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Viewing entries tagged with 'uk'

The employment paradox

Posted by Philip on 7 August 2015, 4:37 pm in , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I attended a workshop on accessible employment recently and was reminded, as I've written about before, what a fraught topic employment is these days — for anyone, let alone those with access needs.

As welfare states come crashing down around the (western) world, the demand for employment and requirement to be employed increase. New Zealand's welfare lexicon has changed from "beneficiary" to the default "jobseeker".

Meanwhile industry and technology improves, meaning more machines, computers and robots do more and more jobs for us. I mean, that has been the whole idea of industrial and technological revolutions, hasn't it? To decrease the need for humans to do stuff.

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"Should we believe this or not?" sure ain't gonna fix it

Posted by Philip on 28 April 2014, 3:23 pm in , , , , , ,

Yes! No!The last episode of TVNZ's Sunday left me wondering whether the human condition will ever evolve to a level beyond which binary logic prevails. Maverick Australian broadcaster Derrin Hinch's crusade for a public sex offenders' register epitomises, once again, the inability for people to problem-solve further than a choice between A or B, yes or no, true or false. 

Our own duality demon, legal highs, is another prolific example of politicians (but aren't they just better paid, yet not necessarily better quality broadcasters, really?), this time caving to the whim of a few hysterical could-be voters, who can't live with a few people blowing a few unused brain cells on synthetic cannabinoids to avoid going to prison. The current law was actually a reasonable attempt to find a happy medium — silly them, they made a mistake.

The majority of society thinks that children will be safe from sex offenders if we publicly name and shame them, and that addicts will be rid of drugs if we ban them. That is a really BIG problem. A public opinion poll — "Should we believe this or not?" — sure ain't gonna fix it.

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The lengths we have gone to get away from ourselves

Posted by Philip on 8 April 2014, 8:02 am in , , , , ,

I went to a play the other day. A lot of people had recommended it. It was good, a little long perhaps, but well-written, well-acted and well staged. Not life-changing though. I missed a sunny afternoon reading on the deck.

I went to a seminar the other day. The first two speakers were rather dull. The keynote speaker was egotistical and irritating. Definitely not life-changing. I missed another a sunny afternoon reading on the deck.

Masanobu Fukuoka (1913-2008) was a farmer and philosopher who was born and raised on the Japanese island of Shikoku. He studied plant pathology and spent several years working as a customs inspector in Yokohama. While working there, at the age of 25, he had an inspiration that changed his life. He decided to quit his job, return to his home village and put his ideas into practice by applying them to agriculture. In 1975 he wrote The One-Straw Revolution, a best-selling book that described his life’s journey, his philosophy, and farming techniques.

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Sir Ken Robinson on creativity in schools

Posted by Philip Patston on 19 February 2010, 8:34 am in , , , , ,

Sir Ken vid snap

>From ICP The National Professional Body for Creative Practitioners

"Creative Practitioners Darina Garland and Claudia Barwell met with Ken and his wife Maritherese in New York in December 2009 and recorded this interview especially for ICP. This is a rare opportunity to see Ken and Maritherese interviewed together, talking about creativity, schools, The Element ( Ken’s latest book) and life in general…" 

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Choice to die vs right to live polarised

Posted by Philip Patston on 19 February 2010, 7:08 am in , , ,

The revelation that BBC presenter Ray Gosling killed his lover who was in the final stages of AIDS 20 years ago has ignited claims by disability activists that the British media is promoting mercy killing.

In her blog, Disabled People Fight Back, Clair Lewis warns:

"...the British media are determined, in the main, to promote the acceptability of killing sick and disabled people. The Independent has been the only newspaper with anything like balance in it's comment. Mostly, killers have been lauded as heroes and victims. Ray Gosling is the latest example in a busy month of it and my fingers are getting sore from complaining."

