Summer Travels 2011…(7)

Ive been having trouble finding an internet connection quick enough to upload the video blogs, so I may have to resort to writing for a while…

Today was another pivotal day in terms of operations in the studio. I feel like I’m a step closer to understanding the different methodologies at play, especially the ‘emergent’ sense-makers (mac-users, inclusive design camp, etc…), as today was the first time I say their work all together. We had an informal crit of all the work being produced by the different groups, and a walk around in which we invited thought and comments, and parallels that were emerging between different workstreams….and encouragingly people are starting to have conversations about working together.

But over the last few days an easy metaphor has revealed itself to me…

In this place where religions meet; and at face value contest; contradict; oppress and disregard each other, it is easy to draw a comparison to the ‘religion’ of design methodology. Ethnographers study language in order to understand a culture of a particular ethnographic group, particularly their system of belief and its influence on the concept of value. Here in the ‘Jerusalem Urban Resilience Design Studio’, due to an unfortunate lack of hierarchy resulting from IPCCs inexperience of running these workshops, a number of ‘religions’ have emerged as various individuals resort to processes and epistemologies that they know. Various ways of designing, that value different things, have come to clash with each other when they should be complimentary…a situation exacerbated by the reality confronted by participants upon arrival, of a weak brief, confusing professional expectations, dynamic and extensive participant base, and highly charged context. For me, joining late, and remaining somewhat of an objective outsider, the parallels that can be drawn to the situation surrounding Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories are partly amusing, and partly a cause for serious concern about our ability, as a group, to deliver something of value in this project.

However, todays ‘crit’, however informal, went someway towards bridging the gap in communication. I am learning a great deal about design psychology, and have been praised for my ‘diplomacy’ since Ive arrived – as an outsider, Ive found that my own natural resort in the face of confusion was to dive into organisation, data management, and the understanding and communication of what the apparent ‘religions’ of design methodology were from my point of view. A certain amount of babblefish-ing lead in part to the progressive events seen today in the studio, and of this I am a little proud, even though I remain frustrated by the lack of a ‘quick win’ contribution I can make in terms of design in the limited time we have remaining.

One day remains of this week, before the final few weeks of our project, which finishes on the 12thAugust. As our ‘positive grey’ period draws to a close, and we look towards developing our work into tangible proposals, I remain hopeful that we can come together as a group and leave the IPCC with something of serious worth in their continuing struggle for Palestinian land rights and freedom of existence in the face of Israeli occupation.

The 'other' room, where they are pursuing a methodology of looking and investigating the site, producing a sensitive analysis on what is there in order to inform any proposal. I think I'd be much more at home in this group, but they definitely come across as exclusive...it seems I was too late to join to be a part of this process.

My room...as in where Ive been working...where we've been concentrating on a study of typology and organisational grid, alongside a strategy for mediating landownership to achieve those things incrementally over time. Its been difficult...

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Filed under Real World, Summer 2011, Thoughts

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