Steampunk Hands Around the World 2017 – Support

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Image Courtesy of Mr. XPK

“I read your blog about …”

“Your artwork looks fantastic!”

“These shoes would be great with your outfit.”

“Have you heard about this steampunk book/music/art/movie?”

“You know about steampunk, right? Can you tell me more about …”

Comments and questions about steampunk can come to us from many directions, and it’s particularly nice when they come from supportive family, friends, and coworkers.

They may not be steampunks as well, or even regularly followers of our work, but they know of our interest and obsession passion and their comments are one way of letting us know that they support us.

Those comments not only let us know that they pay any attention at all to us and our interests, but that they are interested enough to pass along things they see to us. Sometimes they just want us to share, sometimes they nudge us to do the sharing.

These supportive people make my life better because their encouragement keeps me going, their interest shows that what I do extends beyond just our community, and that at the very least, they have some interest in the things I participate  in and do in my life.

One of my nieces found my steampunk activites and blogs interesting enough that she created this art work for one of her class assignments.

My Dad reads my blogs and frequently sends me follow up questions and comments about what people say in their interviews.

My sister-in-law’s mother expressed some interest in steampunk things she had seen and wondered if her daughter knew anything about it. The response was “Well, Mom, there’s someone in the family who knows a fair bit…” which led to all kinds of conversations at family get-togethers. it’s fun to chat about our common love of older Victorian style homes.

When I was consulting for the GSN tv show, Steampunk’d, I showed the trailer to co-workers at one of our team meetings. Several people watched the show and we talked about each episode the next morning.

One of those co-workers  made me buy a pair of awesome boots to go with one of my outfits. Okay, maybe it was “strong encouragement”. Or simple validation that I really couldn’t live without them for another second. Whatever. I credit her for helping me build my steampunk wardrobe.

I had a boss once who helped make sure that I could attend all the conventions I was invited to. We worked together to make sure projects kept moving along, that people knew what to do while I was out for a few days, and generally made sure there was no disruption to anyone when I headed out of town each month for a long weekend.

More than once, a friend would contact me about a steampunk author or artist. “Have you read this book?” of “Have you seen this artwork?”, was often followed up by “They are a friend of mine. Would you be interested in talking with them?”  Well, yeah! Interview opportunity!

Some people know of my fondness for tea, and they have been quite helpful and generous in sharing their sources and samples. A certain author turned me onto Strong English Breakfast from England, and another friend shares the most amazing blends that she comes across.

Each of these things is a nice compliment, about our friendship, my interests, and the work I do. How do your family, friends, and co-workers encourage and support your passion in steampunk?

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 20, 2017 at 8:32 pm  Comments (2)  
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Steampunk Hands Around the World 2017 – Perspective

shaw-2017-xpkImage Courtesy of Mr. XPK

A peek through a keyhole. Glimpses through the leaves of a tree.  Shadows on a wall. Perspective can be a bit like seeing the world like each of those – narrow, incomplete, and sometimes lacking context. Through our daily experiences, we have the opportunity to expand the field of view for our perspective on things around us.

Steampunk makes our lives better by expanding our perception of “what is” by more rapidly exploring “what could be.”

Steampunk makes us think, and consider alternatives. We learn that there are more options to things than its original purpose. We discover there really are more similarities than differences between us. Sometimes, the many tiny observations we’ve made come together like a puzzle or an un-shattering mirror, and our perceptive gaze is suddenly and irrevocably opened wide.

Our DIY props and accessories take old things, which some see as junk, and give them renewed, if altered, purpose. How often has something caught our eye and we’ve remarked, “I never thought of it that way before”? How often after that have we looked at every day common items and then thought, “That looks like a …” ?

The same thing happens as we meet people with different experiences, backgrounds, and expressions than ours. Maybe we are enticed to try something new, or simply live vicariously through others. Some realize there are steps too far to take, for now. Others get a hint of just how very incomprehensively different life experiences can be, and greet those snapshot views with reactions ranging from anxiety to exuberance, rejection to adoption, aversion to attraction.

Each of those expands our knowledge of what is possible in the world, if we choose to acknowledge it or not. We may not always want to peer into the dark corners, and there are plenty of things to see in the light.

As our perspective broadens, hopefully so too does our understanding, sympathy, and compassion. As we see how the world works, somewhat more clearly, we can be genuinely happy for others without being jealous, more giving without seeking acknowledgement, and supportive without judgment.

Our perspective is not only outwards to the world, but inwards into who we are. We begin to perceive better the hows and whys of our own lives and behaviors. Knowing those things, our expanded comprehension can only help us build more and better connections with others.

How has your own perspective on life and living changed through steampunk?

 

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 19, 2017 at 11:04 am  Comments (1)  
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Professor Elemental’s Guide to Making Life Better

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Ask most people about 2016 and, instead of giving you a nuanced selection of highlights and amusing anecdotes, they will be sick into a bucket. That is because, by pretty much anybody’s standards, 2016 has been, on the whole, horrible. If it wasn’t the Tories trying privatise air or bring back gollywogs, it was Donald Trump groping his way to the top, like an angry toddler in a wig.

Unless you are a paid up member of the KKK, mad person or recently fed dog, it’s very hard to justify 2016 as anything but an enormous and unexpected delivery of donkey poop arriving on your doorstep, first thing on Christmas morning.

