AwareNow: Issue 27: The Earth Edition

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AWARENOW

ISSUE 27

T H E AWA R E N E S S T I E S ™ O F F I C I A L M A G A Z I N E F O R C A U S E S

LAURA ‘CONSCIOUS ZABOCOUTURE’ EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

PATRICK BARDSLEY

THE INNOVATION OF INCLUSION

KITO MBIANGO DISSOLVE THE EGO

TAL ANDERSON

WHY AWARENESS IS NOT ENOUGH

KARI BLISS

SELECTING SUSTAINABILITY

ERIC RITZ

GLOBAL INTERITANCE

JON ROSE

WAVES FOR WATER

RAIN PHOENIX DO NO HARM

DARYN KUIPERS

BOXED WATER IS BETTER

THE EARTH EDITION T H E

W O R L D

I N S I D E

&

O U T



THE EARTH EDITION

ON THE COVER:

LAURA ZABO

AwareNow™ is a monthly publication produced by Awareness Ties™ in partnership with Issuu™. Awareness Ties™ is the ‘Official Symbol of Support for Causes’. Our mission is to support causes by elevating awareness and providing sustainable resources for positive social impact. Through our AwareNow Magazine, Podcast & Talk Show, we raise awareness for causes and support for nonprofits one story at a time.

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MY RELATIONSHIP WITH SCRIPTS

82

UNPLUGGED

128 WHEN YOU GROW UP

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UNBROKEN

86

BOXED WATER IS BETTER

132 BAZIQUE

16

CONSCIOUS COUTURE

92

THE 3 A’S OF APRIL

136 THE BURDEN OF ABUSE

24

WAVES FOR WATER

94

A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE

140 FAUX PANACEA

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GLOBAL INHERITANCE

98

SELECTING SUSTAINABILITY

144 THE HEALING GARDEN

44

LITTLE COCO SPEAKS

102 PRESERVATION

148 CREATOR’S CALLING (LESSON 14)

50

THE SEVEN TEACHINGS

108 DO NO HARM

152 MEET ELIJAH

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DISSOLVE THE EGO

112 BEACHED

156 TIRELESS

62

EVAC ASAP

116 AT SEA (PART 3)

66

CROSSROADS

120 FEARLESSLY DIFFERENT

70

THE INNOVATION OF INCLUSION

122 CHILDREN’S BOOK DAY

76

THE ART OF TRASH

126 OUR EARTH

TAL ANDERSON

GUSTAVO VERA LAURA ZABO JON ROSE

ERIC RITZ/EDDIE DONALDSON COCO DE BRUYCKER

PAUL S. ROGERS DARYN KUIPERS TAL ANDERSON

PAUL S. ROGERS KARI BLISS

LES STROUD/TODD BROWN

LILLY DAYCHIEF KITO MBIANGO

RAIN PHOENIX

BURT KEMPNER

ARA/TANITH HARDING

LEX GILLETTE

NICK LADD/TANITH HARDING AALIA LANIUS

ANA GABRIEL MANN SCOT MOON/SONJA MONTIEL CHIEF OGIMAA IMAGINE LA

LAURA ZABO

THI NGUYEN

LAURA SHARPE

MICKEY ROWE

PATRICK BARDSLEY

GABRIELLE SCHUERGER

LORI BUTIERRIES

LUKE GIALANELLA

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The earth is a fine place and worth fighting for. - Ernest Hemingway


To course correct humanity, we need to be willing to be wrong… I Was Wrong w. baer

We need to to face the ‘inconvenient truths’, acknowledging what we got wrong so that we can get it right. There’s time for a correction. It’s needed and required. Let’s begin with awareness then shift to action. There we’ll find traction in finding a footing that’s sustainable and maintainable. Read and share these stories. Take what you need for yourself to grow. Give to others what they need to know. It all start with one, and then one become many. Together we rise.

ALLIÉ McGUIRE Editor In Chief & Co-Founder of Awareness Ties Allié is a Taurus. She started her career in performance poetry, then switched gears to wine where she made a name for herself as an online wine personality and content producer. She then focused on content production under her own label The Allié Way™ before marrying the love of her life (Jack) and switching gears yet again to a pursue a higher calling to raise awareness and funds for causes with Awareness Ties™.

JACK McGUIRE Production Manager & Co-Founder of Awareness Ties Jack is a Gemini. He got his start in the Navy before his acting and modeling career. Jack then got into hospitality, focusing on excellence in service and efficiency in operations and management. After establishing himself with years of experience in the F&B industry, he sought to establish something different… something that would allow him to serve others in a greater way. With his wife (Allié), Awareness Ties™ was born. DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in AwareNow are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Awareness Ties. Any content provided by our columnists or interviewees is of their opinion and not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, political group, organization, company, or individual. In fact, its intent is not to vilify anyone or anything. Its intent is to make you think. www.IamAwareNow.com @AWARENESSTIES @AWARENESSTIES @AWARENESSTIES 5

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I didn’t speak until I was almost 4 years old… TAL ANDERSON

ACTRESS, MODEL, FILM EDITOR & AWARENESS TIES OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR FOR DISABILITY AWARENESS 6

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PERSONAL STORY BY TAL ANDERSON

MY RELATIONSHIP WITH SCRIPTS AUTISM BEHIND THE MASK

I didn’t speak at all until I was almost four years old. Before that my parents made sure I could communicate by learning to sign key words so I could request the things I wanted, and later I used picture cards to string together short sentences. I don’t remember this, but I’ve seen the home movies. I had choices based on the words I knew and the cards that were printed, but I had to work within those limits to communicate. When I started speaking, I started to read at the same time. I could speak words, but my ability to converse was almost non-existent. I could respond or request things but I had to be prompted with what my mom called “scripts.” My scripts at that young age were things I would say in specific circumstances to manage the world around me somewhat, even though everything was so foreign to me. And it helped; I didn’t understand why at the time, but those scripts helped me.

On a playground with other kids I knew to approach them, or if I was approached, to say hello and introduce myself, and then compliment them. My go-to compliment was “I like your shirt,” and sometimes, twenty years later, I find myself saying the same phrase…and I remember.

I’m autistic. I also have ADHD and an auditory processing disorder. This makes holding conversations, answering questions in an interview, etc, all very challenging for me. As a teenager, acting helped me with this, and when I started taking classes I realized that the scripts I was working with were written as responses to situations and interactions that I had never experienced.

As I started to work with more and more scripts, I began to script my own responses to situations and interactions. Inside my head, I would store them in a folder marked with the character I had to play. So, there was a “school” version of me, and a “party” version of me and a “work” version of me. I would walk in and out of these “characters” like I was walking through a door to another room, and I’d be wearing them like another skin. This is how I got through my teenage years. This is how I made it through a day of school, or a family holiday. I was an adult when I found out that this is actually called “masking,” and it’s done by a lot of autistics to fit in or to get by in the neurotypical world.

For me, though, I didn’t do it because I felt like I wanted to be like everyone else or to hide that I was different. I actually couldn’t come up with the words to express what I wanted to say in social situations. It was like my brain worked faster than my mouth, so I needed the words to already be in my brain. It was acting; once I started doing it seriously, I learned to use it to help me with my communication challenges and then fell in love with the process.

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I would walk in and out of these ‘characters’ like I was walking through a door to another room. TAL ANDERSON

ACTRESS, MODEL, FILM EDITOR & AWARENESS TIES OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR FOR DISABILITY AWARENESS 8

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AwareNow Podcast

MY RELATIONSHIP WITH SCRIPTS

Written and Narrated by Tal Anderson

https://awarenow.us/podcast/scripts

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“It was like my brain worked faster than my mouth, so I needed the words to already be in my brain.” I still work with scripts every day, sometimes to help me with communication in stressful situations, but also in my work as an actor. In life, when I know that I will be in a situation where a lot of questions will be asked, I prepare in advance by trying to predict what the conversation may look like. For my work as an actor, breaking down a script, making choices, and memorizing lines has become second nature to me.

I haven’t thought about the importance of scripts to who I am and who I have become before now, but I know that they have been constantly present, and my relationship with them continues to be one of the most important in my life. ∎

TAL ANDERSON

www.awarenessties.us/tal-anderson

"I’m autistic, and for me that means that my brain functions differently than others. It also means that sometimes I need more time to process, and my responses to situations can be slow, or unexpected. Having a disability is just part of who I am… but I’m just like everyone else, except that sometimes I need help or accommodations to do things that other people can do without them.”

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The biggest challenge that I found was finding my place in this world… GUSTAVO VERA

SHOE DESIGNER, ARCHITECT & WRITER 10 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH GUSTAVO VERA

UNBROKEN

BRITTLE BONES BUT UNBREAKABLE SPIRIT Gustavo ‘Gusper’ Vera is from a small city in Ecuador. He was born with a congenital disease called Osteogenesis Imperfecta – a very rare condition also known as ‘glass bones disease’. Gustavo is a talented illustrator, designer, architect and writer that is all heart with a style as smooth as glass and a story worth raising your glass to. ALLIÉ: Being a kid can be hard. Being a kid with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, I imagine, is even harder. Gustavo, please share what it was like growing up as a kid with this disease.

GUSTAVO: It's a bit contradictory because many people might think that my childhood was very hard, and of course it was due to the fractures in my bones and the lack of money in my home, but I think I was the luckiest child in the world. Ecuador is a country where all children want to be soccer players. Of course, I was one of them, but I realized that I couldn't. So I decided to fill myself with other things such as art, comics, hip hop culture and design... all those things made me one more within the group. They didn't look at me like ‘the weird kid’. They looked at me like the kid who knew a lot of things. Thank God I never suffered from discrimination in my childhood. I am aware of how hard life is when there is discrimination.

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11 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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I want to build things that become timeless. GUSTAVO VERA

SHOE DESIGNER, ARCHITECT & WRITER 12 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


“My preseason was all those years in bed, drawing shoes and being the boy who knew things.” ALLIÉ: As an adult, what challenges do you face due to your rare condition?

GUSTAVO: The biggest challenge I found was finding my place in this world… finding an activity in which I can put my skills into practice while being happy and helping others. I wanted to be a game changer. People said that I couldn't study Architecture. They told me it was for someone who could be on a construction site, and that could be dangerous for me. I understood their point of view, but I decided to accept the challenge. The same happened with footwear design. They said in this country no one can live off that. But I remember hearing Eric Thomas saying a phrase from Emmitt Smith, "All men are created equal, but some work harder in preseason." My preseason was all those years in bed, drawing shoes and being the boy who knew things.

ALLIÉ: Some are excellent at wine pairings. You, Gustavo, excel at ‘Puma Pairings’. With your artwork, you’ve paired Puma’s with architecture in your ‘Masters of Architecture’ collection. You’ve even paired them with Transformers in your ‘Forever Faster’ concept. Of all the sneaker pairings you’ve done, which is your favorite? And what is it about Puma that you love so much?

GUSTAVO: I have always been in love with PUMA. I know what it represents as part of the culture here in Ecuador. I remember when I was a kid watching videos of Pelé and Maradona wearing PUMA. Then I discovered that it is something much bigger, especially because of everything that PUMA represents within hip-hop culture. From the ‘Masters of Architecture’ collection, my favorite model is the Solomon Guggenheim Museum because it is a model that goes back to the roots. Here the hype does not matter. This is about knowledge, as we return to the classic rubber soles and the upper made of denim and leather, while the heel and the logo are made of quilted cloth. Just by looking at them you will find the architecture in it. When I see these sneakers I think, “If I had to save only one pair to go around New York City, it would definitely be this one.” I think that in a world where everyone is buying things full of hype, but with little content, this shoe gets to tell a story. It's like me, a story teller.

ALLIÉ: You are a phenomenal illustrator and designer. Sneakers are just part of your interest when it comes to art. Let’s switch gears from designing footwear to designing buildings. What drew you to architecture?

GUSTAVO: The love for Architecture comes hand in hand with my condition, my parents always took me to the doctor in other cities, and we always used to see the houses and say which one was the most beautiful or which one needed a change. It was then that I understood a house is not only an object, a house is the place where families love each other, where we laugh and where we cry together. So when it came time to decide on a career, I said, "I want to build things that become timeless". I am passionate about studying how cities work, “I believe that cities are books that we read with our feet,” as Quintin Cabrera said.

13 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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AwareNow Podcast

UNBROKEN

Exclusive Interview with Gustavo Vera

https://awarenow.us/podcast/unbroken

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“Osteogenesis Imperfecta is not the end, it is just a few strokes of another color in our lives, but there are more colors and we are the artists.” ALLIÉ: While talented in the visual arts, your gifts extend to verbal arts. You have a way with words. With regard to your writing, tell us about El Mundo de Dante. What inspired you to write this children’s story about an Autistic boy named Dante?

GUSTAVO: The World of Dante is one of the most beautiful and sensitive parts of my life, because Dante is not just a character, Dante is a real boy, with a real condition that occupies a very special place in my life. The inspiration to write a children's story about a boy with autism came one day while I saw him playing with his toys and I called him. Even though he wasn't looking at me, I knew he understood me, and I thought, "You're beautiful because it’s when you don't look at me that you pay more attention." With that, I began to build the character of a child who lived alone in a world full of colors and animals, but without humans. While he travels, he finds cities where he learns all the good things that our children should learn in cities with names like Love, Compassion, Respect and Faith. And then I decided to make it even more special by making the story in verse, as a tribute to my love of poetry.

ALLIÉ: Virgil Abloh, the barrier-breaking Black designer, was your inspiration, teacher and role model in so many ways. For those who look up to you as an inspiration and as a role model, Gustavo, what barriers do you want to break with your work and career to empower others?

GUSTAVO: I believe the main barrier that we must break down is ignorance. Ignorance itself is not bad. The bad thing is when we do nothing to get out of it. We become one more copy of the system. I don't know if I'm a role model, but if there is something I can say to someone who is looking for words to inspire them, it is BE STRONG AND BE BRAVE because God is with you. Effort beats talent when talent doesn't work hard. And for all the people with my condition, I want to tell you that we are not alone. Osteogenesis Imperfecta is not the end, it is just a few strokes of another color in our lives, but there are more colors and we are the artists. ∎

Connect with Gustavo and follow his story and work on Instagram: @gustav.dsgn

14 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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You will never find the answers by only thinking and not doing. LAURA ZABO

UPCYCLING ARTIST & ENTREPRENEUR 16 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH LAURA ZABO

CONSCIOUS COUTURE

AN ARTISTIC ENTREPRENEUR OF SUSTAINABLE STYLE Even as a child, Laura loved manifesting her ideas and bringing them to life. An entrepreneur since the age of 8 when she began selling newspapers, in elementary school Laura created and sold bead jewelry. As an adult, her career as an upcycling artist began 7 years ago with the introduction of her own line of eco-friendly accessories crafted from used bicycle tires. Bringing sustainable style to a whole new level, her eclectic collections are both sensual and sensible. ALLIÉ: Some find inspiration from prolific quotes, powerful speeches or personal heroes. You, Laura, found inspiration in a pair of sandals. Please share the story of the moment in Tanzania that changed your life.

LAURA: I moved to England in 2013 but after 2 years, I was not really happy, living with the grey and cold days, the crazy prices… So, I just decided to move to Africa and help my friend who owned a low cost campground near Lake Manyara. One day I was just walking at the local Maasai market when I found some brightly painted car tyre sandals. They were so pretty. While I stared at them, I thought to myself, “Hey, this is what I want to do in my life.” So I went back to the campground, started to find information about tyre recycling and upcycling. I contacted the main Hungarian company who collects car tyres. In 2 days I had my brand name, bought my domain, changed the date of my flight back to Hungary. The next day after my arrival I started to collect bike tyres and organize everything. I was

CONSCIOUS COUTURE EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH LAURA ZABO

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…a perfect fusion of self expression, eco-consciousness, creativity, independence and entrepreneurship. LAURA ZABO

UPCYCLING ARTIST & ENTREPRENEUR 18 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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“What we need is creativity, consciousness, and to learn to think outside of the box.” LAURA: (continued) so excited! I just couldn't stop thinking about it. I was crafting from morning to evening, creating belts for friends. When I realized that everyone loved the idea, I started to sell at markets, festivals. I was featured in the Hungarian Forbes magazine and few other newspapers. All of this in just 6 month. I moved back to England and continued to collect, upcycle, and sell my pieces.

ALLIÉ: 3 billion tires fill landfills every year. When you first started, you kept 5,000 tires out of landfills by accepting a donation of the rejected tires from Schwalbe, a German tire manufacturer. What became of these 5,000 tires?

LAURA: This is funny story, I was not expecting to get 5,000 tyres… When the truck showed up, we were shocked. At that time, I had a business partner, and he had quite a large empty space. So, we just filled it with tyres. Those tyres became mainly belts, guitar straps, many dog leads and collars, home decorations… At that time I was creating many different things from clothing to mirror frames. I used those tyres for probably 3-4 years.

ALLIÉ: Necklaces, chokers, earrings, bracelets, belts and harnesses. Of all the accessories you make, is there a personal category you enjoy making most? And of all the original pieces you’ve created, if you had to select just one as your ‘masterpiece’, what was it?

LAURA: I love to make jewelry most, because it’s a creative process. During this project, I created some exclusive belts, with designer buckles, this was really a lot of fun. But I love jewelry so much. The painted pieces are quite unique, I haven’t seen pieces like mine on the market, so this is my signature style.

ALLIÉ: There are a number of savvy entrepreneurs creating eco-friendly products, but what you've created, Laura, is more than a product. It’s a passion and purpose that’s become a lifestyle. You’re created a new lens to look through, where sustainability is seen as sexy. How are you harnessing your craft to reframe and reimagine sustainable style?

LAURA: My goal is to prove that we can create anything by reusing existing materials, or waste. It doesn't matter what you need, how unique, exclusive, we can create it from repurposed materials. I don't say that it always has to be waste, but can be off-cut or deadstock. I love sustainable brands, but I think we don’t need to produce more materials, more fabrics, the planet is full of products. What we need is creativity, consciousness, and to learn to think outside of the box.

Now that sustainable fashion is in the spotlight, new products, new materials are made and most of them are not even ethically made. But it’s a great selling point and people believe anything. Just imagine when H&M or any other brand has one piece and suddenly they promote themself as a sustainable brand. After all the damages they caused, all the pollution, plastic, they come up with one new item and people applaud.

19 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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This is my signature style. LAURA ZABO

UPCYCLING ARTIST & ENTREPRENEUR 20 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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ALLIÉ: Beyond sustaining yourself with your career, your desire is to inspire and sustain others through classes and consulting so that they may have careers of their own in sustainable fashion. In this way, beyond the product you provide, it’s the practice… It’s the craft you want to cultivate. Why is this so important to you?

LAURA: I think that upcycling is a perfect fusion of self expression, eco-consciousness, creativity, independence and entrepreneurship. Let’s see it from the mental side. It boosts your creativity, improves your self confidence, reduces stress, and gives you a purpose in life. You can express yourself, you can create your own world, and you can decide how far you go with your skills. So, long story short it gives you freedom.

From the financial side, it’s a business without investment. To start, you need scissors, and just a few more things. From nothing, you can start earning in days lets say £40 - £50. I will share an example: You learn to make eyecatching earrings. You make 3-4 pairs. While you wear them, people will ask you and buy from you. You go to the local bike shop and ask for an inner tube. They give it to you for free. That inner tube suddenly has a value of £30 £200 depending on what you make out of it.

I was a child when I started to earn money. I think teaching the next generation to be independent and learning to earn money should be one a major thing. It helps them to start their life of independence. It gives them the boost they need to feel confident in society. The school system teaches so much, but they don’t teach some of the most important things… how to be skillful, how to be handy, how to resolve problems, and how to be flexible when changes happen in life. That is totally missing. Upcycling can be a key for young people and anyone who wants to build something, without taking the risk of investing. It's quick. It’s easy.

By teaching my techniques, I can help others build an upcycling lifestyle. I want to share all the mistakes I’ve made so others can grow quicker and easier.

UPCYCLED TYRE RUBBER FASHION ACCESSORIES BY LAURA ZABO

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21 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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You will never find the answers by only thinking and not doing. LAURA ZABO

UPCYCLING ARTIST & ENTREPRENEUR 22 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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AwareNow Podcast

CONSCIOUS COUTURE

Exclusive Interview with Laura Zabo

https://awarenow.us/podcast/conscious-couture

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“I would say just go for it.” ALLIÉ: Oftentimes, less is so much more. Here enters your newest line – ‘Tireless’. Designed to raise awareness for the needed protection and preservation of our environment, tires are repurposed for fashion as opposed to being relegated to a landfill. In this issue of AwareNow, ‘The Earth Edition’, you unveil your latest eco-friendly collection of 9 original pieces paired with personalities of 9 Awareness Ties Official Ambassadors. What do you love most about this project?

LAURA: Usually I craft pieces that I like or ones that I can sell easily. This time I tried to craft pieces for people I don’t even know, so I was browsing the net, watching their interviews, talks, images, what they wear, how they talk, favourite colours, shapes, their accessories, the size of their accessories. Usually I make belts that are easy to sell, and at a less expensive price range. But the belts that I made for the ambassadors, are exclusive belts. Every buckle is carefully selected from a designer buckle boutique, and they are absolutely high end. And I loved every piece of jewelry. Each is so pretty and different. The best part was that I created pieces that I never have before.

ALLIÉ: You’ve done and are doing something that’s not been done before. For others who are wanting but waiting to pursue a mission of their own that’s never been done, what advice do you have?

LAURA: I would say just go for it. Start small. Try your ideas, next to your job. Create a daily rhythm, and see how it goes. If you have questions, ask the right people. But don’t stop by just simply thinking, waiting for a good moment, wondering, and planning. You will never find the answers by only thinking and not doing. We live in an age when anything is possible, so many hobbies, opportunities, and still many are unhappy living a boring life doing routine things and watching tv. Use your time to develop your skills, mindset, and lifestyle. Every day do something to create a better life. ∎

Learn more about Laura and her work: www.laurazabo.com

23 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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I already had the idea… the universe validated it with an earthquake. JON ROSE

FOUNDER OF WAVES FOR WATER Photo Provided by: Waves For Water 24 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH JON ROSE

WAVES FOR WATER

DO WHAT YOU LOVE AND HELP ALONG THE WAY In 2009, for surfer Jon Rose, what started as a journey about surfing became a mission about service. While looking for perfect waves in Indonesia, he found his calling in Sumatra. His life of surfing would become a legacy of service with Waves For Water. ALLIÉ: A surfer since the age of nine, the waves have called you all your life. In 2009 as a former pro surfer, retired at the age of 31, you found a new calling, Jon. Please share the story in Sumatra where Waves For Water began.

JON: It was really a twist of fate, more than anything. It didn't really begin in Sumatra because I already had the idea. I had put the intention into the universe, and then the universe validated it with an earthquake <laugh>. I'll back up. Let me explain…

I was coming out of a surfing career feeling a bit lost. I was in a failing marriage. There was just a lot of transition going on, and I had never really thought about what I was going do after my surf career. I think a lot of athletes have that. I felt resourceful. I felt conscious. I felt all those things, but at the same time, I was having an identity crisis. I didn't know what I was without that career. And so I had this idea to create this pet project, an organization. At that time, I didn’t even know what a 501c3 was, and I didn't really think about doing that — definitely not as a full-time job. I definitely didn't have big goals or aspirations for it. It was more just… Look, I've been to Indonesia a lot throughout my surfing career, same with South America, South Africa and places like that while on tour. I'd seen the needs. I thought it would be cool to go back to help those places and to surf. So, it was really selfishly motivated in the beginning. It

WAVES FOR WATER EXCLUSTIVE INTERVIEW WITH JON ROSE

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I wasn’t an expert in aid work, development work or anything like that. But I was an expert at moving through the world. JON ROSE

FOUNDER OF WAVES FOR WATER Photo Provided by: Waves For Water 26 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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JON: (continued) was super genuine and wanting to help, but it was selfishly motivated in the sense that it was going to be this vehicle to go back to these places I loved and surf. Whatever my next chapter was, I wanted to stay connected to that and legitimately help them while we were there. It was just an idea, and I knew that I could get the surfing community around it. I knew I had some sway in that, and I just felt like this could be a cool thing for us — just a fun pet project idea. That was in the spring of 2009.

