Showing posts with label design. Show all posts
Showing posts with label design. Show all posts

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Arnold Cabin Project Part 1: Love Letter to My Monterey Ancestors

I don't mean to brag, but my people come from Monterey County in California.  I may have been physically born in Phoenix, Arizona, but I really come from Monterey County too.  My mother, Kathleen Henning, and my Grandmother, Winifred Kincannon, were born in Salinas, CA.  My Great Grandmother, Anne Arnold, was born in Jamesburg, CA (which is more of a crossroads than a town now.  They don't even have a post office, but I know they once did).  I'm told my Great Grandmother's father, Henry Arnold, was the orphan son of a soldier in the Prussian Army.  He grew up to be a sailor, then a farmer, a stone mason... I suppose he could do whatever was needed.  He spent some time in San Francisco, where he met, wrote poetry to, and married the woman he loved, Sarah Church.  She had come to California with her parents and family by covered wagon.  

To my heart, no other genealogy matters.  

Beyond that, there is only need of the coffee-dark soil of Salinas, and the sun-dappled leaf-litter of Carmel Valley.  There is the sand of the beaches along Cannery Row at low tide.  There is the water in Carmel River.  There is the wind through the Live Oaks.  The screech of the blue jays. The smell of the Sycamore trees in the valley, the Chaparral sagebrush on the hills, and the flower-smoke-and-salt scented air by the ocean.

If this sounds hokey to you, you've never loved a place the way my heart loves Monterey.

And, so, I must admit, that one day, while taking a break at work, I got a tad wistful about the place.  Lamenting the fact that I never asked her, I decided to see if I could figure out where my Great Grandmother went to grammar school.  As I began poking around in image searches, I stumbled upon a Facebook page for The Hastings Natural History Reserve.  On it, there was a post about "The Arnold Cabin" with a few pictures and a mention that it needs a new roof.  

This was the cabin that Henry and Sarah Arnold built and raised their children in (one of them, my Great Grandmother).  And, like most everything else, it was on Facebook!  I could hardly contain my excitement.  

I reached out to the Reserve Director, Vincent, and he accepted my offer to repair the cabin roof!
Cindy and I made a trip out to California last year, and we arranged a day to go and see, photograph, and measure the cabin with Vincent.  I went back a second time with my dear friend, Dan, several weeks ago.

Now, I live in New York City.  Millions of other people live here, and I suppose a billion people have ever lived or passed through here... right?  Wouldn't you say a billion?  I don't know, it's just a guess.  Anyway, you can walk down almost any sidewalk, ride in nearly any subway car... you may know the history of this place or that, but most of the physical evidence of the minutia of our lives has been wiped away.  You can see no shadow of the place where a certain married couple first met on the corner.  The subway car carries no echo of the sound of the guys who came through and sang last night, let alone 20 years ago.  You may have the layers of 100 years of paint jobs on your moldings (which drive you mad with the need to strip them all off and start clean.  Well, maybe not you, but me.  Ahem.).  But you can not picture the people who put those layers of paint on the walls.  Those people are far removed from the marrow of your own life now...

However, this!  This is a rare opportunity to walk where my Great Grandmother walked as a child.  I have Christmas ornaments from her.  They were originally hung on a tree in this cabin!  I have her father's dictionary - the one from which he learned to speak English.  It used to be kept in this house.  The smells and sounds in the air here might have been the same as the ones my ancestors had experienced as they made the walk from the cabin to, say, the out house, for example.  These exact large trees might have been saplings as they witnessed my Nana playing nearby as a girl.  And they would have stood watching as she came and left that cabin for the last time - whether she knew it was her last or not.

I am a pig, and this is my sentimental, ancestral shit.

The Arnold Cabin. 
The living room.
Lory Henning - Generation Five

Friday, March 7, 2014

Lanikai Update, March 2014

In my second blog post, Skinnier, I spoke about the design process we'd been undertaking for a stage to be built at Lanikai Elementary School in Hawaii.  My friend Kat is essentially producing the project, and a couple of weeks ago, they had a fundraiser for the stage.

Honestly, I'm blown away.  I guess this means they really liked my design, and they really need a stage.  They even publicized the fundraiser in the newspaper!  See the bit under "Gala"?

Do you ever have moments when you discover yourself in a wonderful situation that you never expected?  Every once in a while, I'll wake up in the morning, without a hint of how my day will go, and by the evening I'm on a flight to Berlin, or something equally unexpected.  Finding myself helping Kat get this stage done for their school is just one of those wonderful things that makes me feel happy to be alive.  It's not the same amount of awesome as being married to Cindy, but it's the same quality of awesome.

The school managed to raise around $25,000 for the project.  It's ON, people!

 And if that wasn't exciting enough, it's the school's 50th anniversary!  Just look at their cute graphic!

As for the stage itself, I made a dimensioned layout plan and had a meeting with our volunteer structural engineer by phone.  His team is going to do foundation and framing drawings, which will be submitted for permits to build.  With his plans in hand, I'll plot out some pockets for removable railings, pipe and drape system, and a little plan for how and where to set up lighting truss (as needed).  
At the moment, we're waiting to set the build dates, for which the school has generously offered to fly me (and Cindy, if she's available) out.

And if all that wasn't enough to put a girl over the moon, just have a look at the school's fundraiser appeal.  Honestly.  It's heartening to see a school putting appropriate value on the arts.  They've even started a full-year Hawaiian Studies program for those little kids.  

Lanikai Elementary School Fundraiser appeal:
Last year we initiated a Special Appeal giving program – the solicitation of direct donations to fund a school need that would not get done without the additional monetary support.  Last year, we funded the transition from a part year, May Day focused Hawaiian Studies Program, to a full year, more integrated program.   This year’s special appeal will seek support for an outdoor stage and assembly area – a place where the school can perform, celebrate and inform as a whole community.  Other auction funds are targeted from classroom improvement and educational technology.
“. . . the arts have been an inseparable part of the human journey; indeed, we depend on the arts to carry us toward the fullness of our humanity. We value them for themselves, and because we do, we believe knowing and practicing them is fundamental to the healthy development of our children’s minds and spirits. That is why, in any civilization – ours included – the arts are inseparable from the very meaning of the term ‘education.’ We know from long experience that no one can claim to be truly educated who lacks basic knowledge and skills in the arts.” –National Standards for Arts Education
Parents and alumni know Lanikai School has a history of integrating visual and performing arts into the curriculum. This year monies raised through our Special Appeal will be used to build a stage, a facility Lanikai School has never had.  Presently we hold award ceremonies, assemblies, performances and May Day events on a grass field, sometimes renting a temporary stage. A permanent stage will save the school money and improve the quality of each event and performance.  The auction will also raise money for improvements to our classroom facilities and educational technology.  The only way we can attain these goals is with your help.
“Art is a nation’s most precious heritage. For it is in our works of art that we reveal to ourselves and to others the inner vision which guides us as a nation. And where there is no vision, the people perish.” –Lyndon Johnson, on signing into existence the National Endowment on the Arts

Can you imagine seeing the kids dancing the hula or playing in a band on that stage under the Banyan Tree?  I can.

Thursday, January 30, 2014


Well, after a few days of pondering (agonizing) over how I should go about the business of describing Cindy's and my Project Happy Life thing, I've decided to drop it.  I'll write about things as they come up, and you'll get the idea.  To that end, I'll tell you a little bit about what I'm currently working on.

First: Lanikai
My friend Kat has asked me to help design a stage for her children's elementary school in Hawaii.  Coincidentally, she lives just a hop and a skip from where Cindy's mother was living before she moved into a nursing home.  And when we're out there for a visit, we always stay with our friend, Annie, just a short walk away from where the school happens to be.  It's also a short walk away from Kailua and Lanikai beaches - a couple of the most beautiful beaches in the world, if you're into that sort of thing.  

I've been toiling away on a handful of design ideas for their stage for the past couple of months, and yesterday, they chose the winner.  I call it the 40' dais design.  I made the model in Sketchup and geo-located it on a google map.  I had fun googling and employing a method for calculating the heights of the buildings and the tree by measuring their shadows and the shadow of a (hopefully regulation height) tennis net pole from the same map image/day.

I like the idea that the kids can drape themselves on the steps surrounding the stage during recess and such.  It's going to be constructed around this gorgeous banyan tree that towers over the school yard.

Anyway, we're going to have to chose a spot to add an ADA compliant ramp up to the stage, and I've got to get started sorting out where the removable railings will go and what our options for lighting positions might be.  I've also been doing LOTS of thinking about how best to construct this thing.  I was advocating for cement, since that would be low maintenance and simple to build.  But the school seems confident that they can handle the upkeep of the stage if it is done in wood, and it will have a nicer, more organic feel.

This hippie is all for organic.

So, we'll see what we can do.  I'm thinking of concrete footings with an aluminum framed structure built off of that, and then the whole thing could be "skinned" with wood, making the structure easier to keep nice in the face of termites, sea air, rain, and the constant drumming of little feet.  Or maybe the parent/contractors will have a better idea.

For a little Summer dreaming in these swirling, polar vortex days, here's a picture from the beach in Lanikai.