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MIT Community Energy Innovations Symposium Friday, May 2, 2014, 8:30 am - 6:00 pm, MIT Media Lab, 75 Amherst Street

Implementing Community-Based Economies with Jennifer Vanica Friday, April 11, 2014, 12:00-2:00 pm, Room 9-450A

Global Forum: From Ego- to Eco-System Economies: Creating Well-Being for All February 11-12, 2014. In-person on MIT Campus, registration required. Free live webcast at

The Lives Inside the Buildings October 24, 2013, 6:00 - 8:00 pm, Room 7-429

Info Session on IAP/Spring Workshop on Measuring Social and Economic Impact in Chile October 10, 2013, 3:00 pm, Room 9-417

CoLab Student Open House September 26, 2013, 12:30-2:00 pm, Room 9-417

Every year CoLab welcomes MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning students with a networking session. During the event, CoLab staff introduce themselves and tell students how they can get involved. Pizza will be served.

Class of 2013 Mel King Community Fellows Trip to Mondragon July 15-19, 2013. Mondragon, Spain.

Sustainable Development and Social Inclusion in the Innovation Economy May 20-24, 2013. Cambridge, Mass.

Professional development program co-hosted by MIT CoLab and the Presencing Institute for the Comfama organization of Medellin, Colombia.

Leveraging the Power of Anchor Institutions to Build Community Wealth: A Community Forum May 8, 2013. 4:00-6:00 p.m. Wong Auditorium, Building E51. Live Webcast at Live Twitter discussion at #anchorpower.

The Neighborhood's Story May 1, 2013. 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. MIT Media Lab, Room 15-525.

Discussion on the Tipped Minimum Wage Campaign with Saru Jayaraman April 30, 2013, 1:00-3:00 p.m., Killian Hall, Room 14W-111.

Discussion on Immigration Reform with Sofia Campos and Kent Wong April 11, 2013, 5:00-7:00 p.m., Room 4-149.

COLOMBIA, land of light: Documentary + Discussion with Santiago Escobar Jaramillo March 28, 5:00 - 6:30 pm.  Stella Room 7-338.

COLOMBIA, tierra de luz (land of light) consists of a series of symbolic acts of support for victims of violence and displacement in different parts of Colombia, through the media of photography and art. It is a voice that confronts the silence surrounding those who have been affected and marginalized by the armed conflict for more than half a century.

During the interventions, villagers and visitors expressed their thoughts and emotions through words, gestures and singing. The visual result of the artistic actions, celebrations and testimonials were documentary and interpretative photographs, also recorded on film, audio and video, all indispensable as vessels for memory and imagination. Join us for a viewing of a documentary film (28 min.) that compiles footage, images and sounds from the project, followed by a discussion with its author. View the event poster here.

About the author:
An architect from the National University of Colombia - Manizales, Santiago Escobar Jaramillo has a MA in Photography and Urban Cultures from Goldsmiths College, University of London. He has exhibited in more than 70 national and international group and solo exhibitions. He has photographed around the world for Villegas Editores, Revista Semana, UNHCR, MFO, ICIPE, CUCR-Goldsmiths, among others. Since November 2011, he runs workshops at the school of photography and cinema Zona Cinco. Currently, he is the author of COLOMBIA, land of light.

URBAN.Boston meeting at VietAID, Dorchester March 2, 2013. 11:00 am - 2:00 pm

In response to requests for greater networking opportunities with URBAN.Boston members, they have planned a 'cafe-style' event in coordination with the Vietnamese American Initiative for Development (Viet-AID) on Saturday, March 2nd from 11am-2pm. The event will include small group round tables where network members will have the opportunity to share ideas and plan possible research + action strategies around local issues they are interested in, including education, sustainable neighborhoods, and transportation, among others.

We hope URBAN.Boston network members from the community as well as researchers and graduate students from academic institutions will attend the event in order to work together on important issues in the Boston area. Additionally, please feel free to invite your colleagues and friends to participate. URBAN.Boston is a diverse group of researchers and community members who have expressed their enthusiasm for promoting research that contributes to community advancement and advances knowledge relevant to social justice concerns. This March 2nd meeting is part of a series of meetings with various community groups to expand the URBAN network. We are happy to collaborate with the Vietnamese American Initiative for Development (Viet-AID). Viet-AID’s mission is to build a strong Vietnamese community and a vibrant Fields Corner through promoting civic engagement and community building; developing affordable housing and commercial space; providing small business technical assistance and micro-enterprise development; and offering high quality child care services.

