Sustainable Design and Sourcing Locally

What I feel I contributed this week was in the discussion of how we should be aware of where products are produced. As a society, we are so out of touch with where our food comes from, where our clothes are made, how our buildings are built, and honestly so much more. The factories that produce our clothes are typically sourced to developing countries, where the local people are polluting their communities and also over-consuming their local resources. If our clothes and other products were produced locally, and we felt the impacts of industrialization in our own backyard, would we care more about the environment?

In our assigned reading groups for Thursday’s discussion, my group talked about how the poor are not taking care of their land because they are constantly moving. If the poor were somehow able to plan for a future on their land, then these people would feel a sense of responsibility for how they are using the resources their land offers. One of the articles we were read in class actually talked about a program that did just that, giving land to families for 90 years. I think this is a great solution and it will be interesting to see how this will affect their communities in the future.

This week we were asked to increase our mindfulness exercise from five minutes to ten minutes daily. While this increase did double the amount of time I spent practicing, I found that it wasn’t that difficult to give myself a longer amount of time. When I first started this practice I found it was more difficult because I had to find the time in my busy day to just breathe. While I haven’t noticed a significant difference since increasing the time, I find that when I am practicing, it’s nice to have a few extra minutes in my day to be mindful.

My major takeaways this week were surrounding the idea of consuming local products. I think that this practice is important because it will encourage people to care more about how production affects the environment. I actually just finished a project for studio, where I tried to practice a few different sustainability methods. One of which was selecting local materials. To achieve this, I choose to use ACME bricks, WW Steel, and reclaimed wood. All three of these materials are either manufactured in Oklahoma, or can be found locally to the project site.

This idea of sourcing locally is important because we will feel the effects of their production much more easily, and there won’t be as much energy wasted on transportation. For example, if we clad a building in a composite panel from Europe, it really isn’t sustainable because we aren’t being impacted directly and we are also wasting energy transporting these materials that could have been produced locally. Seemingly small decisions like this tend to have large impacts on our world, and when I’m a practicing architect I’d like to yes make sustainable decisions, but also really think about where building materials are coming from.

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A Correlation to ‘The Trolley Problem’

Even though this class starts later than my Monday/Wednesday classes, I feel a lot more sleepy in this class than in those. I find myself not immediately remembering what the articles were over in order to speak up relatively quickly. I’m honestly just glad Dr. Armstrong is so patient, lol. I do feel, however, that once we get past that first thirty minute hump, the entire class feels more energetic and everyone speaks up more and by then my mind has been jogged on what I had read not even fifteen hours earlier, (at this point I’m convinced my memory retention is non-existent.) I like that we discuss topics as a class and the guided questions from Dr. Armstrong are really helpful. I’ve noticed that using this system helps me better remember things, to read the articles and then talk about them. It’s also always interesting to hear what others got out of the readings that maybe I had missed. All around though, I think I contribute a good amount to this class, of course improvement is always an option, but you should’ve seen my public speaking skills in high school, (talk about non-existent.)

I think everyone contributes to environmental damage. The only reason poor communities are “blamed” for it, is because it’s forced upon them. It reminds me of the ‘the trolly problem’ in philosophy. This is the moral question of whether or not you kill one person to save five, or let all five people die because someone will die anyways. Poor communities are essentially being tied up and thrown in front of a moving trolley then expected to figure a way out of the situation themselves with no resources. Switching gears to Walker’s views on fashion, I think that he makes really good points, especially about producing humble products and his statements that producing long-lasting products may not be effective, overall. This is a tricky topic, how do you maintain the booming economy of such a materialistic country while creating products that hardly cause any harm to the environment? This is what I want to do when I grow up, be involved in making the fashion industry something truly sustainable while not compromising it’s beautiful and creative atmosphere.

I really like beginning class with a meditation, it helps me clear my mind from other classes and assignments and allows me to focus on the next hour and a half-ish of our discussions. I do think though, that I like the longer meditation sessions longer. I was really stressed this weekend because I procrastinated on several assignments and I worked the game, so my entire Saturday was gone already. Taking ten minutes out of my day on Sunday really helped me calm down when I was starting to get upset and flustered. I also really liked doing the longer sessions on days when I didn’t feel pressured by work or assignments, it helped me relax even more and I felt as light as a feather afterward.

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The True Cost of Fashion.

My take-aways from the reading assignments and group discussions was that poverty has more of an effect on the environment than I thought it did. The poor are forced to live on land that doesn’t already have an abundance of resources, so when they use their limited amount, they’re forced to migrate to another limited resource area. There are many different things we could be doing to “attack” poverty. Personally, I like the idea of employing poor people that could also teach them how to be more effective in the work force so that they can later on be granted a new job. This idea of training them as they go and maybe moving through different tiers of a certain position so that ultimately, they could get a better job once their job is complete.

