Category: empathy

Where presents come from: Santa knows!

Dear followthethings.com shopper

We have been doing some Christmas ‘shopping’ (see definitions 11 and 12 of this glorious verb here) and have some recommendations for you: 3 unmissable Christmas movies and a Christmas list.

If you have one of our shopocalypse bags, please take it to town with you this month, and send us photos of its contents. Its ladybirds are Santa’s little helpers. They know everything about world trade.

Festive feelings

Ian et al.

Our Christmas movies

a) Xmas unwrapped (2014)

Where’s this from? See here.

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Next week: we’re in a shopping centre talking clothes

We’ve been working on one of 12 ‘Grand Challenges’ that the University of Exeter runs each year for first year students. The idea is that academic staff introduce first year students from across the university to the Grand Challenges of the 21st Century, through some hands-on learning and with the help of visiting experts (who students refer to as ‘real people’, in my experience).

Challenges this year include Climate Change, Global Security and Mental Health, and the one that we’re running is on Fashion ethics after the Rana Plaza collapse. 

There are four ways to find out more, to get involved, and to follow us next week:

1) Our blog

All the background information we’ve put together to prepare for this challenge. The Rana Plaza collapse and its ripple effects, and how we’re trying to appreciate and work with these ripples in the space of Exeter’s Guildhall Shopping centre, where we’re be occupying 2 disused shops and its main square for 4 days next week.

Screen Shot 2014-06-01 at 8.36.49 AM

Click image for blog

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This Valentine’s Day, let’s show some love to everyone in its supply chains

Buying gifts to give to loved ones presents unique dilemmas to those who are concerned about who made them, under what conditions. Can you express your love for another person by buying them conflict jewelry, or child labour chocolate? And what are the alternatives?


Teaching and learning resources

If you’re looking for resources to help creatively discuss the controversial issues in Valentine’s Day supply chains, here’s a selection.

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If your Geography Homework is on Nike…

It’s happening right now.

At least one class of Year 8 students at an Exeter high school are doing some Nike homework this weekend.

Natalie Batten, one of the newly qualified Geography teachers who has been using followthethings.com with her students as part of our #followtheteachers project, has already blogged about an assignment like this. Click this button to read about  her experience and advice.

ftt Natalie button

If you’re interested in what it life and work can be like for the people who make sports clothing, we have some other recommendations that aren’t on our sire. The first film is on Nike and could be a vivid and useful source. But other students in other schools may have been given Adidas to research. We have a couple of films for you too, if that’s what you’ve been asked to research. And, at the end, we bring things right up to date: with a way to compare these two companies / brands.

Nike: behind the Swoosh

A student at the US’s largest Catholic University feels disgusted with what he reads about Nike and ‘sweatshops’ and, when he refuses to wear his University’s Nike soccer kit, he’s fired. So he sets off to Indonesia with a friend to find out if the factory and living conditions he’s read about are as he imagines. People at University keep telling him that things are fine. What he sees, what he does, and the people he meets in Indonesia have a powerful effect on them and what they decide to do next.

Pester Power

If you’re studying Geography and your homework is about Adidas, you should find this next film interesting. It’s a 2001 episode of the Mark Thomas Comedy Product TV series that involves a class of Geography students in London finding out – with the comedian/activist’s help – about the company’s labour practices in a unique, face-to-face way, in their classroom. Fast forward to 6 minutes 13 seconds. That’s where it starts.

Not OK here, not OK anywhere

This short video was produced by the charity War on Want as part of its campaign to highlight the abuse of workers making Adidas sportswear for fans and athletes attending the 2012 Olympic Games in London. It was part of a wider campaign whose webpages are listed here.

Commitments to workers: 2013 update

If you have been studying the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh in April this year, you may find it interesting to see which company has and which has not signed the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. There’s a story about one signing and the other not signing in this newspaper story. But check the latest list that’s published here. The situation may possibly change…

“You carry the stories of the people who make your clothes”

Because of our involvement in the commemoration of the Rana Plaza factory collapse through ‘Fashion Revolution Day’ (and its ‘Who made your clothes?’ theme), and the University of Exeter’s ‘What (not) to wear?’ ethical fashion Grand Challenge, we’ve been collecting films and other resources designed to engage consumers with the hidden social relations in their clothes, the lives in their things.

This short film, just published on YouTube, and it’s ‘behind the scenes’ sequel are fascinating, we think.

‘Handprint’: the film.

Behind the scenes: the making of ‘Handprint’.

Foxconn factory work: 2 perspectives

In response to a student query today about the pride that factory workers can have in making consumer goods for others, I recommended that the two short films below were watched one after the other.

Both are about the notorious manufacturer of Apple and other electronic goods: Foxconn.

Dreamwork China

This is an extract from a documentary film in which young factory workers are interviewed in a photo studio across the road from the factory.

iProtest

This is an episode of from the Al Jazeera TV series Activate, about the investigation into worker rights, health and safety in Foxconn factories by Hong Kong based NGO Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour.

