May 8, 2008

Cityview Volunteering

When I went to Cityview last week to volunteer for ACES, we (the volunteers) were given the task of surveying the students about how they feel ACES works for them. The questions were all very interesting and I got some interesting answers. Here are some examples:
- "Do you feel that there is at least one adult in the ACES program who cares for you?"
~to which I got responses like: "Yes, you are one!" and "YES!" (with a big smile on their faces
- "Do you think ACES has helped you to do better in school?"
~"Ya, it helps me get my homework done in time."
- "Do you turn all your homework in on time?"
~"Haha, no..."
-"Do you have important plans for the future?"
~"Yes, I want to be a veterinarian."
-"Do you plan on going to college?"
~ I got mostly yes's, but one student said, "No, I am not smart enough." To which I responded, "I think you could finish college if you put your mind to it. He just shrugged.
- "What is the one thing ACES could change to be better? (not including having more trips or free time)?"
~"I wish we had more organized activities in the classroom."
- "Do you ever feel that you need to use physical force to get something you want."
~"No."
-"Do you ever hit people when you feel like it."
~ Generally no's, but one student said, "Yes, but only when we play fight."

These questions, among others were asked to the students in order to gage how ACES has been affecting them, and how they view the program. Most of the students answered the questions the way one would hope they would, but every so often I would receive an answer that took me aback. Overall, though, the students really felt that ACES was a positive experience for them. They almost all said that ACES has helped them improve in school. It was really interesting to conduct the surveys. The students were all very excited to participate and the ones who we didn't get to were very disappointed. It was a nice close to my experience at Cityview, though I would love to continue volunteering there. Chad offered a place to us for next year if we wanted to return, and I am seriously contemplating going back. It has been a moving and eye opening experience to work with the kids. I have greatly enjoyed myself.

May 1, 2008

Blog Prompt 9 Response

Blog Prompt 9 response- Sara and Christa- Goal 4 reduce child mortality

• Start with video
o Nice images and quotes
o Millennium Development Goal 4
• Most deaths are preventable
• 1354 children will die during this class
• Sierra Leone
o Worst child mortality rating in the world
o Western Africa- 20 dif ethnic groups
o Farming, diamonds, gold
o Poorly managed, weak infrastructure
o Government corruption and diamond industry led to civil war- RUF
o Amputated extremities to eliminate number of useful soldiers
o Kidnapped children to raise them as soldiers
o Slowly improving, though large steps need to be taken
o 270/1000 children under 5 will die- 6.5 children per woman
o Little sanitation
o Causes of child mortality
• Malnutrition, no sanitation, no healthcare etc
o Solutions
• Improve newborn care
• Distribution of supplements
• Immunization
• Mosquito nets
o UNICEF example
o Action Against Hunger
o Feed my Starving Children- Minnesota
o Nothing but Nets- internet business- play the game!
o Push widespread action

I think this group put together a nice presentation, the video was a fantastic touch, however, I am not sure they pushed the envelope with their solution. They stated good solutions and pointed out good organizations to follow, however they did not propose much that would elevate the rate of improvement towards the resolution of this problem. Granted, the solutions are widely known, and they pointed out that the problem comes in the execution, but they did not point out a way to eradicate this problem. Really, for every Millennium Development Goal a solution is pre-existing, but the idea behind this assignment, in my opinion was to think the problem from a slightly new perspective.

Blog Prompt 8 Response

Response to Goal 7- Angie, Anthony, Laura- Honors presentation

Presentation Points
• Bring environmental sustainability to Minneapolis slums
• Increased need for low income housing
o Lack of development projects, no one wants proposed low income housing nearby, redevelopment projects
o If left unsolved
• Overcrowding etc
• Natural environment in crisis
o 30% of species have been lost
o Current design practices work against sustainability, mainly due to materials used and emissions
o Propositions
• Replacement materials
• Go green
• Lower energy cost, increase well being of occupants, reduce footprint
• Ex of successes
o Federal Reserve Bank Minneapolis
o S.C. Johnson Company Headquarters
• CHEAP
o Near North Apartments, Chicago
• Drainwater system, huge water savings
o Traugott Terrace Apartments
• Natural lighting, water conserved etc
• Water conservation
• Lower energy cost
• Renovate low income housing units to increase sustainability
• Riverside Plaza- low income housing
1. Install water re-use systems
2. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs
3. Install vertical recycling chutes
4. Replace windows with high efficiency triple paned glass
5. Replace deteriorating colored panels with new wood panels
6. Paint dirty concrete to white
7. Utilize passive-solar energy
8. Apply energy star roof systems to reduce solar absorption
9. Install energy star appliances
10. Replace old HVAC system with energy star certified system
11. KONE elevators with gearless traction- use less energy

