Loeb Fellowship 45th Anniversary Lectures: Closing Remarks from John Peterson and Participants

Loeb Fellowship 45th Anniversary Lectures: Closing Remarks from John Peterson and Participants


We want to welcome our
outgoing curator Jim Stockard to the
stage to welcome John Peterson, the incoming curator. [applause] Fortunately, nobody has a five
minute time limit on me, right? [laughter] I don’t know if this
will be the second or the third or the
eighth or the 10th time, but I just have to ask you
for a round of applause for Rob and for
[inaudible] and for Sally. This has been a just
fabulous reunion. Thank you guys. So I first met John
Peterson in 2005 when I went to interview him
as a candidate for the Loeb Fellowship. He had a very cool
architectural firm. They did very
elegant $2 million– and those were expensive in
those days– condominiums. Really fine detailing,
excellent materials, et cetera, et cetera. That had nothing to do with why
John got accepted for the Loeb Fellowship. He was accepted
because several years before, he’d founded
Public Architecture, which had two arms at that point. Really, really interesting. One was this world
of pro bono services that professionals
helping out folks who can’t afford their services
was kind of a new thing and John was starting Public
Architecture to encourage more firms to do that kind of work. He’s been outrageously
successful with that over the years. I’m not sure exactly
what the numbers are, but the amount of free
services that are now given to nonprofits because of
the work of public architecture is very substantial. Secondly, he said–
and those of you in the room who are architects,
landscape architects will really get this. He said most of
us architects only get to work on the
problems that come in the front door
with the client, and those are not the
most interesting problems. Many of the most interesting
problems don’t have a client. So let’s us find some
of those problems, design a solution with
our set of skills, and then go find
some clients, which I think is a wonderful
way of turning this profession on its
head for some of the work that it gets to do. So when John was selected as
the next curator of the Loeb Fellowship, I was
totally thrilled. And to give him more
time, just three reasons I want to say that. First of all, John
is a visionary. You architects in the
room know this, I’m sure, but those who aren’t don’t. When John started
Public Architecture, the idea of pro bono services
in the architectural field was actually anathema. Most people in the
architectural field felt that this was some kind of
a corruption of their practice. And not that there
weren’t architects doing this kind of work, but
the idea of pro bono services was quite a mystery. Now a decade later,
it’s a common practice. The last number I saw was
over 900 firms in the country donate over $28 million
worth of services to nonprofit
organizations every year. And there are– I’m sure
he’ll tell you– there are many people responsible. But the big person we point
to for that to have happened is John Peterson. So he’s a visionary. Secondly, John is a real leader. Along with many
others– and again, John will defer a
lot of the credit– but along with many
others, John has really helped to shape and
define– many of them are in this room
today– the field of public interest
design, who’ve claimed an idea that
these skills are here to help the entire society. And we’ve been talking
about it all weekend long. John has led the formation of
that whole subset of the design professions. And so he’s a great leader. Thirdly, John’s
part of our family. He’s a member of
the class of ’06. He understands this Fellowship. He believes in the
critical values that this Fellowship
believes in. And he has rich
ideas, some of which you’ll probably hear today,
of how to grow our Fellowship, how to make it
more impactful, how to make it a greater
contribution to the world. So in a word, John Peterson
has already changed the world and I expect him to spend
the next decade or a decade and a half teaching all of
us and a bunch of new Loebs how to keep changing the world. John Peterson. [applause] Matt, is this on? It is on. Jim, thank you so much. It’s uncomfortably
kind of you and it’s humbling for me to be here. I really wish that I could have
this talk over a dinner table with each one of
you, but I can’t. And so I thought sitting
here with you would be a little more disarming. [laughter] Ah. Well done. Well done. Well done. You heard Jim mentioned the two
arms of Public Architecture. That was awkward. [laughter] So to start with,
well, what I want to do is have a simple conversation. I want to start by saying
a little bit about myself. Jim’s already introduced a lot. I’ll add a little bit
more for those that just aren’t familiar with me. Then I want to talk
with you about something I don’t really know but that
you will be curious about, which is ideas that I have for the
future for the Fellowship. So I’m just going to share
with you my thoughts. Again, I don’t
really know, but I thought I would be
