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Photo: Patrick Reynolds.
The Maori-designed “redevelopment of New Zealand’s New Plymouth regional airport is a finalist in the Prix Versailles Airports 2021 awards,” the Guardian reports.

A modicum of justice is seen in an unlikely place: the redesign of an airport by indigenous people from whom the airport land was stolen as recently as 1960.

Eva Corlett reports for the Guardian, “A tiny regional airport in New Zealand that weaves a Māori story of love and longing into its architecture is in the running for a prestigious design award, up against international heavyweights including New York’s LaGuardia.

“Unesco’s Prix Versailles recognizes architecture that fosters a better interaction between economy and culture, and includes a range of categories from airports to shopping malls. The finalists for the airport category include the New York LaGuardia upgrade, Berlin’s Brandenburg airport and international airports in Athens, Kazakhstan and the Philippines.

“The sixth airport finalist is Te Hono – meaning ‘to connect’ – and is found in New Plymouth, a town with a population of 85,000, on the western shoulder of the North Island.

“After six design options were floated, Rangi Kipa – a member of the local Puketapu hapū (subtribe) and lead figure on cultural design, settled upon a story. ‘The Ascension from the Earth, Descending from the Sky,’ tells the story of Tamarau, a celestial being, who was so captivated by the earthly beauty of Rongo-ue-roa, a terrestrial being, that he came down to meet her.

“ ‘This story aligns closely with the creation narrative of Te Ātiawa iwi [tribe],’ said Rangi. …

“The spine of the building is oriented to represent the journey from the mountain to the river – the main ancestral walking track in this area, and while visitors may notice these aspects of the architecture first, there are many subtle stories told through the details.

“Manaakitanga – the Māori concept of hospitality – also influences the design. Campbell Craig, the project’s architect and associate for design at firm Beca, said the project attempted to challenge western architectural practices that do not bear any relationship to Māori design.

“ ‘It was important for Puketapu to welcome and take care of guests in a place that is in many ways the gateway to the region,’ said Craig. ‘The faceted curved forms of the building at the entrance and airside “embrace” travelers, to shelter them from the elements.’

“In 1960, the land the airport sits on was confiscated from Māori, under the Public Works Act to build an aerodrome. This was a major source of grievance for the hapū, who had urupā [burial grounds] on the site. …

“Kipa said: ‘For the most part, we have been invisible in our own landscape for 160 years, so it’s amazing to have the chance to influence, and give life to, some of the things that make us who we are.’

“For Craig, the most heartening aspect of the project was the intensive collaboration between Māori, the airport and the architects, which enabled a sense of collective ownership over it.

“ ‘The experience at Te Hono provided a blueprint for working with tāngata whenua [people of the land],’ he said, adding that it would be an approach embedded into all of their future projects.”

More at the Guardian, here.

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Photo: Jaida Grey Eagle / The McKnight Foundation
Marcie Rendon has received the McKnight Foundation’s 2020 Distinguished Artist Award. An enrolled member of the White Earth Nation, she is the author of poems, plays, children’s books, and novels that explore the resilience and brilliance of Native peoples.

This morning’s Google video about the famous Osage ballerina Maria Tallchief got me thinking about Native American women in the arts and how difficult their path to fulfillment often is. Consider the writer Marcie Rendon, whose reputation got a big boost when she received a McKnight Foundation award in August.

Mary Ann Grossmann reported the story for the Pioneer Press. “Marcie Rendon, award-winning poet, playwright, author of children’s books, short stories and the popular Cash Blackbear mystery series, is the winner of the $50,000 McKnight Foundation 2020 Distinguished Artist Award.

“An enrolled member of the White Earth Nation [Ojibwe], Rendon is the first Native American woman to receive this prestigious award, which honors artists who stay in Minnesota and make the state more culturally rich. …

“ ‘I’m kind of in shock and overwhelmed,’ Rendon said last week in a phone interview from her home near Lake Hiawatha in Minneapolis, where she lives with two granddaughters and a great-granddaughter. She has three daughters and 12 grandchildren.

