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Solidarity Infrastructures

Teachers
Alice Yuan Zhang, Max Fowler, Mark Anthony Hernandez
Date
Section 1: March 14, 2023 to May 16, 2023
Section 2: March 16, 2023 to May 18, 2023

(10 classes)
Time
Section 1: Tuesdays, 11:00am-2:00pm ET Section 2: Thursdays, 7:00pm-10:00pm ET
Location
Online (Zoom)
Cost
$1200 Scholarships available learn more...
Deadline
Applications open until February 10, 2023

Apply Now

Description

How do we cultivate infrastructures of solidarity with each other, especially under conditions of crisis, protest, and systemic inequity? Beyond corporate data clouds and monopolistic service providers, this class offer critical space to reframe technology from a grassroots perspective in relation to other components of day-to-day societal infrastructure. We will explore concepts like the slow web, organic Internet, right-to-repair, data sovereignty, minimal computing and anti-computing, in context of the intersectional Just Transition movement. Get to know how community tech and cultural organizing go hand-in-hand through real-world case studies. Learn about the creative applications and underlying ideologies of various open source tools and network topologies. Tune into signals of radical communication beyond colonialist legibility. Along the way, we aim to challenge the technocapitalist worldview, breaking the dichotomy of "high" and "low" tech in favor of a needs-based approach that centers collectivist values and the Earth. Over the course of the class, participants will develop technical skills for running a situated server practice and learn from each others' experiences. Each participant is encouraged to apply the idea of "computing in place" to their own locale through a creative project which may range from a small poetic experiment, to archiving personal and familial stories, to collaborating with the neighborhood library, community garden, elderly home, or mutual aid coalition. As creative practitioners, we will direct our imaginative power toward experimenting with refusal, repair, responsibility, and reconnection in order to dream into practice the relational infrastructures we need.

Images courtesy of teachers.

Course of Study

  • Reclaiming our technological imagination: low-tech, folk tech, craft, and alternative futuring
  • How does the internet work? Intro to networking and the internet stack
  • Community tech, neighborhood politics, and socially-engaged arts
  • Baby's first libre software service: innoculating a Pi, learning to SSH, hosting a website, apps, and more
  • Locality, embodiment, and other antidotes to infrastructural abstraction
  • How network topologies shape our social fabric and vice versa
  • What do we actually need? Offline-first, analog networks, and appropriate tech
  • Sovereign software and the commons
  • Do It With Others: labor, maintenance, and longevity
  • Materiality of computing, lifecycle analysis, and technological grief
  • Radical signals, rogue frequencies, and speculative possibilities for liberatory communications

Expectations

Time & Workload

Participants can expect to spend no more than 2 hours outside of class each week on class readings and assignments. Each participant is invited to develop a situated infrastructural intervention over the course of the class, with the option to apply technical skills for server hosting that we will learn together. This requires being proactive with researching the needs of a community that is specific to you, and establishing or deepening relations with collaborators.

Technical Experience

Any technical experience is welcome but not required.

Learning Outcomes

Together we will develop:

  • Critical perspectives on digital and societal infrastructures based on feminist, decolonial, and ecocentric theorists and practitioners
  • Practical experience working with a community of your choice to initiate, steward and maintain a context-specific infrastructure project
  • Technical skills for running a situated server practice, including the basics of the command line and system administration, as well as libre-software services
  • Knowledge about software frameworks and tools made with the purpose of building and maintaining community infrastructure (such as yunohost, coop-cloud, and servers.coop)
  • Knowledge about basic networking and the layers of the internet stack (such as IP addresses, DNS, ISPs and mesh networks)
  • An expansive view across communication mediums (such as radio, LoRa, echolocation, and pigeon networks)
  • Knowledge about the material and energy costs of computing
  • Ongoing supportive relationships with fellow community tech practitioners

Is this class for me?

This class may be for you if:

  • You are curious about what a grassroots approach to technology might look like
  • You see yourself as a weaver, maintainer, or network poet
  • You often find yourself asking WWMD ("What would mycelium do?")
  • You have a feeling there's more to decentralization than blockchain
  • You want to develop or deepen relations with your community of service
  • You want to host a server on local hardware
  • You like to trace where everything comes from and where it goes

This class may NOT be for you if:

  • You are not interested in a collaborative or community-engaged creative practice
  • You are looking for the one-size-fits-all technological solution
  • You'd rather not be the one to help clean up after dinner

