two important things to help

a few of things suck right now:

1. the massive earthquake in haiti.

that fuckin’ sucks. the place is in a total mess, millions of people are dead, dying, wounded, grieving, homeless, desperate, scared and isolated.

i’ve done two important things to help: given extra money to medecins sans frontieres to help with medical supplies and staff (they’re my particular favourite charity, but i’m sure you’ve all got yours that you give money to regularly);

shown gratitude for my amazing life. it seems not quite right to whinge about stuff when there are others who are having a gnarly time of it right now.

2. the tote is closing down.

The Tote, Collingwood, Victoria.

ok, read that bit again, above, where i say that it’s hard to whinge, etc.

i realise that the tote hasn’t collapsed in on itself and collingwood isn’t the epicentre of an earthquake. but, on a local scale, this sucks and i just have to write about it.

for those who don’t know melbourne, the tote hotel is a pub and music venue that has been in the back streets of working-class melbourne for the last 30 years or so. it has been a consistent supporter of underground music that whole time – hosting a ridiculous amount of local and international acts, not to mention people, that has helped make melbourne the kind of place that it is.

my favourite Tote Quote is from an old friend, Ray Ahn:

“I always liked the Tote because it has always been full of good looking well dressed people with immaculate taste. I felt honoured to be among such rock n roll illuminaries. As a Sydneysider I always felt under dressed and daggy there but I always learnt something from there whether it be a sideburn here, a pointy boot there.

And the pinball machine instead of poker machines (Sydney pubs are full of one armed bandits and as an oriental, I can never resist them) is a classy touch.

Well done Tote and thank you”

the state government, in their enlightened crack-down on drunk fuckheads, has decided that, because there have been brawls between bouncers and bogans in the CBD, that a pub with a license until 2am in collingwood (about 10kms away) is deemed ‘high risk’ and needs a heftier licence. one more like the ridiculously unsafe, but state-supported casino has. which costs a ridiculous amount of money and which has forced the owners to close.

i don’t know a lot about running a pub, but i know a fair bit about alcoholism and violence. believe me, the tote is not the cause of violence in the city. this weekend is the last weekend and there is pretty much a round-the-clock vigil-type atmosphere happening.

i’ll be doing two important things to help: writing to my local MP (not to mention posting a blog) and voicing my displeasure; and then going to the pub and paying my respects/showing my solidarity. for a place that has supported my musical taste, created a safe place for me (a single, white female) to go out late at night and shown commitment to music culture in melbourne.

3. police search powers have increased.

due to said crack-down on drunk fuckheads, police powers to search without a warrant have been extended to include ‘blitzes’ on geographical areas that have a history of violence, including ‘train stations and city blocks’.

these blitzes are only allowed to be 12 hours’ long and must be ‘advertised’ 7 days in advance, but they still provide cops with a blanket search.

this means that there is no specific suspicion of illegal activity – they’re looking for weapons and drugs across the board, just in case. it’s like a pre-emptive strike for civility. and i can tell you, they’re not going to be racially profiling anyone. nope, not our victorian police.

and when did this new law get passed? 16th december. that’s right kids, when all the politicians are home having christmas with their kids, or overseas getting the fuck out for a while.

i’m going to do two important things: write about it (tick). as an artist in public, i’m concerned about my right to actually be in public. you know, without an assumption of guilt; then i’m going leave this country for a while. not yet, but soon. it’s all getting a bit weary, so i’m going to go to an ex-nazi state to get away from this proto-nazi state.

i also wanted to write about the lempriere being swallowed sculpture by the sea, but that can wait.

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx

summer of design books

ben from noisy decent graphics has opened up his blog for reviews of design books.

it’s summer there right now so of course everyone in london has plenty of time to read the stack of books that gather on the bedside table, while gettings tans and sipping pimms.

i don’t have such luxury, but i stumbled on a cool book the other day that i wanted to review anyway, so thought i would do so here and for ben’s books (also a great bookstore in bentleigh, in case you were asking).

Designed Maps
Cynthia Brewer

i’ve become a bit of a fan of maps. since i did some travel around europe last year i realised that there’s a definite art to developing that little valuable set of codes and indicators that will (when it comes to tourist maps) be mauled like it’s a baby’s dummy (pacifier for those NYC peeps). so when i walked into my trust RMIT library and saw this on the ‘just released’ shelf, i thought i’d check it.

and actually it’s pretty cool! it’s for GIS Users, which I’m not. and it is probably the geekiest thing i have ever thought was cool (aside from twitter). But i did enjoy checking out the difference between an infrastructure map, topographical map, tourist map and geo-political map. i know, it’s kind of obvious, but when they’re all together, and when each of those ones has a variety of scale, colour, type, etc, it’s quite an interesting lesson in design and visual heirarchy:

Book deets:
Title: Designed maps : a sourcebook for GIS users / Cynthia A. Brewer.
Author: Brewer, Cynthia A., 1960-
Item ID: 31259009136388
Call #: 526.0285 B758
Publisher: ESRI Press.

OK, so it may not be the next hit wonder on the ‘must read’ list, but if you’re into design, urban design, drawing, mapping, place – whatever, then it’s an interestingl little book to check out.

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx

art in the public space lectures

today was a mega day and i’m pretty close to catatonic, but i thought i would just put up a few little notes:

beatriz maturana – urban designer

started off with an interesting discussion about the urbane, urban design and its theories and contradictions. considering that conversing with urban space and the design of that urbanity is going to be a huge chuck of what it means to be practicing in the public space, this lecture could have been broken up into two separate ones. in fact, i would have been quite taken with a whole dicussion about pavements/footpaths as signifiers – both aesthetically and then in terms of wayfinding. but hey.

other things i got:

elements of the city:

from richard sennett:

design considerations:

robustness (which interestingly she discussed as a further process to flexibility of cities, an idea that mr hill mentioned)
personalisation (appropriation – different to appropriateness)

[and 3 others which i wrote down but left the trusty moleskine at uni]

open space
usually the absense of a building in the shape of a city block or other shape within the system of the city (court or circus), but something like fed square is completely different again. most were in consensus that FedSq could have been bad, but is now actually quite a good example of public open space.

cut short a discussion on what a good urban space is. and of course i had to tell everyone about the group that dan and russell set up: ‘best urban spaces’ flickr pool.

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx

the rubbish around the edges

Unofficially, I’ve been accepted into a post grad course on public art next year. I’m really excited about it and have already been sucking up some great architecture/planning info and discovering new places to waste my time (here, here, here and here); thinking about structure and ‘spatial relationships’ and hopping from one foot to the other in anticipation.

As well as all that, I’ve been thinking about environmental and sustainability issues and how important good, or more specifically smart design is to helping combat some of the destructive things we’ve been doing to our planet.

[for an excellent post on the benefit of design in environmental sustainability, read ben terrett’s presentation from applied green..]

I also recently did the fantastic WWF footprint calculation and was appalled to realise that I’m living like we’ve got 3.5 planets to live off. As they gently reminded me, we’ve only got one so i better do something about it.

While I know that I can do a lot to reduce my impact, most of it had to do with things that are outside my usual pattern of operating (2 x 21 hour plane trips plus a couple of trips within europe will do that) and I wanted to plead: but I’m not usually like that! In actual fact, I’m petrified at what state this planet will be in within the next 20 years, because I know that, for all the talk, there are still only a few people really doing anything about it.

Which brings me to the main point of this post.

Most current sustainable solutions rely on the structure and habit of ‘everyday living’ to impement: you know, solar panels on your house, kerbside recycling, using public transport instead of taking the car everyday; going organic, using reduced packaging and energy-saver lightbulbs, etc, etc, etc. The good news is that for the most part, they’re pretty easy to do for your average Australian, with an average job, average wages and average lifestyle. Which is great!

But what about when you want to step outside the order of that regular life? Like, you’re travelling. Or you’re renting or renovating. Or you’re so poor you can barely afford food and electricity, let alone green power or organic vegetables. Or your workplace is sadly unenlightened and continues to fly the CBD Blaze of Glory flag. Or you’re a super-cool rockstar who lives in 5-star hotels. Or you want to actually have a social life that doesn’t include staying at home playing scrabbulous.

Trust me, it’s really hard to remain carbon-neutral in any of those things. And being a super-cool rockstar who lives in 5-star hotels, I should know.

But seriously, here’s a small case in point: the humble water-bottle.

thanks to Ooodit from flickr

I carry around a bottle of water with me, in order to a) save on packaging while keeping hydrated and b) save money. But when I go to a club, or a restaurant (as someone else blogged about recently) that water bottle gets taken away from me so that i a) maybe don’t lob it at the lead singer of a shite band and b) so that i buy the water from the venue.

Now, you might not think that matters all that much, but say each club in a city the size of London takes 10 bottles of water away from customers each night and chucks it in the bin (note: not recycled). Say 10 bottles of water, 30 clubs (being conservative), 3 nights of the week (again, conservative), 52 weeks of the year = 46800 bottles of water being thrown away. It also means that another 46800 extra bottles of water are being purchased, to replace the ones that had to be chucked. And let’s say that’s from people who are trying to be thoughtful. I don’t even want to think about the ones who couldn’t give a damn.

And don’t get me started on food wastage per night, per city, per year, per capita, otherwise I think I’ll vomit.

And that’s just a little example, using a bit of a peeve I had going on there. Which brings me back to my point – how can we step up the beat when we’re out of our rhythm? The real answer is easy: don’t eat out, don’t go out, don’t travel, don’t listen to loud music and don’t drive a car. Just don’t.
But we all know what happens when we have to be good all the time – the 1980s.

Is the only way to deal with these kind of ‘out of the ordinary’ environmental expenditure to offset them? Or is, as Sam says, carbon offsetting the morning after pill for environmental sustainability? Can’t we just start making less of an impact? Now?

I think now is a really important time for those in service positions: city planners, architects, interior designers, food industry types, educational institutions, governments and scientists to also think about how to create sustainability structures so that when we’re out of our comfort zones, or our regular rhythms, that we’re still working towards reducing our impact, almost without even knowing!

Maybe this includes re-thinking licensing laws, developing intelligent food packaging solutions (even ones that the tight-arse mums and dads running the chippie will want to purchase) or even an incentive to eat in!, MAKING PUBLIC TRANSPORT AVAILABLE AND ATTRACTIVE!!!, using proper signage (no need for useless maps!), having proper sound insulation and equipment so that you don’t need to crank the god-damned speakers until they’re bursting, etc, etc, etc.

I know that loads of people are suspicious of companies jumping on the ‘green’ marketing bandwagon, but this is more than about marketing stuff. It’s about making things green and coming to expect them to be made that way.

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx