Archive for May, 2007

Picasso is cool too.

May 20, 2007

A lesson in confidence, or perhaps the secret to genius.

I turned on the TV the other day and caught a documentary called “The Mystery of Picasso,” which is largely filmed from the other side of a transparent canvas, behind which the man is painting. You watch the process from a blank canvas to a finished work, as the image is transformed again and again. Accompanying the action is music that is composed to follow the progress of the picture, timed with every brush stroke. Between pieces, you might hear Picasso and the filmmaker chatting briefly.

After one piece is going not as well as he had hoped, Picasso abruptly stops and announces that he is just going to leave it as is. The filmmaker asks innocently if that might be “awkward” for the public. Picasso replies (in translation), “I have never thought about the public. I’m too old to start now. Besides, all I ever wanted to show was the unexpectedness of naked truth.”

We are all dreamers, and creators, but I think it is the freaks of this world, the ones who aren’t afraid to put that truth out there regardless of who’s looking, or listening, that make the world turn. Or at least make it interesting.

Cool new resource for campus sustainability, or Why my family rocks

May 6, 2007

So not too long ago I was browsing my daily inundation of green-themed e-newsletters when I came across this title, “Creating a Campus Sustainability Revolving Loan Fund: A Guide for Students.” I clicked on it, noted it in my brain to look at later, and was about to click away when I noticed that one of the co-authors of the report was my own second cousin, Asa, who is a sophomore at Macalester College.

The guide is written by students for students, drawing from their experience with step-by-step instructions and tips, examples from funds established on other campuses, and appendices detailing the text of their own fund and providing examples of the kinds of projects to be funded. It’s pretty cool stuff, and quite well-written. And no I’m not just saying that because it’s my family. But yes that does make it even cooler.

Highlights from the National Sustainable Design Expo

May 1, 2007

Last week I had the great privilege of exhibiting for my organization at the National Sustainable Design Expo, a two-day event put on by the EPA and featuring their P3 student design competition for People, Prosperity and the Planet. Aside from a number of other exhibitors like me from a number of nonprofit groups, EPA offices, etc, there were forty teams from universities competing for these grant awards in an incredible display of innovative positive solutions to local and global problems. Being the sole person at my display table, I did not have much of a chance to explore, but I did get a chance to talk to some really inspiring young people and hear about the work of their design teams.

I noticed some common themes in the topics chosen by competitors: Over a quarter of the projects dealt directly with issues of clean water access and wastewater treatment, most of which were teaming up with a community where water was scarce and designing an appropriate solution for that community. Several teams focused on green building solutions, either for whole building design or for an aspect such as a green roof or efficient cooling system. Still many others looked at innovative alternative energy sources: biodiesel from algae, ocean wave energy, solar thermal collectors, etc. My personal favorite? UVA’s Learning Barge: an off-the-grid, floating field station that creates its own energy, filters its own greywater, and educates in estuarine habitat restoration.