S a p p h o R o a d
We are a knowledge exchange for women in Paris. A group of
motivated women sharing directed discussions on philosophy, tech,
science, finance, politics, the arts and more, while excluding
quotidian topics: family, children, social life issues, etc.
Why do we value this group? We are grateful to be
surrounded by so many talented and driven women and want share with and
learn from one another.
Members are encouraged to develop their
own ideas to share with the group at a future meeting. Volunteers
are welcome. You are not required to present to attend.
Formats may vary based on the presenter’s interests and needs.
Typically, a given session includes a presentation, followed by a
Q&A and discussion. A light breakfast in the morning and apéro
in the evening will be served. No need to bring anything but
yourself and your curiosity.
When: Tuesday, October 16, 7:30 - 9:30pm
Title: Refugees: A Rising Nation without a Flag
Presenter: Danika Jurisic
Summary: Danika, herself a refugee, will share her first-hand experiences working on the ground with refugees in makeshift camps across Paris.
About: Born in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, a country that no longer exists, Danika spent her early life navigating the challenges of life as a refugee. Having fled her home due to war, she spent her teenage years in refugee camps in northern Croatia. Her studies led her to a degree in Art History and a second in Photography, after which she moved to France. Driven by the powerful and painful link between them, Danika has tirelessly worked to provide aid and guidance to refugees arriving in France, helping them find their way to available services and ultimately to integrate into French culture and life. "Refugees are coming, they are running from death and destruction. Nothing will stop them. It is up to all of us to take this task and create a future, create the society that will prosper together, that will include all; that will lead to economic wealth and cultural progress. By helping refugees, we are investing in our future, in our civilization." To watch the full talk: TEDxIHEParis "Beyond our limits"
When: Tuesday, November 13, 10:00am - 12:00pm
Title: The Link between Water and Peace
Presenter: Marie-Laure Vercambre
Summary: Marie-Laure will speak about what is becoming more commonly referred to as the Global Water Crisis, as well as another looming environmental issue before moving on to concrete solutions.
About: Marie-Laure Vercambre is the Water Programme Director at Green Cross International, an NGO founded by Mikhail Gorbachev in 1993. She pursued her studies in the US, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Political Sciences from NYU and dual Masters from Sciences Po and Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. She is also an invited member of the think tank Initiatives for the Future of Great Rivers, spearheaded by French writer Erik Orsenna and the Compagnie Nationale du Rhône. A recent video she created for the UN on the Sustainable Development Goal on Water can be found here.
- Getting started with crypto workshop
Attendees became Bitcoin neophytes in one hour during Tamara
Helenius' hands-on Bitcoin workshop, acquiring a wallet and
participating in a Bitcoin transaction by the end of the session.
Experiencing a real peer-to-peer, no intermediary digital transfer
of value first-hand was empowering and exciting. (One in
attendance audibly gasped when she saw the transaction to her
wallet.) Tamara first pointed out the differences between Bitcoin
and Bitcoin Cash and between the Ether / Ethereum Network and
Bitcoin, then she discussed the different storage methods and
their relative trade-offs (paper wallets, hardware wallets,
mobile/desktop wallets, online/exchange wallets), made
recommendations for the best mobile and desktop wallets,
demonstrated using a hardware wallet, and reiterated the singular
importance of crypto private key security (“Not your keys, not
your coins.”). Tamara also showed us how to use Bitcoin and
Ethereum blockchain explorers (a tool that provides information
about crypto currency blocks, addresses, and transactions) and
live purchased Cryptokitties, a blockchain-based virtual game and
marketplace, to illustrate the concept of non-fungible tokens
(NFT) (unique, collectible tokens) and to demonstrate how to
transact on the Ethereum network (using MetaMask, a plug-in to
transact on the Ethereum blockchain via web browser).
- Beyond Bitcoin: a cryptoasset primer
Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple, Monero. Tamara
Helenius addressed the sources of confusion, noise and pollution
around this subject and gave us insight into the different types
of cryptoassets (spoiler alert: they’re not all cryptocurrencies),
explaining how they are used and comparing what makes them
different. Going into detail on a handful of examples Tamara
seamlessly guided us, an inquisitive collective of non-experts,
through this unfamiliar landscape. Concluding with a short history
of Bitcoin —the first of its class— the significance of the secret
message embedded in its very first block —the genesis block— and
how it and other cryptocurrencies may impact central banking as we
know it today. Ensuing discussions moved from contemplating the
non-material quality of the entire system to reacting to the very
material environmental impact of blockchain "mining" versus the
alternatives and, finally, the idea of a hands-on workshop to
deepen our understanding of crypto through first-hand experience.
- Rising sea levels and why we should care
With her presentation "Rising sea levels and why we should care,"
Dr. Marissa Yates provided an engaging and thorough initiation
into relevant oceanographic concepts and issues including tides
and tide gauges, gravity and celestial bodies, Argo floats,
absolute sea level, the geoid, altimetry, bathymetry, flood
alleviation techniques and backdating modeling for acquiring
historical data. Our ensuing discussions moved from the global
impacts of sea levels rising, to individual and “professional”
carbon footprints and how to decrease those, to the influence and
interest of the public and private sectors in repairing the
planet. Marissa shared this research in a fluid and welcoming
format that had us listening, then asking, sharing, debating and
proposing in all different manners right from the start. It was a
full evening that offered another well-received and entirely
unique experience at the Sappho Road knowledge exchange.
