What is happiness? A perfect sunset? A mansion on the hill? A dog walking on its hind legs? It’s the question that lingers in our minds when we consider which job to take, what to have for lunch and the sort of person we should spend the rest of our lives with. But do any of us have the answer? Sigmund Freud was not convinced and insisted that ‘the pursuit of happiness is a doomed quest.’ Fortunately, it seems that few of us agree.
Joe Bloggs may be a tidy Kiwi, but ‘tidy’ is not the kind of Kiwi that New Zealand needs right now. It’s fine to keep rubbish off the streets, but the real problem is the amount of plastic being used and thrown away on a daily basis. Let’s have a look then, at some of the very real facts about single use plastics (or SUPs). Joe would be horrified to learn, for example, that of the 322 metric tonnes of plastic produced each year worldwide, only 14 percent are recycled. Or that every year, New Zealanders go through enough plastic bottles to fill 700 jumbo jets.
Have you ever wondered just how easy it really is to give 1%? Well we pitched a video brief to global boutique production company Sweetshop, they sent it out to their directors and the incredible Louis Sutherland came back with this gem of a script called ‘Mike & Mandy’. This pro-bono video campaign blew our minds! Here’s a wee sneaky look behind-the-scenes with director and fellow Wellingtonian, Louis Sutherland.
In true Kiwi fashion, over a hot cup of tea, we sat down with two of New Zealand’s most fascinating people to discuss the state of the world around us, what the future looks like and what matters most. Melissa Clark-Reynolds (ONZM) is a digital strategist, technological entrepreneur and Future 50 donor of ours. Sarah Longbottom (MNZM) is the founder and former executive director of Ngā Rangatahi Toa. Smart, successful and more than a little bit rock ‘n’ roll, Melissa and Sarah share with us four key areas to help unf*ck the world.
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.
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.
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.
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: 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.
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.
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.
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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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.
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.”
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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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.
“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.
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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“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).
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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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 email@example.com
Words by Esther McLaren and Images by Tim Wightman
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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!
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 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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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
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- 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
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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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Music is storytelling, passion, an apology, it is uplifting and heart-breaking and life-changing. Music is cathartic and therapeutic to people all around the world – regardless of race, gender, class or capability. We spoke to two people, involved with our partner charities, who understand this better than some.
Music courses through Monty Clark’s veins, instrumentally and vocally. Embroiled in the foster care system from a young age, Monty was raised in Pukekohe by his grandparents until he was a teenager. Surrounded by music Monty picked up a myriad of waiata from his grandmother, who only spoke Māori, and got his percussion ability from his mute grandfather (a fact that he chuckles over when telling us).
Monty’s first live performance was at the age of 16 and now he performs every week, teaching the ukulele to the homeless at DCM and busking on the streets of Wellington – although not so often in winter, and who can blame him?
Monty first got involved with DCM about three-and-a-half years ago when they helped him find accommodation. But Monty doesn’t classify himself as homeless – instead he is transient, never staying put in one place for too long – a musical nomad. He is lucky to come from a big extended family so it was only on rare occasions he would have nowhere to stay. He’s lived in Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Bluff, Invercargill, Dunedin, Timaru, Blenheim and Pahiatua – to name a few!
Now he has taken his previous experience with music and applied it at DCM. The therapy of music was something that Monty experienced early. It gave him confidence when he had none. It boosted the little self-esteem that he had. And this is something that he is trying to instil in the groups he runs at DCM. He looks back on his time with his grandparents and is grateful for the life they gave him. The knowledge of traditional music and embracing where you come from is not a fact that Monty takes lightly. He understands the importance of feeling like you belong, like you are part of something bigger than you. Seeing a lot of Māori and Pacific Island people coming through DCM, Monty tries to incorporate traditional songs into their lessons, and is always keen to see other ethnicities coming in and sharing their knowledge with the group.
For the people coming to Monty’s classes their experience is threefold. One, they get to learn from someone who understands them, who understands the lives they lead – there is no judgement or harsh critique. Two, their confidence levels grow as they become more adept at their music of choice, just as Monty’s has. Three, some of them become performers! That’s right, when they are ready Monty takes members from his group out to busk with him to help them develop – and to earn a bit of money. For Monty this is one of his favourite parts: watching those that he has helped establish themselves with music.
