May 6, 2008

Volunteering Reflection

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For my volunteering for this semester I worked with the Achieve! Minneapolis at their Roosevelt High School location. Achieve’s mission that I helped aid in through my volunteering is:
“…to galvanize community resources to help all Minneapolis Public School students succeed in school and become productive members of society.? -http://www.achieveminneapolis.org/

At Roosevelt we worked more on the Achieve! Career and College Initiative, which focuses on helping students, plan their futures after high school. One of the head leaders at the Roosevelt location, Mike, came up with a project, called “My Life Project?, to help the kids understand what paths were available to the kids and what life would be like with certain decisions they would make. Kids would basically draw a situation that they would hypothetically have after high school out of a hat. Once they found out if they were going to be a high school drop-out, community college bound, private or public college bound, or entering the workforce, they had to start planning their life. They would have to choose a college and what kind of degree they would obtain if they were going to college, or what type of job they would be working at straight out of high school. They also then had to find a residence that they could afford with their wages and that would be suitable for their family if they were given that situation and all the costs that came with. So all together they had to plan the life after high school and how they could best handle and manage their situation they were given. As a volunteer, every week I helped the kids work through this project and help them mostly with calculating and managing their finances. Every week their would be a couple classes that would come in and work on this project and I could see that with every progressive week that the kids started to realize what situations had it better off and which they most likely wanted to have for themselves. At the end of the semester the kids would compile everything that they had done and figured out for their situation and make a power point to show the rest of the class so that everyone could see and realize what certain living styles people had to live with the situation they were given. This “My Life Project? is worked on in a certain progressive manner throughout the four years of these kids’ high school careers to help them realize what the best path is for them.
Not only did I help every week I was at Roosevelt with the “My Life Project? but I also helped kids with math, science and english homework when needed. Overall I enjoyed working with the Achieve! Minneapolis program this semester and would like to work with them in the near future.


-http://www.achieveminneapolis.org/

Group Critique #2

The second group to present that caught my attention focused on the first Millennium Development Goal, which is eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. Their focus was on the country of Bolivia, in South America. They started off by giving a background of the goal alone and then how it pertains directly with Bolivia. They stated that about 1/6th of the world lives below the international poverty line, as of 2004. Also about 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes, which is equivalent to one child every five seconds. Bolivia itself is the poorest country in South America and one of the main factors is that it is land locked. Also another factor that adds to the poverty and hunger problem is the landscape, the Andes Mountains, and how it makes it hard for access around Bolivia. Also the wealthier people are located in the valley where the urban center is and the lower class people live in the mountains that surround and that lack of access between the two is what a contributor to the problem.
This group looked at a few different solutions to this problem that are starting to be implemented in other countries and they also incorporated some new ones. One of the first solutions that caught my attention is the pig farm which is being used by the Salvation Army. They give villages or families two pigs one of each sex and they educate the people how to raise them, breed them, sell them and use them for food. Another idea that is used by the Salvation Army is the green house, which is where the Salvation Army builds a village or family a sustainable and durable green house. This allows for the people in the mountains to be able to grow their own food for consumption and sales, in an area that is cold yet has plenty for sunlight. These solutions are looked at as self sustainable and very good for these areas because the spread themselves. One other solution that they had that really stuck out was the recycle farm. This is basically where you have a chicken coop over a pond of water and next to the pond you have gardens. The chicken droppings fall into the pond and then you take the water and use it as a fertilizer/watering compound for the garden.
All these ideas seem like viable solutions to the problems that Bolivia is experiences. Also it skips the whole policy making that the government usually will implement to try and solve the problem. With Bolivia there isn’t a stable government to implement such policies so overall these solutions are ideal for a country like Bolivia. This group has come up with a lot of great ideas for the problem at hand.

