A week of neighborhoods, communities, the Castro, buffalo wings and Lava Mae

What is it about your neighborhoods that we cherish most? What would we find in our ideal neighborhood? What services support our communities? These are just a few of the questions that the Teal and Violet bands are answering with their neighborhoods and community creative project. There are parklets and libraries being designed, town squares being re-envisioned, new neighborhoods being proposed, as well as favorite hills and beaches being modeled. Along with their design responses to the task, they are also exploring the possibilities and capabilities of the Glowforge.

Our exploration of community took us to one neighborhood that is home to a community of people that San Francisco is well known for supporting, the LGBTQ+ community of the Castro. We walked the streets of the Castro listening to the stories of LGBT rights activist and co-founder of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, Cleve Jones. Cleve helped Harvey Milk get elected when no other openly gay man had succeeded in California. After Milk was killed, Cleve inherited his famous bullhorn and used it to lead some of the most impassioned marches in gay history. That quilt you might have heard of, honoring lives lost to AIDS, that grew large enough to blanket the entire National Mall in Washington DC? Cleve Jones started it.

We expanded our knowledge of Harvey Milk’s and Cleve Jones’ roles in the LGBTQ community of San Francisco, the number of marches held in the Castro, and the messages many of the architectural and design choices are making. These include the large windows of the Twin Peaks Tavern and the LGBT Center, with both spaces making the statement that this is a community that should be and will be seen. We also had the luck of being invited into the Human Rights Campaign Store, which we learned stands in front of the last square of the old Castro sidewalk, containing some of Harvey Milk’s ashes.

We visited the San Francisco LGBT Center whose mission “is to connect our diverse community to opportunities, resources and each other to achieve our vision of a stronger, healthier, and more equitable world for LGBT people and our allies.” After a presentation of their services and stories of their strong role in the LGBT community, along with a question and answer session, we toured The Center and talked about its architectural design and visibility in the community.

Prior to the walk through the Castro, the Teal and Violet Bands looked at the history and meaning of the rainbow flag, also known as the LGBT or Gay Pride flag. Throughout the walk, each band member took photographs of various elements of the Castro, from building fronts to cars to flowers to signs. Using their photos, everyone created their own rainbow flag, representing each color with imagery made up largely of that color.

Our exploration of iconic foods from different cities took us to Buffalo, New York for some delicious buffalo wings. We discovered that the first plate of wings was served in 1964 at a family-owned establishment in Buffalo called the Anchor Bar. The wings were the brainchild of Teressa Bellissimo, who covered them in her own special sauce and served them with a side of blue cheese and celery because that’s what she had available. We worked together to prepare and the chicken and sauce, as well as slice up the carrots and celery that accompanied the wings. Thankfully no one came close to 2018 Wing Bowl champion Molly Schuyler’s record of eating 501 wings.

Our string of upcoming expert speakers began with Doniece Sandoval, founder and CEO of Lava Mae. Doniece shared her story about how a chance encounter with a homeless woman she acknowledged led her to dream up and make real showers and toilets on wheels to deliver hygiene and restore dignity among homeless in San Francisco. We also learned of her multiple reasons for not seeking government funding. These reasons included being able to tell those who don’t want their tax dollars being used to care for people they believe do not deserve their help, that their money isn’t doing that and as a way to continue to innovate when and how Lava Mae wants without governmental red tape. Doniece was able to recognize a great need in the city and work to make a solution a reality.

Exploring Neighborhoods and Enjoying Some Food

 

We began our exploration of neighborhoods and streets with an exercise in mental mapping. Working step by step, we drew from memory the streets radiating out from our homes, then layering on information including street names, homes of those we know, businesses, green spaces, and stop signs. Throughout the activity, we began to recognize what it is we find special and valuable about the neighborhoods we live in. We finished off the activity by thinking about a memory we experienced in a location somewhere on the map we had just drawn, such as where we learned to ride a bike, where we witnessed a car accident, or where a friend who has moved away once lived, and illustrated the memory within our maps.

Thinking about our iconic hilly streets of San Francisco, we launched an exploration of grade (also referred to as slope). We took to the streets of nearby Potrero Hill with levels and measuring tapes in hand to record the rise and run of a number of streets in order to calculate the grade. Calculating the grade of a street requires the understanding of a number of math concepts and skills including rise and run, division, decimals, and percentages. Using the data collected and the calculated grades of the streets, the students later worked with Rich on graphing their slopes and changes in slopes, before moving onto replicating streets with 3D cardboard models.

