Fired up by the sewing lab from a few weeks back, one of our Making Social Change groups ran with the quilt theme, creating an A-Z of Planned Parenthood quilt as their final group project. They used the laser cutter to cut various shapes and letters, and employed a variety of techniques, including embroidery and applique, to create their squares, and PVC pipe to assemble the frame.  Here they are putting the finishing touches on their project.

Preparing for Visit from Planned Parenthood

On Thursday, December 7, representatives from Planned Parenthood tabled outside the Falcon’s Roost, and our students staffed the booth and displayed their quilt. They got a lot of foot traffic, answered a lot of questions, and distributed lots of literature, including some from built-in pockets on the quilt.

Planned Parenthood!

It’s great to see our students using their skills and passion to take a project from idea to application, and this project is a perfect example of exactly what we hoped would be the outcomes of this course when it was just some ideas on a whiteboard back in 2015.

The theme for week eight of Sociology 379: Making Social Change was “memory” and its role in social movements.  We used timely news coverage of the controversy surrounding Confederate statues as a leaping off point for a discussion about monuments, using James W. Loewen’s “Ten Questions To Ask At A Historic Site” to frame the conversation.

We talked about a variety of examples, including EJI’s Community Remembrance Project, the Bussa Emancipation Statue, many from the San Antonio peaceCENTER’s gallery of Peace & Justice Monuments, and the relocation of Negro Hill Cemetery, an example from our very own backyard.  We also spent some time on the aesthetics and the design of monuments, including the role of light and shadow, scale, and subject matter.

Students were then presented with a mock RFP:

The Carlson Dowell Social Justice Foundation is seeking proposals for a monument – a permanent public art piece – to be installed at Folsom Lake College in spring 2018.  The monument will occupy a 50’x 85’ footprint adjacent to the Falcon’s Roost.  Whether your goal is to memorialize or celebrate an important social justice issue, your proposed monument must also educate, in keeping with the college’s mission.  The installation must also be interactive, encouraging students and the public to actively participate and interact with the work.

Specifications for the prototype included that it be free-standing, crafted at 1:24 scale, include at least one digital fabrication element – an object created/modified using the laser cutter, CNC, vinyl cutter, or 3D printer – and that it incorporate LED lighting.

Making Monuments Challenge

We took a walk out to the proposed monument site so that students would have a sense of the scale and surroundings.  Back in the lab, students set to work on their proposals.  In a very short time – about 2 hours, really – groups were able to craft some really thoughtful proposals and interesting prototypes.

David, Clarity, and Luna developed their proposal around the idea of differences and commonalities among Folsom Lake College students.  Their prototype was based on a maze concept, with many paths leading to a central common ground.

Making Monuments

Another group developed their proposal around issues of food distribution and food insecurity.  They incorporated a greenhouse into their prototype, using www.makercase.com to generate the cut file, and the laser to cut the parts from clear acrylic.  Here Nusaybah and Micaela are preparing to solvent weld the pieces together.

Putting the Greenhouse Together

Zainub, Heather, Jeremy, and Kila based their design on a View-Master Viewer, and were able to modify a Custom View-Master Disc they found on Thingiverse (CC BY TheHeadlessSourceMan), which they cut from wood using the laser.

Prototype of Interactive Monument (Based on a Viewmaster Viewer)

As the final step in the process, groups shared their proposals and prototypes and took questions from their peers.

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We’ve got a great group of students, and I’m continually impressed by their open, collaborative, and creative approach to the course.

One of the most important outcomes for our Making Social Change is that students leave the class empowered to use a variety of tools.  While our focus so far has been on digital fabrication tools – for instance, using the laser cutter to create stencils – we also want students to leave the class with proficiency in more traditional ways of making, including electric and hand tools.

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After some background and safety information, including the use of PPE, we took students out in back of the Innovation Center, where they each had the opportunity to work with a miter saw, band saw, drill press, sanding station, driver/drill, radial saw, Dremel, jigsaw, reciprocating saw, and a variety of hand tools.

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Some students were already proficient in using one or more tools, and they provided support and guidance for their less experienced classmates.

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Students left class with basic proficiency in additional ways of making that they can employ in their final group projects, and in their collaborative class project, a prototype of a large scale, interactive public installation that will represent the social movements we’ve learned about.

Inspired by our class visit to the Rocklin Mini Maker Faire, where the bulk of our time was spent in the open sewing lab, we spent a recent session of Making Social Change creating applique quilt squares for a collective class quilt.  The Theater Arts Department loaned us seven machines to add to the one we have in the Innovation Center, and were able to borrow a few others from students and faculty so that each student would have one to work with.  Students started by selecting fabric from a beautiful trove of fabric samples (generously provided by our faculty researcher Jill Bradshaw) and used the laser cutter to cut out 12″ background pieces.

