• Ngaio Simmons

Like watching a Rube Goldberg machine

You know when you’re watching a Rube Goldberg machine and there’s that feeling throughout the process that everything is following a neat sequence of events? Like when the bucket of water falls into the pail which then spills onto a pen which then pierces a balloon and the air from the balloon leads to something else and so on and so forth till we arrive at the desired result? It’s kind of a nice feeling, isn’t it? To see something that, after the initial prompt, followed this kind of natural order of events.

I think of that when remembering this past MMTM session. Some teams had already started filming and were in the process of doing so in that same session. Others were still deep in the writing process and were finalizing plot, casting, and setting. Other folks were picking up the pace on editing software and learning the skills needed to ensure their film looked and sounded the way they wanted it to. Throughout each part of the process, questions ultimately arise: how will each action carried out today contribute to what they are trying to say with these films? What steps are needed to bring those visions to life? How will this work translate into something meaningful and how will they ensure that meaning comes across? These questions and the entire process reminds everyone involved that everything being done in the space is important, necessary, and a part of the overall mission to tell stories worth telling. Every part of the process is significant. Every thought and action counts. All of this will lead to something.


Once the session was over, we were privileged enough to welcome in some young people who are doing important work with the Girls Opportunity Alliance. This is where the Rube Goldberg machine example from earlier comes in. Throughout the day, I watched as teams went from filming, writing, and familiarizing themselves with equipment to becoming full practicing camera people, directors, boom operators, and interviewers through this filming project with the Girls Opportunity Alliance. On top of this praxis-like transition the MMTM participants made throughout the day, the young women being interviewed also contributed to the overall mission of the org, the space, and what I suspect a few of the films being produced in this program are about. Each person interviewed had something to say about what it means to be a girl in Hawaiʻi, the lessons that Hawaiʻi can teach the world, and the importance of listening to and learning from young women and girls if a decolonized, equitable future is ever a thing we want to be a part of.

Much like MMTM training leading to this opportunity for the participants to put skills into action with these interviews, the work these young women had done with this organization and their communities has lead to this day, where they can tell their stories and hopefully keep carrying out that work on a much larger scale once the media is released into the world. Each camp had a headwater and both eventually found their way to the estuary. Each river worked its way down until finally finding a place to land and make its home.


Each Rube Goldberg machine really did its thing.