Return to the Mothership

Blog beginnings

When I started this blog, I had a hypothesis behind it but, as the years went by, I continued to write about the things that interested me, without consciously checking them against those founding ideas. What I did realise is that there were some emerging themes: creativity, enterprise and wellness.

Now, I can finally articulate what underpins these potentially disparate things – sustainable living.

Sustainability begins with me

In this context, it’s sustainable living on a very personal level – how can we, as creative people, respond to this calling while earning a heathy income and taking care of ourselves, so that we may continue to create (and live). All these three things are interdependent.

Those who’ve been reading the blog for a while might be bored by now of my insistence that it all starts with self. I truly believe we can’t effectively help others until we’ve helped ourselves. However, what I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, is sustainable living on a larger scale.

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Buy African: Stitch Sainte Luce Embroidered Fashion and Home Furnishings

I managed to escape my stand at the Women of the World festival marketplace last weekend, to have a look at all the other beautiful crafts on offer. I was particularly mesmerised by one incredibly vibrant table – the photo above represents merely a quarter of the space!

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Stitch Sainte Luce produces hand-embroidered belts, bracelets, cushion covers, tablet and e-reader cases, bags, purses, cards and more.

 

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Interview with Social Entrepreneur Laura Marano of Green-Safari

I’m happy to introduce you all to Laura Marano, the driving force behind Green-Safari, a social enterprise that offers volunteer-tourism packages in Tsavo East, Kenya. With Green-Safari, not only do you get to experience the beautiful fauna and flora of one of Kenya’s largest national parks, along with a stint at the Coast for some sea and sand – you also engage with local communities and support local social enterprises which contribute to the local community infrastructure (e.g. schools, sanitation, farming practices). Furthermore, Green-Safari is working on making the beauty of our wilderness accessible to all, no matter your abilities or diverse needs.

In this interview, Laura shares how she’s gotten her social business off the ground. It’s an inspiring story of how you can turn a negative situation into a fulfilling career by pursuing your passions, taking initiative and believing in yourself.

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Inspired: CHOOLIPS Diamond Petals Golden Coast Collection, Spring Summer 2013

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The world I choose – a Think Act Vote Futures Interview

Think Act Vote (?!X) is my kind of initiative. Using creativity and culture, the think-tank explores and expresses issues of sustainability, citizenship, politics and essentially, change. Most importantly, they remind us that change is in our own hands. We have agency – to dream and to take action towards making those dreams come true.

Recently, Think Act Vote asked me to contribute to their Futures Interview series and share my dream of the future. This is it.

What’s the future you choose? Share it with Think Act Vote here and check out the many inspiring visions.

Week in review and a time for action

Whu25s

What about us?
This past Friday, young Nigerians around the world demanded of their presidential candidates, "what about us?"

Forming the majority of the population and over half of registered voters in the upcoming elections, Nigerian youth recognised and asserted their need to be heard and addressed. The What about us? campaign called for the first ever youth-focused Presidential Debate. Organised by Nigerian Youth empowerment groups in Nigeria and the Diaspora, though diverse, they share a common belief that the time for change in Nigeria is now. And that young people have the power to make it happen.

I missed the live streaming of the debate but I witnessed the momentum in advance of the event via social networks. Did you catch it? What were your thoughts?

Columbia University African Economic Forum
I also caught some snippets from the 8th annual Columbia University African Economic Forum, via Twitter. Below are a few from twitterer, Karen Attiah:

"We cannot just wait around for good leaders to emerge. We've got to start doing things today. Lets empower people – Deverajan"

"Audience comment: If Africans abroad stopped looking at ourselves as insignificant compared to our governments, we could make a difference"

"Financially, borrowing money maybe looks cheap, but the stigma of begging at the World Bank every year is more expensive – Moyo"

"Fundamental problem with aid is that it severs the social contract between people and the govts who are to provide public goods -Moyo"

 "What are we as educated Africans, and the intl community who cares about Africa, going to DO? -Moyo"

"This PR strategy of convincing us as Africans that we cannot contribute to global development -Moyo"

It's interesting to see how Africans (and especially the youth) are campaigning for change in different ways – and how technology is helping to engage Africans in the Diaspora and involve them more directly in what is going on at home. I for one, am very grateful for this!

