URBANO Update: PARTI Time.

Last Friday, our design team met again to review all of the brainstorming documents and decide what direction our team would take. We were drawing from URBANO’s current work, notes from our own conversations and brainstorming, as well as the thoughts and ideas provided from the Urbano Fellows. Two common elements emerged while reading through these sources: a physical installation/object that allows for interaction with the art and ideas that Urbano artists are wrestling with and a digital interface to display these interactions and data collected from the larger community.

Taking this inspiration, our design team will create the PARDI, or Participatory, ARtistic, Travelling Installation. From our Project Proposal:

The team will design a mobile, physical installation which Urbano can bring to different community sites sharing information about Urbano, current student work and works-in-progress, as well as allowing community members an opportunity to respond or contribute to current projects. The initial run of the PARTI will engage with the current theme of Emancipated City, but the platform will be content neutral so that the installation remains relevant as Urbano engages with new themes in future years. The PARTI will allow the larger community, and in particular other youth, to contribute to and engage with the work that Urbano artists are producing. It will be installed in recreation centers, libraries, high school art classrooms, and other youth-serving organizations to both share and collect information and inspiration.

The PARTI will be a self contained unit capable of displaying audio visual work on a screen, collect video, audio, picture, or other data from participants, as well as display data collected back to the participant. The project will also include a web presence (engaging with Urbano’s current social media infrastructure) to share its location as well as displaying the video, audio, and data being collected. This web presence will also be the visual interface for the PARTI itself, allowing the content to be easily updated by Urbano staff in the future. The visual design of the PARTI will be developed collaboratively between the design team and the Urbano Fellows, a group of long-time Urbano participants. The design will also be adaptable and updatable to continue to be relevant with future themes (such as having a portion that can be screen-printed on, but then washed away and reprinted with new graphics).

One of the elements that most excites me is the potential for collaboration with the Urbano Fellows group, the group of youth artists who have taken a leadership role within the organization. Finding ways to bring the skills brought by the members of the design team (both students and Urbano Staff) and the skills that these artists are engaging (screen printing? performance? more). I think that this collaboration will make sure that the object/installation which develops is exciting, engaging, and representative of Urbano’s culture.

Blog Post: Workshop with Urbano Fellows 10/11

On Friday, October 11th, our team visited Urbano for the second time. While Urbano classes are held Monday through Thursday, every Friday is reserved for Urbano fellows, or students who have worked with Urbano in the past and want to continue their involvement through leadership roles. This was our opportunity to ask Urbano’s most important constituents–their student leaders– what they would like to see result from our partnership. After engaging in initial brainstorm and dialogue with the group, Susannah from Urbano’s staff led the youth in a more structured brainstorming workshop, where students were asked to focus in on three final proposals.


While the workshop was happening, our team met with the rest of Urbano’s staff to build on the comments we’d heard from the youth. At the end of their workshop, Urbano fellows were asked to share reflections about the brainstorming workshop and this partnership with MIT. Combining their ideas with ours we came up with three ideal projects that we choose to work on. You can find the Urbano Project Proposal with three different project ideas here. Note that this is the first draft and it will be edited.

Urbano fellows’ perceptions are deeply insightful and a great resource for us as we continue to learn about and experience Urbano’s culture and work ethic. One takeaway is that in the future, we should work on building a more intentional relationship with the youth to break down assumptions and anxieties about working with people from “the ‘famous’ college named MIT,” as one fellow put it. Urbano staff were kind enough to share these reflections with us, and we have posted them here:


“Today we talked with students from MIT about ideas of ways that we can get people to know about Urbano. We started by having four main categories: Mobile Exhibition, Interactive/performative, Web/social media, and outreach. We then got into groups of about four people including one of the people from MIT. In our groups we brainstormed different ways that we could get people aware of Urbano. We wrote our ideas on sticky notes and placed them under one of the categories. Next we talked as a group about the ideas that each group came up with. Then our group (the Fellows) voted on the ideas we liked the best. We did this by putting a check on the post-its that we liked, up to as many as three. We then put the post-its with checks on them in smaller categories, and voted for our 1st, 2nd and 3rd choices. Lastly we picked our top 3 choices based on the amount of votes for each category got.”


