The answer is always LOVE (or sometimes, "42"!)

The answer is always LOVE (or sometimes, "42"!)
My philosophy is LOVEISM...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Awakening 360: 101

Awakening the Bay has now fully transformed into Awakening360 (we warned you!)--so what does that mean to YOU?!  It means now you can not only find like-minded people, conscious community, holistic practitioners, mind-body-spirit events and workshops in (or near) YOUR town (not just the Bay Area!), but you can connect to the larger global Awakening Community!   

So, we encourage holistic practioners and agents of change across the country to start posting their events, classes, workshops, as well as share your visual and audio arts, eco-wares, arts and crafts, and most importantly, knowledge and skills on Awakening 360 starting now—just in time to promote all your juicy activities for the new year!

We have a bouquet of new features which include:

A new user profile—go check out yours now!  We are no longer using the “friends” format, but “followers”, so that your friends and clients can “follow” your blog, your events, etc.

A new homepage page which is totally personalized, based on your location.   *And in the event that you travel, you can change the location to your desired destination!  And at the bottom of the page, it will show you what YOUR friends are up to.

Holistic Search!  Yes, now you can search for specific events and workshops, holistic services, articles, professional members in your neighborhood, and whatnot—no matter where you go!  (Phone apps coming soon!)

A new events platform!  You can now sign up and buy tickets to all posted holistic events, workshops, retreats, etc. through our website, using paypal!  (Think of a “holistic” eventbrite!)  And our site will automatically show you all events within a 50 mile radius of your location.

For Professional Members:  Check out our new directory, also localized!

A whole new community page:  You can follow friends, favorite teachers/healers, events, workshops, or if you prefer, follow the feed for the entire Awakening 360 community.

Coming Soon:  The MarketPlace (formerly known as Karma Deals)—here we will start featuring products and services from our Awakening 360 community professionals, artists, and holistic practitioners! 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Before the Occupy Movement, there was Awakening the Bay

Before the whole Occupy Movement manifested in the Bay Area, there was already a dedicated group of local professional holistic practitioners working to mainstream holistic living, loving/parenting, working, buying/consuming, and just being, as well as trying to promote local green and socially-responsible businesses, throughout the Bay Area, in a conscious effort to address the present (and future) socio-economic and environmental issues—meet Awakening the Bay.   

Awakening the Bay is an online local social network serving as a lifestyle guide, holistic marketplace, and community for “conscious people”, throughout the Bay Area (and beyond!), in order to nurture their holistic programs, workshops, events, businesses, and activities to become more economically, socially, and spiritually sustainable, as well as to inspire all who visit the site to live, work and love in a more holistic way.

In the past year, since its inception in early 2011, Awakening the Bay membership (which is free!) has gone up 500%!  It become the holistic “eventbrite” promoting and listing dozens of good-for-the-mind-body-spirit and nature events, classes, workshops, festivals, lectures, etc. throughout the Bay Area, while at the same time, creating an active, off-line community. 

In addition to becoming a holistic events hub and offering informative articles on all aspects of holistic living, Awakening the Bay also features Karma Deals—which are like Living Social deals, only Karma Deals are eco-friendly, socially-responsible products and services from LOCAL vendors and practitioners (thus strengthening our local economy!) 

Soon, Awakening the Bay will be offering iPhone apps which can help locals and visitors alike find holistic practitioners, services and green products throughout the Bay Area, by the touch of a phone screen. Awakening Bay’s big vision is to mainstream holistic living, working, and being by promoting and empowering local holistic practitioners, as well as educating all who visit the site on all the holistic options for individuals and families, in all aspects of their lives.


Are you an Awakener?






Monday, August 29, 2011

Kelly's answer to "What do you do?"


I have to admit whenever someone asks me, “What do you do?”-- I cringe because I do not have a simple answer, or a common noun to give them.  My answer requires a power point presentation and usually a glossary.  And it is always an American asking me this question, I might add—because the rest of the world finds this to be one of the rudest questions you could possibly ask a stranger….the East Africans even have a joke about it:  “How do Americans greet one another?”  Answer:  “What do you do?”

This joke makes Africans laugh so hard they snort, because it is the “cultural” equivalent of asking, “Do you like anal sex with a kudu?”  Anyway, to address what I am doing NOW, as opposed to my early 20’s, early 30’s, and even my most recent work in Costa Rica (Bien de Mujer and Wise Heart Books)…as always, it is a mixed bag of projects (some paid and some not)—but all with the common theme, my MISSION:  to change the world and have a GREAT time doing it!

So, when I am not writing articles about “Alternative Recreation” for both the SF and DC Examinerwhich covers non-mainstream edu-taining events/parties/activities; fundraisers for valuable causes (hopefully increasing awareness of certain issues); and mind-body-spirit recreation—I am working as the Awakening the Bay Community Manager—which means a lot of writing; attending holistic events/workshops/etc.; introducing/connecting people to Awakening the Bay—which is subversive-- in that it seeks to economically empower, connect and educate holistic practitioners and social entrepreneurial businesses/projects, but ultimately to convert everyone to better model of capitalism and more holistic living, working and just being. 

And this is not to mention, the several dozen other projects, on multiple continents, that I have my hands in... hoping that they will succeed because their contribution to the world is so valuable.   So, now ask yourself…what do you do? 

