Archive for the 'Community' Category

PARK(ing) Day, 2013

January 18, 2014

Yes, I realize the timing is a bit…late, but I thought I’d document just the same. In 2012 our PARK(ing) Day was in SouthEnd, adjacent to a popular Friday Food Truck rally. This year we aimed for NoDa, a neighborhood known for it’s artsy nature. We set up shop using local resources, of course! A tire place around the corner on 36th graciously let us borrow the tires for a few hours and the train tracks were a host of marvelous branches we painted and used for street trees. And, yes, you might ask, a few of those painted trees do live on as a decoration to a neighboring apartment door.

We set up a temporary tattoo parlor…yes, temporary tattoos, and temporarily set up. It was a huge hit, and a great way to break down the invisible barriers between strangers. This is my favorite part of the event – talking to those just walking by, often with confused expressions – which, of course, gives me a perfect segway into a conversation, explaining the oddities that are occurring where cars normally do. I liked the phrase that came up, “Park your butt, not your Buick.” We chose this street because there is a void of sitting space, especially as the narrow sidewalks crowd with concert-goers and the like. One 20 foot parking space can go a long way for creating new conversations, hearing stories, and enjoying the street life.

We had a “wishing tree” where people could hang their neighborhood wishes. Not Just Coffee and Smelly Cat were kind enough to donate/let us borrow some coffee bean bags. We had games, tattoos, and just a place to sit while you waited for your cab.

Before

Before

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Also a good space for picnics…

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And just when we packed up the last of the materials. Filled again. And how dead the space seems once more.

And just when we packed up the last of the materials. Filled again. And how dead the space seems once more.

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*New* Scrap Exchange Space

May 6, 2013
before...

before…

 

These are the kinds of projects I like: quick, easy, cheap, and pack an impact punch!

Problem: Architecture students waste so many materials at the end of the year because they dont have anywhere to put them and they dont think they can use them again.

Solution: Take over an under utilized spray painting room and turn it into an organized place to store scrap materials for next semester. Every one saves TIME and MONEY. Hundreds of dollars of materials are saved from going in the dumpster! Hit this effort during the last week of school, make an impact, get people excited, get people motivated and willing to do just a little bit more.

We also played off of an existing campaign – Zero Waste has been adopted by the Football team. Why not use a little peer pressure and take on the same goals??

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Nicole Rivera is a trooper. She attacked the top!

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Before, from the doorway.

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After painting!

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After. We decided to keep some of the good graffiti for fun!

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X marks the spot for saving this graffiti!

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Free flat files from university surplus!

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Common Ground and my architectural philosophy

October 15, 2012

Today, after a class discussion with David Leatherbarrow, I think I am closer to finding another piece of my personal philosophy on architecture.

Here I will try to articulate what I’ve learned. Know that I’m still in processing mode and thoughts will change, add, and grow on these issues. Many of these statements are quotes from David.

ARCHITECTURE NEEDS TO BE MORE GENEROUS. There I said it. It takes courage to give the heart of the ground floor, the heart of the building, over to the  public. (Leatherbarrow)

In Architecture we want to articulate our individuality, rather than what we share. Is there any common ground? Leatherbarrow argues that sites are not given, but constructed. The architecture project you create reveals the site.

Urban architecture, Leatherbarrow argues, should share space. He uses the word proportion, as in share the right amount. Just like at dinner. You may not eat as much as the person next to you, because you don’t have to. Good design always involves a donation of space to the public. It’s a sacrifice that makes the city better.

He gives three examples of this “sacrificing space.”

Palladio’s Palazzo Cheiricati 

ABI Building in Brazil

Tod Williams Billie Tsien’s  Skirkanich Hall

Part of sacrificing space is thickening the edge. The limit of your project should not be a line but a space.

It is this act of gift-giving of space that develops the common ground.

In contrast, Thom Mayne’s recent Cooper Union Building does not engage the public realm. It does not sacrifice for the benefit of the city. If you clicked on the link with the building, I would have to say I do not agree with the critics remarks about engaging the public. It does not. No where to sit. Barely an overhang to be sheltered from the rain or sun.

– – – – – –

About  city and society.

Richard Sennett’s The Fall of Public Man is an account of the modern attitude of our cities and space and how we interact with each other. I have not read it yet. Leatherbarrow warns us that it is pretty depressing, but we still need to read it. One way to look at cities is to see that all they are is circulation and police. We feel most comfortable at home. We have internalized the city. The car is the extension of the living room. Today, public does not equal shared, but unlimited access, accessibility.

– – – – – –

Is place a gradient then? If you set up the extremes:

Flow <- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -> Place

(circulation, continuous space)        (identity, regionalism, stability)

Many define the gradient as a blurred boundary. Leatherbarrow says it is not blurred. It is nuanced, exact, precise. There are structured, carefully constructed relationships that define space.

– – – – – – –

To be continued…and revised. I just like that architecture needs to be more giving. More in relation to its surroundings to give itself a stronger identity, and to be a good neighbor.

PlanCharlotte Additions

October 15, 2012

I need to write a ‘shout-out’ to our budding PlanCharlotte site! The site covers issues shaping growth in the Charlotte region.

I’ve had a part in the following articles:

May 25: Charlotte’s Great Walls. Here I examine some particularly blank and centralized walls and imagine things to do with them.

July 6: It’s Hip to be (a Water) Square. This article articulates a few of the things I learned on my Traveling Fellowship and ties our flooding condition to Charlotte. This will also roll into my thesis topic and these questions will consume my life for the next few months!

July 31: Eastland Mall, What’s Next? Some Options. Charlotte has a dead mall on it’s hands and here our research presents other now-living mall ideas.

September 11: Parking for Cars or PARK(ing) for People? I led Charlotte’s first (official- street level) PARK(ing) Day. (The first was in a parking lot in 2008 by Deb Ryan and her students.) I held it in SouthEnd and major organizing took place over just 2 weeks! It all came together wonderfully with borrowed materials!

October 3: Hitting the Streets, with Parks. This is my follow up article of the very successful event!

 

Pallet Place Farm?

April 24, 2012

Pallet fence idea for the Charlotte Urban Farm Project

When I walked out of my “home” at the UNCC Center City Building to check out what Lindsey and Allen were doing at their new farm site on the corner of 8th Street and Brevard I was immediately put to work (and seriously, how could I expect anything different?) I was tasked with designing a pallet fence. This week also happens to be FINALS week, so there is lots going on. But, because I’m a productive multi-tasking procrastinator I find useful things to do instead of the things I really should be doing, and this little project fits the bill! It was also a challenge to do a quick charrette and see how fast I could render something. With the help of fellow Urban Design student, Adam Martin, we came up with this easy-to-construct design. We’ll be doing some actual testing in the next few weeks to get the site secured.

Check out the Charlotte Urban Farm Project’s website! http://www.clturbanfarm.org/

I also thought it would be a good idea to do some vertical gardening projects in uptown on some of the blank walls, so I’m in the process of finding the right people to talk to to make that happen. Here are some of my ideas: http://cargocollective.com/the_spacebetween/Green-on-gray

I shared a whistle tune with a morning raccoon

August 28, 2011

This title acts as a good analogy for the week I spent in Turkey Run State Park in Marshall, Indiana as a part of the Byron Fellowship. Coming to Indiana at the end of an adventurous 4 weeks on the road, I was curious about the coming week. I had no expectations. Now I can say that the week went better than I could have ever imagined. Getting exposed to new ways of thinking, learning exercises that allowed us to think creatively, and truly learning 28 people’s names in the matter of a few hours was just the beginning. (If you ever need to learn lots of names real quick, just get out the ol’ frisbee and toss it around, calling the names you know. It’s the least awkward way I’ve experienced thus far.)

