10 Nov

SAQA Reverse Auction

I almost forgot — Studio Art Quilt Associates is starting their annual Art Auction today! The piece I donated is on page one and is available starting today.

Last year’s auction was wildly successful. I am happy to support SAQA, and even though I have not maximized my opportunities this year, I’ve still gained much as a member through their quarterly Journal, an online discussion group, exhibition opportunities, and even a critique group. Monies from the auction go towards exhibitions, catalogs (many artists enter only those shows that publish a catalog), and outreach programs for the following year.

Go, check it out, and if you see something you like — bid on it! The piece I donated last year was bought pretty quick, so don’t hold your breath waiting for a piece to get down to the $50 price.

08 Nov

My Quilted Research Project or This is Gonna Be Wordy

World Population chart from Wikipedia

World Population chart from Wikipedia

One of the things I really liked about being a graphic designer was wrapping my head around whatever it was that the current client was about. I learned a lot about Braille writing and types of blindness, Princess Cruise Lines’ routes and specials, tourism in Israel, the benefits of easy blood sugar testing, and on and on. The current 12 x 12 Mathematics challenge reminds me of my old work as, so far, I have spent exponentially more time researching than actually creating the quilt visuals or sewing. And because I doubt that all this information I’ve been gathering will actually show on the end product, I share it, and ultimately, a peek into how my brain works on a project, here.

After ditching the quilter’s math idea, I grabbed onto the phrase “You do the math.” It appealed to the ironic side that Terry says I seem to gravitate towards. It begged for some sort of comparison or statistics. For it to be meaningful to me, I figured I should look at women’s issues, or something close to home. It was the writings of Jared Diamond that finally inspired me (I’ve read two books and two articles by him and although he can bog you down with facts and figures and details, in the end I always find myself saying, “wow, I think he’s on to something.”).

According to his book, “Collapse,” First world people consume 32 times more resources than Third World people and produce 32 times more waste. If all current Third World inhabitants adopted First World living standards (a very real desire and a hope held out by relief organizations and human nature) the globe would need to support 12 times the current human impact.

Thomas Malthus, an English economist and demographer, wrote in his 1798 Essay on Population,

“The power of population is infinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man. Population unchecked, increases in geometrical ratio. Subsistence increases only in arithmetical ratio. A slight acquaintance with numbers will show the immensity of the first power in comparison of the second.”

So, even if high food-producing First World countries were willing to export food on a regular basis to Third World countries, it would not, without effective family planning, mitigate starvation. And, even if world population levels off at double it’s current numbers, we are already living at a non-sustainable level. Diamond askes, if 2.5 billion people are currently malnourished and lining on less than three dollars a day, what do we do with another 2.5 billion, especially when so many people in Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa are trading in their lower impact lifestyles for higher impact First World ones? Apropos to today’s food riots in Haiti, a decline in poverty equals an increase in food consumption which then equals raised prices (and that’s just one angle to the problem).

Thought to have been disproved in the 1950s by the Green Revolution, Malthus’ Dilemma is once again rearing it’s frightening head. I’ve found very interesting articles here and here that do a far better job summarizing the problem than I could (also, not about Malthus, but very interesting food issues, here‘s another interesting article).

It’s possible that technology could save us with the next big leap forward (just remember that with solutions inevitably come more problems). In 2002 biotech crop acreage rose 12% worldwide, which might feed an annual 1.5% increase in population, but could it be sustained long enough to support an eventual 33% increase? The advisers at the National Academies paint a grimmer picture, additionally pointing out a decreased use in the pesticides that made the previous Green Revolution possible, decreases in available land in some of the neediest places and poor natural resource management that will impact agricultural yield. They say “A major challenge for the future will be to link conservation and biotechnology.”

Many of the articles I read, including a recent one in National Geographic, praise organic farming. Unfortunately, it currently makes up less than 10% of farming worldwide and between 1% and 9% of farming in developed nations (Sweden is a notable exception with 11% of it’s agriculture organic). Naysayers posit that 100% reliance on manure as fertilizer uses more space than exists: there is not enough space for fields, pastures AND homes (they must not have read the article about rotation where the fields and the pastures are one in the same).

In a 2003 article, the Christian Science Monitor says international agriculture has exceeded demographic increases (disproving Malthus), but can we keep it up? “Starting in the 1700s, Europe fed its burgeoning population by expanding agricultural production, especially in its colonies.” One third of the world’s land is currently cultivated, essentially leaving no more for agricultural use without inviting environmental catastrophe. As an aside, more and more farmland is being used for non-food crops like corn for ethanol, or less efficient food such as grain for cattle being raised for their meat. According to the article, the world’s farmers produce 25% more food per capita than 40 years ago, but the population has nearly doubled. Between 1950 and 1960 US grain yields increased 45%, but from 1960 to 1990 only another 10%. An article from Harvard’s Belfer Center gives similar statistics.

