Save the World or Keep the Lights On?

Alternative Title: “How it’s Not My Fault the World is Falling Apart at the Same Rate My Shoes Are.”

I never thought there would be someone out there with the opinion that the environment is degrading because of poor people. When first glancing at the readings’ title. What was I about to delve into? WHAT WAS I BEING MADE TO READ?? 

It turns out that in a much softer way, that is what the argument was implying. I was assigned the “NO” argument which made me feel a little better but very worried over what the “YES” argument was saying. A preconceived notion I had about some of the economics problems was that the 1% was a problem and that big corporations could destroy the environment and not care as long as they profited off of it. And while that might ring true to some extent, it isn’t the only part of the problems our world has in this regard. 

Learning about rural poverty and urban poverty was very enlightening to me. I didn’t know that so many health issues could be traced to pollution or the way that other people used the resources in urban settings that affected those living in impoverished conditions. I never thought about how pushing those who can’t afford living in a certain area and them relocating to a less stable environment can have detrimental effects on their livelihood and on the environmental stability at stake. 

In my reading, there were many suggestions listed that I found would be really effective and helpful for all of these situations- in theory. While reading through these, I knew there couldn’t be such simple solutions or else they would be implemented in places all over the world, especially in America, where we don’t see as many of these programs taking place. I was right. None of these were “Perfect Solutions” and shouldn’t be treated as such. 

When discussing in our small groups, I was very fortunate to be in one with a friend I could work with in a seamless way, as well as some classmates I found easy to talk to. We discussed Co-Investing, which was something I was very confused about in the readings and even mentioned on the pad link sent out. By talking with my group and discussing how we felt about it, we believed that Yes, larger corporations should coinvest in communities like the example given in Chile. 

The Government/ Company only pays for 10% of it, but still gives the community it’s supporting enough stability to flourish. We believed that this method of co-investing would provide inclusion to all people and allow for economic growth. By doing so, there could be more investment done in sustainable practices to be implemented across the economy and hopefully become a normalcy we see in everyday life. This week’s topic gave me new insights to the possibilities of creating ways to solve not only environmental problems in our world, but also social problems that tie into it, as poverty does. 

I know that with a lower income, it means there are less options for you as a consumer. You can’t afford a long lasting and quality item so you go for the cheaper version that can break easily in favor of paying the electricity bill. This lesson gave me a great deal of insight, and left me with many more questions. I’ll have to do some research on my own in hopes of better understanding this grappling concept of accountability and affordability. 

By expanding my mindfulness activities into 10 minutes, I’ve actually found my thoughts to be more focused. I find that after years of suffering from attention deficit, it is easiest to do a monotonous task while listening to a lecture or learning something new. The coloring page practice we did this week in class was a great example of this. It allowed me to put all my unused energy into something constructive so my mind could focus on the words being spoken more clearly throughout the lesson. Some examples of what I’ve done in the past have been coloring, stringing beads, knitting, lacing up shoes, folding clothes, sorting small items, and more. 

I’ve done this method for a while, but since beginning online lessons, it’s become incredibly difficult to focus fully and get the full experience. Do not misunderstand, I’m still paying attention and learning in these classes, but I find it to be difficult with so many distractions around me. I hear the explanation and context of fashion in sustainability but I’m staring at my wall with a poster on it that’s reminding me that I need to call my mom to tell her about noise complaints on the other side of said wall, and when I call her I’m going to have to remember to ask her when I can come home next and when I come home I want to do something with my sister and now I need to ask my sister how she’s doing and all of the sudden I’m in a breakout room with only ¾ of an idea of what to discuss. By focusing all those background thoughts into this string of glass beads, I can fully focus my attention on the important lessons I’m learning and know exactly what’s going on all the time. 

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Making the change

My mindfulness practice this week has been super not where I’ve been wanting it to go. I have not been able to meditate and take that time to just not think about anything and remind myself to take that time. I worked on a graphics project which consumed most of my time throughout this week and last week. Especially during that time I wish I had taken time to just listen to my worship music playlist and just meditate on everything and release my stress. On Tuesday when we had a class I was reminded to take that time and which I did the day after I finished my project and was able to finally breathe and not be so consumed with that class. Taking those 10 minutes to just calm myself are very essential especially if I want to give my best performance in every class and be the best version of myself everyday. 

