Minecraft Block Party is a critical digital literacy workshop series and community art project developed in response to the 2020 Covid school closures as a partnership between the s-1 collective (a subset of Duke University's Speculative Sensation Lab) and the Parents of African American Children committee at Pearsontown Elementary School with support from the Durham Public Schools Foundation.
We designed the workshops to utilize school-issued Chromebooks, scaffold players at all levels, and encourage collaborative worldbuilding, avatar creation, music making with Redstone, and free play led by undergraduate and graduate student "Minecraft Guides." We also created a series of zines to supplement the workshops and showcase student work, and we plan to make these zines available open source during the next iteration of the project. Two of our key goals were to create community during crisis and to generate sustainable interinstitutional connections oriented toward resource-sharing. The first workshop series ran in the summer of 2021 and the second series ran from October to November 2021.
In Fall 2021, the founding team at Duke presented the project on a panel at the Critical Media Literacy Conference of the Americas: Celebrating Paulo Freire's Centennial, organized by the Critical Media Project.
Minecraft Block Party continues as a partnership between Pearsontown PTA's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee and Duke's et al lab. We are grateful for continuing support from the Durham Public Schools Foundation for the 2022-2023 school year and plan to hold our first in-person workshop series in the 2023-24 academic year.