Mar 192013

Author: Mary Willson


Matt “P-Mann” Mahern and Lindsey O’brien of the Lindsey O’brien Band play at the SpokesBUZZ showcase. SpokesBUZZ put together the Colorado Music Party at SXSW in Austin, bringing together thousands of Colorado musicans and fans to support eachother at the festival.


The pattern of Fort Collins life is threaded with the staples of a classic Colorado experience: outdoor beauty, local beer, original bikes, and home-based bands.

With venues such as Aggie, Hodi’s Half Note, Avogadro’s Number, Surfside, Mishawaka, it is no


Alana Rolfe of Fierce Bad Rabbit plays at the SpokesBUZZ showcase in Austin at SXSW. Fierce Bad Rabbit played multiple showcases over the week, and are alumni of SpokesBUZZ.

surprise that Fort Collins supports hundreds of homegrown bands.   With the jamming beats of locality also comes the responsibility of a celebratory community; which in the 970, there is no shortage of.

April kicks off with FoCoMX, leading into a summer of Beet Street festivities, and closing out with Bohemian Nights. Being an artist or band in town looks pretty good.

Yet, one of the most supportive outlets for local bands is a non-profit, volunteer-run music support and education organization, SpokesBUZZ.

“SpokesBUZZ raises global awareness of Fort Collins sound and culture by bringing worldwide attention to local bands,” according to the official mission.

“It has really two parts to it. In the big picture, it’s really a promotion engine for Fort Collins. Our job is to get the word out beyond our backyard about the great music scene we have here in Fort Collins, and on the grassroots level, help educate music and bands to be better in business,” said organization member, Julie Sutter. Sutter deals with communication and publicity for SpokesBUZZ as well as runs her own communication company, Unconventional Ink. “One of the things that we try to foster is ‘ look how much you can do together.’”

Only on its fourth year, the organization has fostered positivity in dozens of bands, as each goes through a program, in about two years. The current class envelopes 11 bands. As a SpokesBUZZ band, monthly seminars take place to learn the ins-and-outs of business, marketing, and other valuable skills needed to create a long lasting, successful band.

“You go from being kind of a garage band, to being a band that has a platform to actually do something. To me, its kind of a ticket to somewhere,” said James Yearling, singer, electric guitarist, co-writer and management of the band Better Than Bacon, a current SpokesBUZZ band. “We want to be advocates to SpokesBUZZ. Part of the bands’ role is honestly to be an advocate for our community and to keep the reputation high, and so outside of all the fun, there is a level of responsibility that all the bands really enjoy.”

James Yearling jams on his electric guitar with his band Better Than Bacon at SXSW in Austin.

James Yearling jams on his electric guitar with his band Better Than Bacon at SXSW in Austin.

The music incubator is a collaborative effort that brings forward all aspects of the community, outside of just musicians. Fans feel invested to SpokesBUZZ because the shows, events, and bands represent something bigger than just the music.

Dani Grant started the organization, and she also runs the Mishawaka and Chippers Lanes. The organization is supported through volunteer driven leadership, communication, skills and forte, and funded by community initatives such as New Belgium and Crowd Funding.

“What makes Fort Collins unique is that everyone is very humble, which is really exceptional to see,” said Chris Anderson of Fierce Bad Rabbit, an alumni of SpokesBUZZ. “People do it because they like it. Everyone is very supportive, yet everyone’s doing their own thing.”

As the bands headed off to South By South West (SXSW) in the middle of March, they are making their fifth journey into a mega-music sea, to promote the locality of Fort Collins. The beginnings of the organizations stem from SXSW, a mega festival, of over 128,000 attendees, according to

“One of the things that we’ve discovered by going to Austin, it kind of feels like you’re a little fish in a big pond, but we’ve been able to bring so much of the community, beyond the music,” Sutter said. “What’s different about this year, we’ve actually made really great connections with the Denver community. It’s overwhelming, so you look for this connection, so the Colorado people gravitate to each other.”

This year, over a thousand Colorado-affiliated, music-passioned people are teaming up with SpokesBUZZ to celebrate Colorado music together through an official Colorado Music Party collaboration at SXSW, showing the progression from its first year of Fort Collins jamming out in Austin.

“At SXSW, it is just positive exposure for Fort Collins. I think a lot of people don’t realize what an amazing music base we have here,” said Nick Duarte, vocals and guitarists for Post Paradise. “It is really a team effort and everyone is working for the same goal, and they take it to Austin and say ‘hey look world, this is us.’”

