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 POWERFUL IN PINK A.J. ANDREWS
(ON THE COVER)
GOING TO BAT ON & OFF THE FIELD FOR BREAST CANCER AWARENESS
MADDY THE MODEL MADELINE STUART
TIFFANY KELLY & LAURA WESTCOTT
FROM THE STREET TO THE STUDIO MISTER LEES
I STAND WITH YOUTH KELLY LOVELL
TO THIS DAY SHANE KOYCZAN
D O M E S T I C V I O L E N C E | B U L LY I N G | D O W N S Y N D R O M E HOMELESSNESS | INVISIBLE DISABILITIES | BREAST CANCER
THE STAND UP EDITION EMPOWERMENT THROUGH EMPATHY
SUICIDE IS A PREVENTABLE MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS. YOU CAN BE THE ONE TO START THE CONVERSATION. H F T D.O R G
THE STAND UP EDITION AwareNow™ is a monthly publication produced by Awareness Ties™ in partnership with Issuu™. Awareness Ties as the ‘Official Symbol of Support for Causes’, is changing the way causes are supported with a tie that raises both awareness and funds. We raise awareness with national campaigns and funds with local events and online fundraisers.
06 AN ADVENTURE CALLED LIFE
36 TO THIS DAY
66 FROM THE STREETS TO THE STUDIO
10 POWERFUL IN PINK
40 I STAND WITH YOUTH
70 THE BULLY IN MY HEAD
16 DEAR DR. JENNY
44 DYING TO BELONG
74 ARTICLES WITH ALEX
20 THE CAUSES THAT TIE ME
48 WE MUST RISE UP
78 PHOENIX RISING
22 CROSSING LORRAINE D'ALESSIO
52 ENDANGERED RANGERS
84 A COCKTAIL FOR A CAUSE
26 MADDY THE MODEL
56 CONTROLLING THE FIRE
86 THE SPOON LIFE
32 COACHES WITH A CAUSE
60 THE FOUR-PERCENTERS
MARCO GOMEZ A.J. ANDREWS
MADELINE STUART/ROSANNE STUART UP2US SPORTS/COACH KELLS
SHANE KOYCZAN KELLY LOVELL
MOHAMED HAMMOUD BRIANNI WALKER JENNA SEIDEN
ROBERT PACE, MD
SURABHEE ARJUNWADKAR LAURA WESTCOTT & TIFFANY KELLY GEOFF CURLEY
GET READY JOIN THE AWARENESS TIES COMMUNITY
AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
As October comes to a close in 2020, we have a nation being torn apart at the seams, from the ongoing pandemic to the racial inequality and device politics. We need to come together. To quote Langston Hughes, we need to ‘let America be America again, the land that never has been yet—and yet must be—the land where every man is free’. This month we conducted the inaugural Awareness Talks event - a concept based on conversations from this very magazine (‘The America Edition’ to be specific). We take great pride in what was broadcasted and recorded, as we stood with our panelists and special guests, speaking honestly and openly on the topic of RACE. Watch and share: www.awarenessties.us/talks-race In ‘The Stand Up Edition', we tackle some of the most pressing issues that are spotlighted in October, from homelessness to bullying, mental health to invisible disabilities, and down syndrome to breast cancer. Like Brianni Walker says (p. 48), “we've got to rise up”. Let’s empower the masses through empathy and love. Stand with us as we raise awareness and support for a more inclusive and equal society. November 3rd is the day to stand up and have our voices heard. Vote like your life depends on it, because it does.
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 original 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™. Connect with Allié on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/alliemerrick 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. Connect with Jack on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jack-mcguire-609339186 4
AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
It’s not a lost cause. It’s a cause worth fighting for. MARCO GOMEZ
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER & AWARD WINNING DIRECTOR 6
AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH MARCO GOMEZ
AN ADVENTURE CALLED LIFE A MOMENT IN THE JOUNEY
“From living on the streets to dancing on stage, then producing on Broadway, Marco Gomez is the embodiment of possibility through perseverance. Going from no home of his own to helping others find homes, Marco through his various ventures has shown how successful entrepreneurship can be mastered with empathy.” - Allié M. Allié: When did you first call the streets your home and for how long? Marco: If I recall correctly it started in 1992 and ended a couple of years after. I was finishing my first year of high school when my mother’s father passed away. She and I had a very long talk and I told her I wanted to stay to complete my studies while she flew to take care of what was needed. I was left living with my mother’s friend where I started staying in her house and shortly ended up in her backyard in a parked 15’ length camper. Her friend was a well-intentioned woman, rough around the edges but never treated me badly. I was an extremely independent kid so I was often out till late. The camper was ideal for a kid like me. A table, a bed and a place to put my boombox and play music. Now that I think about it after all this time, it didn’t have running water, nor a restroom or shower. Those needs where taken care of in the main house when they were home, or at a friend’s house or at school. It never bothered me; it was something I had to deal with so I did. After a month or so I found a job as a dancer and thought I could go off on my own. No one thought I was younger than 26 so I didn’t need identification and I was paid cash, so I moved out without giving notice and moved in with other dancer friends. It all went well till the jobs ended and everyone split up. I was able to put my stuff in storage and ended up in the streets since everyone went to different cities or places and I still kept going to school so I had to stay and figure it out. I did look for my mother’s friend, but by that time they had moved. With all the moving I’ve done, I lost track of contacts, phone numbers and addresses. Needless to say there were no cell phones so I did the next best thing I could. I lived on the streets, slept in buses and made the best of things while going to school. Since I was in school when this happened, the toll of being on the streets didn’t hit me as hard as most people would expect. If I got to school early, I would eat breakfast and lunch, dinner was not a big thing, so I didn’t mind skipping it. I also had to find side jobs and begin saving as much as I could even if that meant not eating much on weekends. I quickly learned about time management (I was the only person in a dressing room studying algebra) and budgeting (I recall that my favorite go to meal was the $1 Chinese white rice). While going to school full time I worked at four jobs for almost two years so I could save enough to rent a room. Saving was the hardest thing to do but if I wanted to get off the streets I did. My locker became my bank. One needs food, water, and shelter. I had that covered more or less, everything else was a luxury. I worked and after two years I saved enough to rent a room, keep it, then a small apartment. With sleep and better food I was able to get better jobs and one step at a time I finally got a house. Taking all I learned in school and in the streets, I applied the same disciplines to my jobs, moving up when an opportunity came up. I continued studying to post graduate, I still study and I still have a budget. I don’t see myself at the top, I see myself as continuing the journey.
AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
Jack: What was the hardest thing about street life as a kid? Marco: I can’t say there is one thing that is the hardest over others. It really comes down to how you think about it. I never thought of myself as homeless. I took it as an adventure. I was placed in certain circumstances and had to resolve them. I basically developed a survival plan to ensure I kept going to school (I was very dedicated), ate (mostly school meals), slept (connecting buses running at night, thank you Metro for student bus passes), kept clean (school showers, friends’ houses), did my homework (24 hour Carl’s Jr in Hollywood that didn’t mind me sitting there at night studying) and most importantly not let anyone know that I was homeless or in trouble as I did not want to be placed in the foster system. Even at that age, everyone had heard the horrors, which even now are surfacing in the news.
Allié: I’m sure there are a number of stories you collected while living on the streets. What is one that you will never forget? Marco: Knowing what you live through in the streets gives a different meaning to each experience. I’ve been fortunate to dine in excellent restaurants now that I’m older. I even know what Michelin star restaurants mean. However, I can tell you what my favorite meal of all time has been. One day, I believe it was a Sunday, I was walking through a park and was hungry. Remember my meals came from school so during the weekends it was a gamble whether I would eat or not. I hadn’t eaten since Friday so the hunger was a bit nagging. It was starting to get cold so I knew I had to start planning my bus route to get to school in time for breakfast, and get enough sleep. As I walked back to the bus stop, I saw a couple of people walking to their car and taking off. I didn’t think much of it but as I got closer to the area they had been, I spotted a grill. On it, there was a tortilla left. It’s one of those tortillas that when left in the heat of the coals, gets toasted and crunchy. Without a thought I picked it up and ate it slowly. It was the best thing I had ever tasted. I will never forget that taste or memory.
Jack: Life on the streets gives you an entirely different vantage point form the rest of society. What is the best example of humanity that you saw? The worst? Marco: Best example of humanity, I’m happy to mention several. As I think about it, at 15 or 16, one thinks they are controlling the situation. I’m pretty sure the people that saw me after midnight in the streets or different places knew my situation and gave me assistance without me asking for it. The workers at the Carl’s Jr knew I couldn’t buy anything but they let me stay there to do my homework and sometimes even gave me water or let me use their restroom. People may think they should have done more but I think they did what they could without getting into trouble. The bus drivers that would let me sleep in their buses from the beginning of their route to the end and then back. They could have said something but didn’t. One of those moments, I will remember best, I had a job that I was going to and needed to call to say I would take it but missed the bus. Someone gave me a dime when I asked him for it so I could make the call. These examples may seem trivial but to a kid in that situation, those moments are life savers. Worst examples of humanity, I may have blocked them, forgotten them or brushed them off. I’m not the type to retain those memories. What does come to mind is the indifference. On the streets, you often see others that are in harsher conditions than you. I still see it today. People ignore the homeless, they walk past them as if they don’t exist, they are not acknowledged as people. Everyone has a past and a reason for being on the streets. Empathy would go a long way. I know from experience that a dime can make the difference between eating for a week or not.
AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
Allié: For those on the streets right now, what advice would you give? Marco: My advice may be different than most. Sit and really think about your strengths, your circumstances and where you want to be. You have to be creative, street smart and not give in to temptations that can ruin your life. It will be hard and you may not get any help from anyone but it is in your hands to come out of it. Don’t let your feelings control you, only by thinking clearly can you analyze what your options are. Now days there are more programs available but finding them is still a major obstacle so don’t give up. Persist, its your life and your future and only you can make the best decisions for you. Jack: For those who want to help the homeless, what’s the best way to make a difference? Marco: Help can come in many ways. Listen to them – sometimes just having a conversation is what is needed to lift the spirits up. Don’t think that everything is money. As I mentioned earlier, programs that can help the homeless are available but the people that need them the most don’t know about them. Finding out programs that can assist and calling those organizations to come out to where the homeless are located is a great way to help. Connecting one to the other is all that takes to make a difference. Talk to them, sometimes they just need to make a call to someone that can give them a hand. Be safe and take precautions, like everything else, not everyone will be nice. In the streets you learn to survive and sometimes that means to take from others to get ahead. It’s hard to tell one from the other but it can be done. Lastly, don’t give up on them. It’s not a lost cause. It’s a cause worth fighting for.
Marco is an award winning director (Broadway World, LA Weekly, NAACP, etc) in Los Angeles for his work with DOMA Theatre Co and his recent Broadway credits include – An Act of God, Matilda, On Your Feet, The Color Purple, Latin History For Morons). He is also a film producer and has developed films in the US, Rio de Janeiro, and Rome. He is also the Chief Financial Officer for Spare Some Change, a California non-profit organization dedicated to preventing and assisting run away youth and other arts based non-profits. Marco has over 20 years of experience in real estate development and construction, asset/project/property management, financing, and production and investment. He maintains professional memberships with the National Association of Realtors, California Association of Realtors, Burbank Association of Realtors, Pacific West Realtors, Affordable Housing Management Association and The Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers.
AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
You always hear about cancer, but you never think it will affect someone you love. A.J. ANDREWS
PROFESSIONAL SOFTBALL PLAYER & AWARENESS TIES OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR FOR BREAST CANCER AWARENESS 10 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH A.J. ANDREWS
POWERFUL IN PINK
MAKING (AND WEARING) A STATEMENT TO SAVE LIVES
“Both on the field and off the field, A.J. Andrews is taking a stand as our Official Ambassador for Breast Cancer Awareness. Representing Awareness Ties over the course of the inaugural Athletes Unlimited 2020 Softball Season, A.J. raised awareness for Breast Cancer. Listen in as she shares her story. Understand why she is so powerful in pink.” - Allié M. Allié: We’re all tied to a cause. Breast cancer is yours. Will you share how you are personally tied to this cause? A.J.: I’m tied to this cause as I have watched my mother battle and defeat breast cancer and continue to watch my aunt, my mother's sister do the same
I think that 13 years old was when I really realized through my own experience that you never know what people are going through. A.J. ANDREWS
PROFESSIONAL SOFTBALL PLAYER & AWARENESS TIES OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR FOR BREAST CANCER AWARENESS 11 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
Ms. Verigan, my middle school principal, probably has no idea the impact she had on my life by just sincerely taking the time out of her day to ask me how I was doing. A.J. ANDREWS
PROFESSIONAL SOFTBALL PLAYER & AWARENESS TIES OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR FOR BREAST CANCER AWARENESS 12 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
AlliĂŠ: Itâ€™s easy to be sympathetic to someone diagnosed with breast cancer. To be empathetic takes some effort. Having two women so close to you face breast cancer, how were you able to show empathy? What advice would you have for loved ones trying to show support and provide comfort?
A.J.: When my mother was diagnosed, I was very young. I was around 13 years old and did not understand much of what was happening when my parents first told me my mom was diagnosed. I knew what cancer was and that it had taken so many lives. Without any additional thought, I began to cry. I remember not having any thoughts flow throughout my mind, everything felt still, surreal and I only noticed tears coming out of my eyes when I touched my face. You always hear about cancer, but you never think it will affect someone you love.
I am the oldest of my sisters and with my sisters being so young I had the task of making sure they never feared for the future the way that I did. I became very stoic in these times trying to maintain this carefree image that most people saw on a daily basis so that I didn't give away how worried and consumed with fear I was. I watched my mom not be able to move from the bed after chemo treatments and watched her confidence dwindle when her hair began to fall out from radiation. There were many days I cried on my walk to the bus stop when I was alone so that no one would see. I think that 13 years old was when I really realized through my own experience that you never know what people are going through. The happiest person in the world on the exterior could quite possibly be doing their best just to make it through the day.
Empathy comes when you can actively put yourself in someone's situation to try and understand to your best ability. Before my mother was diagnosed, I was always sympathetic to people and what they were going through whether it be cancer or something different.
The process of hiding my own feelings and emotions while my mom was battling cancer allowed me to develop a deep level of empathy for people regardless of their life's situations at a young age. My empathy is shown through just genuine care. I have become hyper aware and observant of people's changed behavior no matter how small and I always do my best to ask how they are feeling and if there is anything I can do to help. My middle school principle did this for me, and I cannot put into words how amazing it felt. To have someone see through the facade and just ask you how you are doing and just be present in the times you are not doing well. That would be the advice I would give others. Ms. Verigan, my middle school principal, probably has no idea the impact she had on my life by just sincerely taking the time out of her day to ask me how I was doing. Not as a passing gesture, but as a stop you in the halls, hug you, look into your eyes, ask you if you need a break from class to talk kind of how you are doing. Those small gestures could quite possibly have the biggest impact on someone's life.
13 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
AlliĂŠ: As a strong black woman, you wear pink with power and purpose. While more white women than black women are diagnosed with breast cancer, black women are 42% more likely to die from it. To change this and reduce this percentage, what can we do better?
A.J.: In order to make a difference in those percentages, it is time to believe black women the first time when they say something is wrong and provide accurate and efficient healthcare from the very beginning.
Black women are painted as being stronger than other women and these stigmas and stereotypes have no place in the medical field. Black women, regardless of socioeconomic status, education and preconceived notions deserve the right to sufficient healthcare and service. Believe black women. Save black women.
The Breast Cancer Awareness Tieâ„˘ is a symbol of support for those living with or surviving from breast cancer.
Learn more about A.J. Andrews at: www.awarenessties.us/aj-andrews Follow her on Instagram: www.instagram.com/aj_andrews_ See her in Awareness Talks: www.awarenessties.us/talks-race 14 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
Believe black women. Save black women. A.J. ANDREWS
PROFESSIONAL SOFTBALL PLAYER & AWARENESS TIES OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR FOR BREAST CANCER AWARENESS 15 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
Look within, and allow yourself to be brave and honest with what you find. DR. JENNY MARTIN
LICENSED CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST & AWARENESS TIES OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR FOR MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS 16 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
FEATURED COLUMN WITH DR. JENNY MARTIN
DEAR DR. JENNY
THE DOCTOR IS IN (AND ONLINE) TAKING QUESTIONS
“Dr. Jenny Martin is a clinical psychologist in Chicago, IL who specializes in culturally sensitive, insight oriented therapy. As our Official Ambassador for Mental Health Awareness, she will be featured in this monthly column offering advice to our readers. A special thank you to Jenny for bringing her expertise and insight to AwareNow!” - Jack M. Dear Dr. Jenny, Ever since the pandemic began I can’t use the tools that help me feel good. I used to go to spin classes twice a week and loved meeting up with my group of friends afterwards. Not only can I not do those things, I feel unmotivated and lazy. I worry I won’t “get my wheels turning again” when things return to what they were. What can we do when we are so limited in our activities? -Taylor P. Dr. Jenny: Can my answer just be, “Me, too, Taylor”?! I hear this a lot from my clients and friends, and I feel it myself. We have built years and years of coping techniques that were essentially dismantled overnight. My first recommendation is to allow yourself to grieve. This is loss! This isn’t just an inconvenience, it is a loss of what life was, of things your identity included. Our enemy here is judgment. We have to be careful not to minimize the impact of these changes. Sure, day by day it may not be a huge sacrifice, but month after month the absence accumulates. Like all loss, it is once we grieve and mourn it that we make new, fresh room to fill. Start there. Dear Dr. Jenny, My parents have very different political beliefs from my siblings and I. It has created a crater of distance between us all and I am dreading the holidays. Historically we have been able to ignore this subject, but right now we are all pretty passionate. Any tips for how to deal with this? - Nicholas B. Dr. Jenny: Hi, Nick. You are so not alone with this one. There are many people, even therapists, who might encourage you and your family to agree on a subject boundary before meeting together. This works for some: a decision that everyone agrees to in advance to ensure certain subjects are not discussed. If this fits for you, give it a try. I have different thoughts. I believe it is essential for us each as individuals to determine what our non-negotiable values are. Ask yourself, “What is the right choice for the person I am working to be?” When in a challenging conversation, check in on this. Are you willing to experience an intense family gathering for the good of expressing your values? Do you feel that the conflict is important for potential, eventual growth? The important piece here is intentionality. Boiled down: think, deeply, before speaking. What is your goal? What matters most? For me, I have made the decision that I will engage and respond to anything I hear that directly or indirectly adds to the oppression of marginalized groups. This has come at a steep interpersonal cost. One I decided I am willing to make. This is a personal decision that we each must face. Look within, and allow yourself to be brave and honest with what you find. All my best to you with this journey.
17 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
Dear Dr. Jenny, I am so sick of Zoom. I used to be a zookeeper and got to spend the day on my feet and barely saw screens. Because of changes at the zoo I have been furloughed and now everything I do is on my phone or computer. I can seriously pass 7 hours staring at something. It’s not that I totally mind zoning out, but I do worry about what it’s doing to my brain. Do you have any suggestions for how to change things up and not fall into the screen black hole? - Meg E.
Dr. Jenny: You really named it well, Meg. These screens do have a gravitational pull of sorts, don’t they? I am not typically a very behaviorally oriented psychologist, but in this case I think some tangible tools can come in handy. I have noticed that many of us use screens throughout our day out of boredom, habit, or as a quick dopamine lift. We need them for certain tasks, yes, but it’s probably not the best place to set your eyes all day when not needed. When I start my day, I organize the tasks I need to do on a screen. Right now that includes seeing therapy clients, writing notes, submitting billing and responding to emails. I allow myself to complete these things, and I allocate a certain amount of “screen play time” depending on how long I’ve already been looking at one. On a heavy work day, I allow just 1 additional hour of a screen of choice. On a day off, it may be more. Basically, I try to treat myself like a child that I love and want to protect. The trick here is learning to fill that screen less time with something that feels fulfilling. It can feel strange at first, but it is an opportunity to learn something new. In my case, my childhood hobby of writing poetry has resurfaced. This was born from an evening of staring at a wall because I was enforcing my screen time boundaries! I tolerated the boredom and eventually something came to me. I wish you luck, and I feel your pain!
The doctor is now in (and online). Have a question about mental health for Dr. Jenny? Submit what you'd like to ask: www.awarenessties.us/dear-dr-jenny If your question is selected, you will be notified, and it will be featured in AwareNow Magazine.
DR. JENNY MARTIN LICENSED CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST AWARENESS TIES OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR FOR MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS
www.gemstonewellness.com Dr. Jenny Martin is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in Chicago, IL. Her private practice, Gemstone Wellness, specializes in working with adolescents and adults touched by depression, anxiety, trauma, loss, purposelessness, and issues related to race, sexuality and gender expression. Jenny possesses an extensive background in the arts, specifically in music, and she enjoys incorporating creative mediums to facilitate emotional expression. Jenny received both her Masters Degree and her Doctoral Degree in Clinical Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She completed her Bachelor's Degree in Music and Songwriting at Berklee College of Music. Visit Gemstone Wellness (www.gemstonewellness.com).
18 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
SIP OF HOPE IS THE WORLD'S FIRST COFFEE SHOP WHERE 100% OF THE PROCEEDS SUPPORT PROACTIVE SUICIDE PREVENTION AND MENTAL HEALTH EDUCATION. Prevention starts with a conversation, and the conversation starts here. To learn how you can break the silence, visit SIPOFHOPE.COM
3039 W FULLERTON AVE. CHICAGO, IL 60647
“We are all strikingly unique, but astronomically powerful when we fight for the same things.” PROVIDENCE BOWMAN
AWARENESS TIES COLUMNIST 20 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
FEATURED ARTICLE BY PROVIDENCE BOWMAN
THE CAUSES THAT TIE ME A PERSONAL STORY THAT TIES US ALL TOGETHER
“If the reason why we do something, believe in something and work so hard for something is strong enough, it becomes easier to talk about it and fight for it - to wear our causes like badges of honor.” - Providence B. I have grown up believing that wearing your heart on your sleeve is something that represents weakness; something that symbolizes being different in a bad way. By displaying this weakness, I give others a reason to turn their back on me, and I open myself up for pain. However, this is by no means true. If nothing else, Awareness Ties has taught me to wear my heart vulnerably and proudly around my neck for all to see. The things that make us uniquely us are not things we should be ashamed of or things we should label as weaknesses. They make us who we are; they weave us together, and in the same way set us apart. Through my time working with Awareness Ties I have realized that I am a human being beautifully composed of many different things. At Awareness Ties we proudly stand with 22 CAUSES, with the absolute intent of continuing to grow that number to include all of the beautiful things that make us unique. When I reflect on what causes I am tied to, there is not one that I do not find myself tied to in a personal way. But there are seven causes that personally touch my life:Alzheimers, Bullying, Cancer, the Environment, Gender Equality, Unity and Suicide. These are the causes that make my heart beat a little bit faster with a yearning to find solutions. I wear them on my sleeve, around my neck, and nestled deeply in my heart. I lost a grandmother to the crippling effects of ALZHEIMER’S. I have seen, stood up against and been the victim of BULLYING. I have felt the effects of CANCER. I am responsible for taking care of the world we have been given so that my children may have a clean ENVIRONMENT. I am a woman vigorously fighting for GENDER EQUALITY. I will fight until we all stand as equality in UNITY. I want to change the conversation around SUICIDE. This is who I am. This is what ties me and binds me together. These are the causes which I hope to impact in my small corner of the world, with the hope that there are other people willing to join me. We often forget that we are not very different from one another. We are all strikingly unique, but astronomically powerful when we fight for the same things. What CAUSES do you stand for?
PROVIDENCE BOWMAN Awareness Ties Project Manager & Columnist www.awarenessties.us/staff Providence is a Gemini as well. She is a college student at Grand Valley State University, studying International Relations. She is passionate about using her words for good and is currently piecing stories together in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She loves to spend her free time traveling, with her head in a book, and by the water. She lives everyday by her mantra that we are here to pursue opportunities and “go be awesome”.
