First workshop of the day, we are outside with two people from Technolibre. After a brief question and interview Leader of workshop asks to do go around, introduction, accessiblity needs, gender pronouns
In attendence: Anne, Marte, Ellen, Cassie, Six, Stephanie, Karine, Christina [Dana at the end briefly] A: Welcome to THF! shares first C: Cassie, she/her, tired M: Focused on cryptodance/printer. Need tobacco, having to do something, focused there [on crypto LN: A bit focused on what I have to do later too S: Also sleep deprived, managing C: Jet-lagged, feeling good S: Feeling OK. Feeling good. A: Since M. is getting things [before recording] let's talk about autonomous infrastructure a bit. It is the 4th theme -- already led a discussion about that by Femhack, about 1.5 hours ago. It was very very nice. Was a round-table with 4 thematics. Hardware, software, spaces and solidarity. Was at La Passe -- so people at La Passe were presenting that space. Realized that ok, autonomy of infrastructure in terms of software is not so bad -- hardware we are far from it. Spaces? We were discussing the state of having autonomous infrastructures and having them sustainable. How places are helping each other [like studio xx helping THF!] -- so thinking about autonomy in a network way, not as independent completely, independent organizations. At that time, techno libre did not exist. Invited people from InserTech -- social insertion, training to people who are re-socializing, refurbishing technology.
Ariel & jammie & Cassie
A collective based on the Free Geek model. One in Vancouver, one in Toronto, one in Portland -- maybe one in PVD [Chicago?] A variety, but all are different, particular to their city and place Focusing on their Disrupting the Computer donations from the community, then refurbish what they can, then recycling -- so recycling with partners that don't ship to dumps overseas, getting to zerowaste as close as possible Donated to volunteers, any money made in selling the hardware goes back into the project Idea is really to make it a community space -- don't have to have any previous knowledge as a hardware engineer But once you volunteer for 24 hours you get a free desktop community Other computers get donated to social justice communities There's the refurbishing side and recycling side, but beyond that hold open community nights, creating support system for poeple to use/know Linux, and other f/oss systems -- will help fix the computer and help them run it as long as their computer runs Linux Felt there was a place for it in Montreal because there weren't that many refurbishing spaces here, but also wanted to focus on making it radical and disrupt the cycle of planned obsolescence. But also doing it in a way that is empowering to people and re-framing the relationship that people have to technology "Techno Libre" is a french version of "Free Geek" -- will talk more about where Started by women and trans folks, waited quite a while before Wanted to be really conscious about accessiblity in the space and who feels welcome and Hoping that part of the discussion today might be a brainstorm or for setting things within the space
In Vancouver: All the volunteers do the techn knowledge things Sweeping and cleaning up space done by paid staff so that it's not exploitative But that ended up closing out people who wanted to volunteer but were intimidating Questions like that, what seems fair and what's accessible Want to rethink accessiblity "Co-op bike garages" Want to be really conscious when building this space so that it is *not* intimidating and feels open and welcoming and calm for people It's really easy to feel like "ok I can never do that" how to help people feel like they can get involved and have it feel empowering for them
have a shared space right now. Eventually want to get a loft space, hopefully with an elevator so that it's phsyically accessible. And then there could be a thrift shop in the space M. Do you have an online space, website? C. Yah sort of do -- Wordpress, in process of building
LN: Yah yah, had same experience with a bike garage S. Bike culture kind of parallel to tech culture in that way If not conscious of it, it will just go back to that dominant bro-y culture
A. yah it is kind of the same issues, same politics Gabriel Anty is one of the people behind the feminist bike group in Concordia [Right to Move] but also is a software developer
So there's a few connections being made, which even more seems like the right parallel to be made In UQAM, there is a free software place of UQAM is in front of the free bike spot
A. Visited the portland free geek, and first time she discovered the Open Space Technology. All the computers they used were from Free geek -- it was huge and very beautiful, diversity of ages, animals were there. About 100 people coming, a few people paid, but a lot of people volunteering. Also they leaerned the different stages of refurbishing. Had one museum of old computers, then next a shop, then a room with all of the components. Then another room with only the disconsructed parts. Children and elder people working together there - -had boxes for everything. Had an adoption program, that if you rebuild 3 computers, you can go home with one. So that you know them enough to take care of them. This was in 2005. She got so inspired "when is a free geek going to happen in Montreal" ... since then she's been dreaming, and now! Yah, Techno libre!
Also went to the one in Vancouver and met the lady who started it, Iffy, and she was disappointed about gender/politics going on there
C. Wants to interview Iffy, they have been really helpful with telling them which recyclers to work with, and also Sustainable via recycling of valuable components. Talked to one person who was more the logistical side and interviewed him. But Iffy was thinking more on the politics regarding accessiblity and gender, want to interview her and see what she wants to say.
M. Is gender the main thing, or has it been thought about a lot [trans issues]
C. Very varied in how they approach that. yea, community empowerment in terms of refurbishing waste and the environment, but may not be thinking about the intersectionality regarding accessilibity and inclusion. So that's something that we want to think about very deeply and clearly -- for our own group.
M. I think it is very important and intertwined with opensource technologies and hardware - -from there can constitute a community around you that would be using this particular hardware/software. Sometimes if you are trans, the operating systems are too representational -- problematic for using closed source in your hard-ware when you are trying to open the source of your gender identity. Important to address that [so it's great that you're doing that with Techno Libre, as a gendered approach to think about your use of the technologies and knowledge of them and how they are being used]
A. Learned about software/hardware use in India, and then here people are not talking about accessiblity -- talk about Need to think about what is "access to technology" in a deeper way. In regards to what technologies and what these different technologies do. There's a sociologist of computing about how you interact with computers. Super important to re-frame the discourse about accessibility that has been going on [the one about free software for all, and then it ends]. And the larger discussion about accessibility
M. It feels like partnering with schools and other educational environments from the beginning, so that the students learn from the beginning to use those softwares -- might be good. If you start using Gimp from the beginning and that it is open source and that you can shift the core of the software. It feels liek the possiblity for networks would be great
A. yah, it could be very nice to group with the Center for education ... [CDEACF] -- diversity of position of feminists there. they are super into free culture and free software there. Sharon Hackett is there. A. will try to put them in contact with one another. Also Fablabs PEC might be good to partner with b/c they are in a community center.
St: "Greenfield" space -- ripe for partnerships. She's been there for over a year. Trying to do things to see how things work out. It should be dynamic, could be even more going on. Really receptive to projects -- they're in a precarious place right now, so they might be even more open to propositions.
M. If certain spaces are not right to your particular needs, can split up the different parts -- a shop in one place, storage in another, . then you are not so reliant on the current infrastructural open possibliities.
C. Have some space in Foulab right now, but can't stay there [just there for the beginning] would also be good to do pop-up shops, roving workshops. have also organized intro to CSS, and some people don't have laptops or a computer so how to make it radically accessible for those people. Someone in their group is developing connection to a community center and it'd be great to partner with succh spaces in terms of education and providing cheap hardware to people. Could roam around in a month or so and have a little event
M. If you do not have a space already, it is good to already build in the mobility aspects into your . So that you don't settle into spaces, but that's a super simple infrastructural urgency. Or a truck?
A. Yes! Maybe also one connection to see with the PEC is that they have repairing open nights. And InserTech does that once a year, but you really have to prepare in advance. And it's nice. But PEC it will be every week or so. I really like this idea. Connects with something we've done with FemHack. Asked to do a workshop on Linux, ended in people installing Linux -- people were afraid so they brought really old computers, one lit on fire. Ok, we cannot have poeple install Linux and then have there be no community support. So started Mutual aid gropu, was at UQAM, then got kicked out, wree in cafes -- so that has been a continuing thing of Femhack. Mostly on the basis that not everyon is an expert, but we do it together and learn togehter and have collective knowledge. This is a way for empowering. And in hearing about techno libre, was thinking that the greater community needs it to empower, for herself, for friends. If you're not skilled neough you're stuck and alone with a question about Linux, so having a community of knowledge support would be super empowering. Now Femhack has very small needs, people tired, exhauseted, don't have a space. Were at La Passe, but that is shutting down. Something that excites me is to become more and more mobile, is maybe to get a bus a hackbus that accomodates different projects. Reparation workshops, meetings, and the truck that used to be here. Yesterday when we were working in the truck -- it's a milk truck that has been transformed/changed. She most does relational art, but it can be a place to sleep, to sit in different ways. Not sure it could be shared [should think about a new truck] -- another lady came by, talked about getting a grant to build a mobile art lab that's moved by bike. So that's another option. Really seeing this need to have mobile/autonomous infrastructures to move things around the city. This could be a great collaboration and could get the funding for that. Here is the CQAM and there was a network called LaboLab -- was a fablab and hacker/makerspace. This network was to help the different labs to meet, to share tools, created a database where the different groups said what they had -- many of them had politics around using public funds, so their tools shoudl be used by the publics as much as possible. Can only be autonomous if we rely on one another, solidarity of sharing means. Collaborative autonomous infrastructure....
