Tuesday, October 27, 2015


I am about to play some serious Ketchup (Catch-Up!)

The Microscopic Beauty of Air Pollution


I was searching for something on the mighty inter-web that had a different outlook on what air pollution really looks like. I actually was trying to find images of what air pollution looks like under a microscope and try to re-create it with ink and pastels. It seems like this person was thinking exactly what I was thinking.
China has some of the worst air pollution- it is so bad that people are more likely to die from air pollution than tobacco use. (not-so-fun-fact: 79 out of every 100,000 people die prematurely as a result of air pollution in Beijing. And it is worse in other major areas of China.)

What I created for this project was a reconstructed version of these images and put them in a vacuumed-sealed bag full of clean Minneapolis air. The intended result as to look like a snow globe.

(These are images of air pollution and pollen under a scope, compliments of NASA)


-Does this make you fearful about things that you could be possibly breathing?
-Does anyone else find this inspiring for design?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Shelter Redifined

Short Term
  • Rent Increase
  • More people on public assistance
  • Taxes  increase
  • Wages increase to match cost of living
  • Corporations cut hours to make up for increase
  • People are laid off
  • Unemployment rises
  • People move from area
  • Towns, cities, villages collapse

  • Cities increase population
  • Greater demand for living space
  • Families (share resources)
  • Cities become “favellas”
  • Crime rises
  • Middle class moves out = suburbs
  • Low-income stay
  • Rent decreased as demand decrease
  • Major jobs leave
  • mom and pop operations shut down
  • Land prices fall
  • Then, land is bought up
  • Renovated
  • Poor families pushed out
  • Rent increase

  • Segregated society based on socioeconomic status
  • Fight for resources
  • Constant changes results in destabilization
  • Anger of general population grows
  • Dictator style leadership will mobilize angry population
  • Power becomes more centralized again
  • wealthy, central power grows, few have power
  • Lack of democracy
  • Controlled society, lack of freedom for the mass population

The Future of Shelter

When I was thinking about shelter, I couldn’t help but think about this article that surfaced about half a year ago: “France decrees new rooftops must be covered in plants or solar panels.” I remember it going around Facebook, and so many people praising France for it’s decision.
The article states, “Green roofs have an isolating effect, helping reduce the amount of energy needed to heat a building in winter and cool it in summer. They also retain rainwater, thus helping reduce problems with runoff, while favoring biodiversity and giving birds a place to nest in the urban jungle, ecologists say.”
This article also made me think about a law that Germany passed a couple years ago requiring that all new buildings either get at least 15 percent of space and water heating from renewable energy, or dramatically improve their energy efficiency.
The pessimist in me likes to think that laws like this would never get passed in America because we have a population of 318 million (versus 80 million in countries like Germany). We also have a larger divide between the wealthy and the poor, making things like this more difficult to achieve nation wide.
However, that’s not to say we can’t start small. What if we made it a priority? I could actually visualize (for those of us that are financially stable enough) people making garden roofs or solar panel roofs a “home improvement” priority if the desire is there.
Imagine: garden roof tops, that could then be utilized not only for reducing energy and retaining rainwater, but what if bee/butterfly flowers were only planted? This could help save the bee and butterfly crisis we are currently facing.

Looking even further into the future: Every home is required to have a garden roof. It has been statistically proven that humans interacting with nature helps mental health. We could potentially help treat mental illnesses while simultaneously saving the planet.

What Shelter Means to Me

What shelter means to me.

For many people, shelter is more than just a roof over their head. It is friends and family. It is financial security. It is comfort. Shelter is all of those things for me, but when I think about it on a deeper level, I’ve realized that shelter is my health. When I think of the one thing that can take away my shelter, it always comes down to health; mental or physical. When I come home at night, my roommate/ best friend is there. I can talk to her about my day, laugh about things, and blow off steam. My roommate, along with the rest of my friends and family, help keep me sane and help my mental health.
When I was in Austria, I always came home to my roommates there. Having someone to come home to is extremely important to me, and my mental health. Having friends and family in my life keeps me happy and healthy.

If I didn’t have my mental/physical health, I might not be able to work, and thus might not be able to pay bills or rent. My health keeps a roof over my head.

