April 22, 2008

4/1/08 Stress Disscussion

On the first of April I held a meeting to discuss stress and how it affects student’s lives. Students were invited to come discuss and each a free lunch.

During our lunch meeting 5 graduate students joined me for lunch and we had an informal discussion about stress for a straight hour. After the meeting I invited other grad students to share in the left over food. As a result I have another hour of talks about stress with 5 or 6 other students who weren’t at the original meeting. When all the food was gone I cleaned up and looked over my notes. Here’s my impression of the conversation.

What is stress?
• It can be the things that gets you up in the morning..
o We spent a good bit of time discussion the difference between good stress and bad stress. Is pressure sometimes a good thing? Often a bit helps. Is excitement the same as stress? On a certain level it is but some were very hesitant to associate the two. Some also rejected that idea that being under pressure is a positive way to get things done. In the end it seemed like the conversation lead us to the idea that stress itself is neither all bad or good. What is important is how you manage your stress.

• Stress is anxiety.
o Stress is running things over and over in your mind.

What causes stress?
• Not having control or power in a situation leads to stress. (no money, no voice, no resolution in sight)
• Expectations (both internal and external).
• Personal politics. (is someone mad at me? Who offended who? Office politics etc.)

What do you do to remove stress from life.
• Admit that it exists. Admit to how you are feeling. Express your feeling.
• Give it up to the universe or God.
• Exercise. Walk the dog, manual labor, fresh air, dancing. (everyone agreed on dancing)
• Watch TV, drink a bear, smoke pot.

General notes about the conversation.

We talked a fair bit about weather a momentary break from stress was beneficial in the end of if it simply pushed back the inevitable.

It was suggested that some activities wash you clean of stress and let you move ahead with a clearer mind. Other activities actually fill you up with positive energy as well wash you clear. One person mentioned yoga, another mentioned prayer, or meditation. These things not only give a moment to let go of stress, but also seem to add a positive energy. I have heard a definition of stress that equates stress with the difference between what you want to do and what you have energy to do. We talked a few times about what are the things that increase our tolerance for stress. What keeps us from boiling over. One stressful situation can elicit many different responses from the same person depending on what else has happened that day or that week or even that year. One person brought up these responses can be habit forming. Once we start to respond to stress with depression or anger, we might be more and more likely to keep doing that. Or vise versa.

I noticed that happiness kept creeping into the conversation. As though without anyone saying so, happiness was synonymous with a stress free environment or life. We would quickly and seamlessly in conversation move between what removes stress from my life to what makes me happy. That thinking brought the conversation to the sort of mid-western protestant ethic that happiness is somehow bad. Or having too much is somehow wrong. Someone advised focusing on what you want out of life rather than what you don’t want. Then there was a response that to try for what you want is too scary, what if you don’t get it. To dream big or to be open about what you want can lead to hurtful disappointment. I thought this related to the idea of expectations bring on stress. I wondered aloud how could we dream big and not have expectations. Someone also mentioned that in the Midwest its good to not sound too smart. The opening phrase, “I don’t know anything really, but ….? Shows a sort of hesitance to be confident and comfortable. Here I think we were getting at the work ethic idea that to be free of stress is to be lazy.

Someone mentioned a PBS documentary about stress that looked at the difference between the stress of poverty and the stress of say a CEO. The person remembered that according to PBS stress of poverty released different chemicals in the body and was more degrading to the body and mind than stress of the CEO.

Everyone seemed to have a personal relationship with stress and had thought about and talked about stress in the past. Though there were many different ideas about stress and dealing with stress there seemed to be a kind of comradery that is formed around a challenge we all face.

~Travis Freeman

November 20, 2007

Present Moment Project Published

Dr. Steve Mitrione has written an article on the project published in the University's Wellness magazine, also available online at:


Click Here to Download File

(See page 16).

November 19, 2007

First spatial iteration - installation: November 17, 2007

Shane Peterson, RA, Elizabeth Pezalla, RA, Rebecca Krinke, and Diane Willow installed the first spatial experiment on November 17, 2007.

Only beach stones and the softwall were used. The space is a visual respite and a space to walk into. You can sit on the stones if you choose.

