:: At least start it… ::

To write a professional blog post.

That’s on the list of things to do.

So here it begins, for all to see. Like any good work – type and get those fingers moving. Amazing connection betwixt the tips and the synapsis.

Dream job manifestation period is in full swing, therefore, lets start with a broad visionary origin:

Poet of fortuitous abundance to rice the plates and roof the heads.

Words and images of perceptions, like a philosopher, describing humans, and our company (dogs, cats, hermies) – but mostly our interesting, rhythmic human behavior ways.  People, me being one, move in interesting patterns.  We chose our path often, but often we find ourselves mechanical, with straightcoats of definition. So I wish to speak of these noticings, in poet ways – but directly translated to the young eager minds who spark continued research.

Yes, I’ll speak more than just as a poet, as the scientist in me is also finally free. With the looming PhD, soon to be conferred, I shall merit methods and data analysis in manners becoming familiar. So the evidence mounts, Davis is seering into the built environment.

The world will accept this or they will not – for the world is you, my friend, wide cheeked bright-eyed innocent one, before adult-ing became the norm.

Oh how I would love to redesign the childhood bedroom, with lists of future baby names and a record player scratching out some Police or Doors…I could move the bed across the room and feel how I changed, just that much, on the inside.

So directing my life.


Two full years have passed since these words were wrote (dated March 2016, today being Feb 6 2018!). Were on this great green earth does the time go? And now, rereading it, I like it some and well enough and feel brave enough to hit the “publish” button so I can carry on with the modern day now.

Until then, happy space, place and meaning making, my mates.



:: on the radio ::

Last month I had the good fortune to be interviewed for the Think: Health radio program on the community radio station

2SER-FM 107.3


Also included in the show are my supervisor and the lead for the Birth Unit Design research project, Maralyn Foureur, fellow PhD candidate Athena Hammond, as well as a guided tour of a newly remodeled birth unit (based on the principles from the Birth Unit Design Spatial Evaluation Tool – BUDSET) by Michael Nicholl – Clinical Director for the Divison of Women’s, Children’s & Family Health at Royal North Shore Hospital.

Have a listen to our collective work – the producer who hosts the show, Ellen Leabeater even calls it pioneering, which feels quite flattering.

-•- Birth Unit Design radio show on 2SER-FM 107.3 -•-

My bit starts at —>> 25:14 <<—

Alternatively, you can listen to my interview in its entirety

—> HERE <—

Let me know what you think.

Until then, happy space, place and meaning making, my mates.


:: BUD ethical approval process paper::

The ethical approval process for conducting video-ethnographic research article has been published! Find a glimpse here ~ please get in touch with me if you’d like to a copy for your own personal interest.

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 10.59.04 PM

Short and sweet blog-post my friends.

Please do let me know your thoughts on the subject of trying to gain ethical approval for research concerned with – as they are typically considered – “vulnerable” populations, such as women in labour.  They have the ability to communicate and decide for themselves, yet the hospital system and ethical boards (IRB’s, HRECs) tend towards overprotection at the risk of not understanding the needs of women in labour, therefore, our continued acceptance of medicalised birth.

Until then, happy space, place and meaning making, my mates.



As I (attempt to) whip up and polish two different results papers for upcoming submission, two musings have surfaced:

  1. First how best to encourage busy supervisor/co-authors to also “whip it up”? Do you have any techniques for  prompting yet not annoying?
  2. I am reminded of how soothing I find it to place a body of text (for instance a table of recommendations) into Wordle so I can make beautiful word clouds.
very complex data coming from multiple perspectives with many forms can become overwhelming feeling - but wordle helps me regain a sense of art within the science
Complex data coming from multiple perspectives with many forms can feel overwhelming to me – but the program “Wordle” helps me regain a sense of art within the science and control over the chaos.

