Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Great Online Tools for Writing and Learning

Writing has played a big part in my life. Over the years I've made great efforts to develop my writing skills. I used to write convoluted passages, but I came to identify that that was a ploy to mask information I lacked on subjects I wrote about. Graduate school was particularly instructive for seeing how my writing would be ingested by my audience. I was then able to identify convolutions to develop further. I am still very much working to improve my writing skills, and have been grateful for individuals and resources that have helped me to do this.

Grammarly asked me to place this infographic on my blog. I volunteered to be a Khan Academy ambassador, and am very happy to promote resources like Khan Academy and Grammarly that provide the skills for people to excel in their lives. By posting this, Grammarly will donate $20 to Reading is Fundamental, a charity that promotes literacy. So, check out Grammarly, and donate to Reading is Fundamental.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Barcelona's Urban Planning Successes: Learning from Aaron Betsky

There are a lot of brilliant ideas being employed both in the study and practice of city development. Jeff Mulgan and Tom Saunders are doing great things in China, and Boyd Cohen is developing important methodologies to view and rank smart cities throughout the world. Aaron Betsky’s article, entitled ‘Barcelona Keeps Getting Better’, details innovations the city has made to urban planning, and is another important one.
In his article, Betsky identified key components to Barcelona’s success. Whilst working on a project in Rijeka, Croatia, I discovered how bad collaborations can stifle, or even distinguish important projects. The author found that functional collaborations through the association of architecture allowed the city to ‘bundle parks with transportation, community facilities, and roads.’

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Building to Enhance the People: Lessons from Sao Paulo’s Favelas

Between the years 2003 and 2005 I lived in several slums in Sao Paulo, Brazil. My purpose for being there was to serve in a humanitarian capacity. I arrived a naïve American teenager set on showing the Brazilians how to live. The lessons I learned over the span of these two years not only taught me much about life in informal communities, but changed the course of my life. I quickly realized these communities had their own cultures, values, and systems of self-governance and self-reliance. I will detail further how these lessons instruct about approaches to architecture and planning.

Friday, November 14, 2014

How Kim Kardashian Encouraged the Catcall

What a tremendous contradiction! The Economist explores the idea of legislating to eliminate catcalls, and Kim Kardashian's bare flesh rounds every newspaper, TV program and social media outlet. The broad image that seems to emerge is people want hyper-sexualized lives, but they don't want the consequences of them. Unfortunately, in the same way that defaulting on your mortgage results in foreclosing your house, when entertainment sources instruct hyper-sexualized behavior, viewers learn those actions, and emulate them.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Photos of informal architecture in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Lindsay was going through boxes of family photos at my parent's house, and was excited to pull out some pictures of where I lived in Sao Paulo, Brazil, as an LDS missionary in 2003. I wanted to place them here as they are relevant to many of my studies in vernacular architecture, urban studies, international development, and Latin American Studies. This was an experience that gave me consciousness of the world's developing areas, and set a new life course to understand what I had seen, and how I can make positive contributions to it. This is Castro Alves in the Grajau/Interlagos area of Sao Paulo.

Rooftop of our flat

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Along with the Capability Approach, Kindness

One thing the discipline of development studies sparsely treats is kindness. Normative ethics would say that kindness is not just a tendency, but a character trait. This means kind actions and words are a disposition rather than actions or words chosen at given times. With this understanding kindness is in an individual's fabric, and not just the conscious considerations they take. Because a person has the disposition of kindness does not mean that it cannot be developed further in someone not characterized as such, thus becoming a characteristic of that person as well.To develop this idea further, kindness will be put into the sphere of parenthood.

It would probably be a somewhat reasonable demand that developers of the developing world to first have the experience of rearing their own child, in whichever of the various ways that can be accomplished,  before they achieve stewardship of someone else's. Whilst it is true that individuals ingest events very differently from one another, it is also true that a much different understanding of love is gained through parenting a child. If you don't love the people whom you seek to aid you have no business being in their lives. Parenthood offers love, furthermore, that seeks nothing for itself. Love is expressed in various ways though, and everyone can attest that love is not always kind.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Interior of the Barton House in Shutford, Oxfordshire

I snapped some photos of the interior of the Barton House, the barn conversion we're staying at in the village of Shutford, Oxfordshire.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Personal and Institutional Submission: A Spiritual Perspective

Welfare states infantlize people. Public initiative is put away as individuals are left to do things within their own spheres of influence. What this means is social interactions carry greater significance as attention is placed on sports teams, celebrities, music, movies, etc. As attention is placed on these objects, individuals use them to identify and separate themselves.

Whilst this can be seen as a smokescreen from pressing political, economic, and social issues affecting society, there is an appropriate application for the concept of dependency.

Shutford, Oxfordshire

My in-laws arrived in England, and we rented a barn conversion in the village of Shutford, outside of Banbury, in Oxfordshire. It is an idyllic and surreal place. I took Wynnie out for a walk with the family, and we saw the sheep, ponies, and thatched roofs and vernacular architecture. 

Our rented barn conversion

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Wynnie the Pooh

So excited to begin a new adventure with this lovely little lady, and the always lovely Lindsay Lee. Welcome to this world Wynnie Maguire Watson, we're excited to show you how incredible life can be!