Tuesday, December 22, 2009
This time of year, most of us get caught up stressing about finding the perfect gift for our loved ones, festive ways to make centerpieces out of pinecones, or where to sleep the hoards of relatives who will soon be congregating in our homes. For many of us, the holidays end up being anything but a relaxing, spiritual time; instead, they’re often a whirlwind of commercialism, planning, cleaning, and trying to find that perfect gift for the kids, while ignoring the nagging thought they probably won’t play with it for more than a week or two this year, either.
According to a recent survey, three in four Americans wish the holidays were less materialistic, and nine in ten wished the holidays were more about spending time with family and friends, and less about giving and receiving gifts (Center for the New American dream). That sentiment is probably shared by many of our friends and family members, especially in the midst of financial and environmental crises, combined with the knowledge that many of our favorite toys and brands were manufactured by exploited workers in poor countries. A cultural shift regarding the meaning of the holidays would be beneficial to the world we live in and our personal wellbeing, but breaking the societal cycle of consumerism can be difficult, especially when your kids really need this new toy to be cool, happy, or whatever. And nobody wants to be the first vocal Grinch who admits that she currently dreads the holidays, more than looks forward to them.
But there are practical solutions that can help alleviate stress, reduce consumerism, and create new traditions, which encourage and nourish quality family time. What if instead of spending lots of time and money searching for the perfect toy, necklace, or home mani-pedi kit, we instead spent our gift money on fun, non-material things which friends and families can enjoy together—tickets to go see a great band, gift vouchers for a favorite restaurant or brewery, ski passes or Nuggets tickets. There are all sorts of fun things we can give as gifts which honor the giving season while allowing us to share experiences and spend time together. I’m talking about things that will still elicit that thrilling, Christmas morning grin, but that won’t end up in a landfill in two months, weren’t manufactured by exploited laborers, and don’t send our kids the message that material items are synonymous with happiness.
For our grownup friends, what if we hosted a holiday dinner and suggested that instead of gifts, everyone bring $10 to contribute to a charity of the host’s choice, and spend the dinner having spirited, soul-satisfying conversations about the issues facing our world today? Be creative! There are tons of ways to use our collective political and financial power for good instead of mass consumption, and it will probably be received as a refreshing break from typical holiday pressures to buy hostess gifts and gather to discuss the latest fad diets and SAT prep courses for two hours. Your creative ideas can generate real power, especially when your neighbors catch on and the tradition begins to spread.
For those of us unable or unwilling to give up traditional gift giving, fair trade is a great option which ensures that the workers were fairly paid for their labor and the working conditions are safe, healthy, and do not promote environmental degradation. There are a number of ways to find fair trade stores and products in your area—but checking out Global Exchange may be a good place to start: www.globalexchange.org.
Once the gifts are purchased, we can even exercise our power to positively impact our world by being conscious of how we wrap our gifts—why waste money and trees on wrapping paper when you can be creative and environmentally conscious by wrapping in the colorful Sunday comics page? People will appreciate these personal touches and efforts to be conscious, and you will be saving money and stress in the process—not to mention setting a great example for your kids!
Speaking of kids, are you still worried about what to tell your kid when she looks at you with those big brown doe eyes and explains, didactically and heart-wrenchingly, exactly why she needs the newest, latest gizmo-gadget to be happy? After all, what parent doesn’t want to give their child whatever it is their child most desires, especially in the age of “everybody else’s parent is getting it?” But if you, the parent, can’t stand up against what “everybody else’s parent” is doing, how is your child ever going to learn to stand up to what “everybody else is doing?” And isn’t that precisely what we try to teach them about drugs, alcohol, sex, etc—to be their own person, no matter what “everybody else” happens to be doing? (And speaking from personal experience, the “everybody else is getting it” is usually just a line anyway … )
A holiday blog by the wonderful MAU maven and intern, Hanna Johnson. Visit the MAU site for more on creating new traditions and inspired giving.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Through the organization 350.org, on October 24, people in every corner of the planet coordinated the most widespread day of environmental action in the planet's history. At over 5,200 events, people gathered to call for strong action and bold leadership on the climate crisis. By the day's end, it was clear: people of all kinds are calling for a fair, ambitious, and binding global climate treaty.
