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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

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.


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.


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.

lego work.jpg

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".


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.

Goal #6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases...

TO: Teresa Logemann
FROM: Darin Rowles

I am following up to your recent request for information from our

Based on the brief description of your assignment, I think you may find
it most helpful to speak with someone from an agency that focuses their
work with the African-born communities in MN. A great agency to contact
would be SAYFSM (Sub-Saharan African Youth and Family Services in
Minnesota). They do prevention targeted at African-born populations as
well as provide direct social services to people from that community
living with HIV. Their number is 651-644-3983.

If you would like additional information from our agency, let me know.
Good luck with your project!

Darin Rowles, LSW
MAP AIDSLine Manager
Minnesota AIDS Project
1400 Park Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55404
612-373-2425 (P)
612-341-4057 (F)

February 17, 2008

Research Millenium Development Goal

Propose a set of images, quotes and a playlist of songs that influence your values with
regard to your selected Research Project Millenium Development Goals.
AIDS cell.jpg
Above is an image of HIV/AIDS on a microscopic scale.

How can something so small be powerful enough to affect the entire world?

AIDS globe.png
Above is an image of HIV/AIDS on a global scale.

AIDS baby.jpg
The youngest victim of AIDS.

What can I do?

AIDS hug.jpg

Be educated. Be fearless.

"To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world." ~Heather Cortez

I am only one person. I have limits and boundaries. I can't single-handedly eradicate the world of disease. I can't make everybody happy. To think about achieving this goal on a global scale would make it impossible. So, what can I do? I can make one person's day. I can offer friendship. It's a start.

The song "Skin" by Rascal Flatts tells the story of a girl diagnosed with Leukemia. She lost her hair due to treatment to her disease and doesn't think anybody will want to take her to the prom. However, one fine fellow not only escorts her, but shaves his head in honor of her. "She goes dancing...For a moment, she isn't scared." If only for a moment, this guy made her day. He didn't have to find a cure for Leukemia, he simply took her dancing.

Rascal Flatts - "Skin" Lyrics

Sarah Beth is scared to death
To hear what the doctor will say
She hasn't been well
Since the day that she fell
And the bruises just won't go away
So she sits and see waits with her mother and dad
Flips through an old magazine
Till a the nurse with a smile
Stands at the door
And says will you please come with me

Sarah Beth is scared to death
Cause the doctor just told her the news
Between the red cells and white
Something's not right
But we're gonna take care of you

Six chances in ten it won't come back again
With the therapy were gonna try
It's just been approved
It's the strongest there is
I think we caught it in time

Sarah Beth closes her eyes
She dreams she's dancing
Around and around without any cares
And her very first love is holding her close
And the soft wind in blowing her hair

Sarah Beth is scared to death
As she sits holding her mom
Says it would be a mistake
For someone to take
A girl with no hair to the prom

Oh, just this morning right there on her pillow
Was the coolest of any surprise
And she cried when she gathered it all in her hands
The proof that she couldn't deny

Sarah Beth closes her eyes
She dreams she's dancing
Around and around without any cares
And her very first love is holding her close
And the soft wind is blowing her hair

It's a quarter to 7
That boy's at the door
Her daddy ushers him in
And when he takes off his cap
They all start to cry
Cuz this morning where his hair had been
Softly she touches just skin

They go dancing
Around and around without any cares
And her very first true love is holding her close
And for a moment she isn't scared

February 9, 2008

Social Design Ish

Blog Prompt #2:
Find a social design issue in the Twin Cities. Document it. Be an advocate for it.

Organic foods are trendy. In principle, examples like the Whole Foods Market and the Slow Foods Movement are great. Organic/local farming is good for the environment, it reduces toxins, promotes biodiversity, reduces shipping expenditures, and supports local farming families. However, I don't buy into the trend--mostly because it is so EXPENSIVE!! In stores around campus, I am given the choice between the healthier $4.00 organic juice, or the less expensive less healthy choice of soda-pop. Luckily, my flexdine dollars are still fresh from the beginning of semester, so I can afford to be healthy. However, what about all those who can't afford to be healthy? Although organic and healthy food is the moral choice, the organic food industry caters to a specific social class: the wealthy. America is not known for its skinny people. Organic farming is an attempt to reverse this obesity, however it also supports the negative cycle of "the rich get richer, the poor get poorer" except "the rich can afford to be healthy, but the poor get fatter." Junk food is cheaper. A mother that has to feed eight mouths isn't going to waste her money on $4.00 organic juice. We need to make the organic trend available to those who cannot afford it: to let them make a personal decision to be healthy rather than a financial decision. As there is a growing interest in Organic farming/consumption in the Twin Cities area, what can we do to make it affordable to everyone? In the same parallel, cool sneakers are trendy, but they are too expensive for many folks. NBA star Stephon Marbury did something about it and started his own shoe line that sells sneakers for under $15. Thanks, Stephon.

February 1, 2008

Andy Goldsworthy

Blog Prompt #1:
inspired by Andy Goldsworthy (and our discussions today), document and investigate,
through text and image - this idea of energy, flow and transformation through the city.


Andy Goldsworthy's work captures the idea of a moment. In the example of the red rock ball, he shows the beauty of a moment, of movement. It takes time to grind down all of that rock, and in an instant, it's over. In this he also shows us how fragile and fleeting a moment is; as supported by his stick-web configuration that got blown with the wind. His facial expression the moment after it broke was somewhat disappointed, but more so a look of acceptance--the breakage was inevitable, and it was good while it lasted.

We often think of art as being solid and sustained through time. There are statues, monuments, and paintings that date back thousands of years. The opposite is the beauty of Andy's work: it's alive for a moment, then changes. I say "changes" rather than "dies" because his art doesn't disappear totally, it merely continues as a different state of being. Such as the red rock ball: he gives the red stone life during the moment that it explodes in the water, but after that, the particles continue on their way in their life cycle.

The same can be said about cities. Cities are thought of as solid, concrete places. A city is habitual. People are used to cities being there; new cities just don't pop up out of no where. That being said, cities are ever changing. Cities are alive. They grow and develop. Because cities are habitual, it is easiest to witness change when revisiting a city years after being there. For example, during her college years, my mom lived in Madison, WI. For me, I am used to West Towne being a commercial area with great shopping...but for her, it was barely recognizable because it had changed so much: from cornfields to houses and shopping developments.

We know that cities change. The Minneapolis in the late 1800's during the Mill City era is not the same as the Minneapolis today. However, the change happens slowly over a lifetime, so many are callous to its changes. Beauty of a place is best seen through the eyes of a stranger. For me, every time I cross the Washington St. walking bridge and look out at the Minneapolis skyline, I stop. Although the skyline has been there, solid, strong,'s a fleeting moment as I pass by.