And better yet, “If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?”  If you are not doing your "dream job", then perhaps, this is exactly what you need to be looking at right now.  (Just a suggestion, my inner-hippie made me say that!)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Playing with your “spirdar” (Scientific Experiment #9867)


I am suggesting that just for one day, as an experiment, to follow your “spirdar” and see what happens.  I am confident someone more clever than I has thought of a better term for this phenomenon, but for the purposes of this exercise, I am going to call it your “spirdar.”  Yes, think Gaydar (the phenomenon of detecting the sexuality of another) --only this is some kind of internal system for detecting the presence, direction, or frequency of another spirit.  This exercise requires that you be fully present and aware of others around you, even on the bus or waiting in line, and see to whom your attention draws.

And for the sake of pseudo-scientific experimentation, you are supposed to initiate conversation with the person who has drawn your attention.  Because in my experience, and I highly suspect yours as well, you will be pleasantly surprised to find either a “bizarre”, inexplicable connection with that person, or that you have something they need (or vice versa, they have something you need.)  And yes, I am going to give you a lot of examples of my own experimentation playing with my “spirdar” the other day, but the point is to see if this phenomenon holds true for everyone (and I suspect it does.)

Some days we are more “aware” than others, and this past Sunday, I was feeling fully aware, so I thought I would test out my “spirdar”, as a “true” scientist.  My experiment started before I even got on the bus to ecstatic dance (Sweet’s/Mass Transit), when a homeless woman asked me for some money for she and her family. 

My universal policy on begging:  I will give away food (if I have some on me) but never money.  I told her, “No, sorry, I do not have any money, only exact change for the bus. “ Then, I combed my purse for any food items and all I had was a bag of blow-pops, which I was going to share with my ecstatic dance friends—I mean, who does not like blow-pops?!!!  She started to walk away.

“Did you say you have kids? Because all I got is some lollipops—not the healthiest choice, but who doesn’t like blow-pops?”

She gleamed, “Well, actually, I can use them because I am diabetic and when my blood sugar gets low…”  So we started talking about diabetes and about how the food bank rarely gives out sweets for diabetics, and while we are talking about food banks, they also pass out food that needs to be cooked, and if you are homeless, well, you have nothing to cook with! 

That’s funny, I KNOW someone who works at the Food Bank.  Note to self:  Make sure to tell Sasha that the Food Bank needs to be aware that giving out food items that need to be cooked to homeless people is not only not helping them, but frustrating for them—the food banks have to pass out ready-to-eat food stuffs and make sure they have emergency sweets in stock for diabetics.

I get to ecstatic dance at Sweet’s and the ballroom is packed, I mean PACKED, with well, ecstatic dancing people.  I find that, using my spirdar, grazing over the moving crowd, I can easily pick out my friends because they kind of “glowed”…oh, there is Joceyln, Catherine, Gail, etc.  While I am dancing, (well, really, I am doing Qi Gong to music), my attention keeps getting drawn to this one particular woman and I am thinking:  She is probably another FaceBook friend that I have had many conversations with, but never met in person—what is her name?

It just so happens this woman and I run into one another in the bathroom.  I ask her, “Have we met?  Are we FaceBook friends?”  No, we have never met and no, she is not a FaceBook friend, however, without a word from me, she starts to tell me she just finished her public health nursing degree and wants to work in Africa, Mali, to be specific.  Ahhh…there it is!  (I shouldn’t have to explain this connection!)

At circle time, I discover I am holding hands with Lisa, with whom I (forgot but) met at the last FEM Talks.  Ahh.. there it is.  Then on my way back home, an old woman asks me for directions to the Art and Soul Festival, I send her on her way and as she goes, she says, “You should go!”  But I did not follow my spirdar, instead I went home to wrestle with my computer for hours (in the end, I won the wrestling match but it was not pretty)…I should have listened to her, no doubt I would have had a much better time at the Art and Soul Festival.

I could give you a dozen other examples, but by now, I hope you get my point, and this will inspire you to “test” out your spirdar and see where it takes you!  And remember, to quote Kurt Vonnegut, “peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.” And from the Desiderata: “Listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story” because there may just be a message there for you. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

This is kinda on the DL…Awakening the Bay is going GLOBAL, get on board


This note is for all holistic practitioners, professionals, students, businesses, communities, organizations, groups, etc.—basically anyone working in the field of holistic living, in all its many flavors.

As you may already know, we launched Awakening the Bay, which is an online community-based, holistic network and open-source directory, earlier this year.  The BIG IDEA was to educate, enable and connect “conscious people” in order to nurture their holistic programs, workshops, events, businesses, and activities to become economically, socially, and spiritually sustainable, as well as to inspire all who visit our site to live, work and love in a more holistic way.

But then our peeps, down south, in Santa Cruz, asked, “Can we be considered part of the Bay Area?”  And our friends in Oregon whined: “Heeey, what about us?!”  And apparently there is some bizarre Bay Area cosmic connection to Costa Rica and Bali, and even India, as well.  And our neighbors to the north became vocal (“Ever heard of Vancouver?!!!”) Then of course, England and France…well, it just did not stop.  The message was clear:  “What about us over HERE?”  The bottom line is everyone is connected.

So yes, ATB is going global (soon we will be changing the name to reflect this) but we are already listing holistic practitioners, professionals, students, businesses, communities, organizations, groups, etc. in cities around the globe; it is no longer a “travel and tours” thing.  If you were to visit our Events and Workshopssection right now, you would find festivals in Oregon as well as events as far as the Orkney Islands (hint: Scotland.)

So NOW is the time to invite EVERYONE from Down Under to Norway to Mongolia as far south as South Africa to add their events/workshops/activities/classes/retreats etc. to our Eventsand Workshops Calendar (FOR FREE—just FREE dollars!) as well as list in our Holistic Directory (this costs $100 for a yearly listing in the Directory.) 