I think I incorporated the name — Waves For Water. I didn't even apply for a 501c3, because I didn't even really know I needed to. It was more of just a name. For what we would do, I chose water for two reasons. My father had been volunteering and doing some work around water in Africa some years prior. That put the cause itself on my radar. The other reason is just because it seemed ‘solvable' to a non-expert like myself. It seemed like I could wrap my arms around it… that it was doable. It’s not that I could personally solve the whole entire crisis, but I could make a dent. There are solutions and technology out there that exist.And the people that need them don't know about them and vice versa. It’s like there's a missing link in the chain.

I wasn't an expert in aid work, development work or anything like that. But I was an expert at moving through the world. I had been doing so from such a young age. So, I felt like I could put all these pieces together and that would be what we would do — bridging that gap and implementing these technologies and these solutions in places that needed them… and call it a day. I researched some water filtration systems that existed and would be potentially good solutions for places that don't have access to clean water and that don't have infrastructure. They were really low-fi, portable, no batteries, no machinery, none of that… just really user friendly and effective. I bought 10 water filters with my own money, went to Indonesia to kind of get away from home life for a little bit…

It was just this culmination things. A friend of mine who was going on this boat trip that we used to do a lot during our surfing careers to one of my favorite places to surf. It’s the Mentawai Islands off Sumatra. And it really was not a good time for me to go, financially or otherwise. But he said one of the guys pulled out of the trip, and I would pay less because that guy's deposit was already there. It was just all these little things. It felt sort of irresponsible to go, but I also needed to leave. I needed to escape a little bit. I needed to go clear my head and go back to the source. I needed to go back to one of the places that really fuels and feeds me. While there, I'd try this idea out. That was all I really needed. I was just like, okay, this is great… I'll just do all this stuff. I was going to go on the surf trip part, and then afterwards I was going to go to this other island that I had been to in years past where I knew the people and knew I could try this idea. I knew they needed it, but before I was able to get to that island I was caught in a 7.2 earthquake in the city of Padang, which is the capital city of Sumatra and also the main thoroughfare for those trips.

The best way to put it is… it was like a Hollywood movie. It was death and destruction on a level that you don't see in real life… I know it happens in real life, but I just had never seen it. I had seen it in movies, but… there's no way anybody can go through that without being hugely impacted. The combination of where I was in my life with the fact that I had this other intention to help in this certain capacity, which was water, and I had these real tangible assets on me… I had these water filters. That coupled with other things within me that I didn't know… I had certain character traits that had never been tested enough to know I had them… All that came together in that moment. Basically, I was like the first responder sort of by accident… because I was there. I wasn’t trying to be. Common sense mode kicked in, and I just started acting in real time — in this super hyper speed because of the nature of the experience itself. I spent about 30 hours on the ground just implementing those 10 filters to different relief centers. Totally green with aid work and also disaster response. All of that I'd never done before, but then I just found myself rising to the occasion of making decisions and some of the hardest decisions I've ever made in my life. In those 30 hours, where you’re just a human being like everybody else, but you're actually deciding the fate of other people's lives around you because these people are trapped under rubble over here, and they're screaming for you over there… You can hear them, but you can't go get them out because they're under slabs of concrete the size of cars, and we don't have heavy lifters. So, do you walk away from that because you know you can implement these filters over here that are going to help all these other people? And how do you reconcile that? It just gets so real, so fast. And it's stayed with me for a long time. A lot of these experiences I've had… 27 different disasters that I’ve responded to since the start of Waves For Water. This was the first one, and I’m always being confronted with decisions like this. But I know that I'm equipped to handle that and make that choice, as hard as it may be. So, that was the birth of Waves For Water, at least in the physical form… the action of it. 27 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


It just gets so real, so fast. JON ROSE

FOUNDER OF WAVES FOR WATER Photo Provided by: Waves For Water 28 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


“I went for what I thought was going to be two weeks, and I stayed for two years.” JON: (continued) I came home from Indonesia, a completely changed man. I was so clear and laser focused. Everything was crystallized for me. I was just like, “Okay, this is what I'm here to do. This is why I'm here, period.” I got divorced. I just made these moves… Look, I was barely trying. This was like a fun, little idea. What if I tried? Oh man… So, I came home and did it all. I got a WordPress site up. I applied for my 501c3 status, which I got in a month. I came home and fundraised with friends. I just wanted to get back to Sumatra and get as many filters as I could. With 300 filters I went straight back in December to help that same population. After my second time in Sumatra, I was actually at a friend's house in Hawaii decompressing. I didn't really have a home actually at that point. Everything had been separated at home. That is when the Haiti earthquake happened in 2010. On January 13th, I was sitting on my friend's couch and I got a phone call from somebody who was putting together a team of humanitarian aid workers and relief workers to go respond to Haiti. They had seen press on what happened to me in Sumatra. There was a lot of press on it, because it was such a crazy thing that I was there. They asked if what I did in Sumatra was viable for Haiti. And I said, “Yeah, absolutely.” They asked if I wanted to go tomorrow? And I said, “Yep.”

I went for what I thought was going to be two weeks, and I stayed for two years. That's where I built Waves For Water. If Sumatra, was the idea’s inception where it came to fruition, then Haiti was the exclamation point. It was where I formally said “This is who I am. This is what we're doing.” It was building the organization that it is today.

ALLIÉ: I’ve never surfed, but I imagine that ‘balance’ is important on the board. When it comes to Waves For Water, your focus is on correcting the imbalances for water scarcity. How do you do this? Please tell us about work.

JON: We're laser focused. We provide access to clean water and we that’s what do. The global water crisis is two pronged. There’s a humanitarian side and an environmental side. So the environmental side would be focused on conservation, preservation, and dealing with pollution… We’re focused on stopping senseless sickness and death due to waterborne illnesses. We go into places that don't have infrastructure or that have very limited infrastructure. We intervene through portable and non portable, larger scale water filtration systems, through rainwater harvesting and through the, the implementation and restoration of wells and hand pumps. Those are the three main categories of how we provide access to clean water. It really depends on the place. So, we go in and do a needs assessment in the area where we're going to be working. We figure out what the missing piece is. We figure out what they really need. Maybe they have access to water, but it's just not clean. Or maybe they don't have access to water at all. So we have to create a source and then make sure it's clean. It comes down to our needs assessment and then the budget. We don't fund projects. We are the implementing partner always. Whether it’s a corporation doing a CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiative or a larger NGO, they are ‘subcontracting’ us out for our water program because we're specialized. Sometimes it’s an individual donor that is really compelled to help a certain area. Sometimes it’s a government agency. We’ve partnered with all of them, and we continue to. It just depends on the nature of the project. Basically, we take the budget, match it with the needs assessment and come up with the plan. We operate a lot more like ‘contractors’ than a standard charity. I like it because it's super transparent. It's super straight forward.

ALLIÉ: Your conversion from awareness of a problem to action with a solution is beyond inspiring, especially when you understand that the need is so great. While others walk away from these issues, you run toward them. When the flames of overwhelming duty go out for others, what inspires you and keeps your fire lit?

JON: That's a really good question. I know the answer, and it's probably not one that you'd expect, but I've thought about this a lot because I have this insatiable drive… It comes from my professional surfing career. It comes from being a professional athlete and being super competitive. I'm not necessarily competitive with other people or with other organizations. I'm competing against the cause itself, and I want to beat. I want to win. It’s just ingrained in me. That's the way I am with everything I do. I’m a competitive person. And with something this big, it's never ending. I mean, there is an end in sight. We can solve the the global water crisis in our lifetime. It is solvable, but it's such a big task that needs all hands on deck… I just don't know how to stop. I don't know how to not do it. 29 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


I said, “I think that’ll work,” and it started raining… JON ROSE

FOUNDER OF WAVES FOR WATER Photo Provided by: Waves For Water 30 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


“The relationship I have with water… it’s priceless. It is what made me whole.” ALLIÉ: In life, there are more variables than constants. However, for the many variables you’ve been faced with, Jon, it’s water that has always been your constant. From your surfing to the service to others, it’s been your common denominator. I wondered if you could share two of your favorite moments with water – one on your board as a surfer and one on the ground with Waves for Water.

JON: I'll start with the Waves For Water one. It was when I went back to Sumatra the second time and I was out in a rural area teaching this family to catch rain water with just a tarp and ropes. They didn't have a roof to capture water from any rain that would come. There were no gutters and no tanks or anything like that. But there was this old cistern that had no top on it. The cement cistern was near their little hut. We thought we’d try with a huge, industrial tarp to create a catch system with ropes and palm trees to funnel into the cistern. So anytime it rains, the water would roll down and be caught. I was just trying out things. I was brand new to this. I thought it would be a cool little hack, but it hadn't rained in eight months. So it was more like an assumption or challenge, but we didn't know… I didn't climb the trees. I don't know how to climb palm trees. But the father of the family climbed up these trees and fastened the ropes, and we rolled it out. I said, “I think that'll work,” and it started raining… It hadn’t rained at eight months, and out of nowhere, it just started raining. It was so cosmic and magical. They were tripping. I was tripping. And we got to see it work. Then they started yelling, “Hujan!” (pronounced ‘who-jon’). My name is Jon. And Hujan means ‘rain’ in their local dialect. So they were yelling, “Hujan! Hujan!” It was so cool. It was this crazy thing. And then it stopped raining. It went back to sun. Talk about validator, you know?

For surfing… It became my job, and I have so many amazing memories, so many amazing waves and memorable moments in that way. But I think it was my first love… It was my first passion. It was my first thing that was bigger than me that I really could dive into at a really young age. When that clicked for me around age 10, it was like that same insatiable kind of drive that I have with Waves For Water. At 10 years old, I was so driven and wanting to do that every day, all day and wanting to make it my career. I think less of a singular moment and more of this incredible appreciation for this thing, this like art form, this expression and this friend… When you’re young and you're trying to figure out your life and who you are, you have this best friend that you can always count on to be there for you. And that is what the ocean is like. It’s so healing in that way. It actually has been physiologically proven that the salt water balances your alkaline levels. You just come out feeling more balanced. To be able to have that at such a young age was so special. It's so special to have something that your balancer, this barometer to keep you centered. I think that was something that really ended up informing and defining my life thereafter — not just as an athlete but just as a human. The relationship I have with water… it’s priceless. It is what made me whole.

ALLIÉ: Again, I’ve never surfed, but I’ve wanted to. I’ve really wanted to, Jon. A bit scared I suppose. For those wanting to take a chance in life but who are held back by fear, what advice would you give?

JON: I just was confronted with this last week in Alaska… I've gotten really into mountaineering and back country adventures. I got into splitboarding where your board goes into skis, you put skins on the bottom, and you move

31 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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You have to lean into it… as uncomfortable as it is. JON ROSE

FOUNDER OF WAVES FOR WATER Photo Provided by: Waves For Water 32 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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AwareNow Podcast

WAVES FOR WATER

Exclusive Interview with Jon Rose

https://awarenow.us/podcast/waves-for-water

TAP/SCAN TO LISTEN

“When you are comfortable with being outside your comfort zone, that is literally the ingredient needed for the recipe of personal growth.” JON: (continued) through the mountains that way. When you get to the top of the lines you want to ride, you put your board together and ride down. This is one of my new sports, at least passions in that way. It’s about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. In this last week in Alaska, I was really pushing myself outside of my comfort zone… When you are comfortable with being outside your comfort zone, that is literally the ingredient needed for the recipe of personal growth. Once I realized that, I just made decisions based on that that recipe. So, if it didn't feel uncomfortable, then I wouldn't do it. <laugh> If it felt uncomfortable, I would go toward it because I knew the return I was going to personally get.

I'm 44. I was just in Alaska doing something that felt so outside my comfort zone. I had fear every day at certain times, but to push through that fear you need to put yourself in a position where you have to overcome it. It’s so huge. It's so important for our own personal growth. If you're feeling uncomfortable about things, there's a fine line, right? There’s this sweet spot and you want to tow that line. You don't want to go so uncomfortable where something dangerous or bad can happen. If you feel it’s uncomfortable, but know you can do it, you should do it. If you just trust that, then you will have incredible return. If you just continue to do things that are comfortable, that's fine too, but your personal growth trajectory is just not going to be the same. You have to lean into it a little bit, as uncomfortable as it is. That's how you know it's the right thing to do. ∎

WAVES FOR WATER

Learn more about Jon Rose and his work with Waves For Water.

www.wavesforwater.org

@wavesforwater

33 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


We invite every person to contribute their energy, passion, and creativity to the most substantial cause of our era… ERIC RITZ

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND FOUNDER OF GLOBAL INHERITANCE Photo Credit: Global Inheritance 34 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘THE WRITING ON THE WALL’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY EDDIE DONALDSON

GLOBAL INHERITANCE A CREATIVE THINK TANK INSPIRING MILLIONS

In the middle of Coachella, we connected with an integral partner of the festival - Global Inheritance. Eddie Donaldson spoke with Executive Director and Founder, Eric Ritz, for a Q&A session to bring us up to speed on who they are and what they’re about. EDDIE: Thanks for the time today. Can you introduce your self?

ERIC: My name is Eric Ritz. I’m the Executive Director and Founder of Global Inheritance.

EDDIE: For those unfamiliar with Global Inheritance, please share.

ERIC: Global Inheritance is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based out of Los Angeles, California. For 20 years we have focused on developing interactive programs that educate and inspire young people - prompting them to engage with creative thinking in the pursuit of solutions to the environmental issues facing the planet.

What makes Global Inheritance unique, is our approach to audience engagement. We focus on providing experiences that explore important issues while empowering individuals to share their points of view and learn from their peers. Our mission is creating thought-provoking experiences that impart knowledge and inspire action on even the most complicated issues.

EDDIE: Can you tell us about a few of your past programs?

ERIC: Plastic Surgery, POSTed Studio, Work Out Your Watts, and Truth & Dare are an eclectic mix of some of our current programs.

Plastic Surgery is interactive experience that offers people the opportunity to look and feel better by cutting plastic out of their lives. The Guardian reported that plastic production will increase by 40% in the next 10 years. Considering that 90% of all plastic isn’t recycled, removing plastic from our lives is critical to our future. Plastic Surgery makes it easier for people to face these problems by showing the alternatives to plastic that already exist.

Individual “patients" (and groups) in the program enjoy a truly interactive, one-on-one experience with an environmental expert to discuss their relationship with plastic, and discover direct actions they can take to reduce their reliance on it. Every patient receives a prescription to be filled at our Plastic-free Pharmacy - which is tailored to the surgeon’s recommendations based on the personal consultation. A prescribed regimen of daily exercises that helps keep plastic footprints shrinking is provided to all patients as a post-visit follow-up.

The POSTed Studio invites people to generate concept art for posters that advocate for solutions to major challenges facing the planet. Those crowd-sourced concepts are then passed onto professional artists and designers to serve as the inspiration for the next poster in our ever-growing collection. This collaborative process of creation transforms the original concept through high quality visual art, allowing their message to be amplified and shared worldwide. 35 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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Photo Credit: Global Inheritance 36 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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Photo Credit: Global Inheritance 37 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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We focus on providing experiences that explore important issues while empowering individuals… ERIC RITZ

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND FOUNDER OF GLOBAL INHERITANCE Photo Credit: Global Inheritance 38 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


“Over the past 20 years, leading brands, schools, cities, and event producers have leaned on Global Inheritance to find opportunities that support the environment and become better equipped to motivate and inspire their staff and customers.” ERIC: (continued) Work Out Your Watts trains people to reduce their power bill at home by performing a number of exercises that tone-up their “energy usage” regimen. Early reports show that energy use in the home jumped by 30% in 2020. There’s a number of exercises people can practice at home to transform their daily usage. Global Inheritance's energy experts are trained to provide individuals with the latest techniques and best practices to minimize their energy usage at home.

Truth & Dare brings people face-to-face with planet Earth, who questions them about their personal environmental habits, beliefs, and behaviors. Participants are connected to a polygraph machine and interviewed by a physical manifestation of the planet who sits across the table. The sequence of questions and answers aim to highlight how our behaviors have a direct effect on the environment and capture the level of honesty in the discussion about those behaviors. Truth & Dare is presented as though you are playing the game with the planet - if the Earth took a human form. Attendees answer questions about their past behavior that created impact on the environment… good or bad. Despite the presence of a polygraph, the experience does not feel like a place of confession or guilt - it creates a platform for honest discussions about how people can contribute to making our environment healthier for all.

EDDIE: Can you walk us through the Coachella relationship? When did it start? How did it start and what types of activations have you done?

ERIC: Our first campaign with Coachella took place in 2004 when the festival granted permission for us to transform a handful of recycling bins into works of art. We partnered with our friends at Anthem magazine to confirm the first 8 artists who launched the program. Coachella loved the results so much, they requested we create 120 art-bins for the following year. Since those early years, we’ve developed new and exciting programming on an annual basis, including Poltar the Great, Energy FACTory DJ Mixer, Oasis Water Bar, and Recyclosaurus Rex, and many others - all while maintaining our core legacy programs, like TRASHed Coachella: Art of Recycling, Carpoolchella, Energy Playground and Recycling Store, that are a part of the festival every year.

EDDIE: What types of brands have you guys had the pleasure of working with?

ERIC: Over the past 20 years, leading brands, schools, cities, and event producers have leaned on Global Inheritance to find opportunities that support the environment and become better equipped to motivate and inspire their staff and customers. Global Inheritance has partnered with every major film studio and record label, high profile brands including Apple, Vice, HP, Amtrak, Toyota, Nike, The North Face and Burton, and some of the biggest sports & culture events in the world, including the Super Bowl, Coachella and Lollapalooza. 39 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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Photo Credit: Global Inheritance 40 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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Photo Credit: Global Inheritance 41 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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We have seen first hand how creative people, working together, can move the culture in a more sustainable direction. ERIC RITZ

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND FOUNDER OF GLOBAL INHERITANCE Photo Credit: Global Inheritance 42 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


“Engaging with environmental work can be mentally challenging for people. The issues are truly global in scale, and can seem insurmountable - but we have witnessed (and contributed to) a lot of positive change over the last twenty years.” EDDIE: Who are your current client and partners?

ERIC: Global Inheritance is currently collaborating with a number of incredible brands and partners including Netflix, Poshmark, Sustainable Production Alliance, Arts Help, Goldenvoice and AEG, among others.

EDDIE: I would love to highlight the names and faces and roles of your current team?

ERIC: Many incredible individuals have helped the organization accomplish its mission throughout the years. This list starts with Matt Brady who been involved with the organization since Day 1 as it’s Creative Director. Most of the design work coming out of Global Inheritance the past 20 years of art originated on Matt’s desktop or through his design firm - Eyerus. Magdalena Ritz plays a major role at Global Inheritance running day to day operations and managing online and offline logics. Our international team includes Michelle Plotkin (Canada), Gian Luca Brignone (Italy) and Amanda Dunbar (UK) - who put the “Global” in Global inheritance. Legal advisor David Bacon and NGO specialists Haliey Haggerston play vital roles in our grant and development strategy. Our Energy Playground engineers John Huleis and Max Venass are constantly expanding our Energy education programs. Project managers Ariel Dela Cruz, Nicole Pepper and Danielle Carrillo make sure our programs are properly managed onsite. Our digital media team consists of Isabella Widmann and Kate Mathew, who are keeping us technologically up to date, and connected with our online audience.

EDDIE: Anything you want to leave us with? Any questions you wish I asked?

ERIC: Engaging with environmental work can be mentally challenging for people. The issues are truly global in scale, and can seem insurmountable - but we have witnessed (and contributed to) a lot of positive change over the last twenty years. We have seen first hand how creative people, working together, can move the culture in a more sustainable direction. We invite every person to contribute their energy, passion, and creativity to the most substantial cause of our era - insuring that the generations of the future will inherit a planet in which all living things thrive. ∎

Learn more about Global Inheritance: www.globalinheritance.org

EDDIE DONALDSON

GuerillaOne x The Seventh Letter www.awarenessties.us/eddie-donaldson Louisville, Kentucky native Eddie Donaldson moved to Los Angeles in 1986 and became involved with the graffiti movement as an alternative to the turbulent gang activity of his generation. Immersed first as an artist amongst diverse L.A. crews like TCF, AWR, and The Seventh Letter, Donaldson had the vision to develop their homegrown graffiti movement into something beyond the streets. His loyalty and business sensibility transformed the graffiti scene and he evolved into the point person for producing art events and exhibitions that inspire and spread the stylistic of southern California art into the world.

43 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


I will remember the day he touched me and how I felt my voice trembling in my chest… It belongs to Little Coco. COCO DE BRUYCKER

ACTRESS, VOICEOVER ARTIST & AWARENESS TIES AMBASSADOR FOR DISABILITY Photo Credit: MJ Temple 44 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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‘ACCORDING TO COCO’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY COCO DE BRUYCKER

LITTLE COCO SPEAKS

ONLY WHEN HE TOUCHED ME DID I FIND MY VOICE TRIGGER WARNING: SEXUAL ASSAULT, RAPE

If you took me out on a date… well, you’ve already learned (from previous AwareNow issues)… 1) I am good at feeling guilty, terribly good. 2) I get ‘authenticity hangovers’ really often. 3) I make my visions my realities really fast. To be honest, Hon, I know it’s been a while. I had to take a break from dating. Taking care of myself. You know, to be honest, I actually hate dates. It’s all so fast. It’s all about the one. Thing. I only started dating for acting. A friend of mine said if I dated more and have sex more often, I would be hotter on screen and be able to play better romantic scenes. That’s a friend. My closest friend at that time. Very close. Too close? And not close enough. Let me start over.

The beginning of the pandemic was an opportunity to face and heal myself: guilty, hungover, envisioning… me.

Who am I gonna be?

Ruling the room like Scarlett

“Who am I gonna be?,” Little Teenage Coco asked herself in the mirror. I was an adolescent. My body changed. So did my mind. I went to a very dark place. I got ready to be a woman. But I couldn’t see a world with a woman like me in it… limping with Cerebral Palsy. Every time the word woman came to my mind, I pictured Scarlett Johansson ruling the room, turning heads. A Goddess. How could I, Little Coco, ever be like her?! I hated myself.

If you fall as a child, it’s OK, right? Your parents come, pick you up, you keep going.

If you fall as an adult, it’s weird, right? People expect you to get your shit together, up, you leave. Nothing to see here. It’s sheer embarrassment falling as an adult. Falling as a woman. I couldn’t see myself as a woman, nor be one. But my body didn’t care. My body grew anyway. I freaked out. I hid… behind the mask of Little Coco. Don’t shine too bright. Don’t scream too loud…

My Self-Confidence Tilted with Him

“Can you give me another role?,” I whispered in his ear. “I need a mask to feel safe.” He said he wanted to have me, though, without a mask. I was enough, he said. I was moved. Deeply moved. My heart melted in his palms. Palms stroking my thigh.

