Take 5 - 10 minutes to share your thoughts around Ocean Literacy...

I'm also working with Wild Labs at the moment. In advance of two 2 day design sprints in London and Bristol to prototype some solutions to 'save our seas' we are gathering perspectives from people across the UK to discover what does Ocean Literacy mean to you... Please take a moment to complete the survey, it shouldn't take 5-10 minutes of your time and would be really important to us. Click the image below. 

Thanks!! 

Civic partners and all the acronyms

So you may have read in my CV and Work about my work with Civic. I've been there for two months now and am loving it and have learned so much. It's challenging, interesting work and I feel very humbled to be working with the international team all trying to make change 'cheaper, better and faster' - that's their mantra. 

We (Civic) built a digital platform to help people from around the world share their learnings and collaborate on models of social change.

We're testing it at the moment with a network of communities who are all working in disaster-affected areas - from the Syrian refugee situation in Jordan, the droughts of Northern Kenya, the slums of the Philippines to Bangladesh. In each of these countries is a wild and wilful team of folks who have set up innovation labs to help the local community develop their ideas, prototype solutions to whatever challenges they face and scale them up. We would like to see the labs uploading their process and methodology and the communities sharing what they have done and how they have done it all with the hope of replicating these models in other countries worldwide. 

They are called DEPP Innovation Labs (Acronym 1 - Disaster and Emergency Preparedness Program) which is a 3-year project with Start Network and CDAC Network (Acronym 2 - Communicating with Disaster Affected Communities) who are at the help. ThoughtWorks is the innovation partner and RIL (Acronym 3 - Response Innovation Lab) are also part of the process. Each lab has it's own partners too - from the IRC (Acronym 4- International Rescue Committee) to Adeso to Plan International. So there are many many partners and stakeholders to consider, plus the vast and diverse community themselves! It's quite mind boggling really!

My job has been to onboard the community, develop a content strategy, curate content that the labs will find helpful, and basically do whatever I can to help the platform to become a diverse place to source solutions from. 

Yesterday I was in London meeting with the team who are working on this project, and Start Network has their office at Save The Children -it was quite fascinating being in a space like that and getting to glimpse into that organisation as well. 

 

A timeline of the last year

This one most definitely goes down as the biggest year for me yet in terms of learnings, travel, relationships and work. I've been to Portugal, Cornwall and Devon, cycled to Edinburgh, cycled to Copenhagen (solo in Feb), completed Ironman Wales and the 90 mile Velothon in Cardiff, ran a 36 mile ultramarathon with my friend Zennor in Austria, moved house three times, worked with 5 different jobs, went back and forth to Pembrokeshire like a yo-yo and went to three beautiful weddings. My grandpa passed away last month, my friends have had babies and gotten pregnant and my sister got engaged. I've also been to gigs and concerts including Matthew and The Atlas, Michael McIntyre, Van Morrison and The White Buffalo, done courses in Photoshop, pottery, joined a choir, kickboxing and been to two different dance clubs - Afrodance fusion and a swing dance intensive course.

I've made a bit of a habit of reflecting on the year that's been on New Year's Eve. And this year was no different. 31.12.17. Fresh start tomorrow and 2018 brings plans for many more exciting adventures, more weddings, more triathlons, new work, exploring a side project, spending more weekends with friends and family plus I've signed up for a level 4 diploma in holistic massage too. 

I put my photoshop skills and memory to the test and took a trip down memory lane, this is the result! 


Moments that made my 2017, made by me on NYE 31.12.17 

that time I went to Bangalore for work

Two weeks into my new job working with Civic I found myself waking up in Indiranaga in the heart of the urban Indian sprawl Bangalore or Bengaluru. I was there for just 4 nights, there to listen to some amazing stories of work in the humanitarian sector - specifically around disaster and emergency provisions in The Phillipines, Kenya, Bangladesh and Jordan, but also to deliver a one hour session on who Civic are, what they do and how the digital platform our team has created will help them to better collaborate and share their models of positive social change so they can be replicated across the sector and beyond.

 

 

now working with Civic

They write about themselves:

Civic is a change accelerator. We bring together unlikely allies, people-powered ideas and shared assets to help make social change happen faster, cheaper, better in places around the world.. We're a fledgling, ambitious, start-up - more a movement than an organization. We are currently operating projects in Nepal, Afghanistan, Jordan, Turkey and the UK. And we actively partner with local and global operators to deliver our work.

They have a simple website civic.co to describe their work - check it out, it'll take you just 5 minutes to read. =  ) 

My role is the Digital Community Manager and I am working remotely from Bristol with the occasional trip to London doing 2.5 days a week. My role, as laid out by them is to: 

• Manage a growing and dynamic group of users on the Civic platform • Split focus on communities associated with partners/sponsors and organic users • Input into platform strategy with a focus on community growth and platform development

And it's going well. I'm now about one month into the new job and am learning lots. Apart from my digital work with Good For nothing, The Wild Network and TYF, plus building my site here, I'm fairly new to the digital space. That said my community management and development experience has spanned lots of different industry's - from retail at finisterre, hospitality at surf simply, community engagement and support through good for nothing, events at unreasonable and do lectures - so I'm excited to see how this physical community building will translate across to the digital space - likely to include many of the same values of building trust, being authentic, listening and communicating effectively and often, allowing a space that people can open up in an honest and helpful way... being kind, being generous, experimenting, rapid prototyping solutions, and embarking on a learning journey. 

Our users aren't on boarded yet but will be in the next few weeks, so I'm looking forward to working with that community to get them using the platform and helping us to make it better.

And as always, like most millennials, it's important to me to do work that matters. I am incredibly passionate about the work Civic are doing - essentially aligning with their belief that we can make positive change much faster if we work together, and in doing so share what we are learning along the way so others can benefit from what's been done before. They do that through their place-based work, their digital platforms including impact measurement, ecosystem mapping and this collaboration for innovation tool and capital. 

Providing I pass my 3 mont probation I'll still be there this time next year, so expect to hear more on the Civic stuff soon! 

 

I'm an Ironman (x 2)

Last Sunday was the toughest physical endurance challenge of my life. 

Two years ago I flew to sunny Mexico and competed in my first Ironman - on the island of Cozumel. It was 35 degrees, flat and windy. Shortly after I finished it, I decided I'd one day like to complete Ironman Wales in my home county of Pembrokeshire. So on a winters evening in January this year me and my best mate Jo signed up for the race. Along with my husband Ross and my little sister Jaz. The four of us didn't quite know what we had got ourselves in for but trained hard, with grit, tears, sweat and blood. This determination got us to the finish line last Sunday but not without a battle on our hands. 

The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.
— Isak Dinesen

In classic Pembrokeshire style we were treated to a colourful forecast to say the least.

 

Throughout the day we experienced gusts of up to 40 mph from the WSW (head wind to Angle and tail wind to Narberth) an horizontal rain. There were oil spills and other challenges along the way - in the chaos of transition I left my swimming ear plugs in for the first 10 miles, on the 2nd loop of the 112 mile bike I got a flat tyre which I sorted but without co2 or a track pump didn't get the pressure above 50psi... and I threw down ibuprofen and paracetamol to ease the pain of my left IT band on the marathon.  Although I did my first Ultra in June, my self inflicted knee injury meant that for the 5 weeks leading up to Ironman I didn't run more than 7 miles. Not ideal in preparing for a marathon. 

They say if you finish between 11pm and midnight then you finish in heroes hour because you have been going the longest. Our race started at 7am and I crossed the finish line after 16 hours and 6 minutes... at 11:05pm which I guess makes me a hero??! Nice. I was pretty beat coming into the 'Athletes Village' and was treated to a 10 min sports massage which I could have enjoyed all night, a hot chocolate, a slice of pizza and a hug from Ross and eventually my sister too. 

Our fans lined the course in most villages we passed on the bike ride. Seeing familiar faces peppered between crowds of strangers all shouting "Go Alice Go, you got this, you're going to be an ironman, well done Alice, keep pushing Alice, nearly there Alice, one more lap Alice.... Alice Beese You Are An Ironman".... it was all super awesome. 

