LABASH 2018 at Penn State

I finally have the time to write some new blog posts! Woo! The end of the semester is quickly approaching! Tomorrow is my final presentation for my studio in Baltimore which is very exciting! Not so exciting? We have to leave at 6 AM (That is early for college students). I guess that’s not as bad as waking up at 3:30 AM to board the plane back to Pittsburgh (But you’ll hear about that in a later post). There are going to be many posts coming your way, but let’s start where I think I left off.

LABASH 2018

Wow! What an insane weekend. And tiring. very tiring. It was basically two full days of presentations and workshops by professionals in our field. And boy did we score some professional professionals. In terms of notoriety, we had a lot. Gina Ford, Susannah Drake, Ken Smith, David Rubin, Claudia West. Lots of important people. And its so strange that they are all here in not-that-exciting-compared-to-the-fancy-cities-they-work-in State College, Pennsylvania. I’m not going lie, part of me wondered what kind of incentives they had to come here. But regardless, it was exciting. The opening ceremony was at the State Theatre and I got to see my logo displayed on the big screen which was supremely cool.

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I also got to design the pin! (remember that?) it looks like this:

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So Logan decided to make a giant wooden seal of my design to display all weekend:

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He is quite a character!

He also helped make this awesome palette wall:

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I couldn’t resist a handstand

The weekend consisted of listening to lectures and running around looking busy and getting shooed away by people more important than I haha.

also notice how all the volunteers had bright green shirts. We were referred to as the green shirts all weekend which then got truncated to ‘the shirts’.

After that was over I finally had time to relax right?

WRONG. (See next blog post)

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Baltimore Site Visit

On February 1st, my studio went on a site visit to the Johnston Square neighborhood in Baltimore. We talked with the Parks & People foundation and residents about the area and design opportunities. It was awesome to listen to how passionate residence are about the neighborhood and I am super excited to design something that they might be able to use! After our meeting, we walked around the neighborhood. Here are some pics:

Career Fair

Two weeks ago was the Stuckeman School Career Fair. AKA the Most stressful, social-anxiety causing situation of my ’emerging professional’ life. At least they talk to me now that I’m a 4th year and not a 1st year. Anyway, it’s basically a bunch of important professionals standing around studio next to informational posters waiting for us to come up and ask about their firm. I really am not a fan of initiating conversations so I would just walk slowly by until one of the people asked me what my major was. It worked out pretty well.

JMU Meet

It’s meet season! Right after career fair, I got the late car down to JMU for the first gymnastics meet of the year. It was a decent meet, nothing too exciting. But I felt it warranted a mention on the ol’ blog. I did get to do my new floor routine which was very fun!

Birds Everywhere

I took my birds out of their cage! I can’t tell if they really liked flying around my apartment but they pooped on a minimal amount of stuff and I got some cute pics!

Snow Day!

Today was a crazy and magical day, because for the first time since my freshman year, classes were canceled due to inclement weather!!! Woo! And you know what my friends and I did? Not homework. We went sledding! The hot spot for sledding is behind the baseball stadium. Super fun! Here are some pictures:

Like typical college kids, we used the classic dumpster card board sled. We also used a “flexible flyer” sled borrowed from my grandparents. See we were all smiling because we are trying not to think about how cold it was outside.

 

And all that sledding, and especially the walking back up the hill tired us all out. 🙂

Addressing the Unavoidable: The Presidential Election

Hello. I know you’ve read a lot of these types of posts. Too many? Sure. The last thing you want to read is another rant about this election and the state of our nation but, like everyone else in the US, I have something to say. I’ll try to keep this brief since I myself have a notoriously short attention span. (Note the word, try).

Before I tell you my opinion on everything, you’re gonna need to know where I’m coming from (something we often assume we understand about our counterparts in argument when we actually know very little). My name is Zoe and I’m a junior majoring in landscape architecture. I was adopted from China. I have two moms and a stunningly beautiful sister. Avoiding confrontation is one of my talents. I try really hard to stay “politically correct.” I think composting is cool and my dream house is covered in plants and solar panels and goats mow my lawn. Also, I’m a registered Democrat.