21 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to see an artist or innovator stalled in stasis, or a family struggling to survive repeatedly denied asylum status. LORRAINE D’ALESSIO
FOUNDER OF D’ALESSIO LAW GROUP 22 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
FEATURED COLUMN BY LORRINE D’ELESSIO
ATTORNEY LORRAINE D'ALESSIO CALLS FOR COMPASSION IN U.S. IMMIGRATION POLICY AHEAD OF 2020 ELECTION
It has been clear since the Trump administration’s first ill-fated travel ban on travelers from Muslim-majority countries that the president is more interested in thinking of U.S. immigration in broad brush strokes rather than in the finer motions required to better the process. The Trump administration has had four years to introduce new legislation, to improve U.S. immigration policy, and to revise aspects of the application process that no longer benefit the United States. In the past four years, there has been little action made to improve the process. Changes have been hastily implemented with little regard to the supposed facts that inspire them, or the consequences of haphazard policy. As a result, the country is facing new undiagnosed challenges that will surely grow worse if left unchecked. As an immigration attorney I have experienced the effects of the Trump administration’s tightening on legal immigration. Having worked with the top minds across tech, entertainment, and business for ten years, I have seen countless innovators have to put their plans on the back burner, or take their ideas, projects, and work to other countries who welcome their efforts with open arms. While the administration has not shown an appetite for updating immigration policy despite its very vocal qualms with it, it has shown an interest in slowing the immigration process down for countless individuals, families, and companies interested in pursuing new opportunities in the United States. New challenges in the visa process and new standards of proving evidentiary requirements have slowed down the petitioning process for individuals who would have had no problem applying for visa status prior to 2016. There have been countless highly qualified individuals who have had to change their plans and take their work to other countries in order to reach new heights within their field. Applicants with multiple previous visa approvals now face increased rates for requests for evidence, and even outright denials– a heartbreaking trend that is hard to explain to people who have spent the past 3-10 years building an impressive life and career in the United States. After four years, it’s not hard to see the consequences of this tightening. We as a country are losing opportunities left and right, opportunities that these immigrants take elsewhere to develop. Multiply this across the board and it’s not hard to imagine the sum effect of this approach on U.S. businesses and commerce. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to see an artist or innovator stalled in stasis, or a family struggling to survive repeatedly denied asylum status. Slowdowns in the process not only cause massive heartbreak for those who desperately need compassion, but also pain for Americans who rely on the work and innovation of foreign talent to stay competitive.
23 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
Despite numerous claims on the campaign trail and from the Oval Office, immigrants and nonimmigrants not only support this country through their taxes, but also through the contributions they make to the United States in innovation, creativity, culture, and perspective. Immigrants do incredible things when given the opportunity to excel. They innovate entire industries, they start Fortune 500 companies, they create genre-bending, humanity reflecting art, and most important of all, they remind us of the fibers that tie us together as human beings despite the borders that separate us. As a Canadian immigrant myself, I know firsthand the challenges immigrants face throughout the process and at the border. The petitioning process is a thoroughly demanding one. To even have the courage and patience to pursue a U.S. visa, green card, or citizenship reflects an admirable drive for opportunity that has defined the United States since its inception, and one we must support and encourage. It is core to our beliefs as a nation that everyone deserves the chance to better themselves. There is no doubt that this election will affect the future of this country as well as our relationship to the rest of the world, especially given the current state of the U.S. in the COVID-19 era. But the days of shoot first, ask questions later must come to a close. Immigration policy needs to be guided and driven by facts, not by rhetoric. And even more importantly, it needs to be led with compassion, and a respect for humanity. My hope is that the next era will be defined by the compassion so desperately needed in the current one.
LORRAINE D’ALESSIO Founder of D’Alessio Law Group www.dlgimmigration.com Founding partner of D’Alessio Law Group, Lorraine was named the 2017 Leader in Law by the Los Angeles Business Journal and is the recipient of the 2018 Enterprising Women Award. A former Ford model turned legal powerhouse, Lorraine is a multi-award-winning, immigration expert who regularly contributes to the Los Angeles Times, The Hollywood Reporter, LA Business Journal, Playback and other leading outlets in the U.S.. Lorraine has provided counsel to hundreds of prominent and award-winning entertainment agencies, unions, private companies, academic institutions, tech startups, entrepreneurs and enterprises, and has worked on highly successful refugee and deportation cases with immigrant communities across Los Angeles.
24 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
We all know someone affected by Breast Cancer. Gin Lane 1751 is working to make a difference!
Gin Lane 1751 is DONATING 50% OF PROFITS of all gin sold this October TO BREAST CANCER RESEARCH.
When you see Madeline as a person first, you understand what she is capable of. ROSANNE STUART
MADELINEâ€™S MOTHER & MANAGER OF MADELINE STUART MODELLING
26 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW FEATURING MADELINE STUART
MADDY THE MODEL AND SO MUCH MORE
“First on the runway, now on the screen and also in the dance studio, Madeline is making her presence known standing up for inclusion and equality for young talent with disabilities. As the first supermodel with Down syndrome, Madeline Stuart challenges our perception of identity and beauty. In an exclusive interview, I had the opportunity to speak with her mother, Rosanne.” - Allié M. Allié: There are supermodels, and then there's Madeline who redefines 'supermodel' as she brings something extra to the runway. Putting that extra chromosome of hers to work on and off camera, what is it that you want people to see in your daughter? What about Down syndrome do you want them to understand? Rosanne: I think it is important that we always see the person first. Once you look at the disability and make it your focus, decade long stigmas cloud your judgment. When you see Madeline as a person first, you understand what she is capable of. You think about all the things she has done and all the things she will do; there is no barriers holding your thoughts back. We should never judge a book by it’s cover, every person deserves the respect for us to dig a little deeper and support.
27 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
Allié: In the film, 'Maddy The Model', a documentary that follows Madeline on her journey to becoming the world’s first professional supermodel with Down syndrome, what is your favorite scene? Rosanne: I think my favorite scene is us in the car singing, or us at the end walking up the street, that is the real us, that is us every day. We have the most amazing relationship, at the end of the day our connections to one and other is what truly matters, all the money and success in the world means nothing if you have no one to share it with, my proudest achievement in the world is my connection to my daughter, we are best friends and because of that we will always be blessed. Allié: With the pandemic changing film festival protocol and the film currently making its way through the film festival circuit, how can people access this powerful and personal film? Rosanne:
At the moment it has been shown at many film festivals around the world both online and at actual
festivals, with time it will come to TV and hopefully Netflix or similar will show it. It has not been released to the public yet except in Sweden.
MADDY THE MODEL THE OFFICIAL TRAILER
28 AWARENOW / THE STAND LIFE EDITION UP EDITION
Every person deserves the respect for us to dig a little deeper and support. ROSANNE STUART
MADELINEâ€™S MOTHER & MANAGER OF MADELINE STUART MODELLING
29 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
AlliĂŠ: Breaking barriers on the runway and on the screen, Madeline is now seeking to educate and empower through dance. Please introduce us to InsideOutside Dance. Where did it start and where is it going? Rosanne: InsideOutside Dance is a NDIS registered dance school based in Queensland Australia for people of all ages with different abilities. We work with young people with a disability, providing them with opportunities to learn a variety of dance styles and engage in performances and workshops in a nurturing safe environment. We launched in February 2016 and now have over 100 students participating both online through Zoom and in venues across Brisbane. We are currently expanding across Australia with students logging in online and we hope to start inviting students globally. Our classes are low cost, high energy and great fun. As well as keeping fit, our students are also learning skills for life including: Confidence, Socialisation, Communication, Teamwork, Leadership & SelfAwareness. We currently offer classes in Dance, Drumming, Drama, Musical Theatre, Fitness and Yoga. Over the past 4 years we have secured performance opportunities at The Special Olympics dinner dance, The All Ability Balls in Hervey Bay and Bundaberg and Access Arts end of year event and the Royal Ballet. We were also finalists in the 2016 Longman Awards for Business Achievement. Our Owner/Ambassador Madeline Stuart is a great inspiration to our students. We aim to 1) provide educational and dance performance opportunities for young people with a disability, 2) create a dynamic, flowing and exciting working environment for our performers, teachers and students through using global best practice to provide the ultimate dance experience and (3) work with our communities to engage them in positive, inclusive activities that bring all walks of the community together for a common goal â€“ to enjoy dance.
To learn more about InsideOutside dance, please contact Rosanne Stuart at 0428156688. See their social media on Facebook www.facebook.com/InsideOutsideDance & Instagram: www.instagram.com/insideoutsidedance_ndis.
30 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
I approach coaching with one major priority, to build trusting relationships with my student-athletes. COACH KELLS
UP2US SPORTS COACH 32 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
COACHES WITH A CAUSE A COLUMN BY UP2US SPORTS (ARTICLE BY RACHEL WYMAN)
FACILITATING HEALING AND WELLNESS THROUGH SPORTS
Author’s Note: Kells’ preferred pronouns are “they, them, theirs.” Coach Kells is all about healing—for the kids they mentor, their community, and themself. Both on and off the basketball court, Kells integrates combined interests in wellness, relationship-building, and social justice in order to build on sports’ potential as a healing modality. Coach Kells is part of a growing national service organization called Up2Us Sports (www.Up2usSports.org). Founded in 2010, the organization’s goal is to recruit, train and support sports coaches to inspire youth to achieve their potential. In partnership with AmeriCorps and adidas, the program has supported more than 3,100 sports coaches nationwide who have brought sports and mentoring to 600,000 youth in 18 states in 28 different sports. Having served as an Up2Us Sports Coach for the past year, Coach Kells is ready to renew their commitment to coaching a second year at their charter school that focuses on underserved youth in New Orleans. Kells came to Up2Us Sports because of a lifelong involvement in basketball and an interest in trauma-sensitive coaching. Even before coaching, Kells was applying themes from the basketball court to daily life, using the concept of training reps and drills to help find grounding during times of uncertainty. Transitioning into the role of coach, Kells was able to draw from these personal experiences to use sports as a wellness tool and to share these tools with their student athletes. “I approach coaching with one major priority,” says Coach Kells, “to build trusting relationships with my studentathletes.”
During their first year at SciTech Charter School, this meant communicating with young athletes
consistently, encouraging them to do the same on and off the court, finding small moments throughout the day to connect and check in, and learning how to “read in between the lines” when kids appeared to be struggling. “By getting to know each individual’s body language and mannerisms as a coach,” Kells says, “I know when things are going right or wrong and I can help my students express their thoughts and needs.” Listening is an important part of this strategy. Coach Kells listens to youths’ needs and makes it a point to meet students “where they are at.” Kells also realizes that students join their team for a variety of reasons secondary to the actual game of basketball. “Some of my players are here to play basketball. Some of my players are here to gain selfconfidence. I think the most common theme is that a lot of them came to build friendships. So I made sure to try to intersect all of these motivations when it comes to planning different drills or floor practices, doing different icebreakers, and breaking kids up into different groups. It’s extremely important to be intentional as a coach.” Up2Us Coach Training has inspired Kells to be more compassionate with themself, to create positive practices, and to have a growth mindset. These are tools that Kells shared and reinforced with their student athletes, hoping that they would remember these lessons after their time together was over. “[I always remind them to] pay attention to what’s around you. Use what’s around you. I challenged them to think from an abundance perspective instead of what they don’t have.”
33 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
“I can be fruitful and productive and effective and impactful not only for myself…” In focusing on creating a safe group dynamic and building relationships and trust through physical activity, Coach Kells is subtly reshaping the role of youth sports programming—turning towards a more holistic approach in which trust and camaraderie, as well as both mental and physical well-being, are the foundation of team sports. Coach Kells is looking beyond trauma-sensitive coaching towards the potential for healing and wellness that a great sports coach can facilitate. “My experience with Up2Us Sports as a coach led me to realize I can be fruitful and productive and effective and impactful not only for myself, [but] for my community and my youth, by doing wellness work. I think the trauma-sensitive coaching is just the tip of the iceberg.” Coach Kells has been serving as an Up2Us Sports coach since August 2019 at ReNEW SciTech Academy in New Orleans. Kells would like to acknowledge their family, community members, youth coaches, college coaches, teammates, players, and coworkers, recognizing that reaching one’s highest potential is a team effort.
