Assignment 1

GrowBot Documentation & Analysis

3, ديسمبر 2010



  • series of public interactive workshops
  • throwing “technologists” and “growers” together to learn from each other and produce something
  • workshops introduce general function of robotic technology in sensors to public, then ask about problems in maintaining and managing local gardens and ideas on how to solve them with self-guiding robots
  • Basically, open, discussion-based forums are held to come up with ideas to integrate robotic solutions into small, local, organic agricultural practices. These ideas are documented and shared among more of the public to generate even more ideas that will eventually bring these solutions into practice.


  • farming
  • Critical Design
  • a series of public and participatory workshops that bring together diverse constituencies to critically think about, discuss and debate, and re-make the near-term future


  • Members of the Public Design Workshop
    • Carl DiSalvo – Digital Media Assistant Professor at Georgia Tech; the “head honcho”
    • Thomas Barnwell – Digital Media graduate from Georgia Tech
    • Laura Fries (“Lady Rogue”) – cook, organizer of events, underground “social butterfly,” blogger; Her background remains a mystery.
    • Thomas Lodato – PhD student in Digital Media at Georgia Tech
    • Beth Schechter – Masters student in Digital Media at Georgia Tech; supporter of “do-goodery”
  • farmers


  • farming
  • a farm
  • a robot factory
  • a man using a computer
  • a booth at a convention


GrowBot incorporates several negotiations which have recently begun to move towards the forefront of discussions of culture and design. The interaction between digital media and the physical world is emerging as an extremely popular subject for speculation; catastrophic intersections between virtual systems and everyday life are emerging as a common topic in popular culture. GrowBot also addresses interaction across human boundaries, with ‘technologists’ leaving the ivory tower for a rare exchange of ideas with agricultural workers.

LIFEHACKER.COM is a weblog that allows users to search for videos, instructions and step-by-step tutorials about many computer related questions they may have.

It is set up where you can search for exactly what you’re looking for, or you can simply scan through article headlines and such to find something that interests you. The homepage contains some of the new and popular how-to articles.

This website is not your typical design, but it is definitely something that is used consistently nowadays. Many people find this website a lot more helpful than, say, a book, and a lot more inexpensive than having a professional fix your computer problems.


Utility vs Price- This website is, of course, useful: thousands of people solve their problems using it everyday. As of now, it is completely free to use, but should people have to pay to use it? Designers probably made the right decision on this one: I, personally, wouldn’t pay very much if any money at all to use something that I could possibly just Google online. Having all the information in one convenient place is very nice, but not for a price.

Online vs Offline- Most people have computers nowadays, or at least access to one, so having this website online is the best option for reaching as many people as possible. If it were offline, maybe having all these tutorials in a book, not nearly as many people would make use of it. An important concept today is having things paperless; not just to keep things eco-friendly (another reason why this website is a plus) but because having this be a website instead of a book makes it much more accessible to users.

Public versus Area-focused- Another reason this design is a good one is because anyone can use it. People want something they don’t have to sign up for or pay for, which is exactly what is: a free, no sign up necessary weblog. This makes it trouble free and a lot more appealing to users.


Eco-friendly design- is completely paperless and uses not man-made materials, so it does not harm the environment.

User-friendly design- This website is easy to use, helpful, and free to all who use it, making it a first choice to computer users with questions.

This design is something that is meant to help people, and along with helping its users, also helps the environment: a priority now. The negotiations I chose to discuss were the ones I found most important to the design of this website, and the taxonomies were the two main ones I thought the most prominent.

Café Habana

25, نوفمبر 2010

Café Habana was founded by Sean Meenan, well known for his eco-driven lifestyle. Café Habana’s owner is also responsible for the creation of a coloring book titled “Alternative Heroes”. This restaurant is classified as an eco-eatery. The plates are utensils are made of compostable materials like potatoes, sugarcane, and corn. Toilets are flushed with harvested rainwater. The door is recycled from a Latin American monastery. The smoothies are made from a bike-powered blender. The roof is made up of solar panels. Even Sean Meenan’s 1965 Lincoln convertible was converted to run on discarded cooking oil. Not only does the restaurant use sustainable means themselves, but they educate customers and the community about sustainability. While waiting in the restaurant, servers talk about sustainable methods. They also offer weekend programs of arts and crafts for kids. The only time the restaurant uses electricity is, of course, when solar-powered roofs don’t provide energy. Only on cloudy or rainy days does Café Habana use other sources of power. Even then, however, things like a bike-powered blender can be used. Toilets can still be flushed with harvested rainwater. After speaking to a worker from Café Habana, we were able to go more in-depth into the workings of this eco-eatery and discover how much they do in fact promote sustainable methods. Not only do they reach out to their customers, but Café Habana participates in a number of expositions to promote sustainable means of living. At the Earth Day Expo, they work with local businesses and teach others about composting and gardening. Habana Outpost in particular, boasts a thriving business, bringing the community together in more ways than one in their Outpost Market, where local designers and artists unite in a colorful experience.

The negotiations that we’ve chosen to focus on are profit vs. environment and waste vs. recycle. The purpose of the profit vs. environment negotiation is that, instead of a focus on earning the largest profit possible, there is the consideration of things such as discounting items that are made by the customer through sustainable means that allows for a eco-friendly environment. Also, the capital spent at the beginning of the project is greater than the average. In the case of a typical restaurant, the amount of money utilized at the start is less because instead of considering a more “green” energy source, they focus purely on future profits, not thinking of the money that could be saved in using a renewable source of energy such as solar power.  In place of a more traditional means of energy, Café Habana supports itself with its solar powered roof, offering excess energy to its neighbors and saving money on electricity.

Our second negotiation is waste vs. recycle. Obviously this topic is gaining momentum in the world today. Now, people are trying to move away from simply throwing things away and moving towards recycling products. In the spirit of “going green”, Nike created a soccer jersey made of old plastic bottles. In fact, nine World Cup teams were wearing uniforms made of recycled bottles. Just as Sean Meenan has converted his car to run on recycled cooking oil from his restaurant, people are now in search of new ways to recycle and reduce their carbon footprint on the world, and Café Habana is leading these people forward. Instead of disposable plastic utensils, they use compostable materials. Although these are much more expensive for the average person, Café Habana buys them in bulk, making it more cost-effective for them and, once again, making Café Habana more eco-friendly.


24, نوفمبر 2010

Google Buzz is one of Google’s attempts to provide people with social tools to better connect with their friends.  It is, however, only one social network on the internet.

Facebook is one of Google’s prime competitors. In many ways, both companies are fighting for web superiority.  Many new developments each have made are attempts at taking over a service or feature the other boasts of having. Buzz is similar to Facebook’s newsfeed. One of the newest Facebook features, Facebook Messages, has been called a Gmail killer by some, and Facebook’s version of Google Wave by others.

In addition to Facebook, there are many other social networks on the internet. One of the newest ones is Path, a social network based entirely around a smartphone app. Path advertises as a more personal network than others that are available.

Google has blogged about their thoughts on social networking. On the blog, Joe Kraus(Director of Project Management) says

When you live apart, things change. Suddenly it takes effort. It used to take a lot more effort when writing a letter was the primary way to communicate over distance as opposed to email or IM or telephone. But, even with our current technology, it still takes work. As a result, we share less with our friends. And when we do share, we tend to share the big stuff (big shifts at work, major family events like birthdays or school milestones) and leave the small stuff behind. We start to feel less connected because we don’t know the details.

The promise of the social web is about making it easy to share the small stuff — to make it effortless and rebuild that feeling of connectedness that comes from knowing the details.

Because of this focus, Google chose to add specific features to Buzz. They put emphasis on easily sharing any images, videos, updates, and more.  Their official video about this feature talks about how one can easily share and see what their friends are doing, and even customize their feed to show what they feel is important.

One thing that Google did not foresee as a large issue that really hurt them later was the issue of privacy.  When Buzz first launched, it automatically set up every user that chose to use the service with followers and people to follow. It also by default set this list of people as public to anyone who looked at your profile. One of the major problems was that this information was public, and even beyond that your ‘followers’ were automatically made up of people you frequently emailed and chatted with. In addition to this, Google automatically registered every user for Buzz. If they chose to opt out and disable Buzz, people were still able to follow them. This lead to some very angry users(such as this one:, as well as a class-action lawsuit that Google has since settled. These initial mistakes were quickly remedied by Google, but not before the popularity of Buzz plummeted. While a website such as Facebook, where everything a user posts must be added at or after signup, may be able to get away with privacy concerns, the fact that Buzz was automatically connected with Gmail and other Google services created a different user base than that of Facebook, and the privacy violations went well beyond even legal standards.

Additional Sources:


Online communication versus closeness

In a time where a majority of our social interactions take place online, a key negotiation is whether people become closer or farther apart when they can communicate with one another instantly and whenever they want. Although communication is instant, it is not necessarily convenient to a person, especially in this current age, to share every small thing they do, say,  see, and think. Google asserts that the way to combine online communication and closeness between individuals is by looking to the ‘small things’ that individuals share with one another. Buzz attempts to solve this problem by making it easy to share images, location, thoughts, comments, and more. They even include an interface that allows the users to choose which events posted they want to see, and which they do not.

Public versus privacy and security

Privacy has always been a concern online. With the emergence of the social network and the internet, as well as instant communication, being more prevalent in everyday life than ever before, privacy is even more of an issue.  Google’s first mistakes with Buzz’s release highlight this. Is there truly a safe place for information to be stored online? Users who thought they were able to safely store their frequent contacts, stories, favorite blogs and online websites, and more found their information quite public when Buzz was launched.  Most, if not all, social networking websites, as well as many other websites, have privacy settings each individual user is able to set. When a user signs up for a website and chooses their privacy settings, they are setting an expectation for the company that runs the site to keep their information safe. In the case of Buzz, the trust that users put into Google regarding their personal information became misplaced. Is it the user’s fault if their personal information is made public, or is it the website that betrayed the user’s trust that is to blame?

Taxonometric Categories:

Community-Based Design

Buzz classifies as Community-Based Design because it is Google’s attempt to create a social network for its users. It brings people together as a community and allows them to communicate and share with each other.

Online Design

Because it is a website, Buzz has specific negotiations that would not exist if it were a physical source. Privacy and communication concerns become huge issues.

Inner-City Arts

Documentation Classroom


  • Founded in 1993 by public school administrators Bob Bates and Irwin Jaeger
  • Formed partly in response to California’s Proposition 13, which was added to the state constitution in 1978.  It resulted in several tax caps that virtually eliminated arts education from many California public schools.


  • ICA occupied a small, temporary space for several years. This is similar to many other not-for-profits, but it wasn’t conducive to the learning environment ICA was trying to be.
  • Architect Michael Maltzan collaborated with the ICA team to repurpose an abandoned garage in Los Angeles’s Skid Row.  The finished product is described on the website for MoMA’s “Small Scale, Big Change” page, as “employ[ing] a restrained and unified architectural language of simple, abstracted geometries with accents of bright orange, in which student creativity takes center stage. Highly adaptable interior and exterior spaces are intimate yet airy arenas for kids; tArchitecture of campushe main courtyard is a comfortable environment in which to gather, play, and explore, a haven in a neighborhood whose outdoor space is often unsafe.
  • ICA’s building was designed with community in mind; low, bright white stucco walls communicate the openness of the organization to the community and its commitment to upkeep, even on Skid Row.

What do they do?

  • As stated on their website, ICA’s mission statement is: “Inner-City Arts provides elementary, middle and high school students, many living in Los Angeles’ poorest neighborhoods, with the tools and skills they need to succeed academically and personally.”
  • ICA works in partnership with many Los Angeles area schools to provide school age children with the only art education they will have during the school day. ICA allows students who are most at risk for academic failure (those with Limited English Proficiency, living in high-poverty areas) to experience academic and personal growth.  ICA’s after school program preoccupies students who might otherwise get involved with gangs or other violent activities.

AnalysisStudents on campus

Information that we would need to gather to understand the negotiations

  • We would have to research the architect who designed the campus as well as the neighborhood that the institution is located in.
  • The area is located in the inner city. Inner cities are usually considered rough parts of town, so it would be necessary to gain information on inner cities, such as the education systems in inner cities, drop out rates, as well as the positive effects of inner city programs like this one.
  • We could also look at how the art benefits the children, not only in academics, but also in the fact that the kids will stay away from bad activities such as gangs and drugs.


The Fun Theory: Reassessment

24, نوفمبر 2010

The Fun Theory: Piano Staircase

by teamWill


Incentive and Social Change:

In the past, companies relied on penalties and extra costs to keep customers behaving in a way that is beneficial to the company. This method of thinking created a a chasm and disconnection between people and organizations. As a result, when companies attempted to inspire change for the better – for the environment, society, or individual – the citizens they hoped to inspire ignored them. People adopted the mindset that big companies were out to squeeze every cent from their bank accounts, and were very reluctant to trust these companies if they had a genuine concern. In reaction to this, companies have recently started to give incentives for good behavior instead of penalties for bad behavior. As an example, All State and several other car insurance companies currently offer incentives for not being in a car accident over a specified time. This simple change in approaching the customer has made customers much more willing to trust these companies. As this trust has built, some companies have jumped from encouraging behavior benefitting the company to encouraging behaviors benefitting society. In the Tin Drum Asian Café located in Tech Square, consumers get a discount for choosing a healthier meal option. The unique aspect about the Fun Theory experiment is the seemingly idealistic nature of the project. Each new experiment in the contest has no connection with buying Volkswagon, which is a completely new way of approaching advertisement and social obligation.

