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Blog

The Winter Solstice

Jody Weiss

The Winter solstice is an astronomical phenomenon which marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year. Winter solstice occurs for the Northern Hemisphere in December and for the Southern Hemisphere in June.

A Year of Living As A Cell - Day 9 - Agendas

Jody Weiss

What would it feel like to walk into a meeting and not have any attachment as to whether your point was heard, understood or acted upon? Not great, right? Then again, what would it feel like if you cared but didn't care about the outcome all at the same time? After all, will any detail of your job be remembered in 20 years? Is any particular detail worth getting stressed over? This is, therefore, what I called the "Paradox Play"; it is a place of viewing the world and all interactions in it as extremely important and then simultaneously not important at all, all at the same time. You may find that living in this way, where you are not really attached to your agendas while still trying to implement them, will free you up and give you the insight to find humor in more situations. After all, do all of these to-do lists really matter in the long run? What matters is our journey along the way! 

A Year of Living As A Cell - Day 7 - Reality Soup

Jody Weiss

Did you know that your 3-pound brain houses a collection of 100 billion neurons which are interconnected with 100 trillion synapses that interpret reality? If they were all laid out end-to-end, they would stretch out 3.6 million miles…. All of that fits inside your head! I read this in Ideas & Discoveries Magazine (9/13, Pg 24). The article also states that EVERY SECOND, 11 million sensory impressions flood the brain and somehow are filtered down to around 40 impressions that we are capable of interpreting per second. So, what is reality then if we can only interpret 40 or so of the multi-fold impressions of life all around us? I am so fascinated by this. I wonder what it would feel like to be another type of (alien) being who, let's say, could feel 1,460 impressions per second, rather than 40. What would his or her day be like? 

A Year of Living As A Cell - Day 5 - What is Reality

Jody Weiss

Perhaps you know that reality does not exist outside of us. It exists entirely in the way our brain interprets neuro signals. To start with, 80% of our understanding of reality comes through the way in which visual information is converted into neural impulses. This is done by the 125 million + receptors in each eye. Yes, I did say 125 million receptors in each eye or 250 million receptors all together! Then these impulses are relayed through the optic nerve into the brain which creates mental impressions of what is "outside". So what happens if any one of these systems goes haywire? And what about brain chemistry? Isn't it true that reality changes if one's brain chemistry is off? I always wonder if I will wake up tomorrow with the same view of reality as yesterday… This is how beautiful and fragile this system called "life" is and it asks for enormous open-mindedness as it becomes very clear that no two people will ever have the same reality. There are 7 billion people on the planet and each of our view of reality is as different as snow flakes falling from the sky. 

A Year of Living As A Cell - Day 4 - Quieting The Ego

Jody Weiss

I spoke with my friend Greg Wendt last night who introduced me to his friend and business associate, Eric. Greg and Eric are engaged in an extremely beautiful experiment. They are working on some projects together and the process in which they interact is as or more important than the outcome. So, if they or the other people on their team feel any resistance from any one else, they will stop and process together until the issue is resolved. This, they say, frees up energy flow and impact enormously. Egos quiet down, self doubt and stress melts away, etc. And, from a purely cellular, energetic perspective I can see how taking the time would free up energy caught in the realm of the ego. When the ego quiets and free flowing creativity remains, 360 viewing and an expansive sense of possibility arises. I love what they shared with me and am so pleased to hear that they are processing in this way so eventually they can share it with other people in business and in life.

 

A Year of Living As A Cell - Day 3 - Trade Show Consciousness

Jody Weiss

Today I am heading off to the Javits Center so I am asking myself a question… What would it feel like to walk up to the Javits Center and not see it? Well, what I mean is to see it but to not see it all at the same time… Well, to be more specific… what I mean is to see it as cellular pulsing energy not separate from me… or to see it and me as the very same thing, cellularly speaking. Hmmmmm, hard to put this all into words. And, when I walk through the isles, looking for "things" at this cosmetics manufacturing show, is there any way to see them and NOT see them? They are things like components and the fill for make-up but they are also pure energy; or more specifically, pure consciousness in the form of things. I realize that how I CHOOSE to view them is completely up to me. And, as I meet people, can I see them as an energetic extension of me; cellular reflections through brain neurons recording light through air filled with cells meeting a trillion cells "stuck together" near by. This could make for a very different day in the pulsating world of consumer goods. 

