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Every March, hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world flock to Austin, Texas (USA) to take part in the South by Southwest film, interactive and music festival. SXSW Interactive, which focuses on emerging technology, is a breeding ground for new ideas and cutting edge innovations. With the ever-growing presence of the fashion and tech communities at SXSW Interactive, a new addition to the conference line up is SXStyle, a platform for creatives to come together, innovative and celebrate the industry. Exploring the complex ties between fashion, art, culture and technology, SXstyle features five days of panel discussions, networking opportunities, and evening events touching on topics like wearable tech, 3D printing, innovative design, the future of retail, virtual sizing, and more.

Click here to read more via Youth Time Magazine..

Check out my latest article for European based, Youth Time Magazine on the next tech craze.. smart connected objects that help you care for yourself and your loved ones a little better.

At heart, human beings have a set of unchanging, fundamental needs and wants. We want to be healthy, safe and feel connected to our loved ones. In our increasingly technocentric society, today’s consumers are embracing products, services and experiences that unlock new ways of fulfilling our most vital needs. The result? Smart objects that put people first.

Click here to read more..

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Joi M. Sears, the Creative Director of Free People International was recently featured on Creative Exchange: Springboard for the Arts, a new national platform for storytelling and resource-sharing around artists, creativity & community.

Click here to check out the article.

I am excited to participate in this year’s Rhodes Youth Forum on behalf of our social enterprise, Free People International!

The Rhodes Youth Forum 2014 (RYF) will bring together more than 100 motivated and proactive young individuals, speakers, and prominent experts from approximately 50 countries.This year the organizer International Movement “Youth Time” (YT) and its partners will celebrate the Fifth Anniversary of the Forum.

Selected attendees will come from diverse backgrounds: social enterprise, non-profits, business enterprises, social activists, journalists and media workers, artists, young researchers, and simply outstanding students. Forum expects young representatives from Nepal, Russian Federation, Republic of Moldova, Armenia, India, USA, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of Macedonia, Indonesia, Lithuania, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia, Tunis, Ukraine, Vietnam, Philippines, Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Trinidad and Tobago, Sri Lanka, France and other countries.

The Forum will take place on Rhodes Island, Greece 25-29 September 2014 at the Amathus Rhodes Hotel. The general topic of the Forum is: “Positive participation of young people in the life of society: from individual initiatives to collective cooperation”.

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Aims of the RYF 2014 are to develop the network of young leaders and youth-led organizations, help their initiatives to get recognition and credibility and to strengthen their capacities in various fields of life.

The working days of the Forum will embrace various formats: youth-led projects presentations, interactive workshops, plenary sessions, and interviews with honorable guests. Cultural program events with informal activities and socializing will supplement the working part of the event.

The Forum will start with the opening plenary session on the evening of September 25th. To welcome all the participants, some of our honorable guests will make speeches. The winners of the previous RYF sessions who have been awarded with financial grants for implementation of their projects will present their results.

Youth Time Movement aims at uniting young people with tendencies towards proactive behavior, ready to take action and implement the gained knowledge and experience in the creation of a better world for our children and ourselves. A considerable part of the Forum will be dedicated to the presentation of the youth-led projects. Young leaders from all over the world will present their own initiatives and share their personal intellectual efforts in the following fields:

1. Modern Learning Environment
2. Youth Diplomacy and International Relations
3. Social Entrepreneurship

The “Modern Learning Environment” section embraces projects aimed at changing and improving the education system as a whole, and other factors which influence the process of education. Projects aimed at nurturing culture and the spirit of learning and teaching in everyday life.

Projects submitted for the “Youth Diplomacy and International Relations” section aimed atidentifying and changing the role of youth in harmonizing international relations; enriching relationships among the younger generation in acute conflict zones; and involving youth as an active part of developing trust, preventing wars and mutual understanding processes.

“Social Entrepreneurship” section will gather together representatives from different countries who aim to address social problems with business technologies and to develop institutional and human capacities to support youth- led social entrepreneurship.

