May 7, 2008

Sixth Time, Will it be the last time?

Two Mondays ago was my last day for this semester working at Cityview. I said goodbye to the kids, unlike last semester, and got squeezed so hard that I almost fell over. We took surveys about the kids experiences at the afterschool program, ACES. I got to see what they thought about their time there and what they enjoyed. I really did learn that even though sometimes they like to poke fun at us volunteers, we really do make an impact on them. So as I left the school and handed in my journal entries, Chad, the head of volunteers there, asked if I would come back next year... and the thought still remains in my head (the only thing stopping me is the hour bus ride there and back).

Blog 8/9 - Commentary on MDG Presentations

Kelly Berry and Broc Blegen’s honors presentation on Goal 8, Develop a Global Partnership for Development, focused on Mogadishu, Somolia. As for their presentation, the heavy use and intense color caught my attention, however I disliked the size and font of text. I thought they touched on some very interesting and inventive points, but could have done more with presenting the ideas in an exciting manor rather than in a monotone.
I was interested in this group’s ideas and research related to technology because this was how our group chose to think about goal 1 of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger. They made good points that wireless technology is in use today and that taking advantage of this technology would be better than implementing a land infrastructure.
Looking to Kenya as an example offered many of the similar options we found to apply to Mali. In the past ten years, Kenya has developed private communication systems, while skipping early technologies (3 people used cell phones per every person using landlines). They had to deal with an unstable government, which connected back to Somalia. The newer wireless technology offered ease and a cost-efficient solution. If Somalia was able to develop a wireless Internet system, it would be cheaper than the cost of using traditional telecommunication equipment.
In a similar way to our group, they wanted to use this technology to stimulate learning in hope of building this global partnership. I love the point they made that was children are the most important natural resource. They wanted to “use children’s natural curiosity to stimulate learning.? Each child would get its own laptop (having a model in class was extra fun and captivating). These are redesigned small green fun-looking laptops.
As I second part of their presentation, they concentrated on energy fuels; however, the most valuable information to me was the use of technology geared towards the children.

Allison Prange, Kyle Fitzpatrick, Amanda MacDonald, and Kurtez Ellis presentation on Goal #, provide environmental sustainability focused on what we can do as citizens to better help this issue and therefore, our globe. I think the design of the website ( and brochure were very appropriate for this goal as getting the information out there is vital. The Internet is a source that is used worldwide or is being implemented as a way of building up economies. Brochures are available at an assortment of places, for example, at the University of Minnesota; students get brochures handed to them daily. Some may see this as negative, for if the majority of students are like me, they just throw them away (maybe I should recycle!). However, I found their design captivating. I like the square fold out version that was a unique style. The design was also intensely colored but minimalist, which allowed me to flip threw it without feeling overwhelmed with text. A+ for the brochure! As for the informative part of the presentation, I would say that this was the easiest presentation to listen to. They did an excellent job of finding information that would pertain to me! I do not mean to sound selfish, but again the overwhelming feeling of doing huge things is not present, but rather, something small that I can start to do and influence others to do (much like what they expected). For example, they made eight points for individuals to do: recycle, minimize light energy use, minimize appliance energy, heat homes efficiently, wear bamboo fiber clothing, have a personal garden/compost pile, drive a hybrid car, use biofuels.
The only criticism would be to think more broadly about what ideas have not been done and what direction we can go in the future to achieve this goal. However, until people can start doing small things, big ideas will not necessarily succeed.

Finishing these projects, I reviewed the deadline for the Millennium Goals that being 2015. I felt people offered plausible solutions and emphasized the need to educate as part of accomplishing these goals, but most never looked if it is plausible to reach these goals in seven years. I guess I still do not know if this is possible.

April 14, 2008

Fifth Time... just keep coming back

Prior to this visit, I was having an emotional struggle over family issues. I had no desire to come volunteer, I could name excuse after excuse and yet I still came. When I arrived, I went with the same group as last time. The girls with whom I worked with last week greeted me in a friendly manner. On the other hand, Victoria, the girl who threatened to sew me last week greeted me with threats and lots of yelling. I honestly wanted to stand up and walk out then. I knew to not take it personally, but I had a lot going on and was sensitive to that issue.

All day, Victoria seemed to disrupt the other kids work behavior by her constant remarks about myself and another volunteer. Eventually she left to go and discuss her feelings with a leader. They called me outside for her to apologize. Her apology consisted of “I’m sad for the way I treated you. I’m sad for you stealing all my friends…? She continued to accuse me of treating her unfairly. At first I did not know how to respond, this was not what happened, but she is just a kid. I again had the sudden desire to just turn around and leave. Eventually we got to the point of convincing her to come draw pictures with me so we could be friends and then her friends would once again be her friends.

Coloring was difficult; we talked about the respect issue being both ways, yet she still did not listen to me. She rather continued to yell and disrupt the classroom. After whispering in her ear to ignore them and continue to color, she did so. She finished a wonderful picture and we exchanged. It said, “Best Friends Until The End of Time…? that might not even be until next Monday.

I later learned from the leader that this girl’s house burned down about a week ago and prior to that her brother got shot and killed in North Minneapolis. Sometimes kids anger and frustrations are justified; it’s just hard to understand without the simple conversation.

These facts got me to thinking about how safe I felt the neighborhood of this school as in comparison to the reputation of North Minneapolis and yet that all can be put into question when a family member is shot and killed. I cannot imagine losing one of my sisters.

Second, I got to thinking about my family troubles and that my desires of a functioning family only stem from my perceptions of others. Why can mine not work? I do not face the hardships of some of these kids; I am lucky in that way, so why can we not get along? These questions always just fester in my mind. I have aspects going for me in life that others don’t get the chance to have… I just sometimes wish I could get the “perfect? family aspect too, but there is no such thing as Perfect!