The beginning of the pandemic was the beginning of a beautiful friendship with benefits. He said having more sex would make me a better actress. Together we watched Scarlett Johansson flirting the screen on fire. He knows what he’s taking about. He’s a man. A filmmaker, he says. We analyzed her every move, every blink, every head-tilt.

And my self-confidence tilted with it. He said, he wanted to help me be more confident in the bedroom. I had talent, he said, a super power. I felt like Baby Hercules: Super power, yes. But no clue how to manage it. It was bed time for Baby Hercules and I liked it a lot. But there was just something that didn’t feel right, something… He left me feeling empty. Maybe I am just asexual? I thought about it, then googled it.

I should be grateful, I thought. Driving through the L.A. heat with him. It’s the sun driving everyone crazy, I tell ya. The sun makes terribly horny. I felt exhilarated… exhausted and empty right after our loud hormonal high. 45 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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I was exhausted. But ‘sexy’, he said. COCO DE BRUYCKER

ACTRESS, VOICEOVER ARTIST & AWARENESS TIES AMBASSADOR FOR DISABILITY Photo Credit: MJ Temple 46 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


He wanted to teach me. He wanted to help me, he said… He had a good time. I gained experience. Just for Seven Seconds

Maybe I’m just not made for open relationships. Since I had my first summer fling at 19 I had been the secret because I couldn’t see myself: as a woman. Back then, the guy shoved himself into me, “just for seven seconds,” he joked. Seven? Yeah, my lucky number…

Now our relationship started out with a joke again. My joke. “I dreamed I was running a call house and took care of all my friends in the pandemic.” He liked that. He wanted to teach me. He wanted to help me, he said. It’s all business. He had a good time. I gained experience. After… we laid in bed like sardines: next to each other but no touching. We slept with each other but never together. Sometimes spooning to turn him on. I liked spooning best. He turns the light on and tells me to go back to my room. I was disappointed but didn’t tell him. I felt embarrassed.

No love? Boooooooorning…

“But sex without looooooove is just so boooooooorning!,” Little Coco in my head complained. I was stuck in embarrassment. I started to hate myself. Oh, not again. I started catching feelings and hated myself for it. What do kids do when they’re bored? Right. Nonsense. Sex and sardines didn’t cut it for me so I gave him my energy. I visualized us basking in light as we were riding the waves of our bodies into Universe’s Infinity. I was done.

I went into debt. I gave more of my energy than I had. I was exhausted. But ‘sexy’, he said. Others agreed. Coco, you’ve changed, they said. I smiled wearily. I should be happy, what the hell is wrong with me? Houston, Houston, we got a problem!, the Little Coco voice was screaming. Cancel operation. Cancel operation. Time out.

“I think we had our time,” I texted. He agreed. So back to just friends. Dropping the masks. We drifted apart. I still missed him and I told him. I hated myself for it. What is it I am missing? He made me feel home. Or was it just his body? He drank a lot. He comes home and touches me. And I let him. I don’t wanna feel alone. A hand on my body. Some sense of connection is better than no connection at all, I thought. I manipulated a kiss out of him and convinced myself that’s what love feels like.

I Can’t Breathe

The night my self-confidence tilted again, he had been drinking again. He came home from his show: “Y’all, I don’t think I can join the Black Lives Matter movement anymore; I was with too many white girls.” I uncomfortably laughed. I was one of them and nobody knows. He tells the crowd about his fantasy: Taking a white girl home, her head in his hands, shoving it up his… “And then I go like, ‘What’s the matter?’ and she wines ‘I can’t breathe.’’”

He wants to envision this joke was me. He put his hand on my mouth working towards the muted hormonal high. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t scream. It all happened too fast for me to grasp it. — Is this real? — Too fast to follow my impulse to bite him. “Now, you let me down,” Little Coco whined. My self-confidence tilted again. It’s business. I looked at him in shock. He laughed, insecure about me staring. I pulled up my pants, popped the pill and went to bed. My own bed. Alone. 47 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


AwareNow Podcast

LITTLE COCO SPEAKS

Written and Narrated by Coco De Bruycker

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Enough

“One last picture!” Fast-forward 16 month later, Tiergarten, Berlin. He rolls up my t-shirt and my skirt down so my stomach is exposed. It’s not him anymore. It’s not L.A. It’s another he. He takes photos under a fake name: Ray. It’s Berlin. He touches my chest… “Sexier!” My self-confidence tilted. I am an actress, I said. Just tell me you need it sexier and I can do it myself. With my imagination. No hands. He laughed it off. Just ask next time you touch your models, I said. That’s only professional. He strokes me again. I tear up. Imagination… Imagine… This can’t be real. His hands go down my thighs. Maybe I am just prisoner of my own dirty fantasy, Coco? A Ray of Confidence strikes through the trees. Little Coco screams: Cancel operation. Cancel operation.

“No. It’s enough.” I feel the voice tremble in my chest. My voice.

My loud voice. My clear voice. Vocal training does pay off. I am going home now, I said. The resonance makes him back off. I blink away Little Coco’s tears. I see myself, the woman I am. I will remember the day he touched me and how I felt my voice trembling in my chest. My loud voice. No joke. It belongs to Little Coco.

Denim Day: April 27, 2022

Oh, and hon… Do you like wearing denim jeans? April 27th is Denim Day. It’s the grand finale of Sexual Assault Awareness Month against domestic violence and sexual harassment. Denim Day was initiated by Peace Over Violence in response to a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court where a rape conviction was overturned because the justices felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans she must have helped the person who raped her remove her jeans, thereby implying consent. The following day, the women in the Italian Parliament came to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim. ∎ Find more information about Denim Day: www.denimdayinfo.org/why-denim

If you or someone else have concerns about sexual assault or domestic violence, find help in your area through the No More Directory: nomoredirectory.org

COCO DE BRUYCKER

Actress, Voiceover Artist & Awareness Ties Ambassador for Disability

www.awarenessties.us/coco COCO DE BRUYCKER is a German-born, US-trained actress and voiceover artist with the desire to express what we all feel but no one dares to say. As a thespian at heart, took on stage at just seven years old, where she discovered her “eagerness to play” (German: spiel wut) as director Philip Barth put it.

48 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com



THE SEVEN TEACHINGS LILLY DAYCHIEF

LILLY DAYCHIEF Ⓒ 50 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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PERSONAL STORY BY LILLY DAYCHIEF

THE SEVEN TEACHINGS INSIGHTS FROM A YOUNG INDIGENOUS ARTIST

This painting was one of my first projects that I've created. In my paintings I like to incorporate as many teachings that I've been taught throughout the years. When I was younger I remember being told about The seven teachings by one of the elders in my community. What they represent and what animals carry what gift. I remember being told this is how we as people should treat one another, and how we should carry ourselves. They all have a significant meaning...

The wolf represents humility.

The eagle carries that love.

The eagle tells us to love each other and to love yourself to keep that love.

The bear holds courage.

The turtle represents truth.

The beaver is for wisdom.

The Sabe is for honesty.

The buffalo represents that respect.

How I was taught growing up, is that everything on this earth does have spirit. We should be mindful and treat all beings with that same respect. ∎

Connect with Lilly on Instagram (@lilly.daychief), Twitter (@lillydaychief) & via email (lilly@lillydaychief.com).

51 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


DISSOLVE THE EGO SO YOUR SOUL CAN EMERGE KITO MBIANGO

KITO MBIANGO Ⓒ 52 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH KITO MBIANGO

DISSOLVE THE EGO

ARTISTIC EXPRESSION FOR THE EMERGENCE OF THE SOUL Kito Mbiango is a Flemish-Congolese painter and mixed media artist who divides his time between Brussels, New York and Miami. His paintings and digital creations blur cultural boundaries, with Mbiango finding inspiration in vintage photographs, scientific concepts and cartography. He transforms this material into a new visual language in which colors, textures and geometry are used to reflect the eternal dance between man and nature. Through his artwork, he seeks to create experiences of connection, to incite waves of action on climate change and social justice. ALLIÉ: In a time of division, you seek to connect. I love your artist's statement, Kito. There you state, “My work seeks to connect us to the core of what makes us human.” Let’s go deep to get started, in your own words, what is that core composed of?

KITO: My sense is that observing art is like a meditative process that creates a connection between the artist and the viewer… This is my starting point. The work itself is intended to serve as a reflection of who we are… Connecting to the core for me is about becoming aware of that part of ourselves that transcends the physical body we temporarily inhabit… It is about feeling the “spark” inside of us that knows we are connected to all other life. It is who we are when we remove expectations, judgments and social conditioning which keep us in separation and fear… And this “spark” is very real, as we humans, like all life forms, actually emit a frequency from our hearts and each has an energy field. The earth too has a frequency, known as the ‘Schumann Resonance’ which is like the heartbeat of the Earth. By becoming conscious of our inner “core”, we are in reality connecting more deeply to the Earth – the way a mother and child are connected through an umbilical cord.

ALLIÉ: Your works consist of layers. Depth is created with layers of photos, images, colors and shapes that in addition to being beautiful are emotional. As an artist, what is it about your use of ‘layers’ that allows you to connect so intimately with your audience?

KITO: I use layers both in my paintings and digital works. Whether I’m working on canvas or on a screen, layers, colours and reflections, as you have observed, give dimension and create depth. But, they are also like slivers of time which are deliberately woven together to create something new and undefinable.

This is my language and these layers in my view help our minds tap into memories we have stored in our subconscious… and when a person does this, they open a sort of vault of feelings and facts that they may have otherwise been unaware of, since they’re not an explicit part of our conscious mind.

What fascinates me the most is how art evokes emotion… and it’s because it touches that place deep within us that seeks beauty and harmony. I’m sure you’ve experienced the power of a visionary piece of music or art that can communicate emotion through time and resonate on a deep emotional level with us hundreds of years after it was created. I believe it’s because it connects to that part of us that is timeless… the “permanent atom” that will continue to exist long after our body is no longer here. 53 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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THIS UNDERLYING STRUCTURE OF THE UNIVERSE IS LOVE KITO MBIANGO

KITO MBIANGO Ⓒ 54 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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I DRANK FROM YOUR SPRING AND FELT THE CURRENT TAKE ME KITO MBIANGO

KITO MBIANGO Ⓒ 55 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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SHE WHO IS THE SOUL AND THE UNIVERSE THAT BIRTHS SOULS KITO MBIANGO

KITO MBIANGO Ⓒ 56 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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“…when we learn to live in better balance with nature and our natural world, we impact the entire web of human life.” ALLIÉ: You respond to the world around you with your work. Your ‘Climate Change Collection’ and ‘Heritage Collection’ are examples of that. How would you like to see and hear the current narrative shifted?

KITO: I created these two collections to connect us to the earth’s energy and wisdom of our planet, which is suffering tremendously. This work is my homage to the Native peoples and the knowledge they have kept for centuries, which is vital to our human survival. Native people from across cultures have lived in harmony with nature, and because of this stand they stand the greatest chance of helping us out of this climate crisis. Their ancient knowledge is needed now more than ever to restore the balance we have lost through our way of life. Native wisdom helps us shift our perception of the earth. It does not see earth as part of a corporate entity or as property because it is a living being. These concepts must begin to make their way back into our culture as we learn to regenerate our earth and our bodies through sustainable practices.

My goal with this work is to shift what’s been seen as the traditional climate change narrative of doom and disaster, which are very real but which often paralyze us into guilt or inaction. What I am attempting to do with my work is to trigger awe-inspiring feelings of interconnectedness with nature through vivid, interposed imagery that speaks to our deeper intelligence... that gets us to want to take a stand for our earth and its people.. By doing so, I try to remind us that the key to solving the climate situation is inside each of us, for when we learn to live in better balance with nature and our natural world, we impact the entire web of human life.

CLIMATE CHANGE COLLECTION KITO MBIANGO

KITO MBIANGO Ⓒ 57 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


LE MOUVEMENT DIVINE DE LA TERRE KITO MBIANGO

KITO MBIANGO Ⓒ 58 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


ALLIÉ: In support of the protection and preservation of humanity, you made a statement that really resonates. “I would like my work to trigger conversations, to get people thinking and feeling about our world, our connection to one another and to love…” To do this, you recognize we need to go deeper to appeal to people’s social responsibility. How do you do this with your art?

KITO: It's been said that “Art is the queen of all sciences, communicating knowledge to all the generations of the world.” This phrase has been attributed to the great DaVinci and regardless of whether he actually said this, we cannot deny that art and culture have an immense role to play in educating and mobilising society towards climate action. Yet, when we look around, we are flooded with ads for consumer and luxury products. This push to consume is part of what has created this climate disaster to begin with. So, in my view we need to use similar approaches and thinking to reverse this trend and appeal to people’s sense of social responsibility.

The science clearly shows us that we are on the verge of extinction. Humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970, and the world’s experts warn that the annihilation of wildlife is now an emergency that threatens our very civilisation. Some say we are experiencing “climate or ecological grief’ as a result, with feelings of loss, anger, hopelessness, despair and distress caused by climate change and ecological decline. These feelings of loss are impacting our psyches and mental health, but are also making people realise that we need to make changes in our lifestyles and eating habits, which can lead to further denial and paralysis. When I took the time to understand what changes I could make, I shifted to a more plant-based diet and when I progressively felt the impacts for my health, I began to understand how a change like this brings about more balance in my life and eventually in the world around me and my family. In this era of increasing natural disasters, art can communicate the future risks we face and inspire people to think about disaster risk and resilience in ways that science, data and numbers cannot. There is a cultural currency we could tap into for mass mobilization via social media. We can literally consolidate our voices on this, putting our heads and hearts together, the channels are there… I feel what’s missing is the visual and cultural language needed to communicate about the climate, so people can feel empowered to demand change and resources from the government to reverse these trends. Environmental movements have received a lot of criticism for trying to motivate people through negative narratives and doomsday scenarios. Yet, there may be another way, focusing on “climate hope,” and getting people to understand the power they have to take action, with reverence and respect for our natural world.

ARTIST STATEMENT BY KITO MBIANGO “MY WORK SEEKS TO CONNECT US TO THE CORE OF WHAT MAKES US HUMAN…”

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59 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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This is how I believe we heal. KITO MBIANGO

PAINTER & MIXED MEDIA ARTIST Photo Credit: Kito Mbiango 60 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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ALLIÉ: Part of the Heritage Collection, ‘Dissolve The Ego, So Your Soul Can Emerge…’ is a powerful, poetic piece that serves as an invitation to honor our indigenous brothers and sisters and learn from their ways of protecting our earth and her wildlife. Please share the story behind this piece.

KITO: Much of my work has been influenced by my Flemish grandmother who was a master in ikebana, and taught the visual art of Japanese flower arrangement. This centuries old practice shaped by Buddhist teachings has somehow infused the spirit and aesthetic of my work on this series as well as others.

This piece, which is part of a larger collection, was created during a time when indigenous activists at Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota were protesting to protect the waters and calling for “defending the sacred.” Their protests evoked so much inside of me that I was unable to express verbally, so I turned to my craft and created the “Heritage Collection.” To me these powerful tribal leaders speak to us in their silence….

ALLIÉ: ‘Dissolve The Ego, So Your Soul Can Emerge…’ was auctioned by Christie’s and sold to benefit the Le Ciel Foundation. What was it about their work that made you want to support them with your own work?

KITO: I support Le Ciel Foundation’s because they work closely with indigenous elders in their education and preservation work, creating curricula, workshops, films and other awareness raising activities and programmes to reach a wide array of audiences from policymakers to the general public. Their aim is to catalyse a rapid shift in paradigm, and to support our evolution towards living and being based on an understanding of spirituality, ecology and oneness. I am impressed by the many ways they incorporate indigenous wisdom into our modern world and very much share their vision which is based on a world of harmony and balance where all life on Earth is respected.

ALLIÉ: As we end our conversation, I want to go back to before we started. I first came to know of you and your art by stumbling upon ‘Dissolve The Ego, So Your Soul Can Emerge…’. Only I didn’t stumble. I stopped… and stared. Then I cried. There was something about this digital image that spoke to me without any words to be found. What was that language? Please speak to the ‘language’ of your art.

KITO: I am deeply moved when I hear about the emotions my work evokes… This visual language taps into our perception. I explain it like this… We use mirrors as a means to see ourselves. However, mirrors exist in our minds as well. “Mirror neurons” fire in our brains when a person acts and another person observes the same action being performed by someone else. It is how we learn. It is said that similar physiological changes occur when we are observing art. When one looks at a profound piece of art, neuroscientists have shown that we are firing similar neurons as the artist when they created it. This sense of being drawn into a work of art is called “embodied cognition.”

So when you share the emotion you felt when looking at this piece, my sense is that it stirred something deep within you… and likely something similar to what I felt when I created it…

Through my work I am trying to connect people to new emotions… in doing so, I believe we can free our mind of perceptions that limit our thinking. This is how I believe we heal. ∎

KITO MBIANGO

Learn more about the artist and explore his work.

www.kitombiango.com

@kitombiango

61 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


I am hoping by sharing my story that somebody will be able to offer some help in getting me to safety. ARA

YOUTH ACTIVIST AND JOURNALIST 62 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘GLOBAL GOOD’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY TANITH HARDING

EVAC ASAP

A STORY & REQUEST FROM A YOUTH ACTIVIST IN AFGHANISTAN Today, I am talking to a 23-year-old youth activist who will remain anonymous as he is still currently trapped in Afghanistan. We’ll refer to him as ‘Ara’. Despite our best efforts, we are struggling to help him, along with the many others that are trying desperately to escape from Afghanistan eight months after the UK and USA ceased evacuating those at risk. Whilst news of Afghan support fades out of the news, Ara’s plight continues in a country he called home that no longer feels safe. TANITH: Talk to me about life as a youth activist prior to the Taliban taking over - what was life like for you then?

ARA: In the last 20 years, Afghan youth have been working on and exercising on many social and political values such as, democracy, freedom of speech, gender equalities and many more. For me, life in Afghanistan was hopeful and we could freely advocate for our rights and we were able to raise our voice against unfairness. I had the right of education, social activities and participation in important dialogues that are related to youth. Life was better then and bright!

TANITH: You were extremely outspoken about the Taliban in your time as a youth activist. What were your initial thoughts when you realised they were going to take control?

ARA: I was always raising my voice against the Taliban attacks on civilians and their terrorist ideology. I was in pain and fear when I realized they were coming to take control of my country by killing our soldiers and people. I changed my location immediately once they took control because I had heard that young activists and journalists were their first target at the time. I knew that if they could find me they would kill me while I was working as a journalist in Kabul.

TANITH: In August 2021, we tried to get you out of Afghanistan on some of the final evacuations. Unfortunately we were unable to do so due to the chaos at the airport. Can you describe the situation you were facing at that time?

ARA: In August 2021, after the collapse of Afghanistan all of the people were trying to get out of the country. All of our people were concerned about their lives and their well being and flocked to the airport to try and get out. After liaising with the British government they agreed to try and help me get onto one of the final flights and asked me to make my way to the Baron Hotel at the airport. I was on the way to the hotel for evacuation but I couldn't get through to the meeting point due to the crowds and the tough situation there. The Taliban had set up roadblocks and didn't allow people to enter the airport. They were fighting with people and they were firing on people who wanted to join the evacuation process.

I had planned to try again the following day but the situation had become even more tense and I was warned that there would likely be attacks. That day there were two attacks by suicide bombers. The two attacks took place just outside of Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport and at the nearby Baron hotel. Ninety-five people were killed and 150 wounded in those attacks. If I hadn’t been warned I would have been there at the time they took place. 63 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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“In the last eight months, I have changed my location many times because the Taliban are searching for journalists and youth activists home by home.” TANITH: Since then we have continued to look for ways to help you get out of Kabul. Can you paint a picture of what life has been like for you in the last eight months?

ARA: Living under the leadership of a terrorist group means living in a war zone. I have been in hiding ever since the collapse of Afghanistan and I really don't know how I will be able to manage hiding and changing my location anymore. I am living in a society where no one has the right of raising their voices and no one has the right of education. The Taliban are searching houses and the situation is very frightening – especially as a young activist who has been outspoken about The Taliban.

TANITH: What are your hopes for a safe future and how can the readers help you to make this future a reality?

ARA: In the last eight months, I have changed my location many times because the Taliban are searching for journalists and youth activists home by home. Young people are not allowed to go to universities and offices. I am facing serious risks in this society and there is no guarantee for my life tomorrow. If I stay here for a long time, my dreams and career may die forever. I really want to continue my education and get my masters degree, but I am not sure what more I can do to secure this simple thing for my future.

Frustratingly, I do qualify for the ACRS programme in the UK under the 'those who have assisted the UK efforts in Afghanistan and stood up for values such as democracy, women’s rights, freedom of speech, and rule of law due to my activism but the programme doesn’t have an application process so I am unable to actively apply. I am hoping by sharing my story that somebody will be able to offer some help in getting me to safety. ∎

If anybody is able to help us support this courageous young man, please get in touch with me directly: tanith@roundtable.global TANITH HARDING

Director of International Development, The Legacy Project, RoundTable Global www.awarenessties.us/tanith-harding TANITH HARDING is leading change management through commitment to the RoundTable Global Three Global Goals of: Educational Reform, Environmental Rejuvenation & Empowerment for All. She delivers innovative and transformational leadership and development programmes in over 30 different countries and is also lead on the international development of philanthropic programmes and projects. This includes working with a growing team of extraordinary Global Change Ambassadors and putting together the Global Youth Awards which celebrate the amazing things our young people are doing to change the world.

64 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com



We know that miracles are happening simultaneously while the atrocities of life and man against man are happening. LAURA SHARPE

ARTISTS FOR TRAUMA FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, TRAUMA SURVIVOR, ARTIST 66 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘FELLOW TRAVELERS’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY LAURA SHARPE

CROSSROADS CREATING SOLUTIONS

Together, as fellow travelers, individuals, and a global community of collaborators and crosspollinators, we are responsible for creating, providing, and managing effective solutions to protect and provide comprehensive, compassionate, empowering solutions for all mankind and planet Earth impacted by lack of quality-of-life resources, disease, trauma, disaster, war, or death. Life on Earth presents humans with a series of problems we must solve for the sustainability and well-being of Earth and Mankind. To solve the world’s biggest problems, namely war, poverty, disease, disabilities, climate change, clean air, housing, and safe drinking water, for over 8 billion people on the planet, we need lots of new ideas, by many people working at many levels, if these problems are to be overcome.

History and biology are studies of living things, the vital processes of their creation, intersectionality, collaboration, sustainability, or destruction. Creating solutions at the ‘crossroads’ of life is directly related to the science and art of ‘cross-pollination’.

History of the Fertile Crescent

Why was the Fertile Crescent a Crossroads of Civilization?

Named for its rich soils, the Fertile Crescent, often called the ‘cradle of civilization,’ is found in the Middle East. Because of this region's abundant access to water, the earliest civilizations were established in the Fertile Crescent.

The Fertile Crescent is a large, crescent-shaped, geographic region in modern day Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Israel, Jordan, and the northern-easternmost part of Egypt, fed by the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, which have supported numerous ancient civilizations.

Why is the Middle East called the “Crossroads of the Ancient World”?

Historically, it’s been given this name because of its central location at the intersection of the overland trade routes which connected Europe, Asia, and Africa. “Mesopotamia” is formed from the ancient words “meso,” meaning between or in the middle of, and “potamos”, meaning river. Situated in the fertile valleys between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the region is now home to modern-day Iraq, Kuwait, Turkey, and Syria.