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British first for disabled actors

Posted by Philip Patston on 16 November 2009, 5:54 pm in , , , ,

Cast Offs is a BBC comedy drama series come mockumentary come reality tv spoof where six disabled people are sent to a remote island to discover whether they can survive unassisted. It starts on 24 November in the UK.

It's being promoted as a positive response to TV's narrow portrayal of disabled people and features, perhaps for the first time ever, six (yes six) disabled actors.

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On the UK radio...

Posted by Philip Patston on 19 May 2008, 9:55 am in , , ,


While I was in Manchester in April I was interviewed by the local gay radio show about being gay, disabled, vegetarian, kiwi and funny...

Listen here: Part 1 || Part 2

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Rounding off

Posted by Philip Patston on 19 April 2008, 9:43 pm in , ,

It's been a while since I blogged properly and those who have been following are probably wondering where I've been. Quite a bit has happened in the last three weeks –let me do a bit of a plotted history and I'll wind up with a reflective summary of my overseas learning.

31 March - 5 April: Manchester
I blogged about the Bodyworlds exhibition, but of course that wasn't my reason for being in Manchester. I spent a day with disability arts organisation Full Circle Arts, as keynote at Fayre eXchange, a networking and development day for artists. The audience ranged wider than Newcastle, both in age and experience. The day was packed with different activities - keynotes, panel discussions, workshops and networking - and could well have been relaxed over two days. I was left with a vague feeling of dissatisfaction at having not arranged to work longer with the artists I met, particularly with the younger people who were obviously enjoying and benefiting from the experience of being immersed in an environment of mutual support and inspiration. Once again I was also inspired by the experience of hanging out with artists with unique experience and my resolve to organise a network of artists in Auckland (and perhaps NZ) was strengthened.

5 - 9 April: Devon (Cullompton, Exeter)
My brief for The South West was to engage with cultural and emerging entrepreneurs as part of an "Entrepreneurs In Conversation" series sponsored by the Cultural Leadership Programme. A small group gathered at Exeter University and – catalysed by my exploration of experiential diversity – a satisfying discussion began about context, culture and identity. Once again, though, with a mere two hours, the dialogue had a chance only to germinate and I was left frustrated at having to leave the group with the conversation at such an embryonic stage.

While in Devon I had the pleasure of spending time with my friend and mentor Moya Harris, ex-Director of Equata (now Kaleido) in the beautiful Cullompton district. Sadly, however, during our stay we received word of not only the admittance to hospital of Mahinarangi Tocker, but also the death of my travelling companion Claire's aunt, to whom she was very close. Given this additional stress we decided to cut our trip short and return to NZ without visiting Hawaii to attend the Pacific Rim Conference.

We arrived back on Saturday 12 April and the last week has just been a blur of jet lag, early morning waking and grief over Mahinarangi's death (compounded by the Mangatepopo River school trip tragedy).

Summary/reflection
So, here are the gems that I have taken from the trip:

  1. I am an international thought leader: The highlight of the trip was certainly the conceptual breakthrough of Constructive Experiential Diversity (CED), moving on from Constructive Functional Diversity's impairment/disability focus to a framework that reframes and explores marginalisation on all fronts. I received repeated feedback that I am leading this way of thinking internationally – it is new and cutting edge, and I need to share it more widely. I see a clear role for WISE SPECIES™ as the structure that explores the diversity of individual and group experience in more depth, transforming it into constructive and creative expression.

  2. I need to bundle theory with application: Another clear realisation is that I need to bundle speaking about the theory of CED with its practical application through WISE SPECIES™. I left people wanting more in the UK, which is good up to a point, but I need to start negotiating a longer engagement with clients in order to deliver value for money and return on investment.

  3. I want to promote all aspects of social change as innovation: It was fantastic to be able to speak to people involved in social change and draw parallels to other areas of business innovation. I think activists, artists and frontline welfare workers need to be thinking of what they are doing in terms of innovation and see the response they receive as a natural reaction to innovation. For example, disabled artists who come across market resistance to their work need to stop thinking of this as discrimination and look at how to market their innovation better. Similarly, social workers and counsellors could inject creativity and passion into their work (for themselves and their clients) by seeing their role as supporting people to innovate their lives and promoting it as such, while understanding the innate resistance to new ideas that humans have, especially about themselves.

