Category Archives: Midd Off-Campus

Introducing… The Dream Bus!!!

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Lena Jacobs ‘17.5 and Brandon Gell ’16 on the Dream Bus. Photo by Teddy Anderson.

It’s no secret that middkids do some pretty dope stuff over the summer. From internships that take us across the globe to volunteer opportunities in our local communities, our entire student body is scattered this summer trying to gain a little bit of that real world experience that everyone tells us is so important. Right here at home, though, some Midd students have been working on something extraordinary. Just last weekend, MiddChallenge winner Lena Jacobs ‘17.5 celebrated the completion of the Dream Bus. Intrigued? Like Lena’s perfectly coordinated blue shoes? Read on…

[Editors note: this article was originally published in the Addison Independent, speaking of summer internships…]

For unsuspecting middle schoolers, a school bus turned blue overnight.

Here, in the parking lot of Anna Sunderland Stowell Bingham Memorial School in Cornwall, Middlebury College junior Lena Jacobs has transformed a typical, yellow school bus into a mobile classroom that will soon depart Vermont for a summer-long trip across the United States.

The newly converted bus, which Jacobs purchased off of Craigslist from a seller in New Haven, CT, is designed to encourage social entrepreneurship and intellectual risk-taking by connecting high school students with experts in graphic design, marketing, social media, and more. For Jacobs, the project is a continuation of her work with The Future Project, a national campaign to empower young people to pursue their passions and bring their ideas to fruition.

The Dream Bus, as it is now known, will leave Cornwall this weekend for a months-long trip, stopping in 7 major cities, including Detroit, Omaha, Denver and Los Angeles. At each location, the bus will park at the various high schools where The Future Project has already established a presence. There, the Dream Bus will provide those high school students with the opportunity to workshop their ideas with local community members and Future Project specialists known as Dream Directors.

“When a student gets on the bus, they sit down with a Dream Director in the lounge seating area and chat through their idea,” explained Jacobs. “Then they come up to a high top table where local community members will stand with their computers. In every city, we’re going to ask people to volunteer their time,” she added. “These people might be graphic designers who will develop a logo for your project idea, or maybe they’ll be campaign managers who are really good with social media, so they can help you figure out what your Twitter should be called and what you should be tweeting about.”

Jacobs will spend the next week working to enlist such community volunteers for the Dream Bus. “The bus is kind of just a liaison, bringing these (community members and high school students) together for the time being. The important thing is that when it leaves, there are still people there to follow up with the students.”

After receiving a grant from The Future Project and MiddChallenge, an ideas competition sponsored by the college, Jacobs and a team of fellow students including Brandon Gell ’16, Morgan Raith ‘16.5, and Josh Espy ’17 have worked tirelessly to create this unconventional learning space.

“It’s all happened really fast,” said Gell, an architecture major who has been instrumental in the bus’s transformation.

“When Brandon arrived the only thing that was in the bus was the flooring,” Jacobs said. “There was no electrical, there were no seats, it was not painted, the table didn’t exist. We hadn’t even purchased wood yet.”

Yet Jacobs and her team have not been been working alone.

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TONIGHT: Sofia Donavan-Lefuente at 51 Main

Tonight, Midd’s own Sofia Donavan-Lafuente ’18 will be playing at 51 Main! If you’re looking for a night in town to do something a little different, this should be an awesome event. More on Sofia, who is releasing an EP soon (!), below:

Sofia Donavan-Lafuente is a Spanish and American singer/songwriter. At the age of 13, she took up the guitar whilst recovering from major back surgery and her songwriting began to blossom. Now a first-year student at Middlebury College, Sofia has written over 70 songs, supported a major band at Shepherds Bush Empire, performed at the Isle Of Wight Festival, The Troubadour and a number of other London venues. Sofia’s first EP “Left to the Clouds” launches on May 19.

Date: Today, May 8th
Time: 6-7PM
Place: 51 Main at the Bridge
Cost: nay

Study Abroad Research Grant Presentations


Continuing today and tomorrow, the RAJ house will be hosting talks given by seniors on the research they conducted while abroad last year. While abroad may just be a glimmer in our underclassmen eyes, these talks should be super inspiring and offer insight into the type of work we can when we leave Midd for a foreign country. Come see what our peers have been working on!!