The past two classes we have been discussing about sustainability in fashion and poverty. It was interesting talking about this in my breakout rooms and seeing how people see each thing. Learning how most clothing businesses don’t really take in consideration how fast fashion affects the planet and its environment is insane. Not just in the clothing industry but in any other idea, for example, “ fashion trends” can be discussed as how when one new thing is innovated and the other old model isn’t the best quality anymore, it causes people to buy the new product. Even though it benefits them economically by selling more it doesn’t environmentally.

The topic over poverty is still such an ongoing issue and an issue that is an endless cycle of negative outcomes. Rural and urban areas deal with poverty differently since each location has different kinds of resources they lack. The struggle of trying to figure out if there will be enough for the upcoming generations is a question that is asked numerous times. Poverty is such a huge issue that is going on in most countries. It’s hard to know where to start and how to solve it with such a huge population of people. Each type of community has to deal with this globalized issue that it can take a very long time for everyone to be on the same page to actually better the community. 

I have reflected a lot on these two topics on how I can make a difference in these areas. Looking into the products I purchase is somewhere I can start actually taking the time to look into how they make the clothes and how it is benefiting the planet is key. Educating myself on knowing it is good for the planet and also benefiting it, is something I think everyone struggles with. Thinking about poverty I questioned a lot on how we got to the point where our planet is at and what can really fix the issue. Being on this planet and seeing its beautiful views and aspects should really motive everyone to be on the same page and do something about the things hurting it.

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Corporate Greed vs. Poverty

We all know that the waste we create damages the environment. However, we hardly ever think about it. I bet that almost anyone you ask would say that recycling is good and that we need to reduce the amount of waste that litters the earth ecosystems. However, the number of people in that group that would be able to say they actually actively do something to fix that would be quite low.

In our weekly reading, it discussed an interesting topic that I had never really considered. It talked about how poverty was a leading cause in the degradation of the environment. People with lower incomes and impoverished areas rely more on the land’s resources. They rely almost completely on agriculture, mining, forestry, etc. One of the things that I discussed in my group was how the reason that poor people rely on the resources of the land to make money and survive is because they do not have access to the things that they need. Now that seems like a reiteration of what it means to be poor. However, it means more that being poor isn’t really a choice. It isn’t something that they can just escape. While they don’t have the resources they need, they also don’t have access to any ways to better the situation or draw themselves out of the cycle. Poverty is not just about lacking items, it is about lacking a place to go to get out of poverty.

In the YES side of the reading, it talked about how the cycle of poverty would continue to degrade and hurt the environment, that we need solutions put in place to help end this cycle and in turn help the environment. In our class discussion we talked about whether or not corporations should intervene and help assist the poor. My group decided on yes, because they have plenty of money and resources that should not be kept to themselves rather spread out to the people who need it, creating environmental stability. However, one thing that came to my mind was the greed of big corporations. People who are in charge of corporations and have great wealth only want more and more. The first thing on most of their minds isn’t helping people, let alone the poor. So, most likely, this system would not work out because the odds of them agreeing to give portions of their resources and money away is unlikely. 

One thing that I have been enjoying this week is the mindfulness activities I have done. We were challenged to up our mindfulness practice time to 10 minutes a day rather than 5, so each day before bed, I would find a 10 minute meditation to do as relaxation and to clear my mind before I slept. Another thing that I have started up again is mindfulness journaling. I used to journal everyday, but as I got busy I stopped. This class however has got me back into doing it again so that I can connect with my thoughts and get them out on paper so that they aren’t filling my mind as I am trying to sleep. 

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The Never-Ending Cycle

This week we continued the conversation on sustainability. Specifically, we were discussing the concept of poverty and sustainability. Some things that we began discussing were how poverty was an endless cycle that could be both a direct cause of environmental degradation and a direct effect of environmental degradation. A few of my peers defined primary economic activities as activities that had to do with the Earth’s natural resources. These activities are vitally important to poorer people living in mostly rural areas. I was able to contribute to the group discussion by adding that poor people living in these rural areas must depend on primary economic activities to survive. The downside to this is that they are unable to control how much they are using and, in some cases, run out of resources. We then threw out the question, what happens then? What happens when their resources run out in rural areas? I thought this was a very interesting question and there were a few solutions proposed by my classmates. I, personally, was very puzzled by this question. I thought the solution for them to go to an urban area was interesting. I began to think about how they would get there, if they would like it, and if they would make enough to earn a living there. These people living in rural areas have a set idea about what they can do, what they want to do, and how to perform certain tasks. I had a solution to this problem that I would like to share. Perhaps, there could be some sort of organization or corporation that goes into these rural communities, where primary economic activities are taking place, and share with them how to be more sustainable. I know this solution has many challenges to it, but it is just an idea I had.

