Sandy Lawton is one of a handful of practitioners’ world wide currently building and experimenting with fabric formed concrete. Fabric forming uses a flexible textile membrane to form concrete in place of rigid forms such as lumber, plywood, steel and aluminum. Sandy will present recent residential and community projects using this sustainable and expressive building technique.
Docey Lewis has worked for more than twenty-five years as a handcrafted products designer in over thirty countries for both commercial companies and international development organizations. She began her career as a weaver and fabric designer specializing in yarn design and fashion fabrics. She later moved into designing and producing natural fiber wallcovering and fabrics for interiors. Clients have included Christian Dior, Oleg Cassini, Silk Dynasty, Cowtan & Tout, Larsen, Maya Romanoff, 3form and Donghia. Her award winning collections are available through to-the-trade showrooms in the US and abroad. In the early 1980’s Docey founded a weaving factory and commercial design studio in the Philippines, and later expanded into designing gifts, decorative accessories and dinnerware when she opened IMA, a retail store at the Hyatt Hotel Baguio. In 2003 Docey relocated her design studio from Connecticut to New Harmony, Indiana, a historic arts community on the Wabash River.
In the late 90’s she established a partnership with a company in Nepal. There she and her son work with over 1,000 artisans to produce natural fiber wall coverings for residential and commercial markets and specialty interlayers for 3form’s eco-resin panels. In 2008 Docey initiated an eBay Foundation funded project with Aid to Artisans to produce the Artisans’ Health and Safety Manual, a guerilla guide to improving practices in artisan workplaces in the developing world. Aided by the Hunter Douglas Charitable Endowment, she is also spearheading a pilot project to clean up village dye effluent and to introduce a closed-loop dyeing process that will be safer for both the artisans and the environment.
Docey is also a Senior Design Consultant to Aid to Artisans (ATA), and has been active on projects with them since 1987, most recently working with sisal and silk in Colombia and organic cotton in Senegal. A former Board member of Aid to Artisans, and The Crafts Center, she is now an ATA Special Advisor to the Board and is active on the Aid to Artisans Small Grants Committee.
Poetry in the Landscape
I have found it much more difficult to declare myself a poet. A teacher, yes, or an editor, a free-lance writer, even a mother—but declaring oneself a poet doesn't usually bring a useful reaction.
Miriam Sagan was born in Manhattan, raised in New Jersey, and educated in Boston. She holds a B.A. with honors from Harvard University and an M.A. in Creative Writing from Boston University. She settled in Santa Fe in 1984.
Sagan is the author of over twenty books. Her most recent is a memoir, Searching for a Mustard Seed : A Young Widow's Unconventional Story (Quality Words in Print, 2004. Winner best Memoir from Independent Publishers, 2004). Her poetry includes Rag Trade (La Alameda 2004), The Widow's Coat (Ahsahta Press, 1999), and The Art of Love (La Alameda Press, 1994).
Sagan directs the creative writing program at Santa Fe Community College, and has taught at the College of Santa Fe, University of New Mexico, Taos Institute of the Arts, Aspen Writer's Conference, around the country, and on line for writers.com and UCLA Extension. She has held residency grants at Yaddo and MacDowell, and is the recipient of a grant from The Barbara Deming Foundation/Money for Women and a Lannan Foundation Marfa Residency.
The Vertical Farm
I am a microbiologist/ecologist by training, and for 27 years I conducted laboratory-based research on molecular aspects of intracellular parasitism funded by NIH. I also teach courses in the medical school and in our school of public health (e.g., Parasitic Diseases; Medical Ecology; Ecology 101). Many of them deal with parasitism and its effects on large segments of the poor that live in the tropics. Controlling soil-based transmission cycles of helminthes that cause significant health problems throughout the world is of prime importance to me. I so left the lab in favor of working on more globally relevant projects that address some these important problems.
