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March 6, 2008

Definition of I in the Built Environment

How does the built environment affect me? Hmmm...where do I even start.

I suppose the appropriate place to start is where I grew up: Salt Lake City, Utah.

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I realize this picture does not show the built environment (except maybe the road running through the front), but this is what so much of Utah looks like that I feel it accurately describes the environment.

Telling people that I am from Utah is similar to telling someone that you are form Luxembourg, because no one really knows anyone from Utah similalry to the fact that no one really knows anyone from Luxembourg. I am actually suspicious that Luxembourg doesn't even exist. Another funny thing about Utah is that I feel like it is very underrated. It is stuck in this stereotype of having really odd people that live there. The people can be occasionally odd but harmless. I would pick the people of Salt Lake before the people of New York or St. Louis, or any big city for that matter. The scenery is huge and gorgeous, I miss the mountains every day. The weather is far superior to Minneapolis and living here for one winter makes Salt Lake seem oh so perfect. The built environment made it possible for me to live in that beauty part of the world.

I grew up in a house in the mountains about ten minutes outside Salt Lake City. In my opion, my house is architecturally gorgeous. I would show a picture of it but the file was lost when the infamous Daniel Gonzales broke into my house and stole my many belongings including my laptop but I suppose that is irrelevant to the topic. I never really appreciated my house until I moved away and then returned. My parents were brilliant in the design process along with the architect. My house, although only ten minutes from the city, is still very secluded which I think adds to the dramatic effect of visiting my house. This is where my place in the built environment begins.

I have been thinking a lot lately after looking into my term project about how lucky I am. If I really think about it, it actually makes me feel a little guilty. I read all of these statistics about India and Africa, and it is overwhelming to me that people live in those situations. They live in an environment that is overpopulated and in poverty. When I think of my built environment and then there built environment, I struggle to find any similarities. This is where the feeling of guilt comes in. The area I live in is underpopulated and a great place to live, yet these people halfway around the world struggle in a deteriorating unsustainable environment.

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Of course the situation is complicated, but lets think simply and unrealistic for a moment. Why are those people living there when there is a much better environment to be living in, such as the acres of open space around my house in Utah? I am aware of the possibility of that sounding completely ignorant but I find it to be more of a legitimate question than people think.

I feel that the built environment in which you live in defines you. It is the space in which nearly every aspect of your life takes place. The built environment, being nearly every aspect of my life, made it possible for me to go to school my whole life as well as allow me to enjoy the life I have lived so far. Now i realize that I could have just as easily been born on India or Africa. I have thought my whole life to not try and think too much about things I can't control, which I still agree with. I can't control that I was born here, but I do have control over whether or not I can try and make a change and help the people that are less fortunate. The hard part is trying to decide where to begin.

The built environment affects me in the way that it has given me a place on this earth. A place that defines me by the charactersitics of society which ultimately is shaped by the built environment. The idea that I live here and the unfortunate people who live in slms live there is a very ignorant way to look at things and I feel like I have been doing that my whole life. The built environment that I live in allows me to think that way because I am fortunate and I overloook the bigger picture. I had grown comfortable in relatively easy life. Finally my eyes have been opened and I'm being weened off of this feeling of total comfort.

We have grown literally afraid to be poor. We despise anyone who elects to be poor in order to simplify and save his inner life. If he does not join the general scramble and pant with the money-making street, we deem him spiritless and lacking in ambition. ~William James