Action Aid blogger meet up – 4th June #actionaidmeetup

I’ve just been invited to my first blogger meet up by Action Aid. For old hands to this sort of thing it’s no big deal but I’m pretty excited.  If you have a blog and fancy coming you can register here.

They want us to come together to meet with fellow bloggers and tweeters to ‘discuss the importance of food, both in the world’s richest nations, where we can enjoy it in abundance, and in poorer countries, where finding each meal is the centre of existence for many’.

There are some great speakers on subjects as varied as how to cook food brilliantly, to what it’s like to live in a country where millions don’t have enough of it.

When:  4 June 2013

Where: The Crown Tavern, 43 Clerkenwell Green, Clerkenwell, London, EC1R 0EG

Time: 6pm – 8.30pm

Who are the speakers?

Fay Ripley – a British actress of Cold Feet fame will be talking about her passion for food, as well as her experience of visiting Tanzania – where millions of people go hungry every year – and where she also sponsors a child.

Joy Mghoi Mwakisambi – a young campaigner who is visiting from Kenya will speak about the major issues affecting the poorest people in her country, and how we can all add our voices to the Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign, which is calling for G8 leaders to tackle the broken food system.

Rachel Beer – founder of the popular #NFPTweetup. An expert in putting on engaging events linking good causes with sympathetic online communities, she will look at the mutually beneficial relationship emerging between charities and bloggers.

What a great line up! Looking forward to meeting some like minded people and discussions about something which unites us all.

Playing for change – music for positive social change

Music has the power to break down boundaries, some say music is a religion. But unlike religion, it has the universal power to unite us as one global community, despite our beliefs, economic status or distance.

Playing for Change was set up as a music movement, watch the video below, which has over 46million views – surely proof that such a movement has mass support. They set up a mobile recording studio and cameras initially, to travel the globe recording musicians.

Now musicians from all over the world perform benefit concerts. The money raised helps to build music and art schools in under priviledged communities and really makes a difference.

They also do partnerships with brands. Okaidi designed a special line of PFC t-shirts to be sold in over 700 stores worldwide. They committed 1 euro per T-Shirt sold to go to supporting the PFC musicians and music education programs. It doesn’t stop there.

There’s also now a Playing for Change Day on Sept 21. Last year they had 225 music events in 41 countries, on 6 continents which raised nearly  $70k, money which also helps support the programmes.

Music really does have the power to change the world and create positive social change.

Collaboration between generations – is it important?

How many elderly people do you know, other than in your family? I have to say 0, which is pretty awful but probably quite common living in london.

Global Net 21 report the following which is a nice sum up: ‘Society’s elders are being left behind the advancing technology that the younger generation is fully embracing. Equally, younger people are missing out on vital wisdom won from hard lessons learnt by their elders. Can the younger generation upgrade the older one? Can the older generation help younger people tap into wisdom appropriate for their era?’

Empowering change through collaboration 

I’m going to attend their online seminar tomorrow night investigating this and the experts look interesting. If you’d like to join it’s at 7.30. Collaboration between generations is surely the essence of society?

Collaboration is a hot topic for this year’s Social Media Week, so keep an eye out during 24-28th September. 90% of events are free, all you have to do is register and select the events you’d like to attend, from August 28th.

Social Enterprise: Chris Haughton’s Fair Trade Rugs

[slideshow]It was Fairtrade fortnight from the 27th February to 11th March and there were lots of events at The People’s Supermarket. I went to one on ‘Fair Trade in Design’.

Ki’pe’peo Designs were there on March 5th, they produce handmade cards from recycled material, made by women in Kenya. They had a challenge, they were looking for new designs something more contemporary but needed the women to still be able to make them by hand and for them to remain authentic. What a perfect pairing with Chris Haughton who’s an incredible designer and illustrator (and also an author of award winning childrens books). He was there talking about Node and kindly agreed to help Ki’pe’peo. You can see initial results in the gallery above, a sneak preview before they go on sale. Photos are by Carolin Weinkopf.

Chris has always been active in fair trade and Node was set up, as images of his rug designs became popular on the web, and were picked up on lots of blogs: ‘designers were emailing to ask if they could design their own rugs and buyers were emailing to ask if they could buy them. Node was set up to help facilitate this.’

