Archive for ‘References’

July 9, 2020

Community Development with Architecture and Mapping

My blog has become home to many different lists because I find it is a convenient way to keep track of different things I want to remember and I like that I can constantly update them and other people can benefit from them. This list includes organizations, events, and resources that I have discovered related to community development with architecture and mapping. I have divided it into categories of Affordable and Sustainable Architecture, Focus on Earthen Architecture, Community Mapping and Upgrading, Engineering for Global Development, Events, and Online Resources. If there is a asterisk symbol beside it, it means I have experience with the organization, tool, or event, so that if you would like to know more about my experience, you can get in touch!

Affordable and Sustainable Architecture

Focus on Earthen Architecture

Community Mapping and Upgrading

  • Common Thread Global  – project assessment tool
  • *KoboToolBox – data collection – land rights – community engagement
  • Kounkuey Design Initiative – USA – Kenya – Sweden – global – multidisciplinary – community engagement and upgrading
  • mHS City Lab – India – community engagement and upgrading
  • *OpenDataKit – data collection – land rights – community engagement
  • *OpenStreetMap – global – open source vector map
  • *QGIS – open source GIS software – land rights
  • SDI (Know Your City) – community mapping and upgrading
  • Social Tenure Domain Model – plugin for QGIS – land rights
  • Spatial Collective – Kenya – data collection – community engagement – advocacy
  • UN Habitat – global – promotion – training – community upgrading – leadership development
  • Ushahidi – global – crowdsourced mapping and reporting

Engineering for Global Development

Events

Online Resources

 

 

June 20, 2019

Results Review

I just recently finished a 12 week workout program by Results App. When I lived in Toronto I would get enough exercise walking and biking to get from A to B, but after living in Kampala for several months, I found that I needed another way to get exercise and get rid of my restlessness. I currently work from home and so I don’t go out often during the day. I don’t enjoy walking or running where we live because there is a high traffic road and no sidewalks! I started the app hoping it would also help relieve back pain that I had been dealing with for some time. It has definitely helped! Over time my back pain and stiffness became less and less until now I almost experience none at all. The ab work has helped, but I think that working my glutes made the biggest difference. Overall I am glad that I tried the app. For now I will continue with it though may decide to seek an open source alternative sometime soon. Below I list out what I like about the app, what I think can be improved, and things to be prepared for.

Here are the things that I liked about the app:

  • It plans the workouts for you so that you don’t have to think about it
  • The user interface is very simple and easy to understand. There is a voice option that can be turned on to guide you through the exercises so you don’t need to be looking at your phone the whole time.
  • The workouts change up over time and gradually get more challenging based on an initial fitness test and feedback you give after each workout
  • The workouts average at about 30 minutes though they got on the longer side closer to the end
  • Short video clips help with proper form of an exercise that is unfamiliar
  • The videos are short and don’t require too much data (an important one for Uganda!)
  • I like that there are alternatives offered for exercises that may be too challenging (i.e. knee push-ups in place of push-ups), though I only use them rarely because I am stubborn…
  • The app is flexible and allows you to choose how many days you want to work out each week. After you choose, it reminds you to keep to what you said you would do
  • When late on finishing the number of workouts that week, it tells you how many days you are overdue, and encourages you to get back in the game; I had weeks where I was sick or traveling, and appreciated that it had a balance between keeping you to your goals without overly discouraging you at missing a target. It actually took me 4 months to complete the 3 month program.
  • There is an option to set a separate cardio goal that can be measured using the parallel Runtastic App. It is nice how the two apps share info. Runtastic offers a choice of running training programs that are also available under the Results membership.
  • The cost is $12CAD per month with tax. I’m on the fence with this one. It is much more affordable than a gym membership and yet I sometimes think how they must be raking in the money with so many people registered. I would challenge Results to make themselves more affordable so that lower income people can also benefit.

