It’s always a lovely surprise to be commissioned by old friends. I graduated from the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) at the beginning of 2008, and it was there that I was inspired to create deep connections with people who are truly committed to making their environments and this world a better place for all. I think the things I took away from the SSE were the encouragement to become an action-learning facilitator and a business mentor because both of these methods help me to develop my strength to be able to continue to challenge the status quo.
This year’s graduation was held at the PwC headquarters, which I feel creates a real platform for social entrepreneurs entering the social innovation landscape. As always, the presentations given by the students were moving and uplifting and highlighted the power people have to identify the issues they have faced and the ill-health of society and create solutions and design services. I was especially impressed by the speech delivered by Matthew Barrett, founder of The Breakout Media Academy, who described social enterprise as an example of the dignity of current humanity. I was also moved by Louise, who has started a photography social enterprise called Stop, Fix, Develop, which touched my heart as it relates to the first social enterprise I started – Petal Tank – and one of my photographs is being exhibited as part of X Marks the Spot.
The inspiration for the installation that we created for the event started from a series of sketches of fascinator hats that I started drawing one afternoon at a friend’s house. I didn’t know where they were going to go or when I was going to get a chance to make them, but I knew that they would come into existence at some point. So when I got the call for the SSE graduation, I knew that these alternative hats would suit these alternative students. I started with the concentric circles of the SSE logo in the colours of magenta, cyan and blue, and a recycled wire abstract interpretation became a decorative element of the fascinators. The body of the fascinator was made from recycled plastic mesh and the flowers were from Rainforest Alliance-certified tropical bouquets from Costa Rica to meet the SSE’s requirements of a carnival-like celebration. We were joined by the photographer Mystique Holloway, who assisted with the installation, documented the event and supported us on the floral donation where the flowers were up-cycled to the Karibu Centre in Brixton, whose director Elaine is also an SSE Fellow. Upon arrival at the Centre, we found a wake in process and the flowers served as an emotional lift for the bereaved.
Can’t wait for next year’s graduation … and always pack my tissues. We are also looking forward to attending the SSE and Lloyd’s Banking Group event at the House of Lords, which I feel is celebrating the growth and progression of the SSE’s ability to continue the holistic development of social entrepreneurs. There are very few organisations that work closely with social entrepreneurs and are able to finance their ventures.