Architecture for Humanity

My heroes.

[Thanks to IIAD for creating this video that gives so much insight on their 2010 Pioneers in Design Award winner, Architecture for Humanity.]

Illumi-Charger

I admit, I’m guilty of it.  I leave my laptop, iPhone and other gadget chargers synced into the wall at ALL times.   I know I’m wasting energy, it’s just so darn convenient!  Well, hopefully we can say good by to those phantom electric charges with the clever new Illumi-Charger.  The charger uses solar power to provide you with off-grid power to fuel your gadgets.  An award recipient at this years Greener Gadgets competition, I hope to see this product on the shelves (and with a typical wall outlet option) soon!

Tulane City Center

Since Katrina there has been an influx of creative minds and generous donations to the city of New Orleans.  The Tulane School of Architecture has utilized the countries re-kindled love of their hometown to finance several design build projects.  With encouragement and support from the faculty, these projects are led and executed by students at both the graduate and undergraduate level.  Through the City Center and UrbanBuild programs, Tulane School of archtecture has created an impressive portfolio of built works and created a Design+Build culture that applicants and magazines are noticing.

Though the several completed houses are innovative and beautiful, I was particularly enthralled my past visit with the Hollygrove Growers Pavilion.  What started with a raised garden on an abandoned parking lot has developed into a beautiful market and a source of income for the surrounding neighborhood.  The farmers, typically professional during the week and volunteer on the weekend, have managed to produce an wide variety of veggies in the heart of New Orleans.  For only $25 market goers can fill their box or bag brought from home with a weeks worth of in-season, locally grown goods.  The pavilion (pictured above) was designed and built by Tulane architecture students.  Much more than a tool shed, the pavilion serves to educate the community on rain water collection and green design practices.  As of the end of 2009, the market was only open on Saturdays.  Judging by the demand, I’m expecting expanded hours soon!

4 potatos, 2 squash, six oranges, a head of lettuce... so many great local goodies!

happy girl with her veggies!

For hours, events, and location, visit the markets official website.

Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver is determined to transform the way we feed our children!  Such a powerful and needed mission, Oliver was recently awarded the TED prize for his work and gave the above presentation of his ‘One Wish to Change the World.’ What is his wish exactly:

“I wish for your help to create a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity.”

Moving to West Virginia to tackle the problem first-hand, Oliver has generated the perfect case study for change.  In the above video he highlights his work to date.  The accounts are eye-opening though I particularly appreciate the steps he has taken towards solving the problem that seem realistic for any school to incorporate: 2- 1hour sessions in classes, demanding better foods in schools.

Oliver also praises a few ‘angels’ that are already pioneering change.  Though he doesn’t mention them all directly, we have been impressed by a few programs:

The Edible School Yard

Tulane City Center Hollygrove Growers Pavillion and Shade Units

Food Inc. partner Hungry for Change

You can learn more about Jamie Oliver’s wish here.

Delivered in Beta

This video provides a wonderful commentary on working collaboratively and releasing our ideas/concepts/and prototypes to the people who need them before they are perfect– because they never are.

Working in this way reminds me immediately of the innovative work produced by International Design Clinic.  Created by groups of students and professionals, projects executed by the IDC  are deployed in communities in need and are assumed to be version 1.0.  The succeeding 2.0, 3.0, etc. occur as communities take in our work, accept our designs, and then evolve them into something more efficient and personally meaningful.

So start sharing!  Be Creative!  And get Excited!

Trash Talk

I’m on the downtown improvement board where I live and trying to encourage some sustainable decisions that will make living green just a little easier.  One pretty obvious idea: make recycling accessible to everyone!  It makes me cringe to see the large public cans overflowing with cardboard, paper, and water bottles.  So we just need to tell the city to grab some bins and leave them on the corners… Sounds easy enough, right?  Sure, if we wanted the bins to be rained on, get taken by the next morning and clutter the pedestrian corners.   I’m looking for a better solution.  A pretty and well designed solution.  I have found a few from landscapeforms (pictured), though I want to hear from you all on this one:

What creative ways has your city promoted sustainable recycling or trash managment?


Moving Windmills: The William Kamkwamba Story

If you are ever stuck thinking that you don’t have the tools or resources to be innovative, think again!   At the age of 14, Malawian William Kamkwamba Malawan created a functioning wind turbine after merely seeing an image of one!  Inspired by the dream of providing his family with electricity and a water pump, William’s story is incredible, inspiring, and has almost brought me to tears this evening.  Enjoy the video, and when you realize you must know more of this fascinating story, buy the book here.