Notre Dame’s Department of Economics wants students to know they have the world’s largest economics tailgate. The Department of Economics has spent every home football Saturday offering a tailgate for its majors and other students that want to attend. Evans and Sims said the tailgates begin between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. and generally take place south of Notre Dame Stadium in the Joyce Center parking lot. Evans and Sims organize the tailgates and send out an e-mail to the staff and students in the department to advertise. “I think that it’s unique in that we have near universal participation among faculty members in this department,” Sims said. “It’s also unique because we have a flag.” Sims said he sees the department tailgate as something more than a game day event. “[The purpose of the tailgates] is to bring the Department together as a family and to unite together in our support of our University and our football team,” he said. “I think our Department is unique in that everyone gets along well and we’re all committed to the department succeeding and the University as a whole succeeding.” Although other University departments including the Investment Office, The Center for Culture and Ethics and the Alliance for Catholic Education also host tailgates for their members, Sims said his department’s tailgate is different. “We like grilled meat,” said professor of economics Bill Evans. The economics tailgates offer its attendees burgers, brats and pulled pork sandwiches and games of cornhole. Assistant Professor of Economics Kasey Buckles designed the flag, which is bright yellow with the phrase “Supplying Spirit, Demanding Victory.” The Department started its tailgates two years ago as a means to meet colleagues’ families but became an annual event during the 2009 season. Each home game tailgate draws in an average of 50 to 75 people, most of whom are department faculty members, their families or their friends. Occasionally, former students who are in town for the games will stop by and participate at the tailgate as well, Eric Sims, professor of economics, said. Sims said members from the Department of Economics now get together to watch the away games as well. Evans said he hopes that, in the future, a donor will endow the tailgates. However, he is happy with the current state of the tailgates: good food in a good environment for the faculty members and their families to spend time together. “We enjoy that almost as much as we enjoy winning, but our demand for victory has exceeded the supply,” Sims said.
On March 1, 1961, University President Emeritus Fr. Theodore Hesburgh encountered two friends as they ran across LaFayette Square in Washington, D.C., to “the boss’ office.” The two men, Sargent Shriver and Harris Wofford, were bringing an executive order to President John F. Kennedy for him to approve the creation of a Peace Corps. Kennedy signed the order that day. Tuesday marked the 50th anniversary of the corps’ formation. “I knew [the Peace Corps] from the beginning,” Hesburgh said on the anniversary. “I was present during the creation.” Hesburgh and Shriver, the newly appointed director of the program, spent that first evening in 1961 planning the Peace Corps’ first project over the phone. As the anniversary of that initial conversation passed, Hesburgh reflected on the role Notre Dame played in the program’s beginning. “We trained the first Peace Corps volunteers at Notre Dame that summer in June, July and August,” he said. “In the fall they went down to Chile in a boat and began two years of service … Notre Dame has the distinction of having the first Peace Corps that got into the field.” Notre Dame hosted the first group of Peace Corps volunteers as they trained for their two years of service. The volunteers spent eight weeks on Notre Dame’s campus, Hesburgh said. They took courses in Spanish, Latin American history, political science and social improvement. Hesburgh was closely involved with the volunteers as they trained on campus. “I was their teacher and their mentor because I put the program of training together,” he said. “I met with them every day. I took care of many of their early problems. So I was like the father or counselor for the first Peace Corps volunteers in the world.” The 40 volunteers worked along the central valley of Chile with campesinos, or farm people, in the region. “We were taking kids from a rich country like the United States to countries that were very poor, and that was quite an adjustment to get them to understand what they were walking into and what they could do to help them,” he said. “They helped them with farming and with building their houses and with a whole wide range with upgrading socially, these very poorest people in Chile.” Hesburgh continued to advise Shriver as the Peace Corps grew. After five years, he said the small program grew to over 200 sites around the world. “I was in their office in Washington very often giving them advice on project and helping them develop the Peace Corps in its early years,” he said. “I was involved very heavily the first five years, when Sargent Shriver was going to get started.” Kennedy began the program on “a temporary, pilot basis,” in 1961. Fifty years later, 8,655 volunteers are stationed around the world. “I think it is important