Detroit 11/11-18

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This week and last week blended together, as we finished with our last location and moved onto the next one. We added the final touches to the Dolphin and Chalfonte stop, and picked up our gear to head over to Brittany’s art collective. There, we planned to build a second, better bus stop, and the rest of the class was going to work hard on the deck.

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Last Friday, we cleared out an area for the stop, dug six postholes, and planted all of the 4x4s. We made quick work of it, unlike the weeks-long saga that our first one entailed. A man stopped by us and asked if we wanted a watch, and when we declined, he offered us al diamond rings. It was an eventful day.

Making sure the posts were all level and lined up was a mix of tools and eyeballing it, but hopefully the stop won’t be as lopsided is the last one. I can see why this kind of stuff takes experience.

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Today was a beautiful 70º (we have really been lucky on our weather this semester, the clouds seem to part for us on Fridays). Marisa couldn’t make it due to a nasty stomachache, and Hannah and Grace had driven to Pontiac to retrieve Grace’s master store of empty wine bottles. Without half of our team, a few of us scraped together the boards we needed to put up the skeleton for the roof, and managed to get the screwed in with little issue. Mike never brought garage doors, so we left the bus stop to help work on the deck.

I reached nice state of catharsis today as I swung a pickaxe into the ground repeatedly, breaking up the asphalt as if it were thin ice. Three deep holes needed to be dug in a short amount of time, so any help that could be provided was much appreciated. As I dug deeper and deeper into the earth, I forgot about all the stressful events of the past two weeks. Every time the axe made contact with concrete, then dirt, then clay, I could feel my worries chipping away. By the time the hole was deep enough, I was covered in dirt and sweat, and everyone who had helped dig it was too. Graphic designers don’t always get a chance to get dirty, and I appreciated this one quite a bit.

After Grace and Hannah arrived, we unloaded all the bottles and stored them in the creative space. There are more than I could imagine us using, especially if we cut them in half. I will be surprised if the wall goes up easily, considering none of us have ever built a bottle wall before. Or have we?

While we worked, I took note of the signs I saw around the area. There were some posters in front of the gas station saying “WE HAVE KEROSENE:, and nearby there were cigarette prices. The proximity of cigarette and gas prices made me laugh, because that’s about the only time the two should be anywhere near each other. Odd combinations like this, which produce new meaning when seen together, are what I’m searching for for my capstone project.

In the last couple of weeks, we need to start thinking about our design guide. What was once a project that we all were fighting over the responsibility of, it now seems nobody wants to take on any more work. I might start working up something visually simple but explanatory that we can produce for Brightmoor, and hopefully I won’t fall dreadfully behind on my other work. This was a good week, and I can see the light of completion.

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Detroit 11/4

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Back to the bus stop. Today, I felt like we were finally becoming autonomous. All that was left to do when we arrived was put up the front and back garage doors, put down urbanite, nail on the 1×6 panels, and paint the thing. We did all these things in stride.

Usually, I am uncomfortable working in teams, because I secretly have a huge ego and think I can do everything. Working on this bus stop, I have realized there are things I certainly cannot do, like apply caulk, place sand between 100 pieces of urbanite, and accurately drill screws. I was happy to see everyone naturally fall into their job, and we all had something to do that seemed pretty important. As Marisa and I dug out more urbanite, Brad and Chris removed metal from the back and front garage doors, as Hannah, Grace, and Lian painted the wood panels. Everyone had a job, and work went much faster that way.

One executive decision made by Marisa was to place logs in the bus stop as seats. I was unclear at first whether these would make nice benches, but by the end, they were perfect. The painted tops and organic nature of the log gave exactly the impression we wanted for a kids bus stop. Plus, while they work as seats, no homeless person will be taking a nap on three disparate slabs of wood. As we placed urbanite and filled the cracks with sand, the ground began to look less like it was strewn with chunks of concrete, and more like it was a tastefully displayed shale walkway. The end result was very beautiful, and looks more welcoming than we could have hoped.

At about 2:30, we still hadn’t cut the front and back garage doors to size, nor had we sawed the 1×6 panels to the right length. The chalkboard wasn’t painted yet, and it looked like we might have a heavy load of work still to come next week. But with time running out, we were eager to finish, and everyone went to work to get what they needed to get done done. I measured and manually sawed the panels, and Chris drilled them into the wall while Brad helped me carry the garage doors to Moon’s so we could use Mike’s circular saw. We sliced them to size, nailed them up, and ended the day with a pretty spiffy bus stop. It still needs some tweaks, but we got a lot done today.

Aside from the well timed exhausting week-finale that engagement tends to be, I feel like it has also been a good catalyst to get me into thinking mode. I have to interact with strangers from Detroit, figure out a team dynamic, and put the skills I have into building something I have never built before. I always end up being forced to think harder than I do for most of the rest of the week, and I become more autonomous for it.