On May 9th I’ll be flying to Cape Town to begin the journey of Livity Africa.
It’s the latest chapter in a decade-long story for Livity (so far) and the first international expansion of our most fundamental project, Live Magazine. There’s a nice symmetry to the fact that it’ll be almost exactly ten years to the day when Livity opened its doors that our first major foray into international territories begins.
Why South Africa? It’s a combination of random chance and real opportunity.
In early 2010 I had the chance to spend a week with a group of young publishing upstarts, on a tour sponsored by the British Council’s Creative Economy programme. We went on a whistlestop exploration of South African publishing, and discovered an industry missing opportunities to think creatively about how to use its power to tackle the social issues on its own doorstep. My response was to make the very obvious leap of imagining the projects we’ve designed for young people in London transposed to a South African township setting. The potential for the Livity ethos to make an impact seemed irresistible. And so the seed was sown.
But would it work? After a second trip in October 2010 with Livity co-founder Michelle Clothier, we were convinced that Live Magazine could occupy a unique space in the South African media, be sustained by the advertising spend of brands, but most crucially, create amazing opportunities for young people in SA. I wrote up a vision for what we wanted to achieve and sent it to the Shuttleworth Foundation, who I’d met on my first trip in 2010. And their belief in the idea of bringing Live Magazine to South Africa is what has led to me being awarded a one-year Fellowship to head out to SA and start to make it happen.
I’m spending the first few weeks of the Fellowship at Livity HQ in Brixton, London, making the transition from being at the heart of Live Magazine in London to the new challenge ahead… I’ll be updating this blog with regular updates on my progress.