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2012 Oxfam tour Blog (oxfamontour.org/coldplay)


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Coldplayers, thank you

Posted by Rosie Cowling on 13 January 2012

 

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So Chris Martin wasn’t wrong when he said that Coldplay fans are the best in the world (and highly intelligent, good looking and all-round brilliant…).

 

We learnt a lot from you guys on this tour. We learnt that power is in the people. It’s all our voices that makes the loudest noise and it’s the support of people along the way that helps things run smoothly. Get ready, US and Canada, we’re coming for you this year!

We learnt that it’s not just us that care about injustice. You do too. Lots of you told us that you are trying to make little changes to the ways you shop, whether it be making less waste by cooking with leftovers, or choosing Fairtrade products.

 

We learnt that you like to make yourselves heard! When we had our Oxfam Thinking Caps on to discuss how we could best show the level of support in a future where injustice is out and a fair food system is in, we had no idea people would take to our hashtag action as you guys did! The GROW fan wall started filling up straight away and now we have over 3500 of your faces on there. Coldplay were so impressed, they released a

to celebrate the growing movement.

And we learnt that Oxfam volunteers are seriously hard working. While I was lucky enough to be at the Manchester show (see my blog about being a first-time campaigner here), it was the volunteers (and of course tour coordinators Pete and Esme) who did the most hard work. It’s not always easy talking to people about such a big topic as food. Where do you start? There are many factors and sometimes you need to break it down and do the hard-sell. But it’s always nice when people listen. And that’s just what people did.

 

Coming up… A look forward to this year’s tour.

 

And also… if you love cooking and think you can create a meal good enough for a top international chef to put on his menu, why not enter our GROW recipe competition on Facebook.

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Behind the band: meet Digital Technician Neill

Posted by Rosie Cowling on 23 January 2012

 

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Photo by Roadie #42 for Coldplay.com

 

Behind every great band, there’s a great technician. And great roadies, great caterers, great box office attendants…I could go on.

 

So in the first of more behind-the-scene interviews to come, i’d thought i’d share with you an interview with Neill Lambert, Coldplay’s Digital Technician, where he tells me about how he swung his envious job, what it’s like touring with one of the biggest rock bands in the world and exactly what he thinks of Oxfam…

 

Pete: Hi Neill, thank you for taking the time to talk to me. Could you tell me a bit about your job on this tour?

 

Neill: My formal title is Digital Technician, and this job falls in the ‘backline’ department. In non-gobble-de-gook, I look after the band’s instruments that aren’t guitars or drums. I’ll take care of pianos and keyboards, drum samples, synthesisers and percussion loops that the band might use in a show.

 

P: What does a show day involve for you?

 

N: Hopefully, i’ll set up and test all my equipment and it will all work! We will ‘line check’, meaning we’ll test all sounds from their creation right through to them coming out of the PA system. Then the band will probably want to ‘sound check’, meaning rehearse during the afternoon, and then i’ll be there for the show in the evening. Hopefully it all works, but sometimes this is unrealistic, so i’ll be on hand to fix stuff if it breaks.

 

P: Do you work with the band when they are not out on tour?

 

N: I do little bits for them in the studio, like tuning and fixing drums, and building sound projects.

 

P: How long have you been touring and how long with Coldplay?

 

N: I’ve been touring with bands now for over 15 years. The last 4 or so i’ve been with Coldplay.

 

P: Who else have you been on tour with before?

 

N: I’ve worked on tours with the Flaming Lips, and the White Stripes. There’s a long list! Recently I also worked with the Kills, Mika, and the Futureheads.

 

P: It must have been nice to catch up with the Flaming Lips when they supported Coldplay on the Viva La Vida stadium run in 2009?

 

N: It really is a lot of fun to meet old friends while you are out working. Everyone is out and moving, but there is always a lovely sense of camaraderie, of belonging to something – the music.

 

P: How did you get the envious job of Digital Technician for a rock band?

 

N: That’s a hard one. It didn’t happen overnight, I know that. At the end of the last tour, I thanked Jonny Buckland for taking me out, and he said “we were trying to get you for years”. I’d never even thought of it like that, but you never know who’s watching your work, you know?

 

P: What are the strangest and best things about touring the world with a rock band?

 

N: Strangest – the speed at which you travel through all these places. It never ceases to amaze me just how far you go in such a short space of time. The best has to be getting paid to be with your friends and watch a show every night. Who wouldn’t want that?

 

P: What do you think of Oxfam’s presence on this tour?

 

N: I’ve always been a big fan of this alliance. I like the presence of the organisation, which never steps over into being in your face. It presents its truth, and lets people for themselves decide what they think. I was always a bit sceptical of the ‘big sell’ especially in entertainment, but it doesn’t happen like that with Oxfam and Coldplay. It’s a long term relationship too, that adds a lot of credibility.

 

P: Have you ever been involved with Oxfam yourself?

 

N: I have bought Christmas presents from Oxfam Unwrapped, clean drinking water and so on. And I must have spent thousands in Oxfam Books and Music over the years!

 

P: Last question…Oxfam’s GROW campaign is about the food system, what is your favourite food?

 

N: The boring good stuff: great salads, vegetarian, Japanese. But it’s winter and i’m at home in London, so right now pies take it!

 

P: Thanks so much for your answers, Neill. Much appreciated!

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The Olympic Food Vision

Posted by Rosie Cowling on 01 February 2012

 

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2012 offers so much to look forward to! Not only are Oxfam continuing to tour with Coldplay, starting in Edmonton, Canada on 17 April, but this is the year that Great Britain, that little island which Coldplay call home, will host the 27th Summer Olympic Games in London, England on 27 July.

 

The Olympics is a huge cultural event, which spans not only the world of sport, but many other aspects of our lives. Its athletes are positive role models for young people and it is a great opportunity to teach our children about the rich and diverse cultures of the many countries competing.

 

Olympic appetites

 

But what about the food? It might not be the first thing you think of when you think about the Olympics, but add up all the millions of spectators and the thousands of athletes, officials and media and that’s a lot of hungry mouths to feed! It has been estimated that 14 million meals will need to be made in the Olympic village alone. Is it going to be possible to provide healthy, nutritious, good-value and ethnically diverse food to satisfy that many people?

