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London Lab #3, Tuesday 24th May

The Girl Effect.

What an evening we had at our latest London Lab on Tuesday 24th May. We talked dreamy visions and tips on how-to have an unashamed optimism of ambition – …seeing what this means for real when girls determine their own past, present and futures here in London and across the world.

Howard Taylor, the Director of the Girl Effect, explained how his organisation lives with ‘crazy, ludicrous’ ambition every day. They don’t see the quarter of a billion girls living in poverty across the globe as the problem; they see girls as the solution – not only for themselves but for generations to come. They have the potential to lift entire communities and countries out of poverty. It doesn’t take much convincing. If the girls in poverty in India were able to choose their own futures, like when they marry and have children, it’s estimated $100 billion or more could be added to the country’s economy. Global advocacy efforts and resources have improved over the past few years: ‘gender equality and empower all women and girls’ is number 5 on the list of the international Sustainable Development Goals. However, what really matters, Howard urged, is that: ‘the girl has to belief in herself’.

Enter our project pitchers…

First up, Alice Wroe the creator of Herstory. She’s re-writing women back in to history. The project uses feminist art and participatory practices to engage people of all genders and all ages in women’s history. For those lucky enough to take part, it provides an alternative history that helps you develop new ways to understand the world and find your place in it. Alice runs the project in her spare time. She started Herstory 3 years ago for kids in school. She’s since discovered Herstory works just as well with adults. Now, Alice is ready to make Herstory bigger: she’d like to share it, capture and promote Herstory online, nail the money bit, and develop a methodology allowing more people to deliver Herstory. The London community rallied behind Alice and her asks for @Herstory_uk

Next up, Charlie George, a self-confessed stress-head, who’s using her own life experience as a force for good. Luminitsa is Charlie’s solution for everyone, who like her, would like to take some control back in this loud, busy, overstimulated, sometimes confusing and increasingly stressful world of ours. Luminitsa is an online, outdoor community centre designed as ‘a safety net’ and a preventative space offering tools, strategies and support when it comes to our physical health, mental health and environmental health. It draws on a network of freelance professionals and specialists in the fields of Yoga, Fitness, Psychology, Philosophy, Massage & Horticulture. Luminitsa is at a very early stage of development, so Charlie was looking to test the water around what would make us join Luminitsa – and what would stop us? She’s also looking for new contacts and partners for Luminitsa, as well as advice on the business model, funding and Luminitsa online. The day after Charlie said: ‘I was pretty terrified and it felt a bit like a dream, but I woke up this morning to all this amazing feedback/support/contacts/critical thinking on my idea and turns out it’s real, and the wheels are in motion… #thefutureisoptimistic’

It was a privilege to see the girl effect come to life through @Herstory and Luminitsa. Alice and Charlie show what’s possible when girls with determination and optimism create ambitious, inclusive projects that help us own our stories and our wellbeing. The LOPO community offered insight, connections, plenty of advice and lots of enthusiasm in support of the girls and their fantastic projects, proving the magic of serendipity once again.

We also had Olivia, one of our regular London LOPOers, tells us what the future means to her, more good news and updates from our previous project pitchers. At Lab #2, Graham from The Honest Loaf got the feedback he needed to look beyond franchising their social enterprise and start doing it!

It’s wonderful to see what LOPO has to offer when we get involved with projects that are bigger than us. We’re building the kind of future we want to see – because we’re prepared to make it! As Howard quoted: ‘we are the people we’ve been waiting for’. At LOPO Lab #3 that could not have been more true.

A huge thank you to everyone who was there ‪#goingLOPO. It was an inspirational night.