Friday, December 11, 2009

NYT 12/11/09 Quake Threat Leads Swiss to Close Geothermal Project

There was a $60 million dollar project to extract renewable energy from the hot bedrock beneath Basel, Switzerland however, it had to be shut down because it was generating destructive earthquakes. The project was led by Markus Haring and he is going to trial on criminal charges from the project. The hope for the project was to use geothermal energy to cut down on fossil fuel use. The Obama administration is also planning a test of advanced geothermal energy with the AltaRock project and is hoping for more positive findings. Geothermal energy might be better in a less populated area. I think it is great that researchers are trying to find alternative means of energy and hopefully they will have success without causing millions of dollars in damage.

NYT 12/10/09 3 Convicted in Plot to Blow Up Trans-Atlantic Passenger Jets

Three men were convicted of conspiracy to commit murder with a plan to blow up trans-Atlantic passenger jets using liquid explosives. Several others were convicted of assisting in the plot possibly without knowing the full plan but knowing that it involved murder. This terrorist ring was broken up by authorities in August 2006. It is nice to know that justice is served and that the authorities are able to prevent terrorist attacks from happening...makes me feel a little safer.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

NYT 12/1/09 Pirates Seize Oil Tanker, U.S.-Bound, Off Somalia

In Nairobi, Kenya, Somalia pirates have seized an oil tanker that contained $20 million in crude oil. It was only 9 pirates that hijacked the tanker and its crew of 30 people. In the past 2 months, 38 ships have been attacked and 10 have been hijacked. I just find it surprising that it takes so few people to hijack such a large ship with a much larger crew. I would think that the ships would be more prepared to handle this kind of situation if it happens so frequently or invest in some kind of technology that would alert them of approaching ships. It's sad that people resort to this kind of theft but I guess crude oil has become a very valuable product.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

NYT 11/30/09 A Priest's Son Who Told All Dies at 22

Nathan Habach told all about how it felt growing up with an absent Roman Catholic priest as a father. It isn't the first time that a priest has fathered a child and abandoned the child but it is a taboo to discuss. Rev. Henry Willenborg was suspended from his position after it was discovered that he had opted for an abortion and had relations with several women. He had been sent to a center that treated priests for sexual and alcohol addictions. The decision to speak out came after the Franciscans, who paid child support if they kept silent, refused to pay for the expense of a trip for cancer treatment. I just think priesthood and the whole culture around it is interesting and it's sad that they don't have relationships with their children if they father children.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Brainstorming Final Project

For my final project I am teaming up with Greg and Anita to make items based on the children's drawings from Greg's school to be sold at the school store. We are making a calendar, and ceramic tiles using the 12 best drawings. We are taking the calendar to kinkos to be printed on recycled paper and it will be available in the school store for the children to buy using their beaver bucks. For the calendar I thought it would be nice to include quotes about children and environmental choices as well as eco ideas for elementary aged children. Their drawings show that they are already thinking about the world around them and I felt that giving them things that they are able to do to make a difference in the world might interest them. I didn't really have to brainstorm much for the basis of the project because Greg and and Anita already had been doig that all semester. I just had to conceptualize the best way to present the children's pictures and the text to accompany them. I searched a lot of different websites to find the information I wanted but I wrote them down in my sketchbook. I'm looking forward to seeing the calendar when it gets printed!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

NYT 11/19/09 Oceans' Absorption of Fuel Emissions Is Slowing, Study Suggests

The Earth's oceans have been absorbing carbon dioxide from fuel emissions but recent studies have found that they are less efficient now. It started slowing in the 1980s but has become increasingly slower since 2000. The slowdown is due in part from absorbing the carbon dioxide which changes the chemistry and makes it more acidic and less able to absorb. There was some really scientific process on how they determined the absorbtion rate and Dr. Khatiwala's approach provides estimates on the ocean carbon storage from 1765 to 2008. Kinda sucks that the natural cleaners are becoming less useful at a time when we are increasingly contributing to the release of carbon emissions. Hopefully the chemical change can be reversed or improve if we are able to cut down on our carbon emissions.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

NYT 11/17/09 A Racial Divide Is Bridged by Hard Times

In the past it has been more typical for black families to have economic/financial problems and to need government assistance such as welfare programs. However, with the recession an increasing number of white families have been fallen on hard times and have also needed financial assistance. In McDonough, Ga. the racial barriers have been breached by the coming together of black and white families that are sharing the same struggles during these hard financial times. Families that have been through the process of recieving help before are now offering advice to both black and white families that have never had to be in the situation before. The racial barriers are not as strong as races bond and sympathize with each other over the hard times. I'm glad that some racial barriers are being broken but it sucks that there are so many racial barriers still in existance and that people can't overcome their differences. But anything that brings people together and creates less of a racial divide is positive in my mind even if it hard to be such devestating times to do it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

NYT 11/12/09 U.S. Plans Raw Warm-Water Oyster Ban

There is a federal effort to ban the sale of raw oysters harvested during the warm months along the Gulf Coast unless they are processed by freezing and pasteurization. The raw oysters harbor a deadly bacteria that kill 15 people each year. There is a debate over the decline of the oyster industry if the ban is passed and the F.D.A to protect public health. There are arguments over the taste of treated oysters and how people will stop buying them if the taste is not the same and not as good. It is hard to interfere with the livelihood of a number of people but it is also hard to know that without regulation that 15 people are pretty much guaranteed to die a year from eating raw oysters infected with this deadly bacteria. It is a choice people make to decide to risk getting the oysters with the bacteria but they don't always consider the risk or that they might be susceptible. I do think that the F.D.A regulates to protect the health of humans and I do think they have the right to at least enforce warnings on the packaging or menus so people are fully aware of the potential danger of their food if not enforce an entire ban on oysters that were not processed to kill the bacter.

