Change is hard. But gratitude and appreciate make it easier. Here are the latest collage creations for my coworkers before I transitioned into a new job. I think about the personality of each person as I make. It’s a way to guide decision making.
Archive for the 'In the Moment' Category
I couldnt help but get excited to see snow in Charlotte. It had been the first accumulation in 2 years. Although it hardly holds a shovel to the inches I’ve seen in Minnesota, excitement still bubbled up inside me. I’ll never tire of seeing the snow etched branches overlapping in the sky, their outlines creating infinite patterns.
I need to keep track of the things I make. This particular found-fabric found its way into my latest gift projects quite easily. I started with the apron – for a favorite chef of mine. The vertical piece turns into a towel hook over the koi fish pocket. If you’re into cycling, I was inspired by Rapha’s clothing line off center design.
And then I made an all purpose pouch. Friends have turned them into wallets, card holders, places to carry flash drives, phone cases…it’s just fun and versatile.
And last, but not least, are my koi pot-holders/hot pads. It’s fun covering poorly designed ones with whatever design you want! Plus you get an extra layer of fabric protection….
Do you have other ideas you could see with this kind of fabric? I’ve got a little big left….
This is what 9 christmas trees look like in a little dining room. They are quite friendly, and their fragrance, sparkled with orange scent, is marvelous.
I should also note how the trees exited the house…much faster than hauling them back down the stairs.
Tomorrow I embark on a month long journey through Europe studying how cities and architecture there have given more space to water. I won a traveling fellowship through the School of Architecture and AIA Charlotte to fund my studies, which I’ll extend into my thesis year in the Master of architecture and urban design programs.
This is an example of the kinds of solutions I’m looking for – an idea that is multi beneficial across many needs: people, ecological, flooding protection, for example. Here’s a rendering I did of a Richard Serra sculpture in the Delaware River along Philadelphia’s coast that acts at once as a sea wall, public art, and ecological habitat.
I just recently wrote a ditty on my perceptions of place, how places “feel,” and what design elements make them feel this way. I found it to be a challenging topic – how do YOU define place? My goal is to get people to notice their environments, neighborhoods, and streets, a little more. I’ve heard a few accounts of where this actually happened!
Read it here on PlanCharlotte.org.
One day I thought it would be a good idea to try to save half my soup. Well, it proved harder than I thought. In short, a slip of the hand and a volume of air quickly compressing a full can of Tomato Basil soup ended rather messily. Notice the empty, clean bowl. The spray reached over 15 feet! I thought the most prominent splash was pretty great…there’s something about speed and different materials meeting that creates interesting objects. The picture that is not shown here is my sweater. It, too, was in the line of fire; I was not spared. It proved not to be a challenge to clean out, however. It’s just one of those nutty things that puts a little surprise in the day! It could have been worse…
My current favorite bands that you should definitely check out are these!
Here is a grooveshark playlist of some especially awesome songs by both musicians…
All at once I find these to be uplifting, engaging, encouraging, energizing…but yet they can slip into the background when more pressing work is in front of me. The videos are pretty great too!
So the other week at the APA-NC planning conference there was a bicycle parked in Uptown and I noticed that I could take the beefy lock right off the of the seat…it was clearly a poorly designed locking strategy. And because it’s always not fun to lose your possessions…I decided to write a little note. Perhaps this cyclist thought they were foolin? I started the note off: “dear awesome cyclist” hoping not to strike a lecture-y cord. I was going for the friendly-reminder/suggestive approach. And then there is the issue of where to put the note so that someone else who is in more need of a bicycle than I wouldnt read and take the hint…I hope this rolled approach was effective…
I always get a kick of writing random/anonymous notes in public 🙂 Hopefully it made a (positive difference) in their day.
I was feeling that a friend needed to get something good in the mail. So, feeling inspired in the moment I put together some found objects – a CD case I found in the dumpster overlaid with an old aeronautical map from Alaska. For the back of the cover I combined some pictures I had from New Orleans…door and window apertures can never be wrong. I also recovered a little notebook in another aeronautical chart, just for fun.
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.)
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:
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
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.
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)
B. Design Priorities required for sustainability (Now imagine that triangle righted, with the big base on the bottom.)
4 Circulation (automobiles)
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.
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?
