Archive for March, 2011

Mission Accomplished on World Water Day


The Adventure Project set an ambitious goal.  Blog writers and their readers worldwide responded with enthusiasm, compassion and generosity.

The idea came to Becky Straw and Jody Landers, Co-Founders of the Adventure Project, from members of their organization, known affectionately as “The Tribe.”  One week before World Water Day (March 22nd) blog writers proposed a challenge to raise $10,000 in one day by promoting The Adventure Project’s latest initiative: repairing broken water pump handles in northern India.  The anticipated results of the initiative are twofold.  By bringing wells that have fallen into disrepair back into use, 300 more people per month (3,600 per year) will have access to clean water.  In addition, the initiative will provide training and jobs to enable unemployed people to lift themselves out of poverty.

A Pump Mechanic Rides to Her Next Job

Becky thought the tribe members might be able to recruit 50 bloggers to promote the fundraising effort.  Jody, an eternal optimist, suggested 100 bloggers.  One week later, 137 bloggers had signed up to participate.  As the final seconds of World Water Day elapsed, the amount raised reached $11,390.  Donations are still rolling in, by the way.  All funds collected go to WaterAid, a charity that takes a unique approach to providing the poorest communities with potable water.

“It all came together like magic,” Becky reports.  She asked her friend and colleague, Nicole Skibola, to find a company that might be willing to provide matching funds to the promotion.  In her role as a “Social Innovation Strategist” with Apricot Consulting in New York City, Nicole works with corporations to create and execute effective programs for social change.  A former attorney, Nicole also serves as a “Social Enterprise Advisor,” for the Adventure Project.

Nicole e-mailed a list of her friends and business contacts in an effort to locate a matching funds sponsor.  Kathya Bustamante’s name happened to be on the list from a position she previously held with UBS.  Kathya, among other interests, now volunteers for TPRF as Manager of the Fundraising Team.  Kathya  recognized a common thread between both organizations:  “Clean Water” and “Dignity.”  She forwarded Nicole’s request to decision makers at TPRF.  Within twenty-four hours, TPRF committed to providing up to $10,000 in matching funds.  “Awesome,” Nicole commented in an e-mail to Becky and Kathya, “the fastest foundation response in history.”

Northern Indian Woman

One final footnote—Although TPRF agreed to provide up to $10,000 in matching funds, we surprised the girls by cutting a check for the full amount of the funds raised on World Water Day: $11,390.

“Your response was so amazing and so responsible,” Becky said about TPRF’s participation.

*Photos courtesy of Esther Havens for The Adventure Project

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The Not-So-Hidden-Truth About Starbucks


I am trying to write my second novel.  It is not easy, to say the least.  I am confident, however, that this is a universal truth among authors attempting to write their first or seventy-first long piece of fiction or non-fiction.  The reasons for this difficulty may vary from author to author.  My main roadblock seems to be the increasing disenchantment of sitting in a room all by myself for long periods of time.  Again, I suspect I am not alone in this predicament.  The problem apparently extends far beyond the relatively small segment of the population on planet earth attempting to write novels.  I know this because I have recently taken my laptop to a local Starbucks to resolve my isolation problem.

The Starbucks I now regularly inhabit is not your everyday Starbucks. Management recently retrofitted the place with long tables, benches actually, with stools and a strip of electrical outlets underneath to plug in battery cables.  Droves of people come here, not just to chat and caffeinate, but to do WORK! This includes college-students doing real, actual homework, not wasting time on Facebook.  Freelance, self- employed, and independent contractor types also hang out here.  These people, like myself, are hard at work, despite the distractions of noisy conversation and often-times idiotic, piped-in music.  I find this phenomenal and wonder,”Why do we come here?”  Many, if not all of us, are surely not homeless.

I can only speak for myself.  I come here to overcome loneliness—to make some sort of connection.  And I’m happy to report that my new strategy is paying off.  I’m writing my novel on a regular basis, slowly but surely.

Now that we may have some insight into the reason for the overwhelming success of the Starbucks chain, I would like to come to the point of this piece.  Many years ago, I began listening to Prem Rawat speak about an inner experience of peace and contentment.  At the time, I did not have to go to Starbucks to be around people.  I had a full time, good-paying job, a girlfriend, my parents and cousins to surround me.  Yet, something was missing.

Mr. Rawat’s message of peace captivated me in a way nothing had previously.  I followed up on his promise to reveal a source of peace and contentment within myself.  I practiced the techniques of what he calls Knowledge, and, to make a long story short, I have not been in the least bit disappointed.  Well, perhaps that statement is not entirely true.  I had the idea shortly after receiving the techniques of Knowledge that I would not need anything else, including people.  To make another long story short, that idea turned out to be foolish and a bit funny, now that I look back on it.

But there is a point here, somewhere.  Oh yes, here it is:  I need outer connections—with colleagues in my chosen profession, with friends and family, even Facebook connections. Thanks to the experience of Knowledge, I’ve learned that I need something else.  I need a connection with myself for my life to be complete.  I’m not going to put a name to what I’ll call “myself,” because I’ve learned that names are insufficient to describe it.  I will just say this:  I was looking for a missing piece of the puzzle of my life.  Prem Rawat helped me to find it.  Now, I feel my life is complete.  It is full, not stuffed with things on the outside, but from within.  And my connections on the outside are more fulfilling, because I am a more full and complete person, with more to offer to others.

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