Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cradle to Cradle Overview

Please comment this week on your overall comments, impressions, positive and negative, regarding the Cradle to Cradle readings.

250-500 words

Also, please publish them under this posting and not as individual posts.


Monday, October 26, 2009


I'm guessing that at least some people in this class have heard of Freecycle, but I wanted to post this link because it is way cooler than Craigslist when you want stuff or have stuff to give away. Plus, what a great concept!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

blog 5

I thought the ideas that the three artists behind People Powered take and create art with were really cool. I feel like there is this cultural shift happening where art no longer has to be defined by a specific medium, but can now cross disciplines and become much more rounded and aware of different aspects of society. I really like environmental and ecological ideas and movements becoming more available to artists and other groups of people because I think that they can then reach "the masses", so to speak.

Last year I attended a salon at the cultural center that focused on artists and environmentalism, and the different ways they can intersect from being very grounded in ecology to being much more abstract, like dance and performance pieces inspired by issues like recycling. Francis Whitehead, a Chicago artist and professor at the Art Institute, was there and she is really involved in some awesome projects. She often partners with scientists and city governments to help people see what is going on in the world around them through instillation art at different sites around the world. Really awesome, really inspiring stuff. Here are just a few examples:

While I am certainly no artist or designer, I love being surrounded by people who are. I think that scientists and artists can really learn so much from each other and inspire each other to grow beyond their comfort levels, which is so important when it comes to creating something that can really make a difference. I really hope that once my career gets moving, it is moving in this type of collaborative direction.

Urban Lab Green Designs

Here is an interesting site called Urban Lab, it has a lot of green designs and concepts throughout Chicago and other cities.

I really like their "Growing Water: Chicago in 2106" concept

website for the bird men interview

consumers and cyborgs

The interview with Alphagraphics made me consider the research that we, as consumers, need to take part in to gain the truth behind commercial practices and products. On the surface, Alphagraphics would seem to be a very environmentally responsible company and if you were an environmentalist looking for a printer, they would fit the mold nicely. However, after the interview I realized how much the internet website had exaggerated their environmental stance and involvement. We should not have to partake in a 30-minute questionnaire to attempt to get at the truth behind their marketing. As consumers, we have the power to control the demand and the overall success of businesses because of the lay out of the free market economy. For the most part I feel like I am constantly being deceived by marketing ploys, false advertising and mislabeling. I don’t think we should have to constantly question and challenge corporations on their procedures. There needs to be more transparency within the system. The consumer can only become an informed consumer if they have accessibility to accurate information. This also relates to the company’s management practices, if they were using sustainable products there would be no reason to display deceiving information; they would want to publicly announce their dedication to reducing their impact on the environment.

On another note, I thought Randy’s presentation on cyborgs was very intriguing. I couldn’t quite grasp how he would utilize the framework or the terminology until the discussion got going full force. I recognize now that it is more of a working philosophy to analyze the surrounding world and our place within it. The day following his presentation, I actually encountered a review of a video online where someone had used cyborg to describe the men in the video. It was a very accurate use of the framework. The video covered a group of people that are referred to as the bird men. They have constructed wingsuits made of nylon to propel them forward when jumping off of cliffs. The wings allow them to stay afloat three times longer than skydivers and they have more control in turns because of the wind pressure in the wings. The use of bird physiology in the construction of the wingsuit takes the cyborg idea through several levels. The study of how bird wings function is examining organic mechanisms. Then those are adapted to an inorganic structure, the wingsuit, which is attached to an essentially organic being, a human. I think “cyborgic thought” (if that works) can greatly vary in the degree of detail and this is what provides it flexibility in dialogue.

Blog 10-22

Rachel Markel

            The Green Audit project was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be.  It was so hard to get my printer, or any printer on the phone.  It also seemed like a lot of people had trouble getting all of the answers they needed when they were able to talk to their printers.  My original printer, Seaway Printing, has returned my call this morning.  Though it is a few days past when I needed to talk to him, at least he called me back.  Unfortunately, I was in class.  I will have to call back and hope I am able to reach him again.  The other printers I talked to seemed to be very hesitant about talking to me for the project.  They were either very busy or the “right” person was out of the office.  One certain printer was very, almost rude and snippy, when I asked him some of the questions.

While I was in my morning class, my original printer left me a voicemail saying that he was back in town.  After hearing the stories from other people in the class talking to their printers, I wonder if I should have an entirely new approach to talking to my printer.   Should I say that I am actually interested in using their services so they take me seriously?  Or should I just be up front about the whole situation and say that I would need about twenty minutes of the printer’s time? Should I cut some of the questions out?  Or should I just keep asking and talking until the printer says he needs to move on to something else?

Post 5

I also really like Dr. Honold's discussion, like always Randy tries to bring a new idea to the table and if it's not a new idea its always a new viewpoint. Before I talk about cyborgs I would just like to say that there is no way we can go back and "live off the land", regression is not the answer and will not work. We can't all live in a log cabin and grow,trade our own food and energy(wood a horrible energy source). We have to use technology and machines to create a sustainable energy for use to survive, tech is the only answer for the amount of people on the earth.
We maybe evolving into cyborgs, since the first time a human used a tool like a stone drill, or arrow head, or whatever it was, we relied on this tool for survival. Eventually these tools turned into machines and we use machines to create an economy, and as Ol. Dirty Bastard said "C.R.E.A.M cash rules everything around me." The machine is now running us, we can not survive with out the machine that we created. We can cook amazing things in a microwave or on a stove, but how many of us could start a fire when lost in a woods with nothing but sticks and stones. We are so intertwined with tech that we may already be cyborgs. Here some questions that I do not have an answer for.
Are we a cyborg when we
drive a car?
ride a train/bike?
electric wheelchairs?
consume GMO's?
send an email/post a blog?

Luckily we have the technology to realize that the current Machine's use of us is causing climate change. We as a species need to not add on but rebuild the Machine in a way that is sustainable.


I know there was a lot of response, both positive and negative, to our discussion last week on cyborgs, so I wanted to write my blog this week about my thoughts and reactions. I really liked the way the presentation was given; I thought our presenter’s working approach to such an idea was the perfect way to lecture to a class. His openness to ideas and his interpretations of questions brought up were really clear and concise given the fact that he hasn’t fully developed the idea himself. Personally, I really like his interpretation of cyborgs. The idea of integration between humans and the virtual, computer, or electronic world is something I feel as though we already do in our daily lives, for better or worse. This has been a rapidly evolving way we live our lives. Everything is connected, and to think that technology has simply stayed a tool and not helped define our generation would be near sighted. I think from the way in which we interact with each other all the way to the way we perform daily activities at home has been influenced by technology. This I think is unquestionable, but what I would further go on to say is that without these new technological advances many of us would be at a loss. Our lives have become so intertwined with each other through networks created by technology. These ideas seem to move away from the general theme of our class in terms of getting back to basics and making more with less, but I think this still can be achieved with the ways in which we utilize technology. No doubt there is excess in our current technological world, but I think certain things we utilize as a society have become imperative to our daily lives.

