While at Maker Faire NY, SparkFun was approached by one of the coordinators of the Feast on Good Conference. She was interested in what it is SparkFun does and invited us to return to NYC several weeks later to join in their annual collaboration and ongoing conversation on social change via creative solutions to complex issues. This conference, commonly referred to as "The Feast", represents a "cross-disciplinary series of programs addressing social innovation and new ways to make the world a better place." Well, who are we to argue with efforts being made to make the world a more happy, safe, and sustainable place? In fact, we are honored that they have asked us to join them in these efforts!
SparkFun likes to think of ourselves as an organization that helps to share ingenuity and "spark" innovation in the communities that we are fortunate enough to find ourselves in. The Feast collaborators represent yet another collective of folks that may find great value in bringing the open-source hardware movement to their own spheres of influence.
Social innovation is a buzz word that a friend of mine, while studying human rights at Columbia, shared with me a couple of years ago. It was something that she saw SparkFun doing (even though we may not have fully recognized it). How exactly are we involved in this movement? Is it simply that we are enablers of individuals and research groups who want to use their electronics skills and knowledge to improve the greater good?
Or does SparkFun simply help forward progress by providing a sharing/feedback loop for the public? My hope is for the latter because I feel that it has a better chance of making the greatest impact. We love hearing about the crazy cool embedded electronics projects that you all are dreaming up and creating with help from us through parts purchased on our site or ideas/techniques gleaned from our tutorials or forum. In theory, the more we all continue to freely share ideas and knowledge with one another, the more we collectively create an environment that helps to advance and improve civil society. Right?
So if you're in the NYC area and wish to join in on this discussion and hear what ideas and enterprises many of the thinkers and doers in this arena are pursuing, please come out to The Feast this weekend. I am certainly excited to meet and interact with the speakers that are presenting at this year's Feast! And, if you're interested, SparkFun will be teaching a soldering basics workshop with a twist on Day 2 of the conference. The twist is going to involve a bit more exposure to the world of electronics hacking. We'll be encouraging the students to think about what else their Simon game can do if they learn to see it not as a game but as a device with multiple inputs and a bit of processing power.
It's Feast on Good time and I'm starving. Come eat with us!