On a related note, next week Tui and I will be worldschooling our way to LA for my first EDRA conference (that is, Environmental Design Research Association)!  Grammie will join us so they can cavort around the pool all day, while I present and network.  I had hoped to make it to the Providence conference two years ago, but as we were still in Sydney and making moving-back plans, the timing didn’t suit. I am very excited for this year, as the EDRAites are a group of thinkers and doers whose work I greatly admire and frequently cite.  I also hope to reconnect with peers from earlier days and scheme up some novel and paradigm shifting research plans for the future.  Plus, LA is a rather simple jaunt (knock on wood) compared to last years journey Tui and I made to Prague for the International Confederation of Midwives triennial conference!

Mindblowing anticipated…in reality and gently please, with lots of future work too, okay universe? =]

Until then, happy space, place and meaning making, my mates.


:: “Methods” Paper ::

For easy access, the Birth Unit Design methods paper is

—->>>> •• HERE •• <<<<—-

Harte, J. D., Leap, N., Fenwick, J., Homer, C. S. E., & Foureur, M. (2014). Methodological insights from a study using video

           ethnography to conduct interdisciplinary research in the study of birth unit design. International Journal of Multiple

           Research Approaches, 8(1), 36-48.

New and old :: construction projects or “How long does it take to build that building?”

We drove by this building and Tui exclaimed, “Ooh look, a new house!”

new construction spurred an interesting conversation

This is actually going to be a healthcare building, but Tui does like to figure things out on her own, rather than be told.  As a ‘process’ person, I savored our ensuing conversation about “How long will it take to build that building?”  I am not a construction manager, although I did work on a project management project on a major historic campus building renovation a few years ago. I know time frames can vary widely. It seems that some prefab buildings can be built almost overnight, whereas buildings of old may have taken much longer due to available technologies of the time.  I couldn’t show Tui, but I explained how I had seen this construction project being worked on as I drove by one time – a crane lifted a pre-assembled triangle of wood to build the roof.

I also tried to express to her, about how when I worked at the Frank Lloyd Wright building – The Gordon House, just before I married her dad, that the craftsmanship and precision needed (both sets of construction specialists needed to work together – in partnership and simultaneously) meant a longer time for construction.

images The Gordon House, a Frank Lloyd Wright home in Silverton, Oregon – located at The Oregon Garden.

The new-ness of this building, and Tui’s interest in ‘how’ this happens and ‘how long’ has me thinking of a few things:

Is she interested because I am interested in built spaces?

Or is she interested in her own right?

How are these two things related?


Isn’t it interesting to try to see quality in process – can we see craftsmanship in action? What do we think about a quickly-built building versus one that takes a long time to construct?

St Peter’s Basilica in Italy – groundbreaking 1506/completed 1626 = 120 years!

Oh, and another query – are there any truly long-term buildings being built anymore? Historic buildings that a person could not witness both the beginning and the end result- like St Peters Basilica in Rome?

To follow this line of thinking – how do buildings age? What happens to old buildings? The Gordon House has regular volunteer opportunities to restore and maintain it’s integrity. Homeowners repair and mend their houses as they are able. Perhaps the house in the picture at the bottom will intrigue you with it’s ‘return to nature’ roof – covered in moss and greenery.  Not officially a ‘roof garden’ but yes, it’s a ‘roof garden’…a building being lived in, while it is in the process of being reclaimed by nature. Here is a whole book on the question and I adore how they chose the title words with care: How Buildings Learn 280px-How_Buildings_Learn_(Stewart_Brand_book)_cover(as opposed to How Buildings Age).

For the record, I don’t propose that a building needing 120 years to build is necessarily any better quality than say, one built by children and a few grown-up over the course of a few days – in terms of the “felt-quality” in the heart of the occupant.  Take this grin as fodder for this philosophy.

Child (and grown-up) built fort at our favorite Avery House nature play/place.
Tui at our favorite Avery House nature play/place.

