By Jorge G. Zavala | Creative Director
Richard Chiang | Resident Media Director
On December 27th, 2012 SHPE-Chicago held its annual networking and fundraising event at the Adler Planetarium. The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) Chicago chapter held "Creating Leaders in STEM Together", which included the Adler Sky Show that began promptly at 7pm, free-flowing Indio Beer and EC Charro Tequila all night long, and plenty of delicious hors d'oeuvres from 6pm to 11pm.
The event started with a gracious welcome by SHPE-Chicago board members, including Ruth Barriga, Events Coordinator, who emphasized the importance of philanthropy and community engagement. The evening's fundraiser, which benefits Latino high school and college students who are pursuing the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields of education, drew distinct business and educational leaders spanning the city's diverse communities.
Cultural performances by Chicago's Tierra Colombiana and the Mexican Dance Ensemble brought zest, energy, and plenty of positive vibes to the evening. The crowd lit up as performers danced to typical folkloric dances representative of both Colombia and Mexico.
Guests commented on the beauty and grace of dancers as they were adorned in folkloric dress from Colombia. The group performed 3 dances, each representing a different piece of Colombian heritage.
The Mexican Dance Ensemble wooed attendees with their exuberance and vibrant dance moves that showcased years of experience and dedication.
In addition to the cultural performances, a raffle boasting diverse prizes - including spa treatments and tickets to a comedy show - took place throughout the evening with guests having the opportunity to both engage and win the anticipated goodies.
Lizveth Méndez of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, Government & Community Relations, was one of the notable guests of the evening. She mingled with guests, SHPE-Chicago board members, and PdM's team.
SHPE-Chicago board members and friends enjoyed an evening filled with delicious cocktails, great company, and plenty of dancing.
As the evening progressed, the lights began to dim and the crowd came out for dancing. The music, which reflected a mix of Latin salsa, bachata, merengue tunes with top 40 hits from the 1970s, '80s, '90s, and contemporary 2000s.
Some impromptu dance lessons took place with Ruth Barriga leading a group of interested participants.
The evening's positive energy, harmonious vibes, and plenty of smiling faces made SHPE-Chicago's annual holiday fundraiser a success. Guests commented on their pleasant experiences as they departed the Adler Planetarium while noting the importance of giving back to one's community.
"Creating Leaders in STEM Together" brought together an intimate crowd of professionals from a diverse array of industries in Chicago. The core of the evening placed an emphasis on contributing to one's community, not just during the holidays. There was plenty of holiday cheer in the air, and PdM expects great things from SHPE-Chicago in the near future.
By Jorge G. Zavala | Creative Director
Richard Chiang | Resident Media Director
, Xavier LeBlanc | Film and Visuals
The Polish American Association
hosted it's 90th Anniversary Gala and Benefit Auction at The Drake Hotel in downtown Chicago on November 10th, 2012.
The evening commenced with a wonderful cocktail reception with note-worthy guests, including the evening's honorees Arie
and Bozena Zweig
, major supporters of charitable and cultural organizations in the United States, Mayor Rahm Emanuel
, Consul General of the Republic of Poland in Chicago Paulina Kapuscinska
, Global Fashionista and Designer Ogilvie
, and Justice of the Appellate Court of Illinois Aurelia Pucinski,
among other high-profile individuals.
While these videos are only a petite glimpse into the glamorous developments of the evening, they showcase the decadence guests were treated to by the PAA.
The Polish American Association's Executive Director, Gary Kenzer, and Special Events Associate Director, Barbara Sobecka, were wonderful hosts throughout the evening and their team's diligence is truly evident. PdM's team is looking forward to collaborating on future events and awaits 2013's gala, which is surely going to be another success.
By Sara SchwartzkopfSociety Contributor
Fashion’s Night Out has been an ongoing event for the past four years. It’s a chance for retailers and designers to host parties, show off their designs, and generally have a good time. Yet the fashion industry can have a tenuous relationship with Native Americans.
This year Paul Frank in West Hollywood decided to theme their event as a “Dream Catchin’ Pow Wow". Party-goers were encouraged to pose with fake tomahawks, head bands, neon feathers, and child-sized bow and arrows. Furthermore, the drinks were also Native-themed, including names like “Rain Dance Refresher,” “Neon Teepee,” and “Dream Catcher.” Even the Paul Frank monkey, Julius, was featured across the event wearing neon headdresses and neon face paint.
