Monthly Archives: August 2011

Film Screening and Discussion


2012: The True Mayan Prophecy

Join PeaceJam Northeast

for a film screening and discussion!

For more info:

Call Colleen Kelly Alexander

888-407-7765 or

Donations accepted at the door to help with CYCLING FOR PEACE!!!


 September 12 at 7:00pm

Where:  Shoreline Unitarian Universalist Society

  297 Boston Post Road, Madison Center, CT

About the Film:

What do the Maya really say about 2012? Learn more from the most famous Maya in the world, 1992 Nobel Peace Laureate Rigoberta Menchu Tum of Guatemala, and her Mayan elders. Filmed over a period of five years, this 50 minute documentary film takes you deep into the Guatemalan highlands, where a small group of elders have preserved the traditions of the ancient Mayas, passing this deep knowledge down from generation to generation in an unbroken lineage of over 2,000 years. Interviews with The Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and leading scientists are included in this fascinating and funny film. Find out what we need to do to make our planet a healthier place, and the five things we can ALL do to best survive and edify one another in these hectic times.

About the Filmmaker:

Dawn Gifford Engle has a background in public service. She worked for the U.S. Congress in Washington, D.C. for twelve years, and in 1994, she founded the Colorado Friends of Tibet, a statewide non-profit organization.

In 1994, Dawn Gifford Engle and Ivan Suvanjieff began working together to create the PeaceJam program, which was launched in March of 1996. Suvanjieff and Engle became husband and wife in March of 2000, with Archbishop Desmond Tutu presiding over the ceremony. Currently, Suvanjieff serves as PeaceJam’s President, and Engle as the foundation’s Executive Director.

Dawn Gifford Engle has received dozens of awards, and has been nominated six times for the Nobel Peace Prize. She was the co-director of the award-winning documentary film, ‘PEACEJAM’, produced four hours of programming for BBC World, and co-authored the book, ‘Simple Acts of Peace’, which was published by Penguin in 2008. ’2012: The True Mayan Prophecy’ is her first solo directing effort.


Laughing, Loving, Learning, and Cycling


Today, we secured our bike sponsor for Amherst MA.  I loved the logo so much, I had to share it with all of you!!!  Along the way, we have bike sponsors in each state that will provide “medical help” for our bikes, and much needed supplies for us (i.e goos, blocks, and cycling gear).   People that run bike shops seem to be the most relaxed and happy people in the working world.    It is rare to step into a bike shop and not be greeted by an incredibly chill, happy, and healthy person.  I look forward to meeting all of the bike shop owners along the way in September! Thank you for your help towards making this fundraiser for PeaceJam a success!

We encourage cyclists to join us in the early morning hours as we depart one state and enter into the next! We love riding with others! The more the merrier!

What do you fear?


Fear Can be just as much as a driving force as it can be debilitating.

Understanding what you fear, and WHY you fear it can become empowering.

Allowing yourself to know the what and why then leads into “WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?”

Fear is a word we can all relate to, for some it is a fear of heights.. (that’s me), for others it may be: snakes, spiders, planes….

What about when fear is correlated with your health?  What if your fear is daily? Some live in a constant state of fear to a point that is becomes “normal”.  Our PeaceJam Program Director told us that she was on a Skype conference call with some students from Afghanistan and they asked if she was safe in Colorado.   For many of these students they fear not even making it to one of their meetings due to bombings, people being shot, and/or beat up.  Fear is a buzz word these days.

When asking people what it is that they fear, the following are at the top of the list:

1.  Death

2. Losing someone you love

3. Getting very ill

4. Failure

I am sure the list can continue, however these seem to be the most common fears… Do you ever face these? I know I sure do.

At what point do we accept fears and at what point to we challenge them and do something about it? This past week I was out west in Colorado at a PeaceJam affiliate retreat and training.  Believe it or not, I was in fear boarding the plane.. then I was in fear sleeping the first night….. then I was in major fear on a team building exercise where we shimmied through a tight crevice on a mountain and then stepped backwards down a rock face into a cave… Then, I flew to AZ over the weekend from Denver to see some sweet friends, and felt Fear as we took a ski-lift to the top of the Snow Bowl in Flagstaff.


I have blacked out, had seizures, went numb, had major panic attacks, and seem to be a pro at getting sick… So of-course, MY FEAR went right to everything happening at every one of those places and events.  Guess what? I made it through the flight, I made it through the rock climbs, and I had minor problems with my Cryoglobulenemia on the ski lift (only because of elevation and dangling my legs for thirty minutes).  All in all, I returned home to my healthy and happy husband and I was juuuuust fine.

All of us have work to do while we are on this earth.  Many times fear gets in the way. When I study the lives of the Nobel Peace Laureates that we work with, I am inspired by their courage as they face many dark fears…. Fears that to them, have come a reality, but fears that they held onto to help fuel them towards change.   Rigoberta Menchu Tum could have cowered in fear when her family members were being killed.    Instead she stood up against the regime and helped to fight for the rights of the Guatemalan people and helped to get a peace accord.

As I prepare for this cycling ride, I also prepare myself for all the “what if” thoughts… or “fear” that whirls through my mind.  Last summer I was not even able to drive, now I am back on my bike, hiking,  swimming, working, and finding thanks in every breath of my life.  Will I have another significant lapse? Will we have more significant natural disasters? Will myself or someone I love be hurt, fail, or die?  Most definitely yes.

Why do I work for PeaceJam? Because even though there are a lot of  fears out there, there is an ability to understand, accept, and work towards change… Everyone deserves the opportunity to live without fear… and every youth deserves the opportunity to live in a just world where they can walk down the street safely, speak their heart, be educated, have health care,  learn how to fail, and find their own voice.. and create their own peace…

And so, I ride on….

Digging a little deeper.


I love gardening as much as I love cycling. When you dig down into soil, you really find out what quality the earth holds for your seeds.  Once you understand the “deeper levels” of earth, you can determine what elements need to be added in order to obtain a good harvest.
Growing vegetables in theory seems simple.
1. You rake up the dirt
2. Stick a seed in the ground
3. Cover it up
4. Water it.
5. Weed around it
6. Then harvest the goodness…

That’s it!! Right??? Well, kind of… In actuality, one must truly understand how to prepare the earth, weed the ground, make sure the nutrients are in place, the soil temps are appropriate, the air temps are within range, the seeds are planted at the right depths, you are watering as needed (but not over-watering, or under-watering), you are fertilizing with healthy organic matter, managing pests, tending to the new plants as they grow, supporting them… and on and on….

When we talk about Peace and Non-violence with children and adults the same sort of dialogue needs to happen.

When asked what Peace is; the response is often- “No war”, When asked what violence is, the answer is often “Fighting and being hurt”.

When we dig a little deeper and ask “What does Peace feel like, look like, sound like?” we start to get answers like- “calm, laughter, equality, joy, productivity”.

Then we ask the same for violence… and so the questions go on…

1. What does violence look like in your community?
2. Where is it stemming from?
3. Why?

Only when we understand the true elements of what causes violence (environmental, socio-economic, political, religious, etc). Can we hold those elements in our hands.  Then we can begin to do the same for the solutions towards peace (environmental, socio-economic, domestic, etc)

As this bike tour is now a little over a month away, I am really taking the opportunity to solidify the outcomes needed for this tour.  Certainly raising awareness about the effectiveness of a program like PeaceJam is at the forefront.  It is also imperative that a powerful outcome will be community engagement in discussions around these issues.

Just as honey bees are necessary in the cycle of life, and pollinate our earths gardens and help  nourish our beings, we as a human community need to work together to identify, explore, and work on issues effecting the peace of our existence. Only when we truly understand, can we work to create lasting change.

And so, I ride on.

If we have hope, then we must believe.. and we must act…



On Saturday,  I had the joy of spending the day with Kate Cumbo from the PeaceJam headquarters in Colorado.  Kate is the Director of Education and training for PeaceJam, and brings an incredible amount of energy and passion into her work.  Some people are good at what they do, and others radiate what they do… Kate is that woman! Kate believes in PeaceJam, she has seen the change it has made in thousands of youth and communities world-wide, and her belief and passion is infectious.

Kate is the definition of Accountability.  She works tirelessly for the organization, and her incredible zest never seems to fade.

She has written much of the curriculum for the K-College programs.    As an “affiliate” for PeaceJam, (which means we are the affiliate for the Northeast section of PeaceJam), I am so thankful to have a woman with a backbone for justice and a soul for change at my side.

On Sunday, it was time for another century ride. This time, my husband joined me.  This was his first ever century on a road bike.   Sean lived in the great state of Colorado at 8,000 feet in elevation for close to ten years. He was an avid mountain cyclist, and had competed in century races out west, so clearly he was MORE than fine on a road bike for 100 miles.    Sean and I got off to a later start than we hoped (we hoped to depart no later than 6am).  Our furry children demanded some morning attention.. and needless to say, we simply struggled with Sunday morning motivation.   We departed by 8:45 and returned by 4:45.  The ride was a bit longer than anticipated, as my body struggled immensely with the mid day sun, and I required several “cool down” stops along the way.  One of the medications I take is called Plaquenil.  Plaquenil is used to treat Lupus, and has proven to be incredibly effective for me in reducing pain and inflammation.  The draw back is that it causes a decrease in tolerance to the sun.  Compound that with fever spikes and it wasn’t pretty.   So, lesson learned that early morning motivation is a must and next century ride will depart by day break.  When Kaori and I ride in September we will be departing each destination by 5:30-6:00 am every morning, so we can have most of our ride completed by noon.   This will allow us time to relax and get ready for evening discussions.  During community discussions, we will share about PeaceJam and what inspires us.  Once we learn about our inspiration, we can educate ourselves and then take action towards change.   We all have the power to make a change in the community and the world.

“Grandfather Desmond TuTu”, he asked me to call him that after his dinner of fish and chips 🙂