NYT 11/11/09 As Blackouts Hit Energy-Rich Venezuela, the President Tells People to Cut Back

Venezuela has the largest conventional oil reserves outside the Middle East and one of the world's best hydroelectric systems but it is suffering from electricity and water shortages. Venezuela has experienced six nationwide blackouts in the last two years and numerous poweroutages each day in some areas. Water rationing is being implimented in the capital as well as limits on imports of air-conditioning systems, the building of new gas-fired power plants and rate increases for consumers with high energy bills. With oil revenues declining and the economy slowing the problems will appear to prevail for a while. The other plan is to develop a nuclear energy program but there seem to be flaws with the benefits of it. The President is mocking consumption in an effort to reduce use of water and energy. It is hard to imagine a world without consistent electricity but it is soon to be the reality unless consumers reduce usage and different sources are found.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

11/5/09 Gay Rights Rebuke May Bring Change in Tactics

New England has been more accepting of same-sex marriage however, Maine became the 31st state to block same-sex marriage through a public referendum. Gay rights activists have become emboldened to take a stronger stand for what they believe in and are disappointed by Obama's restrained remarks on the issue. Activists are looking for more aggressive tactics like speeding up a ballot measure to reverse California's ban on same-sex marriage instead of gathering support or trying to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. It's hard to see our society being so closed minded when we are so advanced in many other ways.

NYT 11/2/09 When Texting Kills, Britain Offers Path to Prison

Phillipa Curtis, 22, is going to prision for 21 months for a rear end car accident that killed the other young driver. The reason is that there is evidence on Ms. Curtis's cell phone that she was texting while driving. Britain is one of the more aggressive countries with laws against cell phone use. Ms. Curtis was not texting at the time of the accident but new guidelines reading or composing messages over a period of time is a distraction. Ms. Curtis would consider herself a safe cell phone user as would many people that text and drive yet it only takes a second to look down and read a message and miss seeing what is happening on the road.

NYT 10/27/09 Barred From Field, Christian Banners Find Home in Stands

Cheerleaders in a Ga. school made religious signs in response to the Sept. 11 attacks and it became a tradition for eight years. A parent expressed concern that it could cause a First Amendment lawsuit because church and state were not separate. The town and school have a majority of religious people that have rallied to bring messages about God into the football games in a legal way. The school couldn't allow the cheerleaders to keep holding religious banners because of the law but the response to the decision caused a greater number of religious fans and parents to hold signs in the stands. It was interesting to see how people stand up for their rights and were able to ultimately get what they wanted but in a legal way.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

NYT 10/29/09 Trial Opens for Nazi Death Squad Member

A former Nazi hitman went on trial for the killing of three Dutch citizens in 1944. Heinich Boere evaded prosectution by fleeing and by the German courts ruling that he could not be extradited. He faces the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison. This is a case of ethics and how the passing of time doesn't excuse the crimes committed so he should be prosecuted. It is amazing that someone could escape prosectution for that long but he is still guilty for the actions he made.

NYT 10/26/09 Recession Drives Surge in Youth Runaways

Times are stressful and low income families are feeling it hardest. With so much financial stress parents may be short tempered, angry and violent. There has been an increase in youth runaways during this recession many of which are younger than 13. It is estimated that 1.6 million juveniles run away or are thrown out of their homes annually. Runaways that are too young to rent hotel rooms or hold a job are surviving by selling drugs, panhandling or engaging in prostitution. Runaways tend to avoid authority figures for fear of being sent home. They form little families amongst themselves and attempt to protect each other. Older children try to shelter younger children from being taken advantage of and show them how to survive on the streets. Authorities try to find runaways and send them home whenever possible but if their names are not listed in the National Crime Information Center or N.C.I.C they become invisible. In 16% of cases local police failed to enter the information into the federal database. Many of the runaways don't want to be found but these children may never have the opportunity to be productive members of society because of the difficulties of being a young, homeless runaway. There are nearly enough shelters or reform programs to help these children out.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dangers Plastic Bags

I thought that Elise and Mandie might find this site about the dangers of plastic bags interesting.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

NYT 10/23/09 Sweden Looks to Diet to Cut Global Waming

Sweden is trying a new strategy to cut global warming. They are including the carbon footprint of food products on the label to discourage consumers from purchasing items that are less environmentally friendly. This will steer consumers to purchase items that are readily produced in the area. Even vegetables are weighted on having a better or worse impact on the environment, in Sweden carrots are better than tomatoes and cucumbers because they don't have to be grown in a greenhouse. Europes stock of fish is depleted so despite health benefits they are discouraged from choosing fish. If food guidelines are followed Sweden could cut its emissions fom food production by 20 to 50 percent. It is somewhat difficult to accurately estimate the carbon footprint of foods because it depends on where they are being shipped since emissions generated by fertilizer, fuel for harvesting machinery, packaging, and transport are taken into account. I think this is a great idea because consumers may be guilted into choosing items with a smaller carbon footprint or at the least they will become more conscious of the effect products have on the environment.

