When I first saw the list of 52 books, I figured I could do it in a year. Averaging one book per week – pretty simple, right? As I began to work my way through the list, I began to see that I couldn’t just start at #1 and work my way through in numerical order. For starters, I wanted to save the book set during Christmas for, well, December. I read the books that were difficult to obtain or more specific first, and now I’m left with an interesting mix of literature to cross off my list: a book based entirely on its cover, a book with bad reviews… and that Christmas book I will end up reading sometime in August.
I am very nearly finished with the reading list I’ve adopted – I’m averaging 1.4 books per week! – only time will tell if and how I choose books will change forever. But I probably won’t write any more haiku reviews about them, so enjoy them while they last.
I found a list online of 50 types of books – 52 books in total (a trilogy only counts as one) – designed to get readers out of their comfort zones. I had the bright idea to read 1 book every week and check off every criteria on the list by the end of December 31, 2015. As someone who usually gravitates towards mysteries and memoirs, I was excited to try out genres like graphic novels, a book originally written in another language, or a book with magic or nonhuman characters.
So far, I am ahead of schedule: I’m working on book #28 – a book that became a movie. I’ve crafted more responses and reviews in haiku form, because, as the old chatterbox Polonius said, “brevity is the soul of wit.”
I found a list of 50 criteria designed to expand your “reading comfort zone” – genres and authors I wouldn’t otherwise pick up, different formats like plays and graphic novels, and old books that might have been forgotten. I decided to turn this reading list into my 2015 “To Do” list, and I’ve been working my way through it since January 1st. Here are some select reviews from the books I read during January and February.
Our world is changing, and with 82% of the population living in cities, how we design and build our cities should be changing too. At this point, we need drastic measures that reverse the effects of years of planetary neglect. The Living Building Challenge, developed by the International Living Future Institute, is a rigorous set of building, material and operations criteria that result in beautiful, contemporary net zero energy projects. Only five buildings worldwide have achieved certification so far, but over 190 additional projects are in some sort of design, building or operation phase. And Seattle is pioneering net zero energy in a new way.
It’s impossible to deny that Seattle is at the forefront of sustainable building design in the US. Although there are more than 500 LEED-certified buildings in the city, LEED only lessens the damage of large construction projects. More developers are aiming for a Living Building Challenge, which creates net-zero buildings (and Seattle already has twice the number of certified projects than most other US cities). In order to reach these ambitious goals, integrated design is becoming increasingly important to the building process. Many investors see it as a serious commitment of both money and time, a commitment they are often unwilling to make. But Seattle’s variety of green buildings prove that integrated design produces structures that are economic, environmental, and enjoyable to work in.
Susan Szenasy has been the editor in chief of Metropolis magazine, a New York-based publication devoted to world design and architecture, for almost 30 years. She is an internationally recognized authority on sustainability and design, and sits on the board of organizations like the Council for Interior Design Accreditation and the Landscape Architecture Foundation. Susan recently came to Seattle to share a dialogue with an interested audience at an overflowing Seattle Design Festival event at Cornish College. I had an opportunity to sit down with Susan the morning after the event and hear a bit more about why she thinks the next big thing in art and architecture will come out of Seattle.
Twisp is a mountain community of workers relying on their hands and the natural resources around them, and has been since it was founded in 1897. The entire Methow Valley is full of people creating new things, both out of necessity and inspiration. When the historic Forest Service headquarters was decommissioned in 2002, the Twisp neighborhood had strong ideas about what should be done with the building vacant. They wanted to honor the site’s past and its significance to local history and industry, but use the space for a new project that will help Twisp look forward.
“Mostly we wanted to make something that the public can benefit by, that is able to give back to the community,” says a former local Forest Ranger, “If it couldn’t be a ranger station, I think [TwispWorks] is the next best option.”
Northwest Open Access Network (NoaNet) is changing how Washington residents surf the web. Metropolitan cities like Seattle and Bellevue have long had access to broadband connections, enabling the Pacific Northwest to stay at the forefront of many existing and emerging industries. However, through an infusion of nearly $140 million in federal grants from the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), NoaNet is adding 1,000 miles of broadband all across the state. This expansive project, one of the largest in the country, will bring reliable, high-speed Internet to nearly 2,000 hospitals, libraries, schools and universities in rural Washington communities.
Kids love gross things. It’s one of those constants in life that you can depend on like clockwork, like taxes or shoppers behaving like inhuman monsters at Black Friday sales. But Bertschi School in Seattle (also my alma mater) uses this fact to their advantage in their new Living Science Building, which is changing how kids learn about the world they stand to inherit.
During the summer of 2006 after graduating high school in Seattle, I traveled to Uganda with a group that was a neutral combination of church and school: a group of teachers at a religious primary school had previously visited the country, along with a university professor, a pastor and congregation members, a nun and 4 students from my high school. We spent a month distributing donated medical supplies directly to hospitals and schools, which are run by the Sisters of the Daughters of Mary nuns. These are a handful of my favorite photographs from that trip.