Electronics Recycling Conference 2017 Presents Jim Lynch Lifetime Achievement Award To

Scary Times in New Orleans...

What a great time I had last night, here in New Orleans, Louisiana.  I'm here to attend the 2017 ERC conference, run now by Sarah Cade of Chicago.  The annual international conference is a unique group of people, which took off from the launching pad of an organization, TechSoup, run by my pal Jim Lynch of San Francisco.  Jim's a legend, and each year this electronics reuse conference presents an achievement award in his name.

While the Bourbon Street Halloween Parade was truly a sight to behold, and Jazz Saxophonist Gary Brown was giving rare encores late into the night, the pinnacle of the evening, for me, came early.  At 6PM, I was presented a "Lifetime Achievement Award" for alleged contributions to the field of electronics repair and reuse. The honor was bestowed on me by Jim and Sarah, based on a vote of past Jim Lynch honorees, such as the distinguished Nancy Jo Craig of Baton Rouge, Charles Brennick of InterConnection in Seattle, Kyle Wiens (founder of IFIXIT!) and others.


Not cultural appopriation b/c photo snapped by Swiss woman? Oh and Halloween. That.

Jim Lynch himself introduced the award.  I was touched that he spoke about the several hour drive he and I shared together coming back from Retroworks de Mexico. He hit the sweet spots of my career, and my passion for defending reuse techs in emerging markets.

My remarks weren't really prepared.  I thought about joking that a LifeTime Achievement Award is something I associate with late comedians (didn't they hand one out to Don Rickles a few weeks before he keeled over dead?  That's a joke Don Rickles would appreciate, but an international audience, like the one yesterday evening, might not).

Instead I thanked Jim and Sarah, and then thanked the people who stood beside me for the past 10 years, during which time I received blistering and very personal attacks from the Seattle Organization Basel Action Network.  I couldn't help but remember, later in the evening, the Chicago Patch story from 5 years ago, when BAN told a reporter Robin Ingenthron was "lying through his teeth" and a "big supporter of poisoning the poor", and worst, that I was fabricating "mythical" fair trade tech sector facilities overseas.

The E-Waste Importers of the Third World Costume - 1st Prize

Jim Puckett of BAN issued a statement after - not apologizing for the attack, but saying that the consultant who spoke on his behalf was not authorized to do so, and his views did not necessarily represent BANs.  That's a step short of saying "Robin and I disagree on many things, but he's a good person who does not lie through his teeth, etc.".  The way Jim handled it allowed the stain to remain on me, while sidestepping whether his association, per se, was responsible for the defamation.

So, it's me at my worst to take a hallowed moment of celebration and turn it into yet another diatribe on the anti-export e-waste brigade.  But what put me here, in my opinion or wish, was the "John Brown" stubborness.  I am not attacking Jim Puckett.  I am defending the geeks of color, the tech sector, the valedictorians of Africa and Asia, the nerds in emerging markets who created the "critical mass of users" who made internet, TV, radio, and telecommunications possible for billions of people who would, otherwise, never been able to afford them.

Those are people.

The normal high road would be to name and thank fellow Americans, people in the room there, like Jerry Powell of Resource Recycling, or John German, or Rohi and Adam of Tradeloop.  But I spent my minute defending people who are under constant ridicule and attack, and were not present.

Nice kilt, Scottie

They are not nameless, faceless, viet cong, toothless primitives living in rice paddies. And god damn it, the defamation and racial profiling of these electronics reuse technicians has to stop.

So I kept my remarks down under 2 minutes, which is a challenge for me. But I made the point of my award a thank you to the people who, by bestowing in on me, are sending a signal that technicians overseas are not figments of my imagination.  There are tens of thousands of them, hundreds of thousands of fixers, geeks, and nerds, not just in electronics repair but fixing bicycles, ambulances, and x-ray machines.

I hope anyone who heard my shout out to the geeks of color, and naming of Basel Action Network as an ugly racial profiling opportunist recycling fake statistics about exports, does not think it means I'm not honored.

Please understand, it's not about me.  It's about Fung, and Oscar, Jinex, Hamdy, Kamaldeen, Sidiq, Muhammed, and Elvis.  This blog is always about them.  And attempts to shame me, with GPS trackers or paid consultants, by associating me with other races and cultures, just feeds me.  And evidently, last night shows, I have an audience.

Some film of Bourbon Street (this is from 2015, but representative of what Katharina Kummer Pierry and I walked through last night).

And the clip below of Gary Brown, saxophonist extraordinaire and regular at Mahogany Jazz on Rue Chartres, was filmed on my Samsung Galaxy Note 8.  This one is better though.  Thanks, Gary, for the extra.

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