April 9, 2008

Visit Number 4

Yesterday I returned to ACES after a few weeks of break, and switched the group of kids I worked with. This time I was working with fifth grade girls rather than boys. This chance to volunteer has really made me realize how mean girls can be and how mean and difficult I was to deal with as an elementary and middle school child.

I was greeted with the word “fruitcake.? This was all because I was perceived to be a lesbian because I sat closer to a girl than a guy. I was later told not to take offense by other workers. I did not take offense, but it did little to help my mood as I was already stressed. Other girls responded, “you gonna take that? I would slap that bi…? and then stopped themselves from swearing because they realized I was a volunteer.

Once we got to the classroom the girl who called me a fruitcake had threatened for about thirty minutes to sue me and that she insisted on being on opposite ends of the room from me. I sat with three other girls, who were constantly distracted by her “obnoxious? (as they put it) behavior and unable to complete their work. I tried to keep them focused and ignore her, but those attempts and skills I finally developed with third grade boys did not seem to help with these girls.
Some things that shocked me today (whether they are appropriate to discuss or not) are learning that a fifth grade girl has given a guy head and listening to her talk about it as not a big deal. SHE IS ONLY A FIFTH GRADER… I did not even know about that when I was her age. Second, I do not know how to deal with kids saying retarded or he or she is gay or that is gay… I know they don’t understand what they are doing, but it is frustrating, I don’t want them to grow up with those permanent ideas. I simply say I do not want to hear that, but their response is usual just a laugh.

I did think it was an interesting curriculum on energy sources, researching renewable and non-renewable sources to become more aware of the issues of today. Whether or not they truly understand it, at least they are developing an early awareness to it.

As I have said before, when we end the day in the gym, I loose all the frustrations I had in the classroom. Allison and I took to spinning the jump rope again yesterday. Yesterday I even attempted to learn to jump in and jump… in stiletto boots! A+ for me!

March 31, 2008

Three attempts at possibilities...

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March 12, 2008

Attention Grabbing Design

I want the way our group presents our issue to be attention grabbing and show the urgency of our problem: to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. As I looked on the web for inspiring images, I developed a collection of things that I want to incorporate. By doing this, I more importantly learned what ways of presenting an image, idea, thing, etc do not work.


I am a girl who loves color: hot pink, neon green, dandelion yellow, but the one turn-off about color is too much and too busy. A lot of websites and brochures choose color schemes that are monochromatic, warm, cool, bright, pastels that balance each other well, but others create an overwhelming feeling with mix-matched and seemingly thoughtless color palette. Here are designs and graphics I think illustrate a good harmony of color…

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This color scheme has a lot of bright colors, although creates a good harmony by filling negative space with black. Bright colors have the ability to overwhelm some, but I think the black and white basis with a splash of color serves this website’s presentation well.

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This colored image is a fun and warm color scheme. The negative space remains white. Any other color would distract from the image and create a sense of busyness (too much going on).

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I think this website does one of the best balances with color. The top part of the website is attention grabbing with the use of color and brightness. The color also gives the website CHARACTER! The rest of the website is done in a neutral grayscale and simple text which does not overwhelm the user and encourages the curiosity of navigating the website further.

Geometric Layout:

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I like the incorporation of text and image here in horizontal blocks. The text fits a certain rectangle. The apple creates the largest rectangle. The bottom three images create a series of images that match the length of the largest rectangular image. The clean lines create simplicity and an instant ease for the viewer.

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This geometric layout keeps with the same simple lines as well as rotating images both horizontally and vertically.

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The text on the right matches the image presented on the left column. A successful way of presenting text and image in a geometric layout.

Image with text:

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I enjoy this image with incorporating a design and text. The image is not too busy to distract from the text, it is detailed but done with lighter blues, which creates simplicity. The image complements the text well and adds intrigue.

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The use of small diagrams and images breaks up the cluster of text, giving the viewer a break from being bombarded with information.


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Overlapping creates a sense of depth to a two-dimensional picture plane and for me is an instant attention grabber!

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Navigation tools:

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Both these images are the table of contents from CMYK magazine. They follow a geometric pattern and mix text and image to reference a page. I like how they put page numbers in white over the images.

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I like the idea of 1, 2, 3, 4, represented with the domino type squares. An interesting twist on simple counting.

Full view next to a zoomed in image:

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I know this image does not present two views of the same object, but I enjoy layouts where one side of the page, the left, contains the full image of the object, and the other side, the right, contains a zoomed in detail of the object.


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Both these images are intriguing to me because they provoke movement. Anything in a way of presenting that provokes movement is good, it encourages the viewer to continue to explore and absorb information. The photograph on the left directly shows movement by the blurred image of the arms. The lines and mixing of drawing and photograph create movement on the left. The image on the left reminds me of exploded diagrams of buildings, and the photographs being details of that certain part… something interesting the explore.


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I think an important part of this project is to portray a feasible solution and therefore a timeline would demonstrate this consideration. I liked the use of the timeline on the apple Greenpeace website and it’s simplicity.


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Yes it is google, but google is my number 1 website. Don’t know the answer? Google it. Why google it when you could yahoo it or ask jeeves it? Because it is the most simple design of a search engine. Simple = User Friendly!

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The website design makes the mini cooper look sleek and sexy. The black space with a small amount of white text creates a clean look. The simple above view of the car adds intrigue, which portrays the sexiness of the car.

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I think this website is an excellent portrayal of incorporating a geometric layout, text, image, movement… and it makes me want to see into the design more.

