Boston Activist Orgs Hackathon

(Note: This was written pre-meeting with the community partner(s). Will be updated with more accurate information later.)

We will be developing a spring hackathon in conjunction with a number of local activist networks in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Boston anti-highway protest of 1969, which successfully prevented the construction of a massive highway system that would have (and, to some degree, still did) destroy and uproot numerous Boston neighborhoods. In organizing this hackathon, we hope to connect many of the Boston-area organizations preserving activist history while honoring and celebrating the history of activism in the city.

This will encapsulate a number of events, including but not limited to public displays, intergenerational engagement, street-level interventions, and public engagement with archival materials. Footage from the 1969 protests will be lifted from several archives/special collections also involved in hackathon creation. (Many of the organizations will be drawing from this material.)

In developing this hackathon, we will be working directly alongside the community and making their needs the topmost priority. As each organization involved has different contributions to to make to the upcoming event, we imagine that the ultimate decisions will be community-led and controlled.

As we will be working with several organizations, ranging from oral history groups to archival film sources, each with their unique goals and desires, there will undoubtedly be moments where people may disagree over design decisions. In such a case, it will be necessary to facilitate discussion between these organizations and create compromise.

#RestoringRoots: Grow With Us Transmedia Campaign


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

Our case study (draft): / Our final presentation:


Loconomics x Co-Everything: Modeling an Online Marketplace for Co-ops and Freelancers


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.

Link to our final presentation: / Link to our Case Study:


Cero: Experiments in Marketing and Sales


Project Abstract: CERO, a cooperatively owned commercial composting company based in Dorchester, is now firmly in its second year of operation. After developing a unique business model and governance structure, and securing financing and its first few customers, CERO is now at the point where it needs to grow. From the beginning, CERO’s team was interested in focusing on marketing and sales for this design process. CERO is looking for ways to acquire more customers, and secure contracts more efficiently. Our design process collected information from a number of different actors that CERO interacts with regularly, to find different techniques that CERO could use to engage effectively with its potential customers. Our design process involved a number of experiments in sales and marketing, and resulted in a social media campaign aimed at emphasizing the environmental impacts of food waste, and the many benefits of composting. Additionally we used this social media campaign, as well as a new page on CERO’s website, to urge people to think about whether the food businesses they patronize compost and how they could demand better practices at the places where they spend their money.

Link to our final presentation:

Link to the case study:


Vida Verde: Streamlining Workflows

Emilie does uder testing of automatic quote widget at the coop Discotech

screenshots of price widget

During the spring semester of 2016, the MIT Collaborative Design Studio partnered with local worker-owned cooperatives to create civic media projects grounded in real-world community needs. Three MIT students partnered with a staff member from the Center for Civic Media at the MIT Media Lab to work with a staff member of a cooperative of Brazilian housecleaners called Vida Verde. Over the course of several months, we worked together to develop technology products to streamline the organization’s operations and communications.

More specifically, the goal of the project was to change some of Vida Verde’s systems in order to reduce the coordinator’s workload; to improve communication between the coordinator, cleaners, and clients; and to automate tedious steps of existing processes. While we briefly entertained the idea of creating a standalone product that would solve all of the coordination issues Vida Verde was facing, we ultimately elected to use a pre-developed, free platform Google Calendar to help coordinate cleaning schedules. We also developed an instant quote widget to ease the co-op’s coordinator’s workload in onboarding new clients.

The collaboration between Vida Verde and the MIT Codesign Studio eventually resulted in three projects: 1. an online price quote calculator for the Vida Verde website, 2. a new internal calendar system for scheduling cleanings, and 3. an upgrade to the cooperative’s website to make it more easily navigable and search engine optimized.

Here is a link to the final presentation slide deck: A detailed case study can be found here: