May 1, 2008

Class Presentation Analysis II

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Although not fresh in my head, I remember the group with Goal #3: Promote gender equality and empower women. I remember it because they mentioned a lot about HIV/AIDS, which was my groups' topic. This just goes to show that many of our world's problems overlap. The reason for this is because many of the roots of these problems are the same: such as unemployment, homelessness, poverty, etc--problems grow exponentially and branch out from these base issues. This group's goal was to promote gender equality and empower women...they chose to focus on violence towards women. They then researched violence towards women in different parts of the world. For example, in Africa, when the man of the house dies, the women is exiled from her house (which renders her homeless and starts the cycle of problems again). They didn't directly make the point, but attitudes toward women are based very much on culture and customs. Much of it is based on religion. Think about the Middle East and Muslim women being covered up. Think of Christianity and the undeniable presence of masculinity (which has more to do with history and politics). Men and women are different! This is a problem that dates back to the beginning! This is an old problem, and an ongoing problem--something I don't see getting resolved by 2015 because of the psychological nature of it. Sometimes it's in fun and play...but other times the battle of the sexes can lead to violence. This is what we need to focus to get rid of by 2015. Maybe to strengthen their project, this group could do some research on men--try some reverse psychology; learn from opposites.

Class Presentation Analysis I

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The first group that went had the task to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. Their project stood out from the others and was more effective for three reasons: it was organized, background research was evident, and it took the "solution" one step further. Their presentation was guided by their webpage that they created. Its plan was simple and easy to follow with no "frilly" fonts or distractions. Each group member spoke equally and held their own. When confronted about the communication issue in Haiti, the group member replied intelligently rather than being submissive. The background research was evident because of the statistics and their focus on Haiti. They must have researched other places where poverty is prevalent (places like Sub-Saharan Africa come to mind), but the fact that they narrowed it down strengthened their point. They also offered a solution; they offered more than one solution (which is obviously needed). Their solution was to create jobs. If they would have stopped there, it would have been cut and dry. However, they present ways HOW to create jobs...such as tourism, or planting the jatropha plant. I am especially intrigued with the plant idea because I think it fits well with this class--solutions that are not banal, natural, sustainable, etc.


April 27, 2008

Service Learning: Week #10

Friday was my last day at VOA. Greg was very gracious to Brenna and I for helping out this semester--even though it didn't necessarily feel like I did very much to deserve such praise. I enjoyed being in a high school environment and the squirreliness of high schoolers on Friday afternoons. Although just one hour a week didn't allow me to get very close to the students, I will remember this lesson that I learned: treat everybody with kindness because you never know what kind of burden they are bearing. It was apparent that most of the students at VOA don't have the same family and home environment that I grew up with. Nonetheless, I found them to be very polite and respectful of me--something I wasn't certain I would receive when I started. When some got frustrated with the repetitiveness of the My Life Plan surveys, Greg respected how they felt and suggested they take a break from that survey and try something else. He works well with the students, and they seem to respect him for it. If I do service-learning again, I wouldn't mind going back to VOA. Greg said that next year VOA High School is going to be converted into a school that specializes for students where English is their second language.

April 21, 2008

Service Learning: Week #~9

It has been three weeks since I have been to VOA because of our spring break, then their spring break, then their parent's pancake breakfast day. But I liked what I saw when I came back. VOA upgraded their back room and converted it into a "Career and College Center". There are four computers, tables, bookshelves, post-high school resources, and most importantly, a tangible space where the students can think about their futures. (and there is a comfy green chair). This week it was imperative that we get as many students through the My Life Plan process as possible because the Minneapolis School District just informed Greg this week that they would be checking the progress at the end of April, instead of May like they told him before. Most of the kids I had seen before, and didn't have much trouble getting done. However, the new faces I saw hadn't even started and were skeptical about the My Life Plan. One gentleman in particular was getting a little frustrated when taking one of the surveys...however, after he finished, he was excited to see results that matched his personality: Realistic. He said, "Yes, this is EXACTLY like me! I love doing this kind of stuff, with my hands, and with cars." That was fun to see.

April 13, 2008

AIDS in Prisons

AIDS topic research links:

“HIV Transmission and Prevention in Prisons�.
http://hivinsite.ucsf.edu/InSite?page=kb-07-04-13

“Human Rights Watch—HIV/AIDS in Prisons�
http://www.hrw.org/advocacy/prisons/hiv-aids.htm

“AIDS in Prisons—UNAIDS Point of View�
http://data.unaids.org/publications/IRC-pub05/Prisons-PoV_en.pdf

“Osbourne Association—AIDS in Prison Project�
http://www.osborneny.org/aids_in_prison_project.htm

“Much More AIDS in Prisons Than in General Population� New York Times (1999).
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F05E7D81F3BF932A3575AC0A96F958260&sec=health&spon=&pagewanted=1

April 9, 2008

Title Pages

Blog #8: Project Title Pages

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"I have AIDS." These three simple words have enormous power to evoke fear, but hopefully education about AIDS can change that.