The year ahead is fresh with SXSW SpokesBUZZ showcase behind, and a whole new journey to learn, explore and grow on. A new season for SpokesBUZZ is ahead, as a new class of bands is soon to join the team.

SpokesBUZZ puts on collaborative concerts, as well as supports the band’s and artist’s individual performances, so when the chance arises to check out a local band involved with this organization, a  larger picture is supported: the pattern that makes Fort Collins unique.

The threads of Fort Collins music are growing rapidly, and it is the responsibility of the community to keep this exciting pattern unfolding.

“Fort Collins does have a story to tell,” Sutter said. “When people hear ‘Colorado’, they may not think about Fort Collins, but that is changing.”

For more info on SpokesBUZZ, head over to


Golden rules to holiday giving for the pocket and the environment

 Features, Goods & Gear, The Well  Comments Off on Golden rules to holiday giving for the pocket and the environment
Nov 212012

Author: Mary Willson

Samantha Beck, Sophomore shows off her table made of caps, which her and her house-mates have been working on for about three months.

Samantha Beck, Sophomore shows off her table made of caps, in which she has glued them onto plywood to make a Colorado flag.

The holiday season many times forces college students out of their natural habitat of cheap food, simple amenities and an overall minimalistic existence. This no-fuss way of life is often times not a conscious lifestyle preference, yet of financial limitations. Concert tickets, road-trip gas and ski-lift tickets seem to become a priority over new socks, a full refrigerator and nice things.

Yet, as the December migration out of Fort Collins and into ones respected hometown for the five-week hibernation period rolls around, a shift must take place. One may find themselves being forced to wear polo’s, small talk with out-of-touch relatives and associate with high school friends they do not miss. And worst of all—being forced to buy stuff as holiday presents, because it is expected.

There are many ways this is hard. One, financially; that extra dough spent on your sister could be used for a New Year’s adventure. Two, what to get; it seems as if your mom doesn’t need another scarf or necklace, yet the big stuff like the latest culinary device is out of your reach. Third, it seems wasteful; joining the hype of more stuff is fun, until wondering if any of those nick-knacks were really needed.

As a way to decrease the initial and long term harm of the holiday-present-blues, there are basic rules for no-harm Holiday presents. For you, and our landfills.

We all have things at our apartment, dorm or parents house that we do not use. Something you can hand off to bring happiness to someone else fulfills the golden rule of re-using.

An example of this gem is making a unique pen-jar, coffee-mug, or vase—all from your kitchen. Grab an old mason jar—this is the foundation. Then, in a mixing bowl add one part flour, two parts water, three tablespoons of salt and mix. There is your glue. Next, find some vintage magazine advertisements, awesome photos, and black-and white newspaper print and hold them onto the jar. Paint the glue over it with your hands or a brush and let it dry. This is perfect for a mom who is sentimental, and it’s virtually free to make.

The next way to be a unique present giver is to make something old into something awesome, or to renew. Take that old pair of I Phone ear buds and use hemp, bright string or basically anything else you can weave together to cover the headphone cords. By following basic hemp rules (and the wonders of Google to learn) you have created a unique, impressive, lasting gift for a sibling that loves music.

We all hear about recycling day in and day out. The basis of recycling is easy: one product being made into another product.  All those beverages you consume, of the 21-and-over categories—that’s right, your beer caps and cans can be made into a useful and creative table. For those lucky nights when you indulge in a bottled beverage, save the lid, then use a hot-glue gun and a magnet (both can be found relatively cheap at a craft store) to create a fridge decoration for your best friend’s apartment fridge.

After engaging the creative mind and impressing your family and friends, you can sit back and realize all of the holiday-waste you have mitigated. A pound of plastic takes 24 gallons of water to produce according to, and a single plastic cup takes 50 to 80 years to decompose according to Along with being on your way to a New Year’s adventure, hitting the slopes or back in the good-ol-Foco, you have also had a positive impact on water use and waste with these gift ideas.

Best of CSU: Tasty Harmony reveals how taste and health are intertwined

 Features, The Well  Comments Off on Best of CSU: Tasty Harmony reveals how taste and health are intertwined
Oct 302012

Author: Mary Willson

Erica Wilson, Junior Environmental Engineering and International Studies major talks to diners at Tasty Harmony after they finished their meal. Located between Mason and Oak, the restaurant won “CSU’s Best Vegetarian Restaurant”.

