May 16, 2008

Reaction to Millennium Development Goals

Reduce Child mortality.

This presentation was very powerful. The images that they used in their PowerPoint presentation were simple and provocative. They succeeded in getting me to think about something that I have never really considered. As in all of the presentations the facts are breathtaking. The shear magnitude of some of the numbers makes me stop and wonder where we are putting our effort. Are we really so self-centered that we try to develop new technologies that we will never really need when children and mothers are suffering all around the world. I think this is a question that is prevalent especially for us as college students. We are probably some of the most privileged people in the world. The education and practical knowledge that we are being fed cannot be neglected. We need to be motivated and care enough to do something about the issues in the world. We only get one shot to live our lives, in the end I want to look back and know that I did not waste my life on material and insignificant things. It is my hope that I will be able to look back and see that we as Americans used our great gifts to reach the world and sustain it for generations to come.

Eradicate poverty and world hunger.

I choose this presentation because it is also very powerful and induced a similar reaction as the other goal. Again, as in all the presentations the facts are overwhelming. This is tempered by the fact that we do have the resources and strength to solve many of these problems. So why don’t we do it? I am not knowledgeable enough to answer that question. The more I think about the things that are happening around the world I cannot help but be slightly discouraged. I have never even been outside of the country. I’ve been in my little American school system bubble ever since I was little. All I can rely on is what I’ve been told and sometimes I don’t know how much I can trust. Nevertheless, there are important issues in our global society and it will take a world effort to solve them.

April 3, 2008

Title Page Concepts

Below are the three concepts that I came up with for possible title page layouts. I tried to keep them simple, including only the title of our goal and some of our main focus areas.

Title Page #1

Title Page #2

Title Page #3

March 13, 2008

Project Design.

Now that we have begun to brainstorm about our individual paper topics, we now have started to wonder how we can best present our findings. With the logistics of the paper hammered down we need to find an effective, simple, and efficient way to present. As a group we have come to the unofficial conclusion that we will try to use Microsoft Power Point to create a set of slides that will complement what we have to say. This however, is not the only option we have been thinking about. We could write a paper, which would be boring and tedious to write as a group and convey our findings in a compelling fashion. We could create a poster but with the amount of information that we have already gathered it would be difficult to accommodate it all. Power point seems to be the simplest and most effective way of communicating the amount of information we have. Now we are faced with the task of putting the presentation together. How do we set up pages, diagrams, pictures, and facts? I thought that this picture was clever and a good base rule to follow.


Through our design we must enhance the presentation. One aspect of this is obviously visual appeal. We must first make of paper or information look appealing if anyone is going to read it. Second we must make the information easily to follow and logical in its layout, so that someone with no prior knowledge of our topic will be able to learn quickly and easily. I explored online for design schemes and here is some of the things that I found that our presentation could be derived from.


In this example I like how the pictures are laid out. How they are place side to side gives you the impression that they are making up something larger, and does not give your eye time to rest.

print mag cover.jpg

I’m not really sure why I choose this one, except that it catches my eye.

presentation folders.jpg

This image gave me the idea that we could present our final paper in a nice presentation folder.


I think this design really shows how a strong graphic can draw you in.

I could probably go on like this for quite some time, but I think that these images and concepts are going to serve as a jumping off point for our presentation. We will have to come up with something new and engaging for our project to be worth remembering.

March 6, 2008

The Built Environment

Human existence is manifested in the presence of oppositions. When the human domain and the physical domain come together you find the struggle that is human existence.

An opposition is defined as any time the ideas of the body, mind, individual, or collective come into contact with the empirical and metaphysical characteristics of the physical realm. The physical realm consists of materials, chemistry, climate, electricity, biology, time, optical phenomenon, and physical phenomenon. It is up to the designer to dream up ideas that somehow bring the two opposing sides together. The basic manifestation of this is the built environment. With this mindset, the built environment becomes a beautiful balance of opposites, someplace where humans and the physical realm have come together to form something unique. For example, gravity is a physical force that continually pulls us toward the center of the earth. When humans and gravity come together you get stairs. The stair allows the human domain to interact with this force. Creating a balance where the physical realm can be respected and the human domain can move to new levels.

So how does this affect my identity? First we must look at the built environment that I am a part of, currently the University of Minnesota.

UM_Northrop Mall.jpg


mens gopher hockey.jpg

I interact with the built environment of the University on a daily basis, and I think that its characteristics and my lifestyle have become very similar. The university is designed to be a place of learning and that is what I am here to do, what I’m learning I haven’t quite figured out yet, but I hope that it will all make sense someday. It is also a fast paced campus, where there are countless things to do and be a part of that sometimes it feels like things just don’t stop coming at you. It has been designed to be like this. The campus was created to accommodate thousands of people from all over the country and all over the world. This opposition of distances has come together to form the university, where we can all come together to share ideas and learn. I feel as if I am part of something bigger here. There are major research facilities and big ten sport teams all around me. It is hard not to feel connected to or even proud of that legacy.

