Design students fight HIV/AIDS in South Africa

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first_imgRobert Sedlack, associate professor of visual communication design, and a group of students from Notre Dame’s Department of Art, Art History and Design are creating a campaign to help HIV victims in South Africa by designing resources to inform and educate local communities.“We’re in a class called ‘Design for Social Good,” senior Colleen Hancuch said. “The idea is that design can be an effective communicator and the ideal method for education and problem-solving. The big project we’re all working on now focuses on the task of creating an over-arching campaign to address the issue and stigma of HIV/AIDS in South Africa.”Sedlack said the relationship between Notre Dame’s design program and Johannesburg, South Africa, was first established in April 2011 in response to xenophobic attacks. Since then, Sedlack has led two groups of design students on spring break trips to Johannesburg.“Last spring break, one of the things we realized was that the current HIV/AIDS situation in South Africa is not unlike HIV/AIDS was in the United States in the early 1980s,” Sedlack said. “The assumptions once someone gets HIV are really misguided.“Many people think being HIV positive is a death sentence. The population just doesn’t have access to the information that, in my opinion, they should have access to.”This semester, Sedlack assigned the 13 students enrolled in “Design for Social Good” the project of using design to better inform the people of South Africa about HIV/AIDS and help change societal misconceptions about the virus.Senior design students Holly O’Hara, Keri O’Mara and Samantha Lessen designed their project to focus on antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), the medication given to individuals diagnosed as HIV positive. (Editor’s note: Keri O’Mara is Graphics Editor at The Observer)“In order for this medicine to be effective, people are supposed to continue taking it for the rest of their lives,” O’Mara said. “Problems occur when people run out of their medication and never go to refill it. In South Africa, the ARVs are free, so it really comes down to just taking the initiative to go and get more pills.”O’Hara, O’Mara and Lessen said they are trying to address this problem by designing a wallet-like accessory in which HIV victims can carry their daily doses of medicine in calendar-style pockets.“According to our contact, right now South Africans use plastic bags to carry around their phone, money, and other important things,” Lessen said. “The design we’re currently focusing on is kind of like a wallet that will have a foldable calendar with zipper pouches for their monthly ARVs. We hope it will allow people to carry everything that’s important for their lives — such as money or a phone — in one place. Because the ARVs would be carried with these other essentials, we hope it would show their value as something that’s important for the rest of their lives.”The students in Sedlack’s “Design for Social Good” class said the curriculum helps integrate their design skills with social concerns.“I think it goes along with everything that Notre Dame tries to instill in its students,” O’Hara said. “Get an education, learn your skills and then use those skills to better the world.”Two other groups’ projects target the social construction of gender in South Africa by designing and implementing after-school programs for elementary and high school-aged female students. Another group is working to make a booklet to hand out to people once they are diagnosed with HIV.“Hopefully our campaigns will give an element of hope and the possibility of continuation of life, which I think a lot of people struggle with upon diagnosis,” Lessen said. “We’re hoping our actions can help minimize that fear.”Sedlack plans to organize another trip to Johannesburg over the upcoming spring break so that design students can begin to implement some of their projects and adapt them to fit the South African culture as necessary.“I think it’s easy to think of design just as advertising, sort of just feeding into the commercial world,” O’Hara said. “That’s really the point of this whole class: to expand that idea and to get us to think that we can do so much more with design.”Tags: AIDS, design, graphic design, HIV, social worklast_img

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Saint Mary’s hosts Alice McDermott in annual Christian Culture Lecture