Since it is generally agreed agriculture is solely responsible for so much environmental disturbance and serves as the interface for the transmission of geohelminths, one area of focus of mine has been on how to raise food without further encroachment into natural ecosystems. I have established The Vertical Farm as a theoretical construct to look at the possibility of agricultural sustainability within cities. The idea grew out of a class project to measure the effects of rooftop gardening in New York City on reducing the dome of heat that develops over us each year. From that original idea, I expanded the concept to include urban agriculture and finally to multi-story indoor farming. I have given this project to my students in my course, "Medical Ecology" (see: www.medicalecology.org), and each year they have added more and more detail to the original framework.
In 2003, I participated in a studio in the School of Architecture with Dr. Richard Plunz and his students, in which the vertical farm figured as a main feature of urban planning and design schemes to rehabilitate the Gowanus Canal district of Brooklyn. It was quite successful and continues to be one of the more popular studios. Sustainable urban life is now a major interest of mine. Inventing new approaches to the raising of food within the confines of a large urban center is bound to be fraught with hidden pitfalls and caveats when starting out, particularly those of a technical and economic nature. However, I firmly believe that with enough input from multiple disciplines (e.g., industrial and soil microbiology, engineering, public health, policy making, urban planning, architecture, agronomy, plant genetics, economics), vertical farming could become a reality and thus replace most of what now passes for agriculture in many parts of the developed and under-developed world. If this were to come about, large tracts of land could then be returned to nature to do what it was supposed to do for us before we eliminated the hardwood forests of the eastern states. Restoring ecosystem services and functions is what I envision as the charge to the next generation of public health professionals.
Vertical Farms, Chaplin Hall, 1pm. Public Welcome.
Excerpt from verticalfarms.com:
It took humans 10,000 years to learn how to grow most of the crops we now take for granted. Along the way, we despoiled most of the land we worked, often turning verdant, natural ecozones into semi-arid deserts. Within that same time frame, we evolved into an urban species, in which 60% of the human population now lives vertically in cities. This means that, for the majority, we humans are protected against the elements, yet we subject our food-bearing plants to the rigors of the great outdoors and can do no more than hope for a good weather year. However, more often than not now, due to a rapidly changing climate regime, that is not what follows. Massive floods, protracted droughts, class 4-5 hurricanes, and severe monsoons take their toll each year, destroying millions of tons of valuable crops. Don't our harvestable plants deserve the same level of comfort and protection that we now enjoy? The time is at hand for us to learn how to safely grow our food inside environmentally controlled multistory buildings within urban centers. If we do not, then in just another 50 years, the next 3 billion people will surely go hungry, and the world will become a much more unpleasant place in which to live.
The Story of Native American Headress
Jim Schley grew up in Wisconsin and has a BA from Dartmouth College (Literature & Creative Writing and Native American Studies, 1975) and an MFA from Warren Wilson College (Poetry, 1986). He was co-editor of the literary journal New England Review and editor-in-chief of Chelsea Green Publishing Company, and he has edited more than a hundred books on a wide variety of subjects, including literary genres and history as well as “practical ecology”: nature-based building techniques, renewable energy technologies, and regenerative farming and gardening.
From 2006–2008 he was executive director of The Frost Place, a museum and conference center at poet Robert Frost’s former home in Franconia, N.H. He is an associate member of the journalists’ collective Homelands Research Group, and author of a new book of poems, As When, In Season.
Jim lives with his wife and daughter in an off-the-grid community in Strafford, Vermont.
Jennifer Siegal is known for her work in creating the Prefab home of the 21st century. She is founder and principal of the Los Angeles-based firm Office of Mobile Design (OMD), which is dedicated to the design and construction of responsible, sustainable, and precision built structures.