Rachel writes for this long exposure in the teepee

George's hands.

After/during a lecture by Luke about place and systems thinking I sensed a feeling of placelessness. This isnt the first time it’s struck me. This feeling has come at seemingly random times, or perhaps it’s timed with when I’m in the middle of thinking about the future and how I’m currently grounded (or lack of ground.) It’s true, I had been on the road for a month prior, so the feeling is not without immediate justification, but when I think about the big picture of life, this is what causes me to feel placeless, and, sometimes it troubles me. This stirring did spur a good discussion with others, though. Harry made the point that one can carry their home within them, and I can see that to some extent. Maybe I need practice. (If you have thoughts – feel free to post!!) Place can also be a way of being…

Harry outlined PLACE as such:

Presence

Love – If you love something enough, it will reveal it’s secrets to you (G.Washington Carver)

Awareness – Notice what is stirring in you

Connection – What do I need for recovery/renewal?

Effectiveness – How can I move my life forward?

And then we went for a walk in the woods and the canyons. And I drew hemlocks, beech, stinging nettles, paw paw and the tulip poplar (state tree). You don’t really see something until you study it and draw it!

Good quotes regarding place:

“The trouble with Oakland, is that when you get there, there isn’t any there -there.” – Gertrude Stein

“If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.” – Wendell Berry

Luke in the covered bridge.

Rachel's really good at drawing with fire sticks.

I like how small Ben and Malcolm are. Birds have nested in those holes.

Mary McConnell from The Nature Conservancy came to give a talk. I didn’t know much about the organization and was happy to hear of their mission statement (paraphrased): non-confrontational solutions to conservation challenges – looking broadly at all views and focusing on being a conservation organization, not just an environmental organization. Mary finished strong calling us to “Make change become viral in a way that can be meaningful.” I wish viral didn’t have such a negative connotation – it’s a matter of language, once again.

Spider Teepee. The teepee lit from within.

Teepee Moon. This was the first night spent inside.

a place of silliness, deep discussions, and marshmallows.

Mark Boyce gave us a set of contrasting diagrams:

A. Design Priority by code (Imagine an inverted triangle here, such that the cars have the largest end.)

1 Circulation (automobiles)

2 Buildings

3 People

4 Place

B. Design Priorities required for sustainability (Now imagine that triangle righted, with the big base on the bottom.)

4 Circulation (automobiles)

3 Buildings

2 People

1 Place

Mark Timmons gave us a talk on the forest as a city, as the systems are quite parallel in many ways. Mark said that sugar is the elixir of the forest, of the world, really – sugar is what drives the competition. He also said that all these plants act in their own self interest – there is no altruism here.

found in the river canyon, one of the many pleasures of this place.

Another interesting bit of information I picked up is that the word “crisis” in mandrin is made up of two root  words: danger and opportunity. I like this characterization – it opens up the possibilities, no?

team building - blindfolded and suspended

(photo by Ian Davis) Team Building sillies.

(photo by Jen Washburn) Harry's shadow is very valuable!

We watched a short movie called “Everyday Creativity” with the National Geographic photographer Dewitt Jones. He said a lot of things that struck a cord with me. He if you change your perspective you can more readily see the next right answer. You need to be comfortable knowing you’ll find the next right answer. Being present at the moment of opportunity and being in the place of most potential are also goals we should have. (Here I interject a quote I heard: Luck will visit the prepared individual.) Dewitt finds the extraordinary in the ordinary and turns a win-lose situation into a win-learn one.

This is also where Harry’s talk on creativity comes in. He gave us a framework to think about our creative process. Think of a triangle, with the large base on the bottom, the peak on the top, and these words fitting that scale:

propel – do it!

prune

play

provoke

possibilitize

prime – getting your head in the right gear

purpose – start here

my water color palate, pre-painting

my painting, at the scene of the crime.

everyone's paintings! we are SO good.

Samuel shared so many interesting insights into the Amish culture.

