May 5, 2008

The Millennium Battle

Goal 6 - Combat HIV/AIDS and Malaria
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The presentation given on the Millennium Development Goal 6; Combat HIV/AIDS and Malaria did a very effective job in portraying the seriousness and magnitude of the problems their goal is addressing. Through strong use of graphs and statics the point was easily communicated and shockingly felt. Yet, it was their region of response which provided the strongest impression of the struggle to Combat these atrocities. Their use of Sub-Sahara Africa, particularly Zambia and Zimbabwe, brought the magnitude of the HIV/AIDS problem to light.

Such as this graph
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Though it is not the precise one they used, it is very similar in highlighting that Sub Sahara Africa has about 25 million people infected with the virus; 20 million more than anywhere else in the world, while also 90% of all children in the world infected live in Sub Sahara Africa.

This group also did a positive job utilizing the Architecture for Humanities Competition as a realm of response. With the competitions focus on a mobile to promote education and health among HIV/AID individuals and communities, this was a accurate response to the goal in the designed environment. The few entries they showed were intriguing, yet this may be where the presentation lacked. There information about HIV/AIDS and Malaria complied with all the staggering statistics where a strong point of the presentation, yet it would have been intriguing to see more detailed applications of what is being done.

Goal 7 - Ensure Environmental Sustainability

Region: India
Realm of Response: Architect

The region of India was extremely fitting for the Millennium Development Goal of creating environmental sustainability because, as they illustrated and supported, it is one of the world's most populous nations creating some of the most destructive environments. There focus in India pertaining to sustainability was: 1. Reverse the loss of forests (reverse the urban sprawl) 2. Fix water issues.

They

March 27, 2008

3 Cover Pages

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March 9, 2008

Presentations

There are many numerous ways to develop a documentation/presentation style in presenting the Millennium Development Goal's Project. Ways similar to CMYK and Print Magazine, to Photoshop Layout and Powerpoint, to ideas such as this blog. In deciphering how one should present material relative to the Millennium Development Goal of Eradicating Extreme Poverty, it's important to identify what needs to be stressed and shown visually or through text.

Our Group if focusing on World Hunger and Poverty; One of the important aspects of this issue is illustrating how and who it impacts. Visuals will be crucial in documenting the extreme cases of hunger and poverty because it will help relate the information to an audience and hopefully slightly shock them. Also, visuals will be important to demonstrate what is being done exactly to help eradicate extreme hunger and poverty.

Yet, the prominent message of our presentation will be in the format of text. The text will not only supplement the variety of visuals but also explain and elaborate global efforts. Further, text will be in the format of statistics, stories, quotes, etc so it will be important to have a presentation style which utilizes and balances these needs effectively and efficiently.

Through the numerous styles researched, I've found a very effective format to present the issues relative to "Eradicating Extreme Hunger and Poverty" in the adobe products such as indesign and layout.

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The features provided in the adobe software enables our group to illustrate numerous areas of concern for our Millennium Development Goal and then select specific regions to highlight and illustrate each areas problems and initiatives.

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March 6, 2008

The Built Environment and Me :)

The following images and text are the representation of the built environment, which affect me from the largest skill down. To interpret these one must understand what is the built environment? Is it simply man made creations such as streets and buildings, or can it be interpreted as anything that has been constructed through years of evolution or by a higher power? I believe the built environment may focus particularly on human constructs for these creations have an absolute and immediate effect on us. Yet, it may also encapsulate much more...

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Above is the Milky Way Galaxy and the Earth (part of that galaxy). These are clearly not man made environments, yet they have been built and evolve through time. These two elements of space are a pivotal element in understanding the opposition of time and timelessness. Understanding the galaxy has led us to an understanding that time is infinite and we are merely a bleep in its path. This knowledge can greatly impact how one perceives their existence to ones understanding of faiths and religion. Understanding our solar system and the earth has given us man's creation of time in a numerical sense. Time now controls every aspect of our daily lives; from our biological circadian rhythms, to when and how we interact.

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A simple yet stunning affect of the built environment can be seen the above image. It is a satellite image of the world at night with the white indicating all the worlds "light pollution". This rather startling image illustrates just how much of the world has become inhabited by humans and with all the technological advances of the last 200 years and resulted in this dramatic image of our urban areas lighting the entire world. This image can also be interpreted further covering topics of energy issues, over population, and a wide array of problems.
Below are images of the built environment of Minnesota. Since I consider Minnesota my home it has a particularly great impact on me. These images represent the dramatic effects of the built environment. The simple defined lines and boundaries of countries, states, counties and cities, all have a way of defining an individual. The first image highlights the highways and roads of Minnesota. These stretch across the entire environment, connecting me to different environments and regions yet also drastically altering the landscapes they cross. Highways often result in the building of and recent explosion of commercial estates and even cities (as seen with the Outlet Malls at Albertville). The second image illustrates the population densities of Minnesota and how these environments differ and each areas result in a different impact on oneself. Finally there is the image of the Minnesota forested area. A clear correlation to population density and roads, one is able to further understand how the built environment affects our landscapes and natural areas.