Sewing for Social Justice

We set up two ironing stations so that students could apply Mistyfuse backing, after which they cut applique shapes and words using the laser cutter (and sometimes good old fashioned scissors).

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T is for Transgender

We had a few folks with sewing experience, and some with none, but students helped each other, and Diane was around to provide guidance and pointers.

U Is For Uterus

Overall a very empowering and dynamic class session! Here’s a gallery of Diane Carlson’s (Sociology) photos from the day:

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A couple of additional laser + fabric experiments…

Our first fire! 🙂  Here we were cutting very fine letters, and it was a little too much for the fabric to handle.

Burnt

Here’s FLC’s Feminist Alliance logo on some contrasting fabric.

Feminist Alliance in Fabric

Our next step will be to try the process with fusible appliqué paper.

In Making Social Change today, we talked about Zapatistas and the Chiapas conflict, and the role of symbols and murals and art in political and social movements.  Based on social justice issues important to them, students then created stencils using Stencil Creator and cut them out of card stock using the laser cutter.  They spent the rest of the class spray painting their stencils on a makeshift gallery structure Diane Carlson (Sociology) and I created out of leftover metal shelves and an old scaffold that’s been out behind the Innovation Center for a decade or more.

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F*ck the Gender Binary!

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Great students, great class!

This week in Making Social Change we’re looking at the Zapatista movement.  One of the themes we’ll have some discussion around is political symbolism, and the use of imagery in social movements, including the various images of Subcomandante Marcos (in his ski mask and sometimes with his pipe) that came to symbolize the EZLN.

Resiste Corazón (Póster)

By Rexistemx (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

This morning I prototyped a class activity around using the laser cutter to create stencils.  One of the challenges of the course is finding ways to make some of the prerequisite skills of digital fabrication – chiefly vector graphic creating and editing – more accessible to a group of students with varying levels of digital media creation skills.  Enter Stencil Creator, a sophisticated web-based stencil maker.  Upload an image to Stencil Creator, and the robust toolset enables some of the same sorts of functionality found in Illustrator’s Image Trace function.  The system outputs files in *.svg format, and after just a few tweaks in Illustrator – haven’t yet found a way to take it out of the workflow entirely – the stencil can be sent to the laser cutter.  Here’s one of the test cuts, featuring bass hero and DIY champion Mike Watt:

Laser Watt

Positive and Negative

Mike Watt Stencil Progress

Watt closes his shows with a call to “Start your own band! Paint your own picture! Write your own book!” so I added “Make your own stencil!”  I think D. Boon would be pleased.

Brother Watt Reminds Us

Having recently had students spinning yarn, I decided to make another shuttle for our community loom, as the one we’ve got has a crack in it. I snapped a photo of it, brought it into Illustrator, added a few guides, and was able to pretty quickly create a fairly similar copy.

Making a New Shuttle

I cut the shuttle out of 1/4 birch plywood using our laser cutter. It needs a bit of sanding and filing, but I think it will make a pretty decent replacement.

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The files (Illustrator *.ai and PDF) and instructions are up on Thingiverse, or you can just grab the pdf here: simple_shuttle

In week 4 of Making Social Change, we talked about Indian independence, and about the emblematic role of khadi – handspun and hand-woven cloth – in the movement. Building upon the prototype Erica Tyler (Anthropology) developed as part of the Making Across the Curriculum faculty maker academy of summer 2016, and on our preview event from spring 2017, students created drop spindles using dowels, hooks, and laser cut whorls.

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Erica made herself available to talk about “women’s work” in the Archeological record, and showed students how to spin roving into yarn.

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With any luck, the community loom will soon have a bit more handspun yarn added to it.

About two years from our original idea, and after many hours on the greaseboard, and many prototypes and preview events, Sociology 379: Making Social Change has finally been born!  We’re joined by twelve brave, multi-talented, fascinating students, passionate about a wide array of social justice issues.

Making Social Change

The class meets once a week on Mondays from 1pm – 4:05pm, and we’ve met twice. We spent the first session framing the course and getting to know each other, doing some design thinking with the help of the Making Connections card game from the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, and building some low res prototypes.

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In our second session, we took a critical look at the “maker movement,” spending some time discussing “Making Through the Lens of Culture and Power: Toward Transformative Visions for Educational Equity.” (Harvard Educational Review, 86(2), 206-232.Vossoughi, S., Hooper, P. K., & Escudé, M. (2016), https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/fa5b/4e88c78f380b4727d445afa33bea5212a21d.pdf), before students had the chance to begin work on their contribution to our tile project, which is a low risk/high reward, very accessible “first project” in digital fabrication.

David Creates his Tile

Really looking forward to continuing to work with these students, and to learning from this “version 1” prototype of the course!