When we asked Monty what his thoughts of DCM and music therapy were he said, simply, that DCM is the winner. They have helped him turn his talent and love into a tool to pass on to others who need it the most.
Photography by Pat Shepherd. Words by Jd Nodder
Show your support at www.onepercentcollective.org/dcm
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Music is storytelling, passion, an apology, it is uplifting and heart-breaking and life-changing. Music is cathartic and therapeutic to people all around the world – regardless of race, gender, class or capability. We spoke to two people, involved with our partner charities, who understand this better than some.
Julie Herbert's grandson Ryan is a 14 (nearly 15) year-old boy whose playlist ranges from Mozart through to Coldplay and, to Julie’s satisfaction, a bit of Neil Diamond. Ryan is your typical pubescent teenage boy; loud, doesn’t always listen in school and loves spending time with his mates. But there is something a little different about Ryan.
When he was just five months old Ryan was shaken, resulting in a lifelong diagnosis of growth and developmental disabilities. With a vocabulary of around 100 words, the brain age of a two or three year old, speech problems and cortical blindness, a day in the life of Ryan Herbert can be challenging.
Ever since taking on Ryan’s care at eight months old, Julie and her family have gone through a huge adjustment. Some days are simple: Ryan’s grandfather will drop Ryan at his school, Albany Junior High, and pick him up at 1:30 pm – he can’t really handle being there any longer than that before he gets tired and his brain and vision shut down completely. And others are not so simple: one afternoon Julie spent 95 minutes in the carpark at Greenlane Clinical Centre trying to coax Ryan out of the car for his appointment, but Ryan refused to budge. Every day is different, minute to minute.
As a baby, Ryan had an ear for music. He would perk up when a tune was played and beat his tiny hands or feet in time. The doctors told Julie that this was just a coincidence, a symptom of his condition – nonetheless Julie was convinced that Ryan was aware, that he knew what music was and how it was making him feel. Music runs in the family after all. Julie is a singer and so were both of her parents and Ryan is the most musical of all her grandchildren; a fact that Julie simultaneously rejoices and mourns, because Ryan won’t be able to make a life from his talents.
One day Julie was in the hospital for Ryan and saw a brochure for Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre and for the past eight years Julie has been taking Ryan to Raukatauri every week. For 40 minutes in the day Ryan is at peace. The things that he struggles with at school – doing as he’s told, joining in with the class – come so easily to Ryan when he is at Raukatauri.
Music is a huge part of Ryan’s life and it’s a part that he loves. The therapy sessions are always different and Ryan is constantly learning; skills that he takes home and keeps practising. He’ll set up in his music room at the piano or drum kit, sit his Bob the Builder toy down next to him and teach Bob the music that he has learnt at Raukatauri that day. In therapy, Ryan is the student joyfully absorbing, at home he is the therapist passing on his skills to others. It is a cycle of wellbeing that Ryan thrives in.
Going to Raukatauri has helped Ryan immeasurably. Sure, there are days when the whole family is exhausted because Ryan couldn’t sleep the night before or when Ryan is angry and the best thing to do is stay out of his way. But on the days when music seeps into Ryan’s life there is no substitute for the relief that it brings to the Herbert family. They love music and music loves them.
Photography by RMTC. Words by Jd Nodder
Spread more musical support at www.rmtc.org.nz
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- With Ria Hall & Rob Ruha -
Music is a universal language – or so say the Collective. And with this in mind we’d be crazy to overlook the significance of indigenous music and it’s inherent value to a country and its people. Luckily for us, here in Aotearoa, our indigenous music still has a strong presence throughout the country. With kapa haka in schools and the plethora of voices advocating for the resurgence of Māori language and culture, we’re miles ahead of some, but we still have some work to do. We asked two seminal Māori musicians to share with us their thoughts on music and Māoridom – what it means for them and for us as a nation.
