May 5, 2008

Presentation Blog 2

All of the projects were done in different ways, and each group took a unique approach to them. the presentations all contained very useful information and gave me a new insight on at least one topic of their discussion.

The most interesting project was one that was done on Sustainability, the same goal that my group worked on. Although there are many aspects of sustainability, I was still expecting for the two projects to have more similarities. Their projects focused on different topics regarding sustainability.

One of the big things that they addressed was earthen housing. After having heard their discussion about the different methods, such as adobe, cob, and bamboo building, I firmly believe that our nation, and our world as a whole, needs to start doing a better job of using resources. We waste entirely too much of our environment building structures out of materials that we don't need to be using. The other resources that are available are much more environmentally friendly.

Also, they discussed irrigation. In the beginning, irrigation flowed with the shape and structure of the land, merely serving the purpose of getting water from one point to another without extreme disruption to the environment. Today, any means necessary are taken to ensure that water can reach its destination. This comes at the cost of destroying natural environments and the habitats of animals. We need to start working with the land and natural waterways more closely to ensure irrigation without destruction.

A few of their topics were also addressed in our project. the fact that new design techniques are working to maximize energy efficiency was a strong point in both projects. There are many different sources of energy besides the fossil fuels that we rely on today. One way that this is being addressed is by simply maximizing that amount of sunlight that enters a building. This lowers the amount of heating that is needed, an the sunlight can also be used as solar energy. Along with using sunlight, newer, green, designs are also working with alternative heating/cooling methods that will not use nearly as much energy as conventional methods. Most of these have to do with insulation and air-flow through buildings, which are both extremely cost-effective ways to increase efficiency.

Because the project was based on the same goal of sustainability as ours was, there were many similarities in the methods that could be used to achieve the goal. Overall, the solutions seemed to be very effective and practical. The project was very complete and outlined what would be a giant step in the right direction to achieve sustainability.

April 30, 2008

HoMeWoRk and HoOpS!!

The last few weeks at HnH have been pretty interesting. Usually, each child has their own tutor that they stick with for an entire semester. Lately, however, there have been both tutors and kids leaving the program with a few new kids starting as well. This has led to both tutor shortages, and children that are upset about the fact that they constantly have a different tutor. My responsibilities have changed as well. On Wednesdays, I usually work at the resource table making sure everyone has what they need, but I have been tutoring instead because of shortages. Also, Zack, my usual student moved away. I am now working with one of the new students on Mondays. This has been a big change for me because Zack was a 5th grader, and Asad is only in 2nd grade. The entire process of helping a younger kid is much different. There are different techniques that have to be used to keep them on task, and also different ways of helping them to understand something that is challenging for them.

It has also been challenging at times because just like everyone else, the kids can’t wait for school to be over and summer to be here. I have noticed that especially when there is good weather, the kids have been very wound up and at times can be difficult to control. I think that the program may even be getting a bit redundant for them. They are fighting and causing conflicts between each other more often, which has made being their tutor and their friend more difficult because I am being forced to discipline them.

April 24, 2008

Project Ananlysis 1

The first group to go did their project on sustainability. This is interesting for me to analyze because it is the same topic that our group is doing. it was first off very interesting to see what they had come up with for ideas and how they chose to format their project.

The first thing that I noticed is that although they addressed some of the same topics as we did, they chose to do it in a different manner. What stands out to me is the green roofs and the overall expansion of green space, and the section about recycling and using old materials to create new, efficient buildings. Both of these are very important aspects in creating a sustainable environment and they made very valid points about the facts of each issue.

The format of the presentation was very appealing, although there seemed to be a lot of text. I never wanted to take the time to read what was written on each slide, which was alright during a presentation when they were telling us what it said, but if I had been reading a portfolio, I would have just skimmed and read a few points on each page.

Also, there seemed to be enough grammatical/typing errors that I noticed. None of them specifically took away from what the presentation was about, but they were enough to distract me from what aI was supposed to be reading of paying attention to during the presentation.

