Faces of the Hive: Akotowaa Ofori (PO ’20)

The last Faces of the Hive interview featured Elijah Jabbar-Bey, and you should check that post out if you haven’t already. He was interviewed by co-worker Akotowaa Ofori. This time, we’ve flipped the script, and Elijah has interviewed Akotowaa in a fascinating interview we hope you’ll enjoy as well!


What’s the meaning of your name?

Akotowaa: It means “that which was fetched or brought forth for its anticipated value.”

The story behind the name is that a long time ago in this village in Ghana (which is where I’m from and have lived my whole life), there was a chief with multiple wives, and his first wife was pregnant with a son who was prophesized to be the greatest leader that the people would have ever seen. One day when the chief left the palace, the first wife was walking around, and she saw this delicious plate of food. So she ate it. But it was sacrilege for anyone who wasn’t the chief to eat the chief’s food, so when the chief came back and discovered his food had been eaten, he was really mad. He asked who committed the crime, and no one confessed. His hand was forced, and he resorted to declaring that when the culprit was found, they would be sentenced to death. Eventually he found out that the culprit was his wife, and he couldn’t take back his word, so he ordered to have her executed. But the people wouldn’t let her die along with the unborn child who was prophesized to be the tribe’s greatest leader. So, right before the wife was executed, they performed a C-section on her and brought out the baby, which they named Akoto. Literally the name means “that which was fetched,” and the addition of the “waa” makes it female.


Actions or words?

Akotowaa: *Laughs* This is a complicated question. I am very tempted to answer “words” because I am a very word-oriented person. I like reading and poetry. I mean, I suppose sometimes words fail and actions would be better, but personally, my method of taking action is using words. I think I’m a words-over-actions kind of person, and maybe that’s because I’m lazy, who knows? *laughs*


How did you get into spoken word?

Akotowaa: I got into spoken word in high school when a senior told me that she was holding an experimental open-mic event. I had no idea what an open-mic was, but somebody told her that I write poetry, and so she decided to seek me out and ask me to do this thing. I didn’t know what spoken word was, so all I did was write an ordinary poem; it rhymed and everything. It was horrible. *laughs* I memorized it and said it out loud.

Photo credit: Reina Hernandez (also a Hive student staff member)

Later on though, probably a year later, I smuggled myself onto a bus that was going to a poetry and jazz festival, and I got there and saw what was happening and was like, “Oh my goodness! What is this?! This is so cool!” One of the poets who performed was absolutely amazing, so when she was done, I went backstage just to find her and talk to her, and she asked me if I write. At that point I had given up poetry, so I said, “Yeah, I used to, but I don’t anymore …” and she was like, “Yeah you’re going to start writing again, and when you do, show it to me.” She was a pretty well-known poet at the time, and she built a relationship with me just based on me going backstage to talk to her. She raised me in the spoken word scene in Ghana, in a sense.


What role does creativity play in your life?

Akotowaa: The role creativity plays in my life is giving me a reason to be alive (mic drop).

I’d honestly be pretty bored without it because, you know, so many things are just schedule and routine: wake up, go to class, do homework, come back, sleep. And I think I derive the most enjoyment out of life based on books I read or cool new things that I see. I honestly can’t imagine wanting to stay alive without the inspiration of creativity. I wake up with this fire when I believe that I have something really cool that I want to make a reality that day.


What brought you to the Hive?

Akotowaa: Knowing my personality, if there was any ideal place for me to work on campus, it’s the Hive. It is this center of creativity, and I’ve always wanted to be a part of something that is just that and to contribute to it in any way I can. My sponsor was actually the first one who told me about the Hive and told me that I should check it out. I finally went to take a trip there one Sunday, and I loved it.


What’s something you dream about?

Akotowaa: There are so many, I don’t even know what to pick…. One of them is to be able to tour the world making and/or performing art with my closest artistic friends. That’s something that would absolutely rock my world. It’s a fantasy of mine to just be free to see the world and make art at the same time and not worry about anything.


What technology would you like to see made possible in the future?

Akotowaa: It would definitely have something to do with eyes. I feel restricted a lot by my myopia and the fact that I have to wear glasses. Like, I could get contacts, but it’s not like I could swim with them, you know? Or like, what if my glasses break? I want to be able to just turn it off or on – the need to wear glasses – without having contacts or laser-eye surgery, because I like wearing glasses too sometimes. *laughs* But it would be nice to be able to choose when to need them.


