Facilitating Societal Re-entry for Returning Citizens

5 Core Values:

  1. Transformative justice: Seeing people as humans first and foremost
  2. Reimagining inclusivity: Recognizing returning citizens’ place in society and actively creating space for them to rebuild lives
  3. Radical empowerment: Enabling individuals to reach their self-actualization
  4. Humility: Practice active listening, ask questions when in doubt, leave pride at the door
  5. Communities of compassion: Building allies to extend support to the re-entry process



A 3-day art installation held either in a park or a square along Mass Ave.

Aims of the installation:

  1. Humanize returning citizens by providing a platform for them to tell their stories
  2. Educate public on the struggles of re-entry


In my recent conversations with returning citizens, the topic of dehumanization has been a recurring theme. Many returning citizens have been subjected to dehumanizing practices whilst incarcerated and continue to feel “sub-human” in their re-entry process. Further, they talked about a sense of liberation that comes from sharing their personal re-entry stories. Co-designed with returning citizens, this installation is meant to reclaim their humanity by giving them a platform to share and talk about their re-entry struggles. Depending on the medium preferences of the individual, the installation can take the form of spoken word, visual art, and/or photography depicting their re-entry process.

My hope is that the installation can spark conversations and dismantle preconceived notions about returning citizens in the public sphere. This can then lead to the building of communities of compassion where the public can come alongside to support returning citizens, whether it means changing employment/housing/education policies or creating opportunities for them to succeed in self-actualization.


Designing a Convening

This convening is a mix of pitch competition and discussion workshop. The goal of the convening is to have people open up and share their thoughts and experiences regarding bullying. While this convening is not a direct solution to the problem, it will serve as the first step in understanding its graveness and how it impacts lives of individuals.

The 5 core values of this convening are:

  • We are respectful: We believe that everyone is worthy of respect and are respectful towards others and self.
  • We are open: We understand that everyone has different experiences regarding the same topic. We always listen and are ready to embrace opinions different from our own.
  • We are inclusive: We believe that diversity leads to a solution that is creative and just, a solution that does not exclude or disadvantage a certain group.
  • We believe that people can change people: We are optimistic that people have the power to change other people’s thoughts and beliefs, however slow and difficult the process may be.
  • We are community-driven: We believe in power of community in prevention and support. We aim to build such communities that will last beyond this event.


This convening includes diverse group of people: victims of bullying, their parents and family, people who have been part of bullying, people who have been bystanders, teachers, workers at help centers, therapists, police, lawmakers, and anyone invested in the topic. People can sign up to give a 1-5 minute pitch, where they can share personal experience, offer constructive criticism on how to improve current system, publicize available resources, etc.

As pitches take place, people can form breakout sessions at tables at the back and start discussion about a certain topic. For example, it might be a further Q&A with the speaker that just spoke, or inspired by the pitch, someone might start brainstorming new school policy to detect bullying early and respond to it. Each table will display their topic on the monitor and a list of ongoing breakout session topics will be available on screens along the wall in the main pitch session, so that interested people can come join.

There are rules for breakout sessions (ex. you must let a person finish speaking, no insults or derogatory comments), as well as moderators that ensure breakout sessions are held in a respectful manner. Moderators’ job is not to direct conversation, but make sure the rules for respect are kept and supply the group with materials needed for creative, collaborative process (ex. big paper to draw sketches on, iPads to create a shared document on).

Gender performativity // Queer cultures

– Something I’ve worked on:

I worked on a project to discuss gender performativity and queer cultures with communities in Brazil, that generated a music video from their experiences. The music video is composed in queer language/slangs, using stories co-written with the performers.

– What’s the full scope of the problem?

Gender and sexuality in Brazil are still a very taboo/problematic discussion, although there are several policy, cultural, artistic and governmental efforts. Brazil has a very high rate of violence toward queer people (specially trans/travesti people; see: http://www.refworld.org/docid/58736b5f4.html). Several projects have attempted to shift these norms, including the Museum of Sexual Diversity, in Sao Paulo, and several other smaller campaigns. Law projects have been passed that turn homophobia into a crime, for example, but these are still not enforced by the police and courts as they should.

– Who’s affected?

The queer community is very diverse, serving as an umbrella for various identifications. In the community we worked with, there were drag queens, drag kings, transgender, travestis (which mean a different thing in Portuguese than the English transvestite), lesbians, gays, non-binary, etc. Queer communities that suffer from social exclusion/economic inequality are even more affected.

– Who’s best positioned to address the problem?

We considered that it was important to bridge our queer community in the university environment (more priviledged economically) with a peripheric queer community of drag queens, who were already producing their own drag show. Their drag queen show was very successful in their neighborhood, but was not able to connect to other communities, e.g. in other neighbor cities. We decided to create a music video/documentary, using our expertise in audiovisual communication, while also looking at their/our experiences as queer people.

– What are predictable consequences of the proposed solution?

We expected that the video, when publicized, would draw attention, empower queer communities in the region/country and, by exposing some of the problems that affect these communities, raise consciousness about these problems. Unlike many other similar productions, we were focusing on a peripheric community of drag queens, and not on middle-class gay communities of the big cities. This, we believed, would bring more diversity and voices to the discussion. One of the more direct outcomes we predicted was that the drag queen performers would also be able to use the video in their show, but also as a way for them to get more performances.

– What were unpredictable consequences of the proposed solution?

In our production, we were naïve and did not account for some of the problematic of not having as diverse of a team as we could have. For example, although all the stories told in the music video were co-written with the drag queens/trans/travestis, the video production team was composed only of cisgendered people whos studied in the same university. This became problematic when the music video was presetned in video festivals, where it was questioned for not being as diverse as it could, specially considering its thematic.

On Values

We are putting forward just one value. Honesty. We strive to be honest about what we do. This means acknowledging our privileges, considering the impact of our decision, and owning the results.

Can an institution within our capitalist society survive if it is honest? Honesty eases the cognitive dissonance and denial that individuals within that institution face. Honesty may reveal weaknesses to the competition. It may also make it more difficult to make decisions internally that make our institution less competitive.

However, capitalist institutions today spend a lot of their resources on PR. The goal of PR is to twist or manufacture the truth, in order to achieve certain objectives. What if PR resources went elsewhere?

Consider Facebook’s values:

  1. Be Bold
  2. Focus on Impact
  3. Move Fast
  4. Be Open
  5. Build Social Value

These are PR. What would happen if instead facebook publicly acknowledged that its goal was to be profitable, and the best way to do that was to maximize its market share without destroying the planet (their market) in the process? It is not inconceivable that this kind of honesty would provide a competitive advantage. The public is fed up with the cognitive dissonance accelerated and delivered via the 21st century attention economy. Anger toward biased media outlets are one of very frustrations shared by the American right and the American left. Trump won on a platform of open racism, misogyny, and hatred directed at the liberal elite… as opposed to the deep cognitive dissonance offered by Clinton.

In the past, I’ve written about the music industry, and the desire to empower progressive musicians. Can musicians afford to be more honest than other businesses? Musicians sometimes use authenticity (or the perception of authenticity) to market themselves. Musicians are frequently criticized for “selling out.” Musicians are also frequently criticized peddling unfavorable messages. Think of Kanye West, Meghan Trainor, and countless others.

Many years of working with and for musicians has taught me that being a master musician with a powerful message is not enough sustain a career in music. In order to sustain a career in music, musicians also have to be skilled businesspeople — or collaborate with skilled business people. Consider these honest statements from music or music industry professionals that we usually don’t hear:

  • I want my voice to be heard by millions of people. I want to be famous.
  • I am part of the entertainment industry. My paycheck is dependent on my ability to entertain, and keep entertaining.
  • I am marketer of feelings.
  • Musical clickbait is a path to economic success. Clickbait is optimized for clicks, not for honesty.
  • Art will not save the planet.

So can we exist in a capitalist society as an honest institution for musicians? Maybe. Note that honesty does not imply full disclosure, or even “the full truth.” We can fulfill our personal value of honesty, while simultaneously not disclosing the motivations for every choice. This is a value itself. The honest way to describe it:

  • I will not engage with everyone who criticizes me.
  • I will not justify every choice that I make.
  • Some of my choices are not just.
  • Some of my actions are not consistent.

These sound pretty conservative. I do not know if this is a good position to take. I also do not know if this stance would be accepted by the public. However, I believe that most institutions in capitalist society roughly follow this logic internally, and spend a lot of energy concealing the internal reality from the public.

At the beginning I asked:

Can an institution within our capitalist society survive if it is honest?

My hypothesis is “Probably, although honesty may cause unsustainable public backlash.” Perhaps a deeper and more interesting question is:

Can an institution within our capitalist society survive it is honest and just? That is less clear.

Voters would like to but don’t know what the political parties stand for

All the feedback, evaluations and focus group work I have read as a digital project manager for the election coverage in Denmark points to one major conclusion: The voters are having a hard time distinguishing the political parties when looking at what they actually want to change. Thus their choice ends up being based on superficial reasons like tradition, likeability etc. We need to change that.

I propose doing it by keeping to the the following values:

  • Citizenship because taking part in democracy is the essence of what this project aims to achieve.
  • Independence because democracy in its essence contains a multitude of opinions. For this to work it has to be non-partisan.
  • Fairness because objectivity is an unattainable goal, but fairness shouldn’t be.
  • Empathetic Listening because both the political parties, the media and the government institutions has long been criticized for not listening.
  • Openness is related to fairness. We need to explain how we got to out conclusions.

The event

The event weeklong event is funded by people with deep pockets and an avid interest in support civic society. The participants would be politicians, teachers, academics, engineers, people form news and advertisement, but most importantly: Plenty of the most affected voters, as in not the politically active people that has probably already made up their minds.

First, they share world views and experiences. Especially the voters with the issue. Then the other professions chime in.

Then, they split into team that want to attack the issue from different directions. The teams are made up with relevant people to make them able to make their solution into a semi workable prototype within the week.

During the week the teams discuss, iterate and test their ideas.

In the end they all present and the most promising of the proposals are funded for further work.

Asylum services

Asylum services are extremely lengthy, frustrating and adding to the hardship of asylum-seekers that are trying to re-build their life. Part of the problem is that asylum services are overwhelmed with more demands than they are equipped to handle. We are looking to shorten processing times using data analysis and inference.

Brainstorm 5 core values:

  • (more) Justice through Transparency (i.e. in the decision-making chain)
  • Consider negative impact (i.e. consider access/marginalization when thinking about digitalization of public services)
  • Rethink representations (all the more important as representations are heavily present in immigration/asylum topics)
  • Co-design and dialogue with every individual / stakeholder involved in the asylum process, from asylum seekers to judges making asylum judgements.
  • Shape alternative future


A 1-day consultation with every stakeholder involved in the asylum process (in Brazil)

Goal: based a on draft [ongoing], consolidate a holistic map of the asylum process in the country. The objective is to identify bottlenecks and assess feasibility of solutions.

Who: 1-2 asylum seeker (waiting for decision), 1-2 refugees (accepted as refugees), 1-2 officials involved in registration of asylum request, 1-2 ‘Eligibility officials’ (interviews, analysis), 1-2 officials in the decision committee, 1-2 representatives from UNHCR

Where: São Paulo, in offices of asylum services (needs to be perceived as an ‘official’ effort, but still be accessible to all – will need to provide commute support for refugees).

The Ultimate Gerrymandering Hackathon

The core values with which I’d like to work are really centered around creating an atmosphere for creativity that’s grounded in logical, reasoned thinking. The issues I talked about in my previous post (Gerrymandering, Net Neutrality, and Mass Shootings) are difficult problems that require thinking outside the box if we’re going to solve them. However, there’s also been a cloud of misinformation about the topics in today’s political climate, and therefore ensuring that any solution is grounded in data and facts as much as possible is critical.


  1. Data Driven – solutions should be based in some background data that indicates why this may be a potential answer to the problem (in the space of all other answers, why did you choose this one?)
  2. Brainstorm in bulk – the first ideas we come up with are always the most generic, and the further we push the boundary the more original we become. Don’t just choose the first idea, but push until you can’t come up with any more.
  3. Create with a world view – understand that what you’re doing is rarely concentrated to one country or type of person. If you’re creating something that’s only accessible or applicable to a small population, ensure that it’s a conscious choice not an accidental one.
  4. Understand the ripple effects – think about how your actions affect people or areas 2 and 3 levels away from your immediate audience. For example, think about the environmental effects, or how it may affect your user’s family and friends, etc.
  5. Implementable – ideas should be grounded in the idea that the end goal is to implement them and create meaningful change. Ideas that are impactful but impossible to bring to fruition are not particularly useful.


Gerrymandering is a problem that still doesn’t have a clear solution as the Supreme Court has decided that they will not rule on the issue until a clear metric is established that can judge whether a state is unfairly gerrymandered or not. My ideal gathering to try to solve this issue would be a kickoff hackathon, but one that has a continuing component to it (to really hit on the implementable point). While hackathons are great, the vast majority of ideas coming out do not actually move forward in any meaningful way. Therefore, my ideal order of operations would be:

Day 1: Conference like structure where experts from the area (statisticians, politicians, political scientists) come together to lay a factbase on the attendees. The point is to get everyone in the room, no matter the background, to work off an even ground of facts and data before they start brainstorming solutions.

