BULK: Coffee, Roses and Peace

By Jo Phillips

At some point earlier today, the white rose I now hold had been skilfully picked by a Kenyan worker on a flower farm over 4480 miles away. Whilst you prepare your morning cup of ‘black gold’, a young Honduran’s being trained by Kenco as a coffee farmer, to alter their path of becoming a notorious gang member. The unprovoked stabbing of an adolescent by adolescents raised the question why and birthed organisation Art Against Knives. There are always peaceful solutions to conflict, and putting to use the positivity of creativity might just be the key. International Alert, Kenco and Art against Knives are just three of the many leading organisations doggedly determined to unlock them.

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International Alert has launched an enlightening photo exhibition called Peace Blooms, that’ll run from the 10-15 February, the first in their series of peace assessments. Peace Blooms; a title that inspires positivity, the promise of progression and the blossoming of a better tomorrow. They have employed the raw exposure of photography in their exploration of major issues in Kenya; the conflicts that arise from water shortages and concerns over land use. Half of the powerful photographs adorning Hoxton Gallery’s brick walls are of Kenya’s flower farms and workers.   The deep hues of pink, brown and green will you to reach out into Naivasha and make a difference.

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Beautiful Hondura is one of the world’s chief coffee producers, a country where gangs are a constant threat to Honduran youth, opportunities are lean and poverty is abundant. Kenco has launched a new project called Coffee Vs Gangs. They’ve called for the help of creativity to advertise Hondura’s plight, with a short film directed by Johnny Hardstaff. Kenco also designed an interactive digital platform that allows you to follow the journey of 20 vulnerable participants training to become the new generation of coffee entrepreneurs.

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In 2008 art student Oliver Hemsley was attacked on the streets of Shoreditch, leaving him wheelchair bound today. In spite of this act of brutality Oliver didn’t harden his heart to London’s youth, but joined with best friend Katy Dawe, who as she puts it, ‘-wanted to find the root causes’ of what could drive someone to commit a horrific crime and ways of future prevention. Through all Oliver never let his love for art die, using it as a springboard to create the Art Against Knives organisation. An organisation that works with at-risk youth affected by knife crime and facilitates creative opportunities to help them secure employment, education or training.

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