"My name is Gwendolene Mugodi and I am a writer and the founder of Paivapo Storytellers, a movement that aims to provide better access to local, good quality literature to the children in Zimbabwe--and eventually beyond. Our work would not be complete without the help of local artists like Abel Zvorufura who I met through the National Gallery of Zimbabwe. As two different artists we spent about a month and a half going back and forth on this book until we got to a place we were both happy with. I look forward to sharing that full book in a few months, but for now here's a little bit about Abel and why he does what he does."
Metro Doors Closing
Lauren Behgam ’15 is a Starr Fellow living in Washington D.C. this summer working on the Food Recovery Network.
The D.C. Metro was primary form of transportation this summer and I would use my time on the train to reflect and relax. I would travel between a student incubator called the Startup Shell, D.C. Central Kitchens, and the C.E.T. (Center for Employment Training) at S.O.M.E. (So Others Might Eat) in Anacostia. I also did my best to attend special events like luncheons, press conferences, and speeches in the city that related to my work with FRN.
One particular Tuesday stands out as the most memorable day of the summer. That morning, I taught two computer classes at the the C.E.T. to a group adult students in a self paced job training program. Afterwards, I rode the Metro to Dupont Circle for a roundtable luncheon with some key players in the food waste arena. While my trip between the two neighborhoods was only seven Metro stops, Anacostia and Dupont Circle represent opposite ends of the socioeconomic spectrum in our nation’s capital. Anacostia is one of the poorest neighborhoods in D.C., while Dupont Circle is one of the most affluent.
While I am aware of inequality in our country and I have experienced it in my hometown of Dallas and in Providence, I had never been a part of two different communities in such a short time span all while discussing the same issues of poverty and opportunity. In the morning, I was teaching the C.E.T. students how to research a company before applying for a job. During group discussion, some students brought up experiences in which they felt discriminated against during an interview due to race, class, or their own personal history. At the luncheon, the conversation was based on food waste, but the discussion kept returning to poverty, hunger, and how food waste can be channelled into solving those problems. The participants in the conversation were primarily older executives and the conversation felt privileged and at times belittling to “underdeveloped” countries and communities, as one participant stated.
I was upset on the Metro ride back to the Startup Shell. My day had been jarring, and it was only 2 PM. My mind was reeling over how much more productive my conversations could have been if the C.E.T. students and the luncheon executives would have been if they were in the same room rather than seven metro stops apart. Each stop, the conductor would say some version of “Step back, Metro doors closing,” and the phrase felt so symbolic of the lack of opportunity some people have due to factors out of their control.
Since that Tuesday, I’ve been challenging myself to think about how social entrepreneurs can build bridges between the two different worlds I experienced in D.C. I don’t want to over criticize these relationships to a point of personal paralysis, but I want to figure out how we can create more empathy and more sustainable solutions in which everyone is respected and heard.
August 11, 2016
June 13, 2016
Lauren Maunus '19 is starting a bold new venture.
Its goal: To help eliminate food waste and bring healthy, affordable food to "food swamps" in Rhode Island and beyond.
March 15, 2016"If little girls like me were saying Barbie is the pretty one and the brown one is the ugly one, that's a problem."
Yelitsa Jean-Charles studies Illustration at RISD with a a concentration in Gender, Race & Sexuality. She identifies as a visual activist, and believes that artists have a responsibility as society’s image-makers. Her doll company and book series, Healthy Roots, combats internalized racism and colorism by getting to the root of the problem: altering beauty standards and cultviating self-love for young girls through education, diversity, and positive representation.
March 12, 2016An Excerpt
Mina is a Brown-RISD Social Innovation Fellow. She traveled to her home in Iran last summer and brought back a cultural souvenir: the book she wrote, Taste of Culture. She explores Iranian families, streets, stores and the stories and spirit embedded in the recipes of Iranian food. She hopes to start a conversation about the benefit of knowing cuisines of different cultures to connect societies.
This year's class of Brown-RISD Social Innovation Fellows have just begun their yearlong foray into the world of social entrepenuership. Check out their projects here.
December 16, 2015
Ria is a 2015 Social Innovation Fellow and co-founder of No Country for Women (NCFW), an internationally-recognized gender education initiative that aims to combat systemic gender-based discrimination in India. Ria and her co-founder, Shreena Thakore ’16, who grew up in India, were awarded the Projects for Peace fellowship and used this grant to launch the project in May of 2014. NCFW was set up to educate the people in India on gender, rape culture, and misogyny through a series of workshops and initiate informed discussions about social change.
I was inspired by Ria’s story because she was determined to start a conversation about an issue in a country that fights hard to keep such issues silent and hidden. We reflected on Ria’s experiences, her interactions with young people, most of whom had never thought about this obvious form of discrimination before, and her moments of self-doubt and extreme conviction.
October 2, 2015