Archive for the ‘Food for Thought’ Category
It’s January 32nd here at Cripe and this morning we kicked off our Cripe Huddles.
Just kidding! We know there’s no such thing as January 32nd, but due to the inclement weather this week we were unable to host the Cripe Huddle on the last Wednesday of the month like we intended. So, we’re pretending today is still January.
Even with the best corporate communications, there is always room for growth. Cripe Huddles sprang from the belief that it is important to gather as a group as often as possible. We love to get together and share ideas and the Cripe Huddles are one more way that we can do that on a regular basis.
Inspired by TedTalks, these Huddles are short, but packed with valuable information. Cripe employees are busy! But everyone can spare fifteen minutes to learn something and to be involved in a company that takes its corporate culture so seriously.
While the first huddle was headed up by Kara Hensley, Vice President of Talent + Brand, and Cathy Erwin, Vice President of Finance, that won’t be the norm. These huddles will be a forum for employees at all levels to stand before their colleagues and share what they’ve been working on and knowledge they’ve acquired.
This morning, the Cripe Huddle consisted of three five-minute sessions. Employees got an overview of what they can expect from these huddles, an overview of 2019’s sales and revenue goals for the company, and the recruitment goals for the company.
On January 9, 2018, it was announced that Cripe had become an employee owned company. Lifelong learning has always been important at Cripe and with the announcement that employees have become owners – it became more important than ever.
These Huddles will be a way to continue with the transparency that has long been a staple of the Cripe culture as well as to encourage the different departments to interact and share what they have been learning and about the various projects happening across departments.
Cripe has never been complacent and the Cripe Huddles very clearly convey that the company has no intention of settling into routines that have always worked. At Cripe, employees across all departments and levels of experiences are constantly “Teaching the Why.”
At Cripe, we are open to new ways of doing and thinking. This is true across departments and project processes, as well as our corporate culture. In everything done at Cripe, there is always a strong commitment to our employees and their professional growth.
Companies cannot grow and attract top talent without an open-mindedness and willingness to try new things and Cripe knows this.
Creating a work environment that feels like a team is a value that permeates throughout the entire company. All voices need to be heard whether that is in regards to a department specific project or an opinion on how Cripe can continue to evolve its company culture and keep employees engaged and excited.
In 2018, Cripe was named as one of the “Best Places to Work in Indiana” for the 8th time and was also inducted into the Best Places to Work in Indiana Hall of Fame. There are many reasons for being included in this list, but a top factor is the open-mindedness throughout Cripe as well as the ever evolving and growing culture component, as evidenced by the Cripe Huddles.
2019 will be a year of growth in many factors for Cripe. Stay tuned to our social media channels to see all that we accomplish, learn, and experience this year!
Technology and Progress in Architecture
By: Sam Miller, Senior Project Manager in the Architecture Department
In architectural practice we may come to believe that every new technology represents an improvement, real or imagined, over work from the past. Common sense suggests this is true without further inquiry, but a more fine grained look into the past and real life work reveals some interesting oppositions to this notion. One of the tensions within design is the desire to experiment with new materials and building systems to further the artistic and functional potentials of our work. Choices about materials and technologies used over time is a result of the interaction of skill, location, cost and creativity. Some technologies are lost due to shifts in how building materials are produced.
Below is a photo of the water fountain in the main lobby of Louis Sullivan’s Peoples Savings & Loan Bank in Sidney, Ohio.
Photo by Sam Miller
The green material forming the water fountain’s top is glazed terra cotta, popular in the late 19th and early 20th Century. For ornamental detail, the material was perfect for a designer like Sullivan. However, times have changed. The use of terra cotta now is almost non-existent save for a small number of historical restorations in any given year and only a few manufacturers remain. The material is very expensive, only used sparingly, if at all, by designers.
Many ancient materials remain in continuous use today and have been improved via technology. Brick is an example: current use of brick is ubiquitous in modern construction and the material effectively comes in nearly unlimited color, texture and size. Also, materials are adapted to mimic others and provide superior durability at often lower cost. For example, architectural precast concrete sometimes takes the place of limestone. Precast concrete is often touted for greater durability and lower price. The size of pieces needed, size of structure, detail, and lead time play into the design team’s choices as well.
The question we often ask ourselves in day to day practice is: How does a particular technology improve what we do? There’s movement across the entire spectrum of building materials, a relentless development of more, newer, better. This is not always the case. A well-made, durable material always remains just that. And, like it or not, there’s almost inevitably a close correlation between quality and cost. Broader questions push the design professional into thinking about quality in a broad context: what does this do for my client? How does it represent her institution or brand? How does a material or system choice support the broad goals of a design concept, the needs of a community?
