The Good Listening To Show: Stories of Distinction & Genius

Feeding Change: Melanie Vaxevanakis, Trailblazing Founder of the Bristol 'Mazi Project' on Helping Marginalised 16-24 Year Olds 'Back To The Dinner Table' by Gaining Access to Better Food & Nutrition Through the Power of Community

June 30, 2023 Chris Grimes - Facilitator. Coach. Motivational Comedian
Feeding Change: Melanie Vaxevanakis, Trailblazing Founder of the Bristol 'Mazi Project' on Helping Marginalised 16-24 Year Olds 'Back To The Dinner Table' by Gaining Access to Better Food & Nutrition Through the Power of Community
The Good Listening To Show: Stories of Distinction & Genius
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The Good Listening To Show: Stories of Distinction & Genius
Feeding Change: Melanie Vaxevanakis, Trailblazing Founder of the Bristol 'Mazi Project' on Helping Marginalised 16-24 Year Olds 'Back To The Dinner Table' by Gaining Access to Better Food & Nutrition Through the Power of Community
Jun 30, 2023
Chris Grimes - Facilitator. Coach. Motivational Comedian

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Delighted to welcome the trailblazing changemaker Melanie Vaxevanakis from the Bristol based Mazi Project, on a mission to help marginalised 16-25 year olds gain better access to more nutritional food, food education and self-care - and in a nutshell, 'bring them to the Dinner Table', with all the mental health benefits that the power of sharing & community can bring.

From FUMING to ACTION! A story about how the Mazi Project  was born, inspired by Mel's noticing the appalling quality of free school lunch provision being provided to families at the beginning of the Pandemic, to now shipping 70 boxes a day of fresh fruit, vegetables and a recipe card to young people who wouldn't otherwise have access or have been able to afford it.

Now two-and-a-half years on, complete with Maisie Williams “Game of Thrones” Actress (who also grew up in Bristol) as Charity Ambassador on board, the Mazi Project is going from strength-to-strength.

With Maisie Williams on board, it’s not so much “Game of Thrones” as “Game of Nom-Noms”! (See what I’m doing there?!)

You can also Watcvh/Listen To Melanie's episode here:
https://vimeo.com/841229639

More about Melanie:

Pull up a chair and prepare to be inspired as we share a compelling conversation with the remarkable Melanie Vaxevanakis.  

Drawing on her Greek roots and Bristol surroundings, Melanie, founder of the Mazi Project, passionately discusses her journey from documenting stories through film to creating a powerful initiative that dishes out 70 fresh, nutritious recipes a week to young people in need. 

Melanie's story is one of anger, transformation, and ultimately, impact - as she took her frustrations with inadequate government-provided food packages and channelled it into a project that nourishes bodies and minds.

Finding solace in her 'Clearings' - the kitchen and the sea - Melanie reveals how these spaces nourish her creative energy and inspire her work with the Mazi Project. 

Beyond just providing sustenance, she's determined to build a community space that reduces social isolation, fosters confidence, and empowers every participant to feel extraordinary. 

While the Pandemic may have been the catalyst for Melanie's journey, it's also been a lesson in resilience and the importance of mental wellbeing, a lesson she's keen to share with her listeners.

From the power of protests to the significant moment the Colston statue was dropped into Bristol harbour, Melanie's insights shed light on the potency of collective action and the need for continued social justice work. 

We also dive into personal distractions, strategies for overcoming them, and explore the transformative power of storytelling. 

Wrapping up the episode, Mel

Tune in next week for more stories of 'Distinction & Genius' from The Good Listening To Show 'Clearing'. If you would like to be my Guest too then you can find out HOW via the different 'series strands' at 'The Good Listening To Show' website.

Don't forget to SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW wherever you get your Podcasts :)

Thanks for listening!

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

Delighted to welcome the trailblazing changemaker Melanie Vaxevanakis from the Bristol based Mazi Project, on a mission to help marginalised 16-25 year olds gain better access to more nutritional food, food education and self-care - and in a nutshell, 'bring them to the Dinner Table', with all the mental health benefits that the power of sharing & community can bring.

From FUMING to ACTION! A story about how the Mazi Project  was born, inspired by Mel's noticing the appalling quality of free school lunch provision being provided to families at the beginning of the Pandemic, to now shipping 70 boxes a day of fresh fruit, vegetables and a recipe card to young people who wouldn't otherwise have access or have been able to afford it.

Now two-and-a-half years on, complete with Maisie Williams “Game of Thrones” Actress (who also grew up in Bristol) as Charity Ambassador on board, the Mazi Project is going from strength-to-strength.

