Posts Tagged ‘NASA’


Since I was allowed to stay up late on Tuesday nights as a little gapher to watch the re-runs on CBC, Star Trek has been a part of my life. The stories, the social commentary, the inclusivity, the knowing of a better future to come. Watching as the technology I have seen on the screen has slowly and then rapidly become a reality. Think of what our Smart Phones (even flip phones) are like communicators, and sometimes tri-corders (and the body scans we can do now, like their med-beds), during C-tine, our video calls I do feel like asking for hailing frequencies to be open on screen. As each new era of the first book of my life emerged, readers know certain stores have resonated from the original, to the Next Generation to Deep Space Nine (DS9) to Enterprise to Voyager, enjoying Discovery, Picard and Lower Decks (looking forward to Prodigy and Strange New Worlds). Yet it is the underlying theme of all belonging, and freely being able to pursue one’s passion as purpose that resonate at the core of the storylines.

Which is why, as this section moves towards a close, this Reading Week as an instructor has been intriguing for what has come into my feeds. Clicked on Crave to watch the next episode of Season 3 of Discovery, and there was a documentary “Woman in Motion” about Nichelle Nicholls (who originated the character of Uhura) and her work with NASA.

I encourage viewing for everyone, but I also encourage discussion and dreming after viewing. The documentary shares the story of Ms. Nicholls, whose Dad never believed in the word, can’t. She shared of being a teenager, and singer with Count Bassie’s orchestra. How the lead singer, a sultry siren, was no longer there, and she got the nod to take the lead imitating her predecessor during the set. At the end, Bassie came to her, and bluntly asked what she was doing? As well, to knock it off, she had actual talent, so sing. Could you imagine the same advice being given to a young woman in the music industry today?

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The story of her beginning to work with Rodenberry with a role on one episode of his show, “The Lieutenant” around racism, that was so controversial it has never aired. What began that day though was a friendship of deep discussions on importnat issues of justice. Rodenberry promising he would have something for her. What was that? In a show idea known as “Wagon Train to the Stars” that would become Star Trek. The character? One Ms. Nicholls would help name, Uhura, and create. For the command crew of the Enterprise, represented the mosaic of humanity plus a Vulcan. Though during the first season she would see her role continue to shrink to a simple catch phrase “hailing frequencies open” to the point of resigning. It was during this time, at an event, a fan wanted to meet her. She was tired, and did not want to, but the hosts kept pushing, The Fan- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the message, you can’t resign. The retort, who are you to tell me how to run my career. The rationale by Dr. King, it is the only show he allows his children to watch, that he makes time to watch with his children. She stayed, an African American Lieutenant, the commander of communications.

The story shifts to the convention era, where she met a person from NASA, as they were moving from the Apollo era to the shuttle era, and Ms. Nicholls, once again challenged the norm, for she pointed out she could not see herself in the astronauts. A visit to NASA revealed the rainbow that made space flight possible, but the actual astronauts had a selection bias, and there was 4 months left to go in recruiting for the program…and Ms. Nicholls was hired, one caveat, she did not want to be a mascot. She took in astronaut training so she knew what she spoke about, she also did not have NASA folks with her when she went on her recruiting talks, filmed her PSA’s for television and radio. 4 month, criss crossing the country, receiving threats of harm when she spoke out, challenging the military recruiting process, as she recruited civilians (and those in the military overlooked) to thousands of applicants to the first 35, adn the friendships she cultivated in there to the Challenger in 1986…\

But her message was simple, she saw something that wasn’t right, and wanted to make it right.

An underpinning of Star Trek, in spite of the Prime Directive. Striving for IDIC (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations), a true courageous space for inclusivity. To move beyond the societal “isms” that were explored in Star Trek Deep Space Nine episode “Beyond the Stars” where Sisko, is back in time as a writer in the 1900s:

Sisko was the writer Benny Russell, who the readers believed was white. The world was very much polarized by colour, at least in the powerful money hands. This is the world that the bridge of Uhura challenged. This is the world that Star Trek in its IDIC continues to challenge, while cultivating critical and ethical thought processes.The shared extended metaphor of Bajoran-Cardassians, in the age of Reconciliaiont, of Settlers-Indigenous. And inspiring folks to discover their passions and pursue them. This is how I shaped the episodes and movies to be used in my teaching with youth and young adults, from exploration nights in youth groups, youth centres, young adult studies, discussion nights, oh and one fun confirmation cycle. It was a pleasure on Friday February 19, 2021 during a video conference out of Costa Rica linking the world (very Trekkie) to be able to thank one of the actors, who states she is a storyteller, Nana Visitor (played Major Kira Nerys in DS9) for the stories that inspired and have been used to inspire so many.

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A friend and former colleauge in journeying with those in life recovery and exiting homelessness to home, is now at home in Costa Rica cultivating his own passions around space exploration and community building as a teacher. This was a conference part of TEC. The exciting news that kicked off was Costa Rica adopting their own Space Agency (after a long history of working with NASA, and some excellent books co-authored by my friend, Bruce Callow). Their initiatives around education and STEM that has seen them in schools outside of Costa Rica (including Calgary), and having cameos with the books at the last Vul-Con before c-tine (and as rumours/bills from the Town Council of Vulcan the last focused event such as that).

