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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Creative Ways to Make a Difference: Videos for Reflection and Discussion

last updated June 1, 2021

posted by Catharine Hannay

Are you looking for some positive content to share with your class or your family?  Or perhaps you're feeling overwhelmed by all the problems in the world and wondering what you can do to help?  This video playlist shows people with unique abilities and inclinations supporting the community in creative and unusual ways.

Scroll to the end of the post for questions that can be used for discussion or individual contemplation, as well as for links to more posts about serving the world.

Artists with a Vision

Kenyan artist Francis Mutua helps clean up the ocean by creating colorful sculptures from discarded flip-flops.

Dutch artists Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn help local communities transform their neighborhoods into works of art.  It all starts with a barbecue.

More information at

Graphic designers in Mumbai reupholster taxis and rickshaws with messages that promote social change.

Nicholas Vreeland gave up a privileged life and promising career as a photographer to become a Buddhist monk.  Later, his photography helped build a monastery.

More information at

ArtLifting "connects socially conscious companies with talented artists impacted by homelessness or disabilities."

More information at

Bringing a Smile to Those Who Need It Most

"Three-year-old Quinn Waters has been confined to his home for months due to his compromised immunity after a treatment for brain cancer. Staring out the window at passers-by has been his only entertainment — until now. The community has shown up to perform on his lawn to help him feel better."

Clowns Without Borders offer humor as a means of psychological support to communities that have suffered trauma.

Little horses make a big difference in patients' recovery

More information at

Magicians Without Borders perform magic shows for children in refugee camps, orphanages and hospitals around the world.

More information at 

Doctors Who Dance

In his free time, anesthesiologist Adnan Khera is a busker (street performer) for charity.

You can also see him performing with 'Finance Be Dancing'

The annual "Dance Your PhD" competition sponsored by Science magazine uses dance as an entertaining way to make research more accessible to non-specialists.  2015 winner Florence Metz of Switzerland shows how people with different agendas can work together to achieve effective water protection policies.

More information at

Feeding the Hungry

At Madrid's Robin Hood Cafe, customers pay for breakfast and lunch in order to subsidize free dinners for those in need of a meal.

More information at

Meal delivery services in Mumbai put their expertise to work redistributing leftover food.

More information at

Hiring the "Unemployable" to Produce Delicious Food

DV8 Kitchen "operates as a second chance employment opportunity for people who are trying to redirect their lives" while recovering from drug or alcohol abuse.  

More information at

Greyston Bakery has a unique Open Hiring policy for anyone who needs a second chance.

More information at

Epleslang is a Norwegian nonprofit that hires people with disabilities to turn unwanted apples into award-winning apple juice.

More information at

The Snowday food truck hires formerly incarcerated youth to make its signature maple grilled cheese sandwiches.

Musicians Promoting Harmony

Colby and Awu met in Cameroon  while volunteering for an organization
 "that educates and empowers young changemakers to help build a more peaceful and sustainable environment."

More information at

Nimo (Nimesh Patel) was an MTV rap star who had a change of heart and gave up a lucrative music career to work at the Gandhi Ashram in India.  He now produces videos with positive messages through Empty Hands Music.

More information at

Playing for Change gathers musicians from around the world to promote understanding and raise money to build music and art schools.

More information at:

Poetic Pilgrimage is a hip-hop duo from the U.K. that's become "an unexpected bridge between the global hip-hop community and Islam​."

Unusual Environmentalists

Volunteers knit nests to help rescued baby animals.

Mikaila Ulmer, who created Me and the Bees Lemonade at age 4, is a social entrepreneur dedicated to saving bees. 

More information at

If you're interested in more videos of amazing kids, check out the Inspiring Videos of Young People Serving the World.

Cyril the Sorcerer uses a magic show to teach children the power of recycling and saving energy.

More information at

Disabled tree planters Jia Haixia and Jia Wenqi work together to reforest their village in China.

Afroz Shah (and a whole lot of other volunteers) cleaned up the most polluted beach in the world.

Lanni Lantto 'upcycles' clothing by turning thrift store finds into fashionable new clothes.

More information at

Repeat Roses picks up big floral arrangements after events, turns them into small bouquets for people facing challenges, then composts the twice-enjoyed flowers to keep them out of the landfill.

More information at

Is being 'knee-deep in poop' the best job in the world?  SOIL Haiti provides employment and dignified sanitation services while producing organic compost.

More information at

You may also be interested in the perspective of SOIL's Human Resource Director on reframing how we look at waste.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  • Which of the people in these videos do you identify with the most?  Why?
  • Which of these people would you most like to emulate?  Why?
  • Did any of these videos change your perspective?  How?
  • Would you be willing to move to another country and/or make a significant lifestyle change in order to make a difference in the world?  Or would you prefer to work in the community where you grew up?
  • Do you have any special skills or interests that you could use (or already use) to help others?