Erica Wilson, junior environmental engineering and international studies major talks to diners at Tasty Harmony after they finished their meal. Located between Mason and Oak, the restaurant won Best of CSU for Best Vegetarian Restaurant. Photo by Mary Wilson

Agave nectar, cashew cheese, goji berries, irish moss and jackfruit may seem like foreign and non-edible fantasies out of a story book, yet between Oak and Mason, Tasty Harmony brings out true magic through creating healthy yet delicious meals using these unique foods.

“We really cater to any tricky diet,” said Erica Wilson, junior environmental engineering and international studies student. “You could call it vegan comfort food.” Wilson has been a server at the restaurant since last spring.

Through a plant-based menu, Tasty Harmony provides a positive eating experience to vegetarians, vegans, health conscious eaters and individuals whom have unique dietary restrictions.

“I love the atmosphere, and the food too,” Willson said. She is allergic to whey protein, which means she has to stick to a non-dairy diet. “I find myself only eating here sometimes it seems like. I’ve learned what I can supplement with. Its inspired me to experience within my own cooking at home.”

Through Tasty Harmony, she has discovered cashew milk, which is also created as a cheese substitute, used in many meals, such as nachos and the stuffed burrito on the menu.

“I was a vegetarian for six years and found it to be very challenging at times when I would go out to eat with friends or family and had limited choice on the menu,” said Taryn Gawronski, junior social work student. “Tasty Harmony brings relief to this problem because I could eat vegetarian while the people I was dining with also enjoyed their meal. Even people who aren’t vegetarian can appreciate it.”

LeAnn Knutson, senior Environmental Communication major fills water glasses in anticipation for the dinner rush at Tasty Harmony, between Mason and Oak. The restaurant won “CSU’s Best Vegetarian Restaurant.”

LeAnn Knutson, senior environmental communication major, fills water glasses in anticipation for the dinner rush at Tasty Harmony. Photo by Mary Wilson.

With menu items like the Pulled BBQ Jack Fruit Sandwich—a natural spin on the original pulled BBQ sandwich, the Kentucky Fried Freedom—mock fried chicken with mashed potatoes, or the Bigboy Burger—a black bean and rice patty made into vegetarian-burger perfection, Tasty Harmony creates natural alternatives to many traditionally non-natural, meat-focused or dairy-filled meals.

“Its nice to know the food they are making back there has a passion and a purpose,” said LeAnn Knutson, senior environmental communication major. “The menu is being created with health and well being in mind and not just a bun slapped down to make money.” Knutson has been a server at the restaurant for a year and a half.

Along with serving food that is positive for the body, Tasty Harmony supports mainly local businesses for their ingredients. From vegetables from Grant Family Farms, the wellington-based organic farm, organic chai from Fort Collins based Café Richesse, and only local bakeries for their breads, cookies and desserts; the profit made at the restaurant is readily circulated back into Northern Colorado, according to Knutson. For all of the over-21 restaurant guests, the beer on tap includes only local Fort Collins beers in addition to Asher Brewery in Boulder, which is the only organic brewery in Colorado. In accordance to wine, the selection is purely from organic and sustainable vineyards. All of the supported businesses are featured in the restaurants menu.

“I think to be a successful restaurant in Fort Collins, you have to know and understand the community,” Gawronski said. “Fort Collins is big on organic and local support, Tasty Harmony is as well. When you have a restaurant that understands the community it serves, then it can be successful.”

Through healthy options, organic support and a vegetarian menu—some traditional diners may wonder what the draw is to alternative ingredients compared to a standard meat-and-milk meal experience.

“We get grown men coming in here kicking and screaming being brought in with their wives or girlfriends. They make awkward comments,” Knutson said. “Then they order the Jackfruit BBQ Sandwich or something and they are in heaven and are sold because they are more than just a vegetarian plate.”

For those budget crunching students, the lunch specials everyday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. give a way for everyone to experience the menu for around $7. The restaurant is open until 9 p.m. on weekdays, and until 10 p.m. on weekends. A special winter menu is in the works, complete with winter-available vegetables bringing in additional items such as a loaded stuffed yam, said Knutson.

The next time Saturday night rolls around and microwavable mac-and-cheese just doesn’t sound quite right—grab a little exercise walking to this great location for a healthy and satisfying meal. With no environmental and body-bearing guilt, this vegetarian dining experience won’t leave any herbivore or carnivore devourer searching for more.

“I think sometimes there is a stigma because someone hears vegetarian or vegan and people aren’t willing to try the food,” Wilson said. “But it’s important to remember it’s good tasting at the same time. Its just good food.”