Cost and Functionality:

Often a deciding factor in business ventures, the relationship between cost and functionality is a delicate one. If the costs outweigh the benefits of the pursuit, then the idea is often dropped. For decades, cost-cutting in the area of environmental responsibility led to today’s environmentally degraded situation. Often, the benefits of a good idea are unforeseen and unexpected, and this unanticipated aspect of life is not accounted for in the design process of new businesses, products, and ideas. Perhaps part of the beauty in the Fun Theory is its facilitation of a more unassuming mindset. Though not purely philanthropic, the Fun Theory is also not purely business focused. The ideas constructed through the Fun Theory challenge seemed to overlook cost, at least initially, to bring about change.


Activist Design:

This experiment is taking an active role in changing our world. The idea behind the Fun Theory is that fun can inspire change. The Piano Staircase seeks to surprise people who do not expect to see a staircase that they use everyday turned into a functional piano. This will cause the everyday commuters to be thrown off their daily routine of a quiet, faceless commute into something exciting. Curious, the people will want to walk up the piano stairs instead of the escalator, which most of them ride every day.

Community Design:

The concept of the Piano Staircase was conceived out of concern for the community. The community’s issue of choosing easier routes over healthier ones that required exercise was decided as an easily fixed and potentially very beneficial project idea. From start to finish, the design was made for and relied on the community.

Enjoyability Factor:

For the Piano Staircase project to have the desired effect on the community, it had to be enjoyable. Without the factor of enjoyability or fun, no change would have occurred. Travelers would have looked at the stairs and seen a change, but would not have been inspired to change their own actions. The success of this project relied on the enjoyability factor.

Incentive-driven Change:

In Government, there are two main lines of thinking about change. Change can come from the stick method or the carrot method. The stick method pushes citizens to change through fear, force, and punishments. This is very effective, but once the coercion is removed, people rarely continue doing what they were forced to do: they had seen it as a burden for so long. The carrot method gives citizens benefits for good behavior. This method can lead to results even after the incentives have been removed, because the people associated the action with reward. The Piano Staircase takes the carrot approach. By offering the incentive of a fun experience, the Staircase may make people think twice every time they look at stairs, giving the desired effect.

Social Philanthropy:

In the Piano Staircase, no benefit can be seen for the workers and funders of the project. There is no money that seems to be flowing back to them for their investment. Their work, though, overflowed with social repercussions and benefits. This project was basically an outpouring of money for the social good, improving the local community and inspiring others to do the same.

SitBPE | Hannah Williams, Deborah Hudson, Sean Sims, Trey McMillon

The Idea: The New York Street Advertising Takeover (NYSAT) was a project operated by the Public Ad Campaign that set out to better the landscape in which New Yorkers work and live.  The founders and participants of the project considered advertisements in public spaces to be derogatory and a misuse of the landscape.

Many of the billboards and advertisements targeted during NYSAT were unregistered with the city yet received no prosecution. The Public Ad Campaign felt that this failure on the part of the city to take action against the mistreatment of the public’s environment lead to the public’s desensitization to the constant barrage of ads.

NYSAT volunteers whitewashed a number of illegal public ads in the city.  Many of the 120 street level billboards that were removed and replaced with public art were owned and operated by a company known as NPA City Outdoor.

The Goal:

Members of the project were primarily interested in bringing the public spaces in New York City back to the citizens.  Jordan Seiler, one of the leaders of the project from the Public Ad Campaign, has been quoted as saying that the reason for conducting the project was, ” to better the city’s psychological health by improving the environment that those who live in the city or are visiting interact with.”

NYSAT sought to expose the problems that resulted from the NPA’s (and other advertisers’) use of public space as a placard for consumerism. The PAC claims that the NPA’s activities not only physically change the environment created for the public but also take a psychological toll on those who live in the spaces altered by the advertising industry.

The NYSAT’s goal was not solely to condemn the NPA, but also to make known to citizens their ability to contribute to and improve the environment in which we live. The spaces that were returned to their original condition by the NYSAT became, “empty spaces on which the public could project their own thoughts and desires.”

The Project:

The event has been held twice thus far. The first event took place on April 25, 2009, and the second on October 25, 2009.  The April version of the project saw 27 volunteers removing illegal ads across the city, with 50 artists returning to the locations to bring the space back to the people.  In October, the project had grown to nearly 100 volunteers.

Awareness of the project was left to be spread by word of mouth for months before the first event. Both events were carefully organized; Volunteers were divided into teams and assigned specific areas and times to cover.  Activities of the NYSAT were conducted in brought daylight in order to remove any suspicion of the intentions of the project and to also make the public aware of the event. All in all, the volunteers of NYSAT renovated over 200 spaces previously used by the NPA as billboards for advertising. These spaces were not only stripped of the advertisements but also turned into places on which artists were able to express their sentiments and better the environment in which New Yorkers reside.

Between the two events, roughly 10 members of the project were arrested on various charges and a large number of the billboards were reclaimed by NPA City Outdoor within the hour of them being wiped clean. However, the efforts of the NYSAT were intensely documented by photographers to continue the aims of the NYSAT beyond the events held.

Media Coverage of Event

The internet quickly took notice of Seiler’s project, as many blogs posted about the group and put up hundreds of pictures of the newly painted street art.  Soon a few major newspapers caught on, including the New York Times and the Toronto Star.  However, few people outside of New York are aware of the advertising takeover due to a lack of major news coverage.  On an interesting note, the Toronto government took notice of NYSAT’s visit to Canada, and rolled out whitewash teams of their own to help clean up the city.

THE TORONTO STAR–guerilla-action-aims-to-turn-advertising-space-into-public-space?bn=1







Private Sector vs. Public Sector :

The negotiation of the protection of the private sector over the public one is shown through the conflict of the interest of the companies to protect their investment by making the ideas of what they profit from seen everyday by the public and the Public Ad Campaign’s interest in protecting the rights of the citizens to not be illegally bombarded with the ideas of major companies while in a space that is meant to be for their own expression.

Marketing vs.  Expression :

This project addresses a negotiation between Marketing and Expression. While advertisements can be seen as a form of art, their goals are to convince and impose on the consumer not to serve as an expression of values or a means by which to ask a question. Marketing is not a malicious action in itself. However, when it begins to filter through our everyday activities, that is when it becomes an encroachment on our lifestyles and on the way we view ourselves. The founders  NYSAT clearly believed that the NPA’s use of public space as a place for advertisement dimmed down the importance of public expression in the creation of art (versus expression by the things we purchase and consume).

Assignment 1- part 2

24, نوفمبر 2010

As the founder of Clinica Verde specified in her email, there are many concerns that make this project difficult to complete. Mrs. Susan Lyons mentions the struggle of eco-friendly design vs. comfort and utility, as we agreed upon in Part 1 of this assignment. But she also mentions the fundraising aspect of the project, something we had not originally considered as a negotiation.

The taxonometric categories we labeled this design with originally still apply: sustainable, environmental, and community design. But we could also add Donation Design and Societal Improvement to that list of tags.

In order to learn more about the eco-friendly aspect of this design, we will have to delve more into the details of the sustainable qualities of the building.

Which elements of the clinic will be environmentally friendly?

The clinic is completely self-sustainable completely taking advantage of natural day lighting, passive cooling, water conservation, and solar electric energy generation.

What effects on the usefulness of the building and the success of Clinica Verde’s vision would the eco-friendly aspect have?

Directly from their website, under frequently asked questions, one asked, “Why are you building “green” clinics?”

We believe that health should start from the ground up, beginning with sustainable building practices that take a holistic approach to the environment, community and life quality of the people we serve. Sustainable building and design saves energy, protects and conserves natural resources, contributes to a safe, healthy indoor environment, and has a positive impact on the community.

Bill Bylund, the architect of Clinica Verde:

Bill Bylund is architect and principal of Valley Architects. He began his career as a designer at HOK Architects in San Francisco, where he worked on such projects as the Stanford Library, Ryhad Airport and Moscone Center. In 1980 he and partner Tom Faherty founded Valley Architects, whose projects include the Napa City/County Library Expansion, Japan Airlines Flight Training Center, Santen, Inc. corporate headquarters, Towpath Village Expansion and a number of wineries including Domain Carneros, Domaine Napa Winery, Rossini Winery, Villa Francioni Winery in Brazil and Monte Xanic Winery in Mexico. He is a member of or has been active in the following civic groups: The Napa Valley Environmental Design Group, National Trust for Historic Preservation, St. Helena Community Center Group, Urban Design Group, Sierra Club, Napa Land Conservancy and Calistoga Arts Council. He has been a LEED Accredited Professional since 2006. (from

Societal Improvement comes into play when considering the social quality of life in Nicaragua. With a very high infant mortality rate (more than 30 times of the United States) and a staggering maternal mortality rate, Nicaragua is in dire need of social reform.

These charts show the causes of death in children under 5 years old. 100% of the deaths are caused by neonatal deaths, relating to or affecting the infant during the first month after birth. This clinic is designed to educate the women and provide healthcare and supplemental teaching materials. Clinica Verde also focuses on supplying information on what types of foods are safe and good to grow for children.

We would also like to know how the women are going to be able to travel to the clinic. There are few means of transportation available, so the location needs to be fairly easy to get to by foot in order to make this truly a community design. If the community cannot use it, what’s the point?

Clinica Verde is located in Boaco, Nicaragua, having a population around 56,900 people, around 1% of the inhabitants. The terrain throughout the city is very hilly, hence the nickname, “Cuidad de Dos Pisos” (or The Two-Story City). Although the land was donated by the mayor, is this the most ideal place to have a clinic?

please refer to the video from the Assignment 0 post for more details:

NoPark; Assignment 1

24, نوفمبر 2010


EHC logo

The NO PARK green space is a project actualized by the Environmental Health Clinic in New York City.  Rather than addressing health issues like a medical clinic, they work to solve environmental issues brought forth by “impatients.” Patients at this clinic are referred to as impatients because they are too impatient to wait for government action to improve environmental health.  Impatients set up an appointment with the EHC to discuss environmental issues in their area.  Their so-called prescription is data detailing what they can personally do to improve environmental health, and how they can get involved with community action as well.  As well as diagnosing the issues of impatients, the EHC conducts their own experiments and projects.

Natalie Jeremijenko, a renowned contemporary artist and engineer with a background in biochemistry, physics, neuroscience, and precision engineering, currently heads this organization.  She is known for radical ideas and projects involving the environment and social change.  As well as heading the EHC, she is an assistant professor at NYU in the Visual Arts department.  TechTacular learned of the NoPark project through listening to Jeremijenko’s speech, “The Art of the Eco-mind Shift.”

NoPark is a solution to an environmental health problem that is most prevalent in cities.  This project tackles the need for more green space in big cities and the issue of excess pollutants. This project places micro engineered green spaces adjacent to fire hydrants in the no parking zones.  The green space mainly consists of low growth mosses and grasses.  The NoPark zones not only provide more green space but also serve to prevent oily storm water from running into the rivers, stabilize the soil, and be a durable and low maintenance surface cover.  NoPark areas also help clear out road pollutants and work to decrease carbon dioxide levels by sequestering air pollutants.  While these spaces continue to function as emergency vehicle parking, they will now have a greater purpose on the many non-emergency days.


Taxonomic categories

Activist Design, Urban Space Design, Environmental Corrective Design, Micro-Landscape Design, Fire-Hydrant Garden Design

Activist design: Through the Environmental Health Clinic, environmentally conscious people within a community are able to go in and talk to workers of the clinic who can help them figure out ways to remedy their concerns.

Urban Space Design: The designers of this project have used the urban setting to simultaneously address the issues of insufficient green space and excess pollutants.

Environmental Corrective Design: The NoPark project was designed to provide a green solution for the issue of chemicals and toxins in the street flowing into rivers and estuaries.

Micro-Landscape Design: The aspect of increased green space with NoPark involves placing plant life in an area that is generally unused, like no parking zones. Since these zones are small, the idea of miniature landscaping comes into play.

Fire-Hydrant Garden Design: These gardens are planted in no parking zones, which are normally in front of fire hydrants. However, in the case of an emergency, fire trucks or emergency vehicles can park over the gardens and they will still regrow.


Negotiations include: who maintains these green spaces and how they are maintained; how pedestrians and commuters treat these spaces; how the project is financed and who pays what; and where will these spaces exist and for how long

Maintaining the space vs. who should maintain it: These projects are completely voluntary so whoever plans out the projects must have a team that regularly maintains the space. If not, the plants could get out of control, and it would end up looking like a mess of weeds.

Recognizing aesthetic value of a space vs. viewing it as a waste of space: this ties into the maintenance of the project because if the space looks aesthetically pleasing then passersby may recognize that it’s there to serve a purpose or simply respect it because it looks presentable.

Cost vs. Gain: these projects are voluntary, so in order to pay for them the project coordinators have to use funds from their own pocket. This poses a challenge because although the intent is for the benefit of the community, some people are reluctant when it comes to using their money to help a local cause. This is especially the case when it has the potential to fail because it isn’t a fully established organization but a team of people planting gardens in urban areas. There is also the possibility of having to replant then over and over due to destruction from either emergency vehicles or troublemakers.

