12 Directives To Make A Better World

– With Ben Hurley –

Who doesn’t love an article with bullet points? You feel as though you’re reading something a lot faster than usual, consuming the text like a rabid, literate dog. Also, if directives are itemised into, say, 12 easily digestible chunks, you know where you are and how much you have to go. It’s worked for Alcoholics Anonymous for years so why not me?

1. Stay Positive. Constantly saying things like “the world is a terrible place” and “humans are the worst” isn’t helping anyone and just makes us all feel defeated. Sure, we might be in a bit of a mess but we have always been in some sort of mess. History documents some of the worst examples of human nature: war, slavery, cruelty and Limp Bizkit, but we have to hope that things will get better. I believe we are learning from our mistakes. You wouldn’t describe humans as ‘gifted’ learners but we are getting there, slowly.

2. Don’t wear shoes if you don’t have to – it’s the most acceptable form of public nudity. Everyone is a happier person when they are barefoot on sand or fresh cut grass.

3. In traffic, let other cars in. I know we are a competitive sporting nation but you’re not going to ‘win’ at traffic. Leave a gap and let them go in before you. They aren’t beating you – they’re in the same crappy commute as you.

4. Do things rather than have things. Travel, walk, jump, see, listen and feel. If the world is going to get better, don’t you want to experience it? Besides, you really don’t need another lamp.

5. Stop arguing on social media. Don’t get me wrong, the potential for social media for creating a better world is incredible, it’s just that we seem to be getting distracted by squabbling with each other. No one has ever made a decent argument in 140 characters so don’t bother. Send a message to an old friend instead.

6. Get every nation on earth into cricket. No two cricket-playing countries have ever gone to war with each other. Fact!

7. Create. Knit a jumper, cook a meal, build a spice rack, record a podcast, write a haiku. The ability to create sets humans apart from the other animals. There’s nothing like the feeling of standing back and looking at a thing well made.

8. Get the jerk chicken roll from Bird on a Wire. This is absolutely not a paid plug. It’s just an amazing sandwich that is so good it has the potential to create world peace.

9. Be a low level superhero. The old adage “bad things happen when good people do nothing” is a saying for a reason. You’d be amazed at how much impact someone saying “Hey. Stop that please!” (in your best school teacher voice) has.

10. Never stop learning. Especially about the other people in the world. Today I learnt that Ethiopia follows a calendar that is seven years behind ours. I’m going to go there and relive my late 20s.

11. Don’t wear pants if you don’t have to. It’s a less acceptable form of public nudity than the shoes one (see number two) but the same thing applies for sand and grass.

12. Don’t be a dick. You know who you are. Stop it.

13. Always do more than people expect.

Thank this generous fella at www.benhurley.com


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Good Stuff Doing Good Things

Organic Dynamic exist to offer NZ surfers environmentally friendly board options. They take 100% locally recycled EPS foam and combine it with locally grown timber to produce boards and blanks for the local surfers and shapers.

www.organicdynamic.com

Be Human Tees have been on our to-do list for a very long time and to be honest, we've only printed the odd one or two. So it's time to see who would be keen to buy a tee and rep the Collective. Guys and girls tees are available with amazing typography by our friend Erin Ellis. Head to the link below to let us know if you are keen to get your hands on one!

www.onepercentcollective.org/tees

Simplicity are an online, nonprofit KiwiSaver plan that only charges members what their account costs to manage, nothing more. They donate thousands to local charities and are taking a totally fresh approach to KiwiSaver, we love it!

www.simplicity.kiwi

The Saviour by HELL Pizza is NZ's healthiest pizza. Rated to a 4 star health rating, you can sit back and enjoy the gluten free sprouted seed base, avocadoes and more, knowing that you can maybe put that gym session off for one more day.

www.hellpizza.com

Sustainable Coastlines have opened The Flagship Education Centre in Auckland's Wynyard Quarter. The venue is available to hire for events, education and training and the best part is that it is FREE for not for profit organisations!

www.sustainablecoastlines.org/the-flagship


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Janette Searle

Janette Searle grew up tearing around Cannons Creek doing 15 things at once. She channelled that energy into being an organiser of anything and everything for TVNZ, but eventually she chucked in the screen life and got interested in the health sector. Now she is using her organising powers to provide spare medical supplies and equipment to people who need them.

I grew up in Cannons Creek, Porirua, wearing out my jandals on skateboards, screaming around with a group of kids that would have made the United Nations envious of our diversity. I had a strong sense of belonging, a passion for adventure, and friends who accepted that I liked to do 15 things at once, all the time. My childhood gave me a sense of being well-loved for who I was and a belief that I could do anything I put my mind to.

When I left study the first time I worked at TVNZ and spent 17 years managing screen productions. My early career honed my ability to organise pretty much anything you can imagine. Need 10 dwarves and some 15ft palm trees in a field in Te Awamutu? Give me a call.

This is the foundation from which I launched Take My Hands. It kind of happened accidentally on purpose over a chance meeting and a cup of tea at a conference, followed by a boring night on the telly – as well as an overwhelming desire to see if I could do something I knew nothing about.

That first project involved collecting artificial limbs and sending them to an organisation in Pakistan that worked with people in desperate need. Now Take My Hands collects and collates medical equipment that will no longer be used in New Zealand, but is still very usable, and redistributes it to organisations working with people in need in the Asia-Pacific region.

Part of our purpose involves minimising waste by using spare capacity. So that’s diverting equipment from landfill and using spare space in warehouses, trucks, containers and ships to store and transport equipment. This is obviously a huge win for us and our recipients, but it’s also a win for our amazing partner organisations, like New Zealand Post Global Logistics and PBT Transport, among others. It’s a low-cost way to contribute to a high-value impact, and make a real difference for those most in need. And that’s a story their customers and stakeholders love and will invest in.

We are very focused on the people at the end of our supply chain, and their challenges are real. I’ve had chance to visit hospitals and local clinics in Fiji. Without exception, all the staff I met were passionate about their communities and the people they served, and they showed impressive resilience and commitment, despite working with severely limited resources, broken equipment or no equipment at all.

When the closest doctor is a 200km boat ride away, you can appreciate the difficulty of accessing healthcare. Life with a disability can be incredibly tough at the best of times but when you factor in cultural stigma and social isolation, the flow-on effects can include mental health problems and disconnected communities.

So the equipment we send really does make a difference. Hospital beds improve recovery time and reduce in infection, drip poles prevent someone having to stand holding medication bags for hours, and crutches and wheelchairs mean mobility. Artificial limbs mean a return to school, work, community and life. It’s the ripple effect in action.

I believe that making a lasting and real difference, for instance in healthcare in the Pacific, takes a cross-sector approach. It needs governments, business, philanthropy, service providers and the communities themselves to work together to identify and contribute to the solutions. From there, the ripple effect will spread to better and more appropriate healthcare, and healthier, more sustainable communities. And I would like Take My Hands to use its knowledge and experience to play a role in that.

We all hate seeing good things go to waste. You can support the work of Take My Hands with a regular donation at www.onepercentcollective.org

Words by Esther McLaren and Image by Tobias Kraus.


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Laura O'Connell Rapira

Laura O’Connell Rapira describes herself as a ‘possibilist’ these days, but her path in life has taken her from being a struggling teen in search of a tribe, to being Bloods, to being a mentor and a bit of a hippy. Now, in her role as director of campaigns at ActionStation, she works on empowering New Zealanders to act collectively to make change possible.

I was born in Taranaki and later moved to West Auckland. My Mum and Dad are both one of eight kids, both Māori, both grew up poor and both experienced family violence. They both broke those cycles, as did their siblings. But the other thing my parents have in common is that their grandparents were the last in their whānau to speak Māori. This intergenerational loss (or theft) of identity was handed down to my parents, who handed it on to me.

When I got to high school, I was determined to find my tribe. In an effort to be cool, I became Bloods. I would wear red clothing head-to-toe, wag school and smoke weed. I found solace in music and used all my spare money to buy hip hop albums.

