FOND Group in the movies

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Fond Group Launches Air, Land & Sea Special Section at Hamptons International Film Festival

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – East Hampton, NY – October 3, 2016

Water has always been the element of emotion, and for those on the East End of Long Island it represents everything from sports to commercial fishing to drinking water to moving meditation.  This rich and valued relationship inspired Nicole Delma of the Fond Group to create a new section called Air, Land & Sea for the Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) which runs from October 6th through October 10th, 2016.  The goal is to tap into film as a story telling method to generate awareness around manmade environmental issues and allow filmmakers and experts to share information and discuss solutions to these local and global problems.

“I was inspired when Leonardo DiCaprio used his winning speech at the Academy Awards to express his concern over the environment,” says Delma.  “I recognized the power of film for this message, and I approached the Hamptons International Film Festival to create a new category to open the discussion on this important topic.  I was so pleased that they immediately embraced the concept and launched Air, Land and Sea this year.”

The program will include a screening of Emmy-nominated director Michelle Dougherty and Daniel Hinerfeld’s SONIC SEA, which focuses on protecting aquatic wildlife from the destructive effects of oceanic noise pollution, narrated by Rachel McAdams.  The screening on Sat. Oct. 8 at 2:15 will be followed by a panel discussion led by Delma with award winning journalist and filmmaker Daniel Hinerfeld and Alison Chase of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
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DiCaprio’s documentary on climate change with Oscar-winning filmmaker Fisher Stevens BEFORE THE FLOOD will also be in this section in the HIFF 2016 lineup.

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Festival 2016 Career Achievement Award honoree Edward Norton is lending his personal support with an amazing raffle on CrowdRise, the social fundraising platform he founded.  The lucky winner will get to hang 10 with Edward Norton and surfer Takuji Masuda as well as have dinner with Alec Baldwin at the awards dinner honoring Norton.  The money raised will fund HIFF’s Jr. Educational Programs as well as the Surfrider Foundation. Norton is the subject of HIFF’s always fascinating “Conversations With” and is also the Executive Producer of Masuda’s documentary BUNKER 77 about surfing legend Bunker Spreckels.

bunker77_websitebackgroundThe program also includes THE BLOOP, the short documentary by Cara Cusumano about the mystery of the loudest underwater sound ever recorded and THE PROPHET OF PLAS-TEEK, the narrative short from Joshua Cohen which tells the satirical tale of a prophetic hermit who dedicates his life to worshiping the plastic deities he collects from Montauks’ hidden coves.  Director Joshua Cohen and Scott Bluedorn, the star and co-creator will be in attendance.

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HIFF has a long history of presenting not only Academy Award winners but important special sections including Films of Conflict & Resolution and Compassion, Justice & Animal Rights.

“Our Signature Programs help to elevate the content of the festival’s programming with films that continue to provide audiences with thought provoking material,” said David Nugent, HIFF Artistic Director.  “Our hope with Air, Land and Sea is for the festival to embrace the global discussion on environmental issues, and build a platform for filmmakers and audiences to engage and interact.”

Nicole Delma created the Fond Group to motivate businesses to do work that mattered.  A successful marketer with large companies, she wanted to bring together brands and publishers and causes where for profit and not for profits engage in unique projects to raise awareness.   A matchmaker of consciousness, she is tapped into important foundations, top brands, and philanthropy.  “I was reaching a hundred million people on a daily basis,” says Delma, “And when I searched my heart I thought it was really important what my message moving forward was going to be.” Delma recently executive produced INTO THE SEA for the Surfrider Foundation directed by Mikey DeTemple with a voice over by John Slattery.  Nicole lives in Sag Harbor with her family and is also a surfer, tightly tied to the community and the environmental issues which affect people here on a daily basis.  And like water her professional goals encompass emotion and using her talents to do things that matter.

For more information please contact:   info@fondgroup.com
Buy Tickets for the Hamptons International Film Festival here. 

Nicole Delma, Founder of FOND Group

Nicole Delma, Founder of FOND Group

 

HAITI, by foot.

