MDES 03 - Unicycles, Agbogbloshie, and the Six Thinking Hats

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This week started off on a high note, and by that I mean on my walk to school on Monday morning, I saw a man riding a unicycle on rue Hauteville. At first I was surprised, and then I was kinda of jealous as I watched him swerve in and out of traffic and eventually disappear. I still had about 9 minutes left of my 10 minute commute, and all I wanted was someone to invent teleportation (or teach my how to ride a unicycle). I am not a morning person, if you can’t already tell.

After that 10 minute commute, it was our first class with Yasmine Abbas who was one of the people who designed our masters program. We talked about the origin of the word ‘design’, design thinking, and characteristics of design. The one quote that really stuck with me during that class was about thinking and making.

“It is not that the theorist only thinks and the craftsman only makes, but that the one makes through thinking and the other thinks through making.”
Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture by Tim Ingold

The processes of thinking and making are so intertwined, and now ever than before. People are not confined to doing just one, the tools to learn other skills have become so accessible for everyone.

The next day, Yasmine presented her Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform during a PCA Talk. She and her partner, Dk Osseo-Assare, spent time in a town called Agbogbloshie near Accra, Ghana. The area is famous for being a site for e-waste, which in turn young people burn to recover precious metals. The burning pollutes the air, water, and earth in that area, and eventually ends up in the food chain, affecting humans and animals alike. Local grassroot organizations create/recreate/repurpose the e-waste. Yasmine and Dk designed a space that is equipped with tools, where students from local universities, who have the theoretical knowledge, come together with the young people onsite, who have practical knowledge, to create. This project has already produced some really great collaborations such as a jerry-can computer! I can only imagine what else will be coming out of the Agbogbloshie Makerspace.

This got me thinking about what each one of us would be doing in a few years, where we’ll be and how many lives we’d be changing. The projects we are starting to work on are so diverse and I can only hope that we are all as successful and impactful as the Agbogbloshie Makerspace.

One of the highlights of this week, besides the unicycle of course, was a team-building activity introduced to us by Hanna called the Six Thinking Hats. The hats were different ways of thinking – facts, judgement, optimist, emotion, facilitate, and ideas. So, generally, we wear many hats at any given time of the day, but this activity taught us to only wear one and focus on it. It was an enlightening experience as we all switched between hats during the activity and I think we can definitely use these hats when we are planning our various events for our projects this semester.

I am very thankful and excited to be a part of this program, not only for the amazing network and projects, but also for the friends I’ve gained who will become a cherished part of my memories of Paris.