Posts Tagged ‘Space’


An Interview with Bruce Callow

On Feb. 24, 2022 what was rumbling for many months became a reality, as Putin led Russia invaded the Ukraine. Many of those in Alberta, and Canada (a country with the third largest population of Ukrainians) could carry the empathy, of those being conscripted to invade (as many in Russia are also Ukrainian). What began was a stand off of people fighting back for their own country, and now infamous line of President Zelensky of Ukraine, I need arms not a ride (a loose paraphrase). In the midst though, is yet the creation by aggression of another humanitarian crisis, currently at roughly 5 million refugees seeking resettlement in lands to become new homes.

One guidepost on the journey is the Centrum Expo Refugee Center, and Warsaw; where many have gathered to support the holistic needs of those seeking safety, connection and new places of belonging. I have the privilege of knowing one of those that answered the call. Bruce Callow, a community builder, educator, and musician most recently known for his work in STEM and Space in Costa Rica, the use of sports to inspire, and from my own journey, a community builder within affordable housing for those exiting the trauma of homelessness.  What follows is some of his own thoughts, and answers on the experience, and what we can still do in response to the question of who is my neighbour?

Ty: How long were you in Poland?

Bruce:  I was in Poland for almost a month.

Ty: What led you to give of yourself?
Bruce: I saw in the news what was going on in Ukraine and felt compelled to contribute something on a personal level. I felt a strong calling to bear witness, to see things firsthand and to try to support Ukrainians in some small way. I did some research on the kinds of actions that were going on to support refugees in Poland and I felt I could complement these efforts. The attack on Ukraine felt like an attack on my own people. Ukrainian culture was always close to us growing up in Edmonton so no doubt that childhood imprinting had some impact on my decision to take personal action.

Ty: We can focus on many aspects of human crisis and pain, what were some moments of joy in the darkness?

Bruce: There were many moments of joy and laughter. Distributing NASA pins and stickers while casually interacting with people at the railway transit centers proved to be an effective way to generate smiles, both amongst children and adults. The somewhat odd idea of talking about NASA and space in the midst of all that chaos was not something I was sure would work at all. But the 900 NASA stickers and 200 NASA pins as well as other souvenirs donated by the Canadian Embassies in Costa Rica and Warsaw were gratefully and happily received.  These train station transit centers are very raw and intense places where the refugees have just arrived after their harrowing journeys from Ukraine. But in brief conversations and nonverbal interactions you could connect with people and by doing so help reassure them that they’re in a safe place and there are people from other countries that care about what they’re going through.  Through one of these brief interactions, I was able to meet a lady and her daughter with whom I introduced to a host family in Toronto, Canada. It’s a very humbling experience to see how a random intersection of lives can lead to such things.

I had the opportunity to give classes about outer space in more settled environments at permanent refugee centers as well as in private schools that created extension programs for Ukrainians refugee kids. They were extremely fun, and the kids and I enjoyed the banter between English and Ukrainian as we discussed the planets and other space concepts. It’s fortunate that most of the names of the planets are very similar in Ukrainian to English, not to mention the layers of Earth’s atmosphere.

The music jam sessions I hosted  were amongst the most meaningful experiences I had and had the opportunity to get to speak with a number of Ukrainians and volunteers through that medium. The young Polish soldiers I met at the refugee centers also  enjoyed the music but they had to keep a low profile about it as they were on duty.  I am still in contact with a number of people I jammed with.

Ty: Is there any story or stories that you want to ensure are shared?

Bruce:  In the Torwar Arena I had the opportunity to meet the most amazing gentleman named George who accompanied me on the piano as we performed and sang Hallelujah.  That song proved to be a favorite on many occasions and I remember once a group of four or five women were singing along with me. After we jammed, George and  had lunch together and he told me in detail the experience of his city being under attack and having to escape. He Is a medical student specializing in psychiatry. George  expressed gratitude for all the support Ukraine is receiving but at the same time he wishes that they didn’t have to receive all of this support. Ukrainians are hard-working and self reliant people and they’re not used to being in such a situation.  This was an attitude I saw reflected; Ukrainians want to take care of things on their own but it’s just not possible for them to do it under these circumstances.