If anything I’ve said about myself so far has made you want to stop reading, that is understandable. However, it is also the reason that we are in this so-called-mess to begin with. We pick our friends, and we can generally decided what we want to see on social media. We surround ourselves with like-minded people because agreeable conversations are so much more manageable than dissonant ones. And I can’t blame anyone for this because I do it too. Every argument is a loosing battle, especially on the internet. The more you argue, the more both sides dig their heels in. No one ever changes their mind in an argument over those infamously controversial topics like gun rights, separating church and state, abortion, legalizing weed. All that happens is me and you getting angrier than we had been before. For a society that complains an awful lot about how broken we are, it seems like there are few people actively trying to fix it. Are you waiting for someone else to go first?

Remember when George Washington told us not to make political parties? Well here we are in 2016 with our divided nation and it doesn’t seem to be going super well for anyone. The sense of hate is so strong. Not just from “one side”, but from everyone. And it’s scary. I don’t support Trump, but me continuing to hate his guts and hate everyone who voted for him is not going to make a change. In fact, it just reinforces the satisfaction that those voters have for picking a candidate that opposes everything I stand for. It tells them that this stupid college yuppie claims to be “accepting” but here she is, a hypocrite denying and arguing over the fairness of this election. That perpetuates this constant cycle of assuming and misunderstanding and that is no good.

I don’t think it has to be this way. We don’t have to hug and dance in the sunshine together holding hands or any of that nonsense. But there needs to be a better understanding of each other. There needs to be a desire to understand why we believe what we do and not have to feel the need to shove our beliefs down the throats of dissenters. We immediately jump to hate when we don’t like something because being ignorant is so much easier trying to actually understand someone who has led such a drastically different existence than you. You can’t force someone to believe what you believe because their version of the truth is not yours. And that’s OK. But living to hate certain people with certain opinions is no way to live. If you are tired of all the hate, then make a change. Hate less and ask more questions. Appreciate that they are as entitled to an opinion as you are and accept it. Is it a naive hope that people will change? Or that people will learn that understanding and acceptance must reach far beyond like-minded peers? Probably. But without hope, then what are we doing here?

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Oops. This ended up much longer than I thought. Anyway, thanks for listening and be nice to one another 🙂

What Not to do at Football Game

The following message is brought to you by the Beaver Stadium student cleanup crew.

Yes, if you haven’t guess already, I had the dreaded stadium clean up a few weekends ago. Luckily for us, they ordered the wrong colored streamers for the game so there were no streamers to clean up. Haha. Anyway. No rant today. Just a few lovely pictures of the worst things you could possibly leave behind for us poor college students to clean up.

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Here you can see the contents of a typical bleacher row. This may include, but is not limited to: Empty plastic soda cups, used napkins, unused napkins, bottles of water, ponchos, french fries, wax paper wrappers, bags of chips, and uneaten nacho cheese.

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Don’t leave your open cups of hot chocolate on the stadium floor. It will inevitably spill and the push brooms we are supplied with are not good at cleaning up spills.

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Open mustard packets are one of my LEAST favorite things to clean up. The smell is just so so pungent in the most horrifying, unpleasant way. Picking them up is awful and any attempt to sweep them up causes a streak of mustard across the ground. Please throw these away.

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And please, please, PLEASE do NOT leave your bottles full of gross chewing tobacco that you so graciously spit into a bottle and not on the ground. If you partake in such a habit, have the courtesy not leave it in the stadium. Also, please no spitting directly on the ground. That is also gross.

Finally, not pictured but just as unappreciated: Shelled peanuts on the ground, spilled popcorn, soggy chicken tenders, and of course, the dreaded streamers.

Thank you for listening.

