‘Below the Line’ wrap-up

May 20th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

It’s been just over a week now since I did the ‘Below the Line’ challenge and now would be as good a time as any to look back and see how exactly that was. To quickly recap, the challenge was 5 days of eating on only £1 a day.

Before actually diving in, I figured this wouldn’t be too difficult given the amount of food I was able to pick up for my fiver. I made the challenge about being more aware of what I ate but boy was I wrong. 


To be honest, the hard part wasn’t really not having enough food. What I didn’t expect I think, was that feeling of just not being satisfied. It’s amazing how much we take the nutrient content of what we eat for granted. For £5, there’s not a lot of room for high quality food and so I was down to pretty much carbs and really small helpings of fruit. I can tell you that this was not fun and I felt pretty weak for a lot of the week. 

What I also didn’t expect was how annoying it is to not be able to have something when you wanted it. The convenience of picking up something at the shop or popping something ready-made in the microwave or oven just wasn’t there, and having to stick to the times when you’d have meals so as to not run out was pretty inconvenient too. 

I’d say what was the most annoying was the shocking drop in productivity from having to think of food this much. I usually try to cram a lot of things into the day, but between planning meals and thinking about what I wanted to eat right then, there wasn’t a lot of room left for focusing on other stuff.


So what did I get from doing all this for a week?


Well first of all, I appreciate what I actually eat now a lot more than I ever used to before. I appreciate too, the luxury of not having to think of food that much during the day at all, leaving time for me to do so much of the other things I want to.

It’s also given me a little insight, however humble, into how people who actually have to live in this situation probably feel on a daily basis. This last bit is especially valuable since often a major problem is just that lack of having to really care about what happens to those outside our immediate influence.The experience though helps to bring that outside reality a bit closer to home.

If there are a bunch of people out there who also experienced this as I did, then you can be sure that some positive must come from it towards helping those who we set out to understand in the first place.


.. and it’s on this last point that I’m excited to see what comes now, both from myself and others who’ve joined in on this experience.

More hubs and pecha kucha!

May 12th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Apparently it’s a method of presentation where the speaker is allowed 20 slides with 20 seconds per slide. It looks to be a good complement to the unconference style we’ll be using (number 4 on this spectrum).

My own proposed bits I’m thinking of:

  • Actions from TEDx’s geared toward local community (a model for)
  • Agriculture related issue I’m curious to explore back home

But then in an unconference style setting you never know what you’ll discover!

Heading off in a bit, looking forward to what comes of this…

The building needs work…

May 10th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

… as does every company in there!

To me it feels like what a hub should be. A messy, unfinished work-in-progress that’s still quite well put together and creatively presented. Don’t get me wrong, the place is done up very nicely from floor to wall. It’s just that little extra deliberate touch that makes it stand out.

Maybe it’s a lesson for any incubator-type space that would be tempted to go that entirely clean-cut, corporate route. What is it that you want to be communicating/encouraging in your inhabitants exactly?

Source: Flickr fallenfactorycompany

Screw Mindful Eating, I want food!

May 8th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

So it’s Day #2 of this thing and I’m freaking hungry! To be fair, I think I’m doing it wrong. It’s 5:20 p.m. or thereabouts now and all I’ve had for the day is 4 slices of toast with a bit of butter. Add to that the fact that I’ve now been waiting about an hour for this potato to boil and I am not happy.

Ok so my experience so far:

1. Taste is a big part of eating, and I miss all my seasonings, salts and sauces.

2. I love to snack! Hadn’t realised how much until today.

I may be a bit crabby right now too seeing that I slept less than 4 hours last night. Last minute courseworks without food are not fun! Usually that’s the time when I’d binge on all sorts of snacks to keep me stimulated. Instead all I had was hot water and a random rice meal at about 3am.

It can only go up from here though right?

Note: Title comes from this earlier post.

Mindful eating and ‘living below the line’

May 6th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Now this is a bit exciting. For the next 5 days all I’ll be eating is £1 of food per day!

In case you’re wondering why, I’ve decided to do the ‘Live Below the Line’ challenge (with support!).

This essentially is 5 days of eating conservatively to try to glimpse what it’s like to live without (predictable) food. It’s a massive awareness campaign across the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand where over the week funds will be raised to help those affected, and the fundraisers will hopefully be able to empathise with them a bit more.

I won’t be doing this for quite these reasons though. I’ll be taking it up more as a personal challenge. I doubt I’ll have a problem with hunger since my eating patterns are erratic at best anyway (I hope). The challenge for me would more be the discipline of planning out my meals and keeping within the foods I buy at the start. If you know me at all, you’d know that this sort of thing is terribly inconvenient to me, especially given that I have two coursework deadlines this week, both for which I have yet to properly start.


More than this though, I’ll be using this challenge as an opportunity to try to understand the real meaning and value of the food we eat. We’ve become a society of unconscious eaters, where food is simply scarfed down between/during other activities without paying much attention to what it is we’re eating. We’ve lost touch with the essence of our food, with all its subtleties and nuances. I’ll be trying to practice more ‘mindful eating’, a technique described here. I’ll be focusing more on what exactly I eat and how I ingest it. It’s an exercise in awareness that I’m quite excited to try out.

It’s supposed to have the bonus effect too of helping us to realise that “as we practice this regularly, we become aware that we don’t need to eat as much”. This could be handy for a week of living on less food than normal.


We’ve become so busy that we no longer take time to stop and actually experience life around us. The picture above offers the metaphor of a meditating buddhist monk in the middle of a traffic jam in Bangkok, and it feels almost exactly matched to where I’m hoping I’ll get to.

Now before you think I’m missing the whole point of what ‘below the line’ is all about let me just add this. I do my fair bit for charity in other areas so I’m not that bothered about the fundraising aspect this time (and I’d rather not pester my friends again just yet). As for the ‘glimpse into how they live’ side, I feel that we’ll still have far more conveniences than those who really live like this. What does need work right now though is my mind, and so I’ll happily use this as an opportunity to experience how we can be comfortable with what we might have, and learn to appreciate whatever little we might find ourselves with at any time either now or in the future.

Image: Flickr vice1

Happy to share it with you…

May 5th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” ~ George Bernard Shaw.

Came across this quote recently through a friend and it got me thinking again about the nature of these things.

There are so many things in life that are limited, that have a fixed amount or quota, and that are diminished as we use them. It becomes almost standard to think that everything we use or share can eventually be lost.

It’s refreshing to remember sometimes that there are those things in the world that do not play by those rules. It’s fortunate too that these are the things that are often most precious to us, case in point: our ideas.



A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle. Similarly, an idea loses nothing when it is shared.

To Campus London we go

May 4th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Got to say, I am excited about this one. In a couple of minutes I’ll be off to Google’s Campus London for NACUE’s sclp2012. It’s one of the newest co-working spaces in the area that’s sat right near the middle of Tech City. If you knew me at all you’d know why I’d be so excited about this!

#London #TechCity #SiliconRoundabout #Hub #Incubator-ish #TechStartup #Google

…just to name a few.

Source: Flickr didscatterbrain

I never do anything on the train…

May 3rd, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

… and I always sit by the window.

Lovely, fleeting British weather

May 2nd, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

When Value ? Money!

May 2nd, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Finally getting down to a bit of courseworks now. Just jotted down as many ideas as I can on a blank .doc trying to remember what “was personally interesting to me” over 3 months ago. It’s for a learning log. Some not so bad ideas actually, and they’re appropriate enough that you could believe I learnt them within that module (which I probably did).

One I quite like is the idea of splitting value from money. Just for some context, the module was Social Entrepreneurship. As part of it, we’re shown how these sorts of ventures can’t be judged on just the cash they generated, and if we did do that, most of them would appear to be horrible businesses. Instead, we’re meant to find where value is generated by the business in other areas.

It’s fun just realising that at the end of the day money is not really money, it’s just a representation of the value we put on it. The trick is now to find other ways to assign that value to show the social and environmental worth of the venture. Monopoly money anyone?..