According to Chinese Astrology, 2010 is the year of the Tiger, but I am calling it the year of the Tigress. It is a year of personal growth, intense change, travel, opportunities, friendship, and challenges. Every day, I had to learn how to land on my feet.
The year got off to a grand start with another episode of the show, MyHome 2.0. I created an interactive Skype Wall for the Reyes Family in Tampa, Florida and shared the stage with the flawless Tiffany Smith and Mark Montano. The Reyes’ loved the Skype wall I built and have called me from it a few times after the show. They still use it weekly to keep up with friends and family.
[On the set of My Home 2.0]
Directly after MyHome2.0, I flew to LA to spend a day with my friend and visit Disney Imagineering. I can't say what I saw, but it was stupendous! It was a dream visit. While there I had dinner with one of my favorite fashion techie’s Ms Syuzi Pakhchyan of Fashiontingtech.com.
The next four days proved to be the most inspiring of my life. I left LA and drove to TEDActive in Palm Springs. I threw myself into TED and made friends for life. Two of my most memorable times are the moment I met David Eagleman, who wrote “SUM: 40 Tales of the Afterlife” and having a spontaneous rapping session next to a campfire with an oncologist, shaman, investor, statistician, entrepreneur, lighting engineer, computer programmer, corporate financier, and green activist. I seriously could not make this up, nor would I want to. Two weeks after TEDActive, a friend from the event called and encouraged me to apply for Singularity University. I didn’t think I was a good fit, but he suggested otherwise.
[Campfire at TEDActive]
Things began moving faster than ever after TED. I spoke at SXSW in March with Syuzi Pakhchyan at a core conversation called “Duh, It’s like Tech for Girls.” The talk was a roaring success! The audience participated, sharing their thoughts on what it takes to encourage more girls to try robotics, computer science, and electronic engineering. Anya Kamenetz, the author of DIY U, attended the talk and interviewed me for Fast Company. I frantically finished up my application for Singularity University that same day.
[Anya Kamenetz and Me and SXSW]
In April, I was off to Miami, Florida to speak and hold a workshop at the Smart Fabrics conference. Just one hour before I was due to give my talk, I was advised that I had got into Singularity University! The next couple of days in Miami were spent enjoying the rain and sunshine with my good friends Dekker Dreyer and Julia Howe of The Fringe Majority and we started developing the idea flok.to, a cross-platform location based app currently in beta on iphone an android.
Just after Smart Fabrics, I received an email from a friend congratulating me on being named one of the Most Influential Women in Technology by Fast Company. I had no idea that this is what Anya’s interview as about, I am still very grateful for the honor.
Then it was back to NYC, to shoot “Put a Ring on It”, a reality TV show for WEtv about outstanding wedding proposals. In the pilot, we stopped time and caught the surprise proposal with hidden cameras and spy cams. Watch it, it will bring tears to your eyes.
[On the set of "Put A Ring On It"]
After the shoot, I only had a couple of weeks to prepare to leave for Singularity University. I set up Singular Blonde project funding page in hopes to get financial support to have cameras follow me around SU while I learned. Tommy Michelle Jenkins of Girls in Tech was very supportive and we worked together to try and find people to support the idea. There were only a few but enthusiastic supporters, but not enough to get the project off the ground. However, I have video footage from the summer and will start posting them in March.
[Tommy from Girls in Tech & Me at Danny Web promoting Singular Blonde]
On June 19thI was in Mountain View, California at NASA Ames starting Singularity University. The next ten weeks are some of the most precious and exciting experiences of my life. I spent the entire time pushing my brain to the edge of innovation, meeting hundreds of world changing entrepreneurs, and started toying with the idea of becoming one myself. SU was 190 hours of lectures, 20+ field trips, and weeks of inspiration from my fellow students from 34 different countries around the world. While there, I fell in love with 3D printing, closed-looped manufacturing systems, and the beauty and inspiration of Space. I was also awarded the AutoDesk Scholarship and proudly became an AutoDesk Scholar. SU ended with a wonderful night of dancing with Ray Kurtzweil, warm hugs from Peter Diamondies, and laughter and food with SU friends.
After the bubble of SU popped, so did I. I fell off the grid and began traveling and looking to reunite with friends and new life goals while continuing to work on Made in Space and FRE3DOM, two projects that came out of SU.
September was spent touring California and getting prepared to move to the The Golden State. I also visited NYC to rekindle an old flame and interview one of my favorite fashion technologists, Despina Papadopoulos, about her new product Fabric.it. After NYC, I headed to the White House for a conference on Women Entrepreneurs. I was in awe by the women in attendance and this has fueled my desire to continue working on the company’s coming out of SU. In late October, I was back at the NASA campus (where SU was located) to help co-found and get the Made in Space company off the ground.
On Halloween night, I flew to Barcelona to present my Switch Craft projects at Mozilla’s Drumbeat festival. There I met Nathaniel James, who taught me the difference between Mozilla and Firefox and finally got to shake the hand of Massimo Banzi who created Arduino.
[My Tweets at Drumbeat]
On a sad note, I was robbed in Barcelona and lost my computer, wallet, jewelry, video camera, back up drive, camera, and favorite Chloe’ bag. I was left with some clothes, my project samples, and my passport. I assumed that this was the universes way of telling me “YO! Alison, don’t live on the road - if you live out of your suitcase and it gets stolen, your screwed.”
I flew back to NYC with my tail between my legs and started rebuilding my life and bank accounts and preparing for a life-changing move to California. Things get a little blurry after this. Basically, I traveled back to California to pick up some clothes, then to Texas to purchase my new sweet 1967 VW Bug and visit my sweet mom, and then headed out to Paris for Thanksgiving for a reunion with my SU friends.
In Paris we wondered the cold streets, drank mulled wine, and had cheese and bread every day. On the last night, we all sat together a long table in a Parisian restaurant drinking wine and eating thick yummy stakes with dim lighting and laughter, Perfection! I left so grateful for their presence in my life, but was dying to come home and finally settle in. Unfortunately before I could return, a heavy snowstorm had me stuck in London for three days! I spent that time going to the V&A art museum and shopping for hours in TopShop.
[My dressing room at TopShop]
The Year Ended on the East Coast with friends snowboarding and plotting our New Years resolutions. I packed up my workshop and sent it off to California for my move into the Blackbox Mansion, an incubator for new businesses in the Silicon Valley run by serial entrepreneur, Bjeorn Hermmann. I live here now with a warm and wonderfully diverse group of people from Germany, Russia, Syria, India, and others.
[Hanging out with Russian Entrepreneurs at BlackBox Mansion]
Understandably, 2010 is a lot to digest and it has taken awhile to get my head wrapped around it and ready for the New Year. However, what I know is this: 2010 has taught me the importance of living in the moment, of what it means to be grateful in hard times, to listen to friends when in need, to be patient when life throws a few lemons, and always let your passion shine and opportunities will present themselves.
With all the challenges and triumphs from 2010, comes opportunity. I am left with an incredible network of friends and collogues and the continued support and motivation to make 2011 be the year of creation and entrepreneurship. It will start with a talk at at eTech Ohio for fashion hack workshop on February 1st and will hopefully end with a fashion technology company that is going to change the world.
[Pictures from 2010]