Tuesday, June 22, 2010

....it is not constant

Dear Reader,

I feel my life will change dramatically this year. It's difficult to describe, but I've already taken action is so many areas- pursuit of my landscape architecture degree, a recent visit to Zurich, Switzerland for an interview in Gunther Vogt's office, and now I will be spending most of my summer researching on climate change, improving my graphic skills, and locating a project site for next term. I've yet to find one and really can't decide between north-eastern Europe and Asia. This year is going to be exhausting and challenging! Also, I've been itching to improve in other hobbies- singing (yes I know, but really I've always wanted to try hahaha), learning how to play the guitar (again), and modeling. I'm not particularly gifted in any of these. I just find that they balance my life so well when I spend time on them. Thankfully though, I wouldn't find enjoyment in these hobbies without my purpose for being in the UK- to get my second degree in Landscape Architecture, to one day teach, and become a stronger, more active professional. To reflect on all these developments so far, I've experienced a new understanding of the words "Change", "Consistency", and "Identity".

Speaking of being more professional, I have a new addition to my summer reading list- The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action by Donald A. Schon. I was reminded to borrow this from the ECA library when I was re-reading the comments my studio professor wrote when she finished grading my performance. She noted that I should try to relax and observe the world around me....to breathe, meditate, and not work so hard all the time....and by doing so, naturally this new input will make an impression on my ability to improve my designs. Landscape is very different from architecture. Yet, I find this advice would have been helpful when I was at USC. Maybe my designs wouldn't have looked so Brutalistic. In the end of my first year, I didn't have the grade I had expected, despite all my hard work. It was quite lower. I would have argued against it, but something in my gut told me to suspend my actions and LISTEN. I'm ok at understanding what people tell me, but I have a difficult time heeding advice. If it doesn't suit me, or function with my plans, it's quite difficult to swallow. I know this happens to the best of us; I guess it's been a while since I've had such precise (in some areas), and (in others) strangely vague, constructive criticism....

After a few hours of reading The Reflective Practitioner, I've realized that I don't want to return it after my three-day loan period. I'll have to buy a copy. Thinking about my professor's comments, I felt sheepish of my initial reaction to be defensive (and at times offensive). I'm glad I didn't do anything about it. This book fully explains the ambiguities of her writing. I think I have, indeed, been unaware of the tremendous responsibility I have as a new professional and future instructor to take time out of my "industrious" and "hard-working" vacuum, away from honing my graphic and technical skills which will soon become obsolete anyway, so I could rightfully spend my time building up my foundations. Learning how to learn, how to think, how to observe the "now". What's going on in the world today? What are its problems? What advances have been made in fields beside my own that are currently affecting global issues? How do I respond to it? What role do I play?? What messes are out there that I play a part in managing? We are not disconnected and the world is not constant. I'm no longer considered a professional if I'm not up to date with an understanding of my field. Again, I felt naive to put more time in "seductive" graphics.

As a final thought, I truly feel my interests in design are slowly shifting. They still respond to issues of global warming and hands-on practice/technique; However, I've come to experience that after reading a few articles listed in my previous post and today's book, that learning Rhino and another tool in AutoCAD or Sketchup is less significant than understanding how, when, and why I do what I do. How do we accept that global warming is all part of a cycle? What sort of research and practice can be done to adapt to these changes? When will research catch up with technology, and when will the construction industry catch up? Why am I getting a post-graduate degree? For me, it's important to do my best not lead the client, the construction team, all the consultants, and even my contemporaries down well-worn paths when I know the world never truly stays still. However, with all things considered, I could never call myself a professional.

What is the "Fittest"?
Lesley Ann