Every year the Native American community finds its way to the heart of Startup Land for a Pow-wow. No, I’m not talking about some big corporate meeting, I’m literally talking about a pow-wow where people gather to dance, sing, socialize and honor Native American Indian culture. This past weekend was the 41st Pow-wow held in the Eucalyptus grove on Stanford University’s Campus. The Pow-wow begins with a “Grand Entry” procession where ceremonial dancers march into an arena. Over the course of the evening, multiple rounds of traditional dancing will take place and the dancers will also be judged as part of a formal dance competition. Not only can attendees enjoy the elaborate Native American regalia, but also beautiful drum music and vendors selling traditional crafts, jewelry, food and art. And all of this underneath the stars and Eucalyptus trees.
Startup Land is sometimes described as a place where creative energy and entreprenurial ideas collide. After all, that’s why it’s home to thousands of startup companies trying to change the world in some way, shape or form. But have you ever wondered where all that creative energy goes when everyone is not getting down to business?
Well, this weekend I decided to find out by attending the How Weird Street Faire 2012 where thousands of people dress up in outlandish outfits, party like rock stars and dance the day away on the streets of downtown San Francisco. How weird is How Weird? The answer is: “pretty weird”, but also pretty cool at the same time.
The party occupies a full four blocks of downtown San Francisco (literally fenced off) and is filled with twelve music stages featuring live performances and DJ’s spinning dance beats for packed crowds. The music may have been great, but the main attraction were the avatars, outfits and personalities of the How Weird attendees themselves. Just click on the photos below to see what I mean.
One of the things that makes Startup Land unique is its ability to continually create the latest new thing. In fact, you are bombarded with so many new things that it’s easy to forget about the old clunker that got you where you are today. That’s why this weekend I took in some mechanical history at the Dream Machines Festival in Half Moon Bay. The festival is filled with driving, flying and working machines dating back to the turn of the century. There was even a decommissioned Nike Missile from one of the many launch sites that surrounded most American cities up until the 1970’s.
After spending an hour or two at this festival you are guaranteed to feel the need… the need for speed.
Robotics is all about serious research and hard core tech, right? Well, you might change your mind after watching a robot dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. That’s exactly what happened to me at this year’s Robot Block Party.
Held at Stanford’s Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Lab (which is home to research on autonomous vehicles), the event was part of National Robotics Week and featured the latest in commercial robotics from companies like Bosch, Adept, Willow Garage, SRI, and others.
The big robots were impressive, but what was really cool about this event was some of the “DIY” robotics and robot art made by the Homebrew Robotics Club as well as various roboticists and student’s participating in the FIRST Robot Competitions. It’s amazing to see what kind of robots you can build in your garage using off-the-shelf parts. Didn’t Apple Computer get started this way??
It’s sometimes easy to forget about the seasons here in Startup Land because we only have two: nice and rainy. Luckily, this year I had a new fun way to remember that it’s Spring: Holi!
Holi, also known as the Festival of Colours, is a religious spring festival celebrated by Hindus all over of the world. The festival marks the end of winter and a return to the colors of spring. As such, participants celebrate by dancing, singing and adorning everything (and everyone) with bright colored powders. Asha for Education held Holi at Standford University this past weekend where more than 10,000 people gathered for two days of performances, celebration and, of course, color throwing.
I’m still washing all of the color out of the camera, but am happy to report that a good time was had by all. I took far too many photos to feature them all on one page so below is just a short set of favorites. You can see the rest of the photos over on this page.
I went to block parties all the time while growing up in New York. A neighborhood would petition the city to block off the street, then invite everyone they knew to bring lots of food and fun. It’s a tried and true formula used by community-minded neighbors all over the country.
So what happens when you hold a block party in the middle of Silicon Valley? The formula is not much different, except that you and your kids might learn to solder metal or hack some code rather than face painting or bobbing for apples.
This past Sunday, the City of Palo Alto along with four other organizations – Innovation Endeavors, Talenthouse, Super Happy Dev House and Institute for the Future – held the first inaugural Super Happy Block Party as a way to bring the technology and creative communities together for a unique one day event on High Street in downtown Palo Alto. Yes, there was food and balloons, but only in startup land would a block party also include a live hackathon, “silent disco” and even “VC Office Hours” where entrepreneurs could just walk up and pitch their idea to venture capitalists.
A unique event for a unique place. I’ll definitely be back next year.
Most people do not think of Silicon Valley as a battleground for human rights issues. That’s exactly what Access was hoping to change by organizing RightsCon— a conference that brought together Silicon Valley companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google with human rights advocates from around the world.
Technology companies are finding themselves at the forefront of complex human rights issues. Their services are increasingly being used by revolutionaries, protesters and human rights groups in nearly every country. Caught between trying to protect their users and complying with a growing number of mandates from local governments, Silicon Valley finds itself in a unique position wherein companies are inadvertently shaping global human rights policy.
Rest in peace Steve Jobs. You will be missed.