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!
prime – getting your head in the right gear
purpose – start here
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!!)
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!!
Why yes, what a splendiferous wallet it does make!
Another adventure in making!
I really needed to update my style – my previous wallet had one year of miles – it was made out of part of a clay bag and a lemon bag in Belfast+Bar Harbor Maine!
Yes, I’ve officially decided I’m going to challenge myself and post a picture a day and see how creative I can get. I figure it will be a worthwhile documentary process. It is an effort to get my work out, and to start a sort of visual photo journal.
I think I’ll aim to post particular favorites to this site, but for a better organized viewing I’ll post them on a site called 365:
Please check them out!
One weekend I just couldn’t help but challenge my mind into composing for some people I had been thinking about. I should have been working on my studio project, but this was such a good way to practice making in another form.
It actually all started because I found a box, a piece of material that I had been waiting for, and that set me off into sifting through my papers, looking for the perfect combination to express my inkling of each person. Sometimes I dont know what it is, but the compositions seem to fit in just the right way, visually forming my memory of them.
And when I mail them..its like I’m throwing my work to the wind, never sure if they’ll get there or not, or when… and hoping that along the way someone will take a liking to them, and knowing, or hoping, that someone will read them, even when they know they arent supposed to.
I recently, in one sitting, read the whole of Peter Zumthor’s book Thinking Architecture. I was reading in the quiet of the morning, in the living room, surrounded by bicycles and a soft, low light with the hum of the refrigerator a few rooms away to keep me company. Without music and only the steady hum of traffic outside the window, I was put into a contemplative state thinking about living and really experiencing good places, spaces.
From this reading, there forms within me the desire to capture the light and feeling of a place – and this house -which I’ve had mixed feelings and emotions within – there is some sense of it which just feels good. It’s that sense you cannot put a definition on.
Through his readings, Zumthor inspires me to BUILD things – to manifest them in this real world – off the paper, out of 2D, so that we may be able to explore a creation in all of its unspoken, subconscious forms.
Through his readings, too, I am filled with a driving sense to capture these living moments of the everyday – the lighting, the quiet, and how things are placed, just because its the course of life. (So, indeed, I got up and started capturing some of these moments with my new/old SLR.)
I also got this overwhelming desire to be in a quiet place, away from cars and people and noise to be surrounded by deep, quiet, forest, tall and confident, peaceful woods. There was a stirring in my heart, as if I needed to run there, but, sadly, I didnt know where to go! I need to find that place here in Charlotte. Nonetheless it was good to feel this pull.
Below I’ll interweave some of my favorite excerpts from the book.
“Since our feelings and understanding are rooted in the past, our sensuous connections with a building must respect the process of remembering.” (p18)
“In architecture there are two possibilities of spatial composition: the closed architecture body that isolates space within itself and the open body that embraces an area of space that is connected with the endless continuum.” (p22)
“I carefully observe the concrete appearance of the world, and in my buildings I try to enhance what seems to be valuable, to correct what is disturbing, and to create anew what we feel is missing.” (p24)
“A good building must be capable of absorbing the traces of human life and thus of taking on a specific richness.” (p24)
“Why do we have so little confidence in the basic things architecture is made from? Material, structure, construction, bearing, being borne, earth and sky, and confidence in spaces that are really allowed to be spaces – spaces whose walls and constituent materials, concavity, emptiness, light, art, odor, receptivity, and resonance are handled with respect and care?” (p33)
When a building just seems to fit a site “it seems to be a part of the essence of its place, and at the same time it speaks of the world as a whole.” (p42)
“The strength of a good design lies in ourselves and in our ability to perceive the world with both emotion and reason. A good architectural design is sensuous. A good architectural design is intelligent.” (p65)
“The intensity of a brief experience, the feeling of being utterly sustpended in time, beyond past and future – this belongs to many, perhaps even to all sensations of beauty. ..The flow of time has been halted, experience crystallized into an image whose beauty seems to indicate depth. While the feeling lasts, I have an inkling of the essence of things, of their most universal properties. I now suspect that these lie beyond any categories of thought.” (p72)
“Beauty…is at its most intense when it is born of absence. I find something missing, a compelling expression, an empathy, which instantly affects me when I experience beauty…Longing. The experience of beauty makes me aware of absence. What I experience, what touches me, entails both joy and pain. Painful is the experience of absence and pure bliss the experience of a beautiful form that has been ignited by the feeling of absence.” (p80)
“Architecture is the art of space and it is the art of time as well – between order and freedom, between follwoing a path and discovering a path of our own, wandering, strolling, being seduced.
