Cambridge Community Center Board of Directors' Resolution to Honor Former Executive Director, David Gibbs
Author: Corinne Espinoza, Interim Executive Director
As we near the six month mark of the Cambridge Community Center’s leadership transition, I would like to take pause to thank David Gibbs, a formidable steward of the organization, for his many years of service. Toward that end, it is my pleasure to report that the Board of Directors of the Cambridge Community Center unanimously adopted the following resolution at our most recent meeting.
Author: Connie Cann, CCC Development Associate and 1st-2nd Grade Group Leader
Minecraft Sign designed and constructed by Akhi Mosley (4th grade).
If you have children, or internet access, you’ve probably heard of the popular open-world game Minecraft. On the surface, it looks like a digital game of Legos, with pixelated graphics and blocky monsters. However, the actual complexity and possibilities of Minecraft are astounding. To start, each new world in Minecraft is unique and vast, the maximum world size being around 9.3 million times the surface area of the Earth. It provides users a simple interface for exploration, creation, and survival.
MinecraftEdu is a version of Minecraft adapted by teachers and programmers to create compelling educational experiences. All around the globe Minecraft is being used in classrooms. Teachers everywhere, myself included, can access worlds built by other educators: worlds focusing on topics like environmental issues, city planning, and history. One map I’ve used in my workshops, the World of Humanities (WoH), was designed by a teacher in Kuwait to simulate exploration of ancient civilizations. Inspired by role-playing game World of Warcraft, students can collaborate in WoH to solve puzzles in Ancient Egypt, find their way to the top of Mount Everest, or explore the Roman Colosseum.
At CCC, we use MinecraftEdu to educate youth through a platform they are already excited about. In each workshop, the kids have their own home world, where they can create new identities, selecting their own gender and appearance, and pick a new name, which other kids will use when chatting to each other within MinecraftEdu. Our youth live in homes of their own creation designed from the ground up, placing every block of wood and glass by hand. They befriend animals like horses and wolves, train them, and use them in their exploration of our worlds. They farm their own food, fish, hunt, explore, and protect their classmates.
Kiyomi Starling (2nd Grade) and I fishing outside of our town.
Most recently, we have been using the versatile building tools in MinecraftEdu to create pixel art. Children find their images and recreate them using grids and coordinates. In this video, Rashard Mosley (3rd Grade) uses a grid to create a Minion.
Connie leads two MinecraftEdu workshops per week, one for first and second graders, and one for 3rd-8th graders.
More about MinecraftEdu:
The Wonderful World of Humanities:
Author: Amelia Joselow, CCC Director of Marketing and Outreach, Green Program Director, Cambridge Winter Farmers Market co-manager
Some might think of community as a stationary thing- a neighborhood, a community center, or a church. So it’s basically a place right? But what if community is not a tight net of connections in a certain location or among specific people, what if it is a power line you carry with you always, ready to spark and connect with others and plug into the world around you, even with strangers?
In an article in “The Art of Manliness” (don’t be put off by the name, it is actually a blog that tackles many social issues), John Corcoran runs a 21-day experiment of being kind to and making conversation with strangers. What did he find? He felt happier and grateful for having made these connections. He learned interesting things and was able to help others too.
Corcoran was not the first person to test what would happen. Researchers Nicholas Epley and Juliana Schroeder of the University of Chicago studied when the Metra, Chicago’s subway, introduced “quiet cars” where people were not allowed to talk on cellphones and were discouraged from speaking with others. The people they surveyed predicted that they would be happier with a quieter commute, but they were surprised by what they found. In a New York Times article about the experiment Epley writes,
“In experiments we conducted over the last several months, we found the same to be true while commuting. In one experiment, we asked Metra commuters in one group to "enjoy their solitude" and refrain from speaking to other commuters. Others were asked to talk to another passenger. A final group received no instructions. At the end of their ride, these commuters filled out a survey about themselves and the commute.
The results? Commuters asked to interact with other passengers reported having the most pleasant commute. Commuters asked to enjoy their solitude reported the least pleasant commute. The pleasure of conversation was not just restricted to friendly people; we found the same results among introverts and extroverts.”
At the end of his article Epley implores readers to try reaching out to others, and this is what John Corcoran did in his own 21-day experiment. In his blog Corcoran included some short stories from his experience:
“Friday, May 9th, a hotel pool, Calabasas, CA. While visiting my family hometown for a wedding, I encounter a man sitting on the side of the hotel pool as I am about to go swimming with my son. He has a small white dog that my son pets and we start talking. It turns out he’s just moved to the area with his family from Chicago. I tell him what I know about the community, the schools, and particular neighborhoods where he’s looking to buy a home.
He’s appreciative for my advice on the local high school, the same school I graduated from.
How I Felt: The interaction makes me feel useful and valuable. His daughter is about to enter my old high school and he seems relieved when I tell him it was a good school.”
Corcoran does say that there are barriers to reaching out, and offers some suggestions: “put down you iPhone and other device,” “wear a conversation starter,” (which apparently first female Secretary of State Madeleine Albright did with broaches) “offer a compliment,” and “seize your conversation opportunities immediately.” The results, according these studies and stories, are worth it.
So how about that, huh? Many times a day we find ourselves around strangers- walking down the street, waiting for the bus, sitting on the subway, in line at the grocery store- and out of habit we keep to ourselves. It takes effort to reach out. In this last story, Corcoran reached out as a part of his experiment to feel happier, but he also had a positive impact on this stranger’s life. And isn’t that what community is all about? Being connected to others and having a positive influence on each other?
So what does “carrying community with you” mean? Just that idea, that we could connect with those around us if we wanted to, and we could make our lives happier by doing so. So if you could build community wherever you go, if you could make the world a happier place with just a few words or a short conversation, well... why not try it out?
Author: Darrin Korte, Director of Out-of-School Time Programs, The Hip Hop Transformation Program Director
From its inception, hip hop music and culture has represented the voice of a movement. The descendant of spirituals, jazz, blues, and rock, hip hop has evolved through constant innovation to become arguably the most passionate art form in our society today. While many people only think of rap music when they think of hip hop, hip hop culture takes the form of many different genres such as dance, graffiti, DJaying, and fashion. At its core, hip hop still carries this history and message of unity with it. However, due to many outside forces and influences, hip hop has developed an image as being hyper violent, misogynistic, and anti social leading many to believe that hip hop is a negative influence on the youth who consume it.
Author: Amelia Joselow, CCC Director of Outreach, Green Program gardening teacher
Fingers crossed, it really is spring out there. No sudden frosts and snow, no more scraping ice off the car windshield. With warmer weather comes the possibility of more outdoor time, but for some it is hard to come out of that couch/computer/TV hibernation. And sadly, the gravitational pull of the couch doesn’t change just because the weather does. It can be hard to get out and get active even if we know it is good for us. But what if it wasn’t just good for us? What if we really needed it?