Newsletter | Nov/Dec 2020

Joanne Chow Winship

Editor's Note:

by Mui Ho

It is hard to believe that we have been locked down for almost nine months and there is still no end in sight. I am trying to be very careful and keep reminding my friends to do so because Covid 19 is still going strong. Two weeks ago, I lost a cousin to the virus. While we are still staying put at home, I am thinking about the positive changes during this time. Many of our members have expressed how much they have enjoyed reading about other members' activities in our past newsletters. They were inspired by their activities and thoughts they shared. They found the newsletter is a good platform to keep in touch with old friends as well as to learn more about other members.
I am very touched by how well many of us are doing and how creative we are while adjusting to this Pandemic.

The highlight story in this newsletter is the wedding of Jennifer Muñoz that took place in Hawaii this last July. We are sad to lose her but very happy to see that she already has her new office set up in this magical island.

We are also excited about our Zoom business meetings and our Zoom virtual retreat this year. Steering committee member Allison Kinst has been most instrumental in setting up all the OWA meetings since the lockdown. The "Zooming" ran very smoothly. It was so well done that we are planning to have more such meetings for our members in this coming year.

OWA Virtual Retreat

Screen shot by Betty Woo

Screen Shot by Betty Woo

Aloha Quarantine Wedding

by Gennifer Muñoz

I moved my remote office to Hawaii between April and July in order to begin the preliminary design work on a new home that will be built on the Big Island. I rented a small house there, living by myself while I studied the site and worked with my clients on the initial planning stages for their home. The project is a dream for me, as I have spent a lot of time pursuing work on the island over the past few years. To have this finally come to fruition during Covid and a mandatory 2 week strict quarantine in Hawaii certainly complicates the matter.

My 3 month stay in Hawaii was punctuated in a wonderful way! Our plans for a May 16th big wedding with friends and family were unfortunately postponed, and so we decided to reschedule with a much-abbreviated version of the event on July 7. We were married at sunset on our favorite beach with 20 of our local friends that we’ve gathered over the years since we first spent time together on the island in 2015. Our families attended virtually on Zoom, and even my 94 year old grandma logged on at midnight from Virginia wearing her Hawaiian themed attire. It was not the wedding we originally had in mind, and we missed hugs from our loved ones, but we plan to throw a big party on the Island when things feel safe again. Aloha!

Qurantine Time

by Cameron White

If the pandemic had to happen, I’m glad it happened when I am older. It would have been much more difficult to stomach as a younger, active person. I am still very active, but I’m also very comfortable with the slower pace of life that has come with COVID. I enjoy a lot of solitude and am not as stressed out.
At the time I retired, 4 years ago, the pace of life in business and personal life had gotten so much faster than it used to be 40 years prior, when I was a young professional working in architecture. With the onset of the pandemic, everything slowed down. Now everything is much more open, but I still feel that a more comfortable pace of life is remaining, at least for me. A comfortable pace is much less stressful and more satisfying. You have time to stop for a moment and enjoy the outdoors, and other people.
My husband, Paul Deirup, and I have been mostly staying home since March. We face time often with our daughter in New York and her family, including 2 boys. Having FaceTime get togethers with them is not a great substitute for a hug. I tried to plan a trip to visit them this fall, but it just seems too dangerous. My son and daughter-in-law, in Benicia, are expecting a baby boy in January! We get together with them when we can, in the backyard. Hopefully, soon I’ll be able to at least look at a new baby, if not hold him. I’m glad they’re close by.
My saving grace: keeping busy. I take a lot of dance classes every week, online and in person outdoors.

My saving grace: keeping busy. I take a lot of dance classes every week, online and in person outdoors. I’m taking online jazz piano lessons since and have improved by keeping up the weekly lessons and practice. I continue to be very active with ACE Mentoring, a nationwide program to introduce high school students to architecture, construction and engineering. I do this as a way to give back to the community. We’re going all virtual this year, and I’m on a team creating shared content for our SF Affiliate. I also joined the Board of Directors and I lead the Oakland team. (OWA/DP has generously contributed to ACE scholarships for several years! Thank you!) I’m also active in Toastmasters, in a small and supportive club which continues to engage me in improving my communication skills. When another day begins, sunny and bright, I look forward to it. Gratefulness is my mantra.

Running my Office during Covid 19

by Darlene Jang

COVID-19 created challenges in how I've been running my architectural practice. Since March 17, we've been a fully remote office, connecting staff, engineers, and clients through the Go To Meeting platform to communicate and review drawings. In the last seven months, our main affordable housing projects are in the CA period. We are lucky to have a general contractor willing to conduct live video construction site reviews. Twice during this CA period, construction was paused because residents tested positive for COVID-19. My Project Architect and staff designers weren't working on site because of our remote operation and therefore avoided any exposure. With on-site residents being rotated through a phasing plan, the project is quite workable for our non-profit housing sponsor, although it's meant a long construction schedule. Completion is now expected in January 2022. 
I’ve been on the hunt for more creative pursuits to sustain my studio practice.  Unfortunately, clients are facing questionable funding and so new work has been put on their back burner.
Working remotely has allowed more flex time.  I found more time to pursue my own projects.  I must have redesigned my bathroom three-to-four times and my house expansion through the attic three times. But I'm not ready to invite workers inside the house during this sheltering-in-place. I've also refined house plans for my lot in the Oakland Rockridge area only to learn how dismal the city plan review process is. So once again, I have delayed work on that house. 
The SIP, wearing a mask, and social distancing have made family connections no fun.  I miss my daughter's family even though they are less than seven miles away. My grandson is five and my granddaughter is two. We've managed some backyard visits, but now the weather is getting cold. Gosh, I miss their hugs.
I have been SIP with my husband and my rescue dog Snowy, a poodle terrier mix. We try to keep our spirits up with home exercise and yoga. Bruce is able to get out for tennis, and I'm cooking many untried recipes that used to languish deep in the kitchen drawer.  I recently made wonton! Bruce and I


by Joanne Chow Winship

I’ve been retired from project management and arts administration. Those years away from a work schedule prepared me for Covid-19’s shelter-in-place. I moved here from Vermont, a rural state, with a lifestyle that made growing vegetables and baking second nature, and kept me busy during these home days. For the past decade I had often thought about how we were slowly transitioning away from human interaction to a robot society with each new technological development, but now, overnight, here we are in our own separate bubbles with technology providing that important link to each other. Have you ever participated in 12 hour Zoom sessions? How about twice a week for a month? That’s what I did for the month of June with a National Geographic photographer and 10 other documentary photographers around the world as we developed personal visual stories of our shelter-in-place days.
My life was taken up (like most architects) with planning for the next project, and not allowing myself to enjoy the moment. Well, the moment is now, and I’m trying to enjoy it, and also act in ways to help others overcome the hurdles of life today. We have been fortunate to live during a time of peace, where elsewhere in the world and here too, there is much suffering.
For now, my companion dog provides immense enjoyment as I rack up 10,000 steps daily while we explore the city and he performs the tricks we’ve practiced. Our next act is a road trip in 2021 to the Midwest through the national parks. We’re looking for someone to ride shotgun. Anyone want to join us?

Joanne Chow Winship

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