Never fear gentle reader, for I have the solution- over the past 12 months I have been working on a cure for 2016. Steampunk medicine if you will, but without having to swallow any painful cogs along the way. We can make things marvellous again, if not for the world, for the people around us. And the Steampunk community, comprised of people who spend their spend time inventing a better world, are well placed to deliver the goods…

  1. Do good deeds

You can’t change the whole world. I mean, look at it, it’s a complete mess. In fact, don’t look at it. Turn off your news feeds*, stop getting any of your news from Facebook and head out into the big wide world. Knock on the door of a neighbour you haven’t met and ask if there’s anything they need, find causes to support and volunteer or give to them monthly, do a good deed for a stranger. Will this possibly mean giving flowers to an elderly neighbour, only to find out that she is a sweary racist who believe the foreign doctors are ‘out to get her’? If you live on my street, then yes, this is a very real possibility**.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

(*Remember newspapers? They are well worth revisiting, quickly, grab one before they vanish forever)

( **I also upset a Japanese girl in a comic shop who didn’t understand why I was trying to buy her comic books at the check-out as a random good deed for a stranger, and wasn’t trying to either chat her up or harass her. As she started to well up with tears of confusion, I backed out of the comic shop, a confusion of red faced, over-loud apologies and I knocked over a whole display of Deadpool comics. It wasn’t a great moment for either of us to be honest. But I remain assured that you are a more competent human being than I.)

  1. Write Fan mail

It’s not enough to stop feeding the trolls, we have to be more proactive these days. This does not mean you should angrily shout on social media at anyone who has a different opinion than you. ‘YOUR OPINION SUCKS AND I HOPE YOU DIE IN FIRE’ has rarely changed anyone’s mind. Instead, write fan mail. Write it every day; write to people you like, people you respect, artists, musicians, steampunk rappers with an endless need for internet based affirmation, politicians, bloggers, family. Do this every day* and it will make the internet a better place.

(*not always to the same person. That’s a very different thing and can lead to all sorts of legal trouble.)

  1. Complain in private

People can be awful, life can be horrible. And when you are tired, upset, angry or in my case, drunk- it’s all too easy to fire off a depressing, angry or attacking post about something or someone. STOP DOING THAT. Facebook particularly isn’t designed for negative emotions. It’s designed to show off pictures of your dinner/ children/ amusingly shaved cat and talking rubbish. It’s too clumsy a tool for articulating balanced arguments and dealing with complex emotions. Yes, it can be handy to find solace in pals when things go wrong- but do you really want to share that stuff with EVERYONE IN THE WORLD? Complain privately, seek help from specific friends, bitch with close friends only and never, ever argue about politics online*. It will make you sad.

(*and because facebook is so terrible at dealing with these complexities, remember it is not a reflection of real life- most of the news has been designed by algorithm to appease your sensibilities and is wildly inaccurate. Meanwhile, the posts that show how wonderful your friends lives are only tell part of the story- I had a stomach bug the other week and am late to file an enormous pile of receipts. I didn’t post much about that. I posted about another time when I went on a roller coaster and ate a burger named after me. Nobody’s lives are as good as they appear on social media, it’s a fact worth remembering)

  1. Get out of your comfort zone

As we sit on the internet in our little bubbles, we have to be careful our genuine experiences don’t narrow. Despite the crumbling of Western civilisation as we know it, there’s still some pretty cool stuff out there. Head out to music you’ve never heard of, random storytelling or poetry nights, try and open mic, go and see some comedy, read more fairy tales, hang out with some different people. It won’t always work, but when it does, it provides magical icing on the cake of life.*

(*This may be most poorly written metaphor I have ever written, but I am in Detroit airport and jet lagged, so you’ll either have to head over here and buy me a cup of strong tea or just deal with it)

  1. Recognize the awesome

Steampunks are very amazing. If you are a regular attendee or a newbie, you quickly find yourself surrounded by fantastic folk in fine finery*. As well as making sure you feel good in how you look and, if it’s your bag, the kind of character you want to be- make sure you pay compliments to your fellow Steampunks. They may be as nervous as you or brimming with the confidence that comes with pulling off a top hat of that magnitude- but everyone likes to feel nice and by doing so you will not only make our community a fresher and more welcoming place to be, but you might end up having an awesome chat with a brand new friend. Also, they might buy you a drink which is even better.

*(Damn you jet lag, the enemy of good writing)

  1. Keep escaping

Just keep doing it- volunteer, help out, organise, attend- escape. It’s* scientifically proven that adults who play are happier, nicer people and Steampunk is such a good excuse to do just that. Ignore the naysayers and grumblemonkeys who wiffle on about cultural appropriation or bore the nipples off us all with rules about what it should or shouldn’t be. We invented Steampunk and if you’re doing it, it’s whatever you say it is. Keep it surreal and keep escaping, it will make it easier to remake the world upon your return.

*(probably)

We’ll see you in 2017, hopefully not with tips on how to survive in radiation heavy areas, cook family pets safely or survive the zombie apocalypse- but at the moment, I’m not ruling anything out.

Stay safe, be nice and keep it weird.

— Professor Elemental

www.professorelemental.com

www.patreon.com/professorelemental

Twitter: Prof_elemental

Published in: on February 18, 2017 at 4:42 pm  Comments (2)