Happy 1st Birthday reallybigroadtrip

The question I’m asked most often about this project is when reallybigroadtrip started or will end. I find it impossible to answer this in one simple sentence but here’s the messy answer.

In some ways it started three years ago when I came up with the idea and scribbled down a load of notes, giggling to myself about how ridiculous it would be if I could pull it off. I was so enamoured with the idea that I immediately registered the domain name http://reallybigroadtrip.com – that was July 10th 2010. Or maybe it started in October 2011 when I wrote it up as an initial funding application (which was rejected), or April 2012 when I started the crowdfunding campaign, or July 2012 when the campaign ended. Or November 2012 when I found homeJames, or New Year’s Eve when I ‘moved in’ (albeit just a swag in the back of an empty shell), or May 2013 when she finally had a bed, a kitchen sink, roof racks and some basic storage spaces.

And the end date? Well there is no ‘end date’ :)

Happy 1st Birthday reallybigroadtrip!

big bus meets big orange

I’m not really doing anything specific for this, but I think every durational project (and their beautiful big red bus) needs a birthday so I have decided to make one up.

The day I knew this absurd dream was actually going to come to life was July 11th 2012 on what became known as ‘tweet day’. It was the day when my crowdfunding campaign went viral and I reached my target thanks to huge support from my hardcore supporters and tweets from Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman and Hugh Jackman. I think reallybigroadtrip’s birthday should therefore be today, July 11th.

I hope wherever you are you will raise a glass and toast her health like I will be toasting yours (probably with a hot toddy and a box of tissues rather than champagne, though, since I’m hunkered down with flu).

reallybigroadtrip’s first year

boreen point campsite for Floating Land

It’s been an astonishing year+ for me thanks ENTIRELY to my pozible supporters and all the other amazingly generous people who have shared so much kindness by way of beds/sofas, parking spots, moral support and hugs. I’ve literally not stopped since a good month before the campaign started last year and I’m utterly exhausted, but entirely happy to be where I am. Fortunately I now get a bit of a break, so that I can spend some proper settling-in time with my beloved bus.

homeJames is now truly a home (albeit far too full of stuff!) and I’m truly on ‘the journey’. Both my last two bookings and almost all my forseeable future ones are exclusively about making my own work rather than servicing other peoples’ creative practice. I really am now living the life I set out to. Gulp.

By way of a mini-summary: since New Year alone (when I started to live in homeJames), I have: spoken at the Haecksen mini-conf at Linux Conference; been one of The Subjects in a sleep deprivation residency; been commissioned/exhibited at Canberra’s Centennial celebrations; helped make Adelaide’s inaugural Mini Maker Faire happen; completed two stages of bus modifications; run two Nomadic Fab Lab tours; talked about crowdfunding and social media experiences for CraftSouth; been an Artist in Residence at Floating Land Festival and a Keynote Speaker at Balance/UnBalance Conference in the Sunshine Coast; worked with Elliott Bledsoe on ISEA2013‘s online community wrangling while also speaking at the ISEA2013/Vivid Ideas public talks and showcasing homeJames in a mini version of reallybigroadtrip. I’ve also done a few radio interviews about some of the above and been back on Download this Show again, which is always a treat.

Phew.

Next steps

In a huge turning point I’ve had two arts grants confirmed, one for ArtsSA’s Unexpected City program and another one that’s still under embargo. It’s pretty fantastic that the crowdfunding support built foundations for a project that now gets actual recognition from ‘traditional funding'; I’m blown away by that.

My next gig is being a mentor/collaborator on an Underbelly Arts Festival project called “Ghosts of Biloela” by Creative Nonfiction. It’s a locative media project which means that your physical location triggers different parts of the story. My Nomad in Residence for this one is Edwin van Ouwerkerk Moria who has a lot of experience working with locative narratives as he was one of the developers behind 7scenes. More on this nearer the time…

There is a public lab from 24th-31st July where we can share some of the work-in-progress (please come along and help us test it) and the actual festival is on 3rd/4th August – you can buy tickets here. I’m also involved in a live debate on Sunday 4th, where Jamie Gerlach and I will be slogging out whether love or art is better.

My Pozible supporters will have already heard about this because I gave them an early announcement. homeJames and I will be ferried over to Cockatoo Island a little earlier and I thought it would be a fun place to offer some of the dinners, high teas and ‘location for a photoshoot’ type things I have promised as rewards. Obviously dates and times are limited so depending on how many of you want to take me up on this we may do a group effort! Let me know if this is something you’d be interested in and I’ll try to coordinate the best for everyone.

After Cockatoo Island in August I’m heading back up to Brisbane where I’m becoming part of a 3D Printing test team for The Edge, building my own Prusa i3 and doing a few other bits n bobs. Then I head back to Adelaide to start work on my Unexpected City project which will happen Oct-Dec and feature a number of pop-up ‘Nights with a Nomad’ (more info to come).

In September – hopefully, if I get a travel grant – I’ll be heading to the Northern Hemisphere to speak at Ars Electronica in Australia and be a resident of the Nomadic Village in France. I won’t have homeJames with me but if any of you Northern Hemisphere types fancy a coffee drop me a line and I’ll try to coordinate something.

After that, well, there are a few things in the pipeline and some really exciting news coming up that shapes 2014. But I think that’s more than enough for one post :)

As always keep in touch via the comments here, facebook & twitter and I’ll seeya somewhere on the road!

UPDATE: erm, it seems I picked the date well. It’s also Tesla’s birthday today, and we LIKE HIM A LOT!

Unicycle Roadtrip – love your sister

Everyone who follows this project knows I’m a sucker for road trips of any kind, but this one blew me away on so many levels I don’t know where to begin.

In the UK I used to watch a lot of Australian TV and dream of what a life over here might be like. The Secret Life of Us was by far the best written, produced and performed of all of them and I only recently discovered there are whole extra series that never got broadcast over there. Since living and working in Australia around performance circuits I’ve bumped into a couple of the stars of the show – in fact *aw shucks* I became Facebook-friends with Todd MacDonald through hanging out with Danger Ensemble in Brisbane a while back. (Yeah I know, I’m a sad old cheesy fuckwit, but you knew that already, right?)

Yesterday (in prep toward my much-needed downtime) I started re-watching the series, something I’ve been wanting to do since I moved here in 2008. Funny how timing works. While watching (and loving it possibly even more than the first time around) I suddenly thought ‘Hey, I wonder if Todd is Facebook-friends with anyone from this series’ so I looked people up. (OK, I’ll be honest, I always thought Evan was cute so I looked Samuel Johnson up first). Sad, perhaps… but then I saw his campaign. Again, it’s funny how timing works.

Samuel Johnson's campaign to unicycle around Australia to promote breast cancer awareness http://loveyoursister.org/

Samuel Johnson’s campaign to unicycle around Australia to promote breast cancer awareness http://loveyoursister.org/

Any fears, doubts or concerns I may have had about my own road trip have gone. Every ounce of love and history I hold by naming my bus homeJames after James Mellor I doff toward Samuel and his sister Connie. They aim to raise $1million for Breast Cancer Awareness through the Garvan Institute. They have currently raised $434,608 and the journey ends in Kalgoorlie on July 13th. (Again, echoes of my own campaign timeline and goal distance rumble). I have donated and messaged them to see if there is anything my bus and I can do to support their journey but wanted at the very least to help them spread their word.

Their goals are:

  • Set a new Guinness World Record for the most distance travelled on a unicycle
  • Raise $1 million
  • Spread Connie’s message of breast cancer awareness.

You can also dare him… tho right now I’d be more keen to dare him to take a long hot sauna than encourage anything mean!

Looking at the map on their site Samuel has seemingly done the most non-sequitur route possible and is currently in WA; he should be in Augusta tomorrow. To anyone I know in that neck of the woods, please go out and give him a hug from me and homeJames, OK? But treat him gently, he seems to have been travelling on a unicycle since Cootamundra, NSW, in October – he’ll be more than a little sore!

FOLLOW

http://loveyoursister.org
https://twitter.com/loveyoursister
https://www.facebook.com/loveyoursister
http://www.youtube.com/user/loveyoursisterTV
http://instagram.com/loveyoursister

DONATE

Frustratingly (for this geek) you can’t currently donate online but you can do these things:

In Person  At any Bendigo Bank branch

via Phone  1300 73 66 77 (9am – 5pm AEST)
Accepting Mastercard, Visa and American Express

Cheque/Money Order
Made payable to “Garvan Research Foundation – LYS” and free postal to

Love Your Sister
c/o Garvan Research Foundation
Reply Paid 68593
DARLINGHURST NSW 2010

Direct Deposit
BSB: 082057
Account: 131172929
Garvan Research Foundation – Love Your Sister account
*Please use your name as ID for this deposit.

If you require a receipt please email foundation@garvan.org.au with the following:

  1. confirmation of donor name
  2. postal address
  3. donation amount
  4. date of donation

All donations $2 and over are fully tax deductible

And finally…

Possibly the cutest ‘getting to know social media because I have to, then realising I love this shit’ video I think I’ve ever seen <3

#rbrtISEA: reallybigroadtrip is on a road to no[w]here

homeJames at Hampton Village near Burra

a ‘where’s wally’ style homeJames at Hampton Village near Burra

  • There are going to be times when we can’t wait for somebody. Now, you’re either on the bus or off the bus. If you’re on the bus, and you get left behind, then you’ll find it again. If you’re off the bus in the first place — then it won’t make a damn.
    • As quoted by Tom Wolfe in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968)

reallybigroadtrip is an experiment in pretty much everything. Professionally, creatively and personally I live almost entirely fluidly and in the moment. I used to be a Stage Manager and plan everything to the tiniest detail. Then I was a producer or project manager, coordinating superstructures of activities. This streamed more into facilitating, nurturing other peoples’ journeys, troubleshooting & providing techsupport or technoevangelism and helping them define their flow or their structures as required. Now I’m a maker again and find myself craving the unknown in one big literal and metaphorical journey. reallybigroadtrip is a manifestation of that journey.

My work for ISEA2013 has been exploring this process and so, somewhat naturally, the work itself has turned out to be that process.

All aboard!

We invite you to join us over ISEA2013 in a microcosm of the overarching reallybigroadtrip world. We’re so fluid you can even choose one of three forms to connect with us.

1. Public Talk

My Nomad in Residence Kate Chapman and two special guests Brenda L Croft and Cheryl L’Hirondelle will join me in a talk about mapping culture as part of the ISEA2013 public talks program with Vivid Ideas Festival. This is from 10-11.30am at MCA on Saturday 8th June. It costs $15 for general audiences and is free for ISEA2013 Conference Delegates but booking is required.

2. ISEA2013 Conference

Over the three days of the conference 11th-13th June homeJames (my beautiful big red bus) will be parked up on Eastern Avenue at the University of Sydney. Everyone is welcome to just pop along and have a nosey or grab me for an official ‘tour’ (don’t worry, it doesn’t take very long!).

I’ll also be live-tweeting the conference with Elliott Bledsoe and our team using the hashtag #iseeISEA – we really encourage you to share your top tips and experiences!

3. #rbrtISEA is no[w]here

Between 11am to 6pm on Mon 10th, Fri 14th, Sat 15th and Sun 16th June the bus will demonstrate the (inter)national adventure by hosting a mini version. Starting from Paddington we will be driving around Sydney finding locations that just feel like they would be a good place to stop. We will not be using maps, just following our noses and waiting for the place that just feels right. Once the location has been found my Nomad in Residence Kate Chapman and myself will park the bus, put out a couple of chairs and throw on the magnetic signs that indicate we are ‘open for business’. Then we will just see what happens.

Some passers-by will come and ask what we are doing, so we will tell them about reallybigroadtrip and about ISEA2013 and how we want to just meet people and see what happens. Sometimes they will suggest where we go next – we have two spare passenger seats so it’s entirely possible we will take them along with us when we go.

Some ISEA2013 audiences might know we’re doing this and want to come and find us in a random spare moment. We will take an instagram photograph (my account is @feesable) tagging our location so that at any time you can see where we are. If you want you can also message us directly; I’m @feesable and Kate is @wonderchook on Twitter. Be aware that we might be engaged in deep conversations with random strangers so you should let us know that you are coming so that we can hang around long enough to connect with you.

And if we get ‘moved on’… well that’s all just part of the journey, right?

Schedule

OK, that’s a lot of dates and times so here’s a handy chronological diary for you to know how and where you might find us. Or if you happen to see a big red bus parked up be sure to come over and say hello!

