"There are two ways to be creative. One can sing and dance. Or one can create an environment in which singers and dancers can flourish"
— Jack Goldman

 

Most of the work I do is about supporting more than just my own creativity. For example, at Habibi Works, where I lived and worked for about 6 weeks Spring '18. They're a community makerspace for residents of refugee camps around Greece (mostly Katsikas Camp). See the piece I wrote about their work for Makezine.

A big part of my work was renovating the woodshop. And a big part of that was making new furniture.

 

They're made from about 60% reclaimed materials, and were co-designed with the other woodshop users. With another Habibi Works volunteer, I made the first, and then camp residents made the second. Along with some other smaller modifications (redoing PPE storage, materials storage, etc), we totally transformed the space, increasing and improving storage, freeing up floor space, increasing counter-top space, making some supplies lockable, and isolating others from saw dust. Since I took these photos / videos, we continued to label everything in Arabic, English, Farsi, and Kurdish.  I only wish I had taken "before" pictures ;)

I also worked to create a safer and more inclusive culture, and to elevate the quality of things made in the space. I got to be creative and use some power tools, but ultimately the goal was to facilitate many more people's creative work.

Years earlier, I led a couple similar projects at Wheaton College (MA). Most notably, I rebuilt the college's recording studio (which included identifying the need, scoping the project, securing funding, and designing and building furniture and recording workflows).

These provide physical examples of what I often try to accomplish more abstractly— creating space to facilitate collaboration, creativity, and innovation. 

I also created a "Change Lab" with Saba Mundlay and Wheaton's Roosevelt Institute. We designed it as a sort of makerspace for ideas, activism, and policy. It has totally modular furniture and myriad whiteboards, all done on a shoestring budget to give Wheaton students a space to workshop and collaborate on community projects.