Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Fifty People. One Question.

This is a really great video project that was started in New Orleans, LA. The filmmakers, Crush & Lovely and deltree, go to a city, ask fifty strangers one question and film them while they answer. The result: very beautiful moving videos that remind us all of our humanity and our interconnectedness. We're not all that different from each other.

So far, two questions have been asked in three cities: New Orleans, Brooklyn and New York City. They are working to release the fourth video filmed in London pretty soon. But in the meantime, watch these (and in HD, too!):

New Orleans:

Fifty People, One Question: New Orleans from Benjamin Reece on Vimeo.

New York City:

Fifty People, One Question: New York from Crush & Lovely on Vimeo.


Fifty People, One Question: Brooklyn from Crush & Lovely on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Seize The World

When I was in elementary school, my big brother used to make model rockets with his friend, Stephen Allen. I always looked up to them both, and I believe I got a lot of my sense of adventure from them.

It's been a decade since I ever knew Stephen. But now I am back, living and working in Telluride, and, as chance would have it, I see him almost every day at the bakery. He's always friendly, funny, a nice customer. I'm not sure he remembers me, but we re-introduced ourselves to each other, so we always greet each other by name and say Hi on the street.

Anyway. A few days ago, I noticed an article about Stephen in the local newspaper, saying that he's preparing to leave on a 2-year bicycle tour of the WORLD, starting and ending in Telluride. At first, I was just impressed with this very cool adventure idea. But the past few days I have been learning more and more about the motivation and story behind this trip.

Stephen has Epilepsy. And this bike tour is a special event funded by the non-profit foundation that he founded! It's called Seize The World, and exists in order to promote epilepsy awareness and research. Stephen wants to show the world that people living with epilepsy can live happy, healthy, active lifestyles. He has already done so much with his life, but I think this trip will do wonders to inspire not only other people living with epilepsy, but anyone who needs a reminder that disabilities/adversities are no excuse for not living life to its fullest.

Stephen is leaving tomorrow, actually. So let's wish him safe travels and good luck with the publicity! And definitely check out the website for more information about the STW foundation and Stephen's trip.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

the last lecture

i know you must have been bombarded with tons of information about this randy pausch guy, and you've probably already watch his last lecture. (if you haven't, view it here.) but today, i want to tell you about his book. it was given to me as a graduation present, and at first, i thought it was a silly gift. i didn't need a book transcript of his last lecture, because i have already watched it and cried and got inspired by it.

but i cracked it open and gave it a chance, because after all, it was a gift, and i cannot disregard a gift like that. and to my surprise, the book was not a transcript of the lecture, but it was EVERYTHING i needed right then. i was going through some tough times again, trying to figure out some of my life decisions, and the book put into words the encouragement and advice i needed to hear and accept. i know the book wasn't written directly for me, but i feel that anyone could use it to help them keep inspired. the days i read this book and the days following my finish, i became more patient, because i got to a clearer place in my head where i could reflect on my thoughts and actions.

i highly recommend you pick up the book and read it all the way through. maybe three times over. it shouldn't be a very long read (i just had no time so i had to sneak it in between little gaps in my days).

and also, sorry for not keeping this post up-to-date. i will try harder.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Age is just a number

Buster Martin is 101 years old. But don't go judging that number - Buster just completed a half marathon (that's 13.1 miles)! He also still holds a job as a van cleaner, is a member of rock band The Zimmers (which is composed of some of the oldest people still alive today), and writes a regular advice column to younger generations in For Him Magazine. Next up on Buster's to-do list: the London Marathon! 26 miles!

Check him out in the news. And on YouTube (this will amaze you and make you laugh).

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Seeing Without Eyes

You already know about this guy, but I think he deserves a post, especially since we’re trying to document all these amazing people.

Ben Underwood was born with normal, healthy, beautiful brown eyes. However, at the age of two, he developed Bilateral Retnoblastoma, a rare cancer of the eyes that occurs only in infants. By the time he was three, doctors had removed both of his eyes in order to stop the cancer, rendering Ben completely blind.

After Ben awoke from his final eye surgery, his mother was as terrified and emotional as her baby boy. However, she explains, “I took his little hands and put them on my face and said, ‘See me, you can see me with your hands,’ next, I put my hand to his nose and said, ‘Smell me, you can see me with your nose,’ then I said, ‘Hear me, you can see me with your ears, you can't use your eyes anymore, but you have your hands, your nose, and your ears.’”

