Loretta Claiborne was born partially blind and could not walk or talk until she was four. Officials recommended that she be put into an institution—a common treatment for America’s “defectives” in the 1950s. Her mother refused.
Today Ms. Claiborne has 26 marathons and a black belt in karate to her name. She travels the world to speak for people like herself. Her purpose is to exemplify and to usher in a fresh understanding of ‘disability’. Definitions change over time: the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities calls disability an “evolving concept”.
Pedestrians walk into a crosswalk and plant green leaves with every footstep. A campaign by DDB China Group uses street art to promote walking. While there is no guarantee that awareness will shift in a country that now boasts 500 million cars; it is an advocacy movement taking one step at a time.
“We decided to leverage a busy pedestrian crossing; a place where both pedestrians and drivers meet. We lay a giant canvas of 12.6 meters long by 7 meters wide on the ground, covering the pedestrian crossing with a large leafless tree. Placed on either side of the road beneath the traffic lights, were sponge cushions soaked in green environmentally friendly washable and quick dry paint. As pedestrians walked towards the crossing, they would step onto the green sponge and as they walked, the soles of their feet would make foot imprints onto the tree on the ground. Each green footprint added to the canvas like leaves growing on a bare tree, which made people feel that by walking they could create a greener environment.”
After an initial deployment on seven Shanghai streets, the award-winning Crossing was later expanded to 132 roads in 15 Chinese cities. DDB estimates that 3.9 million people participated. Predictably, it blew up across Chinese media channels, and was even featured in the Shanghai Zheng Da Art Museum.
“’NOMAD’ was a good word for Nicolae Gheorghe. He was always on the move, with his worldly goods strapped to his back: a laptop, bundles of e-mails, a ring-binder, three shirts.”
Thus, begins the obituary of an influential advocate for the Roma, a traveling people. He was tireless:
- A well-read, multilingual cosmopolitan
- An academic, writing on the plight of the Roma for the Western Press.
- An award-winning point-man for all things Roma to international organizations.
- A gypsy by blood and upbringing.
- An anthropologist of his own people.
- A secretary to an illiterate “King of the Gypsies”
- An activist when Roma were moved into ghettos
- An entrepreneur, setting up the first Roma NGO
He dreamed dreams for the Roma people:
- That talented young Roma would get involved in business and politics.
- That the wider world would understand the Roma as “transnational, representing a society whose ideals were broader, freer and more enterprising than those in nation states.”