to look back on the Peace Corps because it was one of the Kennedy experiments that really stood the test of time and did much good to many people, many nations all over the world,” Hesburgh said. “That is not just Peace Corps but that is Notre Dame’s mission too. That is why we fit in so well with the Peace Corps. To this day we have people volunteering for Peace Corps.” The University is currently ranked 18th among medium-sized universities producing Peace Corps volunteers. Hesburgh said the connection between Notre Dame and the Peace Corps runs deeply into the University’s mission. “We have a student body that even during college years helps all over the place in social action programs like tutoring or working with the poor,” he said. “It is a natural fit with Peace Corps. We have students who are both intelligent and generous, and some are good in languages, and all of that helps with Peace Corps.” Twenty-five Notre Dame graduates currently serve among the 200,000 Peace Corps volunteers around the world. “[The Peace Corps] fits in exactly with Notre Dame and its goals. We train people to work for social justice,” Hesburgh said. “This was a question of going into an unjust world, a world in economic imbalance between the very rich and the very poor and somehow bridging over and helping the poor move up in life by having better confidence as farmers or workers.” The Peace Corps is currently engaged in 77 countries. Hesburgh said he visited Peace Corps sites whenever possible as he traveled around the world on other business and met many volunteers over the years. “It was a wonderful feeling of generosity on the part of these young people who were willing to give up two years of their lives after they graduated college,” he said. “They could have gone out and made money, and instead they went into the Peace Corps where they made practically nothing but served the poor all over the world.”
The sharper reflection on Notre Dame’s football helmets in the sunlight is not the only cutting-edge development featuring light technology on campus. Sponsored by the Department of Energy, a team of Notre Dame researchers led by Professor Prashant Kamat is currently engineering a type of paint that can generate electricity upon exposure to light. Kamat, who is working with graduate students James Radich and Ian Lightcap, said his work to harness the electric potential of the sun’s rays has been a long time coming. “We’ve been conducting solar photochemistry research for more than two decades,” Kamat said. Radich said the idea for the use of sunlight as a primary source of energy compelled the researchers to pursue this elusive possibility. “The number of surfaces available that are impinged upon by sunlight on a daily basis makes a technology such as paint very attractive,” he said. Kamat said the fundamental principle of developing the paint was to utilize the special conducive properties of various metals. “This project includes a whole array of semiconductors, such as silicon, cadmium and telluride, which are currently employed in solar cells,” said Kamat. “The paint’s semiconductors absorb light and generate charge carriers that are tapped in photovoltaic cells to generate electricity.” Though he and his team have made great strides in cultivating the paint, Kamat said his work in maximizing the product’s quality is far from over. “So far what we’ve shown is a proof of concept, which is only the first of a four-phase step in scientific discovery,” Kamat said. “We need to boost the paint’s efficiency to more than five percent, but the external funding support and the research progress will determine the duration of product development.” Lightcap said his team needs more time to fully develop its discovery. “We optimistically estimate that development of the paint into a product with competitive efficiency and stability will take a few years to a decade to reach fruition,” he said. “We are confident that a few of our Notre Dame undergrads working on this and related projects will make the next breakthrough.” Kamat said their research has yielded a product with incredible properties, naming the paint “Sun-Believable.” “A large number of people still do not believe that solar energy is a viable energy alternative that could become part of our energy portfolio,” he said. “However, the facts contradict this opinion. The food that we eat comes from the conversion of sunlight into carbohydrates, and the fossil fuels that we use today are stored energy from the Sun. The simplicity of the approach in this work highlights the cause.” Kamat added the development of the paint represents a leap into the largely untapped well of renewable energy. “Many efforts are needed to attain sustainable energy,” he said. “There is no single silver bullet to meet our clean energy demand, so we also need to consider various alternatives to oil and coal, such as wind power, hydropower, biomass and geothermal energy.” Lightcap said this work has given him hope for a future of cleaner forms of energy. “Our work is the first step in right direction toward setting our sights on renewable energy forms that are accessible to everyone,” he said. “Transforming the costly and time-intensive construction of solar cells into a simple, paint-like approach is one direction we can take to achieve that goal.”