Third Time Is A Charm

This Monday when arriving at Cityview, we had a new task. Chad, the director, asked us as volunteers to tell kids to sit down after arriving and getting their snacks in the lunchroom. Considering the workers of ACES were not doing that task, I felt out of place to do so. Once Chad a signaled to a group of us to tell them to sit down, we tried… but not too hard. I asked where they are supposed to be sitting and to sit there. They stayed clustered and standing. Take two, I asked the same thing, but with a please. Nope, they zoned me out. Take three, this time with a more firm statement and following it with I will walk you there worked. I started to get the hang out it, but was still very conscious that other teachers would think I was being too strict… and that was one thing I did not want to be. I was more afraid of what others were thinking.

As I followed Chad’s directions, other teachers and volunteers started to tell kids to take their seats and it became more fun than a task. For example, one girl was standing at the wrong table; she was trying as hard as possible not to make any eye contact. I poked fun at that and bent down to her level and followed where her eyes went. After a few giggles, I asked her where she was to be and if she could go there. She walked straight there. With another boy, who was an ACES Cheetah, I asked him to walk there. When I said Cheetah table, he thought I said cheater table. We laughed about him being a cheater if he could not follow directions.

Progress this week was shown when I could identify Cortez and Cardell in the lunchroom in the midst of a bunch of kids. Learning everyone’s names is hard, especially when I have been there every other Monday. I understand that to help make an impact on those kids, they need to know that I care, and knowing their names is the first step.

Getting to the classroom, I soon realized we had the same teacher as last time. So as for my question in my reflection upon last times visit, the teachers do not change classrooms. What I also realized from last time is the same kids “forgot? their homework. The director told them to behave in the hallway as they walked with me. Cardell and Devon followed directions until we reached the classroom where Allison had brought Cortez and DeShawn to get their homework. They entered an occupied classroom as we waited outside, after peaking in to check on them, we realized they went through the connecting door and were running around the adjoining classroom. My first thought was why can they not follow directions and second was we are only volunteers. Allison and I had sat them down in the hallway and we looked angry. We waited for them to get their giggles out while we held straight faces. Then Allison took two back while I waited with the other two until Allison was far ahead of us. Luckily we survived and made it back to the classroom.

As they pulled out their homework, we received the usually responses. Homework is for home. I wait to bring it home because my sister/brother will do it. And of course, we start the constant battle of getting the kids to finish their spelling words. Cortez and I immediately move to a side table to escape the distraction, I guess he remembers how we did it the time before. It still took him a long time to get started. He asked why I was not saying, “you did those so well, lets do four more? like the time before. I told him he was not doing as good of a job, but maybe a “little secret? would help. I told him to sit up straight and go, go, go! He did well and finished them on his own.

Cortez’s best friend, Cardell was distracted again on Monday. I moved him to the side table, once Cortez finished his spelling words. He did not want to do much of anything nor answer my questions or the supervisor’s questions. The only response for a while was I hat writing! After the class left for the gym, I stayed with him in the room to finish his spelling words. He was given the option to go to the gym, but did not respond so we stayed there. He still did not write so I said we should go to the gym, I figured any kid would want to play, but he did not seem to want to. After several of my questions went unanswered, I remained quiet, he finally said, “my thumb hurts.? I asked him if it hurt from the way he held the pencil. When did he hurt it? How? Why did he not tell me earlier? After a little bit of talking, and seeing that I cared, we started to converse more. Something else seemed to bother him, but he was not willing yet to open up to me. All I have to remember is things happen in baby steps, and this was a baby step from two weeks ago.

The one thing I noticed today was that the kids, who manage to be responsible enough to get their homework done, get less attention than those who are fooling around. I definitely could see that Cortez liked the attention from the previous times I helped him in the way he responded to me helping him again. But, for example, Sophia is always responsible and gets her work done; yet I do not get to work with her because I am too busy trying to quiet the group of boys down.

A solution to this lack of attention seemed to be a sentence correction exercise we did on Monday. When Sophia, Travis and another girl were able to raise their hand and participate, they were able to “show off? to us volunteers. By saying “Yes that is correct,? “good job,? “Wow,? or “Excellent!? their faces turned into huge smiles, you could tell that they felt good.

In the sentence correction exercise, I also noticed that the boys lacked raising their hands in fear they would be wrong. I encouraged them to participate because they always muttered the right correction; they just said it with a sense of being unsure. This trend seems to continue even into adults, the fear to be wrong and vulnerable.

March 6, 2008

Something Has to Stick With You

The built environment affects who I am as well as you too, and allows us to connect with different places based on feeling similar emotions. For example, for me growing up in the same house for the first sixteen years of my life was a comfortable feeling and today I may sit on a chair, enter a building or visit a city that resembles my first home in some way and feel an automatic sense of comfort.

I will never forget my tree house in that first house; I built it one summer with my dad. Every summer, I would beg my friends to sleepover so we could camp out in the tree house (of course, only 15 feet away from a sliding glass door that could protect me from almost any weather condition in Wisconsin). The trees were absolutely beautiful in that neighborhood, many varieties and full of foliage. They formed arches over the streets that provided desired shade in the summer heat. Similarly to this image, when I visited Mendoza, Argentina this past January, I felt an immediate connection and comfort… every street had those same grand arches with trees of full foliage.


Back to memories of my first house, I always sat in the back rooms of my house; the facades were almost all window, allowing me to see the sun and the gardens, which to me defined my home. I was never proud of the bland architecture of that first house; it served its function as a shelter but not aesthetically. Those qualities of daylight, color and plants allow me to connect and feel that comfort in everyday life today.


For example, Bruegger’s Bagels on the corner of Washington and Oak Street is my sanctuary for studying. It is the only place where I can study without disruption or constant repositioning, simply because the atmosphere is comforting to me. The positioning on the corner in regards to the surrounding buildings and the two glass walls that form the corner constantly allow the flow of sunlight into the building. No matter if it is 98 degrees outside or -10 degrees, the sunlight is the only thing I need to feel comfortable and connect with those blissful childhood memories.


As for color, it is what allows me to survive in my double occupancy however the size of a single dorm room here at the U. At first when walking into the room, I was shocked! I would have to be living in psych ward room with mis-matched furniture in the space the size of a bathroom WITH ANOTHER PERSON! Trying not to be such a pessimist my first day on campus, we started to make our beds. We both had teals for sheets and some splashes of hot pink, purple, white and black for accents (at least we liked the same colors). After hitting the infamous Target run on the first day, we got a large hot pink area rug, a smaller purple rug, bright teal pillows for our futon, and some funky lights. (And to make it even better we have a fish and that is perfect for a person who needs to be around water… grew up around it and IN IT!) Anyway, color and scheme are important to the design world and a means of survival by brightening the day (literally) instead of allowing one to dwell in the negatives, which often happens in a bland and neutral area. In those circumstances, my energy is drained from me and I am not comfortable and therefore, not myself. It is like putting an English speaker in a Macedonian speaking place, the English speaker will not feel comfortable being theirself because they do not understand their surroundings.


And while I have spent most of the time explaining how the built environment allows me to draw connections to other memories, specifically from childhood, and therefore feel comfortable, I am also influenced by the harshness and ‘discomfort of the new’ I feel in places that I do not feel those connections. In those places I am forced to experience something new and whether it scared me, intrigued me, educated me, angered me, made me laugh, etc. I will be able to take that experience with me. Buildings have the ability, much like art, to produce multiple interpretations of the experience! And it is fair to say experiences shape you, therefore if you can gain an experience from presenting yourself in/near the built environment that experience can shape you.

As for the oppositions…

1. Man vs. Nature:
As I talked about, my tree house is an example of this opposition. It is pearched in a tree, much like in lecture how some buildings are pearched onto the mountainside. I also talked about how the tree house is built into the tree and is closer to the sunlight, which I love so much.

2. Climate vs. Enclosure:
As I said, my house could withstand almost anything the Wisconsin weather would through at it and being enclosed in it would protect me.

3. Gravity vs. Movement:
The construction of stairs going from my (current) house to the lake is an example of this opposition.

4. Permanence vs. Entropy:
This was also explained as time vs. timelessness. With this interpretation, it is represented through my first house. Although I do not live there anymore (but did for 16 years) the memories of that house still exist with me. The building’s presence continues to presence itself in my life and that is timelessness.

5. Mass vs. Form:
The tree house is more form because it is simple in that it is only what is needed to serve its purpose. My house is an example of architecture as bulk or mass. It was a house for four, but could have sheltered many more than four.

6. Material vs. Tool:
As talked about in lecture, the process of building the tree house was collective, my dad and I built it (like barn raising done by the Amish)

>>(I used only my photographs)

March 4, 2008

A Little Late… But What Stayed With Me

This reflection on my second day at ACES is being posted a little late. After coming home last week, I jotted down some notes and had a week to reflect on it. I want to start off by talking about my observations that I recorded last week and then talk about what images and lessons stayed with me this past week.

When arriving at ACES, I decided to stay with the same group of kids that I worked with two weeks prior. I felt it would be most beneficial for me to see how our (the same group of kids and me) interactions develop over time as well as being beneficial for them, because they would actually develop the chance to get to know me. I am not sure at this point if instructors rotate each day through the classes, because this time I worked with a different classroom teacher. I guess that is something else to explore the next time I visit. If this is true, that teachers rotate, it is curious to me why. From all my previous experience in teaching swim lessons, volunteering at after school programs and other children’s programs there was always a focus on giving the kids something positive and familiar, and that would be a steady teacher or volunteer. The only place I have seen this work differently, is on a mission trip, when the main concern was that children would not develop a closer connection with the teacher or volunteer than with their parents )which sometimes occurred when the parents were absent for the majority of time in their kid’s lives).

The second thing I noticed was the class had grown tremendously in size. It had at least doubled from two weeks prior. The intensity and restlessness of double the kids had brought not only two volunteers (including myself) and the head teacher but also three other roaming directors.

At first I sat down with a table of restless and crazy boys, the table at which I sat two weeks prior. But the surrounding noise just seemed to keep those boys’ energy levels up. I tried to get them to pull out their homework and have them stop making fun of one another, but after 20 minutes, I realized it was hopeless. I decided that if I could get one kid to finish his homework that would be better than wasting my time and energy on a group of boys who were determined to ignore me. Therefore, I moved to a side table with a boy Cortés and we worked on his spelling words, alphabetizing and writing them four times each. At first we decided the goal was seven. The first four took him over 20 minutes sitting at the original table and were not done very well so when we switched tables he erased them. He finished the first seven words, written four times in less time than what the original four words took him. I gave him words of praise and a little help at deciding the alphabetical order to get him into doing his homework. It worked! I encouraged him to get halfway through his spelling words. He scribbled away the next eight and then we decided to just finish them and then he could go joke around with his buddies.

I watched his attitude completely change from a high-energy kid to a scholastic student with great capabilities. The rest of the time we worked on other work sheets and he did not even mind not being able to sit with his buddies. I had realized that I cannot change the world, yet alone control a classroom (at least right now, if ever I decided to become a teacher… hopefully I would develop that skill), but I can as a volunteer help one kid concentrate and get his work done so he does not have to do it at home nor fall behind in class.

Some other things I jotted down were that “one boy just didn’t have a good day,? and “jump rope.? As for the first thing, Cortés’ best friend was unwilling to do any work that day. A series of 4 teachers and myself as a volunteer just could not persuade him. As much as I want each kid to be successful while I am there so I can clearly see that volunteering and helping tutor has importance, it was a reality check that everything does not come easily. Progress comes in small steps and everyone has off days, even me, and therefore hopes and desires need to be kept realistic.

As for the jump rope, every time after homework time, kids have the ability to play in the gym. Allison and I usually spin the jump ropes for the girls. It makes my day watching them and their smiles and excitement just to jump rope. For those fifteen minutes, I cannot stop smiling… which is helpful every once in a while at the beginning of what is expected to be another stressful week at the University.

And as for what I kept from this experience this last week was my experience with Cortés. Thinking about our class’ blog prompt from last week about what we would do if we were released from the constraints of the architecture school, I concentrated on this idea of not being able to change the world alone nor quickly but I had hope because through the hour of working with Cortés I helped him stay ahead in the game, while I took away an understanding of something new, I became aware of a reality I choose not to think about. For some reason, ever thought or inspiring idea, I thought of that experience… sometimes helping out one person is better than trying to accomplish something too large.

February 27, 2008

Ideally I would...


Honestly if I was completely released from the constraints of the architecture school program, I would join the peace corp and be an artist the rest of my life. First of all, this is a fantasy… or reality for those who can eliminate the factors of money and time. And second, it might sound cliché and seemingly impossible for a girl that has a darn right girly blog, but it is true!

The other day at lunch, one of my friends randomly commented on the way I dress, “you are either at one end of the spectrum or the other.? So for those who only see me “put together? believe it or not, this is what I would do.

Let me start by ranting about what is so appealing about the Peace Corps. For a girl who loves to travel, these are just some of the countries I would like to go and experience: Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Libya, The Republic of Macedonia, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, Venezuela, Zimbabwe… I can travel the world and help someone out at the same time. Programs include education, youth outreach, HIV/AIDS assistance, health and environmental.

Although the housing situations look less desirable than what I am lucky to have now, I would give up the extra commodities of my current life just to be able to taste other cultures and get to experience the places not only for their “Top Ten Tourist Attractions.?

And as a way to document my experiences, I would keep a journal of daily situations and things I learned, quotes I enjoyed, sparks of inspiration, etc. And in my way of dealing with that, I would like to create art that is personal yet that others can learn from and gain an understanding of my experience. In my life, my work already concerns social commentary from my environment...


Usually Wednesday nights are grueling after a 3.5 lecture on the basic concepts of art, yet today I left inspired. We watched a documentary called Voice to Vision III (there are four documentaries), and it focuses on David Feinberg working with two Romanian holocaust survivors and two Rwandan genocide survivors expressing their stories through art. The finished pieces reveal their story in a miraculous and talkative way. Another important point it hit on was that someone can hold onto their memories, but it is up to them to reach out and teach others about what they feel is important... and art is my way of doing so.
* Left: painting created by holocaust survivors
* Right: painting created by genocide survivors

As I have mentioned in previous blogging, my mission work experiences are what have stuck with me… the fear, sadness, unstoppable laughter, relationship bonds, etc. They have let me see the realities the poor face everyday. They have let me help someone in someway. They have given me the determination and curiosity to succeed and learn more about society. It is in those circumstances that I do not need the Guess Jeans or mascara to make me feel important/comfortable in society… it’s the humbling affect that allows me to interact with those I normally wouldn’t and help them as they help me become more globally aware. And in this way (as well as exhibitions of my masterpieces to be created) that I will effect the surrounding environment. And to me, that’s peachy.

February 20, 2008


Let me start off by saying, my mission work that I have done with my high school youth group has led me to the values I have today. I have seen both the harsh and privileged ways people live in rural and urban areas. I have sorted food that goes through pantries, served the food to the homeless, repaired a house that barely sheltered them from a light rain fall or windy day and most importantly, I have received looks of astonishment from the less fortunate amazed that I am willing to help and the words thank you.

“The gift of silence is prayer.
The gift of prayer is faith.
The gift of faith is love.
The gift of love is service.
The gift of service is peace.?
~ Mother Theresa
Although this quote does not relate specifically to one goal, it is an influential quote for me that encompass my interest to help others whom are less fortunate.

In the times of our presidential election, here is a quote from Obama…

Choice 1: Goal 1 - Eradicate Extreme Poverty & Hunger

“Poverty can teach lessons that privilege cannot.?
~Jack Klugman
Although I come from privilege, I have put forth effort to work with those in poverty… those experiences gave me my values today.
(The top picture is my sister serving food on a recent mission trip to Lexington, KY. The next picture is a picture of the house and people I worked with on a mission trip 1.5 years ago to the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The next picture is from the KY mission trip, we played a game to understand poverty. The chairs symbolized kids, heavy and had to be taken with us, some people were in wheel chairs, others blind... I was a single mother with three kids. The last one, is me painting a home for african refugees in KY)
(These pictures are taken from my recent trip to Chile)

The harshness of this fact and most people do not even know…
8 75% hunger.jpg
… 2 people have died from hunger in the time it took you to read it.

"While they're standing in the welfare lines,
crying at the doorsteps of those armies of salvation,
wasting time in the unemployment lines,
sitting around waiting for a promotion.
Poor people gonna rise up
and get their share
Poor people gonna rise up
and take what's theirs"
~ Lyrics by Tracy Chapman, “Talking About A Revolution?

This poster bring out the truth… the shocking numbers and that if we choose not to acknowledge it as a problem, it will NOT RESOLVE ITSELF!

“ It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.?
~ Mother Theresa
This chart puts the numbers to the continent…
And these pictures put reality of the continent in your mind…

“Poverty is not a disgrace, but it's terribly inconvenient.?
~Milton Berle
I agree strongly with this quote, however, I have seen the effects of our own government looking upon poverty as a disgrace and choosing to hide and cover-up the problems of homelessness.

