Archive for September 20th, 2011

September 20, 2011

Athena Llewellyn is my name

by athenallewellyn

I was born in a storm. Nothing went according to plan. It was supposed to be a home hippy pleasant birth to a bubbly baby boy to be named Josh. None of that. At the end of 36 hours of labor and 6 feet of snow, I arrived, a girl, nameless and fighting. After a week in the hospital, on the ride home, my mother realized, as they turned onto Llewellyn Avenue where they lived, this is Athena!  And so that’s my name: Athena Llewellyn. Sort of a global local mythological girl next door.

I grew with a Siddha Yoga Ashram under the spiritual guidance of Gurumayi, traveled the tofu trade show circuit as a child with my family’s entrepreneurial vision, Legume, the first company to go public with tofu in the country, then when Legume sold we spent our summers caravaning groups of young adults to the South of France for a month of communal living, festival hopping and art making. Last year I was living in Iceland immersing myself in the education of healing instruments. This summer I had artistic residencies in the Netherlands and Belgium with my nomadic bath house the Spa Ship, where I wash people’s hands in a crystal singing bowl.

Now I spend the majority of my time rallying the Creation Nation. Manifesting as “public art by the public”, the Creation Nation is a program of my family’s art and education foundation, the Barat Youth Initiative. We just completed the largest collaborative art piece in the history of Newark, including over 500 students in a 4 story Peace Mural to honor the Dalai Lama’s visit with the Newark Peace Summit in May. On October 23, we will celebrate the 4th annual art parade, officially dubbed the Creation Nation Art and Peace Parade. Here, we will gather thousands of students to march alongside artwork we have made with them over the years accompanied by the drums and horns of 4 full sized marching bands, we will march across the city reclaiming the public space as a shared space for the community and creative voice.

The creator lives in all. It’s just a question of waking up. That’s what I love about DIY, its an awakening of creative voice and personal agency. A rose by any other name would still be a rose. It is time to access our heart intelligence and create the world within which we want to live.

click here for the Creation Nation Website

September 20, 2011

The Silversmith’s Accolade

by alexandrakellyg

When I woke up this morning, I went through the list of MacArthur Genius Award recipients.  There are writers, scientists, historians, medical doctors and musicians.  There is only one fourth generation silversmith.  Ubaldo Vitali, 67 years-old from Maplewood, New Jersey, restores silver masterworks and fuses old with new to create original art.

Handmade Sterling Glass Modernist Tea Pot by Ubaldo Vitali

The way he synthesizes art history, art production and family tradition are quite powerful.  “My art comes from my mentors,” Vitali says. It is wonderful to see the MacArthur award be granted to someone who works with his hands and his mind, using physical materials to create and restore art.  And now, he has $500,000 to continue to create.  DIY well-rewarded.


September 20, 2011

Can Character Be Taught?

by Lily Antflick
Dominic Randolph is the headmaster of Riverdale, one of New York City’s most prestigious private schools. In a recent New York Times article, Randolph labels standardized tests as a “patently unfair system” due to the fact that they evaluate students merely based on IQ and in effect, miss out on several crucial elements which when compiled, often make up a successful human being. He believes the essential missing element in education is the cultivation of character, an aspect which so many schools fail to build upon because they are so concerned with GPA and standardized modes of evaluation. After collaborating with psychologist, Martin Seligman and David Levin, the co-founder of the KIPP network of charter schools, Randolph settled on 24 character strengths common to all cultures and eras such as bravery, citizenship, fairness, humor, zest, social intelligence, gratitude. Strengths which have been commonly proved to provide a reliable path toward a life that is not only happy but also fulfilling.Neither Levin nor Dominic Randolph had any idea of how to transform these psychological ideas into a practical program. They called upon Angela Duckworth, a graduate student in Positive Psychology at UPenn. Duckworth’s research found that the individuals who were most accomplished often combined a passion for a single goal with a strong commitment to achieve that goal. She calls this distinct quality, “grit.” She developed the ‘Grit Scale’ along with a test to measure levels of grit, where individuals rate themselves on 12 questions ranging from “I finish whatever I begin” to “I often set a goal but later choose to pursue a different one.” When tested in the real world, Duckworth found that it was highly predictive of success.Levin and Randolph asked Duckworth to use the new methods and tools she was developing to help them investigate the question of character at KIPP and Riverdale.
Levin and Randolph are now implementing these methods and tools to help promote character building in their schools. Their original list was eventually narrowed down to: zest, grit, self-control, social intelligence, gratitude, optimism and curiosity. From these traits, Levin and Randolph decided that students should not only receive a GPA but also a CPA, character point average.

What is occurring in character conversations and lessons are more about therapy than academic instruction or discipline. Specifically, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which involves using the conscious mind to understand and overcome unconscious fears and self-destructive habits. As the article states, “what kids need more than anything is a little hardship: some challenge, some deprivation that they can overcome, even if just to prove to themselves that they can.” Randolph explains how the problem with most Riverdale students is that they are immersed in an upper-middle class environment where they have a steady support system and will never really learn how to fail. He explains that, “the idea of building grit and building self-control is that you get that through failure…and in most highly academic environments in the United States, no one fails anything.”

When I read this article, I was struck with how progressive the idea of a CPA sounded and wondered why more schools don’t implement similar programs. Standardized tests measure a very singular portion of human intelligence and disregard the other multiple forms of intelligence which humans can encompass (interpersonal intelligence, musical intelligence, spatial intelligence etc.) Introducing character building programs into school curricula along with other academic subjects would provide a more balanced and well-rounded education. Plus, if Duckworth’s research proves correct, this type of character-building model will also result in more successful and virtuous students.
Surely, the KIPP character strategy still has some skeptics who wonder whether their methods are legitimate and raise questions such as, how does one define good character and wonder whether these traits can be taught in a classroom setting at all. Some parents may also take the CPA as a direct insult on their parenting styles.
My guess is that there are some universal human qualities which can in fact be translated into a classroom setting and reinforced to children, who will in turn gradually learn to value these traits and hopefully internalize these values and incorporate them into their own lives. This brings to mind Vygotsky’s notion of the ‘zone of proximal development’ and the influence of collaborative learning on one’s potential growth. It also echoes John Dewey’s conception of experience as resulting from an active process of trial and error. Most pertinent to our discussion on DIY educational practices, the character building program offers a unique and beneficial model for education, focusing not only on good grades but also on raising good people.

For more info and to see a copy of the KIPP Character Report Card, see here.

September 20, 2011

The Assignment Book by Luis Camnitzer

by czenyilu22

Hi everyone,

I’d like to invite you all to contribute to The Assignment Book []. It would be amazing if the website could be seeded by tomorrow evening’s opening. Per Christiane: “You can be ‘creative’ and your response to the conundrums or questions can take various forms — it doesn’t need to be text, it can be images or even links to outside materials that in some way ‘respond’ to the assignment”.

Here is an example of an assignment:

“Suggest geographic corrections to improve national wellbeing and explain.”

(photo by Luis Camnitzer) note: not all photos are uploaded, some may be changed

The Assignment Book: A Project by Luis Camnitzer

Sheila C. Johnson Design Center
Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries

September 21 – October 16, 2011

Curated by Christiane Paul and Trebor Scholz

In The Assignment Book, Luis Camnitzer presents unresolved conundrums and questions. The exhibition is intended to stimulate critical multidisciplinary thinking on the questions raised and prompt visitors to leave responses that serve as new stimuli for dialogue. Like the blog format, the exhibition offers a platform for the artist, curators, and visitors to enter into conversation as equal partners, thereby de-institutionalizing learning and challenging the traditional role of the artist/teacher.

The Assignment Book is organized as part of the MobilityShifts International Future of Learning Summit (The New School, October 10-16,2011).



September 20, 2011

New Media and Boal

by andrewjbowe

In Augusto Boal’s ‘revolutionary‘ text, “The Poetics of the Oppressed: Experiments with the People’s Theater in Peru” he explores strategies for literacy that extend beyond a linear pattern of language acquisition. This strategy entails: a multilingual consciousness, the use of non-traditional mediums for language acquisition and language consciousness (photography), as well as the exploration of organizing communities organically around language education and interactive theater.

Most specifically though Boal develops his framework and case study for the research of theater as a location that ignites a revolutionary shift away from the construction of the spectator/actor dichotomy. Moving past the passive location of sterility that the audience has become entranced within takes four key transformational steps: (1) knowing the body, (2) making the body expressive, (3) envisioning theater as language, (4) and imagining the theater as discourse.

Rather than outline the entirety of Boal’s argument, I would like to suggest a few ways in which Boal’s praxis of the theater and the camera might be updated in a modern media environment:

(1) The camera as the extension of the body (McLuhan): Knowing the ‘body’ (physical or a priori self) in a contemporary media environment is actually to know the objects with which an individual communicates their own existence. A camera as the extension of the eye, a theater as the extension of the body, the tripod as the extension of the arms.

It is in this sense that media literacy is to situate oneself in the contemporary media environment. To know to what extent a camera may shape or reshape the self or the society is to re-interact with language.

Media literacy, which is the multimodal use of language, is to reshape language or to add to language – languages. The more effective the body becomes in engaging all of its elements (totality of media spaces) the more sufficient the actor becomes in performing and transforming the spaces in which they interact.

(2) Using New Media to make the body expressive:  Once the extensions of the body are envisioned as elements of the body, rather than separate forms, one can take action in reshaping the forms of action that are possible.

One might begin to see the ‘affects’ of new technology (Deleuze) as forms of expression- the body might act to further transform the body or the range of total media spaces with which the body interacts.

(3) Envisioning media spaces as language: As Boal suggests, this language is moving and present and it is being shaped by those who are acting and building its momentum. To know language is not generally to grapple the structure, but to take part in the transformation that language produces.

For a multi-modal form of media, i.e. video or interactive social media technology, one might begin to see these spaces not plainly as entertainment (as marketed), but rather as devises that transform ones relationship to others.

(4) Discourse: In imagining the discourse of the contemporary media environment one must also look at ways in which the media produces, as medium, social organizational patterns without direct appeal to discourse. Discourse is medium, content, and their relationship to one another is another form of discourse.

In recognition of these forms of new relationships, one progressive media company ( – Danish), brought interactive new media workshops to children’s music communities in Kabul to help sprout new forms of media interaction (and agency). Communities that had formerly expressed music without engaging the multimodality of media expression were now being exposed to the extensive capacity of music to reach mass audiences and to enhance audience participation:

September 20, 2011

Spike Jonze Presents: Lil Buck and Yo-Yo Ma

by StefiaMadelyne

as Ariana quoted:

“…people tried speak with their bodies” (Boal p.131)

Lil Buck and Yo-Yo Ma

This is a beautiful example of what Ken Robinson defines as “people who have to move to think.”  Amazing.


“The other day, I was lucky enough to be at an event to bring the arts back into schools and got to see an amazing collaboration between Yo-Yo Ma and a young dancer in LA, Lil Buck. Someone who knows Yo-Yo Ma had seen Lil Buck on YouTube and put them together. The dancing is Lil Buck’s own creation and unlike anything I’ve seen. Hope you enjoy. –Spike Jonze”

September 20, 2011

Experiments in Letterpress

by StefiaMadelyne

@ The Arm ~ Williamsburg, Brooklyn


September 20, 2011

NYC 2.0 – Hackers

by Nick Brewer

Click Link for Video

I would highly encourage watching this video about hackers in NYC. They cover NYC Resistor, Makerbot, etc… The group tries to define what a hacker is along with a ton of other really interesting stuff. These are the types of places I hope the class can see at some point this semester.