I was heading toward expulsion when two things happened. I was trained as a peer support mentor in a programme for issues of sexuality, body image, mental health etc. And then I went to my first ever music festival and saw Shapeshifter, The Black Seeds and others. For the first time, I was hearing music about life in the South Pacific by people that looked like me. I felt at one with myself – and other humans and nature – for the first time.

After that I decided I wanted to organise music events so I could give that feeling to others. I stopped being Bloods and became more of a hippy.

Now, at ActionStation, my job is to direct our members’ precious time and energy for maximum impact, whatever we’re doing. We are an independent community campaigning organisation, representing over 160,000 New Zealanders. Our platform empowers those people to act collectively on a range of issues through channels like petitions, mass emails, crowdfunded media campaigns, vigils, hikoi and more.

My role involves research, strategy development, fundraising, creative tactics, copywriting, volunteer management, field organising, analytics, campaigning and building relationships. We talk to experts about important issues and we talk to people with lived experience of those issues to better understand how policies impact everyday New Zealanders.

My other job is RockEnrol, which is a nonpartisan organisation using social media, music, art and events to engage young people in the political process. Politics is not set up to appeal to young people, and therefore our country is missing out on the creativity, vision and insight of hundreds of thousands of young people in political decision-making. Our goal is to reach and inspire the significant number of 18- to 29-year-olds who are not voting.

With those two jobs, I am very busy. I’m also pretty bad at saying no to other opportunities, so you’ll often find me teaching a workshop to young people on weekends. For me, the key to living a busy life is being organised and delegating effectively. When I’m not working, I hang out with my amazing girlfriend Gemma and our dog Franklin, and we go to the beach or walk in the forest.

Not everyone has to be like me and work six days a week fighting the good fight. Small, everyday choices, when amplified by the many, make a huge difference – for example, if every single person in Aotearoa planted one tree this weekend, we’d have 4.7 million more trees!

RockEnrol and ActionStation are in their startup phases, so some ‘sweat equity’ is required to get them to being self-sustainable, and to bring them to the point where we can employ more people. I believe in the mission of both organisations wholeheartedly and want to see them succeed. I also feel really lucky to work on what I love and to get paid for doing it, and I want to give that opportunity to others. 

Visit www.actionstation.org.nz and back amazing campaigns for a better Aotearoa.

Words by Esther McLaren and Image by Magdalena Bisley.


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Oliver Vetter

Many years ago, Oliver Vetter got lost at sea. Rather than curing him of his lifelong obsession with the ocean, surviving that experience made him even more committed to life on and near the water. His passion has taken him from Wales to Hawai’i and now to Wellington’s south coast, where he teachers others how to care for and protect our marine ecosystem.

I grew up in Cardiff and found my love for the outdoors and the ocean just by being outside a lot as a kid. Tramping, cycling and camping were always what we did on holidays. I was pretty hyperactive and would bounce off the walls if I couldn't get outside, so I feel very lucky to have found that outlet at a young age.

My parents always cooked and grew much of their own food; they composted and didn't use single-use plastics. Not because they identified themselves as environmentalists, but because they appreciated quality and health.

Surfing was an extension of my love of the sea and it took my life in directions I never could have imagined. Through my teenage years I just wanted to earn money to travel. I think as a surfer in Wales you have to travel to stay sane.

I went surfing in Indonesia and got lost at sea – just drifting in a boat. Gently floating to shore two days after losing our engines instilled what I already knew – that life is fragile and to live it to the full.

I studied oceanography at university so I could continue to be near the ocean, and aged 22 I landed a dream job in Hawai’i. Through waka ama, surfing and diving, I deepened my love and respect for the sea.

I stayed in Hawai’i for 13 years, during which time I did my Master’s and got a job in coral reef research. But the main issues facing the coral reefs almost all stem from climate change and pollution. At Sustainable Coastlines in Wellington, I work to educate people about those underlying causes. I talk about global issues and offer local, everyday solutions, as well as providing the tools and motivation to make a difference, however small.

We focus on beach clean-ups in summer and waterway planting in winter. We go into schools and organisations and educate people, and then we follow up with clean-ups and planting.

We spend a lot of time working with kids, who respond incredibly well to our programmes. We focus on solutions but we don’t sugar-coat the problems, and I think they appreciate that honesty. I believe young kids have an innate love for the outdoors but it's conditioned out of them through modern comforts and disposable lifestyles. It's our job as adults to keep that fire going.

What I love about our beach clean-ups is seeing people get excited about picking up rubbish! They are on the beach and actually seeing the issues for themselves. It can be sobering but it is also good to be doing something about it, and to be opening people’s eyes to the issue.

We as a society are pretty addicted to single-use plastics. I would like to see a future where these are phased out altogether, barring essentials like medical packaging. The true cost of plastics should be reflected in the price. A water bottle designed to be used once but that lasts essentially forever has a huge cost, both environmentally and economically.

Sustainable Coastlines makes a conscious effort not to deliver its message in a way that alienates others. If we only engage people who identify as environmentalists we'll never clean up the waterways – ‘environmentalists’ aren't polluting. We need to engage people on a one-to-one level throughout society. In my experience everyone wants to do the right thing, so we offer simple solutions and focus on positivity, motivation and fun!

Help Sustainable Coastlines get its message to thousands more Kiwis with a regular donation at www.onepercentcollective.org

Words by Esther McLaren and Image by Pat Shepherd.


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Be Open – Guy Ryan

Imagine for a moment…you’re expecting your first child. It’s exciting and scary. You’ve been flatting for 10+ years and finally found the dream flat. The flatties are great, but with the baby on the way you can’t stay. Cutting down to one income will be tough too, won’t it?

I founded Inspiring Stories at the ripe age of 24, with the big bold vision to see all young New Zealanders unleash their potential to change the world. For the past six years this has been me, I’ve poured my heart and soul into it. It's been an incredible adventure, and I absolutely love it, but it certainly hasn’t been smooth sailing.

We’ve built some fantastic programmes and partnerships, worked with more than 6000 young New Zealanders and worked in every region nationwide. Our alumni have gone on to win international youth leadership awards, been shortlisted for the Young New Zealander of the Year Award and represented our nation on the world stage.

From the outside our work looks pretty shiny – mostly because my background is in design and marketing, not because we’ve had big budgets. In fact, in six years I think we’ve probably spent a grand total of $10k on design, marketing and web development.

We’ve nearly been bankrupt twice – the first in 2014, when we took a risk to get our first-time Live the Dream programme off the ground.

It was amazing. I don’t regret it, but at the same time a couple of things didn’t line up. We were rock-bottom and red-lining for three months, had to shrink the team to just me and had to shift out of the office. Most people would have walked away. I couldn’t, I believed in the vision too much.

Six months later our Festival for the Future event attracted 400+ attendees, Live the Dream ran in two cities, and I was awarded Young New Zealander of the Year. That same week we found out we’d won a contestable chunk of government funding through the youth enterprise fund to scale up our two flagship programmes. And scale up we did. Our Festival doubled in size, we replicated Live the Dream to run in three cities over summer and built a new programme for young people in some of New Zealand’s most marginalized communities – Future Leaders.

While the government stepped up, other funders stepped back. At the end of 2016 it became evident that the youth enterprise fund wasn’t going to roll over – a $200,000 hole in the budget, and once again we faced huge uncertainty. This time, as per the opening paragraph, I’d just found out I was about to become a father. Boom!

Despite programme growth and clear impact for the young people we worked with, we had an extremely difficult end to 2016. We faced huge uncertainty and had to let most of our team go. With the exception of my amazing wife Michelle, I don’t think I really shared the full extent of this with anyone. We were on the edge of a knife; it was one of the hardest times of my life.

In search of solutions we quickly built three new business arms – the speaker bureau, the recruitment agency and the creative agency – all on less than $1000. The idea was that these could build on our strengths, generate much-needed revenue for the Inspiring Stories Trust and create better outcomes for young New Zealanders. We put the call out and went from looming insolvency to getting more than a dozen paying clients on board in a month. It kept us alive just long enough to get back on our feet.

