Film Receives International Honors

A film produced by Dr. Gregory Carlson, director of media activities and film studies, is a finalist in an international documentary competition.
In the 2014 International Documentary Challenge, “The Hammer and the Axe” was chosen along with 11 other finalists from a pool of hundreds of documentaries submitted from around the world.
The film is now competing in the online audience awards phase, which is open for voting until July 14. “The Hammer and the Axe” is currently seated in the top half of the finalists.
In May, finalists attended the premiere of their films at Hot Docs in Toronto, one of the foremost international film festivals.
“I don’t even know how to put (Hot Docs) into words,” Carlson says.
Carlson’s production team for “The Hammer and the Axe” included Justin Kavlie ’09 and Preston Johnson ’11. They were students of Carlson’s and he has worked with them on other projects.
“Being able to go from being Greg’s student to being someone who works on a project with him is really humbling,” Johnson says, who worked as the associate producer.
“The Hammer and the Axe” tells the stories of blacksmith Doug Swenson and his apprentice, Tim Jorgensen, who work together on weekends in Swenson’s forge located in Hawley, Minn.
“This was the first time anyone seemed to take an interest in what we’re doing in terms of blacksmithing,” Jorgensen says.
The five-minute film illustrates the craftsmanship of Swenson and Jorgensen, as well as their friendship.
During an interview, Jorgensen referred to Swenson as a father figure, Carlson says. Their relationship became the heart of the project.
“My dad died in 1991,” Jorgensen explains in the film, “so I didn’t have that interaction.”
Just a week ago, Swenson taught Jorgensen how to replace a windshield wiper on his car.
“There’s a lot of time for camaraderie,” he says.
The International Documentary Challenge allows contestants five days to complete their projects. In February, Carlson and his team trudged out to Hawley to capture “The Hammer and the Axe.”
Johnson says he was more than pleased to find out their film was picked as a finalist.
“Our goal was to make the best short documentary (we could) make,” he says, “and it was with that humility that we took the news.”

View the documentary.

Photo credit: Kensie Wallner

Cobbers Start New Senior Volunteer Opportunity

Several Concordia seniors spent study day bringing their education full circle by volunteering. Concordia is known for its “Hands for Change” program, which has first-year students volunteering in the community on their first day of Orientation.

Dozens of seniors took one of their last free days as undergraduates to give back to the community they have called home for the past four years.

“Since ‘Hands for Change’ I’ve volunteered at several places — Bethany Homes, Great Plains Food Bank and as a tutor at the Fargo-Moorhead Sudanese program,” says Jonah Pearson ’14, Park Rapids, Minn. “I’ll definitely continue volunteering. I plan to spend a year before medical school with AmeriCorps or some other volunteer organization.”

Pearson and his classmates spent the morning restocking supplies in the American Red Cross disaster relief vans. Another team of seniors volunteered at Churches United for the Homeless.


Presiding ELCA Bishop Visits Concordia

The Rev. Elizabeth Eaton issued a challenge to students and local clergy when she delivered the homily during Concordia’s chapel April 24.

“We have to change things up wherever we go,” she said.

The presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America visited Concordia as part of a tour that brought her to the neighboring Northwestern Minnesota and Eastern North Dakota synods.

It’s her first visit to the area since she was installed as head of the ELCA in February.

During chapel, she preached on John 20:19-31. In the gospel lesson, the disciples see the risen Jesus for the first time and Thomas receives his famous nickname.

“Poor Thomas. It’s unfair he gets the moniker for doubting,” Eaton said. “Doubt just lets us get deeper.”

The ELCA can be a place where there is room and a place to question, she said.

What matters is that Christ is crucified and was raised from the dead. This is what frees people to live their lives without fear, she said.

Later in the evening, at a dinner for representatives from the college and synods, she laid out her hope for the ELCA.

“I want Lutherans to live as if the resurrection actually happened. I want them to be an unstoppable force because the death that matters already happened.

“This is life-changing, this whole business of resurrection,” she said.

Concordia Data Analytics Team Wins Competition

Concordia’s data analytics team took first place at the 2014 Midwest Undergraduate Data Analytics Competition at Winona (Minn.) State University.
Team members are Bryce Frentz ’14, Sioux Falls, S.D.; Megan Menth ’14, Hutchinson, Minn.; Erin Twohy ’14, St. Cloud, Minn.; and Tom Dukatz ’16, Eagan, Minn.
The team, coached by Dr. John Reber, assistant professor of mathematics, competed against a total of 23 teams from 14 schools including Carleton, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, Iowa State and University Wisconsin-Madison.
The team received sales and economic data from a construction and manufacturing supply company, Fastenal. Team members had 24 hours to analyze the data and make business recommendations to a group of Fastenal representatives.
Each team presented a solution in a two-page written report and an eight-minute oral presentation. This year’s problem involved forecasting time series data.
This is the third year of the competition

Authors on Concordia Campus for National Book Award Event

Concordia College hosted the ninth annual National Book Awards at Concordia on March 27. Featured authors were National Book Award finalists Rachel Kushner and Wendy Lower.

