Airship Ambassador is a year old and I wanted to celebrate by recognizing the many things I’ve gained from steampunk this last year. From the first blog and the most popular blog in April 2010, to the website in August, to the bookstore in April 2011, it has been quite the adventure!
The first benefit of steampunk in all its many forms for me was learning so many new things. In understanding what alternate steampunk history could be, it helped to know more about real history. I learned that there was often more to a person’s publicly and commonly known image, such as Florence Nightingale when I researched the Role Models blog. Most people only know her as the “Lady with the Lamp” who created modern nursing, but she went on to influence public health policy and the war office from her “sick” bed.
There are also pieces of history that never seem to make it into the school text books, such as Victoria Woodhull, who was the first woman running for president, in 1872, against Grant. She was also involved in the Women’s Suffrage movement and was very outspoken about social and cultural customs of the time.
In this day and age where the internet makes global news and events instantly accessible, it’s interesting how much people still don’t know or understand. In seeing steampunk art of today, in talking with people about the challenges we still face with various –isms, in trying to learn more about 19th century music and literary forms, I spent countless hours reading about topics which had never touched my life before in any meaningful or impactful way. There was the Empress Dowager, the Opium Wars, the impacts of colonization (as invasion), industrialization with its benefits and ills, the wide variety of music from Classical / Romantic to opera to the beginnings of vaudeville.
In thinking about a steampunk world, there isn’t just England to consider, there’s a whole planet with a vast, rich tapestry of experience and history to learn about.
This last year has also been about things I have done by being interested and involved in steampunk. There were conventions to attend, and to miss, interviews and art shows, discussions and disagreements.
The efforts of the first six months of Airship Ambassador culminated with nine interview sessions at the Steamcon II convention in Seattle. Long days and nights, but so very rewarding.
The real benefit of being so involved in the steampunk community this last year is the people that I’ve met along the way and the friendships I’ve formed. There are far too many people to list with whom I’m in contact on a regular basis, so many more I wish I was, and so many more than that yet to meet. In forums, chats, groups, and everywhere a conversation is held, there’s always someone interesting to get to know.
With these new friends, I’ve laughed heartily, listened intently, talked loudly, and from every one of them, with every tweet and Facebook post, email and phone call, I have learned much. I have learned about the world that I am in, the worlds that I am not, and perhaps most importantly, the world that is me.
My thanks to all of you for joining me this last year and I hope you’ll come along for the adventures of this next year. There is so much for all of us to share together. Be Splendid in all that you do.