Food We spoke to Selina Juul, founder of Stop Wasting Food, about her journey from shelf-stacker to flag-bearer of the global anti food waste movement.
Farming It’s farming, with a twist. Vertical farming in Singapore is providing a healthy living for urban citizens. See for yourself in our stunning photo story.
Fire hoses Rescuing fire hoses from languishing in landfill, Elvis and Kresse crafts bags, belts and accessories from the London Fire Service’s old hoses.
02 May 2017 ISSN 2513-8553
With kind support from...
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And join a community of like-minded people? This year, the Beautiful Ideas Co is delivering OpenMaker – an opportunity for makers, digital innovators and manufacturers to collaborate on ideas to secure one of five £20,000 awards on the Mersey Estuary area (North Liverpool and Birkenhead); and with Islington Mill in Salford. The funds can be used to design, develop, prototype, test, trial or apply new innovations and creations – they need to involve at least one manufacturer, and one or more makers – and have the potential to grow. It might include a new product or new process, and can involve any sort of making - wood, metal, textiles, sound, food, plastic, brick or rubber; it can be onshore, offshore, airborne or indoors; miniature, magnificent or monstrous - we're open to your ideas! OpenMaker is building a community across four emerging makermanufacturing communities in Europe – the UK, Italy, Slovakia and Spain. And we're aiming to accelerate the fourth Industrial Revolution. You can find out more here: http://openmaker.eu/about/ With Kind Support From: Beautiful Ideas Co, Accord Group and OpenMaker EU
Editor’s Note Our current linear economy model is reaching its limits. The norm for hundreds of years, the linear economy has relied on vast amounts of materials and energy to be expended to keep up with demand. We live in a throwaway society, and enabled by mass-production of products on a global scale, we place little value on many of the items that we own. But this model is inherently unsustainable and is currently reliant on finite materials to keep it going. There has been a shift in recent years of global brands, big and small, adopting a circular economy model, which – by design – is restorative and regenerative, effective and efficient. The circular economy keeps products and materials inside the manufacturing process, little is expended, therefore everything retains its value. The circular economy is a model that we have been encountering a lot here at Ethos. Although our magazines aren’t themed, we have noticed a trend growing amongst the businesses and people whose stories we tell. Our cover star, Fairphone, is the perfect example of the circular economy in action; producing the world’s first ethical smartphone, whilst championing a circular economy model in the electronics industry – a system of production which is inherently wasteful. We speak to Elvis and Kresse, the UK-based company which is refashioning old, disused London fire hoses into luxury lifestyle pieces. And we speak to Selina Juul, founder of Stop Wasting Food, the Danish movement using a circular economy model to help eradicate food waste on the continent. And it’s not just businesses adopting a circular model. Our first special edition of Ethos Magazine, People Power – which is free to subscribers of Ethos – explores the theme of communities building their own sustainable, grassroots economies, many utilising the circular economy model, to help their community to flourish. Lucy Chesters - Editor
Editor: Lucy Chesters firstname.lastname@example.org Editorial assistant: Emma Jones Design: Nicholas Dawes Publisher: Fiona Shaw email@example.com Printed in the UK by Resolution Print Management Limited Contributors: Jack Atkins, Andrew Beattie, Laura Brown, Joe Dodgshun, Becka Griffin, Patrick Hurley, Jim Johnston, Emma Jones, Ari Kestin, Allan Melia, Elena Rodriquez Blanco, Fiona Shaw, Cathy Xiao Chen Ethos Magazine Ltd. Managing director: Andrew Beattie Operations director: Patrick Hurley Head of Film: Allan Melia Advertising sales: Andrew Beattie firstname.lastname@example.org The Mezzanine, Northern Lights Building, Cains Brewery, 5 Mann Street, Liverpool L8 5AF www.ethos-magazine.com To subscribe to Ethos please visit www.shop.ethos-magazine.com or email email@example.com for more details. © Ethos Magazine Ltd. 2017. No part of this magazine may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form, without the prior permission of the publisher. You may not distribute, display or copy any of the contents of the pages contained in this magazine to third parties without the prior written permission of the publisher.
Cover Photography: Fairphone
A round-up of Ethos’s top eight ethical fashion brands, smart cities and sustainability blogs
Fight the Power
Fairphone, the world’s first ethical smartphone company, brings us modular handsets, responsibly-sourced minerals and recycled mobiles
Feeding a Movement UK households throw away £470 of food every year; in the US it’s $1,000. Meet Selina Juul, the whirlwind behind a 25% reduction in Denmark’s food waste
Close Quarters How do we house people? Leeds Community Homes crowdfunded £362,000, in an innovative approach to one of the defining problems of our time…
Work Space: Impact Hub Stockholm In a new regular feature, we choose a work space or network, and find out what they do and who they do it with
Lodging with the Locals Since its 1980s awakening, Belize’s Lodge at Chaa Creek has led the Central American ecotourism scene
Good Stock The Social Stock Exchange focuses on helping businesses that do good to grow
Talking Pictures Our resident film maker Allan Melia talks about Ethos’s latest adventures...
Fresh Ideas Free Thinking Inspiration and ideas from Brazilian social entrepreneur and Awesome Foundation trustee Renato Orozco
Ethos Meets: Mark Stevenson The author, broadcaster and entrepreneur, talks technology, the future of work, and how to make it work for you
Onwards and Upwards Our first photo feature, and it’s beautiful. Jim Johnston travels to Singapore to take a look at vertical farming in this uber-urban environment
Feel like your energy bills are always going up?! The People’s Energy Company is doing things differently, and taking on the big boys
Certified Success B Corp accreditation help us pinpoint businesses that are forces for social and environmental good. Toronto Now is just one example…
Let’s talk: Airbnb Two entrepreneurs stand on the soapbox and tell us why they love – and loathe – Airbnb
One man’s rubbish… Elvis and Kresse and Recycle Beirut tell us what they each do to turn trash into treasure
In my City: Hull An insider’s insight to Hull – 2017’s UK Capital of Culture
Recycle, Reuse, Reimagine
What’s your ethos? We ask everyone we talk to. And here’s what they say...
64 54 12
Hull Folk and Maritime Fest Lloyd Dobbs Hull Authenticitys Elena Rodriguez Blanco Barcelona Nimber Ari Kestin Oslo
The Peopleâ€™s Energy Co. David Pike Gullane, East Lothian Fairphone Miquel Ballester Amsterdam Stop Wasting Food Selina Juul Copenhagen
Leeds Community Homes Rob Greenland Leeds We Do Things Differently Mark Stevenson Brighton Impact Hub, Stockholm Cathy Xiao Chen Stockholm
Elvis and Kresse Kresse Wesling UK Recycle Beirut Kassem Kazac Beirut B Lab, UK Scott Drummond London
Toronto NOW Alice Klein Toronto Comcrop Jim Johnston Singapore Chaa Creek Lucy and Mick Fleming Belize
Social Stock Exchange Debbie Ryan London Nossa Cidade Renato Orozco Brazil
Words: Emma Jones
Ethical Fashion Brands
Nisolo, collaborates with local artisans
Naja, is serious about empowering
in Peru when designing and making its
women. The Underwear for Hope
handmade leather shoes, chukka boots
programme trains and employs single
and bags. Nisolo provides fair wages and
mothers in Colombia to create its
CRED CRED makes beautiful jewellery with ethical integrity. CRED fights against unethical mining, and ensures fair treatment to the miners sourcing its
With conscious consumerism on the rise, fashionistas around the world are becoming increasingly more aware of where their clothes are being made. Here are eight of the best.
Minna Minna is a ‘eco luxe’ brand, producing ethical wedding wear for the whole wedding party. Its wedding dresses,
bridesmaid dresses, and veils are all
Eco Outfitters is a dynamic, ethical
made from sustainable, organic, recycled
and sustainable clothing company set
and locally-produced textiles.
up by two mothers, passionate about
improving the quality of school uniforms. Its products are made from organic
cottons, which are grown without the
People Tree is a pioneer in the fair trade
use of synthetic fertiliser and harmful
and environmentally sustainable fashion
movement. The brand is partnered
with fair trade artisans and farmers in
Combining ICT with the Internet of Things, smart cities are reimagining urban development. Here are some of our favourites from around the world.
Brothers We Stand
collection of ethical and eco-wear for
City: Bristol, UK Project: Bristol is Open
Brothers We Stand supports fashion
men and women.
Bristol is Open has multiple facilities that
enthusiasts to build a wardrobe of stylish
have successful turned Bristol into a
the developing world to produce a wide
and sustainably-made menswear. All
smart city; these include a visualisation
its products are ethically produced;
Matt & Nat
facility, network connectivity and Internet
designed to please and created to last,
Matt & Nat, is a 100% vegan accessories
of Things (IoT) hosting. The 5G, high-
as well as having a footprint tab detailing
brand offering bags made exclusively
speed connectivity provides a unique
its social and environmental impact.
from environmentally and animal friendly
opportunity for academics and students
materials; the linings of its bags are made
to conduct experiments at a city scale.
from recycled plastic bottles.
City: Milton Keynes, UK Project: Community Action: MK
City: Dubai, UAE Project: The Happiness Impact
Tortoise and Lady Grey
Community Action: MK encourages the
This project creates happiness by
decided to cut fast fashion out of her
people of Milton Keynes to be engaged
embracing technological innovation
life and only buy clothes from ethical
and active in their community. MK
making Dubai an efficient, seamless,
fashion companies. The blog answers
Community Energy Alliance promotes
safe and impactful destination. The
questions about ethical fashion and gives
and celebrates renewable energy
Happiness Meter is the first initiative in
suggestions on how to shop ethically.
initiatives, with a focus on community-
the world that interactively measures
owned energy models.
people’s happiness daily; meters
ensure that the least satisfied areas are
The Note Passer
Inspiration for a better, sustainable
City: Amsterdam, Netherlands Project: Foodlogica
future, one that’s full of more meaning
Amsterdam is continuously improving
its infrastructure, technology, energy,
City: Pune, India Project: Maximum Solar City
waste and water systems. Foodlogica is
Pune aspires to become one of the most
a project linking local food, consumers
livable cities in India by solving its core
A blog for mums looking to live a more
and businesses in the city via transport
infrastructure issues in a future-proof
sustainable life, providing its followers
which reduces emissions, congestion
and economical way. This initiative will
with well-researched information to help
allow the city to benefit from improved
them make well-informed changes.
energy sufficiency, cost savings
The blog’s founder, Summer Edwards,
and less waste.
for consumers and environmental
City: Copenhagen, Denmark Project: The Copenhagen Wheel
My Plastic-free Life
A comprehensive resource on plastic-
At least half of Copenhagen’s citizens
free living, expressing how easy it is to
cycle to work and the Copenhagen
live without plastic, whilst encouraging
Wheel encourages the other 50%
others to follow suit.
to start. The Copenhagen Wheel
transforms ordinary bikes into hybrid e-bikes.
Stylish, sustainable living with an emphasis on social justice. The concept
City: Barcelona, Spain Project: ApparkB
of the blog is, “everyday justice” – normal,
A sensor system that guides drivers
in the areas of the world that need it
to available car parking spaces, the ApparkB app allows drivers to pay for parking online, whilst reducing
everyday actions that can affect change
congestion and emissions on the roads
Founder Alden Wicker brings a unique
perspective to a range of sustainability topics from fair trade lingerie, to
City: New York, USA Project: Trash Track Trash Track’s research team, attaches tags on several types of waste to track its journey through the disposal system. Wireless monitors report the location of
Whether you’re looking to save money whilst saving the planet, or you simply want to live a life with more meaning, you can’t go far wrong with these eight sustainability blogs.
sustainable apartment renovations. www.ecocult.com
Wonderthrift Wonderthrift believes that saving money and saving the planet are complimentary aims. With a specific focus on practical
each piece of rubbish to a central server so citizens can view its journey on a map.
Trash is for Tossers
steps, including recipes for health
The blog promotes a zero-waste lifestyle
products, upcycling and sustainable
as simple, cost-effective, timely and fun.
In my City: Hull With the aim of preserving and creating folk music which is accessible for all, the Hull Folk and Maritime Festival draws over 10,000 people to the city each year. We spoke to festival organiser Lloyd Dobbs, about some of his favourite Hull-haunts, and the best bars to buy a beer… As this year’s UK City of Culture, Hull is awash with cultural goings-on, one of which is the Hull Folk and Maritime Festival. The festival is organised by Lloyd Dobbs, who also works as a youth worker for social enterprise, the Goodwin Development Trust. The Hull Folk and Maritime Festival is located on the Hull marina and former fruit market, which has recently benefited from a resurgence of cafés, bars, galleries and many cultural events and festivals.
A musician and performer himself, Dobbs’s passion is bringing people together through music. With over 10,000 people attending each year, the Hull Folk and Maritime Festival unites the people of Hull through folk music, which is accessible for all during the festival, and through year-round activities, concerts and workshops. Dobbs also works in Hull’s schools and youth centres, where he links the city’s social and maritime history with the art of song and story.
Illustration: Becka Griffin www.etsy.com/uk/shop/BeckaGriffin
Breads and Pastries • • • • •
Olive Tree PIE Jackson’s Bakery (Hull institution!) Fields James Patrick Delicatessen
Sustainable Producers • FareShare Hull and Humber and its 200 community food members • Growers’ Network • East Hull Community Farm • Scrap store • Recycling Unlimited • Re-Paint
Food and Drink Spots
Did you know...? • The boiled sweet and the Yellow Pages were invented in Hull, as were Lemsip, Bonjela and Gaviscon • William Wilberforce, who led the bill that freed slaves in British colonies, was born in Hull • The city’s port complex, the Humber Ports, is the largest in the UK • During WWII, Hull was the most bombed city outside of London, with 90% of its buildings damaged • The George Hotel in Hull city centre lays claim to having the smallest window in England.
