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February 28, 2008

We often view celebrities as self-serving ego maniacs who only care about their money and their fame. In some cases, I would say this is true. There is however, a great potential for those celebrities to impact the world through their audience. They may not realize it, bu twhen they start to care about issues of Global importance, they influence ordinarty people to attempt changes in their daily lives that can help others. This is something that I see in the life of U2 singer Bono. I admire him very much, and if I were a musician, I would do the types of things he does to influence the world around me.


February 27, 2008

2-25-08 at Green Central

Yet another day in the life of fourth graders at Green Central. I had lots of fun today, as a matter of fact. Not many of the kids had homework to work on, but there were several different activities to participate in. I actually got to work one on one with a hispanic boy who doesn't speak much english. I quizzed him on his multiplication facts. To start with, he tried to say some of the answers in spanish, and some of those he did say in english he was getting wrong. I wasn't sure if he was just saying the wrong numbers because he wasn't sure of their translation into english or because he didn't know the math problem. I encouraged him to try to say the answers in english, and for some of them, he wrote the answers on paper, asking me for clarification of the english words for the numbers. He eventually was giving all of the answers in english, and getting most of them right. I got really excited, to be honest. Later, he started asking me questions about myself, and I gently corrected his grammar, and had him repeat his questions agian correctly. I don't know how much I actually taught him, but I think my encouragement helped him to have a desire to learn and use his english. At one point, he discovered that I speak French, and he started asking me how to say this or that phrase in French. What a desire to learn! After several minutes, and a page full of words in french I had written out for him tucked in his backpack, I kindly suggested that we work on his English first. He just smiled at me. After study time, I went down to the gym and played three on three basketball with some of the older boys and some other volunteers. we had a blast, and I think some good connections were made. Kids really appreciate volunteers playing with them. It forms a bond that they wouldn't have if all we did was tell them what to do all the time. that is one of the strengths of ACES in my opinion. Well that's it for now, Matt Out.

February 24, 2008

Blog Prompt #3: My Evil Plan to Save the World

This is an image of red candles lit in honor of the memory of AIDS victims

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This is a song by one of my favorite christian bands, Five Iron Frenzy. It is intended to make a bold statement about how we approach huge issues like povery and world hunger. In escence, if we try to develop a solution that is intended to bring ourselves money or fame, we are approaching the issues with wrong motives, and will ultimately fail in accomplishing our objective. the only way to go about "Saving the World" is out of true love for the people who are suffering, and a self-sacrificing attitude in our work to help them. Idealy, we will recognise that our own feeble efforts amount to very little, and we must pray to God for help in everything that we do. Only with God's power backing us can we truly make a difference for good in the world, because we can only truly be working with the right motive if we let God's word guide our actions.

This is the website of a christian organization for which I have a lot of respect. They are one of many organizations trying to end the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Check out thier website by clicking below:

Fighting AIDS: Get Involved

Being a Christian, I looked in the Bible to see what it says about my involvement in fulfilling the Millenium Goals. Below is a passage that speaks specifically to God's call upon us to help those in need.

Matthew 25:34-40 (New International Version)
"Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’"

In the passage above, Jesus Christ is speaking to people gathered before him awaiting entrance to heaven on judgement day. He explains that we are to treat the least fortunate people on earth in the same way that we would be expected to treat God if he were to cross our path. This demonstrates how important it is to take action, and help those who are hungry, thirsty, sick, or in need of clothing or shelter. Think about your life. how often have you clothed, fed or comforted "one of the least of these"?

February 13, 2008

Volunteering day 1

Monday was my first day volunteering with ACES this semester. I went to Green Central like I did last semester. I was able to find a bus that would get me to within walking distance, so I don't have to carpool this time. It was nice to see some familiar faces of volunteers I met last semester, and some of the students too. I helped Jen with the fourth graders. I must say they were a handful. most of them claimed to have finished their homework, so we put them to work on a nutrition packet provided by ACES. some of them were having fun figuring out the answers, but others had trouble focusing. I tried my best to keep the kids under control, but one of them just could not sit still and work quietly, so Nancy (the team lead) had to have a talk with him in the hall. I feel bad that I wasn't able to help him, but overall I'd have to say I had fun. I think this is going to be a good semester.

Blog Prompt #2:

Prompt: Find a social-design issue here in the Twin Cities. Document it. Become an advocate for it.

I've been having trouble finding an appropriate response to this prompt. It is likely due to the fact that I don't spend very much time downtown, so I am not aware of most of the social-design conflicts that may be present. what I have seen of the city tells me that it is very diverse, and tries to deal with many social issues.

I was struck by how dificult it is to drive in the city compared to in the suburbs where I am from, but conversely how much more convenient the bus routes are. This may speak to the economic status of those living downtown, but it may also represent their concern for the environment. I must say that I appreciate the mass transit system for its ease of use, and availability to everyone. the city is rather old, and most of the streets are narrower than those in the suburbs, and there are lots of one-way streets. this makes it difficult to know where you're going, and I have gotten lost on more than one occasion. I could see a benefit in reorganizing the city streets to be more easy to navigate, and maybe providing more parking. on the other hand, it may be better to focus on cutting back on the number of cars in the city. they make for congestion, and pollution, both of which are undesirable. I guess what I'm trying to say is that Minneapolis/St. Paul were not designed for driving, but maybe that is a good thing.

February 4, 2008

Blog Prompt #1: Tracks

Prompt: Inspired by Andy Goldsworthy (and our discusions today), document and investigate, through text and image - this idea of energy, flow and transformation through the city.

I was contemplating how to respond to the above prompt today, when it began to snow. I began thinking about Andy Goldsworthy's connection with nature, and decided to take photos of the tracks that I began to see appearing in the snow that was accumulating on the ground all around me.


As I walked, I noticed that there were different types of tracks in the snow that represented different relations between time and space. For example, there were footprints, obviously left by people walking, but there were also tracks from bicylcles, and of course cars. Each of these types of tracks represent a different rate of travel, a different flow, but they also speak to the values of the person that left them. Were they in a hurry, were they conserving energy by biking or walking instead of driving? the energy of the people that had been there could be seen in the marks in the snow. shuffling, running, or just strolling, the attitude of the markings changed.

I then became interested in patterns. Most of the tracks from the various modes of flow were grouped together. It seemed that design drove the paths that most individuals chose to take. Car tire tracks stayed in the road. Bike tracks stayed in the bike lanes. Footprints stayed on sidewalks and in crosswalks. There were a few exceptions. sometimes I found footprints over bike tracks, or deviating from the sidewalk, or crossing the road where tere was no crosswalk. these were the free thinkers, or were they deviants? you decide.


There is so much we can learn from the seemingly simple tracks left in the snow. as a classmate pointed out to me, you can tell where the slippery spots are due to the long skid marks that end in footprints. the places where more people go, the snow was packed down. It was even melting away in the highest traffic areas. It can only be described as the energy of people passing by left on the pavement.


In some places, only a few indentations were made. in one case, on a stairway, I found a set of fresh prints over top of a group of older ones that had been softened by the continuing snowfall. this demonstrates the passing of time and its effects on the record of flow in the city. as time passes, it becomes harder to dicover the energy of the past.