March 2008 Archives

Rapson died quietly in his home in Minneapolis. He was working in his office the previous day.

Chapter 357: Birthday Mega Mix

Jessie baked Kendall a cake for her birthday celebration over the weekend + crawfish. Good times.

Well, it's that time of year again. 22 Mom + Dad's Anniversary, 23 Kendall, 24 Me, 25 Olivia. So happy birthday to everyone and thanks for the birthday wishes. They made my day really great.

In honor of our collective aging. Here is a great link thanks to the Public Design Center. It's a pretty amazing book and I recommend it to everyone: Things I Have Learned In My Life So Far by Steven Sagmeister.

Chapter 355: Recharge

Sam dons his recently filched WaHo beanie

After a couple of awesome weeks mapping Hancock County, I'm heading to New Orleans tonight with the group from Minnesota that is in town and whooping it up while visiting some other friends there and then heading back in the morning to chill out and recharge the ol' batteries. Thanks to everyone who made these last two weeks happen. It was a lot of fun to rock that hard again.

Chapter 354: My BSL Mapping Posse

map peeps.jpg

I have to give a quick shout out to my BSL Mapping Posse. I know there are a lot of holes on the website right now, but all the updates and an overhaul are going to start up now that the two weeks of Alternative Spring Break is over.

Total Miles Walked (36 Posse Members): Over 650
Total Towns Mapped: Bay St. Louis (plus Ward 5 in the Annex), (polished off) Waveland, Clermont Harbor
Total Crawfish Consumed: 15 lbs.

Cold Drink. Bad Touch. Big ups Posse.

Chapter 353: Singing Science Songs


Okay, so I forgot to post this after Kristen from the Studio brought it to our attention and I bugged her for the link weeks ago but as I was decompressing this afternoon, I had a chance to go through and sort out my desktop and links and found this. Listen with love, especially to my favorite album Weather Songs and Energy Songs which is a close second.


From the website:

"When I was a kid my parents got this six-LP set of science-themed folk songs for my sister and me. They were produced in the late 1950s / early 1960s by Hy Zaret and Lou Singer. Zaret's main claim to fame is writing the lyrics to the classic "Unchained >Melody" for the 1955 movie "Unchained", later recorded by the Righteous Brothers and more recently used in "Ghost". Three of the albums (the best three in my opinion) were performed by Tom Glazer, semi-famous 1940s folk musician and somewhat of a lyricist himself (he wrote "On Top of Spaghetti").

The Singing Science lyrics were very Atomic Age, while the tunes were generally riffs on popular or genre music of the time. We played them incessantly.

In February 1998 I found the LPs in my parents' basement. I cleaned them up, played them one last time on an old turntable, and burned them onto a set of three CD-R discs. In December 1999 I read the songs back off the CDs and encoded them into MP3, so now you can hear them on the web. They are available at either 32 Kbps (about half a megabyte each) or 160 Kbps (about two megabytes each). The higher-quality MP3 versions were encoded by Ron Hipschman. "


As we continue to look at the option of uniting a variety of non-profits and the Housing Resource Center under one roof here in Hancock County, we've looked at a great variety of spaces. Some are squeaky clean, sterile, or just too expensive, and some have rooms full of grass growing out of moldy and soggy former ceiling panels. Needless to say, none have been ideal yet. This was certainly the most interesting building we've checked out. It looks like an aerial shot out of the window of a jet.


Just a quick introduction and a link. Christine mentioned to a couple of her friends that make shirts that it would be cool if they made a Gulf Coaster t-shirt since they already make a West Coaster and East Coaster and they have! Pick one up now at:

Erika and her dog, Arrow

Also, I will soon be getting a new co-worker and roommate soon as one of our new Americorps members, Erika is moving down from Minneapolis to join our Hancock County branch of the GCCDS. Erika was actually part of the group of us that came down to the Gulf in coordination with Cameron Sinclair's visiting professorship in the Spring of 2006 so it'll be nice to have her back. Plus, she's bringing down a couple of pieces of furniture with her that I couldn't bring down the first time which is totally sweet. The place will have a whole new look next time you see it :).


From the GCCDS website:

Every once in while, a rare and wonderful architectural opportunity approaches the designer by way of a great client. A design partnership arises that is full of educational, lifetime-lasting rewards. This is such a project.

