Ideas that do Good

championing global social innovation

A Vancouver-based campaign for RainCity Housinga grassroots organization, which delivers progressive housing and support solutions for people living with mental illness and addictions, saw transit benches modified to transform into temporary shelters. 

When the roof is up, RainCity Housing’s address is posted on the inside, along with the message: ‘Find a home here’.

An additional installation, printed with UV and glow-in-the-dark ink, showed different messages during the day and night. 

(via Lost At E Minor)

Preserving Hong Kong’s Fashion Legacies


Aiming to restore the legacy of the local bespoke tailoring industry - whose skilled master tailors were being undervalued, and the industry as a whole is being replaced by cheaper alternatives from the Mainland - Bonham Strand produces bespoke suits made in Hong Kong by experienced tailors and seamstresses (who are paid a decent wage and given a decent working environment). With most master tailors now in their 50’s, Bonham Strand also sends the tailors to teach the craft to recovering drug addicts in rehabilitation centres. The future plan is to create an apprenticeship programme.


Aiming to preserve Hong Kong’s expertise in crafting shoes, Shoe Artistry plans to set up a vocational apprenticeship programme for those interested in learning from master shoemakers. The organisation is currently working to sustain the work of four local shoemakers with new customer orders. 


Ten women who lost their jobs in Hong Kong’s once thriving garment factories - which have been replaced with production in the Mainland - were forced to either go into early retirement or take on more labour intensive jobs. Now aged between late 50s to early 70s, these women are employed by Neighbor Plus Workshop, which aims to give the women purpose and a sense of self-respect by providing them with work that they were trained to do. So far, Neighbor Plus Workshop have contributed to local labels like Tangram, Jaycow Milinery and G2000 with leather goods, clothing and accessories. 

(Via TimeOut Hong Kong)

Brand Investments

Patagonia launches $20 Million & Change, an internal venture fund for environmentally responsible start-ups in the clothing, food, water, energy and waste industries. (Via FastCoExist)

Toms opens an online Marketplace for socially responsible companies to sell their wares. Companies include 31Bits, which sells recycled paper jewellery by internally displaced Northern Ugandan women; previously featured Stone + Cloth and LSTN, an upscale headphone company with a one-for-one model that gives hearing aids to people in need. (Via FastCoExist)

Demonstrating the integral use of technology in their social impactful projects at the Google Impact Challenge - India, four finalists won Rs 3 crore in funding (approximately US$480,000) as well as Google mentorship. In addition, six runners up received Rs 1.5 crore (US$240,000) in seed funding. (Via Social Enterprise Buzz)

imageThe School of Life, a London-based cultural enterprise offering good ideas for everyday life, has collaborated with Momiji, British manufacturer of ‘message dolls’ and Eggpicnic, a Chilean-Australian design duo - to produce a line of Virtue Dolls.

Inspired by traditional Japanese dolls, each figurine embodies an exemplary virtue: Calm, Bravery, Kindness. Inside each one there’s a small folded card to write a message, dream or wish. Placed on either a desk or shelf, they act as a reminder of the owner’s true aspirations.

British non-profit, Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) works to protect the environment and defend human rights. ‘Postcards from the Frontlines’ is their new campaign, which aims to catalyse a global response and call for action to protect climate refugees.

Inspired climate witnesses and their supporters from around the world are encouraged to send a free postcard - via the ByPost iPhone app or online - with a photo reflecting their experience of an extreme weather event or the home they would hate to be forced from. Addressed to the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, the campaign aims to reach 100,000 postcards by Human Rights Day (10th December 2013), when a public response will be sought expected.

Existing famous supporters include the Greens’ representative in the European Parliament Ska Keller, actresses Emilia Fox and Gillian Anderson and English musician Peter Gabriel. With fashion model, Lily Cole and fashion designer, Dame Vivienne Westwood launching the campaign at the Vivienne Westwood Red Label show during London Fashion Week.

(via Environmental Justice Foundation - EJF)

Lava Mae is a non-profit project working to solve the problem of access to showers and toilets for the homeless, by retrofitting retired buses with facilities including private showers, sinks and changing rooms, to provide 80 showers per day.

By partnering with local non-profits who serve the homeless but do not offer these services, Lava Mae can expand on their offering while leveraging their expertise working with the homeless. The first location is San Francisco, where the existing situation is 16 showers for the 3,100+ homeless people. 

Possible future plans include the addition of a Sun Bus Kit; thin film photovoltaic panels that can provide electricity to power WiFi, heating and air conditioning while a bus is parked and the engine is turned off. 

(via Style with Benefits)

Braille is only used by 10% of the world’s 39 million blind people. Fittle attempts to increase that figure by encouraging young, visually impaired kids to learn to read - and be interested in braille. 

Tested in two India-based schools for the visually impaired, Fittle is a one-of-its-kind, interactive word puzzle, through which kids can learn new words, and learn how things are shaped. For example, when learning the spelling of the word ‘turtle’, users can also feel the shape of a turtle with their hands.

(via IndieGoGo)

New York non-profit, 100cameras empowers kids to create tangible change in their communities, by teaching them to capture their lives through photography. The organisation also helps to sell the final results, with 100% of the purchases going back to the child’s community to fund local lifeline, education, and healthcare needs. So far, projects have taken place in NYC, Cuba, and India.