See ya later Groundwork!

I was lucky enough to meet Sarah and Dena last year in one of my business classes. One of the major projects in the class was to collaborate with a local business and help them develop a plan to solve a problem they were facing. My group was assigned to Groundwork! and my life hasn’t been the same since.

GW goodbye1

After the semester was over and our project was completed, I got an email from Sarah asking me to be the new Social Media Marketing intern at Groundwork!. I wanted to immediately jump on the opportunity but in all honesty I had some huge reservations that I had to consider like ‘how am I going to be a social media marketing intern when I don’t know much about marketing, am not that creative, and kinda suck at social media’? – Still not 100% sure how twitter works…

After organizing my schedule and deciding that this internship could be a great learning experience for me, I emailed Sarah back and accepted the Internship with the hope that I wouldn’t suck at it. It was one of the best decisions I have my in my educational career.

The evolution of Lisa

I really have never been the person to get involved or participate in extra curricular activities. I was always to busy with work or avoiding interacting with new people (I was that person you would find in the corner of the room at a party, on the floor petting whatever animal I could find). At least I went to the party though, right?

So I started working with Sarah and Dena and networking with the Groundwork community and I came out of my shell. The staff and members at Groundwork are the best group of people that I have met. Everyone here is so motivated and passionate and friendly, it inspires me.

While my job title was “social media marketing intern” I learned a lot more than just marketing;
GW goodbye3

I learned that my posture is awful.

  • I learned about the sea scallop industry and its sustainability efforts.
  • I learned about the economic development in New Bedford and the Southcoast.
  • I learned that IKEA furniture is pretty great.
  • I learned that I am creative, and I don’t suck at social media (still suck @twitter).
  • I learned about the amazing entrepreneurial and artistic culture of the Southcoast.
  • I learned how to find events that are going on in my community.
  • I learned that I have every opportunity I can imagine at my finger tips and that they are achievable.
  • I learned how to use WordPress, Hootsuite, Facebook groups & Slack.
  • I learned how to blog and how podcasts work.
  • I learned what the hell a coworking space is.

How Groundwork affected the rest of my life

GW goodbye2This semester I joined Roots & Shoots, a student run group focused on sustainability that was started by Jane Goodall (the first school group I have joined in my entire educational career).

I left the country for the first time to compete in Start-up Weekend in the Azores and then competed again at UMass, which my group won!

Three days later I competed in an EforAll Pitch contest and met some amazing people with great businesses.

I went to business buzzes, art shows, the NB Bookfest, a food security forum, a teach-in and tons more.

These are all firsts for me. I wanted to do all of these things and was able to because of Groundwork! and the new perspectives I have gained, people I have met, and lessons I have learned. I became part of a community and was able to branch out and connect with people – just like the tree in the GW logo.

Getting Emotional

Ever since I started working here I’ve noticed myself bringing up Groundwork in a majority of the conversations I have. I’m sure that’s not going to stop. Everyone in my inner circle now knows the ins and outs of coworking and I’ve noticed that a lot of them are getting more involved in their own communities after seeing how passionate I have become about it. It makes me feel awesome knowing that I can teach others what I have learned at Groundwork! and have a positive effect on them, hopefully making the world a better place one person at a time.

GW Goodbye 4

I’m currently getting really sad writing this and know I could go on forever about the time I have spent here (which was way to short) so I am going to end this blog here. I can’t filibuster anymore as my last day at Groundwork is today. I can’t thank Dena and Sarah enough for the opportunity they have given me and the lessons they have taught me. Thank you to all of the Groundwork members for welcoming me aboard and making me feel at home here.

I’ll be graduating in 10 days, heading home to Waltham and working as an equestrian instructor over the summer. In September I’ll be traveling to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe for a month to do some volunteer conservation work on a Private Game Reserve. After that… who knows?! Maybe you’ll see me back at Groundwork soon enough! Add me on Facebook and Instagram to find out!

I’m not saying bye, I’m saying see you guys later…




Meet Abby Wright: Photographer behind “Vinegar”

Abby Wright is a Senior Photography student in CVPA at UMass Dartmouth and a fellow pushy women. She is the creator of “Vinegar”, a body of work that speaks her truth about feminism and what she has experienced as a women in today’s society.

“Vinegar” is a part of “Self-Evident Truths”, a collection of works by eight Photo students at UMD, that focuses in on how they view the world and society today.

Self-evident truths

“Self-Evident Truths” will be installed here at Groundwork! on May 4th and we will be celebrating the Opening with a party on May 11th! Find out more about the event here, or on our Facebook! Read more about Abby and “Vinegar” below:

Can you describe “Vinegar” to us?

My current body of work studies what it means to me, being female today in a world where we are both encouraged and discouraged by society and our daily surroundings from adopting feminist ideals. Coming from a suburban background, these concepts were the foundation of the world which was my upbringing.

My goal is to capture this concept through portraiture mostly made within interior spaces. The subject is occasionally obscured or hidden from view. Through these visual elements, I wish to draw attention to the fact that a female is not merely an object of admiration, temperamental, unpredictable, led by emotion, nor primarily concerned with being perceived as decorative.


While some images include full figures, others show merely body fragments. The work contains images where I am not physically in the frame yet they are all self portraits.

