Welcome back to “Meet the members”. With around 587 union members it’s a safe bet to say that we sure don’t all know one another, and each member certainly doesn’t know what all of the members of WLUSA do here at Laurier. This feature aims to alleviate that. It aims to shine the spotlight on one of our wonderful members to give everyone a chance to get to know them and to give them a chance to talk about the role that they play in the university. Let’s meet the next “Meet the members” interviewee, Darin White of the Laurier Library where he is the master of the makerspace, the Communications and Cultural Programming Associate:
So what exactly does the role of Communications and Cultural Programming Associate entail?
My role includes a wide variety of elements, in addition to the major undertaking of building out the brand-new makerspace in the Library, I handle photography; social media; event planning; running events and workshops; and a whole lot more.
And what’s one thing you really want everyone at Laurier to know about what you do in your job?
I’d like everyone to know that my job is really about helping build capacity in people, particularly in encouraging and enabling people who find their way to the Library Makerspace (everyone from the Laurier community is welcome by the way, Faculty, Staff, Students, and Alumni!). We’re building things, yes, but more to the point, we’re building self-reliance, resourcefulness, skills, community, different ways of thinking about learning.
Now, I know you’re relatively new to the Laurier community, so tell us what you think of it so far?
I really like Laurier. Always have. I had a lot of positive experiences here before I joined the staff. I had an opportunity to work with and speak to Laura Allan’s ENTR200 students in a joint project we did around Maker Expo, which I helped create in the community. Fantastic experience. Engaged, articulate, smart, purposeful students. I love Suzanne Luke’s LIFT Series of art in the Library, photographed the first exhibition, and more recently displayed my own work as part of that series. In fact, there have been a lot of great shows in the Robert Langen Art Gallery that drew me to campus: Nadia Myre, Eve Egoyan and David Rokeby, to name a few before I joined. I got to see famed photographer Larry Towell in Sara Matthews’ Global Studies class. I went to Ralph Nader’s talk at Laurier in Brantford. I did some contract photography for Kate Tippin and met some great students around the Case Competition. I also photographed some alumni talks, which were fascinating. I spoke to Stephen Preece’s MBA class on applications of creativity. Great bunch. Last summer, my son volunteered with Laurier’s LEAP program, which was a positive experience for my family. And I’ve met a lot of terrifically talented musicians in my travels, who have come out of Laurier’s Music program. In summary, Laurier is great.
And what’s your favourite thing about it so far?
The people here are definitely my favourite aspect of Laurier life. Students, staff, faculty across the entire organization.
So what led you choose to work at Laurier specifically?
I’ve actually got two answers for this one. First, in her welcoming speech at the Laurier Library’s LIFT Series of art in 2015, our University Librarian Gohar Ashoughian shared a passionate vision of the Library as the cultural commons of Laurier. She imagined a place of academic study, art, music, making, dance, performance and more. That really put the hook in me. And secondly, in an increasingly complex world, I want to help equip young people, students, for these challenges. It seems like the best possible investment in the future, to all our benefit.
If you were left to your own devices for 24 hours, what would you spend that time doing?
Honestly, I love to reverse-engineer old electronics. Clocks, coffee makers, toys, you name it. I take them apart, figure out how they work, sometimes modify them to do something different. I get delightfully lost in that pursuit.
And just for fun, what’s the coolest thing you’ve got in your workspace (and what makes it cool to you)?
In our workspace, our makerspace, I’m with the coolest, engaged group of students you could wish for. I call them the super-friends of the makerspace. They’re from all different programs across Laurier. To the extent that I’m able and they’re willing, I put them in the driver’s seat of what happens here. They steer what workshops we create. They bring in their own projects to work on and help each other. They influence what tools we go after. They tie some of their coursework to hands-on work they do in the makerspace. They’re invested in what happens here. I just want to work on interesting projects with good people and this crew brings all of that.
One last question then, what’s been your most interesting experience at Laurier so far? Why did you find it interesting?
I taught a handful of students an intro to 3D design and printing that I had cooked up. Then I immediately asked those students if they would teach the material to their friends. Julie taught 5 of her friends. Sarah taught 4 friends. Ola taught 8 of her friends. Then Liza, who was in Ola’s class, said she would teach her friends. And Liza went on to teach two more groups. So we’re getting to the second generation of this ripple effect of sharing what we know and it’s really very exciting. In the process, we’re all getting to know each other and building a community within the community. I think there’s a sense of belonging developing and there’s definitely an ownership within this growing group of makers. I had hoped this would happen and it seems to fit with what I think of as Laurier’s DNA. That it has happened so quickly is a delightful surprise and we’re just eagerly building on this enthusiasm every day.
I want to thank Darin for being willing to be profiled; and I also want to encourage you to, if you haven’t already, come by the Library and see him in the makerspace, he tries to have something for everyone. Please let us know if you have any feedback about this feature, or if you have a particular member that you would like to see profiled!
Lauren has been with Laurier as an employee since August 2014 working at the Library where she is the Copyright and Reserves Supervisor and a member of the Library’s Accessibility Committee. Lauren joined CPAC to learn more about WLUSA’s work and services by helping to teach other WLUSA members about them. When she isn’t working her favourite things to do include reading, volunteering (She currently volunteers for The Harry Potter Alliance as their Library Advocacy Researcher), playing video games, and attempting to keep up with her blog.