There’s nothing like comedy for shaking up politics, and that’s what Mark Thomas is best at. Comedian, writer, performer and political activist, Mark has been performing for 30 years and has authored five books, including 100 Acts of Minor Dissent, for which he challenged himself to 100 rebellious acts over the course of a year, otherwise he’d have to donate £1,000 to UKIP - that’s motivation if ever we heard it.
Well known for the satirical The Mark Thomas Comedy Product on Channel 4, he has also produced three Dispatches documentaries, including taking a close look at the moral and ethical practices of Coca-Cola. Mark also holds a Guinness World Record for holding 20 protests in 24 hours.
Dr. Vandana Shiva is an activist and scientist who founded Navdanya, a network of seed keepers and organic producers, striving to protect biodiversity and sustainability while promoting organic farming and fair trade. Lush North America has been supporting Vandana’s organisation for a number of years through the Charity Pot programme.
It’s no surprise that Vandana is a Time Magazine ‘Environmental Hero,’ and has been referred to as one of the five most powerful communicators in Asia by Asia Week. To name just a handful of her achievements, she is a board member of the International Forum on Globalization, a founding board member of the Women Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) and advises governments worldwide. She has authored numerous books, including Soil Not Oil and Staying Alive.
Access Now: Wafa Ben Hassin
Wafa Ben Hassin is a human rights advocate, law graduate and writer. Alongside writing about women’s rights and the Middle East’s internet policy and governance, she is heavily involved with the discussion about online human rights. As a Tunisian-American, Wafa helped draft the constitution when Tunisia elected a parliament through its first democratic election. She was also a finalist for the 2013 Samir Kassir Award for freedom of the press.
Wafa joins us from Access Now, as part of the Keep It On campaign that pushes back against internet shutdowns. Access Now fights for open and secure communications, tackling the big issues like freedom of expression, digital security and privacy.
U.S. born Emily James is a writer, director and producer - and genius according to The Guardian. She has produced documentaries for Channel 4, won the Kodak International ‘Best Student Film World Wide 2000’ award and won Best Documentary Short at the Full Frame Documentary Festival in 2003. She’s taken on a cast of puppets in a satirical current affairs series, transposed the history of Cuba into a musical comedy, and brought us the story of East Londoners occupying a café to prevent its demolition.
Just Do It is Emily’s directorial debut, and is a tale of modern day outlaws. She spent a year with environmental activist groups, and the film follows people as they stand up for what they believe in by taking direct action.
Hal Samples is a photographer and artist from Dallas. He is best known for his work with Tachowa Covington, a homeless actor who made his home in a water tanker that was consequently tagged by Banksy and then sold for millions. Hal worked with Tachowa to film Something From Nothing - a documentary that detailed the struggles of Tachowa.
Hal’s subjects are often the homeless or forgotten souls of society, and it is this that formed the inspiration behind a new Gorilla project.
John McDonnell has hit headlines in recent months as a result of his new role as Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, but he has been a left-wing Labour MP for Hayes & Harlington for 19 years.
John states on his website that he supports privatisation of the railways and banks, a fair tax system that doesn’t penalise the poor, and animal rights. He opposes cruel sports and hunting.
He has been an activist and campaigner for decades and is now a key figure in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet. John plays a large part in policy making for the Labour party and for Corbyn’s leadership campaign. He recently revealed that he is working of proposing a universal basic income.
Amir Amirani is a critically acclaimed filmmaker and journalist of Iranian origin. He has worked for a number of broadcasters and publishers, including the BBC, The Guardian and the New Statesman.
Amir has covered a wide range of topics, from awards ceremonies to apartheid. His film We Are Many documents the February 2003 global protest against the Iraq War. Over 9 years Amir interviewed activists and protesters, as well as high profile public figures, including Tony Benn, Danny Glover, Richard Branson and Lord Falconer. The film premiered at the Sheffield International Documentary Festival in 2014 and received a 4 minute standing ovation at its close.
Gwen Burnyeat is an anthropologist based in Colombia and the UK. For the past six years she has lived on and off in Colombia where she has worked on various projects.
Gwen wrote her Masters thesis on the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado - yes the same community from which we source our cocoa beans for Peace massage bar. Her documentary Chocolate of Peace follows the journey of the cocoa bean through the Peace Community, from seed through to product. The film documents the community’s resistance against the Colombian armed conflict, and their fight to remain neutral in the face of it.
Amy’s debut memoir The Outrun was published earlier this year to great acclaim. Amy was shaped by her early life living on the Isle of Orkney, but left to live a life less-remote in London. It is here that she found herself in a hedonistic spiral fuelled by alcohol. Aged thirty and unable to control her drinking anymore, Amy returned to Orkney where she began to take back control of her life. By spending early mornings sea-swimming, the days tracking Orkney's wildlife - puffins nesting on sea stacks, arctic terns swooping close enough to feel their wings - and nights searching the sky for the Merry Dancers, Amy slowly made the journey towards recovery from addiction. The Outrun is about living on the edge, about the pull between island and city, and the ability of the natural landscape to restore life and renew hope.
Mark Howell is an author and freelance photographer based in Poole, UK. His book What Did We Do to Deserve This?: Palestinian Life Under Occupation in the West Bank explores what everyday life is like for Palestinians through photography and candid interviews.
Mark is leader of Political Party Poole People, which aims to improve the governance of the Borough of Poole and hand back power to the people. He has eight years experience as a qualified lawyer, as well as a Masters degree in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography.
Mark Pilkington is a writer, publisher and exhibition curator with an interest in topics that fall outside of the norms of knowledge, culture and belief.
A prolific writer, Mark has written for The Guardian, Time Out and The Anomalist, as well as two books The Mirage Men and Far Out: 101 Strange Tales from Science’s Outer Edge. He also founded, and runs, Strange Attractor, an independent publisher committed to celebrating unpopular culture.
In Mirage Men, Mark is sucked deep into the world of UFOria, and begins to discover the long history of UFO sightings and the murky worlds of espionage, psychological warfare that goes with it. In his spare time Mark enjoys music, and can often be found playing electronic gizmos and synthesisers.
Reem Kelani is an award-winning artist, musicologist and broadcaster. Her music has received critical acclaim and she has played on stages ranging from Glastonbury to the Opera House in Damascus. Reem believes her political beliefs and her music are inseparable. She views her work as part of the wider struggle for Palestinian identity. Reem’s is inspired by Palestinian and Arabic music, as well as jazz and classical, and, in many ways, her work bridges the gap between western and Arabic genres.
Reem was born in Manchester, brought up in Kuwait and now lives in London.
Mixing business with drama may sound like an odd idea, but it’s exactly what David Pearl has been successfully practicing for years.
David is a performer turned business consultant, speaker and author. By using the creativity skills he learnt early on as an orchestral player, he helps businesses make the most of their teams and increase productivity. His debut book Will there be Donuts was included in The Times Top 10 Summer Reads of 2013.
Outside of the business world, David set up Street Wisdom - a non for profit social enterprise that seeks to teach participants a new way to look at their urban environments.
David’s second book Story for Leaders was released in March.