Monthly Archives: September 2011

When in Portland, check out Coffee by Design….

Standard

I began writing this blog on the end of our last day in ME (Sunday)- however as I was typing…. I fell asleep with the keyboard on my lap.. perhaps the week was rather tiring… 🙂 

Now, pretend you are reading this on the 25th, Sunday night…

Today we spent time with the owner of Portland based coffee company, Coffee By Design.

http://www.mainebiz.biz/news44795.html.  This company has soul. I was thankful to begin conversing with owner Mary Allen Lindemann.  She shared their incredible investment in coffee farmers, the environment, and a global conscious.  They also make a delicious cup of coffee…..  Coffee by Design has a strong focus on the rights of woman and coffee farmers. We love this as many of their core focuses also are inline with the PeaceJam Global Call to Action.

The PeaceJam Global Call to Action focuses on the following:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-ephz-xHCk

It is always exciting to find incredible companies that we can work with in order to make a stronger impact on our world.  Mary has wonderful connections with the area University and schools, and we look forward to sharing the gift of PeaceJam to the Portland area.  Mary, Thank you for your dedication to authenticity and a damn good product.

We head home bright and early tomorrow morning.  We are all very tired and I am very eager to get back into the arms of my husband.. and to the office. On November 12th, PeaceJam Northeast will have our 6th annual SLAM.   This year it will be at Worthington Hooker in North Haven, CT.  This is an exciting time for PeaceJam Northeast!

Thank you for following us on this bike tour! The fundraiser ends September 30th.  If you have been moved by this journey, and have thought of making a donation- PLEASE DO! You can donate at http://www.razoo.com/story/Cyclingforpeace.

If you would like to join us at the one day youth conference on the 12th, contact me at 888-407-7765.  It would be a joy to meet with you and help you get PeaceJam started at your school, youth center, church, or community organization!

With great hope in the youth of our future,

Colleen

Can I hear a “PEACEJAM???”.. All the way from PORTLAND, MAINE!!!!

Standard

Well, we made it. Today was supposed to be a 70% chance of heavy rain all day… We left the Chisolms home at about 8:30 this morning.  We were fed an incredible breakfast and given a wonderful send-off.  The first couple hours were in a light misty rain, which was not too bad.

Today is the Moving Planet- 350 awareness day. The day to try to move globally beyond our need for fossil fuels and to work towards a healthier planet.  It could not have been a more fitting day to ride well over a century towards our final destination on the 7th day.

By mid day, the rain had stopped and the sun began poking through the heavy clouds. Since we thought it was supposed to be a heavy downpour all day, we had ourselves set to be incredibly slow and thought we might even need to load the bikes at some point in order to make our trek to Coffee by Design on time. By the time we entered Maine, we were famished (Did I mention we have been eating like 300 pound MEN this entire week?) so we stopped to get “fueled up”, and made a telephone call. Much to our delight, the cafe thought the conversation would go better tomorrow, so we were able to take our time chowing and get back on our bikes.

This entire trip has been an absolute joy. I began my “journey” with PeaceJam over five years ago as an advisor.  My inspiration has always come from seeing youth reach their fullest potential, especially when they have substantial risk factors. When youth overcome those risk factors and become sparked with a passion.. the sky is the limit.  My job was to provide basic “tools” to youth, help them discover how they best want to use those tools, and then step back and watch the magic happen.   In my work with PeaceJam over the years I have seen that magic happen over, and over again.

This journey has been nothing short of an absolute joy, and also a bit exhausting. The words perseverance, inspiration, strength, and courage made up my internal vocabulary as my legs rotated again, and again, and again.

As I have been able to go into the communities where the youth are doing such incredible acts, I have been reminded repeatedly of how courageous they are.. This ride has been so symbolic on so many fronts.

