Saturday, February 28, 2015

The League of the Brick Moon

Selenite Embassy is coming to Valley of the Moon in Tucson, Arizona July 18. It should be fun; it should be a crazy-good time. There will be actors in character and in costume, food vendors, art vendors, appropriate technology vendors (agriculture to robotics to xenobiology), music, and a range of theatrical performances. If you want to come in costume, do it.

Some of the things you might expect to gain if you are a vendor or a sponsor:
• Exposure to an expected 300 visitors who make buying decisions for themselves, their families, and their friends,
• Inspiration from contact with Valley of the Moon’s professional explorers (children), who are quite apt to ask great questions,
• An opportunity to inspire interest in your passion, whether it’s a science, an art, or a technology,
• An opportunity to recruit new members for your organization,
• An opportunity to test-market ideas,
• A chance to remind people it’s Spaceweek, 
• Experiencing Valley of the Moon as an insider,
• Membership in The League of the Brick Moon,
• New business, 
• Immediate profits, and
• A tax break for any cash or in-kind support members might eventually offer Valley of the Moon.

The One-Minute Pitch

One of our most useful resources for finding vendors and sponsors is Startup Tucson, and one of the fun things about that is drink night at the Passé Cafe on 4th avenue, at Gio Taco on Congress, at The Screening Room, a different venue on the second Wednesday of each month. Organizers Justin Williams and Courtney Fey have created a way for Tucson entrepreneurs, including those running non-profits, to work with each other and potential investors. I often give a one-minute pitch during drink nights about Selenite Embassy that goes something like this: I’m Laurence Winn, President of SpaceFarers Corporation, and I’m here to talk to you about an outer space renaissance fair at Valley of the Moon, a space colony simulation here in Tucson offering previews of life support technologies from the companies inventing them, rides into space from the adventurers offering them, imaginative foods from the culinary artists creating them, and hosting bands of visitors from places unknown, strangers from elsewhere in time-space, and away teams from starships named and unnamed. There is no fee. There is no gate. Our business model is “karmic billing,” in which you donate what you believe we have earned by boosting your profits (or your spirits). And it’s a tax write-off. We’ll work with you. All that’s missing is your business with its interpretation in the context we’re bringing to Valley of the Moon July 18 as Selenite Embassy, Legler Station, North America, planet Earth, in a galaxy near you. And I have cards for anyone who wants one.