Thank you for joining my child/person centered building space musings.  I’ve got some round-inspired niggling at my built environment thoughts…

Old mossy roofed home.

Until then, happy space, place and meaning making, my mates.


the tao: mobiles, Legos and a big leaf

The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.

The name that can be named is not the eternal Name.

The unnamable is the eternally real.

Naming is the origin of all particular things.

Free from desire, you realize the mystery.

Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.

Yet mystery and manifestations arise from the same source.

This source is called darkness.

Darkness within darkness.

The gateway to all understanding.

                     -The Tao te Ching, Stephen Mitchell translator

polished driftwood mobile, one of four at our Unitarian Universalist church. perfect for attention restoration – crafted by Lew Pennock

Space begins with emptiness. Ouroboros. You know, the snake eating its own tail? A mythic symbol said to relate to our psyche’s process of self-reflexivity. Thank you for joining this journey with me: my time for self-reflexivity and verbal meandering. A type of self-nurturing that is long overdue.

I‘ve written about reflexivity in research:

“Reflexivity, as we understand it, is a patterned research approach that involves being engaged in the data while systematically alternating between the various interpretive layers in an aware and enquiring manner so as to realise on-going appreciation of the participants’ experiences, the placement of the phenomenon within larger sociological contexts and the researchers’ involvement (Alvesson & Sköldberg, 2000).” – Harte, Leap, Fenwick, Homer and Foureur, 2014

Just an FYI, to keep the academic here ^^ – although I do believe what I wrote there, it does sound rather, dogmatic? Never mind.

In terms of my own thinking process and the movement of my understandings of designed spaces and people’s learning and experiences, I step aside and watch the unfolding of this understanding.

This morning Tui and I headed over to our occasional Unitarian Universalist church.  When our family is home, she and I like to go for some fellowship and singing. We are away many weekends and day trips, as we love to be out and about in the world, but when we are home, we try to go. She is inspired to learn about the worlds’ religions and even more motivated to spend time with other children and adults. I am certainly happy to spend some time reflecting, singing and creating open space in myself.  Being the always learning type of family, we leave Kiwi at home where he can take a run, as he did today, or home working on other days, and we alight to this beautiful building.  After gazing at neighbors faces, out the windows, at a the framed art and at the pastor’s beautiful stole, I found myself watching the mobiles.

These mobiles, I tell you, are a prime reason I make the effort to leave our own nest on these occasional Sundays. There are four of them, and they are crafted by a skilled hand – a man named Lew Pennock. The driftwood, being one of my own favorite natural artifacts, has been polished or stained in such a way as to create a soft deep glow. The room’s ceiling is topped by a large skylight, which floods the room with daylight. The mobiles remind me of the many benefits of positive distractors, in most any setting, especially healthcare, my current setting of research.  Letting the eyes rest gently on something fascinating is one important element in the practice of attention restoration.  Kaplan and Kaplan developed this theory in the 1980s and it has been a guiding one for my own research and interests since I learned of it in the mid-oughts. (2006/2007?).

The intriguing space – great example of ‘positive distractors’ that I think are essential especially in healthcare settings.

The rest of the day consisted of fading fast at Home depot, where some LED lightbulbs were purchased, among other household stuff. Both Tui and I tried our hardest to make it fun, but with the Super Bowl looming, no real nourishment in sight, it was a long afternoon. The first 2 quarters Kiwi and I watched the game (I’m from New England but live 4 hours south of Seattle – who to cheer for – part of the Tao, I reckon) while Tui watched the Doozers, PBS’s design/innovators kids animation. From there, she and I recommenced our Lego train station work. She asked for a train set for Christmas, so now a train oval track dominates her entire bedroom floor, but it was lacking a station. Here is a view

Tsui working to get the train properly situated on the tracks, with the train station at the foreground. She took care of the interior design, while I did the walls.
Tui working to get the train properly situated on the tracks, with the train station at the foreground. She took care of the interior design, while I did the walls.

