✱ Project Undercurrent - What's Next / by Evan Troxel

UNDERCURRENT logo.png

Last week I wrote a blog post that stirred things up a bit in the architectural community. Everyone is now wondering what's next.

First, a little backstory. 

It originally started out as a short blog entry where I was going to simply vent about leadership because I have been reading some absolutely great things on the topic lately, but not seeing much of it in action. My mind was churning while writing and it turned into something much larger. Since the beginning of the year I've been reaching out to many others in the industry to get their take. There are many parallel conversations going on. Thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head came together into one coherent article after having those conversations. It's funny how that happens sometimes. 

Somehow this little article turned into a cause as I wrote it. It's like Louis Kahn asked the brick "What do you want, brick?" I basically asked a similar question of all these ideas, and it sounds a bit silly to say that they told me how to put them together and what they wanted to be.

I got excited. I wrote a lot. I have been collaborating with Mark LePage for a few months now about this stuff, and wanted him to look at it. He had some great insights. So then I rewrote parts of it - editing is a great tool. I was not sure if I was going to publish it. Publishing things for everyone to see is scary! Before my apprehension could turn into even more self-doubt, I did it. I forced myself to send it out into the great unknown. 

Would people see it? How would they respond? Would they respond at all? Would they tear it down? Would they love it? I had no idea, but I had to get it out there before my lizard brain (definitely read this link) stopped my fingers from hitting 'the button'. My wife sat next to me with a huge grin on her face as I did it. She's awesome.

It turns out other people felt the same way I did. What started out as an article I wrote initially just for me embodied what a lot of other people have been feeling as well. We feel marginalized and not represented. We feel like people are making decisions (and have been for a long time) that don't stand for and what we want and need.

Like I said before, somehow this little article turned into a cause as I wrote it. 

And then you all took it and turned it into a community.  I am floored by your support.

Readers emailed, commented, retweeted, plus-oned, liked and did all of the other kinds of digital high-fives with each other. It was gratifying to me to see the community come together over such an important issue - the majority of the architectural profession is broken. It's the elephant in the room, and we need to talk about it. The thing that stood out to me is that the energy is stronger than ever that we can redesign it and lots (and I mean lots) of people are willing to jump in and help.

This new community is very positive. This community is engaged. And it is personal. 

What I saw was that there's a big group of people who don't live anywhere near each other that all came together and had an amazing discussion. This truly shows what is capable over the internet. Do not underestimate what we can achieve using it.

What was the outcome?

Many of you signed your names on the line. This sets you apart. A large percentage of you are even choosing to do whatever it takes to make this "thing" happen. This is huge, and it will not go unnoticed. Lots of people want to know how this is all going to turn out.*

Here are just some of the comments I received on Twitter: 

There was lots more buzz on my blog here, Google Plus and LinkedIn, and the responses were thoughtful, energetic and emotional. Thank you everyone for the positive remarks.

What's next?

I'm intentionally wandering off into the wilderness this week to disconnect. There's some serious play waiting for me and I need to refresh my body and mind so that when I get back I'll be ready to figure this out with the help of many other very talented people. 

Don't be surprised if you don't hear from me the entire time. There's never a good time to take a vacation when you work in architecture, but it's due (there's my token architectural deadline reference). I just have to do it for me. When I get back, we will then return to our originally scheduled program.

We are artists. We will design the profession we want to work in. We will not simply talk about it. I love this quote by Seth Godin:

Most people have been brainwashed into believing that their job is to copyedit the world, not to design it.

Let's not allow that to be us. 

There are lots of things already in the works so stay tuned for the next update. The best way to do that is to get on the Undercurrent list.

--Evan

PS Like I mentioned earlier, there are lots of people who want to know how this is going to turn out. They've "seen this before" and they've "talked about this years ago." This isn't anything new. They might even try to tell us it won't work. But like designing buildings, the real fun is going to be in the process. It's going to be our job to keep it moving forward and strike while the iron's hot. We will forge a new road together.

All this positive energy will not go to waste. The universe appreciates speed, and I plan on us taking advantage of that.