Here are things that I think could be improved:

  • The workouts sometimes became too hard, too fast. I’m stubborn and so I wasn’t always ready to give an honest review at the end of a workout; it could be cool if they assessed performance based on the time it took to do the exercises rather than just our opinion.
  • The stretches are the same every time. I think they could also be a bit more varied.
  • The second time I did the fitness test it measured my improvement to be very small when I think it was more significant than that. I think that the test isn’t accurate because there are only so many exercises (like situps, squats, or burpies) you can do in a minute with good form. So perhaps the time period needs to be longer or the exercises need to be more difficult to get a better sense of overall improvement.
  • I think they focus too much on weight loss in the app. I would like the focus to be more about being strong and healthy and reducing pain while increasing mobility.
  • The app always asks after every workout whether I want to share my results with social media. I would like a setting where I can turn this question off so I don’t even have to see it. I don’t think my friends need to know how many push-ups I did on Tuesday.

Things to be prepared for:

  • I didn’t realize how much jumping this program has! I can’t say I love it but am getting used to it and have seen biggest improvements in this area. Fortunately the jumps are quite varied and so they don’t get boring.
  • I still get sore after these workouts even though I am past the 12 week mark! I thought I would get past it in the first week, but how wrong I was! I tried Insanity for a month and was only sore the first week, but for this program the soreness keeps coming, probably because the bar keeps getting raised higher each time.
  • The improvement on my arms is a much slower work in progress and not as much as I was hoping for. I’m going to keep chugging away at it though! I found this Runtastic article about incline pushups very helpful and am trying to do them on days between workouts.

That’s it! I hope that you find this review helpful.

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April 29, 2017

Some Favourite Online Recipes

Here are some online recipes that I keep going back to! This list will continue to grow over time. Enjoy!

Savoury

Cauliflower and Squash Curry from curiouscuisiniere.com

Eggs Benedict from ricardocuisine.com

Indian Lentil-Cauliflower Soup from thehappyfoodie.co.uk

Israeli Couscous Salad with Smoked Paprika from foodnetwork.com

Leek and Potato Soup from onceuponachef.com

Macaroni and Cheese from allrecipes.com

Sweet Potato and Peanut Stew from freshoffthegrid.com

Zesty Quinoa Salad from allrecipes.com

Sweet

Almond Filled Speculaas from wholesomesweet.com

Brownies from epicurious.com

Buckwheat Parfait from ohsheglows.com

Healthy 5-Ingredient Granola Bars from minimalistbaker.com

Pancakes from allrecipes.com

Tiramisu from epicurious.com

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February 4, 2017

2016 in Books

Now that I’m finished school, I have grown a new love for reading! It’s not like I wasn’t reading (in fact university helped make me into a reader), it’s just that all my time was taken reading either required material or material for my thesis. Here are the books that I read this past year. I would recommend all of them, but the books with stars by them are the ones that had the greatest impact on me and I eventually want to write reviews of them.

Books read in 2016:

  • Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter by Carmen Aguirre
  • Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis*
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
  • The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
  • The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman
  • When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  • Prayer by Timothy Keller
  • Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison: Piper Kerman
  • The Unquiet Dead: A Novel by Ausma Zehanat Khan
  • A House in the Sky: A Memoir by Amanda Lindhout
  • The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand*
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer*
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June 8, 2016

Mully

My friend Becky knows about my interest in Africa and so invited me to see a documentary called Mully at the Hot Docs festival. We went to the 6pm showing on May 5th. The documentary was very well done and portrays the life story of a man, along with his wife and children, who makes a lot of sacrifices and leaps of faith to serve hundreds of the poorest children in Kenya. It’s one of those stories you almost can’t believe is true because there are so many crazy and miraculous parts to it. I want to share a bit of the story to remember and be encouraged by it.

The story follows a Kenyan man named Charles Mulli who is abandoned by his family at a young age. After begging in his village for some time, he soon makes the decision to walk to Nairobi to try and build a life for himself. He finds simple work, quickly moves up to bigger roles, and eventually starts his own taxi (matatu) business that really takes off. He becomes a millionaire as he begins to move into the oil and gas industries. In the meantime he marries his wife and they have eight children.

