The Green Blog
Our time is now: Building the future ... with timeless values

P1020422_resizedb.jpg

Pink Goes Green welcomes Rachel Preston Prinz, Kappa Zeta '93 (University of North Texas), as our guest blogger. Rachel is an architectural designer and historian who has worked in the cathedrals and villas of Europe, as well as alongside Americans specializing in religious architecture, historic preservation and ultra-high-end custom residential design.

TEDxABQ me sq for web.jpg

Rachel recently spoke at a TEDx event about her philosophy and the work that she is doing. View the video here. Rachel believes that New Mexico's archaeological record is interesting in its traditional form of ruminating on the past, and even more intriguing when the lessons learned from studying ancient building forms are integrated into today's designs by modern architects and builders. The result can be a visually stunning, sustainable architecture that's not only truly green, but also a reflection on our rich heritage.

Rachel is the founder of Archinia, an architectural cooperative that brings in some of the finest forward thinkers in archaeology, landscape, and design from around the world.

To the world,
As an architectural designer and historian with a passion for local "homespun" or vernacular design, I get to spend my days documenting connections … of inside/outside, positive/negative, art/science, and culture.

I get to study our connection to nature, and to each other. The world as we knew it 10 years ago has been replaced by one in which every voice can be heard (if we are allowed free speech) and every vote counted. The votes can occur in politics, in ways of building communities, and also in architecture. We find versions of the adobe homes like the ones I work on here in New Mexico in places as far away as England and Africa. They are made by hand, by people who lovingly create space and share it with their families, and also with their animals. Many times these same people have very little in wealth, but what they lack there they make up for in an abundance of spirit. Because most of the people who build like this have no access to electricity, they get creative, utilizing inventive ways of introducing sunlight, of capturing water from rooftops, of insulating using the natural properties of the earth, which, when cared for, can last lifetimes. This investment in practicality, in minimizing their impact on the Earth and creating shelter for all the beings of it, echoes the interconnectedness of all beings that opens our Creed.

I promise temperance and insight and courage,
Fifteen years ago, when I finished up my education with multiple degrees and foci, my professors basically told me that they hoped that I enjoyed my "play" in the fields of architectural design, preservation, and history, warning me that as a professional, I wouldn't be able to continue on mixing and matching the work like I had in school. I appreciated their advice, but I kept on my path. I knew that someday, it would not be that way. I knew that, somehow, the "womanly way" of seeing things as whole and interdependent would come 'round. Today, as I am writing this blog post for Delta Zeta, I am also fielding requests to share my knowledge in interdisciplinary architectural programs. You see, when the money dries up, schools need people who can multi-task and who can teach in more than one subject. So, as I said to a girlfriend the other day, "My time has come." What is most incredible is that, it is not just me. All our times have come. To heal the ills of the world, it is going to take temperance and insight and courage, for all of us to bring the fullness of our knowledge and experience to the table.

To crusade for justice,
There is no reason at all why we, the wealthiest people in the world, should use resources as if they are infinitely available and have no cost to the environment from which we remove them. So, at my firm Archinia, when we are working on a design, we go back to the lessons we learn from simple architecture around the world. We try to provide shelter from the heat in the hot season, and bring in the warmth of the sun when it is beneficial. We study the local architecture built before the industrial revolution to see how the people who had no mechanical systems to control their comfort responded to their environment.

In Florida, they raise houses to get access to the fresh air flowing as breezes through the trees, and to protect the house from becoming flooded during the rainy season. This same protection minimizes pests. In Canada, they have big breadths of open windows on the south, to gather as much sun as possible to heat the home during the day.  Their huge fireplaces are made with true masonry, so they hold the heat longer and don't need to be stoked through the night. In my practice, we take those lessons, and apply them to our modern designs. This just makes sense. It is the right thing to do. They put fancy labels on it like "passive solar" and "sustainable," but really, it is just logical .. and it is whole. We use nature where we can because sometimes the power goes out … and we want our buildings to still work when it does … and we want to minimize the impact we make on the environment.

To seek the truth and defend it always;
All of this - what we do as individuals, as communities, and as citizens of the world, matters. We have a choice, every day when we wake up, to see injustice and either accept it "as things are" or to get back to the place of courage and insight and stand up for ourselves and our communities. I have committed to try and make a difference. Won't you? Our Sorority doesn't have to be just about "the good ole days." Delta Zeta is making strides to help us make a difference in the long term. The Pink Goes Green project can help you take the first steps. You can start today at http://www.dzpinkgoesgreen.org/.

To those whom my life may touch in slight measure, May I give graciously of what is mine;
I will be offering more posts to the Pink Goes Green site of tips and tricks on how you can make a difference by making tiny affordable changes in your home. They'll be coming soon.

But taking these ideas and integrating them into your space is the easy part.

To my friends, Understanding and appreciation;
The harder part is something only you can do. Ask yourself how you can make a difference in your own unique way. And then go bravely after that. I promise, you will not regret it. There is no satisfaction like building a better tomorrow for our kids. No amount of money can buy that.

To those closer ones, Love that is ever steadfast;
It can be easier, though. Remember that there are others out here, fighting for what's right. We are the lucky ones! By staying connected to our sisters, we have a built-in support network. Reach out. Ask the one who can do what you need to help. That's what alumni networks are for! You don't have to be alone! And when you succeed, we all do!

What more need I say? The Creed finishes this perfectly.

To my mind, Growth;
To myself, Faith
That I may walk truly In the light of the Flame.