The Octavia Project uses girls’ passion in science fiction, fantasy, fan-fiction, and gaming to teach them skills in science, technology, art, and writing, equipping them with skills to dream and build new futures for themselves and their communities.
Brooklyn girls, ages 13-17, participate in our free summer program. Workshops tap into emotional connection and personal expression while building 21st century skills. Art and writing workshops integrate science and tech, focusing on creativity, innovation, communication, and critical thinking, while exploring programming, engineering, and digital and media literacy. Girls have access to women working in science, tech, arts, and humanities, internship and online publishing opportunities, and college-aged mentors.
Our inspiration and namesake is Octavia E. Butler, who broke barriers in writing and science fiction to become an award-winning and internationally recognized author (Kindred, Lilith's Brood). We are inspired by her visions of possible futures and commitment to social justice.
The Octavia Project offers dynamic programming that connects skill-building in science and tech with girls’ personal interests and hobbies, forging a safe space for teenage girls to learn through joy and creation. Our girls will gain allies, resources, and a relationship to life-long learning. Additionally, through elective internships or job mentorships, they'll gain connections, experience, and 21st century skills that enable them to thrive in school and in life. Read more about our connections to the tech, publishing, arts, and education fields through our advisory board.
In addition to our summer intensive, we offer programming in three other areas.
One-day workshops for teens
Our one-day workshops for teens take one module from our summer program--for example, urban planning, architecture, wearable electronics, or computer programming--and bring it to your school, Girl Scout troop, community center, or out-of-school program. Email to find out more.
Workshops for adults
"I wish I could do the Octavia Project!" We hear this from adults all the time, so we've adapted modules from our curriculum to suit an adult audience. We will bring our interdisciplinary, interactive workshops to your office, friend-group, or local watering hole. Email to find out more.
Professional development for educators
Last summer, Octavia Project head teachers lead a professional development session for K-12 public school teachers, hosted by the Brooklyn Public Library, on teaching programming through creative writing. Participants learned introductory programming concepts, designed their own narrative online game, and thought about how game design based around creative writing can be adapted for the ELA, Social Studies, and math classroom. Email to find out more.
Meet Meghan, Octavia Project co-founder and director.
Meghan McNamara is a teacher and organizer living in Brooklyn, NY. Previously, Meghan was director of programs at Girls Write Now, a nationally-recognized writing and mentoring program for underserved NYC high school girls. Under Meghan's leadership Girls Write Now more than doubled the number of girls served and developed and led a new digital- writing and mentoring program in partnership with The New School.
Meghan currently teaches science and writing to adults pursuing their high school equivalency diplomas in Bronx, NY. In this capacity she developed and taught a year-long course that used Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks to build science literacy and confidence in STEM skills in women adult learners, which she has presented on at national and regional conferences. Meghan also teaches video game design at an all-girls middle school in Brooklyn.
Meet Chana, Octavia Project co-founder and artist-in-residence.
Chana Porter is a writer and teacher living in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Her plays and performance pieces have been developed and produced at Cloud City, 3LD, Rattlestick Playwright’s Theatre, Cherry Lane, The Invisible Dog, Primary Stages, Movement Research, PS122, and The White Bear in London. She has been an Artist-In-Residence at Space On White, CAVE, and Dixon Place. She has been a guest teaching artist at Hampshire College, Weber State, Worcester Polytech, and Think Tank, a science and art learning center for teens. She is currently writing a series of science fiction novels, POST HUMAN CLASSICS.
Upcoming: 'PHATASMAGORIA or the Market of Ghosts', at La MaMa, October 2016.
Chana graduated from Hampshire College with a degree in Theatre for Social Change in 2006. Masters in Playwriting with Honors: University of Exeter, UK, 2008. MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College.
Meet ray ferreira, Octavia Project lead teacher.
¿whenami? blklatinx from the occupied Lenape lands of the colonizing United States: Corona, Queens. Her performative practice uses iridescence, movement, projection, repetition, and *~-~~*quantum poetics*~~-~* Englishes, Spanishes, and other body languages spiral, dance, and twirl to create a banj criticality: turnup w/the grls and swerve past white cishet patriarchy.
