March 2010

Wallace & Gromit, Aardman Animations plasticine superstars, have made people laugh from Wigan and Wensleydale to Rosario and Nairobi. Now, Aardman have opened the first public animation academy in Khayelitsha, the giant township on the outskirts of CapeTown. False Bay Good Hope College rises out of the landscape of shacks and low grade housing. Over 900,000 people live in this area; most are unemployed, so the chance to enter the creative industries is significant. Aardman will send their animators to give masterclasses and, internships at the Bristol Studios are planned.

We're off to the shanty towns!

False Bay Good Hope College will offer bursaries worth $2,675 for a one year course – which is supported by the Western Cape government and Seta, a training agency funded by levies from employers. Students will work on global themes and learn the basics of Walt Disney style animation but, the vision is that False Bay will be the catalyst to give voice to local content – with global potential. This story can run and run – elsewhere. (more…)

In the late 1920s Henry Ford was looking for ways to reduce operating costs and, against a backdrop of cartel price hikes for British (Malay) rubber he moved to set up a Brasilian plantation that would produce latex for tyres using all the best practice that the king of the assembly lines could muster. By the 1940s, the Ford Motor company had invested over $200 million (current day pricing) in the Amazon region on a spectacular failure that acts as a stark reminder of what can go wrong when developed world logic seeks to plug and play in emerging and developing markets.

And we lived at 22 Amazon Street

Fordlandia, 10,000 square kilometers of Amazon rainforest, was styled on the Mid West towns of Fords experience with a healthy lifestyle – hamburgers were the staple diet – and, moral values. Alcohol and tobacco were forbidden. Line dancing and poetry readings of Longfellow and Wordsworth were encouraged. The factory and plantations were similarly based on the one best way of Fordism and the scientific management methods of F W Taylor (1911) – that Lenin and the Bolsheviks used to turbo charge industrialisation. Industrial engineers laid out the plantations in the Amazon – there were 200 rubber plants (hevea brasiliensis) per acre versus the 7 per acre of the primal rain forest. By 1930s riots broke through the social strait jacket to wreck the town and, the close proximity of the trees facilitated tree blight whilst sap eating insects reduced the trees to useless stumps. There followed a fresh attempt to “take the white man’s magic to the wilderness” (Washington Post) at Beltera but, after producing 750 versus a planned 30,000 tonnes; Ford accepted $200,000 from the Brazilian Government and withdrew. There is one best way to disaster – ignore local context. (more…)