Reflections on the Changemaker Exchange 2016 A photo essay from new orleans, louisiana
Another clear example of Changemaker is the Student Union led volunteering project NU Brew. This was started by a group of students who wanted to create their only locally produced and sourced beer and convert it into an ethical piece of social enterprise. It has evolved from a group of students wanting to have fun with a passion of craft beer, into a piece of social enterprise. With ‘Legless Llama’, the beer created by NU Brew being stocked at all SU bars.
Within the local community there are numerous opportunities for students to get involved with Changemaker activities. For example, our Stallion Sport Teams can teach and coach their transferable skills at grass root level within Northamptonshire. It will give the opportunity for young people from low income homes to get involved with sports and activities that have always be unavailable to them.
The conference differed from European events in many ways. Each day began – for those who wished (which wasn’t me)– with 8am yoga and meditation; and ‘Awesome!’ was the adjective of choice for most presenters.
Conference Friday opened with a series of Changemakers sharing their projects, including ‘Anabel’s Grocery’ which reduces food poverty for students at Cornell University. The striking element about these Changemaker projects was their simplicity, yet they were all shortlisted for the 2016 Cordes – Ashoka U Innovation Award. Later that day I attended a European lunch where it was good to meet colleagues from AshokaU campuses in the UK, Poland and Italy and hear about their work as well as sharing our own. Plans were made to develop closer links by finding ways to work together in future.
On Friday afternoon, my colleague Dr David Preece and I sat on a panel for the session ‘K-12 Changemaker Education Partnerships’ at which we presented our research on the University of Northampton Changemaker Student Awards, developed by Jane Badger-Jones and the University of Northampton UCEE team. This session brought together NGOs, teachers, school leaders, higher education colleagues and students, as well as our own SoE Deputy Dean Peter Wells to consider how collaborative relationships between schools, universities and NGOs can transform lives. The measurement of Changemaker values and activity was high on the agenda for the whole 2016 Ashoka U Exchange and our research report highlighted challenges inherent in this aspiration, so stimulated discussion. We shall be writing up the work for a peer-reviewed journal.
The final day of the conference gave us an opportunity to visit Tulane University and it was a novel experience to be driven to the campus in US school buses. We sat in the University’s McAlister Auditorium to hear five excellent keynotes who are all leaders in their own Changemaker organisations. Among these, Michael Sorrell told us how Paul Quinn College dug up its football pitch so the students could grow their own food, Vishnu Swaminathan urged us all to make small, simple changes and Laura White told us of ways that her kindergarten children are Changemakers every day. Common to each of the Saturday keynotes was the empowering message that everyone can start now to bring about change for good
I thought I was going to be writing diligently every evening throughout the AshokaU Social Innovation Exchange. Each evening I would sit down and explain my thoughts about the meetings, the workshops and the people I have met. I didn’t. Instead, I was at dinners, speaking to contacts and also overwhelmed by the detail of the conference that my brain just couldn’t keep up. So now is the time to make amends.