The Oldest Women’s Center is Still Running Today!

Image of the occupation of 888 Mass Ave, a protest demanding that Harvard provide funding to open a women's center. 1971.

Image of the occupation of 888 Mass Ave, a protest demanding that Harvard provide funding to open a women's center. 1971.

Last week, I went to the Women’s Center to discover the roots of it and how it is functioning in our society today. Going back to the early 1970’s, there was a Harvard building that was occupied by a huge crowd of women. The 10-day event was known as the Occupation of 888 Memorial Drive became history. The women gathered together for their demands to be met, one of them was to have a Women’s Center. The wish became true through fundings and support from people who contributed to this. The Women’s Center looks like a regular house on the outside, but you should never judge a book by it cover. As I entered the center, I found that this place isn’t what I expected. Feelings like happiness took over me and I felt peaceful and empowered once I got a good look of the area. To be honest, the Women’s Center is pretty cool with lots of rooms used for many purposes. There is also a wide variety of different programs and discussions where people of the Cambridge and Boston community meet together. Examples of programs include Meditation and Yoga, and Artist Expression and Creativity. I noticed that the Women’s Center is a small comfortable place for women to gather around and escape from their daily lives’ conflicts and enjoy, stepping into a different world where they can recover from bad happenings and learn self defense in order to become empowered. The Women’s Center is what inspired my idea for an installation for the exhibition. The installation is a place where there are interactive activities and the background and display ensures tranquility. Overall, the installation idea is a reflection of the Women’s Center that I became creative with.

- Sidrah


MLK & The Civil Rights Movement

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaks to crowd on Boston Common on April 23, 1965. (AP)

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaks to crowd on Boston Common on April 23, 1965. (AP)

Back in the 50s and 60s there was fight/movement for african americans. This movement was caused because the government refused to give african americans equal rights. Therefore this resulted in violence, riots, and protests. This fight/movement for equal rights was called the civil rights movement it was led by the famous minister Martin Luther King. It started in 1954 and ended in 1968. The civil rights movement was a struggle for social justice for african americans in the united states. MLK made it so people could protest without violence, this set the tone of the movement. He led boycotts, protests, and marches that were very effective and much legislation was passed against racial discrimination. People from all over the country of all races and religions joined MLK and other activists to proclaim their support and commitment to freedom & equality. MLK made a speech that changed the world and everyone's view on the civil rights movement. This speech was called the “I Have A Dream Speech”. This brought Martin Luther King and his message of non violence to a nationwide and worldwide audience. His speech was carried on the radio and was reprinted in newspapers and magazines all over the united states. MLK’s speech made congress move faster in passing the civil rights act, this set of laws was finally passed in 1964. These laws gave african americans more equal treatment then they ever had before. After his speech Martin Luther King continued to speak for civil rights and nonviolence but he was assassinated in 1968 by James Earl Ray.   



Finding Out Cambridge’s Secrets One By One

Researchers Lwam, Jake, and Isaiah at the Cambridge Room.

Researchers Lwam, Jake, and Isaiah at the Cambridge Room.

During my time at Our Riverside we have talked about archives a lot because a really cool thing that we were given the opportunity to do is look at the Cambridge Community Centers’ own archive. From then on we went on two field trips that consisted of looking at Cambridge’s archives and gathering information about anything that might have been going on in Cambridge in 1968, which is our main focus this summer. The first trip we went on was to the Cambridge Public Library’s own personal archive. It had all different types of information about what Cambridge was like back then. Something that I really enjoyed was the pictures they had from back then as well as looking at the architectural aspect and how much it has changed in a matter of 50 years. It even had some old magazines from the high school's newspaper which was a really good way to see what the students school lives were like back then and what has changed along with how much it has changed. The other trip we went on was to the Cambridge Historical Commision. The CHC had a lot more information on Cambridge and it had a lot more information than what we were able to see at the library. The CHC was a real good way for us to find out more information on our specific topics that we are focusing on for our final projects. I was able to find out more information than I needed to about my topic which specifically had to do with anything that was affiliated with music from 1968 in Cambridge. Both field trips showed me a more meaningful and deeper part of Cambridge and that a lot of resources are open to me if I just put effort into finding them and making time for them. It helped me uncover more about Cambridge’s history which I probably wouldn’t have learned about from anywhere else, maybe even uncovering some secrets as well.


Interviewing The City Manager

Craig F. Walker/ Globe Staff/ File 2015

Craig F. Walker/ Globe Staff/ File 2015

The interviewing process that we go through during our program is very long. First, we have to do several practice interviews with our coworkers to prepare ourselves. Then, we choose our interviewees from a list our supervisors give to us based on our topic. I chose Richard Rossi. After that we email them, and if they respond, we arrange a time and place to meet. For that, I chose one of the reading rooms at the Cambridge Public Library. The man I chose to interview was Richard Rossi, a long time employee of the city and the recently retired city manager. He had a lot to say and I found it all very interesting. One thing, however, stuck with me. He said that we need to be respectful in government and that if we aren’t respectful we don’t get anywhere. In today’s society, it’s even more important to remember the words of Michelle Obama, “When they go low, we go high.” This long hard interviewing process taught me that we need to value the input of other people. And pay closer attention when learning to use the audio recorder!


Let's bring nature back to the city

Earlier in the program during the topic selection for our project, I chose urban gardening. After going through many resources about Cambridge history and the environment, I realized I couldn't make a project about urban gardening without including urban architecture and sustainably (which are closely interwoven with the concept of urban gardening).

I am now on a road to digging up more information which will direct me to the complete scope of urban gardening and how it can impact people's world in a positive way. When I feel like I have enough insight into this field, I plan on using the information I know to synthesize a project convincing people why urban gardening is important and why people should be more involved with it. I hope that my project will have a grand inpact on my community that has long forgotten about the importance of nature. Let's bring nature back to the city.

The following photos are what I have done so far for urban gardening in my community. Which cost me all of $0.



The very first video game was created over 50 years ago... but it is still very awesome!

Spacewar on the Computer History Museum's PDP-1. Creative Commons/Kenneth Lu.

Spacewar on the Computer History Museum's PDP-1. Creative Commons/Kenneth Lu.

In 1962 Steve Russell along with other MIT students developed Spacewar on the new computer called the PDP-1. It quickly drew in a niche audience of other university employees and students who had never seen anything like it. They would stay up late hosting competitions just playing spacewar, as the expanded and improved on the game.

On an strange circular screen with black and white graphics was a simple scene of two spaceships, a black hole, and a starry background. The objective was simple blow up your opponents ship. You could activate thrusters with limited fuel, and zip around the map. The black hole pulled the ships closer the center, the gravity getting stronger the closer you got to the middle. But if you were clever you could get a perfect trajectory and use the gravity to fling you around the vortex at unprecedented speeds, but the wrong angle would cause you to collide with death.

Torpedos can be fired at any time, as well as a hyperdrive which allowed you to instantly teleport anywhere on the screen, but at the more you use it, the more likely you are to blow up. It was controlled awkwardly with switches on the front and side of the computer. But they quickly developed the first video game controller just for spacewar! As you can see, this game is incredibly advanced for the time, due to the addiction and dedication of the ones who first played it.

This relates to my project at Our Riverside because I am researching inventions created in the 60’s specifically in MIT and how it impacted the cambridge community.



MIT Inventions and ICA Soundscapes

Researchers Lwam and Blu looking at a Kevin Beasley sculpture.

Researchers Lwam and Blu looking at a Kevin Beasley sculpture.

Researcher Isaiah looking at a painting by Caitlin Keogh.

Researcher Isaiah looking at a painting by Caitlin Keogh.

The past two weeks of the Our Riverside have moved rapidly and our researchers have seemingly done everything. From visiting Northeastern, to finalizing their elevator pitches about their  research project (which they’re presenting tonight), to visiting both the MIT Museum and the Institute of Contemporary Art/ Boston— it's been quite a lot. 