From the Garden of Eden to Abraham, Daniel in the lions' den and the Tower of Babel, the ancient land now known as Iraq is considered the birthplace of the Bible. Mesopotamia, literally the land between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, is the reason this land is so lush.

Biology of Cross-Pollination

This is about the creation of life and problem solving. Cross-pollination in the natural world happens when a flower or plant comes into contact with pollen from another plant. Cross pollination is advantageous because it allows for diversity in the species, as the genetic information of different plants are combined. However, it relies on the existence of pollinators that will travel from plant to plant.

How do plants cross-pollinate?

Rub the male flower's pollen on a female flower from another subspecies. The pollen in a male flower is at the top of the stamen. Rub the stamen into the other flower's pistil until you are sure some of the pollen is inside the other flower. Remember the story of ‘the birds and the bees’?

67 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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Silicon Valley innovation is robust because of the extensive crosspollination of ideas between individuals and companies. LAURA SHARPE

ARTISTS FOR TRAUMA FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, TRAUMA SURVIVOR, ARTIST 68 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


What is the meaning of self and cross-pollination?

A flower is self-pollinated (a “selfer”) if pollen is transferred to it from any flower of the same plant and cross-pollinated (an “outcrosser” or “outbreeder”) if the pollen comes from a flower on a different plant.

What do plants, animals, human beings, and ideas have in common regarding creation by cross-pollination?

The definition of cross-pollination is when something grows or is stimulated by the introduction of a different element.

What does cross-pollination of ideas mean?

Cross-pollination of ideas is the process of exposing people to new ways of thinking by sharing knowledge. You don’t have to be an expert to cross pollinate. Amateur and outsider cross-pollination works just as well.

Silicon Valley innovation is robust because of the extensive cross-pollination of ideas between individuals and companies. Connecting unexpected people, places, objects, and ideas provides a huge boost to your imagination.

Behavior, Inter-Relationships, and Cross-Pollination

The study of the relationships of living things to each other and to their environment is known as ecology. Because these interrelationships are so important to the welfare of Earth they can be seriously disrupted by human activities, ecology has become an important branch of biology.

Why Cross-Pollination Works

Diversity of life exists not only among and between species but also within every natural population. Like the plant world, where new life arises from the introduction of pollen from other plants, all great deas arise from combinations of ideas that haven’t met yet. In both cases, we call this process cross-pollination. You get a greater diversity of ideas by collaborating with a greater diversity of creative people from a variety of dsciplines, departments, cultures, ages, mindsets, motivations, and orientations.

Historically, Earth and humanity at any given time are at a ‘crossroads’ ravaged by war, lack of resources, disease, natural disaster, disabling injury, human violence against oneself and others.

It is important to remember as Fellow Travelers we do know the power of positivity and possibilities. We know that miracles are happening simultaneously while the atrocities of life and man against man are happening. None of us get anywhere alone. Be a part of your local, national, continental, and international communities manifesting solution. Be a part of the miracle… ∎

References

https://www.euronews.com/travel/2021/07/08/the-western-balkans-the-crossroads-of-civilizations

https://medium.com/@simonrumi/cross-pollination-of-ideas-a59898c3e76c

https://www.ideaconnection.com/right-brain-workouts/00193-cross-pollination

https://www.fastcompany.com/1672519/5-ways-to-innovate-by-cross-pollinating-ideas LAURA SHARPE

Artists For Trauma Founder & Executive Director, Trauma Survivor & Artist www.awarenessties.us/laura-sharpe LAURA SHARPE contributes to AwareNow with her exclusive column, ‘Fellow Travelers’. Trauma, tragedy and miracle are all part of the life process. They do not discriminate nor are they fairly distributed. Simultaneously they occur across all diverse cultures, countries, colors, ethnicities, genders, religious beliefs, and dimensions of time and thought on planet Earth. In this process of life, birth and re-birth; decay and destruction are integral to creating new life. As fellow travelers, we are mindful, compassionate, and intentional through our attitude and actions to one another. We share our authentic personal story of survival or service to offer relatability, respect and hope to others who are navigating intense physical, mental and emotional life impact. Uncomfortably or joyfully, we share the range of human emotions related to our personal trauma or miracle. In the end or the new beginning, we learn we are all fellow travelers.

69 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


Philosophically, you have to start presuming competence. PATRICK BARDSLEY

CO-FOUNDER & CEO OF SPECTRUM DESIGNS 70 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH PATRICK BARDSLEY

THE INNOVATION OF INCLUSION A NEW MODEL FOR A NEURODIVERSE WORKFORCE

Spectrum Designs is no ordinary custom apparel and promotional items business. A company with a cause, Spectrum Designs (along with Spectrum Bakes and Spectrum Suds) have a social mission - to create meaningful and inclusive employment opportunities for people on the autism spectrum. As a nonprofit, 100% of their profits go directly back to their mission. With over 13 years of experience working with adults on the autism spectrum, Patrick Bardsley is the organization’s Co-Founder and CEO who has created more than 50 jobs in a neurodiverse workforce. ALLIÉ: Recognizing that brain differences aren’t deficits, you co-founded Spectrum Designs. Patrick, please tell us about your mission to create employment opportunities for people on the autism spectrum and share how Spectrum Designs began.

PATRICK: First of all, thank you so much for having me. It's my honor to be part of this, and I so admire the work you're doing. We started Spectrum Designs 11 years ago, myself and two mothers of children on the autism spectrum who were facing a future of uncertainty – a future where the safety, the productivity, the fulfillment of their child was really not certain. That's terrifying I think for a parent. We wanted to change that. The mission of Spectrum Designs is to create employment and vocational training opportunities in real businesses and social enterprises. So, we started with an apparel business in a backyard barn in New York in 2011. As the years went on, we added a second and a third business – a commercial bakery and a laundry business. The real genesis was a mother's love. It was saying, “We've got this serious situation. How do we blaze a trail for others to follow?”

THE INNOVATION OF INCLUSION EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH PATRICK BARDSLEY

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71 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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…we are able to focus on individual brilliance, meet people where they’re at and bring them up from there. PATRICK BARDSLEY

CO-FOUNDER & CEO OF SPECTRUM DESIGNS 72 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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“It’s universal design… It has made us more efficient by two to three times.” ALLIÉ: By adapting and innovating, the evolution of Spectrum Designs has been supported. Can you share specific examples of adaptation and innovation that you’ve adopted in the workplace you’ve created?

PATRICK: There are so many I can give you, and the amazing thing about them is that they're so simple. With our partner, the Nicholas Center, we created a ‘visual workplace’. What we mean by that is incorporating simple visuals like markings on the floor, footprints of where to stand, arrows on things for which direction they go, or images that pair with names of things. For example, we have a print machine that has eight arms, and we have a picture of an octopus above it to say, “That's print machine number one with the picture of the octopus. If you have auditory processing challenges or things like that, you can use the visual cue. And the amazing thing about it is that it benefits everyone. It's universal design… It has made us more efficient by two to three times. I always think about when you're on an airplane, and you need to get off as quickly as possible. You don't have a set of verbal or written instructions. On the back of your seat is a cartoon that shows the fastest way. It's super visual, and that's because it has to be done quickly and efficiently. By making our workplace much more visual and really inclusive of everyone, it benefited everyone. I think that's what's so incredible about making these changes.

ALLIÉ: Recognizing your employees as your greatest resources, how is the environment and energy at Spectrum Designs different from other companies?

PATRICK: I think this is one of our superpowers, having a culture with a judgment free zone. You can't work here if you are not willing to be truly inclusive and tolerant of difference. When we think of diversity and inclusion, there's a great saying about diversity being ‘invited to the party’ and inclusion being ‘asked to dance’. I think true inclusion is asking people to dance, and that's what we have here. People of all abilities and of all kinds of minds work in all different areas of the business, and it just creates the most accepting, tolerant, inclusive environment you could ever have. I don’t know if it was part of the master plan. We were really just trying to create jobs. But, as with everything, the beauty is in the detail. What has come from these details is something really magical. When you have a philosophy that not all great minds have to think alike, you end up with a world and a community that appreciates all different sets of perspectives and minds.

ALLIÉ: To ensure the success of a strong team, Spectrum Designs focuses on individual strengths. In what ways do you support each employee in your workplace?

PATRICK: Philosophically, you have to start presuming competence. So, when someone comes in, don't try and create a list of the things they're unable to do, because we don't do that to each other. We look at competence. We presume competence. Structurally and programmatically, we have an incredible human service partner who allows us to focus on the employment piece and the business side of things. The Nicholas Center, who I mentioned, I'm fortunate enough to be the co-founder. Their educators and staff really support our individuals, from those who need one-on-one support in a new task or learning a new skill all the way up to those who need a one hour check in every week or every month just to see how they're doing. It’s a really tailored and person-centered approach. It's what makes it special. I think the other thing that we do as a business that sets us apart is our human resource model. Our head of human resources is a licensed master social worker. That's a little different from your traditional HR department approach. It's an approach that I think corporate America and everyone should really try because one in four of us experience mental health challenges. As I mentioned earlier, when you make an adaptation for one, it ends up benefiting so many more. I, myself, benefit from the human resource approach that we have, along with so many of our employees.We realized quite early on that employment was good and it was great to get people in the door, but retention is really where the rubber meets the road. We have to get good at that too. With our model and our partnership with the Nicholas Center, we are able to focus on individual brilliance, meet people where they're at and bring them up from there. 73 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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AwareNow Podcast

THE INNOVATION OF INCLUSION

Exclusive Interview with Patrick Bardsley

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“In solving some of the biggest problems we have, we need different kinds of minds.” ALLIÉ: Acknowledging and accepting neurodiversity isn’t enough, not for sustainable change in our society regarding the stigma that surrounds it. Neurodiversity needs to be appreciated. Your model embodies this. What parts of your model and mindset can other businesses adopt to become more truly inclusive?

PATRICK: As I said earlier, I think it starts with presuming competence. I think it’s about reframing. That's why I love the term ‘neurodiversity’ by the way, because neurodiversity is really defined as natural deviations in neurological thinking, which we all have. This is a natural thing, and I think that language can be powerful to get hold of that and to move away from disability, even though it's a label that has been useful in the past to start celebrating neurodiversity and start talking about it as something that occurs naturally. You can then shift and start focusing on strengths and ability rather than looking at what people can't do or historically how things have been. It really starts with the language and the terminology, and then it's moving to new patterns of thought.

As you say, Allié, it’s celebrating accomplishments and achievements and recognizing abilities and the power of all kinds of minds for the value they bring to problem solving. In solving some of the biggest problems we have, we need different kinds of minds. I think Spectrum Designs demonstrates that with the products that we put out and the capabilities of the workforce we have. It's all in the messaging, and it's all in how you present it. Hopefully as we go into the next decade, the largest minority group on the planet, while not always the loudest voices, will be heard. We need to start asking questions. How do we share those voices? How do we celebrate those voices? How do we celebrate all kinds of minds? ∎

Learn more about Spectrum Designs: www.spectrumdesigns.org

74 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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‘MEET KELLI’


I hope people consider the impacts of their perspective. GABRIELLE SCHUERGER

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF MALAMA MAUI NUI 76 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

‘Alice in Wasteland’ by Melody Koerber Modeled by: Gabrielle Schuerger Photo Credit: Bryan Berkowitz www.IamAwareNow.com


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH GABRIELLE SCHUERGER

THE ART OF TRASH AN EXHIBITION & TRASHION SHOW

It’s been said that one’s trash is another’s treasure. This is certainly the case in Maui. The ‘Art of Trash’ Exhibition and Trashion Show are annual, juried events that inspire community members to reimagine previously used resources as elements for creative inspiration. Presented by Malama Maui Nui, the nonprofit led by Executive Director, Gabrielle Schuerger, these events educate and empower residents and visitors to nurture the environment. ALLIÉ: I’ve participated and attended a number of fashion shows in my life, but never a ‘trashion show’. Gabrielle, please share the concept.

GABRIELLE: The Art of Trash and Trashion Show on Maui is a whole event around the grand opening of the annual Art of Trash exhibition. We usually invite the community to a local mall space and open with music from a band that plays on instruments made of used materials such as gas cans and old surfboards. Then a decorated drum procession orchestrated by a local school teacher would kick off the Trashion Show. After the Trashion Show, the gallery would finally be open for the community to enjoy the Art of Trash exhibition.

THE ART OF TRASH EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH GABRIELLE SCHUERGER

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77 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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‘Scarab’ by Ruth Waddy Modeled by: Carah Chafin Photo Credit: Bryan Berkowitz 78 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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“The overarching idea is to explore, inspire and encourage creative reuse of materials that would otherwise be discarded.” GABRIELLE: (continued) Obviously, we’ve had to reimagine “events” since the onset of COVID and for Malama Maui Nui the Art of Trash and Trashion Show event has recently included a virtual gallery, a Trashion Show video and now an Art of Trash and Trashion Show magazine. Moving forward we hope that the digital aspect becomes an expansion of the annual event but we look forward to seeing our community and enjoying the art in person again.

However, to answer your question more directly, a ‘trashion show’ is a fashion show in which designers model or have models adorn fashion pieces that they have created from previously discarded or used materials. The piece must demonstrate a transformation of materials and actually be wearable. The overarching idea is to explore, inspire and encourage creative reuse of materials that would otherwise be discarded.

ALLIÉ: How many designers participate? Who are they? Are they young fashionistas or seasoned professionals?

GABRIELLE: Malama Maui Nui has been hosting the Art of Trash and Trashion Show for about the last 10 years or so. However, this event was started here on Maui about two decades ago, I believe, by a wonderful spitfire of a woman named Wilma Nakamura who has entrusted us to carry the event forward. Since its inception, hundreds of community members have participated. Participation is representative of our community including elementary school students, aspiring college students, parents, teachers, costume designers, seamstresses, engineers and everyone in between.

ALLIÉ: Off the runway, the creativity continues with the ‘Art of Trash’ exhibition. Please describe a few of your favorite pieces that have been submitted in the past.

GABRIELLE: Ooooo! This is the toughest question. Every year I think there is no way I could possibly be more shocked or impressed by the participants and their creations and yet every year I find myself equally, if not more surprised than the last. One piece that sticks out in my memory was a human form made out of old electrical wire. The form would move in response to the volume of noise in the room. So on opening night this piece just about danced. It was so fun to watch the children interact with the piece in their pursuit to try to understand what made it move.

ALLIÉ: I can only imagine how time and talent goes into this, from the organizers to the participants. For all the work that goes into the ‘Art of Trash’, what is it that you hope people get out of the experience?

GABRIELLE: Yes! I’m so amazed by and grateful for the time and talent that our community participants, jurors, photographers, producers, the Malama Maui Nui staff and Wilma put into this event every year. It’s incredible to witness the community collaboration that occurs each year to make this happen.

I hope people consider the impacts of their perspective. I hope they choose to see materials differently and thus manage them differently. There is a significant difference between a pile of scrap metal and a metal sculpture made 79 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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THE ART OF TRASH

Exclusive Interview with Gabrielle Schuerger

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“Our island home is viewed as an extension of ourselves and our family and is cared for as such.” GABRIELLE: (continued) from crap? Tens of thousands of dollars difference. Why? Is the difference in value simply in the eye of the beholder? If so, what could our environment and economy look like if we viewed ALL materials as if they had the same potential? Of course, the transformation that occurs extends far beyond the value of materials. Rather the greater transformation that is occurring, as described by our community participants, is their relationship with the materials, their environment and to each other as a result of participating in this creative process.

Perhaps most importantly, I hope people find inspiration and courage to use their voice to protect what they love. I hope people never underestimate the power and potential influence of their example; choosing to be and create the change they want to see in their community and by extension, the world.

ALLIÉ: Maui is a special place that your organization Malama Maui Nui works to support and sustain. What is it about the place and the people that you personally love most?

GABRIELLE: Our Maui Nui community includes the islands of Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe and each island and community is unique and so stunningly beautiful. One of the things I love the most is the connection that our communities have to the environment. This connection extends beyond the environment as a resource but rather a deep connection to those who cared for this place before us and our kuleana, or responsibility, and privilege to nurture this same place for those who will come after us. Our island home is viewed as an extension of ourselves and our family and is cared for as such. While this is not a novel concept, I’ve experienced it in practice here more than other places that I’ve lived and that’s really special to me. ∎

Learn more about the Art of Trash Exhibition & Trashion Show: www.malamamauinui.org/artoftrash

80 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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You can’t lead where you won’t go. PAUL S. ROGERS

TRANSFORMATION EXPERT, AWARENESS HELLRAISER & PUBLIC SPEAKER 82 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH PAUL S. ROGERS

UNPLUGGED

REVELATIONS THROUGH CONVERSATIONS Uncovering revelations through conversations, Paul makes people comfortable with being uncomfortable. The creator and host of AwareNow Unplugged, Paul S. Rogers taps into people’s truths, providing permission to be raw and real through comically prompted but completely unscripted dialogue. ALLIÉ: An inspiring writer and speaker, you are also an incredible host. For those who don’t know the story of how AwareNow Unplugged began, please share the story of its beginning.

PAUL: It started with being totally blown away with the stories of the ambassadors and the wonderful causes they represent. I thought how could I help try and shine a further light on the person behind the story. I knew I really wanted to dig into the fun side of their personalities and get them to reveal some great stories they may not otherwise have shared. I approached Jack and Allie with this mad scheme and they were wonderful enough to give me some leeway to show it to them.

I wanted the interview to have a chat show/game vibe in front of a studio audience. What better way to make people feel relaxed and fun than a completely random off the cuff section of amusing questions about things that they have experienced or happened to them. I just love funny stories. As Jack immortally said, a show that takes you into your comfort zone. So far the guests have said, “Wow, I never thought I would tell that story today.”

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83 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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“I think being able to be vulnerable and being ok to be so is such a great way to level the playing field.” ALLIÉ: You’re very good at crafting conversation concepts. Before AwareNow Unplugged, you had ‘Release The Genie’, a brilliant podcast where guests become genies. I was honored to be one of them and so enjoyed the experience. For those unfamiliar with the show, please share the concept.

PAUL: Ah yes… I remember your turn as a guest Genie. You were awesome and you gave a rapped version of your inspiring quote, which was a real highlight of the show. The idea for the Release the Genie is that I get to cast the guest as the Genie. In true genie style, I get to ask for my three wishes from the wise Genie guest. The idea actually came from my five year old whilst watching Aladdin, both versions, for x number of times. I thought, wouldn't it be great if you could capture that raw energy when the genie comes out of the lamp? I have met so many amazing people and been able to hear their amazing and thoroughly inspiring stories of overcoming adversity and a real release of the genie.

ALLIÉ: Have you always been a conversationalist, Paul? Is engaging in conversation a natural gift you’ve always had? Or a refined talent you’ve worked to perfect?

PAUL: I always liked to talk. I can see from my son that he has inherited the same. He asks ‘Can I just tell you something?’ It is so funny. I think when I was a lawyer I was given a structure and a pathway of being able to extract instructions/stories from clients so that I could then advise them. I think that really helped me. I have always enjoyed public speaking, but I also really want to have fun at the same time. Humor for me is a great means of communicating a serious message in a memorable way without taking away from its meaning.

ALLIÉ: There is vulnerability when sharing your voice, which is why some are uncomfortable doing so. Paul, on and off the camera, how is it that you are able to make people feel so safe and so seen when they speak with you?

PAUL: I think being able to be vulnerable and being ok to be so is such a great way to level the playing field. You can't lead where you won’t go. So, I am happy to share my mistakes and be able to laugh at myself. I look at any time I get to talk to someone as a chance for collaboration. I love listening to them talk and then the freedom of being able to spark off each other.

ALLIÉ: Let’s imagine it’s five years from now: who is the rock star you have before you on the latest episode of AwareNow Unplugged?

PAUL: Ok, I am going to be greedy on this one. My goal is to help inspiring people share their story and for us to see the real person behind that story. Knowing that AwareNow Nation is on a meteoric rise and attracting awesome people, it is exciting to see where that goes. I would have Jack and you pm to share your story, which you are writing right now. I would also have Elizabeth Blake-Thomas on, as an Oscar-winning movie director of the film that tells the story of the life of my wife and myself and its cast. I would invite celebrities who don't do as many interviews but who are helping great causes which people may not know about. 84 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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UNPLUGGED

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ALLIÉ: Let’s unplug and get personal right now. You have had many wins and many losses in your life, as have we all. For you, Paul, what was your hardest loss? What was your greatest win?

PAUL: I will start with the easy one. My wife will say that she is my greatest win. On a serious note, my hardest loss has also been the start of my greatest win. The hardest loss was the near-loss of me in my accident in March 2018. Everything I knew and thought was gone in an instant. I have had to relearn everything since: walking, talking, boundaries, likes, dislikes. But my win is that without that I would have never met you and the wonderful AwareNow family and all the great people I have talked to and shared ideas with. To find purpose and light in things has been a really big win for me. Plus I have a really cool story to tell people too!

ALLIÉ: In addition to being the creator and host of AwareNow Unplugged, you are also an Awareness Ties Official Ambassador and an AwareNow Columnist. I’d like to end this conversation the way you begin each article in your column. Please share your favorite ‘Release The Genie Fact’, and tell us why it’s your favorite.

PAUL: I love looking at song titles, movie lines or common statements that ask questions. The Genie gives them the answers. Some of my favorites: A genie knows who let the dogs out. It was a genie who told Cher how to turn back time, and a genie knows Victoria's secret. ∎

AWARENOW UNPLUGGED

www.awarenessties.us/unplugged

While most interview series attempt to take you out of your comfort zone, AwareNow ‘Unplugged’ does just the opposite.

Host Paul Rogers takes his guests into their comfort zone with a little game of his own creation that's guided purely by chance. With the luck of the draw, sides sometimes never seen are revealed.

85 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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I am proud to say that the work we do at Boxed Water has an impact on everyone. DARYN KUIPERS

CEO OF BOXED WATER 86 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH DARYN KUIPERS

BOXED WATER IS BETTER

THE PACKAGE IS ONLY PART OF WHAT MAKES IT THE BEST Saving the planet from plastic one carton at a time, Boxed Water is a small team taking on a big plastic industry. More than 10 years ago (in 2009), they were the first to offer a sustainable alternative to plastic water bottles. Obsessed with providing the purest water in the most sustainable way, Boxed Water is led by CEO, Daryn Kuipers, who joins us to share the brilliance behind the box. ALLIÉ: Recyclable, refillable, and BPA free, Boxed Water is boxed in a 92% plant-based package. Such a smart, simple solution to the ‘plastic pandemic’ we find ourselves in. Where did the concept for the carton come from? Please share how the box of Boxed Water began.

DARYN: When you stop and look around - you start to notice that plastic is everywhere! In the 6th grade, we were told to cut all of our plastic 6 pack soda holders so WHEN they got in the ocean, they would not get stuck around the beaks of birds. Then again in college, we went on a trip to the Galapagos Islands and saw trash on the beaches and ocean floor. A few friends used to talk about ideas for business as we had all started a few different things and were always thinking about ways to make/do things better. And one of them worked for a logistics company and brought up shipping empty water bottles to be filled, and how crazy that was. Mind you this was before sustainability was cool and ESG was event an acronym.

