Jan 28, 2011

Strive for Success Logo

Chris asked me to created a logo for their Strive for Success program...

This is how the first version came out:

Jan 26, 2011


After finishing the main mural, Chris (from Strive DC), Kendra (from Yachad), and I decided the hallway going to the basement needed a little lift.  The students use the stairway to go to the classroom downstairs, but the journey felt a little dismal...

While the walls were a cheery yellow, the lack of decoration made the space feel untouched, unused, and uncared for.  I decided to fill the walls with a combination of inspiriting quotes and pictures I found lying around the building.  Some of the pictures were photos of graduates and some were paintings made by previous volunteers. 

You may notice the mistake I made here, writing we twice... 

Luckily I could cover it up by putting the quote on a scroll.

Once downstairs, there was an empty wall that Chris dreamed of putting a tree.  She wanted to hang the pictures of graduates along the branches, and this would be Strive's family tree.

Here's the tree.  I can't wait to see all of the faces of successful graduates filled up on the branches!

Thank you to the Strive Family.  I wish you all the best of luck.  You do amazing work, and I'm proud to  have been able to support you.  Having listened in on the classes you provide as I painted, I know you provide hope and motivation to numerous people.  

** For those who wondered what happened with the outside "windows", they will be covered in reflective tape to create a more realistic window-like effect!

Jan 21, 2011

DC progress

The progress of yesterday and today. Try to imagine the whole thing without all the boxes blocking it...

Jan 18, 2011

Day One

Below is the final sketch for the classroom mural of Strive DC.  

However, because the mural space is set up on a stage-like platform and has three component walls (two at a diagonal), I have decided to alter the sketch as I paint.  The scroll with Strive DC's creed will be made larger.  Everything else will be moved to either side of the scroll.  The vertical archways, instead of being stacked on top one another, will be placed side by side and span along the diagonals.  

Here is the progress of day one... the floating scroll with billowing clouds.

 Today at Strive, I enjoyed listening to the various classes held in the building: how to make your resume and how to deal with verbal abuse.  Ages ranged in the class, but most were adults.  The first class started with each member stating their name, what they did over the weekend, and why they came back to Strive.  Some people proudly proclaimed that they had completed all of their homework after visiting with their grandkids.  Others admitted they hadn't done any work but were now motivated by their peer's success and would do it later that day.

No matter how much homework they had or had not done, it seemed each student found time over the weekend to go to church and watch football.  After every speech, the class clapped once ("the success clap").  Inspired by the camaraderie, encouragement, and positive energy, I figured I too should introduce myself.  After all, I had done the same things they had during MLK weekend -- go to church and watch football!  After they commiserated with me over my losing teams, everyone went back to business.  What amazed me the most, was the general chatter about the importance of community service.  Despite the fact that most of these people did not have jobs, they still gave back to the community by volunteering at soup kitchens.  It's an example from which we should all learn...

Jan 13, 2011

One Year Anniversary of Haiti Earthquake

First of all, thank you everyone for your heartfelt donations!  You are making a real change in the lives of people who I consider my friends.  I can see their joy when they learn they can stay in school an extra year, when they don't have to worry about clean water for their family, and when one of their family members doesn't succumb to cholera.

Yesterday I attended "Hope for Haiti" in the Carl Fields Center of Princeton University to remember the victims of the Haiti earthquake last January 12, 2010.  The event was alternatively filled with grief and joy.  Young girls shared their traumatic stories of living through the earthquake.  Students read touching poems.  Some sang.  Others danced.  Everyone ate the amazing Haitian food.

Through the tears, people vouched once again not only to remember the tragedy but also to help lift Haiti to its feet.  I highly recommend watching these two videos:

1) This video called "Haiti Get Back Up" is shot by a Haitian cinematographer supported by a Dominican orchestra.  It follows Haiti before, during, and after the earthquake.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zq0o4GkZVgA

2) This video is by Foundation for Peace and talks about their new goals for Haiti.  I love this video because I've been to most of the places featured (the school, site for the water purification system, and the worship tent).  You can also see the people's desire to stay strong and build their community.

In other good news, we sold some of Sony's art pieces last night and will be wiring the money to him!

Additionally, Wendy from Foundation for Peace informed me that they've started hosting Spanish and English classes in the high school.  125 kids came the first week to attend these classes -- which are in addition to the normal school curriculum.  The numbers of people getting jobs with these important language skills will eventually jump due to their hard work.

Progress is slow, but it's happening.  There is indeed hope for Haiti.

Jan 9, 2011

Ironman St. George for Haiti

As some of you may know, my thirst for the next bigger and better athletic challenge has risen to a new level.  After completing the Philadelphia Marathon in 2009 and after qualifying for the Boston Marathon with a 3:38 in the Richmond Marathon in 2010 (with loyal friend Sarah Gerth'12 by my side each time), I have decided it's time to conquer the Ironman.

On May 7th 2011, I will head to Utah (with Sam Ritchie'09 this time around), and take on the 140.6 mile race.  Training began in earnest last week with some horribly freezing bike rides requiring chocolate chip cookies to keep me happy and plastic bags over my feet to keep them from freezing.  The 20mi/hr winds today combined with the 25 degree weather may sound epic, but I actually would have cried had my tear ducts not been frozen.  

That said, I am willing to endure not only for my pride, but this time for an awesome cause directly related to my Dale Fellowship project.  Each mile of my race will be dedicated to Haiti and the people who I met there.  I'm encouraging anyone who feels so inclined to donate five cents per mile of the race ($7.03) or ten cents per mile of the race ($14.06) I'll be suffering/having the time of my life.  All of the money fundraised will be sent to Foundation for Peace -- the organization with which I went to Haiti in August 2010.  Their current goals are to help stop cholera, support a trade school, and keep kids in school in the rural town of Fond Parisien (where I painted my mural).  Having seen them in action, I can't think of a more trustworthy or productive organization to give to.

In addition, under the heading Haiti, I'll keep you all updated on the training progress.  More stories are destined to unfold, especially as I carry my bike around to my different mural projects.  Just last week on the train to Metropark, I met a man named Pop from Philadelphia.  He expressed admiration for my bike and then asked for what I was using it.  I explained my goal and he exclaimed, "Well girl, you got heart. You're little, but you're gonna win."

Well, I then had to nicely explain that I wasn't going to win at all but that finishing was possible.  He didn't want to hear any of that.  "When you be climbing those hills," he said, "you just grit your teeth and think of Pop.  You think, Pop said I'm gonna win.  And then you win, girl.  That's how you do."

So Pop, here's your shout out.  Tomorrow when I hop on my bike and pray the next NJ snow storm doesn't hit early, I'm gonna grit my teeth and think "That's how I do."

Here's to athletics, Haiti, and supportive strangers on trains.