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These final images portray a much more individualistic view of how the built environment affect me. The first three images are Google Earth pictures of the Minneapolis/St. Paul region, the U of M Campus, and Rapson Hall. These images reflect how my current built environment effect me daily. The city, campus and building all influence how I define myself as in individual; Metropolitan Minnesotan, U of M and architect student. They not only define who I am but how I interact. From the food I eat, to the modes of transportation I utilize, to how I'm educated, to what forms of entertainment I participate in. To summarize, the influences of these built environments is far-reaching and continual. The final image is a simple look at how the Minneapolis ranks in the nation on an environmentally friendly level. It is an interesting comparison of what built environments in our region are having positive effects and what ones are in need of improvement.

February 28, 2008

If I Only Had a Brain

"I could while away the hours
Conferrin' with the flowers
Consultin' with the rain
And my head, I'd be scratchin'
While my thoughts were busy hatchin'
If I only had a brain.

I'd unravel ev'ry riddle
For any individ'le
In trouble or in pain

With the thoughts you'd be thinkin'
You could be another Lincoln,
If you only had a brain.

Oh, I could tell you why
The ocean's near the shore,
I could think of things I never thunk before
And then I'd sit and think some more.

I would not be just a nuffin'
My head all full of stuffin'
My heart all full of pain.
I would dance and be merry
Life would be a ding-a-derry
If I only had a brain--Whoa!"
-Wizard of Oz

How would my mind develop without practical education?

If freed from the confines of the "architectural education" what would one do? This question poses a difficult response yet an intriguing insight into oneself. It is difficult to render an idea of what I would do initially outside of the schooling system to impact my environment because it is the schooling aspect I have chosen to orient myself in how I wish to affect my surroundings. I do not view the education as confining yet rather liberating. This pursuit of education is in hopes of expanding and tuning my mind, knowledge, creativity, values, and perceptions, which will guide how I effect and impact my environment. Yet, if one is to hypothesize about the vast opportunities of what one was to do to influence the environment this is maybe how I’d go about it…

To suit the ridiculous plans and ambitions of a romantic visionary such as myself the world would need to be a place different from current reality, where I could break away from school for a number of years and be unaffected, monetary gain and possession is unnecessary allowing me to travel endlessly and there is no references of time. So, what would I do to create an impact?

- TRAVEL, anywhere and everywhere. With no clear time frames I would join up with an Irish mate of mine and just go. Perhaps a year in Europe; where the great cities of London, Paris, Prague, Rome, Venice, etc. would be explored. Explored in a way were more is learned of that culture and city from a conversation with a local at a pub. Explored through the back streets and hidden gardens. It was be central to try and connect with the culture and its people at the heart of each city, rather then simply pass through and see the sites.
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La Cite Island, Paris (first tree in Paris to bloom)


Rome, The Forum and The Pantheon

Prague Orloj - medieval clock

With the exploration of Europe exhausted, I would attempt to travel to remote locations. These expeditions would include the forests of the Amazonian River, the African Savanahas, the flood plains of Australian outback, the lost worlds of Angor Wat and the Euphrates, to the French Polynesian Islands (Marquesas Island in particular.)

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Australian Outback

Amazon River
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Marquise Islands

From there I'd come back to the U.S.A. and explore the great landscapes my homeland has to offer from the glaciers of Alaska to the everglades of Florida. Venturing inbetween to the bustling industry of the Urban centers. That is the beauty of the United States; it holds within its borders some of the greatest natural landscapes and built environments, all unique and differing.

Monument Valley, AZ/UT
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Detroit, Michigan (Baseball and Cars - Iconic U.S.A.)

Yosemite Nation Park

Twin Peaks, Overlooking San Francisco, CA

Minnehaha Falls, Mineapolis, MN

And hopefully through all this extensive travel, I'd be inspired... To do what? I have no idea, but that inspiration would no doubt result in one of the greatest masterpieces of all time. Whether it be the great novel of the 21st Century or invent a revolutionary mode of transportation. Yet, no matter how I educate myself or discover myself, I simply want to impact my designed environment by positively influencing others.

February 21, 2008

Eradicating the Extremes

“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.?

