Big Issue vendor Jack and wife Toni– who made headlines around the globe with their engagement –married in March in their hometown of Bristol. Inspired by their love story, the local community rallied together to help make their day unforgettable. The couple met in 2013 while Jack was sleeping rough and lent Toni money to pay for electricity. Their engagement made headlines from the BBC, The Guardian and Cosmopolitan, all the way to Australian Women’s Weekly.
“Encounters with people and memories of my parents keep me going,” says Shuzo Goto who sells The Big Issue Japan in Tokyo and was homeless for 20 years. He talks about how a good friend encouraged him to sell the street paper, and what has changed since.
IPS learns how young inventors and entrepreneurs in Kenya are coming up with sustainable and innovative solutions to make everyday tasks -such as cutting grass and cooking - easier and more cost-efficient. An example is Emma Masibo and Lucy Bwire, two students in their early 20's. After their lessons were interrupted by a noisy, combustion engine-powered lawn mower, they designed a solar-powered, light-weight alternative to be used at night. Their product will now be rolled out to schools and hospitals across the country.
Beekeeping and silkworm farming have long been critical cogs of Ethiopian life, providing food, jobs and income. But a new scheme will open the growing sectors up to Ethiopian youth. IPS learns how funding from the MasterCard Foundation is encouraging more young people to launch and grow sustainable their own enterprises in beekeeping and silk farming, and how this will in turn benefit local communities.
Therapy dogs have become the heart, soul and wagging tail of a literacy program being rolled out across U.S. schools and libraries. In the Spanish Harlem area of New York City, fluffy learning assistant Izzy is helping immigrant children overcome the added challenge of mastering English as a second language and learn to read. But this is no shaggy dog story – the project has seen the majority of students reach or surpass their grade level. “I love reading to Izzy because he listens to me and he doesn't make fun of me when I make a mistake," said 9-year-old Vasquez.
A shocking image of a young child tied to a rock on a busy building site in Ahmedabad while her mother works has highlighted the heart-breaking reality for working mothers in India. Fifteen month-old Shivani spends nine hours a day in temperatures topping 40 degrees Celsius attached to a 1.4 meter tape marked "caution". Her mother says she has no other option. Despite the fact that one in five of workers employed India’s booming construction industry are women, onsite crèche facilities are rare. "They don't care about us or our children, they are only concerned with their work,” Shivani’s mother tells Reuters.
Nick Licata is a lifelong political activist and former Seattle councilman, who has long been an avid supporter of low-income people and progressive causes. In his new book, Becoming a Citizen Activist, Licata argues that everyone has the potential to make a difference, and shares success stories, practical tips for winning a campaign and insights into the inner-workings of power and politics. He spoke to Real Change about the power of citizen activism and how we can all influence change.
A new project in Cape Town is bridging the gap between the city and townships, and changing perceptions, by inviting city dwellers into township homes for a meal. The founders of Dine with Khayelitsha believe that inviting strangers to share dinner and discussions about important issues, such as education, with families in the Khayelitsha Township can break down stereotypes about the area. The Big Issue South Africa’s Claire van den Heever joined a trip to Khayelitsha to find out more.
South African entrepreneur Phumlani Dlongwana harnesses the natural activity of earthworms to produce compost and create jobs. His ingenious start-up, Waste To Food, employs a special system to encourage worms to turn waste into compost for sale. Given that around two million tons of food waste are disposed of at Cape Town’s landfill sites each year, his environmentally-friendly enterprise has the potential to be big business. Dlongwana tells The Big Issue South Africa about his hopes to grow to 30 micro-franchises across townships in Cape Town.
To celebrate its anniversary, Montreal street paper L’Itinéraire invited its talented vendors to take charge of the paper for a very special edition. As its name suggests, 100% Vendors is written and designed entirely by vendors. It is the result of three months’ of workshops in which top journalists in Montreal mentored vendors. Editor Josée Panet-Raymond talks to INSP about the project’s future and the importance of getting vendors involved in their street paper.
