Educator at the Museum of Science
What’s your Story?
I lived all over the US as a child. I’ve only been in Massachusetts since my last year of high school, but it’s where I chose to be as an adult and it’s what I identify with as ‘where I’m from’. I’ve spent most of my life searching for a sense of community that I never had as a child. I was fortunate to earn employment, early-on, at the Museum of Science, and I’ve been there for close to three decades, working in the educational outreach program for most of that time. I love what I do and it’s professionally been very fulfilling, but it was a community that ended at 5:00, and my search went on.
What do you make?
One of many wonderful aspects of my work is an opportunity to imagine, design, and build educational programming equipment. The creative side can be either individual or team-based but revolves around developing demonstrations or activities that teach scientific concepts in original, engrossing, and exciting ways. Then you need to come up with equipment that enables those goals in a scientifically accurate way, without creating misconceptions. It has to be light, compact/compactable, and easy to set up quickly. Finally, it has to be aesthetically pleasing. I was always awed by the work our master carpenters put into not just exhibits, but things like the cabinetry and hand railings. I wanted my creations to be equally professional, equally beautiful in their own right.
How did you get involved with Miranda’s Hearth?
I’d lost hope of ever making the personal connections I yearned for. But I’d occasionally stick my nose out of my shell and that’s how I met Tyler Trahan, a colleague at the Museum who, in an astonishingly short time, exposed me to Contra dancing; got me to mime a gas-attack victim on a subway platform at two in the morning; and brought me to Miranda’s Hearth for the first time. While Tyler smiled, socialized, and happily drummed a five-gallon bucket during the jam session at the end, I had a massive anxiety attack and meltdown because I was terrified that I had nothing in common with anyone.
On the subway home, I expected Tyler and another new friend to quietly give up on me. Instead they consoled me, and convinced me that I could change if I wanted to. That I could have a place in this community, or any other I enjoyed, if I was brave and started to believe in myself. I decided at that moment to stop waiting for what I wanted to come to me. And because I’d found it so intimidating, I started with Miranda’s Hearth, by asking Miranda if I could volunteer to help build her Tiny House. Even though she didn’t know me from Bigfoot, she assented. And I discovered a wonderful group of people that were friendly and kind; with fascinating stories and experiences; utterly down-to-Earth despite formidable talents and skills. People who’ve helped me learn, supported me as I’ve grown, and given me the confidence to explore other creative impulses, like singing and drawing. People who felt I had value in their community.
I’m not an artist. I hope to continually improve my creative skills, and to eventually touch people in new emotional ways that aren’t chained to the goal of teaching science. But I belong in Miranda’s Hearth, because the ultimate goal is to just make something, make anything; and what it’s helped me to make is a new and happy self.