Details about the event as well as the RSVP information can be found on the attached flyer. If you have any questions regarding the event, please feel free to contact Perri Leviss or Monica Garlick, Graduate Assistants at

New Approaches to Social Science Research Discussion Group (And Their Implications for Doctoral Study in the Applied Social Sciences). Led by Larry Susskind, Ford Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning, DUSP. February 20, 2013, March 6, 2013, and March 20, 2013 from 12:00-2:00 p.m. Room 9-451. RSVP Required.

Substantial challenges have been raised over the past decade to traditional models and strategies of applied social research. These challenges go by many names including Phronesis (from Aristotle) and Participatory Action Research (PAR). Were we to take them seriously, our entire approach to doctoral study -- particularly the research methods we require students to learn -- would probably be overturned. Join the discussion, but read Bent Flyvbjerg's books (outlined below) before February 20th. They are available in paperback.

RSVP: Space is limited. Please RSVP to Jasmine Bellitti at or 617.253.3216.

FEBRUARY 20th: Discussion of Bent Flyvbjerg's Making Social Science Matter: Why Social Inquiry Fails and How it Can Succeed Again, Cambridge University Press, 2001

Making Social Science Matter presents a new approach to social science, including theoretical argument, methodological guidelines, and examples of practical application. Why has social science failed in attempts to emulate natural science and produce normal theory? Flyvbjerg argues that the strength of social science is in its rich, reflexive analysis of values and power, essential to the social and economic development of any society.

MARCH 6th: Discussion of Real Social Science: Applied Phronesis edited by Bent Flyvbjerg, Todd Landmann and Sanford Schram, Cambridge University Press, 2012


"Built on Flyvbjerg's commitment to social science that "matters", Flyvbjerg, Landman, and Schram's volume enriches the field with theoretical and methodological arguments and case studies extending and contending with each other in diverse locales and levels of social intervention. Anyone interested in socially-transformative social science will gain from it." Davydd J. Greenwood, Cornell University

"A splendid collection that demonstrates the possibilities of a social science praxis that is contextual, reflexive, normatively engaged and yet also well-theorized and powerfully illuminating. A bracing step toward social understanding that is not straight-jacketed by the nomothetic cannons of laboratory science." James C. Scott, Yale University

"This book and this mission are of utmost importance and urgency. Phronesis, only phronesis, can save social science. We have no other hope." Nassim N Taleb, NYU-Poly, author of The Black Swan

"What an important book! Bent Flyvbjerg and his collaborators have taken a decisive step forward in developing social scientific enquiries informed by an Aristotelian concept of phronesis .Their case studies disclose how much has remained invisible to other modes of enquiry." Alasdair MacIntyre, University of Notre Dame, Indiana

"A landmark book in phronetic social science, expanding creatively on Flyvbjerg's innovative ideas through further theoretical elaboration and, most important, exemplary and insightful empirical applications. Eight case studies concretize phronetic practice and open new paths for moving beyond static social scientism." Edward Soja, UCLA

March 20th: Participatory Action Research, Phronesis and Their Implications for Doctoral Study in the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning

Invited Guest: Professor John Forester, Department of City and Regional Planning, Cornell University

Discussion of Davydd Greenwood and Morten Levin, Introduction to Action Research: Social Research and Social Change, 2nd edition, Sage, 2006

Sponsored by MIT CoLab and URBAN. See the event poster here.

Sustainable and Equitable Neighborhood Revitalization: A parallel workshop between Boston and Madrid Symposium: January 17, 2013, 5:00-9:00 pm. Room 9-450.
Exhibition: On view December 19, 2012- February 15, 2013. Gallery Hours: 9am – 5pm Monday - Friday. Keller Gallery MIT, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Room 7-408, Cambridge, MA 02139.

Strategies for solving urban planning problems have become increasingly global in nature, reflecting the similarity in challenges cities face in a globalized economy and a changing physical climate. In order to share knowledge across international boundaries, planning institutions increasingly seek to understand how similar problems are being addressed from different cultural perspectives, methodologies, and legal regulations. This approach formed the basis for the Parallel Workshop for Sustainable & Equitable Neighborhood Revitalization held in the spring of 2012 by the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the Departamento de Urbanística y Ordenación del Territorio (DUyOT) at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM). The workshop focused on contemporary urban challenges from two very different national perspectives and formulated proposals for two different neighborhoods—Ciudad de los Angeles in Madrid, and Fields Corner in Boston— working closely with local community-based organizations. On the occasion of the exhibition, a half-day symposium will be held to discuss the experience of community-university partnerships between MIT´s Department of Urban Studies and Planning and community organizations from the Boston area.

More information:
With generous support from DUSP, HCED and MISTI-Spain
Contact: Patricia Molina Costa at

Event flyer available here.

People, Planning and the Story: An Applied Media Workshop January 7-10, 2013. Registration Required.

Follow this link to CoLab Radio to learn more about this intensive four-day class on why storytelling is important to the practice of city planning.