Why did I do it? You don't get many opportunities in life where you push yourself really, really hard. Most things come easy and you float along on the comfortable day to day hum drum of life. When you sign up for something like this all your free time goes into training - morning sessions in the pool, long days on the bike and short, medium and long runs - sometimes fast sometimes steady. You work so hard for something and then you test what your body can achieve - and if you let it, it will often do much more than you might ever have imagined possible. 

So much of the Ironman journey is a mental one - and 15% of the competitors didn't finish the race last Sunday, not surprising given it's the 10th toughest Ironman course in the world and the worst conditions they've seen in the 7 year history. Still I made it to the finish line with 55 minutes to spare before the midnight cut off and felt so proud to receive my medal - couldn't bear the weight of it though what with the rash on my neck from the swim and my weary legs. 

 

Mohit Mamoria wrote  Are You Who You Think You Are. I think it's pretty bang on article to make that enquiry into who we are, not by definition of our jobs. 

A wise man asks three bricklayers what they are doing. One says, “I am laying bricks.” Another says, “I am building a wall.” The third one says, “I am building the cathedral.”

Also from the article my favourite quote of all time: 

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” ― Dr. Seuss

And this beautiful gem: 

You are a story, yet to unfold,
You are a book, yet to be told,
You are a pot, before it’s mould,
You might be just a rock perhaps,
Just a rock? Yes, but a rock of gold.

I'm going to be making that very same enquiry into myself over the last year of my 20's. Yesterday I turned 29 and will be writing some memoirs of the last three decades and plans for the future over the coming weeks and months as we close 2017. 

 

Alive

Alive

A short story from Spoken* 


 

We busted out the door, catching my left pedal and my right handlebar simultaneously on the white wooden frame, chipping off some flaky old white paint. They’ll touch it up again before the next tenant moves in this winter. Minutes later we are flying down Park Street at approximately 30mph despite the speed limit being 10 notches lower. There’s a bump from a stone and a slight swerve as we dodge a reversing taxi. She's late for her yoga class. Yoga?! Doesn’t she know Ironman is “all about the bike”. Those 112 miles won’t come easy next month - and they are only part of it. I mean don’t get me wrong, we’ve done some decent rides lately, but I don’t see how lying in Savasana or doing Pigeon is going to get us up Saundersfoot Hill.  We dodged the pedestrians and potholes with grace carving from left to right before shortcutting through the arch where the jagged cobblestones cut into my tyres.

We came to a sharp stop and she locked me securely to a black pole embedded securely in the concrete. I look around casually scanning the environment... looks like his chain was last seen silver in the 90s. Another with stickers plastered from his bars to his saddle, when he grows old they’ll peel and then he’ll regret it.

Alice fumbled with the keys and for the hundredth time, I hear her cursing under her breath about replacing that fiddly old lock. Still it does the trick and she patted my saddle and does the Schwarzenegger  ‘I’ll be back!’.

She scurried down the street with her 5yr old pink yoga mat - a thoughtful wellbeing wedding gift protruding from her globe trotting Ortlieb Pannier. Swinging her unusual handbag she bounded up the stairs two at a time, and sat seated with 30 seconds to spare. She was sweating before the class even had began and attempted the calm and collected posture on the front of her mat alongside the other yogis in deep meditation.

Outside I am rudely woken from my own meditation as an unfamiliar hand touched my handlebars and stroked my saddle. My stomach churned as I heard the boys talking about my frame disrespectfully. They sniggered, jeering each other on and began to crowd around me.

“Get your hands off me!” I screamed to no avail.

They cut the wire holding me to that metal pole like it was a piece of thread. My safety belt. My lifeline to Alice. Gone in seconds. I was alone now. Their sweaty palms took me down an unknown street. People around were happily chatting, blissfully unaware of the nightmare unfolding before their eyes. I was totally powerless. We arrived at the home of the chubby one with the baseball cap. They cut my trusted Quadlock holder that had helped direct us to Copenhagen, unvelcroed my survival toolkit from under my saddle, stripping me down bit by bit. They don’t know who I am or the roads I’ve been down. And then they began to unscrew my my bottle cage. My mind was firing uncontrollably on what was coming next. Is this my fate?

