Monday, January 12, 2015

Be the Change You Wish to See in the World. Join the movement; Empower it Forward

I am happy to share Brian's latest passion here on the blog. I did a write up for this campaign which was featured on CCN last week. Here is what I shared:

"In this age of globalism and corporate over control, what can an individual do to create sustainability and prosper in their own lives? Massive Commercial influence invades small communities, buying out the local cottage industry producers, which has the effect of squashing any diversity of choice within the local markets. For the small time producer these giants of industry represent the Goliath of our modern world; but there is hope. 
Nearly every product, service or resource we have come to use in our lives, originated as a result of an empowered individual or group whom had the network and knowledge at their disposal to realize their dream. Creative and Inspired people the world over have changed the landscape of our civilization by following their dream, seeking the knowledge and skills to empower themselves, and most importantly, were supported by others who found value in their vision; a support network and a truly co-creative relationship. 
Nothing in Nature can exist without relationship. The honey bee buzzes from flower to flower, drinking nectar which was produced by plants, whom produced drop after life giving drop from the sun and the earth, filled with micro-organisms, and bacteria; a community working together at each step. To the observer, there is a fundamental principle revealed bolstering the creation of everything we have come to love about life; interconnectedness or unity. 
9 Gifts of Gaia acknowledges this key aspect to creative empowerment, whereby a community of beings offers support to the individual, using the tools of our modern age to support them. True knowledge, of self and the world, empowers the individual with skills – opposed to memorized facts – all successes are a result of talents realized and developed within the individual supported by others. This counter movement to corporate globalization is one of many novel platforms ripe for transforming our impoverished and unhealthy planet, back into the harmony of nature it was meant to be. 
Imagine a world where each individuals unique gifts and talents are nurtured and supported by a global community of conscious people who realize sustainability comes from true knowledge imparted and developed within each person. Imagine a world where the dreams of an artist, engineer, or inventor are not squashed by corporate over control, but enriched and encouraged. Empower it Forward is a campaign which intends to do just that. 
50% of Earths population (over 3.5 Billion people) fall below the poverty line. A lack of money, resources and most importantly knowledge of how their talents and passions can be developed pervades all nations and cultures. Knowledge can lead to power, once it is realized within, and is supported by those who understand each individual is an endless wealth of creative potential. 
The Empower it Forward campaign is one Paradigm shifting model which acknowledges the reality of our interconnectedness with all things. Finding entrepreneurs, artisans, and people who are brave enough to realize their dream is the first link in a global chain. As consumers, our choices have a huge impact; what we spend our money and time on literally shapes the world we live in. 
By showcasing the local cottage industry producers, using the tools of globalization to empower opposed to suppress, 9 Gifts of Gaia, will provide a complete cycle of production, distribution and market options directly to those consumers who have the most impact in transforming the existing Paradigm. By supporting the individual with our purchases, we make a tangible vote for change. 
Whether you are the struggling artist, or the interested consumer, our choices really do matter, and when done in a way which fosters empowerment, we all can benefit. In this age of information, dependency on a Paradigm which destroys the planet and impoverishes the individual, can only be maintained by continued ignorance of our impact on the world at large. Let us now make a choice to empower all people the world over, working together to help heal the planet and rediscover the hidden gems of creative potential each of us has waiting in the wings. 
We can do it, one step, one person, one mind, one moment at a time.
- Justin

Source - Indiegogo

We believe in the power of community and have seen first hand how it connects and empowers people from all walks of life. The #empoweritforward project grew out of a simple desire to take an active stand against all forms of human suffering, by putting focus on Empowering each other, no matter what the circumstances. When we do so, we fill each other with up with new levels of hope, confidence,  joy and a renewed positive outlook on life, providing ample amounts of fuel, ripe for Empowering our individual & collective creative Spirit. 

Empowerment comes in many forms. A good deed. A random act of kindness. The sharing of wisdom. A hug or a smile. It doesn't take much to Empower another. This project, by 9 Gifts of Gaia, is aimed at connecting people & communities around the world and impacting lives through the most simple act of Love; Empowerment. 