With Maisie Williams on board, it’s not so much “Game of Thrones” as “Game of Nom-Noms”! (See what I’m doing there?!)

You can also Watcvh/Listen To Melanie's episode here:
https://vimeo.com/841229639

More about Melanie:

Pull up a chair and prepare to be inspired as we share a compelling conversation with the remarkable Melanie Vaxevanakis.  

Drawing on her Greek roots and Bristol surroundings, Melanie, founder of the Mazi Project, passionately discusses her journey from documenting stories through film to creating a powerful initiative that dishes out 70 fresh, nutritious recipes a week to young people in need. 

Melanie's story is one of anger, transformation, and ultimately, impact - as she took her frustrations with inadequate government-provided food packages and channelled it into a project that nourishes bodies and minds.

Finding solace in her 'Clearings' - the kitchen and the sea - Melanie reveals how these spaces nourish her creative energy and inspire her work with the Mazi Project. 

Beyond just providing sustenance, she's determined to build a community space that reduces social isolation, fosters confidence, and empowers every participant to feel extraordinary. 

While the Pandemic may have been the catalyst for Melanie's journey, it's also been a lesson in resilience and the importance of mental wellbeing, a lesson she's keen to share with her listeners.

From the power of protests to the significant moment the Colston statue was dropped into Bristol harbour, Melanie's insights shed light on the potency of collective action and the need for continued social justice work. 

We also dive into personal distractions, strategies for overcoming them, and explore the transformative power of storytelling. 

Wrapping up the episode, Mel

Tune in next week for more stories of 'Distinction & Genius' from The Good Listening To Show 'Clearing'. If you would like to be my Guest too then you can find out HOW via the different 'series strands' at 'The Good Listening To Show' website.

Don't forget to SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW wherever you get your Podcasts :)

Thanks for listening!

Chris Grimes:

Welcome to another episode of The Good Listening To Show your life and times with me, Chris Grimes, The storytelling show that features the clearing, where all good questions come to get asked and all good stories come to be told, And where all my guests have two things in common they're all creative individuals and all with an interesting story to tell. There are some lovely storytelling metaphors a clearing, a tree, a juicy storytelling exercise called 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, some alchemy, some gold, a cheeky bit of Shakespeare and a cake. So it's all to play for. So, yes, welcome to The Good Listening To Show your life and times with me, Chris Grimes, Are you sitting comfortably here? Then we shall begin. And there we have it. Welcome to The Good Listening To Show stories of distinction and genius.

Chris Grimes:

Today is a very, very special day in The Good Listening To Clearing because this is a founder story. This is all about the Marzi project, which is a Bristol based trying to put food on the map in a healthy way for young people. That's just a real layperson's way of describing it. This is Melanie, who has the most glorious Greek surname. I'm going to allow her to do it for us, so I don't cock it up on her behalf. So, Mel from Marzi project, tell us the full version of your surname.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

So it's Melanie Vax of Anagis, yeah, from.

Chris Grimes:

Athens, lovely, and you're based in Bristol and the Marzi project got going at the beginning of the pandemic in your very what angry or furious reaction to the quality of food boxes that were being given as free lunches to pupils. So, john, you just tell us the story behind the story. I turn a half years in now and you're doing phenomenal stuff here in Bristol. But just tell the story behind the story before we get going on curating you through the journey of this programme.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Yeah, so I actually started. It was a year into the pandemic, so it was in response to the preschool meal scandal that happened And I don't know if people remember, but it was basically where the government kind of gave out these food packages and hamburgers, crated at 25 pounds, to marginalised groups And the actual food hamburgers literally had half a carrot, half a pepper, white bread, extremely poor quality food, poor amounts of food, and it just sparked a lot of anger in me And I decided to start a fundraiser to buy food vouchers families in need. And then I kind of quickly decided to refocus onto vulnerable 16, 25 year olds. I was 24 at the time So I felt like that's where I got the most impact And generally I'd worked with vulnerable 16 to 25 year olds a lot throughout university and felt like they're very much a community that really falls through the cracks.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

A lot of people expect them to kind of either have things sorted or they're slightly ignored or create their own kind of stereotype around this community, because in reality they're at such an age defining age and just really needed a lot of nurturing and support and love. So I'm obsessed with food. I love it And the way I chef. Love to all my friends and my family is through food. So I decided to start the Massey project very much a middle of the night idea And we delivered our first recipe box on the 31st of March. And, yeah, it's just been going crazy ever since.