• • • • • • • •
Dope Burger Dirty Bird Butler Whites Minerva (also a great pub and home of the Hull Folk Sessions) Humber Street Gallery PAVE Larkin’s Bar The Hot Dog Project
Beer • • • • •
Dive 80 Days Bier Haus Queens Hotel Ye Olde Black Boy Walters Beer
Let’s talk: Airbnb Photography Aiden Meyer
A poster child for the sharing economy, Airbnb is the online platform that allows individuals to rent rooms to visitors from around the world, as an alternative to traditional hotels and B&Bs. But by allowing people to monetise their assets in this way, is the platform a force for good, or does it leave a lot to be desired? Ari Kestin and Elena Rodriguez Blanco discuss both ends of the spectrum...
Ari says... Great companies emerge out of value creation; and Airbnb is no exception to that rule. It’s created a service that provides consumers with more choice than they had before. In a competitive landscape, consumer demand is the ultimate decider – surely millions of returning users can’t be wrong. Airbnb gives consumers the ability to access accommodation solutions that might have been previously unavailable or unattainable. Simply put, Airbnb unlocks hidden value, which in turn has enhanced consumer choice – a result that can only be a force for the good. The value Airbnb creates is not ubiquitous to all. To some, it is a more convenient 12 | Let's talk: Airbnb
solution; to others it is a superior experience to existing hotel rooms; and for others it may be a simple choice between expensive and affordable… It may be the difference between a home-away-from-home, and a lesser enjoyable alternative. Before Airbnb burst onto the scene, consumers had to either accept existing hotel solutions, or use pre-Airbnb home rental options – a process which was either convoluted or simply not possible. Moreover, Airbnb allows homeowners to monetise their assets – something that was not easily possible before. In an ever-challenging employment environment, brought on by globalisation and automation, people will need to depend on new sources of income. Having the ability to monetise one’s skills, knowledge or possessions is one way to make-up the numbers. And as such, Airbnb is accretive here as well. Some may argue that Airbnb impacts the neighbourhoods where short-term rentals are frequent, and a nuisance to nearby residents. However, that is a vast exception to the rule, if at all. In this case, the glass is definitely – and materially – more than half full; any disruption to existing communities is mitigated by the economic expansion to communities that may need it. Others may argue that short term rentals negatively impact the traditional rental market; reducing choice for those looking for long term accommodation – there is little evidence to suggest that this is the case. It might just be another feeble attempt by the incumbents – namely the hotels – to stop the emergence of alternatives to their model.
To put this in perspective, let’s consider the alternative scenario: hotels are the disruptive new model. Can you imagine consumers being told to cease the practice of renting from peers, and to be limited to staying in hotels? Would that be acceptable? I believe not. There are many arguments for and against, yet the negatives barely register compared to the benefits. Consumers are not stupid; they will flock to services that provide them with value. Ari Kestin is the CEO of Nimber, the peer-to-peer delivery service which connects people who need to send something from A to B – smartly, safely and sustainably.
Elena says... Back in November 2016, when first I saw ‘social impact experiences’ advertised by Airbnb, I was excited – if not slightly apprehensive – to see such a major player in the travel sector emphasising a more conscious travel experience. As a social entrepreneur myself, I have been working since 2013 to change the way we travel, through founding my own social experiences company, Authenticitys. At first, Airbnb’s move felt like confirmation of the vision I’ve long had for the travel sector; one which emphasises responsibility and impact through action. But things changed quickly. In February 2017, Airbnb contacted our carefully chosen Authenticitys partners in Barcelona – one of Airbnb’s most popular cities – and invited them to its new ‘experiences’ platform. The social impact experiences we had spent multiple years curating, co-designing and measuring impact for, were now Airbnb’s too. This is a symptom of the larger issue at hand: Airbnb’s growth-at-all-costs way of doing business is having a damaging effect on cities like Barcelona in areas like gentrification, the housing market, and local culture. What’s worse is that Airbnb is pursuing this strategy while still benefiting from its reputation of being a founding member of the so-called ‘sharing economy.’
To this day, most people associate Airbnb as an online platform that allows you to rent an extra room in a local’s flat or home, or stay there while the owner is out of town. While that core idea was indeed founded on the basis of ‘sharing’ – the current reality is far different. There are 17,000 properties to rent in Barcelona alone on Airbnb’s platform. By some estimates, up to half of these are not residences that locals are renting out or ‘sharing.’ They are strictly tourist properties where commercial management companies are interfacing with guests. That is capitalism masked as sharing – pure and simple. Much has been written about the deleterious effect this is having on the housing market in cities from New York, to LA to Paris. In Barcelona, I’ve seen the effects first hand. Once bustling areas of the city, like Born, have turned into disneylandias deshabitadas – or uninhabited Disneylands – where locals rarely step foot as they are overrun by out-oftowners; and basic services for locals, such as supermarkets, and pharmacies, are being replaced with tourist traps. I believe the ‘how’ of business is more important now than ever. As someone who truly believes in the power of travel to change how we experience and engage with our world, it’s deeply disheartening to see a massive company use the ethos and language of ‘social impact experiences’ – a phrase my company actually coined – while not adhering to the values that conscious travel requires. Watching Airbnb scale as quickly as it did with its social impact experiences in Barcelona – without testing the positive impact of the partners it is taking on – makes me gravely question its commitment to this ‘how’. As conscious travellers, I think we must demand better, and not allow Airbnb to hide behind its humble sharing economy beginnings. Elena Rodriguez Blanco is the founder of Authenticitys, an online platform connecting tourists with experiences that create social impact around the world.
What do you think? Email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org
Let's talk: Airbnb | 13
Gullane, East Lothian, UK
Fight the Power Offering an alternative option to the ‘big six’ energy suppliers in the UK, the People’s Energy Company has stolen the spotlight through its electrifying crowdfunding campaign, which has raised over £400,000 to date. Laura Brown spoke to co-founder David Pike… Do you trust your energy company? Co-founder of The People’s Energy Company, David Pike, wants people to think carefully about that. The energy industry might be facing a sea of change in what its fuel is, but its only challenge isn’t just the shift from fossil fuels, but in the very structure of its market. Power has always flowed from the centre of the industry out, but, as he eyes its crowdfunding campaign, with 1,729 backers having raised over £400,000, Pike believes the biggest challenge to the industry itself might just be its customers. Trust is a strange concept to consider when you think about your energy company. Sure, you expect to be able to flick a switch and light to come on; that’s an element of trust. Just as it is to expect hot water to flow from a tap when you turn it. Yet the biggest issue energy companies have, Pike believes, is a lack of trust. 43% of UK consumers don’t trust their energy supplier to act fairly. Around 20 million people, he says, pay money each month for a utility, and they don’t trust the company supplying it.
Photography Drew Hays
14 | Fight the Power
Imagine if they did. The People’s Energy Company is designed to disrupt a model that’s dominated by the ‘big six’ energy companies: E.ON, Npower, British Gas, Scottish Power, EDF Energy and SSE – all of which have a 92.4% share of the market. And big profits to boot. “The model is frustrating,” says Pike. “It’s there to service shareholders and because they’re so important, the customer becomes a necessary evil. The primary responsibility is for the shareholders. There has to be a better way.” The People’s Energy Company could be it. Establishing a crowdfunding campaign, it promises to ‘put profits and ownership of gas and electricity in the hands of UK consumers.’ 75% of the profits will be returned to customers in an annual rebate; within three years, customers will receive free share ownership of the business. With a seat on the board, customers will be empowered to shape and vote on the direction of the company. An ethos of transparency and openness will engender trust.
1,729 backers raised £400,000
43% of UK consumers don’t trust their energy suppliers
20m people pay each month for a utility which is provided by a company that they don’t trust
92.4% the ‘big six’ energy supplier's share of the market
Fight the Power | 15
Putting customers at the heart of the company would be disruptive, Pike believes. If customer satisfaction is taken as a marker of success, then the industry itself isn’t in rude health. The energy regulator Ofgem revealed last autumn that, while complaints to energy companies had halved since 2014, satisfaction among those who had complained, reduced. Over 40% of those who complained and had been told by their supplier the case had been closed, said it hadn’t. Only a third of customers who took part in the survey said their energy company ever gave them the name of someone dealing with their complaint. The appetite to disrupt and to explore a different idea is gaining ground. At the People’s Energy Company’s crowdfunder, it is gaining support; with the average pledge helping it to reach £408,000 being £240, from 1,750 supporters. When they start as energy customers, they won’t need to pay anything for their energy as their pledge has already done that. For new customers, Pike explains, they’ll have to contribute around £60 so that the company can go and buy their energy, around a month in advance. So far, it has almost 2,000 people keen to join and 1,000 who are interested but need to switch from suppliers. A desire to not simply offer an incentive of profit, but also to engender loyalty by offering something different is a vital ingredient in the company’s mission statement. It is, says Pike, bringing 16 | Fight the Power
together a team with a proven track record in customer service, including Peter Lederer, the former chairman of Gleneagles Hotel, and John Wright, the former chief executive of the Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank; their mission is to put people before profits. It promises to focus on existing customers as much as new ones; to make it easier for customers to do things like change their address or number online rather than on the phone; to adopt web chats; and to be an approachable presence on social media – these are all part of the company’s strategy to behave differently to its competitors. The customers are not merely a by-product of a profit-making exercise, but have far more of a say while enjoying a better service. Empowering people to be more in control of their energy is part of a wider movement in the industry. A report by Greenpeace, the European Renewable Energy Federation, Friends of the Earth Europe and REScoop.eu, argued for citizen-owned schemes. The energy market is switching from fossil fuel and nuclear to renewables, it says, but also ‘from a centralised market dominated by large utilities to one in which people produce their own energy and help to manage demand.’ Based on its research, a fifth (19%) of the EU’s electricity demands could be being created by its citizens in 2030. From collectives and co-operatives, micro and small businesses, households and public entities, the
“Last week was the first time the UK was powered without coal production” change would see people with far more control of the market. “Last week was the first time the UK was powered without coal production,” says Pike. “It hasn’t happened since the Industrial Revolution.”
Pike has no desire to be a ‘fat cat.’ He is, he recognises, getting closer to retirement one day. So, this company is part of helping him make his pension. But eventually, if they continue to make profits, while the company will still need to run, 100% of shares will return to those customers.
Two main trends are set to change people’s “We want people to have faith so we need to be behaviour even further, he believes. One will be open and transparent. There are some things we the advent of electric cars, the second being can’t share – like people’s addresses – but there home storage cells which will allow people to store are things we can, like my salary; where are we energy in their own home. With digital meters buying fuel from, and where we are selling it to. It this will mean energy is priced by the hour and means that people will know we do everything for the minute. Storage is widely seen as an area the best reasons.” of opportunity for the UK, even post-Brexit. A recent report from Imperial College suggested This will be important when the inevitable happens, that, ‘the potential savings in the operation of a as it does in the energy industry, when wholesale decarbonised grid by deploying storage could prices go up. reach £8 billion per annum in 2030.’ Combining smart meters with storage solutions, the savings “There may be times when the prices go up, but if could be generated by storing we’re open and transparent power cheapy, but using and “Customer engagement we’ll be able to say: ‘the exporting at high rates. will be vital, as will long wholesale price will increase term policy, to help steer on Wednesday, so your price “Of course,” he says, “that both the industry and the will go up on Thursday,’ but it means switching will take consumer through the also means that if the price place on a scale you’ve shifting landscape ahead” goes down we’ll be able to never seen before.” And pass that information on that’s not necessarily good for the burgeoning straight away to the customer.” energy company. Yet the switching companies are, he argues, a small part of the problem. The In a final report, following the dissolution of the ‘big six’ use switching sites, and pay to reach new Energy and Climate Change Committee – thanks customers. They have to pay for that, so the cost to the Department for Energy and Climate Change gets passed down to the consumer. Instead of being absorbed into the new Department for fundamentally changing where the customer sits Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in 2016 in the energy ecosystem, any policy or proposed – there was a moment of reflection. The energy government shift, be it caps or prize freezes, are industry is at a cross-roads with major changes merely tinkering at the edges. What needs to be ahead. It’s important to consider, the ministers said, done instead is to build a loyal base that doesn’t how energy policy is going to affect customer bills. want to leave. Customer engagement will be vital, as will long term policy, to help steer both the industry and the “This is a movement. There is a better way to consumer through the shifting landscape ahead. do this. We use peer-to-peer, or customers recommending us to their friends or neighbours, The People’s Energy Company may yet have a rather than anything else. And the people we hire small footprint, but a radical change like this is are people who specifically put the customer at the needed to make people feel both empowered and heart. We have core principles and they have to be emboldened to navigate the changing marketplace the priority, with everything we do.” and the turbulence ahead.
Fight the Power | 17
Conflict-Free Calls Photography Fairphone
Creator of the world’s first ethical smartphone, Fairphone is the awardwinning social enterprise, which is offering an alternative to the current smartphones on the market. Lucy Chesters spoke to co-founder Miquel Ballester… Apple, Samsung, Google, LG, Sony… The possibilities are abundant when deciding on a smartphone manufacturer. Which should you invest your money in? It’s a big investment; and often a conflicting decision to make – with many of the leading smartphone manufacturers luring customers in with competitive contracts and musthave hardware upgrades. A conflicting decision, yes; but how many of us are aware that conflict lies at the very heart of the smartphone supply chain? Made from ‘conflict minerals’, smartphones are valuable devices crafted from a combination of precious and rare earth metals, some of which – due to increasing global demand in technology production – are fuelling armed conflict in the African countries where the minerals are mined. One smartphone company dedicated to eradicating the use of conflict minerals in its devices, whilst promoting a culture of recycling and reusing smartphone components, is Fairphone – the Amsterdam-based social enterprise responsible for the world’s first modular smartphone; the Fairphone 2.
The Fairphone 2, which costs €525 and runs on Android and a variety of open source platforms, is rooted in a campaign which sought to draw attention to the current problems with technology manufacturing. “Fairphone was started as an awareness campaign in 2012, which set out to highlight the amount of conflict materials that are being used in the manufacturing of modern day technology,” says Miquel Ballester, co-founder of Fairphone. After taking part in an incubation programme for sustainable businesses, Fairphone was launched in 2013 as a social enterprise with the support of the Waag Society, a foundation which fosters the experimentation of new technology, arts and culture. Ballester, whose background is in industrial design and product engineering, explains the motivations behind the move: “we wanted to look at how we could create products that are more sustainable; both in how they are made, but also products that illicit sustainable behaviours in our consumers and stakeholders.” Following a successful crowdfunding campaign, the Fairphone was born. “In 2013, we launched a 30-day campaign with the objective to crowdfund 5,000 devices,” Ballester tells me. “We sold double that; and by December 2013 we had pre-sold 25,000 devices. It was remarkable to see people paying €325 for a phone in advance, to a company which had never made one before. They were brave enough to support us.”
Conflict-Free Calls | 19
“As consumers, we are used to devices that don’t last very long, therefore there is no attachment to the physical product. But the physical product has the biggest ecological footprint of all” And who were the backers of the campaign? “The backers of our first smartphone were ethical consumers who were ready to commit to a new idea that they believed in. There were people of varied ages and various levels of tech-savvy-ness; from people in the tech industry to people who had never owned a smartphone before. What united them was their readiness to support a new idea that was coming out of the electronics industry.” A smartphone that can be repaired and upgraded quickly and easily by the phone owners themselves, the device is the culmination of a design process which produces minimal harm to people and the planet. Fairphone provides fair labour conditions for the workforce throughout its entire supply chain; and is ensuring that customers can use their phones for longer, by placing the repairing power in their hands. “As consumers, we are used to devices that don’t last very long, therefore there is no attachment to the physical product,” says Ballester. “But the physical product has the biggest ecological footprint of all. There are challenges around repairability, so we considered ways to make devices that are easy to repair. The Fairphone 2 is a modular device, so this is very simple. 20 | Conflict-Free Calls
“Take the screen, for example, which is often one of the first things to break on a smartphone; with the Fairphone 2, customers can replace the screen themselves in less than 30 seconds just with their hands – no tools required,” Ballester tells me. It is this factor that has attracted over 100,000 customers to the Fairphone family; the company’s e-warranty repair system is unique, in that it sends replacement parts to the customers so they can fix the phone themselves. They don’t part ways with their phone for repairs; the speed and ease of repairing the Fairphone 2 allows them to keep their device. It also means that if, for example, an upgrade is made to the phone’s camera, customers can simply replace their existing camera with the latest version. No hardware upgrades necessary. Simple. Many of the biggest smartphone manufacturers, through evolutions in product design, are removing the ability for consumers to easily replace damaged components in their handsets; making it quicker and more effective as a consumer to upgrade to a new handset, rather than fix an existing one. The current lifespan of a smartphone in the United States is little over two years; Fairphone’s goal is to increase this to five years.
“Major smartphone manufacturers are increasingly making product design decisions that take away an individual’s ability to replace the battery or add more memory,” says Elizabeth Jardim, author of a recent Greenpeace report into the global impact of smartphones. “As a result, all the resources, energy, and human effort expended to make each phone are wasted if the phone is damaged; needs a new battery; or the user outgrows the storage capacity.” As a company, Fairphone abides by four main pillars: ‘fair materials’, ‘long-lasting design’, ‘good working conditions’, and ‘reusing and recycling.’ “There are lots of social and environmental challenges that we’re trying to overcome,” says Ballester. “At Fairphone we are providing different solutions to these challenges, and we are delivering step-by-step results to problems – as a company we are very transparent, everything that we do is published online.” To use fair materials in its manufacturing processes, Fairphone has set up four traceable supply chains, to ensure its materials come from conflict-free or fair trade mines.
Let’s hark back to a simpler time; a time when we would set our morning alarm on a clock-radio; when we would buy a map for navigation; and when we would wait a whole week for our photographs to develop from an actual camera. Let’s call this time: 2007. In 2007, smartphones were yet to explode onto the world stage, irrevocably altering the way in which we communicate with one another and how we live our lives. This is the year that saw Steve Jobs announce the first iPhone, and saw worldwide sales of smartphones peak at 120 million. Sounds like a lot, but fast forward almost a decade to 2016, and the number of smartphones sold worldwide reached over 1.6 billion; with 6.1 billion smartphone subscriptions expected by 2020.
“A substantial number of materials are just hibernating somewhere and are taken out of the economy” It’s what happens to these devices once they’ve reached the end of their life that’s the pressing issue. They end up abandoned in cupboards; forgotten about in drawers; they’re sent to landfill, or incinerators. All the while, many consumers remain unaware of the valuable materials that comprise a smartphone; materials which could be reused and recycled, to create future technology.
Conflict minerals – which are the minerals mined in areas of ongoing armed conflict and human rights abuses – are traded illicitly by armed groups to finance fighting in countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Half of the world’s supply of cobalt – the chemical element used to manufacture smartphone screens – is mined in the DRC, often dangerously so; without regulation; and sometimes by children as young as seven, according to human rights group, Amnesty International. And it is these conflict minerals that make up a modern-day smartphone. There are more than 60 elements used in the smartphone production process; including copper for wiring, tungsten for vibration, aluminium for the case; gold, silver and palladium are used to make up a smartphone’s printed circuit board. The minerals sourced in these remote landscapes, by miners carrying out life-threatening work, could be reintroduced back into the supply chain at the end of a smartphone’s lifecycle by recycling our old handsets. Changing this culture is something that Fairphone is passionate in achieving.
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“There is a big problem surrounding the end of life for many devices,” says Ballester. “I’d love to talk about devices that can last forever, but unfortunately that’s impossible. We’re currently seeing a lot of electronic waste (e-waste) in the world. Take Europe for example; in Europe, we have very low collection rates for old electronics – especially smartphones; people leave them in drawers and forget about them. And because of this, a substantial number of materials are just hibernating somewhere and are taken out of the economy.” Fairphone champions a circular economy – a model which encourages the reuse and repair of its phones to make the most of the materials which are used in consumer electronics; bringing them back into the supply chain. To do this, Fairphone supports several recycling programmes in countries that would normally carry out unsafe and unregulated recycling practices, which contribute to the health and environmental problems in the area. “We’re working to tackle e-waste problems in developing countries which don’t have the infrastructure yet to deal with such an array of complex products,” says Ballester. In 2014, working closely with Dutch social enterprise Close the Loop, Fairphone collected over three tons of scrap phones in Ghana, and sent them to a facility in Belgium to be properly recycled. The project, which saw over 65,000 phones shipped out of the country, was carried out in collaboration with local Ghanaian businessmen, and enabled 279kg of copper and 268kg of silver to re-enter the market. Fairphone has since expanded its recycling reach with the help of local representatives in countries such as Rwanda, Cameroon and Uganda. It’s small steps, but it’s enough to set a precedent for the technology industry, which, as of 2014 recycled less than 16% of its e-waste worldwide. With ambitions to consider and improve the entire lifecycle of smartphones, Fairphone works with people at every level of production. “We are talking about tens of different companies,” says Ballester. “There are second and third tier suppliers; but if we focus on our first-tier suppliers, 22 | Conflict-Free Calls
our immediate suppliers for items such as batteries, phone covers and glass, we are focusing on the issues affecting every aspect of the supply chain. “We have carried out numerous reports and we have published everything online. It’s about unravelling the story behind all the issues. Such as ‘why are there agency workers who are working 60 plus hours a week?’” says Ballester. One of the projects that Fairphone has implemented was a ‘worker watch fund’, which was a fund of $200,000, half of which was donated by Fairphone and the other half match funded by an external source. This allowed the company to, “run democratic elections in the factories which selected workers to sit on the board of the factory, alongside a factory manager and a manager from Fairphone,” says Ballester. “It was a way to propose an alternative to the means of worker representation that are currently in place; systems that may not have always worked. It meant that workers were able to raise their voice and decide how the money would benefit their social surroundings.” There is still a long way to go, but Fairphone is providing a fresh alternative to some of the more constrictive smartphone models on the current market; whilst highlighting the problems that are deeply rooted in the foundations of the consumerelectronics supply chain. “We’re not here to become the biggest smartphone manufacturer – on the contrary,” says Ballester. “We are here to remain at a comfortable size, where we can show the world how things can be done differently; remaining an inspiring example for others along the way.”
Fairphone co-founder Tessa Wernink is the keynote speaker at this year’s Meaning conference. For more information, visit meaningconference.co.uk
â€œMany consumers remain unaware of the valuable materials that comprise a smartphone; materials which could be reused and recycled, to create future technologyâ€?
Miners at Gecamines, Kolwezi, DRC Conflict-Free Calls | 23
Feeding a Movement
24 | Feeding a Movement
We live in a throwaway society, strongly influenced by consumerism and overconsumption. Nowhere is this more obvious than the global trend of wasting food. Danish organisation, Stop Wasting Food, is bucking the trend, and setting a standard which it hopes the world will follow. Patrick Hurley spoke to founder Selina Juul… “We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.” It may not be the most memorable line from the film Fight Club, but perhaps it is the most pertinent, especially when it comes to food consumption. In 2015, people in the UK threw away food worth over £13 billion. Waste and recycling organisation, Wrap, calculated that over seven million tons of edible food was wasted throughout the year. On average, UK households are buying £470 of food every year and throwing it straight in the bin. The average US household wastes even more food than its equivalent in the UK, at $1,000 per year. Figures suggest that, once we include industrial waste, a full 25% of all food production ends up as waste. Figures for food waste such as this are rising year-on-year, and look set to continue. It might seem that this is an intractable problem and something that is merely a by-product of the way our lives are led, but this is a relatively recent phenomenon. In the five years to 2012, UK food waste actually reduced by over one million tons a year, and this trend was replicated in countries across the developed world. So, what has changed, and what can be done to reverse the trend?
Photography Daniela De Lorenzo
At the G8 summit of world leaders in 2008, the UK’s newly elected prime minister, Gordon Brown, led a debate on how to reduce food waste. He was pilloried in the press; mocked for being concerned with leftovers on plates rather than jobs and education. But it turned out his attention on the issue was part of a turning point. Food waste was at a record high in Europe, and people from across the continent – from prime ministers and presidents to students and social entrepreneurs – started to look at scaling up ways to reduce it.
Feeding a Movement | 25
Photography Anette Vadla Ravnaas
Into this ferment of action in 2008 stepped Selina Juul, at the time a shelf-stacker in a small supermarket in Copenhagen, who was becoming outraged at her bosses telling her that she had to throw away unsold bread every evening. But rather than merely do as she was told and complain silently about it, Juul did what the best social entrepreneurs do – she went and made a positive change herself. Her organisation Stop Spild Af Mad (Danish for Stop Wasting Food) is on the inside track of this agenda, and has been instrumental in setting the agenda on food waste across Denmark. “In 2008, I decided I’d had enough. So, I started a Facebook group called Stop Wasting Food,” Juul is nothing if not forthright. From the citizen action that gave rise to her campaign to the very naming of her company, you’re left in no doubt as to where she stands. “We were contacted by REMA 1000, the biggest discount chain in Denmark. It had read about my movement and it wanted to do something tangible. So, it cancelled all its bulk discount offers, like buy three things for the price of two.” REMA 1000 has almost 300 stores in a country of five million. To get its purchasing policies changed was a pretty big deal. The way Juul tells it, this all happened fortuitously, but the real story is that her powers of persuasion and the underlying economic sense of reducing waste, tipped the balance. It’s a situation that could be replicated in other supermarket chains if only the same enlightened self-interest could be seen 26 | Feeding a Movement
there. It has taken her time to achieve this, but Juul now has competitors to REMA 1000 also signed up to her charter: “REMA 1000 was the first; five years’ later came the Co-op, and we’ve also got LIDL. Today, we have the most supermarkets with the most food reduction strategies in Europe.” In the UK, Welsh company This is Rubbish was founded in 2011 with the aim to bring about similar levels of social change there. And yet, six years later, UK supermarkets still noticeably have not cancelled bulk discount offers and are still routinely throwing away edible food. Why should it be the case that what works in Denmark has not yet worked in the UK? Juul has a theory... “Our government is very much focused on the circular economy. In Denmark, the Ministry of Food and Environment has targets to decrease the amount of plastic and improve recycling.” Juul is evidently proud of her work, advising that, “in a joint project between Stop Wasting Food, the Danish Agriculture and Food Council, and several others, we have launched a REFOOD label. It promotes the sorting, collecting and recycling of food waste and tells consumers which companies are adopting a more responsible approach.” It appears that a more progressive approach from government has been key to ensuring that citizens’ interests in reducing waste are enforced by the supermarkets. But even without institutional support from government, Stop Wasting Food has proven that
“Don’t be a consumer zombie! Avoid the bulk discount offers unless you are sure you really are going to use it. Buy the imperfect fruit and vegetables. Be mindful of your plate size – just a 10% smaller plate can reduce waste by 26%” concerned citizens, social entrepreneurs and small companies can still all work together to make a positive difference to the culture of food waste. Juul’s organisation has been credited with bringing about a 25% reduction in food waste in Denmark over the five years from 2010 to 2015. She may have had backing from powerful interests, but no laws were changed and no state enforcement was used. It was done purely through appeals to the good sense of the arguments she was making. On a wider scale, Stop Wasting Food is also concerned with trying to change global infrastructure and trade patterns to assist in ensuring food is not wasted: “In sub-Saharan Africa, they have food waste that could feed 48 million people, and this is food that is rotting on the fields because they lack food packaging; they lack the infrastructure; all the things that could keep the food edible. Consumers need to realise that they have great power, they need to wake up and use that power. We don’t need food waste police, we just need to work on other solutions rather than pointing solutions. What works is media awareness, consumer focus, competition between supermarkets on reducing waste. It’s great.”
elsewhere? What about those for whom taking collective action is more effective? There must be thousands of social entrepreneurs such as Juul who could be stepping forward to fill the gap left by uninterested governments, or money-motivated supermarkets. What can be said to encourage them to take the necessary steps? Juul’s playbook to achieving success has been simple. Be forthright and direct; take every opportunity to promote your agenda; don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Most importantly, though, be committed and dedicated. And she has a message for those who would like to replicate her actions elsewhere: “You say you want to change the world? Of course you do – you’re a good person. But it can be inconvenient. It can be expensive. It can be slow. I have no life, basically. I have no life and I have no weekends.”
