James Rojas and team designations

Guest Speaker

Place It! founder James Rojas worked with the studio on codesign around cities and municipalities. He explained that one of the biggest challenges with urban planning is people and planners speaking different languages. How can planners understand people on their own terms? How do you communicate ideas in public meetings? What are alternative spaces for sharing ideas and working with people? Starting those conversations nonverbally allows participants to move beyond language barriers, perceptions of expertise, and their own cognitive blocks.

Review of Readings

Postcolonial computing: a lens on design and development. In Proceedings of the 28th international conference on Human factors in computing systems
“Codesign in a historical context”
“A software design manifesto”
“Human Centered Design Considered Harmful”

As we enter into the codesign projects and processes, we need to think about it means to develop a project or technology with another group of people?

Much of the conversation revolved around the immediate production of results, which might not involve the community nor have lasting impact, versus long-term and nebulous projects. There are a lot of pressures that push people into short-term unsustainable solutions including time and energy, capital, the fact that solutions to the most complicated problems are often much more messy, personal interest, and individual trajectory. It’s easy to build a portfolio off of such items. This is in juxtaposition to “I worked with this community for three years and we tried to organized and go against this big company…” It’s not easy and really challenging. A balance is projects telling their story around the process of determining and delivering deliverables with things like video and blog posts.

Team Work!

And finally, we formed teams around the 4 community projects for the Codesign Studio. Each group took time to sync schedules and start planning their approach. The four projects are: Zumix, Urbano, City Life/Vida Urbana, and Brazilian Immigrant Center + REV. Each team is responsible for visiting their location at least 3 times over the course and will report their progress on this blog. We’re super excited to see what they come up with!

ZUMIX Site Visit

Check out this video of our first site visit! The sound track of the video is from live recording of a ZUMIX youth group that sang after the run.

On Sunday, our team met at Piers Park in East Boston to check out the Move to the Beat 5K run, which ZUMIX has organized for the last four years to raise funds for its music and creative technology programming. Lucia, our ZUMIX point-person, estimated that somewhere between 300-400 people took part in the race and/or musical festivities that young people from ZUMIX performed for the crowd. The weather was great, the surroundings beautiful, and the atmosphere lively. People were laughing, snapping photos of each other in the costumes they wore for the race, enjoying the music, and showing love for ZUMIX and their neighbors and friends.

Lucia and Rayza, a 9th-grade ZUMIX Radio DJ, walked us up the street just a few blocks to the beautifully converted firehouse that ZUMIX calls home. There we were given a tour of the incredible facility within. ZUMIX has spaces for kids to learn and practice all kinds of musical instruments, from piano to drumline to horns to beats. They have a state-of-the-art production studio where program participants can record their music and learn to work the tech. The radio station is tucked away down in the basement, where there’s a board, a monitor, and a collection of mics for live interviews. On the walls of the classrooms and corridors, there are huge bright paintings of artists like Bob Dylan and Miles Davis. There are also group agreements from the music and production classes, written out in a young student’s handwriting. The space effuses their mission to build strong people and communities through art and creative expression.

After the tour, we sat down to discuss ideas, objectives, and potential projects for our co-design team. We’ll be focusing on the radio arm of ZUMIX’s operations; Lucia, the radio coordinator, has the following objectives:

  • Get more young people involved in ZUMIX Radio

  • Let folks in the East Boston community know about all of the local programming, produced by and for their neighbors, that ZUMIX Radio streams online daily

  • Integrate ZUMIX Radio with the other activities and programming that happens at the larger ZUMIX organization (eg. students taking technical production courses could record students

These will serve as overarching, directional goals. Some ideas we came up with to help us achieve these objectives include:

  • Portable old-fashioned radio

  • Portable sound booth

The old-fashioned radio could serve as a physical reminder of ZUMIX Radio on the second floor (where a lot of the music and tech classes happen, the administrative folks have their desks, and there’s a common hangout and kitchen space). It would be hooked up to a laptop that streams ZUMIX Radio, but the volume and other features are controlled by old-timey knobs and dials. It should be interactive so that kids are attracted to it; the whole point is to get them interested in and excited about radio.

The Portable Sound Booth could be used to collect and share stories from East Boston with East Boston and beyond. Lucia explained that the neighborhood is changing: gentrification is setting in, the outcome of the casino debate will have serious ramifications, and the large immigrant population has unique concerns that need to be addressed. The sound booth might be a way for residents to share their stories about the past and their hopes for the future. We should also remember to make it FUN! Kids, families, whomever…people can be silly, creative…whatever they like! We discussed building on an existing relationship that ZUMIX Radio has with an East Boston High media class as a way to reach out to young people and bring the booth to them. There are also a number of community organizations, churches, and public squares and parks where we could bring the booth to people. As you can imagine, we want to make sure the booth is as portable, appealing, and useful as possible. It should be light, have both private and public spaces, be able to both record and play audio, and should be visually captivating.

Potentially, the old-fashioned radio and the story booth could be combined. We think we’ll be able to reach out the Media Lab and other MIT sources to find some of the tools we’ll need for both of these projects. But in order to move forward with these ideas in the immediate future, our next steps include:

  • Asking Sasha about our budget!

  • Doing research on what others have done around story booths (portability, hardware, software, etc)

If you have questions, suggestions, or ideas, please leave a comment!

Civic Media Codesign Studio: Project Partner Pitches

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.

Continue reading

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!

Hi, I’m Nene

Hi everyone, I am Nene. My parents emigrated from Nigeria in the 80s and we moved around a bit before settling in Stone Mountain, GA. I moved to Cambridge for college at Harvard in 2005 and spent my summers as a youth worker running summer camps in Boston. I did some consulting work in D.C. right after I graduated in 2009 before I came running back to Boston. I’ve been a youth worker/organizer in the city for about 4 years now. I am also currently a Masters in City Planning student at MIT. I am interested in the intersection of “new/alternative” economic development, shifting culture/challenging dominant narratives, and [youth/multi-generational] organizing. I hope to eventually support young people in developing new economic and political institutions such as worker/housing cooperatives, credit unions, participatory budgeting etc. as part of community economic development and organizing strategies.

I think this course will build on my previous experience in participating in/designing collaborative processes, as well as teach me some multi-media skills I can use and pass on to others.

Hello, World! This is Qian.

Hello everyone!

My name is Qian, a senior in course 6-3 (Computer Science). My CS interests lie in systems and AI, and I have experience with web and mobile app development. I am hoping I will be able to apply my skills in this class. I am looking forward to working with community partners this semester to design something that will be beneficial. I am also looking forward to working with a diverse team with people across all majors because that is not something I get to do often in my course 6 classes.