Traveler Farlander (twfarlan) wrote,
Traveler Farlander

Excuse me, but why didn't I think of this? Oy.

In response to this blog post, well, let's just say that a couple of people feel that this person isn't quite in touch with the reality under which the majority of people live in this country. Consider this my annotated response to her list of suggestions for architects who have received the "gift" of a pink slip.

1. Take a walk. Walt Whitman credits his creativity with his daily walks around Walden Pond. It’s one of the most peaceful things you can do. Walk in nature, or walk down a treed street. If it’s cold or rainy, just dress for it.

You certainly won't be driving, if you can't afford your car payments.

2. Plant something green. In a pot, in the ground. It will grow as you grow.

Assuming you own any land, or have space in which you can plant things. If you do own land, how long will you own it without an income?

3. Go see a movie, especially one that you would never go see.

Use up some of that disposable income that's just sitting around gathering dust now that you're unemployed. Oh, I'm sorry, now that you're free from employment.

4. Go to the highest point in the city and look around. What do you see? What would you do to make it better, fix the ills? If you were dreaming, that is. What do you think will be there in 2020 or 2030? Use your knowledge of architecture to stretch your images of the city.

Clearly, making it better doesn't involve having a job, or especially something like a position of power from which to order changes to be made. Unemployment might be empowering to some, but it does not seem to convey any "power over" city planners. You know, people with jobs.

5. What is your favorite architecture in your city? Go visit it. Think about why it’s special. Start recognizing the unique attributes of your place, inventory, and analyze its quality so that you become an expert.

Then realize that someone was paid to design it, to build it, and to certify it, all by people who had the money to own the land and fund the building in the first place. Wishing and expertise are never enough to raise a building on their own.

6. Photograph your house, your street or neighborhood. Or one that you particularly love or hate. Find places that draw or repel you.

Keep the picture of the house in case you have to, y'know, sell it and move. Hope you didn't like it very much. Or your neighbors.

7. Go to the library. It’s a world of ideas. See what areas draw you. You are not limited to architecture in the library. For instance, I found great pleasure in children’s books about historic cultures. I imagine what kids think when they first encounter pyramids or cathedrals in books.

Luckily for you, the library is free. Of course, you probably paid for it out of things like property taxes...

8. Work out. Every day.

Good thing gym memberships are free, right? Well, all that walking you're doing is good exercise.

9. Eat well. That means healthy, for wellness. You’ll feel better.

Good thing it doesn't take much money to eat healthy, right?

10. Meditate. Sit quietly at least 10 minutes with your eyes closed.

You've got plenty of time for this, and luckily, it is free. It's also a much better use of your time than sending out resumes.

11. Breathe deeply. Regularly. Frequently.

Air is free. Breathing is a good idea. You wouldn't have been doing it had it not been suggested to you, I suppose?

12. Sing, whistle, dance or skip. Automatically uplifting, guaranteed.

There's no such thing as grinding stress, is there?

13. Talk with friends and family. They are your support group. They care.

They're probably paying your upkeep. If they aren't, keep them close. Spend long enough pursuing things that don't provide an income, they will be.

14. Go somewhere if you can afford to – you have the time. If not, go virtually.

As mentioned, the library is relatively free in that they don't charge a cover and there is often one within walking distance in a city. Unless of course enough people are unemployed, hurting the tax base and thus causing the libraries themselves to become victims of fiscal downsizing. As for virtually, it's called "daydreaming."

15. Write down what you did in your architectural job.

Hopefully you've done this as part of your resume.

16. Consider why you became an architect. What was different between what you dreamed and what you did? How can you aim at the original dream? Note, it might not even be in architecture; you have transportable skills if you break them into parts instead of just one idea: architect.

You probably didn't build the next grand structure or get into AD. If you did, you probably wouldn't be unemployed. Then again, in this economy...

17. Think about times where you did incredible work, in school, at work, in volunteer activities. What was it? Design, drawing, talking with people, coordinating. Figuring out particularly tricky technical problems. Getting to work early. Working under pressure. Write all of it down.

Then add it to your resume.

18. What did you think an architect would do when you first contemplated being an architect, when you graduated, or when you started with the recent firm? How did it change and how did your attitude and enthusiasm change?

Think back to when you were working. Cause you surely haven't done any of that since you were let go.

19. How did you spend your days? What was valued by the firm, what was ignored or even shunned?

In the modern workplace? Valued included doing what you were told, willingness to do more work for less pay, and so on. Ignored or shunned? Originality, wanting credit for your work, recognition, pay...

