…architecture and community/sustainability

Houses of the Future – The Atlantic (November 2009).

curtis-architecture-new-orleans-wide
NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 24: 1631 Tennessee Street - Photos of New Orleans Houses photographed for Atlantic Monthly on August 24, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images for Atlantic Monthly)

This is a link to an intriguing article I read on Monday in the November 2009 issue of The Atlantic.  Several things were interesting to me.

In particular are the comments sprinkled throughout the article that pertain to remembering, re-building, nurturing , and sustaining community and the role that is playing in the architecture on the homes being built.  One interesting section describes features of some of the traditional homes of New Orleans…tall ceilings (“allow residents to live below the worst of the summer heat”); shotgun cottages lack hallways (“allowing for efficient cross-ventilation in every room”); transoms (“make the walls porous and keep the air moving”).  Michael Mehaffy, Executive Director of Sustasis, says “What we’re learning is that these traditions are not just fashions.  They’re rooted in the real adaptive evolution of a place.”  Such an observation requires living in a place and listening to its voices.

An observation by Andres Duany, co-founder of the Congress for New Urbanism, was particularly insightful:

“When I originally thought of New Orleans, I was conditioned by the press to think of it as an extremely ill-governed city, full of ill-educated people, with a great deal of crime, a great deal of dirt, a great deal of poverty,” said Duany, who grew up in Cuba. “And when I arrived, I did indeed find it to be all those things. Then one day I was walking down the street and I had this kind of brain thing, and I thought I was in Cuba. Weird! And then I realized at that moment that New Orleans was not an American city, it was a Caribbean city. Once you recalibrate, it becomes the best-governed, cleanest, most efficient, and best-educated city in the Caribbean. New Orleans is actually the Geneva of the Caribbean.  …All the do-goody people attempting to preserve the culture are the same do-gooders who are raising the standards for the building of houses, and are the same do-gooders who are giving people partial mortgages and putting them in debt,” he said. “They have such a profound misunderstanding of the culture of the Caribbean that they’re destroying it. The heart of the tragedy is that New Orleans is not being measured by Caribbean standards. It’s being measured by Minnesota standards.”

As someone who grew up in south Louisiana near New Orleans, this is the first time I’ve heard that description of the city…frankly, it rings true.  Much damage is done to culture, place, community in the name of progress or good intentions.  Duany came by his observations by living in New Orleans and walking the streets, talking to people who love the place.  Brad Pitt, of all people, has bought a home in the city and is an integral part of the “high design” Make It Right development in the lower 9th ward.  Again, grew to love New Orleans, moved there, spends time there and becomes part of the solution.  (from the article, “BRAD PITT FOR MAYOR t-shirts are not uncommon around town.”)

The writer of the article quotes Steve Mouzon speaking to a group of contractors and architects: “The very core of sustainability can be found in a simple question: ‘Can it be loved?'”  Ultimately, that will be hinge of success in the rebuilding of New Orleans.  Wayne Curtis closes his article with, “The past here has much to inform the future, not just for New Orleans, but for an entire country that needs to rethink the way it designs its cities and homes.  New Orleans won’t be rushed—it never is—but the chances are good that whatever results here will be loved.”

Christianity 21

I wanted to go to Christianity 21 but decided to spend money to go to the Jurgen Moltmann Theological Conversation instead…and it was an awesome and formative experience for me (and also sent me scurrying off to buy/read some more Moltmann books).

However, the Christianity 21 thing has stuck with me…particularly after reading/watching some of the responses of folk who were able to attend. The thing that profoundly occurs to me in these responses is how much more is said about the space created by the event to “be” …be followers of Jesus…be in community…be who attendees were created to be. I was struck particularly by 3 comments in the video above:

  • Nadia Bolz-Weber says, …and then there are those evangelicals who have discovered the liturgy, which is…adorable”…One, Nadia is hilarious and profound (check out her book). Much of the energy I have felt in the various emergent type meetings I’ve been privileged to attend has centered around such rediscovery of my tradition and the traditions of others who are also attempting to follow God in the way of Jesus.
  • “We are more often than not people of doubt, who have beliefs than people of faith, who have moments of doubts.” TOO TRUE!!! I believe our getting this bass ackwards in our church “communities” is probably the biggest barrier to authentic community we face.
  • The elderly man toward the end of the video… “This weekend has been something my heart and soul has been waiting for for 38 years…I wanted to go to heaven when I was 75, my password on the computer is heaven75.  I lived 4 more years, I now I know why!” Is that not an amazing statement?  I’m immediately reminded of Simeon (Luke 2:25-35) who waited with great expectation for “the consolation of Israel”…and upon seeing the infant Jesus proclaimed,

29“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you now dismiss[a] your servant in peace.
30For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
32a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.”

I’m certain this cannot be written off cynically as just another over-hyped event.  There is something going on here among us.  I for one want to be a part of it.  It has nothing to do with being hip and cool.  It has everything to do with rediscovering the joy of my salvation.

examination…

photo my Mike Young, on the grounds of Ignatius House, Atlanta (March 2008)
photo by Mike Young, on the grounds of Ignatius House, Atlanta (March 2008)

I rediscovered this “examine” received while attending a Five Day Academy for Spiritual Formation in March of 2008.  I thought I would post it here.  I found it to be very thought provoking.  (I am unsure of the source)

Examination…The Lord’s Prayer throughout the Day…

Our Father in heaven

  • When did you sense the greatest intimacy with God?

Hallowed be your name

  • When were you most aware of how unique and different God is?

Your Kingdom come

  • When and how did you see the kingdom making itself real?

Your will be done on earth

  • When were you most alive?

Give us this day our daily bread

  • When were you given bread?
  • When did you share bread?

Forgive us our sins

  • When were you most aware of sin and the desire to end your relationship with it?
  • When were you a part of the problem, rather than light toward a solution?

As we forgive those who sin against us

  • When were you forgiving or an agent of forgiveness?

Lead us not into temptation

  • When did you feel God’s guiding and defining action?

Deliver us from evil

  • When did you feel God protecting you from evil in yourself and without?

For the kingdom, power, and glory are yours

  • When did you sense or confess it is about God?

Forever

  • When were you most aware of eternal realities or the Eternal?

Amen…