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Showing posts from May, 2012

Israel/Palestine: Day 3-4

May 21st, Monday: Day 3

Today was our first day meeting with different peace and justice groups in Palestine.  At this point I should explain that our trip is following what's known as an "alternative" or "authentic tourism" itinerary - we're making a point of staying in the West Bank and meeting with locals, rather than following the "standard" itinerary that stays only in Israel and sees only the holy sites.  We met with two groups today, ARIJ (Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem) and the ICB (International Center of Bethlehem, part of the Diyar consortium).  We started the day at ARIJ by attending a lecture/discussion session with one of the representatives, together with a Canadian group that was there.  (You can view a presentation similar to the one that we saw here.)  This session covered the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in detail from a Palestinian viewpoint, and challenged us to take these facts back to the US, since the…

Israel/Palestine: Day 2

Today, Sunday, was our first full day here, and we took it pretty easy but still saw some awesome things.  We started the day by walking down to the Church of the Nativity to take a look while the morning service was going on.  We'll be back there later so I'll post pictures of it then.  Then we attended the service at the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church (aka Christmas Lutheran), where the service was presided over by three bishops - the local one and two visitors from Canada!  The church was nearly full, with more than 50% tourists, including our group and another from Washington, DC.  The service was mostly in Arabic with some English (provided by the visiting Canadian Episcopal bishops).  Afterward we met some of the locals at coffee hour and looked at the church facilities, which are very nice, especially knowing the struggle it took to build them and re-build them following the Second Intifada when Israeli retribution attacks destroyed much of what was newly built …

Israel/Palestine Day 1

Hi friends,

We arrived safe and sound in Bethlehem this evening after flying in to Tel Aviv and transferring by tour bus from there, skirting around Jerusalem.  Israel is the only country, other than the US, that I've flown into that requires additional screening before boarding the plane - I guess they tie for the "paranoid about security" award!  Everything since then has been surprisingly easy, though, including going through customs and passing the checkpoint into the West Bank to Bethlehem.  There was a line of cars waiting to get back in to Israel, though.  The biggest difficulty I've encountered has been figuring out how to fix Blogger, since it defaulted to Arabic when I got here (it recognizes the Palestinian Territories address) which made it impossible for me to read the menu options to figure out how to put it back to English.  Eventually, after trying all the buttons, I fixed it, so I can now write you this post!  We arrived here at dinnertime, and afte…

Israel/Palestine Introduction

Dear friends,

Tonight I leave for a peacemaking trip to Israel/Palestine, led by Craig Hunter, pastor at the Trinity Presbyterian Church of Denton, TX (  We will be visiting several towns in the West Bank, including Bethlehem, as well as Nazareth and Jerusalem, and then several of us will be heading over to Jordan to visit Petra.  I plan to post my reflections and photos here as I can, and please feel free to comment on the posts if you'd like to respond!  Thanks for your well-wishes and prayers, and I can't wait to start sharing our trip with you!

In the meantime, here's a before and after picture of my recent haircut, from which I was able to donate 13" of hair to Locks of Love:

C-BIP Studio Part III

(The final post in a three-part discussion of the Columbia Building Intelligence Project.  See my other posts: Part I and Part II.)

In this final post, I'd like to propose some ideas about what could make C-BIP better if the studio continued, and to share some of our final output.

As I wrote last time, I thought that the two-part development of the studio had some major flaws.  Not allowing students to re-use their own elements in the building strategies meant that some of us tried to adapt similar elements designed by others to align with our goals, thereby distorting the elements to an unworkable extent.  Alternatively, some groups designed "modules" composed of several elements together that could be plugged in to their buildings as independent units, thereby avoiding the problem of how to adapt elements to buildings.  I think every group had to choose a limited set of problems to solve, because the studio proposed so many different issues: workflow/cooperative desig…

C-BIP Studio Part II

(A continuation of thoughts about the Columbia Building Intelligence Project - see my earlier post for more commentary.)

C-BIP Studio has now ended, and we're working on our final exhibition materials (more to come).  So now I'd like to look back on how the second half of the semester went.  In this post I want to get into more detail about the actual structure and methodology of the studio.  As I said before, I think the studio had really interesting goals and an environmental ethic that matched up well with current thought in architecture and planning.  The workflow proposed to achieve these goals, however, I found much less convincing, and in fact I think the studio "system" was poorly designed.  In the language of our critics, the design of the studio workflow was a "missed opportunity" to achieve some really interesting results.

To briefly summarize the mandated workflow, in the first half of the semester we were asked to design parametric building &q…

Happy Spring!

Most of the flowers are done blooming around here - except for my Hoya carnosa, or wax plant, of the "Krinkle Kurl" variety (also known, apparently, as "Hindu Rope"):


This is the first time I've seen this plant in bloom, and it's really cute - the flowers are fuzzy!

Happy Spring!  Regular posts will return shortly - finals are almost over.