Micène Fontaine, April 15, 2021

I can't say we kids always loved it, but growing up in the Normandy countryside, my dad would often wake us up in the middle of the night to observe the stars or a deer eating his vegetable garden. Walks in the nearby forest were an opportunity for him to share his fascination with how plants can heal or poison you, and that - regardless - each plays a critical role. I’m now glad he woke us up. It instilled in me a deep appreciation for nature's power. 

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Micène Fontaine, April 8, 2021

The exhibit “Learning from Nature: The Future of Design” was about to open at the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) when the pandemic shut everything down. I never made it to the exhibit, but the underlying idea (relearning from nature) is increasingly featured in both trade and mainstream design publications.

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Micène Fontaine, March 30, 2021

95.84%. That's how much time I've spent indoors today. It is not an outlier. It is typical of a weekday. What about you?

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Micène Fontaine, March 16, 2021

I get triggered - a lot (my husband would say I allow things to trigger me, but I digress). That said, being triggered by the 9-word title of an article in a magazine I love (Fast Company) was a first and a new low. The title of the article was “Interior design is a human right, not a luxury.” These 9 words had triggered something in me (not the good kind, the long sigh combined with expletives kind).

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Micène Fontaine, February 18, 2021

Quick. Think of walkable cities. Ready? Did Houston, TX make the list?

I didn't think so. Houston has plenty of wonderful things to offer, but as a frequent (albeit not recent) visitor, traffic rhythm seems to rule over life in the city - not to mention the sprawling suburbs. Yet, somehow, even in Houston, a version of the 15-minute city (more on that later) is quietly taking shape in the form of the proposed Walkable Places city ordinance. Houston might be the least obvious choice for walkability. Still, its mayor, Sylvester Turner, is far from alone in realizing that "more than ever, our citizens want walkable places that connect to parks and activity centers. Our city needs to grow and develop responsibly and efficiently". Baby steps in Houston but steps in the direction of building more Sustainable Cities and Communities by Design.

Melbourne | Features of a 20-Minute Neighborhood
(Image Credits: State Government of Victoria 2021)

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Micène Fontaine, July 23, 2020

Words carry a lot of weight, yet some are thrown around so lightly that their meaning gets further diluted with each use. 

The words “disrupt” and “empower” come to mind. Each of these words holds bold promises, but “empower” is particularly tricky, in my opinion. It’s one of my pet-peeves (the list is long, but it’s in the top 100). Full disclosure, “empower” found its way into our vision statement as it has into many other vision statements. It’s also in the title of our upcoming Change by Design session: “Empowering Everyone Everywhere.” The irony is not lost on me, yet my gripe persists. I don’t believe anyone can empower anyone else (myself included in both cases).

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Micène Fontaine, July 9, 2020

If you could alleviate one health challenge in your community, which would it be? How would you choose only one?

Tough question, isn’t it? Choice architecture, a term borrowed from behavioral economics, has nothing to do with architecture, but it might help us answer this question. Choice architecture is about influencing choice by “organizing the context in which people make decisions.” A basic example is having healthy snacks on display in the breakroom or in the kitchen at home to increase the likelihood of making healthier choices.

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Micène Fontaine, July 7, 2020

Trauma comes in many forms: physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual or sexual abuse, neglect, discrimination, violence, etc. Trauma, much like mental health issues, is all too often invisible to others and exacerbated by past experiences.

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Micène Fontaine, May 20, 2020

2020 will undoubtedly be one these years seared in the global collective consciousness. For one thing, it has put the livability of our environments (and of those we live with) to the ultimate test. Generally speaking, livability (or lovability as I wish it were called) is about “the quality of life in any human living environment.”1

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Micène Fontaine, May 13, 2020

On my last visit to Havana, I went to the Fine Arts Museum to learn more about Cuban Art. In the lobby, I was greeted by an art installation that simply stated: It's now or never (Ahora or Nunca) in colored lights. I stared for a while. I took it as both an indictment for not doing enough (about an absurdly long list of things) and also as a gentle reminder to act and do what I can. What was I waiting for?

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