May 4, 2008

blog 08 + 09

here are my reviews/critiques for two of the millennium development goals presentations. i've only seen 7 so far but they have all been really interesting and cool.

in my section, a group of three people presented on the idea of sustainability and they chose the US as their region of choice. while i wouldn't necessarily agree with the choice to study the US because i feel like my knowledge about the us is plentiful and i feel deprived of knowledge about anywhere outside the US & europe, but they still managed to make a great presentation out of it. first off - the design was great. we kind of had to rush through their presentation because we were running out of time, but it was very obvious that a great deal of time had been spent putting together the document itself and the colors and layout were very specifically chosen. their presentation was also very detailed and had an in-depth response to the many ways that sustainable communities or homes could be built. the case studies were really cool even though we sort of blasted past them and i would really enjoy taking a look at their written document someday.

in overall lecture i really enjoyed the presentation done by broc blegen & kelly berry involving mobile technology in terms of global development and communication in somalia. it was a very unique topic and i wouldn't have thought to focus on the use of wireless internet and cell phones in such a remote and developing area, but it is true that these technologies, especially if offered affordably, would greatly reduce the stress on the economy of somalia and of many other areas. the idea of skipping over 'landline technology' is really thought provoking - they really don't need to set up that infrastructure and they could catch up so much faster than it took developed countries to reach this point. this was just a really original idea about how to help developing countries become connected on a global scale.

i'm excited to see the rest of the presentations in my section next week!

April 2, 2008

blog 07 - possible title pages?

i'm not exactly sure what's expected of us for this blog but here goes!
burt and i met today to talk about the progress of our project and what direction we want to take it in, both research wise and what kind of presentation format we'd use. we both agreed that we wished that we could do a more interesting presentation than a summary of a paper, so we're interested in exploring our options regarding computer presentations like powerpoints (we'd obviously have a paper document as well) or something similar.

we also basically agreed on the idea that our paper should focus on the implementation of educational programs and infrastructure to create a successful platform on which to battle child mortality. and after researching some more, we finally decided to focus on the policy front of the battle against child mortality -- even though many corportations have dedicated lots of time and money to this cause, we decided that these money and time donations were just enablers towards change via policies and standards that the countries have set for their healthcare programs.

right now we have a somewhat working title that could be used on the cover page:
"the fight for reducing child mortality: how education and infrastructure can help save the children of our world"
(it's still a little rough)

i think some dramatic images for a cover page could be graphs or pictures of children in afghanistan (our selected region) who are at risk of being victims of poor infrastructure and education.
our research has led us to the conclusion that a large percentage of the children in afghanistan that die before the age of 5 die of curable diseases that are not risks in developed countries, such as diarrhea, malnutrition, malaria, and others.

this website has the full 2005 report for the 'state of the world's children' and focuses on child mortality quite a bit and i feel it will be a useful resource. it also has some amazing images that would be useful in our report.

here's an initial idea that i've made for our cover page:

cover page 1.bmp

an similar idea could be done with a collage of images as the background, but this might be too distracting.
this is a basic plan of how we want to organize the paper (not this jumbled obviously!! just the bases to be covered, with a major focus on the HOW and WHY:


i might add more to this blog after friday's discussion to see if this is what was expected of us. thanks justin!

March 27, 2008

volunteering blog 01

so my volunteer organization + i decided to do my volunteering in chunks instead of every other week for two hours - and this isn't to make it easier, but to make it more useful and beneficial to both the students that come into the college and career center at southwest and myself. i went to southwest high school, but the college and career center was introduced my senior year - and it wasn't set up in time to really be a help in choosing colleges or interests because most applications were due that fall. i think i would have really benefited from this resource and that's why i want to be volunteering there now.

i have only volunteered once so far (i have events planned in the future, don't worry) and it was helping sophomores and juniors register for their fall classes. this didn't have much to do with college and career planning, but it definitely let me meet all the kids (lots of them!) and to introduce myself to them so i'm not an unfamiliar face. while i helped them, i often asked them what they were interested in or asking them if they liked certain things based on the classes they had chosen to take. I even talked to 6 kids about the u of m architecture program and i felt very useful and strangely knowledgable. i would say i'm completely in the dark concerning what college is all about because i still feel like i'm learning and i'm 3/4 done with my first year (! wow thats a scary thought... anyway) and yet i still had so much to share with those who asked.

my next big events are the financial aid night at southwest, where i hope i can shed some light about college finances to juniors/seniors and their parents now that i've had some experience working with scholarships and grants. my focus at this will be applying for scholarships (at least for now) and i have enough experience to need to do no outside research.

another idea that my community coordinator and i had was to hold a "ten things i wish i knew before college" workshop/short lecture. i asked 50 of my former classmates from southwest who are all now college freshmen to give me their answers to the statement (meaning i sent the emails about ten minutes ago, so i don't have results yet) but i'm very curious to see what my former classmates have to say about their college experiences. i am of course going to give my own opinions on this topic but i thought it would be much more well rounded if i asked people from all different colleges across the country, from different social groups and interests and from boys/girls as well. i actually look forward to putting this presentation together because i think i would have really liked a lecture like this when i was a senior because college seems like such a far-off mysterious thing that everybody loves but can't exactly put their finger on why.

this is my volunteering experience so far and i will continue to blog about it as i have more to report!

