Monthly Archive for May, 2010

Dispatch Work: Participation and “Pointing” Urban Spaces

Graffitti in Babilônia favelaAs a mixed media artist, I’m always on the lookout for intriguing, clever, playful, whimsical ways of using ordinary materials to bring delight to the urban experience. A few recollections came to mind recently – principally as a result of a cool project I learned about during the annual MIT IDEAS Competition retreat I attended this week.

The project that got me thinking back to my days of RAOC (random acts of collage) is a “kite mapping” project that will engage youth in Brazil’s slums in surfacing the narratives of place where they live. The idea is one part arts engagement (cultivate narratives of place), a second part technical (use sophisticated technology to document narrative), another part advocacy (application of evidence to legitimize place). Of course, I’m crazy about using collage as a means for story-telling. Like Rauschenberg, I believe collage best replicates visually how we perceive the city.

I won’t go into more detail; you can learn more about “My City, My Future” (aka ArteRio) here. But here’s my point: an “owned” city space is a healthy city space.

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Love this CNN profile of Neil Gershenfeld and FabLabs

IDEAS2010 winners retreat reflections

IDEAS held its annual winners retreat May 25-26 at the always welcoming and excellent MIT Endicott House in Dedham. Over the course of two days, participants were asked to work with their team members and fellow winners to plan their next year of work, with an eye toward long-term impacts.

Although we didn’t get around to some of the more adventurous options like firewalking and gravity-less flight we had a great time interacting across discussions and activities like:

  • Project roadmap: plan the ultimate outcomes you envision for your project, and wrap around each the objectives, activities, resources, and timeline necessary to achieve those goals. Laura Sampath, International Development Initiative manager and Daphne Dhao, MIT alum and superstar IDEAS volunteer, led great discussions and workshops that privided practical tools for project planning, including a discussion of “Asking the right questions.”

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Winners of the 9th Annual MIT IDEAS Competition

Graduate students Aaron Zinman and Greg Elliott at the IDEAS Competition Project Display and Judging Session. Photo: Aditi Verma

Graduate students Aaron Zinman and Greg Elliott at the IDEAS Competition Project Display and Judging Session. Photo: Aditi Verma

The ninth annual MIT IDEAS Competition celebrated student achievement on Monday evening, May 3, at MIT’s Raymond and Maria Stata Center. Seven student teams received IDEAS awards to implement their projects over the next year. IDEAS — which stands for Innovation, Development, Enterprise, Action and Service — recognizes student teams that have developed outstanding projects that apply invention as a public service. Each award, funded by a corporate or individual sponsor, will enable a team to develop their prototype into a working solution in collaboration with community partners around the world.

The awards, presented by a selection of MIT staff and sponsors, went to the following teams:

Konbit was awarded the $8,000 IDEAS Award sponsored by the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education. Team members Greg Elliott and Aaron Zinman designed a service via phone, Short Message Service (SMS), and web that helps communities rebuild themselves after a crisis by indexing the skill sets of local residents, and allowing NGOs to find and employ them.

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