(highlight) I mean, personally for me, I think it would be really great if Parkour could reach into the Deaf communities, because they’re really tight-knit. And, I think it’d be really interesting to see how Parkour would be affected by incorporating Deaf people and their experiences into movement, because a lot of it is really relied on hearing our landings and all that stuff. It’s there’s this auditory element, but there’s a lot of things that you can gain by removing a sense. I mean, that’s why we have all these different types of movement workshops and games.
Yeah. Eyes closed drills, or right, silent training.
Exactly. It’s like when you remove a certain element from your training, it forces you to rely on other parts of your senses. (/highlight)
(chapter) Hello, I’m Craig Constantine. Welcome to the Movers Mindset podcast, where I talk with movement enthusiasts to learn who they are, what they do, and why they do it. This is episode number 101 with Jade Amber Ragoschke. Deafness, Architecture, and Accessibility.
While it’s not immediately apparent that Jade Amber Ragoschke is unilaterally deaf, it is a defining factor for her life and work. She shares her experiences with deafness, learning about it, and adapting to it. Jade discusses architecture and her ongoing research into the connections between architecture, Parkour, and accessibility. She reflects on disability, designing for all people, and creating more inclusive environments in all communities.
Jade Amber Ragoschke is an architect, Parkour practitioner, and the vice president of World Deaf Architecture. Her involvement in Parkour led to her interest and eventual career in architecture. After finding her place in the Deaf community, she discovered a new perspective and approach to architecture that is more inclusive, empathetic, and accessible to everyone. Jade specializes in accessible design for people with disabilities and provides architectural consultation to Parkour communities. She advocates for inclusive play spaces for all ages and is researching the intersections between architecture, Parkour, and accessibility. For more information, go to moversmindset.com/101. Thanks for listening.
(chapter) Jade, thanks for inviting me into your home, so that we can sit down and have what I’m hoping is a great conversation. I don’t know whether I want to talk about, I was going to say hearing, but lack of hearing or architecture first. So maybe we’ll do a little bit of the how, I’ll do the how we met, origin story.
I mean, everybody’s life is a big thing, but the frame where I met you was at the after party. It’s not really a party. We’re all just, everybody’s hanging out and eating pizza and telling stupid Parkour stories. The after party at one of the art of retreats that happened in Manhattan.
Yeah, that was 2017. I remember that.
Yeah. Remember the days when we all got together and people did things?
Ah, good times.
I think actually I was standing next to you. I had probably recently gotten my hearing aids, although everybody who knows me is like, “About time,” I should’ve got them in seventh grade. So anyway, I had recently gotten my hearing aids, so I had started noticing them more on people, so I noticed yours and I was like, “Hey, you have…” and I rip mine out of my ear. I’m like, “I have these guys.”
Yeah. I was like, “Oh, you had hearing aids too, look at mine.” Everyone else was eating pizza, and we’re just like, “Oh my god, look at our hearing aids. Yours are so cool. Yours are silver, mine’s purple.”
Mine are red and blue.
The audiologist is like, “Now, some people have trouble remembering which is which.” Now I laugh. I’ve had them for three years. I’m like, “I can tell them apart in the dark, because the shapes are different.”
You don’t need any multi-colored now, but they all are, because then I’m always like, “Is the red ones right? Yes. Okay.”
I was going to say, if you would first tell me, can you just describe how, not so much I need to know the details, although I’m interested, of exactly what your hearing loss is, but could you describe a little bit about how the world is different for you? And for that you have to tell me a little bit about what your hearing loss is like.
Yeah. I can definitely do that. Wow, that is a very great question, cause most people don’t really ask that question. But, yeah so I, it’s really interesting. I was born without any hearing in my right ear and that’s because the auditory nerve never developed. My eardrum works perfectly fine, but I can’t actually get any hearing aids or cochlear implants, because cochlear implants are for basically an eardrum replacement in a way. But if you don’t have an auditory nerve to process the information, you can’t really do anything.
And then in my left year, on a good day with perfect environments, no background noise, it’s like 94%, so it’s pretty good. But then the moment there’s any background noise, it goes down to like 64%.
Yeah. Some people are like, “Well, I have a hundred percent hearing, so 64 doesn’t sound the worst,” I’m like, “Well, technically it’s a hundred percent each ear.” I like to tell people it’s like 200% total, so I only have 64% out of 200%, which I don’t know if that’s how audiology really works, but this is how I explain it to people. Yeah.
The discrimination thing? I was going to to say, “Do you remember when?” I’m like, “No, nobody remembers this stuff, Craig, it’s back in the Ice Age.” They used to give the school nurse this little box with lights and they’d give you this crappy set of headphones. They would just do this 30 second hearing test in the library. They’d line the kids up. I failed one of those. The lady with the thing was like, “You were supposed to click,” whatever. She’s like, does it. And I don’t respond. And she’s like, (3 hand claps). She turns it up all the way, and then I’m like, “I hear that.” She’s like, “Yeah, you need to take this note to your parents.”
And then I went and had MRIs and all that stuff. That was when I was a kid, so I’ve always had it. I always laugh. I put my hearing aids in to drive home. They should have warned me, because I have significant hearing loss, and it’s in the mid range. I put them in. I walked to the door and it was like the soundscape when I opened the door, I was like, “Whoa, sensory overload.” I couldn’t drive. I had to take them back out. Just a drive, and I live in a sleepy little town. There’d be one kid with a skateboard. Maybe. There were birds. I had to take my ears back out. I’m like, “Okay, we’re going to have to practice this, but not while operating a motor vehicle.”
Yeah, that’s not the-
Do you remember when you got your hearing aids?
I do. I got my hearing aids, I don’t know how old I was, but it was pretty much high school. It was high school and it was really crazy, because I also got a car after I got my hearing aids. But I wasn’t driving, I was on the passenger side-
That would have been a good story.
…and I had the window rolled down and it was very interesting, because when the windows rolled down, I was like, “Oh, this is nice.” The wind’s there, but with the hearing aids on, I can now hear on the right side, so I was like, " I hear the wind. What is, what?"
Yeah, no, you need to explain that. So I know what you’re talking about, but if you’re completely deaf on one side because of the missing nerve, how does a hearing aid on the right help you at all?
How my hearing aids work, basically there’s a microphone on the right side and a speaker on the left side. All the sound that’s picked up on the microphone on the right side gets transferred to the left side and-
And then adds them together, adds up from that. And there’s also a mic on the left side too.
Yes. Yes, exactly. So that helps with amplifying the sound as well. But man, it was crazy. There was a fountain I pass. I got obsessed with Post-it Note pads. Because like with Post-it Note pads, you know how you flip through them? And it makes that sound-
Yeah, did you guys know that that makes noise when you flip those? That makes noise.
Yet. Some of us didn’t notice that. I was like, I put it like-
I was like, “What is this sound?”
“What?” I assume it made noise and I’m like “that makes noise that’s.” The other one is like, I’m sorry, but if your guy, if you go to the bathroom, you’re like, wait a minute. Okay. This is, stop. This is, everything is different. I apologize. I apologize. I apologize. Everything is so loud.
It really is. But I actually had the same, how I discovered that I had hearing loss was the same as your story actually. In school, it was like first grade, I was like five years old, I had no idea that I was deaf cause no one really tells you that this is a thing.
So when did you realize that you can read lips?
Did you actually learn or-
I didn’t think about it. It was just something I picked up and then like in eighth grade I didn’t start realizing I was adapting to my deafness until eighth grade when my teacher was like, “Hey, do you realize that you turn your head a certain way and you cup your ear a lot when someone’s talking to you?”
I was like, “No, do I do that?” And they’re like, “Yeah, you do that literally every time.” I was like, “Oh, okay. Maybe that’s why I can like hear people better when I’m talking to them.”
Yeah. I was going to say the discrimination thing. So, I think the first time I noticed that I had gotten good at reading lips. I mean, I’ve never actually taken a test, but my swag would be maybe 75%. And I was at a small, like a concert on college. And it was like 60 people in a big room and [inaudible 00:09:14] a band or something playing. It was pretty loud because you’re in a small space. And the people that I was there with are screaming at each other and they’re like, and the person next to me, now my wife, turns and yells at me and I actually went like, this is without hearing aids, I was like, “Why are you yelling?” Because for me, the visual was most of what I was air quoting “hearing” and I’m like, why are you screaming? Cause the little bit of extra you get, there’s a ton of extra that you get from even a shitty bit of sound that you can hear if you can read lips.
So then I was like, “Oh, that’s interesting.” And then many years later when I finally got off my dumb ass and went for hearing aids, I had an audiologist do a test where they’re looking through the window and reading me words.
I was like, actually that might’ve been when I was in high school. Anyway, they’re reading words and they’re like “Say the word ball,” but I can see them. So it was like, I aced the thing and my mom’s like dumb. Yeah. You know, then they covered their mouth, oh man. Fail-
Like bad mojo. But what I wanted to ask you about was, do you have, my hearing loss does not also involve, I think they call it discrimination. Did you ever take the one where they play, “Say the word barf.” You know, and sometimes you’re like, “Is that really a word? Did they say barf because darf’s not a word,” and you’re quick trying-
…to come up with the right answer. But they do it with background noise, just like,
Oh I hated that. That was the worst. It’s like not even good background noise, it was just the worst background noise possible. It’s like TV static, but way worse,
Almost like they designed it to screw you up during your hearing test.