When I think of shelter, I think of our country’s health care system. So many people are having to take out second mortgages to pay for medical bills.
When I think of shelter, I think of the homeless person on the corner of the street. Had they been treated for their (most likely) mental health problems correctly, would they be there? Or would they have a roof over their head?

Roommate and I.

The future's so bright...I gotta wear shades.

Let's start this blog out with some fun.

The Future's So Bright

Timbuk3, 1986

Remember when this song came out?
Well, most of you probably don't. I do. It is sorta weird, but its sentiment is my point of departure for this week. For this week, I am going to try to put on my optimist glasses and only focus on best case scenario: 

I will start out by reiterating my prediction from last week:

As I think about what shelter means to others, I know that we all have are own definitions. For those who are homeless, shelter can be a very simple concept–something to protect one's self from the elements, a place that is dry and warm. I also can't help but think of the trend of tiny houses, especially ones that are portable. I am trying to figure out how that might work in my life. Maybe, at some point, no one will own land, but just own their shelter. People could pick up when they want and go live wherever they want. We could all become nomads.

People all get along and are concerned for the common good of all. We stop our obsessions with "things" and focus on what is really important: survival, love, connectedness. Land and resources are shared with the less fortunate. Everyone has shelter and some land. Homes are built by 100% sustainable methods. Air quality improves because people care about the future and we have no carbon emissions. Homes can adapt to the changing environment–they can float in the case of a flood, burrow when the need to go underground happens, fly when they need to move over things or move quickly. Homes can also change with the changing needs of their owners. For instance, grow with them when they need more space, or shrink when they need less. They might even be able to connect with others' homes when needed. They have filtration systems that clean the air when it becomes dirty. But there are vents to bring in air when fresh air is available. Energy for our homes is 100% clean. We all grow our own food on our homes and our land. There is enough food and water for everyone.

Here is my best case scenario from last week...I will skip the worst case–just need to problem solve: 

I think the future of shelter could be a hybrid of ideas. It could be something that grows and changes with our needs. My idea for future shelter is inspired by my ideas of home, temporary disaster shelter and tiny portable houses. I think it will be modular with specific modules for specific needs. Each side of the module will have a function. You will be able to add or subtract modules to customize for your needs.

Going forward: if this, then that...then that...then that, etc.

When we, as the human race, come to a general consensus that what is really important is connectedness, we can work together to create an earth that is safe. We can reverse the damage that we have inflicted on our environment and each other. Earth will heal. Animals and plant populations will heal. Humans will heal. We will all thrive together. We will peacefully co-exist. 

We will have enough water, food, shelter. We will not have to rob nature of its resources to get the things we need from it. Humans will learn to use earth's resources wisely and also know how to replenish what we have taken. We will then not need to worry about survival and we will see true beauty thrive–we will have an appreciation for our differences, for nature, for our past. We will respect one another. Crime will end. Disease will be obliterated.
There will be no overpopulation because we will allow death to come naturally, from old age–just parts wearing out...and we will be okay with that. We will understand that, in order to foster new life, death must, and will, happen. We will grieve, feel, etc. but we will understand that it is necessary. We will let go of our emotional pasts and be able to be present in the now.

We will be cognizant of our ability to reproduce and the effects that overpopulation might have on the earth and our future and we will do so responsibly. Infertility will not be an issue because our earth will be so clean of toxins that our reproductive organs will not be damaged. The choice will be there to reproduce, or not. Maybe, communities will collectively decide who will have children and who will not and how many, in order to not overpopulate. (Is that taking it too far.)

What will future homes look like?

Our shelters will be a reflection of ourselves. They will reflect lives that only take what we need and no more. They may be simple, but that does not mean impersonal. There will be room to make our homes an expression of self, family and community.