You can start promoting your IMPORTANT work NOW, for FREE—just create a profile page on our site (login—and you can do this via FaceBook) and make sure to put all your contact info, including websites, blogs, and other social media connections.  Then start adding activities directly to the site at http://www.awakeningthebay.com/addactivity  and you can also mention these events on our FaceBook page (this should be super easy to find on FB—“Awakening theBay”.) 

Also make use of the FREE community board for messages of any kind—sharing wisdom; need a ride; need someone to teach Watsu in Bali; whatever!

If you wish to be included in our Directory, contact our man Charlie Stebbins at charlie@awakeningthebay.com.

Anyway, this is an opportunity to market yourself, your important work, to your ideal audience, as well as others.  In a month’s time, according to the Google Analytics Gods, we have jumped 3,456% in visits to both our site and our FaceBook page (I do not even know how this figure is possible, but I trust the Google Analytics Gods.)

Join us – you grow; we grow; and ultimately THEY grow and then we all grow. (That's a lot of growing!)

Live your bliss,
Kelly N Patterson
ATB Community Manager 
kelly@awakeningthebay.com 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Attention travel writers, travel writer-wanna-be’s, and travel whores—Meet HearPlanet!



Question:  Who are you going to trust more, Lonely Planet’s opinion of a particular hostel in Budapest, or your good friend, Al’s opinion? 

Welcome to 2011, when travelers no longer need to lug around a 5-pound, outdated travel guide made of tree organs, just to decide where they are going to eat, sleep or visit next.  Meet HearPlanet: your geo-audio directory of the WORLD. 

Think Yelp meets National Geographic meets Pandora—all on your phone, on your GPS system, in your ears…think of how much room in your luggage you will save (not to mention the exorbitant cost of overweight luggage on your flights!)  You are free to travel and tour, at your own pace, in your own language, solo or with friends, whatever frosts your pumpkins….no longer part of the tourist caravan, and with insights about local hotspots, restaurants, hotels, parks, etc. from locals, friends and professional tour guides and agencies alike (whatever you prefer!) And of course, you are welcome and encouraged to add your own perspective on places as well!

Imagine the planet as one mammoth museum, and HearPlanet is your audio guide to everything!  And the best part?!  Well, a la wikipedia-style, this geo-directory, from your favorite watering hole to famous landmarks to entire cities, is written by people just like you (or if you prefer an “expert” opinion, there are expert travel and tour channels such as America YouthHostels Channel and other big names in the travel industry.)

Of course the best way to really grasp this whole concept is to check it out for yourself.  HearPlanet is ALWAYS seeking more content and for travel writers, history buffs, writer-wanna-be’s, and travel whores, this is the perfect opportunity to share your knowledge and experience with the world (as well as add to your writing resume!)

Essentially, in tech-speak, HearPlanet’s platform aggregates and organizes location-based information on points of interest, including landmarks, restaurants, hotels, and recreation spots, and delivers it to people, on-the-go via their mobile devices, and this is your opportunity to be part of the audio travel guide revolution.  It is not just your “story” but literally, your “voice!”

To sample current HearPlanet material, to contribute, and all just click here.  Know that submittingcontent is user-friendly (if I can figure it out, and I am blonde-- you sure as hell can!) and recording your own voice is all part of the submission process and can be done from your laptop, and then broadcast to the world!

Questions?  Feel free to contact me at kelly@hearplanet.com, because I am the new HearPlanet “Ambassador-at-Large”    


Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Get Goofy Movement (a brain-fart by Kelly N Patterson)



For those people that know me, they know I get immense pleasure on being goofy in public; my mantra:  “I will never see these people again!” (NOTE:  Not exactly true, but neither are most things labeled as “organic”.) 

And through my very un-official, un-scientific experiments, in several countries: ranging from the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa to NE Asia (yes, even China); throughout Central America and the Caribbean, as well as all over the States, I have discovered that 95% of the time (yes, there is always THAT guy, or gal, who has no sense of humor and is REALLY that miserable) my goofy antics, not only give me a instant dose of joy, energy, and general warm-fuzzy feelings, but I also watch my “prey” literally transform right in front of me—and usually, even start spreading their own goofiness. 

Simple example:  Walking down the street, I pass a visibly stressed-out Mom with her unhappy child—so, I cross my eyes at the kid (with a goofy smile) and the kid instantly starts laughing.  Mother says, “What is so funny?” 

The child responds, “She just did this (and crosses her eyes and makes a goofy smile.)”  Well, the mother laughs at her daughter.  In this second, already 3 people are feeling better—myself, the child, and the mother…and who knows how this may have changed the entire tone of their day.

Laughing deeply is living deeply (stolen from Milan Kundera.)  And laughter, next to math, is an international language.  Therefore, I am hoping to start a Goofy Pandemic--changing the world, one chuckle, giggle, snort at a time.

Therefore, the mission of the Get Goofy Movement is to spread general goofiness, giggles, smiles, and laughter-- to EVERYONE we meet; everyone we pass by on the streets (just cross your eyes or pick your nose!  It is that simple! (NOTE: In some cultures, nose picking is socially acceptable/normal, so this will not work) but everyone we sit next to on the metro; while sitting in traffic; and especially, when we are waiting in a long, long line or any other uncomfortable situation. 

