From Edmonton to Madrid and New Orleans

From Art to Finance and Academia In October, World By Cycle are stepping out!

That’s right! We may not be stepping down on our peddles at the moment, but we are still out in the world. Currently mobilizing classroom participation, project awareness, alternative fun-ding and excitement – and stepping out of our comfort zone to connect with the diversity of human life.

Sunniva Vann, education designer for Ride To Learn, is currently in my hometown, Edmonton, Alberta. She will be presenting Ride To Learn with a solution focus and artistic perspective at the Pecha Kucha event facilitated by NextGen.

Sunniva Vann loves using graphic design, guerilla art, and other creative approaches to help educate the public about the myriad issues she hopes to change. She is the curriculum writer for Shoes and Sustainability, and is about to launch an innovative global guerrilla art competition!

Meanwhile, education designer Christina will be attending an academic forum in New Orleans, the Comparative International Education Society Conference on global imperatives and contested visions.

Her presentation will discuss the pedagogy of Ride To Learn amongst scholars and educators to consider the framework’s potential to engage and excite global learning. She will be in company of education designer Rakhat.

Rakhat takes breaks from her doctoral thesis to develop the Ride To Learn curriculum and specifically the upcoming unit from Central Asia, on the hungry T-Shirt. This unit will explore silk production, felt production, and the various impacts of organic and chemical cotton harvesting on the lives of people in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan.

In a couple weeks the entire team will be presenting at the Global Education Conference. This conference is designed to significantly increase opportunities for building education-related connections around the globe while supporting cultural awareness and recognition of diversity. This will be an excellent opportunity for you to learn more about how our program attempts to enrich, inspire, and engage.

Oh, right! You’re wondering about Madrid and what Nic and I are doing here! Well, Nic has been busy filming a conference that I have been a part of. Remember that video you all voted for, Funding a Global Adventure? Well, we were one of the 10 finalists, and part of that success involved a trip to Madrid to present at the SCIEF think tank on Islamic banking, ethical banking, and alternatives to banking!

After an extraordinary day collaborating and brainstorming in discussions and forums with thought-leaders in global finance and economics, we attended a final panel at the IE Business School.

Not long after the Islamic television media asked me to highlight the main differences between Islamic and ethical banking, a business student approached me with the idea to jointly initiate a health-focused banking institution in India. Right. Those of you who know me must be laughing out loud. Kristina, a banking expert!? Well, their perceptions might have something to do with the fact I was on the panel in front of hundreds of students and global banking experts. Of course they thought I, too, was from an ethical bank, along with my colleague from JAK Medlemsbank, and not a social educator riding her bike around the world!

The thing that I relearned again is that people are people. Economists and financial academics are people first, before their title. They are also parents, and teachers, cooks, and athletes. Just as a government does not define the people, an occupation does not define the person. I am hugely thankful for the out-of-box thinking the SCIEF organization put into this event. Their goal to gather groups of youth, academics, entrepreneurs, and innovators to discuss solutions in financing for a positive and lasting community impact was a success.

How often are we in social scenarios outside our bubble of social comfort? It was a humanizing experience for me and has had a deep effect on how I perceive my responsibilities in our global financial system.

I thought about it like this. There seems to be much talk about food in western social circles: organic and non-organic, fair trade products and going local. These are conversations people are comfortable with and can see where/how change can be made. However, who knows where their T-shirts and sneakers come from? Last year I realized I had NO IDEA about the chemicals, unjust labour, lack of ethics, and environmental devastation involved in my clothing and shoe purchases. I made a connection, a link between how I thought about food to how I thought about every commodity.

In Australia, we have something called superannuation that we pay into. I thought I was being a more humane individual by choosing an ethical plan over a conventional plan – one that was transparent about where they would invest my money. However, I never thought to think about my banking choices. How strange! I am part of our system; I am complicit in all decisions made because I have not asked any questions or sought information. Sure, I do not have much cash, but I do have some, and I just trusted the first bank I went to without any idea of what my savings support or how else my banking institution acquires assets.

Change starts with me. So, luckily I was just at the right forum, inclusive and enlightening, to direct me to look into banking options that reflect my values. Both Islamic and ethical banking systems have many virtues that I will explore before making my change. How exciting, all this choice most of us have. This financial forum has invigorated my sense that a positive future is ahead of us. Who’d have thunk?

Our team are all out of our comfort zone this month, sharing our project with groups of people we would otherwise not meet. Our passion and commitment is the constant and the connections made one step closer to our vision of a shared sustainable future. Enrich. Inspire. Engage. Join us and step out, too!

Check out the overview of snippets from my presentation during the competition.

If you find yourself inspired to get involved, we will be sending out new job-roles within our project soon! Contact us to learn about these opportunities.