Friday, September 30, 2011

A Look Back Before a Look Forward (Weds/Friday Week 2)

So at the beginning of week two, my group had a line up of Dylan, Erika, Lauren, Garrett, Ted, Justin, and I. Justin was our returner, and the project we received was Water, Folding, & Hourly. At this point in time, the project we had received from the week prior had been purely an outdoor index of how much water was being used indoors. Pockets with the ability to fold and unfold would be filled with rainwater from a cistern as applied to how much was being used in the house on an hourly basis.

Bottom line, a high value problem was not being tackled with this project, and we needed to change that. Thus, on Wednesday evening our group got together and began a massive brainstorm. Three hours or more finally ended. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that white boards are really useful things. Only once during the entire process did we actually draw something; the rest of the time was pure thoughts. Not once did we pick up materials to make something. We did end up gleaning a few things along the way, which is good. So here is what we initially figured out:

What we'd keep: Folding pockets, an index of some kind, and repeating forms
Two primary uses for water: filter for reuse or use to grow plants

We also had quite a few inspiration photos of uses being thrown around, but we kept having tangents and debates, and all in all efficiency was pretty much nil. The defining moment came when we decided that it would be wisest to grow plants, and that to save space it should be in a vertical format. This was the moment when the white board came out and Ted drew something on the white board. It was a green wall. I balked. I not so subtly informed the group that if we made just a green wall, that looked like the rectangle thing Ted had drawn, I'd be really upset. Then I continued to inform them that we should not, COULD NOT, do that. I got stares from around the table, and then a slight eruption occurred as people could not understand my reaction.

It was then that words failed me. For the life of me, I had the greatest trouble in the world articulating what bothered me so greatly about it. Erika pushed me to explain, and I tried, and quite frankly failed. As soon as I figured it out, I would let everyone know what my problem was with this thing. At this point, I just knew that every time I looked at that drawing I winced.

Later that evening, Erika and Garrett stuck around, and I was able to figure it out. First, while I'm no opposer of modern looks, to me, many green walls look like science experiments tossed onto a wall. It feels cold, impersonal, and planned instead of comforting, welcoming, and organic. Part of the difference was the idea of a rigid grid composed of squares, like growing plants is a math equation. Second, green walls have been done before. What in the world were we offering new to the project, if anything? Couldn't the form at least be something different?

Realistically, this was an important step in this class for me. Sometimes I'm really bad at explaining what I think and why it's important. This was a step up: I HAD to articulate myself, or my voice wouldn't/couldn't be heard and my ideas would not be valid. So regardless of how much time I'd spent doing virtually nothing, the evening was a success in that I realized an area of improvement that I need to work on.

Over the next two days, our group met in two sets separately with the vow that neither group would try to make decisions without everyone else. I met with the second group, which had the liaison of Garrett to explain to Dylan and I what we had missed from the other group. This was a productive meeting. White boards were used, and AGAIN I got challenged to articulate myself better. Dylan slammed me with the fact that I had resorted to using the word "like" in between a majority of my words. I had eliminated the use of that darn word from my vocabulary sufficiently a few semesters back, but over summer it crept back into my speech. Another thing to work on as I try to articulate myself. So we dissected what the other half of us had done, decided what we would jointly state at the next meeting (Sunday) and then departed.

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