Category Archives: Culture

Women’s History Month : 1st -31st March

Empowering women and acknowledging the daily struggles they have had to face and still do is an important part of society. March every year is women’s history month. This specific time is for people to learn and shine light upon the amazing women that have got us to where we are today. Yes, women have made it a long way but there are still many steps that need to be accomplished before total equality of the sexes is achieved. The theme this year is “Visionary women: Champions of peace and non-violence”. This certain theme is to honour the women who have led efforts to end violence, injustice, and also the start of nonviolence to help change society.

Violence is seen around the world and in substantial numbers. Abuse and violence comes in many different forms, but some of them are still not acknowledged or recognised by everybody:

  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Psychological
  • Emotional
  • Verbal

Women’s history month has been apart of our diary’s since 1987 but unfortunately it is not one that many seem to remember or even know exists. Since the first ever women’s history month, many celebrity’s, schools, organisations and charity’s have made it their mission to ensure that women’s participation to society, economy and politics is recognised and remembered. This particular celebration is an extension of International Women’s Day which is on the 8th March. One day just isn’t enough to celebrate the many strong and courageous women throughout history and also the ones who are making change today.

 

65% copy 2Infographic by Emily Boorman

 

In London there is always something going on and there is no better place to go if you want to celebrate women:

  • Tonight Josephine’ – This is a basement cocktail bar located in Shoreditch as well as Waterloo. It’s quirky name and philosophy comes from Josephine De Beauharnais. She was a woman within history who was not scared to break the rules. She climbed her way up the social ladder and eventually became Empress of France. She spent her time making her own rules, throwing amazing parties and not caring what other people thought. This particular neon, soaked in glitter bar is to show that well behaved women do not make history and that cocktails are forever.

 

  • ‘Velvet Underground’ – Why not get a tattoo to mark this wonderful occasion. The Velvet Underground is the first tattoo parlour to only employ women tattooist, but don’t worry they tattoo both men and women. The tattoo industry is seen as a largely male dominated industry, so the Velvet Underground wanted to created a space that allows female collaborations and communication to be the forefront of its business.

 

It’s time to go plastic-free: these are London’s plastic free stores

Plastic pollution is arguably one of the most prominent issues of the 21st century. The words themselves have slowly become buzzwords in mainstream society – so it should be no surprise that people around the world are taking a stand against the issue.

What is plastic pollution?

According to PlasticOceans.org, almost 300 tons of plastic is produced annually around the world and half of this is for single use. Single use plastics include plastic bags, plastic cutlery, plastic bottles and plastic straws.

Every year, over eight million tons of plastic ends up in the world’s oceans and this causes a number of environmental issues. Not only do single use plastics make up 49% of beach litter, but they can also cause serious harm to wildlife. It’s easy for marine species to become entangled in pieces of plastic – plastic bags, for example – and it’s fairly common for animals to mistake plastic for food. Research from Greenpeace shows that up to 9 in 10 seabirds, 1 in 3 sea turtles and over half of whale and dolphin species have ingested plastic.

But it’s not just marine species that suffer from the amount of plastic we’re putting into our oceans: the entire food chain does – meaning that, if marine species such as fish are consuming high levels of plastic, humans are too, when they eat fish, for example. Not only are we eating plastic we’ve thrown away, but there’s also potential for this plastic to enter the tissues of our bodies – just as it does in sea animals.

How can we make a change?

Luckily, over the last few years, people have begun to wake up to the issues surrounding plastic pollution. The United Nations ‘declared war’ on plastic in February 2017, and media coverage has helped to raise awareness of these issues – perhaps the most famous example would be the BBC series Blue Planet II.

Things are looking up; the UK’s plastic bag pollution has decreased by 86% since the introduction of the 5p carrier bag charge in 2015. However, there’s still a long way to go – but there are some changes we can make. The key is switching to reusable products rather than disposable – using glass or metal water bottles instead of plastic bottles, buying reusable cups for hot drinks, saying no to plastic straws and so on.

Conveniently, there are a number of plastic-free shops popping up around the country. These stores aim to be as close to zero-waste as possible and minimise the amount of plastic used in everyday life. Shoppers can buy loose products in any quantity they wish – from cereal to washing powder and fruit and vegetables to salt – all without the unnecessary plastic.

Where are London’s plastic-free stores?  

Currently there are nine plastic free stores in London.