Day 2: Teams are formed from across disciplines. Hopefully this would have been taken care of in the signup phase where there are a limited number of spots for each role, but teams would have a mix of people from politics, business, statistics, and engineering to come up with a solution. Then, they would have the full day to converge on an idea but spend a minimum of 5 hours brainstorming solutions first with no discussion on viability or feasibility. After that, they would start prioritizing and converging on a solution by the end of the day (no deadline though, they can have as much time as they need).

Day 3: The teams workshop their idea with experts from the field. There are stations set up (sort of like a fair) for different types of experts and the teams can go around and consult them to workshop their idea. By the end of the day, they need to come up with an implementation plan to test out their idea at a small scale, including what metrics they want to capture to understand how well the solution worked. At the end of the day, the teams all present to get funding to implement their idea, but the prizes have a stipulation that the team must actually implement the idea and work with the organizing team to be accountable for the implementation.

Making Values Real

When designing, I would like to maintain these five values:

  1. Understanding – All participants and designers work to fully understand the extent and nuances of the problem being solved. This core value should exceed empathizing with individuals — still an important step — by understanding the larger systems at play that influence this problem space and communities within.
  2. Inclusion and Collaboration – Design should not be a privilege or have a barrier of entry. I believe in designing with meaning that everyone should be represented at the table. Similar to EquityXDesign’s value of radical inclusion, I want to recognize those traditionally removed from the process. I would like to maintain the thoughts of designing at the margins and ceding power.
  3. Accountability, Critiques and Growth – When creating, designers should always maintain accountability for their decisions and outputs and be willing to re-design, bring to light to rein in negative externalities. In order to do so, self-critique is an essential part to ask the questions: Does design solve this problem? What parts of my solution do I think are good/bad? Who has been included? Am I solving the right problem? Is my scope correct? What could go wrong? These critiques will keep people accountable throughout the process and require growth to maintain.
  4. Remove constraints – Throughout the design process, I would want people to remove some of the traditional constraints of design during the ideation phase such that they don’t limit themselves in  creativity. This means challenge what may be industry norms, imagine what you could create if profit wasn’t an issue. The goal is to ask what would we create or do such that our output is right and just. Remove what constraints are in the way of solving for what is just and right, and see what solutions arise.
  5. Support – Designing for social issues is hard. We often get it wrong. Systems are hard to change. The work can be physically, mentally and emotionally tiring. For that reason, we should support each other through the process. Critique with love. Offer help. Be present for each other.

These ideals would be present at a hackathon surrounding climate change, particularly looking at how do we make urban spaces healthier for residents and the world. This event would be in collaboration with architects, scientist, engineers and community residents to start with inclusion. The initial portion of the event should be information sharing across all parties to get to understanding. Architects should share how architecture influence climate within urban environments, what problems they see now. Scientists and engineers should discuss what technology we have ready to use, the science behind climate change within urban environments. The residents would be asked to share what challenges they see from a day to day and how it impacts their live, including food deserts, high temperature, clean air/water/soil, the political climate, etc. Hopefully, this would generate a comprehensive view for all participants and begin building a community where support can be given. From there, they would go through the usual design steps keeping the aforementioned values in mind. I would add two steps to the design process. 1) Post ideation should be a critical check background to ask: Are we actually answering the question we sought to? How? Are we asking the right question? Who has been included? Who are we missing? 2) Post Prototyping there would be a stage to ask: how do we stay accountable and responsible for what we just created? How do we make sure this idea continues past this hackathon?

Fake News Fiesta

Five Core Values for the Fake News Fiesta:

  1. No one is stupid. Maybe this seems to basic, but I don’t believe that it is. In order to begin to deal with this issue at all we need to break down barricades erected because of personal attacks. While not all facts are equal, all people are, and that is a very very important distinction to make.
  2. Diversity is good. This includes diversity in histories and diversity in beliefs, often (but not always) coming hand-in-hand. Diversity brings more representation, and more representation brings (messier but) more comprehensive news.
  3. Knowledge is power. News brings power to people. All people deserve the power to better themselves and their situation, and therefore all people deserve access to accurate news.
  4. Voluntary consensus is important. Without going to the extreme of a pluralistic news source, it is important to consider the agreement between news- and fact-determining agencies and the people who receive such news. Those forgotten and unrepresented will flip the channel. Yet, in the consensus also is the ability to make those hearing about themselves also hear about others, as through consensus we always get a bit of what we want and a bit of what everyone else wants.
  5. News is not always new. Often, “news” includes old things–century-old stereotypes revealing themselves, awareness of ecological damage that is already so far gone that there really is no going back. These facts are the hardest to deal with, and the most likely to unravel trust structures, as this information always has a sinister undertone to it–we have not told you this before, but does that mean that we were lying to you before? does it mean that we are lying to you now? New facts related to old things make us question what is true, because they show us so plainly how little we know about the world. They make us feel stupid, and that brings us back to point number 1.

How to throw a party to fight fake news.

First of all, there’s no way this could be solved with a party. But, maybe a really good party could help. The ideal party would gather people representative of various socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicities, orientations, education levels, professional occupations (or lack thereof), etcetera. Party-goers would need to recognize that personal experience is knowledge, and in personal experience all people are equal. Instead of creating a hack-a-thon or similar problem-solving environment, this party would be a place of sharing stories and creating trust. Maybe something like a slower version of speed dating. It would be hard to fight the hierarchies that are already so present in our society in the context of the simulated party, but my dream would be that people would be able to talk openly about their own experiences with news and facts, how these structures have helped them and also how they have failed. I think it would be in the failures that we learn the most, because I think that often a trust in news is not wholy about its veracity, but about it’s ability to create a better world.

So it could become a sort of story-telling party, centered around one-on-one interactions, with food and drinks to share. A fiesta! A small step in building diverse relationships that might extend to a broader trust in the community that exists around us, and a broader awareness of who must not be forgotten in that community.

Values, and a hackathon on housing


It was a wonderful exercise to name some values that I want to bring to my work. My current work falls far short of these values, but stating them can help me navigate towards them. I draw these values from two streams: the stated goals and values of the Christian faith (acknowledging that many Christians have acted in opposition to those values), and from aspects of many organizations and communities that I admire.


