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The São Paulo Maker Scene

Madison and I have both been to São Paulo, the largest city in the southern hemisphere, and we love it. In 2011 Madison traveled to SP for Carnival with the goal of staying there for two and a half weeks speaking only Portuguese. She’d been studying the language at university, and wanted to test herself. “I planned the first two days of the trip, and left the rest completely open-ended. I made some lifelong friends and managed to survive without speaking any English,” she said.

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The Buenos Aires Maker Scene

Buenos Aires… Where to begin?! This city moves with gentle grace despite its gargantuan size, the third largest metropolitan region in Latin America. It’s calm and quaint in corners, quilted with parks and public spaces, but beware  the buses; they’ll rip down streets no matter how narrow as if the pavement were on fire.

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The Jungle Boat

At the start of May, Madison and two of her fellow Kaospilots joined the Floating Fab Lab (FLF) team on an investigative excursion into the Amazon. They visited two villages near Iquitos, Padre Cocha and Manacamiri in the Maynas region, and set themselves the task of discovering how exactly the FLF will best be able to serve these and similar indigenous communities. A tentative approach is necessary for ambitious, modern projects such as the FLF. If the project busts in delivering education and new technology to people who never even completed primary school, their reception will not be great. That would be scary. It would feel like a cultural coup. And that’s why the FLF is taking its time with investigation, finding the best angle to bring their hopeful project to the world of these indigenous communities. Understanding the context of where they’re going and who they’re helping is key to being able to initiate positive change. The FLF project is undeniably a force for good, but there’s still a right way and a wrong way to go about implementing it. The appropriateness of their goals is important to understand.

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Fab Lab Santiago

I’ve never been to a city quite like Santiago, especially in Latin America. In this city, they clothe their stray dogs with a bright orange vest so they don’t get hit by cars at night. Cyclists zip by on well-demarcated bike lanes. Homosexuality is no big deal, and gay couples walk around holding hands. Street art, skate parks, a dozen universities all on strike for free education–this is a modern, even enlightened, city.

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