(Recent distress in Kenya)

Choice 2: Goal 7 - Ensure Environmental Sustainability

"We have not inherited the world from our forefathers -- we have borrowed it from our children."
- Kashmiri proverb

The cool thing about this idea is that we are maintaining it for future generations; we are thinking and choosing to care about the conditions and opportunities of future generations.

"In the long term, the economy and the environment are the same thing. If it's unenvironmental it is uneconomical. That is the rule of nature."
- Mollie Beattie
… it can help the poor survive, it can help the economy to strive and can help the environment to subsist. Everyone can be positively affected by this knowledge!

Choice 3: Goal 3 - Promote gender equality and empower women

Honestly, I love this quote…
“Women belong in the house... and the Senate.?
~Author Unknown

… some areas are getting there:
for example, India’s first elected woman president
our first woman presidential candidate

… however, reality in some areas is still abuse and oppression

This image was presented with the phrase, “Veiled Freedom,? a symbol of women’s’ oppression.

"And since we all came from a woman
Got our name from a woman and
Our game from a woman
I wonder why we take from our woman
Why we rape our woman
Do we hate our woman?"
~ Lyrics from 2PAC, “Keep Your Head Up?


As for a playlist, here are some songs that have lyrics focused on change:
1. Waiting On The World To Change – John Mayor
2. Million Voices – Wyclef Shaun
3. Where Is The Love? – Black Eyed Peas *
4. With My Two Hands – Ben Harper
5. If Everyone Cared – Nickelback ***
6. Shelter From The Storm – Bob Dylan
7. Blowin In The Wind – Bob Dylan
8. Ghetto – Akon **
9. Eleanor Rigby – Beatles
10. So Much Trouble In The World – Bob Marley
11. Sleep Through The Static – Jack Johnson
12. Revolution – Beatles
13. My Vietnam – Pink
14. Dear Mr. President – Pink *
15. Rockin In The Free World – Neil Young
16. Calling All Angels – Train
17. Message In A Bottle – Sting
18. Strength, Courage and Wisdom – India Arie **
19. Little Weapon – Lupe Fiasco
20. Ghetto Gospel – 2PAC and Elton John
21. Don’t Give Up – Bono and Alicia Keys ***
22. If There’s A God in Heaven – Elton John
23. Keep Your Head Up – 2PAC
24. Video – India Arie
25. Cry Freedom – Dave Matthews Band
26. Redemption Song – Bob Marley
27. War – Bob Marley
28. Another Day in Paradise – Phil Collins
29. Johnny Ryall – Beastie Boys
30. On Dark Street – Elton John
31. Seek Up – Dave Matthews Band
32. Talking About a Revolution

** Lyrics are below.
*** Check out Music Videos on YouTube... inspirational!

These streets remind me of quicksand (quicksand)
When your on it you'll keep goin down (goin down)
And there's noone to hold on too
And there's noone to pull you out
You keep on fallin (falling)
And noone can here you callin
So you end up self destructing
On the corner with the tuli on the waist line just got outta the bing doin state time
Teeth marks on my back from the canine
Dark Memories of when there was no sunshine
Cause they said that I wouldn't make it
(I remember like yesterday)
Holdin on to what god gave me


Cause thats the life when ur
Living in the (ghetto)and
Eating in the (ghetto)or
Sleeping in the (ghetto) (ghetto)
Cause thats the life when ur
Living in the (ghetto)and
Eating in the (ghetto)or
Sleeping in the (ghetto, ghetto, ghetto)

[Verse two]

No need to cherish luxuries (cause everythin' come and go)
Even the life that you have is borrowed
(Cause your not promised tomorrow)
So live your life as if everydays' gon be your last
Once you move forward can't go back
Best prepare to remove your past

Cause ya gotta be willin to pray
Yea There gotta be (there gotta be) a better way oh
Yea ya gotta be willing to pray
Cause there gotta be (there gotta be) a better day (ay)

Whoever said that this struggle would stop today
A lot of niggas dead or locked away
Teenage Women growing up with aids


Cause thats the life when your
Living in the (ghetto) oh
Eating in the (ghetto) or
Sleeping in the (ghetto, ghetto)
Thats the life when ur
Living in the (ghetto)oh
Eating in the (ghetto) or
Sleeping in the (ghetto, ghetto, ghetto)


Gun shots every night in the (ghetto)
Crooked cops on sight in the (ghetto)
Every day is a fight in the (ghetto)
(oh oh oh oh oh) (ghetto)
Got kids to feed in the (ghetto)
Selling coke and weed in the (ghetto)
Every day somebody bleed in the (ghetto)
(oh oh oh oh oh) (ghetto)


Thats the life when your
Living in the (ghetto)oh
Living by the (ghetto)oh
Eating in the (ghetto, ghetto)
Thats the life when your
Living in the (ghetto)oh
Sleeping in the (ghetto)
Living in the (ghetto, ghetto, ghetto)


Strength, Courage and Wisdom
Inside my head there lives a dream that I want to see in the sun
Behind my eyes there lives a me that I've been hiding for much too long
'Cause I've been, too afraid to let it show
'Cause I'm scared of the judgment that may follow
Always putting off my living for tomorrow
It's time to step out on faith, I've gotta show my faith
It's been illusive for so long, but freedom is mine today
I've gotta step out on faith, It's time to show my faith
Procrastination had me down but look what I have found, I found

Strength, courage, and wisdom
And it's been inside of me all along,
Strength, courage, and wisdom
Inside of me

Behind my pride there lives a me, that knows humility
Inside my voice there is a soul, and in my soul there is a voice
But I've been, too afraid to make a choice
'Cause I'm scared of the things that I might be missing
Running too fast to stop and listen

It's time to step out on faith, I've gotta show my faith
It's been illusive for so long but freedom is mine today
I've gotta step out on faith it's time to show my faith
Procrastination had me down but look what I have found, I found

Strength, courage, and wisdom
And it's been inside of me all along,
Strength, courage, and wisdom
Inside of me

I close my eyes and I think of all the things that I want to see
'Cause I know, now that I've opened up my heart I know that
Anything I want can be, so let it be, so let it be:.