Besides being good for the heart, body, mind, and soul (do your homework, there has been several dozens of scientific studies to confirm this!), Humor has the ability to disarm people instantly, ignite conversations, and well, it is just fun. 
In addition, as soon as we can laugh at something, we no longer fear it--and though we may not be able to achieve world peace and solve all of the world's issues in an instant (or even a few lifetimes)--we do have the power to make someone laugh, which is instant joy and therapy for all involved, and like Herpes, highly contagious (in a good way!)

 So start today.  Make someone laugh (or smile) and see how you feel afterwards, and then notice how they react, because people are taking things way too seriously for our own personal well-being, not to mention the well-being of the planet.

Just imagine if everyone, everywhere you went, were practicing Goofiness on a regular basis?!!!  This would make running errands an adventure!  This would make your morning commute to work more pleasant (perhaps, reducing Road Rage!)  This would transform normally unpleasant experiences such as traffic, waiting in a long line at the Department of Motor Vehicles, sitting in a doctor’s office, poor customer service, or a car breakdown on the side of the road, during rush hour traffic, bearable!  And if everyone got goofy, then on those days, when you are having a “rough” day, you could count on someone, a complete stranger, to make you chuckle.

Therefore, I have started a FaceBook Fanpage.  I am hoping people will share ideas, plans, post photos and whatnot, inspiring others to GET GOOFY.  And let’s just see what happens…I mean, historically, we have tried everything, right?  Bloody revolutions, civil disobedience (thanks Gandhi and MLK, Jr!!!!), letter campaigns (a la Amnesty International), media propaganda (umm, the US is the MASTER of this!), graffiti (thanks Banksy!), martyrdom (ouch!), to mass prayer and whatnot…but have we ever tried by LAUGHTER?!!!!! I mean, why else would we have the ability to laugh if it did not serve some evolutionary or biological function?!!!

Anyway, start now.  Start today.  Visit the FaceBook page and share your experiences, share your brilliant goofy ideas…and most important of all, get goofy at home. 

(Sorry, my inner-Hippie made me do this!!

Kelly N Patterson

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Kelly's got a new hat; the new Community Manager for Awakening the Bay, holistic network


Recently, I have been invited to serve Awakening the Bay as “Community Manager.”  I am super excited about this new role because I am a huge fan of Awakening the Bay because it is a community-based, holistic network which seeks to not only promote the talents, skills and knowledge of Bay Area holistic practitioners, multi-discipline therapists, artists, musicians, yogi’s, and the like, but also promote all the amazing local (and even international) events, workshops, classes, lectures, and so on, while at the same time, educating the public in general!  Happy Birthday!

And since Awakening the Bay is community-generated content, you are encouraged to promote your event/workshop/play/drum circle/puja/YOURSELF/whatever FREELY (and know we have a professional editor to “clean up” your piece, if you are not a natural writer!) 

In addition to providing listings of enlightened Bay Area events and such, you are encouraged to submit informative articles as well!  This is an excellent opportunity to educate others about Watsu; Tantra; why breath-work is so important; the value of raw food; the difference between Hatha and Iyengar yoga; etc., we especially need “How To” pieces—how to set up urban permaculture; how to build a yurt; healthy recipes; whatever as long as it is in alignment with holistic living, loving and work.  The perk to this, for you, is FREE exposure for yourself or business, as well as adding credibility to your good work.

And once you have been published on Awakening the Bay, you can post the link to your event or article on your Twitter, FaceBook page, blog, website, etc.  This is electronic “cross-pollination”!   And for those writer-wanna-be’s out there (I know there are many!), this is an excellent venue to showcase your work, meaning your articles on Awakening the Bay can bolster your writing resume. 

And know that Awakening the Bay is not limited to the Bay Area (eventually, we will have Awakening LaLa Land –aka, LA, Awakening the Big Apple, aka, NYC, etc.) but this is just the first model!  And since we have Travel and Tours section, you can promote your retreats/classes and workshops all over the world—in Bali, in Hawaii, in Costa Rica, etc. 

So if I tagged you in this note, know that I KNOW you are perfect for this site and you can write!  So I hope to see both your events/workshops/parties/etc. and hopefully, an article or two from you in the near future!

So, if you have not already, please check out the website and give us a “like” on our new FaceBook page.  I am confident this holistic network is a huge asset to our community, as well as a tool for positive change in the world!






Friday, May 20, 2011

The “Ideal Wednesday Exercise”—a profound self-discovery tool

by Kelly N Patterson (by the way, this piece was just picked up by Awakening the Bay, holistic network!)


The Ideal Wednesday Exercise works on several levels.  Firstly, it works as a visualization technique, which some people (from professional athletes and business leaders to hippies) believe is the first, critical step to actualization of any goal.  From a psychological perspective, this exercise SHOWS you what and who you value in your life-- what you want in your daily life, on a regular basis.  This exercise stimulates the imagination as well as serves as a blue-print and thus, direction in your relationships, family, friends, work, and spiritual life (whatever that means to you.)

You will need a pen and paper (or your computer) and what you need to do is IMAGINE (without any restrictions on time, money, current relationship status, work, current health issues, etc.) your Ideal Wednesday (middle of your work week, assuming your work week is a Monday to Friday thing.)  This is not a “weekend fantasy” trip on a sailboat, with Playboy models massing your feet and feeding you grapes, off the coast of Tahiti—this is your ideal ORDINARY Wednesday.

And you want to be as detailed as possible!  Start at the beginning of your day…how do you wake up?  Is it the sound of waves crashing on the shore? A child (even if you do not have one right now) poking you in the face? A dog licking your face?  Morning nookie from your partner? The sound of a howler monkey? 