Yeah, it’s like, you’re setting me up to fail.
Yeah. It’s, I always feel bad taking those, anyway. Okay, so that’s how we met. We were like geeking out-
…about that kind of stuff. And I think it’s part of the reason why I’m drawn to doing podcasting because especially with, I have hearing aids in that are in my ears. So the, if you look, you can see them, but they’re inside so I can wear any kind of headphone, but I can’t put Air Pods in my ears. So it was like, I get to wear these big, giant, comfy headphones that are really good studio headphones. And then I get the people that I want to talk to, I like stick you in front of a really good microphone.
And then it’s like, okay, I can talk to you. It’s like, I can hear everything.
It is like the perfect sound quality. I was thinking the same thing too. It was awesome.
Yeah. This is, just sit here and talk about, I’m amazed the parrot hasn’t [inaudible 00:11:30]. There’s a parrot in the room. We were expecting that the parrot lives here too. However, this is our first parrot, our, I’m like, I love words. I’m trying to work in parroting. You know like, this is our first podcast that involves parroting. But yeah, no, it’s not a thing. But Baby, who is older than all of us. Yeah, with, well maybe how old is the parrot?
She’s nearing her fifties. Something like that. Yeah.
It’s hard to tell.
She’s in her midlife crisis, but she like doesn’t even pay rent or anything. Baby you need to step up your game.
Yeah. She’s just completely quiet.
Before she was laughing along with us, and yeah. Now she’s just rubbing her beak on her. Anyway. So there’s a parrot in the room, in case you hear somebody making fun of us, she’s looking at me. I got my-
She judges us silently.
Sometimes not so subtle. [inaudible 00:12:20] was asking-
Oh, there we go. She had some noise. Yeah.
If only I had a third microphone, I could mic the parrot. That’d be funny-
Oh that would have been amazing.
…to put the mic in front of it.
(chapter) Anyway, so I wanted to talk about all that because the hearing loss, the hearing aids, I want to talk about that because I’m going to turn completely in different direction and talk about architecture.
So I often tell everyone, I don’t really care about your origin story. Not because I don’t care, but because we only have so much time.
So I’m just wondering, was architecture, no, when you were in third grade, were you thinking I want to make buildings, but like is architecture something that you feel like you’ve always been drawn to? Or is it something that like budded later in life? You tried, I don’t know something else there. Like what’s-
Well, actually I got into architecture because of Parkour.
That was easy.
Didn’t even have to ask for that.
I know. But, so it’s an interesting story though, because when I was in living in Chicago, I’m originally from there, and I was, back when we had forums in the Parkour community, and we would like message each other on there. Someone was like, “Hey, there’s this really cool Parkour movie coming out and we should all go see it.” And I’m like Parkour movie, yeah. And everyone’s like super stoked. So I was like, okay, I’m going to go to this Parkour movie. It’ll be great. And what I didn’t know was that the Parkour movie was actually at the Gene Siskel Film Festival for architecture.
And so it wasn’t just a movie about Parkour, but it was actually a mini series of architecture films. And the last one was about Parkour and architecture. And so I went there and I was watching all these films about architecture and one was about creating a rainforest inside of a building. And it’s an actual like science museum in San Francisco, and then-
Oh wow, build a micro climate. Wow.
Pretty much, yeah. It was really fast. I was like, what? This is not what I signed up for, but I like it. And then, so the last movie though was about Parkour and architecture and it’s called My Playground and it was about Team JIYO in Copenhagen and they wanted to design a park or playground and they had a architect help them. And the architect, his name is Bjarke Ingels. And he actually is like now a starchitect, that’s what we call like really famous architects these days, starchitects.
Yeah, and he was actually there for a Q&A. So this was before he was famous and he just showed up, was like, Hey, this is what I do, you can ask me questions. And so we had people from the Parkour community being like, yeah, how would you work with the park where people and that sort of stuff. And he was talking about how he designed the playground and other projects. And I was like, this is really fascinating. So then I watched it again the next day, I brought my mom and he showed her and then we had a discussion and it was, she was like it’d be really cool if you got into architecture. I was like I was thinking about that. Every single person in my family has some artistic trade that they do. My mom is actually a painter. And so she does painting-
I was going to ask who painted-
Oh, I actually-
Oh, mad props.
I stole these from outside. They were just left out there for free. Someone just was about to throw them in the trash and I’m like, I’ll take those.
You’re not serious.
I am serious people, New York city has a lot of stuff out on the street that people can just take.
So sometimes I like to try and make yourself look good by trying to guess, like you start telling a story about your mom being an accomplished painter. And I’m like, well, did your mom paint that? Because that’s awesome. Then I thought you were going to say, you painted that. And I’m like, wow. Now I feel like crap. Because those are really good, but no, you got them off the dump anyway.
Yeah. I know someone painted them and they did a good job, but it wasn’t myself or my mom.
[inaudible 00:15:56] There’s a name on them. What does it say? Smudgy McSmudge is what it looks like from here.
I’m unsure. I would say Smudgy McSmudge is a very good, a very accurate description.
Thanks Mom. First name “I’m.”
Yeah. So you know, my mom’s a painter and so I was like, I’m going to go into architecture. And I just committed after that cause I only had two more years left of high school. So I was like, well I’ll, they actually got rid of the drafting class right after. And so I was like, okay, well I guess I’m just going to do what I can.
…and then I went to New York city for architecture school.
Well, that’s a good place to do it. I mean, holy cow. Yeah. It’s something, there’s something about the scale, I don’t know. I’ve been in the city now countless times, but not nearly enough to say, I really know where anything is. It was like, oh, what’s you know, 171. Where’s that? And I’m like, Google. Oh, I’m like, oh wait, like Manhattan’s long. Not that I mind. I don’t mind coming up here, but I was like, this is not, oh, up there. I’m thinking like Midtown, it’s fine. But I have no clue. Like, oh how many, how far is it? You know, what is it? 10 blocks is a mile or so there’s like a, what’s the mileage.
I have no idea. Oh yeah. [crosstalk 00:17:08] I’m just happy that there’s, it’s much more complicated, it’s actually a lot about contracts and how to build detailed connections for buildings and whatnot. But I’ve been living in New York city for nine years now, and I still can’t tell you where everything is. I know I’m an architect, but the city is huge.
And my job is literally to go from the Bronx all the way to Staten island and the deep parts of Queens to look at schools. And I am still surprised with the different things that I discover.
You’re still driving, you’re like shouldn’t I be in the Atlantic by now.
Right, exactly. There’s just much that is New York city. So if you don’t know where everything is, I think it’s okay.
I’m happy that I actually know where Brooklyn is and Manhattan. When you said Staten island, my brain actually knew where that was. Yes, I’m getting there. Yeah. It’s just so fun. There’s something, we’ve talked about the city a lot on the podcast, because it’s about two hours from me, depending, right. Depending where you’re going because it’s so big. It’s about two hours from where I live. So it’s easy to do a day trip to just drive in or hop a bus and come in. And there are so many things here about architecture. So I’m wondering about what scale of architecture draws you, so is your work a day architecture? What is really calling you? Or I’ve talked to some people who talk about like landscape architecture, like the central park, [inaudible 00:18:36] all the trees are a hundred years old kind of thing.
(highlight) What, what sort of scale calls to you?
So the scale that I’m interested in is the human scale of architecture, because my specialty is within accessibility. And so when it comes to accessibility, it’s really about the personal experience in design and how people really feel within a space and utilize that space.
A lot of people can look at the larger scale of things and that’s important too, but I think a lot of architects kind of need to shift their focus towards the personal experience of a space. Because there was, “oh, it looks pretty,” but how does it feel? So I’m really more interested in the sensory experience of a space not just what it looks like, but what does it sound like? You know, what are the tactile inputs that you’re getting when you’re in that space? And so I think that the small scales, when I’m interested in, not to the point where it’s like, how do I put these two things together, but just rooms and different sized spaces.
I read an article you’re like, I’m like, oh, if anybody would know how to feel this, it’d be you. I read an article about psychoactive spaces. So when I first read the article, I was like, is this cargo cult woo-woo? But after I read it a couple more times, and then I’m like, no, this is actually just over my head. The, and I don’t remember specifically what website it’s on, but it was published in a journal and then they put it up on website, hey, we’ll put it in the episode notes. But the point of the article was that there are certain things that you can experience. So like learning, for example, or love, or like an exchange of feeling with your mom or whatever, which changed the way that you actually think. These are psychoactive experiences. And part of it is, I don’t quite have the language to hang on this idea.
So the article was about spaces being psychoactive. So everybody knows about silisyum and all the drugs are a very common thing to talk about these days where people are talking about, I want to change the way my brain works by taking this mind altering drugs so I can have a new experience.
And then restart. Those are psychedelics. Those are psychoactive. So I read this article about psychoactive space and the article is like 20 years old or something. And I was just like, oh, because we all have a, well with those people who move, we all have this feeling that we get and a lot of times, it’s [inaudible 00:21:12] . Like it’s I don’t know how to describe it-
…but we want to engage with the space. And you’re talking about literally architecting spaces with that in mind. And I’m wondering, have you ever well, a thought about, or like, you’re just looking at me like I’m weird or if you have thought about it, have you ever looked into how the spaces actually affect psychology of people in them? Beyond this one’s calming or this one’s exciting or this one, yeah don’t do that they crushed themselves on the stairwells kind of thing-
…but I’ve never really looked into, have you ever actually looked into the psychology aspects of how architecture affects us?