We then shifted to an incredible and inspiring talk by our storyteller. Ms. Visitor shared about those great moments of entering The Flow. That is that moment when everything aligns, and it no longer feels like struggle or work, just going and what amazing things happen within a team when that moment is realized by a team. I have had the pleasure of experiencing those moments in my own writing and teaching, but also in community builidng and spiritual direction with the teams and communities we were a part of, an dyes it is powerful. The challenges thrown out that the way work is done needs to change, understanding work as a person with nothing outside the work is unhealthy and wrong. We need to cultivate a world that allows for healthy balance with work and life, and watch the miracles roll out, just think we have gotten this far with the broken system, how much farther could we go with an unbroken system?

Of course, there was talk of the power of representation within Star Trek, Ms. Visitor sharing when she first read the character of Kira, she thought it was a man, because rolls like that did not exist in the early 90’s for women. And when she found out it wasn’t, she wanted it. She shared on her Women of Trek project, interviewing the actresses who have played the powerful roles. The hope of Ms. Nicholls health holding so after c-tine she will be able to interview her in person for the book/documentary. This was one of the greatest moments, as there was the allusion that inclusivity also involves mental health and disabilities for pursuit of passions. As the character of Tilly in Discovery was brought up, for she is brilliant, yet can be crippled by anxiety, and she is important to show, that we can still be who we are in experiencing the world, and chase our passions.

Which leads us into a reflection for this first weekend of Lent,

If inclusivity was the norm

If you could live your dreams/passions

Who would you be?

*Guess what– that’s who Creator made you to be.

For more on Nana Visitor, read Bruce Callow’s article here.

My Facebook message after the event:


SETIcon II logo

Hello SETI Institute Fans and Supporters –

The SETIcon II Event Team is happy to inform you of the National Space Society‘s upcoming International Space Development Conference (ISDC) that will take place at the Grand Hyatt Washington from May 24-28.

ISDC is the National Space Society’s annual conference and covers several broad areas of study related to building a spacefaring civilization.
party
Session tracks include:
CisLunar EconoSphere
Commercial Space and Spaceports
Education and Outreach
Export Control and ITAR
International Space Sustainability
Mars
Space Investment Summit
Space Solar Power
and more.

You won’t want to miss these exciting industry leaders schedule to speak:
NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden
NASA Deputy Administrator Lori B. Garver
XCOR Aerospace CEO and Co-Founder Jeff E. Greason
Space Entrepreneur and Co-Founder/Co-Chairman of Planetary Resources Eric Anderson
Sierra Nevada Space Systems’ Chairman and Executive VP Mark Sirangelo
Commercial Spaceflight Federation President Michael Lopez-Alegria
EarthLight Institute Founder Rick Tumlinson

In addition to the conference tracks, a 25th Anniversary Governor’s Dinner & Gala will be held on Friday, May 25th from 7:00-11:00pm at the National Air and Space Museum.  It will honor two of America’s best-loved space heroes – Senator John Glenn and Commander Scott Carpenter!  Master of Ceremonies is the long-time American broadcaster Hugh Downs.  Sounds like a fabulous event!

For more information on full programming, the gala, or to register please visit: www.isdc.nss.org/2012

Sincerely,
The SETIcon II Event Team

P.S. – We also look forward to seeing you at SETIcon II June 22-24 at the Hyatt Santa Clara
For more information on SETIcon IIwww.seticon.com
To purchase tickets: www.teamseti.org/seticon2/tickets/
Questions?: seticon@seti.org


Beneath the Planet of the Apes is the sequal to the original Planet of the Apes (movie 2 of 5). The beauty of the original series of Apes movies is that they are a breathing social commentary of their times.

From the ranking of Ape society: Chimpanzees are scientists; Gorillas are militants (ala Communism/Nazism); and Orangutangs are politicians (Ahhh King Louie from the Jungle Book would be proud). So subtle commentary there. But it goes deeper, for those that follow they know the humans that have survived the plague/war are silent.

Racial commentaries during the civil rights marches, for Canada aboriginal rights, and reflecting on the holocaust through the Gorillas words “The only good human is a dead human”.

Taylor (Charlton Heston) vanishes through a holographic wall and Nova his “mate” flees back to run into another astronaut (NASA at this time must have been running quite the deficit), Brent who discovers Ape City, and they make their escape to underneath the Forbidden Zone they discover an advanced human species (telepathic ala Star Trek’s The Cage). But there is more than meets the eye, for the human “skins” are their garb hiding the deformity of nuclear fall out.  Not only this but they worship within a “Christian” context shaped by the Atomic Bomb.  It is the Bomb that came to change the world through Holy Fallout. They have hymns that have been changed from traditional hymnals to the worship of the doomsday device.

A rather estute commentary upon the role religion is used in war, and how the name of God is abused for unholy ends.  It casts the two astronauts and Nova in a race against time to stop the “Second Coming” by the Holy Humans launching the bomb for their own rapture of the select.

Hmmm…  Wonder if anyone else sees connections to todays world?