34 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
HELP RAISE AWARENESS & SUPPORT FOR THE CAUSES YOU CARE ABOUT. JOIN AWARENESS TIES, A COMMUNITY OF INCLUSION AND EQUALITY, TO SUPPORT THE CAUSES THAT TIE US ALL TOGETHER. JOIN NOW TO RAISE AWARENESS (AND TO GET COOL SWAG). WWW.AWARENESSTIES.US/JOIN
Love and hate are beasts, and the one that grows is the one you feed. SHANE KOYCZAN
AWARD WINNING SPOKEN WORD POET AND AUTHOR 36 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH SHANE KOYCZAN
TO THIS DAY
A POEM FOR THE BULLIED & BEAUTIFUL
“Years ago, I heard this poem. To this day, it is one of my favorites. For me, speaking with Shane was the same kind of ‘awesome’ as a kid in little league getting to meet their favorite major league baseball player.” - Allié M. Allié: ’To This Day' is a poem that is... unforgettable. Memorable are so many experiences for so many of being bullied, of being the underdog... Was the story of ‘pork chop' a real, personal account? Or is there another story of your own that inspired this poem? Shane: There was no shortage of names I got called in school. ‘Pork chop’ just happened to have an odd origin around it because of my relationship with my grandmother and what that meant. So that was the one that stood out… It was a joke with my grandmother that her and I shared between each other, and then it became this ‘thing’ that broke out in school. So, it was probably the most affecting name that I got called when I was in school, but certainly not the only name. It was an emotional tornado of rage and confusion, despair and anguish. There are a lot of things that I think a lot of people don't take seriously like the sort of wound something like that can leave behind because they don't know the entire story behind it or or whatever. It becomes the dangerous at school. It’s blood in the water, and once the shark starts sort of circling. If the name catches on and people start picking it up, they have ownership of it, and then it’s like them having ownership of a piece of you in some way. It becomes very demoralizing.
TO THIS DAY TED TALK FOR THE BULLIED & BEAUTIFUL BY SHANE KOYCZAN
37 AWARENOW / THE STAND LIFE EDITION UP EDITION
“…it became such a salve to heal up those wounds.” Allié: Do you find that poetry helps you work through things personally? Shane:
When I started writing, it was because I didn't have any friends. I didn’t have anyone to talk to. My
grandmother one day just sort of put a notebook in front of me and said, “You don’t have anyone to talk to? You talk to this. It's never going to judge you based on what kind of clothes you wear or who you are or who you like or your opinions or whatever. You can tell it anything, and it'll keep it for you.” That's really how I got started with writing, and it became such a salve in a way to sort of heal up those wounds. I could you just crack open my book if I was having a bad day and and write a few things down. It didn't start off as poetry. It was just sort of random thoughts on paper. It also gave me a way to express myself… If you're constantly being told nothing you say has value or meaning, if you hear it over and over again, you start to believe it. It bottles you up in in a certain way, and when that happens that pressure rises. This was a way to let off some of that steam as well. Not that other people were going to see it, but for myself that I could do that, it really gave me something to work with to help me through those tumultuous times.
ON POETRY & BULLYING AN INTERVIEW WITH SHANE KOYCZAN
38 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
Allié: You are a poet, not a therapist, but I’m sure people have reached out to you for advice about bullying. What has that been like for you? Shane: It’s difficult precisely because of what you said. I’m not a therapist. I’m just a poet and sometimes you get letters online that are really… affecting in a way. You do what you can, you reach back with the numbers and the sort of information that you have on hand to sort of help them through, but it doesn't always feel like it's enough. Sometimes you get letters from kids who are really on the edge of something, and you reach back, but then you hear nothing back. So it just kind of puts you in this weird space - this sort of nebulous, vacuous space of not knowing what became of that person or how their journey ended or if they're keeping on going. So, it's hard. I try to give the best advice I can, but I don't think there’s one blanket answer for everything that every kid is going through. The advice I try to give most is to find community through your interests because being bullied is a very isolating experience for the people that are going through it. It leads to loneliness which then in turn fosters depression, suicidal ideation and things of that nature. Having community can help mitigate some of the mental and emotional pressure that comes from bullying. It’s important to feel that you have support on some level, even if it's not direct support in dealing with a bully. Having an outlet or a platform where you can be yourself and be treated with respect for your views and your opinions, it’s like a poultice against the wound of abuse. Bullying demoralizes you. So, it becomes really important to have something in your life that can balance that out and lift you up when you're feeling down because when you're bullied, you spend a lot of time feeling down. So that's the advice I try to give people. Find community and build community through your interests. That way at least you’re getting some positive flow into your life and not just feeding the negative beast. Love and hate are beasts and the one that grows is the one you feed. So, you have to feed that part of yourself - not just take in the negative in because all the negative is going to do is poison you.
To learn more about Shane and his work, visit www.shanekoyczan.com.
39 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
I truly believe youth are not just the leaders of tomorrow but the leaders of today. KELLY LOVELL
SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR, SPEAKER & CEO OF BRIDGINGTHEGAP VENTURES 40 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
BridgingTheGap To A Better Future A COLUMN BY KELLY LOVELL
I STAND WITH YOUTH LEADERS OF NOT JUST TOMORROW BUT TODAY
2020 is an extraordinary year for many reasons. It marks the start of the Decade for Action to mobilize our communities to build a more inclusive, just and sustainable world by or before the year 2030, and the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. Such events are the foundation for a year of new beginnings. But 2020 is also a year of transformative change and disruption, a time where much of what was once thought impossible has been proven our new and very real reality. Our homes have become classrooms and offices. Due to COVID-19 closures, over 1.5 billion of the world’s learners were kept out of educational institutions, nearly all the public social and recreational gatherings we have filled our lives with were put to a halt, and, we cannot neglect the economic disruption and job losses—of which women, visible minorities and young people have been the most vulnerable to experience around the world. It is common in such extraordinary circumstances to feel uncertain and somewhat fearful, to look to the future with despair when all that is familiar in life breaks down. In these instances, it is easy to resist, to try to hold on to old structures and our traditional way of doing things. We can become paralyzed by anxiety without a clear direction forward. Many would argue that in a time of crisis—personal or worldly—it is best to stay safe, to work within our comfort zone and not take risks. Yet, as a young changemaker and entrepreneur, I learned in order to create and seize opportunities, I need to be able to embrace some risk and uncertainty. Since starting my first business at 19, I have dedicated my career to preparing young people for the future—developing skills training, youth-led innovation and workplace programs for emerging talent to thrive. Why? I truly believe youth are not just the leaders of tomorrow but the leaders of today. Our generation is aware, globally-connected and innately attuned to our role in shaping the future. The challenge is not in convincing us of the need to take action, it’s understanding how to act on our ideas and tangibly create the change we want to see. Being a young person passionate about creating change, especially during a time of upheaval and uncertainty, however, is no small feat. Many young people acknowledge both the burden of responsibility and the frustration from not having their lived experiences represented by decision-makers. A common sentiment from young people, and one I’ve witnessed myself, is that many community leaders, governments, business experts—and even their peers— underestimate the power of our youngest generations. To successfully build action plans for future generations, I believe it is crucial that we involve the voices, ideas and active participation of the nearly two billion young people under the age of 30 around the world—for we will be the generation of leaders that will be living through the outcomes and dealing with the consequences of the decisions made today.
41 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
The BridgingTheGap community serves over 15 million young people in 243 nations of the world. I’ve made it my mission to empower my peers to realize their potential to lead change. I founded BridgingTheGap Ventures to connect young people together with various stakeholders through curated forums, insights and tools to bridge opportunity gaps, prepare for the future of work and foster inclusive innovation. Together, the BridgingTheGap community serves over 15 million young people in 243 nations of the world. We ensure all members of this community don’t just have a voice—they have a role in co-creating solutions with serious impact. Each of us has unique life experiences and challenges that will influence our thought process and approach—naturally, our solutions should reflect this diversity. Of course, sometimes this can be easier said than done. Society has a tendency to operate in silos and it takes time, commitment and perseverance to bring everyone together. This year, it’s become even more critical that we focus on ways we can build bridges—reducing the gaps in opportunity, inclusion, access and understanding that slow or stop our efforts to build a just and sustainable future for everyone. Standing up for me means empowering these young leaders to stand up for themselves and others too. Now, what are you going to stand up for?
Connect with Kelly Lovell on Instagram: @kellyalovell To learn more, visit startbridgingthegap.com.
KELLY LOVELL Social Entrepreneur, Speaker & CEO of BridgingTheGap Ventures www.bridgingthegapventures.com Kelly Lovell, a 19-time award-winning entrepreneur and three-time TEDx speaker, empowers young people to prepare for the changing workplace and solve global challenges. In addition to being the CEO of BridgingTheGap Ventures and MyEffect, Inc., she is the founder and Global Chair of YOUNGA Forum. Lovell is globally recognized for her expertise in the future of work, youth-led innovation and social entrepreneurship. Her youth networks reach young leaders in 200 countries and her leadership impact has been recognized by distinguished leaders including the Queen of England, former heads of state and representatives of the G7, G20 and the High-Level Political Forum.
42 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
I dreamt that one day I would belong. MOHAMED HAMMOUD
LEADERSHIP CONSULTANT & HOST OF UNFLTRD PODCAST 44 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
PERSONAL STORY FROM MOHAMED HAMMOUD
DYING TO BELONG
OVERCOMING BULLYING & RECLAIMING A NAME
Bullying isolates, it degrades, weakens and silences us, erodes at our confidence and self-worth and deprives us of the basic need of belonging to a community, a tribe. I know, I was bullied as a youth. Although it was not physical, the emotional impact left a scar and changed me forever. At 7, my name was taken away from me when we arrived in Canada. We were told we would fit in better with Western names. A new land, a new name, a new identity. I begrudgingly became Mike but inside, I was still Mohamed. As Mike, I always wore the cloak of being othered and never quite felt like I belonged. In high-school, the in-crowd jocks teased me and called me names, making me feel like I wasn’t good enough, not masculine enough, not like them enough. The result, I was never happy enough. I found some hope through the songs of Howard Jones and hid behind various masks and the stinging loneliness of a world where on the outside, I was seemingly everyone’s friend, but on the inside, I was alone. But I dreamt that one day I would belong. That day came years later when I attended summer school in a small-town in Quebec. Mike transformed into Mikeal, and with new-found confidence, he gained popularity and became the “in-boy” and everyone’s friend. At last, I belonged. But as the summer was coming to an end, so was the stint of happiness. “I can’t return to that small-town, to Mike!” I told myself. And so, one night, overcome with dread, I entered my dorm, grabbed a bottle of painkillers and took a few pills, then a few more, and then dropped a few on the ground in a desperate call for help. When I came to in the hospital room, I felt alone and ashamed, a feeling which only grew more pronounced over the remaining few days of school and the impending return to “Mike’s world.” It was then that Madame Guylaine taught me a lesson I still carry to this day through the story of The Little Prince: “One can only see with the heart, what is essential is invisible to the eyes.” “In life, what truly matters,” she said “is a single true human connection.” And with that ray of hope, Mikeal found the courage to come home and brave his last year in high-school. In university, a rising tide of Islamophobia from the Gulf War meant that I would endure the sting of racism and the bitterness of being othered once again. But I was able to harness courage to transform fear into adventure and I left Canada to study abroad in Spain.
45 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
“Mohamed was reborn.” There, I became Miguel, and as I traveled around Europe, I made many new friends. Spain awakened in me an appreciation for my Islamic heritage; suddenly liberated, I shed any shame I’d felt because of my Islamic identity, because of my name. When I returned to Canada, the fear of bullying behind me, I found enough courage to reclaim my Islamic identity. Mohamed was reborn. Today, in spite of rising anti-Muslim sentiments, I strive to find belonging through authentic connections and the belief that we can be the change we want to see in the world. Together, we can harness the power to change our mindsets and to reform a culture of hatred and terror, and instead of building walls, we can build bridges and spaces where we all belong because in the end, we may come from many different backgrounds, but we form one nation: humankind.
Learn more about Mohamed www.mohamedhammoud.com
46 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
If you want change don't talk about it, be about it. BRIANNI WALKER ACTRESS
48 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH BRIANNI WALKER
WE MUST RISE UP MORE THAN A SONG, A CALL TO ACTION
“When we heard this song and it’s clear, confident call to action, we knew this was a voice we wanted to make sure was heard. We had the opportunity to connect with Brianni Walker, a 13-year-old from Compton with a strong statement about bullying.” - Jack M. Jack: This song is so powerful. What inspired you to write this song, Brianni? Was there a specific bullying story of your own or someone close to you? Brianni: Honesty I wrote this song after hearing about an 8-year-old boy who hung himself inside his closet and a little girl who was killed, put inside a suitcase and tossed on the side of the freeway. At that moment, I knew I had to share my story overcoming bullying, child abuse, molestation and suicide. I wanted to educate others through song and teach them what stems a bully. Bullies come from broken homes. Bullies are not born; they're taught. Bullies make themselves authority figures.
WE MUST RISE UP ORIGINAL SONG BY BRIANNI WALKER
49 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
“Bullies… can’t face the person in the mirror.” Jack: “People are images, reflections of themselves.” Great line. What were you trying to say with this line? Brianni: People are images, reflections of themselves means; the images we reflect comes from our parents. When you live in an hostile environment and watch parents do drugs, drink alcohol, domestic violence and abuse, their children are bullies. That child, teen or adult takes their frustration out on others. A bullying parent creates images reflected back onto to their child and now their images become their parent. When they become a problem in society, those parents get mad but not realizing its their fault. Bullies hurt others because they're taught, have low self esteem and can't face the person in the mirror.
Jack: Bold words in this song, Brianni. Sometimes, it takes a lot of bravery to be so bold. To those who have voices they want to raise, but are scared to, what advice do you have for them? Brianni: My advice to anyone who has a voice but afraid to speak up. I say speak up. Use your voice. You're feelings matter. If you want change don't talk about it, be about it. And don't let the Devil’s evilness trick you by staying silent.
Brianni Walker is a 13-year-old Jr. Oscar winner and 2 time nominee for the Young Artist & Young Entertainer Award. She resides in the city of Compton where her grandmother noticed her natural God given talent when she was only 8months-old and said, “Daddy, did it.” At the age of 18 months, she recited the Pledge of Allegiance honoring President Obama. Brianni’s career in Hollywood began at the age 4. Landing her first role on KCAL 9, The Doctors, which caught the attention of Beyonce & Atlanta Housewives Kenya Moore for their music videos, 8 national commercials, 6 television shows and a number of internet web series. She's currently starring in the Dhar Mann Changing Lives web series and has the lead role as Drella in a new global show, ‘Kool School’. Brianni is known for her role as Jenna/Ashley on Mani Brat and Nina on Nickelodeon (Netflix) Sam & Cat. In addition, she has been in two feature films ‘The Uncanny’ (2020) and "Tell Her" soon to be released. Music videos that have featured Brianni include Joey Badazzz "Land of The Free’, Black Eyes Peas "Dopeness", BMike "Story of Erica" as young Erica.
To learn more about Brianni Walker, follow her on Instagram (www.instagram.com/ms.brianniwalker). Check her out on IMDB: www.imdb.com/name/nm5405385
50 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
VOTE “The right to vote is precious, almost sacred. It is the most powerful nonviolent tool or instrument in a democratic society. Use it.” – John Lewis
The rangers who give us a fighting chance to solve the poaching problem are facing their biggest threats ever thanks to the pandemic. JENNA SEIDEN
CO-FOUNDER OF ZAMBEZI PARTNERS 52 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
SPECIAL FEATURE BY JENNA SEIDEN
ENDANGERED RANGERS SUPPORTING AFRICAN WILDLIFE & THEIR HUMAN PROTECTORS Every 15 minutes an elephant is killed for its ivory tusks. That is about 100 lost a day. They will be extinct in less than 10 years at this rate. Everyday 4 giraffe, 3 rhino, 2 lion, and 300 pangolin are illegally poached. In less than thirty years, all of these species will be gone from the wild. The Northern White Rhino sadly already left us completely in 2018. The most endangered large carnivore, the African Wild Dog, has lost 98% of its population with only an estimated 6,600 left in the whole of Africa. The list goes on. Wildlife poaching was already an epidemic before Covid-19 crossed into the beautiful continent of Africa. Pre-Covid, entire sub-Saharan species were already on track for extinction, but now that the pandemic is in full effect, these timelines are all the more real if not expedited. The rangers who give us a fighting chance to solve the poaching problem, are facing their biggest threats ever thanks to the pandemic.
53 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
The economic effect of the Covid-19 is taking an understated toll on the lives of the people safeguarding the animals. As tourism evaporates and jobs disappear in Africa, not only do individuals, their families, and entire communities suffer, but there is a cascading effect, as threats increase exponentially to an already vulnerable wildlife population. While most of the world has slowed down, wildlife poaching has increased. Wildlife poachers know that patrols are stretched thin or depleted entirely and that reinforcements of food and supplies are scarce. They know that law enforcement has been downsized or is distracted by other concerns. One also does not immediately make the connection that in addition to tourism revenue leading to job loss, Covid-19 has affected the supply chains and services that rangers depend on. Flights which may have brought in equipment and supplies to maintain the ranks are scarce and services such as medical facilities and schools are reduced or shut down, so that if a ranger or a family member gets sick or needs childcare, their important role as ranger or scout takes a backseat to their health or family obligations. Pre-Covid, there was some encouraging news on the horizon with rangers making headway with poachers due to advances in both training and technology. Besides their acute senses and physical prowess on the ground, new software and communications systems were being deployed to enable patrols to be more proactive and faster in their response to live poaching threats. AI-cameras were on the verge of not only identifying animals verses humans, but near 100% accuracy in animal species and poacher detection, further
Elephants will be extinct in less than 10 years at this rate. 54 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
helping rangers better manage their resources. Pseudo-satellite drones were being developed to fly 24/7 out of eye and gunshot range of poachers to help identify threats and inform ranger deployment. Even scientific studies analyzing corridor migration patterns and animal vocalizations were queued up to be used for predictive algorithm models to live on newly launched cloud servers in the regionâ€Ś but now all this is on hold and these these peacemakers on the ground need our support more than ever. It is ironic that as the world has united against this miasmic experience, it has also become more provincial in its charity. People are truly compassionate and generous. They help their neighbors readily, but often forget that the human toll is equally as consequential in places that seem foreign and so far away. Africa suffers from this and now the rangers, these incredible guardians really need our help and without them holding down the wildlife fort we may not have anything to come back to. WWW.AWARENESSTIES.US
On December 13, 2020 on KNEKTÂŽ TV there will be a fundraiser to celebrate the incredible work these teams do on the ground, highlight the communities and anti-poaching programs these men and women are integral to, and to showcase some of the incredible technology that will reverse those ominous timelines. Two amazing organizations, the African Community & Conservation Foundation (ACCF) and Zambezi Partners, an investment and technology solutions provider, along with some recognizable friends, will be sharing stories from these boots on the ground and what it is going to take to help keep these communities in shape through this ordeal. It is overdue to thank these men and women for their tireless work, but it is not too late to keep them healthy, strong, and prepared to protect our animals and planet. Please visit www.endangeredrangers.com for more information.
JENNA SEIDEN Co-Founder of Zambezi Partnersâ€¨ www.zambezipartners.com Jenna Seiden is the Co-Founder of Zambezi Partners, a venture capital firm committed to zero poaching through investment and technology in Sub-Saharan Africa. Jenna has worked at the intersection of media, finance, and technology for over twenty years and is now devoting her life to wildlife conservation. Alongside her business partner, Bastiaan den Braber, they developed Zambezi which is one part a triple-bottom-line venture fund focusing on profit, people, and planet, and one part an AI-based connected platform for anti-poaching. They are grateful for the partnership with the African Community & Conservation Foundation (ACCF) whose purpose is to preserve Africa's wildlife by raising awareness and funding for key conservation projects and transformative community programs carried out in Africa. Their alignment in using innovative efforts to protect people and animals in Africa is what makes the Endangered Rangers event on KNEKT TV such a rewarding endeavor. Jenna looks forward to eradicating poaching in her lifetime and celebrating the work of the rangers and scouts on the ground.
55 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
More than anything, I want patients to know that they have control. ROBERT PACE, MD
Neurologist and Director of Neuroimmunology, Memorial Institute for Neurosciences 56 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
KEEPING PACE WITH MS A COLUMN BY DR. ROBERT PACE
CONTROLLING THE FIRE
WHEN IT COMES TO MS, IT’S ALL ABOUT FIRE PREVENTION
“Meet Dr. Robert Pace. He is a neuroscientist and a translator. That’s right. He can translate MS to those of us who understand it least but yearn to ‘get it’ most. Metaphorical in explanation, you’ll understand why I now relate to the song ‘Girl On Fire’ by Alicia Keys so much.” - Allié M. There are many things I try to do when I meet a patient newly diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, but really only one that I have to do. I’ve seen hundreds of patients in this situation, and, although the outward manifestations vary from person to person, the underlying emotion is always the same: fear. This is absolutely understandable. All chronic conditions bring fear, the magnitude of which is usually proportional to how unpredictable that condition is. There are few medical conditions that are as unpredictable as Multiple Sclerosis. One MS patient may live her entire life with few (if any) problems. Another may accumulate dramatic disability over a short period of time. And everything in between. In medical school, if you didn’t know the answer to an exam question, you had a reasonable chance by guessing “Multiple Sclerosis”. No matter who the patient nor what the symptom, MS can cause it. Newly diagnosed patients learn this in marathon Google sessions days before we ever meet. By then, most are armed with an array of facts about MS: its caused by the immune system, it affects young people, it can be “relapsing” or “progressive”, it damages “myelin”. The problem is that, all though full of facts, search engines don’t always convey the truth. And facts out of context compound fear. So, this is the one thing I have to do. I have to help chip away at the fear. Fortunately, just like any other monster in a corner, shining light on a disease makes it much less frightening. So what is Multiple Sclerosis? Doctors (especially neurologists) love to use big, complicated terms to describe things in order to make us seem smarter than we really are. So, if I followed the protocol, I’d say that Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic autoimmune condition of the central nervous system characterized by recurrent inflammatory demyelinating events separated in space and time. While this would be an accurate statement, it wouldn’t really help someone understand what they’re dealing with.
Instead, I prefer to explain MS the way I actually think about it. Imagine that your brain and spine were a giant building where all of the decisions in your body were made. Inside there were millions of offices that dealt with different things; one might be in charge of extending your left thumb. Another may be in charge of sensing cold on your right foot. In another office, the color blue is recognized, and so on. In this case, Multiple Sclerosis would start off like fires. A fire starts in a particular office and causes damage. That might lead to a symptom (like difficulty extending your left thumb, or inability to feel cold on your right foot, or not seeing the color blue, etc.). BUT, it also might not. And, in fact, it usually doesn’t lead to any symptom. Why? Because the brain is really, really good at getting all of these jobs done. If there’s a fire in the office that moves your thumb, that job gets moved into another office. This happens so quickly that you never notice the job wasn’t being done. Easy. 57 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
However, not all of these offices are the same. Some offices do jobs that can’t be easily moved. If a fire happens in one of these locations, a symptom arises. Over time, you may be able to rearrange the jobs such that the symptom remits. But you may be left with a symptom that doesn’t resolve completely, or at all. So, one of the most important factors that determines how many symptoms someone with MS does or doesn’t have is luck. Some fires just hit the wrong offices. Not all the variability is due to chance, however. Possibly the biggest factor in disease severity is the frequency that the fires occur. One person may have a fire, on average, once every 10-15 years. That’s pretty infrequent, but fires still happen multiple times over the course of her life, and she therefore has Multiple Sclerosis. Another person may have fires every 10-15 weeks. For him, hitting these critical offices is almost inevitable, and symptoms will accumulate much faster. These “fires” (which are started by the immune system) are what we are referring to when we say “relapse”. So, a patient with Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS) is not always affected by symptoms (remember, most relapses happen without the persons awareness). New symptoms, however, can crop up at any time. Moreover, old symptoms that have previously resolved can come back when the body is under stress from something else. We may see this happen years after the original fire that caused them. In these situations, it’s not because a new fire is going on. Rather, the brain cannot continue to compensate for previous damage when its under stress. This is something we call recrudescence (again because of the trying-to-seem-smart thing). There’s another layer on top of all of this. Imagine that building having fire after fire, year after year. Over time, a couple of problems start to crop up. One is that, eventually, you can run out of spare offices. The brain is incredibly adaptable, but it can only take so much damage before it can’t keep up with all of its demands. The other is that, after years and years of fires (along with any other damage that has accumulated over one’s life), eventually the structure of the building can become unsound. Then, the building can start to collapse in on itself, and symptoms can start to continuously accumulate. That is a very different problem, and hitting that with a fire-hose isn’t going to help. When this occurs, that person now has what we call Progressive MS. (Because neurologists love to needlessly complicate things, we sometimes refer to “Primary Progressive” and “Secondary Progressive”. If your neurologist insists on using these terms, just yell “shut up, nerd!” or something to that effect and we’ll usually pipe down.)
