April 29, 2008

blog 9 - Presentations (Day 2)

The group I chose to respond to discussed and presented sustainable technologies that will hopefully make less of an impact on the earth. These included technologies related to air pollution, water sanitation, energy, and forestry and wood.

Air Pollution
-I was surprised to find out that many technologies only take out some harmful vapors from the air (for example, the stopper on a gas pump). While this does make a big difference, it is important that we find ways to minimize pollution even more.

Water Sanitation
-The things that this group talked about related a lot to our entire project. I think this is possibly the most important piece of trying to become a more sustainable society. Millions of people live without sanitary water. One of the members of my group researched a new technology that uses UV rays to clean water, which would be a cheap way of getting usable water in areas where advanced technologies are not available.
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Energy
-The question this group brought up, which I think is a very valid one, is whether or not biofuel is generally a positive or negative thing for our society. I recently read an article on this and found out that using plants such as corn for fuel actually does not reduce carbon emissions all that much. The energy and carbon that is used to convert the corn to fuel is almost as much as the amount that is emitted from a car that uses normal fuel. What is becoming more popular is thee use of sugarcane for fuel. Sugarcane grows faster and isn't used as much for solid food as corn is. And, since it is already in the form of sugar, not nearly as much energy is emitted when converting it to fuel. Brazil is a leading producer of this.
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Forestry and Wood
-When it comes to forestry, our society depends on it to provide paper. The most important thing we can do as humans is to recycle paper. With rain-forests and woodlands starting to decline, it is more vital than ever that we recycle in order to minimize our impact on the earth. This group talked about how our thoughts need to change and improve more so than our technologies, which I think is a really interesting thing to think about. If we don't have the mentality that we need to work together to save our earth, then no technology is going to really make a difference.

April 22, 2008

Blog 8 - Presentations (Day 1)

The presentation that I am choosing to focus on is the second group's on global development (Goal 8). Although their project was very broad, I did find some parts of it to be exciting and innovative. What I found to be particularly interesting about this project was their use of a wide range of topics within this one goal or idea.

One of the things they focused on was organizations (or books) that sought to provide buildings for the less fortunate and humanitarian design. I was interested in finding out more about this book "Design Like You Give a Damn." I looked up more information on this book, and found that it was more than designing buildings, rather designing pretty much anything that would make life more enjoyable or livable. One of these examples is the blow-up heated shelter that this group talked about in class. Another, that I found on Inhabitat.com is a "Play pump" which has been designed to entertain children as well as use that energy to pump water.

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There are so many ways design is used in global development and it is important that books like this are published so people can see exactly what is going on to better the world through design.

Another aspect of globalization and design that I didn't even think about until yesterday is that of pharmaceutical drugs. Although I don't know alot about this, I think it is important to look into specific topics like this. We don't often realize how certain things such as drug availability affect the lives of people living in third world countries. I have realized that I have no idea where half of the things I put into my body come from. We need to start looking at this and waste less energy on shipping goods from other countries and buying locally made goods/drugs/food, etc.

Lastly, I thought it was interesting to find out specific facts about recycling. I was confused when this group explained that the garbage/recycling bins around campus are actually not separated - they are just all dumped into one garbage. I found this hard to believe and would actually be pretty mad if this was true. So I decided to look at the Minnesota Recycling Programs Website. They have specific photos and descriptions of how the bottles and cans are sorted, so I find it hard to believe that they would have all these plans in place and not follow through with them. This takes place at the Como Recycling Facility located between the Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses. Here are some photos of this process as well as some text explaining how it is done (all from http://www1.umn.edu/recycle/operations.html):

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Can Sorting

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Paper line

ROUTES:
Storage areas are serviced by recycling personnel as part of two recycling routes. The large route services between 30 and 35 locations daily, while the small route services 12-15 locations per day. Almost all buildings on campus are picked up at least one day a week, although many have multiple pickups weekly or daily. All materials are brought to the Como Recycling Facility, located between the two campuses.