If somebody could only interact with you once and take away one thing from you, what would you want that to be?

Akotowaa: I would like to tell them a fantastic story that they would remember for the rest of their life. That story doesn’t exist right now, though. *laughs*



Akotowaa’s working hours are Tuesdays from 6-9pm and Saturdays from 3-6pm. Feel free to drop in!

If you’re interested in checking out Akotowaa’s spoken word, she has an EP out called “Solitaire,” which you can find here: http://akotowaa.wordpress.com/solitaire-ep


We’re CMCtv Famous!

A couple of weeks ago, Thomas D’Anieri (CMC ’20) of CMCtv reached out to the Hive about creating a video introducing the campus to our space. After a tour with post-baccalaureate associate Lucia Ruan and an interview with post-baccalaulareate associate Timothy Moore, here‘s the 2-minute, 43-second result. We hope this video facilitates students’ understanding of what the Hive is about and inspires them to come utilize our resources in innovative ways. Thanks, Thomas!


Hope to see you around the Hive ~

Spring Break at 130 E 7th Street

From 3/11/17 to 3/19/17, students at the Claremont colleges took a week to step away from work and unwind from the stress of school. Although spring break is supposed to be, well, a break, the Hive did not rest! Not only did we stay open to accommodate the 5C community’s creative juices, we also planned fun workshops to help students relax, cool down, and eat. Check out our spring break recap below!


SPRING BREAK SPECIAL: Make Fried Rice with Hayat Ramzi (PO ’19)

3/13/17, 4:30-6:30PM

On Monday, we took a step outside of the Hive and into the kitchen! When post-baccalaureate associate Lucia Ruan (PO ’16) was a wee first-year, she remembers struggling to find affordable food while staying on campus during spring break. So, she thought, what better opportunity to help people in the same situation while also teaching them how to prepare food for the future? When she posed the question, Pomona sophomore Hayat Ramzi answered the call. Hayat offered to teach her simple summer classic, fried rice, along with an unbelievably easy Oreo truffle recipe. The results were delicious!


Matinee Movie Break: Lilo and Stitch

3/16/17, 3-5PM

In an effort to get rid of all of the ice cream sandwiches in our fridge leftover from another event, we decided to host a chill hangout to share our goods with the greater community. Post-baccalaureate associate Christie Zeeb (HMC ’16) said, “Why don’t we show a movie?” And so it was. After polling the 5C community on what film they would most like to watch, the people had spoken; we screened Lilo and Stitch on a hot Thursday afternoon.


Stitch is troubled. He needs desserts!

- LiloLilo and Stitch (2002)


We had a great time this spring break, and we hope you did, too! We’re excited to jump back into the second half of the semester. See you around the Hive—possibly at Lose Your Shoes?


Faces of the Hive: Elijah Jabbar-Bey (PO ’19)

The Hive has some pretty interesting and creative student staff and we want you to get to know some of them better, through our Faces of the Hive series. In this informal, partly spontaneous interview, Elijah Jabbar-Bey, one of the newest members of the Hive staff, sits down with co-worker Akotowaa Ofori, and reveals some fascinating facts about his personality.


What is the meaning of your name?

Elijah: My first name means “faithful to God.” My last name “warrior and protector.”

I looked it up: Jabbar literally translates to “Almighty” and Bey to “leader.”


What do you think is the most creative/coolest thing about you?

Elijah: That’s a tough question.

Really? Okay, if you met someone right now and really wanted to impress them, what would you say about yourself?

Elijah: There is a difference between what you think would impress people and what you actually believe is cool about you.

Okay, that’s true. But if you met me for the first time, what would you say about yourself that could impress me?

Elijah: I aspire to be a museum curator for African art or an artist myself.

Cool! Is it true though?

Elijah: Yup.

There, see, you found a balance between what you think is cool and what you think I’d think is cool! What kind of artist are you?

Elijah: I’m a visual artist. I draw a lot. I have less experience painting. I’m also interested in fashion. I’ll just have ideas for designs for shirts and hats and stuff, and I get help from people who actually make them real. It’s cool to wear or use something that you created or designed.

Very true! How often do you draw?

Elijah: Not as much as I’d like to, but in class a lot. [Laughs] Which is not good.

Did you create a lot as a kid?