S. Really just starting out, so these discussions are super valuable. Initiated almost a year ago, but first meetings just started back in May/June. Don't have solid base yet of hardware to refurbish, website just up and running, still in flux
C. Working with the Linux install-fest Sept. 15th. The idea for it go forward was it to have an institutional structure/system for people to learn Linux. Since organizing the event, it's important to have something after that for people to figure out how to use it.
Marg: Any sort of drop-off points in Montreal to get to you guys?
C. Just figuring it out now. Hopefully in next week or two will ahve a call-out. QPRIG Concordia is a drop-off right now. Hoping to do pick ups. Hoping for Atwater library to be one. Foulab not as much cause it's not open as often.
S. Possibly will create pick-up bike with foam and bungee chords. In terms of physical mobility it's really hard to find fully accessible physical infrastructure in montreal.
LN. Ah yea, we really dealt with that in A. Yea, QPRIG maybe, but then Studio XX offered their space, then also with issues of accessibilty in terms of posting/ have you thought about hacking the system, the infrastructure of the city. Karine: One thing in montreal, have that stupid step to get into all of the shops and all the cafes and that one step is such an easy thing to remove. When I went to Palastine, brought people with 2 wheelchairs, they built a ramp there within two hours, made it work quickly. But here, shifting the infrastructure becomes so much harder, or is seen as this hard/impossible task. Marg. Brings up someone in her program who's whole thesis about Montreal accessibility. [Laurence] A. Built a map about wheelchair accessibility. Might be the best to talk with her and see about what's good with accessiblity. Makes her think of her undergrad group talking about free software is super important. In the team tnhey had a blind person and his role was to deconstruct free software. And he was like there's not enough of a mass critique of free software, so you cna't rely on free software to make things accessible for those who are not dominant [those who are blind, etc.] Is it a public thing that the government has reinforced because it is against human rights to have some public space inaccessible for a diversity of people -- brought forth this really interesting political discussion about this -- because wh ohas the money to make a super accessible free software that needs a lot of development and thinking -- and who has the power to rethink these things and controls these things and builds these things.
C. Other aspects of accesibility to think about in terms of scents, harsh lights overhead for those who get migraines, etc. Someone developed a very comprehensive audit template, and it's a crowd-sourcing initiative to collect information about which spaces are accessible and how accessible they are in detailed ways. Even just providing comprehensive information about how accessible a space is helpful upfront.
A. We did that with the THF! -- gave that information up front. Really appreciate it, really like this template. Been dealing with a certain amount of guilt for not making it more accessible - and know it's not a good place to work or start from. Thinking more about how to take action how to talk about it. What can we do. One of the thematic was one of the event was about decolonization of technology -- but it's still a mostly white event. It's still important to discuss this and try to make action. Thinking about Expozine and they had a big exposure of not being accessible because of toilets and stairs. And their first reaction was pretty clumsy, but then became more responsible and changed things. But there's also scale, does every small meeting have to be in accessible space? It's complex and needs to be talked about as much as you can in a collective setting.
Kar. Most important to bring things up front so that people can navigate with their accessibility. It's up to us to counter the barriers that are there, but there are people who have had to deal with this their whole lives, they'll make it work. So it's more about open the discussion of 'it's not accessible, but if there's anything we can do to accommodate your needs, let us and know and we can work it out'
A. Had this moment of having a talk and deaf friend wanted to come, and A. was like "how do i make this work" but she had her own network to figure it out and got in touch with people to come and do translation. Then she told the network that translation would be available for the event..
C. It's obviously waht the person with disability wants to do is important, but people just also need to do things with what they have beforehand and be intentional and mindful. Yes institutional infrastructure needs to change, but for now need to do a lot of one-on-one or small group things. It's also how do we creatively use resources we already have...
Kar. Trying to go to a bar with friend in a wheelchair after event -- bouncer lifted him up the stiars. Yea let's not stop from asking poliicies to change, but let's not stop from doing things with our own resources
A. Maybe that could be a good thing to organize - a discussion about accessiblity technology Marg. A recent friend of mine studying law at McGill -- couple summers ago became paralyzed. She would be an interesting person to bring into this conversation as well. She's now pushing for legal knowledge around the topic.
A. Having to discuss a lot with those who are deaf -- what she uses to hear a bit is an extremely expensive system, super proprietary, and horrible. Also has one friend who is a sound artist that works on hearing impaired technology -- she's been working with Calafou people working on sound devices, and they were wondering oh could we hack sound/hearing devices . And therefore the protheses is not just playful/aesthetic, but . "Some notes about Transfeminisitic Technologies" by PostOp who work a lot with Protheses in a playful/useful/feminist approach. In Barcelona, nice solidarity building between Feminist hackers and sex positive post-porn feminists.
Why do we make collaborative technology in this way.
C. Would be really down to help and organize the discussion about accessibility and technology