Friday, 15 October 2010

Blog Action Day 2010: The Worth Of Water.

There is a saying that states, ‘We never know the worth of water ‘til the well is dry,’ and isn’t it true?

I think for many of us, the particular pressures of modern Western life; excelling in work assignments, arranging fun times with friends, or even deciding which dress is the most stylish, leave us overlooking the marvel that is this clear liquid that descends from the tap when I turn it, and into my glass.

However, what if that seemingly infinite supply of clean water should suddenly become inaccessible to me? I probably wouldn’t care so much about my outfit. I certainly wouldn’t be able to concentrate on work. It’s most likely I would be too unwell to go out with my friends. It is an often-heard cheerful truism that ‘water is the building block of life;’ but without it, we cannot aspire to much more than basic survival.

This is the reality for almost 1 billion people in the world. More people die from drinking contaminated water than from all forms of violence and war. 1.5 million children die every year from water-related diseases; a higher death toll than that from AIDS, measles and malaria combined. In Africa, women and children spend up to 10 hours per day collecting water, meaning that -even if they manage to remain healthy- education, play, work and self fulfilment are all but out of the question.

Blog Action Day is about drawing attention to these facts. Hopefully, the sheer number of both high-profile and relatively unknown blogs inspired by will raise awareness of a global, and preventable, problem. Most importantly, it might inspire people to action.

Of course, the aims of Blog Action Day also run parallel with the purpose of Red Button Design. The founding statements of the company were to design, produce and supply products for the humanitarian market, products that address the problems faced by the Developing World outlined in the UN’s Millenium Development Goals (MDGs).

Red Button prioritised our water solution ‘Midomo’ as we recognized the basic fact that without water to drink, the remaining MDGs; even shelter, sanitation, education and gender equality, all become secondary.

We are not martyrs. Red Button Design is not a charity, but a social enterprise that seeks to make a fair market profit in direct correlation to the benefit we can provide. For us, humanitarian goals, financial aspirations, and the proven utility of our products are all inextricably linked. After all, if we are not profitable our ability to effect sustained and meaningful change is severely capped.

Our ‘Midomo Bracelet’ Christmas campaign - a limited edition piece of jewellery by Alex Monroe that covers the cost of sending a Midomo to Africa- embodies this position. We are not about self-denial or guilt, but believe that modern and considered business models can mean that you ‘don’t have to change your life to change someone else’s’.

For me, the point is not that I shouldn’t worry over where the best night out is, the minutia of my grammar in an essay, or even the height of a heel on my shoe. However, I should absolutely remember that I am in a privileged position where I can take the basics of survival for granted, and that I have a duty to others who are not.

For that reason, my ‘blogger action’ shall be to ask for a Midomo Bracelet for Christmas. It will celebrate the fact that I have aspirations, give credence to an emerging, ‘win win’ model of enterprise and, by giving the most basic gift of safe, clean water to another person, it will enable that person to have aspirations too.

Sophie Orbaum,
Red Button Design,

Friday, 8 October 2010

Red Button Design's Midomo Bracelet - Social Vision 2010

Red Button Design's newest venture The Midomo Bracelet needs 2 mins of your time!

Please Click Here to submit your email voting for us in the following competition..

Triodos Bank, the Social Enterprise Coalition and the regional social enterprise networks of England are working together to run Social Vision 2010: business at its best – the annual national social enterprise photography competition. (Our submission is the thumbnail above.)

The amazing prize on offer is:
• £750 cash
• an entry ticket for two people to Voice 11.
• a year's free associate membership to the Social Enterprise Coalition
• a year's free subscription to Social Enterprise magazine as well as £1000 worth of print advertising in Social Enterprise magazine

..all of which would be really important for us. But to get there, first we have to win the London heat. So please:


The deadline for voting is 11:30am on Monday 11 October.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

For some people, boldness is not a character trait but a function of need..

Someone once told me that, for some people, boldness is not a character trait but a function of need...
..I am one of those people.

I spent years wondering why everything I did only came together at the last moment; why vital assignments were always submitted minutes before a deadline, why I only found high paid consultancy work when I was down to my last £10, why supporters, funders, mentors only appeared in my life as I was giving up and not in the agonising months prior while I was searching high and low for help...

It’s incongruous to the way I’d like to view myself but the truth is
it takes an extraordinary amount of pressure to displace me from my comfort zone.

If I am under no pressure, why should I do the arduous / complex / scary things?
Only when the deadline is looming, big and scary on the horizon, does the fear of failure even begin to overcome the fear of the actions required to succeed. Then, and only then, will I do the things I ought to have done from the outset. The things I knew in my heart were right but was fearful of.

Excelling at a subject, pushing your boundaries, upselling yourself to make new connections requires moving out of what is comfortable. Not merely working harder or smarter but moving out of your emotional comfort zone. It requires courage (because it’s nerve wracking) it requires confidence (because it’s intimidating) it requires faith (or why would you even try?)

99% of the time I haven’t achieved my goals it has had nothing to do with my level of competence. It has everything to do with indulging hesitance and fear.

Maybe if I worried more about *that* and less about making a prat of myself, we'd have something other than a last-second-success?!