If you 1) share this Indiegogo campaign on any social media with the #empoweritforward hashtag and 2) shoot us an email with a screenshot or a link of where you shared it, we will not only enter you into a raffle for a free chance to win lots of Empowering prizes & perks throughout the campaign. We will also send you a free PDF digital download (as well as customized .jpg for social sharing) of our custom Empower It Forward cards!
Start spreading the message of unity & hope by Empowering others today!

Artisans from around the world (many living in rural communities) don't have the means to sell their work on the international market. We hope to give them a platform to do this, and reach customers on a global scale. Within a few days of launching this campaign (using my own funds), I will be making a move from Morocco to Bali, Indonesia. Aside from low costs of living combined with local access to cheap organic materials for t-shirts and apparel, it is also home to some of the most skilled and talented artisans in the world. 
By helping us reach our goal of $9,999 you will take part in the launch of a project that will touch the lives of many, while creating awareness, and empowering men & women through entrepreneurial development. This goal will also allow us to buy materials, cover purchasing costs, shipping, marketing and promotions. Above all we hope to connect communities through Empowerment by growing new partnerships that will create even greater opportunities for rural artisans. If we don’t reach our entire goal, the funds raised for the Empower it Forward Project will still go directly toward production, marketing, and shipping of our various offerings, simply on a smaller scale. 

February: Poverty Eradication Initiative (Kiva)
We believe All human beings are born with unlimited potential, unlimited capacity & unlimited creativity. EVERYONE is a creator. One of the greatest challenges, however, is that poverty stunts creativity. How can people be Empowered to create freely when 50% of the planet lives below the poverty line?
The solutions to the world's greatest social issues will not come from governments or political leaders. They will come from people.
People just like the ones seen in the following video from Kiva, our first of many cause partnerships:
Kiva is a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.
Access to financial solutions empowers people living in poverty to transform their lives, their children's futures and their communities. 

Our Empower It Forward plan with Kiva: As loans are paid back, they are then re-distributed back out, further extending the reach and potential of each loan made, Empowering the lives of not one, but many entrepreneurs who need the support. 

"Desolenator will provide families with the ability to turn salt water and contaminated water into pure drinking water. The technology has the potential to provide water independence for up to a billion people living in coastal and water stressed areas - using the power of the sun alone. Join our journey to disrupt the global water crisis!" - The Desolenator Team
We will be Empowering It Forward 10% of our entire funding campaign to pre-order Desolenators to co-sponsor a project at a school in a water deprived village in Tamil Nadu, India. Details will be announced in an update within the first few days of the campaign!
Check out & support their crowdfunding campaign which is live now here on Indiegogo:
                   How the Empower it Forward Project works with your support. 

Here's how you can get involved. Be part of the change in the world, show your support & be rewarded in the Empower It Forward Project.

Opt Out Reward Option: Want to support the movement but not interested in the rewards? No problem. Just fill in the field in the upper right of the campaign that says "select a contribution amount below," & we'll donate the cost of the reward toward funding our  Desolenator sponsorship!

Imagine a world where business and commerce are redesigned to be used as tools for Empowering life on planet Earth. 

This is not a fantasy. It is already a reality...
A focus more on People & less on Profit represents a small shift in thinking, carrying within it the capacity to make a huge shift in people's lives. $1.3 Trillion spent in e-commerce last year alone, presents a tangible opportunity to leverage consumer spending to support global empowerment. $9 may not seem like much, but when multiplied enough times, by enough people, throughout a large enough network of inspired businesses, $9 can help bring Empowerment to the world.
Our message is simple: If you're going to shop, shop with purpose. Start supporting people & brands that make a difference.

While living in Morocco we discovered one of nature's best kept secrets: Pure Certified Organic Moroccan Argan Oil. The New York Times has called Moroccan Argan oil “Liquid Gold,” which created a global demand for the oil, most commonly used as a moisturizer and for it's natural anti-aging benefits. 
We have secured a source through a Fair Trade Women's Co-operative for the highest quality, 100% pure oil. Fair Trade empowers women workers and women-owned businesses around the world. Buying via Fair Trade guarantees women workers have access to health care, rights, and the freedom from harassment. Women around the world often face unequal treatment in terms of wages and rights and come up against discrimination. Farms that are Fair Trade certified empower women through education and leadership roles, not only within their families but also within the cooperatives where they work.