The portraits are made within the house my parents built in which my sisters and I have spent our adolescence. This is where we had the opportunity to absorb the information presented to us in the outside world and figure out where we stood, what our own ideals were. To me, growing up, I felt like I was presented with numerous contradictory messages. I was always told to believe in myself. I could be whoever I wanted and I could accomplish anything that I set my mind to. Yet at the same time, I was presented with information such as;

“Swearing isn’t lady like. Don’t walk alone at night. Always lock the car and look in the back seat. Be alert when walking. Don’t be on your phone, pony tails are easy to grab and pull you to the ground. Attackers always look for those who could be caught off guard. Speak when spoken to. Don’t interrupt. Don’t be bossy.”

The list continues. To this day these concepts still make me angry. I can do and be whatever I want to an extent; yet at the same time always looking over my shoulder and being encouraged to be careful and not talk back.

This body of work explores the concept of challenging ideals frequently placed on young females. Though my sisters and I each have personalities which vary drastically, and are all of a similar age, we all stand with our own perspectives, views, and experiences of the need to possess strength and to be heard. The imagery includes strong figures with settings which appear to be seen as barriers between the camera and the individual, often leading to a point of escape within the photograph.


My work stems from my need to express my psychological processing of the contradictory messages imposed upon me as a young woman and my connection to understanding my place in the world.

Can you tell us about your artistic style?

I have definitely been told and teased about the fact that I am a prolific artist. I always feel the need to be making something or turning the things that I see and feel into physical experiences. If I am not producing a lot I feel super unproductive. I think that is what art is to me and that’s why it is so important to me. It is my way of translating things that I am thinking and going through into elements that people can experience and connect to themselves. I also think it is so interesting that what I am presenting can have a totally different meaning or relation to a viewer.

What/ who first got you interested in photography/ art and when?


I feel like I always loved art and making things but my uncle who is a graphic designer always was there to help me grow by encouraging me to continue this process and always offering criticism. As far as photography, I bought the first camera I ever owned – a Nikon d3100 – when I was a freshman in High School when I had saved enough money from scooping ice cream, which was my job at the time. That was my first introduction to the medium.

What is your biggest inspiration?

Nan Goldin is photographically my biggest inspiration. I have always been drawn to her style and think it’s so simplistically beautiful and has so much to say for itself. I am obviously very impressed by many photographers but her diaristic style is so honest, raw, and moving to me. I think this style is so undervalued. I really can’t put into words how much her work moves me. In daily life though I really can say I am visually inspired by most things I see.

Tell us about the process you took creating “Vinegar”?

The body of work started with all self portraits but as I was creating work I wanted to incorporate people other than myself, I was just unsure of the way in which I wanted to do so. I started to photograph my sister as well. I then became very interested in the fact that I have three sisters, we are all around the same age and that we are all complete opposites of each other. Even though this is true we have very similar ideals and always stand for what we believe in. The body of work began to evolve into portraits of the four of us which became interesting because at times we do look very similar, so it became harder for the viewer to know which one of us was being depicted.


Have you ever hit a creative roadblock? How did you deal with this?

HELL YES. Especially when working on Vinegar. When I first started this project I had an idea and concept which I wanted to portray but wasn’t sure exactly how I wanted to make the body of work speak. At the start of the project I was making all self portraits and struggling to make connections to each other. I was so overwhelmed and trying too hard to make art which is never good, instead of my regular style which is to just show what I am seeing and experiencing. I think the best way to do deal with not knowing where to go and feeling really overwhelmed and lost is to just keep producing and talking about what you’re producing.

What is your favorite part about being a photographer/ artist?

My favorite part of being an artist and photographer is the fact that to myself I am never satisfied. There is always something I want to show and explain and there are always ways for me to grow and become a stronger artist and human and see things in a new light. I also love the fact that art is an exploration into the artist as well as the world. I love that it has the power to challenge and engage society. Art has to deal with ethics and at many times is anthropological. It starts a conversation about things we can view as problematic.


Do you have a favorite photo in “Vinegar”? Can you tell us why?

Hmmmm. That’s a hard one. I really love the relationships which the pictures have with each other, especially in the book which I produced with the full body of work in it. I think am more attached to the relationships and how the pictures play off of each other.

What is next for you and/or your photography career?

This summer I am going to be living and working on Block Island, RI. I am really excited to be producing new and fresh work there.

How have you changed or evolved as a photographer from Freshman year to Senior year in CVPA at UMD?

Technically, I have evolved to a large degree. Emotionally in my work I think I have found a certain style that can be identified.




Dan Calabrese

Member Spotlight: Daniel Calabrese

Dan Calabrese

Dan Calabrese wins the prize for most “visually exciting” entrepreneur at Groundwork! If you get to work on a day he’s looking at shoe samples, you can check out some new styles and maybe even try them on for feedback. Dan also merits recognition for member growth– he just added a new employee to the Groundwork! crew.

Dan often travels to India for his work and is willing to share his travel stories if you find him in the kitchen around lunchtime. In this interview, he shares how he stays informed about the latest shoe styles, favorite podcasts, and that gratifying feeling of seeing your footwear in a store.

What’s your profession?

Short Answer: Footwear Development.
Reality: I’ve opened the US office for an Indian manufacturing group that produces footwear, leathers, and outsoles. We represent and are building Sara’s presence in the US. We design, create, and produce shoes for some of the best retailers and global brands.

