Since I am a person who likes animation, I sometimes like to plan things out using storyboards. Storyboards to me are a great way to think about situations or plan things out. They have a beginning, a middle, and an end, so things are easily compartmentalized. With a storyboard, it’s easy to think of a chain of events from point A to point B.

Even if things in life are rarely easily planned, or events happen concurrently, I’ve always found a storyboard a great way to visualize things. That’s why when planning out a project, storyboards can be helpful. Present the topic at hand, goal, or question as the first panel. Then draw the following panels as steps you want to take before you get to the final panel, which would be the end or result. You can keep adding new panels, or have panels branch off from each other, but the storyboard will stay an easy-to-follow sequence of events.

You can even leave panels blank. There’s some times when you don’t really know how you’ll get from point A to point B. Maybe you’ll come up with that later, but maybe things will just play out in ways you didn’t plan. Or, maybe panels you had drawn out end up not happening at all, or end up turning out way different than you thought they would. Maybe your goal even changed or you ended up achieving it in a way you hadn’t imagined. And that’s ok too.

However you go about planning for the future, it’s important to know that life does keep moving forward. Sure, time is relative, but today’s society still likes to think of it as linear. No matter what you do, the world will keep moving around you. Point B will be reached. It’s just up to you to figure out how to get there.

Maggie’s Intro


My name is Maggie Hughes and I’m a senior at Wellesley College! I’m from Virginia where I bounced between the southeast and the northwest, and I’m now majoring in political science with a design minor.

For the past two years, I’ve UROPed with Social Machines at the Media Lab. The group “seeks to enable human-machine collaborations that enhance our ability to listen, learn and engage across communities.” This has manifested in tools such as The Electome that mapped and analyzed the conversations around the 2016 election on Twitter and looked at how they developed and changed over time. This project acted as a springboard to my thesis that maps and analyzes the Twitter users’ response to mass shootings over time by looking at how clusters of conversation form as well as the content of those conversations.

I hope to pursue community organizing and human-machine collaboration and tool building in this course and after school. I am deeply interested in creating platforms for communities to share their successes and reveal and emerge their strengths, and I hope to pursue this mission in this course!


Over the summer, I lived in Roxbury and began to develop a relationship with the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) and Project Hope. DSNI’s mission is to “empower Dudley residents to organize, plan for, create and control a vibrant, diverse and high-quality neighborhood in collaboration with community partners.” We originally began working with DSNI to translate a method mothers in my community used in Virginia to Boston communities, a form of overcoming the preventative cost of childcare through networks. This happens naturally, but we wondered if technology could contribute or scale this model. However, after speaking with mothers and families from these groups, the concept has evolved radically.

The families I spoke to shifted from DSNI to Project Hope and Empath. After working and speaking with many mothers from these groups, they did not express interest in networks to overcome the preventative cost of childcare. However, they deeply cared about their community and sharing information within that community. For instance, all of the women I’ve spoken to had found solutions to many obstacles within their lives. They had been settled for some time, and they expressed interest in telling their stories and sharing their solutions with younger mothers in their community. This is the point we are at now, however I imagine that anything we produce could look radically different than what I expect, and speaking with a different age of mothers would have different results.

Learning Goals

As I explained in my diagram, I hope to engage with the community through these partners to collaboratively build tools with them with heavy iteration. Hopefully, the final product will be passive and amplify the community’s strengths rather than act as an intervention. In this course, I hope to learn how to build passive systems rather than the intervening ones.

In this course, I hope to learn how to better engage with the community, promote trust, and collaborate in a more positive way. I hope to better learn how to constructively and holistically collaborate with a community that was not mine originally without contributing to or perpetuating the white savior narrative. I hope that through much iteration and deep collaboration, we can find a system that compliments the community.

Searching for the Seeds of the Seeds



Lately I’ve been contending with what feels like two different sides of my practice. Wait, scratch that.

Contending with what other people frame as the two sides of my practice. I’m either the silly, crazy public artist whose work delights, unites and ameliorates–or the social justice warrior who dares to confront the public with challenging issues. Justice and joy are not different sensibilities. They emerge similarly from a longing for liberatory internal and external space. Liberation leads to justice and to joy.