Re:Store (Hackney’s most recent plastic-free opening):

Hackney Downs Studios, 17 Amhurst Terrace, London, E8 2BT

Unpackaged (found in Planet Organic stores):

Islington branch: 64 Essex Road, Islington, London, N1 8LR

Muswell Hill branch: 111/117 Muswell Hill Road, Muswell Hill, London, N10 3HS

Torrington Place branch: 22 Torrington Place, London, WC1E 7HJ

Westbourne Grove branch: 42 Westbourne Grove, London, W2 5SH

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Planet Organic Westbourne Grove

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Unpackaged in Planet Organic Westbourne Grove

Hetu (Clapham Junction):

201 St. Johns Hill, London SW11 1TH

The Source

Battersea branch: 99 St John’s Rd, London, SW11 1QY

Chiswick branch: 24 Turnham Green Terrace, Chiswick, London, W4 1QP

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The Source Chiswick

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The Source Chiswick

Bulk Market (Hackney):

6 Bohemia Place, Hackney, London, E8 1DU

Harmless Store (Wood Green):

Blue House Yard, 5 River Park Rd, Wood Green, London, N22 7TB

Get Loose (Hackney):

Hackney City Farm E2 8QA, United Kingdom

The Refill Larder (Teddington):

122 High Street,Teddington TW11 8JB

BYO (Tooting):

21-23 Tooting High St, Tooting, London,SW17 0SN

 

Despite supermarkets also beginning to make changes, and the introduction of these plastic-free stores, there is still a long way to go. And although these stores aren’t accessible or practical for everyone, the increasing number of them gives us hope that things are going to change and, hopefully, we can collectively reduce the damage that plastic pollution is causing our planet.

 

Meet Naima Ali, the editor hoping to inspire Muslim women through SAKINA magazine.

How many magazines for Muslim women that have gone mainstream do we know? Not enough. I spoke to the editor of SAKINA magazine, Naima Ali, who stated that growing up with magazines like Vogue, ELLE and Seventeen- “you, yourself, feel as if you don’t belong because you’re not represented on those platforms”. Therefore the creation of SAKINA Magazine was in hopes to give young Muslim women more of a platform for expression, a place to discuss their personal issues and inner thoughts.

SAKINA Magazine spring issue.

Naima Ali grew up in London, England and now resides in Malmö, Sweden. She’s a student studying international relations at Malmö University. Naima and her fellow editors started from scratch and came up with a vision. The creation of SAKINA magazine is a way of taking a proactive approach in what they believe it. Instead of dwelling on the past and questioning why mainstream magazines don’t feature Muslim women, they decided to create their own space for Muslim women. SAKINA is a word derived from the Quran and means “spirit of tranquility” and peace. With a compelling word like that as the name of the magazine, it invokes readers to understand what the concept of the magazine it.

Naima Ali holding up SAKINA Magazine.

The creation of the first issue took a lot of time and planning. Naima insisted that the magazine should be published differently from others. So instead of using a website or a blog, the group launched their magazine on a site called “ISSUU”. This is a interactive platform where you can upload magazines and flip through the pages as if it was a hard copy- exposing yourself to online communities. Anyone can access it. Naima describes the experience- “we thought that was really cool but it did take a lot planning, In-design and Photoshop. But regardless it was a fun experience. We would obviously want to try other things instead of limiting our issues to online.”

For the editors of the magazine, starting it from scratch not only meant needing skills required for different softwares but deeply thinking about what content to include. Therefore there was trials and tribulations to overcome in order to have a successful first issue. Learning the rudiments of a magazine meant understanding your audience and what they would like to read. Naima explained to me over the phone that the team wanted to make sure “it wasn’t a religious magazine” instead saying that “we wanted to give our viewpoints on various topics from a Islamic perspective”. That includes dividing the magazines into five categories: beauty, lifestyle: mental health, entertainment: arts and culture, fashion as well as interviewing influential people. Therefore the basis of the magazine is valued by what their consumers want to read.

Naima says that her and her team think to themselves “if we had the magazine growing up, what would we want it to include?” So that’s how they determine the content of the magazine. By touching upon topics that young Muslim women would want to know about so they can look at it and say “yes this is me, and i need this”. Overall it is important to “take inspiration from our audience and craft something that is as realistic as possible”. Currently the magazine only has one issue but the team said they would like to have a theme behind each issue in the future. Already drawing upon new ideas.