My hope was to be able to ride these 600+ miles in order to raise signifagant funds for PeaceJam Northeast- since PJNE runs on an incredibly small shoe string budget and serves over a thousand kids a year.. although I still hope the funds will keep coming in (wink, wink, nudge, nudge), I have also been thankful for the opportunity to meet so many of the PeaceJam youth, and talk to countless people along the journey about the PeaceJam Global Call to Action.   When we learn about our inspirations, and can turn them into action.. it is truly a powerful act…. When we sit back and put our faith in youth, amazing things happen.. and that is what PeaceJam does.  As is any fundraiser, most people support an act in order to support an organization.. (I.e.. the MS Bike tour, the Susan Komen race, etc.).   Although our cycling is done for this trip, my hope is that many of you will feel inspired and be willing to still donate towards this ride.

Tonight, we shed some tears…. because this journey meant something signifigant for all of us.. For me, it was experiencing the joy of my work and trusting in God to give me the strength I need to not be defined by my illnesses, rather to embrace all of the incredible moments of perseverance.  For my sister-in-law, it was her first time visiting many of these areas, her first time doing a signifigant ride, and only her 5th month in to ever even ride a road bike.. For our sweet support person, Miss Jennifer Huebner- it was an opportunity to embrace her new life as a retired school teacher and celebrate her love for PeaceJam.

Thank you for celebrating with us, and joining us on this incredible journey of peace and perseverance.   Change starts with each and every one of us.. Change starts here.

With much love and sincerity-

Colleen

 

Merrimack PeaceJam!!!

Standard

Today we cycled from Brattleboro into Merrimack, through yet more mountains.. in yet MORE rain.

I have been so thankful to have a “team” with me. My sweet sister is such a great encourager and source of strength.   Jennifer, has been forever consistent with support.  When we crest big climbs in the rain, she sits in the car waiting incase we want food, drink, warmth, or a hug…

Most of the  time, we smile and yell “THANK YOU BUT WE WANT TO KEEP GOING!”- yet she continues to be present every twenty or so miles with a warm smile, ready to jump out of the car and support us with anything we need.  “Auntie” Jennifer, thank you.

Tonight we met up with the Merrimack PeaceJam group which is led by advisor Pam Foster.   We were greeted with a youth holding a flip video camera ready to interview us.  Since we got into Merrimack late, due to heavy rains- we walked into the meeting still wearing our bike shorts, jerseys, and cleats..  and of course I was adorned with chain grease.

The group here was full of wonderful ideas and has implemented many strategies to decrease the amount of waste that their school throws into the landfill. They even created a large tree from all the milk bottles collected from the cafeteria after one day and put it on display in the school hallway.   Tonight they discussed ways to combine the various school groups in order to be more effective and sustainable!! How cool would it be if adults combined our non-profit work in order to be more effective and sustainable!!!!

Tomorrow morning several PeaceJammers were going to join us on our ride out of NH, but due to the heavy rains we will be riding out without them 😦  Merrimack Peacejammers, you all are awesome- and I look forward to seeing you at the Slam and conference.

Thank you for all the work that you do within your community and abroad to make a difference.

Tonight, we are honored to stay at the home of Kate Chisolm. Kate has been a PeaceJam mentor, and was a PeaceJam student.   She is a young woman that radiates beauty and passion.  Kate is a recent college graduate interning with a local refugee support program.  I had the joy of meeting Kate this past spring when she served as a mentor at our youth conference.  It is such a testimony of a program when students that are participants in PeaceJam, return after high school to volunteer as college students/mentors at our youth conferences.  Since Kate just graduated, she will no longer be serving as a mentor and will be greatly missed. She has applied for a position with Peace Corps and is hoping to work in Central America, as she is fluent in Spanish and has a heart for the region.   Kate, you will forever be a PeaceJammer and you have made a beautiful footprint on the lives of many youth.. Thank you for your authenticity and dedication.

Time for this lady to get some sleep…. we are hoping for a break in the rain so we can get on the road early tomorrow morning.. however the rain chance is 70% and continues throughout tonight into Sunday..

 

 

 

SIT Graduate Institute- Brattleboro, VT

Standard

It is one thing to bike numerous miles.. it is another to cycle in the rain and wind… add The Green Mountain range into the trip, and we were pretty psyched (and VERY muddy, wet and cold) when we rolled into Brattleboro.