Chris Grimes:

And it was an epiphany, literally at one o'clock in the morning. On the Massey project website There's this wonderful image of the original scrawly notes that you woke up to school. It's a brilliant journal of the birth of a construct and a concept which is now. You know. The statistics are so beautiful. Now. This is back in January, when you had your two year anniversary. There were 10,300 single meals and 5,000 amazing meal kits sent to 70 people a day in Bristol, which is absolutely fantastic.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Yeah, 70 people a week.

Chris Grimes:

A week, that's the future, but yeah, exactly.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

I mean, it's been going from strength to strength, which has been amazing, and it's been a really cool, interesting, challenging experience so far.

Chris Grimes:

And each box is about, i suppose, a gifting fruit and a recipe card fresh fruit and vegetable and a recipe card to anyone who would otherwise not have access to it or be able to afford it.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Yeah, so it's basically really similar model to a hello fresh and mindful chef. So each week, or text the young people with up to 20 recipes. they'll pick up to three and then we'll pre-wail the ingredients A lot of the fresh ingredients are from local, small scale producers, especially during summer and then they'll cook it at home with like a recipe book that we've provided to them. And, yeah, so, and it's all about kind of choice and control and what they can eat, and it's which is and it's very different to like food bank box, because we don't actually depend on donated items. We are funded to buy the items so that we're giving the freshest, best ingredients to them. And, yeah, it's working with young people who have experienced the care system, asylum system, domestic violence or homelessness.

Chris Grimes:

And you were a documentary filmmaker before you were a epiphany.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Yeah, yeah, I used to work in documentary and like I used to be a researcher for Keo Films and BBC and stuff And I did my own storytelling videos, I guess, and photography, which I still do and I still love storytelling, I think is my biggest kind of part of me, I guess, which has been nice to kind of do that to Masi as well.

Chris Grimes:

And you've come to the right place, because this is a story, a storytelling construct, rich with and suffused with storytelling metaphor. At the very end, there's going to be a really deliberate invitation to tell us all about where to find out all about the Masi project. And finally, i can't get on without saying the beautiful thing about going from strength to strength as well. You've also managed to land the most wonderful ambassador in Masi Williams of Game of Thrones fame in order to be an ambassador, having grown up herself in Bristol and actually experienced what some of your young people have experienced herself personally.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, that was an amazing kind of achievement to happen so early on. Maisie's an absolutely incredible woman. Me and her have become quite close friends And she's been incredibly supportive in loads of different ways with Muzzy And yeah, we've got some really cool stuff coming up together, which is exciting And, yeah, very grateful to kind of be able to get that recognition.

Chris Grimes:

And I couldn't help but resist saying with Maisie Williams, it's not so much Game of Thrones as Game of Nom Noms, because you can have that for free, because it's all about the food Lovely. So let's get you on the open road, then, of a construct where we're going to find out what a clearing is for you in the Marzi project, and then we're going to arrive with a tree and you're clearing. Shake your tree to see which storytelling apples fall out, and then you'll have prepared your answers to the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 construct. Where, how do you like these apples?

Chris Grimes:

four things that have shaped you or the Marzi project, three things that inspire you, two things that never fail to grab your attention and borrow from the film up. That's a bit. Well, squirrels, you know what never fails to grab your attention. And then a quirky or unusual fact about you we couldn't possibly know until you tell us. Then there's going to be some alchemy, some gold a couple of random squirrels already mentioned a bit of cake and a cheeky bit of Shakespeare. So it's all to play for.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Exciting.

Chris Grimes:

So let's get you on the open road. What is where is a clearing for Melanie and the Marzi project? Where do you go to get a clutter free, inspirational and able to think?

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

I definitely say the kitchen is one of the clearings for me. I just it's kind of my chance to really switch off, put my music on and get off my phone, kind of have no interaction with the screen and just use my hands. Yeah, it's a real beautiful way for me to switch off. I really noticed that when I'm really stressed, that's kind of where I go. And also the sea. I grew up in Athens, really not far from the sea, and the sea is just like or just any kind of water. even the harborside and mistle is just very calming for me And I think my head goes insane sometimes and it's just like overwhelming. So yeah, both those spaces are a bit calming and inspirational.

Chris Grimes:

Lovely. So get a spatula bag in your hand and all is tickety boo.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Yeah, exactly.

Chris Grimes:

And I love the Athenian background in its inception And even the word Marzi means you can tell us. the word Marzi has a Greek, obviously.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Yeah, it means together Together is nice.

