Creativity isn’t job specific

Joseph Beuys


“Beuys imagined that an expanded application of human creativity–and the broader definition of “art” that would follow–would result in something he called “social sculpture.” While the term encompassed many things for Beuys, it might broadly be defined as a conscious act of shaping, of bringing some aspect of the environment–whether the political system, the economy, or a classroom–from a chaotic state into a state of form, or structure. Social sculpture should be accomplished cooperatively, creatively, and across disciplines (he often cited the example of the beehive as an ideal working model). For Beuys, the need to change, or literally to re-form, was urgent. “All around us,” he said, “the fundamentals of life are crying out to be shaped, or created.”

+ Creativity, Joan Rothfuss, Walker Art Center curator


Designing for Generosity // Nipun Mehta

“Change yourself and change the world. If we make that inner change outer change is bound to come in a very different way if it comes from the inside out.” Nipun Mehta

Humanising interactions, focusing on adding value rather than showing value, paying it forward, smile cards, tapping into the mindset of abundance and other great insights on the gift economy.

Vidals story

Vidals story

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I have been watching the Story of HONY on my facebook feed for a couple of weeks with great joy.

It started with two posts by Humans of New York. Humans of New York (HONY) is a lovely project by Brandon. He started it after he was made redundant and with no photography experience decided to photograph 100,000 New Yorkers. It has since become a story telling device, he collects little stories or quotes as well as the photographs. It is such a great concept, a way of giving people a voice. Allowing them to tell their story, whether it is happy, sad, or thought provoking. So many people I know and many people around the world have been connected by it creating a community of HONY supporters.

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His photograph of Vidal had a huge response. Vidal was asked who has influenced him the most and he spoke of his headteacher, Ms Lopez. An absolutely amazing woman who is fighting a battle to make her students believe they matter. She is a change maker, impacting the lives of her students every day. But Ms Lopez herself had been about to give up hope, but her mother had told her to pray on it. A couple of days later she saw Vidals story online.

Brandon did something that i’ve never seen him do in the year of so I’ve been following him on facebook. He went to meet her and asked her what she needed. They struck upon increasing the horizons of the young people at Mont Hall Bridges Academy by providing the students with a visit to

They started a campaign on Indiegogo, setting out to raise $100,000 but have since raised over $1 million. Creating a massive impact on the community. Meaning the Harvard trip can not only be permanent but they can run a summer school. The HONY community has been truly generous. It’s really brought home to me the power of creating connections, of telling stories. The Mont Hall Bridges Academy community has felt the outpouring of love and support from people around the world.

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It just saw that Vidal and Mrs Lopez were at the White House, a couple of days ago they were on the Ellen Show. Absolutely amazing. By allowing Vidal to tell his story, Brandon Vidal had been able to touch the lives of not just his classmates, the future students of Mont Hall, the Brownsville community who have been given a voice, Ms Lopez, HONY & extended community. Creating connections that go beyond geographical boundaries.

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I think this quote by Barack Obama, says it all.

“You don’t do things alone. Nobody does things alone. Everybody always needs support. For a young man like you, you should never be too afraid or too shy to look for people who can encourage you or mentor you. There are a lot of people out there who want to provide advice and support to people who are trying to do the right thing. So you’ll have a lot of people helping you. Just always remember to be open to help. Never think that you know everything. And always be ready to listen.”

How to make giving more enjoyable

How to make giving more enjoyable


I was recently speaking to a friend about why giving to charity can feel so difficult. We chatted about the Christmas guilt where you realise that you are buying so much and getting so much, yet many people have very little. In response she’d given some money to a charity but it had felt flat. It all reminded me of the recent Seth Godin blog post article Cutting through Singers Paradox. In which he describes Singers Paradox, that saving a child drowning of you is a moral imperative yet saving a child dying on the other side of the world seems less so. The key difference being the immediacy. The impact of seeing a child dying in front of you and the gratitude that you would receive.

So how could a charity/ non profit bring this feeling of immediacy to far away situations? how can people feel that they are making a change by giving. The scale of the problems that charity’s or other non profits are tackling often seem so great that whatever we can give, be it time or money feels too little. Since joining a non profit design organisation, the question of how we could make the act of giving more enjoyable has come up over and over again. Because as Joey from Friends says “there’s no selfless good deed.” We all give because it makes us feel good.

A key part is creating a connection between the act of giving and the end result or the positive change. A type of 1:1 effect. Where the amount donated is linked to a specific result. An organisation that does this brilliantly is Charity: Water. For every donation you make, no matter how big or small, you receive a full breakdown and report of where the money has gone and how it has helped. This creates a connection between with the person you’ve helped, bringing it back to that human connection that we all desire. They have found a way to use information to connect and to create transparency.

Another way of imparting the pleasure of giving I’ve observed is through awareness raising activities. One of the reasons for the popularity of volunteerism and challenges such as the iron man is that they bring that immediacy of helping which seeing a drowning child in front you does. They force us out of our comfort zone and engage us in an action that has a positive reaction. You can see the issue and contribute to solving the problem. Which in turn makes us feel more engaged than just giving money.

Finally recognition is another important part. For example part of the success of the ice bucket challenge was that by nominating 3 friends you gained not only the pleasure of being recognised for the good thing that you were doing but also involved your friends and family in the act of giving. Again this is something that Charity: Water have understood. They encourage you to donate your birthday or wedding or life event, thereby creating a community of givers.

We are intrinsically social beings, with a desire to fit in. So by encouraging a culture of giving by involving those close to us and highlighting the resulting stories of change and impact. I believe that the act of giving can be made more immediate and therefore more engaging and enjoyable.