20. Who had a job like you wanted? Think about what it was like.

Don't you dare say Frank Lloyd Wright.

21. What do you care about? Write it down. Draw it or gather some objects that represent your most important values.

You've got a head start if you kept that picture of your house. If your family is still around, well, hope that doesn't change.

22. If you were a developer, what would you build?

A resume?

23. Think about your situation – why were you let go? From the day you began there – a rosy cheery moment I hope – to the last day, what was the trajectory? At some point, you fit and in the end, you did not. Leaving there really was a gift. Think about what changed – even beyond the loss of work. Are you pleased with their view of you – the types of jobs they gave you? Or were you just accepting it because it was a job?

Were you let go because of anything you did, or was it so that your boss or boss's boss could afford to get a bonus again this year?

24. Get licensed. Really. I know, Bill Gates didn’t’ graduate from college, but you did. And Orville Wright didn’t have a pilot’s license. (My good friend Gordon MacKenzie said that). If you are ready to reinvent the world as they did, then go do it. Excellent! Otherwise, chalk up these milestones; that’s all they are. Life is not better on the other side but it is a touchstone, no more “wish I had.” Live life with minimal regrets.

Again, unemployment does not provide "power over." You will not change the world from a position of powerlessness. If you want to tell yourself that someone like Gandhi did, feel free. Then hit up a library and learn about power and its sources.

25. Become LEED accredited.

Presumably, this is free.

26. Learn to play the piano, paint, or speak a new language.

Learning a new language is actually a very good idea. It widens your appeal to employers and increases your potential client base.

27. Get on Twitter – find me.  

There are plenty of reasons to get onto Twitter. Social networking is never a bad idea. See: sources of power.

28. Find the Architects Twitter League and see who else is there. Follow them. Or use my Architects list.

Figure out what they're doing that you aren't, other than getting paid, of course.

29. Get tweetdeck or hootsuite and start making groups of people you enjoy.

See social networking.

30. Search some terms on twitter and see what crops up. I search architecture, cities, and LEED at all times and add temporary searches at other times.

Don't make me repeat myself.

31. Find people in those places you want to visit. See what they think of the pyramids or the Burj Khalifa.

Oh, those controversial pyramids. Also, people in other places might have leads on employment.

32. Sign up to Facebook and find your friends and family, your local AIA, other groups that interest you. You don’t have to answer all those questions, just the ones you’re comfortable with.

Again with the social networking.

33. Post some photos on Flickr or slideshows on Slideshare or book reviews on Goodreads.

You might consider this as a portable glimpse of your portfolio, or even a slideshow of things you could point to that you'd have done differently.

34. Sign onto Linked In and Plaxo and find the architectural networks.
35. Sign up to Architizer and load some of your projects, comment on others. This new service is a real winner.

Did someone say, "social networking?"

36. Learn to cook something new.

Preferably on a budget.

37. Invite friends over to play games. Or for coffee or beers.

You provide the games, have them provide the food, especially if they're employed.

38. Go bowling. Or ice skating. Or roller skating. Alone. In other words, get lost and do something you never do.

And can hopefully still afford. Tai chi in the park is generally free to attend, I think. Also refer to that walking you've been doing.

39. Offer to read or teach at the local elementary school or library.

Volunteering to read at a library is nice. Volunteering to teach at an elementary school is UTTERLY INSULTING TO TEACHERS. If you do not understand the licensing, background checks, and graduate education put into elementary school education, I can think of a number of people who'll be happy to give YOU an education.

40. Serve meals at a soup kitchen or deliver them to shut-ins.

Volunteering for worthy causes such as this is an excellent use of your time. Spend long enough at it and you'll find yourself on the other side of the soup line. At least you can consider the volunteer time social networking with your new peers.

41. Make a list of books the library should put on their buy list. Give a review of each. (We want people to know about architecture and green building. They might value us more.)

Of course, since you're no longer contributing to the tax base, you're suggesting that the library spend other peoples' money. Keep in mind when sharing your opinions who has to pay for them.

42. Pull out your old projects and figure out what you did well.

Then figure out how you can sell it to new buyers.

43. Invent how your projects would be different if you were deciding. Who would be on your dream team? who wouldn’t?

Then figure out how you'd pay all those people, fund the projects, and how you'd explain to people you weren't including why they were "downsized."

44. Sell some stuff. Use Ebay, Craigs List, have a garage sale, set up a booth at the mall or market, or list it in the paper.

