In a podcast interview by Jara Pascual, CEO of Collabwith, guest speaker Diana Mastracci, founder of Space4Innovation, discussed her work on Indigenous Hackathons, which involve co-designing technological solutions with Indigenous Peoples and youth to address challenges faced by their communities' using Indigenous knowledge and satellite imagery. Mastracci's approach is based on collaboration, respect, and cultural relevance to the Indigenous communities involved.
Mastracci began by discussing her background in social anthropology and her fascination with Indigenous communities and their connection to nature. Her passion led her to co-design Indigenous Hackathons with communities in the Russian and Alaskan Arctic, where she conducted fieldwork researching the impacts of climate change. The Indigenous Hackathons have successfully empowered Indigenous youth to identify challenges facing their communities and co-design solutions using space assets.
Mastracci emphasized that Indigenous communities have always been innovators and guided by the wisdom of their Elders. Their innovation is holistic, sustainable, and inclusive, reflecting their indigenous values and empowering the community to solve its own challenges. The approach to innovation is to work together with Western science based on relationships founded on equality, mutual trust, and respect.
Indigenous peoples use cutting-edge technologies to enhance their ways of learning and knowing. For new tools to be embedded with Indigenous values, it's crucial that Indigenous Peoples are at the center of the co-design process and drive the design of the technology to ensure that it's culturally appropriate and reflects their needs and concerns.
Mastracci shared examples of ideas, innovations, and new technologies that have emerged from these unique hackathons, including the Ice Rover Resilient, developed by hackers in Bangladesh, and the Shakaim app, co-developed by the Indigenous Shuar Peoples in the Ecuadorian Amazon. These innovative solutions integrate indigenous knowledge with drones, satellite imagery, and machine learning to answer critical questions related to climate change and sustainability.
The work of Space4Innovation is highly relevant to climate science and policy, providing sustainable ways to protect biodiversity, local baselines for tracking change in remote regions of the world, and ground-truthing for satellite observations and climate models. The approach to innovation with Indigenous communities emphasizes the importance of including diverse voices, perspectives, worldviews, and a holistic lens. Mastracci emphasizes that solutions for the climate crisis must be dynamic, adaptive, and involve commitments to future generations by harnessing the power of diverse worldviews and ways of knowing to address complex challenges.