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Going to WOW

I have been wanting to go to this event for sometime, having lived in Wellington for nearly a decade now. The cost to attend is not insignificant and other things have always come up to prevent us from selecting this entertainment option. Last year we were saving for a trip to Europe, and previous years similar circumstances or alternative events prevented us from attending. The day finally arrived though and it was a beautiful day and we headed down to the water front intent on visiting the art exhibit at Te Papa before having dinner and taking in the show. We hopped on the train early in the afternoon and after a coffee decided to stop at the portrait gallery which is along the way. We were introduced to the life work of Jacqueline Fahey.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacqueline_Fahey

There was also a small tribute to Carmen Rupe who I had read about before and possibly learned about at the Wellington museum.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carmen_Rupe

I had visited the Te Papa new(ish) installation the “Finaled: Bouquet” and the amazing Godon Walters exhibit earlier in the week while attending Nethui. I knew my wife would enjoy it as well, and we had fun taking selfies in front of the installation.

Not a selfie

We had recently been to the City art gallery where we learned about Theo Schoon so caught the references there to his friend.

Finally my thoughts about WOW. Wow. It didn’t start of so well because I was annoyed with the band playing Michael Jackson tunes. Obviously they did not get the brief that his music, while being something most people enjoy myself included, is not the greatest thing to throw out there in public any more. I guess they did not get the finding neverland brief. I quite enjoy the early Jackson 5 music, but finding the more modern stuff a bit gross now after watching that movie. Maybe I’m a prude but enjoy the perverts music on your own time. Consider how people who have had similar abuse experiences may react to hearing that music, and the associations it may bring.

Then I realized I had purchased a program and had to go running around from my seat which was like the highest most furthest point from the small kiosk on the bottom floor which was the only place you could redeem your prepaid program coupon. So I had go running around the congested arena and get back to my seat minutes before the show started. Then of course the first thing I did when the show started was spill my nearly full plastic cup of wine all over my program and my pants. And I think I missed the first few moments drying myself off.

After that everything was splendid though. I love the abstract, drifting almost narrative creativity of it all. There is a stage and the human body as a canvas and some great craft weaving magic.

WOW greeters

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Tūrangawaewae at Nethui

I went to Nethui:

There were a lot of wonderful people there. It was nice to talk with them, but mostly I listened.

Panel on building an inclusive Internet

The focus was on inclusion and providing a safe space online. There were a lot of things said at the conference that will stick with me, but if I had to pull one out of the air right now it was something Pakeeza Rashid said when making the point that the Internet is an extension of ourselves, of our society and of our world.

Thinking about building an inclusive Internet is really how do you build and inclusive society? Full stop.

Pakeeza Rashid

Which kind of encapsulates how I feel about the whole thing. I know some things need to be censored they are harmful. I choose not to watch them, even though I know how to circumvent most censorship. So making them more inaccessible for the unwary is certainly good work. Harmful behaviours like bullying online need some more controls. At the end of the day we can not stop people putting ugly and hateful things online. We can’t stop people from saying and doing bad things in “real” life. But we have to try and the work needs to be done in both places.

So thinking about this and thinking about the call for action points, I can’t get over this feeling that a better Internet starts by talking together. By working together. But where can we do that?

Taking some inspiration from Greta Thunberg in a session on “building a sustainable Internet” it occurred to me some area where I might be able to contribute in some small way. We broke into three small groups to cover these topics:

  • Ewaste
  • Activism
  • Carbon offsets

I joined the group thinking about Ewaste since I have some fair amount of experience with this topic.

Ewaste Brainstorm.

Memories of the days I have spent volunteering at community technology centres, helping to build computer hubs, lugging heavy CRT monitors onto the backs of trucks to ship off for recycling and generally being knee deep in eWaste came back to me.

eDay 2007

I guess it was the low energy “Tamatea Kai Ariki” moon Amber Craig mentioned that put me in this mood. Certainly with the calls for action I hear what she was saying about wanting to plan a meeting like this during a more active moon phase, but the time for reflection worked for me.

I don’t want to say it’s the solution Wellington needs right now, and for certain it’s only a small part of the equation, but I would really like to work on a community technology centre project again. Unfortunately I know the effort involved, and it is quite a daunting proposition, but on a day like this forgive me for being optimistic.

Te Whanganui-a-Tara

I do support one kind of community technology centre already, a small computer hub provided by and organisation that has another primary mission. This is different though, I’m talking about a full blown physical community centre that exists in it’s own right. This is the place where I feel I need to make a stand, and begin looking for a group of people who would like to start an organisation like this:

https://www.freegeek.org/

Whose primary mission is to create a community around the problem of Ewaste. I’m familiar with the similar computer refurbishing projects out there, but they do not have at their core the spirit which Free Geek brings to the community. Just copying the mission statement from the website:

Free Geek’s mission is to sustainably reuse technology, enable digital access, and provide education to create a community that empowers people to realize their potential

FREE GEEK mission statement

This is what I would like to be involved with. It doesn’t necessarily need to be called Free Geek or be affiliated with the mothership, nor follow their activities exactly but I’m looking for the core ingredients. A non-hierarchal governance body. Some clued in funders. A diverse group of hard working, possibly insanely passionate organisers ready to lay the groundwork for a safe, inclusive and accessible physical environment to create a community around technology. An inclusive technology. It hardly needs to be mentioned that it will be focused around Free and Open source software that is just part of the platform.

So where do we go from here. If you look around the corner anything can happen.

Nike Savvas “Finale: Bouquet” at Tepapa