Alumni website takes the road less traveled by

by Shelby Grebbin / Beacon Staff • February 24, 2016

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Leigha Morris and Lucianna Coccia ‘15 launched their website earlier this month.
Courtesy of Whatever Times
Leigha Morris and Lucianna Coccia ‘15 launched their website earlier this month.
Courtesy of Whatever Times

From the backroads of our country to the forefronts of our society,Whatever Timesseeks tonavigate the adventures of America’s youth. 

Whatever Times, a new “digital space” created by class of ‘15 alumni Leigha Morris and Lucianna Coccia, who currently live in Los Angeles, is a new site for creatives with places to go, people to see, and perspectives to change. The website showcases art, photography, and writing, all from a Gen Y point of view. 

“It’s about the real and the rawness about what we all are going through as young people in the United States,” Morris said in a phone interview. “We don’t care about shares, likes, correct photos or formats. It’s just kind of our way of expressing ourselves in the world.”

Morris and Coccia  said the idea for the website began after they graduated and set out to find adventure in the Midwest. 

“We met this awesome couple named Dave and Charlotte in Illinois,” Coccia said in a phone interview. “They told us crazy stories about how they camped for half a year in the Gulf of Mexico and spent the other half in Wyoming. We really connected on a human level.”

The duo said they plan trips when it’s affordable and convenient, and they are looking to make the site a live feed of their adventures on the road. 

“We want to create content as we stop by music festivals and different small towns and stuff like that,” Morris said. “We don’t want to schedule too much in advance, but we want to check out places that people don’t really know about.”

Coccia was a visual and media arts major and took photos for the Beacon. She’s now the photography and art director of Whatever Times

“I really like art photography, so when we were on our road trips, I always had my DSLR camera and a film camera on me, and I just documented our travels from my perspective,” Coccia said. 

The pair said they haven’t labeled the website as a series, a publication, or a platform yet.

“It’s kind of just a void that we want to fill,” Morris said. “A lot of us found that articles are being written about millennials by 40 year olds. We found that as millennials, we do have a lot to say, but we didn’t have a space to put it.”

The website’s clean, crisp, and colorful aesthetic features a main menu that resembles a picnic table scattered with camping artifacts. Morris was a marketing communications major at Emerson and is the marketing and design director of Whatever Times

“As a graphic designer, I get my inspiration from the random shit that I’m going through in my life,” Morris said. “There’s this homeless man who lives behind my building, his name is Tucan, and you will never meet anyone like him. It’s just meeting people like that who are true to themselves that really inspires me.”

The Whatever Times’sonline gallery includes film and digital photographs along with videos.

“Leigha and I both have certain things that we bring to the table,” Coccia said. “She’s really good at graphic design, and I’m really good at photography, but we both like to write. So we figured we would make a platform where we could share her graphics, my photos, as well as both of our articles.” 

This month, Morris published an article titled “Old People R Better,” commenting on the phrase “old and cute,” a term commonly used to describe the charm of the elderly. Morris said she was inspired to write the article after spending time with some older people who live around the corner from her apartment. 

“There was this older gentleman who works at the pizza shop,” Morris said. “A lot of the people who really know him love him, but others just don’t really think of him. This man had all of these crazy stories about how he had done his own road trips and was in a band, but until you listen to those stories, he’s just another old dude.” 

The duo encourages Emerson students and graduates alike to send in their work to Whatever Times. 

“The whole purpose behindWhatever Times is that we are really open to anyone who has a passion or a story or an art piece or anything that they are trying to make a statement with but haven’t found a space to put it yet,” Morris said. 

Irene Merrow ‘14, a visual and media arts graduate, wrote a piece for the website called “Social Media is My Bitch Lover.” 

“When I checked out the site, I noticed that one aspect of it that was really cool was that they were not looking to have clickbait, headlines, or likes on social media,” Merrow said. “So I thought it would be funny to write an honest piece about how I care about likes on social media. On a lot of social media platforms, you’re supposed to play it down like you don’t care about likes, but I think deep down we are all hungry for them.”

Merrow said Whatever Timesappealed to her because there are few restrictions. 

“I do freelance writing for other sites, and they want me to stick to their voice and follow their restrictions,” Merrow said. “Leigha [Morris] told me to write about whatever I was passionate about.”

Morris and Coccia follow a mantra posted on the website called “The Whatever Code,” which outlines the core beliefs of the pair—to only post content they are passionate about, to always live in the moment, and to be open to new ideas and people.

“We’re trying to keep it honest and organic, that’s the whole basis of what we do,” Coccia said. “It’s just whatever, you know?”