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caliber


STAFF PRESIDENT S O P H I A ST E WA RT

CHIEF PRINT EDITORS M O L L Y K E A R N A N M I C H E L L E PA R K

HEAD OF PHOTOGRAPHY K I N C S O D O M I C Z I

HEAD OF DESIGN K A I T L A N T S E N G

HEAD OF MARKETING J E Z E L L L E E

A NOTE:

DESIGNERS + ILLUSTRATORS E U N I C E C H U N G

As we enter our eleventh year of publication, we are proud to reflect on our evolution as UC Berkeley’s premier arts and lifestyle magazine. Now more than ever, Caliber provides a unique space for campus creatives to refine their skills, experiment with new styles, and connect with fellow students.

L A U R E N L E U N G

Issue 17 is a collaboration between artists of all kinds—writers, photographers, illustrators, and designers. Our print issues are at the heart of our editorial mission: to claim space for creativity and artistry on campus. Whether you’ve found Issue 17 on a table in MLK, on a rack at FSM, or in the study lounge at your dorm, we hope Caliber’s physical presence on your campus is a warm reminder of the thriving creative community here at Cal.

A R I A B U RD O N D A S B A C H

With care, The Caliber Team

E T H E L I N E N G U Y E N R E B E C C A WO N G

PHOTOGRAPHERS W I L L B R I N K E R H O F F H E N R Y D E M A R C O S E A N F A R K A S C A R I S S A L E W I S A N N I E M A G U I R E E R I K N U D I N G PAT R I C I A R I V E R O

PRINT WRITERS J E N N I F E R C O E L L A C O L B E RT C A I T L Y N J O RD A N V I C T O R I A M A R I O L L E E V E L Y N T A Y L O R


CONTENTS

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06

08

M O R N I N G R O U T I N E S [ C A I T L Y N J O RD A N ]

B O D Y C O U N T S [ E L L A C O L B E RT ]

P H O T O S P R E A D : T O T H E R I D G E [ A N N I E M A G U I R E ]

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18

24

A P P R O A C H I N G T H E C U S P [ J E N N I F E R C O ]

N AT A L I A A N C I S O W E A RS H E R A RT O N H E R S L E E V E [ S O P H I A S T E WA RT ]

L A N G U A G E B A R R I E RS [ M I C H E L L E PA R K ]

26

34

38

P H O T O S P R E A D : P E O P L E I N T H E I R E N V I R O N M E N T

F A L L I N G F O R WA RD [ V I C T O R I A M A R I O L L E ]

P H O T O S P R E A D : T H I S I S D R O U G H T [ PAT R I C I A R I V E R O ]

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44

48

A L L U R E O F T H E A B A N D O N E D [ E V E L Y N T A Y L O R ]

WO RD E M B E D D I N G [ O L I V I A L E W K E ]

P H O T O S P R E A D : N AT U R E A S A RT

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M O R N I N G

W O R D S B Y C A I T LY N J O R D A N VISUALS BY CARISSA LEWIS YouTube phenomenon, “morning routine” videos invite viewers into strangers’ morning rituals. Creators detail each intimate moment of their morning, from washing their faces to blending breakfast smoothies. Many of these videos have millions of views; there is something inexplicably fascinating, it seems, in being immersed in another person’s mundane routine. Yet, what if these strangers were not just unknown faces, but peers, classmates, or even friends? Hoping to learn more about the people I pass every day on campus, I reached out to three UC Berkeley students to hear about how they begin their schooldays.

A

R O U T I N E S

7:20

AM

7:45

AM

8:05

AM

8:45

AM

9:00

AM

STELLA, 29

7:00

2

AM

Stella wakes up in her family home in Oakland. After moving back from New York to continue her schooling at Berkeley, Stella and her cat currently have domain over the basement. Stella tells me that she programs her morning to a playlist so that she knows how much time she has without looking at clocks. “I wake up to Janet Jackson,” she says, “and then I know by the time a different song hits I have to be in the shower.”

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By this time, her cat has grown impatient and hungry, no longer content with only snuggles. Stella rises out of bed, feeds her cat—a big, fluffy, ginger—and washes her face. In the shower, she drinks the coffee she makes every morning. Balanced precariously in the shower divot that is meant for soap, the coffee mug manages to escape the pelts of the water. In a busy morning, this is her moment of relaxation. Out of the shower, Stella gets dressed and applies mascara, typically her only makeup product. She begins to make her lunch and breakfast. Minutes pass without notice, and soon, she realizes that time is running short. Heading out of her home, Stella jumps into her car to head to campus and grab a parking spot. She is one of the many students who forks over $137 per semester to the university for a campus parking spot, a luxury she says helps her avoid the wildly expensive street parking in Berkeley. The drive to campus varies depending on traffic: on clear days, the drive is as short as 20 minutes, but a particularly busy day can extend the commute to nearly an hour. On most days, with a bit of luck, Stella arrives at her 9:30 am class on time. By the time she sits down at her desk, she has already been awake for two-and-a-half hours.


Stella’s morning commute is reflective of many of the reentry students on UC Berkeley’s campus. She originally entered Berkeley after high school, studying until her junior year when she decided to shift her life plan and move to New York. After ten years there, she found herself working as a middle manager, growing increasingly dissatisfied. “I have always, always wanted to be a lawyer,” she tells me, as we sit on one of the benches in front of Dwinelle, “so I was like, I guess now is the time.” Now a senior in her last semester, she feels both familiar with campus and ready to leave. “People are living life cycles and experiences, and I’m just—you know, I’ve done it already,” she tells me. “So now

I can just sit back and really process how other people feel about everything, which is probably the most valuable thing I’ll get from my time here, hearing what my peers think…who they are.” Living in Oakland then, I suggest, may be a kind of safe haven, creating distance from the bustling Berkeley campus. She agrees, although when I ask her about living with her parents, she lets out a wry laugh. “The last time I lived there, I was nineteen,” she tells me. “We’re all trying to reshape our relationship.”

JOSELINE, 18

7:00

AM

7:35

AM

8:10

AM

8:50

AM

Joseline’s alarm wakes her in Stern Hall, UC Berkeley’s only all-female residence hall. Like many of Stern’s residents, she did not choose to live in all-female housing, but she now appreciates its quietness—although she is less fond of the recent influx of rats.

Tiptoeing past her roommate, who is still asleep, she makes her way to the bathroom to shower. By eight, she is out of the shower and getting changed.

Now ready for the day, she heads next door to eat breakfast at the dining hall. Sometimes, she eats with friends, but if no one is around, she eats by herself, a sharp change from her close-knit family in Southern California. “It was really hard for me to go away from home, especially in a Mexican family,” she tells me. “I’m the first one to leave, and it’s like we’ve always been together.”

After breakfast, she walks to campus for her first class of the day. Although Joseline is a freshman, she is familiar with Berkeley; she began her education at Cal over summer through UC Berkeley’s Summer Bridge program, which allows students to begin taking courses the summer before their freshman year.

