I regularly teach a course at MIT called the Collaborative Design Studio in Civic Media, or the Codesign Studio for short. This semester we focused on youth media, gentrification, and displacement in the Boston area; but we wanted to develop media projects that respond to the current political, cultural, economic, and environmental crisis with youth-led visions of a more just and creative future. To do so, we partnered with ZUMIX and The Urbano Project, two youth arts and media organizations in the Boston area, and NuVu Studio, an innovation school for middle and high school students in Cambridge. Young people from all three community organizations participated fully in the class and on design teams. Together, we interviewed youth activists all around the city who are fighting the negative effects of gentrification and displacement in their own communities. Read on to learn more about the projects, or check out the Codesign Studio site (codesign.mit.edu).
Open Book/Libro Abierto – atelier/co
Open Book/Libro Abierto is designed to be a versatile platform for community members to share their stories. The print medium allows users to interact with the book in a tactile way, physically making their mark on the story of their community. The book presents handwritten and printed words along with photos of community members, and offers viewers access to audio interviews via QR links. Our goal is to create a hackable book that invites viewers to share their stories and start conversations, responding in whatever medium they choose. The book will be exhibited in Urbano’s Nomadic Sculpture, where visitors will be able to read the stories and respond by writing directly in the book. We hope to foster productive and honest conversations about what displacement and community mean to the people of Egleston Square, both physically written in the book as well as verbally during and after the exhibition.
East Boston Voices – Peas in a Podcast
“East Boston Voices” is a podcast special centered around events of gentrification and displacement in East Boston. The mission of Peas in a Podcast is to unveil the hidden stories of the neighborhood to the greater Boston community, hopefully instigating change among East Boston’s residents. Each member of the group interviewed someone in the community who’s dealing with the effects of gentrification and displacement directly, compiling their stories and presenting their contents to the audience with added data and thought-provoking questions.
Displacement of residents is a growing problem in many communities in the Boston area. However, this crisis in the making remains mostly unknown, partially owing to the fact that those impacted are often low-income immigrants whose primary language is one other than English. To counter both the lack of attention as well as the anti-immigrant sentiment that buoys displacement, Homesticker proposes an interactive mobile installation that allows residents of neighborhoods to label locations that they consider to be their homes, giving a face to the victims of displacement and also demonstrating the problem’s magnitude.
Rainbow is a public installation that tells the stories of about Cambridge residents and their history with the area. The goal of the project to highlight important issues mainly gentrification in and around Central Square. Using audio recordings and photography, this installation will help the voices of people who live in the area to be heard and shed light on how universities and businesses are changing Central Square and making the low-income life increasingly difficult.