SEPARATING CANS AND BOTTLES:
Comingled cans and bottles are sorted on separate equipment. Bags of cans and bottles are emptied into a hopper which loads the materials onto a conveyor. One person sorts glass and plastic bottles from the conveyor. Glass bottles are placed into self-dumping hoppers by color which are eventually emptied into roll-off boxes for shipping. Plastic bottles are sorted, sent up the vertical conveyor, and baled in a horizontal baler.

April 3, 2008

Blog 7 - Title Page Ideas

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March 27, 2008

Service Learning 2

The past few weeks at Homework n' Hoops, I have actually felt like I have been helping my student, Stephany learn. She seems to be a bit behind the kids in her class and I have been trying to teach her ways to remember or understand multiplication. We have also been working on finding areas and perimeters of shapes. I never really realized how hard it is to explain to someone in second grade how to do something. It is hard to remember that far back, and sometimes I feel like she should just understand some things. I have trouble really explaining things but I think I am getting better at it.

In the beginning, I felt kind of unneeded because I would just give her a spelling test or something small and then we would read a book or draw. However, I have realized that even if I wasn't really teaching her anything important, it is more my time that is valuable. Maury, the director of the Homework 'n Hoops program really stresses this. That is why he wanted us (the tutors) to come every week because it is important for the child to form a relationship with you. I have realized that my time and energy that I put forward is much more important than being the one to really teach my student alot of information.

March 17, 2008

Blog 6 - Presentation Inspiration

I think that photographs and images are the most important part of a good presentation. While the information is extremely important, it is necessary that the viewer can really understand what the presenter is trying to show/say. Images play an important role in this.

I also think that putting your own touch on photographs makes them more personal. This means editing, painting, etc. I think it would be exciting and interesting to incorporate our take on the topic. It would be a challenge to intermix artwork with precise images, but I think that if we could, it would have a wonderful effect.
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This image shows the cover of the most recent PRINT magazine, and combines realistic images with an artistic affect.

Another thing I think is important and looks good as well is enlarging important quotes and putting them on the same page as an image, such as this Graphis book cover:
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When it comes to the actual layout of the presentation, our group decided that we wanted to put it together in portfolio form. I like the idea of having a two page spread for each topic we discuss. I like the idea of having one large image (along with possibly a few smaller images) on the left side with the text and some sort of arrangement of images on the right side. This makes it possible to really emphasize an important image.

I found an example of a title page that I liked as well. An artist named Keith Zulawnik has a website with all of his work. His title page includes smaller images that give the viewer a preview of what is to come.

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There are some layout ideas that I know I don't like as well. For example, I don't think that it ever looks good to slant photographs. It looks unprofessional and is hard for the viewer to follow. Straight, parallel lines are much better at leading the viewers eye in the direction the designer wants. Here is an example of this type of layout:

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Overall, I have found some very intriguing layouts. I like when lines on the pages connect the photographs and images so the viewer's eyes know where to travel on the pages. I like when there are certain layouts that can be transformed a bit from page to page, but still have the same general layout

March 6, 2008

Blog 5 - Oppositions that shape my world

How does the built environment affect who I am? When considering this question, I really had to sit down and think. What is it about the built environment that intrigues me? And how, realistically and without knowing, do I interact with the built environment everyday? Many times I experience architecture without even realizing it, and I think that recently I have become more aware of the built environment around me. To begin, I look to the opposition of GRAVITY AND MOVEMENT. My realization of this opposition came with the collapse of the 35W bridge.

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With the collapse of this bridge, our whole nation began to question the quality of the infastructure we use everyday. Although there have been other events involving buildings collapsing and bridges failing, this event really brought on a realization that things we use and inhabit everyday could possibly be faulty. While it was a disastrous event, it gave way to people not only questioning the stability of bridges and other buildings, but also made officials realize that we need to be more critical in evaluating the built world in order to prevent events such as this. Architecture, in a sense is really about helping people move through space and defy gravity, whether it be moving over a river or living on the top floor of a skyscraper. Structure and durability are the most important piece in this aspect. This is how I understand and am influenced by the opposition of gravity and movement.