Since the playing field will be so level, our homes will not be a representation of class or status. They might become more standardized. They might be mobile to allow for changing weather/climate patterns. Visually, they could be very interesting. I still think they could be modular. People will be able to personalize their abode with color, embellishments, etc, but do so in an environmentally friendly way. I can't imagine the world in which everyone's house looks the same. My house would be simple, modern, very clean, functional. Someone else might be influenced by styles from a different time period. I think about all of the beautiful historic houses on Summit Avenue in St. Paul and, even though they are not my personal style, I cannot imagine a world without them. Then, the questions arise, How can we preserve what we have and still be respectful of the needs that have evolved from a changing earth? Also, How can we preserve those homes without preserving the ideals of that mentality – without such a massive division among classes? That is a tough one. Because I love those houses doesn't mean I love the ideals of a society in which there is such a gap between cultures and classes.

So, what do we do? Can we preserve the old, but usher in a new mentality of equality? Is this even possible?


The back yard of Gary Konkol's highly touted 2,800-square-foot "House in the Woods" is rich in native plants. The windows are triple-paned, argon-filled glass. The walls are 22 inches thick, compared to a normal 8. (Pioneer Press: John Autey)

This reminds me of an article I read in last week's Sunday paper about a "passive" home that exists in Hudson. It cost over $1 Million to build. It used sustainable building practices, but not everyone can afford a million dollar home. Might there be a time when materials for the building of passive homes don't cost an arm, a leg and then some?

Link to cool thread art/Janie!

Hey Janie! (and everyone who might be interested)
This (sort of) reminded me of a direction you were going with the crop art piece. Maybe thread is not your thing, but I know using textiles is. Check out the art of Kintaro Ishikawa, an artist from Japan.

His work is amazing..representational, but I think it could definitely be adapted to some visualizations (if we had a million hours to spend on a project.) Anyway, just thought it was super cool.

Here is the link:

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Forecast 5.5 — Creating a new "shelter"

We need people to need each other again. Dependence on the fossil-fuel-based web of modern society and civilization can only compromise human security (in particular—poor minorities, women, and children) and nature.

 Four separate excerpts from The Ascent of Humanity (Chapter 4, Money and property):

The feeling “We don’t really need each other” is by no means limited to leisure gatherings. What better description could there be of the loss of community in today’s world? We don’t really need each other. We don’t need to know the person who grows, ships, and processes our food, makes our clothing, builds our house, creates our music, makes or fixes our car; we don’t even need to know the person who takes care of our babies while we are at work. We are dependent on the role, but only incidentally on the person fulfilling that role. Whatever it is, we can just pay someone to do it (or pay someone else to do it) as long as we have money. And how do we get money? By performing some other specialized role that, more likely than not, amounts to other people paying us to do something for them. This is what I call the monetized life, in which nearly all aspects of existence have been either converted to commodities or assigned a financial value. 

For the typical surburbanite, what is there to do with friends? We can cook together for fun, but we don’t need each other’s help in producing food. We don’t need each other to create shelter or clothing. We don’t need each other to care for us when we are sick. All these functions have been given over to paid specialists who are generally strangers. In an age of mass consumption, we don’t need each other to produce entertainment. In an age of paid childcare, we hesitate to ask each other for help with the children. In the age of TV and the Internet, we don’t need each other to tell us the news. In fact, not only is there little to do together, there is equally little to talk about. All that is left is the weather, the lawn, celebrities and sports. “Serious” topics are taboo. We can fill up our social gatherings with words, it is true, but we are left feeling empty, sending those words into an aching void that words can never fill. 

In sharp contrast to the monetized world of financial security, which inexorably separates everyone from everyone else, a gift economy is an economy of obligation and dependence. Financial security is not true independence, but merely dependence on strangers, who will only do the things necessary for your survival if you pay them. Would you rather be dependent on strangers, or on people you know? Well, that probably depends on how you treat the people you know. Thus the monetized life removes some of the incentives for people to adhere to social and ethical norms. Dissolution of community is built in to our system of money. The monetization of life dissolves communities, and the dissolution of community necessitates the further monetization of life. 

Like an alcoholic whose resources of goodwill, money, pawnable assets, friends, and credibility are almost exhausted, our way of life is on the verge of collapse. We continue to scramble, applying new technological fixes at greater and greater cost to alleviate the problems caused by the last fix. The addict will keep on using until life becomes completely unmanageable. Ecological awareness, localism, green design, herbalism, community currencies, ecology-based economics are all like the drunk’s moments of clarity on the way down. They will not so much save us as serve as the seeds for a new way of living and being that we will adopt after the collapse. Indeed they will all come naturally, as a matter of course—if there is anything left at all.