It seems logical to connect Massive Change on Living Economies to Randall Honold's presentation on cyborgs. They both share many similarities regarding the relationship of the technology and the environment, and the degree to which technology is environmental and the environment is technological. In regards to our discussion in the Q & A portion of the presentation, I think it's helpful to pull one quote from the 'Eugene Thacker on biomedia' portion of the reading and offer it as some help for people who understandably take issue with the whole cyborg framework thing-

"Is the body itself a biotechnology?"
"Yeah, sure. I would say that it is, but with the caveat that it has to be articulated as a technology. I wouldn't say that this view is so all-encompassing that the body's mere existence means that it's a machine or a technology."

I think that the nonchalant, who-cares attitude that Thacker has in response to the question should be helpful for people who think that the Honold's presentation would just create some sort of cumbersome discussion about how to define or imagine the relationship between design and the environment rather than just solving existing problems.

In addition to this, I think that Honold's presentation has some points that diverge from the Massive Change reading. This particularly is evident in Honold's proposition that we embrace irony and paradox. Mau doesn't seem to do this- case in point the featherless chicken example (something that Ozimek pointed out in his presentation). The subhead next to the picture of the chicken is 'unnaturally cool.' I don't see anything 'cool' about this image or idea- I might be more open to this idea if I were allowed to laugh at it or view it ironically. Even then, as much as I appreciate irony, we can't go so far as to be ironically degrading, as Ozimek pointed out.

Mau seems to think that alot of these living economies are simply rational, progressive solutions without taking into consideration some of the human reactions to modifying the natural world. This is seen in the reaction against genetically modifying food that seems to be more popular right now. Instead of genetically engineering vitamin A enriched rice and importing it to third world countries, why can't we allow 'developing countries' (as they say) to become economically sustainable by putting limits on our own expansion?

I think that pairing some irony and paradox with rational problem solving could be a good idea.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

great animals we can exploit for the ad campaign

should we be using examples of different animals to capture people's attention? What about a bur oak? Nah, Chicago Wilderness has the bur oak. Our group was talking about using white-tailed deer, kind of a mundane animal but I think city people feel really connected to white-tailed deer. I think we can exploit the fuzzy feeling city people get around deer for the Conservancy's benefit. other animals: fish, birds, ordinary animals transforming into rare animals, so that when people see them they make the connection from a mundane species to a rare one. Like a rat turning into a capybara, or a coyote turning into a wolf. A dandelion to a real lion, that sort of thing.

Post 5

I really liked our speaker on Thursday, Randall Honold. I had him in a class previous to this one, so I've heard a little bit on what cyborgs previous to our discussion in class. When I heard he was doing a presentation on cyborgs in our class I thought that he was going to focus on how humans are interlocked with technology, such as cell phones. I found it far more interesting when he started talking about nature as cyborg. I think this also fits into the point of our class, environmental design in that we are designing nature, even though we may not think we are, just as much as we are designing buildings. Green roofs, national parks and city parks are in a way completely integrated with technology.
The idea of cyborgs as a framework is also interesting to me. I think that the ideas in Randall’s lecture on cyborgs have all been stated in other ways, but I think the cyborgs is a way of framing it so that we see how everything is interconnected. I liked how he set the guidelines for thinking in this way, but these ideas to me didn’t have as much to do with cyborgs as I thought they would. “Be intentional as you seek to form alliances, no matter how contingent they may be”. This to me is true, and should be a rule in going forward, but I don’t necessarily see how it relates to cyborgs. Though I like what Randy says about how humans, nature, and technology are interconnected, and have always been, is insightful into how we should go about fighting environmental problems, I think that the guidelines he set out are more universal.

Green prostitution

After months of begging, I finally got my starving-college-student sample of back issues of the Small Farmer's Journal.  The front cover of the Summer 2009 issue says "visualize a coincidence of wants:" a farmer wants to trade peaches for wheat, but the peaches aren't ready at the same time as the wheat when it is most needed.  Wikipedia suggests a musician who performs in exchange for food or drinks, things that do not pay the rent.  I just want to expose you guys to some of the genius of this magazine. Lynn R. Miller writes:

Where have all the bees gone? Many who care deeply are searching. Clues are floating to the surface. I see parallels with the human condition of late. Not to suggest that we live in colonies which are collapsing, but rather that if we did live in colonies or clusters or like-minded swarms we would be better insulated against what seems to be heading our way. We actually live today in a morass of commerce-defined mud which denies us our ability to produce 'honey.' We have little or no savings or food put by or fuel stockpiled or seed saved. Many of us live without a support group of family and neighbors ready and anxious to help each other out in times of need. We live day-to-day trusting that what we need will be available and affordable when we need it. We don't produce the sweet stuff of sustenance. We have no 'honey' to spin. The means to change this are at hand today. In a very short time we can return to our rightful colonies, clusters or swarms. And we don't have to go backwards to do it.

Is there a coincidence of wants in play here? We want to be more "green," human, or sustainable, but our currency in this exchange is totally immaterial, while the problems we face are taking place in the physical world.  Wow, I sound like such a marxist, right? SFJ has many koans about the coincidence of wants, most notably the "coincidence of wants" editorial: about how lots of young springboks fresh out of college or high school are going back to the land on unpaid vision quests, like myself, my WWOOF catalog is sitting next to me as I type.  

Here is the real coincidence of wants:

"We are thinking of trying to get apprentices to help us with our seasonal labor needs here on the farm but not sure how to go about it all.  Talked with someone who said she tried it and it didn't work because the apprentices were so demanding of her time and so seldom willing and able to put in useful work.  But on the other side we hear of programs like those in Massachusetts and Maine where the relationships are outstanding and have resulted in good things all around.  How are we to know what to do?  Do we just offer room and board and instruction for labor and not worry so much about formal instruction?  Or do we design some sort of curriculum and ask that they pay tuition?  And of course there is the third option of actually paying out an hourly wage, adjusted of course for the fact that most of these people don't know what they are doing and will be less useful than experienced farm help.  Bottom line is that we need help and are interested in trading what we know for some hours in the field."

The young springboks want to learn for learning's sake, survivalists (afraid of losing their chance) probably (IMHO most farm people are NOT survivalists, they are more progressive than most bitter city liberals), and are totally uninitiated, full of questions.  So they made this catalog called the WWOOF catalog, where you can work with Bev and Dwight at (random page) THE PRAIRIE FLOWER, in Spencer, Iowa: "we own Section 8(640 acres) in Summit township, Clay county, Iowa.  We have a native plant and grass nursery business, we grow plants and grasses for resale.  Stay 4 - 5 months or less, any amount would be helpful!  Preferred months to come: May through September.  We have a furnished house with laundry and anything you would need to live.  You could eat meals with us if you want.  Besides farming, we'd love your help with alternative construction and energy, and restoration projects.  Expect to be weeding, planting, whatever needs to be done.  Transportation is available.  English only spoken.   Let us know about special diet needs.  You must like to work outside, very family oriented business.  We have children involved and some grandchildren."

Oh go to their website, they have pictures of a kame!  I'd like to be an outdoor educator, a falconer.  Did you know you have to apprentice for two years to handle raptors, and the initial cost of falconry is about 3,000 dollars?  A geologist too, but there are no work-exchange geology apprenticeships I know of.  There IS however, and, which I am members of.  If anyone wants to join me this spring, I think I'd like to become a man and go on my vision quest, first getting a giant tattoo of a crow on my back.  I'm not even joking.  

