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Stephen Walter

Program Director, Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics

Stephen Walter researches and designs civic media, technology, and spaces. At the Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics, he helps lead efforts around experiments in civic engagement, storytelling, technology, and research. Some programs he's run at MONUM include: a civic experimentation meta-experiment called Beta Blocks; the Bloomberg Philanthropies-funded Third Spaces Lab; a community crowdfunding initiative called Community Made; an augmented reality campaign for creating more equitable digital spaces for youth called Participatory Pokemon Go; and the design and programming of the Engagement Center, an experimental, low threshold day shelter / living room on Melnea Cass / Mass Ave for people needing a place to be. He also helped co-authored the City's Civic Research Agenda.

Previously, Steve was the founding managing director of the Engagement Lab, an applied research lab for reimagining civic engagement in a digital era. There he led the design and development of online engagement platforms like Community PlanIt, digital games like Civic Seed, analog games like UpRiver, and initiatives like the UN Gamechanger Fellowship and Games for Social Change Program. He’s conducted action research projects in places like Detroit, Boston, Philadelphia, Moldova, Zambia, Egypt, and Bhutan, and has worked at the International Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre, the United Nations Development Programme, the US Department of State, and the PBS television shows Frontline and Nova. His research appears in the books "Civic Media: Technology, Design, Practice (MIT Press)" and "The Playful Citizen: Power, Creativity, Knowledge (University of Amsterdam Press)," and he's a research affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard. 

He likes eating his co-workers’ lunches, the month of September (because it makes him feel funny), and James Baldwin quotes like: "it is not my impression that people wish to become worse; they really wish to become better but very often do not know how.” He has no skills.