First Days on the LibreBus

I’m in Salta with the LibreBus! And the fundraising campaign continues, having nearly reached its tipping point of $500!

The fundraising campaign seemed to be going solidly enough that I decided to go ahead and borrow $300 from my family, pay the ticket change fee, and get on the LibreBus — and it’s going wonderfully so far! And friends, co-workers, and anonymous supporters have pledged $370, which leave $130 left to raise in the next 24 hours before the campaign closes — otherwise none of the pledges get cashed in.

On Wednesday night I had to decide whether to stay in Argentina and get on the LibreBus or head back to the US because that was the date for my flight. Just because I’m on the bus doesn’t mean the campaign is over — it means that I’m confident that we’ll reach the $500 goal in the next 24 hours, and I’ll have the funds necessary to pay back my new $300 loan and cover my expenses while I do follow up work with LibreBus project in October, which might include putting together an interactive map of our route and which projects we learned about in each town; translating the website into English; giving presentations and workshops at community groups and schools in Buenos Aires (casa Islandia, Velatropa, Biblioteca La Carcova, Escuela 18); doing a LibreBus workshop at the Argentine national permaculture gathering in November.

LibreBus crew on stage in San Pedro de Jujuy

LibreBus crew — librenauts — on stage in San Pedro de Jujuy.

Yesterday was my first day with the LibreBus crew, starting with an event in the Casa de Cultura of San Pedro de Jujuy, a town of about 80,000 people in the foothills of the Andes in far northwestern Argentina. About 200 people came, giving us a standing-room-only audience curious about libre culture.

I went on stage after a talk by Jaime about libre software and an introduction to the activities of the Mentes Libres group by Analía. I spoke about seeing our lives and life places and libre software through a lens of flows — seeing the histories of where things come from and where they go as part of the flow that brings them into contact with us. Applying that to computers, the history goes to questions including

The audience / participants in San Pedro de Jujuy.

The audience / participants in San Pedro de Jujuy.

Where did this come from? Who put it together? What’s their life like? How did the manufacturing affect the river near the factories? To give folks a chance to digest what I talked about, we did two Think & Listens, about what visions people had for San Pedro, and what questions and ideas came up during my talk.

In the afternoon, we did a smaller event, and I showed participants the router and plug computer I setup to provide an intranet for the 10th Continental Bioregional Congress in 2009. That led to a conversation (pictured below) about the desire for better Internet connectivity in San Pedro, and the benefits of having a local intranet, such as those built by Buenos Aires Libre, the Free Network Foundation, and Guifi.

LibreBus afternoon in San Pedro de Jujuy

Me in conversation with participants in the afternoon LibreBus event in San Pedro de Jujuy.

router plug and raspi

Router and plug computer to make a local wifi and wired intranet with web server, and the Raspberry Pi.

Today we did a shorter event with about 25 people in Salta, organized by Salta Linux Users Group. My slice of the afternoon lasted about 40 minutes, while I introduced the Raspberry Pi, as I had in San Pedro, and explained that I want it to come with a booklet illustrating the mining, manufacturing, shipping, and eventual recycling of the device (if it can be recycled). Throughout my talk and Scann’s presentation of the book scanner, I asked participants, How can this serve as appropriate technology here in Salta? I look forward to asking that question in the upcoming events, because it got people thinking in concrete terms about what they want in their community and how they might make it happen, using libre tools.

The fundraising campaign continues for a final 24 hours, and I bet (starting a few days ago when I asked my mom for a loan to change my flight) that the remaining $130 will come from generous friends, anonymous supporters, and other folks who think this project matters. Spread the word, and please donate if you have the means — your money makes a difference in the quality of this work, and your emails and comments of encouragement also keep up my motivation. Visit the campaign page at http://igg.me/p/227745?a=1236405.

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