Yeah. Going through architecture school, we do look into how a space, not necessarily to the scientific parts, but we have an understanding of how spaces affect people based on the coloring and the sizes of the spaces. How certain spaces evoke different emotions and how you have to keep that in mind when you’re designing a courthouse. Maybe you shouldn’t design a courthouse in bright pink, certain things like that. Certain spaces have to have certain types. Exactly. It’s like you don’t want to, you have to design a space appropriate to its use.
[inaudible 00:22:33] the jury room is red.
I mean, I feel like emotionally, it would probably feel like red is an appropriate color. It’s just like warning: there’s a lot of really intense stuff here. But yeah, you have to design space that is appropriate to its use and you have to understand, what is the mood and what is the environment of the space? Like when, I’ll use schools for an example, just because I am very involved with schools there’s a lot of different like spaces in there, like science rooms.
There’s a lot of different spaces in there, science rooms, culinary classrooms, or regular classroom, libraries, and each space has a different environment and each environment affects you differently psychologically. So, even though we’re not really super focused on the specific science behind it, we know what this space is supposed to feel like and what type of environment we’re trying to invoke. And so, we do a lot of research and what certain things are needed in order to provide a specific feeling in that space. And, inaccessible design, too. A lot of people think of, “Oh, ADA”, which is the American Disabilities Act, and so they say ADA design and that’s not just the only way to design for accessibility. Just because it’s really just a bunch of rules that you have to follow and check the box and that’s it.
But there’s also this thing called multisensory design. And that was what I was tapping into before about thinking about how does the space look, how does it sound like. Basically, how does the space impact your different senses? And then when you put all those senses together, how does that make you feel? And I think that really understanding a space like that is really important. While it’s not quite like the psycho architecture thing that the article was talking about, but it’s still similar to that because it’s trying to induce an understanding of how people are feeling in that space. (/highlight)
Architecture and art connections [24:36]
(chapter) I’m wondering about… So, some things I’ve learned, just ask the thing that’s… Oh, sorry, I’m looking out the window like something interesting is happening. Nothing interesting outside. I’m just gazing off in the distance and I’m thinking, the actual question I’m thinking is, what about the intersection of art with architecture? So, they go to the, is it the Met? Where they have some Rodin? They have sculpture, gardens, and stuffs indoors, which I think is stupid. You’re walking in there you’re like, why are all these sculptures just like smacked in the middle of a floor? Okay. Whatever. But it seems to me that sometimes people do it really badly that they’re just like, and this is the spot here where the art goes in. Just stick it in later.
I’m wondering on the projects that you, I would say that you work on and I’m wondering maybe it’s more like that, that you hope to work on. What do you see as the intersection? Like can the architecture be the art? I mean, at some level, sure. But can the architecture be the art or do you feel like the architecture needs to be, create the space? And then the art happens in the space? I’m just wondering, this is a chance for me to dig into these cross connecting ideas.
I think you can honestly have both, architecture can be art and there’s a lot of buildings out there that are more sculptural than they are buildings. I mean, what’s that one building in the Hudson Yard? [crosstalk 00:25:54].
I can never remember its name.
I think I know what you mean.
I actually, personally don’t care for this building at all.
The egg thing.
Yeah. The egg thing.
With the scissor stairs.
I know what you mean.
Yeah. Well, I just, I’m not a fan of those types of buildings, mainly because that one specifically it’s like this, they put a lot of money into it and it’s this huge sculpture, and you can climb the stairs to the top and then look at a view. But you can, it really doesn’t serve much function other than that.
Hudson Yards. Oh, it’s called the Vessel.
The Vessel. [crosstalk 00:26:31]. That’s right. [crosstalk 00:26:32]
Remember that. It looks, if you haven’t seen it, if only we had a global network of all the knowledge of humankind.
We’ll link in the show notes, but it’s basically, it looks like a giant vase. It’s probably six, 10 stories high. It’s pretty big.
It’s very tall.
And it has all these little, almost like a double helix kind of outside, but you can basically go up staircases on the outside, around and around.
But see, to me that’s okay, that’s like an exercise. What’s the biggest piece of art I can create that we can climb inside of, and technically that makes it a building, okay.
But that seems to me, that’s more the exception that proves the rule you’re talking about how art and architecture need to be symbiotic rather than be the same thing.
I mean, architecture is also an art itself. I mean, when we design, we’re really thinking about the spaces and how the lighting enters into that space and, how does that impact, not just how this space looks, but the forms that it creates, there’s the envelope of the building that you have to think about, but then, how do the spaces fit within the building as well? And there are so many ways to approach design where it’s like, do you build from the inside out or the outside in, and then, just to touch on your question about putting sculptures in architecture, a lot of like, let’s take the Guggenheim for example. So, that museum is literally just like a huge ramp that goes up.
And then you just like put art onto the walls. But the Guggenheim is a great example of it is a sculpture that you put art in. So it’s an art piece that you put art in, which may have been the intention of the design. But it doesn’t always work for the different art pieces that are in there. So it’s only specific types of artwork I think are appropriate for that. So it does create limitations, but architecture is also about limitations as well.
Yeah. It has to have some boundaries. Whole point is it’s got a… It’s some sort of divider. There is divisioning, dividing that is happening here.
(chapter) How do you define art?
Oh my gosh. It’s been so interesting, defining art man. I’d tell you funny- [Crosstalk 00:28:40].
Hardcore, but that’s even harder.
I have a one sentence, a one-liner for defining Parkour, but for defining art.
That’s more interesting in my book.
Well, I just want to tell you a story real quick about…
Oh, I hate stories. I don’t want to hear your story. Please tell me your story. Tell me your story.
So, I was at a MoMA quite a few years ago and I was walking through the museum, looking at all these different art pieces. And what I’d like to do at MoMA is I like to go through the entire museum. So I look at all the art because they have a lot of like the same, but I like to go around and see like what’s different. And what are the newer pieces in there. The least exciting piece of artwork that was in the MoMA was a pile of bricks that was neatly stacked to piles of bricks. Or I don’t know how to say it.
Left an impression.
Like two bricks high, and it was about a 4 x 4 square, 4 x 4 feet, foot square, 4 x 4 foot square. I’m doing a terrible job of getting English correct right now.
Words into sentences putting. Two separate piles of bricks.
Two piles of bricks stacked up on top of each other in a 4 x 4 square.
That’s an art piece.
That was an art piece. And I was like, what the, I don’t know if you can curse on here.
I don’t know. Can you?
I don’t know what the hell is this? What is that? And I’m like, this can’t be art, but it was artistic because it was starting to redefine. What can you consider as art? I’m like, some person got paid millions of dollars to do. I could’ve done that. I should’ve done that first.
Yeah. This is, actually, I had that pile on my yard for all. Then I threw it in a dumpster. I don’t, I don’t get grumpy about, I don’t know. Is that, is that avant-garde? I’m not going to get grumpy about that. I’m like, okay. I mean some people are just pushing the boundaries and I don’t get it and that’s okay. I think maybe, I don’t want to say it, I’m more interested in lowbrow art because I’ve seen the painting of The Last Supper and I’ve seen the Sistine Chapel, like in the Sistine Chapel. And there’s a lot of really impressive, just classic art, and there’s so many things to see. So I’m like, if people want to pile bricks, I don’t, I’m just like, all right, that’s messed up. I’m like, off I go.
(quote) I think if I were to, I think after this conversation that we’ve had about art, I think that what art really is, is breaking the boundaries of the standard. Because if you look at Van Gogh, for example, he had, the reason why he became famous was because his paint strokes became more broad and his artwork wasn’t super technical and highly realistic. It was more of the essence of what he was painting, not so much like every little detail. And that was the first time anyone had ever done that. So I think the hyper realistic is also art, but the other thing too is trying to challenge what art is and that’s what the bricks are doing. So I’m mad that that’s considered art, but at the same time, it is art because of the fact that it’s really challenging the notion of what art is. (/quote)
[crosstalk 00:31:41] me stop and go watch the boundaries.
Yeah. It evokes emotion.
That’s a great definition.
It doesn’t always have to be happy.
Can you say it again?
Because I don’t want to try and say it and get it wrong. That’s why I’m asking you, so I am putting you on the spot. I’m just like, say it again.
Yeah, no, I’m trying to remember what I just said. I’m really bad at repeating myself.
Oh well. Too bad we didn’t record it.
Oh no. Let me think really quick.
I didn’t mean to put you on the spot.
Oh no, it’s all cool.
I think what you said was art pushes the boundaries.
Oh, art pushes the boundaries of the standard. Yeah.
I had it and I was just like, what was the end of it? That’s good art, but that’s not that’s I like that. Art pushes the boundaries of the standard. That’s cool because it, it pushes off of something that’s recognizable into new spaces. That’s great.
You know what’s really interesting, Parkour does the exact same thing.
Yeah. And so, I mean, I fell in love with Parkour, long before architecture, but obviously architecture and Parkour are very related because we jump on it and climb on things and, and do vaults and whatnot. But a lot of the philosophy behind Parkour is also very much like the philosophy behind, like art and architecture. Architecture very much also pushes the boundaries of what we can do. I mean that, that’s why we’ve had so much like significant technical advances in the last century with architecture too. It’s like, we have so much access to technology now that we’re able to create new things that never existed before 10 years ago.
The Oculus. I mean, I don’t know. What do you think it’d be if the Oculus as an actual piece of architecture? But believe me, the first time I saw that was at night. And I was, what in the, I mean, okay, that’s art. That is an art installation in and of itself. I actually was there three times before I realized it was actually a building.
I just thought, look, unless you walk right up the way, it’s not obvious, it’s oh, there’s an indoors. No. It’s over a mall and there’s a train station underneath it. Right? They put the new-
Yeah, yeah. It’s a whole train station too.
I feel dumb. Oh wow, there’s a whole building in here. Look at the people.
Yeah. The Oculus is actually a really cool space and that’s another way of putting art into a building. It’s not always about, oh, you have a museum, and then you have to put art pieces in there. But, you can create a whole artistic piece. That is the building as well, but also separate from the building. Because when you look at it, you’re not, like you just said, you didn’t know that it was the building itself, just thought it was an installation.
Yeah, two blocks away. It’s. I mean, I looked at it and I’m like, no, that is an artist. Like, is its Hey, it’s as big as a big building, you’re like what? And it looks, I mean, it looks exactly like eyelashes and an eye. It was just, it’s really an impressive piece. But I was just, when we were talking about the vessel over in the Hudson Yards and thinks that it is neat that New York can focus. Oh, an Oculus joke, can focus the art and the architecture and all that stuff. It’s like, what do you want to do? You want to build buildings that’s shaped like a wedge. We got one of those. You want to build tall, you want to build big, you want to build wide, and you want to build underground. The brain not working. The World Trade Center, I would call those more monuments than art installations. But the two I’m assuming you’ve seen them right there.
So if you, don’t know what I’m talking about, look it up on the internet. But basically it’s the footprints of the two towers are now, what are installations/monuments that the water pours down the insides of the recesses. And then the cascading water looks like the stark vertical lines that was an architectural feature of the building. So it has like a mirror-ish sort of like to remind you of what the building looked like. And then the water all drains into the center, which I think is the least cool feature of the whole thing is that you can actually see the water going in the whole lot of the things I thought be cooler, but it’s a beautiful space.
The reason I bring it up is not to run New York City, but I bring it up because when you go there, I don’t think there are signs that say shut up. Like there are signs that say, please keep off the grass.
And don’t climb on the trees because it’s a park. But there’s no signs that say, please be quiet to respect, but you turn the corner and it’s just like, you walk into a sound dampening field. And there’s just something about that space. I mean, partly it’s, you know where you are.
But there’s when, if you don’t know what happened and never saw a picture of it, you would not have any idea what really, I think there is on the, is that the south end of that park, they have a piece of the sculpture that was in the courtyard. Have you seen that?
I actually didn’t pay attention to the south where I was, there was, there’s so much to see at the Memorial.
Yes. So what I was going to say is when you walk into the Memorial, there’s a space. And what I wanted to ask you, the question that I’m going to come back to is, oh, look, architecture monument art that actually affects people psychologically like wow, big time. But I was about to say, when you go there, there’s no hint or indication of the magnitude of the jur and chaos and debris that covered half of the island. Right? It’s a very clean, calming space. But in the pause is, unless you go to the south end of the park, where they have more recently added, there’s an elevated walkway down there that I forget. There’s meaning to the materials that made it, make the walkway up, but it has a terrorist, hardscape landscape kind of layout smack in the middle of it. They took the sculpture, which is, there was a sphere of some sort, there was a sculpture in the courtyard in front of the two towers and almost unbelievably, it isn’t smashed completely flat. It actually survived.
I mean, it’s obviously damaged and they kind of cleaned it up a little bit, but not much. So there’s this really, I mean, if you didn’t know what you’re looking at, you’re like, what is this ratty piece of junk doing here, but then when you stand there and you’re like, oh yes. If I turn around, I can see the world. You’re like, this is the sculpture. So the sculpture bears witness to the words fail me magnitude of destruction and rubble. So I really wanted this moment to just say, what are your thoughts on how that monument space affects people? Because I was going to say, there’s no hint of the grit and destruction, but there actually is if you go to the south end, but what are your thoughts on that?
Well, I mean, it’s a very interesting space because I think at this point, a lot of people know the story of 9/11 and what happened there. And I think it’s not really about creating the same feel of the day that it happened, but it’s a Memorial. So it’s there to be a memorial for the lives that were lost there. And it’s also when you go to that space, even though you don’t, you almost don’t need to put up signs there because of the fact that everyone knows, this is a space where you have to be respectful and there’s this heaviness there. And I, and I feel what architecture does, is it memorializes the essence of a moment in time. Like 9/11. And, you know, I think that what that sculpture does is it reminds people of what happened, but also it’s what, what that whole Memorial is also about is showing people that we can come back and there’s new things that can happen. And while still preserving the memories.
The memorial of the event and the tragedy.
Yeah, exactly. And another great example was when I went to Berlin a couple of years ago and because Berlin is still recovering from World War II. So there’s a lot of spaces throughout the city that are still bombed out. Obviously there’s not like the rubble, but there’s just empty buildings, like nothing there. And a really interesting building was this church that was bombed out, but the church managed to stay mostly upright, but the roof was just absolutely destroyed. So they had the option of, do we rebuild the church or do we build a new church? And what they decided to do was they kept the existing church with it, like the roof all bombed out and people can go inside and visit it and see what the space looks like. But then they built a new church next to it.
So now you have the old space next to the new space because they didn’t want to delete the history.
And they were like, we really much want to preserve the history while also showing that we can move forward and have the new. That was a very impactful moment, and you really do feel the weight of those spaces because it’s like, wow, this is really profound. And architecture does that, not just in tragedies, of course, but in spaces that are very positive and happy as well. And so it’s about really designing a space to sew the moment, and sometimes it’s about capturing something and holding it in the building and what you’re designing, or sometimes it’s something entirely new. And so that, and that’s the artistic of architecture as well.
But I was actually thinking was the Victor Emmanuel Monument in Italy, come on brain, in Rome. It was a, I think it was Piazza Venezia, is an enormous traffic circle, like a city block-sized traffic circle. And it’s like the space in front of the Victor Emmanuel Monument, which is an Italian monument. I believe Victor Emmanuel was a general in World War I. I might be wrong. It might’ve been the president of Italy. I’m sorry, but it is, you’ve… Everybody’s seen it [inaudible 00:41:23] gone.
I know, yes. It’s this giant, it’s a huge facade of a building. That’s like a block wide with columns, huge arrays of stairs out front that are, that have gates that you can’t use the stairs. And there are chariots, multistory high bronze chariots with horses on the roof of the building. It’s like, wow. And when you, to visit the monument, I said, it’s a monument to all those who died in World War I or the, it’s like the great war.
It always makes me double question, we’d only have one, like this war is so bad. It’s the great war. And then we had a second one. It’s like, oh now we number them. To go in and visit it, you, I forget if you go in the sides or the front, but when you go in, there are these huge stairwells and you’re, you’re completely dwarfed. Like everything about the entire experience completely dwarfs you on purpose.
It tells you about the design and all this as you’re going in and you go inside the building and you can, the further you go through your visit, the more, if my memory serves, the more people scale things become. But when you’re standing up, quarter mile out of, and you’re looking at this building, it’s like, that is completely huge and grand in scale.
I bring this up because I don’t know why, but they went around the back of the building in recent years and built an elevator system with a walkway and now, you can just ride up the elevator, walk out onto the roof and you can just stroll around on the roof and look down on the plaza in front of the building. And it’s like, oh, there’s this horse and here’s the end, and in my opinion they completely wrecked it. I was completely standing in front of a gate.
This thing is amazing. And then I went through it. I’m like, this is amazing. And then I climbed the top of it and I’m like, oh, it’s a building. I mean, it was clear that you were never supposed to be standing on top of the building and getting the view.
So I had the same, had a similar experience at the Vatican. When I, if you’ve ever seen a picture of the Vatican, if you stand in the, and look at the church, there are, I think it’s 11 saints on top. They’re these huge statuary on top.
And they really look impressive. But on part of that, you can take a tour when you can actually go up there and stand, not right next to them, but off the back.
And there, I think that the architects intended for you to be standing up there because it was just as awesome to stand, the statues are maybe 15 feet or like three times normal size. They were super impressive, to be in their presence on that upper balcony. So just those two experiences came to mind when you were talking about architecture and art. And I was thinking, it seems clear to me in one of those situations, you were never intended to be on the roof because it totally blew the whole effect. And in the other case, I think they had intended, this is something, maybe it wasn’t meant for the public. Maybe it was only meant for people in the church, but just as different.
Yeah. It’s, it’s funny that you say that because (quote) so many times architects are like, oh yeah, we’re going to design it. And people are going to do XYZ thing. And only that, and then it’s like, that’s not what happens majority of the time. It’s like, you’re, okay, this person is going to walk in and they’re going to make a right. And then there’s going to be this room and they’re going to have this experience. And architects, like to really build out exactly what happens and then design the space because they want to create experiences. But then, you can never predict what someone’s going to do. People can do the craziest things. That’s the thing I love about Parkour and architecture too. It’s because in Parkour, you can access spaces that you never would be able to access otherwise. I think that sometimes architects get frustrated because it’s like, well, you weren’t supposed to be there, but you’re there now. And that was not something that we had to think about until you decided to climb up on this roof and people weren’t just supposed to just stand on that roof or something. And so it’s pretty funny when that happens, but we can’t predict every single thing. (/quote) And it’s, it’s interesting when the rule gets broken up, like what the architect thinks is going to happen. Do you know the Columbus Circle area?
