Thursday, September 10, 2009

Photograph Your Guerilla Project

Many guerilla tactics are temporary so photograph your guerilla tactic in situ.
Post on your blog. Document your process/progress as well.

Give aesthetic consideration to your guerilla install/tactic. Anita has a great idea that I can image would be just lovely when first installed. Think color, materials, design....etc.

Sketch. add color. Sketch the guerilla tactic in situ.
Design It! from start to finish.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Listen! Pay Attention.

I continue to be surprised when my students do not know what public radio is and they are not familiar with the local stations WYPR in Baltimore and WAMU in DC. Once you get comfortable with the local stations, start streaming public radios stations from the more diverse and forward-thinking cities in our country. A telling statement came from one of my students a
Link number of years go in response to the integration of ethical issues into the art and design courses I teach. I designed an assignment on the issue of Blood Diamonds. We watched The History Channel's documentary together because of its horrific and blunt content. I put together and gave students lists of references for further research/learning: projects designed around the issue, websites, other documentaries and movies, and of course books. Part way through the project this student who I had assessed as being a "good" student said out loud in class, "How did I not know this was happening?" How indeed I thought to myself. I replied, "Where do you get your news? What are you reading?"

This memory indelibly lodged in my mind, came to the fore this morning as I sipped coffee standing in my kitchen, listening to WYPR. Sheila Kast hosted Bill Barry, the
Director of Labor Studies at the Community College of Baltimore County's Dundalk Campus. He talked about the origins--and the future--of Labor Day and the labor movement. I am not an expert on labor history but found this interesting. The modern work week was based on an 8-hour workday so that people could have balanced lives: spend time with their families and friends, participate in civic and religious entities, and have a healthy, balanced life. Makes sense. We know that balanced people make better decisions- big and small- when they are balanced. When did we lose this as a national value? I was educated with a liberal arts undergraduate degree and teach in a liberal arts educational system. Our society will function best if we grow well-rounded, balanced citizens. I encourage you to visit the WYPR website and listen to the re-play of today’s conversation. Be informed.

This story also reminded me of the social design course I teach. On Thursday we had our first class brainstorming session in response to the question, "Before we begin to do our research in this course, what do you see as the social issues of the day?" I love this course. Students love this course. I couldn't shut them up- these students had so many ideas, opinions, thoughts about what is going on in our society today. Work is one factor. People are working too much.

Bill Barry closed with the following ideas and imperatives. "Get up, get out, get angry, get organized." This is the history of America, or it was. "What is a little law to a big bank?" This is especially apropos on the heels of multiple events such as the Bernie Madoff scheme and the failure of many people at the SEC[!] Enron, Wallstreet, etc, etc. Businesses, and the the bigger the business the more prevalent the attitude, willingly, knowingly break the law and pay the penalty because it still comes out in their favor. Why have laws if the predominant attitude from the biggest and the most powerful is to ignore them and as a society we accept and tolerate this? Are we really surprised where we are as a society? Really? And finally, as Woodie Guthrie said,
"Take it easy, but take it."

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Be Informed

I saw a great exposé on the largely unregulated debt collection business in this country and the illegal tactics used to scare people. Check this out. One debt collection business profiled was owned by an individual with a felony record whose employees impersonated police officers and bullied in some cases innocent citizens. It amazes me [still] how much poor behavior is permitted in our civil, democratic society. How far Main Street has fallen. Be informed. I don't want to live in a bully culture, so you? Stand up for the country you want.Link

Amazing Story of Courage- Women's Rights in Pakistan

Muhktar Mai, a Pakistani woman, is bravely standing up for basic human rights for women in Pakistan and she is making a difference.
Check out this story. Nicholas Kristof [NY Times columnist, Pulitzer Prize winner] and Sheryl WuDun [Pulitzer prize winner] have a new book coming out this week: Half the Sky about discrimination against women. They dedicate a chapter to Muhktar Mai. Hear an excerpt here.

Respectful Relationships

Check out Rick Steves' travel show on Iran. His closing statements [below] struck me as relevant to this course. He raised the issue of the tensions between Iran and America and pointed to governing emotions such as fear and strategies such as understanding.
Click here for a link to Steves' site with multiple links to various things: slideshow, travel journal, homepage, etc.

Steves' Closing Statements:

"I left Iran struck more by what we have in common than by our differences. Most Iranians, like most Americans, couldn't care less about politics. They simply want a good, safe life for their loved ones. Just like my country, Iran has one dominant ethnic group and religion that's struggling with issues of diversity and change—liberal versus conservative, modern versus traditional, secular versus religious. As in my own hometown, people of great faith are suspicious of people of no faith or a different faith. Both societies seek a defense against the onslaught of modern materialism that threatens their traditional "family values." Both societies are suspicious of each other, and both are especially suspicious of each other's government.

My hope is that the TV show we produced (along with this journal) will help promote understanding between our two countries. When we travel—whether to an "Axis of Evil" country, or just to a place where people yodel when they're happy, or fight bulls to impress the girls, or can't serve breakfast until today's croissants arrive—we enrich our lives and better understand our place on this planet. People-to-people connections reduce fear and mistrust. We learn that we can disagree and still coexist peacefully.

Granted, there's no easy solution, but surely getting to know Iranian culture is a step in the right direction. Hopefully, even the most skeptical will appreciate the humanity of 70 million Iranian people. Our political leaders sometimes make us forget that all of us on this small planet are equally precious children of God. Having been to Iran, I feel this more strongly than ever. If this all sounds too idealistic, or even naive...try coming to Iran and meeting these people face-to-face.

Happy travels...and, as they say in Iran, 'May peace be upon us.' "