Location vs. Durability: these gardens have to be strategically placed since they are funded through the assets of everyday people, and there are several no parking zones around the city. They need to be placed in areas where they will provide the most benefit and last the longest.

Urban Slums

24, نوفمبر 2010

Urban slums are areas of self-developed residences at fringe areas of major urban cities. This means that basic infrastructure, such electricity or sewage, is improvised, stolen, or simply not present in these areas. Put eloquently by anthropologist Oscar Lewis, “the culture of poverty is both an adaptation and a reaction of the poor to their marginal position in a class-stratified, highly individualistic, capitalistic society.”

Despite their many obvious problems and often bottomless-pit nature, the thing that urban slums do right is provide housing to poor, itinerant people near the areas they may work or desire to work. Another result of this limited mobility is that individual slums themselves form distinct cultures of their own. This immediacy also provides faster opportunities for capital gain when successful, as well as quick proving grounds to weed out bad ideas for gain.

This lack of rigidity or plan allows them to negotiate the gaps between supply and demand, concept and production, production and availability, and even adaptation and replacement seemingly instantaneously. Additionally, the generalized understanding of slum nature also allows for the boundaries of privacy, permanence, definitiveness, and ownership to be blurred as slum populations fluctuate, interact, and adapt to challenges and opportunities that arise within their hectic frame of existence. Since immediacy is so embedded in the nature of these settlements, attempts to revitalize them into the city proper often fail because the rigid process of traditional development conflicts in a way that either stifles the thriving culture of the slum or results in the slum developing without regard to the effort. Those efforts that are most successful are those that offer minimal obstruction to the existing fabric of the slums and allow the slums to continue to develop accumulatively and organically using the intervention as a springboard for progress.

While they may be unsanitary, limited resources combined with the density of these settlements creates surprisingly eco-friendly dwelling sites. While this is obviously not a consciously achieved result, the fact that these spaces thrive on so little means a lot could be learned and applied from them. However, many of the conditions that allow this are probably cultural so it wouldn’t be all that easy.


Poverty vs. Capitalism: The main negotiation achieved by urban slums is that of providing poor, marginalized people with residences in urban areas. Because of their concentrated wealth, large cities often exclude or deter people of lower (let alone the lowest) socioeconomic status from living within them. Real estate works by attempting to make properties more desirable than others, and in urban areas that usually means the addition of both space and costly amenities beyond the economic reach of most itinerant citizen in developing countries. By using undesired or fringe areas to build bare-bones structures for themselves, inhabitants of urban slums find a solution to the disparity between supply and demand for affordable housing in urban areas. This results in both increased and decreased values of areas near slums: increase because of the economic opportunities awarded by immediate access to a large number of people in a concentrated area, but decreased because of the perception of slum areas as underdeveloped and dangerous.

Development Efficiency (planned vs. accumulative): Urban slums also bring up negotiations between the efficiency of itinerant spaces and planned spaces. Western society usually assumes that planning is the direct means to maximum efficiency and rewards, but urban slums challenge this perception by coping with problems of space and flexibility more accurately and expediently than any planned settlement does. Another problem with planning is that the people who are educated in planning more than likely come from privileged backgrounds so their ideas of efficient and successful planning often embedded with some preconception of open space as a requirement for comfort. While space is undeniably nice, sometimes supplying space does not coincide with the larger needs of the public. This dichotomy of intent is exemplified in this map comparing space occupancy of golf courses vs. informal settlements in Nairobi. Nairobi slum population: 200,000 to 1,000,000+. Nairobi golf course population: squirrels… and maybe some itinerant caddies.

“Fun” and expanded links for slums:

Google Maps:
Rocinha / Vidigal, Rio de Janeiro
Kowloon Walled City, Hong Kong
Kibera, Nairobi
Dharavi, Mumbai

Mansheiet Naser, Cairo, Egypt

Favela Chic
Life in Rocinha
Epic Kowloon Walled City Thread
UN-HABITAT (tons of info)
How Slums Can Save The Planet
Oscar Lewis
The Slum Economy Revisited
Nairobi Land Use: Slums vs. Golf Courses
Mansheiet Nasser

Bethania Branch of SABHA

24, نوفمبر 2010


The Bethania branch of SABHA began in December of 2004 as a response to the destruction caused by the Asian tsunami. The Atlanta International School (known commonly as AIS), a private school located in Buckhead, joined forces with the Kodaikanal International School in southern India, using the school’s local knowledge in order to send aid to those who were in most need. It was through the Kodaikanal International School that AIS came into contact with the Bethania Orphanage, formally known as the Bethania Association. Located in the small town of Kannivadi, Tamil Nadu, the orphanage houses both orphans and needy children.


In the summer of 2005, Mrs. Shanta Kalyanasundaram, the founder of parent organization SABHA and a teacher at AIS, formally adopted the orphanage and created a student run CAS (Community, Action, Service being the three pillars in the International Baccalaureate’s extracurricular requirements) group in order to raise money to support it. The Bethania group is, therefore, run almost completely by the students, including both high school students as well as middle school ones. Each year these students plan and run the annual Bethania Benefit, an event that acts as the group’s primary fundraiser. As this is such a large event, involving not only a dinner but entertainment, which usually manifests itself as a varied assortment of performances by the students, as well, it takes most of the year to plan. Every week, the group meets and discusses the details of this fundraiser, which has traditionally been an immense success, raising money not only through the tickets purchased by the attendees, but also through the items bought in the live auction that takes place throughout the evening.


The fact that Bethania relies so heavily on the students for its success is only one part of what makes it such a unique organization. Using the concept of sustainable development as its basis, the Bethania branch strives to provide aid to the orphanage through less traditional means. Instead of simply sending money, the organization chooses to provide the orphanage with the tools it needs to cultivate its own continued success. In the past, Bethania has raised money for livestock, seeds, a proper water supply system, and education for the children. These projects along with many others have served to improve the lives of the children drastically with the final item being the most important. The Bethania branch believes that, if given the proper education, a child will be able to better their lives and then, in turn, better the lives of others living at the orphanage. This use of a cyclical model of benefit has proven to be extremely successful so far, much more so than the traditional one-way flow model that is seen so often in foreign aid models.

For more info see:


The concept of sustainable development and sustainable design focuses solely on creating something that is either renewable or capable of supporting itself without additional input. This has been applied to the idea of foreign aid with varying success. The plan created by the Bethania branch of SABHA falls under sustainable development and design as it aims to create an environment in which the receivers of aid, in this case being the orphanage, can use skills and infrastructure they have been provided with to support themselves without any additional interference from the organization. This forces the orphanage to sustain itself and, in turn, produce a renewable resource in the form of its educated children, who can then go on to join the workforce as skilled laborers.

The two negotiations we find the most interesting are: the relationship that exists between the orphanage and the Bethania organization in terms of “donor” and “receiver”, raising the question of who being what, and the effect of education on the community as a whole, how it influences development and quality of life not only for those being educated but their surroundings as well. Through the Bethania case study, these two areas of interest raise interesting facts as well as questions, creating a complex web of exchange between not only the organization and the orphanage, but between the orphanage and its surrounding communities, allowing the organization to indirectly benefit a much broader area of need.


Government vs bicyclists

Initially we viewed the relationship between government and the bicyclist participants of Critical Mass as a negotiation between breaking laws to draw attention to a situation and having the right to peacefully protest. However, with further research, cases of law enforcement showing unnecessary hostility and withholding rights from Critical Mass bikers surfaced.

Motorists vs bicyclists

To be effective, Critical Mass must balance peacefully highlighting the safety issue for bikers and further irritating motorists. We searched for more information concerning motorist reactions, emphasizing the extreme attitudes.

These two negotiations are the most critical because the interaction between the government and bicyclist and motorists and bicyclists can easily be witnessed; visible evidence of these negotiations flare up in daily life for many individuals in media and direct experience.

Videos about Critical Mass:

This video celebrates the 10th anniversary of Critical Mass in San Francisco with clips from rides and commentary from participants. The footage indicates the hostility between motorists and bikers.

This short documentary emphasizes the negotiation between government and bikers. The film was made in March 2007 after a new law prohibiting the assembly of more than 50 people in New York City. The police clash with the first Critical Mass participants since this law was put into effect.

This video powerfully portrays the concept of Critical Mass with simple graphics. The clip argues for the environmental importance of bicycling as a means of transportation and thus a needed respect from motorists and other sources of traffic, reinforcing the “safety-promoting design” taxonomy.

Ride Locations:

Clearly, Critical Mass has taken root across the globe as a means of “urban outreach”. Since the conflict between motorists and bicyclists is most prevalent in cities, the purpose of the design fits well into this taxonomic category. The spontaneous yet influential nature of the event is contagious; as demonstrated by the world map, hundreds of cities appreciate the effectiveness of the design and embrace this means of protesting hostility towards bikers.

Critical Mass Ride Documentation:

Critical Mass 2008 - Budapest

Reactive Movements to Critical Mass:

Scientifically, a critical mass is defined as “an amount or level needed for a specific result or new action to occur.” Rather appropriately, Critical Mass rides have inspired  multiple biking movements, including Critical Manners, Bike Summer, Kidical Mass, Critical Sass, Tweed Run, Free Tibet Rides, and the San Jose Bike Party. Other passionate bikers recognize the power of Critical Mass to draw attention to a certain situation, whether that involves the environment, the rights of bikers, inspiring children and families to be active, female unity, or the human rights of Tibetans. The inspirational nature of Critical Mass reflects the design as a “massive collaboration” and “community cooperation”; unity plays a significant role in Critical Mass’s essence.

Critical Mass Incidents:

These reports reflect the tension in our two key negotiations.

Riga, Latvia- Policemen arrest Critical Mass participants without vocalizing any accusations and ran over bicyclists with their vehicles.

Honolulu, Hawaii- Police tackle a woman peacefully riding her bike in Critical Mass, which results in her hospitalization

Minneapolis, Minnesota- 19 Critical Mass riders arrested.

Berlin, Germany- Police confiscate a Critical Mass participant’s bicycle during a ride with 60 others.

Chicago, Illinois- A drunk driver runs into the mass of bikers and flees the scene.

Berkeley, California- A motorists intentionally drives into the Critical Mass, damaging bicycles.

Sacramento, California- Police oversee the event and issue citations, occupying more of the road than the Critical Mass participants.

Evidence of Impact:

-In New York City, a Department of Transportation Commissioner was hired in 2007 with a vision for creating a bike-friendly city.

-Grassroots efforts to change mindsets and treatment of bikers in Istanbul gains momentum.

-RAND corporation analyzed Critical Mass as an effective yet spontaneous design in “What Next for Networks and Netwars?”



Assignment 1 – Part 1 and 2

24, نوفمبر 2010


Group GWAM

Many people are against constructing massive buildings and projects, because of how much space and materials they consume.  However, the designs given through giant eco-friendly building designs can solve many problems.  Green building is good for the environment because it’s energy efficient, which reduces the need to burn fossil fuels and helps fight climate change—one of society’s most pressing environmental issues. This type of design building could be directly beneficial to us since we do live in the large urban environment of Atlanta.  It would not only help us today, but it will help the future of earth. The benefits from implementing these buildings are endless:

It provides accessible green spaces for dense urban living, grows fresh produce in the ‘concrete’ jungle, and just provides an overall cleaner atmosphere for living in.

This type of design could also be incorporated into business buildings to help them be self sustaining and efficient.  This can be done by collecting rain water and recycling it through filters using it throughout the building in its gardens and other facilities that require water.  Cutting down costs and energy is key for this to be efficient and beneficial to the future.

Some new possible taxonomies:

  • Urban Living Design
  • Concrete Farming Design Within a City
  • Eco-friendly Design with New Innovation

Initial Negotiations:

  • Between the grower and the consumer, how the design project is financed and how it is paid for, between the people and the green space

Negotiations out of text:

  • the Green Giant and the Earth, energy used and energy conserved, initial cost and maintenance, productivity of employees of the building and the surrounding environment


  • the Green Giant and the Earth:  It will have positive impacts on the earth bringing a more stable atmosphere and other Eco-friendly benefits.
  • energy used and energy conserved: it will be a more efficient building in that it will use less energy and water to maintain its structural status.
  • initial cost and maintenance:  It may cost a little bit more in the beginning building the green giant, but in the long run, it is able to stay kept up with less maintenance.
  • productivity of employees of the building and the surrounding environment:  there was a concern in traditional office buildings that having all glass exterior walls to let light in hindered the work of the employees because it irritated them when the beam of light became to strong.  With the implementation of the greenery system incorporated into the building it would help reduce this preventable aggravation.

Two Negotiations:

  1. The first negotiation would have one of the initial negotiations that we came up with.  That one would have to be between the grower of the produce and the consumer of the produce.  We found this relationship intriguing because it is unusual to find farm in a concrete, urban area.  Therefore it would take the consumer by surprise and change his or her whole experience buying fresh produce to a whole new level.
  2. The second negotiation we found interesting was the one between the energy used and the energy conserved.  The Green Giant would be Eco-friendly therefore it would be good for the environment.  By being good for the environment, this mean it would be using less energy to operate.  The building would incorporate solar panels into its window frame and/or rooftops, it would collect rain water and process it within its own filters, and it would require less energy to operate an air conditioning system throughout the building with an open floor plan.