May 1, 2008

Group Critique #1

The first group to present that caught my attention focused on the second goal, which is, Achieving Primary Education. There focus was the country of Africa and how the amount of people enrolled in school there was very low.
One of the problems they focused on was the lack enrollment of people especially females. Some reasons for the lack of females enrolled was because in many of the African cultures women are supposed to stay home and do work around the dwelling. Also the lack of bathrooms and running water at most schools wasn’t ideal for girls to attend those schools. Another problem they brought up was about the government and their policies. The government does little if any funding for more schools and also for more teachers. This lack of funding equals further distances between schools which means further travels for its students and this is another reason why students won’t go to school.
This group then came up with a very good idea I thought. Their idea to solve this problem was as simple as bring the school to the students. This school was modular and could be transported in a single ship cargo container. It is very easy to set up, yet stable and sustainable. It comes with bathrooms and some water which will appeal more to the female students and teachers. This idea helps cut down on travel time and is a very cost efficient building. The only thing that I think would benefit their idea is to have another modular structure for the teacher to live in so the teacher is right with the school making it easier for both the students and the teacher.
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April 10, 2008

Millennium Development Cover Pages

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Controlled Chaos Suits Me

"People... they don't write anymore - they blog. Instead of talking, they text, no punctuation, no grammar: LOL this and LMFAO that. You know, it just seems to me it's just a bunch of stupid people pseudo-communicating with a bunch of other stupid people in a proto-language that resembles more what cavemen used to speak than the King's English."

- David Duchovny as "Hank Moody" in the Showtime Series Californication

After looking around and different blogs, magazines and other resources for obtaining information, I took notice in how they presented this information. I took a step back and tried figuring out what it was that intrigued me or should I say grab my attention and held it. When I looked specifically at the Core 77 blog site I realized as I scrolled through its contents that it was a sort of planned and controlled state of chaos of confusion that initially caught my attention. There were many pictures that went with the numerous blog entries which for the most part were fairly short. The next thing was the short length of most of the blogs caught my attention. Due to this shortness I actually caught myself reading most of the blog entries because at first sight they didn’t seem to drag on forever. The overall layout of the site was easy to maneuver around and kept me there long periods of time just reading and taking it all in.
This is somewhat the same truth for magazines both online and in print. There are many pictures to appeal to sense of sight and draw you in to read the articles that go with. There isn’t this controlled chaos to a magazine though but instead it is very controlled and neatly laid out. I found myself not reading as many articles because they seemed to drag on and didn’t really catch my attention. However, just like the blog it was very easy to navigate through and find articles that did appeal to me.
Both of these resources bring good aspects to the table, as getting information across to an intended audience. Some of these aspects I look to incorporate not only in the millennium development goals project but also later on in other presentations and such. I hope to use the somewhat controlled chaos that Core 77 had with their blog site. I would do this by having many pictures, maybe some music and keep the information short and sweet rather than drag on and seem boring. This way it would be more enjoyable and maybe even more entertaining for the intended audience to go through. Overall with the presentation of information for the MDG project I would like to take a risk and do something different and interest to make it not only fun for me to make and fun for people to see and read, but also maybe even somewhat sustainable and go along with our goal of environmental sustainability.

March 4, 2008

Brett Favre the Legend

Before I dig into this blog entry and see what I can spit out to please my TA and Ozayr, I would like to take this brief moment to talk about a Phenomena that no one will be able to see anymore besides on highlight reels. This Phenomena is called Brett Favre! He is the framework, and the clockworks and phenomena all wrapped up in that Green and Gold uniform. Oppositions? There were many, and we are not just talking about the team on the other side of the field in a man vs. man opposition but also that man vs. nature. Brett could play in snow....
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He could play in sub zero temps…
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He could play in any weather and bring his team to a victory in the end. He also played through pain in a Man vs. Self kind of way. For instance playing one of his best games right after the passing of his #1 fan, his father. Or playing through busted up fingers, hands, and other body parts….
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Even with all the oppositions that he faced he still rose above and became the legend/phenomena that he was. He was Indestructible!!
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The built environment didn’t really affect him but instead he affected it. He along with Vince Lombardi where the two phenomena to make Lambeau Field what it is today; the Cheese head haven which is never lacking fans in the stands no matter what the weather or score was.
A framework that defines Brett as phenomena is separation in space. This separation in space was never too far for Brett; that is if you are talking the separation between him and a receiver or him and the end zone. This separation was easily closed when the ball was slung from Brett’s cannon of an arm to a receiver down field in a matter of milliseconds for a touchdown. Also how in a matter of a minute he could drive his team 89 yards down field to score the game winning touchdown.
All in all there are many more frameworks and clockworks that make him the phenomena he is just look at all the records he holds and all the awards/honors he has received. He is a Phenomena, a Legend, and a Packer and he is the reason I am deeply saddened on this day that I will no longer be able to watch him on Sundays. Thanks for the wonderful 17 seasons Brett and all the entertainment you have provided for many people.
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February 28, 2008

Sprawl of Death

“People say Intelligent Design, we must teach Intelligent Design. Look at the human body, is that intelligent? You have a waste processing plant next to a recreation area.?