The two museum trips we took emerged as the final steps to help our researchers contextualize 1968, through art and technology. While we were exposed to many new ideas, (womanism and the beginnings of artificial intelligence, to name two), both the museums had another effect: they opened our eyes to the many different styles and elements of exhibitions we could possibly incorporate into our final exhibition. At the ICA and the MIT museum, we saw the power of archival display tables to guide and carry on complex narratives and stories throughout the exhibition, creating a sort of time line for the visitors to follow as they traverse the galleries. 

At the ICA, our researchers were particularly interested in the Kevin Beasley exhibit, which incorporated large-scale fabric and resin based sculptures and interactive sound installations. For many, it was their first time interacting with conceptual, sound based art. Continuing on into the middle and end of our program, I’m almost positive that we will incorporate some sort of sound art or audio piece into our exhibit.

Moving forward, as the youth narrow down their research questions they will begin post individual blog posts discussing their research. Next week Jake will be the first to post, writing about inventions from MIT in 1968.

Thanks for reading!

The Cambridge Room

Researchers Jake, Isaiah, Ezra, and research librarian Ann in the Cambridge room.

Researchers Jake, Isaiah, Ezra, and research librarian Ann in the Cambridge room.

After a whirlwind of a first week, with name games, introductions, and the daunting task of answering: What does 1968 have to do with us? We have started to settle into a regular routine and feel more comfortable asking in depth, open ended questions.

While still relatively early in the summer —for Our Riverside at least— our researchers have already begun to develop remarkable interests in the different happenings around Cambridge in 1968. These interests were only emboldened by a trip to the Cambridge Room at the main branch of the Cambridge Public Library. The Cambridge Room is an actively collecting, open archive, which documents Cambridge history with a strong emphasis on the mid 20th century.

Here's what peaked our interests:

Jake was particularly interested in comparing and contrasting the city's annual budgets from 1968 and 2018. While analyzing the budgets, he asked questions about what the city was prioritizing then vs. now, and how the budget has changed aesthetically.

Isaiah looked at a book which discussed the history of ghosts in Cambridge. Though the book focused mostly on ghosts from the 18th and 19th century, he wondered what kinds of folklore emerged in Cambridge during the 60s.

Sidrah investigated inventions in Cambridge and the early iterations of technology square. She discovered information about the potential placement of NASA in Cambridge in the 60s, and asked questions about how NASA could have benefitted the community, but also about how it could have negatively impact the industrial economy and working class people of Cambridge.

Blu discovered a book about the "Secret Gardens" of Cambridge, a walking tour which visits the homes of people with exquisite gardens for private view only. Her interest in gardening led her to investigate the history of community gardens in Cambridge, and to ask questions about the importance of access to fresh food.

Lwam was drawn to a series of photographs by Olive Pierce on display in the Cambridge Room, which documented the life of Cambridge adolescents in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. She noticed how Pierce's photography captured the relationships and interactions between black and white students at Cambridge Rindge and Latin, and how the testimonials provided with these photos bolstered their meaning.

And last but not least, Ezra read a Cambridge architectural survey about Cambridgeport from 1968. He noticed that one of the churches in Riverside had beautiful Queen Anne windows, which had not changed from 1886, to 1968, to 2018.

Thanks for reading, and make sure to check back with us next week to hear more about the development of our research projects, and the beginning of our oral history interviews!

Our Riverside Summer 2018: An introduction

Welcome to the Our Riverside blog! Each week, you will find new posts here documenting the work the OR youth research team conducts over the summer. These posts will include oral histories, findings from our archive, and reflections on the work we do-- all oriented around our summer 2018 provocation: What does 1968 have to do with us?

As the summer begins, our Lead Educator, Cathryn, and me, Cecelia, (the Community Education and Design intern), have brainstormed a few questions to guide us through our work.


  • How can I increase my understanding of how to work with archives in my teaching?
  • How can I support youth to feel connected to their local environment, and to know that they and their communities are part of history?


  • How can I increase my understanding and creativity with pedagogical methods?
  • How can I deepen my ability to engage with archival material?

Make sure to check back in the following weeks for posts from our youth research team and updates about the summer.

We look forward to sharing our summer journey and explorations with you!