The “Canning” Experience

“Canning” is a fundraising method for Penn States “largest student-run philanthropy in the world” AKA THON (or Dance Marathon) which raises money for the Four Diamonds Foundation, an organization that supports kids and families with pediatric cancer. My passion for THON is no where near the equivalent of many of my friends who are involved much more heavily with fundraising and the like, but I still wanted to be part of the experience. The actual act of canning involves standing in front of stores with large cans that once held massive quantities of tomatoes and beans and asking people to donate money. It’s something of an experiment. What can I do to make people give us money? Does smiling really big at grumpy people make their day better or worse?

Last weekend, I went canning with the Landscape Architecture Student Society (LASS). We headed down to Columbia MD, and were hosted by the family of one of my friends. Although we arrived after dark, her family had an amazing spread of food for the 20 of us! We chatted for a while and watched Zootopia on Netflix (a great animated film by the way) and went to bed. 

 

 

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Walking down to the inner harbor to can!

After a morning breakfast, we headed out to inner harbor with our cans empty and our hearts full of dreams. Multiple events going on along the waterfront prevented us from spreading out as much as we wanted to but we made due. We brought Bluetooth speakers, costumes, and of course I brought my ukulele! It was fun to play for the people passing by. Some of them would smile or kinda bob to the music. Lots of people donated money. It felt rude to be asking people to donate. Most of our encounters were very positive but there were a few less enthusiastic people but nobody particularly unpleasant.It’s definitely fascinating to hear people explain why they are or aren’t giving money. “I was a dancer in THON!” (She gave us a sizable donation) or “If you were wearing an Ohio State tshirt I would give you a thousand bucks!” (He didn’t give us money).

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Us doing the canning thing.

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Some weird guy.

 

After 8 hours, we packed up and reconvened at the house for dinner and money counting. 

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Counting the money

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Playing the card game Saboteur.

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Our THON chair heroically crashing on the couch after a long, tiring day.

 

 

Day two was much shorter. Me and a few others from our group set up in front of a Panera. I didn’t play uke because it would ruin the Panera atmosphere. We didn’t stay very long since we had to get back to campus and we didn’t expect to get an appreciable amount of money from the venture. But, we did much better than we thought we would. Of course now, I don’t remember the total, but after pulling all the money together from our various canning groups, we reached somewhere in the range of $1,400! Not too shabby for a rag-tag gang of larchies!

My first canning trip was a wonderful experience and definitely rewarding and I’m super glad that I went, even though I let a bunch of work pile up over the last weekend. And those LASS people are pretty awesome too!

Actual Designing

Hello again! I am back from break but it really feels like I never left. Here is a lovely add on that my friend wrote on my little dry erase board:

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Nice.

After weeks and weeks and weeks of site analysis, we are finally getting in to designing our CSL Site. Did I tell you about the project we’ve been working on all semester? I’m not sure but I may have forgotten to mention it because it’s been SO MUCH site analysis. (Side note to anyone who is a landscape architect, I DO understand the importance of site analysis and its necessary function in actually beginning design by understanding different relationships and qualities of the surrounding envrionment, but there’s just SO MUCH!). Anyway, Our CSL site is a small campus with 4 buildings on a bigger plot of land that’s a ways behind the arboretum.

Our little campus is part of a big master plan of the site that will have orchards, a vegetable garden, and some big farm fields, as well as forest and prairie restoration, Obviously, this is all theoretical. Here is the no-so-beautiful master plan that I currently have for my site.

Just kidding, I didn’t take a photo and I think you can probably carry on with your life without ever seeing it.

And this is the 5-acre campus with the 4 buildings. Pretty nifty.

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And, North Halls has now become a full-fledged construction zone. Wooo. (That was sarcasm, it actually sucks). There is way too much noise and activity in our usually quite little part of campus. The entire parking lot is blocked off so no one can use it as a short cut, or park in there. Move out day will be terrible. Also, while the parking lot is being turned into another dorm, the ugliest unfinished water tower ever is being constructed behind Stuckeman as I type. The once lovely view of Hort Woods and such is an ugly mess of welding. There are fences everywhere. I hate it.

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I saw a very sad thing the other day coming home from gymnastics practice:

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Doesn’t that just make you weep? Ah.

Aaanyways, Happy Spring!2016-03-26 18.46.57