Category Archives: Life

Car-delivery service attempts to drive others out of business

For residents of Winona, Minnesota, a college city on the
Mississippi, the possibilities on how to get from Point A to Point B are plentiful.

The city offers a four-route shuttle bus system, a taxicab company and a recreation center equipped with canoes, rollerblades and bicycles.

If all else fails, a scenic stroll can get someone almost anywhere worth going in about 20 minutes.

One thing Winona didn’t have until 2018 was Lyft, a direct driver-to-rider, cashless car service controlled solely by cell phones.

As part of the Rochester Area radius, the service extends from Red Wing to Albert Lea.

The first step in the Lyft process is to create a rider or driver profile.

Once the profile is created, users input a debit or credit card which allows money to be withdrawn as a rider and deposited as a driver.

From there, riders can type in their point for pick-up and drop off.

What happens next?

The nearest driver will be on their way to the designated pick-up point.

Lyft driver sticker in front of vehicle window
All drivers who have made it through the company screening process of their driving record, license and insurance will be able to mark their vehicle as Lyft-certified with a sticker in the front and back.

While the idea of getting in a stranger’s vehicle may make some
uneasy, Lyft implemented the ability for riders and drivers alike to watch a digitized progression of the ride.

Lex Lea, a Winona State University junior (in the featured photo above), jumped at the chance to join Lyft this past summer and make money doing an enjoyable task for her: driving.

She’s been a driver with Lyft for six months.

Lyft ran a background check, driver’s record check and confirmation of her license and insurance.

Every element of the application is approved individually. Drivers cannot begin until all parts have passed Lyft’s driver screening.

Lea said Lyft periodically offers instructional videos to help prepare drivers to handle situations with riders.

While she likes Lyft for its flexible hours, Lea said she uses it for fast cash and not as her primary income.

It can take a considerable amount of drives with the minimum rate that starts at $3.64 and goes up per mile.

Part of the payment for her though is the entertaining riders.

A car ceiling full of collector buttons
Riders can tip and rate drivers on quality and efficiency of the rider’s trip. Lex Lea boosts her rating with a conversation-starting element to her car: a car ceiling decked out with her collectible-button collection.

One of Lea’s favorite interactions came from a group of drunken girls who “hyped her up” by persistently calling everyone in the car, Lea included, “on point and so pretty.”

“It’s interesting that drunk people always think that they’re found to be annoying by sober people. I don’t mind, though. It’s entertaining and much better than sitting at home.”

Kaitlyn Tenney, a Winona State senior, started with Lyft in October as she saw her dad go through the process, which she described as “super easy.”

When Tenney drives, she said she prefers Thursday to Saturday nights until bar close around 1 a.m.

Despite drunken antics, Tenney said the service makes sense for Winona.

“It’s a useful service for the bar scene and convenient because
almost everyone has a phone,” Tenney said.

According to Tenney, she’s had riders who use it if they’re unable to drive and need to get to work, pick up groceries and get to
treatment groups.

As more people learn of the service, Lyft may become the primary way to get around Winona.

Controversial CBD explained

CBD oil has seen an increase in popularity in recent years but not much is known about the new supplement. 

CBD stands for cannabidiol. It comes from the hemp plant which is a cousin of the marijuana plant. 

According to Island City Vapors, Harvard Medical School and other sources, despite popular belief, CBD cannot get a person high. 

According to the World Health Organization CBD also has no dependence or abuse potential. 

“To date, there is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD,” the World Health Organization stated. 

Because of its close relationship with marijuana Katie Jensen, Winona State University health and wellness promotion coordinator said she believes CBD has been more popular. 

“I think that is why people are drawn to it a lot of the time,” Jensen said. “It’s almost like a forbidden fruit.”

One way of applying CBD for pain is through a balm like this one. Someone who uses this kind of product will rub the balm on the skin of the area that causes pain.

According to Harvard Medical School, CBD is legal on some level in all 50 states. The federal government puts CBD in the same class as marijuana but doesn’t enforce it regularly. 

In Minnesota, as of Jan. 1, 2020 products with CBD can be legally sold if conditions outlined in Minnesota Statue 151.72 are met. 

CBD products are sold now because products derived from hemp were removed from controlled substances laws which many took as an indication that selling CBD products is legal, according to a MinnPost article. 

The Minnesota Board of Pharmacy said selling CBD products is not legal, according to a MinnPost article but no enforcement ever happened. 

Harvard Medical School also stated the legality of CBD is expected to change because of a bipartisan consensus in Congress to make the hemp crop legal. That would make it hard to prohibit CBD. 

One major issue people have with CBD is the lack of research and information available. 

Jensen said when typing CBD into Google or other search engines what most likely will come up is companies marketing the product and stating CBD a miracle drug or a cure-all.

“There has been a lot of inflations of how good it can be for different people,” Jensen said. 

Research from Harvard Medical School showed the most effective use of CBD oil is for Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, which are some of the worst child epilepsy syndromes. 

The FDA approved Epidioles for these conditions which does contain CBD. 

The FDA does not regulate CBD overall, which is the same for supplements and vitamins people take every day. 

Another common use of CBD is for anxiety and insomnia. 

Studies have suggested that CBD helps with falling and staying asleep. 

There has also been research on CBD effects on chronic pain. 

Studies have shown that CBD oil can help with pain. This is one way of applying CBD for pain. When using this kind of CBD a person can roll it over wherever they are having pain or tension.

According to Harvard Medical School, the European Journal of Pain used an animal model to show that when CBD is applied to skin it can help lower arthritis pain and inflammation. 

“Another study demonstrated the mechanism by which CBD inhibits inflammatory and neuropathic pain, two of the most difficult types of chronic pain to treat,” Harvard Medical School stated. 

For each of these conditions, there are options of how to take CBD. 

Someone who uses it has the option of ingesting, apply to skin, smoking, among others. 

An article on the Harvard Medical School website stated more human study needs to be done to know the true effects of CBD on pain and other conditions. 

Ben Rayburn, first-year Winona State student, said he uses CBD oil for his Tourettes and Asperger’s syndromes, anxiety and depression. 

He said he decided to use CBD oil because there is not any medication specifically for Tourettes and with his combination of health concerns it’s hard to find something that works. 

This is what a bottle of CBD oil looks like. It comes in a small jar with a dropper for usage. Prices on this product can vary based on its purity and grade.

Raybrun said he has tried every anti-psych, ADHD, and anxiety medication, each time getting strange side effects. 

He said he likes CBD oil because it’s easy to use and has helped with all of his conditions. 

“When I use it regularly like I am supposed to it really reduces my anxiety and my Tourettes goes down,” Raybrun said. “They are reduced by I would say a good 75 to 80% of what they normally would be.” 

Harvard Medical School and Jensen recommend talking to a doctor before using a CBD product. 

“If you decide to try CBD, talk with your doctor – if for no other reason than to make sure it won’t affect other medications you are taking,” Harvard Medical School stated.

Rayburn said he was told by Island City Vapors, a local shop that sells CBD products that if a medication reacts poorly to grapefruit CBD products are not recommended. He did not know why that was. 

Prices for CBD products range depending on the product, the seller and the quality. 

Rayburn said at Island City Vapors a bottle of CBD oil that lasts about a month is about $150.

Parking causes issues for Friendship Center

The Friendship Center in Downtown Winona needs more parking as it is the number one complaint from members.  

The issue comes mostly because the Friendship Center serves the senior citizens of the area, many of whom have a harder time walking long distances or making it across the street in the time allowed. 

Roxy Kohner has been a member of the center for almost 11 years. She said sometimes she will come to the center an hour before an event to wait out a close enough parking spot. 

“I have driven by and without a place to park I had to turn around and go back because there wasn’t anything within the walking distance that I can do,” Kohner said. “I have also staked out parking. So I have come an hour ahead of time and I will park and do something in my car till I can watch and see someone pull out.” 

Malia Fox, director of the Friendship Center, said this is the most frequent complaint the center gets. 

A report from 2018 state there is adequate parking for the City of Winona. 

The report titled “Parking Study: Downtown Winona” was created by Walker Consultants. They studied an area of 42 blocks between the Mississippi River, Winona Street, Broadway Street and Kanas Street. 

Walker Consultants found that in the study area there were about 4,030 spaces available of which about 3,205 spaces were for public use. 

Parking continues to be a problem for the Friendship Center despite the findings in the Walker report.  

Across Fifth Street from the Friendship Center is the Main Street Square Development. The construction workers and equipment take up many spots that are closest to the center, which has caused more lack of parking.

Winona Major, Mark Peterson, said parking has been an issue for the center since it started 40 years ago. 

“The complaints are very real which is why the city has been looking at a solution to solving the problem,” Peterson said. “The past couple of years the city has seriously been considering moving the center.”

There will be a meeting on Nov. 13 to discuss parking further. 

There was talk from the city about knocking down the old middle school auditorium and creating a parking lot there. 

According to Kohner, that would not fix the problem.

“That is a band-aid because many of us have limited mobility. So even if we do have parking you’re talking two blocks away,” Kohner said. “I won’t be able to go two blocks either. I can go a block if a stretch it, half a block is perfect.” 

One quasi-solution the center had was making a deal with Wesely United Methodist Church which is next door to them. The Friendship Center can use the church’s parking area as long as the church does not have an event going on. 

The parking the church said the center can use is not reserved for the Friendship Center. It is public parking. 

The center has a membership of 1,000 people with an average daily attendance of 125. They also have staff coming in and out of the building every day. 

According to Fox, the Main Street Square Development across the street has hindered their membership. 

“In the last 6-8 months that this development has been occurring, we are watching our numbers drop for the first time in 25 years,” Fox said. 

Winona gets funky at the Levee

Rhythm @the River was attneded by people of Winona and the surrounding area on Sunday, Sept. 15, at Levee park. 

The event included dance lessons, live music, craft beer, and food trucks. 

Organizers spent between $12,000 and $15,000 to organize the event. 

Lee Gundersheimer, arts and culture coordinator at WINONArts said many sponsors believe in WINONArts and helped pay for the event, in addition to fundraising. 

Rhythm @ the River is an expanded 2018 version of “Swinging in the Streets.” 

Organizers said the event was moved to Levee Park and made it bigger because last year 400 people participated on Third Street.  

Molly Breitlow (left) helps a couple with their salsa turns. Breitlow and her husband taught both of the lessons at Rhythm @ the River.

Rhythm @ the River was created as a part of a series of events that WINONArts puts on according to Gunersheimer.

“The event is part of the Dance Plein Air events in WINONArts, the City’s initiative to bring as many folks together with the arts and through as many different art forms as possible, dance being one of them,” Gunersheimer said. 

Winona State Students Emma and Scout were on their way to study at Blue Heron and decided to see what was going on. 

The two got snow cones at one of the food trucks and sat down in the grassy area of the park to enjoy the music. 

“I really like the Spanish music,” Emma said. “I think we definitely would come to this again.” 

Golpe Tierra was the first band to perform during the night. They are from Madison Wis., and are an Afro Cuban Jazz and Salsa Band.

Rhythm @ the River was also the kick-off to Project FINE’s Welcome Week.

Welcome Week helps create a more welcoming community for immigrants and people who have relocated to Winona, according to Gunersheimer. 

Jacob Bleess and the Need for Speed

By Zach Bailey

As he left class on a cool, Friday afternoon last fall, Jacob Bleess knew the big day was finally upon him. He dropped his backpack off at home, grabbed his gear and began getting in the zone for later that evening.

He walked past the grandstands, ready for what that night might bring him. After putting on his gear, he took a couple slow breaths, then slid his helmet on. He took one last look at the packed grandstands.

Then he ignited the engine to his racecar.

Bleess, a senior business administration major from Chatfield, Minnesota, is one of hundreds of Winona State students who would consider themselves “nontraditional student-athletes.”

A nontraditional student-athlete is a student who participates in a sport that is not university sponsored, or is not a varsity level sport, such as club sports like rugby and hockey, or, in Bleess’ case, stock car racing.

Bleess was initially introduced to the fast-paced world of racing at the age of 10, when his father first got him into go-kart racing. After two years behind the wheel of a go-kart, Bleess began feeling the urge for more power, the need for speed.

Bleess moved out of the go-kart industry and hopped behind the wheel of a full-sized “B-Modified” stock car, four years before he would be legally allowed to climb behind the wheel of a full-sized car on the road. He continued to race his B-Mod for the next four years, then moved his way up to the top stock car class in the “A-Modified” division, where he has remained since.

Stock car racing, otherwise known as dirt track racing, is similar to NASCAR racing in which a pack of cars race counterclockwise around a track. The main difference between the two is swapping out the traditional asphalt of NASCAR to a mixture of dirt and clay, as well as the various body styles and build of the cars.

Bleess can be seen weekly throughout the April-October season at local tracks such as Mississippi Thunder Speedway in Fountain City, Wisconsin, and Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, Minnesota.

A majority of his races are in the area, but it is not uncommon for Bleess to go farther south for the racing series, traveling to places such as Oklahoma, Nebraska and Kansas, among others.

Even though a majority of the racing season takes place over the summer, the first and last couple of months do take place during the school year, which can make things difficult for Bleess.

“We go down south during the summer, but while in school we stay close to home so I can do my homework and go to class,” Bleess said. “All that fun stuff.”

Along with a few months of actual racing, the off-season can also be a busy time for Bleess, as he uses this time to swap parts on his car and make sure everything is ready to go come spring.