CoLab Community Advisory Board Meeting

December 13, 2012

URBAN.Boston and Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) Public Community Meeting December 11, 2012, 6:00-8:00 pm, DSNI, Roxbury, MA

On December 11, 2012, URBAN.Boston (the Boston chapter of the Urban Research-Based Action Network) will hold its second public community meeting at the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI). The intention of these public community meetings is to discuss how we can support and encourage collaborative, community-based research between academics and community members. And you are invited!

URBAN.Boston is a diverse group of researchers and community members who have expressed their enthusiasm for promoting research that contributes to community advancement and advances knowledge relevant to social justice concerns. This December 11 meeting is part of a series of meetings with various community groups to expand the URBAN network. We are happy to collaborate with the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI), a nonprofit community-based planning and organizing entity rooted in the Roxbury/North Dorchester neighborhoods of Boston (

There are two overarching goals for the Tuesday, December 11th, evening. The first goal is to continue the process of engaging researchers and community leaders/members interested in collaborative research, and providing an opportunity for them to meet each other and build relationships. The second is to continue our ongoing discussion about what types of research community based organizations would like to see and what URBAN can do to support this work.

The meeting will also feature a presentation from DSNI about its place-based organizing and development work.

We expect a lively and useful discussion; and hope you will be there to contribute.

Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative
504 Dudley Street
Roxbury, MA 02119

Boston URBAN is part of an emerging national URBAN network. More info at

Seats will be limited, so it will be "first come, first served". Please RSVP to the meeting by Friday, 12/7/12 (at the very latest) by emailing Thank you.

We hope to see you December 11th.

John Barros and Ros Everdell, DSNI,
and Mark Warren, University of Massachusetts Boston, on behalf of the Boston URBAN planning team

Fix This Public Space With #oneidea December 5 and 6, 2012, #oneidea

Follow this link to CoLab Radio,, to learn more about this 24 hour Twitter chat in which anyone can offer a single idea for how our cities’ unsung but ubiquitous functional public spaces could be made better places.

CoLab Faculty Council Meeting

November 19, 2012

#citychat No. 7: Post-disaster Planning November 15, 2012, 3:00 p.m. EST, @MITCoLab

November's #citychat is on urban design and international humanitarian response after a disaster. More information is available on CoLab Radio

This #citychat will bring the humanitarian community together with architects and urbanists who work in a non-emergency context. @alisonkilling of Killing Architects and her collaborator Kate Crawford will ask you to think about the different ways urban and humanitarian practitioners describe, think about and work in cities. It will also be an opportunity to pose some questions about the legitimacy and significance of international humanitarian organisations relative to local government and community-led reconstruction. There has been sharp scrutiny of humanitarian action in the dense, vital streets of Port-au-Prince, for example. News headlines give some idea of the complexity and controversy that have prompted our project.

You are invited to share their own ideas for and experiences with post-disaster work at this #citychat. Come to the chat with your experiences, questions, and challenges for the interviewees and your fellow chat participants.

This discussion is part of a research collaboration between Killing Architects in the Netherlands and the Development Planning Unit at University College London. It has involved interviews with practitioners involved in reconstruction and visits to sites built back by government contractors, international organisations and the communities affected by the disaster. The research has been funded by the RIBA with support from CENDEP at Oxford Brookes. It is part of a series of events leading up to a workshop on London on November 30th at CENDEP.

It’s easy to join the Twitter chat. Just follow #citychat on Twitter from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, November 15th. Even if you don’t have a Twitter account, you can watch the conversation unfold here.

Course Reflection and Presentation - Gender and Planning: A Critical Lens for the Theory and Practice of Planning November 7, 2012, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m., CoLab 7-307

Please join us next Wednesday evening as students and co-instructors share their final projects and reflections on this new course. There will be several short presentations and space for open discussion. Students, staff and faculty are all encouraged to come.

Join the conversation as we think about how to keep the momentum going and spark wider discussions about gender and planning in our academic and professional fields.

If you have questions please feel free to contact Jody Pollock at or one of our co-instructors Aly Bryson ( or Mia White ( Light refreshments will be served at 5:15. We look forward to seeing you next Wednesday!

Representing the City: Technology, Action, and Change October 19, 2012, 10:00am-5:00pm, Civic Square, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ

The symposium will feature a morning panel of five organizations that utilize digital data technologies as a catalyst for urban community engagement, a keynote lunch, and a series of afternoon workshops that will expose participants to new technologies and tools for social change.

Patricia Molina, Research Fellow at MIT CoLab, will participate in the morning panel and will lead a workshop entitled "Leveraging Community Knowledge".

Participating organizations: Center for Urban Pedagogy, Detroit Digital Justice Coalition, MIT CoLab, Public Science Project,

Lunch keynote speakers: Elvin Wyly, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Geography, University of British Columbia; Alan McConchie, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia.

