I'm Officially a TEDster

TEDster – noun. A person who attends a TED conference.

Attending the TED conference is like drinking from a fire hose; while TED talks are between 8-19 minutes long, the conference is a full 5 days. There are two-hour sessions 2-3 times a day, where you hear 6- 8 speakers in a row.

The theme for the conference was The Future You. And while there was a lot of talk about robots and drones of the near-term and future, it was balanced with the human side of things and the importance of community and connection. The topics ranged from artificial intelligence, art and music, healthcare, and climate change, to compassion and heartbreak, microbes and pond scum, refugees, and community. Speakers were not run-of-the-mill, but top in the field, extraordinary individuals doing amazing work like Pope Francis, the Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Shah Rukh Kahn, Tim Ferriss, Serena Williams, and Elon Musk. The full line-up can be found here.

A few of my favorite sessions were:

Vanessa Garrison and T. Morgan Dixon – two friends who started a non-profit called GirlTrek, the largest public health nonprofit for African-American women and girls in the United States. Invoking the spirits of their foremothers and Harriet Tubman, they spoke about why and how they get black women out walking in their neighborhoods – for their personal health as well as social change. Throughout American history, black women walked to organize their communities and speak out against injustices. Their talk was powerful and brought the audience to their feet.

Photo: Bret Hartman / TED

Photo: Bret Hartman / TED

Titus Kaphar – an artist that spoke about race and equity in art as seen through the eyes of his young son, and how art has historically marginalized people of color. He painted for us as he talked about why you can’t erase history, but how you can obscure the power depicted through art to bring into focus the people who were oppressed. A beautiful performance. 

Titus Kaphar's work at TED

Titus Kaphar's work at TED

Devita Davison – a food activist from Detroit whom I’ve been raving about since last year when I first heard her speak at a planning conference. She is working with a team to make Detroit a food sovereign city, and helping people of color become entrepreneurs. Devita took us on a tour of her hometown showing us community gardens where residents came to know their farmers, and where neighbors band together to obliterate food deserts and build community. She comes from a long lineage of preachers and her talk showed it – the passion and conviction with which she spoke was infectious.

Photo: Bret Hartman / TED

Photo: Bret Hartman / TED

There were many more on art and music, climate change, and human connection – but those will come in a later post.  In the meantime, look up Raj Panjabi, Emily Esfahani Smith, Daan Roosegaarde, Anna Rosling Rônnlund, Kate Marvel, Guy Winch, Anab Jain, Anna Herringer, Ashton Applewhite, Helen Pearson, Susan Pinker, Anthony Romero, Laolu Senbanjo, Jacob Collier, Lil Buck, Huang Yi, Anne Madden, David Whyte, and Manoush Zomorodi.

The TED experience was exhilarating and inspiring. In an interview, Elon Musk (who talked about colonizing Mars, a tunnel/highway under LA to get people out of traffic, and autonomous vehicles) was asked what inspired him. He said, “I’m not trying to be anyone’s savior. I’m just trying to think about the future and not be sad.” I get that. But I’m also sad he feels that way, because when I think of the future, I’m hopeful, not sad. I think the future holds much beauty and promise. There was talk about inclusivity and resilience at the conference, and I’m glad to have had this past week to think about what that means for The Future Us.

- Grace

Count Us In

During the very early morning hours of Friday, January 27th, staff from Schemata Workshop will be joining volunteers from all over King County to conduct a point in time count of people experiencing homelessness and living without shelter. This street count effort is taking place in every census tract in the County and is combined with a shelter and youth count to form Count Us In (formerly One Night Count). The data from Count Us In not only increases community support and awareness of the scope and scale of homelessness but provides much needed data for organizations and government agencies working toward housing for all. 

This is why we're counting:

It makes me sad to think that homelessness has become part of the landscape of our community. People walk/drive by without a thought as if it’s okay that there are community members who are living unsheltered. THIS IS NOT OKAY! I am counting because we need to SEE and acknowledge people experiencing homelessness and work/advocate harder for various ways to ensure that everyone has a safe home. It’s a human right. - Joann

Homelessness is such a big problem for our city that for a single individual wanting to help, it’s overwhelming to try and find a way to be a part of the solution. I have volunteered here and there at a few different encampments in the past, but Count Us In is a chance to contribute to a bigger effort. This data will help provide resources to tackle homelessness issues at a bigger scale, and that is why I am counting. - Margaret K.

I want to better understand homelessness and help in some way. - Erik

It is vital that we understand the scale of the homelessness crisis in our cities, counties, states, and country. This Count represents one step in the journey to ensure every person has a safe, affordable, and healthy place to live. - Sarah

I’m counting because it’s more important now than ever for me to use my relative privilege in the service of helping others who don’t have that luxury. - Margaret T.

I want to help, even if only in a small way. Being able to see one aspect of homelessness firsthand makes all the statistics that much more personal and gives even more meaning to the work we’re a part of at Schemata. - Brian

It's the responsibility of those of us with means and opportunity to give visibility to members of our community whose voices go unheard and whose needs have been ignored. - Abby

Learn more about getting involved here.


Chi Psi Annex - COMPLETE

There’s nothing more satisfying as an architect than closing out a project and watching excited residents take occupancy of their building. We had the pleasure of doing just that last month when we completed an annex for the Chi Psi Fraternity at the University of Washington. Chi Psi’s membership had outgrown their 1924 home, affectionately known as The Lodge. Despite extensive renovations in 2010, the near-century-old building was in need of additional space to house fraternity members who were living off-site.

The goal of the annex was to house these members and provide additional amenity spaces. One of the challenges of the project was a tight site that resulted in a tall building with a small footprint. The project consists of 15 student rooms spread over 4 floors. Each floor contains a full bathroom with and laundry facilities on the ground floor. Each student living in the annex has a private room with a built-in bed and storage unit. The annex’s location adjacent to the northeast corner of the existing Chi Psi building places residents of the annex at an easy distance from the kitchen, dining area, and library contained in the existing lodge. It’s location also encloses a courtyard and sports court for basketball, summer barbecues, and other activities. The contractor for the project, Carlisle Classic Homes, was able to complete the project in time for the students to move in for the ‘16-‘17 school year.

Open House and Park(ing) Day

Incredibly, two weeks have passed since our open house and Park(ing) Day. And what is there to say except a heartfelt "thank you" to everyone who made the day possible and came out to celebrate with us.

A very special thanks to:

Danny Ngan for documenting the evening with these and other beautiful images

Ragen & Associates for contributing landscaping for our parklet

Elliott Bay Book Company for donating to our park's take-away library

Scratch Deli for providing snack for our park guests