Archive for November, 2010

Interview: Moving From Research to Design

Dr. Ani Kalayjian, co-editor of “Mass Trauma and Emotional Healing Around the World,” generously donated some time for a phone interview on November 16, 2010. The following notes from that interview summarize and confirm many of the themes in my research thus far.

Please walk me through what happens on a therapeutic level to a child after a natural disaster.
The child is assessed for physical and emotional damage and observed for at least a month. That’s about how long it takes for life to return to normal in the best cases. Those that continue to exhibit symptoms are flagged for play or art therapy.

Is that a standard procedure for governments or NGOs? Does everyone get therapy?
Most don’t get therapy. They just go on their merry way until school starts. School can help a lot. It gives them structure and a social network. Sometimes we try to engage them in art projects. That lets us cover more ground than individual therapy and gives the kids something to do. There are NGOs that perform group play and art therapy.

What happens to children who lose their parents in the disaster?
UNICEF gets their profiles and they get put in supervised group homes. They stay in orphanages until someone comes to adopt them.

Getting back to therapy, what kinds of objects help a child emotionally recover from a disaster?
Objects from childhood, such as a security blanket, would help. The personal items that are taken away by a disaster and help form identity are the ones that the child wants most. Transitional objects can be therapeutic, as they connect a child to his past. These are often soft and cuddly items or figurines, really, anything that can bring back a positive memory. Objects that connect a child to the outer world by engaging them in play with symbols and stories give a child meaning. Objects such as stress balls can engage a child in anxiety-relieving rituals. Consider using materials that connect them to their fears. After the tsunami in Sri Lanka, we let children play with sand to slowly expose them to their stressors.

When you volunteer your time to help in relief efforts, what does your group bring?
We are not well-organized in this respect. There is no set list of recommended items. It really depends on what we get in terms of donations. Some things we have brought include crayons, watercolor pens, stress balls, clay, animal-shaped objects, and child-shaped objects. Stuffed animals and dolls are often pre-owned.

What do you do with the art supplies?
We try to encourage a dialogue. We ask the kids to draw their nightmares. We try to get to the root of their stressors. With the clay we ask them to model whatever they like. In Sri Lanka, they made animal forms that they felt would protect them.

Protect them from a natural disaster?
It makes more sense once you understand the Sri Lankan cultural context. Parents commonly tell children that a monster will come out of the sea to punish them if they misbehave. Then the tsunami came and children felt guilty because they were trained to believe that it was their fault. Many would draw sea monsters from which they needed protection. We try to dispel those misconceptions by making informative games. We show them how to hide, escape, find meeting areas, and other things that prepare them for the next tsunami.

Are the animal-shaped objects you mentioned more literal or figurative?
They are literal, stuffed animals and plastic toys. They don’t have to be. That’s just what people donate. I think it’d be better if they were more amorphous, perhaps clay or sand-like so that children get a tactile response. They can shape it into something that they can identify with.

Can children help others or perform community service as a form of therapy?
Some children do this naturally. Play therapy can encourage altruism where children help each other overcome tantrums.


Shelterbox Post-disaster Relief Shelters

News Clippings From 2010 Chile Earthquake

February 27, 2010 – MSNBC
Aftershocks of the Chile Earthquake

Local radio reported up to 150 could have been killed or hurt in a collapsed 14-story building in the hard-hit Concepcion, where firemen were working to put out fires throughout the city. One fire was in the science department in the local university. At least 23 aftershocks were reported, including one registering at 6.9 on the Richter scale. TV Chile reported that a 15-story building collapsed in Concepcion, where buildings caught fire, bridges collapsed and cracks opened up in the streets. Cars turned upside down lay scattered on one damaged highway bridge. The town’s historic center, filled with buildings of adobe mud and straw, largely collapsed, though most of those were businesses that were not inhabited when the quake struck. Neighbors pulled at least five people from the rubble while emergency workers, themselves disoriented, asked for information from reporters. Many roads were destroyed, and electricity, water and phone lines were cut to many areas — meaning there was no word of death or damage from many outlying areas. Experts warned that a tsunami could strike anywhere in the Pacific, and Hawaii could face its largest waves since 1964 starting at 11:19 a.m. (4:19 p.m. EST), according to Charles McCreery, director of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

February 27, 2010 – NY Times
1.5 Million Displaced After Chile Quake

More than 1.5 million people have displaced by the quake, according to local news services that quoted the director of Chile’s emergency management office. In Concepción, which appeared to be especially hard hit, the mayor said Sunday morning that 100 people were trapped under the rubble of a building that had collapsed, according to Reuters. Elsewhere in Concepción, cars lay mangled and upended on streets littered with telephone wires and power cables. A new 14-story apartment building fell, while an older, biochemical lab at the University of Concepción caught fire. In the nearby port of Talcahuano, a giant wave flooded the main square before receding and leaving behind a large fishing boat on the city streets. While this earthquake was far stronger than the 7.0-magnitude one that ravaged Haiti six weeks ago, the damage and death toll in Chile are likely to be far less extensive, in part because of strict building codes put in place after devastating earthquakes.