Sat 8th, 10-11.30am – public talk on mapping culture at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA).
Mon 10th, 11am-6pm – #rbrtISEA driving around Sydney – see @feesable / @wonderchook for locations.
Tues 11th, 9am-6pm – ISEA2013 conference where you can meet homeJames and I’ll be live-tweeting #iseeISEA.
Weds 12th, 9am-6pm – ISEA2013 conference where you can meet homeJames and I’ll be live-tweeting #iseeISEA.
Thurs 13th, 9am-6pm – ISEA2013 conference where you can meet homeJames and I’ll be live-tweeting #iseeISEA.
Fri 14th, 11am-6pm – #rbrtISEA driving around Sydney – see @feesable / @wonderchook for locations.
Sat 15th, 11am-6pm – #rbrtISEA driving around Sydney – see @feesable / @wonderchook for locations.
Sun 16th, 11am-6pm – #rbrtISEA driving around Sydney – see @feesable / @wonderchook for locations.

Investigative Cartography at Floating Land Festival

The Backstory

Pretty much everything about reallybigroadtrip has a story behind it; here’s the one behind Floating Land. Or alternatively you can just skip to the end and download a PDF to get involved yourself.

During the crowdfunding campaign I received a tweet from Leah Barclay, asking me if I’d like to bring the bus up to the Sunshine Coast to develop an artwork at Floating Land Festival and talk at Balance/Unbalance. She had seen me write about my desire to create a new life for myself – creatively, ecologically and economically – and felt that was a perfect match for the themes (Nature’s Dialogue and Future Nature, Future Culture[s] respectively). I felt it was only fair to remind her that I was in the middle of a campaign that I was completely uncertain I’d pull off, so that maybe the whole idea would be pretty moot. Fortunately she had more faith than I did and said she’d still love for me to think about it – BLESS HER COTTON SOCKS! On taking a look over the dates I saw it crossed over with ISEA2013 – an event I have a long relationship with and knew I’d be involved with. Leah is a force of nature in herself and she even created an opportunity out of that concern, suggesting I use my time in Noosa to develop a work that I could take to ISEA.

Festivals are a great excuse for bringing in a Nomad in Residence. My plan with the Nomads is to invite them to share their skills so that I sneakily get to observe and learn from them as well as collaborate with them and/or be inspired by their practice to influence my own. My early thinkings for Floating Land last year were around Augmented Reality. I had been planning on bringing out Dutch artist Sander Veenhof whom I’d first met at ISEA2011 in Istanbul and later hung out with at ReWire in UK and STRP in Holland (where he was presenting the ‘world’s first augmented reality rabbit’ ;P). As the year went on his calendar became more and more booked and the focus for my own work become more directed elsewhere, toward open source and nomadicy.

In January I presented a talk on ‘Open Source Cities’ at the Haecksen mini conf at Linux Conf Australia. A woman with the fabulous twitter handle @wonderchook (Kate Chapman) tweeted that she was ‘down with the whole nomads thing’ and so we had a nice exchange (again with twitter being a catalyst for this project!). Watching her talk, Open Source and Open Data for Humanitarian Response with OpenStreetMap, I realised she would be a perfect Nomad for this stage of my journey. I had already been looking into using OpenStreetMap on the reallybigroadtrip journey but had seen how underused it was – some areas are big empty expanses by comparison to Google Maps and for someone who already doesn’t know the country very well that could be dangerous! Insofar as Floating Lands & Balance/Unbalance were concerned, Queensland is increasingly facing major emergency scenarios due to floods and storms; Kate’s work with the Humanitarian arm of OSM in this area would be invaluable and should be more widely known.

Become an OpenStreetMap Contributor!

So, fast-forward to May, when I collect Kate (who’s normally based in Jakarta) in Brisbane and we start the drive to the Sunshine Coast. We originally were invited to use our time here to develop a work – one which we plan to take to ISEA2013 but we have also been scheduled for a run of public sessions, drop-in style workshops. Unfortunately some of those had been mis-scheduled for after we have to leave for the long drive down to Sydney for ISEA (apologies to anyone who tries to come find us at that stage). So we have produced a kind of DIY workshop program that can be done both with and without us and which drops some of the more complicated geekery and creates more awareness for OpenStreetMap use – our original basic goal.

When we got to Boreen Point (the site for the Floating Land Festival), online OpenStreetMap looked like this:

original map of Boreen Point

original map of Boreen Point

Over the next week this map will be updated by our team of “investigative cartographers” made up from artists and the local community as well as the visitors who come to the Floating Land Festival and Balance/UnBalance conference (which may well include you!).

Kate has done some more detailed surveying to get the ball rolling (as you’ll see in the download) and we have printed out a few hundred Field Papers to aid the DIY process. They have a set of instructions on one side and a map that you can draw on and then photograph to upload to the community on the other. While we’re ‘open for business’ up here we can handhold you through that process, but it’s also incredibly simple to do yourself. We will leave a bundle of these in the workshops tent after we have left.

Because this project is very much about open source culture, we wanted to share that experience here so that you can use the same tools and processes to enhance and update the OpenStreetMap in your area. You don’t need to be in Floating Land over the next week, or even in Queensland, to follow the same process. Download the PDF and follow the instructions, or pop along to the big red bus while we’re here (until Tuesday lunchtime). We’d love to see what you do, though, so feel free to share the link to your own maps in the comments below, or tweet @feesable and @wonderchook with your links.

Happy Mapping!

on being uncontrollably controlled

Several weeks ago a dear friend (and Nomad in Residence to-be) Alex Kelly tagged me in a facebook post with a link to an article called Conscious computing: how to take control of your life online. Laughably (?) I was so busy (mainly online) that while I saw the tagged update I couldn’t spare the headspace to read an article about how potentially damaging being online actually was. I’ve just found the time to read that article and realise that – the smart cookie she is – Alex shared an article that has deep relevance for me.

“making a bolt for the door” what time away from the digital world and a cornflakes packet does to me – http://thesubjects.anat.org.au/2013/02/day-3-fee-we-are-cyborg/

Firstly, I never had the chance to ask Alex if she tagged me because I’m always online or because of the affect The Subjects (a sleep deprivation residency created by Vicki Sowry from ANAT, hosted by Professor Drew Dawson & his scientists at The Appleton Institute and experienced with my utterly phenomenal co-subjects Sean Williams, Thom Buchanan & Jennifer Mills) had on me earlier this year. The article mentions a thing called “paper-tweeting” – “scribbling supposedly witty wisecracks in a notebook as a substitute for the urge to share them online”. I never knew this was a thing, but it’s precisely what I did when my internet connection was taken away – as you can see! (NB this link hosts an incomplete version, somehow the full untweets including photos weren’t uploaded, i’ll have to fix that…): http://thesubjects.anat.org.au/2013/02/the-untweets.

I have talked publicly at Adelaide Writers Week about what The Subjects did to my brain, but I have yet to write it up (at least for public dissemination). Partly this is from being too busy with a stupidly complex calendar of commitments this year, but also because it’s not an easy one to untangle (especially for public dissemination!). I’ve always been a bit of a hermit – I prefer one-to-one over group activities and am always kinda freaked out by parties even though I can talk professionally to a room of thousands. Since I started playing online back in 1996 I have been about as ‘always-on’ as my access to technology and my location would allow. Last year’s crowdfunding campaign pushed my online presence to an unprecedented level. It obviously climaxed over the Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman and Hugh Jackman tweet viral explosion, but has still (to my surprise) maintained a strong consistency long long afterward.

The Subjects was a research study into the affect of sleep deprivation on creativity, but for me it wasn’t vaguely about that; I am invariably sleep deprived and I have often questioned my creativity in any context. The residency to me personally was to explore the affect of complete disconnection from my online & social media community on my … well, on my everything. I really will write this up properly, honest. But for the purposes of this blog post let’s just say that being disconnected from my online world, even just for a week,

FUCKED. ME. UP.

It rewired me in every way imaginable and I’ve really struggled to get my shit back together ever since.

In some ways it’s been a really good experience; I have questioned and challenged what ‘being digitally connected’ and ‘being physically connected’ all meant to me then and what it all means now, which is healthy (if sometimes painful). But in other ways – when you are supposed to be a public voice for not just your own projects and creative path, but have contracts that require you to be actively social online for other people & events – fuck me, that’s hard. And yes, you can easily add the stress of couchsurfing (read: being homeless) and launching a new project (read: finding/renovating a bus and all the crazy that entailed) on top. Suffice to say… it’s been a huge year and it’s still only May.