Though his racing schedule is more open than that of a traditional student-athlete, Bleess said there are conflicting schedules at certain times of the year.

“There are conflicts with school and racing, but school does come first,” Bleess said. “If it’s a big event, though, I go racing first, then do school work as needed.”

As a nontraditional student-athlete, there are many perks that Bleess and other athletes do not receive because their sport is not university sponsored.

Justin Loehr, the associate athletic director of the Student-Athlete Success Center, said that the main disadvantage to being a nontraditional student-athlete would be the resources the students do not have available to them.

Along with various sports scholarships, there are also other resources that nontraditional student-athletes could be missing out on, such as the Student-Athlete Success Center.

“[The Student-Athlete Success Center] helps student athletes in many ways,” Loehr said. “They hold weekly academic meetings with first-semester athletes, and athletes under the required GPA, as well as make referrals to tutoring services, access services and help with both career and major exploration.”

Along with the missing resources available, both agreed that there are other struggles to being a nontraditional student-athlete, such as professors’ reactions to missing class.

“It depends on the individual professor and how student communicates with them but being a part of a university-sponsored event helps (when missing class for a sport).”

Bleess had similar things to say about different professors’ willingness to mark him excused for missing class.

“I try not to skip class; school comes first,” Bleess said. “Some professors don’t mind (skipping class for racing), but some do.”

In the end, however, it is not all challenges.

“I don’t have weekly meetings to go to like a football player would. I mostly get to pick my own times to race and work on the car,” Bleess said. “I can do schoolwork whenever I want, and put in the amount of hours I want to put in. I can pick and choose which races to go to, and when to take a break from school to work on the car.”

 

 

Zach Bailey is a senior marketing and mass communication-journalism major from Winona, Minnesota. He is the editor-in-chief of the Winonan, the Winona State student newspaper, as well as a member of Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity. In his free time, he enjoys racing motorcycles, playing guitar, reading and watching movies. He hopes to one day work for the New York Times and become a published author.

Tattoo Taboo: A Personal Narrative

By Erin Jones

 

You’re going to regret those tattoos someday.”

“Did your tattoos hurt?”

“You’ll never get a job with those tattoos.”

“What do your tattoos mean?”

Ahem, cue the eye roll, please.

And people say there’s no such thing as a stupid question.

OK, OK, so maybe they aren’t stupid questions, but they’re annoying to me nonetheless.

But it’s not just the intrusive questions and comments about my tattoos that are frustrating to me.

The line was crossed this past summer when I worked in the cosmetics department at Herberger’s.

I was helping a woman who asked to test a makeup color on my skin, which I thought was odd considering I wasn’t the one who was going to be wearing it.

Before waiting for my response, she grabbed my arm rudely and applied the color to my wrist.

She twisted my arm around awkwardly for a minute and finally decided against the color.

Just when I thought I was done being this woman’s Barbie doll, she pulled my arm back again.

“Your tattoos are beautiful,” she said, peering closely at the seahorse on my forearm. “I love them.”

“Thanks?” I said, trying to be as polite as possible while tugging my arm out of her grip.

Eventually she left, but even after she was gone I felt uncomfortable.

The incident reminded me of the other times that people had asked invasive questions and made unnecessary comments about my tattoos.

And it’s not just one or two of my tattoos that receive unwanted comments. It’s all 20 of them, and being asked feels more like an interrogation for a crime I didn’t commit.

“Those tattoos are going to look bad when you’re old.”

“How are you going to hide those on your wedding day?”

“Boys don’t like girls with tattoos.”

“Do you have any tattoos in hidden places?”

I started to wonder if there was anyone else who had the same cringy feelings I did when asked about their ink.

Turns out, I was right. After getting in contact with someone with similar experiences, we were able to talk out our frustrations together.

Rachel Carter, who is from La Crosse, Wisconsin, and is a Winona State University graduate, has her own collection of tattoos and talked about the uneasiness she feels when asked about her body art, particularly her Doctor Who tattoos.

“All of my tattoos have really deep, significant meaning to me,” Carter explained. “I’m a military sexual trauma survivor, so there’s a lot of trauma and personal history. Things that I’ve accomplished and overcome.”

Carter also said that some people continue to ask her questions about her tattoos, even when she’s expressed that she doesn’t want to share their meaning.

“I’ve had people who I don’t really know, or maybe I’m in a situation where I don’t really want to talk about it, say, ‘Cool, tell me about your tattoos,’” Carter said. “I’ll tell them they have really deep meaning to me, but they’ll just keep wanting me to tell them more when I don’t want to talk about it, but they feel like they have a right to know.”