More often than not a single theme or organizing idea emerges from our design reveries. We discover resonance in an idea we choose to present to the client. This is where the rubber meets the road: If the client is pleased, the pieces begin to fall into place. The process is seldom neat, but the steady collection of form and substance around a good design theme with a balance between technology, old or new, and respect for the financial boundaries of a client yields results that get built. At a minimum we hope our clients are delighted. In a larger context, if our work serves our clients and the broad public comes to appreciate the value of quality design, the results point to the thoughtful use of various technologies. The evolution of building materials is fascinating, a continuing cycle of slow advancement in some cases and explosive innovation in others.
By: Will Tople | Civil Design Associate
You will choose a college based on its reputation. You will major in engineering based on the fact that your father did it, and so did his.
No matter what you do, you’ll have no idea what you are about to get into.
You will have a crisis your sophomore year because you hate your major. You will want to change everything about yourself. You won’t—something about that major appealed to you to begin with. You’ll continue. You will pick up minors in the things you love, like writing and acting.
Towards the end of your senior year, you will begin to pull your hair out. You will think this is how people go bald. You’ll research Rogaine, half-joking, half-not.
You will apply to, literally, a hundred jobs. You will hear back—with some luck—to 1% of them. No matter how many internships you had—no matter how good your grades are—your friends will start getting offers long before you do. You will hate them, but you will also find inspiration in them.
You will check your inbox everyday. Then hourly. You will finally hear back from more places.
You’ll interview for a firm that makes your feel comfortable. You’ll be yourself in the interview. You’ll get an offer. Your friends will hate you, but you will inspire them too.
By necessity, you will learn how to wake up in the morning. That means you will stop watching Netflix until 1 in the morning.
You will learn to pack your lunches like you did in high school. You will run out of lunchmeat on Wednesday night because you are too tired to make anything but a sandwich for dinners too.
You will wait in line at the grocery store to get more lunchmeat and someone will ask you, “What do you do?” In fact, you will get asked, “What do you do?” a lot these days. You will think of an answer that makes your job sound cooler than it actually is because most people don’t know what an engineer does. In the end, you will tell these people that if they walk on it, drive on it, or flush it, you have probably designed something similar to it.
You will learn how to cook, if not but to impress somebody.
You will lose contact with a lot of friends. You will gain even more. You will go out to drinks on the weekends. You will buy tickets to football games. You will attend plays, or concerts, or mixers because you can finally afford these things.
You will love your job most days. You will be annoyed on the others. You will open up at work and make more friends. If you’re lucky, these friends will be like you. They will be able to talk like you and joke with you. They will make getting up in the morning worthwhile.
You’ll go back to school to visit for the weekend. You will finally realize what it means when your parents say, “I feel old.”
You will get bills. You will find financial responsibility because you have to now. You will realize how dreadful student loans are. You will think you are drowning for a while, and will search for a life preserver. You’ll be broke but will find out that you can still manage. You’ll start to worry about your retirement fund, even at this age. The car you have been driving since high school will die in the middle of a busy road during rush hour. You’ll pull more hair our searching for a new one. You’ll realize all of these lunchmeat sandwiches aren’t helping your ever-growing gut. You will spend your nights at the gym. You will forget to call your mother on Wednesday night, like you always did, and she won’t like it. You will have to make emergency trips to the hospital that you can’t afford.
A lot of the things will go wrong.
And you will realize this is just your first year out of school. And you will realize you have so many more to figure these things out.
…continued from part I
Al and I talked a lot about using social media tools in a thoughtful way. If you’ve ever used LinkedIn and received an invitation to be someone’s connection then you probably know the cookie-cutter text that comes along with it. It looks like this:
“I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.
– Taylor Crenshaw”
Not very personal. It doesn’t have to be impersonal though, you’re not stuck with that template. You can edit that to say whatever you want and you should. It shows that you took the time to bring up where and why you met and maybe even how that person might be able to help you get where you’re trying to go. Put the personal into your invitation. It’ll go a long way towards building that relationship by making the person feel more like a human being and less like a stepping stone. By making the invitation more personal, it also brings into play a rule I keep for myself when dealing with LinkedIn. Do not try to connect with someone you haven’t met in person.