BOXED WATER IS BETTER EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH DARYN KUIPERS

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87 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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It’s the little steps along the way that make all the difference. DARYN KUIPERS

CEO OF BOXED WATER 88 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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“…we have already stopped over 100 million plastic bottles from polluting our planet. And we’re just getting started.” ALLIÉ: With all things, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. No doubt, your packaging is perfect. Now, let’s talk about your water. Inside your carton is water that’s not from Fiji? But isn’t that where the best water comes from? Of course, not. There are many sources for pure, perfect water. What’s your source and how is it reducing your carbon footprint?

DARYN: We use municipal water so that we can fill closer to the consumer and reduce our carbon footprint. West of the Mississippi River, our water is sourced from water that flows through the Wasatch National Forest. Product that you receive east of the Mississippi River is sourced from Lake Michigan. At Boxed Water we use an 8-step water purification process which includes reverse osmosis, carbon filtration, and mineral removal for purity, giving Boxed Water its clean, crisp taste. For product safety, we use a UV light and ozonation process. Boxed Water is free of chromium, arsenic, MTBE, chlorine, fluoride, and trace pharmaceuticals.

Overall, we believe that pure 100% water that is safe and free of any minerals or dissolved solids (yes there are bottled waters with dissolved solids) that is sourced as close to a consumer as possible is a great product for any consumer and the planet.

ALLIÉ: The methodology of Boxed Water is basic, more or less. Use less plastic, plant more trees. In addition to your sustainable product, you are implementing sustainable practices to refill forests. To date, Boxed Water has planted over 1,000,000 trees in our National Forests. You’ve invited the public to be part of your work. For every social media post with #BetterPlanet, you plant 2 trees. But that’s just the beginning… Tell us about your partnerships with 1% for the Planet and the National Forest Foundation.

DARYN: I am proud to say that the work we do at Boxed Water has an impact on everyone. The fact that we have planted more than 1,000,000 trees in partnership with the National Forest Foundation means that we are replenishing the forests affected by wildfire, disease, and other natural threats. Trees that are planted help stabilize the watersheds that provide millions of Americans with clean water. Planting helps restore forest cover and offers vital wildlife habitat for threatened and endangered species. Trees sequester carbon dioxide, fighting the effects of our warming climate.

That initiative was all started by becoming a proud partner with1% for the Planet back in 2015. It’s a global network of businesses and organizations, dedicated to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment. By contributing one percent of our net annual sales to grassroots environmental groups, Boxed Water is positioning itself to affect real change. And we aren’t stopping there, we are pushing further to make more of an impact as well through other actions like cleaning up beaches with the Ocean Blue Project.

ALLIÉ: 8.8 million metric tons of plastic wind up in our oceans and beaches every year. Here enters Boxed Water with a goal to clean up 3,000 miles of beaches across the country. Tell us about your friends at Ocean Blue Project and how you are supporting their work.

DARYN: At Boxed Water we approach our mission to reduce plastic usage from all angles, including literally taking it into our own hands by cleaning up 3,000 miles of beaches with our partner, Ocean Blue Project, as well as engaging additional brand partners and customers to participate in this initiative. We’ve hosted clean ups all over the United States during September, Coastal Clean Up Month with Ocean Blue Project and I’m proud of how many volunteers came out and cleaned the beach with us. 89 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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BOXED WATER IS BETTER

Exclusive Interview with Daryn Kuipers

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DARYN: (continued) Richard and the Ocean Blue Project team are passionate about what they do and we feel that partnering with an organization that is so focus on cleaning up our beaches but also educating communities about how everyone can make a change an positive impact on the situation is really what makes them such a great partner for our brand and mission.

In addition we are working hard to educate consumers on the fact that plastic is made from oil, and only 9% of plastic is ever recycled (this number is declining due to China no longer accepting US plastics). All of that plastic will remain in landfills and oceans for 700+ years – keep in mind that 50 billion single use plastic water bottles are consumed in the U.S. each year.

So, serving up Boxed Water as a renewable option with our 92% plant-based carton is the next best choice when reusable water bottles are not available. In doing so, we have already stopped over 100 million plastic bottles from polluting our planet. And we’re just getting started.

ALLIÉ: I agree with the statement on your carton. Boxed water is indeed better. Speaking of ‘better’... What’s better than water in a box? Fruit flavored Boxed Water Is Even Better! So is Boxed Matcha. Please share details on the evolution of your product line. What’s the latest and greatest? And what’s next?

DARYN: Flavors are coming back! I’m still in awe of how quickly our flavors (Lemon, Blackberry, Cucumber and Grapefruit) sold out. But I can promise you that they will be coming back soon. We’ve actually already started shipping to some of our top accounts and will be fully available online by June! Our broad goal with flavors was to continue to make “conscious consumerism” easier for everyone. Not everyone enjoys water without a flavor and we wanted to make sure that we were giving our consumers as many sustainable options as possible.

ALLIÉ: Until Boxed Water, this sustainable solution had never been done by anyone. For those who want to do something that’s never been done to make this world better, what advice do you have?

DARYN: You may see what appears to be an easy route to achieve something you want, but don’t expect it to fall into your lap. You need to put in the effort to go get it. You know in your gut if it is too good to be true. If you have a dream and a vision that you believe in, you are going to make it happen, but you need to be patient and considerate about everything you do. It’s the little steps along the way that make all the difference. ∎

Learn more about Boxed Water:

www.boxedwater.com

90 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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Appreciation blurs the lines between neurodivergent and neurotypical people and brings us all together as humans. TAL ANDERSON

ACTRESS, MODEL, FILM EDITOR & AWARENESS TIES OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR FOR DISABILITY AWARENESS 92 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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PERSONAL STORY BY TAL ANDERSON

THE 3 A’S OF APRIL IN RELATION TO AUTISM

April is Autism Awareness month, and as an autistic person I’ve grown up participating in this month of awareness, in which people talk about autism in a somewhat positive way. This is all great, but the idea that we should be aware of autism for one month out of the year and then forget about it and everyone living in the world who is autistic for the rest of the year? This just never made sense to me. An awareness month for any topic or cause should be, at the very least, an attempt to improve the lives of the people living that reality all year long. Although it is a great starting point, without ACCEPTANCE awareness can sometimes even be harmful. The world is usually being exposed to autism by medical experts as a “thing” to understand or treat, instead of being educated about it by people who are actually autistic. It is nice to be aware and it is nice that autism in general is no longer a secret word, but the time for awareness has passed because it just isn’t enough anymore.

When you listen to people who are actually autistic, you become aware of a completely different perspective, and you begin to see that autistic people not only want to be noticed, but they want to be accepted for who they are instead of viewed as something defective that needs to be cured. Neurodivergence is something to be celebrated and, in the end, appreciated, because the world is a diverse place to live in and our differences are what make us human. This is why disability representation in Hollywood on screen is so important. To see disabled actors portraying characters of all types and achieving success in their field is an important visual for the world to see and to celebrate.

AWARENESS allows people to feel good about supporting something and serves the individual more than anything else. ACCEPTANCE changes lives and enriches everyone’s experience with neurodiversity. APPRECIATION blurs the lines between neurodivergent and neurotypical people and brings us all together as humans. ∎

TAL ANDERSON

www.awarenessties.us/tal-anderson

"I’m autistic, and for me that means that my brain functions differently than others. It also means that sometimes I need more time to process, and my responses to situations can be slow, or unexpected. Having a disability is just part of who I am… but I’m just like everyone else, except that sometimes I need help or accommodations to do things that other people can do without them.”

93 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


It is time to shift our perspective and use our most powerful tool: our hearts. PAUL S. ROGERS

TRANSFORMATION EXPERT, AWARENESS HELLRAISER & PUBLIC SPEAKER 94 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘RELEASE THE GENIE’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY PAUL S. ROGERS

A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE HOW DO YOU SEE THE WORLD?

Release The Genie fact: A Genie knows why a round pizza comes in a square box. For ‘The Earth Edition’ of AwareNow, I am going to take the Earth as being the world we live in, with the fascinating concept of perspective and how we see our world.

On one hand, our world is a place of wonderful, abundant natural resources and beauty, that has been diagnosed with an unfortunate case of humans. Or from another perspective, it is a chunk of spinning rock hurtling through endless space at thousands of miles per hour, orbiting one bright star.

You are most probably familiar with the image of two people looking at a number on the floor with one claiming it is a 6 and the other claiming it is a 9. In any argument, there is always a slim chance that the other person is right. In this instance they are both correct.

“Though we see the same world, we see it through different eyes.” - Virginia Woolf What if a person who can see the 9 is willing, and prepared, to move to a different location. They can then also see the 6. They are then blessed with an awareness of being able to see from different perspectives. History is littered with these kinds of people. Whilst they were alive, they were regarded as troublemakers and were shunned by society. In some cases, they were even put to death for their views. Now they are regarded as visionaries for their time, and their words remain just as powerful today as they were many years ago.

“Everything we see is a perspective not the truth.” - Marcus Aurelius From a 6 perspective, we believe that we are all separate and alone. From a 9 perspective, we are all connected. So we are both the individual waves on the sea and part of the same ocean.

One perspective is that the external world is a reflection of our internal world. It is true wisdom not to make a promise when you’re happy, not to reply when you are angry and make no decisions when you are sad. It is easy to see how we can create both the current and future circumstances and environment of our own worlds.

“The world is but a canvas to the imagination.” - Henry Thoreau So, how do we perceive our world?

Intellectually, we would say by using our five senses to relay information to our electronic switchboard: the brain. A biological masterpiece for perception but by no means different from any other animal.

We have all witnessed so-called unexplained events. For example, thinking about someone and suddenly they call. Feeling someone’s positive or negative energy when we are around them. Sensing that someone we know, who may be thousands of miles away, is not doing so well. We then reach out to them and find that our gut feeling was right. A 6 would say it’s a coincidence. But a 9 would know it’s an ability to perceive invisible energies. 95 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


AwareNow Podcast

A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE

Written and Narrated by Paul S. Rogers

https://awarenow.us/podcast/a-matter-of-perspective

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“Several studies have shown that the magnetic signals generated by the heart have the capacity to affect individuals around us.” What really makes us human is our feelings and our hearts’ ability to create, choose and change. The heart is the most powerful source of electromagnetic energy in the human body, producing the largest rhythmic electromagnetic field of any of the body's organs. The heart's electrical field is about 60 times greater in amplitude than the electrical activity generated by the brain.

The magnetic field produced by the heart can be detected up to three feet away from the body in all directions. Several studies have shown that the magnetic signals generated by the heart have the capacity to affect individuals around us.

What I have found and seen is that those who can see both the 6 and 9 are in the minority. When two or more of these people meet, the connection is deeply profound and the discussions they have are always beyond amazing. It is not bound by time or distance. These people are happy to operate outside the normal routine and keep the world honest with their views. This is why we have such a great number of ambassadors and columnists who are brave enough and unafraid to share their stories.

To see true lasting change in our world, it is time to shift our perspective and use our most powerful tool: our hearts. As Rumi said, “Your

heart knows the way.” ∎ PAUL S. ROGERS

Transformation Expert, Awareness Hellraiser & Public Speaker www.awarenessties.us/paul-rogers PAUL S. ROGERS is a keynote public speaking coach, “Adversity to hope, opportunity and prosperity. “ Transformation expert, awareness Hellraiser, life coach, Trauma TBI, CPTSD mentor, train crash and cancer survivor, public speaking coach, Podcast host “Release the Genie” & Best-selling author. His journey has taken him from from corporate leader to kitesurfer to teacher on first nations reserve to today. Paul’s goal is to inspire others to find their true purpose and passion.

96 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com



Curiosity and creativity are needed… KARI BLISS

SUSTAINABILITY LEADER AT PADNOS 98 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH KARI BLISS

SELECTING SUSTAINABILITY CHOOSING POSSIBILITY OVER EXPENDABILITY

PADNOS, a recycling and scrap management company, has gone from rags to riches by finding value in the things others discard or take for granted, by seeing possibility where others see expendability, by turning hubcaps into art and raw talent into valued expertise. Kari Bliss leads the development and execution of strategic customer experience & sustainability initiatives at PADNOS. She ensures these initiatives effectively enhance business performance and support the long-term interests of those she serves. ALLIÉ: Sustainability is a term often used to describe a product, but the sustainability of a ‘process’ is important to consider as well. With your work, Kari, you support both. From not only what is done but to how it’s done, please tell us about what you do to support sustainability in your line of work.

KARI: It’s a big topic. We work on our internal sustainability, like calculating our carbon footprint and making sure that we're making good choices for the environment day to day. We also help our customers who typically have someone in sustainability or someone who has an interest in sustainability, but they don't really know where to go next. So, we will start by coming in and doing a waste audit and helping them identify some low hanging fruit, some things that they could do to easily improve. We also do sustainability reporting for them. If they make an improvement, we can calculate the carbon impact that it has had. We also help them build closed loop programs. Sometimes there's scrap that's being generated from their manufacturing process that we can take and remanufacture so that it can be reutilized either there or at a different manufacturer.

SELECTING SUSTAINABILITY EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH KARI BLISS

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99 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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“It’s just getting them the right equipment and the right technology.” ALLIÉ: What is one of the most creative sustainable solutions you’ve seen inside or outside of the office?

KARI: I think creativity is super important. Curiosity and creativity are needed for the work that I do, because no two situations are ever exactly the same. Most customers will tell you they don't have enough space. They don't have anywhere to put the materials, and it's just easier to send used materials to the landfill… It's hard for me to point out the most creative sustainable solution, because I feel like there's a tremendous amount of creativity that has to go into every single customer solution. These aren't one-and-done sorts of solutions. They have to be customized and modified. An example of that would be a customer whose generation of scrap is a metal material, which is fairly easy to recycle and there's high value. There's a lot of ROI on that for them, but then they also have the generation of small volumes of film and banding, along with water bottles and material from their lunchroom. In this case, we will work with them to come up with a type of equipment that can bail multiple types of material in one system in one machine. Options like this can really make the solution more accessible for people to do than what they originally thought. It’s just getting them the right equipment and the right technology.

ALLIÉ: In life, little things can make a big difference. A little thing I’d like to talk about that most people don’t think about is plastic banding. Miles of plastic banding accumulates at plants every day. PADNOS has come up with a solution. Care to share?

KARI: Plastic banding typically comes in two different material types. It's either PET or polypropylene. Both types can be recycled, but not together. That's one of the biggest challenges with plastics. So, we worked with Sweed, a very reputable company. They make a great product that’s called a banding chopper. The particular unit that we usually recommend comes on a slider stand. It's not very big; it's something that you could fit in a regular truck. The stand usually comes on wheels, and it can fit over either a four by four box, a little hopper, or a barrel. So, if you use the slider stand, you can chop your PET banding on one side and then slide it over and chop your polypropylene banding on the other side. The way it works best is when we put this equipment in line with the process. What I see when I go to a manufacturer is the mistake of trying to collect all the bandings from all over the plant. As I mentioned, no one ever thinks they have enough space. Just imagine… Some of these plants are 100,000 or more square feet. They have boxes of banding taking up space all over the plant floor. Then they have people move these boxes around to various locations and maybe not even chopping it. They are putting it on a van trailer and literally shipping air. By using the chopper at the source of generation, wherever the strapping, now, they're really densifying that material as it sits. It's a 30 to 1 densification ratio. So, that's 30 less trips around the plant. That's 30 less spots where material has to sit and take up valuable space. And now they can actually get a refund on that material, as well as having a lower freight cost and lower carbon footprint when they go to ship it.

ALLIÉ: A month ago an announcement was made about PADNOS Ocean™ - a line of high-performance resin, compounded directly from Ocean Bound Plastic. For those not familiar with OBP, can you explain the problems and share your solution?

KARI: Many island communities throughout the world simply don’t have space for a landfill. The few islands that do have landfills are currently or will soon be struggling with capacity. They simply don’t have the land resources we have in the U.S. So, something has to be done.

Often what happens is that big packer trucks, the same sort of trucks you would have here in the U.S., will just pull right up to a barge or some sort of boat and try to dump the plastic on. Well, guess what… It blows all over the place. It's loose and free flowing. It ends up in the ocean. Sometimes it even blows right out of the dump. There's not enough barrier between where the dump is and where the ocean is. So, that’s where it ends up. It's less about people littering. I realize that people can be irresponsible, but this problem is much bigger than people accidentally throwing a water bottle over their boat while they're out traveling around. It’s more about people who live on these islands where they just don't have any access to be able to recycle. So, we worked locally with Island Green Living in the Virgin Islands. They are very passionate about the environment, and we gave them the tools and the equipment that they needed to be able to train people locally on what to do and how to keep these materials sorted. They're bailing the materials, and then we are buying them and putting them right into processes here in Michigan. 100 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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AwareNow Podcast

SELECTING SUSTAINABILITY

Exclusive Interview with Kari Bliss

https://awarenow.us/podcast/selecting-sustainability

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“I now see people really coming together…” ALLIÉ: Providing both commercial and residential service, not only do you accept recyclable materials, but you pay for them as well. That said, it seems like everyone and their mothers should be working with you. With all of the benefits, are there any barriers?

KARI: We're really set up to handle industrial streams of material, which means large volumes of material. So, your typical community member may have a small amount of plastic scrap (a few milk jugs, some laundry detergent bottles, etc.), but that really is handled better by municipal or material recovery facilities that are typically ran by a county, city, or sometimes privately held. Those organizations are designed to have that mixed stream of materials come through. They sort your number ones and number twos and the papers from each other. They bail that material. And that's when we step in and take over. We buy that material and process it. So, it's understanding where you fit in the system and what sort of resources you have to utilize to be able to recycle the materials. Now, with metals, as I mentioned earlier, that has a high value. Even if you're a community member and all you did was clean out your garage, maybe you've got an old bike and lawnmower. Those miscellaneous things, if they have at least 25% metal content, that's worth bringing in and you will get paid for it – especially your non-ferrous metals. It’s your old electrical cables, old Christmas tree lights… all of that has a value and you will get paid for it. Most people don't know. We're happy to work with them.

ALLIÉ: We’ve come a long way with regard to sustainability in our society, but we have so far to go. What are you most excited and inspired by for the future of sustainable practices?

KARI: The best way for me to answer that is to say people are coming together. It used to be very siloed. You'd have your engineers working on one thing, you'd have your designers thinking about things differently, and then you'd have your resident suppliers on a completely different path. None of these people were sitting at the same table to try and solve the problems together. All they would see is what was in it for them. Using a recycled material might be a little more challenging or not quite as uniform as using a prime material. And so they would just shut down and not want to work it out. Instead, I now see people really coming together and saying, “Okay, we have to solve this. How are we gonna do it? What are we gonna do? Let's try some things…” It’s getting all the stakeholders together… There are more partnerships happening with municipalities and nonprofits to try and figure it out. At PADNOS, we've been doing work with Goodwill and other nonprofit organizations that are really great resources. You can have a training component where people are learning new skills who may have a barrier to work. Now, it's also helping to solve some of the labor challenges that we have in the market where there's just not enough people doing these kinds of jobs.

ALLIÉ: Well, here's to ‘unsiloing’ things and to becoming more sustainable along the way, Kari. I can't thank you enough for educating us about sustainability and helping us all become a bit more aware now. Thank you. ∎ Connect with Kari Bliss and learn more about her work at PADNOS: www.linkedin.com/in/karibliss

101 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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I am fascinated with all the aspects that the natural world lays in front of us… LES STROUD

SURVIVAL EXPERT, FILMMAKER AND MUSICIAN 102 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘THE INSPIRE PROJECT’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY TODD BROWN

PRESERVATION

PRESERVING NATURE IS PART OF SELF-PRESERVATION A LESSON FROM SURVIVORMAN LES STROUD My son and I turned on the television in 2005 and watched a show entitled “Survivorman.” To quote Michael Scott of The Office, “It was about a guy who would go out in the middle of nowhere and just try not to die.” All kidding aside, Les Stroud’s personality and ability to teach on camera was absolutely magnetic. Now, almost twenty years later, Les Stroud has been credited with inventing a genre of television, setting world records, and connecting millions of people worldwide of all ages to Nature through music, television, and film. He does not just talk the talk; he walks the walk. We had a chance to connect and discuss biophilia, environmentalism, and what to do when it seems like everything is going to hell in a handbasket. TODD: Why do you do?

LES: That's an intense question! I will try to be succinct about it, but it's complicated. It's almost like asking, why does a concert pianist play the piano from five years of age? My cop-out answer is I don't know. Since I was five years of age, I've always been very passionate about anything to do with the natural world. I was not raised within the scope of that. My parents were not outdoor people. We lived in a suburb, but I have always had this intrinsic desire to be connected to nature. Perhaps if we look at the term biophilia (our innate human desire to connect with Nature), with me it's on turbocharge. I am fascinated with all the aspects that the natural world lays in front of us, whether it's an ant or a majestic mountainous landscape. And I don't know why. It certainly has given me a sense of purpose in my own life, and when I think all is for naught, I remember this connection to nature and my opportunity to be a facilitator for other people to connect to nature. I just go with it.

TODD: When life feels like it is out of control what is something that you do to center yourself?

LES: Do you mean other than to submit to addictions of eating the wrong food and drinking too much wine (laughing)? I think it's still always worth saying that because in terms of relating to everybody, you know, it can be a temptation when the stress is overwhelming and the world is overwhelming to easily answer to our simple addictions, whatever they may be. It could be chewing our fingernails, it could be eating the wrong foods, it could be becoming a bully, it could be when you get older, it could be taking in too much alcohol or what have you. So those roads are there. I'm as human as anyone else, but to walk the road that is much better for me, as cliche as it sounds, is simply to get out into Nature to take a walk. I have dogs, so I will try to do an extended four-hour walk through a bush area. That kind of time in Nature can do me right. Yesterday I did one of those walks, and I needed a bit of a break, so I'm all sweaty and breathing everything at the top of the hill. I just lied down for 20 minutes looking up through the trees, and my dogs ended up lying down beside me, and then I walked home. That's what I do. It sounds like a cliche, but I do get out in Nature. 103 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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We should remember what our personalities are and then apply that personality to a cause. LES STROUD

SURVIVAL EXPERT, FILMMAKER AND MUSICIAN 104 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


TODD: I know there's empirical research that shows the physiological impact that Nature has on blood pressure, etc.

LES: It's science. It's proven that a patient in a hospital will need fewer painkillers and heal faster if they can simply see a tree outside their hospital window. Think of how beneficial it is for a patient (or those of us who are stressing out) and that requires fewer painkillers, including the kinds we can just take ourselves, such as bad food, for example (that's a pain killer) if we were to not only nature but go out into it. It's why we have pictures of mountain ranges and river valleys in our homes. Our subconscious is saying, I'd really want to be there, and it's what I want to look at. I don't want to look out my window at the suburbs. I want to look up a window with this mountainscape. That's why we have paintings and photographs on our walls. It's our desire to be there.

TODD: With all the human driven devastation to the environment, it can feel so overwhelming to be one person trying to make a change. What advice can you give people to help overcome what seems like an insurmountable task?