This Is What Humanity Might Look Like In 1,000 Years

This is video offers a fascinating look into the future! Utility fog is particularly fascinating to the subject shelter. Our homes could disappear when we are at work to create space for more things! We could move our homes anywhere we wanted! Its also interesting to think about the possibility of conflict over space and land this technology would create. It would make an amazing novel!

We also may adapt to future earth and end up looking like this in 100,000 years, those eyes though.


Thursday, October 22, 2015


Just came across this today. It is a video called "This Land is Our Land," done by the San Bernadino National Forest in California, regarding Nestle taking water from Strawberry Creek.

From the website:

"NestlĂ© is taking millions of gallons of water for bottling from the drought-impacted San Bernardino National Forest in California in exchange for a ridiculously small $524 annual fee. Not only that, but NestlĂ©'s permit expired over 25 years ago! "

Worth the watch...and sign the petition online to support the legal case.

Monday, October 19, 2015

What Home Means to Me

Home used to mean a lot to me. The term home brings the thought of the deep woods, a warm fire place and a small furry dog to mind. This is how I used to define home. 

As I've gotten older, home has morphed past the physical. Physically the wood walls that my dad and his brothers built with his own two hands will be the only home I know. As I got older thought, I realized that life would take me a lot of places. Some of these places good, others of them bad. Whenever life became too noisy I had my quiet place that I could always escape to.  Deep in the woods away from the noisy world.

As time went along, I realized that home meant more to me than the physical house. My home is the people who push me to be better. These people also push me to be crazy. But I don't mind it. 
My dad my sister, and myself

My mom and my sister

My grandparents 

Overall, I believe that home is a feeling. It is the feeling I get when I see sunflowers. Every time I see men cutting wood to prepare for the long winter, women hand making bread, and  yellow canaries. These items are simply visual reminders. Home comes most alarmingly to me in smell. In feelings when the snow slowly creeps in and the fire burns out. This is my home. Animals are my windows and people are my doors. 

Mobile Tiny Homes: Article/Video


Insert your apartment into a new building in a new city

The real future of Shelter

Lets be honest here about shelter in the future. Where are we really going to live ten maybe fifteen years from now? Obviously we will all have highly personalized environments to choose from. The world just keeps getting more and more personalized. Is it that far a stretch than to realize the vision of shelter as pictured above. Who would't want to live in a hippie commune pet sanctuary on the grounds of the castle from Beauty and the Beast? Tents and cats and castles, enough said.


What shelter means to me:

Shelter to me has to do with being with someone I love. Whether that be my family, my best friend, or my boyfriend.

I've lived in 9 different places since moving to Minneapolis. A few of my favorites were Nicollet Island, 2009 Upton Avenue, and where I live now, a high-rise building downtown on Grant Street. These places were my favorite for two reasons actually - they were with people I love, mentioned above, and they were beautifully furnished and kept clean.

So I would say that most important is love. Second comes the way the house is kept.

Nicollet Island Minneapolis

Upton Avenue House

The View from my Balcony 

So my priorities, I've realized, are to be somewhere that is clean and beautiful with someone I love. This might stem from being homeschooled for elementary school. My home life has come to mean very much to me. Especially after living in some not so beautiful, not so clean places during college.

Best Case Scenario: If these basic needs, cleanliness and care for aesthetic, were everyone's priority, I'm not sure much would change. I think people would get rid of a lot of "junk" to accomplish this though - living with less clutter would probably change people's lives. It changed mine. Careful and selective decoration, and reducing personal belongings by at least half is something everyone should do. Living with less is something to be proud of. Running a tight ship when it comes to dishes, laundry, chores, etc is not as easy as it sounds! 

Worst Case: I think we've all seen slums and unkept homes, imagine those places were eliminated from earth. Now imagine that there is a strict segregation between clean areas and slums. If there is one extreme, (extreme clean and love) then the other extreme exists (filth and broken homes). Maybe some people go to live underground, and that is a place that is ok not to decorate, or live by yourself. Or a colony of rebels, like crust punks of the future.