Above is the outline of the notes I took during the honors presentation, presented by Angie, Anthony and Laura, pertaining to goal 7- to Ensure environmental sustainability. They chose to focus on creating sustainable living for low income housing, particularly the Riverside Plaza in Minneapolis.
I responded very well to this presentation as it was very specific in what they were trying to achieve. I think they thought through the problem in front of them and developed a reasonable, attainable and coveted response. The found a need and filled it. I appreciate their choice and I think it was noble to point out that the problems that need to be addressed are occurring in our own back yard.
I guess I have a skewed perception of this particular goal as it is the same one I chose for my presentation. However, I am going to suggest the same thing that was suggested to me by my TA: Perhaps a few suggestions of more proactive solutions as opposed to reactive solutions. This, in fact, is exactly what was suggested to me by Jeff, however, I found it to be very helpful and eye opening. The problem really isn’t in the products we buy, or the ways they are produced, the problem is in the lifestyle choices and societal norms of today. Why can’t we be more open to using less technology on a day to day basis and living a more simplified existence in order to save the environment we live in for future generations? It is a bug question, and not easily tackled, but if simplicity is preached from the beginning in children’s lives, the solution could grow. A lofty solution, yes, but the only true one. Rather than combating ourselves, our habits, with new technologies and solutions, why not change ourselves? Even the slightest change could make a difference.

April 27, 2008

Cityview Volunteering

The last time I went to Cityview to volunteer for ACES we had a small amount of students show up, but Katie, the team leader, dealt with the situation very well. We allowed the ones who did choose to participate to draw and play games, as they were in the middle of standardized testing and didn't have any homework to complete. We talked with the students in a very comfortable, more relaxed way, as the program was very laid back that day.
I will only be going to ACES one more time, as I have my hours complete and we are rapidly approaching the period of headaches and long nights in school. I feel that it may be hard to tell the kids that I won't be coming back any more. I have been working with the same group of students throughout my experience, and while I have developed closer relationships with some students than others, it will still be strange to not see them all every week. They have taught me a lot and every time I go, I learn that there comes a time where you just need to calm down and forget about everything you have to do at home. The kids need you to really be there when you go. They deserve it.
In general, working with kids of any age, culture, religion etc can really take a toll on you, but it can also be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life if you let it. Though I am quite sure I could never work with students on a daily basis, I do enjoy doing it intermittently.
In the summer I work as a sailing instructor for the lake that I live on. I was recently informed that the sailing school may be trying to develop a relationship with the local YMCA and other organizations to give underprivileged kids the opportunity to attend a camp in which they could spend time on the lake and learn to sail. I immediately jumped at the opportunity to help with this program. I think it would be a great thing to see kids learning to sail who REALLY wanted to do something new, as opposed to the kids I currently coach, who tend to think they are "too cool for sailing school."
This may be lame, but I envy the simplicity of their lives and I love being included in them, even for short periods of time.

April 17, 2008

Cityview Volunteering

After switching team leaders last week, for the second time, I have been able to compare the way the kids are handled from leader to leader, especially since I have been fortunate enough to remain with the same students throughout my ACES experience. I really appreciate the work the team leaders put in. It is not an easy job, and I only go once a week. To be perfectly honest, I don't think I could EVER be a teacher, I would probably lose my mind. Perhaps I could handle college students, but even so, their complaining is quite extensive.
This week at Cityview went quite well. I enjoyed working with the kids, as always, though fewer showed up this week than usual. They have standardized testing this week, so of course they have ample energy and no homework, which is not always a great combination. However, Katie, the team leader, dealt with them very well. We allowed them to have structured free time to put some of their energy into, and then of course continued to the gym.
I am really glad I have been able to stick with the same group of students throughout. Learning how to deal with certain students effectively takes more than a few days, in most cases. I also really enjoy walking in and being able to hold laid back conversations with the majority of the students I have been working with. They say hello and call me by name, which really is an awesome thin, no matter how small. I do know, however, that my experience with ACES is coming to an end. It makes me sad to think that these next few visits will be the last time I will see these students (unless, of course we continue with service learning, though they probably won't remember me in a few months). It is the same situation when the summer comes to a close and I finish working with my sailing school students. I feel like I get more attached to them than most of them are to me, though they probably never realize it. Now that I think about it, in my younger years I probably had such a huge amount of volunteers and teachers who came to work with me in school and practices, and honestly I can't remember the large majority of them, though I am sure they had an impact on my life at the time. It's strange how quickly kids can rebound and move on from people coming and going.
Anyways, now that I have become all reflective and philosophical, this week went well. I enjoyed working with Katie and the kids and I am looking forward to going back!

