CHANGE OBSERVER : JONATHAN SCHULTZ
A budgetary initiative that began last year in Indonesia does not stray from the U.S. Census Bureau’s methods or aims. Yet its unique, design-led approach has engaged citizens at all levels of society, yielding a clear-eyed assessment of actionable budgetary items for 2011 as well as a graphics-rich profile of a society.
PLACES : MAX PAGE AND PAUL JOHANSEN
"From the Northwest Ordinance (which laid out the square-mile grid that structured settlement west of the Mississippi) to the McMillan Plan (which created the National Mall), from Greek revival houses to Victorian homes, from City Beautiful parkways to mental institutions and prisons, American architecture has pursued national ideals through the organization of space for public and private life." Here historian Max Page and photographer Paul Johansen document two impressive instances of this pursuit: Eastern State Penitentiary and Charles Street Jail. These monuments to prison reform have found new uses — as a tourist attraction and a luxury hotel — but as Page notes, we continue, even in lean times, to invest in prisons, and "they threaten to be among the major public landmarks of our age."
OBSERVATORY : ANDY CHEN
Part of the solution lies in creating images that redefine the very way sexual orientation is understood and discussed. Despite the advances we have made, homosexuality is still portrayed as something alien or pathological to mainstream sexuality. This “otherness” is the basis on which discriminatory attitudes are built and sustained and where designers play a significant role in engaging the struggle for LGBT rights.
CHANGE OBSERVER : PHOTO BY TASLIMA AKHTER
Garment worker Najma Akhter, 23, shares a room with her children, parents and siblings — 11 family members in all. Dhaka, Bangladesh, August 2009.
PLACES : HILLARY BROWN
With mid-term elections fast approaching, one big-scale issue that has gone missing is the troubling condition of U.S. infrastructure. As architect Hillary Brown notes, "A public that has misconstrued a short-term stimulus as a long-range solution seems more focused on shrinking government than on endorsing investments in 21st-century infrastructure." But the national-interest need to maintain and adapt crucial power, transportation and safety networks will not go away. Brown, former assistant commissioner of New York City's Department of Design and Construction, and founder of its Office of Sustainable Design, lays out several principles to guide the construction of greener and more efficient infrastructure.
OBSERVATORY : MARIAN BANTJES & JESSICA HELFAND
"Ultimately I am overjoyed with the cover. From the very beginning I had planned to have gold-foiled page edges and I always wanted it to feel like a brick of gold. It does! The book is surprisingly heavy for its small size and it's not only shiny and flashy, but the feel of the satin is gorgeous: it's very sensuous. And visually it's so very me: familiar in a historical way, but also contemporary."
Marian Bantjes exposes the long process that led to the cover of her new monograph, I Wonder
OBSERVATORY : JOHN FOSTER
Welcome to Accidental Mysteries, a weekly cabinet of curiosities set aside for your perusal and enlightenment.
OBSERVER MEDIA : DEBBIE MILLMAN
In this audio interview with Debbie Millman, Tina Roth Eisenberg discusses her blog, sharing her life with her readers, things that make her smile, four-letter names, crowd sourcing, living and working in Brooklyn, Creative Mornings and the beauty found in ordinary things.
CHANGE OBSERVER: PROJECT ARCHIVE
Report on a design-oriented sysem for providing information about community resources in Indonesia as an aid for budgeting.