COMMUNITY CONVERSATION WITH DOMINIQUE BUTLER
Dominique aka @spacemami is a Space Science Communicator from Pasadena, California, advocating for diversity in Children’s STEAM Education. We recently encountered each other on the internet, Dominique reached out curious to join our presence & breathwork offering. In addition to her Solar System Ambassadorship with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab she is also student at Harvard Extension School, studying Astronomy and Social Justice.
What was your last really good idea?
Starting a S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math) children’s book series on my IGTV called “Storytime with Spacemami”. I had the idea at the very beginning of the pandemic, because I wanted to find a way to continue outreach with the kids, as well as help support teachers and families. However, the year took us into survival mode, so I temporarily shelved it. I’m so happy with the timing and how it’s unfolded. I was inspired by one of my favorite childhood shows, “Reading Rainbow”, as well as the outreach I’ve been able to do with NASA-JPL and other Space organizations. I prioritize reading diverse stories because it’s important that children see themselves represented in a way that inspires them to dream big, which I’ve seen such a need for through my work within the field.
Tell us about NASA’s Jet Propulsion Ambassadorship & your work with S.T.E.A.M—
The opportunities I’ve had as a NASA-JPL Solar System Ambassador are a privilege that I’m still in awe of, and so profoundly grateful for. Because this is a volunteer outreach position, I’ve been able to grow within the program as I continue my education at Harvard Extension School and take on other opportunities that have built my experience. My studies are in Astronomy and Social Justice, but my focus is promoting diversity within children’s STEAM education. Early in my journey I read this quote by Michelle Obama that really inspired me to direct my activism towards children’s education. She said “Like many of you, I believe that education is the single most important civil-rights issue that we face today,” and that has really been a driving force in my work. Every time I witness a kid seeing the moon through a telescope for the first time, or answer one of their excited questions,(they love to ask about black holes and of course, aliens!) I’m reminded that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. I think it’s easy to forget that children can also feel helpless, especially during a time like we’ve just experienced. I’ve found that my ability to empower them through Space Science education has helped me grow into my own power and confidence. Helping them to understand how the Universe works, and reminding them that they have a purposeful existence and limitless potential is a responsibility I take seriously, and am so grateful for.
Do you think of space as an expanding void or is it contained?
I think it’s really easy to feel like Space is an absolute void, but to me it’s the exact opposite! In 1929, Edwin Hubble found that the Universe is infinitely expanding through his observations at Mt. Wilson Observatory in Pasadena (we’re known as the City of Astronomy! And roses!) which caused Einstein to change his Theory of Relativity to support an expanding Universe. As humans, we have this same ability to infinitely expand. Our Universe is full of questions that scientists are forever in the search of answers for. As we move through life, I think we undergo the same process, searching for ourselves and clarity as we continue to expand into our own limitless potential.
What is your most beloved experience in nature?
Oahu is a second home to me, so my most treasured experiences in nature are there. Floating in the ocean on a secluded North Shore beach by myself and with people I love - the salt water draws everything out and restores me in a way nothing else seems to match. Also, the first time I saw the stars in the clear night sky on North Shore brought me to tears!
How do you balance looking upward and staying grounded?
In all honesty, looking upward is what grounds me. Space helps me make sense of life here on Earth in a way that grounds me because it’s a reminder that everything is as vast as the expanding Universe, and as tiny as an atom. I think understanding that we are “everything and nothing” at the same time is what I pull from looking upward. Even how time moves and is measured differently throughout the Universe helps bring me perspective about time passing. We’re all on our own unique paths and there beauty and peace in trusting life’s timing and process.
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of knowing and living in my purpose here on Earth. I realize this is something that people are in constant search of, and to me it’s really a privilege to know what I’m doing and why, with certainty. Watching my purpose continue to evolve has consistently made me proud of myself and thankful for the opportunities I’ve had to grow.
What excites you today?
Being a part of this conversation series!
Share a vision of your current dreams--
I think that my current reality is very much reflective of my dreams. I’m more grounded, grateful, confident and at peace than I ever have been, and that’s really what I would dream of for myself at any time. An understanding that I am also living the dreams of my ancestors is also a huge part of my own vision – I’m guided by them, and humbled to be standing on the shoulders of giants.
If you had the chance, would you go to the moon?
Yes!! The idea used to terrify me because I deal with anxiety, that thankfully breathwork has helped me control. Once I learned how to properly breathe, I realized a lot of my fears aren’t as big as they seemed. So absolutely yes, I’m going to the moon! I have this recurring daydream where I take a nap on the Moon and wake up to a view of Earth. Also, I’m a hopeless romantic and I don’t think anything would be better than a date to the Moon.
What are the top three ON&ON products you want to live with?
On& On Frankincense hand & body wash is gorgeous in every way On & On Hanalei hand dyed silk pillowcase (for my nap on the Moon!) Moon Juice Collagen Protect
Thank You Dominique!!
Dominique!'S ON & ON FAVORITES