‘Inspiration’ Category Archive

This year for your birthday you are asking for goats. Please explain.

My friends and I at Give a Goat have started a new way of enabling people to get involved with our work. It’s called “Go”, and it lets anyone create a project around an event, goal, or idea and raise support to buy goats for needy families. It’s launch fell right around my birthday, so I decided to lend my special day to its inauguration. Basically what I’m asking people to do is to give $24 for my 24 birthday instead of giving me a present. This money will go to buy goats for needy families. I’m hoping to raise $2,400 which will give about 20 goats and start an entire village on the path to self-sufficiency.

How does a guy living in Oklahoma become connected to work happening in the Philippines?

Man our world has shrunk. I actually went to college with a native Filipino whose family had been working to help the poor from their native country get out of poverty. We spent a ton of time together dreaming, praying, brainstorming. He kept talking about how his Dad was giving goats to people in the Philippines and it was lifting them out of poverty. It wasn’t long before I was on board with him and we formed the non-profit Give a Goat around an organic idea born in the Philippines.

Do you have a favorite success story?

There are so many to choose from and I heard about four more just today. But my favorite would have to be about my friend Ronald. Ronald worked at a roadside stand selling food in the metropolitan area of Cebu. His family lived about three hours away from his work so he only came home once a month to visit his wife and child, as well as drop off the $1 a day he was making. One night after midnight he was working his stand, and there was a shooting. The man who was shot came and crouched behind Ronald’s booth for safety. This was a giant wake up call to Ronald. He came home and decided he was going to find a better way to provide for his family. Around that time, Give a Goat was looking for new raisers in his area and he decided he wanted to try his hand at goat raising. That was three years ago. Today Ronald has 80 goats, a thriving vegetable garden, a water filtration system, and happy children who are attending school. He has been so successful that he is now passing his knowledge and goats to his neighbors, telling them how to get out of poverty and start a new life. Ronald also moonlights as Give a Goat’s key veterinarian.

In addition to your work with Give a Goat you are also a poet. What role do you feel artists play in bringing about change?

Artists don’t just play a role in bringing about change, they are the most vital conduit for change. Artists teach us to dream in color, reimagine our world, and ask questions with new words. As French author Albert Camus put it, “In a world such as this, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners.” Artists, poets, musicians, and the like stand on the opposite side of corruption, oppression, and greed. It is hard to imagine myself among these ranks, but I’m trying my best. As a artist, in particular as a poet, I try to reclaim truth by showing it in a foreign light. We get so used to our paradigms and routines that even words like war, famine, and murder loose their bite. I try to grab overlooked ideas, peoples, and causes and pull them into new light where people can see their truth. And any time I can be a voice for the voiceless and give noise to previously deaf ears, I consider it an honor.

What advice would you give to anyone reading this who might be a ‘recovering slacktivist’? What steps can they take to actively pursue creating real change and not just being a consumer?

They can do just that. Stop being a consumer and go create real change. Look at your life. What are you good at, passionate about, connected to? What makes you cry, yell, or giggle? Those are the things you were created to meld yourself to. Find that cause or that mission. And once you know what you want to do, even if it is just a small inkling of a feeling, start engaging in conversations. That is how change takes place. Over cups of coffee and plates of food. Talk to your friends and family about what you are wanting to do, find people who are already working in those fields and render your services, find people effected by the problem and hear their stories and find out how they want and need to be helped. What we often misunderstand is that we don’t need an organization, non-profit, or mission trip to change our world. There are people, living, struggling, dying people across our streets and around our world. I spoke with a struggling family that I met here in the Philippines on Facebook today. They can’t feed their children, but a family in their village has internet and we are plotting a change for her community. Talk to people. Dream. And then go do it!

In addition to getting you goats for your birthday, how else can we get involved with Give a Goat?

I would encourage everyone, if giving goats to needy families sounds even a bit interesting, to go to www.go.giveagoatnow.com and start a project that can change a person’s life.

Want to give Dave a goat for his birthday? Go!
Experience his poetry and more: here

Posted in Artist Interviews, Big Idea, Inspiration, Interviews | 3 Comments »

Two men. Two mustaches. One mission.

Alex and Mark have been traveling all over the U.S. in a groovy 1971 Winnegego with the mission of spreading the word about MANA Nutrition. We made sure they routed through our neighborhood. Here’s what happened:

MANA envisions a nourished world. They have developed a brilliant RUTF (Ready to Use Therapeutic Food) specially designed to treat children diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition.

Through the RUTF they are bringing children back to life. Check out this powerful photo:

That’s Dominique, in pain and malnourished, just before starting the MANA treatments. He weighed 4.7 kg. In March 2011, after 6 weeks of MANA he weighed in at 6.9 kg.

This is changing lives.

You can see why two guys would go to such great lengths to make sure people heard about this, right? We had a great time hanging out and helping them along their journey. One of our friends, Jud Davis, even loaded Alex and Mark up with plenty of 8-tracks for the road.

Follow their adventures and more (including what 8 tracks they’re listening to) via the links below.


Posted in Big Idea, Inspiration, Video | 2 Comments »

His biography begins like this: Patrick has been involved in the entertainment business since the age of 16 when he first performed on stage as a musician with his ridiculously awesome metal band, Apocalypse. Incredible, right?

I am really excited to share this with you all. Patrick Shen is a filmmaker who tells stories of significance. After a stint working at E! and a role as second unit director on the Emmy nominated doc We Served With Pride, Patrick started Transcendental Media, an independent film production company whose goal is to create films and documentaries to “agitate the sleep of mankind”.

His previous films Flight from Death: the Quest for Immortality and The Philosopher Kings have been critically acclaimed portraits of fascinating people and ideas. They are both available on Hulu, iTunes, Netflix, and DVD. Patrick is currently in post-production on a new documentary feature called La Source.

What led you to tell the stories you did in your most recent film The Philosopher Kings?

I’m drawn to people on the fringe and the stories they have to tell. I really identify with those stories. We hear enough from the “experts”, the celebrities, the CEOs, etc every day of our lives. Most of them just talk a lot. I think people are tired of talk these days. We want authenticity in our lives. We want action. The generation once described as the “disposable population” is the same one occupying Wall Street right now protesting corporate greed and economic inequality. I chose university janitors as the subjects for The Philosopher Kings because they are the classic example of the unseen class of people in our culture. They see it all and have done it all, yet most people rarely take a moment to have a conversation with them. Why is that exactly? Why does our culture so heavily promote the outspoken, filthy rich, and the “pretty people”? At the end of the day, we’ve got real life issues to deal with and I’d rather get advice from people who have some real life experience and wisdom to share.

Did you ever screen the film with your subjects in the audience? What kind of response did they have?

We did a small tour of the film throughout the U.S. with various of the subjects in attendance for Q&As. One of the more memorable moments was a screening we did at Cornell University for something like 2,000 people, including 600 uniformed Cornell custodians, at which 6 of the 8 “philosopher kings” attended. That was the first time those 6 had seen the film and they were on cloud nine for those couple of days, getting wine and dined by the excellent people at Cornell, doing press interviews, and taking photos with fans. Seeing their stories on the big screen was a unique experience for them as you can imagine. They were touched to know that their stories, which up until that moment had never been shared with anyone beyond their families and friends (in some cases, nobody), could mean something to these complete strangers. Melinda Augustus, the woman who works at the Florida Museum of Natural History and whose mother was in a coma for over a decade, talks about the experience like it was therapy. Therapy is very much about acknowledging things, making them tangible, by saying it out loud and confronting it. This whole experience has helped her to begin the healing process.

Your upcoming film La Source follows the Lajeunesse Brothers. What is it about these men that compelled you to tell their story?

I’m a sucker for a good underdog story. It doesn’t take much to get me to devote my whole existence to telling a story like that of the Lajeunesse brothers. They are underdogs in just about every sense. Josue’s a janitor by day and cab driver by night and Chrismedonne is a carpenter living in a remote rural village in Haiti. The world doesn’t know these two exist and it’s too distracted to really care even if they did know. One of the lessons I took away from The Philosopher Kings was that the simple act of submitting to another person, setting aside our stream of thoughts about what’s tweetable about this moment for long enough to absorb someone’s story can be a powerful experience. The person sort of becomes real and three dimensional. When I first learned of the Lajeunesse brothers and their dream to bring clean water to their village in Haiti, I was pretty much obligated to tell their story. The villagers in La Source have had two options for getting clean water – a treacherous hike up a mountain to access a natural spring or a contaminated river that runs nearby the village. Diarrheal disease, a clear symptom of cholera, is the leading cause of death among young children in Haiti where 1 out of every 14 infants dies before they reach their first birthday.

So you are now in post-production?

Yes, we’re in post-production now and it’s going well now. The story was developing so quickly, we had no time to do proper fundraising which resulted in us having to nickel and dime our way through this whole project. We had to take several months off from post-production because we were completely tapped out, financially and emotionally, but we’re back on track now and expected to have a completed film by February 2012.

What do you hope comes from telling this story via this film?

Good stories, specifically in film form, have literally changed my life. They move me and inspire me to be a better human. It’s a transcendental experience for me. I hope to some degree that the audience walks away from La Source feeling that way. We’re also launching a nationwide social action campaign to empower and resource people to get involved in the water crisis in Haiti and around the world. We wanted to do more than just take donations at our screenings, we want to create a movement that will have an exponential effect on eradicating this crisis. We’re not going to let people leave the theater until they’ve been given clear options with regard to getting involved, organizing their own fundraisers or screening events, or how to support the cause. Our hope is that hundreds of thousands of people will get clean water as a result of this film and this action campaign.

Obviously there’s a reason you entered into filmmaking – what is it? What keeps you in it?

I was one of those super shy kids who always felt like he had a lot to say but not enough courage to speak up. When I discovered art (music was my first love), it was like two puzzle pieces coming together. It was like I had found my voice. Historically, storytelling has been the most effective way to communicate something. In my opinion, film is the most powerful storytelling medium that exists. I’ve learned so much about how to be a better human from films. I love that Joseph Campbell quote “If you want to change the world, you have to change the metaphor”. Art is our metaphor for the world and I believe that’s where change starts.

I’m a movie nerd. Any great movies/filmmakers we should know about?

Most of my favorite filmmakers are narrative directors like Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums), Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Babel), and Ang Lee (The Ice Storm). On the doc side, I really love the old verite films from people like Fred Wiseman (Titicut Follies) and Albert Maysles (Salesman). I love it when I feel like I’m sitting in the room with people from another time. They’re often not the most entertaining films, but they give you such a powerful way to experience someone’s story. Some docs from the last decade or so that I really liked were Last Train Home, A Decade Under Influence, and Mugabe and the White African. Lastly, I’m compelled to give a shout-out to a doc that pretty much defined my entire teenage life: The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years. It’s a shocking – sometimes embarrassing – look into the metal subculture of the 1980s. I didn’t bite the heads off of any bats, but I used to want to. A film that can inspire that kind of behavior is worth watching.

We want to help with you latest project La Source. How can we pitch in?

Thanks for asking! We’ve launched an IndieGoGo campaign to fund the social action campaign for my new film La Source. With the film as the centerpiece, we’re going to launch a nationwide campaign to bring awareness, then equip and empower people to get involved in the water crisis in Haiti and around the world. The lack of potable water is the leading cause of death in the world and it’s also a pretty easy fix. A single well can bring an entire community clean water for about 20 years. With this campaign we hope to spark a movement that will inspire people everywhere to screen the film and hold their own fundraisers and have it grow exponentially from that. All the funds from this IndieGoGo campaign will go directly towards the implementation of the action campaign. We’ve lined up a bunch of awesome perks that people get in return for their pledge, but most importantly people will be able to get in at the ground level before this campaign launches nationwide in 2012. Here’s the link: http://give.lasourcemovie.com.

Help a film and help bring clean water to Haiti.

Give to the project
Follow Patrick on Twitter
Transcendental Media

Posted in Film, Inspiration, Interviews | 28 Comments »

Jim Henson walked into a meeting of executives and financial backers declaring he wanted to create a kid’s show that brought about world peace. I love that story. It was a pitch meeting for Fraggle Rock. Few people can say things like that without sounding naive, but he had a way of making people believe anything was possible. I know he made me feel that way -and continues to.

As a kid who grew up obsessed with the Muppets and anything with Henson’s name attached it’d be an understatement to say I’ve been influenced by his work. There’s a shirt the Onion sold that said “I understand the Muppets on a much deeper level than you.” Yeah, it’s silly, but I’ve felt like that. The cool thing is I know I’m not alone. He had the ability to create art that left kids feeling like it was made just for them. I felt like that and still do.

The thing about The Muppets that I loved and still love is they’re a group of weirdos and chickens and monsters and things all trying to figure life out. Kermit is at the center of it all attempting to put on a show, to bring them together and to stay sane in the process. They’re a beautiful and almost functional family.

This will sound strangely morbid, but did you know you can watch Jim Henson’s funeral on YouTube? One day I found myself watching it. Yeah . . . I know, but I promise you – it’s not as weird as you’d think. Sure it’s sad (it is a funeral, after all,) but watching it left me inspired to create, to unite, to bring joy and to live a life that would one day result in a celebration like that.

There’s a line in The Muppet Movie:

Kermit: Yeah, well, I’ve got a dream too – but it’s about singing and dancing and making people happy. That’s the kind of dream that gets better the more people you share it with. And, well, I’ve found a whole bunch of friends who have the same dream. And, well, it kind of makes us like a family.

Twenty-one years ago today, Jim Henson died, leaving behind him a legacy of creativity, imagination and love. He promised a show that would bring about world peace. It might not have happened- but I do believe he did give us a glimpse, in his way, of what that might look like.

The above was written by one of the dudes who helped start Love In Stereo – (Brad). We don’t just want to hear from that guy. We want to hear from you! Who inspires you? Share with us and we’ll share with everybody else. Comment below or email to: hello@loveinstereo.com.

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