Archive for the ‘Social Entrepreneurship’ Category

Share dealing (Day 36)

craig_venter

Just tapping away really. Carried on with the Paul Arden chapter, inserting points from my web research. It’s just a bit laborious really, not boring but you have to work your way systematically through. So I was sitting in the back room, door open onto the garden, cat asleep under the coffee table, a bit of David Gilmour on the old music system (and I mean old), autumn sun streaming in, Turkish coffee steaming beside me. Uneventful. Enjoyable.

On the research front was reading up about Craig Venter so see if the Human Genome story can be told in an unexpected, less received-wisdom way.

Had to call operations to a halt just before 5 to make my first visit to Google Campus near Old Street and my second visit to The Fox Pub round the corner (first visit was on the evening of a benefit exhibition for street artist Robbo a couple of years ago). I was there at the kind invitation of Moray Coulter, creator of ProductionBase [media recruitment website] and new start-up We Can Go Dutch (Do things you couldn’t do on your own by aggregating your buying power and splitting the cost). The event was a gathering of TableCrowd focused on the Sharing Economy. The start-ups represented ranged from house-sharing to lift-sharing, no waste veg-buying to integrated online home-renting. It resonated for me on a number of levels – my Landshare commission with Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall in 2009, FruitShare last week (104,359 UK children involved so far), the pilot on collaborative consumption I worked on last year with Rachel Botsman (w/t the Big Share). But beside all that, as I described the book I’m working on to fellow guests, it became increasingly clear that the spirit of this strand of online/start-up activity is closely allied to that of the central figures in When Sparks Fly.

The event was held in a space run in the Google Campus basement by Centralworking. This shared work-space operation was set up by James Layfield. He’s the fella I’m going to talk to about the Business section. According to one of the start-ups at the gathering to whom I was chatting after dinner, James regularly sits down with the businesses in his premises and listens to their plans and shares his experience, simply as a good-will/out-of-genuine-interest bonus.

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Interactive media cuts crime

Two years is a long time in interactive media – time enough for this commission of mine, Landshare, from Keo and Mint Digital to show its true value as highlighted in the Telegraph:

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s allotment halves anti-social behaviour

Hugh Fearnley-Whittinghstall, the River Cottage chef, has halved anti-social behaviour on a housing estate with an allotment scheme.

7:00AM BST 11 Aug 2011

The television chef launched the Landshare initiative, encouraging communities to plant food on unused plots.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

The scheme’s first project in Leigh, Wigan, has cut anti-social behaviour by 51 per cent, local police said.

“This has been a wonderful project that gives children something positive, healthy and educational to do,” said PCSO Wendy Walters. “The allotment has undoubtedly contributed to a staggering 51 per cent reduction in antisocial behaviour on the estate in the last year.”

“The estate has seen a great improvement in antisocial behaviour since the allotment started,” said one resident. “The site gives children somewhere to go and something to do.”

The Landshare scheme, backed by Channel 4, matches people in need of land and those wanting to help with growing with people offering unused plots. It also offers advice to novice gardeners. It has been used by more than 55,000 people since its launch by Fearnley-Whittingstall in 2009.

{Reproduced courtesy of The Telegraph}

Thought for Food

Landshare map

Landshare map

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall of River Cottage

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall of River Cottage

eBay, Couchsurfing, Freecycle, Park At My House – one of the greatest strengths of the Web is connecting and aggregating supply & demand. Landshare plugs into exactly that power – it links people who want to grow their own fruit & veg (but can’t get an allotment) with people who have bits of land they can grow it on. This could be an arthritic granny who can no longer do her garden, a property developer with some wasteland, a hospital with overgrown former gardens, a church with glebe land, anywhere where unproductive land can be safely used to grow your own and the resultant produce shared between growers and land-owner.

The project started last summer when the series producer of River Cottage came in to Horseferry Road with members of the Keo Films team who produce the show. The idea was to develop a story featured in the TV series by exploring how the Web could facilitate the kind of land sharing Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall had highlighted on screen. What immediately appealed was the simplicity and clarity of the proposition, and the fact that it revolved around this core strength of the Web. It also felt very much of the moment – even more so now, 6 months on.

We started by building a first phase site at www.landshare.net to test the level of interest. Using the Autumn series of River Cottage as a springboard, we had 15,000 registrations within 10 days. The mix was healthy in terms of the balance between would-be Growers and Land-owners. We also had people register as Landspotters – participants who might know of potentially usable land in their locality – and Facilitators – participants who could help vulnerable people, those in need of help on the computer front and anyone requiring extra support to take part. Like-minded groups and organisations were also able to register interest.

The plan is for the next few months to see the design and build of the service, as well as the follow-up work on partnerships with all manner of enthusiasts small and large, local and nation-wide. The focus is on amplifying the inspiring work of existing land share-type initiatives and champions in the field, as well as helping the sharing of best practice and providing a UK overview – as opposed to stomping in with great big broadcaster wellies.

Issues of legal compliance have been considered and worked through from the off. Since the process involves transactions and meetings in real life a good deal of thought has gone into how to make those work effectively and safely. Projects like School of Everything (in which Channel 4 has invested via its Education department and 4iP initiative), which likewise involves real-life encounters, have provided useful precedents and approaches to such issues.

It’s always a good sign when a project has an organic feel of wholeness and rightness and Landshare has that vibe for me. The new year saw it flagged up as a trend-setter for 2009 in The Guardian and rippling over the pond to be picked up by Huffington. It has caught the eye of the Scottish Parliament. All these are promising indications that Landshare is the right idea in the right place at the right time. So here’s to a fruitful 2009…

Landshare

Landshare with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Landshare with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

In the wake of Sexperience and Embarrassing Teenage Bodies, I’m moving on to get some more light, space and fresh air…  next up for me is Landshare, a project to link up people who want to grow their own food (and can’t get an allotment) with people who have land where food could be grown.

The project is in its initial phase – gauging and registering the interest of growers, land-owners, land-spotters and all the people & groups who will be needed to make it work well and sustainably. 6,000 people registered in the week after launch. I’m doing the project with the River Cottage folk (Keo Films and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall) and, if you’re interested in any of the roles mentioned, you can register at the nascent Landshare site at www.landshare.net.

Here’s a vid of Hugh getting going, securing land from the Church of England. Old grannies with arthritis who can’t do their garden any more through to property developers with wasteland temporarily on their hands are equally in the frame for sharing land and the produce that comes from it.

And here is Hugh explaining the basic idea.

Update 11.xi.08 :

An interesting post about Landshare by the formidable John Thackera on Doors of Perception – you gotta love the graph at the bottom.

There’s snow business like show business

Floating in the sky

Took the Enfants Terribles last night to the 25th anniversary celebration of The Snowman, one of Channel 4’s first commissions, originally TXing in November 1982, the month the Channel took to the air. It had been commissioned that February from John Coates (who also produced Yellow Submarine for The Beatles) – he was at the event yesterday evening at the Peacock Theatre near Lincoln’s Inn. Camilla Deakin, former Channel 4 Commissioning Editor for Animation, introduced me to John, a stalwart champion of British animation.

I’m currently working with Camilla and her business partner at Lupus Films, Ruth Fielding, and the comfortable creatures at Aardman in Bristol to explore where the next 25 years of Channel 4 animation may go in the networked, on demand world we now inhabit.

I bumped into David Baddiel for the first time in a long while and his charming Mrs, Morwena Banks of Absolutely Productions. In the wake of his recent BBC1 documentary on the question of restitution for property stolen from Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators in Germany, Poland and Eastern Europe, he is keen to move beyond Jewish and football themes to explore lively approaches to documentary in other areas, more allied to his novel writing themes.

Fellow comedian Rowland Rivron, as dapper as ever in a pinstripe reminiscent of that other groovy fella Jools Holland, seemed to be an afficianado of The Snowman stage show, highlighting variations of scenes and costumes from the previous times he has sat through it over the child-rearing years. Since returning purified from Extreme Celebrity Detox, he seems to have lapsed a bit from the strict regime of vomit-inducing fluids he bravely tested out on behalf of Channel 4 and is comfortable again sipping a drop of wine and downing a petite mince pie.

Don’t think Tamara Beckwith downed even one of the mini mince pies – there wasn’t room in her spray-on jeans. Other glam in the place included Natasha Kaplinsky and two this-generation female Blue Peter presenters who I don’t know the names of but of whom the older Enfant Terrible asked me: are they lesbians? Not sure what prompted the question but brought to light what a different world we’re in compared to the innocent days of Valerie Singleton.

Said Enfant was delighted to chat with Duncan Ballantine of Dragon’s Den – “I wouldn’t have invested in those smiley stickers – there are loads of things like that in schools” he confidently pronounced to the tanned tycoon, evidence of the real educative value of the Den.

Meanwhile the Mrs was altogether more interested in John Simm of Life on Mars and Human Traffic fame (which was produced by my one-time flatmate and old friend of the Mrs, Emer McCourt – check out her first novel Elvis, Jesus and Me).

Reflecting back on that first month of Channel 4 chimed in perfectly with the evening before – the first annual 4Talent Awards, at which I had the honour of presenting the New Media award to Mark Bowness, the fella behind the brilliant TribeWanted. The warm, intimate event at C4 HQ in Horseferry Road was perfectly MCed by comedian Paul Tonkinson, light but respectful of the young talent in the room. And the winners – 20 selected from art forms ranging from sit-com writing to architecture, from documentary photography to fashion design – were buzzing with fresh talent. Bastards.

No, it was fabulous – and very C4. Had me floating in the moonlit sky. You can peruse them all here on 4Talent / Ten4. The recognition clearly meant a lot to the bearers of the illuminated, chameleon-colour-changing awards (from Matmos, the lavalamp supremos) and was a clear motivational boost. As Channel 4 moves into the fully digital age and its next quarter century, the kind of energy and fresh talent in the Drum (the round room in the basement of the Channel where the post-awards drinkies took place) will be central to the evolving organisation and the beat to which it marches.

Enterprise the Eden Way

eden

Went to Oli Barrett’s launch of Make Your Mark with a Tenner where Tim Smit, the man behind the Eden project, passed on some experience and wisdom to the students of Stockwell Park High School in Sarf Lunden.Firstly he emphasised the importance of being kind, generous and open in business. Also, trusting in your instinct.Then he expounded on his Tinkerbell Theory – get enough people believing in your vision and it will happen.The former Motorhead producer then laid out the 9 rules that he devised to underpin his business:1 Say hello to a good number of people when you arrive at work every morning 2 Each year read 2 books outside your normal sphere of interest (and review them for your colleagues)

3 ditto with a Concert

4 ditto with a Movie

5 ditto with a Play

6 Get up once a year to make a short speech on ‘Why you like working for me’

7 Make a meal for 40 people at work who help you most to make the most of your day – Tim highlighted how you have different kinds of conversation when you eat together (makes me think of the French word ‘copain’ – it means ‘mate’ or ‘pal’ but literally it is someone you ‘break bread’ with

8 Do one act of anonymous kindness for a stranger each year – a way of sharing your good luck so you’re worthy of it

9 Play the samba drums as a group – Tim drew attention to how all children like to sing and dance, but look what happens to many of us on that front when we grow up

Which points to what these 9 rules are all about, getting/staying in touch with our spirit…

And this is how I try to do that: each day I leave the house saying “I will enjoy my day…”

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