I asked Naima what makes SAKINA different from other upcoming magazines on the market. She replied that the main difference is that it is “entirely for Muslim women and we are sticking to a specific age group: 18 to 25”. As well as the demographic being for young women, Naima stressed on the importance of giving more representation to Muslim women of colour, especially black Muslim women. Saying “that is not to exclude anybody else, but we know in the media black Muslim women get the least amount of coverage”. This is essential as the magazine gives the readers a voice. Naima describes SAKINA magazine for their audience as a “safe space”, adding on that it’s “something that can make Muslim women feel like they belong considering most of the time they don’t feel included in society”. That being so, SAKINA is something that can “unite us all”.

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Happy muslim women’s day💕 photo: @ikramianism

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So what’s the next mission for the team behind the magazine? Personally for Naima, she writes in the mental health column and her goal is help their readers speak out about issues – “I want them to know that if they feel like they can’t get the help they need because of stigmas in their community, here in SAKINA we know what you’re going through, we understand so don’t hesitate to reach out to us”. For the magazine as a whole, the main goal is to continue making Muslim women feel great about themselves. So instead of feeling like young girls/women have to pick out a bigger mainstream magazines, they can pick out SAKINA instead and see that it caters towards them.


Say bye-bye to Brooklyn Nine-Nine, for now?

With it being that time of the year, when television networks line up our beloved shows only to axe them in the back, there are times when even the brightest TV heroes cannot save themselves.

And the latest one to join the list of martyred television series is the cult favourite Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Fox lists falling ratings as the reason to cancel the show and to make more space on its schedule to bring in the newer crop of shows for the fall TV season.

But they surely have underestimated the power of its Fandom.

Outraged and hurt fans took to Twitter to express their betrayal while Dan Goor, the co-creator of the show, expressed his gratitude for all the fan support.

Support for the series poured in from all directions, including celebrities like Lin-Manuel Miranda tweeting: “I ONLY WATCH LIKE 4 THINGS. THIS IS ONE OF THE THINGS #RenewB99.”

The stars of the show too voiced their sadness over show’s cancellation and gratitude for running long and strong for five seasons.

The reason why this show is such a cult favourite can be attributed to the fact that it has been dealing with social issues like homophobia, gender representation, workplace dynamics with such kindness and without evoking inappropriate jokes to amuse its audience that it quickly seeped into the hearts of its fans. And the fact that at the heart of every episode, there is the sense of helping everyone and uplifting their spirits throughout all the drama and tension just seals the deal for its viewers.

It has successfully evoked a range of feelings, from acceptance when Rosa’s father offer his daughter this wholehearted apology: “I want you to know that I accept you for who you are, and I love you very, very much.”, to pain and uncertainty when Jake and Rosa gets prison sentence and we see for the first time the scared and vulnerable side of Rosa, to absolute joy when Jake finally proposes to Amy in the precinct via a championship-wrestling belt.

But all hope’s not lost. With networks like Hulu and Netflix gaining more and more popularity and focus of viewers, there are chances that Brooklyn Nine-Nine may be picked up by one of them, giving fans a thread of hope to hang onto. And hopefully in near future the viewers will see the return of their beloved show.

 

What is the Cannes film festival and why does it matter?

For decades, many have tuned in to watch stars walk the red carpet in the French Rivera in May for the biggest film festival. Cannes brings glitzy, glam, networking, and screenings to one place.

But most people, don’t know what Cannes is and why the festival is important.
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How do you pronounce “Cannes”?

Most people make the mistake of pronouncing it as “cahn” or “cahns.”

But it’s more or less like “can.”

With many French words, the trailing s is not pronounced. So, it’s not “cans” or “cahns”. It’s just like a can of beans.

How does the festival work?

A few dozen films are selected to show during the festival. More than often, from prestigious directors whose work has previously played at the Festival.

Twenty films premiere “in competition” to win the top Cannes prize; the Palme d’Or (“golden palm”). This is the highest prize awarded at Cannes and is widely considered to be one of the most prestigious awards in the film industry.

Previous winners have included films such as Sex, Lies and Videotape; Pulp Ficition; and Apocalypse Now.

