Newsletter | Mar/Apr 2017Volume 45:2 | Search
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|In this issue:|
Note from the Editor - Rebecca Friedberg
OWA+DP Member Retreat | Save the Date! - Rachel Slonicki
OWA+DP Logo Competition | Call for Submissions - Rebecca Friedberg
Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour - Susan Friedman
Sketches by Nayive Kalkach - Rebecca Friedberg
Berkeley City Club | Ongoing Tours - Barbara Westover
Forensic Architecture Panel | Event Report - Carol Mancke
A Conversation with Architect Wendy Bertrand - Carol Mancke
OWA+DP Member Retreat | Save the Date!by Rachel Slonicki | Share #1196
OWA+DP Logo Competition | Call for Submissionsby Rebecca Friedberg | Share #1197
Building Tour : LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impairedby Carol Mancke | Share #1199
Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tourby Susan Friedman | Share #1198
Sketches by Nayive Kalkachby Rebecca Friedberg | Share #1203
Berkeley City Club | Ongoing Toursby Barbara Westover | Share #1200
Forensic Architecture Panel | Event Reportby Carol Mancke | Share #1201
A Conversation with Architect Wendy Bertrandby Carol Mancke | Share #1202
A Conversation with Architect Wendy Bertrand
February 28 2017
On the last Tuesday in February, Wendy Bertrand spoke to a group of twenty-three members and soon-to-be members of OWADP who gathered for wine, pizza and conversation in a cozy living room in Rockridge. Wendy spoke about her experience of the 12th annual Architectural Humanities Research Association (http://www.ahra-architecture) conference held at the KTH School of Architecture in Stockholm in November 2016. The AHRA is a UK based non-profit academic organization that provides a network for researchers in architectural humanities in the UK and overseas."Architecture & Feminisms: Ecologies, Economies, Technologies "was attended by about 200 mostly women researchers and academics but also some practitioners and students. Twenty to twenty-five percent of the attendees were men. Further information can be found at http://architecturefeminisms.
Wendy first talked a little bit about three books that she read in advance and how they opened her mind to new ways of thinking about architecture, feminism and ecologies. These were Felix Guattari's "Three Ecologies: mental, social, and environmental"; "Relational Architectural Ecologies" edited by Peg Rawes; and "Behind the Straight Curtain: Towards A Queer Feminist Theory of Architecture" by Katarina Bonnevier.
In addition to about forty of the usual conference events like keynote talks and parallel sessions, there were also a number of art installations distributed throughout the conference. One of the first things Wendy encountered was a workshop and ritual called "Nuestras Madres"(Our Mothers). She found herself sitting around a kitchen table with other women who, while embroidering their mothers' names, each reflected aloud about what their mothers had taught them about survival. Later in the conference, she participated in a breakfast organized by the UK-based art and architecture collective, Taking Place. Participants were asked to prepare a question in advance. These were then listed as discussion points in the breakfast event program.
Wendy then shared some of the things she came away with. One was the KTH School of Architecture equity policy book "Enough is Enoughl by program director Malinberg-Wennerholm. Professor ..berg -Wennerholm's goal is to make a better world at the school of architecture by integrating gender issues into the undergraduate program. This gender equality guidebook urges not only that women be equally represented in the faculty, student body and invited reviewers etc., but also in the examples of buildings and practices presented as exemplars in classes! Hearing this, I was embarrassed to realize that in twelve years of teaching architecture I had never even thought of attempting this.
Wendy attended six panels and eight keynote and other types of events. One that she found particularly interesting was a panel discussion with "Parlour" (Karen Burns, Justine Clark, Naomi Stead and Gill Matthewson), chaired by Lori Brown of Syracuse University. "Parlour: women, equity, architecture" is an excellent website dedicated to "bringing together research, informed opinion and resources; generating debate and discussion; expanding the spaces for women in Australian architecture" (http://archiparlour.org/).
Listening to Wendy talk about what she took away from the conference, the most important thing seemed to me to be a conviction that our system does not work -- that Capitalism itself has systemic problems that create the need for feminisms. In her handout she listed seven "big takeaway concepts":
Wendy requested that each person reflect aloud about what they had heard and this nurtured a lively discussion. I include some of the comments that caught my attention here. Galen Cranz spoke about a growing split between designers and researchers among the faculty at Berkeley. The faculty has shrunk from 46 to 26 full time academics over the 40 years that she has taught there even though student numbers have not declined. This has resulted in pressure for everyone who teaches to be a designer and to the decimation of the social research that once made Berkeley such an excellent school. There is resistance in the institution to see the social side of ecological problems.
Quite a few people talked about the fact that so many women drop out of the profession. We need to understand the kinds of structures needed to give women the ability to speak; the diversity of the problem; and where the people who drop out go ï¿½ men go to ï¿½bigger and betterï¿½, what about the women. One person described returning after maternity leave to find that her team had shifted out of balance, no longer worked together well. This reflects the importance of each person in a team ï¿½ how teams can go off kilter when someone leaves. And, there was a comment that every human being always feels that she is ï¿½otherï¿½. Each of us needs to understand this and stand up and show ourselves.
There was a discussion about feminism and how it is growing and has changed because of Judith Butlerï¿½s work. There was mention of the importance of celebrating both women and men in everything we do and that feminism is an intersection in a bigger picture that includes race, age and gender etc. Regulations are helpful and important in changing the situation ï¿½ women athlete quotas are an example.
Other comments included that it will be interesting to see what happens in the El Cerrito Planning Commission, where the politicians are women and the design review board is all men; and that in France there is work being done at the community level to balance the amounts of money spent on womenï¿½s and menï¿½s activities.
A few books were mentioned:ï¿½The Favored Circle: the Social Foundations of Architectural Distinctionsï¿½by Gary Stevens; Cheryl Sanbergï¿½sï¿½Lean In; Vandana Shivaï¿½sï¿½Eco Feminism;ï¿½Thinking Fast and Slowï¿½by Daniel Kahneman; and Wendyï¿½s book,ï¿½Enamored with Place.
I found the session thought-provoking, informational and convivial. It was great to have such a dynamic group of women of all ages in one room together for a couple of hours in a casual, relaxed setting.
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