What a week! When contemplating driving to downtown LA on Wednesday to hear what I was sure would be a fantastic discussion between Wolf Prix and Sylvia Lavin regarding the brand new tower of a school on Grand Avenue, I told my friend Whitney: This week I have chosen the election over architecture. That, I believe, is a shift of consciousness. Or, at the very least, an overt awareness of a shift long in the making.
To vastly oversimplify, I used to see the world through architecture, but now I see architecture through the world. There will be more on that in the weeks to come.
But now, to bask for one more moment in the glory that is this just-passed election.... wow. wow. wow. And the big wow is that we all did it together, we all focused our energy, gave of our time, joined in the cause. What it represents to me is not only the ground breaking idea of who Obama is as a person - black, mixed race, underdog, young, vital, vibrant, liberal, kind, considerate, prioritizing equity, education and rights; or that we all feel we are part of his family, part of his inner circle; or that the rest of the world is once again on our team. What it represents to me is that one person really can change the world. One person really can make a difference. Whatever he does from here on out may be scrutinized, may be more or less what we hope for in terms of our own political objectives, but there is no question that he has mobilized, energized, and unified - locally to globally - in a way I have not seen in my lifetime. It is that engagement, that excitement, that sense of purpose and generosity that we must absorb, expand, export.
In light of that, I ran across an article on the NPR website that Obamaizes the famous JFK aphorism, "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country." (click here for a link to the article) Though I find his example of journalism a bit weak, his sentiment is strong. In this week, and the weeks to come, what is it we can each do to bring that sense of generosity, equity, and optimism to our own smaller sphere? And not necessarily where it is easiest - to family and friends - but to your community and to your profession. What is a more equitable and optimistic law firm, architecture practice, university, insurance company, film studio, lower school, retail store? What part can it play, can they play, can you play? What can we learn as individuals, as practitioners of our own art, as citizens and humans from this past campaign and its successes? 'Yes we can' is so resolutely different from 'country first' because it is all inclusive, undeniably optimistic, personal, confident and yet egoless.
Many of us got a bit teary on Tuesday, and again when the newspaper covers appeared on Wednesday. I thought it was over until I got a link to this flikr site. Who but Obama would make us feel like we were in the room with him when it happened? Sitting there, watching the TV returns just like we all were doing across the country, across the world, just another member of this family, our family, all of us.