LES: Well, for starters, we must become very self-aware of what kind of personality we are. Because there are myriad opportunities for us, each individually, to connect with Nature and do our part. For me, I like to teach, and I like to get people connected to nature through media, so I make Nnature films. Because of my films, I've been rewarded with stories of people who've dedicated their lives to connecting to Nature and even protecting Nature. My work fits well with my personality. I also like to get into the heat of battle, and on occasion I've gone out and joined organizati. Or the Dolphin Project. There are those of us who are good at lobbying governments, writing up proposals, and putting together a petition. It took me a long time to figure out what can I do rather than get very frustrated because I wanted to be down on the beaches cleaning up the garbage and plastic. I want to be over on the boat, stopping the poachers from getting the whales. I want to stop the politicians from making the wrong decisions. This all can be very overwhelming to figure out. First, ask what's my personality and what am I best at? I'm between some boots on the ground stuff and my love of media and entertainment and filmmaking and songs, music, and bringing other people along. My work helps when I hear someone say I headed up this organization, and it made a big difference in this river valley because I was inspired by watching Survivorman when I was 14 years old. The story has this whole cyclical thing. But all of this can be very overwhelming. We should remember what our personalities are and then apply that personality to a cause. Also, remember that all of this is just as overwhelming for you as it is for all of us. We all feel overwhelmed. You're not the only one. I feel overwhelmed too. We must distill it down to the things that we can do. I remind myself of this one main point. Yes, we may lose some species along the way; that is irreversible. But the overall resiliency of this planet, if we come to a demise, leave it alone or get out of its way, it bounces back very quickly. COVID has shown that. COVID stopped the massive onslaught of American fishermen that go north of the border in Canada to fish in certain lakes every summer. In one summer of this pandemic-driven moratorium, game fish populations exploded; they all bounced back. All it took was one year. Now imagine taking that, and you say, well, I'm good at lobbying governments. I'm going to get the government to put a 10-year moratorium on all sport fishing in these regions across Northern Ontario. Think of what that could do!

TODD: There are so many people that are out in the world that talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. What is it that makes you different?

LES: Can I also interrupt you to give a word of caution about what we do get behind? Do your research well because we can be very misled by causes. For example, I'm not suggesting we shouldn't ban single-use plastic straws. But understand, pardoning the bad pun here, that we're trying to do that to save the sea turtles in the ocean, but really, the straws are just a drop in the ocean. It's the fishing nets and the industry that are far more egregiously destroying the ocean than our straws. Not that we shouldn't ban the straws, but don't get all caught up and put all your energy into something that is a small percentage of that big garbage plastic dump in the middle of the Pacific. It's much more than plastic straws. Do your research and focus on the stuff that will make a big difference. I think that's important. Ban the straws. Yes. But don't get caught up thinking we just won a major battle because we banned straws. 105 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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Music continues to inform my emotions towards Nature. LES STROUD

SURVIVAL EXPERT, FILMMAKER AND MUSICIAN 106 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


“Do your research well because we can be very misled by causes.” TODD: How has music influenced your professional journey?

LES: The way you've asked that question makes me think of two moments in my day-to-day existence that are two elements of my world that make me emotional, that can bring me to tears. One is witnessing a horrifying environmental intrusion, disasters, and degradations, whether seeing a beautiful, pristine valley destroyed or seeing a wild animal tortured. The second thing is hearing powerful music and lyrical content about nature that can bring me to tears. John Denver – and his lyrics – is the one artist that, to this day, if I'm watching his live wildlife concert he did when he was 50 years old or so, it still brings me to tears when he sings songs in that concert. Music continues to inform my emotions towards Nature. But funny enough, pragmatically, there is a separation between music and Nature. There's Nature, and there's music, and I don't go out into Nature and make a lot of music. I come home and do it. And when I'm home, I'm not out in Nature. I let them intertwine as I create. But I'm now changing that. Now I'm putting my guitar on my back, going out and sitting by a tree and writing out there. Sure, at some point, I'll stop writing about leaves falling to the ground, and other more poignant, deeper lyrics will come to me.

TODD: Looking back at all the different things that you've been involved in over the years, were these opportunities personally driven or were they presented?

LES: That's an interesting question. It's almost a question about life and success. I do not sit idle for very long. If no opportunities are sitting in front of me, often opportunities come my way, and I'm blessed for that. And someone calls me and says, hey, would you be interested in this? I never look an opportunity in the mouth. I check it all out. But if I'm sitting in a span of time of weeks, months, with no opportunities in front of me, I begin to create and invent my own opportunities. I make them materialize in front of me. I just develop them myself. It's both worlds, it's taking advantage of what I see, or I make something if I see nothing. And when someone says, “Oh, he's such an opportunist,” I consider that a compliment, not a diss. I think people who say stuff like, “Well, you know, you're such an opportunist,” I think they misunderstand. They allow their own fears and timidity to get in the way of seeing opportunities. Absolutely. I'm an opportunist and happy to be so because, boy, it's given me a great life. ∎

LES STROUD

www.lesstroud.ca

Instagram: @reallesstroud

YouTube: www.youtube.com/c/SurvivormanLesStroud

TODD BROWN

Awareness Ties Columnist www.awarenessties.us/todd-brown Dr. Todd Brown is a winner of multiple education awards, including the U.S. Congressional Teacher of the Year Award, U.S. Henry Ford Innovator Award, Education Foundation Innovator of the Year, and Air Force Association STEM Teacher of the Year. Dr. Brown is the creator and founder of the Inspire Project and cocreator of Operation Outbreak, which was named the Reimagine Education Award for Best Hybrid Program in the world. He is also an Education Ambassador for the United Nations and an Educational Ambassador of the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

107 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


Not harming is a practice that extends to all beings. RAIN PHOENIX

ARTIST, ACTIVIST AND FOUNDER OF LAUNCHLEFT Photo Credit: Brian Bowen Smith 108 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘LAUNCHLEFT’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY RAIN PHOENIX

DO NO HARM

VALUES IN VEGANISM AND HUMANISM When I was 5 years old and my brother River was 7 we were about to fry eggs for breakfast when it dawned on us that they were baby chickens. My family had been vegetarian for a short while and so we asked our parents what was the difference between eggs and meat? Weren’t they in fact baby chickens just as a burger had once been a cow? They couldn’t find a good argument to the contrary and so after my dad spread the last of his beloved butter on a piece of toast the decision was made to go vegan. This was soon followed by a ceremonious burial of all our leather items. The vegan Phoenix family was born. At the time the only vegan alternative to meat was tofu and we had to search out a local tofu maker in the small town of Winter Park Florida. Soon after this my sister Summer was born vegan. There was something so powerful about our collective commitment to not harm any living thing.

A long while later in adulthood I admittedly had some years of ‘dabbling in dairy’ and even at some junctures ate eggs! I rationalized it by making sure they were ‘farm raised’ or ‘grass fed’ or any and all the ways I could make myself believe I was not harming - the lines of which were ever increasingly blurry. I killed mosquitoes and washed ants down the sink and even bought leather… The cruelty of life and sad moments I had experienced had left me calloused and caused a disregard for the voiceless.

I should say here that during all of this my family had remained ‘militant vegan’ and when they found out I was not, my guess is it pained them but they never judged me for it - if it even came up, it only served as a reminder for me to consider that I had in fact been one of the catalysts for us going vegan in 1977.

So I began to take a hard look at my choices… the ways that I explained away through laziness and convenience harming other living things.

I became vegan again many years ago now, and have since watched the world awaken more to veganism.

While there is still a large part of the population reluctant to take animals off their plates, it does seem to be a more widely acceptable option. I think as more people realize the vegan option is actually a lot simpler than they originally thought, things will begin to shift more rapidly. Something that grounds me, is to remember how simple it really is. I don’t have to actively do anything. In fact, I’m simply choosing not to do something…I no longer eat, wear or exploit animals.

That said, not harming is a practice that extends to all beings. If I’m mad at the world, cutting people off in traffic, judging others for their choices and overall being more self righteous, is that truly not harming?

I guess what I’ve come to is, not harming means not only not eating animals, but also not judging anyone else’s choices. It means I do everything I can to truly embody not harming. 109 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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“There was something so powerful about our collective commitment to not harm any living thing.” It is no small task, keeping the mind and heart compassionate and accepting when innocent animals are being slaughtered for selfish reasons, and even more maddening when experts equate animal products with the many diseases we humans face, not to mention the destruction of the planet…

In this day and age when there are many other options to that ‘one tofu spot in a small town’, (even big chain supermarkets have health sections now and there is an almost unlimited array of fake meat products) why do we still kill and eat animals when we know it is so harmful to our planet and our health?

I hope that by sharing my story it will make you ponder these questions. I think compassion for what we all must endure to make it through this thing called life is tantamount if there is to be any mutual understanding.

I don’t believe in shaming anyone. I don’t believe I am more right than anyone else. I don’t believe I’m more advanced. I don’t believe I’m more evolved. I simply believe in not harming. ∎

RAIN PHOENIX

Artist, Activist & Founder of LaunchLeft www.launchleft.com RAIN PHOENIX is the Founder of LaunchLeft, an alliance of left-of-center artists. An intentional space for art and activism where famed creatives launch new artists. The LaunchLeft ecosystem currently includes a podcast, live production arm, record label and NFT gallery. We work to grow and nurture collaborative projects from production through distribution. Artists span artistic disciplines, but share a commitment to integrity in process, execution and vision. LaunchLeft aspires to inspire a new model for art that places people over profit. We are committed to growing our left-of-center community and highlighting unconventional and underrepresented artists who champion culture change.

110 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


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We will either grow wise or cease. BURT KEMPNER

WRITER & PRODUCER 112 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘JUST BURT STORIES’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY BURT KEMPNER

BEACHED

A STORY OF A BOY, A WHALE AND HUMANITY’S FATE The prophetic boy walked along the beach, wreathed in thought, so much so that he almost missed the dark form sprawled on the sand. It was a young pilot whale, breathing heavily.

“Don’t panic, my brother, “ the boy said.

“I’ll run back to the village and return with enough people to push you back into the water.”

“No.” a voice sounded in the boy’s head. “No, let me stay here.”

“But surely you will die.”

“I am sacrificing myself,” the whale said.

“Why?” asked the shaman.

“My people are dying,” said the whale.

“Our only salvation lies in becoming land animals again. Each time the dolphins and we beach ourselves, we get a little farther inland. I’ve gone past where my father got and he outdistanced his own father. Eventually we will walk upon the Earth once more.”

The boy pondered this. He dug into his medicine pouch, extracted a few leaves and chewed them. Soon he was flying through the spirit world in search of the Master of Swimming Things, whom he found in a watery grotto.

The boy explained the plight of the whales and dolphins. The Master listened intently, then began speaking. In an instant the traveling youth found himself back in his body on the beach.

“It will take far too many generations for you to become land animals again,” he told the pilot whale.

“The seas are growing poisonous quickly.”

The whale moaned. 113 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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AwareNow Podcast

BEACHED

Written and Narrated by Burt Kempner

https://awarenow.us/podcast/beached

TAP/SCAN TO LISTEN

“But,” the boy continued, “the Master of Swimming Things says if your people can’t come upon the land, he will send the sea to take its place. One day whales and dolphins will glide through submerged cities and other works of men. You will tell new stories and sing new songs of happiness.”

“But what will happen to you?” the whale asked.

“We will either grow wise or cease.”

The whale pondered the words of the far-seeing youth.

“Perhaps I’ll take you up on your offer to return me to my home then.”

The boy used the hem of his garment to wipe away the animal’s huge tear and ran off to summon his people. ∎

BURT KEMPNER

Writer & Producer www.awarenessties.us/burt-kempner BURT KEMPNER is a writer-producer who has worked professionally in New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Florida. His work has won numerous major awards, and has been seen by groups ranging in size from a national television audience in the United States to a half-dozen Maori chieftains in New Zealand. Spurred by his love for inspiring young people, he started writing children's books in 2015. Learn more about Burt and his books at his website: www.burtkempner.com.

114 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


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All the young men were killed, young women were taken and those who disobeyed were thrown overboard… including children. THI NGUYEN

NONPROFIT CONSULTANT, ENTREPRENEUR & PHILANTHROPIST Photo Credit: Thi Nguyen 116 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


GO GREEN DRESS: ‘RECOLLECTIONS' EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY THI NGUYEN

AT SEA

PART 3: STRANDED We saw the vessel inching closer… Too weak to stir away, our captain motioned for us to keep quiet. As the boat came into sight, we noticed it was much smaller than the ones we came into contact with before. Perhaps another pirate ship trying to go under the radar? However, the closer it got the more we realized there seemed to be no one on board. Where were all the passengers? Could it be another boat once filled with refugees who were swallowed by the unforgiving sea? Perhaps there was food and water that we could use, if this vessel was truly abandoned. As the boat drew near, we could tell it was a fellow refugee boat. We called out to see if anyone was still on board. Were there any survivors left or was this boat drifting aimlessly? How many days had this been going for?

Suddenly, we heard a noise, and out came seven people: four young children, two older ladies, and an elder gentleman. They seemed distraught, weak but happy to see us. We helped them on board as their boat was falling apart. It turned out their ship was pirated multiple times. All the young men were killed, young women were taken and those who disobeyed were thrown overboard… including children. They shared horrifying details of the multiple raids – a boat filled with over thirty passengers down to seven. It was extremely difficult to hear what happened. They had been out at sea for almost a month and were unsure how much longer they could survive. They shared stories of coming into contact with large ships but were refused help. Their food and water supplies were all taken by the pirates and they have been floating aimlessly trying with no end in sight. To top it off, there was damage to the boat due to the pirate attacks, and the engine had stopped working. Everyone on board was teary-eyed and looked extremely famished. Meeting us had been the best thing that happened to them since the beginning of their journey. It was so heartbreaking to hear. Would this be our fate too?

Although we had nothing on board but ourselves, we invited them to continue the journey with us. By this time, we were almost at the one month mark. We had been surviving on a little bit of saltwater on our lips and the ability of some skilled individuals to catch fish from the ocean. The adults would sing and try to hush the kids from their rapidfire questions. When will we get there? I’m hungry. I’m thirsty. Where is mom, dad, sister, brother, grandparents, etc? But mostly, it was dead silent to conserve our energy.

There are moments when you find yourself hallucinating with the sun beating down on you as you travel in the endless, open water. Schools of dolphins would swim nearby being playful and then swim off. At least these sights made the journey a little more bearable. It was late spring moving into summer, and the sun was getting warmer by the day. How much longer could we last at this rate? Without any proper drinking water, how would we survive?

Minutes passed like hours, hours passed like days, and we lost count of how long we had been out at sea. Awakened by frantic conversations, it seemed our boat had decided to break down. The adults were dumping water out using anything they could. Somehow, we had a leak, and now everyone was trying to keep the boat afloat. Suddenly a school of dolphins appeared out of nowhere and surrounded our boat. They helped move the boat along while we continued to bail water out. At this point, we weren't sure where we were headed. We were focused on staying afloat. 117 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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Photo Credit: Thi Nguyen 118 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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AwareNow Podcast

AT SEA Part 3: Stranded Written and Narrated by Thi Nguyen

https://awarenow.us/podcast/at-sea/part-3

TAP/SCAN TO LISTEN

As if our prayers were answered, we saw a large ship in the distance. The men took off the shirts from their backs and waved them frantically. Maybe they would let us on board? Maybe they would save us? Speaking in a foreign dialect, those onboard the boat shooed us away. All the kids were picked up to show our dire situation and that we were only skin and bones. Without proper food or water and with a broken boat, we knew survival was not possible. As if on cue, everyone started crying and pleading for some solace. Some got down on our knees to pray. Looking down at our boat, they still refused to let us on board.

Suddenly, another person appeared from the third deck. He said something to the other men on board and soon they came down and attached to our boat. Water and food were given to us. We divided it among everyone, swallowing pieces whole as if it was our last meal. They surveyed the situation and went back on their boat to make a call. This must be it. Perhaps we would be saved? After the call, the men on the boat threw down a net and helped us on board. They picked up our boat and flipped it upside down to dry, and off we went. We were elated! Onboard we were given more food and water as the boat steered forward towards landfall. With bellies full and a future ahead, I dozed off to dreamland.

I was awakened when I no longer felt the humming of the moving ship. After over eight hours of travel, we arrived on an island in the South China Sea. There we were left, with our broken boat dropped. We were left to fend for ourselves. At least we had arrived safely on land… ∎

Thank you for following my multi-part series as I share details based on real-life experiences of the Vietnamese refugee flight combining stories from multiple sources including my own story. I'm so humbled and grateful to Awareness Ties and Issuu for providing me with this space and to the readers following along with a journey that continues to repeat itself throughout history. This is dedicated to all the refugees and your unwavering strength to survive at all costs. For more stories and images please follow my adventures on Instagram @GoGreenDress.

THI NGUYEN

Nonprofit Consultant, Entrepreneur & Philanthropist www.awarenessties.us/thi THI NGUYEN brings with her over 2 decades of non profit experience as a participant, advisor, board member, consultant, volunteer and research and development specialist. Her expertise combining technology to further advance the vision and mission for philanthropic causes has allowed her to serve as a trusted partner with many notable organizations large and small. Thi has experience working with organizations focusing on combating various global issues such as: human sex trafficking, homelessness, poverty, fair wages, global warming, malnutrition, gender equality, humanitarian assistance and human rights. She's currently developing an app to connect individuals and corporations to assist nonprofits in furthering their vision and mission.

119 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


People want so desperately to fit in that they forget what makes them stand out… MICKEY ROWE

ACTOR & AUTHOR 120 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘REPRESENTATION MATTERS’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY KEELY CAT-WELLS

FEARLESSLY DIFFERENT INTRODUCING MICKEY ROWE

My name is Christine Burke, and I am the Communications and Outreach Manager of C Talent working under our incredible CEO, Keely Cat-Wells, who founded the company after facing severe ableism within the entertainment industry. We have the privilege of representing high profile Deaf and Disabled Talent, including the names mentioned in this article. I am a lifelong advocate of the disability community, having been born with Spina Bifida and am incredibly grateful to be serving as Ms. Wheelchair America 2022, while working my dream job at C Talent. April 1st marks the start of Autism Awareness Month, encouraging the nation’s focus toward the achievements and stories of autistic individuals in the hope of increasing awareness of the 2.3% living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines ASD as “a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain” ASD can manifest in myriad ways, but typical traits most commonly appear in social communication and interactions and can be characterized through obsessive interests and repetitive behaviors. The Autistic community though, is so much more than a medical definition and a handful of statistics.

Here at C Talent Management, we have the incredible privilege of watching our neurodivergent talent make tremendous strides in the entertainment industry. Actor and author, Mickey Rowe, (who made history by becoming the first Autistic actor to portray the role of Christopher Boone, the Autistic protagonist, of the novel adapted stage show “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime”), just released his first book “Fearlessly Different: An Autistic Actor’s Journey to Broadway’s Biggest Stage.” In it he chronicles his experiences in the industry and his life as a husband and father of two effectively smashing ableist stereotypes society holds about the disability community. Oriane Toguem, a Cameroonian American opera and French pop singer, went on to win the title of Miss International America Nation in 2020 and model Natalie Oden will be making an upcoming appearance in this year’s Easterseals Disability Film Challenge. Actor and filmmakers, Verity Van Dams and Austin Valdez round out our roster of Autistic talent, truly our company mantra of showing that people with disabilities can be trailblazers and experts in things beyond their disability. I believe Mickey Rowe perfectly captures the essence of Autism Awareness Month with his prolific words “People want so desperately to fit in that they forget what makes them stand out. Be loud. Take up space. Our differences are our strengths.”

KEELY CAT-WELLS

Founder & CEO of C Talent www.awarenessties.us/keely-cat-wells KEELY CAT-WELLS is an Entrepreneur and Disability Activist dedicated to making social, systemic, and economic change. As the founder and CEO of C Talent, Keely has been named a Forbes 30 Under 30 Entertainment honouree, Diana Award winner, an AdWeek Young Influential, GBEA Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and has been appointed as an Advisory Board Member to Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation. Keely is a Forbes Contributor and has spoken as a Disability Subject Matter Expert for companies and organizations including, The LEGO Group, United Nations, Google, UCLA, NBC, Vidmob, Advertising Week, No Barriers USA, Toronto International Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, The Valuable 500, and Virgin Media’s Ultraviolet event among others. Keely founded her first company at a young age during her time in hospital, which developed into C Talent. C Talent is an award-winning talent management company that represents high-profile Deaf and Disabled talent.

121 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


Not everyone needs a happy ending to enjoy a story. LORI BUTIERRIES

AUTHOR, NAVY VETERAN & MOTHER OF 2 WITH SPECIAL NEEDS 122 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘SCARRED NOT BROKEN’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY LORI BUTIERRIES

CHILDREN’S BOOK DAY

3 BOOKS HONORING CURRENT EVENTS & TODAY’S KIDS "Since 1967, on or around Hans Christian Andersen's birthday, 2 April, International Children's Book Day (ICBD) is celebrated to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children's books," states the International Board on Books for Young People. It is worth noting that despite the darker elements of some of Hans Christian Andersen's works, they have continued to appeal to children and adults for centuries. Why is that I wonder? Is it because life is full of death, destruction, loss, cruelty, adversity, etc., and not even children are spared from experiencing the hardships of life? I'm not sure, but whatever the reason, I know that there is comfort and connection found in life's familiar and shared struggles. Additionally, not everyone needs a happy ending to enjoy a story. Sometimes, the truth or reality of a situation is equally satisfying or validating. I want to draw attention to a handful of children's books that similarly speak the truth while still engaging readers' childlike imaginations. These are stories that directly or indirectly touch on topics like war, loss, disability, refugees, immigration, other cultures, etc. These are a few big things being experienced firsthand or discussed worldwide. Fairy tales are fantastic, but there is also a place in children's literature for fictional works that parallel reality and have darker elements or undertones that pull at the heartstrings and encourage young readers to discuss tough topics, as proven by Hans Christian Andersen.

Three atypical but meaningful children's stories worth reading and sharing for ICBD are listed here. May they find their way onto many bookshelves and into many hearts as they inspire readers and kindle or renew love for humanity in all the generations of children and adults alive today…

"A Sky-Blue Bench" by Bahram Rahman "[Afghanistan] has one of the world's largest populations per capita of people with disabilities," claims the European Parliament (November 2020). Likewise, in its May 2020 study, The Asia Foundation noted that 80% of adults and 17.3% of children live with mild, moderate, or severe forms of disability in Afghanistan.

This alarming phenomenon is due to natural occurrences like birth defects, genetics, accidents, old age -or- are inflicted intentionally via corporal punishments like maiming or amputations, -or- because of leftover landmines, IEDs, unexploded ordnance, etc.

Local author Bahram Rahman addresses this issue in his children's book titled "A Sky-Blue Bench.” Through the main character, Aria, Mr. Rahman gently touches on the genuine threat Afghan children face regarding loss or injury to their persons. Aria's story begins after recovering from an unspecified accident and picks up with her resuming life with a "helper leg," which might be due to "the war" that is briefly mentioned and glossed over at the beginning of the story.

SIDE NOTE: I love how Mr. Rahman weaves his support for female education and women's rights throughout the story without overshadowing the primary narrative, as highlighted when one of Aria's classmates tells her, "Girls don't build benches." Aria confidently responds, "I can do anything that a boy can."

Overall, "A Sky-Blue Bench" is a great way to expose young children to other cultures and important topics like disability, gender equality, and war without scaring or overwhelming them. Other subjects worth discussing, like problem-solving, resiliency, overcoming obstacles, hard work, togetherness, etc., are within the text too. Considering current world events, "A Sky-Blue Bench" would be the perfect story to foster feelings of "courage, peace, and wisdom" as intended by the sky-blue colored paint gifted to Aria to decorate her bench.

Courage, peace, and wisdom are gifts that can benefit everyone. 123 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


"The Day War Came" by Nicola Davies

There is nothing cute or light-hearted about war; it is a serious topic, but author Nicola Davies does a great job balancing the gravity of the situation with the innocent perspective of youth.

