Healthy People: Materials Science & Human Health

Materials Matter is a five-session series from the AIA Seattle chapter that delivers comprehensive, high-level knowledge and strategies for assessing and selecting healthy, sustainable materials. I had the opportunity to attend the first run of the newly-developed series with many of the local industry leaders who helped create the innovative course materials. AIA Seattle is currently hosting the series for a second time.

The series encompasses everything tied to building materials and how they impact our lives: human health, the tools and data available for assessing and prioritizing materials, and strategies for integrating informed decision-making into projects and practice. Join me as I discover exactly why Materials Matter.

AIA MM 2

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Healthy Planet: Materials & the Environment

Materials Matter is a five-session series from the AIA Seattle chapter that delivers comprehensive, high-level knowledge and strategies for assessing and selecting healthy, sustainable materials. I had the opportunity to attend the first run of the newly-developed series with many of the local industry leaders who helped create the innovative course materials. AIA Seattle is currently hosting the series for a second time.

The series encompasses everything tied to building materials and how they impact our lives: human health, the tools and data available for assessing and prioritizing materials, and strategies for integrating informed decision-making into projects and practice. Join me as I discover exactly why Materials Matter.

AIA MM 1

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Girl Power

On Saturday, January 21, I joined 5 million other people worldwide for the Women’s March. In over 80 countries, on every continent, women and men marched peacefully in solidarity for women’s and LGBTQ right, health care, immigration, the environment and racial justice. Although I’ll try not to contribute overly to a political confirmation-bias echo chamber, it was an incredibly powerful movement to be a part of; Seattle alone had 175,000 attendees of all ages, nationalities and lifestyles. To march with the strong women in my life, my allies, my community and my parents gives me hope. The overwhelming feeling of love, acceptance and courage is exactly what I need right now.

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What Are You Drinking?

Seattle is the biggest small city (or the smallest big city, if you prefer) that I’ve ever encountered. I’ve traveled all over the world and seen people and things that connect back to the Pacific Northwest: a bartender in the British Virgin Islands who went to O’Dea High School on First Hill, or the schoolboy in Uganda wearing a Mariner’s baseball cap, or a KEXP t-shirt in a small Irish coastal town. This urban identity of home-grown grown up is presenting an odd comparison of local vs. big business, similar to “green washing” in the building industry – the act of appearing local and independent rather than actually being so.

When you go to the store, you’ll be hard pressed to find a product that is owned by the company on the packaging. Unilever, Nestle, Johnson & Johnson and a small handful of other companies own almost everything on the grocery shelves of national chains. Many local companies in the Seattle area are truly independent; some started that way, then got bought by larger companies but continue to perpetuate their former grass-roots identity. This is especially prevalent in Seattle’s two favorite beverages: coffee and beer.

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NIMBY? Maybe. (Part Two)

Two months ago, a homeless camp opened up to 100 residents just two blocks from where I live. Since then, I have been taking note of how my community is changing. Some of these events may or may not be the result of the new encampment (either directly or indirectly) – this is just what I’ve seen firsthand.

February 21: Mayor Ed Murray announces that the location of the third homeless camp will be in Rainier Valley, exactly 2 blocks south of my apartment. Read the Seattle Times article here.

March 6: Someone has fastened large hand-drawn letters to the chain link fence that spell out “WELCOME NEIGHBORS.” Several days later, the wind and rain have removed most of the letters.

March 8: Driving home from work, I see the first person of the tent city – a person sitting at a folding table under a large white tent at the entrance.

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NIMBY? Maybe. (Part One)

On February 21st, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced that Rainier Valley would be the location of the third tent city encampment to accommodate the fallout from the Great Nickelsville Diaspora, after the first two Ballard and Interbay locations opened in November 2015. The Low Income Housing Institute received a permit to set up 12 small houses and 33 tents on an empty lot on Martin Luther King, Jr. Way South near the the Othello Light Rail station.

Many of the residents are pushing back against this new neighborhood feature, saying that they had no input in the location of the homeless camp, and that it will negatively impact the nearby schools and parks. I live just two blocks north of this new tent city, so I get front-row seats to how the influx of homeless will change the Rainier Valley landscape.

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Hometown Heroes of Seattle (Part Two)

“Who are Seattle’s hometown heroes? In many ways they are just like you and me. They walk the same city streets, with grand visions and dreams etched in their minds. They put on their shoes one at a time, then inspire us with their giant strides.”

These words adorn a bronze plaque in downtown Seattle, on the side of the flagship Nordstrom store. Growing up in the area, I’ve passed it many times, as well as the footprints of these “giant strides” from iconic Seattle entrepreneurs, politicians and artists – many of whom, like Olympian Apolo Ohno and baseball star Ken Griffey Jr., are pretty well known to people outside the Pacific Northwest. But as someone who has lived in Seattle for nearly my entire life (minus 7 years or so), there were some hometown heroes that even I hadn’t heard of!

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