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Maggie Kane: On the role of creativity when helping marginalised communities in capitalistic systems

Maggie Kane is an academic, a self-learner, an activist and an artist. She works in user experience design, illustration, technology accessibility, interaction design but you can also meet her at hacker events, in a workshop building arcade cabinets, in non-profit maker spaces or in any venue where communities get together to solve concrete problems that their local government seems to be unwilling to dedicate efforts and funding to solve.

activist and an artist

The list of community aid projects Maggie Kane plays an active role in is too long to copy so I’ll just mention a couple: She is the lead (volunteer) designer and fabricator for Free99Fridge, a free public food shelter project in Atlanta that feeds dozens of families in need each day. The six shelters host “solidarity fridges” that are placed outside local businesses and are filled with fresh fruits and vegetables for people to pick up. She’s also a (volunteer) art and educational program manager for The Bakery Atlanta, a multi-use community space in Atlanta run by a collective of creative thinkers aligned around social justice principles, environmental concerns and art. As if that were not enough, Maggie is also the (volunteer) technical producer for Nourish Botanica (formerly Nourishinblack), a greenhouse eatery project that doubles as a space to explore storytelling, healing and land reparations for Black farmers in Atlanta.

She’s both incredibly creative and resolutely down to earth. I discovered her work very recently through the The School of Machines, Making & Make Believe where she’s preparing to run online classes on the theme of Modelling for mutual aid. Toolkit for building supportive networks. I’ve since been wondering how she can be so active on so many fronts on her professional life AND find time to work with marginalised communities and support several mutual aid projects in Atlanta. The easiest way to discover her secret was to trap her in a Skype conversation:

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Teaching art classes at The Bakery. Image courtesy of Maggie Kane

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Hi Maggie! How did you get into mutual aid projects? Did it start with a personal experience?

I got into community tech work when I was studying sociology at the university. I was doing some research for a professor and we got a grant to do a comparative study on historical data from this neighbourhood I lived in in New Orleans. I looked at the data and started to visit several addresses. I thought I’d just talk to people but when I started discussing with the people who were there, I met a black man whose grandfather had started a barbershop in the neighbourhood. He was frustrated that people like him didn’t get any funding when they were struggling so much in this neighbourhood whereas a white student from university got money to talk to him about his life. To him, that was not the kind of help people in the neighbourhood needed. His name was Stan and I ended working with Stan on a project because I realised he was right: projects like the one I was working on do not really support the people and the communities that we want to work in.

I’m a very academic person, I love reading, I love philosophising but ultimately, I was very disappointed by academia. Doing a research on a population doesn’t help them. I started asking myself: Why don’t you just go to these people and do something with them that directly benefits them?

Bakery Atlanta
New Orleans DIY education organisation. Photo courtesy of Maggie Kane

New Orleans DIY education organisation. Photo courtesy of Maggie Kane

In any case, after that first research project was completed, I ended up doing a lot of work at a community centre that was just next door to Stan’s barbershop. I started by listening to people and listening to my neighbours about their problems. That was very different from being this privileged person coming in and trying to affect change. That’s how I found out that many people in the community didn’t have basic technical literacy skills, they didn’t know how to use a computer even though they needed to be able to use one to do essential things such as applying for a job. I ended up building up programming that adjust pretty easy problems people encountered when they were in front of a computer. I first partnered with that neighbourhood centre then with a library. I started approaching this type of community space. That was in 2011 and, over time, I partnered with more community spaces, first in New Orleans and then in Atlanta when I moved there in 2014.

I actually don’t have a tech background. My background is in research and arts. I didn’t want to go back to university, I wanted to see how I could learn by myself and try and be a better human. I got involved in Meetup groups, visited hacker spaces and discovered free tech community resources that allowed me to learn development skills, electronic skills without having to pay tens of thousands of dollars to learn that type of skills.

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Teaching art classes at The Bakery. Image courtesy of Maggie Kane

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Teaching art classes at The Bakery. Image courtesy of Maggie Kane

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Organising DIY synth and electronics classes with instructors from the community. Photo courtesy of Maggie Kane

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Organising DIY synth and electronics classes with instructors from the community. Photo courtesy of Maggie Kane

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Teaching electronics. Photo courtesy of Maggie Kane

You are involved in many mutual aid projects. But you also have a career as a designer and you’re often busy working on hacking projects. So how do you make time when clearly you have so little of it? And why is it important for you to volunteer in mutual aid projects when you have so many excuses to do something else?

I genuinely enjoy helping other people with my skills and sometimes I get something out of it too. For a while, I was organising educational programming at a maker space / hacker space. I would organise classes that I wanted to learn so that participants and I would learn from each other. Over time, this relationship building process of working with people outside of monetary resources taught me about exchange and about sharing with other people.

I often say that I feel like I am a video game character. It’s like a RPG where I have a certain amount of time in a day. I have these 24 units of 1 hour. Then I have a series of skill sets that I built, the character that I built and I focus how my time should be spent. I also try to avoid burn-out which affects so many people involved in community aid projects at some point. I look for little triggers like back pain or simply fatigue. Every human being only has so much emotional capacity. Experience, however, has helped me be more efficient and detect faster what works and what doesn’t.

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Organising DIY synth and electronics classes with instructors from the community. Photo courtesy of Maggie Kane

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Organising DIY synth and electronics classes with instructors from the community. Photo courtesy of Maggie Kane

What is the place of art, imagination and creativity when developing and manage mutual aid projects?

Creativity plays a huge role!

You have to be creative to operate in this capitalistic system. You have to find all kinds of walk arounds and work with pretty much no assistance from the government.

Mutual aid is different from charity. Charity has a more top-down value, a trickle-down spirit where rich people are able to decide the type of people who need help and resources. In mutual aid, however, everyone comes together. For me, creativity involves being able to work with resources in an alternate fashion, finding alternate means for distribution.

The pandemic has made the need for mutual aid projects more visible than ever. Yet, one of its main components, the ability to physically be together, is now challenged by the safety measures. How can communities and participants of MAP face this new situation?

We lost an element of being together. In DIY spaces, for example, we can’t have shows anymore. We can’t come together and have community in-person conversations. On the other hand, as someone who is a self-taught technologist, I’d like people to get more into technology because it allows for more equitable access to information. Now there is this pressure to be more online and I’m glad about that. In the past, people were only using technology to promote in-person activities.

I’m involved in Free99Fridge. I’m the lead designer and builder for these free food shelters that we have around Atlanta. You can find these fridges all over the world and we have 6 of them in Atlanta. Many people are interested in the initiative and want to build their own. But the drawback for other people is that they don’t have the fabrication skills that I have or the knowledge of how to build a structure like I do. So I’ve been working on creating a very comprehensive guide for people who have never done construction before, never used a saw, etc. I want to make it very easy for people to know exactly what kind of material they have to buy from the hardware store, the type of tools they need, the type of processes that will help them build the food shelter. I’m a huge fan of open source projects. I’m trying to bring more art tech projects and mutual aid projects to an open source format so they can be more widely distributed in the whole world. Versus just in the circle of a few communities that are physically near each other.

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Atlanta Free99Fridge. Image courtesy of Maggie Kane

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Atlanta Free99Fridge. Image courtesy of Maggie Kane

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Atlanta Free99Fridge. Image courtesy of Maggie Kane

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Atlanta Free99Fridge. Image courtesy of Maggie Kane

Latisha Springer
Atlanta Free99Fridge. Image courtesy of Maggie Kane

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Atlanta Free99Fridge. Image courtesy of Maggie Kane

I didn’t realise you needed a structure for the fridges! I saw some of them in the South of France and I naively assumed that you just had to plug in a fridge and put it in the street.

It depends on where you are. Here in Atlanta, when we first put a fridge outside, someone stole it within a day. Security is important. We have to make sure that the fridge is secure. In another location, we even put a microwave and someone tried to steal it so I had to make a new box for the microwave to be in. You need to figure out what your community is like and what its needs are.

