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VRNTSelects: Christine O’Hare

Christine O’Hare is a Cleveland based photographer from Bay Village, OH. O’hare studies commercial photography at Ohio University. Interested in fashion and portrait photography, the young artist is still developing her personal technique. She draws inspiration from other young photographers and the community of individuals in her field. 

Bay Village, OH

Christine O’Hare, 21

“What inspires me is that there are no limits to what I can create. I have the ability to use different forms, expressions, and concepts in my work to express myself and evoke emotion in my audience.” 

“Photography is an emotional device and when I take photographs I use the concepts and compositions to engage my audience and create a relationship with them.”

OHIO Alumnus Opens Cleveland Location of Big Mamma’s Burritos

Photo by Madison Kopp

By Madison Kopp, Blogger

Franchise co-owners Jerry DePizzo and Matt Crumpton opened the small chain restaurant Big Mamma’s Burritos in Athens, Ohio, in 2005. Big Mamma’s Burritos is a quick-serve burrito restaurant. DePizzo, originally from Youngstown, Ohio, is the guitarist and saxophone player for Ohio rock band O.A.R. (short for Of a Revolution). Crumpton, originally from Strongsville, Ohio, was an Ohio University alumnus. He is a lawyer and also was the previous owner, president and CEO of D.P. Dough, a fast food calzone franchise. In 2016, DePizzo and Crumpton opened a Big Mamma’s Burritos in downtown Columbus, Ohio, and in 2019, the pair opened a third location inside the Whistle and Keg Brewery in Downtown Cleveland, Ohio.

Over the summer, the Cleveland location was forced to shut down due to damages from protests that took place within the city. But the entrepreneurs weren’t easily deterred and used the unexpected closure as an opportunity to prove that their business is about more than just economic gain. On June 1, Big Mamma’s executives took to Facebook and wrote, “We can repair the glass. We can put new equipment in. Our hope is that our community grows from this as it begins to heal. Mamma will be back.” 

Photo from @bigmammasburritos on Instagram

Shortly after the protests, Crumpton and DePizzo began looking for open spaces to build and reopen a new Big Mamma’s Burritos franchise. The business opened its new Cleveland branch location on Nov. 13, in the Gordon Square Arts District. The area suffered from losing many businesses after the March shutdown due to COVID-19, but DePizzo and Crumpton have high hopes that it will be good for the community, according to an interview from The Land, a local Cleveland magazine.

Big Mamma’s offers a variety of food options such as burritos, bowls, nachos and salads. The menu may look overwhelming at first but it is actually quite simple. First, you pick your base — either a burrito, rice, nachos or salad. Next, you choose what type of style you would like, whether it be breakfast, vegan or loaded (complete with tater tots, sour cream, bacon and more)! It also offers a B.Y.O.B. (build your own burrito) where you can choose from a variety of veggies, proteins, cheese, salsas and a multitude of extras. 

This must-visit Cleveland eatery is open. for lunch, dinner and will even satisfy your late night cravings. Its hours are 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. Thursday through Saturday and 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Sundays. 

Bonus: One of the menu options that people may not know about is the Mega Mamma Challenge. The challenge costs $25 to participate, and you have one hour to finish a five-pound burrito that you build yourself. If you are able to complete the challenge you will receive your money back, an official mega mamma challenge champion t-shirt and a place on the Wall of Champions. There are currently only two champions who have completed the challenge. One completed the challenge at the Athens location in 20 minutes and the other completed the challenge at the Columbus location in 48 minutes. Will you be the next champion?

Why it is Important to Understand the Controversial History of Thanksgiving

By Maya Meade, Blogger

Every year, Thanksgiving comes and goes, a gluttonous amount of food is consumed and memories are made without people really thinking about why the holiday is celebrated in the first place — and why some people choose not to celebrate it at all. A lot of the Thanksgiving education received at a young age in the United States is not entirely accurate and is glorified to be a day of feasting shared between colonists and Native Americans. This is not exactly what happened.

It is true that The Mayflower indeed brought Pilgrims from England to North America where they landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620 and set up a colony. A year later, they celebrated a successful harvest with a three-day gathering and there were members of the Wampanoag tribe present. This harvest festival is understood to be the origin of modern day Thanksgiving.

In the 1830s, New Englanders looked back on the events and declared it the “first Thanksgiving” because it resembled their version of the holiday. Then in 1863, President Lincoln said the holiday was a sort of thank you for the Civil War victories in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. These two declarations of the “first Thanksgiving” are not quite accurate considering Native Americans and other European societies had been holding celebrations for successful harvests for centuries.

Illustrations by Macey Elder

In addition to the discrepancies of when the first Thanksgiving really happened, it has also transformed into a white-washed holiday scattered with cultural appropriation. Children are often educated on the history of Thanksgiving through reenacting the aforementioned harvest meal. Thus, they are often asked to recreate Native American headdresses and clothes out of cheap feathers and paper which results in large groups of non-Native children uniformed in a thoughtless interpretation of Native garments. Not only is it an injustice to inaccurately educate children on the Native American people of the country they live in, but it is also incredibly offensive to misrepresent and appropriate an entire culture. 

Similar to the controversy surrounding Columbus Day, it is often argued that Thanksgiving was founded on the basis of unjust colonization and genocide. The false narratives surrounding indigenous people in the United States are damaging for children to see and turns human beings and their culture into cheap costumes in the classroom for a few days leading up to the holiday. There is an ethical obligation for educators to continue to teach about the history of this country in an honest way that rejects the harmful stereotypes that have been placed on Native Americans for years.

On the Subject of Food Freedom During the Holidays: Q&A With Jennifer Rollin

Photo from theeatingdisordercenter.com

By Grace Dearing, Web Editor

With holiday gatherings largely centered around meals, this time of year can be incredibly intimidating and nerve-wracking for those who have a history of disordered eating. Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LCSW-C, founder of The Eating Disorder Center shares her tips on how to cope with that environment and support your loved ones:

Can you describe what disordered eating is and what it can look like?

Sure, disordered eating is essentially when you have an unhealthy relationship to food. So that can look like feeling shame or guilt after eating something, feeling like you need to compensate after eating something, feeling like you have to go to the gym or do a certain number of crunches or do other things to try to control your food intake. It can also look like binge eating or compulsive overeating. It can show up differently but often, some of the core underlying fears and issues are similar.

What is food freedom?

Illustration by Olivia Dutkewych

Food freedom is both being able to eat foods that you enjoy and to feel at peace with the food in the sense of giving yourself that unconditional permission to eat and to eat with attunement and mindfulness. I think the other element of it is freedom in your life. So, feeling more free and flexible with food and being adaptable. From my experience and my clients’ experiences, it enables you to have more spontaneity and joy overall in your life, and to really be present for important life moments. So it’s both about the food and changing your relationship to it and also about changing your relationship to life.

Why may the holidays be difficult for someone who is in recovery from an eating disorder or struggles with disordered eating?

Holiday meals are typically centered around the food; there’s often an abundance of food and potentially relatives and family members making comments on food and potentially on people’s weight. So I think that can be incredibly stressful for people in recovery, especially because it might be foods that they’re not eating as frequently, and things that feel scary or things that they’re afraid that they’re gonna binge on or compulsively overeat around. So I think it’s just a very triggering and stressful environment for a lot of people.

What advice or coping mechanisms can you suggest to those who are anxious about attending family meals?

Photo from @Jennifer_rollin on Instagram

I think, number one, having a buddy or support system, if possible. So, identifying somebody if you’re going to a gathering, who is going to be there who you can talk to, or who can distract you, or depending on your stage of recovery. [This person can] even plate your meal if you’re too anxious or struggling with that, and if there’s no one in person, having some friends that you can text. Diet culture is all around you so being able to vent to somebody who’s on the same page, as you I think, is really priceless. 

I think also coming up with a plan. So, if you have a treatment team or a therapist, discuss a plan in advance on how you can cope and specifically what your goal is around the food. So maybe your goal is to let yourself enjoy dessert, have some pumpkin pie, and to honor your hunger and have the second plate if you’re feeling hungry. Having some kind of goal in mind, not just of what you want to eat, but also how you want to feel. It’s important to focus both on the food and making sure you’re getting enough and eating foods that you enjoy and being able to shift focus to the conversation and things that you’re grateful for. 

How can friends and family be sure to support their loved ones who may be struggling?

I think refraining from diet talk, which can be things that people might not even realize are problematic, like saying, “I’m gonna have a treat tonight” or  “I’m going to treat myself with some pumpkin pie” or “I’m being so bad because I’m having pumpkin pie.” Refraining from diet talk or referring to foods in moral terms (good, bad, sinful, healthy, unhealthy) and refraining from making comments about weight, weight gain or commenting on other people’s bodies is important. Comments about food in that way and comments about bodies can be incredibly triggering to loved ones with eating disorders.

Why do you think this is such an important topic that people should be educated on?

