Activism Art and Design

Politicized Design: escaping oppressive systems with participatory movements

Watched Politicizing Design from the Grassroots by Bibiana Oliveira SerpaBibiana Oliveira Serpa from Futuress

Drawing from popular activist movements in Latin America, this talk explores the possibilities for the politicization of design.

In her PhD thesis that she recently defended for the Design program of the State University of Rio de Janeiro (ESDI/UERJ) in Brazil, Bibiana delved into her experiences as an active member of different civil society grassroots movements to reveal some of the political, ethical, and practical issues that permeate the transformative action of these collectives.

Through Militant Research Methodology and inspired by her action in the fields of popular education and feminism, she traced paths for a possible politicization of the Design field. In this conversation, Bibiana shares some of the lessons she learned from this journey, articulating four axes she considers crucial for the politicization of Design: ontology, epistemology, practice, and content.

Presented by Bibiana Serpa, a PhD visual designer from Brazil

Design & Opressão (Design and Oppression Network)

Articulação de Mulheres Brasileiras

What is militant research?

  • aims to educate people politically
  • participatory — cannot only research
  • acts in the “context of discovery” not “context of justification” — not seeking to support an existing theory, but to learn
  • always collective

Process of politicization

social movements are self-educating and self-transforming –> politicization

politicization = political learning — “a relational and experiential process”

Art and Design

A process for *selecting* rather than culling

Liked A Better Edit Makes Better Photographs by DavidDavid (

My own edit process goes much more quickly because I’m not looking for every single image that meets some basic minimal technical standard. I’m looking for the ones that make me lean in. The ones that make my heart sing. The ones that grab me and won’t let me not select them.

You might have a great reason for rating images, but I think trying to decide whether an image deserves 2, 3, or 4 stars slows the process. Because I’m looking for a few frames that are a decisive “Yes!”, I’ve found rating them makes me look for the wrong thing.

I appreciate hearing about other creative people’s processes and approaches. A lot of these things, we kind of figure out on our own, but others may have developed more effective methods to do the same thing.

I totally am a “delete the bad stuff” editor, with my first round of edits simply clearing out the out of focus or poorly exposed or unnecessary duplicates. A second pass clears out boring and blah. Then I select my pool of images to edit (which is probably too many 😉).

As in everything, working with more intentionality yields better results, though it is harder. I like his mindset of thinking of a collection of photos from a trip as a body of work — this is probably similar to my thinking when I’m constructing an excursion blog post, where I try to curate a representative selection of photos, but if some shots are too similar I might remove one. In the comments, Jon Revere shares his perspective of framing a story, which sometimes means including less than great shots. This resonates with the approach I took to my 2021 photography and writing project Sense Memory.

I am unclear from his description: how many images does he delete? Does he save copies of all his photos to revisit in the future, or only the select best? Are there still 30k photos from that trip on his hard drive?

Lifestyle Personal Growth

Create space for yourself

Liked Creating space for our productivity (

I see rest as synonymous with creating space for myself.

Opening space is the key; filling your time leaves your mind no room of its own. I am often guilty of feeding the dopamine machine with more instead of granting myself time to process — finishing one book and jumping straight into the next. This mind garden helps with that tendency, though doesn’t eliminate it entirely.

Getting Shit Done Writing

Read The 12 Week Year for Writers

Read The 12 Week Year for Writers

In this book we show writers how to use the 12 Week Year system to help them increase their productivity dramatically. The 12WY for Writers system, based on the principles of the 12 Week Year and honed over many years of helping students learn to write more effectively, is a strategic operating system for writers. The system helps writers answer the most fundamental and big picture questions: What is my vision for the future? What are my writing goals? What are the best strategies and tactics to achieve those goals? How can I manage my writing process to ensure that I stay focused, productive, and on track?

While the examples primarily draw from academia, the structure is also applicable to fiction writing. This book won’t help you figure out the steps of your writing project, but does seem very helpful for *accomplishing* the steps. I have some quibbles about his emphasis on grit, but agree with his overall philosophy of time >> writing and planning >> better, easier, faster writing.

I am excited to try out this approach in conjunction with Sarra Cannon’s Plan Your Writing Schedule workshop on YouTube, which starts by going through your calendar and identifying all the days you *can’t* write so you know exactly how many days are even available to you.

Reflection Writing

National Novel Writing Month 2022 recap

I didn’t quite make it to the midpoint of my book this month — three more scenes left! — nor did I hit 50k as I originally planned. I could have pushed through the holiday weekend and squeezed in another 5k, but since I plan to keep this pace up for the next month, I decided not to risk burning myself out — just as I decided not to push through without an outline last week. Nevertheless, I am extremely happy with how November’s writing went; I wrote 44k (mostly useful) words of my book, staying on target word count, without burning myself out.