Dead Drops Assignment 1

24, نوفمبر 2010


Clean files Vs the spread of viral and illegal files

The people who wish to participate in Dead Drops should      appreciate the experience and the excitement of sharing  information and files with somewhat ‘virtual’ friends. However,    there are people in the modern day who take advantage of such  public spaces to plant viruses and other types of illegal information  using these USBs. If such a person decides to plant viruses, any  innocent participant who finds the dead drop, and plugs their  computer in, can be instantly sabotaged.

Dead Drop location Vs property damage while placing Dead Drops

The video on hosts a video on the home page that is an exciting introduction for future participants of dead drops. They give various examples and a step by step process into how to create a space for the USBs. In the video, they install USBs into the side of walls by stuccoing the USB into a hole. Also they show a participant using rubber cement to stick a dead drop under a payphone at a subway station. As wonderful and exciting as this program is, people need to be cautious as to where they install these dead drops. Shop owners may not be too keen on a USB sticking out of the side of their brick wall and the government may not be thrilled that the participants are cementing USBs to their property.


Community Sharing Design:

Through this program, the community participants share data with one another. The program is more of an experience than it is like the internet, another form of community sharing primarily data based. The experience involves the hunt, the search for the dead drops to add to ones collection of gained information. It also consists of the thrill of the find and the excitement of looking for a new one, along with planting your own and hoping that people find them, almost like a scavenger hunt. However, it is different from a scavenger hunt because, instead of just gaining clues to the next one, you gain information and ideas that would otherwise remain unknown and unshared.

Sharing Unexposed Ideas Design

For a participant that doesn’t have any connections, this can be a form of networking ideas. They can spread their ideas and get feedback and have others share their ideas. For example, an inventor knows who to give their ideas to, however, a rookie, or amateur, wouldn’t know how to get the necessary attention to get their ideas seen or published. The Dead Drops system can help spread these ideas. People have become famous off of websites such as and with their music. This could be an alternate way of spreading ideas and sharing them with the entire community.


Advertisement vs. ineffective solution

The Skip Garden concept requires a great deal of advertisement. The focus of the idea is on a shared garden for the community. Those members of the community that need free produce are the ones with the inability to provide for themselves or their family. The cities in which the Skip Gardens are most likely to be implemented in are those with large amounts of construction projects. These booming cities tend to attract a larger community of impoverished individuals. This natural tendency provides a larger probability for a successful program. However, without sufficient advertisement, those who are in the most need for Skip Gardens would not be able to utilize them. The program relies on advertisement in order to be an effective and efficient solution to a large problem: food for the poor.

Necessary gardening conditions vs. poor harvest

The gardening conditions are crucial to the success of the Skip Garden program. Without appropriate weather conditions and provisional care, the harvest will be unproductive. Problems may arise regarding this condition and the location of the construction site. In other words, the weather conditions of the garden depend on the location of the construction, which cannot be controlled. Skip gardens in construction site dumpsters will only benefit the community if the dumpster is in an area exposed to sunlight and rain. The gardens must also be looked after regularly. Gardening, especially when growing produce, demands substantial care and attention. The skip garden plan is not simply a one-time implementation of a good idea. It requires continual attention in order to be successful. As soon as the needs of the garden are neglected, the idea falls through.


Mobile Design

In downtown King’s Cross, the idea of a garden in an urban environment seems to be a difficult idea. Skip Gardens are extremely beneficial for the community, particularly the impoverished, and can be easily transported from place to place. The mobility of the dumpsters allows for easy transitions to new construction sites upon the completion of each construction project. Furthermore, the upkeep of the dumpsters positively impacts the communities through which they travel by allowing for volunteers across areas to come together, spread the word about the Skip Gardens, and allow for more Skip Gardens to be developed as communities see its many benefits.

Strategic Situational Design

The Skip Garden is designed to conserve the limited amount of space within an urban environment. This design is strategically placed in a situation in which it seems impossible to incorporate ideas like communal sharing. The booming development of King’s Cross created a starting point for such an idea to formulate. These community gardens are placed in dumpsters at existing construction sites. This design is not solely meant for one location, becoming useless at the end of the construction project. By being placed in dumpsters, these gardens are easily transportable to other construction sites nearby. In cities of thriving development, the strategic placement of community gardens in portable dumpsters creates a convenient and effective solution to problems of poverty and a lack of communal relations.

Vertical Farms

24, نوفمبر 2010

Vertical farming is a proposed agricultural technique involving large-scale agriculture in urban high-rises or “farmscrapers” Using advanced greenhouse technology and greenhouse methods such as hydroponics, these buildings would produce fruit, vegetables, edible mushrooms and algae year-round.

Researchers, including Bryn Nelson, argues that, by allowing traditional outdoor farms to revert to a natural state and reducing the energy costs needed to transport foods to consumers, vertical farms could significantly alleviate climate change produced by excess atmospheric carbon. Critics have noted that the costs of the additional energy needed for artificial lighting, heating and other vertical farming operations would outweigh the benefit of the building’s close proximity to the areas of consumption.

It took humans 10,000 years to learn how to grow most of the crops we now take for granted. Along the way, we despoiled most of the land we worked, often turning verdant, natural ecozones into semi-arid deserts. Within that same time frame, we evolved into an urban species, in which 60% of the human population now lives vertically in cities. This means that, for the majority, we humans are protected against the elements, yet we subject our food-bearing plants to the rigors of the great outdoors and can do no more than hope for a good weather year. However, more often than not now, due to a rapidly changing climate regime, that is not what follows. Massive floods, protracted droughts, class 4-5 hurricanes, and severe monsoons take their toll each year, destroying millions of tons of valuable crops. Don’t our harvestable plants deserve the same level of comfort and protection that we now enjoy? The time is at hand for us to learn how to safely grow our food inside environmentally controlled multistory buildings within urban centers. If we do not, then in just another 50 years, the next 3 billion people will surely go hungry, and the world will become a much more unpleasant place in which to live.


The following is an excerpt from Dickson Desponmmier’s interview by He describes the proposed function of a vertical farm:

“Each floor will have its own watering and nutrient monitoring systems. There will be sensors for every single plant that tracks how much and what kinds of nutrients the plant has absorbed. You’ll even have systems to monitor plant diseases by employing DNA chip technologies that detect the presence of plant pathogens by simply sampling the air and using snippets from various viral and bacterial infections. It’s very easy to do.

Moreover, a gas chromatograph will tell us when to pick the plant by analyzing which flavenoids the produce contains. These flavenoids are what gives the food the flavors you’re so fond of, particularly for more aromatic produce like tomatoes and peppers. These are all right-off-the-shelf technologies. The ability to construct a vertical farm exists now. We don’t have to make anything new.

For the full concept of vertical farming to work, a series of technologies and devices are needed. Such technologies and devices will need to be able to combine and live in integration. Desponmmier and other researchers and scientists are busy formulating and developing various methods for these technologies. Such technologies include:

Grow Light

– The concept of using a grow light as a means of growing produce involves the use of an electric lamp that emits an electromagnetic spectrum necessary for photosynthesis to promote plant growth. Grow lights would be used at an industrial level for vertical farms and would be applied when natural sunlight is unavailable.


– Phytoremediation is the use of green plants to remove pollutants from the environment or render them harmless. The process of phytoremediation can be more thoroughly explained here:

The People Involved

The original concept of vertical farms was developed by Dickson Despommier, a professor of environmental health sciences and microbiology at Columbia University in New York City. After performing a simulated test to see how much 13 acres of rooftop dedicated to farming would feed the population of Manhattan, it was determined that the system would only feed about 2% of the approximate 2,000,000 people. This simulation sparked the minds of various scientists, architects, and investors, who then moved the concept of vertical farming to an actual creation. “Architectural designs have been produced by Chris Jacobs and Andrew Kranis at Columbia University and Gordon Graff at the University of Waterloo.” They dub their design, Skyfarm. A simulation of this design can be found through this link:

The following cities feature developers and local governments who have formally expressed serious interest in the establishment of a vertical farm: Incheon (South Korea), Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), Dongtan (China), New York City, Portland, Ore., Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Seattle, Surrey, B.C., Toronto, Paris, Bangalore, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Incheon, Shanghai and Beijing.

A short article expanding on Las Vegas’ plans of a unique vertical farm, the world’s first 30 story vertical farm:

The Illinois Institute of Technology is now developing a detailed plan for Chicago, led by Dickson Despommier and Eric Ellingsen. It is suggested that prototype versions of vertical farms should be created first, possibly at large universities interested in the research of vertical farms. The following pdf presents the dynamic of the plans, as well as some detailed designs.


The situation that would be necessary for the implementation of a vertical farm directly is dependent on the population of a given area and how that population is expected to change in years to come. Areas of high population density will have to cope with the conflict of feeding the nation without sacrificing too much farmland. Vertical farms propose a solution to this problem. As urbanization continuously grows, so will the importance of establishing vertical farms.

Taxonomy Categories:

Urban spatial design integrates land use planning and transportation planning to improve the built, economic and social environments of communities. It is the interface between urban planning and architecture. Urban design should also form the interface between all the relevant specialties that deal with the human and the human environment, both objective and subjective. Urban design should thus function as a multidimensional interdisciplinary interface, with the responsibility to manage and transform the interactions of the different aspects of urban life into a physical and/or usable form.

Clarence “Du” Burns when asked about the formula to the success of downtown redevelopment he responded, “Determine where you are and what you have to work with. Decide where you want to be. Develop a strategy to get there.”

Urbanization vs. Agricultural Expansion:

The amount of U.S. farmland in metropolitan areas increased by nearly 50 percent between 1974 and 1982. Nearly 300 additional counties were redefined as metro as a result of the 1980 census (figure 1). This increasingly metropolitan character of the Nation presents both problems and opportunities for farmers in those areas.

Metro areas now contain 16 percent of the total U.S. land area, 20 percent of all cropland, and 31 percent of all farms. The best farmland is actually more fully utilized in metro areas. That is, the percentage of prime farmland used for crop production is higher in metro areas than in nonmetro areas. Also, the percentage of land classified as prime farmland is slightly higher in metro areas than elsewhere.

Urban growth certainly does not mean the end of agriculture in a given area. Urbanization does not usually take the best farmland. Farmers tend to intensify production on their best land, often changing crops and inputs, and exploiting new marketing and employment opportunities.

The loss of agricultural land to urbanization in the US has evoked recent concern due to current food price inflation and global agricultural shortages. The possibility that future energy and other nonland inputs used in agricultural production may become very expensive and push agriculture back into  more land based forms of architecture is a modern concern. It is important also to consider if this continuous loss of urban farmland could exacerbate a possible shortage of productive agricultural land in the future.  (Thomas R. Plaut)

Reuse vs. Wasteful Disposal

Everyone is familiar with recycling materials such as glass, plastic, aluminum, and paper, right? We simply throw them into a “Recycle Only” bin and forget about it. However, what about the food that used to inhabit those empty glass jars and flattened cardboard boxes? We know we do not consume every food product we buy. In residential areas,” food waste and food-soiled paper make up about 25-30% of a typical household’s waste.”[1] “ In  restaurant and other food service establishments the food waste is more than 76% organic. A single restaurant, on an average, disposes more than 50 tons of organic waste every year.”[2] Therefore, we should invest the same amount of consideration into efficient, beneficial reuse of food waste as we do for recycling. Fortunately, there are numerous cases in which communities/organizations have invested this consideration and developed solutions to this wasteful problem; solutions that can be implemented into Vertical Farms:

  • Always known for its Golden Gate Bridge and liberal activism, San Francisco has recently gained recognition the past several years for offering a “green” service to its residents:

“San Franciscans like Ellisa Feinstein have another option for their organic waste: put it out on the curb with the glass, plastic and paper, where it will be picked up and recycled by the city. For the past several years, San Francisco has offered curbside recycling of food scraps, shipping leftovers to industrial-scale composting facilities, which process 300 tons of organic waste a day. For Feinstein, the curbside program allows her to salve her green conscience without the ickiness that came from composting her own used tea bags. “It’s great because it helps me do my job of diverting garbage from the landfill,” she says. “And it’s really easy.”,9171,1813956,00.html

  • The National Renderers Association focuses primarily on re-using meat waste:

Members of this association are all in the business of rendering, i.e. transforming waste from the meat industry into useable products for animal feeds and technical use. Renderers are even known as the original recyclers. On average slaughter houses, packing plants, supermarkets, butcher shops and restaurants collectively generate at least 40,000 metric tonnes of animal byproduct each week. Without the rendering industry, byproducts from meat and poultry processing would fill up landfills very quickly and the decomposing waste would contaminate our soil and water with disease-causing microorganisms and vermin




Sodexo, the company that provides food on our own Georgia Tech campus, warns us that the first and best step to reduce food waste among colleges is to portion the amount of food we eat.



The following is an excerpt from Dickson Desponmmier’s interview by He describes the proposed function of a vertical farm:

“Each floor will have its own watering and nutrient monitoring systems. There will be sensors for every single plant that tracks how much and what kinds of nutrients the plant has absorbed. You’ll even have systems to monitor plant diseases by employing DNA chip technologies that detect the presence of plant pathogens by simply sampling the air and using snippets from various viral and bacterial infections. It’s very easy to do.