Along with the University, the other built environment I have been a part of is my home in Madison Wisconsin.

statestsc wisconsin.jpg



The house my parents still live in today was where I had lived for the first eighteen years of my life. We never moved, so this place has a certain permanent quality in my life. Moving away to college was my first out of home experience, so my house and the surrounding area still have a very tight grip on me. Life was so familiar there, the sights all the same the people and activities always right at my fingertips. This was an environment where al l my needs were provided for, I was left with time on my hands to explore things that interested me and gave me pleasure. Now that I am a college I have those same opportunities, but now there are on a much deeper level. The new environment has given me a sort of reality check, questioning my feelings and concepts of life as I knew it. Since I arrived I have been challenged to differentiate between what I find to be worthwhile and what will satisfy me here and now. This has not always been easy, and I constantly find myself trying to slow down my busy lifestyle to think about the important questions in life such as my major, what really matters to me, religion, faith, friendship, school, my family, and my ideals. The wonderful thing is that this campus provides me with the opportunity to develop all of these things. There is always a place where I can go to explore and research new ideas. This comforts me and gives me hope that one day I will know where I am going and how I’m going to get there. But until then I am content to just wait, question and explore, confident that whatever I am searching for will become clear.


February 14, 2008

Our environment........

Before answering the question poised in the blog prompt I thought it would be interesting and beneficial to think about design in general.

1) to prepare the preliminary sketch or the plans for (a work to be executed), esp. to plan the form and structure of: to design a new bridge.
2) to form or conceive in the mind; contrive; plan

This started me thinking about how every aspect of our world has to go through some design process before it can be implemented. Our pencils, backpacks, computers, buildings, walkways, buildings, schools, and even cities are conceived and edited by a team of designers before it even comes close to you, the consumer. Without designers we would have no organized system within our society. No efficiency. For example, I started looking at my ipod. I noticed how it felt in my hand, how much it weighs, how it was colored, and how easy it was to use. On a larger scale I could look around my campus, how are the different buildings connected, how are they oriented and placed with respect to each other, how are roads placed in a city so you can get from point A to point B, what about the placement of trees.

The more I looked the more I saw a distinction between good and bad designs. You begin to see what had been constructed haphazardly only to provide for an immediate need, and what had been constructed carefully. Often the things that have been designed carefully have taken into account the big picture around the object. Let’s move back to the design issues within our lives. Some are more serious than others. The less serious only inconveniencing us as we go about our daily activities, while the more serious issues can go as far as to threaten our very lives.

For a design issue I would like to talk about obesity in America. I found this chart at the Obesity in America website.


It is certainly clear in all age groups that the percentages are increasing from year to year and we need to stop and ask ourselves why this is happening. There are several different ways you can approach the problem. Some stand by the research that shows that obesity is a result of genetic makeup, one example would be the hormone lepton. It is secreted by fat cells to help control food intake. In short, research has shown that obese patients do not respond to the lepton in their blood, suggesting that something in their genetic makeup prevents them from responding to the hormone. On the other hand, the environment that we live in today has a major influence on obesity. First off we live in a fast paced society. In our food, we are sacrificing nutrition for speed. Our fast growing cities eliminates the possibility of walking or biking as a major form of transportation. Our children no longer partake in physical activity. In our technological age we can now meet all our needs by going on the internet, playing video games or watching TV. There are 200,000 deaths in a year that are attributed to physical inactivity. The medical cost associated with physical inactivity and its outcomes is approximately $76 billion. This is a major design issue and we cannot just let it go. We need to be actively engaging the problem as we design and expand. One interesting solution is to build a new type of community where all the necessary services would be within walking distance. This would result in more physical activity and a tighter nit community.

To conclude I would like to take a step back and look at the issue as a whole. You can see that there is a certain amount of responsibility for people to maintain an active healthy lifestyle. However, after analyzing the environmental factors associated with obesity, I think there is something to say there. The way we live our lives is converging toward this result. If we continue to design the way we have been we will only see the percentages in America rise. This leaves our generation with a choice, we can either choose to change or continue on the same path and hope it would go away.


February 7, 2008

The Energizer City

city blog prompt 1.jpg

When I think of energy the first word that comes to mind is dynamic. I like the word dynamic because it embodies energy with an ever-changing quality. It is true that energy can be stored and held still, but it is always with the intent of letting it loose later. Energy is a constantly changing entity; it is transferred, accumulated, discharged, and magnified. It is such a unique substance that it cannot actually be destroyed or created; only transferred between bodies.

When you walk through a city the presence of energy is undeniable. Not just the physical energy that powers our buildings and cars, but a more surreal energy that connects everything. I would like to define this energy as the energy of opportunity, and any city is overflowing with it. A city is a center of thought and activity. People are living and working in such close contact that their lives begin to intertwine. These people are the bodies that accumulate and discharge energy. Their everyday actions and decisions create an environment that allows for the free flow of energy. One person may use energy to do something that will transfer energy to another person who, in turn, will use that energy to influence someone else. I believe opportunity is a good way to define city energy, because in order for it to be used it must first be engaged. It is a conscious decision to actively seek it out and see how it will change your life. In this sense a city becomes an endless series of possibilities that are waiting to be discovered.

When it comes to capturing energy, I think that Andy Goldstein and his sculptures did an excellent job. All of his works seemed to spring right out of nature. It was in nature that he discovered an energy that we can never really understand. I think that his sculptures capture energy for two reasons. First, they are rooted in and interact with nature, which is an abundant source of energy. Second, many of them are not made to be permanent. This characteristic makes his sculptures literally dynamic. His creations move through the environment, continuously changing until they are eventually absorbed back into what they came from.

I think that Goldstein’s manifestations of energy can serve as a starting point to understanding the energy within a city. From seeing him work with his materials and create something unique I think we can begin to understand how energy flows. Whatever we choose to do with the energy that we are given will ultimately be up to us, and the consequences both good and bad will effect everyone around us.