Watch the video, then read this post by Alexis Hope, a research assistant in the Lifelong Kindergarten group, to learn more about her work at the Media Lab and her passions.
My research at the Media Lab focuses on how joy and play show up in design work for social change, and how we can bring people together across differences to imagine and co-create just and equitable futures. An example of this is my work with the “Make the Breast Pump Not Suck” project over the past six years, which started as a hackathon and has evolved into a series of gatherings at the intersection of technology, policy, and design. This work tends to be very collaborative and social. As you might imagine, things have really shifted over the past year, and the theme of my life right now seems to be “adaptation.” Instead of hosting an in-person gathering in May, our team is organizing a month-long virtual hackathon and festival called Feminist Future(s). The team and I are excited to open the application process soon and grateful to be able to welcome the broader US community—you can sign up for more information on our website!
Outside of research and design, my main passion is making music. Just over a decade ago, I started a band with my friends Matthew Longoria and Kabir Vermouth called Calico Beach Party, and we’ve been playing together ever since, even though we live on opposite sides of the country. The song in this video, “You Got Me Bad,” is one of the first songs we ever wrote together, and playing it helps me imagine the sweet times ahead when we can all gather again safely. I love that music connects us to other people even when we are far apart. A song is a conversation with others, a chance to see inside someone’s brain, and an opportunity to learn something new.
In my research group—Lifelong Kindergarten—we talk a lot about the four P’s of creative learning: Projects, Peers, Passion, and Play. Those elements are at the core of my approach to both research and my music. I love to sit for hours exploring the guitar and singing expressive melodies, playing with vocal effects, recording demos to share with my friends to see what they might add to a song, and challenging myself to listen to music deeply and differently to learn from it.
I’ve been writing lots of new songs over the past year, and I’m excited to share them soon!