The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference.The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.
Elie Wiesel

Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope... and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. ~Robert F. Kennedy

We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.
Marian Wright Edelman

11 September 2012

Moving Beyond the Horror-Beyond the 11th

I think what I will always remember most viscerally about that morning is the sky. It was a September sky, that rare blue, clean and clear, that reflects the perfection of a late summer/early fall New England day. I wonder now how often I looked at the sky that day. How could a sky that glorious have held such horror?

On the morning of September 11, 2001 I was watering the late summer flowers willing them to keep summer going a few more weeks. I drove to my office with only a small news blip of a plane having flown into a building in New York. By 2:00 as I drove back home there were no planes allowed to be flying in the sky. When the roar of a plane's engine streaked through the complete silence of that afternoon I pulled the car over with my heart pounding as I realized the aircraft I heard were fighter jets from one of the Massachusetts bases. Once again I looked to the sky.

Living in Boston we all had six degrees of connections to the thousands of tragic stories of that day. Some of those stories lived their lives less than a mile away. Susan Retik and Patti Quigley lost their husbands, David Retik and Patrick Quigley, on flights that left from Boston that day. Susan was pregnant with her third child and Patti was eight months pregnant with her second child. They became single Mothers, Widows, living within a drama that changed everything for all of us but for their lives most of all.

Patti and Susan watched as the country prepared to strike back somehow in some way and saw that the women of the country that housed and trained their husband's murderers had been left alone too. The stories of the women of Afghanistan moved these two American women to action, to turn an unspeakable, deeply personal, tragedy into a promise of hope. Susan and Patti soon learned about the vast number of widows in Afghanistan who had no assistance, financial or emotional for themselves or their children. They felt a connection to these women whose lives were shattered by war and had no where to turn to rebuild their lives, none of the support that helped Patti and Susan get through. From that connection came Beyond the 11th " help provide financial and emotional support to these widows and their children and to give them hope for a better future."

Despite the changes for many women in Afghanistan since the Taliban was "removed" women without means, property, men to provide for them, are entirely dependent and live within poverty and desperation. Beyond the 11th works to aid non governmental organizations that make a difference in these women's lives by providing training, emotional guidance, child care, clothing and teaching them skills to help support themselves and their children and toward a life of self sufficiency.

Patti and Susan and Beyond the 11th have  been featured in a documentary by Principle Pictures, Beyond Belief . They also cycled from Ground Zero to Boston in 2006 to raise awareness and funds to help the women of Afghanistan through Cycling Forward last year on the 10th anniversary Beyond the Bike. When they asked women of Afghanistan whether they would ride bikes if they were given to them..." they all began to giggle. They explained that in their culture women do not ride bikes and people would laugh to see a woman on a bike. They could not believe that we ride bicycles and when we explained to them how far we ride to raise money for their programs, they were astonished. I hope that one day the widows we met will have the experience of riding on a bicycle with the wind blowing in their hair."

“There’s a way in which each of us makes small choices every day. And after a period of time those choices develop into a pattern. Each moral and ethical choice forms our identity. It seems to me that the terrorists who flew planes into the buildings on September 11th, they started making choices a long time ago — choices took them so far off center that flying a plane into a building seemed like the right thing to do. It’s like any one of us. We choose our way into being ourselves. And I think that’s what Patti and Susan do in little choices and in big choices. When given a choice between violence and love — they chose love. When given a choice between retribution and restoration of harmony — they chose restoring harmony. When given a choice between death and life — they’ve chosen life. That’s just who they are. It’s who they’ve come to be. It’s who they’ve chosen to be. And because of that, their children are learning to choose life as well.”Jim Fleming, S.J., Patti Quigley’s brother, in Beyond Belief

Two women whose lives, and whose children's lives ,would never be the same turned their pain, their grief, their anger to action. They were determined that from that day could come hope and change. For many of the women left behind by war in Afghanistan they can now reach for the sky, a sky that that holds promise of a better life, a better world and that may be the lesson of that September day.
To Donate or for more information Visit Beyond the 11th

Beyond the 11th's Grantees include:

Arzu meaning Hope in Dari helps provide income for women by marketing and selling their handmade rugs and paying the women 50% more than the market rate for their labor. The women also receive a bonus for each rug in exchange for promising to attend literacy classes and enrolling their children in school.

Bpeace which helps women in regions of war and recovery to market their skills and build businesses such as a group manufacturing soccer balls and other leather goods.

CARE a Beyond the 11th grant helped to fund a CARE Livestock Development Program helping women earn income through raising and rearing cows and lambs.

Women for Women "Helping Women Survivors of War Rebuild Their Lives"

18 December 2011

Giving Good-Presents for a Better World

It would be nice to think that we Give all year round, not just in the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's. We should always reach out, show our affection, remember those who make a difference in our daily lives. We don't always do that though, nor do we stop and remember to care and give in our daily lives to those who may not share our good fortune. No matter what this New Year brings we all have much to share and there are some very simple ways to give. Celebrate the season by cleaning out the closet and donating coats that your kids have outgrown, each time you open a gift, give something away to make room for that gift-that is the tradition of Boxing Day. If you are still shopping then the perfect "Don't Have a Clue" present is a donation to an organization that makes a difference in a child's life such as The New England Home for Little Wanderers, Alex's Lemonade Stand, or First Book where publishers are matching every donation book for book through December 31...This year especially your local Food Pantries are in need as are local shelters...Holiday Season 2010 requires us all to Give!

You can also give when you shop! Now there's a No Brainer!

