Since the day humans first learned how to light a campfire, they've been sitting around it telling stories. Storytelling is a universal cultural phenomenon, and no one can resist getting drawn in by a good story. Every man, woman and child in the world has a story to tell, and an audience waiting to hear it. Every corporation, non-profit, and businessperson also has a story to tell. Stories have power to lift, to change, to inspire. All we need to do is learn how to find our story, how to find our audience, and how to bring the two together.
In an environment where “we can buy it cheaper than we can make it” what happens psychologically and neuro-biolgoically to individuals who are predominantly consumers and consumer re-arrangers? That is, instead of making clothes and furniture, we tend to buy those items and rearrange them. We replace the human production urge with rearranging behaviors.
I liken the absence of making in our culture leading to a depression epidemic to the lack of exercise in our culture leading to an obesity epidemic. We evolved to live in an environment very different from the one we currently inhabit and given the discrepancy between the speed of technological development and human evolution, the same instincts and abilities that once helped us are now often barriers. In the same way that our bodies evolved to give us extra time to consume calories before signaling a full belly in order to cushion for times when food was scarce, our bodies may have evolved in other ways that are now incompatible with our lifestyles. Similar to the abundance of calorie rich foods at our disposal leading us headlong into an obesity and diabetes epidemic, so too may the economic meta-narrative of our culture impact human making behaviors with unintended consequences such as the tendency toward depression and lowered subjective well being. The corrective behavior for an excess of calorie rich foods is either to fight the urge to consume too much or to increase exercise, and probably both. Perhaps there are behavioral antidotes to the depression and decline in subjective well being that modern Western culture now faces as well.
All my professional career, I taught humanity and social science courses to college students (religion and sociology), not architecture nor engineering. However, I know how to study and learn something new. I wanted to build a solar home for my retirement years, so I attended a weekend workshop on the topic, bought a computer program to design a house, and had it built. It is the first solar home built in Caldwell County, and it works. I moved into the home in 2003 and have been living in it since. My water and the house itself, is heated by the sun – so my heat is free roughly 70% of the time (number of days the sun shines per year in NC). If I can design and build a solar house in my 60s & 70s, than anyone can. This presentation would explain how easy (and economical) it is to build and live in a solar home in western North Carolina. I took an idea, was inspired by the concepts, and followed through with my dream. There is nothing like the warmth of the sun – and better still, it is free.
The Great Recession brought hardship to millions, but it also brought a renewed national discussion about community competitiveness, community resiliency and the impacts of change on places. Even though seldom discussed technology has played a central role in both the changes that impacting communities and the tools for responding. As communities try to be intentional to improve their competitive position and the quality of life of their citizens, how is technology both hurting them or making the attemp harder, and how is it empowering communities with new resources. What can be done and how can communities use technology to get it done.
This talk will examine the dynamics of rural entrepreneurship in Alexander County, NC. Using a theoretical framework focused around creativity, entrepreneurship is examined through the contextualizing factors that impact creativity within a place. Focus is given to understanding how rural entrepreneurs obtain information, access and connect to their domains of expertise, and seek novel stimulation. These three areas of focus give insight into entrepreneurial creativity, creativity that is sought for value-driven applications.
It seems that nearly all organizations, from non-profits to startups to Fortune 500 companies, are racing toward being more innovative. However, there are a number of barriers to both individual and organizational creativity that hamper innovation efforts. These barriers include fear, success, and an overplayed focus on efficiency. My "idea" is really just sharing what I've learned about how to overcome some of these barriers so that organizations can unleash the innate imagination and creativity of their people to make their world a better place.
Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis, of the University of Southern California & of Contour Crafting, spoke of his work in the automated construction of homes & larger buildings using 3D printing. His methods and equipment are ingenious. However, the capital costs mentioned on their website, http://www.contourcrafting.org/ , preclude this from being used to provide better, more affordable homes for villagers in the developing world. Habitat for Humanity quotes a UN Press Briefing saying that there are 1.6 billion inadequately housed people across the world and an estimated 100 million who are completely homeless. I propose helping alleviate this problem by constructing the basic EcoShell dome home developed by Monolithic Domes using a locally made polar scaffold and a "Poor Man's Shotcrete Rig" consisting of a small air compressor and a "Mortar Sprayer".
Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome (Irlen Syndrome) is a reading disability that affects 10-12% of the general population,and at least 30% of those in GED programs. Those with this syndrome can experience headaches, burning or itchy eyes, words/lines/figures moving on the page, or the page glaring after a short time while reading or testing. Most people with this syndrome dislike reading, or are put into remedial reading programs, because the cause of their reading issues is misunderstood. There are various ways schools, parents, or those with Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome can deal with light to make it less oppressive and easier to read. If more people learn about this, it is very possible that we can decrease the dropout rate, and increase the numbers of people who read for pure enjoyment.
Technology continues to change how we connect with one another. For children and adults with special needs, technology has the potential to create connections never even imagined. For some, it enhances strengths, for others, it bridges gaps, and for some, technology literally gives them a voice. Through the use of innovative assistive technologies, we are realizing the amazing world in which the special needs population lives.