A Year of Living As A Cell - Day 2 - Liquid World

Jody Weiss

As I woke out of sleep this morning, before moving too much, I observed my environment. Could I view this day in a different way? Could I soften my view so things would appear less solid, less rigid, and less separate? I thought about a meditation I was taught by the non-dual teacher Rupert Spira. He showed me how to observe all of reality from the perspective of one living cell. This cell, of course, has no past or future memory. It is just pure awareness and can move between all of matter because, well, it is a cell. And, in this exploration, Rupert asked me if as this cell, could I find an "edge" to anything? Could I, as a conscious, aware cell, moving through space bump up against anything? Therefore, as I lay here waking up out of my sleep, I can feel my cellular body (with a trillion + cells) laying on a cellular bed with cellular sheets with the understanding that it is all cells touching cells. I look out and see a cellular world with the space between me and other objects as a billion trillion cells and I begin to get a sense of what my day will be like… I am going swimming today in a sea of magnificent, pearlescent cells everywhere! 

A YEAR OF LIVING AS A CELL - Day 1 - The Start

Jody Weiss

I have decided to start a blog today on what it feels like to live life as a cellular being rather than a person living from the mind/intellect/ego (MIE) and responding to life from the perspective of the MIE. I decided to do this as I have come to realize that the more I exist as the trillion + cells that make up "me", rather than the fixed concept of "Jody", I am beginning to live more freely and, frankly, more authentically. A trillion cells operate the machine that makes up this physical body and how it moves in the world. The absolutely astounding thing about this is that many of our cells die out and new ones are regenerated every few days or so! And, some scientists say that we are fully reconstructed cellularly every seven years. This means that every seven years, I am a newly formed, newly constructed being. So who exactly is Jody?  This will be my daily exploration and I hope you will join me. 

‘Sultry, Sophisticated, Sustainable’: Lara Miller Designs

karina diaz

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A pioneer of sustainable fashion, Chicago’s Lara Miller creates her designs under the influence of the city’s architectural landscape, with a playful modernity perfect for the urban chick on the go! Her Spring 2010 line is “sultry, sophisticated, and as endlessly variable as the woman who wears them” (elle.com).

Because Miller has devoted herself to ‘being green’, each garment is hand-loomed from eco-friendly fibers like organic cotton, hand-loomed bamboo, hemp and vegan silk.  Most of her garments, in the spirit of reusability, can be retied or rewrapped to reveal a different look entirely, from a strappy minidress to a sexy knee-length halter.

“Acknowledging the impact that we all have on our environment, I aspire to preserve and respect our earth in every way that I can,” writes Miller on her website. “I see my company as a way to support my community- not only by using organic materials while adhering to a ‘green’ lifestyle and workspace- but also manufacturing locally and working to sustain the sewn products industry in Chicago.”

You can find Lara Miller’s designs at NYC boutiques BioKaightGomi, and Nimli Inc, and Brooklyn’s Camilla Boutique.  You can also check out her previous collections on her website, http://laramiller.net/ .

 

Erin Jane Jewelry: Feminine, Modern, Absolutely Gorgeous

karina diaz

Erin Jane, a Minnesota native, has been designing jewelry since 2006 from her headquarters in Seattle.  “My design philosophy,” she writes on her website, “is to create pieces that beautifully balance simplicity and femininity with a modern aesthetic.”

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Jane designs and makes her gorgeous one-of-a-kind pieces by hand, and only uses high-quality materials; sterling silver, natural stone, and 14-karat gold.  In the spirit of sustainability, she uses recycled metals from eco-friendly refiner Hoover & Strong, as well as recycled packaging.

“I create each design with unique combination of colors, textures, and metals,” writes Jane, “ while at the same time retaining simplicity.”

 

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Boxing Kitten: Color and Print = Bold and Beautiful

karina diaz

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Boxing Kitten is a New York based fashion label uses 100% cotton fabrics with vibrant African wax block prints, making each garment totally unique. The pieces are woven by founder and designer Maya A. Lake (pictured at top), a Brooklyn native, and have been worn by superstars like Beyonce,  Erykah Badu, and Alicia Keys. “Her current collection is driven by the political and cultural climate of the Civil Rights Movement,” states Boxing Kitten’s website. “Each garment fuses bold print combinations with charmingly demure patterns and flawless construction”.

 

Life is Beautiful with KeoK’jay!

karina diaz

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A beautiful new dress does wonders for a woman’s self-esteem, and a beautiful,sustainable new dress does wonders for the environment!  But what if the way you dressed made you look and feel beautiful, help the environment, and support women in third-world countries with HIV? 

Well, look no further than KeoK’jay!

This socially conscious business was established in Cambodia as a way to provide safe and productive job opportunities for HIV-positive women.  Each employee (currently, KeoK’jay employs nine) works from home—which allows for extra care in their work and extra time with their family—and creates beautiful garments by hand from recycled materials, secondhand fabrics, organic cotton, and natural dyes.

