Surfing in India?

Beyond the Surface is an explosion of color and calm, a documentary film, travelogue, and contemplative call to action on issues involving women’s empowerment, helping disadvantaged kids, spirituality and the fragility of the environment.

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The women of Beyond the Surface.

It’s a journey powered by the waves of India’s massive coastline, and riding – in part – on the surfboard of 25-year-old Ishita Malaviya, who describes herself as the first woman to pursue surfing professionally in India, one in a small community of total surfers there. “What I love about surfing is that in a country like India where people are divided in terms of caste, creed or economic status,” says Malaviya, “the ocean has been a great equalizer and united us all together.”

The Film's Star: Ishita Malayiva

The Film’s Star: Ishita Malayiva

The film, shot in the spring of 2013 by cinematographer Dave Homcy, was launched the year before when his wife, Hawaii-based surfer and environmentalist Crystal Thornburg-Homcy, contacted Malaviya about meeting during a trip to India. At a local chai shop, Thornburg-Homcy introduced herself and another fellow surfer, Emi Koch, founder of Beyond the Surface International (BTSI). Koch’s non-profit – founded when the now 25-year-old was still at Georgetown University – uses surfing – and a network of surfing groups in different countries – as a means of self-expression and support for underprivileged children in marginalized communities. Koch, who sums up the BTSI mission as “using the power of play for social change,” had hoped to to film and feature young wave riders from the Kovalam Surf Club in southern India.

Dave and Crystal-Thornburg Homcy at work.

Dave and Crystal-Thornburg Homcy at work (left).

With a film as shared goal, Koch and Thornburg-Homcy partnered on the project that would ultimately bear the BTSI name – and asked Malaviya if she’d join them for the ride. “It had always been a dream of mine to meet with other female surfers and surf with them in my own country,” recalls Malaviya, who (with boyfriend Tushar Pathiyan) co-founded and runs a surf school, The Shaka Surf Club, on India’s western coast. Malaviya says she felt “truly honored to be asked to be a part of this project and excited about the possibility of going on a month-long surf adventure!”

Malaviya catches a wave.

Malaviya catches a wave.

That adventure, captured in Beyond The Surface, follows Malaviya, Thornburg-Homcy, Koch and three others (Liz Clark, Lauren Hill and Kate Baldwin) as they travel along India’s southern coast and take to the waves, engaging with the surf club youth and the women they meet en route. The film’s band of surfers, activists and adventurers encourage the women they encounter to join them in the surf, to rediscover their uninhibited selves and feel more connected to the water. “In spite of coming from completely different worlds, we were able to connect with each other over something as simple and profound as the joy of riding a wave, says Malaviya, who’s also “seen how surfing is having a tremendously positive impact in local communities where people are discovering the joys of being in the ocean.” That discovery, in turn, is part of the film’s message of protecting the environment.

Beyond the Surface also documents the travelers’ self-discovery along the way – in yoga practice, surfing and conversation – and the travelers share their experiences, to the accompaniment of a memorable soundtrack and scenery.

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As a female surfer, Malaviya is aware of her outlier image and the message it sends to women in India.

“As a woman, I feel that growing up in India toughens you and in many way forces you to grow up a little too soon. I love that surfing not only made me a stronger woman but also reintroduced an element of play back into my life,” she says. “More than anything it has been a great spiritual influence in my life and made me realize the importance of living my life now.” In facing big waves, “I learned to embrace challenges and face my fears head on.”

Malaviya – and her fellow Beyond the Surface surfers – have many goals for the film. One is forging a sense of connectivity. “This is a very pure project,” she says. “I hope that people will be inspired to travel, experience new cultures, connect with others through a common love for the ocean, and develop compassion for our fellow human beings and Mother Nature.”

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Koch sees the finished film, which blends many perspectives, as “a work of art … like a living museum” and evidence of her conviction that “everyone has a story.” To that end, her non-profit’s newest project, Coast 2 Coast  links young people in disparate communities to use their voices to tell and share their stories.