Ms. Siegal earned a master’s degree from the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) in 1994, and was a 2003 Loeb Fellow at Harvard University’s School of Design where she explored the use of intelligent, kinetic, and lightweight materials. In 1997 she was a resident at the Chinati Foundation and in 2004 a Fellow at the MacDowell Colony in her hometown of Peterborough, NH. Presently she is the inaugural Julius Shulman Institute Fellow at Woodbury University in Los Angeles, the editor of both Mobile: the Art of Portable Architecture (2002), and More Mobile: Portable Architecture for Today (2008), and was formally the founder and Series Editor of Materials Monthly (2005-6) all published by Princeton Architectural Press. A monograph on Jennifer Siegal was published in 2005.
Ms. Siegal's innovative mobile structures include customized, prefab, green Modernist homes; the Mobile EcoLab used to teach students about the environment; and the Portable Construction Training Center created for the Venice Community Housing Corporation. Her most recent work is a modern, modular home product line called Take Home.
Ms. Siegal’s work was exhibited at the Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum’s 2003 National Design Triennial; the Walker Art Center’s Strangely Familiar: Design and Everyday Life; the 2006 NY Mobile Living Exhibition; and the National Building Museum’s The Green House, New Directions in Sustainable Architecture and Design in 2006 and Reinventing the Globe: A Shakespearen Theater for the 21st Century in 2007. Her work has been televised on CNN, HGTV, broadcast on NPR ‘My Fellow Americans’, widely published in over 100 books, newspapers and journals from Architectural Record, Domus, Dwell, Elle Décor, ID, LA Times, Metropolitan Home, Newsweek, New York Times, Sports Illustrated, Time, Vanity Fair, Wired, Wall Street Journal, and Wallpaper. Her innovative design sensibilities and expertise in futuristic concepts, prefabricated construction, and green building technologies were recognized by the popular media in 2003 when Esquire magazine named her one of the “Best and Brightest” and the Architectural League of New York included her in the acclaimed Emerging Voices program. She was featured in 2006 Fast Company’s “Masters of Design” for her exceptional approach to utilizing new material and forms to create her designs. She was recently honored when mayor Antonio Viaragossa presented her with the History Channel’s 2006 Infiniti D.
Webster Wilson was born and raised in West Cornwall, Connecticut. While at the University of Vermont (B.A. 1994), Wilson was active in the arts and pursued various media and exhibited in several shows. Wilson moved west in 1995 to pursue a career in architecture in Seattle. At the University of Washington (M.Arch, 1999) he was active as a graduate student assistant in the woodshop and developed an interest in materials, assemblies and an attention to detail. After studying wood construction in Finland as a Valle Scholar, Wilson returned to actualize first building: a Finnish sauna, that he both designed and built as his master's thesis.
Wilson has worked at award-winning architecture firms in Connecticut, Paris, France, Seattle and New York. His sauna received a Wood Design Award in 2004 and has been published in the Wood Design & Building 2004 Award book, Dwell Magazine, Sunset Magazine and Fine Homebuilding. He has realized many of his own projects and is currently working independently on residences in Hawaii, the San Juan Islands, Connecticut and Vermont.
Andrew Potok is an intense, vigorous, sensual man--and a gifted painter. Then, passing forty, he rapidly begins to go blind from an inherited eye disease, retinitis pigmentosa. Depressed and angry, he rages at the losses that are eradicating his life as an artist, his sources of pleasure, his competence as a man. He hates himself for becoming blind. But as he will ultimately discover, and as this remarkable memoir recounts, it is not the end of the world. It is the beginning.
This the story of Potok’s remarkable odyssey out of despair. He attempts to come to terms with his condition: learning skills for the newly blind, dealing with freakish encounters with the medical establishment, going to London for a promised cure through a bizarre and painful “therapy” of bee stings. He wrestles with the anguish of knowing that his daughter has inherited the same disease that is stealing his own eyesight. And then, as he edges ever closer to complete blindness, there comes the day when he recognizes that the exhilaration he once found in the mix of paint and canvas, hand and eye, he has begun to find in words.
By turns fierce, blunt, sexy, and uproariously funny, Andrew Potok’s memoir of his journey is as shatteringly frank as it is triumphant.