September 20, 2011

Re-Mixed Image/Random Musings

by StefiaMadelyne


I took this photograph on Rivington Street in the East Village.  These stickers were (are still?) affixed to a run-down phone booth and the juxtapostition of “Watch Interact” with Ghandi (‘passive resistance’) wearing headphones… well it caught my eye.  For some reason this image completely sums up the concept of “re-mixed culture” for me and one could make a case that DIY is often just that – the re-mixing, or re-making of something into something else; the creative foresight and initiative to look at what might be and then go about re-creating it.  These stickers are a form of graffiti – inscriptions or advertisements:  someone is saying something to the world in a creative way and sometimes the effect is quite unintentional (which does not necessarily matter).  This is also an example of the taking of a space, in this case a rather archaic phone booth, and transforming it into something else.  This something else was then photographed by me.  I framed it, shot it using a specific app that would give me a desired effect, and then I shared it….  the cycle of cultural appropriation and re-appropriation.  How do we look at things and how do we change them and what does this do, either specifically or holistically?  How do we foster creativity as a natural mind-set – deschool ourselves out of the numbing rigidity and narrowed focus that educational and socio-cultural institutions have instilled in us?  How do we manifest in our lives the freedom and innovation that arises from generative thought?




September 20, 2011

64-A Vaudville of the Mind

by StefiaMadelyne

64-A Vaudville of the Mind:  A Theatre Project in New York, NY by Robert Prichard

(Tom posted this link to Facebook and I felt it was more than worthy of sharing here)


 “64” is a vaudeville of the mind.

There is nothing that we say, do or think that stands alone in isolation. Any one thing leads to an infinity of possibilities. Our production explores these connections. Like fire flies ideas blaze, wink out and reappear again in other contexts. We have created a dream and you are invited to join us.

“64” began with photographs from the New York Times, that Brooklyn artistJennilie Brewster cut out, pasted onto canvas and painted over and transformed.

Texas playwright Timothy Braun was then inspired to write 64 one page plays: one for each painting. Like life, they are nonlinear or as one of the characters says “short on plot and long on character.”

Surf Reality producer Rob Prichard took Braun’s 64 plays and molded them into a single production, “64.” The result is a collage of painting, theater, music, sounds, animations and video.

Every creative contribution in “64” is another voice in a continuing conversation. Nobody here stands alone. The unknown NY Times photographers are linked to the actors on stage. Everything is connected: the sad with the sweet, and the funny with the brutal; no rain means no rainbow, no mud no lotus flower.

Our creative team is an extremely talented posse of actors, musicians and media artists. Tom Tenney designed the soundscape and mixes it live on stage. We have original music and songs by A Brief View of The Hudson and also by Sean T. HanrattyAshleigh Nankivell created our awesome animations. Paul Jones is designing our lights. Alex Brook Lynn with your support will create a short film. Please visit the links to their sites.

Our  incredible cast is Jim Melloan, Steph Sabelli, Noel Dineen, Lori McNally, Jeff Dickenson, and Diane O’Debra.

“64” has been accepted into the 2nd Annual RE/Mixed Media Festival this Oct. 22nd at One Armed Red Theater in DUMBO Brooklyn NY. We seek finanancial assistance for rehearsal and transportation costs, theater rental, props, lighting design, a short film and publicity for the performance on the 22nd  and for an additional three performances at One Armed Red Theater this fall.

September 20, 2011

Thoughts on the Maker Faire

by Farah

Photos: woman weaving bracelets in the crafts area and a deer (moose?) head I assembled from laser cut cardboard pieces in the NYU/ITP tent. A few more photos here.

Like others have mentioned, there was so much going on at the Maker Faire that it was hard to pick and choose what to partake in. Since part of my interest in this class is to be more hands-on with DIY experiences, I decided to go in with an open mind and just be up for trying new things. Deb wrote a little bit about our experience with the free knitting class. We got a quick lesson from some hilarious, sassy older women who have been doing needlework for a long, long time. One of the main things I came away from that lesson and the Faire as a whole with is that whether you’re knitting, making your own biodiesel, or hacking electronics, DIY projects are a lot of fun, but they also require incredible patience, commitment, and practice.

