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Digitally native or colonised?

Posted by Philip on 20 July 2014, 1:12 pm in , , , , , , , , , ,

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Cartoon baby with iPhoneThe phrase "digital native" has evolved pretty effortlessly into the common lexicon in the last five years. But is it accurate or a misnomer?

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The sport of coming out

Posted by Philip on 15 July 2014, 6:56 am in , , , , , , , ,

Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe is the latest in a long line of sports "stars" to come out as gay in an interview with celebrity interviewer Sir Michael Parkinson. It seems to be a sport in itself these days: to play professional sport and reveal that you're gay.

Or perhaps a better sport might be to place bets on who will be next. David Beckham? Too good to be true.

But the real question — or the bigger conversation we're not having — is about the "casual homophobia", as Kath and Kim actor and out lesbian comedian Magda Szubanski puts it, in sport that stops people like Thorpe coming out — or never having to "go in" in the first place.

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Will David Cunliffe's male shame change domestic violence?

Posted by Philip on 13 July 2014, 11:45 am in , , , , , ,

David CunliffeThere's been a lot of talk, both for and against, David Cunliffe's recent public confession that he is sorry to be a man. While I admire his intent, I think his choice of words let him down and weakened his message, for several reasons.

Firstly, personalising the message made it all about him and took the focus off women, for whom he was trying to advocate. He would have come across more genuinely had he apologised, on behalf of men, for the violence and abuse women endure from men.

Secondly, Cunliffe's apology for who he is — a man — indicates shame. Researcher Brené Brown is very clear, in her discourse on shame, that shame inhibits change. You simply cannot change your behaviour if you feel bad about who you are. The antidote for shame is the admission of vulnerability. Men, in particular, are nurtured to be invulnerable — which of course they aren't — and so many if not most men feel shame about their vulnerability.

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Changing direction

Posted by Philip on 6 July 2014, 12:50 pm in , , , , , , , , , ,

As of tomorrow, 7 July, I'll be employed for the first time in twelve years. In early May I applied for the 0.6FTE role of Communications Officer at the NZ AIDS Foundation, was offered, to my surprise, an interview in early June and, to my greater surprise, the job in mid-June.

My surprise was two-fold. Firstly, while I've had heaps of experience in communications I've had no formal training. Secondly, I'm fairly long in the tooth to be taking up an entry-level position. So while I felt confident to fulfil the role, I didn't think I'd fit the role profile.

I obviously did though. And that leads to another aspect of my surprise, which is strongly linked to trust. At the beginning of the year I decided to let myself be guided towards where I was needed. I thought it would come in the form of a new client, but it manifested in a completely unexpected way. Not only a completely different content area, but a different role (employment not consultant) and, actually, a whole different lifestyle (I'll be working at the Foundation's offices).

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Should kids have to keep themselves safe?

Posted by Philip on 26 June 2014, 2:12 pm in , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On Wednesday Violence Free Waitakere (VFW) launched "'Jade Speaks Up', a new multimedia resource to help keep children safe from violence." The media release said, "The resource aims to help children put safety strategies in place to support themselves, should they feel afraid in their lives whether from bullying, natural disasters, adult threats or witnessing grown-ups fighting."

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Sign the KIDshine petition urging Rt Hon John Key to end our 'national shame’ of domestic violence and child abuse.

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Envy tax, says PM

Posted by Philip on 25 June 2014, 6:27 pm in , , , , , , , , ,

Labour's "alternative budget" today announced, "High earners will pay a tax rate of 36 percent on income over $150,000. Currently the top tax bracket is 33 percent for people earning over $77,000."

The Prime Minister John Key's surly response: "Envy tax." It's a response that epitomises this Government's entitled, ungenerous and irresponsible approach to the economy.

Key's response is typical of the neo-liberalism of conservative politics. It erodes community, rewards greed and treats money, not only like it's an infinite resource, but that it's an entitlement to have more money than others.

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Child criminals are victims — twice over

Posted by Philip on 24 June 2014, 12:27 pm in , , , , , , , , , ,

The arrest of 12 and 13 year old boys for aggravated robbery and murder respectively in West Auckland a couple of weeks ago highlights a growing malaise in society. The incident itself is a tragedy for the victim and his family, but what is alarming to me is that the two offending boys are victims too — of whatever circumstances led them to offend and now, potentially, of the justice system as well.

The bi-polarity of the justice system, which recognises only victim and offender, clearly fails children in these situations. The stories of those like twelve-year-old Bailey Kurariki (NZ 2001), James Bulger's ten-year-old killers (UK 1993) and eleven-year-old Mary Bell (UK 1968), all of whom were charged and sentenced, point toward a "punishment system" that in no way takes into consideration that these children were too young to be held solely responsible for their actions.

A system that believes kids can be guilty of violent crimes without asking, "How did they become capable of violent crimes?", is one that lacks empathy and compassion. Having empathy and compassion for the kids does not diminish feeling for the victims. It simply acknowledges the existence of complex situations that don't follow "victim/perpetrator" patterns.

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The water hoarder — a capitalist fable

Posted by Philip on 19 June 2014, 11:30 am in , , ,

Once upon a time there was a man. The man liked water — you may even say he loved it.

The man grew up in a family of water lovers. The family didn’t have a lot of water, but they had enough to not be thirsty.

He finished school and went to university. At university, he learnt how to acquire water.

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Folic acid, thalidomide and HIV prevention — three social paradoxes

Posted by Philip on 12 June 2014, 5:26 pm in , , , ,

pillsThis news item about encouraging bread makers to add folic acid to prevent Spina Bifida got me riled up, particularly because it totally excluded the voice of people living with the condition.

I tweeted reporter Jerram Watts:

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Training versus experiential learning

Posted by Philip on 9 June 2014, 4:23 pm in , , , , , , , , , ,

Having just spent the weekend co-facilitating Be. Leadership and then attending a job interview this morning for a part-time communications position at a high-profile charitable organisation, I find myself reflecting on how much I do, and have done, that I haven’t actually been trained to do.

I began learning to facilitate about twenty to 25 years ago, using my counselling training — communicating through questioning and reflective listening one on one — and applying it to a group situation. The process maps almost seamlessly — all that changes is the content, from an emphasis on personal issues and feelings to social issues and opinions (though feelings also often feature predominantly).

When deciding to apply for the communications role I realised that, though not specifically, communications has featured in just about every role I've undertaken to date, but I've never trained in media or communications. From managing publications for the Human Rights Commission in the mid-90s, to promoting myself as a comedian, to writing and managing several blogs and websites for Diversity New Zealand and Diversityworks Trust, I’ve done it it all, from traditional media releases to social media and networking.

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