Category Archives: think


(Intern’s note: This is the third interview in our ‘Possibilities’ series here on the thinkpeace blog.  We believe it is just as important to share our own stories as it is to hear about other powerful women who are living into their own greatness. They show us that no matter our age, financial situation, location, abilities, or stage of life, you can create possibility for your life. In my life, ceramics teachers have been the people who most encourage me to change or put a spark in me to live bigger. My current ceramics teacher, Akemi, has done exactly that. I’ve made work this semester that I could never have dreamed possible. And on a side note, I have to say that Akemi has the coolest sense of style of almost anyone I’ve ever met!)

Meet PowerGirl Akemi Maegawa

The Interview:



Nickname in Middle School or High School?


What did you want to be when you were growing up?

International traveler

What do you want to be now/what are you doing?

I do what I like to do now.

Flavor of Ice Cream that most describes you (not your favorite… the one that describes you)


How would you describe yourself in one word?


If you could flashback to your high school self would you tell her anything? If so, what?

Keep on going. You are doing great.

What do you love most about yourself?

That I have empathy.

Which one person has changed the course of your life? And why?

My husband. He saved me from my worst physical and psychological condition from my previous life and walked with me all the way to find myself again.

How do you motivate yourself?

I listen to my body and mind; eat well and sleep well.

How do you live into your full potential? How do you go after what you still want to be?

I try to fully appreciate what I have now and show my appreciation to the people around me. I do believe in the synergy effect and I believe an immeasurable happiness can be achieved only by sharing with others, not by keeping things or ability for myself. I want to find out how happy and excited we can be as human beings.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing girls in the world? How can we change the course of this?

The world is so big and girls live differently in different countries and different cultures. In some countries girls do not have basic human rights and they are treated like slaves or family commodities. That has to be stopped. Education is the only way to change this.

What’s next in your life for you? What is the next big action in your life? Change? A plan or goal that’s big?

I do not have any big plan or goal. I live one day at a time and try to do right things every day. One step is a small step but I think everything starts from the one step. When I have a chance to do something positive, I try to take an action instead of just thinking or talking. Moving one step further everyday towards the direction I want to go with all my friends and families will eventually lead to a big happy society and the world. To die in a better society is my goal.

let the gratitude flow

In Alaska this past summer (at the summer camp for girls I was working at), we talked about gratitude every single day, often multiple times a day; we read books about it, made up phrases about it, and shared it every single night at dinner. In the simplest way I understand it, gratitude is a specific and life changing action, thought, verbal or non-verbal communication and the subsequent acknowledgement. It is however, different from thankfulness. Thankfulness is often associated with exchange of goods or services, gratitude is something that penetrates your soul. As we head into this Thanksgiving week (or as my community of people call it the “Collective Feast of Liberation”) I think it is more imperative than ever that we think about the places we are grateful and where our gratitude flows out of us.

“Sarah. SARAH. Have you seen Taylor??? TAYLOR. WHERE IS HE???”

“Um… I don’t know. He was just here.”

“Samantha. Have you seen Samantha?”


My mom walked towards the foyer of our old Victorian-era house and I watched as I saw her heart literally drop in her chest. The door was wide open and Taylor was gone.

Due to the side effects of the drugs I am taking for my Lyme disease, most of my memory has been temporarily lost. There are a few events, people, and moments I haven’t forgotten. One of them is as clear in my mind as the day it happened; the day Taylor, my Autistic brother, wandered out of our inner city house and went missing.


As we ran down the stairs we saw our crazy neighbor Margaret holding our then new kitten, Samantha, in her arms. I don’t think mom said anything to Margaret, she just started running. Running through the traffic-filled streets, screaming and looking for Taylor. I can honestly say that I don’t think I’ve ever felt my heart pump so fast since that day.

Last week’s New York Times Op-ed highlights this issue. (  The journal Pediatrics estimates that nearly 49% of people with Autism are prone to wander. With the rate of Autism now being 1 in 88, that’s a large number of people with Autism who are out in the world wandering.

Fortunately, we found Taylor that day. He was being carried by a man around the park near our house. I don’t ever want to think about the idea that we could have not found him that day. I’m not sure I would have been able to continue functioning if that was the case. However, not all parents and siblings are as lucky as we were. The case for a 14 year old Queens, NY boy is still active and while he is the most recent case, unfortunately he’s not the only one.

For many years after, I blamed myself for the fact that Taylor wandered out of our house– and yet I know that it wasn’t my fault. We had more locks on the doors in that house than a maximum security prison. Taylor is smart and can undo locks better than most locksmiths I know. He has wandered out of our current house many times even with deadbolts, spring locks, key locks, click locks, chains, and push and twist locks. He is just a smart kid with the desire to roam. And yet I worry, it wakes me up sometimes in the middle of the night. I never want to discover that my little brother is missing ever again.

Every morning that I wake and see him cuddled up and fast asleep in his bed, as I will this week when I head home, my body breathes relief. That sense of relief I feel is my gratitude– gratitude that we all made it through the night safe. Gratitude that I get another day to see his bright shining, smiley, loving face. And gratitude for myself that I have done my job as his sister to keep him safe.  In turn, my gratitude has a transference of energy, love. I love on that kid so much more, more kisses, hugs, fist bumps, late night drives through the country listening to Taylor Swift, hikes, and more “YES’s” than “No’s” come out of my mouth. Love that so greatly permeates time and space, love that goes deep-  as deep as the canyons and as high as the moon. Love that begins and ends with gratitude.

And so I challenge you PowerGirl, to truly dive deep this week into your soul and find the places where gratitude flows out of you.


(Intern’s note: This is the second interview in our ‘Possibilities’ series here on the thinkpeace blog.  We believe it is just as important to share our own stories as it is to hear about other powerful women who are living into their own greatness. They show us that no matter our age, financial situation, location, abilities, or stage of life, you can create possibility for your life. I met Jessie late in the summer of 2011. I was immediately captivated by her warmth and love– and the fact that we attended the same high school. She was a vital player in my coming out as queer. I can honestly say with my whole heart that she meets people where they are, holds space for who they are and want to grow into, and genuinely cares for humanity.  She has been and continues to be one of the most influential people in my life.)


JJ teaching GARMIN to chop wood, PowerGirl style!

Meet PowerGirl Jessie Justin

The Interview:



Nickname in Middle School or High School?

Sometimes people called me by my last name “Justin”, or “J”.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

Someone who could help people. Counselor or therapist…

What do you want to be now/what are you doing?

I want to be an art therapist in a school or private setting, with individuals and groups. Or/and, a facilitator for workshops/groups about social justice, white privilege, race, etc. Or, combine all of the above.  I am currently working as a mental health clinician visiting families in their homes, helping folks manage the stresses in their lives and navigate the federal and state programs that are in place to help support families in need.

Flavor of Ice Cream that most describes you (not your favorite… the one that describes you)?

Oreo is my favorite and probably best describes me. Sometimes it’s just a vanilla base, but often the cookie crumbles get pretty mixed up in there so it’s not as basic as it’s often described. The Oreo is sometimes crunchy, sometimes soft and mushy — I am sometimes hard shelled, but sometimes rather vulnerable. Sometimes when you bite in you get a chunk, a good chewy experience. Other times you can just ease right on through, simple as that. I can be both intense and easy going. There are lots of different types of Oreo ice cream… Each brand is different.

How would you describe yourself in one word?


If you could flashback to your high school self would you tell her anything? If so, what?

I would probably tell myself that it gets better — every year gets better and better (but I don’t know how I would have believed that when I was younger).  I was told something in high school by someone I respected, it shifted my world: Stand up straight, take your hands out of your pockets and put one foot in front of the other.

What do you love most about yourself?

My ability to be a witness. Sometimes to be a bridge.

Which one person has changed the course of your life? And why?

My mom. She’s my mom. She was one of the coolest people I’ve ever met, and a really good friend. She was a do-er. She was a change maker. She was someone who would love me, and someone who would challenge me. She helped me grow and be aware of the world around me.

How do you motivate yourself?

Good question. I try to check in with my feelings, my desires, my needs — combine them and head in a direction that seems like it will help me participate as a whole human being.

On the blog and in staff meetings we have been talking about being a “YES!” to our lives… what does this mean to you?