Now we’re humming. Our commercial arms provide 100% of the profit to help support and expand our youth development programmes. If anything the experience has made us stronger. We’ve got the best millennial-led team in the country, and we’re now gearing up to support 2000 young New Zealanders to attend this year’s Festival for the Future.

Sometimes, from the darkest of times, remarkable things can happen. And here’s the best part of all – I’ve become a father. Our little boy, Finn, is now three months old.

Guy Ryan is CEO of Inspiring Stories, which is building a movement of young New Zealanders who can and will change the world. Support their movement with your 1% at www.onepercentcollective.org

Words by Guy Ryan and Illustration by Natasha Vermeulen.


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Be Human – Sarah Longbottom

The most human I feel is when I hang out with my brother, Richie. We are only 16 months apart, so I can’t really remember a time without him. We yarn (in the way only siblings can) about our weird and wonderful upbringing, and crack up about the fact that while our friends were ‘parented’, what we really were was ‘taught’.

We were raised by disruptive educators who brought their work home. Our parents saw every aspect of our childhood as a ‘teachable moment’ where there was no right or wrong, and where every question we asked was answered with a question – a version of the Socratic teaching method that I later used in the classroom.

We were encouraged to make mistakes, to take risks, to challenge, to ask questions and most of all to learn together in a safe space we had ownership of, with people who loved us. While my upbringing was not perfect, I do feel very blessed that this formed my core understanding that teaching is an act of love, humanity and of deep connection.

I came to my work as a teacher, and now to my mahi with Ngā Rangatahi Toa (NRT), as a direct result of my upbringing. I have a clear understanding that our collective thinking on education cannot and must not be reduced to discussing a system of assessments and qualifications, or be seen simply as a collection of skills, facts and understandings.

I know that when the human connection of ako (when the roles of teacher and learner are fluid and interchangeable) is placed at the core of education, it becomes alchemy, it becomes magic and it enables young people to transform their own lives. This is why I do the work I do, the way I do it. Our NRT mantra of ‘before you teach me, you have to reach me’ keeps us all on point and on track.

Education, the act of teaching, is the purest form of human development we have and we must not let this beautiful potential get lost in the conversation of how we make an education system ‘fit for purpose’. Schools are places where much inspirational work is done, but they’re also places where the damage done is equally as mind blowing.

When I look at our education system, I see institutions that do not honour the humans within them because the system is out of sync with humanity.

Despite the efforts of many teachers, schools are not grounded in the love, human connection, empathy and creativity that are the precursors to learning and human development.

To change our world I believe we must change how we see education. Teacher and-learner is a primary human relationship, one that we all engage in and one that has a great impact on how we feel about ourselves, how we perceive others and how we see the world. My upbringing and the results of our mahi at NRT may make me slightly biased, but I get really excited by this – to me, education and ako are the holy grail of youth development.

Richie and I were raised by expert teachers, so the act of ‘teaching’ us was always preceded by the act of ‘reaching’ us; there was high trust, love and respect, and it was a two-way street. By connecting on a deep human level with those you teach, education becomes a catalyst for personal growth and social cohesion, going far beyond transactions in the currency of information, assessment and qualifications. Let’s keep it real and be human about it.

Sarah Longbottom is Executive Director of Ngā Rangatahi Toa which, through one-to-one and group mentoring projects in creativity and mindfulness, empowers kids excluded from mainstream school to re-engage with education and build a brighter future for themselves and their whānau. Support its wonderful work at www.onepercentcollective.org

Words by Sarah Longbottom and Illustration by Natasha Vermeulen.


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Be Real – James Nokise

I work in a couple of different mediums, mainly comedy and theatre, and the reason can be broken down to this: comedy is good for easing an audience towards a social truth. Theatre is good for holding a social truth up to an audience.

I remember being told once, at an awards dinner, that I had a gift for ‘speaking truth to power’.

I think that's bullshit.

Speaking truth to power is not a gift and no one should romanticise it. The protester holding a sign and yelling at a politician is speaking truth to power. It's not a gift. In a democracy it's almost a civic duty. That we value it so highly perhaps points to an unspoken truth about the repression of our society.

Of the various tattoos I've had put on me, there's one not many people know about. On my right ribs I have written, in small text, ‘The Truth will only have meaning when questioned by those who seek it’.

I'm big on the truth…and I've written that to wind up people who know me. I'm not advocating constant lying, but truth and lies are part of the human condition. In comedy, often you can only deconstruct the truth – and people’s perceptions – with lies.

I'll let you in on the joke. I see the truth as a tool, but not fundamental. It can be overrated. It doesn't always bring understanding. In fact, sometimes it only brings trauma and nothing more. Deconstructing truth with more truth can lead to a cycle of pain that some are not equipped to handle. To those who say that at the bottom of that cycle is a pathway to ‘moving on’ I would argue the hard truth is that, sometimes, there's not. Sometimes a person's psyche is at risk. Sometimes there's a need for lies.

Trust me, I have a degree in this. That is a lie.

Incidentally – this mentality of mine is probably what allows me to look at politics and political players in a way that produces satire, but it's also why I've always stepped back from jumping fully into the political arena. For all my cynicism, there is a romantic underneath and I think democratic power can only properly work with truthful leaders, to allow for accountability. That is a truth.

We like truth because we relate it to trust, and if we can trust someone fully then we don't have to waste mental energy on considering them as a three-dimensional person. We know, because they always tell the truth, that we can trust whatever they say. But think about how much truth you really want from someone. From a politician? Sure – because it allows for oversight. But from your mate? Your lover? Your cat?

It's good to have friends who can ‘tell it like it is’, but also you want friends who can lie to make you feel good. Yeah, you know it's a lie, but we live in a society of hard realities, and a lie, like a good coffee, is sometimes what gets you out the door.

You've actually got to go inception when seeking the truth. It's not enough to seek it just to know. You have to be honest what you want from it, and why you need it. Because often, when it comes to people, and the histories of people, truth is layered in pain. A truth doesn't start out hidden. If, when you find it after seeking, you're genuinely surprised by that pain, then chances are you went looking blindly.

James Nokise is an award-winning comedian who has generously supported our partner charity SpinningTop and many other organisations over the years. Learn more about NZ's most famous Samoan-Welsh comedian and when he's next performing at www.nokise.co.nz

Words by James Nokise and Illustration by Natasha Vermeulen.


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Homelessness – Busting The Myths

With Wellington short around 3600 homes, we’re on the brink of a housing crisis like that of Auckland – and our most vulnerable people are bearing the brunt. One of our partner charities, DCM, supports around 1000 people a year to find and stay in housing, also offering everything from dental and health clinics to a banking service. We asked Wellington mayor (and One Percent Collective supporter) Justin Lester and DCM director Stephanie McIntyre about common misconceptions around homelessness, what’s needed to end it, and how the average Joe can help.

Some people think homelessness is a choice. What would you say to a man I overheard on the bus, who said “They’re living off the benefit, spend it on drugs, piss and cigarettes, and if they don’t want to work, they can live and die by that?”

Justin Lester: That’s utter ignorance. When I visited a school in Tawa, a girl talked to me about needing to get into social housing because she was living in a tent. What does that do to a young person's confidence? Growing up in Invercargill, I was fortunate to live in a state house, otherwise life would have looked very different. After I left home, Mum moved to Christchurch and had to shift between private rentals every year when rents rose. She was right on the cusp of the definition of homelessness. She’s now 71 and finally has housing security because we’ve bought her a house.

You know, there are two common misconceptions around homelessness. One is “I had a hard life, but I pulled myself out of it.” I agree, you likely did work hard, but in many cases that comes down to an opportunity you were given. Then there’s the misconception that people make decisions and have to bear the consequences. But what if they experienced abuse, violence or mental health issues? All it takes is one thing to go wrong – maybe the car breaks down, maybe your rent is late and you get kicked out. Or, in my mum’s situation, your partner leaves and doesn't pay child support. Things happen, and there’s often nowhere to turn.

By definition, homelessness includes people without housing security, such as those staying night by night at a shelter, backpackers, motel, boarding house or campground, or people staying with extended family or friends in crowded houses. But is there still a misconception that homelessness only refers to rough sleepers?

Stephanie McIntyre: Yes. Statistics New Zealand, the Ministry of Social Development and Housing New Zealand came up with that definition of homelessness in 2009, including categories from rough sleeping to people in temporary housing and overcrowded houses. But rough sleeping and homelessness get used as synonymous terms, and that misconception is driven by different agendas. Sometimes politicians prefer the scale of homelessness to look smaller.

Alarmingly, Paula Bennett barefacedly said on the TV show The Nation that most New Zealanders know homelessness is just rough sleeping. That’s disingenuous because it contradicts the government’s own definition. The misconception is also driven by the media when they don't understand the definition. But some media are more constructive. For example, John Campbell’s Checkpoint shows have helped people understand the complexity of homelessness.

Has homelessness also been conflated with begging?

Stephanie: It’s all got muddled up, and begging has driven a lot of negative public perception. The thousand people who come through DCM’s doors every year have very different stories. One man has a council flat, a Jobseeker benefit and is looking for work. But when he’s paid rent, power, deductions for fines and benefit advances, he has $52 a week. I know that because he banks with us through our money-management programme. That $52 has to feed him, pay for his transport, phone, doctor’s bills and clothes, leaving nothing to have a life. I've seen him begging on Saturday nights. Because what else can he do? He’s on the cusp of mental health issues, with a back story of trauma, and disconnection from his whānau. We’re so lucky to have council housing in Wellington, but it’s becoming unaffordable at the most severe end of the spectrum, even though the council charges discounted rates.

Stephanie McIntyre and Wellington Mayor Justin Lester talk outside DCM's building on Lukes Lane

Stephanie McIntyre and Wellington Mayor Justin Lester talk outside DCM's building on Lukes Lane

What do you think of the Cross-Party Homelessness Inquiry’s report of 20 steps?

Stephanie: There are some good ideas, but the biggest problem is the current government wasn’t involved and is still reluctant to even say we have a housing crisis. They’re clinging to the notion that the market will provide. It’s a deplorable situation.

What is the council doing to address homelessness?

Justin: Housing is council’s number-one priority, without a doubt. The Wellington Summit in November canvassed Wellingtonians’ views on all sorts of issues, and kept coming back to housing.

I was at a comedy show recently when a comedian asked what are Wellington’s major issues and people shouted out “housing!” The Mayor’s Taskforce on Housing, which is looking at what actions to take, includes representatives from groups ranging from DCM, iwi and community-housing trusts to property developers and the construction industry. Everything is on the table. The crux is how to increase the supply of homes because the market simply isn’t responding to the need. No private company is prepared to build for the public good because they’re trying to maximise profits. But who should deliver?

We have this great crowdfunding system called tax, and rates. So [central and local] government needs to take responsibility, and it’s reprioritising how that money is spent. Wellington City Council has 2400 social-housing units, but it’s not enough. We’ll build 750 social and affordable homes over the next three to five years. We’re looking at partnering with third parties to build affordable private homes next to our social housing, or we’ll just build affordable housing ourselves. We’re also looking at establishing a residential facility for rough sleepers with addiction issues to moderate their drug or alcohol intake.

Should people give street beggars money or not?

Stephanie: As begging has become more normalised, so has rough sleeping. It’s become more socially acceptable to be on the pavement with your possessions. People are well-motivated but giving to street beggars is a very blunt mechanism. We have young men now who don't really engage with agencies like us, and that’s not helping anyone. But stop and say “Hello. Do you know DCM or the soup kitchen?”

Justin: There are a lot of rough sleepers around the council precinct. I do stop to talk. “Do you know DCM? Have you talked to our local hosts? They’re city ambassadors who assist the public and visitors on the street.” The number of beggars in Wellington ranges between 40 and 60, and we know their names and stories – and we’ve had one-on-one conversations about support – but we just don't have the homes.

What’s happening with Te Mahana: Ending Homelessness in Wellington Strategy 2014–2020?

Justin: It’s brought the partner agencies together and is working well but it’s unlikely it will achieve its target of ending homelessness in Wellington by 2020 if we don’t have sufficient accommodation to put people into. That’s why I’m committed to a Housing First approach at WCC.

Stephanie: When accommodation gets more scarce, people at the severe end get bumped. People displaced from hostels and boarding houses become rough sleepers. Many people we see have experienced long-term entrenched homelessness that may go right back to childhood. Most of the social services funding is for agencies working with children or families, which is great preventative work, but what about the adults who may be alcohol or drug dependent, have mental health issues, be carrying trauma, have no qualifications, have spent time in prison? That’s the profile of most people who come through our doors. The numbers of people coming to DCM who are homeless has increased by 35 percent over the last five years. Even more concerning, the numbers of people who are rough sleeping has doubled.

Justin: DCM gets by with very little funding and is doing outstanding work. The people here in the foyer today are in desperate need. What’s the benefit of getting these people housed to the community and the city? Our ideal vision is a city where everyone has a home.

DCM urgently needs our support. The number of people it works with is on the rise and DCM is doing all it can to continue to grow its vital services. Support DCM’s work with your 1% at www.onepercentcollective.org

Words by Sarah Lang and Images by Pat Shepherd.


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Just Being Otis

Otis loves hooning around Te Awanga on his bike, hanging out with his buddies and winding up his brother Teddy…pretty standard for an eight-year-old. And that’s the thing right there. Otis has Down syndrome, but since he’s been getting speech-therapy training from four months’ old and his communication skills are stellar, he’s been able to keep up. He’s able to just be Teddy’s bro.

When we connect up on Skype, the Payton household is buzzing with energy, not to mention little people. Mum Asha is juggling the twins Fox and Pepe, aged four, and Teddy, six, all of them fighting for her attention. Otis is next door at Robin’s house, making a cake.

Teddy, smooth as ever, knows we’re here to talk about Otis. When I ask him what it’s like being his brother, he tells me with a dramatic shake of his head that it’s hard. “He’s always getting up in my space. Ah! He’s so annoying.”

But I know Teddy – he’s my second cousin, and notoriously moody. It’s nothing to do with Otis having Down syndrome; he reckons all of his siblings are just as annoying as each other. In fact, he says his sister Pepe is probably the worst…if anything, he thinks the only difference Otis’ Down syndrome makes is that maybe it’s why he’s so good at painting.

Otis has been getting speech-language therapy since he was four months’ old. The training he gets, the Johansson method, is not just about spoken language – it’s also about cognitive development, sentence structure and fine motor skills.

“When we started it back then, it was everything for us. For a parent at that age, it feels really good that already you’re helping and putting the work in for your baby,” explains Asha.

It wasn’t always smooth sailing. Asha says there were moments when Otis was about four when they thought he would never talk. It looked like they weren’t getting anywhere. Then he suddenly hit a turning point at about five. He started using words and they developed into sentences.

Speaking is harder for him, but he does it. Kids with Downs often have the same size tongue but a smaller mouth, and they may not have the same muscle tone in the mouth to be able to form those harder words and sounds. But since Otis started talking, he rapidly got better and better.

From then on, Otis was pretty much able to keep up with his brothers and sister. Because he’s got that language, they’re all able to play together. He gets to use his imagination out loud, play make believe and pretend to be Shrek – he gets to just be their brother.

When it comes down to it, communication is everything – it’s imperative to Otis’ life, to his involvement in the world, and to his success. Without it, he’ll struggle to socialise and grow with his peers, have a job, or be independent.

Otis’ speech therapist comes along with him to school every second week and works with his teacher aide so Asha knows they’re getting the right information and the right guidance when it comes to caring for Otis.