Another take away from this week’s class is that fashion is not only something that is trendy or in style, but it’s also something that comes and goes, and is very fluid in this world. Fashion is something that won’t last a lifetime and it’s very disposable. On the flip side, fashion is something that is very creative and inventible. I wrote in my notes, “More exploration and innovations of options for materials means more finding and inventing new concepts, a true design feat.” I feel like as an artist this is the way I think. The more bold and innovative you are, the more of a true designer and artist that makes you. Fashion doesn’t have to be something disposable. We can change this definition to be something more sustainable and in turn be something that’s highly sought after and creative to it’s core.

In class I felt like I contributed to the class by re-evaluating what aesthetic obsolescence meant to my team. An example I contributed is if you get rid of one thing, the style becomes outdated and you have to restyle the whole room. That definition especially related to my field in Interior Design, and I’m sure that would help more people understand that aspect from the Interior Design perspective. This was in our reading, but I contributed more on the fact that if people living in poverty have a resource given to them like a plot of land, they’re more likely to take care of it and feel more valued. The more they’re treated like they’re a part of the community, the more work and effort they would put into the environment around them.

In terms of practicing mindfulness, I’ve been sleeping way better than I ever had in the past and remembering my dreams more often. Not only am I remembering my dreams better, but they’re more vivid, and never a nightmare. Usually I’ve woken up multiple times during the night and if I had dreams, they were mostly nightmares. I also practiced mindfulness for the first time when I was in the middle of being anxious, and at first it was difficult, but within minutes of being more present, I felt way better.

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A New View on Environmental Degradation

What do you think, is poverty responsible for global degradation? The topic for this week’s class as you may have guessed is analyzing whether or not poverty is a cause to the environmental degradation we are facing now and could affect our future. This week for class I was assigned to read the “yes” side of the argument along with the other members on my team in order to come up with an overall consensus to explain to the other side as to why poverty could be a cause. While we were discussing I contributed with the class the idea of deepening poverty and how it realtes to this side of the argumnet. Essentailly deeping poverty affects the environment because according to the author the poor are given jobs that consist of unsustainable practices that cause a major strain on the land they are. This is seen when it causes them to use up all the resources in that area and as a result they later have to relocate to another area and use up all those resources and the cycle continues, until one day we could eventually run out of resources.

It is through this reading that I was able to understand the author’s point of view and in personal view I can say that I agree with him to some degree. I don’t think the poor themselves are to blame but that because of the unfair distribution of wealth our economy faces, the poor are forced into these situations and as a result have caused an effect on the environment. And I don’t know about you but when thinking about the causes of environmental degradation I never thought to recognize poverty as a possible cause. I have always seen problems such as deforestation, overproduction, and pollution to be causes of environmental degradation, so for me it was informational to see another perspective and possible cause. A major takeaway, I took from this reading was seeing what other countries have done to improve living standards for the poor and these practices could be put into practice in the United States and slightly tweaked for our society. 

As I have continued my journey in mindfulness, and hopefully you have to, this week for my mindfulness activity I chose to do something different. This week I choose to sit outside on the porch swing and listen to music while observing my surroundings. I felt that through this exercise I became more in tune with things around me that I normally don’t pay attention or realize on a daily basis. Sitting there I realized that students walking by are constantly on their phones or listening to music that we have adapted to block out the natural environment, I also noticed that a lot of us college students have become lazy in walking to class and instead ask friends to drive us to class. Which I am slightly guilty of but for the most part I walk to class everyday because I tell myself it’s my exercise for the day.  

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Help each other and our society will rise

Are the poor the problem? There is no way. In my mind coming from a family of agriculture and farmers I always though we had the most sustainable practices! We cook with real fire, there is no electricity consumption, our night sky is always so beautiful fill with tons of stars because there aren’t as much green gases as in the city that disturbs the vision of all the stars. I was tempted to read the no article but then after remorse I went back to the yes and turns out both are right! Yes, the poor in fact do cause natural resources degradation but also, they are not the problem. The problem is management. The problem is our laws that do not have laws that protect our environment enough.

Honestly reading that article took forever and I still didn’t really capture the details. I did however know at least what they were talking about: do the poor have a direct or indirect effect on the environment?

The professor had great articles that capture this whole idea of the poor. They were very intriguing stories and made me want to search on my own as well. Also, I wonder where she gets all these insightful articles… is there a website? The news? I’m not sure but my favorite story was about the farmers in India. Shockingly they were committing suicide, could you imagine being that poor? Not being able to provide for your family no matter how much you try and how many things you’ve done. Pushing you that it will be better if you just don’t exist anymore. The best thing about this was that a solution arose. The farmers could make cotton instead which in return helps them financially but also assist the environment because cotton is a natural resource, there is no plastic, it isn’t synthetic.

