Changing the logic: trauma release and mosaics in a Syrian refugee camp

We (Artmongers) are just back from our sixth visit to a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan. We go with the intention of creating moments of joy and connection.

Here is our report Azraq Report Nov 2018

You might also enjoy these one minute video diaries from our visit

  • Day One: Hamza films from the back seat as we head out to the camp, then see Catherine and Patricio developing and explaining our ideas
  • Day Two: The team bringing fresh energy and new ideas into the camp (and the local hardware shop!)
  • Day Three: A thoughtful day learning t’ai chi together, and how best to make mosaics with minimum inputs
  • Day Four: Catherine intrigues the boys enough to take part in craft and trauma release techniques while Patricio has a breakthrough on the cement front
  • Day Five: Catherine explains a little of how she feels about working on the camp
  • Day Six: using blue for the mosaics was based on three factors: the durability of this colour in the harsh desert climate, it’s visibility and contrast against the natural stone and the fact that this is Azraq camp – and azraq is Arabic for blue.
  • Day Seven: All the world’s a stage… and this world stands out beautifully against the endless metres and kilometres of beige in the camp and environs
  • Day Eight: it’s never easy to capture the work we do with women but here is a sneak peek into the workshop where they created two of the mosaic designs (hearts and wool).
  • Day Nine: after doing several mosaics the team have learnt the best way to make it work. Including this adjustment of using the stones on their side instead of flat, for a more robust mosaic.
  • Day Ten A key success factor for us is what happens after we leave. Her you see the mosaic team (artists and builders) planning their future work.


If you want to contribute to the project you can buy a mosaic here


Happy Christmas [first_name]!

The season is over and the Christmas cards are being taken down. I glance fondly over a few – especially the ones with a handwritten page of updates from people I see less than I mean to.

And then there’s the corporate cards. What are they about? It’s nice to hear from Lee the milkman – he does a great job, come rain or snow. But the building society? The bank I’m in the middle of a major row with? Some printer I used once 8 years ago? I wonder what these are meant to achieve beyond mild irritation.

Even lower on the ladder of meaningful communication is the corporate email. Finding it a bit of a drag to keep in touch with your customers? Do it the dirt-cheap super-convenient way. You don’t even need to design an original card, just scoop some clip art off the Office floor and add a bland message. For added vibrancy incorporate a few different fonts and a couple of clashing colours. And…. Send!! Job done. Who cares that we don’t care, at least we act like we care (a bit). And that’s the main thing.

Is it though?

Is a message that isn’t heartfelt worth the screen it is written on?

Time was when Christmas card exchanges were highly formal. There was a correct greeting depending on the social relativity of the sender and the recipient. There was very little demand for effusive sign offs. The most important issue was process management. The job was considered complete only if everybody who should get a card got one. Not in November, that would look foolish. But certainly not after The Day Itself.  And panic would ensue when That Card arrived from the unfortunate neglected individual who had been forgotten or deemed unworthy. The social quandary of non-response vs trigger response. Which is the lesser of the two evils?

Onward and upward

These days, thanks to a combination of time pressure, facebook and my children’s incisive judgement, my card sending is much diminished. If it’s somebody I would give a warm hug to if I bumped into them, then they get a card. (Assuming of course that I have organised cards, written them, found the addresses and remembered to post them)

If only some of the companies I hear from applied the same rigour to their customer communications just think how different the world will be. I know you’ll have your own ideas already so just for my own amusement I include here a few phrases  that would have a whole new meaning if only they were heartfelt

“your call is important to us, we will answer it as soon as we can”

“how can I help?”

“best wishes”

Do share your inspired ideas (twitter @cshovlin, #heartfelt) and I’ll add some of them to this posting.

Meanwhile I wish you an excellent and heartfelt 2012. And hope you will join us in our first Thinking Tank of the year “Out with the old, in with the new” see here for more.

Putting the customer at the heart of your business

“The Customer is King” has been around as a concept since the first arrowhead trade fair. Are we getting nearer to living that belief or further away? What does the customer really think, and how can we harness their views to help rather than hamper our strategy development?
In this paper I examine some of the reasons why the customer often gets left out of the process, and offer suggestions for ways to reintroduce them.

Competitive Positioning – running away from the lion

running away from the lion ( competitive positioning and customer insight)

Getting inside your customer’s head for competitive advantage – after all there’s no point otherwise.

An eight step process to ensure your business gets the insights it needs, not the ones someone wants to sell you.

Read the full paper here Competitive Positioning

Being a Customer Interpreter

?In a world where we can access more numbers about more customer events than ever before, are we getting any nearer to seeing the world through our customers’ eyes? Or hearing our messages through their ears? Only by keeping our eyes, ears and minds wide open can we develop marketing and branding that will be seen and heard and welcomed by our current and future customers.

Read the full paper here Being a Customer Interpreter

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