What that’s meant for his relationships is that he’s able to tell his mum and dad as well as Teddy and the twins what he needs, and they’re able to tell him what they need. He’s able to express himself, and he knows how important it is to listen when someone tries to speak.

When I ask Teddy what it’s been like since Otis started talking, he pipes up, “I like that he doesn’t follow me around so much…he’s stopped that now. And he’s real good at being funny.”

Almost on cue, Otis turns up at the door wearing a hilarious-looking robe. That’s the cool thing about him having the training he’s had – Asha doesn’t need to worry too much. He’s able to be an independent little kid running around the neighbourhood, turning up at his mates’ and having sleepovers, and his mum knows he’s OK.

But the speech therapy he’s had hints at something bigger than all of that too. Asha believes it has the power to transform the way we look at Down syndrome.

“The people with Downs you see out in the community…a lot of them didn’t get the support they needed to make a life work. Maybe they don’t speak very well, have difficulty socialising, don’t have access to the same education. It’s scary for a parent to think their kid might go through that.”

Twenty years ago, speech language therapy practically didn’t exist in New Zealand. So the people with Downs you see in their 30s or early 20s likely never had the opportunities for training that we have now.

But speech-language therapy means we get kids like Otis – a kid who rode his bike at four, who just last Christmas was biscuiting on the back of a boat, who plays fantasy with the twins because he can frame the playtime with language, and a kid who loves school because he’s able to keep up.

What’s happening now with our little kids with Down syndrome is totally transforming what kind of adults they’ll become. If all kids had the training they need, new parents could look out and see a kid like Otis, and they’d hear from a kid like Teddy that it’s really not a big deal. They’d see they can have a kid who’s able to lead a great life – one that’s not so different, maybe just a little bit more colourful.

UpsideDowns has an ever-growing waitlist of families needing support to enable their children to thrive. You can support them towards a brighter future through a regular donation at www.onepercentcollective.org

Words by Reuben Harcourt and Images by Richard Brimer.


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The Tiny Patients

Dr Max Berry is devoted to helping give preterm babies better outcomes. Her legion of tiny patients and their parents are right alongside her. If only the grown-ups holding the purse strings would understand…

In Wellington Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), parents wait beside their newborns. They feel helpless, but also helpless to leave. As the nurses move quietly, checking babies, taking notes, reassuring and soothing, the parents look forward to the day they ‘graduate’ the NICU for home.

And most of the 1000 babies who come into the NICU each year do leave, as the unit has a globally impressive success rate. Due to decades of science and research, with the help of thousands of premature babies, consummate clinical skill and gritted determination, a 500g baby (that’s a block of butter) can now usually live and grow up. But with what effects?

Dr Max Berry is a consultant neonatologist at Wellington Hospital and a senior lecturer for paediatrics and child health at the University of Otago, Wellington. As if two jobs aren’t enough, she also leads two research groups and supervises several of the next generation of scientists and clinicians.

A premature baby’s body must suddenly adjust to tasks it’s not ready for; its lungs must breathe, its tiny, immature gut must process milk. All of these challenges – and so many more – could have far-reaching implications.

Traditionally, if NICU-graduates appeared healthy as children, it was anticipated they’d be healthy as adults. Research now shows that adults born early can be predisposed to major conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and even issues with their own pregnancies. That’s known as the DOHaD (Developmental Origins of Health and Disease) phenomenon.

So while Max and her team are still very much about saving lives, her research is focused on understanding how this difficult start to life influences future health.

“If we knew more about how being born preterm affects them when they’re older, what mitigations, what changes to clinical practice could we put in place now to improve outcomes?” says Max.

Over the decades, research has driven countless changes to clinical practice. The reason musician Stevie Wonder is blind? He was given too much oxygen when he was born six weeks early, causing retinopathy of prematurity. Research has shown how to use oxygen therapy safely to maximise benefits without increasing the risk of complications.

All aspects of care for extremely preterm infants must be thought about carefully. “Even things as simple as lifting the legs of a 500g baby to change a nappy needs to be considered,” says Max. “That means a lot of blood is pushed suddenly from their legs to their main core. An older person’s brain can sense there's more blood moving and compensates to stop it flooding their brain. A preterm baby can't. Maybe there are simple things we can do that would stabilise blood flow to the brain. Then we’d do that for all premature babies, wherever in the world they are.”

One of Max’s PhD students, Dr Maria Saito Benz (pictured above), recently won an award for her work understanding brain blood flow and oxygen levels in preterm babies. Using equipment including a bioamplifier funded by The Neonatal Trust and international financial services company ICAP, she shone infrared light onto a baby to measure oxygen levels in its tissues, rather than just its bloodstream, and measured even subtle changes in the baby’s heart rates and blood pressure.

Max says this will help clinicians know the best way to maintain oxygen flow in the tiniest babies. Ultimately we’ll follow those kids up longer term to see how the changes in brain oxygen translate to brain structure and function. Then we can feed back that information, saying, “These are the brain oxygen targets we should be aiming for, for these reasons, and this is how to achieve it".

While Max and her team are already doing a lot of preclinical and clinical research, there’s so much more she’d like to do. “As well as our local studies, we’re constantly asked to participate in big international studies. Joining forces and having New Zealand babies participate is crucial to developing evidence-based practice that answers the needs of our children. Frustratingly, our ability to fully participate is limited not by skills or willingness, but by funding.”

Some research is supported through The Neonatal Trust, but for much of it Max relies on the benevolence and understanding of other private and public funding streams. And there’s fierce competition for it (health funding applications currently have a nine percent success rate) and there’s always a requirement to show a result and a return – the faster the better. Max often misses out on funding because children take time to develop.

People tend to prioritise adulthood diseases for funding, forgetting that diseases in babies and children have lifelong consequences.

If you fund a project looking at strokes and stroke recovery, you’ll know very quickly if it’s effective. But if you’re researching helping preterm babies, you’ll wait years to see a return on investment.

“For me as a neonatalist, and as a mum, this funding approach is nuts. We need to get people to understand the value of our work. If you get it right early, you set these kids on a different trajectory to being healthy children and healthy adults, rather than waiting for them to struggle and fail, then putting all the resources in at the end,” says Max.

Recently Max had to let go of a hugely valued member of her team, a highly-skilled neonatal research nurse. They’re “like hen’s teeth” but Max could no longer afford the nurse’s salary. “Losing her was a huge backwards step. Without her we can’t contribute to many of the studies we’d like to participate in. That’s really challenging because we all must contribute to a greater understanding of what it means to be born preterm, which has huge scope to allow people to manage their health to prevent future harm.”

For example, Max has the go-ahead to study glucose regulation in children and adults born full and preterm to see how they process excess fructose, the main sweetener in drinks.

“We know fructose is really bad biochemically and metabolically. If you’re born premature, are you differentially affected by bad environmental factors, such as drinking fructose? We think so, but we don’t know. If we can find out, as an adult they can make informed decisions about their wellbeing. We’re not chasing down ivory tower factoids – this is real-world stuff that impacts patient care.”

All this and so much more is why Dr Max Berry’s work, and the babies she saves and who inform her research, are such a vital part of the medical future. And why the funding limitations are so fettering and frustrating.

But Max wouldn’t do any job other than the one her daughter describes as being a “doctor’s doctor”. That’s a doctor who saves lives, and figures out how to do it better.

The Neonatal Trust is a pillar of support for families with premature and sick babies. Funding vital research is just a fraction of the good work it does. You can support The Neonatal Trust with a regular donation at www.onepercentcollective.org

Words by Lee-Anne Duncan and Images from The Neonatal Trust.


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Gimme Gardens In Every School

“You might inspire a generation of kids to save the world for all of us. You would be amazed at what inspired children can do.” With tears in my eyes I sat in the Michael Fowler Centre and listened to the incredible Dr Jane Goodall speak about the world we could have. Her words resonated to my core. “Only if we understand, can we care. Only if we care, we will help. Only if we help, we shall make a difference.”

How could I make a difference?

