Monday, June 8, 2009


The project TE KORU is temporarily on hold. I am still working on finding funding, as well as a partner to do the project with. In the meantime, I'll be in France, writing a book and blog, and looking for alternative routes to making this dream a reality.

Another amazing project to check out is Mundo Moto Diva (, headed by Anne Girardin.

I hope to have updates soon!


Wednesday, March 4, 2009


I've been absent from this site for a while now - fortunately, for good reasons. First off, I was selected as a semi-finalist for the Echoing Green Fellowship. The fellowship grants $60,000 over 2 years to social entrepreneurs to launch their own non-profit. The application process has been an incredibly rigorous one, which has really helped me to chisel away all the excess bits and deliver a lean, focused proposal for TE KORU. Out of 950 original applicants, I was in the top 300 selected for Phase 2. By the end of March they'll have selected 30 to fly to NYC for interviews at the end of April. 20 finalists will be chosen to receive the grant. I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, I've been throwing myself full-force into another project, with similar themes. Adventure Ecology is launching the Plastiki Expedition to raise awareness of ocean trash and stimulate a dialog on sustainable solutions. The 60 ft catamaran (made almost entirely of recycled plastics) will sail from San Francisco to Sydney this spring. Inspired by the boat building, adventure, and creativity, I've been spending all my free time down at the Pier helping with the construction.....and proposing ways of incorporating my own ideas on story-telling and cross-cultural communication into the Plastiki Expedition. We'll see what happens. For now, I'm enjoying seeing how an adventure-based organisation with philosophies and outlandish goals similar to my own runs when it's in full swing.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Freelance Educators Cooperative

I find myself on a roller coaster ride: periods intense action followed by low plateaus of "Hmmmm...what now?" Fortunately, there's always something interesting to throw myself into...even outside of the everyday work, classes, grant searches, and blogging (I'm now writing food blogs for the Nopa website! If you're interested in the sustainable agriculture movement: Having finished my most recent application for a fellowship with Echoing Green, I decided I need to dig in locally and get involved in the SF education system. The newest idea rumbling around my brain (all tied in with TE KORU, of course) is to create a "freelance educators coalition". That is, a group of educators and international social workers that get together to create solid, meaningful lesson plans out of their personal experiences traveling or working in developing countries. These lesson plans and workshops can be brought into classrooms in the Bay area to supplement the curriculum and provide a "big picture" view of the world - tying in current affairs and our global connections. For example, let's say a high school government class is discussing US immigration policy. Many teenagers might find this a dull topic, and the teacher may want to find a way of bringing the lesson more depth, and a humanistic touch. Our cooperative could send a member who has worked with Mexican immigrants to speak with the class about his/her work, and the views and experiences of these immigrants.

Key Features:
(1) A one-stop source of globally educated guest speakers for Bay Area teachers to choose from
(2) A real-world education: effective, engaging lesson plans and workshops that meet curriculum standards, while providing students with first-hand accounts and personal stories as they relate to global issues
(3) An outlet for international social workers and travelers to share their experiences in a meaningful way

It seems to me that our education system is seriously lacking when it comes to providing youth with an understanding of globalisation, the depth of our international connections, and cross-cultural perspectives.

I'm looking for educators, travelers, international social workers to join with me to create this cooperative. If you're interested, or simply want to put in your two sense, email me at:

Monday, November 17, 2008

Vote for change! Vote for TE KORU!

First of all, congratulations to all of us on our new president-elect. I can't tell you how excited I am. I have to say, volunteering for Obama's campaign in Ohio was one of the most incredible and fulfilling things I've ever done (we turned it blue!!). Now that the campaign is over, I've returned to the great search for funding: I'm currently working on an application for a fellowship through Echoing Green. Still waiting to hear back from several foundations on the grants I've applied for.

In the mean time, you can all help me out by voting for project TE KORU on I need as many votes as I can get to gain interest, support, and funding. Go to
and vote for the project!
Also, post your constructive criticism either there or on this site.

Thanks for all your support!


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A new course for democracy

This is a bit I wrote for my "Political Problems of Latin America" class last week. The events that have happened since, make it perhaps a bit more poignant:

The emergence of global capitalism is unlike anything we've seen in history. Fueled from above by corporations and governments, and through multiple social and political channels, it has effected broad, systemic change. And yet, its spread can be difficult to pinpoint to specific periods and localities. The effects of global capitalism have been widespread and intensely felt - from the breakdown of autonomous nation-states, to the establishment of dependency on remittances, to cultural tensions between sending and receiving countries of migrants. It has, however, also fueled a grassroots movement which may well prove to be the next form of democratic governance.
It is interesting to see that the shift to global capitalism has been driven by democratic nations; coated with the glossy image of the western "Good Samaritan" republics helping to lift third world countries from poverty and political distress. Yet, by-and-large, due to our economic and philanthropic practices, these countries are experiencing increases in foreign dependency, erosion of cultural values, exploitation of natural resources, and an inability to remain autonomous, self-sustaining nations.
It is also ironic that much of the support behind global capitalism has stemmed from a fear of big government and a heavy value of individual freedom and opportunity. Yet through our fear of socialism and our unwavering support of the free market, we've created a system where the power is in the hands of the privileged few who regiment global industry and commerce, dismiss any and all opposing viewpoints, and fiercely promote the superiority of western culture and policy. The result smells somewhat of global fascism.
It appears to me that globalisation has also triggered an unprecedented response: the new wave of grassroots activism. Community organising has always existed, but it is now at a level that transcends national boundaries. Organisations have formed that unite people of common identities and/or purposes across borders. These organisations encourage change withing existing political and economic systems, yet have formed a new kind of collective consciousness and a transnational community - sharing values, confronting regional and social issues, providing support. In its ability to represent people of all different nationalities, races, ethnicities, and creeds, this grassroots movement is, in fact, more democratic than any political institution that has preceded it.
And so, while globalisation has created a flood of tensions through the many tributaries of the human race, it may well have inadvertently carved out a new course for political change.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Hooray! News!