- John Wesley

The Millenium Development Goal - Eradication of Extreme Poverty and Hunger

A United Nations initiative:
Goal: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Target 1.A: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than one dollar a day 1.1 Proportion of population below $1 (PPP) per daya
1.2 Poverty gap ratio
1.3 Share of poorest quintile in national consumption
Target 1.B: Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people 1.4 Growth rate of GDP per person employed
1.5 Employment-to-population ratio
1.6 Proportion of employed people living below $1 (PPP) per day
1.7 Proportion of own-account and contributing family workers in total employment
Target 1.C: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger 1.8 Prevalence of underweight children under-five years of age
1.9 Proportion of population below minimum level of dietary energy consumption
-According to the official UN site for the MDG Indicators http://mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/Host.aspx?Content=Indicators/OfficialList.htm

If one is to actively participate and pursue goals and targets pertaining to issues so vast and complex, they must first identify within themselves what will motivate and drive them through this difficult process. So what are these values and forces that will guide me in pursuit of obliterating the world’s extreme cases of poverty and hunger...


My guiding principles can be first understood by Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals simple yet striking message in their music video and lyrics of Better Way. The straight forward message of "I believe in a better way" communicates my faith that there is a solution to these problems of hunger and poverty. One way this video illustrates a remedy is to reevaluate. Reevaluate in terms of; personal beliefs/agendas, communication/involvement on all levels [Government (National, State, Local), Communities, Cooperation’s/Business, and Social issue Organizations.], and participation. Further, Ben Harper is not just communicating that there is a better solutions, for there are many strong productive ones presently, yet he speaks more of the individual. This is what speaks greatest to my values that one will encounter much oppression and resistance yet you may stand strong. "Push me to the edge, but my will is stone".

February 14, 2008

SPLASH_IMAGE1.jpg Green Institute - GardenWorks

Who: The Green Institute is a non-profit organization whose mission is "sustaining the environment and our communities through practical innovation". Their vision encapsulates individuals who use of reclaimed and green building materials, design and construct green buildings, generate clean energy, learn how to manage stormwater and landscape sustainably, and work together to conserve and restore our environment. The Green Institute works to improve urban livability with green space. These green spaces are an indispensable part of the urban environment: beautifying neighborhoods, reducing heating & cooling costs, lowering stress, cleaning the air, providing food and income, increasing biodiversity, lowering crime, and improving water quality in our lakes and rivers. An important aspect of this vision is the GardenWorks program, which focuses on generating community gardens, green rooftops, and the management of stormwater.

Why: Focusing in on the GardenWorks program one finds a vast amount of incentives and motivation to elicit the use of a program such as this. GardenWorks offers unique and realistic solutions to creating habitable environments as well as community. To gain a better understanding of the great potential behind this institute, GardenWorks breaks down into three separate categories to provide one a more intimate knowledge of the practicality of such a program.

Community Gardens: An integral part of GardenWorks, the aim here is to establish community gardens which promote opportunities to “grow food, share traditions between cultures and generations, to create habitable environments, and overall to build community.? GardenWorks helps to establish networks of community gardens, help individuals locate near by gardens and connect gardeners with training and resources. The essence of the community gardens is the flexibility and range it can provide. A community garden can range from the large, extensive Dowling Community Garden, to the small neighborhood flower beds. It is more about maintaining a “green space? which can serve a number of needs to that particular community; whether it is food production, supplemental income, or community beautification. A community’s needs may have no apparent connection to green space. Needs may be related to education, crime prevention, or community activism.

Green Rooftops: Green Rooftops, also known as rooftop gardens are another important focus of the GardenWorks initiative. Here the spotlight is cast upon creating green spaces which become part of a buildings roofing system. The benefits of green rooftops include: 1) Doubling the life span of a roof membrane: Due to Minnesota’s extreme weather conditions a roof membranes life expectancy is about 15-20 years, where as, when covered in a layer of growing medium and plants shielding it from the elements it can extend to 35-50 years. 2) Decreases heating and cooling costs: In the summer buildings are kept cooler by plants uptake of water and evaporation of it back into the atmosphere. While in the winter the green space adds a layer of insulation. 3) Manages stormwater: “A green rooftop with a four-inch layer of growing medium can be expected to hold most rainfall events under one inch. That’s nearly all rainfall events in Minnesota. This benefit can be used to qualify for a 50 percent reduction in stormwater fees in the Minneapolis.? 4) Benefits air quality: Studies have proven that a small percentage of urban city rooftops becoming green (about 6% in a population of 2,481,494; i.e. Toronto) would remove 30 tons of particulate matter from the atmosphere every year. This could be very prevalent issue as Minnesota is facing a growing number of air quality alert days. 5) Mitigates the Urban Heat Island: This is the concept that the green rooftop mitigates effects of climate change, allowing rooftops to stay cool compared to the blazing heat of black asphalt, also keeping cooling costs low.

