Monday, June 29, 2015

Philanthropy and why you can't resist the urge to help.

"Margins increase the further down the torso you go." Scott Galloway
I remember watching a documentary on PBS, The Persuaders, about how marketers winkle their way into people's lives. One segment that stayed with me was about Clotaire Rapaille, a French psychologist who had advanced his career from working with autistic children in his home country to advising luxury brand marketers in the United States about how to, well, winkle their wares into people's lives. He is a fascinating character. He lived in a chateau in upstate New York. His client's would attend en masse to hear his liturgy about parting exclusive customers from their millions by deploying a theory about the human brain.

He described 'the lizard brain' - an ancient part of the human mind that behaves in an unprogrammed way - aside from consciousness or rational thought. The lizard brain is hard-wired to facilitate our base instincts for survival. For example you can rationalise your choice of mate for their refinement and taste but, whether you are male or female, rich or poor the unreasonable drive from your lizard brain is to breed with the partner that is most likely to help you pass your genetic code onto future generations. A mutual love of piƱa coladas and getting caught in the rain might sound like a marriage made in heaven, but, I'm sorry primal urges overcome the mild buzz of rum, coconut, pineapple juice and tropical weather conditions. To synthesise Rapaille, the display of luxury items is simply an indicator of one's capability to provide and protect the product of your union. That's why chinless wonders and old guys who strike it rich immediately buy Ferrari and Rolls Royce cars - to symbolise their supremacy in the breeding stakes. Kind of like bright feathers in the ornithological world or exaggerated size of proboscis in the mating rituals of elephant seals. Likewise all non-utility fashion is a sexual display - even if you rationalise it with a pronounced fetish for design.
It is via this circuit that we come to philanthropy. Why do we have an urge to give as well as to receive? My theory is that we are social creatures. As innate as our drive to have the most widely dispersed 'seed' is, there is the corresponding sense that we are part of the group or tribe we are related to - by paternity/maternity, marriage or species. Our DNA is bound with the group, interhelixed.

Even when we rationally 'know' that we are not related by blood to others in a wider contemporary culture… our lizard brains don't 'know' anything. Its function is simply automatic - there is little we can do about it. You can read Ayn Rand's ridiculous theories and novels and nod in undergraduate, pseudo-intellectual agreement that it is every wo/man for themselves but the lizard in you knows that hunting and living in groups is more successful and offers protection from the savagery of the wild. Which, of course, multiplies your chances of successfully passing your genes onto children and so on. There is nothing you can do about it. 

Faced with a surplus? Married with children already? Another Ferrari or Versace frock would simply be vulgar (and probably have your partner worried about the stability of and your commitment to your protective family unit). 

Your philanthropic urge - to support the society in which your children will prosper - is as innate as your drive for genetic immortality.

That is why I urge you to help me end homelessness for as many young people in need when I take part in The BigSleepout on 2 July.

It will help you sleep better at night.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

It could happen to you…

Click to enlarge

The bungalow in Point Chevalier was their pride and joy. Not fancy by comparison to some of the renovated state house being turned into mansions by their neighbours but simple, stylish and contemporary. “I’m hoping we can extend the kitchen and deck out the back at some point” Vanessa explains, offering me the last macaroon “…you take it, I don’t think I could fit another one in…but Rudy suggested we just wait a little longer. He’s big on delayed gratification. Just because it’s in the magazines and blogs doesn’t mean we have to follow, does it?”