Date: Today May 6th
Time: 4:30
Place: RAJ conference room
Cost: Free

TONIGHT: Happenstance, an Alumni/Senior Mixer

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Okay, okay– we’re not supposed to talk about graduation yet. But we’re nearing the month of May, and it’s kind of getting real. Here’s a really cool event for seniors and senior febs that sounds like a lot of fun mingling. Nes Martinez ’10 writes in to middbeat:

With just weeks away until graduation, when will there be a better time to make your own luck? Come meet some alums, chat, and make some connections. Free apps, cash bar. Business casual!

Date: Today, April 27th
Time: 6:00
Place: 51 Main
Cost: Free

TODAY– If This Farm Could Talk: Culinary Tourism in Vermont!!

Oh my gosh SO excited about this. We all know how amazing Vermont is, and today we can hear from someone who has found a way to share it with others! Today, Midd alum Chris Howell ‘4.5 will return to campus to discuss his business, Vermont Farm Tours. His company is a small culinary tour outfit offering guided driving and cycling tours, cheese making workshops, and on-farm events. From the event description:

Vermont Farm Tours aims to involve both locals and tourists in Vermont’s agricultural story, and more broadly—to explore place through food. In 2010 Chris received the Wild Gift Fellowship to launch his business: a 16-month program supporting better world entrepreneurs. Chris is currently the vice president of Slow Food Vermont and co-chairs Farm to Plate’s Consumer Education and Marketing Working Group and Agritourism Task Force.

Date: Today, April 17th
Time: 12:30
Place: Axinn 229
Cost: Free w/ PIZZA

The Last Five Years at the Town Hall Theater

11059508_10206009888268360_2397574688251865022_nWant to spice up your Thursday night with a little off-campus culture? Tonight and through the weekend, the Town Hall Theater will be showcasing senior thesis work of a Middlebury senior. Mike McCann ’15 writes in to middbeat:

The Last Five Years is a heartfelt contemporary musical that recounts the twists and turns of a failed relationship. The story is told from two perspectives: Jamie starts at the beginning of the relationship and moves to the end, and Cathy starts at the end and works backward to the first date. Jason Robert Brown’s beautiful story was even recently made into a movie starring Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan. This show is the senior thesis performance of Mike McCann and also features student musicians Tevan Goldberg ’18 and Zak Fisher ’16.

Date: April 9th, April 11th, April 12th
Time: 8 PM, 8 PM, and 2 PM respectively
Place: Middlebury Town Hall Theater
Cost: $6 for students

Changing Times: Multi-School Coalition and Alumni Mobilization Advance Divestment Movement

17204_1548782685402995_3617527780239181061_nStudents around the world are rising and we will no longer accept silence. Today, the Investure Schools Coalition for Fossil Fuel Divestment sent a letter to each of our colleges’ presidents requesting a meeting between administrators and representatives from our divestment campaigns. We are sending this letter in conjunction with the National Alumni Escalation for Fossil Fuel Divestment and are requesting that our presidents respond by the culmination of Harvard Heat Week for Fossil Fuel Divestment on April 17th.

Logistics of a Commingled Fund:

The Investure Schools Coalition consists of the divestment campaigns from Barnard College in New York, Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, Middlebury College in Vermont, and Smith College in Massachusetts. All of our colleges endowments are managed by an investment firm called Investure, LLC, and students at all of our colleges are working to divest our endowments from fossil fuels. We are in a unique position because our endowments are mixed in a co-mingled fund along with a total of 13 other institutions, which means that our money is treated as single pool and individual schools have very limited control over how the money is invested.

In 2010, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund –previously a client of Investure–and Middlebury College worked with Investure to create the Sustainable Investments Initiative, an alternative pool of sustainable investments within Investure. Both institutions contributed money to the pool, but the structure did not allow for full divestment. After attempts to negotiate full divestment, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund left Investure on September 22, 2014 to divest their $843 million endowment through a different investment firm. Investure’s unwillingness to negotiate divestment with the Rockefeller Brothers Fund showed us that coming to the table as individual clients would not be likely to succeed.  Our circumstances made it essential for us to work together and to pursue divestment as a united coalition.