  • Incarnate. Don’t solve other people’s’ problems; get close enough that their problems become yours. Be vulnerable. “Nothing about without”
  • Seek just systems. Justice is more than “doing good”; it requires identifying oppression and fighting it. Identify how present reality emerges from both individual decisions (of both powerful and marginalized people) and the overlapping systems of culture, law, market, beliefs, habits, networks, environment, code, processes, etc. Think about how any proposed actions echo in all these systems.
  • Be humble and kind. Don’t assume. Listen. Admit bias. Identify what’s broken inside first. Don’t boast. Celebrate others. Be slow to diagnose and “fix”. Forgive. Treat better than you’re treated. Be slow to anger and blame.
  • Be transparent. Be honest. Share data and code.
  • Be grounded. Keep motivations connected with reality. Use evidence (both data and story) to make decisions. Ask questions.
  • Serve to empower, seek flourishing not dependence. Act in ways that increase the autonomy of the leats empowered. Humanize.


A Convening on Housing

Context: I’ve walked with friends through transitions both into and out of homelessness. I, the problem-solver, often wanted to find even a small set of problems to fix or blame, but the situations have been complex. But in the process I saw affordability and access as major practical barriers. In one friend’s attempt to return to housing after an eviction, he found that rents even in the “affordable” areas he was looking had skyrocketed. He encountered too many predators trying to scam needy and vulnerable people. And when he found options that were somehow both affordable and in reasonable condition, the landlords required a perfect rent payment history. Basically, you need to be housed in order to be housed. Meanwhile, “luxury” aspirational housing is going up all around the region.

So: let’s do a hackathon / policy summit on housing. Specific goal: loosen the connection between money/privilege and the right to housing that works. But since we’re incarnational, let’s do it not in elite spaces like the Media Lab, but in local community spaces like schools, churches, and homes in communities like Dorchester and East Boston that are facing cross-pressures of history and current investment. Since we’re kind and slow to blame, and seek to do nothing about without, let’s invite not only the policymakers, architects, and planners, or the housed and the homeless, but even the people we consider to be the “bad guys” — landlords, luxury condo developers, even Airbnb hosts (whom some blame for rising rents) — and find ways to not let them feel like the bad guys. Since we seek just systems, let’s invite everyone to share ways that current systems work for them, and ways that they hurt them. Since we want to be grounded, let’s center discussions around empirical numbers and data, but allow no data to go without a human story that either confirms or questions it. Since we seek to empower, let’s find ways to invite the people who come to the table with least power (e.g., homeless, tenants at risk of eviction) to take ownership — but since we want to be kind, we also need to challenge them to not just blame those in power. // The typical hackathon model can be very prideful: “we’re gonna solve this massive problem in a weekend.” Instead, what if the goal was to help us participants learn more about what makes the problem hard, and build relationships that can guide and empower our future, more deliberate actions? Making can still form a core element, both as a way to explore the challenges of the problem at hand (e.g., let’s make an interactive game that illustrates what’s hard about housing policy) and as a way of trying out how each participant’s skills and background might contribute.

Unlocking African Talent

The core values that I would like to bring to my work are:

  1. Inclusivity: I hope to bring together a diverse group of young talent from various regions in Africa. Inclusivity is not just bound to the participant selection criteria but also refers to an openness to bold ideas, changes or methods.
  2. Collaborative: Through creating a brave space for open collaboration among participants to enhance quality of ideas, inspire constructive feedback and build lasting relationships.
  3. Africa-focused: It’s my intention to base my work on nurturing and developing talent in Africa to spur a new generation of makers, scientists, researchers, innovators and change-makers who will use their skills to create a better future for the continent.
  4. Playful: Based on Mitch Resnick’s 4Ps of Creative Learning, my goal is to uphold the spirit of playful learning in my work. Especially through adopting non-instructionist approaches to education.
  5. Replicable: It’s important that my work is adaptable, well-structured and based on a sustainable model to create long-lasting impact.


I’m currently working on a 3-day, bootcamp that will be held in Nairobi, Kenya from 18th – 20th January 2019. This bootcamp is in collaboration with the Mekatilili Program, Foondi Workshops and the Technological Innovations for Inclusive Learning and Teaching (tiilt) Lab at Northwestern University. The aim of the gathering is to train African youth in 21st Century digital skills, build research capacity in Kenya, connect young people to international opportunities and to contribute to professional development of attendees.

In early December 2018, we shall be sending an open call via social media and other relevant platforms for applications. We aim to host 60 youth and the target audience is university students, makers, engineers, innovators and tech enthusiasts. In the spirit of inclusivity, we hope to attract, participants from diverse backgrounds and regions in Kenya.

We intend to re-design the traditional bootcamp model and create a playful, informative and collaborative gathering to facilitate sessions on human-centered design, the Internet of things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). In partnership with the tillt lab, participants, will have a unique opportunity to collaborate with peers and faculty at Northwestern University to co-design solutions with specific communities in Kenya based on two themes: accessibility and education.

On completion of the bootcamp, a select group of attendees will further their research in summer 2019 during an intensive, experiential design program to validate and implement findings. During this process, participants will work closely with mentors, community leaders and users to co-create appropriate technological solutions to actual challenges faced by marginalized communities.

Through this opportunity, these select participants, will be linked to graduate or job opportunities within Northwestern University thus creating a pathway for skills development and matching, exposing youth to global opportunities thereby unlocking innovation potential in the continent.



The unlivability of livable cities

5 core values: Understanding (the complexity of the issue), Insight (to or clarification of non-quantitative experiences of those affected), Fighting ableism (or ’one way of life in cities’), Inclusion, Tolerance.

The issue: In architecture, one of the tasks are to design spaces with certain functionalities that induce certain atmospheres through its spatial frame and social life. Choosing the infrastructure of a space is to embody the space with ideas of what that space should be. It is equivalent to pointing the kind of social life, which is to be lived there, in a certain direction.

Cities are competing with each other to have a high ’livability’ score – that is, being attractive to investments and tourists – which may guide investments in the direction of building cities that are ’lively’ in a specific way: We have seen an architectural as well as a policy-based bias towards to the young and cool population (and mostly towards sports where men are over-represented). The transformation of ‘boring’ or ‘non-utilized’ places into ‘lively’ places are the invisible exclusion of other (uncompetitive/economically uninteresting) groups. Whenever a public space is transformed into a fitness-scape, then older people, people with disabilities or people who simply enjoy tranquility have the risk of being pushed out of their public spaces and into their private ones. ‘Livable’ public spaces in cities then become unlivable for some.