Persons of Interest

So far, I have talked to:
• Jodi Netzer, GoGoKarma, who is an event organizer and an entrepreneur of social games for doing good. I’m hoping to get her attention.
• Hugh Garvey, VP of Operations at Rigaku Technologies, who is in the process of building a business based on hand-held Raman spectroscopy for (molecular, nonmetallic) material identification. Though it sounds too technical for an entertainment event, I am hoping Hugh  will arrive with an exobiologist or asteroid prospector persona and give us an idea what we’re looking at when it comes to rocks, plants, etc.
• Brian Metzger, who owns Gio Taco and Poppy Kitchen, and is a potential food boss.
• Robert Muster, who sells car parts. What we have in common is rovers and a general interest in technology.
• Linda Leigh, Vermillion Wormery, who is a former biospherian with Jane Poynter and Taber MacCallum, and can show us how to process food waste for reuse in agriculture.
• Cathy Browning, who is a practitioner of Eastern health maintenance and chronic disease management methods. She says, “I'm looking forward to this exciting journey and will anticipate growth in myself and those around me.” She brings to the table a strong family  background in frontiersmanship and a medical technology that weighs nothing and requires no imports from Earth. Low up-mass; it’s what we’re looking for.
• Carole Leon at Paragon SDC, who has a Selenite Embassy prospectus and is considering it. She comes highly recommended from Grant Anderson, a linkedIn contact, who is now CEO, having replaced Taber and Jane as president and CEO, respectively. Both have moved on to World View Enterprises, which offers high-tech balloon rides into near space with low acceleration and space-colony-like accommodations for hours of Earth-gazing. From the description, I would say the experience is much like happy hour on a low-orbiting space hotel in terms of comfort and in affording a global perspective.
• World View Enterprises (Jane Poynter and Taber MacCallum) is “Pioneering a new frontier at the edge of space.” It’s a high-altitude research balloon flight to altitude around 100,000 feet, or 20 miles high. See the curvature of the Earth and the blackness of space. The Gondola holds six passengers and two crew. A parafoil returns the gondola after it descends to 50,000 feet. Plans to launch from Spaceport America (the Virgin Galactic spaceport) north of Las Cruces, NM. I’m talking to Jane, a LinkedIn contact. 
• Reid Silvern at The Galactic Center on Toole Ave. does what he calls “columiere,” a technology he invented that works with colored light to produce a kind of animation in static images. We found him at his laboratory/shop in the Warehouse District Downtown. Reid, a member of the Tucson chapter of the International Astronomical Art Association (IAAA), expressed delight when he learned of this opportunity  to demonstrate his art form using some of his space-themed original images (a good example of the fusion of science and art) at Selenite Embassy.
• Simon Kregar, who co-chairs the local International Astronautical Art Association (IAAA) chapter, says, “This looks like a wonderful opportunity to connect with the space enthusiast crowd.” The IAAA includes people from UA’s Planetary Sciences Institute, who are very much concerned with explaining science via art.
• Sean Herman, who has an association with Local Roots Aquaponics (with Stephane Herbert-Fort) is a maker of demonstration aquaponics kits for domestic and educational needs. He has responded to our invitation to join Selenite Embassy in July with an enthusiastic “Sounds fun! Please send me a reminder in late June.”
• Brad Brockman, who is helping me pursue an idea I am working on for music at Selenite Embassy. It’s the “Monsoon Carillon,” pentatonic wind chimes ringing pure, sustained tones from tubular bells arranged around a rotating or oscillating fan. Melodies emerge, shift, blend in pleasing counterpoint, and dissolve into the randomness of rain on glass. I have a Mezzo. I’ve run it with a fan at my home. Even when people don’t know what they are hearing, they acknowledge the “so peaceful” nature of the effect it produces. Anyway, I corresponded with the maker of the wind chimes in Austin, Texas, who directed me to a vendor in Tucson (Wild Birds Unlimited on Tanque Verde Boulevard). Brad may not be able to be there with his products, but I can bring my Mezzo, and if buyers bring him one of Selenite Embassy’s cards, he says they get a discount, and Valley of the Moon gets a donation.

Something More

In its grottos and caves and copses, Valley of the Moon already has a fair amount of shade, but I am looking for something more in the way of environmental control, like shade sails tensioned by guy wires, maybe staked over Pennyland (for our purposes, Dragon’s Gate Skylight). I’m also looking for an artificial tree with multiple, overlapping shade sail “leaves” and a system of ultrasonic foggers to supply transpiration cooling. It would need electrical conduits for power to the foggers and LED lamps. I see from my psychrometric chart that we should be able to reduce the temperature in the shade from 100°F to 87°F at a relative humidity of up to 60% using transpiration cooling, which could take the form of misters or foggers in the trees. We’re looking for something like 12 liters (about 3 gallons) per hour of water use under each sail. Geodesic domes with fabric panels, tripods with irregular triangular panels are options for providing shade, If we can engage with their vendors in time. If we could build a chimney out of shade sails for the misters, that would be visually dramatic as well as a source of enhanced cooling. Waste management, portable “relief stations, ” clothing and accessories for thermal management, all of the above I hope to have provided and represented by vendors looking for buyers. As I said, I’m looking for the lookers. If you have leads, please let me know. If you or your associates want to manage some contacts yourselves, bravo and carry on. Just try to keep me in the loop so I can pass it along.

(1) The header graphic is from the Society of Illustrators in NYC ( The artist is Jeffrey Jones, oil painting commissioned by the Hayden Planetarium in New York in 1971. The original is in the collection of Robert K. Wiener.
(2) The text of The Brick Moon, Edward Everett Hale,
The Atlantic Monthly Volume 0024 Issue 141 (July 1869) is at The physics is almost all completely wrong, but the story explores an important concept of frontier formation, the opportunity to build a world from scratch, and it foreshadows the utility of artificial satellites for navigation, not to mention a real moonshot on July 16, 1969.