May 7, 2008

Blog 7 & 8

Blog 7: Section Presenations

While all projects had both strong and weak points, some projects from recitation were actually difficult to sit through. Primarily due to the fact that some kids seem to think that the more they say, the more they appear to know the material. Wrong. Presentations were supposed to last between 10-15 minutes, which, if split up efficiently, is a sufficient amount of time to cover the material. However, groups felt the need to talk for upwards of 25 minutes, with the winner taking the gold metal of 35. There's my rant.

Overall the projects were visually interesting, and I enjoyed seeing how each group interpereted their goal visually. The group I will focus on is Goal 7, ensuring environmental sustainability. They had a wealth of bells and wistles, including a pamphlet reiterating the general points of their slide show, and a video compilation of interviews gather peoples opinions on environmental sustainability. Their strongest point conceptually was the gradual shift from a dark background to light, as they moved from present, exessive usage of non-renewable resources to a more sustainable alternative.
However, their content, and purpose of a research project, was surface at best. They looked only at the small scale solutions and options like alternative fuel cars, solar panels for homes, switching to energy efficient appliances and lightbulbs, etc. ...I hear this from TV commercials every day.
I would like to have heard about (and did from the honors presentation on this goal) green buildings [like anything from here: http://thegreendevelopers.com/ ], or current technology that stems away from use of non-renewable resources like District Energy [www.districtenergy.com] burning dead/fallen trees instead of coal.

Blog 8: Honors Presentations

The honors presentations really brought the juice! These project goals are massive, and could be approached from many many angles. The contect of these honors projects were well narrowed down and thought through. One that stood out was Goal 8 by Broc Blagen and Kelley Berkley.
They focused on communication technology in Somalia, explaining it is a center of commerce where communication is vital. They explained that Kenya is a country that has adapted new technology well, and looked at how this was done in Kenya for how to implement it in Somalia. They also explained current and potential uses and how it benefits the community. For example, in Kenya, cell phones were used in the latest election and proved effective by making it the largest attended campeign in Kenyan history. Use of phones also lower amount of corruption in ballots because the information can be transfered directly. They wrapped up with "the seed has been planted" and listed a few organiazations that are currently working on this same issue.

Visually, this project and Goal 1 were the most impressive. They were very clean and used 'white space' very well. The people from Goal 1 even spiced up the images in the white space by overlapping other images or breaking up a single image (i tried to make some examples of what it looked like).


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Blog 7 & 8

Blog 7: Section Presenations

While all projects had both strong and weak points, some projects from recitation were actually difficult to sit through. Primarily due to the fact that some kids seem to think that the more they say, the more they appear to know the material. Wrong. Presentations were supposed to last between 10-15 minutes, which, if split up efficiently, is a sufficient amount of time to cover the material. However, groups felt the need to talk for upwards of 25 minutes, with the winner taking the gold metal of 35. There's my rant.

Overall the projects were visually interesting, and I enjoyed seeing how each group interpereted their goal visually. The group I will focus on is Goal 7, ensuring environmental sustainability. They had a wealth of bells and wistels, including a pamphlet reiterating the general points of their slide show, and a video compilation of interviews gather peoples opinions on environmental sustainability. Their strongest point conceptually was the gradual shift from a dark background to light, as they moved from present, exessive usage of non-renewable resources to a more sustainable alternative.
However, their content, and purpose of a research project, was surface at best. They looked only at the small scale solutions and options like alternative fuel cars, solar panels for homes, switching to energy efficient appliances and lightbulbs, etc. ...I hear this from TV commercials every day.
I would have liked to hear about (and did from the honors presentation on this goal) green buildings [like anything from here: http://thegreendevelopers.com/ ], or current technology that stems away from non-renewable resources like District Energy [www.districtenergy.com] burning dead/fallen trees instead of coal.

I was thoroughly impressed with the quality of the honors presentation, primarily visually.

April 24, 2008

Service Learning

Service Learning 1:
Wed 3/5

I was fortunate enough to continue working at the same location and with the same kids as last semester, allowing me to continue building relationships and trust with the kids...and getting a bit more respect from them as well.

