Looking on the bright side

Daisy Lin, the founder of Bright Side Projects, combines her passion for art, exercise and healthy eating in holistic workshops to promote self-empowerment in underprivileged communities

By Dana Ter  /  Staff reporter

Bright Side Projects hope to bring smiles to the children of Chingchuan Township with a series of workshops that are open to the public.

Taiwan-born, California-raised social activist Daisy Lin (林黛西) is all heart and smiles as she explains her organization, the Bright Side Projects’ (臺灣嚮光協會) next workshop in Chingchuan (清泉), an Atayal village nestled in the mountains of Wufeng Township (五峰) in Hsinchu County. Tomorrow morning, in celebration of Bright Side’s two-and-a-half year involvement in the community, there will be tie-dye and arts and crafts stations, as well as a specially-prepared vegetarian feast with apple sliced lollipops dipped in melted chocolate and vegan caramel sauce for dessert.

For nearly a decade, Lin worked in global marketing and branding for luxury goods. Disillusioned, she quit her job one day and volunteered in several local non-profits throughout Taiwan.

“My job was to recreate what ‘needs’ were to a social being and then sell this packaged lifestyle,” Lin tells the Taipei Times. “However, the problems in the real world still existed and things were not getting better for people or the environment.”

Drawing from her various passions such as healthy eating, as well as a focus on lifestyle, animal welfare, and environmental and social activism, Lin founded Bright Side Projects, a non-profit which strives to foster long-term community involvement in underprivileged communities.

Bright Side holds regular monthly events in places like Chingchuan where they match up a volunteer with one or two children from the Atayal community. Their activities include anything from yoga and modern dance to writing and directing screenplays. In addition, there are cooking demonstrations where children learn about nutrition and are introduced to healthy eating. Lin also makes sure that the children are aware of other cultures and customs around the world. As such, Bright Side organizes events like planting marigolds for the Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday which brings together family and friends to remember the dearly departed.

“It’s a huge diversity of lessons that are being taught,” Lin says, “but one of the consistent themes encouraged is that we can make our own decisions.”

SELF-EMPOWERMENT AND SALADS

One of the most successful events, Lin says, was their “Love Dogs” workshop, during which the children were split into groups to discuss how they would take care of dogs. The children were asked to illustrate their ideas and those drawings were then transferred onto silk screens to create t-shirts. A portion of the proceeds from the sales are currently going to helping stray animals in Taiwan.

This cyclical approach to self-empowerment has been very effective. As Lin says, “the kids create art, gain knowledge and are empowered to see how to turn that into a tool to help others.”

In the summer of 2012, Lin became a vegetarian and has since been imparting her love for healthy eating to the children.

“When our meals are created, everyone gathers around so they know what ingredients are in the dish and who made it. It’s a bonding experience to give thanks, share the food and clean the dishes together,” Lin adds.

Saladay, a vegetarian restaurant, has sponsored many of their workshops since 2013. Fresh Bakery & Cafe, Taipei’s first vegan bakery, also caters delicious vegan pastries for Bright Side events. Finally, as a result of their recent gift drive, Bright Side has been able to provide families in Chinghcuan with access to organic food planted by local farmers.

Original article here: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/feat/archives/2015/01/09/2003608795