Tag Archives: China

An Evening on Environmental Impact

Under the banner of Redpanda.earth, along with their partners and co-hosts: World Wildlife Fund (WWF) China,  ImpactHub Shanghai, Cocoon Networks and Green Initiatives, a diverse panel of experts and industry insiders was pulled together and assembled in an attempt to confront the ever present and growing issues of environmental impact and business.

Billed as an event consisting of “a panel discussion on the role of entrepreneurs for action an solutions in the environment” open to anyone with a vested interest (or a more general interest), the organiser intention was to set into motion the foundations of a widespread community of like-minded individuals keen on building sustainable business and producing more positive impacts on the environment.

The Panel was made up of:

  • Bikram Chaudhury, MD Credit Suisse.
  • Michael Cheng, Industry Partner ICY Capital.
  • Xu Hao, Sustainability & Resource Productivity, McKinsy.
  • Bunny Yan, CEO The Squirrelz. (A start-up looking to tackle the exponential waste associated with the Fashion and Fabric industries.)
  • Yifan Gu, Tongji University Entrepreneur.

Also present was a video panel consisting of:

  • James Griffiths, Fund Manager, Adapt Low Carbon Group UK.
  • John French, Chair in Enterprise and Sustainability at University of East Anglia.
  • SZE Ping, CEO WWF China.

Together the panel tackled underlying issues facing aspiring and emerging green start-ups such as: starting and funding a start, as well as continuing growth, expansion and scaling. What followed was also an informative Q+A that seemed to highlight one of the more prevalent issues start-ups are required to tackle, financing. Here the discussion quickly moved towards the field of Impact Investment and the shared responsibility aspiring CEO’s had in finding appropriate investors. A clear message established through the collaborative experience of the panel members was the distinction between two sets of investors, those interested in the positive impact an idea can have offset against potential profit, and the other seeking for profits whilst looking to increase their image and reputation.

After a thorough and in-depth discussion on the development of Green Business, in the second half of the event presented an opportunity for networking as well as a level of interactivity in which individuals were encouraged to think about and engage in pertinent questions regarding the creation of Green Initiatives and the expansion of Green Business Ideas.What emerged was the sense, or more accurately the need for greater collaboration, education and a need for a more widespread and real belief in the preservation of our environment and more sustainable practices. The success of such pioneering projects rested on the shoulders of a greater understanding and a larger desire to engage and solve one of the most immediate problems facing humanity as a whole.

At future events RedPanda.Earth hopes to foster and grow this emerging community, provide support, networking whilst engaging in exploring and educating China along with the world regarding these crucial issues. In this endeavour we wish them the greatest success.

Advertisements

R.I.P: Here Lies ‘Seductive’ Banana Eating

Oddly not the strangest story to have been seen emanating from the Middle Kingdom, especially considering the recent crackdown on the more ‘vulgar’ aspects of the great wide web. It appears China has taken steps to ban the suggestive mastication of bananas online.

Avoiding the string of going bananas puns that have accompanied the various other write ups of this somewhat whimsical affair, we will delve in the heart of the story (ish).

Closing the lid on all sorts, from homosexuality (taking down a popular online homosexual romcom) to celebrities spreading foul language, the quest for purity throughout China’s internet continues.

Nationally the interest in live streaming is growing rapidly month on month. With hundreds of, mostly 20 something females, broadcasting their daily lives to hordes of, mostly male, viewers. Allegedly its a ratio sitting somewhere around 3/4 in the favour of the less than fairer sex. As you can imagine, the prospect of watching a pretty girl seductively devouring a phallic shaped fruit has done wonders for these said streaming stars’ fan bases.

These hostesses, depending on their popularity, can rake in between RMB 10,000 to RMB 100,000 a month. Comparably that’s £1-10,000 by encouraging their viewers to purchase them virtual gifts.

Reporting an article, written by Beijing Today, the Shanghaiist quoted:

Beijing Today describes the business from one young woman’s perspective:

Ding at first was hesitant to take up camming. During her first week online, she was criticized by her agent for “not communicating enough with her online followers.” Since then, she adjusted her style and won a large following. Her peak show drew more than 600,000 viewers who were eager to watch her change into expensive clothes she bought from South Korea.“My followers are mainly young men who are very vain,” Ding said in an interview with Paper.cn. “The rest are just people who want to hit on a young and beautiful model.”

Unfortunately the government hasn’t been so keen on the idea of so many hormone driven adolescents becoming so readily corrupted by health concious streamers eager to meet their recommended daily dose of potassium. Leading to the inexorable move to ban such raunchy behaviour.