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BEN, 37

One of many Summer Bridge students on campus, Joseline credits the program with integrating her into UC Berkeley and providing resources. “I met all of my friends through Summer Bridge,” she tells me. Summer Bridge has provided not just friends, but also resources. A success story in the jumbled maze of Berkeley’s financial aid, she was able to secure a last-minute scholarship after her aid stalled unexpectedly by reaching out to contacts she made over summer. “I was really shocked, says Joseline, “[the university] can pin point you down.” Despite the relative ease with which Joseline has made Berkeley home, being the first one to leave home affects her daily

routine. Joseline usually speaks to her family multiple times a day, calling between classes and when she walks back home to Stern. “Keeping up with them, talking to them, kind of reminds me, oh they’re still there for me,” she tells me.

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6:30

AM

6:35

AM

6:45

AM

7:20

AM

8:00

AM

Ben wakes up, often after a mere four or five hours of sleep. A student parent, he typically does not begin his homework until ten or eleven pm at night, once he is home from work and his children have gone to bed.

After jumping out of bed, Ben help his children—ages 11, 9, 8, and 4—get ready for school. Ben lives with his partner of thirteen years and their four children in University Village, a UC Berkeley complex that houses many student parents and their families. The Village has been a comforting community in Berkeley. “You meet a lot of other student parents, kids play around, and we all try to help each other,” he tells me.

He makes breakfast for his oldest child, typically cereal or oatmeal and a banana. Since his eldest child’s school is further away than his siblings, Ben’s wife drives him to school in the morning.

Ben makes sure his other children have eaten and are getting ready. “They’re pretty good at it,” he tells me. “For now, it’s just separating them from fighting,” he adds, laughing.

Once all his children have eaten and gotten ready, Ben heads to campus from his home in Albany. The bus ride usually takes about half an hour on AC Transit, and if he gets to his class early, he stops by a popular coffee shop.


As we talk, Ben reveals that he never expected to attend Berkeley. “It wasn’t even on my radar,” Ben says. He had applied to UCLA, expecting to stay with his family in Southern California. Yet, after acceptances came out, Berkeley was suddenly an option. “It was just one of the things were like… I [didn’t] want to pass up Cal,” he says. It was a hard decision; Ben had to move his entire family to Berkeley to attend school. It’s a decision that has proved fruitful however. Ben is now a senior, aiming to attend law school after Berkeley. He has an internship with the Student Parent Center and has been able to access campus resources through the UC Berkeley Transfer Student Center. Yet, unlike other students, especially freshman like Joseline, Ben’s morning routine is not scheduled around his own needs. When asked when he fits in getting dressed and brushing his teeth, he first says, “6:30”

and, then admits that sometimes, he is in his pajamas all morning, focused on making sure his children’s mornings run smoothly. For Ben and other student parents, school is one priority in a balancing act of care. Routines provide a way for people to learn far more about each other than breakfast recipes and face wash products. Contained in Stella, Joseline and Ben’s mornings are moments of care, lively conversations with family members, and quiet instants of solitary reflection. Their experiences reflect the wide range of students that Berkeley contains—each with their own routines and ways of life. Stella drives, Joseline walks, and Ben takes the bus, but they all arrive on campus by nine am, ready to begin their days, possibly passing each other on the way to class.

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body

counts WORDS BY ELLA COLBERT VISUALS BY ETHELINE NGUYEN

A

couple months ago, I received an Instagram DM from a guy. “Hey, not to be creepy, but I think you’re cute,”

he said. I was mildly flattered by this message and continued the conversation. We messaged back and forth for a while, talking about school, music, and movies. Suddenly, he asked me what my body count was. I hesitated. I was thrown off by the question. I had been asked this before, but not by a complete stranger. I was wary of offering this personal information to someone I had never even met. I was nervous that he might judge me for it. I contemplated lying about the number, but chose not to. I was relieved by his lack of reaction to the number. Others in the past had responded with more shock and disgust. It wasn’t until he asked me if I wanted to

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hook up (and I declined the offer) that I realized he had been holding back what he really wanted to say. “I didn’t want to fuck you anyways, you’re gross and probably have something,” he said. “Fucking whore.” I didn’t know how to respond. Even though I knew that he was only lashing out because I had told him no, I was offended by the sentiment. I felt hurt, but more than that, I was angry. He knew almost nothing about me other than that number, yet he had labeled me as a whore. A body count is a measure that people use in order to quantify their sexual experiences. It refers to the number of people one has had sex with. For some reason, society loves to use this measurement as a way to categorize people. I have been asked many times what my body count is and have heard others use it as a way to label others. When I looked up the definition of a “body count” on Urban Dictionary, one of

the top results defined it as “the rating of how big of a hoe someone is.” The stigma around body counts and even the use of the term in general presents a problem. Men and women are held to completely different standards. For men, body counts work in their favor. The higher the body count, the better. Men are applauded for their high body count. They are able to use it in their favor as a weapon, a tool to showcase their superiority over other men. But for women, the rules are different, as they are with most things. According to societal norms, each increase in body count signifies a decrease in the value of a woman. She is defined by her body count and placed into a category that deems her unfit for a man. Her self-worth is questioned. She is not applauded for her sexual experience—she is condemned for it. This is the reason I had felt so ashamed sharing my body count. On multiple occasions, I have considered lying about the


number, reducing it to a figure that others would consider acceptable. Because, although I know that it makes me no less of a person, I am not ignorant of how society will and has already labeled me. But it’s not just me. When asked, women are more likely to lie by decreasing their number, and men are more likely to lie by increasing their number, according to a survey by HealthLine. Society has created standards that force women to be aware of whether or not their behavior will be labeled as promiscuity, something that men often do not have to even think about. Women are held to exceptionally unreasonable standards when it comes to their

sexual experiences, and the logic is highly flawed. If women are expected to be more conservative, not having a lot of sex, while men are expected to have sex with many different people, how does that play out? Who are the men having sex with? I’ll admit that I have also fallen into the trap of labeling people. When I was in high school, I usually viewed people differently after learning their body count. I made unfair judgements about their character without ever having a conversation with that person. It wasn’t until I was judged by someone else that I began to recognize the problematic nature of the term “body count.”

I have re-adjusted my thinking about body counts. People should not be valued by a number because it does not truly measure their character or their worth. It isn’t fair to make a judgement about someone based on a number, without any other context as to how that number came about. I learned to look past this trivial measure that does not in any way reflect someone’s character. People have sex. Some people have sex with a lot of different and some people don’t. Either way, everyone is a person, too complex for their entire being to be reduced down to a single number.

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to the

RIDGE A

8

P H O T O

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S P R E A D


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MOUNT TAMALPAIS IN SPRING Mount Tamalpais, or The Sleeping Lady, has been the backdrop of my life, an easy resting point for my eyes, and my sacred cathedral. Spring is the most splendid season on the mountain. It’s on the Ridgecrest where she flexes her exceptionally dazzling display of wildflowers. Sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, Point Reyes, and the beaches below are unfathomably enhanced by the rolling hills. Her colors of green and blue as well as those seldom found in nature are overwhelmingly brilliant. The glory of Mount Tamalpais, specifically the Ridgecrest softens my aches and leaves me feeling replenished. Whether the Ridgecrest is caped in fog, dried from a draught or as green as could be, these rolling hills are a sacred sight to behold. W O R D S A N D P H O T O S B Y A N N I E M A G U I R E

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APPROACHING THE CUSP BECAUSE PASSION IS ELUSIVE AND SO ARE WE.

