15
Jan
13

Giving Back to your Community

What do you give back to your community? Maybe you volunteer at your local food bank, or mentor kids after school, or serve on the board of a non-profit organization.

The key to volunteerism is getting involved in something that you’re passionate about.
Although one may get an occasional pat on the back from others, most of the reward of volunteering is internal – one’s own sense that they’ve helped others, for a cause they strongly believe in, without asking for anything in return.

Giving Back in 2013
For this year, I’ve decided to give back to the community I feel most strongly a part of:
the design community. That may sound pretty abstract, but it’s not. Let me tell you why. One of the most universal themes of the human condition is the contrast of youth versus age. The former is associated with agility and speed, the latter with deliberation and wisdom. As I look with admiration to the nimbleness of recent design program graduates in producing slick imagery, I also am reminded of the accrued wisdom of real world practice. As an architect practicing for over 25 years, I’d like to offer back a distillation of some of that experience.

Recording of, and Learning From Experience
Starting with my freshman year of architecture school, I was exhorted to keep a design journal. I’m not sure how many journals and scrapbooks have accrued since then, but certainly enough to fill several filing cabinets. Looking back through some of them this past year, I was struck by how some design themes have remained quite constant through the years of education and practice, while others were momentary enthusiasms which were quickly abandoned. Through the lens of time, some patterns have become visible.

The Wisdom Project
The process of identifying these recurrent patterns has become an endeavor I refer to as “the wisdom project”. The goal of the project is to articulate the essential elements of design practice. While my experience and resulting ideas of practice are specifically shaped from the arena of architectural design, my belief is that the wisdom is rather applicable to all areas of creative endeavor. Although some of the concepts may be of use to the lone artist toiling in the garret, the emphasis is on artistic pursuits in a commercial and social context. In other words, my focus is on applied design, where clients and collaborators are an integral part of the process toward realizing a finished work of art/architecture.

A Peek Toward What’s Upcoming at axdblog
My intention therefore is, over the course of 2013, to essentially produce, in serial fashion from A to Z, a primer entitled: the wisdom project: essential elements of design practice. It is my hope that students and practitioners alike will find helpful insights to better their own artistic endeavors.

Ed Barnhart, AIA; principal, Always by Design


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