NYT Shout if You're Against Spanking 10/22/09

This article discusses how parenting has at times traded the disciplinary method of spanking for yelling. Parents lose their cool in front of the kids and explode at them which can come off as rejection and can damage self-esteem. Parents may feel at a loss of what to do for discipline so they resort to reminding, nagging, timeout, counting 1-2-3 and get frustrated if those tools don't work. There aren't many studies on the effects of yelling but there are many studies on the negative effects of spanking. Psychologists and psychiatrists generally agree that yelling should be avoided so parents should try to be aware of what triggers yelling and attempt to prevent those situations. It must be hard for parents to discipline their kids if they really won't listen. There should really be more parenting classes that assist new parents with skills and advice on how to best handle situations because this knowledge isn't always passed down from parents to children.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Design Research and Critical Thinking

The problem/issue I am addressing is the lifecycle of products through recycling paper and making it into seed paper that can be planted. The product has an obvious life path that makes the consumers aware if only at an unconscious level about where the products they buy end up. I am still trying to determine which direction I want to take my project in so I might also want to incorporated ways that consumers can become involved in the Green movement. I orginally wanted to focus on informing consumers about their environmentally friendly options in order to tie in my considering alternatives idea. But the whole egg crate seed idea does tie that in as well in a way. I'm back to design research.

One of the ideas discussed during brainstorming was post-its. Post-it currently has recycled post-it paper but I didn't see seed paper. I looked on-line to see if there was a how to make post-it adhesive and I couldn't find it since it's such a big secret but I did find a glue stick that is suppose to be restickable. Has information about why people should make environmentally friendly decisions and how to do so. Has 10 easy tips about how college students can make a difference being green. 21 Environmentally friendly home improvement ideas This website is a compilation of all things Green. These eco boxes have flower bulbs for wedding favors. plantable herb "egg" garden pre-seeded mat you just plant

I'm still trying to tie all my ideas together and figure out exactly what I plan to do but with the herb paper planting box I'm working out how the herb paper would get used as paper before planting because I don't want to be accused of creating a product that doesn't serve a purpose since the seeds don't need the paper to be planted.

The opposing view could say that the awareness issue is already being addressed online with resources of how to learn more.

I think that paper is used for writing and packaging so it needs to serve that purpose in whatever design I choose.

I could do post it notes with an eco friendly suggestions on the four edges of the pack of paper. I am a little concerned that if I made post-it notes that I would get criticized for not being as clean cut as a manufacturer.

To be continued?

Brainstorming 10/20/09

Loved Tai's jewelry idea. I think that the pieces are well thought out and that its a unique approach to a common object. I would like to see prototypes of different materials if he doesn't plan to just do cardboard. I think he has a good grasp on sustainability and function.

Bridget's leaf idea seemed to be taking off in a good direction after brainstorming. I like how she was inspired by her readings from Cradle to Cradle. I think that is what this class is all about, learning from what exists and what needs to exist in order to be more sustainable. I hope that she takes the project in a direction that deals with being sustainable. I get the whole philosophical view on taking nature for granted but I'm not totally sure that will be reflected in the product if the materials involved aren't environmentally friendly. Great idea to work with and I hope to see how the execution turns out tomorrow/today in class with prototypes or sketches.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

NYT 10/19/09 From Foreclosure to the Car to a Shelter Bed

Growing numbers of Americans are losing houses to foreclosure and are ending up homeless having to sleep in cars, shelters and outside. The rise in homelessness is a reflection of the soring rates of unemployment. States are even designating areas for car camping due to the rise in homelessness. People may attempt to stay with family and friends on their extra beds or couches but hospitality rarely lasts long. Companies that offer to negotiate for lower payments from the lender are often pricey and without a job, bills add up fast. Homeless shelters have a 90-day limit. So in tough times there isn't always an easy solution. It's sad that there are so few programs that help people in tough financial situations and that there aren't enough jobs for hardworking people that need them.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

NYT 10/15/09 In Nuclear Cleanups, Not Even Rabbit Droppings Can Be Ignored

At the Hanford nuclear reservation, even rabbit droppings can trigger Geiger counters. Radioactive rabbit feces are found with detectors mounted on a helicopter and are tracked with GPS to be picked up for disposal as low level radioactive waste. The Hanford site produced 2/3s of the plutonium used in the nation's nuclear weapons arsenal from WW II until the 1980s. Rabbits were attracted to contaminants because they were in the form of salts. Rabbits aren't the only animals affected, mice, badgers and turtles also became carriers of radioactive particles. Technicians monitor rodents and waterfowl for radiation. Even tumbleweeds can absorb radioactive material because of long roots. It just shows how much of an impact nuclear weapons have on the environment and on wildlife in surrounding areas.

NYT 10/13/09 Cleansing the Air at the Expense of Waterways

Coal-fired power plants release lots of toxins into the air if they aren't regulated and they are thought to cause respiratory diseases and acide rain. One of the solutions implimented at Allegheny Energy is the installation of scrubbers which clean the air emissions. This process sprays water and chemicals through the plant's chimneys which traps more than 150,000 tons of pollutants each year. However, the wastewater is dumped into the Monongahela River which people drink from. From one powerplant the wastewater doesn't affect the drinking water but if the number of scrubbers used around the nation increases it could pose more of a problem. There are currently no federal regulations dealing with the disposal of power plant discharges and laws such as the Clean Water Act don't mandate limits on the most dangerous chemicals. The goal is for power plants to actually clean up pollution not just moving it around. The Environmental Protection Agency is planning to revise standards for water discharges from coal-fired plants. There are a lot of processes to go through in order to get new laws and there is the disagreements of safety of the people living around the area vs. cost of the power plants. Toxins from these plants seem to be extremely hazardous and so it seems like the cheapest tolerable solution shouldn't be the best answer.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

NYT 10/12/09 It's a Fork, It's a Spoon, It's a...Weapon? School Suspends Boy, 6

In Newark, Del. a 6 year old boy was suspended for bringing a cub scout utensil to school that is a fork, knife and spoon. He was just excited about joining the cub scouts and wanted to use it at lunch. However, the zero tolerance policy that schools have adopted doesn't allow for discretion because it has the potential for bias so his punishment is 45 days at the districts reform school. The law only mentioned expulsion so a new law is being drafted to include suspension. What has our society come to? I mean seriously there has to been some room for judgement in these matters. Yeah it is sometimes difficult to discern the motive of the student but good kids that make slightly bad judgement calls shouldn't have the same punishment as a student with the intent to harm. I realize it is difficult to determine how to handle these situations but it is just sad that this is what has become of our society and our school systems.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Creative Caffine/Brainstorming...any suggestions?

For my creative caffine I went to stores to see what Green products were available to the public and I found recycled paper paper towels, napkins, printer paper, toliet paper, recycled plastics pencils and pens, wooden pencils made from renewable wood resources, environmentally friendly glue, recycled paper sketch books, bamboo tools, soy wax candles with recycled paper labels, reusable water bottles, environmentally friendly cleaning products, solar lights, energy saving light bulbs, natural soaps, bamboo and organic cotton sheets, heating blankets that claim to save energy, LED lights that claim to save 88% energy, organic make up and eco make up tools.

I wanted to impliment one of the ideas from my creative alternative sticker to do my part in being green so I decided to make seed paper from my recycled paper. This fulfills both recycling and organic because I'm using oregano and chives seeds as well as flower seeds that people could use to start an organic herb garden. I looked at this website to figure out how to make paper. Then I decided to see what products are made out of seed paper. has pretty much every kind of paper product. makes seed boxes as well as paper.

So I'm in the process of thinking about what to do with my seed paper that still deals with the issue of awareness. So far the only ideas I've come up with are to
1.make a journal that has a green idea or solution on each page or design the front cover with them.
2.I also considered making a things to do list and the first line would be a way to be green and the last line could be about considering alternatives.
3.I could cut leaf shapes out of the paper and hang them on a tree and have a sign asking people to write what they plan to do to contribute to the green movement then ask them to plant the paper and let their ideas grow with their flower or herb.
4.I could make the paper into folders.
5.I could make flyers about green alternatives with information about planting the paper.
6.I could make flyers advertising our event at the end of the year.
7.I could make coasters.
8.I could make bookmarks.
9.I could make a tree out of cardboard and seed paper with a message about how paper comes from trees and stats about trees and paper
10. I could make a basket out of paper
11.I could make a hot plate/coaster out of used/broken pens, pencils and yarn
12.still thinking....ANYONE HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS???
This website sells vegetable ink which is more eco friendly than soy ink.
I'm debating whether I want to print on my paper so I'm researching where to buy ink if I do.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

MIO- I Love Design by Jaime Salm

MIO is the company created by Jaime Salm and his brother Isaac. The motto of their company is “beautiful, affordable, sustainable”. MIO was founded on the premise of creating environmentally friendly products as well as implementing socially progressive ideas.
The inspiration for MIO came from a college project that Jaime worked on. Jaime’s group decided to design bowls and chairs out of recycled paper. The idea for the project wasn’t just off the top of their heads. They did research on their intended audience and answered the questions of who they were marketing to, what kind of materials were they going to use and how were they going to produce the product. They looked up information on existing products like egg cartons that use a similar process. They also launched their product by having college students test it and selling it in a boutique to observe reactions. This was the point from which Jaime went from being a student to a consultant to an entrepreneur.
Jaime’s college project was the first stage from which he got an offer to design signs using the same process for Anthropology. The money Jaime earned from Anthropology helped him start his business. Jaime had never run a business before so the beginning of MIO was a learning experience for him. He had to design the identity of MIO by determining what the company was all about and he had to design products that fit within that identity. Jaime was initially unable to define what the products he was creating had in common. What he eventually determined was that they were all renewable, biodegradable and recyclable.
Jaime has drive, determination, imagination, and a good work ethic. For every product he creates he brainstorms ideas, he researches, he sketches, he makes numerous maquettes, and he keeps the goals of his company in mind. Every product he has every made has not been successful but every product he makes follows his company motto of beautiful, affordable and sustainable. He learns from flaws in his products, he listens to constructive criticism and he is always thinking ahead about what he would like to see changed in the world. Jaime has an innovative ability to access current situations and to design products that he hopes will help to change people’s way of thinking in order to impact the world in an environmentally friendly way.
The great thing about the products Jaime designs for MIO is that they keep consumers involved and thinking. Not only are the consumers buying sustainable items but they interact with it and they are confronted with how MIO products ask the consumers to send the products back to be recycled when they are ready to get rid of them. MIO products such as the Bendant lamp are shaped by the customer so the customer has interaction with it. Customers become informed about the lifecycle of products through information about the materials and how the product can be recycled. One of the goals for MIO’s products is to have active sustainable products that transform daily activities into acts of environmental conservations. There is a product, consumer, environment relationship. Jaime examines relationships between materials and the environment and the relationships between consumers and the products they want or need. It is through these processes that MIO has become a successful and environmentally responsible company.