Interview with the guest on the topic “How to Sell an Idea” will close the second working day.
27th of September will start with the General Workshop “Information Warfare” with experts from the media sphere. After this participants will be offered to pick and take part in one of the three special workshops:

• Living in a Digital World and Embracing the Future of Technology
• How to Pursue your Dreams
• Human Based Education

General Workshop: “Global Roadmap of Youth Initiatives 2021: Occupation of the Future” is aimed at orientating young people in different possible directions in their participation in the process of changing the world for the better. This session will continue the work that started two years ago. There, attendees will analyze how the sphere of employment, jobs and other types of occupation can evolve in the next 10 years.

With the help of this workshop we will try to address the following questions: what new kinds of youth occupation can appear in the future, what threats, important events, possible scenarios, trends, and crossroads that should be considered for understanding of what is going on with youth employment today?

A general meeting in the format of an interview with the guest will close the third working day.
28th of September will be conducted jointly with the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations”. The joint plenary session together with WPF participants will find out the perspectives of intergenerational dialogue for reaching a better, more sustainable and peaceful future.

RYF 2014 will have versatile media support. Besides the work of the journalists from various media, the Forum’s events will be covered by YT Facebook page, which has more than 18,000 followers, YT twitter channel, and real time online video broadcast.

As always, I am interested in disseminating the invaluable information that comes out of the forum to our amazing network of creatives and world changers. Not only will I be blogging throughout the conference addressing key points, but we are also in the process of developing an interactive toolkit for other young artists/activists, educators, social/creative entrepreneurs, community organizers and those who are just interested in making the world a better place. We are dedicating an entire chapter to finding, applying and funding international opportunities so if you are interested in this, be sure to like us on Facebook to be the first to know about this exciting project.

Be Love.

Joi

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We’re excited to present a panel titled, “Growing A New Generation of Green Leaders” at this year’s SXSW ECO conference in Austin Texas

Monday October 6th | 11:45 AM – 12:45 PM

#NextGenEco

Youth activism is at the crux of the creative strategies and solutions challenging society to think differently across disparities in education, economic, social and environmental equity. But to get them equipped, you first have to get them engaged.

This discussion brings together the voices of leaders that are creatively infusing problem-solving and organizing strategies as levers to push the envelope. As innovators and big thinkers, these individuals aren’t after the victor’s race, instead they are immersing themselves into the work of growing and equipping the next generation of green leaders to help solve society’s most pressing issues.

OUR “GREEN IS THE NEW GANGSTA” PROJECT IS AMONG THE FINALISTS FOR THE WORLD SUMMIT YOUTH AWARD 2014;


A global jury has selected the best 85 youth digital projects from around the world addressing the UN Millennium Development Goals.

The World Summit Youth Award (WSYA) has announced the 85 shortlisted project of its seventh edition and our “Green is the New Gangsta” project is among them.

The “Green is the New Gangsta” Project fuses online and offline action in an effort to spread awareness about important environmental issues, promote a more eco-conscious, ethical lifestyle, and inspire collective, creative action. It consists of five platforms, seamlessly working together to be a driving force behind environmental change: a community based arts programming and education project, a green consulting initiative, a crowdfunding platform, an e(co)-commerce platform and a fully integrated social marketing campaign.

The competition was fierce in 2014. 1896 users from 138 UN countries have applied. Under the guidance of Prof. Peter A. Bruck Chairman of the WSYA board, the Jury of international experts will select the 18 winners and 12 runners-up of the WSYA 2014.

Next Step: Winners’ Ceremony and WSYA Congress in Brazil

In a second round of evaluation, the “Green is the New Gangsta” project has the chance to be selected as an outstanding contribution to the achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals through online creations. Hosted by the Humanitare Foundation, the winners’ ceremony will be held November 28th to December 1th, 2014 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. This event will feature world-class keynote speeches, hands-on workshops and engaging panel discussions about social entrepreneurship and the content industry. Who will join the winners’ event will be announced at the end of August 2014.