They can be located museum educating at the Studio Museum in Harlem, as well as ﬂoating through other museum education departments ¿whenami? Other intersections of space, time, and matter include ITINERANT (at the Glasshouse), La MaMA, Dixon Place, and various additional intra-actions.
Other projects include receiving her MFA from Hunter College (a durational performance), iridescentwaters (a hood journal, academic zine, or something else (in progress)), and energia negra (an exhibition that needs a temp home and coins)
Meet our Advisory Board, a coalition of dedicated professionals who donate their time to ensure the success of our mission.
Ian Dreiblatt is a poet, translator, and publisher. He is the author of sonnets (Metambesen, 2014) and בראשונה (DoubleCross Press, 2015), and the translator of a number of books including Nikolai Gogol's The Nose (Melville House, 2014), Comradely Greetings (the prison correspondence of Pussy Riot's Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and philosopher Slavoj Žižek, Verso Books, 2014), and parts of Avant-Garde Museology (e-flux, 2015). He holds a JD from the City University of New York and is the director of digital media at Melville House.
Andrea Gabbidon-Levene, is the program coordinator of the CUNY Start Program at Borough of Manhattan Community College where she oversees two college transition programs. Her past experience includes corporate and foundation relationships officer at The Urban Assembly and the senior manager of national development at the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. Andrea previously served on the program advisory board for Girls Write Now. Andrea started her career as a journalist and has been published in the Boston Globe, New Jersey Herald and was a CampusVipe reporter for CNN.com during the 2004 presidential election. Andrea has a B.S. in Print Journalism from Emerson College and a M.S. in Urban Policy and Management from the New School. A native of Long Island, Andrea is the daughter of two Jamaican immigrants. She resides in Brooklyn.
Chandanie Hiralal is a young fantasy writer who hopes to make it big one day so she can use the money she makes to help fuel organizations against animal cruelty (and adopt a fully vegan diet) as well as movements for women’s equality, environmental conservation, and LGBTQIA rights.Chandanie published her first book of poems and short stories when she was 14. Currently she is working on another book of poems and is looking to publish her first novel, Moonrise in the Darkness. She’s a sophomore at CUNY Queens College with a major in English and minor in Business in Liberal Arts. Chandanie has a wide range of interests, but in her spare time she enjoys playing video games, watching anime, going on magical adventures with her boyfriend, and attuning herself with the Universe; recognizing and becoming one with the stream of meaningful coincidences found in everyday life.
Tyler Hoyt is a research scientist, programmer, musician, and dancer. He is currently working in the departments of Environmental Design and Computer Science at the University of California at Berkeley, engaged in research to promote occupant-centric, energy efficient design. By impacting building standards and creating computational tools that help designers, educators, students, and researchers, he hopes to reduce the environmental impact of buildings while enabling the design of comfortable spaces. Before working at Berkeley, he earned a B.S. in Mathematics from UMass Amherst in 2006 and an M.S. in Mathematics at New York University in 2008. Outside of his academic work, Tyler is an avid dancer and musician, and loves to explore ways that mathematics and computing can be used in the arts as well as science. Known to make websites on occasion.
Daphne Lundi is an Urban Planner focusing on flood resiliency and climate adaptation planning. She currently works at the NYC Department of City Planning in neighborhoods in southern Brooklyn that were impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Before working for the Department of City Planning she was also an Environmental Planning Specialist for Pinchina Consulting where she worked on agroforestry and reforestation studies for a community-led planning project in Petit Goave, Haiti. Originally from Brooklyn New York, Daphne earned a B.A. in Sociology with a focus in Urban Studies from Wellesley College and a an M.S. in Community and Regional Planning with from the University of Texas at Austin. A self-taught seamstress, Daphne is also interested in clothing construction and design.