I managed to cast on and knit a few rows of stitches under the guidance of my instructor Helen. In my opinion, my rows were looking a little shabby, but Helen had me stop after each one and say out loud, “Damn, I’m good!” before checking if I had made any mistakes. When learning a new skill with your hands, it’s frustrating when you’re trying really hard but can’t figure out how to release the muscle memory of something you’re used to doing, like typing or writing. Once you start getting the hang of it though and allow yourself enjoy the play of making something instead of approaching it solely as work, it becomes a lot easier. I think that Helen’s point about taking a moment to express confidence and pride in your work is something that applies to all forms of DIY. No matter the field, everyone was a beginner at some point, and you can’t move forward if you only focus on what you’ve done wrong.

It was also great to see so many kids and their parents there, especially with all we’ve been reading about early childhood development and education. However, while we were watching Mousetrap Live, Nitin made a good point that as diverse as the attendee demographics appeared to be, the one group that seemed to be missing were the families who actually live in the neighborhood. I tend to have this idealistic view of DIY as equal opportunity: people from all ages and walks of life can learn a new skill by doing. In reality, events like the Maker Faire can tend to attract a largely white, upper-middle class crowd unless the organizers make a conscious effort of reaching out to people outside of that demographic. That’s something I think we should be cognizant of as we continue to look at other DIY initiatives.

All in all, I’m glad to have gone to the Maker Faire and I look forward to more enriching DIY experiences!

September 20, 2011

The Use of Theatre For Change / Ismat Chughatai

by StefiaMadelyne

Mumbra’s women use theatre for change

Mumbra is a suburb of Mumbai that’s often in the news for the wrong reasons, located outside Mumbai it is notorious for its high crime rate and terrorist shootouts – An image that women from the community are trying to change through theatre. The words of writer Ismat Chughtai, written nearly 70 years ago continue to resonate in modern day Mumbra.

Ismat Chughtai

Ismat Chughtai (Urdu: عصمت چغتائی) (August 1915 – 24 October 1991) was an eminent Urdu writer, known for her indomitable spirit and a fierce feminist ideology. She was considered the grand dame of Urdu fiction, as one of the four pillars of modern Urdu short story, the other three being Saadat Hasan MantoKrishan Chander, and Rajinder Singh Bedi.  Her outspoken and controversial style of writing made her the passionate voice for the unheard, and she has become an inspiration for the younger generation of writers, readers and intellectuals.

September 20, 2011

Maker Faire

by rygielia

While I missed the Maker Fair, I did go to another sort of DIY Faire over the weekend that had a few interesting craftsmen and women present. It was my first experience going to the NY Renaissance Faire, or any Renaissance Faire for that matter,  but it was an interesting experience nonetheless.

On hand there were candle makers, hand-cast bell makers, blacksmiths and even a chap who makes his own pipes. The latter turned out to be more of an alternative-type smoke stall, but there were a few interesting hand-carved pipes intended for tobacco use;I have a few pictures I can post once I get than hang of this site.

In the meantime, for those of us who missed the Maker Faire, I came across this video from the BBC:

Looks like it was a blast.


September 20, 2011

Theatre of the Oppressed

by StefiaMadelyne

Augusto Boal and Theatre of the Oppressed in Rio De Janeiro Screener

Screener for Augusto Boal and Theatre of the Oppressed in Rio De Janeiro DVD available online at

A documentary by Ronaldo Morelos. Associate Producer Rod Wissler – Centre for Innovation in the Arts In 1994 Morelos spent 5 months in Rio de Janeiro, observing and documenting the work of Augusto Boal and the Centro de Teatro do Oprimido. It was the time of the Brazilian national elections. This time was also a year and a half into Boal’s term as a Vereador (Councilor) of the Legislative Chamber of the Municipality of Rio de Janeiro. This documentary chronicles that time, the words and the work of Boal and his collaborators. It is a record of the work of a theatre maestro undertaking a daring and difficult experiment in overtly melding the concerns of theatre, therapy and politics. An account of a theatre company that is elected into public office. It is a story from the world of Theatre of the Oppressed. 53 mins, English

Theatre of the Oppressed Workshop

A theatre workshop facilitated by La Cambalacha, Guatemala, as part of Globalfest Conference ’09. This took place in Millennium Hall, Cork on July 6th 2009.

