My Second Year at Mozfest

Mozfest 2: The Fox Strikes Back

Joseph Thomas
Nov 14, 2016 · 5 min read

What should be addressed first is that Mozfest was about 2 weeks ago, and so this blog is in effect late. There is a perfectly good reason for this however: Mozfest damn near killed me. I wasn’t the only one that caught a virus and has been out of action for two weeks, but if you go to an event with nearly 2000 people you’re bound to catch something. At one point,all my muscles were so weak from running up nine flights of stairs a couple of times an hour (it’s healthier than the lifts, and those lifts took forever to get to you once you called them, so it was just quicker) I just collapsed when taking a step. There’s now two bruises on my leg that if you measure the distance between, you can use Pythagoras’s theorem to work out the height of the steps at Ravensbourne College. Why you’d want to though I haven’t the foggiest, and I wouldn’t really like to know anyway. I actually managed to contract trench foot (Seriously!) from the sweat on my feet. I am proudly Mozfest first casualty of war . The worse ailment I received however was far more severe. The majority of the people that I was staying with for the duration of the festival were Irish, and it turns out the Irish accent is contagious. I would occasionally notice my accent going distinctly the way of the Emerald isle. Now I have nothing wrong with the Irish accent on an Irish person, it can often be absolutely lovely to listen to. I’m not Irish though. I can’t do a good Irish accent when I try to do it consciously- it didn’t sound much better when it happened without my control.

Now you’d think after a list of injuries like that above, that I would have found Mozfest awful. Well prepare to be disappointed (as indeed you always should be). This being my second Mozfest, I knew going in that there’s a terrible amount of work that goes into making the festival run as smoothly as it does. My particular thanks must go to Andrew and Dorine. Andrew has worked very closely with all of us Youth Zone members who ran sessions with the raspberry pi , and I know there was a terrible amount of work that was put in that will never be seen- it is after all the smooth running of things behind the scenes that allows the greatest of performances to be given. Dorine essentially puts her life on hold, and the amount of commitment she puts in is quite frankly stupidly high.Both deserve more applause and credit for their work. The facilitators and volunteers deserve an immense amount of gratitude too, for the festival would not have run at all without them.

My designs had an unfortunate fragility to them

It was my second year running my session on the explorer hat, but the first time I have been actually able to run it successfully- We had the slight problem of blowing a breaker last year, or as I prefer to phrase it “the time I almost took out the O2”. I’ve spent nearly a year trying to perfect the workshop, and it’s finally working. The only problem is that I’m now sick to death of the thing. Quite fortuitously I also was an occasional on hand help for the far more successful Laser cutting workshop so I was at least able to at least help with a workshop that I enjoyed doing. Initially this began with being inducted on the laser cutters and signing paperwork so we could cut the designs for the attendees over the weekend. After quickly learning inkscape (which I permanently referred to as inkspace, for a reason that is yet to be worked out.)It largely consisted of being asked how to do something and replying with “I’m not too sure, what if we tried this…”. Experimentation is the beginning of greatness.

Learning In the school holidays. True commitment to the cause

To explain to someone who has never attended, Mozfest as an event is more a collection of moments than anything else, with some lasting longer than others. Some were fleeting, such as seeing the joy in people’s faces as they were undertaking the sessions (both attendee and facilitator). Others, like breakfast at google- a whole story in itself, were delicious. One particular moment lasted much longer, and consisted of a conversation I had with an absolutely lovely man called Milton who I had first met last year . We talked for what must have been several hours, not just within the festival itself, but as we crossed London to get dinner with the rest of the Youth Zone (and then back again as we had gone to the wrong restaurant). Other people joined and left the conversation ,including a wonderful German man who’s name I didn’t get a chance to find out. We discussed multiple subjects: religion, economics, net neutrality. What was perhaps the greatest part of it was that we often didn’t agree. That disagreement however didn’t stop the conversation, as we went to insult each other, but was treated as “your viewpoint is different to mine. Tell me more about it”. This fundamental part of the conversation is something absolutely vital in an age where people’s hatred of others can now rocket you into being the leader of the free world. I am grateful for an awful many things at Mozfest. When signed up to do it though, I had not expected a restoration in my faith in humanity to be one of them.

There is far more that could be included in this blog post: a southeastern train that wasn’t just on time but EARLY, an Uber driver with a lax attitude to laws restricting driving on pavements and around the O2, or an explanation/lament on how hard it is to transport a massive flight case across London on the tube (hint: it’s not easy,but doable), but no amount of words could do them justice. Mozfest is an experience, something that must be lived, something that will be remembered afterwards, and something that changes who you are and how you interact with the world. It was hard work, but I wouldn’t have to even consider doing it in a year’s time; my answer is already yes. The emphasis is on “next year” though.

I’m not quite ready to do it again right now.

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