transparent as much as I can. And then finally, I’m hoping
for some Q&A at the end of this. But before I start
into that, I wouldn’t be here except for a
large group of people, starting with Charles Waldheim
and the selection committee that suggested my name
and others to the dean, and then of course,
the dean for hiring me. I don’t think this
was an easy choice. Honestly, I didn’t
see it coming myself, and I’ll talk a
little bit about that. But I’m very grateful
that he sat with me and we talked on
several occasions. And ultimately, he felt that
this was the right choice and so did I. Additionally, I also want
to thank Mark Mulligan, who, as you know, helped
advance the Fellowship in the year of transition. And he has been
absolutely wonderfully gracious about his time and
support and good feelings about helping me transition in. And then, of course,
Jim has always been a great supporter, as
he is for so many of you, and Sally Young for
working tirelessly– excuse me– to
allow my transition, the smooth transition
into this role. I always get choked up when
I talk about other people. So a little bit about me
that you haven’t already heard, but very quickly. I grew up in Kentucky. I was the son of a geologist and
a public television filmmaker, a documentary filmmaker. And I started in
this path training under a traditional
Japanese gardener and then actually
chose to go and start a very small construction
company, which I ran for a few years,
and then went back to school to the Rhode
Island School of Design to study landscape architecture. And I really wanted
an art-based education combined with the
technical knowledge that I felt I needed to
be a landscape architect. That then transformed to a
path and ultimately graduated with an architecture
degree from RISD. And then quite suddenly,
mostly because the economy was difficult– this is 1990– I
started my own practice, not really intending to do that,
but it was easier for me to find work with
clients than it was for me to find a job
that I wanted to work in. And I mention 1990 and it’s
important in this tale. 1990 really, by my
estimation, was the height of a sense within pedagogically,
within architecture, within the design education,
for architects as artists. And I don’t mean
that as pejorative, but it does come with
it some heroic ideas about the nature
of architecture, the isolation of the
visionary, the designer who wants to control their
vision and protect it. I came out of RISD
in 1990 very much believing in separating social
issues from design issues because I felt those
social issues, as did my colleagues that I came out of
school with and my instructors, helped erode the clarity
of design thinking. And I really believed in this. And I started a
practice, as I mentioned, and I ran that practice
for about 10 years. And my practice grew. It was still a very
modest practice. We got up to about
10 or 12 people. And our project scale grew. And we started to
have projects in-house that were having an impact on
entire neighborhoods, not just a family, not just
a small business, but entire neighborhoods. And when that happened,
my mind exploded a bit at the responsibility I
had as a good designer, which I felt I was really struggling
to be, and the kinds of issues I had to now tackle. I had to embrace the
eight-year-old school kid who I would never meet
that would walk by the building that we were going to design,
that we would impact their day, their workplace or their
parent’s workplace, where they shopped. We were having an
impact on that. And I became very,
very interested in tackling those more
complex project problems as part of the
kind of discipline, as Jim mentioned, of
refined detailing, thinking very carefully
about design intent. So it’s hard to turn
a practice quickly. Practices mature over time. So instead of
waiting for clients to come to us to
look at these issues, we simply turned to
our own neighborhood that we’d been in for more than
a decade, the South of Market of San Francisco,
and we said, what’s a problem right here in our own
backyard that we can tackle. And we can try out
these ideas that we have or this interest that we
of exercising these muscles that we were eager to exercise. And we chose a simple idea of
bringing a system of open space to South of Market. We wanted to be very
pragmatic about it. We looked at the politics. We looked at the cost. But we did so as an exercise. That got the attention of
the planning department that asked us to give a
lunchtime presentation. There were several public agency
reps that showed up to that. They give away free pizza. A good lesson to get
people to attend. And they said this
is a great idea. You should pursue it. In fact, you should
pursue it and we shouldn’t because
if we pursue it– this was someone from
the planning department– half the people will be against
it, whether it’s a good idea or not. But you could actually do
this in a different way. We didn’t really
know how quite to do that and that idea was
a really terrific one, but it had a fatal flaw. And another group called