Chris Grimes:

And I love the idea. That's really about gifting young people with the idea of the community and power of the dinner table, bringing people back to the dinner table.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Absolutely. I'm such a big believer that I've kind of so much knowledge and memories and parts of me have been have come from the dinner table, and I think the dinner table is such a beautiful and humbling, equalizing way to kind of experience the world And I think it's just quite an easy way to make someone feel really special. And that's kind of what we do with Marzi is we try and reduce isolation, build confidence and make each of our young people and everyone that interacts with Marzi, whether they're staff or volunteers, to feel extraordinary.

Chris Grimes:

So here we are in the clearing of your kitchen, close to the sea, which I love, or it could be close to Bristol Harbour.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Beautiful view.

Chris Grimes:

Wonderful, and I'm now going to arrive with a tree to shake a tree. How'd you like these apples? as we now interpret four things that have shaped you.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

First of all, So yeah, it was quite a good, interesting question. actually I think I had, i guess I gave you on, you know, various hardships growing up that I think definitely shaped me and kind of my strength and like resilience. And then I used to play tennis at a semi pro level which I think taught me a lot about kind of being out there on a court on your own and dealing, you know, getting through the kind of mental battles of when you're not performing amazing or when you are performing and kind of how to navigate both of those things. And it taught me discipline and it taught me competitiveness and kind of that idea of you know striving for more and determination.

Chris Grimes:

And, by the way, that's very relatable. I absolutely. Tennis got me through the pandemic. Just the beauty of just tonguing something arms length to somebody 25, 30 feet away was just so cathartic. So, yeah, i like even more. Now you're into tennis as well.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

And I think finding my people at university was a massive thing. I think I really was able to very quickly kind of find my space, find people that I love, that love me and that kind of challenged me and encouraged me to become you know, to shine more and more, and I'm very grateful for all of those people And you know my parents and stuff like that. And then COVID I mean I feel like surely you must get that all the time that COVID shaped people. But it was the first time that I really suffered very obviously with my mental health. I think in COVID And before I used to be quite a. I used to kind of get anxious, i guess, but I'd never really recognize it as like a problem or felt like it was something that I was constantly suppress it well, or pushing under the carpet. But then in COVID it really hit me quite badly And I think that's kind of really helped me understand the importance of taking care of your mind and trying to find ways that you know what does that look like for me?

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Like how can I take care of my mind? What do I need to make sure I'm prioritizing my life, to make sure that I'm okay in my soul and stuff like that. And I think that's been kind of a challenge with starting Massey as well, because you know, sometimes when you have your own business or your own organization, it's not quite so easy to just say, oh, i need my time to step away, and you know burnout is real.

Chris Grimes:

So yeah, And extraordinary how out of adversity comes great creativity And, as I'm sure you will acknowledge, as I do with even the construct of this show if it wasn't for the pandemic I wouldn't have even had the idea, and I know that's exactly the case for you as well.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Absolutely exactly And literally like my whole life has changed And I feel like I found what I'm meant to be doing And I found my world. You know the kind of social justice with mix of the food world, and Bristol is so beautiful and full of the most amazing people that really, really give a fuck with ship size And I really, i love the fact that was a double whammy, that was a front and front.

Chris Grimes:

That was great, that's flat.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

It's very authentic, by the way.

Chris Grimes:

Please don't apologise.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Yeah, that really care about creating change, And I think that's yeah, it's been really awesome.

Chris Grimes:

And I love the fact you're able to apply it so powerfully and profoundly to your own demographic. Having just passed the 18 to 24 bit, then, you've now made it about 18 to 25 year olds and helping through food and community.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Yeah, exactly, i mean it's all about, you know, although I haven't experienced things necessarily that those young people have experienced, i think I couldn't help really a family because I don't have that. You know, i've obviously got my own family, but I'm not a marmore. So I think it's important that when you're trying to create change or when you're trying to help a community, that you're very much led by them and their lived experience and also are quite close to something that they can really relate to.

Chris Grimes:

And again, the fact that it means together is it makes complete sense in finding niche and finding your true sense of purpose, which I congratulate you for, because it's also really giving back and playing it forward and feeding both your own heart and others. Absolutely The analogies that keep on giving So we're still in the canopy shaking your tree. What else I think you've got one other thing that might have shaped you.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Oh, I thought I said four, but And you do the math.

Chris Grimes:

If ever I get confused, by the way, i've got a bell which is cash, you know before please which helps us get out of a rabbit hole. That's me not knowing my own structure there. So now, hashtag awkward, we're now on to three things that inspire you, then, in that case, Yeah, i know this was another great question.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

I would say, obviously people, people love my biggest inspiration but I think changemakers, people working in the community, the unsung heroes, i guess, or my friends inspire me, my parents inspire me And photography really inspires me. I think, as someone who kind of works a lot or loves photography and is in documentary photography, for me it kind of sparks an immersion, it sparks that kind of idea for need for change. I was a photo of the hamper that I saw that technically inspired this whole thing And Tell me a bit more about that.

Chris Grimes:

The photo of a hamper that grabbed your eye.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

They're the one for the preschool meal. That was the photos of the atrocious food that was provided. That really caught my eye, which is what kind of contributed to all this change.

Chris Grimes:

And was that just a photo or a physical experience of look at that hamper and look what's in it? I know you must have looked at one and compared and contrasted What else could be in there for £25 worth of value.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Yeah, yeah, i mean, it was a photo and then I did a comparison myself and they actually got in contact with quite a lot of families and stuff like that that was sending me photos themselves as well. But yeah, a lot of my young people really, really inspire me. Their strength is incredible, their passion to create change is amazing And I think anyone that wants to change and create a more positive world is just beautiful. Yes, and also, protests really inspire me. I've always, from university, i've always wanted to document lots of different protests. I've done lots of the Excel ones. I was there the moment Colson fell. I was at the Kill the Bill protest And I And I always leave like buzzing and feeling so like ready to kind of take on the world and united, because I think often through different media, through governments etc. You kind of see such a increasingly divided world and protest is such a You know, like within that moment you feel like you're part of something bigger and that kind of feeling is always really welcome.

Chris Grimes:

And of course in the history of Bristol that the downing of the Colston fast sorry statue was a really iconic moment. Yeah, it was huge, it's huge and in fact I run a comedy group called hashtag lol virus on Facebook and the meme that went in straight away was harboring a well-known criminal when he went. Into the, which is just so witty, profound and and clever as well.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Yeah, yeah, no, i mean, it was amazing. I was literally right at the fun. I got a photo and that's actually in vogue online And Could be banked for your quirky or unusual fact.

Chris Grimes:

But we'll see.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Yeah.

Chris Grimes:

Should go, you in vogue magazine. I couldn't help hearing that.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

It was amazing. I mean, god, when that kind of happened, it was really, really cool. But I mean, it was brilliant to capture such an incredible moment and to be there and, um, you know, it went worldwide, isn't it? It went global and And I think that's probably why I love Bristol, because it is such a beautiful place to um, for you know, our voices to be heard.

Chris Grimes:

Yes, and of course there's such a sort of rich steeped history which goes back, obviously, to the, you know, the, the Colston legacy and the fact that the, the city is you know, let's not avoid saying it It's steeped in the blood of slavery. So there's an awful lot of social injustice and justice to be put right in that case.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Yeah, absolutely.

Chris Grimes:

It's a good place to be a catalyst for change. Yeah for sure. Um, we could now be, unless any other inspiring things that are coming to mind.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

I think that's kind of everything that I said.

Chris Grimes:

Just checking that there's not anything left unsaid. So now we're on to two squirrels. You know what? this is borrowed from the film up, by the way, when the dog goes. Yeah so when I do this as a live theatre show, there's loads of squirrels that just come hurtling onto the stage as Colston Squirrels or distraction. So what would you say are your squirrels? What are your monsters of distraction that never felt to grab your attention?

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

um, um, i would say Process again, though every time there's a process I'm always there. Um, i feel like I always want to be a part of it and kind of any community action.

Chris Grimes:

um, I love that. if there's a protest going on, you want to be part of it. So there's a little bit of what we want. I'm not sure yet, but I'm here What we working it out, yeah.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Yeah, yeah, no, definitely I'm. I remember when I was to kill the bill once and All this stuff was going on like the kind of writing, and I think it was like 11 at night or something, and as I write I was just chilling with my friends. I was like, guys, i'm leaving, and I just went to shake back but, um, yeah, so it's protest and I mean that ties in with that community action. I think it's really um, it's a big part of it again and something that I always, you know, because both of those are a source of inspiration for me and the sources have been changed, so I think they're always something that I want to be a part of. um, and then what I mean.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

another thing that always goes my attention is just food food um and Yeah, the stories around food, the culture of food, um the different people cooking food and all the different pop-ups, and um the different kind of approaches to food and approaches to sourcing food.