April 7, 2008

Project Covers

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March 13, 2008

Blog Prompt 6

As I sit on the internet trying to decide on what approach to take to writing this, I keep getting distracted by other websites, my inbox, and ads that appear on almost every website that I visit. The amount of time that I spend not doing my blog while on the internet amazes me. Because of this I think one effective way to present the material would definitely be through a website. There would be all sorts of brightly colored flashing ads placed on websites that people commonly use in order to attract attention and the website would be a representation of the research that we have collected.

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Most people that I know waste unnecessary time of the internet every day. If the information was made to look appealing in an ad that created a border on an interesting website, there would be many people each day that would be looking for a distraction from whatever else they are supposed to be doing. This would be a very useful distraction because it would serve to educate people about the problems that the United States has with maintaining a sustainable environment for the future.

Homework and Hoops

Every Monday and Wednesday afternoon I get ready to go and wonder what to expect when I get there. There were a few weeks that were a little rough because I think the kids were getting sick of winter, but now that it finally seems like spring is here, the kids seem to be more cooperative. It has also been a challenge lately to keep the kids focused on what they are learning. I really think that spring break is much needed and I'm sure that they will appreciate it just as much as everyone else.

I have been working with both Zack and Daniel. Although they usually have the same homework, it is interesting to see the different ways that they both learn Daniel is more steady while doing his work while Zack will do some really quickly and then need a break or something to distract him before he does anymore.

One thing I have noticed that sometimes bothers me, however, is that sometimes the kids pretend to not know the answer when I know that they know it. I sometimes don't know how to deal with this situation but end up asking prompting questions until they finally come out with the correct answer. I feel like this is a cry for attention but that we are there to give the kids attention so I don't really know how to approach the situation.

I am overall very satisfied with my experience so far at homework and hoops. I have gained patience and understanding for the kids. It has also helped me to realize that different people learn things in different ways and therefore need to be treated differently.

March 6, 2008

Blog Prompt 5

There are many different ways in which the built environment of my life affects who I am and what I do on a daily basis. I would like to contribute most of the aspects of my environment that support or detract from who I am to the people in my life. The people involved in different aspects of my life are the frameworks, their actions and how I interact with them are clockworks, which cause the phenomena of my life, and they do, at times detract from who I am as a person. Although there are many more frameworks that have influenced my built environment, people in my life are a key part of who I am.

Frameworks ----> Clockworks ----> Phenomena

There are many different groups of people that have influenced my life in a variety of ways. People that I feel have had great impacts are: my extended family, high school friends, girls on my soccer team, and all the new people that I have met at college.

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My family: My family has always been there for me. They have put up with me through the good and the bad. My family has created clockworks in my life because they instilled the values that influence the most basic decisions that I make everyday. These values determine how I treat other people and create the phenomenon of human cooperation.

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High School friends: These are the people that I spent the challenging years of my adolescence with. Even though we though we were just have fun, we were constantly challenging eachother to make decisions that would teach us lessons about how to treat the world ,as well as other people. These are the clockworks that have led to the phenomenon of me starting to have an understanding of the world and how people can functionally interact with eachother.

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Soccer Team: This was a group of girls that no one would have ever expected me to spend time with. They were in a group of friends that was completely different from the people that I would normally associate with in high school, but through countless hours of open gyms and practice, we managed to form a bond. We had a system of communication and working together that no on e would be able to recognize if they weren't on our team. This clockwork of my life created the phenomenon of being able to communicate with people despite great differences.

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College friends: Wow, what an adventure. We all got here about six months ago having no idea what to expect. I am amazed at the relationships that I have formed already and the way that this many people can all function together working towards the common goal of obtaining an education. I thought that because I was moving away from my parents I was going to have to become completely independent and have to fight for myself. this is not the case. A phenomenon that I have realized in the short time that I have been a college student is that everyone here needs to independently rely on others to make it through their daily life. I know that I couldn't do it alone. The people that I have met constantly influence the decisions that I make and without them I would be completely lost.