There is no doubt that the people at Paul Frank didn’t see a problem with this theme. Natives see this every year as Halloween rolls around, and even more in the past year as fake-Native designs have proliferated the clothing market. Yet the theme has been decried as upsetting and outright racist by several activists and websites. The issue centers around stereotypes, and specifically, dressing in what many have termed redface.
Similar to blackface, redface is used to relegate Natives to extremely stereotypical images
. These simplified images of savages and sexy maidens were frequently used to justify policies that aimed to either kill off or assimilate Natives into mainstream white society. Many of these policies resulted in social justice issues that still plague Native communities: poverty, violence, mental health problems, health issues, and a level of erasure that arguably affects no other group in the United States to the same extent.
The problem is that this erasure also affects the fashion industry. The Native American image becomes commodified and imagined to be that of the same images that were once used to justify genocide. Other aspects of culture that are still regarded as sacred are stripped of context and history. Instead they become something trendy. A prime example is placing a headdress (a sacred object reserved for respected leaders) on a monkey (an animal that has also been used in the past to paint minorities as subhuman).
The shocking thing about Paul Frank’s party is not that it occurred. A simple Google search for “Cowboys and Indians party” or “Native-themed party” shows that it’s a common (though unacceptable) occurrence. Instead, the shocking thing is that Paul Frank not only issued an apology and took down the pictures, but took it a leap forward and discontinued all use of Native imagery in their products, contacted two of the most prominent activists (Dr. Metcalfe of Beyond Buckskin and Adrienne K. of Native Appropriations), asked them to participate in a panel at an industry conference, and announced plans to work with a Native artist on designs where the product proceeds will be donated to a Native cause.
It’s a move that’s unprecedented for a major brand, but it is one that opens up possibilities and hope for the Native community regarding how events like this should be handled.
This was found in a magazine advertising to Asian Americans. Does this reinforce negative stereotypes of Asian American women?
By Sara Schwartzkopf
DENVER - Native America. Denver, Colorado is home to a unique type of Native American which the indigenous community acknowledges as the “City Indian.” A “City Indian” is a Native American who grew up away from their reservation, most commonly in a large city, away from other Natives, and often separated from their tribal processes.
Within the Native American community, identity is constantly up for debate. Centuries of enforcement of the United States assimilation policy, blood quantum laws and wars have taken their toll on indigenous populations – down to the point where what it means to be an “Indian” is even uncertain. In Denver, you can ask five different people who identify as Native American what makes them Native American, and you will receive five different answers. Someone will tell you it’s ancestry, another will tell you it’s connection to tradition, and yet another will tell you that it’s a matter of giving back to the community. Yet, allegations of assimilation and white-washing are still thrown at even full-blooded Native Americans who grew up outside of their reservations. Those who are mixed walk a line of whether or not they’re “too mixed” or whether their lives have strayed too far away from tradition and culture to truly count as “real Indians” anymore.
Reservations function as centers that try to maintain a sense of community and tradition. Families that have moved off the reservation in search of a better life often find themselves in a sort of culture shock. Many of the people they encounter do not understand the complexities of Native American identity. Instead it becomes the task of these new City Indians to try and educate their non-Native peers while at the same time trying to find a place for themselves in a culture that remains largely ignorant of the issues they face.
In order for you to identify yourself as a Native American legally, the United States government requires you to be enrolled with your tribe. However, each tribe is allowed to make their own laws regarding who can be a member. Some tribes simply ask that their members can prove descent – if any ancestor belonged to the tribe and you possess the birth certificates to prove that you are in fact their descendant then that is good enough. Most tribes request that you prove you are a certain amount of their tribe – you must be at least ¼ Kiowa, 1/32 Chickasaw, ½ Ute Mountain Ute, 1/8 Comanche. There’s a lot of variability amongst tribes in who is truly a member.
Even with these directives from the tribal governments, many members of the community will argue that they are meaningless. Being 100% genetically Native American doesn’t prove that you know anything about your traditions or history. Others will argue that prior to the government trying to legislate race, it would have been a simple matter of descent. If one of your parents is Native, then so are you.
Despite the discourse that has been discussed regarding Native American identity, there is still no clear definition amongst Native communities of what constitutes a “real” Native American.
Sake sampling at a local brewery in Chiba, Japan. Photo Credit: Akiko Honda
By Akiko Honda
East Asia Correspondent
Osaka, JP - Japanese traditional sake had a resurgence in 2011, with drinkers consuming 23% more than in 2010. After hitting a peak in the mid-1970s, consumption gradually fell to a third. Last year, though, saw a return of enthusiasm for sake as a way of supporting Tohoku, a region with three major sake-producing prefectures: Miyagi, Fukushima and Iwate. Tohoku is also the site of the major disasters that occurred in March 2011.
Now, sake has become fashionable once again as a way of helping out a disaster-ravaged part of the country and returning to Japanese culture.
As the saying goes, it is an ill wind that does not blow someone some good. Sales for sake from those hard-hit prefectures have gone up by 5 percent for Fukushima, 14 percent for Iwate and 28 percent for Miyagi, according to the National Washoku and Sake Foundation.
Specialty izakaya devoted to the rich variety of sake from the Tohoku region have sprung up in major cities like Tokyo, and it appears almost every drinking spot in the country offers more sake than ever before.
New brands are starting to call themselves fukkoshu, or restoration sake. Suddenly, Japanese seem to have rediscovered a beverage with roots in Japan's earliest recorded history.
It was not too long ago that Japanese-style bars and restaurants started stocking foreign alcohol, and it became acceptable to sip wine at that most traditional of Japanese undertakings: sakami, cherry-blossom viewing parties.
The interest in all things foreign is unlikely to reverse itself entirely, but the Sake and Shochu Makers Association, which tracks sales and consumption, reports that Japanese drinks are making a comeback. Sake lovers call it "drinking revival support".
The affordability of foreign alcohol after import tariffs were reduced in the 1980s was perhaps less a factor in sake's decline than other countries' drinks appearing exotic, sophisticated, and best suited for a trendy meal in a chic restaurant. Sake became tagged as a cheap drink for overworked "salarymen" drinking in low-priced bars. Young people shunned it and older people wanted something new.
Much has changed since then. Nowadays, sake is served at the finest French restaurants in Paris. Women, whose entry to sake breweries was long considered taboo, started to become master brewers and sake sommeliers.
Sophisticated and high-priced varieties were developed, and specialty shops and restaurants throughout the country became more knowledgeable about how to pair sake with French, Mexican, and Southeast Asian cuisine.
New types of sake were developed, even low-calorie sake for the diet-conscious. General knowledge of how sake is made has been better dispensed.
With this new and improved image, Japanese were starting to take notice even before the Tohoku disasters. However, with the additional chance to help out Tohoku, sake now has double value. The Tohoku disasters have drawn attention to the plight of sake makers and triggered interest again in all things Japanese, especially those connected to Tohoku.
The consumption of sake is helping a region of the country desperate for income and attention, and is helping to rehabilitate the image of sake in important ways.
To nondrinkers, that may sound like just another excuse for more tipple. However, according to the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association, 93 of the 114 breweries in the three quake-affected prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima were seriously affected by the earthquake and tsunami.
Most breweries suffered extensive damage to brewing equipment and facilities, others had products and storerooms washed away, while others lost skilled employees.
When faced with such devastation, the sake industry received great support from across the country. Yamasaki Hiro, a supervisor for a local brewery in Chiba, believes both young and old are taking a renewed interest in sake. "All kinds of people are returning to drinking sake from all parts of the country," Yamasaki mentioned to Le Prestige. "Sake festivals last year were crowded with drinkers eager to taste new varieties and raise a cup to their recovery. It's very Japanese."
Investment firms have started to offer shares in Tohoku breweries to help them back on their feet. The revival of sake in Japan is an example of how profoundly the Tohoku earthquake has changed Japanese hearts and minds.
Japanese people are becoming more interested in their culture and how unique Japanese products, like sake, appear to the international community.
In the rush to appear international, Japanese have forgotten their own traditions and some were left aside in favor of the new and different. Sake, though, like rice from which it is made, remains close to the heart of Japanese culture.
Satou Chihiro, a business woman in Osaka, approves of the sake trend. "Sake brewing and consumption is a traditional industry that many feel deserves protection, support and attention," Satou stated. "The rejuvenation of sake will hopefully be the first in a wave of similar renewals."