I will need to be fast as I am heading off into day 2, but some of the highlights for me did include hearing or rather seeing Howard Rheingold's presentation after all of Rob's comments on the Marshall McLuhan-like father of the internets. Molly Wright Steenson's talk on responsive architecture included two provocations: one on responsive architecture inspired by the work of Cedric Price, and the other on walking through walls and the non-linear alternative military tactics used by Israeli soldiers. The soldiers trained by reading Deleuze. The world could not get any creepier. Actually it probably could. Stowe Boyd was a little more serious this time around talking about the connected 'edglings' responsibility to bridge and connect the activists on the opposite sides of the eath. We are all part of the same flow and need to work together, so that the world community does not head into the Jane Jacob's highlighted Dark Ages Ahead. Word.
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This morning as I went to fetch a coffee with Rob in anticipation of my flight to Copenhagen later this afternoon to attend and speak at Reboot10 (don't ask me why I thought it was a perfectly good idea until now), I noticed a father ordering his two boys to toss something in the waste bin and couldn't help but think some folks should have just joined the military instead of the parenting order.
It's been three weeks in the making (first conversation with Thomas M while I was still in Tanzania trying to get a steady internet heartbeat) and lead-up to doing a talk on 'structure vs freedom'. I barely just finished early this morning/last night after recording a podcast with Nicole Simon yesterday.
Here's hoping I can bring something worthwhile to an already crowded and dynamic table at Reboot10. Other speakers include Joshua Kauffman & Gwendolyn Floyd of Regional, Pedro Custodio, and many others...
I have two stories of Africa, or more to the point, Tanzania Africa. There is the Africa which is lush green with the promise of rolling mountain ranges, misty craters, parks of migrating animals continuing their seasonal cycles. Much of the earthy canvas remains open and tentative to the visitor's eye. There is the sense of possibility if only more infrastructure was developed. The children I visited at the Masai village ran after us smiling. They were so eager to get a glance at our digital cameras and to see themselves peering back from the small screen. Their mothers let us into their small homes and would only let us take a picture after they adorned themselves with all of their ornamental pieces. I couldn't help but compare these families to the ones I see more often at home. I am rarely greeted and welcomed into a stranger's home here in London, and when I think of most young children in the urban setting of London, they all have digital cameras and mobile phones of their own which they play on the train with little concern for the effect it has on the people around them. The easy smiles that flickered in the Masai village are a rarity in the city which is now my home.
My other story of Africa is connected to my last night in Tanzania. We sat waiting in the airport to board our plane back to London via Amsterdam. All of us were tired, dusty and ready to find our way back into our own trusted beds. Suddenly a cry cut through the stillness of the small waiting area. 'Can somebody help us. We need a doctor!' A young man in an orange shirt was scouring the crowd of tourists for some immediate help. His father was having a heart attack. I looked around. The airport staff looked dumbfounded and reacted very minimally. The first burst of energy came from the tourists who recognized the urgency in the young man's voice and posture. Our plane began to board and many felt confusion over whether to stay and watch the crisis unraveling or to board the plane. I boarded not feeling that I could help. Eventually I heard that an ambulance did finally emerge but that it had no equipment. One oxygen didn't work, and the second had no oxygen. The cardiac patient was treated with the defibulator from the KLM airplane. He survived, but one can't help but wonder what would have happened without the intervention of the airplane. And don't the people of Tanzania and Africa deserve better healthcare services?
I have just arrived in Tanzania or more accurately the Lodge where we will be staying for the duration of our workshop. It was a 30 km ride from Kilimanjaro International Airport, which we rode along the main rode underneath a charcoal sky punctuated by a starry constellation I rarely see in the grimy skies of London.
We were led to our rooms by two porters. I was shown a large room with a canopy bed of mosquito netting. Unfortunately the lovely bed had no sheets. I went to reception to inquire after a fresh set and was assured with a smile that they would arrive. After sharing a laugh and a beer with my traveling companion Amy, I returned to my room to find no sheets. Hopefully I will rectify the situation this morning, although I have been warned to take things more slowly in Tanzania.
Traveling always makes me see things a little differently. New smells, sounds and cultural differences emerge when you shift countries and continents.
Today is the last day of prep before we head to Tanzania for our eco-resorts of the future workshop. Heading to that corner of the world always fills me fear and excitement. As the French intern Charlotte remarked of her trip to Tanzania last summer, you often get mistaken for a walking wallet. I just hope in the rush of work, there will be time to take in the lush landscape of Tanzania and to get to know some of the fantastic people that will be coming from as far as San Francisco and as near as down the road.