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Archive for August, 2007
How DesignShare changed my world August 31st, 2007

The Back Story…
When all this transpired, I had been living in Minnesota for about 3 years. I was doing fine professionally but was seeking more adventure and challenge and wanted to work on what I was most passionate about. I started a chapter of a national nonprofit, Black Alliance for Educational Options, which really put me into the thick of educational policy change and community engagement. I was also the Policy Aide to Minneapolis City Council Vice President, Robert Lilligren. I always loved design so when the opportunity came to sit on the design committee for the Midtown Safety Center in Minneapolis (Corner of Chicago and Lake), I jumped at it. They needed someone to pick paint colors. Can you see me jumping out my seat to get that task? I turned that task into my first design project (I worked with the contractor on build out, selected all the furnishings and of course picked the paint colors.) That was November 2005. For a year after I thought about what next? And every time Winter came around, I was like “why do I live in Minnesota?” And that’s no disrespect to my wonderful fiancee who often asks the same question. Previously, I lived in Nashville TN for 9 years.

It was a blistery October day 2006. Sitting at home on the computer, still trying to figure out how to integrate design into my professional life. My passion for education and my already large pile of student loans accumulated through undergrad and grad school at Vanderbilt (sorry VU, I love you but you know you’re expensive) kept me from taking the full leap into a Masters program in Interior Design. I also knew that I learned great study skills throughout my education so I figured I could teach myself just about anything. I thought that if I could merge both loves…design and education, I would be fulfilled and challenged. Was there anyone or anyplace I could go to learn about School Design? Where else to start but a google search….school design. After a couple of misdirected sites about design schools, I found DesignShare and the whole world of school design opened up for me. I spent a couple of weeks reading articles, blog posts and the newsletter. All of this wet my appetite for more. Could I make a career move into school design? I read all the contacts and was struck that DesignShare’s Founder, Mr. Randall Fielding lived in Minneapolis. It felt as though the heavens opened up and I had found the answer to “Why I live in Minnesota?”

What now? I believe that people are people so I crafted an email to Randy and sent it to him hoping he would reply but with no expectation that I would actually hear back from one of the world’s champions of innovative school design. Well guess what? He emailed me back within a few hours. Luckily, he was in town that week and my email made an impression so we met for lunch and toured one of his latest projects, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School (which just so happened to be in the Ward of the Council member I was working for. Coincidence? I think not!). We had a great meeting and soon agreed to move forward and see what projects I could work on in the meantime. They were not ready to bring me on full time and I had some loose ends at the City Council so that worked out fine. By mid April 2007, I came on board full-time and the rest is her-story.

Now, I am the working on DesignShare and I’m an Educational Planner with Fielding Nair International. There are a couple of lessons I learned through this experience that hopefully will resonate throughout the DesignShare Network. What I discovered intuitively actually existed. And I found other people at DesignShare with the same passion to impact the learning process through the design of educational facilities. It always said, “it’s not what you know but who you know that’s will get you places” but in order to positively impact the world of school design both of those statements must be true…who you know and what you know. DesignShare strives to merge these paradigms and offer everyone the benefit of each other’s network and knowledge base with the goal of positively impacting learning through school design. I was able to expand both my knowledge base and network via DesignShare. My goal is to continue to grow this effort and utilize this blog to keep you informed of my journey and to share stories from DesignShare’s network as well as other cool happenings and products in the world of school design. Thanks for reading and stay tuned……

Tiffany Green, Director of Communications

What is DesignShare? DesignShare is the central address for the very best in educational facilities and their impact on the learning process. DesignShare provides an invaluable service as a facilitator of ideas and resources about best practices and innovation in schools from early childhood through the university level. Who is DesignShare’s audience? DesignShare reaches a truly global community of professionals. More than 150,000 architects, planners, educators, and facility decision makers visit the site each month. Architects who specify products for schools and universities make up over half of DesignShare’s total readership. Who are our sponsors?
Fielding Nair International: Architects and Change Agents for Creative Learning Communities
VS America, Inc.: Ergonomic educational and office furniture.

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