Describe a typical work day for you.

There is no “typical” work day when working with footwear and India but it usually involves ensuring we are keeping  to our timelines and most importantly getting more production orders.

What’s the biggest challenge you face at your job?

Keeping the communication going with the factories and customers.

Do you have a morning routine?

1. Coffee.
2. Seeing my girls off to school every morning I’m home.
3. Skype with India
4. Gym or run.
5. Groundwork!

What are your favorite productivity tips or hacks?

Not really a hack but I spend a lot of time on Hypebeast and Highsnobiety trying to stay informed. We are working seasons out, some customers are into Autumn/ Winter 2018 development, and staying relevant and in style takes a lot of research.

What do you listen to during the day?

Depends on the day but usually a lot of CNN and when that has depressed me enough I’ll listen to everything from Hamilton’s Original Broadway Cast Recordings to Sirius XM Old School Rap. I’ve been really getting into NPR’s How I Built This podcast too.

How do you benefit from using a coworking space?

We are a small team of two and it’s good to have others to interact with. Every time we get shoes in we get other’s opinions and feedback. We sometimes get too close to the product and lose sight.

What’s in your digital toolbox? (Favorite apps, hardware, etc.)

Again, Hypebeast. Keynote.

What is the most surprising or unusual aspect of your life?

Probably the travel. My career has taken me to a lot of interesting and unique places.

What inspires you?

Watching the business grow and adding people to the team.

Of course seeing your product in stores and on people’s feet is extremely fulfilling since you know they chose to spend their hard earned money on your ideas and work.


Jordan Pouliot

Member Spotlight: Jordan Pouliot

Jordan Pouliot

Jordan won our hearts when she told us her dissertation was about women restaurant owners. Women, business, and food– what’s not to like about that?

Aside from her dissertation topic we appreciate Jordan for bringing her friendly yet focused energy to our space. She has also reconnected us with our friends at The Women’s Fund by hosting their meetings here from time to time. Here Jordan shares how she stays productive and on task with a daunting project like a dissertation:

What’s your profession?

I am a PhD candidate in Boston University’s American Studies Program, and currently writing my dissertation on the history of women’s restaurant entrepreneurship in NYC. I also teach part-time in UMass Dartmouth’s First Year English Program, and volunteer for the Women’s Fund.

Describe a typical work day for you.

Three days a week I write my dissertation at Groundwork. The other two days I teach one class in the morning at UMD and then come over to Groundwork to keep working on my dissertation.

What’s the biggest challenge you face at your job?

Completing my dissertation on schedule.

Do you have a morning routine?

Jordan Pouliot family

Let out my two basset mixes, Lucy and Butters; have breakfast with my husband and toddler, Archie; get Archie ready for “school” (daycare), drop him off, and then either drive to Groundwork, UMass, or BU.

What are your favorite productivity tips or hacks?

Coffee! Working at Groundwork helps a lot too.

What do you listen to during the day?

The chatter in the office or at a coffee shop.

How do you benefit from using a coworking space?

Unfortunately, I’m not that productive when I work at home. There are too many distractions, from watching Netflix to doing the laundry. Groundwork helps keep me focused, and I also work through lunch, which is a big help.

What’s in your digital toolbox? (Favorite apps, hardware, etc.)

The Amazon Prime app.

What is the most surprising or unusual aspect of your life?

I came to write about restaurants and the food industry through my interest in women’s entrepreneurship, but I’ve actually never worked at a restaurant. My husband owns one though (the Sail Loft in Padanaram) so he’s been a huge help in explaining the intricacies of business ownership.


Mark Collins & dolphin

Member Spotlight: Mark Collins

Mark Collins & dolphin

We first crossed paths with Mark Collins at the Providence Entrepreneurs Meetup and at the South Coast WordPress Meetup here at Groundwork! It wasn’t until after Mark joined the Groundwork team in March of 2016 that we discovered he was an under-cover yogi with a meditation practice and affinity for Hindu Philosophy.

I’ve personally enjoyed some pre-work silent meditation sessions with Mark right here at Groundwork!, as well as some great conversations around friendship, work, and life. Here Mark shares a little about his SEO company, his daily routines, and how he stays grounded:

What’s your profession?

Search Engine Optimization for Local and Regional Businesses and Organizations. (

Describe a typical work day for you.

Coffee and returning emails. A few hours intensely focused work. A walk to a park or a beach at lunch. A few more hours work. Late afternoon visit to a cafe – more coffee and returned emails. A nice dinner with girlfriend, family or friend. 1 to 3 hours of late night work.

What’s the biggest challenge you face at your job?

Time management and time management and time management, in that order, LOL

Do you have a morning routine?

Morning meditation. A short time outside to walk and/or exercise.

What are your favorite productivity tips or hacks?

Google Docs (G Suite), to keep all my projects organized.

What do you listen to during the day?

Being a fan of Yoga and meditation, I find listening to Indie (American Kirtan) style music comforting. I also like binaural beats for brainwave entrainment. Being over 55, I sometimes mix in some 70’s and 80’s rock music to wake up!

How do you benefit from using a coworking space?

It helps me to stay focused, to have other folks nearby who are also working hard to achieve their goals.

What’s in your digital toolbox? (Favorite apps, hardware, etc.)

Software: Google Docs, Sheets & Slides,, Youtube editor and Adobe Photoshop.