So, what are we going to do in the way that we each can contribute to change?

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Last week on the blog

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Here is a recap, in case you missed anything:

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Thanks as always for taking the time to read and to share comments, facebook appreciation and tweet love. Remember, you can also get blog updates as well as extra links, ideas, news and info via facebook (afriloveblog) and twitter (@afrilove).

Have a great week everybody, be proud and be inspired!

Lulu x

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Image copyright Sarah Markes

 

 

 

Tunisia Independence Day: Celebrating beauty and design

Menchari house

Yesterday, Tunisia celebrated 55 years of Independence from France, no doubt made sweeter by the recent triumph in toppling authoritarian president, Ben Ali, after 23 years in power. Rather than spend this post further commemorating this revolution (I'm sure several others have done this well so I would like to share something different), I would like to draw your attention to beauty and design.

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Top picks for the Women of the World (WOW) Festival, Southbank Centre, London

The Southbank Centre annual Women of the World (WOW) Festival starts tomorrow and it’s set to be a really great experience. Celebrating the formidable strength and inventiveness of women, it will feature music performances, films, comedy, theatre, poetry, as well as a three-day conference dealing with debates, talks, workshops, networking and mentoring opportunities.

Afri-love Highlights:

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Inspired by Swahili Imports

Swahili-Imports

I recently discovered Swahili Imports via tweeter, Papa Awori. Having built a network of artisans from across Africa, Swahili showcases their work to the wider world. Swahili's partnerships center on fair and sustainable profit generation, artisan advancement and modern, earth-friendly product development.

Above are just a few of pieces that I absolutely fell in love with. 

Design for good

Design-for-good

A little over a week ago, I travelled to Wales to run a workshop with university students, on design for good. Specifically exploring how graphic design can contribute to positive change.

It was a rewarding day. The students were engaged, creative and humorous, and I can't wait to see what they come up with in response to the term-long brief I've set them.

Key questions explored included: 

  • Why design? Why do we designers do what we do? What can it achieve? 
  • Why design for good? What benefit to planet, profit and especially, people? What's in it for the designer him or herself?!
  • How can we design for good? Why should people care? How can we present our ideas and messages about positive action in ways that are useful and desirable to people? What tools are at our disposal for this mission?

I know I always hammer on about the significance of starting all journeys and enquiries with the self. In true form, I asked the students why they have chosen to be designers in the first place. Their responses included: "to communicate,"  "to educate," "it's challenging."

Why am I a designer? To help improve people's wellbeing. Whether that be through supporting the activities that provide their livelihood; affirming their identity and uniqueness; encouraging respect of self, community and environment or; through facilitating communication and interaction between groups for the mutual benefit of all.

That involves designing/facilitating experiences and this blog is an example of such.

At the end of the design for good day, what's key is respecting diversity. Nature demonstrates this to us every day and we designers, and people in general, can learn a lot by observing it. People are different and are driven and excited by different things. Our role as designers is to truly understand who our audiences are, what attitudes they have towards the changes we are encouraging and for us to find away to position positive change as exciting, useful and desirable. We have to inspire.

"Ultimately, it is the agenda with which we approach the making of things that must be truly diverse."
— Michael Braungart & William McDonough

And final inspiration from US President, John F. Kennedy:

"The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities.We need people who can dream of things that never were."

If you're interested in exploring design for good with your students, company or organisation, please do get in touch. I'd love to help you get people excited and inspired!

Images: some great books on the subject including Do Good Design: How Design can Change our World: How Communicators can Save the World by David B. Berman, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way we make Things by Michael Braungart & William McDonough, Massive Change: A Manifesto for the Future Global Design Culture by Bruce Mau