Ben and his family have never let a lack of sight be a hindrance on Ben’s life. As a result, Ben has taught himself to use echolocation. That’s right, he “sees” by hearing. With this amazing ability, Ben is able to run around the house, up and down the stairs, play basketball, ride a bike, and even swim with his dolphin buddies. Ben always says “I’m not blind… I just can’t see.”

This full-length documentary about Ben explains how echolocation works and shows him enjoying everyday life – most notable is the fact that he is always smiling! Also, check out his homepage for more information and news updates.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


This post is a little different from the last two posts. My inspiration is from a book. I was introduced by one of my professors to a graphic novel called "Persepolis". Within a day, I finished the first volume and craved to read the second. Within the next couple of days, I was able to lay my hands on the second volume and finished that, too, in one sitting.

"Persepolis" is an autobiography of Marjane Satrapi about her childhood in Iran during the 1970's and the 1980's. Satrapi's progressive family was involved with the communist and socialist movement in Iran, and "Persepolis" describes her experiences during her stay as she witnessed the corruption and oppression in the Iranian government. At the age of 14, she was sent to Vienna, Austria, because her parents feared for her safety and her future. But she soon returned to Iran for college and struggled to balance the two cultures in which she grew up. Satrapi currently resides in Paris where she launched her career.

"Persepolis" is a beautifully written and drawn graphic novel. It documents the life of an outspoken and hard-headed child during the revolution very well. I highly recommend having a go with it. It's very humorous and touching. Additionally, this novel set has recently been turned into a feature-length movie and is being shown at selected theaters around the country.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Three Cups of Tea

Greg Mortenson was a mountain climber. In 1993, in memory of his sister who died of a seizure, Greg went to Pakistan to attempt a climb of K2, the world’s second highest mountain peak and notoriously most dangerous mountain to climb. He failed to reach the peak, but discovered something else during the trip. While he was recovering from the climb in a tiny town where no one spoke a word of English, he met a group of kids writing with sticks in the dirt. Eventually, he figured out that these kids were doing their school work. They did not have a teacher, they did not have a school house, they did not have any resources. Greg became fascinated by and attached to these kids and before he left, he promised them that he would return within the next year and build them a school.

Well, Greg kept his promise. And since then, he has dedicated his life to building 61 schools in rural areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. He has also worked hard to promote and support education for girls. Of the 25,000 students that attend Greg’s schools, 14,000 are girls.

When the U.S. government found out about his organization and incredible influence on the rural communities of a region considered the front lines of the war on terror, they offered a large sum of money in exchange for cooperation with military procedures. They wanted complete control over where schools could be located and when they could meet. Greg declined this offer. Though he was a military man himself, having served in Germany during the Cold War, Greg made a clear point of always distinguishing his work from the interests of the military while in Pakistan and Afghanistan. This is how he was able to gain the trust of local government, tribal, and religious leaders. His mission and motto is to fight terrorism with books, not bombs.

Over the years, and especially since 9/11, Greg has received much opposition and scrutiny, being criticized and hated for offering aid and education to Muslim children. But he has persevered and never lost sight of that life-changing moment when he made a promise to a group of children on the side of a mountain. He has received several humanitarian awards for his work, and recently finished a book about his experiences which has received international fame and literary praise. It is called Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace... One School at a Time and has been on the New York Times Bestsellers List for nine months. I just ordered mine from Amazon, and hope to be even more inspired by reading his own words. I’ll let you borrow it when I’m done!

Greg is a hero, and a beautiful example of how successful compassion can be.

Read more about Greg and his book here.

Tim Aline Rebeaud

This is the first post to help us inspire each other, and what better way than to write about Tim Aline Rebeaud? Although I have already told you about her on the phone, I want to write about her so that we can archive this collection of amazing people/events.

Tim, which is the Vietnamese word for "heart", was a world traveler. At the age of twenty, she landed in Vietnam. Upon her short stay (or what she thought at the time to be a short stay), she discovered an orphaned child crying in an alley. She took it upon herself to help this child, and since then, she never left foot of Vietnam! She started a shelter in Ho Chi Minh City called The Maison Chance, a place where orphans and the handicapped are welcome. Except, this place is unlike many other shelters of which we know. Tim recruits volunteers to help these orphans and handicaps to get back on their feet, by offering them English/French/skill lessons. They live together under one roof as a family. The amazing thing about Tim? She doesn't have a single drop of Vietnamese blood in her. She is a Swiss, who is now completely fluent in Vietnam! She has spent the last fifteen years of her life dedicating it to helping those others in need.

What an amazing lady, right?!

You can read more about her here or on her shelter webpage.