For women, Malaviya says the film’s message transcends borders and cultures.” I hope that these magical moments captured on film will make all women feel like a part of a sisterhood and inspire them to pursue their passion and experience that same sense of liberation in whatever they do.”

 

For more information:

Beyondthesurfacefilm.com

Beyondthesurfaceinternational.org

 

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By Moira Bailey

Killing Fast Fashion

A panel of insiders debate solutions to ensure a brave new future for fashion.

Killing fashion is an ambitious endeavor, not for the faint of heart. It is fitting, then, that the people leading the charge are those who immerse themselves in that cutthroat world of brands and big personalities, public relations and creative complications. Tomorrow night, Refashioner founder Kate Sekules has gathered a panel of insiders to discuss the future of fashion. No one wants fashion to die, but perhaps it should cease to exist in its current form.

Sekules, a champion of sustainable fashion, will also moderate the panel, making sure to keep the discussion lively and “nonboring.” “It’s essential that we get solutions rather than just complaints,” she says. Sekules will limit each panelist’s contribution to a certain amount of time and, she says, “As soon as someone says something really predictable, I’m going to encourage the next thought.”

 

With the right encouragement, this group of panelists may just end up saving fashion instead of slaying it. Alexandra Jacobs, fashion critic at The New York Times, will contribute a maintstream media perspective, while Elisa Goodkind brings tidings from new media as the co-founder of StyleLikeU, a video-centric online platform representing authentic personal style. Sekules describes Simon Collins, Dean of Fashion at Parsons, as “someone with great gravitas in academia—as well as deep experience on the coal face of fashion.” His expertise extends to the global fashion industry and sustainability in fashion. Finally, Julie Gilhart will provide perspective from her extensive experience as a top level fashion consultant and as the former fashion director of Barneys New York.

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Sekules will first ask panelists to define fashion. Then, they’ll address fast fashion—the constant cycling of trends to push masses of disposable clothes. “I want to get their opinions on what use it has, and whether and how it should survive and change,” Sekules says. Brands like H&M and Zara have paid lip service to conscious consumerism, but does that really mean anything?

Sekules believes much of the responsibility lies in the hands of the consumer. Audience members at the panel will get more advice on how to personally kill fashion, but Sekules offers everyone a starting point: “I think we can all be braver. We can all mix up old and new and we can all definitely invest in better quality, whether it’s pre-owned or not. We can make it last and value what we own.”

An audience of consultants, designers and stylists will gather at NeueHouse on Tuesday at 6:30 to incite the fashion revolution alongside the panel’s experts. Ensure your place by emailing rsvp@neuehouse.com. In addition to conversation and creatives, the after-party will include cocktails.

Gathered’s Elizabeth Kairys Allspaw

Gathered brings personality to buying art online.

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Elizabeth Kairys Allspaw

Even as art becomes more accessible online, the gap grows between people who can afford to buy and those who pin feverishly to their “Someday” Pinterest board. To help bridge the two, Elizabeth Kairys Allspaw founded Gathered.com, a site that aims to connect artists with art lovers at an affordable price. Elizabeth curates the entire site, choosing artists who sell one-of-a-kind works, not prints. Prices range from $60 to $5400 (for a 40 by 60” watercolor), though most works fall under $1000. The Gathered shop currently hosts eleven artists whose talents range from illustration to watercolor, collage to predetermined systems. Dave Eggers’ selection includes a naked man in a lake (ink on paper), part of a series: “Lost Panels From a Weekly Cartoon Never Seriously Attempted.” Many of Svetlana Rabey’s watercolors resemble giant dripping ice cream scoops, while Helen Booth’s snowy paintings are inspired by the winter light in Wales. Elizabeth trusts her instincts when it comes to selecting the right artists for Gathered. “If I want this piece for myself, I’ll put it on the site,” she says. “It’s that simple.” Basing the site on her own tastes results in a smaller selection. Elizabeth recognizes that might mean a narrower audience, but she thinks that’s the draw of Gathered. “I’m really trying to stick to the advantages of a highly curated experience,” she says. “I think that goes hand in hand with having a small group.”