In an effort to get to know neighborhoods in San Francisco we might not spend much time in but have been major players in our iconic history, we walked over 6 miles from the Ferry Building to Ghirardelli Square, up Hyde and down Lombard, through North Beach, Chinatown, Union Square, and to the Old Mint to bus back to Brightworks. We discovered a number of connections to history through food, especially our famous San Francisco sourdough and it’s starter, along with the names of neighborhoods such as North Beach having actually been a beach on the north end of the city.

Taking a bit of food history home with us from our walk through Fisherman’s Wharf and North Beach, we researched the history of cioppino, a tomato-based seafood stew that was invented by the San Francisco Italian fishermen of North Beach in the late 1800s using whatever seafood was left over from the day’s catch, before learning to cook it. Connecting the San Francisco food traditions, we soaked up the broth of our cioppino with San Francisco sourdough.

We rounded out our week of neighborhood exploration with an exercise known as “Question Formulation Technique” to prepare us for our neighborhoods and community creative project using the Glowforge laser cutter. Using the prompt, “We desire to live in neighborhoods that fulfill our needs and wants,” the students worked in groups to brainstorm as many questions as they could that will provide them with answers that will inform their designs. They will individually be narrowing down this list to three driving questions to guide their designs of a neighborhood layout, community building or resource.

We also invite you to follow us on our exploration of ‘City’ on our new Google Site.

Coming back from winter break, the Violet Band set right to work on their Expression projects.  The projects exhibited illustrate a diversity of thought surrounding the concept of “Cloth”; everything from how cloth is made, using cloth to help others, and even designing a home in cloth.  The Violet Band Crew took some time to explain what they are doing, in their own words.  Check out a few of their exciting projects!

 

Frederica, age 12
For my project I am making coconut husk (Coir) into  a usable thread. I will chemically soften it using NaOH (Caustic Soda) then treating the Coir with MgCL2 (Magnesium Chloride). I will then incorporate this softened Coir with other natural materials including wool, hemp, and cotton. I will then test the flexibility, durability, and tensile strength of each blend of Coir and other material. From this project I have learned that Coir is usually is used for ropes and mats and is produced in India and Sri Lanka. In India, which produces one fourth of the worlds coconut, only 15% of the husks are recovered for use. India annually produces 280,000 metric tons of husks. Coir fibers are categorized into two sections, from ripe to immature coconuts. Ripe coconuts produces coarse brown strands which is  highly resistant to abrasion and strong, they are also one of the only naturals materials to float in sea water. Brown husks  are usually used for mats, rope, and upholstery. Unripe or immature coconut produce light brown or white soft and weak threads which are spun into yarn which is woven into mats or twisted into twine for rope.

Aurora helps Frederica build her fume hood.  After building the hood, Frederica taught her peers about how she used lye safely

 

 

Patrick, 12
At my school, we have three arcs in the school year. Each arc is two parts, Exploration and Expression. This year we have Coin, Cloth and Cities. The current arc is Cloth. In Exploration, we learn about the subject and go on fieldtrips to try and find an idea for our Expression project. My project is felting multiple cup sleeves, like the cardboard slip-ons at Starbucks. As this won’t take too much time, I am also felting a original item, which is turning out to be a plant… thing. I had to design the plant, as well as multiple cup sleeves, until my expert explained the prices for the wool. I just learned how to felt, and think everyone should at least try it.

Thanks for reading,
Patrick

Patrick exhibits his first iteration of his felted sleeve

 

 

Selina, age 12
For my project, I am using SketchUp to create multiple room designs. I will have three designs in total. My designs are based off of a Victorian style. They also have as low carbon-footprint as possible, all while keeping it within a reasonable price range (reasonable meaning not higher than a normal Victorian room). Along with this, I am designing my own chair. It is a cross between an armchair and an ottoman. So far, I have finished my final drawings and my paper model. I still have to create a final foamcore model, then put it into SketchUp. My goal is to have three examples of environmentally friendly rooms, using low water-consuming material, low-waste dye, and healthy (not chemically harmful) cloth. Doing this project has taught me how to use Sketchup, how to create comfortable, aesthetically pleasing designs, and how to manage both aspects of my project.

