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Posts Tagged ‘internet’

Coalition of the willing

Monday, July 5th, 2010

Coalition of The Willing is a film that discusses how we can use new internet technologies to leverage the powers of activists, experts, and ordinary citizens in collaborative ventures to combat climate change

For more information about the who, the how and the why, check out the Coalition of the Willing website.

350.org - An International Day of Climate Action

Friday, July 24th, 2009

24 October - An International Day of Climate Action

link here:

350header

350 Animation

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

Because the world needs to know….

Avaaz

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

avaazlogo_en

www.avaaz.org

What do they do?

Avaaz.org is a community of global citizens who take action on the major issues facing the world today. The aim of Avaaz.org is to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people shape global decisions. Avaaz.org members act for a more just and peaceful world and a globalisation with a human face.

How can I get involved?

Sign up! – Avaaz’s online community has grown to over 3.2 million members in just over one year. It represents people from all nations, backgrounds, and ages. The core of their model of organizing is their email list, operated in 13 languages. By signing up to receive their alerts, you are rapidly alerted to urgent global issues and opportunities to achieve change. Avaaz members respond by rapidly combining the small amounts of time or money they can give into a powerful collective force. In just hours they can send hundreds of thousands of messages to political leaders telling them to save a crucial summit on climate change , hold hundreds of rallies across the world calling for action to prevent a genocide, or donate hundreds of thousands of euros, dollars and yen to support nonviolent protest in Burma.

My Space: Your Space?

Friday, July 20th, 2007

Jayran Mansouri

We are often unwilling to admit that racism exists in our communities. We like to believe that in New Zealand we are open, caring and accepting. However, we just have to look beneath the surface to realise that racism is much more prevalent than we think- it may not always be obvious, but it is racism nonetheless.

White OnlyThe term racism’ is often misunderstood. When you think about racism’, you might think about African slaves working in the cotton fields of southern America or Apartheid in South Africa. It seems so distant and you think, none of that happens in New Zealand, it doesn’t have anything to do with me’. But in order to challenge racism we have to admit it is happening in New Zealand.

Why is there racism?
If we are to combat racism, we need to know why it is happening in the first place.

I see racial stereotypes as both a cause and a manifestation of racism. Stereotypes narrow our perceptions of those who are not exactly like us. Unfortunately, our brains are wired to stereotype. It is all down to human nature — we have an in-built natural instinct to classify, categorise, criticise and evaluate the unfamiliar. Most people, when faced with a culture that is unfamiliar, will want to classify, compare and contrast it with their own culture. Such a train of thought leads to an us’ and them’ mentality, which in turn can lead to fear of difference, or a sense of competition.

Imagine for a moment a New Zealand in which everyone is identical. Everyone looks the same, has the same thoughts, the same ideals, likes the same foods, the same movies, the same music, has the same personality and follows the same religion. This of course sounds like a sci-fi book; luckily, in the real world it isn’t like that — everyone is different. But do we celebrate each person’s unique identity or do we group up into cliques and fight?

Multiculturalism
DiversityNew Zealand society is made of many different ethnicities and cultures so could be described as multicultural’. Dictionary.com offers this definition of multicultural’: Of, pertaining to, or representing several different cultures or cultural elements: a multicultural society. I see a positive multicultural society as one that actively supports different cultures and ethnic groups, and all can have their voices freely heard.

Before I started this article, I thought that multiculturalism was just the presence of many different ethnic groups. I never really thought about how well they were treated and represented. It is all very well and good to live in a society in which many cultures are visible, but I believe we must make a conscious effort to provide opportunities for ALL voices to be heard and respected. Multiculturalism has many benefits, but also brings new challenges and responsibilities.

What does all this mean for young people?
In an increasingly multicultural and globalised world, racism will be an especially important issue for our generation to tackle. We need a vision of how we want the future to be when it is our turn to lead society. We need to be informed — there will come a time when we are leading the world and setting the examples for the future generation.

MouseThe Internet has made our world much “smaller”. On the Internet, we can connect with people on the other side of the world at the click of a mouse. Future technology is likely to bring our world even closer together. Through technology, we have an opportunity to become a more open-minded and worldly society, but it is up to us to take that opportunity.

When will it end?
Personally, I am not one of the there will always be racism’ people. It’s easy to say why bother? It’s too big a problem.’ And I agree racism is a big problem, but with the right attitude, we can and should take steps towards an open and accepting society, where people are treated equally and difference is celebrated.

TAKE ACTION!

  • Join or start a cultural group in your community or school
  • Hold an “International Day” at your school— get different cultural groups to do a presentation or performance and sell traditional food
  • Learn about New Zealand history and the Treaty of Waitangi

LEARN MORE

The New Zealand Human Rights Commission website

Information about the Treaty of Waitangi
www.waitangi-tribunal.govt.nz/treaty
www.treatyofwaitangi.govt.nz

Statistics NZ features statistics and information about the 2006 Census

A version of this article was originally published in JET Magazine.

Global citizenship in a virtual world

Friday, July 20th, 2007

Nicole Mathewson

Global citizenship is a tough thing to define, but for many young people it’s simply about embracing those around us, regardless of who they are or where they are from. And with modern technology, embracing people from around the world is not such a hard thing to achieve. Through the rise of social networking websites and the emergence of the “citizen journalism”, notions of global participation are being dramatically redefined.

ComputerThe internet has revolutionised the way in which we communicate and share information. At the click of a button we are able to connect with millions of people around the world. Social networking websites like Myspace.com and Bebo.com are especially popular with young people. There are no limits around who you can communicate with — no limits in number (have as many “friends” as you want), no limits due to language (free translation sites are readily available) and no limits in geography (the whole world is figuratively at your fingertips).

However, this new technological age isn’t just about socialising; it’s creating an opportunity for a global citizenship — one we feel we can actually engage in directly. Traditionally, young people have not been keen followers of news and current affairs (arguably awareness of global citizenship.)

BlogThe internet provides alternative sources of news and alternative ways of consuming it. It offers the best of the traditional mediums — audio, video and text — while being regularly updated and available to view at any time. There is also the opportunity for young people to become “citizen” journalists. Through things like blogs, discussion boards and personal websites all of us have the chance to share news, information and our own views on the world. While we have the chance to share our voice with the rest of the world, we’re also being exposed to voices from other people and other cultures, creating a generation with more global awareness than those that came before.

My Space Darfur Action GroupEven the social networking sites are being used for more than just socialising. The Darfur Action Network (based in the USA, but with international members) on Myspace aims to create awareness of the situation in Darfur, Sudan, and teaches members how to become active campaigners. No More Excuses on Bebo.com includes a photo petition to the New Zealand government about their international aid commitment. These groups (and hundreds of others) have their own websites, but most of the real networking and awareness work happens through these social networking sites.

The sites are accessible, free to use, incorporate a variety of activities (photos, video, audio, messaging, and blogging, just to name a few!) and are a key tool we can use to exercise our global citizenship. And they’re changing the way we organise campaigns - online’ communities replace neighbourhood meetings, emails replace newsletters and online petitions replace street stalls. This technology is quick, cheap and simple has the potential to mobilise thousands around the globe to act, in an instant.

Rotating EarthTechnology is shrinking distances and limitations, allowing the feeling that we are all connected to grow. The internet is helping young people in Aoteaora New Zealand feel like we can be part of something much larger than the small groups we are used to (school, sports teams etc). Young people are becoming increasing aware of the role we can play in creating change at a global level. We are not just citizens of our home town; we are citizens of the world.


This article was originally published in EXPAND Magazine.

Do try some alternative pie

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

Hannah Newport
doorway to freedom shopIn this age of information (or is it the year of the Rabbit? I forget which) we are inundated with junk. A vast sea of messages and sub-messages. Contrary to Rupert Murdoch’s vision though, our media is not completely conformist. Popping up in the most unexpected places all around the world are little hubs of activism, where a voice outside the mainstream can be found. Mexico, Scotland, Germany, New Zealand… a great many regions of our lovely planet are home to what some like to call these “infoshops”.

So, you’re in New Zealand’s fine city of Wellington, wandering along Cuba. Past the bucket fountain, past the pile of what you really hope is a wet fake-fur hat (shudder), and past the funny man on the corner with his fiddle. Ahead looms a fork in the mall. Well, more of a barely-noticed alley off the side, really. Go on - take the path less travelled!

