I was really impressed by my students' enthusiasm for planning what they can contribute to Global Poverty Day.

All except the one girl who spent the half hour she could have used to read up on how world banks are creating poverty through betting games instead researching the price of a jewel-encrusted phone cover on eBay. And she completely missed the references to guilt or irony…

Apply -> African Union Youth Volunteer Program ( get the right links to documents and tips here)

#Apply -> African Union Youth Volunteer Program ( get the right links to documents and #tips here) #deadline: 25 Sept 2015

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Note: I’m sharing this call for application because I’ve been in this program and have had one the best and incredible experiences of my entire volunteer life. Read more here -> Octavio’s experience as African Union Youth Volunteer 

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The African Union Youth Volunteer Corps (AU-YVC), established in 2010, is a continental development program that promotes volunteering among young professionals in…

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Make Life Matter course

Greenpop has teamed up with climate change activist and motivational coach Robert Zipplies to offer a unique two-day course for the growing number of people who are inspired to build a better future and change their world - but don’t know how.

“There is no doubt that humanity’s response to our local and global problems is woefully inadequate: growing inequality, climate change, corruption, environmental degradation, joblessness – the list is long and getting longer,” says Zipplies. “As a result, more and more people are getting frustrated about the lack of social, political and environmental progress.”

Thankfully a wave of courageous people is rising to the challenge. They are individuals who want to lead a life of greater meaning by transforming their concern about the state of the world into passionate and positive action. They are people who want to do things differently and work towards a wiser, and more caring and inclusive society.

Paul Hawken, the author of “Blessed Unrest – How the largest movement in the world came into being”, calls this rapidly growing movement society’s immune system response to the world’s global ills.

Misha Teasdale, Greenpop’s Tree – E – O, adds “I believe that the world is shifting from wanting a life of success, to living a life of significance. People want to make meaningful changes in their own community so that we can together thrive as a global community. In order to achieve this change, we need to start with the self, and from there, spread positive awareness and action around the world. A life of significance is about living more simply and sustainably, and making it fun.”

Zipplies said that the two-day Make Life Matter course is for people whose souls are yearning to make a difference and who want to live a life that builds, rather than destroys, social and environmental value, but who need a little help with identifying their best strengths so that they can use their unique talents - at home, at work and in their community – to make a difference and not feel like they are “beating their heads against a wall”.

Zipplies and selected guest speakers will equip participants to become more effective change agents.

Dates and times:

CAPE TOWN: Weekend of 5 & 6 December 2015. From 8h30 until 16h30. Saturday evening: 16h30 until 19h00

JOHANNESBURG: Weekend of 23-24 January. From 8h30 until 16h30. Saturday evening: 16h30 until 19h00


CAPE TOWN: The Greenpop Office, 5th Floor Jaga House, 61 Wale Street, Cape Town, 8001

JOHANNESBURG: To be announced.

Topics that will be covered in this course:

  • Reviewing our key societal problems and their causes.
  • Discovering the key principles required for building a more sustainable and just world.
  • Identifying and matching your areas of passion with your strengths and skills.
  • Developing a personal vision, ideas and plans for action.
  • Discovering useful psychology-of-change tools for winning over hearts and minds.
  • Working with yourself to enhance your capabilities as a change agent.
  • Improving the effectiveness of your communication efforts.
  • Learning from accomplished social innovators, activists and change agents.


  • Standard: R2000 (Early-bird: R1800 – CpT before 20 Nov 2015; Jhb before 24 Dec 2015)
  • Students/scholars: R1500 (Early-bird: R1350 – CpT before 20 Nov 2015; Jhb before 24 Dec 2015)
  • Bursaries: A limited number are available. Please email Robert your motivation.

Basic lunch and refreshments included.

  • Sign up here or register your interest in a future course here.

About Robert:

Robert does not believe in the status quo, but strives for a society that boldly tackles its social and environmental injustices to create a better future for all. In addition to working as a sustainability consultant, he is an activist and advisory committee member of the Fossil Free South Africa. Previously he was a board member of the climate change NPO, Project 90 by 2030. Robert is the editor of the book, Bending the Curve – Your guide to tackling climate change in South Africa (free e-book here). In a previous incarnation, he worked in venture capital, Internet start-ups, management consulting and the steel industry. He has an MSc in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA. Check out his website here.

Photo by Sydelle Willow Smith

Cheesy design but a great reinterpretation of an old saying.