I had a few takeaways from this week, but one that I kept coming back to was the topic of poverty. I first began to reflect on what classifies a person into poverty. How do you cross the poverty line? I know there are many facts and statistics about the poverty line, but I was taking time to reflect on certain factors that can cause you to enter poverty. Some of these factors are wicked problems themselves such as drug use, loss of income, etc. Once I gave that some thought, I began to think about the cycle of poverty. Specifically, how it seemed to be a never-ending cycle. There is no one good way to solve it and it seems like every proposed solution has its challenges. That is what makes it a wicked problem. I was also reflecting on poverty as it relates to sustainability. The economically stable people have much easier access to sustainability practices than the poor do. How can we help the poor have better access to sustainability? I believe we all care about the environment, so why are we not all working together to save it. I know this is all easier said than done but I was just left thinking about these things. 

In regards to my mindfulness practices this week, I was able to squeeze in ten minutes of mindfulness. As the semester continues, it gets harder and harder to find time to practice mindfulness and relax. However, for ten minutes I listened to a guided meditation. This meditation has to do with breathing as I was feeling frantic about my work this week. We took a breath in as the circle in my mind expanded and breathed out as the circle retracted. After the mediation, I felt much calmer, focused, and prepared to work.    

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Thinking in my Life

I had hoped that this week, I would be out of this mood slump that I’ve been in but I haven’t really reached the end of it. Of course I am aware that things will get better but for now, I’m doing okay, I realize how much we affect others in our community and even if we don’t realize it, how we use and dispose of resources and waste has a domino effect that starts after we remove it from out home.

While finding resources for our first out of class assignment I had known that sweatshops were a thing and that when clothes are disposed of, they most likely end up in a landfill or on some other shore. Yet even though I knew this was happening, I didn’t put much thought into my daily life and even still I don’t put as much thought into it today. I found two intriguing articles that talked about sweatshops and its affect on the economy and how waste is moved to somewhere else. Overall, they were very impactful, and I wish shifting to a better and more sustainable lifestyle was easier and more available to do. With me trying to recycle boxes and throw away trash but no where near my dorm does it allow me to dispose of cans and bottles properly.  Reading those two articles makes me want to be more resourceful and more environmentally friendly but I’m stuck in the mindset of “I’m just one person, what could I possibly change”.

Another thing that brought more attention to me was talking about the poor and how they possibly effect the environment but even after reading those articles, I believe that the poor don’t have a lot of control over their waste because they don’t have access to options that allow more recycling in their areas and for rural poor, they live off of what they make and when they run out of resources or lose those resources, they’re stuck and can’t really do much. Big corporations make a lot of money and most of those big corporations poor waste or chemicals from their factories into nature. I feel like instead of fully saying “ the poor are directly connected to the environment failing”, it should be “big corporations are obviously more at fault because most are greedy and unwilling to change even though they have the ability to”.

I’m excited to work on this infographic because I think it will help me realize more about waste in the fashion industry and how certain solutions are possible but reaching those solutions is a different story. These articles that we’ve been reading have been eye-opening and allowed me to realize how much we rely on the fashion industry and how much that hurts our environment as well. And I feel bad exposing myself but I haven’t kept up with my mindfulness practices. If being mindful was taking my mind off and playing Animal Crossing or watching videos mindlessly just to have some noise in my room then I’ve definitely been doing those practices but as far as meditation and letting ideas pass and just sitting and breathing, I’ve failed.

With this class slowly wrapping up and this semester speeding by, I can’t help but worry about the future and what will happen if things don’t change. This class has brought so much attention to things I had never thought of but I’m glad I have taken this class and I will definitely keep in mind everything we’ve talked about.

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The Pace Space and Empathic Growth

Although we didn’t get to fully watch any of the Ted Talks in class, I liked the concepts that they brought up in the sections that we did get to watch.  One thing that really stuck with me from one of the talks was what Marc Kushner said: “Architecture is not about math or zoning – it’s about visceral emotions.” I think this stuck with me because it’s something I agree with and something that they teach us. That one of the big parts of the design process is that first impression of the building for a new user. What kinds of emotions are you trying to evoke by the shapes, colors, and materials you choose. This type of instinctual emotional reactions are the ones that we as architects are trying to create. And I hope to keep this specific Ted Talk in mind as I start to design. I feel like I started doing this in the design slam from last class. I really enjoyed participating in the design slam. My team got to design for a 9 year old named Sarah that likes going to school, but is fidgety due to her ADHD. The first thing we did as a group was brainstorm all of the things that we do went we feel fidgety and what things we do as adults to help keep us from fidgeting. We then did some quick internet search about proven strategies to help with fidgeting and the hyper-activeness that comes with ADHD. From there we started spit balling ideas and came up with The Pace Space as well a customizable desk that allows for students to choose to sit, stand, or kneel, and can wiggle around without disturbing other students. The Pace Space consists of many things. The main part of The Pace Space is a designated space in the back of the classroom to allow students such as Sarah to be active and move around and not disrupt other students but still be able to learn. Things that go in this space are an adjustable standing height desks for students to still have their work in front of them, a large window to connect the student to nature as well as natural light, and small objects to quietly fidget with such as stress balls, fidget spinners, fidget cubes, etc. Our main concern with the design for this space is to enforce the feeling of safety and inclusion. We wanted the child that needed to use this space not to feel like something was wrong with them or that they were ‘bad’ kids because they continuously get into trouble with the teacher for not sitting still. Working through this problem really goes to show how much empathic design has started to change the way I think during the design process. I have really started to think about the different kinds of users and the different things that might be problematic for them, especially in studio. Currently in studio I am doing predesign research on ADA requirements and inclusive design for our next project on designing a Maggie’s Center in Amsterdam. This class has really prepared me to do this kind of research because I started thinking past just the requirements. I have started thinking about how accessible doesn’t mean separate and how I can make the experiences that a disabled person has just as welcoming and special as all the other users of the upcoming project. I feel like I have come a long way in just 5 weeks. And it really is true what the authors said in the first article we read for class; that learning to think empathically takes practice.

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If the Planet were a Brownie and We’re the Bakers, Where is our Chocolate Coming From?

Hello, readers and classmates!

                Since the semester started, we have discussed everything from global collapse to globalization to recently – the big industries that cause many of the environmental problems from the last few weeks! In these last two weeks, we have discussed fashion and poverty’s impact on the degradation of (or opportunities for?) the environment.

                Starting with the topic of fashion, two weeks ago we were given an article about the fashion industry and the hidden opportunities it presents. We are all familiar with “fast fashion” and its detrimental effect on the environment through incredible waste. But Walker, the author of this particular article, tries spinning it a new way: because fashion is constantly evolving, perhaps it can evolve to slowly make people more aware of sustainability issues. This was the basis for Walker’s argument that fashion can make the world a better place over time. Perhaps there is some merit to this argument; it is, after all, becoming more and more popular to support ethical brands like Patagonia, or even small businesses from developing countries. One of the most interesting arguments brought up during class discussion was that if companies make long-lasting clothes, they will take even longer to decompose when they are inevitably in a landfill. While this is true, what I would have loved to contribute and discuss even more was how this thinking only contributes more to the toxic cycle of producing cheap and fast products that must be forcibly replaced by consumers. Embracing fast fashion, no matter in what way, embraces the means that got us where we are today, which is ultimately problematic. Though this is something that I brought to my group during discussion, it felt a little lost on everyone I talked with. Even if consumers are eventually swayed toward more sustainable fashion and it takes a couple decades, do the ends really justify the means?

                Our more recently topic of poverty brought localized environmental issues to the forefront as we debated “does poverty contribute to environmental degradation?” My article argued that, yes, it does, and this week I agreed. People in poverty are forced into “ecological activities,” such as fishing, mining, deforesting, or any other activities that harm the environment. These activities are a necessary evil for economic well-being and development. So, when asked in small group discussion whether corporations should help contribute to people in poverty in order to minimize environmental degradation, the answer was clear for most: obviously, helping the poor is a great thing to do either way. However, something that I brought to my group was the caveat that helping the poor isn’t the only thing that big industries should be doing to reduce environmental damage; they should also be eliminating single-use packaging, improve their processing, and treat their employees more ethically. This is how real environmental change will occur – not by helping the poor help the environment, but by making strides to be more conscious themselves.

                In my mindfulness practice over the last two weeks, I have tried to think more this way as well. As stated in my last blog, I have been practicing mindfulness in action rather than meditatively – through trying to be more conscious of what I’m buying and contributing to environmental degradation. Over the last two weeks, I’ve tried to maintain focus on staying mindful at stores, throughout the day as I consume products or information, and when I’m just thinking in my own down time. Practicing mindfulness in action has been incredibly beneficial for me as a human to feel more connected to my own footprints on the planet, and it is something I’ll continue to practice long after this course is over.

                I’ll finish this blog series with another all-important dessert analogy for all my sweet-toothed fans, and this one seems like the most important thus far. If our planet were a brownie, and the chocolate was the manufacturers, we bakers would need to make sure we got the best chocolate possible to make those brownies turn out amazing. With bad, overprocessed, or toxic (in this analogy) chocolate, there’s no way to produce good brownies. Manufacturers that contribute to environmental degradation are a massive part of the issue of how our planet is turning out. It’s our responsibility, as bakers (consumers), to demand and support better manufacturing practices so our brownies (environments) are the best they can be.

                Thanks for reading, bakers, and remember – you chose your ingredients. Catch you next time in our final blog post!  

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Vote Out Poverty

Splitting into our different breakout room, my group immediately agreed with the concept of business investing into poor/impoverished areas to improve. It is helping the poor and depending on how the business invests their money, the impoverished places could start to thrive both environmentally and economically. While we were typing out our answers, I mentioned that this would only work if these companies and businesses had a good moral compass and did not exploit their workers, similar to how Nike manufactures their products in third countries for a cheaper price. We all agreed once again, but we did not go into depth on this issue. Once we typed out the answer on the jamboard, that was it. There was no more discussion because it seemed simple enough. These big brand businesses have enough money to fund and invest in multiple cities where everyone is under the poverty line. Why should they not help? These places are slowly destroying our environment, but it is not their fault our economy and society will not let them advance forward with the rest of society. The majority of the power to help these people are within the 1% of society that have the money. Despite the surface issues coming from companies and businesses, the rooted issue is our morals and what we have to do v.s what we need to do.

Going into morals, everyone knows that business and companies only make decisions that will make them grow both in the company and money wise. It has even happened today, as big corporations start to market on social media and cater their content for the younger generation (I specifically mean us, generation Z.) We know they do not have our best interest, it is only a marketing scheme to make us spend money there. So why do we still fall for it? Knowing all of these companies have the resources to fund/ invest in employment opportunities for people in poverty but they decided not to, how are we repeatedly letting them make us fall for their act? It is easy to point at government officials and state they are the main source of multiple businesses unbalanced power, but we as a society voted them into those positions. Our government system is flawed and should be changed, yet we always work around it. Similar to poverty, the whole system is rigged for these people, but rather than trying to fix the system, we work around it with organizations or volunteer at Food Banks to help them. I am not hating on these organizations as I have stated before, it is not their fault they have to create these organizations to just help people. In a class of designers, we do not have a hand in making certain laws and policies to help people in poverty, but we do have our voice. Oh wow, what a coincidence! Voting is just around the corner and what a better way to voice your opinion than voting for someone that advocates for your morals. Voting is not the only thing we can do as a society to make out voices be heard, but it is the right step into it. Did I write this whole thing paragraph just to tell you to vote? 😉

I think medicating did not calm me down, but rather it has had the opposite effects. When I medicate, I go out and skate around campus, listening to rap music. I do not know if it is the rap music or if medicating has made me in touch with my anger, but this whole week has been a rant-fest for me. It is pretty relaxing afterwards, so maybe it is helping me.

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Problems In Design

In my group the past two weeks we have had really deep conversations about Wicked problems in the fashion and interior design industries. Everyone had good points and different ways of looking at the problem. In the fashion and sustainability reading I learn the author defines the term fashion as which is current. The term fashion is commonly used to define clothing but can also define customs, mannerisms, music and styles of products and material Goods. The author went on to talk about how fashion implies change and that if something is in fashion it soon will no longer be. As designers it is important to have the mindset of long-lasting products and encourage durability throughout the Fashion World.  if long lasting products were encouraged, more sustainable practices would develop in the fashion industry. In the reading I was introduced to the idea of designing for humility. Designing with humility is to assume that whatever we designed for today will not be appropriate in the future. This practice places as little burden on the planet as possible to promote healthy and improved work. To embrace economic viability there has to be a balanced approach . Another term that stuck out to me was designer excellence which is the idea that designers are challenged to balance and integrate creative ways to combat issues of sustainability in design excellence designers have to learn to use the less what is rare and more of what is readily available to have a lesser impact on the ecosystem. Products produced with more sustainable paradigms will of course be different from what we are used to but it is the only way to start to reverse the effect on the environment. 

For the reading  in taking sides clashing views in sustainability I read the yes author’s  article. The article addresses the integrational equity to which the party is currently related to the current state of globalization in the article the author argued that poverty and the poor are responsible for global environmental  degradation. Enabling the poor to gain control over the resources and to capture a large portion of the central revenue will better develop the system’s marketing and payment for environmental services. This would better the current state of globalization by remaining very close to somewhat market based growth variation of industrialization. The article also focused on the role of the poor and how it is much harder for them than urban poor. New jobs will be created in urban areas and not rule.  In rural areas once the natural resources run out the rule poor must move to different locations in order to continue making money off of natural resources. In the group discussion over If corporations should invest in the world poor of the way to reduce environmental degradation my group argued they shouldn’t.  Our argument for this is that it is in the corporation’s DNA to make money. Telling a corporation that they should invest in the world portal to produce their environmental impact does not mean that they will do that. There has to be a middle man to regulate and police what the corporations do and set a standard  so corporations cannot make an already bad situation worse.

Over the past two weeks I have continued with my mindfulness practice every evening. I found that each day it gets easier to push everything out of my mind and focus on what is around me. Over the past couple of weeks I feel that it is easier for me to focus and my stress levels have been reduced greatly . Even after this class ends I feel that I will probably continue with the mindfulness practice everyday. 

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How society views the poor

This past week’s reading was very interesting to me. The thought that poverty-stricken people might have an influence on environmental degradation was a very confusing concept for me to grasp. I was assigned the ‘Yes’ article. The author brought up the point that there are differences between rural and urban poor and that they both affect the environment differently. I have never thought about the poor in that way before. As a society, I think that when we think of the poor our mind just goes to the average stereotypes, like living on the streets or under bridges in tents, not how they are affecting the envirnment. But in reality, there is urban and rural poor. The urban poor has more access to necessities than the rural poor, most likely making it easier to be in that urban poor category. I think that the rural poor has more of an affect on the environment than the urban poor. Rural poor are farming and maintaining crops, and when thise crops run oit, they are just picking up and leaving creating a hole that they are digging themselves deeper into and harming our environment in the process.

When my discussion group was posed with the question of ‘Should corporations help with the problem of poverty’, my group was a little conflicted. The right thing to say and do would be yes, but it is not that simple. I contributed to the group by pointing out that corporations have the means, resources, and influence to help with the poor community, but none of the big corporations have done that yet.  Major corporations are some of the leading causes of environmental degradation in our country, and I think that they should use their means to solve their own problems before blaming it on others and using their resources in that way. One thing that I did not bring up in my group was the view that society has on the poor. Our culture views them as charity cases and people that they are helping not because they want to but because they fell they have too. The poor are viewed as burdens to society, so no one wants to help with the problem because they do not necessarilyhave too. I think if big corporations got involved, our cultures view on the poor would change. Corporations have such a big influence on our society that if they begin to use their means, resources and influence for good, it might change the habits and views of everyday people. 

In the past two weeks I have gotten a lot better at practicing mindfulness. Taking 10 minutes out of my day to sit in silence and focus on myself, my thoughts, and my emotions has really relaxed me and calmed me down. With all the work I have going on, being able to sit still and take time for myself is helping me be a better student, and friend, and just a more pleasant person the be around. I really liked the color exercise that we did in class. It made me realize that I am very stressed out and that I might need to take even more time out of the day to focus on the way that I am feeling and just relax.

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