Last month was March madness, and this month was anxiety April but. We are getting there, moving along step by step, month by month.
One will look back to look forward, so I wanted to share a bit about a project I did back in 2019 where I worked with Superhero Me, a ground-up inclusive arts movement. As part of an artist residency over 4 months, I worked with a class of children with multiple disabilities at Rainbow Centre, a social service agency. Together with a tech partner, we designed an eye-tracking programme where the children could make marks and draw with their eyes on a screen, empowering them to express themselves creatively despite their disabilities. The residency programme culminated in an inclusive arts festival in Rainbow Centre, where members of the public could watch the video of eye-drawing creatures made by the children and also try out the eye-tracking programme themselves. That was also the first time working with the special needs community during a period of personal life transition for me. It was also the same period when I hit max capacity physically and mentally. However, that project still remains my favourite and what I felt was my personal best (I shall unpack what that might imply about my work progression another time).
4 years to the day since the inclusive arts festival, I found myself back in rainbow centre again, this time co-leading a 3-day inclusive play workshop with Jordanian artist Ayah Younis. I never imagined that the project 4 years ago would lead to me standing in front of the hall in Rainbow Centre, mic in hand and hyping a group of 40 into doing a Jordanian dance as part of our icebreaker activity. It was an intense labour of love from a lean team trying to work long distance and across cultures with our collaborator and then planning a 3-day programme to ensure that it makes space for everyone, whether they are non-verbal, have limited mobility, struggle with sensory regulation or are just really shy. From visual schedules to cool down techniques to physical adaptations of games to include everyone with varying mobility, it took much more mental and emotional labour than I expected. I have taken for granted how inclusion feels so natural when done well, but that really comes with doing, trying and relearning.
It is projects like these that remind me of the reason why I love working with people and how much this quote from Marina Umaschi Bers rings true: “technology can be a vehicle to help people create and collaborate better, but at the end of the day, people need to learn how to work with people.”
Speaking of how life comes around, this issue marks 2 years of Radiococo Imagination Station! It started out as a birthday project with the aim to reflect and document consistently. This accountability has been helping, so thank you for sticking around in this tiny corner of the internet with me. I appreciate it! 💞
This month’s play-list:
This year’s birthday project: @catsofpicturebooks 🐈
Space elevator: a fun scrolling site