The better you are at this, the less you'll have to move if you have to sell your house. I don't suggest eBay for that.

45. Be frugal. Stretch your resources so that you can choose your destiny.

Being frugal at this point isn't really a suggestion. It's more of a necessity. It doesn't let you choose your destiny so much as hold off your fate.

46. Offer to mow your neighbors grass or fix a fence.

Accept payment graciously. The kid down the street who was doing this is living with his parents. If you don't want to do the same, don't turn down income from anyone.

47. You just reduced your carbon footprint significantly by eliminating the commute. What else could you do? Many web sites can help you.

All that eating you were doing? Big impact. The homeless have a very small carbon footprint, you know.

48. Go to planning commission meetings. Or sit through a court case or a city council meeting. Improve your understanding of how government works.

Excellent idea. You'll have a much greater understanding of the very involved processes behind building code reviews, assessments, fire inspections, things that directly affect your chosen career path. You do not have to like bureaucrats, but you had definitely respect them. They own you out in the world.

49. Assess the sustainability of your house, your neighborhood, or your city. How does it compare to similar places, or to model places? what can you do to improve it?

And how will you improve the green impact of your home without the money for capital improvements? Solar panels do not yet grow on trees. Also, planting trees? Costs money unless you're gathering nuts and planning 50 years ahead.

50. Write a white paper on what your neighborhood or city could do to be more sustainable. Strive to give back energy to the grid. That’s the goal, be a producer.

Again, there is an initial investment to setting yourself up with solar power. It pays for itself over time, certainly, but if you can't pay that initial investment, well...

51. Check out on-line city lists for quality of life, and “best of” lists. Forbes has many of these. How does your city rank? What area are most important? How can you help your city be unique?

Pay particular attention to free events.

52. Write an op ed to the paper – and then do it every month or quarter.

Never enough opinionated people writing to the editorial page of the newspaper. Also, welcome to modern times: local newspapers are folding about as quickly as architectural firms.

53. Be on the paper’s editorial board

There are naturally slots sitting open for anyone to come along and claim, you know. Especially unemployed architects with no social networking in their backgrounds.

54. Be a guest columnist.

Again, good thing there are dozens of slots sitting unoccupied, right?

55. Speak to the Rotary, Chamber, Lions or Lioness Clubs, the Y, and so on.

Offer to mow their lawns or paint their fences. Undercut the kid down the street.

56. Read poetry.

Ah, libraries.

57. Write haiku.

I'll say it. Please don't do this. Most people are horrible at haiku, and if you are a gaijin, you might as well go do a rain dance for all the cultural respect you're showing.

58. Start a journal.
59. Start a blog (you knew I’d get here, yes?) Start with Posterous if you want something easy.

Among other pointless things you can do, this does at least serve as a stress valve. Write down all the things you wish you could scream at the top of your lungs. It can be fairly therapeutic.

60. Make comments on others blogs. There are so many great architecture blogs.

Have something valuable to say, or else you will find yourself being mocked rather mercilessly. (See what I did there?)

61. Draw a tree. Or a person. For architects, those are the hardest, yes? Buildings are easy.

Yes, buildings are easy. That's why you went to school for so many years, to do what anyone can do.

62. Start a cartoon strip. Find humor.

You will find yourself thinking about making an unemployed character or making downsizing jokes. Steer away from these.

63. Write a novel. Create fantasy, use your imagination.

There certainly aren't any writers sitting around failing to rake in money. Writers are lucky, none of THEM need day jobs, right? Right? It isn't like writing is actual work or that it takes any real talent, after all. RIGHT?

64. Research something you wondered about and never had the time to check.

I'd suggest starting with the compensation package your former boss got, or how your downsizing impacted that.

65. Go to the lowest point in your city. Photograph, draw. How is it different than the highest place

Well, it's lower, for one. For another, you have probably felt as though you occupied it already.

66. Think about your city in 2050. How many people? Where will they live?

Where will you be living? If you find yourself thinking that the homeless need more warm, safe places to sleep and eat, you are experiencing something known as "enlightened self-interest."

67. What will climate change do to your city? Drought, Storm events. Hurricanes. Flooding. How prepared is the community?

Again, how are the homeless going to be surviving?

68. Do a walkability assessment of your neighborhood. Map it. Write an opinion for your neighbors or for your city. Where are there crosswalks, shade trees and landscaping, narrowing streets, street calming, furniture, sprinklers hitting sidewalks, bad sidewalks, scary dogs. Where are the best spots (these I use for destinations on my runs.)

