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MDES 14 - The Magic Is Happening

Stack of work bits, Marina Hor-Meyll Lemos's 'zine, and the ever-faithful mac.
Stack of work bits, Marina Hor-Meyll Lemos's 'zine, and the ever-faithful mac.

Most of the team knows me for my bad dad jokes. They make moments zip and they soften even the hardest of hearts. I’m not surprised if people secretly love to hate them. But I also know that they won’t stop you from sharing them! So welcome to Monday, and How many tickles does it take to get an octopus to laugh? Ten tickles.

No tickles for us – our class for Research & Methodology converts this Monday into one-on-one sessions to review our thesis proposals. This week the projects feel more refined and practicing literature reviews has given each of us an appreciation for the science of research writing. [groan] For those of you keeping score – Amy: Refugees and Sports, Vaila: Identity, Clothing and Slow Fashion, Hanna: Universal Basic Income and Speculative Design, Rica: Blockchain System to Resource Favelas, and me, Smarti: Plastic, Un-plastic and Packaging Design.

The race is on for presentation phase next week. The presentation is a chance to showcase our proposals in front a panel who will judge our work and help us decide on our thesis advisors. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that there is an advisor in the lists available for my work AND who is stimulating but calming. I’m a nervous type and I work hard so I just need someone who can bounce ideas and release the pressure off my work pace valve.

In French that night we go over subjunctive tense. I would/I wish/I doubt. How perfectly ironic that in the second to last week of school we are talking about the expressions of necessity, possibility and judgment. A squiggle smile plays on my face as I say phrases Je doute que…, Je veux que…, Il est possible que… The moody french take no prisoners! Je reve d’avoir un chance. Wait, did I win? Is that subjunctive?

MDES Group in never-ending meetings to get details sorted.

Tuesday is another back to back meeting day. We start with our beloved leadership class as Sabine leads us through a standing meeting. (This is a regular meeting but you get to stand. I really like doing these. It reminds me of a chiropractic exercise I did once at a yoga camp. It made me aware of all kinds of small things I do unconsciously with my body. Like I often collapse my chest downward and lift my chin when I sit. But when I stand, have to round my shoulders back and drop my chin. It corrects so much pressure in the lower back.) Today I say that I feel like that IKEA alarm clock that flips and changes colors. Lots of work ahead so lots of flipping to do.

Sabine even leads us through a presentation on how to do a proper pitch, and we get to learn about a project she did with design thinking in a development project with World Food Programme. The project was about break through the hierarchies and limitations in int’l development to to get innovative ideas from the field. A lot of times we put pressure on international politics to solve things when they are incapacitated because of limitations of bureaucracies and hierarchies and quite frankly, funding. Grassroots work or even high-level int’l political work with a grassroots access and mindset can be part of a solution.

In the afternoon we reconvene the Design Thinking group to cover details on how to take the next steps for the event What Art Can Do [14 December 2017, 6-9 p.m. We have such an amazing group of artists scheduled to speak at the event. It’s been a dream (and a headache – gotta confess) putting all the details together right while finals are looming. Is all event management a bucket of planning and then one day of problem-solving on the fly? We shall find out.

In the evening I work to finalize the prototype Social Entrepreneur that I created to help them overcome a community-building challenge. It’s all about getting people to galvanize around their cause, and for Champerché it’s about getting them to explain just why bioponic gardening can be so great!

We’re back at Draft Atelier on Wednesday where a couple of us are finishing our last printed pieces. We share the lab hour with the Transdisciplinary New Media cohort who will be judged for their finished work in a critique in another class. Our Design for Social Impact cohort will have to present our work separately. Ultimately the main goal is to learn how to 3D print, laser cut, and how to use the CNC mill in relation to your work. So, since my project is about compostable, biodegradable, and edible packaging I only found purpose for the 3D printer and the laser cutter. In the laser cutter I worked to make a tessellated folding creation that will help me design an edible paper folded packaging.

In 3D printing I make a small test take-away container box printed with biodegradable filament made of beer! (It gets covered by tree-resin coated paper cover and sits inside a cloth-sling packaging). The little thing takes 1 hour to print last week so I’ll have to purchase extra hours in the print lab in order to do a full test. I didn’t realize that 3D printing can be so very slow.

In the afternoon I go to a meeting at Living Lab at La Villette in the top right hand corner of Paris. I’ve been in talks with the staff there about hosting my un-plastic creations in their upcoming exhibit on plastic. Fortunately, they like my prototypes (especially the beer filament 3D creation) and they offer me a residence in February, as well as a chance to present at the event and a space to do testing with my prototypes. YES! So I am dreaming up ideas on how to showcase possible finished work and how to prepare a presentation in french. Also, what exactly does a test-group interaction look like? Maybe I’ll serve people food from my packaging and then ask them questions afterwards? I’ll have to search around for answers…

This evening calls for a show with my French class at Le Quotidien. Our fearless professor Julie got us tickets to a night entertainment show. Think Daily Show. It’s got all the lights and fake set furniture. The host seems nice, the topic is about Johnny Hallyday, the Elvis of France who died today. Apparently he was well known in France, but a most obscure person worldwide. We were told in advance to wear anything but black as the lighting crew prefers to have colorful audience. So we went colorful and happy and trying to follow along! If you watch the online show – I’m wearing green in the very back row, can you spot me?

Thursday is prepping at home for all the different deadlines coming up. Marina Hor-Meyll Lemos mocked up a funny ‘zine on finals – it cheered me up while prepping my bits. So here’s the line-up: Final presentations on thesis and French on the 11th. Final presentation in Leadership on the 12th. Final event for Design Thinking on 14th. Final presentation for Social Entrepreneurship and a manual turned in for Design Thinking on the 15th. So I use the day to move forward on each of these presentations. One by one. Afterwards I head to the gym for a long cardio session. I need to clear my head and zone out for a bit with some therapeutic gymming. I slip into a Netflix Outlander episode and enjoy every minute.

​Friday midday we meet back at our PCA classroom. We’re practicing delivery on Leadership presentation. We each did different tracks in the leadership training modules provided by MakeSense. So each of us has different perspectives to share in the presentation. I think MakeSense will be pleased with how we brainstorm solutions for the future of this MOOC.

Tonight I have a soirée with my husband’s company so I get a dry-hair cut in preparation for it. Haven’t tried a dry hair cut before? They are absolutely divine. I hear it’s a growing trend and I can see why. Who wants to stare at themselves looking like a wet dog while getting snipped? Not me. Bring on the dry cuts. I’ll never go back.

It’s a night at a soirée in a small cafe in La Marais. There is music-a-playing, spouses a-glittering, ​and even a couple of vegan plates-on-offering! In the back I find a wall-to-wall bookshelf filled with antique books. My book-binding eye begins to twitch. I cannot help myself – and I slide some books out. I even find a random vintage copy of Walt Disney sci-fi books featuring none other than Les Castors Juniors Astronautes aka Huey, Dewey, and Louie Duck, nephews to Donald Duck who go to the moon.

Sara Marti

The night is complete with a walk down Parisian streets back to the metro. It’s nice to hold hands and walk through the chill. There’s lots of sparkly lights glowing up the city. We’re dolled up and it’s likely the last time I’ll feel so fresh because the weekend will be spent glued to my computer screen, typing away, designing the last bits and finishing all the work left on my to-do sheet. Finals are looming! The magic is happening…