Show map and go sideways

Michka Meló

Hello! My name is Michka. I grew up in France, in a small village at the foot of the Jura mountains, where I really enjoyed spending time outside and playing imagination games, often with my little sister, Adeline.

After high school, I studied bioengineering. This was instructive, but also disturbing, particularly when I realised the magnitude of the environmental and social issues we face, and the responsibility of technology and engineering in addressing these issues.

Luckily, I met FoAM roughly at the same time (in 2012), and was warmly welcomed into this inspiring kinship of creative 'misfits'. I followed their footsteps along the routes represented in the Anarchive.

After ten years of travel, I would be happy to guide you through these routes, showing you some spots, and sharing some experiences from my own journey. Perhaps this will inspire you to travel these same routes yourself? Let's go!

Take your pack and go outside. Practice climbing trees, rowing on the lake, hiking, cycling for days, hitch-hiking, and sleeping outdoors.

These activities can allow you to differently inhabit your body, and build trust in its capacities. They can reinforce your sensorial connection with your (non-)human neighbours. They could also help you develop critical skills to prepare for uncertain futures, such as navigating an unknown environment, or finding a place in which you feel safe enough to sleep.

Practicing embodiment can help us be more present with what we experience, rather than extracting and consuming more and more. Furthermore, in an energy-scarce future, with the potential disruption of industrial production, we might come to rely more on our body and mind than we are used to. A healthy relationship and stronger connection to our mind and body can help us face the uncertainties ahead.

You can set up some reclaimed packaging containers on your windowsill, fill them with soil (or homemade compost), and plant seeds recovered from the inedible parts of your vegetables. It may be satisfying to see waste flourish into beautiful plants. This garbage garden might even provide you with some edible bites.

In a less biodiverse future, we might find ourselves increasingly sensitive to the presence of other living entities in our environment. Learning how to grow a lush community of living beings around us could be critical.

Living beings are capable of amazing things. Exploring how we can rely on living companions rather than machines can help us thrive in a resource-scarce future, while making it more pleasant to inhabit, living together with many different forms of life.

There is a wet lab corner of the workshop, where you can act together with living entities. You might want to cultivate Kluyveromyces marxianus, a yeast growing materials with electronic properties, allowing you to make a temperature sensor without using rare polluting metallic semiconductors.

You might also want to plug some electrodes into mud, to power a very slow sloth robot, which demonstrates how abundant but overlooked materials, such as mud, can produce (very) small amounts of precious electricity.

Or you may want to sit with a designer friend of yours in the workshop's office, and design an energy-saving kettle (kettle.png) drawing inspiration from the polar bear, toucan, termite, and nautilus.

Teaming up with non-humans, these are just three ways to realise a technological imaginary better suited to potential resource-scarce futures.

Invite a bunch of curious minds to join you in the workshop wet lab, where a diversity of waste material and a bucket of fresh mud is waiting to be turned into microbial fuel cells, capable of producing electricity. After a short introduction, they can inspire each other to invent boldly innovative designs.

In the garden, they can learn to assess the quality of urban soil before growing food.

They might also want to discuss potential synergies between the garden and the workshop, for instance, by using the garden to produce raw material for the workshop, or using the workshop to make tools adapted to the garden.

In the common room, they can explore the library and the internet for information about how living organisms work. This might inspire them to design new objects and devise strategies contributing to the ecological transition.

Today's dominant technological imaginaries are shaped around a small community of like-minded technology specialists. Opening technological development to a more diverse group can help adapt technologies to a wider range of needs and worldviews. In the face of uncertainty, spreading the ability to contribute to technological invention can improve our collective resilience.

After decades of intensive overproduction, waste is likely to be an abundant resource in the future. Learning how to process and transform this waste into useful things might be critical, particularly when some raw materials (for example mineral ores and fossil fuels) become harder to find.

The workshop also has a hacking corner.

There, you might want to (safely) disassemble used computer batteries and reassemble some of their components in supercapacitors, to store, for example, the energy generated by your mud batteries.

You could salvage a working motor from a dead printer, and turn it into a hand-powered dynamo.

These experiences can help you cultivate your scavenging and tinkering skills, opening up the field of possibilities for resource-scarce and waste-full futures.

Enter the dojo. Its large windows open onto a quiet garden. Light and silence offer a perfect space to tend to something you might otherwise overlook: the health of your mind and body.

In this dojo, you may want to practice aïkido, one of the softest ways (though sometimes still too hard) to train your assertiveness and fighting spirit. Sitting in the quiet corner, you might want to meditate.

Or have a coaching session to explore your blindspots and empower you further in your explorations. The dojo is an invitation to produce less, and take time to experience more, for example, by working part-time.

Take a seat at the big table in the common room. Open the crafts cupboard, full of pens, paper, and various tools. Switch on the computer. Gather a bunch of creative minds around the table. Help them to explore a particular scientific phenomenon they'd always been curious about, and invite them to write, draw, or create something about it.

This is a great way to help people reconnect with non-humans they actively care about, and see how science can fuel our imaginaries, our sense of wonder, and the desire to care for entities around us.

Today, discussions of creativity in engineering are often limited to specific forms and practices. Regular collaboration with artists and designers can help change perspectives, and explore unfamiliar terrain.

You can also use the big table of the common room to prepare for the future, by playing tabletop games with a group of people willing to develop specific skills in a safe setting. One such game might, for example, encourage you to interact with non-humans in a non-extractive manner.

Alternatively, you might invite a group of science-inspired artists to redesign their work to make it future-proof over the longer term: which energy sources, materials, and operations could allow the artwork to fulfil such a demanding brief?

Take a seat at the workshop's quiet office corner, and reflect on your recent readings, discussions, and encounters. Documenting your thoughts can (hopefully) support like-minded people in their own thinking and explorations.

Creatively exploring new ways to sustain our livelihood is not just a way of preparing for more economically turbulent futures, but can also help us spend more time on the things we really care about today.

There is a clear deficit of democracy, political thinking, and imagination around technological matters. Holding space to discuss (and practice) possible responses to these issues might help foster more diverse and convivial technologies.

The common room table can also be a space for your efforts to channel individual energies into collective efforts. You may want to gather as a group of entrepreneurs, to boost your collective resilience, launch more ambitious projects, mutualise some services, or simply take inspiration from each other.

You might convene a diverse group of people to explore the future using scenario planning methods.

Our capacity for collaboration and building robust collectives is a critical skill for future preparedness.

The common room is a great place for discussion, debate, and collective creation. There, you might gather a bunch of engineers to discuss which technological imaginaries can best face climatically-troubled, resource-scarce, and less biodiverse futures.

Workshops, discussions, creative space, and idle time with the right people and inspirations can lead you to the unexplored side-tracks of engineering for sustainability.

Let's build a convivial space to discuss convivial technologies!