Nothing that your neighbors or city government like more than unsolicited opinions.

69. Inventory unused spaces. What could be done with them? Invent possible projects.

Thinking "homeless shelter" yet?

71. Keep track of favorite architecture or places you want to see in the city or around the world. Make a wishing map.

Now what did we say about wishing?

72. Make a google map of your favorite places in your town. I can't tell you what time I’ve spent figuring out what to see in a strange city. And then get home to find out they just built some incredible new school or bridge. Horrible. Why don’t we have good architecture maps with insider tips?

Because no one has paid for such a thing. If you can market it, you can afford to make this your job.

73. Make a video. Post it on your blog.

Use that expensive camera you own, assuming you didn't sell it on eBay already. Have something to say, and remember to expect some merciless mockery, no matter how intelligently you think you came across in your vlog.

74. Start a new habit. Do it for 30 days.

I'd suggest starting with "job hunting." Don't limit yourself to 30 days on this one.

75. Make your goals. Tie them to your daily activities.

Goal: Have a job. Daily activities tied to this: seek a job.

76. Volunteer for AIA activities. Or the organization of your choice. Go where you can leverage your expertise and meet people that want to work with you.

Say it with me, now: "Social networking."

77. Start a new group with your friends. Agree to meet or fix dinner once a week or once a month.

Can you say social networking? I knew you could, neighbor.

78. Write your obituary. I’m not being morbid. Knowing that we are mortal – foreknowledge of death – is a uniquely human trait, quite remarkable. It’s the ultimate limitation and sharpens purpose, meaning in life. Because we die, we must use our time wisely. So hone your writing skills. Say you die in 10 years, what is your obit? Or 20, 30, 40, 50 years? Think about the world at that time. What would you want to contribute? A building or park? A new way of seeing things? A mourning family? A book, a house, or a garden?

Be optimistic. Think obituary, not suicide note.

79. Plant a garden. Harvest your own food.

Good thing you won't need to eat until the crops come in, and that farming is such an easy chore. Not like it's hard work, a career, or hard to sustain yourself with even when you have an entire farm as opposed to an herb pot or other typical urban "green spaces." Note: just because it's a public park, that doesn't mean you can plant there. Same goes for the cemetary.

80. Sell some of your produce – sketches, pumpkins, painting, stories, what?

None of this requires talent, and everyone these days has so much disposable income. Your old boss has more now that you aren't on the payroll, for instance.

81. If you had today to create something, what would it be? What do your neighbors need? What did your clients need? Or co-workers, or consultants, or suppliers, or contractors?

I'd recommend creating "a reason to be paid money in exchange for goods or services that no one else can provide at an equal value," but I'm one of those pie-eyed capitalist optimists, I guess.

82. What are your skills? Say, technical, illustration, problem solving, synthesizing, research, design, storytelling, BIM, construction, whatever it is. Itemize it outside of the architecture profession and think who could use it? How could you use it online, developing your own brand? Fantasize about that. And then try it out.

Fantasize away. Then find a job. Your skills are applicable in other fields, this is true. It's called "entry level" if you're looking on most searchable job listing sites.

83. Join the local social media club, find out what they are doing. Because augmented reality is up and coming.

So. Cial. Net. Working. "Augmented reality" is for those who can afford the tools needed to perceive it. While we're dreaming, dream about those people who are paying for augmented reality to happen. Then dream about a post-scarcity society. Figuring out how to survive to that point is step one.

84. Go help in Haiti, or in New Orleans, or somewhere else that is in need of architects. Don’t stay where cities are dying, unless you just love that challenge.

Rebuilding in Haiti is a LONG way off. Rebuilding in New Orleans is happening... and involves paid positions. Also, moving is free and you will surely be supported going to these places without a support network, right?

85. Become a member of a volunteer board, something you care about or that is in sync with your larger goals.

Getting a job through social networking is a valid goal.

86. Develop deep ecological knowledge of your neighborhood and city – look back at least 12,000 years (the time of civilization and cities more or less). Think about the streams, geology, weather patterns, flora, and fauna. What has changed?

This is called by many names, such as archaeology, geology, other science terms that imply education. You can certain self-educate and learn enough to potentially contribute to knowledge in these fields. Of course, this implies that you have the resources to start what some people spend a decade doing in the university system...

