Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Building Bridges: Chatting With Lorin from Arch Thinking

Today’s assignment is to introduce readers to one of BBAW’s participants. I’m going to argue I hit the jackpot with Lorin from Arch Thinking. This smart, young architect lives in the San Francisco area with her husband. They don't have children. Lorin says she's pretty happy spoiling her nephews and mentoring members of her church group.

I like to think I’m a pretty cool auntie to my nephews and niece, and I mentor young people, too. I knew this interview was going to be a good time. Learning she was an auntie and mentor was the first of many connections I was going to discover I share with this like-minded blogger.

I am a chatty Cathy and talking with Lorin flowed easily. We took an informal approach, opting to correspond over multiple emails and let the questions form as we got to know one another. Now, a good interviewer (I’m hoping I do Lorin justice here) takes time to do a little research. I spent some time reading Lorin’s blog and discovered she’s a Neil Gaiman fan. As a new convert, I wanted to know what she read so I wrote:

I'm a new Gaiman fan. Started reading him late last year. I've listen to him on audio. Really love him in that format and I was not an audio fan before. What have you read by him? Your favorite and why?
I haven't read much, really. Just Good Omens (which he wrote with Prachett) and Stardust, which I just loved and is probably my favorite graphic novel. My husband bought it for me when I was very ill a few years ago and I had to stay in bed for about a week. I was bored with trashy magazines after about a day but too sick to really concentrate on any extended reading. Stardust was just perfect. I've re-read it since and loved it even more. The illustrations (by Charles Vess) are lovely and the story is just a sweet love story, with enough darker elements to keep it from being a kids book.

Stardust was my first Gaiman book. This was going well.

I skimmed your review of Oates. Will go back to it. I have only gotten through one book by her, Them in college. I have tried to read her again. The English major in me says I should read her. What would you recommend? Why do you enjoy her work? My last attempt was Black Girl/White Girl. I was annoyed. Most of the time I kept thinking, "Get on with it already." Did I mention I keep buying her work?
Oates is such a prolific writer - she's always coming out with something new. I don't even try to keep up, so I've really only read a fraction of her work. And, even then, I've only liked about half of what I've read. So much of her writing seems intentionally dense. Either that, or I am getting stupider as I get older, and I just don't understand what she writes anymore. My favorite book by her is Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang. Partly for nostalgia reasons - I first read it when I was a teen, about the same age as the book's characters - and partly because I love the book's tone - that half mad, rushing towards something that is so evocative of what being a teenager is really like.

Now isn’t this the kind of smart and considered response, you hope for? It gets better, Lorin cares about others. On her blog she shares about social causes that matter to her.

Tell me a little about the causes you support.
Of my time, I give most to our church, primarily the youth group. The church and youth group support our local food bank -plans are underway now for our 3rd annual 30-hour Famine, which raises money and awareness about hunger, and is the number one contributor to whining among youth group participants! - and we started directly supporting the food bank a few years ago, as well.

On my blog, I support Kiva, an organization that allows people to make microloans to small businesses in developing countries around the world. What's amazing about it is that with an initial small investment of $25 or $50, you can help so many people because as the money gets paid back, you just lend it out again to someone else who needs it. The hardest part is deciding who to lend the money to. There are so many people out there, struggling to break free of the cycle of poverty they and their families have been stuck in for generations. For example, in Africa, it is very common to have to pay fees to attend school, and the fees can be a huge percentage of what the average income is around there. If you factor in that the child attending school isn't working, it is easy to see why a bright young child, especially a girl, could miss out on an education.

How could you not be impressed with this blogger?

I love architecture. Living in a city built on a river meant lots of commerce and development during our early history. We boast exceptional historical neighborhoods and amazing churches. Have you ever visited here? What types of structures interest you most? I confess I did not dig deep enough in your archives to be sure.
I've never been to Detroit, even though I have friends there. There are just so many places I'd love to visit someday.

My firm specializes in working with small institutions, non-profits and public entities. In particular, we are well-regarded in our area for our work with churches. I had always been interested in working with churches and, while I did not seek out a firm that does this kind of work, the firm was just a great fit for my interests. The firm I worked at previously mostly did housing - lot of multi-family residential and high-end single family residential. While I enjoyed certain aspects of that work, I found parts of it to be very wearing. At one point, I was working on a house, and the master closet was bigger than my apartment at the time! Eventually, I realized that I wanted to do work that was more meaningful. Even putting aside the religious aspects of the church work we do - and to be honest, here in the SF Bay Area, some of the churches we work with actually pretty secular! - working with a church does have a lot of meaning. Our clients have frequently spent years deciding what they want to do, have spent many more months raising the money, and the community at large usually takes a strong interest in the work we do. I like that the work we do matters so much to so many people.