Convening: This convening should be a Furphy Competition/Festival/Slam. A furphy is a story-telling discipline that allows for untruthfulness and absurdity while conveying true and thoughtful thinking. Unlike a poetry-slam which arguably dictates certain forms (and perhaps certain codes of conduct), furphies allow to use any form. Furphies may be funny, sad or serious, play with irony or deep skepticism (therefore, these stories should offer a platform of getting an understanding of the issue (first value)). They offer a valve for many emotions accompanied with the protective distance of fiction. They may present real-world characters with certain agencies within certain story frames that allow for conveying the true absurdities of everyday experience. It is this experience of living in cities where people are excluded that we need (from many perspectives incl. the excluded), and telling untrue true stories is a way to convey such quite non-quantitative information/life-experiences (thus offering insight, second value and fighting ableism, third value).

This event should be held (perhaps several times) in a public park. The best furphies should be published in a freely distributed magazine having high visibility. At this event, there is an audience and storytellers. The audience could rank the best, most thoughtful, or funniest stories. Storytellers should not necessarily be professional speakers, but could be anyone, and high inclusion is encouraged (esp. since everyone is able to tell a sensical nonsense story) (inclusion, fourth value). The premise for the event is the above pitch concerning livable cities. Therefore, it is important to have a broad range of players in on this event: investors, city planners, young people and excluded populations. Esp. the excluded should be able to tell stories (thus offering the fifth value, tolerance, by design). In this way, the communities in concern receive a voice that does not come in the tone of formality vis-à-vis policy procedures.

Assignment #5

My Core Values:

THE “RATATOUILLE” PRINCIPLE: a good idea can come from anywhere.

(Forgive my reference to the Disney movie if you haven’t seen it) The movie’s fictive famous chef died asserted the idea that “anyone can cook” and was met with skepticism from those who felt “well, everyone can cook, but should everyone?” At the end, the revelatory moment is found in this quotation:

Not everyone can become a great artist; but a great artist can come from anywhere.

There’s a lot to be learned in the design world from this. I spent the summer looking at how a major tech company does participatory design. The higher-ups often were dismayed at the results, realizing that with a small N, most of the ideas people came up with were either not feasible or didn’t make sense as solutions.

It’s true that not everyone will have “good” (effective, feasible, desirable) ideas. But that doesn’t mean we should shut down and never listen to others. While not everything is a good idea, we need to remember that a good idea can come from anywhere.  This means that part of your job as a designer or leader is to ways to unlock the genius in others and allow it a platform for expression, so the best ideas are celebrated, not the mouths that those ideas come from.

HUMILITY IS THE KEY TO TRUE LEADERSHIP: True genius and success emerge from networks, not from individuals.

I believe that success never comes from one person by themselves, it emerges through networks of people and how they interact with each other. America praises the individual, the founder, the CEO, the writer, the inventor, the risktaker, as this sort of singular nexus of brilliance and achievement. But I think that model is wrong.

I believe that there are no “geniuses”—rather, everyone has genius in them. I am not alone in thinking this.

If this is true, then we need to have a model for successful implementation (which often necessitates a sort of “authority” who acts) that still successfully celebrates and incorporate the genius of others in it. I believe that this is where humility comes in and remembering that positions of authority are first and foremost opportunities to serve others. Take for example the brilliant researcher and writer behind Godel Escher Bach, Douglas Hofstadter, who begins a book by acknowledging how his authorial genius is indebted largely to all of the individuals in his life:

The many friends [I am connected to] form a “cloud” in which I float; sometimes I think of them as the “metropolitan area” of which I, construed narrowly, am just the zone inside the official city limits.

HEART-CENTERED RATIONALISM: Make decisions that are balanced with both heart and mind

In pop culture, we tend to cleave matters of the heart and matters of the head from each other, insisting that one is emotional and the other is rational. Even the structures of our personality tests—meant to classify and inform individuals of themselves and their values—separate the way of the heart from the way of the head. For example, the Myers Briggs test allows your personality type to have either a heart-centered approach or a logic-centered approach. But are these two modes of being actually fundamentally opposed to each other?

I have not researched this (read: this is an opinion) but I wonder if this cleaving of heart from mind has to do with gender roles, gender education, and gender norms. If what I said is true, it would imply that the “male-normative” role of leader, as a constitutive fact of its founding, rejects matters of the heart as unimportant.

In my value system, matters of the heart are also matters of the mind. To leaders, these should and must be indistinguishable. We should therefore act rationally on matters of the heart, and act with the heart on matters of the mind. They are not separate. To reference Bruno Latour, we need to go beyond matters of fact and instead attend to “matters of concern.”

DON’T FORGET THE BODY: while it is attempting to attack “the system” or “the man” we can only view the system through materiality.

Our bodies situate us in space and time: our bodies are what situate us within abstractions like institutions,  ideologies, and power structures. While it is tempting to just analyze the abstract system or statistics that compress materiality down so it can be more easily understood, we need to recontextualize what we know as being produced by specific bodies in specific places.

As bodies, we are inseparable from materiality. This is what connects us to histories of oppression, migration, power, and privilege. Privileged bodies forget their privilege because privilege is the ability to not have to “realize” that a door is open for you that is closed for others. When you do fieldwork or ethnography or interviews, you bring your body with you. This principle seeks to be aware of the body and how it may affect design research and practice.: for example, are the questions you’re asking and the site in which you’re asking them going to enable truth and honesty? Think for example the brilliant rhetorical move of the specialist who interviewed Blaisey Ford: this specialist used the opportunity to show how the site (the massive, televised, 5-minute structured government hearing) in which her testimony transpired stacks the odds against her and increases the likelihood of her failure to present evidence in a manner that will expose the truth if it is she who possesses it.

BEWARE THE TOTALIZING FORCE OF NARRATIVES: because we all can be unreliable narrators,  we need to ask others to “read” our work for us.

If being an English major has taught me anything, it’s the concept of the ‘unreliable narrator’. Making products involves narratives.  If you can’t see what I mean, study the pitch for a startup: the narrator first presents the problem then articulates a solution. What is chosen as the ingredients of the problem is a choice made by the narrator. The logic of the solution comes from how this problem is set up.

Humans are all fallible narrators because our brains are not built to function in isolation. Everyone has blind spots. Therefore, it’s important to surround yourself with people who will critically examine your work and the story you are telling. Have people read to see how you might be unreliable as a narrator!