Lauren Monroe is the founder of Worcester Think Tank, an innovative educational center focused on advanced learning in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) disciplines. Lauren opened the center in 2008 and resides as its director, and one of its resident science teachers. Before launching her business Lauren enjoyed traveling and teaching in foreign and diverse environments. These experiences include: teaching English in language schools in and around Tokyo; circumnavigating the globe in a large charter ship with an educational project called Peaceboat; and working with a yoga retreat program in Belize. These experiences along with her undergraduate and continuing education at UMASS Amherst and other local universities in and around Worcester shaped Lauren’s desires and abilities to open and maintain the successful business and educational center she has today. In addition to her work with Think Tank, Lauren also enjoys practice in art and music, and is an award recipient of the 2014 Worcester Arts Council fellowship in art and science installations.
Sunaina Rao is an educator and a life-long book lover. She works as the Community Relationships Director at Trail Blazers and earned her Masters Degree from The New School in 2016. She has worked with youth throughout her career starting with her time as a karate instructor and including two AmeriCorps years. With a background in Anthropology and Nonprofit Management, Sunaina seeks to encourage people-focused practices that acknowledge cultural differences and respect indigenous knowledge. Though she has read many important novels and texts in her years as an academic and and educator, she will always remember where she came from; her Nancy Drew and Fright Night books are perhaps the most important parts of her bookshelf.
Aviva Rubin works in multiple realms of architecture, including design, curation, education, and research. Currently, she is an Exhibition Design Associate at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. She has previously practiced at Lynch/Eisinger/Design in New York, researched for exhibitions at SFMOMA, and taught at Harvard’s Career Discovery and Boston Architectural College. With a Bachelor of Architecture from Carnegie Mellon University (2007) and a Master of Design Studies from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (2012), she believes that research can push design towards a more integrated approach to the production of space. In all of her work, she aims to merge the social and the architectural.
Jessica Wells-Hasan has nearly 15 years of experience in fundraising, management, external relations, and operations at leading New York City non-profits. She has secured millions of dollars of new and increased funding for effective organizations working in social justice, education, youth development, the arts, and the environment, including at Barnard College, The Juilliard School, Theatre Development Fund, the National Audubon Society, and Girls Write Now. Jessica is active at her alma mater, Barnard College, has served on the Advisory Board of EarthShare New York, joined the Harry Potter Alliance as an Advisor, and in 2015 joined the Octavia Project as a Board Member. A writer since childhood, she is currently working on a biography of her grandfather, an environmentalist and architect.
And, meet our devoted volunteers, who help make it all possible.
Ximena Castillo graduated with honors from Eugene Lang College for Liberal Arts in 2015, majoring in Literary Studies and Creative Writing. An aspiring novelist in the fiction genre, Ximena spends much of her time thinking of new ways to tell familiar stories. A self-proclaimed Trekkie, she gains much of her inspiration from current events and hopes to build worlds and characters that readers can't help but fall in love with. When she isn't struggling with the blank page, Ximena enjoys the finer things in life: napping, collecting figurings, a glass a wine, and a new ball of yarn. In the past, Ximena has interned with and participated on the Youth Board of Girls Write Now, a non-profit organization devoted to aiding teenage girls with a passion for writing. Afterward, she spent time aiding the Octavia Project during their inaugural summer program. By day Ximena spends her time juggling the hectic life of an administrative assistant, by night she... well she sleeps.
Meagan Proctor Kavouras is a writer and scholar living in South Slope, Brooklyn with her husband and an ungodly amount of books. Her research focuses on fashion, feminism, and science fiction and particularly the ways in which gender is created, negotiated, and performed through clothing and dress practices in speculative fiction. Since receiving her master's in fashion studies from Parsons in 2013 Meagan has presented her research at academic conferences across the country and plans to begin work on a PhD in English in the fall of 2016. In the meantime she's working on an anthology of academic essays on fashion and science fiction, writing like a madwoman, and watching a lot of Adventure Time.
Alisha Levin studied art history at New York University and is currently Associate Manager, Global Communications at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Since joining the museum in 2010, she has worked on strategic communications planning and digital projects for many of the museum’s international initiatives including the BMW Guggenheim Lab, the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative, and the Guggenheim Helsinki Design Competition. A lifelong science fiction lover, she is especially fascinated by the roles of art, design, and architecture in sci-fi and fantasy.