But heads up, Millennials! Our work isn’t done as soon as we make that connection both in real life and on the Web. We’ve got to maintain those personal relationships. Al goes so far as to make about one hundred calls around the holidays to people that he is connected with. Now I know, we’re not used to putting a whole lot of effort into things and we want instant gratification, but I think Mr. Oak knows what he’s talking about. And it’s not about business all the time. However, you make these efforts to keep in touch with your connections, you might just be at the forefront of their mind when business comes up or they might mention something off-handedly that you’re interested in in the midst of your chit chat. But even then, you should appreciate what you’re doing for other reasons. “Hopefully you enjoy doing that (maintaining relationships) because you’re making someone happy,” Al said. So far we’ve learned that we have to become more patient in our general networking and more selfless when keeping up with our connections. Al also told me that he couldn’t come up with one relationship that didn’t yield some sort of benefit at one point or another. All the more reason to put the effort into these relationships that you’re building.
Even though he knows what he’s doing in the networking department, Al understands where the technology we Millennials so love (and depend on?) could come in handy. “That’s the advantage of something like LinkedIn. It’s easier to stay in touch with people.” As we are beginning our networking journeys, we should remember that. He did not say “it’s easier to connect with people,” but that it is easier to maintain those relationships and keep up with everyone. Social media should be used as a supplement to interact with people, not a crutch for gaining new “connections.” So go ahead, use LinkedIn and your favorite social media tools, but remember that they are just that, tools, supplements. Embrace the personal that is slowly becoming more and more uncomfortable for us and go for it. It truly cannot hurt when done in a thoughtful way.
And when it comes to maintaining relationships, another thing we need to remember is that even if there isn’t something obviously in it for us, we should still take responsibility for maintaining those relationships. While Al said that some of his connections keep up with him, he takes the responsibility of communicating upon himself. “I drive the train. I lead,” he said, not a trace of selfishness in his voice. He truly does not expect to get a business deal or partnership out of every conversation he has, but he knows that if he maintains these relationships people will be more apt to think of him when they are looking for someone in his industry. “You build trust and relationships by putting others interests and needs ahead of your own and being patient with your cause.” Patience, Millennials, patience.
As I wrapped up my time with Al, he reiterated to me what we Millennials need to do in order to get into networking as early as possible and it is quite simple. “Get a mentor, tell them what you want to do, and hold yourself accountable.” Easy enough, right? All we have to do is take a step outside our comfort zone and think more carefully about the impersonal ways we sometimes use our social media. But, remember, both parts of networking, traditional and social, are incredibly important and if managed correctly can lighten your load in maintaining your personal relationships and bringing forth opportunities that might not have been possible otherwise.
(Pictured above, Al Oak and I at an intern breakfast at the very beginning of my internship. Talk about an incredible and unique experience!)
What do a Baby Boomer CEO and a Millennial summer marketing intern have in common? Are you having trouble coming up with anything? So was I, until I sat down with the CEO here at Cripe, Al Oak, and got to talking about networking. After our discussion, we realized we have much more in common than originally thought. I know he taught me a lot and I’m hoping I taught him a thing or two as well.
We sat down and talked about how to supplement each other’s knowledge with what we ourselves know. In Al’s case, he’s a very thoughtful and effective traditional networker. In my case, I know how to use LinkedIn and other social media, hopefully in an unselfish manner. What we decided by the time I left his office was that people who are interested in networking, and that should be everyone, can use both of these tools to be very successful. One is not better than the other, but they are both powerful means to the same end.
We got right down to business about networking in general. “It’s important for young people to know…the importance of networking and growing your career. It’s not something you decide to do when you’re fifty, when you have time. You start at your age,” Al told me. It looks like I’ve got my work cut out for me already.
One of the most important things that Al and I discussed was the impatience and sometimes even selfishness of my generation in their networking dealings. There always has to be something in every conversation for them. There has to be a way to move up and up and up, but effective networking is something much more than that. Al over and over again used the phrase “personal relationships.” While it may seem a bit counterintuitive to business, Al says, “The first priority is developing relationships on a more personal basis before moving to business opportunities. Develop a line of communication and trust by getting to know the person as a priority.” He said that he rarely talks about business when communicating with his connections.