March 1, 2010 – Best Syndication News
Looters Move Into Cities After Chile Earthquake

Looting and fear of gangs has hampered the rescue efforts in Chile Monday after a magnitude 8.8 earthquake shook the country early Saturday morning (see list of largest quakes below). Similar to the situation following hurricane Katrina and the Los Angeles riots of 1992, residents and businesses of the cities and outlying areas are falling victim to looters. Fire and police officials are staying home to protect their property. Mayor of Concepción, Jacqueline van Rysselberghe, has made a plea to firefighters to come back to work. She said that since the onslaught of riots and fear of gangs moving into the city, firefighters have stayed home to protect their families.

March 1, 2010 –
World promises to help Chile in rebuilding efforts

The United States and Europe promised financial support to Chile as teams of international relief workers descended on the South American nation, which suffered the Western Hemisphere’s second massive earthquake in seven weeks, according to Agence France-Presse. Chile, one of South America’s richest countries, appreciates the help but wanted to survey the total extent of the damage before beginning any relief effort. The earthquake is believed to have damaged more than a million homes, caused cracks in roads, left millions without power and damaged the airport in the capital of Santiago, according to AFP. But the most severe damage happened in Concepción, the nation’s second-largest city about 310 miles south of Santiago, which was very close to the epicenter.

Red Cross confident it can simultaneously coordinate relief efforts in Chile and Haiti

The Red Cross’ mission just got a lot harder, as the organization now must coordinate assistance in Chile, while sustaining a major, long-term rebuilding project in Haiti. “Organizations like ours are able to coordinate on multiple disasters,” said Red Cross spokesman Eric Porterfield, citing as an example the cyclone in Myanmar and the earthquake in China’s Sichuan province in May 2008, to the Los Angeles Times. In the seven weeks since Haiti was rocked by a 7.0-magnitude earthquake, the Red Cross raised US$322 million, and Porterfield envisions another emergency account being set up to help Chileans, according to the Los Angeles Times. Doctors Without Borders already has sent a staff to Chile in addition to numerous medical personnel it has stationed throughout Haiti. The next test is for smaller charities to be able to generate money for Chile as successfully as they did for Haiti. “The nongovernmental organizations have been tapped out and stretched by the tough economy,” said Thomas Tighe, president and chief executive of Direct Relief International, based in Goleta, Calif., to the Los Angeles Times. “I’m not sure if there was another Haiti next week that people could do the same. But our assumption is that if there is a precise need and compelling case, people will step up.”

Google starts a ‘person finder’ to locate Chile earthquake victims

Google has created a “person finder,” an online tool that helps relatives and friends connect with loved ones in the wake of the massive, 8.8-magnitude earthquake that rocked Chile, according to Agence France-Presse. Google’s “Person Finder: Chile Earthquake” can be accessed at and allows use of the application in English or Spanish. It asks those who log on “What is your situation?” and offers the choice between “I’m looking for someone” and “I have information about someone.” Users can search for a person’s name or information. The site for Chile, which already has more than 1,400 records that can be searched, is modeled after the one the Internet company already started following the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti, which has nearly 60,000 records available for searching, according to AFP.

World’s largest retailer to make initial, US$1 million donation to Chile’s relief effort

Wal-Mart, the world’s biggest retailer, has made an initial donation of US$1 million to help the earthquake relief effort in Chile. “With the impact of this earthquake on our own communities, customers, associates and suppliers, we wanted to reach out with assistance as soon as possible,” Eduardo Solórzano, who heads Wal-Mart Latin America, wrote in a statement. The company employs a workforce of about 34,000 at the D&S food store chain in Chile that it purchased in January of last year, but it is unknown the extent of damage the earthquake inflicted on the stores, according to Business Week.

March 9, 2010 –
Children return to school in Chile

Hundreds of thousands of Chilean kids returned to class on March 8 for the first time following the 8.8-magnitude earthquake that rocked the nation. “It’s good for the children to go back to school because they will focus on their [studies],” a mother told Agence France-Presse as she dropped off her son at Subcaseaux Junior High School in the nation’s capital. Teachers received training on how to help students with “lots of love, lots of willingness to listen.” Students were eager to see their friends who they feared were killed by the earthquake or tsunamis, according to Mónica Jiménez, the country’s education minister. “I missed my friends, I’ve been afraid of the aftershocks,” a boy said to AFP just before entering class for the first time since the end of the southern hemisphere’s summer. The only schools that remain closed are the ones in Maule and Bio-Bio – the two regions that suffered the most damage – but they are expected to open later this month or in early April. It is estimated that 7,000 kids attended schools that were deemed unusable because of the natural disasters, which caused the students to be transferred to schools in other districts, according to Pablo Zalaquet, Santiago’s mayor.