The fridges are accessible 24/7. Because the city is so horrible in terms of working with unhoused people or people who need food. There is an actual legislation that says that you can get a citation if you get caught feeding people on the streets.

Latisha Springer the founder of Free99Fridge visited several businesses that have publicly accessible spots around their premises in order to avoid putting the fridge on city property. The businesses sponsor the electricity and by putting the fridges on their properties, we avoid getting into any kind of problem with the city. Our city actively fights against unhoused / homeless people. You see people walking around the street and you know the city doesn’t take care of them in any way. People are living under the bridges and the city recently put rocks there to make it too uncomfortable for people to sleep and shelter there. You are constantly fighting against these measures. As a creative person, I feel compelled to work on these types of problems rather than on aesthetic problems. Producing something for a gallery or for a middle-class and upper-class audience doesn’t make any sense to me. I find it more meaningful to help solve actual problems.

This is going to sound naive but have you tried speaking with people who are in charge in Atlanta? With people working at the local government?

I know one politician: Park Cannon. She is a state representative and she’s a queer identifying Black woman. She’s pretty progressive and ready to listen and to share information.

Apart from her, I’d say that the Atlanta city council and the Atlanta government are inherently corrupt. If you look at their actions and compare them with their promises, you realise how bad the situation is. And if you think about the Black Lives Matter protests of last Summer and how the government pushed back, how violent the police were to people who were just trying to vocalise their concerns, you see how difficult it is to continue to put in the effort and energy to try and convince these people when it seems that their actions are so self-serving. I haven’t had faith in the government since I started working on this type of projects. If I apply for grants to work on community air projects, I usually don’t get it. I’d rather spend the time doing a fund raiser with my community in order to develop new opportunities. It’s hard because we are in a system where capitalism always prevails over communities and profits over people. All day every day.

Who or what were your sources of inspiration when it comes to Mutual Aid Projects?

One project I find amazing is Precious Plastic which was started by Dave Hakkens. You can go to their website and download blueprints and instructions to build shredding machines and melting machines to recycle plastic and turn them into new objects. Dave tries to help other makers build these tools themselves.

I want to give a shout out to Couchsurfing. It allowed me to travel around Europe in a non-capitalistic way and to connect with great people.

A local project I really like is Queer Threads. It’s a project started by Southern Fried Queer Pride and it focuses on black creativity but it is also supporting queer people. It’s a pop up thrift store specifically for queers and trans people. A lot of the time, people who are transitioning really struggle to pay for the whole process, for new clothes and other things that will help them achieve their new identity. But now you can go to Queer Threads and buy clothes super cheap. It’s both economically-friendly and a great way to offer social support for some members of the community.

Maggie Kane Hi Maggie
Photo courtesy of Maggie Kane

Thanks Maggie!

Maggie Kane’s course Modelling for mutual aid. Toolkit for building supportive networks is organised by The School of Machines, Making & Make Believe. The classes will take place online every Saturday from 20 February until 20 March 2021.

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Stans barbershop

How to Sell Travel Photos and Turn Your Memories into Cash

One way to make money while you’re stuck between the four walls of your home: take a trip down memory lane.

If you travelled a lot prior to the pandemic, dig through your old photos. Pause when you find the ones that take your breath away.

You can sell those breathtaking photographs, bringing in a little side income even while your travel plans are grounded. Here’s how to sell travel photos.

Sell Your Travel Photos to a Stock Agency

When you sell your travel photos to a stock agency, you’ll upload a high-resolution version of your image to their website. Then, the agency connects those shopping for images with your work. For each photo sold, you’ll earn a royalty.

Because you’re often signing away some of the rights to your photography when you work with a stock agency, be careful to pick the right agency the first time. You usually won’t be able to list your images on more than one site.

There are many microstock agencies that pay pennies for each photo sold. Instead, check out these five sites that pay $100+ per photo.

Sell Your Photos to Travel Magazines

Before publishing moved predominantly online, selling photos to travel magazines was a lucrative venture. Today you likely won’t be able to build a career on travel magazine photography alone, but you can bring in some side hustle income.

Most photographers aren’t going to break into major magazines like National Geographic, especially on their first try. But a practical alternative is looking for local magazines based in the places you have traveled.

For example, if you took a trip to the Adirondacks and got some gorgeous shots, you could submit them to Adirondack Life. This magazine pays between $75 and $400 per image.

If you have compelling images from your sojourn in the Nevada desert, Nevada Magazine may be interested in them. Here, you’ll make $25-$250 per image.


Get Paid to Photograph Campsites

HipCamp is the Airbnb of campsites. And just like on Airbnb, the people who list their properties on HipCamp could use the help of a photographer. Visually appealing listings get booked more often.

HipCamp works with photographers — including amateurs — to facilitate this photography service. Here’s what photographers get for visiting a campsite and providing their services:

  • $75-$100 cash compensation per campsite.
  • Free stay on the property.
  • Ability to bring others along with you on your trip.

You have to submit 15-20 photos per campsite. Prior experience isn’t mandatory, but the end product must be high-quality, and your equipment has to be quality, too.


Sell Prints or Novelty Items

Another way to make money off of your travel photography is by selling prints or novelty items with your photograph printed on them.

Smugmug, for example, allows you to sell your photography on coffee mugs, magnets, coasters, ceramic tiles and more. You can also sell photo prints, and you get to keep 85% of the profit.

If you want to keep even more of the profits, you can sell your photography on Etsy. Etsy pays you 96.5% of each sale minus $0.20. On Etsy, you’ll either have to make all novelty items yourself or enlist the help of a drop shipper who also offers printing services.

Pro Tip

Remember: You can boost your sales on all platforms by marketing your work on social media.

Brynne Conroy is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

Revenge Reunion Organizer Says Christa B. Allen Will "Absolutely" Be Invited After Apparent Snub

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The post How to Get a Low-Interest Personal Loan appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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Are You Experiencing Work Burnout? We Can Help

We’ve all had a bad day at work. But when you start having one bad day after another and find yourself quick to anger, tired, and constantly overwhelmed, you may be experiencing work burnout. You’re not alone. 

A gallop survey found 76% of workers feel burned out sometimes, and 28% are experiencing work burnout ‘very often’ or ‘always’ at work.

Whether your boss wants to accept it or not, work burnout is a thing, and, clearly, signs of burnout are trending upward.

What is work burnout?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), burnout is a syndrome resulting from unmanaged chronic workplace stress.

Throw in a pandemic and it gets worse. The pressure is on. With essential workers clocking overtime and more people working from home, the ‘always on’ work culture is in full effect causing work-related stress, anxiety, and cynicism.

There are many different causes of work burnout. Here are a few:

  • Unclear job expectations
  • Lack of control over your schedule or workload
  • Stressful workplace dynamics
  • Poor work-life balance
  • Working too much 

Signs and symptoms of work burnout

Work burnout is characterized by exhaustion, negativity, or cynicism about your job and a general feeling of a lack of accomplishment. But it’s not always obvious. Burnout can creep up on us and manifest in different ways for different people. Here are some of the most common signs of work burnout. 

  • Your performance is going downhill. Probably because your ‘care and effort levels’ are skidding right along with your performance.
  • You feel exhausted all the time. It doesn’t matter how much sleep you get or how much coffee drink, you just can’t seem to perk yourself up. Exhaustion could be caused by a range of things like depression, poor diet, lack of exercise, bad sleeping patterns, or physical illness. Feeling tired isn’t always burnout but if you’re experiencing consistent work stress, it could be.
  • You’re struggling to get excited about anything. When people are overworked, passion goes out the window. If you couldn’t care less about the things that once gave you joy … work burnout.
  • You aren’t putting in the effort anymore. When you don’t feel excited about anything it can lead to a serious case of apathy. You might still do the work, but the bare minimum is all you have the energy for. 
  • You’ve become more cynical or critical at work. While it’s therapeutic to complain once in a while, cynicism and negativity are common signs of work burnout. 

Short and long-term fixes for work burnout

If left unchecked, burnout can elevate fast. Even if you take a break from work, you’re just returning to the source of the burnout afterward. 

You might not be able to cure burnout today, but you can take steps to ease the stress while you work on those long-term solutions. 

Short-term solutions

1. Turn to others

One way to tackle burnout includes seeking support from others, such as family, friends, or even colleagues. If your job runs an employee assistance program, look into it. If the source of your stress is to do with workplace processes, then working with management on solutions is one way to tackle it. 

2. Embrace healthy habits

While it doesn’t address the root cause of burnout, learning how to manage stress is so important in staying sane. There are plenty of different activities and habits you can start to deal with stress. There’s exercise, spending time in nature, getting enough sleep, yoga, meditation. Anything that gets your head out of your everyday work life is great. But let’s go beyond that…

3. Address anxiety today

A major cause of burnout is an underlying anxiety that bubbles below the surface and pops its ugly head out when things get tough. So, do you feel overwhelmed and anxious? Admitting that is a great first start, but what are you going to do about it?

Ramit’s approach to anxiety is about knowing when to let things go. It’s also about not waiting for inspiration to strike or waiting to “be in a better/more productive mood” to tackle your problems. 

Instead, it’s about taking real action, building systems to deal with anxiety. You probably already know what you need to do. But just focus on one or two things, and practice them daily. However, you decide to tackle anxiety, be consistent with it. Do it even on the bad days, no, especially on the bad days.

Long-term solutions

The problem with short-term solutions is that they often don’t really solve the root problem. It’s just patching up a hole in a sinking ship. Temporary relief is great, but to really treat burnout, long-term solutions are in order. If you are burnt out at work, you really only have two options: improve your current job or find a new one. 

Option 1: Improve your current job

A few ways you can ease burnout and improve your job include:

  • Negotiate a higher salary – We have a ton of resources on how to do this, including scripts you can use.
  • Negotiate for perks – If the work-life balance is the problem, negotiating for more vacation time, remote work, or flexible hours could help with the burnout. 
  • Ask for a transfer – If you can switch up your job role or even get a transfer to another department, this could help ease burnout due to lack of job satisfaction.

Option 2: Find a new job

If the above doesn’t work or your boss won’t work with you, it could be time to move on and make a career change. We know, scary stuff! But, it’s ultimately worth it if you can’t find happiness where you are now. 

Now, don’t just walk into another job without some careful thought first. If things don’t work out in your current job, that’s a great learning experience. What went wrong? Was it the environment, the work itself, the boss? Try to pinpoint what you hated and use that to fuel your search for your dream job

However, finding your dream job is not easy, but Ramit always has your back. Check out our Dream Job program to learn more about how you can systematically find a job that makes you excited to go to work every Monday. 

For those dealing with work-related anxiety, stress, depression, and burnout, the Substances Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a handy hotline you can call for times of crisis. Visit SAMHSA. 

Are You Experiencing Work Burnout? We Can Help is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

Target: Deals for the week of January 24-30, 2021

Looking for all the best weekly Target deals? Check out this list of the hottest deals you’ll find in-store this week!

Target Weekly Deals

Here are some of the best deals at Target this week, with thanks to Passionate Penny Pincher for her help in compiling them:

Perfect Snacks Peanut Butter – $2.49

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ZenWtr Vapor Distilled Alkaline Water, 33 oz – $1.89

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Ortega Taco Seasoning – $0.75

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Yoplait Yogurt – $0.59

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Chobani Complete Greek Yogurt – $1

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Muir Glen Tomatoes – starting at $0.89

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M&M’s Chocolate Bars – $1.39

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Annie’s Mac & Cheese – $1.19

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Noosa Yogurt – $1.69

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Birds Eye Frozen Vegetables – $0.99

Star Kist Creations – $0.99

See the full list of deals at Target this week here.

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