Future iterations will explore seating, a central focus, lighting, etc.






November 18, 2007

1st iteration of Present Moment Project


The first iteration of our Present Moment Project, Installation #1 was installed in Nolte on November 17th.

The upper lounge area in Nolte has been re-shaped with the curvilinear, 8' high, paper softwall and ~750 lbs of rounded beach stones.

This 1st iteration offers us a space for experimentation. Over the next month or so, we would like to document each iteration - adding lights, adding seating, removing seating, adding projections, adding sound, removing sound, adding projection surfaces, altering projection surfaces, etc.

A comment book will accompany the installation and it is our hope that people will offer their feedback, comments, insights, suggestions, etc.

November 3, 2007

future window

Daylight is a "window" designed to present visual atmospheres that can be changed with the wave of your hand.

It is a concept of the future presented by Philips and is being marketed for hotel rooms of the future.

This caught my attention because of some of the "imagery of the future window" as portrayed by the marketers presents "views of nature".

November 2, 2007

accordion chair

you can find it here

October 31, 2007

Where to find materials

Thomas Register is an amazing resource.

Now online, Thomas's Registry is described as, "the most comprehensive resource for industrial information, products, services, CAD drawings, and more… "

Art of Living

http://www.tc.umn.edu/~talc/about%20us.htm This is a link to The Art of Living Club at the University of Minnesota. The Art of Living foundation teaching stress reduction and trauma relief workshops internationally and constitutes one of the largest non-profil organization in the world. I have been a member of this organization for five years and participated in many workshops and classes. It was once said by the founder of the organization that stress is the difference between what you intend to do and what you have energy to accomplish.

This is their national website: http://us.artofliving.org/index.html

This is their research on youth and stress


control and hard times

Entered into a conversation about stress with a fellow grad student the other day. I suggested that control seemed to be a big part of stress for students. For example, when multiple classes have similar deadlines a students stresses that there is nothing that can be done to change the situation. Just the knowledge that a teacher may be willing to adapt or change takes a lot of stress off. My fellow student agreed. She added to the conversation that she felt that after going through some really hard times, it was much easier to handle stress. It seemed simply knowing she had survived difficulty made the present trials seems manageable.


Landscaping Glass




These are links to the two companies that send us samples of their landscaping glass. There is a materials calculator here: http://www.thegardenofglass.com/pages.asp?pageid=45023 which suggests that to cover a 10ft by 10ft square with one inch of glass would take about 700lbs. Prices per pound seem to range from $1.30 to $6.00 depending on amount of tumbling.

The glass seems to be visually tempting and certainly lends to the feeling of being in an space outside of the everyday. It appears to be perfectly safe and not too messy. There were concerns mentioned about the sound created by walking on the glass might very grating. Also the price is a concern. There possibility of mixing rocks and glass was also suggested.

October 11, 2007


post seating element ideas

chair-like rather than couch or bench-like
body oriented
not of an era
not upholstered

October 8, 2007


When I encountered Softwall by molo design during one of my web meanderings browsing for new materials, I was immediately inspired by the lightness of it's architecture - luminous, mobile, with an economy of form and substance.


We are considering the white paper softwall for our first installation in Nolte. We plan to use this to re-shape the space.

Project Team


Henry Emmons, M.D.
Adjunct Faculty, Center for Spirituality and Healing, Academic Health Center

Rebecca Krinke
Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture, College of Design

Diane Willow
Assistant Professor of Time & Interactivity, Department of Art, College of Liberal Arts

Graduate Research Assistants:

Travis Freeman
Shane Peterson
Elizabeth Pezella

Undergraduate Research Assistant:

Ben Faga


Proposal to the Institute for Advanced Study: Symposium Award on “Time?
Download file

The Present Moment Project
Creating a Contemplative Environment for Stress Reduction on Campus

Henry Emmons, M.D.
Adjunct Faculty, Center for Spirituality and Healing, Academic Health Center
Rebecca Krinke
Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture, College of Design
Diane Willow
Assistant Professor of Time & Interactivity, Department of Art, College of Liberal Arts

Continue reading "Proposal" »