The House of Lebanon had the rare chance to meet up-close with the creative mind behind Live Love Beirut, a social media empire in its own right that has mushroomed across the world to generate social action, social entrepreneurship and effective change.
Based in New York and Los Angeles, Lebanese designer and artist Youmna Chamcham sat down with the House of Lebanon to talk about how she was able to harness the power of online communities to spark campaigns for impact and change through mobilizing volunteers on the ground and partnering with local communities.
While Live Love started as an art project in 2012 for one of her classes at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, it propelled into a world renowned online name after Youmna partnered with Eddy Bitar, an event manager and eco-tourism specialist in Lebanon, to start Live Love Beirut.
Beauty from Within
“This is a business model for social impact where anyone can submit a project and get funded by Live Love Bracelets.”Youmna Chamcham
Just as it originally set out to accomplish, Live Love Beirut has rapidly grown to showcase the beauty people find in Lebanon, with over 250 ambassadors across cities and areas in Lebanon.
This “call to share the beauty of Lebanon with the world” produced the Live Love Beirut bracelet, now the symbol of Live Love which has been sold in over 43 countries. The proceeds from the bracelet sales help fund local projects that create change in Lebanon. “This is a business model for social impact where anyone can submit a project and get funded by Live Love Bracelets,” said Youmna.
In no time, Live Love became a concept that traveled abroad with over 25 countries carrying the label of Live Love on social media.
From Social Media to Social Action
The concept of utilizing social media to promote social action came to Youmna’s mind in 2013 as Lebanon suffered a waste management crisis. Since the crisis, Live Love has partnered with local and international organizations like the UNDP to start and manage environmental campaigns and programs, such as the cleanup of hunting cartridges, planting trees, and underwater cleanups. Also, Live Love Recycle was able to mobilize through its app and social media community more than 15,000 volunteers and local partners to gather over 300 tons of recyclables.
The more the need for social reform, the more Live Love is there to advocate for it. Live Love-The Sea, Women, Volunteer, Bike, Nature, Zero Hunger, Rivers, and Nature, to name a few, are some of the initiatives started by Live Love to create online awareness, advocacy and mobilization. In sum, Live Love is now able to create social impact by engaging citizens and calling for responsible citizenship.
Live Love became the official campaign of the Ministry of Tourism in Lebanon.
Among its most recent collaborations is with SEAL, a New York based non-profit organization providing under-served Lebanese communities the tools to create sustainable economic opportunities and improve their livelihoods. SEAL chose to support and power Live Love Tours.
What Live Love has accomplished in less than a decade is too vast to capture in one story. This dynamo of social change and advocacy has started yet another new initiative created to combat poverty and economic duress in Lebanon. It is called the 2020: Lebanon Crisis Relief designed to help support Lebanese people during this crisis by creating efficient actions that provide basic necessities like food, medicine and clothing to those in urgent need.
A Closer Encounter
For those who spent their childhood in Lebanon, Youmna is a familiar face on kids’ television screens as she produced, acted, and wrote songs for the children’s show Mini Studio.
“Give yourself the means and possibility to do something you love. ”Youmna Chamcham
While her passion is storytelling and community building, her fascination lies in the “magic” that comes out of online communities. Youmna has given TED talks about Live Love and has worked with artists and high end clients from companies around the globe, such as Dior and Reem Acra.
When asked what advice she would give to Lebanese youth, she encouraged them to “give yourself the means and possibility to do something you love.”