“The Artist Award is always a surprise to the winner. The McKnight folks lured Rendon onto Zoom in August by telling her they wanted to talk about her work. But when she dialed in she found herself facing a roomful of people who told her she was the awardee.

‘I started crying. It just seemed unreal,’ she recalled. ‘Then somebody said, “Tell her how much the check is,” and I cried even more. I could give you a hundred names of people who deserve it. It never occurred to me I was in that category.’ …

“Rendon is pleased that her award turns the spotlight on Native artists.

“ ‘I grew up in northern Minnesota and never lived in the city. I didn’t even know book awards were a thing until one of my books was nominated. I don’t have an MFA. I’m writing because I love to create and because I love my community,’ she said. ‘Jim (Denomie) and myself getting this award says that Native artists are doing not just what is important for us as Native people, but important to the entire landscape of artists and people in Minnesota. It says we exist and have a significant impact on the arts. We are resilient and thriving. It says to non-Native people, “We are here, we never left.” ‘

“Among Rendon’s previous awards [is] the Loft’s 2017 Spoken Word Immersion Fellowship with Diego Vazquez. … Vazquez, a poet, novelist and editor, has known Rendon for years. ‘I am so excited for Marcie I almost cried when I heard about her award,’ he said. ‘I admire her for everything she does, in her writing and her life, where she is the central focus for her family. She gives her heart to everything.’ …

“Rendon is especially proud of partnering with Vazquez in the eight-year-old women’s writing project, in which they teach women incarcerated in jails in Ramsey, Sherburne and Washington counties. They have reached some 300 women and published 40 anthologies of their writing. …

“Rendon, born in the Red River Valley of northern Minnesota in 1952, was a voracious reader, creative writer and poet early in life. She was with her family, poor but happy, until she was in first grade and put into the foster care system. It was a bad experience, but she survived.

“While studying at Moorhead State College in the early 1970s, Rendon was part of a group of Native student activists who successfully demanded the launch of the university’s first American Indian studies department. She graduated with degrees in criminal justice and American Indian Studies and earned a master’s in human development from St. Mary’s University.

“Rendon moved to Minneapolis in 1978, because ‘this is where my people are, the birthplace of AIM (American Indian Movement),’ and worked as a counselor and therapist while raising her daughters.

“A 1991 performance by Canadian Cree-Saulteaux artist Margo Kane inspired Rendon to share her poetry and writing with a wider audience at venues such as Patrick’s Cabaret in Minneapolis. …

“ ‘I am super-excited for Marcie,’ said [writing buddy Carolyn] Holbrook. … ‘She’s multi-talented and sticks with it, all the while raising a family and putting up with the trauma of having been a foster kid. Her crime fiction knocks me out. Others write (mysteries) about Native Americans but she’s doing it from an authentic place.’ “

Read more at the Pioneer Press, here.

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Photo: Tim Crocker/RIBA/PA
The Goldsmith Street project in Norwich marks the first time the UK’s Stirling architecture prize has gone to affordable housing.

I’m looking at pictures of a handsome affordable-housing project in England and remembering that during my short stint at Rhode Island Housing, a similar building, restored to provide affordable housing for homeless veterans, also won a prize. I blogged about interviewing one happy resident here. Clearly, homes for low-income people need not be ugly.

Oliver Wainwright reports at the Guardian, “One hundred years since the 1919 Addison Act paved the way for the country’s programme of mass council housing, the prize for the best new building in the UK has been awarded to one of the first new council housing projects in a generation.

“Goldsmith Street in Norwich represents what has become a rare breed: streets of terraced homes built directly by the council, rented with secure tenancies at fixed social rents. And it’s an architectural marvel, too.

“ ‘A modest masterpiece’ is how the RIBA [Royal Institute of British Architects] Stirling prize judges described the project, designed by London firm Mikhail Riches with Cathy Hawley, representing ‘high-quality architecture in its purest most environmentally and socially conscious form.’

“The 105 creamy-brick homes are designed to stringent Passivhaus environmental standards, meaning energy costs are around 70% cheaper than average. The walls are highly insulated and the roofs are cleverly angled at 15 degrees, to ensure each terrace doesn’t block sunlight from the homes behind, while letterboxes are built into external porches, rather than the front doors, to reduce any possibility of draughts.

“Immense thought has gone into every detail – from the perforated brick balconies to the cleverly interlocking staircases in the three-storey flats at the end of each terrace – to ensure that every home has its own front door on the street. The back gardens look on to a planted alley, dotted with communal tables and benches, while parking has been pushed to the edge of the site, freeing up the streets for people, not cars. …

The architects won the original competition because they were one of the few firms to propose streets, rather than slabs of apartment blocks.

“They took inspiration from the city’s Golden Triangle, a desirable neighbourhood of Victorian terraced houses, where the streets are laid out more tightly than modern overlooking regulations would allow. The architects used this precedent to argue that their new neighbourhood could be just as humanely scaled, while fitting in more homes.

“Marking the first time in the 23-year history of the Stirling prize that it has been awarded to social housing, the project beat stiff competition from the revamped London Bridge station, an opera house in a former stable block, the Macallan whisky distillery in Scotland, a visitor centre for the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and a house made entirely of cork. …

“This year’s choice sends a clear message that, despite government cuts, it is eminently possible for brave councils to take the initiative and build proper social housing.”

Read more here.

Photo: Suzanne’s Mom
An impressive coalition of funders, including Rhode Island Housing, collaborated on this 2015 award-winning mill restoration to house homeless veterans.

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Photo: Dyson
Lucy Hughes, 23, a recent graduate in product design from the University of Sussex, is a James Dyson award winner for her biodegradable plastic made of fish scales.

Today’s story is a good example of how inventions can flow from recognition of a problem. For example, most of us now recognize that plastics are a problem. A recent design graduate took things a step further and did something about it.

Rebecca Smithers writes at the Guardian, “A bio-plastic made of organic fish waste that would otherwise end up in landfill, with the potential to replace plastic in everyday packaging, has landed its UK graduate designer a James Dyson award.

“Lucy Hughes, 23, a recent graduate in product design from the University of Sussex, sought to tackle the dual problems of environmentally harmful single-use plastics and inefficient waste streams by harnessing fish offcuts to create an eco-friendly plastic alternative.

“Her solution, a biodegradable and compostable material called MarinaTex, can break down in a soil environment in four to six weeks and be disposed of through home food waste collections.

“Hughes, from Twickenham, in south-west London, used red algae to bind proteins extracted from fish skins and scales, creating strong overlapping bonds in a translucent and flexible sheet material. Although it looks and feels like plastic, initial testing suggests it is stronger, safer and much more sustainable than its oil-based counterpart. …

“An estimated 492,020 tonnes of fish waste are produced by the fish processing industry every year in the UK and it is considered a huge and inefficient waste stream with low commercial value. …

“Through research carried out on the Sussex coast, Hughes found fish skins and scales were the most promising sources for the plastic alternative, due to their flexibility and strength-enabling proteins. A single Atlantic cod could generate the organic waste needed for 1,400 bags of MarinaTex, she found. …

“Hughes said, ‘It makes no sense to me that we’re using plastic, an incredibly durable material, for products that have a life cycle of less than a day. …

‘As creators, we should not limit ourselves to designing to just form and function, but rather form, function and footprint.’ …

“The award operates in 27 countries, and is open to university students and recent graduates studying product design, industrial design and engineering. It recognises and rewards imaginative design solutions to global problems.

“This year’s runners-up are an AI-enabled wearable device to help monitor asthmatic symptoms and predict triggers, designed by Anna Bernbaum, of the Dyson School of Engineering, in London, and solar panels which can be draped over backpacks or tents, invented by Bradley Brister, of Brunel University London.”

More here.

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Photos: Evan Frost | MPR News
Cats are only one of the unusual features of Minnesota’s Wild Rumpus bookstore, which Publisher’s Weekly named the 2017 Bookstore of the Year.

In August, John and family visited friends in Minnesota and, among other adventures, checked out the award-winning children’s bookstore their friends love.

At Minnesota Public Radio (MPR), Tracy Mumford reports on a visit she made to the store in April 2017.