- Introduction to a history of feminism
From Mary Wollstonecraft, Susan B. Anthony and Harriet Tubman to
Simone de Beauvoir, Gayatri Spivak, bell hooks and Judith Butler,
our introduction to a history of feminism by Dr. Katy Masuga was
rich in groundbreaking female figures. We learned about strategic
essentialism, phallic thinking, genderlect, écriture feminine and
intersectionality--all part of the philosophical and theoretical
background of so much that is happening on the ground today in the
"real world." Lively ensuing discussions included fashion and
feminism, queer culture and the continued controversy of "gay
marriage," and the use of PGP's ("preferred gender pronouns") on
college campuses and among woke families. It was fantastic to have
a presentation where we could exercise and expand our awareness,
knowledge and critical thinking skills on these issues of feminism
at large, entirely fundamental to the mission of Sappho Road.
- Build your own theremin workshop
Our workshop leader, Christi Denton--Portland, Oregon-based
composer and sound installation artist--guided us through the
intricate and fun process of theremin building. Christi works with
found sounds, electronics, and homemade and modified instruments
whose creations have been performed throughout the US, Europe, and
Asia. The theremin workshop was fascinating, educational and
- Diversity and the media
Our presenter, journalist Adiaratou Diarrassouba, co-founder with
Dolores Bakèla of the site L'Afro and the upcoming Fraîches Women
Festival, shared her knowledge and insight on the origins and
limitations of #metoo, on intersectionality, diversity and the
media, and on a myriad of interpretations of variations of
feminisms. Her site L'Afro is dedicated to bringing the presence
of Franco-African women to the "mainstream," inspired by the
ambitious journalists of the past and present and their desire to
interact with diverse peoples and to share their stories far and
wide. Adiaratou's presentation and the lively exchanges of the
rest of the evening compel us to incorporate what we've learned
more broadly and confidently into the other avenues of our lives.
- What I learned about learning from learning music
The creativity and pluridisciplinarity of Dr. Xiao Xiao's
multi-sensory research, along with her spirit of innovation (to
say nothing of her incredible musical skills!), were riveting,
inspiring and exciting to watch in action. Xiao, pianist and
technologist, gave us an engaging and eye (and ear! ...and body!)
opening experience on her fascinating and pedagogical work at the
MIT Media Lab and on her self-taught theremin prowess.
- Behind the scenes of the Paris start-up ecosystem
Tamara Piller's presentation on Station F (the largest start-up
incubator in the world, located here in Paris) opened our eyes to
the ambitious and generous entrepreneurial system recently set-up
by Xavier Niel. Tamara also showcased her courageous and ambitious
podcast Hold Tight that focuses on individual start-ups housed in
Station F. Led by her theory of "The Social Valley" of French
entrepreneurship vs. "The Silicon Valley" of American, we also
engaged in wide-reaching and stimulating discussions on the
politics, philosophy and cultural implications befitting that
- #TRANSFARMING The adventure of a second career in agriculture
If you were wondering about “transfarming," look no further than
Claire Wills Diquet's upcoming Normandy farm: Gonne Girls. Claire
gave an inspiring talk on the subject, explaining how it involves
rethinking the current methods of agriculture to be ecological,
sustainable and self-sufficient. Claire also gave us a complete
rundown on the current ambitious design of her eco-responsible
farm in Normandy using transfarming techniques. The flipside of
Claire's talk focused on changing careers mid-life, as she has
just gone from advertising executive to farmer!
- What is mediation, and when and why do we need it? The
surprising importance of good mediation skills in everyday life.
Benedicte Baudoin-Geiger shared with us the ins and outs of
mediation. That's medIAtion and not medITAtion --both surprisingly
important skills in everyday life but not the same thing (though
definitely some overlap, surprisingly)! Benedicte is a lawyer and
licensed mediator with experience in the nonprofit sector, who
shared with us fundamental mediation techniques to employ in our
professional and personal lives.
- On Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
December's session by Dr. Nicole Hall gave us a fascinating look
into philosophical positions on beauty in relation to artificial
intelligence. Using her extensive research in aesthetics, Dr.
Hall's argument debunked the brain-machine analogy, while also
suggesting that what makes human consciousness unique cannot be
- Climate change and health
November's session by Dr. Cara Maesano on health and climate
change reminded us not only our role in tempering the ill effects
of human industry on the planet but the detrimental and widespread
effects on our health that we are often oblivious to.
- Blockchain Demystified
Our first session was a great success. Tamara Helenius presented
"Blockchain Demystified" and got us all abuzz about this
paradigm-shifting technology. Tamara broke down the otherwise
baffling structure of the technology and its potential and had
even the luddites among us on the edge of our seats.
To learn more or join an upcoming session, email us.