NYT 10/8/09 The Art of the Repair

There is a group of artists working at te Proteus Gowanus gallery in Brooklyn on an art project called the Fixers Collective. David Mahfouda is the leader of this project that turned into a community group. It started as a year long exhibition called, "Mend" with the idea that people bring broken objects to be fixed or to help fix broken objects. Some of the broken items include clocks and umbrellas. The umbrellas are either fixed or the fabric gets turned into tote bags. Many people in the community have come together and continue to work on this project on thursday nights. They are working because they imagine that things can be different. I think this is an awesome idea and it is part of the whole reuse and recycle idea. Most people would throw broken objects like umbrellas away without ever considering the materials that could be salvaged. It is a new way of thinking. Thinking about the lifespan of objects. Thinking about how broken things aren't necessarily trash. Thinking about the possibilities and values of objects. One step closer to eliminating the out of sight out of mind mentality.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

NYT 10/7/09 Parental Guidance on Web Video for Children

This article discusses the positive and negative effects of easily accessible video information on the internet that children can access. It provides learning tools but it also can expose children to things that aren't age appropriate. However, cautious parents can take advantage of YouTube filters and preference options. This helps users control what they can see in their searches and on the pages. The internet is still new and it takes time for people to adjust to the wealth of good and bad things available at a click of a button. It will take a while to discover what kids should and shouldn't search for but there are precautions that parents can take in order to prevent unwanted searches to appear when their children are surfing the web. At times in our society technology is ahead of social rules but in this case the issue of making videos on the web safe for children is already being addressed.

Monday, October 5, 2009

NYT 10/1/09 E.P.A. Proposes New Regulations on Plant Gases

The Obama administration is taking steps to make rules that will regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and industrial facilities. Mr. Obama would like to see a comprehensive approach to regulating emissions and his goal is to pass a climate bill this year. The plan is focusing on only the biggest emitters from stationary sources. This is a vital step in slowing global warming and it really is a shame that it takes so long to get these laws into effect since it would be beneficial to have them implimented sooner. However, any improvement and move towards preserving the planet is better than none.

NYT 9/28/09 Dialing for Answers Where Web Can't Reach

This company, Question Box, helps developing countries like India and Uganda get their questions answered. The purpose of this operator based system is to make information more accessible in the hopes of helping the progression of developing countries. It works by calling the hot line from either a phone or a call box provided by the company in places where internet is accessible and then an operator searches the answer for the question on the internet at that moment or with the promise to call back within a few minutes. This is a great idea because a good portion of the areas using this service are in such report locations that they most likely will remain undeveloped and without internet for another decade. Knowledge should be available to everyone and it is awesome that this company is making it possible.

Monday, September 28, 2009

NTY 9/24/09 Does This Pencil Skirt Have an App? and Vietnam Finds Itself Vulnerable If Sea Rises

Does This Pencil Skirt Have an App?
In our technologically advanced society one of the new ways marketed at trying to lose weight is an application on the iPhone called Lose It! This nifty little application helps make goal encouraging graphs that track your progress to your weight loss when you count your calorie intake. There are other applications such as LiveStrong that lists the calorie content of 450,000 foods. It is a lifestyle change just like any other diet but maybe it will help encourage our overweight society to think about what is consumed.

Vietnam Finds Itself Vulnerable If Sea Rises
Climate experts find Vietnam to be among the most at risk to be affected by weather disruptions and rising sea levels due to global warming. It is unfair that developing countries like Vietnam are suffering the consequences from the actions of developed countries. It just shows that our choices and actions to have an impact on more than just ourselves. Vietnam could potentially have large sections of land be submerged underwater if the sea level rises approximately three feet. There could be social and econonic impacts to the remaining area if living conditions aren't sustainable. Vietnam has already developed a sensible national program that includes an attempt to integrate environmental concerns into development plans, and the construction and reinforcement of dikes. The dikes, however, could pose a potentially worse problem of trapping waste and polluting the remaining land if sea levels rise three feet. The people of Vietnam aren't worrying about the future too much but it might be something they should start worrying about if they needed to evacuate and relocate to another country.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

NYT 9/22/09 In Vaccine Additive, Benefit and Doubt

There isn't enough of the H1N1 vaccine for everyone in the world. Right now the wealthy countries are the ones that will get the vaccine and a small amount or 10% of the U.S. vaccines are being sold to other countries. So there is a debate on whether to use adjuvants to the vaccine which would increase the potency and the amount of vaccine available because people would need less. However, the adjuvants haven't been proven to be safe, there is currently nothing negative found against it but there could be unknown risks. Other countries have opted to use the adjuvants to increase supply but the U.S. is opting to refrain from it until it has been proven to be safe and effective. The negative consequence of using it could be that people will be wary of an unknown substance and would refuse to get vaccinated. So there is some pressure on the U.S. to use the adjuvant but for the moment it will not be used to keep people interested in getting the vaccine and to make sure that it works.

