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CONFERRE Imagining change with creativity and compassion


Locally Thinking


Profiles Inside Pax Communications A Plate for All Pedal People

Spring 2010

Issue one

Letters from the editors

When the weather gets warmer, you know where to find us!

Conferre Editors: Designer:

How do we imagine change with creativity and compassion? The people and organizations we profiled are examples of creativity and compassion intersecting in the work they do. They allow me to imagine change. With creativity, Dan and Amelia were able to start A Plate for All and figure out how to bring food to those who needed it most. But compassion is when they talk with the people they serve to ask, "What do you need?" As a result, change is happening in the Hassakeh providence and we can all imagine a better future for the children of the 350 families. I can imagine a new Northampton, one that's cleaner, more respectful and not just in Northampton. I can imagine the power of communication to shed light on hidden evils. Something I'm already imagining for Conferre as well. My hope is that by reading these profiles, you too can start imagining change in your lives.

We're both so grateful to our first participants in Conferre Magazine: Susan Morgan of Pax Communications, Pedal People, and A Plate for All. Each epitomize the theme of "Working Locally, Thinking Globally". I'm inspired by these stories, because they bring together idealism and reality in action, right here in Massachusetts. I'm excited about hearing more stories of individuals and organizations working on big issues in thoughtful ways. Let us know if you'd like us to share your story, or the story of a friend or organization. This issue is coming out during the holy season of Easter, which seems like a special opportunity for me to step outside of myself, to think about grace and imagine what the world is meant to be like. I'd love Conferre to become part of that vision for a more grace-filled and just world, by sharing and representing (and laying out) people's stories. We'd love to partner with you on that journey!

Eugene Adams

Jo Hunter Adams


Spring 2010 Jo Hunter Adams Eugene Adams Eugene Adams

Special thanks to everyone who contributed to this issue. All work is copyrighted by their respective authors and used with permission and sometimes without permission. This magazine is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States license. Conferre is a quarterly publication of, a design agency focused on creating message-driven print publications to help nonprofits and small organizations communicate compelling social issues. For questions, comments, ideas about the magazine or if you're seeking design services, please contact


Locally Thinking

Issue 1 Content


Marketing human rights PAGE 3

Delivering food to refugees in remote Syria PAGE 7

Cleaning up Northampton in a healthy way PAGE 15 2


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Susan Morgan is the founder and Executive Director

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of Pax Communications (www.paxcommunications. org/). She has over 25 years of professional


experience in marketing communications and public relations, and she's used this experience to advance human rights. By empowering non-profits to share their message more effectively, she furthers the

Susan Morgan

goals of these organizations. Conferre was excited to have the opportunity to talk with her about her career journey:

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for various footwear companies as a public relations and communications professional. My colleagues too stressful so I felt fortunate to have career which enabled me to support my family as a single


mom. But I was never passionate about the work. In 2005, I travelled to Bosnia and saw first-hand the

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How did your career evolve to this point where you've started your own company?

after-effects of the genocide that took place there in the early 1990s. I was struck by the fact that I been living in my own little bubble during the Bosnian genocide and had been oblivious to this terrible tragedy. I promised myself that in the future I would take action in


the face of genocide.


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Following the trip to Bosnia I began reading about the ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan and became actively involved with the Massachusetts Coalition to Save Darfur. As a volunteer, I quickly realized that my background in communications was an asset to the advocacy work we were doing. For the first time, I felt passionate about my area of expertise and its potential to have a meaningful impact on the world. A couple of years later I left the corporate world with the goal of transitioning to a career in human rights advocacy. Fortunately, I was quickly invited to join with two of my Darfur activist colleagues in founding Investors Against Genocide, a non-profit organization dedicated to convincing mutual fund and other investment firms to change their investing strategy so as to avoid complicity in genocide. Through my work with Investors Against Genocide, I gained valuable experience and confidence that I could transfer my skills from a corporate setting to an advocacy environment. Two years later, I launched Pax Communications to further extend my efforts to a wide range of human rights issues.

What is the vision of Pax Communications?

The “tagline” for Pax Communications is “advancing human rights through the power of the media.” That pretty much sums it up. I hope that Pax will be a vehicle though which to help amplify the power of other voices calling for positive social change.

What inspires you to empower Human Rights organizations?

I am a firm believer in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948. Referred to as "a Magna Carta for all humanity," the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that the "inherent dignity of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world." The UNDR recognizes the fundamental rights towards which every human being aspires, namely the right to life, liberty and security of person; the right to an adequate standard of living; the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution; the right to own property; the right to freedom of opinion and expression; the right to education, health care, freedom of thought, conscience and religion; the right to freedom from torture and degrading treatment, and more. This document helps guide my decisions on how to best focus my energies. Human rights just seemed the logical focus for Pax since they are so fundamental.


How do you shape connections across borders?

The internet, cell phones and all of the other exciting innovations over the last decade have made connecting across borders so wonderfully feasible. A great example is how large numbers of Iranian citizens, via Twitter, were able to communicate to the entire world during the protests over the June 2009 presidential election. The increasing accessibility and comprehensiveness of communication vehicles for people from all parts of the world is a huge breakthrough for the advancement of human rights. These technologies allow the truth about repressive regimes and abusive practices to finally be brought to light.

What do you see as the impact of good communication on the success of human rights messages?

Well, I’m definitely biased but I think that good communication is at the heart of success in most endeavors. Through effective communications, more attention is focused on important issues which ultimately lead to actions for change. The first step in good communications is to craft messages that are understandable and compelling to your target audience. Then those messages need to be relayed to as many people as efficiently as possible. For small advocacy organizations, where budgets are very small, the media is crucial in helping to amplify those messages. Engaging journalists and sparking their interest in writing on a particular topic is probably the most important aspect of our work at Pax. Instead of “pitching” journalists,” I think that successful media relations involve building relationships and providing journalists with truly newsworthy information and solid interview sources. Similarly, successful advocacy campaigns must engage and empower people rather than add one more irrelevant email to their junk mail folder.

How do you balance making a living, thinking about huge things like human rights, and living your life here in Boston?

In my previous career in footwear, I could turn work off by reminding myself, “It’s just shoes.” Now, I’m constantly aware that lives are at stake. It makes it very hard for me to stay balanced and make sure to devote enough time to my family and to myself. My two daughters and my partner all support the work I do but thankfully are also pretty vocal when I’ve let the balance get out of whack. When my daughters were in high school I used to bring my laptop into the kitchen while cooking dinner. Invariably dinner ended up late, burnt or missing a key ingredient. One family story we laugh about now is when my daughter, tired of the dinner disasters said to me, “Mom, can’t you stop saving Darfur for one hour and just cook my dinner?”

To learn more about Pax Communication visit


Partnerships that Enable Action

Photos by Bridgette Auger


Partnerships that Enable Action


fter a year of fundraising, and a lot of hard work, Dan went from

distributing food to 100,000 Iraqi refugees a week to, together with his wife Amelia, handing out carefully prepared boxes to 350 Iraqi families in northeast Syria. They were able to fill a gap that the United Nations (U.N.) and large non-governmental agencies in Syria could not. Dan and Amelia's work for A Plate for All shows the power of thinking small and practically, and leveraging local U.S. resources to serve an international need.


There are more than 750,000 Iraqi refugees in Syria, displaced by the Iraq war. Of those, only a small proportion are registered as refugees by the U.N. High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and less than 20% are part of the food distribution program. The refugees arrive with unique needs after being forced to leave Iraq. Some of those needs can be served by the U.N., but many needs are left unmet. For example, U.N. food distribution happens in downtown Damascus, under huge white U.N. tents under a busy highway. The waiting refugees are nervous as qualifying criteria continuously change to target the most food insecure. Every time the food distribution expanded, the need was still greater. Bridgette, a friend and cofounder of A Plate for All encountered some of the people slipping through the cracks as she photographed refugees in Damascus for the UNHCR. While recognizing the complexity of refugee experiences and needs, A Plate for All are finding their niche serving about 350 Iraqi refugee families in the northeast, in the towns of Hassakeh and Qamishli. A Plate for All aims to have distribution every three months. Thus far, there have been three distributions. The small size of the distribution means it can quickly assess and adapt to the needs of the families: by providing a relatively expensive product like milk powder, for example. The distribution is overseen in partnership with an established agency in the region, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch (GOPA).