One day his car in Nairobi gets stolen by street children and this becomes a turning point for him. Charles feels God is asking him to do more with his life. After a lot of struggle and prayer he comes home to his family and tells them that he is never going to work for money again. He begins walking the streets at night, finding street children and taking them into his home. His wife and family think that he is crazy. His wife Esther remains steadfast and faithfully cares for the children. His biological children are at first resentful that these street children have come and impeded on their lives. His church no longer accepts him and his extended family into their community because many come from addictions and prostitution. As the number of children in the house grow, God provides through donations at just the right moment as resources begin to dwindle.

Eventually their home get’s so full that they move several hours outside of Nairobi to a piece of land that Charles owns. It is a dry and desolate piece of land because of recent droughts but he sees a big vision for the place. They start by living in tin shacks but slowly build houses. They build a bridge in a completely dried up river bed because he believes that God will provide water and that sometimes we need to act in faith before God does the rest. They do drilling for wells but come up with nothing, but one night while praying, God tells Charles to dig in a specific spot. They dig and dig on this spot, until finally an abundant stream of water sprays out! The spring is a continuous supply and they are able to store it and use it to plant trees and crops. Over time the local climate begins to transform and the land becomes green!

Today Mully Children’s Family is an organization that is a home and place of learning for hundreds of street children. The children affectionately call Charles “Daddy Mulli”. The organization has children homes and also puts them through school. Beyond that they have many programs in the community. To become more self sufficient so as not to depend completely on outside donations, the family farms vegetables and fish to sell on the global market. Charle’s and Esther’s biological children have joined in their father’s vision and serve in various positions within the organization. Charles is eventually welcomed again by his church and is also reunited with his parents. Mully Children’s family continues to grow and impact the surrounding communities. You can visit their website here to find out more.

I thought the movie was well done because it is very raw. Charles and his wife act out their adult selves and all of the members of the immediate family contribute to the telling of the story. Some parts of the story are reenacted, but many parts are real footage that was taken over the years. What was even more amazing then the movie itself was that Charles and Esther attended the showing along with the producers and came up for questions afterwards! Although he is a man of many accomplishments, he said that it was all in God’s power and leading. It is a reminder of what God can do if we but put our gifts and resources into His hands and say “use me”. Just be prepared that God’s response might be for us to do what everyone around us thinks is crazy.

IMG_20160505_194352

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March 30, 2015

Music and Pattern

Since I don’t have time to write posts (final thesis crunch), I will just have to refer to other inspiring work. Here is another great video from Vihart, Mathemusician. I found it really opened my mind to how it is possible to experiment with music and how it can even be associated with spatial patterns. Music is another type of mapping.

March 18, 2015

Paper Towns

Here is a clip from John Green (vlogbrothers) talking about where the term “paper towns” comes from. It actually relates to the practice of mapping and how the map often informs the space instead of the other way around.

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January 3, 2015

10,000 Reasons

It’s funny how memories are often tied to songs. My time in Uganda and DRC had the theme song 10,000 Reasons. I kept hearing it again and again while I was there like an anthem, and how appropriate it was for the circumstances. It was six year old Graham’s favourite song and he would often sing it.

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

[Chorus]

You’re rich in love and You’re slow to anger
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find

[Chorus]

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

Credits:

Matt Redman, Kingsway Music

 

 

 

“Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.

As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.

Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
Bless the Lord, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!”

– Psalm 103

December 10, 2014

Hope

I wanted to share this great post from my colleague Mary Henton who is an international staff at UCBC. She writes about how hope can be fulfilled in small and large ways and uses the example of an experience that two of our Congolese colleagues had when crossing the border on their way to join us for GIS training in Kampala. It’s a powerful story and I recommend the read!

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November 23, 2014

The Problem with the News

One thing that has been frustrating about recent events in Beni region is how poorly they are reported on by the media and therefore how distorted the situation must look to westerners. There was one particularly bad article that came out on Reuters and Yahoo a few weeks back that claimed an act of cannibalism without having any witnesses to the event. I was happy to find an article a few days later that countered the article and condemned the practice of using clickbait and stereotypes to gain readership. This is a similar lesson for news coverage of other conflicts around the world.

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