#PrankitFWD

This lady’s a waitress and had pretty challenging times growing up.
Despite everything she now runs her own non profit in her spare time, helping people with eating disorders recover through yoga. So the team at prank it forward decided to give her the best shift ever as she gives so much to other people.

And on the PrankitFWD website is says ‘This April, Break is using its prank powers for good as we unleash a handful of positive pranks. For every 1,000 views we’ll donate $1 to the social change organization, DoSomething.org.’ What a great idea for utilising video content for fundraising. They’ve had 20M views so far so that’s £20,000 donated.

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

United breaks guitars: a brand not being #kindaware

A musician named Dave Carroll had difficulty with United Airlines in 2009. They damaged his treasured $3500 Taylor guitar during a flight, very annoying. How did they damage it? The United baggage handlers were literally throwing his guitar around.

Dave Carroll spent 9 months trying to get United to pay for damages to fix his guitar, caused by their extreme negligence, seemed only fair. United refused though and Dave let them know he was left with no choice other than to create a music video exposing their lack of cooperation. The manager’s response “Good luck with that one, pal,” so he posted a retaliatory video on You Tube, which has since received over 12 million hits!

United Airlines obviously then contacted the musician and attempted settlement in exchange for pulling the video. Dave’s response “Good luck with that one, pal.” Doh.

Taylor Guitars sent Dave not 1 but 2 new custom guitars in appreciation for the product recognition from the video, which has led to a sharp increase in orders. United didn’t fully appreciate that Dave Carroll was a travelling musician with opinions plus access to creative people, who would all volunteer to help him with his protest song.

It’s interesting to see the new ventures Dave Carroll has since invested in, with Resolution1 and Grapevine cloud based solutions, to help companies manage customer complaints better and be more #kindaware

Jason McElwain the autistic basketball player: Inspiration or disability stereotype?

In 2006 President Bush met Jason McElwain the 17-year-old with autism who played an extraordinary game of basketball (scoring 20 points in 4 minutes).

When I watched the footage of the game, something made me feel a bit uneasy. Jason clearly loved basketball but he had to sit and watch his peers. He clearly had the talent and passion, so why wasn’t he allowed to play before?

It’s the end of the film which is so touching though, when everyone gives Jason the recognition he no doubt deserved. In a more recent interview by CBS News from 2010 Jason said ‘it was the support and acceptance he felt that night that made him the man he is today’. And that the world would be a better place if it could be the way the gym was that night.

Here’s what Jason has been up to since.

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.

Kindaware: Karen Klein bullying isn’t ok

When I was 15 a new girl, Tina, started at my school. She didn’t know anyone yet and was being bullied on the bus by a girl our age. Lydia was literally twice our height or maybe that’s just how it felt. I didn’t know Tina at the time but couldn’t stand listening to what Lydia and her gang of friends were saying, so I stepped in ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all’. Some may say it’s interfering but in my book bullying isn’t ok (no matter how subtle). Tina’s still one of my best friends and always will be.

This leads me into Kindness Girl who is one of my favourite bloggers (if not the favourite). If you read her blog you’ll see why straight away, pure inspiration. She’s recently posted about Karen Klein the hearing impaired Grandmother who was the bus monitor for the Greece School District in Greece, N.Y. She was viciously bullied by school kids. For a fuller round up the Huffington post have reported on it.

How the clip went viral is quite interesting. It was originally posted to the social news site Reddit, where it reached the front page reserved for the most up-voted stories.Reddit user razorsheldon created a call to arms in outrage about what happened and the support globally is touching to see.

The reaction has been similar to the London Riots, another Reddit user set up a donations page in support for Karen, which has generated $650,000. Southwest airlines even kindly offered to send Karen and 9 others to DisneyLand.

The Kony video received criticism for being too polished and sensational, now I’m not saying the Karen Klein video was orchestrated but it does make a great anti bullying campaign. Kindness Girl has created a campaign called ‘I Am Kind’ as a response, kindness can change everything right? If you’d like to join the ‘I am Kind’ Facebook page, you can here.

The message – be ‘Kindaware’.

Kony vs. Clooney

KONY

Awareness: We all know of the KONY video (Make Kony Famous), which is the most viral in history, to date. A major criticism of the Invisible Children campaign was that the LRA had significantly weakened in recent years though, and the organisation overstated the army’s current power. Oh and then Jason Russell’s hospitalisation for brief psychosis of course, which has naturally undermined the campaign for lots of people.

Action: they have since come out with a less glorified follow up video (Beyond Famous), which has received 1.5 million views compared to the original film’s 87 million, which is a shame as phase 2 is even more important. I’ll be keeping at eye out for April 20th to see what the impact of ‘Cover the night’ is.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_Ue6REkeTA&feature=player_embedded]

Rehabilitation: Phase 1 accomplished its role in making Kony famous globally but what else can be done, other than capturing him (which may be unlikely). For a good round-up, check out this interview with Finck from Invisible Children headquarters, as they’re doing some great work in Uganda i.e. rehabilitation in communities and investment in education with their amazing Schools for Schools programme.

Prevention: They are now working with local partners tracking LRA movements, using an early warning radio network for local communities, so they have time to escape.

Collective responsibility: The ultimate dream is that ‘We’re a global community protecting each other’ (Luis Moreno-Ocampo ICC)

CLOONEY

Awareness: I’m sure you’ve all seen Clooney’s very visible arrest orchestrated for the cameras for exposure. I have to say, I did cynically think Jason Russell’s odd behaviour was done for the same reason, to help with phase 2.

Prevention: Clooney has taken an innovative approach to trying to prevent atrocities.  He came up with the idea to use advanced satellite imagery to monitor areas, the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP). He spoke to Google and the satellite company DigitalGlobe to help set it up and it’s funded by him. The team can issue a warning, giving an opportunity for many to flee, meaning they can have an impact in saving lives too.

Documentation: The imagery is so accurate it can be used to monitor massacres and mass graves. So it will help gather evidence which can be used in future war crimes tribunals, for Sudanese leaders.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=p89OuPODBMM#!]

Conclusion: It’s too early to tell whether Kony v.s Clooney has a conclusive hero, so I’ll be revisiting this debate. Great to hear any thoughts…..