Elijah: Yeah. I used to draw a lot more as a kid, but that was pretty much the extent of my creating.

So what got you into making hats and shirts and things like that?

Elijah: I think that was a result of my interest in fashion and caring more about how I look and what I wear, the brands I like and the images they use. And I wanted to create things that I wanted to wear. It’s getting harder and harder for me to go to a store and find things I actually like.

Do you think that’s because you think what you see isn’t cool, or because your taste keeps changing?

Elijah: I think it’s partly because my taste keeps changing but also because it doesn’t feel right. Like when you go and get a suit tailored, it feels like it’s for you. But when you go to a store, it’s like mass production, it was created for millions of people, not necessarily for you. It’s for the general consumer.

What kind of designs do you put on your hats and your shirts?

Elijah: Well I’ve only made one hat so far, and it’s a logo of a brand I want to create called “Moons,” and it’s about space. And my mother’s last name was Moone, and so it’s kind of an ode to her. In general, other ideas I have are just cool images, cool color schemes, things I’d want to wear, stuff that looks good together, and just different landscapes.

Do you like the idea of space a lot?

Elijah: There are people who are more into it than me. I’m not a hardcore Star Wars fan or anything. I just like the idea of exploring different planets and the unknown—the idea of discovering new and different things than what we know here. Also, I think to be honest, one of my favorite artists and musical influences, Kid Cudi’s first project was “Man on the Moon,” and it had a big influence on me growing up.


What brought you to the Hive?

Elijah: Wanting to explore my interest in the arts more. I enjoyed this space a lot as a visitor and I feel like I have good ideas and could add to the environment to make it an even better place.

What did you do on those times you visited?

Elijah: One time I came to make a model for an idea for a clock I had. I bought a clock, took the face off, replaced the numbers with letters, and it ended up spelling out “The Time Is Now.” The original idea came from my ID1 course, which was on DIY philosophy. My professor brought buttons and I drew a clock that spelled out “F*** the time.” But I realized that was kind of negative, so I made it “The Time Is Now” instead.

Super cool! Can we see it?

Elijah: Sure.


If you had a million dollars right now, what would you do with it?

Elijah: I would be smart with it because a million is really not that much. It’s nice, but it can blow away real fast. I would talk to somebody who knows stocks real well and invest it. Buy a car. Pay off the rest of my tuition so my parents don’t even have to worry about it for the rest of the semesters—and I’m going abroad next year …

What kind of car?

Elijah: Probably a real nice sports car. Or an old classic. Like an old ‘70s Mustang convertible. Or this make called Thunderbird, which is really cool.

How come you’re going abroad?

Elijah: Because of my major. I declared Africana Studies …

That’s great—you finally did it! Why did you decide to be an Africana major?

Elijah: I feel like everything in my life was guiding me towards that. I think it naturally happened when I just let myself gravitate toward what really made me happy. And I guess it’s just about learning more about my experiences in this world and my family and the larger black community and our experiences in this world. And if I like studying it, why not do it anyway—because it’s a part of my identity and it’s not going away any time soon.


Why did you come all the way to Pomona?

Elijah: I think I always saw myself in California because of the different things I’m interested in, and wanting to be surrounded by nature. I came here, visited, and just fell in love with it. It was my top choice right away.


Why do you like to create?

Elijah: Because it’s tangible. Like you can say, “Look, I produced this thing from my brain or my hands” or whatever you’re using. Like with skateboarding, it’s your legs.

Is skateboarding creating though?

Elijah: Yeah. Every movement of your body is creation.

Oh, actually that makes a lot of sense, when you think about dancing, for example. That’s creativity.

Elijah: Exactly.


Lastly, what is creativity to you?

Elijah: It’s what you make of what you’ve got.

That’s a great answer.


Elijah’s working hours are Tuesday and Wednesday from 7-9pm, so pass through if you’d like to make something, have a conversation, chill, or just say hi!

February at the Hive

Rise of the Creative Class with Jason Mayden


Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Hive welcomes Jayson Mayden, former Nike Design Director at Jordan Brand and Designer-in-Residence at Accel Ventures. Jason Mayden brings a unique perspective to the Claremont Colleges as he became the first design intern at Jordan Brand and worked at Nike for 13 years. He created strategic apparel platforms for Chris Paul, Derek Jeter, Carmelo Anthony and, of course, Michael Jordan.