Give us a bit of background on the two of you. Where did you grow up? How do you think this has helped shape who you are today?
Ria Hall: I grew up as the youngest of four girls in beautiful Tauranga Moana, raised by my father. As a result I am very strong in my convictions and who I am. I’m grateful for the ebbs and flows of my upbringing: being raised in my tribal area amongst my hapū and whānau has given me a great sense of strength in my identity, which I believe allows me to move very comfortably in the musical world – mainstream and Māori.
Rob Ruha: Growing up, I was taught that my Māoritanga is a powerful tool and will ensure that I achieve any aspiration I have. I was raised in a small East Coast town called Wharekahika or Hick’s Bay, in a papakāinga with my grandmother, five of my mum’s siblings, their kids and partners for the first part of my life. When I think of those times growing up on ‘The Coast’ I remember warm summers, everyone’s front doors occupied with people waiting to invite you in for a kai, and a marae that was always alive with activities for the community.
And when did you first start singing? What does music really mean to you?
Ria: Music is life. Māori people sing from birth – it’s just a part of our cultural narrative – so to pinpoint a time is a hard thing to do because I’ve been doing it forever. Professionally, I probably started when I was 17 while I was still in school and very much involved in performing arts and kapa haka.
Rob: I first started to sing in kapa haka when I was a young boy – a story that many of our rangatahi share. In 2014, I was launched into the New Zealand music scene with powerful support and guidance from Maisey Rika, Tama Waipara and Ria, and I have never looked back. Music has been, and will always be my world.
You’ve both had pretty full-on schedules the last couple of months! How do you keep it up?
Rob: Lots of rest, good food, water and touching base with friends and whanau who are working in music. Finding inspiration in others and what they are doing always gets me excited about what I could do next! Although, the enthusiasm to wake up and do something you love is never hard to find.
Ria: I just finished ‘Soul Sistas of Matariki’ – it was an incredible experience to be surrounded by these women. We were sharing our own stories and life experiences through this musical journey. We were embodying what Matariki is – a time to come together in unity. I find at times like these it’s easy to keep going.
The tradition of storytelling is central to te ao Māori. How did growing up Māori influence how you use music to tell your stories?
Rob: The primary function of Māori music is to tell stories. Our traditional songs and haka are like the portable hard drives of our culture. My entire existence has been to serve this understanding and continue the tradition in a kapa haka context and a contemporary context as a solo artist. All of my compositions tell a story and I like my instruments to take on a character too. One brief I gave my percussionist for my waiata ‘Takiri’ was to be the thunder and lightning, so he mimicked the sounds in nature and captured the way our souls react to the power of these natural phenomena.
Ria: My culture is my backbone. And when creating, I tend to think from a cultural perspective because that’s what I know. It’s a natural occurrence that takes no thought process. It happens like the air I breathe.
Ria, can you tell us a bit about ‘Aotearoa’ and why you think it is important for te reo Māori to have a stronger presence in mainstream media?
Ria: ‘Aotearoa’ was born out of an idea to unite our country through te reo Māori. It was a no-brainer to be involved in this song when I was asked. I hope that our country will continue to support Māori language music, given that it’s the language of this land. There has been an attitude that songs in Māori are not good enough for mainstream radio – not that we care about opinion, we just want the language and messages heard because they represent us best.
Do you think that it's becoming more ‘normalised’ for te reo to be consumed by mainstream audiences?
Rob: As the pool of first language Māori speakers grows, so too does the pool of te reo Māori composers. It is a natural progression. I think if the music is good, people will enjoy it and play it regardless of the language the lyrics are written in.
Are we are seeing more examples of collective community? Have you noticed it transcending race?
Rob: Do you mean people coming together regardless of race, background or language, for a common cause? Yes. My album Pūmau is an example of that. The Kingitanga and Kotahitanga Movements are examples of that. I have been all around the world promoting indigenous views on contemporary issues through my music and they have been received, supported and celebrated. I hope this grows more.
Ria: This is a time where we need to come together and create a collective understanding. It is only through understanding and love that we can work as a collective community. Our society has a bit of growing up to do in that respect.
