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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.

Past Sessions

July 2018
- 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).

June 2018
- 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.

May 2018
- 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 thoroughly engaging.

April 2018
- 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.

March 2018
- 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 distinction.

February 2018
- #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!

January 2018
- 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.

December 2017
- 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 quantified.

November 2017
- 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.

October 2017
- 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.