An Interview with Kathryn Fenneman at Tutoring Plus

Kathryn Fenneman

For this week, I interviewed Kathryn Fenneman from Tutoring Plus, an organization dedicated to youth and families in the Cambridge Area 4/Central Square community. We had an amazing conversation about gentrification, the right to the city, and displacement from a very different and unique point of view. I personally became interested in the role of education in combatting these issues after speaking with the Cambridge Community Foundation, who recommended that I reach out to Kathryn.

One of the things that was the most striking to me was before the interview, where Kathryn expressed a bit of hesitation. She made a point that we should be speaking with the community members as well, and that she did not speak for the community. As the CoDesign studio, this was really great for me to hear that concern, and definitely something that we have discussed in class as well.

We spoke about Kathryn’s activist work, how she got involved in the community. We spoke about the Cambridge poverty rates, and the disconnect between what we think about Cambridge (MIT and Harvard), and the neighborhoods and families that are being forgotten and left behind by Biotech companies and corporations.

Our conversations about barriers, as well, was great. We had a conversation about the giant glass walls of MIT, Harvard, and all the other corporations and institutions: even though many of the students live next door, they sometimes don’t feel welcome, or have the right to go in, or access its resources. One way that Tutoring Plus is involved is breaking this physical and symbolic barrier: bringing students into the Media Lab and MIT, involving them in the community, and also bringing in volunteers from these institutions to see the greater community.

Her vision for 2030?: Ending childhood poverty in Cambridge.

Our interview went really well–I felt more comfortable during this interview than the previous ones, and felt much more confident as the interviewer. A transcript will go up soon! 


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