so about 3 weeks into my trip, my smart phone had a heart attack and died. since then, i’ve only been taking pictures on the point and shoot that i stole from my sister before coming down here. this means all of the things i would be saying i plan to say once i can get the pictures to match them. they’ll make more sense in about 3 months once everything is developed and uploaded. all in all, hang in there, i’ll get everything up soon enough.
til then, excuse me while i run around and see what this world can be.
buenos aires is a lot. like any city, theres the good and the bad. i’ve been posted here for about 3 weeks now. i started working my second week in. i’m at a tech non-profit called Wingu Web. it’s main goal is to help other non-profits make the best use of this whole ordeal that is technology, including everything from management tips to hackathons to workshops. it’s a company that believes in the do it yourself idea, but they want you to look good while you’re doing it.
the whole company is founded in an understanding of one’s responsibility to the society, to those around you. in sum, the work done is for the benefit of the community such that everyone can use the same tools as effeciently as anyone else, if that makes sense. what i see here is the main difference between the startup world in the us and the startup world down here in argentina.
here, the majority is focused on helping the community rather than the individual. i must say, it’s a nice model. they’ve got their priorities in order because there’s a baseline expectation of making a positive societal impact. that isn’t to say that the startups in the us aren’t thinking like this, many of them are. the difference is that i don’t see a general push toward using technology to systematically progress the social and political standings of a community.
the first example that comes to my mind is a project that we’re working on now: Desarrollando América Latina (DAL – Developing Latin America). it’s a hackathon to end all hackathons. it’s an epic month long meeting of the minds. we’ve got developers, designers, scholars, students, journalists, and pretty much every other type of expert from 15 different countries coming together from all over Latin America. the goal? make an app, something live and functional that seeks to solve a social problem. that can mean anything from education to health to safety. the general idea is to hone in on finding an answer to a problem we see everyday. it starts this thursday, the 18th and ends in november. unfortunately, i won’t be here to see the final products, but i don’t really mind. all that I really care about is being part of something that is moving the world I live in in the direction I want to see it going.
i figure 2 months is a good amount of time in a city. of course, i want more time. of course, I want to see more of the city than 2 months will give me. with one month already gone, i know this second one will fly by even faster. but i figure if I can help make something like DAL happen and get to see even a part of it go down, that to me would mean this was 2 months well spent.
for the last year i’ve spent all my spare time planning a ridiculous trip: 5 months, 3 countries. all this started when i realized how little i know about anything outside of the US. it began with a class on afro-latin americans and blackness in the americas. it began with a nice long series of questions that can all pretty much come down to: what does it mean for me to be running around in this world as a black woman who studies computer science and Africana studies? first thought was get out of the country and give my eyes something new to deal with. get out of the world i had crafted for myself and jump into a place entirely unrelated. moral of the story was lets mix it up, lets not think about anything that has to do with academia for a nice long time. let’s take a break. so i gathered myself, told everyone i’d be back in a while. i needed space. i needed time. I needed to stop rushing myself and I needed to stop following all the steps that had been laid out for me since day 1. so i started planning. first stop is brazil for a month, then off to argentina for 2 months, finally finish it off with 2 months in chile.
everything started July 14th. i checked out of the states, said my goodbyes to the bay, and took off to begin phase 1. i landed in salvador without a hitch in the travel plans. made it to my host family and unloaded. i then proceeded to have the most incredible month i could ask for. to preface, i was supposed to start my storytelling on July 15th, but then life happened. i’m not even a little bit sorry that i haven’t posted anything because i was a little busy doing everything i possibly could in this amazing city. so now, on the eve of phase 2, i figure it’s time to play catch-up.
she is about to change how we see everything.
Rin Johnson is a conceptual artist.
if you think she is too much for you,
ask yourself why.
she’s telling the truth.
rin johnson is my sister.
she has helped me figure out
what has always been right in front of me.
i’m sure she’s got something to offer that’ll help you too.