Six categories to spark innovation and change the world

All products in the WSYA contest –websites, mobile applications and media platforms– are being evaluated for their contribution to the achievements of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and their capability to harness the power of technology for social improvement. The products were separated in 6 categories: Fight Poverty, Hunger and Disease, Education for All, Power 2 Women, Create your Culture, Go Green and Pursue Truth.
The complete list of all finalists can be found at www.youthaward.com

About the award

Established in 2005, The World Summit Youth Award (WSYA) is a leading international competition honoring excellence on the use of Internet for social empowerment. As an annual contest it seeks to motivate young people under the age of thirty to actively contribute to the achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. The MDGs were set in 2000 by the UN to prompt member states and civil society to fight poverty, hunger and disease, inequalities, lack of education and environmental degradation.

We’re gearing up to launch our new eco-fashion campaign which will inspire fashion lovers everywhere to be more conscious about the choices we make as consumers. In addition to community based arts programming, workshops, events, panel discussions etc. that address the concept of Environmental Justice, we will create a series of Eco-Fashion lookbooks to be distributed online. We hope to prove that eco-fashion is not just for granola eating hipsters and people that wear socks with sandals, but a movement which promotes an ethical lifestyle for Free People everywhere.

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1. Tapered Boyfriend Jeans

by Henry & Belle

Ethically made in Chicago, these Tapered Boyfriend Jeans offer a slimmer and more feminine take on the traditional boyfriend jean. Dress them up with a pair of super high pumps, or be comfy in a cute pair of flats. ($172.00)

2. Pima V-neck Tee
by: Ever/After

This super soft white tee has a deep v-neck and adds a feminine touch to this bold blue look. ($38.00)

3.  Out of the Blue Necklace
by: Knotty Girl

Feeling extra Knotty? Not a problem when you’re wearing this Out of the Blue necklace, a bold and complex original knot that is as lightweight as it is stunning.

This item is ethically handmade in New York. ($145.00)

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4. Royal Blue Backpack

by: Baggu

Long gone are the days of plastic, boxy backpacks heavy with keychains. The backpack has made a comeback and it is lightweight, convenient, and even stylish. This recycled cotton canvas version looks breezy and cute paired with a simple sundress or some denim cutoffs.

Features a hidden side zipper pocket with cell phone inner pocket, secure and easily accessed by user while backpack is being worn. Matte silver hardware, and tuck clasp closure on top flap. Reinforced bottom boot and taped seams for added durability. Grommeted drawstring top closure makes cinching bag easy.

 Adjustable straps and interior pocket. Comfortably holds a 13” laptop.

Ethically manufactured in China. ($42.00)

5. Norbert Ear Cuff
by: George & Laurel

Ear cuffs have been around for centuries, but they have just taken on a new and exciting life. Now they’re the ultimate fashion statement, and the Norbert Ear Cuff is no exception. Features 5 small tear shaped crystals arranged in an arc that makes for a mesmerizing accent to any ensemble.

14k Matte Gold Plating. Ethically made in Los Angeles ($100.00)

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All of the items listed below are available via Modavanti + Roozt. Be sure to check out some of their other awesome sustainable fashion items.

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I was recently contacted by the lovely people at Brilliant Earth and asked to create a series of looks incorporating their conflict-free/ethical/eco-friendly jewelry line. I was overjoyed, as I am a huge fan of their brand and their mission to cultivate a more ethical, transparent, and sustainable jewelry industry. So.. in the spirit of #allgreeneverything I assembled these looks featuring all eco-conscious designers and brands. It is my hope to inspire fashion lovers everywhere to be more conscious about the choices we make as consumers. Check out the looks and “if you like it then be sure to put a pin on it” (see what I did there…)

Brilliant Earth Minimalist

1.  Tuxedo Jacket by H&M  |  2.  18K White Gold Luna Ring by Brilliant Earth  |  3.  Slim-Fit Pants by H&M  |  4.   Pachacuti Hat (via Master & Muse)  |  5.  Black and White Woven Top by H&M  |  6.  Elizabeth Smoking Slipper by Cri de Coeur (via Modavanti)  [USE CODE: FREEPEOPLEINTL for 15% discount]  |  7.  18 K White Gold Fairminded Bar Pendant by Brilliant Earth

Brilliant Earth Look 2

1.  “Ode to all Activists” Tee by Doortje Vintage (Amsterdam)  |  2.  Slim Fit Pants by H&M  |  3.  18K White Gold Round Diamond Stud Earrings by Brilliant Earth  |  4.  Biker Jacket by H&M  |  5.  Rogue Moto Boot by Cri de Coeur (use code: FREEPEOPLEINTL for 15% OFF)  |  6.  Pimms Nail Lacquer by Butter London  |  7.  18K White Gold Fairminded 2mm Comfort Fit Wedding Ring by Brilliant Earth  |  8. Wink Mascara in Union Jack Black by Butter London

Click here to learn more about H&M’s Sustainability efforts.

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Vivien DressLeighton Dress by FROCK LA (via Modavanti) [USE CODE: FREEPEOPLEINTL for 15% discount]  |  18K White Gold Pave Eclipse Diamond Earrings + 18K White Gold Pave Diamond Infinity Pendant + 18K White Gold Sienna Diamond Ring by Brilliant Earth  |  Margaret Vegan Velvet Platform Pumps by Cri de Coeur

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Free People International’s Creative Director, Joi Sears was recently featured in City Beat Newspaper in an article titled: Art as Activism by Maria Seda-Reeder:

Cincinnati needs people like Joi Sears.  

 The twentysomething actor/activist moved back to her hometown, Cincinnati, about a year ago after spending nearly a decade in New York and months — if not years, collectively — traveling abroad. She returned with the long-term goal of building a “creative place-making project” in Over-the-Rhine for artists to gather. But for now she’ll settle for running interactive workshops that empower artists and creatives of all stripes to use their talents for positive social change.

Sears has some serious experience engaging diverse communities of participants — sometimes willing, sometimes circumstantial — in reflecting their cultures back at themselves via events, workshops and performances around the world with her organization, Free People International.

A graduate of Marymount Manhattan College’s acting program and New York University’s Gallatin School of Independent Studies, where Sears studied arts and social change, she believes that art as an educational tool has the potential to change the world. Sears has run workshops with women prisoners in Brazil, assisted with girls’ empowerment programs in Africa and organized an interdisciplinary arts festival in the Netherlands — all with the hope of affecting positive social transformation.

The non-traditional community educator specializes in a formal theater technique called the Theater of the Oppressed, which blurs the line between education and art. Instead of a teacher/student, actor/audience binary, participants in Theatre of the Oppressed are encouraged to learn and explore issues together. This theatrical method, established by Brazilian director, writer and politician Augusto Boal, aims to break down assumed hierarchies by engaging audience members and encouraging them to become a “spect-actor” in the play. 

The theatrical tools for participation and communication Boal developed were so powerful at social transformation that he was kidnapped and tortured by his country’s military regime in the early ’70s and forced to live in exile for five years. 

Sears had the chance to study with Boal shortly before his death in 2009 and she says it changed her life.

After he coaxed her from the back of the classroom, she says, “I began to think of the ways I was oppressing myself.” 

What was “really transformative” for Sears was learning that it’s possible to use theater to affect issues of social justice. “Historically, artists have always been at the forefront of political movements,” Sears says. “It’s only fitting we continue in that tradition and be responsible for the art we’re producing.”

 Click here to continue reading the article on City Beat…

 

Julia Cameron, speaks very candidly in her book “The Artists Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity” about several personality types to avoid while nurturing your inner Creator.

The most dangerous of these is the “crazymaker”, and this type of person should be avoided at all costs. We’ve all experienced a Crazymaker at some point in our lives, we may even have one in our life right now. Perhaps we have even been one ourselves *gasp*.

Crazymakers are those personalities that create storm centers. They are often charismatic, charming, highly inventive and powerfully persuasive but for the creative person in their vicinity, they are enormously destructive. You know the type: charismatic but out of control, long on problems and short on solutions.

Crazymakers are the kind of people who can take over your whole life. Crazymakers like drama. If they can swing it, they are the star. Everyone around them functions as a supportive cast, picking up their cues, their entrances and their exits, from the crazymaker’s (crazy) whims. Often larger than life, they acquire that status by feeding on the life energies of those around them. The crazymaking dynamic is grounded in power, and so any group of people can function as an energy system to be exploited and drained.  Crazymakers can be found in almost any setting, in almost any art form. Fame can help to create them, but since they feed on power, any power source will do.

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