"summer school"

i'm busy busy busy...too busy to blog it seems =)

but i was excited to see one of my schools has their summer architecture program for elementary students up on their website with great images!

check it out here.


this summer

i've got plans.

i live here:

next to this:

okay...it doesnt quite look THAT bad...i'll take another pic...that's from the cook county assessor's website. even, my bldg on the right doesnt look like that any more (pre-shotty-rehab).

but the point is, the vacant lot next to me needs some special attention. its privately owned but not cared for, AT ALL. the 3rd floor residents of the 4 flat to the south of it throw full bags of trash off the back porch into it instead of walking down to the alley for the trash cans. the neighbors down the street bring their dog to crap in it and don't pick up the poop. kids in the summer set up a lemonade stand in front of it and leave all their trash afterward. last summer we even had some spontaneous 'parties' on the lot with a conglomeration of neighborhood hoopties at all hours of the morning. sigh.

so this summer, project #1 is to treat this as a design problem. i have to live next to this space. one question is, what can i do to make it more aesthetically pleasing...but also i'm thinking of doing some programming in the space. perhaps some impromptu art making with the kids in the neighborhood...it'll give my kids something to do too. of course its not "mine" to do anything with (actually 14" of it is mine...since my fence was mis-installed)...but the owners don't live nearby and never monitor it. i'm thinking guerilla style. saturday morning set up/tear down...flexible, retractable something or other to get some positive activity going here. hmmm. stay tuned.

project 2:

my sad sad state of a yard. the south side of the lot has an extra 10feet. with no bldg there is is over exposed by the sun and the grass just sizzles. so, i tore half of it out a couple weeks ago...

i'm going to plant it with native plants, some seating etc. along the long side area...in the back, a "tree house", raised vegetable beds and some kind of enclosure for the back carport which is totally exposed to the alley. also on the front parkway, i think i'll plant some sedges or something.

anyhoo for this weekend, step one:

3 cubic yards of mulch
, install "prairie smoke":

and some "mountain mint"
all of it will get phased in over the the course of the summer.
along the perimiter i'm putting some tall grasses called "little blue-stem":

my colleague Jaime Zaplotosch from openlands will be advising me, b/c i do NOT have a green thumb at all. keep your fingers crossed people!



bear with me, any exclusively design oriented friends. here's another tangential post about how i process things in my world-view and filter through my identity as a designer, educator, reformer in relation to other issues that i am passionate about.

last night in my role as vice chair of the board of directors for IL Caucus for Adolescent Health i made a presentation to a group of prosepective funders of the Chicago Foundation for Women's/Tide's Catalyst Grant fund which is focused on reproductive justice. they are trying to raise 100k in the next six months. the incoming CFW board chair asked, how to get people to donate to this issue??? to which i responded...its about discussion, dialogue, exposure, and truth telling. it never fails to inspire people. in a sense, blogging is that (though no replacement for in person social networking as my friend peter exley so eloquently pointed out later last night at pecha-kucha vol.9--whoo hoo---but i digress.) we are obsessed with stories...and hopefully those stories spur action.

so, in my presentation, i started with a story. my story was about how after doing youth development with young women for about 7 years i got really burnt out emotionally and decided to go to architecture school (ha! architecture school as a vacation...yes, i can hear you laughing HYSTERICALLY). after architecture school i profoundly missed working with and on behalf of young people and ran a summer environmental arts program to quench that thirst. in the course of that program one day during lunch break, a 15 y/o mother was huddled over with a bunch of other girls...i came over to check in and see what was up. well, turns out they were orchestrating an attack...in lay terms, they were planning for her to get "jumped". more specifically, they were making sure that each girl got $10 to kick her in the stomach enough times to make sure that she lost the second baby she was carrying. besides the fact that this was a jarring situation, that i no doubt intervened in...i really had an epiphany about intersections. people and progress are complex and nothing is in a vacuum. NOTHING. there's no such thing as a singular issue...and i am reminded of this daily.

i have always considered my youth development work to be community development...and in that i have always used collaborative art-making and a participatory design process (mostly public art) as a tool to addressing and un-packing real-life social issues, i consider my arts and design education work to be community development as well. now in education i feel the same thing. we must understand the intersections of education and the complex lives of students...people...in order to reach them with both rigor AND relevance. reproductive justice is saying that also. people bring their WHOLE selves everywhere they go. you can't talk to a child about physics if they are hungry. you can't teach a child about environmental stewardship and sustainability when they don't have access to sexual health services and are plotting their own violent demise. its gonna come up in the process...and its just ALL connected...and the more we realize this the richer our social change efforts will become. Here is a chart from the organization asian communities for reproductive justice that attempts to note the intersections of social justice issues (environmental justice, immigrant rights, worker rights, education, anti-violence etc.)

i'm not posting this to preach about RJ. i'm posting it as a model of analytically understanding intersections (yes that is the word of the day), b/c to me, we should see all issues in this way. understanding the other factors and movements influence the issues we care about...we need to forge collaborations and coalitions and work across disciplines at all time in order to make change. (stepping off soap box now).


however if in fact anyone IS interested in more more info about RJ, adolescent sexual health, teen parenting, or general philanthropy for women and girls around human rights: economic security (employment and expanded access to
economic opportunity); freedom from violence (including domestic violence,
sexual assault, stalking, human trafficking and prostitution), and health (access
to services and information related to mental, physical and reproductive health).


the catalyst fund brochure.

visit the chicago foundation for women website

the donation page for the catalyst fund

the ICAH website and their donation page here.

Diversity in Design: The Diversity Pipeline

to readers of architectural record this article is redundant...but i feel it only natural to post this spotlight on design education. we soooo wanted one of these in chicago. i think the thunder of our efforts was stolen by:

A) the stigma of career and technical education (formerly vocational education)...and disbelief that we could actually do something innovative and cutting edge and forecast industry needs in this profession and the professing the PROFOUND value of design based education in developing analytical skills and critical thinking. SIGH. (i'm not bitter!)


B) the centrifugal force of the development of the new chicago ARTS school: "chi-arts". the arts community of chicago has mobilized and put an ENORMOUS amount of support behind this school (rightfully so...my mom got herself into crazy debt sending me to a private art high-school of the same nature after public school proved its limitations in arts education) . at this point i'm not sure if its redundant to have a design school in addition to an arts school...but it really is a missed opportunity to not build on this energy and gross need for design education. if only there were some SIMPLE way to let educational leaders understand the power and value of design. every object, space, text etc. has been designed and people don't realize that this education can lead to that.