Not only does KeoK’jay give these women jobs, they also provide for their health; through the company’s partnership with Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope, these women and their families receive free health care!  And their collaboration with Goel Community, KeoK’jay’s supplier of organic cotton and sustainable fabrics, makes sure that Cambodia’s economy feels the benefits just as much as Cambodia’s women!

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With Love,

The PeaceKeeper Team

(Writer:  Renee Estey.  Editors:  Jessica Smith and Eva Kuhn. Images courtesykeokjay.org.)

 

Lovetta Conto and Akawelle: “Also Known As Love”

karina diaz

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At 8 months of age, Lovetta Conto (pictured above) fled her native Liberia for a Ghana refugee camp, one of 47,000 men, women and children escaping civil war.  At age 14, she left the camp for America through the help of the Strongheart Fellowship program, an organization that helps children in need become leaders in social change.

Lovetta is the designer of Akawelle, a jewelry line made entirely out of spent bullet casings taken from the Liberian civil war.  Her jewelry has received rave reviews from Elle.comO Magazine, and the Huffington Post, to name a few—and is worn by celebrities like Angelina Jolie, who calls Lovetta “an inspiration.”

 

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The name Akawelle is a combination of two words:  ‘aka’, the English acronym for ‘also known as’, and ‘welle’ the word for ‘love’ in Lovetta’s native language.  Each necklace is made from the melted top of the bullet casing and refashioned into a leaf pendant, which is then engraved with the word ‘Life’; a symbol of the promise of new life arising from even the worst hardships.

The money from Akawelle goes toward Lovetta’s future and the creation of the first Strongheart House, a safe house in Liberia that will offer comfort, security, and eco-friendly education to orphans around the world.  “We’ll have a global family,” states Lovetta.  “My brothers and sisters will have different color skin but all one strong heart.”

You can support Lovetta Conto’s mission by visiting Akawelle’s website! For more information on the Strongheart Fellowship, you can click here for their homepage.

With Love,

The PeaceKeeper Team

(Writer:  Renee Estey.  Editors:  Jessica Smith and Eva Kuhn.  All pictures courtesyAkawelle and elle.com.)

 

 

Buy a Purse, FEED a Child

karina diaz

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In a (completely unofficial) poll taken at PeaceKeeper, we discovered three reasons why we think reusable shopping bags are awesome:

1)     They’re an easy and inexpensive way to be eco-friendly.

2)     They can carry anything (and we mean ANYTHING) you need them to.

3)     They’re adorable, in that hippie-chic, I’m-saving-the-environment-and-I-look-darn-good-doing-it way.

So you can imagine when we found out that Lauren Bush, designer of the FEED reusable bag (and scion of the Bush family), was designing a new Guatemala line, we were absurdly excited.

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Since their 2005 debut, these bags haven’t just been saving the environment; they’ve been feeding children around the world.  With each bag purchased, the FEED Foundation donates to the United Nations World Food Programme.  The foundation has raised over 5 million dollars in the past five years alone—that’s funding for over 55 million meals!

The latest FEED bags are a collaboration with NEST, a non-profit organization that empowers female artists and artisans with loans, mentoring, and an online marketplace for their products.  The bags (in vibrant colors and prints, a reflection of Guatemala’s vibrant culture) were designed by Ms. Bush and crafted by female artisans in Guatemala operating under microfinance loans; as the bags are sold, NEST uses the profits to provide more loans for other women in need.

These bags will be sold exclusively at FEED’s official website and in-store at Lord and Taylor.  For the small zippered pouch ($19), $3.50 will be donated to UNICEF—enough to provide a year’s sustenance for one Guatemalan child.  For each large tote sold ($39), FEED will donate $10.50, which will provide sustenance for three children for a year.

Chronic malnutrition is the cause of 50% of deaths in children under 5 years of age.  By purchasing a FEED bag, you can help these children to grow up stronger and healthier!

With Love,

The PeaceKeeper Team

(Writer:  Renee Estey.  Editors:  Jessica Smith and Eva Kuhn.  All pictures

 

141 Eyewear: “You Buy, We Give.”

karina diaz

Imagine that you are sight-impaired.  Now imagine that you couldn’t afford glasses, contacts, or any kind of visual services.  How much more difficult would the simplest tasks be?  Would you even be able to enjoy your life?

