Reflecting on 48 years of congoing, and what the years to come should be

Scott Edelman writes, "I devoted my World Fantasy Convention Guest of Honor speech to talk about my 48 years of attending convention, and about what they’ve been, what they are, what they could be, and what they should be." Read the rest

Linux programmer developing tools for new open source Code of Conduct

Coraline Ehmke is a leading figure in the push to make Linux programming more welcoming and inclusiv, supplementing the project's famed Code of Conflict with an enforceable Code of Conduct project called CoC Beacon. Read the rest

Canadian professor working towards inclusion for British Columbia's Indigenous communities

Our European immigrant ancestors did an unspeakable number of shitty things to North America's Indigenous peoples. Massacres, rapes, pillaging and residential schools designed to destroy their culture – we ticked off all of the genocidal boxes.

Take a visit to a nearby reservation and you'll find that the legacy of our white asshole doings still echo on today. Amidst the systematic racism and down-home bigotry that many natives in the United States and Canada are still putting up with, federal and local government officials are doing what they can to make amends for the atrocities of the past. Issuing an official apology for the indignities, pain and death visited upon those forced into Canada's residential school system is a good example of this.

However, not every gesture needs to be as grand in scope: inclusion, education and acceptance of indigenous cultures that were, for generations, forced outside of the mainstream, can go a long way towards healing the wounds of the past on a local level. To help move things along in this area, Professor Onowa McIvor of the University of Victoria's Department of Indigenous Education has put together a collection of words, greetings other and phrases in the languages of British Columbia's Indigenous peoples that can be incorporated into our day-to-day lives.

From The CBC:

Learning how to say "hello" or displaying a welcome sign in the language of the local First Nation are just a few ways the author is encouraging people to get involved.

"To learn a greeting but also the appropriate response is a way of deepening our understanding of that language a little bit, and being able to have just a very short conversation," McIvor told On The Island host Gregor Craigie.

Read the rest

XOXO will be bigger and more inclusive in 2018

Described as "an experimental festival for independent artists and creators who work on the internet," Andy Baio and Andy McMillan's internet-fest baby XOXO will be back in early September.

And according to this tweet, they're making it bigger and more inclusive (be sure to check out their "living" inclusion policy):

We're moving to a new venue, and growing so we can offer significantly more free subsidized passes, prioritizing underrepresented and economically disadvantaged individuals.

The fun is happening in Portland, Oregon at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum from September 6 through 9. If this sounds like your jam, get on the horn and register before the deadline of June 29. Tickets (both paid and subsidized) are offered through a survey and lottery process, of which they write:

A first-come, first-serve system typically favors those with time and money, which ends up benefiting predominantly white men with well-paying jobs and disposable income.

Our survey system allows us to factor diversity into admission, which helps to counteract systemic biases and prioritize access to the festival for underrepresented folx and independent artists.

Check out the lineup! Read the rest

Survey: student attitudes about diversity and inclusion vs. free speech are shifting

A new Gallup-Knight Foundation survey suggests that shifting student views are exposing deep rifts in attitudes toward diversity versus free speech among demographic groups. The survey presents this false dichotomy of inclusion vs. the First Amendment, but that's how it's often presented in these debates, ignoring academic responsibility. Read the rest

A history of Down Syndrome

From their inclusion in 16th-century paintings to their roles in famous families (including, probably, Darwin's), people with Down Syndrome are part of history.

At the Down Wit Dat blog, there's a 8-part (with more on the way) feature that provides some much-needed inclusion to people who are usually just a footnote to somebody else's history. Naturally, the series delves into ideas like eugenics and the institutionalization of differently abled Americans. But, even there, the story is centered on people with Down Syndrome and, as such, it offers a perspective and information that you likely haven't heard before. Great stuff.

Here's an excerpt about the short life of Charles Waring Darwin, the youngest child of the Charles Darwin you know. Based off historical records and the surviving photograph that you can see here, historians suspect that he had Down Syndrome.

Henrietta, one of his daughters, had this to say about Charles Waring in her book "Emma Darwin, A century of family letters...":

"The poor little baby was born without its full share of intelligence. Both my father and mother were infinitely tender towards him..."

Charles Darwin himself had this to say about his youngest child:

“He was small for his age and backward in walking and talking.... He was of a remarkable sweet, placid and joyful disposition, but had not high spirits.... He often made strange grimaces and shivered, when excited.... He would lie for a long time placidly on my lap looking with a steady and pleased expression at my face... Read the rest

Australian Army on institutional sexism: The standard you walk past is the standard you accept

Michael sez, "In response to a breaking scandal the head of the Australian Army gives a textbook example on how to respond to sexual abuse in the military, hell, misogyny in any organisation: blunt, unambiguous, drawing on both institutional policy and personal ethics, and frankly a bit terrifying in a Tywin Lassister kind of way. I quailed and I'm not even a soldier. I also think there should be more of this."

If you become aware of any individual degrading another, then show moral courage and take a stand against it. No one has ever explained to me how the exploitation or degradation of others enhances capability or honors the traditions of the Australian army. I will be ruthless in ridding the army of people who cannot live up to its values and I need every one of you to support me in achieving this.

The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. That goes for all of us, but especially those who by their rank have a leadership role.

Chief of Army message regarding unacceptable behaviour

(Transcript: Skepchick)

(Thanks, Michael!) Read the rest

Hacker School sets out to bring in more women programmers, succeeds

Hacker School is an intensive, three-month residential programming bootcamp in NYC. Some students receive tuition grants funded jointly by Etsy, 37 Signals, and Yammer. This year, they decided to focus on increasing the number of awesome women programmers participating in Hacker School, and did an amazing job. Etsy VP of Engineering Marc Hedlund is justifiably proud:

When we announced the program, we were aiming to find 20 women to join the summer class. The previous class, in the spring, had only around 7 female applicants and wound up with 1 female student, so we knew it would take a big effort to get to our goal. Since Hacker School runs admissions and structures the classes, Etsy’s primary role was to get the word out about the grants — and we asked for help from our community in reaching as many great candidates as we could.

To say that worked would be a serious understatement. With help from all of you, Hacker School received applications from 661 women, nearly a 100-times increase from the previous session. (As they put it, they received more applications this time from women named Sarah, than all applications from women for all previous sessions combined.) Hacker School has admitted 23 of those women for the summer program — exceeding our original goal by 3. It’s been incredibly exciting to see.

The response to the Hacker Grants program was much larger than we expected. 597 (90%) of the 661 female applicants requested financial assistance. We believe that the existence of the grants did play a major role in causing the increase in applications from women.

Read the rest