Designing a Convening for the Rape Crisis

**note, I am focusing my response on cis-female-identifying assault victims, but I recognize and send my love to male assault victims. In a perfect world, I’d work with a cis-gender male and others of different gender expressions to make sure the platform is applicable to all**

In the wake of the FBI investigation and what ended up happening with Kavanaugh… I have to chose to design around this one. I’d want to design an intervention in which  survivors of sexual assault at young ages (like high school) would be able to converge and express their experiences through creative writing, art, poetry, and storytelling… and then this work would be turned into a platform used to educate high school men about rape culture, the fallacy of the “boys will be boys” argument, and help men to empathize with the young women that they traumatize. It would both provide a safe space for assault survivors to tell their stories and create a community of support… but then it would also be a way to use those personal stories to catalyze real change. In terms of location, it may make sense to do it online as an internet movement because everyone could be in a special location that is safe for them and easily toggle in and out of participation as they needed. The classroom for the men would obviously need to take place at schools across the country, where the structures of authority can ensure that they take the material seriously and their full comprehension is being assessed at each stage.


A Housing Crisis Hackathon

I would like to bring the following 5 core values to my work:

Diversity and inclusion – I believe that the best solutions come from a variety of backgrounds and viewpoints. I also know that a wide set of expertise is needed to tackle tough issues.

Collaboration – In order to develop the best solutions, there must be collaboration with the people whom I’d like to help. Open dialogue with the various stakeholders will ensure that the core problem is well understood and properly solved.

Drive to bring about positive change – There are a number of ways to improve the world and I strive to do what I can to help bring about that change.

Humility – I believe that I alone cannot bring about the change I want to see. I also know that my ideas will not always be the best ones and that I am not an expert in everything.

Problem solving – The ultimate goal is to solve problems. I will strive to push myself and others in order to do this through creative collaboration and knowledge exploration.


For my convening, I would like to design a hackathon that focuses on solutions for the housing crisis in the United States. The hackathon will consist of a variety of people from across the world. This ensures that the solution would be applicable across the US and also allows for the opportunity to compare solutions with those used internationally. The hackathon will be held in a large urban center so that it is easy for people to travel to. In addition, many housing issues are prominent in large urban areas, so it will be easier for those familiar with the issue to attend.

The hackathon will begin with a forum that highlights the many faceted problems of the housing crisis. The forum will include a number of speakers including residents, landlords, legal experts, economists, and more. Hackathon participants will then be split into teams based on skill set. This will ensure that each hackathon group has the necessary set of skills to propose a viable solution. There will then be time for each group to work on a solution. After 1-2 days of building solutions, each team will present their solution to others. There will then be at least one day allotted for members of different teams to work together to integrate their solutions and share ideas. By continually combining different ideas and viewpoints, participants will be able to learn more from each other and also generate even better solutions.

An Authoritarian Passport

By Ezinne Uzo-Okoro, Nathan Payne, Jay Dev, and Shaurya Agarwal

A passport, simply defined, is a method of providing identification for each person in a political, geographic or community subdivision using a number of factors — visual, biometric and coded. It is a tool used by governments (a person/group of people who set guidelines for behavior in a given community of people) to track and control the movements of people who live under its purview. These forms of identification provide a record of where a person has been and where they may or may not travel.


In many ways the structure and function of passports issued by many governments on Earth (the United States included) already are inherently authoritarian. They allow or disallow citizens to travel across political subdivisions; they are used at border checkpoints to collect travel data that is kept and analyzed by governments; and they are issued in a number of categories that in some cases allow special travel privileges to some categories of people. Therefore, extending the foundational authoritarian functions of existing paper-based passports into a substantially more pronounced authoritarian function was not a challenging feat.


We imagined a number of enhancements an authoritarian government would install in a passport should the technology become available and scalable. Currently, passports tend to be issued upon request to citizens, who would like to travel outside their home countries. Passports are also issued voluntarily by governments to certain employees carrying out critical government missions. They store information on its holder, which is monitored both by issuing and foreign governments. Sometimes, the interests of governments are served by monitoring the movements of individuals, who inhabit our planet.


We imagine an authoritarian regime would require “passports” to be implanted in each citizen at birth. It would use the latest in microchip technology and corresponding skin-worn tags to monitor and identify each carrier. The chips would collect biometric, GPS and audio data on each person — information held to exert social control. The models of skin markers would be issued by socioeconomic class and for loyalty to the class in power.


Social controls wielded by such passports would include access to stores, restaurants, supply depots, etc. based on information carried on each chip, including health data, financial account information and loyalty determinations. A government that monitors health and financial information could disallow access to food or products it deems should not be obtained by each passport carrier. Passports no longer will simply control and track movements at borders, instead they will become a ubiquitous form of identification that control access to everything — housing, shops, restaurants, offices, social services, networks, class-designated bathrooms and government facilities.


We envision an authoritarian passports as a tool for policing, carrying remotely accessible identifying information, which could be viewed without consent of each carrier. Likewise, permissions and privileges granted by the government to its citizens could be altered or deleted remotely at any time without consent or knowledge of the carrier and with no mechanism for appeal.


The time we spent both thinking about distilling the current functions of passports and imagining how they would/could be used by an authoritarian regime provided a number of epiphanies. Clearly, passports serve many authoritarian functions already — mostly mechanisms for collecting data on and controlling movements of citizens. Yet, it was easy to imagine how a government not encumbered by protections provided by the documents that formed our republic could quickly install a number of significantly more intrusive controls using existing technologies.

Creating an Anarchist “Passport”

by Feroze Shah, Zaria Smalls, Maia Woluchem

A passport is a tangible, internationally accepted, physical document that serves multiple purposes for legal citizens of a ‘national entity’. Formally, it serves to provide identification, prove citizenship, enable access to state services and allow physical travel between recognized states. In order to function, it relies on an international regime of standardization and mutual recognition. The resulting processes that denote entry and exit from each port allow this physical document to also act as a tangible record of ones travel across state boundaries.

To obtain this document, one must petition their national entity and pay an associated cost. The national entity thus has exclusive power and authority to to enable or restrict access to all the privileges and rights a passport provides. This access is also not permanent. The document has an expiration date and a limited number of pages, which once exhausted, will result in the loss of all of its value. Additionally, the passport remains the property of one’s national entity even when physically with the user; it can unilaterally be revoked or cancelled at any time.

In some cases this physical document has different forms (e.g. Passport Cards in the US); however, not all forms give the same amount of access to privileges. Finally, depending on the issuing nation, some passports are more powerful as a symbol and provide more privileges and freedoms than others.

We began by trying to imagine what it meant for a world to have an Anarchist regime. We quickly settled on two distinct ways of thinking about this. The first was a world in which all countries were Anarchist. But a natural consequence of this line of thinking was that in a world in which no recognized central authorities existing, national borders were unlikely to function and the material justification of passports would largely be unnecessary. The second, more challenging, approach was to consider a world in which a state unilaterally declares itself to be Anarchist, but still functions within a larger world with other conventional nations. Most of our discussion ended up being focussed on this approach.

Our definition of an Anarchist state in this hypothetical was one in which no central authority akin to a government existed. Citizens self-organized to provide services to each other privately and laws were substituted by a norms and iterative expectations of self-interest. “Citizenship” did not have any meaning beyond being a resident of the same geographic vicinity as others. Where you were born or how you got there was not relevant, if you were present you were afforded all the “freedoms” as all other residents. Borders were not enforced, and were imposed by surrounding countries. As a result in-bound immigration was not restricted, and the requirements for outbound travel were entirely at the mercy of the destination country.

We then turned to a process of identifying the essential functions of a passport that now needed  to be substituted to be made to work in this setting, and to challenge assumptions of which of those functions would even be needed or relevant. Our fundamental challenge was that a passport in its present form, represents the very symbols of central power, authority and subservience of the “citizen” that Anarchy directly opposes. In the case of most internal requirements, such as identification and access to state services, the lack of a government or central authority made most of them redundant in the conventional sense. As there was no central guarantor of identity, most trust-based transactions would be dependent on personal relationships or informal, private networks of trust that would vary based on the use case.

The major problem to be solved was regarding how to manage the functions related to international travel. The passport serves as a de facto endorsement of a state. It can prove an individual’s origin and level of risk, and define the potential diplomatic consequences of how they are treated.  From our perspective, there was no “state” that could provide this endorsement by design so we would need to find alternatives that would placate the demands of other states to allow entry. We spent the majority of our discussion debating aspects of how this could work in a relatively realistic and feasible way. Although we did not have complete agreement on all aspects, we attempted to model the process of two already accepted aspects of the international travel regime; visa applications and enforced statelessness (which includes refugees and forced migrants).

We felt the fundamental concern from a “destination” country would be to meet the current standards of establishing trust, financial viability and risk assessment. As there was no central authority we believed that this would have to be maintained unilaterally by any “citizen” of the Anarchist state that wished to travel. This would effectively include a maintaining a running collection of private documents and endorsements (such as bank statements and pictorial proof of residence and familial linkages) that could then be provided over to any country that they wished to travel to. Social media history could also be used a proxy for a lot of the functions that are currently dependent on “official” documentation. In many cases the most stringent vetting processes (especially for those individuals that do not have official documentation such as refugees) already ask for the same measures of proof.

In working through this exercise, it became incredibly apparent that this solution begs a deeper understanding of the ecosystem in which this intervention lies. In our case, though an entirely Anarchist world with no need for passports would have been the easiest fix, the natural world has few analogs for this kind of universal understanding of any type of political or social schema. By focusing on our hypothetical Anarchist state, this exercise highlights the difficulty of any intervention interacting with a bigger, more complex world, with a different set of norms than our own. In the twenty minutes we used to complete this exercise, we dove deep into that difficulty, and came up a bit short in achieving a one-size-fits-all solution. But in doing so, we also got to experience both the pain and triumph of attempting an intervention of this scale in any reality, in our case an entirely stateless one.


Individualist Passport

We struggled to articulate the core tenets of individualism as an ideology. On the one hand, it was easy to see how individualism — carried to its logical conclusion — could result in anarchy. If the ultimate unit of power is the individual human, organized government institutions necessarily restrict the freedom of individuals. However, we settled on a modern Libertarian take on individualism, which views individuals as the basic unit of social analysis. While it still sees the state as a legitimate entity, it upholds the importance of individual rights. It argues individuals are ultimately responsible for the results of their actions.

We found that the current passport design emphasizes the passport holder’s country rather than the individual. For example, the front of a passport is an emblem of the country. The pages inside are filled with images and quotations representing the country. Even the idea of needing a passport to cross a man-made boundary exists because of countries. As individualists, we felt that the emphasis of the passport should be on the individual rather than his or her country. However, we also felt that we wanted to preserve the level of security that comes from using a passport.

Thus for our design, we chose to emphasize the individual rather than the country. We did this by deciding that a passport holder should be allowed to design his or her own passport. As long as the passport includes a standard set of information, such as a photograph, name and date of birth; and that it has a biometric chip, the user has freedom to the colors, quotations, etc. In addition, the individualistic passport design does not limit one to a book-like design. We did feel that there should likely be a size or weight limit so that passports are easily carried and scanned, but also did not want to be too prescriptive.

Individualist Amusement Park

Assignment: Write a brief reflection on the in-class design exercise. What are the politics you identified in the artifact your group worked on as it currently exists? How was the experience of explicitly translating the viewpoint you chose into an object? Include photos of your designs.

Group: Kenneth Arnold, Yusuf Ahmad, Abigail Choe, Julie Ricard

We started the reflection by brainstorming the lexical field of words associated with amusement park: adventure, fun, fear, screaming, stress, harm, extreme, entertainment, alternative reality, isolation, remoteness, fence, lines, curves, friends, family, restrictions, centralized, security etc. We started with words close to the etymology  of ‘amusement’ (from the French, “amuser”, to distract pleasantly / in a fun way), then identified that amusement parks were paradoxically associated with another range of emotions, more related to fear, screaming, stress and inflicted harm, which led us to think more holistically about the concept.

From the customer perspective, amusement parks are (supposed to be) an entertaining experience (as opposed to a consumption output oriented), shared with friends and families, triggering (extreme) emotions. It can also be described as a fenced and secured adventure: an alternative reality where you inflict yourself scares but knowing that you are actually safe. Security is actually at the core of the existence and survival of amusement parks. In that way, amusement parks  intrinsically require a strong and centralized management system that is easily identifiable (for liability purposes) but also that can provide customers with the guarantee that their adventure will be harm-free. Moreover, the amusement park business has high costs of entry, as investments to build a park are tremendous and amortizing those costs can take years. More likely, the business model leans towards a small number of (very rich) investors, rather than a multitude of small investors, reinforcing centralization.

