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Enjoy reading about the wonderful community that has developed around this annual event.


February 20, 2013

Speaker Announcement: Mathew Lippincott, Head in the Clouds
Category: 2013 Event, News, Speaker Announcements

Mathew Lippincott

Mathew Lippincott has got his head in the troposphere (a.k.a “the clouds”). Sometimes he’s even got his head in the stratosphere, and if he had his way, he’d have his head in the mesosphere, the thermosphere, or perhaps even the exosphere. Based on Mathew’s background, we won’t be surprised if we hear about him colonizing Mars in the next decade.

Mathew is the co-founder and Director of Production at the Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science (PLOTS), a non-profit organization dedicated to civic science. PLOTS helps people investigate environmental concerns using DIY technologies. He is also a partner in MDML, which focuses on creating solutions for sustainable sanitation, like dry toilets and other ecological solutions to human pollution.

One of PLOTS’ hallmark DIY technologies is balloon mapping, which involves sending a camera up on a balloon, snapping photos and stitching them together. Since its inception, Mathew has helped build a global community of mappers, who have used balloons and kites to take aerial photos, mapping places from Portland to Texas, and Santiago to Somerville.

Though cheap (a balloon mapping kit is $95), PLOTS’ technology has already been majorly disruptive. Exhibit A: the Deepwater Horizon gulf oil spill in 2010. Balloons can fly, but don’t go too high and they can still be used to take high-resolution images. Gulf coast residents took up PLOTS’ balloon mapping to map the spill. For the first few weeks of the disaster a restricted flight zone was declared below 4,000 ft. But this restriction didn’t include balloons. A comprehensive map of the spill was born.

“I’m motivated by the potential of a more fun future, and doing my best to make everything fun and defeat seriousness,” says Mathew. “Boring and ugly stuff causes indifference, irritability and pollution. Solutions come from fun and beauty.”

Think toilets are serious and boring? Think again. Mathew’s ongoing project with MDML focuses on emergency sanitation, especially in the Portland-area, which would become imperative to have when the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate shifts and the Pacific NW receives a 9.0 magnitude earthquake. MDML’s emergency sanitation guide has been approved by the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management. Mathew will be discussing his work with toilets and sanitation during his March 23rd TEDxConcordiaUPortland (now known as TEDxMtHood) talk.

As an inventor, a designer, and an aeronautical artist, Mathew has got his head in the clouds most of the time, always thinking about the vast, unexplored space we call ‘up.’ Nothing is too far, and no space should be left unexplored. So, what’s next? Outer space, perhaps.

He writes on his blog, “If you are looking for space colonists with a diversity of skills in design communications, automation, construction and repair, I am available at 2 weeks notice.”

TEDxConcordiaUPortland (now known as TEDxMtHood) hopes that the call of duty to outer space comes after March 23rd, as we are elated to have Mathew join our speaker brigade.

Leah Olson

Leah is the Executive Director of FACES Foundation, a non-profit that provides cleft lip and palate and facial reconstructive surgery to indigent, medically-isolated patients in South America. She enjoys Himalayan peaks, big Asian cities, thick Russian novels, long, soggy runs, and writing about Portland’s finest as a TEDxConcordiaUPortland Storyteller.