Although the people in my life make my life what it is, I also sometimes realize that I could possibly be more productive if I spent more time alone and working on things for my own good instead of constantly trying to help other people. The phenomenon that have been created by the people in my life are nothing short of amazing, and I love helping others, but one downfall of this is that I sometimes put off the needs of my own life in order to be involved in the lives of others.

February 28, 2008

dreamland

"Lack of money is the root of all evil." -George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)

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Money has always been a puzzling concept to me. I know that it came about as a source of trading goods, but really, honestly, it's a bit ridiculous. I give you green paper and you give me cool stuff. I am a believer that all people are created equal. This is where I would change the world. I wish we could eliminate money and the fact that it runs each and every aspect of our lives.

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I know that this is one of those things that sounds really good in theory, but would never be practical. No one in the world would ever have any motivation to do anything to help anyone else. People wouldn't work because they wouldn't make any money doing it. The world would no longer be functional because we have to have motivation to keep the world running the way that it is. Even people that say they absolutely love their jobs would no longer have a reason to get up and go to work each day.

In my world, however, everyone would share and work for the common good of all people.

You want food, ok, come get some from me. Oh, you need a refrigerator to keep it in? The refrigerator factory is handing them out tomorrow between 10 and 3.

I know, absolutely ridiculous yet again, but it would be an awesome world if everyone could get what they wanted by working their share and contributing to the common good of the world. Another problem that I could foresee with this is that there is no room for advancement in anything. Who would decide to be in charge of everyone else? How would any public programs ever get funded if there was no money? What would happen to the entertainment industry? Also, there are too many greedy people in the world that would take advantage of other people.

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There are endless problems that I can foresee in a world with no money, but it would still be pretty cool to not have to ever be concerned about a bank account.


"Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort." -Franklin D. Roosevelt

February 21, 2008

Blog 2 & Service Learning Disappeared!!

I was trying to change the appearance of my blog and somehow ended up deleting my first two blog entries and the entries about my service learning. I had the second entries saved on my computer but lost the first.

Blog 2

I am not extremely familiar with the Twin Cities seeing as though I haven't even been here for six months. One thing I have noticed in my time here, however, is the amount of low-income housing that is available. I come from a primarily white, middle class city. Although there is low-income housing present, it is not even close to the extreme amount within the Cities. After doing a bit of research I also discovered that there is becoming less and less of this housing available. One organization that is trying to assist is the Housing Preservation Project. It is a fairly new non-profit organization that is trying to keep affordable subsidized housing in the metropolitan area.

The Housing Preservation Project was founded in 1999 with the mission of keeping as much affordable, low-income housing in the cities as possible. The organization realizes that this type of housing is constantly being lost due to changes in the market and loss of government funding. There are also many more reasons for the losses, but one major factor is that the housing market is forever changing, and the general trend that is seen is that prices are rising. The Housing Preservation Project works with both property owners and the government to try and create contracts and legal documents to keep housing available to low income individuals and families. While this organization is working to provide low income, subsidized housing, they are also working for so much more.

While trying to put people in good homes, the Housing Preservation Project is also working to put reform through the way that the government focuses on these things and create policies that will allow the housing to be available for long periods of time to come. In order to do this, the organization must be continually tracking the housing that is currently available, the properties that are in danger, and any potential new properties. This is an extremely time-consuming task, but in order to make any progress in reform or bettering the living conditions, it is completely necessary. Housing Preservation Project is doing everything that they can to keep subsidized housing available and affordable for low income people in the Twin Cities, but some things are more difficult than they may appear. Difficulties often arise when properties face foreclosure or when landlords/property owners no longer want to be a part of the situation.

The public may be one of the biggest obstacles for providing affordable housing. Low income people are often looked down upon and seen as not worthy. The organization is working diligently to educate the public about subsidized housing and to get their support for the project. By providing subsidized housing, the Cities are becoming a better place for everyone to live.

If the government permits reforms that provide more funding for subsidized, low income housing, there will be more of this housing available to the low income public. Although the Housing Preservation Project has been very successful, they are constantly fighting to keep affordable housing in the Twin Cities by working with both landowners and the government and using existing laws to exercise the rights of low income persons in order to give them a safe, affordable place to live.

Service Learning 2

I am really starting to enjoy helping out at Homework ‘N Hoops. The connections that can be made with the kids being tutored over just a few short weeks absolutely amaze me. I had my formal training for the position this week and there is actually a lot more involved in the process than one would imagine. All of the theories behind why and how everything is done in the program make complete sense and I can really see how the program benefits the kids. We work with a set of rules that pretty much allows the kids to be in charge of what is happening until they need help or do something inappropriate.

The experience isn’t quite the same on Mondays when I am the resource coordinator because there is not nearly as much interaction with the kids, but it was an awesome feeling when Zack, the child I tutor, came up to me on Monday while I was at the resource table and asked why I wasn’t his tutor for the day. I really love that I can tell I have already made a difference to him, which is the best part about the whole experience.

Blog Prompt 3

"A suitable total for the number of citizens cannot be fixed without considering the land..." - Plato, Laws, V

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The topic that my group has chosen for the term project is environmental sustainability. As a whole, the population of the world generally takes advantage of the resources that we have available to us without considering the consequences of our actions. Only now, when we are finally realizing the damage that has been done, are we stopping to try and problem solve. The amount of consumption, especially in North America and the United States in specific is outrageous. We need to take a step back and look at what we are doing to our one and only Earth.

"Since the beginning of this century, the available ecologically productive land has decreased from over five hectares to less than 1.5 hectares per person in 1995. At the same time, the average North American's footprint has grown to over 4 hectares. These opposing trends are in fundamental conflict: the ecological demands of average citizens in rich countries exceed per capita supply by more than a factor of three. This means that the earth could not support even today's population of 5.8 billion sustainably at North American material standards." (http://www.buddycom.com/animal/envirimg/footprint/index.html)


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This is a representation of the fact that a majority of economical resources are being consumed by just a few nations. If these nations do not change their ways of life in the near future, the Earth will no longer be able to support the habits of the people living in it.

Humans are living well beyond their ecological means and are now exhausting natural resources at an unprecedented rate. In so doing, says WWF's bi-annual report, we are threatening ourselves and all other species with extinction. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2006/oct/25/environment.ethicalliving)

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I believe that a recent song released by princess of American pop culture Britney Spears can be taken out of context and used to demonstrate the mindset of many Americans today. All we are ever concerned about is our own well-being and making sure that we are better off than everyone else around us. The lyrics state:

Gimme gimme more
Gimme
Gimme gimme more
Gimme gimme more
Gimme more
Gimme gimme more
Gimme gimme more
Gimme
Gimme gimme more

I just can't control myself

This is a prime representation of Americans being selfish and abusive of the resources that are available to them.

Another song I came across on blind search to find out about environmental sustainability is I'd Like To Teach the World To Sing (In Perfect Harmony) by The New Seekers:

I'd like to build the world a home
And furnish it with love
Grow apple trees and honey bees and snow-white turtle doves

I'd like to teach the world to sing
In perfect harmony
I'd like to hold it in my arms and keep it company
I'd like to see the world for once
All standing hand in hand
And hear them echo through the hills "Ah, peace throughout the land"

(That's the song I hear)
I'd like to teach the world to sing (that the world sings today)
In perfect harmony

(Lead singer and background singers singing simultaneously)

I'd like to teach the world to sing
In perfect harmony

Id like to build the world a home
And furnish it with love
Grow apple trees and honey bees and snow-white turtle doves

There is something that I find to be almost shameful about the amount of resources that are being consumed in the United States every single day. I feel that this is a lack of respect for the rest of the world and would like to see American opinions of consumption change in the near future. Without change, the world can not survive. By living the lives we are, we are punishing future generations for happenings that are completely out of their control.

Another interesting statement I found:

If 80 percent of the manufacturing sector's energy and materials are used to produce single-use products, doesn't that mean that designing those products to be used, say, twice would automatically save 40 percent of the sector's energy and materials?

Finally, on my searches I encountered an intriguing website that I ended up reading for almost an hour.
No Impact Man
This website gives ideas of how to reduce your own impact on the earth and it's resources.