Meet the Teachers

teacher

Alice Yuan Zhang

Alice Yuan Zhang 张元 is a Chinese-American media artist, researcher, and cultural organizer based in Los Angeles. Her transdisciplinary practice operates on cyclical and intergenerational time. Along the peripheries of colonialist imagination, she works to bring technology down to earth by devising collective experiments in ancestral remembering, interspecies pedagogy, and networked solidarity.

she/her · website · twitter · instagram

teacher

Max Fowler

Max Fowler is an artist and programmer working with offline-first software, mycology and community infrastructure. They are a contributor to PeachCloud, software that makes hosting peer to peer software on local low-power hardware more accessible. They are also a co-founder of KiezPilz (kiezpilz.de), a communal fungi cultivation group based in Berlin. They were a student at the School For Poetic Computation in 2016, and later a TA. They are one of the admins of sunbeam.city, and are interested in foraging, flip-phones, rust and html.

they/them · website · twitter

teacher

Mark Anthony Hernandez

Mark Anthony Hernandez Motaghy is an artist and cultural worker. They live in the occupied territory of the Naumkeag, Pawtucket, and Massachusett tribe. Operating with mediums such as experimental video, as well as installation, books, and oral histories, Mark's current practice is exploring sites of commoning, care-based economies, and sociotechnical imaginaries. They were previously a researcher at The Poetic Justice Group at MIT Media Lab, where Mark investigated decentralized story-telling models and community-driven sculptures. In addition, Mark is the compiler of the zine-book Rehearsing Solidarity: Learning from Mutual Aid, published by Thick Press, documenting mutual aid experiments in response to state failings and the social and digital infrastructures created for communities to fight back.

he/they · website · twitter · instagram

Accessibility

Our programs are conducted in spoken English with audiovisual materials such as slides, code examples and video. Online programs are held over Zoom.

Please take care and be well. We hope you are comfortable in your housing, living, and working situation in general. Never hesitate to ask us for advice and reach out if you have accessibility requests or need any assistance during your time at SFPC. We will work closely with you towards co-creating the most accommodating learning environment for your needs.

reach out with questions about access...

How do I apply?

Apply Now

What is a/n infrastructure, tool, or system that you enjoy using and supports your needs? What do you appreciate about it? In what ways might it not have your best interest in mind?

Applications open until Applications closed on February 10, 2023.

You can expect to hear back from us about the status of your application on February 24, 2023. Please email us at admissions@sfpc.study with any questions you have.

more about what we look for in participants...

How much does it cost to attend?

For 10 classes, it costs $1200 + processing fees, for a one-time payment. We also offer payment plans. Participants can schedule weekly or monthly payments of the same amount. First and last payments must be made before the start and end of class. *Processing fees apply for each payment.

SFPC processes all payments via Withfriends and Stripe. Please email admissions@sfpc.study if these payment options don't work for you.

Upon payment, your space in the class will be reserved. We offer scholarships for those who cannot pay full tuition. Read more about scholarships below.

I can’t pay for SFPC. Can I come at a reduced rate, or for free?

If you can’t pay full tuition, we really still want you to apply. Our application will ask you how much you can pay. We will offer subsidized positions in all of our classes, once each one has enough participants enrolled that we’re able to do so.

We have also started a scholarship fund, and we will be offering additional scholarships as community members redistribute their wealth through SFPC. We direct scholarship funds towards participants who are low-income, Black, Indigenous, racialized, gendered, disabled, Queer, trans, oppressed, historicially excluded and underrepresented.

Right now, tuition is SFPC’s main source of income, and that is a problem. It means that we can only pay teachers, pay for space, and organize programs when participants pay full tuition to attend. Tuition is a huge barrier to entry into the SFPC community, and it disproportionately limits Black participants, indigenous participants, queer and trans participants, and other people who are marginalized, from participating. Scholarships are not a long term solution for us, but in the short and medium term we hope to offer them more while we work towards transforming SFPC’s financial model.

How can I help others to attend SFPC?

For SFPC to be the kind of place the community has always meant it to be, it needs to become a platform for wealth redistribution. If you are a former participant, prospective participant, or friend of the school, and you have the financial privilege to do so, please donate generously. There is enough wealth in this community to make sure no one is ever rejected because of their inability to pay, and becoming that school will make SFPC the impactful, imaginative, transformative center of poetry and justice that we know it can be.

What if I can’t go, can I get a refund?

  • Yes, we can give you 100% refund up to 10 days before class starts
  • 50% refund after 10 days, until the first day of the class
  • No refunds can be given after the first day of the class

Interested in more learning opportunities at the School for Poetic Computation? Join our newsletter to stay up to date on future sessions and events, and follow us on Instagram and Twitter. Support our programming through scholarships. Get in touch over email.