What can we do about all this? Science has known about multiple sclerosis since the 1800s. We figured out that MS had something to do with the immune system as early as the 1940s. But up until the 1990s, there was really nothing that we could do about it. Before this, we simply hoped that the fires would be relatively infrequent and would miss critical spaces. We could give steroids (i.e. the neurologist’s go-to treatment when we have no idea what to do) while a fire was happening to help it to go out faster. But there was nothing we could do to prevent fires. Then, in 1993, the first treatment became available that was able to reduce the number of fires that a patient would have. This was a big deal; so much so that the medication’s initial offering was done via lottery. This was when we started to play some defense against MS. Since then however, more treatments have become available, and within a couple of decades we’ve shifted from playing defense to playing offense. We now have over 20 different disease-modifying agents treatments (DMTs) that can alter the course of someone’s MS. Although these treatments approach the problem in very different ways, they all have one primary job: stop new fires. They are all fire suppression. Our hope with treatment is that, from the time it’s started, that there will be no more fires.
58 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
“MS a complex condition, and as such requires a complex approach to management.” Management goes far beyond just drugs, however. MS a complex condition, and as such requires a complex approach to management. Diet, exercise, sleep, symptom and stress management are integral to a successful treatment approach. More than anything, I want patients to know that they have control. I don’t want them to have to live in fear of what the next fire will bring. Of course, nothing is within our complete control, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try.
ROBERT PACE, MD Neurologist and Director of Neuroimmunology, Memorial Institute for Neurosciences www.memorialhealthcare.org/provider/pace Dr. Pace cares for and has expertise in a variety of neurologic conditions. He is passionate about demyelinating conditions of the central nervous system and holds a fellowship from the University of Michigan in clinical neuroimmunology and MS. Along with Dr. Aburashed, they make up the provider care team in the MS center at Memorial Healthcare Institute for Neuroscience. He has experience using a variety of immunomodulating and suppressing agents and also lectures nationally regarding treatment options in Multiple Sclerosis. 59 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
“There is no safe amount of alcohol consumption at any time during a pregnancy.” JACQUELINE WAY
CO-FOUNDER OF 365GIVE 60 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
SPECIAL FEATURE BY JACQUELINE WAY
4% OF THE POPULATION HAS THIS INVISIBLE DISABILITY
I will always remember the day I got the call that change my life forever. It was from my adoption social worker. Her message was simple. You have a son. My husband and I had been chosen to be the parents of a 4-month-old baby boy. The pure joy and love that ran through my body was something I can never fully describe. The best way to describe it was I felt like I had one the lottery twice. This was our second adoption, son number two. Tyler was perfect. He had all his fingers and toes and a smile that lit up the whole world. I called him my Buddha baby because he was so calm, so easy and just pure love all wrapped up in this littler human being. He hit all those “baby milestones” the books tell you to note right on time. He rolled from his back to belly, he learned to crawl and walk. He played with his older brother, slept well, ate well. We had no concerns until one day our “infant development worker” that was assigned to watch his growth came for a visit. We went through the usual questionnaire we had to update every 3 months and one question came up that raised a red flag. How many words was Tyler speaking? I didn’t even think of the answer just noted 4 or 5. It wasn’t enough. This was the beginning of what many parents would consider to be their greatest nightmare. He started speech therapy and his therapist noted more differences with each session. By the time he was 3 his day care pulled me aside with concerns about ADHD. The red flags kept waiving. When he started kindergarten, the red flags turned into a constant stream of fire almost every day. Tyler’s teacher was so kind but had clear concerns about behaviors, learning ability and sensory issues in the classroom. We knew it was time to get an evaluation started to see what was going on with my beautiful Buddha Baby. Being an adoptive parent, you do get some information about your child. We knew the risks of potential of long-term neurodevelopmental differences due to many factors including no prenatal care, exposure to cocaine, cigarettes, stress and the trauma of adoption. It all had the potential of playing havoc to his brain and body. But we always hoped that unconditional love and a good environment would be all he needed. Just a few months later the diagnosis was in and not just for Tyler but both my boys.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder. Better know as FASD. Have you ever heard of the diagnostic term FASD? Don’t worry, you along with the majority of the population in the world hasn’t either. It is one of the most overseen invisible brain-based disabilities in North America. It is completely preventable. You cannot “catch” it, you cannot inherit it and there is no cure. You are born with it for one simple reason. They were expose to alcohol in utero. Their birth mothers drank alcohol during their pregnancy.
recreational drugs like cocaine, alcohol penetrates the developing fetus as it’s growing and causes permanent brain and body damage.
61 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
It would take just one small change in behavior through education that would save millions of people from a life of suffering. In simple terms – when a woman drinks alcohol during pregnancy it can cause permanent brain damage. It can be the occasion drink like that one glass of wine with dinner every night and it can be those crazy binges just for fun because one or two nights doesn’t hurt right? Wrong. It all hurts. It hurts the growing baby forever.
FASD is a lifelong disability. It’s a spectrum disorder and no one person is the same. The effects to the brain and damage caused by drinking alcohol are different for everyone. It effects challenges in their daily living, physical health, learning, memory, attention, communication, emotional regulation, and social skills. The average lifespan for a person with FASD is 34! FASD is now recognized as one of the leading known causes of developmental disability in the western world. Compared with other common disabilities, at an estimated prevalence of 4% of the population sufferers from this invisible disability. It exceeds even the most commonly know disabilities of our time. • 2.5 times more common than Autism Spectrum Disorder (1.52%26) • 19 times more common than Cerebral Palsy (0.21%27) • 28 times more common than Down Syndrome (0.14%28) • 40 times more common than Tourette’s Syndrome (0.10%29) At a global scale almost 1% (77 million) of the world population is estimated to have FASD with some countries being as high as 11% of the population. (Africa)
In a 2019, CDC researchers found that about 1 in 9 pregnant women reported drinking alcohol. The challenge goes that the only person that knows for sure is the birth mother. It can be very hard to diagnose and let’s be honest. What women wants to admit that her behaviors caused harm to her child. Most women don’t even know that alcohol can cause long term damage to their growing child. Children on the FASD spectrum get misdiagnosed and undiagnosed every day. Below are just a few underlying conditions that my sons have that could easily have been written off as conditions on their own with no FASD diagnosis. They have them all. • ADHD • Sensory Disorder • Speech and language disorder • Learning Disabilities • ODD • Heart Defects • Memory impairment • Anxiety and stress disorder These are all common diagnosis that go along with FASD. Part of the spectrum they experience every day of their life and as an outsider you may never know. You can’t see it on their face. They don’t use a wheelchair, crutch or outside support systems. My favourite lines from teachers and parents almost every day. “Oh it’s just a boy thing – they will grow out of it.”
62 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
“Our greatest wish is for everyone to see all differences in human beings as an opportunity to see the world from a different perspective.” My boys will never grow out of this. I cannot fix their brains and I can’t change how they experience the world. But what I can do is educate people. Create an understanding for what you can’t see. Help people become more aware of their choices when pregnant and have compassion for so many that suffer everyday. I can make it clear to those who get mixed messages about drinking during pregnancy.
No amount of alcohol is safe for your unborn child. FASD is preventable. There is no “safe” amount of alcohol consumption at any time during a pregnancy. I don’t’ care what your doctor says, your cousin, you best friend or your partner. It’s not worth the risk for the health of your child. My boys are the greatest gift that has ever happen to me in my life. I am so grateful for their birth mother. I have never met her personally, but I do understand the struggles she has had in her own life and I do not judge her or blame her for my children’s neuro differences. Their differences have taught me how to look at the world differently. How education can be different based on strengths vs focusing on weaknesses and curriculum objectives and grades. They have taught me how to be patient, understanding, compassionate and filled with unconditional love than I ever imaged was possible. Not every day is easy, and some days are just plain hard. I know they will need me for as long as we both are living. And what I have also learned is that every single person on this planet does not need to be defined by their disability but by their ability. They love with all their hearts. They are kind beyond what I could ever imagine. They are amazing little humans being. Our greatest wish is for everyone to see all differences in human beings as an opportunity to see the world from a different perspective. You may just be amazed at what you get to see through their eyes.
JACQUELINE WAY Co-Founder of 365GIVE www.365give.ca Jacqueline is a dedicated world changer. She brings happiness to the table every day as an International Keynote speaker and Philanthropist. She began a charitable organization with her son Nic called @365give. (TEDx: How to Be Happy Every Day: It Will Change the World). The organization's vision is to "Change the World 1 Give, 1 Day at a Time.” Jacqueline has a passion for developing initiatives that will create a positive global impact and connecting people to their personal happiness through small actions every day. 63 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
AWARENESS TALKS Presents
AN UNFILTERED DIALOGUE ABOUT RACE It's hard to know just what to say and how to say it amidst the social justice issues we are facing. Say this, but don't say that. Then, say that, but don't say this. With so much uncertainty regarding what should and should not be said in order not to offend, we need to become 'comfortable with being uncomfortable'. We need to honestly and openly talk about the reality of race as it pertains to ourselves, our communities and our country. Filmed and recorded live, watch as JACK & ALLIÉ MCGUIRE, Founders of Awareness Ties™, with Moderator and Strategic Advisor, LISA BOWMAN, Chief Mojo Officer of Marketing Mojo and former CMO of United Way, speak with three phenomenal panelists about topics too often considered taboo. Questions are asked, and answers are explored. With no filter, the discussion has begun.
A.J. ANDREWS DR. DELA TAGHIPOUR THAVIUS BECK Featured Performer
CALY BEVIER Produced by
KNEKT TV Presented by
AWARENESS TIES In Partnership with
AS SEEN ON APPLE TV, ROKU & KNEKT TV
Thereâ€™s always something along the way which reminds me where I've come from. JOEL LEES
RECORDING ARITST & PRODUCER 66 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH JOEL LEES
FROM THE STREETS TO THE STUDIO NEVER TOO LATE TO TURN THINGS AROUND
“Mister Lees is a British recording artist and producer currently empowering young people through music, but life hasn’t always been that way, Joel Lees spent four years living rough on the streets of London. He is a shining example of how even when life seems hopeless, it’s never too late to turn things around.” - Tanith H. Tanith: Joel you were homeless for four years, how did you end up sleeping rough? Joel: I had traumas from a very young age when my parents split up, my dad leaving home had a real impact on me leading to a subconscious bitterness towards any future partners that my mother had, I was very unaccepting of them. I wasn't the best behaved child, but I wasn't the worst. Then my mum remarried and my stepfather moved in. My emotions just took over and caused further family breakdowns. I think it lasted eight years where I just didn't accept this guy, I didn't give him a chance. I know now he's a very nice person but it got to the stage where my emotions would run high and I would pack a bag and leave. It got to the point where there wasn't the opportunity to go back.
INTERVIEW WITH JOEL LEES CONDUCTED BY TANITH HARDING OF ROUNDTABLE GLOBAL
67 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
Tanith: It’s hard to imagine what that must have been like for you and others in the same position - what is life like on the streets and what can people do to help those in that position? Joel: At first I was sofa surfing at a friend's houses, people I will never forget who put me up when I had nothing and no one. That period was actually okay, I got away from what I didn't like about my family home and moved to a place where I felt more accepted. It was when I'd been sofa surfing for a long period of time that I began to feel like I was under people's feet. I think that was worse than anything because that's what led me to sleep on the streets, I felt like a burden. People can help by just doing something rather than nothing, I'm not telling people to take homeless people off the street and give them a bed, if they could that'd be fantastic! I'm just saying have a chat with someone, give them money or buy them a coffee or sandwich. There's a lot of people sitting on the street, especially during the winter, sit next to them, notice them, have a little conversation with them, just please just do something. Tanith: I remember you sharing a moment when you arrived at a hotel dressed in a tux and walked past the doorway you had slept in, how did that feel? Joel: There’s always something along the way which reminds me where I've come from and this was exactly that. The Amy Winehouse Foundation invited me to their gala to work and paid for me to get a tuxedo. Little did I know there was going to be fantastic artists like Newton Faulkner, one of my all time favourites. But the actual feeling of walking past the spot where I used to sleep in a doorway and watch Bentley's and Rolls Royces pull up with people getting out to have their dinner, at the time I would think, ‘What have I got to do to be one of these people?’ So just the feeling of walking through those doors seeing the chandeliers and brushing shoulders with the stars for a night was amazing. I've had a few of those moments in those nice places. Fortunately for me I've picked up awards and performed at some of them now. I've taken the next step to be one of those people doing that. I was living in a hostel at the time but that was a secure place to live and I had a roof over my head, I started building my studio and putting my five year plan together for what I was going to do as an artist and a producer and where I was going to go.
