We had an amazing semester working with four Boston area worker-owned cooperatives to co-design a wide range of media and tech projects. You can learn more about each project by clicking on the featured images below, or check out an overview of all of them on this new project summaries page. Enjoy!
Restoring Roots is a worker-owner cooperative based in Jamaica Plain, MA that provides a variety of landscape consulting, design, installation, and maintenance to the people of Greater Boston, with a focus on edible plants and sustainability. We co-designed a transmedia marketing campaign over multiple social media platforms including Instagram and Twitter to promote the Restoring Roots cooperative, as well as the ideas of urban gardening and landscaping, permaculture, and worker-owned cooperatives. See http://restoringroots.instapage.com.
Our project, Co-Everything, involved developing the concept and prototype of an online marketplace for co-ops by analyzing existing platforms that serve similar functions. We were able to collaborate with Loconomics, an online marketplace for freelancers, to provide valuable feedback and gather data about its current website model. Loconomics is a service-providing website and app co-founded by Joshua Danielson. This platform is similar to TaskRabbit, in which users can search for freelancers through the app and, alternatively, freelancers can set up a profile and list their services to be hired. Loconomics is currently in its beta stage, and we worked in collaboration with Joshua to gather user feedback. The feedback will not only serve to improve Loconomics but also give us insight on which models would work best in our development of Co-Everything.
Although it only exists as a prototype right now, Co-Everything is a single platform meant to foster a network of cooperatives, local businesses, and future clientele in the Boston area. We aim to develop this platform to form an accessible, easy connection between co-ops and their consumer base. We also envision Co-Everything providing a more efficient method for clients to buy co-op services, which would encourage consumers to buy more from co-ops. Co-ops need help connecting to other co-ops, connecting to clientele, advertising their services, and formalizing their transactions. On the other hand, consumers need help finding providers that match their values. We imagine that Co-Everything will fulfill these needs and target consumers who are looking for specific services and those who want to support co-ops, local businesses, or freelancers. Collaborating with Loconomics on their user testing and prototyping process helped improve the Loconomics site, and also lays the ground for our research into Co-Everything.
Image source: occupy.com
The Civic Media: Collaborative Design Studio (Co-Design Studio: http://codesign.mit.edu), based at MIT and working in collaboration with partners in multiple locations, generates civic media projects that are grounded in real-world community needs. We partner with community-based organizations, and use co-design and lean startup methods for project ideation, design, prototyping, testing, launch, and stewardship. In 2016, our partners will be worker-owned cooperatives.
TL;DR: We are running a project-based course in co-design with worker coops from February to May 2016 at MIT, and we’re planning to organize a 1-3 day event (DiscoTech/hackathon/design jam with cooperatives) to take place in multiple locations in the Spring of 2016. In the future, we’d like to explore an open, distributed, parallel courses model (like FemTechNet.org). Check out the draft syllabus, here. More info follows; let us know if you’d like to collaborate! @schock / firstname.lastname@example.org, or sign up for updates here:
What is the Co-Design Studio?
The Civic Media Co-Design Studio at MIT works to create civic media projects grounded in real-world community needs. We partner with community-based organizations and use co-design and lean startup methods for project ideation, design, prototyping, testing, launch, and stewardship.
Why Worker Cooperatives?
There’s growing interest in worker cooperatives as a powerful form of re-organizing the economy. If we’re going to ‘disrupt’ every sector with apps, why replace today’s crappy boss with another crappy boss tomorrow? Let’s disrupt the whole model and build a stronger, more democratic, more just, and more sustainable economy! “Worker cooperatives build community wealth and help make a democratic economy real,” since workers have a direct role in decision-making and a share of all profits. For more info, see platformcoop.net and www.usworker.coop.
Who are you?
The Co-Design Studio is organized by Sasha Costanza-Chock, Associate Professor of Civic Media at MIT and worker/owner at Research Action Design (RAD.cat). This year Evan Henshaw-Plath will work with us to share lean UX and lean startup methods. Additional resource partners may include RAD.cat, MIT CoLab, and more.
Who are partner organizations?
TBD. Likely candidates include cooperatives of home health aides, bicycle delivery, and gardening, among others.
What will you be doing?
A course with Design teams making and launching projects
A DiscoTech/hackathon/design jam
(Possibly) launch a lean co-op startup incubator!
When is it happening?
We’ll kick it off in February 2016, and see how long it lasts!
Where is it?
We’ll be running a course at the MIT Media Lab. We’re hoping that others will run similar courses in parallel. We’ll also be organizing and promoting a DiscoTech/hackathon/design jam that will take place at multiple locations around the world. For updates see codesign.mit.edu.
What will happen to the projects you make?
They’ll be owned by the cooperatives we partner with, and also released as Free Software and Creative Commons content.
How can I get involved?
That depends on who you are and how much time/energy/resources you want to commit!
Join the co-design studio course during the Spring semester at MIT
Run your own co-design studio with worker-owned cooperatives! (We’ll provide some resource materials based on our own process that you can use or remix as you see fit, and we’ll host video check-ins for teams that are working in different locations).
Volunteer with one of the codesign studio design teams
Attend (or organize!) a DiscoTech, Hackathon, or Design Jam focused on worker-owned cooperatives (dates TBD).
- Sponsor us!
We’re pleased to announce that in the Spring of 2016, the Co-Design Studio will be partnering with worker-owned cooperatives in low-wage sectors. We haven’t finalized partners yet, but most likely we will collaborate with cooperatives of home health aides, gardeners, and possibly a bicycle delivery coop.
Stay tuned, more soon! In the meantime, you can learn more from the U.S. Federation of Worker-Owned Cooperatives.
Live notes on the etherpad are here! https://surveillance.hackpad.com/Codesign-Studio-2014#Codesign-Studio-2014-Partner-Presentations
For more info, head over to codesign.mit.edu/enroll
Today the potential project partners for the fall 2013 civic media: collaborative design studio came by to present a little bit about the work they do and the possible projects they’d like to team up on. Here’s a summary of the presentations – you can see that they are all doing incredible work, and we’re very excited to have the chance to collaborate with them.
- Intelligent Mischief: http://intelligentmischief.com/2013/08/09/meet-intelligent-mischief/ (Terry Marshall)
- Design Studio 4 Social Intervention: http://ds4si.org/ (Ken Bailey)
- Vida Urbana / City Life: http://clvu.org/ (Mike Leyba)
- Spare Change News: http://sparechangenews.net/ (Vincent Flanagan; Aditi will present on behalf of Vincent)
- REV-: http://www.studiorev.org (Marisa Jahn and Anjum Asharia; Rodrigo will present on behalf of Marisa and Anjum)
- Brazilian Immigrant Center: http://www.braziliancenter.org (Lenita Carmo and Danielle Villela)
- The Urbano Project: http://www.urbanoproject.org/ (Stella McGregor and Risa Horn)
- ZUMIX: http://www.zumix.org/ (Lucia Duncan)
I’m excited to announce that the Civic Media: Codesign Studio course will be held again during the Fall Semester in 2013. We’ve received support from the MIT Teaching and Learning Fund to increase the number of students who can join and the number of community partners we can work with. Please spread the word, and look for announcements soon about who the partners will be. You can also check out the drafting space for the new version of the course syllabus, here: http://bit.ly/fallcodesignstudio2013. Hope to see you in September!