Patty’s house is the product of several collaborations. Brad Guy, the Director of Operation for the Hamer Center for Community Design at Pennsylvania State University, organized a group of twelve architecture students from different universities to work in Biloxi on a design/build project. The GCCDS prepared the project for the design/build studio by producing drawings that were sufficient for the building permit, and the East Biloxi Coordination, Relief, and Redevelopment Agency worked with the homeowner to secure funding for the house. When the students arrived in early summer, the project had a building permit and drawings that left design opportunities for the students. Brad was joined by Bryan Bell, the director of Design Corps, and Sergio Palleroni from the University of Texas at Austin. The group of students and faculty worked for six weeks in the heat of the Mississippi summer, building and designing the house.

The plan of the house follows the model of a dog-trot, a southern vernacular house type that separates the living space from the sleeping space with an open covered area that increases the effectiveness of breezes and creates a covered outdoor living area.


The design addresses the challenges of an elevated house. The house is thirteen feet off the ground to meet the FEMA advisory flood elevations. The owner has always enjoyed gardening and is pleased with the possibility of using the area under the house as part of her outdoor space. The house structure is innovative with a combination of concrete and pressure treated wood. The concrete columns extend up to eight feet, above which the wood columns and bracing create a branching structure that centers on a wood column under the square bedroom, and that extends out to support a balcony under the living room. The two parts are joined by the stair.

The Penn State students worked on the house for six weeks. After the students left several other volunteer groups and a contactor have worked on the project. The GCCDS staff has had an ongoing role in the building of the house continuing the work of the students.

Jesus died for your sins, have a marshmallow Peep... or four.

Nicole got these and we had to document their extravagance. Sacrilicious.

More to come soon, but enormous thanks to Deloitte and all my mapping friends that helped out.


Total Miles Walked: 415
Total Cities Mapped: Waveland- The Hospitality City
Total Vans Saved: 1
Total Collars Popped: Countless

Chapter 344: It's My Uniform


As I've been preparing for launching shirts and other fun merch, I have had a bunch of really good talks with friends down here. Over dinner tonight, El drew this and I thought it was funny as it plays into one of the shirt designs which is a work in progress.


A break before a night of mapping means sushi at Fuze in Ocean Springs with the Nicoles and then trivia with Team Sugar Lumps at the Government Street Grocery. Here's a quick photographic update since I'm too tired to do much with it. Oh, by the way, we won the trivia night by 4 points (M, Nicole Joslin, and Name with NicNak as an opener) and won a hundred dollar bar tab that we're going to save for Friday night since the Mayhem String Band are playing. After mapping for a week straight I'm looking forward to a good drink and night of bluegrass and chillin'.



I drove over to Biloxi again to work on mapping for this coming week and I found this can sitting in my garbage can. First I thought to myself, "I should put that in the recycling". Then I thought, "who the hell in their right mind is drinking a can of TAB?" I haven't seen someone drink that since they said that it had all the bad soda cancer mites in it back in the 80's and my Dad and Grandpa stopped drinking it. Anyhow, that and this made my day...

Found while searching for some stock photos of an 18-Wheeler for a web-banner and had to put it up. Haaaaaaaaooooow-Haaaaaaaaaaaoww!

MSU wrote us up on their website. Props.


STARKVILLE, Miss.--Nearly two-and-a-half years after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Mississippi Gulf Coast and New Orleans, the scars of the Category 3 storm still are etched deep in the landscape along U.S. Highway 90.

Mere blocks from the major east-west highway where Federal Emergency Management Agency trailers and makeshift dwellings have replaced multimillion dollar homes, Division Street traverses the heart of the city of Biloxi. Separated from the hotels and casinos, the once bustling neighborhoods along its way are marked mostly by vacant lots. Prior lives are evidenced by countless empty slabs of washed-away homes, many of which were owned by the elderly or those of modest means.

Quietly and with little fanfare, the staff of Mississippi State's Gulf Coast Community Design Studio is helping renovate or rebuild more than 50 homes for residents, most of whom lost everything in the hurricane and ensuing flood. The community outreach branch of the university's School of Architecture has been in operation since shortly after 2005's record-setting August storm.

The studio works in cooperation with the East Biloxi Coordination, Relief and Redevelopment Agency, a community-led effort usually referred to as the Hope Coordination Center. Located on Division Street, it provides residents with a one-stop resource for recovery.

MSU studio director David Perkes was operating the School of Architecture's Jackson design center when Katrina hit. "When the hurricane came ashore, it only made sense that the community design program should relocate to the coast," the associate professor recalled. "We basically closed shop in Jackson and came down with a small staff to get things running."

Perkes said the team "hit the ground running and hasn't looked back." Funded largely by a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant, the Harrison County studio involves a staff of 10, including students from MSU and other universities who spend a semester earning both academic credit and considerable hands-on experience in design and construction.