“What are you running from?” was a question that the seven members of Team Tassy heard repeatedly as they ran 230 miles across Haiti over the course of nine days. The team was not running from anything, but rather for Haiti. In fact, the race took place this past February during the 5th anniversary of the earthquake that decimated the country in 2010. Dubbed Run Across Haiti, the route was equivalent to running nine marathons and was an effort to raise $75,000 for non-profit Team Tassy for placing individuals in poverty into jobs and to simultaneously raise awareness of the post-earthquake devastation in Haiti.

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Josh Elkes, FOND Group’s Head of NonProfits

 

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The team ran across a variety of terrain.

In 2010, Ian Rosenberger created Team Tassy, a non-profit focused on unleashing the inherent power in every person by training and placing individuals in poverty into sustainable jobs so that they can pull themselves out of poverty forever. After learning about the widespread destruction caused by the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Ian grabbed his camera and flew to the country’s capital Port-au-Prince. It was during this trip that he met Tassy, a young man who was dying of a facial tumor and asked Ian to help him. Back in Pittsburgh, PA Ian and his friends found a doctor willing to do the surgery for free and raised funds to fly Tassy into the States and then back home once he recovered. When Ian and his friends flew back to Haiti with Tassy after his surgery, they quickly realized that they needed to stay with him until he did not need their help. And this sparked the question, “What does it mean for a poor person not to need you anymore?” The answer they came to was by empowering the poor with jobs.

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At times, running well into the night.

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Running through villages of curious onlookers.

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Provisions often came from unexpected places.

The Run Across Haiti team kicked off their adventure on February 21st in the northernmost Cap Haitien and ended in Jacmel, the southern tip of Haiti on March 1st. Among the team was FOND Group’s Josh Elkes, who overseas non-profit relations and partnerships. Josh is a New York native and raced in his fist marathon in 2011 during the NY Marathon, and has since continued to progress his runs. In November of this past fall, Ethan Zohn, the founder of non-profit Grassroot Soccer, reached out to Josh to introduce him to Ian, who happened to be a close friend of his from when they both appeared on the TV show Survivor. Josh and Ian met in late December while Ian was forming the team for Run Across. Just two months later Josh was in Haiti on the run.

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Josh Elkes receives encouragement on his 9 day run from local passers by.

The fundraiser blended two of Josh’s passions, long-distance running and supporting non-profits, and after interviewing him just two-weeks after returning from the trip, the experience was clearly both powerful and transformative, “Seeing a whole new country and getting to see something new with every step I took was incredible. It was all brand new and incredibly fascinating.” Josh felt particularly motivated to join Run Across Haiti because of Team Tassy’s focus on personal empowerment, “They don’t just hand out money, they take the approach, “Teach a man to fish, feed him for life” and that really resonates with me.”

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By Alison E. Berman, founder of Anchor and Leap 

All photos by taylorfreesolo 

To donate to Team Tassy you can visit the Run Across Haiti crowdrise page.

Aloha in Waikiki

FOND Group had the honor of helping to produce the first annual Aha Kai Aloha Festival celebrating Hawaiian Surf and Cultural Heritage which took place in Waikiki this past fall. Alison Berman caught up with visionary pro surfer Rochelle Ballard to learn more about the memorable day and the inspiration behind the event.

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In Hawaii, surfing is more than an activity or a pass time. It is more than a sport. Surfing goes deep into the heritage of Hawaii; it is embedded in the roots of Hawaiian culture. And, nodding to that deep significance was the first annual Aha Kai Aloha Festival, a one-day Hawaiian cultural surfing event that debuted in Kūhio Beach Park in Waikīkī on September 6th, 2014. The dawn-to-dusk festival was a celebration of traditional Hawaiian surfing and also so much more. It was an effort to bring together and nurture the many at-risk and homeless youth of Waikīkī and reconnect them with their Hawaiian heritage through surf sessions, workshops on Hawaiian traditional practices, and also educating youth on resources available within the community. “It was a really amazing shared day of Aloha, and that’s what Aha Kai Aloha is, it’s bringing earth into the ocean or valley into the sea using all of the elements for sustainability, bringing together the wisdom of perpetuating the land and sea through the love of surfing-Aha Kai Aloha. In Hawaiian culture it is called Ahupua’a -from the valley into the sea of Hawaiian cultural sustainability,” said Rochelle Ballard, professional world-class surfer, who first had the vision for the festival.

