e diel, 1 korrik 2007

This was the beginning.

Project M 2007 has come to a conclusion. We are no longer eight wide-eyed designers, stacked two-high, in our little Bunk House. We are back in our familiar homes, seeing familiar faces, and enjoying familiar comforts. We accompished a lot in a month: both personally and as a group.

Below is a video that first exposed the eight of us to Pam Dorr, HERO, and Greensboro. It undoubtablely has a different meaning now than when we first saw it, but it is just as powerful in its message, no matter how many times you watch it.

May your individual appetites for creativity and positive change never be satiated.

Thank you.


e martë, 26 qershor 2007

e hënë, 25 qershor 2007


For three nights in a row, we've gone to Piggly Wiggly (locally known as "The Pig") to shop for supper. For three nights in a row, I've succeeded in finding a grosser food item than the night before. Not ironically, each is a pig-based product. The first time, in the corner of the store by the swing door leading to the back, I found a cart of pickled pigs lips. The next night, in the refrigerated meat section, I found a bin of gray vomit-textured matter. The product is called Souse, and its ingredients (in order of appearance) are pig snouts, pig tongue, pig liver, vinegar and paprika. For all you South Beach and Atkins folks, know that it only has 1 carb. The picture here shows me with last night's find, the prize of all. I doubt I can top this, but I'll keep up the search nonetheless.

e enjte, 21 qershor 2007

Greensboro: A Step-By-Step Interactive Introduction

In our current age of advanced technology, there are fewer and fewer limitations on communication. We are dialed in, linked up, and moving at the speed of a T1. Since our first day in Greensboro, our evenings have been filled with an scent unlike anything else we have ever encountered. It emanates from the local Catfish plant when the day's waste is released. To bridge the gap from our electronic postings to your home, I have devised an easy interactive model for our viewers at home.

Step 1) Find a baby.
Step 2) Feed the baby creamed asparagus, mashed peas, and strained carrots.
Step 3) Wait 10 minutes. Check baby's diaper.
Step 4) After diaper is overflowing, dispense of baby and place undergarment in a Tupperware bowl.
Step 5) Let sit for 1 month.
Step 6) Remove diaper and place over head and mouth.
Step 7) Breath deeply.
Step 8) Repeat Step 7 until vomiting is almost induced.
Step 9) Remove diaper.
Step 10) Repeat Steps 6-9 for 1 month.

Welcome to the Catfish Capital of Alabama.

e martë, 19 qershor 2007

Veritas Annual Potluck

Tonight at 6, we went over to Pam’s for the Veritas Club Annual Potluck. The Veritas Club is a ladies-only organization (these are their husbands) that “does various things.” As far as we can tell, they visit, make food, and give thanks for fellowship. Before supper, we were called to say the pledge...and then grace. See the complete photo set at http://www.flickr.com/photos/oliviafig/

Sagarika's serenade

After the Veritas Annual Potluck, Sagarika sang for us. Finally.

The End of Grace

Selma on Sunday II

Selma on Sunday

e hënë, 18 qershor 2007

Stuffed Crust and Jesus Stickers

There have been two things in particular that have stuck with me (and I think some of the rest of the gang, too) from the last couple of days. Both of which have been encounters with the children from the neighborhood. The entire time I've been here I've struggled with why I personally feel uncomfortable around them. Especially as a student whose going back for her fifth year to get her masters in art education, children making me feel uncomfortable is kind of problematic.

After Renga Saturday night, we all got washed up and began getting ready for a barbecue. A couple of the kids from the neighborhood headed over to hang out with us. Wendy went over to the three girls and began talking to them. After watching her interact with them for a few moments, I also went over to talk to them. Wendy began asking them if they sang at all and what songs they sang. Within a matter of minutes she had gotten each girl to sing whichever song she wanted. Watching the three girls be so full of life and Wendy be able to bring that out of three pretty quiet, shy girls was all incredible. It was one of my favorite moments from our barbecue.

