I asked the Wordscapes team what stories had impacted on them most in 2017. This is what they said.
Andrew: Seeing the City Tribune return has been one of the highlights of the year for me. There was a lot of love for the first City Tribune in 2014 and to bring it back in partnership with the Business Festival team for 2017-2018 and beyond is thrilling. Obviously Ethos has been a bit of a rollercoaster too with five print issues in our first year and new readers across the world. It’s been enormously challenging but I’ve really loved writing stories for it and watching it all come together. Heading into 2018 with two active media properties is great. Ending 2018 with four wouldn’t be totally surprising at this rate.
My favourite story of the year was Awesome Fivers. It was an idea I had in 2014 after attending the Awesome Foundation Summit in Ottawa, for our chapter in Liverpool to give £500 away in 100 £5 notes to strangers in the week before Christmas, and ask people to do something nice with the money. Last year 10+ cities across the world, from Australia to North America, handed out fivers on 9th/10th of December for Awesome Weekend. I love the Awesome Foundation for making this kind of stuff possible.
Fiona: My favourite work-related story was about Aqua Running, which is based just up the road from us in Liverpool’s Sensor City, and is a finalist in BICo’s OpenMaker programme. Set up by former LFC midfielder Terry Nelson, Aqua Running develops flotation body suits to help people train in water. Having retired as a footballer, and facing life-threatening kidney failure, Terry had one of his legs amputated, but was able to recover fast through low impact training in a swimming pool. He’s since gone on to develop these life-changing body suits, which can help anyone train in a highly effective, low impact way in water, including people of any age, ability or disability. He works with people around the world, including Real Madrid, which was one of the first teams to use the body suits.
More generally, I’ve been really heartened by the amount of both small and larger scale social and environmental responses to global challenges. London’s first community fridge opened in Brixton in spring, creating a place for people to share food with anyone who needs it. Similar projects already exist in Spain, Germany and India. Closer to home, I noticed one of our local shops giving away all soon out-of-date food last week, so anyone who needs it can take some. They’re just two small examples of things happening all over the world. And, finally, people – government included – seem to be sitting up and taking notice of plastic pollution – trying to reduce my individual consumption is one of my New Year’s Resolutions. It’s pretty shit that we’re in a position where homelessness, food bank use and waste – whether food, plastic, or otherwise – are going through the roof. And when it comes to food poverty and homelessness we should demand more from the people that govern us. But I’ve been really encouraged by small scale, personal responses.
Lucy M: My Wordscapes story isn’t about a specific project we worked on. I joined the company early in 2017 to help out with admin and accounts for a couple of hours a week, but it didn’t take long for me to be absorbed into Wordscapes on a bigger scale. I now do two days a week and love the diversity of the clients and projects we deal with. It’s also been great getting to know the area our studio is based in. There are so many makers, creatives, independent companies, startups, entrepreneurs and tech companies around here, all doing what they can to make Liverpool a better place to live and work in. There is a great sense of community in the Baltic Triangle, it’s great to be here.
On a more personal note, I have particularly enjoyed the increase in books published, predominantly aimed at young teens but really anyone would enjoy them, about the women who have contributed to the world in so many different ways. I love Libby Jackson’s beautiful ‘A Galaxy of Her Own’ which tells the stories of women involved in space exploration, but also Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo’s ‘Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls’, which tells of 100 extraordinary women, with a second crowdfunded volume on the way to the UK soon. There are lots more out there and still being published, it’s wonderful to finally hear the stories of so many amazing women.
Jack: 2017 was a strange one for me personally, as it was a year of upheaval and new starts. I joined the motley crew of Wordscapes back in April and soon set about pouring biscuits and chocolate down everyone’s gullets. The stuff I have written about through Wordscapes, and more specifically for Ethos, is unlike anything I have written before and, so far, has been a rollercoaster of learning. A gentle rollercoaster though, like the Caterpillar one you’ll find in any good seaside town. My favourite story I have worked on has been the piece I did on B Corps for Ethos issue 02. It was a concept I had no familiarity with, but finding out the good they are doing was a really rewarding and, dare I say it, fun experience. I also really enjoyed Andrew’s piece on Miracle Messages for Ethos 03, as I’m one of those people who cries at videos on Facebook of people being reunited, no matter how tenuous the link.
Outside of work I have been fascinated with fake news, like most of us have. Although the implications and practice of such things are horrible and disgusting, I believe you still have to try and find the humour in them otherwise we’d all crack. I just imagine we’re in a Chris Morris sketch come true, rather than a draft for the next series of Black Mirror. I mean, we’re living in a world where the President of the USA can openly call countries ‘shitholes’ and we’re not even surprised anymore. It’s terrifying and appalling, but you’ve got to laugh at the utter absurdity of it, mainly as a coping mechanism, but I digress.
Lucy C: For me, my favourite work-related story for 2017 would have to be publishing Ethos magazine. We launched Ethos online in 2015, always with the plan to create a print magazine, and in 2017 that became a reality. February saw our inaugural edition of Ethos hit the shelves, and in that first edition sits my favourite story so far – the story of Parley for the Oceans. Parley for the Oceans is a collective of artists, scientists, environmental experts, activists and actors who have united for a common cause: highlighting the dangers of ocean plastic pollution and transforming the world’s watery waste into new products for consumers, whilst campaigning to eradicate single-use plastic from the supply chain. At the helm of Parley for the Oceans is Cyrill Gutsch; passionate and determined to get the ocean plastic pollution problem to the fore, Cyrill has spoken at UN summits and travels the world highlighting the danger of plastics to our environment. I organised an interview with Cyrill for issue one of Ethos, and the story of Parley for the Oceans graced the cover of our first magazine.
2017 was a really important year for many different reasons; and an especially important year for women. 2017 might have given Donald Trump POTUS, but it gave women impetus. As much as Trump might have tried to silence Hillary Clinton in election debates – the female voice is having a moment. Not necessarily for all of the right reasons. In the wake of the election and the accusations made by women against Trump, alongside his bids to defund Planned Parenthood, and the break of the Weinstein scandal in Hollywood – women’s bodies have been brought to the fore, and the question has been raised about what it actually means to be a woman in the 21st century. One of the stories to come out over the past year is the gender pay gap, and the incredulous difference between male and female pay packets, most notably so in Hollywood. When Mark Wahlberg is making $1.5 million for the same amount of work that Michelle Williams is earning $80 a day for, something’s not right. The ‘Me Too’ and ‘Time’s Up’ campaigns have garnered the attention of the world, and have united women across the continents in solidarity against inequality. In 2017 I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Claire Wasserman, founder of Ladies Get Paid – a global support network for women in work – encouraging women to reach their full potential in the workplace, and fight for equal pay. It’s these groups that are so very important to the progression of gender equality worldwide; women are their most powerful when they support one another, and I think that 2017 saw a shift in the right direction.