The first day was mostly getting reaquanted with the place and the kids, just helping them with homework - they were going over adding/subtracting fractions... something I still suck at - and then enjoying some kick ball!

Service Learning 2:
Wed 4/9

When it comes to homework or educational activities there a few things that get these kids exctied. Food, early recess, and timber wolves tickets. Yeah, that threw me off as well. Appearantly they were learning about sports commentary and were having some famous sports announcer (I "should" know, but I'm not big enough into sports to know announcers) come the following monday to talk about it. I helped the kids create and edit mock sports cast to be read for this announcer. All kids got to go to the game as a field trip, but the few kids with the best sportscast got box seats, food, and some periphenalia! woot woot.

Service Learning 3
Wed 4/16

I've been with the 5th graders this whole time and have really gotten to know most of the kids, a few of whom I am appearntly their "buddy." As I've gotten to know the kids I've also gotten to know the staff better. The team leader for 5th grade is a guy named Matthew. He's your average joe; long hair, tattoos, black fingernail polish, the occasional tie-dye shirt, etc. But this is his second to last session with the kids. He has taken a new job in White Bear to work with mentally disabled children. I am curious to see if there will be any transition period for the kids, or if they don't care too much about who is teaching them, as long as they get their snacks and 'choice time.'
Today I took each child into the hall individually to ask them some questions from an end of the year survey ACES requires all students to answer. It is interesting to talk to them one on one and seeing their reaction to questions like "do you ever feel the need to hit people to get what you want?" and hearing what each wants to do when they grow up. There are a few kids who are extremely bright! I hope they don't get dulled by the sequential process school sets as a norm.

Service Learning 4
Mon 4/21

Today the kids were being educated on renewable vs non-renewable energy. Sustainability seems to be the hot topic these days. To demonstrate the cost of coal mining and cost of fixing the land mined the kids (and we got to participate too) in a cookie mining activity. The chocolate chips = coal. Three different brands of cookie represented different states, each costing a different amount and containing a different amount of chips. Like I said before: food, early recess, timberwolves tickets. In other words, they were pretty well behaved for this exorcise.

Service Learning 5
Wed 4/23

Today was the first day Mathew wasn't at ACES, and the kids did ask where he was, but they all went on as usual.
In continuation of their series on energy, ACES brought in a couple of speakers from District Energy. They put told the kids what they use to create energy (mostly trees actually...), where they supply energy too, and how they heat/cool buildings (water mostly). These kids are sharp enough to know that these guys didn't have the best social skills.. The speakers had a hard time finding a balance between talking to these 5th graders like they're 5 or like they worked at this energy plant too.
I am nearing the end of my time at ACES this semester and was offered a paid position there next semester. I'll have to give some thought to that. While it is very rewarding, both for myself and the kids, it is a time requirement that I don't want to take away from school. We'll see if I have decided anything before my last service blog.

April 13, 2008

blog 7

Project Cover Mock-ups

I'm not very fluent in photoshop, but these at least attempt to grasp the ideas I wanted to convey. I wanted to compare the children to statistics in hopes to illustrate that is exactly what they are not.

First Attempt:

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Variation of first attempt:

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I felt that, though this does do a better job of convey my idea, it is too cluttered. So for my second two attempts I went for a "less is more" approach.

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cover #3


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April 8, 2008

the flow of love

blog 3:

In the last blog post, I was to look into and become and advocate for a social design issue. This is one I was already an advocate for:

Thousands of children walk a number of miles before night comes to find a safe place to sleep lest they be abducted by a group called the Lords Rebellion Army. The LRA is led by Joseph Kony, a crazy devil of a man who desires to overthrow ugandan government in the name of "God." So he steals children, brainwashes them, kills their friends in front of them and ties them down with fear to keep them from escaping.
Children are not meant to fend for themselves, to take care of themselves, find food and shelter on their own.

