Snap Happy Chappy
A tale of following your dreams
If like Alex, the founder and facilitator of Happy Snappers, you are a dreamer, a believer that equity can and should happen and you then just make things happen, is there a difference between being truly inspired, being a trouble-maker or being stark-raving mad? When you are driven, really driven to do something purely altruistic that is deemed as supposedly dangerous by those in a situation of authority within an organisation, should you stop, or perhaps, should you look deeply at where they are possibly coming from with shutting you down or pushing you away? In all likelihood, they are probably in a place of deep discomfort at the suggestion of doing things with any sense of innovation. This is quite possibly due to an inability to think differently than they have done for the past however many years they have been doing things with a mandated major focus on risk-averse practices rather than evolving things as the end users need or want…
He wants to share his cameras ?
With others ?
In late 2016, Alex through the amazing assistance of his supportive, nurturing and empowering PHaMS (Personal Helpers & Mentors Scheme) worker, created a weekly photography group in conjunction with a mental health NGO. It initially started as a simple thing, with the participants just using their mobile-phones. As time went on however, it became evident that those participants wanted the ability to use digital cameras, to enable them to explore their imagery further, but due to overwhelmingly low socio-economic means for them, that wasn’t possible.
Alex had an idea, being the Social Innovator that he is! He reached out to his photography cohorts around the world and asked if they could spare some equipment or financial donations, so as to allow others that couldn’t afford it otherwise, the opportunity to explore digital photography as a regular wellness and social inclusion activity. The results were overwhelming! Within a few weeks, Alex had four cameras and lenses for them! Getting the participants to be able to use them proved to be an insurmountable obstacle however, as Alex was rudely turned away from the mental health NGO, with them refusing him the ability to share his equipment with the participants.
So much for the promised “co-design” and “evolving” ability that the NGO promoted so heavily in their marketing materials, for the group to become something the participants wanted. This was particularly troubling for Alex as he was publicly labelled a trouble-maker simply for wanting to do what others in different programs held by this NGO could freely do. It was perfectly okay for artists to share their art tools & supplies, it was also okay for musicians to freely share their instruments, some of which were worth more than any of Alex’s cameras, but, alas, he was a trouble-maker for wanting to share the use of his adequately insured camera equipment.
Traumatised, dejected and without access to the one activity that was keeping him well, Alex withdrew into himself, isolating himself from the world, punishing himself for even trying to make a difference. After all, if this NGO saw Alex’s socially minded efforts as the actions of a trouble-maker, formally requesting that he stay away from the one thing that was helping him live well, they must have been correct. Right?
If it had not been for the incredible insights & eternal assistance of his loving partner, and from his Psychotherapist, Alex would have kept believing this. Getting to a point of being able to see beyond the traumatic experience he had been subjected to sparked a new-found determination to take this simple idea of Mindfulness as achieved through the use of a digital camera out to the greater world at large. It was so easy in fact, that it was a complete shock that other community centre’s gladly opened their doors and hearts to this grass-roots idea of wellness for all to be able to have access to.
Alex arranged for there to be sessions held in several locations, multiple times a week. A local Community Health organisation came to the party by assisting him with the use of their Public Liability cover to start off with. A community centre took him on as a volunteer and assisted with a venue, and transport, through the use of their minibus and volunteer drivers. Another community centre allowed him the use of their space for gratis!
The take-home from this agonising experience was that if like Alex, you meet resistance, prejudice, or discrimination when trying to create something magical for others, move on! Reach out elsewhere for the potential to develop your idea; if it has sound motives, it will be seen and welcomed!