Several Notre Dame students traded the golden dome for the Capitol dome to intern in Congressional offices over the summer, while others worked in district offices throughout the country. The Washington Post reported between 20,000 and 40,000 interns descended on Washington, D.C., during the summer months. The 535 Congressmen hire sets of interns to contribute to daily office operations, ranging from a single intern to as many as 15 in their D.C. offices, with similarly sized staffs in district offices. Senior political science major Alex Bowman was one of the interns in the D.C. office of Rep. Joe Donnelly, where he said he worked on both substantive and clerical tasks. “My daily tasks included answering phones, checking voicemail messages, sorting emails, leading tours around the Capitol building and doing independent research for some of the more specific constituent requests. … Generally, [the interns] just did what needs to be done,” Bowman said. Bowman said the tasks assigned to the interns each presented unique challenges. “It was nerve-wracking. … In all honesty when you pick up the phone as a Congressional intern, you are the vocal representative of your boss, the member of Congress,” Bowman said. “You have to keep in mind that every word that you say the constituent will construe to be his, which is a scary thought.” Donnelly’s participation in the contest for the Indiana Senate seat prompted a greater number of calls from constituents, Bowman said. “People call all the time about the election, and because Joe is moving from a district to a statewide office, he gets people from all over the state asking questions,” Bowman said. Sophomore political science major Colin O’Shea interned in Sen. Richard Durbin’s Chicago office with the press team, where reading the morning paper was part of his job each day. “Every morning, I would read The Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun Times and state papers looking for any news relevant to [Durbin] or any news that mentioned his name,” O’Shea said. “I’d send on a list of the news clips to the press secretary in Illinois, who forwarded it to the D.C. office.” O’Shea said he also helped to plan Durbin’s press conferences when the senator returned to Chicago. “I would call the reporters and tell them about the conferences, distribute the media releases and tape the actual conferences for the website,” O’Shea said. The primary difference between the state office and the D.C. office is that Chicago handles constituent casework while D.C. handles policy issues, O’Shea said. “We have caseworkers that handle all the constituency-based things, trouble with a utility or government agency, something service-based,” O’Shea said. “Anything policy related would be directed to the D.C. office.” O’Shea said he appreciated the chance to gain insight into the life of one of his elected officials. “It humbles you, to realize that even the senator can’t do everything that he wants to do,” O’Shea said. “The senator legitimately tries his best to serve the constituents and make people happy, but none of them are perfect and it’s hard to make everyone happy.” Sophomore political science and peace studies major Pat Roemer interned for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi this past summer, who he said has a personal appreciation for Notre Dame. “When I walked into the room to say hello to the leader, the first thing she asked me was where I go to school,” Roemer said. “When I said that I go to Notre Dame, she said, ‘Oh I love Father Ted Hesburgh. He’s a great man.’” Roemer said he appreciated opportunities during his internship to hear different viewpoints on the major issues, particularly foreign affairs. “I attended primarily hearings at the House Judiciary Committee and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations,” Roemer said. “But I also was able to go outside the Capitol to get some more biased viewpoints, which was certainly different. … The hearings can be biased and partisan, but off the hill they have agendas that they want to promote.” His daily tasks ranged widely depending on whether or not the House was in session, Roemer said. “Some days when the house wouldn’t be in session, I’d be running trying to find a stapler, but other days I’d be running to drop off something on the [House] floor, running to Fed-Ex down the street, researching specific pieces of legislation, depending on what’s going on,” Roemer said. Roemer said his time on the Hill has infected him with a desire to return to the fast-paced world of politics. “I definitely want to be up on the hill, whether it’s after graduation, running for office or just holding doors for the people who walk into the House and Senate galleries,” Roemer said. “I’ve got the disease. It’s a sickness, this Washington thing. I want to be there.”
Suit up: The Winter Career Fair will bring potential employers to the Joyce Center today to network with Notre Dame students. This event, which will last from 4 to 8 p.m., is open to all students. According to Go Irish, the University’s Career Center site, 146 firms will be attending the event. They will represent a variety of industries, from healthcare IT, financial, nonprofit, accounting, engineering, marketing, government, higher education, consumer product, sales and other industries. Kevin Monahan, assistant director at the Career Center, said he is unaware of other career fairs with such immense opportunities like the University’s. “I don’t know of any other career fair that will offer the diversity of employment and internship opportunities as the Winter Career and Internship Fair [today],” he said. Monahan said Acco Brands, Cerner, Liquidity Services, SAP, Catholic Charities, Jarden Home Brands, Lutron, Nuveen and Greenlee Textron are all new organizations that will be attending the fair this semester. Thirty-five employers will be interviewing potential student hires the day after the fair and many others will be returning later in the semester, Monahan said. Prior to the Winter Career and Internship Fair will be the Diversity Reception from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. in the Monogram Room in the Joyce Center. According to the Career Center website, the Diversity Reception was “created as a venue for organizations that embrace diversity to connect with students through networking, has continued to grow in participation. The site also advertises the numerous participants in last year’s reception. “Over 150 students participated, along with more than 200 recruiters representing over 100 organizations,” the website stated. “We have a four-part blog series available at irishcareerman.wordpress.comthat provides tips on preparing for the career fair,” Monahan said. “The series contains steps on how to prepare for the fair, best utilize one’s time at the fair, steps to take after the fair and common mistakes.” Visit Go Irish to view the most current list of employers.
Sophomore Claire Bleecker had an idea to create the first Saint Mary’s Poetry Club this year because she wanted to discuss new and different poetry with her fellow students. Now, her idea is starting to catch on. “There wasn’t a poetry outlet at all at Saint Mary’s … I’m sort of ignorant when it comes to poetry and I wanted to learn more about it and the club is forcing me to learn more about it,” Bleecker said. Bleecker said the club meets at Dalloway’s Clubhouse on Sundays at 6 p.m. She said she sends out a weekly theme via email before every meeting. “This week’s theme will be Irish poetry, last week it was imagery poetry and the first week was pick your favorite poet,” she said. Bleecker said she starts the meetings by introducing the theme and why it is relevant to the group. One by one, each member reads a short summary of her chosen poet’s life and then reads a selected piece. Club members discuss the meaning of the poem afterward and then the next person reads until everyone has read, she said. “It’s very intimate,” Bleecker said. “I think it’s easier to understand the poetry when the group reads it together.” Bleecker said she has big plans for this year’s meetings, including a William Butler Yeats night. Saint Mary’s professor Sr. Rosalind Clark will be a guest speaker that night to help the group discuss some of Yeats’s famous poems, Bleecker said. “I am also planning on having a poetry of the world night where I will bring in people to read from different countries to read poetry in their native language so that the night will be about listening to the sounds and rhythms, even if you don’t understand it, of the native language,” she said. Bleecker said one member in particular was excited to join the club because she had been introduced to authors such as Emily Dickinson and John Keats at her school, but now she has much more access to poetry that she would not have had in her home country. Bleecker also said the member was eager to learn about new poetry and the other member’s favorite poems. “And I felt the same way,” she said. “I’m going to be introduced to all these new things. I’m excited that other people are excited about poetry because I didn’t think they were going to be. I’m excited that other people are excited.”
For Saint Mary’s Heritage Week, the Student Government Association (SGA) and the Alumnae Relations Committee (ARC) have scheduled a week of events that honor and share the history of Saint Mary’s. Vice chair of the ARC Kayse McGough said Heritage Week is a great time to celebrate what makes Saint Mary’s so unique. “Saint Mary’s has such a rich heritage that has been preserved throughout campus, through the Sisters of the Holy Cross and through our vast network of alumnae,” McGough said.SGA Missions Committee co-chair Lydia Lorenc said this week on campus is special because it’s a way for students to learn how the College’s mission statement came about. “It exposes students to the rich history of our founders,” Lorenc said. “One goal of our committee is to promote the College’s mission statement.”On Monday, the SGA and the ARC will host teas at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. in Riedinger house. Students will listen to some background information on Saint Mary’s heritage, given by members of the alumnae office.Tuesday is the Father Moreau Dinner in the dining hall. The dinner will be followed by a panel of brothers and sisters who will share their stories about entering the religious life with the Congregation of Holy Cross. The panel will take place in the Warner conference room in the student center from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.On Wednesday at 3 p.m. and Thursday at 10 a.m., there will be a heritage tour with Sister Catherine Osimo at the Church of Loretto. Students will take a tour and further discuss the Congregation of Holy Cross. At 7 p.m. Wednesday there will be an alumnae mixer with local alumnae at the Riedinger House. McGough said the mixer is a new event.“I’m really excited for this event because meeting and connecting with Alumnae is really fun,” McGough sad. “They’re all incredibly kind, wise, and poised women.”Thursday evening, the SGA and the ARC will host the annual Heritage dinner, open to junior and senior students.Heritage Week concludes on Friday with “Thank You Notes to Sisters,” in which students have the opportunity to thank the the sisters for their dedication to the religious life. The event will take place in the student center atrium from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.McGough said she hopes the Saint Mary’s student body takes advantage of this week and the opportunities it provides.“Heritage week is an awesome way to learn new things about Saint Mary’s, celebrate timeless traditions and connect with the broader Saint Mary’s community,” McGough said.Lorenc said she expects this week will be valuable and informative to the Saint Mary’s community.“I hope that throughout this week students can gather a greater appreciation for our wonderful school and work and live out the mission of Saint Mary’s College,” Lorenc said. Tags: Heritage Week, Holy Cross Sisters, saint mary’s
Anna Mason | The Observer Susan K. Wood delivered a lecture highlighting the efforts Pope Francis has made to increase unity throughout his life.Wood said there are a number of repeating motifs throughout the Pope’s writings that relate to ecumenical relationships — namely the themes of dialogue, encounter, journey, the model of unity as a reconciled diversity and the ecumenism of blood.The dialogue of ecumenism, Wood said, can be considered “an encounter and conversation, a speaking and a listening between partners.” Each partner speaks from his or her own perspective of the world, and offers a unique context to be considered by the receptive party, she said.“A successful ecumenist engaged in dialogue can articulate the partner’s perspective not only so that the partner recognizes it as her own, but sometimes better than she can articulate it herself,” Wood said. “The first aim of dialogue is not to convince the partner of one’s own deeply-held convictions, but to understand another in a deep way. It is above all a spiritual experience in understanding the other, a listening and speaking to one another in love.”Wood said dialogue is a necessary partner to doctrine, as it humanizes the often “disembodied words” or “abstract propositions” imposed on real-life situations. Applied dialogue, she said, provides more transparency and authenticity to ideology, as well as a deeper, more personal understanding between Christians. In his writings, Pope Francis urges the Church to engage in dialogue with the states, society and other believers, something Wood said is important in today’s political climate.The Pope’s dialogic approach to ecumenism is a timely reminder of our obligation to respectful conversation, despite differing viewpoints, Wood said.“Pope Francis comments that ‘to dialogue entails a cordial reception, not prior condemnation,’” she said. “‘In order to dialogue, it is necessary to know how to lower the defense, open the doors to the house and offer human warmth.’”Wood said the journey Jesus invites us to take can be defined as a pilgrimage toward Christian unity.“To understand one another, and to grow in charity and truth, we need to pause, to accept and listen to one another,” Wood said. “In this way, we already begin to experience unity. Unity grows along the way. It never stands still. Unity happens when we walk together.”The ecumenism of blood mentioned throughout the pope’s writings, Wood said, maintains that “martyrdom for the faith constitutes a bond among Christians, whatever their confession, and thus constitutes an ecumenism of blood.” She said religious persecution unites Christians around the world.“Pope Francis has said, ‘When Christians are persecuted and murdered, they are chosen because they are Christian, not because they are Lutheran, Calvinist, Anglican, Catholics, Orthodox,” Wood said.In addition to the themes he touches upon in his writings, Wood said, Pope Francis’s outreach to Evangelicals, Protestants and Lutherans have been exemplary gestures of ecumenism. In all interactions, she said, the Pope urges for progress in unity and communal participation in prayer.“Pope Francis addresses all Christians in saying, ‘I invite Christians everywhere at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least and openness to letting Him encounter them,’” Wood said. “‘I ask all of you to do this unfailing each day.’” Tags: Christianity, ecumenism, Pope Francis The final installment of a three-part lecture series, “The Francis Effort: His Impact on The Church and The World,” was delivered Thursday by Susan Wood, chair of the department of theology at Marquette University. Her talk addressed five recurring themes throughout the pope’s writings, as well as the ecumenical gestures he has made over the years.
As part of the Visiting Writers Series, Hasanthika Sirisena read from her collection of short stories titled “The Other One” at Saint Mary’s on Tuesday.Taking place both in Sri Lanka and in the United States, the collection features stories about characters who deal with different aspects of the Sri Lankan civil war.“Most of the characters, even if they’ve had direct involvement [with the civil war], I don’t depict that involvement,” she said. “I depict it in a more tangential way.”From a young age, Sirisena wanted to write stories because she loved to read, and although she focused on the visual arts until her late 20s, she said her love of storytelling started when she was a young girl.“I wanted to be a writer from when I was really very young,” she said. “I started reading books really early on. I enjoyed reading books, I would spend a lot of time reading and simultaneously, I wanted to create books.”Sirisena, who writes in both fiction and creative nonfiction genres, said she tries to choose the genre that would best serve a story.“I tend to choose the genre depending on the subject matter,” she said. “Creative nonfiction right now has more formal flexibility. You can do more … there’s things that I can do with nonfiction that interest me that I can’t do with fiction.”Sirisena said she started writing short stories because literary magazines wanted to publish complete stories rather than chapters of a novel, but that the short story form also was the best way for her to tell the stories she wanted to tell.“I began to realize that the subject matter — the civil war — that I was writing about was better served if it came from multiple voices, that one voice really didn’t do justice to the scope of the war and how it affected people and it was a war that affected so many groups of people. … It just felt more honest,” she said.The title of her collection, “The Other One,” is also the title of one of the stories within the collection. Sirisena noted the ways in which this title reflects the conflicts between the Tamil and Sinhalese groups in Sri Lanka.“[The title] is a metaphor for the entire book because there’s always this othering going on in the book,” Sirisena said. “The Tamils are the others, or if you’re Tamil, the Sinhalese are the others. If you’re a man, then a woman would be the other. … I think the title is a metaphor for the ways in which we view people, often ostracizing people or placing them in a category exceptional to ourselves.”Sirisena said literature is important as a reminder that there is more than one viewpoint in the world and that the world is “a place of multiplicity.”“Literature is a reminder that people are very different,” she said. “There’s no such thing as normal. I think that’s the importance of diverse literature, that we have access to an understanding that there’s depth to people beyond what you see on the surface when you meet them. And I think we really need to become a society that doesn’t begin to code people too quickly. We do a great disservice to them and we do a disservice to ourselves.”Writing is a long-term process, Sirisena said, but students who want to be writers should work hard at it.