Civic Media Collaborative Design Studio 2016: Co-ops


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The Civic Media: Collaborative Design Studio (Co-Design Studio:, 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 More info follows; let us know if you’d like to collaborate! @schock /, or sign up for updates here: 

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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 and

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 ( This year Evan Henshaw-Plath will work with us to share lean UX and lean startup methods. Additional resource partners may include, 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?

  1. A course with Design teams making and launching projects

  2. A DiscoTech/hackathon/design jam

  3. (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

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!

Co-Design: Cooperatives! Preparing for the Spring 2016 Co-Design Studio.

Worker Owned Cooperative logo

Worker-Owned Cooperatives FTW!

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.


Here I am

My name is Alexandre Goncalves, a Brazilian who has been living in Cambridge since September 2012. You can call me Alex. I worked as a Science reporter in Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo for five years. I am also a computer programmer who worked for IBM and other software companies.

At MIT, I am a second year Master’s student at Comparative Media Studies and a research assistant in the Center For Civic Media. My main interests are data journalism and the future of press in modern democratic societies.

I love literature and philosophy… especially when they are found together. Like Albert Camus, I believe “a novel is nothing but philosophy expressed in images.” An amateur photographer, I am fond of images in whatever form they take: there is little more beautiful than a hike through the rainforest woven through with shallow but crystalline rivers.

Hi, this is Dara

Hi everyone, I’m Dara (pronounced like Sara). Though, if you looked at my birth certificate you’d see that my real name is Dar, which in Hebrew means ‘mother-of-pearl’ and in Spanish means ‘to give,’ and represents the duality of my background.  My father was from Israel and immigrated to the U.S. in the early 1980s and my mother was born into a Puerto Rican and Colombian family in Jackson Heights, Queens. My mom, however, wanted to Americanize my name and had people outside of my family call me ‘Dara.’

I was born in New York City, where we lived in Washington Heights until I was six. After that, I was transplanted to Jersey, where I would sit in front of the window for hours, looking for people. Once, I spotted someone and started to scream with joy and exclaimed, “MOM! COME QUICK! THERE ARE PEOPLE HERE LIKE IN NEW YORK!” My grandfather always used to say, “people need people,” and I couldn’t live in a place where I couldn’t easily interact with people. Needless to say, I always missed city living and after I graduated from the University of Michigan, I headed straight back.

In New York, I first worked for a legal services non-profit as a legal advocate, representing low- and no-income New Yorkers on issues tied to their ongoing receipt of public assistance, Medicaid, food stamps, and housing subsidies. Then, I worked for a non-profit supportive housing developer, coordinating the rent-up process for their newest building in Brownsville, Brooklyn. In the middle of it all, I went to Turkey on a Fulbright Fellowship, teaching English at a university in a rural town and getting plump for Thanksgiving — it was gravy! (chuckle? I think I may be cringing)

I am currently a second year student in the city planning program at MIT and my interests lie at the nexus of housing and economic development. I am excited to take this course and work with community organizations in the Boston area to help them develop narratives around issues that are important to them through different forms of media!

Douglas I am.

Hello, my name is Douglas Omar Sanchez, but feel free to call me Doug, Douglas or Dougie. I am a senior in Mechanical Engineering (2A) with a concentration in product design. My self taught hobby and strongest skill is graphic design (I’m an Adobe Illustrator Certifed Expert). I am use to applying the design process to making products but not to civic media projects. I believe in the theories of democratic design and am excited to learn new ways to apply those theories to more than just consumers products.

Hello, this is Carrie.

Hello people! My name is Jiahui Liang but I usually go by the nickname Carrie. I was born in GuangZhou, China and I moved to the United States when I was 10 years old (in 2003). I am a senior studying Mechanical Engineering (course 2) at MIT. I am interested in product development, robotics, and web design. I am hoping to apply my engineering skills to solve some real world problems and learn more about civic media and other social movements through this class. I am looking forward to working with you all this semester!