PARADISE ORIGINAL SONG BY MISTER LEES
68 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
“I tell people about my story through music.” Tanith: You are now a recording artist and producer, what inspires you to create new music? Joel: The world, everything, myself, the mirror is a good one, the mirror has helped me a lot. Sometimes because I like what I see and sometimes I don’t, the same with all of us, I'm sure. I think before everything was about my struggle. I’ve been writing music the whole time, along the journey just so people can see that bit by bit I'm progressing. It will always be part of what inspires me. Tanith: What an inspiring story so far…what is next for Mister Lees and how can people follow you to listen to your music or help support the young people you are working with? Joel: I am now a semi professional recording artist and music producer so my music is out in the world, to purchase and stream. It's a long way from here promoting myself and getting out there but if you go on to any music streaming platform you’ll find my first three releases. I'd love for people to listen. Especially to ‘Paradise’, which is about the moment that I left my hometown. I put a cover series up on YouTube in lockdown and I'm doing series two very shortly. I have three more releases lined up before Christmas. I've written the first four songs of my debut album. It’s my life, broken down in to moments, one of the tracks is called invisible. I tell people about my story through music which is what I've always wanted to do. Additionally, my business, More Than Music, is something that I'm trying to fund, because of COVID my fundraising hasn't gone as planned so I'm in a situation now where I will continue to provide music sessions for young people where I can, which is around five or six young people that I'm working with in London, and I would love that reach to grow.
To support Joel’s work with More Than Music, visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/morethanmusic. And be sure to check out Mister Lees on YouTube: www.youtube.com/misterleesmusic
TANITH HARDING Director of International Development, The Legacy Project, RoundTable Global www.roundtable.global Tanith 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.
69 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
The biggest bully Iâ€™ve ever faced is in my head. JOEL CARTNER
LAWYER, PUBLIC POLICY PROFESSIONAL & AWARENESS TIES OFFICIAL ADVISOR 70 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
UNYIELDINGLY HUMAN A COLUMN BY JOEL CARTNER
THE BULLY IN MY HEAD
UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH IMPOSTER SYNDROME
While I have experience with real-life bullies, I’ve come to realize that the biggest bully I’ve ever faced is in my head. He tells me the following… “It was all a mistake.” “They’re going to find out you’re not as smart as they think you are.” “You’re going to fail, and everything anyone has ever done for you will have been for nothing.” “This pain is never going away.” “Today is the day they decide you are too much effort.” “Today is the day the pain wins.” The above are just some of the things the dark part of my brain can tell me on any given day surrounding pretty much any aspect of my life. This has been the result… I spent the better part of my first year of law school, and at least some of the rest of my academic career (undergrad included), convinced that someone was going to come to tell me that my acceptance into the program or success thereafter had been a mistake. Most jobs I’ve ever held, I’ve wondered, without any basis, if I was going to be fired. Particularly in stretches where the level of pain I’m in is consistently worse than normal, it has felt as though I would always be in that level of pain. The most effective way I’ve found to deal with a bully is to name it. The things coming from the dark part of my brain can best be characterized as some mixture of anxiety and Imposter Syndrome. For the uninitiated, in broadest terms, Imposter Syndrome is the persistent belief that a person’s skills and accomplishments are attributable to luck rather than their own ability and the internalized fear that they are a fraud1. While my experience with Imposter Syndrome and anxiety are, somewhat, specific to me, it is estimated that 70% of people will deal with Imposter Syndrome at least once in their lives.1,2, I will end up grounding much of my discussion of Imposter Syndrome through the disabled lens because so much of my experience with Imposter Syndrome is bound up in how the world sees me at face value, a person with a disability3, but, hopefully, most of my experience is generally applicable. Most of my experience with Imposter Syndrome stems from fear. Fear of being consumed by the disorder I have spent so long fighting, fear of being a burden, fear of being seen as less competent than everyone else. The ways I deal with my own perception of my physical reality, and the way I deal with the professional or social perception of me differ slightly, but both are rooted in empathy. Empathy with myself to feel the fear and then work through it, and relying on the empathy of others when my own resources are not enough.
71 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
In terms of social perception my fear comes from a lifetime of dealing with people who look at me, and based on my physical appearance, make assumptions about what I am capable of achieving. In 2015, I was in DC meeting with various members of Congress to advocate for educational interests. Logistically, this involves navigating a basic metal detector every time you walk into a building. Between the way I walk, getting everything out of my pockets, my bag, my belt, and taking off a jacket that has a metal lapel pin I am not fast where these metal detectors are concerned. As I’m moving through one such screening process, a security guard is talking to me like I’m five years old. Of the group that I’m with I’m the last one through the screening, and one of my colleagues is waiting for me just on the other side. On my way through the process I’m just thinking “whatever, just get through the thing, you have to go talk to very powerful people, you don’t have time to worry about this guy.” Until I get to the other side of the metal detector and my colleague steps forward to grab my bag for me while I pull on my belt etc. The guard turns to my colleague and says something to the effect of “good for you for assisting him” Not in a “hey look at you being a pal,” way. No. “Assisting” as if to imply there is no way the two of you could be here for the same purpose. At the time, I was in awe enough of being in DC and freaked out enough by what I was about to do that this man’s ableism still didn’t entirely register. However, in the many times before and since, that something else like this has happened, I found myself thinking “if they can think this of me just by looking at me, what happens if I ever slip up and prove them right in their own heads.”
“I am usually afraid because I am doing something worth doing and want to do it well.” It is from interactions like these that I feel the need to be two times better, and it is from that mentality that I have developed the “waiting for the other shoe to drop” level of Imposter Syndrome. So, how do I work through that? I start with borrowing the faith others have in me. The classmates who stop me in the library to ask if I can help them understand something, the professor who says they value my perspective and asks me to publish a paper with them, or the boss that tells me my memo saved our negotiation strategy. It isn’t exactly that they are empathizing with me and through that empathy empowering me, but their faith in me is close enough. When that method fails, I allow myself to sit in the fear. I am afraid because I want to prove the aforementioned people right, and I am usually afraid because I am doing something worth doing and want to do it well. There is pressure in that fear, but with that pressure comes the reminder that I have done difficult things before and I can do this now. Between others’ faith in me and borrowing my own faith in myself I’m usually able to at least tamp down feeling like a fraud. In terms of dealing with my physical reality the order of operations is reversed. I use my own empathy first and then turn to others. Imposter Syndrome classically refers to something like mental acuity, but I see its shadow in dealing with my physical circumstances because when the pain gets acutely bad, or bad over a long period, the dark part of my brain will try to convince me, against all evidence, that this will be the time that the pain swallows me up. Then when those thoughts begin to be too much to handle and I find myself turning to other people to help pull me out of my head, the dark part of my brain will try to convince me that I am not worth it to other people for them to offer their help. In other words, my brain tries to tell me that my friendships are a fraudulent enterprise. I have been nominally burned this way before, but I’m more inclined to believe that it has to do with the lifelong nature of dealing with my disability, and the strange notion that someone would commit to such a lifelong endeavor as helping me fight my internal demons and manage my physical state because they… value me... as a person.
72 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
“It is their empathy that gives me the strength to believe things will get better.” When it comes to dealing with these voices I don’t know where it came from, but my go-to method is to break life down into small steps: “put your feet on the floor, put on pants, brush your teeth, and so on.” All the while repeating to myself, “it’s ok. I know this is awful, but you can do this.” Over and over. A gentle form of empathy, allowing myself to maintain what my day was supposed to look like while also allowing myself to take life as I can handle it, one tiny step at a time. When I can’t do it alone, however, I remind myself that I have friends who will sit with me and remind me that everything will be ok, or literally offer a shoulder to limp through life with. It is their empathy that gives me the strength to believe things will get better. Like I said, I still have trouble borrowing strength, but for now, I don’t have to believe that they will pull me through all the time. I just need to believe that they will pull me though enough times that eventually their empathy will overpower my fear. It isn’t the perfect way to empower myself to feel cared for, but it’s how I’m learning. In case you haven’t heard it today, you are seen, you are valid, you are loved. Also, please go vote!
https://so06.tci-thaijo.org/index.php/IJBS/article/view/521/pdf 2 For more practical advice on dealing with Imposter Syndrome see, https://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2013/11/fraud 3 As an example, https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/gradhacker/chronic-illness-disclosure-and-impostor-syndrome
JOEL CARTNER Awareness Ties Official Advisor & Columnist www.awarenessties.us/joelcartner Joel Cartner is a lawyer and public policy professional with Cerebral Palsy Spastic Diplegia and Retinopathy of Prematurity. Cartner has a background in public health, disability, and education law and policy. He received his J.D. from Quinnipiac University School of Law and his B.A. in Political Science from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Cartner currently lives in Washington D.C. where he works as a Document Review Attorney while seeking legislative employment.
73 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
I want to change the way we think about periods. SURABHEE ARJUNWADKAR
CO-FOUNDER OF THE PROJECT AMĀRĀ 74 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW SERIES BY ALEXANDER TAYLOR
ARTICLES WITH ALEX FEATURING 1M2030 YOUTH LEADERS
SURABHEE ARJUNWADKAR Alexander: Hi Surabhee, thank you very much for your time! Surabhee: Thank you for interviewing me, Alexander! Alexander: Please tell us all about yourself! Surabhee: My name is Surabhee Arjunwadkar (she/they); I am 19 years old, and I’m from Pune, India. I co-founded The Project Amārā in 2016 because I believe every menstruating body has the right to know what they are using, what those products contain, and their effects on the body and the environment. I want this world to become a menstruation-friendly place where periods are seen as a beautiful process. Before going to college, I lived in a small town in Ecuador for seven months with an indigenous family and co-taught English at a local school as a 2018 Global Citizen Year Fellow. I learned to speak Spanish from scratch and also worked at a vegan bakery. While there, I worked with a local menstrual cup brand (Ova Ecuador) and helped them spread awareness. I am studying liberal arts at Quest University, in Canada, and am interested in ecofeminism, linguistics, mathematics, philosophy, and sex education. I know five languages: Marathi, English, Hindi, Sanskrit, as well as Spanish and enjoy reading in all of them! As a dancer trained in Bharatanatyam, I have been learning techniques for the past 14 years and completed my Arangetram in 2018. In my free time, I love to read, make soap, and go on runs. Alexander: Can you tell me more about what the Project Amārā is and does? Surabhee: The Project Amārā is very close to my heart. It started off as a social impact project in high school when I was 16. In 2016, my friends Aahana Mehta, Anjali Dalmia, Reva Patwardhan, Sayuri Deokar, and I created our initiative based in Pune, India to make menstruation equitable and sustainable. Our focus is on reducing sanitary waste by raising awareness about single-use disposable products (sanitary napkins, tampons) and why they are harmful to the body and the environment. We work to address menstrual taboos, start conversations around sustainable products such as menstrual cups and cloth pads. We help menstruators reconcile with their menstrual cycles and bodies. We strive to cultivate a community, a support system to help people shift to sustainable alternatives.
