In light of February 06 this year marking 100 years of women having the vote, it’s arguably our duty to look back over the last century and assess society’s progress since then.
The sustainability sector is thriving with women leading many of the initiatives. Yet still, as one of the Women’s Environmental Network (WEN)’s ambassadors Juliet Davenport (chief executive of Good Energy), recently highlighted, ‘The energy sector is lagging sorely behind other industries in terms of diversity, meanwhile sustainable [green] businesses are very balanced. So the idea that lack of diversity is contributing to the issue of transition to renewables is very plausible.’
Women we salute
Women need to be awarded the recognition they deserve in order to change outdated perceptions in the energy sector and beyond. To this end, WEN has launched a ‘#WomenWeSalute2018’ series to celebrate the wonderfully inspirational women, including Juliet Davenport, in the green industries. These women are taking both their and future generations’ futures into their own hands, working with resilience and diligence to transform it for the better.
Upcoming interviews include Amelia Womack, Tina Rothery, Vicki Hird and Nat Van Zee, and WEN has chosen Ruth Rogers, founder of The Canvas Café community hub and creative space in London, as the first strong female leader to feature in its series.
Founded just over a decade ago, The Canvas has helped transform the lives of both businesses and individuals in the community. It has been home to the renowned Museum of Happiness, supper clubs supporting refugees, doggy day-care feeding the homeless, live performances, supporting mental health, entrepreneurialism and community cohesion. Ruth Rogers, we salute you!
WEN’s Ruth Rogers interview
What inspired you to found The Canvas?
In 2006, I founded a positive body image movement called Body Gossip, which empowers the public to write stories about their bodies. The stories are then celebrated live onstage and in short online films, and we’ve also published a book of over 300 stories with a foreword by Gok Wan.
I’ve always thought if I was the daughter of someone famous, Body Gossip would be huge! But I’m a nobody, so I did what I could; I put my white sofa on the roof rack of my car and drove it to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where I placed it in the middle of the Royal Mile. I invited passers-by to write one sentence about their body on the sofa. What started as, I’ll admit, a bit of a PR gimmick, turned into something really amazing; people were being more honest with the sofa than they were to their friends and family!
Writing on an unusual canvas opened people up and broke down the barriers; people were admitting things to the sofa they’d never said before! That gave me the idea for The Canvas: a venue where the space itself is a blank canvas for people’s thoughts, ideas and secrets; that’s why our walls are open for people to answer the questions and share their stories. But it’s so much more than that; we also provide a blank canvas for positive change, and the events we host, and the support we offer new positive ideas, is harnessing the spirit of community that I think is missing so much these days, especially in business.