Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Shout-Out for SHELTER

[This is a Guest-Blog by Ex-Co-Worker-Megan. Enjoy!]

Mollie is a cool cat.  For my birthday she made what is arguably the best homemade cake I've ever eaten.  She has also provided work-related moral support, biking moral support (how many people manage to stay patient when their idiot friend arrives for a bike ride to Mt. Vernon but doesn't know how to use the bike pump?), and running moral support.  My "Capitol Hill Classic" run was easily one of my worst ever. So let's hope this upcoming half marathon venture goes well, and this century bike ride around Tahoe goes even better! 

Speaking of Tahoe, I spent a recent weekend skiing. There are few things better then sliding down the slopes (albeit, sometimes badly), and being tucked into a mountain cabin with friends. Especially when the group has a great rapport, likes beer, and enjoys discussing random, childhood-related topics (did anyone else really want braces and glasses after reading the Babysitters Club series?  Or silently curse their genetics while reading Sweet Valley High? I, for one, could never relate to Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield, with their blue-green eyes, and "perfect 5'6 and size 6." This is probably because at 16 I was already 5'11. And being of Italian and Syrian background doesn't really bode well for a future of blond hair and blue-green eyes. Thank you, Francine Pascal, for your anti-feminist tracts. I'll be sure to unsuccessfully hide them from any future daughters.).

Anyway, let me get back to the point. Mollie's not allowing me to guest blogjust so I can wax poetic about Jessica Wakefield and her flings with Bruce Pattman. I'm actually "penning a blog" to talk about a documentary I've been working on since saying sayonara to DC and moving to the Bay Area - SHELTER.  The documentary, which is being produced by Lee Schneider and Richard Neil, focuses on architects and designers who are designing innovative, sustainable housing for post-disaster relief and recovery, and devising solutions to homelessness that may help avoid Skid Row situations. It's a thoughtful film, being made by thoughtful people.  And, before you sigh and recoil from "good cause" saturation (and your skepticism is understandable), let me continue.  

This film is meant to inspire, not to make you feel bad. As more and more young architects and designers come onto the scene, as the world becomes more populated, as cities continue to expand, and as our approach towards urban design and landscape evolves, bright and creative minds are necessary in order to facilitate the creation of socially responsible design.  

Working on SHELTER has really made me stop and take the time to think about my surroundings.  How many of you are tired of (and demoralized by) 6-lane highways, shopping mall monstrosities, and generally bad design? (let's pay homage to Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart's famous words - "you know it when you see it.")  

It's interesting how much of an effect one's aesthetic environment can have on people's morale. Mollie, one of your latest blogs seems to (unintentionally) touch upon this.  You like the National Art Gallery's atriums?  Someone designed them, and they probably hoped it would delight you, not make you want to take your book down the street to a Starbucks. And Readers, if you think "socially conscious design" is merely a trendy idea, see what a talented young architect has to say about this very issue in this interview.  Or perhaps get acquainted with the work being done by UVA students participating in a cutting-edge architectural program, Initiative reCOVER.

If you think you have a stake in the state of SHELTER in the world, check out the links.  And, if you like seeing good films get made - this ain't your "Sex and the City 2" folks! - consider donating to our efforts.  We're in the process of fundraising through Indiegogo, but our donation appeal, which is run through the San Francisco Film Society, ends on March 12th.  We hope to raise as much money as possible through "grassroots" donations.  The funds will go toward filming in Haiti, and toward domestic shoots. On top of that, an angel donor has come forth, and the donor is willing to match all contributions up to $2500. Pretty cool stuff. And if you're on our donation appeal site, be sure to check out the clip reel, as well.

In the meantime, Washingtonians and Readers of this most excellent blog, thank you for hearing me out.  A few words of advice, before I depart:  
1.  Nutella and stir-fry do not make a breakfast. [Editor's note: Stick to the banana bread Megan!]
2.  If you're a beginner skier, consider renting shorter skis. 
3.  Make an attempt to avoid most books by Francine Pascal.
4.  Take a good look at your surroundings, and figure out what makes you tick.  Does Tyson's Corner drive you nuts?  Does the Portrait Gallery make you giddy?  Get invested.

[For more of Megan's writing, check out her blog - Talk Suds To Me]