As a “designer, lecturer, artist, collector of curious and wonderfully crafted goods, sports junkie, book worm, equality in education advocate, 1990’s hip hop enthusiast, and social innovator”, Jason Mayden will share his journey in product design, user experience, life and embracing the power of being you.

Check out Jason Mayden in the two videos below:


TEDx Talk

From street violence to Stanford Business School to designing Nike Shoes: Jason Mayden

And the Hive course grant awards go to…

The Hive is pleased to announce that we have awarded 12 grants to teams of faculty and staff from the Claremont Colleges to infuse creative collaboration and active learning into their Spring 2017 courses. Their proposals are varied, yet collectively they experiment with experiential learning, cross-disciplinary and cross-campus approaches, collaboration among students, non-traditional disciplinary inquiry, and learning experiences not possible in the previous course design. In Spring 2017, students supported by the Hive grants will:

  • Perform Latin American dance as a starting point of inquiry into Latin American cultures and histories
    • Arianna Alfaro (Pitzer; Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures) for SPAN 022: Intensive Introductory Spanish
  • Experiment and collaborate to find equations that describe given shapes and then print 3-D models using the equations
    • David Bachman (Pitzer; Mathematics) for MATH 145B: Geometric Modeling
  • Develop mutually beneficial intergenerational connections through collaborative learning between elders and undergraduates
    • Susan Castagnetto (Pomona; Philosophy) for PHIL 046: Feminism & Science
  • Design and build an interactive art installation for the library that makes digital library resources tangible
    • Sarah Gilbert (Pitzer; Art), Alexandra Chappell (Librarian; Honnold/Mudd), and Madelynn Dickerson (Librarian; Honnold/Mudd) for ART 176: Materiality, Craft and Labor
  • Participate in health and healing workshops with community members, visit community organizations, and teach a community-based educational program at Huerta del Valle, the Pitzer co-founded urban farm
    • Susan Phillips (Pitzer in Ontario; Environmental Analysis), Tessa Hicks Peterson (Pitzer; Urban Studies and Community Engagement Center), and Lourdes Arguelles (CGU Emeritus; Educational Studies and Pitzer in Ontario) for ONT 101: Critical Community Studies and ONT 105: Research Methods for Community Change
  • Prototype design solutions to water conservation issues in Southern California based on their analysis of geospatial and other data
    • Lance Neckar (Pitzer; Environmental Analysis), Tanja Srebotnjak (Harvey Mudd; Hixon Center for Sustainable Design), and Hal VanRyswyk (Harvey Mudd; Chemistry) for EA 134: Sustainable Place Studio and EA 34: Environmental Art/Public Art
  • Sail a traditional “tall ship” to understand how the 19th-century sailors’ work songs they have studied in class fit the ship-board work and to test variables of how the work-singing may have operated historically
    • Gibb Schreffler (Pomona; Music) for MUS 074: American Maritime Musical Worlds
  • Visit solid and water waste facilities; create sensorial, multi-media maps to document different types of waste and garbage in Claremont; design, develop, and test a scratch and sniff monitoring tool for tracking waste odors; and run workshops on sensorial mapping
    • Christy Spackman (Harvey Mudd; Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts) and Marianne de Laet (Harvey Mudd; Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts) for HSA 10: Critical Inquiry, the Wonderful World of Trash and STS 179F: Wastescapes
  • Record, project, visualize, and model spatial data from the field using Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) and analyze their findings with the foundations of spatial statistics
    • Tanja Srebotnjak (Harvey Mudd; Hixon Center for Sustainable Design) and Warren Roberts (GIS Support Specialist; Honnold/Mudd) for MATH 161: Environmental/Spatial Statistics
  • Learn from the knowledge of indigenous cultural practitioners, including making a traditional Tongan cloth called tapa, preparing traditional foods, and learning traditional dances
    • Kehaulani Vaughn (Pomona; Intercollegiate Department of Asian American Studies) for ASAM 111: Pacific Islanders and Education
  • Participate as co-learners in popular education workshops at a summit at the Highlander Center, a catalyst for grassroots organizing in Appalachia and the South
    • Kathy Yep (Pitzer; Intercollegiate Department of Asian American Studies) for ASAM84: Nonviolent Social Change
  • Create original graphic novels based around sociologically relevant themes, issues, movements, and conflicts, exploring how graphic novels can function to inform us about issues of social significance
    • Phil Zuckerman (Pitzer; Sociology) and Jessica McCoy (Pitzer; Art) for SOC/ART 92: The Social World, Graphically

We are excited to hear the reflections of grant recipients and their students as these experiments proceed! Watch this space for their stories throughout the semester.