Samuel effectively handled our barrage of questions on education (up the 8th grade), insurance (self-insured, through the church), farming practices (organic), family (10 kids, daughter 19 miles away = 1.5 hours by buggy), history (Samuel is German and still very close to his roots), and values (forgiveness) and helping others (when a family’s home burned, the whole community came to help, and a new house was constructed and livable within 3 days!!)

Rachel Ardeel caught these eyes.

The landscape here was just amazingly dynamic, frozen in place.

Mike had many stories to tell about the Native peoples.

(photo by Ian Davis) Ian has the eye!

Lastly, our ending exercise had us forming chains of writers as we sought each other out to write compliments and reflections on each other’s backs. I didn’t read mine until I was on the plane, and what a smile it brought to me. How lucky we all were to be in the presence of such warm and giving people!

p.s. The story behind the title: On the last morning, while I was writing, reflecting, and soaking up the goodness of the tall tree canopy above me I was sitting on wooden steps that cantilevered a cliff, and I heard a rustling below me. I saw a furry raccoon and in my quiet state, not wanting to scare him, I started whistling to let him know I was there.  He proceeded to wander right below my feet. The wooden 2×6 boards of the stairs had 1/4″-1/2″ gaps between them, so, as the coon passed below me, he peered up through the crack, and I down at him. He was little more than a few feet from me and we paused at this moment, scoping each other out. He must have found me plain, for he continued on his way in a matter of moments. Still the look we shared was pretty great. Eye to eye.

Well, I think that will conclude my thoughts at this moment. Please do add comments of your memories, thoughts, and questions!!

wallet – the wearing of…

August 8, 2011


 

 

 

A friend recently sent me these pictures of a wallet I had made for him two years ago. I am quite pleased to see it has weathered well! This particular one was made from a rice bag I found behind a mexican restaurant in Urbana-Champaign, IL and plastic edging from a bag from NYC. I think its interesting to see how things are worn and how they accumulate dirt. It’s fun to see where things have been. Yay! Thanks Mark!

 

 

 

 

 

Postcards for the people

August 17, 2010

Postcard for Sue

So, I’ve been in the mood to make. Sometimes it just comes over me, stronger than other times, and I just can’t help it. Composing postcards from found things is the most satisfying, especially when they go nicely together with a little stitching from my 1974 Singer. I compose each with the person in mind, it makes it more fun. I like the challenge of working with scraps, odd sizes, and random materials. Sue’s postcard, above, was paper from the packaging of a fragrance, for example. Juan’s postcard, below, is from a local gallery show.

There is something about writing a postcard, too, that intrigues me. I write about the moment, current thoughts, often a stream of consciousness. And these thoughts travel openly through the mail, through several hands, right there, for anyone to read. And, its a one way conversation, receiving no response, or, at the most, a slow one. But I dont mind.

Postcard for Juan

Postcard for Juan

These, below, are from a book the French Company produced, and I got it for free at a Pecha Kucha event. A little mixing and matching combines the funky images in fun ways. I chose the images especially with the character in mind.

Postcards for Jim + Beth

Postcards for Jim + Beth

Postcard Darlene + Konya

Postcards for Darlene + Konya

I forgot to return Juan’s bicycle lock key, so I found a good way to do it sandwiched between 2 cards I used from the packaging of a fleece blanket (made in China, $7.99, thank you TJMax). The images are from a National Geographic, highlighting China, and I liked following the lines of the building to accent the crowd. I left the side slots in for fun, and later realized it would be a perfect place to secure the key. I put it all in a small clear gift bag from an earlier purchase. Now the postmasters can see the images from the outside. I hope they enjoy them.

Letter for Juan, side 1 - Chinese Factory

Letter for Juan, side 1 - Chinese Factory

Letter for Juan, side 2 - Chinese Factory

Letter for Juan, side 2 - Chinese Factory

Do you want a unique, hand-sewn, snail-mail-delivered creation? Tell me your address.