Back to our theme of Mathematics. All this research was to properly be able to visually represent my original inspiration. My quilt will be about Malthus’ original idea — which is mathematical and thusly fits the challenge. As to whether or not the dilemma has or will come to fruition is arguable (I’m tending to think Malthus was right, his timetable was just off by a century or two), but for my math purposes, beside the point.

In order to illustrate some of the information I have been trying to digest, I found projected population information at the UN’s Department of Economic & Social Affairs’ database, and agricultural yield info from the statistics division of the UN’s Food & Agricultural Organization. As with all statistics, it’s what you do with them that tells the story. Numbers don’t lie, but interpretation of those numbers can be manipulated in many ways. I think the research portion of this project is finally over and now, with the help of my Excel savvy husband, I’m off to draft some quilt art.

07 Nov

Nana’s Table

I never met Nana, at least that I can remember, but there was always mention of her. She was my maternal grandfather’s mom and left some pretty nice stuff with the family when she died (to include a friend who remained part of the family for years, until he, himself died).

Now that we are back in the US and gathering up things we’ve had scattered around (like the furniture and bread maker that were in storage for the last eight years), my aunt reminded me that I was the lucky inheritress of Nana’s sewing table. Awesome aunt that she is, she packed it up in a big box and mailed it to Hawaii, where it arrived a few days ago without mishap.

I have yet to fill it up with yarns and spools and stuff, but I know that will happen soon enough. I’m quite sure it will have a happy home here.

In other news, I’ve been sewing scraps (strings) for the last few days and I’m really happy with the result. Here’s the layout I love, but ultimately didn’t choose because I wanted to do another one even more.

Coincidentally, fellow 12 x12er Brenda has also been working on her own string theory.

04 Nov

I Did

The day I registered my car here in Hawaii, I also registered to vote. Voting by Absentee Ballot has always been hit or miss — sometimes we got the forms in time, some times we didn’t get them at all (although we never changed our home of record until now). It felt good to actually go to a polling place for the first time in a dozen years. My vote may actually count this time.

Not having been here long, I didn’t feel confident voting some of the local people or issues, but I did my homework on the big issues and didn’t let a few blank boxes deter me from filling in the ones I did feel confident about.  Here’s to a bright future for Hawai’i and all people and regions of the United States!

04 Nov

Maui

The downside of being the mom is that I generally am the last one to get access to the computer (even though we currently have two). The upside is that both Robin and Mr. Incredible have already blogged about our weekend, so I could just leave this post with their links and go to bed.

Naw, you’ll get my take as well. But you do have to check out their blogs too because the photos are different.

Robin and I met and clicked at Art Quilt Tahoe in 2005 and have kept up with each other through our blogs since then. When my family moved to Oahu this summer Robin invited us to come visit. I doubt she expected us to take her up on it so soon, but Mr. Incredible wanted a Hawaiian adventure before he deploys.

I am so glad we did this. It was wonderful to get to know Robin and her family better, see a bit of Maui from a local’s view, and be a bit touristy ourselves. We had a long list of things we could do, but, as is my favorite way to travel, we only did what seemed right on each day. I’m sure we’ll have the opportunity in the next few years to go back and do a few more things from our list.

I’m still not tired of seeing rainbows — sometimes when you least expect them — like from the deck of the Super Ferry.

At Paia Bay we got pounded in the surf, but enjoyed it anyway. Boogie boarding changed to skim boards, which changed to digging holes in the sand. Moms talked.

Day two took us on the Swinging Bridges hike. Robin and Mr. Incredible have better pictures, but as he said he expected to see dinosaurs on Moloka’i, I expected to either be chased across the bridges by spear wielding natives, or sacrificed to a gargantuan gorilla here.

They say that between all the Hawaiian islands and all their elevations, one can experience all climates. Here’s a rather tropical looking tree from our morning hike…

…to be contrasted with the scrubby, near lunar landscape at the top of Haleakala that evening. We didn’t go all the way to the edge of this volcanic crater, but near enough that we witnessed a magnificent mountaintop sunset above the clouds. Maui reminded me a lot of California (the drought of the past several years probably helps the comparison), but in the Sierras, you see other peaks around you. Here, it was us and nothing else. If there had been no clouds we could have seen how small we are out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Rather humbling.

In between our outings, Robin and I talked. Talked about motherhood, artist-hood, goals, ideas, favorite blogs, cool things we’ve found online, stuff. As she says, although quilting brought us together, we don’t need it to keep the conversation going. And Robin, anytime you want to hang out on my island, you guys are welcome to come!

Say what you will about the dangers of the internet, but I have met so many creative, intelligent, interesting people via the internet whom I would never have had the chance to meet otherwise and I have learned so much from them and the parts of their life they share.