Aliya began her career as a translator for Egyptian state media radio but left the role during the January 2011 revolution after witnessing the violent suppression firsthand and being asked to broadcast plainly untrue information. Alwi then began working on a freelance basis for English-language outlets like Al-Jazeera English, The Guardian, and many others. She covered violent unrest during military crackdowns in Cairo, chaotic elections in Alexandria, and the aftermath of the Port Said football massacre. She produced the first English-language interviews with army defectors and Islamist leaders like Aboud al-Zumour, convicted mastermind of the the 1981 assassination of former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. She was arrested during her coverage of the general strike in Mahalla in 2012, and along with her husband and fellow ImportantCool associate, Austin Mackell, spent six months fighting charges of “incitement” brought against the pair and their colleagues by the military government.
With his signature gritty cinematography, Stephon Barbour focuses on all the elements of hip hop by returning the culture to its origins of social commentary. Along the way, Stephon has shed light on issues orbiting hip hop, politics, and the world from behind the lens.
Barbour, of Louisville, Kentucky, began his career as a break dancer and rapper, but as the culture expanded he fell in love with hip hop’s journalism. Aspiring to interview, direct, produce, and write new programming for a new generation of viewers and listeners, Barbour committed himself to digital storytelling.
With a wide-ranging diverse resume that includes interviews with superstar rappers Lil Wayne and Rick Ross to former Underground Weatherman Bill Ayers and Honduras President Manuel Zelaya, Barbour has traveled around the world filming on social issues while compiling footage for his documentary on global hip hop, “Doebalization”.
Andy is a freelance journalist who splits his time between Albuquerque in the United States and Ramallah in the Occupied West Bank. He began writing for the New Mexico University student newspaper, one of the U.S.’s only daily student publications. He then went on to freelance for The Alibi, an Albuquerque-based publication, covering immigration, the drug war, and the Occupy Movement. In 2011 Beale received an invitation to attend the School of Authentic Journalism in Mexico, where he was invited by another course participant to move to and work in the Occupied West Bank. Andy worked for four months reporting on demonstrations held throughout the West Bank, as well as features on local arts and culture. Following Israel’s 2012 assault on the Gaza Strip, Andy gained access to the embattled enclave for a feature on medical professionals. Andy has contributed to Electronic Intifada and VICE magazine on couchsurfing in Israeli settlements; Nakba and Jerusalem Day commemorations, where he was shanked by a 12 year-old settler; and the eviction of 40,000 Bedouins in the Negev desert.
Felicity is a journalist, writer, and editor based between Manchester in the United Kingdom and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After writing freelance arts, culture, and feature articles for Flux Magazine and Manchester Confidential she moved to Brazil in 2009 and was a contributor, then senior contributor, to the Rio Times. She has also freelanced for outlets including The Guardian and Time Out. Clarke participated in the Megacities project organized by Forbes Magazine, which involved three months covering Rio’s informal settlements. In 2012, she began writing and editing for Rio OnWatch, the only bilingual news site reporting on the favelas. She coordinates the site’s coverage of Rio’s urban transformation ahead of the World Cup and Olympics, including forced evictions, public security, community resistance, and human rights issues. Felicity was influential in providing and curating detailed coverage of Brazil’s mass street protests. She also focuses on community media, social justice, inequality, and citizenship.
As an alternative health practitioner and educator, Karun, from Perth, Australia, concentrated on mental health and suicide prevention, challenging orthodox biodeterminist approaches to care and wellness. Cowper coordinated social media for Occupy Perth, edited political zines, and got into journalism with Perth Indymedia on RTRFM, Western Australia’s most popular alternative radio station, reporting, producing, and hosting. Karun has covered the aboriginal suicide epidemic with a focus on the macropicture of issues of social justice, poverty among indigenous communities, and their general chastisement. He’s also covered the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, the Australian government’s complicity in the genocidal activity of the Indonesian government in West Papua New Guinea, and produced and conducted interviews with Anthony Loewenstein, Scott Ludlam, Richard Dennis, Julian Assange, Ken Colbung, (a highly revered indigenous community elder and healer who led an expedition to retrieve the head of one of his ancestors that had been kept in the United Kingdom) and other prominent figures.
Cassie is a digital archivist from Sydney, Australia. She’s worked for Australia’s Westpac Bank as well as a wide range of government agencies, and served on the Board of the Australian Society of Archivists. In 2011 -2014 Findlay led a project to create a digital archive for New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state. Cassie has been published widely on digital recordkeeping, archives and open government. Her article ‘People, records and power: What archives can learn from WikiLeaks’ won the 2014 Taylor and Francis best Archives and Manuscripts article award. Cassie will be responsible for ImportantCool’s Artefact Cave, making this complicated system of documents hang together and stay secure, while remaining easily navigable and sharable.