Rebar solved that fatal flaw by doing it in a temporary way. And that has become these
parklets or parking day that’s now around the world. That was the beginning
of that movement. So this was exciting and it
was fun and it was interesting and it seemed joyfully
easy in a sense. And in a moment of
absolute reckless naivety, I thought, oh, we’ll start
a nonprofit organization and this is what we’ll do and
we’ll call Public Architecture and off we go. And thank god I was naive. Thank god I had
that sort of energy because if I looked at
this with any real insight, I’m sure I would have
stayed close to my practice and not done such a thing. But we stumbled along. My private practice, I
could be generous with. I didn’t have partners
and so I could misbehave in any way I wanted to. And I could invest
fairly heavily in the creation of
this organization. Eventually, I decided to let
my private practice finish off its work and focus 100%
on the organization. But quickly in the
development, as we started to look at what projects
we could pursue, we started asking questions
that went beyond projects to the entire profession. And I was not focused
on the profession. I wasn’t an AIA member. I was just doing my practice. I was working with my clients,
working with my staff. I didn’t really know
what was going on. But I started asking
questions like, well if we’re
interested in this, if I’m interested in this,
the child of an education that focused really on
design for design sake, there must be others
interested in this. This must be now a growing
swell of good intentions and excitement. And as we looked
out the mechanisms to support this
kind of work just didn’t exist in the profession. So in another moment
of recklessness, we thought, well, let’s
move the profession. And we had a simple idea. We’ll use pro bono service
like the law profession did. Let’s ask every design
firm in the country to give a minimum
of 1% of their time to pro bono service as a way,
as a kind of gateway drug to address the
distance that we had from working with particular
nonprofit organizations who were tackling these really
fascinating problems that we had identified, I had
identified at that later stage in my private practice. Jim gave us some numbers. Those numbers are
fortunately inaccurate. Now we’re over 1,400 firms. We’re doing approximately
$60 million, supporting approximately
$60 million annually. The organization has supported
now over $350 million in pro bono services
to nonprofits all over the country. [applause] Thanks. We’re in all 50 states. But let me share
with you– it’s been bootstrapped the whole way. It’s been white knuckled
thrills and we’ll continue, I’m sure, for a number
of years to come. And actually, with
my exit from the day to day operations of
this organization, I’m actually hoping
that we will get beyond the sort of bootstraps
founder-led organization to a much more professionalized,
focused, and systemized organization moving forward. And it’s one of the reasons that
it allowed me to that vision and allowed me to step away
from Public Architecture– I’m in the process of doing it
now– and step into this job. So along this path,
here we are, as I stated where the
organization is– I got an email asking me if
I would consider becoming the curator of the
Loeb Fellowship, and I ignored that email
because I wasn’t Jim Stockard and I was busy doing my
thing and that didn’t make any sense at all to me. And then I got a call
from Ed McNamara. And Ed helped me
reconsider this. [laughter] Those of you who know Ed,
he has an unusually quiet but persuasive way of
communicating with you and helping you see the
light, which he did slowly over several weeks. And frankly, I just simply
wouldn’t have this job if wasn’t for Ed. So after all this, after this
sort of conversation with Ed, after I stopped for a
moment and thought about it, I thought, you know, I thought
this wasn’t the job for me. Now I’m starting
to think that I’ve spent the last 25 years
getting ready for this job. I’ve started now
three businesses. I’ve worked with people who’ve
taken nontraditional paths in their career. I’ve coached lots
and lots of people through the beginning
stages of their career, through starting organizations. I’ve raised money. I’ve built things out of dirt. I’ve mostly done so without
a lot of the right education to do it. And I think the kinds of
things, the change we need, the sort of efforts that are
happening in the world often are happening in environments
where there aren’t blueprints for how to do it. And so that aspect of this feels
terribly comfortable to me. And I hope that I can use those
skills to help others do that. The last piece of my about
me is on the lighter side, and that’s the fact that I
don’t have a right arm anymore. Yeah, sorry. About three years
ago– and it’s maybe been uncomfortable for a few
of you here because many of you I probably haven’t
seen in three years and I had two arms the
last time I saw you. But about three years ago,
I got diagnosed with cancer. A rare thing, a category of