Monday, September 21, 2009

My project-Awareness

I decided to do my first project on the issue of awareness. I for one never considered half the issues we have discussed in class because I didn't know about them and I didn't know or think about alternatives to my actions or their consequences. So I brainstormed about how to make people think about their choices. I really liked the bumper sticker that spells out the word coexist with religious symbols because it gets a message across in a simple word. I based my idea off of this and came up with the words Consider Alternatives and incorporated symbols and drawings to represent things I would like people to think about. Symbols I used include religious symbols, global warming, recycling, a light bulb for electricity, smoking/no smoking, free trade, boy/girl sign, cars, organic, bamboo, radiation, religion vs science, drinking and drivin, drugs, vegan and oil. I had researched a whole bunch of symbols of social issues I am interested in but these seemed to fit the design best because of their shape. I added text around the words Consider Alternatives to explain some of the issues I would like people to think about and in case they aren't familiar with the symbols they can understand the message through the text. I think that people get comfortable with their routines and aren't willing to think about other ways of doing things unless it is marketed towards them. For example the whole going Green movement. People weren't all jumping up and down about being environmentally aware until advertisng made it sound attractive and they were face to face with information about it. So I think my graphic words will help to bombard people with more things to think about.

World Press-9/21/09 China Expected to take the lead on climate change treaty

China has been hesitant in the past to agree to a plan that would reduce emissions of green house gases. China emits the most green house gases followed by the U.S. in second. China still doesn't want to decide on exact numbers for its reduction plan but it is a step forward that will hopefully encourage the U.S. to also step up and make an effort to cut down on emissions.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

NYT 9/15/09 "New York Eye 'No Smoking' Outdoors, Too" and Hawaii Tries Green Tools In Remaking Power Grids

New York Eyes 'No Smoking' Outdoors, Too
This article was about just what the title says, the idea of implimenting no smoking rules in public outdoor areas and in this instance they are discussing no smoking in parks. The other alternative idea being thrown around is having designated smoking areas. The idea behind this proposal is of course with the best interest of health but there are many smokers that don't seem to be happy about the proposal. Second hand smoke is a very serious social issue and health risk so in my opinion I think the proposal would help health conscious people to avoid unwanted smoking encounters.

Hawaii Tries Green Tools in Remaking Power Grids
I thought this was a relevant article on social issues since several people had written energy and resources or related issues on our top ten. Hawaii is trying to make use of its natural resources and environment by utilizing heat from the volcanic rock beneath the clouds of steam created by the lava and sea to generate electricity. Hawaii is also using giant wind turbines in key locations to generate energy and the other islands all have at least one energy accent including waves, wind, solar panels and a plan for biomass energy from crops on Kauai. The ultimate goal is for Hawaii to generate 40 percent of its power from these methods by 2030. Its a big task but a necessary one to protect natural resources and hopefully the rest of the country will be as aggressive with conservation efforts soon.

T.A.O.I.- ch 6 Prototyping is the Shorthand of Innovation

So basically what I got out of this chapter was that prototyping is Amazing! because it keeps ideas flowing, the physical prototype speeds up troubleshooting problems, people are visual learners and are more easily persuaded by 3D objects vs written statements and many great products have been invented through the use of successful prototypes such as the Aerobie football and the Apple Duo Dock. Who hearts run on sentences? I do!!! Prototyping also makes projects that seem impossible managable as well as working on questions before you have the answers. Accidental discoveries are more likely to occur when fiddling with a prototype and new innovations are sparked by the thought process. Like I said earlier prototyping is awesome and from what this article says we would all most likely benefit from it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Ch5 The Art of Innovation

This chapter had a lot of unusual and creative ways for fostering creative thinking environments. It stressed the importance of having fun, rewarding people, inspiring people through whatever works and keeping spirits high. It discussed the value of good morale and how to inspire good morale through groups that people want to be in and are excited about. It talked about group dynamics and the different personalities that make up 'hot groups'. It had a lot of unconventional ideas about how to create the perfect brainstorming, creative, productive environment. This chapter seemed to express ideas that really understand the essence of what makes the creative thinker tick and how to keep that creativity flowing. It comes down to basic human needs and happiness and keeping the energy throughout fun times and fun work. It seems like an awesome place to work and I think other businesses could really benefit by taking more of these ideas into account.

NYT 9/9/09 Driver Texting Now an Issue in Back Seat

This article discussed the increased risk of multitasking while driving focusing mainly on using cell phones and blackberries to talk, text and check emails. Talking on the cell phone while driving was one of the pictures I took of a social issue and I do feel that it is a real concern. Many people if asked will say that they are safe drivers even while texting and that it isn't a problem. However, they don't necessarily see themselves swerving on the road because they are focused on something else. Anyway, the article discussed how "back seat drivers"/spouses, friends, etc who discuss their concerns with the multitasking driver may have more of an impact than laws on this issue because they watch over the driver. In Washington the National Transportation Safety Board made a rule that employees could no longer make calls or text while driving on official business of while using company cell devices in their own cars. So maybe more laws outlawing phone calls and texting while driving are coming in the near future because it is a danger and a risk that can be avoided.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Brainstorm eco ideas