first_imgThe Saint Mary’s Humanistic Studies department hosted author Alice McDermott for the annual Christian Culture Lecture on Thursday. The topic of the lecture was McDermott’s eighth novel “The Ninth Hour,” followed by a question and answer session with the Saint Mary’s community.Professor Laura Williamson Ambrose, chair of the Humanistic Studies department, opened the lecture, and Saint Mary’s President Nancy Nekvasil introduced McDermott.Nekvasil said McDermott’s journey as a writer began in a college non-fiction writing class.“A professor from her college called her to his office one day after class,” Nekvasil said. “He told her, ‘I’ve got bad news for you kid. You’re a writer and you’re never going to shake it.’”McDermott spoke about her inspiration for The Ninth Hour and the faith that guides her writing. She discussed her process and the beginning thoughts of the novel.“The Genesis of every novel is unique,” McDermott said. “But this one began very pleasantly during an after dinner conversation with a friend. He mentioned that he had a vague childhood memory of a very old man who lived in his great-aunt’s house in upstate New York. This man was not a family member, but, my friend was told, had served as a substitute for this great-aunt’s brother. When the war ended the man returned and was taken in by the family as a gesture of gratitude, and he lived with them for the rest of his life.”McDermott said this anecdote set off a curiosity and a desire to explore the nature and practice of substitution in the Civil War.“In the days that followed, I found myself returning again and again to that notion of a substitute of one man who served as substitute for another, so that the other could avoid military service and remain safe,” McDermott said.McDermott said musing over the concept of substitution led to contemplating the selflessness that derives from it.“The metaphorical implications of the term a substitute — one who puts himself in harm’s way, offers his life so that another may stay safe, so that another may live,” McDermott said.This also inspired McDermott to consider what selflessness means in the 21st-century, long after the Civil War, she said.“It brought me to think about selflessness, self-sacrifice, the value we place, here in the 21st century, on anyone who offers his or her life for another,” McDermott said. “Anyone who says I will put myself, my life, at risk, so that you may live and thrive, you and your children and their children. I wondered if we even trust such a notion anymore. If we don’t tend to see selflessness as akin to fanaticism, or more mildly as an awkward lack of self-esteem.”McDermott also addressed the consequences of that selflessness.“And what about the burden of gratitude?” she said. “How long then, I wondered, does gratitude last? When does another’s selflessness become a burden as much as a blessing? What do we owe the selfless among us? Why are they selfless in the first place?”These were the thoughts that guided McDermott through the beginning ideas of the story, but she said other ideas began to surface as she continued her research.“All interesting notions, but none of it yet contained a story,” McDermott said.McDermott said her research on Civil War substitutes led her to their obituaries.“As I looked at these [obituaries], I found my eye was also drawn to small items, often featured on the same pages, a number of them, reports of recent suicides,” she said.These self-inflicted deaths led McDermott to think about the people left behind after suicide, and thus inspired her novel “The Ninth Hour.”“Options for the poor, poor women with children especially, were so limited,” McDermott said. “Who would be there to serve as a substitute for the husband and father that was lost? Well of course the answer was the Catholic nursing sisters in the neighborhood.”This led McDermott to the Catholic concepts that shaped her story, she said.“I realized I had found my story of selflessness,” McDermott said. “Not a heroic story of plucky sidewalk saints, certainly not a history of religious women’s role in healthcare and education and service to the poor, but a story that would allow me to explore the very notion of selflessness, the motive for it, the burden of it, the value we place on it in any era, our own or another.”McDermott also said she wanted her sisters to be as real as possible — she  didn’t want to gloss over the harsh realities of life for them.“The concrete would be my medium, and any depiction of their lives, their selflessness, would involve their daily, vivid, inescapable encounter with the physical,” she said. “The physical reality of human suffering and death. Not to prove the truth of my faith or the existence of the supernatural, but simply to make you hear, to make you feel, and before all to make you see, look, it is there.”McDermott also discussed her own relationship and frustrations with the Church and how it shaped her writing.“To be perfectly honest, I’m halfway out the door of the institutional church, some days more than halfway,” she said. “For me, especially over this year, hope has given way to impatience. Institutional corruption has seeped into my spiritual life so that even the effort to forgive the clergy, or to reform it, begins to feel more like complicity than compassion.”Tags: Alice McDermott, Christian Culture Lecture, civil war substitutions, department of humanistic studies, The Ninth Hourlast_img

Robert Cuccioli & Angelina Fiordellisi Tapped for Snow Orchid Off-Broadway

first_img Related Shows View Comments Cuccioli received a Tony nod for his performance in Jekyll & Hyde; he has also appeared on Broadway in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and Les Miserables. Fiordellisi, who is the founder and Producing Artistic Director of the Cherry Lane Theatre, appeared on Broadway in Zorba. Additional casting will be announced later. Snow Orchid Show Closed This production ended its run on Feb. 28, 2015 Set in 1964 Brooklyn, Snow Orchid follows Rocco Lazarra (Cuccioli) as he returns home a year after a mental breakdown. His wife Filumena (Fiordellisi) has not left the house since he left, and their sons Sebbie and Blaise urge her to step outside while facing their own familial struggles. Tony nominee Robert Cuccioli and Angelina Fiordellisi will star in the classic Joe Pintauro drama Snow Orchid off-Broadway. Valentina Fratti will direct the new production, which begins performances at the Lion Theatre on Theatre Row on February 3, 2015. The limited run will play through February 28 and open officially on February 8.last_img

Macquarie, Siemens form energy-as-a-service unit targeting U.S. corporate renewable market

first_imgMacquarie, Siemens form energy-as-a-service unit targeting U.S. corporate renewable market FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Units of Macquarie Group and Siemens AG are forming a venture named Calibrant Energy, that will invest in the emerging energy-as-a-service (EaaS) sector in the United States, according to a joint statement on Monday.Electricity generation is forecast to increasingly move away from traditional structures involving large fossil fuel-burning power plants, towards localized systems using renewable energy and battery storage, known as distributed energy.For entities embracing this model, they can choose to ‘outsource’ their power systems to a specialist entity, in the same way firms hire technology platforms rather than develop their own systems – so-called software-as-a-service (SaaS).Set up by Macquarie’s Green Investment Group, and Siemens’ Smart Infrastructure and Financial Services units, Calibrant Energy will build the energy infrastructure at no up-front cost and then manage it for customers including companies, municipalities and hospitals, the statement said.Calibrant aims to utilize Macquarie’s capital and Siemens’ technology, as it competes to grow in the space. According to a June forecast from consultancy Wood Mackenzie, around $110 billion of investment could be made in distributed energy in the period 2020-2025.Other professional investment firms are also seeking to tap into distributed energy. Last month, Blackstone Group launched its own platform. Carlyle Group and BlackRock Inc have such joint ventures with Schneider Electric and General Electric, respectively.[David French]More: Macquarie, Siemens units create U.S. distributed energy joint venturelast_img

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