One of the most important oppositions to understand in my world is that of CLIMATE AND ENCLOSURE. With the explosion of Sustainable and LEED approved building, it is easy to get lost in the real purpose of these buildings - Our environment. I am currently interested in learning more about our environment - aside of architecture. I want to know about weather systems and how the atmosphere and solar system work. I think this affects who I am because understanding our world is much more than understanding the built environment or even the landscape and climate upon which it rests. As much as I love to read about this, I usually find myself flipping through magazines like National Geographic and the Smithsonian just to see the phenomena of nature. Looking at our environment to better our architecture is an important aspect of our education and future in design.
When it comes to sustainable design, one of my favorite websites to search is INHABITAT.COM - where information on ideas about sustainable design are gathered. Some of them are pretty crazy, yet impressive, like this Hydro-Net Vision for the San Francisco area. In this Hydro-Net we see algae-harvesting towers, geothermal energy ‘mushrooms’, and fog catchers which distill fresh water from San Francisco’s infamous fog. Architecture, before looking good, first and foremost must hold a significant purpose or function

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Another opposition that shapes my values when it comes to architecture is that of ENTROPY AND PERMANENCE. This idea is one of the hardest to completely get my mind around. The idea of eternity is something that I am sure everyone struggles to comprehend. Although I have a faith in a God and a Heaven, the idea of people and things going on forever really blows my mind. There are certain buildings that exemplify timelessness to me, such as the Great Pyramids or some of Boullee's work, like Newton's Sphere, as we talked about in class. One way to look at it is to think about preserving pieces of history so they live on, possibly forever. I value this in buildings and in education in general. I think having a good knowledge of where things came from and what was important in the past is necessary to move forward.
A seed vault building that was just recently opened in Svalbard, Norway does just that. This building holds duplicates of seeds from all over the globe and from almost all types of food crops. In the event of a global catastrophe, we will have back up of the basic unit that we need to sustain life....pretty cool! It is placed in a frigid place to better preserve the seeds.
This video reports on the opening and main concepts behiind the building.

Obviously, my life would not be at all the same without the influence of the built world around me. I would not be able to live in Minnesota, for one. It is amazing to really sit down and think how big of an influence architects and engineers have on our lives.

Blog 4 - Looking Ahead

If I got to study, research, or work outside of the "constraints" of the architecture school ( assuming I had the time and money), I would do alot of things...

1. EXPLORE BIOMIMICRY
When doing research for a project last semester, I came upon this video which led me to look more into the idea of biomimicry. I was excited to learn that we will be learning more about it later in the semester in 1701. I really like biology and the environment and think it is really interesting to be able to look to nature for inspiration in design. Biomimicry is the discovery and transfer of ideas from the natural world to design for a more sustainable planet. Many plants and animals meet their needs every day while protecting the environment they live in for future generations. Biomimicry tries to follow nature's lead.

In this video, Janine Benyus, one of the first developers of biomimicry explains twelve different ways that researchers have already been inspired by nature in the creation of new technologies and designs. Here are some of the ideas:

-Whale fins have tubercles that increase efficiency while swimming through the water. The idea would be to add similar objects to the edge of airplane wings to increase efficiency and reduce fuel consumption.
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-Lotus plants have a certain texture on them that allows them to be self-cleaning with only rain water. Exterior building surfaces can be modeled after the lotus leaf so that they will be self-cleaning as well.
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-Certain Shellfish have a protein that they exude to stop their shell from continuously crystalizing and growing. This protein has been modeled after in order to stop the build-up of minerals in pipes.
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I would love to study or do research with someone that has a background in biology or plant life, and really sit down and go through some of our natural world and see how we can model our designs after them. I would like to come up with some solutions of my own.
We can look to animals, as well as inanimate objects of our earth. The possibilities seem endless and can relate to technology, art, architecture, etc. I think this is the way our world needs to go to live peacefully with the environment.
There needs to be a time in your life that you can just take in the environment and learn to live with it. A place where you could do this would be out in the wild, away from the city and away from technology. It seems easier said than done, and I think it would be a challenge to me to be disconnected from the world for a little while, which in the end would be a great opportunity to grow.

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2. DRAW/PHOTOGRAPH

I know that drawing is someting that really takes practice and if done enough, comes easier to me. My dream would be to travel to Europe and just spend time drawing.
Recently, after learning in depth about the Brooklyn Bridge, I have become fascinated with bridges and I think it would be exciting to learn from a more engineering standpoint, how bridges are designed and built. I think bridges have a certain aspect about them that is worth studying - the connection that they provide. Without the impact of this engineering masterpiece, our world would be much different. I would study these bridges through travels to different significant bridges, as well as do research, drawings, and produce photographs.