So, what does she say to those who have been inspired by her actions, and would like to make a difference themselves? “On an individual level, don’t be a consumer zombie! Avoid the bulk discount offers unless you are sure you really are going to use it. Buy the imperfect fruit and vegetables. Be mindful of your plate size – just a 10% smaller plate can reduce waste by 26%. And if you have more food than you need, share it.” It’s all well and good taking such small actions, and as the writer Adam Lent notes in his book Small is Powerful, the era of positive action being taken on a big, global basis is over. From here on in, he argues, small is powerful; small is good; small is the way to get things done. Given all that, and in the ongoing absences of officialdom taking action, it seems natural that individual actions to reduce our own food waste can have an effect. But what about those who would like to replicate Juul’s successes
Photography Anette Vadla Ravnaas
She has written a leftovers cookbook; worked with three different governments on reducing food waste; promoted school education programmes on the topic; set up a scheme for increasing the use of doggy bags in restaurants; and has instituted a quality mark for food outlets based on their recycling policies. Taken individually, all these actions might all seem like small beer, but as Juul says, “It’s a small drop in a big ocean, but it’s still a drop, which can add another drop and another.” In short, the last nine years have been busy for Juul and for the movement that Stop Wasting Food has become. But she is trying to change the world, and nobody ever said that was going to be easy. Feeding a Movement | 27
Close Quarters Housing people is proving one of greatest challenges of our time. But where problems lie, so does innovation. Fiona Shaw speaks to Leeds Community Homes’ Rob Greenland about new ideas and new ways of funding them… The UK saw 119,000 homes built last year. We needed 250,000. With a widespread consensus that the housing market is broken, people working in and around the sector are looking at new approaches to building, buying and renting. New ideas and new thinking bring innovation to the housebuilding sector, focusing on an inclusive approach that wins over local communities, and provides affordable and sustainable housing. But often, slowly. The question is how to scale approaches and create those 131,000 extra houses we need. Every. Year. Rob Greenland is one of the people behind the Empty Homes Doctor (EHD) in Leeds, which brings empty properties in the city back into use. Through his social enterprise Social Business Brokers, “we try and explore how to work with other people to tackle complex social problems,” he says. EHD supports people who “might have inherited a house,” says Greenland, “or moved away. They want the house back in use, but don’t know how to do it.” Since it started in 2013, EHD has brought 200 homes back onto the market. “How can we do something different at scale that will create more affordable and sustainable homes?” is the question he’s asking now, as part of Leeds Community Homes (LCH) – a broad coalition of the city’s housing expertise. While future projects may also involve renovations, its first project – and the majority of upcoming ones – will be new builds. In January 2017, LCH raised £362,000 via a community share offer, to build its first 16 homes. Community shares are withdrawable share capital; unique to co-operative and community benefit society legislation. They can only be issued by co-operatives, community benefit societies and charitable community benefit societies, giving people the opportunity to invest in projects that are – by and large – driven by community benefit. 28 | Close Quarters
Illustration Let's Dance
“Leeds needs 66,000 new homes over the next 10-12 years,” admits Greenland, “and our aim is to create 1,000 of those. The point of LCH is that we’ve brought together different expertise, especially around affordable and empty homes, to find out what can we do together that we wouldn’t be able to do on our own.
often react to something – against a new housing development, for instance. They’re more likely to feel powerless. A community share offer and community benefit society builds a community of people who think ‘I want more housing in my city, that’s more affordable and sustainable.’ It taps into a different type of finance.”
“We settled on a community share offer very early on. It brings what is called ‘patient capital’ – money that isn’t a donation, but investors won’t get their money back immediately. And, because it’s designed to create a community around an issue, engagement is important. Housing is traditionally a social issue where, if people do engage, they
LCH’s £362,000 came from 275 people and organisations, including £100,000 from Power to Change’s Community Shares Booster Fund. Of the £260,000 put in by individuals, around two thirds were from the Leeds area, with the other third around the UK. “There was a real mix. The minimum investment was £100, and while lots
Close Quarters | 29
of people invested £100 or £200, the average investment was around £750,” says Greenland. “We were surprised – we thought we might reach more people and they’d put less money in, but a good number of people put in £1,000 upwards. £20,000 was the biggest investment.” That community, as ever, is a powerful one. “We know some of our investors, but there are plenty of people we don’t know, so it’ll be good to get to know them over time and get to know what their motivations are,” Greenland says. The share offer tapped into ethical and positive investors; the majority of LCH’s investors are aged 50+. “They’re hoping for a bit of a return and would like to get money back eventually, but they’ve bought into the social purpose.” The slogan ‘people-powered homes’ drove LCH’s campaign. But it wasn’t all plain sailing, admits Greenland: “Some issues are easier to
30 | Close Quarters
communicate and sell to people; many community share offers – like saving a pier, or a local pub – are focused on a specific thing and are very tangible. It was a bit more difficult for us. The concept of people-powered homes really tapped into something. People realised that if they want things to be better, they would have to get involved. I can remember thinking in November, ‘oh god, are we getting the message out and reaching people?’ But we did a good job of it. “We ran a really good social media campaign, but a lot of our investors didn’t find us that way – they came through our networks and through talking at events and political party meetings. But that takes a lot of time and resources that we didn’t have. But it’s an effective way of reaching influencers who you couldn’t reach in other ways.”
“If we can’t attract young people who’ll set up businesses; or build houses for older people to downsize to, there’s a wider impact”
Awareness and perceptions of the housing crisis have changed over the last few years. Greenland says: “Even if it’s working for you, and you live in a home where you can afford your rent or mortgage – there are lots of wider issues that affect you. If we can’t attract young people who’ll set up businesses; or build houses for older people to downsize to, there’s a wider impact. Increasingly people recognise that their own children can’t buy a house, and look more widely in society. They’ll ask ‘how is it for people who aren’t in the position we are? It’s even tougher for them…’ Housing stories used to be dominated by people making money – now the story has changed.” Leeds Community Homes is just one example. In the UK, the Community Land Trust (CLT) movement is spearheading an alternative approach to local housing, and – two days before Christmas 2016 – the government unveiled an annual £60 million Community Housing Fund. But cities nationally and internationally have unique conditions that are contributing to a global crisis. In March, the UN’s housing lead Leilani Farha concluded that the world’s money markets have priced people out of cities. Speculators treat housing as a “place to park capital,” she said. “Housing has lost its social function and is seen instead as a vehicle for wealth and asset growth. It has become a financial commodity, robbed of its connection to community, dignity and the idea of home.” The global housing market, worth $163 trillion – more than twice the world’s total economy – has “essentially operated without any consideration of housing as a human right and states are complicit: they have supported financial markets in a way that has made housing unaffordable for most residents,” Farha reported. In Canada, Montreal’s elegant Milton Park is owned collectively by its residents. In the 1970s, the city’s government fast-tracked private development, demolishing many traditional areas. When a private developer began buying-up private rented properties in Milton Park, residents opposed it through direct protest, lobbying, door-to-door canvassing and mass attendance at public meetings. As construction costs and delays dented the development model, the residents seized their chance and – supported by the city – took ownership of the housing by creating co-operatives for each block. Each co-op co-owns Milton Park, under the Communauté Milton Parc
(CMP) umbrella. Tenants in these ornate Victorian townhouses pay around a third of local market rents, and, if sold, the community’s socio-economic characteristics must be protected. Back in Leeds, LCH’s first scheme will see 16 ecohomes built – nine for social rent and seven for intermediate sale, at around two thirds of the local market value. Its CLT-structure will ensure they’re affordable when they’re sold on. The development – on a former-industrial, brownfield site near the city centre – will house people on the council’s housing waiting list, while Greenland says they’re still in the process of working out the conditions of the ‘for sale’ houses. Work starts in early summer, with the first round ready in spring 2018. “All of our homes should be lived in by early summer 2019,” says Greenland. The CSO’s success has brought renewed opportunity. “We’re looking at our pipeline of projects now,” he says. “Because we raised the full amount, we could borrow against these homes in the future, and we’re looking at other sources of finance. The council has a pot of money from the proceeds of Right to Buy that we could apply for, and we’re talking to social investors. If you’re going to compete against big developers and pension funds, you need to be creative about bringing in finance. Our CSO was central to that, but we’ll need other funding to go alongside it.” LCH’s target is the creation of 1,000 homes over the next ten years. Some will be its own projects, while it'll also support co-housing groups and other projects in the city, or help them buy land. “Of all the social issues we could have picked, housing is complex and difficult,” admits Greenland. “We’re optimistic, but conscious that we’re getting into a difficult area – the policy environment, land market and economic situation over the next few years will create lots of bumps in the road. But we’re very clear on our purpose, which is to create more affordable, more sustainable housing. When you do something like the CSO you have no idea how people will respond. We were overwhelmed – to raise that amount of money was amazing. It’s good to be reminded that people want to do something positive and will put their money behind it. They – and we – know we need to do things differently.” Close Quarters | 31
Ethos Meets Mark Stevenson Mark Stevenson is an author, broadcaster, entrepreneur, and curator of this yearâ€™s Meaning conference. Lucy Chesters caught up with him, to talk about the future of work, sustainability and good energyâ€Ś
Photography Yves de Contades Photography
32 | Ethos Meets: Mark Stevenson
Tell me about yourself and the work that you do? Basically, I help people to be literate about the questions that the future asks us. People call me a futurologist – which I don’t like, because that’s about prediction and what I’m about is being future-ready.
do it. And if you can’t be bothered, throw away the mirrors in the house, because ultimately you won’t like what you see in them. How will advances in technology affect the human core of business?
For instance, if you’re an insurer and on the one hand you’re being asked to insure a coal-fired power plant, but on the other you’re being asked to underwrite the risk of climate change, there’s clearly not much joined up thinking. So, a lot of my work is getting people to think in systems. Another bit part is going and finding people who are coming up with solutions to the systemic problems that we face and shining a light on them. I do that in various ways; a bit of broadcasting, the occasional book, a brace of advisory roles via Atlas of the Future, or the League of Pragmatic Optimists, and full on consultancy.
As Bill Gates said: “automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”
“If you’re not running your business sustainably (or aiming to do so as soon as possible) why not? Seriously, it should be cost of entry for doing business”
How do you see the future of the smaller energy companies, which challenge the ‘big six’, growing?
How can we make the future of work more sustainable? It depends where you’re starting from, clearly there’s a whole bunch of legacy issues both physical and cultural that you can’t just switch off and be environmentally positive tomorrow. But the question we all need to ask is: if you’re not running your business sustainably (or aiming to do so as soon as possible) why not? Seriously, it should be cost of entry for doing business. There’s always the excuse that it’s too expensive – but that’s just not true. In fact, a company that runs itself along sustainable lines outperforms in the market in the long run – there’s lots of research to back that up. There’s two reasons for this; firstly, the company is starting to think about its own waste and costs and it starts to take that side of things seriously; if it can reduce its electricity bill or its waste – it’s making itself more efficient, which gives it a competitive advantage. It’s starting to think in systems. Secondly, companies that think sustainably tend to attract the best talent, because the best talent wants to work somewhere it can feel proud. So, do your environmental profit and loss accounts; set yourself an ambitious target, and then go and
Quite often we apply technology, thinking it’ll solve a problem, but all it does is replace the existing bad system with one that has got computers attached to it – and now it’s worse! Banks are a good example of this. Technology is not an answer, technology is just a question; I don’t think it helps or hinders – it’s the way that you think about the business that’ll make the difference – that’s the human core, and that won’t change.