March 7, 2008

blog 06 - inspirational presentation/documentation styles

i wish i had more time to watch documentaries and read nonfiction books and go to lectures and all of that. i loved "when the levees broke" and i plan to rent it. even though i knew a lot of it before, i liked super size me because it was more fun to watch the effects of fast food take place instead of reading them in eric schlossers book fast food nation" (which was awesome too). i went to the cass gilbert lecture last week, and going to a lecture where i didn't have to take notes or worry if the information was going to be on a test was ridiculously liberating. practically every nonfiction book i've ever read has been interesting to me whether or not i was interested in the topic before i read it - just learning without it being thrown at you or having to read pages x through y is really enjoyable to me. as soon as somethings assigned to be read, i feel like it looses a little bit of its interestingness to me. since this project is so open ended and there's no specific requirements about what kind of conclusions i have to draw or what direction i have to take it in or the sources i have to read, it feels more like a personal research project rather than a cut and dry research paper. that being said, the lack of constraints can sometimes make things more difficult, so choosing a specific region & area of focus is a lot less daunting than conquering child mortality worldwide.

the way you represent your research is really essential. even if you did awesome research, dedicating all your time and energy to one topic, it can still be received badly or even completely overlooked if the presentation is sloppy, unprofessional, uninteresting, or dull. i also have very little experience in preparing presentations that aren't powerpoints and papers. if creativity is allowed, i often take the cut-and-dry approach instead of exploring how else i could get my ideas across -- but this is something i'm working on (see below blog about my rigid education that's making my life a lot harder right now). i'm also realizing that the creative way isn't the lazy way, which in some of my classes in the past, this was the case. i always thought that you covered up for holes in your project with "pretty stuff". after seeing many examples of portfolios and thesis projects and the like, i'm realizing that strong graphic design and presentation can add so much to an already strong argument.

i looked at the examples suggested in class - print magazine (albeit online because the arch library is definitely closed right now), cmyk magazine, graphis magazine, and the core 77 blog. all of these sites are very beautifully designed but are pretty different, too - to get a clear focus doesn't always mean you have clean cut lines on your design. i gravitate towards right angles, arial font, etc. but these kinds of graphic design sites demonstrate how well-designed layouts can enhance the site. on the other hand, if you design your site poorly (we all know what a shady website looks like - IE the site i was on about an hour ago when sruggling with my calc hw - - it's not the worst website i've ever seen but i definitely trusted its advice less and valued it less simply because the graphic nature of the site wasn't pleasing in any way. which is pretty ridiculous considering it's a math site - why should they make it pretty? its calc! calc isn't pretty! but whether people admit it or not, appearance is everything when it comes to presenting ideas to others.

magazine layouts. i seriously appreciate a good magazine layout. a weird example might be architectural digest - they have such cool pictures and sometimes pretty good articles, but their layout - sorry if you like it - sucks! it's busy, distracting, and there are more ads than anything else. and the things featured in the magazine are usually expensive and built for the rich instead of featuring innovative designs and ideas. i LOVE popular science because of the way they present ideas. even though i'm not really a technologically obsessed person, like the average reader of popular science (one might also call them NERDS!), i love that they find the newest, coolest, craziest stuff thats being developed instead of just the stuff that arbitrary critics or wealthy people like.

i think i like models because they represent ideas in 3-d. my biggest obsession when i was younger was making cities and houses for my barbies, playmobile, polly pockets, beanie babies, whatever - i just loved pretending that they lived in houses like i did. don't even get me started on the Sims computer game... that was a serious addiction for a while and im proud to say i haven't relapsed. point is - ive been thinking of modeling as a possibility for representing my millenium development goal - it would be much different than a paper and much more fun!

i definitely don't want to write just a research paper for this project even though thats what i secretly want to do. i know i should challenge myself to find a different medium. it'll be harder. i'll probably get really frustrated and just wish i had written a simple word document. but i feel like the struggle will be worth it for my education, and it will give the problem justice - it's not an issue that can be summarized and tackled inside a research paper. it deserves to be explored from many different viewpoints and in many different ways, because it's not a input-output problem. there are many little pieces to the puzzle of helping reduce child mortality and my presentation should (and, i hope, will) reflect this approach.

March 2, 2008

blog 05 - you are what you do

I think this is a really hard question to answer because it basically asks me for a response to the dilemma of nature vs. nurture. I think the [built]environment has a much impact on the way I’ve grown up and the experiences I’ve had as a result of this environment have shaped the person I am. However, I’m interested in how people can grow up in starkly different environments and have similar beliefs or interests – because this shows that there’s no direct correlation between environment and personality. The idea that growing up in completely different environments can produce the exact same results or growing up in the same environment can produce ridiculously different results (i.e. my siblings and I, but that’s a whole other can of worms) is also really fascinating to me.

Florida 2089.jpg
Florida 2085.jpg

what happened there?!
My framework for my education was catholic school in southwest Minneapolis followed by public high school. The framework of my schools were both very regimented and I think this has had a huge influence on who I am, whether I like to admit it to people or not that I’m really nitpicky and that grades really matter to me. To tie into the same concept, my life was extremely predictable because I had my days planned out to the minute in order to manage all my ib schoolwork – clockwork! – and this organization was a major part of my personality. I got the “best role model? award in my senior year in the yearbook – I had lots of friends but it was well known that I got everything done and worked really hard. I think the cookie cutter education that many people fight against worked surprisingly well for me. It provided me with the boundaries I needed to get work done. Maybe if I had been raised in a more lenient environment I’d approach work/school/chores in a more relaxed manner.


Now that I’m in college, and specifically architecture classes, I can see this former framework being ripped away from me to be replaced by a more complex kind of education. Now, being used to regimented work is detracting from my creative studies because I’m used to having due dates and quantitative evaluations of my work instead of qualitative reflections and suggestions/critiques. This also shows that my built environment was once supporting me towards succeeding in the international baccalaureate program but now in architecture school seems to be detracting from my creativity because I’m not used to having original ideas be considered as legitimate concepts.

as a result, i've been working really hard to try to change the way i study and think about schoolwork. my life used to be, and still is to a certain extent, to do lists and i've been trying to think of homework and projects as exploration and useful knowledge instead of a task to be completed for points. i've been kind of thinking of this as a sticky situation like the monastery on the mountain (see last post for image) ... my brain is very used to being told what to memorize and to regurgitate it later and so to try to learn creatively under those conditions is a challenge for me now -- although it's a very rewarding challenge. i get a different kind of satisfaction from completing a project for, say, 1281 (paper jacket anyone?!) than acing a calc test (ok, ok, that never happened, but you get my point). my learning style is that "mountain" to be worked with and manipulated. i think i AM the contrast between two very different things... i'm the type a personality who's been shoved out of the "Box" into the big wide world without a flashlight. one of my main goals for this semester/year/college experience is to allow myself to accept learning and research as something much bigger than just a library and textbooks. dellas lecture was really interesting to be me because all those different types of research and the intensely large range of topics that the thesis students covered boggled my mind - who knew you could love what you were researching so much!

to date, my environment has been very structured. i supposed this isn't directly addressing buildings and architecture but more the design and framework of my life as a result of the way i was raised and the way i learned.



art school.jpg

February 27, 2008

blog 04 - begone arch school?

if i was completely released from the constraints of the 'architecture school' program & thrown out into the world to discover and learn about the world and architecture and design, i think my very first task would be to experience. i wouldn't feel comfortable designing for the people of our world without touring the spaces that the people of our world live in. plus, hey, who wouldn't want to take a world tour of different architectural types? the lecture today (2/26) when we were talking about architectural oppositions was the most interesting & exciting lecture to date for me. just looking at all the awesome architecture and hearing the stories (however fragmented/cut short) is probably my favorite way of learning about architecture and i think that visiting these places is the best (and perhaps only real) way to learn about the motivating factors behind a building.
burj dubai.jpg
i feel like i dont even know the famous/interesting buildings in minneapolis, much less the state/country/world and i think this kind of travel would be the best kind of education that i could find for myself... especially if i had good tour guides to come along with me! i have only been out of the country once, to guatemala, and i was even startled by the differences in housing/building design there compared to those of the US & i would love to spend years traveling the world, experiencing the culture of these places, reading, ?writing? (maybe after a little experiencing) and just forming my opinions on different styles of architecture and the theory behind them.

sometimes, in class, i feel very malleable in that whenever i learn about a new architect or style or hear the ideas behind a style, the tone of the lecturer/book has a huge influence on my opinion of that architect/style/building and i wish i had more concrete individual opinions. i feel like my individual experiences at these places, interacting with the materials and the surroundings, might help me solidify my ideas. right now i just feel like an opinion sponge & i don't have the personal experiences to counteract the tone of the lecturer.


i am also extremely interested in the concept of sustainability as it pertains to architecture & as a result i would be really interested in doing field work in trying to find new ways to build livable, lovable houses that don't require such a dependence on the resources provided to us by the earth. i think that so many cultures survived for many thousands of years without the need to manipulate the earth to suit their own needs - they worked with the earth to create beautiful and amazing living spaces. while i understand that the world won't 'de-industrialize' anytime soon, i still think many of the practices of these people can be employed today to help us coexist more peacefully with our own planet. the earth and its living inhabitants demand respect and reverence and i think the way we live our lives and build our living spaces has to change.

as to a 'real or imagined place' which might allow me to do this... i think this would go undefined, because i don't know which places in my travel would be the most informative. i suspect that every place that a person visits impacts them in some way, whether minutely or monumentally. after my travels i'd love to set up shop here in minneapolis and help create unique and individualized living/working spaces for the people of my home city.

February 20, 2008

just browing the internett

pretty interesting!!

blog 03 - research project millenium development goals

ok so today during class ozayr said to browse through blogs to perhaps get some inspiration for our own blogs and so when i was about to login today i looked at the "recently updated" blogs and spent like, 2 hrs reading random people's blogs that have nothing to do with architecture but were still fascinating to me. i think i read someones "consumer" journal (writing everything they use/buy/throw out/make/etc) for like 45 min. eek! worse than facebook, seriously.


child mortality 5.jpg

so we haven't officially been assigned our millenium goal in my section, but i really hope i get the reducing child mortality goal because i think that with the technology that we have for curing/treating diseases, disinfection, sanitation, prevention of diseases, and food production, the global mortality rates for children are unacceptable. even not including incurable diseases and starvation... "In our world today nearly 11 million children under the age of 5 die in the world every year - well over 1,200 every hour most from easily preventable or treatable causes." (UNICEF website)

child mortality 2.jpg

01 marvin gaye - what's goin on

i find the idea of ending child mortality extremely daunting, terrifying, and i almost have a sense of apathy about it. i think thats how most people approach monumental, global problems like AIDS, poverty, etc. there isn't much of a hopeful attitude in taking on a task like this - and i really want to remain hopeful but at the same time i'm intimidated.

02 pictures of success - rilo kiley

"If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds' worth of distance run, yours is the Earth and everything that's in it" - [rudyard kipling]
besides being one of my favorite quotes, i think that this statement by kipling intends to emphasize that time waits for nobody. your life is going by you & you better fill every second with progress, success, effort, and meaning - make your time on this earth count.

child mortality 3.jpg

in the past decade or so, global child mortality is going down, but subsaharan africa and other extremely poor areas in the world still have about a 1 in 6 mortality rate before the age of 5.
i don't even really know what is being done to combat this besides research and disease prevention - i hope i'll learn more as the project progresses (assuming i get this topic :-) hint hint!)

“a dream you dream alone is only a dream. a dream you dream together is reality."
- [john lennon]

i think this statement is extremely applicable to such a global disaster. one country working towards solving this massive and heartbreaking problem won't make the same impact that a united global effort will.

03 the world that he sees - trans-siberian orchestra

"and he wants us to believe in this world that he sees."
- [trans siberian orchestra "the world that he sees"]

even though this is technically a christmas song, & i'm a massive nerd for liking the trans-siberian orchestra, i think this song has a really important message - that children have a beautiful image of the world and everyone would be happier if they saw the beauty of this world.

i love children. i love helping children. i can't believe we still have such a massive problem with this considering all the astounding and awe-inspiring technology/research that is happening today, & i really hope that i can help. if it's one more child or a thousand children that get a chance at life, i will be happy with my work. i'm really curious & excited to start on this project.

04 new soul - yael naim

"i'm a young soul in this very strange world hoping I could learn a bit about what is true and fake
but why all this hate?
try to communicate.
finding trust and love is not always easy to make"
- [yaem naim "new soul"]


- [chinese proverb]

child mortality 7.jpg

let's go.

February 13, 2008

blog 02 - social design issue

i took geography of the twin cities fall 2007 semester and part of this class involved an extensive field trip through minneapolis & st paul, documenting building/housing styles & speculating on the movements that created the metropolitan area that we live in today. i was particularly fascinated by the various public housing projects that our field trip encompassed. having grown up in a very sheltered neighborhood in sw mpls, public housing units were way off my radar until high school & even then i hadn't ever been to one before this field trip. while some of the projects i saw were run-down, poorly designed to meet the needs of those living there, & dirty, i saw one that was very intriguing to me: the little earth housing development on 25th st & 18th ave.

in 1968 american indian leaders in minnesota met to discuss the problems of poverity, dismal healthcare, unemployment, & the dying connection of many american indians to their heritage. they wanted to form an organization (the american indian movement, AIM, which was the 1st intertribal native rights organization in the US!) that would help solve all of these problems as well as promote heritage awareness & gather the attention of the government to help with these issues. while they held political&social demonstrations to help get the attention the american indians of minnesota needed, it was decided that a native-organized housing project was needed to help the american indians of this area reconnect with their heritage & preserve their traditions while transitioning from reservations to city life.

little earth 1.jpg

while they struggled through the 80s, they finally received the federal/state attention they needed & are now reorganized enough to have expanded & added the Little Earth Neighborhood Early Learning Center, a youth development center, the little earth of united tribes housing corporation, & the little earth residents association. they are now sponsored on many levels & have renovated their housing development so it is a pleasant & comfortable place to live.

little earth 2.jpg

i think this is a really important demonstration about how public (or just affordable) housing can be designed to meet the needs of the individuals who will be living there. public housing doesn't need to be depressing, dirty, run-down, & crowded. if the needs of the individuals living there are considered & those who move in are aware of the effort gone into building such a project, they will (hopefully) have more respect & pride for their place of residence.

little earth 3.jpg

if only all public housing could have the kind of support & effort put into planning it! i realize that this cost quite a bit more money but the extra effort makes all the difference - if you're proud of your lifestyle, have neighbors who you can relate to, & come home to a welcoming community, life is just so much more enjoyable & fulfilling than a lonely house that has been rezoned for public housing. the lowerclass doesn't deserve any less effort or attention than would be given to any other kind of residential endeavour & i think the little earth housing development is an inspiring example of overcoming difficulties through design.

it was designed to help native americans to transition from reservations to city life - if this level of detail was given to every person in public housing, i feel both the residents & the planners would be happier & have many fewer problems in general. this housing development turned into so much more & grew to be able to provide community programs, childcare, adult/youth education, & cultural activities - & every single person in that community reaps the benefits. down with box-home projects & up with attention to the individuals! :-)

February 2, 2008

blog 01 - andy goldsworthy

assignment: inspired by andy goldsworthy (&our discussions today), document & investigate through text & image - this idea of energy, flow, & transformation through the city.

mpls view 1.jpg

i have lived in minneapolis all my life & i am amazed, surprised, and astounded by the amount of energy that goes in and out and around this city. for the first half of my life i didn't much think of anything but my own neighborhood, school, and nickelodeon. as i became older and going to the mall or downtown became more interesting to me, i first explored the city by myself on bicycle - and even as i have expanded my mental maps about this area, my curiosity has not been satisfied.


i find the waterways in this city to be extremely essential to its energy flow. the city was originally successful because of its waterway access via lakes, rivers, and streams. as the water was depended on less for movement of energy, resources, and ideas in and out of mpls, this energy was transformed as trains, streetcars, cars, buses, and planes took over.


yet because of mpls' initial dependence on the water, transportation pathways for ideas still exist around and near water. the culture of this city is deeply rooted in water and its powerful properties to shape the earth, cities, and their development. all the major paths in and out of the city are based around water, and all the waterways are surrounded with walking and biking trails to allow energy flows along these veins of the city.


i think this city is rich with the energy of ideas and revolution. mpls is very liberal & as a result, very accepting to new ideas, concepts, technology, and lifestyles. new energies are constantly passing through the city as the glass ceiling of acceptance is pushed by revolutionary figures. this continuous flow of energy gives life to the city.

gay pride.jpg

the beauty of mpls is that its always changing as a result of the flows of these ideas and energy. ideas never go away, they are just built upon for innovation. ideas do not have beginnings and endings just as energy only changes form, never dying - just like andy goldsworthy's art. his art isn't destroyed; its energy is just converted by natural forces and movements, much like the development of cities.


while i wish to travel around the worth to collect ideas to enrich my life and increase my understanding of the world around me, i want to reside in minneapolis, for i am not done yet understanding the powerful energy surrounding this city that made me who i am today.

calhoun 2.jpg

the energy brought to and from this city by its varied population of inhabitants will never cease, and therefore i will never be satisfied with the amount of knowledge i have, as it is ever altered by every soul that encounters this city.
its a happy place to raise families, see art&beauty, be outside, &learn because of the ever-transforming energy.