-Robin Williams in the Man of the Year


First off being completely free of the constraints of “architecture school? is a wonderful thought in itself. But I digress; one of the biggest problems that I see and would love to have a hand in change is Urban Sprawl. Urban Sprawl eats up more natural environment faster then Pac-Man does the dots, cherries, or Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde. Not only does it gobble up the land that surrounds it, it brings more and more problems with it that also harm our environment. We have also lost our individuality in a sense and at the same time sociability with our neighbors, all due to sprawl.
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I strongly believe that America had it right in the beginning when our big cities, towns, etc. were all nice and compact and if you needed anything you could walk there. These “walking cities? had none of the problems with the environment that we do today. However these cities didn’t last long at all. Once inventions in technology occurred so did new ways of transportation which allowed for people to move further out of the now growing industrial cities that were dirty and noisy. The only thing is that is caused another problem too. The ways of transportation cost money and only the upper class and wealthier people could afford it. So the wealthy moved out of the city to set of there houses with gardens and green land all around them while those who could not afford the transportation stayed in the bustling city. Transportation not only started sprawl but also started segregation of the classes.
As the years rolled on there become better, faster and cheaper ways of transportation; which lead to more and more people wanting to get out of the city and find their own piece of land to live on and breathe the fresh air and be surrounded by green. This was the American Dream; to have your own house out of the bustling cities in these newly forming suburbs where you could raise your family. The perfect life for the perfect family just like “Leave it to Beaver?.
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Everyone in the neighborhood new each other and are friendly and so on and so on. Life was just frickin peachy! Or so that’s what they wanted everyone to believe. I myself look at this suburb living and sprawl as a loss of our personal identities, a loss of our sociability with people in our neighborhood, and to tell you the truth suburbs look like shit in my opinion. The are more like a bad rash on the earth’s skin that wont go away and keep popping up here and there and growing bigger and bigger. Suburbs became a disease more like an STD that just kept getting past all around the U.S.
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This picture shows the start of our destruction of our natural environment and everything else I keep stating. I look at this and think about how transportation and roads control where we live. Everyone is hungry to live where they have nothing but forest, fields, or any kind of wilderness in their backyard. I bet they do have that and enjoy that for a year or two before another development sets up shop right in their backyard. The domino effect just keeps going and more and more natural environment gets eaten up.
Also sprawl affects each person both personally and socially. Now-a-days people commute long hours to go to their job and back home. When they get home they pull in to their garage shut the door and go into their house. In the morning they hop in their car and back out of the garage and head to work. All I have to say is what the hell happened to social interaction with our neighbors!?!? There is no coming home from work and getting out of your car and saying “Hi? to your neighbors or taking the time to chit chat with them like there used to be. Also as you drive through these suburbs how in the heck can you tell which house is yours? They all look the same to me besides the on one house the garage might be on the right while your neighbors is on the left and the color might be different. Other than that there is no personalizing of your house like their used to be. Suburbs aren’t set up that way; they are a part of the industrialized/ manufactured way of life. It’s all about quantity these days and not quality.

So how can I make any difference or aid in slowing this “Sprawl of Death?? It really wouldn’t matter the location of where I went because this sprawl is happening all of the U.S. I would love to help with urban planning and use architecture to help bring people back to the cities and stop this sprawling. To take old warehouse districts that are abandoned and other abandoned areas of a city and use those to build new residential buildings and lofts and parks. Also you have to make sure that you have businesses around these areas so people can walk to get things they need or have access to public transportation. Some bigger cities are already changing their ways and are bringing people back to the city and they are stopping sprawl in a variety of ways. One example is Seattle and how they are trying to develop parks and green areas to draw people back into the city. Phoenix is designing and building new housing and parks in areas that used to be run down. Boulder, Colorado uses a different approach to stopping sprawl called greenbelt. This is where the government buys land around a city and designated it to be undeveloped and left wild. This stops the city from sprawling out further and it can also act as a buffer from another city that may be sprawling in their direction. These are things that I want to do to have a positive impact on our environment. I’m not trying to be Captain Planet or anything I’m just trying to help slow and maybe even stop the ugly rash we have spread all over the U.S.
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February 21, 2008

Do You Value Your Life?