Strength, courage, and wisdom
It's been inside of me all along,
Strength, courage, wisdom
It's been inside of me all along, everyday I'm praying for:

Strength, courage, and wisdom
To find me, yeah,
Strength, courage, and wisdom
Inside of me

I found it in me, I found it finally
I'm sure to keep it' cause I like it, I say thank you

February 13, 2008

First Impressions of ACES

Yesterday, Monday, February 11, 2008 was my first day at ACES at the Cityview School. I arrived at 3:05 and worked until 5:15pm. My first impressions of the school were that it was well designed. I liked the openness and obvious possible directions to take as you enter. The Cafeteria had high ceilings and floor to ceiling windows. The fences outside had childlike paintings on them. The facilities seemed relatively new.

Working with PCYC last semester made me aware that some schools required a uniform. It was new to me that every child would be in this uniform of a navy blue top and khaki bottoms. Yet kids still ranged with their accessories from leopard printed boots, shiny metallic boots, to boots with the fur. Some kids had Dora backpacks, others with high school musical or the cheetah girls. It was not unusual to see kids full of energy after school. Some had clicks of friends, others seemed sad and left out.

When we made it to the classroom for homework. The usual responses were…
“We don’t have any.? “Our teacher let us do it in class.? “ There is a reason it is called homework.? At first, I struggled to find my place.

It felt odd that we were not allowed to wear sweats or jeans because that was my usual apparel. I felt dressed up. Yet at the same time, I was worried that I would seem too flashy and showy with my money by dressing up (because those were the comments I received by the teacher with whom I worked with last semester. If I was a university student, it was assumed my parents paid for me to attend, live in the dorms, have an expensive meal plan, etc).

The next struggle was in finding my place. Some coordinators seemed to want things stricter than others. Was I to tell a kid to stop fighting when some supervisors just watched or wait until another supervisor jumped in with intensity to break it up?

At the beginning I stood around, checking out the building, as kids were to be taking out their homework, which seemed to take a while. Then I jumped in, I tried to focus on three trouble-making boy. I soon realized this was too big of a task to take on for the first day. So I choose to work with one boy, who was so distracted by everyone else’s comments that he could not focus on doing his homework.

His response was, “it is called HOMEwork for a reason.?
When I responded, “if we get it done here, you can do something fun at home.?
His response was, “I don’t do fun things at home.?

Eventually I turned doing homework into a competition of getting it done before his friend. It seemed to capture his focus, although his attention was not thorough throughout, we finished it. As soon as he was done, he became crazily energetic again. He was told to draw by the leader, yet he did not know what he wanted to draw.

Photo 3.jpg
This was his first drawing, keeping him occupied for only a short time. Although it made me feel special that he gave it to me.

After giving him some ideas, he got bored with drawing so I started to help color polka dots. As he saw how I changed directions, he mimicked. While drawing, he was calm and concentrated on coloring the rest of the time. IT WAS MAGIC! There is something to art therapy!

Photo 4.jpg
This was his second drawing. It started as empty polka dots, but as his attention span started to diminish, I offered to help. With my help and rainbow coloring, he copied those concepts and had fun with it! Again a gift to me… I will remember the time I spent coloring with this boy, the chance for a boy to calm down and relax and the affect of leadership on youth.

Speaking of art forms, there were two boys working on raps. One boy’s rap had good ideas, and after not wanting anyone to see it, he let me read it. He would not perform it, but he promised me later on this semester he would perform one for me. This will be both a goal for both him and me. For me, I will try to see if I can develop a trusting connection with him. And for him, he will try to develop the confidence to perform.

I also noticed through the frosty windows, the view of downtown Minneapolis. It was interesting to me, a reminder that this is a very different from the community in which I went to school in. I am curious to investigate more how this is positive or negative for fourth graders. I think it is beneficial for me as a university student, but is it the same for a fourth grader?

February 12, 2008

A Garden Is Not Just A Garden

“The artist has potential as a cultural worker, a coordinator of projects that build community as part of the artistic endeavor. This paradigm doesn’t replace individual artists and their work but becomes another strategy for artists to use their creativity while encouraging others to do the same.?
~ Christine Baeumler


Christine Baeumler, a faculty member of the University of Minnesota, has worked on a number of urban ecological restoration projects in St.Paul. Her projects seek to “ improve the ecological condition of urban green spaces, increase natural habitat, mitigate storm water pollution, and engage community members in the creative process.?

She is working on the East side Maria Bates Rain Garden with a tile walkway along with the East Side Conservation Corps composed of mostly Hmong youth as well as university students.

The current 900 square foot garden project is located in the Swede Hollow neighborhood. It collects the polluted water before entering the Mississippi River. They use native plants to remove the pollutants such as oil, grease, heavy metals and sediment from the running water. Therefore, by the time the water reaches the Mississippi River, the water is cleaner than before.

What aspects of the project resonate to me…
It solves an ecological problem as well as serving the local residents with an outdoor place for teaching and relaxing.

Part of the beauty of this social design project is that it served the community and environment by means of the community’s engagement. Students at Dayton’s Bluff Elementary School planted the plants. Local community members keep up the garden. As I said previously, she is working with university students and a Hmong youth group to create a new rain garden, the Maria Bates Rain Garden.


And to conclude, I had know idea that plants had the potential to soak up the pollutants and act as a cleanser of running water. To me, that is pretty darn cool! A GARDEN IS NOT JUST A GARDEN, IT SERVES MORE THAN JUST ONE PURPOSE.