So, you turned off the beaten track. Welcome to the Left Bank; home to Wellington’s cheapest satay, several small Asian clothes outlets and Oblong, a volunteer-run activist Internet café. Wander yourself on inside, and you might be in for a pleasant surprise. The ever-metamorphing Freedom Shop currently calls Oblong home, and does so with an exciting array of alternative media.

The Freedom Shop started out as a tiny punk-orientated anarchist bookshop on the upper end of Cuba St. It was run by a small collective of a few dedicated souls. Not too much has changed since then really but, with two new locations , some say the atmosphere has become welcoming to a wider audience. The shop has expanded in stock and collective size, however the central ideals remain the same.

A recently re-written Kaupapa of the Freedom Shop emphasises the aim to spread radical information and support DIY anarchist culture, and says “We are fighting for a world free of oppression and coercion. We believe in acting in a manner consistent with our ideals. Therefore, the collective and the shop must be free of domination and discrimination, including but not limited to racism, sexism, homophobia, physical violence and harassment of any kind.
freedom shop inside
The shop is unashamedly an anarchist infocentre, and certainly has an outstanding collection of anarchist literature, but some would also say that it’s about so much more than that: seek and you will find a book on veganism, organic gardening, anti-consumer culture, animal rights, anti-racism, parenting, sexuality, fair trade indigenous rights, feminism, anti-war, how to create your own zine…

Really what the Freedom Shop is, more than anything else, is choice. It’s a place to find information that you wouldn’t find in mainstream outlets.

With the lease for the space coming up for renewal in January 2007, the shape and flavour of the shop in 2007 and beyond lies in question, but there is no doubt that it’s not about to disappear into the stratosphere. Collective members of both The Freedom Shop and Oblong are always plotting and scheming. Plans are brewing to bring something brighter, shinier and more revolutionary than ever to the people of Wellington! And Wellington is not alone in this exciting wave of uber-awesome infoshops. Revolutionary folk in Auckland have been running Cherry Bomb Comics, to provide a place for people to stories and ideas which step outside the status quo, particularly feminist media. Dunedin too joined the bandwagon in 2003, when Black Star Books was born, as an anarchist bookshop and infocentre.

The phenomenon is worldwide. With the help of a little website, some more brief web searching and even old fashioned talking to people, it soon became apparent that countless countries play host to sparkling alternatives like the Freedom Shop. Melbourne, for example, is home to Barricade Books, Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse is resident in Baltimore, while Infoshop Assata can be found in The Netherlands. In Mexico, the San Christo Bal. And so on. Whether you’re in Argentina or Birmingham, the idea infoshops that represent is one of solidarity: Don’t hate the media, become the media! We don’t have to mindlessly swallow the “news” without challenging its inherent bias. Like, why is that soldier called a patriotic hero, and that one a barbaric terrorist? And why are they really killing each other in the first place?
leaflets in freedom shop
Everywhere, people are becoming aware of how mainstream bias subconsciously conditions our perceptions. Sure, every source of information has its bias (spoken like a true post-modernist!). But only with a range of information can we really hope to escape a pre-fabricated opinion. Places like the Freedom Shop offer an alternative, to counter-balance the often patronising, and rarely challenging lullaby that is our western media.

LEARN MORE

TAKE ACTION!

  • Visit The Freedom Shop and Oblong:
    Shop 204B, Left Bank, Cuba Mall
    Wellington
    Ph (04) 3847980
  • Visit Cherry Bomb Comics:
    41 New North Road, Eden Terrace, Auckland
    Phone: (09) 374-4504
  • Visit Black Star Books
    24 Stafford St, Dunedin
  • Make your own zine or pamphlet
  • Challenge your local or national newspaper to print a story about an issue you care about

Petitions

Wednesday, February 15th, 2006

Daniel Dearnley

Petitions writing
Petitions have been a tool for change for a very long time. This article looks at the basics of petitions: What are they? How to write them, effective ways to use them, and the rules of petitioning. This article also looks at how the internet can be used for petitioning.

What is a petition?
A petition is, in basic terms, similar to a complaint letter. It is a document containing a statement of views/concerns/grievances/etc. about an issue. It is addressed to a target person or organisation. The key difference is that petitions are signed by multiple people, rather than just the writer. More signatures, of course, means more impact and more chance for change.