In addition, Carter told me she’s also had an experience like mine, when she was touched by a person she didn’t know.

“I’ve been at the YMCA working out and I stopped to talk to a friend and somebody passed by and was like, ‘Oh, I really like your tattoos!’ and then stroked my arm because I have a full sleeve on my arm, very caressing, like you would think a spouse or a significant other would, and then just walked away,” Carter said.

We pondered for a few minutes, but neither of us could figure out why a perfect stranger would think it’s OK to touch another person without permission.

“I don’t know if it’s because they think, ‘Oh, people have tattooed your arms, so you must be fine with being touched’ or ‘Your tattoos are on display, so you must be fine with people asking,’” Carter said.

And yet, it’s not fine. People still grab your arm to get a closer look or ask questions and make comments that aren’t really necessary.

But for me, it’s not the strangers who do these things that bother me the most. It’s my family’s comments that get on my nerves more than anything else.

For my dad, Jeff Jones, his comments mostly concern professionalism and the ability to get a job after finishing college.

He added that in his career, he hasn’t met any professionals who are covered head-to-toe in tattoos.

“Most of the people I work with are old white guys and ladies,” my dad said. “In the corporate world, most of the people I refer to are managers, directors, vice presidents and junior vice presidents who make a lot of money and as far as I know, they don’t have any tattoos.”

Despite saying this, my dad did recognize that in certain careers, tattoos don’t seem to matter much.

“Look at professional athletes. A lot of them have tattoos,” my dad said. “They have a career for 10 or 15 years, so they don’t have to go out with their resume and find another job. It all depends on the profession.”

When I asked if he worried about me finding a job after college, surprisingly, he said he wasn’t too concerned.

“No, you’re smart, you’ll be fine,” my dad said. “As long as you don’t get any on your face or your neck or your chest or wherever.”

Lucky for him, I don’t have plans to get any of those places tattooed; however, I told him that the 20 I’ve gotten so far aren’t going anywhere.

He surprised me again by saying that he doesn’t mind the ones I have now. Well, most of them.

“[Your tattoos are] good,” my dad said. “I’m not sure about the gummy bear one. That one’s a little weird. And the Star Wars one, that one’s kind of weird too. But if you get a tattoo that means something to you, I’m not going to argue with that.”

Thanks, dad. After hearing the tattoo lecture 20 times, I’m kind of over it. And so is he. I’m glad we can finally sort of agree on the tattoo thing.

Now to get him on board with piercings. He is not much of a fan.

“Tattoos are tattoos, but what I don’t understand is people who put those big gauges in their ears. I definitely don’t want you doing something like that,” my dad said. “Hell no, I frickin’ can’t stand [gauges]. I’d rather have you get tattoos than put gauges in your ears or frickin’ things stickin’ out of your nose – That just looks stupid.”

 

 

 

Erin Jones is the former copy editor for Winona State University’s student-run newspaper, The Winonan. She expects to graduate in May 2019. Before being copy editor, she was one of The Winonan’s news reporters. Jones is majoring in mass communication-journalism and minoring in criminal justice. After graduation, she hopes to find a career in which she can use both her major and minor. She is also interested in being a feature writer or an editor for a magazine.

 

Animals Help Students

By Erin Jones 

Nothing quite resembles the bond between a person and their dog.

Or the bond between Winona State University junior, Violet De Stefano, and her emotional support hedgehog, Phillip.

De Stefano, public health major, and Lynda Brzezinski, who has been a counselor at Winona State since 2000, have experienced firsthand the positive effects that pets have on people.

De Stefano sees this positive impact on herself with the help of her quill-covered companion.

For Brzezinski, the impact is seen on the faces of Winona State students, faculty and staff who come to visit Winston and Aiden, the university’s on-staff therapy dogs.

“Winston is a very intuitive dog,” Brzezinski said. “There will be times when I have a student crying in my office where he will get out of his bed and just go sit calmly next to the student. Very amazing.”

Brzezinski added that despite Aiden’s being new to the university, he has done an exceptional job with the students.

“Aiden is a cutie who loves to snuggle. This was his first semester doing ‘Afternoons with Aiden,’ and I think students had a lot of fun with him,” Brzezinski said.

But dogs are not the only pets who love to cuddle.

De Stefano, who has borderline personality disorder, said Phillip loves to snuggle her, especially when she feels alone or anxious.