I sat there and imagined every single New Zealand child growing up safe, healthy, well fed, able to make their own healthy eating choices, free of obesity, free of dental decay and living in harmony with their natural environment. What would that Aotearoa look like? Can we make this future happen for upcoming generations of Sir Eds, Kate Sheppards and Richie McCaws?

My godson Leo and I have been hanging out since his first day here on planet Earth. Ever since that day he has owned my heart with his big dimpled smiles. Through his eyes the world is a big maze waiting to be navigated. His mum and dad let him get his hands dirty and explore. He already has his first thriving veggie patch at home where he is currently growing carrots, silverbeet, onions and lettuce. To say that little Leo is an inquisitive, creative and adventurous 18-month old boy is an understatement. I’ve loved watching him grow up before my eyes.

As his godmum, I want to help create a future Aotearoa that Leo can grow up in, at a school that allows him to continue to be interested in the world around him. This school would take the classroom outside and open his eyes to other ways of learning. I want Leo to grow up appreciating and valuing healthy food and respecting his environment.

As a dentist, I treat young children on a daily basis and have had to remove teeth due to preventable dental decay and infection. Current New Zealand statistics show that children living in the most deprived areas were 2.4 times as likely to have had a tooth removed as those living in the least deprived areas (after adjusting for age, sex and ethnic differences).

My health professional dream is to be able to prevent all of this: for a future where all our kids are decay-free, pain- and dental-infection free, all the way into adulthood.

There is increasing evidence that the intake of added sugars leads to weight gain and tooth decay (WHO, 2015). Sugary drinks, including fizzy drinks, and junk food are the main sources of sugars in the diets of New Zealand children. Our dental community is already running projects aimed at making all our schools water-only. I would love all children in Aotearoa to have easy access to healthy food that is nutritious and not have to live on cheaper, high sugar and poor nutritional value alternatives.

As a health professional, I dream bigger and imagine creating a New Zealand where all 2529 of our schools have a living garden.

My answer to making this future a reality is by supporting Garden to Table. It’s a New Zealand-based charity that currently runs programmes in 45 schools around the country and its aim is to one day be a part of every school. This programme is changing the way children approach and think about their food.

Kiwi kids are learning to grow and harvest their own food and to prepare and cook fresh, healthy food from their own gardens. These programmes truly take the classroom outside. Children become involved in all aspects of gardening, in an environmentally sustainable garden.

A teacher at one of the participating schools in Porirua described it as “one of the most worthwhile programmes a school could invest in”. The benefits are multifactorial as the programmes involve bringing volunteers and parents onboard, empowering children and their whānau to make healthy eating choices.

Māori believe there is a deep kinship between humans and the natural world. This connection is expressed through kaitiakitanga, which encompasses guardianship, protection and conservation of the environment. People are not superior to the natural order; they are part of it. All life is connected and to understand the world, one must understand the connections and relationships within it.

Imagine a world where programmes like Garden to Table teach our children to become kaitiaki (guardians) responsible for looking after the environment. This notion of kinship with nature may be the key towards helping our environmentally threatened world.

Watching children in a natural environment getting their hands dirty planting seedlings, understanding how compost works and what living things need to grow and thrive is truly beautiful. It gives children permission to express themselves; to take ownership of caring and nurturing something of their own.

It has given me a glimpse of a future that is possible for all our children if we spend a little more time encouraging them to be creative and less time conforming to ‘traditional learning’ confined between four walls. As a health professional, I am seeing this positive change happening all around. With the number of gardens in schools rising, more and more schools adopting water-only policies and even daycare centres like Leo’s having gardens, the future is looking brighter.

Garden to Table could one day run its programmes in every school here in Aotearoa, but needs our help to get there. Support the vision for healthy, connected kids with a regular donation at www.onepercentcollective.org

Words by Dr Laura Ichim and Images by Bradley Garner and Pat Shepherd.


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Greg Straight

The cover of this issue sprung from the mind and talents of Greg Straight, an illustrator, artist and graphic designer who draws his inspiration from the memories of a childhood of skating, drawing and surfing (he still loves to surf), and the landscapes and nature that surround us. Here Greg explains the process behind the cover artwork, and how it ended up turning into a bit of a monster.

My illustrations often start with a rough sketch on paper. I research and find reference photos to draw from. Then I sketch up the different elements I intend to use and try to give them all the same look and feel.

For this cover, the brief was to illustrate what New Zealand would look like in a perfect world, with a focus on the future of generosity, and the place that One Percent Collective and its ethos can play in that future. So I created a landscape scene of this better future, with gardens in schools, lots of trees, no homelessness, amazing community businesses, healthy oceans and rivers.

As it evolved, the cover became a bit of a monster! A kind of crazy world that was a feast for the eyes – far more detailed than I'd first imagined. It reminds me of a wacky Beatles video like Yellow Submarine.

Inspiration is everywhere you look in Aotearoa, from the tui in the trees to the fish swimming in the shallows when you head out for a surf. I try to take it all in like a sponge, and sometimes I can almost hear the click of a camera in my head, capturing a scene that I want to illustrate later on.

I was stoked to be asked to create the artwork for the cover. I love the fact that there are so many amazing people doing so many amazing things in our communities, from cleaning up the coastlines, planting trees, building gardens in schools, helping neonatal babies, supporting the homeless, inspiring our youth and a whole lot more.

I like to help charities and donate art to the Sustainable Coastlines art auction each year. I am a passionate surfer and really care about what is happening to our beaches and waterways. It makes me angry to think of the runoff from dairy farms ruining the rivers and polluting the beaches, killing all the fish and sea creatures. It stinks.

But I love that art can help people and make change. It is a good feeling to know
the images you've created can help people less fortunate than yourself.

Say hello at greg@gregstraight.com

Words by Esther McLaren and Images by Tim Wightman


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The Future Story

Woooow New Zealand, you’ve gone and done it! We’ve hit the mark where a cool $1,000,000 is raised through One Percent Collective donors every year for our partner charities and, looking around, we’re fizzing to see the results: 35,000 kg extra food rescued and redistributed to hungry bellies, 15,000 more trees planted along our waterways, thousands of kids given gardens and food education programmes in their schools – just to name a few. 

What’s more is we’ve started changing the charity game together too. With thousands of Kiwis giving 1% of their income on the regular, our charities are guaranteed consistent funding to do their thing. The dosh is coming in so they’re not forced to compete for a shrinking pool of grants or sell their souls to fundraising, and instead they can be innovative and focus their efforts on their work. Not to mention there’s less bucket-shaking, cold-calling and sausage sizzles with burnt onions outside Bunnings. Things are looking up, well done New Zealand!

Right, so that was all a crock of sticks, a lie, sorry to trick you. The truth is, that’s what the future can look like.

We’ve done the maths and found that all it takes for the above to come true is to have 2000 donors in the Collective. Easy! We started off in 2012 with a handful of mates and their mums, but in five short years the Kiwi public has rallied behind the idea to give 1% of their income to the causes they care about, and with over 300 donors right now we’ve got more momentum than ever before. This can be the future of giving here, so we’ve decided to go balls-to-the-wall to make it happen.

There’s an inspiring guy, Charles Eisenstein, who talks about living your future story now. Well, this is ours – with so many world issues and governments struggling to look after their people, we don’t want to leave it to someone else to sort out, it’s up to us to just go ahead and do it. We don’t need permission to change the world; we can just do it.

But what can you do as one human? It all seems a bit much, doesn’t it. But you do have the power to do something huge. You could take just a tiny 1% of your income and use that to regularly support those things you believe in. Better school systems for our little people, cleaner beaches, support networks, no more hunger – whatever you want. There are thousands of organisations out there doing incredible things, and we’ve partnered with 11 of them and made it insanely easy to donate via online banking or credit card in under three minutes. You can literally buy a better world while sitting on your couch.

And the whole reason One Percent Collective works is that anyone can do it. Just a student, or in your first job? Your 1% may be small but when we all give it all adds up. Rolling in it? Then 1% is about as easy as it gets. Don’t have an income? No sweats, 1% of nothing is nothing. No matter what age you are, we think you’ll agree that we all want to leave a better world for our generation and for future generations. So let’s all get behind causes we care about. Don’t just talk about it, do it.

