creativemornings
creativemornings:

The high demand for diamonds is a product of the very successful marketing strategy by DeBeers which began in the 1940′s. Diamonds have become prized for their hardness and their light-refracting ability, which makes them sparkly and beautiful, but there are plenty of other gems that are scarcer than diamonds. 
This ad was the product of one of Carson Ting's many successful campaigns during his time at Rethink Canada. You can watch his CreativeMornings/Vancouver talk here. →

creativemornings:

The high demand for diamonds is a product of the very successful marketing strategy by DeBeers which began in the 1940′s. Diamonds have become prized for their hardness and their light-refracting ability, which makes them sparkly and beautiful, but there are plenty of other gems that are scarcer than diamonds.

This ad was the product of one of Carson Ting's many successful campaigns during his time at Rethink Canada. You can watch his CreativeMornings/Vancouver talk here. →

Five ways parenting is like researching the informal economyThere are things in life that you simply cannot learn by taking a class.For example, how to map an informal neighborhood unrecognised by a local government.

Or how to distinguish when a baby is crying out of hunger, exhaustion or the need to be entertained.As a design researcher focusing on emerging systems of cities, I recently realised that learning how informal economies and babies operate is in that very group of things you just have to figure out for yourself. Or in the words of the legendary choreographer Merce Cunningham, ‘The only way to do it is to do it.’In South London, I mapped how immigrants reformulated storefronts into mini street markets. In Mumbai, I designed card games and postcards to include street cleaners and fishermen in the urban planning process. And most recently in Kuwait, I documented informal housing for undocumented workers. All of these projects required paying attention to my surroundings, constantly iterating approaches to collecting information and engaging people, and all the while exercising tremendous patience for the process. It turns out these projects were a good primer for parenting.As a first-time mom of a nine-week old human being, I was invited to give a talk on design research methods for informal economies at the School for Visual Arts  (taught by some the creators of Makeshift Magazine). In a time and sleep crunched state preparing my slides, I began thinking how parenting resembles researching the informal economy. So here, in an expanded version of the first slide of my talk,  are five ways that the subject areas cross over:1. Early starts and late nightsInformal markets and newborns open early and work late. They both run on 24 hour schedules and you need to be present throughout to understand their daily rhythms.2. Balancing romance and scienceTheories of economic development and child development can be useful frames of reference. Falling in love with your subject matter can also be helpful. Without a deep love for your subject or outside reference points,  research and rearing can get confusing and exhausting. 3. Everything is temporaryYou spend one day mapping trading patterns at a street market and you think you’ve got it all figured out. The next time you return, new construction, new vendor alliances, or a new immigrant group has shifted the spatial dynamic you once understood. Same with baby. What soothes, captivates or distracts is very rarely the same from one day to the next.4. Something so pervasive is yet so mysterious Both researching informality and parenting are like joining the world’s largest underground-overground network. Informal trade shapes everything we touch - from the food we eat to the technology we use, yet until we explicitly set off to study informal markets, they remain invisible. In a similar vein, parents and kids are all around us, yet until we become the former, it’s difficult to generate a fine tuned empathy or awareness of the social conventions, services and spaces conducive to caring for your charge. Just as I learned to decipher the three informal businesses being run from the 2nd story of a McDonald’s in London, I can now name the make/model of any baby carrier from across the street.5. It’s okay to be paranoid Both informality and babies can inspire healthy doses paranoia. It’s okay. It’s only human to be protective of your offspring and your livelihood, especially when both are in constant states of emergence and growth.

Five ways parenting is like researching the informal economy

There are things in life that you simply cannot learn by taking a class.

For example, how to map an informal neighborhood unrecognised by a local government.


Or how to distinguish when a baby is crying out of hunger, exhaustion or the need to be entertained.

As a design researcher focusing on emerging systems of cities, I recently realised that learning how informal economies and babies operate is in that very group of things you just have to figure out for yourself. Or in the words of the legendary choreographer Merce Cunningham, ‘The only way to do it is to do it.’

In South London, I mapped how immigrants reformulated storefronts into mini street markets. In Mumbai, I designed card games and postcards to include street cleaners and fishermen in the urban planning process. And most recently in Kuwait, I documented informal housing for undocumented workers.

