Wicked Problems

In these last eight-weeks, we explored major “umbrella” topics of different issues we are combatting while trying to achieve sustainability and preventing further hard on the environment we live on. I think the course has been a good introductory for students that have not put much thought in their personal impact on the environment and how they can help with sustainability. By touching base on such topics in fashion, architecture, pollution, global warming and deforestation. My favorite topic that we were able to discuss was about the architecture accreditation for “green” buildings. Because as I enter my last couple months of my degree, it’s something we talk about a lot, the implementation of green architecture. However, in practice, it’s not always realistic, because as noted in the article, it’s sometimes a losing battle because of the higher cost to choose the more sustainable option since it is not so common in use. I think that we as students or the “new generation”, or for me personally, that I have a way to effect the things around me, even if they are small. This is done by voting with my money to buy products and purchase from businesses that I support, by recycling items so there is a little less in landfills, and even donating clothes for the same effect. We explored bigger problems in the industry, but as made time to explore our inner mindfulness. By opening up the conversation on meditation and mindfulness practice, it’s made me take things in a bit more. As this semester is a heaping 18 hours, I tend to get overwhelmed and stressed, and when I realize that my mind is racing, I try to take a mindfulness break. A break in the sun if possible, because it’s nice to feel the warmth of the sun when I don’t feel so great inside. I don’t think every intellectual journey is the same, I struggle to stay focus and keep my mind clear, so I try to do something enjoyable that requires all my attention and is a little repetitive, allowing it to become methodical and almost meditation like. And as I find myself sad from being so far away from my family, I take a break to work on my emotional mindfulness. I take time to calm down and cook or bake, because food is what makes me feel like I’m home. And by following recipes and having to be attentive to whatever I’m cooking, I am more centered and can focus on the present and not so much of what isn’t here. And I’m unsure if this counts towards good mindfulness practice, but to me, mindfulness is being present and appreciating your surroundings. Thus, every other week, a group of us go to drink beers and play card games with each other just to enjoy the company before we all depart after graduation. And this has been my favorite practice, because after every “session” I always leave feeling happier and better. Since I struggle with mental health, which then affects my school work, I want to try to use more mindfulness breaks. By taking breaks to keep my mind clear and positive, I think it will have a gradual positive income. And with mindfulness practices, it causes us to be more connected to our surroundings and the environment. As we care more for our environment, it will enact a subconscious mind to only do things that positively impact the earth, or even prevent ourselves from being so awful and utilizing all the existing resources it provides. As mentioned, another goal for this course is to develop a humble and compassionate way to understanding wicked problems, I think the class will find multiple ways to go about this, which would be interesting to discuss. However, for me, I think if I am able to relate a wicked problem back into my architecture designs in trying to help fix or not add to a problem, I would have succeeded. A project that we had done as a group this year in studio is that we had to produce a board game that addressed an urban issue that we would like to further explore. My group focused on trying to provide a game to players that would educate them about poverty. Poverty is something that is not talked about often, but it is such a big and growing issue everywhere, the game was to show how small “inconvenience” can have a domino effect that can end up where you lose your job or evict you from your apartment. As we took a mindful approach and discussed the topic through several sessions, we understood that the game would not try to promote the idea of solving poverty, because you cannot solve poverty. But you can educate others about the issue, and open up a way for people to address it and show that this is a real issue. In our newest short project, we were given the assignment to produce a map of an experience of Stillwater in a way that no one else has. I want to use what I have learned in this course to be mindful to the people and students in the town. But more so, I want to make sure that my final project, as I am in the social issues committee for my section, that all human experiences are universal for the environment we are designing. We wanted to ensure that all humans, able or disabled, experience everything the same, this means that all entrances are integrated with each other. But also, to design a public space that allows for multiple age groups to enjoy, to by mindful of their needs. We are adopting the 880 cities plan, which puts in place an idea that if you are able to design a space for an 8-year-old and an 80-year-old, that everyone in between will be benefitted as well and create a more universal compelling environment that positively impacts the community. And another note that I wanted to ensure was that the idea of proximity was put in place, to ensure that amenities and food vendors were in a relatively close walking distance. We didn’t want to create an inconvenience to anyone by grouping support spaces that create a large divide on each other and would cause pedestrians  to have to journey across the island to use an amenity or get food. We wanted to be mindful that this would allow for a better and more pleasurable experience, especially for those not great at walking for long periods and just out of convenience. In conclusion, I want to utilize mindfulness practice in my future, to make sure I listen to my mind, body and heart, and make sure I take time to be centered and appreciative. But also wanting to make sure that I design for people to have a moment of pause and can be mindful in their surroundings and to enjoy themselves. Architecture has the ability to control human behavior and movement, so ensuring that I keep the public in mind and asking myself the question, “how will this benefit them” or “how will someone experience this”, will cause me to be a better architect, hopefully.

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