Category Archives: miscellaneous

from here and there

Black Eyed Peas or Black Eyed Peace?

Despite the long gap in time, I am continuing the series hip hop meets poetry in a quest for peace. Everyone can surely remember the big hit the Black Eyed Peas landed in 2003: Where is the love.

It is a very good example of conscious hip hop.

Listen in again:

My favorite part is sung by apl.de.ap:

I feel the weight of the world on my shoulder
As I’m gettin’ older, y’all, people gets colder
Most of us only care about money makin’
Selfishness got us followin’ our wrong direction
Wrong information always shown by the media
Negative images is the main criteria
Infecting the young minds faster than bacteria
Kids wanna act like what they see in the cinema
Yo’, whatever happened to the values of humanity
Whatever happened to the fairness in equality
Instead of spreading love we’re spreading animosity
Lack of understanding, leading lives away from unity
That’s the reason why sometimes I’m feelin’ under
That’s the reason why sometimes I’m feelin’ down
There’s no wonder why sometimes I’m feelin’ under
Gotta keep my faith alive till love is found

Now ask yourself

Where is the love?

Oh and don’t forget:

We only got one world, that’s all we got: one world.

That’s all we got guys, so let’s change the way we treat it and how we treat each other as well.

Best,

Nina

Child Soldiers

In the two posts in the series hip hop meets poetry in a quest for peace, we have seen how popular culture portrays deep social issues, such as child abuse in its various forms. However, very much like for example women, youth and children are not only victims of violence, or peacebuilders as seen in the article The Unexplored Power of Youth but in some cases they can also be perpetrators of violence.

Here are two videos that show these different sides of youth and children. This time the videos show how NGOs try to approach this complex and difficult topic. Both videos are made by WarChild, an organisation that tries to reintegrate child soldiers and give them the means to come back to a somewhat normal life.

If you have some articles or interesting websites that might give ideas or approaches for guiding youth through the process of changing the roles they are playing towards positive change, please share them – post them below or send an email to takeyourinitiative@gmail.com

More from the series soon,

Nina Aeckerle

London goes green!

What we all have either used or at least seen in cities like Paris and Barcelona is finally coming true for London:

Bikes for hire all over the city!

Mayor Boris Johnson shows his environmentally friendly side and signed over the bike campaign to Barclays.

On July 30th 6000 bikes with the Barclay’s logos on them will swarm out into the streets of London. Barclays is paying £25m to take over the bike scheme. Is it a “payback for the mayor’s support of financial institutions in the credit crunch”??!

Do we care? We get to have the bikes!!

So, how does it work?

For £1 a day the bike is yours. Payable by credit card at one of the 400 docking stations all over London nothing stands in your way of living out your love for the bike. For those of you who like to ride for a while, careful, charges go up if you stay on for more than 30 minutes. Might be work taking an annual pass: the price then drops to 13 p a day.

Unfortunately it seems like we won’t get to enjoy all 6.000 bikes right on the 30th, since there was a delays in installing docking areas. Cycling the city will start with two cycle super highways that will connect the suburb to central London.

TfL expects 40.000 trips a day. Can we top that?

To those crazy bikers and those of you who have a car please pay attention to blue paint on some roads: this space is a shared zone for cyclists and drivers alike….so be friendly to each other!!!

This concept really works in other cities, let’s turn London into a success story, too!

Have fun with them and take care of our environment!

Sources: London Evening Standard Friday 28 May 2010 and BBC online

Harvey Milk – a Politician with a Twist

Harvey MilkA friend of mine asked me to write a post on Harvey Milk: a man who tried to change politics and the lives of thousands of gay men.

Here is one of his famous speeches:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAdtxNI4JDg

There are a couple of things I would like to mention apart from the fact that he was the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California. Back in the 70’s this was a major step for the LGBTQI movement. I think the importance of his success is absolutely clear and deserves acknowledgment and admiration.

But there is more to his politics than his personality and sexual orientation.

Harvey Milk stood for community politics. He engaged directly in conversation with the people, listened to their concerns and tried to raise awareness of them. Furthermore the idea that the ‘Us’s’ have to find their place in mainstream thinking and acting and have to be heard and included addresses the basic ideas of integrating all parts of society in order to determine the route it takes. Finding your place and being acknowledged as a valid part of society can be considered a basic human need and it is among others thanks to Harvey Milk that many gay men and lesbian women can live their life in a more peaceful, accepted way than before; although, of course, we are still not where we should be.

Losing someone like Harvey Milk at such an early stage of taking influence is rather painful. But however short his life might have been, he influenced and strengthened so many and gave hope to those who were desperately in need of it.

