My Day At the Notting Hill Carnival

Thursday, August 30th, 2012|Elexu Team Posts, Event|by HernanVales|No Comments

Today’s post comes from Elexu intern Hernan who talks about his first visit to the Carnival. Elexu loves events that showcase culture and creativity; we recommend all of the Elexu community check it out next year.

As a native Spaniard this was my first time at the Carnival, I was curious about what could I find. Would it be as good as I heard? Would it be a bluff? Would the beer be as expensive as I was told? Would I die under thousands of dancing shoes?

Let´s just say mission accomplished (except for the whole dying under a thousand shoes..I was only injured under a few hundred).

The Notting Hill Carnival (or as I was told to refer to it, “the Carnival”…because its cool) has been held every year since 1965, attracting around a million people in the past years, making it one of the largest street festivals in the world and the perfect place to be on a weekend if you don´t have to fold shirts in a retail store, serve food in McDonalds or attend to some other job which doesn´t respect your bank holidays.

Part of the Trinis (Trinidad and Tobago party truck)

I went there on Monday “the real wild day” according to my English friends. Within 10 minutes I was invited to dance with some Hare Krishna’s, they had a board with their song lyrics so you could follow along and complete strangers were dancing around in a circle trying to stay in rhythm. Complete chaos and joy.

The good mood was floating in the air, mixing with the smell of barbecue and the noise of different music waiting for us at the end of all those endless crowded roads, and even the English summer weather was willing to collaborate, and for once (don´t get used to it) it was August and it didn´t rain. That’s what I call organization.

If there is something that I wasn´t expecting was probably the fact of having little concerts every three off licenses, which was really cool and kept us dancing from beat to beat like a bee from flower to flower, until our steps brought us to the BIG stuff. Which means a haemorrhage of dancing, happy and noisy people boiling in one of the main streets as well as themed party trucks driving around fuelling the chaos of the street party. I´m not really sure what one of the trucks performers were singing, but  they asked if there was someone from Jamaica and the entire street raised their hands. I can swear that in that moment I was definitely from Jamaica (Say “beer can” and you sound like you’re saying bacon in a Jamaican accent…go on try it).

It was a great time! Perhaps not really for that lady with the video camera, threatening with calling the police to all the people who used her house´s walls as a bathroom. However there was happiness in the air, slapping you in the face and making you smile even if you didn´t want to. For the   few streets I travelled down all the good you can find in this city was on display shinning like a rare flower that you can find only in very special occasions. It could sound cheesy, but if you were there you would understand what I mean.

And yes, it was as awesome as expected. And yes, I´m coming back next year.

Not really sure what this is... a bird.

Bucket Lists Aren’t Just For Those Who Are About to Kick the Bucket.

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012|Advice, Elexu Team Posts|by Sam Watson|No Comments

Today our blog post is from our newest Social Media Intern, Sam Watson. He talks us through his Bucket List and gives us advice on how to create your own.

When people ask me what’s my aspiration in life instead of saying to be rich or something, I give this “To live a life that is not ordinary”. One of the ways that I do this is by having a physical bucket list and don’t worry you need to be near to kicking the bucket to have one.

This year my goal was to snowboard my first black run (hardest run at a resort…literally vertical) while on my now annual winter holiday. Well as I was on the chair lift up to where the black run began I thought to myself “look how steep it is, it’s got bumps bigger than me” and “That’s it I’m going to die”. However I did not die, it only took me an hour to get all the way down and the biggest achievement I only cried a bit…. However I had crossed off something my list and was full of confidence and could say that I have done a black run on a snowboard, an experience I can take with me and remember for the rest of my life.

This is just one experience and in the past I have swam with dolphins and sharks, learn to ride a motocross bike and much more because I have a physical reminder to do these things and not let the monotony of everyday life take over.

I believe you should all have a bucket list and my three tips are: You should always hand write it, try to cross one thing off a year and you should have long/short term goals so that every year you feel like you have done something on your list.