Introducing 141 Eyewear, the latest company to use the “You Buy One, We Give One” philanthropic policy (see our post on TOMS Shoes for more info!).  Co-founders and power couple Kyle Yamaguchi and Shu-Chu Wu began their mission in Taiwan, where Shu-Chu works as an optician; in 2009, they donated over 200 pairs of eyeglasses to families hit hard by Typhoon Morakot, the deadliest typhoon to hit the country in history.

According to the World Health Organization, 153 million people–and 13 million children–require corrective lenses but cannot afford proper vision services.  This often results in little or no interest in education (since sight-impaired children cannot see the blackboard) and loss of job opportunities, which contributes to the massive poverty problems we face worldwide.

When you buy a pair of 141 eyeglasses, the company donates one pair to a child in need.  Their “One Four One” policy means that with just a simple purchase, you have made an immediate change to the life of another human being—and since 141 only uses the highest-quality materials for their eyewear, you know you’re getting plenty of bang for your buck!

 

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The company is based in Portland, Oregon check out their website 141eyewear.com or Facebook for more.

With Love,

The PeaceKeeper Team

(Writer: Renee Estey.  Editor:  Jessica Smith.  Images and video courtesy 141eyewear.com.)

 

Shop Smart with Annie O.

karina diaz

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Annie O. Waterman’s eponymous accessory line, Annie O, was inspired by the vibrancy and cultural beauty of traditional Peruvian textile work.   Her collection includes hand-embroidered handbags, belts, scarves, and jewelry, melding ancient weaving techniques with contemporary design.

To manufacture her products, she turns to various female artisan cooperatives around the world.  The cooperatives are made up of female victims of domestic abuse and extreme poverty; by employing these women, Waterman ensures that they have job security, a market for their goods, and protection from the abusive practices of corporate sweatshops and wage slavery.

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This is a call to all the PeaceKeepers in the world:  Shop Smart To Save Lives!By shopping smarter (that $5.99 strip-mall top isn’t worth the unfair labor practices that went into making it), you can save lives—and by purchasing items made with care and skill, you’re saving money too!  Annie O’s collection is a perfect example of how one person, through even the smallest effort, can make a change for the better in the world.

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You can see more of Annie O’s pieces on the official website.  Or check her out onEtsy.com!

With Love,

The PeaceKeeper Team

(Writer:  Renee Estey.  Editor:  Jessica Smith.  All pictures courtesy annieoboutique.com.)

 

Peacekeeper Kiss of Approval – Eco-designer Auralís

karina diaz

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Auralís  Herrero Lugo's line Auralís comes out of Brooklyn, NY and is based in New York City and Puerto Rico. Pouring all of her creativity into this line, she is looking to rescue old artisanal and eco-conscious Puerto Rican crafts, along with making beautiful clothing. She divides her time between both places, making a family out of the community of workers on the collection.

Auralís creates timeless pieces for the modern woman full of eco-consciousness and a passion for beauty. She “designs for a better future, one garment at a time.” Using organic, sustainable, natural, or recycled fabrics like hemp, bamboo, organic cotton Auralís is changing the world for the better and keeping men and women feeling great about the choices they make and the clothing they wear.

We are so happy to be a sponsor of Auralís, with all of their beautiful dresses and skirts, shirts, and jumpers. Her pieces were inspired by her childhood, and as such, have a breezy summer nights feel. Modern, flirty clothing that treads lightly on the environment, while helping to build bridges and create community, Auralís is the kind of collection Peacekeeper likes to be front row and center for. My favorite piece from the Spring 2011 line is this flowy, yellow dress that has just the right about of romantic dreaminess mixed with sex appeal. I love the subtle hints of sexy with the surprising slit in the front and the openness of the back. Simply stunning!

Make Art, Not War: BUY BACK THE BOMBS

karina diaz

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Back in July, Peacekeeper gave the Kiss of Approval to Article 22 and their Peace Bomb Bracelets.  We really believe in what they are doing and the creative way they transform the metal into something beautiful!

Now, Article 22, founded by Elizabeth and Wallis Suda, has teamed up with filmmaker Sam Rowland to create a series of short travelogue films and photographs capturing the Peace Bomb journey in early November 2010.

When the project is completed, these films will be displayed on the Facebook pages of both Article 22 and BigBalls Films (Rowland’s production company), and a short film condensing all the documentary footage will be entered into international film festivals.  The goal, as stated on Article 22’s Kickstarter page, is “to raise awareness of the project while demonstrating how collaboration between media, designers, non-governmental organizations and traditional communities in developing countries can pave a path toward sustainable socio-economic development.”

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Above: two Laotian metalsmiths, creators of the Peace Bomb Bracelet molds.

