Friday, October 24, 2008

Day 126: Mapping change

mark lombardi, university of albany collection

Last night I met with my new Japanese conversation partner, Yumi, at Dean and Deluca in Manhattan. She's from Tokyo and will only be here for a couple more months before she goes back to Japan. As I struggled to hear, let alone understand, anything that she was saying over the ambient sounds in the coffeehouse, I realized there is such a vast ocean of knowledge between my understanding and what she was saying in Japanese. I have been at this for awhile, but oh my, there is SO much farther to go with this! It was a powerful realization about how much effort, time and work is required to enter into "successful" (meaningful?) cross-cultural verbal communication. Many many years to go...

Today EMS is starting a cross cultural exchange of another sort. This one is occurring between New School media and design students in New York and design students in Doha, Qatar. The project is premised on the students meeting online and collaborating together to "map the changes" that shape their daily lives. Together they are going to map the forces that inflect these changes, and learn what forces might be the same and different across their vast geographic and cultural differences. The heart of the project is to experience what learning/exhanging through a collaborative process (across these differences and distances) might unleash and make newly possible and felt that would not have been possible outside of the collaboration. So far, this being only the first day, things are off to a great start. Introductions are being made and the ease with which students are already communicating, visually, is heartening.

Another change potentially underfoot: Today I read in the Times that there might be a renewed interest in building nuclear power plants in the United States. Apparently a new one hasn't been built in America for over 30 years.

"The industry’s most intractable problem, what to do with spent nuclear fuel, has not been solved. The government was supposed to begin accepting spent fuel for burial in 1998 but now says it will be 2017 at the earliest, and it is not clear that the site under study, Yucca Mountain in Nevada, will win a license. But companies that want to build say the industry could make do for the next few decades with an above-ground “interim storage” site. That might mean centralized storage in a remote desert facility."

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