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WORDS BY JENNIFER CO VISUALS BY EUNICE CHUNG hat’s your major?” Like trading cards, we categorize one another in every orientation group, ice breaker, and hazy introduction on Sproul. And though there are many distinctions to be made between each college and major and specialization, there are two categories to which everyone can assign themselves: STEM and humanities. On a campus as dynamic as Berkeley’s, it’s odd that we make the initial assumption that one couldn’t be both. It’s a mutual exclusivity that is fueled by the jokes we make, the classes we take, and, of course, on our meme page. Every Dead Week, the same hate is whispered throughout Moffitt, as countless MCB majors squirm among their Kiwi Bot delivery codes and problem sets: “What I would give to be a humanities major right now.” We characterize the two fields of study so exclusively, but what about the students (and there are many of us) who want to pursue both? For a while, I felt I could not quite categorize my interests. I felt the most purpose in the science classroom. But somewhere two months into my chemical biology semester, I felt the gap in my education. I missed writing, the give and take of putting words together, of structuring a flow in communication. I panicked. Had I chosen the wrong major? If I changed my major, would I still be able graduate on time? Surely the Mastering Physics logins and chemistry Smartworks were not helping sustain the sense of purpose that first brought me to science.

W

Eventually, I did the research and bullied the schedule planner into working in a minor in Creative Writing. But what surprises me now is that I did not think to do this initially, that my first reaction to the realization that I missed writing was to switch my major entirely, rather than attempting to do both science and writing. Maybe it was the humanities jokes my professor made in Chemistry lecture, or maybe it was the offhanded distaste my Rhetoric professor had for the harsh insensitivities of the sciences (which, he’d note are ultimately reduced to some form of communication[!]). But now, nearly two months into this interdisciplinary course load, I realize that I could never make the argument that STEM and humanities are equivalent, or that they ought to be approached from the same mindframe. Because walking down the intersectionality of the two fields, I find myself switching between two very different ways of thinking. Much like we ought to treat diversity in our communities and different spheres of life, denying the differences between the two fields is not so much equality as it is a failure to value their worth. The first of these differences is that which is logistically obvious. In our STEM classes, grades come from problems sets and exams alone, and they are heavily dependent on the all-powerful curve. Lectures are a mass-produced transfer of knowledge as we cram as many eyes and ears into a large room where just one professor dictates their rendition of the textbook before putting down the homework for the next week. On the other hand, in my writing classes,

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our lectures consist mostly of discussion, pushing around the themes in our readings and left heavily at the mercy of whatever strikes the facilitator’s fancy or the brain children of our sleep-deprived peers. In the heat of all this, we perpetuate a community which is every man for himself on the STEM side, and loose and idealistic on the humanities side. And as participants in these environments, we partake in the stereotypes that then become our realities— my experience thus far has not strayed too greatly from the jokes made on the meme page. But what has been most meaningful to me in this is learning about myself as a student in how I function in the two classrooms. In my humanities courses, I find myself working with what I have to say and digging through the mechanics of how best to say it. In class, I follow the skeleton of the discussion, and I see how one argument propels that of another. My final thesis for my R1B class talked about the “nonlinearity representation of time in film and how that perpetuates the individualism over shared experience of love and romance.” Who wants to read that? What greater good is an argument like that serving on the surface of this Earth, really? But what I cannot deny is the satisfaction I had in forging that argument, blending it with the evidence I found in the film, and welding the two together with my words. That work was a big project for me, perhaps not in terms my final product, but truly in the brute force and leg work of finding what I had to say and doing the dirty work of finding the voice with which I had to say it. In my science and math courses, on the other hand, I did not have to fight to find the value of what I was learning. Every lecture shed more light on how molecules work and furthermore how the

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body works. The math in my general education requirements found themselves in all of my other classes, in the thermal expansions proofs of physics worksheets or in the speed distributions of chemical collision theory. Classes did not excite me in a pure, traditional way (I can’t quite liken learning quantized energy of electrons to waiting for Santa to come down the chimney), but they gave me hope and empowered me to approach my future. All of the topics to which I could only assign very airy language upon coming into Cal became less elusive with every week of classes, and when I imagine the future version of myself I may be at the end of this, the sheer potential of what I may be able to do or understand, it is truly exciting. But what is to be said of the differences between the two fields? I certainly hate myself a lot more in my STEM classes, and I certainly doubt the validity of my work a lot more in my humanities classes. Is that to say we ought to size ourselves against this academic venn diagram and fill ourselves in where we best fit on the machine? The answer is no, as your life and interests are not the mere result feeds of a series of Buzzfeed quizzes. So perhaps what this ultimately boils down to is pursuing and honoring every corner of your brain and what moves you. But perhaps what is not so easy is the exact realization of what that is. In high school, we do anything and everything under the sun. Sports. Volunteer work. Dance. Debate. Robotics. A full load of APs. And we were good at all these things. Or at least decent enough to stuff it into our college applications. We enter this campus with the strongest sense of identity in our eighteen-year-old lives: Hello, this is what I’ve done, this is what I want to


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JULIUS BUYCO: Film Major

1 “SO PERHAPS WHAT THIS ULTIMATELY BOILS DOWN TO IS PURSUING AND HONORING EVERY CORNER OF YOUR BRAIN AND WHAT MOVES YOU.” do, this is what I’m good at and low and behold—this is who I am. And who can blame us? As we had just spent the last five months categorizing each segment of our lives into accomplishments, skill sets, and synthesizing the conglomerate resulting resumé into a self proclaimed identity. At the outset, college is a paradise for the eighteen year old. There is opportunity after opportunity for clubs, sports, harder and higher upper divisions—leadership and networking and LinkedIns and coffee chats. But with only so many hours in a day and a max capacity easily in reach, we cannot simply commit to every opportunity that comes our way or some fleeting interest just because we have the capacity to. It is then, in this GoogleCalendar-crazed fog of infosessions and

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interest forms, that we are tasked to look ourselves in our own two self deprecating eyes and ask What do I want to do? What am I good at? Who am I?! Perhaps this is a bit dramatic in the grand scheme of things—my version was more of an underlying sense of panic somewhere around week three of UC Berkeley (presumably, just enough time for the Calapalooza burn out). I will not waste time in claiming an all-knowing formula for all of this. Because at the end of the day, anecdote is not data—we ought to honor our summation of circumstances and realize that purpose is hard earned. Perhaps we are called to find ourselves and our thoughts in this whole college thing, and find ourselves the hard way. But throwing ourselves at opportunities and decals until a long term goal arises is rough, and difficult to validate. So in that, I will end on some takes from some pals on the other end of this journey of finding your interests and what works for your brain. So here is approaching the cusp: when they knew, how they knew, why they knew it.

