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 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 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)

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--Glitter is a flashy addition to ANY project.


I liked the best because it held onto my interest.

March 4, 2008

Environment affects me?

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.


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.

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.

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.

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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".


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 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?

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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.