Moreover, a gas chromatograph will tell us when to pick the plant by analyzing which flavenoids the produce contains. These flavenoids are what gives the food the flavors you’re so fond of, particularly for more aromatic produce like tomatoes and peppers. These are all right-off-the-shelf technologies. The ability to construct a vertical farm exists now. We don’t have to make anything new.

For the full concept of vertical farming to work, a series of technologies and devices are needed. Such technologies and devices will need to be able to combine and live in integration. Desponmmier and other researchers and scientists are busy formulating and developing various methods for these technologies. Such technologies include:

Grow Light

– The concept of using a grow light as a means of growing produce involves the use of an electric lamp that emits an electromagnetic spectrum necessary for photosynthesis to promote plant growth. Grow lights would be used at an industrial level for vertical farms and would be applied when natural sunlight is unavailable.


– Phytoremediation is the use of green plants to remove pollutants from the environment or render them harmless. The process of phytoremediation can be more thoroughly explained here:

The People Involved

The original concept of vertical farms was developed by Dickson Despommier, a professor of environmental health sciences and microbiology at Columbia University in New York City. After performing a simulated test to see how much 13 acres of rooftop dedicated to farming would feed the population of Manhattan, it was determined that the system would only feed about 2% of the approximate 2,000,000 people. This simulation sparked the minds of various scientists, architects, and investors, who then moved the concept of vertical farming to an actual creation. “Architectural designs have been produced by Chris Jacobs and Andrew Kranis at Columbia University and Gordon Graff at the University of Waterloo.” They dub their design, Skyfarm.

The following cities feature developers and local governments who have formally expressed serious interest in the establishment of a vertical farm: Incheon (South Korea), Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), Dongtan (China), New York City, Portland, Ore., Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Seattle, Surrey, B.C., Toronto, Paris, Bangalore, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Incheon, Shanghai and Beijing.

A short article expanding on Las Vegas’ plans of a unique vertical farm, the world’s first 30 story vertical farm:

The Illinois Institute of Technology is now developing a detailed plan for Chicago, led by Dickson Despommier and Eric Ellingsen. It is suggested that prototype versions of vertical farms should be created first, possibly at large universities interested in the research of vertical farms. The following pdf presents the dynamic of the plans, as well as some detailed designs.


The situation that would be necessary for the implementation of a vertical farm directly is dependent on the population of a given area and how that population is expected to change in years to come. Areas of high population density will have to cope with the conflict of feeding the nation without sacrificing too much farmland. Vertical farms propose a solution to this problem. As urbanization continuously grows, so will the importance of establishing vertical farms.


Improv Art is the conceptual idea that perpetuates the artistic and innovative design creations of Jason Eppink. Many of his projects including his Take A Seat campaign involve the New York City subway station as that is his main mode of transportation. Because he is always in the subway stations, he seeks to make the experience of waiting, boarding and passing through a subway station more enjoyable for the average American. Eppinks projects in general are focused around the concept of community involvement and bettermen; he seeks to create Universal Design that all experience and appreciate.

-organization: Jason Eppink is a communal designer and artist who’s goal is to design for the needs and appreciation of ALL rather then SOME. Eppink’s work is featured on Investing in Social Art Projects art blog.

-procedures He is spontaneous in nature who is inspired on a whim and acts on those points of inspiration instantly. Most of his designs have a ‘prankster’ attitude about them as well.

-the people involved Jason Eppink is the designer who creates universal design that is meant for all to utilize. To put the “take a seat” project in context the videos below are portrayal of several of this other projects.

-the situation within which it takes place Eppink’s designs happen many times in subway stations or just in natural city settings as well.


social design: the main focus of this design project is to provide seating/comfort to a wider audience range at any given time (to lessen the physical stress of traveling via subway)

community design: design that will benefit the entirety of the New York subway riding community regardless of age and socioeconomic status. (everyone can appreciate the comfort of sitting over standing for a long period of time)

innovative design: creative design, unique, while also aimed at solving a widely felt problem

environmental design: environmentally friendly design because it takes someone’s trash that would have been left to decay in the streets or to rot in the landfill and recycles it by reassigning its purpose/situation.


Previously, we identified several design negotiations in Eppink’s Take a Seat project

*Finalized Design Negotiations List as of November 17th:*

Comfort vs. Clutter- comfort of people in subway station vs chairs being clunky and taking up limited/valuable space

**REASSESSMENT as of November 20th: too broad/clutter is not really a pertinent issue just not aesthetically pleasing whereas some of the other negotiations are more pertinent in the safety/life of the person experiencing the subway space.

Flow of traffic vs. increase of sitting spaces- chairs limiting walkways for the cause of creating sitting spaces

**REASSESSMENT as of November 20th: too broad again-need a narrow and pertinent negotiation to further analyze.

Individual (introverted) experience vs. group (extroverted) experience- standing (annoyed, waiting for a bus, anxious, nervous, stressed) is more of an introverted experience while sitting and congregating comfortably is more of a group event in which dialogue is more likely to occur (breaks the tension/ice and is a stress reliever)

**REASSESSMENT as of November 20th: an abstract concept whose pertinence is diluted by more obvious design negotiations-possibly a final decicion

Timeliness vs. Friendliness- being on time for destination/job-being prompt and on time vs. sitting, relaxing, losing track of time, conversating

**REASSESSMENT as of November 20th: WE LIKE this one because it makes the abstract idea of the individual vs. group experience more tangible and easier to grasp. Standing and being frustrated allows people to think individually while also enabling them to complete the task that they set out to do in a timely manner where as sitting and being comfortable opens up dialogue and friendliness that could cause a detour from the original time itinerary.

Comfort vs. Safety- comfort of sitting vs. hazardous clunky objects in subway space

**REASSESSMENT as of November 20th: WE LIKE this concept because many of the previous concept related to this concept at their core, also it is referred to in the video posted on our initial site (it is listed below) as many people protested this design for safety measures-definately a FINAL

After a series of debates, trying to determine what would be the best and most important negotiation to mention, we concluded that the negotiations timeliness vs. friendliness as well as comfort vs. safety are the main points.

::FINAL Negotiation BreakDowns as of November 23rd::

TIMELINESS vs. FRIENDLINESS: this is the major design negotiation because people are in subway stations for timely and efficient purposes-to go from point A to point B in the most efficient way possible.The environment of standing and waiting passengers helps to perpetuate this timeliness. This chair project changes the level of time efficiency as people get more comfortable in the chairs and become increasingly more friendly with one another-as people talk more and become more friendly, the efficiency of the subway station changes. (people lose track of time in their comfortable state and negotiate their timeliness for their comfort-enables distraction)

COMFORT vs. SAFETY: Again the concept of comfort is key in these design negotiations as implementing a seating system is meant for the sole purpose of lessening the load of the people waiting in the subway stations. However, this argument is based on the fact that having extra chairs in the already small and limited space of an underground subway system is hazardous to people’s safety within the subway situation.

Jason Eppink Video Interview of Take a Seat (design negotiation reference)


lithium | traffic negotiations

23, نوفمبر 2010

part one | documentation


WHAT IS “SHARED SPACE” when it comes to TRAFFIC?

Another city besides Bohmte that has tried this “Shared Space” approach is Drachten, a small Dutch city with around 50,000 residents has removed almost all of its traffic lights. Major intersections have been converted to roundabouts, smaller intersections just let drivers work make decisions on their own. Basically, it’s anarchy. Anarchy that has completely eliminated dangerous crashes and road fatalities and created a surge in bicycle and pedestrian traffic. Anarchy seems to breed courtesy, in Holland at least. Maybe this is the first step toward an actual blended transportation system, where bikes pedestrians and cars treat each other with appropriate respect. An act as simple as removing an object that everyone hates anyway could be a solution to a lot of our problems.

Drachten roundabout,1518,505246,00.html


Are streets without traffic signs conceivable?

 European traffic planners are dreaming of streets free of rules and directives. They want drivers and pedestrians to interact in a free and humane way, as brethren — by means of friendly gestures, nods of the head and eye contact, without the harassment of prohibitions, restrictions and warning signs.

A project implemented by the European Union is currently seeing seven cities and regions clear-cutting their forest of traffic signs. A sign by the entrance to the small town (population 1,000) reads “Verkeersbordvrij” — “free of traffic signs.” Cars bumble unhurriedly over precision-trimmed granite cobblestones. Stop signs and direction signs are nowhere to be seen. There are neither parking meters nor stopping restrictions. We’re losing our capacity for socially responsible behavior,” says Dutch traffic guru Hans Monderman, one of the project’s co-founders. “The greater the number of prescriptions, the more people’s sense of personal responsibility dwindles.”

Germany has 648 valid traffic symbols. The inner cities are crowded with a colorful thicket of metal signs. Some 20 million traffic signs have already been set up all over the country.

Psychologists have long revealed the senselessness of such exaggerated regulation.

About 70 percent of traffic signs are ignored by drivers.

Every traffic light baits him with the promise of making it over the crossing while the light is still yellow.,1518,448747,00.html


-no curbs, guide dogs, issues


Traffic congestion and motor vehicle crashes are widespread problems, especially in urban areas. Roundabouts, used in place of stop signs and traffic signals, are a type of circular intersection that can significantly improve traffic flow and safety. Where roundabouts have been installed, motor vehicle crashes have declined by about 40 percent, and those involving injuries have been reduced by about 80 percent. Crash reductions are accompanied by significant improvements in traffic flow, thus reducing vehicle delays, fuel consumption, and air pollution.

Several features of roundabouts promote safety. At traditional intersections with stop signs or traffic signals, some of the most common types of crashes are right-angle, left-turn, and head-on collisions. These types of collisions can be severe because vehicles may be traveling through the intersection at high speeds. With roundabouts, these types of potentially serious crashes essentially are eliminated because vehicles travel in the same direction. Installing roundabouts in place of traffic signals can also reduce the likelihood of rear-end crashes and their severity by removing the incentive for drivers to speed up as they approach green lights and by reducing abrupt stops at red lights. The vehicle-to-vehicle conflicts that occur at roundabouts generally involve a vehicle merging into the circular roadway, with both vehicles traveling at low speeds — generally less than 20 mph in urban areas and less than 30-35 mph in rural areas.

NEW APPROACH TO TRAFFIC- Increased courtesy and less selfishness??

Speigel notes: According to the concept, road users have to negotiate their behavior with each other, rather than have it prescribed by rules — the idea being that people will pay more attention to what other road users are doing and hence cause fewer accidents. They report that the Drachten experience worked; accidents there have declined dramatically since the new regime was introduced. “The many rules strip us of the most important thing: the ability to be considerate. We’re losing our capacity for socially responsible behavior,” says Monderman. “The greater the number of prescriptions, the more people’s sense of personal responsibility dwindles.”

Why haven’t Americans tried this yet?

ISSUE::::   Traffic selfishness and American Mentality:

A quote by Sandra Thompson, a writer for the St. Petersburg Times,

Is there a pattern here? I think the problem is much more insidious than any of us acknowledge. These drivers are selfish, pure and simple, totally and irretrievably selfish. They are the only car on the road, as far as they’re concerned, and everyone else can just get the hell out of their way. It’s a real Hummer mentality, and it’s so pervasive that we really need to look at why so many people think they are the only person in the universe who counts. In the meantime, there’s only one way to deal with them. Treat them like every other lawbreaker. Get the cops out on the streets in force and ticket them to death. Before they kill the rest of us.



  • Traffic fatalities in 2009 were down by 35% from 2001.
  • Traffic crashes cost the City’s economy $4.29 billion annually.

  • Pedestrians are 10 times more likely to die than a motor vehicle occupant in the event of a crash.
  • NYC’s traffic fatality rate is about a quarter of the national rate and less than half the rate in the next 10 largest U.S. cities.
  • Driver inattention was cited in nearly 36% of crashes resulting in pedestrians killed or seriously injured.
  • 27% of fatal pedestrian crashes involved driver failure to yield.
  • Pedestrian-vehicle crashes involving unsafe speeds are twice as deadly as other crashes.
  • 80% of crashes that kill or seriously injure pedestrians involve male drivers.

  • 79% of crashes that kill or seriously injure pedestrians involve private vehicles, not taxis, trucks and buses.
  • Most New Yorkers do not know the city’s standard speed limit is 30 m.p.h.


preliminary research for part two

brief history on organizational city planning

The interaction between, man invention, and transportation has always played a major role in the design of the city. Traditionally, cities were built on efficiency and convenience. Uruk, the city noted by many experts and historians as the first city in history, was created by engulfing several smaller villages and linking them together through the creation of  several pathways. Most roads in the city led to a center,which was only passable by the human feet. Other roads radially encircled the city providing both easy transportation of goods from one end of the city to the other and  across borders to help protect from invading civilizations.This allowed pedestrians to walk freely around the town and vehicles to transport goods from one edge to another without encountering traffic. But, the main concept of success in organizing the city was separating the commercial sector from the social and residential sector(s) of the city.

barcelona, a city which juxtaposes traditional and modern city planning

brief history on interactive city planning

From the time of systematic bartering, natural pathways  provided the most simplistic transportation mediums. These pathways were naturally adjusted to accompany the traffic. The wider roads were built to handle heavy vehicle traffic, for both human and wagons. In the 17th Century, the British Parliament passed an act that separated vehicular traffic areas from foot traffic. These were the first modern sidewalk systems. This allocated space on the side of the road for pedestrians and became recognized as the first traffic regulation in history.

a drastic change in the traditional system

The Industrial Age not only produced a change in the way products were made, but it also caused a transformation in the way cities were designed. The development of vehicles singlehandedly caused planners to readjust the way they intended to develop their cities. For example, the first asphalt paved road in America appeared Washington DC 1877. A decade later, American automakers began producing thousands of automobiles, which could easily travel on these smooth roadways. Within 35 years of the first paved roads, cities began having major traffic problems. In 1901, Connecticut introduced the first speed limit in America.In 1910, Chicago implemented America’s first automatic traffic system. In 1932, the first parking system was created to help fix the traffic problem in American cities. These regulations in America, as assumed, were set in place decades later than those implemented by their European counterparts.



part two | analysis

of our original negotiations and taxonomic categories, we have decided to further study

pedestrian vs. vehicle traffic and being guided by common sense vs.  being guided by rules and regulations.

