Triodos Bank on growth – forget the numbers

Triodos have nailed the tone of this film, their mission is to make money work for positive social, environmental and cultural change and this couldn’t come across more. It’s not just about investing in the development of more products, more buildings, more companies for shareholder value but investing in smarter solutions that help create efficiency or social impact.

They call their approach old fashioned in their mission, it seems a pretty innovative financial approach to me.

Mos Def being force-fed to raise awareness of plight of Guantanamo hunger strikers during Ramadan fast

This video is bloody horrible and hard to watch but that’s the point. It was made by the human rights group Reprieve, to try to urge Obama to scrap his government’s policy of force-feeding Guantanamo prisoners during the month-long Muslim fast of Ramadan. They’re force fed twice a day and it takes up to 2hours typically to do. Brutal and a very good campaign.

Beabequ (blogger) reports that it’s ‘breaching the human rights of 130 detainees out of 166, who are reported to be on hunger strike. Over a half (86 out of the 166) detainees have now been cleared for release’.

They still remain in the Guantanamo due to the US Government putting a halt on any release efforts being made. So as a sign of protest ‘the detainees whose sentences have been lengthened for a number of years (some facing as long as 11 years in prison) without trial, are now seeking a way out by starving themselves to death’. They obviously see it as their only way out now.

Maybe Obama should test out being force feed #standfast

Foodbanks – an unlikely football club’s community programme doing good in Peckham

FoodBank

Millwall FC are ‘notorious for being the toughest and most violent set of football fans in England’. Seems scary. I don’t like football so this isn’t my opinion, just research from ‘The foodbankers‘. The concept for their blog is a a very topical idea (content about foodbanks in London), run by postgraduate journalism students at City University; Rachel Bayne, Tom Knowles, Charlotte Rettie and Henry Vane.

In 2009 there were 6 foodbanks feeding 400 people in the capital. Figures from the leading food bank charity, the Trussell Trust, reveal there are 325 foodbanks nationwide now feeding 340,000 (40 in the capital feeding 34,000). Foodbanks were set up to help those who were poorest in the community but they’re not to serve as an extra arm of the government, which it seems they now are.

Peckham foodbank’s co-ordinator Felicia Boshorin feels a change to benefits is the biggest reason for people suddenly needing to rely on food banks, the Foodbankers report. Often people have switched from Employment and Support Allowance to Jobseeker’s allowance, and will have up to four weeks when one set of benefits has stopped and money from the new allowance has yet to come through. They are unlikely to have any savings to get them through that period.

Rising costs of food and fuel combined with static income, high unemployment as well as benefit changes are causing more and more people to come to foodbanks for help.

Millwall are an unlikely supporter of foodbanks with their reputation, however they’re THE only football club foodbank. Their supporters bring food items to matches and it’s then delivered to Peckham foodbank providing extra support amongst a cash strapped local authority. Well done Millwall!

Maybe more public mass scale events should start doing this, the O2 springs to mind.

The truck that’s spreading happiness

Whether you like Coca-Cola or not, I’m sure most people will like this.
They’ve created a ‘happiness machine on wheels’ which can surely only be a good thing?
I like the way the machine is now portable so you don’t know where it will strike next (the happiness drink vending machine from last year racked up nearly 5million views).
Roll on random acts of kindness!

The pothole gardener, turning crappy into happy – TedxHackney

Steve Wheen @stevewheen – Holes of happiness – TedxHackney event April 14th

Tickets for this event were ‘sold out in two hours, with 300 people waiting after the initial sale. There were queues of people hoping to attend as late as the night before the event.’ The Hackney Citizen also interviewed Daniel Vais who curated the event. His enthusiasm for Hackney really shines through, which you can read here.

Steve Wheen was one of the speakers and is a freelance creative, so if you need his creative talents contact him here stevewheen@me.com

He’s been deemed the ‘Banksy of guerilla gardening’. He’s behind a cool project ‘The pothole gardener’ where he plants flowers in some of the worse potholes, to help create happiness ‘turning crappy into happy’.

He recently teamed up with Time Out London to recreate a famous London landmark, the London Eye, replacing pods with pots. Worth checking out his video of his trip to Milan for Design week too.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zz1cMAcFx9E&feature=player_embedded]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ce5b2LsBUjU&feature=youtu.be]

Happiness trigger – TedxHackney

Eri Tsutsumi @eritsutsumi – Happiness trigger – TedxHackney event April 14th

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At the TedxHackney Happiness event on April 14th Eri explored what makes us happy, the happiness trigger, which is ultimately ourselves. She’s doing an MA at Central St Martins in Innovation Management, her aim is to find an evaluation method, for the effectiveness of experiential social design. Great stuff and reminds me of Candy Chang, whose work is pioneering in social design.

Eri did a heartfelt community project ‘We Are with You’ which I love, to send good vibes to Japan (in the wake of the 2011 earthquake in Tohoku), it helped to make a lot of people happy.

Eri has kindly shared what makes her happy here. 

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.

The Kindness Offensive – 60 second interview

David Goodfellow from The Kindness Offensive kindly agreed to do a ’60 seconds’ interview for my first blog post.
So a big thank you to him and hope you enjoy the below. Keep an eye out for the amazing Kindness Offensive events in 2012 and they’re even talking to the Government!
If you’ve done any random acts of kindness drop me a line, would love to hear about them.
The Kinder bus
Q1/I love all your ideas, great experiential ideas with really strong content created, who comes up with them?
A/Thank you. Some ideas we develop amongst ourselves, while others are brought to us. Early on we laid down our aims and then proceeded to put our backs into it; the ideas have always flowed naturally as a result.

Q2/The pitch video for the White Stuff Route master bus was obviously a winner. You were a chef before, what was everyone else’s backgrounds before TKO?
A/We’re proud to have a volunteer base from extremely diverse backgrounds. The core members include a folk musician, philosophy students and an author.

Q3/Was there something that inspired you to set up The Kindness Offensive and is it your full time professions now?
A/We started TKO to test out some positive thinking principles; after a discussion the three of us realised that we’d never really had a go at the ‘classic’ activities that are reported to ‘truly’ make people happy. What if you actually woke up one morning and started acting out of character, doing good things that the day before you would have never considered doing? Well that’s what we did and TKO is what happened.

Q4/Are there any companies you’d particularly like to work with in future?
A/I don’t think I’ll get a good nights sleep till we see the Nike Air Kindness, Coca Cola Kindness six packs and of course the Oakley TKO Frogskins.

Q5/You’ve been going since 2008, what have you found the hardest the last 4 years?
A/Group dynamics; growing a project like this has meant a constant stream of new faces and an upward spiralling set of standards that have been hard for everyone to keep up with.

Q6/Is there anything TKO need in 2012 to make things easier?
A/Premises and funding. We are working on both and feel we have excellent prospects.

Q7/How do you commercially survive?
A/Point three of our three point constitution says that all our activity has to be free to the public. So we never seek donations, we have no PayPal button on our website and no one will shake a can in your face at our events. We have survived thus far, mainly through our partnerships with companies.

Q8/The Hazelwick school kindness offensive is a great way to demonstrate consideration and being thoughtful to others, outside of R.E., would you do it across other schools?
A/We are currently consulting with the government about a proposal to develop the schools aspect of what we do. So watch this space.