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CMAP Student Spotlight: Stanley Dominique, 2017–18 Cohort

March 16, 2018

*Stanley Dominique has been a long time organizer, artist, and community advocate in the city of Boston. A graduate of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth with a B.A degree in Graphic Design, he has dedicated a career in the nonprofit sector working with a number of organizations on a variety of issues. Topics that he has worked on range from substance abuse, violence prevention, trauma response, HIV education, public safety, and youth development. He has joined CMAP to further explore the role of art and media technology and how it can be used as a tool to empower and engage communities. Through that lens, he hopes to bring back tools to provide a platform for the public to engage and inspire discussions with actions that help create social change that transfers into policy.*

*Could you talk about the path that brought you to CMAP? *I was a longtime facilitator and community advocate in the non-profit sector. I often created workshops for families, young people, and those looking to become engaged in their community though civics. I soon felt like I needed a new environment to step into. I wanted to learn about new media tools and technology that were being used to address community related issues. I had studied Graphic Design during my undergrad, and often incorporated much of what I learned of visual communication into my work in the non-profit sector. I wanted to go back to grad school and continue to explore other people based designs and its impact on our civic culture.

*What does civic media mean to you? *Civic media is a very layered and complicated term. It is still such a young field to have such a singular definition. For me, civic media has been about the analysis of the societal culture and norms to help identify an issue, topic, or problem that may need assistance, disruption, or to be highlighted. Through the lens of media, technology, and design, civic media can provide the community a level of accessibility that creates engagement. It helps to tackle an issue through tangible tools and actions that the community can then utilize for self-determination.

> > Civic media has been about the analysis of the societal culture and norms to help identify an issue, topic, or problem that may need assistance, disruption, or to be highlighted.

*What is one change you would like to see in the world? *There are too many issues that I would love to see change in this world to just limit myself to one. However I think the one thing that I would love to see more of is the acknowledgment of the contributions that people of color have made to the design and science community. Representation is very important to me and often times our stories are regulated to a supporting role when we were often a significant factor in a discovery or tech development. I would love to see more of these stories from the past and present shared to counter the narrative that people of color don’t exist in these fields.

*What would you want the civic media community to know about you? *My dedication to creating opportunities around equity and access is a lifelong commitment. I have always had a deep passion for making sure that communities of color are not only informed on the issues and the tools at hand, but that they always have a seat at the table for any important decision making process that will affect them and their future.

*Are there any specific projects that you’ve done in the past that intersect with your studies now? *Media literacy has always played a large role in the work that I did when I worked with young people. We always took time to discuss their consumption of media and technology. Media is constantly shifting and at every opportunity we wanted to engage them in deep conversation around what they were watching. What was the message being told? Who is the messenger? Is that reflective of the environment you live in, and if not what are you doing to counter that narrative? Much of this type of work is the foundation that led me to the CMAP program.

How do you define engagement? What does being engaged mean to you?Engagement is a participatory process. It means being invested on both sides of the aisle. If I’m dealing with somebody, I’m not just directing them on where to go, I am making a direct connection to a service. If I’m working with you and you need assistance, I’m would not say ‘go to this building over there’ or ‘go talk to so and so and they’ll handle it’. That would be a cold handoff, and most of the time those interactions are not successful. My actions would be, okay, let’s sit down and have a conversation. What are you looking for? Let me introduce you to the person you’re going to be working with. Make sure you two have a rapport, make sure that you understand what is happening, what you need to do, and what they need to do. Then I would follow up with that person to make sure they got what they were looking for. That is what is called a warm hand off. Engagement to me is really about being involved from the beginning to the end of that process.

*What are some of your favorite pieces of media? *I really appreciate digital content and the various ways that online video is being used to tell stories. The accessible technology that digital cameras and smartphones have provided is really helpful in capturing new and exciting narratives. It is allowing the creative process of storytelling to be taken to another level by making the creative tools accessible for anyone to use. I’m always impressed with what people can do with their everyday items, and I’m interested in seeing what direction this form of online storytelling will evolve into.

*What’s one fun fact most people don’t know about you? *I’m a comic book fanatic. I grew up collecting as a kid and was fascinated with how often the medium addressed social and political issues affecting various communities. It was one of the earliest examples for me of how media, in this instance print media, could bring light to an issue and educate others who were not familiar with these topics. It was empowering to know that art, even in the form of escapism, could create a dialogue that could have easily been ignored in other channels.

Learn more about Civic Media, Art & Practice.

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