Blog #4 Mia W

Three examples of how we can use nature as a model for our designs is through our wild mushrooms natural habitat by observing its substrate, growing “room,” and how the mushrooms interact with other organisms. Different mushrooms typically grow in different places. Some grow out of the ground, some in caves, some out of trees, etc. For oyster mushrooms, they tend to feed off of wood so they are found on trees and logs. To apply that to our grow method, we should focus on a sawdust/wood based substrate as opposed to one with manure. Secondly, we should observe the environment and growing conditions of the mushrooms to better our grow rooms to best/easily recreate it. Oyster mushrooms’ most ideal growing temperature is 55 to 65 degrees with fresh oxygen/airflow, high humidity, and dim lighting. Grow rooms should then recreate those conditions by keeping the space cool and wet, out of direct sunlight, with fresh airflow. At my farm, our most recent solution to mimicking the wild mushroom’s growing conditions was to build an concrete box/room (for dim light) and cover it with at least 6 ft of dirt around all sides (for the natural cooling effect) along with long piping structures tunneling around the dirt from the surface to the room (for the air to cool down and to have air flow) along with a humidifier. Lastly, we should keep in mind how animals interact with other lifeforms. For example, there is the wine glass mushroom and frogs like to sit in them. By knowing information like this, we can plan accordingly for how to address it.

One of Life’s Principles I find interesting is Optimizes rather than Maximizes. It relates heavily to sustainability and functional, ergonomic design so everything has a purpose and nothing is wasted. I found this clearly relevant when I designed a house and an apartment building for an engineering class. For the house we had restrictions and requirements to make a marketable house, not a dream house. I thought a lot about how to use the space and the concept of design to make the house as optimized as I can with what I could work with. However, I lost sight of this life principle when I was given free reign for my second design. I made a huge house that had to end up being an apartment building because it was too huge to be a reasonable sized house. I chose to make the building a U shape with large (wasted) spaces. My hallways were very long and not practicable to where I had to put in “raised moving sidewalks” to not make it ridiculous to get across the building. I also worked on designing a tiny house which more focused on modern furniture and fixtures which could move and fully optimize space. In these design stages I learned about the Life Principle of Optimizing rather than Maximizing through the extremes. I should take this to my work and life to focus on optimizing an efficient product/doing a task efficiently instead of taking a “simple” route of adding needless work or not spreading myself too thin with responsibility.

I envision integrating the Cradle to Cradle Design concept into our project by using materials that can be recycled or reused or simply, not thrown away. The mushroom process thrives on the use of agricultural waste which is perfect in relation to Cradle to Cradle Design. To further cut down on waste, a big waste producer in the mushroom process is the plastic grow bags. This could be cut down/out of the process by using slightly more expensive but reusable pouches for the substrate and spawn/grain. The pouch must be able to be sealed to protect from contamination and withstand high temperatures from a pressure cooker during the pasteurization process. Generally we cut holes in the bags we use to help the mushrooms grow from all sides of the block and not give it competition but possibly these bags could just be taken off for the sake of reusing them. In life, I can be more aware of products I use and focus on reusing and recycling items as well as avoiding items that can’t be reused or recycled. Simple solutions are reusable shopping bags and to buy in bulk.

I learned from a friend that when you eat pineapple, it eats you back because of the enzymes. I always knew I would get canker sores if I ate fresh pineapple but learning that explanation seemed so obvious and so simple but I did not know this “useless” fact until college. The fact that this seems so trivial and simple is what fascinates me about all the stuff I don’t know, even the seemingly obvious/simple stuff.

Secondly, I learned about Chinese culture. South Side Commons was giving out free green beanies to promote its opening which we all (of course) gladly took. Then my friend said that she can’t wear the hat home because her mom wouldn’t like it. In China, green hats holds the meaning of a woman who cheated on her partner. In old times, prostitutes were forced to wear green hats. If South Side Commons knew this maybe they would make the hat a different color.

Lastly, I learned about Fujianese culture of dowries. My fujianese friend was dating a fujianese male and I learned that his family would like that and not like that for certain reasons. They would be happy for him dating a girl of their culture and background but that also means that they are then expected to uphold fujianese traditions. The male’s family is to pay a dowry of thousands of dollars to the bride for them to start their married life, typically enough to buy a house. If he was not dating a fujianese girl they would not be expected to uphold this expensive tradition.

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