All of these projects required paying attention to my surroundings, constantly iterating approaches to collecting information and engaging people, and all the while exercising tremendous patience for the process. It turns out these projects were a good primer for parenting.

As a first-time mom of a nine-week old human being, I was invited to give a talk on design research methods for informal economies at the School for Visual Arts  (taught by some the creators of Makeshift Magazine). In a time and sleep crunched state preparing my slides, I began thinking how parenting resembles researching the informal economy.

So here, in an expanded version of the first slide of my talk,  are five ways that the subject areas cross over:

1. Early starts and late nights
Informal markets and newborns open early and work late. They both run on 24 hour schedules and you need to be present throughout to understand their daily rhythms.

2. Balancing romance and science
Theories of economic development and child development can be useful frames of reference. Falling in love with your subject matter can also be helpful. Without a deep love for your subject or outside reference points,  research and rearing can get confusing and exhausting.

3. Everything is temporary
You spend one day mapping trading patterns at a street market and you think you’ve got it all figured out. The next time you return, new construction, new vendor alliances, or a new immigrant group has shifted the spatial dynamic you once understood. Same with baby. What soothes, captivates or distracts is very rarely the same from one day to the next.

4. Something so pervasive is yet so mysterious
Both researching informality and parenting are like joining the world’s largest underground-overground network. Informal trade shapes everything we touch - from the food we eat to the technology we use, yet until we explicitly set off to study informal markets, they remain invisible. In a similar vein, parents and kids are all around us, yet until we become the former, it’s difficult to generate a fine tuned empathy or awareness of the social conventions, services and spaces conducive to caring for your charge. Just as I learned to decipher the three informal businesses being run from the 2nd story of a McDonald’s in London, I can now name the make/model of any baby carrier from across the street.

5. It’s okay to be paranoid
Both informality and babies can inspire healthy doses paranoia. It’s okay. It’s only human to be protective of your offspring and your livelihood, especially when both are in constant states of emergence and growth.

creativemornings
creativemornings:

"In the end.. it’s love and it’s work—what else could there possibly be?"
—Maira Kalman

Read more about Maira Kalman over on The Reconstructionists, a collaboration between illustrator Lisa Congdon and writer Maria Popova. The Reconstructionists is a yearlong celebration of remarkable women—beloved artists, writers, and scientists, as well as notable unsung heroes—who have changed the way we define ourselves as a culture and live our lives as individuals of any gender.

Find out more about the project here. →

creativemornings:

"In the end.. it’s love and it’s work—what else could there possibly be?"
—Maira Kalman

Read more about Maira Kalman over on The Reconstructionists, a collaboration between illustrator Lisa Congdon and writer Maria Popova. The Reconstructionists is a yearlong celebration of remarkable women—beloved artists, writers, and scientists, as well as notable unsung heroes—who have changed the way we define ourselves as a culture and live our lives as individuals of any gender.

Find out more about the project here.

urbanfunscape
urbanfunscape:

Homelessness is a growing problem across Europe and finding new and effective ways to combat social exclusion and help the homeless is becoming increasingly difficult. Malka Architecture, France, have found a way to attract much needed attention towards the growing problem of homelessness whilst at the same time providing shelter for those who need it.

Read more: http://popupcity.net/a-vertical-campsite-for-the-homeless/#ixzz2m3CAq4CC 
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Non-Commercial

Vertical spatial occupation by the homeless.

urbanfunscape:

Homelessness is a growing problem across Europe and finding new and effective ways to combat social exclusion and help the homeless is becoming increasingly difficult. Malka Architecture, France, have found a way to attract much needed attention towards the growing problem of homelessness whilst at the same time providing shelter for those who need it.

Read more: http://popupcity.net/a-vertical-campsite-for-the-homeless/#ixzz2m3CAq4CC
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Non-Commercial

Vertical spatial occupation by the homeless.

Power in the City

I couldn’t help but wonder…

Are recovering private-sector drop outs who suddenly crush hard on social good a new class of bi-curious bourgeoisie?

Is the ex-banker turned innovator-for-the-poor the new Birkin of urban beings?