As I said, I will write up my experiences with all that…another time. For now this article was really pretty bloody good and so I want to come back to that (and thank Alex for tagging me even tho I so rudely blipped her off my radar at that moment in time!).

Muscle (or any) Control

 ends his article with this: “What we need are ways of strengthening the muscle that lets you maintain control of your own attention, so that you can more frequently win the psychological arm-wrestle against the services and sites that are itching to control it for you”. He’s right, that’s a smart view and in a way reflects the ‘program or be programmed‘ advice from my old friend Doug Rushkoff (and others). But for me there’s something else that turned ‘being disconnected’ into ‘a gift’. I returned to skills I used to use every day in the physical world – I started MAKING PHYSICAL THINGS again.

In a past life, for around a decade, I worked in Theatre as a prop maker/set designer/lighting crew and stage manager. I was a jack of all trades who moved happily between departments depending on location and need. I would make things from whatever was around or I would imagine things and make tiny versions of them to try to ‘sell’ the idea of what a large-scale version might look like. That was an art (or probably more accurately, a craft) that I had grown up with and then lost (or more accurately, forgotten) because of technology. Not by choice, just by muscle memory.

The absolute disconnection afforded by The Subjects residency (combined with the dedicated time to notice that was what had happened and act on it) made me incapable of ignoring the differences between those worlds any longer. I hadn’t ever lost my love for physical making, nor the ability to actually turn a cornflakes packet into a mediaeval door bolt, apparently, but I could feel how much I had let that muscle become weak. My time ‘inside’ reminded me that making matters, making ANYTHING matters, and that while, yes, you do need to Make Good Art, you also need to allow yourself the time at a new beginning to just make anything so long as that in future your aim is to make BETTER art. One day, perhaps, with a lot of time and effort you will make GOOD art. It doesn’t matter whether what you make is digital or physical, it just matters that you MAKE IT.

For the record I have now taken control (of a sort!). I am now living fulltime in a bus that has a bed, storage, and a kitchen (although of course there will always be more work to be done). I have (more importantly) just finished or delegated ALL my pre-organised ‘service’ commitments and am now only looking ahead to projects where I actively make things or talk about making things. In case you are curious: Yes, my ego is currently shitting itself. I have spent far too long not making my own work (because I’ve been facilitating other peoples’ creativity) and I have lost both muscle memory and muscle strength; I’ve been in a creative coma and that takes time to recover from. It often feels like nothing I knew before has relevance now – all the code, platforms and hardware have changed since I last made digital things and even then I will admit to a great deal of bodgit & scarper and google copy paste. But I am learning those bits and I have an elderly teenager’s worth of experience in anecdotal references and context. So this year I might not make the art I want to make, the art I can see and desire in my mind. But I will MAKE THINGS. And then, hopefully, next year I will MAKE GOOD THINGS.

Because of how the internet has exploded in that time (and because of how my own online presence has exploded in that time) those things will be a lot more public now than anything I ever made before (erk – this just gets more terrifying the more I write!). These days I am offline more than ever because when you live in a bus you don’t always have electricity or an internet signal (and I’m paying the utterly disgusting rate of $180 per 12GB of data thanks to living in a country where Telstra are allowed to be fuckwits). I have maintained creativity both digitally and through analogue crafts, playing with projects around knitting and sewing, recently starting my first ever cross stich pattern, am about to get/build my own 3d printer, and have a few Arduino toys to play with. I don’t know that I’ll ever take control of my life online (or off!) but I do know that either way the most important thing from all this is that whatever I do, it should have ‘meaning’. For me, meaning comes from both digital and physical; people, like Alex, sharing things that matter on places like facebook that help me live a better life in the bus actively thinking about what I’m going to make and what meaning it’ll have.

