Posted by Kat Dodds

Seeds of Solidarity: It's our birthday! Hello Cool World is 20 years old

14 February 2021

A blog about Hello Cool World's 20th Birthday!

Hello Cool World is 20!

While the life of a 20 year old human isn’t long enough to acquire vast experience or wisdom, the 20 year lifespan of Hello Cool World has been plenty long enough to grow our seeds of solidarity into many grassroots projects. This journey is one that we’d like to celebrate and acknowledge.

We’ve always been in love with justice, community, creativity and collaboration. During these reflective times we are making sure to take stock of where we’ve been, where we are now, and where we are going. What better way to celebrate HCW's 20th year birthday than sharing love stories. Oh! Wait! That’s another thing we love: stories!

To this end we are going to launch a series of live conversations talking about our projects, our process, and our partners, starting in March. Watch for it and join our mail list to keep up with all our news. We look forward to launching a new blog site for these conversations!

Everything begins with grassroots, community, accountability, and an ethic of “nothing about me without me.”

Our work has brought us into landscapes of social justice, health, indigenous ally solidarity. “Looking back”, as founder Kat Dodds says, “the seeds of it all were there in our first projects; it's just that the nuances have evolved.”

Condomania was our first sexual health project which also modeled our approach of working with the intended audience to create the campaign. This meant we pulled together a group of teens to help create a website and identity which led to several years of content creation and the beginning of David Ng’s film and media arts career. He was a whopping 14 years old when we met and started working together (how many 34 year olds have a 20 year history of working with and shaping an organization?)!

Like all good seeds they grow into beautiful lush plants. For David, his seed blossomed into an MA, working on his Phd, and many other projects including co-founding Love Intersections with Jen Sungshine, and the Vancouver Artist Labour Union Co-Operative which now occupies the original studio where Hello Cool World started in Chinatown!

The Ut’sám Witness project, a cross-cultural collaboration between members of the Squamish Nation, artists and environmentalists, was one of our first clients as well - we helped them publicize their Verification/ tkwáyani7m event, which called back witnesses to prove to Intefor that 10,000 people would stand up and witness for the land. Logging was stayed at Sims Creek. Out of the relationships that were formed,  solidarity networks grew.

One such relationship, was with Melanie Rivers who Kat met car-pooling on the way to an Ut’sám Witness camping weekend. Melanie was the coordinator of Chee Mamuk at the time, and Star in Your Own Stories was born as a filmmaking and sexual health educational workshop that went into First Nations communities in BC.  And that’s how David Ng, Kat and Jada-Gabrielle Pape overlapped. David, still a teenager himself, became one of the youth mentors, and Jada, from The Saanich & Snuneymuxw Nations was at the time an educator with Chee Mamuk.

Jada and Kat tended to some of the seeds of solidarity and grew the Drawing Wisdom Initiative which started in 2015 when they won a People’s Choice Award for their concept for Drawing Wisdom from the Operation Blue-Sky Aboriginal Health Initiative. These seeds have grown into many collaborations including with a peer-led film project HIV: Healing Inner Voices (winner of  an Audience Choice Award at the Vancouver Queer Film Festival, 2020) and the very recently launched Generous Spirit Project animation (Produced by Children's Voices, Our Choices, MVAEC). Jada is hoping to host a Drawing Wisdom podcast in the coming year.

Drawing Wisdom

Our other pivotal project in our inaugural year of 2001, was The Corporation film -- still a few years away from it’s launch. And now -- we are in the midst of a launching of The New Corporation: The unfortunately necessary sequel! When working on the original Corporation film launch we brought our grassroots approach to a film launch, and while the rest is history -- the future is still to be written! And while the challenges of launching a film during COVID, can’t be minimized, it really does feel like the film is incredibly timely (and unfortunately very necessary). And new opportunities for digital distribution have risen up. We sincerely hope we can rise to the occasion. We’ve also launched a story sharing app, with calls to action. What drives these projects forward and connects them is an understanding that as a company we are more mission than profit driven. Our projects emerge, sometimes merge, and become long-term relationships, and these seeds of solidarity sprout new collaborations, partnerships and ways of working alongside each other and all our projects.

Above all we are fighting the three evil C’s: Colonialism, Capitalism and Corporate rule. To this end, our 20th year is just starting - we hope now to spend some time reflecting on deepening this work and sharing our stories as well as drawing out the wisdom and learning from our friends, allies and co-conspirators.  Watch for more blogs, our upcoming zoom chat and podcasts and to hear more about new shared initiatives and partnerships -  like Cool.World (with partners Stories First and SqueezeCMM), and the upcoming Decolonizing Digital Strategies webinar series, (with funding from the Canada Council For the Arts Digital Strategy Fund).

PS. There are a lot of pivotal people and projects not currently listed from our early years. Notable is Sandy Haksi - who has been fulfilling a great many behind the scenes roles (primarily as content strategist) and has been with us almost as long as David Ng! And our incredible graphic designer Terry Sunderland who predates HCW when he and Kat were both with Adbusters. And our CTO David Griffith who was there at the beginning and is back with us for our new beginnings. We will be telling more stories about more of our collaborators -- so stay tuned! 

Leave a comment

(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.
(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.
(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.