My project goal is the eradication of poverty and hunger. From looking at these videos it may seem like poverty is the wrong focus. True. My heart is for helping those who cannot help themselves, whether it is a need for food or a need for safety. I do believe in God, but not the god of the LRA, that god is not God. God is for these children, He is a "Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation." Hosea writes (14:3). The fatherless find mercy in Him.
My faith in God is the inspiration for my desire for change. It is Gods character to have a heart for the oppressed, the broken, and the poor. For as Jesus spoke, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." Mathew 5:3-4.
My belief in God as a Father propogates my belief that we need to extend help to those in need. I believe we need to be the "kingdom of God" we want to see.
God loved us, so we share that love with others in the form of service.


Research Project Ideas

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http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/190477265X/ref=sib_dp_pt#reader-link

http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0262062615/ref=sib_dp_pt#reader-link

a clockwork of familiarity

Blog 5:
How does the build environment effect who you are.

The built environment is man-made surroundings that provide the setting for human activity. By this definition, the built environment is personal and differs from person to person.

The standards and familiarities of a rural farmer can be very different from an urban dwelling lawyer or businessman.

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The farmer is surrounded by manual labor excorsizing body over mind. He is surrounded by equipment the lawyer will most likely never need to get familiar with, thus requiring the farmer to have different knowledge of how to fix these machines. He will probably teach him son these skills, influencing the next generation to exist in a similar built environent.

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The lawyer may be acustomed to culture and foods that the farmer may have not experienced, and exherts more metal energy for work. The next generation of this person would be accustomed to these foods, economic status, and comforts, making that the standard of his built environment.

The items, tractors or flatscreen tv's, make up frameworks of comfort, which is familiar to a person. Familiarity is a clockwork each rely on in determining their future environment.

My built environment has been less familiar. From birth to age 5 my family worked with an orginazation called navigators and moved four times to four different states, but I was too young to think of anything as a built environment. and from 5-13 we stayed in one place, but my focus was not yet on design and still didn't think of things in terms of 'environments' or 'clockworks'. At age 13 my parents divorced, splitting my familiarity into fragments. The next year my dad was remarried, introducing a new component I would need to integrate into my clockwork of familiarity. The following year my mother moved away, taking away a scource of familiarity.

I feel that all of these events, after moving on from the damaging parts, increased my environment and showed that what seems to be familiar, what seems to be a reliable clockwork, its kinda just a thing itself.

A Life of Design

Blog 4:

Ok, here is what could be interpereted as a total suck up answer (and sometimes THOSE are the ones that make blog of the week... ha, and that statement negates whatever suck-up-ed-ness I am about to say):
I feel like nearly everything I have enjoyed doing in life is because it had to do with design.

Of course I didn't think of it that way at the time. I didn't like legos because I got to put together buildings. I mean, that was part of it, but that comes from somewhere. I liked legos because it connected with something deep inside me. Actually, right as I wrote that I started to think, "what in me did it connect with?"

It has something to do with creating, and something to do with creativity. I think those are separate concepts that then come together in the process of design.
Creating because at the end, I had a finished product I could share with others, showing them all the time and work that went into it whatever castle or spaceship I just finished.

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Creativity because what I made can now serve a purpose. The castle can now house warriors who will have to fight off a dragon, or the spaceship can now warp through a blackhole in order to espace the aliens that are destroying his planet. Now only that, but after that spaceship does get destroyed, I don't have to stick to the plans, I can make it look however I want.

I am already doing one thing that utilizes design that is completely outside the constraints of school. I am the song writer and vocalist of a melodic metalcore band in the twin cities. No..nothing that would be played on 93x..that stuff sucks.
Music has always been a passion of mine and metal is my outlet because it allows for the more freedom and creativity. The song structure isn't verse, chorus, bridge, chorus. Here, one part can foreshadow whats to come, but not go into it till letting two or three other riffs build up into it.

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Legos and music for they are only outlets for my passion. Design. To have a vision and then explore various avenues till the presented product matchs- or even exceeds- the original vision.
Although these don't do much to the physical environment, they do have impact on the personal and psychological environments.

More unrelated and unrealistic: if I were released from the constraints of school AND had money to burn I would travel to various places over the globe and build my architectural repitoire and life experiences.

