Hey internet we could use your help.

There seem to be escalating situations everywhere we turn these days.

Last night at Lincoln Center in NYC, we took another step in the development of the De-Escalation Room, a prototype the Digital Storytelling Lab is building with the Columbia University School of Social Work’s SAFE Lab. The evening consisted of a Fireside chat w/ Elliott P Montgomery of The Extrapolation Factory and Rachel Ginsberg of the ColumbiaDSL. Then we broke into groups for a workshop that mixed speculative design and elements of the Theatre of the Oppressed.

Fireside chat on Speculative Design followed by collaborative session on near-future situations that touch on escalation and de-escalation.

A Collaborative Experiment

What if we built an environment that modeled negative conversations and behaviors found on social media platforms and in the real world? Inside of this environment, situations quickly escalate. But this time, we would be able to do something about it.

Imagine a space where a diversity of participants work together through story, play, design and collaboration to de-escalate situations that stem from misunderstanding and polarization. To create this “De-Escalation Room” we’ll harness emerging technologies, collaborative methodologies and field research to design and build an innovative empathic simulation that is a learning environment that can scale.

Designing With & For

This is not about us coming up with solutions for youth. Instead this is an opportunity for youth to be involved throughout the design, construction and running of the De-Escalation Room. In addition we’re working with SAFE Lab to embody their research and create tools that can spark creative solutions by youth and for youth.

Youth co-design solutions at a recent Columbia DSL Think & Do session

“The SAFE Lab is a research initiative focused on examining the ways in which youth of color navigate violence on and offline. Drawing on computational and social work approaches to research, we engage in qualitative and natural language processing methods to understand the mechanisms of violence and how to prevent and intervene in violence that occurs in neighborhoods and social media environments. Designed to be an open creative framework that enables youth.”

Youth from Impact, an arts activism focused after school program, perform at a recent Columbia DSL Think & Do session

De-Escalation Room at NYFF Convergence

We’re working towards a prototype that will be staged for the public at the New York Film Festival. The De-Escalation Room, like all of our Columbia Digital Storytelling Lab prototypes, is open to all and will be released under a creative commons license for people to share and remix.

We’re actively looking for collaborators.

Upcoming opportunities to collaborate include

1. Mentor, volunteer or stop by our fall class at Columbia University where my students will be working with youth to design and prototype the De-Escalation Room over the course of the semester. Class starts 9/11 and takes place in the evenings. Interested? Please complete this collaboration form.

2. Join us for Story I/O on Saturday, September 23rd — a special day dedicated to building transformative learning experiences with story, play, design and code. This is a FREE event but space is limited to 90 participants. To find out more, visit; http://www.digitalstorytellinglab.com/story-io/

3. Join our Columbia DSL meetup group. At our next meetup on Wednesday, September 25th we’ll explore interaction design and the Theatre of the Oppressed.

3. Are you a creative coder, storyteller, performer, maker, hacker, activist, social worker, educator and/or person who wants to be part of an awesome collaboration? We’d love to hear from you. If you’re interested please complete this collaboration form.

4. Are you part of a organization that would like to collaborate? Please complete this collaboration form.