What planet are you from? I thought to myself. “Improving the indoor outdoor flow would add a hundred grand to this place…” I wondered if Vanessa and Rudy might just be a little soft in the head? “My god, these macaroons are the bomb, can’t believe you made them yourself - you should start a site and create a brand…are you sure that’s the last one? You’re not holding out on me…?” A crumb fell on my Karen Walker top. “How do you feel about the issue of homelessness?” Van asked. I eyed the sideboard and wondered if it was genuine mid-century, genuine mid-century pieces are getting big prices. 
“Terri…I asked what you thought about the homeless issue…” “Look, Van, I’m not sure who you’ve been talking to but Famka and I are just taking a breather. And, if I can interest Simon in this story  I might have enough for the deposit on a studio flat - or at least get my car back from the tow-yard - but for now I’m staying with friends - I don’t call it couch surfing. Don’t judge me, ok!! . Shit, sorry Vanny, I’m just so strung out - I haven’t slept properly for over week. I’ve been offered a job as  dancer if I want it - my mum wouldn’t call it dancing - but if I keep the fact that I got laid off from the magazine from her …I couldn’t use your bathroom could I Van? I mean your bathroom - haven’t had a shower for a couple of days - had to let the gym membership go - so I’m a bit whiffy…hey who needs the gym when you don’t get to eat every day. You’re a great mate Vanessa, I just want to say that. You and Rudy and the kids…this isn’t forever you know. It’s just, right now. Because, right now I don’t know what to do.”







…I'm performing the BigSleepOut for the 6th season in just six days time.
If you would like to help me raise awareness and funds for the Lifewise Trust to help end homelessness -
you have two choices:




or




Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Big SleepOut is just 7 days away. We need your help.

Every year I leave the relative luxury of home to sleep out in the cold to raise money and awareness of homelessness here in the most liveable city in the world.

I've been a little slow out of the blocks with my effort this year. I need your help.

My fundraising page is here. Every little bit helps, thanks. I really appreciate your support. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Action stations…End Homelessness…let's rock!


We all know that homelessness is a real problem. I'm pretty sure you would be willing to help make a difference if you could. So here's what you can do:

I am sleeping rough in 8 days time for the BigSleepOut event to raise awareness and funds to help Lifewise help people who are homeless.

So, …now you KNOW
I know you are WILLIING
Let's DO IT!

You can support Lifewise's efforts through my official fundraising page HERE.

This is my sixth year of being involved with the event; I have found that friends and colleagues are both generous and supportive - the money we've raised has made a difference - when I first got involved I thought we could eradicate the problem easily, sadly it perpetuates.  But it would be worse without your generous help.

Thank you. I'm grateful for your support - you make the difference.

(P.S. I've kicked off my campaign a little late this year…it's even more urgent - if you could share this post on Twitter and Facebook to spread the message with your connections that would make a huge difference too - use the buttons below or copy the link in the address bar).

David MacGregor



Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Optimists' Flag


Having spent all that money to talk about the New Zealand flag on our behalf it would be rude not to engage.

Here's my thoughts for a flag. I've been worried that pictures of kiwis and ferns and drab red white and blues might win the day (not that flags are really important). I also worry that if a black flag squeaks through we will look like we are in perpetual mourning. The reason the US loves the stars and stripes is because it's cheerful when displayed en masse.

Anyway…

Here's my rationale:
This design refers to:
• A sense of place - islands, mountains, land, sea, space.
• The traditions of New Zealand/Aotearoa:
- Kowhaiwhai design
- European heraldry

The colours:
Blue ground  - sense of place, standing proudly and distinctively. Referring to our place in the Pacific ocean - and its meaning 'peaceful'. It transitions from night to day, yesterday to tomorrow.

Yellow - facing the right/east not only symbolising the geographic place - first to see the sun but also the optimism and youthfulness of our nation and its peoples. 

Black for the traditions and heritage - the mana of our achievements and courage in the face of challenges.

The red represents the heart our passion and compassion.
Green needs little explanation.

White - two main islands, snow capped peaks, long white clouds.

The design is contemporary and avoids parochial symbols that 'belong' to any particular faction.

The geometric shapes suggest growth and regeneration as well as permanence.

Its elements can be translated into other contexts to build the national brand identity.

While it refers to traditions it heralds an optimistic and plural future; where we are of the world but distinctively ourselves.