Adventures on the micro farm: a discovery of knapweed

One of the problems being an ignorant city kid playing around with micro farming (or whatever it’s called these days) is getting rid of stuff you thought were weeds (in my defence, I have only so many large pots), only to discover they were actually pretty cool.
Finally cleared some space to replant lavender and sow some dill, only to just learn the plant I’d got rid of was knapweed which is a) edible (well, the flowers are) and b) good for wounds.
Here it is a couple of months ago when it first came into bloom. Didn’t give that many flowers in all.
You can just see the knapweed flower crumpled on the soil where I’ve placed it for compost. Will see if I can’t rejuvenate and replant somehow. The empty pots are where I’m starting the purple broccoli and the salsify respectively. Check out the sage! Survived the frost rot and is now thriving. Will be replanted soon as I think it’s ready to spread.
Hopefully it will self seed again as it’s been a regular recurring feature. I spent ages trying to find out what it was – trust my luck it’s when I get rid of it that the web search turns up something useful 😄

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On natural history and the anti-nostalgic

On natural history and the anti-nostalgic

Earlier this week I was part of a really interesting discussion about the question of ‘engagement’ and what it might mean in the space of natural history and speculative imagination.

I’ve been working in the Museum sector for a little over a year and the question of engagement is an intriguing one. Having worked in community based tech and science organisations like MadLab, I guess I just expected the equivalent of citizen science – ‘engagement’ sounded like continuous reciprocal communication with visitors and participatory approaches as default but the realities of funding and organisational structures quickly made it clear it’s not nearly that simple.

The puzzle of engagement remains at every level, especially when considering putting it into practice. Even regarding the purely theoretical, we all have different understandings of ‘engagement’ – is it about getting feedback? Is it ideating with target/non-target audiences? Is it co-production? And what about the intertwined complexities of funding, accreditation and accountability?

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Comics Forum 2018

Comics Forum 2018

Pretty much since I started going to Thought Bubble comic convention (so let’s put that to 2008-ish) I’ve always wanted to check out the Comics Forum. As someone who would constantly re-read Scot McCloud’s ‘Understanding Comics’ and would stay up late to watch reruns of documentaries like Comics Britannia, an event where you could sit and listen to people dig deep into comics sounded like heaven.

And now that I’ve finally been able to go?

It was!

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That took you long enough: thoughts on Black Panther

That took you long enough: thoughts on Black Panther

I love how it took a panel to make me break my “eh I’ll wait for Netflix” self-promise but yes I have finally watched Black Panther. Now to be clear…

  • Yes I loved it from the start and followed the hype like everyone else. This is not a case of me being contrarian.
  • No I do not think the movie is a ‘sell out’ of Afrofuturism or that making Afrofuturism more mainstream is a bad thing. I was really happy it was being made, really happy it was so overtly marketed as ‘Afrofuturistic’ (even my white friends got into it! 😄).
  • OK so I am a bit meh on superhero movies in general but that’s not why I didn’t watch it in the cinemas.

Honestly? It was a mix of timing, me living on my overdraft and also… well, it didn’t need my help. It broke box office record after box office record so. Yeah. It was doing just fine.

But then I got invited to a panel on AfroFuturism in a post-Black Panther world at the Nine Worlds 2018 convention and thought… yeah I should actually watch it. And what I saw, well, it genuinely surprised me.

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Where Next for AfroFuturism? Thoughts on the Nine worlds panel et al.

Where Next for AfroFuturism? Thoughts on the Nine worlds panel et al.

I spent much of my Saturday at the Nine Worlds convention in Hammersmith, the first time I’ve ever been actually able to make it though not the first time I’ve heard of it. It’s been touted as one of the most inclusive geek events in the UK and for myself, I think that’s definitely the case, or at least from what I saw.

So wherefore my attendance? Well, I was on a panel titled ‘Where Next for AfroFuturism’, a panel I’d been invited to by Chella Ramanan from BAME in Games who I knew from January’s Afrotech Fest. A lot of – in fact all of – my recent talks have been on tech and inclusive design so it was nice getting to chat about AfroFuturism to a new audience.

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But *is it* decline theology?

This just in from the church side of things (how ironic – I’m trying to do more posts on critical theory of tech and the first blog post I write is online church stuff), I’ve been seeing this article by Revd. Goodhew make the rounds via a couple of priest-y friends on twitter. It’s yet another of those posts that make me realise there’s a whole other world the priests/vicars/etc. are living in to those of us in the laity.

Or just me. Yeah, maybe just me.

So anyway, Goodhew’s main argument in the article is that a key factor to the CofE semi-existential crisis is what he calls a theology of decline, or at least an organised spirit of suspicion from broad (so basically any non ‘Evangelical’) Anglicanism when it comes to the issue of church growth, where one finds – according to Goodhew – ‘hostility to talking of growing churches is widely shared, at least in the Global North’.

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