May 8, 2008

Biomimicry

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This has nothing to do with the presentations but I thought it was kinda cool.
The other day I was at work (I'm a waitress) and I was flipping through the April 2008 National Geographic because business was slow and a customer had left it on a table. I was looking at the pictures mostly, flipping away, when all the sudden I found an article called "Biomimetics: Design by Nature" by Tom Mueller. It's all about biomimicry and the cool new technologies/products the field is creating. Since the Biomimicry stuff we talked about in class was my favorite subject, it was really cool to see the article and be able to see and know what it was talking about. I recommend reading it! It's got some neat pics too.

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Critical Analysis of MDG Presentations #2

The second presentation I want to talk about is one that was given during lecture time by two honors students. Their names were Broc and Kelly. Their subject was Goal 8, which is Developing a Global Partnership for development. Since the subject was so broad, they chose to concentrate on developing communication and information technologies. They began with some background about Kenya, which was their chosen region. Then they compared it to other countries in Africa with respect to communication and information technologies. Their realm of response was new technologies that are beginning to be used and/or should be used in Mogadishu, the capitol of Kenya. One of the design solutions they brought up was the One Laptop per Child program. It was cool because they actually were able to show one of the laptops that are used in this program.
What really impressed me about this presentation was how organized it was, and how well researched it was. You could tell they had looked into the issues and knew what they were talking about. Also, I really liked how the slide were set up. They used white in their open spaces, so the whole presentation had a bright, airy feel which I felt fit the subject well because it was talking about bringing something new and good to an area that didn't have it before. Also, there was a "outline" slide, with three pictures representing three topics. Whenever they changed subjects, they came back to this slide and told us what they were going to talk about next. I thought this was really effective because it helped the audience understand the connections between the information given throughout.
Nice job, Kelly and Broc!

Critical Analysis of MDG Presentations #1

I've had a busy few weeks, so I didn't get a chance to do this blog prompt until now, but the presentation I'm going to talk about is one from section last week. I don't remember the names of the presenters, but it was about Goal 6: Combatting HIV/AIDS and Malaria. The region the group chose was Zambia and Zimbabwe. They started out with background on HIV and AIDS and talked about the realm of response for that disease before moving on to Malaria.
The HIV/AIDS realm of response they chose was Design for Humanity, which gets info to the people about AIDS an HIV.
The second part of their presentation, about Malaria, talked about background first and then the realm of response. The realm of response was Nothing but Nets, which is an organization that gets mosquito nets to the people in Africa so they can protect themselves from Malaria carrying mosquitos.
I chose this presentation to talk about because I really liked how they did their presentation. In addition to having lots of background info, their slides were really powerful. One slide that I remember in particular was one with a picture and the number of people who died from Malaria. It was really simple but got the message across. The rest of their slides were really simple also, but the pictures and the simple layout were powerful.
The speaking part of the presentation was well done too, because they split up the speaking parts and had them flowing really well from one speaker to another. It was almost like a performance, and not a presentation. The one criticism I have is that the presentation could have had a bit more structure so it would be easier to follow the line of thinking.

April 2, 2008

Covers

Here are three of the covers that I created for the term project. I don't know if we'll use any of them, but it helped to get my creative juices flowing!

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March 12, 2008

Presentation of our term project

Today my partner and I met to discuss our project- we have the topic of improving maternal health. We hadn't done much work on it before today(!) but we worked something out so that we will have at least a draft done by tomorrow. And then at the very end, we realized that we hadn't given how we were going to present the information any thought. We brainstormed for a while and came up with........... a scrapbook! Or at least something like a scrapbook or portfolio. We both wanted to do something other than a powerpoint or a poster, so we thought it was a great idea. AND my partner works at Joann Fabrics so we'll be able to make use of her discount. Even better.
So, when I was looking for images of presentation and documentation styles for this blog prompt I kept in mind that we would be making a "book".
The first image I liked was from the website of a design firm.
Here it is:

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I like this image because there are alot of pictures and ideas going on, but it's all kept neat and clean by the boxes. If I could find enough contrasting pictures related to our topic, I'd like to try something like this as a page in our book.

Another image I found was this one, from a design firm called big-giant.

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I think this type of layout would work great for a cover page or a table of contents. It's easy to read but the color blocks and the balance make it really interesting.

Finally, I found two more images that I found really powerful in the portfolio section of two different design studio's websites(mcm design and dfraile).

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I like these because the colors are stark and the images and words are powerful because they are so simple. Even though I don't know the context of either of the images, I can feel that they have a purpose and are making a point. In our book, I'd definitely like to use the idea of a single, important word on a page because it is so striking.