What is the most surprising or unusual aspect of your life?

Mark Collins book

I am a published author and columnist on the topics of: meditative yoga and Hinduism, unity consciousness and metaphysical philosophy.

What inspires you?

Working with others to improve the environment and our society. The world needs more peace, love and understanding.




GW artist MarkP

Meet Mark Phelan: Artist behind “Mental Mapping”

GW artist MarkP

Can you describe “Mental Mapping (is heavy lifting)” to us?

Mental Mapping is a group of paintings and drawings that I have been working on since I finished grad school last year, with a couple that I made at the tail end of grad school too, where the idea germinated and began to take root.

I’ve been preoccupied with what my next move is (what life looks like after school, what opportunities might present themselves, or be available to chase down and capture. Will I teach, or find a way for my art to sustain me, or will I always be fighting to find the time to paint around a 9-5 job?), and it’s showing through in my recent work. I’ve been thinking a lot about how one plans for a future, as much that is even possible, and how that might look if you got a view into my head.

Mental Mapping

I’ve been looking a lot at train tracks while I ride the commuter rail into Boston every day, and wondering about where each train is headed as it passes in the opposite direction, or diverges from the path that I thought it was taking as I watched it chug along. Even within a concrete system like a railroad, elements can do something you didn’t expect and throw you for a loop. So when one is confronted with an unwritten, uncertain future, how does one plan, or even just consider, all the options  and then map them out to get a birds’ eye view of the possibilities? It’s overwhelming.

So, the work began as a mostly figurative exploration of the idea, and as it got more and more difficult for me to contemplate the parallel and competing realities, the work started to take a turn out of the representational and into something more abstract. This might leave the impression that one work has little to do with another, until you consider the totality of it, and then I think it begins to make sense. The pieces all gel in a tangential sort of way. I think the viewer has to also allow me the luxury of making the excuse that the idea is still in its infancy, and each of the tangents has a lot of possibility and ground to explore. So let’s call it a collection of beginnings.

Can you tell us about your artistic style?

I cringe when I hear the word ‘style’ in relation to my work. It’s the last thing I am concerned about. If the work comes from my head, and is a product of my process and my consideration, it will look like it was made by me. That’s the only way it can look. So, I don’t concern myself with style, or whether my newest work looks enough like previous work, or whatever someone who thinks about those things is concerned with.

GW artist MarkP1

Now, with that said, I do have habits that lead to my work having a common thread. I usually work pretty large. I’ve mostly been working on 6×9 and 9×12 foot canvases. This frees me up to play around with my ideas and have room to roam and build a story. The idea often ends up bigger than the canvas though, and so you’ll often see me add pieces around the margins of the original canvas.

I also tend to draw a lot, even in my paintings. Line just makes sense to me as a way of describing the way objects interact with each other or with the space around them. And lastly, I guess I have a set of colors that I return to a lot. Earthy blues and greens and browns show up repeatedly.

What/ who first got you interested in art and when?

I’ve always drawn. It’s how I think. But I guess I first realized that art could be a legitimate way to get myself through life in high school. And I have to credit Carole Meyer for that. She was my art teacher at West Bridgewater High School, and plowed paths for me to spend lots of time in the art studios in my junior and senior year. Without her confidence in my passion for art, I don’t know that I would have developed such a strong sense of it on my own. She was a rock star teacher for sure, and is definitely one who I look to when I work on becoming my best self as a teacher too.

What is your biggest inspiration?

GW artist MarkP3

Possibility. In a word I think that’s what inspires me the most. Each time I start something new, the possibilities are limitless. And I revel in swimming in limitlessness for a while, as a try to find something to hang onto and take me someplace new. Ultimately, only one or two things happen within the confines of a painting, but before I latched onto those things, anything can happen. And each time I latch onto an idea and it guides me through a painting and out the other side, a totally new set of infinite possibilities is available to me.

How do you plan the process of creating a collection of works like this one?

I don’t. Well, I don’t plan it initially. I have a loose idea that I want to explore, like maps, or imagined space, or a particular person, and I prep a canvas or a panel and I get to work on it. I usually have images of objects related to the idea pinned to a board, and I look at those for shapes and colors and lines, and I think about those as I put a ground on the canvas. If I end up getting into a painting to the extent that I actually know what is going to happen next, I begin thinking about the next layer of information and ways to integrate it with what I am putting down in the moment.

My decisions are born of process. I decide by doing. Planning in advance beyond the loosest concept never works out for me. Each of my paintings feels like a new path to me. And you can’t really plan a new path. You have to get in the jungle with your machete and just hack away at it.

What do you think about while you’re painting?

GW artist MarkP2

I think about painting. That is, I think about line and space, and the development of the image or idea. I talk to myself a lot. I talk to the painting a lot. I listen to a lot of music. You’ll find a lot of lyrics to songs I listen to buried in the layers of my paintings. Sometimes the paintings are named after the lyrics of a song I listened to while I made it. Or it references them somehow. I think about how I am never more happy than I am when I’m making things. It’s why I exist. So even if I’m dealing with difficult subject matter, there’s no work I would rather be doing.

Have you ever hit a creative roadblock? How did you deal with this?

Because I tend to swim in limitless possibility, I don’t really ever have a shortage of ideas. Sometimes I don’t know exactly how to express the idea that I have, but that is exactly the most important moment to simply get to work. Go to the studio, move some paint around, and see what happens.