Thankfully, we stopped shortly into our rainy trip and had an awesome protein packed breakfast at Mango in Saratoga County, NY… Our breakfast has been consisting of egg white and turkey breast sandwiches, and these guys made it perfectly.

Today was the hardest day of cycling on this tour, and most likely the most challenging ride I have ever done. The ride consisted of nearly fifteen miles of hard riding through the mountain range.     As we rode on Route 9 up and over the mountain into Brattleboro we were able to witness the incredible devastation that happened when Irene opened her clouds over the Green mountain state.  Homes are washed away, roads have been washed away, businesses are destroyed, and countless memories were washed down the river.   Even with all of the devastation, everyone we spoke with smiled and seemed full of hope.  By the time we finished the ride, our bodies were soaked and freezing and my body decided to throw its’ first fit.  Thankfully my fever, pain, and fatigue seemed to diminish rather quickly as the excitement of sharing about PeaceJam drew closer.

The evening at SIT was  wonderful.  We met many wonderful students, faculty, and community members.  Professor John Ungerleider joined us to share about 350.org and the rally at the capital in Vermont this Saturday.  For more information on that, go to 350.org.

SIT is a pioneer in experiential, field-based study abroad, SIT Study Abroad offers semester and summer programs in more than 40 countries in Asia and the Pacific, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East, focused on critical global issues with opportunities for undergraduate research.

SIT Graduate Institute offers internationally focused master’s degrees, certificates, and professional development programs in the fields of conflict transformation, international education, sustainable development, and TESOL. Founded over 40 years ago as a training center for early Peace Corps volunteers, SIT Graduate Institute’s flexible full-time and low-residency programs are based on an experiential learning model and a commitment to social justice and intercultural communication.  We were thankful to have our event here as the philosophy of PeaceJam blends very organically into the mission of SIT.  Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams also attended college here!  We are so excited to work with SIT!

Tomorrow we head to Merrimack, NH- home of the Merrimack PeaceJam Program!!!

Thank you to all of you that have been supporting PeaceJam!

With sincerity, perseverance, fatigue, and joy,

Colleen Kelly Alexander

Rain, Rain, on my face…

Standard

The song “Flood” by Jars of Clay has been going through my mind since around midnight when I woke up thinking about riding into Vermont.   The last several mornings rain has been present and intense.

Tonight we will be back in the Green Mountain State (I say BACK, because I called VT my home for almost half of my life).

The little Green mountain state was devastated with flooding these past couple of months.   Tonight, we will be giving 75% of any funds that are raised at the talk and movie to VT flood relief.

Vermont is an incredible state. If you think everyone is always out for themselves.. Come to Vermont, the little Green Mountain state will prove the theory wrong.  A beautiful connection exists between Vermonters, even within their own vast differences. Communities help eachother, Rescue squads are volunteer based.. and rarely in the state of VT are people without health care…. because their is an understanding that health care is a basic human right.   All of this being said, the ride into VT will feel a bit heavy.  Our advisor in the Brattleboro area told me her town is destroyed. Homes, businesses, parks… all gone.

And yet, they are persevering.  When we speak of perseverance, it does not define any specific situation or illness.. it defines the ability as a human being to move on..  To accept help, strength, prayers, and always always swim upstream.

Working for peace requires perseverance, which is why we are so proud and honored to have so many youth focusing on change.

This morning,  please hold up those in Vermont that have been so greatly impacted… and remember all of our actions cause reactions.  This morning, how will your actions and thoughts shape your day?

Much kindness, sincerity, and an abundance of chain grease still smeared on my legs,

Colleen

Saratoga Springs PeaceJam brings Youth Special Olympics to the county.

Standard

Hello friends.

Happy International Peace Day.  Our morning started off with beautiful conversation with PeaceJam advisor, Lori Murphy at her home in the Pittsfield area and then onto our trek towards Saratoga Springs.

