[Originally published February 2016.]
Toward the end of 2014, as Lima hosted the United Nations Climate Change Conference, five different oil spills belched into the Amazon from a single major pipeline. The effect is devastating, hordes of dead fish and millions of human lives tainted by illness and fear.
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.