Yesterday, Sunday, one of the boys from across the street came over while we were making lunch. Nate began asking him if he had been anywhere outside of Greensboro, like up to Tuscaloosa or Birmingham. He said he hadn't. Then Nate asked if he had an interest in going anywhere outside of here or Alabama. (like New York or Paris or Australia or anywhere) He quickly responded no to all of them. He did mention that he wanted to go to Chicago because that's where his family was originally from. This conversation just stuck with me. It was hard for me to wrap my head around not being curious about being anywhere or going anywhere outside of Greensboro, Alabama. I didn't see his point of view as wrong, at all. I know lots of people are content where they are. It was just hard for me to understand. I wondered why? Why was their no curiousity. Did he really just like Greensboro that much, or was it that he didn't ever see himself being able to travel outside of here?

After lunch on Sunday, we went to Selma. We walked around downtown and saw the Pettus Bridge. In 1965, 4,000 people began marching over that bridge to Montgomery to take their request for voting rights directly to Governor Wallace. They were lead by Dr. Martin Luther King. By the time they reached the State Capital they had reached 25,000 in number. As always, we all ate up Selma and took a ton of pictures of the bridge and the town.

The highlight of the trip, however, was dinner. We first attempted to stop at the 'All in One' Diner but it was closed. Then we needed to decide if it was the Steak Pit or Pizza Hut. Much to Carni's (Ellen's) dismay, the vegetarians won out, and Pizza Hut it was. It was an experience and I can almost (maybe?) say the stuffed crust and the Jesus stickers in the 50 cent machines by the door made it worth it.

e shtunë, 16 qershor 2007

yee haw.

Yesterday morning we played One Two Renga
which is basically a Think Wrong exercise in 3D. We played it with Bruce Lindsey, who's a Proj M advisor. He usually gets his architecture students to play it, to challenge their ideas of what architecure is; Renga, being so spontaneous and hands-on, messes with the proscribed idea of architecture being something that doesn't get your hands dirty. It also explores the process of designing something in a group.

If you look carefully, you'll see that Bruce worked it out so that we stuck to our 'This is Happiness' theme, and our 'must incorporate type' constraint. In this case though, we had to construct it with alphabets. The enitre structure had to tend towards sphere-icity.

Bruce was essentially trying to get us to play out our own process, the 8x8 one that Wendy's earlier post describes.

The action happened on the deck.

Wendy and Ben begin the games.

Circle, sphere, same difference.

Tim and Ellen in action.

John and Alissa strategize while Dana and Eric plug away.

Bruce and Eric.


Happiness, Round 2

Happiness is in the small moments like when I wash the dirt off my feet each night before I go to bed.

video stills below

e premte, 15 qershor 2007

Images of Happiness

Nate: Balance is happiness

Dana: Watermelon underwear!

Laura: Our time together is happiness

Ben: Letters for happiness

Tim: Happiness is in your perspective

Ellen: Simplicity is my happiness

Sagarika: TP = Happiness

Wendy: Reminding yourself of happiness

Process M

Shortly before the call with John on Wednesday night, many of us were disillusioned with Process M. We hadn’t reached consensus on any of the ideas we’d been kicking around for the last week. We learned from our test executions yesterday that our quotes + image direction had some real problems; painting residents here into a corner to expose a controversial memory or thought or quote was A) contrived and B) would just reinforce the stereotypes of small Southern towns.

In our call with John, he mentioned a building project in which each member of the team builds on what another member has already done—Renga. After our phone call with John last night, we scrapped all previous design ideas. It was back to the drawing board.

Before the call, Sagarika threw out the idea of 8. It evolved into a project by 8 people with 8 constraints. We were all dying to make. To move. To do. We did a test case in thirty minutes involving the process John described but fitting it to the 8 of us. Each of us came up with one constraint and executed the project in a couple of minutes. It was ugly as hell, but we’d done something and succeeded, and each of us had = stake in the process and product. THAT was key.

From there, we thought about doing that project on a larger scale, as individual designers. We wondered: What would happen if each of us came up with a constraint around a common theme with a couple of global constraints? The result was the THIS IS HAPPINESS project. The constraints were as follows:

11x17 in dimensions due at 1 pm (we devised this at 10pm,
so 8 hours later)

specific constraints:
(s) a hand made element
(w) an element that references something from the past 24 hours
(d) 2 colors total
(l) must involve something you brought here
(n) must enjoy it
(t) must have type in it
(e) no punctuation
(b) substrate is not paper

Each project was successful and wildly different from the next. Each met all 8 constraints. We learned that we wanted to do something that made each of us happy and made others happy. We decided to open up 8 as an idea for further exploration.

We started kicking around 8 as a possibility and ways that we could push what we’d done in THIS IS HAPPINESS. We interpreted 8 in the following ways: there are 8 designers, 8 projects to be executed in 8 days, 8 themes and 8 constraints. We decided the same 8 constraints would apply to each executed project, and that a set of global constraints would govern all of them.

• Project must be implemented/executed in a day
• All 8 designers will be utilized in each project
• 8 projects will be designed, executed and implemented together
• 8 projects engage the community of Greensboro
• 8 of us will enjoy 8 projects
• 8 of us will devise 8 projects that embody design for good that
inspires change
• All 8 projects will leave their environment better than we found it

(These were devised Project M workshop style)
• Excess
• Backwards
• Hope
• Color
• Über
• Enormous
• Love
• Curious

specific constraints:
(l) Must bring 2 people together
(b) Must be a call to action
(n) Element from place where one Mer is from
(s) Must incorporate type
(e) Can’t produce waste
(d) If supplies are available in Greensboro it MUST be purchased here
(w) Must be beautiful where beauty= good idea which is well executed
(t) NO computers used in the design and production of any project

All of this sounded amazing. But we wondered: if we haven’t been able to do ONE thing together, how the hell are we going to pull off 8 projects in 8 days?

Solution: Each night at 9, the Carnivore (Ellen) will draw the name of one designer who will function as the project manager the next day. The chosen designer will in turn draw one of the 8 themes. The group will reconvene at 9 the following morning to propose ideas surrounding the theme.
At 10:30 am, the PM will decide a direction for the project. The rest of the day’s schedule is up to the PM.

After 15 days, we realized that our initial process wasn’t permitting all of us to be 100% satisfied. But we were still committed to working together.

We needed to think wrong about our process. So here we are.

In terms of the Project M—Thinking Wrong at the Rural Studio book, we wanted the content of the book to be about Thinking Wrong instead of about the Rural Studio. Projects planned and executed under 8 will all inevitably be influenced by our time here in Greensboro, where many of the Rural Studio projects exist. Our global and specific constraints drew from Mockbee’s principles. Like those projects, our projects will be something from nothing, and it is our hope that each will be legendary.

e mërkurë, 13 qershor 2007

late night dancing

Crispy Chick, the graveyard, and Amos

10:04 am I’m at the laundromat on Main Street. I thought I’d park myself here and see if I could talk to some people who come in and out. There’s one man in here right now, sitting right across from me. I guess he works here, but I’m not sure if he’s the talking type. But he’s humming some, so that’s nice.

Tim and I went to Crispy Chick this morning. Supposedly the best biscuits in town, and a gathering place for all types before work. Well they were out of biscuits at 6:35 this morning, but Tim got some coffee and we thought we’d sit and put some time in anyhow. The place has room for 20, and there were about 6 people in there besides the workers. Three white people sat together at one table communing with a pair of men at another table. One black man sat alone several tables off.

After about three minutes, one of the white men asked us where we were from. We said California, and he asked us if we were with Pam and did we know her when we were in California. We said no, we knew her here, but we were doing work separate from hers, and then we asked where they were from. One, Mr. Robert Latham, is from here, but he spent three years based in California (San Diego, 1968-1971) during his service in the war. We asked him how he liked it. “Well it sure was nice to get back there after serving overseas.”

The other man didn’t talk much. He looked straight ahead, not at us, and told us he was a 6th generation Greensboroan. Mr. Latham told us after he left that he worked at the prison here, running the program that works the inmates at the fishery. Willie Jean from the paper was there, we said hi to her, and then headed out.

I walked for about an hour after that. Not having grown up around a major land feature like the ocean or mountains, trees and all things growing have always been what stick to me, what separates one place from the next. The landscape here is gorgeous. Everything is green and overgrown. There’s plenty of grass in the yards and it looks like some people are pretty serious gardeners. I saw hydrangeas, gardenia bushes (you smell them before you spot them), kudzu, Japanese maple trees, and many more flowers I don’t know the names of. The light filters through all of that and throws the most intricate shadows on everything.

I walked through a cemetery and learned some of the family names from here. Seems like nobody’s been buried there too recently. The latest date I saw was 1989. I didn’t see any fresh flowers on any grave sites, but fake flower arrangements adorned a few of them.

Yesterday at Amos Kennedy’s was incredible. He’s a black printer with a Heidelberg windmill letterpress and drawers and drawers of type. His shop is downstairs—the press, the type, a million prints and books—and his bed and kitchen are upstairs. He wore overalls and no shoes, and in the time we were there, he set something for each of us and ran about 100 of each print. He let us take some of his work and we bought a bunch more. Amazing. He’s leaving on Saturday to go to Italy for a few months, and in December, he’ll be in residence at a small college in Virginia for a year. He’s been playing with type since he was four or five, studied math at Grambling, worked in computer programming for 20 years, and then came back to printing. It’s too much fun, he said. After a couple hours, we thanked him and headed out. “Thanks for spending time in the Black Belt,” he said.

e martë, 12 qershor 2007

One of the best things about Project M is the advisors.

This is Thomas Sevcik, who has a firm called Arthesia which he runs with a partner. He employs ten people in his firm.
He's pretty awesome, walked into our studio and sorta lifted the energy level in the room instantly. He's a 'corporate anthropologist'. I sat beside him while we drove to dinner that night and asked him a bazillion questions about his work.
I think I want to be a corporate anthropologist.
I'm totally going try and visit his office in Zurich sometime.
Yesterday we spent several hours working on the bunk house where we're staying for the month of June. We focused most of our efforts on the two bathrooms—putting up sheet rock, mudding seams, sanding, painting and cleaning. Most of us were novices to this type of renovation work. We sweated like crazy in the 99 degree heat. Despite the temperature, I found the manual labor to be rewarding. It was nice to get my hands dirty and to actually accomplish something by the end of the day. I came here expecting and hoping to building something and I'm happy that I could help HERO—even if it was just a day's work—get closer to completing their project.

Wendy paints the walls.
I touch up corners around the shower.

Sagarika naps while the rest of us work our asses off.
This is what you're upto while you're gone John.

No Lord of the Flies type incidents yet.

Don't Call Me A Designer

The aromatic scent of ink and the ballet-like mechanics of a Heidelberg are the essence of dreams, but today they were a reality. Amos Kennedy, a local letterpress designer, graciously accepted us into his studio for over an hour. He lives and works in a neglected Boys and Girls Club in Akron, AL (a Rural Studio project from the days of Sam Mockbee). Although his skill and craft clearly resemble the work of an artist or designer, Amos prefers the title of printer. From our joyous visit, we learned about his history as a printer-mathematician-programmer, his thoughts on the the community, and his recently appointed position as an artist-in-residence at Longwood University (Virginia).

While showing us around the packed studio (which houses two Vandercooks, an Asbern, a Heidelberg platen press, and more wood and metal type than you can imagine), Amos printed 50 postcards for each of us, using a wood-block print chosen from his collection (that's 8 different sets of 50 cards. 400 in total!). Our excitement could not be contained as we explored his personal library and purchased beautiful posters from his archives. We were intoxicated with design.

When questioned about his business, Amos replied, "Just send me a check and the text and pray it comes out right. I don't spell check. I don't match colors." These are the words of a true renegade printer.

His work ranges from invitations and fans to note cards and posters. The racial issues living in the South are ever present in his work and intrigued us all. Judging by the reaction of the group, we are all clearly in love with the ways of the printing press and the manner in which one man, armed with the machines of communication, could disperse his message, his art, to the community.
hey y'all.
Here's our work and workspace.

Dana and Laura looking at our photographs. Dana and I were trying to come up with ideas for the Thinking Wrong book earlier this evening, it was pretty fun. We both feel like we're not using our time as well as we could, but this may be because we usually work way more intensely. But I'm sure everyone else does as well. I personally think it's because there are 8 of us and moving around en masse is a little difficult.
That said, I do feel we have a pretty going dynamic going on amongst the 8 opf us. Well 9 of us, if you count John.

I like the way we decided out aims. We threw out ideas and then voted for what we wanted. So our aim right now is to do a project that to Design for Good to Inspire Change in Thinking Amongst Influencers. Yeah I know, super general. But we have faith that we'll get there.