“I found it very rewarding to have this day of ideas flowing among us. It felt like an empowering strengthening of the brain. (I feel like my time at Urbano is usually like that in general.) I am very excited to work with the MIT students. I feel like our collaboration will be a benefit to both the Fellows and the MIT class. Today we brainstormed ideas about how to inform the public about Urbano and what we do, but also get people thinking about this idea of the Emancipated City. We want to get the public’s feedback and opinions on what THEY desire Boston to be. Our ideas range from performance pieces to video installations to flyers posted all over the city. In collaboration with MIT, we can hopefully have the resources (i.e. materials, technology, etc.) to create these thought-provoking pieces. Somehow, we have to let people in power know what the public wants (perhaps by having installations set up in from of government offices or getting in touch with a government official, like the Secretary of State or such). I’m excited :)”


“Today we met with a group of students from MIT and discussed possible ideas for our collaboration project. After everyone introduced themselves and we discussed our goal, we broke into three groups to brainstorm ideas on post-it notes. We hang up our ideas on a wall under four catergories: mobile exhibition, interactive/performative, web/social media and outreach. Each group discussed their ideas and received feedback. Afterwards, we the fellows of the Urbano Project narrowed down our ideas to three choices with various processes. The topics we chose were performance, street media, and flyers. And we ended with reflections. The End.”


“Yo yo yo, so I had a lot of energy today coming into Urbano so when I found out that people form M.I.T. were coming i got kind of nervous. Never sure what we have to act like super professional or maybe even just our awkward selves. Once Susannah pulled out the hoodies I instantly felt calmer. Putting one on and finding many different fashions to wear it in. I relaxed joking around until the M.I.T. people came in. Once we started our brain storming I will admit that I had no idea what we were supposed to do. I didn’t one hundred percent realize what we were supposed to be brain storming so I was just randomly shouting things out until some one made sense of my ramblings. WE present the few ideas we came up with and we slowly put together new ideas. Finally when we had our top six I was really exited cause everything I wanted was there. That all go better when my top 3 were picked and we morphed everything together in one magically moment.”


“Partyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy whoot whoot We had the opportunity to work with the students of the “famous” college named MIT. This time spent in discussions gave really good results; this result includes: Today’s class was a huge brainstorm on how Urbano will collaborate with M.I.T. To do that, we put out seed ideas and voted on which of the said seed ideas were our favorites/were the most interesting. Eventually, the 30+ ideas were eventually ruled down to about 10, but divided into 3 categories: Performance, Flyers, Street Message in that order. Along side these ideas were 3 “sub-ideas” that we attempted and found a way to integrate into the primary three: Virtual, Video and Info. Each of the sub-ideas can be applied into the main ideas, however work is still being done to understand how to fully integrate those ideas. Overall, work was done in order to get the name “Urbano” in to the public, as well as the message that we want to convey.”


“I think this collaboration will work. I wish I could’ve heard THEIR idea’s though. We were the ones generating most of the ideas and they were mostly just taking notes and stuff. I like collaborating and making connections.”


“The MIT people came today and we spoke about their project as well as our project that relates to our theme “the emancipated city reimagining Boston”. We got into separate groups and brainstormed ideas that fit under four different categories: Mobile Exhibition, Interactive/performative, Web/social media, and out reach. We put sticky notes, went over every groups ideas then we checked our top three, put ones that weren’t checked to the side, and numbered our 1,2,3 choices. Grouped some together and tallied them up. Finally we picked our top three: Performance, Flyer, and Virtual App.”

More pictures from the workshop:

Urbano: Weekly Update

Despite our best efforts to find a common time when everyone was available, we weren’t able to meet as of the time this blog post is being written. As such, our team has been utilizing several googledocs as well as online chatting to discuss our MOU. In our discussions about decision making in particular, Peter proposed using the framework proposed by Seeds for Change, which ties in collaborative and participatory aspects, values that Urbano strives to promote as an organization.

Our MOU can be found here!