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 6.04.46 PM Gathered features a small selection of artists, but their work spans a variety of genres.

Elizabeth sees the site as an extension of herself both artistically and charitably. When Elizabeth left her world of art directing and design in order to pursue entrepreneurship, she thought hard about the ideal direction for her new company. Curating art was front and center, but “it felt kind of empty and soulless in a way to just be selling art online and making a profit,” Elizabeth says. “Something was missing, and I really wanted it to feel more meaningful.” She created the charitable component of Gathered to include an element of generosity in her business. A percentage of each Gathered sale goes to an arts-related non-profit organization, depending on the collector’s preference. In addition to doing her own research, Elizabeth asks Gathered artists if they feel passionate about a particular non-profit. Materials for the Arts, CUE Art Foundation and Chashama all came recommended by artists.

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 6.05.13 PM An artist profile on Gathered.

Besides benefitting the larger creative community, buying art becomes more than a transaction when artists and collectors feel connected. Elizabeth facilitates camaraderie by asking each artist to include a note to the collector when they send off a piece. When Elizabeth was posting new work by Helen Booth, she couldn’t resist buying one of the paintings for herself. The art arrived with a letter, pictures of Helen’s studio, and a photo of Helen holding the package on the beach in Wales. It’s that kind of tender personality that Elizabeth wants to instill throughout Gathered. “That’s what really gets me excited,” she says. “This piece is one-of-a-kind. The passion and personal experience which the artist puts into each piece gets transferred to the collector, who gets to live with it and love it forever.” Gathered’s blog also features studio tours and notes on Elizabeth’s inspiration so collectors can learn more about each artists’ process online. Her business may rely on technology, but the quality Elizabeth hopes to convey is an authentic humanness. Gathered isn’t just art online, it’s a place where artists and collectors find home.  

by Ella Riley-Adams

Is Altruism the Real Key to Success?

Peer to Peer Tutoring: What’s In It For You When You’re Not In It For You

By Michael Tringe, Co-Founder of CreatorUp!

Let’s take a look back at our learning experiences – who did you really learn the most from?  Was it your professors, or your classmates?

Professors and teachers are important.  They hold the knowledge.  And often times, they know it all to well.  Sometimes the lectures are insightful, boring, brilliant, or inspiring.  But when it gets down to the nitty gritty of learning the stuff – how does it really actually happen?

Often times – we work together to help each other learn, without even knowing that we do.  Do we charge each other?  Of course not.  That would ruin the whole concept of I’ll help you if you help me.  Peer to peer tutoring is a clunky way of saying, let’s help each other learn.

While there are a slew of sites that focus on peer to peer tutoring and more are being added each day (see below for a list), it’s a concept that happens naturally all the time.  While alumni groups, networking functions and conferences all aim to serve this purpose, there is a contrived element to each of these formal groups that immediately puts people on guard and can inhibit true sharing.  On the other hand, if you observe the way people interact when they are not seeking to gain but are genuinely interested in helping each other without all of the formality, you will see that it is  arguably quite a bit more effective at inspiring sharing and growth.

“I’ve noticed that those who embrace the concept of making the time to help others without asking or expecting anything in return tend to be better off themselves. I believe this is because intention is everything and people genuinely want to help those who want to help them. It’s amazing how often those who are always focused on their own needs are also those who struggle finding the right job, right apartment, right resources,” said Nicole Delma, Founder of FOND and The Usual Crew, a NY-based ‘Non-Networking’ Group.

For the altruistic few who help others regularly without a formal negotiation as to what they expect to receive in return, there is a broad net of peers surrounding them and ready to pitch in when the need arises.  This net of supporters is effortless and constant and is at the core of the advantage an altruistic person has over a counterpart who has led a life/career of constantly putting his or her own needs first. You can be selfish short term but long term, it only pays off for a very select few.

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Michael Tringe works with attendees interested in learning about content production and strategy at CreatorUp!

While the notion of helping others, especially our peers (potential competition)  is somewhat counter-intuitive for those of us who were raised in a culture of competition, I’ve also seen it work time and time again in some of the most cutthroat environments where not collaborating means not succeeding. When I was undergrad and pre-med – there was a whole lot of study grouping going on after dinner in the cafeteria.  It was a ritual.  If I hadn’t had my classmates there to help me out – I wouldn’t have made it through the class.  Harvard pre-meds weren’t all as cutthroat as they were made out to be – there was a group of us that were, well – down right collaborative.

In the world of arts education too – filmmaking almost never happens entirely with one person.  There’s lots of feedback from classmates about what’s working in a story, and what’s not.  Of course – in an arts setting where everything is relative – we tend to take some classmates’ feedback more seriously than others, but there’s a general rule that the consensus is usually helpful around helping to clarify story, plot, emotion, and character.

Online education gets a bad wrap for sometimes not being collaborative at all.  Isolating.  Unmotivating.  Or even downright depressing.  But the solution to all of this is each other.  We can become invested in one another’s education by sharing our educational experience – learning from each other’s questions – and getting deep into the problems that are stumping us and the solutions that are really working.

One of the reasons I love education is because it is so much about sharing and communication of ideas.  Debate.  Analysis.  All of these things can happen online at no cost once we create the community and the ecosystem to have these interactions.  So my challenge to you is to create a small community for some good old peer to peer tutoring (or whatever you want to call it) around a topic you care about – teach each other, share your knowledge, and not just good – but great things will happen.

Here are few of our favorite Peer to Peer learning sites to help get you started:
https://creatorup.com/
http://www.tioki.com/
https://www.schooltube.com/
http://www.easybib.com/
http://www.wevideo.com/
Here is to successful learning!
Michael Tringe
Click to View CreatorUp Video Tutorials

Click to View CreatorUp Video Tutorials

Michael Tringe

Mike Tringe is the co-founder of CreatorUp, the e-learning platform to make and market video content.  He is passionate about making an excellent arts education accessible to everyone. You can reach Mike at Mike@creatorup.com to learn more about courses or inquire about teaching one yourself.

The Healing Initiative|Travel + Leisure’s Jimmy Farren Hickey

“So much of the news media today is fear based. When I watch it I find myself saddened at the condition of our planet. It all starts to look so hopeless.”

So starts the unlikely but entirely salient mission statement of The Healing Initiative, an online project from Jimmy Farren Hickey, the Digital Creative Services Director at Travel + Leisure. After many years of doing both design and wholeness work, Jimmy found that there wasn’t an outlet within our 24-hour news cycle that spoke to him in an engaging and positive way. News coverage, as we all know, tends to focus on only the bad, pushing human-interest stories to the backburner, often turning them into silly puff pieces. With Jimmy at the helm, The Healing Initiative flips the script. As he states, “I wanted to celebrate the goodness and divinity in people.” And he does.

TheHealingInitiative

The Healing Initiative is a visual catalog showcasing the works of healers, literary and anti-bullying activists, teachers, mediums, and more. Updated bi-monthly, The Healing Initiative is a digital domain of actionable optimism. The well-designed site reads less like a feed and more like a coffee table book. Visit.

Hillary Kaylor: What was your a-ha moment to start your project?

Jimmy Farren Hickey: Sometimes it seems as though the world is full of fear and hatred. When I watch the news I find myself saddened at the condition of our planet. It all starts to look so bleak. But I’ve met some amazing people in this lifetime, people who are making a difference in my life and the lives of countless others. I am so grateful to be in the world with these men and woman, and grateful for the impact they have in healing the planet.

At the beginning of this year I felt a calling to do something. I too wanted to be a part of this healing movement. So I went to the dictionary and looked up the word “heal” and found this definition: “to restore to wholeness”, which somehow seemed like an easier job than mending bones or curing cancer. When using this definition I immediately understood that inside of me I had the potential to heal. Then this summer while traveling through Ireland I discovered that my last name means “one who heals”. So this just had to happen.
Can you explain the mission statement of your project and how you go about finding subjects for it?

The mission of The Healing Initiative is to highlight the faces and stories of compassionate individuals who have made it their life’s work to restore the Earth and all its inhabitants to wholeness. I find subjects by looking through my own friends and by word of mouth. There’s nothing I love more than having someone tell me about someone doing amazing work. Those are the stories I long to hear. I am so grateful to have found a project that’s all about meeting and photographing amazing people.

HK: Have you been involved in philanthropic efforts before and why? Family, friends, church?

JFH: I grew up doing volunteer work in the church and in the community with my mother. There were times we had nothing, but we still helped others. It was a given. It might be something as simple as making a plate of cookies or it might mean devoting several hours or a weekend of our time, but my mother understood the importance of compassionate acts.

HK: Why do you think most people are not involved in philanthropic efforts on a regular basis?

JFH: I would guess that most people aren’t involved in philanthropic efforts because they don’t know how it good it makes you feel to help others. The feeling you get when helping others is unbeatable. I think people probably also have this idea that they have to do something really big in order to change the world, but the truth is that the smallest acts can add up to a world of difference.

HK: Do you think that spirituality and the so-called meaning of life can be achieved through helping others?

JFH: Absolutely. I would go as far to say that helping others is a spiritual act. It might be nice to live alone in a cave in India and meditate toward enlightenment, but I think the biggest spiritual growth happens as a result of our interactions with others on this planet. It’s through walking into difficult and challenging situations that we grow the most. When we look deep we often discover that the challenging situation is our own fear, our own ego. Helping others is a way of doing battle with our fears. When you’re feeling alone, in need of help or just stuck in fear… that’s the best time to help someone else.

HK: What would you like your legacy in this world to be?

JFH: I would hope that I could live every day on this planet with love and integrity and that I always remember to express gratitude for the blessing and tremendous challenges of being human. If other people learned this from watching me, then that would be a life well lived.

HK: How can someone who is just starting out pick and join a cause?

JFH: I highly recommend sites like nycares.com, where you can search through hundreds of volunteer opportunities and find one that you have an affinity with. I would also say that we can do service every day through acts of compassion, love and kindness with the people who are in our lives every day. Do something good for your friends and family today. Send love to the people who challenge you most. All of these acts add up quickly and can change the world. And if you don’t see the impact these acts have on the world, I promise you that you will feel the impact they have on you.

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Jimmy Farren Hickey

Raised in rural Nebraska, Jimmy grew up dividing his time between working cattle with his father and doing craft projects with his mother. At age 4 he announced to the world that he would one day move to New York City, which he did at age 26.

Jimmy has enjoyed a diverse work history that includes time spent as: a cowboy, a waiter, a cook, an art consultant, a web designer, an illustrator, a creative consultant for reality TV, an editor, an editorial director, and a creative director. He is currently the digital creative services director for Travel + Leisure, Food & Wine and Departures at American Express Publishing (the views expressed on this website are his own). Prior to that he served as the digital creative director for Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., working on the websites of ELLE, ELLE DECOR, Metropolitan Home, Car and Driver, Woman’s Day, and many others.

Jimmy is a long-time yogi, a reiki practitioner, a world traveler, and a pretty decent ukulele player.

Jimmy is available for photo shoots and design projects, so feel free to drop him a line at info@thehealinginitiative.com.

HIllary

Hillary Kaylor

A regular FOND Group contributor, Hillary Kaylor is a writer living in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in New York Magazine, The FADER, Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, Vice, and Gawker. She once drove a tractor on an Australian banana farm where they paid her in bananas. Kaylor is currently working on a non-fiction book based on the three months she spent volunteering in the slums of Cambodia earlier this year.

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