Our newest CALI Award winner is Charlotte Squire.
Charlotte is the Founder of Happyzine, a positive news website in New Zealand. Happyzine features hopebuilding stories about the environment, Kiwi communities and other projects.
Q: Tell us about Happyzine.
Charlotte: Happyzine’s a good news website. Not one that primarily focuses upon searching out the inspiring headlines and reporting them back – though we do do this.
We take things a step further and work to contribute to the positive social and environmental change of New Zealand (and beyond) as it unfolds.
We share progress reports and success stories so that others can be inspired, get involved or set up similar models in their own communities.
Q: What inspired you to set up Happyzine?
Charlotte: Positive media has been my ‘thing’ for the last decade. As an earth loving, thoughtful, creative type of person, I long ago realised it was easier on the heart and mind to digest inspiring news of what’s possible, rather than news of tragedies unfolding.
I was a researcher/writer for a political party for a while and it was during that time that I became truly overwhelmed by negative information about this planet we inhabit. I felt hopeless and exhausted by the research. I haven’t looked back since then! I realised that inspired, hopeful people are the change makers of our world.
They’re the people who dare to develop healthier models of existence. I began to seek out freelance writing work where I got to focus on positive news angles, and then eventually I decided to set up my own media platform.
Q: Why do you think mainstream media is so lacking in positive news?
Charlotte: I’m a mainstream reporter and I know that bad news sells. So it’s all about making a dollar and engaging with people via drama that might affect them. This might not seem nice, but it is currently true.
One thing I’d like to say about this though is that, for me, maybe 80% of the articles I write as a ‘normal journo’ are actually very inspiring.
I get to interview everyday people as they’re doing special things, with their own unique talents. I’m constantly raving to my friends about the latest inspiring article I interviewed for and wrote about. So those articles end up behind that drama laden front page.
They’re the human interest, art or food stories that mostly make up our world.
Q: What impact does news have on society?
Charlotte: I think it impacts us in many ways. It can influence our mood profoundly. It can arm us with hope, or overwhelm us with despair. If we believe the headlines that mainstream media seek to hook us in with, we’re in deep trouble. But I feel we’re anything but that.
I am aware of the innate kindness and generosity within all of us. I love showcasing that on Happyzine. Don’t get me wrong though, I know we all suffer.
God knows I’ve experienced loneliness, fear and despair in my life. We all do. But through Happyzine, everyday I’m inundated with stories of kindness, of environmental success stories, businesses turning green or charities taking care of those in need.
There’s just so much good happening all over the planet, there always has been and there always will be. I love focusing on that as a journo. I love knowing we’re all doing the best we can.
Q: Please share a success story from your work that you are particularly proud of.
Charlotte: One thing I’m excited about at present is our new Maori good news column. We have a group of young, optimistic, compassionate Maori students who are sending inspiring stories of the Maori world. Maori are the people of this land (tangata whenua) here in Aotearoa/New Zealand.
They’re currently in the process of rising up out of 150 years of hardcore colonisation. They were profoundly affected by land loss, on all levels.
These days they have a very poor stereo type being perpetuated by our media. I’m proud to be amongst a group of media platforms who are seeking to change that by reflecting the multitude of good news stories coming out of the Maori world right now.
Q: What drives you?
Charlotte: Optimism. I can’t seem to contain myself. Every time I’m ready to step away from Happyzine (there have been many times) I see another inspiring story that I just have share with people. I love connecting with people via hope and inspiration.
Q: Do you feel there is reward in your efforts?
Charlotte: Yes – at a very basic level I’m rewarded with a very beautiful, idyllic life. I’m constantly fed with the inspiration to believe this good life of mine is possible. Also the people who read Happyzine are this wonderful mix of sensitive and optimistic. I love spending time with people who love Happyzine! Financially, Happyzine pays some bills too.
Q: If you had your way, everyone in the world would spend 5 minutes a day…
Charlotte: Happily day dreaming. We all hope, we all dream. That old adage ‘you get what you ask for’ is true. I see day-dreaming as a form of ‘asking’. I believe there’s massive potential for us to dream our way back to a healthier, thriving planet. I wish for people to have the time to day dream and then the time to relax and enjoy life and let it unfold.
Charlotte Squire is the founder and creative director of www.happyzine.co.nz – a New Zealand based positive news website. Happyzine features hopebuilding stories about the environment, Kiwi communities and other projects.