Pro surfer Rochelle Ballard (center) leads the opening ceremonies with 'Uncle' Bruce Keaulani of the Living Life Source Foundation.

Pro surfer Rochelle Ballard (center) leads the opening ceremonies with ‘Uncle’ Bruce Keaulani of the Living Life Source Foundation.

Rochelle moved to Kauai, Hawaii as a child, which is where she later took her first leap onto a surfboard. She is an accomplished professional female surfer and veteran of the Association of Surfing Professional’s (ASP) World Championship Tour, and also starred in the original Blue Crush film. After an inspiring professional career, Rochelle continues to cultivate her love for surfing, one way being through her deep involvement with Living Life Source Foundation (LLSF), the organization behind Aha Kai Aloha Festival. LLSF is a charitable non-profit located in Hawaii’s Manoa Valley and has a beautiful mission, “To restore a system of living by embracing all faiths and modern science; teach concepts vital to creating a life of greater meaning, purpose, and freedom; and, educate the people of Hawaii to become self-sustainable and to perpetuate the life-force spirit of Aloha.” Professor Bruce Keaulani, locally known as Uncle Bruce, is the founder of Living Life Source Foundation and asked Rochelle to create an event that would bring together the organization’s efforts with local youth and the healing aspect of what LLSF stands for. And from this sparked the inspiration for Aha Kai Aloha Festival.

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FOND Founder, Nicole Delma, honored to share a moment with legendary shaper Pohauku Stone.

The festival opened with a prayer chant, Oli. Rochelle recounts the moment, “A shower came through, and everyone was facing the ocean, listening to the water and the waves, as to bless the day with safety and the Aloha spirit.” The festival offered a mix of workshops that taught youth about Hawaiian traditions such as pounding Poi, which is the process of pounding taro root into a dough like consistency. A large focus of the day was also to show youth the connection between surfing and Hawaii’s ecology. Local Tom “Pohaku” Stone brought this to life through a hands-on workshop on papa he’e nalu, showing the kids how traditional Hawaiian wooden surfboards are carved. Through teaching these traditional methods it also continues that important aspect of Hawaiian culture, Rochelle explains, “When you stop doing these practices then the culture dies, and people are no longer fulfilling the Aloha, the spirit of where they came from.”

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Aiding at-risk and homeless youth can be a delicate undertaking. On the streets of Waikīkī, it isn’t always easy to identify which kids are homeless, even more so, each child has their own unique story and circumstances. Knowing this, the festival was designed to be as inviting as possible, acknowledging that whether teaching a surf lesson or introducing to a local charitable resource, a critical first step is to earn trust.

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Local groms prepare for the female longboard competition.

Youth Outreach (YO!), which provides medical and social services to homeless youth through YO! drop-in centers in partnership with Waikiki Health and Hale Kipa, Inc., was one of the resources available to the children, as well as Surfrider Spirit Sessions (SSS), a Hawaiian non-profit that serves at risk youth through ocean-based experiential education and mentoring programs.

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Commentator Kaipo Guerrero (left) lent his voice and surf expertise to the day’s events. Guerrero is a well-known announcer in the sport of surfing and a fan favorite.

Surf lessons and an eight-division surf competition open to the public also took place during the day. Competition entry fee was waved for canned food donations and divisions were bracketed by age, not gender, encouraging participating for the love of the sport, rather than for fierce competition.

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Local youth take turns experiencing outrigger canoe rides through the Waikiki surf.

With over 600 arriving for the festival, 100 participating in the surf competition, and 400 healthy breakfast and lunch meals shared, the impact of the first annual Aha Kai Aloha Festival was inspiring. The festival is committed to continuing to partner with existing organizations to enhance and support their efforts to aid local at-risk youth, both for next year’s event, and also with the possibility of building workshops throughout the year.