To explore my interest in her environmental more, I looked into some other projects…

Swede Hollow Historical Forest:

This projects focus was “how do we maintain the "natural" aspects of the site and still reference the complex cultural and industrial histories…How can we accomplish this aesthetically and without being overly didactic and intrusive? “

This area is a twenty-two acre City Park. This project is ongoing with the focus of replacing invasive species with native plants. The community was heavily involved: St. Paul Parks Department, Como Park Conservatory Program youth (that researched plants and a plan), FORECAST Public Artworks (that assisted in creating a granite circle from recycled city street debris).

Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary: “The inspiration for this project was to reconnect Swede Hollow Park to the Mississippi River.?

For Nine years following the buy of the polluted twenty-seven acre area along the Mississippi River, the goal was to restore the area to the beauty and purity of the land when the Dakota resided here.


The committee worked with the Dakota to create a plan for this sacred area, centered on the petroglyph images in Carver’s cave. Due to the agonizing history between the Dakota and settlers, “this project evolved into an opportunity for social as well as ecological healing.?

February 4, 2008

A City's Attempt or Disregard For Reaching Nature's Equilibrium...

Andy Goldsworthy has said, “to understand the Energy in life, in me – that Energy flows through landscape…? This emphasizes the important understanding that everything in our environment, whether nature itself, human, animal, industry, urban development, etc are connected.

Perhaps Andy Goldsworthy acknowledges this again with his approach to making each piece of work, "looking, touching, material, place and form are all inseparable from the resulting work. It is difficult to say where one stops and another begins. The energy and space around a material are as important as the energy and space within… When I touch a rock, I am touching and working the space around it. It is not independent of its surroundings, and the way it sits tells how it came to be there."

The main theme that I drew from Andy Goldsworthy’s work is that energy in the environment is in continual flow, a cycle which remains constant throughout.

This theme is exemplified through Goldsworthy’s view of his work after he completes it. As nature takes its affect on the piece, it forms and becomes something new in the cycle yet still composed of the same materials. The original piece is never destroyed or decomposed; it merely changes into a new creation.

My favorite works of Goldsworthy's are when the rivers direction of flow or the sea’s tide takes affect on the work. It is beautiful to watch the collected and carefully placed leaves slowly disconnect and spread as it continues to flow with the river. Some examples are,

When I first started to relate to the ideas of flow, energy, cycle, and connection to cities, ideas related to economic strength, power and balance came to mind.

The first analogy that came to mind was if the world was composed of two cities, one rich and one poor, the rich city would be unable to help the poor city reach the same “richness? of the rich city. In order for the poor city to gain economic strength, the rich city would have to give up a little bit of its economic strength. In theory, the amount of economic strength is constant. Either one has a lot and the other has little or they both have relative equal middle amounts.

As I began to think of this in terms of today’s modern cities, I realized that the city is not a “closed system.? Therefore, the amount of energy in a city does not have to remain constant. It can gain energy by taking it from its surroundings, thus destroying nature around us, like forests. However the level of greed for each city in taking from nature’s surroundings varies drastically and this is what I chose to investigate.

I examined the town of Greensburg, Kansas, whose intention to rebuild their town after the destruction by a colossal tornado is to build green. The term green implies building to maximize energy efficiency, durability, health and that which “enhances the environment.?

Five other goals for this community according to the official website of Greensburg, Kansas are to:
1. “Treat each drop of water as a precious resource?
2. “Improve quality of life by promoting a healthy and active lifestyle?
3. “Promote high level of efficiency in new construction and look to renewable options for generation?
4. Harvest “Greenburg’s vast wind resources?
5. “Build a town that encourages interaction between residents, welcomes guests and serves as a
model community… be durable, healthy, and efficient… examples of green practices that are built
to last.?

This community was focused on reusing what they could within their own community without taking from surrounding nature. It concentrated on trying to be true to the nature of the area. The community attempted to find and understand the harmony of energy in nature so that nature's energy could support a community too.

A Greensburg park has been reconstructed with these ideals in mind...

To further my examination, I searched for the “Least Green City.? From the BBC website,, I found the article, UK cities' green ratings compared. I was not so much shocked that the “least green city? needed 3.62 planets to sustain their habits; it was that the “most green? cities of the UK still required more than two and three quarters planets to sustain their lifestyle. If the world continues growing, which it will, and cities keep developing, nature’s resources cannot provide enough for all of us to continue living the way we do.

Yet, many cities’ priorities are economic development, poverty, and politics rather than implementing energy-efficient lifestyles. Yes there are options for people to use such inventions, but for those who are uneducated, or not financially stable enough to replace existing applications, the energy-efficient options are disregarded. Cities take more and more from nature’s beauty to fulfill the roles of industry, comfortable-living, transportation, etc and yet the majority does not realize the expense on the surrounding environment. Consideration of harmony and balance, like the goal of Greensburg, KS, goes without thought in the midst of urban chaos.

According to Colin Butfield with the WWF, "The battle for the environment will be won or lost in our cities. They have the highest potential for eco-living due to local facilities, public transport links, dense housing and shared public resources."

(The above picture is of Los Angeles, CA. In May 2007, according to the science daily, LA ranked as the most polluted city in the nation. Los Angeles takes too much from outside sources and has no place to put the pollutants from their energy-guzzling processes. LA may have forgotten, although the fossil fuels might disappear, the energy and composing atoms do not.)

According to the ecological saying “everything is connected to everything else.? The flow between nature’s forests and cities is all linked, a cycle. On our planet both nature and city cannot grow in energy, one comes at the cost of another. Personally, I would like to find a harmony with nature because who would rather breath the smog of an energy-guzzling city over the cleanliness of an energy-conscious place.