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Glendon Mellow
Attended York University
Lived in Toronto
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In this post, +Zuleyka Zevallos frames +DN Lee 's recent tweets on the problem of colonial attitudes in space, with a mention of my tangential tweets questioning the effect the First Artist and First Architect on Mars will have on how future generations interpret their own culture.
   #sciart   #mars   #diversity   #science  
 
Rethinking the Narrative of Mars "Colonisation"
Biologist Dr +DN Lee has been doing an amazing job educating on how enthusiastic narratives of "colonising" Mars are problematic. On her Twitter, Lee notes that the dominant ways of talking about colonisation add to the marginalisation of under-represented minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). If we want to make science more inclusive, we need to better understand how the stories we tell about STEM may exclude and damage under-represented groups we are trying to support.

Not Just Semantics 
Lee notes that talking about Mars in terms of colonisation is not simply an issue of semantics - for example using "settlement" instead of colonising. Rather, media narratives unquestioningly champion rich White men's ideas about what Mars travel should mean: "we don't have to be stuck on Earth!" The narrative is being framed around "saving" humanity. (See a Storify of Lee's discussion for further context http://goo.gl/Ugg527

Lee asks: saving from what, whom, and why? And in this re-imagining of humanity's salvation, who is left behind? Who does the dangerous, under-paid work of building new colonised spaces? In short, what have we learned from history about colonisation? It is rooted in exploitation and inequality. On Twitter, Lee writes:

"When I hear scientists discuss "for the good of humanity" I check who is talking and if they listen to "others." History AND Contemporary events have demonstrated how often people will exploit and harm 'others' when diverse ppl cant inform policy... If Mars will be better place (where the wealthy are clamoring to) & earth is the place to be "stuck", then WHO is stuck & w/ what resources... In human history there's a profound diff in exploration, recon, even trading with other peoples vs Imperialism, conquering & colonization...Thing is, when Some of us hear Colonization, Enterprise Expansion, New wealth acquisition, we have a VERY different Movie trailer playing"

Lee is clear that space exploration is not the problem; she is questioning the context of talking about Mars as a place to colonise, as a way to escape problems on Earth, which have arisen as a result of colonial practices in the first place.

White Male Privilege in STEM Narratives
Lee demonstrates that White male entrepreneurs encourage the public to give up on our responsibilities on Earth, both environmentally and socially. They do so in ways that mirror the colonisation of Indigenous cultures.

Lee shows that this Mars narrative is exclusionary. The reaction to her discussion amplifies this exclusion.

White male space enthusiasts have been arguing back at Lee on Twitter, saying that Mars represents an opportunity to start over; to get social justice right. They tell her that if she continues to be "negative," she will miss out on the opportunity to engage with the future of space science, because the public will turn off her. One White man even said to Lee the equivalent of: We need women like you on Mars to procreate! (As if women's special place in this brave new world is solely to reproduce, rather than her scientific practice and the leadership she is demonstrating.)

Former NASA engineer Homer Hickam was one of the men who dismissed Lee's conversation as "silly." Hickam is someone Lee says she looked up to (Hickam's life story inspired the movie October Sky starring Jake Gyllenhaal). She tried to engage him in a discussion about why the points of view of people of colour (POC) matter. She discussed colonialism and White male privilege. For example, his views as a White man dominate STEM, but her views as woman of colour are dismissed.

Hickam responded that he is proud that his ancestors had social privilege because that means they were successful and earned their place in colonised spaces (!). He even evoked a long-lost Native American ancestor to justify his racist comments. Hickam derided Lee's concerns as a fellow scientist because she is a woman of colour. He then blocked her, effectively shutting down the conversation about inclusion. As a senior figure in STEM with greater social power, Hickam proves Lee's argument, that only White men's views are allowed respect in STEM.

Lee notes that if we can't get the conversation about diversity and inclusion right, here and now - then how can we ever hope to restart afresh elsewhere?

Why Understanding Colonialism Matters in STEM
Exploration can happen in many ways, and these do not necessarily have to involve exploitation, enslavement, dispossession, rape, genocide, removal of children from their communities, being forced into missionary settlements, forced to convert religion and violently made to assimilate. Colonialism only happens through violence - including all the methods mentioned, which have happened to Indigenous groups around the world. This colonial violence continues in the present day.