cancer, it’s called a sarcoma. Very aggressive, very dangerous. It was in my right forearm. It was wrapped around the
bone in my right forearm. It was not visible. And it grew pretty
rapidly and eventually, I realized that I needed
to see a doctor, and my partner Carol
convinced me to do that. And it was diagnosed
quite quickly and I underwent as
much chemotherapy as they’ll give human beings. And I, unfortunately,
lost my right arm. Good news is I’ve
been cancer free now for two and a half years
and what once was not a very rosy prognosis
now is actually a fairly rosy prognosis. So it’s good for me to be here. [applause] So a funny segue. John Loeb had intestinal cancer. He had a piece of his colon
removed, a fellow amputee. And from that experience, or at
least from his autobiography, he reported that he wanted
to be a better person. He wanted to be a
softer, kinder person. And this is leading up
to his work with the GSD. He became an overseer for
the GSD to help– many of you know this story– to
help the GSD raise funds. And he befriended Gropius
and Gropius became his ally. And I think that’s
interesting and exciting because the work of the
Fellowship, I believe, is absolutely tied to
a modernist tradition. And those of you will remember
that when modernism really was coming into its own,
there was a great conversation about the overlap between
the built environment and health and society,
just natural light and connection to outdoors
could change people’s lives. And sadly, in the
translation, I think, in this country
and others, we lost that vision of the overlap
of a modern sensibility about architecture and design
and health and social outcomes. And there was a split between
socially progressive ideas and design progressive ideas. And we’ve been suffering,
I think, for decades ever since that happened. Now, we saw the rise in the
’60s and ’70s around this idea, but we still had the socially
progressive and the design progressives on two sides of the
aisle, never to dance together or rarely to dance together. And so it’s
important to remember that in 1969 when this was
conceived, in 1970 when the Loeb Fellowship was
created– Bill was there to witness all that and
maybe he’ll have something to add to this later– we
saw a heightened interest in social outcomes, societal
outcomes for the design of the built environment. We haven’t seen that interest
come together until now. So we’ve really, except
in the beginning, really been swimming upstream against
the tide or against the current for the last 40 plus years. But this is actually the
time for us to thrive. We haven’t seen this
in all of this time. We should be absolutely
thrilled and we should be ahead of the curve here. And we should accept that
we are ahead of the curve and we’re not
fighting for the rear. So this comes back to a simple
notion that I hold in my head when I think about what
it is we’re here to do, and that notion was that in the
late 1960s when Bill and John Loeb were having
these conversations, cities were in trouble. I’m sure John and Francis,
who have lived in New York City, all they had to do was
look out their window– Upper East Side, so maybe
they, you know, didn’t see as much
out their window, but they certainly were aware
that the city around them was in crisis and that they
wanted to solve that problem. They wanted to help
address that problem. And if I spend time– and this
is going to become important as I talk about the future– if
I spend time thinking about how do we craft the path
of this institution, I think about that
problem solving desire, that great responsibility, that
need, the opportunity to solve problems. Just want to make sure–
yeah, one-armed guy and paper is going to be challenging. So let’s talk about where
we are and a little bit about the future. In a very simplistic way,
but it’s useful for me to think this way sometimes. In a very simplistic way, I
feel like what Bill and Jim have done– Bill, who helped
conceive of and create this extraordinary institution,
gave it vision– and then Jim who has invested so
heavily on the experience of the Fellows– it’s
really extraordinary. You all know this,
right, that there’s layers upon layers of enriched
experience that you get. And these gentleman, with
the help of others– and I’ll just hit the iceberg or
the tip of the iceberg– Sally Young have made
this what it is today. And it feels to me like I’ve
been handed this exquisitely crafted car that’s fully
tuned up, that’s got a full tank of
gas, and now my job is to figure out where
to drive it to next. So if I think that what’s
really been done here is the craft of the
experience of the Fellows, where I think I can
offer some opportunity, or there’s a place
where we can go is the building of
the institution. So what do I mean by that? Here’s where I think
there’s opportunity that is right for us over the
next several years to tackle. But before I do that,
I do want to say that there’s some
things that have been started which I’ll continue. One, I will continue to tweak
the experience of the Fellows, forgive me. That will be a
never-ending process. And I’d like to look,
experiment with ideas of bringing a little
more structure to the Fellowship experience,
experiment with this. I think we need to
be very careful. I think the open nature, the
loose nature of the Fellowship is enormously valuable,
but I do want to see about how we can improve that. I want to continue the
really extraordinary work– and the dean
mentioned it– that’s been done about helping
to support the overlap, the connectedness, the
co-leveraging of resources between the Fellowship
and the GSD. I think there’s an
awful lot of opportunity still to be had
there on both sides. And then I want to help
continue to support our tech infrastructure. We’re going to be redoing
the website for both outreach and internal communications. So those things I’ll continue
with Sally’s help and others. But on the sort of institutional
side, as I mentioned, I think we have an opportunity
to articulate the mission. This gets back to this
sort of reflection on why was this started, this
idea that there are problems that can be addressed, and the
communication of that mission much more broadly. So can we articulate, meaning
write that mission down? Can we as a community feel
good about that mission? Then can we communicate that
mission outside of ourselves? What’s fascinating, I think
because we’ve had really two stewards up until now is even
though that mission has not been written down, at
least as I’ve seen it, I think we all have it
in our hearts and minds. And I bet if we
all wrote it down, we’d get very, very close to
our neighbors in what that is. And I think that there’s
been a kind of oral tradition or beyond oral tradition
about what that mission is. And I think that’s
terrific, but I think we’re at a
time when it might be very useful to actually
articulate that mission and be able to point at it,
share it, and like I said, share it outwardly. So that’s one thing. The other thing that I think
we have an opportunity to do is to help aggregate
the knowledge that has passed through
this institution, that lives beyond this institution. We’ve invested in
individuals brilliantly. Those individuals have
gone out into the world and brought knowledge
and intelligence out into the world, but we’ve
not captured it here in a way that builds
upon itself and allows us to move the conversation
around any specific topic that we may choose. So what I would like
to do is to start thinking about what are those,
what are the three, what are the four, what are the
five topics that are really critical, that we
think are critical right now that we can invest
in over the next three years, five years, 50 years. And then can we get
that conversation that we house in some way–
exactly what this looks like, I don’t know yet– but
that we house in some way that again begins to move the
larger global conversation on those topics. And I’ll share with you
some of those topics. I’m happy, if somebody
wants to know specifically the sort of topics that I’m
thinking about, just thinking, and maybe the
vehicles by which we would do that, I’m happy to talk
to you about my early ideas. And then finally, let’s see. Is that the final one? No, there’s two more. So the other one is
leveraging the alumni network. This is the hardest one I think. But how do we begin to
point the alumni network? We already do this
to some degree, but I think we can
do it a lot better. How do we point the alumni
network at problems? How do we select alumni,
give opportunity for alumni to work together towards
change, to apply your expertise, your knowledge, your networks
to a specific problem? I actually have some
experience with this because of the matching that
we do, have done within Public Architecture. I both know a little
bit of how to do is and I also know how hard it
is to do it with individuals. So this is not an easy
thing, but is also a terrifically interesting
thing to think about. And that’s not just
the alumni network. Obviously, it’s the
current Fellows, but it’s hard not to focus
on the alumni network. Finally, I would love it if
we could help build the GSD’s voice in the
growing conversation about the overlap between
design excellence and societal outcomes. I think this is an
exciting time at the GSD. You’ve seen it here. You heard about the Black
in Design Conference. You, I hope, can
feel it in the air. And if you haven’t had
a chance to do that, come spend more time here. It’s not to be
underestimated, I believe. And it’s not just at the GSD,
but it’s terribly exciting that it’s happening at the GSD. And I really would
love to be a catalyst– and say “we,” the royal we–
the catalyst for the GSD to help them capture this
really exciting momentum around this topic. I started the shift– I started
Public Architecture– I started the shift in my practice, in
my way of thinking with two simple ideas– that the
built environment was a criminally underutilized
tool for social change and that those separations
between progressive design thinking and progressive social