“My Star Trek medical tricorder proved to be a huge hit”  

-Bruce Callo

Ty: I noticed in some of your sharing on your social media around music, what are your recollections? Favourite songs?

Bruce:  One young lady named Kari was particularly keen on Nirvana and Coldplay and we did some pretty good renditions. 

Ty: There was a story you had shared about space and the kids at the centre, can you re-share now please?
Bruce: The story was shared well, here: Santaneño traveled to Poland to help Ukrainians (santaanahoy.wixsite.com)

Ty: We both have worked in the homeless serving sector, and know, that we can learn as much from those we serve as they can from us or others; what are some key learnings you have from those you met?

Bruce:  I think one thing I reflected on was what’s happening to Ukrainians could happen to any country. It made me wonder how Canadians would react under a similar situation. One day you’re living your life normally, studying, eating lunch in a restaurant or whatever and then suddenly your world has turned completely upside down. I saw people studying for exams and working remotely from Railway transit centers and refugee centers. Trying to keep the threads of their life together. I remember back in 2013 when we worked at the Calgary Drop In Centre we assisted with the evacuation of the entire  population to a hotel where everyone slept in the ballroom area.  What I saw at the Centrum Expo with over 2500 people camped out, it kind of overwhelmed me.  But with the music, and quiet conversation you can break this mass of  humanity down into individual parts.

“the gentleman you see in this video is Pavel, he was a neighbor of mine where I stayed in Warsaw and he kindly matched all of the money I brought with me to buy emergency supplies so the total came to about US$800.”

Bruce Callow

Ty: Is there anything else that you would like to share about your experience?

Bruce: There were quite a few levels to this experience, and I think I’m still processing a lot of it. But I can say it was an amazing experience to get to meet some extremely brave people who are going through something they should never have had to suffer through. I made a lot of friends over there including fellow volunteers and people who are coordinating the opening of even more refugee centers.  I’m looking forward to supporting this network and to continue to help Ukraine as much as I can.

I want to thank the many people who helped make my program in Warsaw come to life, there were so many good Samaritans. Among these people are Mirela, Pavel, Magda, Magda ( Star Wars), Maria and Bart and Anna.

Ty: I want to thank you, Bruce while you were in Poland reaching out with some stories of folks to aid in resettling in Canada. As well, as the success, of them finding a sanctuary space for a new home. What are other ways that we can help?

Bruce: I invite readers to contact Roman Lakhnyuk at the email below. Roman is from Edmonton and is Ukrainian and I met him coordinating operations at the Central railway station. Photo attached. He is wearing the baseball hat.

Through Roman donors can contribute to purchasing urgent food needs to supply the food tent at the railway transit station or they can contribute to purchasing flights for refugees to get to Canada.

roman.lakhnyuk@gmail.com

I snapped that photo of Roman in a brief 10 minute visit I made to the control center at the railway station and he showed me photos today of the lady and child in that photo on their way to the UK. He saw through that entire process – Bruce Callow

As happens with life experiences, there are many ways that things come to a close, for someone who is at heart, a fan of stories of science fiction and hope in all forms they come in (including both a Trekkie and Star Wars), nothing is a better end for a chapter of this story than what Bruce shared on his Facebook:

Thank you, Bruce, it is always inspiring to see ways you continue to help. 

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*Images and videos from Bruce Callow’s time in Poland are from his collection, below are a few other videos:

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On June 25, 2021 TEC Seminars out of Costa Rica will be celebrating the life of Judith Love Cohen, here are the details from my friend, Bruce, one of the organizers:

Please join us for a very special webinar.Aerospace Family Legacy: Remembering Judith Love CohenOur special guest speaker will be Judith’s son Neil Gilbert Siegal( IBM Professor of Engineering Management, University of Southern California).Friday June 25, 6pm Costa Rica / Mountain time.

Register here:https://itcr.zoom.us/…/register/WN_tXROzIejQMadDGhnbvsEUA

I have attended several of these conferences of learning and discovery, they are always excellent, and you leave having learned something new, join us for a night of celebration of one who lived their dreams and be inspired to live into your own.


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.

May be an image of 1 person and text that says "TeC ”R Rica Tecnológico de Nana Visitor Friday February 19, 2021, 6pm Costa Rica AORNN SPACE"

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