During the week of Dec 7-18, world leaders, including President Obama, will meet in Copenhagen to craft a new global treaty on climate change. It is up to us to make sure the treaty is strong and that world leaders hear the urgency of our message.
Watch the video.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
The new MAU Website has been launched! Here is the first of MAU's new Daily Actions:
Watch one mom's reason she acts on behalf of the world's children (with persuasive hope and a cat) & celebrate Universal Children's Day!
Monday, November 02, 2009
By MAU Director, Joellen Raderstorf, on The Huffington Post
Teenagers screaming “Snow Day!” from the top of their lungs at 6:30 AM is a rare occurrence for two reasons: 1) snow days are few and far between in Boulder, CO and 2) the 13+ crowd are scarce in the pre-dawn hours. When I suggest that getting up so early seems to negate the benefit of school cancellation, I’m told, “Every minute counts on a snow day!”
As young tribe members from the neighborhood and beyond enter the scene, I observe my household’s prodigious energy footprint: natural gas cooking stacks of pancakes, heating a drafty old home and providing hot water for showers and dishes; coal lighting a Risk game, powering multiple laptops and longingly beating whipping cream with one beater. The cars stay in place denying oil the opportunity to join our “high energy users” portfolio on this day. The scene might have gone unnoticed had I not just attended the World Energy Justice Conference presented by The Center for Energy and Environmental Security (CEES) at The University of Colorado Law School.
Dr. Kandeh K. Yumkella, Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), opens the conference with the three F’s: food, fuel, and financial crisis. As a result of these F’s, 100 million people have been pushed back to living on $1 a day, causing food riots that are rapidly spreading to a “full scale, full world crisis.” Dr Yumkella speaks of living his own personal dichotomy, having come from a small village in Sierra Leone―the third poorest country―and currently living in Vienna with the best of everything. When he travels back to his village, he brings a generator and bottled water, because there is no electricity or potable drinking water. His passionate work for energy justice is grounded in his personal experience of this extreme energy disparity.
I can relate. While I’m living the “make every minute count” lifestyle, nearly one third of my fellow global family members―the energy oppressed poor, or EOP―rely primarily on biomass-based fire to meet all their energy needs. Biomass in this context refers to wood scraps, plant debris, animal dung and just about any material that will burn. Adequate for cooking and heating, this ancient energy source causes serious indoor air pollution (black soot) resulting in 1.5 million premature deaths every year, primarily women and children. When the black soot enters the atmosphere, it becomes the second most significant cause of climate change. Additionally, women and children walk miles every day to collect the debris, thereby denying children of basic educational opportunities.
To address these energy access dilemmas, international and U.S. decision-makers spent three full days together generating solutions that address indoor and atmospheric pollution, create sustainable energy with appropriate technologies, promote economic growth that will break the poverty cycle and create new markets. Proven products, like $20 cook stoves that burn more efficiently and produce minimal pollution, call for a full-scale implementation plan, including funding, distribution, education, and community buy-in.
This buy-in, from men and women, is vital to the success of development projects and introducing new technology requires overcoming cultural barriers. Dr. Beth Osnes, assistant professor of theatre at the University of Colorado and co-founder of Mothers Acting Up, shares her recent trip to Guatemala, where she specifically engaged women, who are most heavily impacted but rarely included in discussions about energy. At the conference, lawyers and engineers watch attentively as Dr. Osnes and troupe re-enact interactive skits previously preformed in the Guatemalan villages to address the barriers, as well as the risks of doing nothing.
While the conference presented an impressive line-up of speakers, I was most drawn to the words of Dr. Bernard Amadei, Engineers Without Borders founder and CU professor, "When you have no light, you can make babies, but you can't read, you can't work, you can't learn." As he relays images of children studying under street-lights on a recent trip to Kabul, Afghanistan, he shares with intense passion, “The desire to learn is fierce!” He also points out that technology must be appropriate as well as sustainable; no more “cradle to grave” solutions.
All of this leads me to snow day #2. My partner in all things, reads a bit of this post and cautiously asks, “What do you want me to do?” Sitting in our toasty home fragrant with the scent of cheesy eggs and toast, and lively with movie trailers singing out from the family computer, I realize it serves no one to shamefully denigrate my abundant life. However, I need to acknowledge that one third (my third) of the planet is literally consuming huge amounts of energy, while one third is deprived of the most basic energy needed to live a productive life.
What can my third and I do? 1) Take action to reduce our energy appetites, visit the Global Footprint Network to find out how. 2) Support non-profits like the Darfur Stoves Project and Trees, Water & People in their work to provide desperately needed solutions to the energy oppressed poor. 3) Most importantly, as Dr. Lakshman Guruswamy―the man behind the conference―points out, it’s time to bring this conversation into the international climate action arena. The talks in Copenhagen can, and must, address the energy oppressed poor in the effort to reduce global CO2 emissions.
Recognizing that the conversation is just beginning, I make for the trail with my snowshoes and dog hoping I made my minutes count during these much appreciated snow days.
Read more about the World Energy Justice Conference, program presenters and CEES.
Follow Joellen Raderstorf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/earnest_mama
Friday, October 16, 2009
My tweetdeck is pinging like crazy since I began searching entries on swine flu, more than Oprah and three times more than climate change. In face-to-face conversations, I’ve heard dozens say “I think I had the swine flu.” I haven’t once heard someone say, “I sent my Senators a letter today, requesting immediate action on climate change” or “Today is my no drive day, I’m hoping to recover from climate change.”
So I consult the experts: I’m carpooling (chauffeuring) my teenagers, with the beautiful Colorado sky heavy with smoke from California fires, and NPR broadcasting another story of H1N1. I ask this captive crowd “Why aren’t people as concerned about global warming?” Their analysis is spot on: “People can imagine getting deathly sick from the flu; everyone has experienced this to some degree. However, most people don’t know what it feels like to suffer from climate change.” Interesting observation coming from children who literally ran from the Asian tsunami in 2004.
Three tweets cross my screen all reading “India's swine flu toll crosses 400.” A quick Google search yields perspective: 3,000 children die every day in India due to hunger and malnutrition, and 3,900 children die every day around the globe from water borne diseases (WHO 2004). According to UNICEF, climate change is expected to intensify these threats and also likely to accelerate certain large-scale environmental changes, including desertification, diminishing freshwater resources and biodiversity loss, which has far-reaching effects on child health and wellbeing.
Herein lies the kernel of my middle-of-the-night tantrum: where is our collective panic about climate change? Our energy consumptive lifestyles do not blink in the quake of devastating floods, receding glaciers and starving children. Instead we are arming ourselves with anti-bacterial gel and flu shots. "Swine flu and climate change are inextricably related," says Angela Mawle, CEO of the UK Public Health Association. "Both are the end results of unbridled economic growth, environmental degradation and industrial agricultural practices. When will we ever learn that prevention is better than cure?"
Consider this post an invitation to a full scale mother tantrum until we collectively get serious about addressing the grave threat climate change poses to our children and grandchildren, and start talking and tweeting about it.
Raise a ruckus on Oct. 24th, the International Day of Climate Action, find out how at 1sky.org and 350.org. And that’s a tweet.
Download UNICEF’s report, CLIMATE CHANGE AND CHILDREN: A human security challenge, to read more about the threats of climate change as well as adaptation and mitigation strategies.
By Joellen Raderstorf, Director of Mothers Acting Up. Follow her on Twitter: www.twitter.com/earnest_mama
Thursday, October 01, 2009
- Read, learn and act! Encourage your friends, family and bookclub to read the new book, “Half the Sky”, by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. You will undertake a journey through Africa and Asia to meet an extraordinary array of women, including a woman in Burundi who becomes an empowered entrepreneur with the support of a CARE village savings and loan program. After reading the book, gather together at a local coffee house or living room, to discuss the importance of women’s economic empowerment around the world, and take action together (for a discussion guide and other tools visit www.care.org/bookclubs).
- Participate! Attend one of CARE’s special events being held in October in Atlanta, Miami, and other key cities (visit www.care.org/stand for more information).
- Speak out! Tell your member of Congress to support the GROWTH Act (www.care.org/GROWTH). The act promotes microfinance tools like village savings and loan programs, enhanced land and property rights, and business training for women living in poverty around the world.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
The American public overwhelmingly wants a strong clean energy bill, but fossil fuel interests are using tricks to try and maintain the status quo. They're already generating hundreds of opposition calls to our Senators, so we need to raise our voices NOW to cut through the noise and urge support for a strong bill! Our partners at the 1Sky Campaign have made it easy for you to call your Senator -- just visit http://www.1sky.org/call to get some talking points and to get connected to your Senator toll-free. With your help we can stand 10,000 calls strong for clean energy!
Friday, August 28, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
CARE, which works with families and communities to reduce the prevalence of child marriage throughout the developing world, is encouraging the United States to do its part to prevent child marriage by passing the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2009. This legislation recognizes child marriage as a human rights violation and requires the United States to develop a comprehensive strategy to prevent these marriages and empower young girls.
A couple of weeks ago almost two-thirds of Congress voted to send child marriage prevention legislation to the Senate. This landmark vote is an early victory in the effort to advance the rights of girls everywhere, but the fight is not over yet. Send an email to your Senator encouraging them to stand up for girls’ rights. This simple action can help stop the practice that presses 25,000 girls into marriage every day!
Ask your Senator to stand with millions of other supporters in the United States by becoming a co-sponsor of the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2009 (S.987).
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Sign up now for this national day of action: http://www.1sky.org/getlouder
Your voice lets your representative know that there are concerned citizens -- like you -- who want a stronger bill to create millions of clean energy jobs and begin to tackle climate change. So now it's time to get louder!
They are trying to improve this bill in three key ways:
- Ensure More Clean Energy for America: By increasing the renewable energy and energy efficiency standards.
- Hold Polluters Accountable: By restoring authority to the EPA to mandate cleaner technology for power plants.
- Create More Clean Energy Jobs for America: Limit giveaways to polluting industries, like Big Oil and Dirty Coal, and instead bolster green job development and protection of vulnerable communities.
Join with communities and voices all across America this Friday and push for a stronger climate bill. As we get closer to a House vote, tell your friends and neighbors to get louder -- sign up to plan your event this Friday, June 19th -- http://www.1sky.org/getlouder
After you sign up, be sure to download our event resource guide at www.1sky.org/resources.
Join the National Day of Action for Climate Change on June 19!
Saturday, May 16, 2009
American anti-poverty efforts save lives in the developing world every day, funding AIDS drugs and anti-malarial bed nets. Our commitment to development makes it possible for farmers to improve their yields, and for more children to go to school, breaking cycles of hunger and poverty.
But the current foreign assistance act governing this system was written in 1961 to address Cold War problems and it’s ready for an overhaul. It’s time to start crafting a new foreign assistance act that will lead to more transparency and accountability, better communication and coordination between aid agencies such as USAID, the Peace Corps, PEPFAR and the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and better cooperation with other countries. The result will be that every dollar spent will go even further to support the best ideas for ending global poverty and preventable disease.
Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) have introduced a bill that will begin the long process of updating the system. The bill is called the Initiating Foreign Aid Reform Act, and it’s the first step of many in reforming how we do development work. By directing the President to write a new strategy, successful passage of the Berman-Kirk bill will move us closer to our goal of bringing development into the 21st century.
Next week, the House Foreign Affairs Committee will consider this critical bill and before they do, we need to make sure it has broad support, by getting as many members of Congress as possible to sign-on as co-sponsors.
Call your US Representative. Ask her/him to support foreign aid reform and to ensure that children will be prioritized in the foreign assistance reform process.
Go to house.gov to find your Representative's phone number. For tips, talking points and an instructional video, visit ONE's call action page.
Friday, May 08, 2009
I’m one of those mothers who love Mother’s Day. I can’t wait for the homemade gifts, the breakfast in bed drenched in syrup and sticky kisses, and it is always the day I plant my garden with my family.
But a few years ago, Mother’s Day became so much more than those wonderful sticky kisses – it became a day that I stand in solidarity with mothers around the world to demand a safe, bountiful and meaningful life for all the world’s children.
I stand side by side with Julia Ward Howe, one of our great founding mothers, who wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic and also penned the very first Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870. She called on women to “arise,” and wrote, “as men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.” She goes on to say, “Let them meet first as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace…”
Wow. That’s where Mother’s Day originated. In the courageous arms of the mothers and grandmothers of the Civil War. It wasn’t Hallmark after all.
Written at a time when our country was still healing from the ravages of war, partisanship and economic strife. She wrote this when women had no political voice or rights, and 50 years before women got the right to vote. She was truly a mother to be proud of - courageous, just, and committed to a peaceful and prosperous world for all women and their children.
So, as I am enveloped by the sweetness of Mother’s Day, I will allow myself to be pampered and cared for. But, I will also raise my voice to bring dignity to all mothers and remember the original intent of this auspicious day, when mothers were initially called to greatness by the Mother of Mother’s Day.
This spring 100+ Mother Leaders across the country will celebrate Mother's Day by signing pledge cards, collecting post cards, and meeting with their members of Congress to joyfully demand a more just and equitable world for all. To add your voice to this beautiful collaboration of mothers and others, find us at Stand for the World's Children.
Stacy Carkonen is an advocate and Mother Leader in Sumner, Washington. For more information: www.standfortheworldschildren.org
Making Mother's Day Meaningful
By Bess Hochstein
My mother has some ‘tude about Mother’s Day. I still remember her dismissively calling it a “Hallmark holiday” when I was growing up. It was a no-win situation: Even though she found the premise contrived, she’d be upset if I didn’t send a card or a gift or call her. But I doubt my mother would disparage Mother’s Day as much if she knew the holiday’s origins—to acknowledge motherhood as sacred, to reconnect to one’s family, and promote peace by helping less fortunate mothers and children around the world.More...
Thursday, April 30, 2009
On my recent trip to West Africa, I was inoculated against every tropical disease the nurse could find in her book, guarded by my mosquito net fortress, and slightly comforted by the stash of remedies I had packed for possible infection, infestation and indigestion. I even brushed up on my rusty French, one of the common languages in Senegal. What I wasn’t prepared for is how women in this part of the world would seep into my soul, widen my eyes, and reconstruct some of my preconceptions of Africa – how they would give me a new blueprint for my own life as a mother and a woman.
Unlike prior world adventures as a wandering tourist, in West Africa I was a mama with a mission. In coordination with Tostan, a U.S. nonprofit dedicated to educating and empowering rural Africans, I traveled to Senegal to interview indigenous mothers who are working to raise awareness of health and human rights issues and inspiring their villages to abandon traditional practices harmful to women and girls. Tostan nominated three mother leaders for the book I’m writing so I spent ten days traveling to their small, remote villages to meet these remarkable women and learn what makes them effective advocates for change.
In a challenging and often sidetracked journey through the southern part of this rugged, beautiful country, I found myself enamored with the women of Senegal. During my short visit I soaked in their dress, customs, life philosophy and parenting styles. Up close and from a distance I observed their struggles and their ease of living. America seems determined to save Africa, but after spending time with these women, I wondered if they might have an approach that could save us.
Equality is in your head
For centuries, the mothers of West Africa have maintained an unspoken power in their communities. As the primary workers - planting crops, gathering and preparing food, transporting water, maintaining homes, raising families, and some as highly skilled artisans - they are the true life force of the village. As an unfortunate result, many young girls are not allowed to continue with their schooling because they are needed at home to help their mothers with this work. Gradually, as more women in Africa are finding their voice, they are beginning to address some of these inequities in their society.
Adriatou, a vivacious, stunning mother of five who is leading her village in the recognition of human rights and importance of education, told me with cool confidence that “equality is in your own head.” She said for many women and girls, once they understand they are competent and capable of achieving – this is what keeps their head lifted in the face on inequality and lack of opportunity.
These women do hold their heads high, carrying huge buckets of water and metal bowls containing the family’s next meal, sometimes for miles. Throughout West Africa I was awestruck by women walking the city streets or rural dirt roads all with proud, magestic strides, babies strapped to their backs, and containers cleverly balanced on their head. They have a cool confidence I have never seen anywhere. These women- these mothers, they understand their significance. The men understand too. This is why many males in the villages have embraced the changes that are taking place with the advancement of health and human rights in Senegal. They see that when their women and children thrive under more equitable conditions, the entire community benefits.
Each young girl I talked with during my travels in West Africa dreamed of continuing school and pursuing some type of profession. Many wanted to be teachers. Fathou, a bright-eyed 14 year old I met in The Gambia told me she wanted to study math someday. I wondered if this charming girl selling bananas at the ferry would find a way to follow her chosen path. Ame, a 12 year old street vendor in Zinginchor, a city at the southern border of Senegal and Guinea Bissau, told me she wanted to be a doctor. As the women in Africa begin to understand and reclaim their rights, their dreams may inch closer to reality in the future.
Amie is a Colorado MAU maven, mother of two delightful daughters and author of the forthcoming book Inspiring Mothers: Wisdom & Activism from Mothers Around the World. To read the rest of Amie’s inspiringmama blog go to www.inspiringmothers.wordpress.com
A project of Mothers Acting Up, Inspiring Mothers has a mission to engage a million mothers or more to become the new leaders of social change. To nominate a mother or receive your free report: 7 Simple Steps You Can Take Now to Change the World, visit http://www.inspiringmothers.com.
Monday, April 06, 2009
You are invited to participate in the CARE National Conference & Celebration on May 5 and 6 in Washington, D.C. for two days of political action, learning and inspiration. You will hear from top activists, lawmakers and speakers, including Wolf Blitzer and Gwen Ifill, and join other members of women’s organizations from across the country at special events highlighting the importance of connecting the world’s women in the fight against global poverty. You also will receive hands-on training for promoting the issues you care about on Capitol Hill, with a special focus on maternal health, and then meet in person with your own U.S. Senators and Representatives to educate them about why women's empowerment is important to you and CARE.
As a MAU, a CARE partner organization, when you register at www.care.org/women, you will receive an extension of the early registration rate through mid April and an invitation to special conference programs.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Individuals and communities are joining CARE in theatres across the country to celebrate International Women's Day with a viewing of A POWERFUL NOISE Live. On the evening of March 5, CARE is hosting an unprecedented one-night event featuring "A Powerful Noise", an acclaimed documentary that follows three extraordinary women – Hanh is an HIV-positive widow in Vietnam, Nada is a survivor of the Bosnian war, and Jacqueline educates girls in Mali. The film takes you inside the lives of these women to witness their daily challenges and significant victories over poverty and oppression. Immediately following the film a town hall discussion will be broadcast live from New York to participating theatres, with renowned activists and experts including Nicholas Kristof, Christy Turlington Burns, and CARE President & CEO Helene Gayle, to discuss how we can empower women around the world to fight global poverty.
Tickets are on sale now. To learn more about the film, or for theatre and ticket information, visit www.apowerfulnoise.org.
Invite your friends, family and colleagues to attend A POWERFUL NOISE Live. Visit http://www.apowerfulnoise.org/guides.html to download a step-by-step planning guide for how local women's groups can participate in this exciting event.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Friday, February 06, 2009
Here’s a snippet from one of Camille’s postings before they left:
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness” by Mark Twain
I ponder this quote daily. It was to my surprise that I would start to feel the truth of it so quickly by creating a blog! Sharing the experience of our travel has already widened the borders of the stereotyped family/friend "comfort zone conversation" to include topics such as global politics, immigration, geography, history, human rights, "poverty and despair vs. poverty and dignity," economy and my favorite topic: advocacy.