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Brooklyn Bridge, New York

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Rialto Bridge, Venice, Italy

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3. LEARN OTHER DISCIPLINES/BECOME "CULTURED"

After hearing Thomas Fisher speak, and reading some of his work, I have become more aware of how important it is to have a good understanding for other disciplines, even some that don't seem to be connected to architecture at all. I have already explained that I would like to learn more about biology, but there are many other things that would be of interest to me. I would like to learn more about other cultures - so possibly take some global studies and sociology classes or even live within a different culture.
I've always seen shows on the Discovery Channel about people going and living with tribes and adapting to their way of life. Someone who does this can learn so much about the world around them as well as evaluate and understand their original culture. Although I may not be outgoing enough or have the ability to adapt to change as well as I should, doing something like that would be pretty eye-opening...and this is all just hypothetical, right?
Here is an example of one of these experiences:
http://www.discoverychannelasia.com/kombai_tribe/index.shtml
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Two men attempt to live with the Kombai Tribe


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4. RUN

I tried to think about how I could incorporate my passion for running into something that I could do to still have an impact on the environment. I think it would be pretty cool to be a part of designing a marathon or race of some sort that raised money for a cause. There are hundreds, if not thousands of races out there that already do this, but I would like to learn the process of how the whole thing is put together.
My original major was in advertising, so I could put some of what I learned there to play in this endeavor.
Knowing that I made some sort of difference in raising money to find a cure, to save the environment, etc. would make me feel like I was having an impact on improving our world.

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Blog 3 - Inspirations

Millenium Development Goals:
- Integrate principles of sustainable development into country policies to reverse the loss of environmental resources
- Reduce biodiversity loss
- Halve, by 2015, the proportion of poeple w/o sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation
- Achieve significant improvement in the lives of 100 million slum dwellers by 2020

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SONG PLAYLIST
Songs that reflect my views on the world and my inspiration to research or participate in ensuring environmental sustainability and improving the lives of people living in slums...

Hanson - Great Divide
The first, and probably most important song to me on this playlist is by Hanson, yes Hanson. They are still around and working hard to make a difference through their music. This video is available on itunes for anyone to purchase. The money made from the purchases goes directly to HIVSA. This specific song is about the "great divide" - that of the world that millions of orphans with AIDS lives in. While my term project isn't about finding a cure for AIDS, I still think this video shows exactly the conditions that we need to fix when it comes to dealing with people living in slums. The video itself shows images of these slums as well as the beautiful children that are forced to live in them. "Ngi Ne Themba" - meaning "I have hope" is sung in the background of this song by African children. It is an inspiring video and song, and urges everyone to make a difference.

Amos Lee - Shout Out Loud

The words to to this song that I think show my beliefs about the world and our part in it are as follows:
"Cause everybodys got a part in the game, and everybodys got a cross they can claim, and everybodys got somebody to blame, but we all must find our own way."
This part of the song explains that everyone has a different path in life. And really, if we want, we can make a big impact when it comes to living a good life, helping others, and eradicating slums and poverty.


Shout out Loud Lyrics

Switchfoot - Dare You to Move

I specifically love Switchfoot because they deal with real life issues relating to the world, faith, relationships, and much more. This particular song is an encouragement for people to step up and do something. It explains the tension between "who you are and who you could be" and between "how it is and how it should be." The song then goes on to say, "Everybody's watching you now, Everybody waits for you now, What happens next?" The song doesn't say to go do any certain thing to make your life and the world better. It is sort of a challenge - What happens next? What else can we do to change the world? What else can we do to save the environment and improve the lives of people without basic sanitation and safe drinking water?


Dare You to Move Lyrics

Other songs on my playlist:
-Switchfoot - We Are One Tonight
-Switchfoot - The Shadow Proves the Sunshine
-Lifehouse - Somewhere in Between
-Simon and Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water
-John Mayer - Waiting on the World to Change
-Newsies Soundtrack - Seize the Day
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MORE MUSIC...