“At the Wild Rumpus bookstore in Minneapolis, Neil deGrasse Tyson is strutting across the floor. A crowd gathers, but this striking figure is not the world-famous astrophysicist — it’s a chicken.

“In addition to over 34,000 books, the children’s bookstore boasts a menagerie that includes Tyson the chicken, one ferret, two doves, two chinchillas, a cockatiel and a tarantula named Thomas Jefferson. (Jefferson’s in a cage, as are several of the other furry and feathered inhabitants.)

“This week, the shop was honored for its long history of serving up children’s books with a side of animal chaos. Publishers Weekly named it the 2017 Bookstore of the Year, making Wild Rumpus the first children’s bookstore to receive the honor.

“For co-founder Collette Morgan, finding out that she’d won was a too-excited-to-even-speak moment. Her tight-knit staff gathered around her when she got the call. …

“Every afternoon after school lets out, the store still fills up with young readers browsing the shelves, which run from picture books through young adult novels. Bookseller Jean Ernest, who has worked there for 20 years, says she has watched the customers grow up right in front of her, transforming from kids into parents who bring their own children into the shop. …

“Amid all the store’s success, and its fast approaching 25th anniversary, Morgan has a message to her younger self, opening the store on its very first day.

” ‘You did the right thing. You did the right thing,’ Morgan said. ‘At the time it was: … Why am I doing this when everybody else is closing? But it’s just been the love of my life.’ ” More at MPR, here.

If you are in Minneapolis on November 10, you can hear author Sheetal Sheth read her book Always Anjali at 11. Book blurb: “Anjali and her friends are excited to get matching personalized license plates for their bikes. But Anjali can’t find her name. To make matters worse, she gets bullied for her ‘different’ name, and is so upset she demands to change it. When her parents refuse and she is forced to take matters into her own hands, she winds up learning to celebrate who she is and carry her name with pride and power.”

Some of Wild Rumpus bookstore’s resident cats eat lunch while a book is gift wrapped for a customer. If you visit, you can also meet Neil deGrasse Tyson the chicken, one ferret, two doves, two chinchillas, a cockatiel, and a tarantula named Thomas Jefferson (in his cage).

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Photo: Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan
Halifax firm Fowler Bauld & Mitchell won a Governor General’s Medal in Architecture for its work on the Halifax Central Library.

Sandy and Pat drove up to Nova Scotia from Rhode Island this year, a trip that had been on their bucket list for some time. I loved hearing their blow-by-blow account when they returned and, among other things, their enthusiasm for the Halifax Central Library, where returned books reshelve themselves with little-to-no human assistance.

I Googled around to see what I could find about the library.

CBCNews reported, “The team behind one of Halifax’s architectural diamonds has won a crown jewel of an award. Fowler Bauld & Mitchell, the Halifax-based firm that designed the Halifax Central Library, was one of 12 recipients announced Thursday of the Governor General’s Medals in Architecture. …

“Halifax’s library was lauded by jury members as an ‘inviting, light and playful public space.’

” ‘This outstanding new civic building is a community gathering place that responds to the diversity of its users, accommodating many more activities than the traditional library,’ the jury wrote.

” ‘The jury commends the process of early user engagement that led to the design, and the public’s embrace of the building is a testament to its value.’

“The library has been a resounding success since the day it opened, with visitor numbers far exceeding expectations. A big reason for its success was in the design process, which relied heavily on community consultation and inclusion, said [George Cotaras, the architect of record for the project]. …

“The proof that people’s opinions mattered and were considered showed on the day the library opened, said Cotaras.

” ‘They knew what it was going to be like but they had never been able to see inside and when they came in they went, “Wow,” and people were going around saying “Wow, that was my idea. I suggested that.” ‘ ” More.

Can’t help thinking that community involvement would be a good idea for every area of public life.

Photo: Anjuli Patil/CBC
A view from the second floor of the new library.

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I’ve been telling Suzanne and John about a free children’s hour on Thursdays at the Tomaquag Museum in Exeter, Rhode Island. I thought it sounded like fun for the kids.

