May 7, 2008

Volunteering Journal

At Jackson Street, much of what I did on a week to week basis was the same. Because of this and in attempt to not continuously repeat myself in my journals I went with a journal for the whole time that I participated in volunteering with emphasis on specific dates.

In the beginning of the semester I was excited to learn that we would be continuing service learning in Architecture 1701. Considering the fact that I had worked with Jackson Street Village in Architecture 1281, I decided to continue work there as I knew where I was going and what my duties would include. Problems getting a hold of Jackson Street Village in the beginning of the semester set me back in terms of my hours but I was eventually able to set up and day and time to volunteer.

Beginning on Wednesday, February 27th, my first couple times, although I had been to Jackson Street before, required some attention towards myself while still helping the children that were there to get help. In some ways it just takes time to adjust to specific types of tutoring. With Jackson Street this was even tougher in that you are working with children of many ages ranging from first to eighth grade. A volunteer at Jackson Street also has to be able to tutor the children in a wide range of subjects as well. Because of these ranges I had to remember to consciously adjust my thinking as I switched between kids so that my explanations to questions that I was asked were comprehended by the children. The other adjustment that I found myself having to make to this volunteering environment had to do with the change in children’s personalities. With the wide range of personalities offered by the children at Jackson Street I found myself working with those children that I had to watch constantly in order to make sure they were doing their work and oppositely, with those that you could give minimal direction and have them work diligently until they were done. Getting these adjustments down to a habit in order to make myself a better volunteer for this specific site took up my first few visits.

In the last weeks of March there was an interesting change in the dynamic at Jackson Street Village. Last semester and even in the first few weeks of this semesters volunteering, Zakiya Tanner, a promise fellow working at Jackson Street who has done an amazing job with the children, and the other volunteers including myself had problems getting the children to keep focused on their homework and keeping this homework designated time from turning into a social time. The change came in the implementation of the rule that if a child refused to work on their work they were sent home and were not able to return to the community center the next day.

This rule caused the tutors to be working with children that were much more dedicated to their work and needed much less help. This was a complicated thing to see because on one hand you had the children that were there working diligently and easily but, on the other hand the kids that were not there were not getting help that they needed. This new rule seemed to have both advantages and disadvantages to it but the biggest change seemed to come in the duties that volunteers were then asked to do. The children that were now there regularly were done with their homework faster and needed less help meaning that for most of the time that the volunteers were at Jackson Street we were reading to the children, being read to, or playing games with them. This rule seemed to change the whole atmosphere of Jackson Street and although it did have some negative effects it seemed to help more.
Overall the tutoring experience was one that created a chance to learn in association with this class and architecture as well as the acquisition of general knowledge that affects me personally. Jackson Street provided me with the perfect place to volunteer, catering to my previous work with children and allowing me to work with a wide variety of individuals instead of just one or two. All of these components made my time spent at Jackson Street an enjoyable one and made it a place that I would recommend to anyone looking to volunteer in a community.

April 28, 2008

Blog #8 & #9- Constructive Criticism for 2 Presentations

Presentation 1

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The first presentation that I saw on Monday the 21st was on Environmental Sustainability, the same topic that my group is doing our project on. Although our two projects were on the same general topic, it was very interesting to see the differences between the two projects. Unlike my groups presentation, this group went into more depth on what makes something green. This provided some similarities in the materials that were used for building but other than that the two were completely different. I found it interesting that a topic that originally, without any research, seemed very limited and one tracked, could evolve into a topic that could create many very different projects.
This presentation had many good facts and statistics throughout it and especially in regards to the materials that could be used for sustainable building. The one that struck me as the most interesting and also extreme, even though it was more general, is that 48% of all energy consumption in the U.S. is caused by architecture. This fact really hits home the need to focus on a movement towards green design and the use of sustainable materials in order to lower this number.
I think that for the most part this presentation went very well although the Power Point seemed to detract from it a little. The Power Point, although full of good information, had too much on one page. The amount of information on each page made it difficult to read and comprehend all at one time pushing you to focus just on what the person is saying. In my opinion a good Power Point should have small amounts of information on each slide used to further what the presenter is saying, with more of an emphasis on the image or images that are on the slide.

Presentation 2

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The first presentation done today, Monday the 28th, dealt with Millennium Goal One that works on resolving poverty and hunger. Being a resident of Minneapolis my whole life it was interesting to learn more specifics about the amount of and reasons for the poverty and hunger in this city. This group seemed to do an especially good job with the questions that they started out by asking themselves in order to guide their research. Two of these that were especially good were looking at understanding who the homeless in this city are and recognizing that homelessness is an ongoing problem and although shelters and other relief efforts help in the short term, there needs to be a push towards getting rid of what causes homelessness originally.
Being from Minneapolis and having spent a good amount of time in some of the places that are considered to have some of the largest populations of populations of people who are homeless or living in poverty, it was interesting to see and hear other peoples thoughts on low-income housing complexes like the Cedar-Riverside complex and how it has been seen as an extreme failure, falling, for the most part, into a complex full of drug-use, gang activity, and other unwanted activities.
Finally, it was interesting to be able to see this groups actual finished portfolio booklet and how it was designed. It was very helpful to see an example of not just a portfolio, but a portfolio from people that are in the same class and have for the most part the same skill level as myself. In general I really liked the booklet made by this group and was especially interested in the idea for an affordable housing project designed by this group that worked with both poverty and with environmental sustainability. This groups also had some very interesting pictures throughout their booklet that were well placed and fit with what was being talked about on that page. These reasons along with the simple design techniques applied in this portfolio made it very interesting.

P.S. It was really a bummer about the malfunctioning projector hook up...psshh Technology! haha

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Blog #7- Portfolio Cover Pages...Late! Oops

Here is my beginning attempt at creating a cover page to fit my goal of environmental sustainability.

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March 13, 2008

Blog Entry #6-Design Specific

In looking at the definition of our project and then trying to decide on a way to present it, my group began to look at the idea of a portfolio. A portfolio provides a clear presentation with an emphasis on pictures along with concise information that is clear and to the point. This is an attempt, through images, to look at how to design this portfolio with ideas from both conventional and non-conventional things.

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March 7, 2008

Blog Prompt #5- Myself Through Architecture

Most people have received many different versions of this question throughout their schooling, job searching, and other areas of life. The answer to the question, what makes you who you are, is varied from person to person but in many cases there are some consistencies throughout the answers. Most people describe factors related to their families or there childhood, their earlier schooling or their best friends.

In my life i would consider these factors, like everyone else to play a very important role, but what else is there? Is your life not being shaped or effected constantly? Who I am or what I think seems to change from year to year. Most people seem to refer only to their beginnings as creating who they are, but is that really fair? I argue that you are constantly being effected by the things and people around you and that you never stop changing.

Because of this, many people have a hard time trying to pinpoint a few let alone one factor that has influenced their lives in the previous five years. For me this is not difficult. The built environment as it relates to architecture has been a driving force in shaping the last five if not seven or eight years of my life. I have had something to do with art ever since someone put a pencil in my hand. I started with cartooning, moved towards real life drawing and painting, and from there expanded into everything from photography to ceramics to drafting. There are very few forms of art that I am not interested in trying or learning about. As my art oriented mind began to mature I began to notice the things around me, form nature to high rise buildings I began to wonder why they were there? What caused them to be there? What was the reason behind how they were created? These and many other questions led me into pursuing every aspect of architecture that I could get my hands on.

The built environment has not only shaped my past but continues to shape my future as my wanting for knowledge grows as I continue to learn more. In a way it seems to almost be an attempt to define who I am through the type, area of, and ideas I hold on architecture. Although there is no way for me to completely define this with such little knowledge of both architecture and myself, here is where I am right now using some of the main topics covered so far in 1701...

Physical Phenomenon

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This is to represent the way I am able to learn the best and why I love art and architecture. Although it is not something easily defined it is something you can grasp and mold to reflect your ideas and thoughts.


Framework

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Architecture and the built environment can be used as a framework for small amounts of people to affect large groups of people in need of help.

Clockwork

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The built environment can be defined as the inner workings of a society. The thing that allows the city and those in it to exist and create.

Opposition

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Architecture as a way to push limits of where and how people can live and exist. Ways of change through ideas that make the impossible possible.


Although this is only a beginning who I am through architecture it is a start, something to build off of, it is much like my architectural schooling to this point and the 1701 class...


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February 28, 2008

Blog Prompt #4-The Abscence of School

For many people the only fun part of college falls between Thursday night and Sunday morning. Classes are just things that pass the time and cause people problems. For another group of people college is something that is out of reach because of financial reasons, GPAs, test scores, or a myriad of other reasons. But what if it didn't exist? What if there was no program? What if it was just you, what would you do?

There are many things that are possible with the time many people set aside for college. If you still really wanted to do the things that you would in school, how would you get it done? Would you still get the same education and chances that you would through formal schooling?

I would argue that you could get something better and more valuable this way, but it is completely up to you. If you are willing, you would be able to in some ways change the profession of architecture. With no formal education you could broaden your horizons to cover more fields and then bring that knowledge back into your workings as an architect. Although working with an architect would be crucial to learning what you would be doing in general work as an architect, you could also work with and learn from engineers, artists, musicians, athletes and any other type of profession you could think of.

Adding this knowledge to architecture could allow that architect to be inside their employer's heads. It could allow them, in a perfect world, to completely fulfill the employer's needs. This knowledge could also completely change the architects personal work into something that now architects have trouble even imagining. I believe it would have such an effect that it could quite possibly change the face of our world.

This idea, although a seemingly far cry from our world today, could exist anywhere. It does not take some far off place with a culture full of people completely different then ourselves. This idea could exist anywhere with any group of people at any school. The interesting thing is, is that this idea could even exist with the school set up that we have now. Although it could never exist to the extent that is proposed earlier in this blog the architect is still able to better him or herself and their profession by incorporating the ideas of others.

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February 21, 2008

Blog Prompt #3- Environmental Sustainability: A Mixed Medium Idea

Environmental sustainability can be looked at and dealt with in many different ways. Where this idea effects me the most is in the idea of bringing the environment back into major cities and into the buildings themselves. This by definition is somewhat of a contradiction but in other ways seems to be one of the few ways to make a city complete...

In an attempt to show some of my ideas on environmental sustainability within cities and in general through mixed media here is what I have come up with. This is only a start in that I feel that this task like so many others has no definitive end.

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"For the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver." -Martin Luther, German priest and scholar

"The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity...and some scarce see nature at all. But to eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself." -William Blake, English visionary, mystic, poet, painter, & engraver

"Nature is the true revelation of the deity to man. The nearest green field is the inspired page from which you may read all that is needful for you to know." -Arthur Conan Doyle, Sr., Scottish writer

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Download file Play all the way through to the hidden song in the last four minutes of the song.

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Pictures from:
architecturelab.wordpress.com/2007/08/
www.treehugger.com

February 14, 2008

Blog Prompt #2- Social-Design

Although there are many social issues that deal with design or design deals with, there is one that seems to be dealt with the most by design and in fact has a basis that lies in whether it can be considered design. Graffiti has been a controversial issue throughout the world for many years but has risen into the foreground in Minneapolis in the last five years.

The main issue comes in how graffiti is defined. Many people see the gang tags and writing on residential garages and sides of houses and place this in the same category as those individuals who have worked to create a piece of work that represents them.

In the city of Minneapolis where you can not go more than half a mile without seeing some kind of art, there are two very distinct sides to this argument.

Those who are against any type of graffiti site the fact that in many cases it is done on surfaces that are not owned by the artist and that gangs use it to claim territory. The problem with this argument is that there is a difference between these two types of graffiti. Gang graffiti is for the most part just writing that claims some type of set or clique. Graffiti art is planned and thought out. Many times it is done on paper first, with thought out designs and colors, orientation and size. Though the fact that much of the graffiti art done is done illegally cannot be refuted. But, this fact does not take away from the fact that it is art. Graffiti that is considered art by those who create it fits into every definition that we as people have in the English dictionary. Merriam-Webster defines art as "the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects". Graffiti art takes just as much, if not more, imagination and skill than much of the art that people spend hours looking at in museums, but why then does most of the population not spend hours standing outside looking at art that is on our city's walls, legal or illegal? Because the negative connotation that has been placed on to graffiti art by those who only see the writing of gangs.

People need to look beyond their previous knowledge and stereotypes and actually look at what is around in the streets of our country and in the city of Minneapolis because they might see something that they were not expecting.

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February 6, 2008

Blog Prompt #1-Energy, Flow, & Transformation

Energy, Flow, and Transformation are three of the main elements that make a city thrive. Every city throughout the world has experienced transformation from its creation until the present day. Cities have moved from their beginnings with small amounts of people and little development into modern places packed with people and high rises.
In a city energy is all around us. The people that walk the streets, the utilities that power our buildings, and the animals and plants that share our modern cities with us all create different types of energies that have slowly jelled into what we now consider a thriving city.
The flow of a city, in many ways, depends on these two aforementioned elements, but is crucial to the ability for a city to survive. Many cities have been able to keep older forms of transportation like cars and buses, but those cities that have transformed into packed metropolises have had to transform their transportation into means that are able to carry more passengers and move them greater distances quicker. Light rail and trains have become key in growing cities and have kept cities from entering a type of gridlock.
Everyone of these elements are ones that both keeps cities moving and thriving but also provide ongoing questions that need new answers constantly. How will we deal with increasing population? Where will we put more transportation lines? How will we get people to settle in our city? All of these questions created by the three main elements listed above, while causing problems in cities, keep them on their toes and keep them moving forward. Without these three things, cities would die.

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January 30, 2008

A Little About Me...

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