I used to pass these doors in Ourense on one of the paths I would take through the city. I always found something rustically romantic about them. (terrible ipod photo).

The doors closed on my time in Spain (definitely not the last!) with a painful goodbye in June. I returned home looking for the next open doors. Obviously with the balancing of freelance and a job search, I had to make time to finally get caught up on blog posts...in JANUARY! Wow, too long.

My time since June has been spent freelancing on some fun projects, looking for the next opportunity, and taking this time (forced "extra time" as it may be) to read a lot and explore topics of design about which I now have a head swarming with questions. July was as hot as ever in Alabama humidity. And August. And September. Though good to refresh at home. I spent part of October and November working on a contract project with FEMA in Birmingham putting together tornado recovery plan books. It was an interesting experience and a great time to get to pick some brains of city planners. After seeing many cities this past year I have a fascination with how we plan cities, foster culture within them, and how people move around and connect in them. I have started Jane Jacobs' Death and Life of Great American Cities to explain some more in a classic sense. Highly recommended.

A trip to Chicago in December to see much-missed friends from time at PieLab/Greensboro was so refreshing. We had many conversations about where design is going, what is the changing role of the designer, what do we therefore call ourselves now, is social design really viable?, etc. Expect many more fleshed out explorations of this as I gather notes from sketchbooks. Those are some smart people and I'm always inspired by how they're "making it work" (thethirdofthree.com, amandabuck.com, wholman.com, Will's recent article here).

A job search in a struggling economy is never fun. I keep questioning if I really need to keep "searching," or whether or not to stop, and start my own gig. Tempting. The thing is, though, I'm young and have much to learn from those more imbedded in the profession. All good craftsmen have apprentices. There's a passing on of the trade that young designers cannot forsake. Hopefully the newer ones will push the conversation, but to do that you must know where you stand in the conversation. Delving into some old books and periodicals (not the only-eye-candy-rewarding design magazines on shelves now) is helping. Stay tuned for findings there.