But I am fully institutionalized.  Oh man.  Postgraduate angst.  Senioritis.  City slickers.  On a side note, I met this guy at a bar the other night whose future life plans were to be a Starbucks barista.  I asked him,  "so what were you  before you were a barista?"  and he replied,
"I trained horses."
"So you were like, a horse whisperer?"
"Sort of, yeah, I was."  
"So why did you quit that to work at Starbucks?"
"It was boring."
"and working at Starbucks isn't?"
"Nope! I love it."
A HORSE WHISPERER, FRIENDS, A HORSE WHISPERER.  Grayeagle garden spirit, look at how judgmental I am.  Now why would you quit being a horse whisperer to be a coffee slave? Clearly there are many paths to wisdom, who says the agrarian one is best?  Nevertheless I am suspicious of a green economy that lets us build sexy glass skyscrapers where we can work as Starbucks Baristas -- and go to the Two way and get drunk and hit on girls -- then crawl into a squalid bedroom in the ikea-decorated flat where we live with random people from college.  What kind of a life is that?  How is that being part of society?  How do you plan on being part of society?  

Anyway, I would like to bring up the issue of prostitution as a legitimate business enterprise.  what do you guys think of this article?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I just wanted to post a link to an article from the New York Times that I was reading today, about sustainable energy in Texas and California. It highlights some of the problems that each of them face and their diverging motivations for creating sustainable energy.

so, click here

cradle to cradle comments

I want to respond to the idea that McDononugh and Braungart’s Cradle to Cradle is too apocalyptic. I can see why people have this reaction because they do focus on current environmental problems and how they will increase without changes. This is most likely true if nothing is done, so why not say so? It could motivate people to change, even if change is difficult. I find their proposals for change fairly reasonable, for example the five steps to eco effectiveness. They talk about identifying harmful materials or chemicals, making lists of more or less harmful substances. They say we should use “ecological intelligence” to make choices, including inventing better products and systems. They seem very aware of how complicated this process is, because they keep mentioning the ironies. You can fix one problem and just create others, the same way their book is recyclable, but may use more fuel to transport. But they think we have to educate ourselves and make the best possible choices based on what we know, and continue to research more. I also think their use of real case studies and examples are good to help us visualize real problems and possible solutions. Once example is the Ford Motor company trying to redesign their plant, making River Rouge a place to experiment and to try to find new ways of doing things that are more ecologically sound. I do think that they come across as biased in favor of how well their own ideas could work. Someone else writing about the same examples might see it differently. River Rouge might not turn out to be as positive for the environment as McDononough and Braungart think.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Week 5 posts and responses...

So everyone should be posting for Week Four and should label their post please...

In addition to whatever you might write regarding the last week's presentations, I would specifically like you to write at least a couple of paragraphs on your overall response to Cradle to Cradle. Many students seem to find the book to be overly "apocalyptic" in Professor Randy Honold's terminology, and in fact, rather unproductive, hard to get through and not inspiring. Please comment on how you think the reading of this particular book has been productive, on the one hand, and if not, how it has not been helpful or interesting on the other.

Remember to be creative in your posting style, include interesting tidbits you've found in the news, and comment on other posts, as is part of your assignment.

As ever, let me know if you have A N Y questions or concerns.


Friday, October 16, 2009

The presentation by Independent printers was pretty impressive, so far it seems like Independent is the best model to base what we should be striving for to improve the environmental awareness in larger production companies like in printing. It is commendable that they are trying to lower their impact on the environment in every aspect of there company. It isn’t like other companies who claim to be environmentally friendly but produce an absurd amount of waste both in production and distribution of its products. Independent really seems to have looked at and considered every thing that makes up their company and tried to make it sustainable. The starch peanuts are a great idea and it is surprising everyone isn’t using those for shipping.

The presentation about GIS and GPS mapping intrigued me because I am interested in visual communication and that’s essentially what she was showing us, the ability to use maps and graphs to explain the data that was collected to people who are not experts in the subject. Before this class I did not have any experience with environmental issues and I felt as if the material we were covering did not really sink in because I couldn’t really see it affecting my life. But seeing maps of the greater Chicago area and watching how over the years the amount of forest and nature preserves have shrunken substantially it makes a bigger impact on me. I think information is more dramatic when presented visually, especially to people who are uneducated in the subject.

some simple things every one can do
This list is really simple
and makes alot of sense. If everyone in our class followed these suggestions think of all the waste we'd save. One of the suggestions is have a no-baths week because baths use twice as much water as a shower (assuming you don't take ridiculously long showers). How about skip showering on some days? just a suggestion. Also notice the logo at the bottom of the page, its pretty cute. I also think the graphics and overall design of the page is pleasing, one example of design doing something not bad, i guess.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rebecca Zak

What I am choosing to write my blog on this week is something that McDonough and Braungart discuss in Cradle to Cradle. In Chapter 5, Respect Diversity they talk about how using local resources is a good idea for several reasons. One of the reasons they give is because the local resources obviously can live in this environment if they are naturally there. This stuck out to me for a couple of reasons. It seems obvious after reading this that this fact is true. Why do we use materials from all over the world if the ones that are proven to work in these specific environments are already here? Not only will this help to become more environmentally friendly because we will know where all the materials for things are coming from, but also, it will help local business and help keep the money circulating locally. Also, instead of the “sameness” that is talked about in Cradle to Cradle occurring, there will be obvious cultural and environmental differences. I believe that these differences are important. I don’t like the idea that everything is becoming the same. I look around by my parents house in the suburbs of Chicago and everywhere that used to be a forested area, now holds a subdivision of identical houses, a target or walmart, or some other business that can also be found half a mile up the same road. In my hometown now there are more than 5 McDonalds. I’m not from a large suburb… It bothers me that when I was a kid I can remember all those forest areas by my school or soccer field and now when I look around it has all been chopped down to create more of “the same.” With using local resources it seems as though each different place, could be even just be a little different than the next place similar. Instead of relying on corporations to tell us what we should be eating, dressing like, playing with, etc. perhaps we could decide for ourselves.

It was really informative to have an environmentally conscious printer come in and talk to the class. I have personally never worked with any kind of printing company so I had never really thought of the impact that they have on the environment.

What I found most interesting is that this company was doing all of this because they wanted to, not because it was required. Why isn’t it required that companies have more specific environmental guidelines to follow? I understand that there are environmental requirements but that they are not really real. They only slow down the pace in which the Earth is becoming toxic.

In other countries being “green” is ingrained in every aspect of their lives so doing so in business is just natural. I have relatives in Switzerland and whenever they come to visit they always comment on how wasteful Americans are. It comes down to even flushing a toilet. Toilets in Switzerland use only about a quarter of the water that American toilets do because they are designed to use gravity instead of using so much water. My aunt was telling me about all the nifty quirks in her house that served dual purposes such as her stove was connected to an insulated wall in the living room so when she used her stove, the wall stored some of the heat and helped heat the house.