April 9, 2008

Cityview Volunteering

This was the first week back in the swing of things since spring break, and it seems like it has been forever since I saw the kids. I got to work with the same kids that I usually work with again this week, although the team leader switched. I really enjoyed working with the new team leader, Katie. She was really good at working with the kids, especially those who clearly didn't want to be there. She kept them very well under control which gave me more of a chance to have some one-on-one homework time with the kids as opposed to having to work on keeping them under control the whole time. I worked with one student, Cardell, this week who has always been difficult to work with. He is generally well behaved and doesn't really talk back, but at times he doesn't really talk at all. I got him to work on his homework for a short while, but towards the end, he completely shut down and wouldn't respond to me in any way. Thankfully, however, Katie had an activity for the kids. We watched a movie about the Raptor Center here on campus and the students had to fill out a worksheet. It kept them all in check until it was gym time, and it was pretty interesting (I thought). In the gym I helped twirl the jump rope, as I usually do, but then Julia and I (another volunteer) started to play along with the kids, and I think they got a kick out of it. They are all really great kids and I love working with them... most of the time.

March 30, 2008

Title Page Designs- Blog Prompt 7

I have created three title page designs, however, because our project will potentially be presented with a pamphlet which leads to our web page, I designed accordingly. The first image is from our rough draft of the pamphlet. It is used as the first page. The second two images are designs of the introduction page to our website. The menu options are listed and each will lead to a different part of the website. These are al preliminary, as we have not even attempted making the web page yet.

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Spring Break in Annapolis, Maryland

Over spring break I ventured on a trip with the University of Minnesota Sailing Team to Annapolis, Maryland. We participated in a regatta put on by the naval academy on the Chesapeake Bay. We then held practice for the rest of the week at Severn Sailing Association just across from the Naval Academy base. We rented a small, two bedroom, one bathroom house in historic downtown Annapolis. The streets were cobblestone, the houses compact and the little porches were placed picturesquely in the front. I took some pictures some of my favorite houses and streets. What thrilled me most about the area was the colors used on the houses, fire hydrants, even the fences. I felt like I was in a completely different country. On any trip I take, it always surprises me what changes the distance between two places can bring. Not only in architecture and town layout, but people's personalities and mentalities. I always figured the rumors about east coast kids was an exaggeration, but no, the "coasties" really do exist!
Anyways, I included some of the pictures I took on the trip. Enjoy!
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March 10, 2008

Graphically Pleasing Design Examples- Blog Response 6

This past Wednesday our group decided to do a two-fold project. The first portion being a pamphlet which leads the reader to the second portion: a Webpage or, at the very least, a blog page. This weekend it was my duty to do a mockup of our pamphlet. I was looking around online, especially at the cites Ozayr mentioned, and I did find a few interesting and inspirational graphics. I made a compilation of the ones I got the most from below.
The first I found on the first page I went to which was the CMYK Magazine website. I really liked the repetition of figures (figure one), which I know I have seen before, but for some reason it just jumped out at me on this cover. For our pamphlet I decided to try out a similar graphic. Our topic being environmental sustainability, the globe seemed to be fitting. Figure two shows my attempt. I don’t have photoshop or anything similar, so I was forced to do it all painstakingly on powerpoint, but once I got started I found it incredibly addictive.
The next thing I found online was actually not entirely related to sustainability or presentation, I just thought it was an interesting article. I stumbled upon it while I was surfing through the Print Magazine website. It was an article about Google Earth and YouTube and their possible assistance in the termination of genocide. See the link here, http://printmag.com/design_articles/the_right_click/tabid/288/Default.aspx. For me it just brought to focus how powerful the internet can be. I realize it is a long shot for Google Earth to end mass killing of innocent people, but it can easily raise awareness. I, for one, am a Google Earth/ YouTube addict and I can think of no better way of raising awareness than to put signs in all the common areas. It is advertising, but for change.
The third image below is one I found on the intro to graphis.com. I think it is a very compelling advertisement. Both simple and effective. Side note: (Try to read this) Did you konw taht if you wirte a wrod wtih the frsit and lsat lteters in the smae pacle and all the mdlide lteetrs jmubled it is msot lekily sitll lgbelie? Did you get it?
The fourth image is one I found on the Print magazine web site as well. The only reason I chose it is because I thought it looked very professional with the tone on tone style. I would like to carry this into our project. It sometimes seems as though too much color creates a distraction from the graphics and the content.
The fifth image is really just a representation of the simple style that I think speaks so well in professional format. It exudes organization, professionalism and even confidence. It is as if the designers knew that was enough to get them noticed and anything else would be overkill: confidence.
The sixth and final image in the group is just an example of a very well organized website. It is all in a grid pattern and very easy to follow. It is very professional, though it seems relatively effortlessly so.


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March 6, 2008

Cityview Volunteering- Week three

This week I went to Cityview without my trusty bus partner Julia FIllingame. I was a little worried about riding the bus alone, but it turns out I recognized somebody from architecture on the bus so it was no big deal. It was Andrew's first time volunteering this week, so I tried to show him what to do, but I wanted him to be able to figure most of it out on his own, without me influencing his perceptions of the program.

This week I decided to go with the same group again, and as it turns out the same team leader as last week. Apparently our first week started at the end of a cycle, so a new one began in our second week. I hope I can develop a relationship with the kids in my group by the end of this cycle. They can sometimes be a difficult group of kids to work with, but what group doesn't have its quirks? I have really enjoyed getting to know these kids. I find it the most beneficial to just sit and let the kids talk if they wan to. One boy, Travis, always has something he wants to tell me. If I am spending time with another student, Travis will come over and show me what he has been working on, just to be sure I approve. It really makes me feel good. It is amazing, to me, how willing kids are to develop relationships with new people. They have such trust and innocence, which is totally cliché and lame, but it is true!

Again this week I noticed problem with delegation of regulations for the kids. One of the students was playing a game with me and other students and one of the traveling team leaders came over and took him away to do his homework, when two minutes before someone told him he could go play. He was crushed and started to cry. Later then, I had all the students I was working with stop playing and work on their "fish stories." The same student came over to get the game so he could play and I told him that he had to work on his fish story like everybody else. It seems like the right answer right? It seems weird that one boy would be allowed to play if nobody else can, but the same team leader as before came up to me and said that she was going to play with him as a reward for doing his homework. She said it perfectly nicely, but then I felt terrible for messing with the poor boys emotions! My point is, it could have been dealt with better. There needs to be a common goal for all the volunteers and team leaders and it needs to be communicated.

Though I know some of my blogs have been rather harsh on the program, considering what they are working with and the fact that they have volunteers coming and going, they really do a great job. Hats off to them. Really.

March 4, 2008

Oh, It's What You Do To Me- Blog Prompt 5

The Built Environment enables me, molds me, frustrates me, comforts me, guides me, inspires me, intrigues me, and repulses me, among other things.
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The Built Environment allows me to develop opinions and taste, likes and dislikes.
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You may be wondering about my choices of images for my terms above, but your wonderment completely proves my point. The built environment does all those things for ME. I mean, it does them for you too, but most likely with different examples. I tried to stay local with the examples until the last frame: “Repulses?- simply because I was reminded of this building earlier this week and I had to include it.

For me, the first step in deciding what effect the built environment has on me is outlining what, exactly, the built environment entails. To serve my purpose, I am including human organizations and programs in the “built environment,? not just buildings, for without human interference with the environment, much of what happens daily for us, would not normally occur.

This may seem contrived, but really the built environment develops its own frameworks and clockworks, separate from the natural interaction of life. For example, it creates its own hours of daytime. People rise at regular hours but do not need to follow the schedule of the sun after it falls. Ozayr spoke about this in class today. Work is not done with the setting of the sun, though it probably should be (mostly because I love to sleep). Another example is that a new schedule is created with the built environment. If you have ever sat outside on a day when you don’t have class, you would likely have noticed traffic patterns, i.e. an increase in people (and therefore collisions) in between classes, or a larger number of people heading toward Coffman during lunch hours etc. These clockworks go without fail, except of course the weekends, which really are a clockwork within themselves, i.e. the number of people waiting at the bus stop to go into the city significantly increase around 10:30 at night. Believe you me, I have experienced it. I guess even these simple patterns can be considered phenomena. They have beginnings, time frames, reasons, boundary conditions etc. Basically, our lives are led by our built environment and the frameworks, clockworks, and phenomena that result from them.