‘What (not) to wear’ event: an introduction

Whatnot conference slide

Click for the facebook event page

Date: 11 November 2013, 4-6pm

Venue: University of Exeter, Streatham Campus, Streatham Court, Lecture Room C.

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Our sponsor

A taster event for 1st year students: click for details

A taster event for 1st year University of Exeter students: click for details

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Setting the scene: journalism, activism & ‘Primark on the rack’

Primark on the rack Lego comic

Click for the flickr set with explanations

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Our audience: curious & expert students 

Screen Shot 2013-11-10 at 12.28.08 PM

Click to read more about this module

A draft followthethings.com page published last week: click to read

A draft followthethings.com page published last week: click to read

A draft followthethings.com page, published last week: click to read

A draft followthethings.com page, published last week: click to read

Cards 31-35

New student work: e.g. Ethical Trade Trumps game

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Our hashtag

Ask questions using this. They'll appear here. Click!

Tweet photos of your ‘Made in…’ labels & ask questions with this.

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Our speakers

James Christie-Miller

Click for our Grand Challenge Events page

Click for our Grand Challenge Events page

& Carry Somers

Click here for our Grand Challenge events page

Click here for our Grand Challenge events page

What if Easter bunnies knew the truth about chocolate?

Animation and humour can play powerful roles in trade justice campaigning. Perhaps the most well known example is the peanut who criticises the regulation of world trade in The Luckiest Nut in the World.  See our page on that film here.

One recent example of this genre was launched In March 2013 in Switzerland. To make public the findings of their report on the sourcing of raw materials by Swiss chocolate manufacturers, Swiss NGO the Berne Declaration (aka Erklärung von Bern) commissioned animators / filmmakers Kompost to imagine what Chocolate Bunnies would do if they knew more about themselves. As Kompost state:

Easter in Switzerland is a busy time for the chocolate industry. Billions of delicious chocolate bunnies are produced by the grand masters of chocolate. Unfortunately, still many Swiss chocolate companies and retailers are producing their chocolate under exploitative conditions; a third even refuse to make a statement to this issue. EvB, a Swiss NGO responsible for fairer globalization, tries to put an end to this with the help of these ads.

The two commercials Kompost designed, directed and animated, show the EvB-chocolate bunny trying to take his life, as he simply cannot live knowing these shocking facts. With the help of a hair dryer and a hotplate, the chocolate bunny tries to melt his sorrows away. His attempts however fail, and he is left with the bitter reality.

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February 14th: the revolution is love

This is a film trailer we come back to again and again at followthethings.com. It’s particularly appropriate to watch on February 14th, although every day is – of course – International Flower Workers Day.

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Love is the felt experience of connection to another person.

Today, we live in a money economy, where we don’t really depend on the gifts of anybody but we buy everything. Therefore we don’t need anybody. Because whoever grew my food or made my clothes or built my house, well, if they died or if I alienated them or they don’t like me, that’s OK. I can just pay somebody else do do it. It’s really hard to create community if the underlying knowledge is ‘we don’t need each other’.

So people get together and act nice, or maybe they consume together. But joint consumption doesn’t create intimacy. Only joint creativity and gifts create intimacy.

On a day devoted to people expressing their love for other people through exchanging things, this film’s take on these relations is the hand in our glove.

St Valentine’s Day: love, following, things.

We are going to love this week at followthethings.com HQ.

We’ve redesigned our website’s header for the season. Here it is:

ftt valentine's day header

 

 

 

 

[click the Cherubs’ banner, and you will get to this page]

We’re adding Finland’s favourite chocolate to our site, a new page created by University of Helsinki MPhil student Eeva Kemppainen. She’s working with us in Exeter this Spring. She is creating our first pages to be simultaneously published in English and Finnish.

We’re re-creating a scene from this new page in Lego, to add to our ‘Made in Lego…’ flickr set.

We’ve started to tweet Valentine’s Day issues, stories and activism. Like this:

On Thursday, all of our efforts will come together in a public Lecture at the University of Exeter. It’s ‘The St Valentine’s Day public lecture: love, following, things.” Here’s the opening slide:

lecture poster

Here’s the description on its facebook event page:

Come take part in a public lecture and discussion that puts chocolate, renowned for its romancing qualities, under the spotlight this Valentine’s Day. Ian Cook (Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Exeter) will be using Finnish chocolate (following them through the world economy as physical goods) as a case study in a broader discussion of trade justice and emphatic socio-economic relations. The discussion will also cover the ways in which this approach to understanding the exchange of material goods can be taught and learned in universities, engaging students in the issue of trade justice activism in critical, creative and enthusiastic ways. The event will take place in the Peter Chalk Centre, lecture theatre Newman C. It will take place at 2pm on Thursday 14th February.

Everyone is welcome.