“You have to find a way to persevere and to really stick with it and keep some sense of momentum and urgency and love for the work, even when you might not be as successful as you hoped,” she said. “I think that is going to be important to find this real passion and drive for the work.”Sirisena said students should write diverse stories because editors and publishers are looking to hear different perspectives, but also because readers are looking to hear other people’s stories as well.“Not only is it important to own your own identity,” she said. “I think the truth is people want to hear it. … Tell your own stories because that’s what people want.”Tags: Hasanthika Sirisena, Sri Lanka, The Other One, Visiting Writers series
Happy laughter mixed with cheerful screaming as children ran, jumped and glided down the bright green slides on the playground at South Bend’s Howard Park. Around them, couples and individuals alike made the most of the frosty afternoon by looping around the park’s new ice skating trail. A few took some tumbles but laughed it off, their smiles adding to the joyful cacophony that filled the air of the newly renovated and reopened park.Howard Park, located near downtown in 219 S St. Louis Blvd, is the city of South Bend’s oldest park. During the past 14 months, the 120-year-old park was essentially a construction site, but on Nov. 29 it opened its doors to showcase its newly transformed state.The renovation comprised an $18 million investment, which was funded through tax increment financing (TIF) bonds, park bonds and private donations.“It’s been exciting to have this public-private partnership opportunity to build something really cool for our community,” the city of South Bend’s director of recreation, Jonathan Jones said.The park now boasts an ice trail and pond, a playground, a support building, a concession stand, an interactive series of water fountains, an event lawn for concerts and a community building as part of its amenities. A restaurant facility, described as both “family-friendly” and “older-crowd pleasing” by Jones, is still under construction and will be completed in spring next year.The ice trail is the project’s hallmark. Jones called it a “world-class ice skating experience,” as the attraction includes varying terrain where participants are able to skate uphill, downhill and through several undulations; a combined 55,982 feet of underground plumbing to maintain the trail’s cool surface; and a ground-breaking stretch of skating over a bridge.“As far as we are aware we are the only location in the nation at the current time that has an ice skating attraction were people are actually skating over a bridge,” Jones said.Jones said Howard Park’s renovation is an attempt to unite the South Bend community. To achieve this goal, accessibility to the park was the cornerstone of the project. As such, equipment to accommodate people with disabilities was integrated into the park.“The entire playground is Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible in a variety of different ways. For instance, the playground has especially-made equipment,” Jones said. “The ice trail also has special equipment so we can assist wheelchair-bound individuals who want to skate on the trail as well.”Another way the park strives to bring people together is through providing the space to host different events. For this reason, the community center features a 150 people banquet-style setting and air walls to accommodate three smaller rooms, accounting for an environment that “is perfect for bridal showers, wedding receptions, gatherings, and any special celebration,” Jones said.Howard Park’s revamping is part of the overarching My South Bend Parks and Trails Initiative, a $50 million investment into the city’s park system, which, according to Jones, is the “single largest investment into parks in the history of South Bend.”As part of this campaign, the city has renovated other facilities, upgraded park structures and created more pedestrian-friendly areas throughout the park system.Moreover, these projects have strived to meet the city’s sustainability efforts, Jones said. As such, Howard Park is LEED certified and is outfitted with energy-efficient technology.Such efforts and investments were made in order to “bring people together, make greater use of the park property, and really make a major impact on quality of life for individuals in South Bend,” Jones said, noting that Notre Dame is also part of the city’s community.“It’s a great opportunity for students to venture into South Bend and have a great experience outside of campus,” Jones said.Tags: Howard Park, South Bend community, South Bend Parks