The festivals official programme is divided into several sections:

  • In competition: the twenty films competing for the Palme d’Or. Among this year’s competing films are Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman and Jean-Luc Godard’s Le Livre d’Image.
  • Un Certain Regard – Twenty films selected from cultures near and far, with an “original aim and aesthetic.” It is likely these films have limited theatrical distribution and are seeking international organisation.
  • Out of Competition: films that are not competing for the main prize but re projected in the Théâtre Lumière. The film committee just wants to recognise these films. Terry Gilliam’s long-awaited The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is due to premiere out of competition.
  • Cinéfondation: fifteen short and medium-length films from students currently enrolled in film school.
  • There are Midnight Screening, Special Screenings, Tributes and other events, playing films during the festival.

Why is Cannes so important?
The festival is considered the most prestigious in the world, mainly because of its exclusivity. The festival also has a long history of premiering some of the greatest films of all time and has even launched the careers of many prominent filmmakers.

It has propelled the success of many films during award season and months later; The Artist is just one of many that show that.

Beyond the recognition, Cannes affects which films make it in front of audiences. Some of the most influential people in the film industry attend, from distributors to financiers and publicists. Filmmakers can network with the hope to find funding and distributors for their films.

Who gets to go to Cannes?
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Cannes is an industry-only festival. Credentials are given to directors, producers, actors, publicists, distributors and journalists, who have applied for a badge. Attendees have to flash their badge to get into all screenings and events.

The festival also plays a selection of films for the public on the beach, every night at 9 o’clock.

Cannes has and will retain its position at the top of the festival hierarchy for years to come.

Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino may be Arctic Monkeys’ biggest gamble yet

In an era where nobody’s buying albums, Arctic Monkeys have bucked the trend, but could their complacency backfire?

Back in 2005 the Sheffield band had kept to the traditional DIY ethos of handing out CDs to anyone who would take them. Soon though eager fans started uploading their tracks to indie message boards, and the band became the face of a new era – one where anybody could become Glastonbury headliners as long as they had a four track and a Myspace account.

As word spread about the internet being a revolutionary tool for new bands, the Monkeys were beating older bands at their own game at the same time.

Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not remains the fastest selling debut album by a band in the UK, and after the release of AM in 2013, they became the first band on an independent label to release five consecutive number one albums.

They survived the rise of piracy, the decline of indie rock, and then the rise of streaming. Unlike any other of their peers, however, they continued to shift albums. By almost every metric, no other band this side of the millenium comes close in terms of size to the scrawny-turned-sleek Sheffield group.

That’s why their approach to album number six comes as a surprise.

This morning the band released Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino with little fanfare. Save for a few posters and a 42 second teaser video, there was no other indication of what to expect. No singles or radio sessions; it was just released.

While the Monkeys and their label, Domino, knew that the album would not go unnoticed, by introducing a stark new style it risked alienating their traditional fanbase with no warning.

The guitars are largely out, and pianos have come in; Alex Turner is no longer mouthing off about High Green, but crooning about gentrification on the moon. Compare it to Whatever People Say I Am…, and it’s not unreasonable to think these could be separate bands entirely. 

So do fans think that it’s a way of protecting the album as a collective piece, or was a move to sell records without having to show this alienating change of sound?

We went out to ask some people whether they’d be willing to pay for an album just on the artist’s reputation alone.

Just as we found, the reaction from Arctic Monkeys fans on social media has been split.
There was a consistency that they’re decision not to release any singles was a fear of a backlash, and by saving it to the release they already had album and ticket sales in the bank.
Some fans of their earlier, more frenetic material thought the focus on lyricism and piano playing proved lacklustre.

Although there is some balance and some, including Radio 1 DJ Greg James, think that Tranquility Base showcases the strength of the band’s evolution.

Once the hype and disappointment fades, the album will probably fall somewhere between grand and gaudy.
Tranquility Base is almost infuriatingly dense. The album’s first real hook to grab onto doesn’t come until the sixth track, Four out of Five.
It requires attention unlike other Arctic Monkeys records, but Alex Turner is still the same writer. He’s still funny and clever, willing to turn a phrase from nowhere, but they’re now hidden in long, winding soliloquies.
For those who want festival anthems, this album is undoubtedly be a disappointment.
But it’s wrong to suggest this is Turner starting to coast, in many ways this is the most complicated album the band have released since Humbug.
Whether this controversial change of tact will affect their popularity in the long term remains to be seen.
But one thing is for sure; Arctic Monkeys’ silence has got everybody talking.

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