The way in which America is so isolated in their thinking needs to change. Minds need to change and maybe some people need the government to step in and make it law to respect the environment.

I also wanted to post some mockups for logos that Liz and I have been working on, just to keep everyone up on what’s going on with the design side of the things. I’m excited to hear what happens with the green audit surveys. I think it would be useful to present our findings to administration at DePaul- the school produces large amounts of print every year, from the DePaulia to promotional material to programs for events. Putting pressure on administration to print sustainably could be another place to begin for students to put pressure on the school.
This being said, I’m now going to be a nerd and freak out about art21. The series on Ecology and Art isn’t necessarily a subject that I’m always interested in, but I thought that it framed a few artists that posed some interesting questions about the relationship between cultural and scientific responses to the environment. After seeing the video it seems that they work more closely than many assume. The relationship documented by art21 seems to be essential to this class: pairing culturally and scientifically-minded people to solve the problem of how society relates to nature.
Inigo Manglano-Ovalle’s work seemed to poignantly relate to the relationships that a class on environmental design seeks to resolve. With a body of work that spanned an interest in architecture, weather systems, immigration, and narrative, Manglano-Ovalle’s work seemed to create a seamless relationship between the natural and the designed.

Blog 10-15

Rachel Markel

            Last Thursday, the speaker was talking about how the guidelines were not required, but they were only suggested to companies.  I thought during class when he was speaking that in this stage, maybe the companies should be required to follow the guidelines.  They should have to test the water, follow the progress of their delivery trucks, and make the packing materials green. 

            It is like what we talked about in the last lecture, that people should get more comfortable with their living instead of molding everything to their exact comfort.  Maybe the businesses should all be required to make everything green and become Leed certified. 

            I also think that with the advice about if the printer is dirty inside, the consumer should walk away.  I think the consumer should also walk away if the printing company is not green.  If the consumer is afraid of their products being mistreated in a dirty printing company, why shouldn’t they be concerned with a printing company littering the Earth; polluting water, adding to landfills, and not recycling. 

            After hearing this lecture, I felt more prepared to talk to the printing companies for the Green Audit project.

            I really enjoyed the lecture Tuesday, especially about the tree mapping.  It is just really inspiring to know there are people who are making careers out of saving the Earth and saving things that are significant to everyone.  The way she talked about how each tree means something different to everyone in his or her own way was really…almost eye opening.  I just think it is so important to be involved in something like that, and I would love to find something similar.

Space for Information

Tuesday’s presentation by Lauren incorporated space in a new dimension that our class hadn’t confronted yet. She talked about GIS as an advanced way of organizing data and giving it a proper location, or space. I had simply thought about GIS as plotting information on maps but not assigning it a physical space as she had described. I think this relates very closely with the current project with TNC. This reoccurring theme of giving information a space for the audience to interact with makes me consider the data, advertisements, and ideologies that lack a presence because of inaccessibility to public space. The tyranny of the majority that prevails in democratic societies seems to be the major force behind inaccessibility to proper space, especially historically. It seems that with these new technologies such as google earth becoming publicly accessible, more information that previously would not have been viewed is given an equal shot at informing the interested public.

I think it is also important to emphasize how programs such as Google Earth can aid in diversifying the education system. More and more we are realizing the enormous range of conditions in which people learn best. I think the interdisciplinary approach that most classes at DePaul utilize is successful and necessary. Information should not be presented in an entirely one-dimensional way but should be given context in the actual world around us. Google Earth is an awesome way of providing information with a physical context and would greatly aid visual learners with alternative routes to the interpretation of the material. I hope to see programs such as this more heavily incorporated in the learning environments at all levels.

Putting Eco-Effectiveness into Practice

This chapter in Cradle to Cradle was very interesting to me- both because of the Five Steps to Eco-Effectiveness as well as the two examples used- Ford and a dinner party menu. I can appreciate what Ford did and is doing to enhance the work experience of its employees, as well as prevent the land that the plant stand on from becoming an industrial waste zone, but does anyone see the irony in the fact that this happened at a place that produces automobiles? Even though there are also aspects of the plant that do dis-assembly and re-use the materials in old cars, the fact that cars are still being produced as they are appears to be a greater problem than the eco-effectiveness of the place in which they are produced. This is why I also have a problem with the dinner party menu example; not only is this a greatly simplified example that is borerline insulting, but I don't think it really works long term with this idea of eco-effectiveness- even if you change the entire menu, you are still producing the same result of dinner, or the same result of a car. In order to be 'eco-effective', there needs to be a fundamental change in the way things are done. I know that the book alludes to this, and says that the company should be using some of its resources to create an innovative car, one of the future that is actually more sustainable; however, the authors' reasoning behind this is that if they don't, their competitors will, and ten years down the line they will no longer be at the top of the market. There are a lot of good ideas in this book, but it is increasingly bothersome to me that all of the ideas still fall within the framework of the old model of industrial production and profit margins. If this book is indeed supposed to be revolutionary, why did the authors fall short of creating a new framework through which we could start to implement these ideas? Or, not even that extensive, why place all of their ideas within the old framework, rather than just put them out there? I realize that having a context is important, but it is contradictory of them to denounce the current system and then place all of their ideas within it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

calling all designers

I think I need a design student to explain to me how commodifying nature is environmentally friendly. As Laura illustrated on Tuesday with one of her GPS maps, we have reduced the whole world to a scale of financial value. I understand the concept of “money talks” and I understand that in order for some people to change their behavior they must be shown how it can financially benefit them. Otherwise they won’t change. But we have to ask ourselves if change is going to come from within the system or whether it will require a radically different approach. As I’ve been reading Massive Change and Cradle to Cradle I keep waiting and expecting for someone to say something truly different. I was optimistic at first, but now I feel as though they are both pandering to the corporations (Ford, Microsoft, etc.) that largely contribute to our environmental degradation. (I applaud them for their efforts to be conscientious, but I kept help but be cynical that they are making the changes in order to win customer loyalty and improve profits.) Janine Benyus says “we need to use our scientific savvy to change the way we’ve been living our lives” (Mau 156). She contends that by mimicking nature we can create sustainable ways of living our lives as humans. This line of thinking appears to be progressive (an interesting interpretation of “back to nature”) but the assumption is that what we have been endowed with is not enough. The theory is that the more we know about how nature works, the more we can become integrated with it. My fear is that any scientific knowledge that is ascertained will be used to further the human agenda with little regard to the natural world that offered us the alternatives. Again, I believe that changed minds are more powerful than changed practices.
The most inspiring and hopeful concept has been the idea that waste is food, as discussed in Cradle to Cradle. In addition to devoting an entire chapter to the subject, they emphasize the concept repeatedly throughout the book. On page 177 they advocate that “the product is designed from beginning to end to become food for either biological or technical metabolisms.” My rudimentary knowledge of chemistry informs me that it’s extremely important to think about technical metabolisms based on the fact that nothing leaves the earth. All things that exist can never go away, they just reconfigure themselves, making it vital that we figure out how to reconfigure harmful chemicals and pollutants. There is great potential for designers to work with scientists to reconfigure rather than recreate.

Independent Printing

I felt like I greatly benefited from the presentation provided by Amy Burkett and Jay Lindbeck from Independent Printing last Thursday. I learned a lot about sustainable printing, which will be helpful in my interview of Consolidated Printing. I never realized how many different factors that need to be considered in order to determine whether a printing company is considered sustainable. But I think it is very admirable of Independent Printing (along with other companies) to strive to reduce their overall environmental impact in all areas of operation. I did not realize that there are inks (hyrbrid UV-cured ink) that do not contain any volatile organic compounds… very cool! I also liked that they are mainly using packaging material that is 100% post consumer waste because I think it is absolutely absurd how much waste is produced from shipping materials alone. I was very intrigued by their packaging peanuts… I had never heard of or seen any biodegradable packaging peanuts and was really pleased to see that they do exist and are being used… It probably made such an impact on me because of a recent Chris Jordan photo I came across: it depicts 166,000 packing peanuts, equal to the number of overnight packages shipped by air in the U.S. every hour. And all I could think about is how many packaging peanuts each of those packages contain and how all of them will end up in a landfill where they will remain forever… Just made me so angry and frustrated… SO I really liked the idea of biodegradable packaging peanuts. I was also impressed by their responsibility in disposing wastes and learned what fuel blending is (which I think is a really cool/interesting/innovative process). Lastly, I did not know much about the Forest Stewardship Council beforehand, but I think it is a great system and I am very impressed by any company that works with/is FSC certified because it is really important for us (producers and consumers) to support responsible forestry practices.

I feel more confident in my knowledge concerning sustainable printing, allowing me to be more efficient and professional when I conduct my green audit. So I appreciate their thorough, yet easy to understand presentation.

Blog 4

As an environmental studies major, I found Lauren Umek’s lecture on Tuesday to be very interesting and exciting. I am currently taking the first course out of the five required to receive a GIS certificate, so it was really awesome to see some of the more modern GIS abilities that are being used in the science community, especially with Chicago Wilderness. I was also extremely interested in learning more about the Green Infrastructure Vision that Lauren mentioned Chicago Wilderness getting into. I am supposed to graduate this year, so I’ve been giving a lot of thought into what kinds of jobs I might be interested in and that project seems like everything I’ve been imagining, so it was really cool to see that these kinds of large scale urban projects are in the works right here in Chicago.
I have to admit that when Lauren Umek first came in to present I wasn’t really sure how her information was going to be that pertinent to our course materials, but now that I’ve processed it under a broader scope I totally get it. As an Urban Ecologist, she works within the idea of cities being the last environmental frontier, and potentially the best hope for the United States to see a sustainable future; which I now realize goes hand-in-hand with some of the themes in both Cradle to Cradle and Massive Change. I also was thinking about the upcoming presentation from Dr. Honold on cyborgs and how GIS technologies and Google Earth might fit right into the information he’s going to share with us on Thursday. I’ll also take this opportunity to say that I am very intrigued to hear his perspective on this subject matter.

Week 5, post4?

I really enjoyed the reading on sustainable mobility in Massive Change. The city of Curitiba, Brazil and its use of public transportation seems to be what the blueprint for other cities should be. If public transportation was the main mode of transportation for the majority of people, it would then be easier to change those vehicles into vehicles that run on environmentally energy, have better mpg, and transport more people faster, rather than having people sit in traffic.
In my economics class, I read about how London has increased vehicle speeds by 37 percent and reduced carbon dioxide emissions from cars and trucks by 15 percent. The way they have done this is by tolling heavily congested roads during rush hour that are coming into the city. This would reduce the amount of traffic, increase the speed of cars, and could help in changing the cities public transit so that it can become the major way of traveling for people who are coming in and out of the city.
I always used to laugh at the people on the segway tours because I thought the people and machine looked incredibly stupid. After reading about the actual purpose and usefulness of them in urban environments, however, I have a different opinion. Though I think the aesthetics of a segway still need improving, the idea that an automatic vehicle for mid distance traveling has been a missing link from our transportation devices. Though I don’t know if the idea of a segway for transportation rather than recreation will ever occur, it is still helpful in finding new ways for environmentally friendly travel.

MAU and Sustainable mobility

Sustainable mobility is one of the biggest problems that we have yet to face. We have the technology to create sustainable transportation. But the problem is how can we take existing structures and design an efficient transportation. The segway is a cool invention but how can you implement a safe path for segway users along side the cars, trucks, pedestrians, and cyclists who are all currently fighting for the same space. Side note: As far as respect to other people on the road, I would put some cyclists and taxi drivers in the same category. I saw a cyclist yell at another biker because he didn't run a red light and the guy was pissed because he had to stop and wait. I can't imagine what some cyclists would do if they had to share a lane with segways. A segway just doesn’t make sense if you’re a commuter. The things are huge compared to a bike, they can’t be carried on to a bus or a train. I agree with Dean Kamen that, “cities were meant to be a pedestrian place”, but most cities are not designed to be pedestrian friendly. I think Kamen is relying a little too much on technology, and previous uses of technology has only raised the threshold and not created a solution. I know I talked shit on the cyclists earlier but biking maybe the most sustainable transportation next to walking. This is why I liked Jaime Lerner Ideas over Kamen, Lerner said that bikes should be designed more like umbrellas. In this sense a bike could easily fold up and be taken on the train or bus, maybe stored in your office. While design is a major component to sustainable mobility, changing peoples mind set is even bigger. People have to realize that driving, even if it is a prius, is not sustainable it is just less harmful. Unfortunately people’s mindsets are not easily changed, they probable will not change till something as fast, convenient, and personal as a car is invented.

The Fundred Dollar Bill

I wanted to write this post about something that has moved me while reading massive change, but after reading the fundred dollar bill project and other posts on the art21 blog, in particular Mel Chin’s response to Katrina, I thought it would be more interesting to take a look at his response to the travesty that struck New Orleans. I found it very interesting in the way he approached his situation; he knew that going down and helping clean up would be beneficial, but felt that his skills could be better utilized. I really appreciate the way in which he reflected internally to decide on what to do. The collaboration and concept that came out of the fundred dollar bill is a great way to empower students, children, and even adults to conceptualize and visualize what it would really take to drive home a serious point. The scary fact was that even if New Orleans citizens of the 9th ward were to return, their land and property would be saturated in poisonous lead soil. I thought the creation of this fake currency of expression is one of the most unique ways I’ve seen to bring attention to the government. While FEMA and other organizations were helping New Orleans and its citizens by throwing money at many problems, some of the more serious issues were not taken into account. Emotional loss and strife seemed to be what Chin was after, yet with a more serious monetary driven tone. The concept surrounding the fact that art is money and the fundred dollar bill is the fundamental way to achieve government awareness somewhat struck home with me. It seems as though so much government awareness is created with earmarked bills aimed at the glorification of senators and congresswomen/men that are seeking reelection, but nothing is done for the constituents that don’t have the same national attachment. The fundamental way to the government, money, is a great approach while using art, emotion, and the fundred dollar bill to build awareness around a crucial topic.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

post 4

First off I wanted to post my logo ideas, just for fun. Also a disclaimer, the colors are way off for some reason! The green in the trees is too blue, the blue leaf should be yellow and the orange/yellow buildings should be blue. I'm not sure why it looks this way, but you get the idea.
I was really in the speaker we had today, I thought it was really interesting to show how maps and GIS could can now be used. I took a class on Geographical Information Systems, so I already had an idea of how geographic images could be utilized to collect various data, which is interesting on its own. However, I thought the deep map project with the trees is especially intriguing, because of my art background, but also after taking a GIS class. I think its going to be really interesting to see how people form relationships with certain trees, and if any trends appear after mapping out all of the trees in along the lakefront.
Another aspect that I thought was meaningful in the presentation today were the maps actually showing wilderness areas in Chicago. This presentation today was all about cross-over with other classes I've taken, because I also took an environmental studies class about tall grass prairie conservation in Chicago. Before that class I knew next to nothing about wilderness areas around Chicago, but since taking it I've become very interested in them so its nice to know that more people are becoming aware of Chicago Wilderness.
Finally I just wanted to say that I really appreciate the work that my classmates are putting into the green audit project, and I'm excited to see the results of the questions.

