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

Coast 2 Coast

Coast 2 Coast is a participatory cross-cultural collection and evolving database of stories conceived by youth from diverse coastal communities around the world, shared and exchanged through their own photography, film, art, and words.

Students at the Bishop’s School in La Jolla, Calif., will be exchanging their photography and personal narratives once a month with youth from Peru, New York, and Los Angeles over the course of the academic year. All youth participants will produce their own one-minute videos on a social topic of their choose to be screened for the local community in May 2015.

https://www.indiegogo.com/project/coast-2-coast–2/embedded

Funding raised through our Indiegogo Campaign successfully launched Coast 2 Coast through its first year!

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/coast-2-coast–2/x/2110555

Coast 2 Coast’s online space provides a platform for youth to share their voices with a global audience. These stories are the shared experiences of adolescents growing up within different socio-economic contexts along diverse coastlines worldwide.

Participating youth hone multimedia skills to document their experiences, cultures and communities, and collaborate with youth around the world through the online platform in which they share and respond to one another’s creative works.

About BTSI:

Beyond the Surface International is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit platform for youth empowerment projects in marginalized communities worldwide using surfing and creative-learning initiatives as innovative mediums for positive social change. BTSI develops safe space learning environments where youth can enjoy the freedom to explore their talents, interests and capabilities. BTSI facilitates innovative learning projects utilizing a free-progress education model to empower individuals to question socio-cultural norms and be courageous agents of change in their communities and beyond.

Learn More about Coast 2 Coast:
https://coastcoast-project-swe2.squarespace.com/
Support the Coast 2 Coast project and other  Beyond the Surface International efforts, here:
http://www.beyondthesurfaceinternational.org/#!get_involved/c8k2
By Emi Koch
Emi Koch, Founder of Beyond the Surface International

Emi Koch, Founder of Beyond the Surface International

About Emi

Beyond The Surface International Founder / Humanitarian As the daughter of a lifeguard, Emi Koch was introduced to the ocean at an early age.  Her dad pushed her into her first wave when she was two years old.  All she wanted to be was a professional surfer. But one day in her senior year in high school everything changed.  Her teacher pointed out a statistic:  “If the world’s population was condensed into a village of 100 people only one of that 100 would have a chance at a college education and (own) a computer.”  Upon hearing that statistic, Koch felt that she was that one person in the village, and that she needed to fight for the rights of the other 99 people so that they would have the same opportunities that she had.Emi enrolled at Georgetown University upon graduating from high school.  She started out as an International Politics Major with her career goal to be a US Diplomat.  The summer after her freshman year in college she went to Nepal and lived with Buddhist monks and taught street children in the monastery school.  This was when she realized what she wanted to do with the rest of her life.
Emi still had the passion for surfing inside her and tried to figure out a way to combine that passion with her passion for social justice.  While volunteering in Nepal she heard about a non-profit founded by a professional skateboarder.  He combined his passion for skateboarding with his passion for helping kids in Afghanistan.  When Emi came back home she bought “How to Form a Non-Profit in California” and “Beyond The Surface” was born.Beyond The Surface is a non-profit organization started by Koch.  Their mission is to eradicate youth homelessness in global coastal regions worldwide and empower street children through the sport of surfing.BTS is her dream, she chose to start a non-profit and devote her life to helping it grow into an even greater agent of change.

http://www.beyondthesurfaceinternational.org/


 

Animoto’s Stevie Clifton on Success & The Art of Giving Back

FOND Group catches up with an old by friend by way of a new one. 

People of Purpose | Stevie Clifton

By Hillary Kaylor

What do we talk about when we talk about social media in 2013? With teens fleeing Facebook, heated Twitter stock debates, and marketers looking at monetizing every possible digital moment, it’s no wonder that most people are fatigued on the topic. But when really investigating social media’s landscape and some of the recent backlash behind it, we’ve found it’s because the connectivity and community that makes virtual sharing so important has increased while the thoughtfulness behind that community has decreased. Certainly selfies have a time and a place; so long as they’re countered with an output of real purpose, expression, and art.

Enter Animoto: a bicoastal-based video creation service where users can upload their pictures and video clips, and, with the help of some very high-level production technology, turn those clips into a gorgeous, cinematic work of sharable art. A natural fit for consumers who want to share their thoughts in a more compelling way, but as co-creator Stevie Clifton found, Animoto is also making a difference by bringing literally millions of unlikely artists, photographers, schools, humanitarians, and non-profits together.

How was Animoto founded? Did you see a need not being filled in the community?

My good friend Jason (Hsiao) and I both moved to NYC to work in the film and television industry over 10 years ago.  After working for a few years (he in production and me in motion graphics work), we started to get a bit antsy, and began meeting weekly to brainstorm fun ways to bring production-quality video to “normal” people. We both had backgrounds in computer science, and we knew there had to be way to make beautiful video creation accessible to more people.  After hitting on the idea of Animoto, we looped in my brother Tom (Clifton) and our friend Brad (Jefferson), worked on prototyping the concept for awhile, and had our first working version of the site in early 2007.

Can you walk us through the process of a project like this from inception to delivery?

After coming up with the initial idea, Jason and I created a founding team with a diverse set of strengths.  In addition to complementing each others’ skill sets, we also trusted each other. This allowed each of us to focus on the things we were good at and get a lot done quickly.

Once we all had conviction about the idea, we committed.  At the beginning, most of us were working part-time on the project, but if you stay in that mode too long, you’ll never make the progress you need to make.  Once we realized this, we quit our jobs and dove in.

We then focused on getting a working concept as quickly as possible so that we could get feedback from real people.  Without that, I think we could have made a lot of missteps along the way, or spent a lot of time working on things of little value to our users.

