Karen graduated from Cambridge University in 2010 with a BA in Chinese Studies and Theology and Religious Studies. Since then she has been pioneering new ideas of community development within city spaces through her independent research projectfound. The first phase of the vision has taken her to Qingdao, China where along with a small team she is setting up a duel community cafe-community home project.

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14th September 2014 Posted by Karen

Fairtrade in the Market Place

Elaine writes...

Markets developed hundreds of years ago, as a way of bringing together those who had products with those who wanted to buy them… You would get in your cart and drive in to the nearest market town, with all your stuff, and sell it for as much as you could get, or even exchange it for things which you and your family needed. Often, you would be selling directly to the person who needed your stock, and you’d at least get the chance to barter a fair price. The basic idea of a market hasn’t changed. However, as it was then, there are plenty of people across the world now who have no way of getting either themselves or their products to the appropriate market place. Whether skilled artisans in India, making beautiful metal work or single women in Bangladesh making clay tea light holders: the product is wonderful but miles away from those who would use it.

These people, unable to bargain for themselves, are left vulnerable to extortion. They have to sell their wares to somebody, but their urgent needs for basic education, sanitation or even food leaves them without the luxury of waiting for a fair price. Sometimes they have little option but to sell at totally unsustainable prices, as that’s all the middleman will offer. This is where Fairtrade comes in.

Fairtrade regulates the middleman, and means that we can be enriched by the craftsmanship of people all over the world, without worrying that we’re making them poorer! It guarantees a minimum price which is sustainable, and also ensures the payment of a premium on top of that which goes straight into a communal fund for the producers to use. Fairtrade premiums across the world are paying for schools to educate young and old, for improved sanitation, better materials or training in new farming methods, and in each case leaving people slightly less vulnerable in this global economy.


Markets have changed now: any town market is not only full of vegetables & fruit from surrounding farms, but of crafts and goods from all over the world, from toys made in China to woolly jumpers from Peru. It’s not often possible to trace their path, from production in Cambodia to purchase in Cambridge. With Fairtrade, at least we can guarantee that the gift you’re buying was a gift across the board: enriching the producers as well as the purchasers, so you both come off better from that moment in the market.


Elaine had spent a year pioneering our fairtrade stand in Cambridge Market Square.


20th March 2014 Posted by Karen

Be Inspired

projectfound's blog has been severely neglected. We have been busy living life and building our dreams but we haven't been very good at sharing it; sorry to our avid supporters out there. As most of you know we have been running our market stand in Cambridge for just over 6 months now and Elaine and her team are loving it. Our cafe hub out in China continues to bring joy to the area when our team have time to run it (more news on that to come...!). I am over half way through my how-to-be-a-pioneer course and it have been a great place of focus for me in amidst everything else going on. Our charity campaign for International China Concern took a huge boost from our friend Mark's recent CHARITY CHOP (more to come, more to come...) and Jonathan and I are enjoying the challenge of being involved in a church replant at my home church in London.

Somewhere in amongst all of this I have commenced a post-graduate course in children's nursing...what on earth am I doing? There are many reasons why I started this course most of which I wont focus on here. One of my motivations for getting a vocational experience under my belt was to understand more of the world of those around me. I've never really had a proper job; I've certainly never had a job for more than 9 months and I've never worked for a large organisation before (a parent of a patient mentioned to me that the NHS was the 3rd largest employer globally...). I get excited about lots of things including being a Christian and letting the joy and freedom of christ flood your life. Apparently its easier to do that and to feel like doing that when you are immersed in floaty and creative community building and more difficult when you are weighed down by the rigorous monotony of modern day employment.

Some of my friends felt I didn't get where they were coming from and that I couldn't appreciate just how hard they found it to get up, go to work and come home everyday never mind extra-curricular Jesus time. I realised that if I wanted to encourage others to live more in the joy and freedom of Christ I would need to do what they do to understand where they are coming from. I wanted to experience what it was like to work a normal job, be responsible and accountable to something and somebody and to know what it meant to earn a wage. For this experiment I ended up selecting a nursing course in London. You can check out some of my more individual reflections and feelings on the process:

Now heres the great part where I tell you after 6 months of university studies and placements on the wards I have it all sorted out and under my belt. I am here to tell you the six steps to living in the joy and freedom of Christ in the work place. I have the definition of what it means to be an Ordinary Radical right here and I'm willing to share it with you...! No. turns out it isn't that easy. Of course I never thought it would be.

Within the projectfound team we have a little saying we like to share with one another: be encouraged. Its a fantastic and uplifting slogan which can be biblically applied to almost any situation. We love it. I am going to add to our successful repertoire of 'be' phrases: be inspired. That is what I have come up with so far. Because mostly I am not enjoying the course or the work. I don't enjoy the responsibility, the paperwork, the policies, the red-tape, the systems, the rules, the angry and frustrated colleagues, the busyness, the pressure, the studying, the inefficiencies and the failing. I don't like doing this thing which is so completely out of my comfort zone. I need to be inspired, constantly. I find myself clinging desperately to any semblance of pioneer spirit I once possessed. Its really, really hard to be radical and live an ordinary be an ordinary radical. I don't know how to do it. I am here to learn.

My first strategy to share then is this: be inspired. Whatever it takes, find something that inspires you. Be inspired both about who you are and what you are doing. So now I am looking for inspiration and I challenge you to do the same.


24th September 2013 Posted by Karen

Walk the Wall 2013

This weekend a group of projectfounders and friends are going to be heading down to Richmond Park in London to join International China Concern for their annual fundraising event WALK THE WALL. This is going to be in conjunction with our new COMMUNITY TO COMMUNITY initiative which hopefully you have ready about already! We love ICC and the work they are doing and are really excited to get involved and be a part of this event. If you'd like to sponsor us PLEASE let us know or follow the link below and help give life and end abandonment. Our team target is £250. We will also be raising money over the next 2 years with our on going campaign to raise £20,000 for the building of group homes. More on that in the coming weeks....For the time being just to say thanks and we hope to have some pictures of the event to share with you after the weekend!


To Sponsor us Copy the link below and search for one of the team!


23rd August 2013 Posted by Karen

projectfound hits Cambridge Market


As if our exciting news about our Discover China event wasn't enough we have even more in the pipeline! For weeks now we have been promising lots of fun stuff on the horizon and now its all arrived at once. As well as our 3 cities tour we are in the midst of launching our first Cambridge based endeavour - the market stand, supplying all your fairtrade gift needs! Our cafe in China was named ?cafe - which could be translated as 'love the cafe', now our new Cambridge based enterprise is following suit under the banner of 'Love the City'. You can find Elaine and other team members in Cambridge market every Tuesday!


We will be selling a fine array of fairtrade goods to fill any household including phone cases, jewellery, bags and purses. Most of our stock is coming from the lovely traidcraft at the moment but we hope to have our own lines of specialty items out by the close of the year.


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