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LiveEarth was a worldwide concert in 2007 involving seven continents and featured more than 150 of the world's best music acts including Madonna, Black Eyed Peas, Jack Johnson, and many more.
The concert delivered a worldwide call to action and the solutions necessary to answer the call of the climate crisis. It launched a multi-year campaign to drive individuals, corporations and governments to take action to solve the climate crisis. Most songs were inspirational ones in hopes that viewers would be inspired to take action in their own community. The concert dvd and more information about the LiveEarth Campaign can be found at http://www.liveearth.org/event.php

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PHOTOS
Why we need to do something:

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Slums in Kibera, East Africa

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The effects of climate change on glaciers and arctic habitats

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Unsanitary water in Madagascar

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A humorous take on the more serious issue of the loss of wildlife habitats

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A windfarm generating sustainable and renewable energy

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An underwater turbine off the coast of New York


These photographs show the contrast of beautiful and ugly elements of our world. The world we live in today is a truly beautiful place, however, if we fail to understand how we can have less of an impact on the environment, these places will disappear. This article from the Wall Street Journal shows nine cities that are working towards a cleaner and more sustainable way of living:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120248655589254033.html?mod=ITPWSJ_20

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To end, here is a quote to ponder:
"All across the world, in every kind of environment and region known to man, increasingly dangerous weather patterns and devastating storms are abruptly putting an end to the long-running debate over whether or not climate change is real. Not only is it real, it's here, and its effects are giving rise to a frighteningly new global phenomenon: the man-made natural disaster."
- Senator Barack Obama

Blog 2 - Advocating Affordable Living Programs

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The Amherst H. Wilder Foundation deals with several social issues that I find to be very important issues in today's society. When it comes to America, we are actually much better off than most other counties, however, there are still millions of people that struggle to survive everyday. The people that are most in need are the youth, the elderly, and the poor.

The Amherst H. Wilder Foundation focuses on helping the elderly to live active and productive lives as well as helping troubled youth. One thing that they do that I find most important is providing affordable housing for families with housing needs. While this is not as pressing an issue as things like severe poverty or healthcare, I think it is important to understand that if people that aren't able to pay for housing are not provided with affordable housing, they will soon be added to the list of people living below the poverty line. Providing affordable housing is a preventative measure that we can take to keep people from living on the streets in the first place.

The Amherst Foundation originally provided people with extra money to pay for rent when they were not able to do so. However, after some inspections, they found that some of these houses were unsuitable for people to live in, which made them decide to start providing affordable housing in. Along with affordable housing, they are working to help the families build their skills in order to get higher paying jobs and be more successful in the future.

Another program outside of this foundation is called the ROOF project. Its goal is to get people off the streets and provide them with affordable housing as well as provide opportunities for employment skill building to improve their income. A specific development within this project that I found to be particularly exciting is the Jackson Street Village Development. This development was built to provide support for previously homeless or in-need families. They also provide the families with employment opportunities as well help families address chemical abuse and mental health issues. Even though this is affordable housing, the developers are still working to make it sustainable and healthy for the people that live there, which to me is a perfect way of connecting good design to a pressing social issue. Here is how they built the housing (straight from the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation webpage):

"To help reduce respiratory infections and improve the overall health of tenants, each building was constructed with materials that reduce indoor particulates and technology that increases the circulation of clean air. These features were revolutionary in affordable housing -- the first multi-family Health House in the country.
The buildings were constructed using an aggressive thermal moisture management system on the walls which contributes to an air-tight, energy efficient shell. This system not only aided in control of moisture and indoor air quality, but was enhanced by a geo-thermal heat pump system that reduces energy consumption." (http://www.wilder.org/531.0.html)

I would love to work on this type of program. I think that just finding sites for and designing the affordable and energy efficient housing would be interesting in itself. But really working with the people that live there to start a better life brings in a whole new social aspect that I think is really great.

Homelessness is a huge problem in the United States and all over the world. Instead of just providing families with money to do as they wish, we need to provide them with opportunities to grow and build their knowledge. We can't let the cost of housing be a reason that someone becomes homeless. While we must help the people that don't have homes at all, we must look to affordable living programs as homelessness prevention for at-risk families.