I vaguely, I’m pretty sure I’ve driven through it, but I couldn’t tell you where it, I mean, I know it’s the upper… Anyway.
Let’s, I’ll just say no.
Okay. Well, basically it’s like a mashup of your two stories. Basically. They have this circle, traffic circle where they have a statue of Columbus. That’s like, I don’t know, 50 feet up in the air. It’s pretty tall. So you looks like this tiny little man just standing up on top.
…pretty tall. So he looks like this tiny little man just standing up on top of the circle.
Literally on a pedestal.
Yeah, on a pedestal. But this artist did an art installation where they built scaffolding all the way up to the top and people could walk up the scaffolding and stand right next to Columbus. And he’s actually, I don’t know, 15, 20 feet tall. He’s massive. When you’re standing next to him, you’re like, what? He’s this tiny little guy when you’re on the ground, but then when you actually stand right next to him.
It’s massive. But no one would ever expect you to actually stand next to a statue that’s five stories.
Yeah, 10 feet away from the statue, right?
Over my helicopter. That’s neat.
Yeah. That was really cool. And I went there when I was a freshman in architecture and I was just like, whoa, this is insane. And it really put things into perspective with human scale and when you’re supposed to do something, in the human scale and when something can be totally massive, but because you’re far away, it doesn’t matter.
Huh. If you could have a magic flying carpet, what other thing would you want to go do that too?
I don’t know. If I had a magic flying carpet and I were to fly around and observe buildings, I don’t know. I think it’d be fun to fly around the forbidden city in China.
That’s a good one. That would be interesting.
Yeah, cause they have all these different temples that are also far away that you can’t necessarily go to and it’d be cool to go around and see what are these spaces that’s meant to be super private, and no one ever gets to experience those spaces. Or I can just parkour there.
With the carpet in your back pocket, so when they show up, you’re out of here.
Connections and intersections [47:48]
(chapter) I often say to guests, was there anything that you were thinking about, leading up to this you’re like, Oh, I hope we get to talk about dot, dot, dot, or questions you wanted to ask or things you were thinking about beforehand or…?
(highlight) When it comes to things that I want to talk about, I have this trifecta of topics that I’m really focusing on in my research, and I’m trying to find the intersections between all three and how they relate to each other. And the first one is parkour. The second one is architecture and the last one is disability. And they seem really arbitrary when you talk to anyone else about it, but they’re all things that relate to my life, and I have experiences in.
Those are not arbitrary. Those make perfect sense for you to be interested in those. That’s awesome.
Yeah. So, they all relate to me and I have different experiences with each and as I’ve dived into parkour and architecture, and I just have my deaf experience, I don’t dive into that. But I’ve started noticing interesting relationships and I’m like, what else is there between all of them? So, I haven’t quite figured out what those relationships are, but I’ve started noticing little tidbits. An interesting one is, I specialize in accessible design and something that I’ve discovered is that spaces designed for people with disabilities are actually some of the best parkour spots. Because they have ramps and handrails and all the things that people would want to do to practice vaults and precisions. And, I’ve noticed that people like to really gather around those similar spaces. And so I don’t know what that all means yet, but I think it’s really interesting that, this space that’s meant for accessibility allows for more…not allows, but it drives people to generate more creative ideas of how to use that space, as opposed to spaces that are just designed for standard life.
Yeah, we can make it so it’s accessible and that makes it better. It’s one plus one is three, not two.
Right, my true mantra of accessible design is it’s about making a space that makes people comfortable, and it makes a space that everyone can access and experience and enjoy and do what they want to do. And so, all spaces are designed specifically for accessibility, but when you design for accessibility, it ends up being a better space for everybody else. And so I’ve noticed that with parkour as well, we’re like, oh my God, there’s these handrails, and there’s this ramp, and we can do all these cool moves, and oh, look at this catback.
Somebody built this just for me. In my head, I have an image, and I don’t even know where in the world it’s from, of…Start with a long flight of stairs, a two long flight, three, four stories, but long outdoor stairs. You know, the long tread? And then they cut in a handicap-sloped ramp. And when you stand back, actually, it’s really hard to see the ramp because the ramp is running across the stairs.
Oh, I know what you’re talking about.
So, for everybody going the route they’re going to be like what in the…? Imagine a normal flight of stairs, everybody, we’re all walking 12, 14 people. We’re all walking up the stairs. And at the top we get to the 13th step and there’s a landing and then things get flat. And then we walk a little bit and then there’s more stairs. You’ll find this, like in front of the Philadelphia art museum, that’s a very common thing.
And there’s some sort of human engineering thing where like, if you don’t do that, people tend to pick up speed and they makes crushes and people fall on blah, blah, blah. Well, the thing that I’m envisioning is if you pictured that landing, just imagine that it was sloped so that the people walking up on the far right. Went six steps. And the walking people walking up the far left, went 20 steps before they encountered the landing. Well, that means you could go to the right end of the landing and go across the space, no stairs, just along the ramp. And then it, the ramp cuts back the other way. So you can basically roll a hand truck with stuff on it or your wheelchair, or you roll up this whole thing.
But I think I seen pictures and videos of people who walked down it who don’t realize it’s meant to be an accessibility ramp. Cause if you walk down into, in a straight line, it’s like, step, step, step, step, step, flat landing. Right. I mean, it’s sloped to the left Norris and it, it actually it’s, this is exactly the kind of stairway design that we took us a while, but, you need to have landings in there, people or things happen, but you know, you made the landing slope and bam, it’s an accessible ramp. So that, that sprung to mind as like a, ooh, can I talk one of those out loud?
There’s this thing that I’ve seen photos of on the internet and it’s called a stramp, it’s a ramp and stairs and stairs combined into one. And it’s basically what you’re saying. It’s a whole bunch of stairs, but there’s a ramp just zigzagging all the way up to the top. And it’s an interesting attempt to make a space that is not normally accessible, also accessible. And I think it’s a really cool design. The interesting thing about it though, is it’s not considered accessible based on ADA requirements because the requirements are very strict on what is defined as a ramp. So, it really makes it difficult to start getting creative with certain things for accessibility, because it’s so constrained. And I mean, they’re there for a reason, a lot of it is safety related, but it’s like, how can we work with the ADA and then do more to have spaces that are more integrated for accessibility in our designs, because there’s only really three ways.
Accessibility is really about getting from point A to point B very much like parkour, and how do we do that? And, there’s three different ways to really get from one elevation to another. And it’s usually by taking stairs, going on a ramp or having some sort of hydraulic system or their lift or an elevator or something like that. And, you know, but then there’s this fourth part, which is parkour, which is an entirely unexpected and an entirely unexpected facet of how do we get from one elevation to another that people just don’t necessarily take into consideration.
But when we do parkour, it’s like, oh yeah, this is a no brainer. We’re just going to, precision from here and then do a cat leap over there and then balance on this thing. And then we’ve made it we’re at the top. And, there’s all these different possibilities that are opened up to us. And I think that that’s really fascinating. And I wonder if there’s ways to take the applications of parkour and then bring it into the accessibility world to somehow…not saying that we should make everyone do parkour to get from one place to another for accessibility, but just, how do we take those elements? And somehow have more options to provide elevation changes.
I see where you’re going. Earlier, when you mentioned that well-designed spaces, that are accessible by a wide range of move of movement abilities, like normal people, normal people. I almost said muggles. Can’t call them muggles. The normal people are not muggles. The normal people’s movement ranges. And then we said, it seems when the spaces are well-designed, they’re really good for parkour. And my first thought was, yeah, for me, it’s always been, I see a line. I mean, my lines may have curves in them, but I see a line through a space, which is clearly not what the original creator was thinking, because my line goes over the railing and then up the wall. And that’s a different way to go through the space. So when you were just saying now about ways to change elevation, I was like, yeah, a lot of the really cool parkour I’ve done have been in places where, well, there’s no reason I couldn’t go up or down it, but it requires a bit of pulling and pushing and jumping and climbing or whatever.
It wouldn’t take much to encourage movement. Okay, there’s the really easy way you can, I have a delivery I’m pulling a hand truck. Okay. Go up the ramp. Okay. Or the normal way is most people go up these stairs. We can handle a lot more people if we go up the stairs or there’s an elevator over here too, or you can go this way over here, where you climb up the column and then go across the thing and it’s basically safe, but the invitation is there for, if you want to play on the hard mode, you can go that way.
And that’d be an interesting, I don’t know that I’ve ever, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a space where it was really clear that they were, I mean, we’ve all seen play spaces. You’re clearly in a space where yeah. You’re supposed to be playing in physically. Okay. Not those, I mean, I’d never been to the front of a department store and it was clear that, these are meant to be like stadium stairs. The steps are 28 inches. And they’re well, that’s not, I mean, yeah. We can go up that I’ve never seen a space like that where the invitation was to really try the hard way.