Hybrids, consumer generated power, household recycling plant, green rentals, eco-chic entrepeneurs, etc.
Some awesome ideas people came up with...
Tree-Free Pencils
Why use virgin wood when old newspapers work just as well? Made from 100 percent recycled rolled newsprint, these pencils are green to the core. Cost: $18 for a pack of 48
Recycled Paper Notebook
Don't toss paper that's only been printed on one side into the recycling bin. Bind the sheets together for a quick, handy notebook. 1. Cut the paper into uniformly sized rectangles. 2. Stack the pieces blank-side up and punch two to three holes along one edge. 3. Grab an old shoe box and cut two pieces of cardboard the same size as the paper. 4. Punch holes along one edge, keeping them aligned with the paper holes. 5. Sandwich paper between the covers and "bind" the book using key rings. 6. Cover the cardboard with old carpet samples or colorful contact paper. Cost: about $3
Bamboo Washcloths
Renewable bamboo isn't just a substitute for wood. Fabric woven from its fibers is absorbent and naturally antibacterial, making it ideal for washcloths. or Cost: $8 to $12 Designers using green materials in their art-...just when you think you can invent the wheel you realize it's already been done. :oP

The Art of Innovation Ch.4

The Art of Innovation proposed a lot of interesting ideas about brainstorming the positive how to and the negative imagination squelcher. It was like reading the result of a brainstorm on brainstorming. It had some good ideas about how to keep ideas fresh and how to make the atmosphere open to new thoughts as well as how to prevent a lack of brainstorming.

Cradle to Cradle

I really enjoyed reading Cradle to Cradle. I like how it put the industrial revolution and how we came to our present manufacturing situation into perspective. It really makes one think about products we never question and what gets put into them. I for one never thought about the toxic chemicals in my shoes or materials in my computer. Noone ever made me consider before what toys, furniture and clothes are made out of and I trusted our country to have regulations that would protect my health and the health of others. I am naive and reading these articles just makes me reconsider everything I ever knew. I enjoyed this article because the writing style was humerous and informative. I liked how it examined everyday products we don't think twice about using and how our society developed into its production ways.

Social Design This was a really interesting website that creates smart products for the greater good. This had an awesome article on social design, the role of design, and it gives examples of social design projects such as the Project H Design we talked about, IDEO redesigning the Money Maker Pump.


This is the definition I got from for creativity.
1.the state or quality of being creative.
2.the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination: the need for creativity in modern industry; creativity in the performing arts.
3.the process by which one utilizes creative ability: Extensive reading stimulated his creativity.

Design Skills On Fast Company's website it lists 10 skills designers need to succeed including: Passionate curiosity, imagination, objectivity and self awareness, crisp communication, effective storytelling, flawless execution, business acumen, global awareness, context and talent. I think this is an all-encompassing list that really defines what qualities a designer should possess to be the most successful. A designer has to have a multitude of talents that include the drive to discover, perfect and create with a purpose. I think when you get into specific design niches then the skills become more specified to that career but in general this list seems to qualify for anyone that is in a design field and the 'design skills' that they should possess.

NYT 9/8/09 Lush Land Dries Up, Withering Kenya's Hopes

There is a drought in Kenya that is making living conditions very hard for the people there. There is little to no food, a scandal over a corrupt government selling off grain reserves, and delayed international aid to avoid mass hunger. I'm sad for the people there because international help to provide food is scarce since the international relations with the government is tense and that means that nearly 4 million people are going hungry. World hunger is a social issue and so is the negative relations with other countries. It puts my life in perspective to hear stories like this one. Yeah it may be harder to find a job but I'm not going to be going hungry anytime soon.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Design Skills

What is 'design thinking'?
I liked the definition provided by Tim Brown, "Design thinking can be described as a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity." Fast Company gave a thorough examination of design thinking and broke it down into steps 1. Define the problem 2.Create and consider many options. 3. Refine selected directions 4. Repeat 5. Execute chosen option.
From what I have read I got the impression that design thinking is just the term applied to what many and all artists do in their sketch books. They think about the problem and try to brainstorm as many possible solutions as they come up with until they discover one that seems to stand out as the best option. Then it is just taking the idea and tweeking(sp?) it until it becomes a working product.

Social Design-'Green racing car' WorldPress

Here are some innovative British designers that created a racing car powered by chocolate and steered by carrots. It was created out of waste materials so it truly is helping to reuse and reinvent our trash. The designers don't believe the car is a solution but it is a step in the right direction for individuals that race cars and want to be more environmentally conscious. A good example of designers putting their brains together and supporting sustainable design.

9/7/09 Farmers Sell Wives After Crops Fail-(North India)

This article was highly disturbing for numerous reasons. For one thing it's sad that farmers in North India are so poor from having failing crops due to erratic rainfall. Two, it's both sad and disturbing that the solution the men come to is to sell their wives and that there are other men willing to buy them. I don't know anything about marriage laws in India or their customs but it just seems to me that this kind of thing shouldn't be legal. What is worse is that the women are trying to escape from their new "owners" because they aren't happy about the situation and/or didn't even understand what was happening because a good deal of them couldn't read the marriage contract.

