Thursday, June 10, 2010

Random thoughts about... stuff.

I have a feeling this post is going to ramble. I have a bunch of stuff rattling around in my noggin, and its starting to connect up, make a pattern, but the pattern isn't quite clear yet.

It all relates to sustainability, design, planning, and systems. Living in Merrill I see very clearly the effects of the small and large decisions of many systems - government, school, business large and small, even the local social community. What I see less of is real design in these systems. There is some planning - but far to often that planning seems to start and end with the short term; there doesn't seem to be an overall design. There are so many types of design that need to happen, both macro and micro, and so many things that need to be considered....

For instance, I know lots of people want to tear down the Lincoln House. The building has been abused, but I look at it and see a building that could be renovated - admittedly the renovation might cost more than the building is actually worth, but there are also the intangible values of history and character at stake, and I don't think Merrill can afford to let any more of its history and character go. I look at M&I bank and want to cry - it was once a beautiful building, and is now a 70's monstrosity.

All this has made me think more broadly about design in general, about how a small design (say, of a registration form on a website) fits into a larger system, and how to have a design for that system that fulfills the overall goals. The registration form needs to communicate the value of registering clearly, and it also needs to meet the system goal of introducing the user into the functioning and aesthetics of the site.

For community design, it seems to me that all the components of a vital community need to be looked at. Agriculture, food processing and delivery that can be community supported. Local manufacturers and small business that can provide for the material needs of the community. It seems to me that the more we localize our commercial base, the more we will thrive as a community and the more interesting our community will be to visitors.

Anyway, these are all things that are rattling around in my head, looking for a place to fit it. Where does design end and planning begin, and vice-versa? Is the only good design sustainable design? And most of all, is there any area of life that design cannot be applied to? Hmm.

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