“One of the things with my case for borderline personality disorder is I struggle with abandonment. I have a really hard time when it comes to people leaving me in my life, whether it’s perceived leaving or them actually leaving me, so it’s really good to have Phillip around because he is an animal that is always there,” De Stefano said. “So if I’m feeling lonely or I’m worried, I can pick him up and it provides that calm space where I can watch him run around and he’s super cuddly and adorable.”

And though the positive effects of having pets is apparent in these cases, both De Stefano and Brzezinski said there was still a process to getting their pets allowed on Winona State grounds.

Brzezinski said that her process with Winston started when he was a puppy going through obedience classes at Family Dog Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

“[Family Dog Center] offered the therapy dog class and evaluation,” Brzezinski said. “Winston loves people and he is smart, so he passed the test with flying colors and was registered as a therapy dog at the age of 1 [the minimum age].”

Brzezinski added that once Winston passed his tests, she continued training in animal-assisted therapy and animal-assisted activities and cooperated with campus legal services so Winston would be permitted to work in counseling services.

“I had to do research, get letters of support and make a formal proposal to be allowed to have therapy dogs on campus,” Brzezinski said.

With Aiden, Brzezinski said, the training process was longer, as he failed his first certification test and needed time to “grow up.”

According to Brzezinski, working intelligence levels are different in all dogs, which helped explain Aiden’s need for extra training.

“Winston is an Australian cattle dog/rat terrier mix. Heelers have 95 percent working intelligence and can learn a command in five or fewer times,” Brzezinski said. “Aiden is a pug/boxer mix and they have something like 30 percent working intelligence. It can take a dog like Aiden 30-50 times to learn something, but most dogs can learn if given enough time and patience.”

Though both dogs are certified now, the process hasn’t ended. Brzezinski said training for therapy dogs never ends, as the training must continually be reinforced.

Brzezinski added that for Winston and Aiden to remain on-staff, she must follow strict rules.

“I have a lot of guidelines I need to follow – the dogs must be bathed and groomed, nails trimmed, I need to vacuum, there needs to be signage, I hold malpractice insurance that covers the dogs, they always need to be on a leash, etc.,” Brzezinski said.

De Stefano had to follow a similar process when getting Phillip approved to live on campus with her. Phillip did not have to go through training to become an emotional support animal.

De Stefano’s process started in April 2018, when she was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.

“[Borderline personality disorder] is complicated. It’s kind of like bipolar disorder, but much quicker. So I will go through periods of mania and depression and it can be within hours of each other,” De Stefano said. “It’s stressful because when you wake up, you’re not sure if you’re going to be manic or you’re going to be depressed or you’re going to have no motivation or all the motivation in the world.”

De Stefano said she had been having symptoms of the disorder since eighth grade but wasn’t certain until she consulted a professional.

“In April I was dating a guy and he and I had just broken up, and I panicked,” De Stefano said. “It was my first bout of extreme suicidal ideation, which was pretty scary. I ended up going to the hospital at Winona Health and I admitted myself into the Department of Behavioral Medicine because I was like, ‘OK, we gotta get something figured out here.’”

After receiving her diagnosis, a social worker at the hospital referred her to a local therapist, with whom she could talk about what she was going through.

This was where she first considered the possibility of getting an emotional support animal, specifically; a hedgehog.

De Stefano said that with her borderline personality disorder, one of her impulsive behaviors is to self-harm, especially when she fears someone is leaving her.

Because Phillip’s quills are sharp, De Stefano said, when holding him she feels she receives the same stimulus as self-harm but without actually hurting herself.

“I know it’s interesting. It’s not something that people normally think about and when I talked to my therapist and was like, ‘Hey, this is what I’m thinking,’ they were like, ‘Oh, that’s interesting, I wouldn’t have even thought of that,’” De Stefano said.

Since De Stefano adopted Phillip last June, he has helped her cope with her borderline personality disorder but getting him into the dorms wasn’t an easy feat.

De Stefano first had to obtain a statement letter from her therapist, listing her qualifications to have the animal and recommending it.

She then had to do an intake meeting with Access Services so they could determine whether she would be able to support the animal and if it would be a disruption to other students.

Eventually, De Stefano did get Phillip approved to live in the dorms, but that wasn’t the hardest part for her.

“[Having Phillip] wasn’t necessarily a problem, but it was. I had to acknowledge what I was struggling with and what I was going through because I had to have that conversation pretty constantly of ‘Oh, I have an emotional support hedgehog. The reason I have it is because I struggle with X, Y and Z,’” De Stefano said.

Despite these uncomfortable conversations, De Stefano said jumping through all the hoops to get Phillip has been worthwhile.