Residents seeking to rebuild or renovate damaged homes meet with Hope Center representatives to begin the process and arrange financing. Once financial issues are settled, they shift to the design studio, which provides design plans necessary to begin the construction phase.

Perkes said close cooperation between the independent entities working toward a common goal has made a success of all their efforts. Add to this the reality that a majority of the actual construction must be completed by both short- and long-term volunteer organizations.

He also observed that the design studio's hurried location in 2005 at the Hope Center has proven, ultimately, to be of tremendous benefit for all concerned.

"We wanted to be right in the middle of things, where the work was," Perkes said. "Being right in the middle of things has allowed us to become a familiar part of the community, letting residents get to know us personally and not see us as outsiders."

Participating students also agree that the setup works both ways for them. During semester-long tours of duty, they will spend nearly as much time driving nails and running saws in the neighborhoods as they do behind computer screens at the studio.

"The personal aspect of knowing homeowners by name makes our contributions here much more meaningful," said junior architecture major Emily Parsons of Starkville. "When we are working, it isn't (class) project number such-and-such. It's Patty's house.

"The big thing for me is to be able to do something for someone else," she added. "This is about the people I am going to be able to help and lives I am going to be able to change. It's very important to me to be able to give residents a home, not just a building or a roof over their heads, but a home."

Though initial HUD funding is nearing the end, the design studio's mission is far from over, Perkes said. In fact, he added, work is picking up speed as new projects are added daily.

New funding sources are being explored and soon will be in place to ensure the studio's future, Perkes said. As evidence of expansion, he mentioned a satellite design studio that recently was opened in Bay St. Louis, seat of neighboring Hancock County.

Chapter 338: Press Blitz, Part 3

(Thanks to Christine for the picture of DP in the limelight)

So I talked to Danielle Thomas, the reporter that covered the press conference and wrote a nice little article (also, check out the video link from the last post) and we started talking about the GCCDS. Long story short, she went over to Biloxi, interviewed David and kept the media blitz going which is great. Although they have some of the facts mixed up, we get to see a lot of my fellow Minnesotan and WoA member Sarah Naughton!

Check it out and be sure to click the video link on that page to see Sarah and the Studio in action:

Architects Offer Free Design Work To Families Rebuilding

BILOXI (WLOX) -- They started out designing public projects. Now, however, architects at the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio are helping people rebuild their homes after Katrina. The director says since the studio is funded by grants, there's no charge to families.

Sarah Naughton is an architect who spends a lot of time at construction sites. She says a house sketched on paper doesn't always translate perfectly to real life.

"Designing a house - there are so many factors that go into it," said Naughton. "Sometimes you miss something and have to come to the site and work it out with the contractor and the builder."

Naughton is one of a dozen architects at Gulf Coast Community Design Studio. The studio partners with the East Biloxi Coordination Center. Case workers help families find the money to rebuild, then architects meet with the families to design a floor plan.

Director David Perkes said, "We're really committed to helping families make a good transition back into a house. These are people that didn't necessarily plan on building a new house. Not only are we helping people get a good plan, but we're also making sure we spend enough time with the families that they feel like this is sort of their house. That it's not just plan A, B, or C."

Naughton says elevation, accessibility, lot size and budget are all important factors in designing a house. But the most important factor is creating something the family will love.

"It's their house," said Naughton. "I want them to feel comfortable and tell me what they want in their house. It's my privilege to do that for people. I was lucky enough to be able to go to school and learn how to do this, so I like to share my knowledge with other people and help people out that can't get it in other places. "

Since the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio is affiliated with Mississippi State University, college students also work there for class credits. Travis Altsman is among them.

"I'm from Diamondhead. A lot of people I know lost their houses and everything, and I felt like I needed to come down, work with the community. And it's just really great to help the people that I grew up with."

The studio recently opened a second office in Hancock County.

Chapter 336: Press Blitz, Part 2


From Wanted: Hancock Co. Residents Stuck In Housing Recovery by Danielle Thomas

HANCOCK COUNTY (WLOX) -- To all Hancock County residents who feel their housing recovery plans have hit a brick wall, there is someone who wants to hear from you. Officials with the Hancock Resource Housing Center are asking people to tell case managers what is keeping them from moving back into homes. Then case managers do the leg work to find the funding to met those needs through grants and loans.

Dale Strang says most of the work on his Hancock County house is finished. Now even remaining minor repairs are a major headache because he is out of money.