Canadian street paper Megaphone is to deliver an in-depth investigation into ending homelessness after their crowdfunding campaign to fund the project raised an incredible $10,000 in 36 hours. The paper will use the money to hire a dedicated journalist to produce solutions-based reporting on the homelessness crisis in British Columbia. “This project will create impactful journalism that drives change thanks to the amazing community behind Megaphone,” Operations Manager Jessica Hannon told INSP.
When American illustrator Chris Torres first doodled a cartoon cat with a Pop-Tart body, flying through a starry sky and leaving a rainbow trail, he had no idea it would become a top internet meme and pop-culture sensation. With a YouTube video featuring Torres’ Nyan Cat accumulating over 130million views, the 8-bit kitty is so famous it now has a manager, and has become a full-time gig for Torres. He speaks to The Curbside Chronicle about Nyan Cat’s accession to viral stardom, and how it’s changed his life. “It’s a cat on the internet with rainbows,” he said. “That’s always win-win!”
In 2014, American journalist Bill Keller called time on a 30-year career with the New York Times to start from scratch with The Marshall Project. His non-profit, independent start-up offers unbiased and critical reporting of the U.S. criminal justice system. It has published over 400 stories in partnership with around 60 news organizations, and bagged its first Pulitzer Prize in April. Keller spoke to Spare Change News about holding the criminal justice system to account, the presidential election and the power of journalism to affect real change.
When Wendy Oxenhorn co-founded the world’s first street paper in New York City in 1989, she paved the way for a global movement that now spans 112 street papers in 35 countries. After Street News folded, Oxenhorn continued her quest to help those living in homelessness and poverty. For the past 16 years, she’s been helping blues and jazz musicians in need to connect with housing and healthcare. This year, Oxenhorn became a NEA Jazz Master: America’s highest honour in jazz. She speaks about her incredible journey with Street News, and what came next.
Children of Big Issue South Africa vendors are being treated to weekend music classes in the street paper’s offices in Cape Town, thanks to Guitars for Good. The project has been devised by local musicians and the social enterprise Milkshed. But its founders say the guitar lessons are not just about entertainment. Leroy Glam finds out why getting free guitar lessons for their children is music to Big Issue vendors’ ears.
Andrej makes a living selling Kralji Ulice in Slovenia. Both his name and his street paper proclaim him to be a king, but he says kids mostly think he’s Santa.
In the West Bank, the rights of people with disabilities (which comprise 11 per cent of the population) are being ignored. IPS visits two support centres in Ramallah to discover how education and sport programmes – including wheelchair table tennis – aim to give people with disabilities independence and a sense of acceptance in a society where “people believe that if you are not walking, you are not normal.”
As fuel, firewood remains the dominant source of energy in Uganda. Yet it has a long history of being unsustainably harvested, leading to severe depletion of the country’s forest cover. But new technology harnessing biomass could help the country clean up its act. IPS speaks to scientists and energy advocates who have found ways of generating enough electricity to power homes and even large industrial operations by tapping into abundant local resources.
The security of aid workers operating in high-risk countries is under scrutiny after a court in Oslo found the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) guilty of gross negligence after an employee was abducted by gunmen from a Kenyan refugee camp. The ruling sparked debate over whether aid agencies would become more risk-averse as a result, especially given that 2013 was the worst for aid workers with 460 killed, kidnapped or seriously wounded. Reuters speaks to aid workers and security risk management experts to learn how organisations can design aid programs with security in mind, and teach its workers how to better mitigate risks.
A Canadian dating website has promised to come to the rescue of Americans who can't live with a Donald Trump presidency – pledging to match them with Canadians looking for love. As Trump’s bombastic campaign to lead the Republican Party gathers stream, more and more Americans are vowing to move to Canada if the real estate billionaire is elected. The Maple Match website allows users to add their name to a waitlist matching dismayed U.S. voters with interested single Canadians. It reported 10,000 U.S. singles and about 2,500 Canadians have already signed up.