  4. I am buoyed by the belief that NZ is served and limited by scale: It is interesting, I think, that the social, environmental and resource issues we face in NZ are both compounded and alleviated by our population size. We have the same range of issues, but if that range of issues were a piece of string, our string is much shorter than most other societies. So the (negative) impact is therefore less extreme than other populations, but so also is the (positive) opportunity to make change. Given this dichotomy, the challenge is to leverage the limited impact while accommodating the limited opportunity. Inverted, this means celebrating the relative harmony of our society while innovating cost effective ways to address inequity.

  5. It may sound glib, but I believe that creativity and play need to lead the way: At the risk of generalising, I think we take society's ills far to seriously. At one end of the spectrum the general public have a tendency to over-catastrophise situations, which often compounds them (eg. boy racers, challenges to religious traditions), yet there is another equal inclination towards trivialising issues (eg. social attitudes to disabled people, the impact of economic and political hypocracy). I believe that employing principles of creativity (design, organic development and lateral thinking) and play (lightness, exploration and fascination) is key to improving our social and environmental future.

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The slow but necessary evolution of social technology

Posted by Philip Patston on 3 April 2008, 3:25 pm in

While queuing for nearly half an hour this morning to buy tickets for Bodyworlds at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, I was looking at an old Linotype machine on display. While musing that I'd expect an institution specialising in science and industry to have devised a more efficient way of queuing for and buying tickets than traipsing through a temporary, prefabricated building hardly wide enough to allow two people to pass each other, I was also contemplating the technological advancement of humanity.

It seems incredible that, in just a hundred years or so, the industry of typesetting and printing, which used to involve such cumbersome machinery, has come to be executed with such speed, accuracy and quality within the virtually unseen mechanisms of laptops and desktop printers. In fact, the physical production function is now almost redundant. This blog, its style and distribution are evidence of the linotype of the future.

Were those ten decades a waste of time? Could we have skipped the labour- and resource-intensive age of paper printing, saved a lot of money, steel, ink, and trees, and brought the technological environment of electronic printing forward a generation or two? How would that have impacted on the environment, the economy, politics even? Would the world be a better place? Would we have missed out on anything had the literature of the past not been mass-produced on the page but on the screen instead? Could it have been? Didn't anyone envisage the screen while they tirelessly built the linotype and used it with excruciating laboriousness?

I think these kinds of questions are the source of my greatest frustration when it comes to social change. I can see the digital screens of tomorrow's humanity: knowingly accepting diversity as natural, effortlessly recognising the synergy of commonality and uniqueness (similarity and difference), playfully celebrating our dichotomous significance and insignificance. Yet everywhere I look are the human linotype machines of intolerance, discrimination, carbon waste and economic greed needlessly bashing out page upon wasteful page of poverty, marginalisation, environmental devastation and misery.

Can't we skip this age of archaic social technology?

Yes I know I'm being unrealistic and naive - I'm arguing with myself as I write. Of course the computer and desktop printer wouldn't (couldn't) have been invented without the gradual evolution of technology: the typewriter, the Gestetner Cyclostyle machine, the dot matrix printer. Individual human beings themselves evolve cell by cell, stage by stage, from fertilised egg to foetus, child to adult.

Social change, by comparison, also takes time. Note to self: allow it to take time.

Ok, ok, but meanwhile, I feel like I did leaving Bodyworlds: vaguely nauseous yet strangely fascinated and intrigued!

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Skoll World Forum - see what we saw

Posted by Philip Patston on 29 March 2008, 9:18 pm in , ,

To get a feel of the Forum as we experienced it, check out the coverage at www.socialedge.org

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