“He’s also taught me a lot of patience and compassion because hedgehogs are so time-consuming. I have to spend time with him every day to get him to warm up to me and to be comfortable and cute like the little Instagram hedgehogs that I follow,” De Stefano said. “You have to spend time with them and eventually, I’ve noticed that his quills will lay down when I pick him up. It’s taking a lot of time, but it’s incredible.”

So as it turns out, De Stefano helps Phillip as much as he helps her.

And, as it turns out in Brzezinski’s case too, Winston and Aiden do more than just comfort the students, faculty and staff of Winona State.

“We are the first university in the Minnesota State system to have therapy dogs on ‘staff,’ which I’m very proud about,” Brzezinski said. “There is often a lot of negative stigma around mental health and counseling, but I think the dogs help break down barriers and give [Counseling Services] a more positive image at times.”

 

 

 

Erin Jones is the former copy editor for Winona State University’s student-run newspaper, The Winonan. She expects to graduate in May 2019. Before being copy editor, she was one of The Winonan’s news reporters. Jones is majoring in mass communication-journalism and minoring in criminal justice. After graduation, she hopes to find a career in which she can use both her major and minor. She is also interested in being a feature writer or an editor for a magazine.

New painting installed in Baldwin Lounge

A new painting by a Winona State University faculty member was put on display in a campus building on Friday, April 22.  

ChunLok Mah, chair of the Winona State art department, showed off his painting entitled “Storm: Before and After” in Baldwin Lounge of Winona State’s Kryzsko Commons student union building.  

Mah said his piece walks the viewer through the emotions of a storm starting at the left and going to the right.  

In his artist statement, Mah wrote about what the piece means to him.  

“The emotions were a collision of past and present experiences that reminded me of all the harsh, bitter and difficult events that I fought for years that often resulted in bittersweet endings,” Mah said. “It was like having an epiphany of life condensed in one moment.” 

The painting is about 17 feet wide.  

Joe Reed, Winona State’s student union/activities director, bought the painting from Mah after President Scott Olson told him about the piece.  

The total cost of the painting and instillation was $4,800. 

Guests at the reception listen as Mah speaks about his piece. He described the brush work as “tough raw brush strokes” to give a feeling of anxiety.

“Storm: Before and After” was on display at an exhibit when Reed first saw it. Reed said the display of the painting did not do it justice.  

Reed wanted to find a good place in Kryzco Commons for the painting.  

“We are walking around Kryzco and all of a sudden it hit me…Baldwin,” Reed said. “Since the renovation to the bookstore and this edition it was always a dark room and now we got all these windows.”  

Mah said there were some difficulties during the installation process. 

“The chosen design proceeds to post many challenges like lack of proper lighting, wall dimension, weak drywall, and thermostat outlet position, during the installation,” Mah said. “We made some major tweaks so the artwork fits seamlessly to the setting.” 

At the reception, Mah said he hoped students would see the painting and talk about what it means to them.  

Mah said he used raw brush strokes to evoke anxiety from the viewer.  

At the conclusion of Mah’s speech he asked those in attendance to talk about the feeling the painting evoked 

Guests at the reception in Baldwin hall admire “Storm: Before and After. One of the guests pictured said for her the painting show optimism because if in the darkest part there is still light.

Hedi Ryan, Winona State art and design office assistant, talked about the feelings the painting evoked.  

Ryan said she saw the painting as a metaphor for how to approach life. She said because there is still light in the darkest photo, which for Ryan shows optimism through good and bad times.  

Baldwin Lounge, where the reception was held, is a quit study place for students.  

Reed said he took the purpose of the space into consideration when he was planning the reception.  

Reed said to him as with students he views Baldwin Lounge as a place for studying.  

“Because to me, as is the students, Baldwin is kinda like a sacred ground for study time,” Reed said. “It’s appropriate we have the reception there and Friday would be a good day because it’s the least used.” 

When Reed arrived at the reception, he walked up to students studying at the tables and explained what was going on and apologized for the inconvenience 

He also told studying students to help themselves to refreshments.  

Mah is honored to have a piece in the Kryzco collection.  

“Joe’s proposal and the location choice was a dream come true to me,” Mah said. “It turns out to be better than I thought.” 

For more information about ChunLok Mah or to see more of his art visit:

https://www.winona.edu/art/faculty.html

http://chunlokmah.com/

Sustainability Fair

Winona State University held its first Sustainability Fair where students could talk to students, community members and businesses about sustainability.

The fair was February 27 and was held in the East Hall of Kryzsko Commons from 4-7 p.m.

