FemTechNet Summer Workshop at Yale & USC

The 2015 FemTechNet Summer Workshop held nodes in New Haven (at Yale University) and  in Los Angeles (University of Southern California). In this workshop week, FemTechNet unveiled another platform collaboration with EdCast. The CRES committee saw a large increase in interest at the Los Angeles node, getting closer to the current configuration of SCRAM with George Hoagland joining.



SCRAM Beginnings in Santa Monica

In the FemTechNet Summer Workshop of 2015, nodes took place in Santa Monica (at Liz Losh’s house), New York City (at The New School), and Ann Arbor (at University of Michigan). The Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Committee (CRES) of FemTechNet was formed at the Santa Monica node and continued to meet throughout the academic year of 2015-2016. That year of activity resulted in the FemTechNet Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Pedagogy Workbook. Members of this early formation of the CRES committee were Anne Cong-Huyen, Genevieve Carpio, Vani Natarajan, Lilly Nguyen, Amanda Phillips, and Veronica Paredes.


FemTechNet Beginnings in New York

During the week-long inaugural Feminist Technology Network (FemTechNet, FTN) Summer Workshop in mid-July 2013, the primary activated nodes in the networked feminist collective were located in Los Angeles (at the home of Alex Juhasz) and New York City (at Macaulay Honors College). The workshop was part of a series of ongoing conversations about FemTechNet that had been unfolding on several different platforms — in email threads, as well as through in-person and virtual meetings — over the previous fifteen months. Uniquely this was the collective’s largest experiment in connecting instructors synchronously in time, across geography, to co-work and prepare for the first official semester of FemTechNet’s key project, the DOCC (distributed open collaborative course). In addition to the nodes in Los Angeles and New York City during the 2013 summer workshop, at-large participants joined virtually from their homes, offices, wherever. All joined together for committee meetings throughout the week as committee configurations and location bases emerged by need in sessions. The Commons / Tech and Communication Committees became the focuses for New York participants; while Pedagogy, Video and the White Paper Committees were based in Los Angeles.

While the formation for what is now called SCRAM (Situated Critical Race and Media) did not begin until the 2014 FTN Summer Workshop, the need was already present. Just the weekend before the workshop started on July 15, 2013, George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the murder of Florida teen Trayvon Martin. Nationwide protests proceeded, but little mention of the incident was made during the FemTechNet workshop itself. The network’s struggle to address pressing contemporary issues relevant to womanism, Black feminism, and intersectional feminism continue to recur.

Also present on this workshop was a platform. In the video screenshot affiliated with this post, CUNY faculty and FemTechNet member Lisa Brundage demonstrates the basics of using FemTechNet’s beta use of the platform Commons in a Box. Commons In A Box is a project of the City University of New York and the Graduate Center, CUNY. It is the platform that FemTechNet used from around FemTechNet’s launch (in summer of 2013) until about October 2014.


“Looking California, Feeling Minnesota”*

This is a story about how to find your people.

We are SCRAM, the Situated Critical Race and Media group. This is my part of the story.

During a tenure-track research leave in 2015, I applied to participate in the Feminist Scholars Digital Workshop, hosted by HASTAC. I was working on a grant proposal for my university’s interdisciplinary research center, and wanted some feedback. I’d already been waitlisted for the award once, and wanted to win it the second time around. The award would have allowed me to be at home in Minneapolis full-time, and that was really important to me, then and now.

FSDW’s format included a peer review group, and it’s there that I met Anne Cong-Huyen through the screen. She read my proposal, gave me great feedback, and invited me to FemTechNet’s conference in Los Angeles that same summer. Academically, I was really, really lonely. Anne’s warm invitation was just what I needed.

Because I’d lived in LA before moving to Minneapolis, I was more than happy to return, and I met Anne and others who were working on a Scalar project called the FemTechNet Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Pedagogy Workbook. I joined the project and never looked back, meeting other members of SCRAM in the process.

The following spring, FemTechNet hosted a conference in Ann Arbor called Signal/Noise, and I made the image attached to this post during one of the conference’s maker sessions with Veronica Paredes and Hong-An Wu. I also saw Kristy H.A. Kang present her inspirational “Seoul of LA” project, and had already started thinking about ways to hang out with these amazing people on a regular basis, not just in our screens.

Our CRES (Critical Race and Ethnic Studies) group was now meeting bi-weekly and documenting as many of our thoughts, plans, and processes as possible. We knew we wanted to spend time building together, so the first years of our current configuration were heavily invested in grant-writing and supporting each other along our career and personal journeys. We were meeting up at conferences when we could, sharing the resources that we had, and asking ourselves a lot of questions about what it means to be who we are in academia, while we were busy being who we are in academia.

We were learning by listening to each other, breaking stuff, and watching our peers, fans, and scholarly elders. Alex Agloro coined the term “Hang-based Pedagogy” and we ran with it. In practice, this term has meant that we’ve worked with FemTechNet colleagues to organize a network gathering every year at the Allied Media Conference, where we tell versions of our multiverse origin story at the same time that we’re living it; that we’ve made an art out of screen capping chat sessions, where the most important points are in the gaps between posts; that we’ve hacked funding mechanisms so we can maximize our gifts to each other and our workplaces, where we return, refreshed, after time spent researching together.

My part of this story is certainly about locating people, but also about contextualizing how and why and when you find them. It matters.

*RIP Chris Cornell. Ups to all the CA/MN BIPOC Gen-Xers who know the song by heart.