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Write a new chapter in the story of poverty

Thursday, September 22, 2011 by Marianne Elliott

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Depending how long you’ve been reading along here, you may or may not know that I used to work for Oxfam. And that I think Oxfam does great work – not just great development work, but really great advocacy and policy work.

I went to work for Oxfam when I left the UN because I wanted to work for an organization that acknowledged that as well as empowered local communities (including girls) a fairer world is going to require fairer global laws, structures and systems.

The GROW campaign is a great example of the big picture approach Oxfam takes. GROW is about food, but it also makes it clear how access to food is affected by climate change, trade rules and land ownership.

What I also love about Oxfam is how creative they are. I was working in the policy and advocacy department, with all the other wonks. But the people who work on communications and campaigns for Oxfam are very clever.

There is a reason folks like me always like to hang out with the people from the Comms Department. It’s because they are lovers and masters of the craft of telling a good story: an essential tool for any kind of leadership or social change.

Which brings me to Victor Spoyle. And the story of poverty that is waiting for your input.

“Meet Victor Spoyle: Cynical, jaded and arrogant, Victor Spoyle is a New York trader who thinks people are “units” to be bought and sold. Victor has spent his whole life avoiding involvement – until one day, the real world elbows its way into his cozy, self-obsessed reality.

Victor’s story has begun. A swirling series of events has overtaken him and set him on a course that is as inescapable as it is random. Where will he go? Who will he meet? Will he ever find his toothbrush? These questions and others will be answered – or maybe they won’t; that’s up to you.

You can help write the story

Add a line, a paragraph, a chapter.
Then pass it on as far out into the world as you can.

If the story goes well, it will be published and all who contributed to it can revel in the knowledge the poorer communities of the world will be the richer for their support.”

Victor is a co-creation of Oxfam and Good Books. Every time you buy a book online at, 100% of the profit goes to support Oxfam projects. Good Books has zero operating costs. No one gets paid – leaving all profit available to help fund Oxfam’s work and delivery worldwide is completely free. Pretty cool huh?

So go write a new chapter in Victor’s story. Or buy a book at Good Books. Because it really is possible to do what you love (write, read) and do good.

Do good, my friend.

And be well.




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3 Responses to "Write a new chapter in the story of poverty"

  1. Marcela says:

    What a great idea. I’ll share this with all my friends and contacts.

  2. Dario says:

    Great initiative!
    I’ll definitely promote on my website (by the way your link is dead). Exactly the type of creative and simple idea I’m looking to help publicize.

    I didn’t know about GROW either. Being more interest in structural failures as well, I love the comprehensive approach. I’d love to have a guest writer talk about either program… so if you know anyone who’d be interested (or yourself). Let me know!

  3. Mary Montanye says:

    Love this, Marianne. What an inspired and inspiring idea. Also, thanks for the info on Good Books. I’m a big book buyer. 🙂

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