What is truly unknown and, as of yet unreported, is the potential damage this strong course of action will cause to the lucrative banana trade. It is likely that both the production and purchasing of the fruit will be severely hampered, potentially putting thousands out of work! But, then again, this is pretty unlikely.

So, whilst for now this depravity and debauchery has been put to rest, how long will it be before these girls resort of chomping on other long and curved food stuffs? Or perhaps even more extreme measures to keep those hot blooded males entertained? Soon will the ban need to extend to the general prohibiting of food and it’s consumption via webcam? Only time will tell!

Shanghai in Bloom

Spring arrived in a rather unspectacular fashion this year. The weather has been uncharacteristically spotty with intermittent rain piercing deep blue sunny skies and and sunny skies occasionally breaking through intermittent rain.

But the coming of spring generally signals the onset of the Cherry Blossom (Sakura) season. As Katsumoto said in The Last Samurai, you could spend your entire life in search of the perfect blossom and it would not be a wasted life …. or you know, something along those lines.

For me that perfect blossom came in Gucun Park, Shanghai. What follows is my amateur (and I have to emphasis amateur) photography celebrating the beautiful blossoms.

P1000210

P1000212

P1000222

P1000230

P1000240

P1000243

P1000245

P1000246

P1000249

P1000256

P1000270

P1000286

P1000292

P1000296

P1000297

P1000304

P1000313

So, let me know if you’ve had the chance to witness the blossoms this year, or at any other time. Where were you? Who were you with? And if you had any hints and tips for a photography newbie let me know in the comments below!

A New Standard of Beauty? (in China)

Everyone wants to look beautiful right? But how can you ensure you meet and adhere to the current trends and measures of this so heavily sought after title?

In China, it appears the answer is an ever growing list of absurd beauty challenges that mark an unnerving trend emerging across social media platforms such as Weibo (China’s Twitter). Welcome to the word of body shamming. Until very recently I had so naively believed it to be a solely western phenomenon, but how wrong I was. Either it already existed universally or has become a terrible export of western image-centric culture.

You may already know that the desired or most ideal look, in South-East Asia, revolves around impossibly white porcelain skin, long black silky hair, a slight frame, big eyes and very poised pointed features. A list of ‘requirements’ that has spawned endless tubes of whitening cream, eye popping contact lenses and a rapidly expanding cosmetic surgery market.

But before jumping under the knife, smothering yourself in ladles of cream and living your life through the assorted rainbow of contact lens iris colours its best to check whether you already meet these culturally imposed standards.

Belly Button TestChina-Netzien-Belly-button-challenge

This first test is pretty simple. To ensure you have the necessarily frame to be considered beautiful all you need to be able to do is reach around your back and comfortably reach your belly button. Easy!

The result saw an explosion of young internet users rushing to prove themselves and their waistlines. The web was flooded with netziens uploading millions of images of hand wrapped belly buttons. Emboldened by the unnerving trend of positive messages of reinforcement lavished upon the participants. With the topic creating an incredible 104,000 discussion trend … somewhere the BBC reported.

Whilst a considerable chunk of social media seemed almost entirely in favour of the challenge, one male blogger took a stand by posting his somewhat successful attempt at the challenge. Instantly dashing ideas that you had to be skinny or of slight frame to either successfully reach the finish like (your belly-button) or to be beautiful.

Buddha-Belly-button-challenge

This champion for social normality (if such a thing exists), let’s just say champion for undefined or more open standard of beauty, received 2,634 likes and reached viral levels having been shared more than 8,452 times.

The test quickly drew criticism as being nothing more than a matter of flexibility in the shoulders attainable by anyone, regardless of their waistline. But here it seems it was 1-0 to unhealthy body images.

Collar-bone Coin Challenge

Body-Images-collar-bone-challenge

Reportedly roughly a week later, having decided that one test of the perfect body wasn’t enough, Chinese social media conjured up their next figure defining test.

In this instance of completely sane body judging, your figure was considered to be ‘better’ the more coins you could fit on your collar-bone(s). The logic here is just striking, it’s a well known historic measure of beauty. One in which humanity has been taking pride in for an untold number of years. But hey, who am I to judge?

Sexy right? Just look at all those silvers resting on that bony outcrop, poised so elegantly – I think I’ve found wifey right there.

The craze also attracted a number of more comic additions, with people taking a stand against absurd perceptions of money laden collar-bones. They boldly undertook the challenge, except with a bit of a twist, balancing everyday items like eggs or phones.

A4 Paper Waist

body-image-a4-waist-challenge

No, this isn’t the name of a new up and coming indie band, but forms the title of the next body shaming fad to have launched itself from within the bowels of China’s social media.

Requiring a little less co-ordination than balancing your loose change around your neck, this test simply demanded that you hide your waist behind an vertical A4 piece of paper. No cheating guys, it has to be vertical! Coming in at around 21.0 by 29.7 centimetres (8.27 by 11.69 inches) this challenge culminates in the ideal way to determine just how acceptable your waist line truly is.

Once again this fad attracted a mind blowing number of web surfers, who dutifully posed in front of the camera behind their glimmering white prison cell doors. Each one in turn successfully closing the cultural cage of imposed body images around themselves and others.

Once again a reasonable back lash occurred with citizens of the world taping several pieces of paper together or opting for slightly larger sizes like A3, before posing candidly in front of a mirror revealing their ingenious methods of fighting back.

Or by just highlight how ridiculous a challenge it really was:

body-image-a4-waist-challenge.1

‘iPhone Legs’

body-image-iphone-knee-challenge

The ‘app’ly named iPhone Knee challenge was the next instalment in the continuing march of ‘hey look what I can do as it relates in no way to real or healthy concepts of beauty and appearance’ challenges.

The goal was once again not overly complicated, but did require the possession of an iPhone 6. Now with an artificial price tag, the reasonably well off could show off just how skinny and thin their legs were by gently resting their delicate hand-machine on their knees. Both knees had to be narrower than the 5.44 inch phone to be considered a success.

Resisting the personal urge to high five and congratulate each and every knobbly knee’d contestant. I looked on in wonder as once more people responded in their droves to the calling of the absurd, yet undeterred by all the ‘haters’ the internet had to offer. With one comment thread on Weibo attracting 1.95 million users alone.

Protests quickly arose, with anti-body shaming activists posing with the larger iPhone 6 plus or ipads, but alas it seemed to no avail.

2B or Not 2B

body-image-2b-pencil-challenge

Just take a minute, take one big step back and just re-evaluate your life. Does your face fit within the boundaries set by the humble 2B pencil? If not, how do you show yourself in public everyday you monster?

Moving to a so far untapped area of the body, those obsessed with being overly thin and inventing strange ways to measure it have hijacked your art supplies and are now judging you with them. Its a cruel and altogether odd world.

Luckily this challenge was more of a joke, with a little word play added for good measure. Whilst the tag line “I don’t have the A4 waist or iPhone 6 legs, but it’s okay – at least I have a 2B face,” was doing the rounds, the fact that 2B sounds like the Chinese ‘Èrbī’ (Idiot/stupid or to act stupidly) was greatly appreciated by the masses.

But this wasn’t to be the light at the end of the tunnel we had all hoped for.

100 Yuan Wrist

body-image-100-rmb-wrist-challenge

The final extremity to be tested in this long list of inanimate objects and prevailing body parts is the noble wrist. Something so fundamental to the way in which we live our lives.

Much like the iPhone Knee challenge, this venture required a display of opulence and wealth. To pass the contestant had to demonstrate their naturally thin, and therefore beautiful, wrists by wrapping one in the velvety cushion of a RMB100 note.

Some daredevils out there even resorted to the use of smaller notes! Stepping up the challenge and laying down the gauntlet of skinny wristed-ness.

What this really proved, I’m still unsure. But much like its predecessors, to be considered an attractive fully functioning member of society this was a must. Otherwise, as penance, you were forced to have your wrists removed permanently.

… I’m just kidding.

When will this nonsense end!

Of course I am detailing all these latest misguided body-shaming methods because, sadly, I can’t do any of them! I’m just sitting here now seething with envy and jealousy. But what interests me is that I haven’t heard or seen any challenges for the men of this world. Whilst pressures for women to conform to certain images has been around for a long time. In more recent years the world’s media has began to bombard men with equally unrealistic standards. Why hasn’t there been, I don’t know the Bicep Bowling Ball Challenge? In which men must prove how manly they are by comparing their arm muscles to varying sizes of bowling balls? I’d issue such a gauntlet myself, strolling around the streets slapping people in the face with a white leather glove as if declaring a duel, if I had any muscles myself to speak of, or wanted in any way to condone these crazy body tests.

What do you think of the whole body image situation, thoughts and feeling? Did you or have you taken part in any of the challenges listed, or perhaps ones that I may have missed? Feel free to leave your comments in the box(es) below.

[Image(s) from BeyondApplesBBC, Daily Mail, Tech Insider, Mashable Asia, That’s Mags x2]

Hypnotist Steven NanaWusu Wows The Pearl

All that could be heard along Zhapu Lu, Shanghai on March 26 2016 was the roaring laughter consuming the quaint and cosy Pearl Theatre.

The Hypno Comedy Show, produced and hosted by Steven NanaWusu proved once again to be a phenomenal success, captivating the crowd with feats of … you guessed it, hypnosis.

I’ll hold my hands up here and say I was a tad sceptical heading in. I’ve never much believed in the notion of hypnosis. Instead preferring to believe hypnosis was subtle mind tricks designed to lead susceptible people astray, causing them to do all kinds of outlandish things based on the whims of the hypnotist.

But having seen a group of 15 whittled down to around 9 or 10 through a series of increasingly hilarious tests, my interest really began to peak. It was clearly evident to see some of the brave volunteers slipping into a completely relaxed state of ‘trance’ faster than others, leaving heaps of bodies strewn across each other, some in what could only be described as slightly awkward positions, much to the giggling delight of the audience. Luckily the show avoided Hollywood style clichés, there were no stopwatches dangling in the face of those being hypnotised and no one at any point was told they were feeling exceptionally sleepy.

Having set about the stage providing his instructions to the willing participants, Steven let them loose, once or twice on the unsuspecting audience. The antics I beheld, along with the wailing crowd, included but weren’t limited to: a woman seeking out Viagra users through an innate sixth sense, blowing a whistle whenever  she detected one (with sublime results), dance offs, cat-walk competitions, belt snakes and a man who, no matter how thirsty he became, was rendered unable to drink his water, owing to the fact he couldn’t find his own mouth.

hypnosis-drinking-water-Hypno-Comedy-Show

It was a remarkable spectacle continually enhanced by Steven’s own sense of showmanship. Intuitively he assigned different members of his tranced-up performers varying and imaginative attributes, feelings or for lack of a better word states. He suggested that every time he touched one woman, for example, she would find him utterly repulsive, whilst simultaneously telling another there wasn’t a man alive more beautiful him. What we then privy was one woman shuddering and fleeing from him, completely and utterly unsure why as she continually apologised for her repulsion, as another foolishly giggled and smiled uncontrollably as she made subtle sexual passes. The continued combination of mystifying manoeuvres constantly sent ripples of intense laughter throughout a thoroughly entertained gathering of sceptics and believers alike. In fact it was later found that one of the night’s volunteers had, until they had succumb to hypnotism on stage, been a disbeliever of the practice.

One main reservation for many is the issue of safety, one that Steven candidly addressed. Each and every person who had slipped into a state of ‘trance’ could only do so willingly. This state is somewhat akin to a dream, meaning no one could give themselves over to this frame of mind and never wake up, as a lot of people generally fear. As the hypnotist explained, no one can ever trap themselves inside one of their own dreams, the mind simply won’t allow it. Equally at the end of the show, it was obvious everyone who had jumped at the opportunity to be hypnotised had emerged completely unscathed, except perhaps for when the memory of what they had done in front of a room of complete strangers came flooding back to them all at once. Their facial expressions alone were priceless.

But being a comedy show, it’s easy to imagine any thoughts of danger or safety soon escaped the minds of the audience as their eyes eager devoured the participants misadventures unfolding before them up on that stage.

Having witnessed my first Comedy Hypnosis Show I can and do whole-heartedly endorse it. Although my verdict is still out on whether I believe or not. What’s more I suggest you open a new tab right now and start hunting for your nearest show, it’s certainly an experience worth living.

As for those residing in Shanghai, stay tuned. As soon as I know when and where this man’s next show is, so will you! I might even see you there.

To find out more about Steven and his hypno skills, check out his Facebook page or his website.

[Image(s) from lilaclace & Hypnosis Steve NanaWusu]

Starring ‘Into the Face of Defeat’

What do you do when something goes wrong?

Everyday I am greeted by a barrage of articles and posts from across the nether sphere that is the internet, especially from platforms like LinkedIn, dealing with the pre-requisites of success; what are the top 10 habits of successful people, what 10 things do successful people do everyday etc (oddly this advice always seems to come in sets of 10, sometimes 5s).

Perhaps now, particularly today, I am more willing to implement some of the facets I have read about. Today, more than any day in my recent history, I felt pretty defeated. A class of mine, one that I used to hold in particularly high regard has slipped further down the path to failure than I had realised. The moment when it hit me hurt, at its core, at the very root of the problem must be me, their teacher.

So facing this failure of mine, this wall of defeat, I was left with a simple but altogether daunting choice, how was I going to handle the situation? I could easily bury my head in the sand, try to ride out the storm, but that’s hardy the attitude of a successful individual, and I want to be successful, there is not doubt about that.

My response was thus to formulate a plan. I’ve often read that successful people meticulously plan their days, there time is well managed and always fixed to a particular goal. So I have planned tomorrow, what I’ll do from the moment I wake to the moment I return to the land of nod. I won’t share this plan with you, it’s a little vague at the moment and may go through a few iterations first (I know, not knowing is just going to eat you up inside, or perhaps not).

Well I’ll share a few details, I have scheduled a meeting with my supervisor and my Chinese counter-part (I’m an ESL Teacher) to discuss the class, what’s gone wrong and, in the time they have left at this level, what we can do to get them back on course. Now I understand I may draw some criticism here from my colleagues, who will firmly believe I’m doing too much. Aside from my personal sense of professional pride, I have to do a good job, I owe it to the kids to do a good job. Whilst I may only teach them for a year or so, I may end up having a profound impact on their lives, or you know at least their ability to speak English, and that is fundamentally important.

As well as taking to planning my time and meeting the problem head on, I’ve adopted another attribute associated with successful people, as the internet has told me; reflection. To really turn this class around it’s important for me to reflect on what may have gone wrong as well as where and when it went wrong. I know that classroom discipline has slipped. My classes are generally pretty relaxed, I set my ground rules early on, maintain them and only punish students when they are broken. This can, however, lead to classes becoming too comfortable with you, leading to, not necessarily a lose of respect, but to kids pushing the boundaries, seeing just how far they can go and what they can get away with. Also if a lesson gets too casual, their focus will deviate and that is a consequence of my actions.

I also believe I took for granted the aptitude and intelligence the class initially displayed. They learnt and understood grammar, how to apply it, as well as vocabulary with relative ease. It’s only now, with increased complexity, their knowledge gaps have truly become apparent. My lesson planning and execution have become too lax, I became too complacent in the manner in which I taught them, and as a result their ability to conduct themselves in English has suffered, something again I must take responsibility for.

I can’t shoulder all the blame myself, as with anything the students desire to learn plays an important role in their efforts and results. Having said that, I need to face up to my failures as a teacher, I can’t run from these missteps, but now I have become aware of them, I can correct them. In the face of defeat I have made an active choice to step up, accept my faults and address them, a statement I can be proud of.

So what do you do when something goes wrong? When you face a challenge or a problem? Do you face it head on, or hide and hope it all passes you by?

Taking it One Word at a Time

Whilst my tenure as a modern day Clark Kent continues, it feels like as good a time as any to reflect on what I have achieved, experienced and a little I’ve learnt so far. Sure, I may only be a month or so into a three month long (assuming they want to keep me on) internship, but that is neither here nor there.

What have I achieved?

Achievement can be hard to pin down sometimes, there are of course more overt measures, like the growing list of articles I have published online, a record breaking 10! Having said that, perhaps record setting is a more appropriate term, as they are the very first 10. A growing list that can be found here.

But other measures of success and achievement a more relative in scope and scale, more personal. What one individual may consider a roaring success another may see as completely mundane, does a marathon runner celebrate running their first mile without taking a break for example?

Personally, hitting 10 articles in a month or so is massive to me, perhaps not much for more established writers, but we all have to start somewhere. Making small strides in my confidence through this internship is another small achievement for me. I’ve been thrown/volunteered for tasks I have had no prior experience with, in a mostly sink or swim-esque trial by fire, for the most part I’ve come out pretty unscathed, if not entirely so.

What have I experienced?

In the interest of brevity (I could go on and on about all three bold subtitles) I’ll speak in larger brush strokes. As I just mentioned, so far in this little adventure of mine, I’ve encountered some things that were entirely new to me, like testing out services and treatments or new menus before writing them up – cryotherapy being the obvious choice, a unique experience in and of itself. I’ve very much, and do still, experienced highs and lows depending on the view count my articles received, or the gut wrenching wait to find out if what I’d written was good enough. Not everything I have written has made the cut, for one reason or another, whether that be editing queues or perhaps in some cases substandard work, but in most of these instances I’ll never know. This is also the first time I’ve really had an office job, not bad at 25 right? But that’s been interesting all on its own, thankfully everyone gets on well and works together well towards a common goal, sounds a bit cliché I know, but its still true.

What have I learnt?

The process of learning is still on-going. Some of what I’ve learnt so far may seem like very basic journalist practice, but having no prior journalistic experience, I think I deserve a little slack here. Not only am I learning what is necessary to produce a catchy and engaging article for the adoring public, but I’m also learning a little about myself (I know, I know cheesy inspirational music and all that). Most importantly I’m learning that maybe just maybe I’m not that bad a writer, that people like to read what I write and just maybe I could be good at this, but that is all yet to be seen, after all it is very early doors.

So there you have it, a rather brief (and a tad vague) look into my writing escapade. Here’s to the next two months!