"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."
My Long Distance Relationship
Things were just heating up. We were past the awkward, get-to-know-you phase and our relationship was settling into a comfortable and familiar pattern. There were long nights spent bouncing ideas off each other, Sunday morning brunches with Providence advisors, and endless texts. We were moving forward in tangible ways together. I could watch how we interacted and feel the way they responded when I offered a new idea or thought. They called for advice, called to brag, called to cry, and called to chat.
And then, I moved to New York. I’m now 180 miles south, separated by walls of concrete skyscrapers and long stretches of highway. My day job is so busy that I’m lucky to squeeze in a call before I rush off in the morning and a “Google hangout” when I get home (I also check my email inbox obsessively throughout the day).
Who is this lover that I so ache for? It’s A Better World by Design’s planning committee of 17 Brown and RISD students. This relationship certainly didn’t magically appear- it was strategically cultivated from the start. Alex (my co-chair) and I will tell you that we have spent hours on hours brainstorming about the most effective way to run meetings, about subcommittee dynamics, about one committee member’s stress about school, or about what social event we will throw for the committee. It is team with a capital T because we felt so strongly that this was a necessity to plan the conference. The strong bond between our committee members allows for creative brainstorming, healthy and balanced workloads, and unfailing dedication to the common goal.
So now what? I have always felt that my strength as a leader and capability as a project manager is deeply rooted in the personal connections I have forged with my team- how do I maintain this from afar? It has certainly taken a large dosage of “letting go.” I can no longer be aware of each and every project happening, each and every success and failure. Like any long distance relationship, your lives diverge. Your relationship is forced to change.
But unlike most long distance relationships, mine has actually fostered greater trust in my committee members. On my a weekly call with the content team, they lean into the video as we talk through the presenter kit welcome letter or joke with each other about a funny phone conversation they had with a speaker. It is instances like these that prove my team will more than maintain the great team environment we had and maintain the work momentum there was in May. I am now more the parent who cries as their kindergartener runs outside to play without so much as a glance backwards. My team is more than capable and it is only with this distance that I have come to fully recognize that, step back, and appreciate it. But knowing this, I now have to reevaluate where my leadership plays a role. I no longer sit in on meetings with them or pass them on the way to class- giving me 5 minutes to check in. I now have to be more dedicated about the time we have together, more direct about what needs to happen, and more open to projects being completed without my input. I will still miss my “long distance relationship” over the rest of the summer, but the distance will only strengthen our tie.
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