Can’t we all just get along?

Posted in conjunction with Beet Street

I admit I was a little intimidated by this month’s Science Cafe subject. There are a lot of big words in the synopsis and I had to take more than one breath just to say the title of Wednesday night’s program: Conservation Development Global Challenges Research Team. *whew*

Dr. Liba Pejchar

Fortunately, a conversation with Dr. Liba Pejchar, assistant professor at CSU, cleared the fog that threatened to ground all flights in and out of my right brain. I learned that the crux of her studies and teachings centers around conserving the environment, maintaining economical livelihood, and keeping all the neighbors happy.

Piece of cake, right?

If you have even a passing awareness of environmental news – nationally or globally – you’ll know this is a colossal challenge. One that Dr. Pejchar has been passionate about for the past five years. After receiving her PhD in environmental studies at the University of California Santa Cruz she completed a fellowship at Stanford University. She’s also participated in several field studies around the world, but it was in Hawaii where she began to work with ranchers as well as the native wildlife, seeking a win-win solution for all involved.

Biodiversity (one of those big words I tripped over) essentially refers to all life on earth: plants, animals, people. It can also concern a specific region, such as Northern Colorado. When there was an opening at CSU’s Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, it was a good fit for Pejchar’s research and she signed on two-and-a-half years ago.

The challenge of conservation development is to address the obvious environmental problems facing our region, while acknowledging the fiscal needs of private landowners.

It’s about “recognizing progress, while finding ways to harness it,” explained Dr. Pejchar. There’s also a social component. “Is this (development) good for creating communities and neighborhoods?”

In a perfect world, these seemingly opposing factors are equally respected and everyone is happy. It’s a challenge that transcends the politics of “green” — as in ecology and economy. Head on down to Avo’s this Wednesday at 5:30 where Dr. Pejchar will share her knowledge on this significant and timely topic, employing words of all sizes as well as photographs and maps.

What do you think – can we protect the planet and the pocketbook?

He’s a Magic Man

I can already tell you, I have no idea.

Reposted with permission of beet street, Fort Collins

When you describe someone as manipulative, it’s not usually a glowing compliment, however Dan Jaspersen’s ability to manipulate what you see and believe is not only a source of pride, it’s his livelihood. This month’s Art Cafe – Mentalist, Manipulator, Magician – is presented by the man, who also answers to Dan J.

Jaspersen taught himself to juggle – with one broken arm, no less – at an early age, then picked up a deck of cards in college, ultimately paying rent with his sleight of hand skills. After acquiring his degree in business communications, he was soon employed in Japan working in the field of international relations. But in his heart, he’s always been a performance artist, and less than two years ago his magic act became his regular gig.

“I design experiences for people,” he said, explaining his unique art form.

Unlike the glittery illusionists on television or children’s entertainers who pull rabbits out of hats, Dan has worked hard to create a new style from old school.

“What I love to do is go back into the really old books, tricks and ideas,” he said, adding that even science magazines from the 1950s provide inspiration.

Although Dan’s act is family friendly, he stresses that his primary audience is adult, setting him farther apart from the stereotype magician. His performance is classy, elegant and more thought-provoking, making him a popular draw for private parties, corporate events and education venues. His clientele includes everyone from Colorado State University, to the Rotary club, to Nonesuch Theater. The type of audience often determines what tricks he’ll pull out of his bag.

The Minnesota native now lives in Cheyenne with his family, but with wife Andi’s roots in Loveland, Dan is well-connected and sought out through the Wyoming and Northern Colorado region.

Dan Jaspersen’s program at Avo’s this Wednesday, Feb. 23, begins at 5:30 and he promises to combine some magic with a little behind-the-scenes look at the mentalist’s mindset.

Dan Jaspersen knows your card.

“I believe in magic, but I know better,” he said enigmatically. As a magician, he strives to reconcile the contradiction of magic and the laws of science. “It’s a tricky thing.”

He paraphrased his favorite magician, Banachek, saying, “I like to take five senses and make it appear there’s a sixth.” In fact, Dan admits to mixing psychology and sleight of hand, mining the secrets of mediums and charlatans from a bygone era.

Fortunately for us – his delighted marks – he uses his powers for good, not evil. Bring all of your available senses this week and enjoy Dan J., Magician@Play.