Though “traditional vs. modern city planning” seemed to have potential at first, we realized as we researched that the subject is quite broad. The referencing of historical precedents is incredibly important; it seems too broad of a subject to approach within the frame of this project. Also, it seems to have a different nature than our other negotiations, and we wish to remain somewhat consistent with our work.


pedestrian vs. vehicle traffic

The idea that when one is considered different when one is commanding a vehicle is quite interesting. While a person is using a vehicle, they lose the ability to empathize with the pedestrian. Perhaps some people are capable of retaining empathy for the walker, but for the most part, when one’s vehicular movement is impeded by an individual, he or she finds it annoying- just another obstacle- rather than accepting the limitations of going about on foot. This negotiation can be further explored through cases of pedestrian vs. vehicle; an example case is embedded above (in part one) of a rather rotund man resting on a bicycle and then being run over by someone backing out of a parking space.

This negotiation is particularly interesting because other cases can be incorporated into its research; for instance, the Critical Mass case involves the pitting of bikers versus drivers.

As a result of our research, we have decided to modify this negotiation (the original intention remains) to

mobile individuals vs. modes of transport.

We will be putting particular emphasis on people versus cars and bicycles. (that is not to say that other modes of transport are not equally effective). The phrase “mobile individuals” focuses on the individual whose goal is to move from one location to another, while “modes of transport” refers to cars and bicycles and their users. The user and the transport will be juxtaposed and merged in the second part of the negotiation. How does the bike or car affect the individual’s perception of mere pedestrians? How does the pedestrian perceive the “car” or the “bicycle”, which itself contains a user?

Though the mobile individual will most likely be a pedestrian, it may also be a car or bike user. It’s possible that, depending on the viewpoint, both sides of the negotiation could be referring to car users. How do the drivers oppose each other? How are they to navigate around one another?


being guided by common sense vs. being guided  by rules and regulations

This negotiation is investigating whether people are actually inherently decent. There are individuals in this world that believe the exact opposite (they are referred to as pessimists). Something that we found quite interesting about this design fix, though, was that in situations like this, people are required to trust and put their faith in others. This idea goes against the common trend of social detachment and isolation that overexposure to subjects such as excessively violent video games and oversexed teenagers perpetuates.

The Economist posted an article about Law versus Common Sense early in 2009 about a flagrant, 54 million dollar law suit based upon a dry cleaning shop losing a man’s pants. The lawsuit was thrown out, but the owners were still left with 100,000 dollars in court costs. To quote the article, “The rule of law is a wonderful thing, as anyone who has visited countries ruled by the whims of the powerful can attest. But you can have too much of a wonderful thing. And America has far too much law, argues Mr Howard in a new book, “Life without Lawyers”. For nearly every problem, lawmakers and bureaucrats imagine that more detailed rules are the answer. But people need to exercise their common sense, too. Alas, the proliferation of rules is making that harder.” This would seem to indicate that there is a certain level of rules that are needed to operate a normal society. At some point, however, the number of rules exceeds a critical mass and an overload begins. This could explain much of modern drivers frustrations and the increase in road rage. As drivers no longer have to rely on good common sense and respect of their surroundings, they close themselves into their vehicles and rely on the thousands of rules to get them to their destinations.



taxonomic categories, revisited

community-centric design

  • The “common sense” solution to traffic is defined by a reliance on the other members of the community to respect their surroundings. Once an outsider enters the design, they must interact with and temporarily join the community in order to achieve their objective (moving from point A to point B)B.)

organizational design

  • Aside from the original effort to revamp the system, there will be very little “formal organization” involved in this design. The organization in this design is improvised.
  •   An organization that is fighting for better systems and sustainability.

cooperative design

  • This design fix cannot function without the integration of the cogs, per se. If the people do not agree to cooperate within the new framework, the system will not function in an enhanced manner.
  •  can we judge whose turn it is?  trust your neighbor to stop for you?

transit design

  • We decided this taxonomic category is not up to par with the others. “Transit design” seems to imply more of a focus on the structure and design of the vehicle movement in many constraints.

CSAs: Farmers and Community

21, نوفمبر 2010


Capay Organic, the farm that supplies Farm Fresh to You’s service, was founded by Kathleen Barsotti and Martin Barnes in Capay Valley, California. A mere 20 acres of property purchased in 1976 has since become a 300 acre family-owned, purely organic farm with a large following of loyal customers. This case study is not only an example of a successful business, but it also shows the growth in popularity in organically produced foods over the last few decades, without which its success would be considerably less. The case study also demonstrates a shift in American society from grocery store chains to local farms, or, more generally, a shift from national to community. It also illuminates our growing demand for organic produce.
At the time of Capay Organic’s inception, Americans were not nearly as health-conscious and aware as we are today. Therefore its owners found its higher-quality, but pricier food more difficult to sell than its modernly farmed counterparts; they struggled to find a market in which to sell its organic fruit and vegetables. Instead of marketing itself to the general public as they would come to do, Kathleen and Martin began selling its high-quality produce to local stores, restaurants, and farmers’ markets.
In 1992, however, Kathleen realized that there was a significant relationship between the farm and “individual customers.” No longer content to provide people with her produce indirectly, she decided to cut out the middle man and begin Farm Fresh to You in 1992. Farm Fresh to You was designed to be a delivery service that delivers fresh, organic produce in boxes straight from the fields of Capay Organic to the customer’s office or home as frequently as the consumer chose. The service began out of Kathleen’s family station wagon; the service then became so popular in the Bay Area that the station wagon was soon replaced with vans full of boxes of organic produce that left the farm daily.
Capay Organic is a perfect example of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Over the last twenty years CSA has become a very popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. CSAsCSA works basically in the following way: a farmer markets a “share” to the public; this is generally of a box of some kind of produce or farm product. Those interested then purchase the “share,” usually in the form of a membership or subscription of some kind. In return the consumer receives a box, bag, or basket of seasonal produce all throughout the season. This new, direct relationship between farmers and consumers is mutually beneficial.
The farmers can begin marketing their produce earlier in the year, before all their hard work begins; they receive payment earlier in the season, helping with the cash flow in between harvests; and they have a unique opportunity to communicate with those consumers that enjoy their produce. The consumer also enjoys benefits from CSA, including being able to eat extremely fresh food, get exposed to new vegetables, visit the farm at least once during the season, encourage their children to eat more vegetables (assuming said consumer has children), and develop a relationship with the farmer that grows their food.
It all sounds very simple, and it is. The impact, however, has been much more acute. According to LocalHarvest, “tens of thousands of families have joined CSAs, and in some areas of the country there is more demand than there are CSA farms to fill it.” While the organization has no official record of how many CSAs there are in the United States, LocalHarvest estimates that their are over 2,500. And since their inception, they have expanded and grown beyond the traditional fruits and veggies. Consumers now can buy meats, cheeses, flowers, eggs, and many other products directly from the farm.


– Negotiation between the desire for organic produce and the higher price for organic produce

Organic food is healthier. It contains more vitamins, minerals, and enzymes and is free from pesticides, growth hormones, and other harmful chemicals. Buying organic produce is also a step towards protecting our ecosystem and resources. Organic farming eliminates synthetic-petroleum based inputs and synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, thus reducing fossil fuel consumption and protecting the quality of our water. However, organic produce is more expensive than intensively farmed food. Research shows that U.S. shoppers who choose healthy foods spend almost 20% more on groceries. Study also show that buying organic food can consume 35-40% of a low-income family’s grocery budget. Thus, many consumers end up buying cheaper but inferior food.

– Negotiation between consumers and farmers

CSAs not only link consumers to farmers via a more direct relationship; they also put the two together in a shared risk-type situation. The not only makes the consumers more a part of the making of the products they are eating, but also makes the farmers feel more responsible for the crops they are producing. It seems as though what could be a negative thing – this risk – actually creates a positive result. Because both the farmer and the consumer are more invested, they inevitably become more invested in each other, which then allows for a unique sense of community.

Assignment 1- part 1 email response

21, نوفمبر 2010

After waiting for a few days, we received an email from the FOUNDER AND CHAIR of Clinica Verde:

Dear Emily, Jennifer, Olivia and Becca:

Thanks so much for reaching out to us! We really appreciate your interest. I’m going to answer your questions below, but I’ve also forwarded your email to our U.S.-based architect and project manager. I think it would be great if they could come to speak with your group.
And, yes, we’d love to have you help promote Clinica Verde on your campus and in your community. Just let me know what we can do to help.
Warm regards,
Susan Dix Lyons
Founder and Chair

Clinica Verde

On Fri, Nov 19, 2010 at 11:14 AM, Lenke, Emily C <> wrote:

To Whom it Concerns,

We are doing a group project through the College of Architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The main focus of our project is to research a case study that has a vision of change through the design process. We found your organization through online research and we are very intrigued. My group members and I  are curious about this design. We would love to help promote your organization on our campus and in our local community. Would you mind answering a few questions for us?

-How will you go about managing this organization to keep up with advancing technologies of the medical field throughout the world?

We’re fortunate to have a very talented board of directors, including not just physicians based in the U.S. and Nicaragua, but the former Minister of Health of Nicaragua, who is currently doing medical work in Angola. The medical professionals who work on or contribute to our project cover a range of specialties and areas of interest, and stay up to date with advances. The challenge, of course, is adapting that knowledge to work effectively in a developing country with a paucity of resources.

-What is the projected completion date of this building?

We expect clinic construction to be complete in mid-December of this year.

-What would be the necessary annual income of donations to keep this organization running successfully?

We currently estimate that the cost to operate Clinica Verde in Nicaragua will be about $160,000. If you add to that administration costs we’ll probably be around about $200,000 annually. That’s for the first Clinica Verde alone. As we expand our program and services and consider whether we feel confident scaling our project, that number will of course change.

-Where else do you plan to expand your design projects?

We still don’t have an answer to this one. Getting Clinica Verde off the ground has involved an enormous effort and we feel that we need to focus on refining this model and making it work in the community before we consider expansion. The most natural way for us to expand would be in other rural areas of need in Nicaragua. We would not consider building in a country without strong local support, involvement and commitment – all which we have in Nicaragua.

-Are there any substantial problems that you have faced while developing this clinic?

(-; There have been many challenges along the way – too many to enumerate! The first tough hurdle was gaining legal title of the land on which we’re building the clinic. Nicaragua has a long history of civil war and conflicts during which land was frequently seized or redistributed, so the question of legal ownership/title can be a tough one. The legal – and personal – navigations in this process took nearly a full year, which was very frustrating. On top of the legal issues, the cultural differences in how business is conducted was a challenge for our founding board members, who for the most part have a more typically American perspective on time and efficiency (-; In addition, we redesigned or modified the building plan numerous times along the way as we considered everything from sustainability, cultural sensibilities, funding, and simply the organic process of thinking through design challenges as a group. We had both American and Nicaraguan doctors review the plan throughout the design phase in concert with the architect and project manager, and toured other clinics ourselves to consider flow and community clinic space considerations. We also invited and encouraged the perspective of women patients, since we wanted to design not just a traditional clinic structure, but a welcoming community where physicians worked and served the local population. This is reflected in our courtyard playground space, working garden, cafe and community room with demonstration kitchen. The issue of energy and local resources was an important and interesting challenge as well. We designed a large underground cistern to collect rainwater, but during the construction phase this cistern actually overflowed, raising the concrete cover (the challenge of building during the rainy season). On top of those design issues and many others, fund-raising is a huge and never-ending effort and we faced the added obstacle of raising funds for a developing country that most people don’t care much about during the worst economic downturn the U.S. has seen since the Depression. We had to convince people to care enough to donate and support our cause, which was – and continues to be – a big education process that has to tied to personal passion and commitment.

Any other information that you would be willing to share and would be helpful to our project would be greatly appreciated.

Let me know what other specific questions you may have. We’re happy to have your interest and would love to discuss ways you can learn or become involved with our project.

We look forward to hearing from you.


Emily Lenke- Architecture major
Jennifer Taylor- Architecture major
Olivia King- Architecture major
Becca Ramia- Building Construction major

Susan Dix Lyons
Clínica Verde

health + hope

Help us to change lives. Make a tax-deductible contribution to Clínica Verde via check or credit card:

Join our Cause on Facebook:

Assignment 1

20, نوفمبر 2010

Toms Continued:

The Story:

Toms was founded in 2006 in Santa Monica, California by Blake Mycoskie. Mycoskie is a young entrepreneur aged 33 who has had several previous independent companies including a small driver’s education business and has also competed in the reality t.v show, “The Amazing Race”. This was what originally brought Mycoskie to Argentina. After losing “The Amazing Race”, he decided to take some time off spending time exploring the country which led to his discovery of the country’s desperate need for shoes. At this point, Mycoskie sold his previous business and self launched Toms shoes with the slogan of “Shoes for Tommorrow.”