What does one do when confronted with a deep need? For Dan, Amelia and a few friends, they began by talking about the needs of Iraqi refugees. They imagined different approaches-of pretty significant complexity-- but it was in a small cafe in Damascus with Amelia's mom that food security came to the forefront. Maybe, just maybe, help could materialize one meal at a time? This idea initially brought thoughts of a soup kitchen, and gradually through a process of "frustration and humility", thought smaller and smaller until an idea became practical

Afram was the first person to greet Amelia as she got off the bus in Hassakeh. A kindhearted Syrian, he is known at the Syrian Orthodox Church as “the godfather of Iraqi refugees� for his tireless commitment to humanitarian work.

and cost-effective (the soup kitchen idea was not). While Amelia and her colleagues honed the appropriate structure and mission of the organization in Syria, Dan moved back to the U.S. to begin working on paperwork and fundraising for the nascent idea, fundraising in living rooms and amongst friends (while he toured with a band for Obama rallies.) Amelia began reaching out to NGOs in the area, as well as the World Food Program (WFP) and friends in various branches of



“Are your children in school?� Schooling this generation of Iraqis in exile is critical for the future stability of Iraq and the whole region. Unfortunately, more than half of the families surveyed said that their children were not attending school. The parents said that the reasons were primarily the lack of money or health issues.

Food helps "A family with little or no income will buy food before paying for their children to attend school. The family will buy food before paying for the medical care that their child needs. If we provide food for those in need, they can use their limited resources for schooling and medical care for their children, who can then grow up to be productive, educated citizens contributing to a stable and peaceful Middle East."

"One way in which our program is unique is that it tries to fit with what Iraqis actually eat, and what is not easily available. For example, Iraqis eat rice, but it's fairly cheap and readily available, and so isn't included in the box. We also stagger our distribution with the UN distribution, so that those who receive both distributions will have food for longer." What a food distribution box contains: bulgar, chickpeas, lentils, olive oil, dehydrated milk

Cost per distribution: $10,000 Approximate cost per box: $33


the U.N. She discovered that partnership, whereby they would not have to go through the long process of registering A Plate for All with the Syrian government, was clearly the best option. The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch was willing and able to fulfill this role. Already linked to Iraqi families and with strong roots in the region, they were able to purchase food locally and organize the distributions efficiently, so that 90% of A Plate for All's budget could go into the delivery and cost of food. As they envision the next steps for A Plate for All, Amelia and Dan can adapt the organization to fit the needs of the population they are serving. The small size and scope allows for both focus and adaptation, as the uncertainties and aftermath of the Iraq war demand. It also allows them to reach populations in remote areas of Syria that larger organizations could not reach. By thinking small, A Plate for All is making a large impact on the lives 350 families. To find out about A Plate for All's latest food distribution go to and learn how you can help.


Since A Plate for All’s first distribution in April 2009, they have been able to survey the Iraqi population in northeastern Syria to evaluate their contextspecific needs. Each distribution provides a valuable opportunity to talk directly to the people they serve.

Sara's Story Sara grew up in Baghdad, where she married


Yusef and had three children— now ages eight, five and four. Sara received a degree in biology at


the University of Baghdad, and was working as a


researcher in a food lab until the war arrived at her doorstep.





In late 2007, Sara found out that her husband Yusef was kidnapped by an insurgent group. As is common in Iraq, Yusef’s kidnappers told Sara


that in order to free her husband, she must pay a ransom of $60,000. Sara quickly gathered the money by selling the family’s possessions and dipping into their savings. After five days she was able to pay Yusef’s ransom, at which point he was released on penalty of death should the kidnappers see him again. Fearing the worst, the family fled Iraq for Syria; they left everything behind. Like most Iraqi refugees living in Hassakeh province, Sara chose the location because the rent was cheaper than in other places. A few months ago, with no work or resettlement options in sight, Yusef smuggled himself into Sweden in hopes of being accepted there as an asylum case. Sara recently received word that Yusef has not yet obtained asylum status in Sweden, but she and her children are awaiting further news—hoping they will be able to join their father but worried that he could return empty handed any day. Uncertain of what the future may hold, Sara struggles to provide the basic necessities for her family. With hopes that she will one day find a peaceful and prosperous home for her family, all she can do now is provide food, education, and shelter for her children.






Amelia and Dan

Amelia and Dan met in Egypt on a study abroad program in college and married in 2009. As a result of their work to establish A Plate for All, Amelia is imagining how a knowledge of nutrition—perhaps as both a nutritionist and public health practitioner—could fulfill both her interests and a felt need of Iraqi refugees. She takes courses while working full time as a research coordinator. Dan is currently studying Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he hopes to become grounded in the broader skills around global hunger and non-profit leadership. They both hope for an opportunity to use and improve their Arabic skills, and perhaps one day use their professional skills in Iraq. Special thanks to Bridgette Auger for all her amazing photos.


mp t on Moving Nor t ha

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Pedal People y g r e n nE a um

Photos by Robin Barber, Derek Goodwin, Adam Macchia, and Google maps.



ach year in the U.S., 230 million tons of trash are picked up by

over 179,000 garbage trucks, each truck traveling an average of 25,000 miles. Powered by diesel fuel and usually more than 10 years old, these trucks average less than 3 miles per gallon. Ruthy and Alex decided to get in on the trash hauling business in the town of Northampton, Massachusetts, where there are no municipal trash pickups; the service is privatized. Except they didn't have a diesel truck, a car or even a license to drive. They had a bike with a trailer that worked well for transporting their own trash and recycling, and so the Pedal People cooperative was born.


This was in the winter of 2002, and not everyone was confident that they were for real. Would they last one winter? Was it even possible to haul trash by bicycle? Wearing wool mitten liners and large leather airforce mitts she got on Ebay, Ruthy along with Alex were able to bike through the harsh New England winter and quickly learned to pick up trash with what felt like lego hands. They not only survived, but gradually Pedal People has grown to include thirteen Pedal People hauling trash for 500 households, businesses and even the city of Northampton, all without noise or pollution and powered by human energy. Ruthy has never owned a car. A car, by its speed and metal hulk, has always felt like a barrier between her and her environment. On her bike there is no barrier, people can see her and interact with her. Traveling by bike, it's only natural to engage in conversations with pedestrians, shop owners and friends. Especially if you're on a slow-moving bike hauling eight to twelve bins of trash. Connections are made and relationships

"I biked 11.5 miles. My favorite stretch was coming back up the bike path on my 2nd (and last) run; It was peaceful and beautiful but also really slow today because there was a little fresh snow. The snow on the path doesn't go away as fast as snow on a regular road because there isn't the heat from the cars to speed up the melting." -


built when people can see each other. Over the past seven years, Pedal People's relationship with the community has grown stronger. The more people they meet, the stronger their connection grows. Northamptonites will often cheer them on as they go down Main Street. Households are more conscious of their trash. They have also seen the number of winter bikers in Northampton increase markedly over the years, and they make themselves available to teach others about bike maintenance, and to share their story with their community.


"I traveled maybe 20 miles today. It is easy to be mad at drivers, or at customers who have crazy junk. But I am very impressed by 'good' customers who have so little waste. I get giddy if they have hardly any recycling and maybe one grocery bag of trash for a whole week. It is hard to deal with staying hydrated when you are so rarely near a bathroom or in semi-private areas. There is always a lot of trepidation about going out in miserable weather and how warm or dry you will be able to stay."


Pedal People has also fostered an excellent relationship with the local municipality: one truck-powered trash hauling company complained to the City that Pedal People had an unfair advantage (they take trash to the transfer center, which is generally just a residential drop-off site, rather than the dump, which is where other commercial haulers must go). The City retorted that if the other trucking company used bikes to haul trash, they could also deposit their trash at the transfer center. Their success is a meeting of Northampton's consistent need and the ability to fulfill that need using human power. At the same time, the aches and pains of growing their business on human power has taken its toll. Loading and hauling 1000 lbs of trash a day, the most common injuries are back related — as a result of lifting and moving heavy loads, and biking for long periods. But with each mile has come increased business and increased visibility. Their most recent job description drew 43 applications for a vacancy in their coop. Their bikes are also hauling compost, produce for CSA farm shares, cloth diapers for a washing service, and furniture for entire household moves across town. For special occasions, they offer pedicab service. One mile at a time, Pedal People are slowly moving Northampton on human energy.

"I road 14 miles today. While biking I sang "The Diggers' Song" and Johnny Cash's "I've been everywhere" and I recited "The Cremation of Sam McGee". Also, I make up lots of songs, such as, "I'm alive, whoo-hoo, I get to ride my bike today, hey hey! I'm tired but I've got legs to feel tired, yay!" and posturereminding songs, such as "My head is a golf ball on a tee. I like the way it sits there so comfortably." As I'm on my bike, I envision the people in cars and the people in houses, but without the cars and houses surrounding them, just suspended in space in the neighborhood, all so close together with no walls between us. And I think about all the people in this town that I am in love with and I like to think are in love with me. And I say, "You think.. you're the center of the world, but - You're Not."



Ten reasons to switch to Pedal People for recycling & trash service 1 Cost

Our prices are very competitive, and if you're switching from another service, your first month is free with no obligation to continue. We also offer a 15% senior discount.

2 Clean air

Diesel exhaust particles can cause or exacerbate many health problems, including asthma and other respiratory illnesses, and have been linked to cancer and premature death.

3 No pavement damage

Trucks cause nearly all of the loadrelated damage to pavement. A vehicle weighing five tons causes over 100 times as much damage as a vehicle weighing one ton.2 Getting trucks off the residential streets means the pavement lasts longer, saving the city and its taxpayers money.

4 Quiet

There's no engine or compactor noise with us.

5 Local economy

A greater percentage of the money you pay us stays in the local economy instead of getting spent on foreign oil.

6 Less waste

Trucks are most efficient at transporting large quantities long distances. Picking up residential trash requires many stops and starts. Every time a truck accelerates from a stop, it emits soot and smogforming pollution. Pedal People consolidates the trash and recycling, so trucks can do what they're best at.

7 Service

We offer personalized and flexible service. All the trash (up to 60 gallons per pickup) and both kinds of recycling are picked up at once – no need to remember which week is which. If you don't want to bring your trash to the curb, we can pick it up anywhere our bikes can go for no extra charge.

8 Reliability

In our four years of operation we've done over 15,000 pickups and have rarely had to postpone due to severe weather.

9 Guarantee

If you're ever not satisfied with our service, we'll refund the unused portion of your bill at any time.

10 Donations

We'll bring bags of clothing to a donation box for no extra charge. Conferre in latin means “to confer” or “to bring together”. The goal of the magazine will be to bring together men and women from around the world who are seeking innovative solutions to a wide variety of social and economic problems. Our goal is to make it a work of love and fun. As editors, it gives us the chance to connect with cool people and be inspired by others. As a designer, it’s a chance to experiment with design work and have fun. We’re not following any rules of publishing as we’re pretty much outsiders to the publishing world and we’re open to letting it just evolve over time and see what happens. But we promise to keep it to the standard of being a labor of love. We could use your help… • Finding individuals running small non-profits who would like to share their stories, successes and goals. • Interviewing individuals who’s experience has given them a unique perspective. • Help spread the word. Find us on Facebook!!! • Share this issue with your friends. • Check out the websites of the non-profits we profiled and see how you can help or get involved. • Tell us what you think of our first issue. Email us at Thanks for reading! Eug & Jo


Understanding Maternal Health Estimates for 2005 show that, every minute, a woman dies of complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. This adds up to more than 500,000 women annually and 10 million over a generation. Almost all of these women – 99 per cent – live and die in developing countries.

2010 Issue two


Conferre 01  
Conferre 01  

Our goal is to profile men and women from around the world who are not only seeking innovative solutions to social and economic problems but...