Coding WOrkshop




In Fall 2021, Mark and Yvon in collaboration with the Hawthorne Youth and Community Center hosted a coding workshop with five local teenagers, taught by Susan Klimczak of the Teach 2 Learn, learn 2 Teach program at the Mel King Fab Lab at the Madison Park Vocational High School.
supported by two grants from the Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture: one from the Transformative Public Art program and one from the Opportunity Fund. 2.0. The project's goal was to redesign the lighting installation to improve it and make it far more energy efficient.

Design and Development

 Mark Schafer and Yvon Augustin, along with some of the teens who helped develop and design the programming code that power and control the breathing glow of the individual trees. Participants from for the “Light, Coding, Action!” workshop were recruited from local Boston schools such as John D. Obrien School of Match and Science Boston Latin Academy.  

The Lights, Coding, Action! workshop participants, along side instructor Susan Klimczak learned together to program microcontrollers with Arduino (a coding language similar to C++) in order to control programmable LED light strips. The light strips would then be wrapped aroung a circle of trees in the field next to the Hawthorne Youth and Community Center in Roxbury’s Highland Park, (184 Highland Street) to create a pattern of breathing that glows and dims, seeminly breathing during the evenings and nights. Due to technical issues, the installation and inauguration of the redesigned public artwork was delayed until this winter 2022. 

Coding workshop

Quotes from the Teens

“Coming every week to the
“Lights, Coding, Action!” workshop, coding, eating pizza, and having some
laughs, was a highlight of my week. Almost a year later, we got a text saying
that the lights were ready to go up! We got to come back together and do
some final adjustments. This was a great program and I’m glad I was able
to be a part in adding some light to our community.” – Saje Cosby

“Coding was always an interest of mine, so when I heard about the “Lights, Coding, Action!” workshop one day at school, it piqued my interest. But there was another reason for my interest: I was lonely and antisocial. Knowing I could be in a group with people who might have had a similar interest to me made me happy. Over the next few weeks, we learned about Arduino (the coding language that we were using) and how one could mess around with the LEDs using the Arduino. In July 2022, Mark emailed us all to explain that he and Yvon had finally got a test working—our original plan of putting the lights around trees had worked. Three months later, I walked into the area where the trees were. And then it hit me: So much had happened to me during the program that I never realized was so essential to my current day self. The program helped me interact with people more often, which in turn helped me in the long run. I’m happy I came to the program because it helped me in ways I couldn’t imagine. It was quite an unexpected experience for me: its own, very unique experience.” – Darvin Luna Rodríguez

The coding workshop last fall-winter was a great and really fun experience. The adults there were very friendly and Susan [the instructor] was a sweet and really great teacher. I was a bit bummed out that we couldn’t get everything set up in time but coming back this fall and seeing Mark and Yvon again and helping set up the installation was a cool experience. I got to help set up the lights with the actual Arduino boards that held all the code I saw and helped develop. The tree I saw with the lights all lit looked amazing, and I can’t wait to bring my friends down to see the light show. The community of Highland Park is really lucky to have the pretty lights lit up whenever they pass by.” – Daniel Idemudia

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If you’ve visited the “Winterlights: A Circle of Peace” public art light installation at 184 Highland Street in Roxbury, we’d love to hear from you.
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