How to write one
For a simple step by step guide:

  • 1) Decide what the aim of the petition is — what do you want changed and how?
  • 2) Decide who to petition — who is able to cause the changes you want and are they likely to respond? Or do you want to generally express views and raise awareness?
  • 3) Write it — tips on this later.
  • 4) Collect signatures — this can be either physically signing a piece of paper, hosting an online petition on a website for people to sign’ (often with email addresses etc), or providing documents or text that individuals can sign and then post or email. (See the take action guides on awareness campaigns for ideas on how to promote.)
  • 5) Send it.

Here are some tips for writing effective petitions
Have a clear statement about your concerns and specific demands — PR people love vague and waffling language. If you have an unclear demand it is too easy for the petition target to simply make it seem like they’re moving in the right direction, while not doing anything significant.

  • Be polite (but firm). Being disrespectful or rude is unlikely to get people on your side. If you’re seen as extremist some people will be unlikely to listen to you or support the petition.
  • Make concise statements based on fact. If possible reference what you say. Concise, clear, intelligent, factual statements often have more impact than an extended rant.
  • The demands should be practical — otherwise they will likely get ignored.

Who to petition
This depends on what you hope to achieve with the petition. If the petition wants to create specific change then it probably needs to be sent to a person/organization with the ability to cause the change, and one that is likely to listen.

Common targets for petitions are:

  • Governments — Governments often have a lot of power and influence so they can be well worth petitioning. Democratic governments are answerable directly to public opinion, so they do have to respond to petitions in some way.

However, there is a very complex formal process to submit a petition to a government, which must be followed to validate the petition. This varies depending on which government is being petitioned.

To look at the process required for the NZ government go to their website and follow the petitioning the house of representatives’ link.

Petitioning individual politicians can also be effective and there are less strict rules. Sometimes it can also be effective to petition city councils.

  • Companies — Sometimes people petition companies/corporations asking them to change business practices, etc. This can be effective as companies often have a lot of influence on issues (e.g. McDonalds would have an ability to fight childhood obesity if it wanted to).

The trouble with petitioning companies is that their bottom line is profits, not popularity. Unless a company feels that loss of image will lead to loss of business, all that petitioning is likely to achieve is a nicely worded explanation by the companies PR staff.

Petitioning can be effective as companies generally consider public image important (think of all the money spent on advertising). If a petition to a company hints at a possible boycott, etc. it is likely to be more effective.

  • Individuals - In some (rarer) cases, individuals or non-corporate organizations can be petitioned. As with petitioning companies, petitions will probably be more effective if the target is given good reason to care about what you think.

Online petitions
The Internet has brought about a new trend of online petitions — a petition can be hosted as a website (googling online petition’ will likely bring up a million hosting sites), where people can sign it by entering email addresses (or other details) into an online form. Or people can be asked to sign and send a copy of an email individually to the target.

  • These can be very convenient ways to collect signatures, however there are some drawbacks:
  • Verifying identity is difficult on the Internet. This means online petitions are less trustworthy and generally have less impact.
  • If a formal process has to be followed for a petition to be accepted usually physical signatures are required, thus online petitions are invalid.
  • Serious petitions are often lost among silly ones. For instance a petition that Ashlee Simpson should shut up received over 50 times as many signatures as a petition to the music publishing association not to sue websites offering transcripts of modern songs for the purposes of teaching music.

So how effective are they?
There are some success stories advertised on the various petition hosting websites, but not many. Petitions can be an effective tool for drawing attention to an issue and awareness raising, but more often cause minimal change and are simply stating a viewpoint, which is essentially all a petition can do.

Seven ways to save the world

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2005

Every day we’re bombarded with stories and images of conflict, loss, environmental decline and poverty — yet our sympathy for these issues is lost as quickly as we change the channel.

These issues, as well as sweatshops and labels, colonisation and freedom of expression have been covered by Global Focus the last two years.

Our lazy mentality is to sit back and expect these problems to fix themselves. It’s not cool to help’, we say. Besides, who’s going to listen to me?’

The truth is, when it comes to all these important social issues — a decision to take action and possibly save people’s lives, should be based on more than the possible decline of one’s social status, or whether or not it’s too much effort.

