Building Hope by Resisting Pessimism
To carry your environmental vision into the work world, stay calm in the storm.
Inspired by Wendell Berry’s observation that “to be patient during an emergency is a terrible trial,” we explored this idea in our interviews. Last week, we saw the allure of easy solutions to complex problems and the need for impatience in some situations. As each of these young graduates started working in an architecture firm, their environmental vision was put to the test. And their perspective changed.
Juhi Goel agreed that patience is necessary, but noted the downside of tuning out when challenges arise. “It's important to be patient because there's so much to learn before you might have actual solutions and be able to actively contribute, but at the same time, I think waiting till you know everything can be a bit of a trap. I’ve met people who said, ‘Oh, yeah, I used to be into that, but, you know, you learn and you realize that things are expensive and it's just not gonna happen and you just gotta move on.’ There's a little bit of jadedness that comes with every profession and in ours, this is sort of the burden that we need to carry, which is that we have to keep pushing for things to get better.”
Melonee Quintanilla acknowledged that, “it's critically important that we get a lot of things right in the next fifty years.” She put that in perspective for herself: “I know that the climate and everything is changing, but at the same time, I know myself and I know that urgency can sometimes override logic and that sometimes calm in the storm is what you need.”
Jemimah Asamoah emphasized the importance of thinking long-term: “If you think, we need a solution right now, it may not last past five years.” She recommends instead, “having the patience to consider how choices you make now can still be effective in the next twenty or fifty years,” and extolls the value of such patience, “to get it right once and for all.”
Jazmin Inoa sees the necessity of patience in “planning, collecting resources, making sure that you're going to effectively address the emergency. Instead of being immediately reactive, try to gauge how things are playing out and address them as you go.”
Leah Clark admits that “it is really hard to be patient—with everything that's happening. With government initiatives to address the many issues like war, climate change, access to housing, food; it's just all getting worse and everything is happening at a snail’s pace. There needs to be more of a sense of urgency because, in terms of climate change, just encouraging people to recycle plastic bottles or use an aluminum straw is not enough. We need to be holding people accountable at this stage. Like real drastic measures need to be taken. Not enough is being done.”
On the other hand, Leah sees the realism that, as Jasmine said, “Good solutions take time. So you have to be patient in terms of really thinking about solutions to these problems.” She closed with, “It's torturous.”
The nature of architecture is planning, which is conservative and slow moving by default. It’s a big ask for these young people to be patient when the complex systems in which we operate move so slowly. It helps to keep in perspective that none of this happened overnight, so to unravel and rebuild it will take time. What advice do you have for these hopeful, optimistic young architects?
Thanks for reading Building Hope! Subscribe for free to receive brief weekly updates.
This project is supported by a Faculty-Student Research Award from the Graduate School, University of Maryland, as well as grants from the University’s Sustainability Fund and the School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation.