Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Maker Faire Bonanza

We have been to three consecutive Maker Faire's in Europe now, staring with Berlin. We showed the Hand of Man at the Berlin Maker Faire, which is always a rewarding experience. One weekend later was Maker Faire Barcelona, and we hobnobed with several interesting makers and innovators, including the San Francisco Maker Faire elite, who were visiting their various European off shoots. 

A few weeks later we were enjoying community Paella and "un demi" at the Nantes Maker Faire, which was really impressive. Maker Faire Nantes was hosted by the mechanical art enterprise known as Les Machines
Les Machines take up a healthy section of the Isle de Nantes, an old industrial island now being gentrified, and are a huge artistic and cultural force with their mechanical contraptions and spectacular sculpted landscapes. Its a collective of hundreds of talented artists under the helm of Francois Delaroziere and Pierre Orefice, who build the dreamy animal and nature based creations that end up in an aquatic merry-go-round or flying wood and steel herons in a elaborate rain forest filled with mechanical carnivorous plants. It's awe inspiring. 
Les Machines grew out of the collective known as Royal Deluxe, also in Nantes, who perform monumental relevant street theater with their massive marionettes all over the world. They have a musical component as well, which we had the pleasure to witness and enjoy at RoboDock in 2007. It was a steam engine musical instrument, manipulated by a dozen musicians on various levers and attached instrumentation. The finale was an impressive steam explosion, shrouding everyone in a cloud of warm mist. 
Clearly Les Machines and their cohorts was a highlight for us...innovative street theater is bound to provoke and agitate.. both words I enjoy considerably.

 The La machine shop...we got to go on a tour and it was as incredible as you may think. The birthplace of the machines of La Machine. We were, truth be told, a little envious...

But back to Maker Faire. With the maker community growing globally, it can both empower and inspire new ideas as well as become a closed circuit of geeks producing the newest nic nac from a 3D printer or laser cutter. In Berlin I came across a project spearheaded by Sam Bloch, where a trailer was being outfitted to provide maker tools and resources for refugees in Europe, and in some small but significant way, address the humanitarian crisis going on here today. This maker-trailer was on its way to a refugee center in Greece, with the intent to provide tech and building resources for the people to gather and make something they actually need(solar powered street lighting for example).

I was struck by how important this link is for the maker movement to stay connected. Bridging the gaps between maker, tech, innovator, resources and addressing current crises is where it gets really exciting. 
With a minor reorientation of focus, the future of the maker movement could have endless inspiration from current humanitarian needs, and departing from inventing the next start up tech gadget would be refreshing and worthy growth. 
I believe this is imperative change for the movement to remain relevant and funded.

We were only in Nantes for a few days, so we did not get to visit ZAD, or Zone A Défendre. ZAD is a well established squatting zone protesting the planned construction of an international airport. "For over 50 years, farmers and locals have resisted the building of a new airport for the French city of Nantes (which by the way already has one). Now in these rich fields, forests and wetlands, which multinational Vinci want to cover in concrete, an experiment in reinventing everyday life in struggle is blossoming. Radicals from around the world, local farmers and villagers, citizen groups, trade unionists and naturalists, refugees and runaways, squatters and climate justice activists and many others, are organizing to protect the 4000 acres of land against the airport and its world. Government officials have coined this place “a territory lost to the republic”. Its occupants have named it: (Zone À Défendre), zone to defend." excerpt from

Now we are back in Barcelona, but just for a minute. I managed to go back to the Costa Brava with Kodiak, to a tiny town called Sa Tuna. While we were enjoying some time with la familia, Christian travelled to Berlin to secure the logistics of our next move. Looks like Berlin is calling! The next chapter of our expat adventure is about to start, and I'm very excited. 

Life is filled with new adventures and my heart is Full.

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