This past weekend I attended a workshop hosted by the Denver Permaculture Guild. The topic was Defining and Sharing Appropriate Technology. When I saw the event posted on facebook I thought it amazingly fortuitous. Once again, finding exactly the conversations I want to be having.
The event was held at the Posner Center for International Development , a very swanky renovated warehouse, ripe with a collaborative office set up (lots of different companies sharing the space).
We began our discussion with introductions and it seemed most people had an interest in agricultural sustainability and ecological conservation. As we started defining appropriate technology it naturally was described in this sort of context. Definitions involved:
-reuse and recycle of materials
-building bottom up, starting from scratch with available materials
-supportive of non-growth economy
-cultivating other types of capital besides financial, ie Social Capital
For me I define Appropriate Technology as tools that have been ethically evaluated for social benefit of the community. And, maybe 'social benefit' is loaded, but I think it comes down to just actually having the conversation. "What could be some of the positive and negative impacts on society? "What will the manufacturing of such a technology require?" "How does this change us as human beings" Because ultimately, every tool or technology is an extension of human evolution (IMO), and so should we be constantly evaluating what we want that to look like?
We then brainstormed a few different scales to use in analysing 'appropriateness'. (added some of my own, isolative?....maybe should be isolating)
I think th e key here is finding where the technology should lie on the scale based on factors such as quality of life and accessibilty of resources. Not that one side is better than the other or that one is even practically achievable. I found it to be a good thought-povoking tool that could be used in future scientific ethics conversations.
Hope that more workshops like these will be happening in the future. Thanks Denver Permaculture!
No, not the kind where you go to get your hair-did, this type of salon is all about conversation.
As grad school ended and friends started to get busier with work, there seem to be less and less group get-togethers. And with that went those late night conversations that hinged between the realms of crazy talk and poignantly intellectual ideas.
The concept is derived from Salons of the Jazz era (think Great Gatsby and even up to the time of the beatniks). Salons acted as a meeting ground for contemporaries to talk about new ideas, form business relationships, and just generally to drink and chill. In an age where physical communities are becoming few and farther between, I believe many of us seek a forum to stretch our visionary skills in a face-to-face environment.
We started small and, against all my efforts to diversify the crowd, with all engineers. My first thought was to talk about the nature of scientific culture and then maybe find connections with community or spirituality. But since there had been a reoccurring theme of assessing values the past week, I decided to go with that.
I learned from the placemaking (placecraft.org) workshop the power of brainstorming and free association, so I went with that technique.
We began with values and, naturally with a group of engineers, the conversation veered towards science. We followed the thread and hashed out what science and values meant to us. I left everyone with the task of asking themselves tomorrow how these concepts of values and science arise in their daily lives.
It was a great experience and I can't wait until the next!
Kendra is the founder of 4Love+Science and works as a Science and Community Consultant