I am an entrepreneurial civic artist, cultural producer, writer, communications strategist and public space lover passionate about engagement that dissolves barriers. My work reimagines public spaces to enact social change. I currently serve as the Arts & Culture Fellow at the Metropolitan Area Planning Council of Boston while I pursue my Masters of Design in Art, Design & the Public Domain at Harvard University. Previous to relocating to Cambridge, I served as the inaugural Arts & Culture Outreach Associate at Transportation for America where I co-wrote a national field scan on arts, culture and transportation commissioned by ArtPlace America. From 2011 through 2016, I lived and worked in St. Louis, MO as a social practice artist and creative community organizer, and have had the joy of working all throughout the nation, as well as El Salvador, Spain and Berlin.

I serve as the Founding Director of STL Improv Anywhere, a guerrilla performance collective disrupting public spaces with joy and mischief. I am also Co-Creator of Building as Body, The Poetree Project, #ChalkedUnarmed, and produce annual city-wide events–like the No Pants Metrolink Ride and International Pillow Fight Day. I sit on the board of the Midwest Artist Projects Services. My work has been supported by the Regional Arts Commission, Pulitzer Arts Foundation, Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement, Marfa Dialogues, the City of St. Louis, and more. As a writer, I have published in Hyperallergic, Temporary Art Review, Public Art Review, Surface Design Journal, Art Animal Magazine, Riverfront Times, The Mantle, FEAST Magazine, Alive Magazine and more. I serve as a member of the national Placemaking Leadership Council for Projects for Public Spaces, and formerly served on the Next City Advisory Committee. I speak regularly on the topics of public art, social practice and social justice.


This semester I plan to work with my fellowship team at the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and the community of Natick, Massachusetts, led by Natick Center Associates. MAPC has been tasked with supporting the town of Natick as they think through the redevelopment of their city center. I’d like to try to encourage the stakeholders in Natick to really dig in and use art and culture not just to be the cherry on top, but to help confront and address ongoing challenges in their region. Also involved in this project are partners Americans for the Arts (AFTA) and the American Planning Association (APA), who will be providing support and evaluation recommendations. APA hopes to learn from this process to be able to begin to build a model for replicated curriculum and processes.


I this class, I’d like to work on uniting administrative and creative practices into one muscle. I am frequently asked to do or be just one or the other, but I think the binary is destructive, so I’d love to practice inhabiting it all at once in this class.

Another learning goal includes gaining better insight into how to leverage technology and media in my practice. Next I’d like to gain more fluency in these technologies and media to be able to incorporate them into my practice without necessarily needing a collaborating. These media include video, code, projection, apps, and whatever else makes sense for these emergent contexts.

I’d also like to spend more time thinking about the nucleus from where justice/joy emerge and how to bring people into that space through my practice.



Lisa intro


Hello. I am Lisa and thrilled to be working with all of you this semester. I am already enjoying the diversity of ideas and seeing how people approach issues.

My background is in language technology. I did early research in AI and then founded a company around global data collection for technologies including search and speech.  We worked in over 120 languages over 20 years. As the company grew, the culture was overtaken by the imperative of  “maximizing shareholder value” and in the end, the value created over decades was not shared beyond investors.   I left the company after taking it public and joined the Advanced Leadership Initiative at Harvard which provides fellowships for seasoned executives to study social impact.

I am partnered with Talent Beyond Boundaries who partner with the UN and governments on Labor Mobility.   Skilled refugees need jobs. Global employers need talent. TBB connects them.

They have had early successes at changing immigration laws in support of labor migration, partnering with the UN.  They continue to focus on “additive” immigration quotas in additional countries (i.e. not redirecting immigration quotas but adding new opportunities for skilled refugees). They are currently engaged in a number of pilots to prove to funders and government leaders that the approach is sustainable and scalable.

As TBB scales operations there are design issues around preparing refugee families for relocation with language and culture skills. In addition, once relocated, connecting them with community support. The pilot is primarily focused on Australia.

Jaleesa’s Intro

My name is Jaleesa, and I’m a master’s student at the Media Lab, with the Lifelong Kindergarten group. I’m from Tacoma, WA, where I was a community organizer and educator before moving to Cambridge for grad school. I worked with Tacoma Action Collective, I taught high school computer science, and I was the coordinator at the Tacoma Computer Clubhouse. 

Last semester I took Technology & Social Change, where my project was #BlackInSTEM: examining the barriers to constructionism in education for Black youth through an intersectional lens. In my design brief I scratch the surface at the race, class, and social barriers that Black and other marginalized youth encounter. For this class, I would like to focus on one of the project ideas from my ideation section, the subscription box. Below is the description:

“In short, the idea is to create a STEM subscription box that is focused on empowering and encouraging marginalized youth to be creators and pursue an education/career in STEM. Each month youth will receive a box that contains materials and a design question/challenge. The box will also include information about the products, and where they can receive more information. The box will not contain instructions, as the focus is on constructing their own ideas and becoming inventors and creators. The box will contain the image and story of a person of color in STEM and their story, including their path into STEM, their struggles, and what they wish they’d known as a teenager. To accompany the box, there will be an online space where youth can share images of what they created, comment on what others created, and ask questions when they get stuck. Both online and in the box will be tips on how to troubleshoot, and messages of encouragement from STEM professionals. The online space will also provide information on where they can be connected to mentors. The combination of the box and online space will give marginalized youth the power to create, inspiration, a place to share, a space to ask questions, and a space that they can call their own. Possible collaborators include Make! Magazine, Arduino, Adafruit, and other companies that are present in the maker movement. There is also potential for community collaboration, through purchasing options. To eliminate the cost barrier, individuals can purchase a subscription for a youth, classroom, or after school program that can’t afford it.

This intervention combines several of my ideas into one, because this issue is complex and deserves a solution that is intersectional. The subscription box provides several interventions, including empowerment, access to engage in constructionist learning, providing mentorship, creating a safe space to share ideas, and eliminates the barrier created by poverty”

My community partner will either be the Computer Clubhouse Network or an individual Clubhouse.


*waves* Hi, I’m Britney!

Britney's Design Journey


Hi, everyone!

My name is Britney. I’m a first year, master’s student in the Viral Communications group at the Media Lab.

I was born and raised in Surry, Virginia (a small, but special, town about 1.5 hours southeast of Richmond). Prior to joining the Media Lab, I obtained my master’s degree in computer science (specializing in social computing) from Georgia Tech. My bachelor’s degree is also in computer science (with a minor in leadership studies), which I earned from Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia. I am a lover of all things inspirational that promotes optimism, uplift, unity, and love. A few of my hobbies include playing basketball, spending time with family/friends, public speaking, and volunteering.

The project I plan to work on focuses on diversity and inclusion within technology from a cultural perspective. The journey I hope to take is to explore how culture, primarily black culture, and technology can be intertwined to make the field more inclusive. Instead of people of color primarily consuming technology, they’ll be producers of technology that they can see themselves within. My dream is to have more technology created that embodies what it means to celebrate and exhibit how great black culture is. My potential community partner, who I had the pleasure to connect with in the fall, is The Knowledge House – a non-profit organization aimed at developing a pipeline of tech talent from low-income communities.

Illustrated in the image above – I believe this design process will be filled with moments when an idea seems like it’ll be great, but we may have to come to a halt and do more brainstorming. We may also have times when we need to pause, or slow down, and think of other possible avenues to take. Addressing diversity and inclusion in technology is no easy task and will take lots of effort. However, no matter how many loops and circles we experience, we will get closer and closer to our goal if we just remember the reasons why we started.  Some learning goals I hope to gain from this course include:

  • communicating clearly and effectively the importance of representation + seeing one’s self within the technical field;
  • gaining deeper insight into barriers that may have been overlooked while addressing inclusion within technology;
  • and developing ideas on what avenue we should take in order to start moving toward the type of inclusion described briefly in the previous paragraph.

I am excited and truly looking forward to getting to know each of you, as well as your projects, throughout the semester!

- Britney

Ashley’s intro


Hello fellow studio mates!