Saving the world — it’s easier than it sounds. There are heaps of ways to take action, and they apply to so many different issues. Just like Captain Planet says: “The power is yours” — JOEL

learn
Learn [v.]: Gain information; findout more about a topic
Although the word learn’ conjures up dull images of boring afternoon classes and monotonous teachers and textbooks, finding and learning new information about global issues can actually be both interesting and eye-opening.

If you’re wanting more than you get in newspapers and the six o’clock news, the Internet is a great place to start finding out more about global issues and also what other people are taking action on (see: Link Up).

Be warned though: unlike some media outlets which slightly gloss over the horrific realities and scale of things like poverty and war — some sites are nothing but raw and shocking material.

A couple of good places to start:
New Internationalist, a magazine which focuses on the big issues.
BBC — there’s so much that goes on in the world which doesn’t make it down to New Zealand media… go and see for yourself!
Google News — this site trawls for the most popular stories worldwide, and provides all different sources, so you can see the different perspectives.
Indymedia — an international, independent, grassroots media which focuses on social justice issues, which also allows you to post your own news — JOEL

inform
Inform [v.]: Communicate knowledge or information
That means talking! And we all love to talk, don’t we? Talk about whatever issue it is that interests or concerns you at your school assembly, at meetings, to your friends, to your neighbours across the street, to your local Council, to the Government, to the world!

Inform can also mean writing to share information. Writing to newspapers and magazines, on Internet forums, to Members of Parliament — just to whoever you think can help you save the world.

The Ministry of Youth Development has some cool guides on their website on how to talk to big groups and assemblies and how to write media releases, letters to the editor, submissions to Parliament, and to politicians.

Nkosie Johnson, a child born HIV-positive in South Africa campaigned to stop discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS. At age 11 he spoke at an international conference saying: “Please help people with AIDS — support them, love them, care for them.” Now that’s informing — NICOLE

perform
Perform [v.]: Present or enact artistic work
Yes, your poetic words, bright colours or funky dance moves have the ability to help fight poverty, conflict, prejudice. In fact, you can help promote change for any major global issue, while having loads of fun at the same time.

The possibilities and ideas are as endless as the world of arts itself. From reading a poem, to singing a song for Smokefreerockquest, writing a play about poverty — you’re only limited by your imagination.

One of the most well-known examples is the Theatre of the Oppressed (TO), started up by Brazilian Augusto Boal in the 70s, which artists all around the world use today. TO teachings say that theatre is language, and lucky for the world, TO believe in every human’s right to dignity and use their art as a way of confronting the issues and promoting change. TO has inspired work on youth crime in Australia, development in Vanuatu and caste discrimination in Nepal — to name a few!

Back here, a group of students from Wellington’s Onslow College ruffled some local feathers recently with their controversial Stage Challenge performance Safe Sex. Deemed too risqué, their performance helped raise awareness of thriving STIs, which is a big concern both locally and globally.

If you’re a bit more reserved about expressing yourself, go to Taking it Global express and contribute to their global gallery of visual art which is about inspiring thinking and understanding on a global level — JOEL

organise
Organise [v.]: Form, establish, or coordinate something
This might be a protest, a boycott, a concert, an event, a meeting, whatever rocks your boat. Overseas there are many recent examples of young people organising action for a better world.

Last year the provincial government of Quebec, Canada cut $103 million from bursary programmes which gave students money to pay for university fees. At the same time, they also cut $150 million from social assistance and welfare benefits to the poor, while giving the rich tax cuts.

Not surprisingly these moves angered Quebec’s students, so the major student unions organised a huge student strike. Students refused to go to classes and instead took part in street demonstrations and blockades. Around 100,000 marched through Montreal, Quebec’s capital. At the height of the strike 230,000 out of Quebec’s student population of 450,000 were involved. The government was eventually forced to back down on the cuts.

In South Africa, where privatisation of water and electricity has left many poor, usually black, communities unable to pay their bills and forced into substandard living conditions.

Youth in poor communities, like Soweto, have been organising community groups to resist water and electricity disconnections. Risking arrest and harassment by the authorities the Vulumanzi Boys (water opening boys) teach others how to reconnect their house’s water supply if the company cuts it off. Other groups reconnect their neighbour’s electricity. The whole community protests if the authorities try to stop them.

By taking action young people can make a difference! — CAMERON

change

Change [v.]: alter or modify your own actions
Gandhi pretty much hit it on the head when he said: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”.

The easiest step you can take toward changing the world is changing your own actions and attitudes. And when it feels like you’re just the little guy who can’t do a thing to change an issue that affects people worldwide, it can also be a very empowering action.

If you don’t think sweatshop labour is a nice way to do business, stop buying products which use it; if you don’t believe we should eat animals, start ordering the vegetarian option; if you’re worried about the environment, make sure you buy environment-friendly products and recycle everything you can.

People make personal choices like this every day, and enough people make the right choices, we can make a difference. As a wise graffiti artist once wrote, we’ll find “peace through respective action” — TESSA

create
Create [v.]: Bring something into existence, produce or invent
Creating something to help better the world can be extremely satisfying, especially knowing it came from your own mind.

It could be a new organisation that you’ve created, or a website, a performance, a story, a song, a cure for cancer, a Frankenstein for the 21st century — just something that can help something (or someone) in some way that has been born out of a crazy idea in your own very mind.

Four young guys from Wellington decided to set up their own aid organisation to create a documentary about their experiences in Ghana.

According to Shaan Turner from Project Exposure: “We need to harness that young energy and take advantage of the fact that young people are usually not burdened by skepticism and cynicism that old age brings” (from interview in White Fungus magazine) — NICOLE

link-up
Link up [v.]: Join. connect. or unite with others
That means get out there and meet people who share a common interest or goal with you!

Look on the Internet or keep an eye on community noticeboards for groups in your area that you may like to become a part of. They keep going by working together. There are also plenty of web-based communities.

A couple of excellent starting points:

Taking it Global — you can talk about global issues with people around the world.
Idealist — the name says it all really. Great info sharing and community site.

This article was written as part of the Global Focus a collaborative project of Tearaway Magazine and the Global Education Centre. It was first published in Tearaway magazine and is reprinted here with their permission. Illustrations By Gavin Mouldey

Music and Censorship

Sunday, May 29th, 2005

Jenah Shawcd's chained

Music is everywhere. On that radio over there, on TV, in that car driving past… so imagine if the only song you could hear from any of these was something everyone agreed was safe’ enough. Something without swear words or any references to violence or sex — like Hi 5. Shudder.

Welcome to a world of music censorship, a subject that can get a lot of people very, very angry. Music is expression. Ideas, beliefs, and opinions are all set to a catchy tune.

Banning music, then, is banning expression and freedom of speech, and censoring lyrics is saying: I liked your first line — I really did - but I’ve changed the rest. It just wasn’t doing it for me, and that reference to holding hands? A bit too racy for teenage audiences I’m afraid’.

So in a perfect world there would be no censorship. You could play, write and listen to whatever you want. Everyone is so over the controversy of Eminem, after all.

When is it justified?
In some cases, music censorship does have justification. Several reggae stars have been dropped from UK’s MOBO Awards because of their anti-gay lyrics, and the potential violent backlash it could’ve had.

Even more disturbing is the possible influences that white supremacist rock n’ roll (thankfully, a very small genre) may have — one distributor’s website featured an ad for a computer game called Ethnic Cleansing (violence for the whole family!). Hardly among the top 10 ways for making the world a better place.

Violent music breeds violent behaviour. Or maybe it works the other way around — certain types of music attract certain types of people, and censorship really wouldn’t make that much of a difference.

One thing is for certain: music has a huge impact on our lives. If it is necessary for some albums or songs to be banned, the lines between what makes it hate speech or justifies it as political expression are easily blurred.
headphones
In 2004, for example, when the Dixie Chicks announced they were ashamed that George Bush came from Texas, radio stations stopped playing their songs until they apologised. A slap on the hand for being unpatriotic or an obvious curbing of freedom of speech?

With a society so reliant on Internet culture, perhaps censorship will become ineffective anyway — what the shop won’t let you buy, you can download online and save yourself some cash.

So, music censorship: either a necessary part of our society or an obstruction to freedom of speech. You decide.
This article was written as part of Global Focus a collaborative project of Tearaway Magazine and the Global Education Centre. It was first published in Tearaway magazine and is reprinted here with their permission

Illustrator: Toby Morris