Make your own life extraordinary so when you are close to kicking that bucket you can say you experienced a lot of what life has to offer and have no regrets. Create a Bucket list today you won’t regret it.

Next year skydiving.

‘Sucking at Something’ is the First Step Before Being ‘Kind of Good’ at Something

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012|Advice, Guest posts|by JackClarkson|No Comments

Today’s Blog post comes from Jack Clarkson who graduated with a degree in creative writing and is currently the CEO of a start-up website dedicated to retro cartoons, reviewing media truthfully and anything else that makes you chuckle. He writes about how it’s ok to suck at something.

When I left university several years ago I had to face the terrible truth that my writing was nowhere near as good as I hoped it to be. Every job asked that I already have several years of experience already, and nobody wanted to give me the experience either. I decided that if nobody was going to give me experience, I would make my own. So I started writing reviews of games, movies and books on my website while I looked for a job. I never set out to write anything earth-shattering, I just wanted to write stuff on a website even if my writing sucked too much to ever get paid for it.

Funny thing is, Malcolm Gladwell said that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. ( Whether you study intensively for five years or spend fifty on your weekends it all adds up to the same amount in the end. I don’t think I passed much of that yet, but after a year of it I started to feel more comfortable writing reviews by breaking something down into relevant points and I noticed I started hitting the 600 word mark almost every time instinctively.

Now I’ve been offered several jobs writing professionally I still keep on writing for fun, because even if I still suck, I’m working on getting kind of good at it. I’ve got reviews down pat, so I’m starting to write fiction again because I feel like doing something I suck at until I get good at it. So if there’s something you like doing but feel you suck at… Do it more, because you never know when you might find that you’re actually kind of good at it!

Photography Talks – Tony Chambers

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012|Interviews|by HernanVales|1 Comment

Salford Quay Bridge - Tony Chambers

Self taught and frequently published, Tony Chambers’ photography shows us powerful details of the city but also the quiet peace of the rural landscape. We decided to ask him a few questions about himself.

Ladies and gentlemen, enjoy.

When did you first start taking pictures and why?

When I was growing up, my dad always took the family photos…and they were great. Except none of the people had heads! So when I got older, I seemed to get handed the camera more and more. And from then, well, I just went on.

What’s your background as a photographer?

Although I’m not professional, I am a published photographer. My images have been used in local newspapers and magazines. As far as training, I’ve not taken any courses – everything I’ve learned has come from lots of reading, experimentation and practice. There are really good magazines available for photographers these days, such as Digital Photo, where you can learn about taking good pictures, buying quality equipment and such.

What camera kit do you use?

Body: Sony A65; Lens: Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC Sony-alpha

What’s the best advice you’ve received that’s made a difference to your work?

Always have a camera with you. You can’t take decent pictures if you don’t have a camera with you. You don’t know when an opportunity will come along, so you have to be prepared.

Forth Road Bridge - Tony Chambers

What makes for a good photo?

It’s what you see the picture being, not necessarily what it is. It’s what you bring to the forefront, what you choose to highlight, which point of view you take. Up to 70% of the success of an image lies in the editing process. And that’s not just  the technical editing process, e.g., using software, it’s also your vision for what you want to show, what you want the image to be.

What advice would you give to a young aspiring photographer?

Take as many photographs as you can. With digital photography now, there’s no limit to how many shots you can take. So keep shooting, even when you think you’ve made the shot you want. It’s a bit of a numbers game. If 1 in 20 pictures are great, then better to have 200 to choose from, right?

I started shooting when photography relied on film so it was expensive passion to pursue. Now that’s not the case. So take advantage of the new technology.

What would you like to learn from an aspiring photographer?

I think up and coming photographers have a real enthusiasm and can be more experimental than older photographers. I would learn from their example.


Yet Another Reason to Sing

Thursday, August 16th, 2012|Elexu Team Posts|by Christy Rathbone|8 Comments

Over many years it has always been speculated that singing in a choir can be considered good for your health. Before interning with Elexu I helped run a community choir as part of some work experience.  So today I thought I’d share how singing, or attempting to, is actually very good for you.

