I am so lucky. I fully appreciate that for the moment I am in this magical place where I can tell the stories that I want to tell. This is an incredibly blessed position for any artist, any filmmaker to be in and I could not be here without the support of my family, friends and teachers.
And this is an important story.
On November 9th, in Costa Rica, at the home of Nobel Peace Prize winner and former president, Oscar Arias there will be a gathering of young leading activists on gun control incubating and workshopping solutions. Oscar Arias (Nobel for his efforts to end the Central American crisis) will be joined by Nobel Laureate Jody Williams, (International Ban of Landmines) where they will be mentoring the young, and already successful activists and organizers from across the country including from Newtown (Sandy Hook), Parkland, and even Columbine.
This gathering has been put together by PeaceJam. A global organization who’s sole purpose is to Nobel Peace Prize Winners Mentoring Youth to Change the World. The organization itself has been nominated many times for the Nobel.
As synchronicity would have it, my mother in law, a very excited Claudia Frost called me to tell me of this organization she had just gotten turned on to. She was volunteering at a school when she passed by an auditorium where a woman was speaking to a completely rapt audience of young kids. She volunteered to serve lunch there so that she could just stay in the room. The event was a PeaceJam of Maine conference and Claudia was struck by the absolute attention the children were giving the speaker - a Nobel Laureate herself.
In perfect form she decided more schools in her area needed this and quickly found herself on a conference call with the Executive Director of Peace Jam and the head of Peace Jam Maine. The executive director mentioned this upcoming event in Costa Rica and said multiple times on that call ‘if only we knew of a documentary filmmaker who could handle this’… and here I am, on my way to Costa Rica on November 7th.
Now having a young daughter in school, and having experienced a brief lockdown ourselves - little has hit me so viscerally as young people being killed in their schools or being shot just walking down the street. Granted I’ve somewhat conflated issues here - crossing the absolute need for gun control and the absolute need for racial and gender equality (I guess I can’t help loping even more issues in here). But with all of that there has been nothing in these past years that has shook me to my core as much as children being killed - and truly that is saying a lot (considering last week we put Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, even just writing the name causes me to almost vomit on my desk).
Family and close friends have been subject to a few of my harebrained schemes to work on this issue, but no one idea truly landed. And I was often and lovingly reminded that there are a great many minds and organizations working on this and that I needn’t start from scratch. But the question for me was where, how and what could I do or add to this work.
Enter the call from Claudia.
Peace Jam couldn’t be a better answer. The organization is taking incredibly important knowledge from our elders and seeing that it is passed down - which itself is a thread through much of my own storytelling. To come at issues of peace, and specifically gun control, through a positive lens, through education and mentorship is the only way that I can do this work. To approach it any other way is too dark, too heartbreaking and unsustainable.
And yes, I am so lucky to be in this place where I can choose what stories to tell and this is one of them.
These endeavors always always need funding, support and energy from as many as possible. There has been a GoFundMe page set up by Kelly Mittleman, who’s son is part of the Newtown Action Alliance and will be one of the young people attending the conference. There is a short video here.
I would also like to raise at least another $5k to send a Columbine survivor, activist and Bay Area resident to this conference.
In all cases donations will be made to PeaceJam, which is a US 501c3 and all donations are 100% tax deductible. I will be updating my own site with a donation button soon.
These are the students for future change who have galvanized their efforts to end gun violence and have become the VOICES OF A NEW GENERATION - LETS GIVE THEM A MIC!
Any questions or how you can get involved contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org