India Matters: Theatre of the Oppressed

The play was born of the experience of 25 rural women in West Bengal who created it at a workshop. It depicts a woman who is treated as a commodity at the time of marriage. Later she faces violence and oppression by her husband.

September 20, 2011

Bio: ian rygiel

by rygielia

I was tempted to title this post, “am I doing it right?” but I figured I’d jump in head first and see what the aftermath looks like (besides, admitting I don’t have a handle on a particular piece of technology makes me feel too much like my parents).

Hi, I’m Ian.

I’ve had an interesting few years living through the recession and after losing my teaching job to cutbacks I’ve done what I could to make ends meet. I’ve been a day laborer, a private bartender, a writing tutor and a loader for UPS. On occasion I’ve gotten some video work for local bands and businesses, but for the most part nothing was steady. Luckily, I’m now teaching English at the Barack Obama Green Charter High School in N. Plainfield NJ, which has been a great fit for me. It’s my hope that I’ll pick up some interesting ideas from this course to incorporate into my classes this year.

Spare time is at a premium these days, but when I get some I enjoy brewing my own beer, writing and working on video projects. Hopefully when things settle down for me I’ll be able to brew up a special ale for the class.


September 20, 2011

FOOD FIGHT: Christine Zenyi Lu (bio)

by czenyilu22

DIY Fennel Crisps: Take a fennel bulb, shave it into thin slices (use a mandolin if you have one), drizzle it in olive oil and roast at 350 degrees. When the edges begin to turn brown and crisp, take it out and while it’s still hot drizzle with lemon, Parmesan, sea salt, and pepper.

Your house will smell like heaven and everyone will think you’re a genius.

As an undergrad, I studied English and film and moved to New York immediately after graduation. I’ve worked in documentary, the non-profit sector, and corporate television, as well as made elaborate prohibition-age cocktails behind the bar. Throughout it all, I was driven by my insatiable desire for fresh, quality ingredients and storytelling.

Smorgasburg is a perfect example of the food craze in Brooklyn. From rooftop farms, to urban beekeeping, pickling, kombucha/beer brewing, cheese/soap making, window farms, community gardens, seed bombing, foraging in Central Park, to vertical gardens – the list is virtually endless. If you can eat it, someone is making it. I love this. I want to document this with a new media project profiling people with good ideas who are changing the food industry.

Here is a Ted Talk by Britta Riley about a DIY initiative involving hydroponic gardens that she modeled after NASA.

By using a social media site, Britta is able to create an international community of over $18,000 people where testing each others ideas to create progress is more important than being the “idea guy”. She asks us to visit her website to rediscover “the power of citizens united and to declare that we are all still pioneers.” High-five!

The topic for TedxManhattan January 2012 is “Changing the Way We Eat” and I highly recommend checking out the videos from the 2011 talks (especially Brian Halweil “From New York to Africa: Why Food is Changing the World” & Cheryl Rogowski “Being a Family Farmer”). []

As inspired as I am by Britta Riley, I have to wonder if window farming is really going to change the problems of the food and agricultural industry. Can these DIY practices change policy? Is that there purpose? Is it enough that they are leading us towards more sustainable ways of eating and farming? What about the punk urban beekeepers neglecting their bees and was that tiny jar of honey really $15? Can there really be change in small steps, block by block?

At Maker Faire, I made seed bombs out of clay, dirt, and seeds to toss into vacant lots with Ioby (, which is like a Kickstarter for environmental projects. We decided that the answer to all the above questions is yes. Change is possible and happening all around us and the importance of keeping it local, positive, hopeful and visible.

How come the Arduino tent was 3x bigger than the sustainability tent? Did anyone try that enormous Paella?

Please send your food talk, food links, farmers, foragers and snacks my way!

DIY Paella Lovers Unite!

“Food is not the problem. Food is the solution.”~ Brian Halweil