Kushner, the 2013 National Book Award finalist for fiction, and Lower, 2013 National Book Award finalist for nonfiction, will participate in the featured Readings and Conversation hosted by NPR’s Lynn Neary. The event will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Centrum with a book signing to follow.

Kushner was a finalist for her book “The Flamethrowers,” an exploration of the life of a young female artist and the darker connections between art, artifice and politics. Kushner’s debut novel, “Telex from Cuba,” was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, winner of the California Book Award, and a New York Times best-seller and Notable Book.  She is a 2013 Guggenheim fellow.

Lower was a finalist for her nonfiction book “Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields,” which provides a chilling account of female brutality by German women during World War II and a look at the nature of evil. Lower is the John K. Roth Professor of History at Claremont McKenna College and a research associate at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich.

The event was hosted by Lynn Neary, a National Public Radio arts correspondent and a frequent guest host on “Morning Edition,” “Weekend Edition” and “Talk of the Nation.”

Earlier in the day, Kushner and Lower spoke at a luncheon in honor of first-year Concordia students who demonstrated academic excellence in writing papers for their Inquiry Seminars.

“Excellence is taking what has been done and going beyond that. It means getting to the bottom of things and understanding them. In academia, excellence is a sacred word that has power. It is more than making a good effort. We know excellence when we see it because it is so rare,” Lower said.

Concordia Theatre Announces 2014-15 Season

Concordia Theatre announced its 2014-15 season March 10 at a reveal party. Next season will boast three series productions, two musicals and a symposium staged reading.

A staged reading of “Heroes and Saints” by Cherrie Moraga will be performed Sept. 15 as part of the 2014 Faith, Reason and World Affairs Symposium, “Sustainability: Local Action | Global Impact.”

The full season begins with a “Night of Naturalism” (Oct. 2-5), an evening of two one-act plays – “On the High Road” by Anton Chekhov and “Miss Julie” by August Strindberg; mainstage productions include “The Metal Children” by Adam Rapp (Feb.  12-15) and “Blithe Spirit” by Noel Coward (April 16-19).

There will be two musicals performed this year, a first for Concordia, with one mainstage musical in the fall and one staged concert in the spring. “Les Misérables” by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer, will be performed Nov. 13-22. A one-night staged concert of “Songs for a New World” by Jason Robert Brow will be performed April 27.

Watch the video announcement on YouTube. 
Connect with Concordia Theatre on Facebook.  

The Concordia Choir Tour 2014

The Concordia Choir will end their 2014 National Tour of the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii with a home concert on Sunday, March 9 at 4:00 p.m. in Trinity Lutheran Church. Free admission.

René Clausen conducts the 79-voice a cappella choir in several spirituals and hymns plus some new dramatic new arrangements with Excelsior! instrumental trio.

Follow the The Concordia Choir 2014 via Storify

BREWing Good: Concordia Spring Break 2014

Exploring interpersonal communication in London, partnering with Habitat for Humanity to build homes in Texas, studying economic sustainability in Florida and learning about justice in Mexico are just a few of the ways hundreds of Cobbers are broadening their global perspective and becoming responsibly engaged in the world (BREW) during spring break.

Follow their experiences around the world via Storify. 

Concordia Student Body President Receives Human Relations Award

Levi Bachmeier ’14, West Fargo, N.D., received the City of Fargo Human Relations Youth Award at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration at the Fargo Theatre.

“I am unbelievably humbled,” he says. “As a lifelong member of the F-M region, getting involved in the wider community is just one way of giving back to the wonderful people and special place that has given me so much.”
Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker presented the award to Bachmeier on Jan. 20 for making outstanding contributions to the City of Fargo in the area of human relations.
A social studies education major, Bachmeier has worked with youth in many capacities including serving as an adviser to the successful Fill The Dome project, a youth-led food drive in the Fargo-Moorhead area. He recently finished his student teaching at Oak Grove Lutheran School in Fargo. At Concordia, he is president of the Student Government Association and a captain of the men’s track and field team.
“You don’t need to cross an ocean to make a difference; it’s easy to forget we all have the ability to influence the affairs of the world in our backyard,” Bachmeier says. “While it may be cold here from time to time, there’s no place I’d rather call home.”

Remembering JFK

As the country remembers the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s death, we share the stories of two Concordia alumni connected to this historic event.

Clint Hill ’54 is a former Secret Service agent who was in the motorcade in Dallas on that day.

John Tunheim ’75 chaired the Assassination Records Review Board in the 1990s.

Read and view their stories

Concordia alumni John Tunheim and Clint Hill