This issue of The Generosity Journal has been a glimpse at what the future can look like. These are One Percent Collective charities acting with 1% donors’ funding. This is your giving evolution, your movement, and your future story.

So what are you waiting for? Join the Collective now – let’s make the future happen.

Words by Reuben Harcourt and Pat Shepherd.

Join the Collective at give.onepercentcollective.org/new


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Playing For Change

Playing For Change co-founder Mark Johnson’s energy is so upbeat it practically slaps me in the face when we met via Skype in late July. With a fitted military cap pulled down over his head and an unbuttoned shirt hanging over a t-shirt, he sits alert on a couch in his Venice home. Essentially a human-shaped beaming smile, he’s an individual who not only dreams big, but has an acute awareness of his sense of connection to, and place within, the world around us. 

A Grammy Award-winning music producer/sound engineer and award-winning film engineer, since 2005 Mark has travelled the world recording and filming musicians to create what he calls Songs Around The World. Essentially sonic and visual collages of musicians from different countries and backgrounds performing the same song, they’re telling reminders of the power of music to break barriers and close the distances. Kicking off with a rendition of ‘Stand By Me’ led by street musician Roger Ridley, they took Roger’s casual comment to Mark, ‘I’m in the Joy business, I come out to be with the people,’ as their starting mantra and never looked back. 

The success of Songs Around The World allowed Mark and his collaborators to unite many of the musicians they met and form The Playing For Change Band. Together, they’ve toured the world, raising money for the Playing For Change Foundation, a non-profit organisation committed to building music and art schools for children around the world. Having visited over 50 countries and earning the trust of communities across the globe, Mark and Playing For Change believe sharing the world through the lens of music and art is crucial to fighting against the propaganda and fear that keeps us divided and robs us of living our lives.

There is a school of thought that says you are only as great as you can help other people become. How important is this to you? Ultimately, I believe that giving is getting. We’ve veered away from this and designed our whole being around money. I believe in something better, or bigger than that. If I can help a child get a guitar and watch him play it, it gives me something far greater than anything I could buy. I’ve seen the happiest people with nothing and the best musicians with nothing. It’s not really about what you have in life; it must be what you do with it.

Could you walk us through how this project has changed your understanding of music as a universal language? In the beginning with the Songs Around The World videos, it was about showing every type of person in them, so everyone can see someone they relate to relating to other people in a great way. You could watch those videos and be done with racism if you wanted to be. We learned about music for joy. We learned how Native Americans use music to connect to their ancestors, nature, and build community. We learned about the role of music in forgiveness in South Africa. We learned about music as a survival tool and a way to bring people together. Humans invented music, and all of these different reasons are part of who we are as people.

I guess during these experiences you developed a sense of connection with the places you visited and wanted to do more for them, hence opening the schools? Absolutely. The way to make change is inside communities. People will work with other people they would normally never work with if it is for the good of their children. We wanted to incorporate music education with something that would put the next generation ahead. In 2007 we assembled a bunch of musicians from our videos to play a benefit concert to build our first school in South Africa. Musicians from nine different countries came together on the same stage. Since then The Playing For Change Band has played 300 concerts to raise money for schools. We just opened our thirteenth school.

Playing For Change makes sense on paper, but when I think about it, it must take some amazing acts of kindness and giving to make it happen? There have been a lot of magic make-or-break moments. One of our mentors and partners is a 94-year-old man named Norman Leer. He invented sitcom televisions in the 1950s. It was basically the first use of media for social commentary. You know how you’re gonna get rid of racism? You make people watch a fat version of themselves be racist on TV. They laugh at it, and you might suddenly realise some of it is them. By laughing about it, they get through it and move forward. Norman brought us all these amazing opportunities and really elevated the consciousness of the project. We had some top 10 success with our songs at Billboard and Starbucks got behind us, so we were able to give all the featured musicians royalties. That changed communities and built trust. Then Keith Richards contacted us and wanted to work with us; that helped keep things going. 

Chris Blackwell is a partner with us as well. He founded Island Records and worked with Bob Marley. We met him when we were clearing our Songs Around The World of ‘One Love’. He said, ‘This idea of changing the world, you’ve got to keep it in perspective. Why don’t you just go out there and tip the scale a bit? Make the good better and the bad less bad and know you’ve done a lot.’ In a similar way, one of my heroes is Keb' Mo'. He said, ‘The important thing in life is to get up in the morning and let the inspiration take care of itself.’ You’ll never really know if what you’re doing is making change, but if you believe, your impact will keep rippling outward. This is the kind of thing we need to be doing to combat the giant wall of fear and propaganda. 

Words by Martyn Pepperyll

Listen in and be inspired at www.playingforchange.com


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#WhyMusic

Why music? Well, why not music? Who doesn’t listen to music. Who has never been moved by music. Who has never exclaimed, ‘Oh, I love this song!’ Who has never been inspired by the prowess of a good guitarist playing live. Who has never had their mood completely turned on its head by music?

Music means so much to people; crossing cultures, countries and continents to bring us together in a shared love. Music provides and provokes thoughts, courage, inspiration, as well as a common language we can all speak, paving the way for global social movements. 

Recognising this power, we decided to start an online conversation a few months back, because we wanted to know more. Why is music so important, and how can we use it to promote social change and bring more awareness to the charitable sector here in New Zealand. 

Keeping it short and sweet we only asked two questions, kicking off with a question about why music inspires. And not too surprisingly, a number of people told us about the exhilaration, joy and transformative experiences they have with live music.

‘For me, there is nothing better than live music. I live for it. Gigs where it seems as though the crowd are entranced set my soul on fire! If I were religious, live music would be my church.’ - Annie

‘Few moments in life cause the hairs to stand up on the back of your neck, but something that does it regularly for me is music. Whether it’s hearing my favourite songs for the thousandth time, seeing an amazing live performance, or discovering a new band or movement.’ - Nic

‘I love hip hop music and when my sister started performing I knew she had something special. Her piano rap means the most. I get to see a part of her, through her words and rhythm, that would be trapped if it weren’t for music.’ - Hannah

The performative aspect came through loud and clear too, for those taking to the stage or doing their thing in-studio.

‘As a musician, being able to play an instrument with uninhibited creativity is the most liberating and rewarding experience I can think of.’ - Grant Lister

‘I make music for one simple reason: I care about people and the planet. You can’t see it, touch it, taste it or smell it, but molecules of air vibrating against eardrums can move hearts the world over, build bridges where there were once divides and break down the walls that separate us from each other and our minds from our bodies and souls.’ - Michael Franti

Michael Franti talks about music and a connection that is quite spiritual, creating something intangible that often has strength beyond what we can hold in our hands. Many people also identified with this spiritual, and somewhat mystical, facet of inspiration. 

‘Little moments of magic are inspired by music; being a long way from home and hearing a quintessentially Kiwi tune – pure joy at the time. In these moments I feel simultaneously at peace with myself (a lovely thing because I overthink and worry by nature) and beautifully part of the world and universe around us.’ - Liz

‘It calms me, it energises me, sometimes it makes me see things from a different perspective. Sometimes music seems to speak to me on an unconscious level making me feel things I can’t explain.’ - Mica

This mysticism and otherworldliness is part of something much bigger, that without a doubt music inspires, creates, encourages, displays and provokes emotion. And this emotive power that music instills and imparts, it delves deeply into the hearts and minds of many of us. 