I suppose I’m not absolutely sure but film is a medium I feel I absolutely enjoy even in the worst ways. From the kind of person I am—someone who’s into music, art, literature—I think film embodies all those and there’s a lot of things I can improve on.” When asked how he knew or validated the fact that he enjoyed it: “I suppose it should be obvious, but how do you know you like a new piece of music of find a really cool hobby? I’d say when the line between hobby and identity blurs.” Julius, he’s a passionate guy. But what he emphasizes in how he speaks is the total enamorment with the medium he works in, and what is vital to the infatuation is the realization that not only has he worked hard for his understanding, but his understanding has evolved to a place where he knows he can meaningfully contribute to this medium and make it better. He can leave his mark, yes, but he can also live in such way that evidences how a mark has likewise been left on him.


GABRIELLE DIRECTO:

GABBY LAU:

Mechanical Engineering Major, Linguistics Minor

IEOR, Main Stacks Dance

2

I think I knew for sure I wanted to do linguistics before I was sure I wanted to do Mechanical Engineering . . . because I took a class that pretty much threw me into the deep end in terms of content and real life application. But when I got involved in STAC and FSAE, I knew engineering, mechanical engineering specifically, was the right choice for me because the problems we were solving made me want to be present and contribute.” Gabi is my roommate and friend of 12 years. I wasshocked by how long I had romanticized her choice in major as the manifestation of some childhood filled with hot wheels and lego blocks, and surprised to find that she was more sure of her linguistics minor before the engineering major to which she had applied initially. But her journey speaks to not only some of her indicators of purpose—a desire to be present and contribute, the challenge of being thrown into the deep end—but also the give and take and the patience involved in acknowledging what she loved. It is a leap of faith we take in choosing our major, but it’s a journey to be taken in getting to know that major and trusting that we made the right choice for ourselves. It wasn’t until the third semester of her time here at Cal that Gabi said she truly felt for her major, and perhaps with that is the realization that the opposite could have been true-we are allowed to explore and pick the wrong choice a couple times, so long as we are genuine with ourselves and our feelings.

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n knowing what to pursue seriously with their time in college, Gabby says you should do “things you enjoy but also see a future with.” Gabby has navigated a tough and full engineering course load in her time here at Cal, but in that has also gotten to see through something she knows she loves—and it’s the certainty there that’s incredible to witness. Gab is an amazing dancer, but talks about it with the practicality that one may approach a STEM career in seeing the possible means of employment and forging a career out of it. She claims the satisfaction of knowing you’ve found something you love—and that you know you’re good at. But in tackling the intangible mess of trying to identify if something feels good, perhaps it’s best left at “If you know, you know.”

What moves you today—it may not move you tomorrow. And who am I to prescribe some predestined fate we ought to fulfill in our academic passions and occupations? But, with that, we’ve been given a whole lot of room to experiment for ourselves— and move! Because we can! Because we ought to squirm in all our degrees of freedom in an entropy bound existence. And let not that unadulterated movement be hindered by anything, be it some interdisciplinary divide, some fear of trying, what have you. Stay passionate bears, and unapologetic with where you spend that passion.

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NATALIA ANCISO WEARS HER ART ON HER SLEEVE

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WORDS BY SOPHIA STEWART VISUALS BY KINCSO DOMICZI atalia Anciso has a real eye for color. She has to—she’s an artist. But you don’t have to see her work—which prominently features the bright hues of near-neon flora— to see how Anciso has mastered the use of bold, vibrant colors. When we meet at Royal Ground Coffee, she emerges through the glass double doors in a cobalt blue t-shirt, scarlet pleated skirt, and indigo glasses. Framing her face is a pair of wood-carved earrings, big red roses in full bloom. She’s impossible to miss. Though the palate she wears is loud, Anciso herself is surprisingly soft-spoken. Anciso is an artist of inarguable renown; her work has been exhibited around the world, and she’s been featured in highprofile magazines like Elle and Latina. She even earned a shout-out from former Secretary of Education John King, Jr., who said, “How can we expect a student to become the next Kara Walker, Natalia Anciso, or Kehinde Wiley if she’s never analyzed a painting, or had the chance to deeply study American history?” Clearly, Anciso is kind of a big deal. But you’d never know it from chatting

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with her over iced teas on a warm, clear day in Berkeley. She speaks gently, sketching out her ideas with thought and care. As she talks, she focuses on her experiences rather than her achievements. She radiates humility, and she says she has her roots to thank for that. “Texas is home,” she says. “Texas is what shaped me and keeps me humble, especially the town I’m from.” That town is Mercedes, where Anciso grew up and discovered her artistry. A border town, Mercedes is populated by Chicano families who have lived there for generations. She calls it “a very small football town,” like “Friday Night Lights but all Mexican American people.” Mercedes is also in one of the poorest counties in the United States, and tensions around class, ethnicity, and immigration status permeate the region. These are also the issues that directly and profoundly shape Anciso’s work as an artist. “Art has been a constant in my life,” she says. “Since I was little, I’ve always been drawing. I started with coloring on walls, and then copying Disney characters, then that evolved to comic books. I was always drawing, drawing, drawing.” As she got older, she used drawing to

understand and work through the social, political, and economic forces that shaped her hometown, as well as the nation. “Drawing is a kind of meditation, almost. I got to reflect a lot in my studio,” she says. “My work deals with experiences of growing up on the border, not really feeling like I’m American enough but being super American to people in Mexico.” She also draws a lot of inspiration from the connections between her own experiences and the state of our nation. She speaks euphemistically about the current immigration crisis, letting her art speak for her: “It’s hard to process the news, the images that come out . . . how much the people look like me and my family,” she says. Anciso’s work especially reconciles her identity and her place in America. “One reason I’m always drawn to the border is because my grandma lived three miles from the border, and if we had been just three miles south, that could have been my family.” Again, she speaks in fairly imprecise terms, especially when it comes to talking about the xenophobic politics that currently endanger countless immigrants. She means to say that her family, too, could have been


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forced by circumstance to swim across the Rio Grande or trek through the Mexican desert, could have been captured by Border Patrol or held captive in a Texan prison camp. But she makes this point incisively with her art; you know exactly what she meant just by looking “Migra” or “Cruzando,” two of the countless potent drawings she’s produced in the last decade. ◦◦◦ Anciso’s drawings have a striking simplicity to them. Her canvases vary—she draws on everything from paper to fabric, even pillowcases and handkerchiefs—but her drawing style is distinctive, unmistakable. She mostly draws people: students, mothers, fallen soldiers, weary migrants. She draws everyday people, suffering people, people who, she says, “look like me.” Her central figures are sketched in detailed greyscale. Her technique alone is incredibly impressive. And then, there’s the flowers. Anciso’s artistic signature is the stunning, delicate, and fully alive flowers that populate her drawings. Shaded with bright colors—pinks, blues, oranges—Anciso’s vibrant flora inject her images with life and love. These tender reminders of growth hover within most of her pieces. In some, they consecrate moments of human beauty: a mother breastfeeding her child, two elderly lovers on a park

bench. In others, flowers bloom at the most unexpected, heartrending moments: they sprout from corpses or adorn a crying child. And the flowers are not just an aesthetic addition—they have deep-seated significance for Anciso, both personally and culturally. “Flowers have always been a big thing in my life,” she says first. “Both my grandmas always had roses everywhere in the house.” Then she thinks for a moment: “That, and I started researching huipil, those shirts that are embroidered, traditional.” Huipil are Mayan textiles worn by indigenous women throughout Latin America, with meaning woven into their designs. “I started researching [huipil]. I just knew that they were super colorful and bright and I liked them,” she says. “But the flowers that they embroider are specific to location, and that’s what inspires me.” Anciso adapts this same purposeful artistry in her own floral work. “In my artwork, the flowers that I use are specific,” she says. “So in the work that I’m doing here in California, you’ll usually see the California poppy. When I was doing work based on the border, it was blue bonnets and native flowers [like] hibiscus.” In honoring and adapting cultural traditions born south of the border, Anciso has cultivated an original style and a deeply moving body of work. Her oeuvre is at once a clash, a tribute, and a radical act of resistance.

“Civil” (2013)

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◦◦◦ Anciso’s work confronts you. It puts you face-to-face with the people sidelined by American history and culture; it’s as sociopolitically charged as it is beautiful. One could be surprised that such incisive work could come from a person as mildmannered and amiable as Natalia Anciso. Or it just might make perfect sense. “I’m a quiet person; I’m an introvert,” Anciso says. “I won’t be the kind of person who goes out and protests. I do that through my art.” Indeed, her work is her own unique form of protest, a kind that allows her to contribute the larger political conversation through her own special set of gifts. Anciso’s work is undoubtedly protest art. But her art also has a tenderness, even an occasional whimsy, that makes it truly singular. In her artistic practice, she creates with a clear intention: starting important conversations. “Art is an access point,” she says. “Art plays a big role in getting issues out there and getting people to talk.” This philosophy of art as an access point has also guided Anciso in other aspects of her life. Anciso isn’t just a fulltime artist, but also a full-time teacher. She’s always loved working with kids, and she now teaches elementary school students in the East Bay. She got her MA in Education at UC Berkeley; she loves that Cal’s program emphasized social justice and equity, though she laments its lack of diversity. She’s deeply and admirably invested in her students, a champion of arts education and a firm believer in the value of empowering young people. She was struck by the disconnect she saw in her students when she initially taught after-school programs. Dismayed to see kids excited about practicing art after school while hating their actual classes, Anciso felt she needed to be in the classroom. “It was really important to be a role model to kids that look like me and came from my same type of background,” she says. “I love working with kids, teaching them art, teaching them how to have a voice and use their voice.” Somehow, Anciso manages to balance full-time careers as both an artist and a teacher. “A lot of the artists I look up to are also educators,” she says. But, still, wearing both hats has its challenges. “It’s been very difficult. Especially since I have my son.” I must have forgotten to mention—


when Natalia Anciso emerged through the glass double doors of Royal Ground Coffee in those bright colored clothes and those big floral earrings, she was also carrying her young son close to her chest. He has inquisitive eyes and smooth, shiny black hair like hers. On top of being a full-time artist and educator, Anciso is also a fulltime mom. At this point, it’s perfectly reasonable to wonder if she is superhuman. She clarifies that she’s not: “People say you’re this famous artist; I just feel like a regular person who is trying to survive the day and get my son potty trained.” Fair enough. But Anciso is undeniably a “famous artist,” whether she necessarily likes that classification or not. “It wasn’t until a few years ago I felt comfortable saying I am an artist,” she admits. She points to the stigma that comes with “telling people you’re an artist.” Fortunately, now that she’s grown into her artistry, she’s able to inspire the next generation of artists in her own classroom. She admits, “It’s great to hear kids say, ‘I want to be an artist when I grow up.’” I’m still looking to answer the question of How Natalia Anciso Does It All. She insists she’s a “regular person,” but she must have a secret to her artistic and professional success, perhaps even one she can pass on to other aspiring artists. “Find a community of creative people who are supportive and will help you,” she shares. “Being in the creative arts is very isolating sometimes, and I think it’s important that you have a community to support you.” Anything else she can share with us struggling young creatives? “It sounds really cheesy, but never give up,” she says. “And just understand that it’s very hard. You’re going

to feel at times that you’re failing, because sometimes I still feel that way.” ◦◦◦ There’s Natalia Anciso the artist and educator and mother. But what about Natalia, the soft-spoken Texan who completes her colorful outfit with black Converse? I want to know her, too. Turns out, Natalia is pretty cool. No surprise there. Her favorite movie is The Goonies (“I’m big on ‘80s movies”). Her biggest artistic influence is Favianna Rodriguez, for both her use of color and her activism. She thinks the blue bonnet is an “underrated flower” and is the most fun for her to draw. Her favorite color is “that deep royal blue, kind of indigo.” “Kind of like your glasses,” I remark. She laughs and confirms my observation. Natalia doesn’t laugh easily, and when she does, it’s quiet but honeyed, and it’s always genuine. Making Natalia laugh, even just as an act of factual affirmation, easily becomes

the best part of my day. Anciso’s eye for color is evidenced by her self-fashioning: the bold hues of her outfit, the glasses in her very favorite shade of indigo (a very lovely shade, I might add). She may not wear her heart on her sleeve, but she certainly wears her art. If you’re looking for her heart, you’ll have to check out one of her exhibitions.

“Migra” (2013)

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LANGUAGE BARRIERS WORDS BY MICHELLE PARK VISUALS BY EUNICE CHUNG hough I was born in the I couldn’t respond, which resulted in me States, I learned Korean responding “yes” to everything, adding first, English second. in the occasional laugh. Eventually, the And until kindergarten, I conversations turned into a repetition of spoke Korean with more the same phrases time after time. “Are you fluency than I did English. In fact, when doing well in school?” “Are you having fun I entered preschool, I didn’t even initially with your friends?” “Are you listening to respond to the name “Michelle,” since I your parents well?” To which I would only had always only been called by my Korean ever be able to answer “yes.” While I never name, “Seyoun.” I was surrounded almost lost the language completely, there was a exclusively by Korean speakers until I went clear severance of comfort, and I slowly to school, which is when my language loss began to question the importance of my began. ability to speak Korean. Around the time I This is not an uncommon trajectory was in seventh or eighth grade, my inability for children of immigrants. Studies have shown that language loss and/or shift begins almost as soon as they enter school due Just as speaking English to the assimilative forces preshas always been a quality suring children of immigrants imposed on what it means to learn English quickly. In my case, language shift occurred to be American,,speaking incredibly rapidly; by the time I Korean has always felt very was finished with kindergarten, closely tied to being Korean. I was already more comfortable with English than Korean. Since I was speaking English at school, I started to speak English at home as well, despite both of my parents being to speak Korean comfortably started to irmore comfortable with Korean. They im- ritate me. I think that it was at this time that migrated to the United States after getting I started to feel how closely cultural identity married in order to attend graduate school and language were tied together. Just as and therefore are fluent in both English speaking English has always been a quality and Korean. Slowly but surely, English imposed on what it means to be Ameribecame the instinctual language to speak can, speaking Korean has always felt very in, and though I retained my comprehension closely tied to being Korean. And while I abilities, Korean began to feel foreign to participated in Korean culture, listening to speak, and English unconsciously became Korean music, eating Korean food, being my dominant language. part of a Korean community, I began to feel It wasn’t until middle school that I that it was a shame that I couldn’t speak began to think about my language abilities. Korean, as if this somehow invalidated my My conversations with my parents consisted Korean-American identity and launched me of them speaking to me in Korean and me onto the side of being completely American. responding in English. When my family And though I had this very strict would speak to my grandparents who lived mindset, studies have shown that others in Korea over the phone, I couldn’t com- don’t necessarily believe so. According to municate with them. While I understood a study done by the Pew Research Center what was being said to me over the phone, about the decline of Spanish speakers in

