At precisely 2.02 on Saturday afternoon two weeks ago, the texts and tweets started flowing in:
Perkins and Will (one of the foremost architecture firms in the world)
“Amen, Brenda! Mindblowing pictures, process, data, stories, indeed. Rock on#shadelab @publicworkshop”
“@publicworkshop Totally rocks. You have a great group. What clever, dynamic kids.”
Barbara Brown Wilson- Director, Institute for Sustainable Development at the University of Texas
“Yes, and she was outstanding, which lead me to look for you long and hard because I wanted to hug your neck and tell you so. Congrats on the fantastic work you all are doing!”
Katie Swenson- Vice President of the Enterprise Community Foundation/Head of the Rose Fellowship
“…….Alex, you were missed but even better to hear about your efforts through community lens (Brenda)”
Katherine Darnstadt- Head of Architecture For Humanity Chicago
“Brenda did amazing! No nerves, cool as ice and yes, she takes phenomenal photos.”
Sarah Abel- AIAS
@publicworkshop :: Brenda rocked it for#ShadeLab http://t.co/2kNYaT
Sarah Malin- The Third Teacher and OWPP Architects
Great Pecha Kucha session here at SFI on your thermometer project! She (Brenda) is adorable.
Ryan Wilson- Converge Exchange
Brenda did a knockout job! Awesome photos! Awesome delivery! I get she’s a rockstar.
Monica Chadha- Studio Gang, Conference Organizer
By the way, Brenda did an amazing job. I suspect that you have already heard this many times from other.
re: Mike’s comment below: I can only agree. That slide just cracked me up. I can’t wait to see what Brenda continues to do.
Mike Newman- SHED Studio, Converge Exchange and Conference Organizer
There were a lot of highlights, but Brenda was right up there. And just as you had suggested, she was a welcome cut through the usual presentation types, completely broke the crowd up. Attitude was right on the money. And I think perhaps my favorite two slides of the whole presentation was the giant nose and the huge thermometers. Those were hilarious, I gotta find out more about you guys are up to.
Catherine Muller- Archeworks Fellow and Studio Instructor
Watching your intern rock the SFI PK. The crowd loves her!
Megan Clark- Program Manager, California College of the Arts Center for Art and Public Life
(told to Brenda) “You do indeed take gorgeous photos, and gave one of my favorite presentations at SFI this year. Thank you for showing the crowd what true leadership looks like!”
“So sorry not to see you at SFI, but so loved Brenda Gamboa’s presentation – AMAZING young woman and AMAZING project!”
Why all of the effusive and generous messages?
Well, at 1.57 pm, one of our superstar interns, 20 year old Brenda Gamboa, presented Shadelab, our young adult-led community sensing and story gathering project, to over 300 people including the country’s top community designers at the Structures For Inclusion Conference in Chicago, IL. By far the youngest person in the room and one of the only ‘community’ members in attendance, as you can divine from the above comments, she gave an incredible performance apparently eliciting raucous laughter, cheers and even enthusiastic whooping from the audience. Needless to say, I could not be any happier for Brenda who deserves every single ounce of praise for her incredible leadership, her remarkable skills and her essential role in making this project possible. I am also ecstatic for the entire Shadelab project team as we are incredibly proud of this project, the team we assembled and grateful for the incredible support of organizations such as Sensaris, Pivotal Chicago and the Metro Chicago Information Center. One of the shocking realities of this project is that while Brenda is simply outstanding, Nelida, Jeisson, Patrick or any other member of the Shadelab team could have stood in front of the Structures For Inclusion audience two weeks ago and wowed everyone. I say this not to diminish Brenda’s contribution or to give false ego boosting praise to the other team members.
Without fail it’s almost always possible to find ONE good student, designer or leader in a group but to have an entire team is pretty special. However, I think it’s also important to recognize the role of the project—giving young adults a clear role in changing the places where they live, learn and play—in bringing out the very best in every single team member.
Congratulations Jeisson, Karla, Sage, Patrick, Nelida and Michael!
I’m so proud of you.
For more information on the project, click here.
Although Brenda’s storytelling is obviously missing, have a look at the beautiful presentation she and I worked together to assemble. And by the way, all but one of the photos were taken by Brenda. Yep, she’s good, really good. And if you live in the Chicago area, she has her own photography business- hire her.