‘Music moves me! Hearing songs my dad sang to me as a child, or that were popular at milestones of my life, transport me and fill me with emotion. There are a few songs that bring tears to my eyes in the first few bars.’ - Angie

‘When I hear a song that feels like it has been written about me and my feelings but has really been written by someone else about themselves and their own feelings, it feels like magic. And it feels like someone saying, “I understand”, without having to actually say something so patronising as that.’ - Anna

‘I experienced great loss of my partner and unborn child. This weight was almost unbearable to continue on with except when I was playing music for those few minutes, really uniting myself with that moment consciously and with no holds barred.’ - Devon Welch

‘Music got me through so many tough times. Listening to and writing music helps me express my feelings, and helps me express society’s feelings.’ - Alice

The second question we asked was about generosity – how does music already tie in with generosity and how can it spark more generosity in this world. 

‘There are many initiatives that facilitate the fan’s support of the musician. For example, PledgeMe, Kickstarter, Bandcamp. I am amazed at the generosity I have seen through such platforms. And this generosity ultimately leads to more music being made, so its effect on music is very healthy.’ - Thomas Oliver

‘Musicians and bands are increasingly using profile/status to highlight issues and movements that are important to them. Some that may otherwise not get any exposure.’ - Nic

Emotion, it seems, is key here too, giving music and musicians the ability to tap into people’s desire to do good.

‘It has the power of emotion as its foundation. It can instantly shortcut people to their rawest feelings and become immediately empathetic.’ - Devin Abrams

‘Music is an intangible entity that can be transferred so easily in this technological age. It’s such an “easy” thing to give someone and empower them.’ - Hiren

That music brings people together and connects us is another essential that people noted; breaking down barriers, creating a shared language and uniting people for a common cause.

‘The simple fact that it doesn’t ask anything from its listeners makes it compelling to listen to, and all sorts of important messages can be conveyed without having to break down walls first.’ - Dee

‘I believe that music is a logical first step on the journey to generosity. It creates togetherness, which in turn becomes community, and when we get to know our communities, we are more willing to support them.’ - Emily

‘Music has the ability to bring people together like no other medium. When you can harness this energy with good faith then extremely powerful things can be achieved and activated.’ - Tiki Taane

‘The sharing of music is like a collective conscience, whereby individuals can be brought together by a similar appreciation for the music. This grows connections, spreads understanding and love, and in general has a positive impact on us. “Pay it forward” can quite literally start with a song.’ - Kate

So again, why music? From the responses above – and the multitude we received but couldn’t squeeze into these pages – it’s pretty clear that music has almighty, superhuman powers. Making people feel feelings, bringing people together, providing inspiration and innovation, creating movement and movements that collectively provide opportunities for us to be better human beings. 

‘Music is power. It has the power to work human minds. It has the power to change one’s mood. It has the power to change someone’s life.’ - Iva Lamkum

As far as bringing more awareness to the charitable work happening in our fair country, it’s pretty obvious that working with musicians and the power of music is a no-brainer. But another equally important thing to remember is that every little act of generosity carries meaning. As there are layers of sound in any song, there are also layers of generosity – and each layer is necessary to mix and master the final track. So if you’re not ready to be lead singer yet, that’s okay. Don’t underestimate the power of backing vocals ... we all know every track needs beats, and even the little triangle ting-a-lings are important. You can always be involved and you will be making a difference with whatever you have to give.

‘The act of creating music is itself inherently generous – every musician is open and generous by sharing their emotions with others. When this generosity is joined with something external (like playing for charity) that generosity becomes contagious.’ - Nikki

Illustrations by Natasha Vermeulen. Words by Ren Kirk & friends

Tell us about the most generous musicians in your world on Twitter @OnePercentNZ or via Facebook @onepercentcollective


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Thomas Oliver & Louis Baker

- On the little things that make music more magical -

We caught up with musicians Thomas Oliver and Louis Baker, to talk about the elevating properties of music, the support of loved ones, the magic of coffee, and making a difference.

The morning ritual… I had a bit of a ritual for a while which was that I’d get up and make coffee, sit in a chair and listen to a whole album. It grounded me for the day, but it would also kind of elevate me and take me away from the normal day. Especially in conjunction with coffee! The coffee would hit me, and I would feel such a sense of elevation when the music was good. So much so that often I would only get halfway through an album, and be so inspired that I would stop the album and go and write or play or record or create. - TO

Words of appreciation… [Music] is a difficult path. It has its drawbacks and perplexing moments. Times that test your passion or your commitment. You have to stay on top, and stay dedicated to the craft for the right reasons. But all the little things that happen along the way help you do that. You might get a message from a fan that just says, ‘Hey, I love what you’re doing.’ Or, ‘Hey, your music has been getting me through tough times.’ People don’t always realise just how much impact that has. Often I think it comes at just the right time. - TO

Support crew… My family are endlessly supportive. I don’t think I’d be doing what I’m doing now, if it hadn’t been for my mum and dad giving me that feeling of support when I was younger. Also, Cushla [Aston, manager to both Louis and Thomas], she is an amazing person – so supportive and so honest. Sometimes you need honesty. You need that other pair of eyes or that other knowledge. It’s the real shit. It’s those people in your life that are prepared to take the hard knocks with you, but also not sugarcoat anything. It’s your friends, your musical peers, and the people around you. - LB

Making a difference to someone… There was an interpretive dance that was posted online and sent to me by someone from the States. She had just lost her mum and her brother in quite close succession. She was dancing to one of my songs, ‘Back On My Feet’, and she sent me a message saying how the song had helped her get through this time of adversity. I was so overwhelmed. It was beautiful that she had been affected in a positive way by it, because that is what I had always envisioned for that song, that idea of getting back on your feet and rising above whatever pain or suffering you’re going through. - LB

A gesture of gratitude… When I started putting up YouTube videos of myself playing the Weissenborn guitar, a guy called Cam got in touch from Australia to say he loved what I was doing. He asked me for some advice on strings and tuning and all sorts, because he was a player himself. We got chatting and he became a friend. He came over to New Zealand a couple of times to come to my gigs. Recently, he got in touch to say that he wanted to express his gratitude for the way that I had given him my time. He commissioned [Wellington guitar-maker] Tony Francis to make me a teardrop Weissenborn. This was someone who started as a fan and became a friend, and then made this great act of generosity, which still blows my mind to think about. - TO

Interview by Pat Shepherd. Edited by Esther McLaren

Be inspired at www.thomasoliver.co.nzwww.louisbaker.co.nz


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Natasha Vermeulen

We have a lot of amazing individuals who give their time and talents to the Collective, and one of these generous souls is Natasha Vermeulen. A graphic designer, illustrator and photographer, Natasha’s unique artwork can be found on t-shirts, Melbourne Cup invitations, the streets of Auckland and now on the cover of the very publication you are holding in your hands. 

I love drawing people and cartoons, and letting the illustration style evolve naturally. I always sketch first – basic pencil on paper – and then switch to digital painting to play with colour palettes and work up the refined forms. Illustrating the cover art was amazing because I wasn’t restricted in what I could produce. I envisioned a pattern of musicians or music themed elements wrapping around the cover, but had the freedom to move away or come back to this concept whenever I wanted. While creating the pattern layout, the musicians seemed to be floating in space, which led to the stars/heavenly bodies/cosmic artists vibes. 

For conceptual sketching tuning out in a noisy café helps me to focus or just listening to music with my headphones in. Music is a source of inspiration for visual art. And vice versa. For this project it was a no-brainer to listen to whichever artist I was drawing at the time. Man, New Zealand has some awesome musicians. Instagram is also a great source of inspiration for me, personally, right now. Being given permission to consume what people choose to record, their everyday moments, is a real treasure. Thomas Oliver’s dog makes an appearance on the cover for this very reason! 

I’ve been lucky enough to work with people and agencies that all give so much of their time and talent to keep the sense of community alive. One Percent Collective is an example of this, which is why I was so keen to be involved in this issue – I couldn’t resist putting my hand up for the cover, especially when I found out it was about music.  

The way your heart can fill or break within one song says it all. As a person who prefers imagery to writing to express myself, music can conjure those emotions I might not be able to put into words. Food for the soul is more than apt. The strongest spiritual experience I have is when I’m listening to music. 

Photography by Scott Cricket. Words by Jd Nodder

Say hi to Natasha at www.fromthemill.co.nz


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