I’m Ashley, and I’m delighted to be working with you all. Previously, I have worked in various software engineering, international development, and policy roles, and have designed technologies, initiatives, and policies related to issues such as human rights, labor rights, and youth empowerment. As a doctoral student, I spend a lot of time hanging out with and studying young people and participatory media.

Like a few others here, I’m coming into class without a specific community partner in mind, and I’m hoping to collaborate with someone who has an existing relationship. Because of my multidisciplinary background, I often find myself working at the interfaces — for example, between engineers, designers, and social scientists.

I expect my design process to be messy and full of surprises. I often lead design thinking workshops for other students, and I find it rewarding to help myself and others make new discoveries and connections between people and ideas during the design process. There will likely be moments when things aren’t going as planned, and we feel stuck, but I hope to continue learning how to ground the design process in the community of people I’m working with. My past experience has taught me that interventions that are designed by outsiders and delivered to a community almost always fail. That’s why I appreciate messiness that comes with commitment to designing with the community.

Hanna says, “Mess is Cool!”

Hello, co-designers—

My name is Hanna and I’m a first-year Master in Design Studies (M.Des) student in the Art, Design, and the Public Domain program at Harvard Graduate School of Design. I have a BFA in painting and concentration in graphic design from the Maryland Institute College of Art. For four years after college, I worked with a wide range of clients from fashion to tech startup as a graphic designer and illustrator.

I came back to school because I hit a wall. I became aware that I made the few already-rich richer, those who don’t really need my help. So I set out to find a more meaningful purpose, where my service could truly benefit as many people as possible. To my relief, I found it at the intersection of design and policy, which is the current focus of my study.

Last year, I collaborated with the Center for Urban Pedagogy on an issue of Making Policy Public as a graphic designer. I created a visual guide that educates the public on New York state’s utility law with CUP and the Public Utility Law Project. Through this class, I hope to continue exploring innovative and design-driven methods of approaching issues that are difficult to communicate. I thoroughly enjoy translating complex and abstract information into friendly visual communication—and I’m good at it :)

I don’t have a partnering organization this semester, so I am all yours! I work intuitively, iteratively, and collaboratively, just as any moderately successful designer would. While I don’t shy away from the mess—as my class exercise shows—I actively seek out joyful moments in my design process. I would like to work with someone who wants to work with a visual communicator, tool-kit maker, and an all-around artist to spice up their project. I would love to work with someone who can help me become passionate about their project. Here’s my portfolio site if you are interested in the work I’ve produced over the years.

Amber’s Intro

The Design Process: Access TV Style

The Design Process: Access TV Style

Hello everyone, Amber here!

I work at Billerica Access Television (BATV) where, in my current capacity as Youth Coordinator, I create and manage youth media programs. Essentially, I work with groups of students, teachers, and community members to help Billerica’s younger populations think critically about the media they consume while also empowering them to create their own media. I’m always looking to grow our programs and venture into new project areas as technology and the interests of the students I work with change, which is why I’m here! I’m really looking forward to working with everyone and seeing the progression of everyone’s projects in the Co-Design Studio!

My project idea popped into my head while I was planning out curriculum for one of my middle school groups. I plan to have this group in particular make PSAs that center around a topic that they feel is relevant and important to them. But this got me thinking: kids are often left out of the mix when it comes to town issues and town government. Sure, they aren’t able to vote yet, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t issues and decisions in town directly or indirectly impacting them.

Additionally, although the “how” of town government is taught in schools (i.e. how the system works), the “why” and “what” are often neglected. When I asked a few of my students (5th grade, 8th grade, and 10th grade) if they knew what was being discussed in our town’s various committee meetings, they “had no idea” and “why should they?” because “that stuff’s boring.” The responses were what I expected, but it’s still concerning. How are kids supposed to develop into citizens who fight for their rights, challenge oppressive systems, bring awareness to issues, and generally feel empowered if they don’t know or care to know what is going on in their own town hall? People can learn about these things as they get older, but why not start earlier? Why wait?

My goal in this class is to develop a project that engages Billerica’s youth in understanding what articles/issues are discussed in town government without having to sit through multiple hours a week of broadcasted meetings. It should be interactive, include BATV resources (e.g. VR or 360 video technologies), and, most importantly, be developed with student input taking the forefront. Kids may not be interested in this type of subject matter, but if they are included in the process and taken seriously, they are more likely to feel invested in the project. I don’t want students to feel talked down to by another adult who claims they know what’ll work best. I want to help foster a collaboration between students, BATV, the schools, and the town in order to make this project as successful as possible. I realized I definitely needed help with this undertaking, which is why I seized the opportunity to join the co-design studio.

The expectation I have for my design process (pictured above) is that it will originate from the current resources at BATV and in Billerica, which is noted by the old school television set and green background (Billerica’s colors are green and white). The three squiggly lines coming from the “rabbit ears” signifies our station’s three channels: public, government, and educational. In the process, I hope to see an explosion of creativity and a re-thinking of these current systems, which is signified by the central squiggly line aka our government channel with the pink “firework” coming out of it. I imagine that lots of ideas and help will be thrown our way from various sources, which may lead to dead ends or help keep energy alive in the design process (signified by the yellow bits of paper). Most importantly, I imagine that the process itself will “crack open” the public’s preconceived notions about access television (Wayne’s World is great, but that’s not a full representation of what our industry does) and will also challenge my own ideas about how program/project design works. Based on my physical representation, I know that the process will be messy and all over the place. However, it will end up producing a worthwhile project that generates interest and a sense of empowerment when it comes to Billerica’s youth and their town government.

People (including some of my students) have told me that this project may not pan out the way I want it to, which I expect. After all, this is an ambitious project with many moving parts. Design is not easy, but my hope is that through the process of designing whatever this project becomes, something positive will emerge.

Hello from Aki!

My expected design process

My expected design process

Hello fellow Civic Media Co-Design Studio-mates!

My name is Akina (Aki) Younge and I am very excited to be in class with you all.  As you know, the photo above is a representation of what I expect my design process to look like this semester.  I expect my process to be collaborative, messy, connected, and colorful!

As someone who is coming into class without a community partner in mind, I am hoping to connect with someone who already has a developed relationship.  So, for my design process, I put in paper hands holding different ends of the project string as a representation for me building relationships — with you, with the partner organization you already have, with other classmates, with people through the design process.  Coming from coordinating legislative advocacy campaigns in New York City, I really value relationships because I think it allows everyone to feel like they are valuable and contributing.  I can’t wait to share our expertise and discover what new expertise we have together.

I also expect my design process to be messy.  This messiness comes from a belief that there is so much potential for connection and the best way to get at the connection is through trial and error, feedback, and curiosity.  The pink curly paper represents the messiness and circuitousness that will come from our exploration.  I think that I am a curious person: I love asking questions, defining purpose for a project, and reimagining what we could do.  I have practiced some of those skills when I lived in Medellin, Colombia working for a group that conducted community visioning sessions with a neighborhood that was going to “revitalized.”  A large part of the community visioning sessions was a map making project that helped us see connections about what people valued in their neighborhood: we would divide all attendees into small groups of 4, give them butcher paper and markers, and told them to draw their neighborhood.  Each group would then report back, and we began to see themes about what people valued about their neighborhood from seeing what institutions, practices, places, people kept showing up on the maps from different groups.  We then had people go back to their maps and draw what they wished were in their neighborhoods, helping highlight the expertise that the community had around designing where they lived and connecting people in the room who might be able to help create what someone had felt was missing.  I am excited to learn more tools that can use my curiosity and desire to find connections as a way to co-design new solutions.

Because I feel very committed to grassroots, racial justice movements, I put a layer of green in my design process to represent the hands as being rooted in grassroots communities and organizing.  I am Black and Japanese and have always connected my work into racial equity.  As a policy student, I am focused on creating policies that further neighborhood and school integration and that intentionally use data and algorithms to further equity.  I have seen that even when polices around neighborhoods, schools, and the use of data and algorithms are well intentioned, they often reinforce racism.  I believe that the way we get out of this cycle of well-intentioned racist results is through intentional design that is rooted in a commitment to systemic change.  That rootedness usually grows out amazing grassroot organizing groups, and so I hope my design process stays grounded in community and community organizing.