Within one former industrial building as my case study, an evening’s planned meeting and chance encounter revealed the class stratification of soul-searching social goodniks and grounded go getters.

Spoiler alert: one of these classes requires a curated co-working community and one does not.

image

(From Production to Over-Consumption: Re-purposed freight elevator door turned cheese-platter bitch.)

Case A.
5:15 to 6pm
The Center for Social Innovation 
[Where everyone you talk to who works here tells you how ‘great’ everyone else is who works here (e.g. ‘Oh you know Mila? She’s so great, right?)]
Third Floor of the Starr-Lehigh Building

A blind date gone boring.
I am set up to meet with a former London based fashion trend caster who is now spirited to do ‘social good.’ (Why Allah? Why do people think I am the fairy godmother for over-pedigreed late-20-somethings panting about changing society, but with no sense that it requires more than talking about it over coffee?)

So here we are. Lily and me. In an oversized glass conference room on aluminium stools hunched over an elevator door cum table. In this landscape of Macbook Airs, we are surrounded by material artefacts built for heavy lifting. Under-utilised resources abound.

She pleas her case…

Lily:  I worked in fashion for five years. I had my dream job. Then I moved to New York because of my husband’s job. Now I want to do something more meaningful. I’ve applied for a few jobs and have been researching different non-profit organizations. In the meantime, I am volunteering here one day a week.

Me: What do you do here?

Lily: I help people figure out the printer. I take care of the communal kitchen. We have salad Thursdays, where we order a lot of lettuce and then everyone brings in their own toppings. I also empower people to make their own coffee.

Me: You mean, you show people how to use the espresso machine?

Lily: Yeah.

The rest of the conversation I will summarise as Lily telling me about how she has been transferring her deep longing to make a difference in the world into a variety of Google searches. I then tell her that she needs to identify what concrete skills she has to offer her potential employer, as non-profits and social enterprises tend not to hire people solely on their inclination to not intentionally be assholes. She thanks me profusely for my advice, and I wonder how much I should be charging for this service.

image

(West Side Highway overlooking Pier 25)

Case B.
6 - 7:15pm
Lobby of the Starr-Lehigh Building

It is raining out. I have no umbrella. I am 6 months pregnant.
I decide to wait it out in the lobby. I find a seat on a window ledge next to a powerful looking man in a black suit and a large studded name plate necklace that reads ‘MEGA.’ I like him instantly.  

So here we are. Mega and me. I watch him as he watches everything. A woman across the lobby drops a business card from her pocket and he dashes to her feet to pick it up. He observes catering provisions and fashion-week fans as they get clearance from the concierge to join a party. He is body guarding a celebrity on shoot in the building. He is working the room, making sure nothing suspect transpires.

We chat…

Mega: I got started in this business on a night like tonight, about 15 years ago. I had just gotten out of rehab and I needed a job. The only work I had done was as a bouncer.  I wanted to get out of that scene. Too many drugs and fights. I had a meeting with someone in construction. But it was raining so hard that he didn’t show. I didn’t know what to do, so I just started to walk. I walked in the rain up the West Side Highway. I kept walking until I stumbled onto this movie shoot. I started knocking on trailers asking for work. Finally, someone said yes. They were short a security guard that day and I started working right away. 

Me: So you specialise in protecting movie shoots?

Mega: Yeah, I do movies, commercials, events. I realised that it was something I was really good at. Since I was little, I paid attention to everything. I used to memorise licence plate numbers for fun.  

Me: And now you made your own business out of it.

Mega: Yeah. I like what I do. I have 10-25 guys working for me at any time. I’ve got shoots all over this city.

As Mega tells me about awkward moments minding the likes of Jennifer Lawrence and Will Smith, I am thinking, ‘where were you an hour ago when I was upstairs in the innovation bowl?’ 

Mega’s empowerment could not have been any farther from the DIY macchiato variety.

His success began with going outside. Absent were the curated meet-ups, participatory lunches, and communal high-end appliances. His enterprising path was the city itself.  He took a walk and a risk, self-assessed his skills and natural inclinations, and then applied and eventually scaled what he was good at. 

If only all the freight elevators had not been converted into furniture, perhaps there would have been a way to deliver his gravitas up to the third floor.