According to the website, the program teaches “the history and culture of the Narragansett Tribal Nation through music, dance and storytelling. … Children’s Hour targets pre-school and homeschoolers during the school year and the families during school vacation. …

“Each week will have a different theme or focus. It will include music, dance, storytelling, engagement with exhibits and art or science activities. Each activity will be scaled to fit the ages and abilities of the youth. We will encourage peer mentoring between older and younger participants.

A typical Children’s Hour consists of: Traditional Greeting & Narragansett Welcome Dance (weather permitting); Narragansett Lesson/cultural concept (in our museum); Scavenger Hunt connected to theme where kids can explore exhibits; Social Dance to our Pavilion building; Storytelling/book share; craft or game depending on the content; Closing circle

The museum just won a national award for museum and library services. Executive Director Lorén Spears and Narragansett tribal leaders went to Washington last week, where Michelle Obama presented the award.

More here.

Photo: Tomaquag Museum Executive Director Lorén Spears

 

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Photo: Andrea Shea/WBUR
Amy Clampitt used her award money to buy a house in Stockbridge, Mass., where today rising poets can have six- to 12-month tuition-free residencies.

When National Public Radio’s Andrea Shea heard about this year’s winners of the MacArthur award, she began to wonder how past recipients had spent the money. Her curiosity led her to 1992 honoree and poet Amy Clampitt.

“The recipients of this year’s MacArthur Foundation ‘genius grants’ will each receive $625,000 over five years, no strings attached,” writes Shea.

“[Clampitt] was on vacation when she heard from her friend, writer Karen Chase, that she had been named a MacArthur genius.

” ‘ She was furious with me because she thought I was teasing her,’ Chase recalls. ‘And by the end of the conversation she said, “I’m gonna buy a house in Lenox!” ‘

“That’s Lenox, Mass., home of Edith Wharton, one of Clampitt’s favorite writers. Chase helped Clampitt find a small, clapboard house that became the 72-year-old poet’s first major purchase. The next year, Clampitt was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Chase reads from notes of conversations between Clampitt and her husband, Harold Korn:

” ‘What’s going to happen to the house? I don’t want it broken up,’ Clampitt said. …

“After his wife’s death, and before his own in 2001, Korn dreamed up a fund to benefit poetry and the literary arts. Since 2003, the house Clampitt bought with her MacArthur money has been used to help rising poets by offering six- to 12-month tuition-free residencies.

“Clampitt herself didn’t publish her first volume of poetry until she was 63.”

Her Atlantic Monthly editor, poet Mary Jo Salter, thinks Clampitt “would be delighted that her house is helping give poets the kind of opportunity that she didn’t have when she was coming up. …

“This December, the 19th resident of the house Amy Clampitt purchased with her MacArthur purse will settle in.”

More at NPR, where you also can listen to the audio.

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Someone who used to know her well alerted me to the story of the Mystery Grammy Nominee. At 51 and without a record label, she has managed to get a remarkable burst of attention for her music.

Writes Christopher Morris at Variety, “Linda Chorney used the Recording Academy’s Grammy 365 website to connect with voters.

“Armed only with a computer and some chutzpah, a longshot snuck through the back door and into the Grammy Awards competition this year.
The resourceful Linda Chorney secured a Grammy nomination in the category of Americana album for her self-produced, self-released ‘Emotional Jukebox’ by taking her mission directly to voters, employing the peer-to-peer function of the Recording Academy’s own site for members, Grammy 365.

“Many in the tight-knit Americana community have reacted quizzically, and sometimes vehemently, to Chorney’s nomination, which trumped several well-known artists in the genre. The virtually unknown Sea Bright, N.J.-based musician will face off on Feb. 12 against a field of nominees that has collectively garnered a total of 23 Grammys. And while some question her methods, her online campaign falls completely within the academy’s parameters for acceptable self-promotion.” Read more.

There are several videos on YouTube. What do you think? Leave a comment.

Follow us on twitter @LunaStellaBlog1.

Update: Chorney didn’t win a Grammy, but she has been invited to sing the national anthem at Fenway Park before an April 2012 Red Sox game, another item on her “bucket list.”

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