Confused? Yeah, me too. Bear with me, I’m working it out and will probably post a status update when it’s ready… so I’ll see you uncontrollably controlled online sometime:)

UPDATE: After writing this post I was chatting with my old partner-in-crime Ben Jones about this creative shift and the problems therein. He mentioned he’d had this quote from Ira Glass as the homescreen of his phone for about a year saying ‘I thought it was a really useful thing to hold on to, especially when making things that i’m not entirely happy with (which is essentially all the time)’. I’d stumbled on the same quote earlier this year while thinking hard about what I was going to be making, and why. It’s helped me enormously to accept what I was saying above – that not being great now is OK and I just need to not give up. Anyway, in case you missed it, here:

ira-glass-quote

Nomads in Residence

Since things are starting to hot-up around here it seems to be time to post a bit about what I mean by “Nomads in Residence”.

These nomads are basically my guests in the bus. They must be from the creative digital culture space but I’m really broad about that. By “digital culture” I mean artists, makers, hackers, coders, practitioners, researchers, games developers, animators, filmmakers, policy folk, arts workers, cultural practitioners… ummmmmmm…. other people who play creatively with technology. The point is to be INclusive, not EXclusive, so if you’re not included by title here but feel you should be included by practice then message me regardless.

I have a list of people I have already personally invited. I also have a bundle of folk I have just loved working with/around over the years and will be contacting in due course. But there’s also folk I stumble on/am introduced to who just spark something and need to be invited. For example, I just contacted my first total stranger because her work suits my thinking perfectly, and there might be the perfect match event coming up next year.

And then there’s the unknown-yet-by-me. Of which there are many!

I do not know everyone (or everything). Obviously. This whole project is about getting out there and seeing who/what I don’t know, as well as sharing who/what I do.

So.

The ‘challenge’

  • Location: You don’t need to be from another country; plenty of you gorgeous Australians are on my list. I need to see this country through your eyes and be introduced to your networks too.
  • Your mission: I ask all my “Nomads in Residence” to define where you want to go, who you want to meet and what you want to achieve from your trip.
  • Networking: Once I know your intentions I can help make connections with people you could meet both with me and outside of your time with me. I really encourage you to spend extra time in this amazing country if you can. I can also follow up on people you tell me I should know about in case we can meet them together.
  • Duration: I would love you to stay with me as long as you can, but I understand time is a valuable commodity and you are probably travelling a fair distance. When I started visiting Australia from the UK our costs were often split across a few organisations and that worked a treat, but affects timing/demands, etc.
  • Monies: As you can see from my crowdfunding campaign, this is all very DIY. I would love to offer you travel/accommodation, a nice fat artists fee and a luxurious ‘maker’ budget, but that’s not something I can promise. Especially right now. But I can fundraise (either through crowdfunding targeted to both our communities or through traditional arts funding) and co-productions/shared visits are pretty straightforward to coordinate. You will at least get standard return flights, acommodation/food in the bus and some kind of artist fee.
  • Accommodation: The bus will have a ‘bedroom’ space, a sofa-bed in the ‘lounge’ space, a swag (traditional aussie sleeping bag/tent), and an extra tent. You can choose which you’d like, even on a daily basis.

The Bigger Picture

This often freaks people out when I talk about it; “Your plans are too big, Fee. Calm down and take one step at a time”… Um, no. I think big missions help you better achieve baby steps… but that’s just me.

The big picture plan is to start the model in Australia but then take the concept all over the world. I’ve already been talking to a University in Canada who likes the concept as a research methodology. At some point we’ll run a co-production together to raise funds for a bus and the same process over there. That bus would of course drive across Canada, down to America and then South America, scooping more locals and international en route. I’m also British, so at some stage I’ll be setting up another bus in the UK, which would go to Europe… and so on.

The really-big-picture is that eventually I would like to have a bus in (or within access of) every continent. While I’m not using it the bus would be available for other digital culture practitioners. If they maintain the bus and continue to support the concept (capturing/sharing data, etc) they can have it for free when it’s not being used. If they want to do their own thing then they can hire it and any proceeds will go back in to the project.

National / International

This really isn’t just an Australian project, it’s a digital one. Like the internet it’s inspired by community, collaboration, creativity and connection. The potential is huge but the baby steps are really manageable and realistic. It just takes a little bit of conversation and we can make amazing things happen together.

So if you’re interested, message me with some responses to the above ‘challenge’ and we’ll take it from there.

UPDATE: Get a flavour of some of the Nomads.