grant opportunities
[collaborative spaces]




Urmila Venkatesh

By Alan Bush

“I believe that everyone has a great story to tell, and often people don’t realize their own narrative gift. I like to tell others’ stories, but more often, I like to empower others to believe their story is worth sharing. Especially when it challenges a narrative being told by a more powerful entity.”

Thus Urmila explains her passion for visual ethnographies, or the art and practice of studying particular communities and representing them visually. While primarily a photographer, she dabbles in drawing to bring to life South Asian communities in urban areas of the US. Recent work has examined “how immigrants root themselves in public spaces to create ethnic enclaves and centers of community.”
Art and community are important themes, one’s that Urmila would like to continue after her studies, either educating on or employing art as a tool for community empowerment, or developing collaborative learning centers within universities. “The Digital Media Commons is a great example of the kind of initiative I am interested in.”

When asked what figure from history she would most like to talk with, she replied, “Raghubir Singh documented his native India in an unparalleled style, with a profound ability to translate movement and power and noise into a still image.” If she had the chance to sit and talk over dinner, she would quiz him on his thoughts behind the published work, “particularly about the Western gaze, about India in a colonial and post-colonial age, about what it means to make photographs as an insider or an outsider.”

Posted in Featured People by linda on the February 27th, 2009

Alan Bush

by Urmila Venkatesh

A member of the GROCS team called ReFab, Alan is a graduate student in the School of Natural Resources. He studies Sustainable Systems, while also taking advantage of the resources in the department of Urban Planning and the Center for Complex Systems. Alan’s overarching goal is to address the needs for our urban spaces to become truly sustainable, and he hopes to identify the institutions that can, or already do, work towards this goal.

Alan grew up in Mentor, Ohio, a rustbelt town surrounded by a variety of ecological and human-made systems, and became fascinated with the relationships between these two environments. Alan moved to Southern California to attend Pomona College, majoring in a very unique concentration: Integrated Political and Economic Systems in Historical Context. Despite his Midwestern roots, he took to eternal sunshine with ease.

Alan’s fascination with the natural landscape frames the list of places he’d like to visit or return to. In addition to Malawi, Australia, and Namibia, Alan names Botswana’s Okavongo Delta and the Sundarban Islands in India as destinations that gave him “a penchant for seeing disappearing ecosystems before they are no more.” This exploratory urge is not limited to locations abroad; if he had access to a car, and an extra day in the weekend, he would be found exploring abandoned areas in Detroit. Lacking a car, however, he is happy to settle for a breakfast of Washtenaw Dairy Ice Cream and a snowy game of Frisbee golf.

Posted in Featured People by linda on the February 27th, 2009

Jon Cohen

by Tami

Jon is a masters student in Human-Computer Interaction.  He was born and grew up in Brooklyn.  His GROCS project is about the potential of mobile devices for learning and how people can learn about how to compose music while collaborating on a group track.  He came to U of M to learn about theory and apply it in coursework.  He wants to work at an interactive agency, startup, or software company when he graduates.

Posted in Featured People by on the February 4th, 2009


by Jon Cohen

Tami, whose full name is Sentagi Sestoya Utami, is a violin-playing pre-doctoral candidate in Architectural Acoustics.  Tami is from Indonesia and her name translates into “a perfect chain of diamonds”.  She received a Fulbright Scholarship to get her masters in Acoustic Physics at Brigham Young University, and received her undergraduate degree in Architecture from an “old, big” government-run university in Indonesia.  She became an instructor there and is taking time off from work to pursue higher education.  Tami has three children, ages 9, 7, and 7 weeks.  For breakfast this morning she had rice with stir-fried vegetables and fried chicken.

Posted in Featured People by on the February 4th, 2009
GROCS: grant opportunities - collaborative spaces

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