What does your bed look like?  Were you sleeping in the nude, or in satin pajamas?  What is the first thing you do when you get up?  Wake up sex?  Yoga?   Bowel movement in your luxurious bath room (describe bathroom in great detail) or perhaps, you brush your teeth, with Dr. Bronner’s, in a creek outside your bamboo house?  What do you eat for breakfast?  Organic granola bought from your friends, or Lucky Charms?  Or is your partner making you eggs, bacon, toast, and all?

Who is sharing breakfast with you?  And even if you do not currently have a partner, you need to imagine your ideal partner—his/her qualities:  physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual.  For example, my partner always happens to look like Benecio del Toro (he just does it for me, no apologies) but physical attributes are not really important to me.  It my ideal partner’s personality, intelligence, lust for life, passion for his work, sense of humor, etc. that I highlight in my Ideal Wednesday.

Go through your whole Wednesday.  From reading the paper (which paper?) or listening to NPR on your way to work.  How do you get to work?  Public transport? In your Prius? By boat? By camel?  Stay at home?  Describe every room, in great detail—is there a library?  Entertainment center?  Pets? Gardens?  Pool? Bar?  Zen rock garden? Whatever you want!

Go through your whole day…from work, to after work-- taking the kids to soccer and karate, or going to a poetry reading at a local café to going to the gym-- whatever works for you, but describing everything along the way in as much detail as possible.  Then finally end your day, as you began, going back to bed.

Keep this exercise and look at it from time to time, because this exercise shows you what and who you value most in your life (on a daily basis) and can help you make decisions in life/work/relationships that will lead to the manifestation of this vision.  For every decision, you can ask yourself, “Does this bring me closer to my Ideal Wednesday?” 

And if you follow this line of questioning, saying “YES!” to decisions that bring you closer to your Ideal Wednesday, I know you will be surprised, possibly shocked, to look back one day-- maybe in a year, maybe in three-- and see just how much of your Ideal Wednesday you are actually living!

Just try it.  Not only is this a fun, insightful exercise for yourself, but you can ask your current (or future) partner to try it as well, and compare--to see if you share a similar vision.  It reveals more about yourself (and your partner) than a dozen coffee dates.



Friday, May 13, 2011

How do you teach modern sciences to people who have never even seen a light bulb?

Kaye and Miriam just did not know what to do with my hair!
By Kelly N Patterson

Dinner by candle light (or kerosene lanterns) is not romantic when you have no electricity!
This question was posed to me almost, and I say almost, two decades ago, when I originally arrived to Tanzania. Me: very young (as a matter of fact, my supervisors forbid me from telling anyone, especially my students and local leaders, my true age, for fear I would lose any credibility and all respect in a culture that honors its elders)—it was bad enough that I was a chalk-asian, American WOMAN. I realize now (chuckle to self) I was also very naïve, with a full bout of Save-The-World Syndrome (no worries, I am mostly cured now, with a few occasional relapses.)

"This is your laboratory, Miss Patterson"
The brilliant idea was to raise science and math testing scores/education levels throughout very, very rural Tanzania and bring it up to par with science and math levels in the urban areas like Dar es Salaam, Arusha, etc. However, where do you start to teach people who have never experienced (much less SEEN) electricity; have no indoor plumbing; and have no idea what a computer is?!
I used to bathe in the river until I discovered the cows were crossing upstream.

Commonly called “applied sciences”, I refer to it as teaching “science in metaphor”-- using well, mostly agricultural terms and natural processes; most of my classes took place in the middle of corn fields. So my first “job” was to train local Tanzanian science teachers how to teach applied sciences out “in the bush.” However, following a month of science-teacher training sessions, then, later, during the six-month monitoring and evaluation part of our program, my beloved teachers, now friends, started dying on me.
One of the 22 weddings I went to while living in Tanzania--being the only mzungu for 500km has its benefits!

Back then, early 1990’s, they were calling it “African Swine Fever” and it seemed to be sweeping through villages: not only killing my teachers, but killing doctors, nurses, local leaders, police, basically, the educated and wealthy, as well as the poor and uneducated. I mean, there are a million creative ways to die in Africa, but this was literally wiping out everybody: not just the poor, the rural, but also in the cities and among the educated, wealthy, and generally healthy populations.
Bamboo juice is some kind of narcotic which acts like an anesthesia; first time I tried it, I had to be carried home because I could not feel my legs!


I was one of the first nut-balls to say out loud, in public, “Hey, this looks like the same disease our gay boys are dying of in the States.” (Surprisingly, they let me live.) Yes, it did turn out to be an HIV and AIDS epidemic I was witnessing first hand, up close, and it took Africa a long time to accept that this was actually HIV (and not African Swine Fever, or some European master-plot to wipe out the races—even though I am sure there are still parties who believe this!) because at the time, HIV was considered the disease (and a “punishment”) of gay European/American males, drug users, and prostitutes. How wrong we all were….
In Zanzibar, when I complimented the women on their henna tattoos, they insisted giving me one--and this was well before the hippies and Madonna got the idea!

Recently, I digitalized some old photos of my year long stay in Tanzania—I wish I could have captured some of my unforgettable moments there: the mudslide hitting our bus; making an ass of myself in front of Jane Goodall; having Cape Buffalo charge and total our vehicle (well, actually, the vehicle belonged to the British government); my whole “Rwanda refugees” experience; my first experience with Witch Doctors (note: I am a believer!); malaria (not once, but twice!); my National Geographic visit to Zanzibar; and all the wonderful people I met and worked with, especially those that have passed away.

I know Tanzania, and the Mhehe people, in particular, influenced me, probably, second only to my parents. To this day, I regard Tanzanians as among the friendliest, most peaceful, most generous people in the world, and they have a wicked sense of humor—for example, just know that the word for “foreigner” (mzungu) actually means, “One who walks in circles.”

Bus break-down #678
The Tanzanians taught me how to live simply, joyfully with little; how to make a wedding party last 3 days; how mourning should really look (like angry/sad wailing for days); how to find humor in absolutely everything life throws at you; how to be patient (how to wait 7 hours for a bus gracefully); how to share anything and everything you have; how to take care of others (even if they are strangers); and to steal from a Swahili proverb: “Greet every stranger because one day you will be a stranger.”

Asante sana.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

What's up with Bien de Mujer? Checking in with Kelly's work in Costa Rica

Last Saturday, Bien de Mujer staff and 17 women from Granos Solidarios traveled all the way to Casa del Sol in Guanacaste (a 4-hour drive) to learn how to cook with solar panels. The women sang the whole drive there!




Casa del Sol is an eco-tourism project of Sol Verde—a cooperative formed with the support of Sol de Vida and the Central American Solar Energy Project—which represents 15 local community groups, presents the annual “Fiesta del Sol” event, and operates a small solar restaurant with “delicious home cooking.” Sol Verde is headquartered in the Casa del Sol, which houses a permanent demonstration facility for solar applications with emphasis on solar cookers.

Operating in the Santa Cruz and Nicoya counties of the Guanacaste region, Fundación Sol de Vida takes a holistic approach to expanding the use of renewable energy. The proj¬ect not only promotes the use of solar power for cooking, but also seeks to build women’s capacity for other development activities through the process of constructing and using solar cookers. Therefore, our group of women was warmly welcomed by the Casa del Sol head of staff, Fatima, and several other local volunteers.

In addition to learning about solar cooking, our group participated in guided tour of their resource center. They learned about different mod¬els of solar cookers, about solar water pumps, were shown solar heaters and solar dryers, as well as photovoltaic panels for lighting—all the different ways solar energy can be used to make their lives easier and cheaper! They were guided through organic gardens; given priceless healthy growing, eating and cooking tips, and eventually, prepared their own meal, using a solar panel!

Casa de Sol even donated one solar panel cooking structure to Granos Solidarios, to be used at our women and children’s center in La Caprio. It was a beautiful day, on many levels, and we are grateful to the everyone at Sol de Vida and Casa del Sol who made this an informative, fun and unforgettable experience!

For more information about this project please visit here! And for more photos of our day at Casa del Sol, visit our FaceBook page!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cup of Hope by Kelly N Patterson

I wrote a short film, “Cup of Hope”, with the intention of “mainstreaming” HIV.  I would like to share this 8-minute film with you, with hope, it may be used as a tool for public education and debate. 

Film title: “Cup of Hope”
Written by: Kelly N. Patterson

Originally a one-act play, “Cup of Hope”, I re-wrote as a short-film screenplay.  Rockland Productions produced and performed my one-act play, “Cup of Hope”, at several theatre festivals in Los Angeles of summer 2006.  We made a production of the film in Atlanta, in May of 2007, for less than $10K—thanks to the generosity of Inman Perk Café and Coffeehouse (Atlanta location), volunteer professional actors (some personal friends of mine!) and crew, and a private donation from the producer, Philip Cope. 

“Cup of Hope” is 8 minutes. 

Log-line:  White, “Gap” American, HIV+ woman decides to disclose her HIV status to a potential lover in a coffee shop.  Best case and worst case scenario’s with surprise ending!

Intention:  Back in the 80’s, the “usual AIDS suspects” were gay males, heroin junkies, sex workers, and hemophiliacs.  Today, when you say “AIDS”—people assume black, poor, uneducated, “third-worldly”, “Africa”…but the truth is that is EVERYWHERE, EVERYBODY.  I think the world needs to see white/Caucasian “Gap”/”Old Navy” educated people living with HIV/AIDS. This is my attempt to mainstream HIV.

The reality is that no HIV prevention campaign is going to work until the stigma and discrimination of HIV is eradicated.  Not until people can disclose their HIV safely, confidently, to loved ones, neighbors and employers, and get the concern, care and practical support they need, will people openly get tested, adhere to their treatments, and openly protect themselves and others from HIV transmission.  Again, I hope this film will be used as a tool for public education and debate.  


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The medical marijuana movement is on a roll!


Kelly N Patterson


Grab your rolling papers, because marijuana may be coming to a clinic near you, sooner than you think!  To catch you up, starting with some of last year’s breakthrough successes in the enlightened marijuana movement:  New Jersey and Arizona joined 13 other sensible states in passing laws to legalize medical marijuana; 5 medical marijuana dispensaries will be opening in the nation’s Capitol this year (Yahoo! I would much prefer MY mayor smoking pot than crack!); 3 marijuana-friendly governors were recently elected in Hawaii, Connecticut and Vermont; new local initiatives in Wisconsin and Massachusetts have put medical marijuana on the legislative table; after much court-room drama, California improved their archaic decriminalization laws for minor marijuana possession; and even the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs acknowledged marijuana's therapeutic value in their latest policy.  But wait, there’s more! 

2011 is only 4 months old, and already this year, every member of Seattle legislative delegation to Olympia—all ten representatives and all five senators from the 34th, 36th, 37th, 43rd, and 46th Districts—has gone on the record to say that they support taxing, regulating, and legalizing marijuana.  On March 3, Rhode Island State Representatives Edith Ajello, Christopher Blazejewski, Peter Martin, Larry Valencia, and Donna Walsh introduced HB 5591, a bill that would tax and regulate the sale and distribution of marijuana within Rhode Island.  And this year, both Delaware and Illinois will have medical marijuana laws on voters’ tables.

To add to our 2011 buzz, See Change Strategy, an independent research firm, released (the first-ever) financial analysis of the legal medical cannabis industry in the U.S. on March 23.  This report, based on interviews with more than 300 industry leaders, projected the total legal medical cannabis market at $1.7 billion in 2011.  Stop!  Let that sink in:  $1.7 BILLION just in 2011 alone. 

Needless to say, this eye-brow raising report made mainstream news:  from the Wall Street Journal to The Huffington Post, and was even mentioned in the monologues of mega-popular late night hosts, Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno.  Yes, money talks!  Our economy, not to mention our health care system, could really use some of that money.

So in addition to mainstream America watching the marijuana debate on both CBSNews and ABCNews, the National Cannabis Industry Association, the first national organization dedicated to advancing the interests of cannabis-related businesses, held a pow-wow at the National Press Club, Capitol Hill, on March 30, with the See Change Strategy people and Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) to discuss the federal legislative needs of the industry—critical, especially, for the hundreds of small businesses and thousands of employees in the industry.

All of this recent activity both on Capitol Hill and on American television sets confirms the 2010 Gallup poll that 46% of U.S. adults support making marijuana legal (an all-time record level of support!) And just so you know, statistically, support for  legalizing medical marijuana has been increasing by 1.5% to 2% annually, especially among Generation Y, so we should be looking at majority support, nationwide, in as soon as 2013 easy! 

I had a Pulitzer-prize winning, tear-inducing, heart-clutching, march to the Capitol conclusion to this piece but then, well…I got high.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Earn money and support children's educational programs as a Wise Friend!

Wise Heart Books is actively seeking “Wise Friends” to independently sell our value-based books:  Earn money, while at the same time, supporting the Women’s Wellbeing and Development Foundation children’s educational programs.  NOTE:  In the vein of Hair Club for Men, I don’t just work for Wise Heart Books, I am a member! (I am already a Wise Friend, myself.)

A little background:

Wise Heart Books is a socially conscious company designed by educators, parents, and artists to create books and educational materials that nurture the whole child: body, mind and spirit. Each book contains an important message for children, such as building a strong and healthy body or cultivating positive thoughts and habits, or developing love for oneself and the world around them.

Wise Friends are our special Wise Heart Books representatives, introducing our value-based books and our holistic mind-body-spirit philosophy to family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, and their local communities, while earning money at the same time. This is a grassroots, stress-free, fun way to earn some extra income for you and your family, selling life-enhancing books and educational materials.

Wise Friends can easily earn commissions from 20-40% of retail value-- all while working at home, when it is most convenient for you and your family.  Wise Heart Books can be sold online; at local community events; at local religious institutions and schools; at a local farmer’s market; via local businesses; or even at a neighborhood party—we are calling them “Wise Reading Parties.”

Wise Heart Books provides Wise Friends with practical, effective online and traditional marketing resources, tools, and support to assist you every step of the way. And yes, it is free to become a Wise Friend—there is no start-up investment cost.  In theory, you could sign up today—announce it on your FaceBook today; sell some books today; and start making some commissions today!

For all the details, please visit our site http://wiseheartbooks.com/ and click on “Join Wise Friends and earn!”  Then read through the Wise Friends 101 and you will get how it works and will also see all the ways you can market these books online and/or old skool, at your convenience.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at info@wiseheartbooks.com   And even if you are not interested in becoming a Wise Friend, but decide to buy one of our books, know that my code is 1201!  And of course, please pass this onto anyone you think might be interested!

Thanks, I am hoping this is a win-win-win situation for everyone—you, the nonprofit I serve-- Bien de Mujer/ the Women’s Wellbeing and Development Foundation, and all the children who benefit from our programs.

Thank you for all your time and consideration,
Kelly N Patterson

Friday, March 4, 2011

Preparing for the launch of Wise Heart Books’ Wise Friend Program


Over the past few weeks, I have been working with the good folks at Wise Heart Books to engineer, compose and implement what we are calling our “Wise Friends” program.  We are simultaneously about to launch a series of value-driven children’s books (first in English, Español el próximo mes que viene! ) known as Wise Heart Books, as an income-generation tool for women, and simultaneously, to generate funds for our women and children’s community and education center in La Carpio, the slums of San Jose, Costa Rica.  (For more information about our work in La Carpio, visit here.)

Wise Heart Books is a socially conscious company designed by educators, parents, and artists to create books and educational materials that nurture the whole child: body, mind and spirit. Each book contains an important message for children, such as building a strong and healthy body or cultivating positive thoughts and habits, or developing love for oneself and the world around them.

The idea is that women “join” or sign-up as a “Wise Friend” (it is free!); Wise Friends are our special Wise Heart Books representatives, introducing our value-based books and our holistic mind-body-spirit philosophy to family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, and their local communities, while earning money at the same time. This is a grassroots, stress-free, fun way to earn some extra income for a woman and her family, selling life-enhancing books and educational materials. 

Wise Friends can easily earn commissions from 20-40% of retail value-- all while working at home, when it is most convenient for them and their family.  Wise Heart Books can be sold online; at local community events; at local religious institutions and schools; at a local farmer’s market; via local businesses; or even at a neighborhood party—we are calling them “Wise Reading Parties.”