We used to run the world on economies of scale – we still do to a certain extent. The idea being, that we’d make all our energy in a big factory and call it a power station; educate all the kids in a big factory called a school; and get all the old people in a big illness factory called a hospital – that used to be the most efficient way of doing things with the technology available at the time. Over the next 20 years we will be moving to a world run largely on economies of distribution, where the distributed systems can outperform – thanks to technology – what the old hierarchical centralised systems could do. And a good example of this is energy. If you look at what’s happening with wind and solar power, it’s become so cheap in some countries to create your own energy – and because you’re not looking for a profit margin – you can reboot the local economy. There’s a town in Texas called Georgetown, which has seen 60,000 inhabitants all switching to renewables – and that’s in the middle of oil country. They’re doing it because they’ve worked out that it’s going to be cheaper to use solar and wind than to use oil; and they also realised that they know what their electricity prices are going to be now and 20 years in the future. That’s important. Predictability of energy prices allow people to invest long term with confidence. The great thing about Ethos Meets: Mark Stevenson | 33
“We’re educating people into a world that’s already passed, and that has the potential to be dangerous; we’ll have lots of unemployment and we won’t have people trained to do the highly skilled or high-value jobs” democratising energy is that, because it improves the local economy, it allows communities to start investing in the things their government may have forgotten to: health, education, opportunity, jobs. Over the next 20 years or so, energy systems will ‘Airbnb’ themselves, and the countries that embrace this the quickest will have a huge competitive advantage. That’s what Germany’s doing now; it’s working its way towards not having an energy bill in 20 years’ time, whereas Britain’s energy policy is a complete shambles. In the UK, our politicians have no vision of the future, because they’re trapped in a system of party politics that precludes cooperation and inclusion. It’s one of my long-term projects to do something about that. Wish me luck. What do you think that the future of work will look like? There will be a lot of jobs going to automation – and the future of work will be tied up with the future of everything else, particularly education. It could go one of two ways – what I’m worried about is the transition. Everyone talks about how technology steals people’s jobs; when actually, it just changes them. Take the Industrial Revolution, for example – there were lots of farm labourers before, and not many after – but you had a lot more accountants. The problem is that not many farm labourers wanted to become accountants, or if they did, there wasn’t any way for them to do so. Today, we’ve got driverless technology which is going to make millions of truck drivers, roadside cafés and all sorts of businesses redundant; but there’s no education system that talks about a world where truck drivers don’t exist. We’re educating people into a world that’s already passed, and that has the potential to be dangerous; we’ll have lots of unemployment and we won’t have 34 | Ethos Meets: Mark Stevenson
people trained to do the highly skilled or highvalue jobs. Hopefully, if we get it right, our future jobs will be much more philosophical and sustainable, focused on governance and the things that human beings should be thinking about – building community. But if we don’t have an education system that takes all of this into account then what we’ll have is mass unemployment and probably a great deal of civil unrest. Are there any businesses, companies or people that you find particularly interesting at the moment? I think Unilever is very interesting because it’s a large company that has really made a commitment to do things more sustainably and justly. It’s on that journey and still has some way to go, but it’s succeeding – it’s very impressive for a company of that size. It says to the rest of the world – if Unilever can do it, then you’ve got no excuse. You can’t say you’re too big or you’re too cumbersome – Unilever has got two billion customers…
Mark Stevenson is curating this year’s Meaning conference. Taking place in Brighton on 16 November, Meaning is a global gathering of dynamic thinkers and doers who are changing how business is done, for the better.
Impact Hub Stockholm
Every issue we talk to a co-working space, incubator, network or membership organisation about what they do, and who they do it with. If you’re doing something interesting, tell us: email@example.com
Words: Cathy Xiao Chen
Impact Hub is a global community of creators, thinkers and doers, all of whom collaborate from Impact Hub co-working spaces around the world. Focused on making a positive impact in the world, we spoke to Cathy Xiao Chen from the Stockholm hub, about the businesses in the building, and the mission of Impact Hub Stockholm…
Impact Hub Stockholm is one of 86+ Impact Hubs located in five regions across the globe. A founding Impact Hub, Stockholm has operated its coworking space for more than a decade. Over the years, we’ve fostered a close-knit community – a home-away-from-home for our members and the social entrepreneurs of Stockholm. Our events include: Night of Impact, Global MashUps, Sexy Salad, Innovation Labs, Stockholm Food Movement, Weekly Wine Downs and more, in collaboration with our members and local changemaker organisations. Through these events, we act as the catalyst to inspire local grassroots change and for entrepreneurs to expand their network and broaden their impact. The organisations and businesses represented at Impact Hub Stockholm are incredibly diverse. We have a member company driving forward more sustainable food consumption through plant-based products; a Syrian engineer creating
a therapeutic book for displaced refugee children; sharing platforms SnappCar and Peerby have been vital in developing the sharing economy in Amsterdam. We’re home to companies which provide business consultation services to assist others in establishing co-operative business models and improved interpersonal communication as well as futureproofing organisations. We have a sustainable travel operator in Tanzania which aims to improve quality of life in the region through responsible tourism; a company which focuses on VR for real estate; another that makes toys to teach children the basics of coding; and many other creatives. We are very proud to be champions of diversity. Our team currently consists of 60% women, and we have made a greater effort this year to be more active in providing space and opportunities for female changemakers. We recently sponsored an event by SheNetworks, with the goal of creating an opportunity for young women to expand both their networks and horizons. At the core of our actions, is our mission to instil in all those who pass through our doors, the idea that working together allows us to achieve more than we could alone. Collaboration is so important, especially today, when we are seeing the effects of decision-makers who have not taken transdisciplinary perspectives into consideration. By showcasing our values of trust, courage, and collaboration every single day, we hope to inspire positive change and a new generation of thoughtleaders, changemakers, and social entrepreneurs who will drive forward the change that our world needs to see.
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Meet the Tenants Words: Emma Jones Photography: Oskar
Kidnovation An engineer by trade, Imad Elabdala owned an engineering company in Homs, Syria. As a Syrian war reporter and activist for over two years, Elabdala and his family were in danger and it was imperative that they escaped Syria. Elabdala moved to Sweden, where he learnt the language and secured an engineering job; yet, although he had rebuilt his life in Sweden, he couldn’t escape the memories of children exposed to the cruelty of a war which was destroying both their childhood and their dreams. He decided to use his creativity and resourcefulness to help these children, and, as a result, Kidnovation – a media innovation lab for displaced children – was built. It was Elabdala’s personal conviction that, by believing in oneself and one’s own dream we, can make any place home; thus, providing him with the storyline for his first book, Sarah’s Journey – the first project to come out of Kidnovation. Sarah’s Journey provides children with positive mental images of rolemodels who share the experiences and hardships that they face themselves. Kidnovation uses the books as a low-cost but effective therapy tool which can reach children everywhere. www.kidnovation.se
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Human Rights and Science Human Rights and Science is an independent, non-profit social enterprise with an objective to provide products and services to ensure: equal human rights, social security and social comfort for children, women and men around the world. Human Rights and Science was founded by Cecilia Öman, who has 15 years’ experience working in low income countries. She is a big believer in the world being a good and comfortable place for everybody, with her passion being poverty reduction and natural environmental protection, through scientific research and development programs. Human Rights and Science works in partnership with Action 10, a volunteer organisation with the same mandate and founder. So far, 20 programmes are up and running in five African countries and are run by experienced staff and volunteers in Sweden and other target countries. Human Rights and Science builds on two cornerstones; human rights, which are globally agreed principles, and common goals for humanity; and science, as a way to ensure truth, trust and quality in procedures, services and products. Human Rights and Science is a social enterprise with no religious or political ties. www.humanrightsandscience.se
Food for Progress Fredrika Fredmark is the head of public relations at Food for Progress, a Swedish company with an ambition to get everybody eating sustainable, tasty food. Prior to her role at Food for Progress, Fredmark worked as the communications officer for the Environmental Party, immersed in her passion and drive for environmental and sustainable issues.
SnappCar Magnus Engervall is a social entrepreneur who has worked on many social innovations during his career. After graduating from Stockholm School of Economics with a degree in psychology, he founded Flexidrive in 2011, which merged with Snappcar in October 2015 to form the third largest peer-to-peer car sharing company. Flexidrive was originally created with the aim of increasing the usage rate of cars, which otherwise stand idle for 97% of their life cycle. It was the first project in Sweden that offered a platform where neighbours could rent cars from each other safely and simply, whilst engaging socially within the community. So far, Flexidrive has reached 10,000 users and 2,000 cars, and it was following this that Engervall made the decision to merge with Snappcar. The company wants to revolutionise the way we use the car; from ownership and access, to what we do with waste and efficiency. With 15 million cars in the whole of Europe, and the average car being left unused for 23 hours a day, Snappcar has a goal of seeing five million less cars in Europe by 2022.
With a global perspective and a local presence, Food for Progress drives development towards sustainable food, with an aim to become a global rolemodel, creating impact through food. The company abides by the mantra that everybody on earth should be eating in a way that allows us all to thrive within the planetary boundaries. Creating food that is tasteful, nutritious and climate-savvy, Food for Progess appeals to everybody, with a production process that is respectful towards animals, humans and the environment. Oumph! and Beat! are the companyâ€™s sustainable food products â€“ made from beans, they are healthy and nutritious; easy to cook and environmental friendly, with a very low climate impact. Oumph! is the product for igniting positive change and Beat! is a contributor to both biodiversity and new opportunities for Swedish farmers. www.oumph.se
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Kent, UK / Beirut, Lebanon
Recycle, Reuse, Reimagine Photography Jack Terry and George Zouein
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As recycling and waste management budgets become stretched the world over, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for cities to keep up with growing demands. Andrew Beattie speaks to Kresse Wesling from Elvis and Kresse, and Kassem Kazac from Recycle Beirut, two companies which have found innovative ways to deal with waste… In 2050, 75% of the world’s population is expected to live in cities. Today, many of these same cities are struggling to deal with the waste created by around 55% of them, and that’s before factoring in global population growth between now and then. According to a 2012 report by the World Bank’s urban development department, by 2025 the amount of municipal solid waste will rise from 1.3 billion tons per year – which was the figure in 2012 – to 2.2 billion tons per year. Much of the increase is expected to be generated by rapidly growing cities in developing countries. Aside from the obvious environmental and health impacts of poor waste management, this increased amount of waste also has a huge effect on city budgets. In some developing countries, solid waste management can consume 20-50% of a city’s budget. And that’s in cities that can afford to pay for it at all and have the capability to recycle and reuse what they do collect. In a growing number of cases, with city budgets stretched to capacity, the baton is being passed to social entrepreneurs to find solutions to waste management; creating a raft of micro-businesses and social enterprises to tackle the issue. One such business is UK-based luxury fashion and home accessories brand Elvis and Kresse, which launched in 2005 with a very particular waste material in mind… Before the business was born, Kresse Wesling MBE, and her partner James Henrit, co-founders of Elvis and Kresse, were already on a long-term mission to launch an environmentally conscious business which tackled the waste problem.
UK-born Henrit, and Canadian native Wesling had been living in Hong Kong for several years before uprooting to the UK to launch their business venture. “After we moved to the UK I started hunting around for a new problem to solve,” says Wesling. “I think that has always been my rationale for business; I don’t really understand businesses that just say: ‘well I want to make money, so I’m just going to make a ton of it.’ I’m more interested in saying: ‘well, we have an enormous amount of societal and environmental problems – let’s have a go at fixing one of them, and try to understand that particular problem better than anyone else.” It was this logic which led Wesling and Henrit to the London Fire Service, and the fire hose, which became the staple material for Elvis and Kresse’s products. It was love at first sight. “It was just shock to discover that this beautiful and wonderful life-saving material, which was narrative-rich, couldn’t be recycled by traditional means. It had too much left to give.” Wesling brought the fire hose back home to Henrit, and the pair set out to research the material that it was made from. On finding out that it’s a doublewalled rubber with a nylon tube core, they headed to the place where it was originally manufactured to find out its properties; how much that they could get hold of; where it was; what state it was in; and what process could they apply to it, to transform it into something new. The first thing that Wesling and Henrit crafted from the unwanted fire hose was a was a trouser belt. And from that day, Elvis and Kresse has expanded its range to include: bags, wallets, travel ware and homeware; all from a material that would otherwise have been classified as waste. Today the company employs 11 people across two sites in Kent and Istanbul, and is currently in the process of recruiting four more to respond to the increasing demand for its repurposed products. The company makes and sells close to 7,000 products per year through its website and has stockists in ten countries worldwide. But most importantly, these products are made from the ten tons plus of material per year that Elvis and Kresse saves from landfill. To date the company has saved over 200 tons of material, and brought it back onto the production line. Recycle, Reuse, Reimagine | 39
“We weren’t interested in making cheap crap. I’m not going to make something from a beautiful and wonderful material; put my heart and soul into it; and then sell it for less that we can sustainably make it for” But as the quantity of products made and sold by Elvis and Kresse has grown, the company has never been interested in making cheaper products to increase revenues. “We weren’t interested in making cheap crap. I’m not going to make something from a beautiful and wonderful material; put my heart and soul into it; and then sell it for less that we can sustainably make it for. We get a lot of comments about our prices, and I’m always happy to answer those comments – and we say: ‘ok, we have a team of highly-skilled craftsmen and women; we pay them a very good wage because that’s the kind of wage that highly skilled craftsmen and women command; and also, there’s not a single person in our organisation that earns less than the living wage, plus more.’ “We think it would be deeply unethical to make something at the expense of, or with the potential to exploit something further down the supply chain.” To date, Elvis and Kresse has donated 50% of the profits made from its fire hose range to the London Fire Service, where it sourced its first fire hose. “When I met the firemen on the day that I first encountered the fire hose, I said to the guys jokingly: ‘If I ever manage to make this into anything – I’ll give you half.’ It was definitely said in jest, but, as time passed, it became less of a joke and just made more and more sense. “We rely on our stakeholders to supply us with this beautiful material and they are very much a part of the story, and should remain a part of the story.” In 2008, the company began reclaiming other materials aside from the fire hose, and today it makes products from ten raw materials that were otherwise destined for landfill, such as parachute silk and leather. Many of the raw materials are the result of research into items that can be intercepted on its way to landfill and repurposed; 40 | Recycle, Reuse, Reimagine
and others come through consulting projects which Wesling and Henrit conduct with companies wanting a solution for the redundant materials within its supply chain. “We’ve found this really interesting,” says Wesling. “There’s currently a massive trend towards purpose-driven organisations. Elvis and Kresse is a certified B Corporation and we’re encountering many businesses which haven’t started that way, and they have a legacy of being ‘purpose free.’ Its purpose might have historically been to employ people and make money, and now it’s looking for something deeper and it’s not always easy to know how to do that. So, we carry out consulting work around impact development and about transitioning to a circular economy.” And is this change driven by consumers or the companies themselves? Both, thinks Wesling, and for one big reason. “I think what you have to remember is that the people who work for these companies are also consumers, so it definitely comes from people but it also comes from science. We are increasingly aware of the limits of natural capital and we’ve spent all of the future generation’s assets. They are gone. We need to get to grips with that. Influencers like Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio
have presented us with the hard science on many occasions. Which leads to growing movements of people who eat less meat; people who are vegetarian or vegan; and people who take the decision to fly less, drive less and cycle less; people who buy less but buy better – these things are associated with a single overarching trend that is kind of a super trend. And it has to be a super trend because it’s not just about being popular in six years – this is going to be our life forever. We’ve got one shot to make this work, or its game over.” There are many countries in which the effect of this environmental impact is being felt more keenly than in cities across the west, and where a greater degree of urgency is felt by those tasked with dealing with waste. Just shy of 3,000 miles from Elvis and Kresse’s Kent factory you’ll find the Lebanese capital, Beirut. Recycle Beirut was formed in 2014 by Kassem Kazak, to help provide an environmentally friendly alternative to the city’s existing waste disposal system, whilst creating jobs for the recent influx of Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Very quickly, Recycle Beirut felt the weight of a failing countrywide waste management system in its work.
2015 saw a Lebanese ‘garbage crisis’, after the waste management in the country suddenly stopped, making the environmental and social problems of the country’s waste suddenly very real for the people. “Suddenly, the whole place became full of garbage. There were mountains of it everywhere, and the situation became very bad,” says Kazak. Until 2015, waste disposal had mainly been managed by the private company, Sukleen, which collected unseparated and untreated waste, and after minor processing, dumped it in a landfill site just outside of Naameh, a city south of Beirut. Following an outbreak of protests from residents, the site was closed; it had already been open for 20 years longer than it was supposed to have been. With no provision, rubbish began filling the streets of Lebanon, which in turn resulted in large-scale demonstrations in late 2015. To date, no suitable replacement facility has been suggested. Today, Recycle Beirut’s team is made up of 17 Syrian refugees and the business is set up as a social and environmental enterprise. It recycles approximately two tons of rubbish per day, from across the greater Beirut area.
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“We have our own warehouse, trucks and machinery and we do all the recycling process on our own. We don’t have any co-ordination or collaboration with the government or municipalities,” says Kazak. “We provide a pickup service for our clients; collecting non-organic material from homes, businesses and other organisations such as foreign embassies, schools and universities. They pay $10 per month for the service.” And Recycle Beirut’s client-base is growing. “After the garbage crisis, people became more aware of recycling, because it’s the only way to solve the waste problem in Lebanon. They understand that it’s their responsibility to do it and many Lebanese people are starting to pick up the recycling habit.” Funding the growth of the business, despite the growing crisis in Lebanon and the size of the potential workforce to meet it, has also proved challenging. “We are looking to expand to cover all of Lebanon, but our main problem at the moment is that we don’t have enough funding to do that. We are providing a social and environmental service but the government aren’t paying any attention to what we are doing. We have also tried to attract funding from international organisations, but we haven’t had a serious reply yet.” But the company has found one potential source of income that should help. “We are currently working with two workshops; one is a carpentry workshop which we hired to make furniture and tables from recycled wood; and the second is a tile factory where we are crushing the glass and adding it to concrete to make tiles. “We don’t currently have a marketing department to help us sell these products yet but we are manufacturing them, and it helps us to at least get rid of the glass and wood we have. But we are looking for a marketing professional that eventually can help us sell them.” Over to you Elvis and Kresse... 42 | Recycle, Reuse, Reimagine
With kind support from...
Oslo, Norway www.osloedtech.no
Oslo Edtech Cluster is a business network established to support the development, commercialisation and export of Norwegian educational technologies. Norwegian edtech is growing fast and is enjoying a good reputation internationally. In just a few years the industry counts for more than 60 Norwegian companies with edtech at its core, with well over 150 million users worldwide. The Norwegian edtech industry has a long history, with learning management system (LMS) platforms like its learning and Fronter having lead the way. In recent years companies such as Kahoot!, Dragonbox, Swipe, Kikora, Conexus, Inspera, Skooler, Clarify and Creaza have secured a huge number of users globally, with new solutions following suit. Much of Norwegian edtech is built on game-based solutions and big data that secure cognitive and adaptive learning. This represents a revolution in learning and helps to prepare our kids for the future, through obtaining 21st century skills. In our fast-changing world we all need to keep learning all our lives. Educational technology helps make the life-long learning process accessible, when we need to constantly top-up our knowledge to keep up. Educational technology offers the opportunity for better and more accessible learning; independent of time, place, platform, space and age. Learning can be organised smarter and be more motivating; adapted to each individual learner, and give everyone the chance to succeed in achieving the necessary and relevant knowledge at all levels. Through joining forces and pulling together in Oslo Edtech Cluster, Norwegian edtech has the opportunity to take a position as the best and most competitive in the world.
Toronto / UK
Certified Success B Lab is the non-profit organisation that unites a global community of likeminded businesses, all of whom are looking to address social and environmental challenges through business. Jack Atkins spoke to B Lab UK’s communications and storytelling manager Scott Drummond, and certified B Corporation, Toronto NOW’s editor Alice Klein, to find out more…
Other B-Corps in this issue of Ethos include; Fairphone (p.18), Elvis & Kresse (p.38), Social Stock Exchange (p.58).
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“Global business should consider the impact it has on the world, not just from an ecological standpoint, but also from a social standpoint; alongside being publicly transparent and legally accountable and responsible” For too long big business seemed like a case of ‘us versus them’. The idea that business was disconnected from the society it catered for, and treated customers and staff as simple statistics, was prominent and taken as a given. Think back to the early 1990s, when we saw massive multinational companies subjecting workers to appalling conditions in order to meet the demands of customers. It was a perverse evolution of capitalism; when the world eventually realised how its favourite products were being manufactured, it reacted with revulsion and horror. Something needed to change, and drastically. That’s where B Corporation comes in. B Corporation (or B Corp) is a global community of for-profit companies with a common goal; to measure what matters, and to use business as a force for social and environmental good in the world. Conceptually an evolution of triple bottom line business, B Corps are attempting to grow into something radical. “We want to build a movement,” says Scott Drummond, communications and storytelling manager at B Lab UK – the starting point for all things B Corp in the UK. B Lab is certainly building on that idea. A nonprofit organisation, B Lab has developed a comprehensive online self-assessment tool, which helps businesses identify and measure the social and environmental impact their business is having. “What we really want to do is shift the way people think about what business can achieve,” says Drummond. “If we think that the role of business is simply to maximise shareholder return, we feel that’s a very narrow definition of what business is capable of. We want to encourage more for-profit companies to think about what they can achieve with their business; that’s really our mission.”
and hollow gestures. “We provide each business with a free tool to measure its performance against specific criteria – the B Impact Assessment. Then through the community and through this movement, we want these certified B Corps to champion the shift in what business is capable of,” says Drummond. Toronto NOW is one of those businesses stepping up, and it was recently certified as a B Corp. A Toronto institution, NOW is a free paper found in seemingly every shop, café, venue and bar – it is ever present and highly influential. Alice Klein, NOW’s editor, publisher and CEO, summed up the paper in a nutshell: “we are unusual.” NOW is one of the growing number of B Corps operating globally, the ethical side of the media company is in tune with the city itself; a hodgepodge of classic Canadian values and multicultural sensibility. Toronto itself is one of the most diverse cities in the world; 2011 statistics show that 48.6% of Toronto’s population was foreign born, but with such a diverse potential readership, you’d assume it would be hard to accurately represent the city. “It certainly does reflect Toronto,” says Klein, “NOW has been around for 35 years and in some ways, is very much responsible for the kind of city Toronto is – it really gave voice to a certain part of the city. NOW highlights and promotes and gives profile to that aspect of the city – the best part, it’s creativity and joie de vivre.”
B Lab believes that global business should consider the impact it has on the world, not just from an ecological standpoint, but also from a social standpoint; alongside being publicly transparent and legally accountable and responsible. Companies that apply for B Corp certification must pass a strict series of tests to prove that they are indeed practicing good business – not just pushing tokenistic schemes Certified Success | 45
“We’re interested, as a media project, in our content creation – but as a business we’re interested in how we relate to our community and the world” NOW’s decision to register as a B Corp seems unusual on the face of it, considering it is a free publication. The decision seems to be born more of a necessity of identity rather than for commercial gain. “We’re very excited about social innovation and ethical business, which is a key part of our values and vision in general.” Klein continues, “we’re interested, as a media project, in our content creation, but as a business we’re interested in how we relate to our community and the world.” Drummond concurs: “The ultimate goal is to get more companies using business as a force for good, and thinking about how running a business can have a massive impact on people’s lives. Not just the shareholders, but the staff; governance groups; local community; all the different stakeholders that actually form part of what a business does; and of course, some of those ‘silent’ stakeholders – like the environment.” No matter the sector, the public wants to be able to trust businesses. The cliché of the faceless corporate behemoth is one that still permeates despite how much we have evolved as a society. “It’s fair to say there’s a long way to go,” says Drummond. “Business, for the last few decades, has not done itself any favours. In broad generalisations, the image of business has taken, to some extent, a bit of a battering.” Conceptually, B Corporations are still relatively new; B Lab itself only established in 2006, with B Lab UK following suit in 2015. “Many of the companies who are B Corps now, were doing this kind of work many years before the B Corp movement existed,” says Drummond. “Many B Corps tell us that in the B Corp movement they have found their tribe. There is a real belief that together these companies can do great things.” With the B Corporation concept still being relatively new, the visibility of the certification is somewhat niche, and as yet may not always offer massive economic dividends. This isn’t a major issue for NOW “Obviously, most people who decide to engage with getting B Corp certification have 46 | Certified Success
“We work closely with our community to try and help them understand the value, to try and help them connect with other B Corps, we run events throughout the year to bring our community together, both nationally and regionally as a way for them to network with each other” already been running their businesses in ways that would be certifiably in service to a triple bottom line. So, we have always been working towards that in all the ways that we can,” says Klein. She continues, “it’s nice that there is a certification available that enables us to present that fact to our market. Perhaps in the future it may have a bit more marketability, but for now it’s really a little bit of a contribution.” Drummond is keen to point out how the community aspect of B Corporations is what is really incubating this movement; “we work closely with our community to try and help them understand the value, to try and help them connect with other B Corps, we run events throughout the year to bring our community together, both nationally and regionally as a way for them to network with each other.
“What we find out when they do come together is they have a better of idea of who else is in the community like, ‘hold on this company over here does exactly that thing we want to do in the next six months and they’re really good at it, why don’t we just talk to them about how they’ve done it?’” Klein agrees that attitudes are changing: “there’s a lot of greenwashing in the world; there’s a lot of whitewashing; just a lot of washing going on in general! There are many terrible things going on in the world, but there is also an awakening of sorts, and we are very anxious to promote that. “In the way we do business, it means trying our best to do sustainable sourcing, we’re unionised, we have good working conditions – we’re just generally trying to be good community members in all ways. We’re very 360° in our approach to our integrity as a progressive and fascinating media brand.” Like the way that ‘fair trade’ is a household expression, it is hoped that in the coming years the term ‘B Corp’ will have similar prominence and will evoke a comparable reaction from consumers and potential consumers alike. This is not just a flashin-the-pan idea, this is a growing entity that is only going to expand and expand until it simply cannot be ignored. B Lab itself hopes to achieve this and build on such early promise and success, but is
aware that the efforts of the many, may outweigh those of the few. “How do we as a community, as a movement that’s trying to promote the role of business in a wider ‘stakeholder capitalism’ kind of society, how do we do more together than we could alone?” says Drummond. “That’s another reason why companies are keen to pursue B Corp certification; they want to grow, they want to scale, they want to seek external investment, and they want to be successful. What they also want to ensure is that as they grow and as investors come to them with propositions around taking on equity etc., that they can keep their ethics right at the centre of what they do, and not have them watered down or chopped off.” Klein realises that society is ready to accept this new image for business and that B Lab’s rallying cry will be a message that only grows in volume: “we are ahead of the curve; people look to us to see what the mainstream has not served up yet.” The mainstream is slowly getting there though; Patagonia, Ben and Jerry’s and Etsy are the biggest names at the forefront of the B Corp uprising, never mind the massive global community of publishers, marketers, fashion brands and financiers who are already certified. Now it’s a question of ‘when’, not ‘if’, their peers will follow suit. Certified Success | 47
Onwards and Upwards With almost 80% of the earthâ€™s population expected to live in urban areas by 2050, and the global population expanding in the interim, agriculture is being reinvented to keep up with demand. Experts say that vertical farming yields more crops per square metre than both greenhouses and traditional farming; uses less water; grows plants faster, and can be used all year round. Jim Johnston travelled to Singapore to find out moreâ€Ś Due to high land prices and a lack of available farming space in Singapore, the city-state imports almost all its food from neighbouring Malaysia and Indonesia. In a move to make Singapore more self-sufficient, rooftop farms are being developed on top of government buildings, shopping malls and residential skyscrapers. Operated as a social enterprise, ComCropâ€™s 6000 sq. ft. vertical rooftop farm in downtown Orchard Street was the first commercial rooftop farm in Singapore. Crops are planted in rows, on pipes stacked on top of one another and water is drawn from tanks filled with living tilapia fish; mimicking a freshwater lake eco-system where by-products from the fish are broken down and absorbed as nutrients by the plants. This vertical system pioneered by engineers at ComCrop allows for the growth of eight to ten times the number of crops compared to conventional flat land, soil-based farming. 48 | Onwards and Upwards
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Jim Johnston is an award-winning editorial and commercial photographer exploring issues of sustainability, food security and technology. With a background in geography and environmental science, Johnstonâ€™s projects are steered by an innate sense of curiosity about the world and the people living in it.Â You can find more of his work here: www.jimjohnston.co.uk @jjohnstonphoto
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With kind support from...
Drop long term business plans – go for intentions
Appreciating People How often have you been asked for a business plan? And how soon do they become out-of-date, or sit gathering dust? Liverpool, UK www.appreciatingpeople.co.uk
The realities of the modern world require a different approach; one that is flexible and adaptable. There is another option, and it’s based on the use of ‘intentions’. Inspired by the ‘commander’s intent’, the intention approach is a military term, used to describe what a successful mission looks like. It’s not about having a plan and sticking to it – it’s about having an intention. The intention approach recognises the chaos, lack of a complete picture, changes in situation, and other factors that make plans completely or partially obsolete. It’s an approach that empowers initiative, improvisation and adaptation, by providing guidance to what a successful conclusion might be. Traditional planning approaches – with aims, objectives and a fixed timescale – are quickly outdated, and often limiting. An intention allows for flexibility, clarity of purpose and simplicity. It’s important to keep intentions simple, clear and flexible – the more concise, the better. Appreciating People has successfully used the intention approach for many years to achieve all of our intentions; and along the way new opportunities have arisen. It has been a crucial factor in expanding the company.
Three helpful hints when using the intention approach: • Don’t undertake any action or plan which doesn’t meet the intention • Review intentions periodically to check they’re still relevant • Create achievable action plans with short delivery timescales Instead of formal delivery plans, try using intentions with simple action plans and an annual review cycle, based on celebrating success and learning from mistakes.
Lodging with the Locals The Lodge at Chaa Creek was a pioneer of Belize ecotourism back in the 1980s, and its community-first approach continues to shape tourism development in the Central American nation today. Joe Dodgshun spoke to founders Lucy and Mick Flemingâ€Ś Photography Casey Kelbaugh and Chaa Creek 54 | Lodging with the Locals
In 1977, a young travelling couple met a fellow traveller in a Belize City bar. He was a retired British RAF commander who tantalised them with tales of a run-down farm plot hidden away, along with Mayan ruins, in the rainforest close to the Guatemalan border. As Lucy and Mick Fleming paddled their way up the Macal River for the first time, they found themselves entering an otherworldly valley, one cradling dense tropical growth, boisterous birdsong, a heavy potpourri of flora and ancient, musty mulch – and, somewhere amongst it all, was one very overgrown farm. Sold; they rented, then bought, eking out a tough living off the land. Under the patient tutelage of local villagers, they began tending vegetables with hand tools and learned how to make thatched cabana huts. Word of these off-track travellers spread and a backpacker trail soon led to their door, with adventurous souls arriving by horseback or canoe to stay awhile and lend a hand (or, in certain cases, not). The Anglo-American couple built a visitor hut in 1981 to help cover costs and started offering simple
meals to those self-caterers who may otherwise simply cadge valuable onions. The Lodge at Chaa Creek was born. Fast forward a decade: Chaa Creek is a fullyfledged eco resort, complete with two little Flemings. Fast forward another 16 years, and the ‘wildly civilised’ lodge now features jacuzzi and plunge pool villas; boasts the Gold Green Globe sustainability certification; and attracts ethicallyminded travellers from all corners of the world. But arguably its biggest achievement – which this year won it a National Geographic Traveller World Legacy Award – is how it’s included the community in the lodge’s daily life, ethos and evolution. “We’ve always been involved with the community,” explains Mick Fleming, a warm, hulking fellow from Sussex. “They were the ones who provided us with a lot of knowledge when we first started, as we learned how to thatch, build and grow food. And, of course, as we started to take staff on, they all came from the local community.”
Lodging with the Locals | 55
He says Belize’s population of just 372,000 means it’s a place where communities really matter, “making it easy to find yourself engulfed and responsible within communities at whatever level.” Once the Flemings’ business started to grow, they sought ways to give back – an approach which he says is as much pragmatic as altruistic. “If the community’s happy, we’re all happy. If not, chances are your business is not going to succeed.” In the beginning, a Massey Ferguson tractor arrived from the UK to dig in for Chaa Creek and its neighbours. Then the Flemings decided to put 10% of all room rates towards Chaa Creek Cares – a fund they developed to support environmental and social programmes in Belize. Lucy Fleming, a direct and charming New Jersey native, says that although the Belizean village governance system of ‘alcaldes’ prove effective on a small scale, larger social and environmental issues are difficult to tackle without “bigger fish organisations connecting with big fish government. “When people are hand to mouth, their concerns reside around rice and beans, school fees, and shoes,” she says. “The fact that a river dam may affect their drinking water and raise the cost of their three light bulbs is as far from their minds as the islands in the sea that they hear about but never see.” Another initiative began as ‘passing around the hat’ for staff members in times of need and was later formalised to become the Employee Dollar Club, an initiative which creates staff emergency funds by matching employee inputs at 50 cents to the Belizean dollar. More than 125 people from the area are employed by the lodge, leading to community flow-on effects in education, new houses, and improved living standards – with the staff determined to take this even further. Brion Young, manager of Chaa Creek’s Natural History Centre worked his way up the ladder over the space of ten years, and now wants to instil the “world of opportunities” that he received himself, amongst others. He is one of the drivers behind Butterflies on the Road, an initiative taking Blue Morpho butterflies from the lodge’s butterfly farm to schools to raise 56 | Lodging with the Locals
environmental awareness. His experiences have given him a unique perspective, one which drives him to make a difference both at work and through community volunteering. “It gives me great joy knowing that we’ve created a positive impact simply by changing the way our people see and think about the environment and our wild friends of nature,“ says Young. “I have seen the creation of many small school gardens and the restoration of many plants as well as several small composting pits.” Lucy Fleming recalls another vivid example of how the growth of tourism has led to positive conservation impacts: “We used to have these fellows who would paddle up the river and kill iguanas for the market, but they’re now taking tourists up the river and showing them the iguanas in their natural habitat, instead. It makes far more sense to them to make money from the tourists, but there has to be a financial incentive because when you’re poor, your hands are bound.” Encouraged by such successes, they have launched annual eco-ambassador camps, bringing Belizean kids of all ethnic groups together to learn about conservation, “and then return to school to get other kids excited.” The couple are often described as pioneers of sustainable tourism in Belize, a country which they say had essentially no tourism whatsoever when they arrived – offering a rare chance to help shape an industry’s development. Since then, Chaa Creek has served as both inspiration and a training ground for a good number of the nation’s next generation of travel professionals; and the Flemings have been heavily involved in helping steer the country’s tourism direction, serving on both national tourism committees and on the visitor frontlines. Many of those now visiting this long-overlooked country are responsible travellers, visiting specifically for Belize’s nature, culture, or even Chaa Creek; a wild contrast to the days when travellers would turn up in Belize City and try to make a booking through the Bullseye Candy Store, since the lodge had no telephone.
“We have found that passion for life has always gotten us through times of no money far better than money could have gotten us through times of no passion. Without community involvement, where would passion for life find a home?” As the winner of World Legacy Awards’ Engaging Communities category, the Flemings joined a panel of winners at the ITB World Travel Fair in Berlin in March. One of the questions faced by fellow category toppers – the Slovenian Tourism Board – asked whether industry-wide sustainable feats are only possible in small countries. In considering this question from their own perspective, the Flemings agree that Belize’s situation is unique with its small, sustainable tourism scene and wild environment: “It’s a completely different kettle of fish.” But Lucy Fleming believes the inhabitants of any small countries have the potential to make sustainable tourism a priority. “When you are living in a smaller nation with less people involved in producing that tourism product, you can really come together, speak with the government, make change and be proactive in your choices,” she argues. Despite the history and intent behind the development of Belize’s sustainable tourism industry, the Flemings say persistent government engagement is vitally important to steer it in the right direction. Lucy Fleming points to the early2000’s advent of large cruise ship arrivals – a mass tourism form which challenges Belize’s ecocredibility; goes against the lodge’s principles and is something the Flemings have fiercely resisted, even in court. “We’re now dealing with the repercussions of cruises. Before, you had 20 people going into a Mayan site, and now you have 200 people going in at a time, so we must be very cognizant of keeping an open dialogue with government as an industry, to let them know what direction we feel the country should take.”
1981, even if they still offer more modest camp lodgings identifying more closely with the resort’s roots. But Lucy Fleming says the key lies in a passion for their work and “an unerring faith that balancing the financial coffers with more spiritually aligned actions always allows for the best result. “It certainly can get a bit scary at times as we are usually centred somewhere on the edge of success, but we have found that passion for life has always gotten us through times of no money far better than money could have gotten us through times of no passion. Without community involvement, where would passion for life find a home?” Guests taste this passion whilst out enjoying allinclusive activities like rainforest medicinal plant tours, horse treks or canoe trips in the 400-acre nature reserve, experiencing Belize through the eyes of its people. It’s a win-win situation: word-ofmouth virality as guests share the authentic stories they live and progress with Chaa Creek locals taking up the mantle of a dream shared and built together. “When you identify staff with that potential, being able to share the vision with them is very important and having people like that on board has been a big step ahead in recent years,” says Mick Fleming. “You’ve got the fresh energy of the youth and the wisdom of those of us who have been around for a bit, and that combination… it’s magic.”
Understandably, another issue they grapple with is one of finance – how do they balance the books while implementing the community development projects they believe in? For a start, it helps that their more luxurious lodgings cost more than the eight Belizean dollars they charged per night in Lodging with the Locals | 57
The Social Stock Exchange is a by-product of David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ – but what exactly is it? And how is it helping to support a raft of sociallyconscious and environmentally aware businesses? Patrick Hurley caught up with the exchange’s director of partnerships, Debbie Ryan, to find out more… Google the phrase ‘social stock exchange’ and the first hit gives this definition: ‘to create an efficient, universally accessible buyers’ and sellers’ marketplace where impact investors and social impact businesses can achieve greater impact.’ The next result says: ‘the Social Stock Exchange provides access to the world’s first regulated exchange dedicated to businesses and investors seeking to achieve a positive social and environmental impact through their activities.’ 58 | Good Stock
The rest of the first page of results is similar. Dozens of websites stuffed to burst with buzzwords and jargon, all designed to catch the eye of the social entrepreneur looking for money, but at the same time almost completely impenetrable to the lay person. What is an ‘impact investor’ anyway? And why would someone need access to a ‘regulated exchange’ if they want to ‘achieve a positive social and environmental impact’? In short, what is this all about?
“The social impact of an organisation is key to being accepted onto the social stock exchange” Here at Ethos, we’re all about ethical trading, the new economy and alternative finance. So, we thought what better way of getting into the detail of the Social Stock Exchange than to sit down with its director of partnerships, Debbie Ryan, and ask the question outright. And that’s exactly what we did. So, what on earth is a social stock exchange? “The Social Stock Exchange,” she tells us, “was launched in 2013 by the prime minister at the time, David Cameron, at the G8 conference as part of the ‘Big Society’ agenda that the Conservatives were promoting at that time. And the idea was to have a disruptive alternative stock exchange to focus purely on the smaller business, the social enterprise, the third sector organisations, charities, and for-profit business.” So far so good. It’s a way of getting the benefits of a traditional stock exchange for the sorts of organisations that may consider themselves less motivated by the bottom line. But one thing was bothering us. How can you exchange stock in companies and charities that, because of the way they were formed, often explicitly have no stock to sell? Ryan enlightens us. “A lot of charities will raise retail bonds, and community interest companies again will raise bonds, so there are ways that we can support.” Raising bonds? That’s similar to taking a loan out, but rather than from a bank, it’s from a group of investors who are willing to take a risk on putting their money into the charity, or the social enterprise. Like a bank loan, it pays interest to the investors, but it can also be traded itself, depending on the performance of the social enterprise. So, a bond taken out with one investor group can then be sold to another investor group. And on the social stock exchange, it is these bonds that are traded, rather than the ownership of the companies themselves. Ryan confirms our understanding, “obviously, every company is different, and its requirement is different, so it’s about understanding how it works, but if the company can’t raise directly because of a legal structure, we create a bond so it’s the
bond that is listed on the stock exchange not the company itself.” But it’s not all about raising money. The social impact of an organisation is key to being accepted onto the social stock exchange too. Ryan is keen to stress that it’s not just a finance product that they are offering, but is also a tool through which positive social impact can be achieved. “This is all focused on social impact, so if you’re a potential investor and know that you only want to put your money in a business that does good, you come to our exchange and know that all our members have passed an accreditation process, and the investor themselves doesn’t have to worry.” The social stock exchange, it seems, does far more than merely act as, as the search link put it, a ‘buyers’ and sellers’ marketplace’. They broker loan finance; measure social impact; accredit enterprises for ethical values; provide publicity for the social economy; and much more besides. “If you’re a business and you want to be recognised for your ethical values and type of business that you do, then being listed on the Social Stock Exchange gives you that visibility, and it gives you that market to be able to say to the rest of the world: these are our credentials and this is what we’re doing.” Ryan talks us through the process of how she and her colleagues vouch for the companies she works with. “It’s a two-stage process. First, organisations must apply to us – that is a one-to-one meeting and we talk people through an application form. That form goes to an independent admissions panel, and gives that panel a chance to look at the credentials of the company and see if they fit the criteria of the Social Stock Exchange.” And if they do fit the criteria? What happens then? “It’s all done on a no-fee basis, with no commitment from either side, so by completing the form, it just allows us to have that first glance and make sure that companies would be eligible to move on to the next step. If it’s a good fit between what it does and what we do, then it moves on to the next stage.” It’s at this next stage at which companies and charities Good Stock | 59
The Process Open to smaller businesses, social enterprises, third sector organisations, charities and for-profit businesses
Apply: one-to-one meeting to talk through an application form, which goes to an independent admissions panel to see if they fit the criteria of the Social Stock Exchange
Detailed impact report: covering CEO statement; outcomes; theory of change; purpose that a company was set up for; intended outcomes; and consequences of the business
When a business is ratified as a member, it produces an annual impact report, alongside a financial statement
Organisations that can’t sell shares can raise retail bonds; CICs raise bonds
SSE helps broker loan finance (either through the public exchange or private money); measures social impact; accredits enterprises for ethical values; and provides publicity for the social economy The public can also invest directly into projects through their mainstream savings accounts; creating a circular economy where everybody benefits
60 | Good Stock
must produce a detailed impact report covering everything from the CEO statement, through to outcomes, through to the theory of change in the organisation. The report looks at the purpose that a company was set up for, and what the intended outcomes and consequences of the business are. Once this impact report has been considered, Ryan tells us, “if that again fits the criteria then it is ratified as a member. Annually thereafter, it produces an annual impact report alongside its financial statement. It’s at that point, it’s eligible to become a member.” And for social enterprises that qualify, membership brings a whole range of benefits, as Ryan makes plain: “for those that want to raise money, either by listing on the public exchange, or through accessing private money, we’d support them in that process. We’ll take them through the listing process if they do want to go public, or we arrange a series of investor meetings if they’re more interested in accessing private capital. Most importantly, one of the things we’re really passionate about, is that members of the public can invest in these projects directly through their mainstream savings accounts, and for us, that creates that circular economy, where everybody benefits.” The conversation moves on to the set-up of the Social Stock Exchange itself, rather than just what it does to help social economy organisations. Ethos has extensively explored the B Corp concept, and the launch of the B Corp idea in the UK. And, sure enough, Social Stock Exchange were right in there at the start, being named one of the first B Corps in the UK. “Regarding our B Corp status, the idea of B Corps is slightly different in so much that they look at the way business is done, as opposed to what the business does. For example, you can have a very large, goliath business that gets B Corp status, and what that B Corp is saying is the way they operate meets all those standards, but the output of the business is different to each business. We’re different in so much as the output of the business is what’s important to us. We work very closely with the B Corp team; one of our board members James Perry, is also the chairman of B Lab in the UK, so we have that natural link, and we do a lot of work together.”
Photography Social Stock Exchange
“Profit is not a dirty word, it’s what you do with the profit that is really important” It’s interesting to note the overlaps and the similarities between so many of the organisations and people who make up the ethical entrepreneur world. Often, as in this case, people who work in one area doing good, subsequently find themselves involved in other socially useful projects. Ryan agrees, having found herself working for central government; a number of large private sector companies; and now the Social Stock Exchange. Repeatedly, the people who want to do the most good in their lives find themselves drawn back into the sector time and time again. Ryan has one overriding message that gets right to the heart of what she does, and right to the heart of the sort of world we at Ethos hope to see built. “At the Social Stock Exchange, profit is not a dirty word, it’s what you do with the profit that
is really important. What we see across the world is that businesses that make huge differences to communities or the environment sometimes really struggle to raise the finance they need to grow, so we support them with that process in lots of ways. We think businesses that are commercially sound can do more good, so our mission is to help businesses that do good, to grow.” As a way of getting investor finance into the hands of people who want to do good, Ryan and her colleagues are a welcome addition to the panoply of products available to social entrepreneurs in the UK. It’s still early days, but the prospects are good. And if tradable bonds, private finance or other investment support leads to just one of its members making a positive social impact, it is still a job well done for the Social Stock Exchange. Good Stock | 61
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Talking Pictures After a busy few months creating a series of Ethos films, our resident filmmaker Allan Melia talks current projects, and trains his lens on what’s to come… Words: Allan Melia
Our short documentary series the Makers and the City, is a group of films about people who make, and the places that support them. With this being our first venture into producing a series, it made sense to base it here in Liverpool and start with local reclaimed woodworkers HayBeno. We caught up with owners Mark and Hayley to talk sustainability, trips to Norway and of course – their favourite wood to work with. Next up, and due to be released this month is a film about DoES Liverpool, a CIC co-working space and workshop, where you’ll find artists and makers working alongside developers, hardware engineers and entrepreneurs, on everything from wearable technology to 3D-printed medical instruments. During production of the Makers series, an unexpected opportunity arose to work with community organisation Power to Change, on a learning event taking place in Liverpool’s famous Georgian quarter. The event brought 18 community businesses and organisations together from the UK and Europe to share knowledge and ideas over two days; Ethos was tasked with documenting the process.
Not content with making any old event film, we decided to tell the story through the eyes of one of the attendees, to discover what compelled them to be there, and how the event could help progress their business in the future. We spoke to Lloyd Dobbs from Hull’s Goodwin Development Trust (GDT), and after the event, we made the 250-mile round trip to Hull to get a full interview and tour of the estate where GDT is based. The resulting film is half community business story, and half event document; and although we took a chance by doing things differently, we’re really proud of the result. Currently in production is a short film documenting the ‘Big Spring Beach Clean’, a community event facilitated by the environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage, in partnership with Parley for the Oceans, tackling the growing problem of ocean plastic pollution. Litter-pickers and refuse bags in hand, we helped clean up New Brighton beach, and I brought the camera along to shoot some interviews and grab coverage of the event. The film will be released ahead of World Ocean’s Day on 8th June this year.
Talking Pictures | 63
Fresh Ideas Free Thinking In this edition of Fresh Ideas Free Thinking, we spoke to Brazilian social entrepreneur, Renato Orozco. Founder of Nossa Cidade, a social enterprise which improves the quality of life for the communities it works with; Orozco is also a trustee of the Minas Gerais chapter of the Awesome Foundation. We caught up to talk books, business and basic income… What do you do? I am an idealistic social entrepreneur from Brazil. About six years ago, I left my consulting career at a top Brazilian firm to start my transition into social entrepreneurship.
are some positive aspects of being in New York as well; such as the amazing networking opportunities and – bizarrely – it’s cheaper to call Brazil from New York than to call Brazil from Brazil!
Today, I lead Nossa Cidade – Turnaround for Towns, which is a network support organisation for people creating change in small towns in Brazil; namely with the goal of improving the overall quality of life for the town’s citizens. At Nossa Cidade, I distribute social innovations to empower these communities.
Who do you do it for? The easy answer is to say that I do that for the several unbending and resilient self-appointed community organisers in small towns. Our mission, after all, is to support them.
I am also a trustee of the Minas Gerais chapter of the Awesome Foundation – a global community of autonomous chapters, which gift no-stringsattached grants to ideas that will make the local area more ‘awesome’; I help awesome ideas to become reality. I also do some consultancy work; and I’m a random social entrepreneur when nobody is looking… Where do you do it? Mostly in Brazil. However, my wife is a New Yorker who lives in Queens and all my enterprises, family and friends are in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. So, travelling back and forth to balance my love life and social passion is a routine for me. While I am in New York, I work remotely using Skype, Basecamp and Google Hangouts to interact with team members and clients. There
However, after some reflecting, I came to the realisation that I actually do it for myself. I have met so many interesting and inspiring people, been to wonderful places and had so much fun and joy with what I do, that it is a no-brainer to realise that I am the one who has benefitted the most from this experience. What has been your favourite project of the past year that you’ve been involved in? The Oasis Game is a social innovation tool, which transforms whole communities by working together to make dreams come true. In such a project, a group of ‘players’ visits a community and engages with it through playful activities, to identify its positive assets; establish a trusting relationship, and access its collective dreams. Then, the whole community is engaged and turns their dream into a reality, all by themselves. This is all done during two days, without spending any money; but all the while, having fun!
Photography Renato Orozco
I love running the Oasis Game in different communities, because – beside building real things like playgrounds and community centres – it also builds a sense of community empowerment, which is necessary to create positive change in the poor neighbourhoods and towns of Brazil. What is the most innovative, ethically-minded business that you’d love to collaborate with? I would love to be more involved in the blockchain revolution and cool innovations such as Ethereum, Bitcoin and Colu. A blockchain is a distributed virtual database which cannot be breached, frauded or censored by anyone. With this technology, it is possible to disrupt democracy and run entirely decentralised monetary systems, civil registries and public policy decision making, to name a few. An anarchist at heart, it excites me to think that one day we will have a world in which power is decentralised and decisions are made by individuals and communities. What ethical business leaders inspire you? Ouch – I can’t come up with any business leader… I guess I am growing quite cynical about these types lately… But, here are some people that inspire me: John Croft, creator of Dragon Dreaming; Otto Scharmer, from Theory U; Muhammad Yunus,
the father of microcredit; Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy; and Bill Mollison, the father of permaculture. What are the most interesting things that you have come across or read recently? The book Sapiens, blew my mind. I am currently halfway through reading Homo Deus and I’m astonished at the future tech possibilities. I am also reading The Brief Summer of Anarchy, which is a book about the life and death of libertarian leader, Durruti – I’m really enjoying it. Outside of this, the basic income topic plays hard with my imagination. What’s the book, books or author that most shaped your thinking for the work that you do? Muhammed Yunus was my first inspiration. His work led me to leave my consulting career, and attend the Public and Non-profit Management Program at Boston University. That was a huge move for me and it was where the basis for Nossa Cidade was forged! After that, Dragon Dreaming influenced the way I think about community development. Finally, my fellow co-founders and members of the non-profit sector shape my mind, heart and soul daily.
We asked this issue's contributors, and here's what they said...
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” Selina Juul, Stop Wasting Food
“My ethos is decentralisation, people empowerment and nonviolence. I dream of the day when everyone will live well, in abundant communities, on a healthy planet. I am looking forward to the rising of a free, generous, compassionate and nonhierarchical society. Get ready, it will happen!” Renato Orozco, Nossa Cidade Solutions
“Do more. Be Better”
“I try really hard to properly understand the social issue that we’re trying to tackle. I aim to work with others from the start – complex problems will only get solved collaboratively and I think it’s important to get started and to learn by doing. There’s a real value in jumping in and working things out – rather than waiting around on the sidelines until you’ve come up with what feels like a perfect way to solve a problem.” Rob Greenland, Leeds Community Homes
“Have bold dreams and then work your balls off to make them happen.” Mark Stevenson, author, We Do Things Differently
Kresse Wesling MBE, Elvis & Kresse
“Dream with others, dreams have no limits. Use your imagination to see further. Experience the world. Love more, it also has no limits. Be true to yourself. Be authentic.” Elena Rodriguez Blanco, Authenticitys
“Ultimately, we would like to change how the economy works - if we just accept that we live in a market economy, we don’t need to take that economy to the extremes; which I think we have been doing over the past decade. A lot of sustainability challenges will change as we change that economy, and move towards a more circular economy or one of more social values.” Miquel Ballester, Fairphone
“Chaa Creek was founded by a love of nature and guided by the principles of responsible travel. It seeks to instill a sense of wonder and environmental responsibility in our guests through experiences that bring Belize’s unique ecology, history and culture alive in an atmosphere of affordable luxury.” Lucy and Mick Fleming, Chaa Creek
“We want to create a sustainable and efficient recycling system which raises the awareness about 'sorting from the source' – whilst creating jobs for vulnerable people, especially refugees. We are working to change the concept of humanitarian and environmental work in the region.” Kassem Kazak, Recycle Beirut
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Published on May 22, 2017
It's here; Ethos Magazine issue 2. Our cover story focuses on FairPhone; creators of the World's first ethical smartphone, offering a sustai...