Here are some organizations and companies that are making a difference through their products and their extraordinary work. Please Support them!

Women for Women International is dedicated to helping women survivors of war and injustice rebuild their lives through a one year program preparing them for independence and leadership. The belief that through educating and training women we can build a better world as women are the force of change. You can give a gift in honor of someone you love that will help women rebuild their lives in post-war Bosnia-give a sewing machine for $75, teach a woman to read for $50, help a woman start a business for $250.

Kate Spade joined with Women for Women in 2005 to build and promote micro-enterprises.  Beginning in 2012 Kate will offer cashmere pieces from Afghanistan.  This season there are several ideas including this Hand in Hand Bangle and yummy scarf/wrap available to give and give back.  This is not a cash donation effort, rather through Hand in Hand Kate Spade is helping women in war torn areas to establish their own financial independence through enterprise.
Dancing Deer Bakery offers Sweet Home Gifts

their charitable initiative offering a collection of yummies with proceeds helping families move out of poverty through their partnership with One Family Inc offering scholarship programs to at-risk mothers and their families

Presents for Purpose

Presents for Purpose brings great gift ideas that each support a special cause .

Partners for Just Trade
builds "partnerships through a just marketplace" offering products from the hands of artisans and farmers around the world.

Some of the best Gifts that Give come from Heifer International 

This Holiday give a Flock of Sheep, a Gaggle of Geese, a Flock of Ducks or my favorite, a Knitting Basket made up of 2 sheep and 2 alpaca.

Kiva has received a lot of notoriety and for good reason--a very simple concept-Loans that Change Lives!  Make a loan to help a business grow.  Through Kiva you can find a micro-businesses across the in 209 countries across the globe, 81% of the businesses that are funded are women-owned businesses- and select which you would like to help.  Kiva organizes it all including repayment, 98% of the loans are repaid, which you can then choose to reloan to another business... You can give a Kiva Gift card and the recipient can then choose the business they would like to help finance...

A great spot to find gifts is your favorite museum shop-These from Museum of Fine Arts. All museums have shops and most have online stores with great gift ideas inspired by their exhibits. Best part-proceeds support your favorite museum!

Truly one of my favorite ideas this year is Generation Cures' Project Good Gift which asks kids to give up a gift this season and have their moms and dads donate to Generation Cures Boston Children's Hospital Fund instead. Generation Cures is a wonderful Project reaches kids through animated stories, games and videos designed by kids to tell stories that help kids learn to care and give back.

Necklace of Courage, Afghanistan Women's Peace Collection

The Women's Peace Collection is dedicated to empowering women in regions of conflict and poverty-Afghanistan, Darfur, Ethiopia, Israel/Palestine... through "sustainable enterprise" and the wonderful products they offer are all handmade by women in these areas with the belief that "...women's hands are a force for peace."

Remember Me Bracelet, Afghanistan

Peace Candle-Israel/Palestine Peace Basket, Darfur

Shop Give is a beautiful line of travel accessories with a portion of proceeds going to designated charities

In this Season of Wrapping Paper, Bows, Shopping Bags and Tinsel...Plant a Tree! Plant a Tree USA sells gift cards to redeem on their site for tree planting-that is giving the future

Global Girlfriend is an organization that supports fair trade and Women entrepreneurs in countries in need throughout the world  

Global Girlfriend is filled with great gift ideas made around the world as they support artisans through Fair Trade, goods which are not only beautiful but provide independence, a living wage and proper working conditions.  You can also give Gifts that Give More -for under $50 you can help build a house in Haiti, fund a mobile health clinic, give a girl shoes to go wear to school...


SU2C-Stand Up to Cancer has teamed up with designers  for their signature line with all proceeds going to a CURE!

03 December 2011

Cards with a Cause

 I live my life gorilla glued to an email box. I think at last count I have 10 email addresses that actually get used everyday!  I truly get dizzy hopping from one to the other and sometimes I forget which box I am in and why on earth I am there. A very strange life for someone who loves all things paper.


I know! I know!  We need to save our trees (there are wonderful cards on recycled paper by the way...) but I love getting REAL mail...knowing that someone cared enough to take the time to select a card and write me a note of hello, address the envelope, place a pretty stamp on it and send it off.
Art Institute of Chicago

Receiving a card in your postal box is always a treat - romantic and nostalgic in this day of three letter texts.  Yes, there are some fun and lovely e-cards available  -I am a fan of  Ojolie- but can you tie an e-card in a ribbon and keep it for years?? I still have the very first Birthday, Holiday and Valentine cards I ever received. I have cards from so many who are no longer with me but I will always have their notes and their love in an envelope forever, can't get that with an email! 
Paper Source

I love Holiday Card shopping and my favorite spots include Museum Shops...Whimsical, Creative, Elegant Letter Press, Artistic and always special.


Art Institute Chicago, MOMA, MFA

I am crazy for Pop-Up Cards---A surprise in every envelope-all from MOMA and The Art Institute of Chicago

The loveliest way to send a card this time of year is through the many many charitable organizations that offer Holiday Cards with proceeds supporting their cause -Visit Cards that Give for some wonderful greetings that Give Back!

 Dana Farber/Jimmy Fund, The Humane Society, Parent's Project Muscular Dystrophy, Pine St. Inn

Project BreadAmerican Red CrossChildren's Memorial Hospital ChicagoNew York Public Library, Robin Hood Foundation, The Home for Little Wanderers

Find your favorite Charity/Organization and send a card that is truly from the heart and makes a difference...Love these from Friends of Boston's Homeless drawn by Boston 's own Sidewalk Sam