Creating a Culture of Welcome

From November 13th – 16th, 2016, over 300 faculty, staff, students and industry professionals from over 115 universities came to the first International Symposium on Academic Makerspaces (ISAM) conference at MIT to share and expand on our current understandings of makerspaces. Today, we are proud and excited to share with you one of the amazing videos screened at ISAM that the Hive was featured in about creating a culture of welcome! Please watch “Lowering the Barrier to Making: Lessons from the Rick and Susan Sontag Center for Collaborative Creativity” by former Hive interim directors Tom Maiorana, M.F.A. and Vida Mia García, Ph.D. below.

Announcing the Spring 2017 Hive Course Grants Program

Dear Colleagues,

The Rick and Susan Sontag Center for Collaborative Creativity (the Hive) is continuing its program of awarding small grants to experiment with infusing creative collaboration and active learning into courses at the 5Cs. We will be awarding grants for Spring ‘17 course elements of up to $1000 to support activities by individual faculty members and up to $3000 for interdisciplinary or intercollegiate teams. We will also support courses through non-monetary means such as space, staff time, and design expertise. The proposals will be evaluated by the following criteria:

(1) The proposal features an experiential component –
A past example is a Chican@/Latin@ Studies course on fandango in which students learned and performed the dances, deepening their understanding of individual and communal creative expression.

(2) The proposal includes students and/or faculty from multiple campuses or disciplines –
A past example is a pop-up workshop co-taught by a physics professor at Pomona and a visiting artist which was attended by students in art courses at HMC and Pomona.

(3) The proposal involves substantial collaborative activity among the students –
A past example is an art history course in which students worked together to research Native American ceramic artworks, harvest local clay, and invent a ceramic tradition of their own.

(4) The activities that stem from the proposal promote non-traditional approaches to disciplinary inquiry –
A past example is a philosophy course that utilized a hands-on, collaborative thought experiment to challenge students to wrestle with the ambiguity of scientific inquiry.

(5) The proposal allows for learning experiences that are not possible in the current course design.

If you have questions about the principles that drive our criteria, or would like to discuss ways to increase collaborative creativity in your course, please contact us (your college’s steering committee members are listed here: https://creativity.claremont.edu/team-3/). We enthusiastically support proposals that seem risky and ideas that are developing. In our view, great learning experiences come from a process of experimentation, learning from successes and failures, and continuous improvement. We encourage you to pose questions, follow hunches, and engage in self-reflection throughout the grant experience. If you would like help developing your proposal, feel free to contact us for assistance.

Elements Supported
These grants are intended to be used for course components for which current funding mechanisms do not exist. Funding is intended to support specific activities (e.g., class tours or trips), outside facilitators for active-learning workshops (e.g., guest dance instructors), supplies (e.g., film, printing paper, pipe cleaners), and/or faculty attendance at a workshop or other specialized education (if the education specifically relates to the course changes being implemented). Staff time and expertise can support these course elements in a variety of ways, including but not limited to help designing course activities, acquiring materials, teaching class sections or relevant workshops, and aiding research on the impacts of the course experiment. We encourage faculty to discuss with us other needs that may fall outside these categories.

To apply for a course grant, please complete the attached application form and return it to Linda.Shimoda@hive.claremont.edu by Friday, December 2, 2016.

Fred Leichter

Rick and Susan Sontag Center for Collaborative Creativity
130 E. Seventh Street
Claremont, CA

Course Grants Call for Proposals and Application Form

We Have Mural Paint!

Hello all,

The Hive and the Associated Students of Pomona College Senate are happy to announce a collaboration in order to provide paint to the 5C community! This paint can be used by members of the 5C community on approved mural spaces across the campuses, including Walker Wall. Check out our “Mural Paint” tab under “Resources at the Hive” for more information, including a link to the request form. We are excited for this opportunity and look forward to seeing murals around campus!

Mead-2010-east Z Tower Wall

Pitzer’s free wall on the north wall of Mead Z Tower in the summer of 2010. The free wall provides a space where anyone can put up words or art in the moment without having to obtain approval.