March 5, 2008

The environment that affects me

Blog Prompt #5 is "Explore through image and text how the built environment affects (supports or
detracts) who you are. Speculate in terms of frameworks, clockworks, phenomena and
oppositions." Even though Ozayr talked about what frameworks, clockworks, phenomena, and oppositions are in class, I'm still having a hard time grasping the concepts of what they are. But he also said in class that he would like to hear about why we are taking 1701.
So, first of all, why am I taking this class? Well, before taking it I had no idea what "the designed environment" meant, so the reason I signed up for it was because it was required. But now its definitely more than that. I feel like the lectures are really teaching me something, even though I don't really know WHAT it is I'm learning. It's almost like I'm learning about a new way to think. Which is really cool especially since I'm not an architecture major. I am just minoring in architecture, and my major is civil engineering so all the classes I am taking are really grounded in the concrete world, like math and probabilities and physics. Its a relief to have a class like 1701 because its such a change of pace, and I feel like I'm using a different part of my brain........
Which brings me back to the subject of what the blog prompt is asking. Well, from my understanding, clockworks and frameworks are part of a phenomenon, which is basically anything that has a start and an end, can be changed, and have a purpose. So I think an environment itself can be a phenomena. The environment that affects me the most is the environment I live in, like my apartment now or my dorm last year.
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The dorm I lived in last year was Sanford, which is on the opposite end of campus from the rest of the dorms. At first, I figured this wouldn't be a big deal because I could walk over there easily, but in the end I think I went to the super block about twice in the entire year. So my living environment affected who I made friends with (ie people who lived in my dorm). The room I lived in for that first year was a triple made into a quad, since one of the girls was in expanded housing. Four of us basically lived in a room that barely fit two bunk beds and four desks. In fact, when we were all in the room, we could barely fit one more person in. I didn't think that this living situation affected me much and I felt like I was fairly happy. However, once I move out of the room for the summer, I realized how much the cramped quarters had affected me. After moving out, I felt like a huge stress had been lifted off of my shoulders and I was so much happier. That feeling has continued into this year, because the apartment I live in now has two bedrooms for four girls, a nice bathroom, kitchen, and living room.
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It might not seem too luxurious and it isn't the nicest of apartments, but for me it is great. In terms of oppositions, I think this could be compared to the opposition of materials and tools. The example of this opposition given in class was the advent of electric light, allowing people to work at different hours and therefore changing the style of living. In my case, the addition of a few more rooms and new roommates allowed me to change my style of living into something I am more comfortable in.

February 27, 2008

What I would do to affect my environment

When I first saw this blog prompt I thought it read "If you were completely released from the constraints of the 'architecture school' program, what would you do architecturally, artistically, bodily, lyrically, etc. that would still have an impact on THE environment". It actually says "YOUR environment", but since I read it the first way, I started thinking about something I could do to affect the environment. It took some thinking but I finally realized that it would be really cool to make a park that would put kids, AND adults, more in touch with the environment while having fun.
My three inspirations were: a park I read about in Europe, Hyland Park Reserve's Chutes and Ladders park, and Kodomo-no-kuni, a park in Japan.
My first inspiration, the park in Europe, is really vague. In high school I remember reading a fiction book about a girl who lived in Europe who visited a nature preserve or park where she went hiking. The trail was completely open to the public, and had neat obstacle courses and little play areas along the path. Everything was made of wood and was eco-friendly and helped the hikers to feel more in touch with nature while having fun and getting exercise. I don't remember what country this park was in and I don't have the slightest clue about what the book was called, but the description of the park has stuck with me.

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My image of the hiking trail+obstacle course


After I began thinking about the European park, I thought about other cool parks I have been to. One that immediately jumped out was one I visited on field trips in Kindergarten and 1st grade. It took a little searching, but I finally remembered it was called Chutes and Ladders, and it is located in the Hyland Lake Preserve in Bloomington. I remember thinking it was the coolest park EVER as a kid because there was so much to do. There were all sorts of pipes and tubes and tires and ropes that you could play on, and it was so big that you almost could get lost in it. I feel like it was all wood and tires and recycled things that made it up, but the photos I found show that it is colorful and plastic now. Maybe they rebuilt it??

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Chutes and Ladders

The other cool park I remembered was Kodomo-no-kuni (??も?国)in Tokyo, Japan. This park is a combination of a small amusement park, camping grounds, petting zoo, ice skating rink, play ground, small farm, and all sorts of other things. I used to go to it every summer when I visited my grandparents in Japan for about 6 weeks. The thing about this park that I liked was that nothing was too organized or clean or set-up. It might sound weird but it was a blast because we could basically do whatever we wanted. Everything was outside and had a kind of 'organic' feeling and you really got dirty and in touch with nature when you played there.
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Kodomo-no-kuni

So, after I had gone through this whole thought process I read the blog prompt one more time and realized it said "your environment" instead of just "the environment". But even if it wouldn't affect my environment directly, I would really actually like to build, or at least have, a park that would be fun and put you more in touch with nature around in Minnesota. My ideal would be a mixture of all three of my inspirations: HUGE and unorganized with no one telling you what to do like Kodomo-no-kuni, with lots of things to play with and hide in like Chutes and Ladders, and one with nature like the park in Europe. Actually, if there was a park like this it would affect my environment because I would always be playing in it!

February 19, 2008

Educating Kids??

The three goals I chose for our final project were: achieve universal primary education, eradicate extreme hunger and poverty, and reduce child mortality. The one I am most interested in is achieving universal primary education.
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According to the MDG website, the goal is more specifically to "ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling". Without an education, youth won't be able to grow up and become adults that will make informed and forward-thinking decisions, and without adults that can do this, the rest of the MDG targets won't be possible either.

The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.
-Diogenes Laertius

The MDG website listed a bunch of sobering facts about education around the world.

-One in four adults in the developing world - 872 million people - is illiterate.
(Oxfam UK - Education Now Campaign)
-More than 100 million children remain out of school. (Source:UNFPA)
-46% of girls in the world's poorest countries have no access to primary education. (Source:ActionAid)
-More than 1 in 4 adults cannot read or write: 2/3 are women. (Source:ActionAid)
Universal primary education would cost $10 billion a year - that's half what Americans spend on ice cream. (Source:ActionAid)
-Young people who have completed primary education are less than half as likely to contract HIV as those missing an education. Universal primary education would prevent 700,000 cases of HIV each year ...about 30% all new infections in this age group. (Source:Oxfam)

The fact that Americans spend more than double the money that it would take to educate every child in the world on ice cream was the most startling to me. Many people think that they can't make a difference, but this is clearly untrue. Just donate that money you spend on ice cream!! It's almost as if people are waiting for and expecting others to fix the world's problems for them.

The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children.
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

John Mayer- "Waiting on the World to Change"


It shouldn't be a privilege to go to school. There should be no question about it!I loved going to school as a kid (and still love it) and I can't believe that some kids have to grow up without the experiences that you can have only at school.

The White Stripes- "We're Going to be Friends"


The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance.
-Socrates

To create a better world, the children must be educated.
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February 13, 2008

Social Design: Metro Transit

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When we were first given this blog prompt, I was pretty confused. What in the world is social design? According to Wikipedia, social design can be "design in its traditional sense, meaning the shaping of products and services." It can also be "the creation of social reality; design of the social world." hmmm.... these definitions didn't help much. But then I got to thinking about the readings we've been assigned. Tom Fisher says that "...almost everything- from the operation of a company to the organization of a community to the order of our physical environment- can be approached as a design problem" in "Design in the World of Flows". I also thought about my sociology class, where we have been learning about socialization. Our sense of self is shaped enormously by the people and things that are around us. Almost everything around us is designed by a designer to appeal to us or make us act in a certain way.
So, a social design issue would be... any issue that is calculated to make us act a certain way. One such issue that I can advocate (because it makes sense) is the public transit system and the ways they are trying to get people to use it. I've noticed recently that ads for Metro Transit are appealing to us by saying that riding the bus is "green".
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Going "green" and being eco-friendly is a big and important issue around the world, and these ads designed to make us feel like we should use public transit to support the cause. I don't ride buses often, but this example of design has definitely affected how I feel when I walk past a bus stop or climb into my car. I think a lot people probably feel the same way as me. The ads have succeed in making me, and others, more aware of the issue.
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February 6, 2008

Andy Goldsworthy and Energy Flow through the City

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Andy Goldworthy's art is deeply connected with the flow of energy and time, as is seen in the film "Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy". He creates his art with nature and it is destroyed by other forces of nature and time. The art shows that in nature, energy is always conserved and flows from one form to another.
In Minneapolis, and cities in general, this idea of energy flow is also true. Energy cycles in different time spans, like days, seasons, and years. For instance, the seasons change in Minneapolis dramatically. In the winter it snows and gets ridiculously cold, and in the summer it is warm and gorgeous. But you can always count on winter to come around again.

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In one day, morning breaks and energy flows into the city in the form of commuters to work. More energy is consumed and created during the day because more people are up and doing things. Then, in the evening, energy leaves the city as people go home. The city recovers at night, and then begins the cycle of energy once again the next day.

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Even bigger spans of time also show the cycle of energy. Buildings are built and destroyed, old and run-down areas are revived while once bustling areas are abandoned, people living in the city grow old and die while new people are also born.

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