Davidson to focus on Engagement Lab after losing Cambridge election

by Megan Anderson / Beacon Correspondent • November 11, 2015

Mariko Davidson, managing director of Emerson’s Engagement Lab, is turning her attention back to the college after losing her run for Cambridge’s City Council.

The 33-year-old urban planner and civic activist began her campaign in June as a first-time candidate. Davidson took a week off work to campaign in her community leading up to Election Day last Tuesday.

Although the race is over, Davidson said she is still dedicated to promoting civic engagement, and focusing on her position in the lab will let her do that. Davidson joined in July and has since overseen projects that work towards encouraging civic involvement through games.

“Our missions align really well,” Davidson said.

Davidson said the lab is working on several projects. They will continue their partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to hold their “Games for Social Change” workshops, which allow teams to create innovative games to address social dilemmas in Egypt.

At this year’s event in September, they created a card game focused on preventing violence against women. They were awarded a grant from the Knight Foundation to digitize their card game “@Stake,” a role-playing game that tests skills of negotiation and deliberation.

The Knight Foundation is also funding the creation of DataBasic, a media suite designed to easily and quickly analyze data for journalists and community advocacy groups. Catherine D’Ignazio, an assistant professor at Emerson and a fellow at the Engagement Lab, created the program.

“[Davidson] brings a real dynamism and managerial talent to the lab,” D’Ignazio said.

Davidson is unsure of her future involvement with the Cambridge City Council. She said she received emails from many supporters encouraging her to run again in 2017, but she said she doesn’t have plans to get back to campaigning.

“I really had an exciting time running,” Davidson said. “I’m definitely going to stay active in the community.”