Meditation helped me cleared my mind and also become aware of the MAJOR problem we have in our society about plastic. I work at a restaurant and it is full of plastic, one time use plastic cups, one time use straws, one time use forks, spoons and knifes. But the worst thing is that I am part of that, I consume the drinks and I use the plastic forks… I would say that my major takeaway is coming to the realization that we need a solution like the one for the farmers in India, we need to be using biodegradable resources.

What did I contribute to the learning society? I think it was a little confusing to digest all the big words the article had so I wasn’t really clear in the idea, but I mention how a better government with better management would make a great impact on the poor community and the environment. Because one thing that is clear history has shows us that when we help one another there is a cultural growth and an economic growth. At a big scale those who make the laws have an even bigger impact for the poor.

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Procrastination and a Roller Coaster of emotions

Last week was a very stressful one for me. I had a lot going on with school, working 40 hours, and a lot happening with my family. I had to plan everything out so I didn’t fall behind. The meditation practices in and out of class really helped me not to stress out as much and not feel overwhelmed. It made me step back and just be in the moment. I would still push it to the side and wait till the last minute everyday to do it. I am the worst with procrastination. I would do the same with a lot of my work and would stay up pretty late, then only sleep for a little. Which probably did not help with anything. Getting up for class was very difficult for me because of this. I was on time on Tuesday, but Thursday came around and I was 5 minutes late. That made me miss the meditation in class and I had to do one on my own by myself to makeup for it.

The reading for the pre-discussion this week were a little harder than the previous ones we have read. The readings were over fashion in a metaphoric way and if poverty directly or indirectly affects the environment. I was having a little trouble understanding the readings, but still tried to contribute to class. I wouldn’t be the first to talk, but I would wait for someone else to talk first. From what they would say it would clear up any confusion I had. I then would be able to talk a little on the subject with the class. The fashion article was a little easier to read, because to article over poverty had a bunch of words I did not know. You would almost need a dictionary on hand to understand every word in it. I agreed with the no or indirect article over poverty more. I think there are so many factors that go into poverty and the destruction of the earth. There is no pin point problem and that is why they are wicked problems.

The article fashion was something I really enjoyed reading and opened my eyes a lot. It talked about how fashion is ever changing and with how it is currently it is very destructive. We are always wanting the newest thing. Trends only lasting for about 6 months or so and we then throw it out for the new one. Making a bunch of waste doing that, because a big majority of the stuff they are making the trends that are not sustainable. The author puts that we need to design with sustainability more in mind and it will take trial and error to figure out the best way to do it.

The new group infographic project that was introduced this week scared me at first. After meeting up and talking to my group members this week in class made me feel much better about this assignment. I now makes me excited for this upcoming week to work with them and find out more about our subject we choose to work on. 

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A Me I Never Knew

This past week I did not feel I contributed as much to the room. Our discussions on the readings are much easier when I am able to get a sense of what everyone else got out of them first, but I decided to share some of my thoughts first to get my classmates thinking, but also assist in making things more comfortable. No one likes to speak first. I was able to listen and learn about the things that I did not catch while reading. Being able to discuss with our shoulder partners is something that I have actually come to enjoy. I was able to speak with others that I had not really talked to before and I found a friend. Though the task was to come up with a consensus of a particular question, we had fun with it and laughed along the way. I think the first thing each of us says every time we turn to converse is, “I have no idea what I even read” or “what are we supposed to figure out?”. It feels good to know that I am not the only one that does not always understand what we read before walking through the classroom door, but the best feeling is walking out of those doors and knowing more than before.

Getting in our teams for the infographic project was also a big highlight of my week. Each person in my group contributes something valuable and I love getting to know a new part of them every time we come together. Our wicked problem we chose to focus on seems unique, so putting all of our heads together and finding a way to express the issue to others will be gratifying. Though it takes more than four people to find an effective solution, we are still making a difference by being aware of the problem and trying to do what we can in order to reverse the effects. Knowledge is key.

Continuing to practice mindfulness in class has given me a peace that I have never felt before. For blog two I never discussed my experience outside of the class, because I had not practiced doing so yet. I chose not to make up a phony impression because I wanted to be truthful and share a real encounter with it. I decided to start utilizing the tool of mindfulness and I have loved every minute of it. I get nervous, anxious, and stressed over just about anything imaginable. Usually in order to get over those obstacles I call my dad or cry it out if needed. I decided to stop ignoring the outlet placed in front me and use it to my advantage. Because I am not quite used to doing it on my own, I just sit on my brown carpeted floor with the lights off and closed eyes. My thoughts wander often, so I have to force myself to reach back for the present moment. Sometimes I cannot quite find the present, but when I am in a different place, I just hold onto whatever I cannot let go of and let it somehow resolve itself. I am able to find tranquility in things that I used to let hurt and bring me down. I find a calmness within myself that keeps me sane. I am forever grateful to know a way to fight through the struggles I have ignored for so long.

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