During Mycokie’s stay in Argentina he took to wearing the native alpargatas which are a type of espadrilles which originated in Spain. These alpargatas are traditionally peasant shoes and are often worn by farmers. These shoes were the inspiration of the style for Toms. This was a smart choice for several reasons, first of all these kinds of shoes are lightweight and comfortable. They are made of simple canvas fabric with rubber soles. These shoes are cheaply produced and easily made from sustainable materials such as hemp or recycled rubber for extra eco-friendly advertising. Toms also has created many different kinds of shoes ranging from fleece-lined to boots in hundreds of different colors and styles. The new “Style Your Sole” initiative allows consumers to decorate shoes to their liking.

Business Model:

What makes Toms so unique is the One to One business model. The claim is for every pair of Toms shoes that is purchased, a pair is given to a child in need. This sounds simple, but the business behind it is actually quite complex. First of all Toms manufacturing plants are all located overseas in Argentina, Ethiopia, and China. This allows for the cost of production to be unusually low. The company claims that “We require that the factories operate under sound labor conditions, pay fair wages and follow local labor standards. A code of conduct is signed by all factories. Our production staff routinely visits these factories to make sure they are maintaining these working standards. We also have third parties audit the factories at least once a year to ensure they adhere to proper labor regulations.” However, even if the above statement is completely honest, the profit margin is raised significantly because of the manufacturing costs overseas. Although the company will not disclose sales figures or how much it annually donates, a sales rep from Toms explained that consumers cover the donation cost by paying twice as much for the shoes as they would normally cost. The average pair of Toms shoes sells for between $45-$85 a pair. This is also smart in that comparatively the $45 for a pair of Toms shoes is close in quality and price to a pair of Vans or Converse shoes. In a survey of 1057 US adults 80% responded that they favor a product that’s for a good cause if it’s of comparable price and quality of their product of choice, 19% said they would be willing to switch to a more expensive brand for this reason.Toms is sold at over 500 stores nation wide including Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and Whole Foods as well as online. A January 2009 Business Week article stated that, TOMS Shoes accumulated $4.6 million in revenue from its first 115,000 pairs of shoes sales are now over one million according to the official toms website which was updated in September of 2010.


Toms has an extremely innovative advertising technique. The charitable connotations of the company lend it as marketable good press to other companies such as AT&T and even popular musicians such as Dave Matthews Band. Toms has been marketed as a movement and campaign rather than a company which gives it an innovative meaning to the American consumer. Toms has taken advantage of the free media young people use for advertisement such as Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube to promote its cause as well as launching physical campaigns such as the Vagabond tour in which Mycoskie traveled to college campuses all over the United States promoting his cause and showing the Toms documentary “Shoes for Tomorrow: The Toms Shoes Story.” As a response, clubs at college campuses have been started as well a general grass roots movement to advertise Toms shoes.

The shoes sell themselves with their easily visible brand name on the side of their product which mostly advertises by word of mouth. This brand is especially popular among young, college aged adults who find it easy to both promote Toms shoes and buy them. The “One Day Without Shoes” campaign is aimed at raising awareness of children in the third world without shoes but also promotes Toms as a company. Over 250,000 people across the globe went barefoot on April 8 , 2009 in support of TOMS One Day Without Shoes.

“surrender your shoes” One Day Without Shoes participants

The “shoe drops” Toms holds which distribute the donated shoes also double as advertisement for the company as it includes over 500 nonprofit organizations and the events are often filmed and advertised by the media or corporate companies looking for good press. For example  AT&T  filmed the Uruguay drop for a 2009 commercial.  As a result, Toms probably has to spend very little on advertising.


Over 500 non-profit organizations have signed on as affiliates of  Toms Shoe Company. The most notable of these being the Clinton Foundation. In addition Friend of Toms is a non-profit company whose sole mission is to promote and carry out the objective of Toms. The general public is welcomed to assist with shoes drops around the world which enable volunteers to personally place shoes on children’s feet.

Volunteer at a TOMS shoe drop

Toms gives shoes to currently 20 countries including the United States and has given away over one million pairs of shoes. Toms has also obtained several partnerships with companies such as Element Skateboards which have agreed to carry a line of Toms products. The Element company has agreed to carry skate shoes as well as longboards to donate to children at the Indigo Skate camp in the village Isithumba in Durban, South Africa.  Mycoskie says he would like to expand this model to include other products for children such as fresh water or school books. Toms won the People’s Design Award in 2007.

Why it works:

The advertising for Toms is done by viral videos, word of mouth, or by other companies. The  non profit organizations do the chartible end of their business like “Friends of Toms”. The shoes are made trendy due to the charitable foundations, and the comfort they offer wearers. The one to one ratio model makes the consumer feel as if they are personally donating a pair of shoes to a child. This is more intimate than donating “a percentage of the profits”. The volunteering is open to the public, including advertisement which makes it easy to become involved without going out of the way.  The product targets the college crowd who have the time to volunteer and the money to buy the products. The “Vagabond Tour” gives the young and faboulous feeling to the company, selling the  addictive concept of being a conscious and caring human being. Basically this model allows Americans to do what they love  doing  most: buying trendy things while making a difference and not moving off the couch.

Part 2:

So now our big negotiations are:

  • profitable business vs successful charity.

It is clear that TOMS is a business and not a charity, but it is new in that it is a business with charity as its main objective. When the founder, Blake Mycoskie, was asked why the company was a business instead of a charity, he responded that a business is more sustainable. He claims that in the long run a business will generate more revenue for the charity and has a greater staying power in  the community because it is rooted in the market. So where does TOMS draw the line between profit and philanthropy? It is difficult to determine exactly how successful TOMS is in terms of profit since the company itself will not release those figures however TOMS is rumored to rake in the profits reaching  over $40million. This of course is just a projection, real figures are not available. Given the business model, it appears that TOMS is successful in both these fields but the company limits its giving ability by  setting a “one to one” ratio. The expense of the shoes is well over what it costs to produce both the product the consumer is purchasing and the donated pair of shoes. TOMS could probably donate double of what it currently does if they were willing to cut profit margins. However the charitable record is still impressive with the long list of charities they have affiliated with, number of countries they have reached, and quantity of shoes that have been donated. Basically, TOMS uses the hook of a charitable effort to lure consumers into buying their over-priced shoes. Not to give this idea a bad name of course, the cause is worthy and TOMS benefits the problem in a more substantial and community-based way than companies who donate a percentage of their profit for a cause.

  • grassroots movement vs commercial campaign

As we can see by the above research, TOMS uses the community for most of its advertising. Again, TOMS is a company, so it is promoted by other companies such as Element Skateboards and AT&T. The Vagabond tour is the perfect example of how TOMS handles this negotiation. The company has an ad campaign pushing the cause and consequently the company. The campaign takes on a grass roots feel by assembling college-aged kids as volunteer teams and visiting campuses nation wide. At this point, TOMS pushes the responsibility of advertising onto the community by creating a movement. TOMS even has “movement” in their ad campaign: the “One -To -One Movement”. So in summary TOMS handles this issue by subtlety starting an ad campaign with a message and turning it into a grassroots movement that takes advantage of all the free media available to consumers (YouTube, Facebook, ect). In this way TOMS incorporates it’s advertisement into the community by giving the campaign a community-based problem(barefoot children) that the company solves. As a result, the community backs the company in effort to solve the problem.

Blake Mycoskie campaigning the TOMS movement


How it works

Ridekicks functions:

By using elements of social gaming and reward mechanics to change the way people operate in, around, and with cars.

Through linking to favorite social networks such as: Facebook, Twitter, Friendster, etc…

And educate children, bring mathematical, logical and networking aspects to life for adults and…make ridesharing cool?

To promote environmentally friendliness, socially acceptable car sharing

Begin with:

1.)    Uploading coming journeys and advertise for social buddies on the same route.

For and as passenger.

2.)    Start your own community groups for companies, schools, universities and neighborhood teams.

-Compete with and within the team

Continue by:

3.)    Search for spare seats and promote availability to the driver friends on their social networks.

4.)    Keeping track of miles driven and points shared.

Each mile shared is worth 1 point for both passenger and driver

5.)    Choosing whether to charge passengers for the ride

-Through the site with major currencies using PayPal’s Adaptive payments technology.

-5% of all transaction fees go directly towards Ridekicks

In the future:

6.) Aim for respective titles

-“King of the Road”: Highest scoring participant within the entire network

-“Captain Planet”: Player who travels most as passenger

-“Hometown Hero”: Highest participant from any given city

-Titles can only be kept through continual participation within the system

7.)    (For company reference) Solidify rewards system

– Hopes to partner with fuel companies and local government for reward methods

Reassessments and justification for categories

Green Design:

Ridekicks definitely fits the category of green design, because this website was formed to facilitate carpooling. It turns carpooling into a social game with rewards for environmentally-friendly driving. By connecting the people who can give rides to the people that need them, Ridekicks helps the environment by saving fossil fuels and reducing air pollution from car exhaust.

Social Design:

Co-founders Lee Marshall and Rohit Mistry explain Ridekicks as something that “helps you get to more places, share trips with current friends, and make new friends. We believe that social technology has the power to change the way that we use cars, and we believe it should be fun,” (Crunch Base Profile). By working through user’s personal networks, Ridekicks connects people with the people they already know, and also through the search bar on the website Ridekicks, connects people with others that have a common destination. Through the aspects of connecting people and people sharing resources with other people, this case is definitive of social design.

Communal Design:

Related to social design, Ridekicks can also be categorized as communal design. Cofounder Lee Marshall elaborates how the act of peer-to-peer philanthropy can creates bonds between people and grow into closer, larger local communities: “People spreading wealth among themselves to improve each other’s lives will become a huge part of modern society. As our digital footprints become ever larger and local communities are bought online, I think peer-to-peer lending will take off,” (Marshall). With these concepts in mind, we can see how Marshall and Mistry intended for Ridekicks to be as much about saving money and helping the environment, as building friendships and meeting new people.

Another way Ridekicks is definitive of Communal Design is how the design process of this website is similar to the open source, open innovation method of the $100 dollar lap top. People are welcome to put in their opinions and input about the website and how it works. On the Ridekicks Facebook page, we see the company reaching out to people with survey questions for design research.

Negotiation Analysis

*Intimacy vs. shared space

People who work all day and are with their families (potentially) when they are at home use their time driving to and from work as alone time and as a time to gather their thoughts.  When another person is introduced to this equation, one is forced to forgo this solace for petty discussion with another individual.  Of course, on some occasions they could enjoy their discussions, but assuming that the other individual is a stranger, more than likely conversation will resort back to common small talk.  When someone is in their car alone, it is their space and they can do things like play music loud without worrying about whether or not someone else cares what or how loud they are listening to that music.

Even before the ride itself, the social forum itself negotiates intimacy vs. a shared space.  The network itself is a shared space containing everyone’s information of their locations and schedules.  Exposing yourself online suggests a certain sense of exhibitionism, which then automatically makes you a little more vulnerable just taking into the consideration the vastness and openness of the internet.  Interestingly enough, the network can also act as an intimate setting.  It serves as a conduit for multifaceted conversation.  There is a casual quality in online conversation – it takes away the awkwardness  of what is polite to say and how is appropriate to react.  Because these social constrictions are then eliminated in the absence of eye-to-eye conversation, the subjects are more free to express their thoughts and act more naturally as their real selves.

In this end, this forces us to both re-think and re-contextualize the definition “intimacy” and “shared space” as well as consider the implications of both sides in the carpooling process itself.

Independence vs. dependence on another driver

When people have their own cars, they don’t have to worry about when they want to leave or stay, they can just leave when they want.  When someone is depending on another person both people have to wait till a time when they can leave together.  This may limit one or both people to waiting several minutes till they can leave, which might be viewed as an inconvenience.

Time vs. Money

Along with the previous negotiation, the time saved when not relying on another person is nice, but is the money spent driving a car alone worth that time saving.  Obviously, when you have multiple people sharing a car (and the driver opts to charge) both people save money (than if they were both paying for a separate journey’s worth of gas).

*Entrepreneurship vs. charity

When someone decides to charge for their rides, a certain tone for the ride is set.  For example, if someone decides to ferry people for free, people feel more like the person is doing something nice for them and therefore feel more at ease with the person.  This might result in new friends or other social gains.   When someone charges for the ride, it becomes more formal and the person paying might feel less obliged to talk to the person driving them since they are being paid.

Another interpretation of this includes analyzing the implications of “gaming.”  Any sort of gaming theme suggests a competitive nature-players want to beat their best and each others’ best to be number one.  This is good because it will elicit participation.  However, a major concern is the possibility that drivers will only drive or drive more to score more points.  This at a big scale poses a huge problem in that it then creates a reverse effect – because of competition, people are actually abusing their driving habits more in order to obtain and keep their titles.  It then places the company at a very risky position and poses the question:  where and how discernible is the line between gaming to encourage genuine participation in a good-will effort and gaming for the sake of competition and for personal gain.


Corrall, Jo. “King Of the Road.” Weblog post. Green Thing Blog. 11 Nov. 2010. Web. 24 Nov. 2010. <>.