Being a YES, not just saying yes: positive attitude, hope, setting self up for successful steps.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing girls in the world? How can we change the course of this?

Very big question.  Ultimately, to narrow it down to “the” issue — sexism. What falls under this topic: internalized sexism, identity, sexuality, social equity, financial equality, all the oppressions, rights, etc…

What’s your next bold move?

To live my life through love and freedom. Make positive change for myself and others, while not oppressing others or myself in the process.


open your arms and hurl your grenade

YouTube Preview Image

About a year and a half ago I heard a poet say “if you’re not writing the things you need to write then it’s a waste.” Those words clung to my soul and I have consciously tried to live them each day since and yet last week when I sat down to write this post, the words stopped at my finger tips and refused to come out. I know why. I know why, I have fought myself on this many times– putting thoughts or feelings to paper makes them real, it gives them life, it creates proof either for or against you and the part I often forget- it liberates you.

Like Ash Beckham {in the TedX talk above}, I have lots of closets. There have been plenty I have come out of and I could tell you about any number of them- the big ones and the small ones; the queer one, the dyslexic one, the artist one, the chronic disease one, the autistic brother one, and so on and so forth. And yet, there is one closet that I have stepped out of only partially. I say partially because my immediate family and friends know and yet, it’s not a thing I talk about, mention, bring up, or advocate for blatantly. It’s a thing that still sits behind a clear sliding glass door.

Two weeks ago I celebrated my one year anniversary of living. I know what you’re probably thinking: “GARMIN, aren’t you twenty-one, how can you be living for only one year?” Just hang tight. Not long before the time of Halloween and Hurricane Sandy last year I found myself standing about ready to jump out of my fourth floor bedroom window out on to the busy East 29th Street in New York City. Fear, undealt with events, trauma, flashbacks, and masked depression had brought me there. As I stepped one foot up to the ledge, my phone rang. It was my friend. She said “Hey there buddy, what’s up?” Frantically not knowing what to do I said, “I’m standing on the ledge of my bedroom about ready to jump out. I’m done.” Slowly, calmly and gracefully she talked me down from the ledge, and back into my bed and then put me on hold while she called our mutual friend who could help me. The next day I managed to get myself out of bed and went to a support meeting. A week later I found myself home at the kitchen table sobbing and recounting what had happened to my parents who had no idea. And there it was: suicide. Attempted suicide. One more breath and I could have been dead.

Just like that I had another closet- a closet of a past suicide attempt. When people asked why I was late to studio or why I randomly went home on the weekends, I would make up something instead of saying “oh, I had to see my therapist or I was having a hard time getting out of bed because I was sad.” And then not long before my one year anniversary of living I decided I was done- this time done in a different way. I was done hiding. Hiding that I had once attempted suicide or that I am on anti-depressants or that I still go to therapy to help undo all that crap that led me to that ledge. I decided that the next time mental illness, depression, suicide, or any related topics came up I was going to say something. Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to wait long. In one of my classes this fall, upon talking about bullying and suicide in the art classroom, a girl said “well, it’s the person’s fault if they get to that point of committing suicide.” I interrupted her and I said, “IT WILL NEVER BE MY FAULT THAT I WAS STANDING ON THAT LEDGE.” I continued on to support my statement and the room fell silent. There I was. Stepping out of my closet and choosing to ‘throw my grenade’, as Ash describes it.

I wish I could tell you that I was met with “Can I have a pancake?” like Ash. Alas, unfortunately it’s not always like that.  And that’s ok. The point is the fact that you have the guts, grit, bravery, and courage to throw your grenade, to put it out into the universe, to go liberate your heart, and to live into your authenticity. It’s not easy. In fact anyone who tells you that coming out of any closet is easy is lying. There is a reason we have stayed in our closets for far too long- it’s a scary world out there. It took me three months to tell my best friend I am queer and nearly a year to tell my parents, and these are people who I knew without a doubt in my mind would continue to support and love me.

While I personally love, love, love this video for all its content and ideas, I think she glosses over the moment in which you do actually step out of the closet. It’s liberating. Seriously, liberating. The only way I can describe that feeling is like flying through the Mexican jungle on a zip line with your arms wide open, smiling, and giggling, combined with the anticipation of Christmas and your birthday, winning a million dollars, and crossing the finish line of a marathon.  Seriously. Open your arms, take that step, PowerGirl, and hurl that grenade as hard as you possibly can. I promise you won’t regret it.


Director’s note: If you, or someone you care about, are feeling empty or hopeless, please reach out. No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. In the U.S., call 1-800-TALK (8255) or go to . Internationally, go to and click on HELP. You matter, you really do. We are so glad you’re here. Check this out  and…thank you for living!

I first met GARMIN not too long after the event she describes. We were participants at a workshop on white privilege, power, and social change. I was captivated by how honest and open, curious and supportive, focused and determined she was, with her self and with others. We spent 2 1/2 days together, learning and discussing and holding each other accountable. On the last day of the workshop we all faced each other and told each other what we appreciated about the person across from us. When I got to GARMIN it was just so easy: I appreciated her integrity and grit that was so beautifully blended with a giant, warm, sensitive heart. It was clear that she  was going to reach out, help others, share of herself, and live authentically. When she asked if she could intern with thinkpeace I was delighted to look into her friendly, mischievous and highly alert eyes and say, YES. I am so glad that she is here, alive and ready to live a great big life as a thinkpeace powerGirl!


(Intern’s note: We are starting a new series here on the blog this week, ‘Possibilities’. It is just as important to share our own stories as it is to hear about other powerful women who are living into their own greatness. They show us that no matter our age, financial situation, location, abilities, or stage of life, you can create possibility for your life. This week we kick it off with my dear friend, Joyce Mitchelson. Joyce is a fantastic PowerGirl who goes to my yoga studio here in DC. I am going to let Joyce speak for herself and yet, I have to say that Joyce is on my list of top 5 people who give the best hugs 🙂 )


PowerGIrl Joyce

Meet PowerGirl Joyce Mitchelson

The Interview:


Nickname in Middle School or High School?
“J. Gray”  My fraternity (co-ed fraternity) name is way exciting and spot-on in terms of who I have always been, but I can’t reveal it 🙂

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I never really had a clear, fixed idea of what, exactly, I wanted to be when I grew up. I just knew that I wanted to be just like my mom: powerful, resilient, generous and loving.

What do you want to be now/what are you doing?
I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up (!oops!)
I do a few things right now:
1) Work full-time at Georgetown University in the Graduate School office.
2) Serve on the board of directors for my family’s non-profit organization, Family & Leadership Empowerment Network. (It’s awesome.)
3) Yoga Teacher Assistant
4) Basic yoga studio maintenance (Karma Krew)
5) Sometimes I pet-sit.

Flavor of Ice Cream that most describes you (not your favorite… the one that describes you)?
I haven’t had ice cream in a long time, so I can’t remember the flavors well. But the dessert that best describes me right now is raw chocolate mousse: dark, rich, alive and potent. 🙂

How would you describe yourself in one word?

If you could flashback to your high school self would you tell her anything? If so, what?
“Change is not linear, and it’s OK for change to take time.”

What do you love most about yourself?
My insatiable hunger for learning and exploring.

Which one person has changed the course of your life? And why?
My life has never been about one fixed time where one single person alone made a huge shift in my life. Even in terms of “home,” I lived with different people, so that creates many opportunities for significant impact from a large number of people. Over the course of my life, I’ve had so many family members, teachers, mentors, colleagues, friends and even strangers drop profound, life-changing nuggets in my world, whether over many years or in a single moment. I’ve had “good” or “happy” experiences that have shifted me and I have had difficult experiences that have catapulted me forward in life.

How do you motivate yourself?
By surrounding myself with people who are going for more in life. That includes following people or groups on Facebook (or Twitter or Instagram, etc.) that always have something healthy and positive to say.

On the blog and in staff meetings we have been talking about being a “YES!” to our lives… what does this mean to you?
Not holding back and doubting myself. Trusting my instincts and acting on them.

Current song that puts you into a ‘state of possibilities’ or pumps you up?
“Brave” by Sara Bareilles

What do you think is the biggest issue facing girls in the world? How can we change the course of this?
One major issue is just BEING ENOUGH, simply put. Whatever the circumstance, that seems to be a recurring issue. We’re not physically enough (too big, too small, too light, too dark, too modest, too flashy), not enough intellectually, not enough in the workforce (still getting paid less than men for the same exact work), too rich or too poor, not enough in family (whatever the role). “OMG you’re a virgin.” “OMG you’re NOT a virgin???” “Your sexual identity is WHAT???” …. never being enough.
Two thoughts I have on how to change the course of this:
1) Personally/Small scale: Telling each other that we are enough. Showing each other that we are enough. We need to constantly plant those seeds in each other and actually act on them.
2) Large scale: Equal rights, access and treatment (whatever that means in a given situation)
Both of these solutions require the participation of all gender identities, all people, because we do not live in isolation.

What’s your next bold move?
Going to New York, a part of the state I’ve never been, staying with a woman I don’t know and engaging whole-heartedly in Baron Baptiste’s The Art of Assisting training even though my body is in some weird pain right now. I call this bold, because it took me forever to save up the money for this, I’m going alone, I don’t know anyone, and my body is in pain right now. I’m scared and nervous, but I’m going anyway, because I love assisting and I believe that following my passion leads me to my own truth AND to more opportunities to serve others.

living into “YES!”

(Hi friends I have yet to meet. My name is GARMIN and I am thinkpeace’s newest intern. My bio can be found on the “about us” page. I’d love to hear from you– email me at

“All your life you are told the things you cannot do. All your life they will say you’re not good enough or strong enough or talented enough; they will say you’re the wrong height or the wrong weight or the wrong type to play this or be this or achieve this. THEY WILL TELL YOU NO, a thousand times no, until all the no’s become meaningless. All your life they will tell you no, quite firmly and very quickly. AND YOU WILL TELL THEM YES.”

Last week, in one of my grad education classes, the teacher asked the class to journal about the following question: “How do you motivate yourself?” A seemingly daunting question with the potential to add a lot of educational jargon, I dove right in. If there is one thing I’m really good at, it’s motivating- both myself and others.

I wish I had a fun, silly, engaging story to tell you about how I learned to motivate myself and others… alas, I don’t. I have a series of small events where people consistently told me “No”. And I told them, “YES! Just watch me!”

The first doctor I visited after I received my diagnosis of a herniated disk in my back told me I would never be able to walk again if I had surgery. 6 months after surgery (from a different doctor) I ran my first ½ marathon. 1 year after that I ran my first marathon. Guess what I said when the first doctor told me I would never walk again? “Just watch me.” During my time at Emma Willard School many people doubted I would ever graduate from high school or go to a good college. “Just watch me,” I said. Now graduated and in one of the best art schools in the country, I think I won that battle. My gym teacher in high school said I would never be fit. “Just watch me” followed that conversation; here I am 100 pounds lighter. Two falls ago, the head of the “academic” department in my school told me that I couldn’t possibly handle a 4000 level class as a second year. Again, “just watch me.” I got my advisor to sign off on an alternate path for my degree, and here I am, the only person in the entire class who received an A. After my car accident last January the police officer that arrived on the scene told me I should be dead. I’m here, happily alive.

You see, we wake up every morning and we have a choice: to live in possibility and say “yes, bring it on” or to let it defeat us. We must take care of ourselves first in order to be the best global change maker girls we can possibly be. We need to show up to ourselves and our lives with enthusiasm and zest. And personally, I think living in possibility and the YES! is way more fun.

And so I present GARMIN’S tips to motivating yourself and living in possibility.

1. Make your bed each morning.
I know. I know. Who wants to make their bed??? Nobody. Let me tell you, coming home to a freshly made bed to climb into at night makes all your hard work during the day so much more rewarding because you don’t have to fight with covers.

2. Find ritual and sacred space.
For me it is my morning routine. God help you if you interrupt me while I’m drinking my first cup of coffee. And it is my Sunday night paint-your-toes-and-watch-a-chick-flick mojo builder. Find your sacred spaces– those places that help ground you and keep you moving in an upward unrelenting forward motion. It could be a physical place, or an emotional space. Maybe it’s your morning run or your yoga practice or journaling or even reading a good book.

3. Sing.
No. Really go sing. Sing in the shower. Sing when you’re making your breakfast, running, walking to class, lying in bed, driving in the car or on the bus, and when you are adventuring. Just sing. My therapist friend says that singing actually stimulates our memory and it releases the good chemicals that make you happy. Below is one of my PowerGirl playlists. Consider making your own!

live into the “YES!” PowerGirl from sarah.gettman on 8tracks Radio.

4. Sort out your priorities.
Is it really that important that you wear matching clothes? I don’t know what the things you struggle with in your life are, but try bringing ease to them. Ask yourself if they are that important… let the things that you dream about come to the top of your priorities list.

5. Finally, if all else fails, watch youtube videos of other people living into their own possibility.

It’s really that simple. Change is choice. Your choices lead to possibility and could make your every step more monumental. So go forth PowerGirl– live in possibility!!!

on practicing peace from within

It happens… someone does something or says something which triggers a reaction of anger, sadness, frustration, disbelief. Some times I am able to take a breath and let it go. Some times my reaction is tears or yelling, sulking or slamming doors. Some times I blame the other person, want revenge, or even blame myself. It’s all destructive. These are the moments that provide us with real opportunities to create peace, within ourselves and with others.

Life gives us so many chances to practice peace: just yesterday I had several interactions which let me exercise my peace muscles! I wish I could tell you that I succeeded each time, and I guess in some ways I did. It’s not that I was able to stop my reactions. I cried in frustration, I yelled in anger, I slammed a door to release my feelings. And then I breathed. I mean really breathed. With each breath I felt stronger and more curious and created a softer place in my heart. It takes pausing our own reactions to open up the space to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes.


“I try to practice what I preach; I’m not always that good at it, but I really do try. The other night, I was getting hard-hearted, closed-minded, and fundamentalist about somebody else, and I remembered this expression that you can never hate somebody if you stand in their shoes. I was angry at him because he was holding such a rigid view. In that instant I was able to put myself in his shoes and I realized, “I’m just as riled up, and self-righteous and closed-minded about this as he is. We’re in exactly the same place!” And I saw that the more I held on to my view, the more polarized we would become, and the more we’d be just mirror images of one another—two people with closed minds and hard hearts who both think they’re right, screaming at each other. It changed for me when I saw it from his side, and I was able to see my own aggression and ridiculousness.”  (Pema Chodron, Practicing Peace in Times of War)

Yes, I let anger/hurt/frustration into my heart yesterday. Through breath work I was able to quiet my reactions and ask “what could be going on for the other person?” “what frustrations led him to this point?” “what does she need for her spirit today?” Working through those ideas kept me from hardening. These were simple every-day-type scenarios. On a larger scale, in times of conflict, it is this hardening that creates hatred and prejudice.  War happens because we harden our hearts against each other. Why do differences create fear and hatred? If we can put ourselves in another’s shoes, no matter how different, we can begin to understand and not feel the fear, hurt, and anger. Embracing understanding and empathy keeps those feelings from tightening our beings and yet practicing this openness in our everyday lives takes work and support.

It takes being aware of another person’s external signals. If I had noticed the tight jaw, closed fists and the lack of eye contact maybe I would have realized that there was an issue that happened before my interaction that perhaps had nothing to do with me. In the moment that my reaction created a tightening and hardening within me, I needed to concentrate on keeping my breathing steady. Seriously, try it! There are other times when these signals aren’t obvious. Perhaps it’s simply that you want something from someone who just isn’t getting it. Instead of hearing, “What can I do for you?” you hear “I’m too busy to give anything to you.”  The messages we play in our own heads can create a chain reaction that results in conflict.  Verbalizing our feelings of disappointment or frustration can seem self-centered or  judgmental. So we make assumptions and tighten up.  I shut down when this happens, which doesn’t give the other person the opportunity to hear me or help me. In addition, it means that I have decided that my needs are either more important or less important. The same result happens: it’s me against you… war. The way for me to keep ease within myself is to look beyond my self and into someone else. It doesn’t mean that my needs aren’t important or my feelings don’t matter. It simply means that we all matter and your needs are equally as important as mine. When I walk in your shoes, I invite you to walk in mine.


“If we want there to be peace in the world, we have to be brave enough to soften what is rigid in our hearts, to find the soft spot and stay with it. We have to have that kind of courage and take that kind of responsibility. That’s the true practice of peace.” (Pema Chodron, Practicing Peace in Times of War)

on women and poverty

live below the line


Can you live on less that $1.50 a day?

1.4 billion people live in extreme poverty, on less than $1.25 a day for all their needs. Women make up half the population of the world and 70% of the world’s poor. They are discriminated against in terms of education, opportunity and health care. They work two-thirds of the world’s working hours, produce half the world’s food, but earn only 10% of the world’s income and own less than 1% of the world’s property.  It’s vitally important that we work together and address women’s poverty and inequality.

What can we do?

Educate girls.

50 million of the 72 million children currently not enrolled in school are girls. Two thirds of the nearly 800 million adults who lack basic literacy skills are women. The impact of educating girls is tremendous. It enables women to have a greater effect on reducing poverty in their communities as, within most communities, women are responsible for providing food, health care and education of their families.

The economic benefits of educating girls are:

•    educated girls have fewer children
•    educated girls are better able to care for their children
•    educated girls have better access to health care and information
•    educated girls practice safer sex
•    educated girls have better access to jobs
•    educated girls are more likely to send their children to school.

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan stated:

“there is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women. No other policy is as likely to raise economic productivity, or to reduce infant and maternal mortality. No other policy is as sure to improve nutrition and promote health – including the prevention of HIV/AIDS. No other policy is as powerful  in increasing the chances of education for the next generation. And I would also venture that no policy is more important in preventing conflict, or in achieving reconciliation after a conflict has ended.”

When women are supported with resources and political commitment, real change will happen. We believe it all starts with a girl!

Raising awareness of the need for universal education is a step we can take simply by using our voices. Let yours be heard! Another way is by publicly making a commitment to understand what it feels like to ‘live below the line’. The World Bank has defined the poverty line as living on less than $1.50 a day. What better way to understand extreme poverty than by spending just a few days living below the line.  From April 29-May 3 join us as we take the challenge to live below the line, feeding ourselves on less than $1.50 a day.

1.4 billion people on this planet have to make that $1.50 cover a lot more than food, but the Global Poverty Project and it’s partners are asking you to take this challenge as a means of really understanding the difficulties that too many people around the world face on a daily basis.

HOW DOES IT WORK? The Global Poverty Project’s Live Below the Line Challenge:

So you want to Live Below the Line, but you’re not sure what you’re getting yourself into. Ok, here are the basics:

From April 29th to May 3rd, you can spend no more than $1.50 a day on food and drink.

This means you have a total of $7.50 with which to buy all ingredients for your meals.

The full cost of all the items you consume must be included in your budget. This means budgeting for whole packages of food such as rice, pasta, noodles and eggs etc.

For items such as salt, pepper, herbs and spices, simply work out the cost of each item per ounce and budget your shopping proportionally. Separate your items before the challenge so there’s no need to be digging around in your pantry.

One of the easiest ways to partake in the challenge is to share the cost of ingredients amongst a team, as long as no participant spends more than $1.50 a day or their total $7.50 budget. Working as a team will allow you to pool together funds and do more with your cooking.

You can’t grab a snack from the pantry unless you include the cost of buying the item new in your budget.

You can use food sourced from your garden as long as you can account for the price of production.

No combination of meals on any given day can exceed the $1.50 spending limit.

Remember this is a challenge to eat creatively – don’t at any point deprive yourself of three meals a day.

You cannot accept ‘donated’ food from family or friends!

You are allowed to drink tap water – remember you should try and drink at least 6-8 glasses of water each day.

Are you up for the challenge?  Between now and Monday check our facebook page ( for recipes and support! We’re along for the ride with you. Bono said, “I can’t change the world. But I can change the world in me.” All it takes is some awareness and compassion. Imagine.

awareness + voice + action = change


Freedom is a Human Right

On this last day of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we ask you to take a moment to reflect on this serious global phenomenon. Trafficking networks are active both nationally and internationally. No country is immune. What can you do in the fight to end slavery? Educate yourself. Speak up. Raise awareness. Know that your voice matters.