Reflection Writing

NaNoWriMo 2022 Day 7

I’m falling into a rhythm of two blocks of writing a day, one in the morning / mid-day, the other after dinner. Today I did my usual 3-hour Cave, writing for two and a half hours and outlining for another half hour. Then in the evening I hopped on Discord with a friend and after shooting the shit for an hour and a half, we got to writing. I put in three more pomodoros, though the pace was a bit slower than previous days and by eleven I was definitely fading.

I’ve stretched this scene twice as long as it needs to be already, and am not quite done yet 😭 Hopefully another five hundred words will get me there tomorrow.

I know I haven’t done a good enough job conveying the female MC’s misbelief, so I could either try adding it in tomorrow while I’m finishing the scene, or could make myself a note and save it for revision. That’s probably the smarter approach, especially since this scene’s gotten a bit rambly and will need to be pared down. I tend to write long 🤷‍♀️ And then want to add in revision 😆

I’m at the point where I’ve caught up with my outline, so I need to either alternate back and forth between outlining and writing prose or commit to some no-prose days to get down a bunch of outline. There is some benefit to doing it right before I write it — then it’s fresh in my mind — but I am finding that I’m getting a bit too buried in the prose and perhaps having a little more outline would steer me towards the finish line a little faster. For the next chapter, I’m going to try preparing the entire outline first, before writing any prose. Between that, finishing the chapter worksheet, and wrapping up this first scene, I probably won’t have time to actually write prose for chapter two tomorrow.

To some extent this is the easy stuff I’m writing now, since I’ve already had it in my mind for some time. I have an Excel level outline (one or two sentences) for the coming chapters, but haven’t put as much time into imagining those scenes yet, so they’ll need more prep work than these two.

Reflection Writing

NaNoWriMo 2022 Day 6

I started the day with a three-block Cave, but after the first work block I finished writing the flashback scene I was working on, and now am on to *gulp* real scenes!!!! I also hit ten thousand words today, so that’s probably a nice amount of pre-writing to get into the headspace of my MCs before writing something pivotal.

I spent the next couple blocks updating my chapter planning worksheet with questions and prompts from writing books I’ve read over the last few months (The Last Draft, The Emotional Craft of Fiction, Structuring Your Novel Workbook). Then I started filling it out for the first two chapters, as well as planning the setting and sensory details to include. (I particularly like the 5-4-3-2-1 sensory planning approach from C.L. Polk.) I like doing planning chapters in advance both as a way to think through what’s going to happen, but also to remind myself of the purpose, stakes, and goal of the scene so I can keep that front of mind as I draft prose.

I broke till after dinner, then came back for another pomodoro of planning, and finally a pomodoro of outlining. I’ve been thinking about this scene for months — which is the meet-cute (as such as it is in a space opera between enemies) — and really want to do it justice. I have just a few pivotal moments in the scene planned out, but needed to think through how she’d get from point A to point B.


Share your processes

Watched How An Algorithm Could Have Stopped The Nuclear Arms Race by Geoff Barrett from

The Fast Fourier Transform is used everywhere but it has a fascinating origin story that could have ended the nuclear arms race.

Someone discovered this important technique 150(ish?) years before it was published — but the only place the scientist included it was in their “collected works vol 3,” in Latin, so basically no one knew about it.

You never know when the “quick trick” you’ve figured out could help someone else have a breakthrough 🤷‍♀️


Read The Last Draft

Read The Last Draft: A Novelist’s Guide to Revision

his wise and friendly guide shows writers how to turn first-draft manuscripts into the novels of their dreams. A critic, longtime teacher, and award-winning novelist, Sandra Scofield illustrates how to reread a work of fiction with a view of its subject and vision, and how to take it apart and put it back together again, stronger and deeper. Scofield builds her explanations around helpful concepts like narrative structure, character agency, and core scenes, using models from classic and contemporary writers. The detailed, step-by-step plan laid out in The Last Draft offers invaluable advice to both novice and experienced writers alike. In Scofield, they will find a seasoned, encouraging mentor to steer them through this emotional and intellectual journey.

Skimmed a lot. Broken into sections, several of which were not pertinent or helpful to me. I gleaned the most from the second section, on actually making revisions. Parts three and four, about finishing and polishing the book, were embarrassingly short. It would have worked better to format this as a workbook rather than a fully prose work with some bulleted lists. I did take quite a number of notes.

She recommends keeping a revision log, with entries after each work session logging what changes you made, how you feel about it, and questions you currently have.

Art and Design

Questions for inclusive design

Bookmarked Another Lens (

Together with News Deeply, our design research team put together a set of guiding principles and exercises. These help designers address skewed perspectives in order to create thoughtful, inclusive work.

Our tool, Another Lens, poses a set of questions to help you balance your bias, consider the opposite, and embrace a growth mindset.