Still though the waters of this site have seemed the last few months, life has been churning beneath. In fact, it seems to all be rising to the surface at once. So here's the latest update:

(1) Loco Bloco is interested in working with us for the exchange. Loco Bloco is a youth development organisation that engages youth in the creation and performance of music, dance, and theater traditions reflecting the cultural diversity of the Americas. They've done some powerful work in the San Francisco Bay area, and we're looking forward to putting together workshops with their kids. Check out their site:

(2) We speaking to La Hermandad Educativa about working with the kids in their culture center for the Guatemalan portion of the exchange. Luis Cardoza y Aragon Popular Culture Center provides free classes in art, music, computer, and English classes to children of Quetzaltenango from families with limited economic resources. See their site:

and finally....

(3) TE KORU is now fiscally sponsored by Global Exchange. This means we have 501(c)(3) status. As a non-profit, we can apply for grants through Global Exchange, and all donations are tax-deductible. Global Exchange is a "membership-based international human rights organization dedicated to promoting social, economic and environmental justice around the world." They've had some incredible accomplishments since their founding in 1988. Check out the work they do, and become a member:

Last week I met with the education director and the founders of 4Real - a TV show aired on MTV Canada and Nat Geo in 140 countries that raises cultural awareness in kids and inspires them to get involved in community change. (see They were really supportive of TE KORU and gave me some great suggestions.

I'm thinking of producing a documentary of sorts from Mission I, focusing on how our actions in the western world affect our neighbors down south....and how this comes full circle back to bite us. With Mission I being a tester for the portfolio exchange, the documentary produced would be a sort of pilot episode for the longer, Mission II doc.

So what's next? Well, with the documentary in mind, I'll have to adjust the current budget. Then of course there's the funding. I'm still searching out potential donors. And...a partner. Preferably someone with motorcycle experience, a bit of Spanish under their belt, and video production skills. (The vivacious, open-hearted, adventurer personality screen is a give-in). As everything in my life thus far has fallen into place at just the right time, I haven't been sweating this one too much. I'm thinking that time is close at hand though.

Oh, and PS:
I've begun working at the local vintage honda motorcycle shop helping to restore old Hondas. Yes, it's wonderful to have my hands coated in grease and my mind soaked with mechanical knowledge. And no doubt it will come in handy when I've broken down in the middle of the Atacama Desert.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Third Prong

After two lengthy blogs of such negativity, I’d like to cast off those mental constructs which captivate us all, and think towards the future. This is where I dive into the philosophical deep end.

For all my seeming ranting about the state of the world, the misguided actions of our government and NGOs, my focus is not, in fact, on the negative. I did not write those words with the intention of pointing out all that is wrong, or lay blame. My words are the expression of observance - observance of our actions and where they have lead us. To fully grasp where we stand today, we must look at where we began and how we arrived. Not to separate those who are “right” from those who are “wrong”, not to feel guilt for the paths we have chosen, but so we can understand the ebb and flow of life, and the patterns we hold on to – those that work, and those that don’t. Reflection is essential to growth, but let’s not become stuck and stagnate, hey?

My intention with the last two blogs, “The World at Your Fingertips” and “The Flip-Side,” was merely to show that there are no “good guys” and “bad guys”. Despite all outward appearances, this is not a world of right vs. wrong, left vs. right, rich vs. poor. There is neither a war with a foreign enemy to be won, nor a powerful monster to be destroyed. The battle for peace, justice, and equality is not a battle at all, but an opportunity for transformation – a transformation that can only be forged from within.

When one looks at the modern world, it might appear to be split into two. There is the faction that lives for economic growth and power, and there is the faction that fights for the underdog – be it Mother Nature, the poor, the oppressed, or the indigenous. We have seen that there are upsides and downsides to both of the supposed sides. But from what I’ve seen, life has no actual sides. About the only way you can split it is into actions: those based in love, and those based in fear – and the two run rampant the world over.

There is no “black-or-white” here, no “us-versus-them”. Saving the world is not about a romantic group of compassionate revolutionaries fighting an evil empire of right-winged, corporate elites. Nor is it about providing wealth and western know-how to the less fortunate. Though we might state otherwise, we are not on a bend to save the planet. The planet does not need saving. What does is humanity. And human salvation lies in compassion and respect: an act of love that must be extended to the Embera child in Panama, to the gang-leader in NYC, to the corporate CEOs and military officials.

And so we have a choice: do we act in fear to avoid environmental disaster, economic ruin, and political instability? Or do we act in love to increase peace, sustainability, and human happiness? Are we are fighting against an enemy, or are we fighting for humankind? We grow that which we focus our intention upon. If it is peace, love, and compassion we want for the world, don’t we begin by cultivating this holy trinity within our own hearts? If we free ourselves, as individuals, from our own judgments and negative belief patterns – if we open our minds and truly listen to others – solutions to the myriad issues of modern life will unfold before us.

The greatest challenge we face today, therefore, is not that of bringing down big business, ending poverty, corrupt governments, or terrorism. Our greatest challenge is to tear down the walls of our perceptions, to walk away from the flame of ideology, to move forward with compassion and respect. Once we have realised our innate connection to the rest of humankind and the planet, our potential is limitless.