So in a generation that is becoming ever more reliant on social media and interactions of all sorts besides face-to-face, how do we overcome this fear or negligence of the personal? “Good relationship builders and networkers come in many sizes– meaning many different personality types, personal backgrounds, skill sets and styles. The important thing is to embrace the importance of this and make the effort in a way that’s comfortable.” It’s not about cold-calling people in the industry you want to get into. Take advantage of those around you who might know that person or even might know another connection who knows your end goal person. Just ask. Find someone you know that is a good networker and use them. Al says he uses his connections in such a way quite frequently. If he wants to meet a new person he asks someone he already knows who knows that person to set up a lunch. “People who are good at networking are also wanting to help. It’s a support group as much as anything,” Al told me.
But what about my fellow Millennials who are just starting their careers, but who might not have the opportunity to sit down with the CEO or any of the higher-ups in their current company (truly Cripe is exceptional and I have learned there is no hierarchy here)? Quite simply, Al advised to find a new company. “You ought to get in a culture where they support that (networking). Make sure you’re in the right environment for it at a company that supports you.” So when we’re out interviewing for a job, we should be asking about the company’s culture and explaining what we’d like to be a part of. If it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be a good fit to help you reach your goals, Al simply suggests moving on to something that does.
Al then reiterated to me what we Millennials need to do in order to get into networking as early as possible and it is quite simple. “Get a mentor, tell them what you want to do, and hold yourself accountable.” Easy enough, right? All we have to do is take a step outside our comfort zone and think more carefully about the impersonal ways we sometimes use our social media. But, remember, both parts of networking, traditional and social, are incredibly important and if managed correctly can lighten your load in maintaining your personal relationships and bringing forth opportunities that might not have been possible otherwise.
To be continued…
Taylor Crenshaw is a rising Senior at DePauw University working towards a double major in English Writing and Spanish.
I grew up around the construction industry. Visiting job sites with the Boy Scouts and spending time around my family’s construction company’s warehouse as a child are some of my favorite memories. However, I wanted to be different. My mother has a passion for art and design that I fortunately inherited while my father works in construction. Growing up, I knew there had to be a career that married my interest in construction with my passion for art; architecture.
After two years as an undergraduate I decided that a traditional architecture career was something that did not meet my need for hands on method of design. My father and I discussed a method of project delivery called design-build. After researching the topic, I quickly signed up for a few construction management courses, which helped my understanding of the construction industry. Also, I enrolled in an independent study revolving around renovating a facility in downtown Muncie. The second semester of my senior year I was in luck. A project was being offered to students to design and build a ‘Playscape’ for a neighborhood in Indianapolis. The five thousand dollar budget seemed like a lot at the time. However, we quickly realized size limitations with our choice of materials. The project was thought provoking because a portion of the neighborhood had no desire for children to use the park, and instead wanted the whole area for themselves without children. This eliminated the option of a traditional playground with swings and a slide. Instead a series of platforms with key features was designed, approved, and built. These experiences led me to search for a graduate school program that expands upon the idea of design-build.
The single most important lesson I have learned from these programs in my undergraduate career, looking back during my final year of graduate school, has to be that design is on-going, even during construction. Design does not stop until construction is complete. This notion can be taken advantage of in a design-build situation to maximize efficiency. Sometimes you find a better method in the field than originally drawn in the documents. I had the privilege to work on a few special case projects that demonstrate that principle, one being a ‘fast track’ project with two components, a pre-engineered metal building (PEMB) and a stick built structure. The PEMB had broken ground and begun construction before the construction documents were even complete for this project.
Knowing firsthand how building systems come together is paramount to the understanding of this profession. There is a dramatic difference between drawing a detail for a set of construction documents and putting it together in the field. It makes you think critically when moving forward with the next project. Having those experiences on a construction site alter and improve your consideration for all aspects and phases of design. It has made me more aware of my design decisions that have an impact on schedule and budget.
There is also an added benefit of understanding a different perspective. Often as design professionals we hear the word contractor and moan while they do the same thing when they hear the word architect. The design-build delivery method allows those tensions to dissipate because unlike a typical design arrangement, all entities and firms, on both the architectural side and construction side are involved from the inception of the project. The client ultimately receives a better product as a result of proactive collaboration between the architect, contractor, and owner. Even when the design and construction is handled by two separate entities, this process is beneficial. There is a mutual understanding from day one that contractor and architect will work together to achieve a better product.
Design and construction both hold a very important place in my life. I am thankful for the opportunity to join my two passions into a career and hope that others will see the merit in enrolling in design-build courses while in college.
Max Wurster is an Architectural intern with Cripe. He studies Architecture at the University of Kansas with a focus on design-build and will be in his final year of graduate school in the fall.