 

Running on leftovers

 

The catering of the 2012 Olympic games will be the largest peace-time feeding operation in history, ever. Compared to the last time Britain hosted the games, in 1948, in the shadow of World War Two, things are very different. Food, then, was still being rationed in Britain. British 200m runner Silvia Cheeseman remembers being very envious of the American athletes packed lunches:

 

“The Americans had their lunch provided by their country, but we had to bring our own. They would often not finish their boxes, so when they’d gone, the British athletes would take the food they’d left!

 

Seeing all this unusual food we’d never seen before, of course we ate it! It was a case of the British getting the crumbs from the rich man’s table.”

 

While some things have changed (we’ll be feeding our athletes this time!) the food system still puts some at the top of the food chain, with those at the bottom not able to reach what they need. With countries like Haiti, Tanzania, El Salvador, and Azerbaijan competing, their athletes might be thinking about the people back home who aren’t getting enough to eat, due to rising food prices or as small-farmers not able to grow enough food to sell to market because drastic climate changes have made their crops fail.

 

In 1948, the Americans swept the medal board. Maybe this had something to do with the fact that they were fit and strong, having access to plenty of food without rationing. Countries that can feed the majority of their population well, like Australia and Canada, often steam ahead at the Olympics. This shows how big an impact a lack of regular and nutritious food can have on an entire country.

 

Flexing our consumer muscles

 

The Olympics is a chance for us to show our power and influence as consumers. The fact that all the fish at the Olympics is sustainably fished, all the meat is farm-assured and all the tea and coffee is fairtrade, shows that the big brands know we are coming to expect better standards from them.

 

Watching countries showcase their best sportswomen and men is a chance to think about the food that comes from that country, who grows it and whether they are being treated fairly, and make better choices about the products we buy. When you see Usain Bolt from Jamaica on the Gold podium (inevitable!), why not think about the next time you buy bananas? Caribbean bananas are grown on small family owned farms using more sustainable methods of production than those used on the huge monoculture plantations in Latin America. There’s an easy shopping choice right there.

 

Here are some foodie facts for you. To feed the crowds and all those hungry athletes, this Olympic village will produce:

 

25,000 loaves of bread

232 tonnes of potatoes

More than 82 tonnes of seafood

31 tonnes of poultry items

More than 100 tonnes of meat

75,000 litres of milk

19 tonnes of eggs

21 tonnes of cheese

More than 330 tonnes of fruit and vegetables

 

We’d love to know which athletes you’ll be cheering for and the country you’ll be supporting. Let us know in the comments!

 

Image from http://www.london2012.com. Silvia’s quote from the Food Programme: London 2012, Coke and McDonald on BBC Radio Four (15 January)

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Coldplay’s The Scientist takes food production ‘Back to the Start’

Posted by Rosie Cowling on 17 February 2012

 

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US-based Mexican food chain Chipotle have chosen a Coldplay song for their short film about small-scale farming. Country & Western star Willie Nelson provides the track for the film; a charming cover of Coldplay’s The Scientist.

 

‘Back to the Start’ depicts the life of a cartoon farmer as he slowly turns his family farm into an industrial animal factory before seeing the errors of his ways and opting for a more sustainable future. It highlights the harsh reality of food production and distribution in the United States and the effect it has had on the environment and on family farms.

 

Rather than the red barns and white picket fences that come to mind when we think of American farms, the reality is very different. Large-scale industrialized farms have largely replaced independent family-run ones as the primary suppliers of meat, dairy and vegetables within the United States. Family farms represent 88% of the total farms, but just 16% of the food produced. This makes food cheaper, but the costs are shifted to other parts of the system in terms of environmental damage and loss of earnings for small-scale farmers.

 

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMfSGt6rHos&feature=player_embedded]Back to the Start - YouTube[/ame]

 

The system’s broken. Cheaply produced food stops family farmers make a decent buck at market and forces them to buy the cheaper food going, rather than grow their own, because they struggle to sell it. It’s a vicious cycle.

 

Occupy the Food System

 

Willie has been fighting small-farmers’ corner for over 25 years. In December last year urged us to ‘occupy’ our food system. “[The food system] belongs in the hands of many family farmers, not under the control of a handful of corporations”, says Willie. He is president of Farm Aid, an organisation that campaigns to keep family farms running in the US.

 

“Each and every day family farmers work to sustain a better alternative — an agricultural system that guarantees farmers a fair living, strengthens our communities, protects our natural resources and delivers good food for all. Nothing is more important than the food we eat and the family farmers who grow it.”

 

Nobody said it was easy

 

As the song says, nobody said it was easy. Fixing the food system isn’t something we can do over night, but change IS possible. WhichColdplay track would you like to see used for the GROW campaign and why?

 

Willie’s cover of The Scientist is available from iTunes. Proceeds go to The Chipotle Cultivate Foundation, which is dedicated to encouraging sustainable farming methods.

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Ching-He Huang’s Chinese Fakeaway

Posted by Ching-He Huang on 27 February 2012

 

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A warm welcome to our guest blogger Ching-He Huang. Ching is a Taiwanese-born British food writer, food entrepreneur and TV chef who has hosted and appeared on many UK TV shows, including Ching’s Kitchen on the Good Food Channel and Chinese Food in Minutes on Five.

 

Ching has also has written several best-selling cookery books, including Ching’s Fast Food (HarperCollins). You can read more about Ching and her love of traditional Chinese cuisine at chinghehuang.com.

 

Ching-He Huang’s Chinese Fakeaway

 

The humble Friday night takeaway is an institution across the globe. From China and Australia, to the US and Europe, despite our cultural differences, many of us are united in our love of the sacred takeout.

 

There is a greater takeaway menu choice than ever before, but before we tuck into our chilli beef, curry or pizza, do we stop to think whether the meat we’re eating is ethically reared, or if the tomatoes in the sauce have flown thousands of miles, or if the rice farmers that grow the rice for our curry are paid a fair wage and given rights to their land?

 

Despite many restaurants adopting a more ethical approach to their menus, our only reassurance that we know what we’re eating is to buy our own ingredients from sustainable sources and to make it ourselves. This way it’s healthier, fresher, tastier – and it’s easy to do too!

 

One of my favourite takeaway dishes is General Tso’s Chicken – there are variations of this recipe all over the world and here’s my version from Ching’s Fast Food.

 

General Tso’s Chicken

 

Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook in: 9 minutes | Serves: 2–4 to share

 

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Ingredients

 

2 skinless free range chicken breasts, cut

 

into 1.5cm (58 in) cubes

 

Salt and ground white pepper

 

1 tbsp of potato flour or cornflour

 

1 tbsp of groundnut oil

 

1 clove of garlic, crushed

 

4 dried red chillies

 

1 tbsp of Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry

 

4 spring onions, chopped into 2.5cm (1in) lengths

 

For the sauce

 

1 tbsp of yellow bean sauce

 

1 tbsp of light soy sauce

 

1 tbsp of tomato ketchup

 

1 tbsp of chilli sauce

 

1 tsp of soft light brown sugar or runny honey

 

1 tsp of dark soy sauce

 

1. Place the chicken in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the potato flour or cornflour and mix well. Place the ingredients for the sauce in another bowl and stir together.

 

2. Heat a wok over a high heat until it starts to smoke and then add the groundnut oil. Add the garlic and dried chillies and fry for a few seconds, then tip in the chicken pieces and stir-fry for 2 minutes. As the chicken starts to turn opaque, add the rice wine or dry sherry. Cook for another 2 minutes, then pour in the sauce and bring to the boil.

 

3. Cook the chicken in the sauce for a further 2 minutes or until it is cooked through and the sauce has reduced and thickened and is slightly sticky. Add the spring onions and cook for just under 1 minute, then transfer to a serving plate and serve immediately.

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Hunger is Not a Game

Posted by Rosie Cowling on 30 March 2012

 

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Fans of Suzanne Collins’ dystopian franchise The Hunger Games sure have a ferocious appetite. The film adaptation of the novels, which premiered this week across the world, is currently sweeping box office records.

 

The Hunger Games is about a post-apocalyptic world in the fictional country of Panem (once North America). Each year, The Capitol, a rich metropolis holding absolute power and keeping millions in poverty, holds The Hunger Games, in which one teen boy and one teen girl from each of the 12 districts are selected to compete in a televised battle until only one survives.

 

Pretty far-fetched, right? Making them fight, just to stay alive? Keeping millions of people perpetually hungry and unable to get themselves out of poverty? Hang on, some of that sounds awfully familiar. Rising food prices have led to riots worldwide over the last few years. Make the ‘millions’ one billion and you’re somewhere near the truth. That’s not so much fiction as reality.

 

Oxfam and GROW has teamed up with fan-focus project Imagine Better, from the Harry Potter Alliance, who have created a new campaign about the injustices in the food system, Hunger is Not a Game. At the midnight premiere screenings of the film in the US, fans were asked to sign up to the campaign and to create a community within a community among Hunger Games fans by tweeting about real-life hunger, with the hashtag #notagame.

 

So what is that motivates fans to be activists? The Harry Potter and Twilight franchises have proved that fans of the Young Adult novels that are part of the fasting-growing literary genre are quite an extraordinary bunch of people. Communities of fans are already culturally active; they create conversations online about the stories they love, organise events, use social media to make their favourite characters trend. They are already using the tools of online activism.

 

Not only are these groups of fans hugely dedicated to the stories, they really care about making social change and will go out of their way to help a cause they believe in, in the name of the characters they love. Not that surprising I suppose, when you think about the issues YA novels tackle; things like poverty and hardship (The Hunger Games) and being an outsider (Harry Potter). These are real-life things, not just fantasy. Through the Harry Potter Alliance, Potterphiles have sent $123,000 (£77,275) worth of relief supplies to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, donated more than 88,000 books across the world, raised awareness about important issues like net neutrality and taken on Maine’s 2009 ballot that sought to repeal same sex marriage.

 

If you saw #KONY2012 trending on Twitter earlier this month, you might be aware that one of the reasons the video was seen by 30 million people in just 48 hours (making it the fastest viral ever) is because the group behind it, Invisible Children, targeted celebrities with very powerful fans in order to get their message out. Two forces to be reckoned with; the Beliebers and the Little Monsters (Justin Bieber’s and Lady Gaga’s fans respectively). The fans were outraged by the tale of Joseph Kony and they made some noise about it. LOTS of it.

 

Of course this isn’t the first time Oxfam has connected with fans (hello, you!). We already know that fans care. Because you’re reading this blog! Just looking at the vast numbers of you that tweeted #lovefoodhateinjustice and had your pictures taken at the Coldplay gigs last year, it’s clear to see that if your favourite band, film franchise or book talks about issues important to you, you’re going to want to talk about them as well. After all, it’s through stories that we express ourselves.

 

The Harry Potter Alliance: Hunger is Not a Game

 

Coming up! Introducing our new tour coordinator Rachel…

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Introducing: ‘Little Pea’!

Posted by Rachel Edwards on 05 April 2012

 

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As I write, i’m sat in the Oxfam head office, packing up the final things for the Coldplay crew to pack onto the tour buses. In a few hours our case of food costumes, stickers and stamps and our brand new photo booth will be on its way to Canada to join the first leg of Coldplay’s global Mylo Xyloto tour.

 

Hi, i’m Rachel, the new tour coordinator for Oxfam on Tour with Coldplay. I will be blogging about my journey through Canada, US and Europe, discussing all the wonderful things that come with a Coldplay tour and joining up with hundreds of campaigners and fans to talk about the injustices in the food system and how they affect millions around the world, as well as the food we all love.

 

Food is something I can talk about for hours; my favourite food, the strangest thing I eaten, my best pizza vendor. When it comes to choosing where my food comes from, I am very careful to think about free range, local or if I’m feeling swish, organic.

 

But what I don’t understand is why the food system is in such disarray. So many people go hungry, yet in some countries we waste up to a quarter of the food we buy. I see so much food outside my local shop that is thrown away because it’s the wrong shape or size. Surely this system can’t be working; shouldn’t we be sharing our food wealth?

 

What is exciting to see is that so many people feel the same way and thousands of people have already signed up to the GROW wall and are following us on Twitter. It isn’t just Oxfam that feels the system needs fixing, millions globally feels this, too.