Playlist

10 Years – Wasteland
30 Seconds to Mars – From Yesterday
Atreyu – Becoming the Bull
Anberlin – dismantle.repair.
Trapt – Headstrong
Kanye West – Good Life
Life is Beautiful - Sixx AM

I have a great passion in music and I look at how I can relate to songs and what songs have, I guess, affected me so far in my life. These songs that I have chosen are both songs that will never get old for me to listen to and songs that reflect me and who I am as a person. I always listen to the lyrics and try and pick out parts that I can relate to well or parts that kind of describe me. Such as:

The song Life is Beautiful by Sixx AM; there is a part of the song that says, "You can't quit until you try, You can't learn to tell the truth until you lie, You gotta laugh when you're the joke..." I find this to be so true in life and how I carry myself. You are always going to pull jokes on others and laugh but it shows your true character if you laugh when the tables are turned and laugh when you’re the joke. Also the song kind of just shows how you can't really know what is right and how you should do things until you do it the wrong way and learn from your mistakes. But even though you might end up with failure you at least tried and you gained some sort of knowledge in the process. That’s at least how I think and go about things.
In Atreyu's song "Becoming the Bull", there is a part that goes, “seems like fate is pulling you, decisions have to be made. The best path is the hardest earned. Back and forth the struggle consumes us all..." I really like the part where they say that “the best path is the hardest earned? which is exactly how I feel about everyone’s path toward a goal. I believe that when you set goals in life no matter how long or short they may be you are going to run in to obstacles or Y's in the road, and most people pick the easy path. I think that more times than not the better choice in your path you take maybe be very tough and "the hardest earned" but in the end it is worth the reward. This way that I think is also kind of shown in Robert Frost's "The Road Less Traveled", which I have posted below.

Quotes

Say to them,
Say to the down-keepers,
the sun-slappers,
the self-soilers,
the harmony-hushers,
"even if you are not ready for the day
it cannot always be night."
You will be right.
For that is the hard home-run.

Live not for the battles won.
Live not for the-end-of-the-song.
Live in the along.
--Gwendolyn Brooks

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
--Robert Frost


Unlike songs I am not really a quote person like some people are. Most of my quotes are funny lines from movies or comedians but sometimes I will stumble upon a quote that strikes me and connects with me like music usually does. One example of this is the quote that I have from Gwendolyn Brooks. This quote just reminds me of myself and how even when things are against you and people say you can't do something or you can't make a difference you can't listen to them but instead believe in yourself. It's just like Brooks says, "You will be right, for that is the hard home-run". You need to preserve and live for what you believe in and do what you can to make this life all it can be. That’s why I have also put up the picture of Brett Favre. It is his perseverance and drive to do what he wanted to do for as long as he has that makes him the very successful and highly respected quarterback that he is today. I think I share some of that drive and perseverance too just in different aspects of my life such as school future plans, goals, and aspirations. The other two pictures are just pictures that I like taking when I go places because I always have the goal of living in that kind scene with mountains and water and nature surrounding me. All these songs, quotes, and pictures show a little bit of me, who I am and who I want to be and that is why I picked the millennium project goals I did. With the main goal being to ensure environmental sustainability because I like the natural environment, like the last two pictures, and I want that around for many years to come. Therefore we have to change some of the ways we as people live our lives so we can preserve those places.


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February 15, 2008

TCF Bank Stadium

The TCF Stadium is a long overdue need for the University of Minnesota. We will finally be able to bring the Gopher's football team back on campus for Game day on Saturdays by the first opening home game of September 12th, 2009. What does that mean for the University? The surrounding community? The immediate environment? And of course us Badger fans?

