Can we create empathic connections between dispersed communities of the global supply chain? How can these empathic connections be used for learning?

During 2019, Luke Rideout carried out an investigation into a supply chain of coffee in Kenya and the Netherlands. His aim was to explore possibilities for connecting the communities of global supply chains. Global Supply Chains are designed for transporting goods, but can they be used as platforms for learning and empathy between communities around the globe?

One outcome to his research was the Supply Chain Broadcast developed in collaboration with Juhee Hahm. It is an audio-visual series sharing the life and stories of communities along the supply chain of coffee in Kenya and the Netherlands. One of the aims being to unite them in the knowledge of their individual contributions to production. It is also designed to be used as a starting point for global conversations about the supply chain. It includes interviews from the different communities and institutions they visited as well as reflections from their perspectives.

The institutions Luke and Juhee interviewed or visited include: A smallholding in Murkewe-ini (Farm), Rugi Farmers Co-op Society (Wet Mill), Central Kenya Coffee Mill (Dry Mill), Tropical Farm Management (Marketer), Nairobi Coffee Exchange (Auction), Kenya Co-operative Coffee Exporters (Exporter), Vava Coffee (Import/Export), Wafalme (Logistics), Starbucks Nederland (Logistics), Tring Tring (Logistics), Stean Beans (Import/Export), Spot on Coffee (Roaster), Good Beans (Cafe), Monk’s (Cafe), Daymade (Cafe), Stach (Cafe), Bocca (Cafe) UvA International Development Masters (Educational Institution).

Another outcome is a text entitled ‘Supply Chain City‘ which imagines a potential future for the coffee supply chain. Supply Chain City is a fully autonomous socio-economic entity- somewhere between a city and a state- with no fixed geographic borders. It behaves as a community, centred around common economic and social goals that are decided by all its citizens. To expand the world of Supply Chain City, Luke built a set of objects that exist within it. For example, the Containerscope VR headset allows you to experience a conversation with Kanaru, a coffee farmer in rural Kenya.