Washington v. Washington

Last weekend, I went with Jon, Jody, Sam, and Molly up to a shooting range in Brooklyn, MS to test out Jody’s Ruger and Jon’s Colt. Jon came prepared for an afternoon of shooting guns with a t-shirt bearing this quote: Observe good faith and justice towards all Nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. –George Washington, Farewell Address, Sept. 19, 1796 We were alone at the range for an hour or two until two other gentlemen arrived. One had with him a small arsenal, including at least one machine gun capable of fully automatic fire, and – lo and …

Tour de France

I haven’t been following the Tour de France very closely this year, but I did note that today’s dramatic finish between Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck took place in the Pyrenées mountains, and that tomorrow’s stage, between Salies-de-Béearn and Bordeaux, will be passing about an hour away from the town where I will be teaching next year, Aire-sur-l’Adour. Time’s running out to catch up, Lance!

Aire sur l’Adour, France

With September and the teaching assistant position in France fast approaching, I’ve learned a bit about the town that will be my home for 7 months, Aire-sur-l’Adour. Aire is named for its place on the Adour river, which winds down from the Pyrenees foothills through the flat wine country of southwestern France before flowing into the Atlantic at the city of Bayonne. It is situated in one of the most sparsely populated areas of France; at approximately 6,000 inhabitants, Aire is the largest town until Mont-de-Marsan 30 kilometers to its north-west. Aire is 150 km south of Bordeaux, 50 km …

Teaching Assistantship in France

Closing one chapter, opening another: In September, I will be moving on from the Gulf Coast to take a 7-month-long position as an English teaching assistant in southern France. The French ministry of education hires teaching assistants to supplement regular language instruction and act as a cultural and linguistic resource in the classroom: The Teaching Assistant Program in France offers you the opportunity to work in France for 7 to 9 months, teaching English to French students of all ages. Each year, nearly 1,500 American citizens and permanent residents teach in public schools across all regions of metropolitan France and …

Learning Haitian Creole

Haitian Creole for Disaster Relief My friends Julie and Johnny at Women in Construction are leading a volunteer trip to Haiti next week, and asked me to give a presentation on the language. I should be clear that I don’t speak Haitian Creole. I speak passable French, so I spent some time researching and compiling the following materials. Haiti has two official languages. French is the official language of the government, spoken by educated Haitians, business people, and elites, but not by many common Haitians. Haitian Creole, on the other hand, is the language spoken by nearly all Haitians. Although …

A House for Henry

Henry is an elderly man living in a quiet back alley near Nichols Elementary School. His house is being rebuilt by the Hope Community Development Agency using federal hurricane recovery funds. He asked for very little, just a small, comfortable house with a nice place to sit outside and spend time with friends.

CHP / CDS

It turns out that Virginia’s New River Valley has its very own design studio. It’s part of a non-profit community development corporation called Community Housing Partners (CHP) that works throughout Virginia and the surrounding region. The Community Design Studio (CDS) is located in Christiansburg, VA, about 8 miles from my house in Blacksburg. And I went and moved 800 miles to work at a design studio in Biloxi, Mississippi! I must be crazy. I found out about the CDS through its connection to the Rose Fellowship Program. The Rose Fellowship is a three-year architectural fellowship supported by Enterprise Community Partners …

Construction Demonstration Pods

Building a house is a mysterious process for most people, and hurricane-resistant building is even more daunting. Even professional builders can be confused by the many building codes, insurance requirements, engineering calculations, and best practices that apply to residential construction on the Gulf Coast. With that in mind, the GCCDS recently embarked on a project to build three full-scale construction demonstration pods for the Mississippi Home & Garden Show on March 19-21. The pods were part of a Resiliency Expo organized by the Community & Regional Resilience Institute, a research initiative supported by the Department of Homeland Security, Oak Ridge …

USGBC 2010 Natural Talent Design Competition

A group from the GCCDS is entering the United States Green Building Council’s 2010 Natural Talent Design Competition. This is a competition for emerging professionals or students to design an efficient green house for an elderly client in the Broadmoor neighborhood of New Orleans. Ultimately, four designs will be chosen for construction, and these will be evaluated based on the project criteria to choose a ‘winner’. Meeting these criteria will be no easy feat. Here’s an idea of the difficult (some might say crazy) program requirements: 2-bedroom, 1.5-bath, 720-880 SF house LEED Platinum $100,000 construction budget Elevated 7 feet above …