Patrick is a journalist and blogger from London, currently working in Paris, France. After writing for Varsity, Cambridge University’s oldest student newspaper, he interned at The Daily Telegraph. Galey relocated to Beirut, Lebanon, in 2009 to write for The Daily Star. He covered everything from the country’s general election to stray circus lions roaming Beirut’s suburbs, while also writing three editorials each week for the English-language daily. Galey was the first journalist to publish the WikiLeaks U.S. diplomatic cables related to Lebanon for The Telegraph, covered the U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon, and broke news of the names of those accused of involvement in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Harriri. He moved to Egypt in 2012 to cover the Cairo uprising, filing regularly for The Telegraph, The Guardian, BBC, New Statesman, Foreign Policy, and Democracy Now. Galey’s coverage included the imprisonment of conscientious objectors in the Egyptian army and the Port Said football stadium riot. His freelance work included investigations into Israeli blood diamonds, Egyptian organ trafficking, and clashes in Beirut and Tripoli, Lebanon, as well as the assassination of Lebanon’s spy chief in October 2012.
Kenny Laurie is a sports reporter based in Istanbul, Turkey. Kenny moved to Beirut, Lebanon, in 2009, becoming the first-ever full-time sports reporter for The Daily Star, a local English-language paper, covering football and basketball news. A highlight in this role was Laurie’s coverage of Lebanon’s 2-1 upset defeat of South Korea in 2011’s World Cup qualifying group; the culmination of months of reporting on an improving team progressing against every logical impediment. Laurie also contributed reporting on the Asian World Cup qualifying rounds for the Press Association and regular match reports for the Associated Press. He moved to Dubai in 2012 to work for Sport 360, the only daily sports publication currently in print, producing interviews, features, and refreshing and revamping Sports 360’s live match day coverage packages. Laurie has covered ATP Tour tennis, European Tour gold, and the FIFA Under-17 World Cup while in Dubai, and has interviewed sports stars from Kobe Bryant to Maradona.
Austin Gerassimos Mackell
Austin is an Australian cross-platform journalist who began his career in Beirut during the 2006 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. He worked in the region for a total of four years, for outlets like The Diplomat, CBC, CBS, ABC (America), ABC (Australia), as well as independent and community outlets. He covered events such as the turbulent 2009 Iranian presidential elections and the unrest in Egypt during 2011 and 2012. Mackell broke news of the arrest of Egyptian Alber Saber, an atheist arrested on blasphemy charges. His work in Egypt also included investigations into army deserters and worker-led dissent leading to his arrest and charges of incitement filed against him in 2012. Austin was also one of the earliest and most vociferous of the voices warning against a military coup of 2013, by which stage he had moved to Ecuador and begun work on founding ImportantCool.
Fathered by an unknown sun. Husband to a superhuman wife. From an undisclosed location Marcus plots, with great expectation and occasional consternation, the fate of civilization. Motivated by an intense interest in everything interesting and a desire to understand all the little ways in which those things connect and relate, he has been led through an academic and professional career that covers sociology, politics, anthropology, information technology, complex systems, education, development and diplomacy. An occasional entrepreneur, Marcus has also started a number of independent projects over the years, touching on democratization and social organization. Presently enjoying the inexorable march of time, he wants to be part of ImportantCool, because it, in terms of both philosophy and innovation in operation, is both important and cool.
John McCabe is an editor and producer based in Beirut, Lebanon since 2009. McCabe began copy editing for The Daily Star, Lebanon’s English-language daily and moved to Al-Akhbar English, the sister site of the Arabic daily political newspaper, in 2011. McCabe’s contributions to Al-Akhbar – which features contributions from Noam Chomsky and Assaad Abu Khalil, among others – include the expansion of a glossary of terms and unifying the site’s editing processes. He also instituted the uniform usage of transliterated spellings from Arabic. From May 2012 to early 2014 McCabe was news editor at Al-Etejah English, an Iraq-based international satellite news channel, mentoring a team of news reporters covering global affairs, focusing on the global south, especially states which do not conform to global geopolitical orthodoxy. McCabe initiated new guidelines for editing and fact checking, provided tutorials in English-language news reporting, and helped streamline the news-gathering processes at the channel.