This coalition was founded out of necessity, but from it has grown a commitment to support each other through the divestment process and the opportunity to leverage our collective voice to amplify our unified message .  We believe in the power of unity, and are coordinating with our faculty and alumni to add their voices to call for divestment.

Alumni Support for this Shift:

This week alumni are returning to their respective institutions in droves to sign divestment petitions and the “Long Haul Organizing Pledge,” engineered by the new Alumni Divestment Network. In addition, alumni groups have established escrow funds in which they can provide donations that will only be made accessible to their respective institutions when divestment is completed. These actions attest to the dedication and endurance of alumni in the divestment movement. Zach Drennen, Middlebury class of 2013 writes,  “In a time when money is legally considered speech, continuing to put our money in fossil fuel companies means stating clearly that we do not take climate change seriously. Middlebury rightly values its image as an environmental leader, and it is past time for its actions to meet that image.”

Through our organizing efforts, we have seen the power of unity within the climate justice movement, and we are dedicated to standing in solidarity with divestment campaigns across the country and world. We are not alone in this. Other divestment campaigns, have formed coalitions to support each other, including the Fossil Fuel Divestment Student Network and the Ivy League Fossil Fuel Divestment Coalition.

Our Goals:

As students unite in the call for divestment, our colleges cannot continue business as usual any longer. It is time to take action, and we hope that our coalition will help bring students and administrators together and harness our full potential to to make material changes for a sustainable future. As we continue our efforts we will stand in solidarity with our fellow students and adhere to our guiding principles:We believe that climate change is a threat to the livelihood of current and future generations. We believe the assumption that fossil fuels are a necessary part of a stable investment portfolio is outdated and false. We believe that our colleges’ should see the sustainability of our planet as integral to our academic and future success; for our future and the future of the planet are one and the same.

We hope to begin an open dialogue with administrators to create a mutually agreed upon strategy for divestment. Colleges and institutions are divesting from fossil fuels across the world  and we are calling on our colleges to join the movement and be leaders in preserving the planet for their students.

Please support us by joining the student and alumni network at: or by writing letters to your college administration and postponing all donations to your alma mater until it has divested.

And signing each school’s Fossil Free petition:





Written by students Sophie Vaughan (Middlebury College) ’17 and Helen Cane (Barnard College) ’17

Help Free Feminist Activists in China

Feminists in China

Reading through the fantastic Beyond the Green student blog the other day, I came across a great post by Jingyi Wu ’17 recounting her experience in Beijing around International Women’s Day.  Some of her activist friends were detained by police in response to their organizing efforts, and she’s now working alongside a group seeking their amnesty.  After touching base with her, she was excited to get the word out on a larger platform.  You can find her original piece below, and links to how you can get help with her efforts.  Credit is due to Jingyi for her work, and Beyond the Green for allowing us to repost.  Make sure to check out the petition here and at the bottom after the jump.

This is my story. My name is Jingyi Wu.

Close to a week ago, at 2 pm, Mar. 6th 2015 Beijing time, two days before the International Women’s Day, my friend, a much-loved feminist activist, Wei Tingting was asked to go to the police station for a tea interview, and she hasn’t returned home since. In China, a saying goes “there is no free lunch.” A tea interview with the police not only means that you get free tea, you get into trouble too. Two hours later, at 4 pm, people from Ministry of State Security of the People’s Republic of China came to the home of my other friend Wang Man, and arrested her. Over the course of a day, the Chinese government arrested my three other activist friends, Li Maizi, Zheng Churan, and Wu Rongrong, in Beijing, Hangzhou, and Guangzhou, three cities that are thousands of miles apart, and transported them to a distant detention camp outside of Beijing. From one Chinese policeman, we gathered the information that the detention might be up to 30 days or more, which means that the Chinese government has to file a official charge towards them. Since then, no further information could be found.

