Posted December 11th 2013 at 2:17 pm by
in From the Editor

A Transition Time for CoLab Media

Phone Chairs

I founded CoLab Radio about four and a half years ago with a vision for a site in which any person could publish any kind of media about her community. Today we’ve published nearly 300 writers, videographers, and photographers from little towns and giant cities all over this world. Most of our contributors have never published a blog post before they create one for us. Some of them have gone on to write for multiple publications. Others have said their one piece — the story about their work to make some place a better place.

Now it’s time for me to move on. It’s my last week at CoLab. I’m leaving with a storage vault of memories of the thousands of email exchanges and meetings it took to produce the content on this site. You all are funny, driven, talented people. It’s been my pleasure.

So I’m leaving you with a photo of my favorite ever street chairs, a lot of love, and a big thank you for putting your work up on CoLab Radio.

If you have any ideas for CoLab Radio, or CoLab media projects in general, it’s a great time to share your thoughts. CoLab will advertise a media director position in the new year. For now, brilliant guest editors are in place, waiting to hear from you. If you have a story about city planning you want to tell, email your ideas to

With Thanks,

Alexa Mills

17 responses to “A Transition Time for CoLab Media”

  1. K. Peters says:

    Alexa, thanks for all the years of great work, for founding CoLab Radio and nurturing it into what it is today. Wishing you all the best in your future endeavours.

  2. John A. says:

    You will be missed. Missed! I’ll never forgot our conversation 4.5 years ago when you told me “I don’t even know what a blog is!” Thank you for taking the time to find out…and for always encouraging me to get my ideas — in writing — on CoLab Radio 🙂

    x, John

  3. Amy S. says:

    Thank you for giving us all a platform to express our thoughts and passions!

  4. Kirsten Greco says:

    Best of luck Alexa! Thank you for all your amazing support and for introducing the power of storytelling to me.

  5. pete says:

    You’ve built a truly valuable, innovative site, Alexa. We’re fortunate to have had the chance to get to know you and work with you. Your openness, energy, creativity bring out the best in collaborative projects. We at Polis will miss you and look forward to staying in touch as you continue to bring so much good into the world, we wish you the very best with all your future plans.

  6. Ruth says:

    Thanks for so much, Alexa! You’ve created a tremendous project, and I assure you west coast planning schools are still trying to figure out how you facilitated such regular, thoughtful, and visually compelling discussions across such a spectrum of contributors. I can’t wait to see what you do next! Good luck!

  7. Alexa Mills says:

    Thanks so much guys. And likewise to all of you. I’m looking forward to seeing what your magic minds produce in the future!

  8. Shoko says:

    Alexa – thanks so much for your amazing work through the CoLAB radio and continuing to engage me in the process. I truly enjoyed and was inspired by every part of it, and learned so much from you! Best wishes in your new adventures to come!!

  9. Dave Cooper says:

    Wow! What a gift you, Alexa and MIT, have given us: a place and processes to dream, create, to grow… As with every transition, in our coming and going we experience a mixture of lament, uncertainty, satisfaction and hope.

    When I first encountered CoLab Radio, I was unemployed and looking for a place to process my late mid-life feelings and thoughts. Then, in the midst of my struggles, I experienced that which most only dream of: a wonderful and needed consulting opportunity in Australia. Yes – Australia! Then, after my return, you graciously offered another wonderful opportunity: to blog about my experiences via CoLab Radio. Wow!

    So it is with gratitude and joy – in this Season of Light – that I give thanks to you.

    In all you do – much joy and success.


  10. Diane Sampson says:

    Alexa, You have brought so much connectivity to the community through your blog. My wish is that you have equal success in all you pursue.



  11. Alexa was one of the small team that built CoLab from scratch. It is hard to imagine what it will be like when she is not here every day.

    I first learned of Alexa after seeing her amazing video about predatory lending in Lawrence. Puppets were telling the stories of people who had lost their homes to predatory lending schemes but were too ashamed to show their faces. Alexa figured out a way to help them tell their stories and preserve their dignity.

    I discovered another amazing Alexa project in the South of Peru in a small Afro-descendant town destroyed by an earthquake. Alexa gave disposable digital cameras to kids and asked them to take pictures of, and then write about, their favorite places. As the professor who taught that course later told us, “the rest of us were running around with technical maps and drawings with no real feel for the city. Alexa went right to the source — the children who had such a clear and truthful sense of the place.” Having discovered these Alexa projects, I knew that I had to work with her. I did not know her name. I asked people to help me find the “Puppet Lady.”

    As John A said, when she came to CoLab, Alexa did not know very much about blogs or social media. But she has a deep heart for stories and the voices of people who don’t get asked what they think or what their experience has been. She unerringly finds some essential truth of the matter, whether the matter is gentrification in Bed Stuy, ground water contamination in Benham, Kentucky, or past lives of buildings in Boston. From the beginning, we at CoLab hoped to stand for voice and some essential truth about important matters of social marginality. But the truth is that we did not really know what that meant or how to do it. Alexa showed us how, while inventing CoLab Radio, and our other forms of media, as she went along.

    I am so excited to see what will come next for Alexa, what new things she will invent. I know that they will only get better, smarter, more creative, more beautiful. Thank you, thank you Alexa. Mazel Tov! Onward!!

  12. Annette Kim says:

    Wow – hard to imagine you not there, but the legacy of your creative leadership will be. Thanks for giving voice to so many and amplifying so many stories that were only whispered. Look forward to what you will do next.

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  14. Judy Jia says:

    Dear Alexa, thank you for your cheerful energy in building up CoLab Radio. I enjoy browsing the blog and stopping by CoLab. I also want to thank you for encouraging me to write, though I didn’t contribute much…(I will continue writing). For me DUSP was a life-changing experience. Thank you for being one of those who refreshed my eyes and made me feel the love. All the best!


    Thank you, Alexa, for being a source of innovation, beauty and inspiration. You created a gateway for MIT into our communities that is a model for how academia can translate itself to real world relevance. We will be watching your next steps! All the best, Becky

  16. Aditi says:

    Alexa, you have built something so special and helped, as well as inspired so many to tell their stories. Thank you so much for that! And thank you for being such a great teacher. I know that after learning from you, I saw the world a little bit differently. Best of luck in your future endeavors. You’ll be amazing!

  17. So many messages of thanks and appreciation of your energy, openness, inspiration and suppport, Alexa. Yet there can never be too many of those – so here’s another one! Thanks for giving us the opportunity to get our voices heard and our cities and communities seen. I was so impressed by your idea for recording familiar yet extraordinary noises, inspired by your upstairs neighbor’s chanting of Jewish prayers. I wish you the very best of luck with your next endeavours, and do hope that it will mean that our paths will cross again. xx

  18. james rojas says:

    Thanks for your support from publishing work in Latino communities.