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major cities, 71% of Latinos said it was not necessary for one to speak Spanish and be Latino. So as a child of immigrant parents, what does language signify to me, and how does it play in my role as a KoreanAmerican? There’s no hard answer to this question, and I really do believe that the importance of language depends on each person and their experiences. Some find it to be of utmost importance to their cultural identity, some find their inability to speak it polarizing, and others don’t think anything of it. I decided to take matters into my own hands in high school and was determined to re-familiarize myself with the language I had lost my hold on. This mostly consisted of watching a lot of Korean dramas and responding to my parents in Korean whenever I could. And while I am by no means completely fluent, I do speak comfortably again in Korean with my parents, grandparents, my friend’s parents, and other first generation immigrants; this makes me proud. Though I have never once felt like I wasn’t Korean, the ability to speak the language itself does make me feel a stronger connection to earlier generations. It also helps that I don’t need to turn on the subtitles for Korean videos anymore. When I think about the fact that language loss occurs amongst third generation immigrants across the board, I will admit, that makes me a little sad. Since I am a second generation immigrant, my kids will be that third generation. The thought of them being unable to speak Korean feels somewhat regretful, as if a link to part of their heritage will be broken off, not to mention their inability to communicate with my parents in their mother tongue. I can only hope that for all immigrant children, the choice to speak the language is always an option and that they are proud of the ties to their own cultures.


71% of Latinos say it’s not necessary to speak Spanish to be considered Latino

Language shift/loss in children of immigrants starts occurring as soon as they begin school

Language loss occurs across the board for most third generation immigrants

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Photo Attributions 1 Annie Maguire 2,6 Aria Burdon Dasbach 3 Erik Nuding 4,5 Will Brinkerhoff

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FALLING f orward FINDING A JOB AFTER GRADUATION

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WORDS BY VICTORIA MARIOLLE VISUALS BY REBECCA WONG ach graduating class enters a new marketplace with specific needs and job openings that fluctuate with the rise and fall of different industries. The economy that students are graduating into today is completely different than that of our parents’ generation. Where before people could spend a lifetime working with the same company, people can now expect to work at an average of at least six cowmpanies, according to the Washington Post. This new economic landscape has been dubbed the “gig economy,” meaning that people are working temporary positions without contracts: essentially freelance work. In his piece for Forbes Magazine,“The Rise of the Free Lancer Economy,” Brian Rashid reports that “by 2020, 50% of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers.” What this projection demonstrates is the rise of a completely new way of perceiving and building a career. Whereas before there would be an expectation to work in one general field that one moves up in, now there seems to be a general expectation

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to have multiple careers, sometimes even at the same time. While there has been a general wave of positivity surrounding the new “gig economy,” the main caveat is its instability. On the one hand, this new system offers the employee flexibility and autonomy. It gives them agency to create their own schedule, allowing them to take on certain projects and pursue multiple avenues simultaneously. However, a person who is only a freelancer misses out on the benefits that are offered (most of the time) by full time employment. Those benefits, such as health insurance, retirement packages, and the overall financial security that used to be given as entitlements, are now difficult to obtain in a market that favors the shortterm, contracted employee. What results from this unique moment of economic transition is an intense competition amongst graduates to gain full-time employment, especially in a graduate’s desired field of employment. Thus, there is an accepted expectation that any entry level position is going to be terrible because so many people are lined up ready to take it over. An entry

level position represents the foothold of breaking into “the industry,” and with that comes a power imbalance where the employee is easily replaceable, providing no real incentive for the employer to give real benefits or a reasonable workload. The question then becomes how much can the individual employee put up with? Do the ends justify the means? The stereotypical representation that comes to mind is Anne Hathaway as Andy in “The Devil Wears Prada”: the frequent coffee runs, the blaring sounds of a cell phone signaling yet another task, the catty coworkers, and the sheer stress of trying to avoid being perceived as incompetent. The competition that permeates intensive working environments compounded with the stress of grunt work can take a massive toll on one’s mental health. To explore all of these questions, I interviewed recent graduate Scarlet Cummings. Scarlet graduated UC Berkeley in May 2016 with a degree in Film Studies and Art History. She currently works at XYZ Production (based in San Francisco) as an Associative Creative Producer.

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WHAT CHALLENGES DID YOU FACE BREAKING INTO YOUR FIELD?

I say this not to scare but to prepare—even with a Berkeley degree, it can be quite hard to land a humanities-related job right out of college. There are a lot of us out there, and if you’re applying for, say, a creative producer role as a recent graduate, there are candidates with two to three years of work experience that’ll probably be shortlisted and get the job. Even though I had done a ton of internships in college, I had to take one at a startup out of school. It was fine, and you’ll be fine if you have to do the same thing. Show them you have good ideas, and they’ll probably hire you on as a full-time employee after a couple months. Good writers are hard to find. DO YOU HAVE A SENSE OF AGENCY IN YOUR JOB AND THE ABILITY TO PUT FORTH IDEAS?

This has to do almost entirely with how your boss manages you. If you have a boss who is not a maniac (unfortunately, they outnumber the sane ones, in my experience) and who cares about personal relationships with their direct reports, then you will probably

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feel comfortable enough to share new ideas, which will in turn endow you with a sense of agency. If your boss lacks empathy for you and other employees, my advice is to quit as soon as possible. That might sound brutal, but that kind of work environment is not worth your effort or, frankly, your mental health. It might seem scary, it might seem hard to get another job, but you should just leave, and do it quickly! (Provided the economy is on an upswing. Sigh.) CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE COMPANY CULTURE AT THE DIFFERENT PLACES THAT YOU'HAVE WORKED AT?

I’ve only been out of college two years, but I feel like I’ve already seen all varieties of company culture. I’ve worked in places where openness and curiosity were championed, companies in which ruling by fear, backstabbing, and overwork were par for the course, and offices in which the laidback nature of the industry imbued every interaction and task. Oddly enough, in my experience, company culture can differ pretty wildly from one department to the next. If you’re at an on-site interview and want to get a better sense of the company’s culture, check out the people hiding in corners and the way employees


talk to one another. If they’re all miserable-looking and whispering for fear of communicating their true feelings aloud, stay away. DO YOU GET PAID FOR OVERTIME? OR ARE YOU EXPECTED TO COMPLETE YOUR WORK ON YOUR OWN TIME?

Yes, I get paid for overtime, which is nice, but it has its drawbacks as well. For instance, if you’re paid hourly as a contractor, you’re probably not getting employer-provided health insurance (wompwah, hopefully you can be on your parents’ plan until you’re 26). That’s another way startups can get you—they (tacitly) require you to work well over eight hours many days, but since they’re most likely paying you a salary, they don’t have to shell out the usual time-and-a-half they would if you were paid hourly. HAVE YOU EVER ENGAGED IN FREELANCE WORK?

I’ve avoided freelancing like the plague! Too unstable, and I’ve not felt the need to supplement my income while working full-time. Scarlet’s job trajectory—from working at a startup

out of college to then working as a writer and researcher in Masterclass Education composing curriculum to shifting into producing—exemplifies the adaptability needed to gain employment in this freelance economy. What her experience encapsulates is the difficulty of getting employed, the malleability needed to shift into different industries, and the challenges of the workplace, such as workplace culture and the lack of benefits in a short term contract. One of the central difficulties in becoming a young professional is navigating oneself into an industry that one would want to build a career in. In the “gig economy,” where success is determined by how much an individual can hustle, it is important to remain resilient and to not become derailed from your objective dream job. After all, the number one identifier of success, diagnosed by social scientist and Professor of Psychology Angela Lee Duckworth is not IQ but grit, meaning a person’s ability to mediate and wade through difficult situations, with their focus ultimately trained on their long-term objective. While embarking on this new phase in life can be downright intimidating, what is essential to keep in mind is that progress looks different for every individual. Building a career is a lifelong process and as graduates, we are just getting started.

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THIS IS D R OU G H T A

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This photo spread features Jake Olshan, creative designer, skater, and visionary behind Drought. “Drought is a way of communicating ideas, using clothing as a medium. Ultimately, it is whatever the viewer wants it to mean. Living in Southern California, ‘drought’ was a word constantly heard on the news regarding the city’s low water supply. It was also a word constantly used in metaphors. It was just a word I thought could take on a number of ambiguous meanings. In the 1960’s, there was a drought in Southern California in which many homeowners had to drain their backyard swimming pools. This birthed pool skating, and captured a raw sort of energy that I wanted to recreate.” — Jake Olshan P H O T O S B Y P A T R I C I A R I V E R O

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A L L U R E

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T H E A B A N D O N E D W O R D S B Y E V E LY N TAY L O R VISUALS BY SEAN FARKAS & HENRY DEMARCO hotography of dereliction or abandoned places with no trace of life, commonly referred to as “ruin porn,” increasingly appeals to individuals. But why? Where does this fascination with abandonment and dilapidation stem from? As the modern world is constantly growing with technological advances and new architecture, something about abandoned, run-down, and previously bustling buildings and locations still engross our society. This urge to explore city ruins in the Bay Area was dubbed “Urban Exploration” by a group called the Suicide Club in the 1970s. From abandoned mining tunnels under the Berkeley campus to Alcatraz Island, there are more deserted buildings and locations than you might think. In the Bay Area and America overall, we learn about who and where we come from in history classes, through reading books and written accounts of history, and walking around museums. However, urban exploration still holds the potential for new discoveries about the past. Since we can’t talk to those who once frequented these places, abandoned buildings hold endless possibilities for learning about a culture or society that is different from the present day. A man-made space without the upkeep of modern society can also hold treasures

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and sights we don’t encounter in everyday life, like plants or animals taking back that space, or material objects stuck in the past (like old newspapers and appliances). For the curious thrill-seekers interested in exploring these places stuck in the past, the options range from guided tours to hopping fences, walking on train tracks, and trespassing to get in. There are many locations that don’t require committing a felony to enter them. Alcatraz Island in the Bay, for example, the site of a former federal prison that housed some of the nation’s most dangerous and infamous criminals, offers ferry rides and guided tours of what remains there. Then there is the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, which was once the home of wealthy widow Sarah Winchester and is believed to hold

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malicious ghosts and spirits. Under the belief that constant construction on her house would appease these spirits, Sarah Winchester did near-continuous construction on the massive house until her death in 1922. While these places are unique and hold the stories and remains of our past, they have been maintained and touched by humans since their initial abandonment. This is why some of the more dangerous and lesser-known places in the Bay might hold more secrets and thrills for their explorers. Drawbridge, California, is a ghost town in Fremont with an abandoned railroad station, bridges, and ruined buildings. Similarly, Mare Island is home to an abundance of uninhabited buildings, including warehouses, homes, and hospitals. While many private prop-

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erties on the island are patrolled by a security guard 24/7, being careful and quiet could translate to an amazing adventure without being caught for trespassing. Urban exploration is not only a casual hobby but a widely practiced pastime that many take very seriously. One of these people, who wishes to remain anonymous, goes by the handle @sparklepyre on Instagram, and created a Facebook group that now connects over 2,000 urban explorers to new locations, photography, each other, and various exploration groups. The group is named Collective of Urban Explorers. Now residing in Pacific Grove, CA, @sparklepyre has been exploring for six years, originally wandering around an abandoned military base near her home. Over the years, this interest in exploration and photography of ruins developed into a full-blown “addiction,” as she describes it. “In the case of this military base, I’m trying to document how it was once a thriving place that’s slowly vanishing into thin air, and a lot of people won’t know any of that was ever there,” she says, when asked what the attraction is from these places, rather than well-known areas. We know the stories behind tourist attractions like the Winchester House and Alcatraz, but we can’t say the same for some of the more untouched abandoned places in the Bay Area. Something about piecing together the past from material objects rather than oral history gives a much more authentic and mysterious feeling, as they hold the potential for frightening backstories that you can actually feel and almost relive because of their physical remnants. Not only can these places be eerie because they are vacated and stuck in the past, but some can develop a unique beauty in becoming ruined, or preserve the beauty standards of architecture from the past. The internet holds endless, chilling stories of abandoned mental hospitals, Nazi camps, and prisons that can make our skin crawl, especially when looking at them from

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FARKAS


“...

NOT

THAT

ONLY

HOLD

THRILLS

ARE

THE

AND

THEY

RELICS

POTENTIAL

FOR

ADVENTURES,

BUT

THEY CAN ALSO HOUSE ARTIFACTS UNTOUCHED BY MAN THAT TELL A UNIQUE

STORY.”

HENRY

a modern perspective. In Sacramento, the Donner Pass Train Tunnels have been abandoned since American pioneers in covered wagons began settling in the West. These specific tunnels were once traveled by the Donner Party, a group of pioneers who were trapped in this area for an entire winter and ultimately resorted to cannibalism to survive. The Berkeley campus even has some of these mysterious abandoned places with stories behind them, such as the mining tunnels that run under the campus that were deemed unsafe for mining students, but remain a hidden treasure to this day. Tolman Hall, the former Psychology Department building, was also deemed seismically unsafe, and sits silently on the North edge of campus despite being scheduled for demolition in early 2018. Looking through the windows, one can see desks, children’s toys, and boxes of miscellaneous materials, each holding stories that have been lost with the building’s vacancy. @Sparklepyre explained that each place she explores holds historical significance, whether it be an old house or a

