Designs for Living

I was at the Margaret Mead Film Festival a few weeks ago and saw a film called “Ever the Land,” directed by Sarah Grohnert. The film describes the process of building a Living Building, the highest standard for sustainability, for the Te Wharehou o Tūhoe and the Ngāi Tūhoe Maori people of New Zealand. It was designed by the architect Ivan Mercep, who won the project by pitching it with a blank sheet of paper.  

The Living Building Challenge requires that buildings be net zero energy, water and waste. All materials must be sustainably sourced and non-toxic. The final goal is the creation of true ecological sustainabilty. The founder of the Living Building Challenge, Jason F. McLennan, means for green buildings to be not only ecologically sustainable, but also to promote social justice and support cultural heritage. Truly a challenge for those who work in built environment fields, it is a way of looking at and preparing for the future in a positive manner that incorporates preserving and promoting cultures and respecting our earth and it’s bounty. 

The film describes and shows the building process from community meetings, to hiring and training of local workers to the celebration of the building opening with a Tūhoe ceremony. Also interwoven throughout the film are the ongoing negotiations with the Government of New Zealand that resulted culminated in an historic apology and settlement for the Tūhoe last year.  

    

    

Lottie Hedley Photography

 

Advertisements

Raising the Dead

Yesterday I took a trip to The Cloisters – a part of a The Metropolitan Museum of Art way up in Inwood in gorgeous Fort Tryon Park and along the Hudson River. 
      

One of my favorite paintings is there – The Merode Altarpiece by the Workshop of Robert Campin (or the Master of Flémalle) – one of his assistants was the young Rogier van der Weyden.  I could spend hours taking in each detail of this Annunciation scene packed with symbolism. For example, St. Joseph, in the panel on the right, works in his carpentry shop and has built a mousetrap. The trap  –  an illusion to the Crucifixation and St. Augustine’s analogy of the Cross as the Devil’s mousetrap.

  

And this angel from the north transept portal of the cathedral of Saint-Lazare at Autun. Named for Lazarus – Christ’s friend raised from the dead in a miracle. It is the season of celebrating memories of the dead – Halloween, Dia de los Muertos  – decorations and altars are all around the city.

 

   

Celebrating Dia de los Muertos at El Museo del Barrio.  
 

How will you celebrate the holiday or honor your dead?

I leave you with “Lady Lazarus” by Sylvia Plath
I have done it again.   

One year in every ten   

I manage it——
A sort of walking miracle, my skin   

Bright as a Nazi lampshade,   

My right foot
A paperweight,

My face a featureless, fine   

Jew linen.
Peel off the napkin   

O my enemy.   

Do I terrify?——
The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?   

The sour breath

Will vanish in a day.
Soon, soon the flesh

The grave cave ate will be   

At home on me
And I a smiling woman.   

I am only thirty.

And like the cat I have nine times to die.
This is Number Three.   

What a trash

To annihilate each decade.
What a million filaments.   

The peanut-crunching crowd   

Shoves in to see
Them unwrap me hand and foot——

The big strip tease.   

Gentlemen, ladies
These are my hands   

My knees.

I may be skin and bone,
Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.   

The first time it happened I was ten.   

It was an accident.
The second time I meant

To last it out and not come back at all.   

I rocked shut
As a seashell.

They had to call and call

And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.
Dying

Is an art, like everything else.   

I do it exceptionally well.
I do it so it feels like hell.   

I do it so it feels real.

I guess you could say I’ve a call.
It’s easy enough to do it in a cell.

It’s easy enough to do it and stay put.   

It’s the theatrical
Comeback in broad day

To the same place, the same face, the same brute   

Amused shout:
‘A miracle!’

That knocks me out.   

There is a charge
For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge   

For the hearing of my heart——

It really goes.
And there is a charge, a very large charge   

For a word or a touch   

Or a bit of blood
Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.   

So, so, Herr Doktor.   

So, Herr Enemy.
I am your opus,

I am your valuable,   

The pure gold baby
That melts to a shriek.   

I turn and burn.

Do not think I underestimate your great concern.
Ash, ash—

You poke and stir.

Flesh, bone, there is nothing there——
A cake of soap,   

A wedding ring,   

A gold filling.
Herr God, Herr Lucifer   

Beware

Beware.
Out of the ash

I rise with my red hair   

And I eat men like air.
Sylvia Plath, “Lady Lazarus” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 1960, 1965, 1971, 1981 by the Estate of Sylvia Plath. Editorial matter copyright © 1981 by Ted Hughes. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Source: Collected Poems (HarperCollins Publishers Inc, 1992)

A Room of One’s Own

It’s been a long time since I read Virginia Woolfe – probably time to dip into her writings again.

Below are images of my favorite period room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. If only it was my own room. I adore the soft blue that is so calming mixed with the playful floral motifs and the golden accents framing every panel. The alcove seems the perfect place to read and contemplate and with a small desk on the opposite side for writing. A perfect tiny world!

   
  

This tiny but precious paneling lined boudoir walls were created for Louis-Marie-Augustin, fifth duc d’Aumont (1709 – 1782). The room was in an unfinished townhouse he rented in 1776 that was constructed for the builder Louis-François Trouard (1729 – 1794 ) and designed by Jacques-Ange Gabriel (1698 – 1782) standing in what is now the place de la Concorde in Paris. The interior design was the work of the architect Pierre- Adrien Pâris. Only six years later the hôtel was purchased by François-Félix-Dorothée des Balbes de Berton, comte de Crillon (1748 – 1820) remaining in their family until the early 20th century.

And speaking of hotels, but not the private townhouse type in Paris, this weekend I am staying at The Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee for my step-sister’s wedding here. Gorgeous painted ceilings and very ornate furnishings throughout the older portion of hotel. Be sure to visit even if just for a look if you’re in downtown Milwaukee.