Chris Grimes:

Um Yeah and you know, train as a chef initially, though, did you. I know that you're probably bringing in others to be the chef, but you obviously do cooking yourself, but more, it was more documentary filmmaking for you, wasn't it? Yeah, yeah, no, no no chef experience.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

I mean, i've worked in kitchens a lot in terms of, like you know, wasting all kind of some back back and ask for it, but, um, and I think I would be an absolutely terrible chef I am. I love taking my time, like whenever I house. I always get really stressed for the first half an hour while they're there and don't talk to anyone, and then, um, it's slowly. Like you know, the food will come when it comes, kind of thing. Um, but, um, yeah, no, i, i love cooking and I love, i just love food and like learning so much about it. Um, has been really, really cool and and chatting to so many different chefs and hearing their story and I, you know, i cooked a really wonderful meal for 20 people with past the head chef from the Lido and we cooked it together and it was a Greek meal and you know that was an incredible experience. Or, um, i've cooked, you know, for pegs from sunny stores, so, um, these are all iconic Bristol based venues.

Chris Grimes:

There's, there's boxy as well. All these people we have in common Yeah, amazing.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Josh Eggerton. Yeah, all of them, they're just all awesome.

Chris Grimes:

Wonderful. So I think that's your two squirrels of distraction. That's great. And now, what's the quirky or unusual fact About you, mel from the Muzzy project? we couldn't possibly know until you tell us.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Yeah, i know I try to think of something really cool. Well, something really like quirky, but I guess the thing that I thought of that I used to be top eight under 18 in the UK tennis circle. Just say that again.

Chris Grimes:

The top what.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Top eight under 18 in the UK tennis circle. I was going to ask you for a game of tennis but I'm probably not now, i'm probably terrible now anyway, it's as well. I'm a bit of a ping pong samurai. If I was to play at ping pong, you may lose, table tennis.

Chris Grimes:

Yeah, love table tennis, oh awkward.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Okay, i like to talk a big game, but normally everyone.

Chris Grimes:

I play ping pong becomes my ping pong. Um, i'm trying not to say the word bitch there, but I, you know my ping pong. Bitch is the expression At some point. We'll try it because we're quite local. Yeah, take me down in both and that'll all be fine.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

So that's a great quirky, i know your fact.

Chris Grimes:

And we had the cheeky chappy chaser of you also being in Vogue magazine. Yeah, Colston Hall was Colston statue. Yeah it was pulled down quite right too, okay. So now we've shaken your tree, hurrah, we stay in the clearing and next we talk about alchemy and gold. Please, so when you're at purpose and in flow, yeah, you absolutely. It may well be implicit in what we're talking about anyway but what are you absolutely happiest doing In what you're here to reveal to the world?

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Oh, Um, yeah, i mean just being at the forefront of change. I think you know not necessarily that I'm kind of there, but just being a part of seeing, being on the precipice of something big happening. You know, whether it's at a protest, whether it's kind of developing our campaign around how we're going to change national policy, around trying to use, like new, innovative system because the system is broken. I think that is something that just yeah constantly, but now I just can't stop wanting to be alive, kind of thing.

Chris Grimes:

I love that. That's a great answer, fantastic. And, by the way, if the Marzi project ever goes global, it will be Marzi pan global When it goes global. When it goes global Because indeed, obviously it's a, definitely, obviously a model that can then translate I mean, is it, is it seeding to other cities already as an idea?

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Yeah, i mean people have gone in touch. But that's definitely the kind of idea is that soon we once kind of we get some processes and some bits in place and we want to be able to start replicating the model and selling kind of, you know, giving it out as a blueprint across the city, across the UK, and then kind of become more leaders in voicing the issues of disadvantaged 16, 25 year olds and through the kind of food narrative, i guess, globally.

Chris Grimes:

Yes, lovely, wonderful answer to the alchemy and gold. And now I'm going to award you with a cake, please, hurrah. So, obviously, as you like cooking, do you like cake, melanie, and if so, what type would you like?

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

metaphorically, I love cake, wait. so what type would I like?

Chris Grimes:

metaphorically Like so I'm going to unpack. It's a final storytelling metaphor where it's a multi layered cake and there are other analogies to come out of it. But first of all we'll just talk about cake. I mean obviously the clava, which everybody knows is the wonderful Greek stuff. It doesn't have to be that that's too stereotyped, i know, but what's your favorite type of cake?

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

It would probably be my mom's birthday cake that you always make to me, which is like a chocolate sponge with really nice cream and lots of raspberries and plums and shaved dark chocolate. This is delish. It looks like that.

Chris Grimes:

Looks like what I've got. This, apparently, is a dog's toy, but it's the mode that is. That is indeed that's what we need. So now you get to put a cherry on your cake alongside your raspberries. And this is the final series of storytelling metaphors whereby now, if you could tell me a favorite inspirational quote that's always given you sucker and pulled you towards your future.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

If you don't like the system changes system. I think that's definitely my favorite one. I was actually Andy Cato from Kuvan Mada that said it on Sunday when they did a talk at Glasto, so that was, yeah. I just thought that was just like such a good, easy kind of summary of everything I believe in.

