Archive for April, 2016


Philosophy Tuesday

April 26, 2016

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

One of the seven* pitfalls of being human is thinking that once we deal with something, we will never have to deal with it again.

It’s not surprising, given how many things we do in our daily lives that are just like that.  Staple some papers, they’re done and stapled.  Rake the leaves, and they’re good and raked.  Bake the pie, and the pie is delicious and done.

And so we live as though once a concern, upset, question, frustration, worry, issue, baggage, trauma, or otherwise has been dealt with, handled, or completed, that we can dust off our hands and walk away, task complete.

But in many areas of our interpersonal lives, that is not the case.

Experiences of resentment, regret, upset, aloneness, anger, and more, are still available to be triggered anew.

Even when they’ve been dormant for a while, they can erupt unexpectedly.

And when they do, we can so readily invalidate ourselves, or others, for it not being done and gone.  We lash out, we withdraw, we blame.

“This is done… why is this coming up now/again?”

Because we feel that we’ve dealt with it, it feels all the more immediate, real, fresh, pressing.

But it’s just one of our pitfalls.  It doesn’t necessarily mean anything about us, or about the other or others.

We just got hooked for a moment.  Our central self got hijacked by this old pattern.

When we recognize it’s just a pattern, when we can divorce it from immediate emergency reality, we gain perspective.  We can be present.  We can check in – is this accurate?

If there’s danger, then we can respond.

If there’s not, we can communicate.

We can clean things up and get clear.

We can be in the inquiry for ourselves.

Maybe there’s still something left to complete.  Maybe there’s an adjunct upset that triggered this one.  Maybe we just need to renew ourselves.  Maybe we’re just worn down and need to take care of ourselves.  Maybe there’s something we just need to say, or a request we want to make.

One of the amazing things about transformation is that every time we get something for ourselves, even if it’s a ‘repeat’, we experience it, experience that rush, as though it was the first time.

Every time, it reinforces the transformation.  Inside that freedom we get to create and re-create.

Pitfalls always suck, in the moment.

Climbing out of the pit, however, is a chance to reinforce both who we want to be and what we want for ourselves and our world.


* – More or less…


Architecture Monday

April 25, 2016

I like this nice little cluster of writing retreat cabins (the Diane Middlebrook Memorial Building)  for what they create with humble materials married to good design.  The double roof-design lets them stay cool in summer, while also acting to unify the individual pods into a single composition.  At the same time, the slight tweaks each cabin’s orientation  keeps things lively and gives each cabin its own unique view.   It’s individuality plus commonality to create community.

The cabins also tread lightly on the land, not only in terms of their massing, but also using FSC-certified wood, photovoltaics, and passive solar technologies.

Simple cabins created to fulfill a richness of living and writing.   Work well done.


Philosophy Tuesday

April 19, 2016

“The more we try to understand one another…


…the more exceptional each of us will be.”

— Judy Hopps


Architecture Monday

April 18, 2016

This is gorgeous.  Built of the very soil it sits in, a continuous zigzagging rammed earth wall fronts a series of cabins built under a long earth berm, creating a playful inhabitable landscape.  This is a project that truly celebrates the landscape, drawing inspiration from and becoming part of it.

Besides looking great, the huge thermal mass from the earth and the rammed earth construction keep these houses naturally cool in the hot and arid climate.  Those rammed earth walls also (as is often the case) lend their beauty within the cabins themselves.

I love the little chapel/meeting room, a simple design with sliding glass panels to open everything to the outside and with an expressive roof that captures the light.

As with many things, it’s the attention to detail and detailing that really makes this project sing.  I’d love to visit.

For more info and pictures of The Great Wall of WA click here: Luigi Roselli architects.


Zootopia Storytelling Callbacks

April 14, 2016
zootopia callback and brackets

click for fullsize…

One of the many reasons I’m excited about Zootopia is that it not only tells a good story, but tells it well.  Zootopia brings a wonderful quality to its writing and narrative, making things flow smoothly, seem believable, and reinforcing and enhancing the story line itself.