Ms. Davies refrains from going into gory or graphic detail about war. However, she isn't shy about showing readers the ramifications or the after-effects of an attack or what it is like to be a survivor. In this story, war came unexpectedly on a typical day when the main character, a little unnamed girl, was at school. Readers travel with the little girl through the initial impact & destruction of her school, home, and family to her long & mad dash to safety across land and sea until she finds a refugee camp to settle in. But even in relative safety, the war followed the little girl:

"It was underneath my skin, behind my eyes, and in my dreams. It had taken possession of my heart," she said. War also impacted the way locals negatively treated the little girl.

"I walked and walked to try to drive war out of myself, to try to find a place it hadn't reached. But war was in the way that doors shut when I came down the street. It was in the way that people didn't smile and turned away." Thankfully, the story ends happily when a neighboring child shows compassion to the little girl, which initiates a chain reaction of kindness and starts, "Pushing back the war with every step [towards a new beginning]."

"The Day War Came" was an excellent read and a great way to talk about a complex subject like war with children. 124 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


"Wishes" by Muon Thi Van

"Wishes" is a story involving escaping and immigration. It is unknown what the book characters are running from in the story. However, I would imagine it's terrible. Nothing good would cause a family to abandon everything they own or make them want to leave all they know & love behind to sneak away in the dark of night to find safety or a new beginning on foreign shores. This book is a short but powerful read that humanizes the immigrant plight and gives further insight into the dangerous journey and scary risks others are willing to take for even a chance at a better life or future. "Wishes" packs a powerful emotional punch with just a few words. Readers will feel hard-pressed not to be moved by such a tragically beautiful story. ∎

LORI BUTIERRIES

Author, Navy Veteran & Mother of 2 with Special Needs www.awarenessties.us/lori-butierries LORI BUTIERRIES is a full-time caregiver to two children with special needs, one child being terminally ill and physically disabled. Lori uses her life experiences and the medical knowledge she gained while serving as a Hospital Corpsman in the United States Navy to help others facing similar hardships. Lori focuses primarily on advocating for and educating others about the special needs, mental health, and veterans communities. Her long-term goal is to reduce the stigma associated with disability by talking about it with people of all ages, thus minimizing the fear and the mystery attributed to the unknown in this regard.

125 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


We must value our cultures. We must value our children… We must value our communities. We must value our EARTH. LUKE GIALANELLA

FOUNDER OF GOVLEARN 126 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘GOVLEARN’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY LUKE GIALANELLA

OUR EARTH

THE MANY LEVELS WE MUST VALUE This article isn’t another to add to the pile of countless op-eds on climate change. In fact, it’s a call to action. This is what we can do on this planet to protect our fellow humans and lay the foundation for future generations to do the same. We spend a lot of time thinking about aliens. Life out there somewhere. Yet, we often fail to discuss this planet, the only planet a human has ever set foot on, and the planet that houses all of us. The planet that is home to our languages, cultures, religions, politics, and thousands of years of human history. In fact, we’ve barely even begun to explore the bottom of our ocean. There are millions, maybe billions, of new species waiting to be found. And 7.9 million humans call our planet home. No matter what we do or how far we go, this planet will always be the planet that created humanity. This is why I find it so hard to believe that so many fail to appreciate this planet, one which feeds us and allows us to survive and thrive, or understand why so many people seem to neglect or ignore the dangers posed to Earth.

We must educate everyone and everyone must have equal access to education. We must also not teach to tests, scores, numbers, or just to have our children sorted and filed into the endless cycle of suffering that we have crafted. We must teach our children to be free thinkers, to learn about the history of the humanity and how and why we are what we are today. We must educate them about civics, the structures that determine the laws that define their reality and teach them basic human morals and ethics. We must teach our children to love our planet and fight to save it.

We must protect public health and fight for care for those without it, particularly those in war-torn lands or countries with less access to health care. The first step in protecting our planet is protecting our people. We cannot do this without all of us recognizing that those without this care need it and deserve it. We are so quick to dismiss care as “handouts” to the undeserving and not just a simple act of kindness. We must learn to care for each other and for humanity overall.

We must fight for peace, be it just through spreading awareness about the constant struggles that plague our planet, or through directly contacting those in positions of power. War is not only a path to destruction and suffering, but it is a tool for those in power to perpetuate the cycle of discrimination and polarization. It may seem cliche or overdone to praise peace and condemn war, but as a young person, I assure you that it is war that is perhaps the greatest divider. It is what has stoked racism, sexism, and countless cases of xenophobia and hate. War is the enemy, not whatever country ours happens to be fighting at any given time.

We must value our cultures.

We must value our children and the generations to come.

We must value our communities, not just ourselves.

We must value our EARTH. ∎ LUKE GIALANELLA

Founder & President of GOVLEARN www.awarenessties.us/luke-gialanella LUKE GIALANELLA Founder & President of GOVLEARN Luke Gialanella founded GOVLEARN when he was 11 years old, in the summer after the 2016 presidential election. Finding that there was a lack of substantive civics education for elementary and middle schoolers, he went on a mission to correct that. Creating a website and YouTube channel, Luke is obviously extremely passionate about government and politics and has participated in many mock governments, Model UN, and debate programs outside of school.

127 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


When I lost my sight, that dream changed to something else… LEX GILLETTE

5X PARALYMPIC MEDALIST, 4X WORLD CHAMPION & KEYNOTE SPEAKER 128 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘NO NEED FOR SIGHT WHEN YOU HAVE VISION’ BY LEX GILLETTE

WHEN YOU GROW UP DREAMS LOST & FOUND ALONG THE WAY

Did you get this question when you were a child? “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I’m sure you were asked that at some point. How did you respond? Did you want to be a doctor? A musician? An attorney? Prior to me losing my sight, I totally saw myself as a basketball player. One Christmas, I ran out of my room to find a basketball hoop standing beside the tree. It was one of those hoops where you put water in the base to make sure the structure was secure. I spent many days outside shooting on that basketball goal, draining shots from the 3-point line. My dream was to be a basketball player.

When I lost my sight, that dream changed to something else…

I wanted to be a writer. There were many days when I would load paper into my braille machine and type out short stories. I’ve always had a great imagination and it would show through the tales I would write. Some days turtles would make their way through the murky waters of the Atlantic Ocean, leaving from North Carolina in search of treasure on the coasts of Africa. Other times, dinosaurs would challenge each other to a game of baseball, using old fossils as bats and oversized coconuts as balls.

I would literally have pages and pages of braille. Now, I’m kicking myself because I don’t have any of those stories anymore. I’d imagine some of them were tossed, and others were probably lost in some of our moves to different homes. It would be pretty amazing to read those things today.

But I want you to look at where you are currently. Are you doing the thing, or things, that you dreamed of as a kid?

If you said no, we’re in the same boat. Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected to be a Paralympic track and field athlete, or even a professional speaker.

Although you might have said no, my guess is that over time, you were actually developing and refining certain skills that have helped you land the position that you have today.

Check this out.

When I was a child, Easter Sunday speeches were the thing to do. In the lead up to Easter, my mom would work with me to learn a speech that someone had written. I would remember the lines and recite them over and over and over. It was exhausting at times.

I’d then find myself at my grandma’s house and would have to recite it over and over and over for her.

Then, I would go to Cousin Margaret Anne’s house to practice. Let me tell you something, she did not play! One hiccup and you had to start your speech from the top. Imagine being on the second to last line of your speech and fumbling over your words. A stern voice would say, “Start over.” Boy oh boy. Even if there was an awkward pause, you’d hear that same voice say, “Let’s begin from the top.”

DANGIT!!! 129 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


I’ll tell you one thing; it only took one time for me to understand how Cousin Margaret Anne operated. In those following Easter seasons when I knew I would have to deliver a speech for the church, I made sure to nail those lines because at some point I was going to find myself at Cousin Margaret Anne’s practicing my speech. The quicker I got it right, the quicker I could return to my grandma’s house.

Fast forward to the Easter Sunday program, where we would have a play and afterwards, it would be time for children to deliver their speeches.

It was nerve racking standing in front of that jammed packed sanctuary, but after being guided to the front of the church, I’d rattle off my Easter speech with no hiccups. After nailing my last line, the place would erupt with amens, cheers and clapping of hands.

Now, I stand in front of all types of crowds, delivering speeches on a wide array of topics. And, I sometimes get the question, “How do you do it? Do you remember your lines?”

With a big smile, I respond with an emphatic yes. Sure, it’s gotten to the point now where I’m totally comfortable and can get into my improvisational bag to deliver a speech off the cuff, if need be, but the structure is something that I’ve remembered and have ironed in my mind.

You might not be living out the things you dreamed of as a kid. There is nothing wrong with that.

But think back to your early years. What were you doing? Were you writing stories also? Were you setting the table and pouring imaginary drinks into cups, providing the best service to customers? Were you a doctor pretending to perform a life-saving procedure?

Sure, you might not be living out those things directly, but remember when you used to write those stories? Are you using your writing skills to communicate in your current role? You might not be working as a server in a restaurant, but have you sharpened those customer service skills to provide the best experience for the clients who you work with now? Even if you aren’t a doctor saving lives, are you providing another with the bedside manner that helps them see that their life means something?

Life has a funny way of unraveling in front of our eyes. Who knew that Easter speeches would serve as a trampoline of sorts into my career as a professional speaker?

Kudos to you if you’re literally living out the dreams you saw as a kid. That’s very impressive and something to be proud of. And kudos to you for refining a gift, a skill, a talent, that has been with you since childhood.

No matter the path, you can still catapult into your dreams! ∎

LEX GILLETTE

5x Paralympic Medalist, 4x World Champion & Keynote Speaker www.awarenessties.us/lex-gillette LEX GILLETTE has quickly become one of the most sought after keynote speakers on the market. Losing his sight at the age of eight was painful to say the least, but life happens. Things don’t always go your way. You can either stay stuck in frustration because the old way doesn’t work anymore, or you can create a new vision for your life, even if you can’t see how it will happen just yet. His sight was lost, but Lex acquired a renewed vision, a vision that has seen him become the best totally blind long and triple jumper Team USA has ever witnessed.

130 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


TOGETHER WE RISE. JOIN OUR NATION. WWW.AWARENESSTIES.US/NATION


I realised that this was the thing I wanted to do with my life. NICK LADD

FOUNDER OF THE BAZIQUE FESTIVAL 132 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


Q BAZIQUE

‘GLOBAL GOOD’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY TANITH HARDING

A FESTIVAL OF CREATIVE CURATION Nick Ladd has been producing music festivals all over the world since 1996, including launching Origin in South Africa and Glade and Wilderness in the UK before returning to South Africa to launch his current project. The incredible Bazique Festival is a Cape Town based festival of art, performance and music. Nick is passionate about curating creative communities and funding the arts through the vehicle of a festival and creating spaces for people to come together to celebrate and dance. TANITH: Nick you have been a big name in the festival space over the last 26 years! How did you get into producing music festivals and why?

NICK: Initially, it was definitely because of attending outdoor raves and festivals and experiencing first hand the prevailing human vibe at them, which is one of acceptance, kindness and encouragement of individual expression ... a place where quirkiness and individuality is celebrated rather than suppressed and where everyone is considered equal, irrespective of their origins. I really saw how this transformed me personally…and also the people around me, especially those that didn't feel at home in normal society. It gave me a home and family that I had not experienced up to that point. Once I got into running festivals, I realised that this was the thing I wanted to do with my life, especially since in addition to helping create spaces for personal transformation, they also involve pouring money into music and art, often at grass roots level.

TANITH: As well as the festivals already mentioned you have been instrumental in setting up total solar eclipse festivals all over the world! Tell us more about these!

NICK: Eclipse gatherings happen periodically around the world and are, for me, the absolute apex of the festival/rave

NICK LADD EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW BY TANITH HARDING

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133 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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I’m really happy to see the amazing creative community in Cape Town coming out of hibernation… NICK LADD

FOUNDER OF THE BAZIQUE FESTIVAL 134 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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NICK: (continued) experience, especially the more remote ones, as the people that make it through the hard yakka of the travel to get there are always very special individuals and so the whole energy they make is exceptional. Each eclipse gathering is unique, but generally they last between 5 and 7 days centred around the astonishing celestial spectacle that is a total eclipse of the sun. The length of the gathering sees the connectivity on the dance floors increase as they go on - the best dance floors I have ever been on are all Eclipse dance floors.

TANITH: Having experienced the last two Bazique festivals I was blown away by the love, community, compassion and empathy at both events. How do you create such a beautiful symbiotic environment at your festivals?

NICK: I guess by applying the principles of supportive, creative community that I experienced for myself by being at festivals… From the get go we involved 12 different Cape Town party promotors / artists / organisations to come and be a part of the festival and even gave some of them equity in the business. So at its roots, Bazique is an organisation built on collaboration and mutual support and this set the tone as the event grew. Another difference has been that the primary focus has always been the development of art, music and community, rather than short term financial profit - this changes the dynamic of a business considerably.

TANITH: The last few years have been really disrupted and uncertain for the events industry, how did it feel to be back at the helm and running Bazique after the break away?

NICK: I am delighted to see people back on dance floors smiling and having a good time! Also I’m really happy to see the amazing creative community in Cape Town coming out of hibernation and galvanising to create Bazique. It’s a really special group of people across a multitude of disciplines. I love being involved in facilitating its coming together.

TANITH: As the creator and mastermind behind the events you don’t really get to participate in the same way the festival goers do - whats the best festival you have ever attended as a punter and why?

NICK: I think it's often a time and place thing for one personally... that initial flush of discovery at your first few years of festival/outdoor rave exploration is amazing. For me Glastonbury 1996 to 2001 has very special memorieshe creative matrix of that event is absolutely astonishing to this day. Right now Boom Festival in Portugal is right up there with the best in the world if you like electronic music... it has a very special prevailing consciousness.

TANITH: Describe your vision for the future?

NICK: I just want to be involved in creating spaces for people to get together and dance and laugh and be together in person in real time - the more technology takes over our lives, I think the more important it is.

TANITH: What does the future hold for Bazique festival and do you have plans to develop further festivals?

NICK: Bazique has got its centre of gravity now... more and more installation artists are approaching us for grants from our Arts Department that was established 4 year ago by world renowned artist Daniel Popper (a founding partner in the event) and the scale and ambition of the artistic endeavour is increasing year on year. Bazique 2022 had 23 art installations, including an incredible main stage design by Carin Dickson, one of the world's foremost festival stage architects. In addition to this, via our local partners, we are tapping into the grass roots music scene here in South Africa, which is making Bazique a unique experience on the international festival circuit. More and more people are coming in from Europe and beyond... the beautiful sunny weather in the Cape in March is a big pull for our overseas festival goers. I don't really see myself starting any other festivals... I have been producing them for over 25 years now and Bazique is definitely my favourite I have been involved in...I am extremely passionate about its creative matrix and the amazing community of people involved in it. After 4 years we are just getting started… ∎ Visit the Bazique website www.bazique.co.za

Follow Bazique on Facebook for 2023 updates: www.facebook.com/baziquefestival TANITH HARDING

Director of International Development, The Legacy Project, RoundTable Global www.awarenessties.us/tanith-harding TANITH HARDING is leading change management through commitment to the RoundTable Global Three Global Goals of: Educational Reform, Environmental Rejuvenation & Empowerment for All. She delivers innovative and transformational leadership and development programmes in over 30 different countries and is also lead on the international development of philanthropic programmes and projects. This includes working with a growing team of extraordinary Global Change Ambassadors and putting together the Global Youth Awards which celebrate the amazing things our young people are doing to change the world.

135 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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It’s important to protect our youth, not silence sexual assault survivors. AALIA LANIUS

NOVELIST, SPEAKER, PODCAST HOST & SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR 136 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘UNSUGARCOATED’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY AALIA LANIUS

THE BURDEN OF ABUSE

THE CRUSHING WEIGHT OF SEXUAL ABUSE FOR YOUTH I didn’t know there was a National Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month until recently. I do know sexual assault, and I sure in the hell wish I had known how to prevent it. For me, there was the event itself at 14, which left me confused and numb. In the aftermath, I still tried to function normally, trying to forget that it happened. A stage often misinterpreted as a resolution of the crisis, but it isn’t— it’s resilience. At 15, when I found the courage to speak up—I was silenced and forced to carry the crushing weight of the sexual assault alone. But, California AB 218, a 2019 law that created a three-year revival window for adult victims who were abused as minors to file civil sexual abuse lawsuits that were previously barred by the statute of limitations, has changed that.

In my case, the pastors who had guardianship of me, felt prayer and “casting out demons” were the answer. By the way, not for my abuser, but for me, since it was assumed… perhaps preferred, that I was lying. There was no call for the authorities to investigate and question their son-in-law, who recently confirmed my claims—but we’ll get to that in a bit. It was traumatic, frustrating and a life lesson that the grown-ups are very capable of being wrong.

Flash forward over three decades later—it’s 2020 and I’m me. Aalia! The unsugarcoated version—a producer, multiple award-winning writer and global advocate. At this point in life, I’ve dealt with my past traumas. I’m not that broken child that needs validation or closure from anyone because I’ve learned to give that to myself, and I accept that for every bad, a good can come. I didn’t think I could be more empowered.

It was then my friend and retired LAPD Detective Moses Castillo, who served the Sex Crimes Against Women and Children Unit, reached out to me. Years ago, Castillo and I had collaborated to educate the public on the issue of sexual predators and sexual abuse. It was then that I shared my own story with him and in 2020 he encouraged me to pursue a case under AB218.

Initially, I was hesitant, but it was the word accountable that got me onboard. And so, we began the investigation and have since filed suit, which became public last week in the Santa Maria Times. I’ve decided to speak on my case publicly because as the window closes soon for other survivors to file, I want to remind others that it is important to hold these organizations accountable for their actions. I also want to share the experiences that have impacted me the most as part of this process and I’ve yet to step foot into a courtroom.

Of course, AB218 is a result of a government acknowledging years of sexual abuse that went unreported to authorities from churches and youth related programs. Often allegations of sexual harassment or sexual assault are not accepted at face value and a victim is forced endure humiliating circumstances, like I was, only to be silenced. Not this time though, and it made all the difference to have someone like Castillo, a seasoned investigator on my side, who believed me.

In 2020, Castillo and I drove to Santa Maria where I was able to confront the surviving pastor, who had denied a young girl her truth and look her in the eye, woman to woman, and tell her that she was wrong, and she’d protected a pedophile. Her attitude was less than empathetic, excuses lame and once again, I am wise enough to see that this reflects her, and not me. 137 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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“Prevention is ideal when it comes to the conversation of sexual assault, but unfortunately for many of us, especially as children or youth, we are targeted and often oppressed…” In 2020, Castillo and I drove to Santa Maria where I was able to confront the surviving pastor, who had denied a young girl her truth and look her in the eye, woman to woman, and tell her that she was wrong, and she’d protected a pedophile. Her attitude was less than empathetic, excuses lame and once again, I am wise enough to see that this reflects her, and not me.

In January 2021, thanks to the diligent efforts of Castillo, I was cooking dinner when a text message came through. Castillo was standing with the man who had sexually molested and assaulted me, and he was wanting to speak with me. Within minutes, I was on the phone hearing an admission to all the wrong-doing along with an apology, and him telling me something I already knew—that it wasn’t my fault.

That moment is something that I don’t know how to describe. It didn’t change anything, but it did remind me that as victims, we deserve this! Even as I stand today, having gone through all the stages of coping with sexual assault, healing means more when accountability is attached. The AB218 Law shouldn’t close the door on that opportunity, especially because it creates the messaging that organizations do not have the right to protect offenders and time won’t let them off the hook.

My case is a good reminder that secrets are buried deep in the history of some of our communities’ long-standing organizations. Prevention is ideal when it comes to the conversation of sexual assault, but unfortunately for many of us, especially as children or youth, we are targeted and often oppressed because of lack of resources, and it takes years to bring these things to light.

We need to create a space where any child who has been abused can come forward, be supported and begin the healing journey without bearing the weight of others’ expectations. Sexual assault survivors should be free of shame and fault, knowing it doesn’t devalue us or change our worth, and more than anything, have an opportunity to hold our offenders accountable—those that commit the act and the ones that willfully cover it up.

While I’ve spent years focusing on awareness, speaking on signs of an abused youth and awareness so that parents are not naïve to the dangers that exist, it feels important to shine a light on culpability. When a youth reports a sexual assault, it isn’t our job to determine if there is truth or not. It isn’t okay to assume that someone we know or care about isn’t capable of such a thing because they are likeable or it’s difficult to conceive of them doing it.

To that, I have a favorite movie line in response, “Bad things happen to good people, and good people do bad things.” Disperse with the expectations. Realize it’s important to protect our youth, not silence sexual assault survivors. ∎

AALIA LANIUS

Producer, Award-Winning Writer & Host www.awarenessties.us/aalialanius AALIA LANIUS is an International Multiple-Award Winning Novelist, Executive Producer, Publisher and host of the award-nominated globally top-rated social good show, UNSUGARCOATED with Aalia. As founder of UNSUGARCOATED Media, a 501(c)(3) media enterprise, Lanius is creating social impact through storytelling while building community, providing education, and ending isolation for trauma survivors. Aalia's role extends to leadership as a creative, and she is considered a thought-leader in approaches to media, believing that artists are pioneers of the human mind with great potential and responsibility to positively influence society through proper representation and accountability.

138 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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SUICIDE IS A PREVENTABLE MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS. YO U C A N BE T H E O N E TO START THE CO N V ERSAT IO N . H F T D.O R G


…the narrative and the reality are worlds apart. ANA GABRIEL MANN

CO-AUTHOR OF THE GO-GIVER MARRIAGE 140 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘THE GO-GIVER MARRIAGE’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY JOHN & ANA MANN

FAUX PANACEA THE DARKER SIDE OF ALCOHOL

The woman in front strides with a sassy half-smile of total confidence in her chic silver lamé dress, slow-motion, the two women flanking her equally assured as they advance through the restaurant, chefs and diners staring after them, the music pumping: Head up, nothing gonna take me down… let go, let loose, get a little bit wild. Without even looking, the lead woman pops the cork with one thumb and the friend to her right snaps it out of the air as they reach their table and plunge the bottle into its waiting ice bucket. These are women at the top of their game, in charge of their world. The television commercial’s message couldn’t be clearer: a bottle of great wine is the stuff of power. Nothing gonna take me down… If only it were true. We live in a world where alcohol is an accepted, even routine part of everyday life. Whether it’s meeting friends on a Friday night for drinks, having wine with dinner, or unwinding after a day at the office with a beer or a cocktail, alcohol plays a central role in millions of people’s lives. It is sold to us as the panacea for all things stressful, the gateway to camaraderie and good times, even the key to women’s empowerment.

Yet the narrative and the reality are worlds apart.

Every year, alcohol consumption wreaks more damage on human existence than any other substance on the planet. The WHO reports that 3 million people die worldwide from alcohol-related disease, injury, accident, murder, or suicide —1 in every 20 deaths. And that does not take into account the devastation wrought by alcohol-related sexual assault nor by alcohol’s impact on our relationships, coherent family structure, and even childhood development.

Early in my training as a therapist I worked at the day treatment facility of a major teaching hospital in New England with clients fresh out of the hospital’s inpatient psychiatric unit. Here, they worked intensively, five days a week for twelve weeks, to get a handle on the reasons behind their hospitalization. It was an innovative intensive group and private therapy model.

When I met M she was a 17-year-old straight-A student who had first entered the hospital after having a nervous breakdown at school. She appeared completely calm and contained, and presented no obvious serious psychiatric issues. Indeed, she constantly assured us that she was ready to resume her normal life at home, that she didn’t need to stay for the entire program and really needed to get home and back to school.