March 10, 2010 –
Chilean government provides water, restores electricity to majority in battered nation

Chile has moved beyond the emergency response part of the recovery process from the earthquake, as it has provided food, shelter and medical assistance to those in areas that were most affected by the event on Feb. 27. “We are surpassing the toughest phase of the emergency, as we have been able to give water, food and shelter to the thousands of victims affected in the center-south of the territory,” Patricio Rosende, the country’s interior vice minister told the Chinese news agency Xinhua. He said the government has set up water distribution points in the areas that sustained the most damage. Rosende added that about 10.6 million have had water service returned to their homes, 589,000 are getting their water via trucks, and electricity has returned to 90% of buildings. “There will be subsidies for the families to repair their houses,” he told Xinhua, adding there were 23,248 buildings that were damaged, and 6,378 more that were considered severely damaged. “If the damages are irreparable, and the related directions of the municipalities declare the buildings uninhabitable for the families, they could receive a new subsidy.”

Apr 2, 2010 – Press Release
CAFE Partners with SEPADE to Help with Earthquake Reconstruction in Chile

In February, Canadian Aid for Education (CAFE) launched a response to the massive earthquake and tsunami which struck southern Chile on February 27th, 2010. Scott Clerk, a CAFE volunteer, visiting Chile during March, was able to visit several of the cities most affected by the disaster. During that visit, CAFE was able to meet with local authorities and educational institutions to assess reconstruction projects. CAFE has agreed to partner with SEPADE, an educational NGO based in Concepcion, Chile. SEPADE runs several high schools, where low-income and at-risk youth can receive a high quality education. Furthermore, SEPADE alsoworks with neighbourhood groups to build their capacity to take the lead in the development of their communities. The selected project, to be organized in the cities of Lota and Coronel, will allow students to become protagonists in the reconstruction effort, by proposing and implementing their own rebuilding projects. CAFE looks forward to working with SEPADE in the future, and being a part of their transformative educational efforts.

Putting a personal touch on third world labor…

Brilliant twist on marketing from Anthropologie:

Stuffed with love and stitched with care, these cozy critters are the handiwork of Kenana Knitters, a knitting cooperative dedicated to improving the lives of women in rural Kenya. Each animal, handknit from locally grown wool spun on old bicycle wheels, comes with a card signed by the woman who made it, making these little guys heartwarming in more ways than one!

Innovate or Adapt?

If you don’t know the market, there are any number of hypotheses you have that may or may not pan out. When you’re new to a market, you need to go native to understand how a product will be received. When Gillette expanded into the global market, the company repackaged the same razor. The market penetration of the Gillette razor was only 30% in India, indicating a problem with the product. By spending thousands of hours living and shaving with the target user group, they learned that the target market doesn’t typically use running water. Their razor needed to be easier to rinse. Men often hold a mirror in one hand while shaving with the other, so the razor needed to be easier to grip. Finally, Indians go longer between shaving, so the razor needed to work well for longer hair. Gillette reworked its design and manufacturing process to meet its target market needs and increased its market share to 70%.

“India is only one or two percent of our company’s revenues but it’s growing. We’re going to put a world headquarters there so we can learn.” ~ Cisco Representative. Sometimes you need to develop products that offer 50% of the functionality for 15% of the price. But sometimes you have to leapfrog the infrastructure of the country. “When I drive to work in Silicon Valley, my cell phone drops in the same spot every time. When I visit my mother in rural India, my phone never drops. India has brand new cellular infrastructure.”

How do you provide a consistent product when you’re hyper-localized? At the same time, you have to look at what makes sense for each market. Chiclets are sold in packages of eight. They failed miserably in India because it was too expensive. No one eats eight pieces of gum at a time. You eat one or two, put the rest in your pocket and they melt. Chiclets failed in India because it was too warm. Think local act global is the new paradigm. Local entrepreneurs are out-innovating multinationals. Wants and needs in countries with lower per capita income are often the same but people have less purchasing power. Innovations need to be affordable, accessible, work with resource constraints, fuse cultures, extend learning from local markets to global markets, and consider the local climate. For scalable enterprises, think local, innovate local, produce local, consume local. If you go to digital technology, it’s all fixed cost. The first copy of Windows NT costs $600 million. The next copies were all free. For some products, you need economies of scale. You need to act fast and adapt to a global market.

Integrated Bus Shelter / Underground Entry Point (Draft Concept)

Spring 2011 Schedule

M 9-4 Thesis Studio

T 9-12 Design Ecologies
T 1-4 Portfolio Lab
T 6-9 Fitting Lab (Teaching Assistant)

Th 9-12 Art History
Th 1-4 Thesis Studio

F 9-4 GFRY Studio