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Posts tagged “Social Change

Grassroots Innovation | Abject Project, LA ~ design as a gamechanger

Abject Object is a design enterprise that supports homeless individuals and shelters through the design, production, and sale of retail accessories made from reclaimed materials. A hands-on rather than handout model for social and economic empowerment, Abject Object teaches valuable job skills including sewing, production, and business strategies, to homeless individuals.

The Los Angeles team of Project H partnered with the Downtown Women’s Center, a shelter in central Los Angeles, to develop four retail products that could be made using basic sewing skills, and whose function would have retail marketability, as well as tell stories about the women who made them.

The design team and women from Downtown Women’s Center worked side by side for three months on the development and prototyping of four products, each with a double-function:

1. A Bag that transforms into a hammock,

2. A “pocket scarf” that can be used as storage,

3. A hood garment that doubles as a tote bag, and

4. A cloth mat whose pieces can be used as pot-holders.

All materials were scavenged or donated, and included recycled bike inner tubes, parachutes, donated clothing, and rope. The sale and proceeds of all four products, which will be sold through local and online retailers, go back directly to the individual who made the item, and the shelter.

Using the Downtown Women’s Center as a first client, the team has now developed a manual, user guide, training program, and resource kit for additional shelters in the area to launch their own in-house Abject Object enterprises.

Inspiration: Project H Design


International Humanitarian Organizations and their work ~ EDF, Thailand

Just to put things into perspective, and look at the names in the area of humanitarian work around the world, I thought it’d be useful to present the many different organizations and their good work. And most notably how they reach out to promote their cause and spread the word.

This is Thailand-based EDF, The  Education for  Development Foundation.

Their Mission:

Poverty means not just a lack of money but a lack of opportunities. Many children have to leave school and find their way in the workforce in order to support their families. Without proper education, the quality of rural human resources will be less competitive in the future.


Bangkok, Thailand

Their Projects:

  • Scholarship Programs
  • Development Projects
  • Disabled Children Projects
  • Emergency relief project
  • Special Projects
  • Cross – National Project
  • International School Project
  • International Projects

How You Can Help:

There are many different ways you can help, and monetary is not the only means:

  • Scholarship Donation
  • Development and Emergency Relief Project Fund
  • Become an EDF Corporate Partner
  • Voluntary Service
  • EDF newsletter and online membership
  • PR for EDF
  • EDF Charity New Year Cards
  • All-year-round Present Campaign
  • Link to us
  • Donation Box / Leaflet Stand

To learn more about this organization, click here.

Eco Lifestyle Visionary | Blake Mycoskie

Blake Mycoskie of TOMS Shoes fame offers some candid insights on the condition of today’s environment and society, and the opportunities that exist for business to rethink their business model to include a “give back” component and do more. Green-thinking is here to stay, and is still evolving, touching a mere tip of the iceberg of the sheer possibilities. Mycoskie and his TOMS (the two brands are really inseparable!) are truly inspiring, a clear pioneer of a new way of business thinking.

Quote of the Day | On infant mortality reduction

You can buy a Coca-Cola virtually anywhere in developing countries but in these same places 1 in 5 children die before their 5th birthday from simple, preventable causes like dehydration from diarrhoea.

~ Cola Life

Quote of the Day | On sustainability and poverty alleviation

Sustainable Development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

You cannot achieve environmental security and human development without addressing the basic issues of health and nutrition.

~ Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway (1986 – 1989 and 1990 – 1996) and Director General of World Health Organization (1998 – 2003)

Grassroots Innovation | Alleviating poverty ~ one bike at a time

By Dian Hasan | October 10, 2010

Innovation that brings good to the people and makes a measurable and quantifiable difference always fascinate me. So without further ado, I’ve chosen to zoom in and share stories from around the world of innovative ideas and initiatives that help alleviate global poverty.

And although on the surface this may seem like a tall order, the stories bring forth some very unusual and random ideas that seek to attack the problem at the root.  My hope is that the stories will be inspiring that we can all make a difference.

Here’s a look at what is being done in RWANDA, AFRICA. And the tool of choice: BICYCLE.

The cargo bike that will replace the wooden bike and help any coffee farmer tremendously. Project Rwanda is helping establish a program of bike ownership.

The functional but unreliable wooden bike that will be replaced by the cargo bike.

The “Wooden Bike Classic” race, an event initiated by Project Rwanda to sustain the tradition of handcrafted bikes and create an ecotourism event.


US-initiated Moss Landing, California-based PROJECT RWANDA. Founder: Tom Ritchey


  • the bicycle can be an important tool in rebuilding a country, building national pride and addressing local issues facing Rwanda and other African nations.


  • furthering the economic development of Rwanda through initiatives based on the bicycle as a tool and symbol of hope.
  • use the bike to help boost the Rwandan economy as well as re-brand Rwanda as an attractive and safe business and ecotourism destination.
  • provide a program to replace traditional wooden bicycles with better-performing modern bicycles, while concurrently sustain the traditions of the handcrafted wooden bicycles.


Coffee-Bike Program: cargo bicycles can solve the transport problem if a program could make the bikes available to coffee farmers for a reasonable price on credit and where quality premiums would cover the bike’s cost.

The Rwandan coffee sector has enormous potential to create a dynamic and prosperous rural economy through the pursuit of extreme-quality specialty coffee for the U.S. and European markets. This will drive the Rwanda’s rural economy, empower the population, create employment and generate increased revenues.

Cargo bikes are provided through a collaborative venture between Project RwandaRitchey Design, and Rwanda Smallholders Specialty Coffee Company (RWASHOSCCO).


Eco-hero | TOMS’ new sustainable business model

By Dian Hasan | September 29, 2010

I don’t have enough good things to say about Blake Mycoskie, TOMS shoes founder. He’s brought to life a whole new way of looking at business, one that seeks a balance between Profit, People, and Planet. This is the way I view his business model, attaining profit to empower people’s economy and give back to the communities, while lessening the burden on the planet.

TOMS shoes’ model of One-for-One, donating a pair of shoes for every pair purchased is not only commendable, but as he has demonstrated – is a profitable sustainable business model! And that makes it one heck of a COOL COMPANY! Blake’s title on his business card says it all: “Chief Shoe Giver”!

Here’s another story on Blake Mycoskie from The Huffington Post:

Nature Needs Heroes, a cheeky campaign to promote recycling

By Dian Hasan | September 22, 2010

Timberland, the US brand synonymous with outdoor active lifestyle that celebrates ruggedness, is already closely associated with enjoying nature. Maybe not always in an eco-responsible way, so the New Hampshire-based company came up with an ad campaign that pokes fun at just how far an “eco-lover” would go to save the planet from one more trash item. In this case it’s a empty plastic water bottle. Watch it! It’s both inspiring and humorous. Let’s hope Timberland’s message gets across… and of course you’d want to do all the “water bottle chasing while maneuvering through the treacherous terrain” in Timberland boots and attire!!

Timberland’s new “Nature Needs Heroes” TVC campaign to promote their new Earthkeepers eco-friendly line of footwear.

Inspiration: Timberland’s Earthkeeper Blog

Etsy ~ an online global marketplace and community that connects craft makers and buyers

By Dian Hasan | September 19, 2010

Etsy: a thriving eBay-like aggregator of handmade crafts sold by their makers.

Etsy has a million members who buy from 185,000 artists, 96% of them women. Each day, 4,000 new customers and 400 new artists join (2008 data).

This is a lot more than a movement, it’s a necessary and fundamental shift in the way commerce works.
Rob Kalin, Etsy founder

  1. What inspired you to create Etsy? We want to create new ways to shop that are only possible using the Web as a medium. The industrial revolution and consolidation of corporations are making it hard for independent artisans to distribute their goods. We want to change this.
  2. How long did it take you, from start to finish, to get Etsy off the ground? When did you launch?Rob, Chris, and Haim built Etsy in two and a half months. We launched on June 18 th, 2005.
  3. How did you get funding for the project? We have been funded by a pair of angel investors here in Brooklyn.
  4. How do you sustain the usage costs of Esty? We charge a flat 10 cent listing fee and a 3.5% sales fee.
  5. (more…)

Migrant Women in the Struggle against Poverty

The choice to migrate, to leave loved ones behind, to venture forth into the unknown, represents for millions of impoverished women, a heart-wrenching, first-step towards poverty’s end.

Today, there are over 200 million migrants working abroad. Half are women. Each year, they remit some US $300 billion to developing nations, building homes, feeding families, and educating children.

These migrants and their remittances are a pivotal force in poverty eradication, argues Dr. Sarah Mavrinac, president of aidha, a Singapore based social enterprise.

Inspiration: Qi Global