Thus, I have spent the last few weeks putting together a comprehensive but simple, user-friendly training manual which covers everything from making a business plan 101 to hosting a “Wise Reading Party” to online marketing 101 to help women get their businesses up and started.  And of course, these tools can be used for any business.

All sales of Wise Heart Books go directly to the Wise Friend who facilitates the sale, and to support children’s holistic educational projects around the globe by The Women’s Wellbeing and Development Foundation. 

If you would like to learn more, or become a Wise Friend, please visit: http://wiseheartbooks.com/friends.html





Tuesday, February 22, 2011

So what do you write?


 Everyone asks me this question.  My answer?

“I write about whatever interests me; whatever makes me giggle or cheer; whatever disgusts me or befuddles me.  I write about topics I am passionate about, and every once and a while, I try to draw attention to an issue that I think needs some more public contemplation.”

Here’s the story:  I am former Reuters Health and Sciences Reporter (Sub-Saharan Africa division.)  Yeah, ever heard of AIDS in Africa?!!  Well, then, you already know my work; but please do not hold this against me—ask anyone at Reuters, I went AWOL.  

I was also one of the original (read: paid, regular) writers for Sodahead.com, but as it turns out, I was too “liberal” and “cerebral” for the audience they ended up attracting.  Sodahead.com readers and users preferred to read about Brittney Spear’s latest nail polish for dogs, or question clichés like “Does size really matter?”, rather than appreciate the irony of Obama nominating a former pesticide lobbyist, Islam Siddiqui, to be Chief Agriculture Negotiator, or read my praise for Sherman’s Travel taking on the Gay Love Boat advert campaign.

To demonstrate the breadth of my writing style and tone, not to mention topics, I have put together a little Kelly montage:

 Damn you environmentalists!  Now I have to re-plan my funeral! 

 
 Men, are you a perpetrator of bad sex?

Tanzania: This Bus Departs at Nine O’Clock

Pass the peace pipe!  November is National Native American Heritage Month 

Running away to Egypt (at Age 9)
 
 A Tale of Two Beaches: Playa Pelada and Playa Guiones
 
Interpreter, please!
 
What to do when you only have 365 days left (a monthly planner)

For a whole collection of personal narratives and even some bad poetry:
http://www.writerscafe.org/Kellykarma

And here is another interesting fact:  I have been the Alternative Recreation Reporter for the San Francisco Examiner for 2 years now.  Therefore, I already have a huge following of hippies, Burners, Eco-heads, Rainbow Family members, Indigo Children, artists, Tantra teachers, yogis, and other various sub-cultures: 

Anyway, on to my vital stats:

Current Work: Part-time Communications and Development Coordinator of  Women’s Wellbeing and Development Foundation, Costa Rica (http://www.wwd-f.org/index.html) and Marketing Coordinator for Wise Heart Books (http://wiseheartbooks.com/ )

Current Blogs and Social Media Networks:
FACE BOOK: Kelly N Patterson

Friday, January 14, 2011

Women's Wellbeing and Development Foundation/Bien de Mujer’s Annual Children’s Christmas Party




We could not have asked for better weather conditions on Tuesday, DEC 19—sunny and warm, our first blessing of the day—perfect for our Annual Children’s Christmas Party at the Centro de Recreo UNA, located in Barrio Santa Luiza, near Heredia.  As early as 7 AM, volunteers (our second blessing!) began to trickle into our house and load up 4 vehicles, including two trucks donated by Himalaya Aryuveda Distributors, worth of donated gifts, food, decorations (thank you, Haley Cooney!), and about 8 volunteers.  Again, so many blessings!

Over 160 children, and their mothers, arrived on 3 festive buses from La Carpio (the slums of San Jose, Costa Rica) just shy of 9 AM.  Several group games, a mini-moon bounce, and a huge inflatable slide, with a side of cookie and juice snacks, were ready for the onslaught of excited (this is a gross understatement!) kids.   The children were divided into two groups—half went to participate in outdoor group games and the playground first, while the other half went to the pool! 

Gratefully, several other volunteers joined us later in the morning, including Craig and Agnes Lamb, and our “official” party-photographer, Ellen Lazare.  While the kids were playing and mothers cooking lunch, we set up the “sala” for the afternoon Christmas Music Show (a beautiful performance by students of the University of Costa Rica orchestra); for Santa’s visit; and of course-- the distribution of gifts!  While the children were swimming in the pools, flopping around on large inflatable things, or playing fooz-ball and ping pong in the recreation room, the mothers prepared and served a lunch picnic of arroz con pollo and juice.

After lunch, everyone gathered in the sala for a sing-a-long Christmas music concert and the much-anticipated visit from Santa, with two of his helpers.  During the concert, ice cream and cake were served.  A special little birthday cake was made for Fabiola who just happened to turn 15 yesterday!  Then the madness began… as Santa handed out over 170 gifts to each child!  Each present was individually wrapped and addressed to each child.  CHAOS! 

The party ended about 3 pm—each child armed with a gift, a little snack bag of candy and fruit, and a HUGE smile on his or her face.  Just so you know, the children were truly grateful—endless “Gracias” and lots of hugs, even tears both from kids and mothers in gratitude.  It was truly a special day, not just for the kids and their mothers, but for us as well.  This is what love looks like.

A heart-felt thank you to everyone (and there are many!) who contributed in some way to this very memorable event.   

Kelly N Patterson