Yeah. And, I haven’t quite figured out what all of this means yet in terms of architecture and accessibility and parkour, but, there’s some interesting relationships and I want to know more of, how can wen take certain concepts from one thing and then apply it to the other. And then what does that look like? It’s highly conceptual right now, but it could be something that could be developed to provide more accessible spaces, or understand why spaces are great for parkour. (/highlight).
And what’s my third trifecta. I know I said, I have a trifecta, but sometimes I forget what they are parkour architecture and yeah. Accessibility. That’s right. I didn’t hit all of them. I just kind of merged two of them together. I
Personally like, I mean, not that I don’t like when somebody has everything all lined up and T-dotted. I have had people show up with notes and Excel spreadsheets of what they wanted to cover them. Hey, it’s fine. You know, whatever the whole point is that gives you a platform to talk. So, but I kind of think that things are really fun when the guests are a little like, I really want to talk through this. So I have nothing, like you said three, but you only covered two and a half. I’m like, no, I think it’s really cool to see, except we’re recording audio to hear people’s thought process. I think that’s a big part. I think commit too many people skip that they don’t pay attention to their own thought process. I’m not saying that they’re not thinking, but they don’t pause and do the wait, but why kind of thing. And I, I’m kind of sensing that maybe part of what drew you into architecture is the wait, but why can’t that be this way? Or why can’t I have a space which engages this and dots that I and crosses this T that’s just my guess, 58 minutes into recording.
I love segues. It’s always fun to try and find a ways back to them. But with just what you were saying before, about the thought process, I feel like it actually has a lot to do with my deafness, because as you, as you know, being deaf is not easy.
I’m not, I mean, I’m not trying to, don’t group me with you. I’m not actually deaf. I can do pretty well. But yes, I am compared to most people I have a shitty hearing.
Yeah. Well, yeah. Being hard of hearing does come with his challenges and growing up, not being part of a deaf community has been really complicated because when we first discovered that I was deaf, the doctors were like, oh, you should normalize her. Don’t teach her sign language. Make her feel that she’s just part of it. Like everyone else. And there’s nothing different about her. But what that did was just, everyone was like, no, you have to be a certain way. But it’s ignoring the fact that, no, I am hard of hearing. I can’t hear, I want to hear. And I need people to acknowledge this. And so-
And there are tools I mean, aside from hearing aids, but sign language and there are learning to read lips and nobody ever told me that that’s something you could…I was just like, oh, do you speak any other languages?
I know some Chinese.
Can you read lips in Chinese?
Okay. Cause I tried to, when I was in high school, I had a whole bunch of French and yet it was fun and blah, blah, blah. And then when I got into parkour, I was like, oh, French is kind of important. So I started really trying to stuff French in my head when I went to France and started, I had to look away. In fact, the people that I was spending time with them. Okay. When you talk, I’m going to look away, but it’s not because they don’t want to hear what you have to say, it’s because your mouth is not making sense.
It’s completely different!
I studied French for seven years and I can say some things, but it’s just really hard for me to learn certain languages. And it was the same thing. It’s like, oh, I’m reading your lips. And I understand that this is not the same language, but I am not following because I’m reading, I’m trying to read English, but I’m hearing French. And it’s like trying to translate to different languages at the same time.
What language do you think in?
I think in English.
Do you ever switch? How good is your Chinese?
I switch in Chinese when I’m talking to people in Chinese, but I don’t think it in my past time. But I started learning sign language three years ago. Yes. Three years ago now. And I have caught myself, thinking in sign language. Cause sometimes it’s more expressive or more straightforward. Cause it’s gestures and expressions in your face. It’s not always words. So it’s much easier to think certain things out in sign language, because-
We’re about to discuss and demo sign language in a podcast.
In a podcast!
Go for it.
I mean, I feel like I’m going on a tangent here with…
No it’s fine.
I don’t… I think I know the letter R.
Yeah. That’s R, yeah. R is two fingers crossed over a like, when you lie to someone, or when you’re lying to someone, but you tell them you’re telling the truth and you cross your fingers to be like, that wasn’t real.
Do that and then hold it up. Palm toward the other person.
Yeah, you hold it up. And you’re showing someone that you lied to them.
Also, I think there’s a science fiction thing. I know it’s not the Spock thing, but then there’s also science fiction. The only reason I know this is that when the pandemic started, I tried to start a Zoom, not a meme, but a Zoom habit of when the other person turns into a r-r-robot and their video locks up. The last thing I would do is hold up the ASL for R, meaning, I see yours. So that when my screen freezes, the last thing you see is me holding up, you are a robot. And yeah it’s just way too nerdy for people. Sorry. That’s the only ASL I know is R.
I love that.
I love that it’s the second letter of my name. What is, it’s C-R…
Yeah. If anyone is interested, if you, if you look up ASL alphabet and look at C-R-A-I-G, that’s what we just did.
It’s just fun. I don’t know. I love… Not… You’re like headphone space. Right? It’s awesome. It’s like, this is great. I can hear everything.
So nice. I’m going to miss this.
You have no idea how much you’re going to miss this. You’ll see this another part. There’s a whole, sometimes Melissa and I talk about it, the guests get movers mindseted as a verb, because there’s a whole experience of us getting there. Arriving, if you’re coming to us, or blah, blah, blah, or talking or food, or you set out horderves, this is awesome. I keep wanting to stop talking and eat the salami, but there’s a whole bunch of stuff that happens around the actual recording. Where was I going with this…sign language?
Oh, at the end, you’re going to find out how it’s like, oh, [inaudible 01:03:42] off. But anyway.
Accessibility and parkour [1:03:45]
(chapter, highlight) Yeah, I have so many things. So, I think I talked about the architecture, theory with parkour, architecture, and accessibility. And I’m still trying to figure that out. I think when I want to talk more about now is, deafness with me and my relationship with parkour, and some things that I’m seeing there, because there’s been a lot of conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion, all that stuff. But just for some background, when it came to discovering my deafness and growing up with my experience, being hard of hearing and not being part of a deaf community, part of why the parkour community was so important was because I didn’t have a space where there was a community. And the parkour community was really the first time I experienced this gathering of people that, where we were all close-knit, and we were doing the same thing. It was really great.
The Chicago parkour community really became my family during a huge transitional time in my life. And so, that’s why parkour became so profound for me in the beginning. And as I got older, I started having a lot of issues with communicating with people. And I was like, man, am I just really stupid or something? Why don’t people want to talk to me? Or, why do people not really interact with me? And I had just didn’t understand, is it me? Am I having an issue? And then in, in college, in my second or third semester of college, I basically started a two-year period of social isolation, basically. Not really interacting or talking to anyone.
And I was just like, what is happening? I didn’t understand what was going on. And architecture school was hard. And I understand that you’re busy doing work all the time.
I had a roommate who was an architecture student. That’s an understatement.
Yeah, for sure. But I was just like, what is happening? And I would talk to professors, my thing is I’ll go up to a professor in the beginning of the class and I’ll be like, hey, just letting you know, I can’t hear to my right ear. I may need you to repeat yourself every once in a while. And sometimes I have issues with hearing when an assignment is being told to us, and can you just be accommodating to that? And I’ve had professors, some professors usually are really great, and they’re just like, okay, thank you for letting me know.
But others are like, oh, well, if you’re failing later on this semester, don’t use that as an excuse. And I’m like, what?
I just wanted you to write it on the board, bro.
Yeah, I was like, I want you to repeat yourself. I wasn’t trying to get all intense here. But I was like, whoa, what is up with that? I didn’t understand. And so this is a very long story, but the next part is, I had a professor who basically didn’t understand that I had hearing problems, even though I told them, hey, I’m hard of hearing in my right ear. And I just need you to repeat yourself. You just didn’t understand what that meant. So I was having issues with communicating with him.
So he would sometimes change the location of the class, but only tell the class. And then I didn’t hear it. So I’m just sitting in the classroom being like, where is everyone else?
And no one told me, and then I would show up late to class and he’s like, oh, I see. You’re really late. Clearly, you’re really dedicated to this, practice and I, and then he’d be like, everyone, do you see Jade here? This is what a bad student looks like.
Oh, thank you! Nice!
Because she’s not showing up on time, so she’s not taking it seriously. And so how I got into accessible design was because of this moment, because I just got so fed up with this guy. And I was like, we were designing a library for that class. And I was like, well, I’ll design a library for deaf and hard of hearing people, so that he can understand what it’s like to be deaf and hard of hearing. And so he wouldn’t be, cause having the conversation, doesn’t always connect with people.
But when if you speak architecture to him, maybe he’ll get it. Yeah.
Right. So I just started telling him, this is what deaf and hard of hearing people need in order to have an inclusive environment that’s comfortable and inducive to learning and understanding of space. So cause libraries, aren’t just for reading books, it’s also about researching and finding knowledge and having an environment where you can just learn things. And so it’s very similar to what I was doing in college. I was like, this is a perfect opportunity to show my professor, what I need in order to have a good space to be a student. And, but as I was doing that research, I discovered the deaf community. Cause I didn’t know about it at all. And I’m like, I don’t know, in my early twenties at this point.
Oh no, I just gave away how old I was…I’m joking.
I just went, I had never thought about that either. And I am not in my early twenties.
… I just went, “I had never thought about that either and I am not in my early twenties.”
