ELEVATED | Pinheads, Purshia tridentata, and Ginger and Rosa
by Leslie Vreeland
May 16, 2013 | 2236 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
PINHEADS, PIXELLATED  – The Pinhead Institute holds its annual fundraiser, entitled Minecraft Mania,at the Sheridan Opera House this Sunday, May 19. (Courtesy photo)
PINHEADS, PIXELLATED – The Pinhead Institute holds its annual fundraiser, entitled Minecraft Mania,at the Sheridan Opera House this Sunday, May 19. (Courtesy photo)

Pin-head (pin hed)


1)    The flattened head of a pin.

2)    (informal) a stupid or foolish person.


In other places in the world, a pinhead may be considered a fool. In Telluride, the meaning of Pinhead might be closer to One Lucky Bugger. For 13 years, Telluride’s Pinhead Institute has offered free science programs year-round to school kids in this community. It was founded with the idea of exposing rural youth to some of the great scientific minds in the world. This it has done, by sending kids off to internships at the Smithsonian Institute; or MIT; or the Marine Science Institute at U.C. Santa Barbara, to take three recent examples. Pinhead also brings notable scientists, and scientific projects, to the region. It hosts a Stargazing Series each summer with a resident astronomer, most recently from the Lowell Observatory, and offers Pinhead Punk Science courses to teach kids about atomic reactions, chemistry and physics – subjects that may not sound cool, but through the use of bottle rockets and other sulfurous exotica, Pinhead’s perpetrators (as they might put it) make smartly entertaining.

Pinhead is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute and has won numerous awards (for a complete list, see its website); it has grown steadily over the past five years, and last year hosted programs involving more than 5,000 participants. Yet for all that, of course, it continues to need donations to help it keep growing. 

This Sunday, Pinhead is holding a benefit at the Sheridan Opera House entitled Minecraft Mania, for kids as well as adults. Minecraft is a game that has never been commercially advertised, yet has become tremendously popular for the creative freedom it allows participants to design, explore, and thrive in a blocky, Lego-like world. From 1-5 p.m., the kids can play Mine-A-Thon, QuickBuild and Pre-Build, all of which will be projected on the Sheridan’s big screen. From 5-7 p.m., the doors, and the bar, will open to parents and other adults, but the kids can stay: cash prizes will be awarded to Minecraft winners. There will also be a silent auction. The monies raised will go to fund Pinhead’s Stargazing Series, No School Science Projects, and more. Pinhead prides itself on helping teach kids, but sometimes adults learn a thing or two courtesy of the Institute, too. 

On Tuesday afternoon, its Executive Director Sonchia Jilek was torn between her own worlds – one of preparing for this weekend’s fundraiser, and another of relocating to Pinhead’s new headquarters at the base of Lift 7. “We’re just moving in, and it’s been kind of crazy,” she said. There was also the matter of familiarizing herself with the game of Minecraft, something she had been working on. Pinhead’s programs appeal to one’s sense of wonder, and Jilek had it in her voice as she said, “I am learning this whole new lingo.”  For more on the Pinhead Institute and its fundraiser, visit pinheadinstitute.org.


Film in Telluride


On Friday night, viewers who take in Ginger and Rosa will be treated to some remarkable acting. It screens at the Palm.


The film, an official selection of the Telluride, New York and Toronto film festivals, is a coming-of-age story about a pair of teens in the 1960s. It is set in London, and directed by Sally Potter (Orlando), who gets the period details just right. The young actresses – Alice Englert as Rosa and, especially, Elle Fanning as Ginger – nail their parts. “Nearly everything here has the ring of truth,” critic A.O. Scott wrote in the New York Times. “Ms. Fanning, who is younger than her character, shows a nearly Streepian mixture of poise, intensity and technical precision. It is frightening how good she is and hard to imagine anything she could not do. What she does here is convey the inner life of a girl witnessing and undergoing tumultuous changes.” Between them, the two actresses “illuminate an intimate, volatile cosmos.” The film is rated PG-13. Show time is 6 p.m.



Spring Flowers Near Dove Creek


The San Juan Four Corners Native Plant Society, a botany-advocacy group that offers wildflower walks in and around our mountains, has a leisurely one planned for this weekend. The group will take a trip to Five Springs Farm near Dove Creek – property owned by Mike and Mona Price and situated at the edge of Monument Canyon. “There was a pair of Cooper’s Hawks down there the other day,” Mike Price reported from a perch on his porch. “Probably a pair of young squawking for food.”

Oh, yes. There’ll be plenty of birds to see as well as flowers. Yellow-rumped warblers, White-crowned sparrows, Blue-gray gnatcatchers, vireos…Price rattled them off. But this walk is mostly about the plants and the long views. Bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata) and Squaw Apple (Peraphyllum ramosissimum) are both in bloom right now, sweet smelling and abundant on Price’s property. Brilliant penstemons, in shades of red and violet. Al Schneider, the plant society’s president, has compiled a list of flora he has observed at Five Springs. It includes more than 125 varieties. “It should be a beautiful walk,” Price said. “Not a long one, though. And all are welcome.” The Prices will supply water. Pack a lunch, sunblock, and something to wear in case of rain. The walk, more like an amble, really, takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 or 3 p.m.  “A hand lens is almost requisite to see flora up-close,” Price said, “and Al Schneider will have these to loan to everybody.” The walk is free. E-mail fivespringsfarm@ftitel.net or call Mike and Mona at 970/560-4538 for information and reservations. To learn more about the Plant Society, and much more about the flora of this region, visit swcoloradowildflowers.com. 

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