You describe yourself as liberal. On my personal blog, I say I am a bohemian wannabe, veg-head, loc wearin' (black) Quaker. I attend Meetings but it's been a long time, and I'm a new convert. Still, it is a faith that resonates with me.
I tried out vegetarianism for a while in my teens but I just like steak and bacon too much to do it permanently! But, yes, I am proudly very liberal. I was raised in a strongly Catholic and (politically) liberal house. I've since left the Catholic church but that's a conversation for another day and a different blog, I think. =)

Let’s switch gears. What were your earliest impressions of the book blog world? Has your perception changed, if yes in what way?
When I first started blogging, I had no idea how big the book blogging world was. I knew (from Librarything) that book blogs were out there, but I couldn't have imagined what a large and vibrant community there really was. (I don't think this is an uncommon discovery.) At first, I tried to read everyone and everything, but I've calmed down a bit and just try to focus on the ones I really enjoy.

Quality writing aside, what are some of the qualities that draw you back to your favorite blogs?
Humor! I am not funny on my blog (I'd like to think that I'm funny in real life, but I'll let others judge) but I really appreciate the humor some writers can put in their blog, even into a review of a book I may not actually be interested in reading.

Has there been a book that significantly impacted or changed your worldview?
There have been many books that have impacted me, but no one big book that was my bible (not even the actual Bible - though I suppose if I were a "better" Christian, that's what I would have answered).

There is one book that I read over and over as a kid that may be a little unusual - The Amateur Naturalist by Gerald Durrell. I was just a very curious kid and very interested in science. The (small, Catholic) school I went to did not have a very robust science program. This - and The Trials of Life by David Attenborough - were my own private science tutor. I didn't end up growing up to be a scientist, but I think that, as an architect, I use a lot of the same kind of analytical thinking I learned.

On a more personal level, as a teen or young adult, was there a book that helped you with a personal issue(s) or helped you grow in some way?
When I was a young teen (13 or so, I don't exactly recall), my aunt gave me a book (which I have long since given away, so I no longer remember the name) about being a teen. It covered puberty, peer pressure, sex, drugs, etc. Most interesting to me was the sex talk. I had gotten the birds and the bees from my mom, of course, but not too much more. Reading this book was the first time I had ever really gotten the low-down on what birth control was and how it worked. I hadn't even kissed a boy at that point, but I found it fascinating!

List 8 reasons why you read.
What a tough question! There are a hundred reasons and yet only one - because I have to! I'm a reading addict. Take my books and magazines away and I'll read cereal boxes. Take those away and I'll write stories just so I can read them.

Why, though, am I a reading addict? I was brought up to be one, for a start, as my parents are avid readers. For my own part, I'll just say that during some of the roughest parts of my life, I have gotten to be somewhere else and someone else by reading. Robin McKinley, Tamora Pierce, C.S. Lewis, Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Margaret Frazer, Pat Conroy, Robert A. Heinlein, Orson Scott Card - thank you for creating new worlds for me to explore, as a youth and as an adult. Add in how much I have learned about the world through reading, especially nonfiction. Science, but also about architecture, cooking, history and language. I'm not sure if that's eight reasons but that about sums up my top reasons.

Lorin, thanks for chatting me. I’m looking forward to chatting with you more and spending time at your blog.

Did I not hit the jackpot? Read my responses to Lorin's questions at Arch Thinking. Hope you enjoyed our chat and happy reading.


Marjorie said...

What a fantastic conversation - thank you!

Doret said...

That was so good. I loved it.

Color Online said...

I really enjoyed chatting with Lorin. I just went by her site. She needs some love, people. Lorin hasn't been blogging long so go by for a great new place to read.

Zetta says I don't share when I featured so read Lorin's take on our chat.

Carleen Brice said...

Great interview. You just keep getting better and better!

evelyn.n.alfred said...

Lovely interview. Your last question was fantastic. Is there a reason you chose 8 reasons instead of a different number?

Heather J. said...

Great interview questions - there's a ton of info in there! You are both new-to-me bloggers and it's great to meet you. :)

Color Online said...


Now, you know that makes me feel good.

Evelyn, I chose eight because I can list several so I tried to choose a middle number.

Welcome to Color Online, Heather,

Get comfty, I'll grab you a coke. Sit a spell. :-)

MissAttitude said...

Interesting questions and responses! I live in Chicago and we have some gorgeous architecture.
Lorin I love how you support chairty organizations on your blog! You've inspired me to try and make a better effort to do that too :)