As a result, I've learned of the wisdom of your own journeys. Eloquently, you all have spoken with inspirational worldliness, open-mindedness and appreciation of culture and countryside. Thank you.
These kinds of conversational moments open doors in our fundamental relationships and build intimacy and trust from which I am finding all kinds of energy to act...explore further...discover more...share again. Whadyaknow...it's a cycle!
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Sunday, January 25, 2009
My husband and I witnessed history being made standing shoulder to shoulder with millions of others. The hours passed quickly as we left the house in the dark to make a 5:30am train to Washington, DC. We arrived full of excitement as the sun shined brightly on a cold January morning in our nation's capital. Tens of thousands waited at the security gates while we showed our tickets and entered single file. We made our way to our area and began the countdown -- literally, there was a man from St. Louis counting down to the swearing-in.
We made friends, chatted, laughed, discussed facebook updates, and knew that the eyes of the world were upon us as the excitement in the air grew by the minute. Unfortunately, we weren't able to see much given that the huge jumbotron had a big tree right in front of it, but none the less, we weren't any less excited.
And then, it all began....dignitaries were announced and made their way to their appointed seats. The crowd shouted for former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. For a society that values being loud, the power of silence was striking -- not a peep was uttered when George Herbert Walker Bush entered. Some boos, but again, mostly silence for Vice President Cheney. And then Bush entered, silence gave way to boos which gave way to the song -- Na-na, na-na-na-na, hey, hey, hey good-bye. These words filled the air from behind us, to the left of us and in front of us. And then the chanting started -- O-ba-ma, O-ba-ma. It was incredible, our voices -- young and old, from all over the country and the world, women and men -- joining in unison, sounding like one -- powerful!
President Obama began his speech as the crowd chanted. As he spoke of extending a hand in friendship to those whose fists were clenched, of helping poor nations to "nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds" and reaffirming our nation's spirit, the crowd roared their support. The sense of renewed hope, purpose and responsibility -- to ourselves, to our nation and to the world -- was palpable.
The next thing we knew, we were starting our journey home to tell our daughters all about it! (Our older daughter (7 years old) really wanted to be there and had actually suggested that I take her and that daddy could stay at home with her younger sister!)
The impact of the speech didn't really hit until we got home. It was a somber speech that reflected the seriousness of our time, yet was full of hope and inspiration based on the strength of us as a people.
There seems to be life again in the White House -- from Malia and Sasha, to watching the way President Obama and Michelle danced while watching the parade go by. Who knew that the leader of the free world could seem so down to earth? At the end of the day though, it is important to remember that while government is here to work for us and as President Obama will lead us, we all must be part of the change that this country needs.
And, as the 44th President of the United States said, now the work begins!
Monday, January 12, 2009
Susan’s work as Beyond the 11th director is to promote peace and justice. The rewards will be reaped by children as far as the Middle East, and as near as her own back yard.
Several weeks ago I wrote an essay nominating Susan for Cookie Magazine’s Smart Cookie Award. Nominations poured in to the magazine and Susan was chosen one of their 5 finalists!!! And YOU get to vote for the award winner! Please go on line to: http://www.cookiemag.com/magazine/sweeps/smart_cookie_finalists09/entry/long/ and vote for Susan Retik! She could win $35,000 for her organization! PLEASE, VOTE NOW!
There are no obligations to voting -- you do not have to subscribe to the magazine and I promise that you won’t be put on any mailing or call lists. Also, you can be a man or woman to vote. Tell all of your friends and family to vote! Together we can help Susan make a difference for the women and children in Afghanistan -- a difference that will have a ripple effect all throughout the world.
Thank you for your support!
Peace and Love,
A MAU in Pennsylvania
Get inspired! View her documentary trailer at: http://www.alivemindmedia.com/films/beyond-belief/
Learn more about her foundation at: http://www.beyondthe11th.org/index.html
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
What better way to start the new year than by envisioning what we will do in 2009. Write down an issue you are passionate about and 3 actions steps you would like to take. Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and send along your mailing address for a free Mothers Acting Up bumper sticker.