining the author’s voice, having had both perspectives on the writing process. I enjoy the challenge of puzzling over language and discovering the ideal combination of syntax, making a statement precise and profound. This process often requires editing alongside the writer, as we work in tandem to develop a strong sentence. Editing prose is a cathartic process for me; after assembling text to its potential I feel an unmatched sense of mental clarity.

What was a vocational experience in college has become an impulse toward greater intellectual challenge. As my skills as an editor have become more sophisticated, I edit, interpret and question any and all prose I encounter; newspaper articles, academic writing and popular fiction are not spared my analysis. I’ve learned that while editing fulfills me, the newsroom environment does not. I thrive on deadline, but prefer editing prose that is more substantive. The best part about college is interacting with content in which significant ideas emerge across disciplines. I love nothing more than to learn something new from text, and editing papers for colleagues has allowed me to think critically about topics I wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to.

Generally, material sent through a publisher is more crafted or complex than the standard news article. While I have developed a rhythmic and efficient editing style, I have much to learn about the publishing industry. The Denver Publishing Institute is where I can advance my editorial skills and apply them in new, significant ways. Whether I am working with academics at a university press, or authors at a publishing house, I will enjoy helping people improve their writing. I believe that every individual has the potential to be a writer, but many don’t know how to express ideas into words. Entry into the Denver Publishing Institute would help me decide which platform best suits my editorial inclination.





Boulder Blind Cafe a success

18 07 2011

Event offers an eye-opening, sightless experience

By Sara Kassabian

Dining etiquette is rewritten at the Boulder Blind Café to include one unspoken rule: Utensils are unnecessary when eating in the dark.

Rosh Rocheleau’s Boulder Blind Café aims to provide sighted people with an evening in the life of a blind person, hosting a dinner party with the lights out. While the event took the sighted world out of their comfort zone, it is important to acknowledge the event did not necessarily simulate blindness, nor did it aim to. Individuals who are blind don’t have the luxury of forgoing utensils in a crowded restaurant.

The Boulder Blind Café begins in the reception hall of the St. John’s Episcopal Church on Thursday around 7 p.m. Visitors are assigned a number and led to an area where they can mingle with the people who will be seated at their table. At table nine’s reception, conversation followed general social convention, or in other words, people remained genuine but nonetheless disengaged — sharing excitement and anxiety over what they are about to experience, but generally talking to the people they came with.

Click here to read the rest of the article, published online on Monday, July 18.





Brewing for wellness

18 07 2011

Local tea business hits the spot

By Sara Kassabian

Tea can be more than just a beverage or a business. For some people it’s a tradition, a ceremony and representation of a lifelong dedication to the social promotion of wellness.

The Tea Spot began as a retail location but now operates as an exclusively wholesale business. The company sells loose-leaf tea and Steepware, innovative filters the company designs to steep tea leaves. Maria Uspenski started the business after tea aided in her recovery from ovarian cancer.

“I wouldn’t be in this business if I hadn’t gotten better from my illness, and I feel that tea had a lot to do with it,” Uspenski says.

The company follows a unique business model that dedicates 10 percent of every sale to cancer wellness programs in the community through donations of tea and Steepware.

“That’s what we can afford to do, and that’s the whole point, putting tea in people’s hands,” she says. Uspenski says this provides a good opportunity for introducing products to large audiences.

“We make sure that when we do donations that it is something that benefits us to get into a new person’s hands,” she says.

Click here to read the article, published in print and online at Boulderganic’s website in the Summer 2011 issue.





Boulder disputes GQ’s style verdict

14 07 2011

GQ magazine names Boulder one of America’s worst dressed cities

By Sara Kassabian

GQ Magazine has challenged Boulder to step up its style when ranking the city as number 40 on its list of the 40 Worst-Dressed Cities in America.

Many local residents disagree, instead politely telling GQ and New York City where they can put their fashion advice.

“I think it came from a bunch of stuck up people who don’t know what good casual dress is,” says Perry Branoff, a Boulder resident donning a golf shirt and shorts down to the knee.

One of GQ’s main critiques was Boulder’s preference for taking athletic clothing out of the gym and onto the street. Zach Keller, an employee of Urban Outfitters in Boulder wearing sharp, tortoise-colored eyeglasses and a crisp, thin white t-shirt, says he agrees with GQ’s assessment.

“I definitely think Boulder could step up its game and consider actual fashion instead of gym shorts and workout gear,” Keller says. “On Pearl St. alone there’s countless retail locations, but I mean, how many of those stores sell what I would consider non-athletic attire?”

Keller mentions Urban, American Apparel and Weekends as possibilities, but athletic retailers retain a strong local presence.

“We’re a little more athletic around here,” Branoff says in response to GQ’s workout snub.

Click here to read the rest of the article, published online on Thursday, July 14.





Enlightenment in darkness

14 07 2011

Blind Cafe builds bridges between blind and sighted worlds

By Sara Kassabian

In many ways, Rosh Rocheleau’s life evokes a Kerouac sense of wander. While touring as a musician in Iceland, Rocheleau literally stumbled into a darkened café and found himself enlightened.

“The waiters were blind, and they sent me in with a cane just by myself,” Rocheleau says. “I had to find my way in the pitch dark. I couldn’t see anything. It was a cool experience, and I just thought it would be great to bring back to Boulder. But I didn’t know anyone who was blind, so it took me maybe three or four years to find somebody who was.”

Years later, while attending Naropa University, Rocheleau steadily became connected to the blind community in Boulder and created the foundations of the Blind Café — a touring event that stops locally, as well as in Portland and Austin. The blind café has become an anticipated slice of culture in these communities. Rocheleau says he did the event just to try it, and did not expect it to turn into a sustainable business.

“I just kind of thought we’d just try it or do it,” Rocheleau says. “And then I was going to go on a trip — I happened to be in Big Sur, Calif. — and I was about to buy a ticket to Thailand, and I kept hearing this voice going off in my head [saying], ‘Go to Portland and start a blind café,’ and I was so unhappy not doing that, that I just went to Portland and started a blind café.”

The Blind Café also donates a portion of its proceeds to a local foundation supporting the blind community.

The Boulder Blind Café will be supporting the Boulder Guide Dog Puppy Raisers, an organization that trains puppies to be guide dogs for the blind.

Click here to read the rest of the story, published in print and online on Thursday, July 14.





Breaking through the binary

30 06 2011

American English contains self-expression

By Sara Kassabian

The quest for equal social and legal representation has traveled from church to courtroom and everywhere in between — but in many ways, inclusion for the LGBTQ community begins and ends with the language we use to concoct social meaning.

Joshua Raclaw, a sociocultural linguist and Ph.D. student at the University of Colorado Boulder says language is closely connected to culture.

“A lot of anthropologists view people’s language and the categories of that language as expressing viewpoints intimately tied to the culture of that language,” he says.

The American English language often adheres to binaries to articulate the world, which can be problematic for individuals who do not identify with one of the two normative or dominant descriptions.

“We have a society and culture that understands sex and gender in terms of only two,” Raclaw says.

In reality, there is a huge population of people who identify outside the male-female, heterosexual binary — whether it is an individual’s biological sex, sexual orientation, sex or gender identity, sexual behavior or gender expression.

“If you’re in that third category, it is really, really difficult to identify yourself in your everyday life, because your language does not accommodate for your gender identity,” Raclaw says. “So people in the U.S. who don’t fit into a binary gender — people who may identify as androgynous or gender queer, for example — when they don’t see themselves as being fully male or female, how do they talk about themselves using language?”

Gendered binaries erase, marginalize and ostracize individuals who do not identify as strictly male or female, Raclaw says. The fact that language reproduces archaic notions of normalizing sexual behavior or identity makes the fight for equal representation in society, or articulating one’s own self-expression, an even more challenging task.

The gendered assumptions of the English language can be found primarily in pronouns, formal salutations and references to romantic partners.

“It’s very limiting,” says Kevin Correa, the assistant director of CU’s GLBT Resource Center. “Language itself is limiting. It’s almost — I mean, we need new words, because the words that we have are so limiting.”

Click here to read the rest of the article, published in print and online on Thursday, June 30.