Steampunk Hands Around the World 2017 – Collaboration

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By Madame Askew

Months ago, I had the pleasure of speaking with the dear Airship Ambassador about one of my most favorite aspects of the steampunk community: collaboration! Being a gracious and forward thinking gentleman, The Ambassador suggested the topic for Steampunk Hands Around the World. Of course, such a suggestion led me to ponder the topic and to consider what I might come to write for such an illustrious event. I considered and tossed away more ideas than I could ever fit comfortable in a such an essay.

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At last I realized that at the heart of the collaboration and its deep importance to me in this community is the simple fact that teamwork and partnership in the Steampunk community has been at the heart of leading me to a happier and better life.

Those who know me as Madame Askew will know that I spend most of my time collaborating, facilitating, and, I hope, inspiring all manner of frivolity around tea, costuming, and a variety of special events. I never do these activities alone, however. I am always surrounded by those joining me in the activities, lovely humans who quickly become compatriots and collaborators and dear friends. Often we are making performance art in the form of improvisation together. Sometimes it hardly seems that anyone realizes that we are creating these magic moments until later, and yet, to be in that moment with a friend of long standing or a soon to be friend is the most exhilarating and affirming instance imaginable. I never feel so absolutely good about life as I do in those moments. It is shared and impossible to create without the act of sharing. Without collaboration, I could never enjoy this experience of creation and never realize that particular joy though, of a certainty, I know many joys in life. This collaboration, however, is transcendent, an alchemy of humanity that is certainly greater than the singular participants, most especially greater than myself.

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This is the experience for me as a performer and event organizer, as Madame Askew, but while on stage and in the public eye, I am Madame, it is myself for whom life has improved. Madame Askew, after all, is a fictional character. What many who know me as Madame Askew may not know is that 4 years ago, my personal, private life took an abrupt and distressing turn. My world as I knew it turned upside down and all of my future plans were asunder. My marriage of 12 years was coming to an end. While the ending was not acrimonious and while I have nothing but respect for my former partner, at the time I was deeply devastated and I had no idea how I would go forward or with whom or as who. Really everything I knew about myself and my life was in chaos. I had never lived alone until that moment. I had long been focused on a certain road map to life and I had built my support and community around that particular road map.

Adrift, bereft, heart broken, devastated, and really desperately askew in my own personal life, I discovered the very strength of that warm support, that endless collaboration that is the very essence of the shared world of Steampunk. As alone as I thought I would be in that first instance or loss, I quickly discovered that my partnerships and collaborations with my performing companions, with my many artist friends, with other dear friends who adored event planning as much as I meant that I was most assuredly neither as alone as I felt nor was I bereft of direction. My life took a new shape, one with a road map that was constantly in flux and sometimes precarious, but a road map that was also always shared with companions traveling the same roads whether it be for a short time on the journey or long term collaboration.

Since that fateful change in my life, I have collaborated with my friends in the Tucson Steampunk Society to produce yearly fantastical parade entries in the Helldorado days parade, I have shared the grand adventure of improv with my dear partner in tea and frivolity, Glenn, and I have met so many amazing humans all across North America who are willing to allow me to join them in their vision of the Steampunk world for an hour, a day, even a few moments.  I have enjoyed so many different varieties of collaborative and shared art that too list them would take the entire length of the essay. My sheer happiness and pride in each of these collective moments has filled my life and cured my heartache.

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Certainty and singularity of purpose, sole control of a project might all be more predictable and more easily managed, but I would never trade the shared joy, the partnership with so many fellow travelers in Steampunk, nor the creative alchemy that comes with collaboration for that predictable singular control. I am at the end of the day so incredibly delighted by this life experience that grows from my adventures in Steampunk and so much happier because of that wonderful collaboration with others in our community.

 

Published in: on February 28, 2017 at 6:29 pm  Comments (1)  
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Steampunk Hands Around the World 2017 – Informing the Future

By Wolfgang Edwards

Innovation, unprecedented improvements and discoveries that expand and fill our world. This is what Steampunk means to me. Living in turbulent times of many changes great and small, I feel like Steampunk is a community and a spirit of inspiration and a beacon of hope for a better tomorrow. In this way, and many others, this sub-genre of sci-fi informs our future.

 
On the surface it may seem as if Steampunk is looking backward to the past Victorian era, or away into alternate, imaginary worlds. But in reality Steampunk is very much looking forward and its community members are a brilliant example of the collaborative and creative spark that keeps humanity moving forward.

 
Whether it is the inventor who is exploring new and improved technologies, or the artist expanding our imaginations, Steampunk strives toward progress and self-improvement, for a better, brighter tomorrow. I am thrilled and humbled to be a part of such a forward-thinking, open-minded group of minds.

Published in: on February 27, 2017 at 9:45 pm  Comments (1)  
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Steampunk Hands Around the World 2017 – Changing ‘X’

steampunk-hands3-2017-xpkImage Courtesy of Mr. XPK

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

– Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

 

These words of wisdom by American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr serve as reminder and check as to how we might best spend our time and efforts. Do we dwell on the unchangeable past, do we plan for different outcomes in the future, do we make changes right now which show that we have learned from our experiences and ensure a better path forward?

Previous posts for this year’s Steampunk Hands Around the World have discussed the value in exploring alternate pasts, understanding the roles and forces in play, and how those ideas help us decide what kind of future we want to have.

Steampunk makes our lives better by giving us the tools and the community to make real changes in our own lives, at least, if not in the larger world, as well.

Steampunks have the opportunity to be role models every day by the example we present to others. It may be our attention and effort in looking well groomed and well dressed or our politeness and courtesy.

Maybe it will be the idea of equality and inclusion, through altruistic actions and egalitarian intent. We can show how there are no true boundaries or limitations on who can do what, aside from a person’s skills and abilities. There is only one biological role for women, and one for men, but all other tasks and jobs in the world can be done by anyone.

Society and culture may want to enforce artificial rules and support peer pressure which limit what a person aspires to do, and it may try to shame those who go against them. Each and every one of us can break that cycle of influence and show others that there are other equally valid paths and perceptions of what is possible.

What an individual can do is not determined by their gender, or sexual orientation, or the color  of their skin, nor by any other factor or description other than “Can you do “X”?”

Steampunks can be part of all social changes. We can speak out against discrimination, and exemplify inclusion. We can take action in marches and call our government representatives. Perhaps most importantly, we can have one on one discussions with others, and share our own personal stories.

We may not change the world overnight, but we can work to expand perspectives and understanding, one person at a time. If we don’t at least try, then surely we will always fail.

 

Follow along each day as new entries are added to the Official Link List and join the discussions on the Facebook event page.

 

Published in: on February 27, 2017 at 8:43 pm  Comments (1)  
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