I leave myself open to my initial idea leading to something else altogether, and I am always willing to follow where the work leads. This keeps me free to pick up on any good idea and just go with it. I also typically work on 5 or 6 paintings at once, so if I hit a roadblock with one, or get bored with it, I can move on to another. As I do this, I find one painting informs the next, and that informs the next, and so on. By keeping the dam open, ideas keep flowing.

What is your favorite part about being an artist?

GW artist MarkP6

I touched on this a bit in the question about what I think about while I paint, but my favorite thing about being an artist is that I can’t imagine being anything else. Now, for me, being an artist isn’t just being a painter. I’m also a printmaker, I’ve messed around with sculpture some too (one of my pieces lives downtown at the corner of Route 18 and Union St, in front of Cork Wine Bar) and I build hot rods. When I am at my best, I am making.

Do you have a favorite piece in Mental Mapping? Can you tell us why?

I think the idea behind Mental Mapping is my favorite part about this body of work. I don’t mean that in a conceptual way, I just mean that it can be very freeing to allow oneself to imagine the possibility of anything, and search for a way to explain a little of what it’s like to live in that kind of head space, and find a few pictures to begin telling that story. Some work better than others in accomplishing that goal (and I’ll let the viewer decide which those are).

Are you currently working on any other projects?

I’ve been noodling out this series of “portraits” that I want to start on. I put portraits in quotes because not all the paintings will have people as subjects. But it’s an idea that is related to Mental Mapping, and will connect to a lot of the work in that series that has sort of laid the ground for what’s coming. I am also working on more images that will probably end up being considered as the same body of work as Mental Mapping, as that idea just keeps pushing me along. I’m building a couple cars currently too, a 1934 Ford Coupe, and a 1939 Cadillac Lasalle Coupe.

GW artist MarkP5

Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring artists?

The artist Chuck Close said:

“The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.”

This is great advice. Just show up to the studio and get to work. Move some material around and see what happens. If you’re not satisfied with it, wipe it out and start over. Don’t be afraid to erase. Erasing is not admitting failure. Thomas Edison said something about that too. “I haven’t failed over and over, I’ve just found 2000 ways not to make a light bulb.” Or something like that. There’s no pressure in failure. You just learn from it and move on. There’s also no better, safer place to fail than art school. You’re so protected there. The professors will reel you back in if you need to be. Take advantage of the protected environment and take all kinds of chances. You’ll learn a lot.

GW artist MarkP4

Where can we find and follow you and your work?

You can see my work at and you can follow me on Instagram @generalgow. I post way more stuff on IG than I make updates to my website, and you’ll get to see a lot of process pics, and non painting projects there too.

Startup Weekend Azores

Coworking Abroad: Startup Weekend in the Azores

This year I was lucky enough to be one of the 15 Business undergrad and graduate students selected to participate in an International Entrepreneurship class. This class was special. It came with the privilege and opportunity to represent America during a trip to São Miguel, one of the nine Azorean islands of Portugal, during spring break. The goal of this trip was to get American business students to collaborate with Portuguese locals during Startup Weekend.

Honestly, I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I accepted and enrolled in this class. I had heard about Startup Weekend before but had never attended one or even looked into it. When you’re presented with a class that includes a trip to Portugal, you don’t hesitate. I signed up immediately. The eight days I spent on the island and 54 hours at Startup Weekend Azores was the greatest experience of my life.

Azores fields

What is Startup Weekend?

Startup Weekend is a 54 hour event from Friday night to Sunday night where students and community members work together and compete to create a startup business. Anyone is allowed to register and pitch an initial idea or become a member of a team. After ideas are pitched, participants select an idea they want to help work on and groups are formed. This is where the chaos begins.

Groups now have the remaining time to develop their company name, logo and business model while analyzing their target market, cost structure, customer wants and needs (by actually getting out of the building and talking to them) and producing a minimal viable product. During this frenzy, mentors, coaches, sponsors, investors and other experienced professionals are there to help teams navigate the development of their startups.

Startup weekend work

On Sunday, business pitches and presentations are put together and presented to a panel of judges to determine the winning company, whose members are then awarded a prize. It is, to say the least, an insane 54 hours.

UPDATE: UMass Dartmouth is hosting a Startup Weekend THIS WEEKEND (3/31 – 4/2)! Anyone can buy tickets and register here before Friday at noon. Come innovate and collaborate with us!

International Learning

When we first arrived on the Island of São Miguel it was a week before Startup Weekend and we had to learn a lot more about the area before working with locals and creating a business that would be viable there. Our hosts at Nonagon, a Science & Technology Park, took us on educational and incredible tours to learn about the culture, history, economics and businesses on the Island. They also hired a camera man and drone to capture our adventures and made this amazing video for us.

Nonagon is an incredible facility and company focused on science, technology, innovation, and the development of human capital. In their space they house major local companies, offer coworking space, and support entrepreneurs developing startups with their Incubator Go-ON.

Created in January 2012, the Nonagon Association’s mission is to support the technological dynamization and training of qualified human resources in the field of information and communications systems, and the monitoring and observation of the Earth, Space and Sea; To strengthen collaboration and liaison between its members and between them and the scientific and business community, to stimulate cooperation with other entities, seeking national or international partnerships around common objectives and towards the development of scientific and technological centers.


Nonagon – Lagoa, São Miguel

Not only is the building itself incredible, but the people who work with Nonagon and inside it are even better. Our entire trip was put together by the Science & Technology Park’s staff and there is no way I could ever thank them enough. Startup weekend is 100% led by volunteer community leaders and it is amazing how they spend months of their time organizing this event for hopeful entrepreneurs.

Cross-cultural Collaboration

My friends and family have all been asking me what my favorite part of the trip was, which is a fair question with a very difficult answer. There were so many beautiful sites, fun excursions, and incredible memories made but I have to say that meeting and working with the locals on the island was the most meaningful to me.

Startup weekend

For the event I became the only American, only woman, and the youngest member on my chosen team. I went into the event with the goal of getting out of my comfort zone and branching out by not working with my fellow classmates that I knew and worked with before – It was the best decision I could have made. My teammates were all very intelligent men with great ideas and I had an amazing time working with them. Not only did I learn a lot about them and how they work, but I learned a lot about myself and what I bring to a team in a real world setting.

The personalities and skills of my team members were very dynamic and diverse. We had two older men in our group who had been there, done that and knew a lot about how businesses and the government operated on the island. The other two guys on my team were closer to my age and had very innovative ideas and amazing computer and design skills. I brought my business management and leadership skills to the table and together we made a very well rounded team.

Playing the Part – Pushy Woman

Despite the fact that I was the youngest member of my group as well as the only American and woman, I was delegated the leadership role. I helped organize ideas, described to them how the Business Model Canvas works (a major topic that we had been studying in class at UMass) and gave the final pitch presentation in front of the judges and audience. We all viewed each other equally and recognized that we all had different skills and abilities that we brought to the team and we took on tasks accordingly.

Azores my team

I wouldn’t say that I was surprised that this happened but I wasn’t really expecting it. I often find myself taking on a leadership role in groups out of necessity, but those teams were different. In most of the groups that I have been a part of we all had the same culture, spoke the same language, were about the same age, and we had relatively even gender ratios. None of those aspects were the same but I was still able to step up and hold my own while improving the dynamics of our group.

I wasn’t judged by my age, gender or my hair color, but by the intelligence my teammates saw in me and my ability to communicate effectively between them. I learned more about myself by the end of the weekend than I had expected to.

To my surprise, I actually like people

azores waterfall

Nordeste, Azores

While I am deeply in love with the green land and naturalness of the island, I really admired how the people that lived there treated it with respect and wanted it to remain as undeveloped as possible. I keep thinking about this and am honestly surprised with how I truly feel about it. I’ve never considered myself a huge people person and I usually say that I am inspired by nature and animals rather than the actions of people, but this experience has changed that.

I am extremely inspired by the way the Azorean people view their home, protect their land and hope to improve their poor economy in the most eco-friendly way. They don’t take their environmental impact lightly and work together, business-to-business, person-to-person to benefit each other, simply because they can and they want to.

GW azores lakes

Lagoa Do Fogo

Sometimes it’s hard for me to have faith in humanity because I often don’t agree with or understand American culture and motivations. The people of São Miguel have really showed me that I can have faith. They hold themselves individually responsible for their environmental impact and that individual decision makes all the difference. I am extremely honored to have been able to meet and work with so many amazing people from both São Miguel and UMass Dartmouth while on this trip, and am lucky enough to have gained some lifelong friends in the process.

Hopefully I can return to the island as soon as possible with a one-way ticket. I may need to pack all of my classmates and mentors in my suitcase because it was them that really made this experience as phenomenal as it was.

~ A personal, huge thank you to the Azores Startup Weekend organizers; Teresa Ferreira, Ricardo Machado, Toby Stapleton, Emanuel Raposo, Rui Amaral and Tiago Freitas as well as, the event facilitator Sergio Ferreira, my professor Peter Karlson, the UMass Dartmouth administration team that made this happen, my classmates, group members, mentors and everyone else who participated in the event!



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Social Media: A college student’s perspective

Thank goodness social media, and the way we use it, has been evolving as quickly as we do. Looking back at my old posts, that Facebook and Timehop love to remind me about, I can’t help but get red in the face and ask myself, ‘what the hell was I thinking?’ When Facebook was relatively new, status updates were step-by-step rundowns of a person’s day – “Jenny is…chewing bubble gum and walking to the corner store”.

When did people start thinking that the world cared or needed to know what they were doing every minute of every day? Social media grew like wild fire, so people must have cared – no idea why. Maybe we’re lazy? Maybe we’re creeps? Maybe we just like to stay in touch? Whatever the reason, social media is a way of life for us now. If you’re not on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn or some other platform, do you really exist?

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Do you really exist?

Millennials manage social media

I am a millennial. We are on almost every form of social media and they are definitely not all the same. They each have certain features and options that allow them to serve different purposes. There are some that I like and some that I never use.

Facebook: The one-stop-shop of social media

I use Facebook as a form of entertainment and surprisingly education. Not only do I enjoy watching hilarious animal videos or BuzzFeed’s blog videos, but I also read articles that my friends share, hear about what’s going on in my community, and try to spread messages that I feel are important. It’s like an interactive, multi-faceted, unbiased news network. *This may depend on who your friends are*.

