The The Unemployed Graduates of Calvin's esteemed pre-architecture program


about that school thing

I figured I'd better write something about the archeworks program I've been apart of. I got into this idea of alternative design after watching the video in architecture theory & crit class about Samuel Mockbee. His Rural Studio looked so cool, I wanted to do it, or something similar. So I started researching all the different alternative design+ social need schools, and that landed me in Chicago at Archeworks.

Anyway, now Archeworks is pretty much done. A little overview of my project: The particular project that I have been working on has changed hugely over the course of the year. Initially it was about how to contact diverse and hard to reach populations during emergency situations in the city. It was a vague project description, so my group essentially had to figure out what the problem was before we could do any sort of solving/designing. We ended up focusing in on a specific neighborhood and working with two community organizations on putting together an event that dealt with neighborhood violence, especially gang violence. The idea was that there are immediate "emergencies" that need to be taken care of before any talk of possible disaster infustructure can even be addressed. So, we both helped with anti-violence stuff for this one neighborhood, and also discussed with a few city officials implementation of community organizations/non-profits as disseminators and actively respected organizations that should have good communication with the city government.

You guys should check out our website! It's

I designed the official posters... "poster" button on the "learn about the event" side of the website. They also double as stencils, which I am trying to upload an image, but it's not working right now...hmmm. okay, technical difficulties...more later...!


are you a Post Materialist?

I just ran across a term that I liked...


it's a person that spends their money on experiences rather than stuff. SO, instead of following the traditional model: 1) go to college 2) get a degree that gets you a job 3) get a job 4) begin building wealth 5) are you bored? too bad! you are going to stay at that company and make money that buys stuff for the next 30 yrs!!!! brwaaa ha hahahaa!

...instead the post materialist goes to college because they are intrigued, get a degree in the subject that intrigued them the most, then they end up working short stints at many places and quiting to travel/work on personal projects/do stuff. They don't get bored, they might tend to be slightly nomadic, hippie-ish, etc.

the Post Materialist is a new trend!



ok... so I'm just copying and posting this from my other blog (the one for my church and family). So if things aren't applicable... don't worry about it. I'm just doing this so you guys have an idea of what I'm doing in Ecuador.

Down the valley

HillsideSorry I haven't posted in a while. I've been in the office for a while and haven't done anything thats really that interesting... well... for others. I've had a good time doing stuff, but its been mostly stuff like webdesign, video editing, and other misc. tasks. I'll be posting some of the stuff I've been working on. Actually I have a video up on of one of the general presentations I'm working on. Its a video slide show that generally states what the ministry of Clean Water Projects does.

Eating BreadAbout three weeks ago I went to a community called Lirio San Gonzalo with a work team from Alaska. We were there to construct a spring capture high above the community. They were already using the spring for irrigation and a little bit for drinking water. The spring had softened and cut out a small piece of the hillside. There were plants growing in it... and the water they were getting wasn't protected from contamination in any way. Our department designed a system used to capture the water from the spring with minimal contamination. Its a process of layering semi-permeable geo-textile's to filter out particles, pvc pipes to gather the water, three types of rocks and gravel to give it support, then a non-permeable plastic sheet to keep it safe, then encase it all in concrete to protect it.

DSC_6651I learned a lot about the whole process and whats its like to be on a team. The whole community set aside every morning to work on this project. There were about 40-50 community members working each morning, 7 work team members, and 6 of us from the department. There are two guys from the department who are native Quichuan, and work for HCJB clean water projects as 'technicos,' or technicians. They are described as the best two guys in the country at spring captures. Martin accurately described it as 'an art that few people have mastered.' A lot of their success comes from being able to speak to the Quichuans in Quichua, directing 40-50 people to work together, and bring everyone together to an extremely efficient and effective building team. They cleaned out the spring, dug it back to a clear source, built up a foundations, and captured the spring. It was fun to watch it being executed. It was fun getting in there, getting muddy, tossing rocks, passing cement buckets, pouring cement, catching cement buckets, and just being covered in lots of cement. I had a good cross cultural experience.

