Maybe it is because I married an architect but I realize I am the kind of person who notices and appreciates my built environment. Maybe this is why I prefer cities to rural farmland. When planning to visit a new city, I research the interesting buildings I’ll get to see before restaurants or shops to visit. I realize buildings are important to me.
Maybe this is why my favorite school fieldtrip was to the National Buidling Museum in DC for their Community Buidling Fieldtrip. Weeks before, I asked my students to save and bring in empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls, old shoe boxes and empty yogurt containers. I collected all their donations into a large plastic bag and brought it with us, as directed by the fieldtrip docent.
First, we were greeted outside to hear fun facts about the fascade of this large, red brick building filling an entire city block. I’d watch my 3-feet tall students lean their heads back and looked up to notice the figures on the buidling’s exterior just above the first floor windows. Encircling the entire city block building, the civil war soldiers depicted on the building’s frieze appeared to be marching. And the march continues all the way around the entire buidling!
Then we entered and I’d watch their surprised faces as they stood in the open artium.
But the best was yet to come! Our docent led us to the 2-floor classroom and our work began. My students were task with designing a community. On the floor was a massive tarp of green, blue and black and gray outlining open green space, a river and some roads. Students spent the next hour making. Then we sat around the tarp and each explained what they designed and decided where in the city they wanted their building to go and placed it on the tarp. Soon the empty tarp became our planned city with homes, office buidlings, a drug store, a grocery store, a factory, an apartment building, a pizza restaurant and a school.
Maybe this is why images like this sadden me just as much as seeing the people of Ukraine walking to Poland to escape the destruction caused by Putin.