 

So my journey starts here, little old ‘pea’ in a tour case, ready to leave London and start talking with campaigners and Coldplayers globally about how we can fix the food system. I can’t wait to see you all at the gigs or chatting on Twitter. So if you’re at a Coldplay gig, make sure you come and speak to our campaigners and get your picture taken with Oxfam. Or if you can’t get there this time, I’ll be tweeting from @oxfamontour. Tweet #lovefoodhateinjustice and your photo will appear on our GROW wall.

 

See you all across the ocean! Rachel.

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Volunteer for Oxfam with Coldplay

Posted by Rosie Cowling on 12 April 2012

 

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Coldplay with Viva La Vida tour coordinator Soha Yassine

 

SO, it’s just one day until Rachel flies out to join the Coldplay crew for the first show of the new tour on April 17 (Tuesday), in Edmonton, Canada.

 

While she’s busy packing and saying farewells to the team at Oxfam GB in England, I thought you guys might like to know a little about about how YOU could be an Oxfam volunteer at a Coldplay gig near you.

 

Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver in Canada are covered, with volunteers recruited from outreach at university Oxfam groups and committees. BUT…

 

Oxfam America is now recruiting for volunteers for US shows from April 24.

 

I’m a huge Coldplay fan and I hate injustice. How can I get involved?

 

If you love Coldplay, live in the US and you’re as passionate as we are about finding solutions to hunger, poverty and injustice, then find your closest show, sign-up and see the show for free!

 

What will I have to do?

 

As a volunteer, your role will be to talk to concert-goers about the GROW campaign. GROW is all about conversations; talking to friends, family and others about one thing we all have in common – food, and how we can make the system better for everyone. “The GROW campaign is one of those rare campaigns where we can talk about something everyone can identify with,” Oxfam America’s music relations guy Bob Ferguson told musicforgood.tv.

 

** SIGN-UP TO VOLUNTEER AT A US SHOW **

 

What if I don’t live in the US?

 

If you’re in another part of the world, don’t worry, we need you too. We’ll add more information about volunteering in your country as soon as your local Oxfam (or a partner organisation if you’re in non-Oxfam countries like Denmark, Sweden, Czech Republic and Poland) starts recruiting.

 

Find your local Oxfam:

 

Canada - Oxfam Canada and Oxfam Québec

 

US - Oxfam America [www.oxfamamerica.org/coldplay]

 

UK - Oxfam GB

 

France - Oxfam France

 

Netherlands - Oxfam Novib

 

Germany - Oxfam Germany [www.oxfam.de/coldplay]

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Everything’s big in Canada

Posted by Rachel Edwards on 17 April 2012

 

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I’ve been in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada for two days and I have to say, one thing I have noticed is how much bigger things are here than the UK!

 

The biggest shopping malls, coffee cups, cars and most importantly, the biggest group of friendly people. Since I touched down I have been overwhelmed with how friendly everyone is, which has helped put my nerves at bay about flying across the ocean to be part of this amazing tour.

 

As it’s my first time on the Coldplay tour I didn’t really know what to expect. But let me tell you, this tour isn’t just a band with a few staff putting up lights. It’s a whole entourage of experts in music, film, set design and lighting.

 

We all rolled into the arena at 6am and everyone scurried off to start their own tasks to prepare for the show. I followed suit and started setting up the Oxfam set, complete with food costume, badges and a photo booth.

 

As it approached dinner time, the crew were all set for band rehearsals so I joined everyone for dinner. Sitting down to eat, with an array of food around me, I started to think that the food on the table – chicken curry with all the trimmings – could look very different indeed if the caterers were unable to afford rice because the price had risen so high. This is happening to millions around the world. A team like this wouldn’t be able to exist for so long on the road with long hours without getting sick if they didn’t have the vitamins they needed. Should this be right, that some people live like this and other don’t due to the unfair food system and price hikes?

 

This is why I’m so excited that Oxfam are part of the Coldplay tour. Now our Oxfam campaigners have the opportunity to talk to Coldplay fans about the unfair food system and get them to use their BIG voices and join Oxfam to change the food system. Come on Canada, everything else is big here, let’s make sure your voices are too!

 

Rachel x

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Challenge: Represent your city with food pictures!

Posted by Rosie Cowling on 19 April 2012

 

We have a challenge for you! Show your home town or city some love by featuring its food on the GROW wall.

 

We want you to show us your town or city’s ‘food personality’. If a city can be defined by its most popular food, what does your home town or city’s signature dish say about it?

 

We want to integrate much-loved dishes from around the world into the GROW wall, which currently has over 4100 faces on it. So, what tickles your taste buds in Toronto? What’s Hannover hankering for? What’s a treat in Detroit?

 

How can I get involved?

 

It’s easy:

 

1) Get a friend to take a picture of you with some of your city’s favourite or best known food.

 

2) Make the photo your profile picture on Twitter.

 

3) Sending a tweet saying which town or city you are from and why the food you’ve chosen is important to the place. Tweet the hashtag #lovefoodhateinjustice so that it will be seen on our GROW wall. Put “@oxfamontour” at the end and that way all your followers get to see what you are saying as well as us!

 

Here’s me scoffing my home town London’s famous fish and chips:

 

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My tweet:

 

“In London we love to eat fish and chips because it’s a big part of our history! #lovefoodhateinjustice @oxfamontour”

 

Make sure we can see the food in the picture but also that we can see your face. It’s faces we want on the wall! Don’t worry if you feel silly having food in your profile picture, you can change it back as soon as you’ve tweeted and the GROW wall will keep the food picture. The photo will only appear on the wall if it’s your profile picture.

 

Good luck!

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Thank you Edmonton

Posted by Rachel Edwards on 20 April 2012

 

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So the tour has begun and it has definitely started with a bang!

 

From 1pm on the first day of the tour, Oxfam Canada and I set about putting together the Oxfam set. The volunteers rocked up at 4pm and were straight into their food costumes. A veggie fashion show in the Rexall Centre – now i’ve seen everything! Everyone was buzzing about our campaign and excited about talking to people about changing our ways and creating a fairer food system for the world.

 

Around 7, doors opened and the stadium was flooded with Coldplay fans, filling the stadium with a buzz that could only come with 16,000 excited people in one place, for one reason; to see their favourite rock band.

 

From the very start Oxfam volunteers were on fire! The Oxfam on tour twitter account was a hive of activity and the photo booth went down a storm. Everyone wanted to be part of the Oxfam vibe and join our campaign. It was such an amazing thing to see that people all over the world care about the food system and agree that it’s unfair. It isn’t just people in some cities that care about these issues, these issues effect everyone. Most of us know that we need to make changes to the way we produce, buy and eat food, and we want to help show people ways they can help.

 

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At 9pm Coldplay was about to start and I said goodbye to the volunteers. I had only been with them for a few short hours but their energy and passion for sharing the GROW message with others filled me with excitement and anticipation for what the rest of the tour will bring.

 

Coldplay started and I slipped to the side of the stage in time to watch the encore. It was incredible! The band put on an immense show with a mixture of songs old and new, and a set with all the trimmings, including an arena full of exclusive wristbands which lit up Rexall in an array of neon colours.

 

The audience were singing and jumping to every note that Coldplay played. This gig was the perfect way to kick off a global tour! Thanks everyone for your warm spirits and being part of the Oxfam work.

 

Edmonton you sure set the bar high.

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Individual actions create ripples. Working together creates a wave.

Posted by Rachel Edwards on 23 April 2012

 

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It’s 7am and i’ve woken up on the bus driving through the stunning scenery of Canada.

 

I pop on the kettle for cup of tea to wake me up. You can take a gal out of England but you can’t take England out of a gal. As I switched on the laptop to start tweeting, I stop to watch the world go by. This country is beautiful.

 

That’s when it hits me just how exciting this trip is, both for me and for you guys. From the comfort of your own home you can get snippets of Coldplay, read my blogs and communicate with the whole world via Twitter and Facebook about what is happening with the food system in your country and what we can do globally to change it.

 

As I packed my stuff up again – the giant jigsaw that is my tour case – the bus rolls into Vancouver. Today was a day off after the amazing Calgary gig, so I wandered down to the harbour front and took in the sights of Harbour Green Park. Snapping away on the camera I found a quote by artist Jill Anholt,

 

“Individual actions create ripples. Working together creates a wave.”

 

This quote seems to sum up this whole tour and illustrate what the volunteers and myself are trying to do. It also made me understand why Coldplay would ask us to come on tour with them; to create a wave of change.

 

So what is it like to be on tour, I hear you ask? It’s like being on a rollercoaster which slows down in the morning to collect the tour team and equipment, speeds up to the next city, chugs up the hill to set up the stages in a new venue and then rushes down the high drop as the band comes on to perform, making the crowd scream with excitement. It is such fun meeting new people in every city and feeding off their energy for talking to people and joining the Oxfam movement.

 

For me this tour shows how much music and food issues unite people. So if you’re reading this and want to do more, start conversations near you. Go to your local Oxfam facebook page or tweet your concerns for the food system followed by #lovefoodhateinjustice. Then pop over to the GROW wall and see just how many people agree with you. Go on, people, let’s start a global wave!

 

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“Have you been approached by a vegetable yet?”

Posted by Juliette Buiter on 24 April 2012

 

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Ms Tomato AKA Juliette

 

This is a guest blog. Juliette, AKA Ms Tomato, volunteered with Oxfam at the Edmonton Coldplay show.

 

Being someone who thoroughly enjoys donating my time to good causes, I jumped at the opportunity to combine going to a Coldplay concert with garnishing support for a great cause. But what exactly was this organisation called Oxfam?

 

After some Googling, I discovered that Oxfam was right up my alley – I am a firm believer in equality, social sustainability and women’s rights. And i’m a true food lover!

 

But I lost my appetite completely when I discovered that one out of every seven people in the world goes hungry each day. While enough is food produced, it simply is not reaching some people, because the food system is broken. How can that be when I can order in at the touch of a button and take home a doggy bag after each meal?

 

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Juliette's view of the show in Edmonton

 

Sitting behind my computer contemplating the unfairness of it all, I needed to vent my feelings and chose Facebook as the place to do it. Speaking to others about the food system sparked some interesting conversations. I could distinguish between two groups: people who had no idea about the injustices in the food issue and those that didn’t really understand the facts. I knew i’d made a good decision signing up to talk to people about why we need to change our eating habits for the better.

 

Volunteering at the concert in Edmonton, in my giant tomato outfit, I thought carefully about how best to approach the hordes of Coldplay fans. Since the band was the uniting factor, I thought casually dropping their name seemed like a good strategy! Here are some opening phrases I decided to use that had the most success:

 

“You must be a huge Coldplay fan; well did you know that Coldplay is a huge Oxfam fan?!”

 

“We’re touring with Coldplay and would like to tell you about Coldplay’s favorite charity: Oxfam!”

 

“If you give me two minutes of your time I’ll tell you how to get your picture on Oxfam’s Coldplay tour website!”

 

The phrases which actually had 100% success rate to pledge sign-up were: “Have you been approached by a vegetable yet?” and “You are probably wondering why I am dressed like a tomato, well let me tell you….” Coldplay’s name did not necessarily need to be mentioned for Edmontonians to show their support to the GROW campaign, though it certainly helped!

 

Some strategies proved more successful than others, and with Coldplay’s diverse fan groups we had to adjust our opening line depending on age, gender and group size. But what truly helped was my tomato costume. It drew the crowd’s attention and many people even approached me and asked if they could take a picture of the Apple, the Strawberry and the Tomato. So in retrospect, maybe I underestimated the genuine interest of Coldplay fans in this good cause!

 

Within just two hours we had over 60 new sign-ups. Although we were exhausted and had no voice left to sing along to our favorite Coldplay songs by the end of the night, it had been an extremely rewarding and satisfying night!

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Portland, the Foodie City

Posted by Rachel Edwards on 26 April 2012

 

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I’ve spent the last two days replenishing my gig energy with the delights of Portland’s food. Portland, Oregon is everything I could want from an American city, with a punk scene, street art scattered everywhere, outdoor food joints and people singing with guitars on the street corners. It was like walking through a festival.

 

As I wandered through the city, I began to think of what an ideal place Portland is to talk to people about the global food system. Food is in Portland’s blood, their Saturday food markets are incredible! There is food from Thailand, Italy, Mexico and El Salvador, to name a few. All being served up on a hot spring day.

 

As I sampled the delights of the markets, I start thinking about the people in the countries where the street vendor’s food came from, who were struggling to buy enough food for their families to eat. Such as people in Tanuja Dhanuk, India, who can’t afford flour and rice for their families. And there it was, the ideal way to talk to Portland people about the food system at gigs, talk to them about their food markets. They all love food, care about it and love the diversity of it; their food markets speak for themselves.

 

Portland doesn’t just have food markets; it is at the forefront of local food movements. Every third Tuesday of each month Portland people meet at a ‘Local Food Breakfast’. The breakfast is a space for people to discuss local food movements, trends and farming activities. Its focus is to ensure the people know how to eat locally.

 

Portland also has a Slow Food movement: A cooperative that advocates for locally grown food and provides ways for people to source and be creative with their cooking. One amazing guide the Slow Food movement created was a ‘Real Time Farms´ guide. This guide tracks hundreds of products back to where they first started in the farms, to ensure people can determine exactly where their food came from. Such inspirational shopping really got me thinking about what I can do with my own food consumption to improve the food system.

 

Portland, you left me with some ‘food for thought’ and I know we left you with the same from all the people who signed up at the gig last night. From now on I will ensure that all the produce I can buy locally, I will. This is a simply step we can all take to change the food system.

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Life on the road

Posted by Rachel Edwards on 27 April 2012

 

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I’m sat in my room after a day on the open road, from Seattle to San Jose. I thought I’d share with you what it’s like to be on the road and a glimpse of the journey from Seattle to San Jose.

 

We set off from Seattle at 3am after the huge trucks rolled out and everyone jumped on their bus. I spent a few hours sat with the other roadies as we discussed what we were going to do with our days off tomorrow. Being as their caterers we usually discuss food. Yum.

 

At 4am I crawled into my bunk for a cosy night sleep, being rocked to sleep by the twists of the road. I woke up at about 10am, grabbed a coffee from our machine and got comfortable on the seat next to the driver. Perfect position to watch the world go by. “We’re in California” said my driver, in his strong American accent, “yay, I’m from South Carolina”. He attempts to do an English accent and asks for a ‘spot of tea’. Amusing every time!

 

California is beautiful! Full of the brightest green hills and crystal blue lakes. We had 4 hours left until we got to San Jose, so I hit the sofa with some tortillas and salsa and watched the TV show Friends.

 

We got to San Jose at 5pm, I dumped my bags in the hotel and went out on the search for some food. The San Pedro Markets were awesome. I grabbed some Thai, it was this or fish and chips, very hard decision! After my food I set out on a walk to capture San Jose in pictures, so you guys can feel the warmth that this Spanish-influenced city gave to me.

 

Enjoy my trip photos, from Seattle to San Jose, they are all yours.

 

Rachel x

 

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The making of a Coldplay gig

Posted by Rachel Edwards on 29 April 2012

 

A working day starts at 6am for some. The caters, riggers and lighting crew get to the venue first to set up the kitchens, dining room, stage, tv screens and put up all the lighting. The crew grab a coffee or tea and get into their climbing gear to clamber up to dizzying heights to create a set, and hang their lights and lasers from. It’s like auditions for Spiderman with 5 or 6 people in the air at one time, scurrying up and down free hanging ladders.

 

As the stage hands continue the caterers and dressing room people are busy backstage creating lounge areas, warm up rooms for the bands, dressing rooms and crew rooms, complete with sofas, refreshment stands and desks, for the people like me and the VIP people to create a little office from.

 

At 9am, myself, VIP and ‘the wristband boys’ (the lovely fellas who created the neon flashing wristbands for the Coldplay gig), arrive at the venue. The wristband people start activating the 16,000 wristbands on the concourse whilst I prepare the Oxfam stall and the VIP girls set up their stall and tickets.

 

We all break for lunch around 3pm before sound check. By this point the stage is ready and everyone is set for the show, now we wait the bands. As the bands arrive, sound check starts and the familiar Coldplay songs start as the band warms up. At 6pm and the venue is now buzzing as the show is about to start and people start flooding in the doors.

 

By 7pm the first band comes on and the action begins, with camera crew, lighting, wristband boys on laptops and backliners (guitarists and drummers) restringing and tuning the band’s instruments, the crew are a hype of activity.

 

By 11.30 pm the show is finished, all the crew take a well earned rest for 10 minutes and then start the ‘load out’: Pulling all the stage down, repacking all the instruments and loading everything back on buses to drive to the next town. By 3am all the crew are back on their buses and enjoying a ‘load out’ snack before they climb into their bunks.

 

Farewell venue, until the next morning, when we wake at the next venue and it begins again. Touring is awesome!

 

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Stay connected with Oxfam on Tour

Posted by Rosie Cowling on 01 May 2012

 

There are so many ways to keep in touch and up-to-date with Oxfam on Tour with Coldplay.

 

Pinterest

 

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You can keep up-to-date with Rachel’s on-the-road adventures by checking out our pins on pinterest.com/oxfamontour.

 

Instagram

 

We’re on Instagram. Search for oxfamontour on your iPhone, or view pictures online – on web.stagram/n/oxfamontour.

 

Here are some of the best photos so far:

 

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Bob’s best

 

Bob Ferguson, who is in charge of artist liaison and music relations at Oxfam America, is travelling with the tour while it’s on the West Coast. He kindly sent us some of his best photos from Seattle and Portland:

 

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Coldplay’s wall of fans keeps on GROWing

 

Getting your face on the GROW wall of fans is easy! Just tweet #lovefoodhateinjustice to show your support for a better world food system and your face will become part of the huge mural of fans who think food injustice is rotten.

 

Find your face

 

Have you been at any of the US or Canada shows and had your picture taken by a volunteer? You can find all the photos so far on your local Oxfam’s Facebook page. Find your or your friends’ faces and add a funny caption; we’ll tweet the best ones.

 

Oxfam Canada: www.facebook.com/oxfamcanada

 

Oxfam America: www.facebook.com/oxfamamerica

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Coldplay in Los Angeles

Posted by Rachel Edwards on 02 May 2012

 

Two weeks into the tour and I’m at Hollywood Bowl. If you had said to me three months ago when I was sat in my cold flat in North London that I would be on tour with Coldplay and we would be in Hollywood, where I can see the white Hollywood letters perched upon the hillside from my window, I would not have believed you. What an amazing way to finish up the first leg of the tour by ending in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Bowl.

 

Hollywood Bowl is a beautiful venue. An open air amphitheatre set within the lush green Hollywood hills. A little gem (well not really that little with 17,000 people present) set away from the chaotic wonders of Hollywood Boulevard. As I pulled in to start work for the day we passed the art deco Hollywood Bowl sign. I’m sure I had stepped back into the 50’s, I just needed a rara skirt and a milkshake.

 

Inside the Bowl is filled with retro posters from previous gigs. Coldplay were playing on the same stage as the Beatles, Nat King Cole and Elton John. I was so excited to see the Coldplay boys play this arena like so many famous people before them.

 

The atmosphere was a mixture of chilled out diners sat in the front stands having an evening dinner and wine, mixed with an electric buzz from the front rows and centre stalls. There was a festival vibe to this venue, with its outdoor bars and roasted food stands adding a camp fire smell to the mix.

 

Coldplay came on with a bang! Fireworks lit up the hillside stadium and confetti fluttered into the amphitheatre. The boys played out the ‘Hurts like Heaven’ intro and the crowd started jumping to the beat. Everyone’s arms were in the air and the wristbands were flashing to the rhythm. Everyone started screaming as Chris started to sing, ecstatic with the rush of the music and how good it feels to be part of a concert you have waited so long to see. I love it every time. But for some reason this gig tonight was special, I was memorised watching the crowd moving together with neon lights rushing through the open LA night. Hollywood Bowl had something special tonight! Congratulations Coldplay! The gig was amazing!

 

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Chris Martin meets our volunteers

Posted by Rosie Cowling on 08 May 2012

 

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There are obvious perks to being an Oxfam volunteer at a Coldplay gig. There’s getting to talk to people about something you feel passionate about, there’s the not-to-be-missed opportunity to prance about dressed up like fruit and veg, and of course there’s getting to see your favourite band for free.

 

But occasionally, just occasionally, you might even meet a rock star.

 

Before the gig at Hollywood Bowl on Friday, Chris Martin took a walk in the Hollywood sunshine to come and meet our LA volunteers. He thanked them for volunteering and ask them how the GROW campaign was going. They told him which songs they wanted to hear the band play.

 

Check out those grins!

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A low down of the adventures of Oxfam on tour in Canada and America

Posted by Rachel Edwards on 09 May 2012

 

I’m sat back in my London flat after a three week whirl wind tour of Canada and the USA. There are so many things I could write a blog about. But I thought you guys should have pictures and I could fill you in, in a top 5 things kind of way. The top 5 things I have done, eaten, heard, worn and learnt. For more insights you’ll just have to read the other blogs and follow the @oxfamontour twitter account.

 

Okay so to start:

 

Top 5 things I did:

 

Met Chris Martin in LA

 

Went to the Butterfly Palace in Seattle

 

Went thrift shopping in Hollywood, I still can’t decide who wins, American vintage or Oxfam shops….I think it depends if my American friends or Oxfam boss are reading this.

 

Visited the biggest mall in the world in Edmonton, complete with a theme park, ice skating rink, cinema, restaurants, the list goes on.

 

Met volunteers who make wearing a banana suit cool!

 

Top 5 things I ate:

 

Piersy pie (cottage pie made by our Coldplay caterers)

 

Sticky cinnamon bun in Vancouver

 

Bubblegum doughnut from Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland

 

Official American burger from Johnny Rockets

 

Coldplay cookies (a soft cookie made by our very own Oxfam volunteer and huge Coldplay fan Heidi, stay tuned for the recipe).

 

Top 5 quotes:

 

“Have you met Princess Kate? Do you guys get to hang out?” Oxfam Volunteer, Calgary.

 

“When I started coming to the US, people didn’t know who Oxfam were. Now you guys are everywhere”, Coldplay security.

 

“I’ve been donating for years to various causes. But when volunteering with Oxfam I feel like Im taking a more active role and can actually see the results and help raise awareness rather than just money”. Dianne, Oxfam volunteer LA.

 

“Hey girls do you want to sign up to join Oxfam and I’ll dress as a corn for you?”

 

“You have an accent, where you from” (I was thinking, you have an accent)

 

5 most worn items:

 

My worn converse for the long walks around the venue.

 

My Oxfam t-shirt

 

Neon wristbands, for the gig

 

My blue hoody, for nights in the car parks waiting for the buses to load out and leave the venues

 

My trusty blue jeans, for running around the venues and jumping on my tour case to close it

 

5 most important things I learnt:

 

Chips are not a thing you have with a burger they are food you get in a bag (the English call them crisps)

 

Bigger is better, when talking about the size of a doughnut

 

Pop tarts aren’t a breakfast food! More for a sugar burst before you hit the gym. No wonder I wasn’t allowed them as a kid

 

People across the pond in Canada and America are amazing at talking, especially to strangers about changing the food system!

 

I must not speak in my North English accent and English slang when briefing volunteers, to ensure they don’t look at me in a confused way when I tell them to ‘take a pew’ (it means sit down)

 

 

So that’s it, my pit stop low down of the first leg of the Coldplay tour. I must say a huge thank you to Coldplay. Over 6500 people joined Oxfam in Canada and America over 11 dates and it’s thanks to Coldplay because they gave us the opportunity to speak to so many people at their gigs. I must also say thank you to all the Coldplay fans for joining us in our fight against hunger and poverty.

 

I really can’t wait for the European leg to start again so I can experience volunteering in an European way, the gorgeous food of France and Spain and the Italian style. Note to self – I must pack my sunglasses. See you on the continent, Rachel.

 

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Calling all Oxfam and Coldplay Fans, we need your help!

Posted by Rachel Edwards on 11 May 2012

 

Oxfam are on tour with Coldplay in Nice on the 22nd May and we want you to join us!

 

Are you ready to do something different at a gig? No we don’t mean crowd surf. We mean talking to people about getting a fairer food system so people don’t go hungry.

 

Oxfam are looking for volunteers in Nice to help us spread the word about our new campaign GROW at a Coldplay concert.

 

The food system is broken. We have enough food on this planet to feed our population yet one in seven people go to bed hungry every day. The way we produce, consume and distribute food is wrong and means that people are going hungry needlessly. Oxfam wants to fix this, Coldplay wants to fix this too and have asked us to come on tour with them to create a global movement of Coldplay fans who are speaking out about the food system.

 

You just need to be willing to talk to Coldplay fans about Oxfam and encourage them to join the GROW campaign movement. We want people to use their voices with Oxfam and Coldplay to call for a fairer food system for everyone. You will work with a team of Oxfam volunteers at the gig and in return for your energy, you will get a free Coldplay ticket for the night, courtesy of Coldplay.

 

You will need to be free from 3pm on the 22nd May and you will be free to watch the Coldplay performance at 9pm.

 

All applicants must have a good knowledge of English and be energetic and passionate about Oxfam’s work to find solutions to hunger, poverty and injustice. You will receive training before the gig. To apply to volunteer email Rachel on [email protected], and provide details of why you are interested in volunteering, if you have experience of campaigning with an NGO and your contact details.

 

Applications should be in English and must be able speak fluent French to speak to Coldplay fans in Nice. Application deadline is Thursday 17th May.

 

To read this in French please click here.

 

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Food Revolution Day

Posted by Rosie Cowling on 18 May 2012

 

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Tomorrow (May 19), 800,000 people all over the world will come together to celebrate food, on Food Revolution Day.

 

Food Revolution Day is UK chef Jamie Oliver’s new campaign to stand up for real food, through better education about what we put on our plates. It’s all about inspiring and empowering people to learn how to cook healthy, affordable and tasty meals for their families, and ditch the unhealthy processed food (for at least a day!) that’s causing a worldwide obesity epidemic.

 

The revolution will not be processed

 

We couldn’t agree more! We all could do with learning more about where our food comes from and how it got to our plates. We live in a hectic, non-stop world of fast-food and convenience stores. Sometimes it feels like a lot of hard work to give food some thought.

 

That’s why we have to make real food fun. Buying and cooking fresh, locally sourced food doesn’t have to be a chore if you know where to find it, and can find inspiration in the method. So, this weekend, families and friends worldwide will get together in the name of food; to cook together in homes, gardens and villages, or attend one of thousands of live events, including outdoor cooking lessons, farmers’ market tours, farm visits and talks.

 

Get involved

 

Wherever you are in the world, there are two ways to get involved this weekend. You can either attend an official event near you (find your nearest event here), or host your own dinner party. Find some tips on throwing your own do here. In Brazil for example, we’re encouraging people to attend the official events in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia, or buy food from a farmers’ market to host their own dinner at home. If you’re in Brazil and thinking of taking part, you can share you photos on Oxfam Brazil’s Facebook page.

 

We want to rethink food completely. Where it comes from, why we’re eating it, how it got there and what went into making it. And that’s why we just have to get involved as well. Tonight, some of our GROW campaigners at HQ in Oxford will be holding a potluck dinner party with dishes from Iran, Italy, India and Ireland (alliteration not intentional!), to celebrate the multiculturalism of Oxfam and its staff. Look out for pictures on Twitter @oxfamgb tonight and on this blog next week.

 

If you’re plotting a Food Revolution this weekend, post your photos to the global GROW page on Facebook or tweet them at us and we’ll share them on the blog.

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Nice, the city of energy!

Posted by Rachel Edwards on 23 May 2012

 

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I’m just sat on my tour case back stage in Nice as I write this. The band finished a few hours ago and the crew are packing up around me but I just needed to tell you guys about the volunteers and atmosphere tonight!

 

In the Europe dates Coldplay have increase the volume in so many ways. They now play stadium gigs which hold up to 60,000 people. Can you imagine what this sounds like when people sing viva la viva all together whilst they wait for Coldplay to start. It makes you smile no matter what mood you are in. Not even at a world cup football game would you get such an amount of people singing together at the same time.

 

Today I went out to meet the Nice volunteers, the volunteers today were very special as they had responded to an advert I’d put out to recruit campaigners in Nice. This was special for me as it was my first time recruiting people for the tour. At 3pm I went to meet them and I knew instantly we had a winning team as everyone knew the campaign and were excited to talk with Coldplay fans. From 5pm we starting to talk to the people of Nice, before long people started approaching us wanting to sign up with Oxfam. The energy for getting involved with our GROW campaign blew me away! By 9.30pm 500 people in the Coldplay crowd had joined our campaign and the new campaigners were full of energy and excitement. They fed me with their new French energy. I was so excited to see their energy and enthusiasm about campaigning with Oxfam and spending their time before the gig talking to others about the food system and making sure we fix it! The topic is something we have in common no matter what language you speak or country you reside in, everyone knows the food system is injustice and wants to do something about it! To celebrate this I even dressed as a carrot to attract people’s attention with my opening line “photo avec le carrot?” (my French is minimal, I apologise!).

 

As we packed up I hurried back to the tour case to pack my things as tonight was the night I was going to watch the band from the beginning with the lovely Nice volunteers! I went back stage to drop off the food costumes and as I walked back to watch the band they all appeared and walked on stage, in such a cool manner, they didn’t seem scared that 40,000 people were screaming for them. Even I was nervous, my heart was in my mouth. Then the music started and the fireworks lit up the sky. Wow, this is amazing, I’m in Nice where the sun had warmed the night and everyone was dancing to Coldplay! I was full of French energy the volunteers had given me and I couldn’t help it, I just started to dance! It was lush! Such a great end to an inspiring day of meeting new Oxfam volunteers and seeing them talk so confidently to others, with the people in Nice agreeing that we needed to ensure people didn’t go hungry!

 

So off to Turin, or by the time you read this we will already be there. I can’t wait to feed off the Oxfam Italia volunteer’s energy tomorrow! Merci beaucoup pour ces soir Nice, Au revoir, Rachel.

 

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