Personal social responsibility:why i gave my bike away

Last year I started this blog to up my ‘personal social responsibility’. I’m treating it as an experiment: an exploration of the power of kindness. I volunteered with Spots of Time in the summer and it was amazing to see the difference a pampering day made to the elderly.

Communities can be a powerful entity both destructive and supportive. Living in London often means you don’t know your neighbour. I’ve been thinking about who in our community we know. I used to live in a small town (well village which is now a town) and everyone knew each other.

So…I’ve decided to expand my community and not just where I live. Through my blog I’ve ‘met’ people in the US doing amazing projects on kindness and lots of people in the UK. I’m doing an event in April which will raise money for different communities doing ‘good’ things (social enterprises mainly).

And I’m looking at possessions I don’t really need anymore and am finally doing something productive with them. I’m spreading a little bit of random acts of kindness by giving them away to someone who really needs it, so it will hopefully help them.

I put an ad on Gumtree saying someone could have my bike for free, they just needed to let me know why they wanted it.

The aim was to pick someone who it would make the biggest difference for. I got over 70 responses and stopped the ad, so I could try to get to know a shortlist of people a bit better.

Sheri and some of her family came to pick my bike up this morning, including her gorgeous 1 year old. She looked at my blog and kindly told me about a community project, The Workshop, run in West Norwood that she thought I’d like.

Sheri strongly believes in the power of communities herself and volunteers some of her time to teach beauty & makeup, for people who couldn’t afford it otherwise (I found this out afterwards).

The experiment in ‘personal social responsibility’ is just beginning….

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.

GOOD – pilot campus Ambassadors programme


Good on campus

If you haven’t heard of Good, check them out. They’re a brilliant global community of ‘people who give a damn’.

They’re looking for college students to form Good ‘super members’ – who all are united by their desire to change the world.

These GOOD super-members will lead the charge in expanding the GOOD global community. They’ll organise student innovators to collaborate and collectively drive change.

I asked Good if they’re offering any incentives to people ‘Our incentives are mostly based around professional development. We feel this is a great opportunity for students to gain leadership skills and to have a hand in shaping a program.’ Hannah Wasserman

Hannah’s informed me they were originally looking for US students only, but they’ve received lots of interest outside the US, so they’re currently considering expanding the scheme. What a great way to build the GOOD community and mobilise the masses. Great outreach strategy, for content creation too (and very cost effective).

Mary Portas and Margate – what went wrong?

Mary Portas, the retail guru, was meant to give free advice to towns that successfully bid for cash grants from the Government – to revive the fortunes of their high streets. Sounds great.

Margate was one of those towns set to get £100,000. Four key people to Margate’s successful bid have resigned though, amongst accusations of bullying and ‘personal interest’. They felt Mary Portas was more interested in being on TV than helping Margate, which seems a bit odd. It obviously didn’t help that she had said: ‘We either let the cameras in with me, or I go back on the train and some other town gets it.’ She later admitted she had made a mistake saying this.

For a considered viewpoint on this issue, from a man who’s all about community, follow Dan Thompson @artistmakers. He felt the original Margate pilot bid below really demonstrated their passion in getting people together to celebrate their town ‘all singing from the same sheet’ but that ‘sustainable, lasting change has to come from local community, not be imposed’.

So why did Margate go wrong?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qifCfjB_Wo&list=PLFA20EB1EBF32C5FA&index=8&feature=plpp_video]

 

Anthony At Your Service – this is cool

I love it when people send me stuff, thanks Richard Langrish for sharing this.

Anthony At Your Service is such a brilliant idea to integrate Anthony, who has autism, into the community. Anthony, with the help of his assistant and mum, now runs a delivery service with a smile.

I particularly like the the high dive bit, everyone needs to be challenged. A great film which challenges our prejudice.

I think Anthony and I would get on well, I love swimming too.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yv5nzgrYBIQ&feature=player_embedded]

The parenting community: Brit Mums Live 2012

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I went to Brit Mums Live on Fri 22nd & Saturday 23rd June. I’m not a mum. I’d love to be but I’m a little way off. I do however love my 6 nieces and nephews to death but I’ve never changed a nappy – that’s gross.

I went as I’m really interested in different communities and ‘tribes’. It’s something I’ll keep coming back to on this blog. I also freelance and would like to build relationships with some parenting bloggers, for brands & campaigns in the future. How can you start to do this without actually meeting and finding out what motivates people?

I felt a bit like a fraud though so I kept quite a low profile. When I did have a chat to people everyone was so friendly. In particular Carly from Not A Nottinghill Mum (correction Jane is NANM who I met. Carly sponsored her to attend) Cat from Cat Dean and the lovely Jeen Vojta from the family run business Vitamix.

The ticket price was approx £70 for a delegate, it was £350 for a PR company or brand to attend so quite a big leap but great value for money for ‘normal’ people, which I guess is the point – make it affordable.

They did have major sponsors though such as Lego, Vitamix, Butlin’s, Disney, Johnson’s and Google+ were also their to pimp their product. So although they made the ticket price pretty affordable, they can’t have done too badly from the event (+35 sponsors)

It was interesting to see the ‘ambassador’ programmes some brands offered and the most fun was with Piggy Bank Kids, check them out, they’re doing great things. Lego and Piggy Bank Kids created the most buzz no doubt, with their creative ideas on the day which people were hash tagging, nice touch & effort #spotthepig  #LEGODUPLOcreativecakes

Britmums & The Brewery thoroughly spoilt everyone, from constant refreshments, cakes, lunch, sweets, prosseco, to the heavy weight goody bags at the end (they literally hurt your arm carrying them). The workshops throughout the 2 days covered off a broad agenda but I didn’t learn anything massively new, they were insightful though. I missed the SEO workshop, which was the main one I wanted to see. Luckily they’ll be uploading all the presentations.

The keynote speeches on the Saturday towards the end were shortlisted bloggers, reading out a blog post they’d been selected for. I thought it may feel a bit self indulgent but they were actually very emotional and people walked out crying. ‘You have to make people  laugh or cry’ was a common bit of advice from the weekend.

Although I felt like I was snooping on a special day for very special people, mums, I’m glad I got to see the community that exists. Brit Mums started in 2008 and had grown to a tight-knit community of 3500 parents. Becoming a mother is no doubt the biggest change in your life and it’s great to see mumpreneurs and the support that’s available.

Addition: Idea for next year’s Brit Mums Live 2013

Lots of attendees talked about the incestuous nature and wanting to widen their reach and community beyond parents or parenting bloggers. Could there be different sessions and sections, split into crafts, fashion, lifestyle, food, tech, inviting non-parenting bloggers. Sponsors and goodie bags could then be tailored by these passions.

Collaboration

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.

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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.