Do Good Design

I just finished reading the first sections of Do Good Design and I like how the author's message is for "designers, for those who buy design and for those who consume design" because its not just one party responsible for the current design issues and solutions. I never really took the time to consider the impact of design but from reading this article and the other articles we have been assigned for this class it has made me consider from all angles the part it plays in life. It's a little surprising to hear about how much influence design has over things. I really loved this book so far. I like how it examines work from various designers and discusses the impact they have on the world. It speaks about issues of kind of false advertising or twisted messages and some of it is really appauling. I like how this author uses concrete examples of problems poor design causes such as the ballot incident in the 2000 U.S. presidential election. I think this author makes an impact by presenting real examples of problematic design instead of hypothetical and vague descriptions. Designers really can help influence positive choices if they chose to. I found it interesting to read that all tobacco advertising likely to be viewed by children in Canada is illegal where parents have to filter what their children see in Western societies. Just another example of the positives and negatives of living in different countries. Yeah it's great to be able to make our own decisions but at the same time exposure to things has the power to sway decisions too. It is like a slap in the face to our human civilizations that brag about all our modern advances and such when we are so behind in preserving the earth and our resources that support our modern technology.

Design Activism

The intro and chapter 1 of this book discussed the impact of design and how it influences our societal values as well as our perception of reality. It linked design to capitalism and brought up the issue that nature can't sustain the current standard of living forever. It talked about the idea of sustainable development as an approach to restoring the depleting ecosystems and it maps out ideas for design activists to consider when using design for improving both humankind and nature. Design is basically linked to all the different forms of capital and therefore it is important to understand capital and activism in order to become immersed in potential design solutions. I was amazed at all the different branches of capital that designers have the potential of influencing. I think this book is really helpful because it lays out all the possible opportunity areas where designers can make a difference and create sustainable designs. This book seems like it would be really helpful for design activists because they can so easily see the breakdown of areas where they can focus on making changes and instead of wasting time searching for a cause to support they can simply pick one area and spend more time designing something that will improve life. It is a little scary to think of the time crunch we have to make changes in so many areas before resources become depleted and species become extinct etc. due to the current standard of living humans have created without previously considering the impact of their design decisions.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Social Design

I checked out the sites on the Selected Bibliography and discovered from that Social Design is design for the greater good. The members of Design 21 are from across the world and they collaborate to make positive changes in what they design and create for society. The areas they focus on improving are education, aid, poverty, community, environment, communication, arts & culture, peace and well-being(health). It seems like a really influential site and I think that it is a great idea that they hold design competitions to inspire healthy competition for worth while causes. This site seemed to be on the cutting edge of social design in its goals and its drive to improve society for the future.
Another one of the recommeded websites I checked out was It focuses specifically on the problem of climate change and it has a great slideshow outlining the problem, causes, effects, culprits and how designers can go about being involved. It makes the point of design being such an integral part of our lives and that leaves the designers to start being part of the movement for social change. I like how this site speaks to different groups of designers including students and gives a little advice about how to get involved and make decisions along the line of sustainability.

When I just typed "social design" into google I came up with a large such result and discovered that there are numerous individuals and organizations supporting and becoming involved with social design. I came across Social Design-social & technical consulting which is a designer named Chris Halaska and Jocelyn Hollander, a sociologist, who work together to provide their services for various aspects of social design projects. I included this comment just to mention a few designers involved in the social design cause. Another site I discovered was Social Design Notes. It is a site dedicated to collecting notes on the built environment, graphic design, product design, architecture, the decisions we make, and the impact they have. It's just an example of more people attempting to make searching of social design easier by creating one place in which to find various examples of social design.
I will post more later on my search findings.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

NYT 9/2/09

There were several articles in the paper today that I feel were about social issues. I read Plenty of Data on Sex Offenders, But Registries Are Just a Start, which discussed the case of Phillip Garrido and how registries focus on high risk offenders. There are so many offenders that it is impossible to keep a regular watch on them all and the goal is to one day distinguish which are going to be potential problems in order to keep children and citizens safe. Another article I read that I thought was interesting was Call to Jury Duty Is Striking A New Fear: Financial Ruin. It discussed the various reasons and hardships that citizens are facing and are using as excuses to get out of jury duty. It explained how its been harder to get people for jury duty because of the financial times and how it would be counterproductive to force people to perform their jury duty anyway because it might result in an unfair trial. This is a social issue because we need people for jury duty to have an unbiased opinion yet for some people it is financially not possible. One last article I read and found relevant to current social issues was Taking Big Rish for Big Payoff, Industry Seeks Cancer Drugs. Cancer has become either increasingly common or increasingly identified. Either way the lack of solutions to the numerous different types of cancer is a problem facing society. Pfizer is the world's largest phamaceutical company and they are focusing their efforts on a narrowed population of a particular gene affected in order to approach the world problem of cancer one small step at a time. With so many mutations it is impossible to develop one cure all cancer treatment so this company is hoping to tackle a small, specific population in order to find a feasible cure. There was also a small article on the ever popular issue of health care discussing various possible directions for a bill that was somewhat informative on the current debate.

Designers, Visionaries + Other Stories Intro

I just finished reading the foreward and introduction of Designers, Visionaries + Other Stories. I think this book examines all angles of sustainable design and addresses many key points on the topic. Sustainable design has become increasingly in demand and this book seems to be very direct and up front about how designers should go about being involved and collaborating on all available research. It covers all aspects on the subject including reasons behind the increased demand for sustainable design, the lack of collaboration between designers and researchers(one of the purposes of this book being to have a central resource of available information), the way designers should approach sustainable design and all the criticisms of it in order to make people think. I think it is great that this book covers many unanswered questions about sustainable design as well as posing counterarguments to designers/readers in order to fuel creative juices. It gives direction to the movement of sustainable design. I liked the information in this book so far but I feel that it is a bit wordy at times.