Monday, November 06, 2006

Re-Nourish Interview Part Two: Future Plans

This week, partly because the interview was long and partly because things here at the zen kitchen have been too busy for me to breathe (guess this marketing thing works, huh?), the interview with Eric from Re-Nourish continues. In this second half, Eric talks about the future of the site, as well as how he works his sustainable message into the courses he teaches.

4. What do you hope to achieve with the site as it grows?
Personally, I want to develop more in terms of my exploration of the field and apply that to renourish. I designed the site to be fairly "open source" where the information flows freely in and out. I wasn't ever planning to charge people to get this information, but instead hoped that they would spread the word or "seed" conversations with their peers and clients about sustainable design. This was the metaphor I used to develop the "bur" logo. Burs act as seeds attaching themselves to people and animals and are carried elsewhere to start new again. Just imagine what the world would be like if designers only chose 100% PCW paper tomorrow? That's one of the things I'm hoping to accomplish with renourish.5. What's been your favorite thing about seeing the site grow? What has response been like?

My favorite thing so far is the email I receive from readers. Typically they send me links to explore and also simply just tell me how much they like the site. That makes me feel all fuzzy. I'm glad the word is getting out and hopefully changes are soon to follow.

6. What's been the biggest challenge in maintaining the site's integrity and content?

The biggest challenge hasn't been finding the information. In fact it's all over the place (which of course is great). The difficult part is filtering all the information for the site to keep with my standards. Not every link people send me works for the site. Part of filtering all this content then becomes time. I have many interests (however renourish being up at the top) so it's difficult maintaining that balance. I want the site to be chock full of well organized information, but I'm finding the original quick implementation I did in grad school is quickly not adapting well to the amount of available good content. Renourish is growing faster than expected and may need a change soon. I think I may need help! Anyone willing?

7. You mentioned that you're a design professor at the University of Illinois. How have your green principals played into the work you do with students? Do you include sustainability as part of your coursework?

This is a question I have been asking myself every day. How do you get students excited and disturbed enough about the topic without sounding preachy? How do you make sustainably seem full of opportunity and not limiting? As this is my first term teaching at the University of Illinois I am attempting to begin to answer these questions though lectures and assignments. So far I haven't included sustainability as a topic (that is until my next assignment starting Monday October 23!) but instead have been building the students up to it. I've used the idea of "aware". The projects so far have then slowly opening their eyes to the power of their design work through its impact on society. Next I plan on heightening that sense of awareness to their possible environmental impacts. What I find promising is that many students already are interested in the topic and want an assignment related. I've assigned them to read "Cradle to Cradle" as a basis for the next project and hope discussion ensues. These assignments are really building blocks for me to assign more challenging and exciting sustainable design projects in the future. Thanks for asking me to be a part of your blog. Glad we could make time for this interview.

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