I give thought to careful and conscious staging of tension between inside and outside, public and intimate, and to thresholds, transitions, and borders.” (p86)
**This is one of the things I like most about the house – the thresholds and rhythm of moving about the rooms. I dont know why, perhaps its the movement that I continually seek.
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.
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.
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.
Do you want a unique, hand-sewn, snail-mail-delivered creation? Tell me your address.
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.
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:
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.
A friend recently showed me this site. Very poetic and soft, the tone and the photographs matched perfectly.
One of my favorite parts: “He also would have wanted people to remember his story is about the story of life. My father had no time for growing old. He was like a river. Always in motion, flowing forward with loose-limbed vigor. Sweeping past every obstacle with a smile, dancing and shimmering in the sun. Every door was there to be opened. Every window to be peered into.”
Seeing this story makes me think about how much I appreciate my family, and recalling moments when you suddenly dont have someone or something and regretting that you didnt take more time to just appreciate their presence. (Like the bit when he’s reflecting about his mother.)
It’s a story that seems to speak quietly, earnestly, and it feels powerful to me, pure. Perhaps I should think about my relationships, how I value them, how I show that I value them. And the simple act of recording, putting emotion into a piece exactly as its happening. This is the most fruitful way.
I think I’ll do some things differently now.
**Please see the comment section – a poem awaits you (complete with the audio from the author.)**
I knew I wouldn’t regret waking up at 5am on the Summer Solstice…and I’ve got some photos to prove it. (One thing the photos dont show are all the mosquitoes who also thought it would be a good time to get up and active..)
I was talking with a new Couchsurfing friend tonight and we were wondering when you know how suitable a place is to live… how long does this take to figure out? Can you know in a day, in a week, in 3 years, if this is(isn’t) the place for you? What could (will) draw me to the city the most? The water? The mountains? The culture? The people? As always, it seems to be a combination of all of these things, but, really, what is the deciding factor?
As I take my trip around the country I learn to live on a new rhythm, that without them! Soon you realize all the things you used to take for granted living in one place (a known source of showers and food, for example). And there is this continuous barrage of new! new! new! that you have to get used to. But, I’ve also realized I’ve been able to live in the present moment quite frequently – perhaps more here and now than in the past. Perhaps it’s my desire to want to absorb all about this place. To be so observant – this is something we forget, or glaze over. Sure, we see lots of things, but we dont remember them, we can’t even remember what color that last building we passed was!
I was recently asked how I liked living where I was, which was an interesting question since I have no home to return to. I’m returning no where! My home truly is where I am now, which seems to be the full expression of living in the present, as it were. An interesting concept. I replied that I liked it quite a lot, where I was living now (since i happened to be in this food-and-friend-filled kitchen at that moment).
I also came to realize that my way of navigating the many highways and backroads it took to get from Washington, DC to Bar Harbor, ME without hitting more than 2 tolls is very similar to my path in life. It’s easy to get anxious and worried about the exit that didnt come when it was supposed to or the road that should have curved right but hasn’t yet. But, what I found is that as long as I kept going I found what I was looking for, and the exit appeared (the highway did change names a few times and I went from exit 76 to 14 in just a few miles, but the fact is that it changed.) By simply forging on and seeing what was down the road instead of inducing self-doubt (and Google-doubt) I have found my way. This, I now know, is how I should approach architecture and all the other side projects I’ve got going. Once I dive in and commit, I’ll be glad I’m there.
Finally, I recently made the statement to a friend that I’m not capable of being bored. What a thing to say. It’s easy to get bored, isn’t it? But, as I was walking around the little town of Belfast, ME for a grand total of 10 minutes and thinking I’ve seen everything there is to see, I reminded myself that I really haven’t seen anything, especially if I couldn’t draw each facade or even remember the colors of the buildings. This little town requires a whole new level of “seeing” – that which is supplied by a pen and sketchbook.
Thoughts on moving, living, seeing, being?