And this was a very interesting moment for me because I just discovered the deaf community, I didn’t know it existed, and I was opened up to a whole world of other people who had similar experiences because-
Okay, here I’m like… Psych, you owe me a beer.
And it was very profound, because I never really knew deaf people. I never talked to anyone who understood what my experience was like. So I was like, “Oh, all of these issues that I thought I’m not smart enough was just people not understanding my disability.” And I realized that it was a really big deal because it validated a lot of things about myself, like, “Oh, I’m not stupid.” Or it’s not that I don’t understand something, it’s just that people don’t understand that I’m not hearing a certain piece of information to connect whatever thing I’m trying to learn. And so, that was a really big deal. And basically, at the end of the semester, this professor was like, “Hey everyone, this is Jade, she’s about to present her project. By the way, she’s hard of hearing, so if she needs you to repeat yourselves, please do so. And if she has all these other accommodations, please accommodate those things.” Unprompted.
And that was really interesting for me because it’s not that this guy was trying to be a terrible person and not accommodate me, he just didn’t understand what I needed to have the access to the environment that would require me to learn and follow along with everyone else. Because when everyone is just hearing the same thing, it’s like, “Oh okay, Jade must be hearing that too.” But how are they going to know that I’m missing things? And I can’t tell them that I’m missing information because I’m clearly missing the information. (/highlight)
If you not here, raise your hand, right?
I’ve had people who were like, “Oh well, if you just didn’t hear that, you should have let me know.” I’m like, “How am I-”
Are we using these words the same way?
“Do you understand what you’re asking of me?” That’s impossible. “You’re asking me to predict the future and then tell you to repeat what the future is in real time.” So that’s why I got into Accessible Design because I realized that a lot of people with disabilities go through environments where it’s designed not for them, and I experienced that personally going through college. And I realized that the spaces in the lecture halls were just so loud that I could watch someone present and I know that they’re talking and I’m like, “I have no idea what they just said.” There are words coming out and I’m trying really hard to process it because I’m paying attention, but no matter how hard you try, it’s just not happening. And it’s like we really need to change these spaces.
I’m nodding vehemently over here.
Yeah, uh-huh (affirmative), uh-huh (affirmative), uh-huh (affirmative). Yes, because I had the same experience. I didn’t have hearing aids when I was in college. And I would often wonder like, “Wow, I wonder how different it would have been. Maybe it would have been less of a struggle.” I learned pretty quickly to sit down front, getting as close as I could is that sometimes. Then at least it reminded me “You can read lips”, although you can read lips from pretty far, but it’s not the same.
It’s not the same. And also what’s really interesting is only 30% of the human language is readable by lips. Because a lot of words look the same when you only read them. And so it’s not the end-all be-all solution to like-
You can’t, like I say, I can often tell you what the gist of the news is, if you cover the crawl from, if I stand there and watch for a few minutes. But if you just show me a random video of somebody saying a word? I don’t know. I need to see also. Yeah, that’s “weather” and now, “Oh, we’re doing weather”. All right. And “thunder” and “lightning” and then there is tips you get from body cues and facial language. There’s so much to it.
Absolutely. Yeah. No, if it’s just a video, it is impossible-
It is a fun superpower though, I really do enjoy. I have used that maliciously in environments, like in college, [inaudible 01:13:13] are talking about me and then, then I’ll walk over and say, “I read lips from across the room, you know?” And it is… Once you realize that you can do it, it’s like, “Oh, this, this could be used for ill.”
Yeah. Yeah. There’s a clear conference room at my office. And sometimes, I’m like, “What are they talking about? Are they talking about me over there?” All that stuff.
Yeah. You can really spot your name. I know exactly what my name looks like.
Yeah. Yeah. It helps when it’s one syllable, if it’s super long, you are like “I’m not sure what you just said” so that’s how I got into Accessible Design. I got into architecture because of parkour and because I wanted to design parkour spaces, but then segued over to designing accessible spaces. But because I had those two overlaps and I’ve dived into both those worlds, I’m trying to find, “How are they connected?” and “is there meaning behind all of that” and to be continued on how I figure that out.
Yeah. It’s not required that you have all the answers. Sorry. Nevermind.
I have a lifetime. I think I’ll have plenty of time to figure it out. But it’s been quite a roller coaster and that’s why I got into the nonprofit that I’m in right now, World Deaf Architecture, which is really a nonprofit where we’re trying to help deaf and hard of hearing architects and the profession. Because we really struggle with finding work. It’s getting better, but it’s hard to get access to like information and resources and materials, especially when they’re only provided on YouTube videos that don’t have captions or whatever. It’s not as accessible to us. So therefore we’re inherently at a disadvantage. And another thing I wanted to bring up too is, I see that happening in the parkour communities too. “Why aren’t there more deaf people in parkour?” And it’s not like there’s a bunch of us? There are a lot of deaf people in the world, but it’s really hard to get a number of how many-
Well, I would have, sorry, just to be “What’s going on”, I’m picking at my hearing aid. Cause sometimes your ears itch, which we just have to take half a headphone off. So I was, “I momentarily left the room”. I have no idea how many people, what percentage of the population would have, which kinds of hearing loss challenges. Because if you’d asked me that for 20 years, it’d been, “No, my hearing’s fine”. Cause if you don’t know, when you can’t even self-identify let alone report so people can count.
I didn’t even know for the first five years of my life that I had hearing loss until someone was, “Hey, you failed this test. You have hearing loss”. And I was like, “Oh really? I didn’t really think about that”.
“I don’t think it’s gotten any worse. What are you talking about?” Right? No, this is what normal people hear.
Yeah. Yeah. So that was a very interesting thing. And so with the parkour community, I’m wondering why aren’t there more deaf people and it’s not like, the answer is very clear, but well, if you look back at the history of parkour, how it started. A lot of, it was through YouTube and tutorials and all that stuff. And like that. And a lot of people were self-taught through that. But a lot of these tutorials are through spoken language
Voiceover while somebody is showing how to do a safety roll. I’ve seen that one a million times. It’s completely… Cause they go out and it’s, I don’t mean this negatively low budget. So he set the camera up. I do a bunch of safety rolls with field recording sound. Then I cut the audio out of it and I say, “Okay”. And I’ll do a safety roll. “You tuck your arms and…”. mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s cool. All I see is a guy doing a roll over and over and over. Is that the good one of the bad one?
A lot of voiceover. And I mean, a lot of the artistic part of the sport, the sound is. I was going to say better often muted. But if you mute it, you don’t lose the the visual part of it. It’s not like if you don’t hear them sticking the landing, you’re missing something really. I think I’m trying to remember. I, I started parkour. Hadn’t really thought this stuff through. I started parkour before I got hearing aids. And I think it was a real, almost said jump in my training. Sorry. Real jump in my training. When I went to a class with hearing aids, I was “Oh, that, that made me cry”. Cause I was “Damn I’m making a lot of noise” because you’re “Oh boy”. It’s like a six on the Richter scale over here.
And I think that really, I never, maybe not until just like two seconds ago, I never really realized how much of a disadvantage that was in training to not have that feedback. I mean, yeah, when the coach is giving instruction, I have trouble hearing. Okay. That’s annoying. But I can tell the coach is giving instruction. Everybody else is looking at that person. I guess I’m missing something. I had a visual cue when they say “Go make sure your jumps are quiet”. Yeah, it was quiet. I didn’t hear it. You know? So that was a real interesting… Like having the gauze pulled off my eyes kind of thing to suddenly be able to get that input in that channel that I had been missing before.
Yeah. And I’ve talked to a couple people about if you were to have a deaf student in your class, how would you teach them? Like spontaneously? What would you do? And some people are “Oh, well we do silent training anyways. So I would just do silent training the entire time”. Well, what if they had a really technical question? How would you explain that to them? And they’re “I don’t know”. And it’s like, it gets more complicated than that. And so I feel with the deaf community, like parkour. It’d be really great if parkour could… I mean, personally for me, I think would be really great parkour could reach into the deaf communities because they’re really tight knit.
And I think it’d be really interesting to see how parkour would be affected by incorporating like deaf people and their experiences into movement. Because a lot of it is really relied on hearing our landings and all that stuff. There’s this auditory element, but there’s a lot of things that you can gain by removing a sense. I mean, that’s why we have all these different types of movement workshops and-
Eyes closed drill-
Games. Exactly. It’s when you remove a certain element from your training, it forces you to rely on other parts of your senses. And it forces you to be creative. And so what is it like for deaf people to experience like parkour. I can answer that question, but it’d be really great to have discussions with other people.
See it happen.
And so I think what this really means is in parkour. (quote) I see a lot of people teaching people with disabilities, but I think understanding their culture and where they come from is also really important. So that can be incorporated into parkour. Except parkour is ever-growing. And I think it’s constantly being redefined based on people’s experiences and how they add what they know to their movement. Cause when you see people really learning or not learning them, they’re doing new movements in parkour videos. It’s because they’re taking something that they know and is comfortable with themselves and applying it to parkour. And that’s where the creativity comes from a lot of the times, I think. So, I think that there’s a lot to gain. (/quote)
That’s what makes it art. I was just thinking, if you take that thought a little bit further, then that’s what makes what you are, what that person you were just describing, who took what they were comfortable with and added it to their parkour. That’s them making art of it, because you’re pushing the boundaries of what the parkour can be. Just to use your own words. That’s actually an excellent… That’s circled back there.
Exactly. And so here’s the next interesting thing that I’m trying to investigate with my trifecta and that’s people with disabilities are constantly navigating their environment, that’s never built for them. And so they constantly have to adapt on a daily basis to different roadblocks, literal roadblocks, and other types of barriers.
And why is that that way. When you figure it out, it doesn’t make any sense. Yeah.
And there was a YouTube video of a guy with cerebral palsy, who’s in a wheelchair and he was like “I want to go get a donut at this particular shop”. And it took him three hours to get from Manhattan to Brooklyn to get there, because there, it was most of the usual route that Google maps would tell you to go is so inaccessible that he had a fight. It took him three hours to figure out how to get there in an accessible way. But he had to be creative and find a new way to get to that space. And parkour is the same way where it’s like, well, I’m getting from point A to point B in the most efficient way using my body. So what does that look like for me? So in a way people with disabilities are always-
They’re at it, then we are-
…they’re constantly doing parkour, because they live in an environment that’s not built for them. And so they’re constantly, always having to go through, breaking through barriers, or finding alternative routes that are better for them and going over their fear aspect.
I was just going to say, making choices about " Yeah, no, that’s not worth it". There’s the, I don’t know. There’s no way to get over there, or I really think this is important. I’m going to work on this one piece of it. And then I’ll come back tomorrow, making those decisions about those value judgments about “is this challenge worth the reward?”.
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative). Exactly. So I think that that’s very interesting how, looking at parkour and people with disabilities… And I’m not saying that they’re the ultimate Traceurss, but they really take the elements of what defines parkour and the boundaries that they have, and they’re constantly pushing it. Because they have to, whereas they parkour, we do it because we can and we want to.
Yeah. Yeah. I was debating and I left the pause in case I decided to cut it out. I, long ago in a previous life, not that long ago, I used to teach Aikido and we had a school that was opening. And a bunch of people showed up and the local college had a club, that was affiliated with our same organization. So the club came over and I don’t know what prompted this, but they brought a bunch of people, not a bunch like a handful of people, from the school who hadn’t been practicing before. So they brought just some day one “What is this? How does this work?”. And one of them was completely blind. And I was “Okay, this is interesting” because a lot of what you do in that martial art is not, does not start with contact. If you’re doing grappling or jujitsu parts about it, I’ll tell you what, people who are blind are really good at that stuff, because they have a sense of touch and they can feel exactly what’s going on with your weight and shifts.
So this blind student was working with one of our students and things were not going well. I could just see, cause the blind student…You can’t go that far to the left because there’s no more mat or there’s safety issues, or how is he going to not run into this other person? And I walked over and I don’t know what prompted me to do this because it’s exactly the right thing to do, which is not usually what I do by instinct. I said, “What can we do to help you so that you can experience what we’re doing?”, which is exactly the right thing to ask somebody who is struggling. Cause “shut up and see what they have to say”. And I forget what the young man’s name was, but he asked me if he could follow me.
So he’s like, “Can you do it?”. I don’t even remember what we’re doing. “Can you do the thing that we’re doing, but I’m going to touch you?”. So he stood behind me and basically it was like a reverse of a marionette. So he put first, he started with, he put a foot against my foot. So you could see where my feet were, but basically feeling out where I was. But it turns out a lot of Aikido is about where you put your weight and how you move your hips. And a slight shift in where you pelvis is oriented is a big deal. Well, guess who picks that stuff really good? The guy who’s got one fingertip on the top of your ileum. So he would just maintain one finger on a hip bone and another finger on an elbow.
And I did it twice and he had it. It was just like “You’re actually better at that”, I said quietly, “you’re actually better at that than a lot of the students who train on a regular basis”, because he didn’t want my guess as he didn’t throw away any information. Somebody who can visually see that whole, maybe they see the pants, I think. But this person was like, “Well, I need to know what this Craig is doing. So I’m going to go: Where’s his center? Oh that’s right here at someone up. I’m going to keep track of his hips. And then I’m going to feel what he’s doing with his arms”. And then I said, you have to… He said something about, well, first was “What’s the space I’m in?”. I said, "Oh, you have infinite ceiling.
You can swing a stick over your head. There’s nothing. You can wrap your head on anywhere in here. There’s no poke hazards. And the floor is sewn together from strips of canvas". And he was like, “What?”. I said, “If you just put the foot”, then he realized there were, he knew there were seams. He didn’t realize they were symmetrical. I said, "Oh no, the seams are straight lines. They’re spaced, whatever they are, two and a half feet apart. There’s a grid. And when you get, as if you’re paying close attention, there is a set of tiles underneath that are foam that are three by five, that don’t match the things. So you can basically measure five feet by three feet by seam, then the floor under the thing, canvas. He walked around in a quick [inaudible 01:26:25]. And it was “aha”, best proprioceptive sense of where he was.
It went from being, if you want to imagine, just closing your eyes and try to walk around in your living room. You know where everything is, but you’re still going to slow down because Shin-injuries hurt. Right? He went from, “Yeah, I know it’s kind of safe, but I’m not a hundred percent sure” to he was just flying around his little corner. That was the space that they were working. And to me, that was a real eye-opener of looking back. I now see, that was a real moment there where I had the opportunity to experience something that there’s no way I could have experienced. There’s no way I could experience what it would be like to fully use tactile information. I’m never going to have that because I have other senses, unless I spend a ton of time working on it.
And to him, it was just, "Oh, I mean, I can feel the floor, but you mean that because we’re barefoot, there’s lots of information. You’re on the floor and it’s structured. And I mean, he could have figured it out, but once I said, “it’s like this”, it was just a billions unlocked, “Oh, you can do this?” And everybody else was showing him. They were asking him to grab them to be the receiver of the technique, which he probably could have reverse engineered, what was going on on the other side. But when he said, “Can I touch you?” And I’m, “sure”. And it was just, “oh, yes”, this is what he’s supposed to do here. Ride along kind of thing. So just that was something that I had that lesson of “just ask”, I use that a lot.
And I mean, it’s that long, here’s the question I’m really thinking: I just asked the question, “What’s going on over there? What is this person doing? Why are you doing that? How did you get up there?” Just ask those questions and then listen to the answers. But that was something that really surprised me. It was one situation where I encountered somebody who was visually impaired. I think he was completely blind. And it was just, I don’t know, settled. It’s a real eye opener for me to discover that. Sorry, turn to the phrase. But that’s-
It’s ironic, but yeah, that’s a really great story. And it really does show all you have to really do is just ask, “What do you need?” And then they’ll just tell you, cause they know their experience better than anyone else. And everyone’s disability, you and I both have hearing loss, but they’re at different levels. So our needs may be different. So just asking, “Hey, what do you need in order to make X-Y-Z thing work?” And then they tell you and you’re like, “Oh, okay, now I can accommodate that”. It’s actually really that simple. But people just don’t think to ask sometimes. And then when you do that, their powers are unlocked pretty much. It’s like-
He didn’t need much help. He just needed basic instruction. Like everybody else in the class needed some basic instruction, but didn’t need a lot.
He just needed different information than everyone else. So, yeah. And I mean, just like how we have our ability to lip read and all that stuff. It’s like, we gain these different types. I’d like to call them superpowers. We gained these different types of superpowers by having these certain senses shift. I wouldn’t necessarily call them a loss because it’s, yes, it’s a loss in some way, but at the same time, we’re gaining other things. And so it’s understanding what that’s like and then how to utilize that, to benefit-
I think at concerts people stick earplugs in, at concerts. Unlike I don’t need to do that. I come prebuilt with earplugs. I just take my hearing aids out. I can amplify this stuff. And take it out.
I love it. It’s great. Yeah.
Billboard for the world [1:29:45]
(chapter) If you can have a billboard anywhere in the world, although New York city is an obvious choice, with just words on it, what would the message be?
Well, if it’s anywhere in the world and that would be great. And I think my favorite message to give people is “The things that make you strange are the things that make you powerful”.
That’s a good message.
3 words [1:30:09]
(chapter, highlight) And of course, the final question, three words to describe your practice.
So the three words that I would use to describe my practice would be “adaptability”, because you always have to adapt to your environment and the things that life throws at you. And then the second one would be “understandings”, because you always have to understand everyone’s experiences. Everyone’s going to have different experiences in you. And I think really seeing what they are is important. And then the last one, and I don’t know why, but I want to say it would be “gentle”. I think that the world is… There’s so many things that could be harsh in the world, but I think if we could be a little bit more gentle, that would be great. Just taking things more at a gentle pace. And also because I’m taking homage back to when I used to do judo and judo is the gentle way. So those would be my three words.
Outstanding. Yeah. Those are three great words. It never ceases to amaze me. The awesomeness that people come up with. When I asked them for three words to describe their practice, they come up with three things that invariably relate back to what they’ve been talking about. And, yeah. Awesome. Thank you very much. (/highlight)
Yeah, thank you for having me.
I’m so happy that we took the time to wait through COVID and get here when we had time. It’s great. It was everything I hoped it would be.
Yeah. This has been a really great conversation and I’ve always really loved your podcast, so I’m glad I can finally be here.
I’m glad to find people that enjoy it. That’s meant to be for each listener individually, not like a whole of a million people listen. All right. I’m going to stop talking and say, “Thanks again”. It was a pleasure. Bye
Thank you. Bye.