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Gosh Dam It

Madison and I had a fabulous time in Amsterdam. (Does anyone not?!) We stayed with Monique de Wilt of ZB45 Makerspace and her cat Neo, named of course for the protagonist of The Matrix. Monique’s building her own open source 3D printer, the MoWi, which is special because it’s collapsible, easy to transport by bicycle. As amazing as Couchsurfing is, staying with Fab folk is a fantastic opportunity for us to get to know people outside of the official Fab Lab filming environment. We love witnessing how Fab folk spend their free time. Belonging to a Fab Lab is not just a hobby, it’s more of a lifestyle.

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Monique de Wilt works on her 3D printer at ZB45 Makerspace.

We took a couple days to catch up on work, and then we were back to filming. We visited ZB45 with Monique a couple times and observed an art class at work in the Lab. We spoke to the students’ teacher, Michiel Koelink, about the intersection of art and technology. He maintained that all forms of art are necessary, from practical design to art for art’s sake. It’s important for students to experiment with as many media as possible, however, which is why he believes in bringing his classes to the Fab Lab. We spoke to a few different students groups, and they were all involved in creating something different. For example, one team was building an Arduino-programmed moose head that would spray paint onto a canvas, Andy Warhol style.

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The Andy Warhol Moose Team.

Jaap Vermaas and Liesbeth d’Hont, founders and managers of ZB45, graciously submitted to interviews. We also met Donna Metzlar, founder of Gender Changers, a feminist technology club. I really enjoyed talking to Donna, who stressed the importance of all forms of diversity in the workplace. She switched to IT after working as a nurse for several years, and now feels herself in transition again. She feels a bit burned out by the consumerism that technology can encourage. There are already so many things in the world, we don’t need to be creating more. That’s why Donna would like to start teaching, which is something she’s been doing informally with Gender Changers for many years.

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Another student team works on an Arduino-powered race car.

On our last morning in the Dam, Monique played along as we filmed for a super short video we’ll be putting together about Amsterdam. In København and Hamburg we tried to ask locals about their favorite elements of their city, but in Amsterdam we realized that we were surrounded by a lot of tourists, and we didn’t feel like sifting through them. So I collected a few facts about the city and we filmed for a different kind of video: mostly silly but also informative. For example, did you know that Amsterdam boasts over 100km of canals and 1200 bridges, which divide the city into about 90 tiny islands? What a maze; no wonder Madison and I spent so much time lost!

Though our equipment may be falling apart and our legs are permanently speckled with bruises and chain grease, bike tour just keeps getting better and better. We’re a bit behind on the administrative side of things (blogging, editing footage, etc.) and we can’t seem to arrange things more than a day or two in advance, but we’re having a blast and meeting some of the most fascinating and passionate communities in Europe. Madison and I are only two people, and we’ve taken on a project that really requires an entire team, but so long as people are open to our spontaneous whirlwind style of production, that’s how we’re going to keep operating. I know it can be a bit stressful, and we’re extremely grateful to everyone who’s been patient enough to be involved in our project thus far.

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Next up on the blog: “Fab Daddy” Bart Bakker takes us on an adventure in Amersfoort.

In other news we have officially crossed our third border and are now happily resting in Brugge, Belgium. I’ll be blogging like mad to catch up, and Madison’s going to start working on editing our new Crowdfunding campaign video. Next stop: Gent, where perhaps some handy Fab Lab folk will help us fix some of our busted stuff. But first, I’m going to write another blog post.

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