Trafficking ‘disproportionally affects women and girls, but the victims of this ongoing global tragedy are men, women and children of all ages’. It’s time for us to bring this human rights issue to an end. 148 years ago President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, a document that reaffirmed equality and freedom, and yet today there are more than 20 million people living as modern day slaves around the world.

In the coming year we will be posting about things that you can do, with your hands and your voice, to effect change. Together we can make a difference. We stand with President Obama who issued this proclamation on January 1, 2012:

Nearly a century and a half ago, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation — a document that reaffirmed the noble goals of equality and freedom for all that lie at the heart of what it means to live in America.

In the years since, we have tirelessly pursued the realization and protection of these essential principles. Yet, despite our successes, thousands of individuals living in the United States and still more abroad suffer in silence under the intolerable yoke of modern slavery.

During National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we stand with all those who are held in compelled service; we recognize the people, organizations and government entities that are working to combat human trafficking; and we recommit to bringing an end to this inexcusable human rights abuse.

Human trafficking endangers the lives of millions of people around the world, and it is a crime that knows no borders.

Trafficking networks operate both domestically and transnationally, and although abuses disproportionally affect women and girls, the victims of this ongoing global tragedy are men, women and children of all ages.

Around the world, we are monitoring the progress of governments in combating trafficking while supporting programs aimed at its eradication. From forced labor and debt bondage to forced commercial sexual exploitation and involuntary domestic servitude, human trafficking leaves no country untouched.

With this knowledge, we rededicate ourselves to forging robust international partnerships that strengthen global anti-trafficking efforts, and to confronting traffickers here at home.

My administration continues to implement our comprehensive strategy to combat human trafficking in America.

By coordinating our response across federal agencies, we are working to protect victims of human trafficking with effective services and support, prosecute traffickers through consistent enforcement, and prevent human rights abuses by furthering public awareness and addressing the root causes of modern slavery.

The steadfast defense of human rights is an essential part of our national identity, and as long as individuals suffer the violence of slavery and human trafficking, we must continue the fight.

With the start of each year, we commemorate the anniversaries of the Emancipation Proclamation, which became effective on January 1, 1863, and the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery, which was signed by President Abraham Lincoln and submitted to the States for ratification on February 1, 1865.

These documents stand as testaments to the gains we have made in pursuit of freedom and justice for all, and they remind us of the work that remains to be done.

This month, I urge all Americans to educate themselves about all forms of modern slavery and the signs and consequences of human trafficking. Together, and in cooperation with our partners around the world, we can work to end this terrible injustice and protect the rights to life and liberty entrusted to us by our forebears and owed to our children.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 2012 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, culminating in the annual celebration of National Freedom Day on February 1.

I call upon the people of the United States to recognize the vital role we can play in ending modern slavery and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities.

finding peace in the face of tragedy

Our hearts ache.  Recently our thinkpeace communities in New York and California have been rocked by tragedy.  Several teen lives have been lost senselessly and horrifically.  As we struggle with our shock and sadness, we are also overcome with compassionate tenderness for the families of these beautiful young people.  We can find peace and strength in the outpouring of love and care in our communities as kids and parents gather to grieve. Even if we didn’t know these kids personally, we are all affected by their stories and the pain of their families. We are connected by our shared sorrow.

Holding onto each other and the awareness of the fragility of life allows us to be truly mindful. In the days to come we can honor Chris, Deanna and Leyla by living in this moment, fully and reverently. What we can do, today, to find peace in the face of all this tragedy is to be mindful. Mindful when we wake up. Mindful when we take that first stretch. Mindful when we greet each other. Mindful as we post on facebook or twitter. Mindful as we eat. Mindful as we learn. Mindful as we shop. Mindful as we drive. Mindful as we look at our family at the dinner table.  Grateful.

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

-Mary Oliver

What we know for sure is that each of us matters. Each of us, alive today, is able to be splendid: to care for another, to laugh out loud, to paint our visions, to speak our minds, to dance with abandon, to give of ourselves, and to simply breathe. Use every moment.