Over several weeks of daily private work, however, a different side of M began to emerge.

M was the daughter of two alcoholic parents. The second eldest of six, she had functionally been the parent for her four younger siblings ever since their birth. Her father traveled for work, was only home on weekends, and even then took no active role in guiding the family. Her mother began drinking every day at about ten in the morning and was completely drunk by 2:00 pm, her drinking then continuing until near midnight, when she would pass out. 141 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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“…there is a great deal more below the surface than a sparkling cocktail.” During the long intervening hours, M would go out of her way to protect her younger siblings from her mother’s volatile moods and irrational wrath. M’s mother spent much of that time talking on the phone (and drinking) in her bedroom, avoiding any moves to make dinner until the youngest children, ages 3, 4, and 5, were completely falling apart. If anyone cried or acted out, they were sent to bed without supper. Since M was not allowed to make her siblings dinner, she would do her best to appease them with crackers and games, or by simply holding them. Grocery shopping was sporadic at best; the pantry was often bare. Dinner (which was sometimes nothing but buttered pasta) often happened as late as 9:00 pm, after which it was M’s job to put the other kids to bed.

It didn’t take long to realize why it was that M insisted on leaving our program as soon as possible: she was worried about her siblings at home fending for themselves. In complete anguish over the situation, M felt hyperresponsible and could not bear to leave her siblings behind—in her view, to abandon them as their parents had done—in order to pursue college or a life of her own. Two parents who were emotionally and personally unable to function as adults made M a parentified child: because her parents were incapable of serving as parents, she had to step up and become the parent—which not only robbed her of her own childhood but crippled her ability to enter a full, rich adulthood.

Alcohol, its use and abuse, stood at the center of the story, a poisonous spider weaving a web of heartache.

Stories like this happen every day, everywhere around the world, at all levels of society. Alcohol abuse and its resultant personal dysfunction and disintegration respect no distinctions of class, race, creed, or economic status. It is a problem whose reach is universal.

Is there such a thing as the harmless social glass of wine, the moderate drinking that does not lead to disaster? Sure. But it is a slippery slope whose successful navigation depends on restraint and sound judgment—two faculties among the first to go under the influence of drink. Witness the decision to climb behind the wheel after one drink too many— an abdication of personal responsibility that directly causes 275,000 deaths per year. What so often begins as harmless fun too often ends in tragedy.

Alcohol is sold to us as a panacea, an invitation to status, social connection, power, pleasure, and joy. But like most glamorous societal narratives, there is a great deal more below the surface than a sparkling cocktail.

ANA GABRIEL MANN

Co-Author of ‘The Go-Giver Marriage’ www.awarenessties.us/john--ana-mann ANA GABRIEL MANN, M.A., earned her degree in clinical psychology before going on to serve as an educator, therapist, corporate trainer, speaker, and coach. She currently coaches Go-Giver Marriage clients and leads the Go-Giver Marriage Coaches Training Program, training coaches from around the globe.

142 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com



I see the healing before my eyes. SCOT MOON

PATIENT GARDEN MANAGER AND VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION SPECIALIST TIBOR RUBIN MEDICAL VETERANS AFFAIRS HOSPITAL IN LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA 144 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘THE DECIDED HEART EFFECT’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY SONJA MONTIEL

THE HEALING GARDEN FEATURING SCOT MOON

“Mama, why are there so many white crosses over there?” Zoned out during my commute on the 405 freeway, I have passed the Los Angeles National Cemetery a hundred times. From the freeway, if one was really paying attention to their surroundings, you would have seen what my fourth grader saw – roughly 90,000 war graves on 114 acres of land, a resting place to service members dating back to the Civil War.

When I shared this with my daughter, she took matters into her own hands. After writing to all the Veteran hospitals and medical centers in California thanking patients for their service, she received a letter. It was a full page and came with five photos of a beautiful two-acre garden signed by the Patient Garden Manager and Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist of the Tibor Rubin Medical Veterans Affairs Hospital in Long Beach. His name is Scot Moon.

My daughter and I looked at the photos in awe. A garden. Wait, a garden?

Close to 50 years ago, the Vocational Rehabilitation Therapy’s (VRT’s) Patient Garden was founded for Horticultural Therapy, a therapy treatment program that Scot Moon brought into VRT. Under the hospital’s Compensated Work Therapy Transitional Work Program, veteran patients are given assignments in the garden to heal and recover from their physical injuries and/or mental health illnesses while gaining new skills and confidence to find employment and transition into civilian life. Scot’s commitment is to heal people. He says, “It’s incredible to observe patients show up not talking to anyone, and by the time their shifts are over, their energy levels are high and they are sharing stories with other people. I see the healing before my eyes.”

Scot always liked being outdoors all of his life. His uncle would take him to the back country in Mammoth and they would live off the land. He didn’t have any gardening experience until he took over the Garden. He says, “When people come visit the Garden, I don’t just let them walk by. I will show them around. I will tell the story about the purpose of the Garden. I will bring out plants for them to take home. It’s all hands-on. At first it seemed intimidating for others to come and visit until the hearsay started that those who visit get free plants.”

Scot is no stranger to the challenging experiences returning to civilian life from his service. He was a patient. Through the incredible treatments run through the hospital, Scot was recovering and became more confident to contribute something back. People said that he needed to begin volunteering to help build his network. That’s when he met Dr. Kim who was going to help him develop his resume and be placed for a volunteer position. However, the relationship didn’t go quite as expected. She saw something in Scot that he didn’t see in himself during that time. “You will volunteer here with me,” she said. When Scot replied that he didn’t know anything about resumes and job fairs, she responded again, “Don’t worry, I will teach you.” What she says next is something that Scot will forever remember. It was Wednesday, May 15, 2014 at 10:15am when Dr. Kim said “I want you here tomorrow, everyday at 8am.” Volunteering for Dr. Kim led him to find a job with the Compensated Work Therapy program working nine dollars an hour. He was able to keep his house.

Eventually, Scot earned the title of Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist at the Garden. When the Garden was in manageable shape, he decided to take some time away to advance his studies in horticulture. Attending community college, his first class was “Greenhouse and Nursery Management.” That inspired Scot to take the next class “Cactus and Succulents” where Scot found himself ignited with inspiration to learn the species and variety of every plant out there. He says, “I would be at Starbuck’s and write over and over and over again until I memorized every binomial name, gene name, species, variety, and family. I ended up writing a research paper on what I knew best titled ‘Horticultural therapy in combination with outreach benefit at-risk veterans’.” 145 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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I saw how healing other people had helped heal the veterans working at the Garden. SCOT MOON

PATIENT GARDEN MANAGER AND VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION SPECIALIST TIBOR RUBIN MEDICAL VETERANS AFFAIRS HOSPITAL IN LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA 146 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


AwareNow Podcast

THE HEALING GARDEN

Written and Narrated by Sonja Montiel

https://awarenow.us/podcast/the-healing-garden

TAP/SCAN TO LISTEN

“Scot is on the mission to heal people through horticultural therapy.” He knew best from his daily work at the Garden. Scot remembers his first group of patients. He recalls, “Fifteen of us took all of our tools from the Garden, loaded them in our trucks, and drove up to the spinal-cord injured vets. We helped 100 volunteers learn to plant on a rainy day. It was an amazing time. When the team returned to the Garden, we all high-fived each other feeling elated, like we just won a championship. In the moment, I knew that I had to create more efforts like these for veterans. I saw how healing other people had helped heal the veterans working at the Garden.”

Under Scot’s leadership, the Garden has expanded to serve hospital employees and community members. Events such as the monthly “Gardening for Wellness” programs invites employees to learn, plant, and find respite at the Garden. During the pandemic, Scot coordinated plants to go home with employees and patients to continue their gardening no matter where they were. He also coordinates with the Tucker School from the Long Beach Unified School District’s Adult Community Transition Program where students with disabilities from high school to adulthood come to the Garden to work for vocational training. From flower arrangement competitions to annual garden harvest fests, and through partnerships with local nonprofits like the Cal Organic Club and the SoCal Hibiscus Society, Scot is on the mission to heal people through horticultural therapy.

Since Scot’s time managing the Garden, over fifty patients have been hired as federal employees, and countless people have found peacefulness and healing. Scot Moon is a change agent for a better world, leading with purposefulness, compassion and service. ∎ To learn more about Scot Moon & the Garden, email scot.moon@va.gov or connect via IG: @longbeach_vets_patientga

SONJA MONTIEL

Co-Founder of The Decided Heart Effect www.awarenessties.us/sonja-montiel SONJA MONTIEL has served more than twenty-one years in the college admissions profession, having extensive experience in the areas of freshman, transfer, and international admissions. During her time working with thousands of teens and young adults worldwide, she began to witness many societies creating an unhealthy college-bound culture that misguides our young people in their pursuit of living a life of fulfillment. In 2021, Sonja met Hilary Bilbrey to begin something amazing. They created The DH Effect – The Decided Heart Effect with a mission to guide individuals, schools, and organizations to build high-trust relationships and belonging through self-discovery and personal accountability.

147 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


“Whatever happens anywhere in this world has a ripple effect and affects the whole world.” CHIEF OGIMAA

ANISHINAABE KNOWLEDGE KEEPER, CHIEF OF FOOTHILLS OJIBWAY ON TURTLE ISLAND 148 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


‘FROM THE BEGINNING TO NOW’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY CHIEF OGIMAA

CREATOR’S CALLING

FROM THE BEGINNING TO NOW: LESSON 14 Once again, I’m talking to you from here on what we used to call Kânata, it became Canada. It was one part of this world we call Turtle Island (this includes North America) the Anishinaabe people always maintain the connection to Turtle Island, in spirit. What I mean by that is there are spiritual ties, spiritual connection, in my leadership. People call me Ogimaa (Acha-Kooh-waay)…. which means ‘leader of the sky’. I maintain that, because it has to do with the Spirit. That’s how we had our connection to the beginning of the creation, for this part of the world, Turtle Island. I'm over here — a place called Turtle Island… spiritual place, like everywhere else in this world. Every place is a spiritual place. There is only one world, one air, one sun, one water, one environment in this world… We're all part of this world and it does not matter where we are or who we might be… We are all one people of this world no matter where we are… like one nation.

There's one shared world, and there's people. People everywhere in this world. We all depend on the world that we live in. Creator or God… or however, we call him… He created this world for us to be able to enjoy the world and land and the environment. The environment that we enjoyed for thousands of years from time of immemorial. And those people back then are still a part of that somewhere.

We have ancestors that we are related to and they're also part of the environment or land that we depend on, taking care of the land for thousands of years… from the beginning of time… Everything that we rely on… It's all here… God has given us everything that we need… Not what we want.

We need the water and the sun… Like the plants. Plants need water… needs air… need the land. The whole world wherever we might be… we need land — might be any island.

Today are we taking care of the land? No. We are not taking care of the land. We don't take care of it the way ancestors used to.

And the reason why I say that is because we don't work with the spirit of the land… because if we did we wouldn’t destroy the land for the future. Today we depend on the land to grow the food… like vegetables, like potatoes, like corn, like wheat and everything that grows. It's all part of the elements that I just talked about. It comes down to ourselves as human beings of this world… Whatever happens anywhere in this world has a ripple effect and affects the whole world. It impacts the whole world….. It impacts the whole world, it impacts the spirit of somebody's mind… of somebody's life….. even if we don't know anybody where things happen in different parts of this world.

So I’m here in Turtle Island… Things are happening in this world and different parts of the this world about people and children and women and elders, mothers and fathers…. it impacts the whole world….. It impacts the spirit in everything that we enjoy about life… A future generation — they are not going to benefit from this if we don't take care of the land… because the land is alive… If she wasn't alive, nothing would grow. But she is very much alive in all different parts of the world because it has spirit….. because it has responsibility for everything. Not only the old, not only parents, or grandparents… it's about the children of tomorrow.

149 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


“In this world, there is still genocide whether it is cultural genocide or the spiritual genocide.” It's about the future generations. If we destroy the world…. If we destroy the land, we destroy the environment and destroy the water there is nothing there for the future generations because of us.

We need to continue to protect the world, the environment, and not destroy it for the future generations. We should take care of the land because the land has taken care of us.

We enjoy the world. We enjoy the land wherever we might be. We still breathe… but in some places of this world, things are happening…

In this world, there is still genocide whether it is cultural genocide or the spiritual genocide. It is still happening….. genocide… and the children of tomorrow shouldn't be a part of it. That’s not as the Creator has intended it to be. He intended us to take care of each other and be kind to each other… especially the children, especially the elderly. To respect the land… taking care of everything. Therefore we must take care of each other. We must take care of the spirit of those children and their homes. They should have a beautiful home to come home to. They should be able to say, “I’m home.”

There’s enough homeless people in different parts of this world, and there shouldn't be. We don't need to make more people to be homeless for no reason at all. We must respect the need for homes, and I think that God intended there to be respect for each other's homes…. especially the children. Children in this world shouldn't have worries.

They should be able to sleep peacefully. Wake up to caring…if they wake up, not to disaster. We don’t want that!

But if we don't take care of the environment….. If we don't take care of the world, it is disaster… and we don't want to see our children, our grandchildren, our great grandchildren or our grandchildren yet to be born to this world to go through this!

We must think. The world is huge. There is enough land. There is enough everything. We must think not only for us, ourselves. Things should be shared. That’s what we did here on Turtle island. We shared the land on this Turtle Island of ours because that’s the way it should be. The Creator’s way…

Thank you…

Mii’gwetch

Ogimaa

Respectfully recorded and submitted by Kathy Kiss

CHIEF OGIMAA (ACHA-KOOH-WAAY)

Anishinaabe Knowledge Keeper, Chief of Foothills Ojibway on Turtle Island www.awarenessties.us/ogimaa I am Ogimaa (Acha-Kooh-waay), I begin with words from my own language to say hi to everybody. My identity… which is… because God put me in this part of the world is my Annishinaabe language and name. That means “leader” for people and environment here. So I am not saying I am the leader of Turtle Island but that’s what that means. It is an individual’s name, which is a spirit name that we carry on from our traditional culture and lineage in this part of the world. We were put here on this Turtle. This Turtle Island is massive.

150 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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ELIJAH

IMAGINE LA ‘MENTEE OF THE MONTH’ Photo Credit: Imagine LA 152 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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‘MENTEE OF THE MONTH’ EXCLUSIVE COLUMN BY IMAGINE LA

MEET ELIJAH AN IMAGINE LA MENTEE

Elijah, at 9-years-old, is walking his dog with his grandmother, Tonya, when he hears music blasting from the bar across the street, and that does it! He GETS. HIS. BOOGIE. ON! He draws attention from the bouncer and the folks waiting in line. They laugh but Elijah pays them no mind, he’s in his own world, dancing to his own beat. This encapsulates the essence of Elijah: his joyful, happy, and loving self. “He’s always positive – he brings joy out of everyone he meets, always trying to bring a smile to their faces. He gets along with everyone and makes friends easily.”

Elijah’s grandmother Tonya and mentor Chandler also describe Elijah as curious. Excellent at math but struggling with reading, Elijah is diving into reading, determined to improve by reading books that stoke his interest and natural curiosity. With a new baby brother now in the picture, Elijah is also excited to be a good example and make sure his little brother has a role model to look up to. “For an 8-year-old, he’s got this natural leadership potential and maturity,” says Chandler, praising Elijah’s growth mindset as he welcomed this big new transition with an open mind and heart.

Adding to his changing world was a recent change of schools. After Elijah faced bullying at his former school by older students, Tonya advocated hard to have him transferred to a school closer to home. Sadly, the bullying continued at his new school. But this time, armed with more confidence and strategies, he overcame it by befriending his bullies!

“Making the best of new opportunities comes naturally to Elijah,” says Tonya. He accompanied a friend to a soccer game and when a player was injured, Elijah was asked to fill in. By his second game, everyone was talking about Elijah, his skills, and his great attitude. He went on to play every single game that season and was promptly invited by a coach to officially join the team. He’s proud to share that the team has won most of their games this year.

“What I love about Elijah is his perseverance and his joyous attitude, even when times are tough,” says Chandler.

We salute you, Elijah, for your strength and positivity! ∎

IMAGINE LA www.imaginela.org IMAGINE LA prevents first-time and repeat homelessness and equips families to maintain housing stability and thrive long-term. Every day, families across Los Angeles embody resilience and tenacity as they navigate their way out of poverty. Imagine LA provides the relationships and resources to help the entire family thrive for the long-term. Everything Imagine LA does is built on a foundation of trust and relationships. Whole-family, caring case management works to prevent first-time or repeat homelessness, and clear barriers to family goals, which sets the stage for economic mobility programming, financial independence, and success for the whole family.

153 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com




156 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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TIRELESS EXCLUSIVE COLLECTION BY LAURA ZABO

less

is

so

much

more

Less tires in landfills yields more sustainable style with the the work of Laura Zabo and her custom collections of upcycled accessories. Designed to raise awareness for the needed protection and preservation of our environment, TIRELESS is an eco-friendly collection created for Awareness Ties with each piece customized for a cause. Paired with personalities and synched with stories, Laura Zabo supports ‘sustainable style’ fueling change with fashion. Learn more about Laura & her upcycled accessories:

www.laurazabo.com

CLICK, TAP OR SCAN

TO WATCH NOW

157 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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CALY BEVIER

UPCYCLED EARRINGS BY LAURA ZABO 158 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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C A LY B E V I E R

“It shows that everything that you might want is actually right within arms reach of you.”"

These are hands-down the coolest earrings I have ever seen… They were made out of recycled and reused bicycle tire rubber. Laura made these to show that something that you would never think of as beautiful can turn into a piece of wearable art that is sustainable. It shows that everything that you might want is actually right within arms reach of you. Or maybe a drive to your nearest thrift store… or recycling bin. I have been feeling so guilty within my heart whenever I shop at places like forever 21, H&M, and Shein, as much as I love the prices at those places, the earth is crying out for us to stop purchasing “fast fashion”. A quick Google will show you that ‘fashion’ as a whole is responsible for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions, and 20% of global waste water. It uses more energy then aviation and shipping sectors combined. I personally don’t think that a $16 pair of jeans is worth doing that to our home. The amount of times I’ve heard the comment “Well, I’m just one person, I’m not gonna stop shopping there. It fits my budget, it’s easy to find what I like, and if I stop shopping there the environmental impacts will keep happening regardless.” But do you know how many people say that? Thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands. What if each of those people actually just stopped. What if everyone started shopping at the thrift stores, started revamping old clothes that are already in their wardrobe, did swaps with friends? There’s so many ways to find or make the pieces you want without buying new. Be original and help preserve our planet and bring it back to the flourishing place it can be.

159 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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CALY BEVIER

UPCYCLED EARRINGS BY LAURA ZABO 160 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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CALY BEVIER

UPCYCLED EARRINGS BY LAURA ZABO 161 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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ARIYA

UPCYCLED BELT BY LAURA ZABO 162 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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ARIYA

“Sustainable style gives me strength to stand and be seen, knowing what I

wear supports what I stand for.”

163 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


ARIYA

UPCYCLED BELT BY LAURA ZABO 164 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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ARIYA

UPCYCLED BELT BY LAURA ZABO 165 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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TAL ANDERSON

UPCYCLED EARRINGS & BELT BY LAURA ZABO 166 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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TAL ANDERSON

“I didn’t know it then, but I know now that my style is sustainable...”"

I don’t know a lot about fashion. I never have. But because of my autism, or perhaps just my personality, I have always had a very clear sense of personal style, which came from comfort, emotional attachment to certain items, and an unwillingness to replace those well-loved items unnecessarily. So as soon as I was able to choose my own clothes, I chose soft, breathable, comfortable clothes that wouldn’t fall apart, and this became my style. This meant natural materials, well-made so they would last, and simple. Now as an adult I’ve expanded my closet, which is filled with items I’ve owned for over 10 years like my most beloved jean shorts, my collection of Vintage Doc Martens, (which I never intend to replace), and several amazing vegan or vintage jackets and coats that I layer over my treasured collection of t-shirts from high school. Occasionally I throw in a beautifully made dress or designer jacket, but it’s one I know that I will own for life. I didn’t know it then, but I know now that my style is sustainable, and whether my closet is filled with eco-friendly, durable, recycled, vintage, or used clothing, I know that I can express myself and my own creativity without harming the environment, or being wasteful. It has and will continue to stand the test of time, and ultimately that is better for the earth, my wallet, and my mental health, because it is a comfortable, creative, and thoughtful style…. and it’s all mine.

167 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


TAL ANDERSON

UPCYCLED EARRINGS & BELT BY LAURA ZABO 168 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


TAL ANDERSON

UPCYCLED EARRINGS BY LAURA ZABO 169 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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ZEESHAN KHAN

UPCYCLED BELT BY LAURA ZABO 170 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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ZEESHAN KHAN

“Sustainability for me means making choices today that will positively impact the planet tomorrow.”"

171 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


GABRIELLE BOURNE

UPCYCLED BELT BY LAURA ZABO 172 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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GABRIELLE BOURNE “Sustainable style comes from within. It’s not a tend that ebbs and flows. It’s a constant commitment to authenticity and integrity.”"

173 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


GABRIELLE BOURNE

UPCYCLED BELT BY LAURA ZABO 174 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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GABRIELLE BOURNE

UPCYCLED BELT BY LAURA ZABO 175 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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KENT SPEAKMAN

UPCYCLED BELT BY LAURA ZABO 176 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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KENT SPEAKMAN “Sustainable style doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style -

there’s so many conscious options to rock a look that’s sustainable and or more ethically sourced.”

177 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


KENT SPEAKMAN

UPCYCLED BELT BY LAURA ZABO 178 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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KENT SPEAKMAN

UPCYCLED BELT BY LAURA ZABO 179 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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EUNICE NUNA

UPCYCLED NECKLACE & EARRINGS BY LAURA ZABO 180 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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EUNICE NUNA

“Sustainable style means creativity and ecological integrity.”"

Sustainable style means safety for women and girls. With climate change, women struggle to survive and recover from its aftermath.

181 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


EUNICE NUNA

UPCYCLED NECKLACE & EARRINGS BY LAURA ZABO 182 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


EUNICE NUNA

UPCYCLED NECKLACE & EARRINGS BY LAURA ZABO 183 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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ADAM MORSE

UPCYCLED BELT BY LAURA ZABO 184 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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ADAM MORSE

“Sustainability is the future..."

Sustainable style is the future of fashion.”"

185 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


ADAM MORSE

UPCYCLED BELT BY LAURA ZABO 186 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com


ADAM MORSE

UPCYCLED BELT BY LAURA ZABO 187 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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ARIELLE CAPUTO

UPCYCLED EARRINGS BY LAURA ZABO 188 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

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ARIELLE CAPUTO

“Shopping for sustainable fashion is an easy but powerful way to join in the fight for our planet.”"

Our dollars are votes. And we can ask ourselves, “What are our dollars supporting?” The more people unite and say we want something better, more sustainable and eco friendy, the more companies will feel compelled to create better products. I would encourage our goal to be finding ways to leave a minimal negative impact on the earth as we all create positive planetary impact though our fashion.

189 AWARENOW / THE EARTH EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com




THROUGH THESE STORIES WE SHARED

I AM AWARE NOW. www.IamAwareNow.com

R E A D , L I S T E N & WAT C H T h e M a g a z i n e , T h e P o d c a s t & T h e Ta l k S h o w


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