"We've got some shutters that we've got to put back," said Strang. "We've still got to get the roof done. And basically we've spent every penny we got from grant money and insurance."

Hancock Resource Housing Director Sherry-Lea Bloodworth said, "We want any resident who is in some phase of recovery who has not fully recovered in their housing needs to come register with us."

The center wants to fill the gap between what people have and what they need to finish their homes. The case managers have families to fill out assessment forms to figure out their needs and how much the construction project will cost. Next, the case managers look for ways to pay for it.

"We hope to be able to provide answers for anyone struggling to get back into their home," said Bloodworth. "That is the goal. I can't say it will be tomorrow, but I can say that we will work tirelessly until it is addressed."

Dozens of Mississippi's case managers who have been helping people to transition back into permanent housing may be losing their jobs on March 31st. That's when funding that has been paying their salaries is scheduled to run out. The Hancock Resource Housing Center says it may be forced to take up the slack.

Bloodworth said, "It will affect our organization because these Katrina Aid funded agencies are bringing their cases to us in Hancock County. We had somebody drop 350 off at our office last week, and that's 350 families that still need to get homes."

Dale Strang says right now he feels like he's on hold indefinitely.

"You can see the light at the end of the tunnel," said Strang. "Just like the train is running out of gas and you're hoping there's a fueling station between where you are and where the light is."

The Center is holding an outreach event Tuesday March 11th through Friday March 14th at the WIN Job Center on Highway 90 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Also participating are:

* Mississippi Center For Justice with attorneys to assist with contractor fraud/deed issues/appeals.
* FEMA officials will discuss the latest on the flood elevation maps.
* MEMA personnel will be available for questions on the Alternative Housing Program.
* Mississippi Development Authority will sign people up for the Homeowner Assistance Program.

Chapter 335: Press Blitz, Part 1


Today we had a press conference featuring representatives from various organizations as well as the Mayor of Waveland and two Councilmen from Bay St. Louis to hype the Hancock Housing Resource Center's Registration Outreach next week from Tuesday the 11th- Friday the 14th. This is the kick-off of a media blitz that will hopefully result in residence from Hancock County finally getting in the system here at the HHRC and getting the help they need to finish getting back into housing.

If you know anyone that needs more information please refer them to me or send them to the event. It will be from 9-5 each day with representatives from FEMA, MEMA, Mississippi Center for Justice, and MDA as well as American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Veterans Affairs, and free blood pressure screening by Gulf Regional and Hancock County Medical Center.

Another out of this world awesome street perspective by David Perkes, our fearless leader

So Vince (who wrote a great write up on his Oak Street experience here), NAVASA, and the rest of the Biloxi Studio have been busting their asses working with the community to figure out what is the best course of action while redeveloping the Oak Street corridor of East Biloxi and I wanted to share some of their work and the write up on it from the local paper and television station.


And from WLOX...

Rebuilding Infrastructure & Culture on Biloxi’s Oak Street

February 27, 2008

by Elise Roberts, WLOX

It was a meeting of the minds for some people who live in East Biloxi. Wednesday night people came together to give their feedback on plans to revitalize the Oak Street community.

“We lost so much of the face of our community, and that’s something we cannot reclaim,? said Thao Vu with the Boat People SOS.

Vu says after Hurricane Katrina, very few homes and businesses returned to the area. Instead, many relocated to D’Iberville and Ocean Springs. That’s why her organization, as well as several others from the Vietnamese Community are working together to make plans to rebuild Oak Street.

Wednesday night was the first of many workshops aimed at getting a uniform design for the historic community.

“Change can be good, but there’s also many things that you want to keep - tradition, cultural heritage. And that’s something we keep in mind on Oak Street,? Vu said.

Architect David Perkes agrees.

“It’s all kinds of various pieces in motion,? Perkes said.

He is the director of the Gulf Coast Design Studio, the company that worked with property owners and residents to create five design plans for Oak Street. They include a Vietnamese District, similar to what you would see in larger cities, a residential area, an international street made up of restaurants, bars and shops, a mixed use community and a tourist condo living area.

“Our role here is to help the community visualize their own community,? Perkes said.

Right now, Oak Street is lined with several residences and businesses. It is also the home of a Vietnamese church where hundreds of people attend mass every day.

“We would like the leaders of these churches and temples to really help because they are the leaders of this community,? said Vu.

Some residents are still torn on which plans will work best, but they do want more grocery stores that serve both Vietnamese and American food. They also want restaurants that stay open later. All are ideas organizers call key to revitalizing a community where everyone will want to live, work and play.