Steampunk Hands Around the World 2017 – Wrap Up

shaw-2017-xpkImage Courtesy of Mr. XPK

As we wrap up the fourth annual Steampunk Hands Around the World, it is worth looking at all the reasons we’ve read and heard about this year’s theme, Making Life Better, more importantly for you, dear reader, to think about how steampunk has had a positive impact on your own life.

We’ve heard about the effects of stories, art, music, and fashions. How we’ve learned, and taught. How our walls were broken down, and our personal horizon extending further.

Perhaps all of this could be summed up with this: Steampunk makes us happy.

We see it in the smiles, and hear it in the laughter. It’s there as people make new friends and join in new groups. We have fun, and show others how much enjoyment it all brings us.

We are the music makers,:

And we are the dreamers of dreams,

– English poet Arthur O’Shaughnessy, 1873

Not everyone in the world will learn about steampunk, or care to. They may deride it, or be aggressively defensive against something they don’t understand. That is their choice for themselves.

For those of us who participate in the steampunk community, we can make the most of it, and help it grow and thrive. We can make the most of what our community offers, individually, locally, regionally, and globally.

Here are just some of the comments left on Facebook about how steampunk makes lives better:

–  It gives me a creative outlet I didn’t really know I needed, and has introduced me to some amazing people from all across the Country!

– I’m new to it, but I love the non-judgemental atmosphere. No thread-counting, no “that’s not period”, and no body shaming.

–  There’s a certain satisfaction of being perpetually on the hunt for interesting things to add to one’s persona. There’s a creative outlet in learning new skills and applying them to Steampunk projects. You meet lots of new people with whom you already have much in common. It’s easy to adopt the Victorian manners and mores, so we are a very polite and courteous society, making interactions far more pleasant.
All in all, I love being around people who “get” me.

– It has given me an outlet to express my personality and creativity in a way I hadn’t been able to before, and it has given me the opportunity to meet interesting people

– I have met so many wonderful new friends through Steampunk and have been having so many fun adventures that I never imagined having otherwise

– It gives me an opportunity to focus on my own designs rather than following someone else’s, and a much needed reason to hang out and relax instead of working 24/7.

– Love how it’s inclusive and does not have an exclusive feeling. Instead of skirting the edges every one is welcome! Plus we can camouflage in the regular world

– Steampunk adds a sense of belonging. You have a community that is welcoming and inclusive that seems to say “come and sit a while, have a cup of tea”.

 

With every story and song, every artwork and outfit, and every friend and event, steampunk makes a positive difference in our lives, and it would be selfish for us not to share that happiness with others.

Be who you are.

Do what you do.

Support each other and the community.

– Kevin Steil, Airship Ambassador, 2014

Now, go forth and share the positive differences with others.

We’ll see you here next year as we take a Steampunk Road Trip around the world!

 

Read all of the entries for this year on the Official Link List and people’s personal updates on the Facebook event page.

 

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Published in: on February 28, 2017 at 6:41 pm  Comments (2)  
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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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