Tui thought about the details – where to put the pool, where the toddlers should go, and who could sit on the reclining chair (“just old people”). I worked on the walls. and made sure there were plenty of windows and doors at both the ‘street’ and ‘platform’ sides. These Legos all came from ‘predetermined’ sets.   Many were the ‘friends’ series, or ‘creator’ series, but we jumble them all together now and, although she doesn’t show any interest yet in searching out specific pieces, she is opening up her imagination to creating spaces, places and meaning.

With her emotions a bit bumpy after her Grandad’s recent departure back to his own home – he was here since November – after another moment of upset, she moved herself into the space next to her bed. An IKEA leaf typically hovers over her bed, but she can move it at an angle to create a little quick green den for herself. She felt better almost instantly. The choice of how to create one’s own privacy is another design element I could expound on. And I will.

Self-created den.
Self-created den.

The Tao was the topic of this mornings service. It connected seamlessly with my other thinking and reading. My memory put me on a page of an otherwise blank journal I received as a high school graduation present, from a friend of my brothers – her quote put at random in the middle of the book said “My only way is to have no way”. I still like that and it still resonates.

Pam Laricchia, one of my digital unschooling mentors, is writing a 6-month long (or more or less), series on Joseph Campbell and the hero’s journey. Revealing what needs to be revealed at the moment the person is ready for it; looking for patterns and meaning, I put finger to keyboard here, warming up, inviting my muse, to plant the seeds of clear thinking and concise writing.

Happy Imbolc! Planting the seeds of intention as we are halfway between Solstice and Equinox. The darkest hour is when the light begins its return. There is no polar ‘opposites’ just polar ends of a spectrum, that all work in harmony. If the connections are not evident to you, I ask you to comment and I will work to write the connections more clearly in my next post. They are clear as the darkest night to me.

Until then, happy space, place and meaning making, my mates.


Alvesson, M., & Sköldberg, K. (2000). Reflexive methodology: New vistas for qualitative research. London, England: Sage.

Mitchell, S. (1988). Tao te ching. New York: Harper & Row.

Harte, J. D., Leap, N., Fenwick, J., Homer, C. S. E., & Foureur, M. (2014). Methodological insights from a study using video

ethnography to conduct interdisciplinary research in the study of birth unit design. International Journal of Multiple

          Research Approaches, 8(1), 36-48.


Welcome to that intimate moment when a blog is started.  Here I am, putting word after word together with a focus on my passions: designed spaces for moms, babies, families & people who learn lifelong and children. Especially children. May the act of writing publicly help me find the deeper clarity and thought-space necessary to help activate real transformation in our built environments.

Tui with mom when they looked after each other, Oct 2014. Kiwi and I traveled to Philippines – as a duo.

I find it apt that this blog begins on the birthday of my mother – 75 years of living today. Happy birthday Mom! She had plans to travel to Spain and Portugal, being a person who likes to join others on group tours and “be a tourist”, something about which she is proud.  This is a joy my mom anticipates in the midst of each cold New England winter. This winter, Mother Nature had other plans. A blizzard has cancelled her trip. Not that enough snow had fallen quite in time, but alas.

When her granddaughter “Tui” and I call to sing her happy birthday, she was not despairing or even weeping. She had already rescheduled her bridge-game presence next week and baked herself a chocolate cake with peppermint frosting.  My dad offered to go out into the snow to get her some candles, but she didn’t need that.

Five year old Tui likes to say, “You have to deal with the deal”. My mom has always kept her chin up and kept on keeping on, steadfastly exuding her light into the world. She began me, with the help of dad and now I begin a blog to think as deeply as my time and mind permit, about how the space we inhabit, intentional or not, helps shape and mold who we are moment by moment.  Happy Birthday Mom! Happy birth-day •paradigm__spaces• blog and work.

ouroboros — just a closing thought – to inspire for next time –


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