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The Scarlet & Black

Spring Bling shines in Harris despite weather

Spring rains put a momentary damper on Spring Bling, a festival hosted by the Pioneer Diversity Council (PDC), but the new student group quickly regained their shine by relocating to Harris.

Members of the Too Many String Band perform during the Spring Bling event in the Harris Center on last Friday. Photograph taken by Que Newbill.

Beginning at 5 p.m. last Friday, April 22, Spring Bling featured an exhibit by Free the Planet (FPT) highlighting Earth Day, face painting done by members of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and free popcorn, sno-cones, and cotton candy made by members of PDC. Later in the evening, PDC hosted a talent show in which both students and faculty showcased their diverse gifts.

Since the celebration fell on Earth Day, FTP wanted to get involved in the event and helped to co-program. Savannah Duby ’13, leader of FTP, hosted a table with information about organic farming and ranching and related issues, water usage, local foods co-op, and native plants and samples of local foods from around Grinnell.

The talent show featured bands of all different genres, singers, rappers, improve groups, stand up comedians, and classical performances among many others. Gabe Kringlen ‘13 played the violin and was a favorite among attendees. Another popular performance was the classical performance by a band of faculty members.

“I was floored with the talent and diversity you see on campus. To me, that was the most exciting part of the show. It wasn’t just rappers or individual singers, it was everything in between,” said Nnenna Akotaobi, Coordinator for Diversity & Achievement in Athletics. “It was very well received.”

Photography taken by Que Newbill.

PDC tried really hard to represent a broad swath of the talent on campus, so they sent out an all-campus email calling for performers and carefully chose a wide range of acts.

“[The students in PDC] were very concerned with making the concert eclectic, so not just hip hop, not just rap, not just alternative music, but a combination of everything [including] comedians, improv, and everything in between,” Akotaobi said.

PDC deliberately held Spring Bling on an Admitted Students weekend so that prospective students and athletes would be able to experience the Grinnell community as well.

“The coaches tend to bring most of their prospective student athletes in during those [Admitted Student] weekends, so it was just a way that the campus community could come together and those who are visiting the campus can come together and enjoy themselves,” Akotaobi said.

The PDC originally organized the festival as an outdoor event on Mac Field, with activities such as inflatables, sumo suits, petting zoo, and an outdoor concert reminiscent of last year’s Selah festival. These had to be scrapped when Spring Bling moved indoors.

“It turned out a lot different than we expected, but it turned out well,” said Ki Harris ’14, a member of PDC.
Nonetheless, Spring Bling saw a good turnout of current and prospective students, faculty, staff, and community members.

“I got a lot of positive feedback from the community and it was nice to see admitted students there with their families enjoying the event, so I’m satisfied with the turn out, and I think it’s something we can continue to build upon every year,” Akotaobi said.

Student members of PDC felt similarly but lamented the changes made due to the bad weather.

“In retrospect, I think it went really well given the circumstances, with the weather and having to move inside,” said Jordan Young ’14, a member of PDC. “I think we would have gotten more people if we had had it outdoors, being on Mac Field, but given the circumstances it was a very good turn out.”

Spring Bling helped to kick off the inaugural year of The Pioneer Diversity Council, which formed this semester to encourage a dialogue about diversity in the athletic community.

“One of their goals is to build partnerships across campus and find ways that the campus community can come together,” Akotaobi said.

PDC also recently hosted “Dougie to Darby” in January, the first event for the group. They wanted to recreate their success once again before the end of the semester.

“Since we’re a new group, we wanted to get everyone excited about PDC, so we thought since spring is coming up…we should have a spring festival,” Harris said. “So everyone pitched their ideas in and we came up with Spring Bling.”
PDC’s first meeting since Spring Bling will be on Sunday, and they plan to debrief the event and discuss whether or not they would like to do something similar next year.

“I love the idea behind it and would love to see it continue,” said Young.

The improvements the students in PDC would like to make involve fixing logistical problems if Spring Bling will be an annual event.

“Shifting it later in the year for weather but also starting earlier with the promotion and getting people about it,” suggested Young.

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