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The transparency of images represent the faces and personal stories behind the illness.

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The HIV virus is microscopic, yet is big enough to cause an epidemic on the global scale. The different sizes of the fonts AIDS plays again with the idea of the SCALE of AIDS.

March 15, 2008

Service Learning: Week #5

There were under ten students in class today because the others were on a field trip. However, even though there were less of them, the noise level was what would be expected from a group of energy-packed high schoolers on a Friday afternoon! A girl was wearing a bookcover on her head; I thought it was a durag. Today I also pondered the topic of perceptions: I was walking down the hallway to get a drink of water, when two guys approached me. One asked, "Hey, do you have a lighter?" I replied that I did not. Then the other said, "Man, does she LOOK like she has a lighter?" What does that supposed to mean? I wonder what I did with my body language/physical perceptions to tip him off that I don't smoke.
Within the group of students today, one of them wanted to be a video game designer, another a history teacher, yet another a cosmotologist, and a nurse.

March 12, 2008

Presentation §tyles

blog prompt 6:
look for and document some examples of presentation/documentation styles that your term project may take as inspiration. Good Resources include: CMYK (Magazine), PRINT (Magazine), Graphis (Magazine), Core77 (Blog)
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A lesson every architecture student should learn: Presentation is important. (Is this blog hypocritical?) If your idea is under par, but your presentation is organized, sharp, intriguing, and somewhat beguiling--your idea will pass off as being bonafide. (However, usually it's the other way around: no matter how good a designer you are, without a good presentation skills, nobody will ever know.) In searching for different presentation styles for my project, I found it helpful to look the different ways that people present themselves: fashion. We are communicating a lot about ourselves without even realizing it. How does what I wear affect others' perceptions of me? Who am I offending? Who am I attracting? Who am I repelling? Whose opinion matters of their first impression of me? There are many ways to present yourself, as there are many ways to present a project:

FLASHY

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FLASHY

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FLASHY--Glitter is a flashy addition to ANY project.

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http://www.portfolios.com/

I liked http://www.graphis.com/ the best because it held onto my interest.


March 7, 2008

Service Learning: Week #4

This week was spent on My Life Plan again. While the students were working on their surveys, I walked around in case they had any questions. Most of them didn't have any technical questions that I could answer, nor did any of them initiate any "college life" questions that Greg suggested they ask Brenna and me. So, I weaved in and out of little conversations with them. Two stuck out in my mind that gave me insight to the hardships that these kids are dealing with. One girl was wearing a volleyball letter jacket, so I was talking to her about going to some volleyball camps this summer. She said, "I can't afford it." I asked another young man what his plans were after high school. He talked for a while how he already had plans about going into the Air Force. I asked him a general question if his dad or any relatives in the armed forces that influenced his decision. He said, "I never met my dad." These kids don't have a lot, but they have dreams. I feel lucky to have always been able to afford going to a summer volleyball camp or talking to my dad whenever I want to; talking to these kids put it in perspective and made me realize what I take for granted. However, I my hope for them is that they don't rule out going to college just because they don't have the funds.

March 4, 2008

Term Project Research

Link for Article about "Global Health Joint U.N. Programme":
http://purl.access.gpo.gov/GPO/LPS47744

Link for "Pocket Guide to HIV/AIDS":
http://purl.access.gpo.gov/GPO/LPS60563

Environment affects me?

BLOG PROMPT #5:
Explore through image and text how the built environment affects (supports or detracts) who you are. Speculate in terms of frameworks, clockworks, phenomena and oppositions.

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My environment. Well right now I'm facing a wall in the library. There is a man next to me who is sniffling. My computer and open books that surround me would indicate to others that I am a student. I AM a student. Therefore, my environment harmonizes with who I am. However, I am not just a student. I am a sister, an athlete, a Catholic, a Sconnie, a Will Smith enthusiast, etc--which this immediate environment does not manifest.