DEMARCO

hotel. She said she started out wandering around “just because,” and now finds herself looking for little details that might give insight into what these places once were. In one of her recent explorations, she found a journal dating back to 1905. “It’s the most amazing thing I’ve found, just this beautiful handwritten book full of history, full of company names that probably don’t exist anymore—just amazing history,” she said. Standing structures stuck in the past like hospitals, schools, and workspaces are very different than photographs or written descriptions of these spaces throughout history. They change with time and are subject to invasion by plants, animals, and humans, all while remaining a free-standing artifact where history actually happened. We are so fascinated with these places because they are so unlike what we see everyday: clean, bustling, modernized spaces full of life. Quiet and untouched, abandoned buildings allow us to compare what we know to a time we didn’t experience and draw connections about what has changed. For

example, the setups and tools used in hospitals or factories just a few decades ago can be radically different than what we are used to seeing now. Old mental hospitals are especially alarming, as California, and specifically the Bay Area, struggled with developing proper treatment centers for the mentally ill throughout history. For example, during the Gold Rush, mentally ill patients were locked up alongside criminals on a ship docked outside of San Francisco called the Euphemia. Although it is not standing now, abandoned mental hospitals today hold similarly chilling stories about the evolution of care for the mentally ill. There is a bit of a science to the public fascination with abandoned places; not only are they relics that hold the potential for thrills and adventures, but they can also house artifacts untouched by man that tell a unique story. These spaces also hold the potential for beautiful photography and silence as one imagines what once went on there. Some of these places can even be in your own backyard—take a look around and see what you can find.

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WORD EMBEDDING

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WORDS BY OLIVIA LEWKE VISUALS BY ARIA BURDON DASBACH ecent advances in natural language processing have given machines an uncanny ability to emulate and “comprehend” human speech. We often find ourselves ascribing a human-like quality to machines when we speak about them. It is natural to fall into phrases like, “My cellphone doesn’t know how to do x,” or, “Alexa knows how to do y.” We’re clearly comfortable ascribing forms of knowledge to machines and their algorithmic processes, but is knowledge the same as comprehension? Do machines understand language in the way that we do through the way that their algorithms mathematically model language? In forms of natural language processing that are implemented through linear algebra, we encode words as vectors. We can define a vector as an ordered list of numbers that represents spaces in different dimensions. At the most basic level,

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we can think of vectors as coordinates that map to points, lines, or other spaces in higher dimensions based on how many numbers they contain. For example, we could think of a vector with three entries (three numbers in its ordered list) as a point in three-dimensional space. By extension, we could consider a vector with 9000 entries as existing in 9000-dimensional space, and although the human brain has no way to conceptualize what 9000-dimensional space would even resemble solely based on our 3-D experience, we can use the logic of lower dimensional spaces to process and interpret information from higher dimensional spaces. Because vectors represent geometric spaces, we can think of vectors as a geometric way of representing the meaning of a word by storing information about a word’s usage. In particular, a methodology from natural language processing known as “word embedding” allows us to represent

words as vectors. But what does it mean to represent a word as a vector—or in other words, what do the numbers inside of a word vector tell us about the meaning of a word? One form of word embedding described in Sanjeev Arora’s 2015 publication entitled “Semantic Word Embeddings” models a word in relation to other words that are used in the same contexts. Arora quotes the linguist John Firth, who claimed, “You will know a word by the company it keeps.” In this relational framework, vectors model words by their contexts. The associative model makes sense to the average human. If I asked you to supply me with more words based on the collection “earth, sunlight, water, petals, leaves, farming, soil,” you would most likely respond with something along the lines of “plants.” We are adept at carrying out a line of associative logic, and this form of word embedding capitalizes on associations as a means of defining what

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P L A N T

a word “means.” In colloquial terms that gloss over much of the confusing mathematical jargon and subtlety in the process, the intuition behind this method is to take a large written text (for example, Wikipedia), and find how closely certain words are placed next to each other. Each individual word vector has an entry for every other word in the text. To put this in concrete terms with Wikipedia as an example, the word “plant” would have a numerical entry for every other word existing in Wikipedia. The numerical entries of the “plant” word vector correspond with the count of how often each word appears within a distance of five words from “plant.” Imagine we had the following sentence from Wikipedia: “Plants are green and beautiful creatures. Small animals often eat them. Green plants photosynthesize in forests and draw nutrients from the earth. Cities and industrialized spaces usually do not provide enough light.” This sentence would model this small part of the plant vector:

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S U R R O U N D I N G

V E C T O R S

W O R D S

E N T R I E S

green

2

beautiful

1

creatures

1

eat

1

often

1

animals

1

photosynthesize

1

forest

1

draw

1

nutrients

0

from

0

the

0

earth

0

industrialized

0

spaces

0

usually

0

provide

0

enough

0

light

0


We can see that because “green” appeared twice within five words of “plant,” it was given an entry with the number two. Words that did not appear close to “plant” received entries of zero. Initially, it might seem like this method leaves much to be desired in terms of accuracy and the relevance of the information it actually records about a word, but if one were to go through the entirety of Wikipedia and find all the uses of the word “plant” and count the surrounding words, the vector would come to model the word “plant” at a rather sophisticated level. Naturally, this process produces vectors of a massive size due to the corresponding massive size of Wikipedia, but it turns out that such relationships can be compressed into vectors with only 300 entries through a process of singular value decomposition. Without getting into the abstruse technicality of the process or its justification, what this means is that we can take a massive amount of data from word counts in Wikipedia and reduce it such that each word is modeled as a

sequence of 300 numbers. In this model, the meaning of a word is encapsulated in a vector that is only three hundred numbers in size. The word “plant” becomes a sequence of 300 numbers that theoretically contains an accurate and empiricallyderived definition of what the word plant actually means. In fact, this model can solve questions about the relationships of words to one another better than the average high schooler taking a standardized test. Yet we must be wary when we think about how this model defines “meaning,” and what it means for language. Are words solely composed of their relationships? It seems startlingly reductive to define the word “plant” as counts of “green” and other surrounding words. It suggests that that no word has its own inherent meaning, and that we can only find meaning in larger sentences and paragraphs. In other words, context becomes necessary for there to be meaning. One can reflect on their experience with language to decide if this is true—if I said the word “plant”

to you, would you be able to have a sense of what “plant” meant without access to a context that gave it meaning? The implications of this may seem trivial, but it comes down to whether or not we believe that meaning exists inside of what we say, or if meaning exists only in the external world of relationships. The human implications of this extend beyond mere language. If we map this model of language onto human relationships, we have the following dilemma: Do we, as people, have and intrinsic meaning and identity, or are we defined in terms of our external relationships? Do we make sense on our own, or do we need the context of other relationships to give us a coherent form of meaning and self? There are no clear answers to any of these questions, but it is important to consider the ways in which our contexts serve to construct and define us. Each person must decide for themselves to what extent they have an internal and intrinsic identity, and how heavily determined their identity is by the world they inhabit.

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2 Photo Attributions 1 Aria Burdon Dasbach 2,9 Henry DeMarco 3 Will Brinkerhoff 4,6 Annie Maguire 5,8 Sean Farkas 7 Carissa Lewis

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website : calibermag.net facebook : Caliber Magazine instagram : @calibermag

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Cover photo taken by KINCSO DOMICZI While Caliber is a part of the Associated Students of the University of California at Berkeley, the content of the magazine does not reflect the opinions of the ASUC in any way.


CALIBER MAGAZINE ISSUE 17 · FALL 2018

Profile for Caliber Magazine

Caliber Magazine - Issue 17  

Caliber Magazine - Issue 17