I think diet culture is so insidious in our culture, that many people don’t even know about it, including people who identify themselves as somebody who is interested in fighting oppression. They might not even be familiar with diet culture, as well as some of the roots of it in systemic forms of oppression and I think that it’s so common yet so toxic, and so harmful, and can keep so many people trapped, and then for other folks with the genetic vulnerability can actually trigger or exacerbate disorders.

What is one thing you would emphasize to someone who is struggling?

I think the main thing is the importance of reaching out for help if you’re struggling, and this idea of basically anyone who struggles with a difficult relationship to food and their body is 100% “sick enough.” So if you’re thinking about Thanksgiving and feeling really stressed or thinking you’re going to feel really guilty around the food, then maybe that’s an indicator that you would benefit from seeking some professional help.

This Hyperpop Playlist Embraces Unconventional Musicians

By John Pierron, Executive Editor

As TikTok becomes one of the largest influences on pop culture, the power it holds on the music industry is undeniable. It’s a place where trends flourish and musicians can become an instant success overnight. One of these developments is the overall establishment of a distinct “hyperpop” genre. ​

Hyperpop is described as “experimental music that pushes pop themes and tropes to parody, with some dance/electronic undertones.” While mainstream media has shied away from giving hyperpop musicians airtime, TikTok has allowed these artists to expand their followings and play a key role in the foundation of this genre.

In this playlist you’ll find some of the most popular hyperpop musicians boosted on TikTok, as well as others who have yet to go viral by virtue of this influential social media platform. While this music may be unconventional, it has found a home in these corners of the internet (and this playlist) and we hope these songs filled with compelling sounds peak your interest.

Why You Should Give Back During Homelessness and Hunger Awareness Week

Illustrations by Macey Elder

By Emily Squance, Blogger 

Homelessness and hunger appear to go hand in hand but oftentimes they are a lot more independent than one would think. 1 in 8 Americans are food insecure, meaning they don’t have consistent access to food, which may affect their health and daily living. Many Americans can be food insecure without being homeless; however, sometimes they are forced to choose between the two. In fact, 57% have reported having to choose between food and housing

There are many people who rely on food stamps (SNAP) and local food pantries to guarantee their next meals; however, even those sometimes aren’t enough. Many families struggle to find food to put on the table, and sometimes the food they do find might do more harm than good. For many families, finding healthy food options can be hard due to high costs; 84% of households report buying the cheapest foods instead of healthy foods. National Hunger and Homelessness Week isn’t just about raising awareness for these issues but it’s also about actively taking responsibility for your part in the issue. Most of us are guilty of buying or making more food than we can eat and a recent study found that food waste accounts for approximately 30% to 40% of the food supply.

Homelessness, on the other hand, can occur in many forms. Some people can start “couch-surfing” at an early age, unable to find a reliable home. While others are forced to look toward the streets for shelter. In 2019, approximately 567,715 Americans experienced homelessness, and out of that number, around 200,000 Americans were left unsheltered. It’s easy to take for granted things that have been given to us throughout our whole lives, like owning a house or having a warm place to sleep at night, but something as simple as owning a home could be a matter of life or death. People who are homeless have a life expectancy of 20 years lower than people who have a home. 

Being homeless has negative impacts on all ages and genders, but it can have an everlasting impact on the youth. 1 in 3 homeless teens will be lured into prostitution within the first 48 hours of leaving home. Furthermore, those teens are also three times more likely to have depression, conduct disorder and PTSD. Homeless youth, particularly ones part of the LGBTQ community, are also frequently subjected to violence with 62% of LGBTQ youth reporting being physically harmed while homeless.

National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is important for many reasons, but in 2020, it is even more crucial. The coronavirus outbreak has affected these issues greatly by increasing food insecurity and putting many homeless people at risk. Since the pandemic, unemployment and poverty rates have gone up incredibly. Many of the homeless, particularly the unsheltered, are more vulnerable to the coronavirus considering they are four times more likely to report a physical health condition. Due to the pandemic, approximately 17 million children may not know where to get their next meals. 

The pandemic has negatively impacted many people across the U.S. but it’s important to reach out and help those in need. Use Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week to educate yourself on how to get involved with your local communities. Help be a part of the solution by volunteering and supporting anti-poverty agencies. Donating to organizations like Feeding America or the National Coalition for the Homeless could help many families everywhere who are struggling with hunger and homelessness. 

Many view Thanksgiving as a holiday for recognizing the things you’re thankful for. Throughout National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week and into Thanksgiving try to give back to those in need and remember a little help can go a long way.

Q&A With Evan Romansky, writer of Netflix’s “Ratched”

 

Photo from IMDB

By Madison Kopp, Blogger

Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, Evan Romansky found his passion for writing and creating while working for his school newspaper in high school. He graduated from Ohio University in 2013 and went on to study screenwriting at Loyola Marymount University, receiving his graduate degree in 2016. 

Now Romansky, 29, is the creator and co-executive producer of the Netflix Original Series “Ratched,” a psychological thriller based upon the character Nurse Ratched from the 1962 novel and later 1975 film, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

I had the honor of asking Romansky a few questions about his time at Ohio University, what has inspired him and how he has gotten to where he is now.

What did you study in undergrad at Ohio University?
I was a broadcast journalism major with a specialization in film studies. I worked on all of the WOUB shows such as Hardwood Heroes and Gridiron Glory. I really thought that it what I wanted to do but I quickly realized I didn’t exactly love being on camera. I was craving something a little more creative, which is when I came across screenwriting.

Photo from @ratchednetflix on Instagram

How did being in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism help you get to where you are now?
Being in Scripps was vital to getting me to this point. Even though I knew that a career in journalism wasn’t for me, I stuck with it and got my degree because I saw the benefits. Scripps taught me how to properly research and edit and then rewrite, rewrite and rewrite, which is what 90% of being a screenwriter is. There are so many similarities between the two professions which is why so many successful screenwriters have come from journalism backgrounds, most notably my “Ratched” showrunner, producer, director and mega hitmaker Ryan Murphy.

How and when did your script get noticed?
I wrote the script for my last semester of film school at Loyola Marymount University in 2016. As part of our graduation, LMU put on a pitch fest for Master of Fine Arts candidates. It was like speed dating with various producers, managers and assistants. My now manager, Jacob Epstein, found me through there. He loved another script of mine and asked what else I had, so I sent him “Ratched,” and we were off to the races. Luckily, he had the right connections and got the script first into the hands of Michael Douglas, who produced the original movie, so on and so on, then, ultimately Ryan Murphy attached Sarah Paulson to the idea and lastly set it up at Netflix.

What was the process behind writing the script? 
It was the same as the process on any other project I write. I wrote the script itself pretty quickly. I really was trying to write something with a recognizable title that agents and managers would be enticed to read. I always thought it’d be just a sample to hopefully get me representation. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I’d be able to get the rights to “Cuckoo’s Nest” and that it would end up being Netflix’s biggest original series debut of 2020.

What advice would you give to students who are interested in doing screenwriting?
Figure out the stories that you want to tell and why you’re the one to tell them. To really make it in this business, you need an absurd amount of luck, but that luck doesn’t mean anything if you’re not prepared for the opportunity. So write, write and write some more. Never put your eggs in one basket but in three, four or five baskets. Move to Los Angeles, it is where you have to be, especially if you want to work in TV.

What would you say to all current Ohio University students?
Athens is the most special place in the world. Cherish every second you have there because it is over in the blink of an eye. OU-Oh Yeah!

VRNTselects: Emma Dengler

Emma Dengler is a multimedia artist who creates her own unique designs. She works with digital art, ink, graphite, acrylic paint, charcoal, and even experiments with animation. Dengler is a 20-year-old Ohio University student from Harrison, OH. She aims to develop a solid style for her work 

Dengler hopes to influence her audience more than just visually. She implements specific themes intended to cause viewers to think. 

Harrison, Ohio

Emma Dengler, 20

“The theme used in my illustrations largely stem from existential curiosity and spirituality, so I would like my audience to become curious about those topics that may help them grow and learn about themselves,” Dengler said. 

She also feels a responsibility to create works that evoke positive emotions. Spreading joy is her primary goal. To Dengler, this is the biggest sign of success. 

“As someone who is healing from anxiety and depression on a regular basis, I feel a desire to spread joyous, empowering and peaceful messages to others. I want to use my skill set and passion to positively impact people emotionally and mentally.”

VRNTselects: Joe Watkins

Joe Watkins is a 21-year-old fashion enthusiast and model from Pittsburgh, PA. Watkins utilizes streetwear as a creative and artistic  outlet. Watkins is proud to produce his own unique content. 

Posts by John Pierron

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Joe Watkins, 21

“Especially as a black creative, I want to show young black kids, who have grown up being told they can’t or that they are not good enough or smart enough, that their minds are bright and amazing,” Watkins said. 

“I would l like to use my platform to be able to give back and support others. I would love to support small businesses and brands in their growth and, outside of streetwear and fashion, I would love to contribute and help toward black youth. As is very evident currently in society, black youth have it incredibly hard in the U.S. From seeing themselves criticized in the news or being brutalized by police, I want to help change that. I want to be able to help black youth be able to rise above the picture society paints, and create their own painting with their own canvas.”