Project Humanities opens with talk by Sherman Alexie

February 7, 2011

7-8:30 p.m., Feb. 7, Tempe Center for the Arts

Sherman Alexie, a Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Indian known for his independent film “Smoke Signals,” his novels, including “Reservation Blues,” his poetry and his exceptional humor and performance ability, will help Arizona State University kick off a year-long celebration of the humanities with a lecture Feb. 7 at the Tempe Center for the Arts. Download Full Image

Alexie will deliver a lecture titled “People, Places and Stories” at 7 p.m. The lecture is free and open to the public. No tickets are required and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Parking is free at the Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway. Doors open at 6 p.m. with seating beginning at 6:30 p.m.

The New Yorker named the 44-year-old Alexie “one of the top writers for the 21st century.” The Men’s Journal characterized him as the “world’s first fast-talking and wisecracking mediagenic,” and the New York Times Book Review described Alexie as “one of the major lyric voices of our time.”

Alexie’s first novel, “Reservation Blues,” won Booklist’s Editors Choice Award for Fiction. His second novel, “Indian Killer,” published in 1996, was named one of People’s Best of Pages and a New York Times Notable Book.

His book “The Toughest Indian in the World” won the 2001 PEN/Malamud Award, which honors excellence in the art of storytelling. His other books include “Flight,” a sci-fi novel and a parable of war featuring an edgy teen outcast, and “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” which is Alexie’s first young adult novel. It received a 2007 National Book Award in Young People’s Literature.

Alexie grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Wash. He was born with water on the brain (hydrocephalus) and underwent an operation at the age of 6 months and, according to his official biography, was not expected to survive. He suffered severe side-effects throughout childhood, yet learned to read by age three and read “The Grapes of Wrath” by age five.

Off the rez

As a teenager, Alexie decided to attend high school off the reservation in Reardan, Wash., with a goal of getting a better education. At Reardan High, he was the only Indian, except for the school mascot. According to his biography, he excelled academically and became a star basketball player.

After attending Gonzaga University on a scholarship for two years, Alexie transferred to Washington State University, where in enrolled in pre-med courses with a goal of becoming a doctor. According to his biography, he fainted numerous times in human anatomy class and soon realized he needed a new career path.

Direction in poetry

It was a poetry workshop and the encouragement of a poetry teacher that propelled Alexie into a writing career. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from WSU, Alexie received the Washington State Arts Commission Poetry Fellowship in 1991, and the National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship in 1992.

Shortly after, two of his poetry collections, “The Business of Fancydancing” and “I Would Steel Horses,” were published. In 2009, his first full collection of poems in nine years, “Face,” was released.

A prolific writer, Alexie has published collections of short stories, including “War Dances,” which was released in 2009, and “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven” on which he wrote and produced the film “Smoke Signals.” The movie won the Audience Award and Filmmakers Trophy at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival.

More information about the Feb. 7 lecture by Alexie is available at or 480-965-0051.

Project Humanities

Other Project Humanities events scheduled during launch week, Feb. 7-11, include panel discussions, a film screening of “Color Adjustment,” and talks by Rosemary Feal, executive director of the Modern Language Association of America and Jim Leach, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

ASU’s Project Humanities, a universitywide initiative involving all four campuses, in its inaugural year will focus on “Humanities at the Crossroads: Perspective on Place.” More information on these and other Project Humanities events are online at

Program kicks off 2nd semester of healthy food choices

February 7, 2011

The return of a first-time Arizona State University West campus program offered last semester to the Valley community is once again designed to leave a good taste – and a healthy taste – in its members’ collective mouth.

CSA – Community Supported Agriculture – returns to the University Center Building (UCB) at the West campus, beginning Feb. 16 and running weekly, on Wednesdays, through May 11. The program provides a direct connection between a local farmer, Crooked Sky Farms, and the community, while featuring a variety of fresh, “Certified Naturally Grown” produce. Download Full Image

Last September, the CSA program was introduced by ASU’s New">">New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences in partnership with the West campus Sustainability Team as part of a 2010-2011 academic year focus on food. Included in the focus is a freshman reading project, the ThinK (Thursdays in Kiva) Film and Speaker Series, and the creation of a new and innovative general education curriculum that ties together different disciplines through the subject of food.

“This CSA program is open to all, not only our ASU community of students, faculty and staff, but to the community at large,” says Elizabeth Langland, ASU vice president and dean of New College. “We hope that our campus neighbors will join us in this opportunity to become part of a new movement of sustainable food options.”

Directed by the West campus Sustainability Team, CSA memberships are available for $240 for the spring semester 12-week program. Multi-partner memberships are priced, like individual memberships, at $240 for the semester. Payments are due Feb. 11 and can be split into two payments of $120 each, with the second payment due March 25. Mid-semester pro-rated payments are also available and will be determined at the time of subscription. Payments can be made to Gloria Chavez in UCB 260. Checks should be made payable to Crooked Sky Farms.

Each week, subscribers receive a bundle of eight different seasonally harvested fruits and vegetables that would provide most of the salad and vegetable needs for a couple or small family for one week. As “Certified Naturally Grown,” Crooked Sky Farms produce is free of synthetic chemical insecticides, herbicides, fungicides or fertilizers. Additionally, crop rotations, cover and protective buffer crops, and ecologically sustainable farming practices ensure soil, water and air-quality protections.

“This program provides a direct connection with a local farmer and reinforces the importance and benefits of a fresh, sustainable and healthy lifestyle,” says Langland. “Also, it instills a higher level of consciousness about the food we eat. As a society, we have become disconnected from the source of our foods, and are thus unaware of how it impacts our environment, our economy, our health. The CSA gives us the opportunity to re-establish that connection.”

Crooked Sky Farms in Phoenix is owned by farmer Frank Martin, who got his start farming in his backyard and sold his food at the Prescott (Ariz.) Farmers Market in 2002. Crooked Sky now grows and supplies produce for a number of farmers markets and CSA programs across Arizona.

The CSA program is a part of ASU’s university-wide sustainability vision, and is being offered at the Downtown Phoenix and Tempe campuses in addition to the West campus.

About Campus Sustainability and University Sustainability Practices ASU recognizes that promoting sustainability begins internally with its own business practices, university policy and culture. ASU’s sustainability initiatives, coordinated by the Global Institute of Sustainability, are advanced by the efforts of people and departments from across the university; leading sustainable practices are addressed and implemented in the areas of energy, water, buildings and grounds, carbon neutrality, food services, transportation, waste and recycling, and purchasing and policies.  For more information, visit

For">"> additional information on the West campus CSA program, contact Chavez at 602-543-7720 or via email at gloria.chavez">">

Steve Des Georges