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A cute little fish from Japan becomes a symbol of our unsustainable addiction to single-use plastics (temp: find wording less targeting Japan and addiction to single-use - we already have heard it before).


Photos of Colombo Social taken by Jungle House, June 2023.

Waste generally isn't a very sexy topic, even on the New York runway it's probably mid tier beneath 'swimwear' and the retrospective of '17th century peasant attire'. In our modern cities our whole lives are pretty much spent avoiding the waste we create. You'll find it lurking under our apartments in sad, dark little rooms forgotten by even the most tediously detailed architects, or swiftly removed from our homes in clinical porcelain rooms with minimal skin to skin contact. Our garbage tips are conspicuously ignored by tourism commercials, and even the people employed to manage our waste are confined to work in the very early hours out of sight, and when we do see them it's often accompanied with swearing as we try to squeeze past them on a narrow suburban street (temp: not necessarily true and not necessarily the reason being we are avoiding trash. Rewrite). We don't like waste, and yet we create a lot of it - if we want to truly tackle the waste problem, it's going to have to be addressed at both ends: finding a way to re-use what we would generally throw away, and also changing the relationship with the things we do have, so that perhaps they never end up as waste in the first place. (Point being, waste is only waste when it is wasted).

Heliograf is the design collaboration between Angus Ware and Jeffrey Simpson, and their debut product is the Light Soy lamp which comments on the issue of single-use plastic making its way into our waterways and oceans by taking the form of the iconic Shoyu-Tai (soy-sauce snapper), more commonly known as 'the soy sauce fish'.

The lamp is made in the image of a the small soy sauce fish bottles but scaled up a few hundred percent, and made out of recycled plastic that was certified to have been collected from coastal regions around South-East Asia.


Front door and interiors.
Photos of Colombo Social taken by Jungle House, June 2023.

But why care? Because it's cool to care, and Shaun Christie-David cares a whole lot more than you can imagine. A few months after opening with great success, the pandemic hit in 2020, and like the rest of us, they were told to pack it up and stay inside. The gas was switched off, chairs were stacked up, and the reality sank in that now nobody had a job. Many of the staff didn't have access to government support, and so Shaun used the money they had made in the few months since opening to keep them afloat and off the streets (author's note: this is severely downplaying the situation; it was genuinely extremely dire).

He didn't stop there though; Colombo Social was built on the idea of using food to help those in need, so despite the now total lockdown, they continued to do so. Donating first hundreds, then thousands of meals in a coordinated effort with partner organisations to make sure that if there were hungry people, they would be fed. This was the beginning of Plate It Forward - the scaled-up initiative of Colombo Social's original mission, where they provide now broad, industry-standard training to anyone facing barriers to entering the Australian workforce.



The very friendly team, the delicious food and the welcoming environment.
Photos of Colombo Social taken by Jungle House, June 2023.

Behind the business model is a motive of good - the desire to help empower vulnerable community members to break through the barriers that prevent them from social and economic participation. 

If balance is what we're all looking for, then Shaun has become the master. There's a notion that you can't be profitable and giving; that business and social enterprise must look and behave a certain way. Colombo Social is a balance of social enterprise and business success. It demonstrates that you can be motivated by a good cause and still have a flourishing company. You can drive positive change in the community, because you decide to. You can run a growing business, with the mission being to give back. Dare we say, you can have your cake and eat it too. Shaun applied his business experience to work on social enterprise start-ups with the intention to help, educate, employ, and empower vulnerable communities - because he can - and because if people like him didn't, who would?

The metric of their success isn't money; it's how many people they can help, and their driving force for scaling up and being successful is so that they can help more people all of the time. If you look at their website, you'll find proud (and growing) statistics shared; these are current as of June 2023:



Hours of training and employment provided to new Australian's looking to start a better life


For every guest who dines on 'Amma's banquet menu' we provide a meal to an asylum seeker in need.


Asylum Seekers Employed & Trained


Staff on the 7th June, 2023.
Photos of Colombo Social taken by Jungle House, June 2023.

Shaun's love language of food now reaches beyond his Sri Lankan heritage. Through Plate It Forward, the organisation has centralised and broadened their impact, adding three other venues: Kabul Social, Coyoacán Social, and Anything But Humble.

The outreach and training for asylum seekers and those facing barriers to entering the Australian workforce continues as Ability Social, and the two thousand odd meals they were donating through the Covid-19 lockdowns have grown into what they call the Social Meal.

We believe that if you're doing things for the right reasons, then people won't have to be convinced to support you. People can recognise someone who is giving and will want to give back. A story worth celebrating is something that reminds us that a city isn't comprised of numbers or lines on a graph; it's made of people, and that's who we need to remember to take care of.

Food for thought, courtesy of Shaun Christie-David.

Check out Colombo Social here.


The best staff working on the 7th June, 2023.
Photos of Colombo Social taken by Jungle House, June 2023.

WORDS:  Tom Gilligan
PHOTOS:  Jungle House Creative

Let's celebrate good stories.

Stories from an ever-growing list of inspiring young engineers, designers, restaurateurs, architects, artists, start-ups, local heroes, activists, and innovators.


Chapter One


We're pulling into focus all the bright bulbs who are making an impact with what they do, showing how it's done, and probably looking good while doing it.

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