Green Audit Database Questions 10.13.09

Green Audit Database Questions 10.13.09

1. What is your environmental impact statement / plan / policy (ISO 14001)? Can you provide a copy? (If not, why?)
2. Can you provide a supplier tree?
3. Do you have someone in charge of recycling and sustainability? If not: how do you measure your office’s environmental impact/carbon footprint? (Do you use a third party or is it in-house?)
If you don’t have someone in charge, are you thinking of doing that? Would you like some suggestions on how to do that?
4. How do you keep track of your plant’s energy usage?
a. What do you do to lower it?
5. Do you promote sustainable materials with your clients?

1. Are you FSC certified? How aggressively do you pursue it? (Have information available to explain what FSC is to them and to offer them websites that offer information that we have used in class.)
2. Are there other certifications or organization memberships do you have? (see: SFI, LEED, Eco Logo, Sustainable Green Printing Partnership)
3. Have you received any awards for environmental performance?

4. What kinds of inks do you use?
a. What percentage of inks are recyclable/organic?
b. How do you dispose of them?
c. Do you refill ink cartridges?
5. Can you send us a swatch book of sustainable papers or other materials like replacements for vinyl that you might suggest?
a. What percentage of your paper is post-consumer recycled material?
b. Do you make available non-toxic paper sources?
c. what percentage of your paper is sustainably harvested?
OTHER (Adhesives, Vinyl)
6. What other materials do you work with?
a. What adhesives do you use? How do you dispose of them? Are they recycled or disposed of in environmentally safe ways?
b. Do you ofer alternatives to vinyl signs?

1. Do you recycle materials, if so, which?
a. Do you recycle used equipment (batteries, computers, plastics, etc)?
Do you recycle waste products? (REDUNDANT?)
Suggestion: What kind of waste does/does not get recycled?
b. Do you purchase used equipment?
2. Do you have a buy-back program?
3. How large is your facility?
4. How often do you do repairs and maintenance?

1. Do you work with any hazardous materials?
2. Who(What company) disposes of your toxic waste, byproducts and hazardous materials?
3. How many tons of VOCs does the company emit? Please explain what VOCs are.
4. Have you had any environmental fines or violations in the past?

5. Have you benefitted from using or providing environmentally conscious products?
6. Has your business become more successful through making the choice to become more environmentally sound?
7. Do you clients request these materials?
8. Do you see an aesthetic problem or decline evidenced in the use of environmentally friendly products?


Monday, October 12, 2009

Week three straggler.

When I see clean, simple designs, I melt. If you can get your point across in 5 seconds, then you’re doing something right. I personally don’t want to have to spend too much time figuring out what to do with something, or what your design means. Give me convenience or give me death.

I wish I saw more simple industrial designs. I’ve come across conceptual ideas that make my heart pound, but I rarely happen upon something that is real and available. Oh yeah, and I can’t forget package design. Don’t give me all that shrink-wrap. A beautifully designed un-dyed box will do just fine.

Maybe it’s the designer in me, but who will tell me that they aren’t intrigued and compelled by this: [Go Here] Seriously, that is up-cycling. And think about how simple that box is.

Why can’t everything be like that? Does everything we buy need to have only one specific use? Can’t we re-define our surroundings? Better yet, can’t we create surroundings that are multi-use, “eco-friendly”, lasting, and beautiful? Is that too much to ask? It’s really a matter of simplicity.

In this day and age, everyone is so focused on cheap, easy to make, convenient items. Convenience (by this I mean ease of use and availability, among other attributes) and low-quality don’t have to go hand in hand. There’s no reason that good, simple design should sacrifice convenience. In fact, it should complement and emphasize it. And is it really “cheaper” to continually buy plastic plates instead of re-usable ceramic ones? Maybe for a while, but that’s only taking your wallet into effect. What about the cost on the environment? What about the cost on your body and your health? I would rather spend more money on something that I knew was going to last longer. Objects should be made to last. They should get passed down from generation to generation and stay strong.

In short, I’m trying to understand what’s changed in the world. Why are simple, effective designs harder and harder to come by? Why do products need to be so specialized, so fancy? Why do they need to be made with so many materials? Pots and pans are simple items that are continually becoming more and more complex. Is it just a matter of convenience, or something more? Let’s simplify the objects we use. But seriously, I love convenience too so let’s not get rid of that.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Week 5 posts and responses...

Week 5 posts and responses...
So everyone should be posting for Week Four and should label their post please...

And don't be afraid to design and format them! These should be fun...


Thursday, October 8, 2009

green audit questions

Here the questions from the handout along with the ones we all came up with in class:

1. Do you recycle paper and how much?
2. What percent p.c.r. is your paper overall?
3. What happens to your byproduct? (used ink cartridges, used/leftover ink, glues, batteries, computers, plastics, etc.)
4. Do you recycle inks? Do you refill ink cartridges?
5. Do you recycle waste products, if so how much?
6. What kinds of ink do you use? What percent of recyclable inks do you use?
7. Are you FSC certified?
8. Do you track your plants energy usage? What do you do to lower it?
9. Do you have alternatives to vinyl signs?
10. Do you have someone in charge of green issues, a green committee?
11. Do you have buy-back program?
12. Do you purchase used equipment?
13. Who disposes of your toxic waste and by-products? Do you know where it goes?
14. Do you make available non-toxic paper sources?
15. How large is your facility?
16. Can we get a swatch book of your sustainable papers?

Rebecca Zak

What I’m choosing to write about in my blog this week is something that professor Randy Honold said in his speech on Tuesday. When asked why the material of glass was chosen for a building project he gave a couple of reasons about lighting, said a little something about how it is actually hard to make and usually uses chemicals, and then stated that glass buildings are sexy. For me it just seems like why would you choose a material for that reason. I understand that glass can be made in totally environment friendly ways but if that is not how it is being made now, isn’t that still conrtibuting to the problem? Like it says in Cradle to Cradle, being less bad is not going to help. The only way to solve our problems is to be all good. We are not contributing to the cradle to cradle theory that one would hope for if we are still willing to use the dangerous and hazerdous materials to make the glass. In order to make the building totally environmentally friendly, we must change the way the glass is made, to make sure that not only the way the building operates, but also what goes into the building is good for the earth. Randy Honold also talked in his speech about how what a building did is just as, if not more important than what goes into it. The reason to use glass as it being sexy to me seems very contradictary. Just because glass may be the in material, and may be looked at as sexy, does not mean it needs to always be used, and if it is to be used, the designers making an environmentally friendly building should make sure that 100% of the building is going for that same expectation.


