Inspirefest – A tech conference with a difference.

 

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I came across this unusual conference quite by accident on a friend’s Twitter feed last year. My biggest problem has always been the fact that I want to do everything, learn how to work anything, especially anything techy. Well my prayers were answered with this crowd. The conference programme covers everything from soft robotics and medicine, to filmmaking, space & fashion, medical design, STEM education etc.

A vast range of entrepreneurs, creatives and tech companies gave diverse and interesting talks with no two covering the same ground. The key focus however was not the company’s bottom line from each presentation. It was inclusivity, diversity and innovation.

One person I’d been aware of for some time was Lian Bell, orchestrator extraordinaire of the Waking the Feminists movement which had seen worldwide support in the wake of out National Theatre’s failure to incorporate any of the diverse female theatre voices into its centenary programme. Lian rallied a powerful group of people to change this, and received support from across the world.

With a rich group of passionate speakers, largely women, diversity is a key tenet of this festival’s aims.

Particularly inspiring were some of the educational initiatives, role modelling and mentor networks this group of advocates are developing for young women in Ireland.

It opened my eyes to emerging tech concepts of which I was blissfully unaware such as Fintech, and others which I had vaguely heard of – Blockchain.

Vicki Saunders, founder of SheEo, a U.S. investment initiative for female entrepreneurs, financed by a group of 1000 women investors, particularly made me think. Ireland has a rich entrepreneurial tradition and a terrible history of women in key management areas of companies. For this reason, SheEo stuck out as something we seriously need more of in Ireland. I contacted Vicki after the conference, and now my task is to find the women in Ireland willing to support such an initiative.

This year’s Inspirefest takes place in Dublin July 6th and 7th featuring speakers Ana Matronic, Ellen Pao and Prof Jane Ohlmeyer.

Tickets at Inspirefest.ie

 

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Posted in Arts, Conference, Diversity, Documentary, Engineering, Festival, Hackers, Innovation, Inspirefest, Leaders, Makers, Medicine, Running a Company, Space, Tech, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Last chance to become an astronaut

The Canadian Space Agency is looking for new astronaut candidates and this is the last weekend to apply.

If you’re an adventurous sort who has always dreamt of a life amongst the stars, this is the job for you.

You don’t even have to be a Canadian citizen, those living in Canada can also apply.

astronaut

You’ll have to be fit as a fiddle as well as academically inclined, as they want an engineering/science degree or a doctorate in medicine or dentistry.

Add to that strict physical conditions and personality requirements and it’s a tall order for most people…if you feel like you’re up to the challenge apply at:

Canadian Space Agency

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Butterfly City

Old friends are best.

This year, my former documentary home, Planet Korda Pictures, is finishing its latest film project, Butterfly City. Like many Irish film projects, they have a small financial gap at the end of completing the film. If you have a spare tenner and want to help a hardy crew of filmmakers complete their dream project, the trailer and Indiegogo page are below.

In a purpose-built Lithuanian city, the Soviet-era nuclear power plant is shutting down. At a moment of economic turbulence and political tension, the Russian-speaking residents face an uncertain future. BUTTERFLY CITY is a documentary film about cultural identity, social inclusion, democracy, and freedom of expression. This project is almost fully financed. We seek contributions to help us bridge the final gap.

Indiegogo page

Butterfly City Film

Planet Korda Pictures

 

 

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Brexit…the hangover from hell?

With all the fear and recriminations following Britain’s vote to leave the E.U., the path for all of us going forward is getting less and less clear.

It’s important that we all remember the principles on which the European Union was founded and do our best to preserve them for future generations. Let’s use this opportunity for reform, and work together. I wrote a short letter to The Irish Times to this effect because I feel like we can beat this doom and gloom together, but not apart.

Irish Times article link

IT letter 28th June

 

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Dublin, Georgia…only 3,924 miles from home

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When we saw Dublin written on the Georgia map and only a short detour from our main trip route we had to check it out. I’m not sure what we were expecting but it was certainly worth a look.

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There were signs of Irishness everywhere, shamrocks painted on the street, on businesses, St. Patrick’s festival ads everywhere. On our way into town, it seemed a very quiet, isolated place but the city centre was busy and we discovered a huge amount of activity on the other side of the city. For Europeans used to a centralized city centre, American cities can be a bit of a shock…suburbs sprawling for miles and sometimes no clear central area.

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We wandered accidentally into a fantastic restaurant, a newly opened Company Supply – Southern hospitality meets Irish roots, and serious chats were had with the local Dubs who were surprised that we had made the trip to rural Georgia. I had my first sweet potato cheesecake which, though strange, was one of the best desserts I’ve ever eaten.

companysupplyga.com

Only serious failing it has is there’s no pub in town. The Irish Dublin could never survive like that…

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The start of a 5000 mile journey…

Midnight in the garden and that bench…the start of our 5000 miles…

America is vast.

I realized that before getting here, but wow…5 hours of driving and yet the little blue dot stays stubbornly on a tiny piece of the very large map.

We started in Georgia a few days ago, the beautiful home of peaches, understated humidity and Savannah, my new favourite place.

It’s home to SCAD, the Savannah College of Art and Design whose influences reverberate quietly throughout the city. It’s obvious that many former students have set up their own businesses post graduation and the results are fantastic, with original design stores on nearly every block.

This place is chill, happy and comfortable with itself. The parks are numerous, full to bursting with willow trees, heavily laden with Spanish moss on which chattering squirrels race up and down.

We stayed at the Thunderbird Inn, a funny little spot with retro tunes blaring all day, a doughnut breakfast and free popcorn and lemonade in the afternoons.

thethunderbirdinn.com

Thunderbird Inn

If I end up retiring in the U.S. it’s got to be Savannah…we came across a horde of pensioners having the absolute craic (in a very civilized, southern way) in one of the smaller central park squares…wine, cheese and their own musicians. As you do…

We wandered through many of the parks but didn’t find Mr. Gump’s bench…next trip we’ll bring chocolates.

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We finished our stay with dinner and a movie at The Florence, a grown up eatery in an up and coming area. Thunderball, vintage Sean Connery, was a hoot, if only for its stark reminders of the creeping sexism of the not so distant past. We loved the converted industrial building and wanted to hug the staff, but the food was a bit overcomplicated. theflorencesavannah.com

Mint julep anyone? Also to-go cups are a thing here, even in taxis…what’s not to love?

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5000 miles, 4 weeks, 2 Irish loons…

For our honeymoon, David (my husband) and myself have planned a 5000 mile, 4 week trip coast to coast across the U.S. In our sturdy rental car, Matilda, and with varying quality GPS signal we plan to trek through desert, wilderness and just regular Americana to see:IMG_20160502_154644600

  • Atlanta
  • Savannah
  • Dublin
  • Montgomery
  • Nashville
  • Memphis
  • Jackson
  • New Orleans
  • Houston
  • Austin
  • Odessa
  • Roswell
  • Alamogordo
  • Tucson
  • Phoenix
  • Grand Canyon
  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles

 

Mad? Maybe…I just got tired typing that list.

 

 

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