Service Learning - Intro + Awarding Children

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I am working as a tutor at Bethlehem Community Center's Homework 'n Hoops. I work alongside a few other U of M students as well as volunteers from around the community. Each tutor has one student that they are assigned to work with. I go every Tuesday and work with a second grade girl named Stephany. The day generally consists of hearing the announcements for the day, working on homework for about an hour and fifteen minutes, and then half an hour of free-time. During homework time, the child works on any homework they have from school. If they don't have any homework, they are provided with a variety of books as well as work packets covering subjects from reading and writing to different levels of math.

The children are then awarded for reading books and completing packets. They are also awarded for many other activities they complete. These awards turn into points to be written in their checkbook and used to buy prizes at a later date. From what I can see, this is a very productive way for getting children to complete their work. Part of me thinks that children shouldn't always have to be rewarded because in the real world, that will not happen. Many of these children though, are from families or communities that don't necessarily notice the work they are doing or effort they are putting in, so it is good that they are getting praised when coming to Homework 'n Hoops. It seems that the students really enjoy being rewarded and counting their points. This helps them with other skills as well like math, and even learning how to use a checkbook at a young age. My student, Stephany has been focusing alot on reading. We have been reading two or three books each time I work with her and after only a few weeks I see some improvement. It is amazing how quickly small children can learn. It is exciting for me to see this progress.

Blog 1 - Energy Flow and Transformation Through a City

Andy Goldsworthy focuses mainly on nature and the energy and transformation throughout nature. He seeks to understand how a river flows or how the currents of the ocean will act upon the rest of nature. When considering the flow of energy throughout a city however, we begin to see more how humans contribute to the flow and transformation of the world. Initially when I first thought about this topic, I was trying to concentrate on movement and things that move through a city, but after further thought, I realized it is much more than this. The flow of energy and transformation of a city does relate to nature, but what I chose to focus on was the way humans and technology contribute to the energy flow of a city.

In a more obvious sense of energy, I think of the way traffic flows through a city. It is pretty amazing that traffic can flow so fluidly (except during rush hour). Stoplights are the modern way of controlling the flow of traffic through a city. I think it is pretty remarkable that three colored circles can control what we do in our cars. This brings me to the use of light in a city. When approaching Minneapolis at night, I am always energized by the lit-up buildings. A skyline is really transformed by the use of light.

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This image shows both the flow of traffic at night as well as the energy emitted by the lit-up buildings. Even at night, when the world is at rest, a city is still giving off energy. We see that technology has really changed how we view the world. Skyscrapers transform the land, while bridges connected two parts of the land. Even architecture gives off energy, in a more static sense. Buildings don’t necessarily move but they provide a way for people to travel and a way for people to share their energy. The busyness of a city, is brought on by electricity, architecture, and human interactions.

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When thinking about human interactions in the city, I am reminded of a Coca-Cola commercial I once saw. As the photo on this page does not do justice to the commercial, the video is posted on YouTube through this link:

In this video, we see the impact of small gestures of one human being. We see the energy through the streets of the city begin to build as the main character continuously “gives a little love? to people he passes on the street. Although this I a very fictional view of the city, it really envelopes the impact of humans on energy through a city. It shows the more abstract idea of energy. In this case, “positive? energy is being shared. Energy is constantly coming from all directions. This video alone shows the interaction between people in a business, cars moving down the street, food cart workers selling food, fire hydrants spraying water, motorcylists performing stunts, as well as people of all different ages and professions. We see the importance of music as well as the energy that is emitted through the exchange of money. The idea of all of these things going on in one place is energizing in itself. A city is also transformed by the energy of each individual person passing through it.

I think it is important to consider the actual movement of cars, bikes, buses, etc., but it is more important to look at where this energy begins. It begins with the interaction of human beings. It begins with the flip of a light. It begins with people beginning to expand their knowledge through science and technology. The ways that a city is emitting energy is infinite and ever-changing. It is not necessarily about the movement of physical objects, rather the transfer of ideas, services, and emotions. It seems that in this sense, the energy thats passes through a city is quite different than that of the natural world as Goldsworthy describes it.

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