To that end, the scene with Nick and Judy’s playful “Are you just trying to steal the pen?” is not only awesome in its own right, it’s also a great callback to the scene with Gideon and the tickets earlier in the film.  Even better, it starts a string of brilliant callbacks that lead all the way up to the conclusion.  These callbacks show the delicious narrative tightness wrought into the story, with each closing bracket providing an amazing bookend that not only completes things from a storytelling perspective, but also shows the journey Judy’s been on and how much she’s grown and transformed.

Huge props to the Zootopia writing team for crafting this.  Great storytelling craft is not a given in movies these days, and I applaud the team’s dedication to the art.


For more writings on Zootopia, head to The Zootopia Meditations


Philosophy Tuesday

April 12, 2016


Our Zootopia meditations continue with the heart wrenching scene in Bellwether’s office* when Judy quits.

When Judy turns in her badge, the word on the badge directly facing the camera is “Integrity.”

Really, it’s the only word you can readily make out in that scene.

It is also exactly what Judy exhibits in that moment, and it is exactly why she quit.

Integrity isn’t about morality, or being a good person.  Integrity is about honouring your word as yourself.

Judy sees what her actions had created in the city,  the fear, the divisions.

Judy sees her beloved police force devolving to cater to the fears, the divisions.

Both are a disconnect and an affront to who she said she would be in the world, and to what she said she was out to accomplish.

In the face of that, she can no longer be an officer.  She quits.**

She honours her word.

It’s also why the first thing she does upon her return to Zootopia is to go clean things up with Nick.

It would have no integrity to (or even try to) heal the rift in the city between predator and prey if she doesn’t first heal the rift she caused between predator Nick and prey herself.

Judy is being the embodiment of integrity.

And when she, and we, act from, and with, integrity, who we know ourselves to be and our actions are in perfect alignment.  There’s no hidden dissonance, and that makes us peaceful, free, and feeds us power to accomplish what we’re out to do.

Like heal the wounds and clean up the messes to begin a new day for a bunny, a fox, and Zootopia.


* Bellwether, in that scene in her office, thought Judy could be brought alongside in her scheme, but she misread Judy.  She only understood the world from her view, one of dominance and influence and control.  Integrity to one’s self didn’t even occur to Bellwether.  She assumed that Judy’s ambition was borne of the same place as hers and that any saying about “making the world a better place for all” was either just a manipulative slogan, or was something that Judy would be willing to give up in a heartbeat if it meant amassing authority and stature.  She was wrong.

** This scene is also great in that Judy quitting is another sign of her growth.  “[Gideon]*** was right about one thing… I don’t know when to quit!”  But compared to that scene at the start of the film, here, she does know when to quit.  And irrespective of her learning what night howlers really are, honouring her integrity in this moment by quitting is what gives her the space and the power to solve the crime.

*** It’s also wonderful that Gideon is the one who actually ends up helping her fulfil her true ambition, an ambition that’s in tune with who she creates herself to be.  In the space she gains from her quitting, when he gives her the info she needs to solve the case, he also gives her the opportunity to choose freely to be an officer (explored earlier in detail here).  As a jerk he set her on a determined path to be an officer, but as a kind adult, he helps Judy truly become who she wants to be.

For earlier parts in this series on Zootopia:

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4 Part 5


Architecture Monday

April 11, 2016

I like the concept behind this one.  The Ribbon Chapel, located in Hiroshima, is really a single room with a single purpose – it’s a wedding chapel at a resort.  The architects, Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP Architects, chose two ideas as their spring point:  intertwining and spiraling ribbons, and a sacred tree.

The ribbons developed into twin staircases that envelop and create a strikingly vertical space that culminates at an oculus.  Using very thin mullions to support the wall glazing, the glass almost disappears and really lets the sculptural nature of the ribbons read strongly.  It also allows the sacred tree grove to become part of the space.

The stairways is really one stairway, that folds back upon itself to create the “two” ribbons.  Starting from either end where it touches the ground, two people can walk in the opposite paths to reach the top together.  The symbolism is a might direct, but appropriate for this ornamental building.

While I’ve got some mixed feelings, overall I think it’s a well executed and fun little pavilion, taking a playful concept and following it to create a lofty and luminous space that suits its function well.