87. Take classes towards your larger interests outside the architecture field. For me, that was futures/forecasting, and communications since I felt architects were not particularly apt at verbal expression. What’s your area? Science, business, education, social science, health care? Everything links with architecture. You are making yourself more uniquely valuable..

From the look of this list, they're not overly adept at communicating in writing, either, or seeing things from the perspective of a person who doesn't have a silver spoon in his mouth at birth.
"Making yourself more valuable?" How cynically focused on employment potential.

88. Develop cultural history of your hometown and think about how the architecture unique reflects the culture and ecology of your region.

Not like anthropology is a field of academic study or anything.

89. Look at regional cooperation and projections. How many people will be in your city in twenty years? In Kansas City, a city of 2,000,000 people – which is just about average among global cities – another 500,000 are expected to be here by 2030, according to Mid-America Regional Council. But the cities of the metro area each want those people, and are collectively planning for 5.2 million people! It’s useless infrastructure and wasteful competition. What is happening in your city, and can you make it be more reasonable? You are an architect and come with expertise. Use it.

If only everyone were as enlightened as you, willing to surrender potential tax base improvements.

90. Use the design process to solve other problems. – assess, research, develop alternatives, select, develop, implement. Charrette workshops, synthesizing, creativity, are all intriguing and central to business innovation. Few fields focus on creativity, while we are well versed in it. Yet, with automation, anything that can be prototyped, will be. We know something of great future value - design thinking.  How can you use it?

I'd suggest using it to develop building ideas that others haven't managed. Something you can sell, for example.

91. Develop your perspective on topics that matter to you. Write, research, and talk about them. Try for starters.

Try employment, for starters, or why pretension is not the same as wisdom.

92. Think how you can be involved in clean technology. Rather than limiting yourself to design and construction, imagine how people use cities, how behavior can be different.

Now try and figure out how to change people's behaviors. Again, not like there are whole academic fields devoted to this pursuit.

93. Investigate augmented reality programs, particularly in your area. Heres my slideshow on AR and cities.

Pay special attention to the questions of funding and what value this adds to your area.

94. Limit your activities to things that develop your life, improve your city, or contribute to big ideas, like the future of the profession or quality of life.

So this whole list, telling you to try all these other things and expand yourself into other areas, boils down at point 94 to limiting yourself to improvements. Not to belabor the point, but having an income is an improvement over not having one.

95. Imagine the impact of climate change on your city. How well is it prepared for flooding, drought, weather events, and so on?

You've done this already. Again, ask yourself how people without incomes will prepare for these weather events.

96. Outline a manifesto of your ethics – the future of… your family, your profession, your city. What is important to you? What is your vision and what would you change?

Your employment status should be on this list. I'm thinking it'll be high on this list. Ask yourself which of your ethical standards matter more to you than eating or feeding those who depend on you.

97. What in your life feeds you and drains you? Does something strengthen your network, expand your knowledge, or contribute meaningfully to quality of life? If not, let it go.

"Letting go" of not being employed requires picking up a job. Oddly, those are not necessarily lying around for you to take at will. This appears to be a point that the original author does not get, among many.

98. Analyze your city’s choices: what is important based on decisions?

Let me make this simple for you. Most of the time, your city chose to do things that would line the pockets of big business, usually through the method of "lowest bidder wins." Welcome to capitalism, don't let the revolving door hit you on the ass on your way out.

99. Where is the affordable housing or the blighted areas?

This could be very important to you in the near future.

100. Is there any chance those disenfranchised areas will be in better or worse shape in 10 years? What can you do about it?

There are plenty of things that can be done about disenfranchised areas. Making these things happen requires a lot of work, healthy vision, and the willingness to do what it takes to overcome those who resist your plans. Good luck. You won't manage any of this alone.

101. Think how closely your dreams, your vision of the future, matches or disagrees with your current situation. Then go make that future image happen.

Your future vision of yourself might involve being powerful, having your voice be heard, and having the resources to see your will made into reality. You will need to prepare to struggle to reach this goal, and you will need to envision every step needed to get there with redundant plans in case your battle plan doesn't survive contact with the enemy. (Sun Tsu was of the opinion that NO battle plan survived first contact with the enemy, if that helps.) Of course, if you're a silver spoon socialite for whom employment is optional, maybe you won't have to struggle. Contrary to some people's belief, being in a position where employment is an option isn't as simple as choosing to be in that position. You're either born to it or worked your way into it. (You could have also conned your way into it, but crime takes talent, too.)
Tags: being out of touch, unemployment
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