An highlighted example of the green rooftop solution is found in the Philips Eco Enterprise Center. It was built by Minneapolis’s Green Institute as a testing ground for energy-saving and eco-friendly designs. It includes no-emission paints, recycled-glass tiles and the world’s first 100 percent recyclable carpet. It’s lit with sun-tracking mirrors that deflect up to 10 times more sunlight through skylights and into the building.
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Stormwater: Minneapolis utilizes two sewers systems; one a sanitary system which takes sink and toilet water to a treatment plant to remove pollutants, the other a storm sewer system which takes rain water runoff directly to the river. Thus the storm system actually is more pollutant because the rain water carries with it many chemicals including gas, oil, animal waste, leaves, garbage, lawn chemicals, etc to the river. Increasing the quality of and amount of green spaces in the urban city can reduce much of this pressure on the sewer system. “For example, a green rooftop with four inches of growing medium can be expected to hold most rainfall events up to one inch. And most rainfall events we have in Minneapolis are less than one inch.? This productivity of the green spaces would nearly negate the storm water runoff for that particular area, steadily reducing the pollutants carried to the river by our sewer system.

These three aspects of the GardenWorks initiative are not merely separate acts which lead a more sustainable future; rather they are interdependent of each other. Often times utilizing anyone of these three ideas contribute to another; the main idea is to generate more green space within the urban context. The beauty of the Green Institute is that the creation of spaces which constitute a community garden or green rooftop can be very minimal and achievable for any member of the community. Overall the Green Institute and GardenWorks program is an organization which has highlighted many mainstream environmental issues and taken the helm in establishing leadership in issues regarding sustainable landscaping. The premise is now set for the individual to become an active participant in the Twin Cities community and establish their own impact on our environment.

-quotes from http://www.gardenworksmn.org/ and http://www.greeninstitute.org/

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February 7, 2008

"Go with the Flow for the Flow know Best"

Flow, energy, transformation. These words when fused together often elicit feelings and emotions of associated with the natural world; rivers, oceans, forests, deserts. Places such as these are what people have come to value and imagine as the true essence of this vocabulary. Nature is the natural response to defining examples of these words. Yet, there is much more to be said of these concepts of flow, energy and transformation in the urban context.

These ideas are innately intertwined in one other. As Andy Goldsworthy illustrates, “[an energy does not merely exist] energy runs through, flows through these landscapes.? The city landscape although vastly different from the ideals of the natural world, must have an energy all its own. Energy of the city can not simply be defined for it is too vast, elusive, ambiguous, but this energy may be referenced. Energy takes place at the simplest of levels and grows in complexities, and the city provides a landscape capable of demonstrating all these levels. Energy is in everything; the handshake of a stranger or the embrace of a loved one, it may be in the bustling crowds of a sidewalk or the streams of traffic. One of the strongest ways to realize energy is through touch. Yet, energy manifests itself in many forms such as sound; Distinct to the city is its continuous hum of activity, with interruptions of sirens and horns, voices and song. These unique sources of energy contribute to the cities distinguished landscape, its flow.

The transformation of the city landscape is found in its buildings, its parks, its streets, even its inhabitants. At the most scientific level, energy can not be created nor destroyed, it reveals itself in all forms. The city landscape itself is a transformation from the natural world. Landscapes are under a constant evolution. It is the forces of the different energies inhabiting that landscape which lead to its transformation. In a natural sense a river carves and cuts distinguishing a site, where as in the city sense roads carve and cut, distinguish a site. Building transformations, from the primitive hut to the staggering skyscrapers, are part of the cities conversions of energy. Structures provide and elicit feelings and establish presences. These presences are their own a form of energy; such as the eeriness of a dark ally, to the familiarity of park’s playgrounds. These presences again contribute to the diverse flow of the city.

It is a process by which energy, flow and transformation interact within the city. Energy runs through all aspects of life, it’s this flow of energy that is essential. The flow of energy is what contributes to the transformation of landscapes. This is the unique ability of the city, its diversity of energies, flows and transformations. It may be difficult to establish a sense of these three concepts in the city because of its fabricated state, one must look deeper into the realms which constitute a city, one must search for a stronger understanding of what energy, flow or transformation is. “Seeing something that you never saw before, that was always there but you were blind to it. That’s a way of understanding.? This is Andy Goldsworthy’s take on preserving the idea of flow, energy, and transformation in nature, and now it must be applied to the city.