Mind-Changers

The Sunrise Swimmers by Tao Farren-Hefer

 

As we close off 2016 it’s safe to assume that everyone is in heavy need of some GOOD NEWS. This should do it: a list of 15 stories from the year on Casimir of people who are taking steps, big and small, global and community-based, toward something better. The world’s problems often seem bigger that its solutions. If only for today, let’s look at things from another perspective.

 

1. The Sunrise Swimmers Are Inspiring Us To LIVE.

“I discovered that they were a dynamic group of incredibly positive people who, in their retirement, are now rediscovering their youth and happiness through the sea. Incredibly, regardless of the weather, they do not miss a day. They are known to swim in rain, hail and the Cape’s gale-force South Easter, only skipping a day when their lives are endangered by lightning storms.”

Tao Farren-Hefer 

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2. Regina Kgatle Is Building Arcade Games To Teach Kids About Concepts Like Consent.

Featured image by Jamie Dimitra Ashton
Image by Jamie Dimitra Ashton

“Almost all these kids are stressed in some way: they‚Äôre surrounded by alcohol abuse, drug addiction. I feel like games are more than just a medium for entertainment. They can be used for therapy, for exercise, psychologically they can be used as a relief from certain spaces.”

– Regina Kgatle

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3. Glacier Girl Is Bringing Environmental Activism To The Tumblr Generation.

Elizabeth Farrell

“We started engineering our environment so that we could be as little dependent on it as possible, of course this is all an illusion. You cannot go outside the boundaries of nature.”

– Elizabeth Farrell

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4. African Cityzens Are Advocating For Easier Travel Between African Countries.

dar-es-salaam African Cityzens

“As African Cityzens, our main objective is to push the discussion on the AU passport¬†that will allow African citizens of good will to travel easily across the continent¬†without constant hindrance from bureaucratic immigration¬†regulations.¬†Secondly, African Cityzens is making images meant to influence the role of AU to its¬†people. It is essential for the AU to work hand in hand with African governments or the¬†private sector to map a proper transport network that will favour cross-border¬†movement via road and rail. Imagine AU buses or trains criss-crossing the continent¬†from city to city? That is the idea. A system which works for its people.”

– African Cityzens

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5. Modelling Agency My Friend Ned Is Breaking The Mould With A New Non-Binary Division.

Kent Andreasen

I think everyone should be investigating and questioning the social norms we take for granted. I want us to explore their history, their constructed-ness, their colonialism. The gender binary is a heavily colonial system; that was imposed across the world, and has come to be held up as natural. It isn‚Äôt natural, it‚Äôs man-made. I think the more people are able to see and understand that, the easier things will become for people who don‚Äôt fit that mould. And I think this is the case for all oppressive social systems ‚Äì white supremacy, heteronormativity, the gender binary, classism, ableism, etc. I think we need to explore all these things as intersectionally as possible.”

– Kirsten Whitfield

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6. Matthias Hollwich Is Designing A Better Way To Age.

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“We are age segregating. Putting just old people into one building (that might¬†be a nursing home, retirement community, or assisted living facility) is the¬†wrong thing to do. This is based on efficiency of services but not on the needs of¬†older people. Cross generational contact is key for healthy ageing. So we have to¬†change that.”

– Matthias Hollwich

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7. Annabel Gat and Jessica Lanyadoo Are Changing Outdated Stereotypes In Texts About Astrology To Be More Inclusive.

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“I work full-time with clients from all over the world, and my values as a feminist allow me to read charts without outdated assumptions around gender or sexuality. Some men need an emotional connection to have good sex, and some women can hit it and quit it, and that 411 is in the birth chart! I‚Äôve lectured extensively, including speaking at both of the Queer Astrology Conferences in San Francisco, and have found that my feminist lens has allowed me to speak more authentically to the felt experience that people have and not just their ideas about themselves.”

– Jessica Lanyadoo

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8. Bruno Pieters Is Making Fashion Transparent.

Bruno Pieters

“I‚Äôve learned that to be successful in fashion you should indeed follow certain rules, but if you want to make history you need to break them. This industry must evolve. And it makes me very happy to see more and more customers becoming aware of the power they have to make that happen. Because what I do is not the solution it is an offering. Ultimately it is the customer who will decide how they want their future to look.”

– Bruno Pieters

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9. Nonny De La Pēna Is Using VR To Make People Care About Each Other.

Tyla Mason

“Immersive journalism is about putting the audience, the viewer, literally on scene. VR creates a sense of presence; your mind tricks your body into feeling like you‚Äôre actually somewhere else, and that presence brings with it a powerful empathy. Your emotional response to what you see and hear is very strong, because you feel as though you‚Äôre right there while it‚Äôs happening.”

РNonny De La Pēna

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10. Seetal Solanki Researches Exciting Alternatives To Unsustainable Materials.

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“The humble portobello mushroom usually great on a burger is now being transformed into a future energy source which could power our smartphones to our cars. The current industry standard uses lithium-ion batteries which consist of a synthetic graphite, which comes at a high cost of manufacturing because it requires tedious purification and preparation processes that are also harmful to the environment. However, researchers from the University of California have recently discovered that the portobello mushroom could be the biodegradable answer to our increasing demand for electric vehicles and products in the future.”

– Seetal Solanki

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11. Dr Sylvia Earle Is Not Giving Up On The Ocean.

Mission Blue

“We need to convey a sense of urgency because the world is changing quickly. The next ten years is likely to be the most important time in the next 10,000 years. We have options that we are going to lose within ten years unless we take action now. Every day, options close. Take care of the ocean as if your life depends on it, because it does.”

– Dr Sylvia Earle

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12. The Apocalypse Pantry Is Foraging For The Future. 

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“Institutionalised education and science have dictated what is healthy, what is good, what is to be mocked. In the apocalypse we have to figure that shit out for ourselves and the most exciting thing is finding new knowledge and new solutions with the same things that have always been around us.”

– Zayaan Khan

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13. Natsai Audrey Chieza Is Growing Bacteria To Create Printed Fabrics Without Using Dye.

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“We are now at a point because of climate change where we have to figure out new ways of making and consuming that negate the use of fossil fuels.¬†My research is driven by creating fundamentally new ways of finishing textiles. The fashion industry is the second most polluting in the world after fossil fuels, with the most intensive damage happening at the dye and finishing stage. I‚Äôve developed a craft-based biologically-driven technological process that enables us to work with pigment-producing microbes to naturally dye fabrics without the use of any chemicals.”

– Natsai Audrey Chieza

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14. Zina Saro-Wiwa Is Changing Perceptions Of The Niger Delta Through Food And Art.

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“I think the story of petroleum and its extraction has buried the hundreds of other stories there are to tell about the region. Our pre-colonial heritage, our visual culture, our culinary heritage, our cosmologies. I hope that I have found an air hole. A place to breathe. Where we can start to rediscover who we are without oil.”

– Zina Saro-Wiwa

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15. Taxi Fabric Is Giving Young Indian Designers A Very Public Platform.

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“Taxis are an integral part of Indian street culture ‚Äì with a metropolis population of 21 million and roughly 55 thousand taxis on the roads, they¬†are the most convenient form of transport around the city.¬†Taxi Fabric aims to shift and boost the perception of design in India as it¬†is barely recognised and ill-understood, particularly amongst older generations. Regarded as a profession not to pursue, the lack of resources, opportunities, and support perpetuates this further. The project aims to reshape this opinion with its functional, socially responsible design.”

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