In a sort of twisted sense, the 6 oppositions are met on a daily basis in our lives, well mine at the least.
1. Man vs. Nature- Simple: I was not made to go 8 hours without lunch two days a week. No exaggeration: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9-4 without a break.
2. Climate and Enclosure- Due to the frigid temperatures, all of my walks have been shortened by at least 3 minutes because I want to get indoors faster.
3. Gravity vs. Movement- When I go for runs, hills suck. Case and point.
4. Permanence and Entropy- Is what I learn in lectures really going to stay with me forever, or is it temporary? (Permanent of course, Ozayr… but for the sake of argument)
5. Mass and Form- I would like think I represent the “form? end of this one. I mean who wants to be compared to a sumo wrestler?
6. Material and Tool- My drawing class in a nutshell. What paper? Charcoal or pencil? Do I even have talent? (ummm yes!? Wow now I feel bad)

On a more scholarly note, though, the oppositions completely effect the built environment. I think some of the oppositions are more prominently represented. For example the effects of the opposition of permanence versus entropy can be seen on virtually any building you pass. I live in Comstock Hall and the styles, furnishings and appliances are all out of date, though probably not more than 20 years old. We had a toilet overflow earlier this year and flood our entire hallway. It was great… Another prominent opposition, in my opinion, is man versus nature. Nearly everything we have built in the cities is in opposition to nature, or at least without ever really considering the natural life around it. Yes, there are parks and the river, but the parks are unnatural and the river is tampered with daily. We detach ourselves from nature because it is inconvenient. Similarly, the opposition of climate and enclosure is simply for convenience and comfort. I know it sounds like I am being anti-development right now, but if we could just be more aware of our surroundings and careful with our impact on the land we could greatly decrease the amount of environmental issues we have today. (Which, of course, relates to my term project issue of sustainability.)

Also I really enjoyed making the image above so I thought of a few more verbs that I associate with the built environment, though these are more focused on places anywhere in the world. I think it is a nice close to this lovely blog.
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March 2, 2008

Cityview Volunteering- Week two

When we first arrived this past Monday we did the regular routine. We walked in, signed the visitors sheet and went to the office we were introduced to last time. We waited there until it was time to meet the students in the cafeteria, when we walked together with the boxes of activities. All the new volunteers sat at their own table while the Vets. walked around chatting with the kids they knew. We signed our hours in and the name-tags were given out, though a few of us still hadn't had them made. I asked what group we were supposed to go with and we were told we could go with anyone we wanted, unless he decided to move us around. I chose to go with the same group of kids we had gone with last time, though the group leader had changed. This fact baffled me. Why would the group leaders change? These kids become attached to the leader and then they have them taken away. Wouldn't it be more worth while to give the kids a more permanent figure in their lives than to give them 10 rotating figures? I guess, to me, the point of being a mentor figure is so you can become close to a few kids as opposed to not really knowing anything about the individuals in a large group of kids. They need permanent figures in their lives that they can feel comfortable with.

We went through the same routine as last time with the kids, though this time they had less homework to do and it was a bit less controlled. Apparently I was with a "trouble causing" group of kids this time and last, as we had many visits from the head coordinator. This time, however, he spent the majority of his time with us, along with a teacher from Cityview and an extra group leader. I guess it seemed like the kids were being inundated with rules and restrictions. I understand that there needs to be structure, but speaking form a students perspective, couldn't we give them a break? They just went through 7 hours of school or more, they don't need two more hours of sitting in a desk not being allowed to talk or relax. A few of the restrictors were being a bit intense with the rules. It just "sucked the fun" out of the room. I know the kids were trouble makers, but standing over them, literally, making sure they did not talk or stray from their "fish worksheet" was a bit much.

ACES is a great organization, don't get me wrong. But with any organization outsiders can see some flaws more readily than those who are completely immersed in the program.

I did get some drawings this time too!!!

February 26, 2008

School, Forever- Blog Prompt 4

I feel like the best way for me to address this particular blog prompt is by outlining how I would live my life if money, school constraints and time (or age rather) were no issue. I must say, however, even if schooling were not required to gain a high level career I would still go to school. I enjoy learning and I think I would at least need a mentor or internship of some kind. I would, however, address school differently. I would love to simultaneously combine field work and taking on information. I would take myself out of the classroom and do studies.
I recently looked into doing a UROP project with Ann Ziebarth of the Housing Studies department. When I met with her she explained the projects she had been working on and was hoping to be able to work on further. Obviously, they addressed housing issues, most in and around the Twin Cities, though one was comparing senior citizen livability in St. Paul to that of Vancouver. The one that interested me most was a survey study she wanted to conduct on the Hispanic migrant working population in South Minneapolis. They need housing and designing adequate, cheap, sensible housing for their population has proved quite the project. Here is a link to an article that interviewed a typical migrant family in the canning industry in south Minneapolis: http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/node/6066. This and other projects she explained would be things that I would work on were I “released.? It would essentially be UROP expanded.
I have a growing interest in difference in cultures and styles. I went to the Cultural Celebration put on by an academic fraternity in the Great Hall this past Friday night. I’m not going to lie, we mostly went for the free food, but we found out that there were going to be cultural dances and music on stage. We stayed and it was VERY cool. I really enjoyed myself. So, on top of doing studies here, I would travel EVERYWHERE (remember I made money issues disappear). I would love to focus on African development and Spanish historical architecture. I would volunteer my time. I would participate in rebuild projects such as the one in Biloxi as well. Side note- this weekend I met a senior in the BS of Architecture program who went to Biloxi and I am incredibly jealous. Also he didn’t seem very stressed at the time, which is good. I always figured that later on in my architecture education I would loose the privilege of relaxation.
While I travel, I would take deep interest in the country’s style of architecture, but not only that, I would study their culture, their city design and layout, their history, their lifestyles and their countryside. I would stay with locals, do what they do, eat what they eat (to a point…), and listen to what they have to say. I would go backpacking in places like Chile, Russia, Brazil, Spain and many more. I would spend the moajority of my time in rural areas to gain knowledge of culture and the true lifestyles of the area. (also I love nature, see picture at bottom) Basically I would spend my time gathering information, comparing cultures and coming up with project ideas, which I would then execute. If a small town had a need for a building I would work under more experienced architects to construct them. I would learn from them, then I would eventually be able to build my own. I would do volunteer work for my whole life if I could. The best job satisfaction comes from volunteer work.Alvaro Siza.png Peter Zumthor.png n804645250_2420073_5602.jpg
I would also like to find a way meet all the greats. I would study them, visit their best buildings and try to meet with them personally. As Leslie VanDuzer said last semester, I will get in “by any means necessary.? Yikes… but really, I would. Greats like Louis Kahn, ?lvaro Siza Vieira, Peter Zumthor, Sol LeWitt (though he died last year, I would find a way to learn from him), Bruce Mau, etc, I would seek them all out. I would just sit and listen, if they allowed. (I was going to say that Ozayr looked like Siza to get the "blog of the week" but I thought he might get mad.)
In short, if I were allowed to leave the constraints of architecture school behind, I would spend all my time learning… not a big stretch I guess. Really the only constraint prohibiting me from doing this is money. Always... The only way I can think of to design a place to enable all that I want to do would be to encapsulate the world? Not really possible I guess.
(Also I would probably toss a quick sail around the world in there, just for good measure. I want to be this guy: http://growabrain.typepad.com/growabrain/2004/04/_sailing_around.html)5169.jpg

February 17, 2008

Cultural Effects on Personal Views- Blog Prompt 3

Let me start by saying that placing these goals in a personal order was REALLY hard, and kind of made me feel bad about being able to place some of the things at the end. It was very difficult.

My First Goal Choice:
Ensure Environmental Sustainability

I am a self-proclaimed tree hugger. The environment is my thing, my obsession. This blog assignment is really exciting for me because I love searching for new, and old, inspirational songs, pictures, videos etc. To jump right in I am going to start with my list of songs that inspire my passion for this particular issue. (in no particular order)

1) “Because? The Beatles- Though this song makes no clear statement of environmental meaning, it always makes me want to go lay in a field and become one with nature. It’s rendition in the recent flick “Across the Universe? played to my love of this song, as it was sung by the characters while laying a field. Perfection. (plus I love The Beatles)
2) “Clear Blue Skies? Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young- This group of fine gentlemen is a love of my mother’s and their music has been played in my home since birth. The lyrics of this particular song fit perfectly with an environmental theme. For example, “Clear blue skies, not too much to ask for, they were here before we came, will they be here when we're gone?? It forces us to focus on the future. Those hippies know what they’re talking about. This song was written 20 years ago and still very little has changed for the better.
3) “The Golden Age? Beck- Though, again, not an in-your-face message to save the environment it just makes me think of the powers of nature, how special it is, and its importance. It’s a great song.
4) “The 3 R’s? Jack Johnson- Pretty clear I think. Here are some lyrics if you aren’t familiar with the song: “And if you've got to make some trash, don't throw it out, recycle, we've got to learn to recycle, we've got to learn to reduce, reuse, recycle.?
5) “Big Yellow Taxi? Joni Mitchell (and yes it is a Joni Mitchell original, not Bob Dylan, as my friend claimed)- I’ve always loved the familiarity of this song to many people. Most people have lived in, or at least near, areas that have been subject to unwanted development that is insensitive to the area. This song really works for cessation of over-development. Save the trees!

President Bush's views on the environment?
"It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it."

Okay images…
I love political cartoons, here is a good’n...
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I borrowed "An Inconvenient Truth" by Al Gore (the book form) to check out some of the information and images in the book. I bookmarked a few interesting, though disturbing, pages as I was flipping through. Here are some of the images I gathered...

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This image shows the United States' contribution to Global Warming, while all of Europe combined contributes 27.7% and Africa only contributes 2.5%.

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This is an image of the diminishing appearance of Lake Chad. 40 years ago it was the size of Lake Erie, but now it has shrunk to about one twentieth of its original size creating a desperate situation in areas like Darfur.

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This image depicts the melting of the Larson-B Ice Shelf. This transformation occurred within less than a year.

One of the more interesting facts I found in the book was this: "Flooding in Asia has increased dramatically. IN July 2005, Mumbai, India, received 37 inches of rain in 24 hours... Water levels reached 7 feet. The death toll in western India reached 1000." This and many more facts about crazy weather incidences, such as there being so many hurricanes in 2005 that they had to use the Greek alphabet for the naming of them for the first time ever, that the often rejected theory of Global Warming seems to have to be fact.



I just found this video on youtube and thought it showed the huge focus of our generation on environmental issues.

On a more serious note, I think this video is very well done, and presents some valid points.

In closing, I have an interesting quote from "An Inconvenient Truth":
"The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences." -Winston Churchill, 1936

My Second Goal Choice:
Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger

In high school I was a member of “Arrowhead Against Extreme Poverty? (Arrowhead was my high school). I helped put on events to raise money for local hunger fighting organizations. The posters we put together to influence people were very moving and since then I have always had a passion for the fight.

Influential Songs:
1) “Richard Cory? Simon & Garfunkel- This is a story that illustrates the organization of many working lives. I love the oldies, and this one is great.
2) “If There’s a God in Heaven (What’s He Waiting For)? Elton John- A great description of the painful events that happen to those living in poverty every day.

3) “God Save Us All? Lenny Kravitz- This is a rather desperate cry for help, though very well done. With lyrics like “There’s too much poverty, sickness, There’s pain and strife, why aren’t we trying to improve this thing called life??

When I went to youtube to look for videos on extreme hunger, I knew there would be a plethora. The most prevalent were from the One foundation to end extreme poverty. The videos are highly viewed and appear on television regularly. Here is an example:

Images of extreme poverty and hunger are always disturbing and moving. There has been no one single image that has affected my feelings towards extreme poverty and hunger, but rather the accumulation of all the images we see over time. They should be forever engraved in our minds.

The most moving quotes regarding hunger and poverty, for me, come from the mouths of those personally suffering from poverty. It is not the commercials begging you to send money and save the lives of the kids they have standing in the background, who are probably only crying because a scary man shoved his huge camera into their face. It is the personal interviews with these people that really get me.

I joined "One: The Campaign to Make Poverty History" and you can too. Invite your friends. Here is the letter you can send out:

Subject: Join me in fighting poverty!

Hi,

I've just signed the ONE Declaration committing myself to help fight the emergency of global AIDS and extreme poverty.

I'm asking you to make that commitment, too, by adding your voice.

I think your name belongs on that declaration, too. You can put it there by visiting:

http://www.one.org/declare/

ONE is a new effort by Americans to rally Americans - one by one. So far, over two million have signed the declaration in support of a historic pact for compassion and justice to help the poorest people of the world.

Together as ONE we can make a difference!

Thanks!


My Third Goal Choice, though not required, it is very important to me:
Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women

My song choices for this Goal are quite different than the others, rather than the songs being on my side, I chose songs that are the distinct opposite of empowering women. For example:
1) “Livin’ it Up? Ja Rule- I could NOT believe what I was reading when I saw the lyrics to this song, I don’t feel it is kosher to put the lyrics on this blog. Look it up yourself if you feel the need. It is terrible.
2) “Fuck Dat Bitch? 50 Cent- Or any other song by Mr. Fiddy. I’m not a fan.
There are many other examples, and by no means are these two artists the only guilty ones. I realize that this part of culture now, but really? Women fought so long for equality and I feel it slipping away, even in this our “great country.?