thinking was unacceptable. I’m happy to take questions. [applause] No questions? So thank you very much. One over here. I think that was great and
inspiring in many ways. [interposing voices] All right. [inaudible] Here we go. Actually, in the top. That was great. That was extremely inspiring
and sharing the personal reasons you care about these things
because I think they reflect and magnify that in all of us. Could you mention what you
think some of those topics were? You said you were happy to
talk about it in terms of– Yeah, I did say that, didn’t I? Well, I think
there needs to be– I haven’t chatted about these
topics with hardly anyone and I haven’t talked
to the dean about it. And that really needs to be
a much broader conversation. But I mean I think there’s
real excitement and momentum and money, which is valuable,
in the overlap between health outcomes and the
built environment. There’s a lot of
interest within, particularly public
health, and also just health in general about
the role that the built environment plays. I think there’s an
enormous opportunity to take advantage of that. So that would certainly be one. I think we heard–
and [inaudible]– I hope I’m getting
his name right– mentioned new ways to
democratize the information we get and the way we think
about design decisions. I think that kind of engagement
is ripe for transformation and I see shamefully
small investments in that. We’ve had wonderful
investments in that in the past and we continue– there
are people who do it. But as a tool that’s
available to everyday projects around the world, we’re
quite flat footed. And so I think that would be
an exciting area to invest in. So things like
that where there’s opportunity that happens,
that we’re in the right time, the right resources
are available, I’d like to build on
those kinds of things. John has a question. Does anybody have a mic? Jean, do you still have a mic? [inaudible] Just a second, John. Why don’t you– yeah. Two comments and an observation. One is that I suspect I’m
the oldest in Loeb years here present now. And for me, the 40 some
years I’ve been in on this have been marvelous, thanks
to what I’ve seen here. The second comment
I wanted to make is I am always a
little bit concerned when people, in a general
sense, speak of problems and solutions, that you can
go to a situation in Ecuador, or Ghana, Mumbai and find
problems, problems aplenty, but you won’t find
single solutions. That link between a
problem and a solution is a very special one. And it comes, for
me, under the guise of an issue and an action. And what I sense and welcome
greatly in your approach, John, is that you do see the world
as a place where issues abound, but as many freedoms are present
to allow you a path of action. Thirdly, I wanted to just
say personally thank you to the selection committee. Your efforts led to us
finding John here today. Thank you, John. [applause] I just wanted to riff
off what you brought, this idea about problems
and maybe let’s call them simple answers to problems. I think that’s– it’s sort of
like fast food in that you can go to it, you can get immediate
satisfaction, but ultimately, it’s not a healthy path. And so one of the really
extraordinary things– and this is coming from a
guy who I mentioned started a small practice,
a small service business and architect– a
very fragile thing, a small architectural practice–
and a small nonprofit, very fragile thing. Now, I’m the curator of an
enormously robust thing. It has an endowment. And unless the Western
world falls into the sea, the Loeb Fellowship
will be here. And so we can make
multi-generational bets and we can invest
and we can think about 50 years and 100 years. That’s a terribly exciting
thing to think about and it’s a terribly exciting
thing to experiment with. And we should be taking risks. Coming from an
organization that puts sprinkles risk on
its breakfast cereal every day, the idea of
being in an institution that has the fortitude to take risk–
I will do so responsibly– I hope to promise– I
promise that I hope to do it. But I do think we
should take some risks. Mic. I wanted to follow up on
your alumni with a suggestion that over the years–
I was ’86, ’87 Loeb. The age of the Loebs for many
years was pretty much the same and now we’re seeing
younger Loebs, but there’s a whole group of
us who are in our ’60s and ’70s beginning to have
more free time. And I think really
exploiting the alumni to do some radical things, I
hope, is where we need to go and we should
really work on that. [applause] So that’s my main suggestion. But my other one is as
a person very involved in community greening
and open space. I’ve always felt that
the Loeb Fellowship was rather weak in that area and I
hope that we see more of that. [applause] Yeah, somebody, I
think it was Jim. Jim and I had
lunch the other day and Jim talked about
this community of alumni that now have more time. And we were having
fun calling them super alumni or something– Geezer Loebs. Well, we were– thought super
alumni was a little bit better. [laughter] Mic. Yeah, mic. This side? No? No. Well, [inaudible] ’04. And I felt incredibly
honored to have been welcomed into the Loeb family. I’m not a design professional. I work on urban
natural resource issues and I feel really fortunate
to have been invited. And you did reference the built
and the social numerous times. And the current announcement
for applications is looking for design, folks
in the design professions. And I know– I’m assuming that
there will still be opportunity for folks who are not in
the design professions to come into the Loeb family. I’m just curious about the
integration of the natural, the social, and the built. What was the first one? The natural? The natural, the social. Yeah. No, no. You must be a designer to
come into the Fellowship from this point forward. [laughter] Clearly, there’s going
to be opportunity and we’ll continue to– I
mean, I’m saying that here. I do believe there’s
enormous value in folks that have influence over the shaping
of the built environment that don’t fit the traditional
definition of designer. They may not be
trained as designers. So I see no reason
not to continue that. I’ll connect that with
another thought, which is the positive
relationship that I think we can continue
to build upon with being in a design school. So when we do engage
people who are not traditional designers, who
are not trained as designers, how do we bring them into
a design school environment so that they help support the
design school and vice versa. So I will be looking for
that kind of synergy. But I do think it’s
really exciting, the role that the Fellowship plays. We can reach people
and bring them to a design school
that otherwise would be very challenging to do. So I think that continues to be
an important thing to build on. I think we cannot separate
built and natural environment. I’ll be honest. In one sense, I
would like to do. And the reason I would like
to is because it’s just hard to do everything. In some ways, I’d
like to just focus on urban and just built
environment, urban stuff. But unfortunately,
I don’t think we can do that given the
charter that we have, the basic things that we know
as to why this institution was created. And so I feel like I have to
accept that responsibility and we have to
continue to do that. Charles. Just give me time to
think of my question. All right, good. But you knew you wanted to talk. [laughter] I’m not one of those,
but you inspired me. You know, the reason why we
often don’t do bigger projects is because we can’t afford it. You have got a lot
of free people here, free, experienced, willing,
people who are, I think, inspired by your challenge
that we do something critical. So when we were thinking about
what the Alumni Council should do, we did a little
strategic planning exercise, and that gave us some focus. And so we said here are all
the things that we’d like to do and here are the things that
would have a good return. And our goal at
that time was to get the alumni to work together so
that the Loeb Fellowship could continue. And that when Tessa spoke
about, well, gee, some of us will have more
free time, it just made me realize what a
resource that that is. So the purpose of this
is just to encourage you to put together
a little group to– you can treat us like
we work for you and we will. That’s both exciting and
terrifying all at once. [laughter] So Charles, I hope
you didn’t tell them that I’m retiring at
the end of the year. No, seriously, Tessa– I’ve
said this for a couple of years to some folks. I think there should
be a Loeb corps. And I think Jim and
Sue also inspired us at the beginning of
the day with what they could be done in
a week in some places and then there’s different
levels and grains of that. But there are many of
us who like each other, would like to work
with each other, want to continue to learn from
each other, which is important as we get into our
retirement years, and where we could
add a lot of value. And I think it would be a great
thing for younger professionals to see the experience and
passion and commitment and dedication and learning
for the social justice path that you’re talking
about of the crossover. Obviously, I’m a
lawyer by training. I worked in community
development and housing and poor communities for my
whole career, 45 years now. And I maybe immodestly think
that a perspective of someone who does both policy,
advocacy, and then also was a policy
maker for a time, or a civil rights lawyer
bringing a fair housing suit, or someone building a
museum, or someone writing a book about it, that those
are things that should enrich the Fellowship and aren’t
at some second stepchild, or different level of
citizenship or agency for design
professionals, especially if you want to achieve those
goals you’re talking about, the crossover between design
and social betterment. So I think we all need
to be in this work together, that the
conversation has to be broader. And frankly, I think that
the school and the students would benefit. I mentored an urban planning
student when I was here. I did crossover work. I brought somebody
from the law school who taught local
government to the GSD who then became a teacher here. There is much more
of silo breaking even at Harvard, let alone
the world at large, that we can be ambassadors
and connective tissue for. And I would be heartbroken
if we lost that unique aspect of the Loeb Fellowship. So I’m looking for some Loeb
corps, emeritus Loeb corps to do great stuff
cross-disciplinary together, and I hope you’ll lead us
in some of those efforts. But I really
congratulate you, John. We’re proud from the Bay
Area to have one of our own and we look forward
to working with you and watching this
amazing organism continue to grow organically. Me too. Well, you know, this
is a group of Loebs who can talk forever
with John, but we do have some other things upcoming. So I think that John’s
here for the duration. I’m here. [applause] We thank you very much. Thank you. And I know I speak for
everyone that we look forward to working with you. I do personally and I’m
sure each one of us does. And echo what some of
the other older Loebs have said, that we would
love to stay involved. So we have a couple
of things in closing. Let’s see. First of all,
we’ve asked a group of people, whoever
was asked, to say seven words about what’s
happened over the past two days. And then after those
seven words, we’ll talk. The Knowledge Cafes are next. And Ken and Barbara will
tell people where those are, remind where they are. And then of course, we’ll
see everyone tonight, I hope everyone. At 7 o’clock, the festivities
begin here in Piper and then in some of the other
venues around where we’ll have dinner and dancing. And I guess a couple of words
because what are a Fellowship without words? So I will start. I will start with my not
seven, but six words. Talk is good, action is better. My words are, we
define a better way to manage failure and
incentivize innovation. I didn’t put them in a thought. Inspiration, impact, values,
collegiality, laughter, passion, and ideas. Human urbanizing impulse,
opportunity index and climate ready. Hi, my name is Nedra
Fears, Loeb ’93. Activist designers who enhance
communities and ecosystems. Eli Spevak, 2014. Reconnect, reinspire
to boldness. Refocus further down
the income spectrum. Enterprise a great dance
night for New Orleans tonight. Jamie Gloucester, ’15. We still have a
lot of work to do and we are the ones
we’ve been waiting for. Energizing, engaging,
reconnecting, resourceful, provocative, humorous, and fun. Matt Kiefer, ’96. You’ll sense a theme here. Loebism as a
disruptive technology. With our challenge
up here above us, I’d like to say that knowledge
is not all in this room. I have only four words. Connecting, engaging,
challenging, and proactive. Thank you. I said perspective,
hope, and courage to go beyond what do
we think is possible. The capacity for the network
to learn is limitless. That’s even high for me. Burden and joy of leadership. Energy, risk, and urgency. Engaging with the world is the
best on-ramp for changing it. Before I say mine, a quick
hello to the Twitter world. Talent plus heart plus allies
makes incredible things possible. Don’t leave the world
to chance down below. Look it up. A little low tech animation
in sync with R and E. Recall, reimaging, respect, evolve,
engage, excite, and reconnect. Barbara Knecht to ’93 and
Vanna White, ’82, but as you know, he talks also. [laughter] And this is our chance to start
working together and talking. It sounds like a good ending
to that wonderful talk by John Peterson. This is the interactive
engagement with your other Loeb Fellows, the Knowledge Cafes. We have eight cafes. You have them in your program on
page eight with the locations. We also have a– In the middle. In the middle, yes. We also have a
poster here if you don’t have your booklet
with you or can’t steal one from someone next you. They’re up in the
smaller rooms on the second, fifth,
fourth, first four. They’re starting at 3 o’clock. They go for two hours. Are the hosts in the room? Stand up, please. We’re not going to ask
you to introduce them, but so that when
you walk in the room and you don’t see
one of these people, you’re in the wrong room. Can we start at 3:15? It’s 3:00. No. 3:15? Is that a consensus, 3:15? OK. Other very important
announcement. [inaudible], where are you? If you are a leader of
one of the Knowledge Cafes and you have not gotten
the CEU sign-in sheet, please raise your hand so
[inaudible] can give it to you. Further information. You’ve signed up for
them, but I think it’s probably OK
to try to join one even if you haven’t signed up. Yeah. And there are two tours. Oh, two tours. That’s not my job. Come on over. Come on over. Do remember that
these are interactive. Don’t let your leader– –talk to you death. –only talk you to death. You talk to them and each other. Talk back. So Jim is leading a housing
tour and there’s a bus in front. And [inaudible] is leading the
tour of the Cooper Gallery. And where are we
meeting you [inaudible]? Right out front. Out front as well. So thank you all and I’ll
see you tonight, I hope.

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