Sponsored by: Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University

For more information:

#citychat No. 6 : Financing an Urban Farm October 18, 2012, 2:00 p.m. EST, @MITCoLab

October’s #citychat is going to be a collaborative, crowd-sourced brainstorm on creative ways for small urban farms and sustainable food ventures to grow and finance themselves. One farm in particular is looking for your ideas: Concrete Jungle of Altanta, Georgia.

The City of Atlanta is overflowing with unclaimed fruit. Sidewalk trees, office park trees, and even people’s backyard trees bear thousands of pounds of delicious fruit each year, but often no one bothers to pick them. Craig Durkin and Aubrey Daniels founded Concrete Jungle in 2009 because they wanted to get that bounty to people who could not afford fresh produce. Every weekend during Atlanta’s long and lush growing season, Craig and Aubrey and their volunteers go out in search of these fruits. They pick what they find and deliver it to homeless shelters and food banks for free. Their operation is 100% volunteer-run. By the time this chat takes place, Concrete Jungle will have donated an impressive 10,000 pounds of food.

Today, Concrete Jungle is at a turning point. Recognizing a growing demand for fresh fruit and an opportunity to expand farming and foraging operations, Craig and Aubrey are contemplating scaling up. But how? They want to figure out a way to be sustainable without compromising their main mission of gathering, growing, and delivering fresh produce to those who can’t afford it. What do you think? Should Concrete Jungle sell a portion of its bounty? Should it seek grant funding? Should it explore cooperative ownership models? Should it maintain its current model? One thing is already clear: “We don’t want to be an organization that just lives off of grants,” said Craig.

If you are involved in urban farming anywhere in the world, please come to this #citychat to tweet your ideas and experiences.

@MITCoLab will introduce @cjungle, and then we’ll start brainstorm. @the_curioscity will be there to moderate the discussion and ask follow up questions. @the_curioscity came up with this incredible idea for a brainstorm #citychat.

It’s easy to join the Twitter chat. Just follow #citychat on Twitter from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, October 18th. Even if you don’t have a Twitter account, you can watch the conversation unfold here.

Bronx Planning Practicum (11.S946) Strategy Workshop - Community Economic Development in the Bronx. In partnership with the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative (BCDI) October 15, 2012, 6:00-8:00p.m., AVT Room

Join us for an evening to help the Bronx project team, led by Prof. Phil Thompson, SPURS Fellow Ofer Lerner, and CoLab Program Director for Just Urban Economies Nick Iuviene, conceptualize and work plan an intensive effort to analyze economic development opportunities in the Bronx (as part of their fall practicum). The project seeks to build wealth and skills for Bronx residents, in partnership with organized labor, community groups, and the respected Mondragon cooperative in Spain.

Dinner and drinks will be served.


  1. Welcome and Opening Remarks - Professor Xavier de Souza Briggs, Head, Housing, Community + Economic Development Group (5 minutes)
  2. CoLab and Community/Academic Partnership - Dayna Cunningham, Executive Director, Community Innovators Lab (5 minutes)
  3. Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative (BCDI), Background - Nick Iuviene, Program Director for Just Urban Economies at CoLab (10 minutes)
  4. The Objectives of the Practicum - Professor J. Phillip Thompson (5 minutes)
  5. Democratic Ownership and Decision Making in Economic Development (based on Democratic Wealth Generation class, Spring 12) - Rachael Ann Tanner, MCP2 (5 minutes)
  6. Proposed Strategies for the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative (based on Democratic Wealth Generation class, Spring 12) - TBD (10 minutes)
  7. The planning process - Ofer Lerner, SPURS fellow (5 minutes)
  8. Indicators of forms of capital – Initial findings - Students (30 minutes)
  9. Feedback and discussion - (45 minutes)

Mel Chin and Rick Lowe: Artists and Community Planning (Dayna Cunningham, moderator) September 24, 2012, 12:00 - 2:00 pm, Room 9-451

MIT Visiting Artists Mel Chin and Rick Lowe present individual projects that engage art in planning diverse and lively urban environments. Active in their own communities and in national initiatives, each deploys art to reinvent locations in need of revitalization. Moderated by Dayna Cunningham, Executive Director of the Community Innovators Lab. More information about Chin and Low and the Arts at MIT Visiting Artists program is available here.

The Theory and Practice of Green Economic Development: Experiences from Across the USA and Around the World
Mel King Fellows & SPURS/Humphreys Fellows Pecha Kucha
September 20, 2012, 5:00-6:45pm, Stella Room 7-338

This event features practitioners sharing their thoughts and vision for green economic development. Presenters include members of the CoLab Mel King Fellows, a cohort of economic development practitioners from across the USA, and SPURS/Humphreys Fellows mid-career professionals from across the world engaged in a year of studies at MIT. CoLab and the Department of Urban Studies and Planning’s SPURS/Humphreys Fellowship Program are co-hosting this event. This event is open to the public, and all are invited to attend.