Groundwork facebook screenshot

I’m not going to lie, I am one of those people that plays Facebook games. They are convenient ways for me to waste time, especially when my news feed is quiet and I’ve already scrolled through everything. Facebook is really like the one-stop-shop of social media. It has everything and knows everything… the ads on my timeline are too creepy. How does it know that I have been looking for this one pair of shoes for weeks?! Creepy but effective.

So why use other platforms if Facebook has it all? That question is exactly why I use those other apps and websites. Facebook is a trap. Have you ever gone to Target to buy one thing and leave two hours later having spent $300? Well, that’s how Facebook works, open the app to check the one notification you got and BOOM, you look up and it’s been an hour. How?!

The visual you – Instagram

I like to view Instagram as my life’s portfolio. You can tell a lot about a person by their Instagram profile. Not only do you get to see a pattern of topics they photograph, but there are also color schemes visible in the ‘all pictures’ overview.

Instagram side-by-side

Instagram overviews:  Lisa(left),  Dena(center),  and Sarah(right)

My Instagram is mostly nature, animals, friends, and the occasional selfie – when I’m not looking like my usual ragamuffin self. The colors I see are very neutral, a lot of brown, blue, green, and the occasional pop of red. Comparing my account to my friends’, I see huge differences. One of my roommates has a lot of pink in her pictures – which fits her perfectly. Another one of my friends only posts pictures with his “squad”. Literally every picture is him and his friends. Someone else only posts selfies.

If a picture can speak a thousand words than your Instagram account is basically your autobiography.

Evolution of Interaction

Flowing with the trends, we no longer post hourly FB statuses depicting our every move. We now share videos, pictures and only make status updates when we have something big going on or an important message we hope to spread. So now how do we find out what all of our friends, family, and distant acquaintances are doing? Snapchat. A quick 10 second video or 3 second picture tells us all we want to know about what’s going on in that other person’s world.

The obvious argument is that we no longer actually communicate with one another. We live life and have relationships through our phone screen. Yes, this can be a downfall in our American Society today, but how do the people that actually use Snapchat feel about its effects on social interaction?

Snapchat: Social or anti-social media?

Being one of the newer forms of social media, Snapchat is most often used by younger generations. We use it because everyone we know uses it. It’s a huge network of our closest contacts. Now what do we use it for? How does it benefit us and actually boost our social interaction rather than sucking us into the screen? We usually only spend 10 seconds on it at a time. Videos are limited to that time frame. Pictures are, on average, visible for 6 seconds. The app actually makes you go back to the real world.

I like to watch friend’s “stories”- public videos or photos that remain up for 24 hours – to see what they’re up to. If I see a friend doing something close by, I message them and join them. Pet updates are the best! I can always rely on a quick picture or video of a friend’s pet to boost my mood. When I see all of my friends out having fun and I am inside bored, it motivates me to get active and go spend my time productively – the opposite effect that other social media sites often have.

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Snapchat: the new Candid Camera

What’s so special about Snapchat?

Comparing my use of Snapchat to other social media platforms, I would say that I spend the most time on Facebook, then Instagram, and the least time on Snapchat. While this is true, I am the most active on Snap. I post more pictures and videos on Snapchat than I do on Insta or FB. Why? Because it’s quicker, easier, customizable and it doesn’t feel like such a commitment. I can share something with friends in 2 seconds and I don’t have to worry about it being perfect because it’s not technically ‘the internet’. Once it’s uploaded it won’t be there forever.

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I think this gives us the opportunity to be more real. It’s almost like a platform for candids. Real time, untouched, real people. That’s what I appreciate the most about it. We all want to see those goofy authentic smiles, dumb jokes, and genuine moments in a friend’s life rather than that posed for picture we often see.
I guess the big picture really is that we all get something different out of the social media platforms we use. How you use it and what you get out of it, is completely up to you…and your followers.

Logging off.



UMD teach-in

UMassD Teach-in: Bridging Differences and Creating Change

As a senior in college with graduation only three months away, not only am I sad to be leaving my UMass community and wondering how to “adult”, I am also terrified of leaving the concrete fortress that has protected me from the outside world for the past four years. Usually you hear about people being afraid of change – moving, trying new foods, meeting new people – but I am afraid of the lack there of.

With the chaos that has erupted nationally and internationally, due to our recent presidential election, we can clearly see the division among our people. I’m not saying that the election caused these divisions, but it certainly opened the world’s eyes to them.

Whether you are freaking out, hopeful, or gung-ho about Trump’s win, there are obvious issues in society that need to be discussed. Instead of “let’s make America great again” how can we make America united?  Communicate, collaborate, and create change. The administration at UMass Dartmouth hopes to aid this effort with a community “teach-in”.

UMD teach-in

What is a “Teach-in”?

Cynthia E. Cummings, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth supplied me with the Merrian-Webster definition – “an extended meeting usually held on a college campus for lectures, debates, and discussions to raise awareness of or express a position on a social or political issue”.

“UMass Dartmouth’s Teach-In 2017 is an opportunity for students to learn the value of dialogue, bridge differences, and create positive social change.”
—   Jeannette Riley, Dean of College of Arts and Sciences

Activities will be run from 11am-9pm on Wednesday, March 1st and 12:30pm-6:30pm on Thursday, March 2nd. For the complete schedule of events go to:

Admission to teach-in events is free and open to the public. All members of the university community and members of the larger community are welcome and encouraged to attend

Who will be presenting?