Chris Grimes:

Did you just say when I just gave a talk at Glasto. Is that what you just said?

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Yeah, I was on the panel at Glasto.

Chris Grimes:

Just tell us a bit more about that.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Yeah, so I got invited to speak on the team canteen panel about RIT. Well, so it's with Andy Cato from Kuvan Mada, which is amazing because I'm a really big fan and he does some incredible work in the agricultural industry, next to Josh Egleton, who's a really good friend, and and then Isaac, who does Casino Cappes, and Ruby Tando, an amazing chef. So, yeah, it was really really cool. I was on the Sunday. There were quite a few people listening that came to watch, gave me a free ticket to Glastonbury, which was amazing. So, yeah, it was a bit of a I made it kind of moment.

Chris Grimes:

Congratulations And I couldn't help hearing that and thank you for telling us a bit more. That was lovely. And now what's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Best piece of advice I've ever been given. I think it's just to, like you know, go big, like nothing is kind of too big. You can achieve anything you want if you really want to kind of thing. And I genuinely do believe that. I believe I can achieve anything I want In terms of my career and stuff like that in my life, which is really, you know, it's a nice feeling and they think it kind of teaches me a lot about resilience and using my initiative and pushes me to just to get, keep going and to keep getting bigger and bigger and whatever way that may mean.

Chris Grimes:

And it links beautifully, is that lovely quote of if you believe you can or believe you can't, you're probably right. So it's.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Yeah, I know that quote. That's a good one.

Chris Grimes:

It's a bit like self advocacy. I give myself permission and just say your quote again. Go big, was it? it was a little bit more subtle.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Just don't be afraid to go big.

Chris Grimes:

Lovely quote, lovely. Now what notes help or advice might you profit to a younger version of yourself?

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Who, probably to say that, don't worry if you're not going a million miles an hour, like to relax and chill the fuck out a little bit? Yeah, definitely. I think I'm constantly feeling like I have to be doing the next big thing and kind of not celebrating enough the moment or like an achievement, and I think I'm noticing even now that that's getting quite. It gets tiring and it gets boring And I think it's just important to celebrate the moment that you're in and not always worry about, kind of the next big thing.

Chris Grimes:

By the way, i've just looked something up that links so beautifully to something I experienced yesterday, which is called lag, which is likelihood of absent gains. You know when you've done something. Yeah come on, and then the world doesn't seem to care. The bigger reveal, and then there's a lack of likelihood of absent gains. So we've got to be patient.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Yes, exactly.

Chris Grimes:

This isn't me telling you that I absolutely need to invert that, and I experienced the same thing.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Yeah, nice. Yeah, i think a lot of people do, especially maybe creative people, because your mind is constantly going. But yeah, definitely just to just relax, it's going to be okay.

Chris Grimes:

And, as you said, chilby, which is great. Okay, we're ramping up to a bit of Shakespeare in a moment, but just before we get there, and I'll explain, this is, by the way, this is a really authentic prop. This is the actual I think you'll find complete works of Shakespeare that I had at drama school, so this is a very authentic prop. When I did came up with this idea, i found it back in the loft and I thought this is, this is my own personal one. So we're going to talk about legacy shortly, in a way explain, but just before we get there, this is the past, the golden bat moment, please. So who in your network do you think would most enjoy being given a damn good listening to in this construct?

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

So I was thinking about this and I think it will be my mentor, alison, who runs a PR agency but is genuinely one of the most incredible women I've ever met. She's has a really amazing story herself, has been really inspiring and helpful towards me and genuinely really cares about helping the world and creating ethical business. And she, yeah, she's she's one of the key people in that have helped me and Massey become where we are, where we are, get to where we are now. So, yeah, she's wicked.

Chris Grimes:

And Alison. What's her second name, please?

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

We are W E I R.

Chris Grimes:

Alison we are and your mission, should you, to accept it. By the way, thank you so much for unleashing your mentor, rather than any old random map It. This sounds like a very, very important person, so it'll be my absolute pleasure to speak to Alison. We're as well, thank you. So that was past the golden button and now easy cash in number four, please, inspired by Shakespeare and all the worlds of stage and all the men and women, merely players, each man, woman, in their time, have seven entrances, that time being seven ages. How, when all is said and done, mel, would you most like to be remembered?

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

as a change maker.

Chris Grimes:

I reckon that's a given. You can have that for free. A changemaker, go you. Yeah, where can we find out all about you and the awesome Marzi project on the Hinterweb please?

