Friday, 24 October 2008

Bruce Almighty

One of our favourite people at the moment is Bruce Parry. Not only have some of us harboured a healthy respect for him since the first series of Tribe, but last week he came to a book-signing session at one of our local bookshops, and since then, admittedly, that respect has become more of an unhealthy obsession.

In Bruce’s latest series, Amazon, he has travelled the length of the largest river in the world, living with shamans, cowboys, loggers, gold prospectors and conservationists.
His aim was to understand the importance of this great eco-system to the people who rely on it for survival, the impact of economic ‘development’ on the land and people, and the significance of their destruction to the rest of the world.

The Amazon is home to many of the world’s most precious commodities, such as gold, oil and timber, and naturally, there are many parties trying to capitalise on this wealth. In episode 5, Bruce and the team spend a few days with the LPA, a research group dedicated to understanding the interaction between the Amazon forest and the regional and global atmospheres. These scientists are trying to re-value the Amazon in a revolutionary way, as a carbon sink, in order to protect it from further destruction.

As awareness of climate change continues to build, we have begun to get used to the idea of trading in carbon. The Amazon rainforest could play a crucial role in the fight against climate change, if only we valued it properly.

Is it possible that we can change the things we do and do not consider valuable? It would require a global shift from coveting material possessions and wealth towards an emphasis on human life, the environment and a collective ambition to create a more sustainable world. According to research groups, that is exactly what is happening. Generation Y, those born between 1978 and 1998, already have a value system completely different from the generations before them. According to a study by workforce consultancy Talentsmoothie, this new generation of graduates ‘place more emphasis on quality of life than money, and are prepared to resign if their jobs are not fulfilling enough, with decent holidays and the opportunity to take long stretches off for charity work or travel’.

It remains to be seen whether this attitude can survive a recession, however, as awareness of global issues grows, surely our sense of global citizenship must grow too, and with that our desire to make a positive difference to the world.

And that is where people like our friend Bruce Parry come in, with the passion and the tools to inspire a generation of people about to make their mark on the business world of tomorrow.
As Bruce puts it, until we put more value on the things we take for granted – the environment, our cultural diversity, each other’s wellbeing – we will continue to destroy them.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Draw on your own creativity

“I will not Reason & Compare; my business is to Create”. William Blake

You often hear people say things like ‘I’m just not very creative’, or ‘I wish I could draw like that’, as though creativity of any kind were something that only a few people possess. Creativity is expressed in so many ways, whether that be through painting, writing, design, or in more everyday ways, like cooking, gardening, decorating or DIY. So what is to stop us from expressing that creativity another way? Usually, fear.

Somehow, when it comes to more ‘serious’ creative work, we feel we somehow need to be ‘qualified’ before we even get started. But the way we learn most of the most important life skills is through trial and error. It is mainly the fear of making mistakes, fear of embarrassing ourselves in public, of being humiliated, or ‘looking stupid’ that stops many of us from seeing ourselves as ‘creative’.

One of the simplest (and cheapest) creative mediums to begin with is drawing. The simple act of drawing is not just fun, it is thought by many to be a crucial part of learning as well as a form of self-expression. Art therapists believe that the creative process of drawing can help us to cope better with stress, work through traumatic experiences, increase cognitive abilities and have better relationships with family and friends. It helps us to develop a better understanding of ourselves and the way we relate to the people around us.

But if the thought of staring at a blank sheet of paper with a pencil in your hand terrifies you, why not pop along to an organised workshop?

From 1st to 31st October 2008, the Campaign for Drawing invites everyone to join in the Big Draw. Over 1000 venue, including; galleries, museums, science centres, heritage and environmental sites, libraries, archives, community and shopping centres, colleges, schools and art clubs, are hosting drawing activities for people of all abilities.

An educational charity, the Campaign sees drawing as a life skill: a vital tool for thinking, inventing and communicating, creativity, social and cultural engagement. The Big Draw proves that drawing is an enjoyable public activity as well as a private passion. It is inspired by the visionary Victorian artist and writer, John Ruskin, whose mission was not to teach people how to draw, but how to see.

So create something. Just sit down, grab a pencil and do whatever you want to do in an unschooled, amateurish way. Admittedly, your first doodles may not seem like much, but don’t give up, and don’t worry about what other people might think. No-one will judge you. While you may not be the next Picasso, you might just discover something about yourself, and at the very least you could clean up next time you play Pictionary.

To learn more about The Big Draw and the Campaign for Drawing, visit

And if you want to feel doubly good about doodling, check out these beautiful FSC certified pencils, profits from which go towards The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, who use art therapy to help the people they work with

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

The Power of Purchasing

On the one hand, we’re told that we should eat food that is locally produced and not air freighted hundreds of miles; on the other we’re under pressure to support producers in far-away developing countries. We’re expected to know the difference between organic and free-range foods, stay abreast of flashpoints (palm oil, blue fin tuna, PVC) and only buy goods with certain eco-labels attached.

Confusing? Definitely.

To us, the best starting point is simply to be informed about what you buy. Get to know what’s inside the product you’re buying; whether it’s organic or not; how it is produced and where; and how it is delivered.

To some extent you have to pick your battles. If your main concern is climate change, then you’ll want to know how far your goods have travelled. If you’re worried about chemicals, then you’ll go for organic and natural. If you hate the thought of producers getting a raw deal you’ll buy Fair-trade. And if you deplore the way that supermarket giants have squeezed supply chains and taken over neighbourhoods then you’ll shop at small, local shops instead. One of the main plus-points of 21st century living is that consumers have a choice – so use it wisely.The same choices apply in business. Most of us are aware of the price-war tactics of the supermarkets and how that is reflected in the cost-cutting methods of suppliers as they desperately try to cling on to their last shred of profit.

Keep that in mind the next time you haggle with a far-east supplier over the latest piece of promotional merchandise you order – what impact does that have on the working conditions at their factory? Who is really paying for that oh-so-relevant plastic snow-shaker? How many chemicals were used in producing that t-shirt? And so on.

Here at Re-Everything, we believe that there is a better way to shop, at home and at work. We also believe that there is a more effective way to engage with your customers than by giving them free mugs and pens. So have a look at the alternative promotional gifts at Re-Sourceful, and if you’re still stuck for ideas, give us a call or pop over for a cup of Fair Trade nettle tea!