Skills and attributes that enable people to be active and constructive citizens are arguably more important than knowledge in today’s world.  Examples are social and relationship skills, understanding ethics, empathy, conflict resolution, organizing and motivating skills.

Most of today’s formal education systems are not delivering.


Campaigning for the Campaigner: Malala Yousufzai

On October 9, 2012, 15-year old Malala Yusufzai was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman as she returned home on her school bus, in response to her campaign and young life of activism speaking out against the destruction of girls schools in Pakistan.

Her case drew international attention and she was flown to the UK with her family for emergency treatment.  Mulala’s condition gradually improved and on 3rd January she was released from hospital, with further reconstructive surgery to take place in late January/February.  Until then, she’ll be temporarily resident with relatives here in the UK.  Her Wikipedia page tells the full, incredible story.

Mulala’s story is a wonderful example of the power of narrative in the classroom - the power to engage, stimulate and inspire other young people into action. 

Teacher Ben Miskell and his year 8 class responded to the news of what happened to Malala by campaigning tirelessly over 4 weeks of lessons to help get her nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.  Over 250,000 people have now signed the petitionRead their story here.

I’ve put together a quick picture presentation of Mulala’s story below - download this as a powerpoint presentation here.  It features presenters’ notes for most slides.

There is also an excellent pictorial timeline of Malala’s story created by Time magazine here.

Octavio's experience as AU Youth Volunteer

Octavio’s experience as AU Youth Volunteer

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Octavio Diogo is a Youth Volunteer from Republic of Benin. He currently serves within the US Mission to the African Union in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. He talks about his experience here… (read the welcome note from U.S. Mission to the African Union) 1-Why did I decide to volunteer? Having made the decision to quit my job as Business Development Manager in a Nigeria-based company.  To volunteer for…

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Living together?

// Anna

The PES Group in the Committee of the Regions made a photo contest about the issue “Living together”, asking a picture that represents this theme and spread an inspiring message, to let people think about it.

Reading the rules and the suggestions, there are lot of arguments around this topic: peace, respect, barriers, freedom of thoughts, equal rights, break stereotypes, dignity, no fears, sharing… But in all these years of my life, through all my experiences, what I really felt volunteering for Libera in Italy, working as an architect and searching a job that could permit me to build spaces with respect of history and people, and now, that I am here, in Hungary, with the crisis “emergency” of the refugees (that lasts over 20 years), what really connect everything for me is the concept of boundary. With a friend of mine, Isa, a great photographer and friend, talking and sharing the same feelings, we build this picture, together. But I applied alone, because of the rules of the contest. 

I strongly feel that this is not the best way to go through. Three years ago I wrote my master thesis, in italian, about this:  “Rethinking italian privatized landscapes”, blaming the exasperation of the concept of privatization for the degradation and the problems that are ruining my beautiful country.

Instead of build a good community, share knowledge and stories, we are building more and more fences, scared about the differences. Our cities are full of these signs “this is my property, don’t pass”, we close our doors, even during free time we don’t go further our group of friends. So, what are we talking about? Writing one letter on each of that cartons, sewing them with the red thread on the barbed wire, standing on the chair in the middle of the street, I wanted to ask people if they think if is this the best way for them to go through.

If you like it, you can vote simply going on the facebook page and give a like, thanks!

Whose constitution is it again?
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In anticipation for tomorrow’s panel discussion, I got around to reading, for the umpteenth time, this well written piece. Click here for [PDF] This well articulated article, albeit long, is quite a telling revelation of what has been overlooked & ‘creatively modified’ over a matter of a few years. The basic reasons of why, how and to what extent, their constitution came to being is well…

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Global Goals for Sustainable Development: A World Lesson

Global Goals for Sustainable Development: A World Lesson

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Today is the launch of the “World’s Largest Lesson”. A “World Lesson” is a good concept, and patently needed. The summer months showed us the devastating effect of war, poverty and helplessness as we watched, in grief, the images of the displaced whose lives had been hugely affected by the negligence of humankind. What if the next generation were kinder, more humane? Is there a more important…

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Call for youth participants to the intergenerational dialogue during the 26th AU Summit

Call for youth participants to the intergenerational dialogue during the 26th AU Summit

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Si vous préférez la version française, cliquez iciThe 26th AU Heads of States and Governments’ Summit will be held from the 21st to the 31st of January 2016, at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The theme of the Summit is: “2016 : African Year of Human Rights with particular focus on the Rights of Women”. Along the sidelines of the Summit, the African Union Commission is organizing…

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An informal speech about Transition Town in Budapest and Átalakulo közösségek

 // Anna

On tuesday of the previous week I went to an informal speech about transition towns at Massolit Cafè. The transition towns are places in which people improve the resilience of their communities, in order to face the double challenge of the global warming and the peak of oil. The movement is growing rapidly and in 2013 counted over 1.107 initiatives in more than 43 countries across the world.

