Sunday, February 23, 2020

Mission Statement

Welcome to Land and River, Fire and Sky.

For those few who might remember, I began LRFS as a part of a new start to my life in general; I had moved to Chicago, quit drinking, discovered Pumping Station One (PS1), a "hackerspace" community, and taken a strong sociopolitical outlook in defense of the disadvantaged and underprivileged, using my own experiences for perspective.

Since then, over three years has passed since my last post, and roughly four since I started LRFS. My experiences with PS1 have proven to be my largest, and longest-lasting, experiment in community involvement in my entire life, and it has certainly had its challenges. I've had to do considerable ethics exploration, between my own life experiences and the community I've joined, and it has greatly deepened my understanding of practical social justice and the issues it faces.

PS1 has a "hackerspace" philosophy of equality and inclusiveness, but many of the social issues it has are simply the same issues people face elsewhere, in miniature, and contained within a bubble. There can be issues with this, depending on who exerts pressure on that bubble, and I've spent the last three-and-a-half years alternately challenging it and being driven away by it, positing my background of poverty, disability, trauma, and disadvantage to reflect on a membership steeped in higher education, professional backgrounds, technical opportunity, and relative good physical and mental health.

Some members of PS1 are aware of the issues of social justice within the community. Some of them understand it from a controlled, brightly-branded environment, such as volunteer work or organized activism. Some of them are aware of such issues as something they read about in news, or study in a college or work-training course, but don't recognize their first-hand encounters. But many of them don't know how to recognize authority on the issues if they can't understand or identify with that authority's perspective. One thing PS1 almost universally lacks, in this arena, is first-hand representation for the disadvantaged, and it bothers me that this has never seemed to be an issue for the organization.

This has led me to do a lot of "re-inventing the wheel" when I engage them, showing my work over and over with each encounter to "earn" the authority I have to be heard as an equal when it should be intrinsic as a member, and that has been challenging; I don't have the backgrounds many of them share. I've found myself lacking the language, or being challenged on my choice of words at the expense of my message. It's been three-and-a-half years of doing what the leadership of PS1 prefers to see... autodidacticism... but not how they generally expect it: I've had to learn to communicate the language and philosophy of practical social ethics from a position of deep disadvantage, in the environment of PS1.

With this overhaul, LRFS will be doing just that. I'll be honest: it's not really going to be pleasant. I'll be addressing triggering issues (with warning) to assert authority from a perspective of experience, comprehension, and accountability. I'll also be crystallizing my efforts in deep and prolonged consideration of my experiences and the practical relation of them to ethics concerns. I'm doing this to codify perspectives I've had for a long time, and substantiate them with my experiences and observations; I've done a great deal of writing about these issues, and it's time to gather and organize them. In a way, LRFS will be more for my own purposes than for anyone else... but I intend to use it as a public reference, and I hope others benefit from this, too.

Thanks for reading.