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Volunteers teach local youth how to make traditional Poi from locally grown Taro root.

Surfing holds a unique significance within Hawaiian culture, which Aha Kai Aloha Festival gracefully demonstrated by connecting at-risk youth with their heritage, its traditions, and community recourses, all through the shared love of surfing and Aloha.

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Special Thanks to Alison E. Berman for this recap of an amazing event and to the Elkes Foundation for helping to make it possible.

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Alison is a storyteller, marketer, and the founder of digital storytelling platform Anchor & Leap. She has a complex understanding of multi-channel storytelling and gained her roots working at prominent media companies Meredith Corporation as a Marketing Manager and previously at Rodale, Inc.’s in-house content marketing agency. While at Rodale, Alison also facilitated a company-wide social media think tank that was formed by CEO Maria Rodale.

As a consultant, Alison helps companies define and share their own stories through rich content marketing and strategy—all with a focus on aligning messaging with the core values of the organization. Some past clients include Nissan, Applegate, Norton by Symantec, Kraft Foods, and Energizer Holdings.

Alison is passionate about creative cultures, design thinking, and social enterprise. You can follow her on Twitter @DigitAlison

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

Hungry for the Outdoors

New York City is an incredible place. Some even call it magical. Dwellers of the city bask in its wonders and gloat that it is “the best city on earth.” Yet with everything New York is credited for having, it is equally known as one of the most challenging cities in which to lead a balanced life. This is especially true if you find solace through time spent in nature. And for this reason, the city both loses outdoor enthusiasts each year, and has gained the reputation of being an outdoor “unfriendly” city. When faced with how to blend urban life and nature, many New Yorkers who desire both are left feeling that they must choose one to leave behind.

But what if New Yorkers could both live in the city and love the outdoors? This, in fact, was Sarah Knapp’s inspiration when she created OutdoorFest.

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Making s’mores with Biolite stoves during OutdoorFest’s VIP Launch Party

OutdoorFest is a 10-day festival that brings the outdoors to New York City through a series of events in Manhattan and surrounding boroughs. The first one took place this summer, and featured an impressive collection of events: stand up paddle boarding and sailing on the Hudson River, rock climbing at Brooklyn Boulders, surfing at the Far Rockaways, a nature walk with Ken Chaya through Central Park, and more. Fascinated by OutdoorFest, I attended a female surfer meetup that screened AWAY, a documentary by Elisa Bates about the subculture of NYC surfing. That evening at the meetup, I sipped a local hard cider at an artsy surf shop on the Lower East Side, and watched in amazement as the seemingly displaced (and feisty) surfer gals of the city came out from their apartments and gathered together under one roof. And this undertaking, of constructing community, lies at the core of OutdoorFest.

Though the mission of OutdoorFest is to make the outdoor lifestyle accessible to urban dwellers, Sarah explains that, “it’s not just about accessibility to the outdoors, it’s about connecting people with the outdoors and creating a community while doing so.” When Sarah first moved to New York City, it took her a while to locate the outdoor community. Experiencing this, she set out to create a space for people to feel like they are a part of an outdoor enthusiast community while also living in the city. Sarah’s vision is ultimately to bring OutdoorFest to other dense urban environments like Chicago and D.C., where people experience challenges to urban living, stating “If it were just a dedication to the outdoors, I would move, but it’s a dedication to the reality that people live in cities, and then caring about the livability of cities. I love going outside and want that for others; the answer for how to do that is by creating the space and community.”

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Founder Sarah Knapp (left) during OutdoorFest June 2014

Sarah, through OutdoorFest, brought the hungry outdoor enthusiasts of the city exactly what they needed—community.

Curious to join this community and learn about upcoming events? Check out Mappy Hour, OutdoorFest’s monthly gathering of outdoor enthusiasts around maps, guidebooks, beer, and adventure stories.

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By Alison E. Berman

Montauk celebrates Rell Sunn

By Moira Bailey
When legendary surfer Rell Sunn died of cancer in 1998, Montauk surfer and businessman Roger Feit was inspired to organize a surf competition to both celebrate her life and raise money for cancer awareness. On Aug. 2, the 16th Annual Rell Sunn Surf Contest will draw surfers of all ages to Ditch Plains beach in Montauk to continue the tradition, one that’s evolved to help local families navigate the financial rip tides of cancer and serious illness. The funds are disbursed through the East End Foundation, co-founded by Feit, often in modest amounts that can still make a “huge difference,” whether to bridge a mortgage payment or cushion the loss of a job.

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And because it’s a local effort, Feit can describe exactly who the money raised this year will help: a widow whose husband recently died of brain cancer;  a man out of work for a stretch while his wife’s been fighting cancer; two children who’ve just lost their father; a single mom whose son’s battling cancer.  Feit works with Alice Houseknecht, an East End Foundation director,  on “due diligence” to assess each situation, often brought to their attention by friends or neighbors. Through the years, Feit guesses they’ve raised some $300,000.

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“Montauk is a special place for a lot of reasons,” says Feit, 68, who credits a connected community for the event’s success. “There’s a lot of goodness in the people,”  he says. “The community has been coming together for years and years.” For kids in the annual surf competition, especially, Feit says there’s fun but also a reminder “it’s really benefiting somebody.” That, plus they see family and friends working on the event, from selling T-shirts and raffle tickets to cleaning up the beach after. And Feit’s seen some happy outcomes: one boy, a cancer patient whose family home was saved by donations years ago, is now “completely healthy.”

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This year’s surf contest starts at 8 a.m.  and features events in various categories  (long boards to paddle boards to “whatever you want to ride or wear”) for both children and adults. “The little kids get into it,” says Feit , who guesses some 60 to 70 surfers will take to the waves this year. Activities on dry land include a raffle (with prizes donated by local merchants including The Atlantic Terrace, Gosman’s Dock and Yoga Lila), T-shirt sales,  and an auction featuring works by local artists.  “It’s a celebration of surfing,” says Feit. “It’s a celebration of life.”

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For more information: http://www.gofundme.com/Rell-Sun-Surf-Benefit or https://www.facebook.com/rellsunsurfcontestbenefit.

TO ENTER, DOWNLOAD THE ENTRY FORM HERE

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Special thanks to Jesse Anthony Spooner and Tyler Brueur for announcing this year’s event!

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Jesse Anthony Spooner with surf student Logan Tarlow, @spoonsurf

 

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Tyler Breuer of Smashsurf @smashsurf

 

 

 

 

KITCHEN CAM FOR A CAUSE

An intimate look at the culinary creativity of the world’s most famous chefs. 

This week the FOND Group unveiled the JBF Kitchen Cam, a real-time video feed streaming the fast-paced culinary action from the James Beard House in New York City’s Greenwich Village. The project aims to capture creative cuisine in progress, introducing an intimate, unscripted look at gastronomic excellence.

Stepping into this historic culinary enclave means entering the home of the man who can be regarded as the original Celebrity Chef. James Beard may be the original Celebrity Chef, paving the confit-laden path to cooking-show stardom for accomplished cooks whose careers may have stagnated in restaurant kitchens without his trailblazing appetite. Whether you’re a food freak or just someone who likes to eat well, it’s easy to appreciate the amount of edible history steeped into the walls of the Beard House.

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The menu for the evening.

Until now, an inside look at this illustrious kitchen was reserved for James Beard Foundation members or those lucky enough to grab a sought-after seat at a special dinner. With the launch of the JBF Kitchen Cam, the entire world can view the preparation of over 200 dinners a year, crafted by a rotating cast of innovative chefs.

On Monday night, I attended a cocktail party to celebrate the unveiling of the JBF Kitchen Cam. Daniel Boulud helmed the kitchen as the Cam streamed the sights and sounds across the Internet.

Walking into the House, I was hit with an immediate wave of enticing lemony herb-infused aroma and the clamor of the kitchen clanging through the small lobby area. Conducting his focused team like a maestro, the cool and collected Boulud talked to observers while laying down greens that would nest a Citrus-Cured Fluke with Shiso Bavarois and Ponzu Gelée. Pots of thick stock simmered like liquid gold and uniformly chopped herbs and vegetables stood neatly piled, waiting for plates.

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Boulud at work.

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Boulud shows the Kitchen Cam a recipe from his new book.

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The team poses for a celebratory selfie.

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It was truly impressive to see such controlled chaos in the cramped confines of the historically seasoned kitchen. A dozen of Boulud’s sous chefs toiled feverishly – press and general food fanatics filled the tight space while diners ambled through on their way to the cocktail area to enjoy appetizers and sip champagne.

Servers made rounds with trays of Duck Pâté en Croûte, Wild Mushroom Tarte Flambée and Watercress Velouté with Louisiana Crayfish, all drawn from Boulud’s new book DANIEL: My French Cuisine. The dishes both sparked appetites and fueled conversation about the inaugural night of the JBF Kitchen Cam; Boulud perfectly curated the start of this innovative culinary experience.

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As the cocktail hour wound down and guests were seated, Boulud took the floor. He spoke about the inspiration for his latest book and his deep appreciation for the James Beard Foundation. Then he noticed a diner watching the first-course plating via the JBF Kitchen Cam on her phone; he chuckled with delight. The evening lives on, online.  

 

The Modern Kale Debacle: Bo’s Fight

The man behind the t-shirts that started a war with fast food giant Chick-Fil-A

Bo Muller-Moore is attempting to trademark “Eat More Kale,” a slogan that he has been printing one-at-a-time on t-shirts for over a decade. Chick-Fil-A, a fast-food company that sells over 800 chicken sandwiches a minute, has sent Bo a cease and desist letter and is also attempting to block Bo’s application for a trademark, claiming he is harming their Eat Mor Chikin campaign.
Steven Roux is an organic farmer/writer who works by day for acclaimed Microgreens grower Good Water Farms.

Steven: You’ve described yourself as a “Neolithic stencil artist.” Since I first ordered a shirt from you and received a signed photo along with it, I’ve thought of you as a chill dude living in Vermont who designed an Eat More Kale t-shirt that evolved from a comical decree to eat more nutritious super foods into a mantra for conscious living.  The signed photo of you, Bo, genuinely beaming with a hand written thank-you, was great personal touch that resonated with me—I was living in Brooklyn at the time and everywhere I wore the shirt, complete strangers complimented or made funny remarks to me, in which I would retort with a question: “Have you heard of these shirts before? And the debacle the designer is having with Chick-Fil-A?” For every time this happened, for every time I explained the Cease and Desist letter and Chick-Fil-A’s claim that your harming the intellectual property of their Eat Mor Chikin campaign, I not only made whomever stranger I was talking interested in your case, I made them visibly upset by the ordeal.

Bo: It’s a universal thing. I’m grinning because I’m lucky to hear stories like yours all the time. Last week it was my friend telling me how he was down in Miami where everyone was more beautiful than the next person, and he was walking along the boardwalk, getting more looks than he’s ever had, and he starts wondering—“Wow is it my hair? Is it my tan?” Then he realized—“Oh it’s my goddamn shirt!”

Steven: The Kickstarter campaign for Jim Lance’s film about your case,  “A Defiant Dude,” raised almost $15,000 more than its goal of $75,000 back in March. How has production been? Are we basically waiting for the outcome of the case?

Bo: Yes. Some might think he could have the film three quarters of the way finished, but the filmmaker—Jim, it’s his film—assures me that he needs to have an ending before he can craft the rest of the film. He does have over 300 hours worth of footage, he literally crossed the United States twice last summer with a film crew interviewing everyone from lawyers and intellectual property specialists to moms and pops, real people in various businesses being affected by corporate bullies. I haven’t seen too much of the footage, but it’s real American heartland stuff, you know, not left wing rebellious hippie stuff. The trademark office is supposed to come up with a ruling this month. They’ve had six months to respond to our final argument that we submitted on September 26th.

Bo hard at work screening in his Vermont shop.

Bo hard at work screening in his Vermont shop.

Steven: And you’ll receive the trademark?

Bo: I’m not fighting at this point to win a trademark. For the last two and a half years I’ve simply been fighting to get my application in the game, to be considered for a trademark. In this case, before I even make it to the public arena for debate, Chick-Fil-A sent a letter of protest saying, ‘Hey trademark office, this trademark is so egregious he doesn’t deserve the due process.’ They don’t want a public debate; they’re trying to stop me at the starting line.

Steven: And they’ve stopped others before.

Bo: They sent me a list of 40 businesses that they’ve shut down.

Steven: Eat more goat, eat more broccoli…

Bo: One was a race car team call Eat More Gas… When you get that cease and desist letter, it looks so official most people’s first thought is either to shut it down or go talk to a lawyer for $400 an hour. If it wasn’t for our local lawyer agreeing to do it for free and immediately soliciting the help of the University of New Hampshire’s law school, I wouldn’t have been able to do this for a minute.

Visiting the Good Water Farms Team (FOND Client and Day Job of the Writer, Steven Roux)

Visiting the Good Water Farms Team | From Left: Isaac Algarin (Good Water Farms Grower), Brendan Davison (Good Water Farms Founder), Nicole Delma (FOND Founder), Steven Roux (Writer and Good Water Farms Grower)

Steven: In the trailer for the film you acknowledge your awareness of Chick-Fil-A’s aggressive and victorious history with like-minded trademark seekers in the past, but you clearly remain undaunted toward their corporate advantage. Perhaps it’s because you have an enormous amount of support by Team Kale devotees from State Governors to Anderson Cooper that believe this is corporate bullying and that Chick-Fil-A should try eating more kale-slaw.

Bo: I was kind of in the perfect storm; I think I’m the perfect character to fight back. I grew up on the south, the way the Chick-Fil-A family did… I don’t know them personally but I’m from the same cut of fabric as them. On the face of this, everyone sees a chubby hippie from Vermont fighting God-fearing southern folks but in reality we know the same language, we wrestled at the same schools, water skied in the same lakes… I’m not that different from them, we grew up within miles of each other.

Steven: The first t-shirt you ever designed was your classic “Cheese” print you made on a silk screen you received from your wife as a gift….

Bo: Yup, it was Valentines Day, 1999.

Steven: How did you first become interested in printing shirts?

Bo: I was working at a high school in Montpelier, I had just moved to Vermont and was working in the Learning Services Department, the Special Education Department, and this was when Gap and Old Navy were huge, and all the kids had shirts with brands across the front, and the individual in me started to go crazy…. it was also the time we started to learn about sweat shops and conscientious shopping. That and I used to doodle in my notebook during meetings and my wife saw them and said that’d be cool tattoos or shirts.

The screen that started it all. Shop Eatmorekale.com for these and other styles, stickers and to donate to Bo's legal fund.

The screen that started it all. Shop Eatmorekale.com for these and other styles, stickers and to donate to Bo’s legal fund.

Steven: Along with working on the film, you’ve just launched a new website with sweet new merch like aprons, beanies, even Eat More Kale yoga mats. Also new to Eatmorekale.com is a wholesale section, where you can order larger quantities of shirts or hoodies for entire families of veg-heads or even to sell at a local farmers markets. There’s also a “Design of the Week” now, will these designs be exclusively by you, Bo, or will other local artists be involved?

Bo: My family will make them, the one that’s up this week my 8-year-old daughter made, and the one I’m posting next week my wife made. In the past ten years I’ve cut 450 stencils and people used to really respond to them at my booth, but when I made the site it wasn’t practical to have so many in addition to the popular EMK shirt. So I whittled it down to some best sellers, but it dawned on me to have a design of the week for some deeper cuts. Variation is fun.

Steven: You’ve also described yourself as a folk artist. Have these last two and a half years of legal distress tarnished the lyrics from Willie Dixon’s’ ‘Back Door Man’ for you? The song later covered by The Doors…  In both songs the lyrics: “I eat more chicken, Than any man ever seen” are bellowed.

Bo: I hasn’t ruined the song, but you know what is has kind of ruined? I used to like a good fried chicken sandwich, at a nice southern diner. Maybe a local chicken breast fried up would be okay… But the EMK guy doesn’t eat chicken sandwiches anymore.

Steven: Has your struggle been worth it so far? Would make that first Eat More Kale shirt all over again if you had the chance?

Bo: A typical thing I hear from people—and it really hits the spot—is, and I’m paraphrasing: “It must feel all encompassing sometimes, and we’re here to remind you that this is a fight that’s really worth fighting.” So on the days when I wish I’d never heard of Eat More Kale, and that doesn’t happen very often, but just when you start thinking that, that’s when you get an 80-year-old in a nursing home in Kentucky sending you a check for your legal fund…. I’d for sure make that first shirt over again.  When we were at Bush gardens last week, I had 5-10 people approach me while I was wearing the shirt, and most knew of the shirt but didn’t recognize me as the maker, but 2-3 people knew who I was and my 8 year old was thrilled. To be a rock star in the eyes of your daughter is worth it right there… I’ll be a real zero to her in a few years when she’s a teenager, but that night I tucked her in she was still talking about the people who knew me.

 

A special thanks to both Bo and Steven who put a substantial amount of time and heart into bringing us inside this perplexing story. Your hard work is appreciated.   –Nicole Delma, FOND Founder
 
Support Bo’s Cause and SHOP or DONATE NOW: 
Kale Sale

SHOP OR DONATE AT EATMOREKALE.COM

 
 

Getting a Pure Fix

If you know a biking barista or watched Joseph Gordon-Levitt dodge bad guys while racing through the streets of New York in Premium Rush, you probably have a vague sense of urban cycling style. The fixed-gear bikes are sleek, efficient, and often glamorously brakeless. These are no lazy cruisers or thick-tired mountain bikes. They’re lightweight and versatile. If you’re buying a Pure Fix bike, it might also be charitable or glow-in-the-dark.

Zach Schau started Pure Fix with his little brother Jordan and two friends, Michael Fishman and Austin Stoffers, after they found “nothing cool for under a thousand bucks” on the fixie bike market. Over winter break, Schau’s crew brought in 165 bikes, “made a shitty website,” and sold stylish, quality-built rides at $325.00 apiece. By the time they went back to school, they’d sold out.

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Nicole, Jordan, and Zach in the Pure Fix Warehouse. (Photo by Jesse Anthony Spooner)

“We sold out in two weeks and we thought it would take like six months,” Schau says. “So we knew we were on to something. We quadrupled our order and invested more. Then that cycle kept happening.” Fast forward a couple years, and Pure Fix now employs 18 people in an expansive office in Burbank, California. Their 30,000 square foot US distribution center is nearby.

Schau is especially stoked that more of Pure Fix’s business comes directly from web sales, thanks in part to social media and content-centric campaigns. The company produces Pure Fix TV, an encyclopedic video series with topics ranging from “How to stop” to “How to ride backwards.” Pure Fix Features hosts more atmospheric compilations of fixie riders pedaling around LA and New York backed by rap or Florence + the Machine.

The combination of FAQ-focused content and nonchalant kids out on the town strikes a winning balance between cool and approachable, Schau hopes. “Cool in the sense that we like to be those cool kids with the new product that the New York Times is featuring, with the cool site and the shit that glows in the dark. But also we’re not so intimidating, we’re not like the badass company that some other companies try to be. We try to be as approachable as possible.”

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Nicole chatting with Zach at Pure Fix HQ (Photo by Jesse Anthony Spooner)

Pure Fix culture also grows through collaborations with non-profits. They donate bikes to help raise money for local charities like HOLA and LGLA, most recently working with charity:water to create a custom line of bicycles, launched in October. For each bike sold, Pure Fix donates $100.00 to charity:water. So far they’ve given $20,000.

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Through charitable work and multi-layered content, Pure Fix has avoided the exclusive feel that often comes with a niche lifestyle brand. Schau wants everyone to have a place at Pure Fix and, in a short period of time, he’s shown that fixies go far beyond badass bike messengers and hipster baristas.

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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