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Lancaster, WI: "City of the DOME"...Minneapolis, MN: "City of the METRODOME"

Some would argue that who you are is based on what you do. Others say what you do that determines who you are. But maybe it's not what you do, it's how you do it. In any case, in order to know where you are going, you must remember where you came from. Where I came from was an entirely different environment than where I am now. Lancaster, Wisconsin: population ZERO (and 3900 other folks). If you were to take a drive through town, you would see: a nursing home, a McDonalds (that was a BIG deal), a car dealership, a VFW bar, a bank, a bank, a church, a church, a church, a bar, a store...then, at this point, you would (like all out-of-towners) go down the wrong way one way street around "The Square" where our Courthouse is. (which is actually a fine specimin of architecture now that I reflect on it)...and then you would continue to pass three more bars, four more banks, and a handfull of churches and a Pamida (because we haven't quite made it up to "Wal*Mart" status)...then you would drive through the rolling hills with farms and silos.

Describing the built environment of Lancaster, WI describes me as a person more than I thought. The values and morals that "my people" share are manifested in the buildings. We value religion (with our 16 churches), our beer (with our umpteen bars), our money (with our gaggle of banks), our cows (with our barns and silos). I didn't realize how much my lil' ol' town affected me until I was immersed in a different setting/environment in Minneapolis. While living in Lancaster, I didn't like country music...but now I do. (I haven't figured that one out yet). I think it is still too soon to say how Minneapolis has affected me--I won't entirely know until I get immersed in a different environment and look back on it.

Service Learning: Week #3

I stepped in a puddle on my walk to VOA today. I feel that that is worth mentioning? This was the first day we got to interact with the students. They were given the task to set up and log in to their my life plan webpage, however, most of them would rather be on youtube. (These kids aren't too different than I was in high school!) Another girl, while practicing her shooting form in her chair, asked if she could go play basketball. Taking a cue from Greg, I chatted with her about looking into different colleges/schools that she could potentially play for.

February 28, 2008

No More School!

Blog Prompt # 4:
If you were completely released from the constraints of the ‘architecture school’ program, what would you do architecturally, artistically, bodily, lyrically, etc that would still have an impact on your environment. Describe a real or imagined place which might allow you to do this. Explore through images and text
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No more school. No more credits. No more classes. No more advisers. No more Rapson. No more PowerPoints. No more VanDuzer. However, learning continues. Working cooperatively with others continues. Taking notes continues. All of the things that we are supposed to "take with us" after architecture school would continue.

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For the first stretch of my unconstrained education, I would play. Reverting back to my childhood, I would probably spend weeks making a pointless city out of Legos until I got bored.

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Then, I would search for "something more" and attempt to have a purpose with my play. The above photo of Lego "art" illustrates my need for my creations to have a deeper purpose than just play.

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Feeling unaccomplished, I would get a "real job" in an office... where I would get bogged down by cubicles, memos, and staplers leaving me wondering why I left an opportunity to be "unconstrained".

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Then I would gather with all of my abandoned architecture school friends and build houses with my man, Ty Pennington. Although an overly dramatic TV show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is how I envision architecture to affect change: to give one family new hope by offering them their own space to be. Traveling in service is how I would choose to affect my environment.

February 19, 2008

Service Learning: Week #2

Our coordinator trained/introduced Brenna and I to the online "My Life Plan" program that our students will have to accomplish. After learning more about the program, it seems like a very good idea. It forces the students to plan ahead for after high school, and also gives them one place to keep all of their information for scholarships, potential colleges, interest inventories, etc. (Our group project for 1281 dealt with "my life plan", but it was good to get refreshed.)

While going through the website training, I couldn't help but notice my surroundings. There was a gym class lifting weights in the same room as our coordinator's office. It is a safe bet to say the VOA High School was not designed by an architect. It would be interesting to study the effect the surrounding atmosphere of an industrial, enclosed, non-windowed classroom has on the level of focus of the students.

Service Learning: Week #1

For a kid that dreamed of being a bus driver in kindergarten, I am terrible at taking the bus. On my journey, I asked a kind woman named Wai for directions. I mentioned that I was a student at the University going to volunteer for a class. She didn't know where VOA was, but suggested that I babysit/tutor her children. I must look trustworthy. To make a long story short, I ended up walking past the building twice but eventually got there.

After taking some grief for having walked past the building twice (Brenna and the Achieve! coordinator saw me pass the window both times), we had a short informational meeting. I worked with Achieve! last semester, although at the Lehmann Center rather than VOA. When asked what age group of students we would be working with, the coordinator got up off his chair, closed the door, and answered in a hushed voice, "Most people would refer to this as a 'gang school'".

Physically going off campus and into the city, adds another dimension rather than just "helping kids fill out college applications." I think that I am going to learn more from these students than they will learn from me.