Selina working away at one of her iterations on Sketch-Up

 

Trudy, age 12
My project is creating a photo essay about how the media’s portrayal of women’s bodies and clothing can affect a woman’s self perception of themselves and their body. There will be two photos of each woman, one in an outfit that makes them feel confident and another in an outfit that they think highlights their insecurities. I am also taking audio interviews where I ask the women to share some experiences they’ve had feeling bad about their body. I’m going to compile each person’s audio and photos and post them to an Instagram account I created for this project. So far I’ve learned that I lose things very easily and that cutting PVC pipe gives me anxiety. My first photoshoot is today, Wednesday, January 17, and I have one tomorrow and two or three on Saturday. My next steps are getting my backdrop together and finding a microphone and other equipment for recording.

Trudy built her own backdrop for her models.  She designed it to be easily taken up and down so she can travel with it.

 

 

Jared, age 12
Hello! My name is Jared, Im a 7th-grader, and in my school out semester is divided into three subjects, these three are: coin, cloth, and city, we call these “arcs”. Majority of the time, we make up projects related to the arc. For example: my project is weaving as many scarves as I can for the homeless. This includes carving out the loom. (A tooI I need to weave the scarves). Along with donating all of the scarves I end up making to a homeless shelter.

 

 

 

 

Wearable Shelter

Amber and Violet band set out to explore the question: How might you draft a pattern that transforms an ordinary piece of clothing into wearable shelter?

We started by taking a closer look at how our clothing can provide shelter. Students reviewed their packing lists for the Angel Island overnight. On this trip students had to pack light, taking only what they could carry in their kayak, while making sure they had the right clothing for our outdoor adventure. They chose one of the items from their packing list to research further; considering how it provided shelter, their personal history with the garment, and where it came from.


From there students considered how the garment was assembled, exploring ways they might reverse engineer it to make their own unique piece. We were lucky to have a visit from some of Patagonia’s expert pattern drafters and menders to draft our own wearable shelter patterns. Students ran into plenty of math problems through pattern drafting, translating our two-dimensional patterns into three-dimensional forms.

We even experimented with materials science to consider ways we might manipulate the cloth. Students conducted tensile strength tests on various materials to determine which would work best for their design. 

“This was my first time sewing, and really working with cloth, so I had quite a few unexpected hiccups. Despite these setbacks, I love to learn new things and new skills so this process was quite enjoyable. I learned about different types of cloth, how to use a sewing machine, and a bunch about pattern drafting and geometric nets. If I had more time I would have loved to add a removable cooling gel layer, so I could adjust my hat to be warmer or cooler.” – Huxley

“My wearable shelter feels heavy and protective when you’re wearing it. You can see some of the mistakes that I made, but personally I think that gives it extra character. For my wearable shelter I used a knit (stretchy) fabric for the base because that is what the original piece is made of and if I had used normal fabric then I would have had to add a zipper so it wouldn’t fall down. I also used an old towel and curtain to create the tree aspect of the skirt.” – Clementine

“For my Wearable Shelter piece I drafted my pattern from a black maxi skirt I made from wrapping a piece of fabric around myself. For my piece I was planning to make a skirt that transforms into a dress, but my piece didn’t end up working. The elastic around the top was supposed to become sleeves but when it fit around my arms it didn’t work around my waist, so technically my piece is unfinished.” – Norabelle

“My wearable shelter is not how I pictured it, but that’s ok. It’s very tight and high up. I put on the bra and asked what people thought. Everyone says it looks nice but I disagree. I choose really stretchy fabric.” – Sutchat

“I think that I go camping a decent amount, and every time I’ve found the same problem with my sleeping bag; it doesn’t have sleeves. I find myself in the middle of the night reaching for my drink, but my arms are constricted by my sleeping bag. I have to take my arms out of my sleeping bag and consequently makes my arms cold. To solve this problem I made a sleeping bag with arms. The initial pattern for this garment was a faux leather jacket, it may look different now, but it still has the same purpose, to keep you warm.” – Oscar

“I started tracing my jacket and then turned it into a sleeveless hoodie. I chose camouflage because it was cool. It’s cool because it blends in with what’s behind you. The original garment was a jacket, a hoodie, that was warm. I made the opposite of what my hoodie was by making another hoodie with no sleeves this time.” – Jacob 

“This hat is based off an Ushanka. It’s a Russian hat made for keeping Russians warm since it’s always cold there. I took this idea of furry winter time cap and one upped it. I shoved rice in it, two minutes in the microwave and the hat will be warm for about an hour. Hats have been a big part of my life, through the ages of eight through eleven I wore a beanie every day. Not just for warmth but for safety. I feel safe when a hat’s on my head.” – Felix 

“Something that worked for me in this project was cutting, making the ears, and a few parts of the sewing.  Some stuff that did not really work for me was sewing the arms and hood, pinning, and tracing.  If I had another week to work on this project some things that I would do differently would be that I would try to make a more complex jacket, and I would experiment with different fabrics.” – Harper

 

 

Week of Sewing & Typing

What a wonderful week of pattern drafting and sewing exploration, interwoven with NaNoWriMo storytelling.