First off this is probably the best thing that could happen to the University of Minnesota and its community. There will no longer be the need for busing of spectators from the University over to the horrible Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome for football games on Saturdays. I personally thought it was the biggest pain in the ass to get from the college pre-game parties over to the dome just to watch the gophers get their lunches packed because they had been taken to school on Saturdays. Now with the coming of the new TCF stadium it will be much easier for the rowdy, obnoxious, alcohol driven student and fan (also known as the 12th man) to be able to get to the game from the pre-game party, just so they can sit and watch another bomb be dropped on the gophers. At the same time I believe bringing the gophers back on campus will instill some more pride for the team on campus and I think it will be a nice face lift to the rather dull look of the Williams Arena. I have read some "letters to the editor" in the Minnesota Daily complaining about how because of the Stadium school tuition and other school expenses are going up and that isn't fair. To tell you the truth I personally see nothing wrong with the hike in tuition to be able to help support this new facility, granted that I do pay the least amount of tuition due to the Minnesota - Wisconsin Tuition Reciprocity. But with the new facility the U will be able to keep all the moneys made from the games through the tickets, parking, merchandise sales, food sales, etc. and use it as they need to use it. Granted that at the dome the U does get money from these games but they don’t obtain all that they could because they have to give some to the Metrodome for allowing them to use their facility.

I think the University also did a great job in planning this stadium with the surrounding communities and neighborhoods. In the early goings of planning this project they:
-Conducted community interviews
-Designated a community involvement coordinator for each area
-Prepared and distributed site fact sheets
-Held a public meeting
-Revised and updated the community involvement plan
They did all this and much more to make sure the surrounding communities and businesses had a say in what was going to happen with the stadium and how it should be set-up so it would not affect them in a negative way but in a positive and hopefully prosperous way. With this I commend the University for the work they put in to make the stadium not only a benefit for them but the surrounding communities.

Of course with any construction job there is always the worry of the immediate surrounding environment. But with the codes and laws that we have today there is always some sort of mandatory clean-up after the completion of the job. The University has laid out a plan for clean-up of any and all contaminants of the groundwater and soils surrounding the construction site along with the clean-up of anything else due to the construction of this facility. If you would like to read this you can go to the hyperlink below because I don't like talking about this kind of stuff. (http://www1.umn.edu/stadium/environmental_process.php)

Lastly and most importantly what does this mean for us Badger fans who have dared to run across the border to find an education. First off I think that it is a great idea to construct the new TCF stadium for a couple reasons.
1- The design of the stadium is to be an open-air Division 1-A football stadium with a horseshoe-shaped bowl. This to me is absolutely perfect! Why? Because this will make it easier for the Badgers to dominate the gophers on their home turf. Again why? Because this design plan sounds pretty familiar actually really familiar granted that it will have 26,129 less seats it sounds like Wisconsin's own Camp Randall Stadium.
2- Us Badger fans will be able to sit and watch the Border Battle game in comfort without any obstructed views.

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So all in all I think the Stadium is a win-win situation for everyone. And until the Gophers can put together a team that doesn't get by D-1AA team (NDSU), they should bring their notebooks and pencils on Saturdays as school will be in session for them. Also as a side note until then; Paul Bunyan's Axe will stay in Madison!!!


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February 5, 2008

Andy Glodsworthy and the City

There are a couple ways in which I relate some of Andy Goldsworthy's artwork with that of the transformation, flow and enrgy of the city. I look at how he makes some of his artwork change and transform as time progresses. For example his wood blanket like design with the big dot in the middle changed many different colors throughout the time that we saw but it never really lost the definition and original design. I feel this directly relates to a city in more than one way. It could be looked at as how the city transforms its atmosphere and look from day time bustle of people going to work and back to the night time clubbers and entertainment seekers. You can also look at the long term transformations and how the city may grow bigger and have economic booms or just the opposite it could grow smaller but just like his designs you can always tell its a city. Andy also talked about how his designs and works are not permanent and are beautiful both in the making of it and the natural deterioration of it. This you can also relate to some cities, which for the most part we try to design and make beautiful to attract people and businesses to come to but some time later down the road it will slowly deteriorate. However, unlike his designs when cities deteriorate it isn't beautiful for the most part.