The sentence he always started his speeches with was:

I am Harvey Milk and I am here to recruit you.

And that he really did.

Thank you, Harvey, for standing up and coming out of the closet.

Nina Aeckerle

P.S. For those of you who are more interested in the visual: watch the movie Milk (2008) with Sean Penn as Harvey Milk. It is more than a great movie.

350 – International Day of Climate Action – 24 October 2009

Hello everyone,

sorry for not having posted anything for so long. I finished my master thesis, which had kept me busy for a while.

350Today I am reviving the blog again and I would like to start by spreading the word about the International Day of Climate Action, which is taking place today!

350 advocates for lowering the level of CO2 below 350, which is the level necessary for our planet to breathe again.

Have a look:

It’s about time we change direction and take a step back.

Check their website to find a city near you where you can join one of the many initiatives and show the rest of the world that we do care!

http://www.350.org/

Be safe and take initiative.

Nina Aeckerle

Diddy and Kutcher team up: Malaria No More

malaria_no_more_peacebuilding

For the 4th of July P. Diddy and Ashton Kutcher teamed up to fight a forgotten killer: Malaria.

Diddy’s legendary White Party served as a reminder of how we can work against Malaria.

You can buy shirts from Comb’s Sean John Malaria No More Collection and for every shirt two bed nets will go to certain parts of Africa to help people protect themselves against the deadly mosquitos that carry Malaria.

Here is a special message from Ashton Kutcher:

Check out their website if you want to contribute: www.seanjohn.com/malarianomore

Peacebuilding initiatives like this are seem to be really effective in drawing the public’s attention to a good cause, but sometimes I wonder how long this interest lasts? Is it just a small publicity hype, or can the attention of these celebrities really make people aware of what is going on in other parts of the world?

NGOs have to ask themselves the same question: should they start advertising for peace? Should we turn something that is based on morals into something hot, sexy and flashy to catch attention?

Tell me what you think? Does it touch you if Diddy or Peter Gabriel or even the late Michael Jackson tell you to support their initiatives for peace?

Personally, I think it’s time to take the path that people are willing to follow. As long as it doesn’t go against one’s own values….

So, go ahead an contribute to the fight against Malaria!

Be in peace,

Nina Aeckerle

It’s not all bling bling

I want to kick off  the series hip hop meets poetry in a quest for peace with showing children and youth as victims with a slightly controversial topic: Hip hop.

What started out as a release of social grievances, frustration and anger, over the last decades to a big extent has turned into a lot of talk about bling, cars, girls and how those artists made it to the top. However, one can still find some songs that go below the surface and touch deeper issues, this type of hip hop is often referred to as conscious positive hip hop.

I would like to start with a song by Kanye West called Diamonds from Sierra Leone.

This video shows very well a number of things:

  • The exploitation of children in diamond mines in some parts of Africa,
  • The incredible circumstances and living situations these children are subdued to and
  • The incredible ignorance with which some people buy and wear diamonds.

To have a critical song like this come from the hip hop community might be an incentive for those who listen to it to be more aware of conflict diamonds, also called blood diamonds. What I hope for is that this song inspires people to check whether the diamonds they buy come from conflict regions. Currently there is no official system of certification in place, however it is known which areas of Africa are conflict diamond free and which have blood diamond mines. So knowing what region of Africa your diamonds come from can already give you a clue as to whether you have blood diamonds or not. Furthermore, there are two main certificates, one is the Canadian Certificate and the other is the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme that sets out to surveil the entire process: from mining for diamonds up to their sale.

Conflict-free diamonds on the other hand are diamonds whose profits are not used to fund wars and which are produced and mined under ethical conditions.

Please, if you think about buying your girlfriend a diamond ring, make sure they are not blood diamonds.

People are being abused in the process of mining for those diamonds! And the most vulnerable among them are the children. They experience extreme forms of violence, sickness, amputations and in many cases death. These children do not have the chance to a peaceful life, they are being used just like tools or machinery and are being thrown away, killed when becoming useless.

Let me ask one question: How cool can you be if what you wear on your hand is a token of the death and suffering of others?

Here is the remix of the song, which goes into more detail on the realisation that what some consume and buy and wear and enjoy and in some cases identify themselves with hurts and kills others.

What do you think about the song? Do you think it is an effective way to raise awareness of conflict diamonds and the way kids are being exploited in the process of getting to those diamonds? Are people really listening to the lyrics or are the beats more important than the content?

Leave me some comments and let me know if you have other good examples of conscious hip hop.

Next week on the hip hop meets poetry in a quest for peace: Mike Ellis – Mezeker

Check back with me soon for more of the series.

Nina Aeckerle