Leah Dechant, a Winona State student and student worker for the sustainability office was one of the main planners of the fair.

“I always notice that students don’t really know much about sustainability,” Dechant said. “Or that we live in such a great area called Winona with all these options, they’re all local, organic, sustainable businesses, or companies that provide environmentally friendly options.”

She said the fair was designed to create a place for community members as well as students, faculty, and staff to get together in one place with a common theme of sustainability.

The fair showcased sustainable practices and ideas in and around Winona State.

There was no fee to attend the event and the booths were set up without a registration fee. Free snacks were also set out for people to enjoy and there was live music.

Jeanne Franz, a sustainability advisor and professor at Winona State said that Dechant reached out to people and businesses, and said, “No fee. If you want to come, please come.”

A banner was on a table being signed by people who came to the fair. One signature meant one pledge to live more sustainable.

Christie Hill signing to pledge to live more sustainable.

Franz said 12 years ago, Winona State signed the president’s climate commitment that by the year 2050, Winona State will be carbon free or carbon neutral.

This means Winona State will not produce carbon more than is being consumed by the university.

Franz said Winona State has begun taking steps toward this goal.

Dechant said that there are other things that she would like to see on campus as well.

“I would love to see more sustainable technologies, buildings and projects on campus,” Dechant said.

Franz said, “A few years back the students voted themselves a green fee which has helped fund the sustainability office including a full-time person, Nathan Engstrom, whose job is completely devoted to sustainability.”

One exhibitor talked about what you can do with certain spices and home remedies for ailments.

He had made his own kombucha that he shared, as well as showed his dried herbs and spices that he had collected and foraged.

Exhibitor showing table of home remedies.

Dechant’s table was handing out reusable water bottles and seeds participants could plant.

Leah Dechant (left) with fellow students handing out reusable water bottles.

“It’s not a hobby or lifestyle anymore,” Dechant said. “We need to change our ways.”

Books and coloring in brewery

The Winona Public Library brought children books to Island City Brewery for the monthly Tales on Tap event.  

On Wednesday, April 3 the Public Library hosted Tales on Tap at Island City Brewery.  

Tales on Tap occurs on the first Wednesday of every month. The library started the event in January.  

Samantha TerBeest, Winona Public Library librarian begins Tales on Tap by mentioning upcoming events and introducing volunteer reader, Leslie Albers. Terbeest also told the room of brewery patrons to enjoy the coloring sheets and a meat and cheese tray.

According to Douglas Irwin, CEO of Island City Brewing Company the library hosts the event for no cost.  

Samantha TerBeest, librarian, said the event is a fun and relaxing time for those who attend.  

“The purpose is to provide adults with, one relaxation, and second, bring them back to childhood,” said TerBeest.  

Leslie Albers, volunteer reader, read three children’s book that went along with the theme of coloring.  

The books were The Day the Crayons Quit, The Day the Crayons Came Home, and Red: A Crayon’s Story. 

Along with the readings, the library provided coloring pages, coloring utensils and a plate of meat and cheese.  

There was also a chance to win an adult coloring book and coloring utensils.  

Albers has been reading since she was a child. In college, she and her roommates would read English detective books aloud to each other.  

This was Leslie Albers’s first time reading at a Tales on Tab event. The event however started in January 2019. The event occurs on the first Wednesday of every month. There is also a different theme each month.

Now she reads to her grand children 

“I have been gifted with the gift to gab,” said Albers.  

Because of that gift, Albers said she loves to be in front of a microphone. Especially, if she is reading something.  

She saw a poster in the library asking for volunteers to read.  

Albers said she did not even think before she volunteered to read at the event.  

There is not always an audience at Tales on Tab.  

On Wednesday there were three tables full of people. After the first book was read there were only a few people sitting at the bar. None of these people took the coloring sheets or participated in the drawing for a coloring book.  

TerBeest said some people find themselves at the brewery the same day the event is happening, and others mean to be there. 

“I was telling (Albers), people are not going to listen to you,” TerBeest said. “They are going to do their own thing. Like these guys over there and the guy behind us, they will listen sometimes.”  

Irwin said his staff has said the event is not very big.  

From what my staff is telling me, it seems like there wasn’t a big turn out for that event,” Irwin said.  

TerBeest said in February the library had a pajama contest at the Tales on Tab event that she believed to have a good turnout. The prize was a $10 Target gift card.  

As of now, the library is not planning on doing the Tales for Tab event over the summer months, according to TerBeest.  

TerBeest said those who play Book Bingo want to have Wednesday nights back for that event.  

TerBeest said the library may bring Tales on Tab back in the fall.