More serious issues of the inequality of women occurs outside of the United States, however. I recently went to see the “Vagina Monologues? put on by MPIRG on campus where all the proceeds went to aid women escaping prostitution. They also addressed the issue of Female Genital Mutilation which occurs in many traditions to preserve the virginity of women before marriage. The castration occurs around the age of 5 on all girls in the community. Should they refuse it, their family will be shamed forever.

Very powerful…
Similarly, tradition stands in the way of the progression of women in Iraq, Afghanistan and many other countries. When looking into Iraqi women’s issues I found out about a woman who is one of the six women in an Iraqi governmental position. She and her family had to go into hiding and her children haven’t left their new compound in five months for fear of what might happen to them. She said “It’s not very happy what we have seen in the last two years, hundreds of women kidnapped, trafficked and the rest of the millions are being oppressed and pushed back into the houses…? She was photographed burning her veil and is now on the top of the hit lists for many Islamic groups. They want to stop her radical views.
Again, in Afghanistan similar issues arrive. Afghani women struggle to get education, where it is viewed that if they are educated they will lose interest in keeping a proper household. I was looking for images and came across RAWA.org, which stands for “Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan.? The photos on this sight are beyond disturbing and I had a hard time choosing any that I felt comfortable posting on my blog. Here are a few:

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References:
Gore, Al. An Inconvenient Truth. Emmaus: Rodale, 2006.

"Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA)." RAWA. 17 Feb. 2008. 17 Feb. 2008 .

"The Campaign to Make Poverty History." One. 17 Feb. 2008. 17 Feb. 2008 .

Youtube. 17 Feb. 2007. 17 Feb. 2008 .

February 13, 2008

Rude Awakening

So I have been looking into the UROP project opportunities and today I met with Professor Ann Ziebarth who works in the Housing Studies Department on the St. Paul Campus. I saw that she was working on some housing projects and so I emailed her asking if I might be able to be an undergrad researcher for her. I went to her office hours and she began to talk about her projects, past present and future. One is involving the livability of communities with regards to the "walkability" and accessibility of neighborhood necessities. They would collect data by way of personal impressions as well as surveys of current residents. The twist is that they will then compare their findings in St. Paul to the findings of another research group in Vancouver and maybe even swap researchers for a while. Differences should be found due to the nature of the laws in the two areas. In Vancouver the laws are mandatory, whereas in St. Paul they are less strictly enforced.

Another project she has been involved in does research among a Mexican migrant worker population in South Minneapolis. They need affordable housing for varying amounts of time. The original architect (though nothing was built because funding fell through) went in thinking he was going to be very culturally sensitive and wanted to build housing according to their culture and style. Howevre, it turns out they just wanted their housing to fit in to the area they were living and not stick out like a sore thumb. They have been trying to develop housing in a subdivision, affordably, with possible apartment spaces that could be subleased if they had a 4-6 month job obligation. Many who are migrant workers go some months without work, so that must come into consideration and yet it must also flow with the area and be welcoming to both the Mexican style and possible other cultures who would take the places once the jobs were over. Very interesting.

Other project ideas she had included analyzing the effects zoning has on the growing issue of affordability and encouraging people to move to new locations. She was also interested in analyzing the environmental footprint of particular buildings and dealing with the sustainability issue, though she admitted she may not be the person to talk to on this issue.

However, after chatting with her about her very interesting projects she had going on, she questioned my interest in architecture asking literally, "Are you sure you want to be an architect?" I was a bit shaken... what if I don't? She suggested to me a housing studies major, which I had never heard of. It seems very interesting and I was quite confused when I left her office. I thought I was so sure about architecture. I talked it out with an ex-architecture student friend of mine and decided that architecture really is what I want to do. However, I find that my current, and recently declared, art minor is not at all what I am most interested in. Yes, I LOVE art, and yes I love to make art, but I can continue that anywhere really. I want a really really good education, to say the least. So I am now planning on switching my art minor to either a housing studies minor or an urban studies minor, along with my current spanish minor. Confused? Me too....

Allison Prange = Architecture major (BA) + Urban Studies Minor + Spanish Minor

I think, though I am going to let this settle for a while before jumping into it. I am interested in the cultural and environmental aspect of architecture and I think this would be an awesome way to accommodate my interests. So there you have it... I almost had a panic attack today though. Still not sure about UROP... we'll see. Maybe next semester? I think working with Ozayr would be awesome... but again, we'll see.