People Make Culture (Culture Doesn’t Make People)
In the ultimate act of female empowerment, pop phenomenon Lady Gaga (above) has put a ring on her finger to celebrate that we are all free to propose to anyone at any time. The Knight Finger ring was launched by online retailer Klarna, together with Swedish fashion activist Bea Åkerlund, to give “the finger” to outdated traditions and not have their decisions dictated by them.
“For my entire career, I’ve taken pride in using my voice to stand up for what I believe is right,” says Lady Gaga. “The idea that a woman can only propose to a man one day every four years (on a leap year) is so completely ridiculous! I wear this ring with pride to remind myself and everyone that the only permission you need to love comes from within you.”
Social Justice in Focus
Never underestimate the power of someone with a camera and a social mission. Producer, director, writer, and actor Spike Lee has been creating provocative films since 1985 that explore race relations, political issues, and urban crime and violence. His films include She’s Gotta Have It, Do the Right Thing, and BlacKkKlansman. Lee has accelerated social change by taking a deep dive into the emotional state of people experiencing tension and turned it into a masterful narrative that moves people. The next time you’re wondering how to add social cause to your company, remember that film, photography, and storytelling can play a powerful role in the construction and public perception of your brand.
The 175 mph Battery
With air pollution presenting the single most significant environmental risk to human health today and causing more deaths each year than smoking cigarettes (according to the World Health Organization), Formula E hopes to inspire the next generation and millions of young fans to embrace clean energy and become future drivers of electric vehicles. Formula E aims to accelerate the mass adoption of electric vehicles and, in turn, tackle air pollution and counteract climate change. As the only form of motorsport to not produce any tailpipe emissions, Formula E’s primary purpose is to increase the number of electric cars on the road.
The Fast and Fun Ability Activist
Aaron Fotheringham was born with Spina Bifida, a birth defect of the spinal cord, which resulted in him having no use of his legs. He is also the third of six children, all adopted, but this hasn’t stopped him from becoming the first person to successfully perform a back flip in a wheelchair at the age of 14. At age 18, he was the first to do a double back flip. He’s on a mission to change the world’s perception of people in wheelchairs and to help anyone see their challenges in a new light. He enjoys showing young kids with disabilities that a wheelchair can be a tool and not a restriction. The 28-year-old has garnered universal appeal and demonstrated that a handicap could equally inspire others. “I think of it as a fun way to live my life,” he says.
Don’t Dig This
The Bagger 288 is the largest moving machine in the world and was built for the job of removing topsoil prior to mining coal in Tagebau Hambach, Germany. It can excavate 240,000 tons of coal or 8.5 million cubic feet of topsoil a day — the equivalent of a football field dug to 98 feet deep. The world needs topsoil to grow 95 percent of its food, but it’s rapidly disappearing. Without efforts to rebuild soil health, we could lose our ability to grow enough nutritious food to feed the planet’s population, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Photograph: Achim Blum / Overpopulation
Art for the Masses
A member of the public pauses to view the latest graffiti artwork by Banksy named Girl with a Pierced Eardrum in Bristol, England. The artwork is a take on Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer’s painting Girl with a Pearl Earring of 1665. The giant face mask speaks to the times we live in, with the artwork cleverly created around an ATD security warning light that creates an earring. The anonymous street artist combines dark humor with social cause as a way of commenting on pressing world problems.
As a form of cultural criticism, he often targets established social and political agendas and has grown a huge and devoted following around the world. One of his most infamous acts was in 2018, when shortly after Balloon Girl was sold on auction at Sotheby’s for $1.3 million, a shredder activated inside the frame, shredding the artwork. Despite Banksy’s playful attempt to undermine the astronomical prices usually associated with the art world, Balloon Girl is now estimated to be worth
more than $2 million.