I use the term “meaning-making” as a phrase to help learners / community members (and myself) begin to free ourselves from the ways in which we’ve been conditioned to understand where learning happens, who has legitimacy or value as a transmitter / source of information / intelligence, and to help us think about contemporary, past, and future strategies for reclaiming this practice as central and essential to human life, before and beyond institutions.

In my classroom within institutions, I bring in the question of “meaning-making” as a sort of fugitive practice, encouraging students to consider the ways in which horizontal learning and sharing of information and strategy is happening between them and in their lives and the systems within which they operate. Beyond the institution, I seek to create spaces that offer invitation, possibility, opportunity, access and entry to often siloed lines of inquiry that become associated with privilege and gatekeeping, having a personal relationship to theory more akin to that of bell hooks in Theory as a Liberatory Practice. I, too, came to theory “because I was hurting,” and find in the act of research and collective theorizing possibilities for critical discourse and the building of new forms.

My practice around meaning-making seeks to create open resources for others whenever possible. This means that in addition to the productions of The Operating System and Liminal Lab, my own work is always published under Creative Commons licensing and open access. It also means I believe in the power of social networks, and the critical, intentional use of these tools as unprecedented radical platforms for personal and collective transformation. I create original public video and graphic content that I share via Instagram, and gather original media, projects, and programs on You Tube, Vimeo, Soundcloud, and elsewhere, as well as here on this website and on The Operating System.

Publishing online and off, in particular self-and-community based publishing, has been central to the way in which meaning-making is implemented for me for over two-decades. Modeling for others a permission granting and also archival-oriented awareness of the ways we tell our own story and document our life and process, stressing the critical value of print:documentation in particular with sensitivity to the challenges of born-digital media has been a mission of mine for two decades.