Perhaps the most enlightening part of this experience was realizing the authoritarian politics deeply embedded in the nature of today’s amusement parks. If we were to attempt to design within the boundaries of the amusement park as it presently exists, we would be perpetuating that political perspective broadly even if our design work were to locally embody other perspectives. Instead, identifying these hidden assumptions opened up our thinking to alternative approaches to achieve similar goals. For example:

  • An overarching otherworldly “theme” or narrative is an allure of many of today’s amusement parks (especially Disney’s parks), but that benefit is achieved through experiences that are centrally designed, tightly controlled, and largely homogenous — essentially authoritarian. Could people enjoy temporarily living a different narrative while retaining their own freedom?
  • Many park-goers enjoy the ability to experience extreme sensations and emotions but with essentially ensured safety. Today’s parks achieve this experience by spatially manipulating park-goers’ bodies and putting them in physical spaces where sight, sound, and other senses can be controlled–again, essentially authoritarian. Could people enjoy feeling unsafe-but-actually-safe using technologies that don’t require so much control over their bodies?
  • The physical space of a park can evoke a sense of shared travel (to a distant park) and adventure (doing something together with others for a day). But in today’s parks, this space is centrally owned and managed. Could people experience this sense of shared travel and adventure in public spaces instead?

We understood individualism as optimizing for “freedom of action”; in particularly increasing opportunities for individual choice and self-reliance. This doesn’t mean mandating anti-social experiences – some may want to choose to have more social experiences. Instead, it implies removing constraints and enhancing both freedom from and freedom to do what an individual may choose to do.

We considered two approaches to redesigning an amusement park to enhance individual choice and self-reliance.

The first approach involved modifying existing rides. The social nature of amusement parks can constrain individuals. Some people enjoy thrills while others feel more scared, often leading members in a group to compromise by choosing specific types of rides or splitting up into smaller groups. In this kind of amusement park, each seat can be customized to have more cushion or a stronger safety belt. In addition, users have the option to wear an AR headset to alter the view to make the visual environment seem safer or more dangerous, depending on his or her personal preference.

Our second approach to (re)design examined how VR/AR/Mixed Reality might provide a remixable and customizable alternative to amusement parks. Current amusement parks require a lot of space and are usually located far away from residential areas. As a result, it is difficult for individuals with limited transportation or time to go to amusement parks. Moreover, physical parks have significant consequences for the environment (waste, energy needed, etc.). To minimize dependency on location and resources while keeping the thrill and adventure aspect, smaller, more modular amusement parks can be built in escape-the-room formats within urban spaces. This kind of park might not require more than a room, and could potentially actually be used in different spaces.

The focus of this approach would be a mixed reality platform that enables players to choose or design their desired theme, type of puzzles/challenges, and type and level of difficulty, with nearly any combination possible. Moreover, a player could choose to play alone or with others (in the same physical space or online players).

To be clear, the platform functions at two levels – the goggles would enable mixed reality adventure experiences – that apply similar principles of a theme park (fenced experience, safe, but can generate sense of thrill, adventure, of physical sensations), but further enable an individual to customize and create/design their experiences. The design/choice engine is somewhat inspired by Scratch and Glitch – platforms that lower the floors to creation, remixing of others ideas, and of playing with what others have built.

The platform also enables diverse kinds of participation: while many participants may choose to be those captive in the room, others might:

  • Design the themed environments, from scratch or remixing and extending existing ones
  • Design and implement new puzzles, again with the potential to remix
  • Interact with other participants as characters in the themed story, or as “DMs” for some kinds of worlds – if the other participants so choose, of course!

A Feminist Passport?!

The artifact that my group was assigned to was a passport. The first task was to try to explain what a passport is in simple terms and in a way that is easy to understand. The definition that we came up with was:

A passport is…

  • A piece of paper – a mini booklet – that signifies where on Earth I was born, what nation-state I belong to and the legal privileges that comes with it.
  • Every time you enter a new country, you get a stamp in the passport thus creating a track record of all travel.
  • A standardized picture of me is in it along with my fingerprints and signature.
  • It is the only thing that will make people believe who I am no matter where in the world I am.
  • It allows me to travel across country borders but some passports are better than others. Singapore is #1, USA and Denmark share #2 and Kenya #58. Afghanistan is the worst. I can update it to let me stay longer than usual.
  • I have to buy it from my local government but it expires after a certain number of years. Usually ten.


The next part of the exercise was to redesign our artifact from a feminist perspective. The experience was quite insightful. I realized that the knowledge I had on feminism was quite limited. While researching on the subject, I got to learn about the various feminist movements throughout history (I’ll break them down below):

  • First-wave feminism: It a period of feminist activity that occurred during the 19th and early 20th century throughout the Western world. It focused on legal issues, primarily on gaining the right to vote. (Wikipedia)
  • Second-wave feminism: It drew attention to a wider range of issues: sexuality, family, the workplace, reproductive rights, de facto inequalities, and official legal inequalities. (Wikipedia)
  • Third-wave feminism: Embraced individualism and diversity and sought to redefine what it meant to be a feminist. It saw the emergence of new feminist currents and theories, such as intersectionality, womanism (within black feminism), sex positivity, vegetarian ecofeminism, trans-feminism, and postmodern feminism. (Wikipedia)
  • Fourth-wave feminism: The focus of the fourth wave is justice for women and also opposition to sexual harassment and violence against women. Issues that fourth-wave feminists focus on include street and workplace harassment, campus sexual assault and rape culture. (Wikipedia)


As a group we decided to focus on fourth-wave feminism given its significance in today’s social climate. We then asked ourselves: how can the passport be used to curb sexual misconduct and harassment?

Drawing from research, we found that women are less likely to travel alone due to safety concerns. We agreed that an additional goal of our solution would be to empower women to have the freedom and independence to travel without any fear. To achieve this, it was proposed that in case of an emergency, it was necessary to find a means to quickly alert local authorities and other emergency services.

Finally, we questioned whether or not a passport had to take the physical form of a booklet. Could a passport be a digital chip? What are the security concerns of transforming a passport to an electronic device? What are the variety of ways that the chip can be embedded in objects or attached to the human body?


From these insights, our solution is a wearable, digital passport that can be worn as a necklace or bracelet depending on a person’s preference.


Travel device that doubles up as a safety device – Calls emergency responders when triggered.

Information included in chip:

  • Emergency data i.e. contacts, blood type
  • GPS locator (can be switched on and off)


This new proposed passport would have the following features:

  • No gender at all (gender status is opt-in)
  • Nationality (or community – should be easier to obtain legal status is local issuer of the feminist passport)
  • No name policies. (You may choose as you like)
  • Age/date of birth (not included)


Overall, this experience emphasized Making by Making Strange (Genevieve Bell), by taking an ordinary object (like a passport) and reimagining it and its functionalities without any limitations. It also touched on  Do Artifacts Have Politics? (Langdon Winner), by demonstrating that through simple design alterations and features, people are able to politicize technology and other artifacts.

The exercise was done in under 20 minutes, therefore, the solution isn’t without its flaws. For me, the objective wasn’t necessarily how feasible the solution is but rather understanding the process and learning how as a designer, I can inadvertently create power imbalance through products that I create.