Science Festivals and Craft Fairs

The more often I explain what Crossing Countries does and why we do it the more I am convinced that it is the ‘why’ rather than the ‘how’ that is important. This became even clearer when we were invited to be part of the Social Dimensions of Health Institute stall at the Dundee Science Festival earlier this month. Their theme was ‘Perceptions’ and included information about optical illusions, perceived identities and vulnerabilities. ‘Change your thoughts, change the world’ was the catalyst for our display which asked people to question what they saw. Was the kite made out of a black bag and straws, rubbish or a kite? Was the model of a car, wire or a toy and were the people in the fashion show, models or wheelchair users?

Dundee Science Festival_edited

Last weekend we did our very first craft fare for WHALE at St Cuthbert’s Episcopal Church in Colinton. It was a delightful introduction into the word of crafters. We met lots of lovely people who were so positive and supportive of our enterprise. The Ikwhezi Welfare Organisation’s ceramics sold very well so we will definitely bring some of those back next year. I have a feeling this won’t be the last craft fair we do.

Craft Fair Nov 2015_edited

For Beth

The Crossing Countries team and I are very sorry that Beth has stepped down as Co director but remains on the team with a special interest in events. We want to say all the things that everyone says on these occasions and more. She has been with us since we dreamt of going to Africa, before Crossing Countries was actually born. You could say she is one of this baby social enterprises’ parents, while also being one of its offspring. So Crossing Countries work is done here, she has challenged her boundaries and it is time for her to change her life… time for her to fly and become the world renowned author we know she will be. She has been well warned that when she is signing autographs for the likes of JK Rowling or picking up her first Booker prize she will be wearing a Crossing Countries sweatshirt and selling tickets at our next event.

Here is a little collection of our favourite memories of the gorgeous ginger known as ‘Bethers’….

(61) 27 July 2014 Beth & Asiphle(51) 27 July 2014 Beth ...ah they're hats(78) 28 July 2014 Beth at Soiezwe, KwaMashu(16) 25 July 2014 the sleeping gingers Dubai(87) 28 July 2014 Beth and Ntuthuko in van(177) 1 Aug 2014 The surf dudes return

Getting ourselves known

Getting out there and getting Crossing Countries known is a job in itself. To add to the events we have been taking part in we have also had a photo in the Edinburgh Evening News and a feature in the excellent  Disability Horizons

Laura and I were also invited by Professor Thilo Kroll, to the Social Dimensions of Health Institute, which brings together researchers from both Dundee and St Andrews Universities. Our reflections about our trip can be heard on the link here.

Crossing Countries is now a member of the Scottish Disability Equality Forum and we have been to our first meeting where the Scottish Government Draft Delivery Plan 2016-2020 was discussed.

We have also applied to join Edinburgh Social Enterprise Network and Social Enterprise Scotland.

About being an incubee, wearing a blindfold and spreadsheets

I have been learning a whole new vocabulary and been meeting some awesome other social entrepreneurs as I was accepted on the Scottish Incubation and Ideation Awards Scheme run by the Melting Pot, which started in mid-September. ‘Revenue streams’, ‘customer segments’ and ‘social impact’ now trip off the end of my tongue. To say nothing of my 1 minute elevator pitch. To be accepted for the second half of the course I have a 5 minute pitch to give in December, my poor cat is now fed up hearing why Crossing Countries is unique and why I should remain on the award scheme. The other awardees have also been tutoring me on the importance of tweeting …so I have sent out the odd note but I’m not up to a full blown morning chorus…as yet

SIIA 7_9_15

The learning doesn’t stop here as I have also completed the sighted guiding training course with RNIB. It not only brought home to me the amount of trust that is required by a blind person but also how your sight makes you pay so much more attention to what people are saying. I was reminded that it is through listening we understand.

Guiding Training

I have also signed up for an online Excel for business course, the challenge of using a long drop toilet in rural SA is nothing compared to the dreaded spreadsheet!!

The Image Challenge…videos, photos and a fashion show…

Keeping the blog up to date is a challenge but that is what we are all about. So today I am rising to that challenge and attempting to get the page up to date and explain why there has been a lack of updates in the last few months. I am going to divide up what has been happening so that people can pick and choose the titles they want to read.

First of all I would like to say to Laura a huge thank you for getting the video finished. It was no mean task as we had hours and hours of film which brought back such wonderful memories it was difficult to not show you them all. The same can be said of the hundreds of photographs we have taken. We have divided our trip this year in to a video diary, a photo diary and a verbal description diary under the 2015 Trip tab. As usual we would love to hear your comments about this. Do you like it or is there an alternative format you would prefer?

While we were in South Africa we were asked by the students at the University of KwaZulu Natal to be part of a fashion show for disabled people, unfortunately it was on after we had returned to Scotland. Another challenge faced and overcome… we made a video which focused on fusing Scottish and African fashion and was show at the end of October in Durban, the organiser said it was a great success.