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Volume 318

In a special edition of coolsh*t, we've got environmental and humanitarian photojournalist Thomas Parrish taking over for the week. Tom was one of the SELFHOOD voices in our recent insight report on brand bravery. He takes us through attainable wellness, black queerness, and a trip to India that may trigger some severe lockdown blues.

Homeless and Capable.

A life without music seems almost unimaginable. As soon as I’m in my room, I’m scrolling to set the mood… even if I’m just eating a pot noodle. Listening to it and creating it, appreciating music is a privilege, and it’s taken for granted. And for some of those at risk of homelessness, it’s just what they needed. Homeless centre handyman Manwell Wilson, or Manny, went from fixing up a neglected piano in a youth centre a year ago to creating a makeshift studio to nurture homeless young peoples’ passion for music. It’s not quite there yet and they’re still in need of more equipment, but it’s a growing project and should serve as a testament to those basic and necessary principles that we really can’t do without: humanity and generosity.

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A Sustainable Future.

It seems almost every walk I go on, at some point, I end up annoyed at people and their disregard for waste. Regardless of where I am or where I go, the inevitable path of ‘what the f*ck are we going to do about all this plastic?’ is trodden. While admittedly my greatest contribution to the issue has become looming over my housemates as they put their cans in the general waste, thankfully, Kenyan entrepreneur Nzambi Matee, has taken it upon herself to actively find a solution. Recycled plastic bricks! It’s like Lego, but unlike Lego, it doesn’t render you immobilised when you step on it. Instead, it paves a new path of innovative creation ensuring a brighter and more sustainable future.

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Well Well Wellness...

Wellness. Blurghh… whenever I hear the word, I can’t help but picture an unreasonably conditioned stereotype of a white person with a latte in one hand and a yoga mat in the other telling me about their awakening experience that I simply have to do. Although, I’ve never actually had that experience… Does it actually happen? I only hope that I’ll never be the one to force it upon someone else, as, let’s face it, I’m a likely candidate. So what is this preconceived misconception we have with the term wellness? Perhaps we should redefine the word to encompass something more diverse, dignifying and something else beginning with ‘d’….dynamic! Well, thankfully we don’t have to as Sanshia Legister is doing just that with her refreshing approach to inclusive self-improvement.

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Tea Is the Answer

Frances Shea said, as she desperately navigated the powerful and intimidating hold of Reggie Kray: “A cup of tea can solve anything. Bit under the weather? Tea. You left your husband? Tea is the answer.” Couldn’t agree more, Frances. Though despite personally never having to call on the beverage in the midst of a deteriorating relationship with an infamous Gangster, it does feel like the world is crumbling around us in all sorts of other ways. So what are we to do?

Sign a petition? Doesn’t do nothing.

Donate to charity? Where’s the money really going?

Form a collective? Enter, bureaucracy.

Have a cuppa Tea? Everything’s going to be alright.

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Can You See Us Now?

A defining moment of the Black Lives Matter protests in London, for me, was when a trans protestor took the mic, and explained how they had been told by a fellow protestor that they should not be here. That they should go home. Bringing to the surface the ongoing struggle of the LGBTQ+ community within the BLM movement and beyond. That while support and solidarity against racism has become ever more galvanising, the same cannot yet be said for the LGBTQ+ community. Yet as society grows and continues to develop its understanding for queerness, so too grows the queer community’s demand for recognition through empowering artistic expression.

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Enter, the Photo Book.

The power of photography could scarcely be more instrumental and critical than it is today, though it’s becoming increasingly underappreciated. We go about our everyday lives witnessing but rarely acknowledging photographs that were never meant to be exclusively seen through the tiny dimensions of Instagram. But with galleries shut, exhibitions cancelled, print media excruciatingly declining and online attention spans comparable to that of a gnat, what is the modern medium for best experiencing photography? Enter, the photo book. This one explores the rugged and delicate scenes of Northern India in an attempt to raise money for a rural education program which was battered by a tropical cyclone at the height of the pandemic in India.

Check out the Photo Book