You Learn Something New Everyday

This week we went over the topic of “environmental degradation.” I was also assigned the yes argument for this weeks assignment. At first, I was very confused as I have felt every time I open the newest assignment for the week. I will say this, I am learning a lot from this class about topics I never really understood before. After reading the yes argument my confusion was taken away. I understood how the author was referring to the poor as in the poor communities. I first thought the author was blaming poor people, which I thought was very interesting. However, I soon learned that the author was discussing the situation the poor community is automatically put into and how unfair it really is. As well as how much damage it does to our environment. I also learned that it is really hard for me to type out the word environment over and over again.

Something I really enjoyed from class and our discussion was touching in on the topic of big corporations. I really loved hearing everyones point of view. My take on it, is that if larger corporations really did help out the local poor communities it would be so beneficial for everyone as a whole. Rather than looking at how we can affect the whole nation, taking it piece by piece, or locally in this case, would make much more headway on repairing our environment. One thing I really enjoy about this class is getting to hear insight from each of my peers. Everyone comes from different walks of life and getting to hear about their opinion or even knowledge they’ve retained that I don’t yet know about is truly a blessing. I think this has reshaped my learning process, because it is very important to look at all perspectives when doing research or learning about a new topic. Listening to everyones different take on a situation just shows how we all can see one topic in twenty different lights.

The meditation we have been doing this week in class is amazing. I really appreciate the fact that Dr. Armstrong cares about each of us and our mental wellbeing especially being the time that we are in now. Never have I been so stressed during a semester, but even getting the small amount of time to relax and take a deep breath is a blessing. It really eases my mind. Dr. Armstrong advised us to take 10 minutes out of our day to meditate and I have been doing so every night before I go to bed. It really calms me down and is a great way for me to reflect on my day and get ready for the next. I have so enjoyed this class and I will be sad when it is over, but it has taught me a lot which I am so grateful for.

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The Best Gift Is The Gift of Giving

This past week was a real head scratcher. Our course topic revolved around environmental degradation. We talked about poverty and the many views on poverty. I’ve seen poverty and of many different kinds. Of many different places as well. I had read the “no” article of poverty and its relation to environmental degradation. As I was reading the poverty article, I was finding it hard to follow as the main argument wasn’t as clear as it needed to be. I needed more clarification and yet I never thought about the connection that poverty and the environment shared. The fascination of how problems create more problems is still not stuck in our minds and it’s just as important for us to understand. I’ve traveled to many places before and i’ve only noticed that the different areas affect the many situations of those that struggle in poverty. I’m saddened too. Because I know that our available resources are capable of helping and eliminating poverty all together. So why not take that step? To a better future for all people alike or different. It’s not hard to consider those around us as family or friends. Or is it hard to give a helping hand? It pains to see the world we live in today. The discussion in class time revolved around many different issues that relate to poverty. The class was digging into many sorts of questions like social standing, status, the environmental effects, rural vs urban, job availability, opportunities, and many more. I’ve been to Asia countless times. I’ve grown up knowing that I was someone that came from a different background. That I don’t need to worry about my next meal or that I don’t have to worry about sleeping on a dirt floor. I try to understand what might these families and kids that have to wait for another bowl of food but I can never. And it hurts to have to see others struggle. There is an understanding though that we turn the other way, pretending that we didn’t see anything. I wonder why because it’s obviously the wrong thing to do. To turn your own back on someone who is clearly calling for help. I was walking down a street in Paris and there were many people on the streets just begging for help and having to watch other people step around them. During the mindfulness time at the beginning of class. I wondered if other people are aware of what they do from time to time. I also wondered if they even have the time to wonder what’s around them since they live in such poor conditions compared to us students. Having to grow up in an environment that doesn’t provide much resources or to live with people who don’t know how to sustain the already limited supply is worrisome. The NO article talked about community building and aiding those in need.  As I read it, I thought yes, how hard is it to be able to pick someone off the streets and help them out. Give them the opportunity and that push of encouragement. People just need to have that support in order to move forward. We have to encourage the individuals that need it the most. I hope to make a difference in the future that will positively change the lives of many.

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Poverty = Environmental Issues?

This week’s class assigned reading and discussions definitely was quite shocking to read and hear. I was assigned the YES argument about how poverty is one of the main issues for environmental degradation. To be honest, before I read the reading I had no idea what “environmental degradation” meant. When I started reading I quickly learned what it was. My initial reaction when I saw the YES arguments title “Is Poverty Responsible for Global Environmental Degradation?” I was a little taken back. After having a better understanding of  what “environmental degradation” is, I was inferring that the author was simply just going to try to blame this major issue on poor people and communities. I had no background knowledge and while I kept reading my mindset and thoughts quickly changed. The author stated that poor communities are forced to go into unsustainable practices such as farming on marginal land or forestry because they cannot afford more sustainable productions. Without funding or a stable economy, the poor cannot do any sustainable practices. These unhealthy and unsustainable productions lead to soil degradation and erosion. Also I learned that with rapid population growth in poor communities and negative economic growth causes the poor to go down even farther. With a higher population, there is more stress on manufacturing and production which causes to use more natural resources. One question we were asked to answer in class was whether we think corporations should be involved and help the poor. While my initial answer was “yes,” I am not so sure anymore. In class, a fellow classmate answered the opposite of me and I really liked her answer. She thinks corporations should not be involved because based on history, once a large corporation gets involved lot of the time they expect something in return, they start controlling people, or use the situation to their advantage. It was nice to hear from someone who had a different perspective and I honestly now agree with her. She made such great points that I did not even think of. Based on this, I am happy to see how my thinking has been changing and growing. I think the discussions in class have been reshaping my thinking because I get to hear others’ thoughts and their perspective on the topic we are discussing in class.

Moving on to my last topic, meditation. In class, we have been doing a couple miniature meditation sessions and I love it! With everything going on and the circumstances I think the meditation sessions have been such a nice touch to class. I honestly feel calming and better after. This past week my dog, who was my best friend, passed away. I was feeling so down and lost. I am grateful to be able to have only online classes because I was able to go home and be with my family. But when it came to doing my classes alone in my room I was so anxious and had millions of thoughts running through my mind. I decided that perhaps this could be a good time to try the 10 min mindfulness practice. Right before class for most of the week I sat down and did a 10 min mindfulness meditation session and I think it has helped me with the grieving process. I have felt more at ease, less stressed and anxious. I will definitely continue to do some mindfulness practices in the future.

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Issues with Capitalism and Other News….

Class discussion has taken a philosophically fascinating and quite political turn. Recently, the class has brought up the ethics of the economy in the modern world. Whether the economy be a free market society or a government controlled entity, issues arise in the wake of either too much competition or too little. A free market operates in a similar if not identical fashion to capitalism, where the government provides little to no restrictions and a high amount of competition between businesses. This in turn creates consumerism culture which can be seen today in America’s culture. The opposite, a communist or completely government controlled economy, creates a lack of artistic inspiration and innovation. Both can cause severe social justice issues but the most important thing to note is consumerism is the root of many environmental issues. The constant demand for more and more depletes the local natural resources and large environmental disasters can result from these imbalances in the environment.

While consumerism is a large part of a designer’s life, the ability to sell a product that is sustainably conscious without going against what the client instructs is the hardest part. The ability to incorporate sustainable practice into legitimate buildings and other designs depending on the students major, is the most important takeaway from this class. These philosophies inspire and teach students to think and act in a way that not only reduces carbon footprint, but in ways that reshape how to view your profession.

Wicked Problems is a great class to have meaningful and thoughtful conversation when talking about the bigger issues of global warming, water pollution, and the larger problems in the near future. The discussions, while usually facilitated by Professor Armstrong, were able to happen on a more individual basis with the use of breakout rooms. This allowed me to ponder internal questions as well as ask other students their personal opinions on a more intimate level. This led me to some amazing conversations within my infographic group about the various political and environmental issues that were near and dear to my heart. Even when there was a disagreement it wasn’t accusatory, but rather a collection of varying opinions based on life experiences. This helped not only myself but many others in my group realize the true complexity of the subject and the large collections of theories on how to prevent natural disasters.

As I have said before, I am a skeptic at best for the effects of mindfulness but this week totally changed my view. The mindfulness exercise this week was a combination of mandala coloring and meditation. This exercise I really enjoyed because it allowed me to express my emotions through color as I process them. This was very effective for me at goal orienting myself towards success as well as reflecting on my responsibilities for the week. As I concentrated on my thoughts I couldn’t help but have my mind wander to simpler and less stressful times where school and Covid19 aren’t the most pressing subjects on my agenda. Overall however, this experience with mindfulness was enjoyable and I look forward to trying it again soon. 