McIvor is a casual academic and research assistant at Macquarie University. He completed his Ph.D. in Business at the University of Western Sydney. His doctoral research looked at the links between economic theory and the theory and practice of corporate social responsibility in a variety of contexts, as well as the limitations of markets in limiting corporate malfeasance and other negative social outcomes. He’s also helped produce a report in 2014 on the link between climate change and the workplace and looks forward be bringing academically informed critical economic analysis to ImportantCool.
Adriana is a Colombian lawyer, journalist, historian, and author with an expertise in refugee issues, including the way recipient countries often also deny their rights, especially to to political expression. She’s worked with advocacy and civil society groups like the Latin American Forced Migration Network to advocate for migrants, farmers, and other vulnerable populations in Colombia and across the region. This work saw her explore the links between forced migration, resistance, and human rights frameworks, and impressed upon her the importance of listening to and recording their narratives in their own words. She’s ready to bring the stories of these people to ImportantCool’s readers, and to shine a light on the systemic and historical tragedies behind these people’s plights.
Simeon Nkola Matamba
Simeon is a young congolese (DRC) based in South Africa for academic and self actualization purposes. He’s pursuing a learning career in Business Management and has an acute passion for social medias that he resorts to so as to impart his opinions around news on global, continental, and regional matters. He’s the author of “Simeon Writes” blog (simeonblogs.wordpress.com). Additionally, thanks to his background in relation to Congo, he’s fluent in both French and Lingala, respectively official and first national language, and knowledgeable about Tshiluba (one of the four national languages). He’s passionate about writing on issues related to news on politics, development ,social life, etc. He also writes on personal development with a motivational approach. He allots a great importance to sharing philosophical and spiritual thoughts with whoever found in his radar detection’s scope. Being an avowed christian, his achievements in English proficiency trainings enable him to be a translator in his religious community. Thus he helps smoothening the communication process by removing language barriers.He likes reading, discussing, and debating with friends, and has an overwhelming drive for learning and mastering diverse matters of relevance.
Jasper is a photographer, travel writer and educator based in Sydney, Australia. He has traveled and taught in numerous countries in Europe and Asia, and intends to go to many more. He is also studying a Masters of Applied Linguistics at Monash university, in order to explore his fascination of all things language-related. Jasper’s love of photography began in a high school darkroom, and has continued to this day. His passion for teaching was born when he first traveled to Georgia as a volunteer teacher in 2010; what was intended to be a brief respite from a tech firm job in Sydney became a 5-year career. Since then he has taught children in crumbling Soviet-era schools, Shanghainese office workers, and also taught Plato to the sons and daughters of farmers at an Inner Mongolian university. His travels have resulted in him being not bad at Chinese, okay at Japanese, able to hold stilted conversations in Georgian, say “No” in Armenian and swear colourfully in Russian. Other memorable experiences include being chased by Tibetan sheepdogs and nearly (accidentally) crossing the China-Myanmar border. In his spare time, Jasper has his nose in a book or is wandering around with his camera.
Lewis is a Cairo-based journalist and cultural critic. He is a contributing writer for Signs of Seeing, a Paris-based blog that aims to treat urban “seeing” as a collective, interactive process from creation, to curation, to everyday encounters with visual culture. Sanders also co-hosted a vlog with Austin Mackell entitled Patient Zero Philosophy, which aims to radicalize ideas by using pop philosophy to examine contemporary issues – and which it is expected will return as part of Important Cool. Sanders has also published two chapters on street art and poetry from the January 25 uprising in a book entitled Translating Egypt’s Revolution: The Language of Tahrir (American University in Cairo Press, 2012). His latest research project focuses on territoriality and street art in revolutionary Cairo. In his down time, Lewis produces hip hop and music videos. He also adheres to the mantra Culture Rules Everything Around Me, a derivative from Wu-Tang Clan’s 1994 hit single C.R.E.A.M.
Christian is a social anthropologist, who, while working on his honors degree, detailed practices of biopiracy: pharmaceutical firms exploiting the medicinal knowledge of indigenous tribes to claim profitable drug “innovations.” Christian moved to Ecuador in 2013 and spent months at a time among the Shuar indigenous people, the famous “headshrinkers” of Ecuador’s remote southeast, exploring the Shuar’s use of traditional medicine including exploring the Shuar’s use of psychedelics and views on the mind-body connection. Tym is also investigating the political aspects of indigenous organizations, the Shuar being one of the first tribes of the Amazon to federate, and continues to conduct research in this regard in Quito. While in the capital, Tym has become deeply immersed in the political situation. As his access to journalism has increased, Tym has been monitoring the Spanish-speaking South American press and its vociferous treatment of many ruling parties. He has travelled throughout the continent to meet with members of various leftist-indigenous groups.