A variety of faculty and staff will present workshops and other presentations. Student groups will set up message tables. Student artists will display relevant work.

What is the goal of this program?

Explore the societal issues that have divided our country and community
Examine their own narratives
Learn from each other’s perspectives
Practice the art of dialogue
Take action to bridge differences and create change

Hopefully this teach-in can promote conversations, offer new perspectives, and educate those of us who are shaking in our boots with no idea what to do. Rather than fear, I want to feel confidence. I want to know that I, we, he, she, they, and everyone else can work together to push positive change forward.

What topics are being focused on?

Topics to be explored:
Racism – Activism – Religious Diversity – Mindfulness – Sexism – Transgender 101 – Power & Privilege – Standing Rock  – LGBTQ + Inclusivity – Feminism – Women’s Issues – Health Diversity – Immigration Policies – Social Justice – Ableism

Younger generations are constantly stereotyped as “not being politically aware” and “unaware of what’s going on in the real world”. The amount of times that I have been called ‘naive’ -with demeaning intentions- because of my hopes to improve our global community, pisses me off. Just because I’m not 50 years old doesn’t mean I don’t have the ability to be educated, educate myself, or experience and affect the world.

Time to change that. Lets show them we are aware, show them we know, we watch, we listen, we communicate, we’re involved. Show them…Show up. Share and learn about what we all post and read on Facebook, in person with each other instead.

How are the sessions organized?

The purpose of the initiative is to engage in civil discourse, so participation will be encouraged. Talks are designed to promote active civic engagement and open dialogue.

Want more info or hope to help organize and promote this event?
Contact the Student Affairs office at 508-910-6402.



Sustaining Sea Scallops: Fish, Farm and Film Night!


We are screening Sustaining Sea Scallops tonight at Groundwork! The locally produced and filmed documentary is about how researchers and fishermen team-up to improve the sustainability of not only their industry, but also the underwater ecosystem. Hang out after the screening for a Q&A with the director!

Screening begins at 6:30pm and Q&A at 7:05pm.

After watching Sustaining Sea Scallops, I interviewed director, Elise Hugus, to find out more about what motivated her to create this film. Learn about what she enjoys most in her work, how fisherman inspire her, and how she collaborates with her husband at work, here:

How did you get into the film industry, and what do you enjoy about it the most?

I want to be clear that UnderCurrent Productions isn’t exactly in the film industry. We’re a niche/boutique video production company specializing in environmental and science documentary. That came about kind of through association– we live and work in Woods Hole, which is home to four large marine science institutions and several smaller ones. I personally have a journalism background and my partner, Daniel Cojanu, has a television news, documentary, and feature film background. We saw a need for video services to help the science institutions and non-profits do outreach. And that’s what I enjoy the most– telling complex stories in ways that people can relate to. I have learned so much through this work, and I hope viewers will too.

What initially made you aware of the scallop industry and want to create Sustaining Sea Scallops?

We were hired by the non-profit Coonamessett Farm Foundation to show how their work led to some successes in the sea scallop industry. Since we’re not into doing fluff pieces, we did our research and found that there was a bigger story here– lots of great work from various institutions over the past 20 years have transformed the sea scallop fishery, and could be a model for others.

What’s next for the scallop industry?

Reach out to the American Scallop Association or the Coonamessett Farm Foundation to find out.

What process do you go through when choosing a project to work on?

Is there a budget to support this?!

What are you working on now?

Our biggest project now is a 3-part series about coastal resilience in Massachusetts, i.e. how communities can use or restore “green infrastructure” like wetlands to protect ourselves from sea level rise and storm surges. We’ve shot mostly on the North Shore but will focus on South Shore communities this spring.

Could you tell us a little bit about how you and your husband collaborate together?

We are a partnership, but in terms of roles I’m the producer and he’s the director/director of photography. So I turn ideas for projects into proposals and budgets, then research and schedule the production. I do the interviews, Daniel makes them look good, and shoots most of the B-roll (non-interview) material. I usually handle the sound or a second camera if needed. I’ll put together the scripts and the timeline edit, and Daniel does the majority of the editing.

Elise and Daniel

Daniel Cojanu and Elise Hugus

What inspires you?

In this context, I think the story of the sea scallop industry can be inspiring. A lot of fishermen are resistant to the idea that they “overfish” and there’s a lot of political reasons for the declines of fish populations, like cod for example. But in this story, you could feel a real sense of pride from the fishermen that they’re working in a relatively clean industry, and there’s a lot of respect between them and the researchers. They speak a little differently, but there’s a lot of overlap– they both observe and experiment based on those observations. They also truly love the ocean. So that’s inspiring to me– an example of how people, and an entire industry can change, by making small adjustments to the way they do things.

Do you have any advice for someone interested in the film industry?

Find great stories, and tell them! Even if you don’t have money or equipment to do it the way you want to, the essence of a great story will shine through. Don’t be afraid to start small– in fact, you’ll probably get more audience that way!

Sustaining Sea Scallops Documentary info:

Initial release: 2016
Directors: Daniel Cojanu, Elise Hugus
Produced by Coonamessett Farm Foundation & UnderCurrent Productions

Unable to make the screening tonight at Groundwork? Check out the documentary here: