As we begin 2007, the Art of Life team is looking ahead to the kind of stories we want to cover. Our inaugural year was filled with so many different adventures (from heli-skiing in Canada to the Monaco Grand Prix) and we got to meet some great personalities (Donatella Versace at the Oscars to Olivier Martinez at an elephant polo tournament in Jaipur, India). So how do we top it? Truth be told, we have barely scratched the surface.
This year on Art of Life, while we want to bring you all the indulgences the world of luxury has to offer, we also want to share with you stories of goodwill. Art of Life's producer Andrea Armsden calls them stories of "ethical consumption."
You'd have to be living under a rock to not know about the kind of awareness people like Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffet, Bono, Bob Geldof, and Oprah Winfrey generate for certain issues and causes. But there are other people -- other companies - who, by way of their living and the way they operate their businesses, are benefiting mankind not just today but for generations to come. We hope to share with you the stories like that of Ali Hewson, co founder of high-end clothing company Edun, whose philosophy, "is to help increase trade and create sustainable employment for developing areas of the world with an emphasis on Africa, providing a business model that others can replicate and follow."
Former top model Bibi Russell (who has appeared for Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld and Giorgio Armani) established Bibi Productions, a company that has employed more than 35,000 weavers across her home country, Bangladesh, to bring to life her designs in their textiles. More importantly, she has helped in her own way to lift many out of poverty, given the weavers a purpose and future, and brought an international focus to a part of the world not many think about. She says: "It's about using culture and creativity to eradicate poverty." In 1999, Russell was named UNESCO Special Envoy: Designer for Development for her work.
There has been a lot of debate lately about the diamond industry and how the interest in the gem has fueled war and destruction in East Africa. While there has certainly been evidence pointing to that fact, resulting in the term "conflict diamond," there have also been examples of how the diamond mining industry has helped communities, especially in southern Africa, grow and become sustainable. According to the World Diamond Council, every child up to the age of 13 in Botswana has access to free education. The revenues from the diamond trade have been instrumental in the fight against HIV/AIDS, particularly through providing medication. It's because of this billion-dollar industry that governments in the third world are able to function and provide for their people. Granted, it was only seven years ago that the global diamond industry formally recognized a zero tolerance towards the importation of conflict diamonds but as a result of that policy, the U.N. now estimates that more that 99 percent of the world's diamonds are from conflict-free zones. While it is important to highlight the wrongdoing and exploitation that has taken place in various industries, it is also crucial to recognize those who are not only doing something about it, but are helping people legally overcome this and prosper.
These are just a few examples of some of the stories we hope to explore this year. Art of Life is a show about the finer in things in life and how people live that luxurious lifestyle. In addition to luxury, we hope to share with you how some of those people that do live the good life are giving something good back.