I was approached by two guys who wanted to go to the United States. One was 23 and had a wife, the other was 29 and had a wife and two children. They spoke very plainly, saying they couldn't find good work here, and wanted to work in the United States. I asked the same question probably 3 different times, in different ways, why they wanted to go to the states. They didn't seem to know a whole lot about what they wanted. They also kept asking me if I could take them on the plane with me. I told them it wasn't that simple, that they need passports and work visa's and lots of stuff you needed to apply for. I didn't want to discourage them, even though I think that any problem they are trying to solve isn't going to get solved by moving to the states to work. I gave them my number, and contact information if they ever found their way to the states. Watching them hang out with all their friends, laughing, having a good time building this spring capture made me think what their life would look like if they DID actually make it to the states some how. The close community they had their is non-existent in 90% of the country, the strong social fabric they had would be torn apart if they were to ever return with loads of american money. They wouldn't fit back into that society very well. They would have to break up the family to leave, and I'm sure kids would grow up with out their farther for years and years. I talked to Ceasar Cortez, an Ecuadorian engineer/pastor who was that head of this work team about the situation today because they called me asking for information on passports. They thought I could get them passports, and Ceasar explained that it would be impossible for them to obtain a work visa for the states even if they did get a passport. That made me think... I can go to almost any country I feel like going to (hypothetically - I don't really have any money). If this guy spent his whole life trying to get to the united states... he MIGHT make it. How much privilege I have to be able to do the things I do. Even being a poor missionary should be considered a financial privilege. Looking back at these two guys, I believe they had the resources and opportunity around them to improve their situation. Because of the Ecuadorian social structure and years of oppression, it would be a hard uphill struggle, and I guess thats what we're there for, to alleviate some of the uphill battle and to encourage and empower them, but they are they're own agents of change, we are merely the facilitators.

DSC_7057The team got a nice feast at the end of the week. A whole Cui! In Otovalo those go for $15, so this was a major luxury. I eat about 3/4 of it... which is really quite a bit of food. I think what we were served could have filled me up at 3 different meals.

Cathedral TowersOk, so what else have I been up to. I took a lovely trip to downtown this past weekend with Ali and Phil, and Ali's family. I should probably explain that Ali is a Calvin grad who I've gotten to know, whose actually really good friends with Erin Holwerda, and Phil is a co-worker of mine who just got his masters in mechanical engineering at Michigan tech. We saw a couple cathedrals. The one thats picture is really neat because they basically have put stairs and ladders to let you access every little nook and cranny of the whole building. The top had some really amazing views of Quito.

Horizontal PanoramicQuito has a lot of cool cultural events that I realized I have been missing out on. Its such a cultural center for Ecuador, and I haven't taken advantage of living here. I've gotten out a bit into the the surrounding area, and down to the coast, and tried to do something cultural every weekend, so I don't feel to bad.

Dangling my feetThis is me Dangling my feet off a ledge on the roof top of the Cathedral. You can see it just below the cross in the first image.

I've also become pretty good friends with two guys who I live with. One is an American student named Brandon, studying at University of San Fransisco Quito (San Fransisco is the patron saint of Quito and a University here, not a town in CA), and the other is the son of the host family. His name is Diego, and is studying political science. We have good arguments about politics. Brandon grew up as a poorer African American, so I value his opinion on a lot of things because of how different it is than mine. Diego grew up the son of an Agnostic Latin American professor, so his views are rather different than most Americans. Its all been wonderful.


skin deep

check this out:,1,4913294.photogallery

All over chicago, people are tearing out the insides of buildings, and saving the classical facade to encase their beautiful new interiors. I don't like it.

not so lucky grocery

An update on our grocery:
Good Friday, April 6.
I leave my apartment with my roomate. We open the door to 5 cop cars. FIVE. They are pulled up, blocking the street, partically on the sidewalk. I walked up to a copcar, knocked on the window, the cop rolled it down, squinted at me and said, "this doesn't have anything to do with you." He couldn't answer any other questions. I said to my roomate, "let's see if our grocer is okay". We open the grocery door and are met with two cop's hands in our faces, "the store is closed down, get out!". Shocked, I let the door fall back, and then catch it again as both us surge forward demanding: "Where, is Raul? We live upstairs. What is going on here? Why won't anyone tell us anything? Who do you think you are! You have to tell me where the grocer is!!!

"We told the employee to take the money and get out. The owner was not here."

We decided to camp out on our step until we were told more information. Our landlord appeared, maybe from nowhere, but there she was smiling and bouncing along. She acted excited to see us. We asked her where the grocer was now. I asked her why she never gave him a lease. I asked her why she never gave him a lease once he asked for it. She said he went about it in the wrong way, and then quickly switched the subject saying "oh! and I brought you guys mouse poisen and the plumber will be here this weekend".

A little background:
Grocer stopped paying rent in Jan.
In early March he recieved an eviction notice that he should have evicted 2 weeks prior, postmarked for 2 weeks and 2 days prior.
Every month for 5 yrs he has asked for a lease, written and verbal.
He is a Puerto Rican in a Mexican neighborhood.

Finally, the landlord triumphed and pushed the nice man out of buisness. At least now he can pursue the life he was dreaming of: hanging out and fixing cars. I might go join him as soon as my mouse poison runs out.