Why do you think that music inspires us?
Rob: Because it gets performed to a room full of people, but still has the ability to take you away to your own special place. People appreciate and love that.
Ria: Our lives would be dull without it. I know that mine would be!
Do you have any final words about the importance of music and generosity in Māoridom?
Rob: The Māori world I grew up in celebrated and championed values like working together, humility, giving to those in need, innovation, speaking the truth, love and spreading hope. Taking and selfishness were looked down upon – no one want to be called a hamu. This world is preserved and promoted in our music. Māori music is our history books, our manuals for today and our windows into the future. This is what I want to leave my children and my people. This is why I create music.
Ria: Manaakitanga is a word that encompasses so much. The essence of it is about being selfless and putting others before yourself with love. Music is no different. It is an act of sharing, thinking about the audience and how they feel. And the audience respond accordingly. Reciprocity – the way our nation should be thinking as we move forward into the future.
Words by Jd Nodder
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Jo Randerson is the artistic director of Wellington counter-culture theatre company Barbarian Productions, which has produced works such as Brides, an installation of audience views on marriage equality, and Political Cuts, a ‘salon’ of discussion about the 2014 general election. Max Rashbrooke is a journalist and author who has written extensively on inequality and edited the top-selling book Inequality: A New Zealand Crisis. Jo and Max got together for The Generosity Journal to discuss their experiences within the delicate art and craft of storytelling.
Jo Randerson: I guess we’re both trying to tell stories about inequality, justice, those kinds of issues – but it’s not straightforward, is it?
Max Rashbrooke: Well, no. Telling stories is both at the heart of what I do – 90 percent of journalism really is just telling people’s stories – but it’s also the most challenging thing to do well. When someone is sharing their story with you, but it ends up getting used in a bigger piece of writing, it’s very easy to impose your own narrative on their story, to use it in ways that maybe they didn’t anticipate. And I think the average person, going into an encounter with a journalist, has almost no idea what’s going to happen, so there are really big ethical issues that come up around that.
JR: And are people happy to share their stories with you?
MR: Not always, no. I remember one group of people in Porirua East who said, ‘Actually, we’re a bit sick of being studied, everyone comes and asks us what’s it like living in a low-income community, and it’s a bit intrusive.’ And you can see why they would feel like that. But most of the time it’s a fascinating process, because I’m a relatively private person myself, and I’m aware of how intrusive this work is. I’m asking people very personal questions – ‘How much do you earn, how poor are you, tell me more about the terrible things that have happened to you in your life?’ So, a part of me is always surprised that people will talk to me.
But what I always have to remember, and what is deeply true, is that people can find it incredibly empowering, because very often nobody has ever asked them for their stories. And what do we have that is more important than our stories? Our stories are ourselves. So it can be really fulfilling. In a way, the interview process is me saying to these people, ‘I value your lives – and so will other people’.
The thing about the interview process, though, is that it’s not always very subtle. Whereas art has a lot more indirect ways to get people to reveal things, I think.
JR: My mum always says that, when I was a teenager, if she asked me to tell her something face-to-face, I wouldn’t answer her, but if we were driving in the car together, because we weren’t looking at each other, I would just tell her all of this stuff that was going on. In other words, an indirect way can be a really powerful way to get at what is happening with someone. And so I’m very interested in using theatrical techniques to help people reveal things without them having to feel like they are “telling a story”. It’s like a parallel path to what you’re doing in journalism, but really grounded in the arts. And it’s inspired in part by that idea that art helps you reveal the truth that you don’t know you know.
MR: Which I think is absolutely true – but how do you help people bring to the light those things that they didn’t know they knew?
JR: With something like Brides, what we did was get people to put on a wedding dress, as a way to start to unpack what they think about marriage equality without directly asking them. A lot of it is about theatrical skills, thinking about what the visual appeal for people is going to be. Brides was set up like a gallery installation, so people would see these dresses but, hopefully, quite quickly see other people in the shop and realise it wasn’t a normal bridal shop. And their curiosity then drew them in.
It’s also about finding the right questions to ask. Partnering with ChangeMakers Refugee Forum recently, they approached us with a group of passionate young people from refugee backgrounds who wanted to do an art project. Together we figured out we wanted to ask a question that would provoke interesting, unconventional responses, and we talked a lot around what that question should be. And people talked a lot about the phrase, ‘Where do you come from?’ as a predictable and patronising question, and the group talked about alternatives, such as ‘Where would you like to be?’ But what we ended up with was, ‘What makes you happy?’ – which seems quite general and vague, but in that context was a really accessible question to ask. And it drew out some really beautiful, poetic stories of simple things like families being happy together, or ‘a smile’.
MR: So it’s about asking the right questions – but also it’s about opening up spaces where people feel comfortable saying a range of things, right?
JR: Yes – like with Political Cuts, where some of the MPs that came along to the salon said to us, ‘Thank you for having an open space – normally, all the scenarios we go into are very oppositional, it’s all, “We speak, you attack, we defend.” ’ Which is also what it’s like in Parliament. And for us, Barbarian Productions, in general we really try to ensure that we are not about opposition, we are about dialogue. What we find is that when you set up that space properly, in a way that makes it clear you want dialogue, you actually have less hostility, because you haven’t created the environment for that.
MR: I find that, too, in journalism – that if you set up the space right, in the sense of you make it clear why you want to talk to someone, you’re open and honest about the nature of the project, then it’s amazing what people will share with you.
I often go into these projects thinking, ‘Why on earth are people sharing this information?’ For Inequality, we had someone who shared her entire weekly budget with me as a way of showing that the problems people face are not because they can’t budget, it’s simply that they don’t have enough income. So we went through her whole budget, we printed it all in a book – and it’s so personal! I’m amazed by the generosity. They are making a gift of their own personal information, their deepest stories, and are sharing it with me and trusting me to accurately represent it to the world. But I guess that, as with the best relationships of any kind, it’s a gift exchange. They are gifting me their story, and in return I am giving them a voice that they wouldn’t otherwise have. And it’s that honest exchange that is at the heart of what I’m trying to do.
JR: And providing a platform for people’s expression is really exciting. I still like writing, and authoring plays in the more traditional sense – but it’s equally exciting to create platforms for other people to say something. That kind of empowerment where people tell their own stories, especially less-heard voices, is pretty exciting. Bringing people out of their normal, everyday zone, seeing people engaging with people they don’t normally engage with, that’s also a huge driver for me. When I see all of that happening together, I feel very, very happy. I’d like to keep working that way.
Image by Sam LaHood.
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Blake Mycoskie single-handedly popularised the ‘one for one’ giving model. These days, his business card reads ‘Chief Shoe Giver’, and he spends his time figuring out how else he can mobilise the power of his multinational brand, TOMS, to help out.
The distinctive blue-and-white logo on the back of TOMS shoes is based on the stripes of the flag of Argentina, because that’s where it all began. Travelling there in 2006, Blake Mycoskie, then 29, immersed himself in the culture – playing polo, dancing the tango, drinking malbec and adopting the local canvas shoe, the alpargata. He liked alpargatas so much that he wondered fleetingly if the lightweight slip-ons would have market appeal in the United States, his home country.
On his travels he encountered a couple of American volunteers who were distributing donated shoes, and they pointed out what a pair of shoes could accomplish: allow kids to attend school, play outside safely, protect them from cuts, blisters and soil-transmitted diseases. But the supply of donated shoes was irregular and unreliable. Mycoskie wondered if the solution lay not in the world of charity, but in the one he knew so well: entrepreneurship. He was in Argentina taking a break from the demands of running his fourth start-up, and he started turning over the idea in his mind: what if people could easily buy a pair of shoes for someone else – by buying a pair for themselves? “Something about the idea felt so right, even though I had no experience, or even connections, in the shoes business,” he wrote in his autobiography, Start Something that Matters. “I did have one thing that came to me almost immediately: a name for my new company. I called it TOMS. I’d been playing around with the phrase Shoes for a Better Tomorrow, which eventually became Tomorrow’s Shoes, then TOMS.”
Back in California, Mycoskie recounted the story to a few of his friends who gave him ideas for stores that might be interested in selling such shoes. “You don’t always need to talk with experts; sometimes the consumer, who just might be a friend or acquaintance, is your best consultant,” he says.
One weekend, Mycoskie visited one of the shops his friends had recommended, meeting the shoe buyer – a woman who judged countless brands for inclusion in the store. “From the beginning, she realised that TOMS was more than just a shoe,” says Mycoskie. “It was a story. And she knew she could sell both of them.”
The next person to hear the story was a Los Angeles Times journalist, who splashed it on the front page of the newspaper’s style section – prompting orders for 2,200 pairs. (Mycoskie had just 160 in a room of his apartment.) That was when Vogue called. In the end, TOMS sold – and subsequently donated – 10,000 pairs of shoes in its first six months of operation. Ralph Lauren offered to design a pair, his first brand collaboration in 40 years, and the American phone network AT&T made a television advertisement featuring one of the TOMS shoe drops in Uruguay. The story had won everyone over.
Since then, TOMS has distributed more than 35 million pairs of shoes to children around the world – and to give that number some scale, it’s about nine pairs for every New Zealander. In 2011, Mycoskie started adding other ‘one for one’ products. Buy sunglasses, give restored sight. Buy coffee beans, give access to safe water.
“Our mission is very simple,” Mycoskie tells The Generosity Journal. “It’s to use business to improve lives.” Not just the lives of the people TOMS serves, but its customers, employees and suppliers, too. The chain should benefit everyone who takes part in it, says Mycoskie. “That’s our first responsibility, our real responsibility,” he says. “We love seeing other brands with similar business models. We actually launched the TOMS Marketplace a couple years ago where we highlight and sell various products from socially conscious brands, like Krochet Kids, stone + cloth, and HALF UNITED. It would be great to see more and more businesses and social entrepreneurs get started with the ‘one for one’ business model.”
Mycoskie announced in 2014 that TOMS would launch a new ‘one for one’ product every year. The TOMS Roasting Company, which kicked off in 2014, offers direct-trade coffee to consumers and donates safe water access; earlier this year, the TOMS Bag Collection was established to distribute birth kits and train birth attendants. Mycoskie is a well of ideas, and given his list of hobbies it sounds like he just doesn’t stop – he’s an avid snowboarder, sailor and golfer, among other outdoor pursuits. “Some of my best ideas come when I’m away from the office and doing something active,” he says. “When I run, I can let my mind wander and I actually come up with a lot of ideas.”
As well as his friends, Mycoskie says he turns to his family when he needs advice. “I really admire my father. He taught me to be persistent, hardworking and to continue developing into a man of character and integrity.”
Although now, at 39, Mycoskie can start dishing out advice himself. He says it’s important for young entrepreneurs to remember that they’re at an advantage rather than a disadvantage. “People, especially other business people, are excited about young entrepreneurs. They kind of see themselves in you, so it’s a great opportunity to get mentorship. It’s also a great idea to get your foot in the door. They see you as a young, driven entrepreneur and so they give you a chance.”
That’s why, says Mycoskie, he dropped out of university and started a business – his first company, a laundry service, launched when he was 18. “If I was trying to get my foot in the door today, people would just see me as another entrepreneur or business guy.”
Nowadays, what gets him out of bed in the morning? “Knowing that I have the joy and privilege of helping and inspiring people; from the communities that we give in, to the people who come to work at TOMS each day and hopefully to the young generation of budding entrepreneurs who can see that it is possible to merge your passion with business and be successful. It’s pretty incredible what this movement has grown from its humble beginnings and I feel grateful every day that I get to call this my job. I love what I do, and I’m absolutely inspired by the people I work with, the people I meet and the places I am privileged to travel to.”
Words by Rebekah White.
Visit www.toms.com and grab a pair of TOMS to put shoes on the feet of a child in need.
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Early in 2012 Jamie McDell became a hit among New Zealand pop fans with her debut single “You’ll Never Take That Away”. Now, four years on, Jamie has finished her graphic design degree, released a second album Ask Me Anything and is spending time inspiring others through her music and social media presence. A coast-loving, outdoors junkie, Jamie filled us in on her personal inspirations and aspirations, what’s in the pipeline, and how she thinks music can spark more generosity in the world.
Tell us a bit about you! You grew up in Mangawhai, right? How do you think that helped shape the person you are today? I’m lucky Mangawhai is eventually where my parents decided to settle but that was after a few years of different adventures! Our first started when I was seven and Dad decided it was time to pack up, live on a yacht and sail around the Mediterranean. Living on a yacht is not your usual upbringing but probably what really shaped how I see life today. My sister and I both have a strong appreciation for the outdoors and the simpler things in life. Living on a boat taught us to be adaptable to many situations and I think gave us open minds at a young age.
Some have compared you to Jewel and Taylor Swift – how do you feel about that? Do you have any musical idols, someone who inspires you to be a better person?
As much as musicians usually find it frustrating to be compared to another I find these comparisons extremely flattering. I hope they’re not just because I’m blonde and play the guitar, I would love to think it’s got something to do with my songwriting ability! But if not, that’s okay too, I’m also proud to be blonde.
Usually a musician will inspire me by what they use their music for rather than the actual music itself. For example, Jack Johnson has always been a real legend to me in the way he uses his platform to promote the protection of our environment. I'm a big fan of country music and I think that’s mainly because I enjoy listening to good storytellers. I’ve said before that I think my best work will come when I’m around 40 years old, once I’ve had some solid lifetime to sing about.
You’re an avid supporter of one of our partner charities, Sustainable Coastlines, how did you get involved with the team there? Sustainable Coastlines have done such an amazing job at being a familiar name amongst the New Zealand community. Because my music is often ocean themed I was a good fit for one of their charity balls, so that was my first event with the team. Later (2015) I was invited on a trip to Australia to help discuss the issue of plastic pollution alongside other Contiki Storytellers and Surfrider. We did beach clean-ups and experienced first-hand the devastating affects; I’d always been aware of the harm single-use plastic had but it really hits you when you’re there picking it up off the place that has brought your life so much joy. When I got back to New Zealand I wanted to invite some of my fans along to a beach clean-up and that’s where Sustainable Coastlines came in and helped to make it happen. I find their whole team so inspirational.
You have really embraced the power of social media to make a difference environmentally. That’s awesome! I do really love social media and the freedom it gives you to discuss anything. My intentions behind a lot of my content is to inspire young people to get outdoors and experience things like surfing and diving etc. My want to protect the ocean comes from the amazing adventures it has given me throughout my life so my theory is, if I can share those experiences with others then maybe they’ll develop their own passion for protecting it. When people feel their own sense of responsibility, without being told they should care, they care because it becomes part of who they are.
So, what’s next? What’s happening in the world of Jamie McDell for 2016 and on? I’m always creating new music, but at the moment I’m working on a project that is a little different! I’ve started writing songs with my sister, Tess, which we’ll be releasing throughout this year as a duo called Dunes. It’s been really refreshing working with Tess, she’s got a few different perspectives on things and it’s really nice to be able to bounce ideas off each other. I’m also hoping to start some initiatives that will give people alternatives to using plastic bags – I’m at the beginning stages, but keep an eye out, I guess!
Why do you think that music inspires us? That’s actually a hard question as often, as a writer, I find we inspire the music. Topics that are being discussed in today’s music are stories of what is going on around us and in our communities. Luckily a lot of those stories revolve around change and becoming more comfortable with being yourself, so I think we’re being encouraged to be more creative and confident in sharing our thoughts and opinions.
And, last but not least, how do you think that music can, and is, sparking more generosity in the world? The greatest thing about music is that it brings people together. We are all starting to realise that the more we work together and understand each other’s needs and wants, the better and more effective our chance is of truly making a difference that works for everyone.
We would love to hear why music inspires you and how you think music can, and is, sparking more generosity in the world? Share your thoughts with us at www.whymusic.nz
Words by Jd Nodder. Photography by Jordan Stent.