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Blog 2 : Sustainability

Blog 2 : Sustainability

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Sustainability and "Green" Design have been gaining popularity and momentum exponentially over the past few years, although the concept is as old as buildings. In the middle east many homes use a unique mesh and 'wind towers' to funnel air as a natural air conditioning, in south America very thick walls of earth are used to help insulate and cool the house, etc. Architects like Wright, and Fuller, had conceptual designs for fully sustainable buildings 50 or 60 years ago. Now it has caught on and the ideas are being renamed, modernized, and improved to fit our current technological state.

The need is evident. In the United States alone, buildings account for 65% of electricity consumption, 36% of energy use, 30% of green house gas emissions, 30% raw materials use, and 30% of waste output (136 tons annually).

Many groups and firms have sought to improve these statistics, making sustainability their primary focus and are now placing the spotlight on this issue. One of these groups is AIA (American Institute of Architects). Their recent efforts have been centered on a position statement called the "2030 Challenge" calling for immediate energy reduction for all new and renovated buildings, bringing energy usage to have the national average for each respective building type. Not only this, but the statement will implement a 10% reduction every five years so that, by 2030, all buildings designed will be carbon neutral (meaning they will use no fossil fuel energy). The statement was unanimously adopted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors in June of 2006, implementing this changes in Albuquerque, Miami, Chicago, and Seattle. This plan would benefit Minneapolis greatly.

What is being done about this locally? Sustainability has just started to become a "hot" word in MN, but a design group LHB recently built a very green firm right here. It was built to optimize day lighting, uses R-26 precast wall system for thermal efficiency, included high performance polycarbonate windows, and even carried the trend indoors using wheat board shelving and sunflower composit cabinets.

Some buildings have adopted a quite literal translation of this term placing gardens of carefully chosen plants to grow on the roof tops. These lightweight systems propagate the vegetation while protecting the integrity of the underlying structure and increasing its longevity. The primary advantage is a lower temperature of the interior due to its multiple layers and the evaporative nature of the vegetation. it also lowers the absorption and release of radiation, and regulating rain water.

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Now many designers are looking to using recycled and recyclable materials for building. Shiguru Ban has utilized cardboard tubes for his buildings impressing for its stability and calling it "new wood". In Amsterdam the college housing unit Keetwonen was built entirely out of shipping containers.

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Innovation doesn't have to cost a fortune. I believe that its only a matter of time till we start seeing new methods of attaining sustainability blossom out of MN.

February 7, 2008

Blog Prompt #1 - Engery, Flow, Transformation

So often people go out into nature to escape the busy world they are building for themselves. There is something about sitting near a body of water, listening to the birds sing, and spending time in thought. Maybe its the fact that nature doesn't need us to survive and grow? It is balanced, self sustaining. Every day it creates something new, transforms the area around it. It has a visible energy.


A City is often thought of as a place of energy. Whether because of its night life, places to gather, or entertainment and attractions. Yet, none of those are specific to a city.. they are rather events and situations often put in the context of a city. Does a city have enerygy? Why don't more people go and sit on a sidewalk somewhere to 'find themselves'?

Buildings appear to have energy, some may even say they 'watched it grow' as it was built. As people flow in and out of this new building it may even have the capabilities of transforming the area around it, depending on what type of building it is and what type of people go there. But the building took energy of people to be built, and by itself has no energy. Its not self sustaining. What may have been the newest trend eventually falls out of style and as people drift to other locations, the building certainly does not keep growing -the way a tree would- it almost dies. So is the energy of a city not in its buildings but its people?

People go in and out of a city like a rushing river. They bring life into empty space. People can certainly transform their surroundings. By building new sections, cleaning up old ones, or even by destroying what is no longer desired, there definitely seems to be energy in the people of a city. They work together, hatch ideas and then bring them to fruition. But humans are far from self sustaining. We are not balanced. We get energy from other things and even our original ideas are influenced by things outside ourselves.

I'm not going to pretend like I know exactly what this is. I believe it could be attributed to our maker. If we are made in His image, we too have a desire - or maybe even a need - to create. All I will say, in comparison with nature, this energy goes beyond us and must be self sustaining in order for us to draw from it and thus take energy and life to transform a place or a person.