I was very taken by Edward Ozimek as a speaker on sustainable architecture Tuesday. He had such a fresh perspective that reminded me to remember to take a second look at the world around me. I think it is easy to become complacent and therefore its important to acknowledge what motivates us and ask why. The example of the featherless chicken stuck with me for the next few days and pushed me to analyze sustainability within differing contexts. It seems that the idea of sustainability gets naturally linked to questions of ethics, although there is no real reason that the two should go hand in hand on a definitional level. The basic concept of sustainability is living in a way that meets out current needs but does not compromise those of the future. There are no rules set that determine how this should be done. It is thought that sustainable living should be morally conscious, is this because of the environmental movement that it has been strung along to? We get so turned off by the image of the featherless chicken because it is seen as so “unnatural”. However, the reason that we have to become more focused around sustainability is because we have brought ourselves so far from the natural through the development of society. So why is it shocking for us to see a featherless chicken but not hundreds of miles of highway or skyscrapers? And I don’t believe we can state that it is because these developments have come straight from human hand because we altered the landscape dramatically in order to get to the point where concrete cities are normal.
I also loved the example of the three expanding house plans from 1900, 1950 and 2000. It was an appropriate follow-up to the question of whether we are prepared to change our current lifestyle. This falls directly in line with what was discussed in class about our degree of comfort. We may need to step outside of this lifestyle we have grown accustomed to in order to open up to change. We get so stuck in the norm and hold on to the idea that we should be doing or living somewhere because its what we have done for years. How are we to change if we grasp onto the predictability of the future?


Lately I have not felt like myself. It comes as a surprise and a disappointment because I thought I knew who I was. I have always questioned authority, challenged rules, asked ‘why.’ Up until now, I have been applauded for my critical thinking and independent spirit. I have always characterized myself as an optimist and I would go so far as to say I am an idealist. But lately I have been accused of being a downer, a pessimist, a misanthrope. Of course I argue “No, I love life and the people in my life. I only want things to be better.” These accusations, aimed directly at the heart of my belief system, has got me thinking about idealogy.
Like ‘comfort’ I have come to find that ‘better’ is an equally ambiguous term. Reading Mau, specifically Robert Freling’s discussion about his SELF project had me thinking “man, maybe I am a cynic.” I was extremely wary of his vague use of ‘productive’ (“…Families were engaged in productive activities during the evening hours.”) and ‘difference’ (“It has really made a difference in their lives.”) and ‘disadvantage’ (“If you’re out in the middle of the Gobi Desert, you’re often at a severe disadvantage in terms of your access to information and entertainment.”) among others. Now, I don’t doubt that Mr. Freling has the best intentions at heart and that his SELF project is indeed impacting countless numbers of people, but I am wary and skeptical of his Euro-centric, globalistic ideologies. Just how would he define ‘better.’ Why do we need to be ‘productive’ at all hours of the day? In my opinion, the night offers a reprieve from work and a time to relax in whatever way you find enjoyable. While sitting by a fire with the same group of friends each night might not sound like fun to us, I doubt that the idea of sitting in front of a computer ‘talking’ to friends you’ve never met on-line would sound like much fun to people of another culture. We assume that everyone wants to live like us because we’re ‘comfortable’ and our lives are ‘better.’
I know I sound like a cynic, but our lives aren’t that great when you think about the high levels of crime, violence and mental illness, including depression, that we live with. These are not facts of life for all cultures. These are facts of life for cultures that lock up resources and, consequently, compete for those resources. This is a relatively recent model by which humans live – we did not always live in competition with each other and with the earth. For millions of years humans have managed to live without the creature comforts offered by technology. Less than one percent of our population continues to live without these innovations, cultures that would never even dream of locking up resources and selling off valuable, irreplaceable reserves. The irony is that we call them ‘primitive’ and ‘savage.’ The sad thing is that we are changing their cultures to be more like ours when it is them we must learn from.

Post #3 for Kate Marolt

The presenter on Tuesday was one of the first people who have come it to talk who I really agreed with, and who made me think critically about several assumptions I have about the world. He also went into depth about this idea of complacency within the green movement, something that I had been thinking about in terms of recycling and mentioned in my last blog post. His questioning of the LEED certification model also gave me a lot to think about. My sophomore year I was a Chicago quarter mentor for the class Green Chicago, and we talked a lot about LEED certification and visited the green building on North Avenue just past Damen. At that time it seemed incredibly revolutionary and amazing (and in many ways still is), but I never have really questioned if that is enough, or even the best solution. When Edward told us that LEED certified buildings only perform marginally better than 'normal' buildings, as well as the fact that the use of the building might actually be a lot more important than the ranking it receives based on a universal checklist. We have a tendency to stick with what works, and of course the LEED system is better than nothing, but just because it is a good idea and a step in the right direction doesn't mean that it is the end; in fact, I feel as if it is a very basic step in the right direction, a preliminary idea that will hopefully lead to better ideas, ones that start creating new systems rather than working within the same tired system.
I also think that the commitment to the understanding that our lifestyle will have to change is important if we are going to be able to begin to think of ways to create new systems. No matter how we look at it, society is going to have to start thinking of new ways to live and new ways to conceptualize space and ourselves within space. As hard of a question as it was, asking what we want to change first, rather than what do we have to change, is a much better way of looking at the world rather than applying fix-ups in patches to the current system. The next step seems to me to continuously try and conceptualize a world very different than our own, without thinking about boundaries or realities at the moment.
The critique of our texts was also very important, and something I believe to be critical to education and analysis- these books are both great, but it is necessary to look at the underlying ideologies of the authors or the message the books are trying to get across. There are a lot of great ideas in there, which is the first step, but no real steps toward actually having a lot of the things mentioned come about. Even in Massive Change, when talking about a lot of the new technologies, they still exist mainly in laboratories and in isolated situations. What is it going to take to successfully conceptualize, create, and implement ideas that will subvert our current system into something new, unthought of, and self-sustaining?

Blog 3

I really enjoyed Edward Ozimek as a speaker. I thought his presentation was both well thought out and aesthetically pleasing. I thought it was really great that he was familiar with our reading materials for the course and was able to relate what he was talking about back to what we have already read. It was also kind of cool to see him questioning some of the points that those authors brought to the table, because I feel like some of us have been doing the same things here in our blogs.

His critique of flaws within systems (food, architecture, recycling, etc.), were insightful and intelligent. Although he is an architect by discipline, it does not mean that he is not well versed in all of these other areas that are very important in the world we are living in. I think that oftentimes people become really comfortable in whatever niche they carved out for themselves and they stop asking questions, and stop trying to figure out what is going on around them (aside from the television news programs, of course). Edward Ozimek emphasized how imperative he feels it is to stay current with all sorts of issues going on around us. Personally, I feel that not taking things at face value is what makes you a smart consumer in society today, so I guess it’s nice to hear that echoed by someone who might have a bit more influence in the world; I would even say that was a major point in his presentation.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

blog 2

Rachel Markel

I feel like a point that Edward Ozimek brought up this week that ties into our discussion last week was when he was talking about how people should just get more comfortable with life.  He brought up that people should just get used to temperatures in their houses being not exactly what they want it to be.  He gave the example of how his neighbors would have their air conditioning running when they could easily open the windows and let the cool air in.  People are just so used to having their comfort set by artificial air.

I never had central air conditioning in my house when I grew up, so last year when I lived in the Clifton-Fullerton resident’s hall; the air conditioning was very extreme to me.  My roommate always had our air on in our room and I would be sitting in our room during the first few weeks of school in sweatshirts and heavy socks because I would be so cold in the room.

I feel like I have grown up without central air and I have managed just fine.  If everyone would take the advice to just let the natural air or fans cool you, they would eventually adapt to that. 

This year I live in a dorm that does not have the central air, and the beginning of school brought a lot of very warm days, but my roommate and I managed just fine.  I feel like if the option was just taken away, everyone would find a way to adapt and start the beginning of not wasting energy and resources on cooling a room that would be comfortable with a natural breeze.


I'm always very thankful when someone comes along and forces me to reconsider what I had previously understood to be the best solution to a problem or the best way to understand a situation. Most of the time its so obvious, but i'm so caught up in dwelling on my present solution (which is often unrealized) that I forget to question myself and the way i'm thinking. I feel that that is what Edward Ozimek did with his lecture.

Design forces me to have a positive attitude about its own possibilities- you have to believe in it in order to devote so much time and thought to it. For that reason, I love that he used the word 'bleak' several times with regard to architecture and design. It takes alot of wisdom and honesty to say that we can't always 'design ourselves out of a situation.' I actually feel a little relieved, that's quite a burden.

I have enjoyed the hope and positivity that Massive Change puts forth with its interdiscipline approach to design. I like that it doesn't say to revert to old ways but invites us to create new ways of solving important problems. I think that this attitude is useful in envisioning ways to create solutions to problems that we face right now. But the points that Edward Ozimek brought up seems to be a recurring tension between the role of the individual vs the grand design, or daily decisions vs. orchestrated/designed infrastructure. I was glad to hear a designer challenge the power of design and place some emphasis on the human element and daily life.


From the reading in Massive change about energy, Mau talks about energy from solar to thermal. I think though I like his positive thinking, the truth is, people will most likely go with what’s easiest, which at this time is coal or nuclear. The idea of solar energy is extremely uplifting, finding out that almost all energy on earth is from the sun. However, without the ability to easily get this energy, I think people are going to overlook it. If you ask the majority of people at DePaul, they find the solar panels in the quad extremely ugly. People want things to be easy and pretty, and so the idea of solar energy as a major source seems to be in the distant future. I think that peoples attitudes are going to need to change if we want to start taking advantage of alternative energy that doesn’t pollute.

I thought that the speaker on Tuesday, Edward Ozimek, was definitely one of the best speakers we’ve had thus far. His idea of constantly challenging the systems in place in order to progress them was great. I liked his thoughts on mixing old architecture built with materials such as stone and meshing them with the new. I also thought his idea that things are now built to only stand for 15-20 years, while older buildings were meant to stand forever. This seems to fit in with what society is doing now, building things that are meant to be thrown out.

Adam Rosenquist

Energy On the Go

In both of our required readings the idea of using solar energy is developed. The sun supplies more than enough energy everyday to meet current needs so it seems natural for humans to use solar energy. But then I started to imagine a world in which all energy is solar energy…
Just because solar energy would replace petroleum based energy does not mean that it will change humans’ greed and excessive use. I just imagined solar panels everywhere and no light shinning through. People trying to obtain as much space as possible in order to utilize it for collecting sunlight. Solar energy will/has the potential to become just as capitalistic as petroleum energy.
Humans need to change our way of living and control our energy use. I had never thought about how addicted humans are to energy. People all the time are walking around with energy plugged into their ears via IPODs. We use batteries so that we can take energy around with us and we move and travel. I had never thought about energy in this sense even though I use my IPOD everyday.
I believe that the solution is not substituting one source of energy to another source but to re-evaluate energy use all together. I am not saying that converting to solar energy is bad by any means; I am just saying that we cannot stop there. We need to take solutions to the next level and change our mindset and way of life.

Smart Design and Checklists

This week’s speaker coupled with the Massive Change readings on energy efficient economies made me think of ways in which we can harness design and innovation to become more efficient with the resources we have now. Much about renewable energy is about the future, it seems as though everyone is waiting for a breakthrough in technology, yet nobody seems to be thinking about what we can do now, with current technology. Our speaker shed some light on what he thought was most important in sustainable design, and how he though many of the difficult questions surrounding effective design don’t have definitive answers. I think Mau does a great job in making the point that there isn’t one solution. Each economy and each ecosystem has its own capabilities and pitfalls. For example, the city is not the most effective place for solar, but more rural lands are. And in Toronto they are harnessing new technology to use existing cold water to fuel air conditioners, saving 75% of the energy normally used. I feel as though these current engineering capabilities and the intelligence that designers now possess can create some change now, while we wait for the breakthrough were all anticipating.

On a different note, I felt our speaker’s interpretation of LEED was great. I like the idea of checklists being synonymous with the bear minimum. I also think it’s interesting looking back and thinking about the way that Bob Janis responded to some of our questions regarding DePaul’s grade on efficiency. He also admittedly did not agree with checklist criteria, or needing to adhere to a set of rules, but that same checklist was the thing that spurred some of the changes we have seen (green roof, composting, solar panels, etc.). So I wonder whether a checklist such as this does more good in the community or does it foster the sense of bear minimum success. For instance, without the checklist would we have done more with regards to sustainability, or continued to ignore it all together?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

There have been a lot of really good posts concerning the lack of effort truly being made at DePaul, as well as about the fact that the 'green movement' is not the first time that a lot of environmentally and ecologically based technologies have been around. On page 141 of Massive Change, at the beginning of the Material Economies section, it reads,
"Material has traditionally been something to which design is applied. New methods in the fields of nanotecnology have rendered material as the object of design development. Instead of designing a thing, we design a designing thing. In the process, we have created superhero materials and collapsed the age-old boundary between the image and the object, rendring mutable the object itself."

I think this shows a lot of how we have historically viewed nature and natural
resources, as something to apply our knowledge to, to render it to our will rather than to understand the materials we are working with and use them in a way that will make them better (more durable, stronger, more intelligent) and more like themselves. I am not entirely sure how to do this, but I think it is going to take a lot of letting go of long-standing assumptions that we have concerning production, manufacturing, efficiency, and even the nature of materials themselves. This is going to be tough to do as long we still have a 'more and bigger is better' mentality, because it IS actually going to require a different mode of thinking and a restructuring of our society, not to mention up-front costs. But this idea that if we design specifically for materials involved we will be able to do so much more with them, rather than mold them to our current way of thinking, shows that the possibilities are endless as long as we can actually get people to be open to something new.