May 1, 2008

MDG Reflections

Today during lecture was a well done presentation on ensuring environmental sustainability. The presentation was pertaining to low income housing in the minneapolis area. One reason why this presentation caught my attention was because of its relevance to where I live and attend school. It analyzed the familar Riverside towers just beyond the west bank of campus. I had no idea that these housing towers were at one point for the wealthy people living in the area. Today the building looks very rundown and in need of improvement. The ideas that this group presented also seemed very legitmate and possible. The cost of improvement might cost a bit but it would pay for itself in the long run. I also liked the ideas incorporated by "going green" in other buildings across the country. The idea of reuing grey water supplies seems very possible and efficient. Overall this was the best presentation I have seen so far.

I also liked the presentation that a group in my discussion had presented last week. It involved the same goal of ensuring environmental sustainability. They introduced an unfamiliar idea to me relating oil and a neighboring country of Canada. The explained the idea of British Petroleum Corporation drilling into Canada in a unique way to extract useable fuels from the uninhabitated territiories of Canada. Although BP explains that their efforts are in response to the worlds attempt to "go green," the group clearly illustrated the idea that they are doing more harm than good for the environment. The way the oil is extracted uses more fuel in the process of doing so than what is obtained in the end. This makes no sense and in no way is apart of going green.

Both of these presentations were very well thought out and presented in a clear manner. Both presentations brought to my attention the reality of how much pollution is entering the atmosphere. These presentations also illustrated valid ways of helping to make the earth green once again as it was just a few hundred years ago before factories and automobiles were created.

April 24, 2008

Volunteering

I choose to volunteer at Patrick Henry High School in north minneapolis based on a couple of reasons. My brother had been on a high school exchange with the school and I this is why I choose this school out of many other possibilities. I am the only student from this class that is volunteering at this place. I also choose to volunteer here because I knew the cultural diversity of the school would be much different from the high school I attented. I had hopes of working with some students that live a bit differently than I do. The first day I went there I was quite excited to meet the people I would be working with. Getting there was no problem and I met with the man in charge of the career center at the school. His name is Yusuf and he is a very funny guy that loves to provide fun in the classroom. The first time I went I learned the ropes and what I would be doing. The room is a computer lab where students come to explore their options beyond high school. The first visit went well and I met some nice people. The next visit was the next week and he had a class in the room completing an interest survey(which was quite interesting). I helped him answer any questions the students had on calculating costs of school and possibilites for college. It was a great experience and I helped several students answer simple questions. The next visit was a bit different. I helped Yusuf look at applications and such that students are pending on sending to colleges. I also took a survey my self on qualities that I value in a job. Looking through the applications and letters was very interesting. Some of the students have applied to prestigious schools. The next couple visits consisted of previous activites along with helping prospective U of M students determine things about the college and give them any feedback I had on the college.
With connection to the class I discovered some important aspects of working with people of a somewhat different culture than my own. I think this is important when it comes to helping a client in an area in which the architect is unfamiliar with. It is important to learn the values that the people of the community have before proposing any sort of design. It is also important to become connected with the people personally to learn some things that they need in order to live happily. I found that the students at this high school face a situation where poverty is sometimes an issue. Many of the students applying to colleges received many grants and means of financial aid in order to fulfill their future dreams.
Overall it was a great experience. The school's diversity made it much different from my own high school and I loved working with the students there. Just driving there brought me the feeling of leaving a quite wealthy college community and entering a lower class of individuals. The students that I worked with were all nice and kind to their elders. Some of them are not as fortunate as I have been but they all seem to have high hopes in their future which was great to see. This volunteer experience was a great way to learn about another culture and their values. I believe this is a key element in designing anything for a client.

April 3, 2008

MGD Cover Page Possibilities

United Nations Millennium Development Goals

Eradicate Extreme Hunger and Poverty

Region- Burundi

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March 13, 2008

Presenting in Style

As always with a presentation certain things will be included. Of course it will have a thesis or goal and data to back up the goal. With this kind of presentation I will incorporate as many diagrams, charts, graphs, etc. to help illustrate the message without rambling about the subject. My groups goal is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger and we have choose to do this in a region somewhere in eastern Africa. Of course in the presentation there will be a map included probably along with some startling facts about poverty in these nationis. I discovered some do's and don't's that may be helpful in presenting.

1. Hold up your end with compelling material.
2. Keep it simple and clear.
3. Make the presentation understandable to the audience it is directed towards.
4. Supply facts and data to support any claims.
5. Have a clear conclusion that demonstrates a summary of main points.

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March 7, 2008

Buildings Among Us

The environment in which a person is raised and shaped has an enormous impact on who that person is today. There are obvious reasons for this. A person raised in a village in the middle of the Amazon rainforest is going to have a very different perspective on life than a person who was raised in the middle of downtown New York City. I think the way I have been raised contains a fairly balanced portion of surviving in the wild along with surviving in the city. I grew up hunting and fishing and exploring the countryside but now I have begun to explore the internal parts of the city.

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The amazing structure found within the adaptations of the Amazon culture.

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The beautiful skyline of a well adapted culture fueled by economics and business firms.

The time period in which a person is raised also has a large influence on who they have become. I think being raised in the present of today creates a person that is very technologically savvy and has little appreciation for the natural environment still found on the planet. A person raised one hundred years ago would have a much larger appreciation for the element of nature in their lives.


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This picture illustrates the type of house people lived in one hundred or more years ago. This can be compared with the image above of the city and how modern this worl has become.

February 29, 2008

Building a Dream

Without the constraints of assignment and cost, I would design something that has always been a dream of mine. I enjoy the outdoors and have a great passion for natural surroundings. One place I love to travel every summer is into the wilderness of northern minnesota. We do not bring electronics, motors, or anything modern for that matter. We bring along basic camping supplies and forget the busy lives we all live day to day. When in the wilderness people forget about their problems and make a connection with what is surrounding them. My dream design would be to build a house featuring nothing but supplies from the wilderness. Build it with trees rocks and the local materials. It would be an establishment that would connect with nature on an enormous level. It would not be something large, just the essentials. A place to sleep, read, and cook meals.

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Living within the serenity of nature and designing something to fit right in would be the ultimate dream. I look forward to traveling there every summer to escape a stressful life. Fishing whenever one wants and exploring untraveled land is something that helps one appreciate nature.


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This design is built well within the realms of nature and is something that I would consider designing something similar.

February 21, 2008

Feeding the Universe


And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. [Matthew 7:25] Poverty in the world today is an issue that some people face with no say in what they are born into. It is sad and unfortunate to be born into a poverty stricken life. People need a second chance and a way to restart their lives. All they may need is a shelter and a meal for a short period of time to get back on their feet. The problem is much easier fixed in countries with large power and income. Smaller countries evidently face a much tougher challenge. With little money to spare and violence constantly uprooting the people of these communities, it is almost impossible to live a happy and cherished life. This next quote is something that I believe the answer to is yes but only with the help of individuals who live a happy and meaningful life. Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? [Jeremiah 8:23] Yes, I do believe an Ethiopian can be given an opportunity to survive and live a better life.

This picture truly puts a disturbing image of what other people throughout the world face day to day. It is something that strikes sorrow in every human's heart and provides us with an instinct of wanting to take action.

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This problem may never be completely eradicated but a dent can be made. Striving for a purpose as meaningful as this makes it imperative that people consider helping. There are a few songs that I consider when picturing a scene of poverty in my head. The song "Seasons of Love" by Rent is a piece of music that really paints an image of the value of people coming together to help others live a fulfilling life. Another song that many might unexpect is "One Day at a Time" by Tupac Shakur. This song has a message that describes the violence and poverty that many face day to day.


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February 15, 2008

Living Under the Stars

Homeless in the Twin Cities

Living with a roof over my head has struck me as being a privilege that has just always been there. I do not have any real interpretation of what being homeless might actually persist of. I could imagine it contains a lot of stress along with loneliness and a large amount of hope. Being homeless would not only be a way of suffering but living in the twin cities without a home would amplify the effect dramatically. The winter in the Twin Cities does not go easy on those without a shelter. I have never experienced this feeling other than a church activity I was apart of back in high school. With my church we first were not allowed to eat on the whole trip. We then went to a homeless shelter in Minneapolis and served food to the homeless. The last part of the adventure was to spend the night in a cardboard box in the church parking lot. I learned a lot on this weekend adventure. Although I only touched what a real homeless person might feel, I still wished I had a meal and a nice bed to sleep in. I always took these things for granted until this experience.

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Homelessness is something that is a serious issue in this nation. Since I have been born I have heard news about progress being made on helping the homeless. A lady named Mary Jo Copeland, whom I have had the honor to meet, helped fund and build several homeless shelters throughout the twin cities. I volunteered to help serve dinner at one of her shelters. It was a good experience because I learned a lot about the personalities of the homeless people. The typical stereotype of a homeless person is someone who spends all their money on booze. Well this may be the case for a very small percentage but the majority has more logical reasons for not having a home.

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The facts on homelessness are quite startling. On any given night in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area there are around 8500 people sleeping without a shelter. Thirty years ago a person could make enough money in a week to afford a monthly rent at some sort of housing. Today it requires a wage of almost thirteen dollars an hour to afford a 600 dollar monthly appartment lease. The gap between minimum wage and the amount needed to afford a place to live is continuing to grow causing a larger homeless population. The only way we can fix this problem is to continue to volunteer and help with the communities in which we live.


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February 6, 2008

The Surge of Art in our Environment

Well this is my third attempt at trying to add a video to my blog and it still has not seemed to cooporate. Each attempt I somehow lost all of my progress. I guess I will find something of equal importance to imply. Anyway, I think it is important to identify the things around us with things of meaning and importance. In Andy Goldsworthy's film, Rivers and Tides, a depiction of nature and what it is equipped with is portrayed by Mr. Goldsworthy. He adapts the natural resources around him to form abstract concepts that make things efficient and interesting. If Andy's film was made in a civilized modern setting, I think it would have little impact on the idea of the film. Although he is surrounded by the serene nature in his movie being surrounded by buildings, technology, and people may have more inspiration in his work. I think he could have found similar ideas throughout a city as he did in the wilderness. An example of this is the following image. It contains a nail-biting traffic jam that depicts a serious effect of flow. The heavy congestion in this environment could also be displayed in the wilderness by using some creativity.
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