Posts by Sarah Franco

 
 
 

What Are We Tweeting For?

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Since late last summer, a group of intrepid wanna-be social media mavens from various offices at the College have gathered periodically to discuss the in’s, out’s, up’s, down’s, do’s, and don’t's of Web 2.0. It’s equal parts brainstorming, salivating, and group therapy. We’ve covered the usual suspects, like Facebook and Twitter, but we’ve also touched on some platforms and technologies you may have never heard of, such as foursquare, Photosynth, Murmur, Quick Response (QR) codes, Gowalla, scvngr, and mobile web. We share what our respective areas are currently working on; bemoan the demise of long-standing, well-used features (we’re looking at you, Facebook Groups!); and philosophize about what social media tools Middlebury should pursue further (like foursquare) and what we should pass on for now (like a three-dimensional image of President Liebowitz via Photosynth).

It was in one of these meetings that the seed for using social media to address the Great Dish Crisis of Forever was planted. Mind you, Communications did all of the heavy lifting and thinking: creating and developing Aunt Des, filming and editing the Godfather-esque videos, designing posters with fancy-schmancy QR codes, and finding just the right shade of red nail polish.

Earlier this year, our ring leader, Pam Fogg, introduced us to Murmur. Dial up 802.443.2600 and enter a three-digit code to hear a story related to a building on campus. Punch in 127 to listen to Hugh Marlow tell of hearing Robert Frost say his poems to packed crowds in Mead Chapel, or 118 to hear Sarah Franco (oh, hey, that’s me) tell the gripping tale of meeting my husband in Coltrane Lounge way back in September 2004. Middlebury’s repository of Murmur stories is a great way to show prospective students how they can build unique experiences and lives on our campus or to help alumni reconnect with the College and classmates they parted with years ago.

Slowly, but surely, we’ve been working on building Middlebury’s presence on foursquare, “a location-based mobile platform that makes cities easier to use and more interesting to explore.” All of Middlebury’s buildings have been added to foursquare, including 51 Main and the Museum of Art, both of which offer special deals to users who check in. In the coming months, we plan to add downtown venues and outdoor areas of interest (like the footbridge over the Otter Creek and the Robert Frost trails in Ripton), all in an effort to introduce first-years and other newcomers to our community and to encourage upperclassmen, staff, and faculty to try new things. Be sure to check out Middlebury’s page on foursquare and add us as a friend.

I could blog on and on about social media at Middlebury. Is it worth the investment? Is the message getting out? Should institutions be early adopters of new technologies and media platforms? These are just some of the questions we have been asking ourselves this year. But we’d love to hear from you: How have you been using social media as part of your work at Middlebury? Are there things the College could do differently or better when it comes to such tools? Hit up the comments and stay tuned for more from this ragtag crew.

Wanted: Turf Battle Feedback

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

On Tuesday afternoon, three groups of students presented their proposals for the Atwater landscape. The students, staff, and faculty in the audience asked a lot of great questions and provided solid feedback for how certain aspects of each proposal could be improved. One suggestion that came up frequently was to incorporate various elements of each design into one plan.

Over at the Turf Battle blog, Tim Parsons has provided a summary of each proposal. There you can download their plans and presentation slides. We strongly encourage you to leave your questions and feedback in the comments section, or email vpadmin@middlebury.edu. Remember: the landscape is for the community and we want to know what you think! When the Master Plan Implementation Committee meets in the coming weeks, your ideas will be taken into consideration.

Turf Battle Update & Open Forum

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Back in November, the Master Plan Implementation Committee invited students to submit proposals to Turf Battle, a competition to redesign the landscape at Atwater. Although the committee had no specific vision for how this area should look and feel, they imagined a space with additional vegetation and recreational opportunities.

Three groups of students heard the call and submitted their plans last week. One group would like to create the Garden of Scholarly Delight to promote “dialogue between members of the faculty, community, student body, and the environment.” Because this design is inspired by Chinese gardens, the students imagine that such a landscape could “further the College’s aims to promote respect and learning of other cultures and broaden the scope of building traditions on campus.”

Another group of students contrasts their design with Battell Beach and seeks to develop a “more urban ‘plaza’ and flexible entertainment or gathering space.” Central to their plan is a “terraced seating area that looks out over a retention pond/stage/ice rink” whose use would respond to the seasons and the desires of the community.

Finally, a third group of students has developed a plan whose primary goals include encouraging overall use, improving drainage, creating privacy, and establishing an outdoor classroom/performance/gathering area. These students noted that “while [Atwater] currently provides ‘open space’ for potential recreation, it is under-used because of its sloping turf, oddly shaped spaces and heavy pedestrian traffic.” In turn, their proposal calls for the creation of distinct environments to support a variety of uses.

The community will have the opportunity to learn more about all of these proposals at an open forum on Tuesday, March 1 at 4:30 pm in Dana Auditorium. Each group will be allotted 15 minutes to present their plans. Up to 30 minutes total of feedback and Q&A will follow. The Master Plan Implementation Committee, which will consider the community’s response to these proposals, expects to make a final decision by the following week.

If you wish to view the proposals ahead of time, you may download the PDF copies below.

Copy of Catalano-Madson-Moritz

Copy of Webster-Hsieh-Maher

Copy of Webster-Hsieh-Maher-sketches

Copy of Lee-Rosenblatt

Juice Bar Competition: What Do You Want?

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

The deadline for submitting proposals to establish a student-managed food/drink service in the Juice Bar area of the Grille has come and gone. The competition has yielded nine outstanding proposals demonstrating the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of our students. A committee of faculty, staff, and students will convene shortly to review each proposal and select a final candidate by Monday, December 13. Proposals will be judged on the basis of their feasibility, economic viability, vision, and simplicity.

Having read through all of the proposals, I have noticed that several common (and uncommon) themes have arisen. In the beverage arena, smoothies, hot drinks (espresso, brewed coffee, and tea), beer, and wine are clear favorites among the submissions. Several proposals include a desire to also serve niche drinks, such as kombucha, bubble tea, and butterbeer (a la that bespectacled boy-wizard). As for food, there seems to be a tension between healthy fare and comfort food. Submissions include everything from Asian-inspired light meals to afternoon snacks to just desserts.

In terms of the appearance and ambience of the restaurant, students widely acknowledged the need to counterbalance the “Work Hard, Play Hard” mentality of our campus. Whether advocating for the feel of mom’s kitchen counter or a 1930’s-style jazz café, students want to develop a venue where patrons can hang-out, relax, and unwind.

There was also no shortage of ideas for what sort of entertainment should be available. Poetry readings, improv shows, classic movie screenings, theme nights, coffee tastings, board games, and especially live music top the list.

Given the array of proposals before us, it would be helpful to have a sense of what the greater community would like to see in the former Juice Bar. Even if you did not craft a proposal, you likely have an opinion about the beverages, food, entertainment, and overall atmosphere that should be offered. If the new venue is to be successful, what should be included and what should be left out?