75 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
“We are taught, since childhood, that periods are dirty, something to be ashamed of.” Our mission is to create a dialogue about the socio-political and cultural nuances of menstruation. Over the past four years, we have facilitated more than 150 sessions with over 3,000 people in urban slums, schools, universities, villages, housing societies, offices, etc. We hold intimate circles to allow space for participants to voice their questions, concerns, and thoughts. This creates spaces for growth, learning, and understanding of the relationships between products and our bodies, the environment, and people. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we raised over $1,600 to distribute cloth pads amongst sanitation workers in Pune. We have also been holding online sessions. You can learn more from our Interview on the Everyday Activist Podcast. Alexander: What inspired your activism and work? Surabhee: Since before I can remember, I have always identified as a feminist. I am eternally inspired by women working to make the world a better place for everyone. When we started discussing what we could do for this project, the prospect of working for and with women filled my heart with hope. We are taught, since childhood, that periods are dirty, something to be ashamed of. What if we were taught to love our periods? What if we grew up looking at periods as a natural process? Menstruation has received a negative connotation it doesn’t deserve. The taboo surrounding periods is an integral part of most traditional societies; it is considered impure and unholy. I believe, however, that menstrual blood is the purest form of blood because it is meant to sustain a fetus, a baby. How is one considered innocent and the other unholy? I want to change the way we think about periods. I want every woman, menstruator, and non-menstruator on this planet to know that menstruation is not something to be ashamed of and that it is a natural process. I want to make this world a friendlier, kinder place for women and ensure that we leave behind a legacy of equity and sustainability. 76 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
Alexander: What would your advice be to other young social entrepreneurs and advocates? Surabhee: There are 3 key takeaways that I have gained from my experiences and that I would like to share… 1.Every day is a learning experience. Every time I take a session or talk to a person about making the switch to a sustainable alternative, I learn something new. The most I have grown has been through sessions. I recommend always reflecting on your personal growth. You learn something from everything you do, even from the most unexpected things. 2.It is okay to take a break. Doing social work can be draining. It is fulfilling but it also takes a lot of energy and engagement and it can be tiring. We must take care of ourselves in order to do good work. 3.Don’t do what you think is good for others, do what others know is good for them. We generally tend to assume that we know what is good for others from what we have seen in life. When we are doing social work, it is important to take a step back and see whether the work we are doing is truly beneficial to the people we are working for. Did we consult with the community leaders about their needs, or did we assume things based on our knowledge? Did we talk to people and understand their perspective? We must always listen to what people are telling us. You can learn more about how we align to UN Sustainable Development Goals on our Group Article featured on 1M2030 Stories. Alexander: How can we learn about your work and activism? Surabhee: To learn more, please visit our website (theprojectamara.wordpress.com). You also can learn more from our Interview on the Everyday Activist Podcast. Instagram: @theprojectamara LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/20414208 Facebook: @theprojectamara5
ALEXANDER TAYLOR Founder & President of Artem NexGen www.linkedin.com/in/artemnexgen Alexander Taylor is a public speaker and youth ambassador that empowers young social entrepreneurs to address societal, community, and environmental issues. He is the Founder & President of Artem NexGen and Youth Ambassador to The Global Challenges Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, representing the 1M2030 Initiative in partnership with the United Nations Institute of Training and Research, as well as an honors student at Morehouse College. He developed Artem NexGen and scaled 1M2030, as international youth leadership organizations, to provide access to professional opportunities for youth leaders of the rising generation and to raise 1 million youth leaders towards UN sustainable development goals beyond 2030 respectively. Alexander spent 7months overseas in Senegal after high school and presented his leadership work at the UN European Headquarters in Geneva five months after his return. 77 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
Iâ€™m passionate about bringing balance into the world. TIFFANY KELLY
CO-FOUNDER OF PHOENIX RISING 78 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH FOUNDERS TIFFANY KELLY & LAURA WESTCOTT
LIBERATING & ILLUMINATING FEMININITY
“Tiffany Kelly and Laura Westcott are definitely creating empowerment through empathy, as founders of Phoenix Rising, a global movement for change improving the world by liberating and illuminating femininity in society.” - Tanith H. Tanith: Tiffany and Laura, you have created this incredible movement for change, how did the concept arise? Tiffany: Working in learning and development for over 20 years, my area of expertise has been unlocking potential. I’m passionate about bringing balance into the world. We've been living in a very masculine led patriarchal society for a long time and this pandemic shows how much we need to change the world. Phoenix Rising is the culmination of everything I've been working on in terms of finding balance and understanding how we can take it into the global ecosystem inclusively and across generations. It all came into fruition through Laura's story. Laura: I was living as an entrepreneur, and not feeling empowered. I had great ideas, and lots of business plans but I didn't feel supported, I didn't feel that my talent was nurtured, it was a very masculine environment I was working in. When I met Tiffany and friends I needed help and when I asked they rallied to support me with all of their skills. I realised there's so much more that can be done. So we created Phoenix Rising to bring back the balance of feminine energy and also encourage and nurture entrepreneurs. It was actually in a pub called The Phoenix, and behind us was this painting of a phoenix rising out of the flames and Tiffany saw me with these amazing supporters and said, ‘This is it, this is what we were hoping to achieve, unity and supporting each other.’
IN THE WORDS OF THE FOUNDERS INTERVIEW WITH PHOENIX RISING CO-FOUNDERS, TIFFANY KELLY & LAURA WESTCOTT
79 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
“When you give without expecting anything, it's a whole different energy shift and we're encouraging people to come and experience that.” Tanith: What kind of people you are hoping to attract to Phoenix Rising and what can they expect to benefit from becoming a member? Laura: We want everybody to join our movement. We’ve built a platform that is all about connecting people. I believe we all want to become better versions of ourselves and help people by giving back, unconditionally. That word wasn't in my vocabulary before I met Tiffany if I'm being honest! People would help but there's always been a fair exchange expected. When you give without expecting anything, it's a whole different energy shift and we're encouraging people to come and experience that. Tiffany:
We’ve worked with 50 founding phoenixes from 10 countries to make sure that Phoenix Rising is really
unique. It's free membership but we’ll have subscriptions with bolt on concierge and additional benefits. We've been designing exciting programmes to empower people and support entrepreneurs to receive investment. We’re also looking at third party suppliers aligned with what we're doing to offer members discounted prices on things. There's going to be a huge amount of resource and support for anybody that wants to create initiatives that are in the feminine space.
When people hear the word ‘feminine’ they think female and Phoenix Rising has both male and female
members, can you explain what you mean when you say femininity? Tiffany: In Chinese mythology, there's yin and yang. Feminine energy is flow, nurturing, community collaboration and connection, something that everybody is desperate for at the moment. Masculine energy is about self, making sure that you have what you need to survive, prioritising your health, etc. We need a balance of both to survive. Society is so focused on ourselves now that we forget to connect with community and help each other. The Phoenix Rising movement is about liberating and illuminating the importance and value of femininity, so that everybody can step into their own authentic way of being. There’s this mythology from China with the dragon (yang) coming down to earth and burning everything, not from a place of destruction, but a place of clearing so that the Phoenix (yin) can rise and there can be renewal. It's interesting for me that COVID-19 started in China, and has swept the world, and the world, formerly so masculine and patriarchal, is rising out of it, I can see people longing to connect and be part of a community so it's really interesting the timing. Laura:
So many people are frightened right now. This is an opportunity to get support transitioning to this new
authentic version of yourself. It's daunting when people are ill or dying but this is about eradicating fear and embracing this new wave of change, and uniting people which is just beautiful.
80 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
I believe we all want to become better versions of ourselves and help people by giving back, unconditionally. LAURA WESTCOTT
CO-FOUNDER OF PHOENIX RISING 81 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
Tanith: Phoenix Rising feels different from other member networks, what makes it so unique and where does it fit with the ‘Social Dilemma’ documentary. Tiffany: We haven't created this from a place of monetization. It came from wanting to provide support to the world, the same opportunity that Laura had when everybody rallied around her. Instead of targeted advertising, we’ll have a community where people can browse partners that are aligned to what we're doing. We want to keep it clear and pure. We've got big gnarly goals and want to engage with schools, entrepreneurs, parents and heads of businesses so that there's cross fertilisation in terms of ideas. We are setting up a pay and blockchain crowdfund so Phoenixes can put projects on for members to support. The sole focus is on our members, how can we support them and help them support each other. Tanith: Exciting, how can people join the movement and what is next for Phoenix Rising? Laura: They can visit our website www.phoenixrising.global and join. We're planning a launch and series of events over the next few months, for example, on the 10th November, we’re doing a TEDx talk in partnership with our sister companies. When new members join they can access the platform where current members are posting things that they're doing and interested in so come and get involved and contribute or share your ideas. Phoenix Rising will grow quickly, we want to reach a billion people by 2030, but with contributions and ideas from our members.
TANITH HARDING Director of International Development, The Legacy Project, RoundTable Global www.roundtable.global Tanith 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.
82 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
There are many ways to be part of something that can really have an impact. GEOFF CURLEY
FOUNDER OF GIN LANE 1751 84 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH GEOFF CURLEY
A COCKTAIL FOR A CAUSE
A GIN YOU CAN SIP TO SUPPORT BREAST CANCER RESEARCH
“I had the pleasure of interviewing Geoff Curley, Founder of Gin Lane 1751. Distilled in the heart of London, Gin Lane 1751 is donating 50% of profits to breast cancer research from all gin sold in the month of October. ” - Jack M. Jack: During the month of October, you are donating 50% of all the brand's profits to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Beyond generous, Geoff. Why this cause? Please share your story and why you are so committed. Geoff: I’ve personally been affected having recently lost my mother, an aunt and recently a 50-year old cousin to Breast Cancer and the cancer disease in general. When I founded my company 5 years ago, my partner and I knew as small business owners that we wanted to have a charity, a social cause component to our business so that we always have an element of doing more for others than just for ourselves and employees. So we’ve been raising awareness and monies every October for Breast Cancer Research and have made donations to BCRF as our recipient charity.
Jack: Donating at this level, Geoff, is inspiring. Using your product to give great purpose to purchases. It must make you so proud. What other practices or initiatives from Gin Lane 1751 make you proud? Geoff: It makes me very proud. With the pandemic we’re all experiencing at various levels, it's hard to keep focus on the various charity and fundraising initiatives that go on. And with social distancing cancelling most traditional walks, road races, golf outings, fundraising levels will not get to where they need to be. It's more important this year than ever to make an impact. We also ensure all our partnerships with our distillery, bottler, suppliers of the various components of corks, labels, botanicals, etc. all practice ethical and sustainability in their workplaces. That means a goal to balance the planet, people and profits to produce viable components for the long term with the least impact on the environment and adhering to workplace wage, safety and positivity for their employees.
Jack: For other brands out there who talk the talk but don't necessarily walk it, what advice do you have for them? Geoff: At the end of the day, you need to make a choice on what you as a person and/or company stand for and how a social cause component can be woven into your business plan and be part of it every day. Whether its fundraising for a deadly disease, assisting in the betterment of society in general or your local community, there are many ways to be part of something that can really have an impact.
Learn more about Gin Lane 1751 and help them raise awareness and funds www.ginlane1751.com
85 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
SPECIAL FEATURE BY ALLIÉ MCGUIRE
THE SPOON LIFE
A SYMBOL AND A STATEMENT OF SUPPORT
More than a metaphor for life, the spoon is a symbol and a statement for living each day 'a spoonful at a time'. Spoons represent energy. You wake every morning with only so many 'spoons'. You can't control the number of spoons you have. You can only control how they're spent. So, how will your spoons be spent? For those with an invisible illness, fatigue can be a major issue. If you don't have a chronic condition, the concept of severe fatigue can be difficult to understand. This is where 'the spoon theory' comes in. Here's how the story goes... Lupus patient Christine Miserandino felt that words were insufficient to adequately communicate to able-bodied people what it is like to struggle daily with chronic illness. Instead, she used 12 spoons in a café as a metaphor for her daily energy stores and gave the spoons to her friend, taking one back every time an activity like taking a shower or getting dressed was mentioned. The message gradually got through to Christine’s friend, who was shocked by the revelations of the experiment. The Spoon Life Necklace is designed to serve as a reminder that we only have so many 'spoons'. While you can't control the quantity of spoons you have, you can control the quality of their use. Do the best with what you have. Find comfort and confidence in putting your spoons to good use. This necklace serves as way to show and share support with empathy. To learn more and to purchase, please visit the following: www.awarenessties.us/the-spoon-life
86 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
87 AWARENOW / THE STAND UP EDITION
E E R
W T E O R E N H K E IL C R C A W A E G O
R C S B
E N I
G A M
WE’RE ALL TIED TO A CAUSE.
WHAT’S YOURS? WWW.AWARENESSTIES.US
In 'The Stand Up Edition' of AwareNow, we focus on 'empowerment through empathy', as we take a closer look at some of the most pressing issu...
Published on Oct 27, 2020
In 'The Stand Up Edition' of AwareNow, we focus on 'empowerment through empathy', as we take a closer look at some of the most pressing issu...