The speaker, Tracey Wheatley, is living in Wekerle estate, a part of the XIX district of Budapest. Is a particular place, designed by a team of young architects in the beginning of the 1900. 

The conformation of this estate helped people to feel part of a community, and starting from workshops and sharing knowledges about handmade clothes, they are growing as a transition community. Wekerle is the only transition town in all Hungary for now. 

Tracey Wheatley didn’t explain deeply the transition town project, that is available here. She let us thinking about the sense of living together and what are the potentialities of this sharing with other people. She also spoke about the movements of all the people that want to change something in this world, like I wrote few posts ago (Lohas, you can read it here). For this reason, for which she is very passionate about, she introduced also the project she is working on: Atalakulo, a platform in which they are collecting the best practices in Hungary about active citizenship. 

Trying to translate what they write on it (it’s in hungarian), the description is:

In the website there are events, community actions, projects that represents milestones in the course of their work in the community. Thus, they linked together even more, changed the attitudes of local food, local economy and local technology themes. These projects are an inspiration for the community moving forward. You can get new ideas, you can learn from experience, you can go to the communities. 

In the website I found also the project of Grundkert, you can read more here.


The Citizens League builds civic imagination and capacity in Minnesota by:

  • Identifying, framing and proposing solutions to public policy problems;
  • Developing civic leaders in all generations who govern for the common good; and
  • Organizing the individual and institutional relationships necessary to achieve these goals.


To organize the means – the “civic infrastructure” – within the Citizens League and in Minnesota, to achieve the mission. “Civic infrastructure” refers to our ability to govern and solve problems for the common good in and across all institutions.


  1. We believe in human capacity: the power and potential of all citizens.
  2. We believe in democracy and good governance.
  3. We believe in civic leadership and active citizenship.
  4. We believe in good politics and political competence.
  5. We believe in institutional accountability: that all institutions must sustain these ideals from one generation to the next.

Citizens League members do the work to build civic imagination and capacity in Minnesota. Read our 2011-2012 Citizens League guide to see what we’re up to, or click on a category below to find out more about this work and how you can contribute.

Messzelátó Volunteer Living Library

// Anna

On 25th of June here in Messzelátó office took place the event “Önkéntesség? Miért? / Volunteer Living library”, in order to talk about volunteering. It was divided into two part. 

During the first one all the people were together; Nóri introduce the topic and then everybody introduced him/herself to the other.

In the second part we made the “live library”: the volunteers were the books and the people could ask information and curiosities to them. 

I was the book “volunteering abroad and at home”, because when I was in Italy I volunteered in Libera, a web of organizations against mafia ( I started to volunteer because mafia and corruption stole the future and the opportunities to honest people and we, as citizens, have a big responsibility in it. If lawyers, citizens and politics work together, mafia and corruption can easily be removed. We, as citizens, have a great power: the vote. We can choose who will administrate and organize the common part of our lives, the nation. 

I’m proud to be italian when I remember that Danilo Dolci was italian ( : he was studying architecture, but he decided to work in social field when he saw the poorest part of the big Italy of the fifties, sicily. He believed in the strength of communities and groups, but with independent people: everybody is different, everybody has to search his or her way because the more every person is independent and strong, the more the group and the community is good and strong.

I think that volunteering teaches us to manage what’s more precious: time.

Volunteering gives you strength and wisdom, you grow up. I volunteered in different part of my life: while I was studying, while I was working and now I’m working as a volunteer. And through all these years volunteering helped me to be more creative, patient, gentle, flexible, well organized and open minded. Why volunteering and not working? Because work settle us apart: we can’t build strong communities and we can’t take part in the decisions that are important (urban changes, political and social changes…) because we are divided. Volunteering takes together people that do different jobs and gives the opportunity to exchange experiences, ideas and suggestions. It also gives the chance to use services that poor people can’t afford. 

Even if it’s for couple of hours per week or per month, or one day per month, or supporting spreading the voice, or talking about what we are doing… everything is important and useful, because we are a group and we are building something together.

to see all the pictures: