Category Archives: 350.org

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

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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

 

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SIT Graduate Institute- Brattleboro, VT

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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

We can never have peace when our climate is in crisis.

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BREATHE IN…. BREATHE OUT……

“cough, cough”.

When I sit in traffic on a work trip, my eyes become a burning mess.. and my lungs feel toxic.  I am only 35, imagine if I was 90… or worse yet, an infant with fragile and developing lungs.

We hear about climate changes, natural disasters, heating waters, melting ice caps, and disappearing species almost daily.   With an ever increasing global population comes a lack of natural environment.. and an increase in consumption and waste.

We all try to do our part. Some of us simply choose to throw our plastic bottle in the recycling bin rather than the garbage.. while others may opt to mow their lawns with electric mowers, ride their bikes to work,  use veg oil powered vehicles, and only eat organic.

One thing we all know for sure, is that the more cars we have on the roads- the more our atmosphere is becoming sick.  We have higher levels of Carbon in our air than ever.  Asthma rates are sky high, and our planet is suffering.   So how does violence feed off of our global/environmental crisis?

Think about poor crop production, sickness, polluted drinking sources from oil spills.. and on and on.  As humans, we depend on this planet to sustain us.  Which is why I have joined a partnership with http://www.350.org/ .    350.org has done an incredible job organizing volunteers across the globe to raise awareness about our fuel consumption and move towards cleaner forms of transportation.. (i.e cycling, car pooling, public transportation, and working from home when available).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5kg1oOq9tY&feature=relmfu

PeaceJam Northeast will be joining local folks working on 350 initiatives in the various states along the way to host public talks on the courage it takes to stand for Global change towards education and awareness.

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