Semester 37: The Human Ecology of Leadville and 90’s Dance Parties

This week several of our classes have been focused around a human ecology project. The goal of the project is to learn about the history, identity, and environment of Leadville. On Sunday we had the opportunity to go into town and interview locals about how Leadville’s identity has changed since the town’s mining days. We recorded stories and opinions of small business owners, former miners and teachers, as well as newer citizens of Leadville. In P&P we read pieces on the huge economic change in Leadville after the mines closed, as well as the impact ultra races have had on the community. For our Monday’s science lab, we took a trip to the Leadville mining district and learned about mining’s impact on the soil and water of Leadville; Leadville is a superfund site because of the incredible damage of acid mine drainage. A former miner named Joe was kind enough to talk to us about what it was and is like to be a hard rock miner. His jaw-dropping, intense stories enthralled all of us and we will remember his words and wisdom for many years to come.

This weekend was a busy one at the High Mountain Institute! Saturday, in history class, students were involved in a hotly contested discussion debating the radicalism of the American Revolution. Students were divided into two sides, one affirming that the American Revolution was indeed radical, and one arguing that the American Revolution was a “conservative affair.” Students were assigned different roles in the debate ranging from Team Leader to Opening Statement Leader. Students mainly drew evidence from the works of Gordon S. Wood and Barbara Clark-Smith. On Sunday, students visited the National Mining Museum in Leadville as part of the Human Ecology Project. In small groups, students went on a scavenger hunt through exhibits about the Colorado Gold Rush, Hard Rock Mining, and everyday uses of minerals mined in the United States. Students also had the opportunity to go the Mining Hall of Fame, where famous pioneers of the mining industry are recognized. All in all, it was a busy but fun weekend here at HMI!

This week a bocce ball tournament led by Aria and Patrick has been sweeping the campus. Pairs of students signed up with a creative team name and were put into a bracket. Throughout the day, during any moment of free time, competitors are busy outside competing. A single game of first to eight determined their advancement to the next round. It’ll be interesting to see who comes out on top. Our students can’t get enough of a good competition as a short-lived round of assassin underwent on Saturday. Also, our cabin representatives organized a student-wide activity where the students were split into kingdoms who are preparing for an upcoming “battle.” This past Monday kings, queens, knights, bishops, and medics were busy making shields, swords, and armor out of cardboard, yarn, and duct tape. Next week the battle will ensue and we will be putting our work to the test.

This weekend was wild at the High Mountain Institute! After dinner on Saturday, HMI students prepared for a throwback dance. Dressed in neon, flannel, and denim on denim, students braved the chilly night and danced to a 90s playlist on the back porch of Who’s Hall. The Who’s Hall porch was decorated for the occasion with string lights and tons of glow sticks. Inside, students played board games, and enjoyed a silly photo booth. Apprentices and teachers joined in the festivities, reminiscing their grungy 90s days.

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