Earlier this year the Cripe Architecture department had the opportunity to work on their first “CANstruction” project- designing a large scale, hand built art installation out of non-perishable food. Canstruction design competitions have become increasingly popular in cities around the country as a means of donating food to food pantries and having fun in the process. They are typically targeted at the design/architecture/construction sectors to solicit creative design solutions. Additionally, they provide an opportunity for fun, team building, and giving back.
Cripe was the design architect for the new food pantry for Lawrence Township here in the greater Indianapolis area this past year, called “The Cupboard”. They desired to have a Canstruction installation for their grand opening, partly as a centerpiece and partly as a way of providing a baseline stock of food to fill their shelves. Carl Sergio offered to lead a departmental design and construction team.
The design task was similar to that of any real building- provide something attractive, agreeable to the client, under budget, and on time. Playing the additional role of “contractor” on the job, since Cripe was also building it, provided the additional challenge- not only did we have to design it to stand up, we had to ensure that it actually did.
What follows is a series of images to illustrate the design process that took The Cupboard”s original logo (at the top of this post) and turned it into an elliptical wall, pixelated to a scale that was readable, affordable, buildable, and designable using the colors of available canned-food labels. The ellipse was hoped to be relatively self-supporting, but also a nice elongated shape to complement the space it would be in.
Reformatting the logo into a shape that would wrap into a long (and not too tall!) ellipse…
…pixelated into pixel sizes representative of the size and shape of canned food…
The final gridded graphic used as a map for the team to build the real thing.
(Turns out laying out an ellipse on the ground is more difficult than previously thought…)
We also had to get an accurate count of the cans we would need, based on the type of food (i.e. color of the label!) and the number we would need…enough requiring a preorder.
Every project has a hangup or two (yep, we had two)…so when we picked up our cans, a third of the order hadn”t arrived, and we had to raid the shelves at Kroger. TWO Krogers.
This many cans required five cars to transport everything!
Let the construction begin!!
(Cripe Design Associate Eric Beaman supervises as his volunteer wife Cassie does work) (credit william)
(Design Associate Andrew Adegbamigbe”s sister Jumoke (left) also volunteered to help!)
(It looks just like the logo, honest)
L-R: Matt Amore, Carl Sergio, Eric Beaman, Andrew Adegbamigbe, Shawnita Washington
(It was standing straighter than it looks…though we did have an accident later………..)
Imagine a doctor being called into emergency surgery. As they rush to the operating room, with a few voice commands, they are able to see the patient’s prep status, access the patient’s vitals, view the injury and view the pre-surgery check list all while in route to the OR. With Google Glass, this is possible. Technologically advanced doctors are able to do all of this through Google’s eye.
What is Google Glass?
Google Glass, in essence, is eyewear that has all of the capabilities of a smartphone. Information can be accessed through voice or touch. It has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, email access and a notepad for verbal notes and reminders. A built in camera also allows the wearer to transmit photos and video to anyone, anywhere.
How can Google Glass be used in Healthcare?
Google Glass allows healthcare professionals to view, disperse and collect information quickly in a hands-free manner without the restrictions of desktop computers, laptops or tablets.
Google Glass has been tested mostly in OR situations. This device gives doctors the ability to focus solely on their patient. They do not have to look away from their patient to view vitals, x-rays or any other patient information. All of the information they may need is available at a glance.
Doctors also have the option to consult with other doctors who are not present in the OR in real time. The consulting doctor will be able to see the procedure from the performing doctor’s point-of-view. Procedures can also be recorded for future educational use.
Even after the surgery is complete, doctors have the ability to view their patient in the recovery room and track their progress.
What are the drawbacks of using Google Glass?
With any new technology, there are benefits and drawbacks. One concern is the privacy of patient information. Because Google Glass can access patient information through touch or voice, there is a concern that anyone who picks up the eyewear will have access to private patient information. Also, there is a possibility that pictures and video can be taken without patient consent.
Also, the fact that Google Glass information can be accessed by touch, raises infection control concerns. If unsterile eyewear is touched during a procedure, everything touched after that is compromised.
Technological advances are quickly changing the way healthcare is provided. Healthcare providers are always on the lookout for ways to offer patients the best care possible. With Google Glass being in its infancy, there are still questions surrounding the security of patient records and the advantages of using this technology. The cost associated integrating Google Glass is also a major concern. Over time, Google will continue to work to perfect the use of Google Glass in Healthcare. Seeing patient care through Google’s view may not be as futuristic as one may think.
Written By: Shawnita Washington
Recently I had the chance to visit the Miller House and Gardens in Columbus, IN. Commissioned by J. Irwin Miller in 1953, the home and gardens are a masterpiece of midcentury modern architecture. Designed by 3 leading designers of the day- architect Eero Saarinen, interior designer Alexander Girard, and landscape architect Dan Kiley- the home features an outstanding example of the integration between architecture and landscape. However, it was the function of the home that struck me the most.
Irwin and Xenia Miller, along with their five children, resided in the home full time following its completion. That’s correct, the FAMILY lived there. The Miller’s had the joy of raising 5 children in the house. When thinking about Mid-Century Modern homes, this is not something that most typically consider. Much of the tour actually discussed how the home was designed to create living spaces for the parents, children, and guests, as well as how the family lived within the space. (For example, the children often roller skated across the white terrazzo floor, and the colorful pillows designed by Girard made for a soft landing when diving into the sunken conversation pit.) While our tour guide detailed the excellent qualities of the architecture, textiles, and landscape, he made sure we understood that this was first and foremost a home, in which the Millers resided until 2008.
This is something that we should always consider. Buildings and spaces only reach their full potential when we allow for interaction with the user. Designers often fixate on resistance of wear (i.e. keeping things looking as good as new), and while longevity of a space or materials is important, we have to allow a user to personalize or take ownership of their space. We need to give them opportunities to stretch their own creativity. These opportunities allow architectural spaces to become what they are meant to be, spaces for memories, interactions, and relationships.
If you’d like to see more photographs of the interior of the home, go to the following link
I was originally bitten by “the travel bug” in 2002 when my dad followed through on a long-standing dream to do as his dad had done for him- take his son(s) to Italy, the land of our not-so-distant-anscestors. During my Master”s of Architecture program in 2009, three months living in Barcelona and four months abroad total, in eleven different countries, permanently imprinted me with the value of the personal and professional impact of traveling on my career as an Architect. Experiencing things firsthand is important to me, which is a large part of why I travel- everything becomes suddenly and amazingly real when you see it with your own eyes.
This past February I took advantage of the amazing chance to visit an old friend in South Africa, living and researching for nine months in a small town an hour outside of Cape Town. I wasn”t fully or nearly prepared for the impact of a trip flying 21 total hours, across the Equator, to the Southern tip of a new continent, to a country of many languages and peoples, still awash in racial, political, and economic strife the likes of which we only (rarely) read about in the
My ten days in South Africa was less architecture and more history/language/politics/culture than expected- but more educational than I”d hoped. Personally and professionally, I am particularly interested in residential design- the small scale, the Psychology of the impact the spaces can have on your day to day life. Additionally, I feel a moral obligation and tremendous opportunity as an Architect to use design (and blood, sweat, and tears) to effect social change.
In a confluence of the two, I had the rare chance to tour a “township” outside of Cape Town- a “shantytown”, a settlement of metal shacks- known as a “favela” in Brazil. It was known as “Imizamo Yethu”, which is Xhosa for “Our Struggle”. While a bit disconcerting to be a tourist gawking at the living conditions of some of the poorest in the Western Cape, it was a unique opportunity to experience it firsthand, with a tour guide who lived in the area, for a fee that ostensibly went directly to the community.
I was immediately struck by the contrast between their poverty and the fact that they still had the basic pieces of a normal life. Many had electricity, some had running water, there was a shocking number of satellite dishes mounted on fences, and people had shoes, clothing, paved streets (with street signs!), some cars here and there, televisions, bars strew about town, a school down the street…but the poverty was obvious in their one-room, corrugated-metal homes.
Yet I noticed that their basic needs of food, shelter, clothing were met in those humble abodes. I thought back to the 200 square foot apartment I had in Chicago, with a *large* closet and air conditioning, and found myself wondering if I really “needed” such a *lavish* living situation to be happy- or better yet to be actualized, to borrow Abraham Maslow”s term. What do we really NEED from our homes and our lives to happy? How could homes be more modestly designed for necessity rather than contingency?
A wealthy Irishman had been coming to Imizamo Yethu for five years, bringing money and muscle to build homes and a library. Germans had just built a new school the past year. It seemed a bit “white guilt” or the typical helicoptering help to Africa from the Western World, but it had made a profound impact (credit william). I”m aware of the American concern “why should we send help and money overseas with so much poverty and need here at home” yet I couldn”t help wondering about the impact I could make there in South Africa- and the need and opportunity were clearly there.