On Monday, we finalized our cloth math and visited Fabric Outlet to purchase materials for our Cloth as Shelter project.

Tuesday, Teal invited us to come to Maxfield’s Cafe to take part in the Shut Up and Write event.


Throughout both Wednesday and Thursday we dove into an introduction to…SOAP! With Science Expert Ricky. Discovering how soap is made and how the properties of soap wash our clothes.


Thursday afternoon, Claire and Evan of Patagonia’s Worn Wear Team dropped by to chat about what they do to care for the lifecycle of our clothing.  Afterwards, they gave Violet & Amber bands inside scoops on how to connect their pattern pieces to sew up their garments.  We’re so thankful for all of your assistance Claire and Evan!

Violet Band’s Exciting Week

This week we transitioned back into the classroom, after last week’s epic adventures.  

On Monday, the Violetiers gave presentations on Cloth Items that were listed on our packing lists from the Angel Island trip.  They shared historical, contemporary and personal origin stories through powerpoint presentations that were shown to the band.  We found out what the first sleeping bags looked like, the origin of cargo pants, how leather is made, all about a new fiber called Cupro, Gap’s sweatshops, and a personal history of a backpacked named George.    

 

Also on Monday, Violet and Amber explored a reverse engineering exercise on objects around Brightworks.  Groups of two or three sketched the object, deconstructed it, annotated all of it’s parts, and reconstructed the object to think about how parts work together to make a whole.  

 

 

Then on Tuesday things got spooky….

 

When Wednesday came around, the Violetiers explored Materials Science with our local expert Rich, conducting stress tests to explore tensile strength in fibers. Check out this video of the band’s reaction when a fiber hit it’s breaking point!

IMG_1969.MOV

Wednesday was the FIRST day of the famous…… NANOWRIMO!  
Yes, that’s right, the Nation Novel Writing Month has begun! Violetiers jumped in, and began their stories and  setting their word-goals.

 

Thursday we discovered the ways that Fashion Designers use math by learning about pattern drafting and calculating how many square feet of fabric our own garments use.  We also did the math to plan how many yards we would have to buy in order to recreate our clothing.  

On Friday, as an overview, Violet Band took a small Week Quiz to remind ourselves what we learned this week.
In the afternoon, we perfected our pattern math, determined how many yards of fabric we need to make our wearable shelter, and drafted technical drawings to show our intended project.  

What a wonderful week it has been!

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

As the Amber and Violet bands continue to look at value, we are exploring the ways that value is assigned.  How do we assign value? Does something have value if it is free?

We recently discovered a produce stand in our neighborhood that offers free produce once a week.  We were curious to find out how and why this is being offered.  We found out that this produce is harvested from Alemany Farm, and made plans to volunteer our time to help harvest.  Before going to the farm we decided to do a cost analysis of what it would take to harvest produce, anything from veggies to vines.

students scouting prices for tools at Lowe’s

Amber and Violet Band discovered that the average cost of harvesting tools, like shovels and trowels, was approximately twenty to thirty dollars.  How might we design our own unique and low-cost tools for harvesting food using found objects from SCRAP (our neighborhood creative reuse center)?

Norabelle and Trudy explore SCRAP for material potential

The bands worked in small groups of three to design their tools.  The groups had thirty minutes and three dollars to source materials for their unique designs.

What came about were tools that cannot be found in a regular hardware store.  Instead of having to buy many tools, students designed multifunctional tools like an umbrella to shield you from the sun while watering your plants; a potato scooper that also stores while you scoop; a grasping device to collect nuts, made from straws and string; and a giraffe-like structure to pick and toss fruits out of reach.

Selina sharpens her potato digger

Selina displays her group’s potato scooper

This project helped us to think critically about the cost behind this free produce. We hope to volunteer our time with Alemany Farm throughout the year as we continue to build connections across coin, cloth and city.