After taking the choir to my heart, I realized after a few months that my health had also improved in various ways. I felt less out of breath when exercising, I didn’t feel as anxious and my confidence had grown. I put it down to being a member of a choir, but people laughed and didn’t take my reasoning seriously.

I was proved right when recent research concluded that choir members are improving their health by singing together each week. A report in The Telegraph by Jo Carlowe headlined “Health choirs: let’s have singing on prescription…Joining a choir may help those suffering from a range of chronic illnesses.”

“While the feel-good effects of singing are well-documented, experts now believe that joining a choir could improve the symptoms of a range of health problems including Parkinson’s, depression and lung disease.

At a conference of the Royal Society for Public Health in London, Grenville Hancox, professor of music at The Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health, Canterbury told how he and colleagues have witnessed people with respiratory problems learning to breathe more easily, those with depression beating the blues and patients with Parkinson’s disease standing tall and singing loudly.

Not only has the choir been proven to help people health increase physically but also mentally. So why not check for the nearest choir to you and give those lungs a work out?


Christy R – Senior Intern

Making Your Passion Work for You

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012|Interviews|by Crystal Yang|No Comments

Today we are taking a look at the life of Marcy Johnson. Marcy started her career in acting, but has found another outlet for her creativity in teaching Yoga. She is happier now she is financially stable, but she also explores how things could have been different if the right opportunities were presented to her.

Crystal: When you were still acting, what were the main struggles you faced?

Marcy: It’s a tough career. I moved straight to Los Angeles and didn’t have any networks or representation (a manager or an agent). This meant I had to find auditions myself and trying to get your foot in the door without the right network of people can be almost impossible unless your lucky.

Crystal: Do you feel fulfilled by teaching yoga now?

Marcy: Yes, there is a sense of balance and creativity in my life now…plus now I’m getting paid on a regular basis to do something else I love (that’s a real bonus!).

Crystal: Do you think a site like Elexu could have helped you?

Marcy: Well I think so… if there was the possibility to be seen by a manager or an agent who might have signed me that would have been a game changer. I guess that would happen if I entered a competition and I put up my reel (a one to two minute clip of an actor’s film work) and got some attention through that. Even if I didn’t win I might still get noticed. Though hopefully I would win because let’s face it, unless you make it big, actors don’t make much money.

Crystal: What’s your favourite word and why?

Marcy: Dork. It’s always been fitting and I think it’s fun to say.

Do What You Love!

Thursday, August 9th, 2012|Interviews|by David Young|No Comments

Elexu blog is a lot about sharing insights and advice. The most relevant insights often don’t come from seasoned veterans but instead from someone who is very much like us, someone we can easily relate to. That’s why we love interviewing emerging artists, young entrepreneurs or like today recent graduate – please meet Kathryn.

David: Tell me a bit about yourself.

Kathryn: I’m a recent SHSU graduate. I currently work at YMCA in Houston. I spend most of my free time at home playing with my 3 dogs.

David: What are you aspiring to do now that you have graduated?

Kathryn: Now that I have finished college I have lots that I want to do, and it’s hard to find a good place to start. I hope to eventually become a physical trainer and rehabilitation professional for people who have gone through extreme situations. I hope to learn lots while I am here with the YMCA that may help me in the future

David: What was it that made you decide you wanted to do Physical Training?

Kathryn: I have tried lots of different things, and never really found that I enjoyed anything as much as I did going to the gym with my friends. So I thought, “what if I could do this for a living?” Wouldn’t that be awesome?” So I decided to give it a shot and I have been loving it. I have never regretted choosing this yet.

David: What has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

Kathryn: My biggest challenge was finding what I wanted to do. I have had difficulty in the past with all my friends seeming like they had some exact plan and I was lost. The key is to find something you love, and learn how people need this. If you love doing something, you’ll do a better job at it, and work will come naturally to you.

David: Elexu’s three pillars are content, capital, and connections. How do you think these things could help you?

Kathryn: I believe that connections are the most important thing for anyone who is looking to expand their career. In any sort of work, there will always be a need for help from others. Connections will make this much easier, and I believe people genuinely want to help others, they just don’t know who to help. A company like Elexu could really help people like me meet the connections that could help me.

International Interns

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012|About Elexu, Elexu Team Posts|by Sam Watson|No Comments

Two of our talented interns William and Yanet talk about how Elexu could benefit their home countries of Canada and Spain.

William from Canada:

“Well I’m going back to University soon in Halifax where I know a lot of artists that have a lot of talent but there are no opportunities to connect and make progress. Elexu could really help connect these artists with the capital and resources they need to display their work and meet like minded people.

A friend of mine was a fantastic artist and sold his art to his friends and family to make money to support his education, unfortunately it was not enough and he had to quit which is a great shame. If Elexu had anything to say about it, he would be connected to every art lover in Halifax to help find the resources he needed to carry on and promote his work.

Halifax has a lot of students and most leave the city after finishing their education due to the lack of communities and opportunities. So if Elexu helped build communities around art, music, business and sport more students may stay in Halifax because they can meet like minded people who could support each other as well as have the resources they need through Elexu’s digital competitions. I might even start a few projects myself on behalf of Elexu over in Canada.”

Yanet from Spain:

“Spain is currently going through an economic crisis and there are very few opportunities for the Spanish youth to start their own businesses and projects due to a lack of spending and support. An organisation that connects youth to the resources they need is greatly needed in Spain.

In Barcelona there is a vibrant fashion community however there are very little opportunities for new fashion designers to show off their clothes so Elexu could help organise events where young fashion designers gain exposure and really help them move forward. Also students with degree’s find it near impossible to gain experience due to a lack of internships, there is no path way to working in an established company straight after university and some students never get that experience they need. Elexu can help connect companies/organisations to talented youth through the Elexu competitions

Barcelona is a metropolitan city and therefore has its own styles and culture which may be hidden away from people living outside the main cities who may not be aware of communities that appeal to their interests or opportunities that they could benefit from. For example Elexu could help connect young designers from all over Spain so that ideas and influences can have a wide spread impact and not just have their ideas completely shaped just by what is around them, so people are not limited by where they live. Elexu could help unite different communities all over Spain so that new concepts and projects can always have a different viewpoint as well as having a large population following what a person is doing that is new and exciting.”

Bringing Community Together Through Song

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012|Elexu Team Posts|by Christy Rathbone|No Comments

This time seven months ago, I was pacing up and down an empty room waiting for people to arrive, hoping for thirty people to walk through the doors. This was our first choir meeting after months of planning and running around like headless chickens. Now it was time to see if all of our hard work had paid off.

Before we knew it, the time had arrived to open the doors and let the little crowd of people I could see into the room. The stream of bodies didn’t stop and before we knew it there was around 100 people chatting away excitedly.

The majority of people who came to sing hadn’t been in choirs before or hadn’t sang for a long time –  including me. So when the time came nerves filled the room. Luckily, we have a great teacher in Carol Donaldson, who has not only made everybody feel that, together, we can make one great sound but also installs confidence in every single person in the room.

The aim of Wrexham community Choir is to bring people together, we now have around 160 members reflecting the diversity of the local community and bringing us all together through singing pieces from all around the world. Singing together creates a sense of community, connectedness and belonging which is well documented and also increases feelings of well-being. This approach is inclusive, heartfelt, humorous and aimed at the ‘feel good’ factor as singing together is tremendously uplifting for all participants. Before the choir many different cultures felt isolated in Wrexham and as the months have gone by it has been great to watch the growing friendships between people who speak different languages and would never have met if not for the choir.

Since our first practice the choir has become a family. We have headlined concerts and are inundated with bookings for us to perform. Our favourite performance so far was performing in the ruins of Valle Crusis Abbey in Llangollen.

It just shows you how music can bring people together.

Christy R – Elexu Intern