In Australia, our Indigenous population was the first to migrate out of Africa 75,000 years ago. Their population was decimated when Europeans arrived in Australia in 1788. The colonisers declared Australia "terra nullius" (uninhabited land). Indigenous Australians, like all other Indigenous groups, have suffered violence and inequalities ever since. In fact, right now, the Australian Government is forcing 150 Indigenous communities off their ancestral lands in Western Australia. This will make 12,000 Aboriginal people refugees in their own country (http://goo.gl/G8ebIA).

Why is this happening? Because the Government says living in these lands is not economically viable and wanting to live there is a "lifestyle choice" the Government does not support. More to the point, these communities are set up on land that is rich in natural resources. Other parts of Western Australia are just as remote, yet business and Government made them viable so mining towns could be set up.

So the point Lee makes about colonial narratives is valid and pressing: rich White men make decisions that adversely affect minorities. They talk about these decisions in ways that replicate historical violence, and in so doing, they compound inequalities happening on Earth. Lee is saying: why would Mars be any different if Indigenous and POC perspectives are being forced out of discussions and policy making?

Imagine you are a young Indigenous child intrigued about space. Indigenous groups, including in Australia, already have many sacred stories about the stars. What a great way to connect them with STEM! But now imagine they see these media stories, where White men conceive of space travel in colonial terms, while at the same time they are living through their communities being pushed off their lands. They also see only a few brave people of colour, like Lee, standing up to big-name White men in STEM, while they and other so-called "allies" are calling this Black scientist "silly."

We have so few Indigenous groups in STEM as it is; the numbers in astronomy can be counted in one hand when we look at gender breakdowns.* So why would these minorities want to join STEM if White scientists want to assert their right to ignore historical violence? STEM pushes out minorities in many ways; this is just one example.

Language is not benign. Language matters for diversity and inclusion, as do the ideas informing our choice of words, and the stories we choose to weave, and those we ignore. 

Making STEM Inclusive
Lee's Storify only covers the first day of comments; Lee has been fending off racist push-back for the past couple of days. I encourage you to go to Lee's Twitter feed to read how she further connects her argument to discussions about diversity in STEM. 

Lee's key point is on the importance of framing STEM stories in a more inclusive manner. It's not just words; it's the thinking behind it that also influences how we teach and learn science; it's how existing policies are maintained; it's how some voices continue to shout down Others. 

For an complementary perspective, see +Glendon Mellow's tweets, where he uses an art metaphor. The culture, training and perspective of the first artists sent to Mars will shape how the new world is designed. If that view is White, male and framed around colonialism, that will be reflected in the infrastructure. http://goo.gl/3DsxLN

The conversation I want to lead here is: how can we learn from Lee's arguments to make science more inclusive? How might we use this perspective in our teaching and advocacy? How can we use this to support diversity and inclusion? 

Happy to talk further on this - note that I don't allow abuse or derailment on my threads.

Notes
Lee's Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/DNLee5
Image via Lee: http://goo.gl/VbPdWo *I'll be publishing these data soon on the Women in Astronomy blog. #sociology   #socialscience   #stemeducation   #diversity   #stemwomen   #woc   #blackandstem   #indigenous  
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Discussion  - 
 
On the Symbiartic blog on Scientific American, we have been
thinking about new ways to engage people with SciArt, the cultural movement blending art+science.

So we created a SciArt Tweet Storm. So far, since yesterday there have been over 4,000 tweets and I'm seeing big spikes in views with the hashtag. Join in!

Here's the lowdown:
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/symbiartic/2015/03/01/sciart-tweet-storm/

Feel free to share these images with the link if you'd like!
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If you're involved in #sciart   and I have emailed you in the past, check your email and spam filter for an announcement from me within the last three days!

For everyone else, keep an eye on Symbiartic in a little over 12 hours from now! 
#rumbleonthehorizon
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Cant believe #sciart  is trending across social media; its ridiculous and utterly fabulous!
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Glendon Mellow

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Love this reel produced by the talented people here at INVIVO.
 
Our in-house medical animation & interactive #CLM  apps bring unforgettable experiences to pharma marketing : http://youtu.be/J-efcOrBU1U 
#pharmamktg   #digitalhealth   #mhealth   #hcsm   #pharmamarketing  
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Father Time Overcome by Hope, Love and Beauty
A few reflections of mine on the past year, accompanied by a painting by Simon Vouet. New post on Symbiartic Scientific American. http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/symbiartic/2014/12/31/father-time-simon-vouet
#arthistory   #sciart   #happynewyear2015   #painting  
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ageism!
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My latest look at how paint pigments intersect with art history, science and culture. 
#art   #painting   #arthistory   #science   #sciart   #fineart  
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Creating a Storm on Twitter - here's my brief look at how the SciArt Tweet Storm nudged the science communication needle and beat expectation.
  #sciart   #twittermarketing   #scicomm   #stemeducation   #art   #illustration  
From March 1-7 2015, the Symbiartic team asked artists engaged in science to do 3 simple things: tweet 3 pieces of science-related art a day retweet 5 more by other people use the #SciArt hashtag We called it the #SciArt Tweet Storm. The aim was to help artists forge new connections and be seen by editors, science communicators, researchers and journalists. We were hoping we would see 10,000 tweets in one week: we saw over 25,000.The response wa...
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On the Symbiartic blog on Scientific American, we have thinking about new ways to engage people with SciArt, the cultural movement blending art+science.

So we created a SciArt Tweet Storm.
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/symbiartic/2015/03/01/sciart-tweet-storm/

Head over to the #sciart hashtag on Twitter to see all of the myriad forms art can take when inspired by or in the service of science. Feel free to share these images with the link if you'd like!
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Glendon Mellow

commented on a post on Blogger.
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"For some conditions you’ll also see high-quality illustrations from licensed medical illustrators." 

Fantastic news. Will efforts be made to include proper artist attribution + link to the licensed medical art that will appear? 

This is potentially a great boon or unwelcome thorn for professional medical illustrators licensed by organizations such as the +AMI HQ, depending on the quality of image attribution.

#sciart  
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Awesome. Great to hear that Google is actually commissioning new content for this.
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Artistic Discipline for 2015: Knowledge Pupates. So does creativity. My 2014 was brimming with ideas smothered in exhaustion. Looking forward to giving those creative ideas a workout in 2015.
New post on The Flying Trilobite:
http://www.glendonmellow.com/blog/2015goals #sciart #illustration #artrage #goals 
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Glendon Mellow
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Discussion  - 
 
Hey #sciart and #scicomm peeps,

There was a big shake-up announced on the Scientific American blog network today. 

Here are some details I can share. 
-Half of the blogs are being let go or leaving the network
-New guidelines for bloggers have been introduced: 
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/scientific-american-blog-network-guidelines/ -Remaining bloggers are seeing an increase in pay
-Remaining bloggers are receiving more editorial assistance if we ask
-Departing bloggers own their posts, (they can re-post them) and they will be archived on the SciAm site

It's a big change, and I was surprised and disappointed that some specific blogs are leaving.

If you follow Symbiartic by myself, Katie McKissick and Kapi Monoyios, the good news is we are staying. The SciArt world still has a home on the network and they are keeping all of us: the fine artist, the scientific illustrator and the cartoonist. We've been talking about some changes and experiments we'd like to do on Symbiartic, and we should have post up within the next couple of days talking some more about the future. 

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/symbiartic/

If anyone has any questions about this big re-shaping of the network, feel free to ask me here, on twitter or in an email. Just remember I don't speak for the network and don't have all the answers. 

Excited for the future. 
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+Bruce Bartrug - thank you, I am too!
+Patrick Bednarek - yeah, we will be receiving a pay increase. It's one of the positive things about the shake-up I wish they had decided to announce . It so rarely happens in things like blogging.
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Have him in circles
15,510 people
Emir Şevkioğlu's profile photo
Bob Marcavage's profile photo
Alan Bond's profile photo
Pyro MoverHD's profile photo
Miel Bronneberg-Rijnders's profile photo
Vicky Ghodke's profile photo
dan bob's profile photo
Gerson Lage's profile photo
Victor Wong's profile photo
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  • York University
    Bachelor of Fine Art, Honours, 2010
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The Flying Trilobite
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Art in Awe of Science. Testing the hypothesis people crave surreal scientific illustrations.
Introduction
The Flying Trilobite, my blog, is updated weekly, featuring in-process artwork and commentary.  (All artwork protected and shareable under Creative Commons Licence, see my blog for details.)

Symbiartic is the new Scientific American blog about art+science that I co-curate with scientific illustrator Kalliopi Monoyios and Katie McKissick. 

I'm a fine artist and illustrator using oil paint and digital media inspired by evolutionary biology. Much of my work is inspired by playing with ideas about fossils and organisms.

My artwork has illustrated books, magazines, museum display, blogs and tattoos, illustrating the links between science and art. I remain available for talks, freelance and contract work. 
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Science-Art Communication Specialist
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