The link between the arrests of these five women is a simple one. Through monitoring devices, the government gathered information about the actions these women from cities around China were planning for International Women’s Day, and out of an intricate need to maintain a peaceful image when National People’s Congress is in session, the government decided to stop the event. What my friends were planning was to pass out stickers on public transportation to raise awareness of sexual harassment happening in public space. On one of the stickers, it says, “Stop sexual harassment, police, go get the harassers,” but the policemen went and got the activists instead.

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B9316562005Z.1_20150311171737_000_GHEA6LUUQ.1-0Finally– the arrival of one of the year’s most anticipated events! Drum roll please…. today is the seventh annual Vermont Chili Festival!!! We cannot contain our excitement. Don’t believe us? Middlebury’s chili fest was named one of the top ten winter events by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce– sounds like a ringing endorsement from people who are really in the know.

So what does Chili Fest actually entail? For all you newbs or those who just need a little refresher course, here’s some basic info to make chili fest the wonderful day of unlimited eating that it is.

Vendors from all over Vermont will convene today at 1PM on Main Street to vie for the title of best chili in Vermont. A panel of judges will award a winner for each of six categories: veggie, beef, chicken, kitchen sink, pork, best overall. If anyone can clarify what kitchen sink means in the comment section that would be much appreciated!

What’s our role in all of this? We pay a $7 fee upon entering in exchange for a spoon, some voting chips, and day of delicious fun. Line up on either side of the tents to sample each of the batches of chili. You’ll probably recognize some of the vendors– many local restaurants compete as well as some of our own Midd students!

When you try a batch that reaaaaally speaks to you, drop a chip off for that vendor. The top vote will get a people’s choice cash award!

So now you have the basics. Let’s talk strategy.

1. DRESS IN LAYERS. We’re all in the phase of spring right now when any weather above thirty degrees feels effing tropical. But guys it’s still really cold, and standing outside for a few hours takes its toll. Warm socks are a must. We’re all wishing the winter away with spring outfits (I’m looking at you, people breaking out the chacos), but in truth it’s still quite chilly.

2. Get used to the chili puns now. See above.

3. In the same vein, it’s probably going to rain today. Plan accordingly and still go. We’re psuedo Vermonters now, and the chili fest website describes us as hardy. So.

4. The corn bread goes fast. Just a warning.

5. Give your chips out carefully. You can walk through at the end to cast your votes, but don’t be shy to drop a chip when you taste the best thing you’ve ever eaten.

6. If you don’t like chili (like me), it doesn’t really matter. Just go. There’s live music and other things to do too!

7. Think about pacing yourself, but don’t think too much. You’ll know when you’ve had enough, but it probably won’t come till the end. If you don’t like a sample, don’t finish it. This is your best way to ensure that you won’t get too full before you’ve tried everything. If getting full is something you anticipate, avoid the chips.

8. Try not to lose steam. Call it when the sight of chili is too much, or when you get too cold. But other than that, soak it all in and take advantage of seeing the whole state converge on Middlebury’s main street all in the name of a hot meat meal. (weird)

9. Veer off the beaten path.  While the restaurants you recognize will obviously be bringing it, some unexpected contenders may surprise you.

10. Teamwork.  Fire up that GroupMe and keep your crew informed about what is not to be missed, and where to steer clear. Thats what being a friend is all about.

Go forth and gorge!


TONIGHT: Eclectic Mix Dance Party at the Marquis Theater



Curious about the new Marquis Theater? Want to shake up your Thursday night routine? Check out this awesome dance party tonight! For those of us who complain a lot about our shortage of options on campus for social events, this seems like an interesting alternative! Mzwakithi M Shongwe ’16 writes in to middbeat:

Join us for a night of fun and good music this coming Thursday at the newly refurbished Marquis Café & Theater. The mix will encompass old school vs. new school hip-hop, r&b and a healthy dose of the latest pop hits thrown in with some EDM for good measure.

Date: Today, February 26th
Time: 10:00 PM
Place: Middlebury Marquis Theater
Cost: FREE!