The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

Interview: Melbourne local, Lachlann Carter — October 25, 2012

Interview: Melbourne local, Lachlann Carter

Deep down in the cozy book-lined dungeons of the Wheeler Centre, Community Ambassador Deb Itzkowic sat down with Lachlann Carter (left) to chat about the imminent launch of 100 Story Building, an inspiring social enterprise that he co-founded with Jenna Williams (right) and Jess Tran (middle).

What is 100 Story Building?

100 Story Building is a social enterprise and centre for young writers. Based in Melbourne’s inner-west, it’s stated mission is to  “provide opportunities for the most marginalised children and young people in our community to build literacy skills, confidence and a sense of belonging – the key to their future success.”

The projects implemented by 100 Story Building connect students with creative professionals from all aspects of the literary world, who undertake to share their passion for storytelling, demystify the creative process and support students to write, create and explore their literary skills.

Of utmost importance to Lachlann, all of 100 Story Building’s projects have authentic outcomes and honour students’ work so that they have an opportunity to see their work being celebrated in a professional space. Lachlann is also proud of other positive side-effects of the literary programs which include building students’ self confidence and engaging their natural creative spirits in an effortless way.

Once upon a time… (Or ‘tell us about the seeds for 100 Story Building’)

Four years ago, Lachlann, a primary school teacher (amongst other talents) who had been working with disadvantaged students in Melbourne’s inner-west primary schools, teamed up with Jenna, who had her feet firmly planted in the publishing world, to pursue a shared vision that combined their love of kids with their love of the literary arts.

Together they followed their pied piper (Dave Eggers) to undertake a three-month internship at 826 Valencia in San Fransisco, an organisation whose mission it is to support students writing skills and help teaches get their students excited about writing.

This was a role model organisation for Lachlann and Jenna’s vision and the best place to soak up the skills and experience required to implement a like-minded organisation in their home town, Melbourne.

On return the pair founded Pigeons Projects, a not-for-profit organisation that delivered creative writing workshops to primary school students. Over the past four years they have been busy nurturing and growing the literary skills of marginalised children in Melbourne’s inner-west.

Fast forward four years later and Pigeons has written itself into a new story called 100 Story Building, where the lead authors include Alice Pung and Michael Pryor who are the Ambassadors of this visionary social enterprise.

Who have been influential in helping get your social enterprise up and running?

Lachlann acknowledged the amazing support 100 Story Building has had along the way from its Board members, philanthropic funding bodies, industry bodies, Melbourne’s literary community as well as the schools and students that they have worked with over the past four years.

One of the main reasons that 100 Story Building has been able to get off the ground was through the support of The Social Traders program called ‘The Crunch’. During the three-month program, Lachlann and Jenna were supported by mentors who helped them develop a feasibility study for their social enterprise. At the end of The Crunch’s program, 100 Story Building participated in a pitch for investment and were rewarded with start-up funding and ongoing mentoring support which ensured that the social enterprise was viable.

Since then 100 Story Building has been awarded philanthropic grants to keep them afloat until a time in the not too distant future that their social enterprise will be self-funding.

Tell us about some of your pilot projects…

Lachlann and his team have recently run a pilot program called ‘In Other Words’ in collaboration with Maribyrnong City Council. Over the course of a term Prep to Year 2, who predominantly came from low socio-economic, non-English speaking homes, were asked to create and tell their parent’s stories. The program was a holistic vision of literacy where parents, teachers and students worked collaboratively and parents were empowered to assist their kids to develop literacy skills.

Each week “storytellers”, including Melbourne literary heavyweight Alice Pung, ran workshops to help the students develop their own story and their own storytelling voice. The program evolved and adapted over time when Bernard Caleo, one of the “storytellers”, introduced the students to ‘Kamishibai’, a Japanese storytelling form involving paper theatre. The students magnetised towards this art form and ultimately their told their stories using words and pictures which were filmed during the workshop. The program improved students’ literary skills by teaching them how to put together a story using a simple character and plot framework and at the same time also developed other skills such as public speaking.

The school community came together at the grand finale film premiere, complete with red carpet and popcorn, which was held in a transformed classroom. (You can check out the students creative genius yourselves at a film screening at Federation Square on Saturday 27 October at 10am as part of the Federation Square 10th birthday celebration.) Lachlann is serious about ensuring that 100 Story Building programs improve literacy and explains that the program is now being independently evaluated for concrete literacy development outcomes and hopes that this successful pilot project will be run again in other schools.

Another successful pilot program was run in collaboration with Harvest Magazine, where students in Year 5 and 6 convened as the editorial committee of “Early Harvest”, a children’s edition of the magazine. Each week the students participated in a workshop facilitated by an industry professional designed to explore the various stages of the publishing process. The students put out a tender for submissions, chose the stories they wanted to include (which included rejecting a number of established adult writers!), edited the articles, designed the layout of the magazine and published it.

How will your social enterprise work?

Lachlann envisages that eventually the literary programs for marginalised students in schools will be funded by a range of writing workshops offered to adults and kids in the general public, using the skills, experience and networks that they have developed. Examples include school holiday workshops for kids, master classes for adults who want to write for children and in collaboration with Hardie Grant Egmont (Hardie Grant’s emerging reader’s publishing arm) the 100 Story Studio will hold workshops where budding writers can present their work and get constructive feedback.

What a fabulous enterprise… how can I get involved?

Currently 100 Story Building is looking for a place to call home in the West Footscray/Flemington area. Once established, the 100 Story Studio will be the hub for the social enterprise’s ongoing programs and workshops. 100 Story Building is currently seeking enthusiastic volunteers passionate about creating it’s literary vision who can help in a range of areas including the fit-out of the studio, administration, marketing and program facilitators. Volunteers wanting to work with kids will understandably undergo a rigorous screening process including completing a working with children check.

100 Story Building will be launched on Tuesday October 30, 7:30pm – 8:15pm at the Wheeler Centre. Find out how the 100 Story Building will support the voices of more than 1000 children and young people in the inner-west of Melbourne, and how you can get involved and help to work towards 100 Story Building’s ‘happily ever after’. RSVP here.

Email: lach@100storybuilding.org.au
Facebook: 100 Story Building
Twitter: @100storyb

Interview: Melbourne local, Nick Allardice — October 11, 2012

Interview: Melbourne local, Nick Allardice

This week, Community Ambassador, Deb Itzkowic interviews Nick Allardice, Australian Director of Change.org

Twitter: @NickAllardice
Website: change.org

My interview with Nick, the Australian Director of Change.org, began by him excitedly telling me about the mornings’ momentus campaign victory. After bravely launching a campaign to end homophobia in the AFL only a few weeks ago, footballer Jason Ball managed to galvanise over 26,000 signatures on his Change.org campaign site and convince the AFL to broadcast “No to homophobia” ads on the stadium big screen at the preliminary final. A resounding success story!

So, what is Change.org?

In the same way as YouTube allows anyone, anywhere to publish video content, Change.org is a platform that allows anyone, anywhere to start campaigns that they care about and push for change. Change.org began as a startup in America, which has begun to expand internationally and the Australian site was launched in August last year.

Since then over 600,000 users have joined the Australian site and thousands of campaigns have been launched. Nick explained that one of the great things about Change.org is that it is versatile in that it can support campaigns that seek to make change on a local, national and international level. Just by searching the site you can see its range and potential, with campaigns launched all over the world about almost every imaginable issue.

Inspire us with some more of Change.org’s success stories…

Nick reels of a number of stories, starting with this one about a local issue. A community of parents launched a campaign to petition the NSW Education Department to stop cutting trees down in their children’s local primary school yard, and were successful in stopping the tree logging after their Change.org campaign reached a few 100 people.

On the international front, Morgan, a 22-year-old Melbourne woman was inspired to launch a campaign to get Lindt and Ferrero to commit to making chocolate without any involvement of child slave labour. Amidst researching where she could buy Easter chocolate bunnies for her younger brother, she found that these two companies were the only ones who had not made the commitment to ensure that their supply chains were child labour free. Morgans’ Change.org campaign went viral, collecting over 110,000 signatures in only 48 hours. A few days later she was negotiating with the COO and Global Head of Supply Change of Lindt and Ferrero and two weeks later, both companies had made commitments to have their supply chains “100% audited” by 2020.

While there are many successful campaigns, just a brief browse on change.org reveals that there are many more that are not. Nick explains that Change.org is not a “magic bullet” and that the successful campaigns are ones were the campaigner is dedicated, determined and believes in their cause and they use Change.org as an effective tool to spread their message.

How does Change.org differ from other online social campaign sites such as GetUp!?

Nick explains that unlike GetUp!, which is an online campaign organisation that has its own agenda set by its members, Change.corg is a platform that anyone with any agenda can use to support their cause. Change.org states that their site is an “enabler not a driver” for social change, a tool that anyone can use to effect social change.

Nick points to the many opposing campaigns that co-exist on Change.org to demonstrate that Change.org is able to support all views. The sites’ underpinning philosophy is to support more active and engaged citizens, to be the “marketplace of ideas that lead to changes that affect society”. However there are some limits to the campaigns that are change.org hosts as Nick explains that campaigns that incite violence or promote hatred are removed from the site. Change.org has inbuilt community moderation, were campaigns can be flagged by users for inappropriate content.

How is Change.org funded?

Change.org allows social organisations, for example Amnesty International to advertise on the site and sponsor petitions. Nick explains that organisations that want to find new members who are passionate about their issues can connect with like-minded people through Change.org.

What does it mean that Change.org is an accredited B-Corporation?

B-Corporation is an American based accreditation body that ultimately a form of recognition that an organisation is a social enterprise, that is a for-profit company whose core purpose is to have a positive impact on the world.

What do you think is the biggest issue that needs to chance in Australia today?

Nick immediately responded that the biggest challenge is disempowered and apathetic people. Change.org is impacting on this not only by providing tools to enable people to do something about the issues that they are passionate about, but seeing the success stories also inspiring them to take action, which then spurs others to believe that change is possible and they can do it too.

WOW! I’m inspired… off to start my first campaign.

Event Review: League of Extraordinary Women Breakfast — October 2, 2012

Event Review: League of Extraordinary Women Breakfast

Last week Community Ambassador Deb Itzkowic attended an inspiring morning at the League of Extraordinary Women‘s Breakfast Series event.

Arriving at Rose Diner in Port Melbourne at the spritely hour of 7.30am, I was greeted by friendly faces and not a bleary eye in site. The 30 professional women who wandered in over the next fifteen minutes were warmly welcomed into the gathering and quickly set about chatting amongst themselves. The participants, half of whom ran their own business came from a diverse range of backgrounds, from financial services, to retail and fashion.

The long breakfast table was beautifully styled and the barista did a great job of making sure that everyone was  welcomed with their favourite morning coffee… which to my delight came with an extra shot of inspiration! Liz Atkinson, the League of Extraordinary Women’s Breakfast Series speaker this morning, did not disappoint. 

As we all tucked into a delicious breakfast of fruit, muffins and mini egg and bacon rolls, Liz spoke enthusiastically about her background growing up in England jumping from job to job and finding her way to now running a business with offices around Australia and NZ and an annual turnover of over $4M. She generously shared some of her biggest challenges and gave advice about what helped her succeed. Her valuable tips included things like; understand your weaknesses, have a mentor to support you, prepare for any fight, take care of yourself and the ‘3 month rule’, that is take a break, whether it be a long weekend or a trip to Bali, every 3 months, to recharge, refresh and come back to your business re-energised.

The League of Extraordinary Women is a great venture that supports women in business, women who acknowledge that they do things differently and who firmly believe that they can have it all. Those who I spoke to whom have been coming for a while speak enthusiastically about the collegiate spirit amongst the participants. This seems to be one of the most valuable aspects of these events, an opportunity to meet like-minded people in a non-confronting space where the conversation and collaboration flows free.

Towards the end of the breakfast, Liz galvanised the troops. I was inspired to join – see you at the next gathering!

Twitter: @TheLeagueAust

Website: www.leagueofextraordinarywomen.com.au

Events: For upcoming event dates, check out The Fetch in your city.

Interview: Melbourne local, Ben Cartland — September 17, 2012

Interview: Melbourne local, Ben Cartland

This interview is by our new Melbourne ambassador Deb Itzkowic aka @debitz.

Name: Ben Cartland
Website: http://www.pbhumancapital.com.au
Twitter: @bencartland

Introducing Ben…

Ben is not your ordinary recruiter. Originally hailing from the UK, he has over 10 years experience working in the ever-growing sector of sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Now based in Melbourne, Ben is working with pb Human Capital in this emerging sector in Australia. Ben’s role is to be across the movers and shakers in the Australian sustainability and CSR sector, to connect the dots and find talented people that can influence change. He explains that what leading companies are looking for today in the area of CSR are environmentally minded strategic thinkers, people who can influence how companies are run from the inside.

So what exactly is ‘sustainability’ and CSR?

CSR and ‘sustainability’ are interchangeable terms that describe a company’s commitment to operate using ethical and sustainable business practices. Ben explains that embracing sustainability provides companies with an opportunity to operate commercially viable businesses and at the same time be responsible global citizens.

Why are companies embracing CSR today?

The drivers for companies embracing sustainability and CSR are threefold. Firstly, there is the obvious compliance ‘stick’, for example the introduction of the carbon trading scheme which legislates standards that companies must meet in an effort to reduce carbon emissions. Secondly, there is the ‘carrot’, being commercial success, for example increased profit due to reduced energy usage or other intangible outcomes such as staff retention or brand awareness. Finally, there is consumer demand for companies to embrace these changes, which in Ben’s experience is not as pressing in Australia as overseas.

What is happening in the Australian sustainability market?

Ben explains that while this sector has been up and running overseas, especially in Europe and America, Australia is just now beginning to catch up.
Although social and environmental risk management has always been on the agenda, leading companies today are embracing corporate social responsibility in a whole new way and incorporating these ideas, such as sustainability, into their core business.

Ben cites Telstra’s digital inclusion program (ensuring that rural and remote communities have access to the internet) as one example of a strategy that assists local communities while at the same time provides Telstra with valuable commercial outcomes (such as brand awareness).

How can I become involved in the CSR sector?

Ben recommends degrees in environmental science and business strategy are a good place to start. An alternative route is to work within the organisation you are already a part of to influence how it operates for example, by recycling office paper and reducing carbon emissions, to giving employees opportunities to contribute to the community, to ensuring that your company implements an ethical supply chain.

Tell us about your commitment to carbon neutral travel…

Ben doesn’t just talk the talk, he also does his bit to reduce carbon emissions by riding the streets of Melbourne to and from work each day. I asked him what is his favourite bike accessory? The resounding answer is: ‘lights – great for vision at night’.

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