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

So yeah, wwwthemaziprojectcom. Or cross socials at the Marzi project. So it's wwwthemaziprojectcom, and yeah, and then you can find me on LinkedIn, or yeah, linkedin, melanie Baxavanaki.

Chris Grimes:

Baxavanaki. Yes, bala, you're the second Greek person in a week that I've had on the programme. Oh amazing, somebody called Stella Taliadoris and I know you don't know her because it's a bit like oh, you're from Greece, do you know, stella? Yeah, i'm not doing that joke because you know the other day, oh, you're from England, do you know? Yes, so it just so happens that I've had a bit of a Greek week.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Amazing Great.

Chris Grimes:

Wonderful And yes, and Stella is an angelic rakey practitioner Rakey.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Interesting.

Chris Grimes:

Yes, oh, and, by the way, you were passed the golden baton by the wonderful Lee Millard, who is our gym instructor.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Please, Yeah, legend.

Chris Grimes:

He is a legend. So just big shout out to Lee there as well. Which? is great Anything else you'd like to say or plug whilst you're here.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

We have a big crowdfunding going on at the moment to buy a van and to help us double the amount of meal kits that we can send out. So if you know anyone that can help donate, please do. We're looking for big kind of corporate donations and sharing, et cetera.

Chris Grimes:

And I love the fact you've got the word van in your surname. You've really thought that through.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Yeah, yeah.

Chris Grimes:

Thanks a lot. See what I did there. I'm just giving you hooks for getting the van.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

We need to raise £30,000, but over the side of the way there, I mean need some big corporate donations and sharing on crowdfundedcouk Be the recipe number four change, or on our website, on our socials all the links are there And it's to help us double the amount of young people we support and deliver our amazing meal kits to. So you would be directly tackling food poverty by donating.

Chris Grimes:

Lovely And, as we know, the Marseille Project is about making sure that 70 boxes of fresh fruit and vegetable and a recipe card go out to young people every day or every week.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Every week.

Chris Grimes:

Every week Otherwise wouldn't be able to afford it and helping to educate them about health, nutrition And it's all about community through food. And bring any disadvantage young people back to the dinner table, metaphorically, literally. As this has been your moment in the Good Listening to Show Melanie stories of distinction and genius, is there anything else you'd like to say?

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

No, i think that's good And I just really appreciate you having on the show. It's such an interesting journey. So yeah, no, it's really good. And thank you for making me think about stuff about you know. they've brought me back to the present, i guess.

Chris Grimes:

Wonderful, and keep on keeping on because you're awesome. Thank you, wonderful, and I will keep a close eye on you because I'm so close to North Street. If you don't mind, i'll call by and say hello and shake your by the hand.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Yeah, that'd be wicked.

Chris Grimes:

Wonderful. So thank you so much, ladies and gentlemen. Also thank you for watching here on LinkedIn as well. You've been listening to Melanie and from the Marseille Project, and tune in next time. And thank you for watching here on LinkedIn, too, for more stories from the clearing. And good night.

Chris Grimes:

You've been listening to the Good Listening to Show here on UK Health Radio with me, chris Grimes Oh, it's my son. If you've enjoyed the show, then please do tune in next week to listen to more stories from the clearing. If you'd like to connect with me on LinkedIn, then please do so. There's also a dedicated Facebook group for the show, too. You can contact me about the programme or if you'd be interested in experiencing some personal impact coaching with me. Care of my level up your impact programme. That's chrisatsecondcurveuk On Twitter and Instagram. It's at that, chrisgrimes. So until next time for me, chris Grimes, from UK Health Radio, and from Stan to your good health and goodbye. So, melanie from the Marseille Project, you've just told us about a very important You Need a New Van crowdfunding thing. Over to you.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Yeah, so we're running a crowd funder. We need to raise £30,000. We're over a third of the way there and we need some big corporate donations and sharing, and you can find the crowd funder on crowdfunderscouk Be the recipe number four change or on our website, on our socials all the links are there and it's to help us double the amount of young people we support and deliver our amazing meal kits too, so you would be directly tackling food poverty by donating.

Chris Grimes:

Lovely and, as we know, the Marseille Project is about making sure that 70 boxes of fresh fruit and vegetable and a recipe card go out to young people every day or every week.

Melanie Vaxevanakis:

Every week.

Chris Grimes:

Every week Otherwise wouldn't be able to afford it and helping to educate them about health, nutrition, and it's all about community through food and bringing these disadvantaged young people to the dinner table, metaphorically, literally. Thank you so much and thank you for being here Good night.

The Marzi Project
Finding Clearings and Shaping Change
Inspiration From Protests and Food
Marzi Project