“Let’s take it to Dave’s and get ‘im to spray ‘er that matt orange, like the job he done last week”

I felt the fresh air on my frame, cooling with me, with a sense of hope and even better escape. The banter continued.

Then, I was spotted by a man on the corner who looked me up and down. He walked directly for us.

Hey lads, give me that bike, it’s mine”. Said the man with the mohican.

I’m NOT yours!” I cried.

No chance pal, it’s my mates”. Replied the scrawny legs.

“It’s not your mates. You either give it to me now for £35 or I’m calling the cops”.

£35 later and I was with the mohican walking back the opposite way. We got to his house. I quietly leant against a grimy wall in his kitchen and watched cautiously as he typed away, scheming something on his laptop. It seemed like days passed and I fell into a deep dream where I was back cruising down the Oregon coastline headed for Mexico, until he stepped outside on the phone. I couldn’t quite make out the distant chatter from my spot by the smelly fridge.

Then he wheeled me outside, climbed on top of me, heavy and all off balance. He rode me no more than three blocks before we arrived outside what looked like an Adult Shop. A3 Posters sellotaped to the door and neon yellow signs saying Adults Only, No U18’s…. Oh my god no. How embarrassing. Inside there were Asian Porn Mags, Handcuffs, Cockstops and Dwarfs Doing Doggy on DVD. It was filthy. I never thought I’d be seen dead in a shop like this. I shut my eyes and tried to go back to the Highway 1, trying to create a positive mindset, rather than the real fear that I’d be used as a prop in their next movie.

Then the front door to the shop slowly opened and a familiar face peeked around the door….

“Alice it’s you! I can’t believe it’s you! I’m Alive, I’m Alive!!!” I cried out from Dildo corner.  

She looked at me like, oh boy what a crazy adventure. After she'd paid him back the £35, we left the shop bars in hand and on arriving home she took my picture against the bushes, like a soldier back from war, and began to tell the world about my escapades on Instagram and Facebook. Inside the house I met her new bike - just two days old, blue and full of pride, gleaming in the evening light in my spot under the paintings in the hall. I couldn’t quite believe she had replaced me so quickly. I’d only been gone four days. And then to discover I had been demoted from Ironman as well - that was a double blow. Still, New Blue will never be able to take away the memories we have shared together.

The following Thursday a heavy package arrived in the post from Halfords. It was a new lock sent by her best mate.

Hopefully this’ll keep you out of trouble” she said, as she looped it around my frame.

I know one thing for certain. I’m happy to be alive.


*Spoken is going to be a book written by my bike.

This is the first draft of the first piece of writing that may or may not turn into a book. 

Comments below please!!! 

 

 

On Marriage....

I love hand-making cards for friends.

Sadly I don't do it much these days because of training etc but one day hope to have a little studio where I can do this all day. 

When you open up the blinds on the front of the card, the truth about marriage is revealed in the form of a quote from renowned philosopher and best selling author Alain De Botton. 

It's from his book called The Course of Love and it reads: 

Marriage: a hopeful, generous, infinitely kind gamble taken by two people who don’t know yet who they are or who the other might be, binding themselves to a future they cannot conceive of and have carefully omitted to investigate.
— Alain De Botton

This was the card that went with their Peace Lily and Painting of the Peace Lily. 

For anyone who has loved, is in love or hopes to be in love > Watch: Alain's talk On Love.... Please watch it. 

Eat. Work. Train. Socialize. Sleep. Repeat. (Jan - September)

Back in January I signed up to do my second Ironman. 

I did my first Ironman in Cozumel, Mexico in November 2015. You can read about that here.

This one is in one month. Well it was a month yesterday. The count down is on. Training is at it's peak. Over the weekend I ate a whole banana bread loaf that I baked on Friday. You wouldn't believe the food I'm putting down. 

Swim 2.4 miles, bike 11 miles and run 26.2 miles. It will be hilly and hopefully the weather will be on our side. Here's the video teaser for it. 36 seconds long.