This I Believe

My life has been woven by the theme of the unconventional. From my parents’ origins to the way I saw the ordinary things of the world, I knew that I might never quite fit in anywhere.

Growing up in the outskirts of the largest city in South America, I found refuge amongst the trees, plants, and animals of the Atlantic Rainforest. It was a privilege to be able to wake up hearing the birds and monkeys in the mornings and fall asleep to the sounds of the frogs. My parents’ deep love and respect for nature effortlessly ingrained in me. I felt at home when I was outside. I instinctively knew that I was a part of something larger than myself. Through those early experiences, I began to understand that nature is—as Leopold so insightfully put it—“a community to which we belong.” I began to understand that every one of us—every species of plants, species of animals, soil, water, and air—are all intrinsic and interdependent parts of this complex world we live in.

Overlooking the city of São Paulo from “Pedra Grande” (The Great Rock) in the Cantareira State Park in São Paulo, Brazil. Photo taken by Hari Baumbach taken in 2008.

Overlooking the city of São Paulo from “Pedra Grande” (The Great Rock) in the Cantareira State Park in São Paulo, Brazil. Photo taken by Hari Baumbach in 2008.

Growing up with that intimate connection with the natural world, I had trouble understanding the mainstream “progress” minded, dissecting, segregationist, and utilitarian relationship our society has with nature. A relationship that ultimately led to the pollution, destruction, impoverishment, and injustice I could so easily see from the top of the Great Rock that overlooked the cancerous, gray, smog-filled São Paulo from the no-longer-so-pristine Atlantic Rainforest I once called home. Our world today is filled with case studies of injustice to our land and to all of the living beings on it.

Our relationship with the Earth ultimately reflects our relationship with ourselves. I believe that all of our needs are intertwined and interdependent. There is no separation. We must care for our world and each other, as the family we truly are.

I believe in the power we all have to work together to create a more harmonious Earth community. A community that thrives on the understanding of our interdependence with each other, on the principles of sustainability, and on the acceptance and embracement of diversity.

Working at the Environmental Center

My experiences at the Environmental Center have helped me better articulate my beliefs and values by providing me with opportunities to both share ideas with and present ideas to a diverse range of audiences in a varied range of contexts. From working on projects to educate the community about environmental issues to leading a group of students on projects to solve a local problem, I have been encouraged and empowered to learn to clearly communicate myself.

Reclaimed Art: Toilet paper roll wall art

Wall Art From Toilet Paper Rolls

Wall Art From Toilet Paper Rolls

So much of what we end up throwing out or recycling could become something new. Reclaiming materials before they go to the landfill or even get recycled is a much more eco-friendly alternative. In this post, I’ll be showing you how even toilet paper rolls can turn into something beautiful without that much effort.

How to make wall art from toilet paper rolls

What you will need:

What you will need.

Materials and tools you will need.

  1. Toilet paper rolls (the amount will depend on the size of your piece).
  2. Sharp scissors
  3. Clothes pins
  4. Acrylic paints and a palette to mix them
  5. Paint brushes
  6. Ruler
  7. Pencil (and eraser in case you make a mistake)
  8. While glue

Stage 1: Planning

Step 1

Step 1: Decide on shape and design.

You can work with any number of shapes and your design can be as large as you want (also consider that the more rolls you have, the larger it can be).

For this example, we are going to work with leaf shaped toilet paper rolls and a wreath like design (which is a great eco-friendly holiday season decor piece) shown below.

Design Example

Design Example

Stage 2: Prepping

Step 2.1

Step 2.1: Mark cut measurements.

2.1  Grab the ruler, the pencil, and the toilet paper rolls and make 1 inch markings along the length of the toilet paper roll as shown above. You can vary on the size of your markings, but keep in mind that if they are not deep enough, they may not show as much, and if they are too deep, they may not glue together very well (see side view of finished piece below for an example of the 1-inch depth). You can also play with using different depths, if that’s an effect you’re looking for. In these examples, all pieces are the same size.

Depth view

1-inch depth view.


Step 2.2

Step 2.2: Draw cut guides.

 Next, use your ruler and pencil to draw cut guides to help you cut the toilet paper rolls.

Step 2.3

Step 2.3: Cut toilet paper rolls.

2.3 Next, use the scissors to cut the toilet paper rolls along their markings.


Step 2.4

Step 2.4: Paint toilet paper roll parts.

2.4 Next is painting, so pick out your acrylic paint colors and paint brush and go for it. Make sure to coat the toilet paper roll piece well and get every little corner. Let dry a little and check to see if you missed any spots. It should look fully coated when you’re done (see example below). It is also helpful to paint the outside first, set it aside to dry, then paint the inside as well (and don’t forget the edges, as they will show the most in a front view). If you want an iron look (which actually looks really good), use a black with a little brown in it. If you’re going for a holiday look, red and greens work well. You can also play with textures and with mixing colors.

Painted example.

Painted example.


Stage 3: Assembling

Step 3.1

Step 3.1: Glue pieces together.

3.1 First: make sure to lay out your design to have a sense of how you want the pieces to connect to each other. Then, grab a section of 2-3 pieces and with a brush, apply a small amount of glue to one of the sides touching each other.

Step 3.2

Step 3.2: Clamp glued pieced with clothes pin.

Clamping view from above.

Clamping view from above.

3.2 Immediately after applying glue, use clothes pins to hold pieces together while glue is drying. Wait at least 5 minutes before releasing “clamp”. Continue to repeat steps 3.1 and 3.2 until you finish assembling your design.

That’s it for today!  I hope you enjoy this post and please share your own tips on how to reclaim materials to give them a new life!

Art from waste: An Interview with artist Vivian Krishnan

Artist Vivian Krishnan and works.

Artist Vivian Krishnan (left center) and friends modeling her work at the fashion show. (Photo by Hari Baumbach)

Reusing materials that would otherwise go to waste is becoming more common in the art world. Fort Lewis College art student Vivian Krishnan is one of these artists who decided to turn “trash” into art. Last week, her work along with other students’ work was showcased at FLC’s Art Department fundraiser at the Lost Dog Bar in downtown Durango. Here’s what Vivian has to say about her work.

Hari Baumbach: Tell me a little about yourself (background, hometown, major, artists who inspire you, art that you like to do).

Vivian Krishnan: I was born and raised in Kailua, Oahu HI. I live in Denver when I’m not attending school at the Fort. My major is in Studio Art with an Art History minor. For the time being I have been very inspired by multiple designers like Vallentino, Hugo Boss, and Calvin Klein. Robin Barcus Slonina who is a sculptor has had a huge influence on me. Besides sculpture, I love working with textiles and well as printmaking.

HB: How did the wearable art project come to be and how/ why did you decide to use materials that would’ve otherwise gone to waste to create your pieces?

VK: The first time I tried out this wearable art idea was when I started one of sculpture projects assigned by Jay Dougan. We were asked to find an artist we liked and produce work inspired by them. The artist I chose was Robin Barcus. She takes dress forms to a whole new level she makes a lot of her pieces out of natural things like pinecones and flowers so I thought I would use materials that were quite the opposite.

HB: What materials are used and what techniques did you employ to turn the materials into your pieces?

VK: For a few of my pieces I used plastic grocery bags from Walmart, Home Depot, and Lowe’s. By fusing multiples layers of the plastic with an iron I was able to create a sturdy fabric. Other materials that I used were hardware cloth, newspaper, bubble wrap, packaging foam and peanuts, and City Market paper bags.

HB: How did you envision the impact your work would have on your audience? Did you have a specific message in mind? If so, what was your message?

Vivian and I

Vivian and I after the fashion show.

VK: I haven’t really thought of the impact. People just kept telling me how pretty the outfits were so it doesn’t seem very different from making normal clothes. My message is mostly just that if we have these materials lying around why not just give them one last good use and make something out of them. All it takes is time and I think its time worth spending. Playing around with the idea of what is fabric is another key factor in my work.

HB: What part do you think artists play/ can play/ should play in creating awareness about social and environmental issues?

VK: Artists have a huge influence on others. The audience may not agree or like it but, if someone see’s work with a clear message they will probably remember it and tell others about it. Talking about the process we go through as artists is also important. When I was making my pieces, it was very important to me that I limit the amount of waste I created.

HB: In which ways do you feel your work could change people’s relationship to waste?

Rubbish can be pretty! Recycling can lead to beautiful things and I just hope that people can see from my work that if you’re not going to limit your waste at least deal with it properly.

HB: In your own words, how did you feel the fashion show on Thursday came together? Were you happy with the outcome?

VK: The show could not have happened with out all the students that helped and the handful of teachers who supported it. There was a lot of teamwork that went into the production of the show. I’m just really proud of all of the artists, students, and the Gallery Management class that helped Sarah Swoboda, Elizabeth Gand, and myself. I am so happy about how it went! I couldn’t have asked for a better night.

HB: What are your hopes for the future? Are you planning to continue working with “unusual” materials on future projects?

VK: Absolutely, I have become obsessed with using plastic grocery bags. My apartment is full of them just waiting to be used! I hope to make more clothes and perhaps accessories.

HB: Do you have any final comments or statements you would like to add?

VK: I really just want to thank Elizabeth Gand (the art history professor) for taking an interest in my work and giving me the chance to push it further. Also, there is nothing wrong with being more aware of ourselves and our surroundings. Recycling is so easy!

~ Hari Baumbach

Educating about the 350 campaign

Jasalyn here from the Communication and Outreach team!

This past semester I have written a petition to send to Colorado Senator Micheal Bennett. Many of you do not live in Colorado so thinking about an issue in this state might not matter. But if this petition is successful Colorado schools will educate children, our nieces, nephews and younger brother or sisters, about the impacts humans have on our planet.

The Environmental Center has been a role model for the Durango community, bringing recycling into the city, so why cannot Colorado do the same for the United States. Positive and productive change must start with education; if a person is ignorant of the issue they can be blindly lead. Senator Micheal Bennett has the power to bring change but he must first understand it is an important issue to our generation.

The program I have chosen to educate people is the campaign. It concerns the amount of Carbon Dioxide produced and ways to reduce our emissions. Our atmosphere can only continue providing livable conditions while containing a set number of Carbon parts per million, that number being 350 ppm. By supporting my petition your are telling Colorado Senator Micheal Bennett how important our future is for us and our younger siblings.

~ Jasalyn Dittmar

10th Annual REEL Environmental Film Festival

The EC Presents the 10th Annual REEL Environmental Film Festival, October 20th, at the Smiley Building.

This year’s festival focuses on the issue of water and showcases two films, “Rango” starring Jonny Depp; and “Tapped” a documentary about the bottled water.  Door’s open at 5:00, “Rango” starts at 5:30 and “Tapped” starts at 7:30.  The event features a silent auction, free food from Zia Taqueria, Baskin Robbins, Dominos, and Raider Ridge, and beer, root beer floats, and wine available for purchase from Carvers.  As always, the event is FREE (with a suggested donation) and open to the public.

Sponsored by LPEA, KDUR, Carvers Brewing Company, Student Union Productions, Backcountry Experience, Chinook Medical Gear, and Fresh off the Press.

Download flyer.

Zero-Waste’s Campus Waste Audit

Come out and get dirty on October 19th! This educational, provocative, and ultimately fun event is geared towards gaining a better understanding of our waste stream here at FLC. Over the course of the day, we will sift through an entire day’s worth of FLC garbage in order to determine how much trash we as a college produce and how much of that trash could be recycled.

More info: here

Volunteer at the Waste Audit

What: Individuals needed to help sort through trash, in addition to educating spectators about the meaning of zero-waste and minimizing impacts.

When: Wednesday, October 19th for anytime you are willing to donate b/w 9-4

Where: In front of Reed Library

Contact: Sign up in the EC or contact Drew Walters at

Salsa Making Night

A collaborative event between the Environmental Center and El Centro de Muchos Colores. We will be making fresh salsa in El Centro with harvests from the Environmental Center gardens. We’ll be preparing our own salsa and eating plenty of it in the process! Come join us and enjoy some great food.

For FLC Students Only!

Please check this link for more information.