I arrived in Buenos Aires on Saturday, August 13, five years after my previous visit, thanks to the generous support of my parents, my brother, Peter Schweitzer and Anita Whipple (who made the inaugural donation to this Vivir Libre project!), and the wonderful hospitality of my host family, the Silvestres, in the town of Rafaela. For background on my intentions during this trip, see Vivir Libre.
In Argentina, I find myself in a country where the very concept of a country raises different memories, feelings, and strategies than in the United States of America. My understanding of how some people relate to the State here has deepened in the past week.
Last Wednesday I enjoyed a new dive into Argentine history when I went to the “Community and Public Good Communications” course that my host-cousin Daniela Silvestre co-teaches at the University of Business and Social Sciences (UCES) (links: English, Spanish).
The lesson of the evening focused on the emergence of “civil society” in recent decades in Argentina and the social and State structures that satisfied public needs throughout Argentina’s history — this is precisely the history that helps me understand my context here and design and implement a the Vivir Libre campaign more effectively.
My second pulse of Argentine history came in a film today — first, the meeting that led to the film:
Yesterday evening (Sunday), I got together with Rafaela Libre, a loose group of folks who enjoy discussions about software libre and organized an event together sometime in the past year. I brought a few props:
- the space shuttle model that David O. printed for me with ABS plastic on a MakerBot (member of Creator Space in Clear Lake, Texas),
- fliers showcasing the Global Village Construction Set (GVCS),
- my Canon A495 camera that I run with CHDK firmware libre for book scanning.
The conversation was lively, with a group of seven of us in a café sort of place (a “kiosko-bar”). I told the stories of the projects that, together, move us towards a fully libre web of production and communication (such as GVCS and The Free Network Foundation). Our brief notes of the meeting are visible in the listserve archive, as is my invitation to our next meeting.
Afterwards, Armando invited me to continue our conversation at his house, where I learned more about current Argentine politics (and I showed Armando how to access Leaky Mails dot com — which contains leaked emails of government officials — via the Internet Archive, since the site was blocked, allegedly by SIDE, the national intelligence agency… let’s hope I don’t have any interactions with them for posting this [UPDATE 2012-05-25: Someone said this site, MutualGift.net, was marked as a virus carrier, which it isn’t — I wonder if that was retaliation for posting sensitive info, or just an error. Anyhow, Leaky Mails is now directly accessible, with all the accompanying questions it raises about journalistic integrity and the privacy of public servants.]), we watched the first half of the film Home (Armando brought it up immediately when I explained Gaia Theory), and Armando gave me a DVD of the film Argentina Latente, by Pino Solanas. A fruitful, inspiring evening connecting with a new acquaintance.
Tonight, at my host-dad’s suggestion, we watched Argentina Latente after dinner… Wow! The stories of industrial production and creativity give me immense inspiration that I’ve come to a prime place for development of the Global Village Construction Set and libre tools in general — not just Argentina as a whole, but the city of Córdoba, which I can reach with a 5 hour bus ride west from here. The city of Córdoba houses the industrial hub of Argentina, including the currently dormant National Airplane Factory. I feel very excited to continue the Vivir Libre campaign here, where perhaps some of the scientists and professors who used the phrase “we reject mental colonialism” recognize that libre licenses — and the commons as a concept — can play important roles in sovereignty and autonomy.
I look forward to connecting the technical high school in Rafaela, the National Technological University in Santa Fe, software libre groups in Santa Fe and Córdoba (via USLA), the projects in Capilla del Monte and Buenos Aires that Ernesto S. works on with the NGO Amartya, farmers in Santa Fe (Naturaleza Viva farm) and Misiones provinces, and whomever else I have the pleasure of meeting.
Traveling, printing fliers, building websites, buying food, and otherwise propelling this project is easier with money, so if you want to strengthen Vivir Libre with some of your financial power, I welcome you to contribute via credit joinedcard or PayPal (for checks, precious metals, BitCoin and other types of contribution, email me). Gathering $800 over the next month would make a big difference for this trip. You can also tell your friends about my work, and hire me to collaborate / consult on your projects (details in my Dreamfish profile).
I aim to spark understanding and participation in each person I cross paths with, including you, so if something here inspires you or piques your curiosity, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below! If you want to receive emails when I write more articles, use the email subscription form at the top of the right column of this page.
Thanks for your attention, and thanks again to my supporters thus far.
chau ~ Patrick