Once upon a time, in one timeline of the multi-verse on the planet Earth, there was a writer named Chana Porter. She wrote plays and text for dance, and read all manner of science fiction and fantasy novels. She was working hard on her writing career in the city. Yet she felt [[unfulfilled]]...
To pull herself out of artist isolation, Chana started to volunteer as a writing mentor with the organization Girls Write Now. She was paired with an incredible teenager, Ashley, and the years flew by, in laughter, occasional tears, all while writing, reading, and eating some pretty good Chinese food...
Soon, it dawned on Chana that Ashley would be going to college!
[[Wallow endlessly in her own despair]]
[[Start thinking of other modes of being an writer in intergenerational communities?]]
Get off the floor, Chana. Your book isn't going to write itself.
Chana kept busy writing her first SF novel, SEEP (in which aliens-human symbiosis remakes a future San Francisco) while helping Ashley apply to college.
Then, the summer before Ashley's senior year, Chana taught a month long series of SF/F writing workshops for teen girls.
Some of the girls brought in drafts of full novels, and the ideas flying around that conference room were so rich and exciting, Chana had to share it with a [[friend]]...
This friend was none other than Meghan McNamara, part-time science and digital-media teacher, former program administrator, and full-time geek girl.
[[Find out what character you might be in Chana and Meghan's RPG, roll+weird|World]]
[[Continue on with the story!|Story]]
Meghan was inspired by all the incredible stories and ideas bouncing around, and she had an even cooler idea than simply writing SF with teenage girls: What if this special space was used as a way to learn and teach and create all manner of [[things]]?
A psycho-pop roving musician who barters beauty for protection and status, Lion might be found luxuriating in fine oils at the public bathhouse or lounging with her bevy of fans on Cancun's thread-worn tapestries. But be careful how closely you watch her upon the stage, for you can fall in love with Lion over a song, and owe her more than your life by the time her hypnotic set is over.
In this weird, weary world, there are people who know how to get all manner of things, and how to get unpleasant things done. Taciturn Sway is competent, quick in a fight, and knows when you owe her a favor. With her crew of trusted mechanics and penchant for navigating life's crusty underbelly, she's a good friend to have at the end of the world. Until she's not.
Teenage DustSnake has only ever known life after the apocalypse and she likes it just fine. In her pilfered Renaissance-style gown and dreamy, far-away voice, DustSnake amasses her followers, known only as The Court, by night for secret rituals. Will her infatuation of the weird and the magical be her ascent to power, or her downfall?
Then, what if we kept bringing it back to writing? Like, using the city planning and sculpting and modeling and video game design as a way to enrich our [[stories]]?
What if we used our writing as a jumping off point, to learn coding and city planning and tenets of architecture, while painting and drawing and sculpting, and sewing, and maybe even some circuitry?
What if we invited a bunch of women to come and speak to us, who did these things [[professionally]]?
What if we had a rotating host of women guest teachers and artists from all over the city, who came to model and share and talk about how they created awesome careers for themselves from their [[passions]]? What if we focused on bringing in guests who were women of color, doing incredible work in science, tech, and arts communities?
What if we took it a step further? If we could invent new realities on the page, what if we looked at our world, our current reality, and thought about how we might [[change]] that?
The Octavia Project was born! ! ! !
Our inspiration and namesake is Octavia E. Butler, who broke through barriers of race and gender to be an award-winning and internationally recognized science fiction author. We are motivated by her visions of possible futures and commitment to social justice.
Supported by a dedicated advisory board of professionals in tech, non-profits, the arts, and publishing and with the help of the Brooklyn Public Library and crowd-sourced donations from all over the world, Chana and Meghan ran the first ever Octavia Project last July.
Last summer was an exciting one--it went even better than anticipated. Nine girls from underserved communities in Brooklyn met four days a week at the New Lots Library in Brownsville. They talked writing with Hugo and Nebula nominated speculative fiction author N.K. Jemisin and created science-inspired superheroes with mathematician and author SL Huang. They learned about being a CodeNewbie from software engineer Saron Yitbarek, devised alien plants with STEM and art teacher Lauren Monroe-Anderson, and studied photography with teaching artist Anusha Mehar. And so much [[more]]!
Cruise around on our <a href="http://octaviaproject.org" data-raw"" target="_blank">website</a>
to see the participants <a href="http://octaviaproject.org/portfolios/index.html" data-raw"" target="_blank">portfolios</a> Check out the games they created using Twine in our <a href="http://octaviaproject.org/portfolios/games" data-raw"" target="_blank">games folder</a> And see what you can do to <a href="http://octaviaproject.org/donate.html" data-raw"" target="_blank">support</a> the Octavia Project.
The pilot program was an overwhelming success. And it's only going to get better from here. Octavia Project Summer 2016 will bring more workshop hours, more participants, and another amazing cast of teaching artists and guest speakers.
Some of our favorite moments from last summer...
(On the first day) "Can we make up a group chant--like, something that we say every time we see each other?"
Our group chant evolved and grew over the summer. We did it at the beginning and ending of each session and taught it to our guest teachers and speakers as well! The final version goes like this:
We TELL it
We TEACH it
We TRY it
We OWN it
We SHOW it
There are hand gestures. It's amazing.
(Girl looks up slyly from her computer) "Is this coding?"
"Cool." (Continues coding)
We were celebrating D.'s birthday with sheet cake. Afterwards, D. says:
"The Octavia Project feels like my second family." *hugs*
"Can we do this again next year?"
Lucky for us, most of our particpants last summer were between the ages of 13-15! We the have the potentenial to have multiple summers with our partipants, develop deep relationships over time, and teach some serious skills as they mature.
Last summer at the Octavia Project, girls...
Learned coding to build and style their own games and stories with Twine.
Imagined future New York Cities, made more livable for everyone.
Designed wearable electronic clothing for the future while learning circuitry.
Dreamed up new RPG (role playing game!) characters and put them into action.
Used real world examples and our fav fandoms to understand and explore Direct Action, using science fiction as a tool for social justice.
Held conversations about cyberbullying and navigating the internet as a woman.
Had fun, took chances, and made new friends!