#citychat No. 5: Transforming Public Space September 20, 2012, 2:00 pm EST, @MITCoLab

#citychat is a collaborative Twitter conversation about cities. Join "Transforming Public Space" on September 20th at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time (1:00 p.m. Central, 12:00 noon Mountain, 11:00 a.m. Pacific). @MITCoLab will host a Twitter chat on how to transform a troubled public space. @MITCoLab will ask @RethinkUrban and @SeCureCS about their three-step process:

  1. How to audit a public space
  2. Engaging neighbors and users of a public space
  3. How to innovate for a better space

We will also ask you for your ideas and experiences with transforming public spaces – an empty lot that’s now a garden, a dangerous corner that’s now a local meeting spot… What else? Do you have any examples of transformed spaces ? How did you go about changing the space?

Participants in this #citychat are invited to share their own ideas for and experiences with public space. Come to this #citychat with examples of public space transformation and questions for the interviewees and your fellow chat participants.

It’s easy to join the Twitter chat. Just follow #citychat on Twitter from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, September 20th. Even if you don’t have a Twitter account, you can watch the conversation unfold here.

#citychat is on the third Thursday of every month.

Dr. Richard Lester September 20, 2012, 12:30-1:30pm, Room 9-450

CoLab is hosting Prof. Richard Lester to discuss how to spur innovation in our energy systems, focusing on regional governance models and utility regulatory reform. Prof. Lester is Japan Steel Industry Professor and Head of the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering and the faculty co-chair and founding Director of the Industrial Performance Center at MIT. His research focuses on industrial innovation and technology strategy, with an emphasis on the energy and manufacturing sectors. Prof. Lester's new book, Unlocking Energy Innovation: How America Can Build a Low-Cost, Low-Carbon Energy System (MIT Press, 2011), discusses the three urgent and interrelated problems of climate change, worldwide insecurity over energy supplies, and rapidly growing energy demand. Dr. Lester’s talk is part of CoLab’s Mel King Fellows Forum. This event is open to the public, and all are invited to attend.

Mel King Fellows Forum September 19 – September 21, 2012

CoLab is hosting the 2012 Mel King Fellows for three days of workshops, presentations, and collaborative knowledge generation supporting CoLab’s Green Economic Development Initiative. The 2012 Mel King Fellows represent a diverse range of economic development organizations from regions across the country, and are coming together to advance a vision of the economic development field driven by environmental sustainability and social equity.

CoLab Faculty Council Meeting

September 5, 2012

CoLab New Student Orientation August 28, 2012, 5:30-6pm

Every year CoLab welcomes new MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning students with a dinner networking session. During the even, staff introduce themselves and tell students how they can get involved.

Click here for agenda and other useful information.

#citychat No. 4: Is equity a model for economic growth? August 16, 2012, 3:00 pm, @MITCoLab

#citychat is a collaborative Twitter conversation about cities. Join "Is equity a model for economic growth?" on Thursday, August 16th, at 3:00 p.m. EST. @MITCoLab will host a Twitter chat on equity as a growth model in the United States. @MITCoLab will interview @PolicyLink on:

  • The relationship between equity and growth
  • How demographic change impacts our economic future
  • Key strategies for growing the U.S. economy

This #citychat is a chance to delve in to PolicyLink’s recent report, America’s Tomorrow: Equity as the Superior Growth Model, which argues:

An-equity-driven growth model would bring together two agendas that have traditionally been separate: the agenda to grow new jobs and bolster long-term competitiveness, and the agenda to ensure that all – especially low-income people and people of color – have the opportunity to benefit from and co-create that growth.

Come to this #citychat with your ideas; your opinions; and examples of unique, emerging, and local strategies for economic growth.

It’s easy to join the Twitter chat. Just follow #citychat on Twitter from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, August 16th. You can pipe in with your own opinions and ideas as the chat rolls along. Even if you don’t have a Twitter account, you can watch the conversation unfold here.

#citychat is on the third Thursday of every month.

#citychat No. 3: City of God? July 19, 2012, 4:00 pm, @MITCoLab

#citychat is a collaborative twitter conversation about cities. Join "City of God?" on Thursday 7/19 at 4:00 p.m. EST. @MITCoLab will ask participants for their ideas and opinions on the relationship between faith and the build environment & faith and community. You can join even if you don't have a twitter account. Details on how to join are here.

#citychat is on the third Thursday of every month.

Cooperative Development Intensive: New Directions in Worker Cooperative Development June 22, 2012, 8:00-5:00 pm, Beginning in Room 3-270

With interest in worker cooperatives coming from all directions - community groups, cooperative developers, immigrant communities, unions, cities, community economic development organizations, and everyday people wanting to own and control their own businesses - now is the time to continue the national conversation on worker cooperative development. Our aim is a multifaceted and critically appreciative conversation that addresses the deeper issues both animating and challenging worker cooperative development in 2012. Participants will emerge with a richer understanding of the landscape of worker cooperative development and a critical analysis of some development models. We are bringing together cooperative developers, organizers, academics, policymakers, and people who work in worker cooperatives to advance a conversation on “how to move boldly, effectively, and coherently toward establishing a cooperative economy.”

This daylong intensive continues the ongoing development discussion started by GEO at the Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy in 2011. It will pick up on five major themes emerging from that discussion: (1) Growth (2) Accountability (3) Funding (4) Diversity (5) Documenting Successful Practices

For more information go to:

Walkin registrations will be permitted. Registration costs for the day are $100.

#citychat No. 2 : Tinkering with Public Space June 21, 2012, 11:00 am, @MITCoLab

#citychat is a collaborative twitter conversation about cities. Join "Tinkering with Urban Space" on Thursday 6/21 at 11:00 a.m. EST. @MITCoLab will interview public space maven @ehooge. You can join even if you don't have a twitter account. Details on how to join are here.

#citychat is on the third Thursday of every month.

Green Grease Workshop for Sao Paulo Wastepickers June 11-15, 2012, Room 7-307

Series of workshops coordinated by CoLab to support the implementation of a network of nine waste grease filtration businesses in Sao Paulo, Brazil. These Green Grease workshops are designed to offer Rede CataSampa wastepickers instruction on designing media campaigns, co-creating waste grease filtration technology, and building business models.

CoLab Presents at Emerald Cities Virtual Training on Local Utility Policy June 6, 2012, 3:30-4:30 pm, WebEx by invitation only

CoLab staffer, Amy Stitely, gives Web-based seminar on "Engaging Utilities: Guidelines for Local Community Based Organizations" for national and local council members of the Emerald Cities Collaborative (ECC). More information on ECC is available at

Hands-on Participatory Planning Workshop at CoLab with James Rojas May 25, 2012, 10:00-11:30 am, CoLab, Room 7-307

James Rojas is coming to CoLab to share his expertise on participatory planning, and conduct a hands-on workshop. James is a DUSP alum who has also facilitated these innovative workshops in California. More info here:

You are all invited to join us! Due to space limitations, please RSVP to

CoLab Faculty Council Meeting

May 22, 2012

Global Niche Markets and Local Development: Fairtrade Farmer Organizations in Paraguay’s Sugar Industry May 18, 2012, 12:00-2:00 pm, CoLab, Room 7-307

Join us for a brown bag lunch discussion with Gustavo Setrini, MIT Political Science Department

Do third-party certifications like Fairtrade support processes of inclusive local economic and social development within the global economy?

Critics have implicated globalization in rising levels of inequality and various forms of social and environmental injustice. In response, coalitions of activists and business have crafted third-party certification systems like Fairtrade. This research evaluates Fairtrade as a mechanism for local development using case studies of two Fairtrade and organic-certified sugarcane farmer cooperatives in Paraguay. Despite their very similar socio-economic characteristics, the two organizations have experienced markedly different success in harnessing Fairtrade and organic export markets for local development. The comparison reveals the enduring importance of local institutions in the global economy and suggests the need for a renewed focus on the problems of local governance in global supply chains.

Gustavo Setrini holds a Ph.D. from the Political Science Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he currently serves as research director for the Puerto Rico Economy Project. His primary research interests include agriculture, globalization and the political economy of sustainable development. In addition to his work on Fairtrade, Gustavo’s research has examined the effectiveness of donor-funded, NGO-led development projects to promote sustainable agricultural techniques among poor farmers and to alleviate poverty by integrating small farmers into global supply chains.

Questions? Contact:
Alyssa Bryson
Program Director, Puerto Rico/Caribbean Development Initiative MIT Community Innovators Lab

o: (617) 253-7673

Twitter for Planners May 17, 2012, 4:00-5:30 pm, Stella Room (7-338)

With over 140 million registered users (including 71 DUSP faculty, students, and alumni), Twitter has become a one of the web’s most popular social media systems. Although Twitter posts are limited to 140 characters, it is used for diverse purposes such as professional networking, public participation in planning, coordinating public protests, urban revitalization, and promoting causes and businesses.

Whether you are a Twitter newbie or social media expert, join us for an interactive discussion about several dimensions of this system. Short presentations will cover the following topics:

  • Twitter technical basics and etiquette
  • The Twitter Universe: How to find useful news, information, and people
  • Twitter for Planning: Models for public engagement and outreach for planners and organizations
  • Tweet Yourself a Job: Personal branding, networking, and scholarly communication

The event will include time for questions and discussion. Please contact us (Alexa or Rob) if you have any requests for topics to cover.

Confirmed Speakers

Stephanie Hatch (@hatchsteph)
MIT Social Media & Email Marketing Specialist

Tiffany Pham (@momogoose)
MomoGoose Food Truck

Alexa Mills (@MITCoLab)

Rob Goodspeed (@rgoodspeed)
DUSP PhD Student / Metropolitan Area Planning Council

General Resources

DUSP Students & Alumni on Twitter
A partial list of 71 people compiled by CoLab.

The Mashable Twitter Guide Book
Detailed introduction to Twitter.

Be Better at Twitter: The Definitive, Data-Driven Guide
News article about a study investigating desirable characteristics of tweets.

Infographic: How To Train Your Employees To Handle Your Social Media
A visual guide to how organizations can manage social media.

Research Papers

Evans-Cowley, Jennifer S. and Griffin, Greg, Micro-Participation: The Role of Microblogging in Planning (February 12, 2011). Available at SSRN: Research paper about Twitter as a participation tool.

Yardi, S., and D. Boyd. 2010. Tweeting from the town square: Measuring geographic local networks. Paper read at Fourth International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media.
Research paper about Twitter as a news source during local crises.

Energy Efficiency Innovation Symposium: Community Enablement Strategies May 9, 2012, 12:30-3:00 pm, Room 9-450. Lunch served. Sponsored by: MIT Energy Efficiency Strategy Project.

How we can extend the recent community efficiency momentum as we move from ARRA/stimulus to growing energy provider funding, through strategic innovations in engagement models, information tools, utility/community partnerships, and public policy?

Led by students completing thesis/research projects, joined by recent alumni developing community efficiency at national, state, and local levels.


First hour: Community Partnerships

  • Brendan McEwen: Community-Based Outreach for Residential Programs
  • Ksenia Mokrushina/Bill Dong Wang: GreenHaus: CDC Driven Efficiency in Dorchester
  • Rosie Sherman: Microgrids: Sharing Energy Generation Infrastructure in Commercial Districts.
  • Amy Stitely (CoLab): Municipal Governments in the Lead

Discussants: Jackie Dadakis (Clean Energy Solutions) and Eric Mackres (ACEEE)

Second Hour: Community Information and Feedback

  • Lindsay Reul/Kate Goldstein: Mapping to Communicate Efficiency Opportunity
  • Nikhil Nadkarni: Rating and Disclosing Home Energy Performance
  • Elena Alschuler: Smart Energy Now: Operational Efficiency in Downtown Charlotte

Discussants: Josh Sklarsky (Peregrine Energy) and Erin Brandt (Metropolitan Area Planning Council)

Questions/comments to Elena Alschuler –

Development, Environment & Community: A New Model for the Piedras River Watershed April 11, 2012, 12:30-2:00 pm, Room 9-354

At this Puerto Rico Practicum Presentation students, staff, and faculty from the Fall 2011 course will discuss their process, results, and lessons regarding urban watershed management, community engagement, and the dynamics of coalition building on the island.

Lunch will be served at 12:00 in the CoLab main office, room 7-307.

View event poster here.

Trash Into Art: 2012 Yunus Challenge Art Installation April 2 - 6, 2012; Opening Reception April 2nd at 5:30pm; Stata Student Street (Building 32)

Students are challenged to collect pieces of waste from their own lives (and/or from their communities) for a week, and to create a thought-provoking project from materials that would otherwise be thrown away. Finalists' work will be installed and presented on the MIT campus from April 2-6, 2012. The winner will display their work on May 3, 2012, at the IDEAS Global Challenge Awards Ceremony.


CoLab Faculty Council Meeting

March 12, 2012

Green Grease: The Future of Oil Recycling March 2, 2012, 1:30 pm, Room 9-450B

The Green Grease Project is a collaborative initiative between MIT and POLI-USP to improve waste vegetable oil recycling in Boston and Sao Paulo.

CORA and Roxbury Green Power are two examples of waste vegetable oil collection cooperatives, working from the bottom up to add value to a waste stream that has the potential to pollute hundreds of thousands of liters of water every day. Come hear from these wastepickers and the students working to support them.

Join the group as they reflect on the history of their project and discuss the role wastepickers will play in the rapidly growing waste vegetable oil and biodiesel markets.

Please email questions and event RSVPs to

Whose city? Redevelopment and Governance in Boston March 1, 2012, 7:30 pm

Speaker: Patricia Molina Costa
PhD candidate, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid.
Research Fellow, Community Innovators Lab, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, MIT.

Location: RCC Conference Room, Real Colegio Complutense, Harvard University, 26 Trowbridge Street (corner of Harvard Street), Cambridge MA 02138

This research explores the challenges and opportunities of the community-based redevelopment model in a neoliberal economic context. Drawing on a review of the history and theories of redevelopment and governance in the U.S., it analyzes the particular case of Jackson Square, a community-led redevelopment process in a low-income neighborhood between Roxbury and Jamaica Plain, in Boston. In an area that was razed for the construction of a failed highway project in the late 1960s, a partnership of community development corporations (CDCs) and private developers are struggling to implement a plan that was defined through a public participation process.

The Jackson Square case is a paradigmatic example of a highly democratic decision-making process that resulted in a community vision for a distressed area. However, despite ideal community engagement and development by community-based nonprofit organizations, the project is being seriously delayed and downgraded due to an economic recession, while the community is not mobilizing to defend their vision and ask for much-needed public support.

Given the structural inequalities engendered by the neoliberal economic system, and the government’s retreat from leading the revitalization of distressed neighborhoods, this research questions the present ability of community-led processes to achieve their goals. Through a critical analysis of the role that each group involved is playing, this thesis aims to contribute to the improvement of the community-led redevelopment model in a way that enhances the creation of a more just city.

Free, in English, and Open to the Public
(617) 495-3536 (Telephone)

CoLab Green Economic Development Initiative and Mel King Fellows Program Information Session February 13, 2012, 12:00-2:00 pm, Room 7-307

Come learn about opportunities to work with 14 leading practitioners from around the country on linking economic development, environmental sustainability and equity.

11.S955 CoLab-orative Methods for Planning with CommunitiesJan 31-Feb 2nd, 2012 (Tues-Thurs) 9am-1pm, Rm 9-450B

Instructor: Ceasar L McDowell with support from Patricia Molina Costa, Alexa Mills, & Amy Stitely -

In this three-day intensive, students will develop foundational skills and knowledge for effectively engaging communities in participatory planning processes. Through hands-on exercises, students will learn how to use community media, participatory visioning, and reflective practice when working in the field. These three practices are core to how CoLab uncovers and uplifts local knowledge when working with community partners. Through reading, lecture, and discussion, students will also explore the underlying planning theory that informs all of these methodologies.

Click here to view the course syllabus.

Contact Amy Stitely if you would like to participate in this course.

Class of 2012 Mel King Community Fellows Convening

January 23-27, 2012

11.S951 Reflective Practice in Green Economic DevelopmentJan 23-26th, 2012 (Mon-Thurs) 9am-12pm, 2 credits, Room TBA

Instructors: Ceasar McDowell & Karl Seidman -

In this course, students will explore the challenges of integrating environmental sustainability and equity goals into economic development practice and potential strategies and best practices to achieve this integration, working with a cross section of practitioners visiting MIT as Mel King Fellows. Students will learn approaches to reflective practice, collaborate with the Mel King Fellows in applying some of these approaches and then draw lessons on the value and learning from their work with the fellows.

11.S952 Frontiers of Immigration Policy and PlanningJan 18-20th, 2012 (Wed-Fri), 9am-1pm, 2 credits, Rm 9-450B

Class Cancelled. Contact Amy Stitely for more information.

11.S954 Reflective Practice: Building Personal Theories of Practice Through Systematic Reflection on Our Own Experience Jan 17th, 2012 (Tues),10am-4pm, 1-3 credits depending on student's commitment to writing assignment, Room TBA

Instructor: Larry Susskind -

DUSP, mostly because of Professor Donald Schon, is identified with the concept of reflective practice. We will discuss excerpts from Schon's writing, talk about our own personal theories of practice and compare notes on how we learn from field-based experience. Participants will be asked to describe an episode from their own work that was important to the development or revision of their personal theory of planning practice. We will also discuss ways in which DUSP can do more to help students formulate, test and revise personal theories of practice.

U.R.B.A.N. Convening

January 12, 2012, Los Angeles, California.

11.S953 Action Research: What is it and Why is it Important to DUSP Students and Faculty? Jan 11th, 2012 (Wed), 10am-4pm, 1-3 credits depending on student's commitment to writing assignment, Room TBA

Instructor: Larry Susskind -

Action Research is an approach to question asking and answering that puts a premium on directly engaging the subjects and users of applied social science research. It does not adhere to social science conventions regarding ways of knowing that put a barrier between the researcher and the people and places they seek to help. Action Research is not concerned about the replicability of research findings in the same way that natural science is. The legitimacy of Action Research findings comes primarily from the contributions its adherents make to facilitating successful action by people and communities as they seek to address the problems they face in their everyday lives.

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