In order to make this possible, Article 22 needs to raise $7000 by October 31.  The money will pay for the expenses for the three to travel to Laos and stay for seven days in the beginning of November. Timing is key in this project; the Suda sisters need to arrive in Laos in time for the Convention on Cluster Munitions, as the films will include footage of village artisans attempting to ban munitions with long-lasting consequences for small communities (e.g. shrapnel remnants, chemical leftovers, and the like).

Beginning with items like spoons and moving to jewelry like bracelets, Article 22 is here to give back to the communities of Laos by using bracelets made from bombs. They are taking the damage caused to the community and giving back. Help support Article 22’s journey and help the communities of Laos by visiting their Kickstarter and pledging as much as you can afford!  Even a dollar helps.

ALSO: don’t forget to Like this journal entry on Facebook or Retweet (at the top of the blog entry).  The more people who donate, the quicker Article 22 can help the people of Laos!

With Love,

The PeaceKeeper Team

(Writer:  Renee Estey.  Editor:  Jessica Smith.  Pictures courtesy Article 22.)

 

PeaceKeeper Kiss of Approval: Nicole Bridger Designs

karina diaz

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Today, Peacekeeper smacks our kiss of approval on Nicole Bridger Designs!   Nicole received her BAA in fashion design from Ryerson University in Toronto. From there she interned for the one and only Vivienne Westwood in London, where she learned the art of sculpting fabric.

BD uses fabric from all natural and renewable resources like organic cotton, linen, hemp, wool and bamboo.  All buttons on her clothes are made from tagua nuts (similar to coconuts), and her labels are delicately embroidered with the words I AM LOVE.

All designs are made in their factory in Vancouver, Canada, so fair and safe labor conditions are guaranteed.

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Check out more from NBD at Nicole’s website and let Peacekeeper know what you think!

With Love,

The PeaceKeeper Team

(Writer: Renee Estey.  Editor: Jessica Smith.  All images courtesy Nicole Bridger Designs.)

 

Are Progressive French Women As Liberated As We Think?

karina diaz

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Ah, France!  The land of endless chic, where gorgeous Parisian women stroll along the Seine, their Chanel 2.25 bags in one hand and a smoldering cigarette in the other.  The birthplace of such icons as Brigitte BardotCatherine Deneuve, and Audrey Tautou.  Surely, a country with such timeless, charming women must be as forward-thinking in its politics as in its fashion, n’est-ce pas?

To a certain extent, yes.  Women in France are educated and they are highly capable of providing for their families; eighty-two percent of women aged 25-49 are employed, while women make up 59% of university graduates.

The French government is incredibly conscientious when it comes to the family; last year alone, 97 billion euros were spent on family benefits alone.  Pregnant women receive ten half-hour sessions with a personal trainer to improve post-partum health—completely free of charge.  Mothers receive monthly allowances according to their number of their children (123 euros for 2, 282 euros for 3, and 158 for every child after).  Public preschool is free as well, and guaranteed when a child is three years of age.  The low cost of childcare means that even single mothers can balance their familial duties with their career aspirations.

However, despite all this aid, women have not been able to shake off the roles of their gender:  namely, as a wife and mother.  In a New York Times interview (“Where Having It All Doesn’t Mean Having Equality”, October 11), one woman stated that she and a friend, both mothers and part-time office workers, are the only two at their job who have not received a raise in the past two years.  Add this to the fact that French working mothers earn 26 percent less than their male counterparts—while spending twice as much time doing domestic duties as their husbands–and it becomes clear that all the free preschool and monthly allowances still aren’t giving women an easier time in the workplace.

As in the U.S., the French are finding that there is much more to be done in the struggle for gender equality.  However, the romanticized image of the gorgeous, intelligent, independent French woman has blinded much of the world to their social inequality.  We have to remember, regardless of where we live or who we are, that it is incredibly important for women to continue to prove their strength and to not give up the struggle.

Check out these links for more information on the struggle for gender equality in France:

WikiGender:  “Gender Equality in France”

Observatoire Des Inegalites (“Observing Inequality”) (translated with Google Translator)

NYTimes: “Where Having It All Doesn’t Mean You Have Equality” (Oct. 11, 2010.)

Les Papas = Les Mamans (“Fathers = Mothers”) (translated with Google Translator)

What is your opinion on the current gender norms in France?  Do you think that American laws (e.g.  the Paycheck Fairness Act)  would work as well in a European context?  How would you help a single French mother facing inequality at her job?  Leave a comment below!

With Love,

The PeaceKeeper Team

(Writer:  Renee Estey.  Editor: Jessica Smith.  Image of Audrey Tautou courtesyMaxine Turnock.  Statistics courtesy The New York Times.)