Citizen Girl

Citizen Girl CD Cover

I spend a lot of time driving… back and forth between Buffalo and Rochester (and Toronto, and Cincinnati, and Chicago, and a lot of other places…) and I use that time to catch up on business calls, and to listen to books on tape (or CD or whatever). Oddly, the books that I choose are books that I’d NEVER read otherwise, books that frankly, would never even make it on to my radar.

Every so often, I listen to a “book” that is a totally unxpected surprise. Citizen Girl is that book. It’s witty as heck, and outright funny, but really deals with some pretty serious issues in the process. Essentially, the crux is this:

Main character, “Girl” (that’s her name) works for a womyn-run womyn-powered organization that aims to support womyns rights and equality. Well, every woman BUT Girl. So after getting fired, Girl takes a job at a überhip “feminist” web company (called MyCompany) that’s run by a bunch of Football-chasing guys. The story doesn’t end there, but throughout, Girl struggles with coming to terms with the evolution of the feminist movement. There’s a particularly funny (and highly relevant) passage when Girl is conducting a focus group with a bunch of gender study majors at NYU — all of whom felt that the feminist movement was more about finding the right mascara and shoes than about equality, the glass ceilling, and the like (remember, the book is satire). Naturally, Girl is dismayed at this interaction, and the remainder of the book is about Girl’s journey to uncover what “modern feminism” is all about.

Definitely a good read (especially for guys), and definitely worth the time to seek it out.

You can check out the MyCompany website at Simon & Schuster, and read the book at Google Books.

Universal Design Presentation at the Design Exchange, Toronto

Bitterman Universal DesignThis past Thursday, I had the splendid opportunity to deliver a master class workshop on the universal design of wayfinding systems to a wonderful group of designers, policy makers, and thinkers at the Design Exchange in Toronto.

For those enrolled in the group, you will find a printed version of the Keynote slide presentation here. Bitterman Universal Design

The master class workshop is the first in a series that will be held (roughly one a month) at the Design Exchange. The entire series listing can be found here.

The Design Exchange is a true resource to designers, design academics, and those interested in design throughout North America. I’m continually impressed by their hard work and dedication to further the conversation about design, and their collective commitment to making relevant and high-quality programming and exhibitions that highlight design available to the public never ceases to amaze me. They are, truly, a hard working, can-do group. You can check out the Design Exchange online at: dx.org.

My Remarks

Following are my remarks made at the Eisenhart Awards Banquet at RIT on Tuesday 25 September 2007.

Tuesday 25 September 2007 Rochester, NY — Thank you, Stan, and Joan, and thank you Mr. and Mrs. Eisenhart for your sustained generosity and support to RIT & the RIT community. I’m honored to accept this award that you have made possible.

Too frequently the educational experience — from a very young age — is about unlearning our inherent creative abilities and ambitions. We are trained at that early age to write on the line, to color between the lines, and to stand in line and to mitigate between societal expectation and our inborn desire to innovative.

I am a trained architect. It’s often curious to me that the public perception of architects is that they “build” houses. This stereotypical image is quite incorrect. Architects don’t “build” houses, builders “build” houses. Architects are trained to observe and to reexamine systems — construction systems, social systems, and economic systems, and to forecast the vector of these integrated systems on a scale that impacts our global community. In this way, architects work to forge new paths that ensure a better life for future generations.

My students and I spend a great deal of time examining the role of the designer — not simply as someone who does, but in a professional context, as someone who is able to understand the far-reaching and integrated “big picture”.

I’m tremendously fortunate to be a member of the faculty here at RIT. We’re in a unique position at RIT — not only because we attract some of the brightest young minds, but also because we are one of the very few schools that has the cross-disciplinary strengths needed to investigate, research, and ultimately to address issues that will ultimately improve the lives of millions of people. This squarely puts RIT, its faculty and staff, its students, and alumni, in a distinct “category of one”.

We have boldly entered the 21st century. Each day, I work with the generation of designers and thinkers — that will lead us to the 22nd century. These emerging leaders understand their charge: to design — responsibly — a better, sustainable, earth-friendly future for generations to come.

There’s a story about Jackie O. She was often spotted carrying with her a little black book. It was rumoured that she marked in this book notes about the people that particularly impressed her. When Jackie passed away in 1994, boxes of little black books were found in her Manhattan apartment, filled with the names of thousands of people who had helped her along the way.

While I’m no Jackie O., I do have a number of people to thank this evening. First, my partner, Dr. Daniel Hess who — on a daily basis — encourages me to be the best teacher, and the best researcher I can be. Also, my parents, who — though they are still somewhat unclear as to what I want to do when I “grow up” have steadfastly supported me throughout my life. My incredibly nurturing and supportive colleagues — this award is as much a reflection on all of you as it is on me — , Deborah, Roger, Bruce, Neil, Rose, Debbie, Jason, Lynn, Margie, Alfreda, Sandy (name others present) you each, in your own way, make RIT a splendid place to work. I’d also like to thank my chair, Patti Lachance for her continual support and encouragement, and Dean Joan Stone for her unwavering support and guidance.

Thanks most principally, to my students, a few of whom are here today, Maury, Ashley, Ryan, Tanvi, and Paul, make it possible for me to have such an exciting and rewarding career, and with which, I truly look forward to working with you each day.

Thank you.

Mme. Beefeater

From the guardian.co.uk

11.15am
Tower of London gets first female Beefeater

Staff and agencies
Monday September 3, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

It may have taken over 500 years for feminism to breach the walls of the Tower of London, but visitors to the fortress are today being greeted by the first female Beefeater since the guards were established.
Moira Cameron, a 38-year-old from Argyll, Scotland, will serve as one of the Yeoman Warders, the body that protects the crown jewels. She will don the traditional blue-and-scarlet livery for her duties, which begin with opening the Beauchamp Tower and the Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula.

Ms Cameron has spent the past two months training intensively to learn the 21 separate duties the Beefeaters perform each day, and the ceremony of the keys. She was also required to become well versed in the history of the tower so that she can lead guided tours.
Ms Cameron is a warrant officer class two who joined the army at the age of 16. She was selected over five men who also applied for the vacancy.

Candidates must have been a warrant officer or senior noncommissioned officer, have served at least 22 years in the army, Royal Air Force or Royal Marines, and hold the medal for long service and good conduct.

As well as her salary, of around £20,000, Ms Cameron will have the use of a subsidised apartment in the tower itself.

On a day-to-day basis, she will wear the dark blue “undress uniform”, saving the £3,500 red-and-gold costume for special occasions.

The tower’s Yeoman Warders date back to 1485. They are thought to owe their nickname Beefeaters to the daily ration of meat they received.

There are 35 Yeoman Warders at the Tower of London, plus the Chief Yeoman Warder and Yeoman Gaoler.

Their full title is Yeoman Warder of Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London, and Members of the Sovereign’s Body Guard of the Yeoman Guard Extraordinary.

Christians vs. Everyone Else

Wow. It’s just a day of vs. here.

Today was the first time a Hindu cleric read the opening prayer in the US Senate. Here’s a video of it. I guess it can be filed under “do on to others as you would want done onto you”:

Perhaps the protester was inspired by the pope’s regressive comments earlier this week regarding the latin mass and the illigitamacy of the protestent churches. Busy week for religious people, all that hating other religious people and all.