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Giving Tuesday – Women Who Code

 (bryan farley)

Two weeks ago I photographed the Women Who Code Executive Council celebration. Women Who Code is a global non-profit that increases women’s participation in technology fields. As of last month, WWCode has connected more than 50,000 women.

 (bryan farley)

For Giving Tuesday, Google featured Women Who Code on Google’s “One Today” page. This is another indication that WWCode has led more than 2,000 successful events in 20 countries.

 (bryan farley)

Even if I do not understand computer languages, I related to the community bonding. I just did not realize that it would be so three dimensional. One of the WWCode organizers, Kaitlyn Hova played her “Hovalin,” a 3-D violin that she and her husband designed and printed. The instrument looked and sounded like a violin.

 (bryan farley)

Hova is an incredible performer. She hears music in code too, so it was probably natural that she would design a 3-D printed instrument.

 (bryan farley)

There were other multi-dimensional conversations… several people discussed 3-D printing. The participants supported each other. The speakers mentioned how the organization changed their lives and how it was important to improve the lives of those who did not always have the same opportunities.

 

 

Defining Epilepsy and Creativity

This post is part of the Epilepsy Blog Relay™ which will run from November 1 through November 30. Follow along and add comments to posts that inspire you. (View my photos from the recent EFNC Gala if you wish too.)

 (bryan farley)

Last weekend when I was photographing the 2015 Epilepsy Foundation of Northern California Gala at the Fairmont San Francisco, I considered this week’s topic about Epilepsy and Creativity. Those of us with epilepsy are often asked about epilepsy and creativity. Does epilepsy make us more creative? Less creative? Is art therapeutic?

As with most things epilepsy, I think it depends on the definition… and who is doing the defining.

 (bryan farley)

I am 1 of 26 Americans living with epilepsy. As an artist with epilepsy, I think about creativity often. As a person with epilepsy, I may also think about creativity differently than many artists.

 (bryan farley)

Having epilepsy has forced me to be creative. I must be different; I must see differently. Our systems and structures were not created for me, so I extend bridges. I fill gaps. Sometimes people think my blank stares are caused by my having epilepsy when I am often pausing to figure out how to solve an unnecessary problem. Sometimes I look blankly at someone while I search for an appropriate answer to an inappropriate comment. I must continue paraphrasing my own words from 2010.

 (bryan farley)

People with epilepsy use our creativity to resist being defined. You can hear it when we say something like, “I have epilepsy, but it doesn’t define me.” Perhaps it is time for people with epilepsy to say something like,

“I have epilepsy and I define IT.”

We will begin saying that we are one of 26 and we will use all 26 letters to create our own story, our own song, our own definitions. We won’t let a creative American pharmaceutical company that moves to Ireland define us. We won’t let doctors define us. We won’t let non-profits or parents define us.

We define epilepsy.

 (bryan farley)

We must create our own stories… dance to our own drummer; find our own rhythm. It might sound like a big challenge, but big challenges are often overcome by people who are from small places. This year, the Epilepsy Foundation of Northern California honored Tony Coelho with the Innovation Award. Coelho grew up in Dos Palos, California before representing the area as a Congressman. Dos Palos is a small town in the San Joaquin Valley.

In Spanish, Dos Palos means “two sticks.”

Practicing Diversity in Abandoned Buildings

On Saturday November 7, 2015, I photographed Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s 50th Birthday Gala at the Old West Oakland Train Station. Mayor Schaaf celebrated her birthday by having a fundraiser for the East Bay College Fund. The 50th Oakland mayor raised money for 50 scholarships.

See my slideshow of the 113 year old building and the birthday gala.

 (bryan farley)

Before I left my house, I read a Knute Rockne quote in Justine Gubar’s book Fanaticus.

One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than a hundred teaching it.

 (bryan farley)

 Knute Rockne, who was born in 1888, was a young man when the 16th Street Station opened in 1914. For Schaaf’s birthday, I thought that I might repackage Rockne’s quote and apply it to diversity.

One person practicing diversity is far better than one hundred people teaching it.

 (bryan farley)

 Even though the event was about diversity and education, it was more about “practicing diversity” than teaching it. I did not hear anyone mention the shallow quote about closing the achievement gap. Instead, I could feel the ghosts of the Brotherhood of the Sleeping Car Porters. We connected with the past struggles; I could feel the energy from those who had advanced equity generations earlier.

 (bryan farley)There was also an optimism that comes with practicing diversity. While many of us have high expectations for youth of color, there were also discussions about increasing expectations for high-income students. Do we have enough faith in upper-class white students that we believe they could thrive in low-performing public schools? Do we believe in all students enough or must we continue to isolate high-income students?

 (bryan farley)

I really enjoyed most of the event, but there was one unforgettable moment. I had access to photograph the entire event, but I never received a pass. I walked behind the stage often. I was only stopped once… by a young woman of color. She was the only person who stopped me. She was firm too. I was actually pleased that she felt comfortable enough to challenge me, especially in a building with so much history, at a time when we must continue to practice diversity.