Empowering Fair Trade women's co-operatives combined with leveraging the global demand for the oil allows us to maximize our giving potential.

People Helping People


  • As an independent radio host & blogger, I got a jump start in putting the message out that this project is coming. Lots of buzz created and connections made. In these three blog posts (herehere & here), I share some of my story and how this project came to be.
  • Partnered with a small collection of artisans who believe in our mission and vision.
  • Conducted market research on: Argan Oil & organic cosmetics, apparel development and fulfillment, international shipping practices, import/export regulations (for the oil). 
  • Secured a direct line to a women's co-operative in Morocco for the purest, highest grade, certified organic Argan Oil.
  • Developed a wide range of marketing graphics, promotional materials and strategies, web copy and blog posts, etc.
  • Building a team of networkers, affiliates, artisans and strategic partners.A few of which have offered their services for free because they resonate with the concept so deeply. See below from Tony, a retired Ad Exec contractor, turned supporter:

In 2011 a 29 Day giving challenge changed my life. This is that story and a major part of the inspiration for launching this project: How Giving Changed My Life
(Click here to watch another interview on how this project was inspired & the vision for the future) 

In 2011, I received my first big taste of how rewarding it can be to Empower others less fortunate, when I was invited by my High School Health teacher to go on a trip to the Dominican Republic, with her non-profit Una Vida (One Life in Spanish). In a small village called La Descubierta, very close to the Haitian border, we mixed cement by hand and laid concrete flooring in many of the local homes, helping to reduce the likelihood of disease caused by dirt floors. The trip was designed to give high school students an opportunity to see the great contrast of life in a developing nation. An experience uniquely designed to illustrate how blessed and fortunate we are, with hopes of planting seeds within their consciousness, that would one day grow into beautiful flowers, inspiring a life of service. A very BIG seed was planted on that trip. I just wasn't expecting it to be within me. 

The DR is also where I was first introduced to an Una Vida creation, called Madres. This was the project that inspired our concept of Empowering rural artisans by supporting their craft & creativity. 
The Madres Jewelry Collective was created in 2011 in Los Pinos del Eden, Dominican Republic, a rural mountain community near the Dominican-Haitian border. In a culture burdened by inequality and steeped in economic woe, women in poverty often have few resources to support themselves and their families. By paying fair wages in an area with little formal employment, our program empowers mothers to invest in their future and the future of their families. Madres employs both Dominican and Haitian women, building solidarity between two cultures that have endured centuries of mistrust stemming from colonial legacies and competition for scarce resources on an impoverished island. By providing sustainable incomes and opportunities for cross-cultural collaboration, Madres is fostering enduring change in Los Pinos. 

"We rise by lifting others." - Robert Ingersoll

Sustainable Community Project: (Bolo Eco Village)
"Bolo means 'together' in Wolof, the main language in Senegal & is a heart expression of a new way of community life, in which abundance is created through activities within the community, with a primary focus to directly satisfy the needs of the community in an uplifting environment. Bolo is a community stimulated to express our unique talents under a common vision, the vision of sustainability. This is not just a sustainable community, it's a prototype for a new way of life. One that is in  harmony with nature and the environment." 
Have ideas for causes to support? Send them in and be a part of the selection process! We're mapping out our campaigns for 2015 now. 

Our Greatest Challenge -- Establishing Credibility & Earning Trust
People have a hard time giving their trust to companies they've never heard of before. There are so many non-profits and charities (we are neither) who have faced an extreme amount of bad press and scrutiny for misusing/misappropriating funds, as well as not following through with their promises and commitments.
Solution: Prove ourselves. Our aim is to make our entire business model COMPLETELY transparent. As funds come in and are disbursed out to that month's campaign there will be verifiable evidence and proof (by way of tracking and digital screen shots) that funds ended up where promised. This is also the reason why we plan to be extremely selective when it comes to causes we'll support. Causes where funds go directly to individuals, groups and projects ensure we have oversight as to fund distribution. Earning trust takes time and most importantly consistency.



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