Osmosis is an organization that designs and implements public education campaigns around the world. Our goal is to empower individuals, non-profit organizations, and private companies to work together for social justice. We create simple, cost-effective strategies for raising public awareness that initiate dialogue, expand outreach, and achieve lasting sustainability to tackle global inequalities.

Osmosis' first program is titled "The Napkin Project" and will begin in Fortaleza, Brazil in June 2007. Our goal is to facilitate the spread of public health information through the creation of printed napkins. With support from the Serviço Social da Indústria (SESI) and the Hospital Batista Memorial, we plan to approach local napkin producers in the Fortaleza area with a simple proposal: print napkins that will not only advertise your corporate sponsors, but educate the community about health dangers common to northeastern Brazil.

The Napkin Project

By most standards, Fortaleza – a city of roughly 2 million people on the northeastern coast of Brazil – is a tropical paradise. The city sits atop a seemingly endless string of white sand beaches, tall palm trees sway gently in the wind and it never rains for more than 15 minutes. Yet, at the same time, a cloud hangs over the city and, indeed, over much of northeastern Brazil. The recent spread of HIV has caused incredible suffering, often attacking society's most vulnerable demographic: young people. The social repercussions of this pandemic are a profound threat to peace and social stability. Our project confronts this problem with a simple system that will use existing networks to empower and educate the community. We intend to create a coalition of food vendors who will fight the spread and stigma associated with HIV through the distribution of napkins.

Fortaleza benefits from an extensive network of food vendors, snack bars and small restaurants that are located throughout the city. Vendors have almost constant contact with young people. Besides snacks, we believe that the city's network of food vendors can provide the community with information on the dangers and common misconceptions associated with HIV.

We plan to meet with as many food vendors as possible. We plan to motivate vendors to participate in this initiative by offering them free sample napkins with short, tasteful messages and resource recommendations printed on the front. Then, with the support of a group of conscientious, community-minded vendors, we plan to approach napkin manufacturers with a simple proposal: print napkins that will educate the community and advertise for local NGOs that fight the spread of HIV. Do this for a fair price and enjoy the support – as well as the flattering PR – of our organization of vendors and small business owners.

By building connections between existing resources, local networks, youth groups, and governmental agencies, we intend to establish a lasting program in Fortaleza that will benefit both its participants and the community at large.

Project Leaders

Michael McCulloch is a History major at Carleton College with a minor in Latin American Studies. Nazish Zafar is a Sociology/Anthropology major at Carleton with a minor in Cross-Cultural Studies. Together, our passions and ideals motivate our interest in this project and our commitment to the eventual construction of a sustainable system through which food vendors in Fortaleza can use existent networks to effect positive change in their local environment. We believe, also, that the simplicity of our project speaks to its transnational potential. Global epidemics such as the spread of HIV are a profound threat to peace and social stability; however, solutions to this problem may not necessarily be so complex. Napkins, though plain, are a basic material that billions of people use everyday. Likewise, food vendors – though not always imagined as mediums of information – are an integral part of urban life around the world. We, thus, propose to develop a simple process where the end product will, hopefully, end up in the garbage. At the same time, we hope that before these little white pieces of paper become garbage, they do more than clean your face.

Contact:

Michael McCulloch and Nazish Zafar
300 North College Street
Northfield, MN
55057 - U.S.A.

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thenapkinproject.googlepages.com/