Micène Fontaine, May 20, 2021

Who listens when you need to talk? Who do you call? How do you feel after having talked to them? The fact that most of us know exactly who we would call tells us how important and rare it is. Are you the one others call? Do you consider yourself to be a good listener?

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Micène Fontaine, May 13, 2021

Earth day 2021. 5:30am. The appeal of freshly brewed coffee guides me down to the kitchen. My husband is there, big smile, fully awake, and ready to take on the day. The only words I can utter at that time are always the same: Bonjour mon amour. How did you sleep? The answer usually doesn’t register (he knows I am not awake or listening or ready to have a conversation), but this time, his answer stuck with me as I poured my first cup of coffee: I don’t know. I have not looked at the app yet.

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Micène Fontaine, May 6, 2021

If you've ever coached someone, have partaken in therapy of any kind, or have been around kids, then you know firsthand how powerful questions can be. Especially simple ones such as: Why is that? Or Can you tell me more? Questions can also be irritating (to me at least) because, by sheer design, they force us to get closer and closer to the root cause of a problem and shine the light on what we are really solving for.

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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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