In Memory

July 30, 2010

I hate how we don’t seem to truly appreciate people until they’re gone, until its too late.

My good friend, Daniel Schreiber, 24, seemed to have the wrong timing late Monday night (July 26, 2010). Perhaps that’s all it was – bad timing.

A chocolate profile

The above is a blind-continuous-contour drawing I did one night while we were sitting out on the front porch, feasting on his usual (and my favorite) – custard pudding, like only he could make it, finished with a light sprinkling of cacoa nibs.

He could walk up to anyone and ask, “Hey, do you like chocolate?” What a smart way to start a conversation, since just about everyone has some opinion on chocolate and most everyone likes free samples. We had found these molds at the big yard sale on campus and they were in the shape of a kitty and a pumpkin, but, if you look at it fast, it looks kind of like a moon, so Dan called them “cat-moons”. They were the perfect sample size.

I first met Dan at the Mustache Ride put on by the Bike Project. He had knit this wonderful cap/mustache piece that can best be described by a picture:

Dan at the Mustache Ride with his recently knit creation.

It has historical references to a group of people (of course I’m forgetting all the details) who used it for warmth. Dan was so good at finding these little, rather obscure hand crafted things. He was always encouraging people to take up a trade or learn a new skill (he kept pushing me to build a stone house – how hard can it be?)

For stories others have posted: rememberingdan.org

For more about Dan and his whimsical creative writing, check out his blog : Artisanal Thinking

An article from Smile Politely (July 28, 2010): The man that is and always will be Flatlander Chocolate

And an article from the News-Gazette (Nov.11, 2009): UI graduate student turns beans to bars of chocolate

Looking at his photos and thinking, I can’t believe I’m writing this. I just can’t.

Map: Where Americans are moving

June 17, 2010

Yet another fascinating map showing our moving habits. I could be entertained for hours, I’m quite sure.

On the interactive site they also have the median incomes and the direction of where the people are moving (when more than 10 moves are documented from/to a county).

I’ll credit my friend Tony for alerting me to this great find.

The moving trends of Cook County (Chicago) residents

The moving trends of Cook County (Chicago) residents

Geotagger’s World Atlas

June 16, 2010

Beautiful maps put together by many.

See their Flickr site with more cities….

New York City Geotagged

New York City Geotagged

Most interesting map of DC

June 16, 2010

Ever really wanted to know what DC looks like? This map tells one story, and I love its graphic quality. Its also interesting being made up of a combination of tourist and local photographs.

From that site I found an interesting article about downtown Silver Spring (my home for 4 months) and its “no photographs allowed” policy.

DC map

Michael Pollan – Resources

June 16, 2010

I thought it worthy to connect to another site chalk full of handy and interesting resources – these primarily revolve around food and food issues, but there’s more to the story.

Curious about any or all of the following six topics Pollan writes on? Sustainable Eating & Nutrition, Growing Food, Politics & Policy, Animal Welfare, Journalism & Writing, and For Parents & Kids – then this site is for you.

Check it out: http://michaelpollan.com/resources/

Pachube – connecting, measuring, mapping

June 3, 2010

I have yet to use it, but I’m excited to. Pachube is a way to “store, share & discover realtime sensor, energy and environment data from objects, devices & buildings around the world. Pachube is a convenient, secure & scalable platform that helps you connect to & build the ‘internet of things'”

It’s basically a site that manages datapoints, graphing monitoring, sharing, collecting.

For example, a few things that can be mapped are : mood, emissions, fuel, cost, watts, temperature…

Grassroots Mapping

June 3, 2010

Grassroots mapping image of the Oil Spill

I found these guys from a connection to mapping the Oil Spill (which sounds so minuscule compared to what it really is).

Grassroots Mapping looks like a pretty interesting way to engage a community and see things from a different angle.

Check out images of the Oil Spill thus far and support them on their Kickstarter Site!