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Yes or No?…

   The topic for this week was definitely one that was little harder to dissect and fully comprehend. I was assigned the NO reading and it was a little confusing as the author seemed to be more on the fence about things than fully on the no side. Although, after being split up into breakout groups, we all decided that after the bigger we agreed with yes. It was nice to be able to discuss such a wide topic that can be so complex and trigger so many different opinions and viewpoints about things. A major takeaway that I had from our discussion during class was that so many factors can go into this problem and at the end of the day, no matter which argument you agreed with, it really isn’t as simple as “yes, poverty causes environmental degradation” or “no it does not”. This is such a complex and deep topic.

   I think not only my learning itself, but the way I think about new problems has definitely been reshaped during my time in this course. It has been such a great experience to be in a class with such a wide variety of people and having the opportunities to share how we feel about issues going on in the world. Hearing other opinions that I might not have even thought about before makes me really question things and try to think about things in ways I have not. This class has also taught me that. To really think about things in new ways, and really trying to dissect problems going on around us every day. This class has also taught me to think so much deeper about things than I did before. Especially, me being a freshman, I know a lot of the people I have personally talked to in the class are older than I am. And it has definitely been really interesting for me to see how they think about things and how they describe situations and all of their opinions, as well. I think another thing that has sort of reshaped my thinking is all of the brainstorming during the breakout rooms! It’s such a great time to break things down even further with your group and really dissect the topic for that week. And it’s an awesome time to kind of take in how your peers see the problem and really think about it from that perspective as well.

   These past few weeks have been very, very stressful, as I am sure it has been for everyone. So, I have really been taking advantage of the mindfulness practice and taking time for myself. This week I made sure to take breaks and just go grab a coffee or listen to some music. Maybe take a quick nap! My favorite way to just take some time for myself is to just get outside. We do need Vitamin D after all! Plus, after being cooped up in my dorm all day, it feels nice to just be outside, getting some fresh air! Sometimes I even go and grab a bite to eat and just sit in my car with my sunroof open and it’s super relaxing! Also, taking time to hang out with my friends and see my family that is here in Stillwater. Self care is always important!

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Mind over Matter or Matter over Mind

Through the recent course material, I have begun to think about my everyday life and how I have been conditioned to believe everything is alright in the world. Every day we are taught that it will work itself out and that we don’t need to worry about it. Meanwhile we dump millions of pounds of trash, use countless pieces of paper, run the energy bill up, and throw plastic away. Each of these acts contribute to the downfall of the environment. We must be taught separately how to be environmentally friendly and work excessively hard to do so. There are only a few courses that actually teach the importance of saving the environment and how we could live sustainably. I am lucky enough to be in a major that sustainability is at the forefront and encourages each student to think and design towards what is most sustainable. Beyond just the sustainability of the Earth, we especially forget about people. Living in the United States conditions its people into believing we are the best and there’s nothing that can stop us. We live our happy lives with plenty of park space, plenty of nature to enjoy, but we forget about the countries that we use as primary imports that don’t have this luxury. We get caught up in our own luxuries and forget about the thousands of people that we let mine, harvest, and produce our materials from their own natural resources so that we can keep ours. We are directly impacting countries that aren’t as developed as us to “help” them develop to better countries. This will not be the case if we let them continue to use up their resources just to ship them away. We must take advantage of all the items we throw away every day and begin to recycle them to produce our own supplies. This will indeed take business out of these countries, but may encourage them to develop themselves to a point where they can keep their environment and help citizens live better lives. My mindfulness activities this week have including more sketching and drawing to take my mind off the crazy world around me. I have been quarantined for the past two weeks and it seems it would be easy to have time to yourself to practice mindfulness, however it is quite the opposite. The time alone is spent on our phones and distracting ourselves from our mind. We no longer contain the ability to just sit and think. It’s okay to be bored and rely on our own thoughts to entertain us in the means of reflectance. Practicing mindfulness each day helped me through quarantine and encouraged me to be a better version of myself while I was working on homework.

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Blog Tree

As a non-fashion major I’ve had to look at the recent topic from a different point of view. It seems that most of the issues I have viewed from a geopolitical standpoint also exist as sustainability issues. For example, I am a fan of the free market. I believe it is the best vehicle for ensuring people have opportunities to be upwardly mobile in their wealth. However, the free market is NOT a god. You cannot derive morals from it. An example of where good morals must be applied in this system is in the area of consumerism. This is most obviously seen in the fashion industry. Styles go in and out of vogue keeping people on a treadmill working simply to buy a new thing. It slowly kills the soul and so people attempt to fill themselves with more junk. I had been so caught up in the psychological effects I’d totally neglected the physical effects. I’d always detested the sweatshops because of the violation of the worker’s natural rights, but never thought of what those did to their communities. How they could poison their homes and strip their land bare. It gave me more arrows for my quiver.

I’ve recently learned how different each individual person is raised across just those in my class. Each home holds its own culture. My home had a culture of constant discussion over ideas of how things came to be. A constant look at history to try and see what put us here. I’ve realized that not all homes had the same curiosity into that subject. It seems most families focused on other things. I realized this because as we discuss our topics in class some of these ideas are so new to many of my classmates. This is not meant to be insulting as I don’t know the first thing about fashion or interior design. I am a babe in the woods to the point that I needed to look up certain terms used in discussion. It’s made me realize that context is so important to any assertion. A good example of this is in the language difference that is created by what industry dominates your area. I come from the oil field where if a greeting must involve an insult otherwise you’re up to something. Where my friends from cities, whose parents work in a more corporate environment (less abrasive places in general), first heard me greet them in the way I greeted my friends back home and got their feelings hurt. I learned quickly that there really is no place like home.

My mindfulness practice this week was returning to a simple habit that I haven’t done in quite a while. I took a blank page and evenly filled it with circles. Allowing my mind to focus on my heart beat making it slower. After that I began to render an image using more circles. This was basically automatic as I just prioritized my week. It ended up being a smiley face.

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Poverty, Community, and Self Reflection

This week for my mindfulness practice I decided to simply take some quiet time to myself. I actually took my four-hour drive home to Frisco, Texas for break this past Saturday. After a hectic hour of moving my belongings out of the sorority house I was ready to slow down and enjoy my soothing drive home. I was at peace knowing that I was about to spend much needed time with my family and get back to my favorite job at a boutique. There was also stress and fear in the back of my mind as the semester is coming to a close and finals are just around the corner. I tried to focus on the positives, as I knew that my mind would control my emotions and how I would spend my four-hour drive. I chose to stay happy and mindful about my current situation and where I was headed! I was able to sit back, relax, enjoy some of my favorite music and even a podcast that was MUCH needed! This podcast that I just happened to stumble upon actually opened my eyes to things that I had never seen before. It was almost like a come to Jesus moment that I did not see coming! I spent time reflecting on my semester thus far and just how far I have come since moving to Oklahoma as a nervous little freshman. I am so grateful for all of the opportunities that I have been given here and I cannot wait to see where my journey takes me.

            As for our discussion this week, poverty and attacking this subject while improving the environment was the topic of conversation. I read an argument examining the subject from the NO side of things. As I read and then began conversing with my team members we came to the conclusion that community is key when it comes to a subject such as poverty. We all know that two is better than one although it may take a village to overcome this obstacle of poverty and it may in fact be inevitable. As a community we need to take action on this subject and decrease the overall numbers within. I thought our discussion concerting rural vs. urban poverty was interesting… one team member brought up the fact that New York as an urban area has more poverty than we could ever imagine. Although it is more fast paced and high class, I believe that people care less. Those who live in the relaxed and slow paced rural environments can be placed into this social standard of poverty that they are unable to change. Some individuals could have been born into these living conditions and are doing their best to stay alive, this is where community needs to step in and take action!  

Another discussion during class that stuck out to me was focused on natural resources and how they impact our fields, such as a merchandiser or designer. We are a nation that is always focused on the next big thing and we get so caught up in what is ahead of us that we do not realize what is right in front of us. Natural resources need to become more normal and comfortable for the fashion industry. We have so many raw materials that we encounter daily that slip right over our heads because we are too focused on the future! I believe this can all relate back to our conversation a couple of weeks ago concerning living IN the moment! It is so crucial to focus on what we have here and now, not worrying about things in the past or what may lie ahead. Even within the fashion industry, we need to get creative and realize that what we have may be just as or more important than something coming in the future! This is a simple reminder to use your time wisely, take control of your negative thoughts, and take some time to reflect on whom you are and how far you have come!!

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Poverty – Both a Cause and Result?

The course topic this week was extremely interesting to me, as well as more difficult to understand than the past topics. Our introduction to the question of whether poverty is responsible for environmental degradation was a reading in which the no and yes sides of the argument were discussed and explained. I was assigned to read the YES argument, and I will admit that the concepts were extremely difficult for me to grasp. In my reading, it seemed that the author took a lot of time to explain the meaning of poverty, but he explained very little about how poverty was connected to environmental degradation. Because I was so confused, it was super helpful to have the ideas discussed in our virtual class. Through the class discussion, I was able to find a few major takeaways on the topic. Firstly, I learned that there are two main ideas as to how to approach the issue of poverty – one is to let corporations take leadership and the other is to work as communities instead of letting corporations lead the charge. After discussing the two sides with my breakout group, I came to the conclusion that I side more with the latter idea, that communities should do what they can to change poverty rather than corporations. We thought that if large corporations were to take control of the poverty situation, they would expect something in return and not actually be doing it for the betterment of society. Another big takeaway from the topic this week was simply the idea that poverty has connection to environmental degradation. In the past, I thought that those with money contributed the most to things like waste and pollution. I never considered how poverty may affect the earth. An interesting point the author made is the yes reading was that poverty is both a result of environmental degradation as well as a cause. This sentence really stuck out to me and screamed “wicked problem”. It goes to show how difficult it is to rid society of poverty, but also shows how important it is that we try.

I always learn so much more by discussing the topics in the breakout groups as well as hearing other student’s ideas as a whole class – I especially like hearing from Lucas! He always brings new points to the discussion and brings up things I haven’t yet considered. I believe my thinking is reshaped every time we have class discussion. Although this week’s reading was hard for me to understand, without hearing other ideas I would’ve simply gone along with that I read and believed that corporations should help take care of poverty.

This week has been super busy and stressful for me – I’ve had more assignments than usual along with work, pom practice, and activities with my friends as we close out the semester. Taking time to meditate and practice mindfulness this week did so much for me and my mental health. I decided to follow a guided meditation, much like the ones we’ve done in class. I find it hard to focus if I’m not being told what to do and reminded when to breathe. I’m so glad that I’ve been introduced to mindfulness practice because I find that it makes me feel so much calmer and at ease.

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Poverty and the Environment: What’s the Relationship?

This week’s class raised very interesting questions and led to a thought-provoking discussion about the relationship between poverty and the degradation of the environment.  The question that seemed most difficult to respond to was: is the relationship between poverty and the environment direct or indirect? I will be honest to say that before reading the article and listening to the discussion about poverty and the environment, this topic is something that typically goes undiscussed or overlooked in my circle of friends, but now I can see the value and importance of being able to work through difficult and uncomfortable conversations and how these kinds of conversations are essential for there to be change in society. 

During the in-class discussion, there were two sides of the argument of whether there is a direct relationship between the environment and poverty. The “Yes” perspective argued that poverty does indeed have a direct relationship with the degradation of the environment, because it is the poor who are having to survive and live by the primary economic activities, which is ultimately placing a strain on natural resources and hurting the environment. I was on the “No” side of the argument, which was that while there is undeniably a relationship between poverty and the environment, there is not necessarily a direct relationship between the two. The article I read which defends the argument that there is not a direct relationship, supports the idea that the relationship between poverty and the environment is much more complex and requires people to look at the problem with a locally drawn understanding. Throughout the discussion in class, we addressed many different possible improvements that could be made in our society concerning poverty and whether those improvements should be supported and financed by the government or should be more dependent upon the community of people who are impoverished. In my breakout discussion group, we discussed and agreed that while there should be support from the government on making improvements to the poorer communities, we need to place our focus more on educating the people about the environment and showing them ways to improve their communities. One takeaway from the article that stuck with me is that we need to remember that the people living in poverty have just as many rights as anyone else and we need to treat them and form relationships with them with that in mind. Overall, I really enjoyed this article and this week’s discussion in class because it ultimately showed me that there will most likely always be inequalities and financial insecurity in our society, because we do not live in a perfect world. Yet we have opportunities to love and help others through building relationships and investing in the lives of people who may not look like us, have the same life experiences, or the same financial means of living.

This week I enjoyed the mindfulness practice, which was finding a quiet place to be still and to color a mandala. However, it was hard for me almost to ease my mind completely, just because Tuesday had been super busy. I felt like even during the mindfulness practice, I was not able to quiet my thoughts and be still. However, coloring the mandala did allow me to just enjoy a moment to myself in silence and it was very enjoyable. 

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