The morning fog was like “pea soup” as our amazing Jennifer Huebner (our support driver) stated.   In order to not get hit in the rain and heavy fog we opted to start our morning out in the car.  The fog lifted by ten am, and we eagerly got on our bikes and finished the journey out of the mountain range and into New York.

Tonight we were once again inspired by PeaceJam youth.  The Saratoga Springs PeaceJam group was started by a local youth named Justin Theriault who called the northeast headquarters in order to find out how he could get something started in his community. Once he learned that he only needed an adult that was willing to be trained as an advisor, he quickly recruited his mother.  After three years together, the Saratoga Springs PeaceJam group is alive and vibrant.  They shared how they wanted to focus their Global Call to Action on “The rights of woman and children and their role as leaders”.  Upon doing some research in their town, they discovered there was no support for children with disabilities to have social and physical interaction.  Since Justin has a brother that has Autism, the issue was near and dear to his heart.

He and his friends began researching places they could hold mentoring support for young children with disabilities. Over the last three years, they now have a local college involved, along with over forty area children that are getting supported.  They are recognized with the Special Olympics as a Saratoga Springs program for young children between the ages of 2 and 7.  In case you are wondering HOW they can acomodate so many children; The teenagers work one on one with the young athletes. They have been able to gather the needed support to keep this program alive and growing after three years.  In talking with the youth, they were not bragging about their accomplishments, rather full of humbled hearts and joy.  They love helping, and said they get as much out of this process as the children do.. HOW INSPIRING!!!

Thank you Saratoga PeaceJam youth, for your dedication towards eachother. You are all such beautiful ambassadors for peace.

and so, we ride on…..

For more information on the Global Call to Action, go to:

www.peacejam.org

 

Pittsfield PeaceJam is amaaaaaaazing.

Standard

Hello from Pittsfield, MA.  We are ending Day three of our Cycle for Peace Tour.

Today was a literal day of ups and downs. It started with the realization that my Mac Book was swiped.  Unfortunately all of my work, and personal life was wrapped up in this expensive little package of metal and plastic- (well, most of my work and personal life).  After calling everywhere, I proceeded to gently “freak out”.

Upon realizing that this was out of my hands, I bought a salted caramel macchiato (sp?), and decided to drown my frustrations in the tasty concoction that seemed to slap a temporary bandaid on me.  Thank you Starbucks.. Sometimes consumerism isn’t THAT bad.

The early morning consisted of an intense chill and a rather consistent down pour, so rather than try to be a “hero”, we opted to be smart AND safe- we picked up our bikes from the awesome guys at Laughing Dog bike shop (THANK YOU for tuning our bikes!!!), and decided to drive a bit. We did not start on our bikes until close to one in the afternoon. The rain had tapered to a drizzling mist, and we found a bright yellow kids rain jacket at Walmart which fit nicely over my jacket :).  The climbs through the Berkshire mountains were nothing short of spectacular and without a doubt the most challenging cycling I have ever done. We triumphed over 20% grades and embraced steep declines.  Having my sister at my side, kept me consistent and motivated.

Our gathering tonight was at the Pittsfield High School.  We were able to meet a few of the PeaceJammers at the event, and their energy was palpable. Although fatigued, we were quickly reminded that every moment of this trip was for the specific reason of supporting PeaceJam youth…. You all are awesome. Thank you for your dedication towards non-violence. Thank you for your courage towards standing up for peace, your community, and our planet.  I am excited to move into the future knowing that you all will be our future.

We also had donations totaling $ 150.00 today, Thank you!

Tomorrow morning we head into Saratoga Springs, NY. September 21st is the International Day of Peace. As you read this, think about what peace means to you.  Think about what peace looks like, sounds like, and feels like.

Now, think about how Peace can be obtained in your own life, your community, and the world. It isn’t totally impossible.. Peace happens one breath at a time… With each exhale we can rid the toxins and frustrations.. and embrace the new breath and moment.

What a gift we have.

And so, we ride on…..