Feb 27, 2017

The Bicycle Project

The Bicycle Project
The Bicycle Project

One of our favorite stories is about a little girl who rides her bicycle to school and then stops. She stops because she grows older and instead of using a bicycle, she waits for the bus. The bus is often late, or does not come at all. It's full of people. Then she tries to take the local jeep. Same problem. And not many girls or women go anywhere really.

 

What girls and women are up against when it comes to going to school or going to work in India, is a challenge.

 

It's a challenge because there's not very much reliable public transport in rural India. Cities have metros, trains, buses, even taxis driven by women. Villages and smaller towns have lose transportation networks.

 

We love bicycles. We always have.

 

We love them because they are green, they don't pollute.

 

We love them even more because the Government of Bihar gives girls a stipend to buy a bicycle to go to high school, to be able to get to their Grade 9 school that is further away than the local primary school.

 

The stipend in many ways is an exceptional gift. The only problem is that it's not enough for a new bicycle, and second-hand bicycles are often clunky. Because of pot holes in roads, bicycle tyres often get punctures. And the only mechanic to fix them, is probably a man.

 

We delivered a story about riding a bicycle to school and women learning how to drive from a mobile driving school for girls, to 100,000 girls in Grade 9. The story came with a design-innovation puncture repair kit so girls could learn how to fix a puncture. And every story came with a skills challenge, a simple question that asked girls, how would you re-design your bicycle if you could?

 

This is what girls sent to us. And we're thrilled.

 

How would you re-design your bicycle to be all it can be? That’s the design-thinking challenge we set 100,000 girls in rural India. This is how they answered.

 

Design with a purpose. Design to solve the small and large problems you face on the way to school. You’re given a bicycle in Grade 9 Bihar, or rather a stipend from school, to buy a second-hand bicycle. While once-loved-things are always what they love and many of the bicycles go the distance, some, many get punctures along the way. There are holes in the road. The mechanics are all men. Oops.

 

Farah is curious, she’s 10, and she leads the story that introduced the challenge: why do so many girls cycle to school and when they are older, they stop moving about? Why do they decide to not wait longer for a missed bus. Why does the jeep never turn up when it’s supposed to. Why is everything powered by things that make smoke. The bicycle, thinks Farah, is quite marvelous. If only, it could do this, this and this.

 

Solar lights for night-time rides, reflectors, lower bars, places for water bottles, a puncture kit that wraps around you with fluorescent pink/orange, or the middle bar, a bell to let people know you’re coming and bling, just for fun. A license plate and a chain so your bicycle does not go missing.

 

Yes, there are so many ways we’d re-design our bicycles. Thanks for asking.

The Bicycle Project
The Bicycle Project
The Bicycle Project
The Bicycle Project
The Bicycle Project
The Bicycle Project
The Bicycle Project
The Bicycle Project
The Bicycle Project
The Bicycle Project
Nov 28, 2016

Scrapbooks made out of leaves

A scrapbook to teach skills
A scrapbook to teach skills

We've been working hard, for a while now, on a new idea. It's called The Children's Scrappy News Service. This is the first makeshift news service run by kids for kids taking on the world's biggest problems and solving them with design-thinking and scrappy skills. Every episode takes on a new problem to be solved such as: Why is there no place to play? How do your grandparents cross the road? Why do prices always go up and never come down? Do you know how to swim? Kids take on problems they face where they live and invite adults into the newsroom to chat about solutions. Kid anchors cut to kid field reporters who are on the streets finding solutions by spendng the afternoon with hero sustainable entrepreneurs. We love being scrappy. In fact we love it so much that we created a pilot for our TV show. Being scrappy means creating something out of nothing and changing the world in whatever way, whatever style you can.

Once we'd made our large-scale TV format we then wondered how we could ensure kids anywhere could start their own Children's Scrappy News Service. We thought about what moves us - design-thinking, solving problems, recycling, repurposing, problem-solving, upcycling, tinkering - and so we made five handmade scrapbooks out of once-loved-things. We used dried palm leaves for the cover of one, recycled cardboard for another, plastic woven shoe laces to tie everything together. Our marvelous design team made screen prints for the pages (because we were determined it should all be made by hand). Then came the bigger challenge. We'd made gorgeous books, but could we make 1,000 of each that were each orginal in their own way?

We made recycled scrappy backpacks for our kid reporters, five scrapbooks for every child, a team of 35 people spent 40 days in rural India building newsrooms with kids, learning how to find and research stories, write scripts, use cameras and finally make their own shows. 

It was an amazing journey. We had overhwelming demand from more kids than we could handle. Over 5,000 kids wanted to be a part of it. And even-more demand for our handmade books. We wanted to make recycling mean something. And we did. We made it mean scrappy news. Come visit us when you come to India. There'll be a Children's Scrappy Newsroom somewhere nearby and we'd love to invite you into the studio. 

Another story
Another story
More stories
More stories
Another story
Another story
Sep 7, 2016

I Am Luna

Luna is naughty. She doesn’t care much for fancy clips that hold her hair together, she’d rather let them run wild with her as she solves some of the biggest problems the world faces. Luna’s sky is every colour you have seen and some colours that are only visible to her. Her world is a world of imagination and possibilities. She doesn’t give up. She doesn’t give in. She’s strong. She’s fierce. She’s full of love and kindness. She looks for all things new, and questions the old.

Luna traveled to 16 districts of Bihar all through July and August, and we were thrilled to see so much love for her! The Luna series is going into 261 schools and into the hands of thousands of girls in Grade 7. But none of this would be possible without the support of the 261 principles and 500+ teachers who spent their days with us, getting to know Luna and everything she stands for. 

Just like Luna, the trainings held for the teachers were different too. Aptly called ‘I Am Luna’, it gave teachers a chance to explore the adventurers hidden in their hearts and to see everything from a new perspective. They painted using flowers and grass and tea leaves, lit bulbs using potatoes, and sowed seeds to grow organic gardens! By the end of the second day, teachers couldn’t wait to take Luna into their classrooms.

Shweta, a teacher from KGBV Bhojpur, said, “Luna thinks differently. She’s so different from everyone else! If all the girls in KGBVs, or anywhere else, start thinking like this, the world will become an entirely new place.” While everyone loved Luna’s fierce spirit, they also saw value in the lessons the stories were teaching; talking about Luna's Garden (one of the books in the series), Raka Rani, a headmistress, said “We need kids who like gardens, and plants, and trees. Let them make a garden, fail at it or make it; but the most important thing is that they try it.”

We’re excited about Luna meeting thousands of young girls just like her!

Watch the Luna movies here:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL1ue9VzrTsigsmKJOkM7Y_ET9Ymkmafm0

 
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