Node’s aim is to connect a global network of designers and artists with traditional Nepalese carpet makers, so beautiful unique handmade rugs can be created. Employees are given fair wages and taught literacy & skills. Their work also help support a school of 260 children and an orphanage of nineteen. The rugs are doing a whole lot of good #socent

Dave Eggers’ TED wish

The Times wrote of Dave: “many writers, having written a first best-seller, might see it as a nice way to start a career. He started a movement instead.”

Dave is a creative genius check out his bio here and Open Upon A School. I’m going to keep this short and sweet, watch this video. His talk is very charming and he gets a standing ovation which is so touching. It’s no surprise considering what he’s achieved and started though:
”open minds and open ears and boundless compassion….some of these kids just don’t plain know how good they are, how smart and how much they have to say. You can tell them and shine that light on them, one human interaction at a time.”

Hackney Pirates have taken inspiration from this, to carry on the movement here in East London.

[ted id=233]

How the social enterprise Hackney Pirates change children’s lives

Hackney Pirates blackboard roomThe Hackney Pirates is an innovative education project, developing literacy and creativity in young people, by giving them one to one attention in an unconventional learning environment.’ They help 9-12 years old each day from 3.30-6.30 and rely on volunteers so they can provide one to one support.

On April 25th I was invited to the Young Pirate Apprentice t-shirt event, as I donated some money through their Buzzbnk campaign. Hackney Pirates collaborated with Enabling Enterprise for it, a not-for-profit organisation aiming to ‘equip young people with the skills, aspirations and experiences to succeed in life’. This really is a massive thing, they and Hackney Pirates are CHANGING lives.

Hackney PiratesThe t-shirt project ran for a few months where the children worked on the designs for their t-shirt, market research, negotiating t-shirt deals, planning a sales strategy and organising the launch event.

Each week they were visited by an entrepreneur and the children presented their t-shirt designs at the launch event. I kid you not, I was very close to tears a few times at the event. You can clearly see the confidence the children have developed and you can see how it’s changing their lives, for good. They’re being taught creativity, entrepreneurship and are improving their literacy at the same time. Camilla and Catriona are such amazing people, giving these children faith in their abilities. I bet the kids feel like there’s now no limit to what they can do.

Hackney Pirates t-shirtThis is the t-shirt I’ve bought and you can buy one here if you’d like to help support them. They’re also looking for volunteers and you can sign up here.


Very glad to have recently stumbled across Candy Chang. What an inspirational artist. Her work is well worth looking at here.

Candy observed that today we have more tools to reach out across the world, so why is it hard to reach out to our local neighbourhoods. In her MA and work she explores how we can ‘better design our public spaces to share information, self-organise, and become effective agents in our communities’. Love it!

Interest in Candy was heightened from working on the launch of East Village last year, for a property developer. Their aim is to help build and nurture a neighbourhood from 2013. It will be interesting to see how far they push this and actually go about shaping a community, as the techniques used by Sophie Ramsbotham & Alex Furunes could come in handy. They’re students (from the Architectural Association School of Architecture) running a regular stall on Berwick Street market. I popped to see them on the stall, after hearing about their work. They’ve been collecting drawings, comments from local traders and doing video interviews.

Their project is called Positive Dialogues and they hope to give a voice to locals’ concerns, so the ‘planned redevelopment of Berwick street market, doesn’t just go to the highest bidder but addresses the needs of the community.’ Why can’t public space be better designed so that it’s not necessarily allocated to the highest bidder but also reflects and facilitates needs of a community?

Sophie and Alex are doing a great job in helping to make this happen, along with people like Candy. One project I particularly like, is where she took an abandoned house in her neighborhood in New Orleans and turned it into a giant chalkboard. Residents could write on the wall and detail what was important to them – ‘Before I die’ is definitely worth checking out here. 

‘The wall became a space where we could learn the hopes and dreams of the people around us. Before I Die transformed a neglected space into a constructive one to help improve our neighborhood and our personal well-being.’

Another project ‘Looking for Love Again’ cleverly extracts themes, as they appear from people’s memories, which can be used as a public focus group, for influencing ideas and what then happens to the building.


Learning about social influencers like this, led me to attending a Responsible Business event in March, where I had the pleasure of meeting Think Public. They’re a social design agency and do some truly great work, through collaboration and the exchange of ideas:

‘The people who use and deliver the services, have the experience and ideas to make them better. After all who knows the strengths and weaknesses of the service better than the people who use’.

It’s good to see that the art of collaboration, really consulting and involving people, brings about such great things.