How did you realize that Animoto could serve the philanthropic community as a whole? Once you did, how did you change your product?

When we first launched Animoto, we thought that it was going to be a great fit for consumers who wanted to share their memories. But we noticed that photographers, businesses, nonprofits, and schools were pretty active too. It makes a lot of sense. Video is a powerful medium for communicating a message, so when you make it easy for people to create video to share their message, you open up the doors to a lot of different people.

When we noticed that a lot of nonprofits were using Animoto to try to spread the message about their cause, we decided to give them free access to our Pro features with our Animoto for a Cause initiative, which we launched in 2009.

Over the years I’ve spoken at various nonprofit and humanitarian organizations to help them understand how to share their message more effectively using video and Animoto (e.g. at the UN and Rising Tide Capital), and it’s been really fun to see the ways in which people are using it.

 “…With Animoto for a Cause we have the potential to help real causes and real people, which is satisfying.  I was tempted to give you guys major props based on the famous partners we’re working with, or the amount of press/exposure we’ll get through this, but even more important is the fact that we’ve found a way to use our product, a fun video creation platform, for real humanitarian work.” 

 –Tom Clifton, Co-Founder, Animoto

What advice would you give to someone who doesn’t know where to start in terms of becoming mindful and starting consistent charitable work?

There are three things that helped me get involved and stay consistent.

1) Just start.

I think the most important thing is just show up. There are a ton of opportunities, and many are probably closer than people think. Don’t try to find the best opportunity; just find one that’s close and start showing up.

Nine years ago I started volunteering at the breakfast program my church puts on for the local hungry and homeless, and I’ve been doing it ever since.  At the time, all I knew is that I wanted to find a local volunteering opportunity because if it was far away, I’d be too lazy to stick with it.  Finding something local is great because it helps open your eyes to some of the pain that’s right in front of you, but invisible until you know where to look.  I bump into people who come to get breakfast at our church frequently in our neighborhood, and being confronted with need keeps me from getting too comfortable.

2) Commit to something

I think the longer you wait to commit to doing charitable work, the less likely you’ll ever do it.  You only get busier and take on more responsibilities as you get older, so it’s not going to get any easier.

My wife and I have committed to giving away a minimum of 10% of our income to charitable causes, and we’ve been doing it since we got married nine years ago.  We didn’t make much money back then, but we both had a strong conviction that it was the right thing to do.  Since then we now have a lot more financial commitments–we have two kids, more bills, a mortgage, school tuition to pay, etc.  If we hadn’t committed to doing this together, we wouldn’t still be doing it.

3) Know your reason

Knowing why you want to be charitable is an important part of continuing to do it long term.  There’s no right answer here, but I think without feeling a sense of purpose behind what you’re doing, it’s going to be really hard to give money away when you have a big credit card bill one month, or to show up at 6am on a Sunday morning to serve people breakfast when your kids kept you up the night before.

Were you involved in philanthropy as a kid? Family? Religion? Community?

I wasn’t involved in philanthropy in the typical sense growing up, but I was exposed to it in its more traditional sense of “hospitality” throughout my childhood.  I was brought up with my five siblings in a pretty devout Christian family, with parents who demonstrated a sacrificial hospitality to anyone who came across our doorstep.  They are rare people who care more about relationship than dogma and are some of the most generous and empathetic people I know.  Even though it must have been crazy raising six kids, they always had an open door policy for anyone that needed help.  We constantly had people from all walks of life living with us when they needed a safe place to stay.

As an aside, I think it’s sometimes easier to be “philanthropic” these days than hospitable, especially with how much more isolated we are. To a lot of people, philanthropy is giving money away to organizations that need it, or going out and volunteering at an event.  This is important stuff, but I think true philanthropy is welcoming people into your life, especially people that are different from you.  It’s easier to sacrifice money or a little time than to sacrifice comfort by really engaging with people.

What’s the most rewarding thing about running your business today?

The people. It sounds clichéd, but it’s true. I look forward to going to work every day because I like the people I work with and respect them.

How would you like your legacy on this earth to be defined?

One of my favorite quotes is from Peter Maurin, a founder of the Catholic Worker movement.  His goal was “to make that kind of society where it is easier for men to be good.”  That’s such a wonderfully practical formulation. I’d be pretty happy if I felt I had somehow made the world a place where it’s easier for people to be good. I think it’s getting awfully hard to be good in the world.

Why does doing good feel good for the world and for you? 

I think it’s because it reminds me that the boundaries between me and other people are porous. We’re actually all connected in really tangible ways, if we let ourselves see it. It’s both extremely comforting for me, but also a call to action.

If there is just one thing readers of this should take away from your project and your personal mission statement—what is it?

Don’t wait until you have it all figured out. The most important thing is to recognize your desire to be philanthropic and then just start somewhere!

About Animoto

Animoto

In the works since 2005, Animoto was founded with the vision of inspiring people to share their lives through the magic and power of video. Animoto’s founders include veterans of the entertainment industry and have produced shows for MTV, Comedy Central, & ABC, studied music in London, and played in indie rock bands in Seattle.

Today, Animoto is a video creation service (online and mobile) that makes it easy and fun for anyone to create and share extraordinary videos using their own pictures, video clips, words and music.

Simply upload your pictures and video clips, choose your style, add words and music, and click the “produce video” button. Then, Animoto’s cinematic technology does its magic and in minutes brings it all to life with a beautifully orchestrated production you can share with family and friends.

Millions of people actively use Animoto for everything from special occasions like birthdays, weddings and trips, to sending a quick special greeting, or just to share everyday moments.

Based in New York City with an office in San Francisco, The entire Animoto team is a passionate and innovative group devoted to helping more people experience the power of video for sharing their lives.

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.

jimmy-farren-hickey-healing-initiative-1.jpg

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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