January 1, 2014

A Couple Noteworthy Kickstarters

Over the past few months I have spent just a little time (okay, a little more than a little...) on Kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com/) and I wanted to share two particularly interesting projects that I found there. As of today, they are both fully funded with time to spare!

The first project is called Eli Skipp weaves representations of her brother's RNA. Eli Skipp, the artist, is representing the RNA of her brother and the cane toad (Bufo marinus) with frame-loom weaving. She represents each base in the RNA (adenine, guanine, cytocine, and thymine) with different colors (red, yellow, blue, and green) in the weaving.

The comparison between her brother, a life-long lover of toads, and Bufo marinus she describes as being for private reasons, but that it is really speaking to the two halves of sides of her brother, and that they are both in fact him. This is interesting to me with respects of our connections to nature, whether you think of spirit animals, affinity with a certain type of animal, or the evolutionary memory of being one with nature. I digress.

Philosophy aside, I really appreciate this project for another reason as well. Skipp has found a really interesting way of representing scientific data through art. The RNA data simply dictates the colors in a weave. What does this do to the meaning of the weaving? Does it help people relate better to science, or does it make them more curious about it? Upon seeing the brother's RNA aside the toad's RNA will the similarities or differences be more obvious? Will it make it tangibly obvious what is the difference, or lack there of, between being a human and being a toad? I am curious to see this project completed. As a work in progress I think it has significant potential.

Skipp has other interesting projects and art as well. To find out more check out her blog and website:

The second project that I would like to share with you is called The Bicycle Diaries: My 21,000-mile Ride for the Climate. David Kroodsma has a masters degree in interdisciplinary environmental science and now works as a data journalist and a climate consultant/researcher. More to the point, Kroodsma went on a 21,000 miles journey, on a bike!

I have had dreams of doing things like this, walking to the Amazon or Alaska or Africa, but the closest I have come is various car trips collectively of about 15,000 miles (not the same). But what really sets Kroodsma's trip apart from my various adventures, and most other people's, is his mission. His strong concern about climate change fueled Kroodsma to center his trip on the idea of researching and teaching about climate change in the places he visited. He sought out interesting people and gave talks along the way, he researched how climate change affects the places we traveled through, and along the way, he gained a new perspective on how climate change is a global issue.

So, upon pedaling from San Francisco to Tierra del Fuego, what did he do? He wrote a book of course! I am jealous of his journey and inspired by his technique. What better way to connect with people, share knowledge, do the dirty work, connect with our southern neighbors who are far too often annexed by our politics, have fun, and bring back and then share his gained knowledge.

Kudos for fun and inspiring!

His next trip is going to be across Asia!