Facebook Screen Shot. Digital image. Facebook. Web. 24 Nov. 2010. <>.

Honestads. “Ridekicks.” Web log post. The Hydrogen Creative Beacon. 10 Sept. 2010. Web. 23 Nov. 2010. <>.

King of the Road. Digital image. Laser Autotags. Web. 24 Nov. 2010. <>.

Monk, Richard. “Become King of the Road with Ridekicks.” Weblog post. 1985. 13 July 2010. Web. 24 Nov. 2010. <>.

“Lee Marshall – Co-founder of” IdeaMensch | Passionate People Bringing Ideas To Life. Web. 24 Nov. 2010. <>

Phone with youtube. Miss Phones. Web. 24 Nov. 2010. <>.

Red car. Digital Image. Springwise. Web. 24 Nov. 2010. <>.

Ridekicks. “Ridekicks (ridekicks) on Twitter.” Twitter. Web. 24 Nov. 2010. <>.

“Ridekicks Limited | CrunchBase Profile.” CrunchBase, The Free Tech Company Database. Web. 24 Nov. 2010. <>.

“ Turns Ride Sharing Into a Social Game – Startup Report (Press Release) | News for Entrepreneurs.” | News for Entrepreneurs. 2 Nov. 2010. Web. 24 Nov. 2010. <>.

Smith, Paul. “Gaming For Good: Ridekicks | Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit.” Triple Pundit – Green Business News. 29 Oct. 2010. Web. 24 Nov. 2010. <>.

Assignment 1- part 1

19, نوفمبر 2010

After reading the requirements for Assignment 1, our group decided to email the organization directly.

To Whom it Concerns,

We are doing a group project through the College of Architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The main focus of our project is to research a case study that has a vision of change through the design process. We found your organization through online research and we are very intrigued. My group members and I  are curious about this design. We would love to help promote your organization on our campus and in our local community. Would you mind answering a few questions for us?

-How will you go about managing this organization to keep up with advancing technologies of the medical field throughout the world?
-What is the projected completion date of this building?
-What would be the necessary annual income of donations to keep this organization running successfully?
-Where else do you plan to expand your design projects?
-Are there any substantial problems that you have faced while developing this clinic?

Any other information that you would be willing to share and would be helpful to our project would be greatly appreciated.

We look forward to hearing from you.


Emily Lenke- Architecture major
Jennifer Taylor- Architecture major
Olivia King- Architecture major
Becca Ramia- Building Construction major

We decided to send this email because we want to know more. We asked these questions:

-How will you go about managing this organization to keep up with advancing technologies of the medical field throughout the world?

What qualifies the doctors and advisors of the organization? On the website it mentions that the doctors are part of the    Nicaraguan community. However, how will they ensure that the doctors and medical technologies are up to date? We    understand that this organization is not going to have all of the equipment that countries, like the United States, have      today. How will they manage to run a clinic that supports the healthcare of women and children, while using outdated    ways of practicing?

-What is the projected completion date of this building?

Although the building might be finished on a certain date, the resources that the clinic provides might not be    available until later dates.

-What would be the necessary annual income of donations to keep this organization running successfully?

Although donations of any size are accepted graciously, what is the realistic amount that is needed? What would    happen if they did not reach that amount? The progress of this project is a direct reflection of the economies of global    countries since the donators are located around the world. As the economies suffer, the donation levels decrease and    put a strain on the process. Another thing to consider would be once the building is erected, what would be the    required amount of donations that is needed to keep the clinic running? If they didn’t meet that amount, would they    shut the clinic down temporarily?

-Where else do you plan to expand your design projects?

This project is potentially a great idea. There are other third world countries that are suffering from the same issues in    Nicaragua. Could they spread this design process throughout the world?

-Are there any substantial problems that you have faced while developing this clinic?

The idea of a self-sustainable building involves a large thought process while designing. What is the upkeep with this    technique and how can the community of Nicaragua be involved in repairing any parts.

Besides these questions, we are concerned with what actually goes on in Nicaragua and the healthcare problems, especially with women and children.

How will the women bring themselves and their children to the clinic? Is the organization located in a central place for easy access? If few Nicaraguan women can afford the transportation necessary, how can they be helped?

StoryCorps Research [Assignment 1]

18, نوفمبر 2010


In 2003, StoryCorps was founded by MacArthur Fellow Dave Isay with the help of Sound Portraits Productions. StoryCorps gives people the equipment to record their lives, in the form of interviews or stories told to one another. The recordings are on public radio, online, and through weekly podcasts, and books (Listening Is an Act of Love). Once per week, segments are broadcasted on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition. Also, the stories are also archived in the Library of Congress and other archives around the nation. Since late 2009, StoryCorps has recorded interviews from more than fifty thousand people in every state in the USA.




Door-to-Door is the newest way of collecting interviews. It is also growing to be the most popular. With Door-to-Door, Facilitators visit community organizations, and the like, with sound equipment in hand. People are then interviewed in a quiet room somewhere in the facility. The Door-to-Door service “is the centerpiece of [the] Earned Income Plan and the primary way [StoryCorps] carr[ies] out funded Initiatives.”

GOAL: Collect more than 10,000 Door-to-Door interviews through 2014.


During every three to six week stop, the MobileBooths, or moving soundproof recording studios, pair up with local radio stations and broadcast interviews. Since the MobileBooth method has been in effect, they have recorded in 48 states (not Alaska or Hawaii). StoryCorps uses “support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and a corporate sponsorship secured in partnership with National Public Radio.”

GOAL: Increase the capacity of our existing MobileBooths, allowing them to collect more than 14,000 interviews through 2014.


StoryBooths are soundproof recording studios with Faclitators and a Site Supervisor to help with the recording process. Though there are only StoryBooths in New York, San Francisco, and Atlanta, when working part-time, they each can collect over 500 interviews per year. GOAL: Operate and sustain one StoryBooth in each of four U.S. regions, collecting more than 10,000 interviews through 2014.



Interviews can either be done at an official StoryCorps site, or by following the instructions of the DIY guide. These interviews are then admitted into the StoryCorps archives.

Edited Stories

People can watch, listen to, or read the stories of others, which have been edited from the interviews. These stories are the most effective way to reach people, since they are on the radio, television, and even in school curriculum.


All the stories are archived on the internet, so everyone can listen to them. It is a way to connect the future generations.

People Involved

Executive Team

Administration Staff
Business Development Staff
Community Outreach Staff
Development Staff
Finance Staff
Human Resources Staff
IT Staff
Marketing & Communications Staff
Mobile Staff
Participant Relations Staff
Print & Animation Staff
Production Staff
Recording & Archive Staff
StoryBooth & Door-to-Door Staff


Current Initiatives

Griot collects African-American stories. Griot works with the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture

Memory Loss Initiative collects the stories of those with memory loss

September 11th Initiative collects stories centered around the tragedy of September 11, 2001. This initiative works with the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

StoryCorps Historias collects stories of Latinos around the United States.

Future Initiatives

End-of-Life / Hospice Initiative
Prison Initiative
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender (LGBT) Initiative
Muslim-American Initiative
An Initiative to collect stories of people with cancer or other diseases
Asian-American Initiative
Veterans Initiative
Native American Initiative
Bar and Bat Mitzvah Initiative


Digital vs. Traditional Archiving

Most people associate archiving with books, collections, and libraries. StoryCorps takes archiving to a new level by taking history and recording it digitally. This seems very efficient and a lot easier than traditional archiving, however, a lot of people are uneasy about the technology involved. People who are less advanced in new technologies have trouble trusting that the history is safe in digital format.

Accessibility vs. Internet

How easy is it really to use StoryCorps? It is certainly easy to go online and listen to different people’s stories and interviews, but not all of them are as accessible as others. I have never tried to go record a story, but the company tries really hard to make it easily accessible to the public. Examples of this effort are the mobile booths and story booths. They have their story booths in highly populated cities like New York and San Francisco.

Vegetable Oil Recycling

18, نوفمبر 2010

How many people/ who is involved in the Oil recycling movement?

Example of local movements: Clermont County, OH: furnace for public building. [1]

Example of national movement: American Petroleum Institute. [1]

Example of individual movement: Individuals work with local restaurants [5]

Green groups; community members; recycling centers across country, internet sites [2] [4]

There is no national map of locations where oil recycling takes place, nor is there a national number of the population involved. This is mainly because locations depend on the holiday seasons to operate.  However, certain public buildings in large cities, along with local recycling centers, run this program year-round. In addition, there are a countless amount of local articles that depict community activities during the holidays. Many towns, especially during Thanksgiving and Christmas, open a local center where community members can take their used oil at the end of the holidays. This oil is used to power furnaces and cars. Finally, some restaurants will donate their used oil to whoever asks so that they may convert it to car oil from their own home [5].

Taxonomy: Cooperative Design

This design is meant for cooperation. It would not be very effective if a few individuals did this entirely by themselves. You can see the obvious dynamic of groups involved by looking at the information provided above.  Although there are individuals working by themselves, these single contributors are still involved in community activities; indeed, they connect online by sharing ways to make fuel on blogs or instruction posts [3]. They also cooperate with corporations. For example, the McDonald’s in my home town sells its oil for a low price to residents for fuel recycling. When the holidays roll around, certain groups will find a location for the entire community to cooperatively contribute.  Sometimes these are organizations [4], but sometimes they are just a group of residents that want to help out. Finally, this design idea holds aspects of national cooperation. Because of all of the attention it gets from news channels and the internet during holidays, many people are at least aware that you can contribute to oil recycling. Since the media encourages this idea, you can easily log onto your channel’s website and find out how to get involved yourself.

Negotiation One:  Seasonal benefit v. year round application

Although the majority of participants help out during Thanksgiving and Christmas, many campaigners for oil recycle are working to make it a habit for people all year round. For instance, the American Petroleum Institute has created a certified website that teaches you how to recycle used motor oil, instead of merely focusing on vegetables and turkey oils [6].  This doesn’t require a celebratory feast; rather, you are helping by recycling something you use every day. One major problem in the negotiation between seasonal benefit v. year round application is the accessibility. Although companies are slowly latching on to the idea of oil recycling, many community groups only open up on holidays. However, this problem has been somewhat negated through the internet. Because of information blogs and how-to’s [3], people can work on their own with greater ease. This individual contribution helps more than you think; in fact, one article stated that recycling two gallons of used oil can generate enough electricity to run the average household for almost 24 hours [1]. By utilizing the internet to bridge the gap between big businesses, holiday groups, and individuals, our nation is slowly recognizing the negotiation between what is normally just a seasonal benefit and what could potentially be a year round application.

Links to gathered resources:







Negotiation Two: Personal vs. Communal Effects of Recycling

Recycling used cooking oil is a smart and practical decision.  This oil must be disposed of in one way or another, whether it is poured down the drain, thrown in the trash, or recycled.  Cooking oil and kitchen grease is the number one cause of clogged sewer pipes, making the first choice ill-advised.  Not only will the oil pollute the water it comes in contact with, but it will most likely clog your drain and become a hassle.  If you choose to throw it away, you are likely to have it spill, in the process of its disposal, once it is in the trash can, or once it leaves you and reaches the garbage truck and the landfill.  This leaves behind a gross mess for you, garbage collectors, and animals who live near/in landfills.  Therefore, recycling the oil is the best option, for you and your community.  Not only will it keep your pipes, home, and environment clean, but it will also be used to create fuel/power.  In a world with a limited supply oil, and an ever-worsening and more polluted environment, this proves to be important.


There are many benefits to using both turkey waste and the unwanted parts of a turkey into biofuel.  Like many biofuels, the carbon footprint of the turkey oil would be far less than that of petroleum based oils.  The recycling of dead turkey parts not only repurposes something that would just go to waste, but it would hopefully help take some of the United States’ dependence on foreign oil away.  Turkeys are a plentiful and renewable resource.  Every year around Thanksgiving there is a countrywide desire for turkey and with all of these turkeys being bought, there are plenty of chances to turn the unwanted, unused bits of the bird in making a biofuel.

A few drawbacks with turkey fuel are that it is not very easy to refine which makes the cost of turning these birds into fuel an expensive endeavor.  Once a manufacturer goes about making the fuel it is then difficult to make a profit off of this yet to be proven biofuel.  The oilmaking process for turkeys has yet to be perfected and the oil produced is more akin to something used for heavy machinery, not something like your Chevrolet or Vespa.


Superior Service Recycling:

“We process 100% of our used cooking oil into biofuel. Superior Service Recycling is licensed and certified with all the required state and federal agencies.”

Pick up:

  • Used Cooking Oil (Oil from Fryer) FREE
  • Lard or Grease (Drippings from Meat) FREE
  • Trimmings/Scraps (.25¢/lb.)
  • Trap Grease/Water (0-110 gallons = $1.00/gallon | 111-1000 gallons = .50¢/gallon)

Earth 911:

Provides basic information on recycling different products and a listing for recycling centers near you. &country=&province=&city=

Links: &country=&province=&city=


Mahoney Environmental and Mendota Argi-Products is a company that recycles used vegetable oil and other liquids. The video below runs through the process of shipping and recycling large quantities of oil.

This is a biodiesel oil recycling system, where the used vegetable oil would be taken and processed into a fuel source.

A European bus service, the Big Lemon, runs all of their busses on recycled vegetable oil, and is therefore an environmentally friendly choice when traveling.