2020 is a unique year. Nobody will argue with you on that. A single virus on its remarkable path of infection of global humanity has disrupted economies, political alliances, and cultural mores.
Some of the shifts that have happened are rooted in tragedy. The death of George Floyd was a seed that sprung protests across America and the world. Today we have in sight a more equitable world – and we can achieve it. The six teenage girls, age 14-16, who organised the biggest march against racism in the history of Nashville, USA (over 10 000 marched) offers great hope for the generations that will follow us.
Here at Canon Collins we are doing things a little differently too in recognition of the exceptional group of scholars we are supporting in 2020. As a group of scholar activists, they are demonstrating innovative thinking, courageous empathy and a solutions-orientated mindset in the midst of significant challenges.
The Scholars’ Scholar, who is selected by the alumni, is an exceptional person: someone who represents the Trust’s vision of an open and just society. The campaign is funded entirely through the fundraising efforts of our alumni, and is about acknowledging the opportunity alumni have had to study and be part of this community. Through contributions to the Campaign, Canon Collins alumni make it possible for another to travel the same road.
For the first time in the history of the award, Canon Collins Alumni have decided to give the Scholars' Scholar award to two individuals: Zoe Postman, who is doing a Masters in Political Studies, and Simon Mayson, who is doing his PhD in Urban Planning.
Zoe is a journalist working for the not-for-profit news agency GroundUp. “I am a young, black woman reimagining a more just and equal society, and always trying to find ways to make it a reality.” Her research into the informal sector, particularly reclaiming (informal collectors and recyclers of waste in South Africa), is one way she hopes to contribute to the just society we collectively imagine.
“Covid-19 has highlighted the cracks in our system and demanded more immediate action to protect the most vulnerable in our society. The validation from the scholarship in the form of the Scholar's Scholar Award came at the right time for me. It inspired and assisted me to get involved beyond my current work. I intend to use this opportunity to connect a community of current and former scholar-activists on the scholarship that will enact change, together. This is particularly in relation to my work and studies around Reclaimers who play an integral role in the country's waste management system.” Zoe Postman
Simon Sizwe Mayson is pursuing an action research PhD at Wits University. He’s been working towards enabling a Wellbeing Economy in ‘Makers Valley’, inner city Johannesburg, asking ‘what is a good life really, and how do we get there?’ Using the PhD opportunity to explore how to maximise his own change maker potential, he has become most intensively involved with early childhood development. As co-director of the Changemaker Children partnership, he believes that early childhood is a key to reducing inequalities and nurturing agents of change.
“I am honoured to share the Scholars' Scholar award with fellow Canon Collins Scholar and brave journalist, Zoe Postman. We plan to use the opportunity to showcase and support fellow change makers in the Canon Collins network, and so inspire change making and action research across Southern Africa. Some of the things we have planned include a Changemakers Retreat, an 'offers and needs' database, and quality journalism amplifying scholars and alumni's work towards the greater good.' Simon Mayson
Alumna and South Africa Manager, Gillian Attwood explains the Alumni Committee's break away from tradition, "what we liked about them is that they both break the mould, going beyond stereotypes in their work and fields, and both of them will impact very positively on the Canon Collins community. They absolutely embody what the Trust is about. They are courageous and intensely involved at a personal, political and academic level in their work, which promises to be transformative for their fields."